Another song for the playlist….

I feel like even now, when people have (mostly free) access to every song in the world, very few people value a good playlist. I am not one of those people.

I heard this song today for the first time and it made me want to start adding to my playlist again. And so I’m going to dust off the playlists and get back at it. Not the one where I dance like crazy in my living room in between vacuuming or doing the dishes. That one is reserved for some hip hop and ass shaking music.

But the one that I like to listen to when I write, when I blog, when it’s rainy and dreary but perfect.

Rhythm of Love, Plain White T’s

My head is stuck in the clouds
She begs me to come down
Says “Boy quit foolin’ around”
I told her “I love the view from up here
The warm sun and wind in my ear
We’ll watch the world from above
As it turns to the rhythm of love”
We may only have tonight
But till the morning sun you’re mine all mine
Play the Music low and sway to the rhythm of love
My heart beats like a drum
A guitar string to the strum
A beautiful song to be sung
She’s got blue eyes deep like the sea
That roll back when she’s laughing at me
She rises up like the tide
The moment her lips meet mine
We may only have tonight
But till the morning sun you’re mine all mine
Play the Music low and sway to the rhythm of love
When the moon is low
We can dance in slow motion
And all your tears will subside
All your tears will dry
And long after I’ve gone
You’ll still be humming along
And I will keep you in my mind
The way you make love so fine
We may only have tonight
But till the morning sun you’re mine all mine
Play the music low and sway to the rhythm of love

I like it. It made me smile.

I think I’ll file it somewhere in-between David Gray and James Morrison.

The Curious Case of the Missing Bullet

Well, it was missing. And then it wasn’t. This is the story of how I was almost arrested by the Germans this month.

Why did I have a bullet? And a missing one, at that? Well, it’s not that bizarre of a story. No, I don’t typically carry bullets around with me but this is a very special bullet. Well, not that kind of special bullet, haha, it’s a REAL bullet, the kind made for guns and death. And it was a gift, an award that I received from my Director after I returned from the military exercise I was on for a month this fall. So we’re in this meeting one day at work, the whole team, and he’s thanking us for our efforts and then he starts in with, “I’d like to especially thank the person…” and he carries on with a few nice things that translate into this person did a pretty fantastic job blabbity blah and then he says, Heather, I’d like to thank you. Well, for the first part of the announcement I figured he was talking about someone else so I was paying half the attention I maybe should have been paying and then all of a sudden he’s standing up and I’m all hot and red in the face because that’s what I do when I am surprised and awkward, which is somewhat often. I realize this is the part of the meeting where I too stand up and shake his hand and thank him for the recognition, and as I shake his hand, he slips me a bullet. Hmm, I feel like that phrase could mean so much more than it actually does in this case. Anyway, mindoutofgutter.

In the military world, when someone wants to thank you, they slip you something in a handshake. (Not to be confused with slipping something say in a drink. Very different) Typically it’s a coin that represents their branch or office, but this boss is pretty bad ass and so he gifts bullets, and not that often, from what I’ve heard. Did I mention that the bullets are homemade? He actually makes them. Anyway, he slipped me a bullet. I was pumped. I walked around with it all day, rubbing it in my pocket like a weirdo with a tick. Anyway. I liked the damned bullet.

I showed Chris said bullet on the car ride home that day, bragging about my award, always so modest and humble. “Don’t be jealous that you don’t have a bullet.” I tell him this and think about setting up an award wall in my office, knowing full well I only have about three things to put on it.

He seems unimpressed. “That goddamned bullet better not be in that purse when we go home in a few days, ” he says as I toss it in my purse next to my orange chapstick in the special, secret pocket, because orange chapstick and bullets are both very valuable items in my world. I make a face at him. Obviously the damned bullet was going to be displayed on a shelf immediately, not in my purse. His jealousy was outrageous and I had to sympathize. Not everyone had a fancy bullet.

Three days later, Stuttgart airport. We are standing in line, waiting to go through the metal detectors and Chris smirks. “Don’t hold up the line, rookie,” he says as he takes off his belt and slips through the detector. I am a world traveler. I am not a rookie and I do not appreciate his taunts. I will skip through faster and I don’t even wear belts so it should be no problem. And then it happened.

They let my purse go through and then they pulled it back. Then it went through again and as the picture came up on the screen, my heart stopped and just as they pulled it from the line, I saw it. The bullet. That motherfuckingbullet. I looked for it for a day and didn’t find it in the purse and so I convinced myself I had put it up in my office but was too lazy to climb 12 stairs one night to double-check. And now it was very clear that the bullet was not in my office but there on the screen, for all of Germany to see. I glanced at Chris, who was leaning against the duty-free shop, making a face because I was holding us up. My knees started to shake as I mouthed, “BULLET.” He shook his head and glared at me while I pretended I didn’t see the bullet on the screen. Eh, I suppose he had some reason to be mad. There was a huge terror alert going on due to some crazy terrorists taking over Hamburg, a few hours north. But fuckmeunlucky. I didn’t MEAN to bring a bullet to the airport during a terror alert. A terror alert specifically for Americans.

The emotionless German woman screening bags, hair pulled tight into a bun, pale and plump and lips pursed, dug and dug through tunnels of junk. Eight chapsticks (two oranges, grape, mint, plain, kiwi, raspberry tart, and something shiney which I think was bubblegum), three packs of half eaten gum, honeysuckle salve in a pot, four hair ties, random notes on pieces of paper, a new, crisp journal, two iPods, two sedatives, a lighter with a pretty bird in a tree, four pens, twelve euro in random change and three piles of dirt, all dumped onto the metal. She couldn’t find it and I pretended I had no idea what she was looking for, only it was clearly pointy, sharp looking, bullet like and very obviously the only thing left in the purse. And then she found it, tucked in the side little pocket, way down at the bottom. She pulled it out and started to twist it, like lipstick. Idiot. It was obviously not lipstick. She asked if I spoke German. When I said no, she seemed annoyed/delighted but then proceeded to carry on the world’s worst interrogation.

“What is this?” She kept twisting the damned bullet like a lipstick was going to pop out any time now. It was pissing me off. I wanted her hands off my bullet.

“Mmm, it’s a bullet. Well, it’s a bullet but it’s not REAL bullet. Well, it’s a real bullet but it’s actually a gift. An award. Harmless. See, I was at this conference two weeks ago and I did a great job and so instead of a paper award, I got this award and….” She looked unimpressed and was waving her hand around to catch the eyes of a very serious and very German group of police officers and suits. Oh good god, this wasn’t looking good. I had no idea what the rule was about bullets in airports but I felt like whatever the rule was, it was not going to be in my favor.

“English?” The German police officer dressed in blah olive with the serious hat asked as he approached me.

“Yes.” Captain obvious.

“Can you explain why you have this in your purse?”

“Well, like I was telling her, I was just at this conference in Grafenwoehr.” I felt like if I tossed in the name of a German city and peppered it with some emphasis, he’d think I knew my way around Germany and therefore was harmless and hopefully just stupid. “So I was there, and I got this award,” I explained, as I pointed to the bullet. “And I was showing my husband and then I put it in my purse and I swear to God I thought I put it away and now I’m going home to get married and I’m stupid.” I just stopped explaining. The serious German was stroking my bullet like a pervert and his buddies, another cop and the head of airport security, were staring at it and almost drooling. “I’m just stupid. Really stupid. I swear to God I’ll never bring a bullet in the airport again. I didn’t mean to.” And then I thought I’d prove to him that I’m harmless.

“I don’t even have what goes with it.” I didn’t think saying the word gun was going to help my situation. Instead, I pulled my pockets inside out like a beggar but then remembered I had on military issued army pants from a neighboring country that I bartered for at the Exercise. Fucking christ. Don’t ask me why I was wearing military pants. Ok fine. They are comfortable as shit and I feel like I can stretch it out easily in them and potentially do some sprinting or squatting or leg crossing in them effortlessly if need be. Not that I ever sprint anywhere. Anyway. That is why I was wearing them at the airport. They are very nice military issued cargo pants.

The serious German sighed and passed around my bullet like it was show and tell. The head of security almost messed himself which led me to now be both petrified and bullshit.

“Well, you can keep it. Obviously. I don’t want it back. I have no need for it, actually.” He smiled like a creep and didn’t say anything, which was making me nervous. I didn’t even dare look at Chris. I was really in for it.

“You’re lucky its Wednesday,” creepy German cop declared.

“Why Wednesday?” I knew he was making me ask and I wanted my bullet back so I could stab him in the neck with it.

“We don’t put Americans in German jail on Wednesdays.” Well that’s a lie if I ever heard one. Then he laughed and tossed his head back like we were all going to have a good giggle about it. I pretended to belly laugh it out with him but I was not amused on the inside.

“Thank you so much. I’ll never do it again.” What I would do, I thought, though, is get a new goddamned bullet when I return. This story should surely make the boss give me another one, I thought as I dumped my junk back in my purse.

I waltzed over to Chris like nothing had just happened.

“Are you happy, Heather? You almost got us both arrested. You’re lucky your ass didn’t just get tossed on the floor in cuffs. What in the hell were you thinking, bringing that bullet in your purse? I TOLD YOU TO LOOK FOR IT.”

Oh, well I’ll be damned. He was SCOLDING ME LIKE A CHILD. Not.the.boss.of.me, my brain screamed as it flashed red and I lost my shit again, this time not afraid to go to German jail/waterless shower. I started shrieking.

“LIKE I DID IT ON PURPOSE?? LIKE I MEANT TO BRING THE BULLET HERE?” My pitch was doing that escalating to white noise thing again. “Oh, I hope you’re happy that you just made me feel more awful when I ALREADY FELT AWFUL AND NOW YOU HAVE.PISSED.ME.OFF.” White noise, white noise. Then I tossed in, “on the way home TO.OUR.WEDDING.” Because now this bullet incident was all his fault and so was upsetting me and this is how I make sure I never feel bad or guilty in life because I table turn. I am a master turner of tables.

He rolled his eyes. I crossed my arms and huffed loudly.

I wanted a new bullet.

***Picture of bullet is my new bullet, given to me today as a replacement. I am back in action.

28 Reasons I Love My Sister

There are more than twenty-eight reasons, but today is Katie’s 28th birthday and so we’ll only go over 28…..Since she already got her gifts from me this week before I left, I’ll use this as her birthday card, because I forgot to leave one behind. And because I like to embarrass her in public sometimes.

So today, on Monday, October 25, happy, happy, wicked happy birthday to you, Katie, Bugs, Keeks, Smitty, Gidget, KEW, best sister a gal could ever have. Today I gift back to you all the gifts you’ve already given to me….a few of the many, many reasons I love, love, love you. More than grilled cheese. More than my new Patriots sweats. More than filled up ice-cube trays. More.than.(shhh)Moxie. So here we go!

1. You believe in me. Even when no one else does. Even when I say things like, No, I swear, I’m sleeping in my car in the woods by myself and I’m scared of the dark. And then I cry and then you cry and then I forget I’m scared and I just remember I love you.

2. Half the time you believe everything I say, or you used to. Like the times I told you my feet smelled like strawberries and then kicked you in the face when you smelled them. Or when I said the mud pie we made was actually chocolate pie and so you ate it and then I got slapped on the ass for making you swallow a pound of sand.

3. You took one for the team by having nappy hair. Let’s not get huffy, though. You did get the tits and the legs. That makes you spoiled.

4. You are the world’s best secret keeper. Nothing I will ever tell you will shock you. Or bore you. I may horrify you, but you’ll keep it to yourself.

5. You are always brutally honest with me. Like the time you told me I was the definition of a sociopath. Or all the times you’ve told me I look awful. Or that I’m an asshole. Or that I’m an awful looking, asshole of a sociopath.

6. You take care of little kids and old people, both of which are my worst nightmare. And you like it. And you care so much that when they are sick or don’t wake up the next day, you cry and take it personally. Then you go to work the next shift and save someone’s life.

7. People trust you to save them. I’d trust you to save me. You’d have a lot working against you, but I’d still trust you.

8. You have little hands with long and pretty fingers. Your fingers were meant for rings. My digits look like that of a Hobbit. You win.

9. When you laugh your eyes twinkle and the edges of your eyes crinkle up, which is lucky because it’s better than a forehead crinkle, which is what I got.

10. You know every disease, ailment, medicine, treatment, dosage and early indicator there is on the planet. That means you’re really smart. Learning all that the year Dad died when your head was kinda crazy makes you really smart. And driven. And motivated.

11. You always let me be the boss. The boss of the barbies, of the tree fort, of the bus stop, of pretty much everything. I never even had anything to barter with. You just always played nicer than I did.

12. You’re creative. You’re really good with a glue stick and some glitter and candles, picture frames, you name it. Your best attempt at creativity, though, was the time I slept with those cloth dolls we got for Christmas and I drooled all over it and washed its face off in the middle of the night. It was you that offered we color it back in with markers and crayons. It didn’t work but it was brilliant at the time.

13. Even though you are the innocent one, you have some great stories that I have logged in case you ever turn on me. Which I’m sure you will. And then I will unleash to the world the value of a bobsled race and a supply of tubesocks. Your secret stories make me laugh until I want to throw up.

14. You’re a scrapper. Remember the time, during the middle of a family dinner, you jumped at me and ripped the shirt off my head, tossing it into the snow, only to leave me topless and foaming at the mouth in front of our whole family? Just because I said the magic word of the week that I knew would set you off? That was a great night. I should have started calling you Pitbull a long time ago.

15. We’ve mastered that speak with your eye thing. We are beyond good at it. In fact, we could not speak for a whole week but log at least 93 million conversations at the same time if you go by the secret, speak with your eyes to mock and trick people, method. Oh we are so good.

16. You are going to be a great wife and mother. I think you use coupons. And you actually watch your dog when he’s outside. And you buy your fiance what he likes at the store. And you help him make his lunch. And your house is a home. And when I’m home you treat me like I’m a guest at the Ritz. You’re really pretty selfless. I wonder where you got that from.

17. You know me better than anyone. Hence the reason on days you know I’m bullshit, upset or potentially commitable, you don’t call and say stupid shit like, “How are you? Are you ok? What’s wrong?” You also know to call me on days I’m really excited so that you can listen to me ramble for an hour without stopping. You’re pretty patient. I’ve always liked that about you. 🙂

18. You’re really strong. I bet you can still beat me an in arm wrestling competition. And I know you can do more push-ups than I can. And I really do know that you’re the other strong. The kind of strong that remains standing when the storm is over.

19. We can do ridiculous things like naked spray tan together. And I believe you that the only reason you’re laughing is because my legs are shaking and I am spitting brown toxic tanning juice, not because I’m naked and shaking around demanding you rub down my ass and make sure my back and neck don’t streak. That’s sisterly love.

20. You hold my hand when I need it and you punch me on the arm when I deserve it. Sometimes you punch me on the arm and then hold my hand. I love you for both.
21. You already know the art of taking a good photo. Tits up, side stance, gang sign and open mouth. Perfection.

21. You are happy with what you have. You are not searching for the next best thing. You are grateful and thankful and you will always make the most of what you have and find the bright side of everything. I like that the world doesn’t always have to be a complicated drama for you to be happy.

22. You make me laugh until my stomach hurts, until I cry, until I almost pee myself. You are hysterically funny and you don’t even try. Funny isn’t even your thing. That usually means you’re extra funny.

23. You’re the exact opposite of me. You will avoid a social situation at any cost and you’d rather wipe someone’s ass or feed them through a tube than give a speech on socialism or the state of our country’s economy. I can write circles around you, but while I do, you’re probably delivering a baby. You are grounded. I am out of control. You are beautiful. I am funny. You are selfless and I am the definition of selfish. You are my better half, and if I wasn’t already married, I’d just stay single and grow old with you, in that creepy, why is your middle-aged sister still living with us, type way. 🙂

24. Your driving will forever be worse than mine. Like a ride through hell. Like sometimes if you’re in the passenger seat, you calculate if you have a better chance at survival by throwing yourself out the moving car, tucking and rolling for safety. I like that only your driving skills make mine better. Otherwise, I was in the running for Worst Driver Ever. Thank you.

25. When everything is really bad, you understand why wishing on stars and hoping for magic seems reasonable. And you do it with me.

26. You will always be the other half of the Smith sisters. You are also the only person on this earth that would tattoo the same thing on your body.

27. You’re just a nice person. You’re sweet and you’re thoughtful and you’re sensitive. You’re all the adjectives I am not and sometimes I wish I was a bit softer, like you. Not soft like chubby, soft like fuzzy, like a kitten. In case you needed the clarification.

28. You are my very, very best friend. I’m lucky I didn’t have to go find one. Mom gave you to me when I was three. At the time, I thought you were a pretty terrible and loud birthday gift, not to mention you pretty much ruined my birthday week, but ehhh, that’s all behind us. 27 years later, I think you’re pretty great. The best, in fact.

Happy Birthday, Katie. I love love love you more than anything in this WHOLE WORLD.

Eloping in Denmark: Pirate ships, lesbians, lost rings and marrying for that Visa.

As much as I’d love to write about the success of our second and final marriage, I think I’ll wait until all the pictures come out so that I don’t post the same 12 pictures over and over again. I will squeeze a few in here and there, though, because so far, they are pretty nice and it seems wrong to discuss last year’s marriage and not the one we just had 8 days ago. (whew! already 8 days ago??) So our first attempt at marriage, the one that was to take place in the duplex law office across from Fuddruckers, on the lovely back streets of Alexandria, VA (the transitional, Mexican area), failed miserably. Let’s just say a lot of people wanted to be included, which wasn’t.the.point, and we are people pleasers and I suppose in retrospect, it just wasn’t the word’s nicest idea. Practical never seems to be able to moonlight as smart in our lives and most definitely not with our parents. And so we moved to Germany, engaged, excited and hopeful that I could land a job within 90 days. And naive. Did I say naive?

July and August 2009 were months of leisure. I drank and read my way through each afternoon, searched for jobs and filled out nearly impossible to understand applications for 6 hours each day, collected references and just waited. With each day of unemployment, I grew more and more depressed. I felt worthless, bored and scared I would be 1. sent back 2. forced to live the life of a stay at home dogwalker. My own dogwalker. Ugh, how unsatisfying and terrifying. The days ticked away and soon it was September. I only had a month left. It was clear I would not be getting a job before I would be getting deported. And so we turned to plan B, our plan B, not that little miracle a few of my friends use on a monthly basis after relations with an unidentified man gone wrong. Our plan B is slightly different.

Plan B. We would marry over here. We would elope and then we would plan on our real wedding. But where to elope? Germany, home of a million unnecessary rules, was just going to take too long and it was clear there would be some sort of registration process, background check and perhaps an interrogation and I was not really interested in subjecting myself to German terror for a marriage license. And so then we heard about Denmark. Denmark is the European Vegas for eloping. In fact, it’s one of the only countries in the world that allows for a direct transfer of your marriage license to U.S. paperwork. Get married in Denmark and you may as well have been in Boston. Done deal. We’d go to Denmark.

We applied for a timeframe that seemed to fit my deportation schedule and off we sent the paperwork, which was really nothing more than a few numbers. Two days later came our date choices. We were given two dates in September, both Fridays, and told we needed to check-in on a Wednesday. Smart Danish make you stay four days in the country to get married. They really knew how to promote tourism. We really knew how to get around it. The date we picked, September 18, was the best we could do, and even that wasn’t great. We had Lainie coming to town Thursday that week—in Frankfurt! And so here was my wedding week schedule.

Tuesday, September 15: Drive ten hours after work to border of Germany, dogs in the trunk, one cotton dress packed, rings from VA in tow. Park in nice, quaint collegiate town of Kiel, Germany, just over the border of Denmark, where we eat bread and cheese, watch movies on our laptop and sleep in our car. Ahh, luxury. Call parents and tell them we are in Germany still, thinking about eloping this weekend in Denmark. Seems to go over better than the first time. The constant use of deportation seems to have them stumped. Either they don’t want me back, or they don’t want to be blamed.
Wednesday, September 16 Check in to Haderslev, Denmark, rathaus. Fill out pre-marriage paperwork, write a check, pick a time for wedding to be performed Friday. Promptly leave, grab a coffee and get back in car. :We had 17 hours to get back to Frankfurt to pick up Lainie at the airport. Proceed to haul ass across the world in the Prius, dogs in tow.
Thursday, September 17: Pick Lainie up at 5am and promptly tell her we will be driving to Denmark immediately for our wedding and SURPRISE!! she was going to be our witness. She glances at the dogs in the trunk and laughs. She’s in. Drive all day BACKTOWHEREWEJUSTCAMEFROM and stop in Kiel again for the evening, as Lainie reminds us we have to have a bachelor and bachelorette party. She’s right. At least we get a hotel.

We made a few stops on the way to Kiel, mostly to have a few drinks, convince Lainie it was a good idea to come to Germany, and to break up the 24 hours of driving we had been doing in the past 36 hours. And then finally, Thursday afternoon, we were in Kiel, where we’d stay for the night until it was time to drive to our wedding site the next morning. What to do, what to do. First, we ate all the bread and cheese we had brought with us, dropped the dogs off in the room and mixed us some cocktails. Then we made a few family phone calls, where almost everyone seemed genuinely happy for us, even if it was 2pm on a Thursday on the east coast. Then we drank some more and played with some of the gifts Lainie had brought. All class, all the time. We wandered the streets until we found our standard Irish bar, where we firmly took our place on stools and drank shots until we were warm enough and ambitious enough to go to the bar next-door–the one with the interesting looking goth crowd and the pirate ship inside. It would be one hell of a wedding eve. I can never decide whether I think the, “hobos take the road to marry for visa” part of the story is the most charming, or the fact that we danced the night away with one of our best friends in a bar that housed a life-sized pirate ship is the more interesting part of marriage eve. Maybe I can’t decide because I drank red bull vodkas until I threw up in the toilet, only to go get myself another celebratory shot because it was my WEDDING EVE and I was going to party every last ounce of single out of me if it sent me right into hangover hell. Which it did. But at least we danced the night away. (see action photo to right)

Wedding day! The alarm went off a half hour late and the three of us, sleeping side by side by side in the double bed, dogs on the floor, groaned as we heard it blare loud and louder. We had 30 minutes to get out the door, look wedding presentable and be in the car to make it to Haderslev–and that was if we wanted to be on time to the minute. Jesus, I can’t even get my shit together on my wedding day. Shocking. I don’t shower, not surprising to anyone, and neither does Chris. He is busy ironing his pink shirt and I am busy pulling my cotton dress over my head with one hand and brushing my teeth with the other, in a very futile attempt to brush the booze away. Lainie is the only one that makes a real attempt to look nice. Her hair is washed. She has no wrinkles and she’s wearing eyeliner. Whether it’s from the night before, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter. She surely looks better than me, the bride. Off we go, bags in hand, down to the car. I make a last attempt at organization. “Does anyone have the rings??” I am told they are in the green duffle bag.

We load the car, the dogs, ourselves and we are off. Chris backs up. We back over the curb, I think. It does not matter. We are racing toward the border, hoping for no speed limits or cameras. 40 minutes and one border later and we are in Haderslev. The doors all fling open.

“Hurry, hurry, hurry. We are one minute late to my wedding.” I whine. I am being a bitch. I am angry. This is not how this is supposed to go. I look up at Chris for some reassurance. “Oh good fuck, what the hell did you do to your shirt?” He looks down at said shirt. Only the left side is ironed. The entire right side looks like it just came out of the dryer, one without dryer sheets.

“I ironed it. I thought. I forgot to do one side.” Well.OBVIOUSLY.

“It looks awful. I hope you’re happy that one half of our pictures are going to look stupid.” Usually this is where he would say, you look stupid, but today is a special day and he has more restraint than I ever do.

Lainie is trying to keep me calm. “Where are the rings? Let’s get those and everything will be fine.”

“In the green bag, like you guys said.” Why are they asking me questions like this right now?

“I can’t find the green bag.” She says this knowing I am going to lose my shit in about 3 seconds. I look at Chris. He looks at the ground.

“I think I backed over them. In Kiel. When we left the hotel.” He says this calmly, full well knowing I was GOING TO REALLY LOSE MY SHIT NOW.

“You.DID.WHAAAAAAAT????????? You did what? YOU BACKED OVER THE RINGS?????? AND YOU DIDN’T TELL ME??” I am the definition of losing.my.shit and I am shrieking at an ucomfortably high pitch and want to murder someone but instead I decide to have a meltdown. “How am I supposed to MARRY YOU WITH NO FUCKING RINGS? WHO BACKS OVER THE RINGS? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO USE FOR A RING? I am about to have a panic attack and I am starting to cry.

“WHERE.ARE.THE.RINGS?” I am now horror film scary and irrational.

“I told you. I think I backed over them in Kiel and…”

“You hit something and you didn’t stop??? You just kept going? Did you know it was the rings? What if it was a child?” I don’t even think he was listening to me anymore. He was smiling his, She’s losing her shit and nothing will talk her down, maybe if we smile and pretend she’s not here we’ll all have a nice time until she comes back down from Crazytown, look. I could see it. I knew what he was doing.

“We don’t need rings to get married, honey. We have each other and our health and the dogs…” He is using that quiet and even talk me down like I’m a spoiled child voice that actually never works it just makes my head want to explode. And then he does it. He claps. The seal clap. The one that means he’s made a discovery or he’s created a solution to my meltdown and the clap signifies that his solution is going to be fantastic.

Out of the corner of my eye I see her toss something to him underhand, with a smile on her face. When he catches it, he lights up and they knowingly nod at each other. I have no idea what the fuck Crockett and Tubbs are up to (Chris claims he’s Crockett) but they sure seem pleased with themselves. I am tapping my foot, arms crossed across my chest, frown still in place.

“Look! You use your ring and I will use this. You give me this.” He is holding a round keychain in one palm and all of our keys are in his other hand. I am going to marry him using our Prius keychain. I am going to either pass out or smash something. We are seven minutes late to our own wedding.

“I am NOT happy right now.” And to be sure they knew it, I stomped my foot as hard as I could. I am 30 and I am stomping my foot like a four year old damnit and I want all of Denmark to know I am pouting. Chris makes me hold his hand the whole way in, even though he knows I despise doing so, primarily due to an undiagnosed sweaty palm issue. He in fact refuses to let my hand go. I am going to jump out of my own skin.

“Heather and Chris! Good to see you. You’re next. This is our officiant, Ms. MeetYourFirstEuropeanMiddleAgedLesbianHippy.” She was just that, really. And she spoke so quietly I had to lean in to hear. That’s quiet. We were ushered into a room. “We decorated for you.” There was a big white candle and a big, velvet pillow and a bouquet of flowers. It wasn’t that bad for a town hall wedding. Well, it was fine until the officiant asked for our rings.

“Could you please hand me the rings for the exchange?” We handed them to her. She looked at them. She looked at us. She looked at me.

“He ran over the other set in Germany. It’s our keychain.” She smiled that “I see” smile that I felt translated into, aren’t you two just.so.special? Damn her and her soft spoken, hemp smelling, even keeled because I may or make not smoke weed, disposition. “Well then.”

The actual ceremony was nothing to make fun of. We repeated her simple vows. We held hands. I felt insane amounts of anxiety for not knowing what to say or do. The pictures just looked awkward and there is a video, but Lainie had it taken away from her and we have hid it so deeply in our video archives that it’s beyond, beyond, beyond Chris’ “adult classics.” We will never show it. It’s awful. We look petrified, hungover and like we’ve never heard of this fancy little business called the dry cleaner. It will never be viewed. Ever.

The wedding, however, happened. It really happened and though it was not perfect, it was perfectly us. And in a matter of 36 hours, three border crossings, two missing rings and one exchange of vows, we were husband and wife. As in really married. Hurray!

And that is the story of our first marriage.

***New header today is compliment of the Jens in NH. They take great pics!

Life at 31, godless womb and all

Today, on my most favorite day of the year, I am 31. Normally I get really annoying on my birthday, announcing it to everyone and calling people who haven’t called me yet just to see how their day at work is going. I don’t care about anyone’s day. I never even listen to anything they say until I hear the word HAPPY. I am awful. I am forever 6 on my birthday.

Not this birthday, though. This birthday I am just content. I am happy and I have had a HUGE month and a crazy year last year and lots to look forward to next year and so all I really want today is a snuggle, a nap and dinner with my family. I mean I did get some new glasses, new Pats sweats, a new fancy ring and a new last name. Not too shabby for 31, right?

So today I had planned on writing about all I learned in my 30th year but turns out that is going to take a while so we’ll save that post for a reflective Sunday, when I have enough time to post some words of wisdom. Or when I have time to post the, I’m in my 30s and still have no idea what I’m doing in life, list. (it keeps getting longer, if that’s even possible) Then I thought I’d post about what I’m looking forward to at 31, but that’s pretty easy. More traveling, a new house, a kid, who knows. Yes, I said the word kid, but no worries. No rush and here’s why. My husband wants no part of putting a child in my godless womb. Which for the record isn’t all my fault. He MAKES me be social 6 days a week and there is a long list of people who drive me to drink. Oh and I hate the gym. So maybe some of it is my fault. TBD.

So here’s a conversation I had with the Mr. today over iced coffee while running errands– (ON MY BIRTHDAY, no less) which was fitting and comical.

“So. Maybe today I’ll take the bc out, we can have some sexy time and I’ll get knocked up on my birthday. That’d be nice, right?” I am a hopeless romantic.

“Don’t you think we should be a little more healthy? I might want to go to the gym a few times first.” He is being practical, and yes, I could use a few gym sessions, primarily because it’s probably not reasonable or comfortable to wear shapewear for 9 months. Or is it brilliant? Yes! I almost forgot! This reminds me that I have been intrigued by those jeans got attacked by stretchpants things for years. They have always looked so comfortable and fun, hanging in the, It’s ok you’re fat if only from the front, Maternity Store, that I’ve passed a few times in the mall. I am 31 and getting excited about pregnant girl pants on my birthday. Ugh. I remember we are having a conversation about something most people consider really important.

“And maybe drink some water and eat some vegetables first? I suppose it’s not best to put a baby in this oven.” I look at my stomach, picture what my organs look like and make a face. “Yeah, maybe we wait. We don’t want this child to hate us too early.”

“Yeah, let’s wait. Putting a child in that womb is about as smart as dropping a child off in the airport smoking room. Maybe next month.” Ahhhh, my husband. Always the voice of reason.

And then we laughed until our stomachs hurt. And then ten minutes later we ate leftover chinese takeout. 🙂

So I meant to also post about better Heather resolutions (I just give up, really. The laziness always wins.) and how we eloped last year in Denmark because I cannot discuss the wedding I just had without discussing the wedding from last year because I hate working backwards but the whole filthy womb thing was much easier to get out and it’s my birthday and it’s also nap time.

Lastly, for the record, I love my thirties.

Tying the knot, second time around.

So, yes, I’m a big fat liar. We’ve lied to some of you, told some of you, kinda hinted to some more and then flat out said nothing to even more of you. I am sorry. Kind of, not really.

I’m already a married woman. I’ve actually been married for OVER A YEAR NOW. (Ha! I can hear the gasps and swears now) We’re just home now to do it the right way. In front of friends and family and with lots of food and candles and fall treats. We’re going to have ourselves a real-ish wedding and it’s going to be the perfect fall vacation I’ve been dying for. In fact, I’m at the lake now and it’s kick ass. It’s 50. It’s sunny and clear skies. The leaves are straight out of a crayon box and the lake sparkles. The house smells like a hearty fire was just put out, there’s enough booze here to kill 8 horses and I have been walking around the house in sweats and barefoot, loving.my.life.

Who cares about the 2.0 wedding, though, right? If you know us, you know the first wedding is where the story is at and I’ve been DYING to type it out and post it but I was never sure when the right time was. Well, a little unveiling of the first story right before the second one seems juuuuust right. Because it is a pretty good story.

So, last year we decide to up and move to Germany and do it within a month-ish of the offer. Very unselfish of us. So we tell our families and our friends and our jobs and we hold our breath until everyone says, Ok, whatever. You two are insane. Then we celebrate and jump up and down and plan out our new lives in Europe. I personally decide I will dress like a Bond girl daily, which shocking, never happened.

Then we attempt to get married the first time. Oh, there was a first attempt, yes. The attempt is even BEFORE the first secret wedding. About 8 days before we are to hope a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, the Mr. and I have this conversation over the phone.

“I think we should get married at the town hall before we leave. As in Tuesday, when you get back from visiting your family in CT.” That is me, somewhat bullying my fiance at the time to marry me at a town hall location that is conveniently across the street from a Fudruckers in Alexandria, VA. Who doesn’t want to get married for the first time in front of a burger joint?

“Married here? Before we leave? I thought we decided to wait and see how it all went with the visa and the job hunting and…” I do not let him finish.

“I made us an appointment for Tuesday at 4pm. Think about it. Tell your parents I say hello.” I hung up. Well, he’ll think about it and it’ll be done, won’t it? Oh, I knew what I was doing. The girl who hates churches and dresses and the awkward garter taking off thing was going to have herself a real town hall wedding and it was going to be quick and simple and we’d work out the real one later.

And my parents expect such behavior from me. They know that I do not give a rats ass about what anyone thinks about my life. I do not care who approves of my bad ways and I do not live to make anyone happy, all of this to their misfortune, of course, because I am obviously not a very traditional or reliable child to have around. HOWEVER. I am fun and I am good for a “Oh my kid has your kid beat” story at the check-out line in the grocery store so I figure we’re even.

I am also clearly not good at considering another family or their feelings. I admit this. (birthday goal number 4 addresses this I believe)

So anyhoo, of course he decides I am right, we shall marry the following Tuesday and it will be easiest on us and what? we’re getting married anyway….what does it matter if the first secret wedding is at a town hall? It doesn’t.

And so, the morning of Wedding Tuesday comes and we jump out of bed and prepare for our nuptials. We stroll into Old Town to get lattes and a marriage license. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. I get a pretty white dress from the Gap that flows and isn’t too sexy or too modest. He puts on a shirt that he actually irons with some dress pants. We find rings to exchange at Target and Nordstrom and we’re almost out the door when I say,

“I have to tell my mother and sister. All of our mail is going to them and if it shows up saying your last name with my first name they’re going to know and good god, I just have to tell them. It’ll be quick.”

The call to my mother was less painful than the one to my sister. I think my mother just went with, “I hope you know what you’re doing. I hate to see you doing it this way.” route. Katie went with something similar but with more disappointment and guilt and our conversation ended with me huffing, “I hope you’re happy you just ruined my wedding day,” because I’m not dramatic or anything.

“Well now I have to tell my family.” I think Chris was going to pass out.

I decide to give him a little privacy and run off to find my father in his little urn, because I realize we don’t have a witness and I have my father with me somewhere near the boxes I had packed for Germany and he should at least be at the wedding, right? Ah, I find my father on the mantel and put him in my pocket. Things are coming together.

Things are not going well for Chris. In fact, we don’t make it to the town hall across from the Fudruckers that day. Well, we made it there. We just didn’t go in for fear that we’d just got ourselves uninvited from every family holiday from then until we had children to barter with.

But I did make him take me to the lobster and steak dinner with champagne that we had planned out for after. Just because I could still mark “single” on a tax return didn’t mean I wasn’t going to eat the fuck out of a steak that night.

And so, there you have ATTEMPT AT MARRIAGE 1.
More marriage stories to follow as we get close to the big day.

You can take the girl out of Maine…

But you can never take Maine out of the girl.

Last night I watched a re-run of No Reservations, the Maine episode, and though it was kinda boring and I don’t think it hit all the right spots and Bourdain was kind of awkward in it a lot of the time, it made me three things. 1. Miss home 2. Get pumped that I am going there in 24 hours! 3. Become overwhelmed with a sense of pride that I sometimes lose touch of.

So. As I gear up to welcome myself back home to the Vacationland, I thought I’d post my thoughts about being a girl from Maine.

They say Maine women aren’t fancy. We’re not. We’re also not complicated. What we are is this. We are loyal and thick skinned and tough as nails. We are hard working and we are smart. We appreciate quality, not quantity and we pick the funny ones, that ones that will make good husbands and even better fathers, the best friends. We are funny and dry and witty and if you don’t understand our humor, we won’t explain it to you. Our eyes can tell you a lifetime full of stories, and each set will. We are strong and we are often quiet (some of us) and we are simple in a way that we value those people that we have now and the trinkets and memories of those we have no longer, but labels and things that you can attach a price have no place in our lives.

We need the ocean because it cleanses us. We need the forest because it brings peace to us and we need the mountains because they challenge us. We need long winters filled with ice and snow because it reminds us to be grateful. We need the springs filled with mud and rain rain rain because it replenishes and hydrates and brings hope. We need the sunshine and cool breeze and the smell of sun and sand on the coast because it reminds us of young love and kissing on beaches under the moonlight during nights that never end. And we need the fall, the clean and crisp and vibrant fall to bring fresh starts with clear minds and open hearts.

We know what a loon sounds like on a lake at sunrise. We know how to paddle a canoe. We’ve collected pine cones and lightning bugs and skipping rocks and sea shells and dead crabs and acorns and milkweed silk by the basket. We’ve built forts and jumped off rope swings. We throw footballs and split wood. We know secret remedies for mosquito bites and skinned knees and broken hearts, though the broken heart thing is easy. Every girl from Maine knows that a walk in the fresh air and a lobster roll is the best start to forgetting a stupid boy.

We are quirky and awkward and tomboyish and imperfect. I am no exception to any of this, but I’m proud of it all.

And so, this girl is ready to go back to Maine for the month of October, where right now, she belongs.

Lastly, of course I am behind on Birthday Month goals. I hate to just toss out four day’s worth because I was too lazy to write one every day. Goddamnit that I forgot yesterday. Hmm.

Oct 2: Write letters this holiday season to the people I am grateful to have in my life. Last minute Christmas cards don’t count.
Oct 3: Make family albums from the past 10 years so when we all get old, fat or die in dramatic fashion, we’ll have books to remember each other by. Not morbid, just sensible.
Oct 4: Work on my insistence in being a selfish person. I am. No way around it. I do only what I want, when I want and it freaks me the fuck out of anyone tries to change me. It’s probably not as charming as I think it is to be so “independent”. But if compromise starts to be too much work, I might switch back to embracing my independent spirit. TBD.
Oct 5: Find my Dad’s family in Germany. Bonn, Germany. I’m here and the rathauses have town records like you wouldn’t believe. Considering most of the Smith family is gone and there are no boys left to carry the family name, I need a family history. I just don’t want us to disappear. That really scares me. Plus, it’s either that or continue tattooing myself, which could get out of control.

So there. More dramatics about Heather. I get this way every.blasted.time.i.hop.a.flight.home. Ugh.

Accents, you make me LOSE.MY.SHIT.

Everyone that knows me knows I love foreign accents. And that I do terrible accents when I’m drunk. And so, true story, this video makes me LOSEMYSHIT, but in a really, high five, jump up and down, giggle a lot while slapping my knee type way. Woo hooo, I heart this video more than I could even tell you. Game on, I need to know 30. Forget trying to learn an actual language. Who needs that when you can learn skills like this? My god, this kid is talented. I want to drink a beer with him.

Check out this video STAT. Good take a break from work type stuff. Happy Monday to me.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/01/24-english-accents_n_747400.html

October is here!

Today is one of my most favorite days of the year. For me, today is better than Christmas and second only to my birthday, which is only 20 days away.

It’s October 1st, the start of the best time of the year. It’s the first day of the first week of my favorite month in my FAVORITE SEASON. I’ll admit, it’s a bit different here in Europe than it is back home, but since I’ll be home for 16 days this year during my favorite month, it’s worth getting excited about. Fall, fall, I love fall.

This week is the week the leaves all change in New England. This week they’ll all turn from bright and green to bursts of burnt orange, candy apple red, maze yellow and milk chocolate brown.

It’s state fair season. Mounds of coarsely chopped potatoes, still dressed in their skins crackle and dance in vats of swimming oil, just waiting to be dumped in paper cups and showered with red vinegar and sprinkled with sea salt. Powdered sugar dusts the chilly noses of those devouring the warm and soft and sweet funnel cake that’s eaten once a year. Walkways filled with hay and fresh soil lead to fat and creamy pink piglets that snort and squeal with anxiety and excitement. Cows chomp and moo and stomp and poo in stalls stacked high with bales of neatly pressed flaxen hay.

It’s full into football season and the chirp of whistles, the crushing of pads and whoosh of kick-off returns can be heard every Sunday. The air smells crisp and of wet leaves. On dry and crisp fall days, you can hear the crunch as the leaves crackle beneath your boots (it’s also BOOT SEASON!). The wind is blustery in a hair in your face, cashmere scarf over your nose, fingerless gloves are in season type way. Wood is chopped, pushed in wheelbarrows, and stacked on Saturday afternoons so lazy Sundays can be filled with napping by the fire as the smoke snakecharms itself out the chimney and fills the air with its earthy and glorious smell. Pumpkins are everywhere and the warm and sweet smell of apple pie/strudel/crumble/crisp billows from cracked windows around the world.

This year, I get to spend most of October at home in Maine. For two weeks I’ll be back for our wedding and I’m really looking forward to all that is fall in New England. It’s also our chance to see all (89) members of our family and friends that we have not seen since we moved over here over a year ago. It’s our wedding/party/reunion extravaganza. I will get to have a joint birthday celebration with Katie and we’ll most likely get a chance to go to our favorite place so that I can say hiya to my Dad. I’ll get all the lobster I ever wanted and I’ll get to hug and kiss everyone that I miss so very much from home.

But fall. For me, fall is my spring or my New Year’s. It’s my chance to make a list of all the things I want to make good on or experience or fix for my next year to come. And so this year, every day of birthday month, I’ll come up with a new, “Here’s to a better, older and wiser, Heather” item to add to my list.

Day 1 goal of birthday month: Have more patience with others and most importantly, myself. “The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are, and look realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen.”–Ralph Marston

Happy October 1st!