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!

Alone-Together Time

It seems to surprise people when they find out I’m an introvert. I often get a, “Nooooooo…” in response, as a matter of fact. People at work always say, “But you’re so happy all the time!” As though they would know better than I do. And as though all introverts walk around in a cloudy, gray bubble of depression. But I think the real discrepancy comes in the fact that these people don’t understand what being an introvert or an extrovert really means.

Shy people are often described as “introverted” and outgoing people as “extroverted.” This is the definition I myself knew, until a couple of years ago in a graduate class when we took the Meyers-Briggs Personality Test. No matter your feelings on the accuracy of the test, it was helpful for me to understand the different characteristics listed, and examine the actions of myself and others within that perspective.

This professor of mine explained that introverts are energized by being alone and drained of energy by being around other people. Extroverts, on the other hand, is a person who is energized by being around other people. (I verified this information just now on about.com. That’s right–find a more credible source. I dare you.)

This new information just clicked with me (actually, since we’re on a psychology path here, I assimilated this information easily into my existing schemata). I had always wondered why, after a looooong, stressful week of school and work, I craved a night in with my Instant Netflix, but my roommate was ready to party.

The times that I did join in with the festivities left me feeling even more exhausted and counting down the minutes until 11pm, which I deemed the earliest point at which I could go home.

It also helped explain why, after a weekend trip with the family, I absolutely had to remove myself to my bedroom and spend an evening painting my nails and listening to music instead of watching a movie with my parents. (On this particular night, my dad actually barged into my room at about 10pm because he was “worried” about me–I think he thought my introversion was a suicidal sign. I assured him it was not.)

This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy myself around other people. I do, and I am outgoing and social–as long as I’ve already had that time to myself to recharge my batteries.

This revelation wasn’t long after B and I had become serious, and I started to worry about what this meant for me in a relationship. How could I ever live with somebody? How could I ever have someone else around 24/7 and avoid snapping at them and being downright rude like I’d been to my parents when I lived in their house?


Although it took some time, those worries have finally abated. As I got to know B better, I realized that he, too, was an introvert. Although he’s never taken the Meyers-Briggs test that I took, I’ve observed (and we’ve discussed) that he, too, energizes with alone time. What’s even more fantastic, is that over the past four years, I’ve come to the point where time that is spent with B relaxing together at home, whether that’s reading, watching Netflix, or playing a video game, can also be re-charging for me. I call it our “alone-together” time. I think that’s one of the ways I really knew that B and I could make this commitment to be married. As an introvert, I’d finally found someone that I could energize with–or, at least, that didn’t drain my energy source.

“Alone-together” time is still something we have to work at. Since I’m still living at my parents’ house, our time in the evenings is limited, and we sometimes find ourselves feeling pressured to “do something” during those times–go out for a drink, watch a movie, have ice cream, etc. We’ve talked about how in order for two introverts to successfully live with one another, we’ll have to practice our “alone-together” time even more–those times when we’re both at home, but B is vegging out in front of the TV watching basketball while I’m catching up on my favorite blogs on my computer.


Lastly, I’ve been pondering this: Do couples work best if their introvert-introvert or extrovert-extrovert? How does an extrovert-introvert couple both maintain their sanity as well as their relationship? What do you think?

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

You know the story of how we met.

And you know the story of our first date.

And you know the story of our proposal… oh, wait, I actually haven’t told you that one yet, but no worries, it’s coming.

But I haven’t told you the in-between. And a lot happens between a first date and a proposal. Well, a lot happened for us between a first date and a proposal, anyway. If you’re like my parents, who were engaged within six weeks, or some friends of ours, who were engaged within three months, maybe that part of your story isn’t as long. But for us it was.

I’d like to tell you that everything was smooth-sailing between May 23, 2007 (our first date) and December 23, 2009 (our engagement), but that would be a lie. We didn’t have any ground-breaking fights or do any of that back-and-forth “we’re together, now we’re not” stuff. But we did have our differences. If it weren’t for the advice of my older cousin Jenny, who told me that “All guys have quirks,” I’m not sure we’d still be together.


After the big Shrek the Third night, B didn’t call for three days. On day one, I figured he was living by the old adage of waiting at least 24 hours. On day two, I started to get a little disappointed. By day three, I was convinced I was never going to hear from him again. And, actually, this continued for the rest of the summer. Each time I’d reach the point when I was sure he’d lost interest and moved on, my phone would ring. Why didn’t I call him myself? You’ll remember I was living by a new philosophy; I was trying to prove to B (and to myself) that I could be a GWTFEG (go-with-the-flow-easy-going) kind of gal. And in my mind, waiting for his call was part of that game.

Quirk #2 was a little problem that B seemed to have with time. It wasn’t rare for him to say he’d “stop by after work,” (which, to me, meant 5:30 or 6:00pm), then not show up until 8 or 9pm. Looking back, I’m honestly surprised I put up with that. Anyone who knows me is probably pretty surprised themselves. Maybe it was because of my GWTFEG strategy, maybe it was all the build-up of dating Blockbuster Boy, or maybe I was just allowing myself to be a doormat–but either way, I’m glad I stuck it out.


As we neared the fateful day in August, when I’d be moving back to Kirksville for another year of school, and he’d remain in KC, I knew we were going to have to have The Conversation. Somehow, we’d gone the whole summer without ever actually defining our relationship. Oh, believe me, I wanted to. I wanted to baaaaaad. But, GWTFEG girls don’t worry about that sort of thing, so I pretended I wasn’t worried either.

However, another wise woman I know helped me to realize that this wasn’t really fair to myself. “You have a right to know,” she said. “You have a right to lay down some ground rules and establish some guidelines. It’s only fair, and it’s only safe.” 


It finally came down to three days before I was moving. Just as we were parting after an evening spent watching Dave Chappelle’s stand-up comedy (B’s choice, not mine), I decided I needed to brave the topic. It went something like this:


Me: “So, you know I’m leaving for Kirksville in three days.”
B: “Yeah, I know. I’m really going to miss you.”
Me: “So, what do you wanna do when I leave?”
B: “Well, I’ll see you whenever you come home.”
Me: “Okay.”
B: “I really like you, I just don’t want you to miss out on anything at school.” (Sounds like a line from He’s Just Not That Into You, right?)
Me: “Okay.”


B left that night, and I went upstairs to get ready for bed, a little upset, but not really all that surprised. For some reason, this was my luck with guys. I never seemed to have a shortage of guys wanting to hang out, go on dates, etc., but when it came time to actually commit? Not interested.


I was brushing my teeth, wallowing in my despair at losing Blockbuster Boy, when my cell phone rang.


B: “Can I take it back?”
Me: “What?”
B: “Can I take it back?”
Me: “Okay.”
B: “I don’t know what I was thinking. I really like you.”
Me: “I really like you, too.”
B: “But if we’re going to do this, we have to really do it. We both have to be in it 100%. I just don’t want to mess around.”
Me: “Me either.”
B: “So, we’re going to do this?”
Me: “Sounds like it.”

At this point, we hung up the phone, and I tore down the stairs, toothbrush still in hand. “We’re staying together!!!!” I shrieked as I felt into my parents’ room.

After that phone call, it was honestly like a switch was flipped. B resolved both Quirk #1 and Quirk #2 without me even having to ask. It was like dating a whole new guy–Mr. Committed. (Not that he doesn’t have quirks now. It’s still true that all guys have quirks. It’s all about whether or not those quirks are dealbreakers.)

Two Cooks in the Kitchen

One thing B and I love to do is try a new recipe. When I was living in Kirksville and he’d drive up to visit for a weekend, we’d almost always try a new recipe. That’s how we discovered one of our all time faves–a de-calorified version of Chicken Pot Pie from Hungry Girl (P.S. If you try this one, I use canned chicken to make it even easier). Hungry Girl is an old standby recipe source, but recently we’ve been turning to the Taste of Home Comfort Food Diet cookbook. My best friend gave it to me for Christmas, swearing that I’d love it, and she’s right. So far, we’ve tried seven or eight of the recipes and they’ve all been a huge hit. The new Family Classics Collection is definitely on my wish list, as well.

We’ve had less opportunities to cook for ourselves recently, as I’m living with my parents (and if my mom’s going to cook, we might as well eat her food!), and B stocks his fridge like any 26-year-old bachelor (the last time I opened his fridge he had beer, bagels, and barbecue sauce). But last Sunday night, my parents were eating with friends, and the weather was 75-degrees, so we treated ourselves to a new recipe enjoyed on the screened-in porch.


The meal was Roasted Vegetable Linguine with Torn Fresh Basil from Vegetarian Times magazine (no, neither of us are vegetarians, but we love lots of veggies, so I scope their website for recipes!). It calls for white wine, and since Rachel Ray says she would never cook with a wine she wouldn’t drink, we enjoyed opening a bottle and sipping a glass while we roasted the veggies.





One thing that I’ve come to learn about myself is that I definitely have some difficulty surrendering control. But, B has convinced me that he is capable of helping me in the kitchen. And, although I like to give him a hard time about how long it takes him to do simple cooking tasks, I not only have learned to appreciate the help, but I really enjoy the time we spend cooking together. Plus, it meshes with my resolution of being GWTFEG.

See? I let him cut vegetables.

And what a fine job he did! Don’t you just love the look of fresh vegetables? All those bright colors. What a great summery dish 🙂

 I loved our Sunday night dinner. And it was the perfect way to spend an evening together before B’s business trip.




The Realm of Harry Potter Dorkitude

I mentioned that B and I had spent part of our Arts and Crafts Night working on our costumes for a Harry Potter-themed party we were attending in the near future. Well, the near future came and went last Friday night. The party was hosted by some good friends (and fellow blogger), one of whom decided to ring in her 26th year HP-style.

B and I are both long-time HP fans. Actually, the summer we started dating, I knew B really cared about me when he read the entire newly-released seventh book in one weekend. (I read it in one night… but it’s not a competition…) Since then, we’ve seen every movie the day it came out, and have each re-read the books (and then dissected them together) multiple times. So, this HP party was right up our alley. And we were able to hold our own in a night of trivia games amongst other die-hard fans (even though Charades is not B’s forte).

After much deliberation (B really wanted to go as Dobby), we chose to go as Gryffindor Quidditch players–Katie Bell and Oliver Wood, to be specific.


I designed a little sumpthin’-sumpthin’ on Photoshop, and we printed two copies onto transfer paper:

Imagine this is rotated 90-degrees clockwise–long story short, my free Photoshop trial ran out and I’m waiting for my shipment of the real thing to get here before I can edit photos again.
Take note of the little “Quidditch League” emblem we included–they ended up on the sleeves like a jersey 🙂


After two failed attempts on my part (1. forgetting to remove the backing from the iron-on, and basically ironing the design to a piece of paper, and 2. choosing to iron on a cutting board that we only thought was heat-resistant, and thereby fusing one T-shirt to a white plastic cutting board), we successfully created the following:


Quick, easy, and painless (well, except for the two fails mentioned above), and we had attire for our HP party. Not to mention that any party that allows me to attend in stretchy pants and tennis shoes is OK by me.

A Lonely Me, A Lonely You

This week feels like a throwback to my college years. Not because I’m staying up until 2am, sleeping ’til 10am, or spending the day in my sweatpants (I wish!), but because B and I are, once again, separated by a three-hour drive.

I’ve mentioned before that B and I did the long-distance thing from 2007-2010, while I went to school in Kirksville, MO and B resided at home in KC. I spent those three years dreading Sundays (when we’d go to our separate states) and living for Fridays (when we were finally reunited). Last night felt like one of the old Sundays. I made us dinner, we watched a couple episodes of Dexter… it was a nice night except for the omnipresence of dread for our goodbye.

I remember when I traveled abroad in Spain for an entire summer in 2008. 







(Oh, oops! Those just slipped right in there.)
 
B and I had been dating a year at this time, and although we both knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I couldn’t pass up, the distance was horrible. I’d never missed somebody so badly that it physically hurt, but I remember moments when the feeling was almost unbearable. It was the little things I missed. One day, after a month or so of being abroad, I realized I hadn’t been hugged since B dropped me off at the airport in KC. I don’t think another person had intentionally touched me in all that time–and don’t make this gross, I don’t even just mean in a sexual way. There’s something just sad about that.

It’s just a four-day conference in Wichita, KS. But my evenings don’t felt right without him. I’m just grateful he only travels once a year. I look at these young couples whose job require monthly travel (or even more often!) and I don’t know how they do it. Without B around, I just don’t feel right. He’s my “other half”. Heck, I even miss him when we’re both at work for the day!

Looking forward to Thursday…

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.


Our Big Night Out

“I think we are a product of all our experiences.”
~ Sanford I. Weill
 
(And I think relationships are a product of all our shared experiences.) 

One thing B and I have always been really good about is treating ourselves to a night out. (Not that it’s really that big of a sacrifice!) Our most recent Big Night Out was to see Rascal Flatts this past Sunday night at the Sprint Center in KC (where ungodly ticket prices prevail). B gifted me the tickets for graduation back in December. We’d been to see the Flatts once before, and even though country music is definitely more my thing than B’s, we both had really enjoyed the show.

So, we donned our concert apparel, and headed downtown.

B sporting his new blazer and me in my ever-so-fashionable tuxedo vest

We had planned on eating at McFadden’s (their club sandwich on wheatberry bread is one of my faves), but it turned out to be crazy-busy for a Sunday night. Plus, they don’t have a waiting list; you’re just expected to hover around people eating their food, ready to pounce on whatever seat becomes available. Not really our style on a Big Night Out.

So, we headed off to Gordon Biersch instead, where we shared a scrumptious Hawaiian pizza.


When we made our way over to the Sprint Center, we stopped to pose with the lighted Flatts displays before venturing inside.

Besides just wanting to share fun pictures of our Big Night Out, I’m writing this post because I think it’s so important to take time as a couple and do something that feels like a real treat. There are so many things that I value about our relationship, and this is one of them. I love that B and I often spend money on “experiential” gifts. (No, not experimental gifts.) A gift of an evening spent dressed up and out on the town creates a shared experience–a memory that we can look back to in the future.