The Kissing Killer – Part 1

PART ONE: The Seasoned Detective

“Do you know why we’re here today?”

               The woman sitting in front of Detective Stone shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She was a tiny woman – he would have guessed maybe five feet tall at the most, and 100 pounds soaking wet. Her white-blonde hair was knotted tightly back into a low bun, accentuating the sharp features of her pale face. Although it was August in Texas and at least 100 degrees outside, she wore long black sleeves that she continuously pulled down over her bird-like hands. What struck him the most, however, was her eyes – glittering dark pools that emanated a quiet, all-consuming sadness.

               He wished that there was another place to speak to this frail woman other than the stark interrogation room, with its drab, institutional paint job, hard chairs, and humming overheard lights. She had barely spoken two words since they had arrived at the station, but it was clear that she had endured some kind of intense trauma that she was struggling to keep tucked away. Her body seemed to vibrate with the frenzied energy of it, as if she was readying herself to take flight at any moment. Earlier, when he had guided her into the room, she jumped at every movement and sound: the slight graze of his fingertips on her shoulder as they passed through the door, the deep baritone of his voice, the pop of the light when he flicked the switch, the hard plastic of the chair as she gingerly sat down. She was terrified.

               She gripped the Styrofoam cup of cooling coffee between her small hands. Finally, she shook her head, a small wisp of a movement.

               “No,” she said softly, barely above a whisper.

               Detective Stone nodded and turned to his partner, Detective Kincaid. She was the opposite of their subject in almost every way – long, curly black hair cascading over broad, confident shoulders and bright, brown-gold eyes. Kincaid was a rookie, with all of the eagerness and energy of a detective in their first year. Stone was older, in his fifties and graying at the temples, and attempted daily to model the calm and collected demeanor he felt detectives should consistently demonstrate. Kincaid couldn’t seem to be contained, however, as her enthusiasm bulged at the seams.

She slid the folder sitting in front of her over to Stone, who tapped it gently.

               “I’m going to show you some photos. Some of them are a bit graphic, but I’ll do my best to only show you what’s necessary. Is that ok?”

               The woman sitting in front of him nodded slowly. She was digging her nails into the Styrofoam now, picking flecks from the rim and letting them fall around her cup like snow.

               Stone flipped the cover of the folder open and placed the first photo in front of the woman. Her dark eyes slid over to the photo, widening and filling with – what was that? Sadness? Fear? She clamped them shut tightly and took in a deep, shuddering breath.

               The photo was of a man who was clearly dead. He was lying in a field on his back, his mouth slack and loose, a trickle of blood running from his lips down the side of his face. His eyes were wide and glassy and blank. What it didn’t show was how the man had died – Stone chose to crop out the sharp, large-handled knife sticking out of his chest, blood blooming in dried pools on his graying skin.

               “Do you know who this is?” Stone asked gently. He tapped the photo again. The woman slowly opened her eyes and wiped a stray tear from her cheek.

               “Yes,” she whispered.

               “Who is it?” Kincaid interjected sharply, her voice rising. Stone shot her a look – they had to be especially easy with this one.

               The woman ran her hands over her golden-white hair. “Can I have a cigarette?” she asked, her voice a bit louder this time.

               Kincaid shook her head. “I’m sorry, there’s no smoking—”

               “I think we can make an exception, don’t you think, Detective Kincaid?” Stone interrupted, reaching into his own jacket pocket. He pulled out a pack of Marlboros and an ancient lighter and slid them over to the woman. “Have at it. I think we could all use something to calm our nerves.”

               Kincaid obviously stifled an eye roll. “Alright. If you say so.”

               The woman pulled a cigarette from the carton and lit it with shaking hands. She breathed in deeply, her lungs audibly rattling with relief. Finally, she breathed out a puff of smoke, filling the room with a hazy glow.

               “Ok,” Kincaid said impatiently. “Who is he?”

               The woman tapped her ash into her cup, keeping her eyes trained on the glowing ember. “He’s my husband,” she said, her voice low and steady.

               Stone and Kincaid exchanged glances. They knew this already, of course. But they needed her to say it out loud.

               “What’s his name?” Stone asked, deliberately matching his cadence to their subject’s. He felt the same sensation as when he went hunting in the hill country – any loud noises or sudden movements could scare off your target.

               A pause. Then: “Jake Richards.”

               Again, Stone glanced at Kincaid, who nodded, an unspoken agreement passing between them. Stone leaned over and pulled a second photo from the folder and placed it in front of the woman.

               This one was a close up of the man’s legs, spread out in front of him in the field, a stark contrast to the dry grass pushing up around his graying skin. His calves, thighs, and knees were clearly mottled with dozens of oval-shaped scars, fading in color from deep purple to bright magenta to flesh-colored, raising and falling in haphazard patterns, creating grotesque ridges and hills up and down his skin. If they hadn’t known any better, at first glance they may have thought that he had been branded over and over with a bizarre cattle prod, searing a new wound into his flesh as soon as the last one healed.

               Of course, they certainly knew better.

               The woman visibly shuddered. “Please, put that away,” she croaked.

               Stone nodded and shut the folder. “You know what these are, don’t you?”

               “Yes,” she seethed through clenched teeth.

               “Tell me,” Stone said, failing to hide the urgency in his voice. He paused, and then spoke, more softly this time: “He’ll never know.”

               The woman sighed and wiped at her misting eyes with a black sleeve.

               “You know what they are,” she whispered. “They’re bites.”

               Stone nodded again. “Yes. Dozens and dozens of bite marks, some completely healed, some still healing.”

               The woman just stared blankly at Stone; she had gone completely still, the vibrations of her body slowly coming to a stop. Her nervous energy had seemingly leaked into the room, buzzing and swirling around the three of them.

               “Ma’am,” Stone continued, clearing his throat. “Have you ever heard of the Kissing Killer?”

               A beat. Another silent nod.

               “A ridiculous name, I know. Came from the media, not from us, though, I assure you.”

               “Maybe a ridiculous name, but very serious crimes,” Kincaid cut in.

               Stone cleared his throat. “Yes, very serious. We’ve been able to link together at least twenty victims from the last ten years. All women, all typically blonde, petite. All sexually assaulted and tortured in a similar way: severe bite mark trauma, typically focused on their appendages – arms and legs— but sometimes on the breasts, stomach, or buttocks. After they had been killed, which was usually the result of blood loss from the multiple wounds, they would be left on a roadside somewhere for us to find. Unfortunately, the bodies were always cleaned thoroughly, usually with bleach, so despite the bite marks, we never found any DNA.”

               The woman seemed to have gone into a trance; she sat unblinking, her dark eyes as wide as saucers, and her colorless lips slightly parted. The ash on her cigarette continued to grow until it fell softly into her cup, sizzling in the cold coffee below.

               “But we’ve never found a man before,” Kincaid said.

               “No, we haven’t,” Stone agreed. “But the victims usually have one more thing in common. Typically, we find that they have a few chipped or broken teeth, with no other trauma to their face that could have reasonably caused it. So, we developed a theory a few years ago that maybe…” he stopped, trying to think of the gentlest way to continue. “Maybe, our killer was forcing his victims to…reciprocate.”

               “Bite him back,” Kincaid said bluntly.

               Stone tried not to groan at her directness. “Yes, exactly,” he said. “We believe our killer had a bite fetish, in which he had to give and receive the pain in order to achieve…well, his end goal,” Stone finished lamely.

               The woman nodded slowly, lifting her cigarette once more to her lips. Her hand shook as she took another long, steady drag.

               Stone continued. “So, when we discovered this man, with these wounds, that we’ve only ever seen on our female victims—well, we thought that maybe we should run some more tests to see if we could find out who he really was. Finally, we had a hit.” He opened the folder again, and pointed to the dead man’s face. “This man’s name is not Jake Richards.”

               The woman just stared. Her eyes had deepened to pure black; Stone couldn’t tell where her pupils ended and her irises began. “No. It’s not.”

               “What is his name?” Kincaid asked, unable to conceal the eagerness from her voice.

               The woman turned her gaze to Kincaid. “Rex Jasper.”

               The admission hit Stone like a ton of bricks. He had known, of course, since the first report had come back, having matched with a man from Beaumont who had been reported as missing years before. The dead man was Rex Jasper. Rex Jasper, they believed, was the Kissing Killer.

               But who was this woman?

               Kincaid barged ahead. “How did you know Rex?”

               The woman closed her eyes and leaned back in her chair. The conversation seemed to have zapped what little energy she had. If possible, she seemed even smaller than when she had first come in.

               “We have another theory,” Stone said gently.

               The woman opened her eyes. “Is that so?” she whispered.

               Stone nodded and picked the folder back up. He flipped it open and pulled out a third photograph and placed it in front of the woman.

               This picture was of two girls, one an older teenager, the other a few years younger. Both had long, white-blonde hair, worn straight and loose down their shoulders. From the photograph, it was easy to see that they were both built quite small, although the younger girl was already almost as tall as the older one. The younger girl had a smattering of freckles across her sharp nose, and the older girl had her arm flung around her, looking up as if in surprise that their photo was being taken.

               “Oh, God,” the woman gasped.

               Stone knew he had to continue carefully. The woman sitting in front of him seemed as if she could crumble at any moment, falling apart like the ash from her cigarette.

               “This is a photo of Jeanie and Martha DuPont,” Stone continued. “They both lived in Beaumont with their parents. Jeanie was older, seventeen at the time. Martha was fourteen. Both went missing about ten years ago. Police found quite a bit of blood in Jeanie’s room, leading us to believe she had possibly been killed. But we never found another trace of Martha.”

               Kincaid piped in. “When we ran Rex Jasper’s name through our system, however, we found a link – he was listed as Jeanie DuPont’s boyfriend. Interviews with friends and family showed that the DuPonts were not a fan of Rex, as he was quite a bit older than Jeanie. But they demanded she break up with him when he started showing too much…let’s say, interest in their younger daughter, Martha. Sitting too close, being too physically affectionate with his girlfriend’s younger sister, for example. At one point, Martha told her parents that Rex had come into her bedroom and laid down next to her after she had gone to bed one night. That was the final straw.”

               Stone nodded and leaned forward on the cold table, clasping his hands together. He looked at the shaken woman, mustering as much sincerity in his voice as possible. “Ma’am, we need you to know that you’re safe. Rex Jasper is dead, lying in our morgue right now. And you’re not in any trouble. But I’m going to tell you what we think, and you need to tell us if we’re right, so we can help you. OK?”

               The woman jerked her head down, a small, sharp movement. Stone took that as her cue to continue.

               “Ma’am, after determining that Jake Richards was Rex’s alias here in San Antonio, we found a clearly forged marriage certificate between Mr. Richards and one Mrs. Anna Richards.”

               “Do you go by the name Anna Richards?” Kincaid cut in.

               The woman’s black eyes simmered. “Yes, I do.”

               “Is that your real name?”

               A pause. The air swirled around them with smoke and fear and dread.

               Barely a whisper: “No.”

               The two detectives shared knowing glances. Stone pointed back to the photo of the sisters.

               “This is what we think,” he continued. “We think that Rex became obsessed with Martha. After Jeanie tried to break up with him, and sever his tie to Martha, we believe that Rex killed Jeanie and disposed of her body.”

               “Then,” Kincaid jumped in, a bit over-eagerly for Stone’s taste, “he kept going, traveling all over Texas and into Oklahoma, living off-grid and stealing different identities in each town to cover his tracks.”

               Stone tapped Kincaid’s toe under the table: slow down.

               Kincaid stopped and took a beat. “But,” she said breathlessly, “we don’t know for sure that he killed Martha. We don’t have any evidence that suggests that, like we do for Jeanie.”

               A pause. The room had become so silent that Stone swore he could hear their heartbeats, slamming in their chests, screaming to get the truth out.

               “Ma’am,” Stone said. “Are you Martha DuPont?”

               A beat, and then it happened – the frail woman in front of them finally crumbled, more violently than Stone could have ever imagined. She raked at her face with her hands and fingernails, clawing at her eyes and screaming, until she fell to the floor, writhing and bucking as her mind collapsed under the sheer weight of it all.

               Stone yelled to Kincaid to call for help, and as the paramedics rushed in and pulled up the screaming woman’s sleeves to administer medication, he saw that her arms were covered in a sea of mottled and bruised bite marks, transforming the topography of her skin into ridges and mountains of endless pain.

The Long, Long Ago

I am exhausted.

I’d like to begin by saying that I know that this whole crisis has been hard on everybody. Honestly, I understand that it could be so much harder than it currently is. Right now, my family is dozing in various rooms in our home. Their bellies are full. We have the privilege of being able to protect our health while still earning paychecks. For my friends who are essential workers – I know how whiny I sound.

But man…I am exhausted.

I have tried to stay semi-positive, telling myself that the situation probably actually falls somewhere in between “its the end of the world” and “no big deal.” I spent such a long time in the beginning clicking through endless news articles and fixating on what felt like an apocalyptic situation that I could barely function. It felt like the aftermath of 9/11 — staring endlessly at the 24-hour-news cycle. The plane flying into the twin towers over and over again. Replace the plane with a deadly virus. Lather, rinse, repeat. To protect my sanity, I’ve tried to stick with just a few news sources and distance myself from the rest. It helped quite a bit, although my hands were still raw from over-washing.

But tonight, our city announced that wearing face coverings in public will now be mandatory. I don’t necessarily disagree with this; but I can tell you that seeing that written in black and white knocked the wind out of my sails. It made clear the stark reality that this crisis will not be over anytime soon. And I just cannot imagine life continuing this way for an unspecified amount of time.

We have always felt like we have been on a bit of an island living several hours away from our families. But recently, parenting 24/7 in complete isolation has been harder than I could have imagined. Add in an additional kiddo and trying to be a productive employee – I feel like I’m constantly on the verge of losing my cool. And that’s not counting the times where I actually have lost my cool. I’m not a great mom right now. Or wife. Or employee.

I’m over-caffeinated and running on fumes. And man, does this 30+ year old woman miss her mom. That has to be the hardest part – not knowing when we can travel to see our friends and families again. Our tribe has always been a few hours away, but now they might as well be light years away.

This feels just incredibly surreal. As an introvert, I “fill my cup,” so to speak, with alone time. That was hard to come by with kids before, but I would steal away on the occasional Saturday morning to get a cup of coffee by myself, maybe go walk around Target. What a silly thing to miss at a time like this. How silly to want to go look at throw pillows and baby pajamas while leisurely sipping a latte.

That was the before times, in the long, long ago. Things are much different now.



Shutting Down the House at the End of the Night: An Opera

Lock the back door.

Lock the front door.

Lock the door that leads to the garage.

(Wait, is the actual garage door closed? Can the world see into the garage? What if someone walks in and kicks the door into the house down?)

Open the door to the garage. Flick on the garage light to make sure that the main garage door, is, in fact, closed. Stare it at for at least 5 seconds to confirm.

Close the door and double check that it is locked again. Jiggle the doorknob for peace of mind. Walk away.

(Are you sure it was locked? Were you paying close enough attention to the locked-ness of the door? Better walk back and check again).

Set the house alarm.

(Wait, am I certain I locked the car that’s parked in the driveway? What if someone just waltzes in and robs us? Worse — did I forget the garage door opener in the console? What if someone finds the garage door opener, opens the garage door, and THEN kicks the door into the house down?)

Grab the car keys. Go to open the door to the garage again, and remember the alarm is set. Quickly disarm it. Open the door to the garage, and point the key fob at the outer garage door. Press the “LOCK” button to hear the car honk — a confirmation that it is indeed, locked. Press it to make it honk two more times for good measure.

Check that the door to the garage is locked again. Jiggle the doorknob for peace of mind. Go ahead and jiggle it a second time so you don’t have to come back.

Reset the alarm.

Repeat entire sequence three times.

Finally lie down. Can’t sleep. Must check to see if the garage door opener is in the console.

Sneak out of bed. Leave snoring husband behind. Disarm alarm system. Grab car keys, race out to the car in bare feet. Check the console. No garage door opener. Run back inside, lock the door, double-triple-quadruple check that it’s locked. Go look in my purse. Of course, there it is. Why didn’t I look there first?

Oh, well. Better check the locks again.



Secrets in the Dark

As she falls asleep, my child nestles her head in the crook of my arm. Her little hand splays across my chest, gripping my shirt softly. Earlier, while fighting sleep, she had cupped her hands around my ear, whispering her secrets to me in the dark.

Not long ago, it seems, she was up all night to eat and cry and scream, until we’d both finally fall asleep, emotionally exhausted from the stress of being new –new baby, new mom, new life. This process, full of tears and confusion, bonded us together in a way I had not been prepared for.

At this moment, as she sleeps peacefully in my arms, I wonder if she’ll remember this closeness — as if we’re the same person, just in two different bodies. Looking at her is seeing all of my vulnerability walking around on two legs — my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my heart. Sometimes I ache with how scared it makes me to love her.

I hope she never stops reaching for me when things get tough. I hope somewhere inside of her, she always remembers the safety of being curled up in my arms, the rhythm of our breathing, the soft place to land. I pray she will never stop whispering her secrets to me in the dark.

Dear Rasta

Dear Rasta,

You’ve been gone for about a week and a half, sweet Bear Man. Today you came back home to us.

I composed myself and picked your ashes up from the front desk around noon, and I immediately went to sit back in my car. You were encased in a sleek cedar box. I ran my hands over the edges of the box and began to cry, remembering your sweet face — your jowls for days, the scar on your nose from ringworm when you were a puppy, your soulful eyes.

I remembered when you were 8 weeks old, and we’d wake up in the middle of the night with you passed out, half on our faces, snoring like a grown man. I remembered you growing accustomed to our weeknight bedtime, and having a fit if we didn’t go to bed “on time” on the weekends. I remembered you zooming around the dog park, rolling in the mud and running at top speed. You were a gorgeous dog–muscular and sleek, and 65-pounds at 8-months-old.

I remembered as you got older, clambering your 100-pound body into bed with us at 3 in the morning and snuggling up against us. You still snored, but it was 10x worse, and you kicked in your sleep, but I relished these moments that you wanted to be close to us, because you didn’t always want us so near you.

I remembered staying up half the night when you were sick, and even though it was exhausting, I relished these moments, as well, because you were a daddy’s boy, and these were the only times you ever really seemed to need your mom. You’d lay your head in my lap, nuzzling my hands for comfort. Just a dog needing his mom.

Your slobbery kisses. Your clumsy snuggles. I miss holding your face in my hands and kissing your snout, which you also hated, but I did it anyway. When you’d let me, I’d bury my face into your chest and kiss your neck rolls. I miss those moments when you showed us affection back. But you were not always so affectionate, Bear Man.

I remember the time you bit me. We were at the dog park, and you were about a year old. You had begun having these wild outbursts, where you’d suddenly start running at top speed, leaping and lunging at any person or dog in your path. I was your main target, however, and you’d knock into me, pushing me over or disorienting me. This time, you latched onto my bicep. I gasped and tried not to panic–I didn’t want to make a scene; I didn’t want anyone to know my dog was attacking me. We locked eyes; you held on, until finally your eyes softened and you let go.

I walked you home slowly, in a daze. I cried to your dad, who enrolled you in training classes the next day. My bicep turned blotchy with deep purple bruises over the next few days; they took weeks to fade. We never went to the dog park again.

We went through this first round of training, but while you would now “sit” for a treat, your behavior wasn’t improving. We took you to the vet, who did a thorough exam and blood work to rule out any biological reason for your behavior. You were perfectly healthy. After reading an article about thyroid issues in dogs, we took you back, and insisted the vet run the additional tests. He was a nice man, and he agreed to run the tests, but kindly said that he doubted that was the issue. It wasn’t.

Your extreme outbursts slowly dwindled, but what it was replaced with was perhaps worse. You’d walk up to us, seemingly wanting affection, but as soon as we gave it, you would begin to growl and snarl. We were afraid to take you out into public. So, we didn’t. We didn’t leave much, either, afraid to board you or to ask someone to watch you.

When you were about 4-years-old, you bit the maintenance man. Desperate, we called in a trainer, and you attacked her, knocking her on her back and pinning her down as I screamed and your dad pulled you off her. Luckily, we were there, and your dad stopped you before you could inflict any real damage. Afterwards, gently, the trainer recommended we put you down. We nodded, in a daze.

Instead, we put you on Prozac and isolated you, and ourselves, further. It seemed to help, for awhile. You genuinely seemed to want affection from us, and you were calmer in general. We still didn’t quite trust you, however, as much as we loved you.

I don’t want to paint a picture of you that’s evil. You weren’t. After these incidents, you were as upset as we were. You seemed ashamed of yourself, crawling into our laps and licking our faces, your eyes desperate for validation. Most of the time, Bear Man, you were a great dog, our first baby who loved chest scratches and chasing sticks in the backyard.

We couldn’t ignore your aggressive tendencies, however. We always had to be on high alert for any signs that your behavior might turn. The incidents all roll into a blur. You bit your dad, who you loved the most. You attacked your brother, a miniature dachshund, a handful of times, and I’d hold him after and cry and blame myself for not keeping him safe. You snapped at our niece, and from then on, whenever children were in the house, you had to stay in our room, where you’d bark and howl. I know you wanted to be part of the group. We just couldn’t let you.

We loved you so much, though, that we vowed that as long as it was just me and your dad, we’d manage your behavior for as long as we could. Some people might say that we held on for too long, and maybe that’s true. It’s so difficult to see clearly when you’re neck-deep in a murky situation, however. We felt there must be something else we could do–surely, there was something else we could try; we couldn’t just give up. So, we held on, desperate for a solution, and unable to bring ourselves to make the decision to let you go.

But, it’s not just me and your dad anymore. We’re having a baby. And the weekend we had to let you go, we rushed in to the living room as you attacked our 3-pound-chihuahua, who had the audacity to walk near your food. Your dad pulled you off of her, and as she screamed and writhed on the floor, blood streaming from her eye, we knew that we just couldn’t keep our baby safe from you.

We said goodbye to you on a pretty day, underneath a tree, your dad holding you in his arms. We kissed your snout and your paws as you slowly drifted away. I hope that you know how broken our hearts are and how hard we truly tried to keep you here. I hope you know how deeply you were loved. You were never “just a dog” to us. For 6 1/2 years, we loved you and tried our best to keep you safe and the world safe from you, because in the end, we know you couldn’t help it. You were our sweet Bear Man.

Today you’re home. Your dad very carefully applied a nice plaque to your cedar box, and we sat in silence, staring at it. It doesn’t feel real that you’ll never again follow me into the kitchen, or gently take a treat from my hand, or press against me in your sleep.

I miss you, Rasta. I don’t know when this will start to feel better. But as time passes, I feel more at peace with our decision. I don’t know if people will quite understand our situation, but here it is.

I hope you’re running in the sunshine, Bear Man, zooming with a stick clenched in your teeth, free of anguish or pain. I want that for you–for you to feel joy without the cloud of darkness creeping in.

I love you, Rasta. Sleep well.









Streptococcal Pharyngitis and the Geriatric Arts

Subtitle: AKA Two Things at Which I Greatly Excel

Before you begin reading, please know that I had a fever while writing about half of this post. The other half, I did not. I will let you decide for yourself which part was written in a feverish haze and which was intentional. Enjoy!

I’ve always been the kind of person who needs alone time. It’s usually a surprise to people that I identify as an introvert, in the sense that I renew my energy by being still and quiet by myself (typically eating ice cream and binging Law & Order on Netflix. Also usually employing the Donald Duck**-style of straight chillin’.) My husband is the opposite–he relishes social interaction. After a long work day, he is happiest talking and laughing and having drinks with friends. I just need to not talk for awhile.

**Donald Duck-ing it = chillin’ in a t-shirt sans pants. Interchangeable with “Winnie-the-Pooh-ing.”

Most of my day is spent talking. The majority of my job includes public speaking, so I am often giving presentations to first graders, Girl Scout troops, and the occasional PTS meeting. I schmooz, I gab, I (try to) laugh at the appropriate times. When I get home, I need to be quiet. I need to not be social. I need to put on stretchy pants.

I’ve also never been the kind of person who can go out on a school night, so to speak. I can’t go bar-hopping with you Tuesday night and be a contributing member of society on Wednesday. This has been true since college.

Example: after one too many times of bailing out Sunday morning after partying Saturday night so I could go home, be alone, and silently do my homework, my best friend Crystal asked me: “Can’t you for ONCE blow off studying and come eat Mexican food with me on a Sunday afternoon?”

The answer is no, no I could not. All of my socializing energy was spent on Saturday. I could not, and still cannot, guarantee quality Kelly-time two days in a row. Also, homework’s gotz to get done, son. (Please read the prior sentence in the operatic vocal styling of the great thespian, Ice-T.)

However, there can be TOO much alone time. This is when things start to get weird. My husband has currently been at a conference for three days in California, and instead of going on my own work trip to New Orleans this weekend, I came down with a fun case of strep. So I’ve been at home with my dogs and my antibiotics and of course my beloved Jack McCoy (you should remember my obsession with him from my previous blog post. My love for him has not diminished since Wednesday).

On Sunday, still nursing a solid 100 degree fever, I decided that our bedroom needed to be rearranged. I was bored and this needed to be done, and besides, I thought that we really didn’t have that much stuff in the bedroom, anyway.

So I started going through our bookcase and our little filing cabinet, and these storage units kept giving birth to new items I had no idea we even still had anymore. STUFF and THINGS kept crawling out of nooks and crannies begging to be sorted and properly contained and correctly organized. A copy of the Little, Brown Handbook from my Freshman year of college, missing its cover because our puppy, Rasta, ripped it off in 2010, oozed from a corner of the bottom shelf. WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?!

Our bookcase was clearly an evil clown car in disguise–so many clowns were crawling out of these seemingly small storage devices, one after another after another, with hideous, black claws and macabre, demon eyes–only our clowns were junk, and their hideous black claws were English Lit papers from my freshman year at junior college, and their macabre, demon eyes were Bed, Bath, and Beyond coupons that expired in 2012–and you cannot shove junk off of a cliff to be rid of their grotesque painted-on smiles that forever haunt your dreams!

(Note: you should NOT kill clowns. They are technically people. Just for the record.)
(Except if they’re obviously possessed. Then kill them dead.)

See how things start getting weird?

I tend to get dramatic when I’ve been alone for awhile. So, sitting in a pile of junk I didn’t know we still had and surrounded by furniture I had attempted to move but only made to the middle of the room–I burst into tears. I did not have the energy to take on such a huge task, and I realized there was a reason we had not rearranged our bedroom before: the configuration we’ve had it in for the last three years is the only way that all of our stuff will fit comfortably.

So, I’m sitting in the pile of my junk-clowns and my wiener dog comes sauntering in. He takes one look at the chaos that is happening, raises a paw, and immediately turns around and leaves. He wanted zero part of that foolishness.

Wiener dogs are smart. People don’t give them enough credit.

During my time recuperating alone, I also reverted back into my “old lady habits.” It’s an inside joke within my circle of friends that I am 28-going-on-82-years-old. It’s true that I am a connoisseur of the elderly arts. Here are just a few ways I earn my geriatric stripes while still in my late twenties:

1. Let’s just start with present time. I am currently sitting at my kitchen table sans pants eating Cream of Wheat for dinner. It’s 4:30 p.m. Granted, my eating schedule is thrown off since I’ve been home sick, but I tend to eat dinner every evening before 6 p.m. Eating any later than that is just ridiculous. You ALL know you are hungry when you get home from work, why deny yourself the pleasure of having a nice, hot meal earlier in the evening? Preferably of the creamed wheat variety? Give in to the dark side!

2. Cardigans are my jam. I don’t get the opportunity to wear them much anymore where I work, but who wouldn’t love to wrap themselves in the warm, pillowy softness of a rad cardi?

Plus, it makes most tops work-appropriate. Sequined halter top WITHOUT cardigan: It’s 2 am and you’re ready to get KRUNK (do the kids still say “krunk?” Oh those whippersnappers!) Sequined halter top WITH cardigan: ready for that important business meeting! Also, you’re promoted! Thanks, cardigan (insert wink and toothy grin here.)

3. On most nights, I am either in bed or in the process of getting ready for bed by 10 p.m. As I’ve previously hinted at, I have never been able to stay up until 3 a.m. and then be an active member of society the next morning at work. I really think that just  to stay alive, I need more sleep than the average person; the amount I need to be alive and functioning is absolutely ridiculous.

I literally feel like the amount of sleep that I need to be awake and alert is akin to that of a small baby or a newborn puppy (that was lazy writing; at birth, human babies and puppies are basically the same thing. Google it.)

Any less than a good 10 hours, and I’m useless, cranky, and liable to snap at the kids I’m currently with about how they don’t know how good they have it, cause in MY day, we had to wait for the Internet to DIAL-UP before we could play our online games, and even then we were not guaranteed a solid connection, and MAYBE when it FINALLY connected, our moms would yell at us to get off the phone line so they could call Grandma! Damn hooligans.

So, in a nutshell, this weekend, I was an elderly, introverted, weird, furniture-moving-failure whose wiener dog clearly judges me in all of my trials and tribulations.

I usually try to end my posts on some kind of positive message, one that will inspire you to go about your day. I don’t think I have that here. However, if you find yourself feeling down or gloomy in any sort of way, I encourage you to employ the Donald Duck method of straight chillaxin’, at any time of the day, whether at work or at home, preferably while watching Ice-T wreck shop on SVU.

You’re welcome.

Thou Shalt Not Pass: Working Out and Avoiding the Troll Life

When I was a little girl (let’s say between the ages of 5-8), I decided to run away from home. I remember this very clearly: I got out my ever-stylish puppy backpack and tried to plan out everything I would need to start out my new life under the bridge down the street.

Blanket: check.
Kudos bar: check.
Spice Girls mix-tape recorded directly from live radio: check.
Candy cigarettes so  I could impress the other bridge kids: check.
(The early 90s were a strange and wonderful time.)

Ehhh…that’s as far as I got. I started realizing that successfully running away from home was going to take some actual effort. Plus, my mom was making fried chicken that night, and if you know anything about me, it’s that I do not turn down quality fried chicken EVER.

Other things I do not turn down: a good (or even mediocre) Chinese buffet. Any and all t-shirts for under $5. A snuggle sesh with my wiener dog. Cookies ‘n Cream ice cream (even from a questionable source). (Actually, ESPECIALLY from a questionable source. The added danger makes it even more exciting.)

Anyway, I just couldn’t see the instant gratification in going and living under the bridge. Maybe in the long run it would pay off, like I’d establish a secret gang of troll-like-bridge-kids, and we would run the neighborhood, like the feral-children version of West Side Story. Our rival gang would be the kids who lived in that abandoned rice dryer across town, and we’d battle it out with epic choreographed dance numbers.

This would take forever, though, and I knew nothing about the intricate workings of grand musical-style dancing (except that it’s AWESOME), and that was extremely important to making this scenario work.

This brings me to my point: I still kind of have the mind-set today of blowing stuff off that will personally benefit me in the long run but seems that it will take a huge amount of effort right now, which is why it took me 26 long years to start an exercise routine.

My hubby is super into physical fitness and lifting weights and juicing kale and all of that horrible, horrible stuff. We’ve been together for almost six years, and from the beginning he’s always gently encouraged me to join him on his fitness journey.

I usually responded by asking him to wait to talk to me until Law & Order was at a commercial break. Seriously, Jack McCoy is about to bring the hammer down, and you want to talk about this NOW?

mccoyBesides, exercise took TIME and EFFORT and why would I waste an hour on that when I was still gonna be out of shape tomorrow and right now the biggest and baddest TV assistant D.A. of ALL TIME was about to lay a big fat ass-whooping down on this serial killer who used feral-troll-bridge-kids to do his evil bidding? PLEASSEEE.

But then, about a year and a half ago, I went to put on the biggest pair of jeans in my closet, and they wouldn’t button.

Holy. Crap.

So, I did what any red-blooded American woman would do: I ate. A lot.  Ironically, my diet consisted of mostly fried chicken. I liken this to a deep inner turmoil at my early inability to pull off an intricate gang of dancing troll-kids. Remind me to bring this up to my therapist. I feel like it explains quite a bit about my obsession with deep fried birds.

I put on five more pounds and cried to my then-boyfriend about it. Again, he gently suggested I join him in his evening workout. I gently suggested he go to hell.

(My husband puts up with a lot).

There were these two girls at work who went to the gym every day on their lunch break. Let’s call them Nikki and Felicia (because that is literally what their names are.) Going to the gym on your lunch break seemed like such a cool-chick thing to do. I have zero cool-chick energy (for instance: one time I stabbed myself in the face with a bean. It’s a long story), so I never took them up on their offer to join them, until one day I just DID.

It turns out that most people who exercise regularly really aren’t huge jerks like I imagined they would be. I thought that everyone would instantly judge me when I walked through the front doors, and they would just know by looking at me awkwardly strolling on the treadmill that I didn’t know what I was doing. AND THEN THROW FRIED CHICKEN AT ME (seriously, calling my therapist now.)

The truth is, I didn’t know what I was doing. But a lot of people there really didn’t know, either, and that was strangely comforting.

There was this little old couple who walked hand-in-hand on their little side-by-side treadmills in their little khaki pants with their little orthopedic shoes. And their initiative was what convinced me that maybe I could actually be cool-chick enough to go to the gym on my lunch break.

(It kind of made me feel like a loser, too, because I’m pretty sure they walked much longer than me on that day. And at a brisker pace. Also, they flipped me off when they left and purposefully tripped me on the way out. They told me never to come back on their turf without an intricate choreographed dance number, and the rice dryer kids would be waiting.)

Just kidding, they were the coolest couple I’ve ever seen. Just witnessing them doing what it took for them to be healthy motivated me, so I dug my heels in and really got moving.

Remarkably, I lost ten pounds instantaneously. My fat jeans  fit again, I felt energetic, and I signed up for and completed a 5k that afternoon. Also, ironically, global warming started righting itself and all of the problems in the entire world ended on that specific day. I was personally responsible for the uniting of previously at-odds countries, and I looked skinny and fabulous (which is just as good as, if not better than, peace on Earth). It was the best day of my life.

Ahhh just kidding again. I did lose ten pounds, but it took a year. Twelve months. Fifty-two weeks. 365 days. A little under 9000 hours. It took time and effort, but I did it, and I continue to do it (much to the amazement of everyone who has ever met me as well as myself).

I’ve gained back a few pounds, and then lost them again. It’s hard. Like, trying-to-fit-your-boombox-into-your-puppy-backpack-so-you-can-listen-to-the-Spice-Girls-under-the-bridge-hard.

Actually, no, it’s like trying-to-estimate-the-number-of-D-batteries-you-will-need-for-a-lifetime-as-a-troll-hard.

Trolls these days have no idea how good they have it. Do they even KNOW what a D-battery looks like? There are probably iPhone chargers under every bridge in America by now. I’m guessing there is even an app that automatically growls “THOU SHALT NOT PASS” over a loudspeaker whenever someone tries to walk across the bridge so they can just keep doing their troll-thing and not bother with getting up to do their damn JOBS. Honestly, the ancient art of bridge-guarding has really been lost on this generation. I hear they just let anyone pass these days without even solving a riddle. What kind of crap is that?

Anyway, unlike becoming the six-year-old troll of your neighborhood, getting healthier is really worth it  and will provide you with a lot of benefits, like living longer, fitting into your pants, and not being killed by a gang of rice dryer kids. (It was a hard-knock life growing up in a rice-farming community, let me tell you.)

Since I am such an expert now at working out, here are some things I’ve learned along the way: to help you with your journey:

-You should probably actually watch West Side Story before trying to refer to it on your blog. Or, you can do what I did and just Wikipedia it. It’s kind of the same thing.

-If you don’t think that exercising actually gives you more energy, just stop cold turkey for a week and try to stay awake at work. Also: it’s dinnertime, and cold turkey currently sounds amazing.

-Jack McCoy is the biggest badass on the planet. Let’s just gaze upon this mythical man-beast one more time in his natural habitat:

mccoyatwork-You don’t have to “shred” it at the gym to get a good workout. (Also: remove the word “shred” from your vocabulary unless you’re talking about vegetables or office documents. You sound like a tool.) Just try to get moving most days of the week, and I promise you will start feeling better.

-FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO NOT LOOK AT FITNESS BLOGS. The women who post pictures of their “shredded” (don’t hate me) abs on these pages dedicate huge portions of their lives to fitness, and I respect them wholeheartedly for that. But if you have lived a pretty much sedentary lifestyle full of fried chicken and Netflix-binging such as myself, it’s a complete waste of time to peruse these blogs. Do not try to compete with these women; instead, compete with yourself. Try to get a little bit faster, a little bit stronger than you were last week. You will stick with an actual routine for much longer and hate yourself much less if you drop the comparisons.

-Trolls are actually very nice people, and I’m sorry if I offended anyone out there with neon-colored-vertical-hair and/or gemstones in their bellybuttons.

-Just stop thinking about it. That is the worst part–thinking about working out, and how much it will suck, and how sweaty you will get, and you will probably have to wash your hair afterwards, and man that is such a pain, and then you get wrapped up into another epic Jack McCoy monologue on the importance of upholding the mother-loving LAW–I’m getting off track. Damn you Jack McCoy and your beautiful, beautiful words (and hair).

Seriously: just go for a walk. Take your dog. Enjoy the sunshine. Don’t worry about shredding it. You’ll thank me later.

In conclusion: Trolls need to find more pride in their work these days. Also: YOU CAN DO IT! Jack McCoy says so.

A Guide to Not Melting Your Husband’s Face Off

Here is a true story:

Not too long ago, my husband slept through his alarm. He woke up with about 30 minutes to make it to work. He jumped out of bed, pulled some clothes on, splashed water on his face, brushed his teeth, and was out the door. He made it to work with time to spare.

This whole scenario made me extremely furious. I mean, HOW DARE HE go out into public without spending so much as 5 seconds on his appearance. It’s preposterous!

And also, extremely acceptable for all the dudes out there. On the flip side, here is a quick overview of what it would look like if I slept through my alarm:

Panic ensues. I quickly text my boss to let her know I’m going to be late (because there is NO running out the door in 30 minutes or less. It would be reminiscent of the scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when that Nazi’s head melts off after drinking from the fake holy grail.

In this scenario, let’s say I am the fake grail, only instead of being a beloved ancient relic, I have extremely scary morning-face, and instead of melting your face off–actually, yeah, I still melt your face off. Try not to make eye contact.)

Exhibit A:

indiana_jones_and_the_last_crusadeThis scene scared the hell out of me as a kid. You can only imagine how my husband feels.

Anyway, my next step is to high-tail it to my makeup table (yes, I have an entire table devoted to makeup) and dab eye cream all over my eye area. In all of the years I’ve been using and spending vast amounts of money on eye cream, I’m not super sure it’s actually made much of a difference, but TV has convinced me that under-eye circles are worse than death or drug-free-childbirth or stubbing your big toe on the coffee table, so I keep buying it. (And you know TV doesn’t lie.)

After the eye cream, I pat on concealer over the under-eye circles and bags I already have and contemplate what a sucker I am.

The next step is a thin layer of liquid foundation. Except for that one zit, and that vague red mark on my left cheek–those bad boys get a thick layer. Mama didn’t raise no fool. I then brush mineral foundation (yes, a SECOND type of foundation) all over this, and then powder the whole mamma-jamma.

By now, I have a whole statue-esque, featureless vibe going on. This is the goal, ladies and gentlemen–put enough goop on your face until people can’t tell where your eyes end and your nose begins. IT’S SO SEXY.

Now that my features are eradicated, it’s time to add some faux-cheekbones  with bronzer and a bit of blush. Your imitation cheekbones should be the first thing people see when you walk into a room. They should dominate any conversation you participate in, ever. If you do this correctly, you actually will never have to speak ever again. Your cheekbones will do all of the work for you.

As for eye makeup, I go with the “more is more” mentality. I personally advocate the heavy eyeliner look. Think Cleopatra-meets-some-other-famous-person-with-heavy-dark-eyeliner. (I’m tired here, folks. Read my last post about commuting.)

Then I cover the whole thing up with glasses because ain’t nobody got time for CONTACTS AT 6 AM. Whoever invented contacts must have been one seriously messed up individual. Like, he sat in a research lab for years trying to figure out how to best trick people into torturing themselves just a little bit every day for their rest of their lives until he finally invented contacts. Nobody but a conniving sociopath would have thought that convincing people with vision problems to stab little discs into their eyeballs daily was a good idea.

I digress. I’m not sure exactly where I am going with this. I think I just wanted to hash out the conflict between feeling absolutely ridiculous with the amount of crap I put on my face regularly and not being able to stop…between being a professed feminist and also wanting to look pretty, damn it.

The truth is: my husband does not think I look like a melted Nazi from a beloved late-80s-era-movie  (which is a good thing. Our marriage might be in jeopardy if he did. Actually…I don’t think we’ve actually had this conversation about whether he thinks I do or do not look like a melted Nazi. Remind me to ask him).

But seriously, he thinks I’m beautiful. Gaahhh. It was harder for me to physically type that sentence than it was to compare myself with a fictional melted Nazi. What on earth does that tell you about the way that women have come to view themselves? He tells me I’m beautiful almost every day. Maybe we all need to hear that a little more often, and more importantly, believe it. Everyone needs to try to think more kindly of themselves. Including this guy:

indiana_jones_and_the_last_crusade(Actually, that guy was an evil Nazi bastard. I hope he’s embarrassed of his ugly melted Nazi face.)

In conclusion:

-Your husband probably does not think you have the face of a melted fake Nazi (but if you’re not 100% sure, go ahead and ask him).

-You should think at least one positive thing about yourself every day. Unless you are the guy pictured above. I would like reiterate one more time that YOU ARE A BAD PERSON, WALTER DONOVAN FROM THE CLASSIC FILM INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE.

-I need to watch more movies because all of my jokes are based in late-80s-to-mid-90s-action-films. However, it is a fact that these are the best films in history (it’s science), and cinema has yet to catch up with the magic that was early-era Indiana Jones (I mean, did you SEE that one with Shia LaBeouf? Also, what is up with that dude? Sheesh).

-You could probably wear less makeup and nobody would care except for you. You are your own worst critic. (No joke here. That’s just true.)

-Men are jerks because they can get ready for the day really, really fast, and society will not judge them. This is all their fault because we live in a patriarchal society and HOW DARE THEY. Remind me to yell at my husband later about all of the problems he personally has caused the women of our nation.

-You’re pretty rad just the way you are. If you feel like rocking boatloads of makeup, then go for it. If not, that’s cool too. If people judge you for going au naturale, then they’re probably not super great at being human beings in general. Try to be less hard on yourself. You do NOT, in fact, melt people’s faces off with your morning face. Say this to yourself everyday, even if people look at you weird when you’re muttering stuff out loud about face melting in the break room. I’m gonna try to work on this, as well.




Commuting 101: The Not-So-Fast & the Extremely Furious

So, if you know me, or we are acquaintances, or we have met briefly, or we have passed each other on the sidewalk and made casual eye contact, then you know that I have a long commute to work.

This is one of my favorite topics to complain about, so I thought, instead of my usual endless moaning and groaning, let’s dive into the subject that is the daily commute. (You’re welcome for finding another outlet, coworkers!)

Before I begin, let me just say that I have a fun job, and I truly get to work with some of my best friends. I also recognize that this is the epitome of a first-world problem. That being said, commuting blows.

I know you might be saying, “Kelly, commuting can’t be ALL that bad.” I hear you, and am nursing a healthy desire to swiftly karate chop you in the throat because I’m really tired and cranky from my drive home. So instead of unnecessary violence, let’s do some fun role-playing.

If you truly would like to know what it’s like to commute to your job every day, follow these easy steps:

1. Get up and get ready for work like you usually do, only set your alarm clock for an hour earlier. (Bonus: sleep through said alarm clock. Rushing out the door while still having an hour drive ahead of you and being super groggy just amps up the fun!)

2. Go into a semi-dark room. Turn on a radio, if you’d like, but it’s not mandatory. Sit on a firm but padded chair. Maintain a straight spine. Now, sit there just like that for approximately one hour. (If it’s raining, make it an hour and a half.)

3. Ask your spouse or significant other to periodically pop into the room and jump frantically in front of you whilst making an angry face and flipping you the bird.

4. No closing your eyes, but silent ugly-crying would increase the realism factor.

5. At the end of the work day, repeat steps 1-4, only make it at least 20 minutes longer. If it’s Friday, sit there for 2 hours, just for funsies. You’ve earned it!

Okay, so now you know what it’s like to have a daily commute. Congratulations! You’ve not only lost countless hours of your life, but you’ve significantly aged and lost much of your hope in humanity. You’re a real grown-up now.

But I’m not here just to make you suffer through a mind-numbing sedentary exercise. I’ve found a few ways that make the commute suck just a little bit less. Try these out, or better yet, just move closer to your job. (Seriously. Just do it.)

1. Find a good morning show. 
Radio stations play the same songs over. And over. And over. Even the Austin-area stations that cater to obscure indie music play the same songs repeatedly.  It’s like the hipster Top 40–much like the traditional Top 40, only dressed in skinny jeans and with an ironic mustache.

Morning shows shake things up and hopefully the hosts talk about current events, and you get to learn something on your drive.

Ahhh just kidding. You’ll get your fill of pop culture and Hollywood gossip and mindless drivel, but hey, it’s better than hearing “Blurred Lines” 50,000 times!

2. Listen to podcasts.
It took me over a year to discover podcasts, and I’ll admit I was pulled in like the rest of you with “Serial.” Podcasts are better than morning shows in that there aren’t commercials, and even if they’re advertising something, you can skip through it (sorry, podcast hosts).

Here are some of my faves:

  • Serial – Yeah, start with Serial. Decide for yourself if Adnan Syed did it and end your listening experience with frustration and anger at the ambiguous finale with the rest of us. IT’S SO WORTH IT.
  • Stuff You Missed in History Class – The hosts talk about more obscure historical events and people, AKA the more interesting ones, like Crown Prince Sado of Korea, who was one messed up individual. This obviously makes for great podcast material. Some of the episodes are a little more boring, but I just comb through for stuff like the Axman of New Orleans. Did I just reveal a little too much about myself here?
  • Sawbones – This is a really funny weekly show about how messed up the human race has been through the years at trying to figure out medicine. Hear about fun topics such as syphilis and enemas! Yay!
  • Invisibilia – The ladies who host this show talk about the invisible forces that hold society together, like our thoughts and fear and the strange and necessary categories we place ourselves into. The hosts also sound EXACTLY the same so you can have fun trying to tell them apart! (Hint: you can’t!)

3. Download some audiobooks.
Listening to books is the new “watching-the-movie-version-instead-of-actually-reading-the-new-bestseller”!

Actually, audiobooks are iffy for me, but some people really love them, so I thought I’d include them on this list.

I’ve tried to listen to a couple. You know how your parents used to read you books before you went to bed and it made you nice and wonderfully sleepy and you’d happily doze off? Yeah, me, too, and audiobooks do the same thing for me, which is probably not the safest thing when you’re driving to work.

Here’s the thing: books are written to, well, be read. They include long, epic descriptions of landscapes and settings and how a person is eating her filet mignon and how her face scrunches up when she laughs and blah blah blah. This paints a picture when you’re reading. It may do the same for some people when listening, but it just makes me sleepy.

Podcasts are written to be listened to–i.e., they get to the point. You can certainly tell the difference, so I rate podcasts more highly for the mighty and evil commute.

That said, you might love audiobooks. Try one out. If you fall asleep, then it might be time to try another strategy. But what do I know. You do you, man.

4. Keep some snacks in your car.
There comes a point in your drive home when you’re sitting in traffic and suddenly you become irrationally hungry. Like, you’re gonna pull over and get two Big Macs and some KFC if this damn traffic doesn’t let up so help me God!

I’m still working on this one, but you’ll save a ton of money and calories if you just stash some granola bars or some other disgusting healthy snack in your car. Plus you won’t be shaking with hangriness when you’re still 30 minutes from home and THE PERSON IN FRONT OF YOU WON’T LET YOU PASS. Sorry, I have some unresolved anger there.

On a side note, don’t be this guy:


So, there you go. In two years, that’s all I’ve come up with. If you have a commute, what are your tricks to not utterly losing your sanity? Share in the comments!


Marry Hard: With a Vengeance

So, Aaron and I got married about two weeks ago. It was a wonderful ball of excitement and adrenaline and wonderment and nausea and anxiety. Also sweatiness (those ball gowns are no joke).

Here we are, being fantastic:

thegradysIn that moment, I was pretty sure we had just gotten married. I was dizzy and my heart was pumping hard and loud, and here I was with my husband (!!) on my arm. Apparently I kissed him too early and took off down the aisle before I was supposed to. I have no memory of this. Only love and excitement and a rush of “OHMYGODTHISSHITJUSTGOTSUPERREAL.”

Everyone tells you that you will not have time to eat at your own wedding. To those people, I said “challenge accepted!” I bullied my way to the front of the line and got that chicken fried steak I had been craving since we had first sampled it months before. And I sat down with Aaron at our little sweetheart table and…I couldn’t eat. Remember the adrenaline? Yeah, I was too pumped up to eat. My stomach was doing somersaults, and the chicken fried steak just wasn’t gonna sit right. Touche, wedding gods. Touche. (In a surprising twist, we had SO much leftover, I ate chicken fried steak for days. I may never want to see chicken fried steak ever again.)

I am a liar. I’m sorry, chicken fried steak. Please forgive me.

Here’s something everyone tells you before the wedding that you don’t believe but is truly, 100% correct: nothing will go right. I had assumed our DJ would just announce the different events of the night (cake cutting, first dance, etc.) THIS IS NOT TRUE. Ladies out there planning your weddings: TIMELINES ARE IMPORTANT. Also, chafing cream (remember the sweatiness?) So the first 30 minutes of my married life was spent hashing out the details of the different announcements of the evening. Here is a sample of our conversations:

Me: So, when should we do the cake cutting?
DJ: When would you like to do the cake cutting?
Me: When do people usually do the cake cutting?!
DJ: Either before or after the meal. Whenever you want, really.

But in all seriousness, our DJ was amazing and dealt with my non-planning with grace and finesse. I dealt with my non-planning by slugging back champagne. The night went swimmingly after that.

Here’s something else no one tells you: those traditional wedding events are wonderful, but also really super awkward. Neither Aaron or I are what you call “dancers.” We decided early on to 8th-grade-sway-it to our first dance. The first moments of our dance was sweet and romantic, but after the first 30 seconds of everyone watching us non-dance, it got kinda weird. Here is a sample of our conversation during our first dance:

Kelly: I love you. This is awkward.
Aaron: Oh my god, how long is this song?
Kelly: I love you. This is awkward.
Aaron: Does this song ever end?!

I am proud to say that there was minimal drama at our wedding. I mean, at least that I knew of. If you had a fist-fight in the back of the venue, I’d rather not know about it. (Actually, that’s a lie. Please send me pictures and/or footage if you have it.) But of course there is going to be hurt feelings here and there and the forgetting-of-socks or something small like that. Here’s my professional advice: champagne. Champagne helps everything.

The rest of the night is a blur. There was some chick dressed as a giraffe:


Actually, that is my dear friend Michaela, who came along with one of my best buds, Jamie, for the entire weekend. She was super amazing and I could not have asked for a better giraffe to attend my wedding.

So, in conclusion, here are my rules for a fun wedding:

1. The day of the wedding, surround yourself with your best girls and laugh and drink mimosas. Even if you think you probably shouldn’t have a mimosa, you need to have one or five. Dr. Grady is prescribing this for you right now.

2. Try not to sweat the small stuff. Also, you will sweat. Profusely. I cannot reiterate this enough: chafing cream.

3. Hug and kiss and chat with everyone who came to your wedding. They came to support you and you need to at least thank them for coming. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks wondering if I ever got around to talking to aunt-so-and-so and it’s literally been keeping me up at night. I love you, Aunt So-and-So, please don’t hate me!

4. Attach yourself to your new husband. I saw Aaron for a grand total of maybe 20 minutes. I imagine handcuffs would work well for this. In the absence of handcuffs, zip ties may work as well. If you’re really in a bind, maybe try tape, but I wouldn’t rely on it too heavily (remember the sweating).

5. Invite a giraffe. You will not regret this. Also a large Greek man. Put them in a room together. Hilarity will ensue.

6. You know what? Forget the rules. Make your wedding your own. No matter what, it’s about you and your new husband. Play the music YOU want to hear (your grandmother may not love Motley Crue, but she’ll understand). Laugh and sing and dance with a giraffe. Try to be in the moment. It will be over before you know it.