Monthly Archives: July 2010

Before & l’After

When I was a kid, I went to a memorial service for a man who died way too young. During the service, a monk stood at the podium and chanted, low, rhythmic, droning, and long. The man’s two young daughters sat near me. At one point during the chant, they both started to giggle, and I recall a few adults looking over towards them, with a mixture of surprise and quiet smiles.

I remember being struck by that, by the girls being able to laugh during a memorial service for their own father. I think of that moment from time to time; it’s one of the best examples I know of from my life of the power of laughter and the healing effects of humor.

Humor is an extremely important piece of my life. I make jokes all the time; I look for humor everywhere. It’s a significant piece of my identity. Jessica and I work so well in no small part thanks to how much we make each other laugh. Moreover, I revert to humor during difficult times, sad times, and serious times. Sometimes it doesn’t fit. Sometimes it’s exactly what was needed.

Jessica and I watched this video last night, of a bride and groom up at the altar who cannot stop laughing after the best man’s pants fall down at an inopportune moment. They get a serious case of the giggles – especially the groom – and they just won’t go away. Many of you in wedding-blog-land have probably seen it, but it’s worth another watch:

I love it so much, for a couple reasons. One, I’ve had the unstoppable giggles many times, usually in some sort of situation where it’s caused a lot of awkwardness, like in class. I’m sure everyone’s experienced it before – you start laughing, and for whatever reason, it’s impossible to stop. You look at the floor, you close your eyes, you think of something horribly sad. At a certain point, you think it’s all over. And then it starts again.

Two: it happened during the culminating portion of the ceremony – the vows. The groom gets the giggles, he gets them bad, and the bride has them too. So does the best man, seen wiping the tears from his eyes. For a little while it seems to straddle the line between hilarious and semi-inappropriate, until you realize it’s THEIR wedding. It’s going to make for a great story – “when we got married, Bob’s pants fell down, and your mom and I got the giggles and just couldn’t stop.”

Weddings, in a lot of ways, are pretty hilarious. Everyone gets dressed up and eats fancy food. Then there’s dancing, and a giant cake. And to recognize the hilarity in that, even if it’s involuntary, is pretty excellent.

The Glasses Half Full

My sister Katy and I hung out the other night, topping off our evening with a viewing of the motion picture Predators. She and I used to go see bad horror movies together all the time; we don’t do it much anymore, but from time to time it helps keep us young. Or something like that.

Also, let’s be clear: Predators is not actually a bad movie. I daresay, in fact, that it’s close to being a good one, if you keep your expectations at the right level. Though it’s by all accounts a modern movie, parts of it feel like a throwback to late 80s/early 90s action films; brawny dudes exchanging wisecracks, shooting big guns, and being dispatched in ridiculously gory ways, with a token badass woman and a grouchy, misunderstood, more-to-him-that-it-seems-at-first hero. The movie takes place on another planet and is sort of a sci-fi/horror “The most dangerous game,” with Topher Grace as a weird/nerdy/probably-miscast doctor and Lawrence Fishburne as an even weirder crazy dude. People fall out of the sky and have no idea where they are. There’s a “good” predator. The sun doesn’t move in the sky. There are creepy horned “dogs.” It’s a lot of fun.

On our way to the theater, Katy asked me if I was going to wear contact lenses for my wedding. I thought about it, scratched my chin, made a “thinky” face, and eventually replied that after several months of deep internal debate, I simply don’t know.

I got my first pair of glasses at a very young age – maybe as young as 4? – and have had pretty bad eyesight ever since. After my first pair, I wore the exact same kind of frames until I was a teenager, and for some reason I’ve kept them all – I have a drawer in my bedside table with increasingly large glasses. It wasn’t until four or five years ago that I finally got myself a “stylish” pair of pseudo-hipster glasses, and it wasn’t until a few months ago that I picked out a pair all by my little self. I was pretty proud of that, actually. I get a lot of compliments on the frames. “What, these ol’ things?” I usually say.

Me looking devilish in my very first pair

My second pair, or at least one of the many iterations of it over the years. Please note: Katy's glasses are amazing.

Towards the end of high school and all the way through college, I wore contacts every day. I’d decided I’d had enough of having a plastic contraption on my face that slid off when I was sweaty and discouraged sharp peripheral vision, among other drawbacks. But after college, I just stopped wearing them. I don’t know if it was laziness, the constant irritation in my eyes, or the combination, but now I only wear contacts for me weekly softball games and the occasional athletic event I participate in.

My first "hip" frames.

What I said to Katy was this:

“For a while, I was sure I’d wear my glasses for my wedding. My glasses are way more “me” than my contacts. Everyone is used to me wearing them. But then I started thinking about that, and realized that that rationale doesn’t make a lot of sense: the entire wedding is not very “me” at all. I’ll be wearing a suit – or at least fancy clothes – which I rarely ever do. I’ll be proclaiming my love for a hot babe in front of 150 people, which I do rarely, if ever. I’ll be spending $10,000 on one single evening, which sometimes seems so crazy I can’t even rationalize it. I may be baking 300 dinner rolls, which is about 10 times as many as I’ve ever made before.”

The point is, I shouldn’t wear or not wear glasses because it reflects my true self the best. In reality, I probably should just do whatever the heck I want, whatever feels the most comfortable to me.

My guess is that I’ll wear them, because I won’t have to worry about my eyes getting red or my contacts falling out. But then again, maybe I’ll wear them for the ceremony and then take them off for the dance-times.

I imagine all of you will wait with bated breath to find out what I choose.

Sincerely,

Bret

Movin’ Day

I won’t be posting today. Well – I guess this technically is a post. You got me there. But it will not be substantial. I’m moving today, or at least doing part one of a two-part move, and taking the day off work.

Today also happens to be our -1st Anniversary! Exactly one year from today we will be bejoindst in unholy matrimony. One whole year. It’ll fly by, I am sure.

We had breakfast this morning with our moving partner Drew, and decided that the traditional anniversary gift for the -1st is: Breakfast. You go out to a nice, leisurely breakfast. That’s your gift to each other. Wayyyy better than paper.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a post about:

Glasses!

Love,

Your friend,

Bret

Engagement Photos – A Teaser

Jessica and I have not taken any engagement photos yet. I don’t know what the typical timeframe is for engagement photos, but I’m hoping that since we’re still over a year away – one year tomorrow, in fact – we’re still ok. I mean, we don’t even NEED them, really. As much as I love them, and as much as I want Jessica and I to have them, they strike me as a little odd sometimes. They’re a part of the engagement/wedding process that really screams HEY LOOK US US WE’RE SO DAMN CUTE AND WE HAVE THE PICTURES TO PROVE IT.

But at the same time: look at us! We’re so damn cute! And soon, we’ll have the pictures to prove it.

Weird how that works.

At the very least, we have started to discuss what we want out of our engagement photos, and moreover have chosen our photographer: esteemed friend, world-class photographer, fellow punster, and Best Man Drew.

Our basic idea thus far is this: we’d like our engagement photos to reflect, in some way or another, our first few dates. Here is a quick rundown of those dates:

#1 – A’s game, which I posted a little about here and more about here. We went to EZ-5, a weird little bar near out old office, and headed off to the game on Bart. It was a great first date. Jessica would later claim that she knew instantly we were a great match, though I am skeptical. But I cannot verify my skepticism. I like to tell her “I knew and loved you before I met you,” quoting that very odd and frankly creepy tune by Savage Garden.

#2 – Went out to the Inner Sunset, the neighborhood in San Francisco I used to live in, and walked around. We ended up in a beautiful garden-y area outside the De Young Museum, I asked her if I could kiss her, and she said yes. So, I did.

We had dinner at Cafe Gratitude, a raw/vegan restaurant that specializes in a weird pseudo-cult-like atmosphere of weird new-wave weirdery, with weird art and sayings everywhere and a menu full of items like “I am beautiful” (an orange creamsicle milkshake), “I am a hero” (noodles with sauce), and “I am honoring” (nachos). The food is good, though, and we had a fantastic time. Actually, we always have a fantastic time whenever we hang out.

#3 – Had dinner at a funky little sushi place in the Castro colloquially known as “no-name sushi” even though I think it does technically have a name. Afterwards I visited her place for the first time and met many of her 6 roommates.

#4 – Jessica came out to Berkeley on a Sunday and we went to the Steam Trains:

The steam trains, for those who don’t know, are perhaps the absolute most fun thing you can do in Berkeley. It’s a little train, two seats wide, that winds its leisurely way through a small section of Tilden Park in the Berkeley Hills (not far from the Bridezilian Room where we are getting married). The conductor comes by and hole-punches your tickets, says “all aboard!”, and there’s even tunnels. If you’re ever in the bay area, you’ve just gotta go. I mean look at it:

We went back to my place and had Drew over for dinner, and if I recall correctly, I made potato pancakes with avocado and chicken. A grand time was had by all.

So – that’s the very general outline. We have a lot of options on how to incorporate those dates into¬† a photoshoot:

– Physically going to the locations and take photos there. Fun, but very time-consuming, plus some logistical issues.

– Recreating the dates with props and costumes, like in a field or a room something. Logistically easier with potential for hilarity.

– Using the magic of photoshop, do #2 but sort of pretend (although not really) that we’re doing #1 using backgrounds.

Brilliant readers: any brilliant suggestions?

Dreaming Of A Life Inside A Musical

A photo of me and Jessica around dinnertime last night

Jessica and I break into song with frightening regularity. All it takes is us both being in a good mood (frequent) and doing something even remotely fun together (common), and one of us will utter a phrase that sounds even a little bit lyric-like, and it’s all over. We often sing songs about making dinner, for instance. “Dinner, dinner, we’re just a coupla sinners, dinner, oh dinner, we’re just a coupla spinners.” Jessica in that instance would start spinning, see, and then I would. They’re usually total nonsense and accompanied by embarrassingly awkward dancing. “Is that the dinner song?” I might ask after we’re through. Jessica will nod smilingly.

We sang some sort of dinner song last night as Jessica made us an asparagus and potato frittata. We probably sang about frittatas. It was delicious. Earlier in the day, I’d made us burgers on Vital Vittles 9-grain bread with sauteed mushrooms and tomato and avocado, and needless to say*, they were fantastic. I think we sang a burger song.

*[Whenever I say “needless to say,” I always have the urge to just stop there. “Needless to say.” Pause. Blank stares. Shrugs. If there’s really no need to say it, why say it? Why must we always play by society’s rules?]

As we were fading off to sleep, she said to me, “you know, I only have three major life goals.”

“And what are those?”

“One, is to marry my beloved,” she began. “So, uh… check!” she said while making a checkmark gesture with her finger.

“Well, not yet,” I pointed out.

“Oh yeah,” she continued. “Two, is to get a puppy.”

“Ooh, good one.” She tells me about 5 times a day now that she has found the perfect puppy for us. She’s been writing papers for school and takes frequent “puppy breaks” to look at shelters online. Today, for instance, she proclaimed that we should get a cocker spaniel.

“And three,” she went on, “is to live my life inside a musical.”

She loves musicals. And though I may occasionally claim not to, I like them too. When my sister Katy and I were younger, we got to rent two movies on Saturday nights. For a fairly long time – years, maybe – Katy only rented musicals. All the classics, of course – West Side Story, The King And I, My Fair Lady, The Sound of Music, anything with Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers, and so on. Katy’s favorite was Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which she watched over and over and over again, about which I mainly remember (1) the famous barn-raising scene and (2) that one of the seven brides was named Dorcus, an unimaginably hilarious thing for a young boy. Looking it up on Wikipedia, it’s really kind of a crazy movie, ending with a 6-couple shotgun wedding. Also of note: it is loosely based on an Ancient Roman tale called The Rape Of The Sabine Women; but don’t worry, in this case the word ‘rape’ means ‘abduction.’

This morning, Jessica told me that she dreamed about our wedding. I didn’t really react much. Probably a “how ’bout that” for good measure. But then she kept talking, as she so often does. “It’s the first time I’ve dreamed about our wedding!” she exclaimed.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

“My God,” I said. “I never have! That’s the first time either of us have dreamed about it! What was the dream?”

“Well,” she said, “everyone forgot to do everything and it was a disaster.”

“Oh no!”

“But,” she went on, “it was awesome. It was a fantastic party and everyone had a great time.”

We both agreed that this was a good omen. Because you know what? Some things will go wrong. People will forget to do things. S**t will get f***ed, if you’ll excuse my language (and even if you won’t). But I’m sure we’ll have a great time.

And if everything goes wrong, well, we can always break out in song.

PS – Jessica made me bleep out the swears.

Woop Woop – It’s Date Night

This morning, Jessica dropped me off at the grocery store on her way to work so I could get myself a little mini baguette for breakfast, while she got herself her favorite drink: a soy chai. I put honey and butter on my little baguette and let me just tell you, it was delicious. It was still warm and it was sourdough and just forget about it.

As I strolled home, secure and happy in the knowledge that soon I’d be eating my baguette, I got a text from Jessica that simply said “Date night!”

I'm not going to see this movie

Despite the fact that she might have been driving when she sent that, which I do not condone, it further extended the smile on my face and I texted back “date night woop woop.”

We don’t usually go out for date night. I get myself a nice big beer, Jessica has a little beer or maybe some wine, and we watch a movie or a TV show or some baseball and just hang out. One or both of us make dinner, although given the size of our kitchen – and our different cooking styles* – we generally cook solo. Tonight, I’m making lemon chicken with broccoli, with perhaps a slice of homemade bread on the side. Jessica doesn’t even know this yet. We both just read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and we’re going to watch the movie tonight. Did you know that in Swedish, the book title translates to Men Who Hate Women? That’s a far more apt title. That’s pretty much what the book is about.

*[Generally speaking, Jessica likes to follow the recipe closely, and I’m more of a “wild man” in terms of directions. “We don’t REALLY need basil in this sauce,” I might say, whereas Jessica wouldn’t dream of omitting it if the recipe calls for it. On the other hand, every once in a while, when the moon is full and Venus is in its fifth house, for no discernible reason she will just go crazy-nuts and replace every ingredient of a recipe with another. Like these meatballs one time. She replaced tomato paste with ketchup, which normally would be totes cray-cray. I don’t remember what else she did but the final product was a shell of its former self. They were delicious, of course. She’ll probably deny this but it’s iron-clad, unvarnished truth.]

I’ve been cooking a lot recently, mostly because I’ve been on a health kick. I made balsamic chicken with mushrooms last week. I’ve been steaming chard. Last night, I made us some burgers.

“But Bret,” you say, “Burgers are not what I would consider healthy.” But I made them on Vital Vittles 9-grain bread, toasted, with lean beef and sauteed mushrooms and tomato and my god they were delicious. The night before, at Drew’s house before we saw Inception*, we ate sauteed chicken on some of my homemade bread with some raw bell pepper on the side.

*[I liked Inception. But I have to say, during the meat of the story, where’d all the cool dream stuff go? The bending buildings and cool locations? Why did they stop doing that during the hour-long climax?]

By the way, I haven’t really been posting about weddings much recently. This likely coincides with the fact that we haven’t been doing much planning. But I assure you that coming up I will actually post about the things I’ve been promising to post about, like engagement photos and photobooths and my groomsmen and all that. This is a wedding blog, after all, so I imagine my readers thinking, “Yo! Goober! Where’s the wedding stuff?”

In conclusion, have a great weekend, and always remember:

I think you’re great.

Really.

Really great.

Love,

Bret

Me Bret, Me Write Post

On the 4th of July, sitting around a fire in the freezing, damp July air, it was somehow suggested that I write a post on this blog in the style of a caveman who also happened to be a wedding blogger. I really can’t recall how it came about, but my eyes widened as I dreamed of making it a reality. Jessica caught sight of those eyes and bit her lip.

“I’m really gonna do it, you know,” I warned her.

“Oh, baby, no,” she said lovingly but a little warily.

“Baby, yes,” I replied. She raised a skeptical eyebrow.

So I sat down and tried it. I sat at my computer with coffee and a bowl of Kashi “Good Friends” cereal with milk and strawberries. I used to eat Kashi Go-Lean Crunch, which is fantastic, but I switched to Good Friends recently for a change of pace. It has a picture of two smiling people on the box, two people who are evidently Good Friends with each other due to the transformative power of cereal. Jessica is now in the habit of mocking my cereal choice, claiming that Good Friends is a ludicrous name for a breakfast food made of puffed grains and honey, but I cheerfully ignore her and carry on.

I got about this far:

Today hard day. Me hunt mammoth. No one tell me mammoth so big! I all like, whoa! Mammoth hella big! No dinner tonight. Jessica angry. Sleep on separate dirt piles tonight. Cry softly into rock.

12 moons in future: me Jessica marriage! Me: happy. Love Jessica. But, blogging every day hard! Why I start blog? Why Jessica say “Bret, you write blog! All cavebride do it. No cavegroom do. Popular! Fun! Famous! Different!” Why I listen? Why? Is me so powerless against woman-folk?

Internet slow today. Internet slow EVERY day.

Then I stopped. And frankly, I think we can all agree that me stopping was the best thing I could have done that at point.

Jessica and I decided yesterday that we sorely need to get back into wedding planning. We’re hemming and hawing over a photographer that we really want to hire but still have to make sure we can fit into our budget. We have a venue. We’ve decided we’re not using a caterer, and we’ve picked our bridal and groomal parties. Flowers are semi-planned, and a friend is making us beer. We’ve tossed around ideas about food.

But that’s it, really. There’s so much to do. Food. Registries. Linens. Tableware. Music. DIY photobooth! (post upcoming).

I keep saying we have over a year. But by next Wednesday, that won’t be true anymore.

We gotta get crackin’.