Last night Kamel and I spent over 2 hours at our Pre-Cana group classes with two other couples and the moderating couple. I was exhausted, had a massive migraine, and fell asleep for an hour before we had to go. When I woke up 10 min before we had to leave I was dragging. My face pink on one side from my nap, and my head still pounding. No good.

This explains why I’m lax on today’s blog. I’ll keep in mind for future classes that wednesday needs to be pre-planned and pre-prepped because I ran out of steam and didn’t get home until after 10pm. The bummer is I have so many posts in my drafts just bursting with good stuff, and yet, no time to finish them. C’est La Vie.

So today… I thought it would be fun, and hopefully entertaining for you, if I opened up the comments to questions. Would you like to know about pre-cana? How Kamel told the story about how he compared me to a pig in front of a group of strangers, remember that? Would you like to more any other details I left out of any other stories or any endings of stories I’ve left hanging? Here is your chance. I’ll respond to every comment! And I’ll answer (almost) anything, so voyers get your fingers ready! (Yes, can of worms, opened.)

Ready? Go!

53 thoughts on “Q&A”

  1. Oh God oh God oh God, so many choices! I want to ask you … no wait, this other question … um, no this one … I … I … I …


    Way to go, Lauren.

    1. My fear is no one will play along and this is stupid, and I am a giant loser who tells horrible stories that no one is interested in.

      See? I told you I would respond to everyone. πŸ™‚

  2. Here’s one:

    Were you afraid that the classes were really just a test to see if you and Kamel were right for each other? And if you said/did the wrong thing they would be like, “oh you two should definitely not get married!”

    I have that fear sometimes. There is a marriage researcher who says he can predict what couple will stay together within 10 mins of meeting them. What?! Seriously?

    Ultimately I trust myself, but STILL.

    1. Wow I think that researcher is insane because 1) Peopel act differently in public than they do in private and 2) kamel annoys me and fidgets like a 5 year old, but I adore him and will never let him escape me (ahem).

      And I feel there is a bit of nervousness every time we head out to one of these things (meet the deacon, meet the church guy, meet the group, lalala), BUT! i have never ever come across anyone who was trying to see if we would last. They all want to open up a dalogue and get us talking about certain issues that come up in married life. As much as I worried in the beginning that they WOULD be judging and we were there to win their approval to continue with the wedding, I realize now that’s totally not the case. Not even a little.

      1. I’ve read that researcher as well. he picks a fight between the couple and watches how they fight…if they blame each other non-stop or scream or use ultimatums or whatnot…he says no. but how much of that is self-fulfilling prophesy style where the couple hears they won’t stay together and then FREAKS out and fights over that, you know?

        my question: how did you like your graduate writing program? i know it’s not related…but i’m looking into graduate programs for creative writing now..any suggestions?

        1. oh man, you just hit a wealth of opinion you may not be ready for. READY?!

          Here’s the deal. You need to know what you want out of grad school before you apply to the schools.

          Would you like the option to teach? Apply to schools that have a TA program. Apply to schools that PAY you and cover at least a portion of your tuition for your TA genius.

          Don’t give a shit about teaching? Just want to go to a program that will allow you to focus on writing and give you one on one time with amazing writers who know their shit? Look for programs with writers you KNOW. If you say in your essay that the reason you want to go to ____ school is because you are inspired by ____ writer (helps especially if they aren’t super super famous) that is an amazing in. Also, it’s just nice to have insight from people who actually read and admire.

          Grad school in general is a fabulous way to become a better writer. It is NOT a fabulous way to secure employment. Do you think that graduate school will open up a section of jobs for writers? It doesn’t. At all. I grudated in 2009 and here I still am, temping and busting my ass to try and create a career out of scraps.

          Full on benefits of getting an MFA and being a writer:
          -There is no ceiling to what you can accomplish. There is no way to be promoted only to a certain point. The sky is the limit with us, we can write a million novels or make movies, or teach, or do all of that all at the same time. It’s possible
          -Grad school creates connections and builds a group of writer friends who totally get you on a level that no one in the entire world (not even your husband, BF, best friends) will get you. Because no one understands writers like other writers.
          -The MFA gives you space to write. And edit. And write more. And here critique. I wrote a whole book in grad school, start to finish, and now that I’m out, it’s difficult for me to finish even three awesome short stories in 2 years. (also because of a lot of transitions on my part, but you get the idea, grad school is a special place of productivity and you’ll never experience it anywhere else).

          Ok, that is a long answer. If you need anymore insight on particular school in general and particular programs you can email me at betterinrealife@gmail.com πŸ™‚

          1. I know I’m not Lauren, but as someone who met Lauren through the MFA, I have plenty of opinions about this as well.

            They are pretty much the same as Lauren’s. But in addition I would add: don’t let the internet make you crazy. There are a hundred anxiety-inducing MFA blogs and a thousand articles and blog posts on the internet discussing whether or not MFAs are needed or good or relevant or helpful and… ugh. It can be overwhelming. So remember that when it gets to be application season.

            Also: find your writer people. An MFA is a really great way to do that, but even if you don’t decide not to go that route, find local writing groups or apply to conferences or go to the internet. But Lauren’s right. Those people will make a big difference in your life, will make you feel a little less crazy and are awesome.

  3. ok I was totally going to be “funny” and ask a silly question about the color of your undies or something, but I couldn’t stop worrying about how horribly creepy it sounded.

    but I have a sort of serious question. what happened to the chap book idea? you mentioned it recently as having fallen a bit behind, I’m interested in a status update!

    1. Underwear = old navy mesh bikini brief thingies in bright pink with flowers. weee!!

      And my chap book. Yes. What happened was I scrapped a story that was almost completely finished and started all over again. So I’ve been writing and finishing up a third story to add to the mix. But soon! My goal is before the wedding. Before the wedding. It’s a mantra. I’m a little low on time right now, juggling several jobs, so that’s the other issue. womp.

      1. thanks! hopefully it’s not stressing you too much, you don’t need more things stressing you. but I’m excited for whenever it’s ready to go! πŸ™‚

        and just so you don’t feel weird being the only one with your undies hanging out: mine are bright pink with yellow stars! and kind of meshy at the top! from victoria’s secret.

        1. I really struggle with making enough time to write and juggling sleeping and eating and spending time with Kamel. Because I’m not getting paid to do it, it always gets pushed aside for the things with deadlines. Which I HATE. But I’m hoping, hoping, hoping, that next week I will have some money news (teaser) that will turn things around… but that is still unclear so we’re crossing our fingers over here. womp.

    1. 5 that I would bring to watch on an island?? ELF! Wall-E, Independence Day, Pan’s Labrynth, and Pride and Prejudice BBC! (does that count?)

      What are yours?

      1. ooh I’m jumping on this fun train! zp and I were just talking about this (we were watching the re-run of the office episode about this!)

        – Dr. Strangelove
        – Wall-E (!)
        – Bridget Jones Diary
        – Austin Powers Goldmember
        – Bad Boys (the first one obviouslyyyyy)

      2. 1- Yay, Kamel and I could have a Heavy-handed Visual Symbolism movie marathon.
        2- My question was a direct reference to The Office.
        3- Noooo I forgot Empire Records!!! I take off Pleasantville and add that one. Damn the man, save the Empire!

  4. Hmmm, as someone in the midst of Pre-Cana, I’m trying to think of a good question. I’ll keep thinking but, in the meantime: please more stories! The ones you tell are marvelous and funny!

    1. Yay! thank you. πŸ™‚

      Here is a story for you: Last night at Pre-Cana, Kamel and I both were not feeling so hot. We both TOTALLY NEEDED to um… pass gas? the ENTIRE time. Like … uncomfortable, oh god, please don’t offer my snacks, tummy gurgling, horribleness. I knew it about him, and he knew it about me. And during our 1 on 1 time with each other when we broke off into couples we giggled about it because…. AHH! Meeting new people? In a stranger’s house?? Where there is a lot of quiet reflective time? THERE IS NO SPACE TO FART PRIVATELY. None. I felt like a commercial for Gas-X or something. Ridiculous.

      We did make it through the entire 2 hours without embarrassing ourselves, though, and then spent the entire drive home in the car with the windows down. Class-y.

  5. I hope your migraine has gone away. Those are never fun. Feel better! I am fascinated by Pre-Cana. I am new to this idea so pardon me if my questions seem silly. Is this something you personally would elect to do if you had a choice, or is this more mandated because of your parents/religion says so? Is it required in order to get married in your church? How do you personally feel about Pre-Cana? Is it something you look forward to or dread going to? Do you think it is helpful for marriages today? I do think it discusses some key things that some couples should talk about before marriage but don’t unless forced to. p.s. I like this idea of open forum! I might just adapt it for my own blog!

    1. oh yay! and yes, the migraine has dispersed. Thanks. πŸ™‚

      So… yes, the catholic church asks couples to do some sort of pre-cana (it comes in various forms) before they are allowed to get married in the church. If you had asked me 9 months ago if I wanted to do marriage prep I would have said no. (One more thing on my plate I DON’T THINK SO) but now that I’ve gone through a few stages, I VERY MUCH look forward to it and am so glad we’re doing it. It also (as a lovely side effect) makes the prospect of couples counseling in the future sound appealing instead of “oh my god we’re going to break up because we’re in counseling.” And I think it is totally helpfuly for marriages today. I think that whenever you, as a couple, get a chance to set aside time during your week to examine issues that are often glossed over do to LIFE happening, it’s a good thing. It opens up communication and also makes issues you thought were embarrassing or scary seem completely normal.

      we have never left any pre-cana meeting/forum fighting. Ever. It has never created hostility or embarrassment in our relationship (not saying that this isn’t a possiblity). For us the experience has made us feel more of a team. When you go into these meetings are viewed 100% as a couple, and I think that’s a unique experience that’s important before BECOMING that couple.


    I hope we’re allowed more than one question per person!

    1: How did you chose where to have your wedding? Is it hard to plan from SF?

    2: How has living with Kamel affected your relationship? Do you think it will matter in the grand scheme of life that you guys lived together before marriage (my mother/community have always instilled a HUGE black cloud around this…) How did your parents feel about it?

    3: What happened to teaching? Is that off the table?

    4: How are you feeling about the wedding planning? Still lonely?

    I guess, I probably could’ve just emailed you like I keep saying I will, but this was faster. πŸ™‚

    1. hells yeah more than one question. Ba-ring it.

      1) I have always wanted to get married in my highschool chapel. I showed Kamel, he loved the idea, bam. Planning from San Francisco is hard sometimes, because it limits how much DIY stuff I feel comfortable tackling and I have to cram wedding events into weekends I am in town (Like the upcoming tasting/shower/mother’s day/invite sending weekend? Um yeah. But it’s doable because two bridesmaids and my family is there.

      2) Living with Kamel has been great. It feels like we are building our home and family and establishing routines and boundaries before the pressure (I’m assuming there might be pressure at least from my head) of being newlywed falls down upon me. When I was growing up and when I was in college my parents were always against living together. My mom calls it “play house” but we were engaged before we lived together … which was also a rule I set for myself. So, they are totally fine with it. I never lived with a boyfriend before Kamel, and even then he was my fiance so we knew we were working toward a specific goal of …. FOREVER. ha.

      3) Teaching is not off the table forever, just for now. First I need to focus on being a writer. BUT next time you come, you need to march me up to the office at USF that signs you up for tutoring because I want on that so badly, but I am confused on where to go. πŸ™‚

      4) Wedding planning. There are lots of aspects of wedding planning. It’s always going to be a little lonely because yo uare THE BRIDE and no one else is the bride. The bridesmaids have each other and Kamel doesn’t have the same kind of pressure as I do. So yes, sometimes it is. Especailly because my best friends are not married yet so no one really GETS what it feels like to plan a wedding when it’s your own. But in general I wish the wedding was tomorrow. I’m over this engaged business, let’s get on with it already. Oh, and the other thing – I’m second guessing like a crazy person. Is my venue the right the choice? Was my dress (that’s an whole other story, I’m not overly thrilled about my dress)? Etc etc. So hopefully that will stop soon.

      ta da! Follow up questions? lay em on me.

      1. Look at you! Answered every one, and in just over 10 minutes!

        Follow ups:

        1: Have you been using DIY as a budgeting tip or because you like DIY and want the personal feel it supposedly brings to the wedding (or both?)?

        2: Hooray for the like minded.

        3: If you still know your school Id# I think you could probably sign up over the phone, just call the career services center: (415) 422-6216

        4: Complicated answer! So, if you had your choice, you would have chosen a shorter engagement period? I feel like I’ve read that before.

        4.2: Second guessing yourself you say… Well, Since I haven’t gotten married yet (womp) I guess can’t help you fix it. But who do you talk to about these things? Because, you kind of work on a wedding blog and I’m pretty sure you’re not the first to feel this way!

      2. Can I just give you some personal experience Miss Mariela??

        DO NOT live together until you both have clear expectations of the future of your relationship. Fred and I lived together for a long time, with me under the impression that we would be married and making babies before I turned 25. That was not the case and we broke up for a year (which sucked, and my life sucked, and blahhh) so when we started seeing each other again, and he asked when we would be living together again, I told him it wouldn’t happen until we were engaged. I didn’t care if it took 1 year or 5 years I was willing to wait until we were on the same page before making that commitment again.

        I’m not saying that you and the dude aren’t in it for the loooong haullll or that you haven’t already had this conversation but I learned this the hard way and I always like to give out un-solicited advice. πŸ™‚

        Also, we lived together and bought a home all before the wedding and it was TOTES AWESOME and still is and I have no regrets about “playing house” the second time around. πŸ™‚

        1. I 100% completely agree with this. I have been broken up with TOO MANY TIMES (umm, i’ve never dumped someone?) to trust any boyfriend with my home and the possibility of having to rip it apart.

          But I also know many successful living with boyfriend becomes fiance stories, so it’s def doable. But I cannot personally recommend.

          1. Yeah, Donnie and I lived together starting in February and we got engaged in September. It’s worked great for us, but we’ve also been talking “marriage” for a lot longer than we’ve been quite technically engaged.

        2. Another vote in favor of waiting until youre engaged if you have concerns. We got engaged 2 months after moving in together, partially because it unexpectedly became extremely important to me all of a sudden. Living together while engaged has been an absolutely great experience and makes the transition to being married less scary.

  7. Quick! You are suddenly transported to the past and meet up with Lauren at age 18! You’re given the opportunity to say 3 sentences about something, anything, that will improve your life for the better. All the major events of your life will remain the same, so there’s no way you’ll do any damage, it’s just a chance for you to tell her something that will help her deal with her life ahead.
    (My question’s kind lame, so I had to add a sense of urgency to it…makes it all dramatic-like…)

    1. 1) Keep saying no to the first job offer you receive in San Francisco, no matter how much they beg.

      2) Eff those bitches. You will know them when you see them.

      3) Your boobs get even bigger than they are now, brace yourself.

  8. Okay here’s my crack at a question, which will probably be a ramble of course:

    Do you and Kamel plan on attending church before or after the wedding? (You may be already and just not have talked about it?) Based on my family/culture I’m assuming that Kamel was also raised Catholic but I may be wrong…ANYWAY, how hard is it to find a place for religion/ spirituality in your relationship? Would you rather lay on the sofa or play Kinekt instead of attending mass? Have you been able to find a church in San Francisco that you love? Do you have the same ideas about The Church and it’s teachings, if not how do you manage your faith without butting heads? How has your relationship with your religion changed as you’ve grown?

    I always thought that I would marry a good catholic boy (I almost did but that’s another story) Fred isn’t religious, nor has he ever been, so I am on a little island and I am always interested in Catholic couples!

    Also, where are we having lunch saturday??? (I could have texted that but I might as well kill 2 perverted pidgeons with 1 stone)


    1. Ok WOW heavy. πŸ™‚ I like it. So I have some very liberal views of the church. i’m not confirmed, because I can’t agree to it all, but I feel like being catholic is deeper than going to mass… anyways, that view is not held by all catholics. Kamel and I have very similar beliefs on the church and how to raise kids with religion, etc. We are not “hard core” but we like the value structure and the community. And I’m a huge advocate for catholic school, so that’s helpful.

      We go to mass now at St. Agnes in the haight and we both really like it. We don’t go every week, we go about once a month. Kamel wants to go more than I do. I always feel stressed and busy and trying to wrap up everything I needed to do over the weekend on sunday, so getting myself to go is sometimes difficult, but once i’m there I really like it. It’s peaceful and I enjoy praying, and it’s just… nice.

      We’ve been lucky on agreeing with most things about faith. I enjoy talking about it a lot because I am super interested in other people’s faith thoughts, etc. And our conversations go about like this, “you think this?” “yes” “why?” “because of this.” “I like that.” “me too.” So, it’s one of the areas in our relationship that I don’t have to work on… unlike his chewing. πŸ˜‰

      And lunch!!! What area are you shooting in? I can paint a lunch around it. Or we can go back to the vegan friendly place. Or mexican. yum.

      1. I’ll be in the mission, meeting them at Dolores @ 5:45 but I can go wherever! Any suggestions would be great but I’ll also do some searching and text you!

  9. Oh Oh I got a question! What happened to your book suggestions on the side of the page over there? Was that just a one week deal, i dont remember? Because those were awesome and I have a Kindle and an Amazon gift card and am SO ready! πŸ˜‰

    1. So I just updated my book choices this week? I think? Maybe this weekend. I can’t remember. With some that I have on my nightstand (I’m currently reading the Blind Assasin and Best American Short Stories 2010). I will hopefully be able to recommend more when I get some more time to read. After the wedding for sure. And HOPEFULLY if I ever finish this book, i’ll be able to write a review on my next Margaret Atwood selection that i’ve been working on since CHRISTMAS. Wtf lauren, I know right?

  10. Ahh I really want to ask a question because I think you’re awesome and I love getting to know awesome people better but I can’t think of one right now! But I will be back once I think of something! πŸ™‚

    1. Kristin stole one of mine (how you met). πŸ˜›

      How did you decide to go to grad school and not just work right after undergrad? I’m kind of going through all that now and I love to hear other people’s stories!

      This is almost as much of a question about Kamel as it is about you, but what’s it like being from two different cultures? Does Kamel speak fluent Spanish? Have you learned any? I guess I ask because Mark is half Australian and even though he fully considers himself AMERICAN (fuck yeah) I’ve really enjoyed getting to know his family and their Australian culture. It’s almost like I consider myself to be a little Australian now haha, if that makes any sense.

      If this is too personal then just ignore it, but I’m wondering if you guys have learned anything about Natural Family Planning in your Pre-Cana classes? They put a lot of emphasis on it on our marriage prep retreat (it wasn’t technically the Pre-Cana program, but it was the diocesan program). A couple came in to give the talk about NFP and the wife was like 13 months pregnant! But they had some intriguing things to say about it and Mark and I have considered it for the future (I’m on the pill now though, not taking that chance yet), but I feel like it’s rather counter-cultural so I was wondering if you had any thoughts about it?

      1. I decided to go to grad school because I am a writer and I didn’t know what else to do. Plus I thought grad school would lead to jobs. It didn’t, but I’m still very proud I went and I think it made me a much better writer.

        Annnd. Being from a different culture can sometimes be really hard esp when dealing with cultural differences in our family. And he does speak fluent Spanish! He is actually not a citizen, but a permanent resident. And I haven’t learned any Spanish and don’t have any intention to actively learn it. but we will try and have our children be bilingual.

        No on the family planning but we may have not gotten there yet. I don’t think we will be using that method as I too have known a lot of ppl who were knocked up on the honeymoon and had a really hard first years because of it.

  11. So glad Lizzie asked about the MFA- I will be emailing you about it soon because I’m deciding if/where I should go, and freaking out as usual. So, on to the real questions!

    1. How did you and Kamel meet? When did you know you loved him for the first time? How did you know you wanted to marry him?

    2. How do you do it all?

    1. 1) I met Kamel on TWITTER!!! I know, it’s weird, but it wasn’t like I was using it for a dating site… I use it like I use it now. And I thought he was gay at first. So, there is that. I fell in love with him in Yosemite after driving 4 hours to get there, nearly dying in the heat and driving 4 hours back. I knew if I hadn’t killed him already, that I must have love him. I knew I wanted to marry him when we were dating long distance and it was so EASY. It’s the most drama-free relationship I’ve ever experienced.

      2) Ha!! My normal day starts off like this: Alarm goes off at 530, kamel and I take turns working out in front of the Kinect. While he is working out, I’m usually writing something for the internet. Then I head out to work around 8, then I work in an office while fielding APW emails, and managing this blog’s content. Then I get home around 530, make dinner while watching the news, eat dinner, and then work on apw from 7-9 most nights, and then work on writing (this blog, or other things) until 10 or 11. Or sometimes I read. It’s really, really hard.

      And yes! email me!

  12. Ooooh … I’ma piggy back off Alyssa and take it a step further.

    Magic genie godmother (right?) shows up and gives you the chance to offer every girl in the world 3 pieces of advice (the same three pieces of advice, don’t get greedy). She’ll magically implant them in all the brains while they’re sleeping and hopefully they’ll remember.

    What are your 3 pieces of advice?

    1. Oh man, THE POWER! THE POWER!

      1) Learn to be content alone. Do not always rely on others for happiness or comfort.

      2) Stay open to opportunities, don’t let fear rule your decisions.


      3) Always put a pair of flats in your purse, just in case.

  13. I’m going to throw a serious question in amongst the hilarity. How early did you and Kamel start the course of Pre-Cana? I ask because despite a lot of effort for, oh, 5 months, on both J and I’s part, we have yet to meet our priest, although every time we call and speak to the parish secretary she assures us all is in order. Help?! We are getting married in December.

    PS. Snap on BBC P & P, totally allowed.

    1. So, not Lauren, but: in our pre-Cana process we only “met” the priest at the end of the whole she-bang when he came at the end of a workshop day to give all the couples a run-down of “how the Catholic Church views marriage” and a blessing. You might just have a pre-Cana that is a one day workshop or a weekend retreat, which is scheduled infrequently. I would still try to get more answers out of your church, since the lack of details would make me uneasy too, but just because the priest isn’t yet in the picture or you haven’t had any meetings yet at 5 months out doesn’t mean all is lost!

    2. Ok so. We were engaged in late May, we met with the deacon (who will actually marry us in September? Yes, I think September (so 4 plus change months in) and then signed up and had our first meeting with pre-cana mid Jan. (7 months before our wedding date) And we just began the final stages of it. The interesting thing about the paperwork of pre-cana that I didn’t know about until I started it is that you have to get them a copy of your baptism certificate dated within 6 months of your wedding. So, I think 6 months before is plenty of time to start classes. You might be able to do pre-cana with another church in the parish who has a broader system, as a lot of wedding prep isn’t done by priests at all. And with your priest you should at least push for an initial meeting so he can give you a list of all of the paperwork you will need… it’s kind of a lot.

Comments are closed.