Saturday, December 24, 2011

My 3rd Annual Holiday Letter

Season’s Greetings!
December 2011

Welcome to my third annual Holiday Letter. The traditional 3rd year anniversary gift is leather. Maybe now I can finally get that white leather jacket I’ve been eyeing on David Bowie.

Towards the end of the school year, I was the Production Director for the Anderson Fashion Show, the largest student-run event at Anderson. I also preformed standup comedy at the year-end student assembly. In June, I finally graduated from UCLA. It’s been an amazing achievement, and I am hoping to only have to sell one kidney to pay off the loans. I also still can’t spell entrepreneurship without the use of spell check. It was a busy year for graduations in our family. In addition to earning my MBA, Craig’s sister Cecilia wrapped up her film program in December, close to the time my sister, Stefanie, finished her master’s thesis. I am so proud of both of them that I could squeal. But I won’t.

In May, Craig’s brother Barry married Cyndi. To follow the wedding themes, in September, Craig and I officially became Mr. Johnson and Ms. Chernow, but in the legal sense. I chose not to change my name due to my professional credits and Craig’s total lack of interest in both of us taking on SparkleMagic as a last name. The wedding was wonderful. Craig and I had an intimate wedding at the same park my parents had their wedding reception. Afterward, we rented out a water park. We made a ‘splash’ as our entrance as husband and wife involved us coming down the main waterslide in all of our wedding apparel. By midnight that evening we were on a flight to our honeymoon at Disneyworld. We greatly appreciate everyone’s help and support, especially when my best friend Erica had to run out to get Craig a burger at a drive through since the carter mistakenly put bell peppers in everything, something he is terribly allergic to.

I have actually taken up hobbies. It started as casual sunset paintings, and before I knew it, I was involved in Nanowrimo- a national contest in November to write 50k works in the month of November. If you have never heard of it, I recommend you check it out at So yes, I wrote a novel in November.

I have recently taken the position of Destination Marketing Manager for Caribbean and Costa Rica for Pleasant Holidays. If you want to feel jealous now, please do. It’s been a lot of work, and a huge learning curve for me, since I have not worked in travel. However, the industry is fascinating, and occasionally, I even travel to tropical destinations.

Craig and I wrapped up our year by joining the local roller derby team near us. I am working on becoming a player, and he will be a referee. I’m still figuring out how gravity works on skates, but hope to have wonderfully exciting news of games and an ability to stay upright in next year’s letter.

The furry critters remain good. Buttercup still thinks a toy is only as good as how loud you can get it to squeak. Currie has decided that plastic is a good snack. Newton and Kelvin have wimpy cat-offs. And Tesla thinks they are all ridiculous.

Hope the year has found you well and doing awesome things.
Until next year, this is Brandie, wishing you goodnight and good luck.

Warm wishes,
Brandie, Craig,
Princess Buttercup, Tesla, Curie, Newton & Kelvin

Sunday, October 9, 2011

One Month Anniversary

Today is my husband and my monthiversary. I have friends who claim that it should technically be called a mensiversary, but that just sounds too bloody to me. So yes, Craig and I have been married for a whole month. It sounds like we are just starting out, even though we have been together for over 5 years. Somehow all of that disappears as one starts counting post marriage.

So what has life been like after the wedding?

I feel old. Having a husband just makes me sound so much older than having a fiance. There is a strange mix of comfort and serious maturity with having a husband. A fiance is a much flightier creature. A fiance has not yet really committed, though he might help pick out wedding colors. A fiance is the sexy stage of almost getting married. It's all about buying diamonds and using French words.

Somehow, husband doesn't have the same effect. It's not a bad thing. I feel much more mature telling people about my husband. I am still slipping and calling him my fiance. After all, we dated two years and then were engaged for three years. He's been my fiance a damn long time.

The rest of life has been on the process of settling down. The initial insanity of the wedding was over. (Still thinking of an excuse to rent another water park.) The honeymoon was a fantastic trip. Kids just started school, there were no lines for anything. There were a few wedding and honeymoon mishaps, but that's another story.

Life if a lot similar to life before. This is true despite people who would try to convince us otherwise. I have heard from some that marriage will lead to the guy saying less stupid things (and from more reliable sources, the opposite tends to be true.) My new husband and I got an article a very religious family member thought we'd like. It basically said to cut out all your external relationship. Craig and I feel outside friends and space is key for any healthy relationship.

The biggest change is my new job, but that didn't come from being married. We still go out. We watch TV and dote on our pets, especially Buttercup. We make each other laugh a lot and cry a little. Marriage has not fixed any, but that wasn't really the point. We do work on things, but we don't need to be fixed.

We are celebrating our monthiversary by seeing the photographer tonight and getting the wedding photos. I am excited. They are truly lovely. And it's a great way to remember that big party we had, not to improve our relationship, but to celebrate and confirm a rad relationship we already had.

It's been a good month. I love Craig, my fiance... I mean husband.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I haven't written in almost a year. The last post was for my 2010 Holiday letter and I've already started my 2011 letter. If you have a problem, you can go suck it. I am in no mood.

Around 4am this morning, I couldn't sleep. I was too cold, and I'd pile on blankets and get hot sweaty and then too cold. I don't know what was wrong, but I couldn't sleep.

Around 4am this morning, eighty miles away, my cat died.

My mom would say it was fate. My husband would say it was just coincidence. My manicurist said my cat was saying goodbye. I have no idea.

I am heartbroken, but not surprise. I shouldn't even be sad, though I am. It's like hearing your great-grandmother died. Tristan was 17 years old. She was about as healthy and happy as one could be when one is about 6,000 years old in cat. She was in her warm, safe home. She wasn't suffering from a terrible disease or injury. Hell, my mom was even cooking for her.

But I already miss my cat. And let me make a note that she was MY cat. Truth be told, my mom deserves far more credit than I for the upkeep of my cat. I moved out to college when Tristan was about eight. The apartments I lived in from then on were not conducive to an older cat who ABSOLUTELY refused to be an indoor cat (aka wouldn't touch a litter box). The only time I rented a house, there were a hoard of ally cats. Nope, my cat was much happy staying with my parents, their yard, and their way of life. Someone was almost always home. My mom was an outright cat lover, and would shower Tristan with affection. My dad would never admit to even liking cats, but could be caught stroking Tristan and quietly talking to her.

But these facts aside, Tristan was my cat. As a soft consolation prize (bribe?) for putting us through yet another move, my dad agreed to let my sister and I get a cat. He had an emphasis on 'a' and we had an emphasis on 'cat.' We also had my mom and cuteness on our side, so he really didn't stand a chance. Mom took the two of us, about 8 and 10 years old, to a cat rescue. Of course, we each needed our own cat. We could share plenty of thing in childhood, but not a cat. My mom gave us a quarter to call my dad at a pay phone while he was on shift at the ER where he worked. His adorable, pleading daughters and cajoling from the surrounding nurses quickly forced him to cave in before our call ran out of quarters.

My sister picked out the most beautiful cat there. A lovely, long-haired Himalayan with soft blue eyes. Except for a small stigmatism with her eyes, she looked like a pristine show cat. She was a sweet cat, happy for head rubs. She would even walk all over your keyboard if your computer work was conflicting with paying attention to her. She wasn't super bright, but that might be because I was unfairly comparing her to a street-smart brilliant cat. But all in her own right, but was a lovely and wonderful cat.

Looks didn't play into my cat selection. A rough and tumble kitty, she had a chunk bitten out of her ear. But she did have plenty of personality. Some of the cats would rub against the bars. She did so with such vehemence that you'd think she was trying to break out in order to leap onto your lap for intense head rubbing. She was purring so loudly the staff couldn't read her heartbeat. Yep. That was the cat for me. She was 6 months then. We had her for the next 17 years.

She definitely marched to hear own beat. She decided to be an indoor and outdoor cat, and learned to ring bells we put on the door for our dog to ring when he wanted to go out. When she didn't want to go out, she learned that catching my dad in a good mood in the kitchen mean a squirt of whip cream in her bowl.

She was a good cat. A really good cat. She will be missed.

Love you girl.