Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New Orleans, aka My Happy Place

You know those getaways so full of love and fun that you realize even inside the moment that you're actively creating a memory that'll make you smile forever? That was our New Orleans anniversary weekend. And of course, I forgot my camera, so all I have are Instagram snippets from my phone. Somehow, though, I think the joy comes through anyway.

We flew through happy, bright blue skies.

We stayed at the Roosevelt, which was still shuttered from Katrina during our last visit. The restoration of the hotel and the building's history are both remarkable. (Pretend you're looking at pictures of gorgeous chandeliers here instead of just a napkin.)

The Roosevelt is also home to the Sazerac Bar, which makes, among other delights, a perfect sazerac. (Naturally.)

And bonus: fancy bath products!

We spent Thursday afternoon eating muffalettas at Central Grocery - YUM. We also meandered the French Quarter - I have a soft spot for the galleries along Rue Royal and all the street musicians.

Later that night we crossed town for an anniversary dinner at Gautreau's. I can't say enough about our meal... just spectacular, start to finish. Imagine decadent soup and salad, weep-worthy fish. Imagine a restaurant without even a sign out front, in a converted house, on a residential street. Imagine being the last diners there and having our meal in a completely empty, gorgeous dining room... just us, candlight, and music. Heaven. I also wore one of my favorite dresses, but this is the only image I have of it (awesome Roosevelt tile alert):

I haven't mentioned yet that we had a wedding to attend later in the weekend, so after dinner we met up with the bride-and-groom-to-be at a great dive bar on Magazine Street. Friday we hung out at the pool sipping drinks, reading books, eating catfish sandwiches, and being otherwise decadent. Such a life! That evening we had dinner plans at Cochon. Here I am on our walk from pre-dinner shrimp and cocktails at Luke and on our way to dinner:

This is actually the dress I wore to our rehearsal dinner three years ago - fitting since later that night we joined H&M's rehearsal party. But Cochon... oh my. Porky goodness and the best roasted oysters I've ever had and this fried alligator, which tastes a lot like Nobu's rock shrimp dish, if you've had that before. I adored this restaurant, which is entirely unsurprising.

Later that night in the French Quarter, we were toasting soon-to-be-newlyweds and toasting each other, too. So much fun.

On Saturday we decided that T should wear a bowtie to the wedding (When In New Orleans, right?), so we walked and shopped and walked and ate and drank and walked and relaxed.

And here's my favorite guy wearing not only the bowtie we acquired that day, but also his wedding day seersucker! He hadn't worn it since our wedding - and for those that don't remember, this suit was originally his grandfather's. I loved that tradition then and I still love it now. (I also love that he didn't shave for this wedding... I'm a sucker for scruff.)

Here's me and more of that great Roosevelt tile. These are some of my favorite shoes, by the way - seersucker Louboutins gifted by that handsome guy above a few years ago. He's pretty great.

H&M's wedding was at the Audubon Zoo... it was so much fun seeing the animals at the wedding and late into the night. Here were some of our favorite wedding participants (apologies to the gators for the fried item previously included in this post).

Oh hi. We match.

No seriously.

I love that T loves pattern as much as I do. That's his wedding pocket square, too!

This picture sums it up. Happy, happy, happy.

Oh, and... on Saturday afternoon a Cajun-accented psychic told me I need to be nicer to myself. T's been gloating ever since, because he always says the same thing. So here's a laaaaaate-night picture of me drinking a hot toddy due to my lack of a voice (I woke up Sunday with a lousy cold I'm still fighting). You see that squishy area that's not quite arm and not-quite side boob? That area is my nemesis. I hate it. But because I'm being nicer to myself these days, I'm posting this picture anyway. SEE, Cajun psychic and "Baby Spirit" that I've been instructed to talk to, SEE? I'm being nice.

Until next time, Nola.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thank you.

No really... thank you. Your words were amazing and meant more than I can say here.

So pat yourself on the back. Pour yourself another.

Because you rock. Really.

Letterpress via Steel Petal Press

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A new day.

Today is a very good day.

It's my three-year wedding anniversary. It's the day my favorite person and I jet off to one of our favorite cities and spend a long weekend being no one but us. It's also the day that I confess a very big thing to you, because it's finally become more tiring keeping it quiet than letting it all hang out.

Here's my baggage, thrown open for the world to see: I've been trying to get pregnant for two years.


Two Junes ago, T and I threw caution to the wind and decided to just see what happens. Of course, nothing did. A long journey began then instead, one much more complicated than we ever expected. All the same, the June of my memories is a month of freewheeling optimism, a month of earnest hope, a month of giddiness. It's almost June again, and so much has changed. Our world is decidedly more measured in its optimism now, our imaginations a little more contained, our hearts a little more tender. But there is hope, always.

There's also been a lot of writing over here, in my quiet moments. Some of it is sad, some of it funny, and some of it just explanatory, captured so I don't forget the details. It's been good for me. When I started writing, the only audience I had in mind was someone besides you guys. The person writing wasn't the me you all know. She's a little more wry, a little more bitter, a little more beaten up. She has something big in common with the me of Freckled Citizen, though: they both hate whining more than anything.

I think it's the fear of coming across as a whiner that's kept me quiet here for so long. With everything I have in my life, who am I to complain about the one thing I'm missing? My mantra that keeps my inner whiner in check is "I am lucky." And I am; I know I am.

I've learned so much about myself in the last two years, so much about my husband, so much about who we are as a couple. I've never been prouder of us. I don't know when we'll overcome infertility, or if we'll overcome infertility, but I know that at the end of the day, I'm still one of the luckiest girls alive. I still wouldn't change a thing.

So if you'll indulge me, I'd like to share some of what I've written here from time to time - The Infertility Diaries, if you will. And whether or not you've ever set foot inside a fertility clinic, I have stories that might interest or amuse you. (The one where I inject myself with hormones at a wedding reception is worth the wait, trust me.) But what I'm offering isn't really entertainment or even for you: it's catharsis, and it's for me. 

I'm spending the next few days in New Orleans, where I'll be in my happy place of food, drink, music, and cheer. One of my favorite things about New Orleans has always been the way it wears itself from the inside out, guts splayed open right alongside its picture-perfect facades. It's the perfect city for me to start this new journey, this one where I unzip my insides and wear them openly. Decorum just isn't working for me anymore.

And so it's May 24, and it's a good day. Three years after the fact, and three years from now, too. No matter what.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Small steps out front

Until a month or so ago, we'd done absolutely nothing to our front yard. The plants in the yard were... random, at best. Old and not particularly healthy. Planted haphazardly. No continuity or relationship between plants. Random.

We've invested so much time and energy inside our house that the outside has been firmly on the backburner. We finally brought a great landscape designer over to help us plan our dream yard, then started prioritizing his plan. We realized our biggest priority was probably the most expensive piece (our rotting deck), and so we stalled again. 

But those old roses out front that inexplicably looked great this year changed things for me. Seeing something grow and look pretty in our front yard made me realize that just because our bigger picture effort is stalled, there's no reason I can't begin making small improvements on my own. And so over the last month, I've planted lots out front: a new rose bush, a gardenia bush, three peonies, a hibiscus, and a hosta. There's more to come, too. I'm still waiting for some of these to pop open for the first time, and I know that this year might be their smallest. But a year from now they'll all look much better, and the year after that, even prettier. Incremental progress that I made while we were stalled. That works for me.

I'm happy I got over my can't-plant-because-we-have-a-huge-landscaping-plan-in-mind rut (which lasted a year, I should add). Not to mention... passing the gardenia on the way up our front steps makes me - and my nose - all kinds of happy.

I'll show you the backyard soon. We still have the crazy blue deck, but at least it features lots of seasonal color. Small steps!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday I'm in Love

I'm looking forward to a lazy weekend to gear up for a big week of travel. Some baseball, some gardening, some projects around the house... easy. What's on your weekend agenda?

Cutest girls ever.

I bookmarked this forever ago during my blogging hiatus, but I figured if it gives any of you half the pleasure it's given me since then, it's worth sharing. These girls slay me.

Funniest local blog ever.

 DC residents, have you seen this blog yet? I'm sure you have, given the horrified looks on my friends' faces last weekend when they realized I hadn't. At any rate, the When In DC tumblr is What is it about a good gif that just kills me?

Best cauliflower ever.

We're obsessed with this recipe. It's just... luscious. succulent. [enter your favorite sexy food word here]. Make it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How to Have a Messy House

Here's the "how-to" blog guide you've been waiting for, folks. Before I present my fine-tuned guide of "How to Have a Messy House in Four Simple Steps," take this to heart: there is no place for jealousy in blogland. I'd hate for you to feel worse about your own abode based on this post alone, or that your life is imperfect compared to my shiny existence. To each her own, I say! And take heart: I'm sure that every day, in your own small ways, you're trying your best to live the messy lifestyle, too. Now on to the life coaching....!

Step 1: Empty Boxes

Keep up your online ordering, but do not, under any circumstances, break down and throw out those boxes! Don't consolidate them either - a sprinkling of empty boxes in every room is ideal. Tell yourself the trash guys routinely, inexplicably reject cardboard anyway, so you'll "deal with it later." Trip over the boxes frequently. Create a kingdom of cardboard for your cats. Tell yourself that as long as the boxes are empty, you can't be classified as a hoarder. Have the perfect box to wrap up a gift three times a year, and tell yourself that it's all worth it. Repeat.

Step 2: Suitcases

When you come home from a trip, do not unpack those suitcases! By leaving suitcases in the middle of the floor with clothes in them, you're actually saving yourself time the next time you have to pack. Duh! It's also nice to forget you have clothes inside and then open them and feel like you just went shopping. If you must remove the suitcase from the middle of your floor, there's a minimum one-month time period to fully unpack the suitcase, and another month to take the suitcase down to the basement. If you must.
(Apologies: photo taken yesterday after suitcases left their true home of the bedroom floor for their temporary home of the basement. Large suitcase used in March.)

Step 3: Clothes

Twice a year, you might embark upon a "seasonal clothing exchange" if you're lacking closet and drawer space, wherein you'll switch out sweaters for summer dresses, etc. Try to leave your seasonal clothing bins on the floor for as long as possible. Really you're living for all four seasons in your bedroom at all times, while the basement closets are empty. Ideally, you will begin to pile laundry on top of said bins so they become completely useless. Run into them and strain your back when leaning over them in order to open the windows. Rewash the clothes on top due to their "cat nesting" existence, but pile them right up again.

Step 4: Newspapers

Due to DC's side-eye at loose newspapers in the recycling can, you'll never have enough plain paper bags in which to pack your old newspapers for trash day. Embrace it. Let those papers pile right up until they touch the bottom of the console table. Allow them to tip over and spill into the floor. Try putting them in plastic and have them rejected by the recycling authorities. See them rip small paper bags all over the sidewalk in front of your house. (You're probably wearing pajamas when this happens, by the way.) Decide you could start a microfiche business. Remember that no one uses microfiche anymore. Dig out that food section from two months ago that had a recipe you forgot to clip. Feel superior that you hung onto said paper so you could clip said recipe. Embrace your old-school awesomeness.

You're Welcome.
That's it, folks - four simple steps to a joyously messy home! I look forward to hearing how this post inspired you. Send photos!


Monday, May 14, 2012

Back in the saddle

When the habit of blogging is broken, it can be so hard to jump back into it. The pressure to compose something worthwhile is greater than the pressure to say anything at all. A reprehensible marriage amendment has to pass before I'm compelled to pick up the blogging pen. It's a bad cycle. So this is me trying to recapture the habit, with odds and ends from my corner of the world and without artful composition. You'll notice that I'm sharing some of this news woefully late... so it is:

  • Black Wings Won! You'll remember the Austrian hockey team we fell for over the holidays, due in part to our relation to the goalie, but also, you know... because they rock? They won the Austrian League Championship! We couldn't be happier for Alex, who finally won a championship after 13 years as a pro, and for T's sister Avery, who's the most badass hockey wife ever. Linz ist Meister!!!! #32!!

  • I'm going to be an aunt again! Shortly after their wedding in September, my brother and sister-in-law announced that they were expecting! My nephew will join big sister Taylor in late June, and we couldn't be more thrilled for them.

  • Prom. My cousins rocked the prom in their dresses we shopped for until our feet fell off. Rocked it.

  • We have roses. Lots of them. I didn't like these roses last year, but that's because they didn't grow like this. We just planted a slew of new stuff, too. Updates coming soon... really.

  • Wedding shoes, at long last. Nearly three years later, I finally had a chance to wear my wedding shoes again, at the wedding of one of my favorite DC couples. So many memories represented by that red satin... I really should've worn them years ago. (Rare awkward photo of T = cutting his head off on purpose)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tick tock, North Carolina

Before yesterday, North Carolina was the last Southern state without a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Before today, I also believed North Carolina was the last Southern state to secede from the Union. I just google-checked my memory and discovered that Tennessee actually seceded a week after my home state did. There goes a youthful assurance, a little piece of why I've always loved home. (Google: killing dreams since 1998.)

The truth of the matter, though, is that what matters more than when. North Carolina did secede from the Union. North Carolina now does have a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Last night was a deja vu moment for me. I saw myself driving my high school car (a hand-me down from my grandmother), with its "Jesse Helms Doesn't Speak For Me" bumper sticker on the back. I'd found it at a little bookstore in Chapel Hill that offered a discount if you could name a historical event that happened on the year they pulled out of a hat. Any nerd like me knows that the French Revolution began in 1789, so my bumper sticker cost me practically nothing. It wasn't the only lefty bumper sticker in my high school parking lot, either. We were in the Triangle of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill after all, a dynamic region for research, universities, and industry. (The marriage amendment lost 4-to-1 in the Triangle last night, for perspective.) But back then in the 1990s, gun racks still outnumbered peace sign decals. We liked to show our stripes.

Those stripes are everywhere, if you're looking for them. The problem with making assumptions about any "red" state is that it ignores not only the pockets of blue, but the legions of people working hard to change the tide in their surroundings. There's a particular kind of state pride among those who love their state despite their state, who have a seasoned respect that's deeper and more honest than sheer boosterism. Making blanket statements about regions does so at the expense of the folks working hard there to make a difference, and it's something I take personally. Change is slow, and it starts small. Bumper stickers matter. But more than that, so do conversations on front porches, at the neighborhood park, in churches, in the checkout line. This small, steady change is happening all over the South. It's why some of my favorite people are progressive women from Texas. It's why North Carolina voted for Obama in 2008. It's why my teenage cousin half my age just went to her junior prom in NC with her girlfriend, and no one raised an eyebrow.

That same cousin's Facebook status yesterday was "And we keep fighting... and we keep going," said with all the assurance of a seasoned community organizer. She knows that time is on her side. We all do. While headlines are made about irrational amendments being passed, my family and friends at home, some of whom are gay, are trying to go about their lives just as they did yesterday. They're talking with their neighbors, raising families, and adding value to their communities. Their hearts are hurting, but they know the clock is ticking. The bravery in their hearts is the best thing I know. The second-best is the dedication of those on the ground already trying to peel this thing back, already laying the groundwork for how progress will reassert itself.

Tick tock, North Carolina. The march of progress has never left you behind completely, and it won't now, either. You're too beautiful to be shadowed by hate, too smart to be labeled something you're not. Time will tell.
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