Read and Resist: Tranny by Laura Jane Grace

Welcome to Read and Resist, a blog series where I review books that amplify marginalized voices and address social justice issues. This includes fiction and non-fiction books (especially #OwnVoices), so if you have any suggestions, please let me know!

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If you find the title “Tranny” a little shocking, you aren’t alone. Like any good LGBTQIA+ ally, I balked when the cover popped up on my Goodreads feed. Tranny? Really? I mean, come on. It’s 2018.

Eventually, I succumbed to my curiosity and clicked on the title. After reading the description, I realized that Laura Jane Grace is, in fact, trans. Well. That certainly changed things. My self-righteousness was knocked down a few pegs, and I purchased the audiobook a few weeks later.

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Laura Jane Grace (previously known as Tom Gabel) is the lead singer of the punk band Against Me!. I had heard about Against Me! as a teenager–back when I had wistfully lusted after Warped Tour tickets–but I didn’t know much about their music, let alone that the lead singer was trans. Although she came out publicly in 2012 during a Rolling Stone interview, her book was released in 2016.

In true punk rock fashion, Laura Jane Grace holds nothing back in her memoir. In the first chapter, she recalls watching MTV and wearing her mother’s stockings in order to look and feel like Madonna. Of course, this was all hidden from her parents; even as a four-year-old, she knew her fantasy had to be kept secret. As a teen, she turned to drugs and alcohol to keep the gender dysphoria at bay. When she discovered anarchy and punk rock, she was inspired to start Against Me!.

At this point of Laura’s story, many chapters are taken from her journals. She recounts her first tours with Against Me!, her first marriage, and her struggle with addiction. Even as a punk musician on the road, she took every opportunity to express her femininity and research gender confirmation surgery. Laura’s second marriage and the birth of her daughter drove her to stop completely. It worked for a little while–but Laura soon realized that she couldn’t continue living as a man.

While Tranny focuses on Laura’s entire journey, rather than her current life as a trans woman, it is an incredibly important story that we all need to hear. She is brutally honest about everything–not just the struggles that come with being trans–and there were several passages that made me uncomfortable. I mean, how could I not be? Laura was a punk rock anarchist who has been arrested. She yelled at her pharmacist the first time she picked up her hormones (in Laura’s defense, the pharmacist was being an asshole). She had her first drink and first high before I had even thought about consuming alcohol. She prayed to God to turn her into a woman, and when that didn’t work, she prayed to Satan. Much of her story is heartbreaking, and that heartbreak only confirms what I’ve believed for a while now: trans and gender non-conforming people need safe spaces to express their identities. 

Listening to Tranny made my commutes much less rage-inducing, and I felt like I had a friend with me during those long morning drives.  My only complaint is that much of the book revolves around the music business–which I didn’t necessarily dislike, but it isn’t what kept me interested in Laura’s story. I gave Tranny four out of five stars, and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for diverse books.

I also recommend listening to “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” and “True Trans Soul Rebel”. Both songs can be found on the album Transgender Dysphoria Blues by Against Me!, and both are total bangers.

If punk isn’t exactly your thing (hi, Dad!), I’ve included the lyrics at the end of this post (content warning: both songs contain strong language, as well references to self-harm and gender dysphoria.). I also loved watching Laura’s web series, True Trans. As a cisgender woman, I will never completely understand Laura’s experience–but her work has opened my heart and mind in so many ways. I can only hope we continue to follow the light she shines in the darkness.

“Transgender Dysphoria Blues”

Your tells are so obvious,
Shoulders too broad for a girl.
It keeps you reminded,
Helps you remember where you come from.
You want them to notice,The ragged ends of your summer dress.
You want them to see you
Like they see every other girl.
They just see a faggot.
They’ll hold their breath not to catch the sick.

Rough surf on the coast,
I wish I could’ve spent the whole day alone
Rough surf on the coast,
I wish I could’ve spent the whole day alone
Rough surf on the coast,
I wish I could’ve spent the whole day alone
With you.
With you.

You’ve got no cunt in your strut.
You’ve got no hips to shake.
And you know it’s obvious,
But we can’t choose how we’re made.

You want them to notice,
The ragged ends of your summer dress.
You want them to see you
Like they see every other girl.
They just see a faggot.
They’ll hold their breath not to catch the sick.

Rough surf on the coast
I wish I could’ve spent the whole day alone
Rough surf on the coast
I wish I could’ve spent the whole day alone
Rough surf on the coast
I wish I could’ve spent the whole day alone
With you.
With you.

You want them to notice,
The ragged ends of your summer dress.
You want them to see you
Like they see every other girl.
They just see a faggot.
They’ll hold their breath not to catch the sick.

Rough surf on the coast
I wish I could’ve spent the whole day alone
Rough surf on the coast
I wish I could’ve spent the whole day alone
Rough surf on the coast
I wish I could’ve spent the whole day alone
With you.
With you.

With you.

“True Trans Soul Rebel”

All dressed up and nowhere to go
Walking the streets all alone
Another night to wish you could forget
Making yourself up as you go along

Who’s gonna take you home tonight?
Who’s gonna take you home?
Who’s gonna take you home tonight?
Who’s gonna take you home?
Does god bless your transsexual heart?
True Trans Soul Rebel

Yet to be born, you’re already dead
You sleep with a gun beside you in bed
You follow it through to the obvious end
Slit your veins wide open
You bleed it out

Who’s gonna take you home tonight?
Who’s gonna take you home?
Who’s gonna take you home tonight?
Who’s gonna take you home?
Does god bless your transsexual heart?
True Trans Soul Rebel

You should’ve been a mother
You should’ve been a wife
You should’ve been gone from here years ago
You should be living a different life

Who’s gonna take you home tonight?
Who’s gonna take you home?
Who’s gonna take you home tonight?
Who’s gonna take you home?
Who’s gonna take you home tonight?
Who’s gonna take you home?
Does god bless your transsexual heart?
True Trans Soul Rebel
True Trans Soul Rebel!

 

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Thoughts and Prayers

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I was a freshman in high school when I first considered the possibility of a school shooting.

Someone had made an off-handed remark about shooting his classmates. Regardless of his intention–a failed attempt at dark humor, or maybe deeply-rooted cynicism– it was received as it should have been: seriously, and as a threat to our safety. That week, rumors spread throughout the school like wildfire: it would happen on Friday. He had a list. A few people were on his ‘safe list.’ We analyzed his personality and behavior. We asked ourselves if we were surprised.

Our principal composed a letter that we, in turn, gave to our parents. It stated the nature of the threat, the rumors, and how the faculty members were responding. I don’t remember the specifics, but I remember what it boiled down to: we would be safe.

Even so, many of us debated if we would come to school that Friday. That Thursday night, I pored over my Bible and texted my friends about how scared I was. I didn’t know what to do.

I’m not sure how or why I decided to attend school the next day, but I did. I wrote a Bible verse on my hand, because it gave me courage. My friend Lindsey wore a Superman shirt, simultaneously a cheeky response to the rumors and a middle finger to danger. Many of my classmates did not come to school. I didn’t blame them. There was fear and tension in the air that did not disappear until the last bell rang.

And thankfully, we were safe.

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I was twenty-three when I was told one of my cousins had been injured in a shooting. It was the sort of moment where everything stops. Nothing felt real–because we spend years watching the news and hearing these stories over and over again and it’s a distant problem, one defined by distant sadness and stilted sympathy, and then it happens to someone you love.

I stayed home from work. At the time, I was living with my friends Rose and Christina, as well as my older cousin, Chris. Our cousin Alyssa lived nearby. She came over. None of us wanted to be alone. We ordered pizza, because pizza fixes everything. Or at least, it used to.

There were many mass shootings before these horrible days in my life. And there have been many mass shootings after.

Columbine.

Sandy Hook.

Orlando.

Las Vegas.

Parkland.

So many, in fact, that I know this does not even begin to cover it. I cannot name or remember them all, and that horrifies me. Is this what we consider normal? Massacres that we cannot recall? Yet another news story that states that a shooting was the deadliest in our nation’s history?

To put it simply: I’m tired.

We should not have to live like this. High school students especially should not have to live like this. They should be shopping for prom dresses and dreaming about college–not organizing marches and calling our leaders out on their bullshit. And the victims deserve a hell of a lot more than our government’s thoughts and prayers.

You may not agree with me about gun reform. I can accept that. I’ll accept that begrudgingly, but that’s a rant for another day–and quite frankly, you can Google all the data that has led me to my current convictions. At the end of the day, violence is a multi-faceted problem and it requires a multi-faceted solution.

I only have ideas about what gun reform should entail, but I do know that thoughts and prayers are not enough. I don’t think they are meaningless–I pray every single day because I a) I am a Christian, and prayer is an integral part of my faith, and b) I believe it changes my heart, which in turn changes the world around me.

But faith without works is dead. And until we actively respond to this violence, we are worshiping an abstract, absent god instead of the God we claim to serve: the God of divine Love who is made manifest in Her people.  

Jesus prayed. He prayed a lot, actually.

And then he did something.

What are we going to do?

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First and foremost, we need to speak out.

Everytown has started a campaign called Throw Them Out, encouraging constituents to tell Congress that they support common sense gun laws. Remember: our government represents us–not the NRA. My personal hero Glennon Doyle explains more in this video:

 

Consider attending a protest in your area. The Women’s March is organizing a walkout on March 14; another is scheduled for April 20, the nineteenth anniversary of the Columbine shooting. On March 24, there’s March For Our Lives, a protest in Washington DC (and other cities across the US) to demand gun reform legislation.

We also need to respond with an outpouring of love. Support the people who have been affected by this most recent shooting; they have a long road ahead of them. Write a letter to students. Donate to the victims and their families. Give your loved ones an extra hug.

Have open conversations. Destigmatize therapy and mental illness. Hold our government accountable.

This issue is not a gun issue OR a mental health issue. It is AND/ BOTH. Which is why I am a mental health advocate AND a gun reform advocate. It’s also about toxic masculinity. It’s also about media glorification of killers. It’s ALSO about guns. Instead of arguing- Pick one and get to work. It’s gonna take all of us.

Glennon Doyle 

It will not be easy.

But we can do this.

Let’s make history.

Reclaiming Valentine’s Day

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For someone who proudly claims to love love, I am incredibly cynical about Valentine’s Day.

Once upon a time, it was a holiday of innocent, childish glee. Every year, I trekked the aisles of Target, searching for the perfect Valentine’s Day cards. Spongebob or Disney princesses? Puppies or zoo animals? Chocolates or lollipops?

Then, I labored over my “mailbox,” decorating an old shoe box in pink and red and nauseatingly delightful hearts. On Valentine’s Day, school had a special kind of thrill: we were having a party. We wandered around the classroom, dropping Valentines into the festive mailboxes and snacking on our chocolate. I would practically skip home from the bus stop, ready to guzzle down more chocolate and watch Valentine specials on TV. Back then, Valentine’s Day was as special as Halloween is to me now–and those who know me well are fully aware that Halloween is pretty damn special.

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These happy Valentine’s Day traditions died in middle school and high school. My excitement also fizzled out, because I had no boyfriend or romantic life to speak of. As I endured the day at school, my heart hurt in the way that only a teenage girl’s heart can: I was aching to be seen. Preferably by a cute boy waiting at my locker to hand me flowers and a teddy bear. I mean, really. Was that too much to ask? Everyone else had a cute boy and flowers and teddy bears.

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Of course, not everyone in high school had a boyfriend. But this is how I felt as angsty teenager who had yet to experience her first date, or first kiss, or first anything.

A few years down the road, I was dating someone during Valentine’s Day…and to my surprise, I still hated it. I hated how we felt like we had to do something special, just because it was February 14th. I hated the Kay’s Jewelry commercials (more than usual, anyway). I hated how a day about celebrating love seemed to be limited to romantic love. Most of all, I hated how the holiday made so many single people feel miserable.

(To be clear, I know that many people don’t care about Valentine’s Day at all. I also know that any holiday–even Halloween–has the potential to make people miserable. But the spirit of teenage angst doesn’t die so easily when you’re a hyper-sensitive/empath/people-pleaser.)

Fortunately, it’s 2018, and the way we celebrate is changing. Here are some of my favorite ways to reclaim Valentine’s Day:

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Practice self-love. 

We tend to think that once we learn how to love ourselves, we’re set for life; in reality, it’s an ongoing journey. So why not use Valentine’s Day to acknowledge how wonderful you are? Write yourself a love letter. Take a bubble bath. Do yoga and marvel at all the amazing things your body can do. Take hundreds of selfies. Buy yourself a gift. Do that thing you have always wanted to do. However you celebrate, remember the wise words of RuPaul: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”

Celebrate friendship with Galentine’s Day! 

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Out of all the wonderful things the show Parks and Recreation has given us, I think Galentine’s Day is my absolute favorite. In typical Leslie Knope fashion, she invented her own holiday: Galentine’s Day, which is all about celebrating and having fun with your lady friends. The options are limitless–as long as you are having a girls’ day/night out, you’re doing it right. Even Hallmark celebrates Galentine’s Day!

Create your own traditions. 

If you still want to celebrate, do it on your own terms. On our first Valentine’s Day, Drew and I built the dopest blanket fort in the history of blanket forts. Last year, we opted to skip the Valentine’s Day date and watched Last Week Tonight with our BFF/roommate Kate instead. Drew and I still aren’t sure how we want to celebrate this year, but we know we like keeping it low-key. Don’t let the pretty pink hearts and jewelry commercials tell you what do.

Join the revolution.

Justice is what love looks like in public, so stand with your sisters and fight against violence towards women (whether they are cis, trans, or gender non-conforming). Organize or participate in a local V-Day. Adopt love as an ethic and join the Revolutionary Love Project, where your voice can be a force for social good. Love is more than romance, after all.

We believe it’s time to reclaim love as a public ethic. Love has been captured by greeting cards and pop songs as personal and romantic — too fickle and sentimental to be a revolutionary force. But the greatest social reformers in history grounded entire movements in the ethic of love.

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I also asked my fellow cynics on Facebook and Twitter how they chose to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and I think they had some pretty solid suggestions:

“Candy. That is all.” -Samantha

“I just ignore it. Till the day after when chocolate is on sale.” -Kathi

“Self care and buying myself flowers and chocolate covered strawberries.” -Alyssa

“When I was single, I would ignore it. This is my first ever Valentines Day in a relationship, and it’s not a huge deal to me but I’m still excited to celebrate. We will keep it low key…exchanging small gifts and for dinner, order pizza & eat it in the candlelight. Friday night, we will go out to dinner (it’s what works best with our schedule) and go see Black Panther.” –Mary Ann

“By Valentine’s Day, do you mean pitchers and catchers report day?!?” -Lindsey

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However you choose to celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! ❤ May we spread love wherever we go, no matter the time of year.

Read and Resist: Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

Welcome to Read and Resist, a blog series where I review books that amplify marginalized voices and address social justice issues. This includes fiction and non-fiction books (especially #OwnVoices), so if you have any suggestions, please let me know! 

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Between how outraged I always am with the patriarchy and how our nation is in the midst of important conversations regarding sexual assault, Moxie could not have found me at a better time.

I’ll admit it: I judged the book by its cover. How could I not? The library had it proudly displayed with other new young adult novels, and in case you don’t know, I am all about  badass ladies. And hot pink.

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Vivian, the book’s protaganist, was especially relatable to me because she is seen as someone who abides by the rules. I always feel like marching into a temple and flipping over some tables, but at the end of the day, I reallyreally hate getting into trouble. Similarly, when Vivian sparks the feminist revolution at her high school, no one suspects it was her–and she constantly wonders what her mother, grandparents, and friends will think when they find out.

The revolution begins after a boy in Vivian’s class quips that a girl should make him a sandwich. Considering that every girl I know has heard this “joke” a bazillion times (and guess what, everyone? It’s never funny), I immediately believed in Vivian’s small-town Texas high school. After a few similar incidents, Vivian takes inspiration from the Riot Grrl movement of the ’90s and anonymously distributes a zine to her classmates. She calls it Moxie, and invites fellow Moxie Girls to fight back.

One of the most wonderful things about Moxie is how it addresses intersectional feminism and internalized misogyny. In one of my favorite scenes, Vivian and her friends are discussing a Hot-Or-Not-type system created by the boys in their school. The winners, Vivian realizes, are always the same type of girl: skinny and blonde. When her African-American friend points out that they’re always white, too, Vivian admits that she has never noticed. “Well, no offense,” her friend replies, “But you wouldn’t have, because you’re white.”

 

Vivian’s mother also admits to not including black and brown women during her days as a Riot Grrl. The scenes are honest and poignant, and Vivian is able to acknowledge her privilege in a way many of us are not.

In terms of internalized misogyny, Moxie recognizes that some girls are hesitant to identify as a feminist. In Vivian’s case, her best friend thinks the word ‘feminist’ is too strong and the feminist movement is too radical. Her boyfriend, too, has trouble understanding some of Vivian’s views. It’s an especially heart-wrenching look at how we love those who do not share our own convictions. As Vivian’s mom so wisely puts it, we all grow up hearing the same bullshit.

And Vivian has her fair share of bullshit to deal with. Later on in the novel, she becomes friends with a cheerleader–a cheerleader who she used to judge and do her best to ignore. I did my fair share of cheerleader-bashing throughout middle school and high school, and this aspect of the novel made me want to hug every girl I once needlessly despised.

Reading about the Moxie Girls is a beautiful experience. Instead of tearing each other down, they lift each other up. It’s the feminist community I dream about. They start to break barriers built by race, sexual orientation, and high school hierarchies. When shit gets real and the girls start to fear suspension and expulsion, they fiercely protect one another. In every page, Moxie reminds you of the power that every girl has inside her.

“It occurs to me that this is what it means to be a feminist. Not a humanist or an equalist or whatever. But a feminist. It’s not a bad word. After today it might be my favorite word. Because really all it is is girls supporting each other and wanting to be treated like human beings in a world that’s always finding ways to tell them they’re not.”

Fortunately, Moxie Girls exist outside of the realm of fiction. Moxie Girls Fight Back! is the book’s official Tumblr, and the blog includes feminist resources and even a mix tape!

Needless to say, Moxie gets all the stars. Five out of five, I guess, if you’re making me follow these arbitrary book review rules. I still don’t like getting into trouble. But Moxie there are more important things–namely, taking part in the revolution.

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How do my fellow Moxie Girls fight back? What feminist books are you loving right now? Let me know in the comments or contact me through Goodreads or Twitter

ring in the new year

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Photo by Tessa Rampersad on Unsplash

We made it.

We actually made it through 2017.

I don’t need to remind you that 2017 was an exhausting year, right?

Even on a personal level, a lot happened–I mean, I got married, which is a pretty big deal.

But in the wake of extreme political turmoil and anxiety, the Internet has decided that 2018 is about LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE. Or, as my friend Chris put it, “SPICY BUSINESS, 2018.”

Take that as you will, but for me, spicy business is all about living your best and most adventurous life.  I’ve already gotten a new tattoo; yesterday, my friend and I took a yoga class at a local cat shelter. If that’s not spicy business, I don’t know what is.

 

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Usually, I’m extremely skeptical about New Year’s resolutions. The reasons vary: I hate how we act as though we can only set goals on the first of the year; I resent the fact that most resolutions fizzle out by the end of the month; and I tend to think that New Year’s Eve is an overrated holiday.

But there was something about 2017 that made me reflect on the past, as well as the wonderful things to come. Here’s what’s on the horizon for 2018:

A new home.

Drew and I are planning to stay in Atlanta, but we have been toying with the idea of our future home for a while now. While I do love our current house–it is full of so many memories and so much laughter–Drew owned it before we even started dating. This year, we hope to move into a home that we choose together.

And maybe I’ll get my Beauty and the Beast-esque library.

Adventures with people I love.

Drew and I had an adventure-themed wedding because we think our marriage is an adventure…but we also want to see the world together. We’ve been talking about visiting Iceland for AGES, and today, we booked a flight for August.

We’re also planning to join our friends in New York, so Drew will finally be able to experience one of my favorite cities!

Later this year, my mom and I are planning to spend a weekend in Asheville, and I still need to visit Xan in Chicago. It’s turning out to be a busy year, but how could it not be?! There are so many places to see! (#SPICYBUSINESS!)

A regular yoga practice.

Exercise and I have never had the best relationship. I hate running and most forms of cardio; gyms make me self-conscious at best and anxious at worst; and, to be perfectly honest, there are just other things I would rather do. Binge watching Netflix is just more fun, okay? LET ME LIVE.

Enter yoga. My first introduction to yoga was during a high school P.E. class, and since then, it’s been a constant in my life. An irregular constant, but a constant nonetheless–whether it was on our Wii Fit or a YouTube video, yoga has always appealed to me.

Because of this irregularity, I know that my body functions much, much better when I take time to move and stretch. When I start complaining about back and neck pain, Drew suggests that I start doing yoga again. And he’s always right.

But yoga is a spiritual practice–it rejects the idea that the body is inferior to the spirit. I often need to remind myself of the connection between my physical body and my spirituality; after all, I believe that God created our bodies and wants us to take care of them (not to mention that bodies are especially significant to Christian theology). Where better to practice this than on the mat?

Writing.

There are times when writing feels as natural as breathing: I get inspired and knock out a poem or a blog post in record time.

But lately, writing has been more like swimming. I’m racing against the clock, pushing through the deepest waters, and my lungs are screaming for a chance to exhale.

I’m afraid to fail. I’m afraid of sounding less eloquent and poetic than I’d like and I’m afraid whatever novel I pursue will die with the five thousand other stories that are rotting in the graveyard of my hard drive.

So, I make things easier on myself.

I leave everything undone.

I know that this is not a good reaction to fear. It isn’t good for anything, except making myself feel worse as the year goes by.

This year, I want to remind myself that writing is not only my passion, but it’s also a process. It’s often a slow process. But that’s okay, because I never want stories to end, anyway.

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

-Shannon Hale

What else?

Less burnout. More tattoos. More magic. More books. More light. More love.

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Happy New Year, sweet friends. I hope and pray that it’s one of the best. ❤

Newlyweds, Part II: Honeymoon Adventure!

To read about our wedding ceremony, read Part I here

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It is no secret that I love all things Disney. But when I added ‘Disney World’ to our list of honeymoon options, I didn’t think it would actually happen. Fortunately, Drew loves theme parks and roller coasters as much as I do, so he agreed to go to Disney World as long as we could go to Universal Studios, too.

Obviously, if your fiancé suggests adding another theme park to your trip, you can’t say NO. Like, pull my arm, why don’t you?

Our wedding took place on a Saturday night, and we left for Orlando Sunday morning. I think if we had a chance to do it all over, we’d wait a day or so–traveling right after wedding festivities is pretty exhausting. At that point, I was powered by pure excitement…BECAUSE WE WERE ABOUT TO RIDE THE MAGICAL EXPRESS, Y’ALL.

And it is nothing short of magical: once you get to the Orlando Airport, you follow signs for Disney’s Magical Express. After you check in, a bus will take you to your Disney resort! No worrying about getting a Lyft or renting a car. They’ll even pick up your luggage and deliver it to your room (although if you are a paranoid control freak like I am, I suggest grabbing your luggage anyway).

As strange as it sounds, I think the hotel was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I’d been wanting to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge for AGES, and our honeymoon was the perfect excuse to book a room. I loved it from the moment we walked in. The concierge complimented my nails, and when I oh-so-casually thanked her and told her I had to get fancy nails for our wedding, she handed us ‘Happily Ever After’ buttons to wear. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Our room overlooked the ‘savanna,’ so we spent a lot of time searching for animals. I usually want to do as much as I can when I’m on vacation, but staying in isn’t so bad when you can see giraffes and zebras from your window.

The next morning, we had breakfast at Boma before heading to the parks. Our plan was to spend half day of the day at Magic Kingdom before making it to Animal Kingdom for our first FastPass ride. Here’s what actually happened: we got distracted by watching the animals from our room,  so we only had enough time for a quick walk down Main Street …but we were able to buy our bride and groom mouse ears! SECOND MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Then, it was off to Animal Kingdom!

Since Animal Kingdom focuses on–well–animals, it’s more about attractions and animals than rides. The rides they do have, however, are totally worth it. Dinosaur scares the bejeezus out of me, but it’s still my favorite.

Drew’s favorite part: “Going to the Rainforest Cafe to have beer and French fries. It was fun to chill and just live our best beer life.”

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He also met a new friend!

The next day, we celebrated Halloween by visiting Hollywood Studios. It was the perfect day with just the perfect amount of spookiness. To get into the Halloween spirit, I wore my Hocus Pocus shirt and traded in my bride mouse ears for Halloween mouse ears (don’t worry–I still wore my button!). Drew didn’t wear anything special because he hates happiness, but he took this selfie with me.

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He’s such a good sport.

After lunch at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, we headed for my favorite ride of all time: The Tower of Terror.

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YOU CAN CHECK IN, BUT YOU CAN’T CHECK OUT. Just kidding. We were fine.

Drew’s favorite part: “Tower of Terror. Partly because the ride was really fun, and partly because of your excitement.”

At Magic Kingdom, WE GOT TO CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN AGAIN! We were lucky enough to snag tickets for the last day of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it–kids and adults are allowed to wear costumes, and the Sanderson sisters put a spell on the entire party. Later on, there’s a parade and fireworks. Since we’re an #oldmarriedcouple now, we left after the parade…but we made up for it later by watching Stranger Things. Party hard.

Drew’s favorite part: “Buzz Lightyear!” [as in Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. We rode it four times.]

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We spent our last day at Disney World at Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. I’m a sucker for Halloween festivities and Halloween, but our Epcot day might be one of my favorites of the whole trip. We went back to wearing our bride and groom mouse ears, and practically everyone we saw congratulated us. One elderly man told us to never go to bed angry, and then handed us a two-dollar bill. “As long as you have each other, you’re never broke,” he said.

Oh, and it should go without saying, but the food, wine, and beer was delicious. Epcot gets ALL the points.

Drew’s favorite part: “The Chinese restaurant. I got those pot stickers.”

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Now, I’m a bit of a Disney snob, so I wasn’t expecting Portofino Bay, our Universal Studios resort, to be nearly as amazing as Animal Kingdom Lodge. I was wrong. We may not have been see African wildlife from our balcony, but look at that view!

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We had two whole days to spend at Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios. Not surprisingly, my favorite part of both parks was The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I was able to visit Hogwarts a few years ago, but this was my first time visiting Diagon Alley and riding the Hogwarts Express.

I only freaked out a little. And by that I mean a lot.

One of the best parts about Universal is the Express Pass. If you are staying at a Universal Studios resort, you automatically get an Express Pass; you can also use it an unlimited number of times. So, obviously, we rode everything at least twice.

Except Dudley Do-Right. That ride shows NO MERCY.

Drew’s favorite part: “Hmm. Seeing how excited you were about Diagon Alley. You were so pumped. And also how we figured out the secret to the Men In Black ride!”

Y’all. We SLAYED the Men In Black ride. If you know the secret, we’ll have to go to Orlando together and discuss some serious strategy (to be honest, I’ll probably tell you the secret in person, but this ups the intrigue a bit and makes me feel really cool.).

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At the risk of sounding cliché, I completely understand why Disney and Universal are highly popular honeymoon destinations. The week went by way too quickly, but it was the perfect way to celebrate our marriage. I’m already itching to go back–do you think I can convince Drew to go again for a milestone anniversary?

Just kidding. I’m just happy that he’s the one I get to celebrate with.

Here’s to happily ever after, Drew. I lava you. ❤️

Newlyweds, Part I: Celebration!

Last February, Drew and I decided to take advantage of our long weekend and take a trip to Nashville. It’s a relatively short drive from Atlanta, after all–why not? We had so many adventures planned: coffee shops, live music, a day at the library…little did I know that our weekend getaway would become a pivotal moment in our lives.

I was oblivious, of course. We were snuggled up in our AirBnb room, watching How I Met Your Mother and laughing at the gang’s latest hijinks. I was reaching for the remote when Drew told me to wait.

And I saw he had a tiny box.

And then he said he hoped I would go on another adventure with him.

And then he asked if I would marry him.

I think you know what happens next.

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I guess he's stuck with me. 🙃

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We settled on an October 2017 wedding date. It felt pretty ambitious, since I’m REALLY UNORGANIZED and I hate planing things, but it was perfect. We didn’t extend our my stress for a year (or more) and our venue was extremely helpful throughout the planning process. Plus, October is my favorite month, so our anniversary just gives us another reason to celebrate!

Our family and friends were especially phenomenal. For instance: Xan was my maid of honor and helped create our save-the-dates; Drew’s groomsman Chris designed our invitations; Erin made cookies for our wedding guests; and my cousin/BFF/basically sister/bridesmaid Alyssa did my makeup on the wedding day.

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Everyone in the wedding party also reminded me that I needed to eat and gave me lots of bread and peanut butter. Also, it’s also very hard to eat while people are doing your hair and makeup.

Our parents handled a lot of things we probably wouldn’t have given much thought to otherwise. My mom bought wedding favors and helped create centerpieces (my grandma also provided the books we used; the day of the wedding, our friends Anica and Cathi helped assemble everything!), She also convinced me that the bridesmaids and I should have bouquets…which was an A++ decision, because I found an amazing Etsy shop and the flowers were GORGEOUS.

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LOOK AT HOW CUTE MY MOM AND MY AUNT KRYSTAL ARE. JUST LOOK.

My dad found our transportation vendor, and on the wedding day, he picked up the desserts from the bakery. Drew’s mom planned the entire rehearsal dinner, came with me to every wedding dress fitting, and scheduled my hair styling trial. My aunt and my grandpa created our photo booth backdrop, and everyone helped assemble the props while Drew and I were on our flight. Meanwhile, our flower girl and ring bearers just kept being freakin’ adorable.

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Courtesy of my aunt Kathi–if you need a good photographer, visit her page!

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Our wedding day was an absolute blast. The girls and I got ready while drinking champagne (thanks, Heather!) and hate-watching Fifty Shades Darker (they found it on TV while I was in the shower).

While I highly doubt our luck would have been compromised if Drew and I had seen each other before the wedding, we opted to avoid one another until our first look photos. We’re still waiting for the photos to come in, but Erin snapped this awesome picture of me hiding from Drew.

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Drew said he thought I’d have a poofy, Cinderella-esque dress. I SURE SHOWED HIM.

The ceremony itself was everything we could have hoped for. My brother walked with my grandma and my mom down the aisle; Drew walked with his mom, while my dad walked me down the aisle. Xan’s father was our officiant, and my friend Christina, one of my favorite people in the whole world, did our ceremony reading.

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So basically, I was crying happy tears within five seconds of the ceremony starting. I was crying and sniffling even harder when we read our vows to one another. And I had a microphone, so I may or may not have mixed feelings about seeing our wedding video.

After we were pronounced Mr. and Mrs. Turner, we each grabbed a drink from the bar (priorities) and got ready for more photos (there are always photos that need to be taken at weddings). Then, it was time for dinner, more drinks, and dancing–the best part, other than actually getting married, of course.

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One of my favorite moments was when Chris asked the DJ to play “I’ll Make a Man Out of You.”

AND THE DJ ACTUALLY PLAYED IT.

If I have any advice for brides-to-be, it’s to play that song, because if you do all the millennials will sing and dance along dramatically. And if you don’t, your wedding will be a FAILURE.

Just kidding. But it was really, really, fun.

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Some of the wedding gals. #turningturner

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It was all so fun, in fact, that it ended way too soon.

Weddings are strange. You spend months and months planning this big, beautiful thing, and then it goes by in a big, beautiful blur. Some things did not go as planned–it’s just how weddings are–but that’s okay. We were celebrating love, and love is big and beautiful on its own.

The next day, we headed to Orlando for our honeymoon! Stay tuned for the second part of this post, where I’ll tell you all about our Disney and Universal adventures. Spoiler alert: it was amazing and I want to go back ASAP.

Until next time, my loves!