Fourth.

Last summer, the husband and I became expatriates for ten days, visiting London, Dublin, Galway and Amsterdam.  It was an epic adventure (deserving its own post – or posts –  someday), but as a result we didn’t really celebrate* the 4th of July.

Our Irish 4th.

So this year, it was back to good ol’ American business as usual.  Our friend Nicholas’ parents graciously allowed us to take over their house/yard/grill/swimming pool in the suburbs for a day, and we made good use of them all.

Lucy and some patriotic drinks.

My vintage bathing suit score.**

Dudes with beards, throwing things.

Impromptu swimsuit fashion shoot with Kait.

From Kait’s camera.

Must have for hot-day drinking.

Totally un-posed, I swear.

AMERICA!

Nicholas and guitar.

It was the best kind of summer day: hot, hazy, and dreamy, with good food and drinks made by good friends.  After experiencing one or two Independence Days in the city, I now would much rather get the heck out of Boston, away from the crowds, and into a backyard somewhere quiet*** and suburban.  It felt like spending a day with family – which, I suppose, that’s what it was.

* To be fair, taking a tour of the Guinness Brewery actually is like a party in itself.

** Vintage bathing suit c/o my favorite seller at the Davis Flea, Sarka’s Collection.  Bathing suits, silk scarves, dresses galore.

*** Aside from those illegal fireworks.

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Daddy-O

After a long and enjoyable weekend (more on that later), I’m left exhausted, but I wanted to make sure I got on here to tell the blogosphere: my dad is a kick-ass dad.  He’s a musician, a photographer, a poet, an artist, and grower of excellent beards.  When I was little, he’d entertain me with two characters (his right and left hands) named Poco and Velcro.  In high school, he sat patiently while I played him Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness in its entirety.  Now, he talks poetry with my friends and comes to my burlesque shows.  What more could a girl ask for?

So Happy Father’s Day to him, and to all the kick-ass dads I know!

More Insta(nt)gra(tification)m

I give you the last 2.5 weeks, as seen through my wonky Virgin Mobile Android:

Prop-makin’ for a new routine.

Backyard fire at my friend Courtney’s.

Idyllic in Somerville.

Allix Mortis changing in the car, pre-show.

Undoubtedly the most photographed sign in Ralph’s Diner in Worcester.

Tijuana Sweetheart, with whom we had the pleasure of sharing a stage.

Day-after-show hair: burlesque is nothing if not glamorous.

Lunch on the patio at my office.

State Street orange line stop.

Hotel Marlowe and a little of my husband.

My dad and Aunt Susan, before my sister’s wedding.

My own wedding shots.

Porch wine, candlelight and the White Album.

A friend we made at Kimball Farm.

Maybe not the best mini-golf shoes.

Kimball Farm and a little more of my husband.

Arcade.

Feeling self-congratulatorily bohemian (and cleavagey), sipping wine and writing out on our porch.

Our friends Hallelujah the Hills’ CD release party.

Beard here.

So did I!

Hazy Memorial Day bathroom self-portrait.

Grass-sittin’.

Bike-walkin’.

Sorry for the overload.  What can I say?  Life’s been aesthetically pleasing these days.

Matron of Honor’d!

Some weekends are busier than others: sometimes the most I accomplish is a shower and a glass of wine.  But last weekend?  Not only did I shower (twice!) and have a number of glasses of wine, but I emerged with a husband a year older, a married sister, and a new freakin’ brother.  What a weekend indeed.

Friday we opened our humble home to 30+ of our nearest and dearest to help celebrate the hubby’s 34th birthday.  It was the quintessential ugly party,* with loud talking, group hugging, and a fridge full of High Lifes.  My special man specifically asked for a cake with a unicorn on it, so I (best wife ever) made that happen.  And, I learned, that this is what happens when the nice lady on the phone at the Shaw’s bakery says, “yeah, I’ll just draw a horse with a horn on it”:

Narwhalicorn. Photo by Shannon Bullard Sweetser.

And yes, that is a horse with a horn on it!  Perhaps we should have discussed further where exactly the horn should go.  Still, a narwhalicorn-y good time was had by all, and I also managed to not burn down the house/myself alive while lighting 34 birthday candles.  Perhaps my favorite part was when, at a particularly noisy, crowded moment, my parents appeared at the door, looking somewhat shell-shocked after their 7-hour drive from NY.  The great thing about them, though, is that they can make themselves comfortable in pretty much any social situation, including an apartment full of 20- and 30-somethings with beers.  I remember one party a few years ago at my old apartment in Allston where my dad spent almost the entire night at our kitchen table talking about poetry with my friend Adam.

(In fact, there’s a picture…)

Candlelit discussions (with beer) in 2007.

In short, my parents are awesome, and my friends think so too.

And yes, it’s now official: there are no more unmarried folk in my family.  We managed to marry my sister off withut a hitch (ha), despite my own pre-wedding stress (way more than before own wedding – go figure).  In a lot of ways, the wedding was the polar opposite of ours (well-organized, a traditional ceremony, a chuppah that stayed up, no inmates shouting vulgarities…**), but it actually felt just as relaxed and fun as ours was.  There were unexpected moments, too: the rabbi quoted Garrison Keillor and the bride and groom danced to the Rolling Stones’ cover of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now).”  Most importantly, though (to me), I delivered my first/maybe only Matron of Honor speech.  It was hard figuring out what exactly to say to my sister and her new husband; I felt like I could’ve spent hours talking about our childhood, and how bad I feel about the years we didn’t get along, and the person I know her to be that not everyone else gets to see all the time.  Instead, I did the best I could to convey all that in a tidy 5-ish minutes, and wrapped it all up with this:

I may not be much of an expert on marriage yet, but I do know that you two obviously care so much about each other’s happiness, and in my very humble experience, that’s really important.  As for everything else?  We’ll all figure that out as we go.  You two have the perfect people around you to help you learn.  

I’ll leave you with something I recently read in a book by Rebecca Woolf, which I think serves as the perfect blessing:

“Marriage isn’t about genetic perfection.  Marriage is about the half-eaten cake in the fridge.  ‘I made it for you, but then I got hungry.’  It’s about the late- night snack runs, even if they’re the wrong kind of snacks.  It’s about trying.  And messing up.  And falling down.  And getting up.  And making up… Marriage is about the flowers that grow wild in the sidewalk cracks, often disguised as weeds and equally hard to manage.  Blooming year-round.  Dandelions with wishes to blow against the wind if you believe.  And I do.”

I’m not one to toot my own horn, but there were very few dry eyes in the place.

And now, I give you the obligatory photo recap:

Mister and Missus. Photo by Brandon Vick.

Sisters. Photo by Brandon Vick.

The b-maids. Photo by Mary Corcoran.

Photo by Brandon Vick.

Dancing with my mama. Photo by Mary Corcoran Photography.

Dad! Photo by Mary Corcoran.

I made them cry! Photo by Brandon Vick

(Not pictured: adorable twin flower girls, me making ugly crying faces, and the wound I gave myself with my own heel while dancing the Hora.)

All in all, a productive weekend, I’d say.  And lots more to talk about soon, everyone.  Exciting things on the horizon.

* An “ugly party,” according to Cat Rocketship of Offbeat Home, is “all about friends. A good ugly party will make newbies in your social circle feel like they’ve made new friends, you’ll have a sticky kitchen floor, and an ugly party will probably leave a few old friends asleep on a futon. ”  Read this article for more.  (Seriously – these are my favorite kinds of parties)

** Another story for another day.

Emily Thinks About Weddings and Other Big Life Things.

NOTE: I promise, dear blog, that I will not let the fact that Instagram is now (FINALLY) available for Android come between us.

Speaking of which, let’s talk photos (and some other things).

In case you didn’t know, my parents are professional photographers,* and have been photographing weddings for pretty much my entire life.  What this meant was that my sister and I were never lacking for wedding photos to ogle.  I certainly went through various wedding-fantasizing stages, but when it came time for me to do it for real, we ended up with something low-key, low-stress, and very much our own.  (Our centerpieces were board games; we began the ceremony with high-fives, and I dyed a streak of my hair to be my “something blue.” )

Us, right after making it official.

Also, our friends and family were a huge part of the wedding.  Our cupcakes were made by a baking-savvy friend; my mom sewed our chuppah (which ended up being more of a backdrop due to the wind!); my dad wrote and recorded the song he and I danced to.  We had a close friend perform our ceremony, thanks to Massachusetts’ one-day marriage designation.  Not to brag, but basically, we have awesome friends who helped make it an awesome day.  And this is kind of how I see marriage in general.  It doesn’t make sense for us (and, I’d argue, a lot of people) to retreat into seclusion and close ourselves off to the rest of the world now that we’re married.  It’s not that we’re not a team–we are–but I see it more as a smaller unit,** encircled by bigger ones.  Maybe it’s the crunchy, vaguely Commie hippie in me speaking, but I just don’t think we’re meant to live cut off from each other.  It takes a village, et cetera.  Our family and friends aren’t any less important to us now that we’re married.

See? Encircled.

So now, my younger sister is planning her wedding.***  In less than three weeks, almost exactly three years after I got married, she’ll be creating a new little circle all her own, with her and Brandon (or, as I’ve come to call him, FUTUREBROTHER) as its nucleus.  Around that little circle will be bigger ones, with her family, both biological and the one they’ve created from friends.  I got to meet some of them this weekend at my sister’s bachelorette party, and I can now say with conviction that these circles are made up of some genuinely wonderful friends.

Caution – wild girls.

Or maybe it’s not quite a circle.  Maybe it’s a web, or one big crazy connect-the-dots, with lines drawn here and there, from me to my sister to my husband to my mom to you and back.  The more tangled, the better – because that’s what makes it strong.  We all need each other.

So what am I getting at here?  Let’s see.  Marriage is big.  And it’s frustrating, and wonderful, and maddening, and joyful, and three years into it I can hardly claim to know a darn thing about it.  But I do know this: having a network of people is important.  It’s like a big nest, made up scraps of this and that, where a fledgling family of two can be safe and warm and supported.

Bride and maid of honor, overwhelmed.

And I love knowing that my sister and I are now pieces in each other’s brand-new nests.

*And damn good ones, at that.

**May I never grow out of giggling at the word “unit.”

***And she’s blogging about her nearlywed status, too!