Tuesday, November 30, 2004

This is just a little warning to say that I've got a dayjob thing that's taking up all my available mental bandwidth, so expect light blogging for the days ahead, at least until I get my head above quicksand.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Nick Hornby interviewing Sarah Vowell. What's not to love?
Happiness is the Rubicon in the rearview mirror
After months of inexorable progress and weeks of "oh my god did I meet with the caterer"ing, I found myself standing on the stairs in a hundred year old house, opposite a beautiful woman in a burgundy dress with a smile to outshine the sun, surrounded by some of the most extraordinary people I've ever met, facing a man in a funny collar who asked some very hard questions. Will I have this woman to be my wife; to live together in the covenant of marriage? Will I love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, be faithful to her as long as I both shall live?

Will I? Can I? How much sickness? What if she's in a wheelchair? We'd need a new house; the hallway's too narrow for a wheelchair, and how could we afford it if she wasn't working? Keep her? What's that supposed to mean? I couldn't keep the last one, and I thought I knew what I was doing then, so how am I supposed to keep Christie if she changes her mind and doesn't want to be kept? And what about my mind? What if it changes? What then? Can I? Should I? Will I? Will we? Should I be here? Do I deserve her? Is this a mistake?

If you've read the recent comment threads, you'll know there's at least one anonymouse out there who thinks it is, that we're doomed. What can I say? That's one smart mouse. Of course we're doomed. We didn't promise to stay together forever, we promised to have and to hold "until we are parted by death". That's not what I'd call the promise of a happy ending. In fact, it's just the opposite, and I know plenty of widows and widowers who'll testify to the truth of that promise. Life and marriage both come with an expiration date, and if we're lucky, one of us will get to watch the other die.

And of course this is a mistake. Everything I've ever done is a mistake, an attempt at perfection that missed the mark, followed by an overcorrection, then another, a zigzagging course of overcompensations leading obliquely toward an unseen destination or, more likely, away from some pain I can't quite remember, wandering across a landscape more intuited than seen.

I sometimes wish I were smarter, so I could see clearly the implications of my choices, anticipate my mistakes, and avoid the consequences. But even the finite world of a chessboard produces a decision tree with more branches than my head can hold, and I end up frozen, staring into space, looking for the safest path, and finding none until I lose patience and throw my knight into combat, where he is improbably dispatched by, of all things, a bishop. I am, as you might guess, a lousy chess player.

Life, thank god, is not chess, and Christie's no horse-headed piece of resin. She's the smartest, sanest, funniest, sexiest person I know, and I'm happier with her by my side than I have ever been. Do I see that changing? As a matter of fact, I do. Every day, I'm a little happier than the day before, and a little more sure. But I'm never 100% sure of everything, and this is not a question that can be answered with, "Um, yeah, probably so." I've maneuvered myself into a yes or no corner, and, teetering on the steps, I've got to make an answer.

Reader, I married her.

Pictures to follow.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Quote of the day, from Bill O'Reilly: "Having survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands War, I know that life-and-death decisions are made in a flash." And then, of course, there's the lasting trauma of his time in Grenada, but he still really can't talk about it.

Now go eat some turkey.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Friday, November 19, 2004

Well, the most dangerous toys of 2004 list is out. Going by name alone, I'd have to put the "Pound-A-Ball" on the list, but not for the reasons they give. As usual, they have a fixation with "realistic toy weapons designed to produce dangerous and unnecessary thrills". Dangerous and unnecessary thrills? I think I know where at least one of my ex-girlfriends is working now. (Don't get me started on "choking hazard".)

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Friday, November 12, 2004

A few weeks ago, I got to stand up beside Billie and Emily while they got married. This being a wedding, there were plenty of opportunities to stand up and say a few words, and I wanted to, but I couldn't quite get my thoughts and feelings to hang together enough for a speech. It's been bugging me ever since then, so I'm going to take a stab now at what I would have liked to say then.

I met Emily when I was fifteen, so she would have been about eleven. Theron was my friend, which made her my friend's little sister. TV, movies, and pop culture dictate that a friend's little sister must be, by definition, annoying, but Emily never was. Since she lived most of the year in Texas, with her mom, and only spent every other holiday in Missouri, Emily didn't have much of a social network in Kansas City, so when she was in town, she was usually tagging along with Theron and I. That was a long time ago, but I don't remember even once thinking of her as anything other than a joy to have around.

It's not a story I tell too often, but when I was eight or nine, my mom was pregnant with twin girls. I was too young at the time to know the details, but I do know that she went into labor a little early, but not so early that we expected anything other than Mom and Dad to come home with two baby girls. Instead, Dad came home alone, gray-faced, to tell us that the girls hadn't made it, and that Mom was going to be in the hospital for a while. It happened long enough ago that it's not something I think about that often, but it does pop into my head now and again to figure out how old they'd be now, and wonder what they'd be up to.

This might explain why I feel so lucky to have Emily in my life, but just about everybody that knows her seems to feel lucky, and they can't all be haunted by the ghosts of almost-sisters, so maybe it's just a coincidence.

Now what about Billie? Knowing, as you now do, how I feel about Emily, the fact I not only endorsed but actually encouraged their engagement should tell you I have a high opinion of him. But I'll go a little further and tell you that he's one of the few people out there I still enjoy debating politics with, exactly the guy you want with you on a hike, easy to work with on home improvement projects, and on my short list of people I'd call if I ever needed to bust Christie out of a Turkish prison.

That's it really. I just wanted to say that I love you both, that you both excel at finding the fun where other people only see a pain in the ass, and that I wish you both every possible good thing in your life together.
Remember that choral piece I'm supposed to be writing for a friend? Well, I think I know how I want to do it. Since it's for an unaccompanied SATB choir (soprano, alto, tenor, bass), I'm thinking of four inter-related pieces, tied together around certain key words or phrases. A lot of the implementation is going to be up to the composer, obviously, but I think it's an idea with legs. We'll see how it goes. Anyway, here's the second draft of the first piece:

  Tokyo nightmare waking, smoke a lucky strike to clear the air
  and know it's somehow lunchtime yesterday at home to think of calling back
  in time to hear her voice but fifteen hours not nearly long enough
  and so I light another, lean against the railing barefoot on the balcony
  concrete cold and buzzing streetlight, head swimming back and forth in time to
  find a future full of you and wonder: Am I lost yet? Can I go home?

   The ticket's in my suitcase pocket,
   but crossing the dateline is tricky,
   and I won't know till I've landed
   exactly when I am.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

If you're depressed about the election and feeling alone in the world, Sorry Everybody is good therapy. If you're not, it's just kind of entertaining.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Last year, I got the stomach flu on my birthday. The year before that, a migraine. The year before that, a divorce.

This year, Christie had a training session in Sedalia, so I got the house to myself to watch Stargate reruns and finish my book. Somewhere in there, I took the time to put a second coat of poly on the new bookshelves that have been in progress for something like 6 months now. Jeesh. But there're just about done now. I think I might have sneezed once, but other than that, no health problems of any kind, leading me to think that keeping things simple might be the key to surviving my birthdays.

Of course, I did wake up with a migraine, and it took till almost 10 am for the drugs to kick in, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

These are the things that matter to me: The way Christie's breath changes when I kiss her just so, the way my grandfather's try square fits in my hand, a good meal coming together, the laughter of friends, the smell of oak sawdust, a door closing properly after I've worked on it, finding the right words, and telling a good story. Compared to these things, politics is a fly buzzing in my ear on a beautiful fall day.

I'm less than a week shy of being 34 years old, and there were only eight of those years in which I actually liked the man who was president. This is just more of the same.

Don't get me wrong, I think George W. Bush has the potential to totally screw up the country, but he can only do as much damage as we the people let him. And I'll be damned if I let him start off by stopping me from having a good time.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Yesterday's opening monologue from the Daily Show is a perfect example of why I (and so many others) love Jon Stewart. Warning: It's a 3.6 mb download.
The first words anyone said to me at work this morning were in the breakroom, from a guy I barely know, who pointed at his "I voted" sticker and said proudly, "I trimmed a Shrub today."

"Me, too," I said, and pointed to my own.