Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wisconsin Redneck Wedding

Lorraine recently tagged me on Facebook with a meme entitled “My Wedding Day.”

It reminded me that I never blogged about my wedding to Iwanski. Or maybe I should call it “Wisconsin Redneck Wedding.”

You see, Iwanski and I were in our early 20’s when we got married. We were young and poor. And apparently, we were also kind-of dumb. Because the people we hired to do our wedding—the photographer, the DJ, and who could forget the awesome dressmaker?—were all quite rednecky and—um, well, really quite bad at their jobs.

Let’s start with the photographer. I don’t even remember how we found this woman—I’m sure she was probably a friend of one of my students’ parents.

She was a rather large woman—well over 250 pounds—with long frizzy brown hair that looked like something out of a bad 80’s video. When we first met her, though, she seemed pretty normal, and she shared wedding pictures that she’d taken, that we thought looked nice. But what did we know? Apparently not too much.

After our wedding mass, when it came time to take pictures of everyone, she became the bitchy lady from hell. She became like a drill sergeant, shouting out orders for people to get in and out of pictures, yelling at all of us like we were a bunch of unruly children. Which we weren’t. Mostly.

Then, when we went to take pictures in the park, and there were a bunch of Canadian geese pooping everywhere, she made all the men kneel in goose poop, while we ladies sat on their knees. The men were thrilled about that. Still, the geese wouldn’t leave us alone, so there was a potential for some funny photos.

So a couple of weeks later, after all was said and done, Iwanski and I went to go pick up our pictures. And what do you know? She had the pictures developed AT WALMART! Yes, I said Walmart. I couldn’t believe it when I saw her take pictures out of an envelope, clearly marked “Walmart Photo Department.” Yep, truly rednecky. And she wouldn’t even let us see any of the goose pictures. She said she was keeping them for herself!! Man, we really picked a winner!

But that doesn’t even compare to the DJ and the dressmaker.

The DJ was a parent of one of my students. He worked at a reputable DJ company in the town where we lived, so we thought he was a safe bet. Before we met with him, Iwanski and I came up with a list of several songs that we’d like him to play, if possible.

Then we met with him. We should have known something was off when we walked in and he had framed pictures of Ollie North and Rush Limbaugh on his wall. Ollie North and Rush Limbaugh! But we were already there, so we went over our music suggestions and what we’d like to have for the Grand March (we chose “Truckin’” by the Grateful Dead). Then we said our goodbyes and went out to our car. Iwanski looked at me skeptically. “Why did you pick this guy, again? He had pictures of Ollie North and Rush Limbaugh on his wall.” I sighed. “I know. But I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

But of course, he wasn’t fine. Oh, he played all kinds of crappy music that you hear at most weddings. But the songs on our list? Nope, I don’t think he played any of them. Then it came to our Grand March. Two minutes before we were to start the march, he came up to us and said, “Hey, the CD I have for “Truckin’” has a skip in it.” A skip in it? Really? Then he offered to have his helper-dude go out to a store and look for another recording of Truckin’. Yeah, right! Let’s just hold off on the Grand March while his little cronie goes around at 10:30 at night to try to find a record store that’s even open.

So Iwanski said, “Do you have anything else by the Dead?” (We were huge deadheads back then.) “Um, yeah, let’s see…I have “Touch of Grey,” said the DJ. “OK, ‘Touch of Grey’ is fine,” Iwanski said.

Then Mr. Jerkstore DJ said a statement I will never forget, “OK—is it okay if I mix a little Queen in with that?”

Iwanski looked at him in disgust. “No, it’s not okay.”

The DJ just looked at him, shrugged, and went back to his DJ equipment.

It turned out, “Touch of Grey” was a great Grand March song. Mr. Jerkstore DJ was lucky we liked it. What a crappy DJ!

Still, that was nothing compared to the dressmaker. Ah, the dressmaker. She deserves her own blog posting. That’s how bad she was.

The Dressmaker

I first met the dressmaker when I was working at my summer job at the Boys and Girls Club, a year before our wedding. She had a couple of kids at the Boys and Girls Club, and she would always come and talk with me for a little while before she took her kids home. Frankly, after a day of being with bratty, noisy kids, I was just relieved to have a little adult conversation. So when she told me she was a dressmaker who had made dresses for several weddings before and then showed me some of the pictures, I thought, what the hell. She couldn’t be that bad.

Not that bad? Well, where do I begin…

The first time I drove to her home, I couldn’t believe it. She lived in a trailer with a HALF DOOR. Yes, a half-door—one of those you see in movies about rednecks.

Then I went in the half-door and was immediately attacked by a barrage of dogs and cats. There must have been at least four or five of each. I’m telling you, no one should have that many pets—especially someone who lives in a tiny trailer with a half-door.

Then her kids started hanging on me, while we tried to talk business. She told them to get the f*** away from me. Yeah, that was nice.

Still, she was already done with one of the dresses, and it looked pretty nice to me. So I thought, the dresses are the important thing. And the price. She was only charging $40 per dress. I thought that was pretty reasonable.

Several months later, it was the night before our wedding, and while I was hanging out with some of “the girls” at their hotel, Iwanski’s sister and cousin (who were from out-of-state) drove to the dressmaker’s for a final fitting. Or so they thought.

It turns out, she was only half-finished with their dresses. And as they sat there in the little dingy trailer, with dogs and cats and kids climbing all over them and the dressmaker swearing at all of them, the phone rang.

The dressmaker answered the phone and then got off the phone quickly, a panicked look on her face. “The milk truck’s coming!” she said anxiously.

“Get the f*** outside!” she yelled at her kids.

My future sister-in-law and cousin looked at each other in confusion. Why was a milk truck coming? And why was it such a big deal?

It turns out that the dressmaker had hired a guy to bring a milktruck full of water to fill their above-ground pool, and he was coming in a few minutes.

The problem was that the pool wasn’t up yet.

So she asked them to come outside while she and her kids put up the pool. They sat there on folding chairs in the yard, watching this woman swear at her kids to hold up the sides of the pool correctly.

Then something unbelievable happened.

The dressmaker actually ASKED my future sister-in-law and cousin to HELP HER put up the pool.

And what were they going to say?—No?

No, they were too nice to not help her.

So the night before our wedding, with the bridesmaid dresses only half-done, our dressmaker somehow enlisted the help of my future sister-in-law and cousin to help her put up her pool.

My sister-in-law still laughs about that moment, as she stood there holding up the side of a pool, while this big fat redneck woman screamed obscenities at her children.

All I can say is, it’s a miracle that Iwanski’s sister and cousin forgave me for that one.

I think it just shows what a great family I married into.

Oh, and then the best part of all.

My sister-in-law’s dress was so long that she kept tripping over it all day. So later at the wedding reception, as the dressmaker sat there with her kids (I couldn’t not invite them), my sister-in-law gave her sister a pair of scissors and asked her to cut off the bottom of her dress (which she did). The look of horror on the dressmaker’s face was just priceless.

Yes, it was a truly redneck wedding. But after all was said and done, I’m glad it happened exactly that way. Because no one can ever say that they don’t remember it.

We all laugh when we recall the infamous Iwanski redneck wedding. It was nothing if not memorable.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thawing Out

Dude, I just saw lightning! Lightning in February—I love it!!

Yes, it’s been warmer here—temps in the 50’s—and I’m slowly thawing out and returning to being normal. Well, maybe not normal…but at least I won’t be writing about bowels for—at least a few days. (My apologies to all my fecalphiliac readers who love reading about bowels.)

(Hell, I could have fecalphiliac readers. You never know.)

Anyway, so I’m feeling much happier and more inspired than I was a few days ago. For starters, I had my yoga class again this week, and this time I don’t feel like my body has been run over by a truck. So this is good. (Progress is good!)

Secondly, I meditated last night for the first time in a while and felt like I really had a good meditation. I had one of those sustained moments where I really wasn’t aware of anything but my breathing. Good stuff.

Then, tonight, Iwanski cooked a steak dinner, complete with garden herb rice and broccoli with cheese sauce. (I loves me some broccoli—particularly smothered in cheese sauce. It’s really the only way to have broccoli, in my opinion.)

So pretty much that’s all it takes for me to be happy. Yoga, meditation, and good food.

Oh, and also not having to wear long underwear. That rocks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cantankerous Colon

Today, my boredom has been somewhat relieved. Instead, it has been replaced, apparently, by temporary insanity.

At lunch today, I started to think about my bowels. Yes, apparently I’m obsessed with poo lately. You probably want to stop reading this blog right about now.

What, you’re still there? OK, you asked for it…

When I was a kid—maybe 12 years old—I was diagnosed with “irritable bowel syndrome.” For those of you who don’t know, that basically means that your digestive system either—er, overreacts or underreacts (let’s put it that way) to certain foods and stress. And let me tell you, it was quite a blessing for a pre-teen to have irritable bowel syndrome. As if I didn’t have enough to deal with, what with the pimples and all the body changes and the pathetic lack of self-esteem.

Anyway, so I started thinking about the term “irritable bowel syndrome.”

What would it be like if our bowels (colon) actually got irritated at us? This is what I imagine it would be like.

Me: (scarfing down pizza and chicken wings)

Colon: What?! What’s this?!?! Goddammit! I thought I told you NOT to eat greasy food! And now you have an entire dinner of pizza and chicken wings? What is WRONG with you? I am PISSED OFF! You hear me? PISSED OFF!

Me (belching loudly): Ohhh, I feel so full! Blech!

Colon: See? That’s what you get! I told you lettuce, and you give me sausage and pepperoni! You are an idiot!

Me: I think I’m going to be sick.

Colon: Muhahahahahahaha

Me: Tomorrow, I need to eat a salad.

Colon: I told you, dumbass! No one ever listens to me! What am I, chopped liver? No, I’m the bowels! And I AM IRRITATED!

OK, so this was a lot funnier in my head. I’m telling you, it’s temporary insanity caused by lack of warm weather.

It’s supposed to be a whopping 45 degrees tomorrow—so hopefully I will be back to normal soon.

God, let’s hope so.

Registered Nurse Cures Boredom

Last night, my sister-in-law called me.

Here’s how our conversation started:

Me: Hello?

Her: Carla?

Me: Yeah…?

Her: “Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Whoo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo! Wee-uu, wee-uu, wee-uu…”

Me: What the--?

Her: Are you still bored?

Me: (Laughing my ass off)

Her: I just had to call and help you not be so bored.

Isn’t that awesome? We should all have such helpful family members, right?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Miss Crabbypants

I am bored as shit right now.

Yes, I am as bored as a piece of poo. I feel like I’m just lying there in the toilet, and just waiting for an exciting flush or something to happen. But nothing is happening. I’m just sitting there, waiting for the flush that just won’t come.

Do you want to know why I’m so freakin’ bored right now?

Well, let’s see.

First of all, the weather is just plain SHIT right now. I woke up this morning and put on my long underwear for the freakin’ 50th time this year, and I thought, “Will it EVER get warm again?”

Then I walked to work to my job where I was asked the same three questions over and over again all day long, and I thought, “Will I ever be inspired again?”

Then I came home to eat a frozen pizza and thought, “Will I ever eat anything really good ever again?”

Then I sat down to watch t.v. and thought, “Will I ever watch anything interesting ever again?”

Please tell me, dear reader, if you’ve ever felt this way before? I know I can’t be the only one…right?

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Today is my good friend Buck’s 50th birthday. Some people call him Buck, while others call him Jonathan. (Jonathan is his first name, Buck is his middle name.) But me?—even though I usually call him Jonathan, I also call him Dooder. Yep, that’s right. Dooder. Why Dooder, you ask?

Well, if you hang around me a lot, you know that I say the word “dude” pretty often. And somehow when Jonathan and I were just starting to get to know each other, that word morphed into the word “dooder” in my conversations with him. So that became my nickname for him. In response, he started calling me Poodle. I love our nicknames for each other. And I love my Dooder.

He is the kind of guy who would do anything for you, including scooping and disposing of nasty, stinkin’ cat poo while you’re away on vacation—even when you tell him he doesn’t have to. He’s just that nice. He’s also really funny and an awesome pianist.

I remember when I first heard him play the piano. My friend Diane and I were visiting him at his previous home on the South side, and he started playing Flight of the Bumblebee. My jaw dropped. I had no idea he was that good! Diane and I started firing requests at him, and he indulged us by playing all of them. Then I said, “Can you play the Brady Bunch theme?” And he launched into this extremely elaborate version of that song. Diane and I started laughing and couldn’t stop. It was just so funny to hear that song played like a classical piano piece from the 1700’s. Jonathan looked at us with a confused smile. “What? What’s so funny?” he asked. We just kept laughing and laughing.

Jonathan is just a really funny guy. For those of you who may not have checked out his blog, I highly encourage you to do so. This is one of my favorite things he’s ever written. It made me laugh so hard.

But most of all, Jonathan is just a really nice guy. About 6 months ago, when he heard that my friend Diane wanted to try Hungarian food, he immediately volunteered to cook a full Hungarian meal—and not just for Diane, but for Diane and for three other people. And it was fantastic. Oh, yeah, that’s right—he’s also a great cook. We all oo’d and ahh’d over the three yummy courses, including the delicious main course of chicken paprikash. He made us really love Hungarian food.

I’m telling you, everyone needs to have a friend like Jonathan. He is multi-talented, and has had many interesting experiences in his lifetime—from growing up as the son of a Baptist minister in small-town Texas, to living as a Catholic priest-in-training in Toronto, to living in a 60’s-style high-rise building in downtown Chicago.

I feel very lucky to have a friend like Jonathan, especially since he’s my neighbor and lives only a block away from me!

And he’s very young-at-heart and SO doesn’t look like he’s 50 years old. See?

Happy Birthday, Dooder! Thank you for being such a wonderful friend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Of Yoga and Chickens

Iwanski and I both did something new this week.

I took a yoga class. Iwanski cooked a chicken.

I am happy to report that the yoga class was a great workout that really relaxed me…not to mention that it was FREE through my workplace. Whoo-hoo! I get to take an hour-long yoga class once a week for free. That freakin’ rocks. Of course, I now realize that I have muscles that I never knew existed before, but that’s all part of the fun, right?

As far as the chicken goes, it has yet to be taste-tasted. The meat thermometer is climbing ever so slightly up to 165 degrees, and the appetites of Iwanski and Miss Healthypants are climbing very quickly up to the level of “Should we just go get some KFC?” Why, oh why, does a chicken take so long to cook?

I’m almost thinking of risking salmonella just to get a bite of it. But OH NO, that would be Iwanski’s worst nightmare. Salmonella poisoning from something he cooked?! The horror!

I will report back on the chicken in 3 days when it’s done cooking.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What Went Wrong

Today is the last day of my vacation, and I am sad. How can a week go by so freakin’ quickly, I ask you?

But rather than spending today feeling sad that all of the great experiences from this past Florida vacation are now over, I decided to instead recall what went wrong on our trip. That should make me feel better, right?

So let me tell you about Orlando—or as I like to call it, The Most Confusing City in the World. Okay, I guess it would have helped if we would have brought directions, but it shouldn’t be that hard to find downtown Orlando, right? You just look for the big buildings, right?

Wrong. Here is essentially what happened:

7:30 PM—Iwanski and I take one of the three exits that are designated for “Downtown Orlando.”

7:40 PM—We realize that we don’t seem to be anywhere near downtown Orlando.

7:50 PM—We drive around what appears to be a lake. What is a lake doing in the middle of a city?

8:00 PM—We no longer see any tall buildings and instead, appear to be in a retirement community.

8:05 PM—We get out of the old people area and start heading in the other direction.

8:15 PM—We start to see big buildings again. Hooray!

8:20 PM—We are definitely in downtown Orlando now. We search for Pine Street (the street our hotel is

8:25 PM—We get to Pine Street, but there are two signs on the street—one that says “No left turn” and one
that says “No right turn.”

8:30 PM—We drive around the block and don’t see any more signs. Iwanski turns right on Pine Street. (There are two cop cars parked on the corner.)

8:31 PM—A construction guy yells “Wrong way, buddy!”

8:32 PM—Iwanski turns off the street and starts to freak out, positive that he’ll now be getting a ticket in the mail for going the wrong way down a one-way street.

8:35 PM—I finally manage to calm Iwanski down, and now we are going the right way down Pine Street.

8:36 PM—We see our hotel and drive up. We notice that there is valet parking only.

8:37 PM—Iwanski starts to freak out about valet parking, which we’ve never had to do before. When do you tip the guy??

8:40 PM—Iwanski turns over the car to the valet guy and we check in to the hotel.

8:45 PM—We drag our heavy suitcases up to our room.

8:50 PM—We open our hotel room door and notice that there are dirty towels on the floor, the wastebasket is full of garbage, and there is a lemon wedge lying in the middle of the carpet.

8:51 PM—We call down to the front desk, and they tell us to come down so they can give us a key to a different room.

8:52 PM—We drag our heavy suitcases back down to the front desk.

8:55 PM—We get our new room key and drag our heavy suitcases up to our new room.

9:00 PM—We open the door to our new room and—well, everything is perfect, thank God!

9:05 PM—Iwanski goes back down to tip the valet guy.

OK, I do feel a little bit better now. I’m glad that at least those hassles are over!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Getting Away From It All

Whenever Iwanski and I go on vacation, we always try to spend as much time as possible in nature. Even though we love the hustle and bustle and energy of city life, when we get away, we really want to get away.

So here are some of my favorite “nature” (and a few other) pictures from our recent mini-vacation in Florida. (Please bear with me, as there are a lot of them. Iwanski took over 200 great pictures, and it was so hard for me to choose even these 15 or so to share.)

This was the first time I’d ever been in a forest that had palm trees…so beautiful! (And no, Diane, there were hardly any bugs--thank God!! I don't know if they normally have a lot of bugs in the winter or not--or maybe the recent cold snap that they'd had made all the bugs go into hibernation. Who knows? But it was nice!)

Florida (at least where we were) is chock-full of lakes, rivers, and bays—I really loved that.

Some of the rivers had these kick-ass creatures in them. (Yes, they would definitely kick your ass if you got too close!)

I loved this sign. What exactly would “molesting” an alligator entail? And who would even attempt that?

I just couldn’t get over how cool it was to see these things in nature. So creepy, but so cool.

We also saw so many unique birds (well, unique to us, anyway). Florida must just be a birder’s paradise! I think this one is called an Ibis.

I have no idea what this one is called.


Or this one. (If we ever go back to Florida, we really need to bring a bird guidebook with us.)

And if the animals in nature weren’t enough, we even went to the zoo to see more of them! Here’s me with two lorakeets eating nectar out of the little cup in my hand. They were extremely happy to see us—one of them even landed on Iwanski’s head. (I wish I would have gotten a picture of that!)

We arrived to see the tortoises in mid-chomp, at feeding time. We were told that they really love strawberries the best—but they’ll settle for lettuce and other greens, too. (They're so healthypants!)

Later on, we settled in at our hotel, which was right on the edge of this beach. The “white sandy beaches” that we’d heard about were not just a rumor—it was just so beautiful!

I enjoyed having a glass of wine from our beach-front table at Sloppy Joe’s restaurant. (The name sounds weird, but the restaurant was wonderful and had really kick-ass seafood. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, they also had awesome Sloppy Joe’s—-Iwanski can attest to that!)

The sunset was also incredibly beautiful…

I just love this sunset and seagull picture that Iwanski took.

Iwanski and I really enjoyed our time in Florida. (And I’m still trying to figure out how I can live there during the first three months of every year!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Iwanski and I went to our good friend Andy’s wedding in Orlando, FL this past weekend. What a lovely time!—and such beautiful weather! We made it a long weekend and got to see a few other sights, as well. Here are just a few observations from my first time EVER in Florida:

--I want to live in Florida from January through March. Then I can come back to Chicago for the other months of the year. How can I make this happen?

--Orlando is a confusing city to drive around in. When we finally found the street that our hotel was on, there were two signs posted: “No left turn” and “No right turn.” Huh?!?!

--For the first time, ever, Iwanski accidentally went the wrong way down a one-way street. I laughed and laughed.

--It’s fun to stand on a street corner in full wedding attire, eating hot dogs from a street vendor while listening to “Margaritaville” being blasted from a nearby bar.

--The beaches on the Gulf of Mexico are absolutely gorgeous.

--The forests of the Orlando/Tampa Bay region are just as beautiful as the beaches.

--It is wicked-awesome to see alligators in the wild, hanging out in a river fifty feet in front of you.

--Armadillos (which seemed to be very commonplace in Florida) are very strange creatures who are kind-of cute in an ugly sort-of way.

--The birds of Florida are plentiful and beautiful.

--The pelican is my absolute favorite bird. Check out this picture…notice how the pelican in the back has his mouth wide-open? So freakin’ cool!

I really enjoyed our little trip to Florida. And just wait…there may be more pictures or stories to follow!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Miss My Blog Buddies!

Man, I have been sooo busy at work this week. I haven’t been able to do half the stuff I’d really like to be doing (you know, like drinking beer and passing out on the couch, stuff like that).

But you know what I miss most? Reading all the great blogs of my wonderful blog buddies. I miss all you beautiful people! But soon, I will be taking a little mini-vacation, and I will curl up with my laptop and soak up all of your blogs and find out what’s going on in your little corners of the world.

Until then, know that I am thinking of you. I want to know:

--If Iwanski will forgive me for writing this blog at work instead of coming home on time.
--How Sfoofie is enjoying her new home and somewhat new job
--How Buck is enjoying the extremely exciting Illinois countryside
--If it’s still snowing sometimes in Rainey’s city—or merely raining (Rainey must like rain—ha!)
--How Danny Wanny and his lovely wife are enjoying the suburban life
--If Citymouse has some new fun rant for us
--If JP will ever be back ? (Waaaaaaaaaaa!)
--If LP Cards fan is liking our new President
--If Boskey/Gilman is still whining about the Superbowl (tee hee!)
--How Mathman’s return to work (post-inauguration festivities) is going
--Everything that is going on in Sling’s life—it’s always entertaining
--If Worms, Puppies, BBQ will ever post again?
--If Daisy’s Mommy/Frugal Zen will ever post again?
--How Barb is handling the recently cool weather in Florida
--If Mary Ruth has spotted any new “bubblers”
--How Rosemary’s pets (especially her poor kitten) and Rosemary herself are doing
--How Greeny is handling this cold winter in the Ozarks
--If Sageweb has any more adorable pictures of her dog
--How Leah is handling the raw food diet (is she sticking to it?)
--Everything that is going on in Maria’s life—she’s a brilliant writer
--What new recipe Kimberly Ann has cooked up for us
--How Lost in Color is enjoying her new home
--What new and I’m sure hilarious stuff can be found on Lisa’s blog

If I’ve missed any of you, I’m so sorry, but have I mentioned before how busy I’ve been? My brain is barely functioning at this point.

Love y’all! Have a great weekend!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Friday was my best girlfriend, Diane’s, birthday.

I have thanked my lucky stars a million times that I have a friend like Diane.

She’s the kind of friend that I can tell my innermost secrets and neuroses to, and she just laughs and says, “You’re so much like me—I feel like that all the time, too!”

What a relief. A friend who accepts you unconditionally, who listens to your darkest secrets and makes them seem like no big deal.

I am so lucky to have her for a friend.

Diane, I know this is a bit late—but heck, I called you on your actual birthday, anyway!

Happy Belated Birthday, chickie!! Thank you for sharing so much laughter and tears with me over the years. You are one in a million!