Category Archives: Family

Arising Under

If I were telling the story of how I met Collin the way Ted Mosby would, I’d have to start with a little legal lesson on 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which grants jurisdiction to federal courts on all matters arising under federal law.

Back in December of 2007, § 1331 was the only part of my Legal Process outline that I’d completed. So when I met my friend Dennis to swap outlines one morning and he said, “I forgot I’m meeting with my study group, why don’t you join us?”, and they just happened to be discussing federal question jurisdiction, I obnoxiously stepped up to the chalkboard and started diagramming and explaining. I made about half of my best friends from law school that morning. And I made the connection that led me to the guy I will marry: I met Matt.

[Sidebar, I got a B- in Legal Process, which is tied with Ethics for my worst grade in law school. I studied extensively with Matt for both classes. Matt got an A in both classes. I think he won the award for best paper in Ethics, too. What. a. jerk!]

Just before Spring Break, when we handed in the briefs that marked the end of our first year legal writing class, Matt and I shared pre-noon shots with our study group. Later that afternoon I finally met his now-wife Carrie, whose first impression of me was that I was so drunk I passed out with a french fry in my mouth at around 3PM. If someone told her then this chick would be family one day, her head would have spun off her neck.

In our second round of finals in the Spring of our 1L year, I vented to the study group about some boy drama I was suffering from at the time. Matt found me in the hallway later for a private moment where he said, “Look, I know we don’t know each other well, and it’s probably not my place to say anything… but you deserve way better. Get out of this situation.”  This was when I started to think of Matt as a friend and not just the MVP of my study group.

So it was that by the end of my first year of law school, I felt comfortable calling Matt and Carrie my friends. We had some memorable hangouts that first summer. Carrie actually extended an invitation to Collin for the Flag Day party that I threw with my then-roommate Abby, but he was too engrossed with his studies to come. [Collin would later say, in a moment that definitely helped me fall in love with him, “She said you were fun and that I’d like you, but she failed to mention that you were also gorgeous.”]

Matt and Carrie even met my little brother John that summer. It was hilarious to me when John was in for Christmas one year and I tried to introduce them and Carrie was like, “Uh, I met John back when you were my friend instead of my brother’s girlfriend.” Oops.

Anyway, the last Saturday night before our second year of law school began I had plans to celebrate Carrie’s birthday. It was Collin’s birthday too, because they are twins, but it took me a long time to realize that. The rest is history.

So Matt and Carrie introduced me to the man I’m going to marry, and I owe them, gosh, more than I can really conceive of for that. But beside that, they’ve been wonderful friends to me, and they’ve enthusiastically welcomed me into their family. We’ve shared so many happy fun times, from goofy house parties to their wedding to trips to California to our regular “family dinners” on Sunday night.

The gang, on the night Collin and I got engaged.

Matt and Carrie moved back to St. Louis today. We spent our last “family dinner” (special Tuesday edition!) stuffing wedding invitations. I think we were all grateful to the task for distracting us from how hard it is to say goodbye. Our lives won’t be the same without Matt and Carrie just a few miles down the road. Pittsburgh won’t be the same without them. But as much as I will miss having them around all the time, I’m so comforted to know they are family and will always be in my life.


Task-Tackling Trip!

I’m going to St. Louis tomorrow for a few days of hard-core wedding to-do list shortening with my mother-in-law Viki. So get ready for some very special installations of HitchDied where we will discover…

WILL I be able to get a half-constructed wire jewelry bouquet through airport security?

WILL the good sense of my WASP-y father-in-law Tom win out over the embrace-the-wacky joie de vivre of my mother-in-law Viki re: use of the word “awesome” in our wedding invitations?

WILL Viki convince me to spend too much money on decor details because “Oh my God, Robin, can you IMAGINE? This is SO YOU.”

WILL my to-do list actually get any shorter, or will it mysteriously lengthen?

Stay tuned for the answers to these questions AND MORE! Same Hitch time, same Died channel.

Remembering Grammy

I’ve been staring at a blank post field for fifteen minutes.  My grandmother died yesterday.  And for once, I find myself at a loss for words.

I will say this:  losing family does not get any easier with practice.

Season’s Greetings!

Lizzie and Isaiah’s new site Love Your Way is awesome, and is host to a fabulous series on how couples spend the holidays: ChristmaHanaKwanzika.

Today you can read my contribution to the series: A Very HitchDied Christmas!


Happy Mother’s Day, Viki

One of the biggest perks to marrying Collin is his mother, Viki.  You may have seen her comment on this blog.  She’s the one who ends every sentence with exclamation points numbering in the double-digits.

[My hand to God, when I emailed Viki a photo of my engagement ring, she responded with an email with exactly four sentences and a total of 122 exclamation points.]

Viki is the happiest person in the world.  Or rather, the happiest person in the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don’t mean to tease.  I love how excited Viki is just to live every day.  I love how much joy she gets out of life.  This woman dyed a streak of turquoise into her hair to pay tribute to how creative God was in creating so many colors!  She says every snowflake is a miracle! She even finds bliss in appreciating bizarre insects like the stick bug.

And she spreads her happiness around.  I see her bring joy to her friends and to her family, to her pets, even to strangers.  I once saw her talk to a woman who had dialed the wrong number for twenty minutes, listening to this woman cry about a cancer diagnosis and offering support.

And she’s been so welcoming to me from the day I met her; totally embracing me into her wonderful family.  I spent Christmas at their house last year, and even though I insisted I didn’t need to celebrate on the holiday she woke up early, went out into her yard in the snow, found an evergreen tree, cut off a branch, and potted it.  She hung earrings as ornaments.  She even put a clip-on earring shaped like a star at the top.  And then she found some small tchotchkes around the house and wrapped them up as gifts.  All so I could have some presents waiting for me under a tree on Christmas morning:

So, Dear Viki:

I love you so much!  You are a wonderful woman, and I’m so glad you’ll be my family.  And (to repeat something three times for emphasis the way you often do) I thank you, thank you, thank you for raising someone as special and kind and fun and terrific as Collin. Happy Mother’s Day.

With profound respect and endless love,


My Family vs. His Family, Take Two

My last post failed to deal with how Collin interacts with my family. A regrettable oversight that will now be rectified!

[Warning: Some people don’t like when I  frankly discuss/make jokes about my parents being dead, because it is sad and/or it makes them feel awkward.  Those people should read another blog right now!  Maybe this one.]

Ok, now that the Delicate Daisies are distracted, let’s be real: Collin gets off easy on the whole in-laws front because my parents are dead.  Sure, he had to pass muster with my siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and Grammy.  But that’s child’s play compared to meeting parents, right? I mean, Ben Stiller didn’t star in a really unfunny movie called “Meet the Cousins,” right? (At least not yet.)

And my parents were, don’t get me wrong, totally awesome, but also kind of bizarre in ways that would make being their son-in-law a challenge.

For example, they taught me the very firm rule to call your elders “Mr. Whatever” or “Ms. Suchandsuch.”  I’m still getting used to calling Collin’s parents by their first names, despite regular casual communication.

Collin likes to joke that he would have called my dad (Brian) and my mom (Marty), “B-Money” and “M-Dawg.”

He says he would have asked for their permission for my hand in marriage by saying, “Yo, B-Money, M-Dawg.  I wanna hit that even when we’re old.  You dig?”

I can imagine how this would have played out.

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My Family vs. His Family

My sister’s husband just called.  I don’t even have his number saved in my phone, but I recognized the area code, so I answered.  My heart started to beat really fast because I assumed someone had died, otherwise I wouldn’t be getting a phone call from a random Seattle number on a Friday night.  [I have anxiety. And a history of sudden family deaths.]

But when I heard Pablo’s voice, he sounded totally casual, so I relaxed.  But I was kind of confused why he was calling me.  The last (and ONLY PREVIOUS) time we had a phone call was when I drunk dialed him on the last day of my first year of law school,1 to win a bet with my friend Matt2 over the proper way to shoot La Bandera.3 So… almost exactly two years ago.

“Hey, Pablo… what’s up?” That was the politest way I could come up with to say, “why are you calling me?”

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The Wedding Budget Stork

After reading this wonderful post on Another Damn Wedding, and re-reading the posts linked to within, I started to think about where wedding budgets come from.

Some couples must choose their budget because it is what they have to spend.  Some couples  choose their budget because it is necessary to accommodate certain necessities, like inviting everyone in a large family, or adhering to parents’ standards for decorum.  And some couples are fortunate enough to set their budget as what they feel like spending.

Collin and I are, more or less, in the last category.   This makes us privileged, and I don’t mean to whine about our enviable position. But I do think having a flexible budget makes what Lyn says about the attached meanings we give to money resonate even more deeply:

Money, to each and every one of us, is not just straight numbers. Money is class. Money is opportunity. Money is worth. And so we involuntarily assign an ethical value to our budgets. Whether we like it or not, we assign an emotional value to what we’re spending for our weddings.

I feel even more mixed-up about the relatively unconstrained choice I am making about how much to spend on our wedding because I am not spending money I have earned.  The money I have set aside for our wedding is from my parents’ estate.  We also have support from Collin’s very generous and wonderful family.

If my parents were alive today, I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking them for this money.  We would probably wait to have a wedding until after I’ve worked for a few years.  It feels completely insane to be spending big bucks on a wedding when I don’t have a job lined up for after graduation.  But I do have the money to spend.  I am making the choice to spend it, and I need to own that choice.

I could spend every cent in my bank account on my wedding and it wouldn’t buy me something as valuable as dancing with my dad at the reception.  I hope I don’t attempt to find a replacement for my dead parents’ love in the perfect centerpieces or a designer gown. 

But having lost my parents is part of the reason I want a wedding.  I want all the family and friends that are still with us to be there when Collin and I become a new family.  I want to “celebrate life,” as they say at funerals, but this time before it is over.  That experience is worth a huge amount of money to me, and I have the privilege to spend it.

So, yeah.  The values we assign to the money we spend?  Loaded, loaded, loaded.

Movie Review: Rachel Getting Married

I wish I had watched this one later, because it would have been even more refreshing.  Rachel Getting Married is not so much a wedding movie as it is a movie in which a wedding happens.  And the wedding actually happens, which distinguishes it from all the other movies I’ve thus far reviewed.

Anne Hathaway stars in both this and Bride Wars, suggesting she chooses scripts with an angel and a devil sitting on her shoulders.  The difference between watching the weddings that appear in Bride Wars and the wedding that appears in Rachel Getting Married is like the difference between watching a season of Platinum Weddings [disclaimer: I have never actually seen that show] and browsing through the Wedding Graduates on A Practical Wedding [newly relaunched, yay!].

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