Archive for the 'Bridezilla' Category

The contest is decided

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Back on our blogiversary, we announced a “Guess the Guests” contest, the winner of which would receive the Amazing Pink Cone of Wonder (a.k.a. 2000+ yards of a cashmere-wool blend laceweight yarn in hot pink):
Sarah made her Handsome Triangle out of this stuff and it is…otherworldly. As its earthly curator, I have kept this cone wrapped, so its full wonder is not quite apparent in this photo.

I would have announced the winner much earlier, but I was extremely busy partying, attaching eight-point bustles, learning how to run recalcitrant new appliances (more on that later), kicking Craphound to the curb, and mastering a foolproof recipe for our preferred “adult beverage” of the summer—the fresh whiskey sour.

What? Why, yes, I will share my newfound wisdom. After all, even if you don’t have a landlord like Craphound, you undoubtedly have some insufferable peckerwood in your life who makes your day seem long and your need for a whiskey sour very great.

Here’s what you do to make about four cocktails:
Combine 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice;
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice;
1 cup of simple syrup (made by combining 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water and heating over low to medium heat until the sugar dissolves);
3/4 cup Jack Daniels.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour this combo of ingredients over the ice. Shake vigorously for about half a minute. Strain the shaken cocktail into a cool glass and add a maraschino cherry (or four).

Now that everyone has a drink, we do in fact have a winner. Naturally, there must be a drum roll (what else?)…and the winner of the Amazing Pink Cone of Wonder is…


Get in touch, will ya, Kristy? And I’ll send you your prize.

And finally…

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

Sarah and I apologize for the slim pickings on this blog over the past week, but frankly, we were just bone tired. And in my case, just a tad behind on regular life activities.

The wedding and the receptions were great fun, but I have to admit that I am relieved that they are over. I still maintain that I made a rather poor bride, given my virtually nonexistent enthusiasm for wedding preparations, but when the day(s) came, everyone lied boldly and said I looked beautiful.

And that, as everyone knows, is the really important thing.

Another important thing: the contest. I will get some solid numbers for these events and announce a winner next week. Hang onto your hats!

Meanwhile, a little photo essay on the MA reception…

Pre-reception, the kitchen was very well used:
This is the obvious moment to remind everyone that Sarah made all the food and the cakes for this party. Thank you, Sarah! It was a brilliant job.

And the Knit Sisters were immortalized forever in a moment of high seriousness:
This was a serious occasion, people.

The backyard looked sublime…
For those of you who remember the old yard with its intractable Lost Patio of Atlantis, isn’t this a revelation?

…and I attempted to photograph the flowers while Shelley rolled in the grass.
All flower arrangements were courtesy of my friend Em, who made $20 worth of flowers look like a million bucks.

The lone snacker kicks the party off:
Snack early, snack often.

While some early guests circle the spread:
Who will inaugurate the feast?

Get a load of them shrimps, will ya?
Six pounds of these babies were ultimately consumed.

I made some last minute adjustments to Alex’s general appearance.
He looked pretty darn good already, but…

Family portrait with dog:
Shelley, I am pleased to report, displayed perfect dog behavior during the entire party. This outcome was greatly hoped for, but not a given.

Shelley greets an old friend from New York:
The moment of thrilling reunion!

And the divine Ms. Em, who also worked tirelessly to pull this party together and to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude, finally relaxes with a brew:
Believe me, she deserves that and more.

One younger guest cools off:
Dude. I got ice.

While another makes something special in the birdbath:
This wonderful concoction is known as a “Yucky, Yucky, Yucky, Yucky Pudding.” I have this on the ultimate authority—the chef herself, shown here in full party mufti.

Sarah shows off her masterworks:
These cakes were really, really impressive.

Here’s the cake top Sarah and Em put together:
Who knew they were also so good with flowers?

Now old pros, Alex and I cut the cake while Miss A. acted as official photographer.
It was much more fun and not nearly so nerve-wracking this time around, leading me to the conclusion that everyone should have at least two wedding receptions, if not three.

Here’s the late afternoon garden scene.
A few of the guests mill about.

Someone brought an extra guest:
In case anyone asks, I’m a Barbie girl in a Barbie world.

Finally, I would like to give special thanks (in some cases again) to Sarah for all the delectable food, to Emily and Tope for working so tirelessly as sous chefs, to my parents for hosting this party, to Alex’s father for taking all these pictures, and to Alex for exceptional house cleaning services and party errand-running.

It was a lovely time, thanks to all of you.

Reception numero uno

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

Our return to Massachusetts and the Dream House has been full of wonder and joy, and also a crapload of unpacked boxes. You must believe me when I say that I’d be happy to be unpacking right this instant…if only someone would tell me where all this stuff goes.

Instead I thought I’d thank you all for your lovely comments on the wedding posts and give you the report on the California reception. (The Massachusetts reception is bearing down upon us at lightning speed, no brakes—and let me tell you, there’s nothing like the exhilaration one feels when one is desperately unpacking a two-story house while staring down the barrel of a bazillion guests descending upon one in a matter of days! But you know what I always say: if a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing!)

And so, without further ado:

In the beginning, there was me, the cake, and Alex’s mother (who prefers to remain anonymous on the internets, and who can blame her really? Would you—honestly now—want your name associated with an outfit like Knit Sisters? I thought not.)

Gratuitous shot of the eight-point bustle.

Dear friends Marchelle and Stephen with their daughter. Love the hat, Miss Baby! And also the discerning expression. If Miss Baby could speak in complete sentences, I think she might say, “I don’t know ya, and I’m not sure I wanna know ya neither.”

My cousin Chris and his delightful and lovely wife Sophie show off their adorable son. And yes, I am there too, sunburned and trying desperately not to chortle and spew wine all over the camera lens. The sunburn, by the way, was the result of a vast blind spot that afflicted me on our wedding day. The sunscreen was in the blind spot. Ergo…

Alex with Susan and Matt, some of our very good friends from the Bay Area.

To illustrate one of the difficulties of cavorting about out-of-doors in a complicated dress with an overlayer of tulle, I have included this picture of my sister and I attempting to expel a bug that had somehow gotten in between the overlayer and the underlayer, creating an unsightly black “stain” that moved of its own volition. We were ultimately successful. And the “perfect day” was saved!

Alex with family friend: “And so you see, the FOURTH consideration is…”

With my old man and some of his high school chums. I’m sure you’d never guess that I’m well over a decade older than all these people. What’s my secret? Knitting. And Oil of Olay.

Speaking of knitting, here is Sarah at the reception, using her time wisely. Very fine sock, Sarah. Love the color combo!

With our parents and a few of my grad school buddies, I photograph my father-in-law while he photographs me. The spectator is specularized and the object of the gaze is reflexively empowered through technology! We’re also just, you know, funny like that.

What do you think of the bridal industry, Maxine?
Love this woman.

The Bales family parties hearty with Alex’s mom and my dear friend from college, Jennifer.

When you’re the coolest person in the room, it shows.

The ceremonial cake barely making it to the plate. This is what happens when you unleash amateurs upon multi-layered pastries.

Alex pauses before he feeds me the cake.

And finally, the get-away car with its traditional appointments.

More from the Dream House, and the second party, when we return…

All that and a bag of chips

Friday, June 29th, 2007

If you’ve been reading over the past few days, you will have noticed that a theme has developed, one that has nothing whatsoever to do with knitting. Some of you may be sick unto death of this wedding theme, but bear with me.

It was a major life event and attention must be paid. So.

I will also remind you that up until literally days before this wedding, I assumed that it would turn out to be a day that we would never forget.

No matter how hard we tried.

But no! The weather was unseasonably sunny for San Francisco in June…
…(I expected—and with good reason—fog), there were no wardrobe malfunctions, and everyone was on his or her best behavior. Given that we’re talking about a family occasion here, people, I think we can fairly say that the event exceeded expectations. Against all odds, it really was all that and a bag of chips.

Which is saying something given the inauspicious start to our California travels.

Yes, the course of true love never did run smooth, nor did the course of modern day air travel.
Walking the trail to the lighthouse, where the wedding qua wedding was held. Alex on the left, Sarah carrying my train on the right. Observe carefully, my friends, for I doubt that you shall ever again witness my sister playing the role of the lady-in-waiting. It does not suit her.

We were meant to fly out to Oakland via Chicago on Monday night (the wedding was Thursday), but thunderstorms in Chicago meant our original itinerary got scrapped. So we trudged home for the night with a ticket to fly to San Francisco early the next morning.

Our checked bags, however, flew on to Oakland. With our wedding shoes, accessories, vital undergarments, and various important toiletries containing over 3 fluid ounces. As Alex put it, “Carry-on bags only is just another word for nothing left to lose.”

Now separated from these relatively important items, we nonetheless remained in high spirits—we were after all travelling light at this point—and arrived at Logan Airport at 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning, having slept about 3 hours…only to discover that the flight to San Francisco that Mr. United Gate Agent had rebooked us on the night before was leaving at 7 a.m. FROM CHICAGO.
My favorite view from the trail.

Again, we were at Logan Airport in Boston. I’m sure it rather goes without saying that Logan is NOWHERE NEAR O’HARE. This was bad. This was very, very bad.

I’m not proud to admit this, but we were forced to play the wedding card, I’m afraid, to get onto a flight to San Francisco…that left Boston approximately 42 minutes from that moment.
Here we are before the ceremony (and before the gale-force winds had deconstructed my hairdo).

Ever try to get through today’s airport security in 12 minutes with a wedding dress? Which travels in a garment bag so large that it looks like you are putting a body through the scanner? Yeah, well, imagine if you will…

But all was well that ended well. In spite of these considerable obstacles we were, by 2 p.m. PST on Tuesday, reunited with our bags, armed with a marriage license, and checked into a hotel.

The rest is, inevitably, photo history:
The thing you gotta ask about any dress that doesn’t have a train is, “Why not?”


A couple of shots from the beginning of the ceremony. We had no idea what to do with our hands, but were trying not to show it.

The veil is borne aloft!

The exchange of rings.

Me pouring way too much wine into the ceremonial wine cup. Way too much. I was unaware that we had to drink all of it or else ruin the symbolism. Silly me.

Alex struggles manfully to quaff all the wine. Fortunately, the vows were over by this point.

The requisite kiss, naturellement.

One of the sweetest and most sincere moments in all my life.

And then…well…basic character will out, you know!

Quite possibly my favorite photo.

What’d I tell you? All that and a bag of chips.

Done deal

Friday, June 22nd, 2007



Wedding day

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

Today’s the day!
With this ring…

Back with the nuptial report and wedding photos next week!

Stress management

Friday, June 8th, 2007

I’m a tad pressed, so I haven’t been able to respond to all the comments the way that I usually try and like to do, but I would like to thank everyone who wrote something encouraging on Tuesday’s post. Your thoughts and kind words were very helpful.

So was the fact that some of Alex’s family members sent us a Cuisinart countertop wine cellar, something I’ve always secretly desired, but would never have bought for myself.

Suddenly, the wedding is starting to look a lot more worthwhile to me!

I’ve also been attempting to employ various stress management techniques like, for instance, knitting:

The Laines du Nord Mulberry Silk is absolutely gorgeous, although I will admit that for the moment the scarf looks a bit dull…but just you wait! There are ruffles that go on the ends and those are going to be very, very exciting. I promise. (Seriously, the pattern is really, really cool. You just can’t tell it right now. Stay tuned.)

This is also my first experience with the new Addi Turbo Lace Needles, shown here in a U.S. Size 5. Thumbs up! Nice, sharp points, light needle, smooth join…what’s not to like?

I’m also extremely excited about the first shipment of Tofutsies (featured in the most recent IK, by the way) in a “limited edition” colorway:
At Woolcott, we have formed a special Tofutsies Sock Club (limited to twenty people) and each of us will now automatically get our Tofutsies fix every two months for the next year. Normally, of course, I wouldn’t want to be part of any club that would have someone like me as a member, but I made an exception in this case.

My plan is to knit this up on a pair of U.S. Size 1 Addi Turbo Lace Needles, pursuant to their claim to be “good for socks.” We’ll just see about that, won’t we? The yarn itself is and interesting blend: 50% superwash wool, 25% soysilk fibers, 22.5% cotton, and 2.5% chitin. The latter is a fiber derived from shrimp and crab shells and is, according to the marketing folk, “naturally antibacterial.” To my knowledge, there is no actual tofu in the Tofutsies—since soysilk fiber is a bit different, I believe, than coagulated soy milk.

The presence of the chitin, however, led to a great many questions about whether or not these socks would be safe for people with dietary allergies to shrimp and shellfish.

As we know, there are no stupid questions. However, if there were, that would be one.

Beyond knitting, I have also been spending an inordinate amount of time at the gym—the idea being that it is better to heave iron barbells around for a couple of hours than it is to A) guzzle half a bottle of Southern Comfort and shoot up the neighborhood; B) cash in all your retirement savings at a loss, buy an old Cadillac Seville, and run away from home with your dog; or C) burn your wedding gown and veil in the street while screaming, “I am living in the fifth ring of gender-role hell, people! Gender-role hell!”

And finally, I am reading Bringing Down the House, the story of the M.I.T. blackjack team, card counters who made millions off the casinos in Las Vegas. That is, until they were shut down by what the back cover refers to as “violent heavies.” Although it is very poorly written—almost painfully so—the tale is nonetheless highly diversionary. I was attracted to the book by my recent trip to Vegas, but also because I rather liked the idea that people could be employed full time as “violent heavies.”

I wish I had known this when I was a college counselor. It might have provided a viable alternative to college for some of our less scholarly students. One boy in particular I’m thinking of…he would have made a great “violent heavy.”

I think he now trades bonds on Wall Street instead.


What happens in Vegas

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Through the magic of technology, I am posting this while I am on my way to…Las Vegas! I swear, I spend more time in Vegas than anyone I know who isn’t a compulsive gambler, and yet it is all for work. Serious work! Cross my heart and hope to die.

I’m going to an academic conference on risk. Okay, yes, there is a “Gaming Nite!” (which, rumor has it, devolved last year into a drunken conga line composed primarily of middle-aged men sporting tweed jackets with patches on the elbows) but the rest of it is as sober as Cotton Mather on a Sunday morning.
Or as sober as I am when I am packing house.

It has occurred to me that this situation has all the makings of a bad movie plot: “When commitment-phobic thirty-nine-year-old Ellen visits Las Vegas a mere twenty-three days before her wedding, little does she know what temptations she will face…and what hilarious hi-jinks will ensue! But as they say, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!”

At the end of the movie, our heroine—after narrowly extracting herself from potentially shameful shenanigans with the cast of the “Thunder from Down Under” male strip show, flirting with the idea of leaving academia to become a showgirl, and blowing the entirety of her fall semester stipend shooting craps at Caesar’s Palace—realizes, and fortunately not too late!, that domestic bliss really is everything it’s cracked up to be. Whereupon she returns to Boston, gets married to the man of her dreams, and lives happily ever after with a large collection of Le Creuset pots, fondue sets, and toasters.

Thereby affirming our unshakable belief in marriage, motherhood, hot dogs, apple pie, baseball, Chevrolet, and wedding registries.

Knitwise, even as you are reading this, I am working on a lovely little scarf:
Divine Laines du Nord Mulberry Silk in a periwinkle blue color that I find simply heavenly.

I have not—I repeat, have not—abandoned Minnie, in spite of her truculent and boorish behavior. I merely needed a portable project to take with me to Vegas.

The idea is that knitting will keep me out of trouble. It hasn’t worked in the past, but there’s a first time for everything.

More soon from the City of Sin…

Twenty-nine days to go

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

My helpful gift registry people tell me that there are now only twenty-nine days until the “big event.” Thankfully, the most recent wedding gift that has been sent to us is a miniature cocktail shaker and four martini glasses.

Now there’s someone who’s really thinking! With twenty-nine days to go, I honestly can’t think of anything we need more than martinis. Not a blessed thing. Thank you! Thank you! A million times, thank you!

Seriously, though, I actually feel much better about this whole wedding business than I did last week or the week before. I know I had a lot to say about the major issues surrounding the over-commercialization of weddings in our wildly dysfunctional society and all the feminist issues they raise and all the rest of it. I’m not retracting any of that, but the thing that made me feel so much better about going to California and the wedding and the reception out there was…(wait for it…)…finding a great dog sitter for Shelley.

Yep. I’m telling you! Like night and day after I found this woman. I actually started looking forward to the wedding after I met with Jen and introduced her to my dog. No joke.

Shelley loved Jen and Jen said a number of admiring things about Shelley and then, magically, I could feel my anxiety lifting.

Just goes to show you that you might think you really have major issues with social injustice and rampant materialism and “the gaze” and female objectification and the prioritization of beauty over substance and the devaluation of women over thirty-five and so on and so forth, but it could turn out that you’re just worried about who’s going to take care of yer dog.
Lord, who wouldn’t be worried, prize dog like this?

Furthermore, I picked up my wedding dress at the Bridal Barn (with a vehicular assist from Nasser, whose socks are now finished, see below), and I saw that it was, in fact, good. Heartwarmingly, a couple of fellow Barn customers wandered by during the fitting and said, unprompted, “Wow, that’s a really beautiful dress on you!”

On the other hand, what are they going to say? “Wow, you look like Grendel’s mother in her Sunday best. Is there time to find another gown? Get some plastic surgery? Or maybe just cancel the wedding?”

While I was at the Barn, I also learned how to attach an eight-point bustle (you can think of the eight-point bustle as the hyperfeminine counterpart to the eight-point buck…or something like that) from Mercedes, alterations goddess extraordinaire. Cake! Complete cake. That is, as long as you haven’t had a couple of martinis (see above).
Mountain Colors Bearfoot, a lovely sock yarn with a touch of mohair, in color Deep Blue. A color that is very, very hard to see when you knit, but very, very lovely when the finished object is presented. I knit these on two circulars, U.S. Size 2.

Thanks to that Bridal Barn lesson, I am now prepared to manage effectively should I suddenly be catapulted backwards through time into the 19th century and find myself confronting eight-point bustles on a daily basis. Makes it all worthwhile, people. All worthwhile.

Because time travel happens nearly constantly.

Nasser in his role as foot model. Note the near-perfect fit of these socks. Why, it’s almost like they were…made for him!

And no, Incomparable Kate, you may not see the wedding gown and its eight-point bustle until the wedding. If it were up to me, I’d say yes, but you start dealing with a dress that big with a train that significant and those things just have minds of their own. They also get quite arrogant and prima donna-ish what with all this talk about “the most important dress you will ever wear” and “the perfect gown” and “the most you will ever spend on any single garment, sucker” and such. That’s what they hear all day long. Really goes to their heads. Long story short, the gown is refusing to leave its garment bag until June 21st.

At which point it will emerge and almost certainly demand a martini. Fortunately, I’ll be prepared.

Going bridal

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

First things first: thanks so much to all of you who left such lovely comments about our dream house! It’s hard for me even to express how much this house means to us.

I also think it was very brave of Sarah and the Incomparable Kate to admit that they are a little jealous. This revelation of an ignoble emotion makes me admire the two of them all the more because it shows a certain genuineness that I greatly value. It is also the case that I have often been the one who was “a little jealous.” Sometimes a little jealous like Medea. Here’s what I can say: we all deserve to live in a place we love.

Or none of us do.

But that’s a broader philosophical topic and would probably involve invoking original sin and a number of other outmoded notions about the moral poverty of the human condition that only a handful of us still seem to find instructive.

So erring on the side of generosity towards our species, I would wish a dream house for all of you, but especially my sister, who is actively hunting for that house now.
Here’s some Greek oregano and a mint plant I am growing in pots for easy transport to the new house.

In the midst of all of our wonderful news and good fortune, of course, the days until the wedding continue to tick away. Tick, tick, tick, tick…

But in the course of a conversation with my friend Heidi, who is a professor at Harvard and therefore arguably more likely than the average bear to have insight into all things bearish, I realized why it is that I so dislike being a bride. Or perhaps more accurately, why I so dislike anticipating being a bride.

Wanna hear? Oh, I knew you would!
While I’m at it, here’s my progress on Nasser’s sock. The yarn is Mountain Colors Bearfoot in color “Deep Blue.” It’s a wool/mohair/nylon blend and absolutely scrumptious. The pattern is, of course from Interweave’s Favorite Socks, a book I’m coming to know and love.

Heidi, in her wisdom, offered the astute observation that for many of us, being a bride has some parallels with the coming-out experience for a gay man or a lesbian. In other words, the experience mobilizes anxieties about gender roles, the expectations of others and the gap between those expectations and reality, and the strong possibility of being judged and found wanting.

In both cases, even if things go as well as could possibly be expected, those anxieties are still lively and we carry them into our interactions, especially with our family members, and they color our judgements when we interpret how people respond to us. And in both cases, these anxieties center around gender issues.

In the case of a living, breathing, flawed (and sometimes relatively old) bride, the cultural archetype against which she is measured is a hyper-feminized, exquisitely beautiful, fecund young woman. And the process of preparing for your wedding is, inevitably, bound up (at least at certain junctures) in how well you reflect that ideal. Guess what?

Bzzt. You lose!

And since culture is NEVER “just culture” and since it is nearly impossible to simply put all of these influences and expectations completely out of your head at all times, even if you think they are complete rubbish and utter bollocks and you in fact feel pretty good about yourself, you will find yourself some days looking in the mirror and thinking, “I’m almost forty years old, I’m not as thin as I used to be, I have no interest in childbearing, I tend to be opinionated, I laugh really loudly, and I bench press ninety pounds. So much for the delicate fairy-tale princess, folks!”

Good times, good times.

But there are even worse days than that, of course. And on those days, you find yourself cringing at the thought of meeting all of those guests who are friends and family of your beloved’s parents, people you’ve never met before and may well never meet again. Since you don’t know them, you tend to project your anxieties onto them. Even though you are sure, intellectually, that they are lovely people.

But let me repeat and clarify: this is not about intellect and it isn’t even about reality. It’s about archetypes. It’s about the eternal feminine. It’s about being exposed and on display. It’s about the awful undertow of cultural expectations.

And when you have a really bad day, you think to yourself, “Those people probably don’t know how old I am. They will be expecting a much younger woman. A woman with nary a grey hair. A woman without laugh lines. Will I confront their irrepressible ‘looks of horror’ at my own wedding reception? On the drive home will they turn to one another and say, ‘I had no idea she would be that old. Poor Alex, he’s ruining his life.’?

Now, returning back to Planet Earth, the truth is that they will probably spend the ride home discussing the high price of gasoline in California, talking about their son’s baseball game, opining about the most recent season of American Idol, and deciding where to go for Sunday brunch.

For better or for worse, we just don’t think about other people all that much.

You see, I do know this. I also don’t want you to waste your breath in the comments telling me that I’ll look lovely, that I should feel confident, etc., etc. I actually know that too. And when the day of the reception comes, I’ll have a great time because at that moment, I’ll feel just fine being me. Like I do 99% of the time.

But this confrontation with the archetype…this is the really bad, bad stuff. This is the shadow-boxing part. This is the anticipation of being publicly scrutinized based not on your intellect, your sense of humor, your talents, or your rare and delightful personal qualities, but on your appearance and—at some dark, primitive subterranean level—on your reproductive viability.

Under those circumstances, a person like me is maybe, just maybe, going to go just the tiniest bit crazy. Just the tiniest bit.

Forty-two more days. Then it will all be over and I can go back to ignoring the eternal feminine, as I have all my life, and those who love me will still love me and those who are disappointed in me or find me off-putting will still basically dislike me and all will be well with the world.

See how easy? Forty-two more days. Piece of cake. Wedding cake, that is.