Tag Archives: ohio

Location, Location, Location: Debates on What State

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I’ve got this dream wedding location in my head, and I’m hoping it’s not imaginary.

You see, we have a really small budget.  But we still really like to party.  We’re not opposed to DIY.  And we want to spend as much time with our friends and family as possible.

So, our A+, #1, ideal wedding venue would be some kind of camp, B&B, or conference center that we could take over for a whole weekend and have everyone stay in the same place!  Someplace that included a beautiful outdoor ceremony site, a kitchen we could use to self-cater, someplace for people to eat, drink, and dance, and cabins or a lodge that everyone could stumble off to after partying all night.

Look at this gorgeous summer camp wedding!
Credit: http://www.theweddingwarriors.com/?p=1012

I know, we dream big.  But I can’t help hoping that if the amazing Sara and Matt of 2000 Dollar Budget Wedding (a HUGE inpsiration to me!) can do it, than so can we!  So that’s the goal right now.

With that in mind, the first thing we had to do was decide which state to get married in!

Option #1: Ohio. 😦 See, Zach and I are both from Ohio and so our families naturally assumed we’d be getting married there.  However, while we both agree that Ohio was a great place to grow up, we’ve since broken away and don’t intend to live there long-term again in the future.  Honestly, it’s just kind of (REALLY) boring.  However, most of Zach’s friends and extended family still live in Ohio.  AND wedding stuff is significantly cheaper there.

This is Ohio. We’ve got some corn. And some barns.
Credit: http://kellybanik.blogspot.com/2011/04/other-peoples-lives.html

Option #2: California!  Although we’ve been working summer jobs in Ohio this year, the weeks are quickly ticking by and our planned move to San Diego, California is getting closer!  We both love San Diego, the sun, the waves, the perfect temperature, the proximity to Mexico!  This is where we can finally see ourselves “settling down” (which, for us, may only mean staying somewhere longer than a year, who knows) and where we’d like to get married.  It will be so much easier to plan a wedding close to where we are living.  Plus, I have a lot of friends and family scattered around the country.  When I sketched out my side of the guest list for our wedding, I realized that more than half of my people will have to get on a plane, whether the wedding is in Ohio or not!  Do I really want to make those poor people pay for a plane ticket and take time off to go to Ohio?  Heck no!  The downside to this, however, is that a lot of Zach’s extended family may not be able to afford to come to California.  The brutal-but-true upside to that downside: it would definitely help keep our numbers in check since his family is HUGE.

Option #3: The Arizona back-up plan.  Before we left on our long Latin American odyssey trip, Zach and I were living in northern Arizona.  See, his parents bought a house out there that they are planning to move to when they retire.  But, they haven’t retired yet!  So we got to live there for a year and house-sit for them!  During that year, we really grew to love the area.  The house is within an hour of the Grand Canyon, Sedona’s red rocks, mountain climbing, swimming holes, and tons of other awesome stuff!  Plus, the house is pretty big and we could definitely clear a section of the yard for the ceremony.  The problem here would be that we’d still be long-distance planning, we’d have to rent all the tables and chairs, and people would have to stay in hotels that are at least 15 minutes away from the house.  But it’s a good backup plan because we know it won’t book up and it’s still an awesome vacation spot.

View from the back porch of the Arizona house

What do you think, people?  We’re clearly leaning towards having the wedding in California, and hoping to find a great venue there.  If you were in our situation, what state would you choose?

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Sweatier’n’a sumo wrestler in a sauna!

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Allow me to rant for one moment.  Did you know it has been over 90 degrees every day for the past four days here, even getting up to 101 degrees at one point?  Holy bonkers, that is hot!  I thought I left Central America!  Apparently this week has been “historic” for high temperatures, as it has been all over the country pretty much.  Running has been pretty miserable as you can imagine.  But you know what the worst part is?  We don’t have A/C in the car, and I have a 20+ minute drive to work.  That’s 20 minutes of sweating before I arrive to serve tables.  I show up looking like I just ran a marathon.  It’s gross.  Also, I have been trying to get a third job, so showing up for interviews after driving in the heat has been a real barrel of fun.  I’ve had to start wearing different clothes in the car, then change, reapply powder and body spray in a nearby fast food place bathroom.  It’s awesome.

Plus, our electricity is not included in our rent, and neither of us has ever had a separate electric bill before.  We have no idea how much we can run the A/C without racking it up to $100 a month.  We’ve been trying to run it as little as possible, but we have to have it at night and a few times a day.  Not looking forward to that bill.

Oh, first world problems.  Well, poor people in the first world problems.  Most people who can afford it have A/C in their car, I think.

The Whole Cheesy Story, Part 4

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First read Parts 1, 2, and 3.

Finally, the end of the “how we met” saga!

When we last left off in my long, drawn out love story, Zach and I had finally said the big “L word”, and the next day I got on a plane to start my two years of Peace Corps service.  I went off to Tanzania to learn Swahili, live in a village, and do my best to contribute something, and he stayed in Ohio, working on his degree.  We left our relationship undefined and I had no idea what would happen.  I honestly expected him to forget about me and find a new girl who wasn’t an ocean away.  But he didn’t.  And the trouble was, I couldn’t forget about him either.  I did my best to adopt a “whatever happens, happens” attitude to the situation and focus on the present.  But I couldn’t stop dreaming about the future, imagining us ending up together.  Every time I got an email or a letter or a super-expensive phone call from Zach I would smile all day.  I had never wanted to be in a long-distance relationship while in the Peace Corps, as I imagined missing someone would make it even harder than it already was to be so far from home.  Well, even though our relationship was unofficial, missing him was still incredibly hard.

My Tanzanian life

So, when my bestie got engaged and told me I had to come back to be MOH in her wedding, I was unbelievably psyched!  Not only would I get to be in her wedding and eat American food I’d been missing, I’d get to see Zach!  So I booked a round trip flight home.  I’d been away for nine months and despite the ups and downs of Peace Corps life, I had every intention of sticking it out and returning for 17 more months.  In the weeks leading up to my return, I couldn’t concentrate on anything besides counting the days and wondering if Zach and I would still have the same chemistry.

Boy did we.  The sparks flew so intensely during that whirlwind two weeks.   The morning after the wedding, I suddenly found myself sitting in a Tim Hortons, hours before my return flight, sobbing that I didn’t want to go back.  Thus began the most difficult decision I have ever had to make.  I was an emotional wreck, and Zach was amazing.  He never once asked me to stay.  He told me that all he wanted was for me to be happy.  After a few gut-wrenching hours, crying conversations with my family and best friend (yes, I called her the day after her wedding, I’m horrible), and general stress over the prospect of ruining my whole life plan, I realized that I just couldn’t leave again.

I swallowed my pride and I quit the Peace Corps for a guy.  Honestly, there were other reasons why I wasn’t super happy in Tanzania, but Zach was definitely the biggest one.  If I hadn’t met him, or if I had never come home for the wedding, I’m sure I would have stuck it out for the whole two years.  Like I said, this was the hardest decision I ever made.  Life was all of a sudden full of uncertainty, and I was plagued with guilt and feelings of failure for quitting.  To this day, I still feel badly for leaving.  I never, ever envisioned myself becoming the kind of person who would give up her life plan for a romance.  But, Zach was the first guy I was ever with who I was willing to do that for, and maybe that’s how I knew it was right.  Looking back, I don’t regret any of my Peace Corps service, and I don’t regret my decision to quit either.

Anyway, all of a sudden I had the man of my dreams, no job, no plan, and a scarily insecure feeling about the future.  “What should we do now?” I asked Zach.  “Let’s drive to California.” he said.  So we did.  And the rest is (recent) history.

Pacific Beach, San Diego, a week after I quit the Peace Corps

Did anyone else make an impulsive/irresponsible-seeming/risky/life-changing decision for love?  How did it work out?

Runnin’ Runnin’

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I read a lot of blogs.  My Google Reader is always wayyy too full of blogs of all different types: weddings, travel, cooking, lifestyle.  I don’t ever read magazines though.  I think I just find real life stories, written in first person, much more interesting than celebrity gossip and what-have-you.

Strangely, one type of blog I find really fascinating are running blogs.  This is strange because I’ve never liked running.  Yet I read about these amazingly buff women running 20 miles a week, training for marathons, RUNNING marathons, and seeming to love it.

I read them and I think, “MAN, I want that!”  I am jealous of their awesomeness at exercise and their amazing high-mileage accomplishments.  Then, one day I found this training plan…

I think you know where this is going.  I’m trying again.  Although it’s never worked for me in the past, I just can’t give up.  I have no money for a gym membership right now, and I have a wedding dress to fit in next year!  Plus, I’ve got the jealousy of these awesome ladies whose blogs I read.

So I found this: Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training Program.  And it seemed strangely doable, and strangely exciting.  This is not a promise, because running 13.1 miles, for practically TWO HOURS, still seems insane to me.  But I am officially beginning Week 3 of this program, and so far so good.  Today I did my second “long run”, four miles, and it kinda sucked, mostly because it was so freakin’ hot outside!  The Ohio summer may not be the best time to be attempting this.  But attempting it I am, so far.

The thing is, races are expensive, and running an actual race just sounds kinda “meh…” to me.  However, if I really manage to get through this whole program, I should probably celebrate by running an actual race.  Maybe.  What do you think?  Should I be researching early-September 1/2 marathons in this area?  Or should I wait a little longer to see if I can stick to the program?  Am I just being crazy?

“Can you put a bow in it?” a.k.a. How to Get a Job with Dreadlocks

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Honestly, I was fearing the prospect of searching for restaurant jobs in conservative Ohio with my super-hippy dreads.  But, long story short, I got a job and I am already employed, only a week after returning!  The process was not without its bumps, however.

I went in for my first interview at this really classy French bistro/wine bar.  I thought it went okay, not great, and wasn’t really expecting to get it.  The next day, however, I get a call from them.  And right away, as the owner is hemming and hawing and obviously uncomfortable about what he’s about to say, I knew it was about the dreads.  He basically asked me if I was planning to keep them.  Yes, of course, I said.  He was totally apologetic about making it an issue and felt really bad about possibly offending me, but he was also really concerned about the restaurant’s conservative, rich, snotty-pants customers and what they would think.  He asked me about different ways I could style my hair and was being all iffy.  Then he asked me to come in for a “second interview”, which basically consisted of him looking at my hair again, going back and forth some more, and then asking me if I could “put a bow in it.”  “I can put whatever you want in it!” I replied.  Men are so funny when they’re trying to describe women’s hairstyles.  “Okay,” he finally said, “it’ll be fine.”

So, I got the job, provided I put a  black ribbon around my dread ponytail every night.  Lol.  As if that makes the dreadlocks disappear?

But, I am happy, because aside from that minor hiccup, it was the easiest job search I have ever had!  Yay for people putting stereotypes aside and hiring the best qualified candidate no matter what they look like!

Physical Challenge Life List

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As our time here is winding down, I’m overwhelmed with mixed emotions.  Partly happiness about going home to friends, family, grocery stores and farmers markets, microbrews, and a kitchen!  But a big part of me is very very sad to be saying goodbye (for now) to all the adventures, the constantly-changing scenery, the daily challenges of travel, the cheap street food, and the gorgeous hiking.

Feeling victorious after climbing the highest peak in El Salvador!

I do feel like I’ve matured a lot on this journey, and one of the ways I’ve matured is in regards to my outlook on health.  I used to say that I wanted to die before I get old.  I don’t want that anymore, but I do want to be a super healthy, on-the-go old person.  I think it makes sense to say that accomplishing that goal depends a lot on the investments I make towards it now.  I’ve preached about the organic, vegetarian diet on here before, so I don’t need to go into that again.  And yes, I will always have a sweet tooth and a baking addiction, but moderation is the key.

I’ve kind of gotten over drinking on this trip.  I think an occasional, special-occasion, in-moderation drinker is what I would like to be.  I’m just getting too old for the college-type shenanigans!  The less I drink, the healthier, happier, and more alert I feel.  I’m sure this is a normal transition that most people go through, otherwise there would be a lot more 40-year-old running around doing kegstands.  But still I read what I’ve written and think, “Oh my gosh I’m becoming a lame old lady!”  C’est la vie.

Also, all the hiking, pack-carrying, and occasional surfing we’ve done here has gotten me into better shape than I’ve ever been in.  I’ve still got a spare tire but I am stronger than I’ve ever been in my life.  And it feels great!  What sucks is that with our return to Ohio looming, I’m already missing all the awesome hikes, mountains, beaches, and activities available here.  I really want to maintain, and hopefully improve, my fitness level once we get home.  It’s going to be hard in Ohio, because I’m not a big fan of running, and gym workouts are just so boring compared to mountain climbing!  Our time in Ohio will be brief, however, and I’m committed to finding ways to stay moving somehow.  Once we head west again, fitness can become a lot more fun.

Because I love lists so much, I came up with a new goal list of all the “physical challenge”-type activities I would like to accomplish in my life.  This will probably get added to a lot as I think of new things.  Not all of them are super-physical, some are just outdoorsy activities.  Hopefully I can check one or two within a year of getting home.  These are the things that get me excited and motivate me to work out hard (well, other than wearing a wedding dress next summer)!

Physical Challenge Life List
1. Master surfing

2. Master rock-climbing

3. Master snow-boarding

4. Climb Cotopaxi (Ecuador)

5. Climb Mt. Whitney (California)

6. Climb Kilimanjaro (Tanzania)

7. Hike the Grand Canyon, to the river and back

8. Bungee jump at Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe/Zambia)

9. Ride in a hot air balloon

10. Really give yoga a try

11. Learn to swing dance

What do you think of my list?  Way too ambitious or do-able?  Has anyone else ever made a list like this?

The Whole Cheesy Story, Part 1

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Disclaimer: I’m probably going to talk about wedding-planning a lot on this blog.  BUT fear not, it is not going to become exclusively a “wedding blog”, especially because our wedding is probably not going to be particularly blog-worthy.  (The very wise Meg says it doesn’t have to be.)  I’m still going to write about a little bit of everything.  I’ll be back more once we’re back in the U.S. this summer.  But I’m going to want to write about the planning process here, as we try to have an “awesomely-us” and very A-typical wedding.  So what better way to start that with our whole cheesy story?

This is how much life has reinforced to me that my plans don’t mean anything.  I distinctly remember being 18-years-old, sitting at Hounddogs Pizza with two friends from high school, our departures for various colleges imminent on the horizon.  We were talking about the exciting possibilities of college guys, of course.  I remember saying something almost exactly like this: “You’re not going to meet any decent guys at parties or bars…that’s trashy.  We should try to meet guys in classes or clubs or something.”  Oh, how wise I thought I was!

Fast forward 3.5 years.

February 11, 2009 was a pretty average Wednesday night in Columbus, Ohio.  I had recently graduated from college, finally broken up with my way-too-long-way-too-wrong college boyfriend (who I met at orientation…how wholesome!), and moved back home to my parents’ house for the six months I had before I would be leaving for Peace Corps Tanzania.  I had just gotten my first serving job to fill my time, and was focused on enjoying my friends and my newfound freedom before leaving for Africa.

This Wednesday was to be a girls’ night with my BFF and some of her college friends near OSU campus.  And as much as I hate to admit that this was the scene of the crime, where else would we go on a Wednesday night but out for $10 fishbowls????

Yes sirree, we went to the oh-so-fratty Ugly Tuna Saloona!!!  An OSU legend.  What can I say, we loved fishbowls.  (Still do.)  We managed to snag a high-top table, and were just enjoying ourselves chatting and dancing.  At the table next to us was a group of three guys.  Eventually somehow these guys ended up at our table, introducing themselves.  (Zach claims he was the one who made it happen.)  The first guy I talked to was one of Zach’s friends, but somehow in the middle of our conversation I got distracted by the curly-haired blonde kid talking to my BFF on the other side of the table (Zach).  There was probably some liquid courage involved, because I’m normally not at all outgoing, but I found myself moving over there and sidling up to him.  We talked for awhile (more like shouted at each other over the blasting music) and discovered a few common interests in movies, music, etc.  And I definitely thought he was beyond attractive.  Eventually Zach’s friends wanted to leave (guess they weren’t having as good of luck as he was!) but before they headed out, Zach asked me if I was free to go out on Friday night.  I told him sure I was, trying to act all cool like I was a pro at this dating game (I definitely was not), and we exchanged numbers.  Of course at the time I was not looking for a relationship (I was about to leave for two years in Africa!) but I was excited for a date (my first after breaking up with my ex, so I guess you could call it a rebound) and some casual flirtation.

Another funny tidbit: I must’ve been on fire that night because after Zach left some other guy came up and offered to buy me a drink.  I got him to buy us all another fishbowl (after Zach had totally mooched a lot of our first one!) and then told him to go away.  He was a frat-guy greaseball.  Lol.

That night when I got home I got a text around 2am.  “Don’t forget you’re hanging out with me Friday night!” from the newest contact in my phone, Zach.

Occupy Wall Street

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I have been a horrible blogger lately.  But life has been crazy, yo.  We finally arrived back in Ohio last Sunday, after six weeks on the road.  There wasn’t really any relaxation in sight though, because we promptly took off to New Jersey on Tuesday to trade cars with my sister.  She bought mine so I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping up on payments on it while in South America.  Thus the complete cross-country drive from San Francisco to New York City was complete!  While on the East Coast we had whirlwind day of galavanting around the city (Occupy Wall St, Williamsburg, etc.) then drove to Nyack that night to see my dearest college roommate, Erica.  The boxed-wine-drinking and Big-Lebowski-watching was glorious.  On the way back to Ohio we stopped in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania to hang out with my brother at his college for a night.  Went hiking and had a grand old time there.

I still have so much to catch up on as far as recapping our big road trip, and now we are in the throes of final South America preparation!  So this is where I throw some pictures up just to make this post seem less lame.  I’ll write more later, I promise.

For now here are some pics of Occupy Wall St.  What does everyone think of this movement???  I’m undecided about it and would love to hear your views!

The Midwest

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We’ve been back in the good ol’ Midwest for several days now.  We drove from Denver to Lincoln, Nebraska, where we stayed one night.  Everyone there was football-obsessed and I knew we were back.  The highlight of our night in Lincoln was finally watching “The Tree of Life.”  It’s the newest Terrence Malick film and swept the awards at Cannes this past year.  Malick is my favorite director so I knew I would love it, but I was still blown away.  I really need to see it again and write a whole post.  But just go see it, if you get a chance.  Life-changing.

Next we headed to Iowa City, the town I grew up in from age 2-13.  This was the first time I’d been back in 10 years, so it was pretty crazy.  We drove around and found my old house and school and all the memory lane places.  We couch-surfed with some awesome people and went to Amish country.  Mmmmmmm free cheese samples!!!!  Being back in the town I grew up in was so weird…everything was so much smaller and closer together than I remembered.  Our last night we discovered that they have the exact same Kings rules as we do in Ohio!  That was fun.  On our last day we went out to breakfast with our host’s Kenyan friend.  So I got to speak some Swahili and reminisce about East Africa.

Now we are in the ‘burbs of Chicago staying with Zach’s college roommate.  He is getting some good bro-time and engineering talk in, which he deserves after dealing with my Iowa City nostalgia-fest.  Tomorrow we head to Milwaukee since none of us have ever been there.  Back to Columbus on Sunday.  I have to say that I am already tired of cornfields and boring flat-ness.  I am not a huge fan of the Midwest.  It’s a great place to grow up, but I’m done.  I’ve now lived on both sides of the country and they are both so much better than the middle.  However, I know the next few weeks will be full of catching up with friends and getting ready for South America so they will go fast.  After such an amazing trip (which I still have tons more to write about), it’s so clear to me what Ohio is:  overrated.