Sunday, May 17, 2015


The script (not verbatim) of the toast I gave my brother and his fiancee on the eve of his wedding.

May it not be a rehearsal, lambie.

Andrew is three years younger and six inches taller, so he's no longer my little brother. But now that he has a little salt in the pepper of his hair, people often assume I'm younger. I allow this.

When we were in high school, we went shopping with our mom. My mother overheard a couple of girls talking about how cute Andrew was. One said, "Ugh. And that girl he was with! How did she get a guy like him?"

Now we're all wondering how Andrew got a girl like Sandra.

I'm told that life with a sibling started with much difficulty. I wanted to send him back when he got home. Like a dress, he didn't fit very well, and so we needed to just take him back to the hospital. But as we grew up, I gained a playmate, a partner in crime, a fellow adventurer. Sometimes, the adventures went too far. Once, I was giving him an upside down piggy back ride and dropped him on his head, giving him a rug burn down the side of his face. I pushed him off a pier and into a bed of barnacles, requiring four stitches in his foot. I convinced him that the Gulf of Mexico was safe to swim in, even though we could see a school of sting rays, and of course he got stung.

But through it all,  he never stopped wanting to be my friend. We always got along. He is loyal and forgiving and easygoing. I practiced using a curling iron on him. I practiced cooking on him. I practiced a too-short-lived stint as a Disney princess on him.

But so many things in life are practice. Love. Grief. Forgiveness. These things don't have to be perfect. Close enough counts in a multitude of ways, including hand grenades, which my brother once dug up in the backyard.

Andrew is especially good at rolling with the unexpected. The lessons from our childhood prepared us to be good practitioners of love, of partnerships, and of loyalty. I've practiced all of these things with my brother and learned more from him than any other person.

I am incredibly grateful that he as found such an amazing woman for a lifelong partnership. They are a great fit for each other, and I can't wait to watch all their practice become perfect.

Saturday, May 2, 2015


When I was a little girl, this song came on the radio, and my mother said it was the saddest love song that ever existed.

I mostly agree with her ("both hands" is a pretty damn sad love song), and I also empathize strongly with these lyrics; Elton John was producing music well before blogs or social media. I nearly always ask for permission or forgiveness any time I talk about how wonderful life is, whether with my beau or a friend or a colleague.


I hope you don't mind
(I hope you don't mind)
That I put down into words
How wonderful life is
While you're in the world.


One of my favorite friends from college (who is still one of my favorite friends) is commemorating his tenth anniversary with his husband. They’re celebrating horizontally: room service, white sand, good books, and delicious-looking cocktails.

He posted on Facebook: “Ten. Years. The places we've been, things we've survived, all the beauty and the ache of the last 3,650 days: I'd take nothing in return.”

My baby brother is getting married next weekend. So Nathan’s at 10, and Andrew is about to be at 0… and I have a toast to prepare.

10 years ago, there hadn't been a Katrina yet. We weren't text messaging in the United States. I had only loved one man enough to want to marry him, I had only been a bridesmaid twice, and none of my friends were divorced.

10 years, though. I've watched nearly everyone I know build or unbuild or rebuild families. I've moved to a different time zone, lived with two men I've loved enough to marry, and learned how to say no.

I don't know what I'm going to say in my toast. My rehearsal dinner speeches have always been toasts to “faith, hope, and love,” using clever quips like “hope that one of you learns to cook” and “faith that one day, all of your combined student loans are paid off.”

The amazing woman my brother is marrying is close to what my age was 10 years ago, and I can’t wait to see how their life unfolds. It's going to be full of laughter (her quips are far more clever than mine, probably because she's a redhead) and delicious-looking cocktails. I’m sure there will be grief and struggles: you can’t be happy with yourself 100% of the time, so you can’t expect to be happy with someone else 100% of the time.

I’m sure there will be adventure (and the inevitable woes my brother’s travel luck brings) and disagreements over whose turn it is to take out the yet-unacquired-but-also-inevitable pet dog. I’m sure there will be disappointment and setbacks… the kids call them “opportunities” these days, but that’s a more difficult brand of optimism than you’ll want when you’d rather feel numb. Sometimes, this means having a partner who understands you need quiet, alone, distance; sometimes, it means having a partner who will hold you.

If you chose well, these attributes exist in the same partner.

To faith: may you find it in yourself so that you can have faith in others.
To hope: may it always shine brightly in your heart.
To love: may you always be good at it.

Congratulations to everyone who is on the journey, whether it’s 0 or 10 or 37 (my parents) or 66 (my grandparents) years. May you wish to take nothing in return.