I bought my wedding dress. It was $350.
Most brides-to-be hunt down the “perfect” wedding dress with the same precision that they paint their toe nails — carefully, methodically, making sure to stay within the lines. With an average cost of $1,211, brides feel pressure to find a dress that looks good, is in style, is timeless and most of all makes you look better than your guests. That’s a lot of pressure for a dress you’re likely only going to wear once and for me it was too much.
Thank god my aunts and friends watch Say Yes to the Dress, because when I said I was going to start looking for my dress in August for an October wedding date, they all gasped like I was about to jump off a bridge. “Oh, no. You have to start looking NOW!”
So I made an appointment with David’s Bridal to go try on a couple of dresses I saw online that surely would look great on me. Why did no one tell me to pack Xanax and go alone? It was the most overwhelming thing I have done thus far for the wedding and hopefully it’s the last. A couple of notes to any girl who may be fantasizing about the day they try on dresses.
1. Everyone is going to see your boobs. Getting in and out of the dresses requires a lot of coordination, jumping, and smooshing, so you’re going to have to leave your pride at the door. At one point I flashed an old lady in the waiting area and had to say, “Sorry about that. I mean it’s not like you haven’t seen these before. You have two of them.”
2. Your guests don’t want to be there. Much like how your boyfriend dreads going with you to the mall because he’s stuck holding your purse and loitering around the women’s fitting room like a creeper, your guests (who all said they can’t wait to go with you) really want to leave. I never went to the prom, but I am guessing it’s a similar situation. Everyone thinks (including yourself) that you will try on 3 dresses, buy one, and then you’ll all go out for lunch. Wrong. I was sweating from trying on so many dresses and my mind changed 40 times about which style I liked, so even I didn’t want to be there after a while.
3. You’re going to feel crappy. No matter what you try on, not everyone is going to like it. Let’s face it, you’re there to put on a fashion show and let all of the hens judge the way you look. If you’re not mentally prepared for that, take a couple of shots before your appointment. Trust me, when your back fat gets squeezed and you’re told you need to “tone up” multiple times, you’ll wish you were drunk.
4. When in doubt, go conservative. I tried on this awesome, somewhat slutty gown that was $200. I’m a sucker for a deal. I tried it on several times and kept going back and forth about whether or not to get it. If I got it, I would be forced to lose all my winter weight and then some. Good motivation, but what if I didn’t lose it and on my wedding day people still thought I needed to tone up? Ugh. It was down to 3 dresses, so I had everyone secretly vote on their favorite. The slutty dress was the second place finisher. The winner (and the one I ended up buying that day) was something that I thought matched all the criteria 1. it looked good, 2. it’s in style, 3. it’s timeless, and 4. well, we’ll have to see about that.
This is the time of year when we read about what people are thankful for and judge them accordingly. I can list a number of mundane things that happen to me everyday that I am grateful for (like finding a matching pair of socks), but I thought I would share things that I am most thankful for that seemed like the end of the world when they happened.
I am thankful that my parents moved out of state
Usually the story goes — kid graduates high school, kid goes to college out-of-state, parents lament the loss of their child and try to compensate with impromptu visits, incessant calling, and the occasional gift package with money and Ramen noodles.
Not in my case.
Instead, my parents saw an opportunity for freedom and they jumped! From Ohio to Colorado. It’s pretty inspiring now, but not so fun for me then. I was 19 and didn’t know anything about anything. On a few occasions I needed my parents shoulder and a big hug, but I would never have said that to anyone. Are you kidding? Ask for help? Never!
Years later I look back on that time and tally up all of the grown up decisions I had to make on my own and I am so thankful I didn’t have someone there to hold my hand. Sure, having to do things on your own sucks, but I’m a tough old bat now and I don’t take much hassle from anyone. I’m proud of that. With my parents on the other side of the country I was able to make mistakes, make good and bad decisions, and make a life for myself that may not have happened if I had mommy and daddy five minutes away. When I have kids and no babysitter, I’ll probably think differently…
I am thankful that I didn’t get accepted to college
At the time I literally thought this was the end of my life. I worked somewhat hard in high school and dammit I wanted into college. Unfortunately, I chose a very competitive college and my grades were far from extraordinary. In order to go to my college of choice, I had to complete two semesters at the satellite campus and then transfer to main campus. I thought I was suuuuuuch a loser, but it just so happened that the satellite campus was five minutes away from my grandmother’s house.
And she was the best.
She was and still is the love of my life. Not in a creepy way. In a way that you have one person who knows the right thing to say, the right time to hug, the right time to tell you you’re wrong, and the right time to listen without judgement. That’s a rare gem that not everyone gets in life. I was lucky to have spent 23 years with someone who never made me feel like a burden and who also never took shit from anyone.
I miss everything about her. Even the way she said my name in the morning, which always pissed me off because I hate mornings. But more than miss her, I am so thankful that I was able to spend huge amounts of one-on-one time with her that, had I been accepted into college, may never have happened.
I am thankful that my boyfriend dumped me
I just celebrated three years of unwed bliss with said boyfriend. What some people may not know is that I referred to him as “the asshole” way before I renamed him “Boyfriend.” Our case was as simple as ‘right people, wrong time.’ I was in college and he was two hours away. I was a gross needy girl and he was a gross immature boy. You do the math. It didn’t work out on the first try.
What makes our case special is that we never lost sight of the true feelings we had for each other during “the first go-round.” Three years after the awful break up, and with a little help from our friends, we got back together. We had to grow up separate to come back together. It’s as simple as that. What I know now, is that had I not experienced the most excruciating break up (we’re talking full-on psychosis) at the time, then I would not know just how much he means to me now. I wouldn’t trade our cringe-worthy moments for anything now. Not even the time I drove by his house sobbing with “I can’t make you love me” playing in the car.
I am thankful that I hated my first job
I still laugh about how terrible my first boss was to myself and our team. Every day I went to work I thought about how much I didn’t want to be there. Not only was the work mundane, I realized within two months of my start date that it’s not what I wanted to do with my life. Who wants to check for periods and capitalization until they’re 60? Not me!
Even though I had a degree, I felt stuck. I was too young for a senior level job and too advanced to go back to my Dairy Queen gig (although it still is my most favorite job to date). After applying for a million jobs and getting crickets, I threw myself into figuring out what I did want to do — marketing and communications. When all else fails, what do you do well? That’s what I asked myself nearly everyday until I finally ripped off the band-aid and applied for grad school. It was the best professional decision I’ve made thus far. Within two years I got my Master of Science degree, doubled my salary, and found my passion in marketing. Not too bad. And I can thank my awful boss and that sad job for inspiring me to take a good look at my career and make a change.
Every once in a while the planets align and I go to the grocery store by myself. Boyfriend hates going to the grocery store because I talk about all the healthy foods we’re going to buy and ask him, “What are you having for lunch this week?” I should know by now, he doesn’t think that far ahead, so I always get an “I don’t know,” which always irks me. He also hates that I call it “the grocery,” but I think it’s perfectly fine.
Getting back to the point. The other night I remembered how much I LOVE going to the grocery without someone staring daggers through me silently begging to leave or to be shot on scene. I had forgotten how much fun it is to wander through the aisles, read all the labels, sample the cheese that’s been out all day, and pick up “new things to try.”
As I roamed Whole Foods, I found one such “new thing to try.” Actually it’s a pre-packaged version of a cereal I painstakingly put together after I watched Forks Over Knives, so I was thrilled when I found it. I am of course talking about Rip Esselstyn’s morning cereal known as Rip’s Big Bowl. If you’ve seen the movie, you’ve probably done your own version of the grocery scavenger hunt to find all the kooky ingredients needed for this recipe. If not, may I suggest you pick up a box, now stocked at Whole Foods.
Warning, if you’re backed up, don’t eat this cereal. You’ll die. I usually balk at the suggested serving size for cereal. I get out my giant soup bowl, fill it to the top, and go back for seconds. Which is what I did for this…
In the words of Vivian Ward, “Big mistake. Huge.” Half way through the bowl I thought I was going to puke, so I didn’t make it to seconds. The ingredients were hearty and filled me up with the quickness.
Eating it is a little like getting through your first beer. The first taste is terrible, but if you keep it at you’ll finish and feel great. I recommend using vanilla almond milk and a swirl of honey for your first time. No need to go balls out on the first go. Also, the serving size on the box says half a cup. That’s plenty. Trust me.
Much like everything at Whole Paycheck, this stuff is pricey ($4.99/box). But, it may be worth it to those of you looking for a low-calorie, quick and filling breakfast.
One of my best good friends told me about this free podcast on iTunes called Mental Illness Happy Hour. She didn’t say too much about it, just that she highly recommends it. Given that she and I both LOVE weirdos, self-discovery, and humor, I checked it out.
The intro to the podcast (hosted by Paul Gilmartin of Dinner and a Movie fame) is the following:
This is the mental illness happy hour. An hour of honesty about all the battles in our heads. From medically diagnosed conditions to everyday compulsive negative thinking. Feelings of dissatisfaction, disconnection, inadequacy, and that vague sinking feeling that the world is passing us by. You give us an hour, we’ll give you a hot ladle of awkward and icky. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling. It’s not a doctor’s office, it’s more like a waiting room that hopefully doesn’t suck.
Sign me up!
You’ll have to listen for yourself, but I will say that for anyone who’s felt like they’re alone in their crazy, this is the podcast for you.
According to the website, “The show is geared towards anyone interested in or affected by depression, addiction and other mental challenges which are so prevalent in the creative arts.”
…and my neighborhood/family/work.
The structure of this show is a conversation between the host and a guest that typically centers around the guest’s childhood, formative life events, and how they dealt with (or deal with) their own mental health issues. The stories they tell are revealing, macabre, and eye-opening. When I listen in, I usually either think, “Thank god my parents are not like that!” or “Are we twins?!”
Even more than the stories they tell, the most revealing part of the show are the “Fear Offs.” This is a tit-for-tat with the host and guest about their greatest fears. I’ll give you an example.
Host: I’m afraid of being that guy who doesn’t know he should never take his shirt off.
Guest: I’m afraid of home invasions.
Host: I’m afraid an opportunity will come and I’ll blow it.
Guest: I’m afraid of being wrongfully accused of a crime I didn’t commit.
You get the gist of why this is great. Basically whoever runs out of fears first loses. This gamelet is great because you find out that people really are completely effed up. There is no other way to say it.
When someone says, “I fear that my genitalia are ugly” you have to think do people really fear that?! I thought everyone’s are ugly. Thus, we’ve come to the crux of the show, you’re not alone, and someone out there is crazier than you. For a person who has thought many times like the fish out of water in life, this is the most liberating revelation ever: I may be crazy, but you’re a complete disaster…which is why I like you.
Imagine what it would be like if we started family dinner with a fear-off instead of a prayer (if you’re in to that)? Talk about cutting through the BS. Maybe we’d find all the commonalities in each family member that usually takes getting to 45 years old to figure out. There is comfort in feeling like you’re not alone.
If you’d like to have a fear-off with me, post yours below. I’ll start.
“I’m afraid of cats and birds, in that order.”
Ok, your turn!
We just got back from a trip to Vegas.
Maybe I should take a second to point out that I am a notoriously cheap person. It could stem from living on my own for 7 years and having to make sure I can 1. pay rent, 2. eat, and 3. have some sort of social life. Or, it could be that I come from parents who always made me think that we were one step away from the homeless shelter, so I rarely asked for and rarely received many hand outs. Either way, my cheapness knows no bounds, so when I heard I would be going to Vegas on business my first thought was, “AWESOME!” and my second thought was, “I can’t afford that!”
Jokingly, I posted a message to Facebook that said, “How long till I lose the $200 I brought for 4 days? #vegasrookie.” (Yes, I hashtag on FB, I think it’s funny.) But right after I posted it I thought, “Actually, that’s about all I want to spend so I’m going to see if I can make this work.” Turns out, I did make it work. Here’s how:
1. Turn Slots into a Game
The first night, Boyfriend and I hit up Planet Hollywood with the intent to hit the jackpot and coast for the rest of the trip. A friend’s brother recently hit it big on the slots, so I thought FOR SURE I would be able to retire by the end of 2012. Not so. In less than 5 minutes my $20 slots buy-in turned into $0 and I had a panic attack. “How the hell am I going to make $200 last in Vegas if I dropped $20 without even getting my first drink?!”
After the meltdown, Boyfriend saw the whole trip falling apart before his eyes. I’m sure he thought I would force him to stay in the room and watch free Showtime, so to avoid that he played right into the core of my being. “Let’s turn this into a game!” Gasp! “What a perfect idea!”
- Move from slot machine to slot machine every time you win. Don’t try to double up, don’t try to hit the jackpot, just celebrate the small wins.
- Make sure you’re vibing with the slot machine before you sit down. Let it call to you. Listen carefully.
- If you lose 3 times in a row on one machine, move on.
- Drink a lot.
The results: In 4-5 hours, we turned $20 into $60 at Plant Hollywood, $20 into $80 at Bellagio, $20 into $60 at Caesars. Of course we lost it the next day, but it was sooooo much fun…and it killed a day.
2. Eat and Drink Cheap
After all that gambling, you have to eat. If you’re a cheapo like me, prepare yourself ahead of time. There are very few options for cheap food. I recommend pizza. Almost every hotel has it and you can sustain on pizza and free alcohol for at least one day. Probably more. We hit up the buffet ($60 for two people) and The Earl of Sandwich ($5/sandwich) a couple of times and it was plenty. Make no mistake, next time I’m there, I’m bringing extra food money because there is so much fancy shmancy food to choose from. While Vegas known for free drinks when you gamble, there aren’t a lot of cocktail waitresses that want to chase you around the casino (see Turns Slots into a Game) to give you a free drink. Think ahead and hit up Walgreens for some booze and mixers. Pregame in the room, then hit the casinos.
3. Don’t Gamble During The Day
Thankfully, I was in Vegas on business so I had a 9-5 packed schedule of conference meetings to attend. So for the majority of the days, I couldn’t gamble. I highly recommend finding something else to do during the day. Vegas is full of all sort of great people watching, poolside sitting, and shopping for stuff you can’t afford. I recommend busying yourself with other activities and waiting until at least 5 pm to start throwing your money away. Plus all the crazies come out at night and they’re lots of fun to compete with for table space/slot machines.
4. Play Roulette
On the last night of our trip the score was me -$150 and Boyfriend -$200. We decided to take our home turf for everything it had. One tip we picked up along the way is that roulette has some of the best odds in Vegas. We chose to play red or black only. Yes, we could pick numbers and win more, but it’s pretty sweet when all you have to do is pick a color and double up. The video machines are the best way to play roulette because it shows you the last few rolls, which we used to inform our color choice. More often than not it paid off.
At the end of the trip, I was still down $150 but Boyfriend came home even (he’s ballsier with his bets than me). Not too bad for 4 days in Vegas.
On a side note: We were obsessed with our hotel room. Check it out!