You Say Tomato …

My husband, the produce expert (left) with recent acquisition
My husband, the produce expert (left) with recent acquisition

My own father – a physician and man of science who spends his days treating critically ill patients at a world-renowned medical center – could not pick a pasta strainer out of a kitchenware line-up and would rather buy a whole new set of unmentionables than figure out how to do laundry. Once and only once did Lew do the grocery shopping when we were little (at the Kings in Garwood). Needless to say, we left with $100 worth of Pringles, Chips Ahoy, Tastykakes, Cookie Crisp cereal and bubble gum-flavored Kissing Potion, a very delicious rollerball lip gloss. Most. Awesome. Supermarket. Trip. Ever.

In short, Lew is a great man who is not such a great help to my mother. As such, I witnessed — on many a childhood weekend — a meltdown during Jan’s Saturday morning cleaning process. I would start to hear angry but unintelligible muttering whilst eating my bowl of Honeycombs. The volume would increase and Jan would start naming random New Jersey countrymen who didn’t get their hands in hot water because they were pritzas.  (Pronounced “preet-zuhs.” I don’t know what this Yiddish word really means, but Jan and Grandma Ethel used it as a derogatory term for  women who were thin, pretty and/or rich). Soon she’d be full-fledged yelling about the lack of help she had around the house, referring to herself as “Tillie the Toiler.”  Meanwhile, “Tillie the Toiler” was actually a smokin’ hot cartoon office worker and part-time model who, according to Wikipedia, had no trouble finding men to escort her around town. Some would argue that Tillie was even a pritza.

The whole thing was most unfortunate.

But I was used to it, and assumed that all households functioned like this. So when Keith and I moved in together, I was shocked to learn I was wrong: not all men drove their wives to faux Tillie the Toilerhood.  If I start emptying the dishwasher, Keith feels guilty and immediately comes to help. Sometimes he even does it before I get out of bed. He also does his own laundry, irons from time to time and assists with fitted sheet folding. And by far the most helpful contribution Keith makes is food shopping. He says he finds it satisfying. I give him a list, he adds to it as needed, then heads to the store and calls me if he has any questions. Rather cutely, he then presents me with the groceries and eagerly waits for me to approve his purchases, which I always do.

Last week, one of the items on the list was iceberg lettuce. When I took it out of the bag, it felt really heavy and was so big I had to clear a shelf in the refrigerator  to accommodate it.  Keith looked very proud. The next eve, I went to prepare our salad. The lettuce was freakishly hard to cut. Its leaves seemed thick and rubbery and as I struggled to get the knife through them, the mysterious scent of Brussels sprouts wafted up to my nose. At first, I attributed the cutting difficulty to a sudden onset palsy that was obviously causing me to lose muscle control. The smell had to be a side effect – didn’t stroke survivors report experiencing strange aro… wait a minute. This wasn’t palsy. This was CABBAGE!

Frick on a leafy green stick.

I jumped away from the counter immediately, afraid that even the slightest contact with it would cause global thermo-gastrointestinal disaster.

Keith apologized profusely, but I told him it was an honest mistake and not to worry. Iceberg and cabbage bear an uncanny resemblance and really, only a seasoned shopper and vegetable-chopper would easily recognize the difference. Frozen green beans to the rescue.

This week, I put zucchini on the list. Keith handed me the bag, which also seemed heavier than it should have. A quick look inside revealed what appeared to be three ginormous … and purple … zucchini. Or, as you might know them, EGGPLANT.

Le sigh.

There would be no roasted zucchini with olive oil and breadcrumbs for dinner that night. I knew Keith would feel terrible if I told him, but I also knew he’d feel bad if I just left the purple “zucchini” I’d requested rotting in the refrigerator. So I did what any good wife would do. I made a lifetime supply of mediocre eggplant parmesan. And baba ganoush. And ratatouille (sans zucchini).

Keith is an amazing husband (especially for letting me make fun of him in this post) and never, ever causes me to refer to myself as Tillie the Toiler or to anyone else as a pritza. But no man is perfect – and clearly, he needs a bit of tutelage in the produce department. Perhaps I am at fault here – perhaps I failed him by not preparing him better for the world of supermarketry.

I am off to enroll him in Edible Vegetation 101.

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You Say Tomato …

What’s in a Name?

Over the course of my wedding-bearing years, I’ve had friends who fall everywhere on the name change spectrum. I’ve known girls who were so excited about making sure everyone knew they were married getting married that they adopted their future husbands’ last names before the royal blue bridesmaid dresses could even ship from China. I’ve known girls who were militant about keeping their maiden names.  My cousin Cathy and her husband both use both last names, with a hyphen. There are many ways this could go, and as is the case with all life changes, I remained ambivalent about the matter.

I’ve never loved or hated my maiden name. It is innocuous. Its ethnicity is not obvious, it doesn’t rhyme with any part of the digestive or reproductive system, it doesn’t belong to any serial killer (that we know of). At times, I’ve been mistaken for someone of Irish descent (really? REALLY?) and/or the heiress to a soup fortune, but I can think of worse problems. Perhaps if I’d been born with a name like Dickwat or Ashweip, or into the Rockefeller family, I would have felt more strongly one way or the other. But my maiden name was in fact the name I’d had all my life – it was just who I was: Traci Melissa K_____.

I knew Keith wanted me to use his last name, but he never pressured me about it. He asks so little and puts up with so much, I felt it was the least I could do for him. And in many ways, I looked forward to having his last name. I viewed it as a new beginning, a fresh start. It made Keith and me an official family, and it linked me to my new extended family – something I’d never had but always wanted. I liked that idea.

On the other hand, I couldn’t help but veiw shedding my maiden name as shedding my parents, sister and roots. I hated that idea. I didn’t want to be the only one of them with a different last name. It didn’t help that my sister and I are the end of our last name’s line. I also felt, despite my best efforts not to, that taking your husband’s name was a smidge old-fashioned. I’m hardly a feminist, but it just didn’t seem necessary. Furthermore, while I haven’t accomplished anything much, the things I have done – survive journalism school, work at a real live TV network, create this blog – I’ve done with my original name — as me. Was I losing my past if I lost part of my name? Was I still going to be a short neurotic Jewish girl from New Jersey if my last name was suddenly Italian? Did I want to be a short neurotic Jewish girl? Was this really such a big identity crisis or was I, as usual, making a mountain out of a molehill? Who cared if I was Traci  Melissa K_____ or Traci Melissa D______?

Frick on a name-changed stick.

A good solution seemed to be this: I’d legally change my name to include Traci, Melissa, my maiden name, and Keith’s last name. It would appear as a mouthful on paper, but I’d use my maiden name at work and Keith’s in general. In the eyes of the law and in my head, I wasn’t getting rid of anything. I was merely adding something.

I had designated last week’s Summer Friday for the name change task, which involved stops at the Social Security office and DMV. I awoke with a mix of excitement and melancholy (which was due in large part to the fact that my current driver’s license photo is relatively smokin’, and I really didn’t want to fork that up with a new picture). As I rode the subway and made my way through Times Square en route to the Social Security office, the morning felt very momentous. In a few hours, I would have one more name. I would be someone else. Kind of.

My turn at the counter came quickly. I presented the clerk with a certified copy of the marriage license, my tattered blue Social Security card and the form I’d filled out ahead of time.

She looked at the form and then asked, “So you’re adding a middle name, ‘Melissa,’ and then your husband’s last name?”

Um …wha?!

Evidently, as far as the Social Security Administration and U.S. government were concerned, my middle name had never been Melissa — just the initial M.  She handed the card back to me as proof – I’d never noticed it before, but she was right.  I was Traci M (sans period, no less!) K_____.

For a few seconds I was upset by this revelation. It made me sad that Social Security believed my cute little parents had  only chosen a random letter for my middle name and not even bothered to punctuate it. My parents would never do that! They’re nice people!  They care! They love me! Then I was stunned  – my name was a sham! My life was a sham! Who knew what other parts of my identity were nothing more than an initial? Did I even exist, or did I just e?  I’d obsessed for months about changing a name I never actually had.

But then I caught on to the valuable lesson the Social Security deities were obviously trying to impart. I had gone about my business and lived a good (albeit angst-ridden) life believing I was Traci Melissa, regardless of what name the government had on file. Would I have turned out any different if the Social Security card had said “Melissa” instead of just M? Highly unlikely. Would I suddenly transform into a calm, care-free person who shuns chocolate and falls right asleep at night now that “Melissa” was really part of my name? Even more unlikely.  Surely, the same held true for my last name(s). 

Apparently, the answer to the question “What’s in a name?” is, “Not that much.” It doesn’t matter what you go by — it matters who you are. So now, I am a four-named neurotic Jewish girl from New Jersey with parents who DO care enough to have given me a proper middle name and a very patient husband who doesn’t mind being married to a pizza bagel.

What’s in a Name?

44 to Go

Rob, Dave and traditional pre-wedding peanut butter sandwiches

I have never been a wedding crier.

Maybe I’m too distracted by the prospect of mini hot dogs, looming on a butlered tray just a few feet away, to access the emotion.  Maybe I ration my supply of tears, saving it for sad people eating sad little homemade sandwiches out of sad little tin foil squares on sad little park benches.  Maybe I understand that conjuring tears during the matrimonial ceremony does not actually prove that you are the bride’s bestie. Or maybe I’m just frigid. I don’t know. But in the 18+ years since the first wedding I attended (shout out to my cousin Randi), there have been only two ceremonies at which I’ve cried. My own, and the one we went to on Friday: Dave and Rob’s.

Because Texas is one of the 44 remaining states yet to legalize same-sex marriage,  Dave and Rob tied the knot in our nation’s capital last week.  And as they have traveled a total of 5,016 miles to attend not one but TWO of my weddings, there was no way in hell I was missing theirs.

Somewhere out there is a picture of them successfully lifting ME at my wedding

As you would expect of a wedding planned by two gay men, everything about it was perfect.  Prior to the ceremony, I presented Rob and Dave with the peanut butter sandwiches I’d packed at home.  We had partaken of this tasty and nutritious pre-marital snack before my own nuptials, and so too would we partake of them on this momentous occasion. Side note: are peanut butter sandwiches still safe to eat after 18 unrefrigerated hours? Let’s just go with “yes” and put the cholera concerns behind us, shall we?

Rob’s cousin Liz, an ordained minister, performed the very tasteful ceremony on the roof of a friend’s apartment building. From there, you could see Rock Creek Park,  the National Cathedral, the Capitol, and a strange white orb no one could identify. Side note: I am thankful that the large-footed Universal Life Minister who married Keith and me does not read this blog, as much of Dave and Rob’s ceremony, I am honored to say, was taken directly from inspired by the one he performed for us.

Additionally, Rob carefully chose a reading for all the attendees.  This is the one Keith and I read:

May the door of your home be wide enough to receive all who hunger for love and all who are lonely for friendship. [Specifically, short Jewish girls from New Jersey.] May it welcome all who have cares to unburden, thanks to express and hopes to nurture. May the door of your house be narrow enough to shut out pettiness and pride, envy and enmity. May its threshold be no stumbling block to you or old feet, and may it be too high to admit complacency, selfishness or harshness. May your home be, for all who enter, the doorway to richness and a more meaningful life.

I don’t think I had ever seen either of them cry before, although I suspect they did on several occasions in Philly, when all the Yeungling was gone.  But at some point that day I saw a tear run down Dave’s cheek. You know how you suddenly feel like barfing when you see someone else barf? Same idea.  The no-cry policy had been broken.

Watching this wedding was just, in a word, awesome. It’s always nice to see your friends happy, of course. It’s always nice to attend a wedding at which you can clearly see the love between the two parties. (Trust me, this is not necessarily the case.) But at this wedding, you could see first-hand something else: progress.  This wedding could not have happened even a short time ago, much less 30 or 40 years ago when Dave and Rob were little kids, in the middle of nowhere, alone with the knowledge that they were “different.”  I think we all know what “different” feels like in one way or another.  Still, no matter how much of a freak I’ve felt like throughout my life, I can’t begin to imagine how hard their “different” must have been for them — and still must be, at times.

I am hardly the most politically correct person on earth. I know that many people are uncomfortable with who Dave and Rob are, and what they did last week. But I also know that they are two of the most remarkable people I have ever met. They are hot, hilarious and full of wisdom, and their goodness is extraordinary. A minute after meeting them, you feel you have known them all your life.  They are the best hello and the hardest goodbye.  Because of them, I know that I will always have a home, no matter what happens or where I am. Because of them, I know that family is not merely defined by blood. Because of them, I know that the people who are the least like you may be the people you have the most in common with. So while I understand this is a sensitive topic, I do not understand how you can look at Dave and Rob and say they deserve less than what we all have.

Dave and Rob, I love you and wish you a lifetime of happiness. You have made my life better in countless ways — and saved it more than once.

44 to Go

Royal-T

Fine. I admit it. I CARE about the royal wedding. Sue me! Abdicate me! De-knight me! Why, I cannot not tell you. I’m not British. I don’t like scones. I find the Windsors to be largely unfortunate-looking. I can only imagine that it feeds into my fantasy of becoming famous for doing absolutely nothing. But yes, I plan on being among the 2 billion televisual wedding crashers.

Given this, you may or may not understand the following. But when I saw footage of Kate and her sister Pippa driving from Buckleberry to London in advance of the big day, I couldn’t help myself. Uncontrollably, I envisioned my sister and myself in the same situation. Because – and ONLY because – I am older, I will play the Kate role and Jamie will channel Pippa.

Setting: Interior of a luxury sedan as it moves painfully slowly through the British countryside.

PippaJamie: Uch can you drive ANY slower?! You’re going to miss the wedding!

KateTraci: Sorry! I haven’t driven in 10 years and they seem to have moved the steering wheel to the other side. Do you think I’m going to throw up?

PippaJamie: You are SO annoying.

KateTraci: I have a stomachache. What if it’s Ebola?

PippaJamie: You ALWAYS have a stomachache. It’s not Ebola. It might be Fifth’s Disease though.

KateTraci: [tearing up] I’m sorry! I’m nervous!

PippaJamie: I’m sorry. I know it’s stressful. But just think, after the wedding, you’ll never be allowed to poop again! So, how do you think I should wear my hair?

KateTraci: Half-up. Seriously, do you think that pub has a clean bathroom?

PippaJamie: No. Just crap in your wrap dress. Do you think my butt looks Large Marge in that acqua Valentino dress?

KateTraci: No. Do you think my head looks Large Marge in that fascinator?

PippaJamie: No. Will I get fat if I eat that clotted cream?

KateTraci: No. Do you think Jan will be on time to the hair appointments?

PippaJamie: No. She’s still ranting about how the Queen of Sweden only gave you $1000.

KateTraci: I know, I know. But that was real nice of Elton John to offer to perform, right?

[Car phone rings]

CaroleJan: No. It wouldn’t have killed him to cough up a gift. He’s loaded. And you know something? It was a slap in the face for Diana not to show up to your shower. [insert unintelligible Yiddish]

PippaJamie: [very excited] Omigod be quiet I LOVE this song.

KateTraci: I hate this song. It’s so grunge. You’re so bossy.

PippaJamie: [turns up volume and sings along to Nirvana-esque lyrics performed at 78 decibals: I hate myself I hate my life I kill mahself I kill mah wife …]

KateTraci: That is so not fair! It’s my wedding! In any other family I would pick the driving music!

[Fatherly voice on car phone]

MichaelLew: Relax, both of you! I am not getting in the middle of this! Do you have cab fare?

PippaJamie: I’ll take a twenty.

KateTraci: [sighs] Yeah, okay, I guess I’ll take one too.

Royal-T

It’s the Bed, Stupid

There are few things more annoying than suffering from perma-insomnia when the person who shares your bed can fall asleep a mere nanosecond after pillow contact.  I’m not pointing the finger (Keith), I’m not accusing anyone (Keith), I’m not naming names (Keith). I’m just sayin’ …

I don’t remember a stretch of time when it was easy for me to fall asleep.  Jan will happily tell you what a “poor” sleeper I was as a baby.  I couldn’t sleep when I was a Brownie.  I couldn’t sleep when I had mono. I couldn’t sleep under the influence of Ambien or Xanax.  The one disease I don’t worry about? African Sleeping Sickness.

What’s that? The tsetse fly, you say? Oh. I actually have worried about that. Sorry.

Every now and then, I’ll go through a rare and brief “sleep easy” week or two, but sooner or later, the insomnia returns with a vengeance. I’ve always just blamed it on the unfortunate combination of anxiety, sensory overload, genetics, and a touch of fatal familial insomnia.  But lately, another, more sinister possibility has occurred to me.

What if it is not anxiety, sensory overload, genetics or FFI at all but rather …wait for it … the very piece of furniture meant to provide hours of quality respite and restorative slumber ? What if it’s really … [insert menacing thunder and organ music] THE BED ITSELF?

When I met Keith, he had just bought a Tempur-Pedic.  Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about beds or mattresses, so I’m about as qualified to assess them as Peter Griffin is to judge fine wines.  In my entire life, I have personally selected my own just once – right before I moved to New York, at a big A&S sale in Paramus. And at the time, the options were much simpler: hard, medium or soft. There were  no –pedics and no –foams. If it was a fancy Nancy bed you desired, you ordered the Craftmatic by toll-free phone call after seeing its commercial on TV in the wee hours of the night. So in 2008, what I did know was that I liked my beds not too soft and not too hard; that the Heavenly Westin bed was indeed heavenly; that a freakish number of mattress brand names started with the letter “S”;  and that the Tempur-Pedic was the alleged be-all/end-all of sleep-related wares. It changed people’s lives. It brought the gift of good rest.

Except to me. I got a rock.  

It's not you, it's me. Or maybe it's you.

I just didn’t get it. The Tempur-Pedic felt really firm and really high and refused to mold to my body. But since I’ve been a “poor sleeper” all my life, it never really occurred to me that the bed had anything to do with my inability to slumber. And pretty soon, I stopped thinking about it. I had too many other things to obsess over. 

But for the past few months, my insomnia has been worse than usual.  You could argue that this has to do with general malaise and getting married and stress at work and fear of the future.  But I’ve become hyper-aware of the bed as I lie awake. And let me tell you: that freakin’ bed isn’t blameless in this scenario.

But what’s the answer? Keith thinks the Tempur-Pedic is the greatest invention since the Barca Lounger.  He spent a lot of money on it, not that long ago. It’s not the kind of thing you just replace every few months. Plus, he’s so flexible about home furnishings; I could never ask him to sacrifice the one thing in the apartment he really does care about.  And really, who knows what, if any, difference the mattress is making?

I’m at a loss. It’s unlikely that I’ll “accidentally” misplace a queen mattress.  It’s also not the kind of thing I can really I throw out “by mistake.”  (Not that I ever did such things of course…) So I started researching stop-gap measures.  There’s the classic egg crate, of course, as well as something called a “convoluted” mattress pad (available on myfoam.com); a “baffle box;”  a Cuddleewe; and a “SuperSnooze,” among others. For some reason, the names of these products make me chuckle heartily but just don’t scream out “EIGHT UNINTERRUPTED HOURS OF BLISSFUL Z’s.”

So I ask you, loyal and random readers, what in THE hell am I supposed to do?

It’s the Bed, Stupid

This Side of Paradise

I am married! Yes, mawwied! [insert voice of Long Duk Dong] [Side note: Sixteen Candles is on Lifetime tonight. Check your local listings.]

Thank you for all the WordPress love and support along the way.  Our week in St. Thomas was the happiest of my life (although admittedly, there wasn’t a lot of competition) and went off with only a few glitches.

Most really weren’t that bad:

  • Alarming speed and grace with which I downed a complimentary pee cup’s worth of Cruzan coconut rum at Cyril E. King airport
  • Ill-timed hair appointment that foiled Jan’s workout the day of the wedding
  • Delayed serving of ice cream at reception, prompting Alex the Flower Girl to tell my sister, “Traci said I was getting ice cream,” prompting my sister to tell me, “Um, Alex was under the impression that she was getting ice cream … can you confirm or deny?”
  • Complete omission of one fruit plate per table at reception
  • Receipt of bill at end of week

One really stank on ice:

  • At the last minute, Keith’s mom had to cancel her trip due to a nasty inner-ear problem that made flying a really bad idea.  Needless to say, this devastated Keith. Luckily, we were able to call Judy on speaker phone during the ceremony and she heard the whole thing.  

There were also countless highlights, but I’ll start with one of the biggest:

  • The beachside, candlelit betrothal of my lil sis /Maid of Honor Jamie to her gentleman friend on our last night in St. Thomas! HUGE congrats to her and my future BIL, and to Jan and Lew, who got both their daughters off their hands in the span of a few days.  Note to Jan and Lew – can I borrow a $100?

Others, for your reading pleasure:

  • The freakish deliciousness of the frosty adult beverage called “Lime in the Coconut” [insert funny 70s song lyrics]
  • The resort’s general manager, whom I’ll refer to as “Jacques,” walking the grounds and chit-chatting with guests in an allegedly French accent. The morning of the wedding, he stopped by our al fresco breakfast table and I expressed some concern that the weather would not hold up. “Do not wair-ee,” he reassured me. “You must undair-stand zee diffair-onss buh-tween REN and LEE-KWEED ZUN-EH-ZHINE.” There is little doubt in my mind he is originally from Queens.
  • Being able to ask, repeatedly, “What do you think this is, the RITZ?!”
  • The remarkable straightness of my hair
  • Experiencing a family vacation as a (quasi)grown-up
  • Beautifying with Jan, Jamie, Joanna, my new SIL Christine, Loren and the littles
  • Walking in the tropical rain at midnight to greet Dave and Rob with a welcome bottle of the aforementioned coconut rum
  • The sight of Alex and my new niece Bella carrying their petal baskets and walking the wrong way on the beach in their matching purple sundresses
  • The remarkable straightness of my hair
  • Walking down the “aisle” with Jan and Lew
  • The toasts given by Jamie, and my BILs Jeff and Craig, and the rhyming poetry of my besties Loren and Deena
  • Standing up for a few seconds on the paddle board
  • Happy, prego Kelly
  • Not puking on the Lady Lynsey cruise to St.  John (shout out to Jeff and Christine for treating us!, and to both my SILs and that random girl from Westchester for being so nice to me during my near-barf crisis)
  • Knowing that the people who matter to me the most  – my blood family, my new family, my may-as-well-be-family, my Philly family – traveled thousands of miles to be there for me

And, above all …

So I married the homecoming king ...

Hearing the barefoot, huge-toed Universal Life Minister – whose ceremony could not have been more beautiful – say, “From this day forward you will never walk alone” and knowing that it was true because of Keith.

This Side of Paradise

Love is All Around

Editor’s note: I was midway through the writing of this post when Allison, the talented proprietress of  No Shoe Left Behind, published a post about our friendship. The post — I am proud to report — earned “Fresh Pressed” status, and drove an insane amount of traffic to The Letter T. In fact, I owe pretty much all my traffic to Allison — she was the very first non-friend/non-relative reader I had. I am forever grateful for her support, encouragement, viral marketing, and appreciation of the finer things in life — T. Belden, ice cream, French macaroons. Huge thanks! May we both land lucrative book deals that are optioned into screenplays.

Another huge thanks for all the great feedback from the blogosphere — it’s very motivating and I really, really appreciate it!

******

First Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minillo. Then, in what I’m sure is just a total coinkydink, Jessica Simpson and that guy. Leeza Gibbons (a cougar at 53) and the 40-year-old head of the Beverly Hills Board of Education.  And of course, my personal favorite, Prince William and Kate Middleton. Betrothals abound! And I’m sure that even if Jessica did have to pay for her own massive ruby rock — even if Prince William did not go to Jared for the big ass sapphire his mother once wore — the affected parties are still in the pre-wedded bliss phase of their relationships.

Here comes the crazy ... (Image by The Knot)

With my own nuptials a mere 10 days away, it’s not that I’m not also in that phase. It’s just that said phase is now mixed in with a faint hint of anxiety. Maybe it’s more like a dash of anxiety. Fine, a few tablespoons. But you get the point. In the past four weeks I’ve had two bad colds, one of which is currently plaguing me. I can’t fall asleep. I feel like there’s a 300-lb man sitting on my chest, and when I try to inhale, the air isn’t getting all the way into my lungs. (It’s just a touch of psychogenic dyspnea –which I’ve had since 1981 — at least I hope.) My skin is so itchy that I have black and blue marks from scratching. I have an ingrown eyelash (simple trichiasis – yay!) and a deep crack where my top and bottom lips meet. Shout out to angular chelitis — thanks for making me look like the Joker. (Note – in some cases angular chelitis is actually caused by a riboflavin deficiency. Riboflavin! Please note I take this as a sign that I’m not eating enough Franken Berry cereal.) My big toe is sore from what I can only assume is gout. I’ve had to stop using my special keratin shampoo and replace it with Selsun Blue thanks to a delightful case of seborrheic dermatitis. I’m not kidding — think Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club. Picked cuticles? Check. In short, I am repulsive.

Now, this may sound really bad — and don’t get me wrong. It kind of is. But I’m not surprised by it. It would actually startle me if I went through a major rite of passage and didn’t have at least a tiny meltdown. The weird thing, though, is that I’m not consciously worried about anything. Keith is an amazingly kind, patient, big-hearted person and I still can’t believe he’s willing to marry me (especially in my current state). I’m fairly confident that St. Thomas will not implode into the Caribbean and am only slightly uneasy about the possibility of American Airlines losing our suitcases. So I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly the real issue is.

I think it’s partly just the concept of doing something with so much magnitude. It’s MARRIAGE. It means you have one of the answers you have long, long sought — that one of your greatest quests is complete: you spend years wondering how this particular facet of your existence will turn out, and now you know. It means you’re an official grown-up. It means a part of your life (albeit, not a particularly pleasant one) is over. And that means you’re getting old.

For me, it’s also the step that most people assume will follow the wedding. As you may have guessed from previous posts, the thought of having a kid(s) is absolutely terrifying on every possible level. And unfortunately, despite what Kelly Preston would have us believe — time is not on my side. If I’m gonna do it, I gotta do it pretty soon.

But ultimately, I think the thing I’m most worried about is myself. I have zero doubts about Keith’s ability to be a good husband — there is no possible way he could be anything other than that. But as you also may know from previous posts, this is my second marriage. And it’s really nice to think that the first one failed solely because of the other person involved or because we were just a freakishly bad pairing. But what if that’s not why it failed? What if it turns out I am fundamentally incapable of being a good wife?

Keith didn’t seem concerned when I brought up this idea. But to be fair, he was petting our new iPad at the time, and to be fair-er, very few things worry him.

I was then compelled to pose several things that I felt might indicate my bad wife destiny: I was blogging while I could have been helping him with his laundry; I became inappropriately agitated when my Blackberry froze the other day; I complain constantly; I buy too many pairs of shoes; I see the glass as entirely empty.

Keith typed the following into the App store search bar: diagnose mental disorders.

Then in typical Keith fashion, he spent the next five minutes reassuring me and telling me I could always talk to him about anything.

For a little while I felt better. But then another thought occurred to me: Maybe I was really just worried about keeping two families happy on a six-day vacation in the Caribbean. Or getting blood poisoning from my picked cuticles. Or barfing on the pl…

Maybe it really isn’t the wedding … maybe I just need something to worry about.

Love is All Around