The Cost of Constant Traveling

So that title up there, “The Cost of Constant Traveling,” is inspired from a song by a singer/songwriter I’m currently obsessed with named Chris Trapper. It’s been playing nearly constantly on my ipod but I was initially drawn to it by its title alone. Being on the road is a subject that Chris often writes about and there is probably no subject I know better than being On The Road.

I love that phrase: the cost of constant traveling. I know it intimately. The song makes me feel less alone about the pain of being On The Road. There are other people out there, silently suffering the Cost of Constant Traveling.

Silently indeed. These past few years On The Road have robbed me of my extroverted-ness… I’m almost positive of it. Years and years ago, I’d jump at the chance to talk to a stranger. In the line at the grocery store, I’d keep my head up, ready and willing to make eye contact with whomever was around me, hoping to chat about the weather or the awesome sale price on bell peppers or to playfully commiserate about check-writers. When I was on an airplane, most likely going home to visit my family, because really, that was the only travel I did, I’d be all about chatting with my seatmates discussing jobs and homelife and where we went to school once upon a time. In elevators, I’d look at my fellow ascenders (or descenders) and smile and comment on the wonderful service at the hotel reception desk.

Not now. I realized that in the past few years, my willingness to reach out to strangers and make personal connections, however deep or shallow, is almost gone. I think that’s what living in airports, rental cars and hotels will do to you. Or, at least, that’s what it’s done to me.

People who don’t quite “get” social networking often say to me, “I just don’t know how you have the time to be on twitter or facebook! I certainly don’t!”

It’s easy. You can find the time when you’re in an elevator with a matronly woman, her Vera Bradley slung over her shoulder and a grandmotherly smile plastered on her face. In my experience On The Road, I’ve learned this is exactly the type of woman who will strike up a convo in nearly any setting and when you’re the only other person in a painfully slooooow elevator, you are going to have to talk about mundane shit….. unless you have a pissed off look on your face and are staring at your iPhone as if the world’s very existence is dependent on your attention to your smartphone and looking away for even a second will result in the deaths of millions of kittens and boy scouts. She doesn’t know that you’re actually just checking your twitter feed for the twenty-seventh time that day, not even reading any new updates really cause you just checked it sixty seconds ago while waiting for the elevator, all in an effort to avoid conversing with a stranger. To her, you’re some sort of high powered executive doing a Very Important Job and it would be terrible to disturb, so she just keeps smiling. Smiling. SMILING until the elevator finally reaches the ninth floor and she gets out, confused about which way to turn to find her hotel room while the doors close and you release a quiet sigh as you put your phone back in your purse, proud that you successfully avoided The Strangers once again.

This is my life On The Road. My cost of constant traveling. This is me on the airplanes and in the lines at the airport and alone at the hotel bars. Doing anything to avoid human interaction. Put a screwed up, pissed-off grimace on your face and a smartphone in your hand and you’re suddenly invisible. It kind of makes me sad, though, that I do this. I haven’t always been that person. I used to be friendly, willing to make new friends and meet new people. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to meet new people. I just want to be with the people I already have at home but I can’t be because this is my job. To be On The Road.

My friendly disposition… It’s the cost of constant traveling.

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Love and Loss and What It Means To Me

I have a question. Is profound loss and the grief mixed with regret for not having appreciated the lost one fully a theme that runs through every book these days? Or am I just gravitating toward these? Perhaps this theme of not taking any loved one for granted is something that has occurred in most of the books I read but maybe I just never noticed?

As one part of my life comes to a close and I embark on another, I feel like I’m suddenly being overwhelmed with both fictional and factual stories of loss and profound, deep grief. Books like “Two Kisses for Maddie,” “The Shack,” and most recently “Little Bee,” which I’m currently in the midst of have all quietly knocked me to my knees as I read about the ripping of loved ones out of the fabrics of their lives.

In my thirty years, I have to say I’m quite lucky. I haven’t really experienced true, gut-wrenching grief or loss. I’ve had acquaintances pass away, my grandmother whom I was only a small bit close to, (entirely by my own early-teenaged fault… she tried, God bless her she tried. But at the age of 13, I was just too scared of old people and what that meant to me to let her in close to me. One of my only true regrets.) But I haven’t felt a loss that shakes you, that reverberates day in and out and becomes an underlying current in your day to day existence. I haven’t let that many people in, let them get that close to me. Maybe that’s how I’ve shielded myself the possibility of ever feeling these things.

But I’m about to commit myself to a man, give my life over to him. We will build a life together, we’ve already started to really, and we will do all the things that two adults in our world do when they join their lives together. We’ll eventually have children, God willing, and maybe those children will go on to have their own children. If we’re lucky, we’ll get to grow old together and watch our family grow and expand and impact the world, hopefully for the better.

Deep down, however, I am acutely aware that by letting Irish’s love into my life and mine into his, we aren’t just filling our lives with love and hope… we’re also guaranteeing grief, loss and pain at some point, whether it’s far in the future or just around the corner. Please don’t misunderstand me here… this awareness of loss and pain isn’t something that dominates my daily thoughts… it’s just a reality that occurred to me recently as I thought about the books I’ve been reading lately. Now that I look at the world through glasses that are tinted with the hope and love and optimism that accompanies a person on the brink of a major, happy life-change, these stories hit so much closer to my heart. Reading the account of a young man, madly in love with his wife who just gave birth to their first daughter before unexpectedly dying just 36 hours later in “Two Kisses For Maddie,” my thoughts are no longer “wow, how horrible for that man… but that will never happen to me.” Now the thoughts look a little more like “oh my God how do I not let that happen to me and my family?” Because I’m pretty sure that when Matt and Liz got married, they never in a billion years would’ve guessed that in just a few years their world would be gone. And one day, Irish and I will separate, hopefully only by death as we will vow to each other in just a few weeks. But that separation will be an utter heart-break for at least one of us. The wind will knock out of him or me, the world will become different. All because we accepted love and what is it they say? No love story has a happy ending? That’s pretty much it. There is always a heart break at the end of a love story… the variables are only the “when” and the “why.”

Maybe these tales of loss and love and grief have always been there in the books I read, but they didn’t quite mean anything real to me. They were just things that happened to other people, not me. But now I see my life starting to take a shape that resembles theirs and I think I’m realizing that I’m not that different from them. That’s what scares me. It’s not up to me whether I will join their club of loss.

Please don’t think I have regrets about falling in love. I have not a single regret. There is a warmth and a comfort there that I only previously felt in small bits, tastes really, which kept me in search of the whole thing. That whole encompassing, unconditional love that envelopes you and is just so hard to find. But when I look at it from an out-of-body thirty-five-thousand-foot perspective, it almost resembles the fabled deal with the devil that Robert Johnson took at the crossroads… exchanged his life, guaranteeing himself sorrow eventually, all for the wonderful pleasure of having extraordinary talent and whatever comes with it. That’s what we do when we fall in love…. we basically say “for the joy that having this person in my life will bring to me, I will take the painful sorrow when they eventually leave.” It’s a sacrifice of future happiness. And it takes my breath away when I realize that there is an extraordinary man out there, Irish, who is filled with joie de vivre and unadulterated happiness and he is giving it away–eventually–all so that I can be in his life. And I’m doing the same. That, my friends, is the incredible thing about love. You will gladly take the future pain and sorrow and heartbreak, because not having the love in the first place is worse. Wow.

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Ghost or Crazy Dude?

Now that I’m an almost-married chick, I have to say, the exciting, off-the-wall, unexpected, completely random moments with strangers are fewer and farther between. Mostly because I’m no longer putting myself in situations that spawn those type of interactions, and also because I’m not really looking for them anymore…

Which is why it is all the more surprising when weird, random things do happen.

For instance….

Right at this very moment, I’m sitting on the balcony of my hotel room in McAllen, TX (I came here for the evening to take a client to dinner)… It’s the Renaissance Hotel in McAllen which is the historic Casa de Palmas Hotel where Castro had a clandestine meeting with then-Mexican President Piro in January 1956. It’s a traditional Mexican style courtyard building where most of the rooms look out into a great pool/courtyard area… If you haven’t been here before, I highly recommend it… inexpensive and it feels like you a far away from home…  anyway… I digress…

The balconies are not completely private here. They have these walls that start tall near the doorways then slope down to about knee height at the outer railing overlooking the pool. This is important to the story. I hope you’re following me here.

I’m just sitting out here, drinking a very delicious margarita out of one of those awesome glasses where the stem is shaped like cactus. There are some people splashing around in the pool, flirting with each other, completely oblivious to people like me sitting on the porches watching their every move. I’ve got my computer in my lap, my feet up on the other chair and I’m giggling un-fucking-controllably to when just over the top of my computer, I notice a man standing on the balcony over looking over the railing. I don’t say a word to him, thinking “if I pretend not to see him maybe he won’t see me…”

But I was wrong.

He was looking out over the pool, when he turned back towards his room and noticed me…

“Oh my! I’m so sorry!” he exclaimed looking at me over the small railing. “I didn’t mean to disturb you!”

Now see… about four or five years ago, I would’ve jumped on this opportunity. A fairly handsome man initiating a conversation with me, in a hotel, cocktails in both our hands… well, that would’ve lead to pretty much one or two things. But things have changed with me. I’m not out looking for anything special. I have something special. So when I’m out on the road, I pretty much keep to myself… absorbed in my iPod, buried in a book or just a generally surly disposition to discourage any possible conversation from strangers. I just don’t want to be in that situation anymore.

But I was completely caught unawares. I am not used to being chatted up while sitting on my hotel balcony, silently engaged with my computer. But homeboy next door thought this would be a perfect opportunity.

“This is wierd. I’ve never been in this situation before,” he said quickly, indicating the small balcony wall separating us.

I was about to say something when..

“Oh by the way, great taste in computers.” he says. I wish there was a great adverb out there in the world that described how fast this man talked. But I cannot find one. Trust me. Every word coming out of his mouth is micro-machine-man fast. In the entire interaction between he and I, I might’ve said two dozen words max.

“Um… thanks…” I throw out.

“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to intrude. I just got back from doing a lecture and I’m completely wired and you’re just trying to enjoy a cocktail and do some work.” he apologizes.

“Well, not quite,” I’m far too honest. I should’ve taken the out. “I just got back from dinner with a client and now I’m amusing myself on”


“Have you ever seen this sight before?” I ask.

“No…” the slowest words to come out of his mouth all evening.

“Oh man, it’s awesome,” I’m suddenly enthusiastic. “Do you have an iPhone? Yes? Well, it’s just screenshots of funny mistaken corrections done by people’s iphones.”

Really, I’m not trying to engage the guy in conversation. I’m more incredulous that there are people out there that haven’t heard of this website before!

“Oh.” He seems unimpressed.

I go on to read him one, completely out of context, about sodomizing a cat or something. Perhaps that wasn’t an appropriate place to start. I see that he’s not getting it and I cut my losses.

“Well, you have to trust me. It’s hilarious.”

“Oh okay great. I see you’re having a margarita…” and he launches into this one-man show about his favorite cocktails and the fact that he’s Canadian and his favorite drink is a Cesar but they don’t have Caesars in the states the further south you go except they make a great caesar here and a lot of Americans think it’s like a bloody mary but it’s got clamato juice in it have you ever heard of clamato juice you really should try it it’s tomato juice and clam juice and the clam juice really just gives the drink the kick it needs and he ordered a vegetarian quesadilla from room serivce and ohmigod I think that’s it right there at the door.

He rushed back into his room and, whew, I thought I was clear. Oh but no I wasn’t.

“You know, before when I was talking to you,” he breathlessly said a few minutes later, “I wasn’t trying for anything back there. I see you’re married and I’m married so I’m not making any advances at you.”

I took this opportunity to actually speak. “Yes, thank you. I appreciate that. Yes, I am married.” I’m not but I’m close to it. And this dude didn’t need to know the paperwork wasn’t 100% official yet. Fuck, I was beginning to think I would need to tell him that my husband was actually in the room and about to come out shortly.

“And I just wanted to come out and give you something,” he said.

Oh my God I was mentally preparing myself for him to whip out his willy, a la crazy-sex-predator.

“I’m a writer, researcher and speaker and when I just went back into my room I felt bad for bothering you and I felt like I should give you something and I had these two dvds of mine and I felt like I should give you one—” he extends them out to me over the divider (which I have come to hate at this point). Reluctantly, I stand up and move toward him. A small part of my brain wonders if as I get closer, he’s going to stab me with a needle like Dexter does or chloroform my face and hurt me. The other part of me thinks I should just accept whatever crazy-ass gift he’s offering because maybe then he’ll go away.

He waves two discs at me. “I’m a speaker and I’ve made a couple documentaries about health and really I don’t know which one you should have so I guess I’ll leave it up to fate pick a hand.” Before I knew it, he put them both behind his back and made me pick.

“Um….” I was completely baffled by this entire exchange. Is this really fucking happening?? All I was doing was enjoying an authentic margarita on the balcony of my historic hotel room. “Um… left? I guess?”

He shoved at me the disc in his left hand. A documentary about healing cancer.

“Wow. I didn’t know which one to give you so I decided to leave it up to the universe because it has this way of deciding these things and I think you were totally meant to have this one not necessary because you have cancer or will get cancer but I believe that this will make a difference in your life–”

I was almost hyperventilating on this guys behalf because he hardly took a breath between thoughts, let alone a whole fucking pause.

“–and you know what is so interesting here are two people both married but we don’t even know each others names and theres just this tiny wall separating us so I’m going to leave my balcony door unlocked tonight and if you should want to you can come right in and nobody would need to know and we won’t even see each other again it’s just a perfect situation–”

Are you fucking kidding me?

“–and wow I think I scared you I’m sorry I’m that wierd guy you don’t know and now I’m propositioning you while you’re just trying to have a nice quiet night at a hotel. I’ll go back inside now.”

And just as soon as he appeared, he went back inside.

Dazed, literally, because I couldn’t process everything he had said, I sat back in the plastic chair and started writing this post. We might’ve hit a record because about ten minutes went by without a disturbance and I thought I was in the clear. I thought wrong.

“I’m sorry…” Jesus. He’s back. Fuck. “It must’ve seemed weird. I didn’t mean anything inappropriate about that before. Was it weird? Did I make you uncomfortable because if I did please tell me I just think that this situation is perfect because we are two strangers both traveling in a strange place and nobody knows us and we’re both leaving tomorrow and it seems like fate that you’re out here and there’s just this small wall and when I came out and saw you out here you just looked so comfortable and familiar and like someone it would be great to have fun with—”

At this point, my hackles are raised. I’m purposely displaying body language that says I’m increasingly uncomfortable with the conversation.

“So I’m sorry if I was inappropriate I didn’t mean to be I just wanted to thank you for introducing me to that auto correct website it actually made me laugh out loud and I haven’t laughed in years you see I’m a philosopher and I think I look at the world differently than other people–”

Holy fuck dude. Shut the fuck up.

“–so things aren’t as funny to me because things aren’t funny when you can predict the punchline right and that’s why this website is funny even though some of them are probably set ups but that’s fine it’s still a bit unexpected–”

By now, I’m just looking at this dude in complete wonder. For a philosopher, he’s completely oblivious to the fact that I am projecting ‘You Are A Lunatic’ vibes at him. Then he has to go an say something that piques my interest..

“–but this place just seems different like there are spirits here or something this hotel is out of a movie set and how great would it be for two strangers to meet at this movie set type hotel and have a rendez-vous… it just seem historic–”

“Well, yes, this is a historic sight,” I chime in. Fucking Grace. Shut up. Don’t engage in conversation!!

“Oh it is?” He asks.

I tell him about Castro and we talk briefly about the history of this region and how bloody it is. We talk about spirits and ghosts and then he launches into another breathless monologue…

“Again, I’m sorry about what I said earlier did it make you uncomfortable I can see if it did because how strange would that be if I snuck across this wall tonight and went into your room while you were asleep–”

Ok. Now I was just getting plain creeped out. I started to let him know this.

“–I’m just saying you’re the girl next door and I’m the stranger next door and it would just be something out of a movie is that creepy?”

“Yes. Yes it is. If I were you, I wouldn’t say that kind of thing to anyone else.” I firmly stated.

“–yes you’re right but I guess it’s not too creepy you don’t have security here or anything have you ever seen the movie serendipity because that is what I thought of when I first saw you it just felt serendipitous–

While he was talking, I felt something over my shoulder towards the door back into my room.

“–your door just opened.” He confirmed what I thought, completely reading my mind. Fucking ghosts. “are you expecting someone or are you alone–”


“–don’t answer that I shouldn’t have asked that’s inappropriate of me I’m sorry I wasn’t trying to scare you about your door I think it was probably just a vaccuum of air or something–”

Now I’m sitting here listening to this guy rail on about creepy as fate scenarios weighing the options: sit on the balcony, continue to be propositioned and then questioned about the proposition by the talkative Canadian or go inside with the ghosts?

I chose ghosts.

“and as I was saying…—”

“Um, I’m going inside. Thanks..”

“Watch the dvd. You were meant to have it. I’m not saying you’re going to get cancer but it will apply to you or someone close to you I firmly believe in it–”

“Okay, thanks.” I shut the door and lock it immediately. Now I’m tucked into my hotel room, with the drapes drawn tightly freaked the fuck out wondering if the reason the drapes are swaying are because of the ghosts or the creepy dude trying to get into my room via the balcony door.

This is going to be an awesome* nights sleep.


the lovely balcony where I was just trying to enjoy my night

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I’d like to make a formal complaint against the United States Post Office. They’ve fucked with me too many times and this last incident is just the last straw. Post Man, bring it on. It’s war.

Why is the USPS the target of my latest OCD-esque drama-filled tirade (both online and off)? Because they proved they don’t have any idea what the word “consistent” means.

The invitations to my wedding are completely untraditional. I did this on purpose because I wanted to go with something inexpensive but I didn’t want it to look cheap, and too many times, I’ve seen the low-dough versions of traditional wedding invites and they just look and feel low-dough to me. So I figured that if I went completely untraditional and inexpensive, nobody would even realize they cost me next to nothing!

Irish and I had CDs printed with the bare-bones information about our wedding and also included the website address to find out more info about the wedding and to rsvp. We burned a playlist of some of our favorite songs onto the cd and then we found these great so-called “Postage saver” cardboard cd mailers so that you don’t even have to put them in a jewel case… seriously inexpensive and totally unique.

The problem came when it came time to post-mark these fucking things.

I mailed myself a cd in one of these packages to see how much it would be. I threw two 44-cent stamps on and tossed it into the mail. I got it back a few days later without a problem, so I figured that it definitely wouldn’t take more than $.88 cents to mail the things out. I took one to the post office and, at the counter, I asked the really unhappy-with-life postal worker to weigh it to tell me exactly how much it would cost to mail it first-class mail. She weighed it and then told me it would be $1.71 to mail.


After I told her that I mailed one to myself for two .44 cent stamps, she in a tone that was both utterly apathetic while at the same time authoritative and annoyed, that I was wrong and it was a parcel so it would be $1.71. Well then how the fuck did I mail one to myself for $.88??

I wasn’t satisfied with her answer. So I walked my ass across the post office lobby to the automated postage machine. I followed all the instructions to the letter, I answered all the “is it over-sized” type questions truthfully and I put the envelope containing the cd on the scale. The machine told me it would require an $.84 stamp. I tried it again with slightly different answers to the size and shape questions and another quote came back to me for $.81. I was satisfied that the lady was wrong and that it would not be $1.71… after all, the machine had told me twice that it would be somewhere in the eighty-cent range and I had actually mailed one to myself for $.88. 

Being the cheeseball bride that I have become in the past few months, I surfed my ass right over to one of those custom stamp-making websites and designed some too-precious-for-words Chicago-themed stamps to go with our Chicago-themed wedding. And the postage I specified them to be worth? Eighty-four cents. My first mistake.

the offending, yet adorable custom stamps

Several weeks ahead of my decided date to send out the invites, I had them all packaged, addressed, sealed and stamped. I was the model of efficiency and preparedness. We had three invitations that would be sent via international mail, so I knew we were going to have to go to the counter at the post office to mail them, so we also brought up with us the box of domestic-destined invitations. It was the same bitchy, unhappy postal worker at the counter Monday when I brought everything in to finally get in the mail. My second mistake.

She got the three international pieces all set and ready for going out when she saw the box of the invitations we had, all stamped up and ready to go and she said, “That ain’t enough postage. Those are parcels. Not letters. I told you that last time.”

“No ma’am, they aren’t parcels. I mailed one to myself for $.88 and it got back to me. I weighed it on several machines, everything has come back as being in the eighty-cent range.” I doth protested.

“Well, okay. Whatever. We’ll see if they actually get to where they need to be,” she offered out as pissy as possible. We handed her the box of the stamped invitations, stupidly thinking she would just put them out for delivery. Mistake number three.

I was confident they would be fine. Irish wasn’t as much and his questions got me worried and for the next 48 hours, he and I wondered out loud if they would actually get there or if they would be returned to me.

Early the next day, I got my first text message from a friend in Philly who had received his invitation. To say I was relieved would be a complete understatement. Then I got the next text message…. “But it said there was insufficient postage and it was actually supposed to be $.87 instead of $.84.” 


Over the next few hours, reports from friends across the country rolled in.. some got notes saying they needed to pick up the invitations at the post office, and to bring money to cover insufficient postage. Some said it was insufficient by three cents. Some said it was insufficient by .87 cents. A bunch had them delivered no problem, without any insufficient notice at all. What the fuck????

A big part of me regrets leaving the invitations in the hand of that self-righteous counter employee. Deep down I believe she fucked with them just to prove herself right, though that wouldn’t explain why only some of the invitations claim to have insufficient postage. I know that it’s “a federal offense” to tamper with mail, but you know, a whole lot of things are illegal and that doesn’t stop some.

But why in the world would the claims of insufficient postage be as varied as the day is long?? Why isn’t the USPS consistent? Why wouldn’t each envelope–the exact same size, shape and weight–not cost the same to mail??

I know this incident isn’t the end of the world. It’s not ruining my wedding and while I was wicked frustrated yesterday having to explain and apologize to all my guests, there are far worse things that could happen in the world. Like getting a whole bag of pistachios that aren’t cracked open. That would really suck. But I’m still a bit pissed about the lack of consistency and the fact that this minor mistake inconveniences each one of my guests and is so glaringly obvious. Had the flowers at the ceremony been wrong, that wouldn’t be a big deal because that doesn’t personally affect each guest.

So there. That’s my complaint against the USPS. I would love love love form someone to explain to me WHY the postage needs have been so different on each one of these invitations!

Whew. I’m done.

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Bridezilla and the Attack Of The Sleep

It’s 5:30a, August 22 and I’m lying here wide awake while every other living creature in this house is snoozing peacefully. I’ve been up for about an hour now, after a very restful* five hours of sleep and I cannot shut my mind off.

Today is the day the invitations go out. Today is the day when, pardon my language, shit gets real.

Up until today, all the planning and deposit-laying-down and purchasing and scheming has felt like it was all towards an imaginary, almost hypothetical goal. I know that sounds weird, but that’s how it feels. While we have talking plenty of times with our friends and families about the plans and the day, today is the day when hundreds of other people get involved. The likelihood for fucking up becomes exponentially bigger today. And that’s what has me so freaked out.

I’ve spent most of the morning obsessively looking over the website I built in iWeb specifically for this. I’ve checked every spelling, every link… I’ve taken the RSVP survey (built in survey monkey) about forty times to make sure it behaves the way I want it to. I’ve been looking at the invitations (non-traditional mix CDs with the invitation info printed on the front) compulsively, making sure I didn’t misspell the website address (a particularly large phobia of mine at this moment).

Today is the day the nerves have really started to settle in and with them, the “wills.” Will I lose the ten pounds I need to make my dress fit properly again? I only have two months to do it and there’s a lot of wine between today and October 22…. Will people RSVP for more than I’m allowing? Will I totally forget some ultra-important detail (like getting two witnesses to sign the “yes, she’s available to get married” affidavit for the church) because I’m worried about a non-important detail like flowers? Speaking of, will my florist ever get me the paperwork she’s been promising for days? Will the ceremony programs I designed actually look like ass? Will our house get broken into while we are honeymooning? Will every single item on our gift registry become discontinued in the next two months (at this rate, they will… It’s a fucking daily occurrence)? Will my hairdresser flake out and double book himself (totally possible)? Will my hair ever grow out? Will the huge ugly fucking black construction tarp that is hanging in the center of my cathedral-beautiful church ever be removed??

I know these are all the not important things, well, except for the church affidavit. I’m actually not nervous about the important things: will I be a good wife? Will we keep magic in our relationship? Will we be a good team? The answer to all those questions is “yes, with work on each of our parts, yes.” I’m completely confident in our love and commitment for each other and our ability to work together and built a happy life.

Now if only I had that confidence in my hair stylist, I’d be asleep right now like any other sane person.

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Wedding Karma is About To Get Me. I’m Sure Of It.

When this blog was born years ago, it was just a place to put all the crazy dating stories I had accumulated in my life. I never thought that someday I’d be writing about weddings and engagements and all that shit. But… here we are. At my very first wedding related post. I promise you, my dear reader, that I won’t make this a wedding-only blog. That would make even me puke. But I must air something.

As I plan this wedding, I do a nightly sacrifice and prayer ceremony to the Wedding Karma gods. I do this because I realize now that I was such a shitty wedding guest on far too many wedding occasions and I’m terrified that these crimes against the happy couples that I perpetrated will be done unto me.

What crimes do I fear, you ask? (oh, you didn’t ask? Well… too bad. I’m going to tell you anyway.) The Uninvited Guest. That’s what I’m most afraid of.


When I would open my mailbox and see one of those distinctive envelopes that undoubtedly meant I was going to have to put on a dress and some heels and eat some dry cake in a catering hall somewhere, I never paid much attention to whom the envelope was addressed… to just me, or to me “and guest.” That, my friends, is where the problem starts. I did not realize that it was rude as shit to bring a date to a wedding when I was not “given” a plus one. When someone finally pointed out once that if you aren’t given a plus one that you should not bring a plus one, I got all up in arms. “Why can’t I bring a date?!?!? WTF?!?!?”

It wasn’t until I started planning my own wedding that I realized that the plus ones really fuck things up. Especially when the couple getting married aren’t mega-millionaires and has a huge family and a wide circle of friends (example: us). Weddings are fucking ex.pen.sive. When we started putting together a guest list, it was incredibly hard to keep it at or just a little above 150 people–we both have LARGE families which take up nearly one hundred slots on the guest list themselves! Then you add in good friends, their husbands and wives, close work colleauges,etc and suddenly you’re looking at cashing in your 401(k), selling your plasma and possibly taking up a few shifts on the pole to help pay the tab. When I started calling around to caterers in Chicago to start pricing out the food, I had a very hard time finding anyone that would work with us, simply because we weren’t prepared to spend $115 per person on catering. I was flabbergasted and a little depressed that we didn’t have unlimited resources. I did however finally find an amazing caterer that was able to see my vision for the day–and see it in our tiny-by-Chicago-standards budget.

So you can see why the “plus one” is such a sensitive subject. To be honest, single people who get all pissy about not having a plus one simply will not understand until they themselves are faced with making a guest list and realizing that if you allow one of your single work friends bring a date just to keep them company, that you probably won’t be able to invite your best friend from high school.

We adopted a rule that we found was commonplace in etiquette books and websites. If the guest was in a *very* serious relationship, engaged, living together or married, they could bring them as a guest. The books and sites also advised to NEVER put “and guest” on the invitation… it should be name of the significant other that is so important to your friend that you are inviting. Irish and I have made a pact to uphold this rule 100% across the board, because we anticipate that at least one person will pitch a fit, either to our faces or to gossipy family members, about how we didn’t allow them a plus one. We also are pretty sure that at least one person who wasn’t allowed a plus one will rsvp a “two” anyway. And unfortunately, in every instance, we are going to have a difficult and uncomfortable conversation. Some people might be offended or pissed at us and unfortunately we are going to have to deal with that.

Not until I started planning my own did I realize that wedding planning is really just a giant minefield of human emotions and you have to step delicately because you really have no freakin clue who you are going to send into an emotional meltdown over the smallest perceived slight.

Our invitations are going out in two weeks, and to be honest, I’m not looking forward to it. Because I know we are going to step on at least four or five mines with these things. And it’s all because of the plus one.

Wedding gods: I’m so so so so so so sorry that I was such a shit and I brought uninvited guests to weddings. I’m so so so so so so so sorry. Pretty pretty pretty please don’t let anyone do the same that I did. I can’t afford it. (Serious, Wedding gods, this shit is EXPENSIVE!)

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I am so tired of looking in the mirror and hating my body. I’m exhausted from looking at pictures and mourning the photo that “could have been” had I not ruined it with my lumpy, chubby self. I’m tired of needing to be the first one to make fun of myself and point out my flaws before anyone else can do it. I’m so tired of the majority of my thoughts and energy goes into criticizing myself and hating myself.

My wedding is just over two months away and all I can think about is how I already hate the photos (yes… the ones that haven’t been taken yet) because I’m just fat enough to ruin them. We have an engagement photo session available to us from our wedding photographer, but I’ve yet to schedule that shoot because, frankly, I think it’s a waste of time. I look terrible.

During this wedding planning, I’ve been a pain in the ass to my fiance about a few very particular things…. for instance, I lobbied hard to not have a First Dance. I kept saying I didn’t want to do that traditional moment because I thought it was cheesy, but really, I just don’t want anyone looking at me. I’m terrified that during those few minutes that I’m standing there on the dancefloor with Irish, my fiance, and all eyes are on us, that everyone is going to be thinking to themselves, “He could’ve done better… she’s quite the fatty bride.”

I hate eating in front of people. The only thing that I can think about is how the person that is seeing me eat is most likely thinking, “Why is she eating that? She certainly doesn’t need another meal.”

And yes, I know that all this is pretty irrational. But it’s the running narrative in my head. I wish there was a pill you could take to magically make you love yourself more, to accept how you are and make the best of it. I’ve spent thirty years hating how I look and worrying about what everyone else thinks of me, and frankly, I’m just tired of that.


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How I Got Here

A few years ago, I worked my ass off and earned The Dream Job that I had been striving to get. I had been slaving away as a department assistant for very, very little money. To say I worked hard and was dedicated would be an absolute understatement. I was the first one in the office every day. I was the last one to leave. I worked my tushy off and gave my entire being to that job. For one goal. The people I was assisting were doing the job I wanted… it’s essentially a sales position in the music industry–only they “sell” artists and their music to radio stations. They convince stations to play their songs instead of other record label’s songs. They traveled. They ate and drank well. They had expense accounts. They worked from home and made their own schedules. THAT sounded like The Perfect Job. Ever.


So, I worked my ass off. I tried to be just good enough to keep my position as the department coordinator, but not good enough that they wouldn’t ever want to promote me to being a regional. I wanted a regional position so badly… because it would allow me to continue working in the music business, but also allow me to move away to another city. Nashville was just getting too small for me and scoring a regional position was the perfect solution.

For a few months, there had been rumblings around the office that the label was going spawn off a second imprint. I was down-right fucking giddy. A second imprint means HIRE MORE REGIONALS! As soon as the rumblings became rumors and, ultimately, truths, I begged (BEGGED!) my boss to make me a regional. Did I mention that I begged? Cause I totally begged.

And one day after all that begging, while I was sitting in my office, my boss called me into his.

“Grace,” he said as he sat behind his desk. “I need you to do a research project for me.”

“Oh… [pause] Ok.” I have to admit, my heart sank a bit because I had heard that day was when they were going to make all their hiring decisions.

“I need you to research where you would want to live in the midwest or northeast when you become a regional for the new label.”

Oh my God. Holy fucking shit. Seriously. Enter, stage right, Speechless Grace.

I think I floated out of his office instead of actual walking. I was finally going to be able to leave Nashville (and have the company pay for it!) and still work in the music business. My plan WORKED!

But now…. Where to move??

After much deliberation, it was down to four cities. Boston, mostly because I loved that Augustana song and thought it would be awesome to live it out, plus it was riddled with history and this girl loves her some history. New York City, because since I could walk, I’ve wanted to get myself to NYC. Cleveland, because that’s where my family lives and isn’t it nice to be close to family? And finally, Chicago. Because, well, it was big like New York, but it was midwestern, like Cleveland, so it was filled with My People.

And New York was too expensive, especially on what they proposed to pay me.

And Boston was a social wasteland to me, I knew not a soul there.

And Cleveland’s downfall was it’s airport. You can’t get a direct flight to anywhere from Cleveland.

So Chicago won.


I was (finally!) going on an adventure.

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So… What’s New?

A whole hell of a lot, that’s what. It’s been about three or so years since I’ve actually done anything over in these parts and I’m done so much growing up since then that I hardly recognize myself.


  1. I moved: I’m no longer lookin’ for love in Nashville. I found love in Chicago
  2. I’m engaged: See? I found love. And it’s awesome.
  3. I got my dream job. I got laid off. I got another job. That company closed. Then got my current Dream Job. I’ve been at this one for a little over a year and it enables me to do some amazing things. I really am Livin’ The Dream.
  4. I got myself right financially. This one I didn’t talk about much back then, but I was really fucked up financially and the stress of it was affecting me and my mental health. I’m not trying to be all bragadocious about it, but  I’m pretty freakin’ proud of getting myself out of debt and on a great track to being financially stable and happy. It’s an enormous weight off my shoulders. There was no better feeling than writing that very last car payment, lemmetellya.


So that, in a nutshell, is what has happened.


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Hello? Anyone Here?

Oh! Hi!

Yeah, this feels a little weird to me too, don’t worry… it’s not just you. I found the keys to this place rattling around in the junk drawer and I thought to myself, “Grace, you should go on over there and clean out the cobwebs. You really liked that place.”

So here I am. I’m not just cleaning out the cobwebs, though. I’m getting rid of all the old furniture, slapping a fresh coat of paint on the walls and hanging up some new art. After all, I had a fresh, new wonderful start in my Real Life, so why shouldn’t Graceless In Love?

I like this place. But it holds a lot of memories that are both good and bad. I’m not particularly proud of some of the things that went on here, but I’m willing to burn some sage and smudge the shit out of this place.

And so, Graceless in Love isn’t going to look like it used to. I put all the old stuff, the old me, in storage and I’m starting over. But, as always, I’m not going to promise to be elegant or lady-like… I’m just going to be me. But me with a little bit more awareness of what I do and how my actions affect those around me.

A boss of mine once said in a meeting, “If you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying it out loud in an interview on ‘Sixty Minutes,’ then don’t write it down.” I’m living by those words.

You might be asking why, then, I even unlocked this place and opened the door. That’s a very good question, my friend. I did so because I have things to say… things that people might care about, a lot of things that people might not care about. Funny things. Introspective things. Observations and musings. And since the internet allows us to have these little, tiny corners that we can decorate all we want and fill with what we’d like, then I’m taking advantage of that.

If you don’t like this house, then please, just turn and go quietly. Nobody benefits from you being here, and really, what good does it do anyone? But if you are willing to be my friend, then come on in. Sit down. I’ll make you a drink and let’s talk. We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

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