That Damn Hill

When I hear the word newlyweds, I think of two blissfully naive youngsters kissing and holding each other in a cozy restaurant booth or that classic image of the man carrying the woman over the threshold. So when people call us newlyweds (while it is technically true), I always shake my head. We haven’t had the kind of newlywed year that most people have. Not that it was unhappy, no, it was blissfully happy, when it wasn’t terrifying and stressful. But that wasn’t our fault.

That was the fault of a dirt road on a steep hill.

I was walking from a make-shift parking lot on the set of the show I’m working on and the walk down to the set is a treacherous dirt road on a rocky hill. I remember I had an audition that had gone pretty well earlier that morning, I slipped and fell, my ankle buckling under me.  I had fractured my ankle, an innocuous injury it seemed. After a week of waiting for worker’s comp insurance to assign me an orthopedist (another blog post entirely), my calf became swollen and sore, and me not being a person who calls a doctor about ANYTHING, I figured it was the boot irritating my leg or something. Luckily, my husband is the opposite of me and when the doctor called about a follow up visit and I tried to cancel it, my husband insisted that we go.

I should mention here that I broke my right ankle and was unable to drive thus I had to go wherever he would take me. And I’m glad because when the doctor saw my calf, he immediately sent us to the ER, I had a blood clot, he was certain.

He was right — a blood clot had formed from the injured ankle to the knee and there were a few clots that made it to my lungs. I had made it to the hospital just in time apparently. The blood clot was due to the week of immobility, the trauma of the fracture, and birth control pills. Once they said I needed to be admitted to the hospital,  my husband and I went into practical mode, calling a friend to come get our dog, calling bosses and emailing people to cover meetings and shifts. He went home to get me clothes and toiletries and by the end of the first night, they found him a bed so that he could stay in the hospital with me.

So there we were, stuck in this room together, me, practically immobile and him trying not to yell at every nurse that passed by wondering where the doctor was and what was going on.  And it was like that for 4 days until (thank God) my mom came to relieve him.

I learned more in those four days about my husband than other newlyweds learn in the first two years. I learned what a strong person he is, how he handles stress (real stress) and how we respond together as a unit in times of crisis. I saw what breaks both of us and what I can do to prevent that in the future. I learned what I need to work on in our relationship and in life in general. But mostly, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would react if the situation was reversed. Would I be as forceful and proactive as my husband? It is not in my nature, so I know if I found myself in a hospital with my sick husband I would have to push outside my comfort zone and advocate for him the way that he did for me. And I find myself having to do that now in all my follow-up visits with doctors.

We also learned A LOT about how hospitals work. Mainly that there seems to be a lack of communication and that their answer to everything is painkillers. And while the latter may sound fun, it usually isn’t the answer you are looking for when you have been diagnosed with a blood clot and are suddenly feeling a tightness in your chest again.

Also, time does not exist in hospitals. Much like casinos, hospitals are constantly moving and people are in and out at all hours. I had many a nurse wake me up from a sound sleep at 3 a.m. to ask me questions that honestly, they could have read on my chart. Or to tell me things I already knew. And for some reason my twice daily blood drawing was scheduled for 4AM and 4 PM.  I am sure there are perfectly good reasons for all of this, but since no one in a hospital really tells you much of anything, I was never clued in to such things.

I always imagined the first time my husband and I would have to be in a hospital together would be the birth of a child or when we were very old, holding hands in our hospital beds ala “The Notebook”.  But what this first year of marriage has taught me the most about is throwing away all preconceived notions of what marriage and life is going to be like. I’ve learned you both have to be good at rolling with the punches because you never know what is going to come from simply walking down a dirt road.

All The Feelings

I’m writing this post-wedding and post honeymoon, so this won’t be as emotionally charged as it would have been say….the day after the wedding. When all the feelings happened.

First, let’s talk wedding weekend. It was amazing. A friend told me that she would have told everyone she knows to elope while she was planning her wedding, until she actually experienced the wedding weekend. I felt the exact same way. We had a blast! For a while before the wedding I started to second guess everything I planned, I thought I compromised things I shouldn’t have, I started to be afraid that I would regret this and that, your regular panic attack inducing thought spirals….but it was all amazing. Thanks to our designer, caterer, photographer, BAND (AMAZING), cake baker, coordinator, our friends, and our families. Notice I did not say anything about our shuttle service provider…’nuff said.

If you are planning a wedding right now and want to throw up your hands and run to Vegas, read this and know — it is worth it. As long as you let go of everything on the morning before your wedding. Everything is in motion by then and all you need to do is be the bride. All the planning and all the stressing, it is worth it.

There were hitches, of course (see above shuttle service comment), but for the most part, it was the exact wedding I planned.

Then the morning after happened. We had a lovely brunch at the hotel where we were all staying and as I said goodbye to some guests that afternoon it started to dawn on me…. this is over. The planning is over. The anticipation is over. All those reasons to get together with friends and family this past year…over.

I am very close with my friends, to the point that someone remarked that they were surprised my friends weren’t coming on my honeymoon. When you move away from home and live in a big city your friends become your family. And since moving to LA, I missed my second family. But having a wedding, bridal showers, and a bachelorette party gave so many reasons to see them. And planning the wedding in my hometown gave me extra reasons to see my real family.

Plus, I wasn’t a bride anymore, I would never be a bride again. I know it sounds bratty, but it’s fun to be the bride! A couple of friends are getting married next year and I found myself being jealous of them. Jealous of the whole journey they are about to take. The way I’m jealous of people that have just started watching “The Wire” for the first time. It’s exciting and scary and everyone walks away with their own take on it. When I told my husband (eep!) that, he was like “have you forgotten the last year?!”. I guess so, I guess it’s a little like a mother forgetting how childbirth feels once she’s holding her baby.

On top of all that, I was exhausted. I didn’t sleep for the last few days before the wedding from all the stress and excitement. I was this raw, tired, premenstrual (oh yeah) nerve.

But I was also beyond happy and relieved. We had pulled this thing off! And I had married this incredible person who I couldn’t imagine loving more yet find myself falling more and more in love. I am now someone’s wife.

I feel bad for the amount of crying I did on my first full day of marriage. But because my husband and I have been together for a while now, he got it. Thank God for the honeymoon where I didn’t cry at all (until we left because it was perfect and I didn’t want to come home).

And now we are married…. I have lots of feelings about that.

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“Me” Time , Part I

When I was a kid and my mom would hear me wake up from a nap, unless I cried, she would leave me alone for about 20 minutes. She said that I really needed that time to be awake and by myself. And that if I didn’t have that time, I would be cranky for the rest of the day.

When most people hear this anecdote, it doesn’t make sense because I’m a pretty social person. My best friend used to say it was like I was perpetually running for homecoming queen. But whenever I would call my mother from New York upset, grumpy or sad, she would, in her infinite wisdom, ask me when was the last time I was alone.

In New York, that isn’t a silly question because in New York, you are NEVER alone. You live with other people so you can afford to live there. You work with other people, you go to work with other people, you walk with other people, you are surrounded by other people. It is very hard to get some me time.

In Los Angeles, it is different. You are alone a lot more. In your car, there are a lot more jobs where you can work alone (editing, writing..etc.) and more people can afford to live alone. With my fiance’s travel schedule, I am alone more than I was in NYC and yet, it isn’t enough.

See it isn’t about “I’m alone, now it is me time”, it’s “I want me time NOW”. Sometimes “NOW” is not when you want it to be. Last night, I just wanted to zone out and binge on “Scandal” (I’m in the middle of the 2nd Season!!) but he came home from being away for a day and wanted to talk. It was sweet. And I have to say I felt guilty for wanting to punch him for not letting me zone out and forcing me to pay attention. I couldn’t yell at him or get mad. I turned off the TV and tried to make the conversation as short as possible (which is totally unlike me).

Then, as I was nodding and smiling about a podcast he listened to on the plane, I thought “Oh God, this is my life from now on”. Then I thought “I am a selfish person”. This last thought is the one that freaked me out the most. Yes, I know I have selfish tendencies, and I can also be self centered. But never has it revealed itself as much as it did in that moment. This gorgeous moment of him really wanting to connect and me being totally annoyed and thinking about how in the world Olivia Pope is gonna get out of this one!

It’s not as if he is always around. Or even that when he is around he is always demanding my attention. Which makes my reaction even worse!

Whenever I think of sacrifice in marriage, I think of the big stuff. Moving because of the others job, giving up something you love to better the life of your spouse, taking care of a sick spouse etc…
It never occurred to me that sacrifice is something that happens in small ways on a daily basis. Sacrifice is giving up something for the other person’s benefit, whether it is giving up your seat on the couch or having Chinese even thought you feel like Mexican.

As my exhausted fiance fell asleep last night, I had a terrible headache, and as I am wont to do late at night, I immediately began to think about all the horrible things it could be. My mind wandered to a conversation I had about the left brain vs. the right brain. And I just had to tell him.

And this bone tired man opened his eyes and started to have a conversation that eventually lulled me to sleep.

I am a monster.

Marriage, Mortality and a certain CBS sitcom

There are very few TV shows that my fiance and I must wait to watch together. Breaking Bad was one. Mad Men, House of Cards and….this final season of How I Met Your Mother.

I came to How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) late in the game. It is my fiance’s favorite show and he forced me to watch the first season that he had on DVD. And, as I predicted, I hated it. I hated what a wuss Ted was and how we knew RIGHT AWAY that Robin wasn’t the mother but we would waste 8 years on Ted’s love for her. I told my fiance that I’d given it a shot, but no thanks.

Then I went away for a month. One of my best friends and I drove cross country one summer. It was the greatest, most awesome trip I’ve ever gone on and one that was 10 years in the making. But somewhere around Amarillo, Texas, I started to miss my fiance…..so to feel closer to him, I started Season 2 of HIMYM …..and I was kind of curious what would happen to Lily and Marshall. By the season 8 premiere that fall, I was all caught up.

*Warning spoilers ahead*

With 4 episodes left in the series, last night’s episode turned the show on it’s ear. With certain well placed comments, glances and tears, it seems that we have met the mother only to have her taken from us….yea, she’s dying.

The episode has a middle aged Ted telling his middle aged wife about the day of Barney and Robin’s wedding. There were moments where the two got choked up and said things like “when moments are too heavy, you distract yourself with nothing”. And the wife urging Ted to not be the guy who lives in his stories “life moves forward”, she says with tears in her eyes.

By the end, I was a sobbing mess. Because she’s going to die. We have wanted Ted to find love for so long, he’s struggled and he found her and now she’s being taken away too soon.

And then I looked at my fiance. And I realized the thing that you know as a logical person but don’t really think about until you love someone so much….he is going to die. And so am I. (I know……this is not even close to a funny post about “first looks”).

And unless we die as I would like, together in our sleep at age 90….one of us will go before the other that though made me sob harder. What have I gotten myself into? I mean, we’ve been together 3 years and I know that  I would be destroyed…what will another 20 or 30 years of life with this man do to me?

Love is a tough thing. It is something that we all want and that we strive for, pray for and hope for, but ultimately, it causes the most pain somewhere along the line.

So why do we do it? Why do we seek love, find it and hitch ourselves to someone for 50 years only for the risk of them leaving or dying to be right there in the background, waiting in the shadows. Why not just keep everyone at arm’s length and live happy solitary lives?

I guess it is because the moments we have with the people we love are so much better because they are there; the highs are higher and the lows aren’t as low.

Don’t get me wrong. It ALL terrifies me. Loving someone so much that them being gone would ruin me. Depending on someone so much that their absence will leave a huge gaping hole in my heart and life. But the other side freaks me out too…never loving someone that much, never experiencing that and never having that person…being alone. It’s something that I struggled with every so often when I was single. Loving and losing or never loving at all? Back then it was such an abstract thought, simply an existential argument. But now there is a person attached to it, a face, hands, a heart, a smile, a laugh…and clearly I made a choice.

But even when it was a theoretical exercise…it wasn’t that hard of a choice for me. To quote Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias:

“I’d rather have 30 minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special”.

Personally, I’d rather have a lifetime of wonderful…but when you are a diabetic Julia Roberts and want a baby these are apparently your only options.