Staying in the Game

So, the week has finally arrived. I’m holding it together surprisingly well. Yesterday morning I was watching an episode of Bridezillas, and amidst those brides yells, screams, and demands, I began to wonder if possibly I just wasn’t taking this seriously enough. Then, one of the brides blew a gasket because she ran out of money before she had her nails done, had no plan for the reception hall set-up, and went off on her MOH the morning of the wedding. I decided that, probably, I actually have the right idea this week…

Now, this doesn’t mean I’m not running around with 52 million things on my to-do list. (Actually, the list is coming along quite nicely.) Plus there are all the little things that weren’t on the original list–things I need to pick up for the honeymoon, baby-sitting jobs that I couldn’t pass up, and a job interview. (That’s all I’m saying about the interview. I refuse to jinx myself.)

It seems fitting at this point in the game to look back at my first blog entry. (Being the adoring, dedicated readers that you are, I’m sure you didn’t even have to click back on that link, as you have it completely memorized from all the re-reading you’ve done over the past three months.) Even amidst all this craziness that comes with having less than five days (FIVE DAYS!) left until the wedding, I am still trying to keep my focus on the most important part of the day–my relationship with B.

A few weeks ago, when we were looking over the schedule of the wedding day, we decided to forego the tradition of not seeing each other until the Big Moment when I walk towards him down the aisle. After talking with some friends who recently got married, we decided to do what I believe they call a Private Reveal instead. How it’ll work is that about 1.5 hours before the wedding, B will stand, in his tux, at the altar, and on the count of three (okay, I don’t know if anyone’s actually going to count), we’ll turn around and he’ll see me walking down the aisle toward him. Then, we get to take about half an hour to just talk and be excited together about our big day. This will be the only time we get to spend alone all day, and in making this decision, I realized it was important in keeping the focus in the right place that day.

Until that half hour, we’ll be rushing to and fro amongst our vendors, packing for Hawaii, and trying to squeeze in as much family time as possible. (Well, okay, and after that half hour too!)

Dousing Old Flames

As we get closer and closer to the wedding date, I find myself pondering the commitment we’re about to make. Every time I thought I had it figured out before then, I turned out to be completely wrong. (Cue Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road”.)

I started out with the right idea in middle school, when I went for the nice guy. However, he was a little too nice–I quickly got tired of holding hands timidly during movies, and was soon swept up into a whirlwind romance with an older man (yes, he was in high school). However, this Spring Break romance didn’t last long past my first kiss on the cruise ship. That summer, there was the guy from camp. But, we lived half an hour apart and had to depend on our parents to cart us to and from dates, so that didn’t last too long. As sophomore year began, so did my far-too-long tumultuous romance with the debater. Late-night phone calls, controlling parents, and sneaking around satisfied the drama I craved at this point in my life, and lasted through most of my high school career. During our off-seasons, there was the airplane guy, the band geek, and the co-worker. Freshman year of college I repeated the cycle; again, we had the nice guy and the older man (part 2), and then there was the fling (x3), and the mistake.

With the risk of sounding completely cliché, I’ll admit that I learned something from every episode of my dating life. After hitting rock bottom with the mistake, I knew that things were bound to change. I’d experienced a lot during my freshman year of college, and this time around, I knew what I was looking for. I had my eye on a certain Blockbuster Boy, and although our relationship felt like it was off to a rocky start, I soon realized that all those bits and pieces I’d been drawn to in those other guys throughout the years had culminated in my Blockbuster Boy. 

When I hear other people reminisce about old relationships, or talk about re-kindling an old flame, I feel so grateful that I’m no longer in that position. It reminds me of the movie He’s Just Not That Into You–if it didn’t work out the first time, 98% of the time, it’s not going to work out subsequent times, either. And those 2% of old relationships that somehow become successful? Those are the exceptions. Instead of holding onto those memories as false hope, I wish more women would use them as learning tools. I know it’s easier said than done, but I also think it’s a matter of self-respect.

And, suddenly, I didn’t miss any of those past relationships. I spent too much time missing these guys, wondering how I’d messed up, wishing for things that would never happen. Now, I find myself rolling my eyes at the political Facebook statuses from the debater. I applaud the airplane guy, who serves our country overseas. I occasionally catch up with the guy from camp for lunch or a cup of coffee. The fling and the mistake? Yeah, I un-friended them.

Warm Feet

A few nights ago, just as we were falling asleep, I looked over at B and– Omigosh! I thought. Did I even think this through? This is a huge decision. Am I too young for this? Do I really want to be with him for the rest of my life? Or do I just want to get married? Will I miss out on something else–something better?

While these thoughts poured into my head, I have no doubt that the look on my face was anything but picture-worthy. Hold on, Katie, calm down. I took a deep breath. And, luckily, it all came back to me. The way B had cleaned up my skinned knees and palms after I fell running recently; our hysterical laughter throughout the aisles of Target that afternoon over absolutely nothing; the dinners we’ve shared together in our new home over the past month; relaxing on the couch together after a long day of tornado sirens with kindergartners at work. Not to mention the support I had in B when I went through a really tough time last summer; the beautiful roses he brought home this week; how I’ve only had to run/empty the dishwasher once since we moved into our apartment; coming home to clean laundry on a day when I was absolutely exhausted. Remembering these things, I rolled over, kissed B’s cheek, and fell asleep–absolutely assured.

We’re down to just 13 days!

Quotes: Be Gone!

Scroll through my first twenty-ish posts so far, and you’ll notice that I established a routine of heading each entry with a quote. Specifically, a quote about marriage, relationships, etc. (A quote about the theme of my blog! Go figure.) However, I’ve decided this tradition needs to be cut short.

I’ve been pretty disappointed with the overwhelmingly negative quotes I’ve been finding on the subject of marriage. Sarcasm, bitterness, and all around anti-matrimony prevail in any Google search for “quotes about marriage” or “marriage quotes”. Some of the most common search returns?

“I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.” ~ Rita Rudner
“Divorce: The past tense of marriage.” ~ Author unknown
“Valentine’s Day is when a lot of married men are reminded what a poor shot Cupid really is.” ~ Author unknown
“Three rings of marriage are the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering.” ~ Author unknown
“Bigamy is having one husband or wife too many. Monogamy is the same.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“Marriage means commitment. Of course, so does insanity.” ~ Author unknown

“I never knew what real happiness was until I got married. And by then it was too late.” ~ Max Kauffman

“Wedding rings: the world’s smallest handcuffs.” ~ Author unknown
Okay, don’t think I have no sense of humor. But reading these every day while scrolling through looking for a quote applicable to my most recent blog entry was beginning to be quite a downer for a bride-to-be less than three months away from her wedding. I know that there might be some truth to some of the statements. And I know that a marriage needs some humor in it to succeed. But I’m just not sure these “jokes” are what I want my marriage based on. (I found it ironic that so many of these negative thoughts were from unknown authors–maybe somebody would be a little embarrassed if their spouse found out what they were saying behind their back?!)
Here are some of the few I found that I hope someday do describe my marriage:
“What a happy and holy fashion it is that those who love one another should rest on the same pillow.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne
“Newlyweds become oldyweds, and oldyweds are the reasons that families work.”
“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” ~ Mignon McLaughlin
“In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage.” ~ Robert Anderson

“There is no such cozy combination as man and wife.” ~ Menander

“In the opinion of the world, marriage ends all, as it does in comedy. The truth is precisely the opposite: it begins all.” ~ Anne Sophie Swetchine

“In a time when nothing is more certain than change, the commitment of two people to one another has become difficult and rare. Yet, by its scarcity, the beauty and value of this exchange have only been enhanced.” ~ Robert Sexton

“There is no substitute for the comfort supplied by the utterly taken-for-granted relationship.” ~ Iris Murdoch

And, lastly, one of my favorite bloggers sums it up well in this letter to her boyfriend (You should really take a second to read the whole letter. It’s adorable.): 

“In today’s society people choose a spouse and a have a lawn guy (or a physical trainer or a pool boy) on the side. But you see, I want my cake and wanna eat it too. Sure you are my legal spouse. But people don’t understand that you are also my boytoy. You are the guy that I chose almost one year ago. And you are the guy that I will choose tomorrow. But let’s be honest, we live in a society that says husbands are not the same as being one’s boyfriend.”
~ Katie Bower

I don’t plan to have a stereotypical marriage where I complain because he doesn’t do anything and he feels secretly bitter towards me. I’m sure that nobody goes into a marriage expecting a relationship such as that (or maybe they do?), but from the looks of what society feels is a funny–or even an okay–portrayal of marriage, we have accepted marriage as a constant state of bitterness. Sitcoms, movies, books, magazines–single and free is fun and exciting. Marriage? Blech. Leave it for the bitter old people who are sneaking around behind their spouses backs getting it on with the neighbor’s out-of-town guests.

When B and I decided that we wanted to be together for the rest of our lives, we agreed to enter into a partnership. We agreed to support each other through thick and thin, and to me, that means something.

I was relieved to see a quote in my browsing from the philosopher whom B reads, quotes, and values endlessly:

“Marriage: that I call the will of two to create the one who is more than those who created it.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche 

So, to sum up my incessant ramblings, I will no longer be subscribing to the format I originally created. I will be supporting a positive viewpoint of marriage; one that reinforces the vows I’ll be pledging in 84 days. And, although you might see a quote pop up here and there, I’ll be retiring my Quote Garden bookmark from my Firefox toolbar.

I Have to Share a Closet?!

“I like my money right where I can see it… hanging in my closet.”

~ Sarah Jessica Parker 

After you get engaged, all the imminent changes slowly begin to sink in. Exciting, positive changes–like moving in together,growing old together, and getting to wear a sparkly ring (more about that here). But also some that are a little scarier—like paying our own auto insurance and buying our own groceries (right now we eat at my parents’ house almost every night). 

However, the one that scares me the most (and the inspiration for the name of my blog) has been that after we get married… I’m going to have to share a closet. This may seem trivial to most, but to me it’s absolutely petrifying.

Growing up as the only kid in my family, I’ve not only had my own room and closet, but also, for the past 10 years, my own floor of the house. The other two upstairs rooms are officially entitled “The Bunk Bed Room” and “The Guest Room,” but to me they mean “Extra Closet” and “Extra Floor Space.” The closets, available for storing rarely-worn outfits, formal dresses, coats, etc., and the carpets, available for sorting ungodly amounts of dirty laundry, have served as enablers for someone with an innate pack-rat addiction.

My shopping habit, in combination with my pack-rat tendencies, created a problem over the years–I owned too much crap. I’ve literally just scoured my photograph archives, trying to find proof of the astronomical amount of clothes that were stuffed into my closet, but couldn’t find evidence. Really, that says something right there–I purposely closed my closet door in every single picture I ever took in my bedroom.

Because I’m a naturally-defensive person when it comes to my individual faults, I do have to point out that after losing a fairly substantial amount of weight, I was in desperate need of new clothes… (three years ago). However, I can no longer depend on this excuse. I’ve maintained my new size long enough that it’s time to get rid of my old clothes, and put the brakes on the shopping frenzy.

It took me three full days and two van-loads of over-stuffed trash bags, but finally I’ve condensed my wardrobe enough that it at least fits in my walk-in closet. (Yeah, it was that bad.)

Here were my criteria for keeping or donating:

1. If I hadn’t worn it in the past year, donate it.
2. If the last three times I’d put it on, I’d taken it off because a) I couldn’t find anything to wear it with or b) I felt fat or frumpy, donate it.
3. If it was more than 5 years old, donate it.

By adhering to these “rules,” I took my wardrobe down to one plastic crate of T-shirts (from four), six skirts, six dresses, one pair each of brown pants, black pants, pinstripes, and khakis, etc. I wrote these numbers down, and made another rule for myself:

When I buy something, it’s a replacement.

For example, if I buy new skinny jeans, I have to donate my old skinny jeans. If I buy a new fancy dress, I have to donate one old fancy dress.

Having accomplished such a huge task, I feel much more under control of my closet. It may sound silly, but I also feel much more in control of my life. My closet is one of the first places I step each morning, and stepping into an organized, simplified space helps the rest of my day to feel organized and simplified.

In addition, I now feel prepared to put my wardrobe next to B’s in our new closet (although he’s already agreed that I’ll be using 1.5 of the 2 closets available in our new apartment).

I’d like to think that my dedication to clearing out my wardrobe is analogous of my preparation for marriage. Everyone brings a certain amount of baggage, weaknesses, etc. to a relationship. A relationship takes work, and the first step is realizing that you are not perfect, and working to take the steps necessary to change. So far, I’ve managed to do that with my closet–let’s see what else I can accomplish in the next three months to make my marriage a little easier and a lot happier 🙂

Life at the End of the Tunnel

What a happy and holy fashion it is that those who love one another should rest on the same pillow.  

~Nathaniel Hawthorne

Yesterday marked the official four-month mark of the countdown to the wedding. While I’m beyond excited to rally our 250 closest family and friends for a weekend of celebrating our future life together, I must admit that for me, the four-month mark is really a milestone on the countdown to living together.

At this point, I’m just so ready to be married. We’ve spent the last 14 months planning our life together–down to the bedspread we see in our future bedroom and the silverware from which we’ll eat our oatmeal–and I’m ready to put it into play.

Currently, I’m living at my parents’ house while B lives in a small one-bedroom about 10 minutes away. The situation is not bad, by any means. It makes sense financially, I have a great relationship with my parents, and we survived three years of living 3.5 hours apart, so 10 minutes is nothin’.

But now, we’re at that point where we’re ready to be married; we feel married. But eating dinner at my parents’ table and watching TV in their living room doesn’t.


Focused on the Prize

In the opinion of the world, marriage ends all, as it does in a comedy.  The truth is precisely the opposite:  it begins all.

~Anne Sophie Swetchine
Fourteen months ago I was jumping up and down in front of a guy on bended knee. Luckily, I knew the guy. And even more luckily, he was holding out in front of him a sparkly piece of jewelry and asking me to wear it for the rest of my life. You never really know how you’re going to get engaged, and if you’re anything like I was as B and I neared the two-year anniversary of our first date, you spend an awful lot of time thinking about it. But allow me to let you in on a little secret, for those of you who haven’t experienced it yet: it doesn’t matter how it happens. What does matter, is that however he does it (or she does it), it’s a moment that the two of you share and will remember for the rest of your lives. 

After breaking the big news to every contact in my cell phone and every friend on Facebook, I spent the next few days extremely distracted by the gem I now sported on my left hand. I found myself using an exceptional amount of hand gestures, and deemed it necessary to start wearing driving gloves–not because I was channeling my inner Audrey, but because I was blinded by the sparkle on the steering wheel. It wasn’t long, though, before reality set in and I realized that planning a wedding was more than just flipping through bridal magazines, sipping champagne while scrutinizing white gowns, and booking a luxurious honeymoon. I began to feel bogged down by the details; although the 200+ to-do list provided by theknot is extremely helpful (and the website is where I found the majority of my vendors!), it’s also incredibly daunting.

One thing you’ll quickly learn, though, when planning a wedding, is that everyone has a piece of advice. (I hear it’s a lot like having kids.) Everyone has fond memories of their own wedding, and so assumes that’s how everyone should do it. (On a side note, can you imagine how mind-numbingly boring it would be if everyone had a perfectly traditional wedding??) Anyway, I was fortunate to come across a friend who had a piece of legitly wise advice. She said to me: “You know, everyone spends all this time preparing for one wedding day, and forgets to make time to prepare for a lifetime of marriage.”

I was flabbergasted (okay, maybe not flabbergasted, but how cool is it to use that word?). And it was at that moment that I changed my outlook on this stage of my life. Since then, B and I have been focusing on the marriage as opposed to the wedding. We’re still having a wedding–one that I like to say is “medium-sized”, but in reality is sliding towards the “large” end of the spectrum–so we obviously have a lot of the mundane details to dredge through. But along the way, we strive to stay connected to our goal. Because, after all, no matter how the wedding day turns out (whether there’s rain, forgotten hair appointments, bear cubs wrestling in the aisles…) we’ll still be married at the end of it, and that was the goal.
This blog, then, will become my journal for what has been the most eye-opening time of my life, to date. Expect to read of lessons learned, decisions made, and funny anecdotes. My hope is that someone in the whole, wide blogosphere will learn from, feel connected to, or at least get a good laugh from my records.