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:

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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

movin’ on up

wheelmudSo, we’re here. On Long Island, and home. As I write this, Dave is finishing up one of our last tasks, hooking up the TV in the living room, and with that, we’ll have everything almost set. Not too bad, right? Less than two weeks later and we’re done with the move and everything. Did it all go off without a hitch? Not exactly, but in the end it all worked out.

The morning after our wedding, tired and headachy from a hotel room with the worst ventilation ever, we said goodbye to a lot of people: out of town guests traveling back home, friends hitting the road, people from home I would be leaving in a few days. And I did not handle it well. The excitement of the wedding, I think, kept me from thinking too hard about the fact that I was moving away from everything I know. There were a lot of tears.

Also a lot of manual labor. There was still some packing and cleaning to do, and on Monday, a giant U-Haul truck to load. That eventually went really smoothly, but not before we drove it back from the rental site, pulled up to the house… and promptly got really stuck in the mud. And when you get an enormous 26′ moving truck stuck in the mud, even a little, there’s really no simple rock-back-and-forth solution. The more you try that, the worse it gets. You’re stuck. I mean, we had a trained archaeologist on hand, and even she couldn’t dig us out (thanks for trying, though, Jen!). But an hour or so of panic, a tow from a slightly smaller U-Haul truck later, and we were back in business. Everything got loaded up and the guys hit the road, and Dave and I spent one last night in an empty house, said goodbye to some good friends, and got up Tuesday morning and left, kitties in their carriers, car loaded to the gills.

IMG_1805It wasn’t that bad of a drive. The cats didn’t like it, and didn’t eat or use their litter box, or drink anything other than a few drops of milk, but they were calm the whole ride. And we made decent time, and kept each other company. It was okay. We arrived home in Smithtown in one piece, home to a house already full of furniture and boxes, thanks to our amazing family and friends who’d unloaded the truck, and a nice welcome home surprise from my new mother-in-law.

IMG_1818The days since have been busy. We’ve taken some breaks here and there, but I think we both felt the sooner we could get rid of the boxes and get everything set up, the better. We went room by room and got it all done, including moving in The Couch That Almost Wasn’t — if it wasn’t for a terrific new neighbor, that couch would either still be stuck in the hallway, or gone in sawed-apart pieces.

The cats in particular have calmed down a lot now that the boxes are gone. I strongly suspect they don’t know the difference between packing and unpacking, and this has just been a continuation of the disarray their life has been for a month. Georgie is very okay now, exploring and playing all the time. He’s a little too excited and won’t settle down to snuggle, but he will eventually. Freddie has taken a little more time. Spatial relations have never been his strong suit, and there have been times he’s forgotten how to find his water bowl, or even me. But he loves his fireplace, just like I knew he would.

And me? I’m okay. I’m happy, of course. I waited for this day to come for a long time. I love our new home, and I love Dave, and everything is good. But if I’m telling the truth, I’m a lot more homesick than I thought I’d be. I miss everyone. I miss everything. I keep picturing my room in my house, my yard, my driveway. My ride to work. My neighborhood, my stores, my familiar places. It’s not anything against here, but I find myself wishing I could just do the aisles at the NF Boulevard Wegmans, go to bingo, and then come back home here again. And I wish I could do that whenever, and not once in a long while. I love the changes I made, and I love it here, but I miss the things and the people I had to leave behind, maybe a little more than I’d planned on.

the perfect day

IMG_1802The past week or so has been a whirlwind. We got married, we packed up my house, we drove across the state and now we’re here, in our home in Smithtown. It feels like we haven’t stopped moving the whole time but it’s all been wonderful, even the crazy parts.

bus

The bus to take everyone to our rehearsal dinner at Chef’s, Friday night.

We got engaged at Thanksgiving 2011, so this wedding was almost two years in the planning. And — if I do say so myself — it showed. Everything turned out exactly as we wanted it to, as we’d imagined it would, as we’d hoped, all that time. I have to admit, though, that just having everyone in our wedding party there with us made us happy; we knew that no matter what else happened we’d be celebrating that day with the people who mean the most to us, and nothing else mattered. I hope they all had as much fun as we did.

IMG_1799

Just finished getting hair and makeup done at Salon 716.

For me, it was all a bit of the blur they say it’s going to be; Dave says it wasn’t like that for him, but I kept having to remind myself this was really it, that we weren’t just planning anymore. The first part of the day was a little surreal. I got to spend some downtime in my bridal ready room with Paula, until it was time to get dressed and go down… and that’s when it hit me that I was getting married right then. It was happening, and soon. In the meantime, we took pictures, we laughed, I cried for not the last time that day, and then we went over to wait for the ceremony to begin. I may be biased, but I think it was fun and beautiful and amazing. I cried a bit more, which everyone tells me is normal, but my nose was running too, which is icky — they never talk about corollary issues in the movies, you know?

drunktank

From the Bridesmaid Drunk Tank, pre-ceremony. They claim they weren’t drinking yet, but I’m very dubious.

After a cocktail hour that I think was pretty hopping — tons of food, drink and socializing — we were introduced for our reception, our first dance, and cutting the cake. Despite an earlier Magic 8-Ball prediction, no one fell the whole night, whoo hoo! There was yummy turkey dinner, not that I could eat more than a few bites (Scarlett O’Hara wasn’t kidding; you can’t eat much in those corsets), and then lots and lots and lots of dancing. I had all the fun I could, no matter how tired I got, or how much my leg hurt after awhile. You only get married once, and I wanted to enjoy every minute, so I did.

So did a lot of the rest of you, apparently, I might add. Greg, you clearly have a career as a professional wedding dancer waiting for you, any time. My new mother-in-law, Estelle, was out there with you, tearing up the dance floor, as was Stephen, Fiona, and just about everyone else there. Paula did a mean MC Hammer that was legen — wait for it — dary. The show-stopper award has to go to Jake Oztan, though, for his impromptu Gangnam Style:

IMG_1816

Can you spot Fred & George on the cake?

We put on a great wedding, but not without some help. The Millennium Hotel has exceptional event staff, Michael and Ron especially, and our photographer, Glena Photography, gets our highest recommendation. We have only the most wonderful memories, now, because of them both — for providing such an amazing venue and for documenting our day, all so perfectly. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

At the end of the night, the remaining stragglers sang along to “I Got You Babe” with us and thus ended the most well-planned, happiest day of my life… so far. When you’re married to a guy like Dave, someone this terrific, after all, there are bound to be lots more wonderful days to come.

thank you, JetBlue

In April of this year, Dave booked his ticket to fly to Buffalo on October 26, for our wedding two weeks later. That’s the day I’ve been counting down to and it’s here and I couldn’t be happier — and I’d like to thank JetBlue for a favor that made our day just a little more special.

Jet_BlueSince this would be Dave’s last flight to me, I wanted to do something special for him. So I wrote JetBlue an email and explained everything to them — our back-and-forth long distance relationship, all three+ years of it, with all but a bare few of those flights on JetBlue. I told them how I’d learned the specifications of the aircraft that make the NYC/Buffalo run, and that my favorite seat was 3A and then all of Dave’s favorite things about flying with them (DirecTV!). I told them about our last flight to each other and asked if they could do something for him, just a little gesture. And they responded very courteously and said they would do their best — they can’t guarantee anything, due to other priorities, but they really do everything they can.

And it worked! Before takeoff, the pilot came and said hello (his name was Dave too!) and asked if this was a special flight, and if Dave was getting married. Dave was surprised at being asked and said yes (he texted me, “Did you call JB?!” and I admitted I had) and they chatted a bit. And that was great in itself, but that was just the start — then as they were taxiing, they congratulated Dave in the in-flight announcement before takeoff, told everyone on the plane, people clapped, Dave got lots of congratulations, and, I hope, felt special and wonderful, which he is.

So thanks, JetBlue. I mean it. I didn’t ask for much but that didn’t mean you had to do anything, and you came through in a very nice, big way. Very classy, and very appreciated. 🙂

the last countdown

countdownSo I’ve been counting down to our wedding day for months, sometimes posting about it on Facebook. Eight months to go, five months… one month. But I’ve had a secret the whole time: it’s a fake-out. Oh, the wedding is really on November 9, don’t be silly. But that isn’t the day I’m really anxious for. Secretly, I’ve been aiming a few weeks earlier, for this Saturday, for October 26. That’s the day Dave comes here and then doesn’t go away. At least, not without me.

It’s been three years and about four months since we got together — wonderful times, of course, but also years of goodbyes and counting the days until we see each other again, occasional time zone difficulties and calls, texts, Skype and email. I’ve cried in an airport, at last count, sixty-four times. Every minute we’re together is wonderful and every minute we spend apart I’m looking forward to the next time. And it’s finally done. No more picking him up at the airport and trying not to think about how I’ll be right back there in a few days, dropping him off. No more planning visits. No more goodbyes.

Obviously, we’ll be apart sometimes. Dave still loves Vegas, and I still like to see my friends, and we’ll do things apart, sometimes for a stretch of days. So yes, there’ll be airports and goodbyes in our future, but it’s not the same. Not at all. We won’t ever be leaving each other just to go back to separate homes anymore. From now on, my home will be his home, and his home will be mine, and that’s the place we’ll both always be coming back to, wherever we go. It’s been such a long time coming but we’re finally here, and I couldn’t be happier. So no more countdowns for me, after this weekend. We’re going to have a lovely wedding, but I’ll already have the one thing I’ve wanted all this time.

it’s just my turn

My wedding is four weeks away. I’m 41 years old, and I’ve been waiting for this for quite a few of those years. So I’m not going to apologize for being excited, anxious, or even a little wedding-obsessed. I’m no bridezilla, but it is my turn.

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It took a long time to find the right guy. I didn’t kiss a lot of frogs, per se — I just waited, hoping he was out there, but not willing to settle if he wasn’t. And Dave is more wonderful than anything I could have imagined, and worth all of that wait. And then some. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a little lonely sometimes.

I’ve never begrudged my friends or my family their turns. I’ve been genuinely happy for each of them as they found love, got married, had kids, did whatever it was that made them happy. I’ve been to their showers and weddings and christenings with a glad heart, and truly wished them well. But you hit a certain age, where the showers all turn to weddings, and those turn to christenings, and then it’s the birthday parties, and then graduations… and you’re still soldiering on, on your own. Thinking, I don’t want to be greedy or ask for too much, but I wish I wasn’t always the one attending. At some point, just once at least, I’d like to be the one celebrating.

So it’s my turn. Just this one day, me and Dave. And after that we’ll go to christenings and graduations and other weddings, just as glad for our friends and family as we were before. Just doing it together, which makes all the difference.

my big poofy dress

Princess_Diana_wedding_dress

Once upon a time, she had it all — the tiara, the veil, the big poofy dress and the half-the-cathedral-length train. It didn’t end very well, but that day she had  every little girl’s dream of a princess wedding.

Not mine, though. In all honesty, I never had that dream. I didn’t have visions of a big ol’ wedding or a big day. I was a little too focused on the thought that I didn’t think I’d ever find a guy wonderful enough to stand next to, or that would want to stand next to me, on that big day. Lucky me, I have that now, and the veil, and even the tiara. And, yes, a big poofy dress.

Now, it’s not quite this poofy, of course. And the train isn’t that long, either, thank goodness. But it’s a lotta dress. It’s enormous. The train is too heavy to lift, and the bustle assembly resembles nothing so much as a shuttle launch. It’s got layers and layers of organza, pretty sparkly beading, and lace. The skirt moves like a cloud, and I love it. Every single big poofy bit of it. It was the first dress I tried on, and most definitely the last wedding dress I’ll ever wear. It’s perfect, and better than any other dream I had.