10 fun things about being married

At the Rainbow Room on our anniversary.Today is my second anniversary, and although I’m spending it mostly at work, in the car and in my doctor’s waiting room, I’m also spending it thinking about the great guy I married and how lucky I am. In his honor (and mine), a quick top ten list for us both.

10 Fun Things About Being Married (at least, for us)

  1. Sleeping company. I know a lot of people disagree, but I like having someone else around to sleep with at night. Yeah, it means sharing the bed and the covers and so on. But it also means someone else for the cats to walk over, someone else to turn to and say, “Did you hear that?!” when there’s a weird noise at 3 AM, someone else to ignore the telemarketers that call too early, someone else to talk to when you can’t sleep. I like the company.
  2. Team Kamsler. I may be right and I may be crazy, but either way I’ve got someone who’s promised to be always on my side, right or wrong, no matter what. And I like being part of his team, too.
  3. Feline management assistance. I’ve been outnumbered by Fred and George for years and finally I’ve got someone else to perform minion duty with me. Fred is pleased that our deplorable lack of adequate staff has finally been addressed.
  4. In sickness and in health. It stinks that I get more out of this than Dave does, but then again, I’m glad he’s healthier for his sake, not just mine. We’ve all been there — sick as a dog and miserable, wondering if you can make it to Walgreens for Dayquil or if you might pass out on the way. Now there’s someone to make sure I don’t drown in my own sodden tissues.
  5. Instant Comedy Duo. Dave and I always appreciated each other’s sense of humor, but we’ve got our just-us act down now. It’s like Laurel & Hardy times a million. Secret one-word in-jokes, Friends quotes, and a shared eye roll make the world a funnier place, for just the two of us.
  6. Heavy lifting. I can’t pick up anything that weighs more than a flea anymore, but even without back limitations, there’s some stuff I wouldn’t have been able to budge. Enter SuperHusband, who can lift many groceries with a single arm. Most impressive.
  7. Way Up High. Similarly, speaking on behalf of said husband, he gets the benefit of my being tall. There isn’t a shelf I can’t reach.
  8. Partner in Crime. Dieting, exercising, shopping, it’s all easy together. Unfortunately so is cheating on the diet and being slothful.
  9. Division of Labor. I’m really good at doing laundry, and (weirdly, I know) I actually like doing it. Dave volunteered to be the one who cleans the bathroom and has an (unnatural, in my opinion) obsession with his new vacuum cleaner.
  10. Warm Units. I was even promised them in the vows. My feet are ALWAYS cold at night, and Dave is apparently a human furnace. Who needs socks? 🙂

So happy anniversary to my very best friend and favorite person in the world. 🙂 You are awesome, and we’re awesomer together.

this is 41

The other day my good friend Rose posted a link to a blog post titled, “This is 45,” written by Emily Mendell. A great deal of it hit home with me, despite my being a few years short. I’ll be 42 this year, I just realized, and Dave confirmed. My inability to keep track of my age makes him laugh, but it makes me happy, too, because the numbers have stopped mattering.

You begin to realize that granting yourself permission to just “be” is one of the hardest things you will ever attempt.

That’s true. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve spent all of my life trying to be something: smarter, thinner, prettier, more successful, richer, better liked. And there’s nothing wrong with any of those pursuits. I worked hard at them. Right now, though, I’m learning that it’s a lot harder to stop trying to be something I can’t. There are some aspects of my health that I can’t control, and I have to let myself be what I am. And in general, I have to love myself the way I am, even if it isn’t as good as I want to be. It helps to have a very wonderful man who says he loves me just the way I am; it really does. There are times I still struggle. I second-guess decisions I made years ago, I berate myself for bad choices. I agonize over decisions already made. But as Ms. Mendell says, there’s also a certain acceptance I have now, that this is the way life is, and that it’s okay.

I hope it’s also helped me to be more accepting of the world around me. If there’s one thing I know I’ve said more in my forties than I did in any other decade, it’s, “I don’t understand why you’re choosing to do that, but I accept it.” Friends, family, people we know — we can have opinions about what they do, of course, we can’t help it, if we care about them at all. But we can’t make their decisions for them, right or wrong. I hope that I’ve learned to simply accept that with or without my approval, people will choose to spend their lives a certain way. I won’t always agree, but I can respect their decision.

Acceptance doesn’t mean being a doormat, though.

At 45 your tolerance for mean people hits rock bottom. Life is too short to spend any energy on bullies. They are easier to eliminate from your life, while also easier to understand. You can’t help but pity people who hurt so much they have to make others feel badly, but you are smart enough to do so from a distance.

It’s true that I can understand, now, why someone is hurtful more so than I would have as a younger person. I know how hard the world is, and I know there a lot of people walking around in pain every day, inside and out. Sometimes I can see just how they got the way they are, and sometimes I can feel sympathy, or pity, but all the understanding in the world isn’t a good enough reason to stay around a person, a situation, that is toxic to me. And when I realize someone can’t seem to help but hurt anyone around them, I finally know enough to stay away.

It’s like the part of the Serenity Prayer that everyone knows says: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” The prayer goes on to talk about a pathway to peace and learning to be reasonably happy in this life, and that’s what I think being 41, or 45, is about — finding your way there.

Quietly folding laundry on a chilly Sunday afternoon as your family happily co-exists in this home you have built together trumps pretty much everything.

Now, that sounds exactly right. Those moments are well worth whatever it took for me to get here, new gray hairs, tiny wrinkles, forty-two candles and all.

****

(please read Ms. Mendell’s original blog post, as I have only quoted several of the truisms she provided and the full piece is well worth your time.)

sea ya real soon

I cried when we left for our honeymoon (I hate leaving the cats). I cried when it was over. Apparently, I cry at endings and goodbyes of any kind. And ending our honeymoon was sad, because it was really wonderful.

IMG_0038I’ve never been on a cruise ship of any kind before, or been to the Caribbean, or even been to Florida. This trip would’ve been a big deal for all of those “firsts”, but this was the honeymoon we’d been planning for over a year, cruising on the Disney Fantasy to the Eastern Caribbean islands. Dave and I were so excited. We flew down the day before and stayed at the Hyatt at the Orlando Airport, which is weird but convenient. In the morning we took the Magical Express to the cruise terminal, and soon we were off.

My cousin Lori gave us Bride Minnie and Groom Mickey hats for a shower gift and we wore these on the first day of the cruise… and it felt like EVERYONE on the boat knew us, as a result. People were so nice and congratulated us all week long, and the crew, of course, made sure we got special treatment and enjoyed every minute of our honeymoon. And hey, a couple we met even got engaged on the cruise (congrats, Brittany & Doug!), so there must have been something romantic in the air all around.

DSCN5531Our stateroom was terrific. Pretty roomy for a cruise ship, comfortable, a veranda to look out, and a nice stateroom attendant to tidy everything up twice a day. I didn’t make a bed, do laundry, cook or wash a dish all week. It was so relaxing. And as for the food, the entire week was fine dining every night. Disney does something called rotational dining, so you eat in different onboard restaurants every night, but your servers go with you. Our servers were Sasa and Gede. Dave warned me that by the end of the week you feel sad having to leave them, and he’s right — I got all weepy. They take such good care of you and make it all a little home away from home. I’m never good with hotels — I get creeped out even in nice ones, thinking about all the people who’ve stayed there, some sad and alone, it gets me depressed. But the ship was warm and friendly and just like living in our own little floating neighborhood.

DCL1My favorite restaurant on the Fantasy is “Enchanted Garden”. Ever since we started planning the trip, I wanted to sit in one of the few banquette “teacups” in the front of the room. I assume these are usually reserved for VIPs or concierge-level guests, but Dave had put in a request for one since it was our honeymoon, and Disney accommodated us — so we got to sit in our “teacup” every time we dined there. So nice! I also liked “Royal Court”, and especially because our night there happened to coincide with the ship’s formal night. Any reason to wear my wedding tiara again is much appreciated.

There was a lot to do on the ship. We saw characters — princesses, Donald, Mickey and Woody from Toy Story:

DCL2

I hugged him and told him I’d seen all his movies.

We went to a drawing lesson, saw several live shows, went to the movies, watched football in the sports pub. Disney Cruise Line has the only fireworks at sea, and we had a great seat for the show on Pirate Night. Dave rode the Aquaduck:

and we did very little shopping, aside from a souvenir or two, but we had fun window-shopping in the stores. I did break my “no more stuffed animals” rule, but just this once. It was a special occasion, after all.

IMG_1946We spent a lot of time at the pool. The “Quiet Cove” adult pool was always heated and comfortable and never really too crowded; it’s empty in this picture but some days, especially the at-sea ones, were a lot busier, but it was always friendly and fun. I confess I may have enjoyed it more than some for another reason: the center area was 5 feet, 5 inches deep… too much for a lot of folks to linger in, but just fine for 5’10” me. Being tall sometimes helps.

IMG_1955We also very much enjoyed our stop at St. Thomas. We took an excursion on a catamaran sail to the aptly-named Honeymoon Beach on St. John, and it was a lot of fun. The weather was perfect and the sailing was every bit as fun as I hoped it would be. The beach was clean and blue and white. Dave snorkeled and I played in the waves until it was time to sail back to the ship. Beautiful day.

All in all it was everything we could have possibly wished for in a honeymoon. At the end of the week, I was thrilled to be going back home to my kitties, but sadder than I could have imagined to say goodbye to our new floating home. Mickey doesn’t say good-bye, though: he just says “Sea Ya Real Soon”, so that’s how we’ll leave it… until our next cruise, whenever that is. (Next time, Alaska!)

year in review: 2013

So I’m a sucker for quizzes, surveys, memes, all that stuff. I think these are usually more fun to do than they are to read, though — so you should feel free to just skim my answers and do your own, if you like. If you do read, though, I warn that there may be some snark along the way. That’s my traditional new year’s gift.

Year in Review: A 2013 Survey

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Well, I got married, which I definitely have not done before, to the best of my knowledge.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Yes, and no. I made a resolution to stick to a particular diet plan and I did stick to it; it wasn’t successful, but that’s not the fault of my willpower. I don’t think I’m going to make any for 2014. Lower expectations, greater rewards, and all that.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not yet, and probably not by the end of the year, but soon. 🙂

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not really. My grandmother died this year, but in truth we were not close. I am sorry for the family members who were close to her, though.

5. What places did you visit?

The Finger Lakes, Niagara Falls, and, of course, Long Island, a lot. Though it doesn’t count as visiting anymore.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

Nothing. I just want to keep everything I have now.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched in your memory, and why?

I think I’ll remember our wedding date, November 9, pretty much forever.  But there’s also October 26, which is the day Dave came to Buffalo and we stopped being apart. That was the best day of all, really.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Making it to October 26.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Weight loss. I tried a new method and it didn’t work for me. I’m disappointed to have not made any real progress this year. I’ll keep trying some other way, but I had high hopes for this.

10: Did you suffer illness or injury?

Unfortunately, as has been the case the past couple of years, I still struggle with my back. Recovering from surgery was long and hard, and only partially successful. Not to sound corny, but if you have good health, value it. I feel I didn’t do that enough, before.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Last month I bought an iPad mini (and sold the 1st-gen iPad I bought way back in the day in 2010) and I’m really thrilled with it. Steve Jobs was thoroughly opposed to a smaller iPad; in general I think he was a true genius and Apple will never innovate as it did under his direction again, but I think he might have been wrong about this one. The mid-size between an iPhone and a full iPad is perfect, at least for me.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My niece Rebecca makes both Dave and I incredibly proud just to be related to her. She’s awesome.

13. Whose behavior was not so exemplary?

Georgie is a bad, bad kitty, and he knocks things over all the time for no reason at all. I still love him, though.

14. Where did most of your money go?

FredCo’s offshore accounts. Also, rent and moving. And a wedding.

15. What did you get really excited about?

Well, the wedding. Also, in no particular order, bingo, marriage equality, Catching Fire, and spaghetti parm.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

Probably Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a. happier or sadder? Happier.
b. thinner or fatter? I think almost exactly the same.
c. richer or poorer? Well, I’m unemployed now.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

At home, with the kitties, our tree, and cheeseburgers.

19. Did you fall in love in 2013?

From now on, I fall in love every year.

20. What was your favorite TV program?

How I Met Your Mother. But we also love Modern Family. In a surprise move, I’ve also gone back to both Glee and Top Chef.

21. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate at this time last year?

I hate all the same people I did before, plus our downstairs neighbor, who once complained about the noise we were making when we were out of town.

22. What was the best book you read?

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I didn’t read a ton this year, though I started a lot of books I never finished.

23. What did you want and get?

A husband. Also, a Supreme Court ruling (two of them actually).

24. What did you want and not get?

Marriage equality everywhere. A cure for AIDS. A totally non-broken back.

25. What was your favorite film of this year?

Catching Fire

26. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

Dave says I was 41 this year (I never remember). We were in the Finger Lakes at our favorite bed and breakfast, The Hayward House.

27. Which celebrity/public figure did you admire the most?

I don’t think about celebrities much. But I like Sir Patrick Stewart, and not just for his ability to moo with different accents.

28. Whom did you miss?

I missed Mom a lot this year.

29. Who was the best new person you met?

Michael & Mindy Shedler, Dave’s former and sometimes boss and his wife, who came to our wedding as well. Also Uncle Norman and Aunt Jane, and a lot of other new relatives.

30. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

From the Goo Goo Dolls, “Come to Me”

Today’s the day I’ll make you mine
So get me to the church on time
Take my hand in this empty room
You’re my girl, and I’m your groom

Come to me my sweetest friend
Can you feel my heart again
Take you back where you belong
This will be our favorite song
Come to me with secrets bare
I’ll love you more so don’t be scared
When we’re old and near the end
We’ll go home and start again

the name game

I was more than eager to change my name when I got married, for reasons that anyone who knows me would understand. And having worked in the Clerk’s office these past few years, I know just what the procedure is: get your marriage certificate from the clerk and take that to Social Security, then the DMV, and then change it everyone else. Simple, right Not exactly. And the weirdest part is that the places we thought would be the most hassle weren’t, and in reverse, some places that shouldn’t have blinked were the worst.

US-PassportcoverMost important for us was getting my passport changed. Our cruise isn’t until January and we wanted to book everything in my new name, so I’d need an updated passport. I worried about that a lot — how long would it take, should we pay for the super-fast service, or just expedite it, would it come back quickly. Well, bravo, State Department, because it was a breeze. I made a short appointment at the Post Office, got new pics and mailed everything out, and I had my newly-minted document back in my hands about two weeks later. We were even able to track the progress while it was processing. Nicely done, federal government.

I’ll give credit to the feds for Social Security as well, though sitting in that office waiting for my turn was like a page out of Sartre’s “No Exit”. New York State, however, gets a slightly lower rating. Some of my endeavors at the DMV were fine — new license, new registration. Getting a new title apparently involves making the paper it’s printed on from scratch. And your “EZ Pass” program was a little too persnickety about documentation for changing my last name on something that’s linked to a device velcroed to my window.

PayPal was not a walk in the park and took two tries uploading scans of my forms. But every other site was simple — Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Google, it was just a matter of typing in the change. Apparently I could tell the Internet my name is Toni Princess Consuela Bananahammock and that would be fine.

Now, credit cards were a very mixed bag. One of them wished me to have a magical-kingdom-nice-day and did it in a flash, no questions asked. A certain clothing store’s card did the same, and I think sent me a 30% off coupon just ’cause in the process. With Bank of America, I went into my branch and was able to take care of my accounts there easily enough — but the credit card officer we had to call wanted me to go into a bank to process my request, which he said to me as I was calling him from a bank. Any of that pales compared to American Express — my favorite credit card (JetBlue miles!) and usually a wonderful company to deal with, but in this instance a monster-filled nightmare. I filled out forms and uploaded documents. I waited. I called to see what the problem was; I was told there was no problem, so I waited. I called again and was told all my submitted documents were illegible. I had an unpleasant conversation with a customer service person who didn’t understand what a PDF was. I submitted again. Those were also not acceptable. I had my new husband craft a lovely, CPA-ish letter that said, “Get this fixed and send my wife her AmEx card ASAP”, and it arrived FedEx a day later. (That right there? That’s why I married him. ) So go figure.

If I had it to do over I wouldn’t be so blithe, but it’s all done now, and I am who I am, both in paper and in plastic.