All posts filed under “thoughts

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Thoughts : Mass Transit Tirade

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The thing about New Yorkers is, they are the kind of people that will one day stop randomly and help carry a stroller up the stairs and the very next day will push you down them all because of what mood they’re in.

 

I know this, because I am one of them.

 

I could go on and on about the assholes I encounter and the ridiculous situations I endure whilst commuting, but I try not to. Mostly because I think the things you dwell on and talk about breed similar things, so if I don’t focus on assholes, I’ll encounter less of them. But sometimes I wonder if bottling it all up as I do isn’t perhaps worse for me in some grander scheme of things…

 

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Anyway, last week two incidents happened in quick succession that made me want to rant. First the drawstring of my jacket got caught in the seat as I went to stand up at my stop. After the initial panic of getting stuck on the train an extra stop (really not that much of an emergency), I extricated myself and attempted to exit but was faced with a wall of blank faces attached to zombie-shuffling bodies who were somehow unable to move intelligently aside. I was sitting next to the door, for crying out loud—anybody with a modicum of observational skills should’ve seen me struggling 3 seconds earlier!

 

After elbowing my way out through the crowd, I was met with a continued horde of people coming down the stairs three abreast. (All this at 3pm—not even rush hour.) I chose the right hand side of the stairs (you know, the polite side), and head down, I started climbing. That is until I came face to knees with someone who started screaming, “I need the railing. I need the railing. I need the railing.” Paralyzed, I gestured wordlessly at the people coming down the stairs shoulder to shoulder with him blocking me from going anywhere. They too momentarily froze at his alarming yelling until finally one of them scooted aside while the entire subway vestibule watched me make myself as small as possible to scoot around this guy.

 

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this guy stank of so much cologne my eyes were watering

 

And, as I type this, an enormous man has sat down on the outer seat of my three-person seat on the LIRR. He proceeds to gasp for air in the ridiculous November heat, removing his suit jacket and draping it all over my purse that is taking up exactly one third of the middle seat. Fuming already, I move the purse in a huff. He doesn’t notice. He then proceeds to repeatedly drop his enormous paw on the center seat, shaking the entire bench each time.

 

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This is killing me.

 

When it became inevitable that Scott was losing his job, I really didn’t give a shit except for the selfish little girl in me that knew that commuting alone would break me.

 

In the too many years that we’ve been doing this, we’ve been taking the same train home for nearly all of it. It’s so awful and so crowded and I’m so so stupidly sensitive to it, that I immediately started taking a different, later, looonger train just because it’s less crowded.

 

Until this fat, personal-space-oblivious, coughing, seat-shaking asshole ruined it.

 

AND my left hand spells like old black man probably from the overhead bar I grabbed on the subway.

 

That may be the grossest thing that’s ever happened to me.

 

And probably the karma I mentioned at the beginning of this post…

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Style : Safety

 

In case you haven’t read Better in Real Life’s post about violence against women, uh, go do that and then come back:

 

Ok, hi again.

 

So last week I wore what I thought was a relatively conservative outfit to work:

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On the way to the train, walking down my sleepy suburban main street, I got tailed by 2 20-something dudes in an SUV yelling things at me that I thankfully couldn’t hear. This is so uncommon blue that for a minute I thought I had dropped something before I realized what was going on.

 

Then when I was getting off the train in the city an older man with a glint of serial killer in his eye got all up in my face squeezing by (when there was plenty of room) and breathed, “hey sexy” at me so quietly I thought I was imagining things.

 

Later on, one of the crowd of random workers who hangs out on our office buildings steps attempted to say hello. It was actually polite, and he probably meant well, but by then I’d had it.

 

This day had me thinking in circles about women and objectification, and feeling threatened, and how white tights are apparently more sexual than black, and what exact level of dowdiness one must wear to be left alone. I thought about the models I see being gawked at openly, and sometimes approached and harassed. I thought about the women who aren’t so fortunate as to have things left at a gawk or even a grope. I thought a lot about how when we aren’t sartorially “asking for it,” we are still apparently deserving of it.

 

And mostly, I wondered how we can handle these situations in such a way that tells the perpetrator that their behavior is NOT okay, without potentially risking our safety in the process. Is this even possible?

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Weekend : Autumn in NY

Instead of rambling on and on about all of my issues, I thought I’d share some photos I took this weekend of Central Park.

 

Autumn has always been my favorite season, partially due to its color palette, but mostly due its demand that I stop and appreciate it because [unlike spring and summer], I am most decidedly NOT looking forward to what’s coming next.

 

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Insomnia

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This is what insomnia looks like.

 

I’ve never had this problem before. I may not be the best at sleeping normally, but I’ve never been not able to sleep at all ever before in my life. I’m the person who can sleep just about anywhere for 12-14 hours at a clip. My cat naps are 4 hours long.

 

This is not to say I get to indulge in this behavior regularly. In the days and weeks leading up to the wedding I was averaging 5 hours or less a night. Therefore, armed with stories of post-wedding exhaustion, I was fully expecting these kinds of bad habits to backfire by the honeymoon. But what I was prepared for was too much sleeping, guilt-ridden lazy days on the beach with lots of naps.

 

Not adrenaline-filled, panic-stricken, lonely insomnia.

 

It started on the third night of the trip, just as I had concluded we’d escaped unscathed from the evil clutches of jetlag. At our secluded little house on a cliff face in a tiny village on the Amalfi Coast, we fell asleep around 10pm, much as we had the night before. Being on a geriatric sleep schedule didn’t bother me, because it meant getting up earlier and doing more during the day! Except then I woke up at 1am, feeling as alert as if I was waking from some kind of enchanted slumber.

 

So I read my book, which was just the kind of edge-of-your-seat-disaster-movie-thrill-ride to render it totally inappropriate for a relaxing honeymoon. And then it was 3am, and I finished my book. (The only one I’d brought with me!) With no TV, and the wine finished too, I started to feel a bit anxious.

 

This is when the noises started getting to me.

 

First it was the church bells which, ringing every fifteen minutes like literal clockwork, reminded me of exactly how long I’d been attempting to sleep. Then it was the remarkably persistent owl. Finally somewhere around 4:30am, after a solid hour of Angry Birds, and some reading of guide books which only deepened my panic about “how are we going to get things done if I’ve only slept 3 hours!, a rooster took over for the owl.

 

A fucking rooster.

 

I was disgusted at myself for being deprived of sleep by such aural monstrosities as church bells, an owl, and a rooster. Even the constant rush of the river down the valley to the ocean had gotten under my skin. (As well as the kids playing soccer and whinnying horses that later bothered me during a daytime nap.) Put me next to a freeway and it serves as a free white noise machine, but play some mountain village noises and I become a city girl losing my shit.

 

This pattern repeated itself on several nights throughout our week there, and as some days we had actual plans, I did wind up running on 3 or 4 hours of sleep. Not a great recipe for a relaxing honeymoon. It’s continued on and off since we got back, leaving me lying awake with racing thoughts about things I *have* to do the next day that aren’t generally all that important anyway.

 

In fact, according to Martha Beck (can I just say that I love Martha Beck) in November’s O Magazine, I have all the symptoms of burnout:

 

Me Pre-Wedding: “Driven: You’re working flat-out, in a non-stop blur of accomplishment. You feel you can go on like this forever! You can’t!”

 

Me Between Wedding and Honeymoon: “Dragging: You’re sucking up sugar and caffeine to fight fatigue…”

 

Me During the Honeymoon: “Losing It: You’re visibly tired, visibly plump (or alarmingly preskeletal), and perpetually grumpy. You lie awake nights, thoughts racing, longing for sleep. At work and at home, you’ve developed a charming habit of biting people’s heads off.

 

Me Post-Honeymoon: “Hitting the wall: You’re racked by aches and pains, gaining or losing weight, prone to temper tantrums or crying jags, hard-pressed to remember things like computer passwords or your children’s names.”

 

I don’t usually take magazine advice seriously, but I think maybe I’ll follow the steps in this one. Not surprisingly, it says to eat better, sleep more, exercise gently, and avoid sources of stress.

 

Anyone else ever take a relaxing vacation that backfired?

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Thoughts : I’m Not the Best at Anything

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This cat is the best at extreme napping, Ravello, Italy

Because I’m OK at photography.

Duh. I mean if I was, you might have heard of me, or I’d probably have more exciting things to share, or at least I’ve have mentioned my Guinness world record of butterfly collecting.

The other day (meaning about three months ago, before post-wedding lazy time) I went for a run and it was getting dark and I was practically alone in the park, and trying to get as hot and sweaty as possible so that I could tolerate a cold shower since we had no hot water. And I decided to run as fast as I could. And it seemed pretty fast. And it was definitely fun. And I remembered how I was the second fastest girl in my elementary school and although I loved running I didn’t pursue it competitively because I wasn’t the best.

That first fastest girl? Yea, she ultimately won the state championships and graduated from Annapolis.

Sure, the were other reasons I didn’t pursue running. For one, I am intrinsically driven by beauty, and although some may argue about Olympic beauty and strength and power, I never saw it as a something to which I wanted to aspire. And gym teachers/coaches scared the begeezus out of me.

 

I was not an athlete.

I was a dancer.

At least more so than anything else.

See I’ve spent most of my life searching for the thing I could be the best at.

And other than getting a perfect score on the verbal SAT, I haven’t found it.

Nobody told me that you should find something you’re reasonably good at but love the hell out of and then work your ass off until one day maybe you’re close enough to the best but by then you no longer care.

 

And this is why I’m a dilettante.

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I’m back.

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Leave it to me to (half-assedly) plan posts for our honeymoon, and then totally disappear upon our return.

 

Typical.

 

My absence has been the combination of a lot of things: exhaustion, sickness—but mostly an avoidance of all things wedding. I have a lot left to say about the wedding, but I’m not quite sure how to manage to say it.

 

But as far as the life of this blog outside wedding goes, here’s the deal:

 

As I observed several lovely ladies I admire struggle with the direction of their blog post-wedding, I put some thought into what I wanted to do with mine and formulated a plan.

 

When I started blogging (embarrassingly long ago, and very very slowly), this place was not so much wedding-oriented, as my mind was not so much wedding-focused, and so I should like to go back to that.

 

I’ve got lots of big ideas. And now, post-wedding, I have the time and the nerve to get going on some of them and I’d like to use this place as a laboratory for that. Some may never get off the ground, and others may eventually need their own space, but this is as good a place as any to start.

 

But more than that, I want to continue breaking down blog pretty.

 

Allow me to illustrate what I mean with an example.

 

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A few days after we got back from Italy, I dragged Scott to the beach because it was allegedly the last warm weekend of summer (on October 8th), I was feeling crappy that we didn’t spend enough time sunbathing on the trip, and was excited that now we have free time to DO THINGS like go to the beach that’s all of ten minutes from our house.

 

It was late afternoon and getting chilly, but I kind of wanted to see the sun set, so I dawdled, reading and people-watching until us and the fishermen were the last people left on the beach. Eventually I could no longer pretend it wasn’t freezing or the sunset wasn’t blinding (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sunset or sunrise without a single cloud in the sky), and we packed up and headed towards the car.

 

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But as we were walking, the sun and light and waves aligned, and magic happened. We both dropped everything and got our cameras out. Planes and birds created picture perfect streaks through the cloudless sky. I went and dipped my toes in and the air was so cold the ocean felt warm. The view was so endless I remembered how one once could see the Twin Towers.

 

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I think the pictures I took are more magical than anything from the wedding or honeymoon combined. BUT. What they don’t show is how my fingers and toes were purple from the cold. Or how sadly I hobbled across the asphalt parking lot because I couldn’t put  my shoes yet due to my sandy feet. Or how the fishermen looked at us funny. And then one peed.

 

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Blogs and internet life in general can have a tendency to omit those things in favor of the pretty. I like the pretty an awful, but the real helps me sleep at night. My favorite posts to write have been the guttingly [not a word but I like it] honest ones where I said scary things and people chimed in and said, “Me too!”

 

So there will be more of where that came from—“Deep discussions from wedding planning past” and no doubt current discussions from marriage living present. There will be pretty—the new rugs I bought months ago! And practical—a rundown of [pretty] shoes for endless walking in Europe!

 

And much much more, as I enjoy having the time to read, learn, absorb, and live again.

 

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Weekend : Exercises in Team Building

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A very early, sleepy morning at the County Clerk getting our marriage license… 

This weekend Scott almost bought a company.

And I achieved wedding zen.

It doesn’t feel exactly how I thought it would, but I knew it was there when I was got more and more excited about the prospect of taking huge steps towards getting our real lives off the ground.

I mean, that’s the whole point of the whole marriage thing, right?

Supporting and encouraging, or even dragging kicking and screaming, each other into
bigger and better (or smaller and happier) things.

At least that’s what I keep reading in the blogosphere.

To see Mr. Big Ideas actually take steps towards making something happen felt huge.

Because this is my blog and I have to give myself proper credit, I will tell the story in brief. The whole thing started with him saying “T-shirt line “Fake Name” is closing because the owners don’t have enough time and want to focus on family. If it weren’t for everything we’ve got going on right now, I wish I could like, buy them out,” to which I replied, “Fuck the wedding. How much do they want for it?”

And so ensued two days of enthusiasm and negotiations. And even though it didn’t work out, giving it a shot made me seriously giddy.

I felt like I was following my gut the entire time (what a novel and amazing way to make choices), and that we were hashing things out as a team. Bananas.

If marriage is more of this, sign me up.

😉

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Wedding : Sharing

This is for all of my “real life” friends, who I’ve tried not to burden with my crap. Maybe this will help to explain why.

 

Your wedding might not be a show, but it is a production.

 

Chances are, it’s probably not going to happen on its own. Instead, it’s going to take months of keeping seemingly thousands of balls in the air, from venue to caterer to invitations to placecards to underpants. Seriously, I’ve been searching the ends of the earth for the right pair of affordable Spanx.

 

When we first started this process, I was determined to streamline, and avoid this level of nonsense the Kn*t to-do lists proclaim as the norm. We decided to have a small guest list, a pizza truck, no DJ, no cake, etc.

 

But for everything that we cut back or out, there was somewhere that I bit off the maximum amount that I could chew without vomiting—providing our own tableware, glassware, linens; hand-producing invitations of epic proportions; renting a house where everyone could crash; writing our own ceremony; buying a wedding dress that entailed three fittings and Spanx. (I thought the dress fit when I bought it!! Why does it still take three fittings?!?!)

 

And so, I have found myself—me, who never wanted a wedding to take over my life—living and breathing The Wedding.

 

It’s a lot. And it’s something I feel guilty about, and hesitant to share/admit to my “real life” friends. In the limited amount of time I have to talk to them, I want to hear about them, not rehash my current struggles with Spanx. There just isn’t enough time for that.

 

I also struggle with deciphering who genuinely wants to hear about the wedding and who is just being polite and so I have brushed everyone off instead. In my own emotional experience, weddings can stir up huge issues for people, and while it should be their own responsibility to steer a convo away from something they don’t care to discuss, I would rather not talk about it at all than risk offending someone.

 

See Sharon’s post about handling people’s interest in your planning process for more insights into what has gone on in my brain.

 

I’ve also fallen victim to the mainstream portrayals of wedding planning (read: Bridezillas) that paint a horrible portrait of the brides enlisting family and friends to embark on craft projects and other pre-wedding details, showcasing the helpers bitching and moaning to the drill sergeant bride about all the work they’re doing. Yet, on the other side of the equation is the notion of being left out of the wedding fun…

 

And lastly, part of my hesitance to share has also been due to my clinging to the element of surprise. I’ve never been to a wedding that was DIT, not “thrown” for the guests, and so I’m kind of flying blind here. Is it really OK that 50% of my guests won’t drive/walk up and go “wow” (or just, you know, “hey, neat”) because they’ve been there all day decorating?

 

All of this has led to one or more friends expressing that they feel “out of the loop,” with my life. As I do with theirs. And I feel kinda shitty about that, but I’m starting to wonder if it isn’t inevitable? Weddings, like babies, consume vast amounts of physical and emotional resources, including the most valuable one of all—time.

 

[This is not to say that I think marriage (or even kids, once they get to be more manageable?) is a dividing line. People who say that, or leave people out of social circles once they’re married, are full of crap. Marriage does not make a couple inseparable or book up their social calendar for the next 50 years. A wedding might, but after that? Personally, I cannot wait to have time to reconnect with people again. Watch out, cause I’m going to be the most enthusiastic friend ever.]

 

So what do we do when weddings eat up our lives and we don’t want to burden our friends and families with incessant chatter about that which is consuming our lives?

 

We blog about it instead. And if we’re lucky, we find a community of like-minded women who get it, and want to talk about these things. (Am I wrong to compare this to AA, cancer support groups, grieving widows?) But in accepting this support group, are we unwittingly alienating our “in real life” friends and family?

 

I think I might be. But with two weeks to go, I have no choice but to ask for down and dirty help. Logistically, this thing just isn’t going to happen without it. It’s scary, but I’m doing it, and I hope people will understand what’s taken me so long.

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Weekend : #YayNY and #Irene

There is nothing quite like a joining of forces between Team Practical and a hurricane to realign one’s priorities.


With three weeks until the wedding it has been painfully obvious that I am deep in the throes of Planning. The kind of Type-A checklist-driven-the-world-revolves-around-my-wedding, right? planning that I would seriously fault myself for if it wasn’t so damn common.


Enter Yay New York and Hurricane Irene, poised to knock me right off my feet (and schedule).

 

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Making time for the Yay New York party in the midst of our madness was non-negotiable, but I hadn’t really had time to get excited about it until I was sitting at my desk Thursday morning. I had been too busy being up picking out an outfit and shaving my legs at 1am, dragging myself to yoga at 10am, and slogging through the rain with 3 outfits (yoga/work/party) worth of crap at 11am to even think about what the point of it all was.

 

Once I started reading Meg’s live-blogging, I found myself hit by not excitement over partying and raising money for a good cause (well maybe a little of that), but by what really mattered—the very personal impact of the day on the couples getting married. For the first time, something I have read over and over, but had never felt for myself, hit home: We are so, so privileged to have the option to marry. And I am so thrilled/relieved/proud to be living in a state that is *finally* extending that right to everyone.

 

Philosophically, I’ve always been a supporter of gay marriage, but I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that it’s not my place to fight for it. But Meg managed to convince me otherwise both in her writing that day, and in her thank you speech that night—which I wish I could quote to you all, because the lady is even more eloquent, funny, and persuasive in person than advertised.

 

The gravity of all of this made me determined to treasure that evening, even when I had a million and one things on my mind and to-do list—from the lovely dinner with my fiance before the party, to getting to see faces (Meg! Zan! Sarah! Rachel! Mary!)  in person(!), to the happy, glow-y dancing in a night that became my de facto bachelorette when my actual party was canceled due to Hurricane Irene.

 

I momentarily wished I could hear above the awesome music to actually converse in person(!) with these ladies who I virtually chat with all the time, until I realized we could go back to chatting on Friday, but the physical connection of being there dancing, actually together in the same state/city/room, was what was magical that night. And we danced our faces and asses off—not that I was surprised, because MY people are always the ones that dance. If Yay NY was a glimmer of the joy and fun I have waiting for me at my own wedding, then it is going to be so, so worth it. And every single person in love deserves the opportunity to have that, and all that comes after.

 

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Friday morning I woke up slightly hung over, to the news that my Saturday night bachelorette party had been canceled because of Hurricane Irene. (Which Sarah, as awesome as she is, did her best to resurrect for me.) I thought my friends were overreacting just a teensy bit, so I started reading the news. Whereupon my commitment to wedding-planning productivity on my day off gradually dissolved, and by the time Bloomberg announced that transit was shutting down at noon Saturday, I was having a mild panic attack and my canceled bachelorette was the least of my concerns.

 

I went for a run, trying to quell the physical sensations of anxiety that were gushing through my veins with a persistence I hadn’t felt since the days leading up to having minor surgery last February when I discovered my phobia of anesthesia. “I don’t do natural disasters,” I thought to myself. Whenever shit has gone down in NY, I’ve been in LA or vice versa. And then it occurred to me that maybe my old roommate Kim was the good luck charm, not me, as I had experienced Hurricanes Gloria and Bob right there on Long Island, and of course, as soon as she left the state we had a horrible heat wave, earthquake, and now hurricane…

 

Why was I so panicked, you ask? This is why:

 

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My beloved, and inappropriately close oak tree, which has weathered Gloria, Bob, and my entire childhood, is nearing the end of its days. I had to stop ignoring this imminent threat last March when a Nor’easter (That came out nowhere! Life is less stressful when you don’t watch the news!), knocked down tons of huge trees in our neighborhood, and Scott insisted, moved ours about 4 inches closer to the house. I denied it, but he was totally right. This big girl has to go.

 

But, we’re procrastinators, and have a wedding to pay for, so she’s still here.

 

And so I panicked. All through a Friday planning meeting at our venue (wow, there are a lot of trees there too) with our wedding stage manager, all through a Michael’s shopping trip to pick up things I could craft with no power. And all through Saturday AM’s beach yoga class that for the first time in 2 summers was moved indoors. I panicked through a Trader Joe’s shopping trip which resulted in a shit ton of chocolate-based products, and through a Saturday spent doing everything I could on the computer/internet in case we were out of power for days on end, watching CNN compulsively and downing said chocolate products.

 

Somewhere in there we also “battened down the hatches,” which resulted in the two of us being covered in so many mosquito bites they made us violent with rage for the whole weekend.

 

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I panicked straight through Saturday night until a 1am brooch bouquet crafting session, until we settled into a sleeping spot that I hoped and prayed was out of the way of a tree branch (doubtful) and passed out from sheer exhaustion at 3am. I promptly woke up at 5am, and panicked through the worst part of the storm until Scott got up and convinced me that everything was really fine by standing outside and smoking.

 

Twitter confirmed, and finally I was brave enough to go outside and discover this:

 

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I’m calling it a triumph.

 

What did I learn from all of this? From googling “what to do if a tree falls on your house” and reading the fine print on my homeowners insurance?

 

I learned that being a homeowner is a game changer. (Being parentless helps too—as I realized when Scott’s mom called him more times last weekend than in the entire 5 years we’ve been together combined.) I am officially a grown up. There’s no way around it. If I don’t stockpile water (in empty tequila bottles), or pack an emergency bag, or pay the homeowners insurance bill at 11pm the night before a hurricane, no one else will.

 

It was frightening, and yet liberating, as I finally felt justified in my worrying.

 

And what did I learn about worrying?

 

Less chocolate, more vegetables.

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Wedding : Exhaustion

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Monday night Scott and I fell asleep on the couch together. At 11pm. (Our usual bedtime is 1:30.) This only after I protested his cuddles by saying, “Don’t talk to me until October.” I lost 2 hours of productivity to this unplanned cuddlefest, plus the motivation to go to yoga this morning because I was all confused by my random sleeping and the horrible, horrible allergies I woke up to.

 

My panicked, productive side wishes I could say this was a one-time lapse into laziness, but the same thing happened again last night.

 

I think I’ve hit a wall.

 

Truthfully, the exhaustion started at work last Friday after a particularly productive week. (But no yoga, I think the skipping my weekday yoga is wreaking havoc.) Suddenly my back felt all twisted out of shape and weak to the point where just staying upright was a chore, and all I wanted was to do was do my work lying flat on the floor. Which, obviously, I couldn’t. Friday felt like the longest day ever, culminating in an awful crowded train ride home that I think got my rage adrenaline going enough that we were able to squeeze a couple errands in when I got home and I didn’t pass out immediately.

 

Maybe that’s all carrying over into this week?

 

Or maybe it’s from Sunday, where I worked for twelve solid hours planning and ordering the decorations for the wedding, catching up on blogs, and blogging myself. (Decision fatigue, anyone?)

 

When did wedding planning and blogging become work?

 

I guess when I allowed it to make my life so structured that I fight being hugged by my fiancé because “there’s not enough time.”

 

And yes, I know that that fiancé-hug-related stuff is the point of the whole thing, but it’s so hard for me to switch into that, when Type-A, goal-focused, workaholic me is chomping at the bit 24 hours a day lately.

 

Anyone else experiencing/have experienced this? Did you feel distanced from your relationship because of all the work?

 

Right now, I’m clinging to Becca’s post about the emotional reawakening that occurred for her the day of the wedding, while of course, trying to remind myself this might not look like this for me.

 

Tell me your stories!