Dispatches from Dietland

Two weeks before my friend’s wedding (and a too-tight bridesmaid dress) I decided to go on an all-out diet. I am feeling emotions I didn’t know I had – I didn’t know existed! The roller coaster of emotions has really thrown me through a loop. I’m a week in, and now I’m starting to level out long enough to process emotions.

First, I was all in. ALL IN! LET’S DO THIS!!

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Then, I started to get real, and you have to say good bye to the good friends, the great company, you won’t be able to keep for the next few weeks.

Good bye, cheese.

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Good bye, chocolate & baked goods.

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And the hardest one of all… good bye, alcohol intake.

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You turn to television for sweet relief… something to escape. And you realize how much advertisement is about food. All the food you vowed not to eat.

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Because that’s all you can do now… watch TV. It’s the only thing you have enough energy to do.

The Food Channel is forbidden! OH MY GOD WHY IS THE TRAVEL CHANNEL AIRING THEIR “FRIED HEAVEN” ROAD TRIP SHOWS? You start convincing yourself the world is out to get you.

Everyone hates you and they have a vendetta against you.

I SWEAR EVERYTHING SMELLS LIKE BACON.

Just as your energy reaches a new low, it’s time to eat a measured cup of cantaloupe melon. SUGAR RUSH!

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For 10 minutes straight, you start thinking ” I can totally do this, what was I bitching about, this is AMAZING.” And you believe yourself ,too! This is easy. This is real. You can do this! (You give yourself this pep talk several times a day.)

You also start realizing how many hours there are in the day. How many of them can you sleep? 3 out of the 5 stages of grief passed by, and it’s not even noon.

This is all an internal battle, a solitary struggle. But then there is family. Some of them are supportive, a sort of cheerleading section.

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You appreciate this bunch. You also question them. Did you really gain that much weight? (This can also be the lack of sugar in your system talking.)

There is another group of lovely family and friends that love you for who you are and therefore will not be impartial. They tend to say things like “you look great just the way you are,” and “you don’t need to diet!”

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They are clearly lying liars! YOU STEPPED ON THE SCALE! YOU KNOW THE TRUTH! YOU PUT THAT DRESS ON!!

Oh no… here it comes… rage. Angers from my feminist side at my need to general society’s thin-obsession. DAMN PATRIARCHY! I DO ME!

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It’s already post meridian, and your crazy has reached new levels. You can’t be trusted with anything.

You. Must. Develop. A. Plan. Something to channel all frustrations. Cue “Eye of the Tiger.”

1) Lettuce! Add lettuce to everything!

omnomnmnom

lettuce

 

2) Turn off the television, start making collages, wash your hair, take the dog out for a walk – it’s summer. Walk around, see people outside enjoying the day, ugh, people enjoying things. They are grilling, there’s meat on a grill and it smells soooooooo good. You’d eat the charcoal just to have a taste of that delicious pig on a stick.  Pretty soon you’re delirious. IS SOMEONE FRYING SOMETHING? WHY DOES EVERYTHING GO BACK TO FOOD?!

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You head back inside. It was too much, you weren’t ready. But just like that another day has passed. Sleep is the most fun. You can dream about food without eating it.

The days pretty much look the same. But then, weirdly, you start developing a rhythm. Yeah, gurl, you got this!

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You start using the phrase “natures candy” un-ironically, about fruits. Who are you?! Who cares? You are halfway there, living on a prayer, and this time next week you’ll be eating, drinking, dancing, and all this will be a distant memory!

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shove food

 

I WIN, DIET! I WIN!

 

Great Expectations

I was waiting to put some distance between myself and this entry. At some point I was hoping the sickening happiness and loving-everyone fog would settle, and I could write coherently, dryly (and somewhat cynical) about weddings being all about pomp and circumstance. But that’s not how my stupid emotions work, and they’re still going crazy.

So, let’s work through this together, let’s work out the turmoil of emotions, hormones, and genuine love.

I’ve become quite an expert in weddings. It all begins when somewhere along the way I started collecting friends. In my childhood, as I grew up, and even into my 20’s. I always thought “the more, the merrier” was the best way to approach friendships. After all, friends are the part of our families we get to choose, right?

What I didn’t think about was that these friends would grow up, like people tend to do, and fall in love, and want to get married, and want to start a family. I also overlooked a crucial point. Just as my friends mean the world to me, I belong to their world as well. We tend to forget that, mostly because we’re self involved. (I use we to deflect from myself, just in case you didn’t catch that. I’m extremely self-aware.)

This means, each milestone in my friend’s life includes me, just like my milestones will include them. Et voilá, reciprocity! So, with each engagement, each wedding, each baby, I’m there! And when I step back, I’m nothing but grateful. This wedding was no different.

Vanessa, the bride, and I met in junior high. We bonded over being in the choir together, one of the boy bands du jour, and movies. Movies were our true love affair. We sat for hours watching old Hollywood in its heyday. We were probably the only 12 year old girls that were aware of the Andrews Sisters, and wished we could somehow catch the attention of Ol’ Blue Eyes. Yeah, it’s a wake up call when you realize all your favorite actors and singers are dead, and you’re a tween! Needless to say, but our bond somehow survived the general fluctuations of life, the living in different cities, and everything else that could’ve gotten in the way. It was still a surprise when Vane called me and asked that I be a bridesmaid, and then pressed her luck by asking me to sing “Pie Jesu” and say something during the reception. There’s no evidence of the song, so don’t even go there. However, I did keep a copy of the speech, and you can see it later in the post – with the corresponding picture from an unflattering angle.

Enough about me, let’s talk more about the wedding, and all the events leading up to it. Great Expectations is a great novel, it could also be the underlying theme of every single wedding. There are expectations about everything, from the location to the flower details. Each one a potential for tears, or even worse rage. Yet, even with all the potential for sheer horror, we go through with it with the hope that it’s the greatest metaphor for life. That somehow hard work, sleepless nights, and emotional breakdowns will yield beautiful moments that make it all worthwhile.

A week before the wedding I quit my job, and would start my funemployment in New York City. There’s enough here for another entry, so I’ll hold off on that until a later date. Let’s focus here on love and friendships.

My funemployment week started off with a bridal shower and a bachelorette party. Things got a little rowdy, but it was mostly girls being silly and making inappropriate jokes. And one of the bridesmaids yelling at the rest to finish the tiny cupcakes because they were her favorite and she wasn’t going to just throw them away! Yes, Carla, I’m calling you out. But you were right, they were delicious.  All the girls bonded, and I think I’ve made new friends, along with the mini high school reunion that happened. Yeah, I keep collecting friends, I think it’s far healthier than if I started collecting stamps. (A big shout out to the MOH Tracy, we’ll start our “Tale of Two City Girls” blog soon – working title.)

Great Expectations is also the inspiration for much of this wedding. Well, that and Jane Austen. (The only thing missing was a double wedding and Colin Firth. That would have been a great addition.) The ceremony and reception took place at Alder Manor in Yonkers, NY. Not the first place I would have thought for a romantic wedding, but shame on me for assuming. You know what they say when you assume. When you drive up to the manor, you get a chill. I can’t say if it was good or bad, mostly it was intrigue. Stay tune for Lali waxing poetically about architecture and design. For now, lets leave it at: it was living up to great expectations. The dilapidated mansion, home to a family at some point and the false outdoor setting for several Hollywood movies, served as the perfect backdrop for a romantic wedding. Being there made everyone feel like fairy tales could come true, that Hollywood endings were a possibility. Basically, I was battling with myself. At some point, I did let it all go and got swept into the whole emotional roller coaster and happily ever after, romcom big gesture. The devil’s in the details, and Vane excelled in all of them. From the dresses she chose, to the beautifully placed photographs of their families throughout the years. I must say that Nathan executed each of these details with such preciseness that can only come from love, because there was A LOT of little things.

The table arrangements were done by matching keys and movie titles. The keys then turned into charms you could wear long after the ceremony. At the entry way there were two flags, PR and UK represent. This was, after all, a multicultural affair. The guest book had within it quotes and antique etches, there was also an old hairbrush, old leather-bound books, and hearts cut out from famous novels. Each thing made it feel like you were stepping into this world, and it made the old dilapidated mansion feel like a home.   The food was a nice blend of rice and beans, different proteins and salad. For their first dance, Vane and Nathan wowed everyone with the cutest choreographed dance! And I was surprised with Nathan’s amazing dancing skillz – again, pardon me for assuming, I should know better at this point! Vane doesn’t do mediocre!

I’m sure I’ve forgotten many other things, like late night conversations and belting out Beyoncé in the hotel room (y’all know she’s my spirit animal.) There were also more Great Expectation metaphors and movie quotes (I’ll spare you.) That would make this a novel, rather than a very long blog entry. For now, I leave you with a lovely collection of pictures, which will compensate a 1,000 words each.

bachelorette 2

The bachelorette party started with making our own pasties and a burlesque class. Eat your heart out, Dita von Tees.
Mine were themed, Mardi Gras. They are staying in their little gold bag forever. Those kindergarten-level-pasties should never terrorize anyone!

bachelorette 1

We did the obligatory phallic lollipops and shots. Crown and sash in tow, we went out in NYC, and then to a burlesque show. You know, now we’re total experts after our ONE class.

***

wedding location 1

This was one of the views. In one of the brief moments of respite prior to the ceremony some of us snuck* off to meander through the manor.

(*Editorial note on the use of “snuck” vs. “sneaked.” Yeah, I’m sticking by my verb choice. )

wedding location 2It’s like the Secret Garden. (Yes, book nerds everywhere, rejoice!)

getting ready 1

Getting a bride into her dress is a team effort.

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Those buttons were like a chastity belt! But the dress was gorgeous, so whatever.

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There were little birds flying in the greenery behind. All worthy of Vanessa & Nathan.

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Unofficial, but awesome, high school reunion. We’ve been friends for a long time, special mention goes out to Yari for handling me like a champ! (And always laughing WITH me.)

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 Our true nature comes out.
(Photography courtesy of Yarimar Jiménez.)

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***

The Speech

Life is messy. We can’t tell what happens in the future, and fate can be a fickle friend. But movies are clean, they take the messes and wrap them up in our Hero’s Journey.

So, tonight, I want to offer my advice the best I can: vicariously, through movies.

First, we have an ordinary world. But soon it all changes, fate or a good screenplay writer, turns up and turns our ordinary world upside down.

After all, Ilsa could have walked into any joint, but she walked into Rich’s in Casablanca and nothing was the same.We take the leap, the chance, but these are forces in the world that will always try to keep lovers apart.

So, here are my top 5 couples (abridged) of how to overcome, or sidestep altogether, the common pitfalls and traps of marriage.

  1. Ben & Elaine from “The Graduate”: if only to remind you that there are some messed up families out there! Ben and Elaine faced one of the worst, so anything you face will probably be A LOT easier!
  2. Karen & Milton from “From Here to Eternity”: inspiring more attempts at sex on the beach than any other screen couple. Leading to more disappointed couples who just end up with sand in not-so-fun-areas.
  3. Melvin & Carol from “As Good As It Says”: may you always take your pills, ma you want to make each other a better man or woman.
  4. Phil & Rita from “Groundhog’s Day”: may you fall in love with each other every day, even when it could get monotonous… always try to figure out how to make the mundane exciting.
  5. Westley & Buttercup from “The Princess Bride”: Because they taught us “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a little while.”

There are many more, and really any Meg Ryan movie can show you it’s all solved by a grand gesture on top of the Empire State Building, but for now…

We’ve reached the end of our journey, the beginning of your happily ever after, and our Hero’s Reward.

¡Qué vivan los novios!

***

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I’ve tried being serious, and I held out as long as I could. That was about 10 seconds.

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Don’t the make a gorgeous couple?

Thanks for hanging on till the end! Give yourself a pat on the back. Until the next one!

***

Four Weddings and a NATO Monday

Help me keep count… this is wedding #4 of 2012. If the world truly ends on December 21st, in the history of Lali, this shall be known as “the year of the weddings.”

They’re still exciting, though, they really don’t get old. Personally, I struggle with the need of the commitment, the need for them (marriages) in the face of modern statistics… and then I tell that silly cynic living in my brain to shut the hell up! The ritual, the pomp and circumstance, the tradition wake up the cynic, but I level with myself and it’s impossible to ignore the shining beacon of my optimistic mind. (Brain = cynic. Mind = optimistic.)

So, I allow myself to be mesmerized by the church, the symbolism, the flowery language , and the look of joy and hope in everyone’s faces. Why not? It’s difficult to argue with Laura and James (the two lovebirds.) They are so cute together, and so committed to each other – that seems to be a trend in the weddings I’ve attended. Nothing seems forced, nothing seems out of place. In fact, it seems out of place that the marriage hadn’t happened earlier!

So, somewhat begrudgingly, I must accept that love (and peanut M&M’s*) does seem to conquer all – I also accept that deep in my heart, I am apparently a softy, easily overcome with emotion. Ugh. There goes my hard core facade and street cred.

*OK, I should explain the peanut M&M’s. That’s how Jimmy courted Laura. Jimmy is a trader, Laura was working there at the time. He saw her and thought she was (well, is) beautiful. He found out about her weakness for peanut M&M’s, and proceeded to bring her a bag every day. She went out with him, and the rest is history. (Hard to argue with love with such a sugary love story!)

St. Precopius Church in Pilsen

Laura and Jimmy Triveri – proving cynics (like me) wrong since the 21st century.

I’m putting this picture in because Laura said these are her favorite dance moves. So, I willingly made an ass of myself. You make the bride happy. You do, no questions asked.

One final picture of the couple. Their first dance. Aren’t they adorable?

May they always have a fresh bag of peanut M&M’s.

***

Backtrack to Friday.

Laura and Jimmy got married over the much dreaded NATO weekend in Chicago. The craziness started early, and our offices decided to close shop at 1PM on Friday. YAY! It just so happened to be an absolutely gorgeous day in Chicago… SO, Alyson and I decided to walk back home. On our way we found Meli Cafe on Wells Street. See? Great things come from unexpected sources… and I may have fallen in love a little. We had a nice (and quite filling) lunch. It was a nice half-way stop before our apartment. And then we took the girls out for a nice, long walk to the park.

Forward to Monday… We found out the office would ALSO be closed due to NATO. Thank you, NATO.

It was also an amazing day. Alyson and I did some Target shopping. I am ashamed of how much I got at Target… not really. Another really long walk with the dogs ensured we had happy dogs, and enough Vitamin D to cover us through the winter.

This picture was taken from the car driving south from Target on Lake Shore Drive. Cloudless day, beautiful skyline.

***

Rincón and Beautiful Sunsets

Wedding #3… an unforgettable weekend!

Well, this one is loooong overdue, but I didn’t know where to start! How to start and explain how much these people mean to me, how cool they are, and how lucky I am to have them in my life?

Well, aside from a wonderful mini-reunion that we had, we were there for the union of Veli and Jared – be.here.now. And that we did. The atmosphere was so full of love and gorgeousness, it could be overwhelming for a cynical person like your truly. However, it was such a genuine and accepting environment that even this jaded heart had to succumb and accept the happy, heart-string pulling event. Yes, tears may have rolled down some cheeks.

For a brief story on the couple we are toasting here: A Puerto Rican girl, a New Jersey Jewish boy meet at a friend’s party and kiss, they date, they grow closer, they fall madly in love, they start sharing their dreams and their ideas for the future, the downturn in the economy proves to them the ephemeral nature of humanity and life, they pick up and move to the south, he learns how to farm, she teaches yoga, they find a calling, they begin a new life together… it’s like a Nicholas Sparks novel with no sad twists.

You should be so lucky… so, for lack of words (though it hardly happens!) here is a selection of pictures that I think piece together the mystical weekend in Rincón, PR. They are somewhat out of order, but you can see the joy oozing out of all of them. So sweet we’ll give you a toothache.

This is the entire group. Look at how pretty we look! BU class of ’05 doing it right!

Part of the girls with the bride, Velisa (in the shiny maroon dress.)

We’ve grown older, but not necessarily matured. This is one of our oldies but goodies… hair under our armpits and creepy faces. Yeah, we’re high brow.

And this is the reason everyone should have a beach side wedding…

This is the best part of friends… don’t see them for a year, still willing to be crazy with you.

Make up was still intact… this is the beginning of the evening. They had “Rum Punch,” which is code for “death to Lali.”

Yeah, not even London can stop us!

Oh, and each villa at the Horned Dorset had a private pool? They did.

The bridal party in lovely shades of blue.

The groom, Jared. (I’m High on Cooking)

And the beautiful bride, Velisa.

Mazel Tov!

Aw yeah, it just got real!

Gratuitous beach bunny shots!

Best photo bomb ever! (Courtesy of Stef.)

And we partied like rock stars…

I absolutely adore this shot!

The Breakfast Club

Can music save your mortal soul?

And now that we know, the world will never be the same with “Chester the Molester”

***

I Can’t Quit You

This was wedding #2, for those of us keeping count, in 2012.

The wedding was absolutely gorgeous. Dylcia and Matt looked so happy, and after a few years (shall not name the actual amount) they had the timing right.

The wedding day was St. Patrick’s day, which I must say is quite genius. I mean, Matt should never forget their anniversary ever! The ceremony itself was in both English and Spanish, and while it may sound long, it was actually quite nice and the priest was quick, lighthearted, and endearing.

Here are some of my particularly favorite photos from the wedding:

Capilla Mayor – Universidad de Sagrado Corazón


Reception Entrance – Club Náutico

Continue reading I Can’t Quit You