49–Now 50!– Years and Counting: Anniversary Wisdom

Today my wonderful parents celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Fifty years together! Choosing your partner again, every day, choosing love through all the highs and lows life brings, requires a level of commitment, patience, and understanding that seems rare these days.

In honor of their anniversary, I’m re-posting some advice they offered on marriage this time last year, when Steve and I were getting ready to take the plunge. Enjoy, and Happy 50th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Forty-Something First Time Bride

mom&dadwedding My parents on their wedding day

My parents Garry and Margaret met around 50 years ago when my dad was teaching high school in Texas and my mom was a flight attendant for Continental Airlines based in Dallas. In their early twenties when they married, they moved to Georgia within a few years so my father could teach and pursue a graduate degree. My mom worked hard at caring for my older brother and me at home and later returned to school to become a teacher herself.

Now both retired and enjoying grand-parenthood, their church, and the arts of quilting (mom) and beekeeping (dad), they just celebrated their 49th anniversary.  I asked them what their secret was to keeping it together. My dad deferred to my mom (hmm…), who, with his input, shared the following remarks and insights. -FsFTB

A few words from Margaret

Yesterday Garry and I celebrated our…

View original post 688 more words

catalyst: for change

catalystread2

I am thrilled to introduce my readers to catalyst wedding magazine, the wedding magazine “for wedding space disrupters,” and to share that my essay, “Making a Together Home,” appears in volume two of this beautiful publication!

I love, love, love the impetus behind catalyst. The editors recognized that there was a certain sameness to wedding magazines: the brides featured in the style shoots were invariably young, thin, white, and heterosexual, and most of the articles seemed to presume a lavish budget and slavish devotion to trend as well as tradition. As a bride who failed to fit into a number of these categories—starting with “young”—I often found myself somewhere between amused and horrified at the wedding industry vision of the “ideal bride.” The real-life brides I knew, and celebrations I’d attended, were quirky, authentic, and lovely. The “real wedding” sections of some bridal magazines do feature unconventional couples and approaches, but where were the gorgeous styled photo-shoots featuring older brides and plus-size brides? Or wedding planning advice from and for same-sex couples, or stories of ceremonies that blended faith and cultural traditions? Where were the perspectives of couples who embraced love and marriage but eschewed the conventions and pressures of the wedding-industrial complex?

Enter catalyst, which editor Liz Susong has described as “a wedding magazine that value[s] diverse representation, challenge[s] gender roles, and [is] tireless in advocating for equality.” From the perspective of applied feminism, catalyst explores what “it mean(s) to choose marriage and plan a wedding in this moment in time–in this political and historical context.”

Clearly, the magazine struck a chord: since its debut last year, it’s received national media attention and has been picked up for distribution by Barnes and Noble. Check out this list of the Barnes and Noble bookstores around the country where you can find catalyst. One of them, I’m glad to report, is right here in my home of Roanoke!

It was exciting to find the magazine on the shelf and especially fun to peruse my essay—a humorous chronicle of the challenges encountered when two middle-aged people with full lives and fuller homes blend households—at the local Barnes and Noble in Valley View Mall.

Bonus: Barnes and Noble is also currently stocking the spring issue of bridebook, which features a brief story about our big day, along with those of a number of other area celebrations, in its substantial real wedding stories section.

When I first visited the bridal magazine aisle looking for inspiration shortly after Steve and I got engaged, I felt overwhelmed and under-represented. It matters, seeing faces, bodies, lives that look like yours, reflecting back at you from the pages and pixels of the media. I’m so glad and grateful catalyst is leading the charge, and I’m honored to have my work be a part of the change.


If you see a copy of catalyst in your local Barnes and Noble, snap a pic with it and share it below, and/or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram @catalystwedco @40firstimebride.

Wedding Crawl, Revisited

Last weekend, RoanokeWeddingNetwork.com held their annual Wedding Crawl. Each year five downtown venues, working with local wedding professionals, pull out all the stops to create mock weddings in each space, featuring ceremony and/or reception set-ups complete with food, flowers, photographers and photo booths, music, lighting, and models dressed as brides, grooms, and wedding party. It’s rare opportunity to see the spaces fully decked out and filled with people, as they would be during an actual celebration. And it always benefits a good cause: this year, the Roanoke Valley SPCA.

Hubby Steve and I decided to revisit the Crawl this year. We’d attended the 2015 Crawl as then-prospective bride and groom and had so much fun: dancing in the Corinthian Ballroom, tasting cake at the Taubman. I even caught the bouquet in a prize-giveaway toss at Center in the Square. Even though we already had most of our vendors sewn up by then, the Crawl gave us a chance to see examples of their fully realized visions, which made us look forward to their creations for our own wedding day all the more.

This time was not about looking forward, but looking back. At our first stop, Charter Hall, Steve and I picked up the most recent copy of bridebook, which features our wedding story. At the Taubman, our next venue, we lingered in the ethereal ceremony space (created by Lighting Ninja and Gloriosa) as an RSO harpist began to play. Steve smiled and took my hand: it was Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” the music I’d walked in to at our ceremony.

At the Patrick Henry Hotel Ballroom, our photographer Noah Magnifico had some of our photos in his display, and we admired the lush elegance of the bouquets and centerpieces crafted by Mark Frye of Creative Occasions, who’d done such a beautiful job with our flowers.

We saved the Center in Square Rooftop, where we got married, for last. It was hopping. Creative Entertainment had fashioned a Vegas theme, complete with game tables, a bride who doubled as a mobile hors d’oeuvres table, showgirls, and Elvis. We picked up information on honeymoon travel–we still hope to take a romantic trip somewhere tropical–from Rose of the Winds Travels, and said hello to my stylist, the awesome Brandy Moorman of Bliss Studio. After tasting brunch menu samplings from Chanticleer Catering and delicious mini-cupcakes from For the Lsove of Sweets, we headed outside.

The view from the roof, as always, was breathtaking. It was sunny, if a little windy, with the clear, bright blue skies I’d hoped for on our big day. We attempted a selfie in the same spot on the upper deck where Noah had taken our wedding pictures, but we couldn’t stop squinting—maybe those dramatic rolling clouds had been a blessing in disguise? We walked down the staircase to the spot where we’d said our “I do’s.” We held hands and shared a happy kiss. Operation Newlywed Nostalgia was complete.

We missed the last featured venue, the White Room at Blue 5, where we’d been told a real wedding would take place as part of the crawl. Sadly, that meant we also missed the opportunity to taste delectations from our favorite baker, Evie’s Wildflour Wedding Cakes. Coconut cupcakes with dark chocolate ganache… mmmmm.

The Wedding Crawl felt different this year, minus the anticipation of our own nuptials and all the excitement (and anxiety!) that comes with waiting and wondering. But we were more than satisfied. It was a lovely day filled with beautiful sights and bountiful treats, and we’d already celebrated the real wedding that mattered most: ours.

My amazing vendors!

With two of our wonderful vendors, Noah Magnifico and Mark Frye, and our -bridebook- feature!

Nothing else, a lack of chocolate ganache notwithstanding, will ever compare.

Snow Day Like Today

“Work is good. No one seriously doubts this truth…. But work is not the only good thing in the world; it is not a fetish to be adored; neither is it to be judged, like a sum in addition, by its outward and immediate results. The god of labor does not abide exclusively in the rolling-mill, the law courts, or the corn field. He has a twin sister whose name is leisure, and in her society he lingers now and then to the lasting gain of both.”

–Agnes Repplier, “Leisure”

Snowy park laneIt probably goes without saying that we folk in Southwest Virginia are snowed in. The white stuff rolled in early yesterday morning, a good inch already on the ground when Steve and I got up around eight. Friday’s classes had been called off for both of us by late Thursday afternoon, so we could enjoy a leisurely morning, lingering over a shared breakfast, sipping our respective cups of tea and coffee, watching the white flakes outside pile higher and higher while we remained snug inside, cats and dog cuddled close, the day stretching out before us. What to do with this unexpected gift of unscheduled time?

Both of us soon agreed—admitted to?—our morning plans: catching up on emails and work.

♥ ♥ ♥

One of the benefits of being an academic: when an epic blizzard comes through, you usually get (unlike, say, nurses, or police officers, or those who work for the power company) a snow day. One of the drawbacks: like your students, you perpetually have homework. There’s always something you could be doing–planning for upcoming classes, reading up on research, grading papers. A “day off” is a relative concept, as are “free” evenings and weekends (not to mention those famously “free” summers). You have to choose to be “free.” You have to claim your time, decide you will, on this day, for this hour, prioritize family or fun, love or leisure.

As a rule, I’d say we’re pretty bad at it. Continue reading

Ripples and Reflections

Wading in Great Salt Lake

brine shrimp lay eggsIMG_5995

that lie dormant through drought

ten years suspended—

a few drops of water,

and they hatch

without a hitch

­

no wonder they dance

in whole body jazz hands

sometimes the wait

is worth the miracle

~~~

Travel to a conference in Utah this week re-set my posting schedule along with my alarm clock. Faced with a decision between staying in and writing or seizing a new adventure, well: sometimes it’s necessary to stop and breathe the brine. My visit to this natural wonder was only too brief, maybe half an hour. But for those minutes of walking an ethereal landscape, my sense of being so baldly exposed and sized to scale left me feeling both insignificant and strangely empowered. I am small, but I am seen.

For those spending the weekend in Southwest Virginia parts, I want to give a shout out to the OneLove Wedding Expo set for today, Sunday, November 8th, at the Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center. Readers might recall my April post on the Weddings for Equality Vendor Showcase. The OneLove Expo is organized by the same great folks, and it promises to be a fun day and an excellent resource to find gay-friendly wedding vendors.

marina 2For love’s arrival, for its acceptance: so glad, for so many of us, that the wait is finally over.

Catch and Hold

If wishes were fishes…

Prior to our wedding, a number of recent brides, mothers-of, and members of the bridal business told us how grateful they were (and we would be) for beautiful pictures of the day to look back on. The day goes by so quickly, they all said, and no bride or groom can be everywhere at once; photos stop time and offer a window into those “elsewhere” moments. They were right, of course. But I never expected the day to be such an intense and surreal experience I would need photos to remind me of moments I actively participated in.

Sharing a signature cocktail

Sharing a signature cocktail

Strong drink was not the issue. Our signature cocktail threw a punch, but I had only one. (For those who wondered if my enthusiastic dancing was a sign I’d imbibed too freely—nope, that’s just what happens when you set me on a dance floor and play my favorite songs.) The only things I was high on were adrenaline and love. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes, 2: Near-Mishaps & Almost-Mayhem (or, the Rest of the Story)


NJM 2800 medb.phpThe best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley…

–“To a Mouse,” Robert Burns

The morning of our wedding started out well enough: I woke up early and had time to put the finishing touches on our “S” decorations before my parents stirred. I made eggs and Canadian bacon for family breakfast. I took a relaxing shower to prepare for my hair and makeup appointments.

Then I gave myself a second degree burn.

Cuppa Ouch

Bridesmaid Sherry was joining me and my mom for hair and makeup. After she arrived, we gathered purses and key supplies: the lipstick I’d purchased for the wedding, my birdcage veil. As we headed out the door, I decided to take a cup of tea, since the sniffles I’d had the day before had morphed into a scratchy throat and were threatening full-on cold status. Back in the kitchen I filled a tall ceramic cup with water, placed it in the microwave, pressed the buttons and waited. Continue reading