House Update

Our contractors are finally finished. They cleared out 2 days before we got married. We will be giving them their final payment on Monday and then not only will we be done with contractors but we will also be done with NACA and the HAND department. Hallelujah!

Even though we are now free from having to share our living space with dirty contractors and their even dirtier materials and equipment, our house is far from done...

Besides the massive cleaning effort that has been taking place every weekend, there's still missing pieces that will have to wait for funding. Like the master bedroom flooring. And the basement flooring.

But there are also things that still need to be done, that we just haven't had the motivation to start yet. Like taking the lovely wallpaper down in the dining room, then patching, sanding, priming and painting those walls. Ugh. And painting the dining room ceiling. And painting a second coat in the master bathroom as well as installing towels bars and such. Oh, and installing switch plates in the kitchen.

I swear, our To-Do List is approximately 1.7 miles long.

My latest "project" has been unpacking and organizing our massive collection of books.

I have this sickness. A sickness that involves acquiring many books and then never getting rid of any. It's quite a serious affliction.

We have one built-in bookcase next to the fireplace in the living room. Beyond that, we need to set up our other bookshelves. BUT, we are currently sleeping in the room we intend to make the office. And we can't move out of our sleeping room until we get flooring in our master bedroom. It's all very complicated.

The one room in our house that feels ALMOST completely done is our kitchen. The only thing we "need" to do is install new switch plates. Would it be nice to update the cabinet hardware and hinges? Yes. Do we need to right now? No. Would we like to put up a tile back splash? Yes. Is it a priority? No. So, here are a few pictures of our mostly finished kitchen:

The stove that my beloved is obssessed with. It's gas, of course. 5 burners, one with some kind of super-turbo function that gets so hot it would destroy a microwave if we had one installed above the stove. It also has two ovens which can be set at different temperatures at the same time.

I haven't been allowed to use it yet.

In case you're interested and/or a rabid fan of HGTV, we kept the original cabinets, but replaced the black and white vinyl flooring with porcelain tiles. The tiles are 20"x20" and 14"x14" and are laid in a "hopscotch" pattern.

We also got rid of the black laminate countertops and replaced them with Silestone quartz countertops. All of the appliances are new. And the faucet is new but the sink is the cast-iron beast original to the house. And we love it. It's huge and deep.

The lighting is also new in the kitchen. The previous owners had installed this monstrous flourescent centerpiece that dominated the ceiling and looked as if it could easily transport you to another dimension. We decided to go with something less dramatic and a little more functional.

So, there's the kitchen. Yes, it's missing switch plates. And a tiled backsplash, but it's working for us right now when the rest of the rooms in our house are each in varying degrees of disarray.

Take, for instance, our master bathroom. It's lovely. It really is. And the contractors are finished with it. However, it still needs to be cleaned. And it still needs to be painted a second coat of Gobi Desert. And it still needs towel bars and toilet paper holders installed. And still needs shelving installed. AND, since we can't move into our master bedroom yet, it's slightly inconvenient to use regularly at this point. But here it is, in all its unfinished glory:

This is looking in the doorway from the master bedroom.

As you can see, we need some kind of tall shelving/linen cabinet unit to put between the two vanities.

This is what I was talking about when I tried to describe how our bath tub would be IN the shower. See? It really maximizes the smallish space of our bathroom and allows us to have a walk-in shower AND a soaking tub.

That last one is the shower head, the glass accent tile, and a little window we cut into the wall to allow natural light into the shower enclosure.

So there ya go. We still have a ways to go, but it's coming right along.


My Harry Potter Mission

So, last weekend, I saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. And it was good. I’ve enjoyed all the Harry Potter movies in fact. Love the cast of characters, love the production design, love the imaginative stories. Right up my alley. So up my alley in fact that when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone first came out in book form, long ago before Harry madness or any of the films, my college roommate (who has similar tastes in reading material and has an uncanny knack for finding the next best thing in literature before everyone else does) strongly suggested I check it out.

As usual, I did not heed her advice. I meant to. I really did. But then I got distracted and gradually forgot about Harry Potter until it became a seemingly overnight sensation. And then it was too late. I despise following the crowd (especially when I was given advance notice), so I still didn’t read them despite the rave reviews. Then the first movie came out. And I didn’t see it. Until it came out on DVD. Since then, I’ve seen each consecutive film and love each one. But I still haven’t read any of the books.

I don’t know this for a fact, but I may be the only person on the planet to have seen all the Harry Potter movies and read none of the books. Which is completely out of character for me. I’m the one who usually insists upon reading the book before I will go see the movie. So, my mission is to read the entire Harry Potter series before the next movie comes out.

Now that I’m not studying, moving, or getting married, and my book club has sort of gone on summer hiatus, I’ve got a bit of time on my hands (ignoring the dusty, still somewhat unpacked house) for leisure activities. I’m not exactly sure when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I is expected to be released in theaters, but all sources say sometime in 2010, so I’ve got some time.

I’m assuming the books give a lot more detailed information and are generally better than the movies…? Anybody have an opinion on that?


Allow me to boast for a moment:

Now that my husband (haven’t gotten use to that word yet) has a fabulous new kitchen with lots of cabinet and counter space, a great refrigerator and the stove of his dreams (well, dreams that are limited by our kitchen layout and our budget), he has a renewed enthusiasm for cooking. While our contractors were basically living with us and our kitchen was mostly unusable storage space, we ate out a lot. Or ate Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Or leftover pizza. Those were dark days.

But those days are over! Sunday, Daniel made blueberry pancakes from scratch with grilled turkey bacon (not that Oscar Meyer shit) and fresh cantaloupe. If you have not had one of Daniel’s light, fluffy, golden pancakes, you are sorely deprived and you should come over for breakfast next week.

Monday night, he made salmon fillets with a fresh tomato, basil and caper salsa, parmesan roasted cauliflower, and baked brown rice. All by himself. And it was so good, I groaned with pleasure after every bite – which no doubt became annoying after the first few bites. But it was seriously that good.

Tuesday night, my foodie husband (I’m hoping the more I say it, the less weird it will sound) marinated a chicken breast, grilled it, sliced it up, then combined it with grilled green peppers, onions, and celery. He added all the grilled goodness to some cooked whole wheat penne pasta. Doused the whole mess with a tomato vodka sauce. Spooned it into a baking dish. Threw some cheese on top and put it in the oven. The concoction that emerged from the oven was inspired. And sure the hell beats leftover pizza!

Feel free to make dinner reservations anytime. You can never tell what will come out of his kitchen, but I can guarantee it will be delicious!


Our Wedding, Our Way

As of Friday, Daniel and I are no longer “living in sin”. So that’s a relief, eh? On Thursday morning, our witnesses arrived from out of town – my mother from Erie and my sister from Newark. While Daniel worked Thursday, I got to spend some quality time with my mom and sis just hanging out. Thursday night we all went out for dinner at Las Maracas where my sister met my husband for the first time.

I know, weird right? Two of the most important people in my life hadn’t met until that moment. In the 2 years that Daniel and I had been dating, there had just never been a time when both he and Bethany were in the same place at the same time. I have to say, that was the most stressful part of the entire wedding weekend for me…even more stressful than the whole courthouse fiasco (keep reading…just keep reading).

It’s not that I actually believed they would hate each other, I just wasn’t sure how their personalities would mesh. Daniel has never had a sister-in-law and Bethany has never had a brother-in-law. It’s a first for both of them. Fortunately, they now have many many years of harassing each other...er...getting to know one another! Heh.

Daniel made our marriage ceremony appointment weeks ago for 10:30 am on Friday July 10th at the Nashville Courthouse. Last week when we went to get our marriage license at the County Clerks office, they told us that the ceremony would take place at the A.A. Birch Building downtown. The County Clerks office is no where near downtown – which I find odd, but whatever. So fine. We had a downtown address for the A.A. Birch Building. We assumed, foolishly perhaps, that someone would give us further direction when we arrived Friday morning and so, with our marriage license in hand, we skipped out of the County Clerk’s office without a care in the world.

Fast forward to Friday, July 10th

10:00 am: En route to pick up mother and sister from hotel.

10:15 am: En route downtown to A.A. Birch Building on 2nd Avenue.

10:35 am: Arrive at 2nd Avenue. Fail to recognize A.A. Birch Building. End up back across the Woodland Bridge.

10:40 am: Re-arrive at 2nd Avenue. Fail to recognize A.A. Birch Building. Again. Determine building signage generally sucks.

10:45 am: Decide to park beneath courthouse and go from there.

At this point we are already 15 minutes late and we still have no idea which building is the A.A. Birch Building. In case you are unfamiliar, the parking garage under the courthouse is a deadly labyrinth with no clear pedestrian exit. None of us had ever been in this dark carbon monoxide gas chamber beneath the Nashville courthouse. We are law abiding citizens. We do not hang out at the courthouse.

Finding no way out, we hiked back up the way we drove in, passing signs that read: “NOT A PEDESTRIAN WALKWAY”. In our desperate attempt to reach daylight, we ignored those signs. Once we finally emerged to street level, we asked some innocent bystander the location of the fucking A.A. Birch Building.

You may find yourself asking, why the hell didn’t they just google the location before they left? Quite simple, really. That would be due to our stupidity.

10:50 am (or so…I wasn’t really keeping track of time anymore as much as I was just hauling ass): Finally found the A.A. Birch Building and went through the metal detectors. Nothing says wedding like metal detectors. Once cleared by security, we walked into the grand lobby of the A.A.B.B. and immediately proceeded to the Information Desk where we were unassisted and verbally assaulted by the Green Dragon Lady.

Seriously. Maybe her cat died that morning or she woke up with wicked gas. I don’t know, but she clearly had something lodged in her anus. She couldn’t or wouldn’t understand that we had an appointment and just kept sighing heavily and mumbling something about working us in. She was monumentally pissed off that we did not know the name of the judge who would be performing the ceremony and really was at a loss as to what to do with us. Finally she told us to go wait in Courtroom 1A, down the hall, until someone could help us.

We opened the door to Courtroom 1A and were greeted by a full criminal court room in session. Naturally, every head turned around to stare and after a brief deer-in-the-headlights moment, we all immediately turned on our heels and walked back out without saying a word.

My mom and I sat on a bench in the hall while Daniel ventured back into Courtroom 1A to see if he could talk to the court officer, and my sister marched right back to the Green Dragon Lady ready for battle. While we were sitting in the hall, a random court officer walked by and asked us if we were there for court. We told her that no, in fact, we were there to get married. She, unlike the Green Dragon Lady, was very nice and told us she would let someone know we were there and in the meantime we could wait (away from the criminals) in the empty Courtroom 1B.

Daniel emerged from Courtroom 1A. Having recently established a rapport with the court officer in 1A, he was certain someone would be helping us soon. My mother went off to pry Bethany from the Green Dragon Lady’s throat and then we all sat down in Courtroom 1B patiently waiting for someone…anyone…who could tell us where to go or what to do.

So, we waited. And waited. And wondered if our conversation was being recorded. And then waited some more. A man in a dark suit and lawyer hair walked through the courtroom. This man did not look at us nor did he acknowledge our existence. Then, a few minutes later, he walked back through the way he came and never cast us a curious glance.

We waited some more.

I took this opportunity to snap a few pictures. I know you all want photos of this wedding thing, and I hate to disappoint you, but y’all know I am just not a reliable nor talented picture taker. Neither is Daniel. And my mom informed us early on that she had forgotten to bring her camera with her. Plus, none of us really like having our picture taken. So the photographic evidence from this event is slim to none. Sorry. But since I was bored in Courtroom 1B, I whipped out the camera and took these:

See? We're just not a photography-friendly family.

Finally, a woman emerged into the courtroom. “Are you all here to get married?”

“Uh. Yes.”

“Well, come on with me. We thought y’all were no-shows. We had no idea y’all were waiting down here. We was just gettin’ ready to leave for the day. I don’t know why no one sent you upstairs to the 3rd floor – that’s where we do the marriage ceremonies”.

She was talking to us as we followed her up to the 3rd floor and down the hall to the judge’s office (chambers?). It was a relief to finally meet someone who seemed to understand our mission and was competent enough to provide explicit direction. This woman, this lovely, lovely, angel of mercy woman ushered us into the judge’s ... area, and softly closed the door behind her as she departed.

The judge was a good ol’ southern boy with a great accent and a jovial demeanor. He was incredibly friendly and seemed genuinely delighted to be performing our marriage ceremony. If I had to guess, I’d say it took about 7 minutes total. My mom signed as a witness, the judge gave a little speech about marriage, Daniel and I exchanged vows and rings, kissed and hugged and laughed and snorted, and that was that. Once we finally got to where we were going, it was effortless and lovely.

We walked downstairs, gave the stink eye to the Green Dragon Lady and walked through security into the late morning sunshine. Married.

And then we couldn’t find our car. It was the whole labyrinth thing combined with our newlywed euphoria and our navigational ineptitude.

My mother took us all to the Mad Platter for lunch and then we went to Gigi’s to pick up Wedding Cake Cupcakes and then we went to Midtown Printing to pick up our announcements.

And then we went home. Married. And took a nap.

FYI: If I have your address, I’ll be mailing you your very own announcement to pin on your refrigerator, sit on your desk, or line your hamster cage. Soon. And if I don’t have your address, allow me to officially announce our marriage:

Yes, you read that right. We are both changing our last name. Welcome to the 21st Century! DeFelice is Daniel's mother's maiden name. Early on, we decided it would be unfair for only one of us to change our identity. So, using my mother-in-law's maiden name seemed like a good option for many reasons...not the least of which is the coolness factor. Oh c'mon. DeFelice is a cool name - especially because neither one of us looks Italian.

Daniel's mother is the last DeFelice in her family and when Daniel told his sister we were going to use it as our last name she told him that their dad almost changed his last name to their mother's when they got married (which would've been really radical for the time). So, it's a neat name. It has family significance without being overtly patriarchal. We'll be sharing a name in a more egalitarian way and we get to correct people when they mispronounce it. Heh.

DeFelice = deh - feh - lee - chee

In a month we'll be spending a week in Erie to visit and celebrate with family and friends and then in September we'll be taking off for our honeymoon in Egypt and Jordan.

So, there you have it. We're married. And we did it our way.


Skipping the "Bride" Part

In five days my official relationship status will be changing from ENGAGED to MARRIED. I will go from GIRLFRIEND to WIFE. And I'm leaving out the BRIDE part. That’s right, I’m willfully skipping the bride part. You see, I want to BE married, but I don’t want to GET married. This is tricky. Very tricky.

We exist in a bride/wedding dominant culture. Have you noticed? Approximately 2.5 million weddings take place every year in the United States. The whole wedding racket monster is an estimated 40-70 BILLION dollar industry. There are TV series dedicated to brides and weddings and wedding planners, and all the stress and snafus that go along with the typical wedding celebration. And even with people cutting back on wedding expenses due to the soft economy, the average couple still spends over $28,000 on their wedding. Let me repeat that. Average couple = TWENTY EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS. Christ Almighty.

When I casually mention I’m getting married to anyone who doesn’t know me well, as they gaze at my non-existent engagement ring in puzzlement, they ask a bazillion questions like, “How’s the planning going?”, “Are you overwhelmed yet with the planning?”, “Where are you having the reception?”, “Who’s doing your flowers?”, “Who’s doing your cake?”, “What does your dress look like?”

And then I have to awkwardly explain that I’m not doing any of that. And my questioner seems slightly embarrassed, and then I have to lighten it up with inappropriate laughter and a “Yeah, we just, ya know, wanted to keep it simple…see, we just bought a house, and really didn’t want to deal with the…the traditional…hoop-lah, so yeah, it’ll be really simple, oh! but, then we’ll be going to my hometown in August to, ya know…have a little party to, uh, to celebrate… and then in September we’ll be going on a honeymoon.”

And finally, with the mention of “honeymoon” I give them something familiar to latch onto and their eyes light up as they ask where we’re going. When I announce we’ll be going to Cairo and Amman, they smile slightly and inquire, “where?”. And I stammer, “We’re, ah…we’re traveling to…Egypt and Jordan”. In response I usually get a “oh, well that’s…neat”. Yes, not only are we not departing right after the marriage ceremony as tradition dictates, but we’re also not going to Hawaii, Las Vegas, or Mexico. We’re going to Northern Africa and the Middle East.

After that, they give up on the wedding conversation.

I know it’s been said before by others far more trendy than I, but, I truly am missing the bride gene. My private disdain of weddings in general is not stemming from any sort of snotty superiority complex or irrationally misplaced envy. Not at all. If someone wants to have a kick-ass, blow-out, extravagance-be-damned wedding, then more power to ‘em. I certainly wouldn’t begrudge anyone their day in the spotlight. A commitment as huge as marriage is certainly cause for celebration. But one person’s definition of celebration is another’s person’s definition of nightmare.

I guess Daniel and I have known for a while that we would end up sharing a life together. It crept up on us slowly and quietly, unobtrusively settling around us in the most natural way imaginable. Maybe that’s why neither one of us feels the need to participate in the traditional wedding rituals. There was never any need to “pop the question”, never was there a need for him to “claim” me with a ring. We’re fairly private people (she types in her blog…) and our deep, quiet commitment reflects that.

As we were driving somewhere this weekend, it suddenly dawned on me that next week at that time we would be a married couple driving to wherever it was we would be driving to. I mentioned this to Daniel and without taking his eyes off the road or missing a beat, he softly responded with, “oh honey…I married you a long time ago”.

You see, this whole ceremony thing is just a formality to us. Doing it will afford us certain legal rights and generally simplify our life together.

Although, honestly, a part of me is ashamed to be participating in something that not every US citizen has the right to. I won’t go there (in this post), but it is an abomination that some US citizens do not have the right to marry.

Nothing more than that. We are not religious folk. We have both led full lives independent of each other. There is no one “giving” me to him. And I have no need or desire to feel like a fairytale “princess” marrying her fairytale “prince”. And while we are overjoyed to have found each other and are able to be married, in the end it’s not about the ring or the dress or the cake or the first dance or the flowers or the party favors. It’s just me. and him. doing what works best for us. Which means, No Bride.


Just Checkin In

Hey! It’s July! Holy crap-o-lah. Do you know what this means?

I’ll tell you what it means:

It means our house renovation was supposed to have been done 1 month ago.

It means July 4th is in, like, 5 minutes.

It means I’m going to be married in, like, 10 minutes.

You may have noticed my lack of house renovation reporting. Tis true. *sigh* Every week, every day…nearly every hour, we are informed, assured that it’s almost done. “We just have to….(fill in the blank)”. “As soon as we….(fill in the blank)”. When you’re told that something is going to happen over and over again and it never does, regardless of whether that something is good or bad, it seriously messes with your mental health.

Meanwhile, as we’re being mind fucked by our contractors, we are living in a constant state of clutter, filth and disorganization. Good times. The fuzz-butts are not happy about this situation either as they have to be locked up in the bedroom all day. Poor fuzz-butts.

We think they are almost done. No, for reals. I mean, it looks like they are almost done. They finally got the plumber back on-site to finish the master bathroom. He will be there today and then should be done. The master bathroom is the only major component not yet complete. But beyond that, there really isn’t much else, except for a few minor (and I mean MINOR) punch list items and then the removal-of-the-construction-crap process can begin.

Earlier this week, they finally removed all of the old disgusting carpet padding (it was being used to protect the wood floors throughout the house, but it was Nasty) and we were overjoyed to tears at that simple gesture of progress.

Okay, enough belly-aching about the house. Soon I will show you pictures post-construction. Soon. Very soon. Promise.

Not to change the subject abruptly, but have you seen Up? Ohmigod. Seriously good. I’m not a Pixar fanatic – I actually much prefer hand-drawn animation – but I wanted to see this film as soon as I saw the very first preview. And honestly, it was better than I thought it was going to be - which rarely happens. It was really fun and funny and sweet and imaginative and relevant. If you haven’t seen it, well, you should. That’s all. You just should.

So, what’re y’all doing for the 4th? Last year, Daniel and I went to Erie for a few days to celebrate, something I’ve been doing my whole life, and went to a handful of picnics/parties. The 4th of July celebrations of my youth have gone the way of my childhood Christmases. We always had great 4th of July parties at our house – playing murderball in the pool and volleyball on the grass. The older folks played horse shoes and bocce on the lawn. Everyone participated in the water balloon fights – willing or unwilling. There were sparklers and fireworks, cold sodas hunkering in coolers. The prerequisite hamburgers and hot dogs, and two big long tables full of picnic food. Lots of those elements remain the same at the various picnics hosted by friends and families. Although none of them have the element of my dad, and maybe that’s the problem.

Whew!…gettin’ a little serious there for a sec. Pay no attention to my navel-gazing drivel.

This year we’re staying here in Nashville. They have big beautiful fireworks over the river and a party at Riverfront Park. Although neither one of us really enjoys crowds, so we may skip that. Also, on our side of town they are having the Hot Chicken Festival. Hot Chicken, if you don’t know, is a Nashville thing and very nearly a religion…so we should probably check that out. It would be a sin not to, right?

Besides that, our agenda for the next 7 days revolves mainly around frantically cleaning, unpacking and organizing in preparation for the arrival of my mother and sister. That’s right. They are visiting in 7 days. And our contractors are still an intimate part of our lives. And currently there is no where for them to sleep. Or sit. Or walk really. So, we’ll see how that goes!

They are going to be our witnesses. Can I get a wit-ness!? sorry

We still need to go get our marriage license at some point. Soon. We have our rings – and we actually know where they are in the mess that is our home. And soon we will have announcements. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working with a local artist/graphic designer to come up with a cool marriage announcement. I think we nailed it. Now, we just need to get them printed. We are scheduled to be married at 10:30 am on Friday July 10th. This is a very early hour for Bethany but she is making the sacrifice to be our witness.

Can I get a wit-ness!? again, sorry

That is all.