Friday, January 29, 2010

Jeans, jeans, the magical fruit

I attended a wedding this weekend in which the groom wore jeans and an untucked shirt. 

The father-of-the-bride wore jeans too. And so did all if the guests except me, the bride, the mother-of-the-bride and a little girl in a black tu-tu.

Untucked, Cowboy thought to himself.
Jeans? I thought aloud.

I wasn't so much appalled as I was intrigued.

I've only attended three North Dakota weddings, so I can't say what a traditional one looks like. But much to my despair and all I thought was right in the world, I think more weddings should come dressed in jeans. Or untucked shirts. Or tu-tus. Whatever. 

Because while weddings are a formal occasion, a marriage is not. If anything, a marriage should be the most informal relationship a person has.

informal |inˈfôrməl|adjectivehaving a relaxed, friendly, or unofficial style, manner, or nature 
Formalities in marriage should be as unfamiliar as a Big Mac on a Hilton sister. You need to wear a retainer at night? Sexy. Your first kiss was with your cousin? Weird, but I love you anyway. You need to cuddle? Take my arms. 
This relationship, bound by law, expects devotion, honor and protection of another, until death parts. So even on PMS days, low-income days, rectum-spasm days and bad-hair days, two people, previously unrelated, make a promise to love and to hold, through good times and bad. It's a formal commitment in an informal relationship, to love a person for exactly who they are and how they may change, forever and ever. 
The person you marry should see you without makeup, and tell you you look better without it. She should accept your beer belly, but take you for walks and cook you steamed vegetables anyway. A marriage is a union between two people, who they are, who they were and who'll they'll become. 
Maybe we get over our marriage fears by dressing them up in things borrowed and blue. 
We grow up in a society where it seems "weddings" are not only synonymous with, but more important  than, the marriage itself. Like, we may spend our entire savings account, but I'm sooo having ice sculptures of fairies and lilly pads at my wedding. And I want orchid center pieces and a midget DJ too. They represent who we are as a couple. 
If a wedding is synonymous with marriage and who two people are as a couple, mine would come dressed in pointy toed shoes in mid-January, or... pajama pants when I get off work at nightfall. We'd listen to Christina Aguilera, dance the Cupid Shuffle and feast on mom's homemade peanut butter balls.
Now that's something to celebrate. 
To be clear, I'm not against weddings and I'm not against marriage. I'm just against the Hallmark-ization that comes with celebrating two people who chose to partner their parenting skills and checking accounts with each other. 
Everyone is entitled to the wedding of their dreams, and the day is, in fact, special. Celebrate the love, celebrate the forged family and celebrate the opportunity to visit with people you only hear from on Christmas cards. 
I'm not saying throw out your top hats and turtledoves, I'm just saying the celebration is a day. But the marriage is a lifetime. And if you're lifetime is dressed in jeans, why should your wedding be any different?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A little joke: and N.D.'s the butt

I got this in an e-mail today. These are my faves:

You might live in North Dakota if:
* you carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend knows how to use them
* your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a deer next to your blue spruce
* you install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked
* 'Vacation' means going east or west on I -94for the weekend
* you see people wearing camouflage at social events (including weddings)

None are funny, but all are true :)

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On the fritz cuz my car is a ditz

Vinny died, but my co-workers weren't ready for his funeral.

Experts who heal the body are called doctors, but non-experts who heal the Volvo are called life-savers.

Cowboy and I made a plan Thursday evening, the night my car wouldn't start for the fourth time in as many weeks. But this time, Vinny was stubborn. Ignoring jumper cables they way I ignored my mother's pleas to clean my room, Vinny was cold, frigid and probably PMSing.

I'll replace the battery, Cowboy said, I'm sure that's all it is.

But what if it's not?

I'd agonized over a new car purchase for months. I've only done it once before, and by "done it" I mean my dad made all the calls, negotiations and even paid for it. I just had to test drive and sign. I don't have that luxury now. I live alone, in a state in which I know no car dealers. Used car salespeople are almost as scary as a 40 degree day in January: you know it won't last. Plus, adding car payments to my budget is something my current job and the income from this blog ($5 since October :)  ) barely allow.

So Friday morning consisted of baking, blogging and feeling sorry for myself over coffee I'd made the morning before and reheated in the microwave (note the budget). Exposing my emotions through writing allows a catharsis no car trouble can defeat. I posted a blog that day, but I left out the part of me weeping, in the shower, the stream of water fusing with my tears.

It sounds so over-dramatic. Gain perspective, Katie. You could loseyourjob watchyourchilddie contractcancer and getsomerealproblems. But my shoulders heaved with the weight of automobile asphyxiation anyway. I was wallowing in a misery not even peanut butter balls could cure.

I avoided Cowboy's call Thursday evening. I wasn't ready for him to hear me with crybaby in my voice. But screening him seemed worse. He knew I was home. I'd just texted saying so. To not answer may have caused more explaining, more problems, more tears.

"I can help you, you're my girl," offering reassurance I didn't believe.

So when the phone rang Friday morning and caller ID announced a foreign number, I answered wearily.

"When are you coming to work? The tow truck's waiting for you," the caller said.

Excuse me?

"It's all ready to go," she said. "We just need your keys."

Not planning to work until the afternoon, I was un-make-uped and unprepared. In 15 minutes or less, I juggled mascara with clean underwear, allowing just enough time to bag the cookies I'd made for all the co-workers likely to chauffeur me.

Within minutes, three colleges and myself (does standing there count as helping?) hooked a rope from Vinny to the truck, a redneck tow typical of foreign cars, co-worker said. Foreign cars are shit, she advised. They have hooks on both ends because they're towed so often.

Not offended, I begged her not to hook it, just ram Vinny, I thought. Ram him until his white paint bleeds.

So Vinny was placed in timeout, AKA, the office garage, where I embarrassed him in front of his peers, insulted his mother and kicked the front wheel tire. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. How dare you defy me make me cry? 

In the garage, another co-worker hooked up his battery charger and Vinny's block heater. In minutes, my car was warm, fuzzy and sucking on battery charger like breast milk in a bottle. I'm almost felt bad. You're OK Vinny I nurtured, patting his rear view mirror and stroking his bruised bumper, you'll feel better. 

On the third hour, Vinny's battery charged and I'm not kidding, the car ROSE FROM THE DEAD. I need some eggs and a bunny, it's freaking Easter around here.

By the end of the work day, my car not only defrosted, but started too. STARTED. And even though I thought my problems were over, the giving was not. One co-worker phoned his dad, an auto-mechanic by trade. What do you think she should do? he asked.

I don't know, what kind of oil does she use? he offered.

I shook my head. Canola for baking and olive for sautéing?

Another co-worker's finance with two kids of his own, skipped Friday night daddy-bonding time to clean Vinny's lines and test for additional deficiencies.

What do I owe you? I asked, a question typical of North Dakotans after someone jumps their car, gives them a ride or a push through knee-deep snow.

Nothing, he answered. Another North Dakota custom.

Sometimes people just like to do nice things, Cowboy said. They feel better helping someone than they do getting paid.

Well, not giving back makes my feelings of bad turn to worse.

So I'm going car shopping this weekend and making office-wide chili this week. If I can't fill my gas tank, at least I can fill the bellies of people who can.

Friday, January 8, 2010

death be to volvo

Vinny's dead. Again.

And just when I feel like beating my head against the $839 CAT and $430 O2 censor I just bought him (whatever those are) I feel I can't complain. Sure, current temperature here is 26 below, but the rest of the country is freezing too, albeit, in 26 above degree temperatures.

I'm frustrated with this weather and more frustrated feeling like it won't ever end. Snow lingered on cement-bottomed parking lots until JUNE last year, so reason beckons me to fear forever. I could take another week or two of the cold and snow, but if winter plans to stay until summer, then I plan to make like an ostrich and bury my head in sand... or peanut butter balls... whichever arrive sooner.

This year, however, I have three advantages.

1). Others across the country (except for Kevin Cleary who lives and Arizona, wears shorts to class and I hope has a huge ZIT on his nose) are experiencing the same. While the temperatures and snow accumulations differ, it seems winter is extreme for everyone this year. I find camaraderie in our shared struggle. If global warming exists, send it to North Dakota.

2). I've survived before. And even if this year is just as bad or even worse, I have experience and confidence to know I beat winter once, so this is just Round 2. Bring it, MoNa (my abbreviation for MOther NAture).

3). Although I'm related to no one within a 500-mile radius, I have co-workers, friends and neighbors who treat me like family. Need a ride? Need a jump start? They don't seem to mind lending a hand and in fact, they tell me things like we're "happy to help." The town/office/state is so small, I can ask one person for a jump and suddenly four people huddle around my car, attempting to test its battery.

It's a frustrating feeling when you can't transport yourself to the intended destination. Sure, I could walk, but my fingers would gangrene in the process. (26 below... hello) And then how would I write all these blogs about drinking Bailey's for breakfast, dicing deer testicles or imitating Foldger's coffee commercials?

Here's wishing you warm weather and cold drinks,

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