Wed

Happy New Year, friends!

I took a little sabbatical from posting in the latter part of 2014 and there is good reason for that.

On October 25, 2014, I married my best friend and the most wonderful man I know. After almost two whole years of engagement, planning a wedding, and designing a honeymoon that we hoped would work out (and it did!), the misty ethereal imaginings of our ceremony and fancy party became a reality.

In terms of anticipation, my wedding day was my entire lifetime of Christmases combined. I just could not fathom how it would all be on the day of until I was experiencing it. And every person who gave me the advice that there would be things happening that were completely out of my control was absolutely right.

  • My dress wasn’t perfectly pin straight after being pressed.
  • We ended up taking a cab from the reception to our hotel because of a SNAFU with the limo company. It was late, it began to rain, and we were hauling all of our wedding paraphernalia into and out of a minivan taxi. Fun times.
  • I found out way later that someone had broken into our car the night before the wedding, something my very wise husband kept from me on the wedding day, as nothing was broken or taken. (My decision to not keep anything of value in our car paid off, at least.)

And you know what?

Courtesy of NBC Universal

In fact, it was the journey leading up to the wedding day that held a number of surprises I didn’t expect–many more than any small things that took place the day of.

Things like:

An imminent wedding brings out ALL the feels in everybody.
There is something about the acts of booking a reception hall, picking out invitations, dress shopping, cake tasting, photographer interviewing, and a million other details in this process that makes anyone who has ever gotten married much more emotional–and I mean every emotion on the spectrum. To be sure, it is a thrilling time. I had a ball during the major part of the last two years and have been touched beyond measure by people’s thoughtfulness and generosity.

But man alive, not only will you go from manic to drop-dead exhausted all in the course of minutes or hours, but anybody involved in the planning will also add his or her feelings into the mix, causing quite the Feels Party. It could be about an accessory, the location of a hotel, what kinds of favors to include in hotel welcome bags, or any number of issues a person has about the Wedding Day Schedule. The fact that my husband and I had two solid months of 2014 that weren’t devoted to wedding planning was the greatest gift of all, quite honestly. The relief that comes with not planning All the Things is indescribable.

The mother/daughter relationship in particular during wedding planning is one that goes through a special time. I won’t delve deeply on this particular topic but I will say that wedding planning can damage a relationship if it’s not a strong one. Let’s just say I am grateful that my mom and I emerged with lots of love, even if there were a few bumps along the way.

You try strange things you might never have otherwise.
As the weeks dwindled down, all kinds of thoughts entered my mind about my skincare regime. Since I no longer possess the youth of my twenties to afford me automatic dewy fresh skin on the day of my wedding, I was examining each pore, line, and freckle on my mug.  I have my usual daytime and nighttime routines but like anyone with their looks on their mind, I was paying attention to things that normally I would pass on by. Case in point: I read something about taking coffee grounds and using them as an exfoliant on one’s scalp and face. This struck me as a brilliant thing to try out.

Since we had just brewed some coffee not too much earlier in the morning, I piled some fresh coffee grounds into a bowl and placed it on the edge of the tub. I dumped a bunch of coffee grounds all over my scalp and began rubbing them in. I discovered that sure enough, they exfoliate. Boy, do they. However. The mess that coffee grounds make in the shower is shocking. They go ev-er-y-where. The entire shower from top to bottom was coated in little black flecks. Half the shower was spent chasing these little buggers down the drain and then making sure they were rinsed off my person and then I would have to start all over again with rinsing the tub.

I’m not sure I would keep this up on a regular basis since the clean-up is so time-consuming. I can say that after using a very small amount on my face, that it was extremely smooth after sloughing off the surface cells. As far as cheap scrubs go, I can’t really complain. I would probably caution against using coffee grounds in one’s hair, however, no matter what the experts say it’ll do.

In the end, I did not use coffee grounds on my face or scalp prior to the wedding. Oh and airbrush foundation and having someone do your full hair and makeup is absolutely fantastic. Oprah knows what she’s talking about when she says it’s one of the best experiences money can buy on a regular basis.

Despite the excitement, you can’t invite everyone you know, and those who fall into your Made It and Didn’t Make It lists will surprise you.
Both Kevin and I had some strong disappointments that certain folks couldn’t attend our wedding for one various reason or another. (Our wedding coincided with a TON of babies being born, for starters.) Nevertheless, we had the time of our lives, and the joy of the day dominated any lingering regrets we had about those who couldn’t be with us. One aspect of the wedding that I loved was hearing all the individual stories from people later about their personal experiences having attended. Stories would interweave with one another and I slowly put together this puzzle of what it was like to be one of our guests.

Another favorite was seeing how much fun people had and hearing it was an amazing time for them. As a person who takes pride in her hostessing, nothing makes me happier than hearing that all of the time and energy I spent on the details of this elaborate, expensive party didn’t go unnoticed, and in fact, were ultra appreciated. Never have my organizational and coordination skills served us better. Which brings me to….

Get used to “we” and “us.”
Despite having been in a relationship for years with the man I now call my husband, I’m much more conscientious of using the pronouns “we” and “us.” When I became married, I also became ultra conscientious of being one of an official couple and losing a little of the “I” in my identity. I now represent a family of two people, as does my husband. I find myself having to revert my pronouns when I get onto a “we” streak, because sometimes it doesn’t apply. It’s like, oh yeah, sometimes I’m just me.

Being super "we" and "us" makes me feel like Meg and Hamilton Swan sometimes.

Being super “we” and “us” makes me feel like Meg and Hamilton Swan sometimes.

The whole thing about wedding planning is, and it’s HARD to remember throughout, as long as you’re having fun and you are looking forward to seeing all of the details you’ve planned come to life, you will have a fantastic day. It’s been almost three months already since our day came and went, which amazes me, and I’m still processing and reliving one of the happiest times of my life.

If any of you out there are planning your own nuptials, all I can say is: savor, savor, savor.

ZK

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Lists for an Anniversary

balloon love

Photo courtesy of raspberrytart on Flickr

Come Monday, Zoe Says turns three! Wheee! August 8, 2008 was the inception of my storytelling via weblog and it’s been a heck of a ride. I began with the intention of seeing if I could blog for a year and the fact that it’s been three and I’m still going strong gives me such a feeling of accomplishment. Thanks to all who have been with me and enjoy reading what comes from my head and heart.

I don’t know if I have spoken very much about my love for lists and stats but I have a secret passion for them. For a creative person, I am “right-brained” enough to have a hard love for numbers. (Or is it left-brained? Anybody know?) I’m not saying I like to solve mathematical equations or anything à la Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting, but I enjoy working with numbers/figures as they pertain to money, and statistics as they pertain to blog/website hits.

I don’t have any stats for you today but for those readers who have just recently (and very kindly) subscribed to this petite blog, I decided to put together two “Top Ten” lists. One is very simple and lays out the top blog posts that have gotten the most reads. The second is a batch of my personal favorites. This way, you can catch up if you want over the weekend or just marvel along. It’s kind of cool to note what the public prefers over what my favorites are. Here we go!

Top Ten Twelve Zoe Says posts of all time based on pure stats:

  1. The Obligatory Courtesy Smile (by far – not even a competition)
  2. May: the month of a gazillion birthdays
  3. Let’s focus on what’s important: Britney’s comeback (This one has stayed strong and steady since 2009! The power of Britney.)
  4. Baker’s Dozen: We Know It’s the Holiday Season Because… (My very first Freshly Pressed post!)
  5. Sebastian Maniscalco: stand-up comedian, funny, Italian, metrosexual  (I have no idea what’s going on but this dude is POPULAR. People search for this guy DAILY and find this post.)
  6. The Acceptable Man-Purse: a.k.a. The Messenger Bag  (I get so many searches that end up hitting this post.)
  7. Literally, the most misused word
  8. My one-time experience at the Bloomingdale’s makeup floor
  9. Bottom line, these are awesome  (One of my personal favorites so I love that it has gotten all the way up to the top!)
  10. My Very Personal Relationship with HGTV (This one is in the top merely because another article has a link back to this and people flooded my page once reading about my thing for House Hunters and Mike Holmes.)
  11. Minty the Candy Cane – Obsessed! (Warning: the theme song will get stuck in your head!)
  12. Total Rant: to the people at Xerox who make my copier/printer/scanner/fax machine (People love reading a good old-fashioned rant and this one is no exception. I think it has to do mostly with the photo I put up from Office Space.)

Zoe Says a few of her favorite posts from the past three years in no particular order because she loves them equally:

  1. The Psychology of Tuesday
  2. Those Three Little Words
  3. VERBOTEN! Day 2
  4. Kringley, Jingley, Cookies and Trees, Gluttony, Family Gatherings and Obligatory Gifts: sounds like Christmas!
  5. Onions? Or…B.O.?
  6. If you don’t know what Tremors is, you’re insulting Kevin Bacon
  7. Please Reheat Responsibly
  8. My Stereotypically Midwestern Yet All-American, Comprehensive & Inappropriate Relationship with Ranch Dressing
  9. Signs I’m Over 30
  10. Sick Pen Obsession
  11. My primal, Sunday baking urge
  12. No. You didn’t SEEN anything.

Sebastian Maniscalco: stand-up comedian, Italian, funny, metrosexual

On the occasions when I need a break from work but have to remain at my desk, I go on to YouTube to browse any new comedy videos that a fellow comedian fanatic might have put up. Lately I’ve had a real affinity for watching two comedians from the Axis of Evil comedy tour,  those being Ahmed Ahmed and Dean Obeidallah. Seriously funny stuff. (Check ’em out!)

About a month ago, I was at home watching a standup comedy marathon on Comedy Central and I happened to catch a half hour special by Sebastian Maniscalco. I laughed loudly and heartily and had a feeling he was a strong up-and-comer. I didn’t know at that time that he was one of the comedians chosen by Vince Vaughn to participate in Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Tour. That’s going on the Must Rent list. And so, on one of the days that I needed a laugh break, I looked up some new clips of Sebastian on YouTube. The video clips posted were so funny that I went onto his website and dropped twenty fat ones to get his DVD.

It arrived via snail mail a week or so later, a handwritten return address on the top left corner (my post office is a convenient 15 blocks down the street from me – a real treat), and I watched it immediately. It’s only an hour long but it’s very well done, and much to my delight and surprise, his performance takes place in St. Louis! He’s originally from Chicago, so it sort of makes sense, but still. What’s up homies from the Lou?

The Arch in all its shining glory

The Arch in all its shining glory

But anyway. Sebastian’s persona is that of a macho, Chicago-accented Italian pretty boy. He comes off very close to New Yorkish but you can’t mistake his Midwestern accent. He’s very clean-cut and presents himself well; which he jokes about later when he talks about people who are slobbish when going to places like the grocery store (people like me who “roll out of bed and then [they’re] in the fruit section”). He prefers to scrub himself down thoroughly and put on six sprays of cologne, style his hair and then he’s ready to hit the food store.*

One of Sebastian’s strengths is that while he has the occasional dirty joke, he doesn’t saturate his material with them. I personally find that if a stand-up comedian can be hilarious without always resorting to talking about men and women and sex, s/he can consider him or herself successful. (Let me just insert that I am biased and think men make better stand-up comedians than women. I know, I know. It’s completely going against my own sex but I really do think men are funnier when it comes to this profession. However, people like Ellen Degeneres and Bonnie Mc Farlane give the guys a run.) Sebastian inserts the occasional nuts joke but nothing cringeworthy. Big kudos to you, Sebastian!

Speaking of Kudos, there’s a joke about Kudos snack bars in his act at the grocery store. Can’t miss it.

I watched the DVD on my own and then went over to my girlfriend’s apartment to watch it all over again while we munched on Mexican takeout. The second viewing solidified my decision to write a raving post about the guy. I don’t know if it’s because he’s Midwestern or not but I like that he’s not quite up to speed on all things technological. He refers to “new features” of cell phones like texting and accidentally activating the Web browser for his cell phone material. He then proceeds to compare the people at the gym who have all their music on their “Pods” (on the bicep, no less) to himself, who still wears a portable CD player on his waist. I mean seriously, how old school can you get? But the self-deprecating jokes are fantastic, even if there only a few.

One of Sebastians classic facial expressions.

One of Sebastian's classic facial expressions.

By far one of his best jokes is his “downtown Beirut” joke, referring to a cheap store relative to whatever city he’s in, this one being TJ Maxx. In this instance he is dead-on-balls accurate, since in St. Louis, TJ Maxx is absolutely a nightmare. It’s right up there with Marshall’s. Nothing is where it’s supposed to be, everything’s a mess and chances are, you’re saving money because whatever you’re buying is damaged, or as he refers to it, “irregular.”

Sebastian’s delivery is full of fantastic facial expressions, some physical humor (including the Beirut joke) and lots of sarcasm.

I won’t ruin all of the jokes for everyone but the material flows nicely from one joke to another, and he ends with one of his strongest, that being about Today’s Man. Hints: apple martinis, frappuccinos, flip flop sandals. See the YouTube clip at the end!

I rated his DVD “Going Up” (no idea where that comes from, unless he’s referring to his climbing the stardom ladder) four stars out of five, which is pretty high up there in my lowly opinion. I’m not a stand-up expert but I do consider myself an amateur connoisseur since paradise for me would  be a stand-up comedy marathon sprawled on comfy furniture with good friends and good drinks. I frequently seek out stand-up on my movie channels and Comedy Central, I love the show Last Comic Standing to see new faces and new material and I have even written my own jokes on the side, never to see the light of day.** I love going to comedy clubs but since it can be a pricey adventure, I don’t go very often. I’m content to stay home and laugh my boisterous laugh in the privacy of my home.

As to the “wrap the gift” joke that I refer to in the headline, I will leave that to you to find out on your own. It’s great advice and hilariously delivered.

See him. Decide for yourself. Support one of the next famous faces of comedy. Embrace the mirth. Since my YouTube clips keep getting pulled, go look for a current one to tantalize your funny bone.

*The phrase “food store” is something I had never heard of in my life before I moved to New York and dated a New Yorker. I even Googled search terms looking for it and if Google can’t come up with any relevant information for this phrase, pretty sure hardly anyone uses it except for said ex-boyfriend and his family. Oh and my friend Jim once used it. Maybe now it will catch on. I just say grocery store like most people.

**Note about me: I have incredible stage fright and while I can crack myself up at my own jokes, I would never be ballsy enough to actually perform them.