The Forgotten Boyfriend

The other night, my husband and I were lying in bed, when he reminded me that he was not, actually, Boyfriend #3. After I thought for a minute, I realized that he was technically correct.  Somehow, I had completely blocked out the jerk who, for over a year I had called my boyfriend, until one day he took my heart and smashed it into a million pieces, set it on fire and then stomped on the ashes, just to make sure it was broken.

broken heart The Forgotten Boyfriend

Here’s how it all began… After N and I broke up, my BFF Erika and I went on a vacation.  We had just graduated from college, and before we joined the real world we wanted one last hurrah.  We were young, easily impressed, and ready to have some fun.

So we booked a cruise, packed our bikinis (and measuring cups), and we were off.  Of course, our first stop was the bar, where we met a super cute guy and his friend.  We started talking to them and they started buying us drinks (duh, we were adorable!)  (Allow me to digress for a moment about BFFs… everyone needs a friend who will ‘take one for the team’.  Erika TOTALLY did.  When said “cutie” and his friend wanted to hang out with us all week, she had no choice other than to put her game face on and attempt to make the best of it.  Thanks again girly!)

julia josh The Forgotten Boyfriend

:::Not my cutesst look:::

K (the super cutie) was too good to be true. He was sweet, he was successful, he was a gentleman, and he was totally in to me.  As life has taught me, (JULIA’S MATH: Anything in excess becomes a weakness.) The first red flag should have been the circumstances that sent those two guys on the cruise in the first place… The cruise had originally been booked as K’s HONEYMOON and when he couldn’t get a refund AFTER SHE CALLED OFF THE WEDDING WEEKS BEFORE, he decided to go anyway and take his friend. 

I was 22, and was not going to let things like a pesky ex finance’ stand in my way! He was perfect, and he was all mine! He lived in Florida, and I spent the next few months being whisked down to sunny, warm Florida from cold, snowy Chicago and treated like a princess.  (To be fair, it was way less expensive to treat me like a princess ten years ago than today. It was also way easier to impress me.) K even flew to St. Louis to treat my dad to a play-off Cardinals game when I wasn’t even in town!

snowy chicago The Forgotten Boyfriend

 

sunny florida The Forgotten Boyfriend

#UPGRADE

this is the first post, you can read the rest tomorrow!

My Knight In Shining Armor, or Boyfriend # 3

So, I married my third boyfriend. In real life, he is perfect.  However, on paper, Thomas was THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I WANTED. This makes life difficult interesting at times.  (Young couples: find a good therapist.  Trust me when I say that you will need one at some point. We LOVE ours.) At times, I wish our thought processes were more in line, but I when I stop to think about “Julia, Unchallenged” I sort of cringe.  I can be ruthlessly competitive (again, things to an extreme are NOT GOOD), and if I was in a marriage with someone as competitive as I am, we would have blood lust over simple things such as who did more chores (I cannot imagine the potential outcome of a Monopoly game). So, balance is good. I feel balance in most marriages is not about two extremes, but the heart wants what the heart wants, right?

Thomas is twelve and a half years older than I am. This is surprisingly less of a  big deal than you would think. As we both get older, the age difference becomes even less noticeable…

t graduation My Knight In Shining Armor, or Boyfriend # 3

Thomas, circa May 1985

 The only time my husband even remotely sounds like a “Chester” is when we discuss the events of 1985.  In May of 1985, Thomas graduated from high school… and in September, I started kindergarten.

julia 85 My Knight In Shining Armor, or Boyfriend # 3

Julia, circa 1985

 AGH! I know!  We can have entire conversations with cultural references that make no sense to the other one- for example; he will discover some terrible late 90’s show on cable and ask me if I remember it- um, no. I was at the bars from the late 90’s to early 2000’s, not watching TV because I WAS IN COLLEGE! Thank God for VH1’ s “I Love the 70’s and 80’s” because it provided context for many questionable references. (For both of us.  Thomas didn’t know much about He-Man, She-ra, or My Little Ponies.)

Lastly, Life Advice: In the end, marry someone who can make you laugh; marry someone that you want to make laugh, because nothing can stop a fight in its tracks faster than a silly, shared joke.  And, finally, marry someone that you would pick for the volleyball team, even if you wouldn’t pick them first.

 

t j laura wedding1 My Knight In Shining Armor, or Boyfriend # 3

Thomas & Julia, circa May 2011

 

Why Boyfriend #2 Was a FAIL

The next guy I dated (Boyfriend #2) wasn’t really very nice, it turned out. At the time, I thought he was wonderful… (My first boyfriend wasn’t all that great either…)

julia mike2 Why Boyfriend #2 Was a FAIL

You can tell how old this picture is because I am drinking beer. (Also I am blonde.)

To his credit, he was paying for school himself, and so was very careful about spending money a total cheap ass. While this could be considered a strength, anything taken to an extreme is a weakness, as I am TRYING to learn (and my husband keeps telling me). N was very particular about his appearance. Oddly particular, for a ‘straight’ guy (my girlfriends have decided that he is gay. Which is fine for everyone except his girlfriend). We attended Indiana University, which is in the beautiful, tiny town of Bloomington. (Oh yeah, he was a townie too.)

bloomington Why Boyfriend #2 Was a FAIL

Bloomington is a wonderful place to attend college; it is a terrible place to shop. N came to visit me in St. Louis over various breaks, and he always wanted to go shopping. One year, during Thanksgiving break, he decided he needed new jeans. So, we went shopping; we shopped and shopped. He could not find a pair of pants anywhere in the metro area that he liked. Some were too narrow, others too tapered. Some were too distressed and others not distressed enough. And on and on and on. When he came back to visit over Christmas, he still had not made any progress on the Jeans Situation, despite multiple attempts at the College Mall (can you guess how awesome that mall was?). And so, over Christmas, we set out again on the Quest For The Perfect Jeans. (To all mothers of teenage girls (and to my future self): I feel your pain. To my own mother, I deeply apologize for all of my Prima Donna Princessing about buying jeans.) Finally, in desperation, after an endless loop of Gap-Macy’s-Express Men-Banana Republic I demanded that he pick one. This had gone on MONTHS too long. He acquiesced and I was thrilled. We made our way up to the cash register. Halfway there, he stopped and started to second guess his choice, based on the price. Thankfully, we did leave the Gap that day, with all body parts and sanity accounted for.

jeans Why Boyfriend #2 Was a FAIL
My next boyfriend is now my husband.
A few years after N and I broke up, at a family dinner, my mother (who had had a few glasses of wine) revealed a small secret… The thought of years and years of family dinners with N made her want to crawl under the table and hide. He had never really relaxed around my family (we are a rather loud, intimidating bunch), and he was very, well, dull. Also, he was a Geology major and was very fond of discussing things like core samples, soil composition, and I honestly don’t remember what else because it was so damn boring!
We broke up shortly after college graduation, and I moved to Chicago… And we all know how that ended….

(part 2…)

The Girl Who Always Had A Boyfriend

Ah the single life. I am sure it was fun. I have no idea actually because I am that girl-who-always-had-a-boyfriend. I was on the phone with one of my oldest friends over the weekend, and she was reminiscing about all the great single times we had. Only she was the only one who was single. Sure, I was there, and sure I had a great time, but I was the Serial Girlfriend.

girlfriend The Girl Who Always Had A Boyfriend

Yes, it’s true. If a boy looked at me twice, he was my boyfriend. I have had exactly three boyfriends in my entire life and I married the third one. So, for me, the single life was trying as hard as I possibly could to not be single.
While I am a shining example of what good, responsible, moral Catholic girls are (HI MOM!!), I did have a bad habit of occasionally ‘testing’ other potential boyfriends to see if I still wanted the one I had. The good news for my boyfriend was that every time I did try someone else, I decided I liked my boyfriend better. Sometimes the only reason I liked my boyfriend better was that the ‘potential boyfriend’ wasn’t too interested in me as a girlfriend!.

boyfriend ecard The Girl Who Always Had A Boyfriend
My first boyfriend and I dated for six years. It was like we were married, only iwe were in high school and living with our respective parents. But , we did everything together. I went on vacation with his family, he came to Sunday Dinner every Sunday. At one point, he and his therapist (am not knocking therapy. I personally believe VERY STRONGLY in therapy, and trust me when I say that my therapist is just as important in my marriage as my husband) came up with a ‘questionnaire’ to be used after we had one of our many fights, complete with questions like “What do you love most about B? Remember that feeling when you start getting angry or upset.” Possibly good advice if you are married and have children and want to stay married, but I was seventeen, and a teenage girl who lived on drama. We ultimately dated for six drama filled years, all through high school and the first part of college.

julia alex1 The Girl Who Always Had A Boyfriend

In happier times…

We officially broke up over Christmas break our sophomore year.  On that same break (from school), I met N, AKA boyfriend #2.

(part 1…)

How My Father Foiled My Genius Plan (Phone Curfew Saga, Pt 3)

Back to the phone curfew. I had engineered my own work around: I could talk on the cordless phone! No light would shine like beacon on my dad’s nightstand! Genius! Unfortunately, there was a flaw in my plan. I am not a quiet person, in any aspect. Some of you reading this might think that I can control this character trait, and that I could train myself to be less vocal. You would be wrong, and I will refer all claims to the contrary to my husband.

phone system How My Father Foiled My Genius Plan (Phone Curfew Saga, Pt 3)
More conversations were ended prematurely by my father literally yanking the phone jack out of the wall. (Yes, the phone was ‘cordless’, but the base WAS connected to wall.)

The violence escalated, and eventually culminated when my father grabbed the phone away from me- while I was in midsentence, no less- and tossed it into the pool.

splash How My Father Foiled My Genius Plan (Phone Curfew Saga, Pt 3)
You. Don’t. Know. The. Horror. To make this feeling relatable (especially for my younger readers!), it felt like losing your cell phone. Take that feeling- that dry mouth, shaky stomach dread that hits you full force. .. and add Teenage Girl Angst. It was AWFUL. I thought the world was going to end. As long as I live, I will never ever forget watching that phone soar through the air before splashing into the pool.
The phone did dry out. I lovingly placed it in the oven on low heat and hoped for a miracle. A week after it was thrown into the pool, my miracle came true. The phone was never the same after that. It cut out, the battery life was shot, and sometimes it was hard to hear. None of that mattered to me. What mattered was that my drama could play out, and that I could fly mostly under the radar.

 

This is the third installment.  The first detailed our advanced communications when I was a teenager, and the second discussed my embarrassing phone curfew.

How I Got Over Myself and Still Looked Beautiful At My Wedding

 On the Wedding Diet From Hell, the only thing worse than the smells was my disposition.  I was a stressed out, overly emotional bride who was starving and smelled like dead feet.  I was miserable. 

gun bride How I Got Over Myself and Still Looked Beautiful At My Wedding

Ready To Take Hostages

Given my inability to self contain, everyone else around me was also stressed out and overly emotional. However, they were not hungry, and did not smell.  The pressure was building, and it wasn’t going to be pretty when the explosion finally happened.  Two weeks before the wedding- so if you are keeping track, that is six weeks of Diet Hell (DH). Six weeks of no Diet Coke, no wine, no salt.  Six weeks of re-warmed broccoli.  Six weeks of wanting to cry all the time, and actually crying at meal times.

 

crying girl How I Got Over Myself and Still Looked Beautiful At My Wedding

That’s lunch? AGAIN?

 

Finally, it all culminated and I was confronted, Intervention style by my beloved.  He first told me what would happen if I continued on with the DH: I probably would lose another pound or two.  And I would look lovely in my dress. However, I would also look lovely in my dress if the wedding was that day because he thought I was (am) beautiful.   I must stop the insanity! If I kept on, no one would tell me I was the Most Beautiful Bride Ever because I would be the only one at the church. The wedding would be called off.  This diet was making me bat shit crazy, and I was making him just as crazy. Which he didn’t like one bit.  My husband is very rational, level headed, and generally about five mental steps ahead of me…  He has very little experience with cray cray, and he wasn’t looking for any more. I had to stop. Immediately. 

 

diet coke How I Got Over Myself and Still Looked Beautiful At My Wedding

Sweet Nectar….

 

 He threatened to tie me down and force Diet Coke and potato chips down my throat as a next step.

potato chips How I Got Over Myself and Still Looked Beautiful At My Wedding

ummm….

Although the tying down Diet Coke potato chip thing sounded incredibly appealing, for once in my stubborn life, I listened. I stopped the Diet Hell. The wedding was wonderful, we ate and drank, and there wasn’t a stalk of broccoli in sight. Diet Coke (and delicious wine) flowed.  And, in the end the dress (so much drama) fit perfectly, and I was The Most Beautiful Bride Ever.

wedding dress corrected How I Got Over Myself and Still Looked Beautiful At My Wedding

 

 

The Wedding Dress Diet, or How To Make Your Office Hate You

I was in the dressing room at the bridal store, and my loosely fitting (when I ordered it) dress was now too tight.  I might have lost my mind.

After a few hours (possibly days), when my breathing returned to normal, I went into total disaster mode.  In my world, total disaster mode is all encompassing and ends up affecting everyone else just as much as me. As much as I try to keep things contained in my own world, it just doesn’t happen. Adjectives like subtly, quiet, and discretion are not things I am known for, and so my personal crisis becomes everyone’s personal crisis.

crisis The Wedding Dress Diet, or How To Make Your Office Hate You

I take everyone with me…

The bottom line was that I had ordered a beautiful, perfect dress and I had to wear it in eight weeks, when I-got-married-when-everyone-would-be-staring-at-me-and-I-would-have-the-pictures-forever-so I-Had-To-Look-Perfect.  I knew I had very limited time. The terrible trainers listened to my sob story, denied any accountability (shocker), and determined that drastic times called for drastic measures. They put me on a very strict diet.  Prisoners in second world countries ate better than I did. 

prisoner The Wedding Dress Diet, or How To Make Your Office Hate You

 Here is what was on the menu:

Egg whites

Chicken

Olive Oil

Barley

Broccoli

That’s it.  I was allowed seasonings if they were salt free. I was not even allowed Diet Coke.  You know how everyone who has quit Diet Coke says they don’t miss it? They are lying. Three weeks of no Diet Coke made me even more of a believer. That shit is God’s nectar. 

This diet was a nightmare. A Tim Burton full length unedited nightmare. 

tim burton The Wedding Dress Diet, or How To Make Your Office Hate You

My LIfe On The Diet

For starters, I have a rather delicate stomach, and three cups of broccoli a day did not do me any favors.  Nor anyone else within fifteen feet of me.  While on the topic of smells, do you know how badly re-warmed broccoli smells? Close your eyes and picture the cafeteria of your elementary school on broccoli casserole day (and try not to lose your lunch). Wait for it… yup, that’s the one. That raunchy smell that makes your palms sweat and your stomach flip a little bit.  I made the office smell like that twice a day. Everyone who I worked with hated me.

black sheep The Wedding Dress Diet, or How To Make Your Office Hate You

Wedding Dress Shopping, Or When I Lost My Mind

Every bride gets a little nutso before their big day. I was no exception. The driving force behind all the nuttiness is the dress.  All women do drastic things in the name of Looking Perfect In Their Dress, no matter how forcefully they proclaim that they were different because they were Sane and Rational on their wedding day.  They are lying.  

bride straight jacket Wedding Dress Shopping, Or When I Lost My Mind

Wedding dress shopping is the opposite of bikini shopping in that it is fun and makes you feel beautiful. Also, wedding dress shops understand the importance of good lighting.  As Cher taught us all in Clueless, mood lighting can make or break you.

cher Wedding Dress Shopping, Or When I Lost My Mind

You have taught me so many lessons, Cher.

When I ordered my dress, I was in between sizes.  In a rare flash of maturity, I opted for the bigger size, thinking it would be much easier to take a dress in rather than let one out.  Fast forward a few months, and I get the phone call- the dress has arrived! I rushed to the store; ripping my clothes off before I even got to the dressing room. I knew everything would be perfect; I had been watching my diet and I had been training with a fancy pants personal trainer. 

I stepped into my dress, had someone zip it up (no one can get into their wedding dress alone. It is simply not possible. On a related note, it was also not possible for me to use the bathroom alone, as is the case for most brides.) And then… the world stopped.  My. Dress. Was. TIGHT.  Too tight in fact. When I ordered it, a few months before, it was loose. The opposite of tight. I was eight weeks till W DAY, and I didn’t have a dress. As this truth sunk in, I began hyperventilating. I don’t remember much after that, but I am positive that crying, pleading, mashing of the teeth, and wild promises to God were all involved. 

too small wedding dress Wedding Dress Shopping, Or When I Lost My Mind

This might or might not be me…

The worst, and possibly most insulting part of it all, was that I was paying a lot of money (something that I did not have a lot of at the time. Still don’t, come to think about it.) to a fancy pants personal trainer to lose weight and tone up before the wedding.  AND TO LOOK PERFECT IN MY DRESS.  Yes, you did read that correctly.  I was being supervised by a ritzy personal trainer and the results they promised were most definitely not the results I was seeing.  I am still bitter six years later. In fact, I still actively plan revenge on these people that involves multiple billboard messages about their terrible services. What can I say, I  do have a flair for the dramatic..

When I Tried to Detox/ Cleanse, or The Worst Idea I Have Ever Had

Now, I have a finicky stomach.  Sometimes (all the time), certain foods can make me bloated and rather, um, musical.  Thomas was (and still is) aware of this, so when I came home armed with stomach and colon detox pills, he not only turned white, he was rendered momentarily mute. When he was able to speak again, he wanted to be on the record as saying, “This Is The Worst Idea You Have Ever Had”. Whatever, I was a bride on a mission. 

crazy bride When I Tried to Detox/ Cleanse, or The Worst Idea I Have Ever Had

 He perked up when he realized that he would be working for the next week and a half, so he would spared the detox and everything that came with it.  Sadly for him, it was a two week detox.  We had a trip planned to my parents, who live out of state. So, the last several days of the cleanse we would be in a small, confined space for multiple hours at a time because we were going on a road trip. I never experienced the full effect of the cleanse because I was forbidden from finishing it.  Thomas threatened to wear a gas mask. At that point, I realized that it just wasn’t worth the embarrassment; if he was wearing the gas mask, clearly he wasn’t the source…

dog car When I Tried to Detox/ Cleanse, or The Worst Idea I Have Ever Had

This is how Thomas would have had to ride…

 While it feels good to point out why such diets are stupid, the truth is that weight and dieting are very personal, and very emotional issues. As the mother of a daughter, I feel I have a responsibility to model responsible choices. OK, preachy, adult moment over. (Hey, I heard that sigh of relief!)  That being said, I have had my own ups and downs with different diets. The diets that failed were not so much my fault as a direct result of family and friends intervening. Some worked, and one almost caused my husband to call off our wedding…

 emma july 20121 When I Tried to Detox/ Cleanse, or The Worst Idea I Have Ever Had