Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hey, we got married!

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No, really! Married!

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I have witnesses on sheep!!

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I'd write more, but I am in recovery...

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Well done us.


Monday, September 18, 2006


The change in mood hit me Sunday when I realized that I wasn’t just cleaning the house, but that I was cleaning the house in preparation for the arrival of family for our wedding. My brother Andy and sister-in-law Vicky arrive tomorrow night with their twins, Nick & Jake, and my godson Michael. They are staying here, as they are in town for the week and my offering up of the apartment saves them around a thousand dollars in hotel bills. Vicky has a cat allergy so Kat has graciously taken our cat in for the week.

My parents arrive Wednesday in their motor home. They’ll be parked at my sister Sandy’s and traveling around town on their Gold Wing motorcycle, which they are towing down. My parents are in their early seventies and often travel by motorcycle. The rest of our families will arrive Thursday through Saturday and each arrival will feel like a clink in the ascension of a roller coaster. Jes’ extended will be coming from Arkansas and Illinois, mine will be coming in from the Minnesota, Wisconsin and California. I feel like a migratory call. I feel like an impending shuttle launch. I feel good. The rocket has been brought to the pad and we are performing our checks.

When my old landlord Richard was dying he talked frequently of his last big party. He described the meal and the buses he’d chartered to transport all of his friends. Jes and I aren’t dying in any kind of immediate way, perhaps we are beginning to live, but many years from now, when we are on the wane, I expect that the next few days will still shine for us with qualities of personal mythology wherein the soup of us went from simmer to rolling boil.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Grade day:

I often bring work home with me to do over the weekend and then spend the weekend figuring out how I can make time to get the at home work done at the office. That’s not going to work this weekend as I have midterms due and a hard deadline for a large stack of work. For me grading is the worst part of teaching, it’s the playing the umpire more than the coach. I’m not going to complain too much because I know the positives. The plus side of grading individual work is that I am able to begin to focus on the strengths and weaknesses of each individual student while at the same time getting solid feedback on what I’ve been able to communicate as an instructor. It’s not just “what aren’t they learning”, it’s also “what do I need to teach more effectively”.

I am getting married in a week. I can answer the ubiquitous questions for you up front. No, I am not nervous. Yes, I am excited. The final preparations seem to be as well in hand as these things ever are.

One of our bridesmaids, Karen, has been trapped in Israel. She is an Israeli citizen who has been living mostly in the United Sates for the last few years. She went home to attend another wedding just a short time ago and now they won’t readmit her to the U.S. until her fellowship starts later this fall. We had been hoping for some eleventh hour visa breakthrough, as Karen has some academic cred which can translate into string pulling power, but we’ve finally had to punt. Tempe has agreed to step in for her, but then there is the issue of the dress. Karen’s dress, while here, does not fit Tempe and so the girls will spend today in hunter gatherer mode, roaming the vast fields of St. Louis dress makers to find something that works with both our scheme and her complexion.

The florist forgot to place our order. She lost it and confused us with another client. When the confirmation visit was made she was most apologetic, gave us a deep discount and guaranteed delivery. Our family DJ is having trouble tracking down some amps, but we have several team members working on that one. We are starting with a band, so the DJ is B team anyway. Our rowdier guests want to know where we are going after the wedding. We can stay at Bevo after our four hours are up as long as we have music – until one a.m. - thus the need for a DJ. I have vague memories of club hopping in downtown Santa Barbara after my Brother Andy’s wedding, but the newlyweds weren’t with us. I think we’ll just have to play that one by ear. It can be a little challenging to navigate what is traditionally done and what you need to do given that we don’t see the majority of our guests that often.

Another question I’ve been getting is, “Why is there so much time between the wedding and reception?” The short answer is: to do the church and the reception hall that we wanted the times we are starting things are what was available when we booked. Apparently couples are encouraged to plan their weddings ten years in advance to ensure availability. If that sounds a little terse, it’s because the whole wedding industry is based on what Jes calls the need to “under-promise and over-deliver”. The sham of all the false anxiety triggers, and their linkages to price points, can get a bit tiresome. Anyway, the time between events gives us the chance to go to the Botanical Gardens for pictures and spend some additional time with rarely seen family. We will also be allowed to relax a little bit and enjoy the day.

I spent some of yesterday helping Jes’ stepfather do some last minute landscaping. We took thirty-three bags of left over white rock for the Zen garden back to Kirkwood Landscaping to exchange them for ten bags of Arizona Sunset river rock and several bags of coco husk mulch. The coco husk mulch goes on brown and then turns dark black when you water it. The front yard of the house and the back of Jes’ truck both smell like expensive candy bars from the powder in the husks.

We are planning to have the rehearsal dinner in their backyard, but the long range forecast is suggesting that we may need to be inside. Should we get rained out we are going to require the guests to step out in the rain and admire the garden briefly before we will feed them. I suppose it’s a good thing we decided against the outdoor wedding. Originally we were planning to get married at the Missouri Botanical Gardens, but we didn’t like their exclusive contact caterer. We also considered the Lemp Mansion Gazebo for the reception, but the weather was also a factor; that, and the noise from nearby Hwy 55.

Well, that’s it from this end as we get closer to the nuptials I imagine the posting will be infrequent. I hope you’re all well.


Monday, September 11, 2006

To answer Jen’s question in a more detailed way, “CSNY” stands for David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young. I’ve seen them in concert once before and Neil dominated that previous show. Neil was certainly on fire at this recent concert, in all his anti-war glory - leaping around the stage like an impish Hunter S. Thompson, but Stephen Stills was the real show stopper. During some of his guitar solos I realized that I hadn’t heard a guitar played quite that well since I saw the late Stevie Ray Vaughn at Mississippi Nights back in the eighties.

I should give Graham Nash some props for a shining moment that involved the unfurling of a giant Mexican flag during an impassioned singing of “Immigration Man”, a song written originally about the attempted deportation of British Invasion artists but much more apt in the current political climate. David gets props for the ubiquity of handlebars and long haired languor.

We met with the pastor before we went to show and when we told him what we had on tap for the evening he told me that I looked a little like David Crosby, this from a portly gray haired man in a Hawaiian shirt. When your pastor meets with you wearing a loud yellow Hawaiian shirt he inspires confidence.

We are our impending wedding of late. Heideggerian homunculi: Daisein books Days Inn. If you are planning a shivery I will be forced to withhold where we will be lodging.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Tonight I have to race back to meet with the pastor at five and then it's CSNY out at Riverport - or whatever they are calling it now.


All week I’ve been fighting the desire to get up extra early. I gave up today and got up at four. I walked the dog under a full and yellow moon, a harvest moon, thinking about how four a.m. had been my average bed time for years.

Yesterday had some small adventure. The marriage license comes from city hall and is available only during the week before five. I am in H before they open and don’t get back until well after they close. We both have to be there to get a license. “Here he comes, here comes Speed Racer. He’s a demon on wheels.” I got to city hall yesterday around quarter to five. All the women in the office were congratulating me on my arrival. In a short ten minutes we closed down the place and will have the license by Monday. We have some final adjustments to make to the rings, but after that we’ll be all set with the big stuff.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

An odd day following the long weekend:

On the way to work this morning I nearly hit a wild turkey in the new car. I missed it by only a foot or so. There were a flock of them in the road and of course five went right and one went left. I got to experience those antilock brakes in action as I nearly clipped the right hand foul fowl.

I am having terrible allergy symptoms. We ate with our landlord last night and her three cats sent me into a congestion spiral. I am doped up on “non-drowsy” allergy meds, but I still had to pull over a catch a cat nap on the way home. I bought the allergy meds at the Flying J Truck Stop around six-thirty in the morning and the cashier told me, “I hope you feel better honey.” Ah, the Flying J. I bought Madeline Albright’s nine disk autobiography on CD there the other day for nine bucks. I’m on disk three if you want to borrow it.

I am still figuring out how our car alarm works and I accidentally set it off in the parking lot I had been napping in. It took me a good ten minutes of trial and error to get it shut off as all the people around me confirmed that I was an idiot rather than a thief. Work was good and as this is my first week sans puppy mill I feel like I am coasting. I have far less than half the work I had been doing on my current docket.

I am getting married in less than three weeks, with a little bit of luck, with a little bit of luck, with a little bit of blooming luck. The day that I hid the wedding ring in Jes’ dresser drawer she inexplicably walked in the house singing, “I’m getting married in the morning.” Nine out of ten psychic girlfriends agree: intuition is key.

My brothers have been calling me for final triangulations. I am the youngest of six kids and so there is a bit to triangulate when our little murder of crows gets called. Jes is jumping from one to twelve nieces and nephews. Rounding up enough car seats for the out of town guests seems to be a final thing. Oh, there’s also Jes opening at the Chicago gallery the weekend before the wedding. Nope, we’re not busy, not at all.


Monday, September 04, 2006

The phoenix rises up from the stashes:

We have a lot of stuff. Jes had her bridal shower yesterday and there was a consequent flood of new stuff into our bursting apartment. It’s odd that I was the one to do this, but I cornered Jes and we went through all our silverware and kitchen gadgets last night to weed out the things we don’t need or don’t use. In that we are both pack rats this was something of a major undertaking. I am either a sentimentalist or a full on animist, imbuing all matter with animus (Greek for “spirit” or more literally “breath”), so watching the silverware of a thousand BBQs move on to new adventures has pulled at my heart strings a tad. That damn Velveteen Rabbit has forever warped my psyche.

You may have noticed that is hard for me to let go of things sometimes, but I am making strides in the right direction. Early on, when Jes and I first moved in together and merged our stuff we had a great deal of overlap: two toaster ovens, two bread machines, etc. We set up a table in our basement as a staging area for trips to Goodwill. I just don’t have the time to do a rummage sale and I feel good about donating stuff anyway. Unfortunately, the Goodwill store near us on Gravois no longer takes donations; one has to drive to a drop off center way down Hwy 55 or up to the Central West End location. Again, I don’t have the time to do that, so I have decided to become my own Goodwill.

We live in a marginal neighborhood where there is great contrast between extremes of wealth and poverty. Everyday several people will go through the dumpsters behind the house hunting for aluminum cans or anything that might be of use. I’ve been placing our reusable house wears in boxes or bags on top of the dumpster lid to make it clear that the items therein are free to a good home. The gas station near us does have a clothing-and-shoes collection bin, so I have been taking our recyclable clothing there. When my sister V lived in Hawaii she would get her recyclable clothing dry cleaned and then hang it from a hook on her dumpster that seemed almost intended for the purpose. One person’s treasure is another person’s detritus (ed. Mary).

As a story in contrasts, growing up in a wealthy neighborhood where this kind of recycling was a common practice, my father regularly brought home things that had been left out in our alley by our wealthier neighbors; including, I believe, the chair I am sitting in right now. My college town had two days a year where people could put anything out for collection and this day turned into a free for all for students furnishing their dive apartments. If you don’t have a dumpster, or even if you do, web pages like Free Cycle and Craig’s List facilitate a useful exchange of stuff, trading on the fact that time and hauling concerns often outweigh any thoughts of remuneration.

Perhaps this is Reagan’s trickledown economics in action, the Nuevo-riche in their obsession with displaying wealth, to re-inscribe their own sense of success while at the same time undermining their ability to become truly wealthy, obsessively and foolishly buy new to follow trends. The pragmatists of the world focus on what works or what can be got working, whether “it” came from the A-list or the alley. There is a simple lesson to be learned from the fact that the very wealthy rarely look it.