Welcome to Adulthood

Vows Under the Rotunda

Today I am so excited to feature some pictures on the blog for our first official wedding post!

Elizabeth and Shaik (who live in San Francisco’s NOPA area, those lucky ducks) couldn’t reconcile between having a small, intimate ceremony in the beautiful “Beaux-Arts”-style City Hall Building that they had always admired, or whether to have a large wedding with all the pomp and circumstance. After much thought, Elizabeth and Shaik realized, “Hey, why are we anguishing over this when we can do it all?”

Shaik wanted a traditional wedding in his hometown in Malaysia to celebrate with his 500 close family and friends (he actually has 500 family and friends — that is not an exaggeration!) Elizabeth wanted a classic and elegant wedding in California with her closest family and friends. Travel costs for all family and friends prohibited them from doing one big wedding, so they initially decided on two, big, separate weddings. Through all their planning of the two big weddings they realized something else they wanted: to share their vows of love and partnership in a quiet setting, in the city they adored, surrounded by only a handful of family and friends, Elizabeth wearing a little white dress and her favorite yellow peep-toe pumps, and Shaik wearing his sharpest Navy suit. Why compromise?

On July 3, 2009 they made their first dream come true. They were married in the rotunda of City Hall, under the fifth largest dome in the world.

In case you have never visited the building, here is a picture. It is really stunning!

Here is the couple walking to the City Hall (and there was no fog!)

And in front of the City Hall before the ceremony.

Here is the homemade bouquet that I made for Elizabeth. I wrapped the stems in Elizabeth’s favorite old yellow silky shirt. Though the shirt hasn’t fit for years, Elizabeth couldn’t part with it because she loved the pretty material so much. She knew she would use the material for something special — and did she ever! If you look closely, you might even see the buttons!

Here they are signing the marriage lisence.

The beautiful bride!

I love this sweet candid shot, stealing a glance before the big moment.

On the famous staircase.

And the dip!

So, I guess it is true that for your wedding you really can have your cake and eat it too! Elizabeth + Shaik + a simple, intimate ceremony + an elegant U.S. wedding + a traditional Malaysian destination wedding = total awesomeness. Thank you so much Elizabeth and Shaik for sharing your beautiful and sweet day with us. We can’t wait to see more pictures from your U.S. wedding and your Malaysian wedding!

How did you celebrate your special day? Send me your story and any pictures to be featured on the blog to mara@welcometoadulthood.com

(City Hall building picture credit to Nicholas Shanks.)

Coming Up Next

The perks of adulthood may come in many shapes and sizes…and in this case, it comes in the form of a purple Morning Glory.

‘Tis the Season to be…Wed?

Did I mention so many of my friends are engaged? In fact, another of my dearest friends got engaged last weekend. I am glad I have this blog, because I think this is one of those things that many people can relate to in some way or another. I call it, Rites of Passage In Which You Are Not Included.

I think we get used to achieving rites of passages with our peers. You get your period about the same time as your friends (which is important so you can share some woman-stories and information, not just glean all your information from Judy Blume’s, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.) You go into high school about the same time as your peers, you graduate high school at the same time as your peers, you go off to college, you graduate college, you get a “real” job and all your friends are getting “real” jobs too, and you…get married around the same time?

Maybe that is why I feel left behind. Granted, I am not in any hurry to get married, but I can’t help but feel left behind among the talk of wedding gowns and flower colors.

And then the inevitable question from random people, family members, friends:
“What about you and your boyfriend?”

“What about it?”

“When will you be getting married?”

“Uh, you know. We are just takin’ our time right now and enjoying it.”

Why do I feel like I need to legitimize my relationship status? Probably because I am the one who is left behind in this epic rite of passage. And it is not that I feel left behind in my relationship, but more left behind by my friends. Kinda like if someone had told me when I was 17 that I couldn’t graduate high school for another year or two, and all my friends got to go off to exciting post-high school adventures. Yeah. That is exactly how I feel: like I am sitting in a math class, looking out the window, watching my friends pack for college (yes…it is a reverie: obviously they would not be packing RIGHT in front of my classroom window. And I did graduate high school on time, I might add — with no thanks to my poor math grades.)

I just kind of feel…quiet. Happy for them but quiet inside because I feel my dearest friends will be on to new things. New “married” things. And I will still be quietly here.

What about you guys out there? Do you, or did you, ever feel like this?

The good news about all my friends weddings is that I will be able to start a new topic to file things on our blog: weddings! That means anything wedding you want to share, talk about, etc, send my way! Pictures are especially welcome.

To start off this new “file” in the blog, I am posting a picture of my dear friend, Morgan (also a highly anticipated guest blogger, hopefully!) who is pretty much about the coolest girl around.

Morgan is a cross between a indie fashionista and a hippie, if you can wrap your head around that one. She is a New Jersey girl, transplanted to the beach of San Diego (not too shabby) and is engaged to a handsome fellow named Brant. Brant is in the Navy and is currently deployed in Kuwait. He works for the Navy E.O.D. and basically blows up bombs all day, but more on that later.

Brant proposed to Morgan with this stunning sapphire and diamond ring. The best thing about this ring (aside from that it is beautiful) is that it features conflict-free, ethically sourced, gemstones. Morgan felt strongly about not supporting the proliferation of blood diamonds, and she has always loved sapphires. Here is a picture of the loveliness:

To read more about conflict diamonds, and why it is so important to support purchases of conflict-free gemstones, check out what the U.N. has to say: Conflict Diamonds

And here is an interesting tidbit: A French lady who I used to work with had a wedding ring that was also not a diamond. She told me that diamonds were considered an “American” thing (picture a very thick French accent with a highly pejorative undertone)and in Europe no one really cared for diamonds as they were not as rare as their high prices would lead you to believe (the rareness vs. price is true, not just a cultural bias.) In fact, she even referred to them as “common.”

What do you think? To diamond or not to diamond? Did you know about conflict diamonds and now that you do will you think twice before purchasing a diamond? Lots to talk about today, folks! Sound off in the comments.

(The lovely Gatsby-esque wedding picture is via OnceWed.com, and the others are courtesy of Miss Morgan the Magnificent.)

Defining Adulthood, a continuing discussion. And, YES! Our first GUEST BLOGGER is almost here!

I had a few conversations with some readers today about the idea of “adulthood”, and how yesterday’s posts may have not accurately captured all that is “being an adult.” My wise readers pointed out, it is not just about having a job, or being married, or having kids, or being “responsible” that makes you an adult. For example, one reader, Danna, (soon to be guest blogger, I hope) is 27 years old, successful, and just got a huge tattoo on her back. Another of my dear readers is taking 4 months off work to travel around the world with her beau. Both are embarking on exciting, fantastical, indelible adventures. Making those kinds of exhilarating choices for oneself has to be one of the greatest things about being an adult.

So, we must also include in our Manifesto about Adulthood this: wherever our “adult” path takes us, all experiences are equally valued here. Because, as adults, we have the choice to be accountable and present in our own lives — to live with intention. Adulthood is more than a word, or a cliche. Here, we will reclaim Adulthood as a movement. And that is something that is pretty cool.

Do You Remember the Times?

Today, Michael Jackson passed away. Though I just birthed this blog, I don’t think an incident like this can go unnoticed in the blogosphere.

A few ruminations:

I have learned that the fastest way to obtain the most up-to-the-minute news is through Facebook. Forget CNN, BBC, MSNBC, NY Times, etc. In case of incident, injury, or emergency always, always, always consult Facebook first.

Example 1: When there was a small earthquake in LA a few months ago (I didn’t feel it), everyone on Facebook was talking about it. I checked the news websites, there was nothing about it. Twenty minutes later, the LA Times and CNN finally reported it.

Example 2: When the metro trains collided in D.C. last week, I was just hanging out on my Facebook when all of the sudden I see a handful of status posts about the metro collision, including one person who was actually ON one of the trains that collided. I checked the news, nothing. Twenty minutes later, The Washington Post, MSNBC, and CNN finally reported it.

Today, I am checking in on Facebook and I see about 5 posts about Michael Jackson’s death. I check the usual newswires – all they say is that he is hospitalized. In about 25 minutes, nearly everyone on my Facebook has commented on the death and still not one news source would confirm.

There is power in the ability to report and record events. No longer is it a power reserved for the media, or publishing houses for that matter. We can claim and use information for our own means, and we must! In a small way, this is why I started this blog.

Back to MJ. You know, I wasn’t probably cool enough to listen to MJ’s music when I was really young (I worked for a children’s radio station after all, I am pretty sure Billy Jean was not acceptable programming.) Then, when I reached 10th grade I became buddies with some eccentric friends that loved the 80’s. We would drive around Washington D.C. in my friend Meredith’s little Ford Tempo blasting all things MJ.

To me, Michael Jackson’s music embodies mix tapes and memories. And though MJ faced some tough issues in his life, as an artist he dramatically innovated and invigorated pop music.

How has Michael Jackson’s music been woven into the soundtrack of your lives? How did you hear about his death? Do you care about his death, and the hype of his passing when so many people around the world die every day? How does Facebook change the role of the media? Or does it? Have you noticed these same kinds of reporting trends in your social networking sites? Does this access to information empower you, or worry you? Post any thoughts on these or other topics of interest in the comments.

(Photos attributed to the LA Times and Getty Images)

Calling All Guest Bloggers and JT Eco Project

Let’s share our stories!

I would like to feature at least one guest blogger each week (new or recurring). So far, I have a few really exciting bloggers lined up, and I am very excited to see what kinds of great stories they will regale us with. If anyone else would like to contribute, by all means — send any stories, thoughts, quotes, or pictures my way. What is meaningful to you? What have you learned along the road of this crazy life? Or maybe you just have a good recipe to share or a really cool picture. Email me: mara@welcometoadulthood.com

I feel inspired. I hope you will feel that way too as we watch this little blog…grow up.

Here’s a little inspiration to hold you over:
These pictures above are from my good friends Melissa and Pete’s off-grid Joshua Tree Eco Project, in its very early stages. Melissa and Pete bought a bunch of land out in Joshua Tree and are building a series of cabins, built from all recycled materials, complete with solar energy! These cabins will eventually be part of a sprawling camp site in Joshua Tree where visitors can enjoy the desert beauty while camping in unique “green” cabins. This project is a labor of love, let me tell you. Melissa and Pete have built everything (including leveling the land and laying the foundation) with their own hands! And, nearly every material they have used has been free (it is recycled after all!) They really are amazing and these pictures do not do their project justice.

Hats off to these two! I can’t wait to post more pictures as the project progresses.

For more information about the Joshua Tree Eco Project, visit Melissa and Pete’s website at nestandnook.

You know you are an "adult" when…

Here is a picture of my most recent artifact of adulthood. It is honestly my most prized possession (and since it was given to me by one of my dearest friends, it is even more special to me.) Isn’t is sooo beautiful? When did a MIXER become my most prized posession?
What artifacts of adulthood do you consider prized possessions? Maybe your wedding dress? Your motorcycle? Your house? Your knife set? Your grad school diploma? Let us know in the comments! Or send me an email with a .jpeg and I’ll do a little artifact posting party. 🙂

What’s it all about?

We are just figuring it out. We are trying our best every day to live right for ourselves and for those who we love. This will be a forum where we shall learn from each other’s experiences. We will have guest bloggers, and eventually I will make this site more high tech. We will seperate each Adulthood topic into it’s own heading, we will support each other and we will share our histories. Let’s archive adulthood. How has our life changed us? What is important to us? What do we cherish? What defines us? What do we like to do for fun? What have been our great adventures and our great trials? How do we deal with our life’s transitions and rites of passage? How do we celebrate? How do we mourn? How do we love? This blog is my little exploration and with your help, input, and discussions, we will take adulthood by storm! Who’s with me?

All Signs Point to Yes.

How do you know when you have reached that ever-elusive “adulthood”? I thought it was when I was 18 years old: adventurous, independent for the first time. Smoking cigarettes on the steps outside my dorm, my parents thousands of miles away, with my newly pierced tongue. “This must be it,” I thought to myself. At 19 years old, my parents got divorced and I was shattered. Was this actually adulthood? Feeling the ache of a guilded and broken childhood every day, and having the courage and the strength to get myself out of bed each morning, go to class, go to my waitressing job, study, smoke cigarettes outside my dorm, and do it again tomorrow without completely unraveling. “This must be it,” I thought to myself.

At 20 years old, I was living back at home with my mother. I made a new “adult” life in my childhood room, removing pictures of my childhood heroes and replacing them with pictures of my friends and I smoking cigarettes outside the dorm. “That must have been adulthood,” I thought as I looked fondly at the pictures. Certainly, I wasn’t necessarily happy back at college, but it reminded me of a time when I felt free, before the divorce, before the bitter realization that even in times of hardship, you have to pick yourself up (and there is no one that will do it for you!) and keep taking care of yourself.

At 21 years old, I knew I had to be there. “THIiiissss must be it, I really just didn’t know it before,” I thought to myself. Now that I am 21, I can drink legally — it has opened my whole life to a new world of legal socialization. Going to bars, meeting boys at bars, this has to be it.

At 26 years old, I graduated college. After an extended stint at community college, I finally transferred to a small, private university and graduated as the oldest person in my class (I thought so at least.) I got a job right after college, and a glamorous one at that. I got to travel to New York frequently, I got to attend fancy parties. I remember getting off the plane at JFK airport on my first official business trip. I had intended to take a taxi into the city, but a nice gentleman at the taxi queue quickly assured me that he would take me into the city for “a good price” in his town car. I sat comforably in the dark leather seats and as I watched the city lights descend upon me, I thought, “Ah ha! So THIS is it! I have finally made it. And boy, does it feel good to be here.” Then the driver told me I owed him $115. After a short argument in which the man told me he would call the police if I didn’t “pay up”, I tearily handed him the money. As I watched him speed away I thought (for I was a little wiser by now and knew there were things I still needed to learn), “Maybe this is not it. Maybe I am not really here yet. But when will I know?”

Now I am 28 years old. I feel like I should be here by now: four of my dearest friends are engaged, another of my dearest friends is well on her way to engagement (they have picked out the ring! Squealll!), I have a job that I wake up for every day (no sleeping through class anymore or skipping out on my waitressing shifts like the old days), I pay bills (a lot of bills!), I live with my boyfriend (who I adore), and my beau and I are currently in the market to buy a house. More terrifyingly, sometimes I see babies and I think for a split-second, “Aww! I want one of those soon…” Then I snap out of it. I’m not there quite yet.

Still, all of these things seem to be rites of passage to adulthood. I think I would feel pretty “adult” if I bought a house with my boyfriend. Obviously my friends feel “adult-enough” to decide to get married. And that new-found affection for children in general? Yeah, I would say that is pretty “adult.” But if I have learned anything from my life in the last 10 years it is that being an “adult” isn’t always what it seems, or what it is cracked up to be. How can we actually be an “adult” if we don’t even know how to handle these rites of passage? I mean, could I really conceptualize birthing a child through my vagina (yes, I said vagina, I think that is part of being an adult?) and then raising the child for the rest of my life? And what about this house that I am going to buy? The economy is in the crapper, what if I can’t keep up with my hefty mortgage payments? And as a long-time renter, can I really imagine putting MOST of my earnings into my mortgage payment? And marriage: I am already in a partnership. Am I less “adult” if I don’t feel like getting married? Certainly, most would say “No. No. To each their own.” But really, getting married has its own ethos; it legitimizes your relationship somehow. For some reason, to be a married couple carries more weight then saying “oh yes, this is my boyfriend.” (That is also why getting married is such an important issue to gay people, and why should they be denied that right? But more on that another time.)

So, dear readers, how do we know we “have made it”? I wish there were sign posts along the way to help us figure it out: “This Way!” or “One Way Only (you’re on the right track)”. Like if you are running a long race and you have a team of people on the sidelines cheering for you, “You are almost there! Just one more little hill!” That really does make the race easier. I would be happy with even a little light-bulb moment “ding! ding! ding! You made it!” Just something tangible that I could savor for a single minute so I could breathe a sigh of relief that I finally got there.

But maybe there is no sign, no moment. Maybe it just sneaks up on you, sits down, and settles in, so subtle and so sure that it lingers with you for days, months, or even years, until suddenly you realize you never needed a sign. You realize that you have been here for a very long time after all, and you are actually doing pretty well for a gal not having any directions. I can imagine this would feel like an incredible sense of completion, pride, strength, and wisdom. I’m still watching and wondering…

Welcome to Adulthood.

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