Adios, 2011!

Oh, 2011, I wasn't sure that 2010 could be topped, and then you came along. This was a big year, Texas big. Big decisions, big changes, big milestones, big rewards. I'm reflecting on the extraordinary last 12 months of my life, and I'm feeling lucky and grateful to be spending this last day of the year with my CameraMan, the Bossy Folks, and my adorable Bossy Cat here in our home sweet Houston. What a year it has been.

I opened and closed Le Comte Ory, Madame Butterfly, Don Giovanni, and Rodelinda. I can be seen for slightly longer than 5 seconds in an Associated Press video.

I started a 365 project…again. Then I ended it long before the year was up…again.

We settled in to our life in Vienna and found time to travel in Europe: to Florence, to Paris, to the Austrian countryside.  We locked love padlocks in Florence and in Paris. We figured out our travel style.

I continued my Home on the Road feature with Elise Sandell and Katharine Goeldner. Then I forgot about it. Perhaps it's time for a revival, no?

I became an aunt to our beautiful niece Josee, which did absolutely nothing to temper the baby kraziness.

I did some wedding planning.

I crossed off exactly ONE item on my Bossy List: #44. Ack!*

Best day of the year/my entire life: we got married. While we made merry with our friends and family, and then without them on our honeymoon, I posted about happy marriages I know.

We moved back to Houston after almost exactly a year in Vienna. We immediately began the Great Acquisition of 2011 (not to be confused with the Great Purge of 2010) and haven't let up since.

I spent 200 days with CM—a big improvement on last year's 165.

I got busy and stopped blogging entirely. I'm thinking about changing that.

If the past two years are any indication, it would be presumptuous on my part to make too many plans for 2012. Anything can happen, and no day is too ordinary to bring life-changing news. I'm staying open to possibilities.

Happy New Year, y'all.

Tschüß, 2010!
Addio, 2009
Adieu, 2008

*UPDATE: CM has pointed out that actually, I should have crossed off #64 quite a while ago, round about the 9th of July, in fact. Need I say more about that?

Home sweet nervous breakdown

I'm back home in Houston, this time for TWO WHOLE MONTHS. I've been here since Sunday. Predictably, I've already had approximately two and a half nervous breakdowns, of both the "What am I going to do for two whole months?" and the "What am I doing with my life?" varieties. I look forward to vacation time so much, but I always forget that I'm actually not that great at not having a job, particularly when everyone I know (including my hardworking husband) has one they go to every day. I'm thinking maybe I need some similarly unemployed Houstonian friends. Who's with me?

In the meantime, I'm throwing myself into the role of Suzy Homemaker. The other night (and by night I mean ALL DAY LONG), I braised short ribs for the first time. Oh lord, were those good. They were on a bed of creamy goat cheese polenta, accompanied by mustardy brussels sprouts, and followed by homemade nutmeg maple cookies and Nespresso. Trust me, CameraMan is not complaining about me being home.

Our house is finally coming together, and I'm excited to show you some pictures, once we've gotten some art up on the currently completely bare walls. Also, I've only posted half the wedding—there's so much more to show you! I've actually been getting motivated to blog again, but my computer has been killing me softly with his song, a song whose repetitive refrain is "I've lost all your Firefox bookmarks and iTunes purchases—what are you gonna do about it?" I know, I know, #firstworldproblems. Without a job, though, I have a lot of free time and brain space to spend cursing the good people at Apple. Everyone needs a hobby.

In other news, there is lots of fun on the horizon: a trip to Vegas, the Bossy Folks in Houston for a visit, a girls' vacation with Legs McGee, and an exciting contract just arrived yesterday for me to sign. Nervous breakdowns aside, all is well. Let's get to know each other again, shall we?

Hello again're not going to facebook OR blog now?!? What - are you trying some pioneer lifestyle? ;-p

I got this text from The Wise Soprano a few weeks back, followed by several concerned emails from other friends. So perhaps I should start by saying, everything's fine. Life is good. It turns out that the day I deactivated my Facebook account coincided with the last post I wrote here, almost 2 months ago, but I hadn't actually thought those events were related. Now I'm not so sure.

My 30th birthday, although it was relatively unaccompanied by angst or crisis of any kind, did bring with it a certain amount of stock-taking. 30, that nice big round number, feels like an arrival, time to know who you are and what you're doing. The big things in my life are right where I want them to be: I've just married a man more perfect for me than any I could imagine, my career is going swimmingly, I'm surrounded by a supportive family and the best friends anyone could ask for. I do worry, though, that the day-to-day is passing me by. When I have downtime, I'm more likely to fritter than to make it count, particularly when I'm away from CameraMan, which has been an awfully long time this fall.

I went off of the 'Book as a month-long experiment. I found myself spending an inordinate number of hours checking in on people I didn't feel particularly close to, and I wondered if I would miss it if I quit cold turkey. Turns out, I didn't, not at all, which is why I didn't reactivate my account after the month was up. I wish I could say that I've devoted the extra time I now have to better keeping in touch with the few people I truly care about, but that's still a work in progress.

The not blogging thing is something I don't understand as clearly. I'm struggling with what this blog means. I'm not an expat anymore. I don't have problems I want to escape. I'm thoroughly content living a life that consists mostly of work and CM, and honestly, I'm not entirely sure I have much to say anymore. Work has been hard these past few months, hard and dramatic and in some ways disappointing, but ultimately I've been reminded that I find great satisfaction in my work. And in an attempt to be kinder to myself, I'm telling myself that it's okay if the most I can accomplish on any given day is going to work, trying to do my job really well, and then telling my husband I love him. I'm giving myself permission to let go of self-improvement projects, to read the books I want to read instead of the ones on someone else's list, to stay up late watching episodes of Downton Abbey just because, to write only if there's something I want to say.

Tonight I felt like writing. Tomorrow I might not. Thanks for being here when I do.

Happy weekend!

I suppose it's cheating to write the weekend post on Saturday night, but hey, that's when my weekend started. What are you up to on this first weekend of October? I'm having a much-needed night in, ordering in sushi and catching up on all the TV I missed this week. Tomorrow I'm having brunch with My Gay Husband and then trying to make some sense of my life, which falls apart like clockwork every time a production I'm working on hits the stage. Sigh. Thank goodness for the cool weather that arrived today, giving me an excuse to wear cable-knit tights, a red herringbone skirt, and a gray tweed jacket with stripey lining. I love the fall.

Some weekend linky goodness for you (it's been a while, I know, so I'm throwing in a few extra):

I have a new soprano friend who makes finger puppets for opening night gifts. Now she's making videos with them, too. I highly recommend Carmen, Act II.

I'm VERY excited about Mindy Kaling's new book. Did you read the excerpt?

Cookie Monster and Elmo do the fall TV lineup. I particularly like when Elmo looks into the camera during The Office.

Loved this guide to New York City. Since I live here several months of the year, maybe I should read this and go somewhere other than to work. Hmm...

Turned out the stripey rug was WAY too scratchy. Now we're thinking purple!

Scary, but completely true. Uh-oh.

I'm enjoying Whitney much more than I thought I would. Have you watched?

New shoes. I'm wearing them daily to work.

I went home last weekend and we stocked our bar. We are ready to entertain! (The only thing missing is…me.)

Here's hoping your weekend is full of mimosas, buttoned-up jackets, and no work whatsoever. xoxo LMB

This post would have a clever title if "It's a small world" had better lyrics

I've written before about what a tiny world the field of opera is, how you're constantly seeing all the same people and how everyone's connected by far fewer than six degrees. Now that I've been doing this for a while, I don't even get excited anymore when I meet someone and find that we have people in common. Of course we do.

Lately, though, there have been a series of coincidental connections that qualify as something out of the ordinary, and I'm completely delighted by them.

In a conversation with a colleague, I discovered that he went to graduate school with the very first director I ever worked with, back when I played Molly in Annie, circa 1989.

The director I'm assisting right now arrived at the Met and found out that a member of our Giovanni music staff is actually his neighbor in Cornwall—their properties border each other…and they've never met before.

Last week I was talking to a soprano in our cast, and it turned out our fathers went to music school in Germany together, at a tiny school of 50 students.

Poetic conclusions are begging to be drawn here. Mostly, though, these discoveries just make me want to talk to people more, to take the time to find out where they come from and where they've been. I want to make a collection of these tenuous threads that are holding us together.

What's amazing you these days?

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

I've emerged from ONE week of labor (ish—it was a prep week!) completely exhausted, so this 3-day weekend is a gift. What are you up to? Barbecues? Squeezing out the last drops of summer? I flew home to Houston last night and I get to stay here until Monday! Happiness. Our lovely friends are throwing us a little wedding celebration tonight. I can't wait to see everyone!

Some links for your holiday:

This slideshow is so beautiful. It's nice to look at pictures of other people's weddings for a change.

We can't seem to find just the right rug for our living room. I've ordered this one. Cross your fingers!

I love these fun coasters for parties! And they're on sale!

Have you noticed that mounted faux animal heads are showing up everywhere? We laugh every time we seem them. I kind of want these for our fridge as an inside joke.

This photo shoot is amazing! It makes me want to buy lots of cozy sweaters (and, you know, go to the gym once in a while).

Hope your weekend is filled with friends, sunshine, and good old-fashioned retail therapy. xoxo LMB

The day after

So apparently there was some kind of bad weather that came through New York yesterday (YESTERDAY!). Did you hear about that? I know it was lighter than expected and that most of the New Yorkers I know seem to mostly be disappointed, as if they were hoping Irene was going to provide them a great story to tell at parties, and now the story is, "Hey, remember that one time when the subways closed down and we did some day drinking in our pjs while it rained some?"

I'm having a hard time believing it even rained here. I just got in (my flight was even early!), and sprang for a cab from the airport, since trains weren't running and the bus situation was chaotic. Now I'm sitting on a park bench across the street from my apartment, belly full of Shake Shack, waiting for my landlord to meet me in half an hour. The weather is idyllic, the city is alive. It feels like every New Yorker is out walking, and the benches around me are filled with people reading, sketching, journaling, and people watching. And then there's me, mooching off the Museum of Natural History's wifi so that I can blog.

This is New York at its best. I'm remembering why people live here; the energy is infectious. It's decidedly summer, but I can already sense the crisp promise of fall. After the relentless heat and humidity of Houston, I'm going to spend every minute I can outside. Tomorrow I'll walk to work, put in a day of meetings and prep, get a drink with a friend, walk home as the evening air cools. But for tonight I'm on vacation, and New York is an awfully nice place to visit.

Happy hurricane weekend!

My lovelies, what are your plans for the weekend? Being very safe if you're anywhere in Irene's path, I hope! I was planning to fly to NYC Sunday morning, but I've rebooked for Monday so that Irene and I don't arrive at the same time. Meanwhile, in sunny Houston I'm running lots of last-minute errands, cleaning, and spending as much time with my sweet husband as possible.

Some links to get you through the hunkering down:

What a treat to explore this site! So many fascinating people and projects.

We're in the market for a dining room table with some industrial charm. My current fave is this one.

I cannot WAIT to see this movie.

I just bought a print for our living room by Lisa Chow. She's a Houston local and I'm loving all her stuff!

This vacation sounds dreamy. Who's with me?

Here's the Bossy Cat enjoying our new couch:

Hope your weekend is full of preparations, board games, and snuggling. xoxo LMB

Exciting things that happened today

In no particular order.

  • The new lamp arrived.
  • Little Ms. Hardcore had a hair appointment, so I got to babysit Shelby. Mostly we played cooking, which involves stirring water in a pot with a spoon.
  • We bought two of these for our kitchen. Now we want two more.
  • Legs McGee came over for burgers on the grill.
  • We found the local recycling center. The amount of cardboard in our apartment is becoming more manageable.
  • We FINALLY got internet and cable. No more blogging from coffee shops, thank goodness.
 I'm in complete denial that I leave in three days.

Bossy Wedding: The Ceremony, Part Zwei

We held our ceremony at the Weingut Cobenzl, an idyllic vineyard overlooking the entire city of Vienna. It was the hottest day of the summer, without a cloud in the sky. On the urging of our photographer, we chose to see each other and take portraits before the wedding, so that we could be with our friends and family as much as possible after the ceremony. CM closed his eyes and kept his back to me until I was right behind him. Then he turned around and saw me.

 I had kept all the details of my dress, etc. a complete secret from him (hard to do since we generally tell each other everything!), and I loved seeing the look on his face when he turned around. We wandered around and took a few pictures, but it was so hot that we didn't last long.

Our guests gathered in the air-conditioned tasting room and drank grape juice mixed with fizzy water (SO good on a hot day!). We waited in a back room and relaxed, mostly just grinning at each other. At 4 o’clock sharp, the guests walked together down the street to the vineyard itself. We followed behind and hid until we heard the music begin: Joshua Radin’s version of “Fly me to the moon,” the most romantic song I know.

Lily, our adorable flower girl, went first, deliberately tossing petals from her basket one by one. Then CM and I walked down the aisle holding hands. I felt myself start to tear up the moment I saw our friends and family beaming at us. “Uh oh,” I said, “it’s starting.” CM squeezed my hand harder.

 Writing our own ceremony seemed like a daunting task, but I’m so glad we did. In putting it together, we talked a lot about what marriage meant to us, what we were promising to each other, what was important. Each decision we made was informed by those conversations. I found this post (and the subsequent comments) extremely helpful. (If anyone is interested in the full text of our ceremony, I’m happy to send it your way—when I was researching I liked reading entire ceremonies online, even of strangers.) We wanted it to be personal and meaningful while not losing the gravitas of the occasion. I liked the idea of saying the same words that couples have saying to each other at weddings for generations. We wanted to involve our friends and family as well. So we wrote a secular ceremony that ended up being perfect for us.

My Gay Husband introduced us and told our story, and then Eric’s stepdad did a reading from Robert Fulghum’s “Union.” We said “I do” to traditional vows (in sickness and in health, etc.), and then read to each other the vows we wrote, based on several different sources:

Surrounded by the light and love of our family and friends, I take you to be my beloved.
I ask you to be none other than yourself and vow to share my whole self with you.
I promise to hold your hand through every adventure,
to face life’s challenges together with patience and humor,
and to love you faithfully and wholeheartedly.
I vow to always remain your best friend and your biggest fan.
This commitment is made in love, lived in hope, and made eternally new.

We had planned to read them off a slip of paper, but right before the wedding we decided to read them out of MGH’s book with the whole ceremony instead. Of course while I was saying the vows I got overcome for a moment, had to borrow a handkerchief to dab my eyes, and promptly lost my place in the book. We had to take a moment to find my place before I could continue.

In researching ceremony ideas, I loved the tradition of congregational vows, where all gathered promise to support the marriage. Throughout our relationship, we have been blessed to have so many people rooting for us and helping us succeed. The guests at our wedding will be part of our marriage forever, and I loved hearing them answer “We do” and “We will,” vowing to offer their strength and comfort to us always. After the congregational vows our wedding rings were passed through each person’s hands in a ring blessing/ring warming ceremony. So much positive energy was coming our way during the wedding, and I love thinking of that energy every morning when I put on my ring.

While the rings were passed around, Mama Bossy did a reading from Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet (using the book she had been given when she was 18!) and CM’s mom read the “Blessing of the Hands.” When the rings came back to us, we exchanged them with one last set of vows. As a benediction, MGH read an excerpt from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea:

A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart’s. To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back—it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it.

Then he pronounced us married, we kissed (chaste without being dismissive, very important), and it was done!

I’m so happy we were able to devise a special ceremony that felt like us but still felt weighty—a difficult balance. I think in planning a wedding it’s tempting to focus all your energy on the dress, the decorations, the flowers, the dinner. But the most important part of any wedding is the ceremony itself; otherwise you’re just throwing a party. The act of standing up in front of our loved ones to make public our private promises felt brave, and important, and transformative.

We're so married, y'all.

(All photos by the incomparable Pink Pixel.)

Bossy Wedding: The Ceremony, Part 1

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. We actually got married in Vegas. In April. Well, it wasn’t exactly a secret; we just didn’t want to take anything away from our wedding in July, so we mostly kept it to ourselves. We opted to get the legal part out of the way in Vegas for a few reasons. First of all, Austria LOVES its paperwork, and it especially loves for all the paperwork to be in German, so had we done the legal ceremony there we would have had to collect lots of paperwork, get it all translated, and go through tons of red tape, just to get permission to get married. Getting married in the States meant we had to have exactly one thing translated (the marriage certificate itself), which we never actually did since we found out we were moving back. Also, very few of our guests speak or understand German, so we would most likely have had to do two ceremonies anyway. We started mulling over options, and since we were going to Vegas in April to meet Josee, we decided to make an appointment at the Courthouse (no Elvis chapels for us, although I’m sure that would have been fun).

The day sort of crept up on us, since we’d been spending so much time thinking about and planning our July wedding. Then all of a sudden it was time to go get married! We were so excited that we got there extremely early, and ended up serving as witnesses in another wedding (hello, Graham and Linda of England!) before our own. What is it about weddings? Even though it was brief, and it wasn’t personalized, and for goodness’ sake, we didn’t even KNOW the couple getting married, it was meaningful and moving. I teared up at two people we had never met before looking into each other’s eyes and making promises. After quick congratulations and goodbyes, it was our turn. The best thing about getting married in Vegas was that CM’s sister and brother-in-law got to be there as our witnesses, since they couldn’t come to Vienna in July. And Josee was there, too!

 We held hands, repeated vows, exchanged rings, kissed, and were pronounced “husband and wife, best friends for life.” I didn’t think I would feel different. It wasn’t our “real” wedding, it’s not the anniversary we’ll celebrate. But I did. For a couple weeks afterward, we kept turning to each other and saying, “Hey, did you know that we’re married?” And every time the answer was “Yes.”

With Josee after the ceremony

Because we’d already gotten the legal part out of the way, we had complete freedom in planning our ceremony, which to be honest was terrifying. Right away we asked My Gay Husband to be our officiant. He’s been a dear friend to me for 13(!) years now, and he’s the best (and funniest) public speaker I know. CM and I ended up writing the bones of the ceremony ourselves as well as choosing readings, and MGH filled in all the transitions and made the whole thing flow smoothly.

One idea that MGH had was interviewing us each separately about our relationship, then writing our “story” and using it as an introduction of sorts to the ceremony. So, one Sunday we both Skyped with him for about an hour, answering all kinds of questions. He compiled all his notes and wrote the most incredible story, which we didn’t hear until the wedding day. The story took us through our first meeting (which I’m sorry to say neither of us remember precisely), the beginning of our relationship, key moments including the proposal, up to the wedding itself.

MGH telling our story

 I’ll fill you in on more details of the ceremony tomorrow (before this post becomes novel-length), but for now I’ll leave you with this, the ending of our story, as written by MGH. I’ll just be over here crying (again).

The most touching part of the interviews came when I asked Louisa and Eric how they would describe each other to someone who did not know them.

Louisa’s response was succinct and immediate.

“Everyone loves him,” she said. “Everyone who comes into contact with him loves him. He is likable, loveable, smart, hilarious,” and here Louisa paused, made a big smile and said, “and really handsome.”

Eric, who had been a bit cautious before answering the majority of my questions, gushed at this one and immediately said, “She is beautiful; she has beautiful eyes, is a great smiler and is super-talented. People love her. People innately trust her personally and professionally. She puts people at ease.  She has a good sense of humor and runs with a joke. She is caring and giving. I love her sense of grace and graciousness. She is always kind to people.”

Eric continued and said that he “loves the way we are together. The way she makes me laugh—the way we laugh together.”

Given the synchronicity of their responses, it is perhaps not a surprise that when asked, separately mind you, what they thought the other loved most about them, they both said, “We are a team.”

From Houston, to Washington D.C., to Vienna and, as they found out very recently, back to Houston, this wedding does not mark the end of their story, but rather the beginning of a new story.

In response to my question, “What would you two do on a perfect date?” Eric said, “Anything that creates memories for us. We set a high price on making memories together.”

I am certain, as I am sure you are too, that many more memories are waiting to be made. As Louisa and Eric’s friends and family, we couldn’t be more excited to follow you on your next chapter.

My reaction the first time I heard this
 (Top photo by my new sister-in-law; others by Pink Pixel)

In which I come very late to the party

Saturday night I was hanging out with the Lonely Wives Club and we were discussing books, like you do. I just finished State of Wonder (good, but not as good as some other Patchett) and was looking for something new to read. Both of my girlfriends recommended The Hunger Games, and it turned out one of them had the first book in her car, so I took it home with me at the end of the night.

This morning, I finished…the THIRD book of the trilogy. Good lord, people, those books are thrilling. When I got to the end of the first book, there was no question of taking a break, or pacing myself for the next one. The second book was downloading onto my Kindle immediately.

For whatever reason, I've been avoiding these books. I think in my head I was grouping them in with the Twilight books, which I have absolutely no interest in reading (although, given this recent turnaround, ask me in a month). But The Hunger Games books are extraordinary. With superb plotting and fascinating characters, it's thought-provoking, suspenseful stuff. And even though it's supposedly written for young adults, the writing is excellent. So many times when reading a book with a great plot, I get distracted by clunky writing and inelegant turns of phrase (I'm looking at you, Stieg Larsson), but that's not a problem here.

My point being, if you're one of the few also coming late to this party, don't wait any longer—read these books! (You might want to clear your schedule for a day or so.)

Happy weekend!

Happy Friday, my dears! What are your plans for the weekend? I wish for all of you that are NOT in Houston, where we have now hit and surpassed the record for number of days over 100°F (with no end in sight), a glorious outdoorsy kind of weekend. Have a picnic for me, won't you? Go on a bike ride. As for me, I will be staying in air conditioning all weekend long. CM is leaving town for a couple days, so we'll spend our first married night apart! Boo. Just when I've gotten all used to having him around. To heal the pain, I've organized a little fun with a couple girlfriends whose husbands are also out of town (working title: Lonely Wives' Club). I'm hosting cocktail hour at our place, which is powerful motivation to get the house ready!

Some links for your Friday:

A fantastic article that's such useful, good advice for young singers (and young directors, too).

When we were in New York, we spent a glorious afternoon at Room & Board, coveting. Right now they're offering free shipping on accessories! I'm dying to buy pillows for every room in the house.

I loved this article about J. Crew's Jenna Lyons. 

How amazing are these map prints? I'm thinking it would look great in our dining room, as a thematic antidote to the Eiffel Tower. Or something.

We're not yet at the hanging art stage of decorating, but I found these in our stuff, which we had never used, and now we have a little wall gallery of wedding photos. When we're ready for something a bit more permanent, they come right off!

Here's a picture of the Bossy Cat in our new house. She's settling in nicely.

Hope your weekend is full of summer breezes, dinner parties, and fresh starts! xoxo LMB

Brett & Brad • March 31, 2009

In preparation for our wedding, I asked happy couples I knew about their weddings and marriages. You can see the whole series here.

On what date did you get married?
We had two weddings. A lovely legal ceremony in our friends' home with my parents and some close friends, 8 people in total: March 31, 2009. Then a festive ceremony in a church with lots of music and poetry, followed by a fabulous reception: August 22, 2009.

What do you remember most from your wedding?
Brad: I enjoyed so much about our respective weddings. I think the best part though was the opportunity to share the events with Brett.

Brett: Looking out into the congregation and seeing 100+ people from every period of my life and my husband's life, and feeling overwhelmed with gratitude for the love they were showing through their presence at the wedding. This was a true blessing to our marriage.
(On a lighter note, I also remember being slightly confused about which hand was Brad's left hand during the Exchange of Rings... perhaps an admonition if ever there was one for moderation in the pre-wedding cocktail department...)

What's your advice for building a happy and successful marriage?
Brad: Listening. Willingness to see a situation from another's perspective. Saying you're sorry, even when you don't want to. Flexibility. Working together, playing together. Putting another person before yourself sometimes. Searching for those things that make both of you happy.

1) Realizing that not every moment will be happy and fulfilling. Sometimes we are in foul moods and it's nobody's fault. I think it's important to create the space in a marriage for the other person to be who he is, both in the good moods and the bad.
2) Being willing to at least try things that the other person loves, even amidst skepticism. Best case scenario is that you now unexpectedly have something that you both love. At the very least, you now have a new topic of animated discussion at dinner.
3) I echo Brad's sentiments about saying sorry: sometimes we do and say things that are unintentionally hurtful, and that (for me at least) is very hard to admit. It's humbling, but ultimately healing for a marriage.
4) We don't live forever, so savor the time you spend together, both the truly joyous moments and the mundane ones. Look for love in all that you do together.

Brad: Yesterday, Brett and I were riding in the car and a word dawned upon me that I had not mentioned to you before.....COMPROMISE! Learn it, perfect it, live it.

Anything you know now that you wish you had known when you got married?
Brad: How much closer I would feel to my husband, and how grateful I am to be allowed to marry him.

(Photography by Courtney Lindberg)

Bossy Wedding: The Clothes

I bought the first wedding dress I tried on. I didn't think that was how it was going to go down, honestly, because I wasn't sure that my perfect dress existed. I knew I wanted a short dress that looked like something I would wear normally, just prettier, and white. I didn't want anything too fussy that would make me feel uncomfortable at any point during the day, but it had to be elegant and beautiful. I made an appointment at Saja, who got bonus points right away for being the only bridal store that didn't hem and haw about whether it might already be too late for me to be dress shopping (it was February).

The Saja store in New York is tiny and adorable and filled with so many lovely things that I kind of wanted to take the whole store home with me. The saleswoman suggested that I try on a very simple dress to begin with, and as soon as it was on my body I didn't want to take it off. When the Wise Soprano arrived and saw it, she just sort of sighed "Ohhh" in a way that confirmed what I already knew. The sample size fit me pretty well, but just for fun I tried on one size down and it was perfect. No alterations needed—I was able to take it home that day! I had such a magical experience at Saja. We had the store all to ourselves for the hour, and it was the most calming environment, no pressure or aggressive sales techniques to be found. You can check them out and see lots of pictures of gorgeous brides on their Facebook page.

Now here's the crazy thing…a couple weeks before the wedding, when I was cleaning out all the wedding-related bookmarks from my browser, I found a link to the dress I bought. It was the first dress I ever bookmarked, and then I had forgotten all about it! How's that for meant to be?

I bought the sash in the store that day as well, and the brooch was my German grandmother's. My aunt gave it to me years ago, and I was so happy to have the right moment to wear it.

I love my birdcage veil so much. I look terrible in all hats (ALL HATS), but I am a big fan of fascinators and the like. My veil was made by my lovely friend Emily of Rohm Bridal (Emily and I went to college together many moons ago) who does the most beautiful work! The veil elevated a very simple look to something so special, and it's such high quality that I can picture passing it down to a daughter one day.

Oddly enough, while the dress ended up being easy to find, I had the hardest time finding the right shoes. The moral of the story is: don't go to Bergdorf's and try on Manolo Blahniks if you are not prepared to spend $700 on a pair of shoes. You will end up falling in love with a pair and then looking for a cheaper version, which will not exist. Sigh. Learn from my mistakes, people. It took me weeks of longing for the Manolos before I had to give myself a wake-up call and start fresh. After that, I found the perfect shoes right away. They are NOTHING like the ones I fell in love with originally.

They're Kate Spade, and I love them so. On CM's feet are Paul Smith socks given to me as an opening night gift by a director, and new shoes from Humanic.

My necklace was Swarovski (local to Austria—did you know that?), given to me by CM as a wedding day gift. Without particularly meaning to, I ended up with something old (the brooch), something new (most everything else), something borrowed (Legs McGee let me borrow her slip at the last minute), and something blue (my gorgeous necklace). It was the only piece of jewelry I wore besides my engagement ring.

I was incredibly lucky to have friends who knew what they were doing in the hair and makeup department, because I foolishly thought I would be able to do it all myself. I fell in love with this hairstyle, but when I tried to replicate it by myself a couple weeks before the wedding, it was a bit of a disaster. Thank goodness for Legs McGee and the Wise Soprano, who came to my hotel room along with the Best Friend and Polly Polyglot, armed with all manner of bobby pins, curling irons, hairdryers, and makeup, and proceeded to make me beautiful while I sat passively in my bathrobe. Heaven. We joked that they should open a salon, and it would be called We've Got Volume, Folks! It's always good to have a backup career.

I had bought some new makeup from Sephora, and Legs McGee brought lipstick for me (I never wear more than gloss, and I wouldn't know how to begin to find the right shade—somehow she found it without me even being there). I can highly recommend Make Up For Ever foundation, concealer, and powder (all in the palest colors they come in, obvs), because my makeup managed to stay put through an entire day of record heat and lots of happy crying. Also, Legs McGee made me look better than I had ever looked previously. It was a good day to have a professional photographer around. (For those of you interested in such things, I also wore Nars blush in Orgasm, Stila eyeshadow in Kitten and Americano (and a few other things LMcG threw in for good measure, I think), Cover Girl Liquiline Blast Eyeliner in black layered over violet, Cover Girl LashBlast Fusion Water Resistant Mascara in Very Black, Sephora Nano Lip Liner in Pure Pinky, and MAC lipstick in Crème Cup.)


CM wore a navy suit from Hugo Boss. Because he is male, he magically lost weight just from walking in Vienna (despite a somewhat increased beer intake, ahem), so this suit was the first thing that had fit him perfectly for several months. He looked super dashing and handsome.

We bought his tie at Peek & Cloppenburg and the boutonniere was just fresh lavender tied with white ribbon. The ribbon actually came unraveled before the wedding even began, so he ended up wearing the lavender in his pocket for the rest of the day.

I gave him cufflinks for a wedding day present. They were made by Sandy of PunkyJane on Etsy, who did an incredible job. One said "I Do" and the other had our wedding date on it. I also got him one of these with our wedding date for him to carry always (bonus: he'll never forget our anniversary).

Funny story: CM got ready at the ceremony venue, and by mistake he brought the wrong shirt, one without French cuffs. Luckily My Gay Husband was getting ready with him. "I need a pair of scissors and something sharp," he said, and lying on the table were scissors and a corkscrew. He cut the buttons off and made holes with the corkscrew, and voila! CM was able to wear the cufflinks. MGH has a new nickname: Gay MacGyver.

Incidentally, CM always finds the cutest, slightly funky but still professional glasses at SEE. This girl makes passes at boys who wear glasses.

(All photos by the unparalleled Pink Pixel Photography.)

Bossy Wedding: The Week Before

From the moment we decided to have the wedding in Vienna we knew we wanted to plan other events leading up to it. If you're inviting people to travel halfway around the world, you want to entertain them for more than just a few hours. We did a lot of brainstorming and ended up coming up with activities that took us from Thursday night through Sunday morning.

Thursday night we started with The Best of the Wurst, a beer and wurst crawl through the inner part of the city. I'm very proud of the name, which came to me in a flash of inspiration one morning. The lack of open container laws in Europe is always a treat for Americans, who dream of walking through the streets sipping a beer (at least THIS American does), and Vienna in the summer is hopping with outdoor events, so we kept the whole evening outside. We started at the Staatsoper with a beer while we waited for everyone to arrive. Some of our guests had already been in Vienna for a day or more (our parents all arrived on Sunday), and some were meeting for the first time.

Once everyone was there, we headed to the Würstelstand behind the Staatsoper (our fave) for a Käsekrainer and more beer, which we took up to the top of the Albertina Museum to eat.

Then we headed to the Museumsquartier, which took much longer than expected, first because the Spanische Hochreitschule Summer Ball was in progress (many detours and Wieners in fancy dress), and then because we stumbled upon people dancing in the Heldenplatz (we wanted to watch).

To the Museumsquartier for more wurst and more beer, and then we ended the night at the Rathaus (City Hall), where they hold a Film Festival of operas and music during the summer, complete with lots of food and drink booths. Thursday's selection was Bruckner's 5th Symphony (probably wouldn't have been our 1st choice), and the place was packed with people ignoring the music. We foraged for food and sat on park benches chatting. All in all, a great night and a perfect way to see the city.

Friday morning we were up early to avoid the heat for our Photo Scavenger Hunt (Did you know the word for scavenger hunt in German is Schnitzeljagd? Me either.) We divided into 2 teams and gave each team an Instax camera, which is sort of like a Polaroid but cuter. I had been looking for an excuse to buy one for a very long time, and we ended up buying 3 different kinds to see which we liked best (this one, but I think we're keeping them all).

CM came up with the list and instructions: 

The rules: To take a photo of each one of the following items. Speed is not the goal, but rather, creativity. Take turns taking the photos so that everyone has taken at least one, and each team member must be in at least one of the photos.

1. Something with “Vienna” or “Wien” in the title
2. Team members with a statue of a composer
3. A street entertainer
4. 1 Team member with a Mozart ticket seller (bonus if you can steal his wig)
5. A window display of desserts and/or pastries (photos of eating the subjects are optional)
6. Team members on a tram
7. The inside of a church
8. Team members reflected in a mirror
9. Plaque on the side of a building denoting something historic
10. Team members jumping in front of the Rathaus OR the Stephansdom OR the Konzerthaus
11. Flowers in a park
12. Team members with a Fiaker (horse & carriage driver)
BONUS: Someone in a Dirndl or Lederhosen

Oh, lord, was that fun. We're going to take all the Instax photos and put them in an album. Some of them are so funny. 

Friday night we had people over to our apartment for desserts and cocktails. By that time in the week, we were pretty exhausted, so I scrapped all plans of baking cakes and instead went to Oberlaa and got lots of delicious things. Papa Bossy made biscotti and I made Porch Swings (CM had brought Pimm's back for me from a recent trip to London). We actually ended up leaving our own party early so that we could do a few last-minute wedding things and get some sleep.

Getting a hotel room the night before the wedding was one of the best choices we made, and I highly recommend it to others getting married. After all the craziness of the week, we sat quietly in bed and talked about everything we were looking forward to the next day. It was magical. Also, if you're looking for a hotel, why not make it Le Meridien? They treated us so well, upgrading us to a suite when they heard we were getting married, and leaving champagne in our room on the night of the wedding.

Saturday was the wedding, of course, and then Sunday we all met up for brunch at Pierre, a favorite spot in our neighborhood. It was low-key and easy, and we were able to all sit outside on the patio. We left that night for our honeymoon, so it was the perfect way to say goodbye.

The best thing about planning so much together time for the week before the wedding was that by the time Saturday rolled around everyone knew each other already. If we'd held the wedding in the States, our friends might have met each other for the first time on the day itself. It was such a luxury to not have to worry about any new dynamics and feel completely confident that everyone would have a good time together. Plus, we loved showing off our city, and because we knew we were leaving so soon it felt like a last Vienna hurrah for us as well.

(All photos by me again.)

Bossy Wedding: The Invitations

Sometimes the best ideas we have start out as jokes (see: Eiffel Tower Nespresso pod holder) before we decide they're too good to laugh away. We wanted to send out Save-the-Dates via email so that we could take our time collecting real addresses and give everyone a taste of the party we were planning (although at that point we knew NONE of the actual details other than the date). We played around with video ideas, and then, with only a bit of guidance from me, CM made THIS!

Sigh. He's amazing.

When it came to the actual paper invitations, we looked at quite a few (expensive) options online, before I finally had the bright idea to ask my parents for their help. (I like to say I was not so much a DIY bride as a HYDDI (Have Your Dad Do It) bride). Collaborating with them on the design, the paper, and every decision was incredible, and the product we ended up with was better and more personal than anything we had found. Plus, a friend of theirs printed them in her basement (yeah, I was skeptical at first, too) for a ridiculously low rate.

The Invitation:

That's Vienna's skyline on the bottom, in case you're wondering.

We also printed little coordinating cards with our wedding website, and return address labels (which I imagined we'd be able to use for a long time—wah waah).

I had this idea to use vintage Vienna postcards for RSVP cards, and I had SUCH fun hunting them down on eBay. Then we used a rolling alphabet stamp to print on the back (and by "we" I mean "my dad," who has a much steadier hand than I do).

I really liked the idea of using vintage stamps on the envelopes, and I spent one rainy afternoon poring through stamps at a little shop in Manhattan, but I didn't end up finding a ton that I loved, so we mostly used USPS Love stamps, which this year are the King and Queen of Hearts. I did use some of the vintage ones for the invitations going to Europe, though. Fun fact: we discovered it costs about the same to send mail to Germany from the USA as it does to send it from Austria. Who knew?

Metropolitan Opera stamps! (Nerd alert.)

I was lucky enough to be able to go home to Oregon and visit my folks in March, so we went to the paper store to choose envelopes and paper, went to the printer together, and then formed an assembly line at the dining room table stuffing, addressing, stamping, and sealing.

That's my dad in the "No Kangaroos in Austria" t-shirt.

We were so pleased with how everything turned out. Also, it didn't hurt that the total we spent on invitations (including stamps, paper, envelopes, pens, rolling alphabet stamp and ink, printing, and the vintage postcards) was $300. I highly recommend a HYDDI wedding.

(All photos in this post by me, which is why they're all blurry. You can click them to see them bigger.)

Bossy Wedding

When we first started planning our wedding, I said I wanted it to feel like a backyard family party we would throw, if we had a backyard and were professional chefs. I clipped photos of long tables lined with small arrangements of wildflowers. We pictured friends from every part of each of our lives, meeting for the first time and becoming the community that would witness and support our marriage. We were adamant from the beginning that every element of the day should be meaningful and memorable for us, and that any "traditions" that didn't pass those tests wouldn't be part of our wedding. I thought I'd probably cry all day, and laugh even more.

At some point during the planning process, I got a bit sidetracked. Everyone was always asking how the wedding planning was going as if it was supposed to be a full-time job, and I had never had much to offer in response. We had picked a date and a venue, we had invited people, I had found a dress—what was left? After quitting the wedding blogs cold turkey, I ended up guiltily reading them all again. I couldn't help myself. And all of a sudden, I was getting a LOT of ideas. Maybe we should be shopping for tiny vases to hold our tiny wildflower bouquets (I was going to arrange them myself, of course). And maybe we should be decorating the reception restaurant with DIY bunting made of vintage sheet music. Maybe we should have a wall of antique keys so that people can write their "keys to a happy marriage" on tags and then hang them on keys. And then we would need to have a vintage hotel key holder to hang all the keys, or maybe a vintage window frame that I painted myself. (That is a real thing I saw on a wedding blog—I am not creative enough to make that up.)

Up to that point, I hadn't been stressed about the wedding much at all (CM might disagree). But all this DIY nonsense completely freaked me out. Thank goodness CM was there to save me from myself. We hired a florist (duh), left the sheet music bunting in its prototype stage, and didn't go out once to source antique keys.

And the wedding was everything we wanted it to be, truly a perfect day. The things that went "wrong" are some of my fondest memories, like CM bringing the wrong shirt, or my veil flying off, or a ladybug landing on my shoulder and distracting me during the vows, or the tiny raindrops that started falling during dinner and resulted in everyone pitching in to move tables just in time for the rain to stop. You always hear people saying their wedding day flew past in a blur, but it didn't feel like that to me. If anything, my awareness was so heightened that almost every part of the day is etched into my memory.

Still, it couldn't hurt to write it all down for posterity, right? This week I'm so excited to share with you the photos and stories of our wedding. All photos, unless otherwise noted, are by Pink Pixel Photography, all rights reserved. I hope you'll enjoy reliving the day with me.

Happy weekend!

What is everyone doing this weekend? Any big plans? We're planning a last lazy day in New York tomorrow (possibly with a trip to Levain for the best cookies in the world) before we had back to Houston in the evening. The big potential excitement on Sunday is that we're getting a Costco membership! Yes, we are embracing America (and our new spacious kitchen).

Some weekend linky goodness:

We can't get enough of Sherlock (and it's on Instant Netflix), a modernized Sherlock Holmes miniseries from BBC. Luckily, more episodes are coming this winter.

This would be an excellent use of a lazy Sunday morning.

I'm not sure exactly what we're going to do with it, but I MUST own this piece of furniture. Perfection.

Single tickets to the Met's new season go on sale tomorrow. Which shows are you excited about?

I splurged on a new bag for work, big enough to hold a score AND a laptop. I love love love it.

Just in case you could use a little Firenze in your life...

Here's hoping your weekend is filled with easy travel days, fruity sangria, and air-conditioned movie theaters. xoxo LMB

It's a helluva town

People, I do not know how anyone lives in New York for realsies. We arrived Saturday for a one-week stay, and this city has already both completely kicked my ass AND stolen my pocketbook (not really, it's a metaphor). Work is great: there's almost nowhere I'd rather spend my days than in a darkened theater discussing lighting states and staging options. (I say almost because I wouldn't mind at all spending a few more days in Tuscany ogling sunflower fields and eating my body weight in pasta, obvs.) CM is with me, dutifully playing Opera Husband while still managing to get oodles of work done. The weather isn't horrid. We're seeing friends.

HOWEVER. This morning I spent half an hour on the A train, standing awkwardly close to strangers, stuck between stations. Every few minutes the conductor announced that we were stopped due to track work, and that we'd be moving again in "just a few moments." Then she would (in what could only be a passive aggressive display of irony) thank us for our patience, every time. When we finally got started again, there was a collective sigh of relief, which is how I know that the woman next to me ate an onion bagel for breakfast. Then, inexplicably, with nary a thanks for our patience, the express train started making local stops. I don't know why. No one was getting off the train, but there were large crowds at every single station, cramming into the car in waves. After an hour and change, I finally got off the train and tasted fresh air at Columbus Circle. I arrived at work 10 minutes before our tech session started.

This is not a civilized way to live.

I think I miss my SUV. (Feel free to judge.)

Lee Anne & Dan • October 18, 2003

From Lee Anne...

On what date did you get married?
October 18, 2003

What do you remember most from your wedding?
Looking out over the reception room and thinking “Yep. These people are so awesome...and they're our friends and family. We are so very blessed."

What's your advice for building a happy and fulfilling marriage?
Hrmmmm—this is something we're always working on: not in the workbook sense, but in the ‘being kind’ sense...I think sometimes when you're super familiar and comfortable it's so very easy to be hard on each other...hold the other to high (unspoken) expectations, expect supreme mind-reading abilities to manifest in laundry being done or groceries in the fridge or a fantastic vacation planned without having to utter a word...but the truth is that we're often cruelest to those closest to us. We try really hard to be loving and nice, even on those rare occasions when we're not agreeing. And I have finally admitted that my ESP is non-functional, and that I cannot make Dan do anything using just brain waves. (Well, I can make him get really frustrated with me for not actually saying what it is I want/need...haven't figured out how to use my powers for good yet, though.) 

Anything you know now that you wish you had known when you got married?
Reinvent yourselves when you need to...but do it together. In some ways we're right where we thought we'd be eight years in, and in some ways we're light years away. But we're together and happy, and creating this weird life together!

Happy weekend!

My dears, what do you have planned this weekend (one of the FEW left before summer's over!)? We're hopping on a plane to New York tomorrow for a week. I have tech next week, and CM is coming along as Opera Husband! (Well, actually he's doing some work too, but a girl can dream.) I'm so looking forward to being back at work, after over 2 months off. Hope I still remember how to do my job.

A few links for your weekend:

Have you seen these incredible photos that photographer James Mollison takes of children from all over the world and where they sleep? They are completely fascinating, and a book has now been published of them: Where Children Sleep.

We are rediscovering the joys of cable, and we have become totally addicted to Rocco's Dinner Party on Bravo. Have you seen it? Rocco Dispirito brings in 3 chefs every episode, puts them through a challenge, and then chooses 2 to create complete dinner parties for him and his (hilarious) B-list celebrity friends, a different group every time. It's like a super-condensed Top Chef, but with fun party banter.

Speaking of which, on the last episode we watched the guys from one of our favorite podcasts was on. Have you listened to The Dinner Party Download ("guaranteed to help you win your next dinner party")? It comes out once a week, is only 15-20 minutes, and always makes me laugh and gives me something random to discuss. I highly recommend it.

As we pick furniture and decor for our new place, I've been having fun using Polyvore, a tool to make inspiration boards. I made two potential looks for our living room: here and here.

This is what I've been drinking for cocktail hour this week. It's delicious. I may or may not have tried it because I love Bethenny Frankel more than I should.

Another wedding picture that makes me happy. I love this guy.

Hope your weekend is filled with ripe tomatoes, cocktails al fresco, and watching reality TV in bed. xoxo LMB

Home sweet Houston

One year ago today we woke up in our Vienna apartment for the first time (probably around 4am, if I'm remembering correctly). We were ready to start our new life as expats in Europe, excited to discover our favorite restaurants and shops, studying hard for our upcoming German classes.

This morning I woke up in Houston, in a gorgeous high-rise apartment with a panoramic view that is being generously lent to us until we get settled. We got in our rental SUV, stopped at Starbucks, and I dropped CameraMan off at work, where I'll meet him in a couple hours for lunch.

We're back. It's official.

And it occurred to me this morning that I never really wrote about what was happening with us. What with the families in town, and the wedding, and the honeymoon, and the move, it's all over and I never told you why we came back. Well, if you're wondering, this is why (that top picture was taken by me, incidentally). My beloved CM got an opportunity the likes of which does not come frequently, an offer that we could not pass up. The timing was terrible, neither of us felt like we were done in Vienna, but we also both knew almost without a doubt that this was the right move, not only for CM's career, but for us. I think Vienna will always hold a special meaning for us: it's the place we got engaged, the place we got married, and I think the place we truly learned to rely on each other. Now we're on to the next adventure.

So here I am, back on American soil, expat no longer. It looks like I won't be crossing #6 off my list any time soon. I'm struggling a bit with what to do with this space, what it means, why I'm writing and for whom. I think the answers to those questions will come in their own time, so for now I'm going to keep telling you about my life as it unfolds. In the next few weeks, I'll also be sharing details and images from our wedding, excerpts from the journal I kept on our honeymoon (I'll leave out the racy bits), and a few more Happy Marriage posts, because it turns out I know a lot of happy marriages. I'll also be telling you all about the rental townhouse we found which is absolutely perfect in every way. We move in (with our meager belongings—remember the Great Purge of 2010?) on the 15th!


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