Kristin’s 2012 Year in Review

You know how sometimes you have tons of fabulous blog posts planned for a given month, and then suddenly it’s the twenty-first and you have no idea where the time went?

Yeah, that’s why you haven’t seen me in awhile.

This has been a big year for me. So big, in fact, that I decided to spend what many thought was the final day of the world showing you just a few of my key moments from 2012.

7828753730_f88600fb6c1. I got married.

After seven-plus years, long-distance time spent in two different countries, four cross-country moves, good jobs, bad jobs, grief, joy, and everything in between that makes up daily life, Drew and I decided to tie the knot.

Being a bride is one of those fabulous things that takes month of prep (see number 2) and then rushes by in a mere hours, most of them spent in a daze caused by heat, a tight dress, and staying out waaaaaay too late the night before partying with your girlfriends.

It ends quickly, but then you’re left with a few gorgeous memories… like this one.

2. I planned a wedding.

Don’t laugh. Planning a wedding is tons of work, and you have to think of everything from the napkins all the way up to the venue, the music, and the dress. And all those tiny little details add up to wedding, and turn a beautiful day into a magical one.

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3. I made new friends, and got to spend time with old friends.

Most of my friends live in Texas. We met in high school and college, we lived together in Rome, we drank too much on our twenty-first birthdays together, and they held me in their arms after my brother died. They are part of my family.

However, as you grow up, you move apart. It’s hard to see each other that often, and you start to develop new interests. But if you’re lucky, you get to make new friends and add to that existing circle of family-friends.

I am very lucky.

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4. I lost a dear friend.

Furry friends count as family, too, and they never stay long enough. Baby stayed nearly twenty years, though, and was as good a friend as I ever had.

5. I finished Shaken.

Writing a first draft is the easy part. Reading the book 15 times and making changes for every reread is the hard part. Shaken went through three different endings and at least as many different full drafts. Most of the edits were while I was planning the wedding, and some of them were while I was already on submission. I deserve a medal… or possibly a straight jacket, as a reward for my insanity.

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This is my pity-party outfit.

6. I went on submission.

Querying is hard, yo. It’s really, really difficult. It takes hours of research for each agent, it takes weeks of revising a 300-word letter, and even more time to write synopses. And as a reward for all that work, you get rejections by the fistful.

If you’re lucky, you actually get some positive responses, and you get to submit your book for actual consideration. And after that, you get more rejection; the real, painful rejection that delves into why agents hated or just didn’t love your book.

After X-number of rejections (3-4 on actual submissions), Spouse and I instated the pity-party, which typically involved party hats, kazoos, and glowsticks. If you can’t celebrate rejection, what can you celebrate?

7. I got an agent.

The happy thing about rejections, though, is you can know that they’re usually from the people who aren’t right to represent your book. And the person who is right is still out there, waiting to hold your pages in their happy little hands.

The real work is just about to begin, but  I now have someone who loves my work to fight along with me. Further proof that I’m pretty darn lucky.

Wedding Lessons I Learned… From My Own Wedding

In case you don’t know, I got married a couple weeks ago. And now that I have some distance from the event, I can share some of my hard-earned wisdom.

1. Learn to pick your battles. Realize that every time you point out something that doesn’t look the way you expected or doesn’t play out how you anticipated—even if it’s something tiny, and you’re just pointing out your surprise—people will try to fix it for you. Be aware of this, and keep your mouth shut, or you may end up with people running around trying to fix something you just don’t care about.

2. If you’re getting married outdoors during an unusually hot summer, get a full updo. I had my heart set on a half-up, half-down look, and it turned out just beautifully… six hours before the ceremony. By the time we’d finished the pre-ceremony photos, the curls were coming out and I found myself standing in front of the bar mirror with a curling iron, making the futile effort to fix my limp hair, while the bartenders were setting up cases of wine all around me. And by the time the reception rolled around, there was sweat dripping from the ends of my hair. I repeat: get an updo.

3. Roll with the punches. We had a brief music mishap right before the ceremony, and I had terrifying visions of having to throw a hissy fit, refusing to walk down the aisle, until the right song was playing for me. I was too hot and dazed to worry, really, and the music got sorted out: everything turned out okay. Sometimes you just have to let things go and know that they’ll work out all right in the end. And if something goes wrong, only you will know that it did. (Unless it’s obvious: see #5.)

4. Expect everything to be a blur. As the bride (or the groom, or whatever), you planned out every detail of this wedding… and on the day everything finally comes together, you’ll probably be too nervous/excited/busy/hungover from the previous night’s festivities to actually observe the beautiful day you planned. I wasn’t hungover (I swear!), but I was ridiculously nervous about the whole thing coming off without a hitch and so busy getting beautiful and having my photo taken, that, at the end of the night, I said, “I feel like I didn’t even get to attend my own wedding!” Apparently this is normal.

5. Laugh. This one is definitely the most important, and I’ll give you very specific reasons why. My husband and I did our cake cutting without a hitch: he neatly sliced us a huge piece of cake, and we opted to feed it to each other nicely. After that, a cater-waiter appeared like magic to take care of the rest of the serving. Delighted, we scampered back to the head table to enjoy our delicious dessert.

Now, just so you know going into this story, the cake was one of my very favorite parts of the wedding. It was iced to look like a birch tree with green leaves, each layer was a different flavor (the top, which we sliced, being my favorite: white chocolate raspberry sour cream cake), and cake toppers handmade to look like little owls.

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Adorable, right?

We were enjoying our cake, chatting and laughing, and feeling glad we weren’t in the giant cake-scrum, when there was a squealing noise and a crash. We all looked up, puzzled, and could only see people milling around. I briefly remember seeing one of my girlfriends staring at me in horror, and then she appeared at my side like she’d Apparated.

“It’s okay,” she said. “The owls are okay, and you got your piece of cake.”

“What…?” I said eloquently, still confused.

At that moment, the crowd parted, silence fell, and everyone turned to look at me. I could see the wreckage of our cake on the floor. I covered my mouth with a hand, and a million thoughts ran through my head: I’ll always be the bride whose cake got destroyed; no one is going to get any dessert; we paid an unholy amount for a cake that’s now on the floor; AAAHH EVERYONE IS STARING AT ME, I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!

I had a sudden moment of clarity. I could cry, I realized, and a part of me really wanted to, and there would be a lot of drama and catering minions running to Kroger for more cake. Or I could laugh, and the whole thing could get blown off.

I opted to laugh. The tension eased palpably. It turns out that only the top, most delicious layer was destroyed, and we still had plenty of cake. The owls survived. People started telling stories of the cake that tried to run away. And instead of being the bride who cried, I’m the bride who laughed.

So there you have it. Above all else, laugh.

Brave: A Rave, Plus a Question and a Picture

… and I’m back! Did you miss me? I’m happy to say that this post is coming to you from the present. First, let’s give a big thanks to Liv and Emmie for their blog posts, and then let’s heave a huge sigh of relief (and a gasp of terror), because it’s time to get back to real life, complete with thoughtful blog posts and query letters.

So, the first order of business is Brave. We’re still semi-honeymooning, and we’ve spent the past two days sorting out our bank accounts and acquiring new cellphones. But my new husband did promise to take me to Brave once we got back from Mexico, and today we went.

I have to say I’ve been waiting for this movie for something like a year. An animated movie about a young girl with crazy-curly red hair, who rides a horse, shoots a bow, sings in Gaelic, and lives in Scotland?! Let’s just say, if this movie had come out when I was about 10, it would’ve ended up on my all-time favorite list. As it is, it’s maybe not in the top 10, but I still loved it.

The premise, in case you don’t know, is this: Princess Merida of the Wild Hair likes riding, shooting, and swinging a sword. She wants to run free and shape her own destiny. Her mother, however, wants Merida to behave like a good princess who speaks softly, walks gracefully, and generally acts like a lady. When her parents open the contest for suitors to win Merida’s hand, the princess refuses to accept the verdict and shoots for her own hand, thereby upsetting the peace of her family and the entire kingdom. She strikes off to make her own destiny, and wacky, touching, and beautiful antics ensue.

Sounds kind of like a hero’s journey, full of sword-fights and battles, right?

Wrong. The movie was essentially a mother-daughter story. The quest is an education in how the other sees the world, and the goal is to strike a balance between the powerful, sedate queen and the free-spirited, tomboyish princess. Merida must learn to appreciate her mother’s gifts, and Elinor must learn the joy and magic that comes from Merida’s playful approach to the world.

It’s a “taut” relationship… haha… no.

In spite of the semi-faulty advertising, it’s a beautiful story, one that almost made me cry at the Moment of Truth—and I’m not a crier.

If you don’t mind a small spoiler, I can tell you one of my favorite bits of the story: Throughout, hair is a metaphor for a person’s (not just a woman’s!) approach to life. Merida’s, obviously, is Botticelli-esque, beautiful and untamed, until her mother tries to force her into a new role and traps the locks in a garb that kinda makes Merida look like a corset-clad ET. Once Elinor learns her lesson and eases up on her daughter, she wears her hair long and flowing down her back: still straight, of course, but less no longer trapped in perfect, queenly ropes. The blustering king has grizzled, wild locks, and the wee demon brothers have tresses to rival their sister’s. An obnoxious, vain suitor has flowing waves that fall into his eyes, while the witch has a few rebellious hairs on her chin.

It’s not a new use of hair-as-metaphor, but I enjoyed it all the same, especially since it wasn’t kept to the women: it was much-used image, polished and given a new, cheerful face. The same could be said of the story, a timeless generational battle given a delightful fresh front.

In short, I was charmed by the whole movie. It has peerless animation, a gorgeous soundtrack, bathos, pathos, and a nice tomboy-girly core. Go see it.

So, without transition, I’m going to jump right into the question. It’s back to real life for me now, and that means paying more attention to this blog than I have in the past few months. And so, I have a question for you, dear reader:

What sort of content would you like to see here on Kristin’s Fantasies:

Remember: your input will make this blog more fun for you!

And since you’ve played along this far, here’s a photo from my wedding day:

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That’s me in the white dress (haha), just after our handfasting. I cannot WAIT to see our professional photos. Sigh.

In case you’re wondering, my groom is 6’2 and the officiant is 6’4. I am 5’2. Hopefully this photo illustrates why I wore the five-inch heels: I’m still short.

My Top 10 TV/Movie Weddings

Doesn’t this one make everyone’s list?

I’m sorry guys. I tried not to do it, but you guys are getting some wedding content this week.

I’m getting married in six days, give me a break! We’ll get back to regularly scheduled programming when I get back from sunny Mexico. In the mean time, we’ll have some guest posts, some goofy wedding posts, and some normal Kristin-content mixed in just for spice.

But today, it’s all about goofy weddings. About six weeks ago, after I went to see The Five-Year Engagement, and I came home slightly hysterical about the impromptu movie wedding, Drew gently suggested that perhaps I shouldn’t watch any more movie or TV weddings.

Now, I really love romantic comedies. And sit-coms. I have to admit it: I just do. And at this stage, I’m starting to go into withdrawal. So here are my ten fictional weddings, in no particular order: some of them I learned from, some of them I genuinely enjoyed, and some are just plain funny. So read, enjoy, and watch them for me so I can live vicariously through you.

1. Friends: Ross and Emily
This is one of those ultimate learning-experience TV weddings. First, the wedding hall is torn down. Then the bride briefly calls off the wedding. Then, once everything is all hugs and puppies again, the groom’s ex-girlfriend shoes up, and he says the wrong name in the ceremony.

Thanks to this episode, Drew knows that his job is pretty much just to show up and say the right name. But he also gets to hold my hand through any disasters and try to understand that little things like music and garland are more important to me than they might be to him.

And I’ve learned that I can roll with things, and that sometimes tiny alterations will make things more beautiful.

Um… oops?

2. Friends: Chandler and Monica
This wedding somewhat balances out Ross’s failed one. Yes, there are disasters, yes, the officiant shows up late, yes, everyone thinks the bride is pregnant, but otherwise, it goes off without a hitch.

Plus, the entire seventh season of Friends is all about Monica’s crazy wedding antics, which have made me feel much better over the last year.

3. How I Met Your Mother: Marshall and Lily
Another terrible sitcom wedding! (Are you starting to notice a pattern here?) No flowers, the musician giving birth, no photos, no veil, the groom shaves his head, and an ex is present yet again.

But Marshall and Lily love each other enough to have a pre-wedding before their wedding, one with all of the things they wanted originally and without all those things that don’t matter.

Lily is super-drunk.

4. Father of the Bride (1991)
One of my all-time favorite wedding movies. Everything is beautiful and goes smoothly, and I can’t count the number of times in the last year that I’ve wished I had a Franck to help me plan my wedding.

They almost look friendly, don’t they?

5. My Best Friend’s Wedding
This is another of my longtime favorite wedding movies. Watching Julia Roberts try to hate the sickeningly sweet Cameron Diaz and to destroy her posh wedding still fills my heart with joy. And, in the end, poor Julia gives up the ghost and lets her best friend marry the woman of his dreams. 

6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Xander and Anya
This is one of those big-scary lesson weddings, one that shows just how mean people can be, and how sometimes the demons we bring on ourselves are far worse than the ones that come from hell dimensions.

Even if I weren’t banned from watching wedding episodes, I would not watch this one, because watching Xander leave Anya just about breaks my heart. 

7. My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Ah, the classic blending of two wildly disparate families to create something new and special. This one’s all about learning to love yourself and your origins, too, and to find that one person who makes you feel like the best version of yourself you can be.

8. Little Women (1994 film version): Meg and John Brooke
I’ve always loved this telling of Little Women, and while I always thought Meg’s quiet love story with John Brooke was a little ho-hum, but it’s grown on me over the years. Plus, I love the cute, lush, rustic garden setting, and I’d love to have people wearing flower-crowns dance around us in a circle and sing “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

The bonnets would be optional, of course.

9. Mad About You: Paul and Jamie
I haven’t watched this one in ages, but I remember fondly Jamie eating chocolate to drown her sorrows and worrying that she wouldn’t fit into her dress. This is another couple who couldn’t take the stress of their planned wedding, and sneaked off to have a private one.

That’s sweet, and all, but I think it’s more a reminder that the wedding is about two people, and not about all the guests and glamour, and you shouldn’t have to avoid your friends and family to remember that.

10. Sex and the City: Charlotte and Harry (as compared to Charlotte and Trey)
Another wedding gone awry! Perhaps I should’ve just written a post about all the things that can go wrong in a wedding if you live in a television show. The nice moment here, though, is when Carrie points out to a distraught Charlotte that a perfect wedding does not equal a perfect marriage. While Charlotte’s earlier wedding was perfect (aside from a few sexual-function issues), the marriage was a disaster. And, as we see, despite the wedding mishaps, Charlotte’s marriage to Harry is a great one.

I do love her dress.

Bonus #11. Heartbreakers
This movie is so full of bizarre, conned weddings, it’s hard to overlook the love stories. I do love Jennifer Love Hewitt’s beach wedding, though, and the song “Oh My Love” from their wedding night will play a much happier part in my wedding than it did in theirs.

I Guess the Wedding is Off!

I am planning a wedding.

Specifically, I’m planning my own wedding to the guy I’ve been dating for seven years and living with for five. The decision to get married wasn’t exactly a surprise—it was more like cleaning out the big box of old clothes in my closet. It’s something we’ve intended to do forever, but we’re only just now getting around to it because, frankly, planning a wedding is only marginally more fun and satisfying than said box-emptying… but it’s a lot more expensive and time-consuming.

Okay, that was bitter. As we get closer to the wedding, I’m getting a lot more excited, and that big box was never even remotely amusing.

I’m finding that the more decisions I make about the wedding, the more silly problems—many of them even hypothetical!—I come across.

“What if the out-of-town officiant has an emergency and can’t make it?”

“What if the Etsy sculptor can’t give the owl a bowtie?”

“The handfasting cord is too lightweight, and if it’s windy, it’ll blow around!”

These questions irritate the crap out of me, because people don’t seem to like my answers. Saying, “I guess we’ll find someone else to perform the service,” or, “I’ll guess the owl will have a regular tie,” or plain old, “Oh well,” just seems to puzzle people.

Drew has started answering all of these questions with a straight-faced, “Well, I guess the wedding’s off!”

Oh, no, we didn’t get out first choice rehearsal venue! “Well, I guess the wedding’s off!”

The nearest Men’s Wearhouse is 45 minutes away! “Well, I guess the wedding’s off.”

What if said Men’s Wearhouse doesn’t have shoes big enough for the father-of-the-groom? “Well, I guess the wedding’s off!”

The groomsman’s gift arrived broken! “Well, I guess the wedding’s off!”

You get the idea. It puts all these bridal catastrophes into perspective. Because, really, we’re getting married. Flowers, cake-toppers, ribbons, shoes, and pocket watches really don’t matter in the scheme of things. It’s going to be an amazing day.

Plus, Drew got me Medieval Sims to play when I start to feel stressed out. And that’s love.

Do Florists Secretly Rule the World?

Looks pretty. Actually an instrument of torture.

As you may know, I’m planning a wedding. I try not to write about it too much because, well, this isn’t some sort of Martha-Stewarty-wedding-planning-blog. You don’t need to know about brie-and-blueberry tartlets or stuffing invitations—or maybe you already do know, and don’t want to relive those things.

Regardless, I ask you this: do florists secretly rule the world?

I’m completely serious. I tried on about four dresses before I found my wedding dress, all at the same store. I got my first-choice venue, my first-choice photographer, and my first-choice caterer, even though I’m getting married on a Sunday that happens to also be Father’s Day. My dream-officiant is traveling from the next state to perform the ceremony.

But today alone, I’ve been rejected by two florists and shamed by one. My first choice called me at 10 a.m. and, when I answered the phone a little hoarse from coughing, she said in that snide voice some parents have mastered (*coughmotherinlawcough*), “Oh, did I wake you up?”

Uh, no. She then proceeded to turn down my wedding.

The next florist was just plain rude. “Oh! It’s on Father’s Day? Weird. Well, we need to get you in here soon. Well, I can’t do Monday, so it’ll have to be Wednesday. *sigh* Oh, well, I guess we’ll rearrange so you can come in later.”

I realize that these people have a special skill, are even masters of their art, but I’m hiring them for a $1000 one-day job. A little courtesy would be nice. And aren’t people supposed to bend over backward to make sunshine and love pour down from the heavens onto the bride?

Flower-growing regions around Lake Naivasha in Kenya.

The amazing How Stuff Works podcast Stuff Mom Never Told You did a Valentine’s Day episode about the hidden costs of Valentine’s Day flowers: exploited workers in Africa and Columbia, the costs of shipping fresh flowers worldwide, the chemicals used in growing and preserving the flowers, and the general horror of such a, well, useless industry.

Globally, we spend more than $100 billion on flowers every year… and only, like, half of that is from weddings, I’m sure.

Florists may have 60-hour work-weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day and just about every weekend in June (as I’ve learned, to my chagrin), but they’re raking in astronomical amounts of cash. And they’re unlikely to be replaced by some new digital technology. They employ workers on every habitable continent, and they have the power to make brides beg on hand-and-knee.

I’m telling you, florists are evil geniuses. One day they will reveal themselves as our fragrant overlords, and we will bow at their baby’s-breath throne.

What do you think, readers? Do florists rule the world?