Category Archives: In-Laws

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.

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Circus

Last week was busy. How busy? Collin’s parents were in town. My aunt was in town. Five of Collin’s high school/college friends were in town and staying at our place on various evenings. My future brother-in-law graduated from law school. Bridal Hootenanny member Liz had a birthday. I had my first wedding dress fitting since I bought it back in October. We had to get the invitations for our wedding ready to mail. Collin ran in the Pittsburgh marathon. All that, and a circus. [That’s not a metaphor.]

I was tired all the time and hit my emotional limit at least once every day. I popped my anxiety pills like breath mints and got too drunk on Friday night. I had random crying jags. I snapped at Collin a bunch of times. I looked like shit. I developed an ugly rash on my arm (I think its the same kind of
atomic eczema I had after the bar exam). I slept fitfully even though I pretty much collapsed into bed each night.

I don’t want to feel that way the week of my wedding.

But it will be very much the same kind of week: many people in town, a full calendar chock-a-block with social obligations, a lengthy list of tasks to be accomplished, and emotional energy running high.

I need to develop a strategy to deal with these pressures with more aplomb than I did this week. And I’m too tired and worn down at this point to develop it properly. I know I need to get as much done ahead of time as possible. I know I need to get more comfortable delegating responsibilities and being assertive about my needs. And I know I need to schedule downtime during wedding week. But even with these strategies I feel less than confident I’ll have the wherewithal to withstand wedding week.

So, marrieds: how did you hold up during your wedding week and do you have any crucial tips for me? People I know in real life: Will you slap me in the face if I need to snap out of it during wedding week? (Without leaving a mark that might show in photos?) Everyone else: what strategies do you rely upon in stressful crunch times?

The Full Picture

Recognize anything in that photo? Yep, it’s the feet from the HitchDied header image.  Those are the feet of one Hitch and Died, dancing about in the Pacific Ocean. Now you’ve seen the full picture.

The photo was taken last January, when we were visiting Collin’s older brother and sister-in-law in Long Beach with the rest of his family. We had, at this point, decided we were going to get married. Collin’s entire family knew that he was going to propose. They knew that I knew, too. But we didn’t really talk about it, as though it were still a surprise. This sometimes got awkward, like when Drarrie (Drunk Carrie) gave me a speech about how excited she is to have me become my sister-in-law, and how important sisters-in-law are to her because she only has biological brothers, eventually remembering to add, “I mean, IF you and Collin end up getting married.”

On the plane out to California, Collin apologized that he didn’t have a ring yet, because he knew it would be nice to become officially engaged when we were on vacation and with his family.  “I’m not just saying this to psych you out so you’ll be surprised when I pop out a ring. I really don’t have the ring yet.” (I’m glad he said that, because I thought that was what was happening.)  I asked him if he would be ok with us “announcing” the engagement to his family (even though they already knew) while we were in California, and he said he was. I had him draw a ring around my finger with a highlighter. At dinner that night Collin said something like, “Even though everyone at this table already knows about this, while we are all together I want to celebrate that Robin and I are going to get married.”

[Me and Carrie: “We’re gonna be sisters!!!!”]

The photo I used to make the HitchDied header was taken the next day, somewhere in Orange County where we met up with Collin’s cousin and his wife.  Viki told us to try to keep it from them or “EVERYONE will know” (Sorry, Steven and Anna!).  While Collin and I ran around in the ocean making kissy faces and otherwise being cute, Steven took pictures of it with my camera, and Anna said, “These look like engagement photos!”

And in my head, they kind of are. Even though we weren’t “really” engaged yet. Even though we had a proper engagement shoot later.  When I want to think about the giddy bliss of first being engaged (before all the stressful, complicated reality of wedding planning butted in on the fun) I look at these photos from California. Which is why I used one for the header of my blog.

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Enablers

I’m going to come clean on a major wedding privilege I have…

Have you ever heard people talk about “Anthropologie weddings?”  I think it is when you aspire to the “estate sale minus the dust and musky odors” aesthetic of an Anthropologie store in creating the look of your wedding. It is probably a very expensive undertaking and likely results in a lot of worrying about trends:  Bird motif is too played out!  What about turtles?  Snails?  Yes: mustard Yellow Snails on lilac and smoke gingham. (I’m not so far off).

I would never have thought of Anthropologie stores as a source of wedding inspiration, at least not for my wedding, even after the blogs got to me.  I’m just not that crafty! Or that chic.

But… here’s my big secret:  Collin’s twin sister Carrie worked at Anthropologie as an art designer.  She set up those coffee filter clouds and those antique bathtubs full of rice and mismatched china and so on and so forth for at least a year before moving on to her current apprenticeship with a woodworker.  If I really wanted an Anthro wedding, I would have an insider on my team.

And Collin’s mom is an artist too.  So last night after the three of us enjoyed a little wine we started talking about my kooky no-flowers scheme, and bouquet alternatives.  Viki and Carrie got BIG IDEAS about making bouquets out of wire and scrap metal and wire mesh.  I’ve seen wire bouquets on Etsy and they’re always a few hundred bucks, just like  regular bouquets.  But my ARTIST in-laws are all, “Oh, we’ve got a scrap guy.  We can do something really fun and unique and oh my gosh I’m so excited!”

And the thing is, I am excited too!  Metal bouquets!  LOVE!  But I also have this sinking feeling that this is way above my pay grade, and how much can I convert DIY into DIFMIL (“Do it for me, in-laws”) without asking too much of them?

Plus, once I go down the path of caring about details, is there no turning back?  Will I be goccoing invites?  (I don’t even know what goccoing is, except for that you have to find the machine to do it on eBay.)   Will I embroider the chargers for our place settings?  Will I cobble my own wedding shoes?  Where does it end?

(Deep breath.) Hopefully it ends exactly where I stop actually caring, which will coincide neatly with what I have the time and money to care about, as well as with the skill sets possessed by me and my family and friends.  That’s the dream.

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,

Robin

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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