100th Post!!!

Wow, it's the 100th post! "...And there was much rejoicing. Yay."

Okay, buckle up, cowboy. It's gonna be a long rant.

Part 1: SNAFU

While shopping for clothing, it is customary, particularly for women, who tend towards more tailored looks, to try on the articles you intend to purchase. The more expensive it is, the more likely a person is to want to try on the clothing, just to make sure it fits. All kinds of things can affect the way clothing looks on a person - the weight and texture of the fabric, the cut of the garment, etc. - so a dress that looks great on the model and great on the rack might NOT look so great on you. Even experienced shoppers can't always tell if something is going to look great on them or terrible - it's why we try stuff on.

Now, to "sample" gowns. Bridal and bridesmaids dresses are frequently only available for actual manhandling in stores as "samples". The idea is, you go in, try on a sample dress in a set size, decide if you like it, and then order the dress in your size, based on your measurements and the designer's sizing chart. When I bought my wedding dress, I tried it on in the only size they had, a size 12. To get an idea of how it will really look on me, the sales lady pinned back all the extra fabric with heavy-duty Home Depot clips. Standing there with clips all down my back, I looked more like a stegosaurus than a bride. However, the image was convincing enough, and my parents plunked down over $2K for the same dress in a size 4. In a Whataburger-style approach to fashion, the dress will be ordered and then made for me at the couture house in Barcelona, and finally shipped to the US. I won't actually see what the dress looks like on me in MY size until about a month before the wedding. It's a very strange way to do things.

Now, sample sizes are usually anywhere from a size 8 to a size 12. This means there is one dress, and ONLY one dress available in that particular style for a person to try on, and it is in whatever the manufacturer deems as the "sample size". Note that this is not the largest size available in the dress. (Because that would make sense.) What if you are one of the many women in America who can't fit a size 8, 10, or 12? No amount of Home Depot clipping will help you determine how a dress will look on you if you can't even get the thing over your boobs. Are you supposed to just hold the hanger up to you and hope it looks great? We ran into this dilemma while shopping for a bridesmaid dress for my aunt, a very attractive woman who is more of a Marilyn Monroe than a Kate Moss. We found lots of dresses we thought would look great, but she couldn't try on any of them. At this point, young sales ladies would say "Oh, don't worry, I can tell how this dress will look on you..." What?!? Does she have a crystal ball behind the counter or something? Every woman has had the experience of grabbing a dress off the rack, sure it will look fabulous on her, only to find out in the fitting room that it's a train wreck - the fabric bunches, the cut's unflattering, and it just doesn't "fall" right. If we as women, knowing our flaws and our best features, knowing the styles and fabrics we look great in and the stuff we just can't wear, if WE can't tell reliably how a dress will look on us without trying it on, how on earth does some cheeky sales lady think she can tell?? It's completely ridiculous.

Instead of offering "sample sizes" in what the manufacturer must think is the "average" woman (and clearly there's no consensus on this, even in the fashion world, since sample sizes are different from one designer to the next), sample dresses should be offered in the largest size available for that style. That way, everyone who could potentially buy the dress can try it on,
pin it back if they need to, and make an informed decision. By offering a sample dress in the middle of their size range, they are effectively excluding women who would've ordered it in, say, a 14, if they could've seen in on. It's just a poor business model that encourages women who don't fit the sample to buy dresses elsewhere, from different designers. For example, after 2 days of fighting with sample sizes, my aunt and I went to David's Bridal, where they have all their gowns in a range of sizes, and found a beautiful bridesmaids dress that we know looks great on her (because she tried it on!).

Part 2: It's the Principle of the Thing

Weddings are a business. They're actually one of the best kinds of business because they:
- are a "once-in-a-lifetime" expense (in theory)
- have women as their target market. News flash - money may make the world go 'round, but it's women that are spending it.
- are an emotional expense. I actually read an advertisement in a wedding magazine that said "He promised to treat her like a queen - until then, she's still your little princess."
- are a purposeful display of wealth and status, both traditionally and currently.

This might be why weddings are so outrageously expensive. The cost for an American wedding has gone up an average of 35% per year every year since 2000. This is clearly an example of charging as much as the market will bear - and that seems to be a lot! I'm all for capitalism, but at some point, it becomes exploitation. People shrug off ludicrous prices because "that's just what weddings cost". My question is, WHY? Why should I pay $3 a slice to have someone cut and serve a cake that I already bought from them? Why do wedding cakes START at $500? Why do snacky appetizers and hors d'oeurves cost $18 per person WITHOUT drinks? Why do brides have to pay a fee to rent the facilities at a bed and breakfast when they'd be able to use all that stuff for free if they were regular B&B customers? It's like as soon as someone says "wedding", vendors tack on 50% to all their numbers! There is just NO REASON for stuff to cost that much, and there is also NO REASON that brides should have to engage in guerrilla warfare to have a wedding that costs less than 4 years at university. Really, $500 for CAKE?!? It's shameful.

Part 3: Progression

So, enough ranting. I've been so busy I haven't had time to blog, and I keep forgetting what people know and don't know yet. Geez, just read my mind, okay? It'd make all this a lot easier!

For the wedding, we now have:
my dress (see previous post)
bridesmaids dresses
a venue
a date
a time (that was a tough one, actually)
a theme (who knew you needed one of those? It's a wedding. Aren't they "wedding-themed"?)

Well, we sort of have invitations. That's a long story, and if you receive one, you'll instantly know why. I can confidently say they are totally unique.
The theme is "fall/autumn", since that's the time of year we're getting married, and it lends itself to a lot of pretty options. Plus, now I don't have to pick out specific colors.
We've found lots of cake ideas we like, but we'll need to do tastings and stuff to get that taken care of. Then there's flowers and decorations, the DJ, the officiant, final decisions on food, and ordering the alcohol. And deciding on gifts for the attendants, figuring out what to do about favors (we want to make a donation to the Humane Society, my parents want us to pick a charity that they prefer...it's kind of a mess) and squaring away the men's attire. I'm sure there's more stuff to do, but I can't think of any of it now. So anyways, we've made some major progress, but we've still got a LONG way to go.


No Pain, No Gain.

Well, it worked! Last night, we ordered my dream dress! It's a Pronovias gown, and the style is called "Ebano". I'd post a link here, but I think it might be too tempting for a certain someone who shouldn't be looking at such things. If you're interested, you can Google "Pronovias Ebano" and find it fairly easily. If you shouldn't be looking at this dress, then don't do that.

It was suprisingly easy to convince my parents to drop over $2K on an article of clothing I will only wear once. It really is MY wedding dress, seemingly created for me, personally, to wear. I put it on, and they were both like, "You're right, that's the dress." Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

Of course, now that I've spent an obscene amount of money on the dress (but after all, it IS all about the dress, isn't it?), I need to find ways to cut costs elsewhere. This shouldn't be too hard, because I really have very few requirements for my wedding. They are:

That Max is there.
That I'm wearing my perfect dress.
That it is not in a church.
That German beer be abundant.

Yep, that's pretty much it. I don't really care about the food, the music, the flowers, the decorations, the cake, or anything like that. Obviously, I want those things to be there, but I don't have a particular "vision" for how it all needs to be. I'm not one of those brides that has to have everything "just so". And, despite the awesomeness of my designer gown, I want the ceremony/reception to be very informal and relaxed. In fact, I don't really want a ceremony as much as I want a party that I get married at. I think I should call it a "receptemony"!

But then, there's the pictures. Here's the trouble. I want to spend money on getting my hair and makeup professionally done. My reason for this is that those pictures will be around for the rest of my life, and probably long after. I've been to funerals where they showed the person's wedding pictures from 50 years ago! I want to be totally happy with them, because that's really the most lasting part of a wedding - at least, it's the most lasting thing you spend money on.

Also, I don't need 8 million wedding pictures. I do not need videography. I do not plan to wallpaper my house with photos of my wedding. I want a dozen or so awesome pictures, maybe for like a photo album or something, and that's really it. But you would be AMAZED at how hard it is to find pricing for a photography package that DOESN'T include a mountain of pictures and an epic wedding DVD.

-------Break for sleeping---------

Okay, I wrote all that stuff yesterday. I didn't finish it because of the other thing I did yesterday, which was getting my teeth whitened! I did the ZOOM! in-office tooth whitening thing, and it was pretty weird. The good thing is that my teeth really are a lot whiter now! The bad thing was that I spent most of yesterday in excruciating pain. Having your teeth whitened HURTS. A lot. I knew I was in trouble when I sat down in the dentist's chair and they gave me 4 ibuprofen to take immediately. I glanced down at my size 2 figure and said "Do you really think I'll need all of this?" And the dental hygenist said "Yes. Trust me." Thus began my saga.

To do in-office tooth whitening takes about 2 hours. Don't believe those websites that say it only takes 1 hour. The actual bleaching only takes 1 hour. But before they get to that, they polish your teeth, like they do at the end of a regular dental checkup. Then, they put SPF 30 lip gloss on you. Then, they put this large, uncomfortable plastic brace in your mouth to keep your lips and cheeks out of the way of your teeth. Then, they medically drape your mouth, like for surgery, covering everything around your mouth from your chin to the tip of your nose in a guaze sheet. Then, the shove rolls of cotton under your tongue, which is being held back away from your teeth by that plastic brace. That's the easy part of the prep work.

Once all that is done, they use a syringe to carefully cover your gums in this liquid rubber stuff. This has to be done in stages. They put the gel on part of your gums, then they make sure it's covering your gums but not your teeth, and then they use a light to harden it. Once the goo is set, they do another part of your gums. This takes a while. Of course, the whole time, I was drooling like a hungry dog, so suctioning was frequent. In case this every comes up for you, everything they use in this procedure tastes absolutely nasty.

Once your gums have been protected, they put the bleaching gel on your teeth. It's hydrogen peroxide based and smells very chemical-y. Then they give you these rockin' orange-tinted science goggles, put you directly under a strangely shaped sunlamp for your teeth, turn off the lights, and leave for 15 minutes. Then they come back, suction off the old whitening gel, apply more whitening gel, and repeat the process.

Your teeth "tan" for 3 15-minute increments. Sometimes during this process, you feel sharp, shooting pains. I was informed these are normal, but I could feel free to call for help (How? I was so rigged up, at best I might've been able to manage an inarticulate, zombie-like moan!) and we could stop at any time. I toughed it out (though it was rough going there at the very end), and they cleaned me up and sent me on my way. At first, I just felt shooting pains that passed quickly. About 3 hours after I left the dentist's office, however, I was taking 4 more ibuprofen with great skepticism re: their effectiveness. The shooting pains became constant pains which I started to classify as a sharp ache, with occasional crecendos. Fortunately, today I'm fine!



Well, I replaced my car. As much as I miss my Honda, I have to admit that it's replacement - a BMW (!) - is much more fun to drive! I got a 1988 BMW 325is. It's red. It's a freakin' rocket. I was going to post a picture of it, but...

Well, when I plug my camera into the computer, usually the little program pops up that lets me transfer pictures onto my computer. But this time, it didn't pop up! I don't know where that program is or how to access it when it doesn't just come up on its own...

I think what I'm saying here is that I'm technologically retarded.

But, back to the car. It's an awful lot of fun. Max has been really enjoying fixing it up for me. Of course, it ran when we bought it, but it runs so much better now... he really is an excellent mechanic. Cheap, too!

Honestly, I was looking for another Honda, and I tried this car out on a lark. I would've never considered buying a bimmer, but now I don't think I'll ever consider owning anything else. Yes, it's pretentious, it's a yuppie car, the parts are expensive, yadda, yadda, yadda. But it's the German engineering! This car runs so well. It sounds so good. It's almost 20 years old, and it still wants to be driven. It's not limping along, like you'd expect a car it's age to do. It just doesn't wear out. With a bit of preventative maintenence, these cars will run they way they're supposed to, forever. I am totally impressed. I also like that the car is sporty, but not spartan. It's fast, but not finicky like some high-performance cars can be. It's comfortable, but it's not a land yacht. And it gets about 27 mpg, which isn't too shabby.

But enough of me gushing about my car. For my birthday, Max took me to Rockfish and I ate a pound and a half of crab legs by myself! It was soooooo good! I also got Pokemon Diamond (in keeping with the engagment theme) and Hotel Dusk: Room 215 for the DS. Since my parents were yachting in the British Virgin Islands over my birthday (the nerve!), we're going to do a Jess & Dad birthday combo celebration sometime soon, in fact, I think it's this weekend (?).

I've been working on wedding stuff, finding a dress and a venue, but it's been all uphill. I found the perfect dress, but it's $2000 and has to be imported from Spain. Oops. I really, really love it, though. I think my mother will not be best pleased.

I should really be working on my thesis, but I've been so busy with the wedding and the car thing, I really haven't had the time. Once I get the venue and date nailed down, I should be able to get back to it, though. I really need to push the IRB thing through this month.

I watched Ellie the other day for my sister, and she was great! Her speech is really coming along well. I mean, obviously she's still speech delayed, but I can almost understand her now, and she's clearly using words to communicate, instead of just mimicking. So that's definately good. Potty training is ... not so good. Well, actually, it's the poopie part of potty training that's not progressing well. I'll spare you the disgusting details, but the kid dropped a load that was 3 days in the making while she was at my house. Charming. She's totally fascinated by my animals, though, which is awesome. She wasn't even afraid of the snakes! She loves the cats, the ferret, the snakes, the fish, everything. I really like to see that in a kid. She was gentle with everything and was absolutely not afraid of any of them.