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Archive for the ‘newlywed life’ Category

Anticipation

I come from one of those aggressively practical families that isn’t big on the “surprise” element of gift-giving.  We want our loved ones to just put stuff on a list and let us choose something cool from it so we know we’re getting them something they want and will use.*  As it turns out, my in-laws are very much on board with this philosophy of gift-giving as well, which means that I already know what I’ll be getting for Christmas.

A Kindle.  Specifically, the ad-free basic Kindle 4.

 And ever since I decided on the exact type of Kindle I want (after extensive testing at Staples, where they have display Kindles and Nooks), I have encountered situations where I really wish I already had my Kindle.  Sick in bed and out of reading material?  Oh, I wish I already had a Kindle so I could just download a new book!  Taking a long-ish public transit journey to a lecture?  Man, I wish I could slip a tiny 6-ounce Kindle into my bag and read on the bus.  Reading the new George RR Martin in hardback?  If I had my Kindle, I could have gotten the e-version and then I could take Dance with Dragons on the airplane!

Needless to say, I’m super-excited for Christmas.  In the meantime, I’m amusing myself by looking at awesome Kindle cases on Etsy.**  (The Amazon “official” Kindle cases strike me as a bit overpriced.  Plus, I’m a sucker for a colorful fabric.)  I think I want a Kindle sleeve — I want to take the Kindle out of its case when I read — but there are also some cute folding-cover cases that are awfully tempting as well.

I know a lot of you guys have eReaders.  Any tips for an eReader novice like me?  What kind of case do you use?

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*  One Christmas, my mom told me that she really wanted a paper shredder for her home office.  The Staples checkout guy looked at me like I was the worst gift-giver imaginable when I asked for a gift receipt.  But darn it, she still uses that shredder!

**  I haven’t been doing much Etsy shopping lately, largely because I have a hard time handling the number of options.  A search for “Kindle case” returns over 8,000 results!  If I don’t see something I love on the first page of results, I usually click through 2-3 more pages before getting overwhelmed and giving up.  Has anyone figured out a good way to manage results overload on Etsy?

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Ariel of ArielGraphy is hosting a guest series entitled “On the Road” this week. I’m kicking it off with a piece about my myriad travel anxieties. I’d love it if you stopped by!

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So last week I told you about a bunch of household things that I can’t stand, thus alienating lovers of claw-foot bathtubs and hidden refrigerators.  So am I just a cranky negative person?  Is there anything I *do* like?

Well, of course there are things I like!  (I am also a cranky negative person, but that’s beside the point.)  I don’t believe in formulating “must-haves” years before we would even be able to consider house hunting.  But here are five things I would love to have in our future home.  All contingent, of course, on agreement from my husband.

5.  A porch
I’m not someone who gets all excited about a house with a “great (read: huge) lot.”  To me, lots of green space means lots of mowing, and tragically I did not inherit my mother’s green thumb (or her high tolerance for kneeling on rocks while pulling weeds).  But I do fantasize about having a small, cozy back porch, especially in the summer, and double-especially with a Whiskey Smash in hand.  In my fantasy, my porch looks out onto a patio, where my husband is cooking dinner on our fabulous grill.  (Don’t worry, I think he’s on board with this fantasy!)

4.  Butcher-block countertops
I’ve noticed a trend towards kitchens with an industrial vibe — stainless steel appliances, a giant six-burner range, and sleek dark granite countertops.  I get the aesthetic, but the more I see them, the more I think I really don’t like dark granite countertops.  They feel cold and uninviting.  I love the slightly rustic, welcoming look of a butcher-block countertop.

Image from CountryLiving.com

Image from BHG.com

See? They even make stainless steel look charming!

3.  A gas stove
Back in 2006, I moved into an apartment with my grad school buddy B, and was slightly dismayed to find that we had a gas stove.  I’d never cooked with gas before.  “Will I have to use a match to light it?” I asked B, puzzled.  Miraculously both the apartment and my eyebrows survived that first month intact.

One short year later,  B went to Japan for research and I moved in with Econo Man, and besides B, that gas range was the thing I missed most about my old apartment.  It’s now 2011 and I *still* miss having a gas range!  Every time I have to play burner roulette with a bunch of pots that need to cool and a bunch of burners that are still hot, I mourn the loss of the ability to just turn off the flame and instantly lose the heat.

2.  Double vanity
You mean there’s a bathroom setup that allows me to brush my teeth and lets my husband shave *at the same time*?  No waiting for sink or mirror access?  Sign me up!  (Especially if we each clean our own sinks.)

1.  Built-in wine storage

Image from BHG.com

Because obviously, the above setup is something every home needs.  I have to admit that storing our nicer wines in the closet makes me nervous from time to time.  Our apartment temperatures can be variable.

If you’re also dreaming of home ownership or renovations, what are some items you fantasize about?

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Last weekend, I was quite literally fifth-wheeling it on a dinner out with two couples. (I really miss my husband on nights like that. Anyway.) One of the couples had only started dating recently; the other had been married for about 10 years. At the beginning of the evening I thought it was kind of cool to think about the relationship progression in the group — “Hey, our past is to the left, our future is to the right!”

And then the married couple started squabbling. And didn’t stop for the rest of the night.

Should we text the babysitter to see how the kids are doing? Yes! No! Maybe! Your phone is too hard to text on! That’s because your nails are too long and you don’t put effort into learning about technology! Why are you always home so late?! Why don’t you respect my job?!

… you get the idea.

The thing is I actually liked this couple a lot! Furthermore, the squabbling seemed to come from an affectionate place. But in spite of the playful tone, I was uncomfortable listening to them argue and belittle each other.

My husband and I are … well, let’s be honest. We’re schmoopy. We say nice things about each other. We want to sit together. I try to keep the pet names to a minimum in front of people we don’t know well, but sometimes a “honey” or “sweetie” slips out. Some light teasing might make an appearance (a frequent example: he tells a deliberately lame joke, I groan and say “man, I can’t take you anywhere!”) but we don’t bring squabbles over crumbs on the counter or whose turn it is to take out the garbage out into public with us. Without being too disgusting about it, I want the people we hang out with to know that I think my husband is awesome. Furthermore, if Econo Man made a habit of belittling me in public, you’d damn well better believe that I would notice and we’d have heated words about it once we got home.

Is a certain amount of squabbling inevitable in a long marriage? I hope not. I can’t help but suspect that this kind of “oh, I’m just teasing!” nastiness is often a cover for real resentment. It certainly was for my parents. And I want to have the kind of marriage where we build each other up, not tear each other down.

What do you guys think? Am I overreacting or reading too much into this kind of squabbling? How do you talk to your significant other in public?

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* The Needlers were recurring characters on SNL.

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When I was interviewing for my current job, the interviewers asked me what made me a good match with the research and conference-planning aspects of the job. I told them I was highly organized and detail-oriented and I described a small workshop I’d planned at GSU.  The interviewer then asked if I could give other examples of my organization and planning skills, “perhaps on a slightly larger scale.”

Immediately, I thought of our wedding, but my mental monologue went something like this.  I can’t mention my WEDDING in a freaking JOB INTERVIEW.  But I can’t think of any other examples.  Come on, brain.  Examples, examples, examples, anything?  Oh, crap, the silence has gone on too long.

So I said it. “Well, there was our wedding.”

I immediately froze in horror. Oh. My. God.  I just mentioned my WEDDING in a JOB INTERVIEW.  I am so not getting this job. I could hear the skepticism in the interviewer’s voice.  “So … you’re organized because you planned your wedding?”

But I gamely soldiered on, explaining that the event had had almost 150 guests, that I’d made spreadsheets accounting for all RSVPs and meal choices and dietary restrictions, and that the caterer had called us the most organized couple she’d ever worked with.

If I had to take it back I’m not sure I’d mention the wedding again, based solely on the skepticism in the interviewer’s voice.  But I got the job.  And damn it, in retrospect I kind of resent that skepticism and I resent myself for thinking that my experience planning a 150-person event somehow didn’t “count” because it happened to be a wedding.  The truth is, I’m now starting to plan an event for my job and the lessons I learned while wedding planning really are helpful.  Lessons like:

* Do research on costs before you commit to firm numbers. Econo Man and I severely under- or over-estimated almost everything in our initial “guesstimate wedding budget.” I now know that what I think things cost and what things actually cost seldom line up perfectly and I never put down a budget number until I’ve at least done some Google searching on local options. Tragically, not all of my colleagues have learned this lesson (file this under “joys of working with a budget someone else wrote based on zero research”).

* It’s not rude to follow up when RSVP deadlines are missed. Most conference participants and wedding guests who miss RSVP deadlines are well-intentioned but perhaps slightly disorganized and will probably appreciate a gentle reminder.

* When service is terrible, it’s not your fault — it’s theirs. And it’s not rude to demand better. I learned my lesson with the wedding. I can promise you that recalcitrant University caterers or hotel employees are not going to get away with crap like not returning my e-mails or calls for a month, especially if they’ve already accepted our money.

Any other real-life applications of wedding planning?

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One year ago

There were flowers …

… and cake …

… and dancing …

… and oh yeah — this happened.

Happy anniversary sweetie!

All photos by Photocraftz Inc.; weird headless cropping by me.

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To my sweetie

Cartoon from xkcd.com

Happy birthday, honey!

I love you, even if I can’t use math to prove it.

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