Sunday, August 31, 2014


It has become de rigueur for couples to insist, on their wedding website, that the best gift invitees can give them is their presence at the wedding and that no material gift is necessary, and then to list one or more stores at which the couple has compiled a list of desirable material gifts.  So of course this is exactly what we will do.

It took us a bit of angst to get here.  We really don't need anything and we really would never want our guests to feel obliged to spend money on us.  We are inviting them because we want them to be present on the day and we want to celebrate with them, and we know that most of them will have to spend money and time to attend in the first place, so it seems almost unfair to suggest that they should spend even more of either resource on a gift.  But I have been informed by a number of people and resources (some of them members of the Wedding Insanity Complex and therefore hardly disinterested) that not registering is actually rude, because then guests not only feel impelled to buy you a gift, but must spend additional energy trying to figure out what you would like.

So, we are registering.  We compiled a list of things to register for, which basically fall into three categories:

1) Things we should probably already have.  For example, a blender or a food processor.  We don't have either, somehow, and we have survived, but it's an inconvenience.  Also, a proper mixing bowl or bowls.  In fact we have one mixing bowl, given to me by a former roommate on the occasion of her marriage (I think it was a wedding gift to her that she didn't want?).  This was in about 2003.  And there were originally three bowls, but only one has survived the five moves since it entered my possession, and while it is nice enough, it is not what I would have picked out for myself, and why at the age of almost 35 am I using a mixing bowl that was a graduate student's castoff?
2) Things we have, but that we should have better (or matching) of.  Both of us have long been in the habit of acquiring 2 or 4 of things, which means we have 6 or 8 of most things, but not 6 or 8 matching things.  Fortunately we have not-too-dissimilar and fairly simple tastes; it isn't really that weird to serve Thanksgiving on two white plates and four blue ones with wine glasses of two different sizes, particularly when all parties are impressed that the turkey didn't explode and that the hosts have actually managed to rustle up six chairs.  But it would be good to have six identical plates, and cups, and wineglasses, and forks, and so on.  This presents the problem of what we will do with our bachelor and bachelorette dishes, which there are not room for in our big-for-NYC-but-not-actually-big kitchen, and some of which we are attached to (I am particularly fond of some bowls given to me a decade ago by possibly the same marrying friend, and my intended loves his discontinued cereal bowls; there are two of each so maybe we can just agree to be a household of mismatched bowls).  

Also in this category: towels.  When we moved in together a year ago we decided to store our towels separately.  This was not a completely insane decision because we have separate bathrooms, so there's no real reason our towels need to match.  But it doesn't really make sense to maintain two towel repositories indefinitely, although I can't actually think what efficiency is derived from combining them.  I have the vague sense, however, that being married will entail becoming more integrated over time, and towels seem like a harmless way to start that.  Anyway, both of our towel situations are moderately bleak, so maybe marriage is a time to scrap them all and start over.

In fact, most of our stuff is in this category: pots and pans, steak knives, sheets.  We have survived for many years with the stuff we have, purchased at Walmart and Canadian Walmart and gifted by friends and parents when they moved or married, but at some point we should give it all to Goodwill and commit to an actual kitchen of our own.

3) Things that seem like they will be fun to have.  I have convinced my intended that we should register for salt and pepper grinders, even though neither of us likes pepper and we don't know where to buy the rocks for the salt grinder.  But, so cool.  Also, we registered for a casserole, on the assumption that sometime in our marriage one of us will learn to cook.  There are some other things we think would be great to have (a bread maker, a griddle) but that we wouldn't use all that much and aren't practical to store.

So, today we started the process.  I say "started the process" because, after two hours of wandering around Crate and Barrel with our Registry Gun, it seems that - and this will surprise nobody who has ever met me, or him, or any other human being who manages to remain single past the age of thirty - getting two people to agree on how they want their kitchen table to look, even if they are very devoted to each other, is completely impossible.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


There are a lot of decisions to make when planning a wedding.  Like, a lot.  That's probably the thing I understood least before starting.  And the decisions are of all sizes, from the truly monumental (should you get married at all?  to whom?) to the fairly big (should you invite friends and family to witness your ceremony and attend a reception afterwards, or get married on your own at City Hall?) to the medium-small (what should you do about food? music? a rehearsal dinner?) to the truly trivial (centerpieces, flowers, and everything to do with clothing).

Of course - and this is probably obvious to anyone who has ever been in any kind of proximity to a wedding - the importance of all these decisions is not only exaggerated by the Wedding Girlification Industry, the relative importance of each decision is completely blown askew from anything a reasonable person might believe.  I was actually asked, when I purchased my dress - which is a reasonably-priced (on the scale of wedding dresses, which means that it is possible but not likely that I may someday own another garment as expensive), fairly traditional, thoroughly innocuous selection - if I was certain it was The One.  Yes, really.  Now, to the extent that I believe in a The One, I believe my fiance is it, but nobody has asked me if I was really one hundred percent certain about him.  Because he's just the man I'm marrying; there's no reason I need to be certain of him.  A few yards of organza and lace, on the other hand - that's what's really important to get right about my wedding.

Other elements of my wedding that have been blown way out of proportion have included - so far, and keep in mind we're still months and months out from the actual day - the photographer (which I think is actually a semi-important decision, in that we certainly want to have one, but you would not believe the amount of time I have spent looking at pictures of strangers' weddings on the internet in an attempt to determine which set of photos-not-of-my-wedding best represents how I want my wedding to look in photos); the save-the-dates (you would think, if you had never planned a wedding, that there would not be many conversations you could have about a postcard.  You would be wrong.); and - most recently - colors.

Of course, I knew wedding colors were a thing.  But I figured they weren't particularly important for us, since we're not having a wedding party (the bridesmaids' dresses being typically the main sample of the wedding colors), and our venue has some pretty spectacular natural decorations, which means our flowers and centerpieces and whatever other aesthetic bits are mandatory for a wedding but about which I've forgotten will be pretty minimal.  I figured when we got around to planning this stuff - in the distant future, when important stuff like food and the ceremony itself are nailed down - we'd see what sort of decorations - flowers, table linens, centerpiece-y stuff - were available, and pick a couple colors which look good together and are easy to get.

Of course I was wrong.  We've been having very preliminary conversations with florists, and apparently it isn't even possible to get an idea of what is available without specifying two or three colors.  I have tried asking what is typically in season in May, what looks good together, and what most brides do (all of which is an invitation for them to present me some very expensive ideas as a starting point, so you'd think they'd love it) but mostly I get reactions of shock and horror.  Apparently, in order to make a deep and lifelong commitment to my significant other, I need to also have deep-commitment-level feelings about a couple of very particular wavelengths of visible light.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Act Two ... Three? Four?

When we last left left our heroine - that's me! - she was poised on the brink of a transition, and emphatically ambivalent about it.  Having met a man whom she could not find any problems with, and who - for some reason probably having to do with an ill-advised vow to laugh at all of his jokes for the remainder of their relationship (yes, he reminds of that at least once a week) - had tolerated her company for the past two years, she was about to move in with him, and she was worried.  What if she became boring and settled?  What if she didn't like having another person around all the time?  What if - horror of horrors - she had to learn to cook?

Now it is sixteen months later, and none of my worst fears have come to pass.  We chose to devote our rental budget to size rather than amenities, which means we have enough space to close a door between us when one of us wants solitude or quiet.  We learned to spend time in the same room without talking, and we got used to talking every day.  And - while I have lately taken to mixing spiralized zucchini with angel hair - I have not, so far, learned to cook.

Also, I am getting married.

This will come as no surprise to most of the remaining readers of this blog, who consist of approximately two people with whom I am friends in real life and who have already heard the news.  But it - still, months after the bestowal of a pretty topaz, well into the photographers-and-florists stage of wedding planning - surprises me.  I found him!  My lobster!  My other shoe!  The elusive Prince Pocket Protector!  And - this will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone except me - he was exactly where, and who, everyone expected all along.  It turns out that the guy for me is not a stoner, criminal, or dropout; he does not live in Australia or Siberia; he has never been married and has no scandalous backstory; he is not cruel or inconsiderate or distasteful in a way that can only be excused by vast depths of perfection imperceptible to everyone but me.  No, he is exactly whom everyone who has ever met me would expect: a mild-mannered ex-physicist, taciturn but funny, dependable and highly intelligent, with a large reservoir of patience and, at this moment, a book about machine learning on his nightstand.

So, that's actually pretty awesome.  I mean, it is awesome in a sarcastic way that my mother and everyone else was right and that all that time I spent looking under metaphorical dating-world rocks and dating the metaphorical slugs I found there in the hopes that one of them would magically metamorphose into PPP was more or less wasted, except that maybe I got some good blog posts out of it.  But also, it is actually really awesome to find someone you're excited about seeing every morning and night for the next - hopefully - fifty years.  You people probably mostly already know that.

Anyway, after that long preamble - which as always, takes up the entire blog post - I will explain why I am (possibly) back: like I said before, I am getting married.  Now, getting married is a very serious thing to do, and most of the issues it raises are too personal to be aired here.  But I am not just getting married, I am having a wedding.  More to the point, I am planning a wedding.  A planning a wedding is... well, it's a lot.  It's exciting and a lot of fun, but it's also occasionally emotional or stressful.  And it's definitely hilarious.  

So - assuming anybody's stuck around this long, and assuming I stick around to write more posts - my little Thesis Blog, which I started eight years ago to chronicle the writing of my thesis and has since then recorded - with varying intensity - the earning of my PhD, new cities and three new jobs, one thousand dates and a handful of relationships, two marathons, and any number of sarcastic remarks, is now, for a few months, going to be a wedding-planning blog.  

Amazingly, the ceiling did not fall in when I typed that.