Friday, February 26, 2010

Recap #2: Walking to the Beach

The walk to the beach had to be my favorite part of the day. It was like having a bit of the reception BEFORE the ceremony, which allowed the jitters to subside. As I said to my mom before the Big Day, I knew if I had only a 50 foot aisle to walk down, I'd be freaking out by the time I reached the officiant. But with 3/4 mile hike, I had plenty of time to get grounded, take deep breaths, trade quips about married life with my Women of Honor, hang out with my family, and tease the Flower Children. What a better way to spend the wedding day than going for hike with all my favorite people!

We set out from the reception site, down a step flight of wooden steps. Thank goodness I was wearing my sparkly gold wedding flip-flops. No way I could've negotiated that in heels!

Across a parking lot...

Along a trail toward the beach...

Eventually rounding a corner toward the beach.

By the time we reached the beach, where our guests had gathered, I felt calm and ready.

Photos 1,5,7,8 Kate Harrison; Photos 2,3,4 Rob; Photo 6 Srabani

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Recap #1: Getting Ready

With the post-wedding tasks nearly finished - a final batch of thank you notes went out this week - I have enough distance from the day to try to tell the story before I forget it completely.

We stayed at home the night before the wedding. Since our wedding was local, it didn't make much sense to stay anywhere else. The day started in a typical fashion: Eric was up and bustling about before I'd even rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. He was to be the point person at the wedding site, and wanted to get there early to start directing friends and family in the set-up.

Meanwhile, I scored the better end of the deal, starting my day with a few languid Sun Salutations, and breakfast on the deck while the fog cleared, as I waited for my long-time hairstylist to do my hair and makeup. Right on schedule, she appeared around the side of the house, toting a huge rolling suitcase full of styling tools.

Here, I point out that it's helpful to have a consistent relationship with a hairstylist: she charged her usual hourly rate - not some crazy inflated wedding price - for the hair trial and day-of hair (and threw in makeup application, using goodies I'd purchased at a MAC makeover, as a wedding day gift!).

As she set to curling and pinning, my two Women of Honor showed up, along with the Flower Girl and an incredible painting - now in the place of honor on our mantel - by the mother of one of them, a noted artist. I have admired her paintings forever, and was stunned by their generosity.

With my face and hair fancied up, we headed for the wedding site with my 'backup dress.' Two other friends were to pick up the wedding dress at the salon that morning, to avoid the hassles of having to hang it in a closet in our small house. But just in case something went awry, I brought the first dress - the simple one I had purchased online - back before I got in touch with my Inner Bride.

Fortunately, the dress pick up went without a hitch, and the dress was hanging in a spare room when we reached the wedding site.

The Women of Honor, and other Ladies in Waiting, worked on the zillions of button with a crochet hook.

Eventually, I was buttoned into my dress, photographed,

and hurried downstairs to meet Eric, to begin the walk to the beach, with our families, the Women of Honor, and the Flower Children.

Photos 1,2,3 by Srabani, 4 by Rob, 5 by Kate Harrison.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Is it Post-Wedding Letdown?

Check all that apply.

__ 1. I continue to agonize over choosing images for our wedding album, sorting and re-sorting the photos. I'm wondering whether we should spend another $xxxx so we can get ALL the photos in the album.

__ 2. I haven't cleaned my dress yet. In fact, I haven't even put it away. It's right where I left it: hanging from a door/ draped over a couch/ right in the front of my closet - who know when I might have an occasion to wear it?

__ 3. That dress - the one that I wasn't really attached to, and was planning to donate or sell after the wedding - that one? I think I'll keep it.

__ 4. I'm considering getting a huge framed canvas of us. Like 8'x10'. Feet. To hang over the bed.

__ 5. Work seems boring and blah. Even my favorite projects are hard to get excited about.

__ 6. I read wedding blogs obsessively. Even when I should be working.

__ 7. My work may have suffered because of my addiction to wedding blogs.

__ 8. I still stalk my photographer's website for cool images.

__ 9. I have a hard time getting up in the morning - I'm bleary from reading wedding blogs.

__ 10. I get super-involved when even the most tangential friend mentions that she's planning a wedding. I send my list of favorite and could-have-been vendors, and a constant stream of ideas.

__ 11. I'm starting to see why people have babies right away. Decorating a nursery: now there's a project I could get into!

__ 12. In fact, I'm actively working on it. The sooner, the better.

__ 13. I don't hang outwith my single friends so much anymore. Their lives all seem over-dramatic and unfocused. I'm not so interested in the date-of-the-week.

__ 14. I hang out with my single friends all the time: I love their stories about the thrill of the chase.

__ 15. I've taken on a new huge project: remodeling the house, starting a new job, launching a business, training for a marathon. Honestly, I don't know what to do with all my new-found free time. I'm considering training for a triathalon, joining a volunteer board, and studying for (another) degree.

Agreeing with 5 or more statements suggests Severe Post-Wedding Letdown. Quietly back away from the wedding blogs, give away your wedding mags, get your dress cleaned and stored, pronto!, and find a new hobby for your free time.

Agreeing with 2-4 statements suggests a Mild case of Post-Wedding Letdown. Turn all that creativity and energy toward family, friends and work. Surely, there's another project that could benefit from your skill and energy - perhaps a first anniversary blowout?

Agreeing with 1 or fewer statements shows that you've moved on... but what are you doing on this blog?!???!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gift registry lessons learned

Does this look like a wedding gift? Hooray for the modern age!
It's amazing how those gifts keep on coming, post wedding!

We've received several in the past couple weeks. Perhaps people got busy with the holidays, and then started the new year by crossing things off their To Do lists. I know I've always been one to stretch the idea of "a full year to give a wedding gift" to - and beyond - it's breaking point. And you know what they say about birds of a feather...

Those etiquette books that tell you to register for more things than seem reasonable are right - much to my surprise, nearly everything on our registry, except for the $600 set of fancy cooking pots, has been bought! When we were registering, I resisted Eric's efforts to continue adding things. I thought we'd look greedy. Turns out our friends and family are ridiculously generous.

In addition to lovely china, flatware, a bubbly water machine that allows us to forgo plastic bottles, and other home goodies, we ended up with a new climbing rope, bouldering crash pad, and tent!

Lesson learned: register for what you want, at a variety of "price points" as they say - you'll be surprised at what people want to give you for your wedding. And think of those cool little things that you'd love to have, but never get around to buying yourself. Like a set of upgraded tent stakes - or whatever suits your hobby.

We were also honored by several generous donations to our favorite charities. As somewhat established people with our own towels and knife sets (albeit cheapo grad student ones that could use upgrading), we didn't need that much stuff. Along with the gift registry information, we described our favorite causes on our wedding website, with links to the donation pages on the charities' websites. I was surprised, and honored, by the number of people who chose this route.

I was happy that our wedding could raise awareness of some important issues (we are passionate about land conservation and education for girls in the Himalayas), and be of benefit to the larger world. Some people gave both a gift to us, and a donation to one of our charities.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Howdy, Pardner!: An argument for marriage

I always look forward to reading the Modern Love columns in the Sunday New York Times. This week's, in which the editor of the column distills some of his wisdom gleaned from reviewing hundreds of submissions over the years, was particularly insightful.

He addressed a qualm about marriage that both the Mr. and myself have expressed - to each other - since we got engaged: is it possible, or even reasonable, to stay faithful to one person for dozens upon dozens of years? That we're both older than your 'average' newlywed takes a few years off that count, but we're still looking a loooooooong way into the future. How to sustain a relationship until we're in rocking chairs?

The insightful Daniel Jones suggests it's all about confiding such concerns, and offers this reassurance:

Some people think we live too long to commit to one person for life. Monogamy may have made sense a few centuries ago, they argue, when we tended to die in our 40s (after raising a dozen children). But being with the same person well into our 70s and 80s? That simply can’t be natural.

This is a question, by the way, asked almost exclusively by people in their 40s (or younger). People in their 70s and 80s do not ask this question. They are, by and large, very happy to have shared a lifetime with the same person.

O.K., but that’s three decades before the appreciation kicks in. What if you want to feel appreciated now? And what if the person who makes you feel appreciated isn’t your spouse?

Here’s a heartening trend — husbands and wives choosing to talk honestly with each other about their needs, desires and temptations, even (or especially) when they threaten the marriage. In the stories crossing my desk, sneaking is increasingly being replaced by confiding. And the sky isn’t falling and clothes aren’t being thrown from windows. The conversations are hard, rage may have to be expressed, but many couples find a way through.

After reading hundreds of columns, Mr. Jones is no stranger to the 'what to call your spouse' question, as it relates to all sorts of couples. His answer, which could resolve both the Trouble with Wife, and the Introduction Conundrum, is for all of us - regardless of gender or orientation - to refer to our partners as just that: partners. With a spot-on allusion to Dr. Seuss, he writes:
Why not tear a page from the wranglers’ handbook and require all married folk to call each other partner? Think of the benefits. Not only would life start to sound like a permanent square dance, we’d also lose the language that distinguishes gay marriage from straight. And perhaps like Dr. Seuss’s famous Star-Belly Sneetches, who finally learn that no one kind of Sneetch is the best on the beach, we’ll see that marriage is marriage, meant for devotion that thrives, and not just for unions of straight husbands and wives.
Though I referred to Mr. Barefoot as my 'partner' before we got married - as did/do most of my friends with their respective sweethearts - I've made a conscious effort to recognize our new status in my references to him. But, now I wonder, why? There's the social recognition of a public commitment -- relevant in the personal arena, less so in the professional one. It's not really the business of my professional colleagues and students what my marital status is. And I wear a ring, so people will most likely assume I'm married. In any case, I like the gender and orientation neutrality of 'partner,' the solidarity with same-sex couples, and the whiff of Wild West cowboys and ranches, so... meet my partner, Mr. Barefoot.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Copy room convo

Scene: Unsuccessfully trying to get a letter of reference to print on letterhead. A student comes in.

Him: What program do you work for?

Me: I'm a faculty member in X department. What about you? What do you do?

Him: I'm a student in Y department. What's your name?

Me: Elizabeth [Barefoot].

Him: Oh, [Bare-y]? Lizzy [Bare-y]?

Me: Don't even go there.

What's up with the patronizing, diminutizing nicknaming?!?? Do I need to drop the friendly, informal demeanor and start referring to myself as Dr. Barefoot all the time? Should I boycott the copyroom and demand that the administrative people make all the copies for me? Would a grey wig and thick glasses garner more respect?

I may be a little sensitive about my gender and age, in that I'm a department that has historically been male. However, I'm hard pressed to believe that this student might have said, upon meeting one of my grey-haired male colleagues, "Oh you're Bobby? Bobby Scholar-y?"

How would you handle such situations?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hit 'ESC'

I've been kinda jealous of all those snow days folks are getting out east. We get short-changed on that account in Cali. I know it's pain to be trapped inside - especially with no electricity - but the pleasure of waking up to muffled softness, and clicking on the radio to learn that you unexpectedly don't have to venture out from underneath the down comforter is one of life's little joys.

Though it's only been a month since we returned from our honeymoon of communing with penguins and icebergs (more soon, really!), I've been feeling over-scheduled and under-rested. Already. All the transitions are still very much in progress: I'm learning how to be a wife and a professor simultaneously. Both fantastic roles. And they certainly take some growing into. I still find myself flummoxed by introductions: I say "I'm married to him," rather than "he's my husband."

This weekend, we took off to find some snow in the mountains, in celebration of Valentine's Day (the anniversary of our first date!), and in honor of the dead presidents' holidays. Ironically, most of the other skiers this weekend were single women wondering where all the decent guys are (apparently not on the slopes or trails this weekend). Some of their tales of single guys behaving badly were all too familiar. I felt extra fortunate to have an 'official' valentine from here on out.

Having hit ESC, the harddrive is re-set for another week.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Your heart on your sleeve

Happy Valentines Week! Though I know that there's a lot of cynicism about this made-for-Hallmark holiday, it's become pretty important to Mr. Barefoot and me, as it marks our first date, three years ago. Who knows whether we were shot by Cupid's arrow that night, absorbed the romanticism in the air, or finally got our timing right (like finding an empty taxi with its light on, in the midst of a downpour) - we'll surely be savoring our good fortune all week.

Remembering the carved heart cufflinks I posted about - but never purchased - for my sweetie nearly a year ago, I wondered what other goodies were out there to go with the French cuff shirt.

Leaving your prints all over your partner is one sure way to mark him/her as "off the market." I like the subtlety of these silver hearts.

You could take the more literal route, with this anatomical heart.

Add color, for a slightly more gothic look.

Or go for the old-fashioned wood cut.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Evolutionary love

The perfect Valentine's card to go with yesterday's biodiversity enhancement suits:

Friday, February 5, 2010

Biodiversity for your neighborhood

Too many bland, boring pigeons in your neighborhood? Would you like to see more colorful birds? Or maybe even release rainbow-hued birds instead of doves at your wedding?

Artist Laurel Roth, who uses "art as a medium to examine biological ramifications of human behavior," has you covered - literally.

She's crocheted these vibrant "Biodiversity Reclamation Suits for Urban Pigeons," which come complete with a "hand carved pigeon mannequin [and] walnut stand."

She'll even help you bring back the long-extinct Dodo

Like Artemis, who sent the link, I don't know whether to laugh or cry...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wedding album hell

The wedding was lovely. The photographer was one of the sweetest and most talented people I ever met. Her images were so beautiful they hurt my eyes. I mean, gorgeous. Unexpectedly breath-taking.

So when I got the album proof today from an outside company - NOT my photographer, I must emphasize - I was expecting all kinds of loveliness. I couldn't wait to flip through Kate's images, beautifully-organized on well-designed pages... and - what fresh hell is this???!!??! The album proof was cluttered, disorganized, and out-of-order. Though I was pretty much the most chill bride ever - told my florist to work with any seasonal local flowers in the red-orange-yellow color-family, gave our baker carte blanche to create a tasty cake - I flipped through the proof pages saying no, No, NO!

I hadn't realized just how important Kate's aesthetic sensibility had been in creating a beautiful depiction of our wedding day - and how easily a sloppy layout could mar the beauty she depicted. I'm not saying that the wedding day has to be all about prettiness. It was about so many things: fun, family, love, natural beauty, peaceful moments, laughter, heartfelt words, us. But none of that showed through in the cluttered layout, with images overlapping others, and crowded six or more on a page. And I'm embarrassed to reveal how much the album would have cost, had we purchased it: more than the cake, which made 100 sweet-tooths very happy, and provided us with an entire layer to freeze for our first anniversary.

In this alterna-wedding-blogosphere, we examine and question wedding traditions, and poke holes in those that can no longer stand up to 21st-century scrutiny. But this wedding album proof threw me right into the midst of all the not-suited-for-us traditions we thought we had escaped.

The largest photos were a close-up of the two of us kissing - it honestly looked kind of creepy and overly-intimate - and of me hugging my dad. It's a lovely photo, but undercuts the story of the day, which is that I walked down the beach with both parents. The father gives away the bride, so that's what matters. That's what we enlarge, according to our WIC-approved formulas.

Because I know an online photo album company can't read my mind, I carefully put the photos in order to tell the story of the day, before submitting my order. They disregarded the order completely, showing dinner toasts at the after-dinner cake cutting, and people departing from the ceremony on the same page as people arriving at the ceremony. Argh!

Wedding album lessons learned:

1) Don't pay for the full album before you see a proof or a plan (fortunately we paid only a "design fee," for what appears to be an algorithm-controlled design process: Father - enlarge. Bride - enlarge. Groom - shrink. People giving toasts - all on one page, even if there are 8 of them and they're so small you can't see them.)

2) Give *explicit* instructions. (I wrote back with a full page of design revisions. Let's see how they do.)

3) Compare offers. This faceless company offered 25% off, bringing the cost to way less than what our photographer would charge - but I'm surely her layouts are much better.

4) Consider doing it yourself (or together... or pawning off on your partner!). Petite Chablis and Accordians and Lace both did nice reviews of online wedding album software. I should have listened to them, before the WIC dug in its claws and started convincing me that I need a leather-bound, "professionally-produced", heavy-leafed photo album. How did this happen now, just when I was congratulating myself on having avoided the WIC throughout the wedding process?? (I might have to credit Mr. Barefoot here. In trying to guard my precious new-faculty-member time, he thought we should farm it out. Right motive, but little did he know that it would feed directly into the evil WIC.)

I suspect we'll head toward #4. It will be worth a few hours' time to have control over how the album turns out, and we can spend our savings on a weekend of skiing.

Any suggestions for high-quality online wedding album services?