Wednesday, July 27, 2016

In the Beginning

First impressions are funny things.  They're tied up into our memories and emotions and personal preferences and can be very fickle indeed.  While I usually pride myself on being a good judge of first impressions (my first impression of my ex-husband, for example, was a negative one and I obviously should have listened more to myself on that one), I have been known to admit when I'm wrong.  Some of the people who ended up being my closest friends are people I originally didn't like.

Why didn't I like them?  The reasons are usually varied and dependent on my mood, the situation, or both.  They were annoying.  They were kindof a jerk.  We seemingly didn't have enough in common.  They talked too much (see: annoying). Or I was jealous of them.

To be fair, I know people have had negative first impressions of me as well.  My friend Julia originally thought I was a bitch because I didn't talk to her, "always looked perfect," and was always surrounded by my group of friends.  Eventually, she realized that I was just shy and she become a very dear friend and confidante.

While I generally remember my first impressions of people, first memories are an entirely different thing.  First memories usually don't stick around for very long.  I don't remember the first time I saw my ex-husband.  I don't remember the first time I saw most of my friends, or my past crushes.  First memories, for me, need to be something more vivid and important or inspiring in order to last.  For example, I still remember the first time I saw Michelle Mynx perform and knew that I wanted to learn how to pole dance.

Last night, I told Mark my very first memory of him.

Please, don't expect some sort of adorable "meet-cute."  This is not a Hollywood movie.  Also, it in no way qualifies as vivid, important, or inspiring, really.  But it is something I've never forgotten (even if he did).

It was thirteen years ago, when I was that awkward young eighteen-year-old joining the community theatre cast of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  (I've referenced this in a prior ridiculously sappy blog, for those just joining us.)

I was standing upstairs at the Miner's Theatre for the very first time with my friend Anna, who had drug me along to this thing in the first place, and the director was explaining that we (these two young girls) were going to be playing some of Joseph's brothers since there was a general shortage of male actors.

In the corner of the room were a bunch of large balls that were painted to look like planets.  Upon hearing the announcement that the production had gained some "Undercover Brothers" (as we came to be known), Mark turned around, picked up two of these planets and, holding them in front of him at waist level, announced, "Here, these should help!" before bursting into the uncontrollable laugh that I've come to know so well over the years.

And that was how I met the love of my life.  With a joke about balls.

My first impression, therefore, probably should have been abject horror, or at least embarrassed amusement.  It should definitely not have been the real-life equivalent of the emoji with hearts for eyes.

I don't know if it was the unselfconscious laughter, the terrible humor, or the big... er, planets, but I was instantly smitten.

Mark frequently tells me I'm crazy for being in love with him.  To be honest, after reviewing the above evidence, he may have a point.

But this time?  I'm sticking with my first impression.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

We're Having a Heat Wave

It's hot.

It's really, really hot.

St. Louis is in the middle of a heat advisory, and I've used that as a excuse to not feel so bad when I don't take Thunder on a walk in the mornings.

It's not just the heat.  Being St. Louis, it's the humidity.  It makes for a disgusting, oppressive stew that sucks the will to live from you in the time it takes to walk from the parking lot into a building.  My hair doesn't stand a chance unless I wear it up, which I have been for probably a week straight, in a variety of experimental updos.  

In spite of the heat, I haven't stayed home nearly as much as I imagined I would.  Usually, my summers are spent daydreaming about lounging in front of a fan with the air conditioning turned up.  But this summer?  This summer I've barely been home long enough to do much lounging at all.

Obviously, I have to leave the house for work.  During the week, this means a short drive to and from the office and day spent in blissful air conditioning.  But when I work on the weekends, manual labor and sweating outside is involved, at least to load and unload a vehicle. 

But I've also ventured out in the heat to sweat on my own free will and for, allegedly, enjoyment.

On Saturday, I was up and suggesting brunch to Alexis by 9:30.  That night, Mark and I went to the Muny to see Young Frankenstein from the free seats with his daughter and niece.

On Monday (my day off), I invited myself along to the Science Center to hang out with Casey and her two kids (after Audrey, my biggest fan, expressed her disappointment that I wouldn't see her pigtails), and still managed to go grocery shopping and make dinner.

Tonight we're going out to eat with Mark's sister.

And, somehow, we still might go to the Muny this upcoming weekend, if the heat breaks enough.  And are having dinner at my parents' on Monday.

I feel like ever since I started getting divorced, my life went into overdrive.  Before, time seemed to drag out into the all-too-certain future.  I knew what to expect from each day, each week.  And now, when I have no idea what will happen next?  Time flies.  I'm still trying to figure out what to make for dinner three Mondays ago and, for all I know, tomorrow is Christmas.  

I don't know how it got to be July.  I don't even know how it's already 5:00 on a Wednesday again. 

All I know is that time spent with Mark goes far too quickly.  We never seem to have enough time together, even when we spend three solid weeks in each other's company.  We've been together for three years now, and yet it can't possibly have been that long.  Or that short.  Something strange happens to time with us, something as hazy as heat coming off asphalt.  

And something strange has happened to me, in that I've become something resembling "good with kids."  For being the girl who never wanted kids and was never comfortable around them, I spend an awful lot of time hanging around them lately, and all of it by choice.

As I mentioned, it's been a very kid-centric weekend, and it doesn't feel uncomfortable or strange to be the one waiting for a five year old to go to the bathroom so I can help her wash her hands, or to put her shoes on, or to carry a toddler to the car when she's sad about leaving the Science Center.  What's strange is that it all feels... normal.  

It could be the heat wave, but I don't really mind being a stepmom-in-training, or spending my days off with little kids.  In fact, I usually end up enjoying it.

Definitely the heat wave.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Pretty Vintage Girl Anniversary Blog

I've hit two milestones in blog-dom, all in the same week!

First: last week's engagement blog was the most well-and-widely read to date, topping out at just shy of 420 views!  I am, quite frankly, a little flabbergasted.  And pretty convinced it will be hard to ever reach similar numbers.  It's not every day I get engaged, after all.  (So far, just twice, and I hope to keep it that way.)

Second: I've been blogging for a year! July 10th marked my one-year blog-iversary.  That baby of a blog was written as I was coming off celebrating a year since my ex-husband moved out and as I was still decidedly new at working full-time for Fish Eye Fun.  It was short and hesitant and I obviously had no idea what I was doing.  It was the literary equivalent of me sticking a toe in the water to see how cold it was.  I had no idea what this blog would be.

And really, I still don't.

Because I don't think I ever would have dreamed that I would write about what I have in this past year.  My original vision for my blog was something much more frivolous and superficial because I didn't think I could possibly talk about the truth.  Talking about shopping and clothes and books would be much easier, and surely more accessible.  After all, who would want to hear about my life week after week?  I'm not that exciting.  I'm a divorced introvert who still carries far too much baggage for her own liking.  I work all the time and spend the rest of the time with my boyfriend.  What's readable about that?

I never thought I'd be able to keep up with blogging every week (well, almost every week).  I definitely didn't think my boyfriend (fiancĂ©, whatever) would be going around passing out my blog address to everyone on his route!  I didn't think people I knew in passing would comment or reach out to me after something I wrote.

So.  One year later.

What's changed?

Obviously, I'm engaged.

And obviously I've been gainfully employed for over a year.

But also, it's been two years since my ex moved out.

I've destroyed my wedding dress.

I got a new furnace, bought a washer and dryer, bought a mattress, and fixed my car.

I went to Mexico.

I turned 31.

I've been spending my free weekends playing step-mommy. And enjoying it more than I ever thought I would, to be honest.

I've eaten a lot of nachos.  I've read not-enough books.  I've gained new friends and lost some who were apparently never really friends to begin with.  I've traveled back and forth across the Midwest, both for work and for fun.  I've gone to a few shows, and tried to be as social as I can.  I've been unapologetic about my life and what I want to do or not do.

A lot happens in a year.  I'm not the person I was a year ago, in many ways.  I'm snarkier, happier, friendlier, and more honestly... me.  I'm less willing to put up with bullshit.  I like the person I am, and I like where this year has led.

Where things are going from here?  I have absolutely no idea.

As I said, I'm still not entirely certain where this blog is going.  I rarely know what I'm going to blog about from one week to the next, much less what I'll be talking about in another year.

As for me?  There are obviously a lot of changes on the horizon.  Right now I'm still getting used to this sharp, shiny ring on my finger and we're not even remotely discussing an actual date.  I have absolutely no idea what the next year will hold, but I know that I'm definitely looking forward to whatever it is!

I'll be sure to write about it, naturally.  And you're welcome to read along, if you like!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Pretty Nautical Engagement

I honestly can't say that I don't have anything to blog about this weekend, because, well...

I got engaged!

If you've been following along, you know that this past weekend was our first "vacation" together to Chicago.  What you didn't know (and neither did I), was that Mark spent much longer getting ready for our trip than I did.

While I was at work last week, he spent two days building a tiny treasure chest to put the ring in and drawing a "map" to ask me to marry him.  During this time, he obviously couldn't tell me what he was working on, so when I'd ask he'd be uncharacteristically vague and evasive.  He was "working on some old projects," or "running an errand."  Usually these statements would be followed by a description of what he was working on or what he needed to run an errand for.  We tell each other pretty much everything that happens during our day.  Not this week.

Luckily, I was too worried with getting everything ready for the weekend to be overly concerned about why my boyfriend was acting abnormally.

He was also overly concerned with what there was to do on Navy Pier and spent a whole night perusing the Pier's website.  And he wanted to make sure we had "time to ourselves" at Navy Pier before my friends joined us.  My friend Anne asked if there was going to be a romantic lakeside engagement.

I was still somehow oblivious.

It's not that I didn't know there would, eventually, be a proposal.  After all, I'd picked out the ring a few months back.  We've talked about wanting to be married since before I was even divorced.  So it wasn't exactly a surprise.

Except that he made certain that it was most definitely a surprise.

We got to Chicago on Friday and found our way to Navy Pier.  We went in a few shops.  In the first one, Mark found something for his daughter, then told me to go outside and see where the bathrooms were.  That was weird, but I didn't question him too much.  I figured he was just stressed from the trip up.

In the next shop, a nautical-themed store I wanted to go in, I found a pirate-themed coffee mug.  He headed for the register and told me to go look at T-shirts in the other part of the store.  If you know anything about me, you know that I'm really not interested at all in many T-shirts, but I thought he just wanted to make sure I didn't try to pay for the coffee mug.  (Unbeknownst to me, he was juggling around the bag with the treasure chest in it.)

We went upstairs to this beautiful Crystal Garden area, which was (of course) set up for a wedding.  Mark suggests we go sit down on a bench.

At this point, it kicks in.  Omg, he's going to propose.

We sit down, he pulls out the bag from the nautical shop, reaches in... and pulls out a little treasure chest that he's clearly bought, because it's wrapped in cellophane and actually has a price tag on it.

Oh.  Okay.  He's not proposing.  He just bought me something else at the store.  That's cool.

So we open the box.  It's wrapped in a chain necklace and bracelet with nautical charms.  He opens the lid.  "Look," he says, "There's a paper in here."  I pick up the folded paper, still completely unaware, and underneath it is the ring.

That sneaky, sneaky bastard.

Of course, I said, "Aye."

(Meanwhile, the wedding band starts warming up by playing, "All You Need Is Love."  Because why wouldn't the band play a song from one of my favorite movies of all time right at the moment I say yes to the love of my life?)

I can say that this was definitely my favorite proposal.  I honestly can't think of anything else more perfect.

It's almost like he knows me. (In fact, he knows me so well that he made sure to make it look like the ring we bought was still wrapped up in the box he was storing it in after getting it cleaned, just in case I went checking for it.  Which, of course, I had thought about doing.)

I'm also enjoying being engaged a lot more this time around!  In spite of the annoying "just got engaged" questions (no, we don't have a date), it's already going so much better than the last time.  My parents are happy, our friends are happy, and I'm sure one day I'll stop admiring my own hand.

Obviously, this isn't my first rodeo.  Some people have even said that they didn't think I'd ever get married again after what I went through the first time around.  And I suppose that's fair.  Because if it weren't for Mark, I don't think I would.  I don't think I'd risk it for anyone else.

But.  Risk it I'm going to.  And I think it's completely worth it.

Besides, how could I say no to the most perfectly nautical proposal ever?

Along with getting unexpectedly engaged, we were total tourists in Chicago.  I saw several old friends, we took lots of public transportation (and got a little lost), ate Chicago food, and went to the Field Museum.  All in all, I'd say it was a pretty good vacation.

And I've got a really, really good souvenir.