5 Months Later!

It’s now been about five months since my last blog post. I’m not quite sure what happened except that it’s possible that I began filling the time I used to spend writing blog posts beginning to plan a wedding.
Well, with the new year almost a week old and no other viable New Year’s resolutions, I resolve to try to blog more often.
In my last post, I told you about getting engaged. I also pledged to continually update you on the trials and tribulations of planning a wedding. That hasn’t quite happened, but there’s still plenty of planning before this thing gets done. We’ve picked a place, saved a date, and, well, that’s about it. Still up? A florist, photographer, dresses, invitations, and plenty of other important details I don’t currently know.

Some anecdotes and statistics from the last 5 months of planning?

  • We visited 8 different locations and saw the good and the bad in each of them. In order to assist in this difficult decision, we turned to the numbers. I created a complex matrix that weighted different aspects of each location and made clear which choice we needed to make. It was probably the dorkiest exercise I ever took part in.
  • JR has gone dress shopping twice and picked out a couple potential winners. It’s unclear whether she’ll continue shopping or not. I don’t know anything about any of the dresses and I’m not sure I’m supposed to talk about it.
  • Since JR and I got engaged, 7 of our friends got engaged. Including our own, we have 7 weddings between April and November, one that we’re not going to on a Monday in Mexico, and one in 2007. This should be interesting.
  • After receiving wedding menus from about 40 different venues, we’ve determined that scallops wrapped in bacon are, indeed, the most popular wedding appetizer.

    The next several months should be pretty interesting, I’ll definitely do a better job keeping you updated on this and the aspects of my life and the lives of others that I find exciting.

    PS: Dancing with the Stars started tonight and though I didn’t feel like throwing myself out the window like last year, the new Thursday/Friday schedule makes it unlikely I’ll tune in. Watching Master P cha cha should be exciting, though.

  • 5 Months Later!

    Apres (something), le deluge

    I admit it, it all started with me being snippy. I was in the upstairs bathroom brushing my teeth, and getting annoyed at the state of cleanliness in the tooth-brushing area. I’m kind of neurotic about the level of sterility I require around my dental implements, and there was just way too much hair on the sink and on the cabinet where the Sonicare lives.

    I shouted something passive-aggressive to R— about how “we” need to get better about wiping up after “we” brush “our” hair, and could she please bring me up a roll of paper towels from the basement?

    Because my wife is a saint, she did get up to get a roll of paper towels instead of a sharp knife. A few seconds later, I heard her shout, “Fuck!” R— doesn’t use strong language like that often, so I pelted down the stairs, through the kitchen, over at least one cat, and through the basement door. I found her standing on the bottom step of the basement stairs and overlooking a shallow but wide lake where once there was concrete floor.

    I think we both just stared in shock — “It was dry last night!” — for a minute or two before (gingerly) leaping into action. We rescued the leaves for the dining room table (a very nice wedding gift), four wooden kitchen chairs, my guitar and recording equipment, the cat litter box, and the vacuum cleaner and then surveyed the damage. Two rugs were total losses as was a ludicrously large pile of empty cardboard boxes. A few other boxes were damp, but their contents were undamaged. Everything else was in plastic bins or on shelves, which just goes to show that my manic affection for shelving and storage paraphernalia is not without benefit.

    We called everyone in the Yellow Pages under “flood” and got pretty much the same answer from each. “Hello? Yes, our basement is flooded.”

    “Yeeeah. No kidding.” (Apparently we were not alone.)

    It had been the day’s plan to drive up to New Hampshire to visit with R—’s mother, and we dithered for a while about whether or not to go. It seemed somehow irresponsible to leave our house while the basement was flooded, but at the same time, what were we going to do about it? Was it going to get any worse? Could we do anything about it if it did? We decided that staring intently at the water level wasn’t going to accomplish anything, so, into the car we went. We’d been driving for about fifteen minutes when we got a call on R—’s cell phone from her step-father, inquiring about the state of our water heater and, more specifically, of its pilot light. The phrase “house filling with gas” was bandied about. I’m pretty sure I overheard him say something about “exploding.” We turned around, turned off the water heater (“Wait, do you know how to light the pilot again?” “Um… let’s go with ‘yes’?”) and set out again.

    By the time we returned home that night, the rain had stopped and the streets were eerily dry. I took a peek at the basement (still wet) and spent the next morning running from Home Depot to Home Depot, trying to find a wet/dry vacuum or a pump. (Sample exchange with the Home Depot guy at the tool rental counter: “Do you have a wet/dry shop vac available?” “Ha! No.”) We did purchase a fancy dehumidifier and a shiny new bucket. I admit I was expecting something more dramatic from the dehumidifier. I plugged it in, pushed the “on” button, and listened with satisfaction to its powerful hum. I went upstairs, ate some leftover Thai food, and came back downstairs to find maybe a quarter cup of water in the bucket. I’m not sure what I was hoping would happen, but I think something Moses-like, with the parting of the waters, would have impressed me more.

    Sunday afternoon was spent lugging disgustingly wet bits of rug and cardboard out to the curb, opening every available window, and turning on a fan. And now? Now we pretty much just wait for it to dry.

    The whole experience was essentially an initial burst of horror followed by a mounting sense of relief. Yes, the basement was flooded, but it was only a few inches. People elsewhere in the state were dealing with feet of water, sometimes up onto the first floor. Nothing that we cared about was damaged. The cleanup took only an hour and a half, and we expect it to dry out in a week. And, oh, yeah, I think things were a little worse down New Orleans-way.

    There’s really been far too much water in the news in the past year, and while watching footage from the Katrina/Rita cleanup effort I’d been saying that I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to deal with the mess. Well, now I can begin to imagine. Our completely minor flooding problem was a pain in the ass, and it was kind of gross, and it took a fair amount of effort to deal with what was ruined, and yet we’re just talking about cardboard. Cardboard! We weren’t dragging out ruined clothes, furniture, and photographs. We don’t have to worry about where we’ll sleep. Our house is livable. It isn’t even all that musty.

    We already knew how lucky we were, but the reminder didn’t hurt.

    Apres (something), le deluge

    She said YES!

    Last Thursday, on the commuter rail home, I decided to finally take steps to make an honest woman out of JR. I’ve been certain for a while that I wanted to spend my life with her and I look at an engagement and the wedding as a formality. I’m not minimizing those things, but I don’t think they’re going to change our lives very much. This lack of change is the main reason I decided to propose.
    JR’s got a lot of traveling going on this month, so after I decided to do the deed, I knew I was going to get right to it. Also, while deception and subterfuge are 2 of my strong suits, this is a pretty big cat to keep in the bag. This led me to a couple issues: how and where to get a ring, and how and where to give it to her. People take these proposals very seriously, you can’t nonchalantly plop a felt box onto the coffee table during a ballgame. It’s simply not done.

    Getting the Ring:
    Like the majority of people getting engaged for the first time, I had no idea what I needed to know to buy a ring. JR hasn’t ever made a point of taking me through a jewelry store hinting at what style of ring she would or wouldn’t like. This would have made my decision monumentally less intimidating, and guys, you might want to see if you can set it up if you have ANY interest in engaging your girlfriend. Refusing to be caught unawares I spent the better part of Thursday and Friday evenings, learning as much as I could about buying an engagement ring and wouldn’t you know it, the internet was a pretty handy reference. I learned a lot on this site and this one, while also spending a bit of time on Bluenile.com “building my own ring”.

    So like any young buck looking to engage his mate, I felt a basic understanding of the 4Cs (cut, clarity, color, and carats (though they should probably include chape, as well) was enough to handle anything the jeweler would throw at me. JR had to go in to work on Saturday morning and that figured to be about my best ring-buying opportunity for the following six weeks so I jumped at it. At my first stop, I found one ring that I liked. However, after asking the saleswoman about the diamond, I was borderline offended when she told me the clarity and color ratings. It seemed like most of what they sold was crap so I decided on to keep on moving. Remember, I was under time constraints. On the way to the next place, I called JR’s mother, father, and sister to get permission (and hopefully fish for fashion advice), they were down (but lacked concrete advice). Luckily, the next place I visited was great. They won me over immediately with superior lighting. You wouldn’t think it would make such a difference, but actually being able to see the diamond sparkle does a lot to help it sell itself. The salesman also won points for trying harder to get me to buy a ring less expensive than my obvious favorite. Less than 20 minutes after walking in to the store, I was skipping out, the future in my pocket.

    The Proposal:
    I knew I had to do something, but unfortunately, my best ideas are usually too grandiose to accomplish on a limited clock. I contemplated the jumbotrons at both Fenway Park and Gillette, but both of those would have required waiting longer than I was willing and a intolerable level of public embarrassment (for JR). I wanted something memorable and remarkable, but not fantastically cheesy. I definitely got out Scrabble and pulled “W-I-L-L Y-O-U M-A-R-R-Y M-E J” out of the bag. Not knowing how to best utilize the letters, I put the tiles into my sock drawer, just in case, and went back to the drawing board. I’d had a sneaking suspicion since I decided to propose that if we were in the house, I’d use Charlie and James to help. So I did. I raced back after getting the rock since JR was supposed to be home around 2 and here it was 2:10 already. I had decided to tie the ring around one of the cats and a poem around the other. I tried the ring on James first, thinking he wouldn’t realize it was there. Unfortunately he did and kept putting it in his mouth and chewing on it. At around 2:20, JR called and said she was on her way home. I quickly tied the ring around Charlie’s neck and he actually didn’t seem to mind the bling too much. I knew neither cat was going to be happy about the poem so I wanted to wait to attach the ribbon until JR pulled in the driveway. So I waited, and waited. And waited. I didn’t want Charlie running all over the house with a ring around his neck, so I made him wait with me in the office. Which got hotter and hotter with the door closed and sun streaming in the window. 45 minutes later, JR called and said she had gotten a call from a friend and was talking to her outside a coffee shop and that she’d be home in a couple minutes. She came home, I tied the ribbon around James’ neck, carried him to the kitchen (knowing Charlie would follow us in), dropped to my knees and asked, “Will you marry us?” JR hadn’t seen the ring and thought it was a joke and when she realized I was serious, she started crying. Charlie, meanwhile, had decided to bring JR’s ring into the litter box. We grabbed him quickly, cut the ring off, JR tried it on, and said yes. Mission accomplished.

    We haven’t seriously discussed any ideas for a wedding or a date yet, but I am REALLY excited to efficiently plan an extremely happening shindig. Really. When we do begin planning the wedding, you can come back here to read about everything we go through; to share in our joy and revel in our misadventures.

    She said YES!

    Baseball

    Well, they did it. The Boston Red Sox won the World Series.

    Even after the ALCS, I wasn’t sure this was the year. Well, a Red Sox fan is never confident, but I didn’t think our pitching could hold down the Cardinals offense. Boy, was I glad to be wrong. Looks like more evidence for the adage that the postseason is all about premier pitching. If you’d told me in advance, I never would have believed that Pujols, Rolen, and Edmonds would have one hit between them.

    The World Series was a little anti-climactic after the rush of The Greatest Comeback In Baseball History. Games 1 and 2 were exciting because we seemed to be trying to lose (8 errors?!), but couldn’t. Games 3 and 4 were simply the confident administration of a methodical drubbing. A good move was watching Game 4 down at the local tavern, where we got to drink, shout, and high-five total strangers. Watching a high-stakes sporting event at home on the couch doesn’t have the same impact. (“We won!’ “Huh. Good show.” “Bed, then?”)

    There has been a lot of hand-wringing in the sports press (and sour grape-ing in the New York Times) about what the “end of the Curse” means for Red Sox nation. The implication is that now that we’ve won, we won’t know what to do with ourselves. Even Rachel admitted that she was a little conflicted about winning the World Series. Once we’re not Red Sox Nation, bound together by our shared heartbreak, what are we? Just a bunch of people who all happen to root for the same consistently successful team. Like Yankees fans.

    (Because let’s face it, for all of our scrappy underdog persona, we have the second-largest payroll in the Major Leagues, and we use it. Exhibit A: Curt “Bloody Sock” Schilling.)

    The other day I had the chance to talk to a very nice guy, who happened to be a Yankees fan. I told him my theory that rooting for the Yankees (or any perennially successful team) must be rather unsatisfying. If they win, you’re happy, but not overwhelmed: winning is your due, it is expected. If they lose, you’re stunned and humiliated (see 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004). What was it really like, I asked, to root for a team like the Yankees?

    “It’s really, really great,” he replied.

    So I’m not worried about rooting for a successful Boston team. I rooted for a (mostly) successful Cardinals team in the 1980’s, and those were good times. No, what I’m worried about what our lost humility will do to us as fans. How are we going to be identified? We’re not the eternally hopeful, eternally heartbroken group we were until this October. I just hope we don’t end up being the most obnoxious fans in the game.

    Don’t get me wrong! I am completely thrilled that we not only beat the Yankees after last year’s cataclysm, but that we beat them in historical fashion. My bigoted uncle (see my “Intermarriage” essay) is a huge Yankees fan, and the thought of showing up at his son’s wedding wearing a Red Sox yarmulke fills me with such joy that I’ve actually caught myself rubbing my hands together and cackling. Cackling!

    I’m worried, though, because we’ve shown some bad manners even before we had a championship under our belt. When we’re playing the Devil Rays at Tropicana Field, and the Sox fans outnumber the Rays fans, why do I hear the crowd chanting “Yankees Suck?” Even when we’re playing the hated Boys from the Bronx at Fenway, is that really called for? Sure, the Yankees are overpaid and arrogant, and I’m all about rivalry (back in the StL we used to call the Mets “Pond Scum”) but whatever else you want to say about New York, they don’t suck. At least since the late 90’s, they’ve played themselves some baseball.

    And the booing. Look, we were all a little bitter about not getting A-Rod at the beginning of the year. (Although, now? Last laugh.) And yeah, he’s a bit of a punk, and has oddly purple lips. But there’s no call to boo him. In the first game of the World Series, did I really hear the Fenway crowd boo Albert Pujols? Who in their right mind would boo Albert Pujols?! (Heh. Heh. “Poo-holes.”) Our lowest moment, though, as a fan base, was during the introductions before Game 1 when the crowd booed third base coach Dale Sveum. People, I know he’s made some bone-headed decisions directing traffic over there, but to boo a coach? In his home park? On national television? At the World Series? After the ovation everyone else got? Shameful.

    So we need to cut that out.

    Apart from that, though, I’m not worried about life as a fan of the un-cursed Red Sox. Everyone loves a loveable loser, but everyone also loves a winner, and this bunch is so personable that they’re easy to root for. The best sign, naturally, is that I ended this season with the same words that ended last season (although with a grin instead of a sigh):

    “Four months ‘til pitchers and catchers!”

    Baseball