On possibly-maybe building a house.

We don’t know anything about building a house. One day last summer, Kyle dragged me through a “model home” for a builder company that has homes popping up all over Chicagoland. “It’s just for fun,” he said. “Just to get ideas.”

And it was fun. And boy, oh boy, did it give me ideas.

The open floor plans. The stone fireplace. The shiplap “accent wall”. The fake-wood floor that looks like a real wood floor. “The can lighting is nice”, Kyle said. I didn’t even know what “can lighting” was until we started this adventure – but now I’ve realized that I can’t live in a house without it.

I know this because, after we sat down and started “building our house” with the builder rep last weekend, I asked her what the “alternative” was if we didn’t do can lighting. Because apparently can lighting – much like pull handles and stair railings and granite counter tops – would be “extra”. “You’ll have a switch with an outlet,” she said. “So you could just plug a lamp into it. And it would be on the switch.”

I don’t know why I was expecting her to say “uh, different lights?” Instead our only other option is a lamp. On a switch. And I’m assuming they don’t give you the lamp as a housewarming present. So, the alternative to can lighting is no lighting.

“We’ll need can lights in every room.” I said. “Add that to the list.”

“The list” started filling up fast with things like – stainless steel appliances, “Group 2 cabinets” (because that’s where the white cabinets are), brushed nickel faucets, a 4-ft garage extension, the fake-wood vinyl floor that looks like real-wood-and-not-vinyl, the French doors for my office, plumbing for the basement, one of those blower/fan/exhaust things in the kitchen…? It’s supposed to help with smoke, I guess, when you’re cooking. I don’t know, that one was Kyle’s idea. Apparently he thinks I’m going to be doing a lot of cooking.

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On Writing A Novel.

“I want to write a book.”

This is one of those things that can be kind of scary to tell people. “You want to write a… book?” they’ll ask. “About what?” And then what am I supposed to say – “I don’t know”…? Because that’s the God’s-truth-honest-answer: I want to write a book, I just don’t know what it’s about. Yet.

“That can be your first line.” Kyle said. “‘I want to write a book, but I don’t know what it’s about.'” I’d been hesitant to tell him. (And when I say ‘hesitant’, I mean hesitant for about five minutes. It was too exciting NOT to tell him! I’m going to write a book! I think!) But what’s he going to say? I thought. What if he doesn’t believe me? Why WOULD he believe me? What aptitude have I shown that proves I’m capable of WRITING A BOOK?

“You should.” Kyle said. “I think you’d be good at it.”

I’d thought he was going to say, “Hah. Right.” or “Sure – what’s it going to be about? Shoes?” Or worse – the same thing one of my friends had told me years ago when I’d told her I wanted to write a book – “Oh come on, Jenn, you’re not smart enough to write a BOOK.” (True story.) But he didn’t say any of that – he, without hesitation, was SUPPORTIVE.

Which threw all of the excuses that I had lined up “I really think I could do it!” and “I’ll show you!” – well, it threw them right out the window. Because it turns out my fiancé is a supportive, kind human. (Which are two things that you really want in a fiancé.)

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FYI – Weddings Are Expensive.

According to The Knot’s most recent poll – on a list of “The 25 Most Expensive Places To Get Married In The US”, Chicago ranks number three. Number THREE. In the United States. Right under Manhattan, NY and Long Island. According to their research, the average wedding in Chicago costs over $60,000.

SIXTY thousand DOLLARS. I’ve never wanted to be one of those party-pooper kind of people who feel the need mention things like reality when planning a wedding – after all, it’s the most important day of your life! You can’t put a price tag on that, now can you?

Apparently you can. And that price tag reads $60,000.

“Maybe we should just get married at city hall.” I said (which is something I never thought I’d say. Getting married at city hall, in my mind, has always been reserved for really, really old people, or those people on 90 Day Fiancé who are trying to get a visa). “I mean, we’ll still be *married*.” I pointed out, as if by paying $60,000 for a big wedding means that you are somehow more “married” than by doing it at city hall. “We just don’t have to do all of the *stuff*.”

“The stuff” is what adds up. “The stuff” includes the flowers, the music, the food, the drinks, the rental fees, the chair covers, the silverware? Did you know that a lot of places will make you pay extra for silverware? It’s not included with the food. So you can spend $12,000 on chicken and steak and expect your guests to eat it County Fair Eating Contest style unless you dish out the extra cash for some utensils. But it’s your wedding day, right? You want it be “nice”.

“We’re not getting married at city hall,” Kyle said.

“Why not? “ I asked. “Carrie Bradshaw did it!”

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Vintage Fashion Debunked.

Is “debunked” the right word? I don’t know. I used to think that I looooved vintage fashion. The idea of a string of pearls sitting around in a jewelry box that’s been passed down since the Titanic? Maybe it belonged to Rose De… Dewitt? Google says “Dewitt-Bukater”, but I’m just going to call her Rose Dawson because we all know she should have scooted over and let Jack climb up on top of that door with her. He didn’t have to freeze to death. It’s not always all about you, Rose, people are dying.

But the pearls. Let’s get back to the pearls. Did she have pearls? Oh, wait – no, she had that gaudy necklace that she chucked it into the ocean at the end of the movie. Way to be a hero, Rose. People have been looking for that.

But when you say something is “vintage” – that’s what people imagine. That’s why they say “ooh… ahh…”, because they’re envisioning something that somebody wore back in the day. It’s a romantic idea that something has been around longer than, you know, a Forever 21 t-shirt that you ripped and threw away after one wash. It tells a story. It’s been around the block. It’s seen some stuff.

When I was in high school, one of the girls came to school one day wearing dangly paperclip earrings. Like, dangly earrings, made of paperclips. Tiny paperclips clasped together dangling from her ears. And when everyone said, “Oh! Those are… different!” – she told us that she found them in her grandmother’s jewelry box and that they were “vintage”.

Vintage paper clip earrings. From Grandma’s jewelry box. Like Grandma was a true fashion pioneer back in the 40s who just strung a bunch of paper clips together and then said, “Yea, I’m gonna keep these. Let me just put these in the jewelry box next to my pearls.” 


Did they even have paper clips back in the 40s? When did they start making paper clips? Were people even writing on paper back then, or was it all parchment and quill pens?

Okay, I guess it’s the 1940s, not the 1800s. You shouldn’t come here expecting a history lesson. We’re here to talk about clothes and stuff.

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Living with Intention.

Do you remember high school? I mean, really remember it.

I thought I’d grow up to be a model.

I’d forgotten about that until recently when I went back through and found the old diary I’d kept when I was 15. There’s a whole story in there about how I told my friend I wanted to be a model and she was like, “What’s your back up plan?” and I was like – “uh, RUDE” –then went off on a spiel about ambition and drive and told my super-rude friend that “If I didn’t believe I had a CHANCE to make my dreams come true, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning” – to which my dumb, mean friend said, “So you’re telling me that you wake up every morning and say to yourself ‘I’m going to be a model’…?”

No. No, I did not do that. I was ambitious and overly optimistic, but not clinically insane.

Her next question (according to my notes) was – “What are you doing to get there?” as in, what steps was I taking at that point in my life to make this whole ‘modeling dream’ happen. This should be the first question you ask yourself for any career path. If you genuinely want to do something, or “be” something in this case, you have to lay out a plan and take the necessary steps to get there.

I get that now – at 30 years old, but I did not get it at 15. Instead of coming up with a career plan at 15, I got all bent out of shape because my so-called-friend didn’t “believe in me”. How DARE she? I’m going to be a STAR!

I had no formal training. No experience. No portfolio. And when I’d asked my parents if they’d pay for modeling classes at Barbizon, they said – “Eh……..?” and changed the subject.

But still. I wanted to be a model! How DARE she ask me about my “plans”. Did she think I couldn’t get “discovered” at the mall like one of those girls on America’s Next Top Model? I thought we were FRIENDS!

So that’s who I was in high school: lots of ambition, a little bit of delusion. And a lot of frizzy hair.

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Wedding Planning.

About three months after you get engaged, something happens. The first two months are all about celebrations and “Congratulations!” and people telling you how happy they are for you. You’ve found your person. The one who’s agreed to smell your morning breath every day for the rest of your life and kiss you anyway (albeit, sometimes on the forehead. That’s okay.)

“There’s plenty of time to plan”, people will say. “There’s no rush. Just enjoy it!”

“Just enjoy it,” they say. Until the ‘newness’ wears off. Once your friends and family have already heard the story about ‘how he did it’ and ‘where he did it’ and “did you know? Were you surprised?” – the conversation gradually fades during the upcoming months into questions about dress shopping and guest counts and napkin colors.

Napkin colors. Did you know that it’s possible to have a ten minute conversation about napkin colors? I didn’t. Until it happened the other day when I was asked about “my vision” and “were these napkins going to work with that?”

I mean… they’re still napkins, right? If I spill something, these will be the things used to clean it up? Okay. Just checking.

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