I’ve got my mind on my money & my money on my… wedding

We’re 23 days away from the Sizzle & Darcy wedding.

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!?

You can’t? Me neither!

As the day draws closer we are knee deep in details. Ok, to be honest, I’m about elbow-deep in details but I like to get my stressing out of the way so I can enjoy big events. Ask anyone who has seen me in action on the day of an event I’ve planned. I’m cool as a cucumber, even when raising close to a million dollars is on the line. I can be that way because I’ve planned in advance. This time I’ve gone one further and hired my proverbial ace in my pocket, my friend Amy who does day of wedding coordination (among many, many other skills she has. . .she also makes a potent yet fancy jello shot). Everyone keeps asking me incredulously, “Are you really going to be able to not be an event planner on your wedding day?” And the answer is, “I’m going to do my best not to.” I truly want to just be the bride and that’s why we hired Amy. I trust that she will take care of everything I’ve turned over to her and even think of stuff I’ve missed. I’m meeting with her this morning to talk over the plan and get her expert opinion on my wedding timeline. I’m currently worrying I haven’t timed things correctly. I’m too close to this event (um MY WEDDING) to have an unbiased eye.

I’m hopefully picking up my dress today and it will be the last time I ever have to step foot into that sad David’s Bridal alterations area. Whether they have fixed it or not, I’m taking the dress with me. I bought a pashmina that I may or may not wear. I’m still looking and thinking on the whole cover up issue (thank you to all of you who sent me links and offered to make me one- I have the nicest readers/friends!).

I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to have a wedding you’d see in a bridal blog. I sheepishly had to admit to myself that I was holding that ideal in my head so it’s no wonder I was stressing. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get this just right because I am an event planner by trade and I wanted some attention for the details we dreamed up. Since confessing that this was driving my perfectionism, I feel better. Like I let myself off the hook a little. Our wedding will be amazing because WE ARE GETTING MARRIED and our closest friends and family will be there supporting our union and hopefully dancing their butts off. Absolutely nothing else matters except the fact that at the end of the day, I will be married to Mr. Darcy.

Reality checks are good.

Here’s a mini-checklist of things we are working on:

  1. finalizing menu
  2. decoration making (girlfriends are coming over next weekend to assist)
  3. vows & ceremony writing (along with our officiant, Jenny Two Times)
  4. hair & make up run thru
  5. ring bearer pillow sewing (I wanted to make at least one thing)
  6. day of poster designing (so as to not waste trees- Mr. Darcy has got this)
  7. first dance practicing
  8. marriage license getting
  9. confirming honeymoon plans
  10. flower purchasing & bouquet making (thanks to my sister this is handled)

I’m getting excited!

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The only pregnant we are is pregnant with possibility.

Last week Mr. Darcy got a call about a job.

It was one of those situations where this company was sitting around talking about this new sci-fi game they want to create when a lead guy picked up a book put out by Mr. Darcy’s current employer and said, “We need to get THIS guy.” This guy as in, my incredibly talented fiance, Mr. Darcy. The book is full of his amazing concept drawings.

Pretty high compliment, right?

So he went to what he though was going to be a 30 minute initial interview that would hopefully lead to a longer interview the following week but it turned out to be a two hour conversation that ended in a job offer. When he got home I was full of questions. He looked a bit sheepish and said, “Well, I didn’t get $_____.” $__________ is the amount I told him was the bare minimum of what his talent was worth (he’s been paid pretty poorly so far). I said this not for us, because I want us to have more money but because in my opinion Mr. Darcy doesn’t always advocate for his worth and I really want him to get paid what he deserves.

I tried to shrug it off thinking, well, if this work environment is better than his current one then we all win and it doesn’t matter if he’s not making more. He’s been pretty depressed because of the toxic nature of his workplace and it’s affected our life together. I really just want to see him happy in a place that appreciates him and allows him some creative freedom.

But then he smiled and said, “They offered me $_________!” And it was about $18,000 more than he currently works and a lot more than I told him was his bare minimum.

Whoop! Woo! Holla!

But then we had to figure out what to do about the house loan. We’re in the middle of underwriting which means they are picking apart every little detail of our financial life. Any wrong move could jeopardize our loan which neither of us wants. I won’t sugar-coat it – there was a heated argument while we waited to hear from our lender about timing and approach. It wasn’t one of our finest moments but we have since recovered. We are, after all, under multiple stressors. Buying a house, planning a wedding, moving, training our replacements at the building, and now, starting a new job.

Mr. Darcy gave notice and he starts at his new company on June 4th. Three days before we close on our house. Four days before we move. To say that will be a big week for us is an understatement.

Yes, 2012 is shaping up to be a very big year for us.

 

Money Matters

As a college student I managed to work low-paying jobs and live on the income from them and student loans but just barely. Because those things- my work-study job, my off-campus job, and my multiple student loans- only helped me pay for school, rent, and bills. Sometimes I struggled to buy groceries or gasoline. Going out was always a luxury. Travel was pretty much impossible.

And so I got some credit cards.

There were some months where the only way I could eat was to use my credit card. If any major expense came up- my car broke down, I owed money to the IRS, I got sick and had a doctor bill or needed new glasses- I used a credit card to pay for it or often had to borrow from my Mom. I had no savings account. When my first job after college told me about contributing to a 403b I laughed. I was like I NEED EVERY DOLLAR. Being smart with money was not something I was skilled in despite how hyper-aware I was of every single cent I earned and spent.

I lived in a state of financial lacking.

I was constantly stressed out by money. In my late 20’s during the height of my money woes, I was dating a guy who lived in San Francisco and worked for a reputable housewares store as a graphic designer. He rented a room in a nice house and wore Kenneth Cole. And there I was, 29, from a hippy, beach town in my thrift store jeans and Converse, driving a car I bought off my Mom. He often wanted to go out, travel, do things that were outside of my means. He also didn’t offer to pay for me so in order to keep up, I kept charging more on my credit cards- gas to get from The Cruz to SF, plane tickets to visit his family in Arizona, etc. It was stupid and ridiculous.

Around this time was when the hounding started- the constant calls from debt collectors. And when I stopped answering my phone.

The thing about being deep in debt is that it feels humiliating and paralyzing. I lived in a constant state of lack, of stress, of panic. Everyone needs money to live and I didn’t feel like I ever had enough. Dating a man who was elitist and who lived an hour and a half away didn’t help but all of my financial troubles started before I met him.

So, I finally caved, admitted I was in over my head and filed for bankruptcy.

I remember the day I had to go to “court”. I was a nervous wreck. Creditors could show up and contest it! What if I had to fight them in front of an audience? I was scared out of my mind but it turned out to be nothing. A man behind a folding table in a rented out hall (a makeshift court) asked me a few questions, asked if anyone was there to contest it (I held my breath, no one showed) and then had me sign something.

I vowed to myself that day that I would do money differently. No new credit cards (no company would give me one anyhow). Living within my means. I got a better paying job. I broke up with that guy in SF. Without the barrage of debt collection calls and the stack of bills filling my mailbox, I could breathe. It took years for me to get to a place where I felt financially stable.

Years later when I took my second job as an Apartment Manager I knew this was my opportunity to really change my relationship with money. In the four years I’ve been working as a building manager instead of paying rent, I’ve paid off my car, paid of 2 loans and 1 credit card I kept out of the bankruptcy. Any trip I’ve taken I have paid for out of pocket. Clothes, holiday gifts, car repairs, vet bills- all paid from my checking and/or savings account.

I thought by now I’d have thousands upon thousands saved up. That was a lofty dream. I thought when Mr. Darcy moved in we’d be able to save more but purchases like a new couch or trips back east have bitten into what we’ve saved. But the point is, we ARE saving. We have a cushion. And right now we’re focused on aggressively saving so we can get out of the apartment management business and into our own home. That’s a dream we hope to actualize before next summer. I am excited and scared for this next chapter.

Despite how much work managing the building has been at times, being able to not pay rent for the last almost-4-years has been a life changer. I don’t live in the mindset of not having enough. I’ve learned to budget and save. I just hope that when it comes time to pay a mortgage I’m solid enough in my financial footing to only minorly freak out. You know, like freak out in equal proportion to the act of buying a house (because, eeek!, that’s a big deal!).

I’ve come a long way even if I still wear Converse and shop at thrift stores.

Name That Business

Weeks ago many of you put on your creative thinking caps and came up with some brilliant suggestions for my new side business. THANK YOU! I was amazed by the ideas and appreciate each and every one of you who chimed in.

It was hard to narrow down my choices! Sometimes Google nixed a top contender (like Peace of Mind Productions or Piece of Cake Productions or Blue Sky Wedding Planning) because a background check turned up that someone else already had the rights to that business name. Phooey!

I’ve trimmed the list to six choices and now it’s  your turn again. Out of these choices, which do you like best? Please keep in mind my personality (as you’ve gleamed from reading this here blog) and that I am attempting to cater to the DIY bride & groom who need a logistics mastermind for the day of their wedding. I might grow this into a full-fledged wedding planning business someday but for now, it’s really just execution of details and support. I aim to make their special day as worry & stress-free as possible. And when you are casting your vote, think too about if you were a bride or groom looking for such help, what would you be attracted to, hire or take seriously.

This poll will be up through the weekend so please VOTE! and spread the word.

*Small caveat – I sincerely appreciate your input and. . . I still reserve the right to have final say in the business name.

**The person who suggested the winning name from the poll will win a prize.

From Here to There and Back Again: Love Travels

I spent 6 non-stop days with Mr. Darcy and fell even more in love with him.

Love that man of mine.

That’s the mark of a solid relationship. We, thankfully, are excellent travel companions. He handles my pre-travel freak outs with compassionate consideration. And I? Bring snacks so he doesn’t go hungry. What? Snacks are important! Hungry travelers trapped on a cross-country flight are dangerous. They should security scan for it.

Getting from Seattle to Philadelphia is a looooooong flight. My butt fell asleep. Around the 8th hour of travel I started to go a little batshitcrazy from being cooped up. I took extra time in the lavatory just so I could stand up and stretch my legs. I never once fell asleep on the flights. But of course Mr. Darcy did. As evidenced in our previous travels, my boyfriend is one good sleeper.

We shared a double bed at his parents house. If that’s not togetherness I don’t know what is. It was also one of those beds where if he moved, I moved. But there were no cats to wake us up at 5am so I slept past 8am most mornings. Hallelujah! He wasn’t kidding when he told me that he grew up  in the country. Man oh man there are a lot of trees (and corn!). And when we arrived past midnight that first day of our trip, the crickets were loudly welcoming us as were the stars. Without streetlights, they brightly twinkled hello.

The Homestead

Being Corny

I adore his parents. They are such wonderful people- his mom making me a pot of Earl Grey tea that they got on a trip to London and his dad regaling me with story after story of their ancestors. I am certain I was told a story with every single photo hanging in the house (that’s a lot). And when that tour was over? He brought out these big scrolls of paper that showed the family tree. Upon our departure he made me write down my full name, date of birth and where I was born because he’s adding me to the tree.

I think he likes me.

Maybe because when he hugged Mr. Darcy good-bye he told him, “She’s a keeper.” And his mom whispered, “Don’t screw this up!” then asked me if there are any special dishes I like at Thanksgiving.

My future in-laws?

Throughout the trip though, I felt more and more close to Mr. Darcy. Maybe it was being embraced into his family by his parents or so welcomed by his closest friends. Maybe it was seeing his dorky little self in childhood photos and glimpsing the man I love in the child he once was. A little boy who made a makeshift motorcycle out of couch cushions, wearing big gloves and sunglasses, pretending to be one of the officers from CHiPs. Maybe it was how happy he was to introduce me to the most important people to him or to show me around the neighborhoods he used to live. Maybe it was attending the wedding of two of my dearest friends, seeing how happy they are together and in turn, how happy they are for us.

Mr. & Mrs. Dumpling

I was sitting with the groom for a brief moment of quiet togetherness amidst the clamor of the reception. We talked about their honeymoon and the wedding and how, WOW, here we are all these years later him getting married and me with someone special. We’ve traveled a long distance from that time we were a couple and I was falling apart and he was trying to keep me together. Not just in miles- me to Seattle, him to North Carolina- but in emotional distance. And yet here I am at his wedding, crying as he exchanges vows with someone so perfect for him. He asked me about Mr. Darcy moving in. He knows this is a leap of faith for me, a mark of the depth of my feeling. He was, after all, the last man I fathomed doing that with. I shook my head a bit in amazement and said to him,  “I’m going to marry him.” I know this deep down inside myself as an unwavering truth. Then I got all teary and we hugged because holy shit! we’ve both found our person.

The Dashing Dumpling as Groom

So maybe it was all of those experiences rolled into one big amazing feeling. Or maybe it was dancing with Mr. Darcy, laughing and smiling and quietly planning our future together while Frank Sinatra crooned. I think my father would have approved.

I predict that this is what 90% of our wedding day photos will look like.

37 in 37

Tomorrow is the Annual Sizzle Birthday Lovefest hosted by none other than, my love, Mr. Darcy. Don’t miss it! But today is for my next year’s wish list. You know I couldn’t resist, right? These are all the things I hope to do, experience, be in the coming year. . .

  1. Visit Canada (here we come TequilaCon!) COMPLETED 4/10
  2. Participate in a Flash Mob SOMEDAY!
  3. Start taking guitar lessons NO LONGER INTERESTED
  4. Lose 30lbs NOT MY FOCUS
  5. See my dear friends, Dumpling & Jersey Girl, get married COMPLETED 8/10
  6. Fly a kite at Gas Works Park WHEN IT STOPS RAINING I WILL
  7. Meet Mr. Darcy’s family COMPLETED 11/10
  8. Visit New Jersey for the first time (see #5 & #7) COMPLETED 8/10
  9. Go kayaking IT RAINS TOO MUCH
  10. Commit to an on-going yoga practice DOING IT!
  11. Read a book a month NOT QUITE
  12. Go on a trip with just my mom and sister NOT YET
  13. Write down three things I am grateful for every day OOPS
  14. Lose the guilt over giving myself “me time” 90% THERE
  15. Pay off any outstanding debt SO CLOSE
  16. Sign up for a First Time Home Buyers workshop POSTPONED
  17. Get the moles on my back checked COMPLETED 5/10
  18. Make a meal from Julia Child’s cookbook NOPE
  19. Become a season ticket subscriber to the theater WENT TO A LOT MORE THEATER
  20. Take a road trip COMPLETED 12/10
  21. Have a monthly date with Finn MOSTLY
  22. Take a dance class DOES NIA COUNT?
  23. Send more real mail to people I love Could have done better
  24. Give time to my creativity Instead dreamed up a side business
  25. Take naps 1 or 2 were taken
  26. Eat Here and Here ATE AT HOW TO COOK A WOLF 3/11
  27. Go on picnics I DID!
  28. Start a wine tasting club (I am looking to you Supple) NO LONGER INTERESTED
  29. Get new glasses (FINALLY) COMPLETED 8/10
  30. Have monthly date with my family DID BETTER BUT NOT GREAT
  31. Go to California with Mr. Darcy COMPLETED 5/10
  32. Go white water rafting COMPLETED 6/10
  33. Do a video blog post COMPLETED 4/18/11
  34. Get a complete physical COMING UP IN 5/11
  35. See the tulips COMPLETED 4/11
  36. Shack up with Mr. Darcy COMPLETED 8/10
  37. Get my tattoo VERY SOON!

So Comes Love*

I’ve done a lot of thinking and journaling about what 2010’s intention will be. I wrote pages upon pages while The Swell Season sang in my ears and the ocean roared outside and three of my best girlfriends chatted in the other room. I holed myself up and hunkered down because I felt adrift and uncentered and small. Sometimes I wake up in that feeling and have to write my way back to my true self. Does that ever happen to you?

I started this “setting an intention” ritual back in 2006 with a list and as the years progressed, I fine tuned it. 2007 was the year of acceptance. 2008 was my year of gumption. 2009 was all about putting myself first. And looking back on each year I can see how that intention weaved its way through my days. My intention sets the tone for the year to come.

As I wrote in my journal on New Year’s Day I sensed a theme emerging in what my pen put to paper. I wrote about everything I’ve learned about myself and how practicing self-acceptance, employing gumption and challenging myself to finally put myself first has opened me up to a truer version of myself than I ever thought possible. The fact that I am able to say that I love myself is something I could not say five years ago. It is no small statement when I say: It has made all the difference. I am not perfect at it. But love is not perfect.

I spend a great deal of time in my therapy sessions cataloging my fears because, despite how I might appear to the public, my confidence is not always strong and my self-doubt nags at me. A lot of the time I feel clenched up inside of myself. My mind never shuts off. I’m perpetually in self-protection mode. I hang on to a lot of hurt.

I want to be free of it.

Something I’ve never been very good at is letting go. I’m a controller which I’ve talked about a lot here. How somewhere a long time ago I got it into my head that if I could control my world, I would feel safe. I could make everything alright. An effort in futility is more like it. It’s impossible. A set up to fail.  So I never feel successful. And I never feel safe despite exhausting myself in the endeavor.

I do not want to do this anymore.

I carry a lot that is not mine or old stuff that no longer serves me. I want release from this. I want centeredness. I want to let go of always having a plan, of anticipating what is next, of go go go, of outrunning my own heart. I want to learn to be okay with not feeling okay, with feelings that are uncomfortable without pushing them away or covering them up, with the unknown. I want to be braver and more true to myself- the self that doesn’t feel compelled to fix everything for everyone. The self that finally knows what it feels like to relax inside.

And so. . . 2010 is the year of letting go.

Here’s to the next leg of the journey. Wish me luck.

*From an e.e. cummings poem I love.

It’s Up to Me

I came to a startling realization while talking with Kaply and crying in my idling car Friday night.

I’m not happy.

I actually haven’t been happy for at least a year. Happy in the sense that I am content with who I am and am doing what fills me with joy. Happy as in living my life for me, going after what I want, not defining myself by how other people view me or if a man wants me or not. I was sitting there comparing myself to other people’s successes, adventures and fulfillment, feeling jealous and bitter. What the fuck? That’s a total waste of time and energy.

In my last post I was talking about being willing to feel and that means feeling even when it sucks and is painful. I know it’s been almost three months since The Fella and I split but I swear it’s like I am just now getting around to grieving it. I think because the anger I was holding onto was blocking my ability to get to the sadness. The Fella was the closest I’d let any guy come to knowing me in a very, very long time. I wrestle with feeling like a failure because we couldn’t make it work. I struggle with guilt because I know I participated in the demise of the relationship even when I was checked out and that ultimately, I hurt him. I don’t think we could have fixed what broke between us even if we’d wanted to but that doesn’t make it any easier.

This is honestly the first time in a very long time where I am not seeking out romantic love, not dating anyone, not on the prowl for some sort of flirtation, or not carrying on with an ex pretending the problems of our former relationship were fixed by time and space (they never are). It’s just me alone with me. By choice. I’ll tell you one thing- it sure does give a girl a lot of time to think. I’m debating if this is a good or a bad thing.

It’s funny how we see ourselves. I know I am often overbearing, opinionated, strong-willed, and guarded. I talk too much. I worry more than I should. I spend way too much time thinking about other people’s feelings. I feel like I do myself and everyone else a disservice every time I put other people before me. If anything, I put too much time and effort into figuring out what might be best for everyone else BUT me. And I’m slowly learning that I have to just let people be themselves and travel at their own pace. I’m trying to find the balance between caring and over-caring. I’m trying to stop deflecting all my caring and give some to myself.

As I sat there in that car, my mind racing with my inadequacies and all the things I longed to try but didn’t because of some imagined deficiency on my part, I made a conscious decision right then and there to be happy.

Just. Be. Happy.

Something just clicked inside me and I’m rolling with it. This time right now is a gift. I’m going to find out what makes me happy and then do it with all the zeal I can muster.

Welcome to Operation Happy. 

I’ll keep you posted.

“I have accepted fear as a part of life, specifically the fear of change, the fear of the unknown. I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: Turn back, turn back; you’ll die if you venture too far.”  -Erica Jong

And So It Is

Thanks to Twitter many of you already know what I am about to say but I have to say it anyway.

I GOT THE JOB.

I wasn’t convinced I was going to be offered it. Seriously. Even when my new boss called me into her office and my old boss was sitting there waiting for me. . . I thought maybe they were going to break the news that I didn’t get the position. What is wrong with me!? But then they both beamed happy smiles in my direction and asked if I would like the job. Yes! Yes, I accept!

Going through the whole application and interview process was good for me in retrospect because now, knowing the job is mine, I know that I earned it. It wasn’t something handed to me. I competed against other qualified candidates and was selected. I’m definitely going to be challenged but hopefully in a good way. The next month of transition is going to kick my ass because basically I will be working both positions simultaneously while also being on the search committee for my replacement.

Today, we talk money. It’s hard to know what I am worth when there’s a dollar sign in front of it. Here’s hoping negotiations go well.

Seriously though, you guys, thank you SO MUCH for having my back, being my internet cheerleaders and providing me with all that sage advice. It really means a lot to me.

I Need A Toolbelt

I hired movers.

My friends are thrilled- that goes without saying. I think there was a collective squeal of delight (“Wheeeeeee!”) when the news broke. I mean, I’ve got great friends but really, there isn’t enough pizza and beer in the world to make up for helping me carry all my crap to a Uhaul and then unloading it and carrying it up a flight and a half of stairs. Besides, now everyone can come to my housewarming party without any shame hanging over their heads. You know, the ones who “were suddenly sick” or who “had to attend a family thing” or who “were taking their dog to get groomed.” Cough! Yeah, those posers.

I’ve been training with my friends who are vacating the Apartment Manager gig. I’ll probably be coming onto the job with a vacant apartment that’s been problematic to rent. There’s also a tenant issue brewing about “an odd smell.” We’re thinking she means someone is smoking the ganja in his apartment. That’s a no no as far as the law and the building rules are concerned so it will need to be addressed. And there’s a pile of “donations” left in the communal laundry room that is not only an eyesore but annoying because guess who will have to haul that stuff off to the Goodwill? Oh yeah baby. Me! Just call me Ms. Sizzle, The Super.

I am very excited and grateful for the opportunity to manage the apartment building. Sincerely. But if one more person says, “You’re so lucky. You get free rent!” I might roll my eyes or snicker. Because, yes, I get free rent but technically I am working for it. I don’t get to just come home and be another tenant. If something breaks, I have to fix it or find someone to fix it. If a tenant complains, I have to diplomatically handle it. If people are shooting up or turning tricks out behind the building by the dumpsters, I get to deal with it. If an apartment needs to be rented, it’s on me to make sure the landlords don’t lose any money. If someone vacates their apartment leaving it a cat pee pig sty, it’s me who cleans it up. People can come by my apartment whenever they need something. I could be in the middle of cooking dinner or in the throes of passionate lovemaking and still, I’d have to handle the issue. I’ve got two jobs now, not just one.

So yeah, I’m totally completely absolutely thrilled that I landed this gig and I know I will do a great job. But it is still a job. A second job at that. But the upswing is, I get to redecorate. And I don’t have to carry all my furniture upstairs because I’m smart and hired movers. But. . .does anyone want to pack for me?

Oh! In case you haven’t heard, tomorrow is Snackie’s Annual Self-Love Day.sld08

The Rules:

1.) Post a banners on your blog and declare February 14th as the day you not only love your one and only, but the day that you love yourself!

2.) Post one nice thing about yourself……then ask others to post one thing that they really like about you.

3.) Enjoy yourself!

Won’t you participate too?