tiaras optional

"My only argument is with those who do not view the world as cynically as I do." Michael Korda

Friday, March 31, 2006

A Fine Example of Just How Cool I Am

Last night, I was in the kitchen trying to scrounge around and find something to make for dinner. Lord Kissington was sitting on the couch watching Jeopardy, and he called out to that there was an art history category (Lady Tiara loves her some art history). They flash a picture on the screen and before Alex Trebek can even finish reading the answer, I scream, “Holbein. Holbein. Hans fucking Holbein.” And none of the people get it, so I mutter under my breath, “Idiots.” Apparently, this is why no one will watch Jeopardy with me.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Spain Vignette 2: Ceasefire

When we were in Spain, I kept thinking I was hearing people say my name. Now, I know they weren’t actually saying my name, because as far as I know, my name is not at all common in Spain*, and I don’t know anyone there, except a friend I lost touch with over 10 years ago. So, I figured there must be a Spanish word that sounds like my name. Well, there is. Only it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. You see, there is this paramilitary organization that wants independence for the Basques. I’ve known a bit about this group due to an interest in Basque culture and the very good book The Basque History of the World. They are called Euskadi Ta Askatasuna or, more commonly, ETA, and their aim is a separate Basque homeland, and they occasionally set off bombs and kidnap people. I had always assumed that ETA was pronounced “ee-tee-ay” (or “eh-teh-ah” in Spanish I suppose), in the time-honored tradition of paramilitary groups (see IRA or PLO). But no, they pronounce ETA as “eh-tah,” which is pretty much how you pronounce my name. And if you are at all up on international events**, you probably know that last week, ETA declared a ceasefire. So apparently, all those times I was thinking I was hearing my name, I was actually hearing spirited discussions about the ceasefire.

On a side note, I was intrigued by the bizarre disguises of the ETA members who announced the ceasefire. The Basques invented the beret, so that was a nice tribute, but wearing the berets over those white hoods with the weird eye slits just seems odd.

*Let’s be honest here, my name is not common anywhere except perhaps cemeteries with a lot of late 19th century graves.
**I was going to write “unless you’ve been living under a rock,” but then I remembered how little I know about current world events, and I realized that if I hadn’t been in the country where it was happening, I might not know about it. And honestly, I got it from the BBC, not from any kind of Spanish news outlet.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Spain Vignette 1: “Once you get used to the smell of rendered fat, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.”

Spain was wonderful and beautiful. But we were struck quite often by an undeniable fact: It’s kind of stinky there. No, this is not going to be a rant about Europeans and BO (but if you are interested in that topic, check out Das Blog). It’s the cities themselves that smell. Both Barcelona and Madrid have a prominent smell of sewage. You catch a whiff of it every few minutes. It’s particularly obvious when you’re near a sewage grate, but it’s noticeable even when you’re not. Our first stop was Barcelona and I thought maybe this was just a Barcelona thing. Maybe they haven’t had much rain and the sewage drains were festering. But then, after a half-hour in Madrid, the smell was back. It wasn’t quite as noticeable, and it didn’t really bother me, since I had gotten used to it by that point. (And my theory about the rain didn’t really pan out, since it was raining the day and night we were in Madrid and it didn’t seem to mitigate the smell.) We were surprised by Seville, because there wasn’t much of a smell, and I would have expected it more there, since where we were staying and spending time is the really old part of the city, where one might expect the sewage system to be a bit antiquated. We did eat lunch outside one day in the Barrio Santa Cruz, which had a unique rotting meat smell that didn’t do much for my appetite. So, all in all, Spain was lovely, the smell, not so much.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Wedded Bliss

So, the wedding went off relatively hitch-free, although the week leading up to it was rather nervous breakdown-inducing.

The highlights (and lowlights):

*Exactly one week before the wedding, I came down with a wicked bad cold, the kind that stuffs your head up completely and makes it feel like you are carrying around 20 pounds of snot. Since the end result of colds for me is usually laryngitis, I was worried that I would have no voice by the wedding. Luckily, I managed to conserve my voice.
*The cold exacerbated my usual insomnia by waking me up about 8 times a night.
*What I really needed was to stay home in bed, but I had to work on Monday and Tuesday. There’s nothing like an 11-hour work day to help you get over a cold.
*My insomnia was so bad that week that I took to getting out of bed in the middle of the night to read. The good news: I finished a book for the first time in weeks. The bad news: It was by Dan Brown.
*The week reached its nadir as I was walking to the rehearsal and subsequent dinner. I was in a great mood. Everything seemed to be coming together. The weather was beautiful. Things were going really well. Then my mother called to tell me that she had the flu and wouldn’t be there that night and suddenly, I was facing the possibility that my mother might miss the wedding.
*Nothing was ready at the hotel for the rehearsal, so I politely but firmly ordered the staff around until I got what I wanted. Then I took charge of the rehearsal, and all that bossiness made me feel much better.
*People kept coming up to me at the rehearsal dinner and marveling at how calm I was. But at that point, it was really too late to change anything, so there didn’t seem to be much point in stressing.
*The night before the wedding, I went to bed and 11 p.m., totally exhausted. I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. Grr.
*The wedding went very well, despite the fact that I was operating on no sleep. I had my hair done and then headed down to the hotel to get ready in the bridal suite. The suite was really nice. My bridesmaids and another friend all arrived and they were just amazing and helpful, and everything was great.
*At one point, it seemed like everything was going wrong (the flowers hadn’t arrived and when they did, some of them were missing; my mother was calling me every five minutes asking my questions I didn’t know the answer to), but within another half-hour, it had all fallen into place.
*Baby brought champagne and June brought cheese, crackers, fruit, and cookies. They rock. We had a great time getting ready.
*We were listening to some shitty music on the hotel TV, but then they played two songs that I really like in a row, both of which remind me of the demise of previous relationships, so that seemed somehow very appropriate for the day.
*My mother made it to the hotel. By the way she was dancing at the reception, you would never know she was sick at all.
*The ceremony was really short and very nice. I broke out my acting training and did some super enunciation. Later, Lord Kissington told me that I sounded sort of British, but hey, maybe that’s what proper enunciation sounds like. Right before I headed down the aisle, June told me to make sure I looked at Lord K during the ceremony. I did this, but for the first half of the ceremony, he was looking at the judge, which was pretty funny.
*The cocktail hour was sort of a blur. We greeted everyone as they walked in and then we were sort of left alone for a while, which was nice since it gave me a few minutes to decompress.
*The rest of the wedding was great. I had loads of fun at our table. The night was pretty much how I had envisioned and hoped it would be. I had a sort of vague picture in my head of us surrounded by our friends, dancing up a storm to songs that reminded me of us and all of our friends. We ended the night exactly this way, with everyone dancing to “How Soon Is Now.” It was kind of perfect.
*As the reception was ending, I realized that I was surrounded by a bunch of drunk people I didn’t know, so I hightailed it up to the suite, where I found a bunch of my friends (not hijacking the suite, just up there to collect their belongings). I flopped on the couch and someone handed me a drink. Everyone was being really funny, and it was all so much fun.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Honeymooning by the Numbers

More details to come, but here's a little breakdown of the honeymoon.

Number of flights we took: 6
Hours spent on planes: 24
Number of flights almost missed through no fault of our own: 2
Number of times the plane appeared to be skidding off the runway during landing: 1 (but that was really more than enough)
Number of times I said to myself "You're already on the ground. Even if the plane crashes, there's a very good chance we'll survive": approximately 6
Hours spent on high-speed train: 2.5
Total hotels stayed in: 4
Total cities visited: 3
Number of hotels that had a bidet in the bathroom: 4
Minutes spent discussing the ever-fascinating bidets: 90
Glasses of wine consumed: approximately 72 (but I, err, may have lost count)
Number of times I felt drunk: 0
Pieces of Catalan tomato bread consumed: at least 25
Number of times we ate octopus: 3
Number of orange trees we saw in Seville: at least 500
Glasses of orange juice I drank while screwing my face up in distaste: 9 (I’m a slow learner)
Number of museums visited: 4
Number of Baroque paintings viewed: at least 400
Minutes spent swooning over Baroque paintings: I lost count
Number of times Lord Kissington asked if we were almost done yet while in a museum: 8
Number of outdoor cafes: approximately 10
Number of blissful nights of sleep I had while still jetlagged before my usual insomnia kicked in: 3
Number of cathedrals/churches visited: 4
Amount of clothes I brought but didn’t wear: 1/3
Hours I spent last night trying to convince my brain that just because my body thinks it’s six hours later, it is not time to get up yet: 1
Time at which I gave up and got out of bed: 6 a.m.

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Short One

I´m alive and well and in Spain. Trying to post this in Spain is interesting, since the web is all in Spanish on this computer (my Spanish is, well, pretty weak) and the keyboard is different. Anyways, the wedding went off without any major hitches (at least that I know of), and we made it to Spain. We´ve already been to Barcelona and Madrid, and we´re now in Seville. We´ll be back in Barcelona on Thursday and then we fly home on Saturday. I´ll have tons more to post once I get back, but I´ve been feeling weird not blogging. I´ve been taking copious notes and I have tons to say about really fascinating and dorky topics such as Baroque art and hagiography. I know you´ll be on the edge of your seats waiting to hear more. Spain is beautiful and we´re having a great time, even if we are having a little trouble adjusting to the whole eating dinner at 10 at night thing (that goes against every weight loss tip I´ve ever been given and it´s a little rough on the digestion too). Now I just need to figure out how to type the "at" symbol on this damn keyboard so I can check my email. More later.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Ok, so can anyone tell me why all my sidebar stuff (name, profile link, email, previous posts, and links) is appearing at the bottom of the page? I haven'tr made any changes to the template in ages. Thanks.

Read Much?

I am what you might call a voracious reader. I devour books. I never go anywhere without one (or two or three). I stay up too late at night because I can’t put books down. But lately, something has changed. I can’t read a book to save my life. For Christmas, I received about a dozen books. Some of them were rather weighty tomes (a biography of the Roman Empress Livia, a history of the Angevin empire, and three, count ‘em, three books on the Cathars), so perhaps I can be forgiven for not having made much headway, but several others were quite lightweight and I’ve still barely made a dent. In early January, I read the least scholarly of the three books on the Cathars, but it was a pretty easy read. I made it through Something Borrowed, a chick lit, pink-covered quick read that perhaps wasn’t the most appropriate reading material for a soon to be bride, since it’s about a maid of honor who has an affair with the groom in the months leading up to the wedding. (The bride character is a total bitch and reminded me of some toxic former friends, so it was much easier to identify with the MOH.) And I read Amanda’s Wedding, another chick lit tome, which was completely worthless and made me so mad that I threw the book across the room when I was done with it. That was in mid-January, and that was the last book I’ve read. This is just embarrassing for someone who reads at least a few books a month. In February, I tried to read the latest John Banville. I made it through 10 pages before admitting that it just wasn’t happening these days (and I freaking love Banville).

What’s happening with me? Even when I slow down a bit in my reading, I’m still usually reading one or two books, even if I’m doing it slowly. Have I allowed stress to take over and use way too much of my brain? Is the wedding so all-consuming that I don’t have room for anything else? (And how depressing is that?) Even my usual standby of re-reading old favorites (Agatha Christie when I’m sick, Nancy Mitford when I’m blue, and Jane Austen anytime) isn’t working lately. I’m hoping that it’s just stress and that once the wedding is over I’ll dive back into my usual habits. I’ll be bringing a big stack of books with me on the honeymoon (poor Lord Kissington). On my list are the aforementioned Banville, Jude the Obscure, and Hugh Laurie’s novel The Gunseller (he’s ever so talented, isn’t he?). Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

To Everyone Who Is Pissing Me off These Days, Please Stop

This week hasn’t been going well. I am incredibly stressed out about the wedding, and I’m not handling it very well. Lord Kissington and I never fight and we actually had an argument the other night. I’ve been going crazy at the gym in an effort to burn off some of the excess stress and rage but it’s not really working. My apartment looks like a combination between a pigsty and a Crate and Barrel showroom (well, a Crate and Barrel showroom that has really let itself go).

To my mother: Seriously, does it really matter whether the floral arrangements for the tables are in square or round vases? I said I liked the square vases. Was it really necessary to spend 15 minutes arguing with me and the florist about the vases?

To my neighbors and the rental office: Why did you pick this week to send me a letter complaining about noises that we’re not making? For the entire time we’ve lived in this apartment, there have occasionally been loud hammering noises that go on for hours. The noises are clearly coming from the floor below us. On several occasions, we’ve gotten calls from the front desk asking us to stop hammering. Each time, I have patiently explained that the noises are not coming from our apartment. Each time, I have asked the person who called to tell the complainant that the noises were not coming from our apartment, but, apparently, this was never done. I’ve gotten only one call in the last year, but yesterday you saw fit to give me a letter saying that my neighbors are complaining about my hammering. I’M NOT FUCKING HAMMERING, YOU IDIOTS! Whoever is making these noises is hammering for hours on end. This is not a few pictures being hung. Come into my apartment. You’ll see that I’m not building anything. Perhaps you should check out my neighbors’ apartments. With the amount of hammering that’s been going on lately, I can only imagine the culprit is building something really large, like a fallout shelter.

To my hairdresser: I love what you do with my hair. And I think yesterday’s trial run for my wedding hairstyle was great. But sadly, the makeup trial didn’t go as well. You made me look like a six-year-old who has gotten into her mother’s makeup bag. Was it necessary to add foundation several shades darker than my natural skin color? I am very pale. If I thought I looked good tan, I would be tan. I’m Irish. We don’t tan; we burn. And what was with all that lip liner to make my upper lips look bigger? Those were clown lips. Sadly, because I am so bad at confrontation and I don’t want to upset our relationship, I will probably still let you do my makeup the morning of the wedding and then go home and do it over again myself. And now I’m just mad at myself.

To the guy at Potbelly who gave me the wrong sandwich and then got mad at me: Yes, I’m sorry that I ended up with the wrong sandwich, but you did say “shwiisgm slaughtyet” and to me that sounded like chicken salad, not turkey breast. And it wasn’t crowded, so I’m not sure how someone who was behind me in line had their sandwich come out of the toaster before mine. But hey, this was clearly my fault.

To the creepy maintenance guy in my building: I actually walk in the other direction most times that I see you coming, just so I won’t have to have awkward, creepy conversations with you where you leer at me. But last night, I couldn’t avoid it. I had to get on the elevator so I was forced to walk past you. But was it really necessary to try to pull me into your stupid conversation and call me “baby”? Shudder.

To our DJ: Did you have to try to guilt me about not making a big deal of the cake-cutting? Was it necessary for you to tell me that this wedding isn’t all about me? Believe me, I’ve known that for months. And is the cake-cutting thing really that important to everyone? He says it’s a photo op. Well, I chose my photographer because he doesn’t really do photo ops, he does candids. And we’re definitely not planning to shove cake in each other’s mouths. If this were some sort of important wedding ritual, I could see the point, but I’ve always regarded it as a good time to hit the bar. And as for the suggested “daddy/daughter dance,” calling it that sounds supercreepy. And I simply can’t imagine dancing with my father to any of the traditional tacky songs, like “Daddy’s Little Girl” or “To Sir, with Love.” The thought makes me throw up a little in my mouth. Dad and I both really dig the Clash and Lou Reed, so maybe if you play something by one of them…

To my insomnia and my brain: Couldn’t you just give me a break this week? I really need some sleep. Is it necessary to wake me up every morning at least an hour before the alarm goes off? And this morning, did you have to wake me up at 4:30 and then allow me to fall back to sleep 15 minutes before the alarm went off at 6:45?

To my subconscious: What was up with that weird dream about my high school being torn down to build luxury condos? Don’t I have enough to worry about without you freaking me out?