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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene—Bringing Out My Inner Bridezilla

In my last post about television, I conveniently forgot to mention one of my biggest guilty pleasures. And no, it has absolutely nothing to do with creative people putting their talents to the test. Bridezillas is a reality show on TLC that spotlights brides-to-be behaving badly. Very badly. Truly, some of the women on this show are a handful of the worst examples of humanity you could ever witness. Screaming at their mothers, bitching at their bridesmaids, and usually treating their fiances like something that crawled out from a crack in the pavement.
Many of them spend the week leading up to their wedding sporting oversized t-shirts airbrushed with the word Bride, and stand in front of the camera flailing their arms, yelling at their friends/moms/future husbands, "this is going to be my special day! This is the most important day of my life! You're going to be feeding me grapes while I'm getting my hair done! I hate you! Don't talk to me! It's my special day! Mine!!!"
Each episode leaves you wondering, why would anyone ever want to marry this woman? Sometimes their male counterparts actually threaten not to show up for the Big Day, and I'm always hoping they'll follow through. Shockingly, they never do.
Up until yesterday, part of my enjoyment of this show was how superior it made me feel. I am nothing like these people, I'd think smugly to myself. See how mellow I am? I'm getting married while I'm bald. My dress is from Banana Republic. I'm so down-to-earth. 
I'd always thought that I'd remain unfazed no matter what kind of complications arose surrounding the wedding. I wouldn't be the girl to flip out if I spilled wine on my dress, if the food ended up overcooked, if it rained a little and the reception got moved into the barn. The important thing, of course, is simply to stand and declare your love in front of friends and family.

Enter Hurricane Irene. 
So. My flight is scheduled to land in Hartford, Connecticut at half past midnight tomorrow, Monday the 29th. The wedding is September 3.
By Friday night (the 26th) I was freaking out that either a) my flight would be canceled or b) I'd get bumped from my flight so my seat could be given to someone else who had missed their flight over the weekend. I don't know where I got the idea that such a thing was even possible. I guess I was operating under the assumption that airlines are Never Fair, and reserve the right to screw you over at every opportunity. Apparently, this practice of "bumping" people was a complete figment of my imagination. Regardless, that's when the panic started setting in.
My anxiety was only worsened by the fact that the American Airlines website declared that flights canceled in the wake of Irene could take up until September 4th to be rescheduled. The wedding, as I mentioned, is September 3rd.

Annie suggested I get on the phone with the airline and plead my case. What human being wouldn't be sympathetic to my situation? I know everyone feels like they should be the first ones back in the sky once it's safe to fly, but really, I do have a pretty great story. I am a Cancer Bride. This is the only  week we can have the wedding because I have to be back in time for my Stem Cell Transplant. I have to be there three days before the wedding so we can get our Marriage License. This was not your average I-broke-my-nail Bridezilla meltdown. 
Friday night after dinner I steeled myself for the inevitable on-hold music, plugged in my phone, set it to speakerphone and called the airline. After 45 minutes, I finally got a live person on the line. Literally 45 seconds later, the call got dropped. I stared at my phone in stunned silence. Then I called back. About twenty minutes into that hold-session, my phone's battery icon beeped. Apparently it can't handle over an hour on speakerphone, even while plugged in. So I took it off speaker and held it up to my ear. After 45 more minutes passed, I had to pee. I unplugged the phone. It died immediately. 
By Saturday morning, Irene was moving up the coast of North Carolina, and I was moving closer to hysteria. By some magic twist of fate, when I called at 10 a.m. it only took me five minutes to get through. The woman was very kind and reassuring. No, they did not have a practice of "bumping" people. My flight hadn't been canceled yet. There was a good chance the it would not be canceled at all.

I relaxed a little, but was still apprehensive. In my mind, the hurricane had now become a cruel joke sent down from the heavens specifically to fuck with me and my wedding. After five long weeks, one of which was spent alone in the hospital receiving chemotherapy, the rest of which were mainly spent alone in my room with only the TV and my mom's dog for company, all I wanted to was see Annie. Enough was enough! Why did there have to be complications? I'd been so good, so patient. But this! This, it seemed, I could not handle.
Then, today (Sunday) things got even worse. Annie texted me intermittently throughout the day, reporting the damages as they progressed. Most of them were related to flooding. Her sister and nephews had to be evacuated from their home. Her aunt and cousin had to swim out of their house and climb to the top of a nearby hill. Her brother was stuck in his house, so high were the waters that surrounded it.
I'm ashamed to say that this last bit of news was the most disturbing to me, as her brother's yard is meant to be the site of both the wedding and the reception.
"Ben's yard can't flood!" I texted Annie, "we can't get married in a swamp!"
I know our wedding's not for another week, but who knows how long it takes for massive floodwaters to recede? For the lawn to fully dry? He lives right next to a creek, for crying out loud!
The few times I talked to Annie on the phone, she kept reminding me that the important thing was that everyone was safe and accounted for. 
"Safe?!" I shrieked at her through my tears, "did anybody really think people were going to die just because their basement flooded? I mean, it's all well and good that everyone's safe, but what about our wedding?! "

I had officially reached my Low Point. Annie had some stern words for me, words that I myself might have once used, had I not morphed into a big fat scaly lizard-tongued Bridezilla. And, of course, she was right.
I do respect the seriousness of this storm, the lives it has taken, and the damage it has caused. I realize that I am, as ever, blessed. I will make it to Massachusetts, probably right on time. We will still get married, even if it's not in the place we had planned. We will still stand up in front of our friends and family and declare our love for one another, and that's all that really matters. 
I can feel my claws retracting and my scales turning back into skin. Still, even though I have no airbrushed Bride t-shirt to wear, I plan to put on my sparkly silver Toms shoes on Monday and wear them every single day 'til the wedding. I don't care if they go with my clothes or not. It's my special week, do you hear me? Mine!!
The Bridezilla Herself, Test-Driving her Wedding Crown, Drawn-On Eyebrows and 
 False Eyelashes


  1. You look fantastic.
    Thankfully the tongue scales have receded.

  2. I love you so much! I'm planning my own wedding now (October) and it's reaching the point where I'm losing my zen too. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. It's beautiful on the Lake today. Just thought I'd throw that in. Last night I wasn't sure today would be so welcomed. Turned out all right !

  4. Kia, you are absolutely beautiful! I just found your blog yesterday and have been reading (and remembering). I had stage 4 lymphoma of the liver... which is what brought me to Esalen. Massages and baths to clear the toxins of the chemo... and eventually a 5 month stay- where I met you.
    I am so proud and thankful to you for being so honest and writing the truth of this journey. You are such a fantastic writer- I still have your emails of your travels after Esalen!
    You are one of a kind Kia!