Thursday, August 30, 2012

29 on the 29th

When I was a senior in high school, one of our friends turned 19 on December 19th.  We were sitting outside during lunch (I guess it wasn't that cold because I wouldn't have been out there), and I remember Laurie saying, "Hey, Howard! That only happens once! It's a special birthday."  I was only 17 at the time, and I thought to myself, "Jesus, my 29th birthday is at least a million years from now."


It's here. Actually, it's gone already.

The day started the way I would never wish for my birthday to start: I had to go to school.  In my world, hell is going to school on your birthday.  Ugh, I just hate it.  In many respects, I realize I'm an extremely lucky person and I feel that I'm being rewarded in this lifetime for some good things I must have done in past lifetimes.  However, I would REALLY like to know what I did in past lifetimes that is SO UNFORGIVABLE that I'm being forced to live in a world where my birthday routinely coincides with my least favorite day of the year.  I must have done something really awful.

Much to my relief, it turned out to be a good day.  My first class was cancelled to accommodate some event I didn't care about on campus, so I started my day a little late.  AND, it was a very good hair day with the low humidity.  Finally, four of my best students from past semesters signed up for a new class that I'm teaching which is a REALLY good thing since I am super nervous about all of it.

In my next lifetime, I think I would settle for being a Fluff. But only if my owner was exactly like me.

My mom ordered Thai food for all of us so I could have dinner at her house.  (Ron had to spend the day out of state--he strategically shared this bit of news with me in California in the hope that I would be too drunk or too distracted to be upset about it.  He begged the other party to pick any other day except yesterday, but no one could agree on a date. My salary sure as hell ain't payin the bills, so you're not allowed to complain when the breadwinner is called out of town.  In this economy, only a fool would complain about that.)

My mom had never really had Thai food before (spicy food literally gives her mouth third degree burns--it's completely bizarre), so I had to pick out the order really carefully.  In the end, her verdict was, "Huh. I guess it doesn't taste the same as Chinese food ... I like it."

My mom gave me this huge, gorgeous button fern.  Ferns are my favorite.  Maidenhair ferns are my big fave, but they're so delicate and die so easily. (Doesn't stop me from buying them.) Button ferns are more hardy, but they do thin out in the winter when the air gets so dry.  I'll be so disappointed if this guy doesn't make it through January.  Ah, one day I will have a huge terrarium--like a big fish tank, only prettier--for all of my ferns.  That way, Penny can't eat them and the HVAC system doesn't kill them before Penny eats them.

"Make sure my crocheted rock is in there!" --Mom

To go with the Thai food, my mom picked up mini cupcakes from Cupcakes Gourmet in Frazer and she made these adorable pumpkin and chocolate dessert cups.  There's a chocolate cookie crust in the bottom of the mini jam jars, pumpkin mousse on top, and then a dollop of nutella in the middle.  I know that Erin, Laurie, Lauren, and Tiff are going to be like, "Where is the recipe?!!"  I don't have it, but maybe my mom will email it to me.  Ooey, gooey moussey desserts are my fave--this is a great one.

This picture has nothing to do with my birthday. It just makes me happy.
For whatever reason, I am just not excited to turn 29.  I'm not hating it. It doesn't depress me.  I guess  just feel stunned--the same feeling when you trip and fall when you least expect it, BUT you don't get hurt--you just think, "Whew! That really took me by surprise, but thank God I didn't break my wrist."  That kind of stunned.  I remember my 20th birthday so clearly. I remember that was also a first day of school.  I remember what I wore to class.  I remember exactly which classes I had on my schedule that day and who taught them. I remember running into Ryan at the light in front of the church and him saying to me, "You know? I think it's going to be a good day," and I replied, "I think you're right."  He didn't know it was my birthday. I swear, that was ... two weeks ago.  But, it's not.  It was NINE YEARS AGO.

A few years ago, I had to go to a birthday dinner for somebody who was turning 30.  She was miserable.  No matter what conversation was going on at the table, it always turned back to, "Oh my God, I'm turning THIRTY." Imagine the worst expression of distress you have EVER seen on a person's face--that was this person's expression.  "I'm just so old."  At several points, I really thought she was going to start sobbing at the table.  Everything that night focused on "how old" this person had become and what an awful thing it was.

Are you freakin kidding me?  The whole thing was so bad, I just wanted to get up and leave.  I remember staring very, very hard at my plate because I knew if I didn't, I would end up ROLLING my eyes and saying something awful like, "Oh, shut the F up already.  You may as well be 70 at the rate you're going.  Who wants to listen to this?"

(And let me tell you, after listening to the pool ladies, you learn that 70 is really not that old.  They barely blink at 80 which is awesome.)

No one in my family mails a card without a sticker or a stamp on the back.

Anyway, my point is that it made me nervous yesterday that I wasn't thrilled to turn 29.  At the worst, I've only been indifferent to the new number.  So when I caught myself thinking, "29? Really?  REALLY?!" yesterday, I become pretty disappointed in myself.  Am I going to be that girl sobbing into her 30th birthday dinner because (just typing this is so lame) "her twenties are over"?  Ugh. I sure as hell hope not. I can honestly say that I've never been the kind of person who wishes and wishes to roll back the clock.  When I screw something up, I want the clock to forge ahead so I can fix it.  (I'm incapable of forgetting anything--a very painful affliction ... I wouldn't wish it on anybody.)  But, yesterday was the first day ever that I really acknowledged, "Ok, so I can't roll it back even if I wanted to? Wow."  I was thrilled to exit my teenage decade (THRILLED!), but my twenties have been so great--only one year left!

Ok, so one last rambling.  My 22nd birthday took place on my very first day of grad school. Awful, awful day: Katrina was going on, it was freakin hot, and I made my first of a thousand 90 minute commutes ... and then the prof didn't show up.  His plane didn't make it in from Brazil, and we had to make up the class on the following Monday ON LABOR DAY.  Hindsight is 20/20: I should have skipped BOTH CLASSES.  They were totally inconsequential to graduate school.


Later that month, I had to have a sit down meeting with this prof because he wanted to just say Hi and get to know us.  I remember he looked at me and said, "I'm sorry ... how old are you?"  I said, "I just turned 22 last month." And he got this very concerned look on his face and said to me very solemnly, "You know: You are very young."  I took it to mean, "You are, thus, too dumb to be here."  Now I think to myself, "Maybe he was just having a moment of, 'Holy crap. She's 22?? How old am I?'"  I didn't get it then, but now I do.  You were right, Lewis: I was very young.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sarah's getting married

This past weekend, we celebrated Sarah's bridal shower at Terrain.  Yes, THAT Terrain.  You already know the punch line: It was gorgeous.  Hey, if it's good enough for Jill Biden (rumor has it she loves hosting parties here), then it's good enough for the rest of us.

For those of you who have been there, we actually were not inside the cafe--they placed us in (I think Katie called it) the mushroom house (?).

Let me clear something up so that the story telling is easier: Sarah is a twin. Her twin sister is Megan.  Megan and Sarah have a little sister.  The little sister is Katie. The three of them are often mistaken for triplets.

I dare you not to mix them up: Katie, Sarah, Megan.  Of course, they look completely different to me, and it totally cracks me up when people can't tell them apart.  Like Ron. Ron CANNOT tell them apart.  He just fakes it til he makes it in conversation with them.  Megan and Sarah: You should play tricks on him in the future.
I've known these ladies since I've been nine.  For two summers, I saw Megan, Sarah, and Katie swimming at our swim club.  They were the only twins at the club, and I knew they were my age, but I didn't have the nerve to go talk to them.  At the end of the second summer (going into fifth grade), my mom finally said, "Oh, go TALK to them already!!"  So I did.  They were going into fifth grade at a different school (Ron's school, actually), but we would all be in middle school together the following year.  On the first day of sixth grade, I met Erin (we had EVERY class together) and Erin was already good friends with Megan and Sarah. I had already been best friends with Ama since first grade, and blah blah blah, the rest is history.

The five of us did everything together. You know how everyone talks about middle school and high school? "Oh, it's so awful: The girls are so catty and the boys are such animals. What an awful time."  I can't relate.  In our little bubble, the potential worst of these years just slid right by us.  People left us alone because we were nice.  You need someone to talk to in math class because you don't know anyone? Go sit with Erin--she'll be nice to you.  You need someone to team up with in gym class? Go over with Megan--she'll team up with you.  You're scared to try out for the musical?  Show up with Ama--she'll give you a pep talk.  You forgot your vocab flash cards?  Go study with Sarah--she'll share.  You need a laugh?  Go sit with Yours Truly--she'll bitch and moan for thirty minutes about math class, the musical, vocab tests, and the stupid pointlessness of gym class.  I don't care what anybody does or does not remember from those years: We were the nice girls.


The family kept crediting Katie with all of the amazing details that made the party so pretty: The fancy cocktails in the gorgeous bottles; the beautiful place settings; the big tissue paper pom-poms; the flower cupcakes (which Katie baked); the idea of Terrain itself.

Sarah's family put together huge poster boards of family photographs.  Looking at them, I did think to myself, "Ok: I guess our twenties really are nearly over."

The bride has a quiet, existential moment.

With Ama and Erin

The meal started with those gorgeous cheese trays that Joan and I love so much:

We all ordered from the brunch menu, and Katie played a trivia game with Sarah after they cleared away the dishes.  You know the game: "How well do you know the groom?!" Sarah solidly passed the test.

Katie would let Sarah know when she was on the wrong track ...

The question about the groom's favorite car was especially challenging.

Katie also asked everyone to bring a stem of her favorite flower.  At the shower, Sarah was presented with the biggest Tiffany box I've ever seen (a thrill in itself) and a gorgeous container for the stems.

Jeff joined Sarah to open all of the presents.

Apparently, there is an inside joke about ducks.
Erin made the big ribbon hat for Sarah like she did for me.

The gorgeous favors ... I forgot to take one. I was so angry at myself later.  Who doesn't love a favor?
Megan, Meri, Ama, Sarah, me, Katie.  Jess, I think you should have one of those elephants.

With the groom
What a beautiful day!  Congratulations, Sarah!  September 15 will be here before you know it ...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Jess and Matt's new kitchen

This is Jess and Matt circa February 2010:

You're right Jess: I didn't see the kitchen until after you painted it.

I think I took this at 1 or 2am, so it's appropriate that it's blurry.  (I can't figure out what the camera was focusing on at all.  Something should be in focus.  Damn point and shoot.)

When Matt and Jess bought their house, nothing had been updated in decades.  Jess, being a crazy-psycho-Virgo like me-self, immediately began ripping down dark wood wall paneling and tearing out old carpet.  (She was probably doing all of this with one hand and signing the closing papers with the other.)  You would not believe all the work they did the first month. (They have the photo albums to prove it.)  Here in their kitchen, they painted the red brick back splash cream and all of the brown wood cabinets white.  It was instantly fresher and Much More Jess.

This summer, Jess and Matt finally installed the kitchen they've dreamed of since Day 1.

Isn't it great?!  I love love love the countertops.  They look just like grey marble, BUT they're not. They're actually white granite, which is completely awesome because they look like marble without all the porous-don't-spill-a-drop-of-red-wine-on-them worrisome nonsense.  There are a lot of details here, people: several shades of white and gray; crown molding; cabinets where cabinets previously did not exist; corner cabinets and lazy susans; a gorgeous, under-mounted stainless sink; a really fancy faucet ... the works.

For the back splash, Jess ditched the brick (or literally: whacked it off the wall with a sledge hammer) and went with this gorgeous watery blue and white glass tile.

Watery blue ikat curtains complete the look above the sink.

The floor looks like slate, but it's actually ceramic tile.

Matt and Jess could only cook with a microwave for about a month (and Jess had to fill the Brita in the powder room), but I would say the sacrifice was worth it.  I'm really annoyed I didn't take pictures of the dining room (off to my left here) so that you could see how the two rooms blend together.

Some pretty crazy shananigans took place this particular night.

Jess is just joking ... she's not really drinking for five.

Steph and Lauren compared notes on the pros and cons of epidurals (Answer: jury is out) while Jess and I discussed whether we liked Bethenny's Skinny Girl red wine. (Answer: yes.)

Don't they look great? T minus three weeks and four weeks respectively.
Steph and Lauren were out the door and off to bed around 10:30 this particular night, but Ron and I were idiots and did not walk in our front door until 4am.  I made myself get out of bed at 8:30 or 9 the next morning just to punish myself for still not switching to EDT.  I pretty much felt gross all day and cursed myself for not timing my night a la' the baby ladies.  It was worth it, though, to hear Matt's very serious musings on the economy and Jess's performance of the text messages I sent her on Non-Sober Day in Napa the prior week.

School starts next week (I think Jess is back already?), so it'll be a long time before I see her kitchen at 3am again.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Steph's pre-baby photos

When you take a few weeks off from posting, it's hard to decide where to pick up once you come back.  I could sit here and say, "Omigod, I've been so busy." But, that's not really the case. At least, I HAVE been, but not with anything important. Mostly, I've been busy swimming at the pool all day (very "important" because it's going to close soon and I won't see the old ladies again for a whole year).  I've also spent a lot of time denying that I go back to class next week. All the loose ends that I swore I would do before classes begin are still sitting around, and I'm trying to cross them all off of my list.  One of these things was pictures for Steph and Jeff. Steph asked me at the beginning of July to do photos for her like I did for my friend Laurie.  Our calendars didn't match until August, but we finally met up at Binky Lee Preserve.  Jeff and Steph walk their dog, Utley (yes, like the baseball player), here all the time.

To refresh your memory, I recently introduced you to Jeff:

This is Jeff's bride, Steph:

Oh, the blur. Drives me nuts.

And now there's a mini-Jeff or Steph coming along:

It was a hot night for pictures, but it was the coolest night we had had in weeks.  (I think it was only in the upper-80s that day.)  We took some pictures at their house and then headed out for the preserve.

Upon arrival, Steph found herself promptly stung by a bee.

If you've never met Steph, I think these two pictures say it all: She laughs when she steps on a bee.  I would be screaming, shaking my fist at the heavens, and bellowing something like, "AND NOW MY EYE MAKEUP IS RUINED FROM CRYING!! WHY??!!!"  Steph is a responsible grown up, so she just laughs it off.

The lighting was really tricky. I immediately broke into a sweat because A) it was really freakin hot--a lot hotter than I thought it would be and B) I really didn't know if I could work with what I had.  The sun was bright enough to create really challenging contrasts and shadows.  I had really hoped for some kind of cloud cover for soft, diffused light.  No luck, and this made me really nervous.  Steph and Jeff are crazy busy, and I knew that I couldn't count on time for a do-over.

I knew I would have to use my flash to fill in shadows on the face, but the flash can really wash out faces even when outside.  I started messing around with my settings and figured out that I could decrease the flash's power (1/4, 1/2, or 3/4 strength). I've only owned this camera for six years ... I really need to go back and read the manual.  Anyway, a weaker flash worked.

Utley was a good boy--he followed all of my directions and listened to his mom and dad too.  (I think he's a little uncertain about this whole sibling-thing.  He doesn't like the new baby swing in the family room, that's for sure.)

Steph only has two modes: On or Off.  At a party, you can turn around for two seconds and when you turn back, Steph's switch has gone from On to Off.  There's no going back once this happens--there's only going to bed.  I didn't see it when we were taking these, but I realized that something flipped the switch for her in the last ten shots that we took.

We wrapped everything up, and I took a Fuji Instax shot for them like I did for Laurie and Nick.  At least they could take that home in the meantime.

Luckily, all of us were On enough to scarf down nachos and black bean burgers at Iron Hill before turning in for the night.  Now that Steph is four days away from her due date, I keep thinking, "Omigod, Steph could be having a baby right now."  And then thirty minutes later I think, "Omigod, what if the baby is coming now?"  My friend Lauren is a week behind Steph, so I haven't gotten there with Lauren quite yet.

Steph, seven or eight years ago this weekend you would've been packing up your car for Ship to start another semester.  That feels like two months ago.  Now, you're packing a duffel bag in case you need to leave for the hospital in two hours.  Pretty strange, right?