Monthly Archives: December 2007

Someone else’s lips

We made it to California yesterday after a VERY early flight (and no sleep Wednesday night due to Upstairs deciding to have a screaming, beating each other fight at 2 AM). Most of the day was spent tooling around the East Bay with QIR. We went to Costco and IKEA and the fabric store (no luck yet) and Trader Joe’s and a variety of other places, but didn’t have much success finding the gifts or other things we need. So today Dan and I BARTed over to the city to try our luck on the shortest day of the year.

I’m still looking for some pants to bring to Italy that are not jeans. They’d preferably be some sort of cargo pants, maybe olive green or a brown, with material that is comfortable and not too thin (gotta stay warm). The China pants were perfect (green cargo pants) and I am still bemoaning their demise. Today I tried Ross, Marshalls, Old Navy, H&M, and had absolutely no luck. Dan found a great thin weather-resistant jacket and some chinos, so he’s happy, but I still don’t have any damn pants. We were also shopping for other people and had no luck finding a particular gift that a particular relative of mine wanted after trying many many stores. Eventually I gave in and went to a Very Expensive Store to buy the exact product (rather than going with something similar and less expensive). Oh, well.

We also went to the big fancy fabric store in SF called Britex looking for bmaid dress fabric, and after searching all 3 floors of amazing textiles we found the perfect fabric – for only $35/yard. Ugh. I’m going to bring my sisters in there when we come down to the city on Sunday to do Extended Family Giftmas to see what they think.

One store I’d wanted to go into for a while but had been a little afraid of was Sephora. I haven’t regularly worn makeup since high school, and I have absolutely no idea how to go about doing foundation or concealer or whatever needs doing to make my skin look all nice in photographs/for wedding. I was told to go into Sephora, explain my issues, and ask for some assistance. So I finally went in there and tried it. The first person who was helping me directed me to a particular line and then sat me down on a stool to put some on my face (to see what I thought). I want to look like me in my pictures, not like I’m wearing a mask, but I’d also like my skin to look nice. The girl seemed like she knew what she was talking about, and I thought the stuff she put on me was OK. Then she got called away to another part of the store and told this makeup artist guy to come over and finish the consultation.

Of course, as soon as I said the word “wedding” and “photos” this guy got a malicious half smile and wiped off the stuff the first girl had put on me, then ran all over the store grabbing products and smearing them on my skin. He was just as frustrated as I’ve been with the weird dry patches on either side of my mouth (they’ve been there for a few months and I can’t figure out how to make them stop peeling). He suggested a variety of product options (many of which I’ve already tried) and finally asked if I’d tried Crisco. Or butter. Um, no.

He plastered and applied and troweled, telling me to pay someone to fix my eyebrows and only managed to poke me in the eye once. There were products and products and maybe some more products, eye shadows and liners and mascaras and then he started in on my lips, drawing waaaaay outside my lipline and then drawing some more, filling in with some kind of sticky goo that smelled like banana (bleah). When he was finally finished, the malicious half smile had turned into a malicious full smile, and I looked in the mirror to see someone who was not me.

The worst part was definitely the lips. Not only were they not actually my lips, the color he had used (some sort of weird nude tone) made them look like a butthole – you know, that old-school look with the liner darker than the inside. I called Dan and told him to meet me at the Shoe Pavilion, warning him that I didn’t look like myself. When he saw me, he looked a little startled. Hell, when *I* saw me, I looked a little startled. I didn’t look like me. I didn’t even look pretty. I mostly looked like a drag queen with someone else’s lips. We walked to Chinatown to eat lunch and on the way I stopped in to a $tarbucks and spent a few minutes washing my face off with paper towels and water (sadly, there was no soap). I considered asking Dan to take a photo of me in all my bizarre glory but ultimately decided that nobody needed to see me looking like that. I left the mascara alone, since I didn’t need it running all over the place, but I managed to get most of the other products off my eyes and face and put my lips back to (mostly) normal. When I walked out, I mostly looked like me wearing mascara, which is far better than the look I had when I left Sephora. I guess I’ll figure out the foundation thing on my own and there’s no way in hell I’m drawing on new lips when I do wedding makeup.

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Wednesday Wedding Day: The saga of the bridesmaids’ dresses

When we first got engaged, I didn’t give any thought to possible attire for attendants. There were way too many other things to think about. However, my Oldest Friend (and Maid of Honor) started sending me links to bridesmaid dresses, so that made me think about what I might want the women who are doing me the honor of standing up with me to gird their loins with on the day of our nuptuals.

Honestly, I really don’t care all that much. I’d like them to be comfortable, and to be able to wear whatever it is again. At first I was very hands-off about it, telling them that I didn’t care At All what they wore. Then, Dan figured out what his attendants will be wearing – and while they won’t all be wearing the same thing, they will match thematically and somewhat color-wise. I began to realize it might look a little strange to have the groomspeople coordinated and nice-looking and the bridesmaids haphazard. So I asked them, what did they want to wear? We tossed around the idea of staying with one color and doing variations of dress (top/skirt? dress? pants?). Or maybe everyone wearing a different color in the same sort of outfit. Or maybe everyone wear whatever they want, but I get/make them matching shawls. Or – I don’t know. It seems silly to me for them to buy a dress they’ll never wear again (though I know this is seen as common in this country) or for me to buy them a dress they’ll never wear again.

Then, on the alternative wedding planning message board I haunt, I found a link to a company that makes these bridesmaid dresses that are totally customizable and wearable in a ton of different ways. For $300 apiece. Next to it was a link to a crafty message board, with over 100 pages of photos and stories people had written about their experience making, essentially, an identical dress. There was also a link to someone’s blog, who had come up with the pattern and made the dress first – the other hundreds of people just followed her lead. And amazingly enough, it seemed pretty simple, for a dress that could be worn in a variety of ways, and such an easy pattern that it seemed anyone could make it.

I’ve made clothing before, particularly quite a few costumes. I’ve altered a lot of things as well. I have a sewing machine, and a decent working knowledge of sewing. So hey, maybe I could make these dresses for my bridesminions! It didn’t seem terribly difficult, and looked like a dress that all of them would look good wearing, with about a million different ways it could be worn. After emailing them with the links and the explanation, they all seemed to be on board with the idea. The one caveat that I set was that I had to make the dress first, to see how doable the whole plan was, before we really decided that this was the way to go.

The day came on Sunday afternoon. I had several yards of (nonstretchy) fabric I’d bought to make a Ren Faire costume years earlier and never made. I had a sewing machine. I had scissors. I spent hours pouring through all 104 pages of examples and tips and troubleshooting and alterations for this simple dress pattern, a little apprehensive about measuring and cutting my fabric, unsure whether I could make it work. But eventually I got up the nerve to measure and cut, to make some changes due to the unstretchy fabric, to pin and eventually to thread my machine and sew. It’s a one-seam dress (if you have the kind of fabric you don’t need to hem) – I needed three, despite not hemming, because I cut a couple of parts wrong. Luckily, this was just for practice.

45 minutes after I began, I sat up and took the pins out of the dress. It was done. I tried it on. I tied it one way, and then another. It worked! Even with nonstretchy fabric, the dress worked, and now I have a summery dress to wear (after I hem it, of course), and I’m fully confident that I can get the pattern to work for all four of my henchmaids (even the one with boobs – luckily, lots of busty/curvy women had made the dress and given suggestions for alterations). Hell, if we can agree on some fabric (and I don’t care if they all wear the same color as long as they’re in the same color group), I can make all the dresses while we’re in California, and they’ll be there waiting until the end of March. The Oldest Friend/MOH won’t be around, but the best part is that we’re essentially the same size/height, so if it will fit me it will fit her. QIR and I are going fabric shopping while we’re out there, possibly tomorrow, and the dresses may all be done by Christmas.

Woohoo!

Sometimes the dinosaur eats the house

Earlier this morning I stood outside, watching a dinosaur devour an old house. Crunch, crunch went the enormous jaw, as the dinosaur climbed up onto the pile of old bones and guts to reach for more house. It was at once comical and disturbing, to see the insides of a house as the dinosaur cocked its head and took enormous bites out of windows and chimneys. The house was naked, exposed, its secret insides put on display for all the world to see. The hungry dinosaur roared a mighty diesel-fueled roar, its metal neck clanking and hissing, as it took bite after bite of history and digested it into rubble.

Today marked the beginning of the end for a historic Denver house. Once a stately mansion on a street lined with stately mansions, the Woodward House was the last such structure on the block. Now surrounded by office buildings and apartments, the house was deemed too expensive to renovate, and, being state property, finally got the axe earlier this month. As I understand it, the place was filled with asbestos and no takers were found when the offer was put forth to have an independent person pay for renovations in exchange for a lifetime lease.

The house sat empty since state employees stopped using it as office space sometime in the ’70s, and weather, vagrants, and animals all contributed to its delapidation. It was the last reminder that once upon a time, this part of town was where the millionaires lived. You can read more about the house here, which I found to be an interesting history.

I gotta say, it was simultaneously gut-wrenching and fascinating to watch this piece of Denver history be reduced to bits of old wood and brick, and while I watched I imagined who once lived in the house, who stoked fires in the fireplaces, who had babies or got sick and died in the bedrooms. Every old house tells a story. This house was no different. It continues to tell a story of violence and loss, of reducing something once great into worthless junk, of the importance of preserving pieces of the past so we remember how time changes all things. In a few months, where the Woodward House stood will be a parking lot.

I tell you one thing, you wouldn’t catch me playing Clara.

I guess if one were to look at our weekend objectively, in terms of what was accomplished and what triumphs were celebrated, one might deem it successful. We finished the errands that needed finishing (though some were less fruitful than others – no pants yet, and the yarn I needed to finish a gift was discontinued in May so I had to find a replacement which, unfortunately, paled in comparison). The kids from the angel tree we picked out will be getting some good presents. We had a nice brunch with Dan’s family and did a small gift exchange. I finished a good number of giftmas presents and will easily finish the remainder in time. Dan finished step one (which was the big, long, time-consuming step) of the invitations. We got a few more addresses confirmed, the laundry’s almost finished, and each of the kitties got quite a bit of attention.

Yet I feel that there was so much more that needed doing, so much more we could have done, so many things that just Have To Get Finished before we leave on Thursday. I could have foregone the procrastination part of the Bridesmaid’s Dress Experiment (more on that later) and instead just jumped right in, damn the torpedoes. I could have been knitting in the car. I could have started packing instead of taking a break from knitting to play on the internets last night. But sometimes people need breaks, right? Everything will get done, at least everything that’s really important. I hope.

I’m not used to having three separate major events competing for space and time in my brain. Wedding, Christmas, Italy. Wedding, Christmas, Italy. One thing I’d considered was packing for Italy in a separate bag, bringing it to California and just not touching it until we got on the plane for Rome – essentially bringing everything for California in one bag and for Italy in another. I haven’t decided yet whether or not I’m going to do this. Operation Pack for Two Trips starts tonight. I’m actually kind of glad we decided not to buy presents for people until we get to California, so we have that much less to deal with in terms of schlepping it on planes and making sure we have things in time. And something I’m super excited about is that we have tickets to see Mark Morris’s The Hard Nut on Thursday evening – a production I haven’t seen since I moved to Colorado, and one I’ve been talking up for years, so Dan’s excited about it too. We listened to the Nutcracker Suite in the car on the way to Dan’s parents’ house and I challenged myself to remember which dance went with which piece of music – I remembered most of them.

I never had the chance to dance in a production of the Nutcracker; the studio where I took classes didn’t perform it until after I left (my sister was in it, though). They had to wait until they had a boy old/strong enough to play the role of the prince. If I had been in it, though, I probably would have wanted to play the role of the Snow Queen. She is so much more awesome than the Sugar Plum Fairy, and I don’t think I have the comedic chops to play the Rat King. But then again, white leotard/tutu is far less figure-forgiving than other costume possibilities. Maybe I’d play the sugar plum fairy after all.

It’s Friday again, so I’m going to write about working out

Monday: zumba/cardio kickboxing 60 minutes, power pump 60 minutes
Tuesday: 35 minutes elliptical 15 minutes crunches/leg lifts
Wednesday: 60 minutes yoga
Thursday: 60 minutes pilates plus
Friday: 30 minutes hardcore elliptical

I’m still reeling a bit from the fall last Friday. The nasty bruise on my leg is about two inches in diameter and still sticks up a good centimeter or two from the rest of my calf. My neck still hurts, both shoulders are feeling wrenched, and my butt was too sore yesterday to sit on the bike seat for my spin class, so I didn’t take it. That put me a little below goal for hours spent in the gym this week, and on top of that a last-minute meeting requiring mandatory attendence kept me from the class I was going to take today, so instead after the meeting was over at 2 PM I rushed into the gym, worked out like crazy for 30 minutes, and rushed back to work in order to eat lunch before Unfed MLE overtook me completely. Hey, 30 minutes is better than nothing, right?

The Wednesday yoga class (new class of the week!) was supposedly vinyasa, though we did some crazy binding poses and held them for a long time, so there was very little flow about the whole thing. I’m going to start taking vinyasa classes from the guy who I know does good yoga classes, and it’s really flow from one asana to the next.

Despite my paltry 5.5 hours in the gym this week, I suddenly seem to have discovered my abdominal muscles again when I look in the mirror. And there’s a line, as Dan pointed out to me. I’m starting to feel pretty good about how I look, both in clothes and out of them, and optimistic that I’ll be able to keep it up until March. My goal at this point is just to not gain any weight (and if I manage it, it will be the first winter in memory that I haven’t) and have the dress fit perfectly (or, if anything, be a little loose) come wedding time. The only exercise I’ll be getting for about four weeks will be walking (in Italy, in California) and running (if the weather’s not too bad when we’re in California), and I’m sure as hell not going to Italy and avoiding anything that looks yummy. Because what would be the point? Luckily, I’ll still have 10 weeks after we get back to continue Operation Look Good in Dress.

An open letter to me, circa early 1996

Dear 17-year-old MLE,

Hi! It’s me, and it’s now 2007. Honey, there is so much I could tell you about what cool things you’re going to do and where you’ll go and who you’ll meet, but you’ll just have to wait and see.

First of all, it gets So Much Better in college. Yes, really. You are really going to enjoy living in Berkeley. You’ll get to eat all kinds of things you’ve never tried, and you’ll even learn to like vegetables. And you’ll never have to eat a hamburger again. You are also going to let things like alcohol pass your lips. I know, it’s shocking, but true.

That guy you have a crush on, the one you haven’t really even admitted to yourself? Yes, you’re going to date him in college, and though you’ll spend the first six months of the relationship completely insecure and convinced that his other high school friends are going to tell him to dump you, eventually you will become friends with them too and you’ll all look back on it and laugh. It won’t be the best relationship you’ll ever have, but it’s important because it will help you learn how to be with someone, long-term.

You may not realize it, but all those clothes that your mom saved from college are going to be in fashion in a few years, long after you wore them in high school. You’ll look like a trendsetter, eventually.

Mom is right about a lot more things than you’re willing to give her credit for. Including your eyebrows. You will feel so much better about yourself once you stop wearing so much makeup and start maintaining those caterpillars on your face. It’s something you’ll have to do every day, but you will feel so much prettier. Flirt! Flirt with all those guys in college. It’s OK to flirt even when you’re in a relationship. And definitely OK once you aren’t anymore.

Yes, the acne goes away. Eventually. No, I won’t tell you how long, but it takes longer than you’d like.

You are amazingly strong in so many ways, far more than you realize. You will have to quit ballet next year. You finally get your hips checked out at the University health clinic and they’ll tell you to quit because the cartiledge is nearly gone. It will suck, but you will find other ways to enjoy being alive. They’ll stop hurting once you stop dancing. And let’s face it, while you’re underweight right now (Yes, you are! No, you aren’t fat!) you are never going to have a professional ballerina body. Girl, you have hips and muscles and curves and you like food way more than the taste of toilet paper. Plus, once you quit dancing you’ll go up a cup size because you’ll finally be at a normal bodyfat level.

College is going to be awesome. There will be drama, and there will be challenges, and there will be a C. Yes, a C. And you will feel lucky to get that C, and it will hold down your GPA, but it will teach you a lesson about not taking classes with 2400 people in them and expecting to do well. You will find interesting jobs and be able to live pretty frugally in college, in situations that are (for the most part) good environments. Don’t be afraid to spend money on yourself once in a while. Enjoy yourself!

The internet is going to become much more important to you than you can imagine. You are going to meet so many people that live all over the place, and you are going to go on a Grand Adventure after college, and a particular website that helps you plan your Grand Adventure will lead you to friendships (and more-ships) with people you never would otherwise have met. It becomes far more than chatrooms with avatars, I promise. In fact, in 2007 most people in office jobs won’t be able to do their jobs without it. Speaking of jobs, your first job out of college is going to suck, and your second one is going to be work that you really enjoy coupled with a horrible asshole boss and horrible working environment. But you’ll figure it out. You’ll also end up moving to another state to live with a boy! Yes, you’ll miss California, but luckily the internet will help you figure out how to buy cheap plane tickets.

You will find people who love you for who you truly are. You won’t have to pretend. You are going to end up meeting someone on the internet and someday you will marry him. No, I won’t tell you his name, but he does have a goatee (yes, you’ll still like those in 2007) and he’ll love you (and you’ll love him) more than you can possibly imagine. You’ll have tons of adventures before you meet him, and you’ll share adventures with him. It’ll be awesome.

Love,

2007 MLE

(thanks to clink)

Wednesday wedding day: All the crap we have to do in California

So, we’ll be in California for about 10 days before we go to Italy. While we’re there, we’ve got a whole lotta things to do and a whole lotta decisions to make for the wedding, because (as I mentioned yesterday) it’s the last time we’ll both be out there until we drive out a week before the Big Day.

Here’s what we have to get done while we’re out there:

1. Meet with tent rental company at the venue to figure out what kind of tenting we need in case of rain. Luckily, they are a) local, b) have worked there before, c) it’s off season, and d) I went to preschool with the kids of the owners of the company, so I’m hoping we get a good deal. It’s not like a whole lot of the space will need tenting (and it’s already a patio, so we won’t need a floor and will only need walls if it’s actually raining).

2. Dress fitting. I’m hoping the dress fits perfectly and it doesn’t need hemming so the only alteration it will need is a one-point bustle to lift up the almost non-existant train for dancing purposes. The store will press it and store it for me until the wedding. It’s a little nerve-wracking knowing I won’t be able to gain or lose much weight after I have the dress fitting but have to stay pretty much the same size until the end of March. I guess I can lose a little, but I can’t gain any. I think this is currently the most stressful thing on the list. Why am I so worried about it?

3. Meet with caterers to do our menu tasting. I’m loking forward to this one. I think our food will be yummy!

4. Meet with photographer to do engagement shoot. We’ll probably take photos in the redwoods/at the ocean, though not sure exactly where yet.

5. Stop by the wholesale flower place to see what flowers they’ll have in March as back-up for my mom’s yard. We might just buy flowers from Trader Joes, too.

6. Find a place to get a cake! Neither of us needs anything frou-frou and we’ve gotten a recommendation for a bakery in the area who will do sheet cakes for not too much $$. So I guess we have to go eat some cake. Darn.

7. Find fabric for bridesmaid dresses (with assistance of bridesmaids). Because yes, I am insane, and plan to make them myself. One of the things on tap for this weekend is to make the dress for myself out of fabric I already have to see how difficult the process is. I’m not anticipating it being all that difficult; in fact it’s quite similar to a costume I made several years ago and this time I have a sewing machine.

8. Trip to IKEA for more decor possibilities.

9. Meet with someone about maybe doing my hair. I haven’t decided if I’ll have someone else do it or do it myself, but since I’ve never had my hair professionally done (I did my own hair for prom etc.) it might be nice to splurge on something like that. My only concern is the cost of having someone open up the shop (or come to us) really early in the morning since the ceremony’s at like 11:30 and we’re doing photos ahead of time.

These are the things I can think of right now, though I’m sure more stuff will come up either before we go or while we’re out there. Everything else will have to wait until the third week of March.

So what am I forgetting?