Monday, August 31, 2009

Is it me?

Lately I feel like all of my old friends are getting on my nerves. I don't know if its me that's changed or them but we are definitely drifting apart. Do people just start all over once they grow up and make brand new friends?

I have a friend from intermediate school that refers to me as her best friend but I don't think she knows anything about me. I think we are just really good at keeping in touch and managed to keep up with e-mails and letters all throughout college and find ourselves still friends 20 years later. I have known her longer than anyone else but she definitely knows very little about me. I guess it's harmless to let her call me her best friend no matter how untrue it is. We don't have any of the same interests but she still lives in the town where I grew up so whenever I go to visit my family it is inevitable that we will spend an awkward night together. And at least once a year, she wants to spend a weekend with us which is just torture since her and her husband enjoy watching paint dry while sitting on the couch. My husband and I have decided to plan an entire itinerary for their next visit so that we don't want to poke our eyes out by the end of the weekend.

I also have a couple of girlfriends from college who were my dancing and workout buddies. We went to clubs on the weekends and worked out together and had a great time. For some reason I don't find either of them very interesting any more. I wish that we still went out dancing or worked out but it seems like all they want to do is sit around and drink. I don't think I'm more active than I used to be. I think that I just didn't realize that I never really spent time with them when we weren't being active. Sigh.

I wish I could put an personal ad in the newspaper to find fun, active people to hang out with but, knowing my luck, this would just lead to some creepy pervert thinking I was looking for a different kind of good time. I will just continue to try new activities in hopes that I make new friends. In the meantime, I will try to limit my exposure to the young and lazy friends that I have collected and plan ahead so that I can suggest some fun things to do when we're together. I know, I really do need to get some real problems.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Blog Inspiration

My husband and I just saw Julie and Julia with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. What a great movie. I'm sure Meryl Streep will get nominated for yet another Oscar for her very believable transformation into Julia Child. This is a movie about a woman who is lost and finds herself by blogging her way through Julia Child's first cookbook. About halfway through her journey Julie, the blogger, says that she started the blog because it gave her something to do that was just for her. Something that was outside of her job and her marriage that made her feel good and made her stick to something with a definitive deadline and set goals.

A little light bulb went off in my head at that point. That's why I started blogging. Because I have felt lost for a while now and have been trying to find/reinvent myself. I have kept a journal since I was 5 years old and always enjoyed my English and creative writing classes more than anything else. Writing has always been very cathartic for me and I had hoped that by feeling like I was a writer again, it would help me get my life back together. And in many ways it has done that but I am not getting as much out of it as I could.

My husband works with people all day long. When he gets home he needs to decompress. I can go days without having a conversation with someone face to face at work. When I get home I want to talk. I ramble on about what's happened during my day, about something I heard on the radio, about things that have pissed me off, about everything. I have a way of talking someones ear off with this hyperactive energy which can be overwhelming if you're not ready for it. I have tried to wait until my husband is home for at least 30 minutes before I unleash my nervous energy on him but I don't always last that long. Blogging is helping me to get a lot of things off my chest without having to direct them at any specific person. It gives me the human interaction that is missing from my daily life. And because my husband reads my blog, it allows us to have those conversations about whatever is one my mind at a time that is good for both of us.

So if I am getting so much out of blogging, why aren't I doing it every day? It's not for lack of things to talk about, believe me. It's definitely an extension of the problem that I have in every other hobby in my life: lack of drive to finish things. I start a lot of projects but often need a push to finish them. Sometimes it's because things are too hard, other times its because I'm lazy or too busy doing something else. I want to do so many things that it is overwhelming sometimes so I don't do anything. I'm not beating myself up about this because I have made some real progress in fixing this lately.

I joined a local scrapbooking group last month to push myself to finish the wedding scrapbook I started last fall and to catalog other mementos that I've kept in a more efficient way. Once a month I sit at a studio for 3 hours (other people stay longer but that's all I've got) and have no choice but to scrapbook the entire time I'm there. It's great because it gets me out of the house, gives me a chance to meet new people and feeds my creative side while making me feel like I'm working towards achieving a goal.

I started taking Zumba classes last month. Zumba is this crazy high energy Latin dance/aerobic combination class. I used to go out dancing at least a couple times a week but haven't met a group of friends here in Syracuse who enjoy dancing so I rarely get to dance any more. My husband isn't much of a dancer so it wouldn't be fair to drag him to different places. I haven't made any friends in Zumba yet but I love dancing for an hour and according to my heart rate monitor burn 600-900 calories in my weekly class. Plus, I cancelled my big gym membership. I just wasn't a fan of the atmosphere and found that I enjoyed working out on my own much more.

I also started taking karate again. I have been studying martial arts since 1995 but had stopped when I moved to Syracuse in 2005. I told myself for the past 4 years that I was too out of shape to go back but I am so happy I finally got off my butt and started training again. Karate gives me a release for all this nervous energy that I have and seriously, I just love punching things.

I am in the process of making a bookshelf for my husband. I needed a push from him to finish but I think it will be done in the next couple of days. Hopefully this will encourage me to use the thousands of dollars worth of power tools , wood and other supplies that I have collected in my garage over the years for project that haven't gotten off the ground.

There are so many other hobbies that I have started or used to participate in that I haven't done lately that I would love to get back into but I am proud of my baby steps, no matter how small. I was an overachiever throughout much of my life so it is difficult for me to feel like I'm being productive unless I'm juggling 100 different tasks at once. For now, I will try to blog after I feed Chale and Tiger every night because it gives me at least an hour of time to myself and I will continue to step out of my comfort zone in my constant journey to rediscover myself.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Running From My Family History

Most of my girl friends over the years have been thick. I met most of them through sports so while most of us needed to lose a few pounds we were all very athletic and pretty healthy. Over the years we have all let ourselves go gaining any where from 20-120 lbs. There are various excuses (some legitimate but most not) for our weight gain but the bottom line is that we aren't working as hard as we used to even though we don't want to admit it. At this point we are set in our ways and don't want to stop eating wings every Thursday night even though we're no longer running 20 miles a week. But we still expect to drop the weight that it took us years to gain in a matter of weeks with minimal effort.

Recently, three of my girlfriends figured it out and have been able to drop the weight due to major life events. Two to get ready for their weddings and one because the doctor wouldn't perform fertility treatments until she lost weight. I wish that I was as noble as them but my main motivation is completely shallow: I don't want to be the fat friend. I don't want to stick out in pictures. I want to wear the sexy clothes that I used to wear when we went out dancing and not the flaw-hiding conservative clothes I'm wearing now. I want people to tell me how good I look and ask if I've lost weight. I want to open my closet and fit everything in it. I want to look like a runner and not have people look at me like I don't belong when I line up for road races. I guess I don't want to stick out because I'm fat but I do want to be noticed for being fit.

I come from a long line of fat people. Almost everyone in my family becomes morbidly obese once they reach a certain age. They all have diabetes and high blood sugar and eventually die from weight-related illnesses. They are not active. Every event whether happy or sad is commemorated with a large table of deep fried food. You are insulted if you are too fat and equally insulted if you are too skinny. My mother was skinny her whole life and gained weight when my father became ill. All the comments from my family were still negative they just shifted from skinny comments to fat comments. She has started to lose the weight so of course the attempts at sabotage through mean comments have started again. Literally, the first thing out of a lot of my relatives mouth is "Wow you've gained weight" or "Damn your so skinny why don't you eat" and not the normal hello that most people would find appropriate. It's no wonder we all have weight and self esteem issues.

Me, my mom and two of my cousins are working to try and be the exception to the rule. We are trying to live long productive lives at healthy weights. When we go to family functions we have to learn to be strong enough to ignore their comments. We cannot let their negativity derail us because, realistically, that's what they want. They want us to be just like them. If we're all fat then it must be okay. I can't tell you how many times I've been told that "we" (black people or people from the south) are just naturally thicker. There is nothing natural about the 4000 calories that most of us take in at a family dinner or my 32 year old cousin being put on a 1200 calorie a day diet to keep her from developing type 2 diabetes.

While I have lost 15 pounds so far on my weight loss journey, I have been struggling for the past month. I have found myself slipping back into my old habits and giving myself permission to slack. I let myself get cocky because the 15 pounds came off in 10 weeks. But the fact that no additional weight has come off in the past 5 weeks and the fluctuation in the scale by 2-3 pounds on an off week is the wake up call that I need. I will have issues with food for the rest of my life. I will always need to be careful with what I eat because of my family history. I can never go back to eating whatever I want every day. I have to care enough about myself to try harder and stick with it.

Realistically, I don't think I can lose the 40-50 lbs that would put me in the ideal weight range for my height. I think those charts are not specific enough. Every women that is 5'6" does not need to weigh 145 lbs. We are all built differently. I haven't weighed that much since I graduated from high school and I had very little muscle tone then and injured myself frequently. I do think I can lose another 20-30 lbs and get my body fat down into a healthier range. Am I going to run 20 miles a week and do karate 4 days a week like I did at my peak? Of course not. But I can do a lot more than I'm doing now.

For now, I will be walking very briskly from my family history and working to run from it. I refuse to spend another year of my life being fat and feeling bad about myself. I will not continue to hold on to clothes that I haven't been able to wear for years or that I have never taken the tags off. When I open my closet all of the clothes will be in my size, whatever it is at that point. I will be whoever I am by the end of this year. I just hope that person looks a lot more like she did 5 years ago and not like the person that I see today.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Getting Old Is Depressing

I am still happily in my early thirties and know I have a lot of life to live. But as I watch the older folks around me go through difficult times it makes me sad. I know that some of the problems people experience with old age could be avoided if they lead a healthier lifestyle when they were younger. But you can also lead a very healthy life and still end up with Alzheimer's, Osteoporosis, etc. It's just not fair!

My neighbor Steve is a very nice man. He is in his late 80's if not into his 90's. Him and his wife have lived in their house for the better part of their adult life. They live alone and have a home health care nurse stop by for a few hours every day and their adult children visit in the evenings. Steve's wife had a stroke and has trouble getting around and speaking. I'm not sure what is wrong with Steve but we have seen an ambulance take him away several times. He walks very slowly and has slurred speech but seems to get by okay.

Steve is the kind of guy that worked his entire life and is not dealing well with retirement. There have been a a few times where my husband or I witnessed Steve picking up something too heavy for him or saw him trying to shovel his walkway and ran over to stop him and offer our assistance. He drives his boat-sized Buick around the corner to the drug store or from the driveway in front of his house to the back of his house at least once a day. I worry every time he gets in the car because he drives very slowly and I'm guessing he's not supposed to drive very far, if at all. He walks to his mailbox several times a day. I'm not sure what else he's looking for between the newspaper and the mail delivery but obviously he is bored. I think that Steve and his wife should be in an assisted living facility. He needs to be somewhere where they can provide constant supervision but where he can still live relatively independently. A day full of structured activities would add some excitement to his life.

I'm sure his children have discussed putting Steve and his wife in a facility. I'm sure the doctors have recommended it but Steve has refused. We have been through the same thing with my grandmother for several years. My grandmother has diabetes and cataracts and a number of other conditions related to these two diseases. We have had to cut vacations short to rush her to the hospital. She has blacked out while walking to a public restroom. She has fallen when walking around the house. But no matter what happens my uncle always rationalizes why she doesn't need to be in a home despite the protests from my mother, her older brother and all of us grand kids.

Truth be told, my grandmother is a very nasty woman. She has years of pent up anger and frustration from the hard childhood that she went through and then the struggles of raising three children on her own. She is quite racist and while she doesn't usually say mean things to peoples faces, her behavior makes it clear how she feels. My grandmother is what we call an equal opportunity racist. She hates white people, Asian people, African people, black people who are too dark and of course, black people who are too light. She is one of 14 children with the skin tones ranging from "could pass for white" to "Black African in the sun all day black". She has no problem spewing her venom at members of her own family in addition to complete strangers no matter how much they are trying to help her. I think this is why my relatives have given up. It's easier to let her do what she wants rather than argue with her. At this point, my mother thinks that its too late to get my grandmother into a home because she's in her late 80's and probably won't live for too much longer so why add the stress of moving.

My grandmother has lost more than half of her siblings. I can't imagine watching all of my friends and family die and then waiting for my turn. You would think that going through all this would make her value the time that she has left but of course that's not the case. Her youngest sister died this past weekend. Immediately after telling me the news my grandmother started complaining about how her next youngest sister was going to try to steal the spotlight at the funeral by singing at the church. She did this at one of her brother's funerals last year and my grandmother still complains about how she thinks she's better than everyone else because she's light-skinned and how everyone gives her so much attention that she doesn't deserve. Sigh. All I can do is listen to these rants because as much as I don't enjoy talking to my grandmother on the phone, I know there will come a time when she is not here and I should try to keep in touch with her so I don't have any regrets when she passes away.

Here in upstate New York we have a large elderly community. A month doesn't go by without a car accident caused by an elderly person going the wrong way on the highway or blowing a traffic signal and killing themselves and other innocent people. I know that there are a lot of older people who are in great shape who can still get around and work without assistance but they are the exception for sure. I cringe at the thought of a Big Brother type of government that takes away driver's licenses when you reach a certain age or forces assisted living but I don't think there would be anything wrong with making people retest every 5 years once they get to be a certain age. I think that emphasizing that people set up an account for "elderly living" in addition to life insurance to cover assisted living, home nursing care and all the other things that we might need in the last 10-30 years of our lives.

I hope to be one of the healthy old people that I see running at the park, working at Walmart and tending to their meticulously well kept lawns. But I know that even if I'm not, that I will make sure that my husband and I have planned for the worst so that our families and neighbors don't have to worry about taking care of us.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Soccer Moms Have Taken over My TV

I'm not sure when it happened but slowly the target demographic for television producers has become soccer moms. It started subtly in the early 2000's with my favorite channels, Discovery Health Channel (DHC) and TLC, dumping a lot of their original content for new, mom friendly, TV. Traditionally these channels had great real-life stories without the crap and created drama that you often find on reality shows on network TV and basic cable channels.

DHC had Adoption Stories, A Reunion Story, Plastic Surgery Before and After, I Lost It and countless other shows that were as interesting as they were educational.
Slowly, the quality shows stopped being produced and baby-related shows took over the line up. Shows about high risk pregnancies, then shows that follow the mom's home from the hospital, shows about the obstetricians that work at the hospitals, shows about women who are models and have babies, etc, etc. I get it. Soccer moms are home all day and apparently all they want to do is watch other moms on TV. So to hell with the rest of us. I thought the original shows on DHC appealed to a wide audience but I guess that was the problem. DHC decided to put all their eggs in one basket and go for the soccer mom market. Adoption Stories and I Lost It stopped making new episodes years ago but they still come on every day. I still tune in every now and again hoping to catch an episode that is new to me but am usually disappointed by the same episodes that I've seen over and over again. Other shows like A Reunion Story will show up in reruns late at night every once in a while but its all old shows. One of the gems, Buff Brides, has been copied by new shows like Bulging Brides but they definitely don't have the same depth as the original show.

This is also the channel that introduced us to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roisen, the ground breaking diet and lifestyle doctors who have since sold their souls to Oprah and ABC. It started with special appearances on Oprah a few days before a new special would air. They would show a condensed version of the specials on Oprah. Skipping a lot of the content in the middle due to time constraints but giving away the back story and the ending and interviewing the success story live on the show. When you watched the actual special you enjoyed it because there was so much content that Oprah had skipped but by the end you were bored because you knew the ending. Now you'll see the doctor's all over network TV showing bits of the special to everyone from Diane Sawyer to Rachel Ray not to mention the weekly appearance of Dr. Oz on Oprah. I think the purpose of this excessive promotion was to get more people to watch but I think it had the opposite effect; less people watching Discovery Channel Health and more people watching Oprah. So of course, Discovery Health Channel's ratings are sagging so who swoops in to save it? Oprah of course. She bought the station but apparently won't take over until 2010. I'm sure by then the station will be known as Oprah TV or some other self-serving title and the line up will be unbearable. DHC used to be my go to channel but now I don't even recognize it most of the time.

TLC is part of the Discovery Channel family, like DHC, but had more of a mainstream appeal. My college roommates and I would come home from class and watch A Makeover Story, A Dating Story and A Wedding Story back to back to back when we got home from class. A Baby Story also came on in the middle somewhere but that was usually a great time for us to get up and make a snack or respond to e-mails. And of course, Trading Spaces, the cultural phenomenon of my generation, was born here. I think that it was funny that at a time when none of us had any space of our own, we were obsessed with a home makeover show. It was the great personalities among the designers and the carpenters and the quirky, albeit at times annoying, host. By the time I was a homeowner, Trading Spaces had hit the big time; everyone watched it and talked about it. So of course, as the show becomes more popular, designers and carpenters leave the show to try to make a name for themselves on their own shows. You will find Trading Spaces alumni all over your TV schedule but none of them have created shows of the same quality as those early seasons of Trading Spaces. When ratings started to plummet, Trading Spaces experimented with contests and new designers and even brought Paige back to try and revitalize the show but it fizzled out and was cancelled with minimal fanfare.

I remember watching The Duggar Family- 12 Kids and Pregnant Again or some similar title years ago. I was obsessed with this family from the first special on TLC. Not only did they have 12 kids but they had a great attitude and great family unity. I am not a religious person but I didn't find their strong faith to be a distracting factor, like it is in a lot of other shows. It was just great to see a family that was living within their means. They had no debt but they managed to run a household with 6 times the kids of the average household. They even home school their children in addition to running the most efficient household that I've ever seen. It feels like I am often surrounded by incompetent parents and their maladjusted children throwing tantrums in Target or making a scene at a restaurant. While a large number of parents that I encounter don't seem to want to be accountable for or just aren't capable of adequately providing a healthy upbringing for their one or two children, the Duggar's were flourishing with their 12, 14, 16 kids and raising well adjusted children that will grow up to be productive adults. Every year, TLC would have a new Duggar Special and I loved watching it. Of course now you can find the Duggars on 18 Kids and Counting. I still watch every episode but the show has definitely lost some of its specialness. The once a year 1-2 hour specials went a lot deeper into the family and their adventures than the 30 minute weekly shows that often contain some very obviously staged parts. Before it seemed like TLC was content to provide the Duggar's story documentary style, recording the events of their lives with minimal intrusion. Now there are staged events, like a trip to Dollywood, that come across very awkward and un-Duggar. The Duggar's watch 4 hours of TV a month and didn't even know who Dolly Parton was but of course there were two episodes dedicated to them going to Dollywood and meeting her. It was an hour long commercial for Dollywoood and very un-Duggar.

Now you will find at least 4 other shows on TLC that focus on families with a lot of kids. Jon and Kate Plus 8, of course, has become the face of TLC. I cannot grasp the appeal of this train wreck of a family and couldn't believe that anyone was surprised when the couple announced they were splitting up this year. I have watching no more than a few minutes of this show at a time but every time I watched it I felt like this was a very unhappy couple who should tell the cameras to get out of their lives and focus on building their relationship and raising their children. When Kate started appearing on Dr. Phil and other shows as a guest I couldn't help but wonder what was going on with her husband and kids at home and how did a women with 8 kids have time to do the talk show circuit regularly. The existence of this show and the cult like following that it has makes me sad for the hundreds of thousands of children that sit around waiting to be adopted. Apparently having twins and sextuplets is okay because you'll get a reality show and that will help you provide for your family.

I think that being a parent is a wonderful thing but that if you are not physically able to have children naturally then maybe that has happened to you for a reason. Maybe there is a child out there waiting for you to raise it. I have had the pleasure of having many adopted friends throughout my life and always felt that if I were to have children, that I would adopt. Human beings are not dogs and were not meant to have litters of children. The possibility of health problems for both the mother and the children grows dramatically as the number of children increases. There are the rare cases where people naturally have 4+ children but they do not receive nearly the attention of the Jon & Kate's and the Octomom's (who will surely be on TLC soon).

You have to go through a rigorous screening process to become an adopted parent. You have to prove to a number of qualified, state appointed individuals that you are capable of providing for a child. I wish that fertility doctor's would put their patients through half the screening that adoptive parents go through and that, just like adoption, under qualified candidates would be turned away if they didn't pass the minimum requirements. In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and other doctor-assisted means of becoming pregnant are very planned situations. This gives the medical professionals plenty of time to thoroughly screen every patient before determining that they are ready to become a parent and that their relationship is strong enough to survive the difficult, and often disappointing, road of fertility treatments.

Sadly, it seems that a willing insurance company or an empty credit card are the only prerequisites for these procedures. I have a niece/nephew on the way by IVF and am very happy for the expectant couple. I hope she carries the baby to term without any complications. But I can't help but think of the reservations that the husband expressed in confidence about not being ready to be a parent when they started this journey two years ago. He never shared these feelings with his wife and just attended all the appointments and went through all the procedures that she had scheduled. While he seems genuinely ecstatic that he is having a child, I worry that he will not feel this way later. Some pre-pregnancy counseling to ensure that the relationship was stable before adding a child to it wouldn't have detracted from this experience at all and would have made them a stronger couple. Both future parents have a history of difficult pregnancies and miscarriages on both sides of the families so we are all holding out breath until she gets deeper into the pregnancy.

I think that there is a place for all of these shows on television, I just don't think they should be all that is on. I would like to see a variety of different shows on television that appeal to a broader audience. How about instead of 10 shows about people who have a dozen children, let's just have 4 and then have 6 other real life shows about people who aren't pregnant. I love my DVR and wish that it was around years ago when TV was better and there was a lot more to record. Now I use my DVR to record the few gems that still come on TV and to sift through the crap. Us non-moms watch a lot of TV and buy products too. How about throwing us a bone every now and again.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Bridesmaid Take Four

I enjoy going to weddings as a guest. I'm always up for a big party. I rarely enjoy being a member of the wedding party as much as I enjoy being a guest (except for my own wedding of course). I was in two weddings when I was younger but I don't really remember them so I guess I shouldn't complain. As an adult, I have been a bridesmaid three times and am signed up to be in two more weddings next year.

The worst part of being a bridesmaid is definitely the dresses and accessories. In the first wedding that I participated in as an adult, the bride choose designer suits for all of us to wear. She was 19 years old at the time and the entire bridal party was in their late teens to early 20's. The best way that I can describe the suits is that they were burgundy with a curtain print and a lace collar. These dresses would have been suitable for the mother of the bride, not for a group of teenagers. So it's spring break, and every inch of our bodies is covered with long sleeves, a high neck and a tea length suit all topped off with burgundy shoes dyed to match. We all looked horrible next to my friend in her handmade ballgown. The marriage lasted for less than a year but I still have the dress in the back of my closet.

The next wedding was my college roommate's. She chose a designer and a color and allowed us all to pick whatever style dress we felt suited our bodies. While I don't think I will ever wear the royal blue dress again, at least we all look great in the pictures. We did have to buy royal blue gloves to match the dresses but that's a lot better than having shoes dyed to match. I don't understand why anyone would want all of their bridesmaids to wear the exact same dress. Everyone has a different shape and not all dresses look good on all shapes. Usually, one bridesmaid looks really good in the dress, a couple look okay and one looks horrible. I have yet to see a dress that suits all body types. Unfortunately, my college roommate's marriage ended in divorce but she is getting remarried next year and I'm excited to be in another wedding party for her.

For the next wedding that I was in, the bride thought it would be fun for all the girls to go to David's Bridal together to try on dresses that came in sea foam green (her chosen color) and pick a dress together. Luckily, sea foam green doesn't look good on anyone so we all settled pretty quickly on a very simple dress and then headed off for lunch. The wedding was kind of a drag but all the partying before and after the wedding were great. The pictures of us in our shiny pastel green dresses that show every bulge and imperfection are pretty funny. We know we look bad and we just don't care. We're about to rip off those dresses, pull on some jeans and head to the bar!!

For my wedding I had everyone wear red and white, the colors of my wedding dress. I didn't given anyone a particular dress style, just the color codes. The two girls next to me wore red; there were more than 30 dresses in my shade of red for them to chose from. The next two girls wore the mix and match two piece sets. They each ended up choosing a red skirt and a white top but in completely different styles. They also chose to accent their dresses with a satin shawl (one in red and one in white). The last two girls wore white dresses (more than 50 to chose from) and added a red sash. My flower girl wore a white and red dress similar to mine. Everyone had dozens of choices and they were all able to pick dresses that they felt comfortable in and that flattered their bodies.

One of the bridesmaids from my wedding is getting married next year. At my wedding she told me how great it was that they all got to choose their own dresses and that she was going to do that at her wedding. Last weekend all the bridesmaids for her wedding got together, at the brides request, to watch her try on dresses and to pick out bridesmaid dresses. I am not a girly-girl. I like to dress up but most of my friends are guys or non-girly girls so shopping with a group of girls isn't high on my list of fun things to do. I chose my wedding dress by myself in less than a hour. No one saw my dress until the day of the wedding. I like to go shopping by myself. I have never enjoyed hanging out at the mall or hanging out with the girls. I usually get to the store the second they open so I can get in and out before most people wake up. This past weekend we were dress shopping from 10 am to 4 pm.

You would think that with 5 hours of shopping (we did break for lunch in the middle) at two different bridal stores we would have everything wrapped up. Nope. My friend couldn't make a decision on what wedding dress she wanted or what she wanted us to wear. The color, style, etc. of all dresses is still up in the air. The bride was constantly questioning the 6 of us that she dragged with her about what dress we wanted her to wear and what we thought looked good on her. We all told her that this was her day and she should wear whatever she wants. She didn't like this answer and kept pressing for our guidance in choosing a dress. By the end of the day we were all pretty snippy and bored out of our minds.

The worst part of the day was that she had us shopping at these little boutique bridal stores. You know those stores that have every dress in one size (usually and 8-10) and one color and where all the employees are snotty and condescending. Apparently these guys didn't hear the news that the average American woman is a size 14. I tried looking for dresses in one of these stores initially for my wedding. I ran for David's Bridal as quickly as I could after I was told that most of the sample sizes were 8's and that they could pin the dresses on me to give me an idea of what it would look like in my size. I wear a size 16; I couldn't get most of the dresses over my hips. They told me they would be glad to order a dress for me in my size but after I ordered it I owned it. The big stores have most of the styles available in the store from size 0-32 so that you can see how the dress fits your body. You can usually leave the store with your dress that day (I did with my wedding dress). If you do have to order the dress they tell you it will take 3-6 weeks to come in. I have never waited for more than a week and a half for a bridesmaid dress.

My horrible dress shopping experience did wonders for my self esteem and I recounted this story to all of my close friends, including my friend who I went shopping with. Eight months ago, my friend would have gone through the same experience that I went through because she was a size 16. Now she is a size 10-12 and could fit into most of the sample sizes. Apparently losing 20 pounds included the loss of her compassion for her bridal party. There are five bridesmaids. One girl is a 00 (I'm not joking, that's her actual size), another girl is an 8, I am a size 16, another girl is an 18 and the last girl is a 24. We range in height from 5'1 to 5'11 and in bra size from nearly A to H cups. There is no dress that will flatter all of us but the bride has now decided that we should all wear the same dress and none of my bridesmaids waited for longer than 3 weeks.

Last weekend she had all of us go into the dressing room and try on every dress that she liked so she could see how it looked on each of us. After the first few dresses didn't go over our hips, three of us gave up and left the fitting room fun to the size 8 and the size 00. The size 8 is short so while all the dresses fit her body most of them made her look stumpy because the length and cut of the dresses. The size 00 was swimming in the dresses and even with the store employees pinning the dresses as tight as they could she still looked like she was wrapped in a beach towel in every dress that she walked out in. We tried on every color from fuchsia to light blue to black and she still doesn't know what color she wants. Did I mention that we also range in skin color from porcelain white to Puerto Rican tan to chocolate brown? Hopefully we won't take any pictures at all.

I don't understand why you would want everyone to wear the exact same dress. It makes for boring pictures and an unflattering day for all. It's the equivalent of dressing all your children in the exact same outfit even though they aren't twins or twins still dressing a like when they're in their 30's and no longer look alike. In the next few weeks I will have to order my bridesmaid dress because at the little boutique shops it takes 6-9 months for a dress to come in. So i will give them my measurements, get a dress that doesn't fit and spend at least as much money on alterations as I did on the dress. I can't wait.