Monday, September 27, 2010

One Year Ago

One year ago today, I met Ed for the first time.

For years I'd seen him pop on to the IRC channel I've been frequenting since I was 20. We were never online much at the same time: We'd say hello; once or twice we had private instant message conversations, but nothing deep. A few months prior to our meeting in person, we worked our way up to chatting every night on Skype or IRC, restricting ourselves to the venues that gave us options that wouldn't keep C. awake or require me to go outside to talk.

C. and I had gone to the Vendy Awards that Saturday; the next day he was to fly off to I-can't-remember-anymore-which-tech-conference. I dropped C. off at the airport in the morning; in the afternoon, I drove back to pick up Ed. I wasn't really expecting anything to happen other than to hang out with a friend whom I'd known for awhile. 

Things changed quickly after Ed went back to Utah a few days later. I felt shaken in unexpected ways that I won't get into here; suffice it to say, I felt I owed it to C. to end our relationship.

I stayed with C. for about another month before we ended things. I do not regret my relationship with C., of course, but I wish I had handled so many things very differently, mostly how we talked and communicated and how I ended things. At the time I had done all I could think of doing to avoid a breakup; now, about a year later, I see how I could have done things differently throughout the relationship, which is not to say it likely shouldn't have ended much sooner. (Perhaps if it had ended much sooner, a lot of the pain could have been avoided.) I don't know if "moody" is the right word for the situation; perhaps "contemplative and sad" is more apt for how I feel when I still think about the last year or two of my time with C. 

In the year since I've met Ed, so much has changed. I had lived in Long Island for about nine years; I moved back to Pennsylvania, effectively showing up on my parents' doorstep with no warning. I worked briefly for a daycare, then taught (and technically still do) at a community college. Ed and I got engaged, I moved to Utah, and we're planning a wedding in Pennsylvania.

It's still a bit of an emotional roller coaster. Knowing that I made the right decision (but having done it wrong) doesn't make it much easier. I'll never forget some of the looks C. gave me when I left him - but I'm certain that Ed is the right man for me to spend my life with.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pre-Cana Meeting #1

Man, was I nervous. I didn't even realize how nervous until after the meeting with Fr. Carley was over, but things couldn't have gone more smoothly.

Mostly I was nervous because I had no idea what to expect. I've never even come close to being married before, and while I have friends who are married - and gone to various weddings, both Catholic, religious, and secular - none of my close friends have had a Catholic wedding, so I had no point of reference for Pre-Cana and what was likely to happen. It would be an impossible question anyway, because every priest is different. The priest at St. Joseph the Worker, Fr. Carley, isn't someone I was too familiar with (I haven't been a member of the parish for too long, and for two of those months, either he or Ed and I were not in town.)

My fears were generally allayed, though. Ed not being a confirmed Catholic wasn't as big an issue as we'd feared: If it's a requirement via Canon Law that Ed, as a technical Catholic, must be confirmed, either he would have to go through RCIA classes (which he's not ready for; there wouldn't be time, anyway), or we'd get a dispensation from the bishop. My understanding was that if we wanted to have a Nuptial Mass, Ed had only to be baptized; additionally, I thought that his being confirmed might be more a recommendation than requirement. Since Fr. Carley wasn't entirely sure himself, he said he'd make a call or two to find out, and we'd take it from there. He didn't seem to see it as a major stumbling block and seemed to think it could be gotten around. Fr. Carley recommended that we go to an Engaged Encounter weekend (I've registered us for the upcoming November weekend), after which I'll make another appointment with Fr. Carley, and we'll take the next step.

In a related quirk, I'm entertained by the ads that have begun appearing on FaceBook: I'm now seeing a plethora of wedding vendor ads. The one I saw today informed me that if I mentioned that particular ad when booking the service (this was for a photographer), they'd knock $500 off the price. This entertains me because I can't imagine how much they're charging for the photographer; we booked ours for the amount that would be saved by mentioning the ad.

Pre-Cana Jitters

Monday, September 20, 2010

Geeking Out, Blogging-Style

I seem to have a lot of blog out there: I have a handful of blogs hanging out on Blogger, one on LiveJournal, and I hang out on microblogging and social networking sites like Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn, AudioBoo, etc. I really enjoy blogging a lot, and being socially active online, even if no one other than my mother or fiance takes any notice of my online presence. I like the blogging more than the other aspects of being online, although I add a certain amount of value to being on FaceBook or LinkedIn, and in my miniscule geeky brain's technological hierarchy, I always liked Blogger more than LiveJournal, although both sites had aspects that I liked. (I used Blogger first, and longest; I find the site inherently easy to modify, but LiveJournal has a few features that drew me to them, also.)

In any case, at this point I have so many blogs about so many topics, that cross-posting is a bit of a nuisance. Getting my blog posts to post everywhere I want is also a nuisance; I can get my Blogger blog to post to Twitter and sometimes to FaceBook (depending on the blog), but I have to use or Friendfeed to post applicable blog entries elsewhere, like to MySpace (does anyone use MySpace anymore?), etc. And some services I really like, such as AudioBoo, can be set up such that I can post my boos to Twitter and FaceBook and Posterous, but not to Blogger or LiveJournal.

I think I'm explaining that as clearly as I can; it's possible I've muddled everything terribly. It's difficult, even to me, keeping everything straight.

In any case, I like things streamlined, so after poking my nose around Posterous for awhile, I signed up for an account; I arranged my cross-posting such that whatever blog posts I post on Posterous, will go to my various other sites as well. I wanted to make things easy on myself.

And not for nothing, but I'm also getting married next May, which means there would be a name change involved. Having to change URLs and user names from msolomon or michellesolomon to some configuration that would include "Szetela" will just be annoying and time-consuming. (It took me months of remembering and coming across sites I used to change my former e-mail address to my current Gmail e-mail address.)

The motto of the blog post is: I've gone done and created a new blog at, which will (hopefully) post everywhere I would normally post, but for your own sanity, you might just want to forget all those other blogs I keep and bookmark this one.

Or not, whatever's easier.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bad Wedding Dress Vendor

I have to admit that I was never one who had longingly planned and plotted out a wedding simply for the sake of planning and plotting a wedding. I do know women who, without so much as having a boyfriend with whom they've been discussing marriage, have the entirety of the weddings planned, down to the dress.

This was not me.

I was never really keen on a traditional wedding gown. However, Ed seemed to really want me in something poofy, and since it was important to him, we began the process of looking for a wedding gown. (I have to admit I enjoy just how much he's gotten into this.) Previous blog entries chronicle my search, including a dress maker from Altered Elegance who could help design a custom gown. Since I wasn't finding too much I liked - and add to that my being a larger size - I dropped her an e-mail making a basic inquiry. Two days later she replied, asking for more details, which I provided; I included links to a few gowns I liked, my price range, and when I would need the gown. I responded on August 4th.

Two days ago, which incidentally is five weeks after I sent her the information, I heard from her again, apologizing for not having been in contact sooner but without further explanation. I had told her my budget would be between $1,000 and $1,500 (at the time all the dresses I had been finding had been in that price range); she quoted me a price of $1,500. Clearly she does not want my business.

By the way? The dress I ordered took - wait for it - exactly one week to arrive from the time I placed the order, and cost $675.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Yesterday, Ed and I spent a couple hours at the Salt Lake Greek Festival. There was food! (And boy was it good; I love Greek food.) There was music! There was dancing!

Salt Lake City Greek Festival from Michelle Solomon on Vimeo.
Sunday, September 12, 2010: Greek dancing

Friday, September 10, 2010

Busy Bee: Packing, DJ, Cake, Flowers, Church

The past week has been absolutely insanely busy, busier than I've been in a long time. Ed and I had four vendor meetings over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday, and we interspersed those meetings with packing. Fortunately, the packing wasn't as terrible (nor did we need as many boxes) as we thought. Between vendor meetings, we sorted through my clothes, books, etc; acquired boxes from the nearest UPS store; packed and taped everything; and dropped off four boxes with nothing but books at the post office, and the remainder of my belongings (two large boxes and one small box), at FedEx. (So thankful they give Ed a rather sizable discount; we wound up paying a quarter of what shipping 118 pounds of my life via 2-Day would have normally cost.)

And then there were the vendor meetings. On Monday night we met with a DJ, whom we both liked very much. He was receptive and didn't seem interested in pushing anything we don't want; indeed, he'd e-mailed us an exhaustive 15-page questionnaire that covered every option that we might want. We booked him the next day, so that's one less thing we have to worry about. Of course, we also don't have the time or ability to fly back and forth to Pennsylvania to do in-depth searching. We liked the guy, so we booked him.

Before we left for Europe, we had had an appointment at Louie's Bakery, but despite having made said appointment, the staff didn't know were coming, so they didn't have a strawberry cake ready. Their cakes were good, though, so we made an appointment for a few days after we came back.

Things did not go well.

What I want is fairly simple: strawberry-flavored cake with some manner of chocolate icing. I made it clear that I did not want strawberry filling (I hate goop with the passion of a thousand burning suns) or big strawberries surrounding the cake or anything along those lines. Instead, we were given vanilla cake with completely tasteless strawberries pieces in it. This was an improvement over the previously baked and disposed-of version.

Apparently the baker hadn't thought I wouldn't want a pink strawberry-tasting cake; she thought it too moist, so made the vanilla cake-based version. I don't know where the cake had been stored, but it had obviously not been refrigerated and had been sitting out for a long time. It tasted horrible, like it had been tossed in the trash and then retrieved. Gelatin had been used to flavor the cake, but there was no strawberry taste whatsoever; it tasted spoiled, and I could barely even eat more than a few bites of it.

We hightailed it out of there and decided, despite how busy we were, to drive through Emmaus and across Allentown to check out the Village Bake Shoppe, which seemed to be referenced all over the place, and which a baker friend of my mother had recommended. We weren't expecting to accomplish anything other than get information but hoped to get a few questions answered. Big question number one was whether they make their own fondant. The folks at Louie's Bakery apparently buys theirs, and it was implied that it wasn't all that good, but Ed wants that smooth white look, so fondant is a must. The lady at Village Bake Shoppe didn't think they made their own fondant, but essentially said she just helped roll it out, so she didn't know too much about it, but she allowed us to sample some, and I was suitably impressed. We got a price sheet; I asked if they made strawberry cake, and went into a mini-tirade about what I didn't want, and I was told that yes, they could do that, so the next time were back in the Lehigh Valley, we'll make an appointment.

We also had appointments with two different flower vendors. Once again, I was wary, because I had a few ideas of what I wanted: no roses, but either wildflowers or a few stems of either lilies or sunflowers for my bouquet, and mixed-and-matched flowers for the centerpieces in different vases. Well, at Mary B's, the owner, Sherry, gave us some really good ideas, and helped us put together a really interesting centerpiece that included sunflowers, spray roses, delphinium, and hyacinth. (There may have been a few others in there; Ed wrote down what we came up with.) Together, they look really interesting, especially if we use vases that have the same basic design but slightly different shapes, and flowers that are the same breed but different colors (each centerpiece would contain the same flowers, but in different colors). We're still waiting on the estimate. We also chose a bridal bouquet and bouquets for the bridesmaids, corsages for our mothers, and boutonnieres for Ed, the groomsmen, and our fathers.

We were able to tell Rose at Phoebe Floral what we wanted in terms of the bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres, but we had her work on a different idea for centerpieces, namely wildflowers. We got an estimate yesterday, but we'll wait to see what Mary B's estimate looks like, and probably asking a few more questions of the Phoebe Floral people. (I want to know what her vision of the wildflower centerpiece looks like, for one thing; I would also like an estimate of a similar centerpiece that we had worked out with Mary B's, for comparative purposes.)

The next big To Do item is making an appointment with my parish priest, Father Carley. In impeccable timing - and I hasten to add there's no way this could have been known - Ed proposed a few days before Fr. Carley was leaving for a five-week vacation back home to Ireland. (No matter where I go, I find me an Irish priest.) Of course, right when he would be home, Ed and I would be in Europe for two weeks, but we'd been assured by the woman working at the rectory that we still had plenty of time, and not to fret. I called this morning, and of course, since this weekend is their Fall Festival, everyone's extremely busy, but the woman remembered having met us, and passed on my message to Father Carley, and said if we didn't hear from him by the middle of next week, to call back. So at least that's in the works, too.

And that's what I'm most nervous about. In the nearly two months we've been engaged, we've chosen a date and managed to book a lot of vendors - including the church in Pennsylvania - before even talking to Father Carley. I hope all the pre-Cana planning goes smoothly, but the complete lack of knowing what to expect is making me nervous; I don't know how Ed's not having been Confirmed will affect any of this.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Home Again & Video

Yesterday was what one might call A Very Long Day. We finally made it home after about 21 hours of being awake and traveling. From Stockholm - and we did manage to get seats, although one of us was in business, and the other in Economy - we flew to JFK, and then caught a bus to Allentown. (We got up at 6 a.m. to catch the 8 a.m. shuttle for our 11 a.m. flight, which was 7 ½ - 8 hours, followed by a 90-minute wait, then a four-hour bus ride.) Mom fed us, and we hung out talking a bit before Ed fell into bed. (Bad timing: He woke with a monster head cold.) We had such a wonderful and interesting time, but we were so glad to be home and felt much more human after taking a shower today.

Our hotel the final night in Stockholm was really something to behold, though (we flew from Helsinki back to Stockholm to catch our flight to JFK). Among other interesting things to happen, although the front desk lady was very nice, she initially sent us to a room that was already occupied. On top of that, the shower stall had a drain that deposited the water to the bathroom floor, so once we stepped out of our respective morning showers, we stepped into a few inches of water.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

European Vacation Pictures

In three segments, because otherwise there's be too many photos in one place, and I'd forget where I took each picture otherwise.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Oh, Helsinki. We had so little time to spend exploring you, just two days. Although we arrived Monday evening, we fly back to Stockholm tomorrow so we can fly back to New York on Friday.

Nevertheless! We tromped around as much as could: Yesterday we went to Uspenski CathedralTemppeliaukio Kirkko (Church in the Rock), and Market Square; we also tried to go to some design outlet stores and museums but got horribly lost on the tram and buses, and finally gave up. Today we spent the afternoon at the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress. Tomorrow, we'll probably just hit the mall to wander around before heading to the airport.