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Wedding Planning During a Global Pandemic

This post started as a joke horror post in our blogger friend’s group chat, but I figured… why not? Not like I’m going anywhere during quarantine =P

As some of you may know, dear readers, my fiancé and I were planning on getting married in November of this year.

As almost all of you may know, we are in the middle of a global pandemic due to the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. This is an unprecedented situation, unlike anything any of us have ever seen or lived through before.

I’m here today to talk about trying to plan a wedding amid a global crisis and collective trauma. My apologies in advance if this post seems very rough, raw, or scattered – I am trying to write what I feel, without too much editing, and I am, admittedly, not feeling a lot of good things right now.

A month and a half ago, life was normal. I had taken 2 days off in the middle of a 14-day work marathon to attend doctor’s appointments, run errands, and work on the wedding. I met with our baker to finalize our cupcake designs and pay our balance. My bridesmaids and I were to meet the next weekend for a wedding craft day. I visited my mother and my grandparents. I was supposed to get a haircut to stand up in another wedding in April, but didn’t get around to it.

Then the world screeched to a halt.

What seemed like overnight, COVID-19 hit the United States. My workplaces closed. I worked my last shift at my public library job on Sunday, March 15th, and have been working from home for my full-time job since that same week, when our state’s stay-at-home order was enacted. My fiancé got laid off and has been looking for work. There is a possibility I may be furloughed at my full-time job over the summer. There has been a reported case of COVID-19 at the senior care complex where my grandparents live. One of my fiancé’s friends, who works in healthcare, actually got the virus (don’t worry, she is okay and expected to make a full recovery at home). The wedding I was supposed to stand up in in mid-April, for two of my dearest friends, was cancelled and has yet to be rescheduled.

On top of all this, we have our own wedding to be worried about. And oh boy, am I worried about it, as well as having a mix of other fun feelings.

I am angry, first and foremost. We have been engaged since September 2017 and set our date for November 2020 so we could save money to pay for it ourselves with little to no debt. I am angry that there is a possibility our wedding may be cancelled, over something as tiny as a virus. I am angry that all our hard work from the past 2.5 years will be rendered useless if it IS cancelled. I am angry at myself for half wanting to cancel my own wedding before that decision is forced for me. I’m angry and frustrated that what work I’m able to do from home is so draining that I have nothing left, no energy to write a grocery list in the evening, let alone work on my wedding.

Above all, I am angry for letting my wedding be the main source of my stress during a global pandemic, where thousands of people are getting very sick and dying. I feel incredibly stupid and selfish for it, and yet I can’t help it at the same time. I’m bankrolling half of my wedding. The thought of postponing or cancelling is a hard and bitter pill to swallow when you know how long and hard you worked to make it happen.

I am sad. I am sad that two of my best friends couldn’t get married the way they planned. I am sad that that could be us as well. I would do anything, ANYTHING, in my power to make it not be us. I am sad because we have had family deaths in the intervening years between our engagement and now, and the longer we wait, the better our chances of further family deaths (whether from the virus or other long illnesses). The better our chances that not all of our loved ones will be at our wedding.

I am scared. One of us is out of work, and there is a possibility both of us will be over the summer. If we are both unemployed for a long stretch of time, the wedding will be a financial extravagance that we will no longer be able to afford. We will need the money we have both so carefully saved over the years for the wedding to pay rent, bills, groceries – to survive. I am scared of all the unknowns that cloud the future, especially as far out as November, which feels about as far away as the moon. No one can predict exactly what is going to happen. Not knowing, not being able to make an executable plan, feeling trapped and paralyzed by all the unknowns and possibilities – that is the worst feeling of all.

Today, I have been trying to work, trying to put together learning materials for our new circulation system, but all that is in my head are numbers. Possible date the stay-at-home order will finally be lifted. Possible numbers of acceptable maximum gatherings by November. Possible numbers of event staff/vendors we will have to accommodate, as well as our guests. Possible guests to cut. Possible ways to phrase those notifications, those rescinding of the invitations for those unlucky friends and family, to minimize their anger and umbrage.

Endless possibilities make for endless torture.

The other night, our friend who is kindly building our wedding website for us, sent us an update. I burst into tears as soon as I saw the picture. Under normal circumstances, they would have been tears of ecstasy. Our friend is very talented and he understands our vision completely. His beautiful website is everything I wanted and envisioned, and more.

Under COVID-19 circumstances, I saw the picture, and my first thought was, “I hope we’re still able to have the wedding, so all of his hard work isn’t wasted.” What would have been tears of joy transformed into tears of dread.

All the tears I’ve been shedding over the wedding are of mourning the untarnished, pre-COVID-19 vision of our day. It was supposed to be one of the best days of our lives. Both of us, and our families, have been looking forward to this day for years. While we are trying to remain cautiously optimistic and carry on with planning as if everything was normal (so we don’t have to play catch-up if it does end up happening), there will now be a COVID-19 pall over the day no matter what we do. There will be less of our family and loved ones, whether they were lost to the virus or whether we had to make cuts to the guest list to meet some obscure, as yet unknown, maximum number of acceptable people gathering in one place. There will still be fear of the virus, getting it, spreading it unknowingly, even if a vaccine is available by then. There will perhaps still be a sense that we shouldn’t be gathering together. Maybe it is too soon.

The innocence of our original vision is gone. What’s in its place is now fear, uncertainty, and what feels like an increasingly futile hope. The hope that that we will still be able to have our day the way we originally wanted it, without the stain of COVID-19 over all.

I am not looking for sympathy, pity, or charity with this post. I am simply giving a voice to my feelings, in the hope that it may help other brides and grooms identify and process their feelings with their partners. In writing this post I was able to identify and articulate exactly why it is that I am so upset. It was incredibly cathartic. I hope that my words, inelegant and raw as they may be, help someone else to do the same.

Through all of this anxious uncertainty, there is at least a silver lining. One thing Fiancé and I are grateful for: we now live together. For the first nearly 6 years of our relationship, we were long distance. We are incredibly thankful that we are both under the same roof, quarantining together, instead of worrying apart and having all of this exacerbated by the miscommunications that distance can bring.

Thank you for listening. To any future brides and grooms in our readership – I sincerely hope you are able to have your day, even if it is not what you originally envisioned.

With all my love, and all my sincerest wishes to stay home, stay safe, and wash your hands,

Kathleen

Pokémon Helps My Anxiety

Nancy has had her turn raving about Pokémon, and I thought I’d chime in =P

I have a confession to make first: I was not really big into Pokémon when I was a kid.

Sure, I collected some cards, and got a GameBoy Advance and Leaf Green for Christmas one year, but after that… nothing. It was one of those things where I was into it mostly because all the other kids at school were. I never even finished Leaf Green. I was never able to beat the Elite 4. So it was part of my childhood, like every other ’90s kid, but it just didn’t stick.

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The first and only Pokemon game I owned as a wee lass.

Last year, when I started working and making big girl money, I got a new phone so I could play Pokémon Go. I loved it. I was very surprised when I kept loving it. Honestly, I figured I’d get bored of it and delete the app a few months later, if my childhood experience was anything to go by. But I still love it and play every day – I’m especially excited now, during the Halloween event. I love catching all the spooky Pokémon – especially the Houndours!!! (they are so cute and angry and I love them)

My fiance and I play PoGo all the time together. He’s a Pokémon nut, and was ecstatic when I wanted to play PoGo with him and started asking him more and more questions. He bought me a 3DS and Pokémon Moon last Christmas so we could keep playing Pokémon together even when it was too cold for PoGo. I remember opening my 3DS and installing Moon on it the same night he gave it to me. We lay together in the dark, on the air mattress we use when he stays with me at my mom’s house, and started another adventure together.

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My fiance bought both and wrapped them together (so he wouldn’t be tempted to start one) and let me choose first. I chose Moon ❤

This past winter, I went through a really hard time. My health (mental and physical), my work, my relationships (even that with my fiance) were deteriorating. Suffice it to say, it sucked. Big time. I felt fragile, exhausted all the time, and constantly on the verge of tears. I hadn’t felt anxiety that bad since grad school.

But I had something I didn’t have in grad school, and that was Pokémon.

I would come home from work every night, get in bed, and turn on my 3DS. Pokémon Moon has a feature called “Poke Refresh” where you can feed your Pokémon Berries, groom them, and pet them. I would spend an hour or two before falling asleep leveling up my Pokémon and taking care of them in Refresh. It probably sounds stupid, but petting my lil buddies, feeding them, and watching the little hearts appear above their heads, made me feel better. Like, if I couldn’t take care of myself, might as well take care of some cute virtual creatures, right?

It made me feel like I was doing something good. That I had done something good that day, no matter how small.

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LOOKIT THE LIL VULPIX SHE GIVES KISSES D,X ❤ 

My 3DS was sitting on the floor next to my bed for a while, because I started having eye issues on top of everything else. My eyes just got too tired after staring at the computer all day for work to play Pokémon every night. Gradually, though, things got better, and I got better. The entire time I had been playing PoGo regularly, and my fiance has made it a habit to send me plushies of my favorites, so it wasn’t like I wasn’t totally without Pokémon.

Things are starting to suck again. After all the time and money I sunk into my degree, I’m starting to question my career choice. Winter is coming and that’s always a hard time for me, especially the holidays. My fiance and I have decided on a date that’s years out, but thinking about all the wedding details has overwhelmed me more times than I’d care to admit in the bare month and a half we’ve been engaged.

Knowing just how to cheer me up, my beautiful, wonderful, darling finance sent me a new Bombshells figurine and a Nintendo e-shop gift card for Sweetest Day this past weekend.

What did I spend it on? Pokémon Silver.

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Going back to (almost) the beginning.

Though I only played Leaf Green as a kid, I love Silver so far because it takes me back to that time when I was young. I am enthralled by Pokémon technology and how close it is to our own today. Those guys predicted the future, I’m telling ya. Everyone in the Pokémon universe is so nice and friendly, and I talk to every NPC I come across… and anyone who knows me in real life knows I never talk to anyone if I can’t help it.

And, of course, I’m catching new lil buddies. I can’t pet them like I can in Moon, but it helps.

It helps.

– Kathleen

My trip!

I’m back from Amsterdam, and holy COW was it amazing.

We landed at 6:30 AM local time, which actually killed us but we got to ride the train into the city as the sun was coming up. Beautiful. We wandered around and got lunch to kill time until we could check into the hotel and pass out!

The concert was PHENOMENAL. Easily the best show I’ve ever gone to. I bought a new compact camera before the trip that was supposed to be good for low-light photos, and I was not at all disappointed. It held up through 2.5 hours of continuous shooting and I got some amazing photos!!!

(I took almost 400 photos this is just a suuuuuuper small sample)

For the rest of our week there, we really just explored the city. We got lots of museums in, including the Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Rijks museums. Amsterdam is a small city, so from our hotel, we were pretty much able to walk anywhere we wanted. We only used public transport to go to the zoo and the airport. The weather was wonderful: high 50s or low 60s the whole time, and both rain and sun.

I didn’t want to be that girl who took pictures of all her food, but my word, the food was amazing. We ate at half a dozen tiny little cafes, not one of them the same. We sampled sushi, Dutch, Italian, Vietnamese, and even (after we got back to Amsterdam from the concert) European McDonald’s! XD The bread there is so much better than here, the ice cream was wonderful, but I did not care for the chocolate at all!!!

Easily the best vacation I’ve ever taken. For a whole week, I didn’t worry about work, or class, or even money that much. My boyfriend and I talked and laughed and explored together, which really strengthened our relationship. We definitely want to come back someday ❤

Kathleen

I’m off!

To Europe! For a week! With my boyfriend!

Months and months of planning have finally led up to this day… soon I’ll be boarding a plane to fly overseas for the first time in my life. I’m both incredibly excited and incredibly nervous I’ve forgotten to pack something.

Even though I’ve triple checked my bags.

I thought it’d be fun to tell you guys which books I’m bringing for the 8 hour flights!

  • Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien – it just seems fitting. I’m about to embark on a great journey, just like Frodo is.
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – A dense read like this is sure to keep me occupied for a while =P Plus, I’ve been feeling like it’s time for a reread.
  • The Naming by Alison Croggon – I feel like I need some comfort from my favorite book for it being my first time so far away from home.
  • Night Shift by Lilith Saintcrow – See last entry =P Plus, I need some of Jill’s ultimate badassery to bolster me.
  • Wizard and Glass by Stephen King – I just couldn’t stand the thought of waiting until I get back to continue the story!!!

Four out of the five are rereads. I feel like I need some familiarity and comfort as I take this big new step.

I am a homebody. Most of my life choices have been based on what is close to home, what is familiar. My university was 45 minutes from my house – far enough away for me to feel independent, but close enough to get back home whenever I needed. I still live with my mom now, a year and a half after I’ve been done with school – though this was more out of necessity than anything else, it’s still nice. When I do eventually move out, I’m not sure how far I’ll be willing to go.

I’m taking a huge step here. It’s terrifying, but I’m not going alone. My wonderful boyfriend will be with me, as well as all my friends who’ve embarked on their own journeys.

If they can do it, I can, too.

See you guys in a week ❤

Kathleen

The Concert of a Lifetime

I have some very exciting news for all of you!

I’m going to Europe next year!!! =D

My boyfriend and I are metalheads. (It’s really fun to tell people that in real life; they do a double take. I guess I don’t look like the kind of girl who would be a metalhead XD) There is a band we both like called Ayreon: it’s a project of Arjen Anthony Lucassen, who’s been composing and playing music for years. Arjen writes all the music and lyrics for the Ayreon albums, most of which are beautiful, multi-layered metal operas. He plays most of the instruments for the albums, and invites artists from other bands to sing the parts of different characters and as guest musicians. Because of the peculiar nature of his music, Ayreon concerts are not a thing.

Until now! Last week, Arjen announced the first ever Ayreon concert! And we were able to get tickets!! All three shows sold out within 48 hours, so we were very lucky to get them!!! The concert will take place in Tilburg in the Netherlands next September.

I’ve been dancing on clouds ever since we purchased the tickets. Going to Europe has always been a dream of mine, and now it’s finally happening! This concert may very well be a once in a lifetime experience, and we’re so happy that we’re going to be able to be there together ❤

I will, of course, be telling you guys all about it when the time comes =P Until then, have some of my favorite Ayreon songs!!! >:D

Counting down the days already! (288, if anyone was curious =P )

– Kathleen

Post-Graduation Blues and Successes

This post isn’t related to comic books or graphic novels, but I wanted to share my post-grad experience thus far with all of you. Maybe it will offer some hope, or guidance, or optimism. I hope so anyway.

I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science in May. Last month, I started two part time jobs at two separate libraries. I work in the adult reference department at both libraries. This entails answering patron’s research questions, helping them on the computer or with their personal devices, looking up items for them and placing holds, ordering materials for the library, developing programs (though I have not had to do this yet =P), and a whole lot more. For not one, but two libraries, with completely different policies, procedures, and demographic groups they cater to.

But you know what? I love it.

One of my libraries has a makerspace. I’ve been learning to 3D print by helping my boss print low-poly Pokemon! We’re planning to utilize them on our social media to promote different services the library offers. We also have sewing machines and a vinyl cutter, which I have not learned yet but can’t wait to! We’re planning a remodel to have an actual maker SPACE instead of it being in a closet, among other things =P And I will have my own desk in the new office that will be put in >:D

My other library has a community garden, complete with chickens! We have four baby chicks that have hatched. This library just finished a renovation within the last couple years, and the building still smells new. There are a lot of new employees here, young women like me, because of a string of retirees. A lot of fresh blood and new ideas going on here~

My bosses at both libraries have been great, making sure that my schedules work together. I have been tossed right out onto the desks because I worked circulation in my last job, and these two libraries are in the same system my old one was. I know the print and computer reservation systems at one library already, and the other is switching this month to those systems, so I really didn’t have to learn their current one =P One of my new bosses has been amazing with teaching me ordering procedures and practices on my off-desk time. I am already in charge of ordering the 700’s – the art section! My favorite!!! =D

I feel… amazing. Honestly. During grad school I went through so many periods where I wasn’t even sure I belonged in the program or even wanted to continue. During my job hunt, which stretched from January to July, hearing mostly nothing but radio silence, I became convinced I was unemployable. My mother was constantly asking why I wasn’t applying for full-time jobs, but here’s the truth: there aren’t a lot for this field. Some of my professors even told me that many librarians work two part-time jobs unless you’re a department head, director, or teacher: all jobs I wasn’t qualified for fresh out of school. Though my mom meant well, it put extra pressure on me, trying to live up to her expectations.

Graduation really didn’t bring any relief from the stress. I had to junk my car the literal week of, leaving me constantly having to borrow a car from a family member, which I feel guilty about. Relations at my last job soured, to the point where I hated to go to work every day. I tried to stay positive, telling myself I could make art and survive at my then-current job, though I knew in the back of my mind trying to pay my loans and bills on art is next to impossible. I avoided Facebook, too depressed to be anything but jealous of my friends who were getting engaged or married, buying houses or new cars, and backpacking through Europe. I isolated myself and made art to feel even the tiniest bit worthwhile. I ate junk food every day (comfort, I told myself, when it wasn’t a reward after an interview), didn’t work out (couldn’t afford running shoes), and felt generally like a worthless mess.

Ever since I got the first job offer, my confidence and self-esteem has returned. I finally feel like myself again, like the sun finally came out after a long winter. I initially wasn’t sure if I could do two jobs, but it’s much easier than I thought it would be. The only downside is, I have neglected my art ;-; Once I adjust to my new schedule, finding time shouldn’t be a problem. Money isn’t everything, but my income literally quadrupled, and I feel much more at peace knowing I’ll be able to pay my loans, bills, gas money, and still save for my future – all while having fun money left over to feed my Bombshells obsession >:D Financial security is a beautiful thing. My first purchases with my first paycheck were a new phone, new art supplies, and a pair of running shoes. I am dressing better (thanks, Goodwill), working out again, eating better, feel better – hell, I AM better. I am miles away from where I was mentally even three months ago.

All thanks to one phone call taken in the parking lot of the mall on a steamy July afternoon.

So, for all our younger readers struggling to see the light on this side of graduation, hang in there. You have been and will be put through hell, but you will survive. You will be stronger, but you are already stronger than you know. You are so much more than what your negative and anxious thoughts are screaming at you. You are employable, no matter what you believe. You absolutely do not have a deadline for finding a job, for getting engaged or married, or taking that vacation you’ve always wanted to. My boyfriend didn’t find a job until almost a year after he graduated, for example. Now that we’re both out of school and employed, we can sit down and talk about the next steps of our relationship without pressure. Above all, you will find your own happiness, whatever it means to you. I know all of this sounds cheesy, and you might not believe it, but it’s true.

I didn’t believe any of it either, yet here I am.

– Kathleen

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