Category Archives: travels

did i tell you how holly cut her fingertips off on christmas?

oh, i didn’t? yeah that’s right because i tried to and then i fainted.

warning: if you have problems with blood (like i do) i suggest you stop reading and go watch funny cat videos.

really. right now. do it.

(i know you’re still reading. i can see you.)

(fine. keep reading. but don’t say i didn’t warn you. i’m dizzy and i haven’t even started writing yet. just try not to hit your head on anything on the way down.)

so it was just an average christmas in butler, pennsylvania (or “pee-ay” as the locals say). and by average i actually mean less-than-average. a ray of light in the darkness was holly’s fancy new french au gratin recipe, which she saw on the cooking channel, her second favorite tv channel after bravo.

she decided she’d try it out on christmas day. i should note that holly has a habit of trying out new recipes on holidays, when we’re having visitors, on special occasions, etc. it doesn’t always go so well. but i digress.

this recipe, it’s actually called, get this, pomme de terra a la boulangere, french for “potatoes a la bakery,” which is equally as vague, if not slightly ridiculous. it calls for a lot of thinly sliced potatoes and onions. a whole lot of them. especially onions. so holly packed her oxo brand “v-blade” mandolin slicer and off we went to pee-ay.

at the time, holly had only used this slicer (pictured below) one time. and the entire time i felt myself getting dizzy and paced around the downstairs saying things like babe, we really don’t need julienned beets. i can do without the damn julienned beets just come here so i can hold you.

the slicer features an alarming array of sharp blades, all of which could easily slice off and/or shred one to four of your fingers and/or digits. what i’m saying is: just looking at this thing makes me picture pints of my blood on the floor, which, in turn, gets me light-headed and forces me to frantically search for a hard candy in one of my thousand purses to distract me and raise my blood sugar, which drops in times of severe stress. (hard candies are a jewish thing used to treat all ailments. kind of like windex for skin problems in my big fat greek wedding. don’t ask me, i don’t get it either.)

oxo v-blade mandolin slicer

anyway, holly and i are alone in her parents’ kitchen. the rest of her family is downstairs in the basement hanging out. as she’s slicing onions with the mandolin, i’m peeling potatoes with an ancient peeler repeatedly inquiring about how many i should peel. i should note that holly was not in the best of moods. she really shouldn’t have been using anything sharp and dangerous. (and i probably shouldn’t have been asking her annoying questions.)

i hand her potatoes and she slices them into gorgeous, even, thin slices. things are going well. she double checks the recipe, and it turns out she needs even more onions. she switches from slicing potatoes to slicing onions, reducing the depth of the blade since they’re thinner than the potatoes. this is the move that probably saved her fingers.

she’s in a hurry and grabs the onion and begins slicing it without the guard. if you’re familiar with mandolin slicers, you may already know that the first rule is to use the damn guard. that’s why they make it! the guard (the round thing in the photo above) attaches to whatever you’re slicing, thus protecting your hand and fingers from complete annihilation.

i’m not sure how long it took for her to hit the blade since i’ve already repressed the memory of almost the entire afternoon. all i remember is her suddenly shouting F*CK! F*CK! F*CK! then jumping up and down holding her hand and me shouting WHAT WHAT WHAT!

i went into panic mode immediately, ran to the sink and put on the cold water, shouting PUT YOUR HAND UNDER THE FAUCET, which, of course, didn’t help at all seeing how she had just cut both nail and flesh off her left middle finger, ring finger and pinky. (i had done something similar, in the very same kitchen, over the summer, cutting off a significant chunk of flesh off the right side of my right thumb with a (*gulp*) apple corer, and the first thing holly did for me was put my thumb under cold water. i almost fainted but couldn’t since her little nephews were there, so we played “i spy with my little eye” in order to keep me conscious.)

by the third “F*CK!” her younger sister, heather, thank G-d, ran up from the basement, followed by her parents.

there was a lot of blood, most of which i didn’t see because i had to turn away. as holly’s stepdad (once a cop, always a cop) went through the sliced onions looking for fingertips to put on ice  (she didn’t cut off enough flesh to reattach; all he found was (ugh) fingernails), heather and holly’s mom tended to holly’s bleeding and i ran around in circles panicking.

it was quickly decided holly would go to the emergency room to stop the bleeding and for a tetanus shot. holly, of course, was fairly calm. she was mostly a) in an extreme amount of pain and b) irritated at the thought of getting a tetanus shot–and the fact that she had had the accident at all.

i, of course, was far from calm. this was not the type of health crisis that called for a hard candy.

after handing holly–who was standing near the door waiting to leave–a superfluous amount of paper towels to replace the blood-soaked ones she was holding and promptly running away from her, i ran around the house in tears looking for what she’d need on the way to and at the hospital.

i grabbed her cell phone, a charger and her driver’s license. remembering she hadn’t eaten lunch yet, i also found the rather large square of what could only be described as artesian caramel we purchased at the wexford, pa whole foods the day before. because when you’ve chopped off both nail and flesh in a mandolin slicer the thing you really need most is artesian caramel.

“heather,” i said to her sister, who works in the medical field and who was therefore acting normal, unlike me.

surely i had ramona crazy eyes by this point. the fact that heather did not run from me is a testament to her love for her older sister.

“here’s stuff holly’ll need at the hospital: her cell phone, charger, driver’s license,” i plopped everything down in her open hands.

“and caramel. she hasn’t eaten and her blood sugar’s probably low.”

heather looked at me, blinking. she may have laughed a little, i have no idea, i’ve blocked it out.

then it was time for holly and heather to go to the hospital. i couldn’t hold it together any longer. i grabbed holly around her neck and blubbered something about how much i loved her, i’m so sorry this happened, i’m so worried about you, i love you so much, i love you and i love you and etc. i swear you’d think she was about to go into battle.

her mother may have had to pull me off her. again, i have no idea, i’ve blocked it out.

once they left, i sat down on the couch and sobbed into my hands. it was a crap week and this was the cherry on top. she was bleeding and in pain and i couldn’t do a thing to help but hand her sister a piece of artesian caramel.

her mom told me that it was ok and not to worry, that’d she be fine. susan (her mom) and frank (her stepdad) threw out the onions holly had been slicing, cleaned up the accident scene, finished up the recipe, and went to visit with family downstairs.

i stayed upstairs, immobile with worry. incapable of doing anything else, i picked up my phone and played words with friends, then walked around in circles. honestly, i don’t really remember what i did until they came back. luckily they weren’t gone for long (about an hour).

when i saw holly’s fingers (below), of course i burst into tears again.

holly's fingers after her mandolin accident

as instructed by heather, i met them both at the door with two glasses of guinness –and a rather large shot of whiskey for holly.

soon, more family came in for christmas dinner. despite her cooking injury, i’m pleased to report that almost everyone ate the pommes de terre a boulangere. the ironic thing is that most people thought it was “too onion-y,” so i guess holly didn’t need to cut up all those extra onions after all.

i can say with great certainty that this was our worst christmas ever. however, there is much to be thankful for: her injury could have been much, much worse. if she had been cutting the potatoes, she would have sliced off way more and this would be a much different blog entry.

since christmas, holly has changed her bandages many, many times, and, now that the bleeding and oozing has stopped, i’ve forced myself to take a deeeeeep breath and look her fingers and i gotta say: it’s pretty damn bad. seeing them kind of makes me want to hold her and tell her to never slice or julienne anything ever again.

when she got home from the hospital, i told holly we’d be throwing out the slicer. but frank said it was “operator error” and that there’s nothing wrong with the slicer. it was, in fact, the operator. which was holly. so, despite  my pleas, we brought the damn thing home.

last week, when i was upstairs, and holly was downstairs and therefore unsupervised, she secretly julienned zucchini and yellow squash for a pizza. i got kind of mad that she was using it again, but what can i do? she’s a chef, she needs to express herself through her culinary creations and has vowed to never, ever use the mandolin slicer without the guard again. i, on the other hand, am investigating blade-resistant gloves.

this concludes what i hope will be the bloodiest lunch at 11:30 post ever. if you fainted, you can wake up now. here are two funny captioned hamster pictures to help ease you back into consciousness.

funny hamster picture

funny hamster picture 2

haha. until next time! happy 2013! and if you need to use a mandolin slicer USE THE DAMN GUARD.

p.s. if you live in the baltimore area, be sure to pick up the current issue of baltimore bride, which features my essay, “Four Weddings And a Referendum: A love story about two women and their many weddings,” which chronicles our multiple nuptials (including some of the less-than-perfect things that happened on the way to our first wedding–the BFGW, if you will. kind of like the “dvd extras” you never got to read the first time around.) the entire issue is pretty goshdarn gorgeous and i’m honored to be a part of it. (plus they drew a picture of us!)

holly and i as CARTOONS!

us! as cartoons! (look at my shiny hair! FABULOUS!)

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not taking xanax on my 30-minute flight to pittsburgh was a really bad idea

the third installment of what i did this summer.*

*(two to three more installments to follow.)
**(part 1 is over here. part 2 is over there.)
***(can we start now? good.)

if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may recall that just over a year ago, i bought a holiday sweater from chico’s, got a prescription for xanax, and boarded a plane to san francisco for my dear friend nicole‘s wedding.

(then i proceeded to wear that sweater–which was both unseasonal and inappropriately sparkly–to her pre-wedding party, burning out several people’s retinas in the process. SORRY ABOUT THAT.)

anyway, a couple weeks before leaving, i called my doctor saying i was nervous about the flight and could she prescribe something gentle and extremely low dose to help calm me down before and during my trip.

“xanax,” she said without skipping a beat.

she explained that it was the lowest dose available on the market, and i could even just take half.

i picked up the little white pills at the pharmacy later that day and stared at them. LORD, i thought. i must really love nicole because i do not want to take these pills nor do i want to take this flight. 

(and i do love her!!! hi, nicole! mwah!)

i decided to do a “test run” at home, and took one (well, half, ok i’m a sissy and actually only took half) on a sunday afternoon as holly and i were watching a movie on the couch.

my immediate urge was, of course, to gag myself and throw it up. but alas, as a neurotic jewish control freak, i avoid throwing up at all costs, so gagging myself was not an option and i was stuck there on the couch with the xanax melting in my stomach.

i immediately started to panic. kind of like that one time i took caffeine pills i found in a freebie welcome-to-college pack when i was a freshman and collapsed on the floor next to my sleeping roommate.

“it’s ok, babe,” holly said, her eyes fixed on whatever annoying action-comedy she had chosen. “you’ll be fine.”

and…i was fine. i was actually fine! it felt more like my old migraine medicine, but better. it just sort of…took the edge off. and it worked perfectly on my flight. except for when it wore off somewhere over colorado but we’re not going there right now.

so when holly bugged me til i agreed to let her mom book me a flight to pittsburgh a couple months ago–while holly was there helping her gram–i was like, ok, yeah sure. i can do this. i’ll take a xanax, i’ll be fine. 

but then i started thinking stupid things like: wait. do i really want to use xanax as a crutch like this? it’s just a half-hour flight. i can do it. i want to see how i actually am on a flight. maybe i’m not that bad anymore. it’s just half an hour.

folks, this was deranged thinking. a half-hour flight is still a half hour flight! you still have to board the friggin plane, sit the hell down, wait a long time for it to take off. then you have to take off (omg i hate taking off), fly and land.

i woke up at 5am nervous as hell, even though my flight was at 4pm,  so i started off my day by downloading a bunch of songs from itunes on my new iphone to calm me down on the plane. they were what some might call comfort songs. the musical equivalent of…toast with jam. a slice of your favorite pizza. birthday cake. ok carbs. they were the musical equivalent of carbs.

here’s what i purchased:

(i’ve had) the time of my life (yes, from dirty dancing)
waiting for a star to fall (yes, 80s)
so emotional (yes, whitney houston, yes, 80s)
i wanna dance with somebody (yes, whitney, yes more 80s)
bette davis eyes (and yet…more 80s!) (that is one DAMN GOOD SONG btw)
hammer and a nail (yes, indigo girls; yes, very lesbionic of me, i know)
now or never (gotta throw a little dance in there, too) (also a GREAT SONG)

so. i get on the plane. and i get a seat right in the middle on the wing like i wanted. and this businesslady is sitting next to me. she’s in sales and flys all the time and i’m totally making her talk to me even though it’s clear she’s really not interested.

i mention that i’m a nervous flyer but decided i didn’t want to take xanax.

“i just don’t want to use it as a crutch, you know?” i tell her.

she looks at me and smiles politely, as if to say: lady, i really wish you would have taken your xanax. i’m really doubting my decision to sit next to you.

she assures me that the flight is short. you’re up, you’re down, you’re there.

then it starts to rain. hard. and i fear there’s lightning. there’s only one thing that scares me more than flying and it’s lightning. but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

anyway, the storm passes and we finally move onto the runway. convinced the roar of the jet engines will cover it up, i start doing deep breathing exercises. we lift off the ground and suddenly i realize:

THIS WAS THE STUPIDEST IDEA OF MY LIFE. I REALLY SHOULD HAVE TAKEN XANAX.

i start frantically searching for my homeopathic stress spray and dammit i’m out! i’m spraying it in my mouth and…NOTHING. JESUS MARY JOSEPH WHY DIDN’T I BUY MORE OF THIS WHERE THE HELL IS MY XANAX.

and then, out the window, maybe a few hundred feet from the plane:

LIGHTNING.

HOLY G-D GET ME OFF THIS PLANE I AM GOING TO DIE.

at this point, i think the grumpy-ish sales lady begins hearing my deep breathing exercises and so she starts to make conversation with me. this helps a little. i thank her and start to calm down.

they make an announcement that we can turn on our electronic devices so i bust out my new iphone and my brand-new, never-before-used earphones.

i decide i’m more in the mood for dance music, so i choose “now or never.” (don’t ask me why, sometimes pounding dance music calms me down.)

i put in my earphones and crank up the tunes except for…i can barely hear it.

man these damn jet engines are loud, i think as i turn it up. and up. and up. til it won’t go up any louder. DAMMIT I WANT TO HEAR THIS SONG WHAT THE HELL.

a guy turns around in the row in front of me and gives me a dirty look. i glare back at him as if to say WHAT MOTHERF*CKER?! YOU NEVER HEARD A JEWISH GIRL FROM JERSEY DO DEEP BREATHING EXERCISES ON A PLANE BEFORE? I JUST SAW LIGHTENING I’M ABOUT TO FLIP MY SH*T DON’T TEMPT ME I LIVE IN BALTIMORE NOW AND I WILL CUT YOU AND PULL OUT YOUR WEAVE.

never mind that he wasn’t wearing a weave. but if he was i would have pulled it out to set an example for the plane.

i feel a tap on my shoulder. it’s the grumpy-ish saleslady.

she leans towards me.

“we can hear that,” she says, smiling.

i look around the plane. everyone’s looking at me. this one lady across the aisle, she’s looking at me, smiling as if to say, sweetie, it’s ok. we all know you’re nervous. you obviously don’t know how to use your iphone yet. 

my face gets hot. ohmygosh. i didn’t have my earphones plugged completely in my iphone. MY PHONE WAS BLASTING DANCE MUSIC AT FULL CAPACITY.

it was really loud. i can’t emphasize this enough.

i quickly hit pause, take out my earphones and explain to the saleslady that i got an iphone like a week ago and i was still figuring out how to use it. there are still a lot of people looking at me. i suddenly feel bad about thinking how i was going to cut that guy and pull out his non-existent weave.

i thank her for alerting me, push the earphones in and start listening to “waiting for a star to fall,” wishing i could disappear.  i’m suddenly extremely grateful i hadn’t been blasting “i had the time of my life.” i mean, can you imagine??

not even five minutes later, they announce we’re starting our descent into pittsburgh and to please turn off our electronic devices.

the grumpy-ish saleslady has her eyes closed with her head back and she’s still laughing. i kind of want to pull out her weave but her hair looks real.

we land in pittsburgh. my half-hour ride is over. i’m chilly with sweat. i vow to myself: never ever again without xanax. never. again. without. xanax.

this is what happened when i met jennifer weiner

if there’s one thing you need to know about me–besides my penchant for frosty lipstick, eternal love for madonna and the fact that i’ve married holly like 100 times–it’s that i’m a jennifer weiner superfan.

she’s pretty much my literary idol. so when i saw she was coming to philly’s head house books, i made it my personal business to rearrange my schedule so i could be there. two hours early. with my mom. and snacks in my bag in case i got hungry.

i introduced myself to the the bookstore worker, who proved to be both patient and kind as she listened to me blubber about how excited i was to meet my fave author.

“there’s only two people i want to meet in this world,” i breathlessly told her as she stood trapped behind the counter. “jennifer weiner and madonna. and i’m not sure if i even want to meet madonna because there’s a good chance she might be kind of mean.”

once that came out of my mouth there was no taking it back. i was that person. i was the overly excited fan waiting around to meet the star. but i didn’t even care.

“oh yeah! and this is my mom!”

yup. i really was that person. and i brought my mom! all i was missing was a star wars t-shirt and a juice box.

in my former life as a journalist, i interviewed rock stars, television personalities, politicians, federal officials, heads of state (ok i totally made that last one up but i know people that’ve interviewed heads of state–does that count??) and i’ve never, ever been as nervous to meet/talk to anyone ever in my life.

jen (despite my distaste for using nicknames when you don’t really know someone, i’m going to call her “jen” because everyone kept referring to her as that) and fellow fab author liz moore did a great job speaking to the audience, which had grown to fill the entire store.

as soon they were done, i made a beeline for jen.

“hi! i’m jessica,” i said, putting out my hand for her to shake.

“hi, jessica!” she said, smiling as she shook my hand. “it’s nice to meet you.”

don’t faint don’t faint don’t faint. do. not.  faint. i told myself.

a lightening speed battle between the dorky side of my brain (you know, the side with the juice box and star wars t-shirt) and the sensible side commenced.

this is your big chance! the sensible side shouted. this is what you daydream about! you’re meeting your literary idol! say something meaningful and witty about your writing background. don’t say “i’m a writer, too!” because hello, everyone tells their favorite author they’re “a writer, too.” make yourself stand out from the crowd!

say something cool! the dorky side shouted back. TELL HER YOU LOVE HER! wait! don’t tell her you love her because that would be weird because you don’t actually know her. maybe you should ask her out for coffee? no wait, don’t do that. wait…no, you definitely should. yeah, see if she wants to get coffee! there’s a great place just down the street!

no! absolutely do not ask her out for coffee! the sensible side advised. say something clever. be friendly but not overly friendly. pretend like you’re about to interview her. act cool, you’re a professional! 

so what did i wind up saying?

“ohmygoshican’tbelievei’mactuallymeetingyou. i think…i think i might faint. i’m a writer, too!”

niiiice.

dorky side: 1. sensible side: 0.

then i started to sweat and my mouth went dry, at which point the sensible side of my brain threw its hands up and left me alone with my dorky side, which took a noisy sip from its cranberry juice box, delighted to take over completely.

unfazed, she laughed, obviously used to weirdo superfans like me, and said no, don’t faint, it’s ok.

i felt the heat of the crowd behind me. i had to act fast and turn this thing around.

i told her i came in from baltimore to see her, that i was a former journalist, had a blog and brought my old paperback copy of “good in bed” for her to sign. then she asked me what kind of blog i had.

“it’s a humor blog,” i said, sounding completely devoid of humor.

this was a trainwreck. i watched as she signed my book. the clock was ticking. my time with one of the people i most wanted to meet in this world was quickly coming to an end and i had to make an impression other than Potentially Psycho I’m-A-Writer-Too! SuperFan. and, without warning, who comes to my rescue?

my mom.

suddenly she was over my shoulder–hell, i didn’t even realize she was behind me anymore!–and sang my praises as only a jewish mother from new jersey can.

“there’s something my daughter neglected to tell you,” my mom said in all her proud jewish mother glory. “she was in the It Gets Better book!”

YES MOM YES! i totally forgot about that! yes i was published in an actual book! that made me sound way less crazy!

jen looked up and said she loved the it gets better project, and that her and her siblings were going to be making a video. then she asked for my card.

jennifer weiner asked for my business card. 

i died a thousands small deaths. right there. i really did. i took a card out of my bag and put it on the table, at which point she tucked it away and said she’d check out my blog. 

the dorky side of my brain and my sensible side did one of those running/jumping shoulder-bump things that guys do. then the dorky side did the running man and the sensible side shook its head and walked away.

leave it to a mom to be your best publicist. she totally saved the day. not to mention a) happily agreeing to arrive at the bookstore ridiculously early b) tirelessly keeping me company while c) simultaneously not judging me for being overly excited.

since that day, almost three weeks ago, i’ve felt that special kind of peace that only comes with checking a life goal off your list. now all i have to do is go to a madonna concert (ACTUALLY HAPPENING THIS SEPT *goosebumps!*), have a baby and publish a book. oh and also go to england and ireland. and an organic spa with holly in arizona or new mexico (do those even exist?). and take a road trip with holly to visit my great uncle ben in florida. not necessarily in that order, but those are the biggies.

anyway, i may have acted like a complete dork, but at least i got out there, stepped up to the plate and met my number one superstar. so jen, if you’re reading this, thank you for your kindness–and for not backing away from me.

yours truly,
jessica leshnoff, superfan
baltimore, md

part five: vermont just might be the best place on earth to get married, especially if you love dairy.

you're in maple country, bee-otch!

the 5th and final chapter of a multipart series about our 3-weddings-3-states-1-day BFGW anniversary extravaganza (click here for part 1)

so where were we? ah, yes. connecticut. the second stop in our three-weddings-in-one-day wedding blitz. where we kind-of-almost got married in the rain by a smoking justice of the peace and her effeminate male colleague.

before connecticut, we got married in new york (city), where i managed to cry yet again, despite a run-in with a lisping super-psycho anderson cooper fan the day before and the fact that i cheesed out of telling everyone i invented post-its at my big fat jersey high school reunion two days before that.

so the smoking justice of the peace and her effeminate male colleague wish us luck and we run, we literally run–like we’re on a gay version of that one show, i forget what the hell it’s called…where coupled contestants compete in this round-the-world competition…except instead of whatever they’re racing to do, we’re racing to get married in as many states as we can before 5pm–back to the car, which is parked across the street from the harford city hall. luckily there’s no hobos or pan handlers to fight off this time (ok this is starting to sound like a really weird kind of lame urban-gay video game).we get in and go go go to vermont!

we decided to get married in an artsy little town called brattleboro, which sits just over the vermont state line. (see map below.) at this point, it was like…2pm. and while brattleboro is only about 85 miles from harford, we were somewhat concerned about making it there in time. since we were in a rush, i decided it was probably a bad time to tell holly i was hungry, so instead i ate uninspired car snacks like sunflower seeds (gag) and mini pretzels (gag) with a applesauce chaser (GAG). but i figured getting married again was way more important than, say, finding a starbucks, so i decided to suck it up and help us navigate even though the ride was basically one road and one turn.

location A is harford. location B is brattleboro. i tried to make the picture bigger but i couldn't, so stop complaining i did the best i could.

i didn’t know what to expect in vermont, as i’d never been there before. i really only knew a couple things about vermont: 1) maple syrup and 2) our friend christina whose family owns a maple syrup farm there. so yeah. basically maple syrup.

as we drove through the rest of boring connecticut and then the entire state of massachusetts (another supremely hard-to-spell state name), i crunched on my bad car snacks wondering what there was to do in vermont besides get married and eat local artisan foods containing maple syrup. then i remembered ben & jerry’s is headquartered in vermont. and cabot creamery, which makes a mean cheddar. the answer became crystal clear: indulge in dairy. i was really starting to like vermont and we hadn’t even gotten there yet.

so we roll into little brattleboro at around 4pm and i swear the place looks like a friggin postcard. it honestly made me feel proud to be an american. how i could have lived in this country so long without going to vermont? i wondered while silently chastising myself for not only living in smelly baltimore, but allowing myself to grow up in northern new jersey without ever at least trying to convince my parents to drop me off in vermont and grow up there instead.

it didn’t take too long before we found the brattleboro town hall, a picturesque historic-looking building on top of a little hill. being from baltimore (and in a hurry), we of course parked illegally in an adjacent parking lot, figuring we probably wouldn’t get a ticket, and even if we did, we were in vermont, how much would it really be? like, a quarter?? you tell me the one person you know that got a parking ticket in vermont. my point exactly.

we arrive in the town clerk’s office and the ladies were so nice to us i almost fainted. i’m not even kidding. as it turns out, the town clerk that issued our marriage license was the town clerk that issued the country’s very first same-sex civil union! if there’s a rock star award for town clerk, this woman totally gets it.

she provides a list of justices of the peace for us and holly starts calling them while i blabber to the clerk and her assistant about our exciting day. i’m not sure if i told them we went to the anderson cooper show the day before, i might have. i  was kind of telling them everything, i was that excited.

holly finds a justice of the peace and before we know it, she arrives. we tell her we’d just like a simple ceremony, maybe outside? so the group of us ladies all go outside the brattleboro town hall on the top of the hill and we decide to stand under this pretty little lone tree.

it was a great view from up there. we were surrounded by all these rolling hills and it felt like we could see the whole town. we made it, i kept thinking. we’re really doing this. 

we took off our rings for the second time that day, and handed them to the justice of the peace. as she started the ceremony, i got teary–again.

we took each other’s hands and looked into each other’s eyes, so far from baltimore, so many years–almost 11–since that night we met at 17th & Q. i’ll marry you 47 more times if i have to, i thought with a lump in my throat.

we legally pledged our love to each other for the second time that day, and placed our wedding rings back on each other’s ring fingers.

i would have loved the opportunity to share a photo or two with you guys, but all the photos the town clerk (annette) took during the ceremony with holly’s cellphone–ugh i can’t even stand to write this–were deleted somehow, we don’t even know when or why it happened. i can assure you, however, that my hair was likely pretty huge by that point, my eyes were watery and there’s the distinct possibility that i had a erstwhile sunflower seed somewhere on my sweater. the fact that holly still wanted to marry me again by that point is a testament to her love for me. (haha. ok, that made me laugh out loud.)

we thanked and said goodbye to the justice of the peace and the wonderful ladies in the brattleboro town clerks office (if you’re somehow reading this, a big giant hug to you guys!!! you made our day that much more special), and, with our new marriage license in our hands (the second of the day!), we jumped back in the car (NO TICKET!) and went to find the bed and breakfast we were going to stay at. (it’s called 40 Putney Road–highly recommended!)

the innkeepers suggested we celebrate at a restaurant called L.A. Burdick just over the state line in nearby walpole, new hampshire. i was like, new hampshire! get outta here! (like vermont, neither of us had ever been there before)

i’m telling you, this place was fabulous. plus they make chocolate there. we told the waitress about our day and before we knew it, the chef sent out special appetizers and champagne to help us celebrate. we were like, what the heck is it with these friggin new england people?? everyone here is so nice!!!! after our meal, she brought out a slice of…i think it was chocolate mousse cake? with candles!!! i was like, oh my gosh. it was pretty much the best chocolate anything i’ve ever eaten. it was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

to hell with connecticut, i thought. it’s almost impossible to spell anyway.

“two outta three ain’t bad, babe,” i said, lifting my champagne glass.

“two outta three ain’t bad at all,” holly said, lifting her glass.

“to us!” she said.

“to us!” i repeated as we clinked glasses.

only holly actually sipped her champagne, as i’m apparently an old jewish lady now with acid indigestion irritated by champagne, fresh cantaloupe and don’t even get me started about fresh pineapple do not get me started.

now we hold our breath that maryland will become the eighth state to legalize same-sex marriage. it looks like it’ll be up to the public to decide. so if you live in maryland and you support same-sex couples like holly and i, get out to the polls and VOTE VOTE VOTE so we can finally get married right here in our HOME STATE.

if you have friends or family in maryland that are on the fence about same-sex marriage, send them here. one of the reasons i started this blog was and still is to show people just how normal we are. just as i told the CNS reporter the other day, we’re just a normal couple. mind-numbingly normal, actually. we go to the supermarket, we go to starbucks, we fall asleep watching movies on the couch. (some “gay agenda” right?) all we want is the chance to get married here in maryland so we can enjoy the same legal rights that other married couples do.

so there you go, folks! three states, 2.5 marriages, one day–and all between the hours of 9am and 5pm. (watch out, connecticut! we’re coming back for you!)

part four: connecticut kind of sucks, and not just b/c it’s almost impossible to spell

part 4 of a multipart series about our 3-weddings-3-states-1-day BFGW anniversary extravaganza (click here for part 1)

holly determined the best place for us to get married in connecticut was hartford. i just asked her why and she said she doesn’t really remember, which seems appropriate for a city that’s fairly forgettable in a state that’s not only nearly impossible to spell but can’t decide if it’s part of the tri-state area or new england.

yeah i’m bitter about connecticut. i’ll tell you why in a minute.

since holly’s not interested in giving me input here, i recall she zeroed in on hartford b/c of its central location and the fact that it was on interstate 91, a great but boring road that crossed thru all of our wedding blitz states.

so we get on the road just minutes after our first wedding of the day, our mouths and hands full of sandwiches and chips we bought near the brooklyn municipal building. i had both of our cellphone GPS systems going so two different julies were telling us where to go.

i call any sort of “GPS lady” julie after julie the automated amtrak lady.

(back when i used to call amtrak in the late 90s/early 00s, an automated lady used to come on and say “hi! i’m julie!” it was always kind of fun to scream “AGENT!!! I WANT TO TALK TO AN AGENT!!!!!” right off the bat. unfailingly chipper, she’d say, “i…think i heard you say you’d like to talk to an agent. is that correct?” and then i’d yell back, “YES! AN AGENT! I’D LIKE TO TALK TO AN AGENT, JULIE!”)

(this is what i did for fun before texting & facebook.)

(holy crap now i feel kind of bad bc i just googled “amtrak julie” and found this article. there’s actually a lady named julie that does the amtrak julie voice and she seems really nice! damn. now i kind of feel like a jerk.)

anyway, after about 90 minutes on interstate 91 with our two talking julies, we saw a drab skyline appear.

“babe!” i shouted. “that must be hartford! it looks…it looks…so…boring! i can’t wait to get married there!”

we roll into hartford and quickly find the city’s municipal building. as soon as we park, sketchy panhandlers came up to us asking for money. this confused me.

isn’t everyone in connecticut supposed to be rich? i asked holly, who shrugged, dodged the panhandlers, got a parking ticket thingy to put on our dashboard and told me to hurry up and finish putting on your lipstick already, we still need to get to vermont blah blah blah i blocked the rest out.

so we run past some kind of hartford PR event (oh i am SO glad i don’t do that for a living anymore!) into a room with a bunch of cashiers and tell the lady behind the glass we want to get married. she points at paperwork and we get to it.

we need a justice of the peace, so the lady gives us a few cards for local justices of the peace. yes, justices of the peace have business cards. it felt weird to me, too. 

as she starts typing everything up, we start calling the justices of the peace (ok, i’m just gonna stop and clear the air: “justices of the peace” sounds weird. it’s been the elephant in the room since three sentences ago) leaving voicemails like, hi, we’re holly & jessica and we need a justice of the peace in like five minutes. can you make it?

i don’t know where the hell all the justices of the peace were. it’s not like there’s that much going on in hartford.

once again, we start to panic. no actually i start to panic. holly doesn’t panic much, unless, of course, i push her to the brink of panic with my new jersey-induced neuroses, which i’ve never done so shut up. i’m jewish, it’s in my genes, i can’t even help it.

she tells me she’ll be right back and walks out of the room with all the cashier windows (what does one call a room like that? i have no idea). i refresh my facebook newsfeed every two seconds until she comes back five minutes later.

“i found a justice of the peace, babe. she’s meeting us outside in five minutes.”

you see why i keep marrying holly? INGENUITY. turns out there was a justice of the peace somewhere else in the building and she actually found her. leave it to holly to find a justice of the peace when you really need one.

just when everything seemed to be going so smoothly, we hit a snag. (cue the record scratching and the silverware clinking)

the cashier lady looks down at the paper and then back at us.

you’re already married to each other? she asks.

yes, we say. in washington, dc, and we got married again this morning in new york. 

not surprisingly, she goes to get her supervisor. who, of course, is unnecessarily grumpy.

grumpy supervisor: so you’re renewing your vows?

us: no, we’re getting married to each other. again.

grumpy supervisor: right, you’re renewing your vows.

us: no. we’re getting married.

grumpy supervisor: but you’re already married to each other. 

us: right. but we’re doing it again.

grumpy supervisor: why?

us: because we’re celebrating our anniversary by marrying each other in three states in one day.

grumpy supervisor: (confused look)

us: until same-sex marriage is federally recognized, we’re going to keep marrying each other in every state we possibly can.

grumpy supervisor: (still looking confused) well you can’t do that here. because you’re already married somewhere else. 

holly: but someone in this office told me last week we could.

grumpy supervisor: well that person didn’t talk to me. 

we went back and forth a little bit more until this we decided this woman wasn’t interested in taking our money and giving us a piece of paper.

that’s when i decided i didn’t like connecticut.

i mean, i never really had feelings about connecticut before, other than it seemed like a boring state that didn’t have much to offer other than…hell i don’t even know. it was kind of like skim milk: never really impressed me, would rather avoid it if i could.

fuming mad, we left the building. it was starting to rain and the justice of the peace was waiting outside for us, smoking a cigarette with an effeminate male colleague. (writing that just made me laugh. i don’t even know why.)

“you gals ready?” she said, raspy-voiced and smiling. she reminded me of ladies in our neighborhood.

we sighed and told her what happened. she furrowed her brow, blew some smoke and said that was ridiculous and that the city ought to just take our money.

she put out her cigarette and told us that by the powers vested in her by the state of connecticut, she pronounced us married.

so we were half-married in connecticut. it was better than nothing.

we said thank you and ran back to the car.

“happy anniversary!” they shouted, blowing smoke out into the rain. “good luck!”

(so many complete strangers wished us well that day. it was really touching.)

i mentally gave the entire state the middle finger as we drove away but then felt bad since connecticut actually passed same-sex marriage, which is more than i can say for our home state of maryland right now. plus i really liked the smoking justice of the peace (and her effeminate male colleague!) and she was in connecticut. so instead i gave it a ross & monica finger, which seemed not as bad, and told holly to step on it. it was already 2pm and we had to get to the brattleboro, vermont courthouse before 5pm.

ok i just lied. i’d never tell holly to “step on it.” (who even says that??)  i think i actually told her not to go too fast b/c i didn’t want us to get a speeding ticket. then she pretended not to hear me and went 80mph anyway.

ready to get your maple syrup on and get hitched in vermont? i asked.

hell’s yeah i am, holly said.

come hell or high water, we were going to have at least two weddings in one day. it was on like donkey kong, folks. we were doing this.

part two: it’s cold & bright on the set of the anderson cooper show

"hi, i'm anderson. i know it's cold here, but my smoldering eyes will keep you warm ."

part 2 of a multipart series about our 3-weddings-3-states-1-day BFGW anniversary extravaganza (click here for part 1)

we determined the most sensible thing to do after my big fat jersey high school reunion was, of course, go to a taping of the anderson cooper show.

i mean, what else are you supposed to do after an evening saying things like oh yeah! i totally knew that was your identical twin! (twice!) and yeah yeah! i totally meant to wear jeggings while the rest of you beeotches had to wear GOWNS.

the next morning, before getting on the road to nyc, we hit the ritz diner, where we ate unnaturally large, fresh cheese blintzes (delicious) while holly joyfully discovered taylor ham. (as a non-pork-eater, i’d never tried it.) no one at the diner could actually explain what taylor ham was, which, personally, would worry me a little. this did not bother holly one bit, as she announced to the cashier that she’d like to get some for her family for christmas.

anyway, yes, anderson. anderson cooper is holly’s gay boyfriend. as soon as his new show hit the air and she found out it taped in manhattan, she decided we needed to go. being a planner, i.e. the one in our relationship who’s able to plan beyond what’s for lunch that day, she got free tickets like a month in advance. we were pretty  psyched.

we rolled into the park slope neighborhood of brooklyn, i.e. the place where almost everyone i’ve ever known from every facet of my life–i’m talkin jewish sleepaway camp, middle school, college, first jobs, you name it–lives, sunday afternoon to stay with our fabulous friends meredith & tiffany, who are basically famous for being one of the first same-sex couples to marry in new york. they also both have great hair and seem too attractive to actually be gay. (sorry to go there but i’m gay and i’m totally going there)

to add insult to injury they’re able to run up to their fifth-floor walk-up with vegan-food-stuffed reusable grocery bags, laundry and bikes all strapped to their backs while holly and i basically had small heart attacks every single time we went up there while each carrying a single ikea pillow.

whatever. we live in baltimore. we dodge bullets. we feed stray pitbulls. we…oh hell. we stay inside hiding all day. that’s why we’re both out of shape and i have a vitamin D deficiency.

so of course i wake up monday morning, holly’s big day, w/a five-alarm migraine–the kind where i can’t even eat or look at a ray of sunlight–and we get to the building where his show tapes just as the last elevators went up.

“sorry, ladies,” the fancy elevator guy told us. “you just missed the last elevators up to the show. you’ll have to wait on standby.”

it was like i could hear holly’s heart literally breaking. i felt so bad. i obsessed over how bad i felt until anderson’s psycho fans came along and then started obsessing about how the hell i could get away from them while staying in line.

first, a disheveled looking lady came up to the surprisingly friendly elevator guy to tell him she had “a message” for anderson. and that she needed to go upstairs to give it to him since she couldn’t find his email address on the website anymore. i kept wanting someone to tackle her bc she was holding a lot of bags. (hello! bombs!)

then a lispsy gray-haired guy came up to us and asked us 10 million times how we got tickets for the show even tho he said he had tickets for the next day. then, while holly was in the bathroom, he had me take a photo of him standing next to a photo of anderson. then he asked the elevator guy if the fact that he worked on a cruise ship would get him up there while i covered my hands in antibacterial gel bc i had touched his camera.

then the crown jewel of psycho male anderson fans came along: this mustached middle aged dude with an on-and-off-again yarmulke (i.e. the little skullcap jewish, mostly orthodox, men wear on their heads). he immediately honed in on holly as a friendly bystander and started loudly singing to oldies to her. i was rude to him, of course, i don’t even remember what i said, i just wanted him to go away. then holly got mad at me bc i’m always freaking on the crazies.

you only make them crazier, she hissed thru her teeth. even tho i told her she was wrong, i knew she was right. but it was too late. the damage was done and, to be completely honest, he really did just get crazier. in the meantime, bc of my pounding headache, everything seemed very loud and very bright. things were not, as you might say, off to a great start.

our luck changed fast tho. the elevator doors opened–DING! “ok, they have room for four more,” the elevator guy said. “you guys are in.”

YES. things were getting better.

we got into the elevator and crazy mustache yarmulke man asked the poor anderson cooper lady that happened to be in there already a million questions until we got up to the 5th floor.

we wound up sitting in a balcony above and off to the side of stage for the first segment while mustache man stood not sat two inches behind me, breathing on my hair while simultaneously waving to anderson like he was on a navy ship about to set sail for five years.

despite the little voice in my head that warned me not to freak out on him, i finally turned around and whisper-yelled, directly into his face, can you move back??? then he loudly mumbled about how i act just like his bitch sister-in-law and then i prayed for the remainder of the segment that he wouldn’t hit me on the head with a chair.

we moved down to the main area for the rest of the segments. i should note that the set of his show, like all big television sets, i suspect, is outrageously cold. i’m usually five to seven degrees warmer than everyone else around me so this is really saying something. it’s also pretty much the brightest place on earth. not the best place to have a migraine, is all i’m saying.

and of course! of course anderson had to stand right next to us for what felt like half of the damn penn state show (it was a special on the penn state sex abuse scandal). i kept telling myself to keep my head up so i wouldn’t have a double chin on air but i knew it was useless so i focused on the view outside and my relief that psycho mustache man wasn’t behind me breathing into my hair and comparing me to his sister-in-law who probably isn’t as much of a bitch as he says she is.

we had a pretty good time, all things considered. kathy griffin (LOVE HER) showed up for a new year’s segment and they practiced slicing champagne bottles open with knives. and his fabulous mom, gloria vanderbilt, suddenly appeared. i kept wanting to tell them all we were getting married three times the next day but i figured i’d hold it in bc anderson would be reading it here on my blog anyway.

anyway, if you happened to see the penn state show, that zombie girl with the ponytail, double chin and massively dilated pupils next to anderson is me. and i was totally wearing the sweater i wore to my big fat reunion, so if you were there and you saw me on tv i don’t want to even hear about it.

i stepped in great dane poop & lived to tell about it

*this post is dedicated to my sister-in-law heather who hasn’t been feeling well lately and could sure as hell use a good laugh.

my sister-in-law heather–the very same one i’m writing this post for–lives on a friggin hillside in washington, PA. don’t ask me why but she does. i swear every time we drive up her driveway i almost have a heart attack. it’s that steep. after we park, i ask holly if we have the emergency brake on so many times she gets this close to elbowing me in the mouth. yeah every trip to heather’s starts off really well.

washington, PA is a unique place in that every single person in western pennsylvania actually calls it “washington, pee-ay” as not to confuse it with our nation’s capitol–what, with all the cows grazing all over the place, i can see how that’d be really confusing–or washington state, which is about 4,000 miles away on the west coast practically in canada.

over the weekend, on sunday, holly and i drove to washington, pee-ay to meet her family at a mud pit and deep-fried food festival disguised as a christmas arts & crafts fair. after eating a late lunch at the washington, pee-ay reb robin (reeeeeed robin. yuuummmmm. sorry, every time i think about red robin i have to sing their jingle), holly went with her mom, twin sister, niece and nephew to some outlets. since i kind of hate shopping (that’s my gay gene rearing its boat-shoe-and-chino-wearing head), i said i’d rather go to heather’s to hang with holly’s gram, who was going back to heather’s, too, and who is fabulous.

holly politely asked me to drive our car back to heather’s. i snapped at her that i didn’t want to b/c the country roads are too damn windy and i’d get lost and maybe even have a panic attack following her sister to the house and i didn’t know where my xanax was. (total lie. i’ve kept it in my bag ever since i flew to san fran for nicole‘s wedding. i know exactly where the hell it is.)

c’mon, babe, she said, her impatience growing. it’s only like five minutes away. that way i can go in the car with my mom.

i said no until holly was good and pissed and then i said yes. i do that a lot even tho i shouldn’t.

i managed to follow heather and her gram back to the house on the windy roads without having a panic attack. we got up to the house and i was like oh beejesus, the driveway. i had totally forgotten about the damn driveway.

well here we go, i thought as i gunned our pearlescent white rav-4 up the hill. (yes it really is pearlescent white.) tho it kind of looked like a rolling turd considering how much craft fair mud was on it.

there were all these damn cars in the driveway so i had to park on the grass. i chose a bad place to park. at that moment i didn’t realize just how bad it was, but from the outset i knew it wasn’t a good idea but i didn’t know what else to do. i felt like the car was going to roll over and tumble down the hill. i rolled down the window and asked her husband if it was an ok place to park. he told me to watch out for the dog shit, which i assumed meant the car wouldn’t flip.

whatevs, i thought. i can a handle a little dog poop. hell, i live in southeast baltimore. home of loose pit bulls that crap in the middle of the sidewalk.

i got out of the car, careful not to let the gravity of the hillside slam the car door on me. (note: this has happened before. it’s not pretty.) i got out to look at the car and see about this dog poop.

i should note that they have a great dane. her name is lena and she is enormous. i love her deeply but she scares the hell out of me. we’re basically scared of each other. i walk in the house and she runs from me. and when she comes near me i run from her. it’s like a game except we’re both scared for our lives.

anyway, her poop was so big it literally took my breath away. i’d never seen dog poop that big in my life. kind of hard to miss, i thought. not gonna step in that. no way no how. i am totally in the clear. you’d have to be a major idiot not to see that.

i walked back around to the other side of the car to help gram up the hill. and then it happened. i put my left foot down and slipped. it happened so damn quickly it was like i stepped on a banana peel. it was like a cartoon.

whoooaaaaaaaa, i said, feeling like it was happening in slow motion. i had to grab heather’s arm to stop myself from tumbling down the hill and in the process almost took down heather, her baby and her grandma.

“that is some serious mu-,” i said, turning around to look at the mud i surely had stepped in.

it wasn’t mud.

i had stepped in the world’s largest pile of dog poop. in my new boots.

there was massive streak of great dane poop about two feet long leading from where i was standing at that moment straight back to the car. and it was deep.

a shiver went down my spine and then i got goosebumps. i was trying very hard a) not to gag and b) not to curse as there was an impressionable baby in front of me, not to mention holly’s 82-year-old grandma who doesn’t know what a cursing sicko i am.

instead of bursting into a tourette’s-like stream of swearing, i shook off my nausea and let out a very unsatisfying  “oh man.”  it was very hard to hold in all that cursing and i think i injured myself in the process.

i wiped my shoe off in the grass but i don’t even know if i got it all off. nearly a week later, there’s still something on my left boot. it could be craft fair mud, i’m not even sure.

i’m trying to figure out how to end this story. i feel like there should be a moral. i guess the moral of the damn story is that it’s easy to step in dog poop, even when it’s so big it’s basically visible from space. don’t think it won’t happen to you.

heather, i hope you enjoyed this story and that it made you feel better. i’d put in a smile “emoticon” here but the damn blogging software i’m using will turn it into a cartoon smiley and then this looks like a ‘tween blog. i love you and i still love lena even tho she’s the size of a small horse and her poop is huge and i stepped in it and almost fell down a hill and when i see her i want to suck my thumb while rocking back and forth in the corner.

important sidenote!

i’ve been nominated as “Best Lifestyle Blog” AND “Best Personal Blog” in the Baltimore Sun’s annual blog competition!

for Lunch at 11:30 to win, you have to VOTE for it! every day! (yes, you really can vote everyday!) so click on the icon below, register (it takes like 10 seconds to register) and then choose Lunch at 11:30 for both “Best Lifestyle Blog” and “Best Personal Blog.” then write it in for “Best Overall Blog.” xxo!

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