Trip to Latrobe

Chris, our friend Aubrey, and I are on our way to some no-boy Weiner party at our friend Beth’s. Join us for the drive!

1:13 — Just saw a guy at the five-way intersection at South Park road. He kept circling the pole at the cross walk. For two minutes. Chris and I kept staring at him, and when we pointed it out to Aubrey, she said he was doing that when she passed by on the way to our house. 15 minutes ago.

1:15 — he took off and ran across the road! Still running!

1:17 — tailgated by a hearse! Not the Ecto 1!

1:20 — angry hearse passed us!

1:21 — we are driving into a terrible cloud. Now it’s gone. Oh, Pittsburgh.

1:25 — coffee stop!!

1:35 — the cloud has returned.

1:44 — “teeth of the dog” are $30 an hour anytime. Good to know.
1:45 — Chris just called me “idiot broad.”
1:46 — Chris says Ricky Gervais would be welcome to step into our relationship. Huh.
1:51 — plans for a “pickle and wine” party. We are classy!
1:57 — just passed a frightening-looking hot-dog place called The Red Caboose. We want to try it, but it looks closed!
2:01 — just saw a sign for something called a kielbasa Reuben blitz. Holy. Crap.
2:04 — heavy discussion of relationships and marriage. We are serious talkers.
2:09 — X-Files reference. So lost.
2:16 — now discussion of religion. So grown-up!
2:26 — agreement that we are too old to waste time on relationships that aren’t going anywhere. So much agreement.
2:27 –wedding talk!
2:29 — Aubrey could totally marry us, because we have similar views on marriage and weddings. Move over, Ricky Gervais!
2:32 — wedding talk of fathers. No father/daughter dancing at ours, kids.
2:39 — I am a horrible navigator. Not lost but it’s just not my jam.
2:40 — still serious talk about moms and moving and life business. We are so old!
2:46 — here! And the phrase “big bag of dildos” has been uttered. What a great trip!


When I was a kid, I didn’t know Dominoes was an actual game. I thought you just lined them up and flicked the first one over, setting yourself up for a super-cool 5-10 seconds of payoff. I guess I thought they just had random dots on them for decoration or something. I remember watching a segment on “That’s Incredible!” involving some elaborate course that someone had set up just to be knocked down. All that prep work and everything destroyed in seconds. And then you’re left to clean up the mess.

I mailed in our deposit and contract to the George Washington on Tuesday. Like most things in my life, it was equal parts exciting and terrifying. Also like most things in my life, each thought sets off another like a chain of thought dominoes.


  • Weddings are fun!
  • We agreed on a place, it’s awesome, and our families love it.
  • The food is spectacular.
  • I get to marry my favoritest person in the whole world.


  • That deposit is just a small portion of — wait, how much? Do I have time to get a second job?
  • What if [insert ridiculous thing that will never, ever happen] happens before/during our wedding?
  • Should we invite so-and-so? What if we do and they’re awful? What if we don’t and they’re mad?
  • What if…the same thing happens that did the last time I tried this?

That last one is the loudest.


I know. We’re adorable. Let’s enjoy this moment for a bit before we move to the next, which will be less pleasant.

For those of you who don’t know, this is not my first engagement rodeo. I was in a six-year relationship, and we were engaged to be married in…2010. Wow. I really had to think about that. Anyway, things ended up going south a few months before our wedding.  It was…pretty crappy. It was one of those life events that truly shapes who you are as a person but that you have zero interest in revisiting on a regular basis.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m grateful the relationship ended. I don’t mean this to sound cruel to Ex, but that breakup is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I grew as a person, I got out of a relationship that wasn’t the best for either of us, and I proved to myself (again) that I’m stronger than I thought I could be.

Also, I met (both just online and in person) some lovely people because of that engagement. I blogged for a currently nonfunctioning website, So You’re EnGAYged. I’m Facebook friends with a handful of other SYE people, and it makes me so happy to see the events in their lives — weddings, babies, new houses, new jobs, and everything else. Every time Chris and I talk about wedding photographers, I lament the fact that we probably can’t afford to bring in one of the website’s founders, Kelly Prizel, all the way from Connecticut. (I love her photos — check out her site: If you’re in her area and need a photographer, you should hire her.) I recently made a sports bet with another former fellow blogger, Raven, about a possible Pirates/Giants Wild Card series. And I’m so excited every time I see my Pittsburgh buddy Alyia post about her upcoming wedding.

Ahem. Tangent.

Anyway, this past weekend, we were talking to my friend about her long-ago divorce, and it (of course) brought up a lot of memories of mine. Well, break-up, technically, since we were never married, which brought with it a whole host of other issues because we had no legal protections. Long story short, for multiple reasons, she told me three months before our wedding that she couldn’t marry me. And I told her that I couldn’t be with someone who wasn’t able to get married after six years together. And…it was over. But we still had three cats, a house, and a houseful of stuff to figure out. It was not the best six months of my life.


I still miss these other two guys sometimes. But certainly not the chubby one’s hair. He shed more than the other two combined. And he pooped so much!


Another warm-fuzzy break. Us at our engagement party. Photo credit to Chris’ cousin Mindy. Hope you don’t mind that I stole this!

After a night of thought dominoes, I ended up re-rereading the e-mail Ex sent me about why it ended (in which she took zero responsibility, but whatever), and it started a whole other round. What if this happens again?  What if we get closer and closer to the big day next year, and she tells me she can’t go through with it? What if, what if, what if…

I’ve talked to Chris about this. Of course. We talk about everything. (Everything. Seriously.) She assures me that I’m being ridiculous, which I know I am. Chris isn’t Ex. And I’m not 2010 Monica, either.


Pictured — 2010 Monica and 2010 Abigia. We were such kids!

I have been stressed a lot lately, and I think that’s a lot of it. I know in my head I’m worrying about something that won’t happen, and I trust Chris. She’s not leaving. Neither am I. I just need to remind myself of that sometimes and think about more important things. Like…I hope we can pick different appetizers for cocktail hour. I hope we can be at cocktail hour. Will people think it’s weird if they see us beforehand? Should we walk down the aisle? Should we have a flower girl?

Can we finance our wedding through Kickstarter?



Richmond Visit, part 3

Well, Graham didn’t destroy the house.

Where’s my ball, bitch?!

We woke up, packed our stuff, and headed to breakfast. Well, by the time we got there, brunch. Kristin was woken up by her Graham clone early in the morning and did some research on a different place since the one in Petersburg was heartbreakingly closed.

Couldn’t find one of him so here’s another of Graham. Imagine longer hair that’s orange all over. It’s Romeo!

Holy crap, this place was amazing. And one of the owners was a Steeler fan. Karma led us here.

Karma made me an omelet and the best damn biscuits I’ve ever had for breakfast.

Everything was so good, including Chris’ sausage gravy and biscuits she’s been wanting since yesterday. The only bad thing about it was the piece of glass she found in it.

Yep. Glass. In gravy.

After reassuring herself that this wasn’t “southern style,” we asked our waitress for more coffee and mentioned there was a giant chunk of glass in the gravy. She was (understandably) mortified and very worried that someone cut themselves. We reassured her all was well — and that we would continue with our meals after a quick glass check — and she filled our coffees (priorities!) and told the kitchen what happened (within our full view).

“Sorry!” with a hand wave.

Well, hope you checked out the rest of the gravy, but whatever.

Danger inside! Also sausage.

Other than that little misstep, everything was super delicious. And Chris had this fun mug with words of wisdom.

Also from the glass factory.

We went to pay and I struck up a conversation with the German cashier wearing a soccer shirt. “They’re my team!” she told us proudly. She rang us up (minus glassy gravy) and asked, “You are military, right? No? Well, I’ll give you the discount anyway.”


We got home a little bit ago. It took longer than we planned, partially because of an accident in Winchester. But the company and the drive were lovely, and though I was sad to be back to reality and leave my poor friend IN THE SOUTH, I’m happy to be home with this giant cat. Also, she had NFL Sunday Ticket, so she’ll be just fine.

Plus, she and Chris kept ganging up on me and teasing me. Uncool. In their defense, I’m really easy to make fun of because I take it so seriously. But this morning, I had had enough.

I flicked my hand dismissively at Chris’ plate. “Eat your glass.”

Hilarity ensued.

Richmond Visit, part 2

Well, Kristin apparently didn’t care that we visited because she was gone again today.

Okay, that’s a lie. We knew she wouldn’t be free (volunteering training because she’s one of those people who tries to make the world a better place), but we have so few free weekends, we kind of had to stick with this one. Chris and I were once again left to our own devices.

We got up earlier today (and scared the crap out of Kristin when she walked out of her room and unexpectedly saw two lesbians on her couch) and made our way to find breakfast. But the glorious place we wanted to try was closed for vacation.

I don’t care if “Lincoln” filmed here! I just want some breakfast!

We made our way to Demolition Coffee, and they were out of sausage gravy. By this point, Chris is very sad. But their coffee was delicious, and we had a nice time.

Two thumbs up for my breakfast burrito.

Then we wandered around Petersburg until we couldn’t take the heat anymore, so around four minutes. Not really. We saw more of Old Town with our hot, hot coffees.

Taking a break at the courthouse, like we do.

Afterwards, we drove to a place I found on Roadside Attractions, which was a house made of old tombstones.

Bricks are for pansies.

It wasn’t a place you could tour, much to my surprise. I think it was a private residence. Can you imagine? “Which is yours again?” “Oh, the one made out of Union soldiers’ tombstones.”


When Kristin came home, we went into the city and got a tour of where she works splicing genes together to create a superior race (or something equally important — Whatever). Then we took a walk around the canals. We saw some nice water, fun bridges (but nothing compared to Pittsburgh), interesting artwork, and 37 gallons of sweat drip to the pavement because it was so hot.




We picked up dinner, had some wine, and watched “The Notebook.” You know, like the ladies do.

A fleeting moment of happiness before Ryan Gosling ruins it all.

It’s back to Pittsburgh tomorrow. It will be nice to see Graham (and everyone else) but not looking forward to reality. Having a great visit and have possibly lost up to 10 pounds through sweating.

(That last part is unconfirmed.)

Richmond Visit, part 1

I mean, we are only halfway into the trip, so I assume there will be more parts.

Thursday morning Chris and I left Pittsburgh and headed south to Virginia to visit one of my friends from college. We lived across the hall from each other for a semester, had a class together (that we seldom attended because the teacher was so confusing, and I ended up having my dad teach me calculus), and were in the same sorority. (Yes. A sorority. Don’t laugh.)

Over the years, we kept in touch and saw each other sporadically, much less often than we should have. But she came to my birthday celebration this year and then to a show…and then up and moved to Virginia like a loser because she is super smart and has an important job and stuff. But…Virginia.

WTF is this crap?!

Google Maps decided we should take the scenic route, and we did part of the drive on Route 40. It was pretty and interesting and very lucky that I drove, since I get carsick.

Take me home, country roads…

We stopped at an Arby’s that literally had the most disgusting bathroom I’ve ever seen. I wrote a Yelp review about it. It looked like someone had a poop explosion, realized it, threw up because it was so gross, then simply walked out without cleaning anything up.

Please enjoy this super-cute kitten that’s available for adoption at Petco in Bethel Park. Allow its adorableness to soothe you.

We finally made it to Kristin’s apartment and had a delicious dinner. She and Chris made fun of me because I felt tipsy after one beer. Whatever. I’m a lightweight. Which should be biologically impossible because of girth, but whatever.

She was supposed to have today off but ended up having to work because she has some type of important job, so Chris and I were left to our own devices. We walked around her town for a bit but then had to stop because it was approximately 126 degrees with 300% humidity. I may have to butter up my hands to get my rings off.

We had a delicious German lunch, saw some cool old stuff, and I took a picture to set up Sunday’s Dick LeBeau Facebook post. Yes, it takes that much preparation.

Kristin finished saving children from fires (or whatever she does) and we had dinner at a local brewery. Food and beer were spectacular.

OMG, we are so attractive. We have aged well. All that clean living.

We have another full day tomorrow and half of Sunday left. It’s been very relaxing (sleeping in!), hilarious (lots of “do you remember when…”), sweet (why didn’t we hang out more in Pittsburgh? She’s lovely), and bittersweet (it’s nice to talk to someone who knows what it’s like to lose a parent and know the same struggles you have, but it also sucks because it means they’ve lost a parent).

We have both had some not-so-great times, and it’s very heartwarming to see us now because we are both so happy. I wish I could time-travel back and tell our past selves about this part, because it does get better.

For instance, I had this cider, and it was great. Also, I wore this cool shirt.

Additionally, I’m marrying this lady.

Tune in tomorrow for more adventures!

Weekend Aftermath

I had a feeling it was going to be a good weekend, and I was right!

First, lunch and kayaking. Lunch was super yummy, and I didn’t end up in the water at the beginning, middle, or end of the kayaking adventure.

Chris, me, Chris’ cousin Amanda, and Amy. We were a pretty good time. They only made fun of me a little for being terrified!

I didn’t have to crawl out of my kayak, but I did cause the kid pulling me up on the launch to fall over when he pulled my boat. Sorry about my girth, kid, but I’m pretty sure bigger people than me have been in these boats.

If you look closely at that picture of me, it looks like I’m not wearing a shirt. Topless kayaking is frowned upon at North Park, but I guess I’m just a rebel.

Chris didn’t take many pictures (and I left my phone with her mom) because of nervousness of dropping in the lake. So we made a quick stop at REI for some waterproof phone pouches for next time…which theoretically could be this weekend. Or for our beach trip in a few weeks.

Then we took Amanda home and decided to just hang out until family dinner at Bubba’s. I let a two-year-old dump water on my head. It was actually rather refreshing. And now we are best friends. Well…more like she doesn’t cry when she sees me. A win!

Sunday was our wedding tasting! Yeah! Chris got a dress to wear and looked very pretty.

The Hyde ladies. Photography by yours truly.

The food was all spectacular, and we ended up choosing some things we weren’t expecting. We were reminded of how awesome the event planner, Brad, was. And our mothers and brother/sister got to see the place. It was a great time all around.

Color coordinating like a boss…es.

Next on the itinerary was a small cookout at our place.

Master chefs!

It was no Parmesan-crusted chicken, but it was pretty good.

Ice cream, Oreos, and homemade wine (complete with ghostly floating head).

Monday was lunch out and outlet shopping with Amy and Chris’ mom. We had a good time, like we usually do.

It was a busy weekend, and I feel like I need a vacation. Good thing we are leaving for a long weekend Thursday and I only have a two-day workweek. There were so many things that brought us to laughing tears this weekend that I can’t remember them all. Signs of a good time.

I’m super excited about wedding planning and am having trouble focusing on one thing. “What about favors? Who can we ask to make a toast? Should we have Advil in the hotel gift bags? What will our colors be? What if so-and-so doesn’t come? What if so-and-so does come?”

Thankfully, when I start to do that, this lady reels me back in.

Good weekend. Good life. I’m a
lucky gal.