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End of Season Clearance

This year’s wedding season is over and I’ve walked away with a lot of memories, apricot jam,  Indian cookies and a wooden item that I’m pretty sure is either a letter opener or a shoehorn (I’ve been using it as both).

The weddings we have attended have been near and far and incredibly diverse. There was an Indian wedding complete with a horse on the guest list, a Montreal extravaganza with original songwriting and interpretive dance numbers, a chic black tie affair and an old-fashioned clam bake. And the best part was, we only had to show up. Here are the highlights from each event:


Men In Black

One of Sebastien’s work colleagues invited us to a black tie wedding at the New York Palace Hotel. Super chic. I’m pretty sure the dress code for regular hotel guests is black tie, too. Fortunately we followed protocol and had no trouble at the door. Sebastien rented a tux and I just wore my wedding dress again. (Getting a blue wedding dress was the best idea ever.) When we arrived however, it seemed that other guests believed the black tie to be optional. One girl was wearing a plaid dress from H&M and several guys were in the basic suit and tie. I hoped that they would get formally reprimanded by the hosts.

Here we are, appropriately dressed

Here we are, appropriately dressed

The majority of the guests were either Harvard or MIT grads and they were mostly interested in asking me what I did and then looking unimpressed. I was mostly interested in practicing my extremely limited Japanese on the sushi chefs at the cocktail hour, though.

A guy named Pete asked if he could join Sebastien and I at our table. He was another MIT grad, but he was pretty cool. (I don’t think he would even register on the autism spectrum.) Pete lived between Boston and New York and owned his own company. Something financial. I zoned out when he and Sebastien talked shop. Pete lived in Berlin for a while and traveled around a lot, so we all found a common interest. I told him about the time I took my dad to China. “Be prepared when you’re traveling to Asia with a senior citizen,” I said. “Two hours after we landed in the country, my dad managed to lose all of his insulin. And he kept leaving his cane all over the place.”

At dinner, Sebastien was seated beside a woman with incredibly bad breath so we spent as much time as possible on the dance floor. It was at this wedding that I learned I could no longer wear heels.


Buddha Belly

As traditional as I’ve heard Indian weddings can be, this one was probably the most relaxed and unstructured wedding that I have ever attended.

It started outside, where we followed the groom who rode in on a horse. Most people danced around. I stood on the sidelines fanning myself because you could do that if you wanted. (If I had known ahead of time, I might have even stayed in the air conditioned lobby with the croissants and coffee because you could do that, too.)

Then we all went to the country club balcony to find our seats for the ceremony. I’m not really sure what went down during the ceremony because there was so much going on. The bride and groom and priest were talking under a canopy-like structure called a mandap while kids played in the garden and guests chatted with one another. A lot of people were on their phones or looking down at newspapers and servers kept stopping by with mango lassis and water I couldn’t keep up with what section of the ceremony we were on, but every now and then we were encouraged to get up and throw rice at the bride and groom.

Then in the middle of the ceremony, a voice came on the loudspeaker and announced that the buffet was open. Right in the middle of the couple dancing around some rice or placing jewels on one another’s forehead or something. Sebastien and I looked around at the other guests to make sure this wasn’t a trick. Sure enough, everyone — family members, friends, acquaintances — shuffled into the reception hall to eat while the bride and groom finished up. It was so refreshing that for once we didn’t have to feign interest in a religious ritual. (I mean it’s cool if that’s your thing, but let’s be honest, that’s the most boring part of a wedding.)

The food was amazing and we hung around and chatted with some friends. After lunch, there was a four hour break until the evening when the wedding picked up again. But we only had a rental car for the day and couldn’t stay. On the way back I got to practice driving a bit, which was awesome. And I parallel parked.


Do you take this lobster

The second we entered Cape Cod I harassed Sebastien until he stopped at a roadside diner so I could get a lobster roll. I thought it was going to be my only chance. Boy was I wrong.

I ordered a monster of a sandwich, which, by the way cost $18. Is it just me or does that seem a little ridiculous? I was in Cape Cod so I figured that the lobsters there just walked ashore and accidentally fell into boiling pots of water. Then we got changed at a motel that reminded me of the place John Cusack’s character stayed at in “Identity.” I hoped that our evening would turn out better.

And it did.

Going in I knew this wedding was filled with more Harvard grads so I had already planned on passing myself off as a cat whisperer if anyone asked what I did for a living. (It wasn’t a total lie. We foster kitten and I do have a way with them.) But it never came up. The ceremony was short and I spent most of the cocktail hour talking to a really pregnant woman. She was telling me about ridiculous hospital procedures in NYC. For instance, she was told that she had to show up at the hospital with a car seat to take the newborn home in or they wouldn’t discharge her. “We don’t even have a car because we live in the city, but I need to buy a car seat so I can take my child home.”

When we all sat down for dinner, servers handed out bibs, wet wipes, crackers and tiny forks. A pot bigger than me was wheeled into the dining hall and we all got our very own lobster. I took a romantic photo with my lobster, which I named Manfred, before devouring him.

The lobster and I

The lobster and I

I also used the opportunity to tell everyone at our table about the history of lobsters and how they used to be a poor man’s food. “Lobsters are the cockroaches of the ocean,” I said, sucking flesh out of the claw.


It’s a Small World

The last wedding of the season was Sebastien’s cousin’s in Montreal. Berenice is Polish and Haitian and her husband to be is German and Indian. So there were guests from all of those countries. Then there were a number of Brazilians in attendance because Sanjay, the husband, spent some time living in Brazil. My brain was pretty fried by the end of the night bouncing from language to language. And so many of the bride and groom’s friends were artists who all put on great shows. We had a belly dancer, a Brazilian band, a few singer-songwriters and a poet who read to us in multiple languages.

Since it was assumed that we were all  artists, someone announced that we should draw pictures in the guestbook. I drew a picture of a bunny rabbit with arms that looked like boobs. I didn’t know how to fix it so I just signed Sebastien’s name underneath. (At least it was better than how Sebastien and I defiled another friend’s wedding guestbook with random, bizarre phrases and sentences. I filled a page writing Redrum. On another page I wrote, help I’m trapped in this book and I cant get out.)

I didn’t see a cameraman once during the reception and was worried that there wouldn’t be any documentation of Sebastien and I enjoying ourselves, so we asked Sebastien’s sister to capture us having a good time.


Showing our table mates that we're ready for candid photos of people having fun.

Showing our table mates that we’re ready for candid photos of people having fun.


All and all it was an awesome summer of weddings. Please invite us to more.



The Humility and Humiliation of Slippers

On our second day in Japan I learned why old people walk so slowly: because of their damn slippers. The flimsy plastic shoes offer little or no protection or support and some don’t even stay in place — like every pair of slippers that exists in Japan.

When we arrived in Kyoto we checked into a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn with public baths, no beds and nothing to eat besides fish. The moment we stepped inside a Japanese man came charging towards us. I thought he was going to tell us that the building was on fire. Instead he just wanted us to take off our shoes before entering the hotel.

The Japanese are obsessed with taking their shoes off as much as American women are obsessed with thong underwear. In Japan there are cubbyholes everywhere for people to leave their shoes before changing into slippers. Sometimes you have to take the slippers off again to sit down for dinner or go into the public bath. You’re even expected to change into a different pair of slippers just to sit on the toilet.



We all took off our shoes at the entrance and put on the troll-sized slippers that forced us to walk at a slower, more humble pace.


And I hated it just as much as I hated being forced to wear slippers when I was a kid.

Growing up, my stepfather Stuart always insisted that we wear slippers in the house. He claimed that the sweat from our feet dirtied the carpets. I thought we could solve the problem by turning on the air conditioner because, after all, we lived in South Florida. But Stuart said it cost to much and instead splurged on $3 slippers from Payless for all of us.

Whenever we heard Stuart coming down the hallway at home, his slippers slapping against feet, we would run and hide in the nearest bathroom or closet so we didn’t have to endure his wrath. He is an older man, very set in his ways and never cared much for children or friendly greetings. If Stuart is ever made into a pull string talking doll, his phrases will include: Go to your room, Clean the dishes, and Where are your slippers? Whenever my sisters and I had sleepovers, he would impose his tyrannical rules on our friends, too. I remember one sleepover when my friends and I were running around the living room hopped up on sugar. Stuart came storming into the room and just stared at us with disgust. He stood there, sucking on his teeth before noticing that we were all barefoot. We’d just finished giving one another pedicures, but he didn’t care. His nostrils flared and he started yelling at all of us to put slippers or socks over our disgusting feet. We spent the rest of the night sweating in our red-stained socks, terrified that he would yell at us again. Most friends never returned.


That night in the ryokan, after relaxing in the onsen in the public bath, I fought off the urge to walk barefoot back to my room. The slippers were so tiny and uncomfortable and I kept slipping and stumbling as I made my way through the quiet halls. It didn’t take long before I started walking with a slight hunch just like Stuart. I placed my hand on my lower back because I was afraid to fall and break my hips or something. And even though I tripped a few times on my way back to my room where I was to sleep on the floor, I fortunately never hit anything because the Japanese are even too humble for furniture.


Are You Confident?

Sebastien and I just returned from a vacation in Japan.


When we arrived in Tokyo we met our friends Steve and Amy at our hotel and went out for some ramen. Amy said that the noodle shop we were going to was one of the best in the city. At that point I was so jet-lagged that I didn’t care if the food we were going to eat came out of a garbage can. I just wanted to fill my belly and crawl into bed.

There was no hostess to seat us when we entered the shop nor a waiter to take our order. Instead we fed money to a machine then pushed in buttons to indicate what we wanted on our noodles. It was as simple as buying a bag of chips in a vending machine except everything was in Japanese and the tiny, faded pictures beside each button didn’t offer much help. I chose by way of eenymeenyminey, moe and the machine spit out a ticket. Then we headed to a booth in the back of the shop to sit and wait.  We could hear other voices around us through the paper thin walls, but we couldn’t see anyone.

A panel to the right of our table opened and a man started shouting at us in Japanese. Sebastien and I looked at one another terrified and handed him our tickets as a peace offering. We hoped that  he would know what to do from there. If nothing else, perhaps he would use the paper to make origami birds, I thought.

Steve, a Brit who met Sebastien as a child in Canada, started laughing once the cook disappeared behind the door. “Are you guys having fun yet?” he said. “You’re smiling and nodding and you don’t have a damn clue what they’re saying.”

He was right.

On the plane ride from New York I thought it would be good to learn a few common Japanese words, but I got distracted by all of the in-flight movies. Around hour 12 on the plane I decided to review my Japanese language app. There were the usual words like hello and thank you, but I became obsessed with one phrase in particular: Are you confident? I imagined saying that to the pilot after he announced that we would be making our final descent or saying it to a tour guide after they confirmed the way up the mountain.

But who was I kidding? As I sat in that noodle shop with Sebastien, Steve and other Amy, that phrase became a rhetorical question that would haunt me throughout our trip. Because I was unsure about everything.

For two weeks we toured the country like miming bobbleheads, exaggerating our gestures to ask for the nearest bathroom or Starbucks and nodding profusely once we thought we understood what people were saying. We couldn’t read street signs when trying to locate areas of interest and we gave up on adjusting the thermostat in hotels, resigning ourselves to the fact that our room for the night was either a water-less onsen or an igloo.

By the second week, our language skills improved enough to say thank you: arigatou gozaimasu, and yes: hi. Most of the hotels had staff that could understand us fairly well, so long as we didn’t ask for anything more complex than our room key.

At one hotel in Tokyo, Sebastien asked the clerk where the gym was. The man scrunched his face to indicate confusion so we pantomimed pumping iron and I showed off my meager muscles. We were relieved once we saw the glimmer of recognition on his face. He started typing on the computer and then retrieved a binder underneath the desk.

When he returned to the computer and started printing things out, I became suspicious. “I don’t think he’s giving us information about the hotel gym,” I said. I was very confident about this.

A few minutes later the clerk walked back towards us with a stack of papers in his hand. It turned out that there wasn’t a gym in the building, so he gave us information on the nearest fitness center. Again, this information was in Japanese.

“Arigatou gozaimas,” Sebastien and I said in unison, making use of our only learned phrase. As we were leaving I grabbed the stack of papers and turned to Sebastien, “If nothing else we could burn the paper for heat if it gets too cold in the room tonight.”



Portlandia, Cool Wedding

I’m just glad that someone finally understands me.


As is the case with most couples, I let down my guard when I moved in with Sebastien. I would openly emit PDGs (Public Displays of Gas) and I had no shame if he entered the room when I was elbow-deep in a nose pick. It gave us an opportunity to witness one another’s idiosyncrasies and decide if this was really what we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with. I personally think this method is a lot better than the old go steady for a few years and move into a newly bought house on the night of the wedding. Imagine if you move in with the guy and then discover that he’s a blood sucking vampire or that he prefers to spend his evenings dancing around to polka music in his underwear. Don’t think it can’t happen.

For the most part I’d say Sebastien and I are transparent about how we live our lives. But there are still some things he doesn’t know about. And I do hope to take them to the grave.

I still don’t understand what he does for work. Something to do with computers. When he brings up computer viruses and algorithms at dinner I usually imagine microorganisms attacking The Letter People.

I like Star Wars episodes 1, 2, and 3 more than 4, 5, 6. (I anticipate a lot of flak from his friends that are reading this.)

I will probably never run for president of the U.S. He’s got some weird fantasy of that happening.

I do not actually know how to speak Klingon. A quick google search usually provides the right Klingon response to his bizarre text messages. And it always seems to amaze him.

I keep stashes of cookies and candies strategically placed around the house so I won’t have to share.






The Art of Communication

Amy: “Do you think we should spend $125 on a phone conversation with a premarital counselor?”

Sebastien: “No.”

Amy: “Okay.”


Save the Blogpost

We’re in the midst of finalizing the wedding date and location, so I told Sebastien that we should plan on sending out save-the-date cards because that’s just what every married person and wedding planner and wedding planning website advises.

“What are those?” Sebastien said when I mentioned the idea.

“You know, cards that you send out before the wedding.”

“But isn’t that the invitation?”

“Well, sort of, but this is different because you have to send them out right away.”

“Why?” Sebastien could tell that I didn’t really know what I was talking about.

“Because that’s what they say. You have to let people officially know that you are getting married.” I thought I made a pretty good case, but it only egged him on.

“But that’s an invitation.”

He had a good point so I dropped the idea.

For those who were expecting something in the form of a save the date, I managed to whip something up.

Here are some other fun save the dates I found.

Austin Wedding Blog (people from Austin rock)

Hall of Fritz

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