Thursday, October 29, 2009


I won't even try to explain my absence. So let's just move on...

I hope you're all watching Glee on Fox. It is such a great show, and totally takes me back to my days in show choir. Now, I realize that high school was many years ago, or maybe my school just wasn't as modern as some others, but our "glee club" wasn't nearly as fun as the one on this show. We didn't get to sing contemporary songs or wear normal-ish costumes. (I would post a photo of our red/black, spandex, flame-design dresses, but it's just too embarassing!) And I have to give major props to Tim Davis, because the vocal arrangements are just incredible! What's more impressive is that most of the actors are singing their own parts. And even if you're not into the music like I am, the writing is very funny and well, anything that Jane Lynch does is alright in my book. Anyway, all this is to say that if you're not watching, you should be. Wednesday nights at 9PM on Fox.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Technology Overload

I have long wished that the hackers and virus-makers of the world would find something more productive and positive to do with their time, so that I wouldn't be expected to remember endless usernames and passwords just to access the many websites that I frequent. And while we're on that subject, why does every site require a login? And why do they all have different requirements? It makes my head hurt just thinking about it, and even though I have written a book (literally, albeit a small one--ok, it was more like a large brochure) on identity theft and safeguarding your personal information, it makes me angry to have to follow the rules about memorizing everything and making passwords hard to guess. Because guess what? If they're hard for someone else to guess, they're hard for me to remember!!!

But I digress.

For the past three years, I have found it increasingly difficult to come up with interesting things to post on my blog. I thought maybe I had run out of material worthy of being shared, or maybe I had lost my creative edge, or maybe my life was simply not that interesting anymore. But then I realized... technology overload is to blame.

With all the mediums we use today to stay connected with friends and family--multiple email accounts, text messaging, IM, Facebook, Twitter, a blog and a professional website (and those are just the ones I use; some people also use MySpace, eHarmony, et al)--there simply isn't enough time in a given day (or even week) to update them all. Well, unless you make that your full-time job. But who would be willing to pay me to sit at my computer all day and update everyone with the inane details of my life? And it's rather narcissistic, really, that we all seem to believe we are important enough that anyone would even care about what we are doing or what we have to say.

I wish I had a solution to this growing problem. But it seems that as life gets busier, it only becomes more difficult to find time to keep up the updates. So I am open to any suggestions from blogland on this topic. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My New Website

After singing for six years, I finally got around to creating my own website. Everyone has one these days, so why shouldn't I? And hopefully it will bring in some new work! So go to to view my schedule, read my bio, hear my demo, and see photos of me performing!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Confessions of a Former Blog-aholic

Bless me, gods of the Blogosphere, for I have sinned. I have strayed from my once-upon-a-time addiction of informing my faithful readers of the minutia of my daily life. And by now I have surely lost favor with those now-faithless readers.

The holidays were crazy. The dog ate my laptop. I was abducted by aliens for research.

But really, I've just been busy. And/or maybe somewhat uninspired.

But it's a new year. And so, in the spirit of new year's resolutions, I ask your forgiveness for my past transgressions. And I resolve to try harder to entertain you this year. I am determined to find the will to get back on the wagon. To get back into a regular habit of entertaining the blog-reading public. To try to fill my schedule with things interesting enough to write about. To try to find humor or life lessons in the seemingly insignificant happenings. To try to redeem myself to those readers (if there are any left) who have painstakingly endured my absence.

I have a new website. Which will hopefully (despite the economy) produce more singing work. Which will hopefully set the stage for some interesting stories to tell you.

I have a new-ish job. In the past, the workplace has served me well for material.

I plan to take a (real) vacation this year. That should at least produce some good photos, and hopefully some good stories to go with them.

We're trying to have a baby. Which, if successful, will undoubtedly produce (both in the resulting nine months of pregnancy, as well as the 18-ish years of parenthood that typically follow) enough fodder for more frequent posts.

Happy new year!


OK. I know I'm probably the last person on the planet to discover the Twilight saga. But no matter. I still love it. And I'm still going to tell you about it.

I've always enjoyed reading. I'm not a particularly fast reader. But I enjoy books, even if it takes me a ridiculous amount of time to finish reading them. I had heard of these Twilight books, but they were for young adults. So I didn't bother. However, my husband having been a film/TV major back in college, we had to see the movie shortly after it came out around Thanksgiving.

Now I know what you're going to say. And now that I've read all four books (and seen the movie again after reading the first book, to see if it really IS better to read before watching), I agree with all you purists that the books are better and you should read them first. How could they not be, really? It's nearly impossible to pack 500+ pages of detail into a 90- to 120-minute film. Especially when so much of the book is the thoughts of the narrator/main character. But that's not to say I didn't enjoy the movie. In fact, that's what got me hooked.

I found myself spending my lunch hour the following Monday driving all over town to four different bookstores to obtain a complete set of hardbacks. And the next day I started reading. Every lunch hour. Every night before bed. Every day off. In record time (for me, at least) of three days, I had finished the first 500-page book. I thought it was just because I already knew the story that I was able to fly through the pages, but I found as I embarked on the 560-page journey of book two that I was reading even faster, sometimes staying up until 3AM, unable to put the book down. And book three (longer, at 630 pages) also flew by. Now (after a brief hiatus from reading because of the holidays) I'm 150 pages from the end of book four (a whopper, at 750+ pages), and I finally find myself slowing down. Not because I believe, as some others do, that book four isn't as good. But rather, because I'm sad to see the story end. I'm totally invested in these characters and this story, and so I'm dragging it out.
And as an added bonus, I've discovered some great new music from both the movie soundtrack and the bands thanked in the author's acknowledgements.

Anyway, if there is anyone left on Earth who HASN'T read it, you simply must. It's thrillingly intense, sexy, romantic, intelligent, and yet mostly age-appropriate. Don't let the 2500-page commitment deter you. It's easy reading, and so captivating that you'll fly through the chapters quicker than you ever thought possible.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The (not at all) Wicked Stepmother

It's been one year and 4 months since our wedding, the same day my Mother-in-Law had a fatal stroke. And not quite two weeks ago, my Father-in-Law got remarried.

The wedding ceremony and reception were tastefully executed, paying the proper respect to the loving relationship that Joe and Terry had shared for 43 years, but not making it another memorial service. However, it was still uncomfortable for many in attendance. Especially my dear husband, who was asked to stand beside his Father in support of this new union, when he really just wanted to punch a wall several times that weekend. I imagine that the event brought a reality and a finality to his Mother's death, more so than even the ceremony we held at Christmas to place her ashes in a niche. And I know he misses her greatly everyday, but this particular day those feelings were brought to the forefront of his consciousness. His sister had a difficult time as well. As did several of Joe and Terry's friends, who just couldn't pull it together and truthfully shouldn't have come if they couldn't be strong and supportive for the family. And of course, it was a much happier occasion for her guests, which was awkward for those of us who didn't know how to feel about it.

Her name is Susan. They met on eHarmony just 2 months after Terry died. She is lovely, kind and generous, and always tries to be sensitive to the situation with Dave's family. And she brings laughter and joy to Joe's life, for which I am thankful.

But she isn't Terry. She isn't the Mother-in-Law I signed up for. She isn't the woman I had only started to know and love when she was taken from us. And now that Dave and I are starting our own family, I find myself torn about this new, and somewhat unfamiliar, relationship. Neither I nor Dave begrudge his Dad a new partner with whom to enjoy his retirement and travel and be happy. But I know that Dave is not comfortable having a stepmother, especially this quickly. And I cannot imagine having my children call her Grandma, because their Grandmother is gone.

So many of my friends have told me that I will have no control over what my kids will call their grandparents, because you can't predict what they will say when they first use words to address them. So I guess I'm hoping that the first one will come up with some clever, cute phrase that will stick, that doesn't include any form of the word "grandmother". Or that I can guide it somehow. Maybe Papa Joe and SueSue?

Monday, September 15, 2008

So I have a new job. Actually, I have had for about 3 months now. But given my latest experience with new jobs, I was reluctant to post anything until I knew how I felt about it (which is why there was never a post about my previous job, which SUCKED). Anyway, now the jury is in about the new job, and the unanimous verdict is that I LOVE IT!

Nevermind that I'm sick this week because the past two weeks have been insanely stressful and busy (we had our biggest tradeshow last week, which falls under my responsibility to plan and execute -- it went off with rave reviews, by the way). I still enjoy it. I like the people, I'm challenged by the workload, my boss actually cares about and provides feedback on my projects, I'm learning new things, I'm traveling less than before (but still a little bit, and to much more interesting places), I'm getting paid fairly (though I'd take more if they offered!), the benefits are good, the company structure and culture are a great fit for me, the headquarters are new and beautifully decorated, the commute isn't bad (and it's close to my husband's office, so we carpool sometimes), and we have a fancy coffee/tea machine and baskets of snacks. They even got me an ice cream cake for my birthday last month and sang to me. I do miss the view from my old office atop the 12th floor, but that's really it.

It only took one bad employment experience to learn what's most important to me in a work environment. So I guess for that I'm thankful. But I'm more thankful to be out of that job and into this one, where I feel like I actually have a future and where I don't have to be miserable for one third of my life!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Psychic Revelations

My sister-in-law, Becky, visited a psychic recently. I don't necessarily believe in psychics, palm readers and the like, but I definitely think it would be entertaining to try it sometime. What I like even more, though, is when someone else tries it and learns something about me!

Apparently, when the psychic "saw" Becky's brother (my husband) and his wife (me), she saw a little girl soul tapping me on the shoulder.

Now I'm sure there could be many ways to interpret such a revelation. But since Dave and I have been talking about maybe trying to get pregnant in the next couple of months, the only interpretation I seem to be able to see is that there is a baby girl ready to join our family, just waiting for us to go off the pill (and apparently getting impatient -- we'll have to teach her when she gets here that tapping can sometimes be impolite!).

But like I said, I don't put my faith in these people who can "see the future" -- rather, I put my faith in God's plan for my life. However, it is really fun to think about having a little girl relatively soon -- maybe in as short as 10 months! (A note to my parents and anyone else who has been asking every time you see us: this is NOT, I repeat NOT, an announcement that we are pregnant.) We already have a name picked out. I have a couple of gender-neutral baby outfits that my grandmother gave to both me and my cousin when we were just teenagers. And the other day I was book shopping and found a baby food cookbook and a bedtime story book on sale -- so I bought them with the justification that we will hopefully need them someday. I guess now we just need to buy some pregnancy/parenting books, have a glass of wine, and get to it! :-)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Holiday Housewarming

Hoping that most of our invitees would have more freedom in their schedules to attend our party, we avoided the craziness of the holiday season's festivities and held our holiday/housewarming party the first Saturday in January. And attend they did... in droves! There were about 50 of our closest friends and family packed into our little 1250-square-foot condo! I suppose the heavy rains that weekend helped clear everyone's schedules of other non-rain-friendly activities. But we were nonetheless honored that they all chose to spend their evening with us, some even making the trek from LA (about 55 miles on average) for our little soiree!

Our signature drink flopped (way too sweet, but thankfully we had the cocktail carousel there to save the day!), but the multitude of hors d-oeuvres were a hit. For a good portion of the night I couldn't even see my little Gracie walking around amidst the hundreds (literally) of legs. But she was the belle of the ball and she survived. As did the expensive new rug and wine glasses. Not a single glass was broken, nor spot made on the carpet. What lovely, respectful friends we have! Then toward the end of the night the party migrated to our third-floor loft (where the pole is installed) for a little debauchery. (OK, no real debauchery was had, but there were some amusing moments as friends tried to spin round the pole without the benefit of the months upon months of training I've received. That's why I need to hold a class at my home for my girlfriends - so they can know what they're doing next time!)

So now our house is warmed.


Greek Week

Last October, Dave and finally got to take our long-overdue, reschueduled honeymoon. After all that happened last year, we were in desperate need of a vacation.

So after two full days of travel (including the time difference), we arrived in Santorini, Greece. Although it was nearly midnight and totally dark, I could tell the Santorini Princess was going to be beautiful come sunrise. Our hotel staff had been eagerly awaiting our arrival since late that afternoon (we had a delayed flight from Athens and got to spend several hours in the Athens airport; we made good use of the time by buying a Greek-English language guide book and learning some key conversational phrases), and took us on a tour of the property that ended with perfectly chilled champagne in our room. I cannot say enough about the staff's friendliness, professionalism, and the level of service we received. Or for that matter, the friendliness of the Greek people in general -- they are just lovely!

We awoke the next morning to the most breathtaking view. Out the front door of our "apartment" was the lower deck of the pool. And because our hotel was built on the caldera, on the other side of the pool was a cliff straight down to the ocean. One morning we ordered room service for breakfast, and ate on our porch as we looked out over the vast Mediterranean Sea and the tiny specks of the other Cyclades Islands. Another night we went up to the top deck and had cocktails and appetizers while we took in a beautiful sunset. Add to that the fact that immediately to our right was the restaurant, and two doors to the left was the spa, and we couldn't have been happier with our room.

We spent our first day relaxing by the pool while George and Igor served us delicious and creative drinks, followed by a 90-minute couples massage in the on-site spa. That night after dinner we took a stroll to a nearby village for drinks at a local pub (or whatever the Greek equivalent is).

On day two we rented an ATV to go exploring around the small island. I think we covered every inch of road (and some areas that were not necessarily accessible by road) that day. We saw an ouzerie next to one of the 250+ churches on this island alone (even our hotel had a little church -- they were seriously everywhere!), and spent an hour trying to understand the story the owner was telling in broken English. Something about a donkey whisperer. The next two days pretty much went like this... breakfast at 11 am when we finally decided to get out of bed, a couple hours at the pool, several hours of riding around exploring and taking photos and stopping at roadside cafes, ouzeries, etc., then dinner in Oia at one of the many scenic restaurants there. Friday night we went out to a local club. I had tired of my casual clothes and flip-flops, and was excited to get dressed up and wear some high heels. Even though we were on an ATV. And even though we had to walk up and down cobblestone streets that were very steep because of the location of the town on the cliff. But it was still fun. Saturday night there was a rain storm, so we ordered room service and busted out a bottle of Ouzo for some strip Phase 10. (If you'd like the rules, we videoed the whole thing so I could remember how to play for future use, and I'd be happy to share -- the rules, not our video.)

Sunday we traded in our ATV for a Crossblade (way cooler than a regular Smart car), and went to the island's wine museum for a tour and some wine tasting. That night we were driving into Oia for dinner and came across a restaurant with a firepit. Since it was chilly that night, we decided this was where we should eat. Well, it turns out that this particular restaurant was where the local business owners came after they closed up shop. So we stayed for quite a while, listening to them sing and watching them dance, and soaking in the local culture. Monday was cold and windy, so we did some shopping and enjoyed a conversation at a cafe in Oia with another couple from Southern California.

The next morning we flew to Athens. We had planned one day in the capital at the end of the trip, to try to see some of the amazing historical and mythological sites there. Our cab driver was hysterical. He went on and on about where we should go (at least I think that's what he was saying -- we only undersood about every 10th word), and gave us some maps of the city that looked like they had been used more than a few times. Then when he dropped us at our hotel, he insisted I take his bright orange Shell Oil laniard (which was rather dirty) to hold my cell phone (which didn't work in Europe) and hotel key (which was a card, not a key). He was the sweetest man. Anyway, we spent 6 hours or so walking around the city, visiting the Acropolis, several temples, the national garden, the Olympic stadium, et al. And then after a quick nap, we found a great little wine bar near our hotel and had a leisurely dinner with a couple bottles of wine and played cards for three hours.

Then it was time to come home. Ten days is a perfect amount of time to feel like you've really gotten away, but in Europe it's just not enough because you're barely starting to become accustomed to the more relaxed lifestyle.

As soon as we finish editing and captioning the hundreds of photos we took, I'll post a slideshow if I can figure it out, or at least a few more photos.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Happiest/Saddest Day of My Life

There aren't words to adequately describe the juxtaposition of emotions we felt on our wedding day. No one ever expects to couple such a joyous event with such a devastating loss. But the day itself was beautiful. The weather was perfect. I felt like a princess. And our photographer was amazing. So although we didn't get the celebration we had planned, and although our wedding-day memories are tainted with tears, we did manage to get some incredible images of Dave and I before the ceremony. (Regrettably, we didn't get any images of our families or wedding party -- those were planned for later in the day, and so they never happened.)
*Most images courtesy Natalie Moser Photography

Monday, January 07, 2008

More Than Meets the Eye

If you're my age and grew up with boys in the house, you know about the world of Autobots and Decepticons. But what you don't know is that Transformers are so much cooler as an adult.

Maybe it's the nostalgia talking, but I loved this movie when we saw it in the theater. And when we watched the DVD the other night that I got for Christmas, I loved it just as much (it helps to have all the HD technology for this one). When Optimus Prime and Megatron showed up, along with several other original characters, well it just took me back. Sure, it won't be winning any Oscars (except maybe for the special effects), but it was wildly entertaining. Now I just need to buy the toys.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I Work at Dunder-Mifflin, Irvine Branch

We may not sell paper, but our product is equally dull to those of us charged with marketing and growing the business. And we have many of the same employees...

Our Michael Scott is not a petite man, but a rather large, athletically built man. Though the inappropriate humor and cluelessness about managing employees remains identical. We recently went to Hooters for his birthday lunch. Enough said.

We have the distinct pleasure of having not one, but two Dwight Schrute characters. Neither is a beet farmer from Amish country, but one is a Jewish mother who thinks she runs the place and has an opinion and some self-proclaimed expertise about EVERYTHING, and the other is a tobacco-chewing redneck who tries to blend in in the OC and is all about gaining exposure to the executives. Or maybe he's our Andy Bernard.

Our Pam Beesly is slightly hotter and slightly sluttier than Jenna Fischer, but has a similarly dull job, consisting mostly of answering phones, copying and faxing, distributing mail, and running personal errands for our two fraternal co-presidents.

Our Jim Halpert is young, not super-ambitious, and I'm pretty sure he has the hots for our "Pam".

Our Ryan Howard is my boss' boss, and although he's young to be in such a role, he is very sharp.

Our Kelly just left. She was a talker with NO FILTER whatsoever, always wanted to be involved in everyone's business, thought she was a fashionista but was never actually that cute, and I think secretly had the hots for one of the execs.

Our Oscar quit regrettably soon after I started. But we're hiring, so I have high hopes of getting a gay man in here to round out our workplace diversity. Plus, if our old "Oscar" was ever in the closet, it was a closet with no doors.

Our Angela isn't so much a religious fanatic, but she's pretty high-strung and very straight-laced and shockable. And she dresses equally as conservatively.

Our Toby is our new HR person, so I don't know much about her yet. But from my initial interactions, I'd say she's going to try to rein in our "Michael" with some new policies and procedures.

We're a small team, so we're missing some key characters -- Meredith, Stanley, Jan, Karen, Creed, Kevin, Phyllis, Roy, etc. There's actually some crossover in characters with our employees, so the antics are no less entertaining.

And who am I, you ask? I prefer to think of myself as part of the film crew. Or maybe just a casual observer of the Orange County small company worker bee, taking notes for future episodes.

Are you a Dunder-Mifflin employee? Find out which one here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Home Sweet Home

Terry left Dave and I an incredible gift that allowed us to purchase our first home. So after the grueling process of househunting and escrow, I am pleased to announce that we are (as of August 24 - yet again my husband gives me an amazing birthday gift!) the proud owners of one Ladera Ranch, CA condominium. And we couldn't be happier.

It's small, but perfect for us right now and through the next five years. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, dramatic vaulted ceilings, beautiful wood floors, and a huge loft (which right now is an office/pole room, but will later become the guest room when the current guest room becomes a nursery!). It's in a great area, with beautifully manicured landscapes and shopping centers containing every store one could ever need (I can walk to the Happy Nails and the Starbucks -- need I say more?!). The community is Gracie-friendly, with a dog park called Wagsdale (how cute?!) and doggy-stops along the many trails that offer bags and trash cans. Our neighbors are much like us -- young couples and young families -- and I think we'll make some very good friends there.

Plus, with all the wedding gifts we received from our generous friends and family, everything in the house (save for a few items) is new! And we just finished painting and I'm nearly done decorating, so it's just about time for a housewarming party to properly break it in!

Thankfully, the recent fires in Orange County did not come near us. I truly believe that Terry is our personal angel in heaven, watching over us and ensuring that we are taken care of. And although nothing can ever take away the pain of losing a Mother or Mother-in-Law, we get to remember her everyday when we come home to the house that she made possible. We are very thankful to be so blessed!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

For Terry

I remember the day I met Dave's parents. We had only been dating for a couple of weeks, but they would be in town for his housewarming party, and even though it was early in our relationship, he wanted me to meet them. So after he took me out for my birthday, we picked up his parents and had drinks. I remember thinking that they were a warm and vivacious couple, and feeling comfortable with them immediately, despite the self-induced pressure of wanting to impress them. We spent the entire next day helping prepare his house for the party, and I had so much fun getting to know them.

I remember our first Thanksgiving together. Dave's parents invited me to join their family at their vacation home in Sunriver. I remember how welcome they made me feel, and what wonderful hosts they were. I remember spending time in the kitchen together and eating a lot of incredible food. And playing games and doing puzzles and trips into the village.

I remember a lot of trips to Portland, and a lot of their trips to California, where we spent wonderful times together.

I remember my bridal shower in Portland. I was unsure at first whether I wanted to do it, since my bridesmaids already had a shower planned at home and I wouldn't know anyone there except my future mother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece. But I decided to go -- it seemed that Terry's friends really wanted to throw this shower for me -- and we had a fun night at the theater, followed by a lovely shower, followed by a fun night at the niece/nephews' school auction. I remember being thankful that I decided to go, and how I felt closer to my new family than before.

I remember having arguments over the wedding guest list. And being thankful that Dave's parents were so willing to help, both financially and logistically, but feeling overwhelmed by all of their input. I remember dinner with both sets of parents two days before the wedding, where they met for the first time. And feeling lucky that they got along so well, and excited about family events that we'd all share together in the future. I remember feeling rushed and completely stressed-out with last-minute preparations the day before the wedding, and not being as kind as I should have been to those who had come out for the rehearsal that morning. I remember arriving late to the beautiful rehearsal dinner that Joe and Terry had put together completely on their own, and not even enjoying that time because I had had such a crazy day. I remember taking a half of a Xanax to help take the day's edge off, and then not remembering much else after that.

But I do remember our wedding day. Everyone remembers their wedding day. It's supposed to be a beautiful day, a culmination of all your planning, the happiest day of your life. I remember hanging out with all the girls in the bridal cottage while we got our hair and make-up done, drinking champagne, rehearsing my vows, talking about the event that evening and the honeymoon and the new life that Dave and I were about to begin. I remember how excited Terry was to see the rings and my dress.

And then I remember her collapsing while I was being laced into my dress in preparation for the photos that we were about to begin taking. And I remember not being able to wake her up. I remember the ambulance pulling up behind our cottage, just in front of the acres of vines, and I remember her husband's face as he left with her to go to the hospital. I remember my fiance's face when he asked me to please tell him what was happening -- the reaction I had anticipated all those months, one of joy to see me for the first time as his bride, was missing; instead he looked scared and shocked. I remember having to tell him about his Mom because everyone thought he should hear it from me, and telling him that no matter what the outcome, I'd be by his side and everything would be ok. And I remember the sadness that fell over everyone there -- our families, our wedding party, the winery staff, the vendors.

I remember Dave's father instructing us to proceed because we didn't know what had happened, or how serious Terry's condition was. I remember starting late so we could all compose ourselves before the ceremony. I remember that it was not a happy ceremony as it should have been, because there was an important set of parents missing. I remember Dave and his sister being rushed to the hospital immediately after the ceremony, because Terry's condition had worsened. I remember greeting our guests at what should have been our reception without my new husband, thanking them for coming, and checking in with my brother-in-law for constant updates. I remember conversations with my Matron of Honor, the Best Man, my father, and the wedding coordinator about our Plan B if the worst should happen. I remember there were no toasts, no photos taken, no dancing. Just dinner, and then everyone left.

I remember arriving at the hospital in my wedding gown and pacing the ICU waiting room and surrounding halls until my husband came out. I remember him asking me not to come into her room, because he didn't want me to remember his Mom that way. So I waited with friends and family outside each time he went in to be with her. I remember our first night together as a married couple, and how it was not romantic, how we didn't get to enjoy our beautiful room, how the sex we had waited for seemed inappropriate and so didn't happen, how we just went to sleep holding each other, crying until there were no tears left. I remember the next day, listening to Joe update everyone who had come to the hospital that his beloved Terry was going to die. That she had had a stroke from a blood clot in her medulla, that she was in a deep, irreversible coma, and that there was no hope that she would come out of it. That all we could do was stand vigil and love her to the end and wait for him to lose his wife. I remember helping the Best Man cancel our honeymoon. I remember the following day, when Joe made the difficult decision to honor Terry's wishes by taking her off the machines that were artificially keeping her alive. I remember many prayers asking the Lord to take her quickly, so she wouldn't suffer long when they removed the breathing tube. I remember Joe's and my dear husband's faces when they told us that Terry had at last gone to Heaven. I remember saying goodbye to her, promising to take care of her son. And how she didn't look like herself -- like her sweet spirit had been gone from the moment of the stroke and her body was empty in the hospital those two days. I remember going out for drinks afterward, to celebrate her life.

I remember spending our first two weeks as husband and wife not on our honeymoon in Greece, but in Portland, staying with Joe so he wouldn't be alone in their house, helping with funeral arrangements, celebrating a very somber Mother's Day without Terry, and attending her funeral.

I remember how it took my husband over a month to even look at a single wedding photo, because the memories of that day were not happy the way they are for most newlyweds. And how we have only a handful of professional photographs of the two of us, and a lot of candids from family and friends of the ceremony, but no photos whatsoever of our wedding party or families, or of the reception that never happened. And how Terry wasn't in any of the pictures we have from early in the day, except in the background. And how we still -- six months later -- haven't watched our video.

But now, above all else, I hope to always remember Terry. And to remember the impact she had on my life and the lives of everyone she met. To be the kind of wife to her son, and daughter-in-law, and (eventual) mother to her grandchildren that she could be proud of.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A Little Bit Naughty, A Little Bit Nice

After giving me a perfect gift our first Christmas together and then giving me the best birthday gift ever, I had come to accept that Dave was simply a better gift-giver than I. But this year for Christmas, I thought I had come up with the perfect gift to put our gift-giving skills on the same level. And yet he still one-upped me.

We love wine. We're getting married in six weeks at a vineyard. For his birthday last year, I got him a really good wine bottle opener (along with several other things, of course). So for Christmas last year, I decided to go big and get him a wine fridge. After all, even though it was a more expensive gift than I budgeted for, it would benefit us both for many years, so it was worth it. He loved it so much that he wanted to sleep under the tree in the living room with his fridge that night. Even now, three months later, he still gets excited every time we pull out another perfectly chilled bottle of red, white or champagne. I did good -- real good.

But even so, he outdid me. He may have even outdone himself (though I don't know if a gift will ever truly be better than a diamond ring). I have been addicted to S Factor for nine months. I've never missed a week, and it's the first workout I actually crave all week long. So for Christmas, he made it possible for me to workout whenever I want. He got me...

a pole! (photos coming soon -- just of the pole, not of me on it, you perverts)

It's in the middle of the living room. We don't usually take it down when we have company, unless it's the parental units. He loves to show it off to his friends -- that his fiancee is a pseudo-stripper. I've even shown some of our closest friends a few pole tricks (clothed, of course). And I can't deny that I like having it up, too. It's a reminder of this new power I've discovered.

I'm thinking of having my girlfriends over for dinner, wine and some pole-dancing/lap dance/striptease lessons! (No boys allowed!)

Garza Azul

Hey there, faithful readers (if there are any of you left)! I can't believe how long I've been away. A lot has happened in the last six months, and a lot has changed. So here I bring you the first of several installments chronicaling the new and improved life of Nicole.

We went to Mexico for Thanksgiving. But this vacation was not to a typical resort town in Mexico, with tourists everywhere, modern amenities, overpriced restaurants and multiple entertainment options. Rather, we were headed to a tiny village just south of Guadalajara. True Mexico, where no one speaks a lick of English, but where everything is authentic and somehow charming despite its primitiveness. At first mention of the trip, I was a bit concerned about having no phone, no Internet, no connection of any kind to the outside world. But I quickly embraced the idea of a relaxing retreat from our stressful lives, with nothing to do for an entire week but lay by the pool, read, play games, shop in the local villages, and eat authentic, home-cooked meals.

After a five-hour flight from Los Angeles, followed by a one-hour drive from the airport in Guadalajara to the house we rented in the remote area of Lake Chapala, we were ready to settle in and start the relaxation. But we soon discovered that there were a few omissions in the description and photos on the American owner's web site. First, the house was home to the largest spiders I've ever seen. And you couldn't kill them because they ate all the other bugs. I had to take a Xanax every night just so I could fall asleep with the 3-inches-in-diameter spider on the wall directly above my head. The pool was infested with wasps and all other manner of flying, stinging insects. I got stung once and decided not to go back, so I didn't come home with a winter tan like I had hoped. Our room was filled with gnats the first night because someone left the light on the night before we arrived. Said room was also on the side of the house with no hot water, so showering was a major production. And there were bats there, including one baby bat who took up residence in the corner of our bathroom.

But it wasn't all bad. We played A LOT of games. Which is one of my favorite things to do. We spent time in the surrounding pueblos, and I learned that I actually know more Spanish than I thought. I woke up every morning at whatever time I wanted, and did Pilates on one of the many balconies overlooking the lake. We were with a great group of friends, one of whom was formerly a professional chef. So we ate a lot of fantastic food made with the freshest ingredients and, of course, did our fair share of drinking. And Dave and I took some photos on the grounds (which were beautiful) that we were able to use in our save-the-dates.

I don't know if I'd go again. It was definitely lacking in some of the luxuries that I prefer on my vacations and just in life, in general. (I'm really not a roughing-it kind of girl.) But it was an adventure, and the memories are priceless.