Let they who cried raise their hands

*raises hand*

Happy tears. So many happy tears.

Why, you might ask? Well, the fiance is now the husband. My husband, to be exact. There are many like him, but this sharply-dressed, ever-surprising, and very loving man is mine.

I was going to go over the day in a little more detail, but I think a list of my favorite moments is better.

First, three of our close (and mutual) friends helped us get our reception area set up, and the gentlemen did so wearing their formal wear! (Our female friend was sensible and brought her dress to change into.) One friend, who I will refer to as the True Scotsman for his Scottish formal wear (yes, including a kilt!), masterminded putting our initials in lights on the stage. He also drove the other two to Safeway for Chinese food (“Chickadoodle, what do you want?” “…An eggroll?”) and some salad for lunch.

In return, I braided the True Scotsman’s hair. Well, actually, I do that anyway. Everytime. (“True Scotsman, where’s your hair tie? I’m braiding your hair.” *hands it over*)

The True Scotsman and our other two friends (Mr. Fancypants and Ms. Marvel-ous for this post) also got in on some of our pictures, including a few Sopranos-esque pictures in our dimly lit waiting studio. (Our photographers were fabulous, by the way, and every once in a while, we got “LIKE YOU LIKE EACH OTHER, GUYS!” during our photos.)

The ceremony is a favorite chunk of moments. From the walking in, to everyone expressing their support, to my now sister-in-law doing the reading, to the saying of the vows (“I think you just made everyone cry” –our officiant), to the kiss… it was wonderful. Seeing so many happy faces as we walked in and out made my day. Friends and family had come from miles away–some across the country, some I hadn’t seen in years–and it was like we’d never been apart.

In the quiet time we stole after signing our certificate, some appetizers were brought in for us, and the husband applied bandages to some blisters I’d gotten at the rehearsal dinner. (Normally, I’d have done it myself, but 15 pounds/several yards of very puffy dress and petticoats did make that a little more difficult.)

I tried to talk to everyone before dinner. I didn’t get to, but there were plenty of precious moments then, too, including a male friend (Very Tall Guy) expressing his desire to have my dress. (Not entirely sure he was kidding…) Another friend (Exuberance Personified) proceeded to rather lovingly hug-strangle the husband while proclaiming his happiness. I got to reconnect with the friends I hadn’t seen in so long. There were family pictures. I got to see two lovely young ladies who I’d watched when we were all younger, as well as their parents, who are amazing and wonderful people in their own right. A cousin’s toddler daughter was fascinated by my dress.

Dinner kind of flew by, though we did get to eat, which was, y’know, good. Unfortunately, my headache had resurfaced by that point, but about ten different people offered medicine of various kinds, and my oldest brother and a family friend double-teamed me with a shoulder and scalp massage, and my mom took my hair out of its pins. (Thankfully, we’d done all the “official” stuff by that point.) Before that, a friend (Blue-Haired Beauty) exclaimed from her table about writing on so many of the little strips left to give advice to us, “Guys, I think I have a problem…”. My dad and Ms. Marvel-ous gave rousing speeches, and I cried. Again.

We had our first dance and cut the cake (which was amazing, let me tell you). Then, the party really got into full swing. By some miracle of luck and a bit of collaboration, after we figured out that dancing on the stage wasn’t great (there were no speakers on the stage, and it was HOT), we were able to pull the tables on the ground aside to create a dance floor, and a lot of great dancing happened. My dad, as expected, totally got into it. Some friends danced with my cousins’ kids, which was adorable. Very Tall Guy and Ms. Marvel-ous pulled off a show-stopping and un-rehearsed “Shut Up and Dance” routine. A bunch of people joined us for the Cupid Shuffle. (And our amazing informal MC/DJ did a great job of rearranging our playlist to make it work. Can’t thank that guy enough…)

For as much fun as we were having, though, we were exhausted (I woke up at 5:30 that morning… and never managed to get back to sleep!), and when the towncar showed up 45 minutes early, the husband and I decided that everyone could enjoy the rest of the party, but we needed corgi pictures and sleep, and I needed a while to brush my hair out and get the pound or so of (quite gorgeous) makeup off my face.

Naturally, we didn’t make our escape unscathed–there were many noisemakers. The loving chorus of dying goose noises filled the night as we sped away, blissfully gazing into each other’s eyes.

And now, we’re honeymooning in Victoria. (This time, we remembered not to bring apples across the border…) It’s been one hell of a journey, but, sitting next to the husband–my husband–I know it’s going to be one heaven of a marriage.


Chickadoodle’s Dinner for Two… err, the Family #4

So, the boyfriend and I staged a meeting of the parents recently. No, we’re not getting married anytime soon, but people get curious after two and a half years. The boyfriend’s mom had met my parents after a series of unfortunate events last summer (though the meeting was not one of them)—long story short, the boyfriend’s car broke down in a really scary part of town at midnight, so my mom came to rescue us, only to deliver the news that my dad had been in a nasty bike/car (he was on the bike) accident earlier that day and had suffered what turned out to be a type V or VI AC separation. He was otherwise relatively unscathed, and his helmet undoubtedly saved his life (See, kids? Wear a freakin’ helmet!), but he was bruised for months afterward and recovery was not pretty. The boyfriend’s mom picked him up the next morning, and we bribed her to stay and sit a spell with Betty Crocker’s French breakfast muffins. It worked. Nobody can resist French breakfast muffins!

ANYWAY, neither of my boyfriend’s parents had encountered my parents when my parents weren’t a) preoccupied with a husband with an AC separation and b) hopped up (well, just really mellowed out, actually) on painkillers for said AC separation. My parents mostly knew the boyfriend’s parents by reputation. (True story: the boyfriend’s dad was part of a segment on the radio program “Marketplace” about a year ago. My dad, upon hearing the boyfriend’s dad’s name, popped around the corner from making dinner and grinned at me. My mom walked in the door 10 minutes later with a “So guess who I heard on the radio?” Marketplace is kind of a big deal in our house. So sue us.) I’m not entirely sure what the boyfriend’s parents knew of mine other than what I’d told them.

BUT REALLY, I wanted to cook to impress. Having just come across a pretty awesome recipe in our local blood center’s “Give Twice” cookbook (give twice between June and the beginning of October; get a free cook book!), I thought, “you know, this is a really good idea!” The boyfriend, who’d already had the fortune of sampling the dish, rather agreed.

So, I present to you, Chicken Vesuvio à la Chickadoodle.

The original recipe calls for 4 halves of boneless/skinless chicken breasts cut into bitesize pieces. To feed 6 people somewhat heartily, it took about 6. (There was a little left over, but not much, I tell ya!) You also need:

*~2 lb red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bitesize chunks as well.
*3-4 tbsp dried parsley
*1 tsp garlic powder
*3-4 tsp oregano
½ – 1 tsp crushed rosemary
~2 tsp dried basil
a pinch of dried bay leaves
~1 tsp lemon juice
*3-4 tsp table salt
*½ – 2/3 c. olive oil

(*original ingredient, except that the garlic powder was garlic cloves)

In a skillet, brown the chicken. If you are cutting still semi-frozen chicken while browning one batch as I did, a boyfriend is rather helpful in making sure the chicken doesn’t burn, catch fire, or otherwise explode. The original recipe says to toss that and the potato pieces into a bag with the other ingredients to coat them, but I just stuck them in the dish I baked them in and coated them there (making sure to put the coating on top, as opposed to creating it beforehand, which you can do with the bag method).

Cover and bake at 325 F (or maybe a little higher…) for 1 hour, or until potato pieces are soft (read: edible).

Serve with crusty French bread and salad, paired wine optional. (A nice cab sauv will do.) Follow it up later with some two-topping peach crisp, the recipe for which I may or may not post later. The boyfriend and I couldn’t figure out which topping we wanted to use (mine was shortbread-like, his more of a brown sugar-y, oatmeal-y masterpiece), so we halved each of our recipes and had a contest. They both won.

Hell, the whole dinner was a win, both in terms of food and company, and I’m glad of it!

Panic attacks suck, and so does trying to explain them

When I tell people I have the occasional panic attack, this is usually met with one of two reactions. The first, something along the lines of “Well, aren’t you diagnosed/treated?” (Answer: no—I’ll get to why in a while) usually leads right into the second: “You just want attention.”

No. No, I don’t. I feel like I freak when I’m shaking uncontrollably, when I’m having trouble breathing, when I tense up to keep myself from passing out, when I start having tunnel vision. It’s embarrassing to have attention paid to me for it, and it’s incredibly distressing when nobody seems to notice. (Incidentally, more often than not, people seem not to notice.) It’s not something I’d imitate for the fun of it, knowing how it feels. The fact that I don’t get them all that often makes it even scarier, even though I know what triggers them: stress (which should be no surprise) and being physically off-balance for an extended period of time.

I’ve never had exceedingly poor balance, but ever since I was little, I’ve always had something a little weird with my balance. I remember vividly reading a pediatric chart (when my records were being transferred from one provider to another) saying that I couldn’t balance properly enough to do the “duck walk” when I was a toddler—something I should have been able to do with ease. I can do it now, but it’s still a little tricky, and I don’t always get it right. However, as I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed that I get motion-sick more easily. I don’t enjoy riding in elevators, especially high-speed ones, because the sudden acceleration and deceleration throws me off.

This quarter, I’ve had a class in a room where the podium and projection screen are on a raised platform. For seven of the ten weeks of the quarter, I sat up front during class. However, between needing to look between my notes and the screen constantly, the up/down motion, combined with the seats being constructed in such a way that I feel as if I am falling backward by sitting in one, I’ve been reeling every day. I would come out of the class sore and tense from trying to hold myself in the position that made me feel least like I was falling. I would have trouble concentrating because I was trying to find a position to hold myself in. One day recently, I stopped trying to do that, and all hell broke loose. The shaking started, my vision started to gray at the edges, I felt like I couldn’t breathe because my body was so focused on trying not to fall backward even though I knew I wasn’t.

Since then, I’ve been sitting in the back of the classroom, which is raised slightly above the level that the podium rests on. I still feel a little like I’m falling backward, but I have to sit more toward the front of my seat, which seems to be a little more level. I haven’t had a problem since.

And it’s not just that classroom. I don’t like movie or IMAX theaters for the same reason. Sitting in the car can be uncomfortable at times.

Even though this has been going on for eight years, I’ve never been diagnosed with or treated for an anxiety disorder. The closest thing was realizing that a mild lactose intolerance was causing constant stomach upset (and thus, anxiety) in my freshman year of high school—after learning that and cutting back, the frequency of panic attacks dropped to what it is now: infrequent. They don’t occur on a schedule; they occur when triggered, and, other than sitting in that classroom, I never really know when that possibility will come up until I’m already in the environment.

I’m not anxious all the time—not even half. While my worries can get out of control, it’s easy enough to talk me down. I don’t think I need to be treated for that. As for my balance problem, I should probably get that checked out, but it’s so mild that I’m not sure anything can or even should be done for it. But just because a doctor hasn’t handed me a jargon-y diagnosis doesn’t mean my experiences aren’t real. I know saying that is a slippery slope; that I could totally be lying, so I guess I just have to ask people to trust me when I say I’m telling the truth. It’s been hard to explain why I’m not sitting up front anymore because I don’t have a handy diagnosis that I can just spit out whenever I get asked why I’m having a panic attack, or why I’m doing something to prevent one, and it’s clear that there are a lot of people who don’t believe me, some to the point that they’re probably thinking something else is wrong with me. It sucks, but, in the end, their beliefs about what I’m saying are their choice, and my coping methods are mine. It’s not that I’d rather cope than have friends—I’m just much easier to be friends with when I’m not busy trying to calm myself down.

Friends Are

There are a lot of ways to describe friends, to say what friends really are. You could use the dictionary definition. You could probably come up with something comparable on your own. You could say “friends are like” and compare your friend to some character in a book or show or movie. Still, that doesn’t capture the full picture. Like “love”, “friends” are very hard to define. (This is not coincidence, in my opinion.) There are certain things abot friends that escape the traditional Merriam-Webster/OED/Roget/etc definition. Here are a few I’ve learned through the past 22 years:

Friends are the people you can tell “I’m morally offended by [something silly]”, and they will roll with it. At the same time, you can tell them your deepest, darkest secrets and fears, and they will accept you for who you are, warts and all. They will make fun of you, of course, but in a way that makes you not feel so bad about all these things. Sometimes, they will say, “Oh, I knew that already”, and just keep on going.

Friends are the people who will conduct a scientific experiment to see how many different noises you make when poked. They will dance with you like nobody’s watching, and will teach you how to dance. They will stay up all night talking with you about everything, no matter how silly or serious it gets, and neither of you will regret it. Hopefully, you will make each other see at least one thing in a different light after that.

Friends are the people who don’t understand what the hell your homework means, but will sit through your long-winded, profanity-laced tirade about why your homework should work but doesn’t until you go “OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH…” They won’t understand why it now works, either, but they’ll be happy for you, and happy that they don’t have to listen to you whine any longer.

Friends are the people who tell it to you straight, who will tell you that you don’t look good in that neon yellow jumpsuit and you really shouldn’t embarrass yourself like that. They will tell you when your current significant other is wrong for you, will try to get you to break up, and will still stand by you no matter how it ends. They will also tell you when you’re the one in the wrong, and how to make better decisions.

Friends are the people who will take horrible, embarrassing pictures of you and remind you of them for years to come. They will also take pictures of themselves making funny faces to put on a birthday card.

Friends are the people you know you can trust, no matter what. Through silliness and seriousness, they are by your side.