Counting Blessings

A friend the other day told me about a friend of hers who was supposed to be married on the same day as I am getting married, May 8th. A routine visit to her doctor turned up a lump in her breast and her whole world turned around in an instant. Wedding plans gave way to chemo plans. How can I possibly complain?

Recently I learned that the last boyfriend I had before meeting Damir is fighting aggressive cancer that started in his mouth and now lives in his lymph nodes and lungs. Earlier this week he underwent a lung biopsy and today he had a port inserted into his arm to facilitate his next round of chemo. How can I possibly complain?
Lately I am feeling a bit like a punching bag, and finding it hard to find the air to breathe. Stress is my constant companion and I don’t like that my frown lines appear to be growing faster than my smile lines. I have to sit down, close my eyes and count my many many blessings. I am much looking forward to a week on the beach, fruity drink in hand.

So Much to Look Forward To

It’s official: I am getting married in less than a month. I am at that stage of wedding planning where planning and thinking about the wedding takes up the majority of my non-sleeping and non-working time. There still feels like much to do, but we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty details. For the most part, all the big stuff is done. Mostly.

There’s so much to look forward to in the coming 40 days:
– My sister and a cousin of Damir’s are throwing me a bridal shower this weekend in Manhattan. Erin is staying the whole weekend and we’ll have some girl time together at a swanky hotel (for free, thanks to work connections). I am looking forward to seeing the small group of ladies who will be coming. The shower will be in my favorite Scottish Pub….haggis for all!
– The week before the wedding my family has rented a beach house near Delray Beach. This will be the first time I sleep under the same roof as both my parents since about 1979. I am deliriously happy about this. It means so much to me to have them all close by and not have to worry about shuttling between one parent and the other. There will be lots to celebrate, my mom’s and Erin’s twin have birthdays in the days before the wedding!
– Obviously I am looking forward to the wedding itself. Though I sorely regret the absence of friends we won’t have by our side, I am glad we are doing something so small. It feels less scary and intimidating that way to me. I know it’s going to be beautiful and imperfect, lovely and exciting. I’ve written the ceremony and adore what we’ll say to one another as our vows. And I love that my sister will be standing up with me, and my brother will be officiating.
– I look forward to the adventure of marriage! Yes, it’s true! And specifically to the man I have chosen. Being Damir’s wife certainly comes with challenges, cultural and domestic, but I feel confident I know what I am getting myself in to. I am marrying a man who I adore, who makes me laugh, who listens (even when I know he doesn’t want to), who dreams big and often, who has a wonderful imagination and adores me to the core. Who could ask for more?
And finally, I look forward to changing the conversation. Wedding planning talk is a bore, so I commend you if you made it this far down the post. I will be happy to come home and start my next project, whatever that may be!

Beverly Hills 60643

I’ve just returned from Chicago, where I was attending my Gram’s funeral this weekend. As I mentioned in my last post, her time was near and she died at home on Friday, March 12th. This was my final trip to her house of over 50 years in the Beverly Hills section of the South Side of Chicago. As I type, my mom and aunt are preparing the long and difficult job of putting together an estate sale and getting the house ready to put on the market.

It was a strange and emotional trip, with lots of tears and laughter. It was so great to see my cousins, aunts and uncles; some of whom I hadn’t seen in many many years. It was also wonderful to hear stories about my Gram from my aunts and spend a little time in her well loved home. Being there with my extended family brought fresh anger over the loss of the Michigan home. With Gram no longer our common denominator, how do we stay a family?
Speaking of Michigan, I found it poignant that Gram’s funeral was on St. Joseph’s day. St. Joe, Michigan is the place where I spent most of my time with Gram during the summers of my childhood. Joseph, her father, immigrated from Sicily to Chicago via Ellis Island. Joseph Jr, his son, took Michigan away from all of us.
I think perhaps I learned more about Gram and my grandfather, who died before I was born, in these few days than I had in my entire life. Isn’t that strange? In many ways, my grandmother was a very private person. Though willing to recount story after story about her family, she was more reticent to speak of herself. Going through stacks of photos, I would ask my aunts, “who is this person?” and inevitably a great story would accompany the answer.
What really touched me was finding dozens and dozens of Hallmark Cards and letters sent between my grandparents. I never understood my grandfather to be an overly affectionate man, but I always knew he was devoted to his family. But these cards told a different side of the story. My grandparents truly adored one another. In these cards, some over 70 years old, you could feel the love they were so lucky to share.
As my own wedding is fast approaching, I can only hope and pray that Damir and I will be as blessed as they were.

The Next Adventure Awaits Her

Mom says it’s just a matter of a day or two now. Maybe even just hours left before Gram passes on. Though her impending death breaks my heart, it is inevitable, as it will be for all of us.
A few years back, Gram told us that sweet angels had started to visit with her a night. Thankfully, she said that she found their presence comforting. And now, from the bed hospice set up in her living room of more than 50 years, she occasionally talks with the family members who already waiting for her at the next stop. Yesterday she started greeting all the people visiting her living room, “Oh, hi! Hi!” People who no longer walk among us are preparing to usher her through.
She fell out of bed a week or so ago which seems to have been the catalyst of a domino effect of deterioration. She was already quite frail, mostly blind and well into dementia. She could no longer retain memory or detail, except for occasional flashes of recollection which would
blow in and out like a rare summer breeze. She’s 92.
Though the physical damage of the fall was mostly repaired (broken hip, broken arm), it became clear a full recovery back to her pre-fall state of health wasn’t going to happen. She couldn’t understand the oxygen mask and the tubes in her arms, she pulled at them despite being told over and over they were vital to her recovery. She couldn’t remember.

But she still has the hearing of a cat. A sneeze across the room would elicit a “God bless you!”and a cell phone ring down the hall would prompt her to ask you to open the door, someone was ringing the bell.

Today my mother whispered into Gram’s ear, not even sure if she was listening, “You’re going to have so many wonderful adventures!” Mom was surprised to get any response, much less this… “I already am.”

Thank you, Gram. I love you.

Open Letter to 2009

Dear 2009,

I am sorry to see you go, since it was a pretty decent year for me. Sure, the country continues to be a mess and I have more than one unemployed friend these days, but selfishly speaking you were good to me, if comparatively uneventful. Maybe even a little boring, but really I can live without any drama for a little while.

We started the year off great with a beautiful trip to the Mayan Riviera. I loved the place we stayed so much I am considering a return visit for our 2010 honeymoon. But we’ll see about that. It was warm, the food was good, and the beach was nothing short of spectacular. Man, I could use a little sun right about now.

In March, Damir and I finally found the place to host our wedding. Woo-hoo! We successfully narrowed a list of over 300 places down to 1. The trip down to FL was short, but successful. In just a week I am heading back down for my 2nd visit, this time with my Mom for some on-site planning. Hopefully I will get a lot done! I learned this year that wedding planning more or less sucks in general. I will be glad to be done with all the details and look forward to an imperfect but wonderful destination wedding.

Work was good. Busy. I got some new projects I am looking forward to taking on.

The highlight for 2009 comes down to a tie: First, becoming an East Coast Auntie to Erin and Tom’s twins has been so amazing! I was lucky to get up to Boston almost every month to see those two cuties. I wish I was just around the corner in my old apartment in Back Bay, but then again, they’d probably pester me to babysit all the time, so it’s just as well (j/k). I can’t wait to see them grow and grow, but love this baby stage a lot! The other highlight has been solidifying friendships with Michelle and Paulina. Having 2 local girlfriends has been a big boost to my LI quality of life. I am starting to feel like LI is more than just a temporary rest-stop and maybe an actual, gasp, home. Life on the home front still isn’t all I want it to be, but I am adapting.

2009, you’ve got a lot of competition in 2010 in terms of being memorable year, but I thank you for being so good to me. Cheers!


Pretzels are the New Bagels? Yes, Please!

Check out the above sandwich is Bresaola, Arugula, Mustard and Mayonnaise on a sesame pretzel. How yummy does that look? It comes from the brand new Sigmund Pretzel Shop on the Lower East Side. Ingenious! I never thought about making a pretzel into sandwich bread before. I will have to somehow try that at home– I just have to figure out how to make pretzels first. No sweat, right?

Another Shocking Admission.

I am starting to actually like Long Island.

WHHHATTT? I never thought it would happen, but it is slowly growing on me. Here’s why:

1) The commute to the city everyday still sucks, but it is a much happier commute now that I have my train friends, Paulina and Michelle. We love to annoy the rest of sedate train folk with our lively chatter in the mornings. And when the girls aren’t with me, I am finding new ways to make that time well spent (thanks mostly to NPR podcasts).

2) Speaking of Paulina and Michelle, it’s great to have finally built up some solid friendships. The three of us never run out of things to talk about! Having someone to run errands with, meet for brunch or drinks, or just a quiet dinner is really life-changing for me here. REALLY. LIFE. CHANGING.

3) There is so much to explore on Long Island! The plethora of state and local parks, cute towns, surprisingly tasty wineries, great beaches… I feel like I could be here a while and still not get bored with the variety of day trips that await me. Looks at all the parks and recreation! I still have a long list of places I want to see.

4) Rockville Centre itself really isn’t that bad. I can walk to the gym, the grocery store, restaurants of various cuisines, the post-office, nail & hair salons, the train station and numerous fun bars and pubs. I love that we have cars that get us further afield, but having the option to walk to local watering holes is excellent. PLUS, it really is a town where people can get to know you. I like that I am greeted by name at many of the places where I run errands. Its still an adjustments after living center-city in Boston and Amsterdam, but being away from the hustle and bustle has a few advantages.

5)I wanted to have a 5th element here, since a list of 4 things really isn’t that impressive. But seriously, it’s all working out just fine over here, despite all the wedding/family stress of late. I don’t know that I will ever feel like NY is my “home”, since in a lot of ways I feel more like an outsider here than I did living abroad. Maybe that just takes a little more time. And since there’s no plan to move anywhere else in the short term, I guess we’ll find out if that’s true or not!

On a happier note…

I lost 20 pounds! YAYYYYY!

Sure, there’s more to be done in that regard, but I am feeling better than I have in a long time about my appearance.

PLUS, ladies with thick unruly hair, you MUST get this product called Moroccan Hair Oil. It has changed my life. Seriously. It’s not cheap, but you can find it cheaper than what’s listed on Amazon. A little goes a long way, so it will last a long time.

What’s Up with My Wedding?

I had promised that I wouldn’t bore you with wedding planning crap, but I have to get this out there: Lately I am kind of dreading my own wedding.

There, I said it. The ugly truth is out there.

Being kind of an event/travel planning control freak has not aided me in this process. I want a hand in everything, but from far away this is proving difficult. And annoying. And painstaking. And expensive. And so overwhelming to the point where I just want to bury my head in the sand.

But what’s really doing me is are my anxieties and my expect-the-worst-scenario-nature that are really getting the best of me.

A summary of my worries:

I am worried that no one will dance.

I am worried I am picking the wrong vendors (DJ, photographer, flowers, etc.)

I am worried that everything will fall apart and everyone will point fingers at me and call me a bad person/wedding planner.

I am worried that my family and Damir’s family won’t find the middle ground to come together and have a good time.

I am worried that I will trip and fall while walking down the grassy aisle.

I am worried that I am making people travel a long distance for something they don’t really want to go to.

I am worried that it will suck.

I am worried no one will like to food (and not having a chance to do a pre-tasting doesn’t help that worry)

I am worried I won’t look my best (humidity + Terra’s Hair = NOOOO!)

I am worried we won’t get the wording of the ceremony right, or people will think it’s cheesy.

I am worried Damir will regret that I talked him into this type of wedding.

I am worried that we will be so busy feeling the need to host all our guests and meeting their needs that we will not be able to focus on the importance of what we are doing for each other, you know, getting married.

I am worried that I will be worried.

And finally, I am worried that my friends are pissed that we are keeping the guest list to just the family. It was a really hard compromise/concession we had to make, but ultimately unavoidable for us. I hope they know that I love them deeply and this shouldn’t be a reflection of the value of our friendship. Hopefully they’re delighted it’s one less wedding to have to go to.

Should I just cancel the whole thing and call it a day? I don’t think that’s the answer, because I do believe in my heart that I can make this work. I am just in the weeds right now and at some point the puzzle pieces will join and the day will be beautiful and exactly what I wanted, or at least mostly so.

Facebook Killed the Radio Blog.

Ever since Facebook came along and provided a faster vehicle to share bits of information, the blog here has fallen to the wayside. It’s harder and harder to sit down and formulate, you know, complete sentences and full paragraphs, when a one-liner more or less sums it all up.

Status Update: Terra is too busy to find the time to Blog.

It makes me sad in some ways, though, since I really really like the process of writing out stories and updates. I should get back to it. So, why wait? RIGHT NOW, I am going to bust out a few entries. Or at least one.