2007 June | Somewhere in Middle America

What does one wear to a wedding in the middle of nowhere, Iowa?

Can you guess to which movie this New York Times review is referring?

“A nearly flawless piece of popular art, as well as one of the most persuasive portraits of an artist ever committed to film. It provides the kind of deep, transporting pleasure, at once simple and sophisticated, that movies at their best have always promised.”

How surprised are you to learn it’s about Ratatouille, the Disney/Pixar film about a rat who wants to be a chef? J and I were planning on going to the movies last night, and we wanted to see something fun and lighthearted because I was feeling a bit blue. Homesickness + Overwhelm-ness. We were going to go to the cheap, second-run theater to see Blades of Glory when we came across positive review after positive review of Ratatouille. So off we went.

Here’s my review: It was wonderful! The story was so original, it was funny without relying on toilet humor or pop culture references, and the visuals were spectacular. It captured my attention for the entire 110 minutes, and I didn’t look at my watch once (a sign of a great movie in my book). Go see it.

We left the apartment early so we could stop at the nearby B&N to pre-order not one, but two copies of Harry Potter #7. Yes, two copies. How could one of us read it while the other sat and waited for their turn? When we got to the theater we also pre-ordered movie tickets to the first showing of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at 12:01 AM on Wednesday, July 11. I have a week and a half to re-read Harry Potter #5 before the movie, and two+ weeks to re-read Harry Potter #6 so that I’m caught up before the final book. I’m such a nerd.

It’s happening again. I have no idea what day of the week it is. Did I fly back from NJ yesterday or the day before? Two days ago, I think. Yes, Wednesday.

My trip home was a smashing success. The families met, ate, and got to know each other. Best of all, they like one another! J and I toured several possible wedding venues, and we chose one! And I spent Tuesday searching for a wedding dress, and I found one! Exciting!

It was hard to say goodbye to my family again. Being back with them, it felt like I had never left. Coming back to Omaha, I had another bout of homesickness.

The first thing I did when I returned to NE on Wednesday was stop at Verizon for a replacement cell phone. The backlight on mine decided to stop working that morning, and since I purchased an extended warranty with my plan, I could get a new phone gratis. However, they no longer carry the phone I got back in Nov ’05, so they upgraded me to a Razr. The Razr’s nice, but it doesn’t compare to the iPhone, out today. Actually, my dad got a new Blackberry and gave me the Treo he had been using, so once I figure out how to use it (he didn’t give me the instruction manual or computer software), I’ll upgrade from the Razr to the Treo.

J’s at work until 4 PM, so I’m hanging out at the apartment, watching TV, and browsing for jobs online. I really need a job — not only for the money, but as a reason to get out of the house. Sure, I could leave now, but where would I go? To the mall? I have no money!

What a whirlwind of a weekend. You should be relieved to know that J and I made it to the airport on time, but by the time we got through security (who knew there would be such a line at 5:30 AM?), our plane had already started to board. So we hopped on, and away we went.

Friday: Wedding venue search, day 1. Out of the three places we visited, two had potential — and they couldn’t be more different. One was a hotel. The other…let’s just say it was a unique location. My wedding planner told me I couldn’t tell anyone until we made our decision. Then it was off to dinner at Maggiano’s, where my family met J’s family for the first time. Ordering “family style” at Maggiano’s could be a great way to break the ice when eating amongst strangers, but for some reason we didn’t do it that way. Still, it was a delicious dinner. I highly recommend the lobster ravioli.

Saturday: Wedding venue search, day 2. Out of the three places today, we only liked one. We were much faster today and even had time to stop at Nordstrom so I could buy shoes for Sunday’s fete before heading back to my house for an informal “meet the in-laws” BBQ. This time we were able to play musical chairs more easily and make sure that everyone had a chance to converse with each other. It was such a beautiful evening, and, thanks to the handy Williams Sonoma grill thermometer my dad received for Father’s Day, the food was delish.

Sunday: Engagement party! 53 of our nearest and dearest (and local) stopped by the house for a luncheon. A cousin of my father’s catered the event, and we had enough food to feed three times as many guests. The weather could not have been any more gorgeous, and had my mother not spilled Dr. Brown’s Diet Black Cherry soda all over the back of my dress*, I’d say the party went on without a hitch.

Monday: Parted ways with J on NJ Transit — he got off at Newark Airport and I continued into the city to run a few quick errands. I was in and out of the city in no time and then ran a few more errands with my mom when I got back home before having dinner (leftovers!) with family friends at the house.

Tomorrow: Wedding dress search, day 1!

*J and I were able to get most of the soda out of the dress before the majority of the guests arrived. A trip to the dry cleaners should make the rest of it all better.

J is in the shower, and we’re meant to be leaving the apartment in 20 minutes to head to the airport. We have a 6:15 AM flight back to NJ. He swears that if we leave by 5 AM we’ll arrive at in the airport in plenty of time. I made him promise we could leave at 4:55 AM. His last apartment was literally 4 minutes away from the airport, but we’re further west now, and I don’t want to risk missing the flight. We have a huge weekend ahead of us — three days of my parents meeting his parents (and grandparents), two days of appointments with potential wedding venues, one day of dress shopping. If something gets screwed up, taking a later flight would put a huge kink in our entire schedule. We have to take a taxi from Newark Airport to our first appointment; that’s how tightly our schedule is packed.

My leg is shaking.

My nail biting habit is back with a vengeance — only this time it’s accompanied by compulsive nail filing. This is what happens:

I paint my nails.

My nail polish chips ever so slightly.

I pick off all the polish on all ten nails.

I nibble on the tips of my nails.

I file all ten of my nails until they are perfectly smooth all around.

I polish my nails.





And on and on and on.

My beautiful engagement ring must look so ridiculous on such ugly fingernails. Short of putting on acrylic tips (which I really don’t want to do), I don’t know how to get myself to stop such an icky habit. Putting on foul tasting nailpolish made for biters does me nothing — I just pick it off.

What a stupid vice.

Lately I’ve been having writer’s block. Or maybe just writer’s laziness. I haven’t written any new posts or replied to any new emails in the past couple of days. I just need to get over the hump.

Last night we ordered in Chinese food for the first time. What an ordeal. It took about 20 minutes just to locate online and in the phone book the nearest Chinese restaurant that delivers. Then it took 8 minutes on the phone to place the order with a non-Asian employee who didn’t understand the difference between brown rice and white rice cooked in soy sauce. (In my experience, all employees at Chinese restaurants in NYC were Asian, and I think they prided themselves on getting customers off the phone as quickly as possible.) Forty-five minutes later the food arrived. The wonton soup had bits of carrots, snow peas, and peas floating in it. The egg rolls looked like spring rolls. The chicken lo-mein was made with flat fettucini-like noodles and chunks of fatty, dark-meat chicken. The beef with asparagus was pretty good. The fried rice was just white rice with a splash of soy sauce and a scrambled egg mixed in, and the fortune cookies tasted different than what I’m used to.

I miss the days of being able to order from the delicious Chinese restaurant below my apartment in NYC and walking downstairs 5 minutes later to pick it up.

Saturday was the epitome of a perfect summer Saturday — we slept late, played a bit of tennis (until tape wrapped around the handle of my racket literally began disintegrating onto my palm), and spent some time down by the pool. Thoroughly covered in SPF 45, I didn’t burn yet still managed to get the tiniest of tiny tans. I have a very faint tan line on the back of my shoulders to prove it.

For our evening activity we took the “dinner and a movie” route. Actually, we did movie and then dinner. First, we saw Paris, Je T’Aime at the totally precious Dundee Theater. The old theater only has one screen, in front of which a red velvet curtain hangs before show time. No obnoxious commercials or stupid trivia games to sit through before the movie actually begins. Plus, a medium popcorn and large soda were less than $4 total. Awesome. The film itself was really interesting, and if it’s playing near you, I totally recommend going to see it. It’s a tribute to Paris comprised of 18 short films about love by acclaimed directors from around the world. Some were better than others (and some we didn’t understand at all), but all together it was really entertaining. The local newspaper talked it up this past week because Alexander Payne, a native of Omaha, directed the last short, and it was one of the best.

For dinner we walked a couple of blocks to Amsterdam, a new restaurant also in Dundee that only has three items on the menu — a falafel sandwich, a gyro sandwich, and curry fries — and we got one of each. So good. And so cheap. I think it cost about $15 for the two sandwiches and fries plus two drinks. We then made our way to a bar around the corner known for its insane whisky selection (J tried some, I didn’t — whisky smells too much like grain alcohol for my taste) before getting some homemade ice cream at Ted & Wally’s. I had a scoop of caramel latte in a cone. Delish.

Walking back to the car, with my arm around J’s waist, I felt really, really content. It was a successful night.

Yesterday was quite a day. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

J returned home from an early morning class with a surprise for the apartment, but I think that story deserves an entry of its own…

We had a coffee date at Blue Line Coffee in a section of Omaha called Dundee with a woman who works for one of the local synagogues. J had met her a couple of months ago when the temple arranged for him to celebrate Passover with her family since he could not go home to his. She’s kind of a one woman welcome wagon for the temple, and we spent an hour chatting about the best place for New York-style pizza in the area, other young couples who we might be interested in meeting, and job searching. Being a liaison between the Jewish community and the synagogue, this woman knows a lot of people, and she offered to get me in touch with some who might be able to help me find a job, like the owner of one of the free local weeklies.

After our meeting, J and I explored the surrounding shops. We browsed a fun gallery selling local art and wandered into an amazing Anthropologie-like store called Le Marche. From the outside I thought the space was a restaurant — how happily surprised I was to find that it was actually a boutique where I will likely spend a lot of money while I’m here. We bought a French candle, French soap, and a kitschy soap dish for said soap.

For dinner we stopped at Panchero’s (which is exactly like Chipotle), where a local radio station was doing an on-site promotion — $1 burritos! Normally they are like $5.50. We got two burritos and a drink for less than $3.30. Yum!

We spent the rest of the evening getting stuff taken care of around the apartment. I finally got my webcam working and had video chat with my sister back in NYC! We tried using AIM and Yahoo Messenger before figuring out how to get both of our webcams working through Skype. She showed me some of her new clothing purchases, and I tried giving her a virtual tour of the apartment.

J is at work all afternoon, so I’m going to get off of my lazy tush and head to the gym…soon.

Last night J and I met up with a friend of mine from New York, who was in the city for just one night to wine and dine some clients. He was seriously in Omaha for less than 24 hours just to take 2 clients out for dinner at a steak restaurant in the Old Market. Can you imagine that? By the time we caught up with him around 9:15 PM he seemed pretty exhausted, but he kept himself awake enough so that we could grab some drinks at a sports bar near his hotel. We spent an hour and a half or so chatting about Napa, skiing, and his recent proposal to a college friend of mine. When they get married next year, he will have at least 100 people on his guest list alone — this guy knows everybody. Randomly, he happens to know a couple of people from/in Omaha and offered to farm out my resume to all of them. They might not have a job for me (or work in an industry that even interests me), but there is no harm in networking. It’s all about who you know, right?