Monday, October 13, 2008

For the Love of a Dress

Oh. My. God.
This weekend I became someone I never thought I would be.
I cried over the beauty of a dress.
Who am I?

The "crying-over-the-dress" incident officially marks the moment that the great dress hunt morphed into something totally different than I ever anticipated.
I have done what I never thought I would do: I have fallen in love... with a dress.
Actually, with a whole line of dresses.

I went to New York this weekend to shop for dresses with my best friend who is also my MOH. First we went to David's Bridal, and nothing there worked at all. I felt like I was playing dress up in clothes that were too small for me and it was just so clear that if I got married in a dress from there, I just wouldn't feel like myself on my wedding day. So we hightailed it out of there and headed for SoHo, where I thought I would look for a dress that wasn't actually a "wedding" dress, but that I could wear on my wedding day.

So, we walked, and we shopped, and we talked... and then we saw it... a store that made me feel like I was walking on a cloud while eating whipped cream. It was one of those stores that has 3000 square feet but only like 10 dresses. Where the racks are suspended from the ceiling with fishing wire... or, more likely, thread spun by fairies and leprechauns. It was beautiful. It was incredible. I has already begun falling madly and irreparably in love.

Oh, but it only gets better. After David's Bridal, where they told me I was, instead of my usual size 6... a size 12, the medium sizes at the cloud/whipped-cream store were too big for me. Everything zipped up like it was made for my body and the store clerk kept telling me how tiny my waist was. And the dresses.... oh the dresses. They were so unique, so beautiful, so, so, so me. I never thought I could love an article of clothing as much as I loved every single thing that I tried on there. It was heaven. The dresses were wedding-y without being bridal. Everything was made of chiffon. I had never seen a silhouette that resembled anything they had there. It was perfection. It was just... oh man, it was so good. mmmmmmmmmmmm.

The prices.... oh dear... the prices.... Well... as you would anticipate... they were high. But, here's the good news... They were actually on the low end of a lot of bridal stuff -- however, they were still higher than I had budgeted. Everything there was between $1500 and $3500... and I was hoping to spend closer to $500. Oh sad. I still haven't decided what to do...


The Girls Give Me Hope.

I am the luckiest one.

My students just threw me a surprise engagement party. I was eating lunch when my boss came by and told me that he wanted to talk to me. He walked me to my classroom asking me weird questions about the Faculty and Staff Gay/Straight Alliance that I had started last year and when I opened the door to my classroom, my students (all 12 year old girls) jumped out of the corners, up from under desks and out of closets, throwing confetti and yelling "Congratulations!!" They had thrown me a surprise engagement party, complete with pizza, cookies, soda, a giant congratulations sign and a bunch of hugs. They are the cutest little munchkins. I can't believe how lucky I am.

I don't teach at a liberal school. I'd say more than half of the families that send their kids here are republicans. I've been fighting discrimination from the administration for the last year (they won't let me live on campus with my partner because we can't be married in our state). But kids are kids, they are more sensitive to justice and fairness than anyone. And... this being an all-girls school... any excuse to talk about dresses, flowers, and all-things-frilly is a good excuse.

These girls give me so much hope for the future. I owe a lot to them. In the face of things like this, we could all use a little hope right now.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Great Dress Hunt Begins

Whew.  I tried on wedding dresses for the first time yesterday. Was I supposed to cry out of joy or a feeling of accomplishment or something?  Because I didn't.  I mean, don't get me wrong... it was awesome -- I heart trying on dresses, especially when you get your own little room and someone to help you... but I didn't, like, freak out.

Okay, for one, I think I didn't get all teary because I was too busy being totally embarrassed that I had to be in my underwear in front of the co-workers that I brought with me.  I don't know why I thought they'd bring me into a different room to do the whole undressing thing... but, they didn't.  There I was practically nekkid in front of these girls that I don't really know well enough to be nekkid in front of.  Oops.

But, the other, probably more important reason that I didn't get all shmoopy is that, unlike many, I never really thought about getting married when I was a little girl.  In fact, I didn't think about it until I got engaged.  So, this whole wedding thing... although totally awesome and fun and exciting, doesn't feel like the fulfillment of some long-standing dream that I've had ever since I watched Cinderella at at three.

As a little kid I was absolutely a princess... I went through a period during which I would not leave the house unless I was wearing my frilliest dress and my ruffle-y underwear.  I played "shopping' on the playground in fifth and sixth grade.  That was a game in which my friends and I made fake credit cards and went fake shopping by the monkey bars. I mean... I was a girly, girly, girl.  But weddings just never did it for me. I think that was because of the adults I happened to have in my life: my parents are divorced. All my mom's friend are lesbians (as are six of my aunts), my straight aunts, although they've been with their partners for decades, just never saw the need to get married to them.  Marriage and weddings just weren't really a big deal in my family.  In fact, I think my family is a little shocked that I'm doing it.  They don't quite know how to act.   

I think I'm probably the only lesbian out there whose family is shocked that I'm getting married because they're so pro-gay that they're anti-marriage instead of the other way around.

Anyway, I'm headed up to NYC to do some more wedding dress shopping with my best friend and maid of honor.  Here's hoping the perfect dress falls out of the sky, costing but a mere $50, perfectly altered to fit my body (how it will look next August).  Fingers crossed.

Oh... All the dresses pictured here are Pricilla of Boston Reception Dresses... I'm really leaning towards wearing a reception dress for the whole damn thing... thoughts?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Blog Worlds Colliding

Okay, so, I have a google reader and I read a lot of wedding blogs. Like, a lot. I do this because I am obsessed. I do this because I don't want to grade the papers that are stacked on my desk. I do this because I never really knew how girly I was until I got engaged.

My fiance is a blog addict as well. She, however, reads anti-racist, radical-queer, leftist blogs. She reads them like it's her job (and, actually, it sort of is... she's in policy). And... against all odds... our totally separate blog words have collided.

The crazyness over at Weddingbee has reminded us both how political our personal is. Now, this is both annoying (who wants their wedding to be up for some kind of public debate) and totally awesome. Why, totally awesome, you ask. Well, because, even after reading all her posts over at Weddingbee, I had no idea how fabulous Mrs. Gingerbread was. But since she's left Weddingbee, I've had to get her stories from her own blog, Two Chicks Nest. And, after this post: Two Chicks Nest: Allies, her's is now my favorite of all the blogs I subscribe to. I am a huge fan. Big time. Brides are actual people with political leanings and thoughts about important stuff. too. Sweet.

Ugly versus Ugly... Everyone Wins

So, I have a thing against taffeta. I think it is because I am easily influenced by others and I once heard someone say something mean about taffeta. That, and I don't like that it doesn't move -- it freaks me out a little bit. But, the weird thing about weddings is it seems like taffeta is everywhere... I keep trying to escape, but it's everywhere I turn.

However, I think I pretty much like everything else... and the dress I like the most right now is actually polyesther... so... there you go... who am I to judge?

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Grrrl with a Pearl

Ring trouble.

So... when we got engaged, I was absolutely sure that I didn't want a diamond. The history of diamonds is just too messed up. I know it's totally possible to get conflict-free diamonds so I wouldn't have to feel like I was wearing some poor kid's blood on my hand, but I was still annoyed by the fact that diamonds are artificially and astronomically priced and they don't actually lay claim to any real historical connection to engagements. They only became popular as an engagement gift in the 1920s when De Beers started an engagement ring campaign. I didn't want to feel like I had been duped by marketing executives from decades ago into throwing my money away (my fiance's money is my money -- we've already had a joint checking account for years).

So before the proposal, I let my soon-to-be fiance know that I was not to have a diamond -- no way, no how. So she proposed with the perfect ring... a pearl ring. Pearls have an actual claim to history. They were the traditional engagement gift in several European traditions and they're lovely. I love the ring, I love the sentiment, I love everything about the whole thing... except that the dang thing keeps falling apart!!!!!

I guess it's really difficult to set a pearl on a ring -- since it's round it can't be trapped inside the the claws of platinum that clasp in diamonds and so my pearl is screwed onto my ring and keeps getting unscrewed. I've now had to super-glue the damn thing back together again several times and I'm starting to feel a little silly -- like I've got some fisher price toy ring. Like I'm playing engagement with my playgroup after preschool.

I still don't regret the diamond decision. I feel good about my reasons -- but I do feel a little silly.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Marriage: Pros and Cons

So... I'm getting married. I'm totally over the moon about this. The weird part is, my total over-the-mooniness has led me to become madly addicted to wedding blogs. I spent several years berating my fiance for endlessly reading her political blogs (didn't she have anything better to do???) And here I am... sucked into something even more useless. But I can't stop... and to be perfectly honest... I'm loving it.

I can't get myself to clean my own damn house, but I can spend an hour researching table linens and crinolines... man, I'm such a fraud.

I also feel like a fraud because until we decided to get married, I was rabidly anti-marriage. I mean, I'm gay, I'm a feminist, all the marriages in my family have failed (well, most of them at least), I have a zillion gay aunts whose lives have been totally messed with because they haven't been able to get legally married: naturalization problems, health insurance problems, you name it, they've had to deal with it and it has made them super anti-marriage, understandably.

A lot of us gays have dealt with the denial of our rights not by longing and longing and longing for what we don't have, but instead by turning our backs on the whole institution. You know... like when you were in middle school (I happen to be a middle school teacher so this analogy resonates with me) and the popular kids got to go to all the fun parties, but you were never invited -- well, a part of you longed to be invited too, but mostly you just talked about how those parties were probably dumb anyway and you wouldn't go even if you were invited. That's kind of like what my relationship to marriage was for many years. And I had a lot of super good reasons to feel that way:

1. Why make a vow to love and be faithful to someone forever, if you have no idea what the future holds and if you look at the whole thing logically, there's a 50% chance that you'll end up breaking your vow?
2. Didn't the whole institution of marriage start as a way to transfer ownership of women? Man... that's super fucked-up.
3. Marriage is just another way of making the sharing of rights exclusive. Right now the only people who get to share rights and privileges with the people they share their lives with are straight couples. Yes, we can expand the definition of marriage to include gay couples too... but what about sisters that have decided to share their lives together, or brothers, or friends... there are plenty of people who decide to share their lives primarily with one other person (they own a house together, they do the shopping together, they depend on one another) -- shouldn't they all get a chance to share the rights and privileges of being an American... I don't want to be invited to the middle school party only to realize that I'm now one of the cool kids who has to shun nerds like me... that would suck.

Anyway... all of those reasons and more were why I was anti-marriage. I was never gonna do it. I was way too cool and radical for all that. But I was also a romantic -- and as soon as I talked to my aunts (the ones who have had so much shit put upon them by their non-married status) and they gave me their blessing -- I was 100% in. For a multitude of reasons:

1. I'm super in love
2. I know that we work together -- we've been going at this thing for 6 years and we're only more in love now than we were when we first started dating.
3. We are super awesome and deserve to have our families and friends celebrate our love
4. I want to do all the girly stuff that brides get to do.
5. I was getting bitter when my friends started getting engaged instead of being happy for them.
6. "commitment ceremonies" make me feel like I got second place
7. I'm sick of having to prove to people that my relationship is committed by listing off how many years we've been together
8. My job denied me the opportunity to live on campus and thus save over 15K a year because I can't be married to my partner
9. I want to teach my students that being gay is no different than being straight by example
10. I feel like I deserve as many gifts as my straight friends do.
11. I want to have a photo album of our marriage that my grand-kids can look at and exclaim over while I tell them about how we were on the cutting edge, way back when.

So... as you can see, getting married totally won.