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Look. It’s Not Like I Wore It Playing Football or Cut It Up and Turned It Into Curtains. But That Would’ve Been Okay, Too.

I must apologize to the guys out there for a minute, because I’m going to talk about something a little girly.

Nope.  A lot girly.

See, Stephanie over at My One Precious Life got me thinking about wedding dresses.  Obviously not about buying wedding dresses since I’m already married, but about selling them.  (Not for a living.  Trust me, I have not done all of this soul-searching for the past 2 years only to discover that my one true calling is to sell wedding gowns to blushing brides and their overextended pocket books.  Blech.

No offense to anyone who sells wedding gowns.)

She, like me, decided to sell her dress post-wedding.  I mean, why not?  This way you make a little cash, and some other lucky girl scores a gown at a bargain basement price.

Seems like a win-win situation, if you ask me.  If you ask anyone else, however, you might run into some contention.

What?  You SOLD your wedding dress??  But it’s your WEDDING dress!  You know, the one you wore to your WEDDING!

Yep.  I know the one.

Bu-but… don’t you MISS it?

Look.  I only wore it the one time.  And it served its purpose well.  But, if we did this thing right, I’ll never need a wedding dress again.  Missing it is kind of irrelevant.  And keeping it, at least for me, is impractical.

Well what about the memories?  You have all kinds of memories in that dress!

Yes, and that’s what photos are for.  I find them to be more compact.  And less poofy.

And your daughter!  What if you have a daughter and she wants to wear that dress??

Okay… so I’m supposed to keep this dress hanging around on the chance that I produce a daughter or a slim cross-dressing son or even have a kid at all.  Then, I’m supposed to push all of these expectations on her:  She needs to be exactly the same size I was when I got married at 23; she better like the not-exactly-traditional style I picked 3-4 decades earlier and it better be  a formal wedding, since this is a formal dress; oh, and she has to get married.  Has to.  That’s her only option in life.  Because I’ll be damned if I paid to have this dress preserved and hanging around this 1,600 square foot house for over a quarter of a century just so my nonexistent daughter can go do something crazy like ignore my inadvertent wedding gown guilt trips and live her life the way she wants.

No way.

Well.  You don’t have to be all snarky about it.  I just don’t think that I would have the heart to do it.  That’s all.  I’m not cold and calloused and heartless as you.

Really?  Because you’re the one keeping it locked away in a dark closet somewhere, and I’m the one who loved it and let it go — set it free to dance another night.

ewww! Kissy photo!

Okay.  So a dress is an inanimate object, obviously, so don’t start feeling guilty if it’s locked in your closet.  Especially if you’re super sentimental about it.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

But that’s just it — I’m not the sentimental type.  At least not when it comes to stuff.

I’m a purger.  We do a massive gutting of our closets at least once per year, and with the exception of a few choice childhood mementos and reasonably sized wedding trinkets (like the Air Force garter hand-made by my mother-in-law), anything that sits untouched for a lengthy period of time that I know the chances of me needing again are slim to none, is a goner.

It just feels good.

Keeps me sane.

Like clearing out the junk from my closets is akin to chucking the mushy contents of my mind with an ice cream scoop and starting fresh.  With a clean bowl.

And clearly my sanity is more important than a gown.  A gown that, while I loved it, just as easily could have been a flowy white linen dress I wore standing on a beach at our destination wedding, had I gotten my way.

And you know what?

I probably wouldn’t have kept that one, either.

*All photos taken by Jeff Pope of Iconic Photography.

To Stress or Not to Stress: A Tryst with the Unknown.


That’s how I feel.

No, not in a 3-days-post-bikini-wax kind of way.

No, not in an I-went-to-Hawaii-and-forgot-to-wear-sunscreen-and-all-I-got-were-these-billions-of-dead-peeling-skin-cells kind of way.

And no, not in an I-slept-in-a-questionable-motel-last-night-and-neglected-to-check-the-mattress kind of way.


Maybe that’s a better word to describe it.

And while last week I rambled on about the camaraderie of backpacks, I’m realizing more and more that I don’t really care how I travel, just as long as I get to travel.  It’s simply easier for me to romanticize backpacking when imagining or re-living exotic trips abroad — the implied gritty, grungy, down-in-the-dirt feeling that stems from steering clear of the relative comfort of plush hotels, room service cards, and pre-packaged experiences.  To leave the sanctity of the hotel restaurant and buy empanadas from a man behind a chicken wire screen, or better, to devour fried platanos from the tiny kitchen of a generous resident.  To experience that uncomfortable feeling of riding on a rickety bus with the locals, knowing I’m noticeably different.

A stranger.

A minority.

It’s humbling.  And probably something everyone should experience at least once in her life.  Like waiting tables.

And yet.

There’s something in this world about feeling pampered.  Or, if not pampered, at least safe.  Clean.  Looked after.  And that kind of travel can be equally wonderful.  Where my clothes emerge relatively wrinkle-free from a shallow suitcase and hang in a closet for the duration of a trip.  Where if one thing gets wet, everything else doesn’t smell like mildew for weeks on end.  Where my burden-free back is left free to stretch and bend and soak in the rays of the sun.

Nope.  That’s not so bad.  As long as I make it a true point to discover a place — to see more than what a single company or business would have me see — I feel like it’s a trip well-spent.

Take, for example, our honeymoon in St. Lucia back in 2006.  It was an excellent balance of hotel pampering mixed with our own adventures:

Ti-Kaye St. Lucia

Luxurious honeymoon suite.

St. Lucia Piton Mountains

Crazy and scenic cab rides to fancy, schmancy restaurants.

Ladera Restaurant

Make-you-wanna-cry views over frozen cocktails.

St. Lucia Restaurant

Tourist food — delicious!

St. Lucia Coconut
St. Lucia Woman Coconut

Tourist coconut — more delicious!

St. Lucia Street Food

Typical street food — MOST delicious.

St. Lucia street party

Travel friends whose names you soon forget.


Locals you know you’ll never forget.

Vacation debauchery and shirts you wish you could forget.

I think the thing that burdens people the most about travel — why some return home feeling the need for a vacation when, in fact, that’s where they’ve been for the last 2 weeks, is because they spend their precious time pressuring it — twisting it and molding it and expecting it to be all of these things that, in reality, it might not want to be.

A tryst with the Unknown is, I imagine, like raising a child.  You can want it to grow up to be a doctor.  A lawyer.  Just like you.  Better than you.  But you’re setting yourself up for some serious disappointment if you think you can control another soul.  If you think you can arrange its life just-so, with the right upbringing, the right education, the perfect amount of discipline and fun time and family time.  Because there are always outside influences you can’t predict.  Things that will poke and prod and interfere with your project.  Things that will influence its way of thinking and growing.  Things that could even make it better, if you’d only let them.

So in the end, you have a choice:  You can drive yourself crazy trying to steer and constrain, or you can simply set the gears in motion, nurture as best you can, and see what happens.

A trip is like that.  It’s not a crafty DIY project you assemble in your garage — it’s a life experience intended simply to be experienced.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t plan.  You should always know ways you might get from point A to point B.  But you should also be flexible enough to change those plans should a new opportunity arise.  This simple shift in thought can mean the difference between a stressed-out, tension-inducing, jaw-clenching whirlwind of befuddlement and a carefree good time.

I’ve quoted them before, and I’ll quote them again:

If you don’t expect too much from me, you might not be let down.

-Gin Blossoms

The Unknown is scary.

But, if we’re really honest with ourselves, that’s what makes it so damn fun.

How Book Clubs Can Save You From Bar Fights.

A select item *cough*totallyawesomelight*cough* is supposed to be arriving for the bedroom today, and I’d be lying if it said I’m not a little bit excited.  I’m not, oh-wow-we-just-booked-a-trip-to-Bhutan excited, but a good, solid I-can’t-believe-I-only-hit-2-red-lights-on-the-way-to-work excited.

Also, last night I did something different.

In an effort to expand my network of friends and actually… I don’t know… meet people who live in my area, I attended my very first book club meeting ever.

No, I hadn’t read the book.

Fortunately for me, it was that particular club’s very first meeting as well, and I definitely wasn’t the only one who was lax in my book-reading duties.  In fact, a good portion of the time was spent teasing the girl who’d picked it (and, consequently, hadn’t even finished it herself due to its horrendousness).

If you’ve never been to a book club meeting — especially if you’re a guy and you’ve never been to a book club meeting — I’m sure there’s a tiny aire of mystery surrounding a small gathering of women coming together to over wine and hors d’oeuvres to discuss the merits of the latest Nicholas Sparks spewage and whether or not Hollywood should, in fact, turn it into a movie and cast Channing Gosling Pattinson as the lead.

Oh, there’s not?

Well, fine then.

But I’m happy to report anyway that this particular group of women was a fabulously diverse mix interested in all types of genres and levels of difficulty.  After much discussion and getting-to-know-each-other stories, I’m pretty confident we can come up with an interesting selection that will keep each of us involved and entertained.  And not in a fake, feigning-to-be-intellectual way, but in a wow-that-was-a-great-read-that-I’d-probably-want-to-talk-about-even-if-I-wasn’t-being-forced-to-right-now kind of way.  It was a relaxing evening, no pressure, no stress, and better than meeting for drinks in a rowdy bar.

Why aren’t there any men in our group? you ask.


It’s not because they aren’t welcome, but I’m pretty sure a group that initially started as all women will always have a tough time garnering male membership.

Because women are scary.

What?  We are.

We may as well just admit it.

As much as we’d like to think that we’re laid-back, calm, and collected, the right trigger will send us into a fiery blaze of passion.  Like, for example, the time when my neighbors, Erin, Justin and I decided it would be a good idea to take my sister to a hometown, backwoods, country funk bar called Drifters (I kid you not), then strip her down to her skivvies, wrap her in a promotional radio banner, and enter her in a homemade bikini contest.


Like you’ve never done that before.

Erin acted as the unofficial contest promoter, running around it a hat she stole from the disk jockey and recruiting contestants from the crowd, while Kasey and I handled the making of the home bar-made bikini.  I’d like to say the competition was fierce, but in the nicest way possible, I will just say that the particular town we were visiting wasn’t exactly known as a national hot spot for the recruitment of Victoria’s Secret models.  But it was a hot-spot for spirited good sports, and one woman even strutted around in a costume she’d made ahead of time, entirely out of bottle caps.

But, let’s face it — You wrap a 5′ 8″ tanned, blonde Barbie look-alike up in a banner in a bar full of inebriated military men, and it no longer matters how much time you spent on your costume.

So, as my sister stepped onto the makeshift stage to collect her $100 grand prize winnings, someone — just one person — booed her.

Now.  Even bottle cap girl had been a gracious loser, knowing it was all in good fun, and even gave Kelly an awkward-’cause-we’re-half-naked-in-a-bar-beauty-pagent type of hug, but this person — this guy — thought it was it was the appropriate setting to boo.


My lion-like instinctual defense of my baby sister, plus the 3 Southern Comfort and Cokes I’d consumed, told me otherwise.

I don’t know what happened.  I didn’t know how to stop it.

At one moment I was this girl — this girl who’d never been in a fight and got straight A’s all through high school and took my balanced Libra status very seriously — and at the next moment I was this ugly, snapping beast — a 115-pound beast, but a beast, nonetheless — who can apparently move faster than a cheetah through a roomful of people with the intention of attacking my little sister’s offender.  My little sister’s very big offender.

I’m not sure what I would have done had I actually been able to reach him.

All I remember is a surprised look on his face — the look one might get when he’s about to get attacked by a yapping daschund or a feral kitten — and then I was being held back.

And I thought to myself in a fuzzy sort of way, Wow.  This is what it feels like to be held back.


Fortunately, Justin and Kasey’s husband were reflexive enough to keep me from reaching the guy.  I honestly don’t know what would’ve happened had I gotten there, and the peacekeeper in me is pretty damn happy about that.

I may not have been able to inflict bodily harm, but for a fraction of a second I sensed fear from the guy.

And it wasn’t an imposing frame or bulk of muscles that caused it.  It was the pure, unadulterated, plasmic fire that only women, I think, possess.

I’ve seen it sober, too.

And that can be a scary thing.

Even to me.

Huh.  Maybe I need more Nicholas Sparks books in my life, after all.

*Please excuse my excessive use of hyphens in this post.  I’m out of control.