Yes, That IS My Nipple In Your Wedding Photo

Why, yes, that IS my nipple in your wedding photo!

Woman holding beautiful azure wedding flowers bouquets

This is not a phrase every girl dreams of saying one day. I however, am not like most girls. Wait, that implies I dreamed of saying it… that’s not true, but my nipple has made an appearance in some professional wedding photos. It might be on video somewhere too, who knows.

About 5 years ago, my best friend from college got married. I was so excited for her. She and her college sweetheart were perfect for each other – I even had a hand in shoving them together the first night they met. I like to think of myself as a smooth wing-woman and matchmaker but mostly I was tipsy and loud and physically cornered them together until it was palpably awkward. But it worked out, and a few years later they decided to tie the knot.

This was a decent sized affair and relatively formal, although not black-tie. And I was the Maid of Honor. But without the horrible dress or having to stand up next to them. Having experienced what it was like to be a bridesmaid and how quickly things could unravel, she’d wisely opted to avoid all the drama and just have me wear what I wanted, sit where I wanted and give a speech at the reception. No muss, no fuss.

And I will say this – it was a flawlessly executed wedding at a country club and the reception was a hell of a party. I’ve been to somewhere between 20 and 30 weddings in the last 7 or 8 years and this one stands out. And not just because of my nipple, but we’re getting to that.

Anyhow, I was seated with another friend from college and some of the bride’s friends from work and I’d say our table would be considered one of the single and rowdy variety. Post-wedding parties were being planned, champagne was being spilled, and dance moves were getting… interesting. I had purposely abstained from the cocktails to make sure my speech went smoothly, and once that was over I figured I could relax for the rest of the night.

And then… the announcement of death. The one I have come to loathe over the years – the bouquet toss. It used to just be an annoyance since I don’t really get into a lot of wedding traditions, but I get that some people are into it and I could usually be convinced to get out on the floor. But this particular experience has helped fuel my hatred for it, and is the reason I now refuse to get sucked into the clawing cluster of women to fight for an arrangement of flowers I didn’t even get to pick out.

I would have just sat this one out and gleefully watched all the drunk single girls fighting over the flowers like bargain shoppers on Black Friday, but as the Maid of Honor and the only woman from our table not on the dance floor, I was called out and begrudgingly made my way to the center of the room.

Now, I kid you not, one of the girls at my table was over 6 feet tall. The girl had some serious reach and we all knew she’d be able to pluck anything out of the sky before we even really knew what happened. So there we were, the seven of us lined up shoulder to shoulder with the Amazon in the middle, all eyes on us, every photographer poised to capture this moment in time forever. As I’m being jostled and trying to keep a smile on my face for the pictures, I realize that my vertically advanced table mate now has her arms stretched wide, essentially holding back the three women on either side of her. And in her champagne fueled attempt to jockey for position, she’s clutching at the rest of us. One of whom happens to be a 38DDD in a wrap dress.

Yup, in the midst of the flashbulbs and the bride and groom’s family and friends all looking on, I feel my dress being grabbed and ripped right off my boob. Nipple out. Full boob. Luckily I have pretty nice boobs, so I guess there are worse things, but STILL. I’m not even sure exactly how she managed it, but that was my cue. Like a lady, I re-situated my dress, tucked my boob back in and walked swiftly back to my seat for the champagne I’d left waiting for me. And wouldn’t you know it, she staggered back a couple minutes later, victorious and clutching her prize.

And that, dear friends, is why you will always find me conveniently in the bathroom or getting a drink whenever it’s time for the bouquet toss. I like to expose my nipples on my own terms.

Balancing “Me” With “We”

One of the things that no one tells you when you move in with your significant other is just how intertwined your lives become. I mean, I’m not stupid, I understood things were going to change. I’d have to adjust to sharing my space, I couldn’t starfish out on the bed anymore, we’d have to work out our morning routines, etc. And I have to say, it’s been 9 months or so and the biggest obstacle was getting him not to put wet towels in the hamper… I’m not a clean freak by ANY definition but I do have a weird thing about that mildew smell.

I don’t even really mean intertwined in the sense of being together all the time because I truly love just being with him, and we still have friends and hobbies that don’t overlap, which we enjoy.  And I don’t even mean intertwined in the sense that once he moved in, there was no hiding. No hiding what I really look like without makeup, no hiding my hairy stubble (shaving my legs and lady-bits everyday? FUCK THAT), no hiding that oh riiiiiight, I DID pluck those rogue hairs on my chin between dates and nope that’s not going to hold up on a daily basis, and definitely no hiding what it sounds like when the Indian food we had for dinner doesn’t agree with me. Seriously people – we live in an 800 square foot condo with one bathroom. Things got intimate real quick.

No, what I mean by intertwined is our emotional energies. I know that sounds so new age and full of bullshit, but it’s really true. One of the reasons Gil and I do so well as a couple is because we are alike in so many ways, and one of those similarities is that we’re incredibly emotionally driven creatures. I love that about him. I love that about me too. But when you have two emotionally driven people in a small space, you can’t escape whatever the other person is feeling, even if you wanted to. Even if nothing is being said. The energy in a room changes when someone new enters, and you absorb some of their energy whether you realize it or not.

So naturally, when one person is going through a stressful time at work, with their family, or with anything else, when you live with them and share your life with them, you are going through it too, by proxy. What I have realized, and what I wish someone had warned me about, is how much this affects me. See, for me, when it’s my own stress, I know what I need to do to take care of myself. I’m a talker – I need to talk it out, I need to write, I need to cry, whatever. Maybe I need to buy a new necklace or sign up for a photography class. But when it’s someone else’s “stuff” it’s not as natural to take those same steps to take care of ourselves. And that’s a mistake, as I have recently discovered.

I am realizing not to underestimate the impact that his emotional state can have on me. Like I said, what he goes through, WE go through. There are only 800 square feet in this place and we’re not little people physically or emotionally. Not only do I absorb his feelings and energy and vibe, I will do whatever I can to support him. That’s what you do in a healthy relationship, but it can be draining, and it’s just as important (if not more so) to take care of myself in those situations as it is when it’s my own personal stress.

So today I talked (to my mom – seriously the best mom in the world), I cried (the kind where you try not to but it just kind of leaks out everywhere until you just accept it and really let it go) and I’m now writing. All I need now is a new necklace.

Seriously, why is this not something they warn you about when you decide to live together?? I’m not sure which “they” I’m referring to, but it seems like a quick heads-up would be appropriate. I guess it’s like one of those “couples secrets” like where the best farmer’s markets are and which florists are open late on Valentine’s Day.

Creepy French Dolls

Most people have a bucket list I think, even if it isn’t something they physically write down and check off one by one. Rather, we all have things that we stumble into online or hear about or see in a movie and think “YES! That is something I need to do/see/experience before I die.” Seriously – who has not had that thought before? One of my bucket list items has always been to go to Paris, and IT’S FINALLY COMING TRUE! I just booked our flights to Paris for Christmas and Italy for New Year’s and I’m beyond excited. I’ve had a weird fascination with all things French since I made the incredibly practical decision to take French in high school instead of Spanish. It was more “romantic” (and totally useful for the job market in California). I left those 4 years of French without the ability to actually SPEAK French, but with a great love for a place I’d never even seen.

So we’re going! We’re really going! And there is a laundry list of things Gil and I each want to see. Mine include things like Moulin Rouge and the towns outside Paris that transform into Medieval winter wonderlands and have people dressed as Renaissance characters. Gil is all about the art and the food. The Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and a few good cafes and he’s set. We are currently negotiating on some of these items. I’m all for the art and the food, but I want to see some of these very specific attractions that I’ve been reading about for years, and Gil’s tolerance for touristy shit is WAY lower than mine. That’s a weird thing about becoming a “couple” – you really have to consider someone else’s feelings and you can’t do exactly what you want exactly when you want to all the time anymore. Soooo…. it’s basically like I have a certain supply of “couple credits” and I have to be very strategic about how I use them.

That brings me to my main point. You didn’t even realize there was one, but there is. After watching “Midnight in Paris” a few years back (fabulous movie by the way, if you don’t hate Woody Allen films you should definitely watch it) I added a new item to my bucket list. In the movie, a lot of the fantastical plot-line centers around Le Musée des Arts Forains, which as it turns out is an amazing private museum of old amusement park rides and other carnival-type attractions. It’s GORGEOUS. And romantic. And unique. And maybe just a teeny bit creepy. I made the mistake of letting Gil watch the video that was on the website. I think it’s really the music that makes it feel so dark, but the very lifelike, very creepy dolls that stare at the screen a few times throughout the brief clip aren’t helping my cause. Within 20 seconds he says, “Fuck that, no way. That is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen.” This from a man who has been to the darkest corners of the internet and seen unspeakable videos. But the creepy French dolls are what are going to give him nightmares.

Considering this is a private museum only open to the public ONE WEEK A YEAR, I think I might have to use most of my credits on this one and just make it happen. And hope I don’t scar this 6’3” lumberjack of a man for life. But seriously, is it really even that creepy??


Why Turning 30 is AWESOME

A lot of my friends are turning 30 this year. I hit the big 3-0 in February. And so far, it’s been pretty much the best year of my life. I’ve never been happier. And so, with that in mind, I decided to share my top 10 reasons why TURNING 30 IS AWESOME:

You get to throw yourself an extravagant party.

When I turned 30, I threw myself a kick-ass party. It was a masquerade ball complete with a DJ, bartender, custom drinks and a photo-booth. I’ve been wanting to do something like that since college. But in your 20’s, there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities to justify spending that much money to just celebrate YOU. Unless of course, you’re getting married. But when you turn 30, it’s perfectly acceptable to throw a huge soiree in your own honor, and get all the people you love in one room. Plus, hopefully by 30 you have more disposable income than you did in your early 20’s, when you were just scraping to get by and racking up credit card debt.

Or not.

You’re 30. At this point, you know what you like. And your feet hurt. We spent most of our 20’s on our feet and in heels and now THEY HURT DAMMIT! If you don’t want a big party or the idea of putting on pants to go to a bar sounds like too much work, no one is going to convince you otherwise. If you want to stay in and have cookie dough for dinner, you will. Or you might even wind up with a low-key surprise party at the park where you spent the majority of your childhood, with your closest friends and family showing up to BBQ and climb the monkey bars. That’s what happened to one of my best friends, and it was perfect.

You’ve figured out your personal style.

By 30, we have pretty much gotten a handle on our personal style. When I look back at some of my fashion choices in my early 20’s, I’m equally impressed and disgusted. Why did I think it was a good idea to wear a corset to a bar with my whole bra exposed??? I mean, kudos to my 23 year old self for having the balls to pull it off, but it was certainly more attention-seeking than personal expression. At this point, I know what flatters my body, I know what makeup looks best and I know how to rock a soft wave in my hair without spending 3 hours on it. At 30, I have the confidence to wear what makes me feel good, whether it’s a full face of makeup and a Jessica Rabbit dress, or flip flops and yoga pants. My personal style is about me, and less about the actual clothes.

You know who you are.

My 20’s were a decade of self-discovery, which is true for a lot of us. I went through break-ups, one-night stands, at least 6 different apartments, a cross country move, countless weddings, 4 different jobs and about 20 different hairstyles. There was a lot going on. I made some huge mistakes. And then I made some more. I found a therapist. And then another. That’s what our 20’s are for… making mistakes and trying new things and figuring out what “fits”.

You know who your friends are.

While you’re figuring out who you are, your friends are doing the same thing. And guess what? Who they really are might not turn out to be compatible with who you really are. And that’s ok. Relationships aren’t static – they are constantly evolving, and oftentimes we can evolve and grow with our friends. But sometimes we can’t. Hopefully by 30, we have distinguished who really enriches our lives and who creates friction. We learn to let go of those toxic friendships – not because they’re bad people, but because they just aren’t what we need in our lives.  This opens us up to new relationships and experiences, and with a little luck we’ll continue to meet interesting people and make new friends long after we’re 30.

You finally know how to cook.

Even if you CHOOSE not to, you can’t make it all the way to 30 without learning how to cook a few things. And by cook, I don’t mean microwave or hide the takeout containers really well. I mean really COOK. At this point, we all have at least one or two things we know how to make that we can bring to a dinner party or cook for a date without waiting in suspense to see if anyone chokes on it or spits it back into a napkin.

You know how to reach orgasm. 

Personally, I figured this one out early on, but I was shocked at the number of my girlfriends in college who had never experienced an orgasm. Some were virgins, some weren’t. And a shocking number (to me at least) had never masturbated, bought a vibrator or gotten overly friendly with their shower massager. I’m proud to say I helped a couple buy their very first vibrator. Because without getting into a feminist rant about sex and pleasure, let me just say, FEMALE ORGASMS ARE AWESOME. There should be more of them. And we should know what it takes to get there. And by 30, hopefully we do.

You’re not afraid to ask for what you want.

This ties in to understanding your own body and taking control of your own pleasure. Being able to communicate what you need to your partner – sexually and emotionally – is something that’s fucking necessary if you want a relationship not filled with resentment. But I also think it’s true in a much broader sense. By the time we’re exiting our 20’s, we’ve had enough life experiences that we’ve learned to say no or to speak up when something isn’t right. We’re less likely to care what other people think and hopefully a little less scared of hearing “no”, whether it’s for a raise, or a coffee date with the guy you see on the train every morning. Hey, at least you asked, right?

You finally appreciate red wine.

No one drank it in college because A. We couldn’t afford it, and B. Vodka was quicker and more effective. But now that we’re hitting up Trader Joe’s every other week and realize drinking vodka tonics all night at your best friend’s wedding is disastrous, red wine is something we can appreciate at 30. A glass of good red wine after a long day at work (or a long day with the kids) is more appealing than shots at the club. The only vomit you can justifiably have all over your sweater at this point is from that googly eyed little person who is attached to your nipple.

You don’t go out every weekend.

Ahhhhhhh. You hear that? It’s a sigh of relief that the wedding onslaught has finally slowed down. Don’t get me wrong, weddings are great and I love seeing my friends happy, but the second half of my 20’s were filled with more weekends devoted to weddings than I can count. And before that, my early 20’s were filled with bar hopping, clubs and bad decisions. Now is the time to take a weekend drive up the coast or binge watch Orange is the New Black all night and then meet your parents for brunch the next day. It’s glorrrrrriousssssssss.

But He Has So Much POTENTIAL!!

I wrote the following about 3 years ago. I am happy to report, I am now in a job and a relationship where I feel valued… but it wasn’t a straight line from A to B.

old house framedRun a quick mental list and count the times you have heard this from one of your girlfriends or thought it to yourself at the beginning of a relationship: “But he has so much potential.” Ugh. It’s like poison. Potential is the drug you start taking in a dead-end relationship to convince yourself that it’s going to get better someday or that change really is just around the corner. It’s what we use to convince ourselves that the one compliment, the one sweet gesture, or one small act of ambition can outweigh and overcome all of the rest. The “rest” being any number of things: complacency, laziness, disrespect, abuse, general under-appreciation, etc. Take your pick.

I’ve been there. I think at some point, we all have. It’s hard not to believe that you can’t finally be the one to help turn it all around; that even though things have been rocky (to say the least) that you mean enough to them to be the catalyst for change.

Now, I have been that girlfriend in the past. The potential-addict. I have. I went through a phase where I was a magnet for those relationships. I was like a very unsuccessful house flipper. I would find these houses with a decent exterior, respectable foundation, but a ton of red flags (think flooded basement or crack-house adjacent). I would ignore the red flags, certain that the positives outweighed the negatives. Then I would immerse myself into the project wholeheartedly, inevitably going over budget and past deadline, only to finally throw in the towel a year later, taking a huge loss. I finally reached a point after a string of these relationships when I realized I was the common denominator. So I took a step back from dating. I had to. When you essentially bankrupt yourself emotionally, it takes some time to rebuild a line of credit.

I realized something recently though. I’m still a potential-addict. Only now, I’m projecting it onto my company; more specifically, my management team at work. I thought I’d learned from my mistakes – I really did. It’s one of the things I pride myself on. I make some big mistakes, some really monumental ones, but it’s rare that I’ll make the same mistake twice. I like to mix it up. So imagine my surprise and disgust when I realized this trend is still pervasive in my life.

I should back up for a minute though. I was at my first job out of college for almost 4 years. I can tell you right now that it was about 2 ½ years too many. But I was green and naïve and the economy was tanking, so every day I would convince myself that tomorrow would be better, and that there was light at the end of the tunnel and that it would all be worth it. It was an “education”. And I could turn it into something great – that all the promises my boss made me when he hired me would eventually materialize. He was really sorry when the bonus check he owed me wasn’t paid out for 6 months. And that time he hurled the teapot across the warehouse and berated me in front of the entire office? Just a misunderstanding.

I eventually left. I mean up and left Los Angeles completely and demanded a paycheck for months while looking for a new job. Not surprisingly, this was not long after I finally got myself out of a fairly abusive relationship. I had reached my breaking point, and there was no more room in my life for empty promises. I swore I was never going to fall into that trap again. Ever. In a relationship, or in a job.

Now, I have held up on my promise to myself to stay out of those types of romantic relationships. If I’m really being honest, I’ve just stayed out of relationships completely since then, but that’s a conversation for another day. I was just focused on getting my life in order when I left LA. I needed to find a new job, a new place to live and a whole new direction in life. My career became the most important aspect of my universe at that point and after a brief stint in New York, I wound up in a sales job for an internet company in the Silicon Valley.

I’ve been there about a year, and things are starting to feel eerily familiar. Let’s examine the evidence. Do I feel under-appreciated and ignored? Check. Is my confidence being consistently undermined? Check. Am I catching them in blatant lies on more than one occasion? Check. Uh oh. This does not look good. To be honest, things didn’t look good about 9 months ago when the entire office was patently unhappy, being harpooned for things that weren’t our fault, left with no support or practical training, and trying to figure out where all those fat commission checks we were promised were hiding. On the bright side, no one has thrown a teapot at me in a while.

I should have known I was in trouble when my boss pulled me aside to tell me that he thought I was a poison to the office, and THAT was the reason people were unhappy. The best story he could come up with was that everyone had confided in him to specifically voice concern about my negativity. Bullshit. We were still small enough an office at that point for me to have pretty close friendships with most of the people I worked with. I was the person people were comfortable talking to about their problems – namely, our shitty management and crappy work culture. In fact, most of those people quit not long after that, and I know for a fact those so-called complaints my boss threatened me with were fabricated. But when you have a weak personality as a manager, and an office full of unhappy employees, who is the easiest scapegoat? Probably the biggest personality. And if you’re a man with crippling insecurities, who’s the most threatening to you? Perhaps it’s the loudmouth blonde who always says what’s on her mind. So the unhappiness of the office that resulted from complete mismanagement was pinned on me. Swell.

You must be wondering what any sane person would wonder at this point: Why the hell wouldn’t you just quit???  Well, I considered it. I really did. But I was still stuck in that same old trap, thinking it would get better if I could just tough it out. That if I cared enough, it would all work out.

The truth is, sometimes things DON’T work out.  Sometimes we aren’t enough to change it – the job, the man, the situation. Sometimes the only way to be the hero of our own story is to walk away. And I can tell you right now, walking away can be more terrifying than staying, even if staying means being miserable. Because just like everything else in life, misery is a condition we can get comfortable with. But once we recognize our patterns, we can change them. And that’s what I did.

About 2 months after I wrote this piece, I quit my job. One dreary Friday, I decided enough was enough. I had just bought my condo and although I was interviewing other places, hadn’t landed a formal offer yet. But once I recognized what I was doing and how I was allowing myself to be treated, I couldn’t stand to be a part of it for one more second. So I went home, ran the numbers, and figured out I had enough to cover my mortgage for 3 months. I walked in Monday morning happier than I’d been in months, and quit. I never looked back, and betting on myself was the best decision I could have made.

I’ve had other jobs since then, and other relationships. And you know what? I can recognize when I need to get out much more clearly now, before it gets toxic. I’m not saying change isn’t scary, or that we should all quit our jobs or relationships when things get tough. But when you realize you’re not getting what you deserve from someone and things are slipping into harmful territory, whether it’s with a significant other or a boss, take the leap of faith and walk away. Bet on yourself. Because in the end, your own potential is the only thing you have any control over at all.