4X the holiday spirit

Christmas #1: Christmas Eve w/ Liz's family at her parents house

Christmas #2: Christmas morning at Liz's brothers house watching her nephew and neice open presents

Christmas #3: Christmas evening at my parents house w/ my grandparents

Christmas #4: Today w/ my sister, who just returned from a ten day cruise, and my parents

It's a lot of holiday cheer...but despite all the traveling it's been drama free and great to see everyone.

On Saturday we have the longest day ever....

  • Leave parent's house in Maryland at 5:30AM EST to drive to Dulles Airport outside of Washington, DC
  • Fly to Dallas
  • Transfer planes and fly to LAX--arriving at 12:15PM PST
  • Drive home to Hermosa Beach
  • Eat something
  • Get ready to out
  • Go to a NYE party that begins at 8PM and ends at 4AM
  • 5AM--home and in bed.
After accounting for the three hour time change...we'll be awake on Saturday/Sunday for at least 27 hours--more if dragged to see a couple friends DJ at an afterhours that begins at 4AM. But hey, it's our last NYE in Los Angeles, so no rest allowed!


invitation overload

I knew it wasn't going to be easy to choose invitations, but I had no idea just how difficult it would be. There are so many options to consider, it's ridiculous. Paper weight, size, shape, color. Borders, embelishments, bows, flowers. Printing method. Typeface style and color. Enclosure cards. Envelopes, double envelopes, envelope liners. I had no idea it was so complicated. When mom and I went to look, the salespeople kept pulling out big, gigantic book after book after book after book filled with sample invitations. Within 15 minutes of entering the paper store, the enormous table was covered with open books and mom and I both felt completely overwhelmed. I think she and I finally figured it all out, after three trips to the same store.


Happy Holidays!

We're off to Maryland very soon but before we go...

Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to everyone that we hold near and dear!

(We're flying in a small puddle jumper from Logan Airport to BWI...so send some positive thoughts our way...)


Things are looking good

After some scare about our hotels, we seem to have found a temporary solution. Several alternate hotels are now listed on the site. (For all of you that just received your save-the-date cards, the guest info site is now back up and running after a brief downtime.)

Last night we went to a tasting. The details of what will be on the menu will be left a surprise, but I can say that the food was excellent...much better than I expected it to be. The director of the Red Lion told us that we could call her in the middle of the night at home if we had concerns leading up to the day. I wonder if that was merely lip service or if she really meant it. Either way it was extremely reassuring.


Stop and say hello! We'd love to know if you've visited the site and what you think.

It's easy! Just click "post a comment" below.

Don't forget to add your name!


Guest Info site down

We're starting to get more eyes here thanks to the just-mailed save-the-date cards. The information site is down for a bit so that we can update a few things to make sure everyone is getting accurate info.

It should be back up really soon.

Yes, this is thanks to those wonderful speedbumps...

The first speedbump

Currently we're a little freaked out because while we've been really excited about our hotel situation since setting everything up last June, we've now been told--quite unexpectedly--that everything has changed. Many of our guests have already booked, and that's great. But we really had this whole thing planned with the assumption that everyone would be there. Now, despite our best effort, things are now all amiss.

If the powers that be are on our side, this will be but a minor inconvenience for everyone involved.

Speedbumps...don't you just love 'em?


Donny, you're out of your element!

OK...so I've been really involved so far in all aspects of this process. Maybe it's my creative side, maybe it's just because I have a need to be hands-on...I don't know.

Well, that came to a halting stop today when we made our first stop earlier during our fully packed wedding prep week. Where did we go? The florist.

It's not that I don't care about flowers, because I certainly can appreciate them and I understand why they're an essential way to brighten up the reception space. That said, when we were speaking with the florist I felt more out of place than a polar bear on a tropical island. Dendro-whats? I did a lot of smiling and nodding. I will have no issue picking out flatware next month, so I think I did OK. I'm happy to say that my end-point was flowers, that's better than most grooms. I guess I had to have my moment filling the groom-out-of-place cliché. Fortunately, I have complete confidence in Liz's judgement and the woman seemed to know what she was talking about (not that I would know!?) so in the end, I'm know for a fact that it will all look fantastic and beautiful.

no rest for the weary

Do you ever create imaginary timestamps in your head? You know, like, "after the holidays, I will ..." Everyone fills in that blank differently, with things they need, things they hope for, things they want to accomplish. My most recent imaginary timestamp was "after I finish the semester, I will be able to relax and stop running around in 50 different directions at once." HA! Not even a chance. Since arriving in Massachusetts after finishing grad school, I've done at least 3872 things. It's to be expected, it being the week of Christmas, as well as the only time James and I are in Massachusetts together until the week of the wedding.

No, I'm not an idiot. I knew it was going to be hectic. I was just so stressed that I needed to create a light at the end of the tunnel. It's funny to stop and think about the lies we tell ourselves to stay sane. And hey, at least now I am busy with fun things rather than cramming for tests.



If anyone out there wants to be a sugar daddy/momma for a soon-to-be-married couple by providing them with a nice 3 chip DV camcorder to document the time leading up to their wedding.... well let's just say we wouldn't stop you.

I know, I know...well, maybe a close friend will hit the lottery and now they'll know what to get us for Christmas ;)

Getting work done

Does it ever seem like you have a million things to do right before you leave town? I'm wrapping up a freelance gig but I've started to feel like I have a million other things to do that I can't possibly get done. But then when I think about it, I can't sort out in my head exactly what it is I need to actually do. I leave on Sunday morning. It will be good to get a break for a bit.


She's done!

Wish Liz a big time congrats! She aced her comprehensive exam and she's done with grad school! May that stress be in the past and new stress be minimal...



So much to do in five short days

I'm only going to be in Scituate with Liz for a week right before Christmas. With Christmas at the tail end of my time there, we really only have five days to take care of things. This will be one of the only chances that we get to meet together with people and do wedding stuff locally before June. So far we have the photographer, videographer, and taste testing dinners at the Red Lion. But there's more to be done that we haven't even started thinking about. Hectic times ahead!


Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

I live in Los Angeles. I don't get starstruck when I see famous people anymore. Well, except apparently, when that famous person is Paul McCartney, I do.

My mom came to visit me recently. As always, we had a great time. On one of the days she was visiting, we went to see Ellen being taped. Mom and I waited for several hours outside in lovely downtown Burbank without knowing who the guest was. When they finally let us inside the studio lot, we waited some more. But at least then they told us who the guest was.

I didn't even realize how exciting it was until we got inside and were seated in the 4th row. I actually love Ellen, though admittedly not as much as my mom does. So when the show started and we saw Ellen, and danced in the audience with her, I was already pretty pumped. But then he came out and sat at his piano, 15 feet away from us. I started feeling giddy. I mean come on, it was Paul McCartney! Right in front of me. I swear, I think he was singing to me. And he totally smiled at me. At least 2 times. To me, the most amazing thing about Paul McCartney was that he seemed like a real person, not like a living legend. He continued to be friendly in between shooting the different segments, dancing, smiling, and singing along to the music being played by Ellen's DJ, Tony.

I remember all the Beatles lore, how Paul was always "the cute one." I used to look at pictures and think "people did way too many drugs back then-the man is anything but cute." I couldn't have been more wrong. At 63 years old, Paul McCartney is still the cute one. It's his personality. He truly seemed genuine, and had this unbelievable magnetism.

So Mom and I gushed over Paul and Ellen through the whole show and all the way home. We had so much fun that day, but as if that weren't enough, we also got prizes! We each got a copy of Paul McCartney's new CD and the children's book he wrote, plus we received gift certificates to go race car driving at the Richard Petty Auto School. Spending time with mom, dancing with Ellen, getting all starry eyed over Paul McCartney, and prizes. Does it get any better than that?


Happy Thanksgiving!!!

FYI: It's a stock photo.

New toy in our house

Trust me, you don't want to know how long I waited in line for this on Monday night. If you've seen the news coverage you can safely assume it was longer than 15 minutes. I actually will be getting a free one through one of those free insert-popular-item-here sites so I wasn't even waiting for me. For those into this kind of thing, they just started a Playstation 3 freesite --check it out

I waited in line because Darrin couldn't get there due to work. I'm freelancing these days and had no work due this week AND I'm a good friend AND I wanted it in our house immediately, so I decided to help him out. We've been playing it since, and yes, it is much better than the regular xbox.

For all you non-gamers and naysayers out there that think it's weird that someone who wasn't a kid waited in line for a videogame system, I'll let you know that most of the people in line were my age. Some were older. A few were younger. Click through for some fun statistics that may surprise you about who plays video games these days.

And if anyone out there is on xbox Live, here's my gamercard:

I'll see you there.


Red red wine...

...you make me feel so fine, you keep me rocking all of the time.

oops, after typing that title I forgot I wasn't actually talking about UB40. For those of you not paying attention, James and I went wine tasting in Santa Ynez on the 5th.

The day started at 8 AM, when Jim, our limo driver, arrived at our house in Hermosa Beach to pick up James, myself, and our friends Darrin and Steve. We then drove to Eve’s house to collect her, Becca, and Marisa. The seven of us rode to Sideways country in style, listening to the musical styling of el Reyalto.

Our first and loooooooooooongest stop of the day was here
We sat in the private tasting room for an hour and a half, eating cheese and crackers and trying 8 different wines. We left the first (of six) wineries a little tipsy.

For lunch we had sandwiches from the gourmet Los Olivos Grocey Store deli. Sadly, we didn't eat the birthday cake we toted around in the trunk of the limo until 9PM when Darrin, James, and I were back in Hermosa Beach.

Our time in Santa Ynez ended at Rusack, where we sat on this patio watching the sun set and drinking a bottle of wine. All in all a wonderful day with wonderful friends.


Rock Star!


Why is it that if you find something that's really cool the people who you would have to deal with end up being total clueless assholes? There was a place in MA that made some cool, unique save-the-date cards and we've been waiting over three weeks for a sample. I've sent emails and called and no reply. They were super nice when I requested one, now it makes me not want to deal with them at all but I can't find another place that has something similar.




After months of studying for Liz and months of helping Liz stay stress free for me, we're gettin' away tomorrow. It will be my third time this year to the Santa Ynez valley in Santa Barbara county. It's where the movie Sideways was filmed and we're goin' all out for our trip. Liz, myself, and some friends rented a limo for the day so that we could go from winery to winery in style (and not worry about silly things like driving). Last time I was up there with Liz she tried to climb a tree at the last place we stopped. I don't doubt there will be interesting stories tomorrow as well. Regardless, I've been looking forward to it for quite a while. On top of it being a celebration for Liz being done, it's also a belated birthday celebration for myself...so fun all around!


Send Liz good wishes

She has Day One of her comprehensive exam today--the test she's been working very hard to pass for the last few months. It continues on Monday and then we finally get to see her come back to life!

So positive thoughts...


Finally happy about the site

There are a couple more things left to be done on the site, and I'm sure I'll keep tweaking it because I'm funny like that, but I can finally say that I'm happy with how the site and blog are coming together. My complete lack of experience with web design has made it more difficult than it needed to be, but now when I apply for jobs that ask if I have basic web experience, I don't have to lie and say yes while I secretly wing it after they hire me.

Liz is seven days away from her comps, but we're still planning. We booked a photographer that we're both excited about. We're meeting with him just before Christmas for our engagement shoot. It’s three years late, but at least my mom will be able to finally get that photo she keeps asking me about for the Carroll County Times engagements page.

We only have a week in MA together. During that time we'll have to taste test reception meals at the Red Lion, try some cake, possibly meet with a videographer, visit the hotel, meet with invitation designers, as well as many other things we haven't even thought of. And this is all beyond the stuff that doesn't involve me that Liz will deal with in the week she's in Scituate before I arrive. It's a hectic time--hard to fit everything in when we may not both be back together again until the wedding week. It's a good hectic though. It's exciting that things are moving forward now.

So far one element hasn't exactly been stress-free--our save-the-date cards. We were originally going to design them ourselves but wisely decided against that. I think we're on something like the fifth idea now. So that's not getting resolved as quickly as we would like...but I think we'll settle it soon. OK, I HOPE we’ll settle it soon.

And with that ends today's update.


busy lizzie

I’m not trying to ignore everyone, I swear. I am studying for my comprehensive examinations for my master’s in speech language pathology, as well as for the national licensing exam.
These exams cover everything I learned as an undergrad at Boston University as well as all material covered in the last 2 and a-half years at Cal State Northridge.

So, basically, my study partner (and bridesmaid!) Marisa and I spend every waking moment together. Well, every moment that I’m not student teaching, in class, tutoring, at the gym, or figuring out wedding stuff with James. Translation: Marisa and I are together every weekend, desperately trying to force our brains to recall random facts from years of schooling…what is the valence theory? By what week in fetal development is the inner ear completely developed? What are Brown’s 14 morphemes? What do ohms measure? Which vowels are front sounds? What is the Bernoulli effect? Who was Chomsky? Vygotsky? At what age do babies start babbling? What does the symbol for a pharyngeal fricative look like? Which cranial nerve, when damaged, causes Bell’s palsy? What does FAPE stand for?

Needless to say, I am rather stressed. Thankfully, since I have spent so much time in the couple of months studying neurology, I can tell you exaaaaaaaaaactly what happens in your nervous system as a result of this anxiety. You see, in response to the stress of my exams, the limbic system in my brain, which mediates emotional responses, activates the autonomic nervous system’s sympathetic branch. This is the fight or flight mechanism. When the stress begins to subside, the parasympathetic branch…okay, okay—I’ll stop. Just wanted to give you a glimpse into my world.

Oh, and if you don’t see another post from me until after Halloween, it’s because as I typed those sample questions, I realized I couldn’t answer some of them. Back to the books!


Red Lion

This is what it looks like when it's not all dressed up. What will it look like for our wedding?! Some things are best left a surprise!


New Look

Our little blog has had a makeover! I've redone it so that we have a consistent style from the splash page to this page to the (soon to be re-launched) guest info page. Besides, the last page was a blogger template that had background images which were unrelated to our wedding. We don't want that!


The limits of Apple love

I've never created a website in my life. Yeah, I know, how could someone in 2005, who's tinkered in design and taken graphic arts classes, have never built a website? I don't know, but that doesn't matter because I'm in the midst of it now.

Just playing around I created a basic site that it turned out no one using Windows could even view. (It looked perfect on my Powerbook...why can't the entire world be using Apple?!) After I found out the thing wasn't working I did some research and realized that I was using very old and basic techniques like frames and tables to build it. Anyone out there who's built a site is probably laughing now, but remember, I'm coming at this blind.

Anyway, I picked up a couple books on CSS and I'm taking a second go at it. If I can get past the fact that I have no PC to test the thing, we'll hopefully have a superb guest info site up soon.

First clue to a bad photographer...

...is when you see the posed shot of the wedding party holding cutout lips.



I have wanted to go to Hawaii ever since I saw the Brady's Hawaiian adventure. Sure, I know they found an evil idol and had a series of bad luck, but they were in Hawaii. Hawaii just seems so exotic and beautiful. I can't wait to drink Kona coffee in the morning and fruity cocktails at night and lay on the beach and do nothing all day long.

So, even though James and I knew we wanted to go to Hawaii, for the longest time we couldn't figure out which islands to go to. We contemplated Kauai, Maui, and Hawaii, and various
combinations of those islands. In the end we decided to stay on Maui for seven nights, and Hawaii for four.

So after the wedding, we'll fly to LA late Sunday, then we'll pack and leave for Hawaii Tuesday morning. The first four nights on Maui, we're renting a house. It is on the North Shore, and has a private outdoor pool and hot tub, with a deck that is situated on a cliff with ocean and waterfall views. It sounds so perfect-I wish we could go right now!

After that, we move from seclusion over to the west side of Maui, where most of the big resorts are. Right now, we're tentatively planning to stay at the Sheraton there. We've heard that while it's not the nicest of all those resorts over there, it has the best beach. Plus it's a Starwood hotel, and they have that whole "stay at one, play at all" policy.

On July 4th, we'll head to the big island. We'll stay in Kailua Kona for two nights, then go to Hilo for two nights. We'll get to explore the only volcano on all of the Hawaiian islands with flowing lava. (Note, I think this is the main reason James wanted to go to Hawaii lol).So that's it! Now we just need airfare and rental cars, and the honeymoon will be set.

Now, can someone plan the wedding for me?


Splash page

Liz pointed out to me a few days ago that we should make it easy for guests to find any important information about the wedding. The new splash page that you noticed when visiting the site will take care of that. It's temporary and not quite complete and the guest info page isn't ready yet either, but hey, it's a work in progress. The plan is to make the entire site carry the same style, so look for this blog page to be revised soon too.

By the way, the lighthouse on the left is Point Reyes, where I proposed, and on the right, as many of you already know, is Scituate Light, which is across the harbor from where the wedding ceremony will be.

Liz should have something to say about the honeymoon any day now.......


It's settled...Hawai'i

I know I said a few weeks ago that we were strongly considering Hawai'i for the Honeymoon. Well, now it's settled as we've officially reserved all our accomodations.

I'll let Liz share all the details soon, but I must say, it feels good to get something completely out of the way so that we don't have to worry about it anymore. I know technically the honeymoon isn't part of the wedding, but it still needed to be planned. It had been wisely recommended to us that we book it all now because a lot of the best locations will sell out as we get closer. That was great advice and I think we really lucked out with things. Availability aside, I don't know how we could have done this closer to the wedding because it was practically a week of looking at hotels, condos, rentals and their respective reviews to settle on something. I'm excited for the trip, but I'm even more excited for being able to completely focus on the wedding now. Save the date cards are coming along well. I just need to find an envelope that will work well with our design.


Home again, home again

Okay, a week after returning to California, I think I’ve finally recovered enough to write about my trip to Massachusetts.

I can’t go for more than 3 months without seeing my family. Most of my friends in California are transplants from the east coast. Some of them will go for a year or more without returning home. I don’t operate like that. Point in case: I was in Scituate in December, my mom was in California in January, my brother Brian came to visit me in March, I was in Scituate in April, my mom was in California in May, and I returned back to Scituate over Labor Day for a week.

What can I say? I love my family and I need to see them. So I did, and my week there was, as always, wonderful but busy.

I arrived Wednesday morning after taking a red eye. Not long after my arrival, mom and I went to the harbor for a morning of beauty. After manicures, pedicures, and haircuts, we were beautiful. The rest of the day was spent quietly with Mom and Dad.

Thursday morning I slept later than any other day I was there—until 9:30 EST. I woke to find Dunkin Donuts coffee waiting for me; I’m so spoiled! Dad left to pick up Dylan and Abby, my brother Rich and sister-in-law Tracy’s kids, who are the cutest children on the planet. And no, I am not biased. Not even a little bit.

I spent an exhaustingly fun day trying to be Super-aunt, playing hard all day long. It’s crazy—I know I just saw the kids in April, but three months later, they’re like different kids. Such is life when you’re almost 2 (Abby) and 3 (Dylan).

Friday Dad and I went out to lunch and tried to do some shopping. There was not a shopper’s sky, so in a *shocking* development, we headed home empty handed. Dad dropped me off at Alex’s house, where I met Mom at her weekly girly-girly day for cocktails by the water with Alex, Marsha, and Mary.

Saturday was Looney-Palooza. For those of you not in the know, I am related to a bunch of Looneys. Saturday was a big, wonderful BBQ with the Looney families, Stiles family, and McAuliffe family. We had an excellent time, playing with the kids, laughing, eating delicious food, and doing green-monster-turkey-baster shots. (Oh yes, in case you hadn’t already figured it out, our wedding is going to be fun.)

Sunday was the Labor Day parade, and the infamous Montanari house party. The parade was fun; my niece and nephew looooooooooved the parade. 3 reasons: candy, music, and a Nana who bought them the BIGGEST Thomas the Train and Dora the Explorer balloons that you have ever seen. I enjoyed the parade, especially the bagpipers. The parade seemed very short though. Initially I thought that perhaps the parade had always been that short, and it only seemed longer to me when I was younger because I was smaller. Thankfully my memory is not that fickle, and my brother Rich confirmed my suspicions that this year’s parade was a bit lackluster. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

The rest of Saturday was spent with Brian and his crew, drinking beer, playing wiffle ball, and laughing about a bunch of nothing. I snuck out of the party with Mom at 9. I was exhausted and knew that if I stayed and tried to keep up with the boys, I’d spent the night praying to the porcelain god.

Monday was low-key: we had cocktails with the Keefes, and dinner with the Montanaris on the deck. I discovered that ribs are not as disgusting as I’ve spent my whole life believing.

Tuesday was a big day. Mom and I went shopping to look for bridesmaid dresses. Once there, I had to try on a few bridal gowns. One dress was hideous, one weighed at least 3000 pounds, and three were beautiful. I’m not done looking yet though. Donna came over for a quick visit in the afternoon. After that, we traveled to Plymouth for a BBQ at Rich and Tracy’s house sans Dad, who was feeling under the weather. After a delicious and raucous dinner (during which Abby kept yelling “Hi, [insert name]” to everyone at the table), I headed back to Scituate to pack.

Wednesday morning at 4:30 AM, Dad and I left Scituate for Logan Airport. After the long flight back to Long Beach, I was happy to find a smiling James waiting for me.


It's been a while

I know we haven't updated in a while. First there's Liz, who has been back East visiting the fam. I know she has an update ready to about the trip, spending time looking at dresses, and all that comes with it. Right now, she's sucked into sorting through a huge pile of school work--literally as you can see to the left here--so she'll be back soon with wise words about bridesmaid dresses, color palates, and all that fun stuff.

Here on the West Coast, when not sad and later furious about the Hurricane Katrina mess, I've been trying to come up with a plan for the save-the-date cards. The first couple concepts were...how should I put it?...awful. But that's part of the process. I came up with something last night that's very simple, modern while still feeling classic, and hopefully clever. We'll see if the execution matches the concept. I need to visit a paper store for envelope samples so that I can size it out in Illustrator. Current plan is to have those mailed mid-November.



yay-a little helper!

Everyone already knows I'm completely disorganized. Well, apparently after Ann (James' mom for anyone who doesn't know) read about my planning challenges here, she and James decided I needed a helper. Or, as James called it in one of his other posts, one of those big wedding to-do binders. So now I have one, and it's fabulous. It has little pockets and divided tabs for each important part of the wedding, and it's set up like a 3 ring binder so I can add things in and put them in the right section. It has business card holders, and a calendar. My nifty little planner even provides us with a timeline, telling us when we need to have everything done. We're not even behind yet, haha. And get this: the organizer even came with a calculator and a three-hole punch built-in right in the front of the book. In fact, it is so cool and such a handy little helper, who knows--I could even become one of those nutty people that is disciplined, systematic, and orderly.

Okay haha, that will probably never happen. But at least I have a new tool to help me plan the wedding without missing any of those little-but-oh-so-important details. Thank you Ann!


more on save-the-date and honeymoon...

While we may sometimes be disorganized, Liz seems to have a better grip on what needs to be done when than I do. So as of today....save-the-date will go out in November and I may design the cards so that we can print them ourselves on our fabulous wide-format epson printer--something we really can't do for the actual invitations.

It's crazy to think that we should start making honeymoon plans with it so far away, but at the suggestion of a few people, that's what we're doing. We had been torn between going to Europe and going to Hawai'i. We've never been to Europe together and despite our six years in L.A., we've never been to Hawai'i at all. We're not 100% decided, but I think we're leaning towards Hawai'i. We can save a big European adventure for a future trip when we won't mind running around to many different places to see all the sites. Plus, since we would leave from LA to go to Hawai'i, we wouldn't need to pack for both the wedding and the honeymoon. (If you've seen how much stuff Liz and I take for a weekend trip, you would understand why that's a very good thing!) We've been gathering destination suggestions from friends, signed up to receive the free tourism books from every island, and ordered the highly recommended "revealed" series books for the islands we're most interested in--Kauai, Maui, and The Big Island. Have any suggestions? Add them in the comments. More to come about where we end up deciding to go...



It's almost time for Save-The-Date cards isn't it? I anticipate that our actual invitations will be quite traditional so I wonder if it's OK to be a little less so for the Save-The-Date. Of course we don't even have the guest list 100% finalized, so I guess we should do that first.

I just found a site called mygatsby (it's one of a billion out there that do invitations). They have a lot of cool designs that borrow from the traditional but have a modern feel. I can't imagine we'd use this company, but there's some interesting ideas there.

10 months, 1 week, and counting...Liz doesn't even have one of those big wedding to-do binders. Despite there being so much time, Liz and I are such procrastinators that 10 months could quickly become 1 month and that is something we need to avoid.

EDIT: Yes, it turns out it is still early for Save-The-Date...but much like how we tell ourselves we need to leave at 7 when we really need to leave at 8 so we're not late, it's for the best that we act like it's needed right away.


Liz Phair and meteors and sleepy drives, Oh My!

So last night Liz and I had one of those unplanned experiences that reminds you why you're getting into this crazy thing called marriage to begin with.

It all began on Wednesday when Liz told me that rock chick extraordinaire, Liz Phair, was going to be playing three sold out shows at the Troubador in Hollywood. My Liz has always been a fan of that Liz for as long as she's known her. I remember when we first drove to Los Angeles on that soul-revealing trip in May, 1999 that a new Liz Phair album had just been released so we bought it at some random Wal-Mart outside of Houston. (That was also the first day we noticed the slow leak in one of my tires, something we had fixed 800 miles later at another Wal-Mart in Roswell, New Mexico, but that's another story for another day.) Anyway, all three shows this week were acoustic, which meant it would be more of the classic Liz Phair and less of the poppy, recent side of herself.

So my Liz got up the next day and went to work at the Hospital thinking no more of it, and I scoured Craig's List looking for tickets. I couldn't find any, so I did what usually NEVER works. I posted an add looking for tickets at face value. (Which, being a small show was only twenty bucks). Later that day I check my email and see my ad has been answered and we would be going that night. I text a message to Liz at work sharing the news.

A bit later in the day, I'm reading news online and see a piece about the annual Perseid meteor shower. Now it runs from late July through mid August every year, but there's one specific time where it peaks. This year it just happened to be last night...or early this morning--1:18AM here in the west coast. The trouble with that is that in Hermosa if the light pollution isn't bad enough, there's almost always a guarantee of fog every single night. I kept the meteor shower in the back of my mind until later.

When Liz got home after her long day at the hospital, she was first a little grumpy that she would need to go to the gym quickly so we could meet the guy who had our tickets. With a little grumbling she kept her gym commitment and a smile came to her face by the time we left for West Hollywood.

After six years in this town, I was shocked to realize I've never been to the Troubador. It's a very old school little music venue, and it was perfect for the fun, intimate show. I could tell that Liz loved ever song and we left after the encore a bit after 11PM. After such a good show, we didn't want to go home...but what to do?

I suggested we go watch meteors--something not easily done from the heart of Los Angeles, but with two hours til peak time, we would be able to get out of the city. We debated between driving east to the desert or north to "canyon country." While the desert would have been much darker, it would also have been a much longer drive, something I'd later be glad we didn't choose. And with that we began the trek to no specific destination up to Canyon Country--a strange hilly area between the San Fernando valley and the fringe of the high desert in Palmdale. After about 75 miles, and an excursion into a town with no bathrooms and finally a Denny's filled with strung out teenagers, we finally exited onto a dark stretch of road. We found a safe spot, opened the convertible top, and looked up.

It wasn't quite the "shower " the articles promised, but that's because across the horizon there was still a lot of city glow from Los Angeles, Palmdale, and Santa Clarita. (Some say you can see as many as 240 meteors/hour at the peak if away from all light pollution.) But it was by no means a disappointment. We saw fast ones, slow ones, dim ones, and bright ones.

Liz devised a scale to explain the brightness of each meteor: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,bright I thought I saw one that was much brighter than a meteor she labeled a 7 and decided to add "super bright" at the end of the scale. Liz, however, will tell you that my scale is not official and that there is no super bright. (trust me, there is.) After nearly an hour it was starting to get cold, so we put the top back up and headed home. Somewhere between Northridge and LAX I started to become very tired, but we made it home safely.

So with all the hectic schedules and busy lifestyles, we can still sometimes find that random and totally fulfilling experience that helps us understand why we're happy with each other and that everything is exactly as it should be. (this is the part where you go...awwwwwwwwwww)



I am not an organized person. This may be the understatement of the year, haha. My life is a whirlwind—a sort of organized chaos. I have pretty much always been this way. As a kid, my room was always a wreck. I needed help to clean it usually, and it never stayed clean for long. When I was left to my own devices to clean, I would hide the mess. In the toybox when I was really young. Under the bed or in the closet when I got older. Now as an adult, I don’t hide the mess, I put it in piles around the house. Piles of clean clothes, piles of dirty clothes. Piles of paid bills, piles of unpaid bills. Piles of unopened mail. Piles of schoolbooks, piles of unread magazines. Anyway, I think you get the point. I’m just not one of those “a place for everything and everything in its place” kind of a girl.

As a bride-to-be, you pretty much have to plan it all. So the planning got off to a great start. We asked (most of) our attendants to be in the wedding. Found a reception site, booked the church. Debated about the times for the ceremony and reception, but we worked that out. And that’s pretty much all we’ve done.

But, there’s a lot more to plan. Vows, rings, save-the-date cards, invitations, honeymoon, attire, music, flowers, dinner, photography, cake, favors, transportation, registry. And probably at least 3,782 other things that wouldn’t occur to me in a million years. I have no idea where to start. I mean seriously, I can’t even plan to get my laundry done.

Whenever I think of a wedding planner, I picture Martin Short as “Franz” in Father of the Bride. My Dad is pretty much a saint, but I don’t think he would be able to deal with some little freak telling him what to do. So no professionals. I guess I’m going to have to develop some sort of organizational skills. Maybe I need one of those books, an organizer that tells you exactly what you need to do and when it needs to be done. One thing is for sure—I need to do something to get my act together, or the wedding is going to be disastrous.


Do people really fall for this?

For some reason, used iPods sell for more than most people would think, so I've been trying to pawn my old one off to someone on craigslist, so I can get a new color model for only a few dollars more. Here is a back and forth with a fine "woman" named Linda Park that responded to the ad:

On 8/2/05, Linda Scott wrote:
Hello Seller,
I saw your ads which was listed here. please I want to know if this item is
still available for sale cos I want to buy it as a birthday present to
someone special in my life, Thanks.
Linda Scott.
Seemed innocent enough, so I replied...

james beirne wrote:
Yes, it's still available.

Then there was this response

Linda Scott to me
3:36 am (22 minutes ago)
thanks for the reply. I am not dispose right now and I will be appreciate we conclude this ASAP. About the payment i will be making payment through US money order which will be handled by BidPay.So as to proceed withthe payment i will be needing your payment information so that i can contact BidPay to issue the money order to you.for your item(Apple ipod (40 gig) with camera link)i will be offering$280 in addition about the shipping i will be handling that with my personal fedex accoount so you dont have pay a dime for the shipping upon the receive of the payment i will be sending the shipping slips as soon has the payment has been approved. i await your reply asap.
Get back to me immediately you are back from Fedex drop off.
Linda Scott.

There it was. Dead give away scammer. Thing number one: almost everyone on craigslist is local, it's extremely rare to have a legitimate buyer want something shipped. Thing number two: BidPay offers no seller protection, so it's a favorite for scam artists. Thing number three: they like to offer a little bit extra for your trouble so that you take the offer right away. Linda here only offered me five extra bucks. I had this reply from a "different person" last week:

lize wilson to me
thanks for your quick response, i know this a great product and am purchasing this item for a friend, which I will offer for $350 if my offer is accepted, we can end the auction and proceed, which i will make an immediately payment, kindly send me your contact address, so i can send the payment immediately Bidpay which is a fast and secure. Note I want this item to be ship upon payment made/payment notification from Bidpay.

I always get intouch with some buyers/friend outside the states. Meanwhile, am paying for the shipping cost, which I had contact my fedex Courier company concerning the shipment, the shipment will be charge through my fedex account, so you will not be charge for any bill.

If you still have any other item, kindly let me know we can still work things out after this first transaction done.
Waiting for your quick response.

At least Lize tried to sweeten the pot with an extra $75! Ah, Linda...scammer AND cheap! Lize should have put a little more research into the item, since a new ipod with more features and a larger hard drive than what I was selling would have probably cost the same or possibly less than what she offered me plus the FedEx charge. I want to sell it for as much as I can get, but people can't be THAAAT dumb. Anyway, I ignored Lize last week, but I thought my new friend Linda needed a final response...

james beirne to Linda
3:54 am (4 minutes ago)

Seeing that I'm not a moron, I do not let people I don't know dictate
the terms by which I sell something.

BidPay offers no protection and is used by scammers and practically no
one else. If you are a legitimate person trying to buy this iPod,
which I seriously doubt, then you will send me payment by way of

Somehow I don't think you will do that.

You scammers really need to come up with something new. The whole pay
extra-bidpay-fedex thing....it's really kind of old. Not that the
horrible grammar and form letter wasn't a giveaway the first time I saw
it, but by the eighth message, it starts to just make you look like a moron.

Are there really people that still fall for this bullshit? I guess
there must be if an unoriginal half-witted crook like yourself is
still trying to pull this crap.

Enjoy the criminal life. Nickle and dime yourself fast enough up the
ladder, and one day you will be the Godfather.

Good luck with that.
I don't think I'll be hearing from good ole Linda again. But if I do, I'll be sure to share. And now that I think about it, when there are people willing to pay $275 for a year-old iPod, I guess I can buy that there are idiots falling this tom foolery.

AUGUST 5TH EDIT: Well, it turns out that I found a buyer. I sold the iPod (which I got for free from that free iPods website) to a very nice woman from Hollywood. She drove all the way down to Hermosa to pick it up last night and was super excited to own her first iPod. If only she could do research, she'd probably realize that it'd be better to spend a little more to buy a brand new one. But, had she been research savvy, I wouldn't be the proud owner of a new color iPod that I purchased from the Apple store that opened in Manhattan Beach last week for a bit more than what I sold the old one for. (Yes, I was one of the dorky people that went to the opening day to get a free t-shirt. But, because I'm a thoughtful dork, I went through the line twice to get one for liz. After I scored two free Atari Pong shirts at E3 in May, this marks the second collective geek wear acquisition that I've made for us.)

And another thing...after rereading this, I've realize this original entry goes on for way too long. It's not really THAT interesting. What can I say, this is still new to us and it's a learning process. For those of you that have made it to this point, I applaud you. For anyone else that skipped to the end, rest assured, it won't always be like this.


Settled on a wedding time!

It now officially begins at 2:30PM on June 24, 2006. After much debate we confirmed that we will be having our wedding ceremony in the afternoon rather than early evening. We're only doing this thing once and Liz has always looked forward to getting pictures at the Lighthouse in scituate on her wedding day. No need to pack the day so tightly where that can't happen. Of course now we need to figure out how to achieve the fine balance between everyone being bored for a couple hours before the reception and everyone showing up trashed on the party bus that's going to run back and forth between the Red Lion and the hotel.

We have some time to figure that out...what's it say at the bottom of the sidebar? 330 something days? PLENTY of time! (How much longer before I don't feel comfortable saying that anymore?)

EDIT: Just looked. I was wrong. It's 320 something. Still saying PLENTY of time though...for now!


Have a case of the Mondays?

On Monday each of us learned fabulous news...

Liz discovered that she needs double the practical hours she had previously thought she needed to graduate. She's been really on top of her requirements but the school constantly screws her and changes the rules so it kinda blows. It's going to make the next few months a little tight schedule-wise, but with school, things always seem to work out in the end for Liz, so I think she'll still be done in December as planned.

I went in to have what seemed like a couple routine cavities taken care of. Turns out I now need two root canals...neither of which was visible from the x-ray, so I currently have two teeth with exposed roots covered by a practically pointless temporary filling. The dentist told me this temp filling was no harder than chalk so I needed to chew on one side. I asked him why they couldn't have temp fillings that were like real fillings and he had no answer for me. Apparently my roots are curved--thanks for those genes mom and dad!--so I have to go twice to an endodontist (once per tooth) and then follow it all up with my dentist to get crowns. I'm not a big fan of dentists and I've never had a root canal, so I'm somewhat nervous. Plus, my teeth didn't hurt before I went to my dentist today and now the entire right side of my face is in pain. I get to wait in pain until Thursday to begin Operation: Root. Yay, me! I guess this is better than getting some horrible infection at some date in the future when it got worse. Maybe this was all being timed so that it was going to become infected come June of next year, so my premature discomfort now is probably more than worth it. Courtney and Kevin are visiting Saturday and we were planning a big sushi dinner at Blowfish. I guess I'll be drinking lots of saki to numb the pain.


The End of the Earth

Did you know that in California when you have an old beat up car fail the smog test, the state will buy it from you for $1,000? Neither did I. But when Brendan's jeep failed the smog test after an endless cycle of repair visits, he somehow discovered this little known piece of information. Brendan, who will be in the wedding party next year, asked me to pick from the state sanctioned drop-off site.

Located wholy within the city limits of Los Angeles, the approach to Pick Your Part was how I would imagine life would be like driving around a post-apocolyptic world. From the freeway, deep within the sweltering 100 degree mid-day sun of the San Fernando valley, I turned onto what seemed no different than the thousand other blue color mixed-ethnicity psuedo suburban areas of the city. But then with two left turns, I entered another world. There were trucks everywhere--every single one kicking up dirt to form a massive dust cloud. I pulled over and quickly raised the convertible top to avoid being overtaken by the yellow gritty air. If you've ever seen the movie, Traffic, you may remember what the scenes set in Mexico looked like. This was no different.

On one side of the road was a cement plant, on another was a massive landfill. Just past the landfill was--well, I don't know what it was, but there was a gigantic pile of dirt, lots of rusting equipment and more dump trucks than I could count. I almost drove past Pick Your Part, as it's walled in like a fortress, but I found my way in and saw a very exausted, but excited Brendan standing in the sweltering heat outside of a small office in a trailer. I was late. Maybe an hour late. But it didn't matter because his check still wasn't ready. He ran up to me and the first thing he said was, "This place is innnnnnnnsaaaaane." I parked the car.

This was the place cars went to die. And not just a few cars...it felt like the cemetary for every car in Southern California. All you could see were cars with the back drop of hazy mountains in the distance. There was nothing else--anywhere. Brendan said it felt like Tatooine and I agreed. I was half expecting a Jawa to peek it's head out from behind a smashed up BMW and try to sell me something.

As we waited a bit longer for Brendan's check, a neverending line of towtrucks brought in car after car after car. Some were practically destroyed while others the others that seemed perfectly fine on the outside likely didn't have what you would call a grade-a engine. I began to wonder what happens when they run out of space. I didn't see any cars leaving, but there was a huge crushing machine. But where did all that metal go? Some mysteries in this world will never be fully understood by mere mortals like myself. Eventually, Brendan got his check and we did the best we could to get back to the civilization we know on the other side of the hills--where there's ocean breezes, the temperature rarely goes above 85, and there aren't places like Pick Your Part.

Oh, and Brendan's check had the company's logo that you see below. If someone could explain to me what an octopus and the largest salvage yard on earth have in common, just go ahead and let me know.


first post--finally!!

Okay, I’m finally here posting something. James has been after me to write SOMETHING for this blog for ages, and I’ve avoided it. I don’t exactly know why. I guess I’ve just been busy with mundane things. “Today I sat in traffic for 2 hours on the way to school, sat through a boring class, and then sat in traffic for an hour and a half on the way home.” Somehow I just don’t think those kinds of details about my life are interesting to anyone else, haha. Well anyway, I’m finally posting something, as promised.

To satisfy the licensing requirements of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), as part of my master’s program at Cal State Northridge, I have to complete 400 supervised clinical hours, with at least 50 hours at 3 different sites. So consequently, I began an externship at Torrance Memorial three days ago. I’ve been a little freaked out about this experience since my first phone interview for the job, when I apparently impressed my supervisor so much, that she accepted me as an intern over the phone. Don’t ask me what the heck I said that was so brilliant, because well, I just don’t know. But anyway, once we worked out the nitty grittys of me working 4 days a week for 5-6 weeks as unpaid slave labor, we discussed the specifics—what I should wear, what I should bring, etc.. My supervisor, told me I should wear scrubs and a lab coat. She further explained how she used to wear her own clothes to work under her lab coat, but said that at the end of the day, she went home covered in “drool and fluids,” and would never want to wear her own clothes again. Uhm, can you say EW?! Cause that’s what I said the second I hung up the phone. And all I could wonder was “why is drool listed in a separate category as other fluids?”

So anyway, I went about the business of finishing my summer school class, and awaited my start date at the hospital. I went shopping for scrubs and a lab coat, and bought the cutest ones I could find. And although James made fun of me for buying so many (5) different colored scrub pants (pink, light blue, navy blue, purple, and black), I don’t care--fashion always matters to me, even in a hospital, haha.

So, my panic ensued. How could I walk around a hospital dressed in a lab coat? I thought only doctors wore lab coats. What if someone coded while I was treating them? Would I remember my CPR certification lessons? Would I catch MRSA? What if I recommended a patient for an oral diet, and it wasn’t really safe? A patient could aspirate. Develop aspiration pneumonia. Choke. Need to be put on a ventilator. Maybe even die. AAAAAAAAAH! It’s a helluva a lot of responsibility, and I found myself wondering if I am really cut out for medical speech language pathology.

Okay, so on my first day, I put on what I like to think of as my “doctor costume,” and went to Torrance Memorial. I felt a little bit like an imposter wandering around the halls of the hospital, hoping no one would ask me anything that I didn’t know the answer to. Okay, and as much as I kept telling myself that it wouldn’t be anything like Scrubs, it kind of is. There is a really mean, abrasive doctor that everyone seems to kiss up to even though they hate. There is a doctor who is veeeeeery sarcastic but still caring. Doctors and other professionals really don’t give nurses the respect they deserve. There is a creepy custodian guy who, when I met him on my third day, flat-out told me he was going to “give me a lot of trouble.” And I do have weird daydreams where I imagine patients and staff members acting in bizarre, comical ways.

I’m sure I will post about this job again when I have had more experience working there. Thankfully, now that I’ve started actually seeing patients at the hospital, I am not as scared. Medical speech language pathology is unlike anything I’ve ever done before, and so far, I’m liking the challenge and the change.


A blurry Hollywood Bowl

This was the best my cellphone could do at the Hollywood Bowl--one of the best venues anywhere for outdoor concerts. We saw Basement Jaxx, Royksopp, Bossacucanova, and Jason Bentley. ( I know, most of you probably haven't heard of any of them).


Liz is being eaten by a cow!

Yes, that is a cartoon cow eating Liz's head. We ended up on Saturday night at one of two diners in Los Angeles called Swingers. There's one in West Hollywood on the fringe of Beverly Hills and the one we went to is in Santa Monica. Oddly enough, the two Swingers don't share decor or the exact same menu. The Beverly Hills location is in an old hotel diner while the Santa Monica location is newer with a funky modern feel. The purple cows on the wall are a staple of the Santa Monica spot and this picture seemed too perfect to miss. We were at Swingers for a late night snack after going to the Basquiat opening party at MOCA. I know I ate a turkey patty melt and we ordered wine. I don't remember what Liz got to eat.

We're members of MOCA, and we had been to opening parties before and they're always busy, but when we arrived about an hour after the event started we were stunned by the line to get in. As we approached the entrance, we could hear the funky old school beats from Grandmaster Flash, the event's entertainment. There was a short line for people joining to become new members and another line that extended into the distance for members who had a printed invite. We had an invite and were instructed to join the long line. As we walked away, I overheard an overzealous self-important yahoo plead with the door guy that he was on Grandmaster Flash's guestlist. The doorguy replied, "Here at MOCA, we don't do guestlists." Telling someone there's no guestlist in LA is like telling an Eskimo there's no longer ice. With that amusing exchange in the back of my head we tracked down the end of the line. One block....two blocks...we passed art snobs for the show....three blocks...we passed beatboys and girls for the music....four blocks...it was an eclectic group and here we were four blocks from the door. It was creeping towards 9PM now and we were a good hour away from getting into this event that ended at 11.

When we got to the end we started chatting with a guy in front of us who had come alone and a couple in line behind us. (I forget their names, so lets call the single guy Loner and the couple Jack and Jane.) Loner commented about how he's never seen a MOCA opening this crowded. He was definitely a regular--there more for the art, but he seemed nice enough and didn't have the art snob aura. Jane suggested that maybe it was Grandmaster Flash drawing the crowd. Loner seemed astounded at the possibility but reluctantly agreed. Some time passed and we learned that Jack forgot to bring his invite. Liz told him that he would have to check in at the entrance and then come back to the line. I agreed. So as we sent Jack walking the four blocks back to the door, Liz whispered into my ear that she really hoped she didn't make him walk for nothing. Again, I agreed. About ten minutes later, Jane got a phone call and walked away. Loner, Liz, and I started to wonder what happened to Jack and Jill. It felt like the line was moving forward three steps every ten minutes so we decided that Liz would go check. (Liz has a special power about talking her way past long lines...more on that later.)

So I stood there with Loner and more time passed. Eventually my phone rang. It was Liz telling me to join her. I glanced to Loner and he was looking towards the back of the line. I should have felt guilty for not telling him, but I didn't. What if it turned out to be a bust? So I huff it back to the entrance and find Liz waiting with Jack and Jill in the short new member line. As it turned out, if you forgot your invite, you could get checked in here, and then walk directly into the event. The whole thing was a case of left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing. So I stuffed my invite into a pocket, bypassed the line of 700 people, and walked right in. And once again, Liz worked her magic to avoid a long line. She has a gift I say. She's made it happen everywhere from airport security, to nightclubs, to outdoor movies. If engaged people lined up hours early for wedding ceremonies, I'd feel confident with Liz on our team we could arrive at 2 and somehow arrange to be married at 2:15. (Despite her abilities, I'm glad it doesn't work that way)

As for the exhibit, it was great. We debated for hours whether we thought Basquiat was a genius or just a crazy drug addict. I'm leaning towards addict, but I'm not fully decided yet. The music was really fun too.

Next up on our LA summer art adventures is the return of King Tut to LACMA...more on that when it happens.


Crabs in Maryland

This past weekend I went home for the first time since Christmas. Obviously a lot of the conversation centered on the upcoming wedding--but hey, that's to be expected when your mother is having her first child married in under a year. A highlight of the trip was going to a restaurant called the Crab Shack Deck, in Kent Narrows, which is just east of Annapolis across the Bay Bridge. After mom's white-knuckled drive across the three-mile long bridge, we stumbled upon this popular spot located within a small marina before crossing the last bridge to Maryland's Eastern Shore. It was the type of place where crabs should be eaten--concrete floor, picnic tables, and paper coverings for easy shell clean up. It had been well over a year since I last had them, so when a dozen steaming large size crabs smothered in Old Bay were dumped on our table it was like heaven. They tasted like they were pulled out of the water mere hours earlier and they were cooked just right. The sky was blue and the sun was warm, it was a good time.

As is the case in the yin and yang of life, the next night we had crabs again, only now at an all-you-can eat event at an American Legion in Laurel, Maryland. The event was filled with a treasure trove of blue hairs and red necks but that's not to say it wasn't fun. The crabs, while not as good as what we had the night before, were never ending, and how many times in one's life do you have the opportunity to drink a cold brew poured from a beer branded crayon tub? ---Maybe we should use that serving method as a Maryland regional nod at the wedding reception. In the end it was still fun, although my sister and I bolted the second the lights dimmed and the country/western/rock/folk singer took the stage causing a crab-filled local to take the first spot on the dance floor.

This was the conversation overheard from an older woman and her daughter as I left the place with my sister.

Mom-"I think one of those frogs cut me"


Mom-"One of those frogs, it cut my finger"

Daughter-"We didn't eat frogs"

Mom-"You know, one of the shells, it cut me"

Daughter-"You mean crab shell"

Mom-"Frog, crab, same thing"

Daughter-"They're not the same, mom"

Mom-"They're both, you know, amphibians or something"

Daughter-"Crabs are crustaceans"

Mom-"Well they're the same to me, and it whatever it's called, it cut me"

Folks, I couldn't make this stuff up.


Test from liz



Just linked to a picture set from our engagement trip--how long ago was that now? :)

We'll update that section to include more pictures throughout this journey as we go.

There will also be a link to all information for guests--hotel, schedule, driving directions, local restaurants, etc. etc. etc.

Wow! Technology!

Just set up to post pictures and entries from my cellphone. Liz should do the same in the coming days. We'll start posting soon. Even if the design isn't complete.


A Picture Share!

Sending picture from cellphone test

Test from cellphone

Creating a wedding blog

It's been a process, but we're getting there. Hopefully I'll have this thing fully operational in the next few weeks. There's already been a lot happening. From the big hotel fiasco to trying to settle on the afternoon ceremony with a big break and lots of time for pictures or the early evening ceremony with little break and no time for pictures. Decisions, decisions, decisions.....and we're under a year away now!