Monthly Archives: December 2008

An improvement from the last

“2008 really couldn’t be any worse, could it? There isn’t anywhere else to go but up.” – Me, December 31, 2007

Another year gone by. A year filled with many transitions, and a great many more lessons. I remember ending last year and beginning this one on a slightly happier note, because I had sorted some parts of my life out and I was looking forward to the change that I had so badly needed, and because my life had a new addition that, although very new at that point, had given me reason to smile again after a long time.

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to say, “It was a good year.” In reality it kind of was; not estatically great, but not so bad that I would wake up wondering what the point of waking up was, the way I did last year. There were the hard times: packing to ship my life home, packing to move to Boston, and then finally packing to come back home, leaving behind the life, the places and the people I had loved for so long, and adapting to a new life in a different part of the world without the presence of one whom I had long grown used to and had to learn to live without.

There were moments when I felt like giving up, days when I got out of bed feeling in my bones that I wanted to run away, back to the life I’d had to give up, days when I didn’t want to get out of bed because I just didn’t see the point of doing so, nights when I lay awake and turned everything over and over in my head until I wanted to physically stamp the memories out.

But then there were the good times: welcoming my godson into the world — probably the closest I will ever get to having my own children — knowing that I would give up my life for him, going through an intense and life-changing five weeks in Boston, where I met people whom I can’t imagine never having met, reestablishing old friendships after a three-year hiatus, and practically falling into a job that I surprisingly like.

And there was that feeling: that feeling of knowing that come hell or high water, I had to will every fiber of my being to just hold on, that feeling of quiet pride when I told myself, “You’ve come this far, what’s a little further?”, and that feeling of anticipation that came with holding on to my faith and the belief that at some point everything would be all right. It was a feeling that I hadn’t felt in a very long time, that was never present at all last year.

So what if I had struggled for the life I wanted last year? So what if I eventually had to learn to let go of that life, coming into this year? So what if I had to pick up the pieces of a broken heart all over again — even though it was my fault — the way I did last year? The lessons I learned from those troubles would stay with me longer than the heartache would.

Back in January, Kate, my last tattoo artist in Buffalo, told me, “Sometimes it’s good to get a chance to regroup and think about your next step in life. Granted going all the way home to regroup is a little farther than you’d like, but there’s always something waiting for you regardless of where you go. If you tried to go to another country to teach, you might not make it as a teacher, but you could end up doing something bigger and better. If you’re going home mainly to regroup, you could end up doing something you’ve always wanted to do in a place you never imagined you’d be doing it. The memories you have now could be nothing compared to the memories you’re about to get.”

She was right.

It was a good year.

Sheer dumb luck


This deserves a post of its own. It’s very rare that the both of us look semi-decent in a photo together.

– Taken at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Sunday, December 28, 2008 –

Lessons from Bridezilla


Now that Bridezilla Weekend is over, it’s time to take an enormous breath and thank the gods that no one suffered a broken neck over the last 56 hours.

I guess I should backtrack: I just attended a wedding as part of the bridal party for the first time since coming back here. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never been a fan of weddings, much less wedding dinners, especially of the circus variety, and — after this past weekend — especially if the bride is an overbearing, simpering little diva who insists on making it one big freak show.

I know I have no call to be taking on so, considering it was her day and the one day when all cynicism and scorn for the ostentatious should be suppressed to the best of my (and Becca’s) ability. She once mentioned that since she was the first among us to get married, we could learn from her and put that education towards planning our own weddings in the future. It took all of my willpower to hold my tongue and not say that if nothing else, I learned how not to become Bridezilla.

Plan ahead. Even if you have only three months to plan your wedding, a good, feasible plan and maybe the help of a wedding planner will ensure your hair remains on your head. I find that making lists is the best way to plan for big events like this (not because I’ve ever had to plan a wedding, but because I pretty much make lists for everything in my life and I find they help keep me organized). Eliminate the word ‘perfect’ from your vocabulary.

Put aside your pride/vanity/ego. This is not the time to be nursing and bolstering any of those, even if you value them above all else. If you want advice, don’t hesitate to ask, be it from your friends or family; people have their own lives to get on with, and they will assume you have everything down pat if they don’t hear from you. However, if you don’t ask, then don’t kick up a fuss and act surprised and wounded when the results — and disgruntled faces — aren’t what you were hoping for. And if you do ask for help or advice, accept it willingly and with an open mind; it’s absolutely no point asking if you know from the get-go that you’ll end up doing things your own way.

Keep your demands to a minimum. Everyone knows it’s your big day,  and everyone knows it only happens (hopefully) once in a lifetime, but nobody’s going to notice how elaborate and extravagant your wedding is unless it borders on Vegas-meets-Broadway, nobody cares if you don’t have a red carpet for the reception, and nobody’s going to know that you went against superstition by appointing two divorcées as bridesmaids. Keep your priorities straight: make a list (see, I can’t get enough of the lists) of the things you absolutely MUST have, and keep it short. This will prevent you from becoming so confused with the 1001 things that you want to happen that you end up shrieking at everyone like a banshee; God knows there’s nothing tackier than a verbally aggressive (and drunken) bride.

Articulate your desires. Be clear about what you want, and be sure everyone understands why you want it; they would be more than happy to accommodate you if you were upfront because it saves time. If said dress is what you want your bridesmaids to wear, stick to that decision and work from there. Don’t  go back and forth between One Dress and One Color, because it takes time to shop for dresses, and nobody wants to be running pell-mell around town looking for a store that sells eight of the same dress in the same size or a purple dress that won’t make them look too much like an eggplant.

Maintain (or at least gain) perspective. It’s not all about what you see in the mirror, but what everyone else around you sees that you refuse to. Be polite and delegate duties, without sounding as though you’re imposing your wishes on everyone and it’s a given that they help out. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment and think about how you would want to be helping out for a wedding: willing and somewhat excited, or irritated and under duress.

Look beyond your wedding. This is the most important lesson of all. Regardless of why you’re really getting married, if you lose sight of the relationship — and the consequences — that will follow the wedding, chances are your marriage won’t survive much beyond the honeymoon. This wedding is about you and your fiancé, and (hopefully) the rest of your lives, together.

Oh, and this is entirely for your own good: find a dress that fits.