family

…and then she proposed…

I was watching TV, annoyed that I had to sit through commercials – because what is this, the 90s? – and a credit card commercial (I think) came on. A young black couple sat in a Chinese food restaurant. She looked nervous. He opened a fortune cookie. It was cute. She proposed. I was like, well that’s badass.

So back before we were ready, I had the idea. Aside from the fact that it would make me feel like a feminist badass, I also thought it would be really nice to take it off of Anthony’s shoulders. He stresses out A LOT about giving gifts every year for birthdays or Christmas – they have to be absolutely PERFECT. I knew that this would be so much pressure on him – so why not take it on myself?

Then one day, we talked about having kids. Usually these conversations go a little like this:

Him: Do you want kids?

Me: UGH. NO. I mean, probably. But in like, 10 – no, 20 – years maybe?

Him: Ugh I know right? We’ll probably have them, but I can’t imagine having them…

Me: Let’s stop talking about this.

Him: K!

But this time, he was like “Ya, I want kids.” And I was like “Ya, me too.” Then I realized we needed to get the show on the road and told him I wanted to be married for a few years before it all goes down. And we had this moment, celebrating our 4 year anniversary in Pismo Beach, where we were like – “Holy shit. We’re gonna get engaged soon.”

This happened in March. We both thought, without telling each other, that it would probably be sometime this summer. During our conversation in Pismo I threw out the idea of me proposing to make sure he didn’t react in a random way – of course he just shrugged, and apparently told people it was a toss up over who would propose first.

Which, by the way, I just LOVE. So much more exciting, in my mind.

So a couple weeks later, I’m hanging out with my sister and some friends and talking about what I would want to do. When I thought of what Anthony would want, I immediately thought of his family. He would want them involved somehow. So I thought maybe I could have them come out and surprise him over the summer. Then I realized they were already coming out for a show of his in late April. My sister was like, “Just do it then.” I was like “Ummdkajfhweihgwirjglkwgjm;wldg huh?”

But that made the most sense. It was SO fast, but also – what are we waiting for? And I’m soooo glad I didn’t plan something farther out because it is SO hard to keep that shit a secret – I just wanted to get it over with!

So I made a plan – then called his mom, his dad and sister, and my mom. They were all thrilled and we made a plan for the parents to come to Santa Barbara the day after the show. It was a really emotional day, actually – talking to everyone about it and planning it and having it become real – no going back after that.

There were a lot of logistical issues, some I won’t bore you with, others I’ll mention because they might be helpful to someone who might be thinking of doing the same thing. But I have to say, with all of the complexities and planning and things that could of gone wrong (even though the proposal was so simple!) – I was SO damn lucky. Fate LOVED me the whole time.

So one issue was his ring. I wanted something shiny to hold up when I got down on one knee (I wanted to do the whole thang ya’ll). But I didn’t know his ring size, and I didn’t know what kind of ring he would like. I googled the first issue – and let me tell you, the internet doesn’t talk much about chicks proposing. Except this one study that said it’s a BAD IDEA AND DON’T DO IT. Anyways, people were like, “measure his finger while he’s sleeping!” or “go to a jeweler and joke around and have him try on some!” – those weren’t going to work without completely giving away the surprise.

So – I just made a call. I picked one that I thought would look beautiful on him, and picked the size of my friend’s husband’s ring. It was $20, so no big deal if it didn’t even fit on his finger.

Fast forward to the day of. I had been SO good you guys. Usually I tell people I meet in the bathroom line what’s going on in my personal life, but I had kept this a secret from all of our friends, save a couple of mine who live far away. YAY ME. I also wasn’t acting like a total crazy person, even though I was SO nervous the entire afternoon leading up to it.

I suggested that we head to the beach early to take some pictures and watch the sunset before meeting his parents for dinner. And my guy is so sweet. He was like, “Okay, I guess I’ll need to look nice then.” When I suggested that I drive instead of taking the usual Lyft (so I could make a detour to the proposal spot) he kept asking why, since parking at the restaurant/beach was so insane. I just said because, and he just let it go and let me do whatever I wanted. I love this man.

I realized we had to get gas and nervously texted my sister who was hiding at the proposal spot, camera ready. I felt like I could probably barf on my shoes. I’m getting nervous even thinking about it now! As we drove, he loudly rapped Kendrick Lamar lyrics and thought it was a great idea when I suggested (totally casually) that we stop by that lookout point he had taken me to years ago, above the beach on the cliff. Apparently that was not my smoothest moment and he started to think something was up. It didn’t help things when he asked me what we should listen to and I suggested our song. But I knew he would love that so it was worth it.

The sun was golden and perfect and Santa Barbara was looking its very best that evening. I pulled over at the lookout spot and nervously grabbed the ring out of my purse, putting it on my finger and hiding it from him as we walked to the cliff edge. I was totally shaking at this point, wanting so badly to just rip the band-aid off.

I (think I) told him that I was so glad he moved here and that we met in such a beautiful place, and that I was so happy and proud of the little life we made together. I (think I) told him that I usually get scared of big things like kids and marriage, but he makes it all seem doable, and better yet, fun. That I have a hard time trusting and being vulnerable but he makes it easy, and better yet, the most rewarding thing in the world. I wanted to spend the rest of my life having as much fun as I’ve had in the last four years. And then I knelt down and held up the ring, and said “Will you marry me?” (I think – I was so nervous I may have blacked out a little).

He was immediately on the ground with me, all reassurance and love and happiness. I was shaking and we stood up and I hugged him and just shook and sort of sobbed? But not really crying yet, just shaking and electricity and relief and vulnerability literally pulsing through me. I just held onto him and was so glad it was over.

original_url: 2B1D3122-5325-42AA-8814-759A18ED32A1

He said I was really cute and that this was perfect and then said “Are we the most subversive couple or WHAT?!” and we high-fived. Then I told him I didn’t even know what I just said because I was so nervous – and then proceeded to tell him everything I WANTED to say, but maybe forgot to say?
He said, “Ya, you already said that, baby.”

So yay me, I guess?

By the way, the ring fit, and he loved it.

original_url: FA7DC7C3-9234-4C82-926E-74C65127CB9B
original_url: 7B20C2E6-27DC-4696-9124-616AA437C7A6
original_url: 217DFBF1-7F2C-45E8-81AD-872E2D501913

My sister came strolling up – “I just happened to be in the neighborhood!” – and gave him sour skittles. Then she took some pictures of us right after, and we all headed to dinner. We were early, because apparently proposing is so uncomfortable that I do it in lightning speed. And I could hardly talk to anyone for about 10 minutes as my body recovered from what apparently was quite the physical as well as emotional ordeal. Once I had champagne, and realized it was over and I could just relax, I came back to life.

My parents also came to dinner, and we had such a special night. My mom gave me her mother’s wedding band, which was so special for so many reasons – I might do a separate post explaining that – but we were all crying and the night was even more amazing than I could have imagined. Anthony’s sister FaceTimed with us and sent a gift ahead of time, and our parents bought dinner and champagne – it was the best time ever.

2017-05-30_16-07-15

We got home to our apartment and talked about the whole thing, staring at our rings. We texted friends. I said I was surprised he didn’t cry more when I proposed – I was expecting a lot more water works from him. Although, he did cry when I said I knew he would want his parents there to celebrate with us. And after a couple beers, and putting on the playlist we used to listen to when we were first dating, it happened – he started crying and it all hit him – and I was like YESSSS! I won’t be the only one with a crazy emotional roller coaster happening tonight!

It was truly the best night ever. I can’t believe how easy he makes things. How the hard things are rewarding with him. How everything seems to be exactly the way it should be – but even better. I get to be with my best friend, and laugh my ass off everyday that I’m with him. I couldn’t be luckier.

original_url: 050234D6-9850-4B10-A0B2-83A4E282E456

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wait, why again?

IMG_7076

Mélange à trois is a series where we discuss life’s burning questions about life, love, and style. Have a question you just can’t find the answer to? Email me at missmelangeblog@gmail.com and we’ll talk about it!

 

I have this group of girlfriends that I see pretty often. I’ve known them for forever, and they are fun to hang out with – but lately I feel like we don’t have much in common, and even though I have fun, I leave feeling weird. I find myself giving more than I’m getting – initiating things with them, asking them how they are and not talking about myself at all… And I’m starting to wonder why I put in the effort. But I’ve known these girls for forever, and I would feel bad about turning down invites (even though they don’t come to my get togethers)… What can I do to not rock the boat, but to stop feeling bleh about the whole thing?

 

Okay. Let’s break this down:

  • These friends don’t have anything in common with you
  • They aren’t giving anything in your friendship
  • You feel shitty after hanging out with them
  • They don’t come to your stuff, but you go to theirs

The only things keeping you from changing it up are:

  • You’ve known them for forever
  • You feel bad turning them down

Let’s start with the two reasons that would prevent you from changing the current state of things.

It doesn’t matter that you have known them for a long time if you aren’t getting anything out of these friendships. It’s not like you’re banning them from your life, and if you end up having things in common later and life and they bring value as friends, then great, you can always pick things back up. But right now, your life is being weighed down by unnecessary shit, and this is something you need to cut out. We’ll get to why later.

But you also feel bad turning them down. Here’s the thing – what would you rather feel: irrational guilt for turning down an invite from them when they turn down yours, or that frustrated feeling you get when you realize you got off your couch and did your hair, all for a couple of hours that you wish you could get back to do something you care about?

Then there’s the bigger picture. It’s not just about your Friday night, or who has accepted the most invitations – it’s about your whole life. Which sounds dramatic, but hear me out.

When you look at your social calendar, how much of it are you genuinely looking forward to? 50%? 80%? I think it should be 100%. Sure, some things you can’t get out of, and some things are investments or necessary evils (for example, maybe your in-laws aren’t at the top of your fun list, but you know it’s important and it’s worth it). But when it comes to your people who you choose to spend your SPARE time with, why the hell is that something you’re dreading? Makes no sense!

This is something I am JUST figuring out, thanks to my wise sister. We have been talking about how important our time is and how it makes us feel. Think about it – you’re looking at your week like, “Okay Monday I have happy hour with this girl from work who I don’t even like that much and it’s going to be awkward, but she asked me so I had to go… then Wednesday I have my friend’s party where no one I know will be there, but I should go because I didn’t go to her last leggings/oils/crystals/makeup party…then Thursday I have dinner with the boyfriend’s family friends who I’ve never met… then Friday and Saturday I said I would leave for the weekend with friends that I have realized lately I don’t click with at all….” SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT WEEK. I’m already exhausted.

But we’ve all been there, right? (If you haven’t, props to you and please comment with tips!) With that kind of pattern, I would start to feel kinda depressed about my life – where is all the fun stuff I want to do??

So we need to start saying no. With no guilt. Even if someone did nothing wrong, but you’re just not into it, say no. Even if you LOVE this person but you don’t love their bowling club, say no. And once your schedule is 90% shit you love, showing up for someone you love to do something you’re not that thrilled about will be a million times easier.

It’s about your life as a whole, and viewing your time as a precious (and scarce) resource. If I say no to this party these girls invited me to, I will have more energy to say yes to other invites that are way more important to me. And I will have more energy to do other things that make me happy, like exercise or cook for myself or read that book. Suddenly, you have time to do the things you WANT to do.

And even if you’re SO BORED, and the only thing to do this Friday night is hang out with those girls, still say no – because you know you won’t have a good time. And with that freed up time and space, you make room for new friends, new hobbies, new habits – and you will only let those in that you think sound fun. It might take some time, but then you’re looking at a bad-ass calendar.

Think of it as a wardrobe capsule for your life. Less=more, quality > quantity.

Sounds pretty dope, no? So start embracing “no”. We’ll do it together.

 

foko4dpxamq-eric-rothermel

 

 

 

Broken gas light

 

When I was younger, I was surrounded by a lot of drama, conflict, and uncertainty. Unstable home lives, parents dealing with their own demons and relationship issues, substance abuse – these were things my friends and I were witnessing and dealing with on top of growing up and deciding how we wanted to abuse substances, or who we wanted to have sex with, or how we wanted to deal with conflict.

I don’t mean to oversimplify my adolescence – it was also like a heartwarming indie movie. Me, walking or driving under huge gorgeous redwoods, thinking about what my little self wanted – and afterwards coming home to a warm house wallpapered with art, intelligence, values of creativity, nature – with a warm balanced meal waiting.

No matter what kind of environment you grow up in, we all have to decide how we will manage our lives after we leave that environment. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a choice – sometimes I feel like a complete product of how I grew up and the coping mechanisms that seemed to just appear inevitably, without my permission.

But I think there was a decision, maybe when I was 8, maybe younger? – to handle conflict and relationships in a certain way. My plan was to completely avoid it. And it seemed like as good of a strategy as any for a long time. Facing it head on just never looked like it worked out great, from what I could see.

IMG_8687

This plan had a lot of  unexpected ripple effects. In elementary and early high school, I thought being a good friend (and friendships then, of course, are practice runs for all future relationships outside your family) was to make that person the center of attention. If they are dealing with something hard, I should drop everything and be there for them.

But what if the Hard Thing they are dealing with lasts for… the entirety of our friendship? I realized that I was bottling up feelings and problems I was having to make more room for their Hard Things – because they seemed bigger. I could wait. Then I couldn’t wait anymore – the resentment would spill over, and I was so angry at them for not magically realizing on their own that I had been giving them this gift, the gift of not asking anything of them for so long so I could support them. How could they just not ask how I was doing? Didn’t they realize that we talked about them 99% of the time?

It was a tough lesson to learn: that I couldn’t expect other people to make sure my needs were being met. I had to set the stage for how I wanted to be treated. It was up to me, and it was unfair to be mad at these people after creating that environment in the first place – they didn’t ask me to do it, they were just following my lead. I never said it was a problem, until it was a complete disaster.

The problem is, this totally conflicted with my plan of avoiding conflict. I would rather secretly resent everyone in my room than risk raised voices – or even dancing dangerously close to the idea of conflict. To this day it makes my stomach feel like a lava lamp – the idea of purposefully starting a conversation that would be uncomfortable.

FullSizeRender (4)

This pattern (ugh, I even hate acknowledging that it’s a pattern – how… unevolved…) has been popping up in allll of my relationships. Friendships, family, boyfriends. And so many times, I felt like I cracked the code. “Look! I stood up for myself. I broke up with them after all that bullshit. I said how I felt, created boundaries, and cut them off when they didn’t respect them.” Okay. Except maybe next time those boundaries and outward declarations of how you felt could exist earlier in the relationship, and not just come crashing down on everyone, all of a sudden, when your resentment tank is full?

I don’t even realize I’m doing it. In the moment, I feel strong, and totally content. “He is way more busy than I am!” “I don’t have much going on right now, so it makes more sense for me to visit them more than they visit me.” “She just has more to talk about, my life right now is so mellow…”

The thing is, my life will always be mellow, without a lot going on. Because I do that on purpose. I love stability, zero drama (or the fantasy of it), a wide-open schedule – lots and lots of extra time for sleeping in, binging on a show, drawn-out conversations over beers, or road trips on long weekends. I make room for these things in my life on purpose, which is something I like about myself and the life I decided to have.

But even when things aren’t mellow – when my boyfriend is having heart surgery, when work is so busy that I can’t find any energy to blog or do anything other than stare at the TV when I get home – I will tell people, “Oh, there’s nothing much going on with me – I mean, things are a little crazy, but it’s just the same ol boring stuff – what’s up with you? You had that crazy thing happen the other day! We have to talk about that!”

In the moment, I don’t feel like I need that attention – I really DO want to talk about that crazy thing that happened, rather than my stuff. But after a while it builds up and I’m like “Why does no one care about my shit?” It’s like I check my gas tank and I’m 75% full, and I’m like, cool – I can totally drive for so long before I have to think about filling up. But it’s like I have a broken gas light or something – before I even think about checking on it, I’m broken down on the side of the road at 2am in the middle of a total emotional breakdown, before I realize that maybe I should think about how my gas tank is doing.

The frustrating thing is that I know all of this so well. But I forget every time, and I’m back in that tired old pattern, and when I’m on the side of the road again I’m just like yelling to the heavens, “GOD DAMMIT STEPHANIE!!!! Learn the lesson and MOVE. ON.”

It’s like the most dysfunctional relationship I’ve ever had is with myself. (…Wow. That was way more cheesy than it sounded at first. But I’ll leave it there, because whatever – cheesy is helpful sometimes. That could be the tag line for my heartwarming indie movie.)

2015-03-01_TwoHappyLambsPhotography-21_bw

Image by Two Happy Lambs Photography

It’s really annoying now, realizing that I can’t chat with my friend in the car and listen to a whole album before checking in on my tank – I have to look at that fucking thing every 5 minutes. That’s my life now, if I want to keep things the way I want them – I have to make sure I’m being honest, making sure my needs are met, making space for myself, and not expecting anyone else to do that for me.

I have to make a conscious decision about how I want to live my life and how I want my relationships to be – when we were younger, we only had the examples around us for guidance. Now we have to decide, and work – really hard – to get to the life we want for ourselves. And we can’t put it on autopilot to get there. Unfortunately.

Being an adult in adult relationships is really hard, guys. That’s why I need so much sleep and Netflix time – to recover from this bullshit.

 

File this under “Steph’s Issues” – see also, “On Being Self-Depricating“.

 

Any arm wrestling matches that you’re having with yourself lately? I don’t know about you, but this shit is exhausting.

 

 

 

Santa Cruz

 

The past few weeks have been insane – Anthony got his PhD, which, whatever, isn’t a huge deal…

We had a big party, and everyone he’s ever met came into town to celebrate – then there was the stress of him starting to look for jobs, while finishing his dissertation and filing… Then there was an ER visit thrown in for fun – he’s okay, but with his medical history, everyone is extra cautious, so we end up there a lot. I feel like we should probably get frequent shopper punch cards – the 10th visit is free!

Needless to say, when our 3 year anniversary came around, we were dying for a vacation. But we were broke. So we decided to go stay at my parents’ house in Felton, CA – 15 minutes away from Santa Cruz.

My little hometown is tucked in the gorgeous redwoods in the mountains outside of the popular surf town. Felton is very small, with a couple of shops lining the main two-lane highway. I used to run through the trails in the redwood forest behind my high school for PE, and things like going to the movies or the mall was really only attainable once you got your driver’s license. Even then, we mostly had beach bonfires or parties outside in our backyards – why stay inside when you live somewhere that beautiful?

10587086

Image via phish.net

Of course I didn’t truly appreciate my parents’ little house with an enormous yard and a grove of redwoods on the property when I was a teenager. But now, when I can make a getaway to this quiet, green, and gorgeous place where I’m fed for free, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. My parents have a detached studio with a queen sized bed and its own bathroom – we felt like we scored the best AirBnB in the world, but it was free!

I should have taken pictures of our little bungalow, but I did remember to take pictures of my mom’s NEW PUPPY!

Media_20160318_160433 Media_20160319_184658

Media_20160318_160437

Kill me.

We spent the first afternoon playing with the puppy (obviously) and chatting with my parents. Then we went on a classic Felton date. We walked into the little town strip, checked out the ukulele store (which used to be a rock store – not kidding) and then went to the health food store across the street for flavored honey sticks (as amazing as they sound). Then we concluded our little funky Felton date with a stroll through the thrift store and walked home for dinner. On the way back I realized how cool this mural I passed every day for years was and had to share:

Media_20160318_175938

Media_20160318_180012

Media_20160318_180029

After dinner we went to my new favorite place – The Cremer House.

cremer-house-taps

Image via The Cremer House

Who knew my little funky town had a cool place with lots (and lots) of good beer??

Media_20160318_203441

The next day we drove through the redwoods to Santa Cruz to check out the Boardwalk, since Anthony has never been.

Media_20160319_145618

I love the Boardwalk because you can just buy a couple of tickets to ride one or two rides, and you can still walk around the whole place. My dad grew up right next to Disneyland, and my nana said it used to be like that back when he was little. I hope the Boardwalk stays this way!

We rode the Giant Dipper (which Anthony was pretty impressed with – or just terrified because it was basically built with some 2x4s decades ago) and this favorite ride of mine:

Media_20160319_151457

Totally don’t remember what it’s called. Sky Tram or something weird like that? Anyway, it’s awesome. Because I just have to sit there and not drop my phone and enjoy the beautifulness.

Media_20160319_151414

Media_20160319_151501

Media_20160319_151515

FullSizeRender-261-e1458877187100

After grabbing a beer downtown, we took a drive up to UCSC for the amazing views.

Media_20160319_171909 Media_20160319_172000

Media_20160319_171941

Media_20160319_171946

Media_20160319_171948

We took the beautiful long way home through the redwoods, then had a bonfire with friends in the backyard. Magical, ya’ll.

I promise to take more pictures of the redwoods next time. But we could NOT stop taking pictures on our way back when we took Highway 1 from the mountains of Santa Cruz back home to Santa Barbara.

Media_20160320_133623

Even though it takes quite a bit longer to get home, it was so. worth. it. Do it if you ever have the chance! Driving through Big Sur was my ultimate favorite – it’s my happy place.

Media_20160320_134148

Media_20160320_134216

Media_20160320_134247

Media_20160320_143020 Media_20160320_143338 Media_20160320_143429 Media_20160320_143528 Media_20160320_143748

We may have pulled over 8 thousand times. It was amazing. Can’t wait until we can find a weekend to go camping there!

And then… this happened.

Media_20160320_170314

Media_20160320_170437

Media_20160320_170459

Media_20160320_170515

We worked really hard on those “confused” faces so I hope you enjoyed them.

So ya, we’re driving along and I’m like “ARE THOSE ZEBRAS – pull over”. There were no “Zebra Xing” signs, or a sign that explains why they’re there next to the fence, nothing. After some googling it turns out they are from Hearst Castle, which I haven’t been to yet – but basically some rich dude forever ago decided to have zebras at his place, because, why not, and now they’re still here just chillin on the central coast.

So that was the exciting end to our trip. I miss northern California a ton, and I want to get back up to my home town again soon – hopefully in a few weeks.

 

What is your favorite cheap vacation spot? Any friends that have comfy couches in cool places?

 

 

 

1 2

%d bloggers like this: