Friday, April 29, 2011

Wedding Whirlwind!!

It's really hard to believe that almost a year and a half has gone by since APL and I got engaged.  And yesterday marked the one month countdown to the wedding!! 

Last week was an absolute whirlwind of pre-wedding celebration and planning! It started with APL and I flying together to Los Angeles so that I could go to my bridal shower and he could go to his bachelor party.

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know that I usually only put one picture with each post. But, because the pictures from last week are so damn happy, I'm going to put a couple more in this post. ~;o) Also, fair warning, this is probably going to be a loooooong post because it has been a very busy and wonderful week. And it's fun to share happy news for once!!

My best friend, LK, and her mom and sister organized my bridal shower. LK and I have been best friends since kindergarten and I spent nearly half my childhood at her mom's house, so it was really fun to be able to have my bridal shower there. The theme of the shower was "travel" to help me prepare for my honeymoon to Spain. LK did a truly amazing job decorating - gorgeous flowers, balloons, flags, maps, old suitcases, and little wooden airplanes. She even got luggage tags for everyone as a party favor. Lunch and drinks were equally delicious. The shower was so pretty it was like something out of a wedding magazine. Though let's not forget my shower cake, selected by LK's mother. LK was scandalized. But it didn't phase the little girls at the party - they just wanted to eat cake!

I got to see and spent a little bit of time with so many wonderful ladies!! High school friends, family friends, my family, Austin's family, my childhood babysitter and her adorable daughter, and my three truly precious flower girls. I had special turquoise necklaces made for my bridesmaids and the flower brigade, and I got to present them at the shower. And my lovely ladies brought me amazing presents for my honeymoon: big floppy hats and gorgeous dresses to wear in Spain, picnic supplies (I think that cheese knife will be key!!), travel games, comfy but cute walking shoes (to deal with foot pain and still look pretty), luggage tags that say "Mr." and "Mrs.," and  even pair of underwear that can be washed so easily and dries so the fast that the tag claims you can travel for 6 weeks with only one pair!! Plus I got enough REI gift cards to buy anything else I might need. Perhaps best of all now I can pretty much put all these gifts in a suitcase and not have to worry about packing for my honeymoon! 

After the shower my sister and I were super happy to be in town for a benefit punk show for Mitchell. Punk is really not my kind of music, but the show was full of such passion and emotion that I really enjoyed it anyhow. And my sister even went into the mosh pit and loved it even though she got kicked in the head by a crowd surfer!

APL also had an amazing time at his bachelor party. The theme was the movie The Big Lebowski. (The story behind that is that APL and I sometimes call ourselves the "Leachowski Family," which is his last name and mine smashed together.) They dressed APL up like The Dude, and his friends dressed up as Walter, Donny, the Nihilist, and even The Jesus. Activities were also inspired by the movie. They ate breakfast at a diner, went bowling (obviously), made APL purchase a carton of milk with his checkbook, drank plenty of white Russians, went indoor skydiving (there are a couple of dream sequences in the movie where The Dude is flying), and generally ran around freaking people out with their costumes. I'm super happy that the boys had so much fun (and no one got pregnant or had a heart attack, because those things happen in the movie too).

Just before APL caught his flight back to Colorado, we had time to go to a Dodger game with my dad, my siblings, and some friends. We even wore "Bride" and "Groom" baseball caps that APL's aunt sent us. Then APL flew home and I spent most of the week working on wedding stuff. My mom helped me go makeup shopping (because apparently I am makeup impaired). She also helped me think about and deal with a hundred other little details. I also got to spend some time with my dad. It was nice to have a chance to talk with both of my parents, in person, about the wedding - especially since I'm the first kid in the family to get married, so it's weird for all of us! The week wasn't all work - I also got to have lunch at the beach, jump in the ocean, and go to a second Dodger game with my mom, her boyfriend, my brother, and two friends who drove all the way down from Bakersfield just to hang out for a few hours (thanks guys!!)

On Thursday I got on a plane to Seattle (where my sister lives) for my re-scheduled bachelorette weekend. LK and I got to spend Friday exploring Seattle - Pikes Place Market, the gum wall, Gasworks Park, the troll - and RK flew in that evening. On Saturday morning my sister made us a beautiful and delicious breakfast at her apartment, and then we drove to Snoqualmie Falls. The weather was gorgeous (but my sister kept assuring us that Seattle was being a liar and that it was in fact the nicest day of 2011). We sat in the spa and sauna, got massages, had a picnic by the falls, went to happy hour, enjoyed a lovely and delicious dinner, and then ended the day relaxing in front of the wood-burning fireplace in our hotel room. And we even got breakfast in bed the next morning. It. Was. AMAZING.

It has been quite a whirlwind. And the fun isn't over because my Colorado girlfriends are throwing me a brunch on Sunday too!  Then there are only two more weeks until River and I get in the car and head for Groveland to get ready for the wedding!

Considering the subject matter of this blog, I'm sure most of you are curious to hear how I'm doing physically with all this excitement. So, as is my promise, I'll be honest: I'm achy. Extremely achy. And dealing with a quite a bit more fatigue than usual. For example, I just tried to run a bunch of errands, but I didn't even make it two hours until my knees were so angry that I had to come home and lay down.

But you know what? I am feeling so damn happy that the way my body feels just isn't bothering me right now. I'm just getting done what I can get done within my limits, and then I'm trying to rest as much as possible and enjoy it. In a weird way all this wedding excitement is kind of liberating, because somehow I feel like the wedding gives me more "permission" to rest than usual. I know I want to be in decent shape for the wedding, so I am having a much easier time talking myself into resting and recognizing when I need it, if that makes any sense. Hopefully I'll develop some better resting habits now that I can use again after the big day!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Bummer

Sadly, after that extremely awkward phone interview, this doesn't really come as a surprise:

Thank you for your interest in the position of camp counselor at Camp JRA.  Unfortunately, we are unable to offer you a position at Camp JRA at this time.  As you may know, the counselor recruitment process was extremely competitive this year.  Each candidate was selected based upon skill sets and capability, and how they would best fit into Camp JRA.   

We do not want to lose your commitment to Camp JRA and kids with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases. We have added your name to our list of potential volunteers. You will receive information about Arthritis Foundation programs and services where you can make a difference! If you wish to be removed from this list, contact me.

Please feel free to apply to Camp JRA again next year. 

Again, thank you for all your time and patience with this process. Thank you for your interest in volunteering at Camp JRA!


Wade Balmer
Director, Camp JRA
I'm bummed about it, because I really do feel I could have make a difference in the lives of those kids - and I'm sure I could have learned from them as well!! But I am pursuing other opportunities for getting involved with the Arthritis Foundation. We'll see what happens.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What Mitchell Taught Me

I never met Mitchell Dubey, but he taught me a very important lesson about life that I will carry close to my heart for the rest of mine.

It was exactly two weeks ago that my little sister called me in tears to say that her best friend, who is like another little sister to me, had called her with some terrible news - her little brother, Mitchell, who was only 23, had been shot and killed in his own home. (You can read more about what happened here or here.) So, instead of celebrating my bachelorette party last weekend, I found myself on a plane to California to attend the funeral and try to figure out how to  provide some comfort to my little sister and her best friend. 

I don't know if I've ever felt as helpless in my life as when I sat on that plane, trying to figure out what I would say or do to help when I reached Los Angeles. I found myself completely fixated on the extreme fragility of life - how a person could be here one second and gone the next. And I just couldn't stop thinking about how unfair and horrible the world seemed. How could a nice vegan kid who worked in a bike shop be shot and killed in his own home??? And how could this tragedy possibly happen to a family that had already had more than their fair share of tragedy?? (Two years ago, their father had a snowboarding accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down.)

From my personal perspective, this tragedy struck a particularly harsh note, since APL and I have so recently been discussing starting our own family. As I sat on that plane and thought about Mitchell and his father and his mother and his sister I couldn't help asking myself, over and over again, how can I possibly bring a child into this unfair and horrible world?

But then I met Mitchell.

I met Mitchell by watching his sister lovingly sort through photos of him, smiling at her baby brother wearing glasses. I met Mitchell in the strength of his parents, who opened their home to a dozen of Mitchell's friends from Connecticut, and even made sure there was vegan food in the house for them. I met Mitchell when my sister and I took a walk on the beach and decided to jump in the freezing ocean, just to feel alive. I met Mitchell by attending his funeral, where the chapel was so full that the service had to be simulcast to the people standing outside. I met Mitchell in the voices of his family and friends, who told so many happy, funny, wonderful stories about his life and all the people he touched - including the fact that a thousand people attended the benefit concert for Mitchell in Connecticut. I met Mitchell as I stood with hundreds of other people dressed in black and crying as he was lowered into the earth. And I met Mitchell when I cried with them.

Mitchell taught me that the world is full of love. He taught me that the birth of one baby boy with glasses could touch the lives of hundreds, even thousands, of people. He taught me that the love of family and friends is the most important thing in the world. And, even though the world may not always be fair, Mitchell taught me that life is always, always, 110% worth it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Awesome Boss

My boss started out as one of my law professors, but has grown to be a mentor and a friend (he's even coming to my wedding!) I was working for him when I first got diagnosed with RA, and since I had such a difficult time adjusting to my new diagnosis, I had no choice at the time but to be completely honest with him about it. Since then we have often frankly discussed my condition and its limitations. And today my honesty totally paid off. 

We were supposed to drive together to a meeting in Fort Collins today, a two hour round trip. However, it turns out my boss isn't feeling very well and thinks he might be coming down with the flu. He is still well enough to go to the meeting, but he decided that he didn't think it was safe for me (and my compromised immune system) to spend two hours in the car with him today. So he's going without me. And I really appreciate his consideration. 

I certainly wouldn't want to be treated like an invalid, but on the other hand it is really nice to have someone recognize the difficulties RA causes for me and do their best to help me - or at least to not make it worse.