Saturday, March 31, 2012

When the wrong people have the right reaction.


Some might call this an ode to Momma B. For those of you who know her, you know she is pretty damn amazing. I consider her not only my mom, but a best friend, pseudo sister, secret keeper, and role model.

These are all reasons why, for a solid twelve hours now, I have been able to do nothing but think about her. Twelve hours might seem like just fiddle sticks to you, but considering I just attempted my first run since being diagnosed with a(nother) bout of bronchitis on Tuesday and felt like my lungs were dying, and still was thinking about this and only this (and my lungs... dying... slowly... not sure how I am supposed to muster up 12 miles tomorrow...), I'm hoping that says something. Not to mention that I usually do and/or think about fifty-seven things at one time in any given hour because I don't understand what it means to "relax" and I think taking naps are something in the realm of Ridiculous.

What does my mom have to do with my wedding planning? A lot. In an effort to be as real as possible (and hopefully not make my mom blush - but I apologize in advance, if so), I want to share my moment of what, at the time, actually felt closest to "terror, " but likely was more akin to just sadness mixed with guilt mixed with a little bit of anger (not at my mom). Here goes... (and bear with the fact that I am totally incapable of telling a short and to the point story, it's impossible for me).

I have been ill for about a month. Mono is a terrible beast that won't leave me alone. This week my immune system was apparently not on the look-out (taking some time off, I guess?) and I also came down with bronchitis. In the midst of training for a marathon, this was a less than welcome sickness (I know, it's not like two months from now I would have been outside doing the bronchitis dance like a kid in Michigan praying for a snow day - nevertheless, it is really bad timing). I was hoping to feel better by last night to play in our Friday night co-ed softball league (yes, my lesbian partner and I play softball - I know, shocking) but no dice. Nevertheless,  I had a duty to bring my light-as-a-feather mint green softball bat to the game so I ponied up, made a cocktail (naturally the healthy thing to do), and we headed out. I should mention that my lady came just shy of breaking her hand at last Friday's game when a girl stomped on her hand and made it swell up to the size of a golf ball in minutes. We were both on the disabled list.

package contents :)
While we were at the game my mom texted me. We had chatted briefly earlier in the day when I had called her to thank her for the package she had sent... the delightfully thoughtful package that only my mom would send (I only say that because as usual, although packed with delightful things, she never includes any type of note, card etc. which I have always just found hilarious - she knows this).
more package contents!

She was, as always, swamped with work and she needed to go, which was totally fine by me... it was still hard to speak without running out of air in my lungs and since I was using my mouth to breathe because my nose was so stuffed up, it just posed a real problem to hold lengthy conversation.

Back to the text. I don't see my mom's text right away as I was busy with my coaching and cheering duties, but later saw it. It was the last day of Spring Break for all my friends (who are, naturally, mostly teachers) so a friend was having and end of week bash post-game. When we arrived at his house I checked my phone and saw she had wondered if I was up to anything tonight, without thinking anything of it I quickly texted back that we had had a softball game (which I didn't play in) and yes, I was indeed out. Games of all varieties (to be fair, in the sub category of drinking varieties only) ensued, and I completely lost track of time.

I drove us home (yes, it was safe, I hadn't been drinking since we got to the end of break bash) and when I got home I saw the texts from my mom and my heart just sank. Plummeted. I felt like the most terrible (and unappreciative) daughter and was about to swear off blogging. My mom had clearly read my post from earlier that day and thought it was about her. Now, to be fair, this just goes to show that we Boven women tend to apologize way to much and put way to much responsibility and accountability on our own shoulders without cause to - especially if you knew how my mother has been with regard to my relationship with my partner for last several years. Both she and my dad love me and my partner so very much. We vacation together, we hang out together (when in the same city) and in general it is very clear that we are a genuinely happy family.

After having done this whole "engaged" thing once before (in order to maintain class and avoid being hurtful, I will not delve any farther into this oddity as it suffices to say that young people make can make brash decisions but luckily we were both smart enough to know that, make a very difficult and guilt-filled but good decision to end it, and we are both much happier people now for it), I told my partner that my number one non-negotiable going into this, before we bought the rings, is my family needed to be involved from the get-go.

After we bought the rings we sat down and decided how we would plan out the next few weeks leading up to getting engaged so that we could include family in it. Lucky for us, my mom was coming out within a couple short weeks of the rings being purchased so we knew it would work out perfectly. I desperately wanted to give my mom the opportunity to react just as she wished she would have when I first spilled the beans, "hey mom! i'm dating a woman and yes I realize that right now this feels like it crushes every idea, notion, and life-plan you have had for me since I was born! cheerio!" After hearing how much guilt she harbored around that (which, to be fair, was not even close to as bad of a reaction as she had made it out to be in her head) over this past winter break, I was really looking forward to getting to share this with her before anyone else knew and have her be "in-the-know." When she was here in early March my partner and I both (separately) told her and she was very happy for us. She played the perfect mom card of , "as long as you are happy" which is what she would have said regardless of if I was telling her I was marrying man, woman, or anything else (err?). A huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders, my mom knew, was happy for us, and I was going to get to put-a-ring-on-it soon!

My mom is amazing. She never ceases to stop learning and trying to experience new things in the world around her - even weird, unfamiliar, or scary things that don't make sense to her or fit into the way she grew up and was raised. She loves unconditionally and has taught me to do the same. I am not perfect in that, but I try.

All of this leads up to why this text message (yes, that you are finally going to get to read) made me feel such terror...

Moral of the story? (is there one?)
This one might be a bit lost, but if there is one thing I do - even if I tell every story in a fashion that makes it about seven times as long as it needs to be - I always have a point, or "moral," as I usually say in conversation (and often in meetings at work when I have been rambling and realize I need to shut up and end my thought quickly).  Anyway, the whole reason for this post and what really got me thinking about how this relates to my wedding planning (besides the fact that this blog sparked the whole thing), was a comment my partner said to me as she was grabbing a quart of ice cream out of the freezer when we got home last night....

"Why is it that the wrong people always have the right reaction?"

At first I was confused (it seemed pretty deep given the time of day and other factors). Then I realized it, A of all: actually made sense and B of all: rang very true. No, I don't think it is actually all that deep or thought provoking (I feel compelled to acknowledge this as the pretentious part of my body was just screaming out in agony, really ashley?!?!?! this is "deep"? this is obvious!). But it is a great caption for this whole scenario that played out and aligns to the (what I find to be) uncomfortable (and borderline naive? uninformed?) behavior found in my post yesterday.

Not everyone will always have the reaction you want - this goes for news about your wedding, your job, your house or even your new haircut. However, it's almost guarantee-able that it doesn't make sense to fret over those reactions or likely even confront those reactions (anytime soon after the initial reaction - when time has passed, go for it, old wounds heal easy), as there is a reason people react how they do - it is based on what they have experienced in life and what they know and feel. Not even a four page thesis I write on my blog can change those experiences, that knowledge, and their feelings (only they can, over time, purposefully). Instead, someone like my mom, who had no reason to feel any type of guilt, did. You can't force people to have the reaction you want - it wouldn't be a "reaction" then. My blog post yesterday wasn't meant to immediately change anyone's reaction or feelings. Better yet, I even learned as a result of this whole thing that the people it will strike a chord with most are the people who already get it. Of course.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Telling the family and friends.

Simple right? Even exciting, perhaps? A joyous occasion to yodel from the rooftops about?

"Woo hooo! My partner and I of almost four years are getting married!! Hey- yooo!!"

In theory.  Wondering how on earth or why on earth this could possibly be be anything but the most wonderful thing on earth to share? Then you are a wonderful person. As such, this beautiful article might help you understand why it isn't all puppies and rainbows: A Father's Reaction to His Very Young Gay Son.

People can be ignorant, close-minded, and resistant to "change" (I put that in quotes because sometime people blame there inability to freely acknowledge equality and love by blaming it on "adjusting to change").        
                      Luckily (Ha! how sad is that that I have to consider myself "lucky" to be afforded anything beyond tolerance? America! America.), nobody has been anything even close to as ignorant (and in my opinion - sorry! - but as dumb) as some of the people who wrote comments on the blog of that little boy's momma. However, I wouldn't say the world has been "jumping for joy" as I might have hoped and wished for. There are exceptions - and "lucky" for us, we have had a lot of exceptions. We are surrounded with AMAZING friends who know us well and know that this could not be a better marriage of two people. The worst reaction has been no reaction. Sadly, there are gay couples out there who would feel privileged to have that be the reaction they got. So naturally, I do feel some sense of happiness that that has been the worst of it (so far!). However, I am not one to lay down my fight and settle - and I DO NOT think that is right or fair. These were people that, had we been a man and woman would have been throwing up their arms and dancing on the spot... but instead there was no recognition of it, no excitement,  barely a "congratulations."

"But hey, at least they weren't angry, right? At least they didn't cry?"   

... yes, that is the world in which we live. A world where those last two questions are what a significant chunk of our society would think could/should be the extent of my grievance around the reaction these people displayed (or lack thereof). These people weren't strangers!

Moral of the story? 
Some people are going to be REALLY excited about your wedding when you tell them. Enjoy those people. Have drinks with those people. Cherish those moments because they feel amazing. Just don't count on everyone reacting the way you wish they would - and that is OK (I swear, trust me on this - you're going to have to). It's your wedding, your life. Unless you have something to hide or some piece of shame/guilt/unease around the announcement, take any and all less-than-enthusiastic reactions with a grain of salt.  If you are nervous about telling someone just do it - the people I was most nervous about telling have turned out to be the happiest and most supportive. It was the people I didn't think I needed to worry about because I knew (know) how much they loved my partner and I that had the reaction above. So don't worry over things you can't control! Storms pass. People digest. If anything - feel bad for them! They are going to have to live with how they reacted to your incredible news for the rest of their lives. That's a tough and very heavy chain to bear. All you can do is not be bothered by it, continue to love them, continue to be the happiest bride or groom-to-be, and hope the guilt is not too much too bear later on for them.

Easy enough, right?

A first on the list - in the moment - announcement (one of very few).
Also, see, I texted! Its our day, our way.
Do what you want and how you want - as long as it makes you HAPPY!
Oh, one other thing. Don't get caught up in telling everyone right away. Tell the important people right away, the ones you want to hear their squeals of excitement (or texts of excitement!) first and as soon as you can - they add to the joy (unless they react less-than-enthusiastically in which case they can marinate on the fact that you wanted them to be one of the first to know and they let you down for eternity). Everyone else will find out in good time. Enjoy the moment(s). If you ever get tired of telling the story, just don't tell it. No one will hate you. In fact, people get it. They really do. And if they don't... well, you likely know how I feel.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


(actually, to be fair, it was more like one exclamation point)

Meet me. The A bride.
Yes, this was about, oh, 23 years ago.
Once an angel, always an angel.
And that is no offense to my amazing girlfriend (or "fiance" as people seem to coin it - all I can hear is a Seinfeld episode when I hear that word...), it's just that other than whole "two women" thing and "ashley-is-afraid-of-committment-based-on-a-myriad-of-past-relationships" thing no one was really all that surprised after four years.

That being said, this whole two females thing is really going to help put the "non" in non-traditional wedding planning. The whole thing has been quite confusing (and exciting!) already, and we are barely into this. I started to think about all of the "offbeat" decisions we would be making (and already had to make) and thought, "hey self, this seems like something you would a) love to share with the world and b) are going to have way to much fun with not to share with the world - or at least those who will stumble upon it." Let's be honest, my younger days as a world-renown blogger are long gone, and I miss them.

Did I say world renown? That might (might) be self-proclaimed. I was definitely a 19-year-old pretentious college girl moonlighting as any therapist's dream and any guy I got tangled up with's nightmare (and dare I say not all that surprising given the first complete sentence of this blog?). If that's not world renown, what is?

So back to the point of this fair blog. I am getting married to my lovely lady of almost four years. Turns out, even in the year the world will end (please don't stop reading because I said that, I'm not an idiot - come on) 2012, marrying a chica when you are also a chica is not muy facil. In fact, in this fine state of Colorado, it's not even legal! (Kind of absurd, right? If you don't think that is absurd, unless you really like getting upset, this probably isn't your kind of blog...) As such, I thought there are probably other people who, gay or not, also find the whole wedding planning business confusing. Since I am overjoyed and looking forward to this confusion and challenge, I thought I would document my process for all the wonderful people who like that sort of thing. Or, better yet, might actually be entertained by it. If you don't fall into one of those categories, that's cool too. Seriously. Unless, again, you don't understand the separation of church and state and think I shouldn't be getting "married" because you believe marriage is between a man and woman... in that case, start by educating yourself. Honestly, there like a bazillion places you could go to learn why hating on same-sex marriage doesn't make constitutional sense given separation of church and state. You may have to leave Fox News for a moment. Here is a simplified version of you might find: religious versus civil.

Fact: I'm getting married.
Fact: I'm marrying a woman.
Fact: I am also a woman.

You're caught up! Let's start with the first question every asks me (and trust me, sometimes the other person gets significantly more awkward than I ever could have hoped for or anticipated).

"So, ummm... how does that, er... I mean, so, who proposed to who? I mean, well, how does that, uh... work? You know? I mean, you know what I mean, right?"

my ring!

  • We (my girl and I) talked about this at length. At one point we said screw proposing let's just give each some rings and have a big ol' engagement party. Then we got a little sappy. I also really wanted to to include my mammacita in the planning and have her be "in the know" so we thought a little more carefully. I fell in love with a place that sold antique engagement rings years ago when I first moved to Colorado and always knew it was where I wanted to pick mine out at. To be perfectly transparent we even went up and looked at rings last June (2011) and sort of picked one out... However, between my left hand ring finger having sharp shooting pains the whole day and just a general feeling of uneasiness, we decided maybe we weren't (and by that I mean, I wasn't) quite ready for the whole really-big-deal commitment thing. So almost a year later, in late late February, we got in the car and headed back up to the "ring store" as we had started calling it. I was quite mortified to step foot back in there after having a ring on hold for almost a year... I mean, that's just cursing a marriage before it starts, right? My lady went in ahead of me, talk to the owners, found out the ring was no longer on hold (and likely gone forever) but cleared the air that two women were going to be looking for rings for each other. When they were totally on board I joined (I was down the street in a Christmas shop) and we had a lovely time of it. After quite awhile of looking through tray after tray, I wanted to give up on the old ring (you know, the one that gave me sharp, shooting pains?) and move on to new things.  The very first ring the woman found for me (thinking of the previous one's style) I fell head over heels for. A gorgeous, 1935 antique with an 1800s mine cut diamond. Gorgeous. My lady also fell in love with some bling (after finding a similar one that was not platinum and four times the price of what I had expected her to fall in love with...) and we were on top of the world. We got a monstrous and calorific fresh-baked white chocolate macadamia cookie and celebrated. It was our day the lesbian way (rhyming!). Just like something out of Cinderella, right? Wait until you hear the proposal story...
  • I planned the day. Red rocks, dinosaur ridge, and of course, a beautiful Colorado style hike. OH wait. It's March. Did I forget to remember that there is at least a few feet of snow still on the mountains in March out here? Yes. Red rocks was gorgeous - especially on a full stomach of homemade apple cinnamon pancakes. Dinosaur ridge made me feel like a kid (a good thing when my soul is eighty and likely takes the shape of Estelle Getty). The hike up Chief Mountain may have been a whole different ball game. First, we couldn't find the trail (the whole several feet of snow at 11,000 feet thing was nuisance). Eventually we found something that looked hike-able so I said let's go for it. Then came the abandoned four door sedan (totally stuck in 3-4 feet of snow) with rocks smashed through all the windows (and likely a dead body in the trunk - no, we didn't check). Next came the big SUV with a live person sitting in it... creepy as hell. Then the hundreds, and hundres, and hundreds, of shotgun shells and destroyed targets. Not to mention just a bunch of abandoned goods... creepy is definitely an understatement. Regardless, i had my bag of crackers, champagne, champagne flutes, cheese, and of course the ring slung over my shoulder and we weren't heading back til I put a ring on it (and so did she... seriously, I would have left her there). After climbing off trail and through some serious snow, we hiked up a short hill and found THE most gorgeous view... what I was hoping for. Did I mention very loud gun shots were very audible and likely very close by through all of this? They were. We proposed. We ate some herbes de provence. I may have said something terrible like "even though you're going to die first" in the midst of my surprisingly nerves-ridden proposal. It's OK, that's why she loves me, I'm ridiculous. The best part of the day? How happy my family was for us. Especially my brother. 
the view from the hike
You might be questioning your commitment to this blog right now. You should. There will be times in the future when I rant in a similar fashion. However, this was a lot of days and weeks in the making. From here on out I will stay on top of things so I don't have to cover so much time. That will keep me sounding more intelligent in my writing and your tendency to be distracted by shiny things to a minimum.

What's the moral of the story? 
Life doesn't have to play out like a fairytale to be perfect. I'm learning that along the way. I'm confident that this wedding planning process is going to help me really take that understanding to heart.  I plan to share everything from the emotional stories to the great tips and ideas I come across planning this shindig and managing my life at the same time. Hopefully it helps keep me sane, on track and might even help out some other not so traditional wedding planners out there. Or, even better, maybe I could get so damn good at this I could just BE a wedding planner? We'll find out soon enough.
happily ever after