The Apathetic Bride Weeps Over Mini-Quiche

001Last week, I had a meltdown. One minute I was calmly sitting in my office chair, returning e-mails, then the next I was sobbing like a fourteen year-old Taylor Swift fan—loudly, accompanied by flails.

This crying jag was, of course, brought on by pancakes. It’s totally normal to have a prolonged breakdown over fluffy breakfast foods, right? RIGHT? Fine, I concede. It was crazy and I lost my damned mind. There is only one thing to blame: the wedding.

My impending nuptials to Professor McGregor are making me have heart palpitations. It’s not that I’m worried about things going well, or stressed over what sort of quiche to serve, it’s that I don’t want to think about any of it. These aren’t Bridezilla moments, these are apathetic bridal nightmares. Sending the catering costs to my father made my want to jump off a tall bridge. Reading the word “tablescape,” as if it is a real, important thing to be concerned over—like the Sudan or whether or not to cut my own bangs—has me reaching for the hemlock. I want to get married, not plan an event.

And yet…apart from chucking the whole thing and eloping to Vegas, there’s no way to avoid it. People want to know what your colors are and how it’s all going and whether or not they can bring a plus one. Everyone wants to talk about our wedding, but it’s the last thing I want to dwell on. Because if I were honest with people, they’d be horrified. My bridal concerns, the things that keep me up at night and create untold numbers of tears, make me sound like an evil, ungrateful scalawag.

Naturally, I’m going to share them with you.

Wedding Things That Make Grace Cry: A List

  1. People RSVP-ing Yes –  Too many people love us. Throwing a wedding, and all that entails, has turned me into a person who actively wishes for people to dislike her. The more people who RSVP yes to this shindig, the more money we spend and the more people will be there to watch it go down. When we were initially drafting a guest list, I was super smug about my methodology, having a list of invitees and a running total of likely yeses. People, it turns out, are totally unpredictable. Maiden aunts we’d never considered attending have already bought plane tickets. Family friends are changing vacation plans around our wedding day. People are saying yes and are so excited about participating, but all I feel is nauseated, then guilty about feeling nauseated. If I post a bigoted political rant on Facebook, will my college friends bail out, at least?
  2. Having Events About Us – Part of getting married is being a rare and sparkling jewel. As a bride, you get not only a day of marriage, but wedding showers and bachelorette parties and lots of people wanting to hear about your plans. This makes me super uncomfortable. Professor McGregor and I fell in love and decided to spend our lives together, we didn’t cure cancer or hike across Antarctica in swimsuits. I didn’t do anything to deserve such attention! I wish there was a societal program, which allowed you to decide which major life events deserved epic parties. I’d choose first book deal and perfect macaron baking every time!
  3. The Cost of Mini-Quiche – Each mini-quiche produced costs $2. Apparently, those little egg pies are made not just of eggs and cheese,but gold passed through the digestive track of a rare Australian water ostrich. I never wanted to know this, darlings, but now I do. I also know the exact price of peppermint sticks, rented champagne flutes, and maple syrup. All of these numbers, swirling around my mind in a budgetary conga line, make me want to hurl. There is a reason I didn’t go into finance. Money stresses me out; spending vast quantities of it on one day stresses me out even more. As someone having a relatively modest & simple wedding, it boggles my mind what more mainstream brides must feel. Congress, won’t you do something about the inflation of mini-quiche?

If you need me, I’m just going to be over there in that corner, curled into a ball. Any wails you may hear are probably me, not actually a dying, rabid bat. I’m told this is totally normal behavior for a bride. When you’re planning The Happiest Day Of Your Life Ever, Including Major Career Milestones and Birth of Spawn, “happy” tears are natural.

– Grace

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My Heart Is Dainty, My Hips Are Not

Audrey-Hepburn-audrey-hepburn-30174987-500-668I was born to wear a sheath dress. Ignore the abundant rear curve and my chest’s propensity for becoming—in strict geographical terms—mountainous. My soul longs to be twee.

It is, of course, never going to happen. The gods could curse me with an immortal tapeworm and my bones would still be Viking-esque, more suited to leading horn-wearing he-men into battle than ethereally floating into tea. Despite my love for all things delicate and feminine—lace, tiny cups, dogs named Claudette—pursuit of a different Grace is fruitless. In my mind, I may be Betty, but anyone with eyes can tell I’m a Joan. So, what do you do, when the outside is never going to match the inside?

Not give a damn.

This is a recent epiphany, kittens. For most of my life, I tried to pretend I wasn’t soultwee. The word “flattering” was my best wardrobe pal. People praised my sense of style, my knowledge of what worked with my generous hourglass shape. Which was all well and good, but have you ever noticed how subtly offensive “flattering” can sound? It intimates that you aren’t attractive, so much as benefited by the outfit you’ve donned. Flattering means that you’re wise to hide certain parts of you, lest someone suspect you don’t possess a perfectly flat stomach or appropriately pointy hip bones. Flattering is something we say all the time to women, as if the best thing she can do is camouflage her squishy parts—or flat parts or whatever it is that doesn’t measure up to our ideal—under yards of fabric or a strategically long cardigan.

Flattering has held me back. Y’all, I want to wear sheath dresses. Who gives a crap if Stacy and Clinton decree that they don’t work for my body type? Sure, I love a fit-and-flare dress like it’s clothing cake, but sometimes I want sartorial pie instead. In writing there is a delightful saying: “Learn the rules, so that you can break them.” That is how I have come to feel about wardrobe choices, as well. For a decade of my life, it’s been all waist-cinching, layering, bust-highlighting rules for hourglass Viking princesses. I know what looks good on me, so isn’t it time I got more comfortable with what supposedly doesn’t?

This summer, I pulled the trigger on my first sheath dress. One of my favorite independent pattern companies, Colette, came out with a lovely little column dress that I gleefully ordered. I tweaked the lines of the pattern a bit—scooping out a bit at the waist for a suggestion of curves—but at the end of the day, it’s a sheath dress. It is exactly the wrong thing for my body type and I adore it. The dress is absurdly comfortable, easy to throw on if I’m in a hurry, and dresses up beautifully. Initially, though, it made me uneasy. I’d pair it with a belt, cardigan, and heels, in an effort to remind the world that I understood my body type. Wear a sheath dress, Grace, but remember who you are! Slowly, however, the accessories disappeared.

Audrey-Hepburn-audrey-hepburn-30467816-500-664I don’t get as many compliments on this dress as my full-skirted, cinched pieces, but who cares? When I wear it, my inner 1960’s ingenue perks up, giving the camera her best Audrey Hepburn smirk. If no one else sees that, I don’t mind. Some days even the Swedish milkmaid wants to feel sweet and delicate. Why shouldn’t she? We are entirely too bound by all those supposed rules, when at the end of the day, our clothes should please only ourselves. I’m all for looking pulled together and stylish, but my style is my own, not one handed to me by society.

I propose we stop obsessing over the styles that work for us. Wear the skirt you love, but is made for the tiny-waisted. Buy that tiki dress you covet, despite the model’s larger chest bunnies. Don a swimsuit without a skirt, because cellulite should not hold you back.

Wear the things that scare you, darling. Society can go suck an egg, if it doesn’t think them flattering.

– Grace

Changing Stylists: A Tragedy in Three Follicles

tumblr_lt0ke11AEw1qefkuro1_400Our first time was like a dream, all rainbows and anthropomorphized raccoons in resort wear. I was in need of guidance, of someone to take things in hand and assure me it was all going to be okay, when she appeared. Chatty, covered in tattoos, and with hair the color of Tabasco, she was my soul mate. We bonded quickly, both lovers of Dr. Who and internet meme Halloween costumes, but it was more than a surface connection. Jordan really understood me, in a way no one else had. We were together for five years—the loveliest, most carefree years of my life—until it ended.

Kittens, my hair stylist left me.

To be fair, she left hair styling in general, not just my specific mane. Last month, Jordan was in a Vespa accident, which she walked away from mostly unscathed—thank God—other than a wrist injury. She took the requisite time off of work, rescheduled clients and thought about life. It turns out, in fact, that she thought herself right out of one career and into another. My dear stylist is now pursuing homeopathic medicine, something she’s always been passionate about, and is out of the hair business.

On one hand, the nice rational left one, I’m thrilled for my friend. She’s finally using her degree, which I saw her work her ass off for, and pursuing her life’s great passion. On the other hand, that selfish bitchy right one, who is going to do my hair now!?

Let’s be honest, a woman’s hair stylist is more than just a service provider. If you go to the same stylist for years upon years, it becomes a friendship, one that is based on shared confidences and the extreme trust required to encourage a cackling woman wielding scissors to chop away. Y’all, I once let Jordan dye my hair red. I, the girl who has only ever been blonde and idolizes Grace Kelly to an unhealthy extent, said to her friend “Let’s have some fun! Want to do red today?” That’s utmost faith, darling. That’s also, it must be said, a bad idea when the majority of your wardrobe features pink and red.

I fucking love Jordan. The prospect of finding someone else to build that kind of relationship with is daunting. It feels like I’ve started dating again, after a decades long marriage that didn’t end in divorce, but a tragic bread machine accident. I am without stylist, adrift in a sea of bad highlights and dull conversation. I am, also, getting married in three months, so time is a’wasting.

While Jordan was out, I had my hair done by a colleague of hers who actually did an amazing job, but with whom there was no spark. She commented with a skeptical tone on my thick hair—which, yeah okay, there’s a crap ton of fine blonde locks happening over here, but it’s not like I grew it specifically to mess up her schedule—and let the conversation fizzle out awkwardly. It was all totally fine, but it was four hours of discomfort and tedium, instead of laughter and camaraderie.

I don’t just want my hair done, kittens, I want witty repartee and discussions of world travel. I want a Whovian who knows her way around foil and has the best kooky mother-in-law stories. I WANT SOMEONE TO CLONE JORDAN, SO THAT MY HAIR CAN BE PRETTY FOREVER AND I DON’T HAVE TO CHAT WITH A STRANGER ABOUT HER CHILDHOOD PET WOMBAT. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

Sigh. I might be taking this too hard.

– Grace

The Apathetic Bride Cheats at Cards

MailboxSurprise_GilElvgrenDarlings, I have seen the light. It is rubbery and comes in all the colors of the rainbow.

It’s also sold on Etsy, so get your mind out of the gutter. Last I checked, crafters weren’t hawking organic woodland creature vibrators yet. Though, if they were, I think we can all agree that one would be called “Foxxxy Lady,” because people can’t resist a good pun. What I’m actually here to buzz about today—It was too easy!—is something infinitely more pedestrian: a stamp.

People adore handing out wedding advice to newly engaged couples. Don’t tell them, but most of it is useless. So much about a wedding ends up being individual to the couple—by luck of venue choice, season of the year, or budget—and thus can’t really be prepared for with a handy one-liner from your neighbor’s mother. There is only one piece of advice that I’m planning to actively follow, as it came from my wise and reasonable friend, Girl on the Contrary. “Write thank-you notes as the gifts come, grasshopper” she said to me, over a giant plate of brisket.

That makes so much sense! The last thing I want to do is arrive back from our honeymoon, only to be faced by a mountain of 200 thank you notes waiting to be written. My hand hurts just thinking about it! So, I’m resolved to write them immediately upon receipt of gift.

Only…I’ve also already had to address Save The Dates, which was a giant pain, plus the invitation suites are looming. Is there no way to save myself from bridal carpal tunnel? Won’t someone think of my metacarpals!?

Someone did. Darlings, you can buy a self-inking return address stamp. Do you know how much writing that saves? On the invitation suites alone, you have to write “Professor McGregor & Grace O’Kelly, 100 Curmudgeon Lane, Not Austin, TX  666-66″ at least twice per invite. It’s the most tedious thing ever. So…buy a stamp. Seriously, if you do one thing I tell you to in your lifetime, make it the purchase of return address stamp.il_570xN.415978758_s0we

I bought the above one, from Rubber Stamp Press on Etsy, and I absolutely adore it. If Professor McGregor hadn’t asked me first, I’d probably marry this thing. It leaves a super clean imprint, legitimately looks hand written/fancy, and is so much fun to use. I stamped 10 sheets of paper, when it first arrived, just so I could use it. Even better, if you’re still in a name-changing quandary, this particular one doesn’t use last names. It can be used forever, even if you eventually decide to become Mrs. Ethel Frankenbaum-Woo. There are thousands of these available on Etsy, however, so the choices are endless. You can get one with penguins on it, symbolizing your shared love of arctic fowl, or one that looks elegantly minimalist.

If you want to spend as little time preparing for this wedding hoopla as possible, get a stamp. They are cheap and they are wonderful. I’ve named mine Archibald and swear to love him forever. That’s good practice for the actual wedding, right?

Approaching Thirty With String Cheese

936full-gil-elvgrenI’m almost thirty.

This is not a fact I’m comfortable saying out loud. And yet…on Labor Day, I turned twenty-eight. I’m about to be married, have only a dissertation left between me and my last degree, and am pretty sure that my cells are dying at a faster rate than they’re replenishing. Late twenties, I am in you.

As such, I’m technically classified as an adult. We all know this is ludicrous, of course. Adult women don’t regularly board themselves into their offices, just because there’s a roach with talons roaming the house. They kill it with their bare hands, then get back to making deals, taking names, and—fuck all, I don’t know—sewing heirloom quilts or something. I was pretty sure that, when I finally made it to technical adulthood, some know-how would kick in. I’d be a-okay with doing the hard jobs and consuming five vegetables a day. My house would be spotless, since my loins would suddenly yearn to vacuum, and I’d take daily runs to keep my heart healthy.

That theory was, obviously, bunk. Kittens, I just ate a lunch that consisted solely of Coke Zero and string cheese. While sitting on the couch at noon. In a Reptar t-shirt.

What I’ve actually become really good at is pretending how to be an adult. You may know that I’m Cher Horowitz with a macaron addiction, but the world still thinks I understand what a 401k is. Masquerading as a grown-up is my jam. As such, I have some sage advice for other people who find themselves unexpectedly aged.

  1. Love Someone Older – I can’t stress this one enough. If you are at all concerned about your abilities to be a fully grown human, fix your affections on someone older and wiser. My dear professor is three years my elder—entrenched in his thirties for a whole year—and makes up for my youthful shortcomings. Like, that time when a giant roach disappeared in our house and he looked over at me from the kitchen, said in a soothing voice “Grace darling, please get up calmly and lock yourself in your office,” then killed the bastard on our ceiling right above where my head had previously been. His years have taught him bug zen and how to hang picture frames!
  2. Buy A Rug – You have your own dwelling! Woohoo! It’s time to decorate that habitat. Only, in order to do all that stuff from HGTV—painting, redoing cabinets, recovering sofas, making papier mâché llama heads—you have to spend a lot of cash. As you’re in your twenties and working some crappy starter job/finishing school, that’s probably not something you can handle. Instead, do all that other stuff slowly and just buy a rug. As a wise man once said, rugs really tie a room together. Slap some paint on the wall, buy a cheap rug from Amazon, and enjoy how adult your dairy-stained college couches look atop it.
  3. Learn How To Make a Souffle – Adults know how to cook. The ability to feed yourself is Survival 101: Emerging From the Goo stuff. In the event that you’re secretly eating Whataburger every night, there’s still hope. Learn how to make one really complicated dish, like a chipotle pork souffle, which you can whip up for parties. Your friends will marvel over your amazing culinary skills, while you can binge on cheese sticks in peace! This also works for hobbies. If you pick up a somewhat difficult hobby, like sewing or jai alai, people will think you way more competent at other life skills. Hildegarde can sew a dress, right? I’m sure we can trust her with our tiny spawn! She’d never feed it Pop Tarts and cover it in pure corn syrup!
  4. Wear Cardigans – If there’s anything I’ve learned from copious hours watching makeover shows, it’s this: layering is the closest thing we have to Harry Potter magic. Does that dress seem boxy? Cardigan! Want to wear a tank top to your adult dinner party, but worried about that giant iCarly logo? Cardigan! Need something that says I am a fancy lady who wears pearls, but don’t have the money for pearls? Card-i-gan! My closet is half sweaters, even though I live in TX. Some call this ridiculous, I call this being a grown up.
  5. Call Pest Control – Sometimes, houses get bugs. Sometimes, as I may have mentioned, these bugs are terrifying. Even worse, sometimes you wake up to find the plastic bag full of fresh baked “It’s Fall, Despite The Sweltering Outside Temperature!” ginger snaps gnawed through. All this, even though you faithfully clean the kitchen every night and used a Ziploc bag, like a damned adult. You will want to faint, which is totally cool, but when you wake from that stupor…call a pest man. After all, the real key to being an adult is knowing when to call in the experts.

Or, better yet, have your mature beloved from Sparkling Piece of Advice # 1 call them, as you whimper from the next room “There’s a mouse in the house…the house…the house…”

– Grace

Addendum: Professor McGregor would like me to add that, despite what one might think from how often I’ve mentioned that roach, we don’t live in a pest-ridden hovel. It’s a perfectly charming 1950s hacienda in a perfectly charming octogenarian-filled neighborhood. We grow lilies!* We have a Wedgewood blue sitting room! We are not living in heathenish squalor, Aunt Gilda, I promise.

*Well, to be strictly honest, we’re not growing them, so much as not actively killing the ones planted by the previous owner.

A Kick In The Cake Balls

cakeballsScrew the cake ball.

I’m sorry, that came off poorly. Screw the fucking cake ball. Darling readers, today I need to get something off my chest. Namely, the gross ganache covered bits of mushy cake mush that people keep trying to pass off as wedding cake.

These days, brides are doing all we can to be original. That makes a certain amount of sense. After all, you want your wedding to reflect the perfect, sparkly love that you and your darling darlingkins feel for each other’s naughty bits. Ergo, everything should be unique to you, including the cake! Why have plain, old wedding cake, when you can have something super cool like cake balls? Cake is for the olds. You and your darlingkins are young and hip and have a love like mushy cake mush. It is beautiful, non?

Non.

Kittens, regular cake is delicious. It comes in all sorts of flavors, is pretty to look at, delicious to eat, and covered in frosting. Why mess with a good thing? When people come to weddings, they expect wedding cake. It’s part of the fun! As a guest, I look forward to nothing so much as the end of the meal and subsequent cake unveiling. Will it be a lovely white cake covered in butter cream? Will the bride show her rebellious side and choose German chocolate? The possibilities are endlessly delicious! As long as it’s not covered in fondant sugary cardboard, the cake and I are compadres.

So, when people delete the cake altogether, my spleen starts a’twitching. It began with cupcakes, which at least retained the genre. They were smaller, but still had frosting! Acceptable. But then—then, kittens!—I attended a wedding with ice cream sundaes and another with fruit tarts. Raj and Griselda may have called them funnel cakes, but everyone knows that’s just another name for spidery donuts. The wedding cake, classic and delightful, is becoming an endangered species.

Cake balls are, in my book, the worst offenders. They dress themselves up as cake, with frosting and crumbling centers and dainty decorations, but they fail on every level. In order to get cake into a photogenic little ball, one must destroy it. The cake batter is made unnaturally gooey, so it can be properly scooped, then half-baked and covered in sugary cement. How does that sound appetizing? If I wanted crunchy mush balls, I’d eat a deep fried Twinkie. Cake was not meant to be scooped! It’s belittling to such a noble, respected pastry. Cake, my dear ground squirrels, should be cut—whether into slices or squares, I leave to you—but never, not ever, attacked with a spoon.

Further more, it should not be miniscule. Cake does not exist to be tiny and cute, but to bring comfort and diabetic comas. I don’t want a small ball of it on a decorative toothpick, instead of a sizable slice that requires a fork. Where are the people clamoring for less cake? Your bridesmaids did not don Spanx underneath those taffeta monstrosities, in order to eat small amounts of pastry goo. Only dessert communists would want to ration the joy.

I may not care about much, when it comes to my own wedding, but the people will have cake! More specifically, they will have cakes. We couldn’t make up our minds at the tasting—because cake is, as we’ve covered, delicious—so we’re having three. Wedding guests, I’d wear the stretchy pants, come December.

– Grace

Ignore a Pick-Up Artist, Save a Puppy

4256913449_e09b0c3219_oFriends, there is a plague upon us. It oozes up to you at a bar, telling you that you’re really pretty for a chubby girl and asking if you’ve read Hemingway’s lost grocery list. It encourages the objectification of women, turns love into a game, and wears too much cologne. The pick-up artist movement is still a thing and it’s boring.

Today on Jezebel, yet another misogynistic asscake and his poorly punctuated ramblings—this time on why his precious manseed only goes to deserving women— were highlighted. That’s right, I said highlighted. Jezebel’s intent was to castigate the blogger, of course, but we all know that’s not how the internet works. I’m not linking to his original blog, because every damned URL turns into followers and comments. Attention, of any sort, is the route to book deals and advertising. Y’all, we can’t keep giving our page hits to sad, delusional man children!

It’s important to know the face of your enemy, but pick-up artists aren’t the enemy of feminists. After all, they aren’t actually changing the dating landscape. When was the last time someone tried to “neg” you and it worked, kittens? I had six single years in my twenties, through the height of this supposed movement, and was never successfully picked up by one of these clowns. In order for pick-up artistry to be a threat, it would have to be working. These men think they’ve cracked the code to seducing women, but all they’ve done is find women who probably would’ve slept with them anyway. As one University of Kansas study found, the women in these relationships are just as sexist as the men. Like finds like, disastrous as the results may be.

We have loads of actual foes to deal with, from the continuing wage gap to society’s constant body snarking of women. Pick-up artists are, in the jungle of gender politics, gnats: annoying, harmless, and awfully noisy for their size. Yet, we continue to be scandalized and angered by them. We link to their blogs, angrily talk about their latest books, and give them entirely too much of our damned time. Are they misogynistic jerks? Totally. Are they having a tangible effect on the ways normal, well-adjusted young men and women view dating? Not so much.

A nice, well-informed man probably won’t pick up “The Game,” much less read it and follow its advice. The audience for such things already thinks women are prizes to be won, not equal partners to share in sexy times and adventures. Pick-up artists aren’t looking for love, they’re looking for bed-notches, and as a result they’ve missed the whole damned point of life. We’re here to foster relationships and leave a positive impact on the world, not shag ourselves straight into a syphilitic hallucination. Sex doesn’t last forever, so the small number of men who buy into this bullshit are destined to find themselves disillusioned and alone at the end of it all. Their comeuppance is of their own making, not from admonishments that will fall on deaf ears.

If you want to get rid of pick-up artistry, ignore them. Their game will fail and you’ll have much more time to devote to real issues. We have sexual violence to combat, systemic sexism to eradicate (the actual cause of this supposed trend), and puppies to save. Who has time for another douchebag in a velvet suit? Stomp on his tail, roll your eyes, and sashay off into the sunset with an enlightened manfriend.

– Grace