April 2007


Have you ever had days when you feel your brain is on fast-forward?  As I was driving towards Mr. T’s house I was reviewing what I had to do that day: answer wedding e-mails, call my florist, finish my Master’s application, get passport pictures, call the immigration attorney, sweep the downstairs, pick up the new puppy at the airport, make dinner for friends who were coming over to meet said puppy, finish doing laundry, take Morena for a walk, make my mom’s website, decide what I was taking to San Francisco… The list seemed endless.

My cell phone rang as I was pulling into the parking lot.  I looked at the caller ID to make sure it wasn’t some foaming-at-the-mouth bride, and when I saw it was Mr. T I happily answered.

“Hey honey bunny, I need you to do me a favor,” he said after we had greeted each other.  “I’m about to go into a meeting, but could you call the vet and arrange a ‘new puppy’ appointment for Checkers?”

“Yeah, sure… Just hold on a second,” I answered, holding the cell phone to my ear with my shoulder and rummaging through my purse.   “Damn it,” I exclaimed, growing more and more frustrated with my ineffective search.

“What’s wrong?” Mr. T asked.

“Nothing… Stupid purse, full of crap.”  I unzipped the purse all the way, rolled up my sleeves, and dove in full force.  I pulled out my wallet, PDA, Kleenex, a bunch of receipts, a hairbrush, two sets of keys, a digital camera, three checkbooks, five pens, my passport, an iPod, a box of Altoids and a bottle of water, but I still couldn’t find what I was looking for.  “You know, I really need to clean out my purse.  I can never find anything in there!”

“What are you looking for?” he asked.

“My cell phone,” I exclaimed.  “I can’t find my cell phone!”

Mr. T snorted.  Then he started to chuckle.

“What’s so funny?”  He was laughing and couldn’t answer.  “What’s. So. Funny.” I demanded.

“Check your ear.”

“What’s wrong with my… Oh, fuck.”

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Did you miss me? I sure missed you! Life has been crazy since last week, what with college applications and all. Turns out, I am applying for a Master’s degree in Primary Montessori Education!! I’ve always wanted to go back to school to get a Master’s degree, and now my dream is coming true! But of course that implies applications and essays, along with planning weddings, so it’s been a crazy week. I just came back from delivering my application and now the waiting game starts! Oh, did I mention I’ve already been hired for two 2008 weddings?!?!

In other news, I did the Rosarito-Ensenada bike race in an AWESOME 3.5 hours! It was 50 gruelling miles, including a massive 800 ft. climb in a span of less than 3 miles. I think it was the most fun I’ve had with my clothes on in a VERY long time! I can’t wait to do it again in September!!!

I found out today that one of my very close friends is pregnant! She’s been trying to get pregnant for many months, so it’s a fabulous piece of news. So now, out of my five good friends, three are pregnant (the other two aren’t married, so they’d better not be pregnant)! Can someone recommend a good “one size fits all” baby shower present? I’m at a loss…

Oh, I almost forgot! Mr. T and I celebrated the anniversary of our first date last Friday!!! Wow, I can’t believe how far I’ve come in one year. I remember I was sooooo busy with work last year, and the poor man kept calling and trying to invite me on a date. My assistant had to field my calls because the brides were driving me crazy, and Mr. T ended up talking with Mary Jane three times. I was finally able to take his call and told him, “Look, I’m available on April 20th or Thanksgiving. Take your pick.” And the rest, as they say, is history. He was such a trooper…

And finally, Mr. T is getting a new puppy tonight! Checkers, a beautiful mini red merle Australian Shepherd arrives at S.D. airport in just a few hours!!! Pictures and gushing “new mommy” descriptions to come soon.

OK, now I’m off to catch up on your blogs!!!! Thanks for not forgetting about me, all four of you! 🙂

I’m in shock.  Plain.  Utter.  Shock.

Back in September of 2006, amidst total wedding mayhem (6 weddings in one month with one of my employees out on an extended leave), I provided a floral service for a bride who did not hire me as her consultant, only as her decorator.  She gave me a small deposit to secure the date, and two weeks before the wedding assured me that the balance was on its way.  The decor services were provided, and the payment never arrived.

I contacted her after her wedding and she assured me that she would send out another check immediately.  She even went so far as to gush about the decor services, exclaiming that we had surpassed her expectations.  However, weeks went by and no check was sent.  I invoiced her several times and even sent a couple of personal e-mails explaining the dire situation she put me in.  She owed me over $2,000!!!  I of course had to pay the florist for his work, so I had to absorb about 90% of the loss.

It served as a powerful lesson not to trust anyone, no matter how nice, or how rich, or how reassuring they seemed.  For months I lamented my stupidity, fretting over this significant financial loss.  After watching “The Secret” and reading about “The Law of Attraction”, I decided to sincerely forgive this girl for her wrong-doing and asked the Universe to provide me with that money in whatever way it saw fit.  I visualized the money arriving in my bank account and felt happy and relieved.  It took me a few tries, but eventually I let go of my anger and forgot the situation entirely.  This must have been back in February.

Ten minutes ago, I checked my e-mail.  In my inbox was a PayPal message saying I had received a $2,000+ payment from the delincuent bride.

The Universe NEVER ceases to amaze me.

Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to find me a post office that stays open until midnight.

– Mr. T

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my boyfriend (fiance? *gasp*) is a procrastinator.  At 9:30pm, while I stretched out on the couch and read a book, he sweated over his taxes.  Papers flew left and right, the calculator clicked, and if I’m not mistaken I even heard a few “f*cks” being emitted at carefully timed intervals.  At 11:00pm we were fueling the car, and by 11:20pm he had gotten photocopies of his returns.  We actually made it with 15 minutes to spare to the only post office open until midnight!

Not exactly my idea of late-night excitement… Thank goodness taxes only come around once a year.

Editor’s note: I had been wrestling with a situation in my head for a few weeks now, but I hadn’t been able to blog about it for fear that Mr. T would see the piece before I was able to speak with him in person about it. We spoke last night… So, here it is, recorded for all posterity in my blog.

The one downside (one?) to my job as a wedding planner is that I am busiest during the days and months when Mr. T (a college professor) is off work. Summers for me mean endless weddings and meetings with prospective clients; summers for him mean traveling through Europe, attending conferences at beach resorts, and having time to unwind. Weekends for me mean weddings on Saturdays and meetings on Sundays, while weekends for him mean bike riding, camping, and home improvement projects.

I have turned my schedule upside-down to fit as much of his life into mine as possible. After all, who can turn down all-expense paid trips to Europe? However, we would still find ourselves frustrated when our schedules didn’t match up and we had to cut short or entirely forego one exciting plan or another.

When I realized that I wanted to focus on empowering children, Mr. T suggested I become a Montessori teacher. I was educated in this method, and Mr. T’s sister is currently a teacher in-training. It was a wonderful idea, but I dismissed this option for a few months, convinced that it would be impossible for me to support myself while I studied.

Two weeks ago, several situations came together to make me think otherwise. I crunched numbers for my business and realized that I would be comfortably in the black by the end of the wedding season. Major wedding dramas threatened to throw me off the deep end. Our travel plans were once again thwarted by my uncooperative schedule. But most significantly, I realized that our relationship had reached the point where we were seriously considering a future together, and my current job was coming in the way of that.

Suddenly, the option of being a teacher – and hence coordinating my life with Mr. T’s – didn’t seem so out of reach. I did a little research and discovered that the best Montessori training center in San Diego is located 1.3 miles from Mr. T’s house! Classes start in September, and not only is the schedule such that I would be able to continue working in the evenings and on weekends, but it is also within my financial means! I shared my findings with Mr. T, and he assured me that I could live at his house during the week while I attended school, and work from my apartment in Baja on weekends.

I quickly started the application process, but a thought nestled in the back of my mind. I am a Mexican citizen, and don’t have work authorization in the U.S. The only way I could find work after graduating from school – and thus synchronize my life with his – would be if Mr. T and I got married.

I was willing to tackle the grueling lifestyle of working and studying full time for the next fourteen months, but only if I knew there would be light at the end of the tunnel. Yet, how in the WORLD was I going to ask Mr. T to marry me?!?!

I tossed & turned for three nights, not knowing if Mr. T was aware of my predicament. I certainly didn’t want him to think that I wanted to marry him for a work permit!!! He’s the love of my life, and were the situation any different, I wouldn’t care if we never got married, as long as we could be together forever. But things were what they were, and it was time for him to step up to the plate and realize that we both had to bow to reality if we were to make this relationship work for the long-term.

Last night, as we sat eating grilled cheese sandwiches and fries at a local hang-out, he asked about the application process for my training. I took a deep breath, and started:

“I’m glad you bring that up, because it’s something that I’ve been wanting to talk with you about. See, I’m really excited about becoming a teacher, obviously because of my new career goals, but also because we can finally synchronize our lives.” My heart started beating faster as he looked at me intently.

“Now, I’m willing to pay for my schooling, support myself, and study like crazy so that fourteen months from now I can become a teacher,” I continued, nervously wringing my hands. “But there’s one obstacle. You and I both know that I can’t work in the U.S. without a permit. I really don’t want to go through this crazy year, invest a ton of money, drive like a maniac from Baja to San Diego every week, and at the end of it all, receive a lovely but useless diploma.” He nodded in agreement but remained silent.

“You know I would never ask you this if things were different,” I said, my voice shaking and my heart by now pounding in my ears. “I am not interested in diamonds or white wedding dresses. I love our relationship the way it is and wish that I didn’t have to be asking you this. But I need to know that this whole ‘going back and forth’ thing is only temporary, because I’m not just doing it for me; I’m doing it for us. I need to know that when I graduate, we will…So I can…And we can…” My voice trailed off, emotions getting the best of me.

Mr. T turned slightly red, a lovely smile illuminating his face. He looked at me with a mischievous twinkle in his eye – undoubtedly enjoying the moment and my obvious discomfort. He let me squirm in my seat for a moment longer before taking my hand and responding:

“Don’t worry,” he said. “This whole ‘going back and forth’ thing is only temporary. I understand what you’re saying and I agree.” I released an audible sigh and looked into his eyes, relief and gratefulness washing over me.

“After all, you need to be able to celebrate ‘the most important day of your life'”, he quipped, borrowing a cliche from my wedding planning website.

I silently thanked him for making me laugh even as I threw a french fry at him. He understood. We were a team, and together we had just taken a very scary and exciting step towards spending the rest of our lives together.

The potential client I had an appointment with entered the restaurant flustered because she was 20 minutes late. I forgave her because she flashed a lovely smile as she approached me, and greeted me warmly. She immediately started chattering amicably about the reasons for her delay, and in just seconds I knew this was someone I would love to be friends with.

She told me all about her candle stores: how she and her sister had started one because of their love of candles, and how their business had grown to include three retail locations in the city. This might sound narcissistic, but she reminded me of myself: only slightly younger, she appeared optimistic, hard-working, and focused. She had this lovely glow about her, and I am certain that we could easily have spent the afternoon talking and getting to know one another.

However, I was there for the express purpose of selling my services to her – the bride-to-be – so I dove into my spiel. She stopped me after a few sentences and said, “I already know that I want to hire you. But you see, my husband – well, I call him my husband but he’s really still my boyfriend… He’s, well, special.”

She cringed when she said “special”, so I allowed her to elaborate. “He loves to bargain, and he’ll argue about every single price you quote him,” she explained. “Even if I think the price is fair, he won’t be happy until he obtains a discount. I hate when he does that, and it makes me feel terribly uncomfortable because it’s plain rude, but that’s just the way he is.” I smiled, silently giving thanks for the warning.

“And another thing,” she continued. “He’s really picky about quality, and the cleanliness of the food. He will want to be involved in the most minute details of the wedding to know that things are being done the way he wants them.” Sounds charming, I thought, but I asked myself how bad he could be if this lovely, talented, and outgoing girl was marrying him.

As I chatted with her about my services, an older man, just under 50 years of age, approached the table. She smiled lovingly at him, and he sat down without even acknowledging my presence.

“Hi,” I offered with a smile, not knowing his name and waiting for an introduction.

“Let me see this,” he told the bride, taking my information sheet from her. She gave it to him without a word, and looked my way nervously. I smiled and sat patiently while he browsed through the information.

“We already chose the location for the wedding,” he spat out after what seemed like an eternity. “They’re providing the tent, tables, chairs, food, drink, and servers. So, why would we need to pay you that much money to coordinate our wedding,” he demanded, pointing in disgust to my modest consulting rate.

I took a deep breath, not about to be intimidated by this moron, and went into my well-rehearsed wedding planner spiel. I explained the challenges of planning a destination wedding, and offered him a host of reasons why hiring a wedding planner was a smart investment.

“That’s all fine and well,” he countered. “But I think we only need you for the day of the wedding. Is that something you can do?”

I smiled sweetly. “You are getting married on one of the busiest Saturdays in July. If I took your wedding and charged you for my ‘day-of’ package, I would very likely be losing a customer who is willing to pay my full rate. I’m sure you understand the difficulty of this situation, since I only work one wedding per weekend and no more than three events per month.”

He grimaced and scratched his greying mustache. “Well, I really don’t see the need for a wedding planner. I’ve been married twice (!!!), so I know the drill. After all, other than food and drink, what other important vendors should we really consider?”

My patience was thinning, and I looked over at the bride. She sat in meek silence, obviously mortified by his insensitive tone of voice. She would reach out to him occasionally and try to subdue him with the touch of her hand and a soft “Honey…”.

Unfortunately, her strategy wasn’t working and she seemed to tense up with every harsh syllable her boyfriend uttered. Where had her gregarious and sparkling personality gone? And more importantly, why did I have the oddest feeling in the pit of my stomach? It wasn’t fear, exactly. It was more like defiance, a desire to come out on top.

Refocusing on the interview, I quickly reviewed the list of services my vendors can provide, and countered with my secret wedding planner weapon. “Look, having a wedding planner is not something everyone can afford, and I understand that. But if you’re making a sizable investment in a seven-hour event, don’t you want it to be professionally orchestrated?”

His eyes narrowed, and he coughed. “Well, yes. You have a point. *cough, cough* And, really, we do have an ample budget.” He fidgeted in his seat, and I thought, Aha!! I kicked him where it hurt! Men are so easy to read!

“I’m sure you do,” I said with a calm smile, and turned to the bride, who by now was nothing more than a quivering lump on her chair. “Now, if you don’t have any more questions for me, I really must go because I have a meeting in a few minutes. Please contact me if you have further questions and let me know when you’ve made your decision.” I gave the bride a warm hug and a kiss, and turned to give the bastard my best “kiss my ass” handshake and stare.

As I walked out the door, I realized why I had those strange feelings of defiance. As I sat between that couple, I was witnessing my marriage playing out in front of me! It was all there: the insecure scumbag who thought he could feel superior by making others feel inferior, and the joyous, optimistic, and talented girl whose lack of self-esteem and “disease to please” had driven her into the arms of someone unworthy of her love and kindness.

The man was almost two decades her senior (as in my case), and she obviously felt that she could be a positive influence in his miserable life (hello, two divorces?). I thought back to the countless times I had touched my husband’s arm with a soft, pleading “honey…”, while he used his most arrogant tone to intimidate everyone into submission.

The part of me that suffered enormously wants to write her an e-mail sharing my story and telling her to run for the hills. However, the part of me that’s older and wiser knows that she would never listen – just as I didn’t listen some years back. I believe each of us was placed on this planet to learn certain lessons, and it is only through first-hand experience that we can truly assimilate those teachings and become better human beings. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?

I sincerely hope that I am wrong about the path their relationship is headed in. But tonight I’ll say a prayer in hopes that she’s blessed with the support and unconditional love of family and friends, which she’ll desperately need when she realizes her mistake.

Mr. T invited a colleague and his wife over for dinner last night. I ran around all day cooking up a storm, one of my all-time favorite ways to spend an afternoon. While I prepared the bruschetta, I took a moment to check my blog. As I read the comments, I thought, “Hmmm… Something smells nice.”

toast1.jpg

Voila, le toast brulé. So much for my degree in Food & Beverage Management!

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