On Being Ready

When I was single, I used to curse my fate and wasted hours wondering why I couldn’t find someone to settle down with. For so many years I felt like not enough, an obvious outsider in the land of coupledom, the fifth wheel, that friend who was always going on dates but never really had a partner. But now that I am days away from marrying Mr. Darcy, almost three years into our relationship, I am glad it took me until I was 36 to find my Mr. Right and until I was 39 to get married.

You see, all that time I spent dating random guys (or as some would say “sowing my wild oats”), I learned a lot about myself, about relationships, and about love. So when I finally met Mr. Darcy, I was in a place where I was ready. I haven’t been bothered by any nagging regrets- did I live out my single days to their fullest? Why yes, yes I did. I have the stories to tell and the scars to prove it.

Every guy I dated before Mr. Darcy helped shape the woman I am today- for better or for worse- and I’m grateful for all of them, even the ones who broke my heart. Because in its breaking, I learned how resilient my heart is and it grew stronger every time. I have no regrets for the life I’ve led or the men I’ve shared it with. I even got lucky a few times and dated some really great guys who are now among my closest and best friends. In fact, three of them are coming to my wedding.

The other day as I walked through our old neighborhood, I kind of chuckled to myself. Six and a half years ago when I moved to Seattle, I wanted so desperately to fit into the scene there. The dirty emo hipsters with their tattoos and tight jeans and retro outfits, their late nights at bars and hangover breakfasts on Sundays. I wanted to be cool too. And maybe I was. Maybe I still am. But I realized then as I dodged smoking teens and street musicians and girls much younger, thinner, and hipper than I, that I’m so happy with my life. My suburban life with Mr. Darcy in a house we own, at jobs we like, surrounded by friends and family we love, the hope for a child alive inside of us, about to get married to one another. This is the dream I never thought would come true. It’s so much simpler than I ever thought and yet, more than I thought was possible for myself.

So many of you have been on this journey alongside me, reading my updates, and giving advice and support. It feels like forever ago and simultaneously like yesterday that I was lamenting my single life and my poor choices in men- so much so that my friends intervened with the Boyfriend Review Board. Remember that? Luckily Mr. Darcy (who was known as Bachelor #4 back then) passed with flying colors.

You guys? I’m getting married on Sunday. I can hardly believe this is happening to me.

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It’s Moving Day

Today is The Day.

Last night after packing for upwards of 8 hours (interspersed with a trip to our house and subsequently breaking our back door knob), I lost it. As in I broke down crying while attempting to help Mr. Darcy roll up a rug.

Seeing our apartment boxed up, the curtains taken down, the dust bunnies the size of Dash, shook me. I dislike chaos and miss the comfort of my routine. I spent 4 years making this apartment into a home and the prospect of starting over in a bigger place that we own is daunting. Eventually I will hopefully just feel excitement but right now I feel sad and a little lost.

I know it’s time to move on. Just like when I lived in The Cruz and decided to move here. It was hard to leave and I felt many mixed emotions but it was the best choice of my life. Look it where it led me? To this- engaged to a sweetheart, buying a house together, and planning our wedding. All my dreams are coming true. I’m so immensely grateful even while I am completely freaking out.

Home Is Wherever I’m With You

It’s been sneaking up on me.

I’m walking out the door and as I turn to lock it, I stop to watch how the light comes in and floods the rose-colored carpet.¬† I turn the key and walk down the halls, out through the stained glass door with the big rose etched on it. I step down the marbled entrance stairs where there is a triangular piece out of place from where it broke a few years back. I turn the corner to the driveway and see the tow signs on the side of building where someone crossed out and added letters so it says Los Manos. I back out and drive away into my day.

Every day is closer to the last.

I’m headed home from the office and the drive is automatic for me. I think about how I will have to learn a new route, that my timing will be off for a while not knowing the way like I do now. I’ll find a new grocery store and get lost in the aisles. It’ll be harder for me to get to as many dance classes. We’ll have to make a point of going to our favorite restaurants instead of just, on the spur of the moment, walking to one of them from our apartment. I’ll miss the familiarity of my neighborhood which only six years ago was a complete mystery to me.

This neighborhood is where I became a Seattleite.

The cats are confused as the boxes pile up. Are these our new toys? They wonder and climb. Soon we’ll be up to eyeballs in boxes. The shelves will be empty. The walls bare. And we’ll be sleeping in our bed, in our first apartment together, for the last night. Typing that makes me tear up.

I’ve been avoiding feeling sad because I don’t like good-byes or endings.

Mr. Darcy is often the one who can access his emotions easiest in this relationship. As we were packing a box the other night he stopped and said, “I need a hug.” I tried to brush it off as him being a sap (he’s frequently a sap) but I envy that he can feel sad and ask for comfort. Me? I make a plan. A list. I forge ahead. No time for feeling! Let’s get this done! It’s a ruse. You knew that though. And so does he. Especially when I tell him I’ve scheduled my tears for around noon on June 8th (when we’ll likely be leaving this place for the last time).

I’m trying to make room amidst the feelings of excitement and joy while I feel the fear and sadness because they are all here and they are true even in their contradictions.

I’ve loved this apartment. As Mr. Darcy aptly tweeted the other night, “I’m going to miss this apartment. This is where I found love. The BIG one.” (See the sap level I am dealing with?) It’s true – this is the place where we had our first kiss, where he first told me he loved me, where we fought and made up and have chosen each other every day. This place is the beginning of our love story. I pack up our belongings and tuck away the many memories of this well-loved place so I can have them with me always.

Home isn’t necessarily just a place but it’s also the life and people that inhabit it. With Mr. Darcy, Dot, and Dash, I’ll always be home no matter where we are.

Resounding

For any of you who have been reading me for a while, you know that Mark Nepo‘s writing has had a profound impact on me. All you have to do is search “Mark Nepo” on this blog and see the many, many posts where I reference his words.

Last night I got to meet him.

I don’t even know how to express how I feel except to say, my heart is full. I sat in the front row with my sister and took it all in. He read from his newest book, shared yet-to-be-published poems, and dialogued with the audience. He was just as I pictured him- bright eyes, easy smile, welcoming demeanor.

I brought my battered copy of The Book of Awakening to have him sign. When I got up to the table I put the tattered book in front of him saying, “here is my well-loved copy” and we both smiled. I told him that his work changed how I see the world and thanked him for that. We hugged. Maybe it went down differently than that but that’s how I recall it. It kind of scrambles the mind to meet your emotional guru.

Here’s a favorite poem of his for you:

Breaking Surface

Let no one keep you from your journey,
no rabbi or priest, no mother
who wants you to dig for treasures
she misplaced, no father
who won’t let one life be enough,
no lover who measures their worth
by what you might give up,
no voice that tells you in the night
it can’t be done.

Let nothing dissuade you
from seeing what you see
or feeling the winds that make you
want to dance alone
or go where no one
has yet to go.

You are the only explorer.
Your heart, the unreadable compass.
Your soul, the shore of a promise
too great to be ignored.

Time with my favorite little guy

I took Monday off from work to pick my nephew up from Kindergarten. His parents were both busy with work and my mom, who usually picks him up, was away in Utah visiting relatives. I try to snatch up any opportunity to hang out with Finn because, well, to me he’s the coolest kid ever (Auntie bias, I am allowed).

I arrived about 20 minutes early. I was concerned about traffic and getting lost, unnecessarily apparently. I found his classroom and peered in. There he was at a table with some other boys playing with dinosaurs. He looked so grown up, it kind of broke my heart a little. When did he get so big?

When the class let out he pushed his way through the crowd of kids blocking the door with a big smile and ran up to hug me. We gathered his things and, holding hands, made our way out to the parking lot. He knows his way around, his routine, names of classmates- he’s this little tyke who is independent in a way I wasn’t prepared for. I can only imagine how I will feel when I have a child of my own. Watch out, heart.

We sat in the car for a bit while he ate some snacks and we chatted. He told me about how his class, called “The Bat Clan”, sings a version of the Batman theme song when they come inside from recess. How they went to the library and got books about Pete the Cat. Kindergarten seems pretty cool. But seriously, how is he school-aged already?

I roped him into coming with me to a couple of stores (I was looking for supplies for my Halloween costume). He said sure but that he gets a toy if he comes. What a racket! But of course, I agreed and off we went. At Target I came up empty on the costume front but he spent 20 minutes going up and down the toy aisles pondering which toy to pick. He’d point out which toy he liked and I’d be all, “Sorry dude, that’s too much money. But I’ll try to remember that for Christmas, ok?” They purposely put the expensive toys on the shelves at eye level with kids (damn them!). “What about some Thomas the Train stuff? Are you into that still or are you over it?” I asked him. “OVER IT!” he said as he walked right by it with nary a glance. Okay then. He’s 5 going on 12.

I’m counting down the minutes, trying to get him to make a final decision. “10, 9, 8, . . . ” “STOP COUNTING!” he told me. But we were already late and traffic was going to be bad. Finally, after much negotiation, he chose a samurai sword. Swords, superheros, animals- these are his new interests. Later, Thomas the Train.

I remember when he was little and I changed my work hours to watch him while my sister went back to work part-time. Those hours I had with him each week are still some of my favorite of my life. I look at him now, growing up so fast, and am so grateful I am here in the same city as him, that he knows me, that I get to see him grow from a baby to a toddler to a young boy. I hope he always knows how important he is to me and how much I love him.

Six

“Perhaps that is the secret- that every time we dare to voice what beats within, we invite some other cell of heart to find what lives between us and sing.” -Mark Nepo

Today is the anniversary of my first blog post six years ago.

CONFETTI!

Man, six years is a long time. In blogging years, I’m pretty sure that makes me like Yoda.

From time to time I’ve thought about giving up blogging but never in earnest. I’m too invested. I get too much out of it. Having a place to express myself, share my thoughts, and find support are invaluable. Readers have come and gone over the years – there was a time when my blog posts were getting upwards of 90 comments per post. I’m still wondering how THAT happened. So many of you but have turned into dear friends. I’m blessed to have found such a supportive and fun community on line. Why on earth would I ever walk away from that?

I’m still in awe that many of my closest friends are people I met through blogging. We were once two people with blogs who commented on each other’s sites and now we are friends I get noodles with, or fluff my chi with, or visit in Portland, or swap music with, or start a book club with, or exchange countless emails with. Many I have known for so long, I have forgotten how we found each other. So many that have touched my heart that I can’t link them all. And even more who have drifted off, leaving me wondering about how they are. Because truly, I count you as a friend and I miss you when you go.

It’s like Mark Nepo says in the quote above- that when we share, we allow for connection. If anyone asked me why I keep blogging I would say, without pause, that connection is why. I share my stories, my thoughts, my heart and you comment, or email and we get to connect from across distances, cultures, backgrounds. I am so grateful for that and for you. For this community. Thank you for being here!

In celebration, I will be selecting a comment at random to receive “The Beauty of Different” by Karen Walrond (AKA Chookooloonks). It’s an amazing book that helps us celebrate our own unique beauty and that special something each of us bring to the world.

So on this day of anniversary, tell me something: How did you find Sizzle Says and what keeps you coming back?

Here’s to tomorrow and all the days that follow.

Sisters Reunited

My grandma’s sister, my Great Aunt Sissy, passed away last week. She was a lively, statuesque, fun-loving woman with round moon-shaped cheeks and an easy laugh. She and my Gram were the best of friends. I remember that whenever they were together they would laugh and laugh- laughing until they were crying and one was shouting, “I’m going to pee my pants!” And as my Mom likes to say, later in life one of them inevitably did pee their pants. They grew up Chicago in an Irish Catholic clan. Sissy was always called Sissy even though her name is Irene and Gram was called May even though her name was Marion.

I grew up eating what everyone in my family called “Sissy’s Chicken”. It’s basically a chicken casserole made with cream of mushroom soup, cheese, broccoli and bread crumbs. There’s some mayonnaise in there too but what can you expect from an old recipe? It’s served with mashed potatoes (of course, we’re Irish) and biscuits. Last night my family gathered to honor her in our own way since we couldn’t fly back to Chicago for the service. We looked at old photos and dined on Sissy’s Chicken.

It’s been over 10 years¬† since my Grandma passed and I still miss her. I hope she and Sissy are up in heaven having a vodka tonic and toasting to being together again. Maybe my Dad is there too and they are all laughing til the tears stream down their cheeks.

My Grandma, Marion, on the left and her sister, Irene, who was affectionately known as Sissy.

Hopefully you can’t pee your pants in heaven.

Best for the Best

It was Valentine’s Day the year I turned 30 and a bunch of us girls were going out for sushi. Jenny Two Times invited her friend on a whim, the lone guy among us females. He ordered a pork roll and made me laugh.

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Dumpling & I at my going away party (which he helped plan!) 4 years ago in Santa Cruz, CA.

Many of you have been around Sizzle Says awhile and have heard about Dumpling. For a brief period of time, we were a couple. He’s the last person I dated that I seriously considered a future with- we even looked at moving in together. He’s the one who would surprise me with flowers just because. He’s the one who would read the instruction manuals so I didn’t have to. He’s the one (along with Supple) who drove up with me from Santa Cruz to Seattle. He was the Harry to my Sally, the Clinton to my Stacy, the Duckie to my Andie. He’s been one of my best friends for years.

And on Sunday? He’s getting married.

The Bride & Groom AKA Jersey Girl & Dumpling.

When they called me on New Year’s Eve to tell me they’d just got engaged, I cried. I flippin’ cried! I was so over the moon thrilled for them. I can’t adequately describe how happy them finding each other makes me. Dumpling is one of the best people I know and he deserves every happiness. His bride, the lovely and sassy Jersey Girl, is a real peach. She’s so smart and funny and generous. I just adore her and couldn’t imagine a better match for someone so dear to me. I love them both and only wish that we didn’t live on opposite sides of the country (Washington to North Carolina is quite a stretch) because I know that Mr. Darcy is going to fall in friendship love with them and vice versa. Who wouldn’t? They’re that awesome. I have good taste. What can I say?

So on Thursday, Mr. Darcy and I are hoping a plane to the Garden State* where we will spend time with his parents in the place he grew up. He’ll show me around his old haunts and introduce me to some of his closest friends. We’ll spend some time in Philadelphia, a place he called home for many years. Then we’ll drive up north to New Brunswick to see Dumpling and Jersey Girl get hitched. Yippee!

*It is not lost on me that both Dumping & I ended up with loves from New Jersey.

60% More Heart

I woke up remembering someone in my dream telling me, “Even on his worst day, he has 60% more heart than most men.” That couldn’t be more true. Unless, it was 75%. Because of the many things I adore about Mr. Darcy, I have to rank his big heart at the top.

Here’s a smattering:

his big, easy laugh, the way his eyes squint up when he smiles, how sweet he is to Dot & Dash calling them nicknames and letting them knead his belly as we sit on the couch, his willingness to push through hard stuff, his unflinching generosity, the way he looks at me like I am the only girl in the room, his steadiness, his sharp wit, his whip smart intelligence, his enjoyment of my family, his closeness to his family, his playfulness, his ability to sleep and sleep some more, his depth, his incredible artistic talent, how he shows up for me repeatedly, how I never have to ask him to do stuff like help around the apartment because he just does it, his protective vigilance of my heart.

In a nutshell, he’s excels at loving me. I hope he feels I do the same for him.

I could imagine my life without him. But the thing is, I don’t want to.