I must confess that I was a bit nervous as we drove from Westminster to Columbia this morning. I thought I was going to be cool, but there was this little part of me that was on high alert.
Mom and dad led the way to route 32, and then they let us pass them and lead the rest of the way. I'd never been to the Sheraton before, but we found it without too much difficulty, arriving about 10 minutes early. Mr. & Mrs. Cho were waiting for us already in front of the Waterside restaurant. I introduced my parents, and there were smiles and handshakes all around. Mom then took us all aside so she could snap a few photos.
At a few minutes past eleven, they opened the doors to the restaurant, and we were seated. Mom, dad, and the Chos did an admirable job making conversation without needing much help from Al or me, and the buffet did pretty much the job I thought it would—getting us up from the table at different times so that smaller conversations between different people could be started. The main topic of converstaion for me and mom was the food, since we love buffets, and this one was quite good. :) The main topic between me and Al was the migraine that was fast developing, and whether my vision would be clear enough for me to drive. (As it turned out, it cleared before the end of the meal.)
Mom also told the story of how she got the dress that she's going to wear to the wedding: it's the dress that Anne wore to Peggy's son John's wedding last year. Anne didn't want it anymore, and mom had admired it, so Anne mailed it to mom to see if it fit. It did, so mom had a dress. Boom, done. Mom asked Mrs. Cho if she'd found a dress yet, and when she replied that she had not, I think it was Mr. Cho who suggested that I help her find one, and mom who seconded the motion. (Might have been the other way around; I can't remember.) Anyway, I agreed to go to the mall with Mrs. Cho after brunch if she wanted to.
After the meal we all went outside so I could take a few black & white photos of everybody, and then we said goodbye to my parents and followed Mr. & Mrs. Cho back to their condo in Virginia. Mrs. Cho didn't seem too excited about going shopping at first, but Al said he would come too (to my relief), and that seemed to be the thing that convinced her.
Tyson's II is just across the street from the Cho condo, but Mrs. Cho said she'd tried the stores there and hadn't found anything, so we drove over to Tyson's I and went to Hecht's. It took us about 15 minutes of scouring the racks before we decided that the dress that Mrs. Cho had picked out in the first 5 minutes was the only one worth trying on. She did, and it looked fabulous, so that's the one we took to the register. Bonus: it was on sale. Woo hoo! Mission accomplished. Mrs. Cho will be wearing a lovely royal blue chiffon-type dress and jacket combination.
After Hecht's Mrs. Cho took me jewelry shopping; we were trying to find some earrings for me to wear at the wedding. I think she's hoping to buy me a piece of jewelry that I'll be able to pass on to my own daughter someday, should I have one. We found a couple possibilities that involved sapphires, which I love (and which would fill the "something blue" spot), but we've yet to make any definite decisions.
I woke up worn out today. Between the migraine that started around noon yesterday (and lasted, as migraines do, for several hours) and the stomach troubles that came on almost immediately after finishing dinner (whether they were due to a sudden increase in food consumption brought about by being around parental units, or by the unopened clam in my seafood vegetable soup, I can't say for sure), I was physically beat. Add an emotional weariness from having to be "on" all day Sunday, and I was feeling pretty withdrawn and listless.
We had a 9:00 tee time scheduled at a course in Clifton, so we were all up at 7am to eat breakfast. Mrs. Cho had made a special meal of french toast just for me, and though my stomach was still making snap-crackle-and-pop noises, I did my best to enjoy it. I've never eaten french toast with honey before, but it was very good, and I appreciated the very kind gesture.
In the car on the way to the course I said to Al that there would be no tantrums on the course today because I just didn't have the energy for them. When we arrived (in record time, according to Mr. Cho) at the course at 8:20, we discovered that our tee time was actually for 9:27, so Al and I went to hit some balls on the practice range. That's where I discovered that *not* swinging hard produced better results than swinging for the fences did. It's also where I finally got the hang of chipping.
In the cart on the way to the first tee, I repeated the sentiment that I was going to stay calm and relaxed today. I did, even though I shot a 10 on the first hole (and that was a handicap-limited 10, not a real one; I picked up my ball before I had a chance to putt out). I let the bad shots go, didn't bang my club at all, and rejoiced in the good shots (including a 25 foot putt for par and several great tee and fairway shots). I shot a 126, about average for me on a fairly easy course such as this one, but I didn't really care about the score. It was just fun not caring about *every single shot* as if it were the freaking Masters.
I remember the first time I played golf with the Chos, too, and how uptight I was. (See Lori's Rules of Golf for more info on how uptight I can be.) I couldn't believe it when Mrs. Cho and Al ended up hitting from the fairway at the same time on at least three holes, and if I'm not mistaken, that round was the reason for rule #3. Al explained it by saying, "they're just playing Cho Ready golf. They go when they're ready."
So I came prepared to play Cho Ready golf today, and I was in the perfect frame of mind for it (listless and withdrawn, if you'll recall). I wasn't particularly surprised when Al floored the accelerator in our cart while his mom was still behind us hitting from the fairway (me: "Cho Ready golf?" Al: "yep."), and I was only momentarily startled when Al's dad picked up my ball from where it had landed, to the right of the cartpath and behind a tree, and tossed it onto the fairway. Did I yell, "GOOD GOD, MAN, THAT'S RULE #1!"? No, indeed. I just looked wildly around for a second, and then said, "uh, thanks!"
I realized after I'd done it this morning that I'd committed a breach of custom, but almost as soon as I realized it, I shrugged it off: I always kiss Al goodbye in the morning. It felt normal and right, so I didn't apologize. It could also be that, as Al suspects, I'm developing shields. Not every thing that his parents say has an effect on how I act.
Maybe I should back up a bit an explain. When we arrived at the condo on Sunday, Al and I sat on the couch in the living room, talking to his mom. I must've said something sweet, because Al leaned over and kissed me. That's when Al's mom told me (not him, me) that kissing in public was not the Korean custom. Ditto putting one's arm around one's beloved. "Ah," I said. "Public displays of affection are out, huh?" Mrs. Cho nodded firmly.
I spent the rest of the day on Sunday and all of Monday assiduously avoiding kissing Al, and I'd look around to make sure the coast was clear before receiving any kisses from him. If it wasn't, I'd duck away. This felt very *un*natural, and it made showing affection for Al, the person I love with every fiber of my being, seem somehow shameful. It was probably also the main factor in my feeling like I had to be "on" all the time. I had to be aware of offending at every turn.
When Al mentioned the shields thing last night, I said, "I think that's where my parents were going when they said that our marriage should be all about US. That we should do what's right for us first, and if anyone else doesn't like it, tough. The rest of the world will have to adapt." My parents will celebrate their 35th anniversary a month after our wedding, so maybe they're on to something. And for their part, perhaps the Chos are just sharing a tip that worked for them in their 40 years together: by nixing PDAs (and here I use PDA to mean what it did when I was in high school, long before USRobotics developed the PalmPilot), they protected their affection for each other from outside interference.
In the final analysis, I think I'll try to strike a balance between expressing what I feel, and trying not to offend. I guess that's as applicable in business and daily personal relationships as it is in my relationship with my parents and in-laws. I just think that expressing how I feel seems more important now, as Al and I prepare to take a big step together—one that involves making about as public a statement of how we feel about each other as we possibly can.
Had a second wedding nightmare last night. Again with the dress! This time, I had it with me, but when I put it on, it was (a) too loose, and (b) the train was dirty, as if it'd already been worn. The buttons on the side kept coming undone, and the top kept falling down. Lisa was trying to button it back up for me.
The dream probably reflected my anxiety over the final fitting; I've lost 8lbs. since I went in for the first fitting, and while I feel great, I'm nervous that the dress will need to be altered again.
During our second meeting with the officiant, she suggested that sometime before the wedding we take a wedding-free weekend for ourselves. The idea would be to get off the wedding planning merry-go-round and remember why we're getting married in the first place.
Luckily we've had time to reflect on why we're getting married already, because trying to plan a wedding-free weekend has left me stressed out and depressed. I've planned a freaking wedding and honeymoon already, and now I have to plan a weekend? It's too much. The original picture I had in my head was that we'd spend a day working on projects at Al's house (painting the bathroom, fixing stuff, organizing, whatever), and then we'd go out to dinner and maybe check into a hotel somewhere. Sunday we could spend at the hotel, going for a drive, walking on the ocean cliffs, or something else peaceful and private.
Al then mentioned playing golf, so I tried to find a hotel that's near a golf course. My first choice, the Half Moon Bay Golf Links, has two nice hotels adjacent to it, but both are booked. I next tried the east bay, but it seems like it's all business hotels over there. Starwood Preferred Guest has weekend escapes, but they all involve flying somewhere else. I found a romance package at the Doubletree Hotel & Suites near the airport (it backs up to the Bay Trail, and I've always wanted to stay there), but the nearby Poplar Creek Golf Course has no tee times until 4:30pm on Sunday.
I think it was while searching for tee times at Poplar Creek that I finally reached my limit and slid into misery. I banned golf. I don't want to play golf. I feel rushed when I play golf. It eats up 5 hours of precious weekend time, for pete's sake! Plus, we just played over Labor Day, and we're going to play a bunch on our honeymoon, when time isn't a big deal.
Banning golf isn't enough, though; I'm still miserable. I want a pleasant weekend to plan itself, dammit!
After all the stressing about the wedding-free weekend and declaring that we would NOT play golf, we ended up having a LOVELY wedding-free weekend that included golf! On Thursday Al suggested that we drive down to Monterey, and set about finding us a B&B. He sent me link after link via AIM, but though many of the places looked really nice and romantic, they were either booked or required a two-night minimum stay. We wanted only Saturday night.
Just for kicks, I looked up Monterey hotels on Expedia, and the first listing it returned was the Hyatt Monterey. It sounded great to me from the very beginning. I thought, "cool, a large, semi-lux hotel will have a clean, simple room, and we can always walk the 10 blocks to the beach if we want." Then I noticed that the hotel backed up to a golf course. This was *exactly* the kind of place I'd been looking for in Half Moon Bay earlier in the week. I didn't want to get my or Al's hopes up, though; no stress was more important to me then getting a tee time.
I asked Al if he wanted me to make a reservation, but he wasn't too keen on it. He was thinking that a big hotel wouldn't be that cozy, and that a B&B would be better. I said OK, whatever, you find a place. No stress for me, I thought firmly. About an hour later, Al AIMed to say, "go ahead and book the Hyatt." I did, noting on the reservation that we were getting married in three weeks, and we wanted to spend a weekend away from all the planning, so we'd like a quiet room. I said to Al, "we can bring our golf clubs in case there's a chance to play, but I don't want to work to get a tee time." He said OK.
The next day Al called to see about tee times, and they said they were wide open after 1pm on Saturday and after 11am on Sunday. We couldn't believe it! The Pebble Beach area is a golf mecca, and September and October are lovely seasons on the Monterey peninsula, so it seemed inconceivable that they wouldn't be booked. Al made no tee time; he just figured we could walk on if we wanted to.
We woke up around 9am on Saturday, and I showered, dressed, and spent about 30 minutes on realtor.com checking house prices in Maryland while Al ran a couple errands. When he returned, we fed the cats, put our golf clubs and overnight bags in the car (along with a bottle of my favorite wine and some rice krispie treats), and headed out. It was just before noon. No rush.
First stop was in Saratoga for some coffee at Starbucks and a tank of gas, and then we continued on to Monterey. We took our time and enjoyed the scenery, but still managed to get down to the Monterey peninsula at around 1:30pm. We figured it was too early to check in, and we were hungry, so we went on to Carmel for lunch. We had burgers/veggie burgers at R.G.'s, checked out a fish market for another potential meal, stopped in the Safeway for a bit of chocolate, and visited the Long's Drugs for fiery Cheetos and some notecards.
We got a little lost trying to find the hotel because the only directions I had were from the north, and now we were coming up from the south. After a few wrong turns and a bit of frustration (which we blamed on the surly attitude of the clerk at Long's—we figured he'd temporarily interrupted our flow of happy vibes), we finally found the Hyatt. It looked GREAT. Instead of a high-rise hotel, it was a series of three-story bungalow-type buildings surrounding a golf course. There were flowers everywhere, and a fountain at the entrance.
When we checked in, the desk clerk saw the note in our reservation and congratulated us on our upcoming wedding. Then he read further and said, "oh, did I just blow something?" I said, no, and thanks very much, it's fine. He said he would upgrade us to a ground-floor golf course view room and added, "you can sit on the patio with a drink and enjoy the sunset from there." So nice! He asked if we had any dinner plans, and when we shook our heads, he said, "oh right, this weekend is supposed be about *not* planning." :)
The room was very nice, and it was adjacent to the 18th tee. The view was absolutely lovely. We hung out there for a bit enjoying the view, and then around 4:45pm we drove over to the golf clubhouse. Since it was after 4pm, the price to walk was $22 a person (more reasonable than practically anywhere we've ever played on the west coast), and they said we could head right out. We looked around for the starter for a while, and finally saw an employee who said, "oh, just go. There's no one out there." He was right: there was no one ahead of or behind us. We had the course to ourselves, which felt great. We played 9 holes and arrived back at the clubhouse at about 10 minutes to 7.
After a quick cleanup, a change of clothes, and a glass of wine, we went to the hotel restaurant for dinner. The food was adequate, not spectacular, but the atmosphere was very cozy and romantic. It was fun to relax and watch the people walking back and forth to the pool outside the window.
The next morning Al went out to Starbucks to get us coffee while I took a shower. He came back with the drinks and a Sunday New York Times, and we spent the next two hours or so drinking coffee, reading the paper, and first watching the Jets game on TV, then the golfers on the 18th tee (even the earliest golfers don't make it to the 18th until 11am or so). It was so relaxing that we didn't want to leave; in fact, we were determined to make the most of the 12pm checkout time.
When that time finally rolled around, we did the video checkout, put our bags in the car, and then walked around the grounds a bit, inhaling one last relaxing breath of Hyatt hospitality. We weren't quite ready to head for home, so we went back to the fish market in Carmel for lunch. A cup of yummy clam chowder (Lori) and a crabcake sandwich (Al) later, and we turned the car back towards Mountain View, where we are now. I hope our honeymoon is as nice as this weekend has been!
While going over the calendar with Al a few weeks ago, I pointed out our trip to Baltimore/Washington over Labor Day, and then said, "that means that the Great Wedding Freakout happens here [pointing to September 4], the day after we return. We'll have a month and two days until the wedding at that point, and that's when it'll probably hit us."
"Mark it on the calendar, then," replied Al. I did.
Strangely, when we returned from our Labor Day trip, we were both totally calm. Everything was going well, we seemed to have everything under control, and we weren't nervous. Every morning we'd wake up and say or think, "I guess the Great Wedding Freakout has been delayed!" I think we secretly hoped it wasn't coming at all.
Well, it arrived yesterday, full bore, like it had been gathering strength just off the coast. It hit when we looked at the calendar and saw only three items for the next three weeks: Bridal Shower on 9/22, Dad's 60th Birthday on 9/24, and Bleach Hair, on 9/27. We knew there were a zillion loose ends left; why weren't they on the calendar? Were they too small to merit being placed on the calendar? Were they so small that they were likely to slip through a crack somewhere?
And so it began. We made lists of everything we could think of that remained to do, and then compared lists. Surprisingly, they overlapped by only about 10%. I'm glad both of us are working on this, because I obviously couldn't do it alone!
Last week I was irritated that I was getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night, and yet my eyes still burned incessantly, and I couldn't wait to get in bed every night. This week I'm sleeping 5 to 7 hours a night, and if I wake up, I WAKE UP. My eyes pop open, and I'm wired for the duration. I'm not sure which is worse; I guess I prefer the latter, since at least I can be productive while I'm UP (I got up and worked on a presentation until 4am Sunday night when it became apparent at 1:45 that I wasn't going to fall asleep).
Meanwhile, when I *am* sleeping, I'm having wedding stress dreams. Two nights ago I dreamed I got the photographer's proofs back, and they included half a roll of film that I'd shot myself. Also included was an itemized list of costs which seemed to be more than we'd contracted for. It was when I tried to add it all up that I woke up.
Then last night, I dreamed I was AIMing with Al, and he started getting more and more hostile. Interestingly, I could hear his voice through my computer, not just see the words on the screen; I remember Lisa was in the house with me, so she could hear the whole conversation. Finally the hostility level rose to the point where he started shrieking about—and I'm not going to get the words just right, but here's the gist—that I was using my Christian dominance to persecute Jewish people like him. [Just for the record, Al and I consider ourselves spiritual but not religious, and his family's not Jewish.] The weird thing is that while I was crying (and telling Lisa I couldn't look at wedding earrings just then), somehow I knew it couldn't be real, that it must just be a nightmare.
I'm a little worried that I'll be running on adrenaline for the next two weeks, and that the day after the wedding I'll break down and get sick. I don't want to ruin the honeymoon—it's the thing I'm most looking forward to after being married to Al—so I'm doing everything I can to take care of myself. Tomorrow night, for example, while Al's at hockey, I'm going for a hot tub and massage at Watercourse Way in Palo Alto. We actually went for a hot tub together last Thursday as well; my shoulders were killing me after a long day at work, and I thought I was going to lose it if I didn't get some relief. Al called Watercourse Way as we drove home, and we were able to take a spot left open by a last-minute cancellation. It was great. That's when I got the idea for a massage, and I booked one on our way out. Can't wait!
One final note for today: it's my dad's 60th birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD! I feel like he's getting gypped a bit because my wedding is in less than two weeks, and this amazing milestone in his life is being overshadowed by an amazing milestone in mine. Lisa, Ken, Al, and I are planning something special for his gift, though, so hopefully he won't feel too neglected.
Usually when I have a migraine all I want to do is sleep it off, and I rarely have trouble *getting* to sleep (even if I just woke up). Well, I've got a migraine now, but I can't sleep to save my life. Al is snoring (softly), and I can't stop thinking about all the things that could go wrong this week.
Did Al tell John and Kathy that they were invited to the rehearsal dinner? Will Al be able to arrange for the walk-through with the caterer and the park director on Wednesday? Have we even finalized where we want the buffet table, and what color the linens should be? What if Juliana's out sick on Monday, and I can't get translations of all the things Al wants the dj to say in Korean? Is it unreasonable of me to ask her to translate all that stuff? What if we're not giving the dj enough time to learn what to say? Where the heck is the veil? Will it be in by Thursday, when I pick up my dress? What if the cake doesn't arrive?
I'm feeling quite nauseous at the moment, and I can't tell if it's the migraine or just nerves. I'm not in the least nervous about getting married; I am, however, nervous as hell that we won't be able to pull off the actual wedding. I've been reminding myself for the past couple weeks that time doesn't stop with the wedding—we'll have every weekend for the rest of our lives to clean out the garage, re-do the floor in the kitchen, plant flowers, visit friends—but the fact of the matter is that there *is* limited time to get a few specific things done. We need to finalize everything with all the vendors, finish getting gifts for all the participants, get a final count to the caterer (believe it or not, there are still a couple people who haven't RSVPed), get "must play" and "do not play" lists to the dj, find a CD player that doesn't make a beeping noise every time the play or stop button is pressed, order food for the skating party on Saturday, pick up extra food items for the wedding reception, order sushi from Whole Foods, assign someone to pick up said sushi... OK, there's probably about a dozen things I'm forgetting, but I'm starting to make myself crazy.
My friend Jean gave me a piece of advice on Wednesday. She said, "one thing that helped me as I was preparing for my wedding was to think, 'how do I want to remember the days leading up to my wedding? Do I want to remember how happy I was, or that I was a stressball?'" I'm starting to worry that I might remember the stressball.
Thursday night at our last meeting with the officiant, I was totally calm and relaxed, and so was Al. She couldn't believe it. From almost the moment we left that meeting, however, things went downhill. By the time we made it to the Dunbarton Bridge, I had destroyed the sourdough baguette we'd bought at Whole Foods after leaving the church, there were breadcrumbs everywhere, I skinned a knuckle during the tantrum and was still frustrated as hell, and part of the baguette was missing. (We found it the next morning under the driver's seat.)
Since then I've sort of been up and down; yesterday I was a bit depressed and was beating myself up for being fat, ugly, etc., but today, after a full night's sleep, was better. Al and I got a lot of work done around the house: he pulled up the old brown linoleum in the upstairs bathroom and put down some new vinyl tiles that look great, and I painted the rest of the stairs out front and hung new house numbers. He cleaned the upstairs while I made dinner, and then I packed up all my mats and frames and cleaned the kitchen while he made dessert. We're still in the process of cleaning the living room and mopping the kitchen floor, but we feel pretty proud of what we accomplished today. Now, if only I could sleep...
I'm so annoyed with myself because I can't seem to stay on an even emotional keel. One minute I'm calm and happy, and the next I'm so irritated I could bash a baguette (see "Can't Sleep"). I'm starting to wish for the wedding that the massage therapist from Watercourse Way had: "My dad planned the whole thing. I didn't even see my dress until the day of the wedding."
"How did you know it would fit?" I asked, thinking of the multiple fittings it took me, and knowing that I had it easy. "He bought it in three sizes," she replied. Hard to imagine. Of course, her wedding was about half as large as ours is going to be, and she had it at her house.
It's not that I wish my dad would plan my wedding for me (much as I love my father, I actually find that idea a bit creepy); it's that I want some magical person to flutter down from the sky and handle the last-minute details. Someone like... a wedding planner. Actually, I find that idea even creepier than my dad buying my dress, so maybe I'll just have to get used to the emotional overload.
I think most of the frustration comes from wanting contradictory things, like more time to get everything worked out, and yet also for the wedding day to hurry up and get here. When I'm awake, I want to be sleeping. When I should be sleeping, I'm wide awake wishing I could be making calls and confirming arrangements. What I want most of all just now—even though there are season premieres to be watched and thank-you notes to be written and photos to be framed for gifts—is to get in bed and read a book. I think I'll do that.
You gotta know that when your fiance starts a conversation with, "I have something to tell you that's probably going to make you mad, but all I can do is plead insanity...", it's not going to be good. What came after that sentence wasn't *so* bad, but let's just say that it added yet another curve in what I thought was going to be a relatively straight walk down the aisle. (I'm not going to say what it was, because while I congratulate myself that I've managed to strike a balance between diplomacy and complete honesty so far, there's no way to accomplish it in this situation.)
Anyway, we were just talking about when we were going to do the walk-through with the caterer and the park director, and the only time it's looking like Al can do it is on Wednesday between 3 and 4:30. I said, "well, we can always just leave work a little early on Wednesday. I have to take you to hockey for a 7:30 game, get a pedicure, and pick up Sandy from the airport that night anyway, so maybe it'll just be good to do the walk-through and then get a coffee and have some time to ourselves before all hell breaks loose. No one will miss us at work, I'm sure."
Al said OK... and then he looked at his schedule more closely. "Why can't I do the walk-through on Thursday?" he asked. "Because you'll be in the city with Lisa, Dad, and the kids that day," I replied. "Oh. [pause] I don't have any more PTOs." (PTO = paid time off.) Me: "Didn't you put in for time off for the wedding and honeymoon?" Al: "I put in for the honeymoon, but not for the days before the wedding." Me: "Would you like to plead insanity again?" He grinned.
He just called out from the living room: "Man, this is a lot of time to take off for the wedding and honeymoon." I stepped in and gave him a look that said, "buddy, you'd better have a good lawyer if you're going to plead insanity again," but I said nothing. "I'm just thinking out loud," he said.
I don't think I wrote about this before, and I wish I had now, but two or three weeks ago I had a few dreams in a row where the theme was, "this is easy!" I can't remember what I was doing in each of the dreams, but it was a different thing each time, and what all the tasks had in common were that they were so effortless.
Last night I had another of these dreams. In this one, I was driving a race car (I think it was an Indy car) around a track. There was lesson going on for beginning drivers, but I wasn't a part of it—one of the people at the track just let me drive a car. No matter how hard he told me it was supposed to be, I couldn't help feeling that driving that car around the oval was the easiest, most natural thing in the world. I was good at it!
I'm starting to think that every time I get stressed out about the wedding, god sends me one of these little dreams to remind me that if I go with the flow, everything will be effortless.