A journey through my mind. Which is sometimes fabulous. Often not.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Angst

Ahhh, dear reader (myself),
It has been a super long time since my last post about Wall-E. And that wasn't even a real post with my own thoughts. Naughty me.

Speaking of naughty, it's almost Christmas and I've not yet begun shopping. Sure, I went out to the shops, but mainly bought things for myself. Naughty me. But I just couldn't pass up the $19 Brass Plum teal stilettos at Nordstrom Rack, now could I? And I couldn't buy those for anyone I know. Or shoes in general for that matter.

So. I've been busy in my head (as always) and haven't blogged a bit about anything of substance. On the wedding front, we ordered and received our invitations. I ordered and received my dress; and it's in the alterations shop as we speak. Our "no wedding planning" plan for November/December kind of went bust because of the invitations and dress thing. And then the thought of all of it starting back up full force in January scares me so much that I want to take on some tasks now to spread it all out.

Here goes my infamous listing of Things To Do in chronological order (infamous to my small pool of readers, ahem, I mean, myself):

Monday, Dec. 8 (oh right, that's today): Dr.'s appt in the AM, Holiday party at 6.

Thursday, Dec. 14: Staff potluck lunch. I don't know what I'm bringing yet. I volunteered a main dish because I was out sick last week when people were getting dibs on bringing the easy stuff. I just couldn't think about food then.

Friday, Dec. 15: Farewell party for the smartest man I ever met. Good luck, Mitchell! (and it's Jane's birthday)

Saturday, Dec. 16: Help mom move entertainment center to uncle's house. Dinner with grandparents probably.

Thursday, Dec. 18: Bring Sammie and Speedie to my sister's house for weekend playdate.

Friday, Dec. 19: Head down to northern SD with Mom for one night stay. Going to visit some antique shops and bead stores along the way, if we can.

Saturday, Dec. 20: Wedding. All day affair. (aren't they usually? ;) ) Head back up to LA, drop off Mom, head to sister's house for a few days of babysitting.

Sunday, Dec. 21: My cousin in Boston flies in for a week.

Monday, Dec. 22 - Jan. 4: NO WORK!! WOOOHOOOO! But that just means more work at home and running errands for others. *sigh*

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve dinner and gift exchange with my family

Dec. 25: Christmas morning gift exchange with Ricklet's family (and our one year mark of being engaged!!!)

Dec. 30: New Year's Eve party. Assuming that we're invited somewhere. HA!

Coming up in January:
* My bday
* Ricklet's 30th bday (!!!!!)
* possible joint bday bash
* Engagement photo shoot
* Call Church wedding coordinator for all info we need
* Call Florist and choose flowers for Reception; ask about personal flowers
* Find Florist for personal flowers if Reception Florist doesn't work out
* Call Baker and set up appt for tasting, choose cake
* Call DJ (maybe) and fax him list of all songs, etc.
* 2nd deposit due to Reception site

Coming up in February:
* 2nd fitting
* Wedding shower
* Register for gifts
* Send out invitations

Things to do in general with no set due date except for "soon":
* Shop for and buy mulberry paper or other kind of paper to add layer to invitations
* Order bridesmaid dresses (REALLY SOON! EE!)
* Oh yeah, Christmas shopping
* Buy some tulle and make my own veil
* Squeeze in some time at Dland for mindless relief
* Moving ideas (that's a secret for the rest of the internet world until later)

My tummy hurts now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wall-e Redux

Wall-E is released to the general public today! WOOHOO! In honor of this happy occasion, I've decided to post the comment that was left in my original Wall-e character analysis posting. Many thanks goes to the Anonymous commenter, who was gratuitously much better at translating his/her emotions into words. (I post with assumed permission to re-post.)

" Anonymous said:
I completely agree with you about Wall E. I haven't been able to forget about this character, this movie. Everytime I think about him, or the last scene, I either cry or get choked up. I have thought about it a lot and I think it is powerful because of contrast.

The contrast to our experience today is stark: 700 years alone, a destroyed planet, a superficial world on the axiom devoid of connection and meaning, even robots. The hope for and final appearance of love for us, and for both of these characters is so powerful because of the bleakness and uphill challenges its is contrasted against.

Wall E is effective because there is so much fear, loss, pain, and sorrow within it. The joint appearance of new life and love is powerful because it offers a way out of darkness, away from our worst fears : that we will destroy and lose our home, our way of life, end up alone, without all that we love, and in doing so end up soul-less, media attached and fat, losing what makes us human: hope and love. For Wall E on Earth, however much he had grown used to and accepted despair/destruction of green earth, we feel sorry for him, almost guilty. The appearance of Eve and transformative love offers them and us a way out of a dystopian nightmare and the confirmation of our worst fears. Wall E is a look in the mirror. Even now we see ourselves disconnected from each other, like the people on the Axiom, and as Americans stuffed on prozac, we dream of such deep healing connections with people as Wall E experiences with Eve. We are as happy for love in this sci-fi setting as he is; with love and new life, an offer of redemption is given.

The appearance of a single plant as a source of hope is elegant and speaks to the human drive to survive and continue in the face of death and darkness. It is literally new life. Biologically, photothsynthesis and the appearance of life on earth is exceptional; a miracle and a beautiful anomale in the vast lonely universe of space. The deserted and destroyed setting of dystopian Earth in Wall E resembles primeval conditions on the planet before there was life: hostile, vast, and soulless. The plant represents the unlikely appearance of life as it has always appeared and continues to thrive in the bleakest of climates. Salvation and hope lie with a single plant, a reminder and proof of the miracle of life; when humans alter their perspective they see that their fate is intertwined with the fate of life on earth. Upon embracing this symbol of life, they are brought closer to one another and their planet, a manifestation of the health of humankind, is revitalized. As Wall E shows us in equal and perfect simplicity, so magically appears love despite obstacles. When Eve and Wall e embrace, after overcoming their obstacles as a pair, and after the Captain states “it’s good to be home” the camera pans over new green growth rengenerating all over the planet. The planet’s and humanity’s health and happiness is tied in this final minute to the cultivation of life and love.

Love in this film is like the symbol of the plant, a single ray of hope in a world without any. N0 matter how bleak, love lightens/brightens, eleviates pain. The moment of greatest fear is when it appears that Wall E has lost his soul, at this moment there is the sound of a hollow and determined wind blowing, the music stops. When he is resurrected we instantly hear a love song, coupled by the convergence of their newly formed robot community, and they hold each other close. When you have lost or have come close to losing the one you love, you know that the measure of love is how much pain you feel in its absence. Thus fully loving includes the painful awareness that you must hold on and fight to keep the thing you love because of all the sadness you will inevitably feel without it. Thats why I cry when I hear the love song in the last scene and see them put their heads against the others. Love is what motivated them to act unselfishly, love is what saved them from a bleak world, Love that, however beautiful and meaningful, cannot last and so is clung to with every breath. The comforting power of love is contrast against the devastation, carelessness, and towering tasks behind and in front of them, which despite the circumstances provides hope, healing, joy, and relief from pain.

I cling to this movie because it offers hope, even though sadly like love, Wall E is fleeting. When contemplating this movie I am emotionally close to all that matters most to me, to most people: love, mortality, a planet that needs healing, a sense of responsibility, and a profound appreciation for those things in life that reminds us of love's power, things that add beauty and hope(like films such as Wall e) . I want to stay in the place that this movie brings me. The reflection and empathy inspired by Wall E as well as a vision of horrible consequences of our selfishness as a culture, remind us how valuable the things we love are; the people, the places, the moments, our home Earth, the time we have and the role we play in making a difference (in one person's life: Wall E for Eve) and for the future of mankind (Wall E's many sacrifices). The choices and meaning of life are made clear and stark in Wall E. Personally, after watching this movie, I held the ones I loved a little bit tighter and joined the Nature Conservancy (no lie.) Now that is a testament to the power of the arts and living proof of why Pixar is so damned good at what they do.
-October 2, 2008 5:14 PM"

Now go out and buy/rent the movie! :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


(Melancholy music plays in background)
Forgive me, dear blogspot, for I have let you down. It has been 50 days since my last post.

Things that have happened since my last post:
September 6: Bridesmaid luncheon at Getty Restaurant. I was disappointed with the service and the food. It wasn’t the first time I had eaten there, and all previous meals were excellent and service was attentive. Maybe it was just an off day. Boys had lunch at Gordon Biersch and managed to rack up a larger bill that we did!

September 13: Went with my sister downtown to the garment district and scoured stores for wedding dresses. We were unlucky. And hot. Headed over to Alfred Angelo and found the dress we’ve been looking for. Had Family Dinner for the Harvest Moon Festival and Ricklet was welcomed. :)

September 24: Took grandma to the LA Fair.

September 26: Met Pam the photographer and booked her! Spent the rest of the day at Glen Ivy, where Rick and I hung out by the pools, took naps, and got a massage.

Sept 30: Got ramshackled on my left fender by a car next to me when attempting to make a right turn in the right lane. I give my statement and am in good humor about it all.

October 1 morning: My insurance company appraisers came to look at my damages.

October 1 afternoon: Gave my statement to the other insurance company. The agent then told me “this is partly your fault because you should have looked to your left.”

October 4: Met up with friends at the First Cabin to see Pat O'Brien. Realized time passes faster when there are people there to chat with. Nursed one drink and came to the realization that alcoholic drinks are now an undesirable beverage to my body.

October 7: Received a letter from the other insurance company stating that I am 100% at fault for failure to yield to their driver, who was "first in line to make the turn." MY BIG FAT A$$ SHE WAS FIRST! (*#$(&@!*&$%*&@!!!!!!!

October 8: Case goes to subrogation.

October 10: Tried on my Alfred Angelo dress again with mom, who racked up the potential bill with rhinestone clips, veils, tiaras, crinoline, you name it. Didn’t pay a dime yet, though.

October 12: Attended Raul and Kathleen’s baby shower and feasted on soft tacos made fresh by the catered taco guy. With "all the fixins" as Rick called it. ;)

October 14: Hooky day at Disneyland for my sister’s bday and Bella’s first trip EVER! This is what she looks like now...

October 18: Ordered our invitations! Checked into to Hotel Menage in Anaheim, lounged by the pool, watched clear cable TV channels and had the BEST steak ever in their restaurant, K’ya. Seriously. BEST medium-rare flat iron steak I’ve EVER had.

October 19: Woke up when it was still dark (well, I didn’t really sleep) and got ready for the CHOC Walk at Disneyland! Saw lots of characters, walked at a leisurely pace, and tried not to cry when we saw walkers we met last year whose child they were walking for had passed away this year. Read an article mentioning Janelle's Bells.

Things that I should have taken pictures of to post, as this WAS initially supposed to be a craft blog, after all:
1) Bridesmaid luncheon invitations – printed on cardstock with fun daisy font, finished with fun punched corners, mounted on yellow daisies paper, inserted in ~9 x 5" envelope, yellow daisy sticker on back flap.

2) Engagement brunch invitations – printed on Bazzill red scrapbook paper, mounted inside folded 8.5 x 11" gunmetal gray Bazzill cardstock, front cover design printed on silver cardstock and mounted on pearl Bazzill cardstock, finished off with matching eyelets.

3) Beginning of ring bearer pillow – sage green shantung base with darker green shantung used as ribbon for pillow. Re-design is in progress as the beginnings of sewing the "ribbon" on the pillow by hand revealed that a blind hemstitch was necessary and therefore way too difficult.

Coming up:
October 24: My clothes will visit the laundromat, and the apartment will be re-introduced to Miss Lysol and Mr. Vacuum.

October 25: Scrapbook Expo in Ontario with my sister.

October 26: Engagement brunch for immediate family at Castaway Restaurant in Burbank.

Not to mention work and extra projects, but THANK GOD I’m not in school this quarter!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My husband is not...

I'm addicted to Facebook. Well, not really addicted just yet. I just signed up last week and before I knew it, I had 40 friends. That's more than my MySpace page that took months and months of friend-finding to accumulate just 30 friends! As I drove home this evening, I thought about all the people I'd lost touch with and their new boyfriends/girlfriends/wives/husbands and their $$-paying jobs and brand-new, single family homes. And had teeny tiny bouts of jealousy. Well, not so much jealousy as extreme curiosity that borderlines obsessiveness. The last time I had a bout of jealousy and whined about it, Jen looked me in the eyes and asked, "Why are you marrying Rick?" It caught me off guard, and she told me to remind myself why I was getting married at all. 'Cause I could play the comparison game until the cows come home, but all it did was make me feel dissatisfied with my life. Is the grass really greener on the other side?

On my way home, I thought about all the characteristics that could describe any man of any hetero couple. The ideal man who would be the trophy husband, fabulous arm candy to any woman who would be so lucky as to hook him. The epitome of maleness and the cliched definition of masculinity. This is obviously a social issue, so there's no right or wrong, but for the sake of my little comparison game, let's take each characteristic to the extreme stereotype. And, apologies for the likeness to those annoying email forwards. (And let's just call him my husband because I kind of really don't like the word "fiance".)

What My Husband is Not

My husband is not tall, dark and handsome; he has a baby face and big, brown puppy-dog eyes, and I never have to look up at him and feel inferior.

My husband is not the curly blonde, surfer-boy cutie; he has luscious, thick black hair, speaks intelligibly, and has a farmer's tan.

My husband is not poetic or romantic, hardly ever buys me flowers, and doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve; he holds my hand while we sleep and playfully pokes me in the ribs as I put on mascara, which shows me how much he cares.

My husband is not a muscular jock; his brain cells are intact, and he is drug-free.

My husband is not a drunk deadbeat; he respects himself and others, works hard, and uses alcohol socially.

My husband is not a successful lawyer, stock broker, or collections agent; he bends over backwards for his customers and then passively mocks them as soon as the door hits them on their way out.

My husband is not a rich mama's boy; he is a poor mama's boy, but knows that just because he's poor doesn't mean he has to act like it. And he honors both his mother and his father.

My husband is not a 4-year-college grad who participated in floor-cest and got drunk every weekend; he worked before high school, during high school, after high school, and learned the value of a dollar.

My husband is not an athlete; he is, in fact, flat-footed, and uses foot spray quite often to fight athlete's foot.

My husband does not yell, slam the door on his way out, or leave me in the middle of an argument; he is patient and tells me if he needs some time to organize his thoughts.

My husband is not a nerdy intellectual, does not know what Google Scholar is, and is not an expert on the computer; he lets me do the research, but he has endless vetoes and is in charge of the final decision.

My husband does not have to assert his Y-chromosome by abusing me physically or verbally; he is happy, secure, and unthreatened to step back and let me take control when I want.

My husband is not driven or ambitious; he will never be on-call, stay late at the office, or have insomnia from work stress.

My husband is not the exuberant, center-of-attention, life-of-the-party guy; he is a thoughtful host and can attentively sit through eight hours of marriage preparation class with 120 other people.

My husband is not a brand or label snob; he believes that you get what you pay for, so when his Kmart golf club breaks into two pieces, he does not throw a fit that everything that is crap is made in China.

My husband is not a renowned musician, tournament golfer, or professional stock car racer; he participates in these supplemental hobbies which contribute to his comprehensive knowledge, and they do not rule his life.

My husband is not great at cleaning or organizing; he makes a mean spaghetti and the best kind of homecooked meals (with love).

My husband did not buy me the extravagant 1-carat princess-cut diamond engagement ring that I demanded like a petulant child; he bought me an appropriate, demure oval tanzanite. On sale.

My husband is not (and does not do) any of these things, and that is why I love him. And that is why I'm marrying him.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Time is (sometimes) on my side...

Yes-it-is! *singsong*

Time has been driving me absolutely bonkers lately. Sometimes it's fast, sometimes it's slow. The new project at work is so tedious the day drones on endlessly, but I can never get out of there fast enough to make it home in a timely hour! Like the old adages say: "Time flies when you're having fun" and "A watched pot never boils." Although that one doesn't have an explicit mention of time, but you get the point.

Anywho... I'm procrastinating writing my 10 page grant proposal that's due on Tuesday. In THREE days. Over a long weekend with the LABOR DAY holiday when no one in their right mind has to do any work. I have to start AND finish my proposal. And I just got started. And have all the details in my head and can't get them out in a coherent, organized fashion. *sigh*

So in order to further distract myself from the task at hand, here are some time comparisons, just to put things into some perspective. And ees jus fohr funn.

10 seconds:
Too little time for a passionate hug and kiss hello or goodbye at the airport. (eww!)
Too much time to reheat a room-temp croissant in the microwave.

60 seconds:
Too short of a ride for a 90-minute-wait line at Disneyland.
Too long to be gargling with Listerine.

5 minutes:
Too little show time between commercials.
Ample time to burn popcorn in the microwave so some of the kernels get charred just the way I like.

20 minutes:
Small portion of my morning commute.
Too much time spent waiting on the shuttle between the parking lot and my office.

60 minutes:
Too little time in the mall, store-hopping to find the perfect Christmas gift for everyone.
Too much time dodging traffic in a crowded mall, unable to find anything for anyone.

3 hours:
Not enough QT spent with the sigfig after work, before he passes out.
Too much time being numb after a visit to the dentist, esp when you're hungry.

5 hours:
Not enough time to watch a whole movie, uninterrupted, before Minnie Bihon has to eat. Again.
Too much time at a park BBQing for 50 people when it's 95 degrees out.

8 hours:
Too little sleep time.
Too much work time.

Now, back to the grant! Which is taking a LOOOOONG time. Maybe it's Nap time. Yep, I think it's Nap time...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Wall-E Character Analysis

So I made a mistake. I've been strangely obsessed with Wall-E and decided to do some research on his character to hopefully find someone else's analysis that could eloquently explain my infatuation. Instead, I found rants about the gender-fication of the robots, the gender-specific constructs of the characters, racism, and generally why all Disney films just suck.


What is with all the haters out there? Why can't we all just enjoy a movie, analyze it in a way where helplessness and futility are not the motivations for the analysis, and not take every issue to the extreme?

Way to go, team.

Now, moving forward with the intent to put into words my super-strong emotional tie with this funny little yellow robotic character. He doesn't talk except say his name and Eve's, so one must understand him through body language, noises, and his expressions. When there is no superficial yapping, communication is deeper through indirect speaking. One quickly empathizes and feels compassion when words don't get in the way; and the bond between Wall-e and the audience is almost immediate (if the audience is paying enough attention and not getting distracted by trivial social issues).

I did not genderize Wall-e or Eve. I suppose it was subconsciously a given that Eve was "the girl" and Wall-e was "the boy," but I didn't register them as a particular sex, as did these other bloggers/ranters. Sure, it was a love story, but I didn't feel it was a sexified, hetero love story. I didn't see Wall-e and Eve shacking up and having hybrid robot babies. That's not what their relationship conveyed. It was so much more... innocent. And wonderful. This love could be comparable to unending parental love, sibling love, love of a pet, love of life. It could also be nostalgic of one's first crush in elementary school. It's that emotion of something much deeper and stronger than a friendship; it's even, dare I be cliche, a tie that binds.

We see 30 minutes of Wall-e by himself and his little cockroachy friend. Wall-e talks to himself, plays by himself, and collects things that he thinks are valuable. We start to connect with him. We like him. His innocence is refreshing. We hope nothing bad happens to him as he's all alone out there, and these violent dust storms blow through. We watch him roll up and down these massive garbage skyscrapers as the view opens up and we see a whole city of cubed trash that is his lifelong work. I quickly forget that he's not a mortal human - and it's ok if he falls down or gets thrown into outer space where there is no air. We see him watch "Hello, Dolly" with great interest. And witness his longing to understand the holding of hands, as he clasps his own metal hands together, mimicking the motion. To touch. And dance. We realize he's alone. Not necessarily lonely, but alone. He seems happy enough with his bug friend, his daily trash compacting and collecting of artifacts. He's not needy.

Wall-e first sees Eve and this uber-romantic music starts playing, "At Last". It's cute. The audience giggles. You can almost see his non-existent heart start pounding faster and faster. He's really intrigued by her, wants to be her friend, and tentatively begins to build a relationship with her by showing her his collection of things and his home. He wants to hold hands with her. It's possibly love at first sight. But it could also be something so simple as friendship. Someone else whom he can bond with. Someone (or something) like him. It's reminiscent of the very first best friend a child has and holds hands with as they run off to the playground together. It's childhood.

Throughout the movie he demonstrates unconditional love. Unconditional friendship and loyalty. He tries fervently to wake Eve up when she's in "sleeping" mode after she takes the plant. He covers her from the rain, takes care of her. And when the mothership comes to take her back, he panics and jumps on board. He doesn't know where he's going, he's leaving the safety of his home and all that he's known and done in the last 700 years. All because of Eve, who's in a comatose state, but Wall-e can't just let her go. He gets in trouble, not understanding her programming or her mission, and just wants to be by her side. To spend time with her, and hold her hand. Some bloggers say he's the "stereotypic, idiotic male", but I disagree wholly. He's not stupid, he's 700 years old in analog form in a futuristic, digital world. Plus, he's been alone for so long. How could he possibly understand what's going on?

After Eve searches the planet, frustrated, she has more time to finally address Wall-e, and even tolerates his presence and tag-along behavior. It's not because she feels sorry for this loser who's stalking her. We (and Eve) can't condemn him for his naive character. And after aboard the Axiom, she time and again comes to his rescue. Why? We don't let children fall off slides if we can run over to catch them, now do we? Eve realizes (as she had been asleep for a long time) that Wall-e followed her to help her. Although she is a programmed robot, she too, is a learning robot, and after seeing footage of Wall-e that her "camera" captured during her comatose state, she suddenly realizes all that Wall-e has done for her.

Other bloggers like that Disney (finally) portrayed a strong female hero through Eve, instead of being a supporting character. She does end up saving the day, but I would never title this movie as "Eve". It's really not about the actions and tangible deliverables which we can define on paper - this movie centers around Wall-e and his emotions. And his humanity. The other sub-plots and distractions simply provide opportunities for Wall-e to demonstrate his character to the viewer.

The last evidence of Wall-e's loyalty is shown as he sacrifices his life for Eve's mission. He knew the plant was important to Eve and she said it needed to get back to Earth, to save all the humans. He supported her and therefore supported her cause. It is unclear as to if he ever understands why the plant is so important to the people or to Eve, but it doesn't matter; he has faith and compassion. The ultimate sacrifice of himself because he loved her. One could even go so far as to draw parallels to Jesus Christ and His ultimate sacrifice to save People, all for the love of a Father. This love is not romantic love, obviously. And I confess my heart shattered during those few minutes when he lost himself and was reverted into a programmed robot form, continuing his work, ignoring Eve as she tried to wake him from this stupor. Then he "reboot"ed and his soul was "resurrected".

I identified with Wall-e more than Eve, despite all discussion that he is male (or a gay male). He tugged at my heartstrings the whole way through, bringing out emotions associated with my first crush, a motherly possessiveness, a deep friendship, and an adoration of silly cuteness that I see in Rick. I hold a supreme fondness for Wall-e. Perhaps I'm simply a romantic at heart. Loyalty, trust, faith, compassion, and unconditional love. What girl doesn't want that?

For anyone who's seen this movie and has felt nothing more than ambivalence, you are dead inside. You need 100ccs of love and affection, stat. Have no fear, however, it's time for a group hug. And another screening of this feel-good movie.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Position and Positioning

My colleagues and I often discuss the nature of the people who work in our building. We came to a consensus that about 80% of them are super-shy, busy-in-their-heads, academia types who cross that borderline into blatantly rude and unfriendly behavior. Also, a handful of them are elitist, and therefore those who don't blip on their radar don't get a greeting in the hallway.

Then we added to the discussion our facility man who picks up the trash at our desks. While he is always very friendly to me (they say it's because I'm a girl), it seems one of my male coworkers has odd feelings about him and is either creeped out or simply uncomfortable in his presence. I asked if it was creepy like he was hitting on him; he said no. I pondered if it was a racial issue. He says this man is unfriendly and has an air of arrogance about him. I wondered if it was a defense mechanism for feeling inferior; I mean, picking up someone else's trash every day is a little humbling, no? Especially if you feel like it's always the white man's trash - and according to our other discussion about the people in our building, one must assume that the head-down ingrates never say hello to the man or thank him for his services. Perhaps he's always been a trash man and has had many people of "station" not acknowledge his presence or even worse, treat him badly. I wondered if he acted like this with all men. Then one day as I passed him in the hallway, he was chatting with a male security guard, commiserating about one thing or another. They both greeted me and I them, and so I had more confirmation: It's not simply a male or racial thing, it is more of a social status thing. Security guards are blue-collars just like himself. And then this popped into my head: Position and positioning are socially conditioning.

It's from a song in the movie-musical The Slipper and the Rose with Richard Chamberlain. It's a Cinderella story. I loved this movie when I was a kid and sang all the songs.

Position and Positioning [click for Youtube video]
(Written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman)

If my father were a chancellor,
How easy it would be -
The lovely Lady Caroline
Would be a proper wife, you see.
But my father was a servant
And my mother same as he.
So the lady of my choosing
Is a world away from me.
That's how it is and how it was,
And how it always shall be

Position and positioning
Are socially conditioning
How you're born, how you're bred,
Predetermine who you wed,
Which means there's nothing changeable;
Nothing's rearrangable,
Position and positioning are everything in life.

Farmer's daughters marry cowherds,
That's acceptable and right.
But absurd and quite unheard of
Is a milkmaid and a knight!

Position and positioning
Are socially conditioning,
People high, people low,
Keep the state of status quo,
Which means there's nothing changeable;
Nothing's rearrangable,
Position and positioning are everything in life.

When a lad first joins the army,
This is what he learns for starters:
Never court your colonel's daughter
Or he'll have your guts for garters!
That's how it is and how it was,
And how it always shall be.

For position and positioning
Are socially conditioning,
How you dress and hold your head
Predetermine who you wed,
Which means there's nothing changeable;
Nothing's rearrangable,
Position and positioning are everything in life.

All the servants in a castle -
They reflect the world outside.
They have rank and they have station
And adhere to them with pride.
All the staff that work below stairs
May have dreams to work above,
But they're locked in their positions by Tradition's iron glove.

That's how it is?
And how it was,
And how it always shall be.

We know our place and happily we bow and scrape and bend our knee,
But woe betide the woe begone,
Who try to join our echelon,
For privelege is not, you see,
Confined to just the royalty.
Behind these doors, I might suggest, I'm similarly blessed.

Yes, position and positioning
Are socially conditioning,
Though you work your life away,
Where you start is where you stay.
Which means there's nothing changeable;
Nothing's rearrangable,
Position and positioning are stuck with you for life!

Now this is not to say I condone this behavior or way of thought because it's just the way it is. Quite the contrary. But I acknowledge that the discord exists in reality despite the happy ending to this silly movie. I also believe that not only is it difficult to break away from one's station because of societal obstacles, often times one doesn't know HOW to break away since it is all one knows. Social conditioning. By the time you're old enough to think you want something better, all previous life experiences point towards the path of keeping the status quo. It can be so difficult that one resigns to the fact that this is just the way things are and things can't change. And unfortunately and ironically, the ones who are of higher position already (by birth or nature) are the ones who don't believe in settling.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Engagement shoot

Time for another post. We had our engagement session last weekend with Miguel Mayo, who is an absolute sweetheart. He was skeptical about his English skills, but we understood everything he said, so I think there is nothing for him to be ashamed about! The session was fun, although Rick and I had a little bit too much face time (literally) than we were used to. Being bubble-burstingly snuggly and smoochy isn't really our forte. ;) That gave way to showing our love in other ways (like making dinner and hemming pants) a long time ago. Romantic love? That was so 1999. ;)

Here's one picture that he emailed us as he works on the rest.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Best is the Enemy of the Good

So today as I'm playing hooky (well, a mental health day really saves my colleagues from being unfortunate witnesses of my emotional combustion and its outward effects) I decided to take it easy and not do much. Too bad my brain is still working on overdrive. I happened to stumble upon this post in this blog, A Practical Wedding, which addressed the age-old question: "What is it about human nature that forces us to strive for the best?"

As I'm well on my way to becoming an expert researcher as well as learning new things on the path towards my information science degree, I find myself having a hard time with what we call Satisficing, that is, stopping your research when you find answers that are adequate. People probably practice satisficing on a daily basis - looking for a definition of a word: check ONE dictionary, click on the FIRST link of your Google hit, etc. The answer there is adequate. There will be variant descriptions from all types of dictionaries and sources, but they'll all mean the same. So you stop looking. Satisfied.

When applied to other things that require more research, more importance, more authoritative warrant (OMG I'm not at work, am I?) this is when satisficing becomes difficult. When do you stop? How "good" is "good enough" when compared to the "best"?

According to the post mentioned above, the best is the enemy of the good (translated Voltaire quote). Things that we find good are often still not good enough as we search for the best. Human nature. But WHY? And once we happen upon the best, how do we know it, since we are always looking for something better than what we've got? The good get shafted and everyone loses.

I'm glad I found this post. And perhaps I'm making your brain crazy with too much thinking. I know mine is kicking me for doing this on a hooky day. But I'm glad I found this post because it alleviates the pressure I have on myself to find the Best flowers, the Best photographer, the Best dress, the Best.... To me, the Best means the cheapest for the greatest quality AND quantity (yeah, in an ideal world, huh?!). For example, a lone element does not determine the Best: roses, orchids, delphinium, or whatever we choose to match our colors, but they better be damn affordable for ALL the flowers we need or else they aren't the Best. Then it becomes a vicious cycle: can another florist do it cheaper? Are there alternative flowers that LOOK like what we want? What if we use less blooms and add more filler? What if we change the flowers altogether because these aren't the Best?

This doesn't only apply to objects and money, however. The tendency to over-think, over-research, over-analyze things are all part of the insatiable desire to be better, to be perfect. It was difficult for me to take a sick day today because we have visitors at work and I was planning on attending a couple of their presentations this afternoon. And I'm not unwell, at least on the outside. But as I lolled around in bed dreading waking up, getting ready, going through the motions, being hormonally imbalanced, analyzing life's too many social issues, I decided to give myself a break. I decided to break my perfect attendance record. I decided to play hooky, if you can call it that, as I'm actually and obviously unwell in the head. I decided to spend some QT with my Sammie, and she sits in my lap as I type. I decided to not be around people today.

Is that OK? Is that Good? Or is that the Best thing to do?

While you ponder that, take a look at photographer Miguel Mayo's website. We are having our free engagement session done with him in a couple of weekends. He isn't the Best of everyone I've found, but he's GOOD. Good enough? I'm beginning to think so. (The e-session is free and his full-coverage photography packages start at $1,500, a steal by comparison.) He might actually end up being the Best.. if Best is what we want...?

Perhaps redefining "good" and "best" is what I should do next... after all, I've always believed that "all adjectives are relative."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wedding Dress Fitting, Take 1

So I managed to NOT clean the apartment and NOT send out my STDs. Way to go, me. What happened to those two weeks I said I was going to get this stuff done? I wonder if that means I'm going to be a procrastinating bride who runs late and then yells at everyone for not helping her be on time. ;) Probably not.

Last Friday, I was out in Granada Hills for a work retreat luncheon thingy and it was 115 degrees outside when we left at 3:00pm. WOWZERS, was it hot! As I drove home it even dared to go up to 116 on my car temp gauge, and I felt sorry for the man I passed whose truck had broken down. He was literally on his back on the side of the freeway, giant tummy exposed, underneath his truck, trying to fix something. I was too far over in the fast lanes to pull over, but all I could have done anyway was give him hot bottled water from my trunk.

The heat was really getting to me despite the a/c on full blast, so I started to almost doze off at the wheel. I didn't have any other plans so I was heading home and thought about passing out on the couch with the a/c cranked and fan blowing. As I wilted in my seat, I thought about which exit to take, and realized I would be passing the Burbank mall, and it would be nice and air conditioned in there. So I shook the sleep off my face and exited early to get to the mall. I had to get a gift for the couple whose wedding I'm attending next month as a guest of a friend (the first wedding I'm going to without Rick!).

I don't know if it was the heat or that I had too much caffeine and sugar at the luncheon, but I didn't feel well as I stumbled through the mall, indecisively. Almost like I had low blood sugar and was going to pass out, but was perfectly fine, coherent, just couldn't make up my mind about anything. I walked around the mall aimlessly like a lost child, not knowing what I was looking for, and not remembering what I was there to buy. I ended up getting a strawberry smoothie and that helped, and my consciousness regained.

On my way back to the car, I passed by this huge store in the mall - the size of 5 stores (or two Forever21s) - and saw inside racks of flower girl dresses, formal gowns, and... wedding dresses! So in I went, brave little lonesome me, thinking this was the day I would try on my dress AND buy it! All by myself!

I first browsed the flower girl dresses. They were sooo cute. And very affordable too! Nice fabrics, classic designs, and almost all of them cost less than $40. Wow. This store was like a bridal salon mixed with discount dresses impeccably arranged. The formal bridesmaid and MOB gowns were a bit dated in style; most of them were long and sheath-like, and the fabrics were mainly that stick-to-you satin that I detest. They also had no dark browns. So I kept walking, walking towards the back, where racks of white and ivory dresses hung in thick clear plastic bags that screamed "I'm SPECIAL, don't touch me!"

As I browsed each and every design (and there were seriously, like, only one or two sizes of each design, a 4 or 6 and/or a 10 or 14), I got excited. There were so many really beaded and beautiful dresses! And on top of that, there were a lot of name brand ones there too! Now, I'm not an haute couture type of dresser, nor am I a trendy trendsetter or a label snob, but I really didn't think this "mall store" would have Maggie Sottero or Mori Lee dresses in its collection. I mean, seriously. And on top of that, they were, in my opinion, reasonably priced! The most expensive dress I saw was $1,100, which is also David's Bridals' most expensive (but it's David's Bridals!).

So I made my rounds through the four racks a couple of times and was mentally saving the dresses I wanted to try on, even the $700, out-of-my-budget ones. I didn't care! I was excited! Plus, the only time I had tried on dresses was in January at a David's Bridal, and spent 3 hours in there having to wait for "help," and only being able to try on 3 dresses before I gave up and left, frustrated that I was only able to choose dresses from their 20 page catalog, not allowed to browse the racks, and stood in one dress for 45 minutes as the salesladies puttered around moving TVs (yeah, that's a whole 'nother story). Of course, after the visit, I got unending phone calls, voice mails, and emails to come back for another visit and how is the planning going, we'd like to sell you some essential accessories, and even though you said you don't want a veil, we'll still try to sell you 3 different lengths for an extra poufy veil look.

Anyways, back to the racks. A woman saw me looking at the dresses and came up to me with a frown, and said, "Can I help you?" And I looked at her, caught by surprise with the un-warm greeting, and said, "ohh.. I.. uh, I'm just looking." She gave me a once-over, and obvious once-over, and said, "When's the wedding?" and when I told her, she said, "Ok, you can look. But you have to make an appointment if you want to try any on." And turned away before I could acknowledge (and thank) her.

Nice. That was hot. I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, tears streaming down my face, wads of green clutched in my hands, exclaiming, "I have money, I HAVE MONEY, and no one will help me, and I need a dress, and I HAVE ALL THIS MONEY!!!" (except I wasn't crying, and I had only plastic, not paper.) I looked down at myself, observed my Target flip flops, knee length denim shorts, and black camisole tank top. Did I look that awful? Or did I look that young that I didn't deserve to be able to try on wedding dresses? I don't know. I refused to be off-put by the woman, however, and continued browsing. Hey, she didn't say I had to pay to look.

I found one that I really wanted to try on. I went to the register (which took practically a minute to walk to) and asked the lady behind the counter if I could try on one dress. She was young-ish with a naive face, and looked around. She looked uncertain and scared. Hmm. She seemed to be at a loss for words, so I piped, "A woman told me I had to make an appointment, but I was wondering if I could just try one on today." In the whole store there were probably 4 customers in there. Hardly too busy to not let me try on ONE dress, right? Come on, guys.

She kept looking around and not answering me, and I thought, geez, this girl's scared of her boss. Great. She finally said, "Yes, um, you have to make an appointment." So I relented. What I really wanted was for her to say, "Ok, let me go see what I can do for you." And I was thisclose to saying, "I'll go find that witchy woman and ask her if I can try on ONE dress." I made an appointment for the following day. And thought maybe I could get my sister to come with me, so it was all ok.

My sister actually was able to come with me the next day, and she even brought baby Bella. As a matter of fact, this is what Bella looks like now, at 13 weeks. :)

As we walked through the mall back to the store, I thought out loud, "I bet it's going to be that same damn woman who's going to end up helping us today." And sure enough... I walked to the cashier and told her we had an appointment to try on dresses, she left us standing there while she went to go notify the woman and we stood there stupidly. So of course, we started browsing again. I pulled two dresses that I wanted to try on and put them on the rack by the dressing rooms. Finally the woman shows up to "greet" us in the wedding gown aisles and I'm ready for her this time! Well, not really. I mumbled that I was her 3:00 appointment, something something. She asked me again when the wedding date was (why that is so important to keep asking as the first question, I don't know) and then what kind of dress I wanted. A-HA. I was ready to answer her:

Sweetheart or regular strapless neckline or V-neck sleeveless; slight A-line, maybe trumpet if it will look good, and with a train.

She stared at my body, thought a bit, and said, "Ok. You pick two dresses, I pick two dresses, and that's all we're doing today."

I saw the reaction on my sister's face and was tempted to either reciprocate or elbow her in the stomach. I didn't want to piss this lady off; I still wanted to try on these dresses without feeling confrontational, and if this is what we had to put up with, then so be it. Hey, it doesn't mean I have to buy from her, and it's only my real first dress shopping!

There was more rough-around-the-edges talk, as my sister tried to pull in a chair into the fitting room with the baby stroller... the woman said she would be helping me so my sister didn't have to come in, and also it was too hot in there and she didn't need a chair. This pissed my sister off even more than she was already. We all fit comfortably, and it really wasn't THAT hot in there; only the woman got hot as she had to manhandle the 15-pound dresses and throw them over my head. I personally think that gets more makeup on the inside of the dresses; I have no hips so it would be easier for everyone if I could just step inside the dresses. But anyways...

The first dress she picked for me was hideous. Well, I guess I shouldn't say HIDEOUS because it did come out BEAUTIFULLY on me. On the hanger, the bodice was ornately beaded, ruched and pulled to the side, and encrusted in diamonds. And it looked expensive and mermaid-y. I *sigh*ed and decided to try it; my sister, knowing my personality and customary inability to tell people what I want and don't want, piped up, "Do you want to try those on? I don't think you'll like them." And I responded to the both of them, "Yes, I'll try it." And I heard my sister mutter under her breath, "since she only gets to try on FOUR, we don't want to waste a try on something she knows she doesn't like." The woman had her back turned and didn't respond. But I think she heard.

It was a nice dress. As the woman was lacing up the back (something that I knew I didn't want because it looks messy back there and I like the streamlined look of buttons with a hidden zipper underneath), she stopped and said, "I have to ask before I continue because if I don't ask people get mad." And I looked at her reflection in the mirror as she was talking and I didn't understand. She went on, "because I'm going to start pulling this tight and if you don't tell me not to pull too tight, how am I supposed to know." And I still didn't know what she was talking about, so I started to say, "okay, you can pull tight.." and she continued, "because sometimes girls come in here and they all have different body types and I can't tell sometimes.." and then I understood what she was getting at, and in realization of it, laughed and said, "No, I'm NOT pregnant, cinch as tight as you want!"

So off she went, cinching and pulling, and I have no idea what it looks like from the back doing that sort of thing, but I felt like a British countess being corsetted in by attendants before heading to the parlor to greet a possible suitor who came calling on me. I waited patiently as the breath was pushed out my lungs down into my stomach or up into my head. But oh, how I watched my waist disappear in the mirror! I hated the dress only because it had an asymmetrical design in the ruching, which gathered into a giant cluster of rhinestone decoration two inches left of my crotch. Why did they have to ruin a good dress by doing that? Of course it LOOKS ok. But my OCD complex would not have it. I walked out into the main dressing area and stood on the dress block and looked into the mirror ahead of me. Niiice. I did feel like a princess. But wait - was this the look I was going for?

Through the years of looking at bridal magazines and imagining myself in lavish wedding gowns, I had come to realize that it is highly impractical to wear such overly stated things. It may be the bride's day (edit: the bride AND groom's day) but no one stays perched perfectly at the edge of a settee for 10 hours or stands against a wall with her hip jutted out, arms slightly open like Cinderella. Those magazine photos are outrageously impractical. It's not like I'm going to be standing on a pedestal the whole day of the wedding, looking pretty while pouting with half-closed smokey eyes, and frozen in time like a sculpture. Heck no! I anticipate running around, rolling around in the grass, taking lots of fun photos, and dancing until my feet break off. Well, okay, maybe not rolling in the grass. That would be the day after. ;)

This was the first dress:
(Maggie Sottero Coco, $720)

So off that dress went. I tried on four others (the woman pulled a fifth that she wanted me to try) so by the end of that, I was hanging on to her every word, roughness and all. She actually kind of grew on me. And she never tried to sell me anything, get me to buy an expensive dress, or make me change my likes/dislikes in what I wanted. She merely gave me her opinion, good and bad, about what would look best on my body, and she really did have my best intentions at heart (it was almost like having my mother there.. but she was a professional wedding gown fitter). Things she said included, "That looks okay, you look fine. But okay and fine are not good enough," "No, no, no... take that off, no. That doesn't show anything, nothing good about that dress," and my favorite, which she kept repeating, driving home the point, "You need to get a dress that ties up in the back, for more control. You can even fit into a size 2, prettier to see the ribbon ties that way, looks nice, and you have most control than a zipper." I like the size 2 part. And that also meant I didn't have to worry about alterations for the wedding - the corset back would take care of me gaining or losing weight!

The other dresses paled in comparison to the first. The two that I had picked, an empire waist, notched neckline strapless gown, and a strapless mermaid/trumpet (couldn't tell on the hanger) with a plain front except for beading at the sweetheart neckline, were awful on my body. The fifth dress the woman pulled for me to try was a pick-up skirt ballgown. I hate pick-up skirts. I looked like an effing cake. But she tsk-tsked at me and said that since I was not wearing heels for the wedding, this way I wouldn't have to cut the dress, I simply, PICK UP, or pinch, equal parts around the dress and secure the spots, which pull it up the hem. Very smart, this woman was. Really made up for her brusque manner.

But here are examples of a pick-up skirt; this is for you if you love cake so much that you feel a need to look like one on your wedding day:

(Destinations by Maggie Sottero SD3006)

(Maggie Sottero Emme)

But I shan't get ahead of myself and make this post a rant about fashionable and popular designs. After all, who am I to judge fashion????!

After the fittings, she lead me to the front of the store and pulled out Maggie Sottero catalogs, told me to go through them and write down the ones that I would look good in. It almost felt like a test! Like, now that we've had our lesson, here's a test. Don't forget what I've taught you today! She obviously had no intention of making me buy any of her dresses, and encouraged me to go to other stores and try different styles but to remember this was what looked best on me. She told me to try to find something similar to what I had tried on, to NOT look just at the brand names, and feel the material, no matter what it was really made of. I left there feeling very happy, a satisfied customer (who paid nothing), and thanked her sincerely. Her face had been bright red in the fitting room from helping me dress and undress, but by then her colors had returned to normal. I don't think she smiled the whole entire time. I don't even know if she had teeth. But she said, "You're welcome" as many times as I said thanks, and that was good enough for me.

So here is what I'm looking for:

One-piece, sweetheart neckline, ruched EVEN bodice (not asymmetrical), natural waist, corset (or tie-up or lace-up) back, beading mainly on bodice, and chapel train.

Things to avoid: all-over beading and lace (she said, "too messy"), empire or basque waist delineation (she said, "too long-waisted"), smooth-paneled bodice (she said, "shows your skin" and "creases", aka my fat) and asymmetry (because I don't like it).

This is closest, but doesn't have the train length:
(Maggie Sottero Irina)

And I might be able to force myself to be ok with the asymmetry of this:
(Maggie Sottero Ariana Taffeta)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

2nd week of break...

Ahhh, June 17. I've combatted my stupid 2-month-long rash outbreak of eczema. Finally broke down and went to Urgent Care on Saturday and got oral corticosteroid pills and steroid cream. And 3 months' worth of Claritin. My skin is super happy, at least for now.

So what have I done lately? Not much. Peddled around the house, stayed indoors from the heat. Although I have made some really pretty coffee filter roses, pattern taken from Martha Stewart and originally designed by Mommy Makes Roses. So pretty.

I've also resumed my quest for a wedding photographer. Everyone is so expensive, and I'm so picky about what I want now that I've done research and seen what types of photography is out there and what kinds of artistic shots and effects some really great photographers do. But of course, the really great photojournalist photographers cost half our whole wedding budget. So out that goes. *sigh*

Researching and learning is heartbreaking. Because then you come to realize that you can't afford the best and what you are forced to settle with doesn't compare to that perfection you witnessed - and even though what you're settling with is probably decent, you've already been exposed to something better. What is with human nature and the unsatiable desire to have the best and be unsatisfied with the mediocre?

This is who I found that I have deemed "the best" for our wedding so far in my research. She's already booked for our wedding date and didn't tell me how much she charges: Nataly Lemus. Every picture that she takes (at least the ones that she posts) is a piece of art itself. The shots are aesthetically composed and balanced, and the retouched effects she adds afterwards are beautiful.

And of course, Greg Bumatay of Bumatay Studio was the first photographer I happened to stumble upon. And of course, he's way out of our budget. But his photography and style are oh so hot.

And by association, Miguel Pola, again out of our budget. But a bit more affordable.

And also Desi Baytan. His basic package starts at $1,500, which is totally awesome.

Next to check out is Sandra P. Photography. She's a friend of someone who Rick and I went to high school with, and maybe we can swing a deal with her. Without totally asking for a favor from a person I used to know. One of my pet peeves is getting a note from someone from my past life only when they want something - and then after they get it never contact me again.. So I wish to NOT be a hypocrite about that. (hi Austin!)

What's so great about these photographers is I can see that they can take anything - a detail, a moment, a venue - that is possibly lackluster and banal and make it look beautiful. A warped box of Cracker jacks comes out looking elegant in muted tones, in off-centered, crooked shot. Other photographers (or simply a person with a point and shoot camera such as myself) would have taken a macro shot of it in full color and be done with it. Why is this important? Because I've seen some beautiful places in person that don't photograph well if done in an amateurish sort of way, and some pretty ugly places that translate horribly into square shots; our ceremony and reception sites run the risk of this and despite that people who are at the wedding will see these places in person, I'd like to remember our sites as beautifully as I can.

I'm also re-addicted to Wicked and its soundtrack, and am now starting to read the book, which I have had in my possession for over 3 years and failed to pick up the hefty 2-inch fat volume. I read a little bit every night before bedtime and hopefully will have finished it by the end of the month. :) I want to get tickets to see it again, and maybe have Rick take his mom for her birthday next month.

I guess that's it for now. Oh, and I got an A in my last class. Whoo hoo!

Monday, June 2, 2008

6 Days to Relief!

Wow, it's been a month since my last post. It's been a month since Ah-Gong's funeral.

Six more grueling days to finish my final project for this quarter. SIX DAYS. I should be really happy, but I'm also stressed out because I'm only 15% of the way through. After Sunday, (and it WILL come unless the apocalypse comes first) I will be FREE for TWO WEEKS!! Two wonderfully-free-but-riddled-with-relative-visits-and/or-get-togethers-with-friends weeks until summer school starts. And then the 10-week cycle of hormonal imbalance and stressed craziness continues.

I've already decided what to accomplish during my two weeks' break. It's kind of sad that I have goals during break, but the only way to take full advantage of playtime is to have schedules! ;)

1. I will get my Save-the-Date cards finished and sent out.

2. I will NOT spend every Saturday and Sunday entertaining family friends and relatives. Unless I want to. (read: unless I HAVE to and try to tell myself that I have a choice in the matter and I should approach the situation this way.)

3. I will relax and watch lots of summer movies. Indy, Wall-E, and whatever comes out that looks good will get my $12 patronage. :)

4. I will get organized and clean the apartment from top to bottom. I realize that the end of each quarter is stressful not only because of the final projects due, but because I'm trying to work in putrid, squalid conditions at home. Funny how entropy really does increase. Maybe I should throw a hissy fit and blame Rick for not helping out around the house. Studentzilla rears her ugly head once again! AHAHHAA.

I can't believe it's June already. I'm totally caught off guard and have no to-do list drafted in my mind yet!!

Well. I guess this is the end of my boring post. It seems my life is a little lackluster right now, which I guess is totally okay. :) No news is good news, right?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Closing doors

I’m blogging this lovely Sunday morning because after yesterday’s ordeal, I’m a mix of emotions: anger, frustration, futility, resentment, sadness. At least for once I’m not having an identity crisis.

Ah-Gong’s funeral was yesterday. I spent the day not thinking about it, Rick and I ran errands in the morning, and I took an hour and a half to get ready. Upon arriving at the funeral site with my sister and brother-in-law, I greeted my father and other relatives at the door of the chapel. I wasn’t nervous; rather, confident, because I was looking good and I guess had the intention of looking like the 27-year-old woman that I am to people I hadn’t seen in over 10 years. It was almost like a high school reunion where you show up looking like you’re accepting an award, and people look at you and marvel at how much you’ve changed since high school when you were a dumpy nerd with knobby knees. It didn’t work in my favor yesterday that I look very much like my mother.

The service was interesting. I’d somehow forgotten that, duh, the whole thing would be in Chinese, and surprisingly, I understood about 80% of it all. Go me. Although I wished I hadn’t understood that much. What was said wasn’t all that nice, a little self-indulgent on the ministers’ parts (of course, touting that this was God’s message and Ah-Gong was a saint), and very over-the-top preachery in a loud and dramatic way. I remembered why I never liked Chinese church, and especially why I stopped going to Chinese church in the first place. These people are pieces of work. I wondered if I was in a cult.

Grandma asked us to be in the receiving line after the service, and everything happened so fast and it’s not like we had rehearsed this, so off we went to stand there and shake people’s hands. Our father had told my sister that we could wait outside, but I didn’t know that was an option. We greeted about 100 people, about 10 of them I vaguely remember from my repressed childhood memories. 80 of the people were over 70 years old and gray-haired, and while they spoke my name, and I just smiled at them, I thought, Who the hell ARE you??

Going into this, I had intentions of being polite. I was going to be respectful and friendly because funerals aren’t really the time to be angry and slit-eyed and rehash old grudges. Too bad other people didn't come in with the same intentions. How na├»ve I was to think that by being open I could change perceptions. People, people that I didn’t even know or remember, thought it was in their Godly duty to take this opportunity to voice their opinions to my sister and me. There was even one of my dad’s cousins that I recognized who had been like an aunt and whom I had fond memories of, who now glared at me with disapproval and a jaw-clenched, puffy-cheeked frown (and of course, no greeting. What!? Do I owe you money or something?). We were told things like, “Let the past be the past,” and “You should have visited your grandfather more; he talked about you often, I expect to see you more at Grandma’s house from now on” and “He loved his sons very much; he loved his grandsons very much.” Period. Okay, then...

Three things boggle my mind:
1) Why are we the ones getting lectured and being told to forget the past? We are the products of divorce and all the adults involved (parents and grandparents) mishandled the situation, and continue to do so. We react to the lack of parenting and grandparenting involved. By that I mean lack of role models. If anyone should get a talking-to, it should be my father for his continuing indiscretions. My sister and I just look at each other and are confused when people approach us with this comment. Who’s not forgotten? We’ve gone on with OUR lives, get on with yours and OUT of OUR past!!! WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE?! And it’s none of your business anyway what goes on between me and my father! They turned a possibly innocuous re-meeting very ugly with unnecessary words. (Coincidentally, this is how my grandfather behaved.)

2) If someone hits you, doesn’t apologize, you’re supposed to forgive him. If they continue to hurt you, still don’t apologize, don’t think they’ve done anything wrong, you are still supposed to “forgive and forget.” Hmm. Do I have “walk on me” written across my forehead? Or am I just worth less than the one who’s hurting me? Do we tell this to victims of domestic violence? Do we teach our children this concept? If a child is getting beat up on the playground, do we say to him, “oh, just let the bully hit you, you need to forgive him for being mean.” Or do we pull the bully aside, talk to him, make him apologize and try to get him to see that what he was doing is wrong? The reason I bring this up is because my father and my grandfather have hurt me very much with their words and actions. Although I am an adult now, our relationships have been frozen in time; being the CHILD in all of these relationships, I don’t believe that it’s right to blame us for anything that ADULTS do or don’t do, especially divorce. My father and grandfather hurt me, so I made my feelings very clear, and left the environment. They did not apologize, or change to accommodate me in their lives, so I did not go back. How is this wrong? Just because they’re my elders I’m supposed to take the abuse? Every time I try to reconcile, let down my walls so we can start anew, one of the men manages to f*ck it up with the same words and actions, and I’m left hurt again. Why is this MY fault? Yet, I left the funeral yesterday with a heavy load of outsider judgments on my shoulders. There’s nothing like feeling misunderstood for 10+ years. I felt mentally and physically impaired and frustrated.

3) There are some people who don’t believe in divorce and take it to the extreme where the products of a failed marriage are somehow associated with it. So to some people, I guess my sister and I are bastard children who shouldn’t deserve to live, despite that for the first 14 years of my life I was an accepted individual human being who was allowed to play with their kids. Okay, then. Nice to have known you. I'll just go die quietly in the corner. (of course, the man who acted this way turns out to be a well-respected pastor)

So this is what’s REALLY going on: my sister and I stopped speaking to our father over 10 years ago. Why? Not because we “sided with our mother and she turned us against him” but rather because my father chose (and CONTINUES TO CHOOSE) very inappropriate relationships with my mother’s female cousins. These women have literally torn my mother’s family apart, as if the already shameful and unheard of divorce between our parents wasn’t enough. Their presence at the funeral was inappropriate and, ironically, therefore expected. One of the women approached us and tried to make small talk, telling me how pretty I’ve grown (and I wanted to say, “I wish I could say the same about you,” but didn’t) and asking if I still worked at the Getty (to which I responded with a curt “yes” and looked away, disinterested). And she knew my sister had a baby. How on earth would she, my mother’s cast-off first cousin, have known any of this information? I certainly know no one on my mother’s side said anything. It became quite clear that it was my father who is still keeping in contact with them. And obviously on a pretty regular basis, being that my sister had her baby no more than 5 weeks ago. She insisted on revealing that she knew personal information about us, and I wanted to scream in her face, “STEP OFF, BITCH!”

Although we had stopped speaking to our father 10+ years ago, we continued to visit our grandparents for a while after. By that time things were very ugly and my grandfather found out that we, two girls both under 20 years of age, were forsaking his beloved almost-50-year-old son who could do no wrong. So on two separate visits (with a 6-month falling-out period) our grandfather to our faces cursed our mother, saying that she squandered all the money he’d given us over the past decades, that she was a selfish woman, and the divorce was all her fault. We were so angry that we couldn’t even fight back with evidence of my father’s laziness as a husband responsible for maintaining a running household, immaturity as a guiding father figure, multiple infidelities brought into our home (my sister’s room, to be exact), and as a spineless son who was ordered to remarry to save face. In any case, stop using us as pawns in your twisted game! So we stopped visiting them as well, which was unfair to my grandmother (she enabled the behavior but we can’t really blame her for that).

After all the snippets of opinions we were hearing yesterday compounded with the fact that these women actually showed up at the funeral (and one bawled uncontrollably in my father’s arms like his mistress while my stepmom looked on, passively), we saw my father introduce them to old family friends – so my sister and I hightailed it out of there in contempt.

After doing so, I wondered if it was a bad decision. No doubt everyone noticed that we’d left early in a huff without saying goodbye, and thought, “There they go again, still acting out even at the funeral, those are [my mom’s name]’s daughters, how shameful, such poorly raised girls...” And while I can easily say, ‘well f*ck you all, you don’t know half the sh*t that’s going on!’ I also wonder if we just gave them more fuel to add to their already massive fire of misperceptions. What were we supposed to do? Acquiesce to the inappropriate behavior and witness it like we agree and are OK with it? I suppose none of it really matters; there was no changing their minds about us one way or another. We've been tagged for years already.

The offender gets away with it because he’s all smiles and act like nothing’s immoral about anything he does. He’s just an easy-going guy who’s friendly and charming. So when we react by putting on an ugly face and acting bitchy, we turn out to be the villains (aka [my mom’s name]’s daughters), and my father comes out looking like the poor, innocent victim of hot-tempered, ill-mannered, and sacrilegious children raised by the hellish ex-wife. (to which I say, hey, at least SOMEONE raised us...)

This morning, I turned on the TV and Joel Osteen was on. Osteen says that when God causes problems and commotions in our lives and closes doors, we shouldn’t be bitter and think, Oh, just another thing to happen to me... God closes doors whether or not we like it or are ready for it, changing the old and creating the new, and we shouldn’t keep trying to go back to how things used to be. We should look toward this new path and while we can think [fondly] of the old, now it’s time to create new memories and new traditions. Now I’m not an expert in theology by any means, and I admit I haven’t read the Bible all the way through, and I know Joel Osteen is a controversial preacher (or “motivational speaker”), but I like that his messages can be applied to my life and I can use positive ways to go forth. (Whether or not this is blasphemous is not for me to say; I make use of any tools I can get my hands on and try to be my best self.) So perhaps instead of laying in a fetal position in bed all day feeling like a sack of sh*t and wondering why I can’t have the warm and fuzzy relationship I had with my father in my younger years, I should keep this door closed and move forward without the man I thought I wanted to share my new life with. I’m even considering dis-inviting him to my wedding if he can’t comply to my now one-and-only rule: if I were to start sharing my life with him, he must immediately stop disclosing details of MY life and MY information with THEM. (And sadly, as easy and painless as that sounds, I don’t see him giving that up for me.) If that’s the case, I can stop asking “why” and “can’t he just” and “what if”. And especially stop hoping that my dad will start to take us seriously, really HEAR what my sister and I are saying, and choose us instead of his “friends” – perhaps this is a door that is definitely closed, and although I’m saddened by the prospect, it may be for the best for me and my future family.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Goodbye, Ah-Gong

It's been a rough re-entry from our weekend mini-vacation from San Diego. We had a wonderful time exploring the city and having good meals. I ate a whole dungeness crab by myself for lunch (well, Rick helped with 3 legs or so).

First off, let me just say that last night, we got news that my paternal grandfather had passed away on Saturday. He had been quite ill. About a year ago, he had three surgeries in two weeks, which included having a pacemaker put in. After many months in the hospital, he was moved to a nursing home. A few months after that, he was moved back home permanently with a live-in nurse to help out. I visited him at Christmas time and he seemed to be much better than the previous visits, albeit thinner and got tired quicker.

The news came as a bit of a shock, even though he had been very ill. Although, frankly (and with guilt), I had not thought of him for many months. And perhaps that is why the following story is told with such uncertainty.

On Saturday afternoon, Rick and I took a walk along the beach and visited the pier on Shelter Island. There was a small bait and tackle office as well as an "education" room where shells and marine life were displayed. There were a few cases of dried butterflies and insects; they were mostly fantastically colored species that simultaneously caused you to cringe from the gross factor as well as enticed you to come closer for a better look. It was fascinating and horrifying. We walked back to the hotel, and while crossing the parking lot, something dark caught my eye, and I cast my eyes downward. I saw this giant, black, beetle-roach-looking-thing monching on some crap on the ground. "Ewww!!" I cried. And stifled the reflex to stomp on it. Live, and let live, right?

Back in the room, just minutes later, I pulled the bedspread down off the bed to get ready for a nap. I looked over at Rick, who had stopped what he was doing to point at the side of the bed, and said, "LOOK..."! I walked over, looked, and screamed like a bloody monster. Sitting there quietly on the inner part of the bedspread was the same, giant beetle-roach-looking thing that we had just seen outside. It was very big, very black, and very shiny. I panicked and ran around in circles before running to the sink area and getting the hotel's ice bucket. On my way, I shouted over my shoulder to Rick, "Call downstairs!"

Now, up until then, the hotel staff had been more than the usual nice, at least for us. They had greeted us promptly at the front desk, and housekeeping had directed us to the right wing as soon as they saw us looking around the hallway for our room. When Rick called the front desk to alert them to our situation, the man there had said, "What would you like us to do?" and because we've never had to deal with a bug infestation ever in our hotel rooms, Rick didn't know what to say. Umm, come get it?! The man asked if we'd like our sheets changed and we said yes.

We caught the beetle without much incident although when it fell off the covers, I screamed again before Rick somehow managed to corral it into the ice bucket. The room phone rang and it was the front desk man, asking if we'd caught or killed the bug, and that his manager would like to see it, so if we would please hand it to the staff that would be changing our sheets. I think this guy was new or just not particularly experienced as the other staff employees we'd dealt with.

Our sheets were changed by the on-call housekeeping staff. They were friendly, yet because they were simply the ones on-call and not the regular 12pm - 4pm crew that changes the sheets daily, they didn't seem to know what to do. But also because we were just standing there, watching them. Well anyways, I decided that instead of giving our evidence to them that we would take the critter ourselves to the front desk.

As we walked down the stairs with Rick clutching the ice bucket tightly in his hands, I saw that the manager was at the front desk. I somehow easily identified him as the manager because of the tell-tale glasses, moustache, and business clothing instead of the other staff's uniforms. We walked up to the counter, and Rick joked, "It's a fine specimen." Rick and I weren't angry or really taking this whole thing seriously, we were just shocked and creeped out, but we didn't make a scene or throw a fit. We just wanted to let them know and have the situation handled, and we didn't have any demands or motivation to make other guests worry. The manager, on the other hand, was quite inhumorous, which of course, was as he should be. He took the ice bucket, peered in, and said, "OH MY GOD." And apologized profusely and said that his housekeeping staff is usually very thorough. He looked up our room info and comp-ed our night. We thanked him and went back to our room, where we sat quietly and alert for the rest of the evening until dinner time.

The following morning, Sunday, after a wonderful complimentary breakfast buffet downstairs, we went back to our room to pack up to check-out by noon. It was already at least 80 degrees and our room was warming up from the sun streaming through the sliding doors off the balcony. We packed while we watched TV. At 10:30am, while we were both sitting on the bed with stuff laid out but eyes glued to the tv, we both saw something move and together whipped our eyes over to the movement. This time, along the carpet near the sliding door, yet another beetle was taking a stroll across the sunlight.

Rick and I looked at each other and said, "You've got to be kidding me." This time, without any screaming or any shock, I grabbed a small glass cup and Rick scooped it up easily. We sighed and just looked at each other. Should we call downstairs again? Should we let it go? We decided that we might as well take it down and tell them that it had happened again.

The Sunday morning front desk staff consisted of two women who shrieked when they saw the contents of our tissue-covered glass cup. They covered their mouths and opened their eyes wide, and one of them said, "Oh my gosh, I can't look at it, it's so disgusting," and took the cup to the back. She also mentioned that being a resident of San Diego who lives just a few blocks away, she's never seen any bug like this before. When Rick mentioned that this was our second bug, they said, "In the same room? We heard about the one yesterday." Which actually really impressed me, because that just shows how in-tune the management is with their staff. They looked up our room and said that the night manager had indeed comp-ed our room for last night, and we told them we would be checking out in an hour. We left them with good humor, so good and understanding that I started to wonder if they'd think we planted the beetle ourselves just to get a free night.

I should probably describe this beetle to give you a better picture of what we were dealing with. I didn't take any pictures, unfortunately, so I'm going on what I remember of this bug. I spent the morning looking in beetle databases to figure out what the heck we saw. I think all three were the same species, although I can't say for sure.

I narrowed it down to two types, but don't know the exact species. The Carabidae Calasoma genus of Ground Beetles or the Eliode Teenebrionida Darkling Beetle. Here are pictures of each (and yes, it's enough to make you vomit, unless you're totally into insects).

Our beetle was about 1.25 inches in length. Yep, one fat sucker. And when you see this big black thing on super white bed sheets, it really elicits screams of terror.

So last night, when I got the news about the passing of my grandfather, I began to think. After 10 minutes of the usual thoughts and emotions when you hear about a death, a distant memory popped into my head. Years ago, when my mother lost a long-time friend to cancer, before she'd gotten the news of his death, she'd been "harrassed" by a fly. It was in her home, in her car, at her parents' house. I'll have to get the details from her about the fly, but I distinctly remember her telling us that she believed the fly was her friend, coming by to tell her goodbye. And after the fly finally went away, she heard that her friend had died.

I don't know whether or not this beetle was my grandfather coming by to say goodbye. Or if he wanted something of me, or wanted to tell me something, or if he was approving or disapproving of anything. I mean, do spirits come to you in disgusting insect forms? Does it mean anything if the visitor is a cute ladybug, a buzzing wasp, or a beetle?

Analyzing the facts, I do choose to believe that the beetle was my grandfather. The situation is just too bizarre to be thought out rationally. We tore that room apart, looking for holes and crevices that perhaps the beetle had come out from. Nothing. The fact that no one else in the hotel complained about a beetle sighting in their room. The fact that no staff member had ever seen this type of insect in their area before. The fact that our room was on the second floor, away from any shrubs or gardens, and that if this beetle was a Ground Beetle that has no wings and is nocturnal, that we shouldn't have seen it on the second floor walking about and active during the daytime. The fact that we had seen the beetle three times. Possibly even in the cases on the pier, too, but I didn't pay that much attention to the details. Common bugs all look the same if you're not a bug-ologist or even remotely interested in these creatures.

So today, I'm still wondering what it is I'm supposed to do. I don't know if the beetle species itself is important. I don't know if it was just a bug big enough for us to see and not smoosh. I don't know how I'm supposed to interpret any of this information. I don't know if the appearance of the beetle is a good sign or a bad sign. But I do know that I want to say goodbye to my grandfather, whom I call Ah-Gong. And if he can forgive me for my indiscretions, I would be very humble. I apologize for not visiting more often during his older years, and have no excuses. Goodbye, Ah-Gong.

Monday, April 21, 2008

An entry from the Dictionary of Bella Grace

Minnie Bihon - /MIN-nee BEE-hohn/. n. Origins: Philippines and US. Evolution of and pun on Filipino noodle dish, Miki Bihon, and Disney character used to describe a particularly cute baby named Isabella. See fig. 1. Also Monkey Bihon, Monster Bihon, Hungry Bihon, Naughty Bihon. Created by Momma Hsiny, authored and documented by Auntie Mingy.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Is it time yet? Can I send them??

So this past weekend, while out at a birthday party in the scorching heat of April, I found out that one of Rick's aunts reads my blog (hi Auntie Lola!). Now the pressure's on to post good and interesting stuff and not just ramblings of my unkempt mind. Sort of. ;)

My envelopes and embosser arrived today! I was so excited that I ripped the boxes open and started punching away and assembling. I've only made about 20 STDs, and half of them (the first half) I decided are substandard compared to the rest. So I don't think I'll be sending them out. Too bad. Such a waste of good paper. They're off center and the punched holes are too close. Anyone will tell me they're fine and to send them out anyway. So maybe I will. To those who might not notice. ;)

The embosser is my new favorite toy. Because it's customized, the envelopes look like we've had them professionally printed. Now if I could just master my handwriting skills... I've already addressed a few of the envelopes in a very fine point brown pen (this includes you, Auntie Lola). To those people, I apologize for my awful penmanship. As for the rest of them lucky ones, they'll be getting clear, computer-labeled envelopes. :) Then they'll really look professional. AHAHA!

The envelopes aren't as good as I had hoped, but they'll do. The color is pretty close to the right shade of sage, and when you order this kind of stuff online, it's hit or miss with the quality and color you expect.

I'll be sending out the STDs soon enough. I realize (again) that we're not even 365 days and counting yet - no need to rush the STDs. I hope to patiently hang on to them until July or August. *sigh* But it will give me some more time to hum and haw over whether or not to send out the slightly retarded STDs that people will just throw away anyways.

List of reminders for this month:

April 19 - Kathleen's bday party
April 25 - 27 - San Diego! Every year, Rick and I plan a mini-vacation the last week of April; a weekend getaway to celebrate our anniversary (April 30). And this year, it's a very special weekend because our wedding date will be exactly one year from then. :) Kind of a pre-wedding anniversary / last trip of our boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. And it's all coincidental because we booked our trip before we booked our wedding date.

There should be more reminders. But I can't remember them. Darn.

Gotta finish my homework before we go down to SD. Which means I should finish week 2 early this week and start on week 3 by Saturday.

Pictures of Isabella to come soon. Actually, I can post this one that I really like. This was taken just a few hours after she was born. Of course, she's already grown a foot and a couple of pounds, but she still kind of looks the same. ;)

I'll post a REALLY cute picture of her as soon as I get my brother in law to send it to me. It's totally frickin hilarious!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

STD time...

No, I don't mean it's time to visit the doctor. It's time to post about Save The Date cards!!!! In wedding lingo, they're called STDs.

It's about time that I post some pictures about my crafting. I've made a couple of grocery totes, but no posts or pictures. So now that I'm on to paper crafting and will take a long time doing each set, here's the first of many wedding-related posts to come.

So I've had a lot of ideas on how to make my STDs. With all the DIY sites and projects as well as commercially printed ones, I ended up with something quite classic. And easy to do. I went through a bunch of ideas and formats, and although the ones I ended up making weren't my finalized ideals, they're much simpler and easier to make.

Here we go. My pictures aren't that great...
In progress...

My STDs consisted of a brown textured cardstock layer, then a printed sage green floral scrapbook page layer, then a printed layer of vellum, all tied together with a brown bow. Oh, and I attached a magnet on the back. :)

Here's what it looks like underneath:

I originally used tracing paper, which printed beautifully, but after cutting it down to size, about 4" x 6", the paper curled up at the edges so I had to go buy a pack of vellum instead. I wanted to create the look of the vellum without using vellum because it's so much pricier. My book of Strathmore tracing paper was less than $4. The pack of vellum for 50 sheets was $17.

And the final thing (with the vellum turned slightly because of how it's placed):

Strathmore textured brown 80lb. cover, 19 x 25 (cut 5 x 7 pieces)
Anna Griffin sage floral scrapbook paper 12 x 12 (cut 4 x 6 pieces)
Translucent vellum by WorldWin, inkjet printable 8.5 x 11 (print in 4 quarters)
Brown satin ribbon
Magnet strip (4 foot roll)

Cost per STD:
Brown paper $0.12
Sage floral paper $0.042
Vellum: $0.085
Brown ribbon: $0.01
Magnet: $0.11
Sage green envelope with felt finish, 70lb weight (coming in the mail from Envelope Mall) @ $12.95 per 100 = $0.129

So grand total cost for one STD: $0.496, which rounded up, is 50 CENTS!!!

I paid retail for the brown textured cardstock, the vellum, and the magnets. But the floral paper and brown ribbon were on sale at Michael's (you know, those 4 for $1 type sales!). The green envelopes were the most expensive because of the heavy felt finish, but also because they're size A7 (5 x 7) and no office supply store carries these special sizes.

It still takes me a while to create each STD because I'm just picky and meticulous about the sizes being just right, and making sure I cut straight with the rotary wheel and paper cutter is tedious and time consuming. But I have so much time, I'm relishing making each one perfect!!!!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Truly Grateful

Sometimes it takes a miracle for me to realize how blessed I am. And that miracle this time was the birth of my baby niece, Isabella Grace. I don't mean miracle in that she-was-never-supposed-to-live sort of way, I mean a simple, ordinary miracle of life itself.

I'll recount the events as they unfolded yesterday:

5:50am - I get a call from my brother-in-law. They're back in the hospital (after being there the morning prior, they were sent home until my sister was "ready" to go back). I pseudo jump up and ask if she's in full labor and he says no, it's still going to be a long while. I slump back down into the bed and think about getting up.

7:00am - I finally get out of bed and gather up my gear for the day. Rick and I have an initial appointment with the priest of the church we'd like to have our wedding at at 11:00am. I don't think we'll make it since we're planning on being in the hospital all day, but just in case, I put on makeup and a nicer pair of jeans. I'm selfishly disappointed, but shake it off and say that we can meet with the priest another day and if the sites get booked, then it wasn't meant to be.

9:00am - We arrive at the hospital and my sister's stomach is enormous. She must have grown another few inches the last two weeks! She's exhausted, having not slept more than an hour in the past 48 hours due to contractions and pain. She'd just gotten her epidural when we arrived, so was slightly subdued and apparently much calmer than the previous hours. ;) But she's lost a couple centimeters in terms of "readiness".

9:20am - My sister reminds us to go feed her bird and asks that we bring her pillow back. The hospital pillows are flat and she wants her own. She tells us that it's still going to be a long while and tells us to keep our appointment with the priest. We leave to go feed her bird, get her pillow, and while we're there notice that the a/c vent in the baby's room has partially fallen down. I'm not sure if this was intentional for any reason (you'd have to know my brother-in-law) so I call and he has no idea what we're talking about. At the slightest touch, the vent completely comes out of the ceiling and the paint/drywall falls all over the crib. AACK! We tear up the house looking for tape or nails or screws. We find pushpins in the office and a plastic bag, and secure that sucker over the vent.

10:15am - We head out to the church and get there 15 minutes early. A quinceanera celebration just let out and the girl was so cute in her white ballgown. These things always seem like someone really young is getting married. Although the "bridesmaids" or attendants or whatever really could have used more appropriate hem lengths and heel heights, in MY opinion. You're in a church!

11:00 - We sit down with Father Dennis and have a chat. A lot of what went on in that office is very personal so I won't mention any details. I think I've been missing the church a lot and let down my walls as soon as I stepped into his office. It was as if I'd been waiting interminable years for a safe haven to share my thoughts and feelings. Let's just say that we "passed" with flying colors and the priest happily agreed to marry us. Unfortunately, the afternoon wedding times were all taken up, not just for OUR proposed date, but for ALL Saturdays before and after ours! ALL of them were already booked! I couldn't believe it. So we ended up choosing a noon ceremony time.

11:30 - Back in the car, I feel very loved and slightly embarrassed. We call the reception site to see if we could go down and finally put our deposit down since we got our date at the church, and we were closer by. I make a point to say, "We want to put our DEPOSIT down TODAY." The director says her next available appointment is 4:00. I *sigh* but agree, thinking I'd be back in the hospital and then have to drive back out there. I figure I can cancel later if necessary.

11:35 - In our haste to get to the church on time (haha) I left my sister's pillow on the couch. So we head back to her house instead of the hospital. The director at the reception site calls and says she's had a cancellation and she can see us at 3:00. I agree without thinking about it, but then wonder if the later time would be better if my sister has her baby soon.

12:00 - We get the pillow, grab a bite to eat, and head back to the hospital.

12:15 - My sister is really uncomfortable now, and when the nurse comes to check her we leave the room and wait to be let back in. There are no other visitors around, and many of the rooms are empty. While loitering in the hallway for just 30 seconds with Rick and my brother-in-law, another nurse comes by and asks us if she can help us. I gesture to the closed door and just mumble something about waiting. And she says shortly, "You need to wait in the waiting room" and walks away. And I roll my eyes, but think, My sister is allowed 5 people in the room with her and we've just stepped outside because she's getting her hoo-ha checked, and then we'll go back in and WAIT. OK?!" My brother-in-law laughs, and says we might as well wait in the waiting room then. So we head over. Moments later, my brother-in-law chases us down and says that his wife has asked us to go, and that he'll call me when the baby's here. He acts like he feels bad about asking us to leave, so I fake pout, the boys laugh, and Rick and I head out.

1:00 - We sit in the car and wonder what to do for two hours until our appointment. We're tired too from all the driving. I rack my brain and think about what's along the way. We've already driven more than 100 miles. [For those of you LA-ites, we live in Burbank, the hospital is in Baldwin Park, my sister's house is in Glendora, the church is in Diamond Bar, and the reception site is in Corona. Yep. Practically three different counties, and we're doing this diagonal zigzag driving pattern.] We decide to go to the Brea mall.

1:30 - We arrive at the mall and just take a stroll. There are lots of people at the mall and lots of sales. The only thing we buy is a fishing video game. :)

2:15 - We head out to the reception site and get there 15 minutes early. We poke our heads in the office to see if she's with other clients, but the ladies in there are just at their computers. So we settle in, discuss our package, Rick makes some big decisions for us, I write the giant check that is our deposit, and she takes out this giant box. Inside the box is a binder. Inside the binder are tabbed sections of everything I want or need to know about everything that comes in our package. I'm so ecstatic because I'd been asking random, detailed questions over email and getting half and unclear answers.

3:30 - While going over the details in the binder, my phone rings. Loudly. I apologize, but answer the phone - it's my brother-in-law. I say, HELLO? And he says, "When can you come back here?" in a new-father tone that only a new father has. And I laugh and share the excitement with Rick and the girls in the office.

3:40 - We rush out of there and head back to the hospital. We decide to take a different, straighter way back to the hospital, which also passes by the church. It's a great route and there are new shopping complexes on the highway - perfect for our guests to waste time between our events.

4:15 - Isabella Grace is so pretty! She's 6 lbs. 13 ounces, 21 inches of pure delight. 10 fingers, 10 toes. LOTS of hair!! I get to hold her first and she opens her eyes and looks at me and yawns. It's precious. She has the softest skin and is perfect. My mom arrives and oohs and aahs over her first granddaughter and we all take pictures. We debate about whose nose she has.

The next few hours were a blur. We left the hospital because my sister needed to breastfeed and she was exhausted and starting to get snappy. Rick and I headed back (again) to her house, packed up her bird and his accessories, stopped in San Marino for Italian fast-food to-go and a quick chat with friends, and finally got home to eat and have the bird settled in.

I climbed in the shower at 8:00pm and cried. Bawled like a baby. But for the first time in my life, this sudden outburst was not sad tears, but tears that were so happy and so grateful that my cup literally runneth over. You ever see those televised chuch gospel things where they show some lady singing with her hands raised in the air, and tears are streaming down her face as she shouts the hymn? And you wonder, what in the heck is going on? Why is she sad??? Now I get it. It's not sadness, it's an emotion so profound and so overwhelming that the only way to really soak it all in is to let it all out.

The way the whole day unfolded was a miracle, like God had planned this whole day filled with excitement and anticipation. After weeks of frustration and waiting for appointments with the church and site, and anxiety for the baby, never did I imagine that we would get both our church and reception site booked let alone a brand new life introduced to the world all on the same day. And we didn't miss anything. I am so grateful for everything and everyone I have. It definitely was a day of vulnerability for me, and Rick was by my side the whole way.