Archive for August, 2011

Liminal thoughts

If there is one thing wedding planning is making me realize, it’s that I’m taking another step into a space outside my nuclear family. I never felt that happening with so much clarity. Not when I moved out (and didn’t even come home for the weekends, *gasp*), or became completely financially dependent, not when I moved in with Beloved, or sold my house alone, not during the growing pains and fights of puberty. Not when severely depressed and feeling like no one in the world would ever care about me. But now.

Now that Beloved and I have made this decision (that has landed us with the largest amount of societal approval we had never expected  to gain), it feels as if I’m also burning a bridge. I’m taking a step that cannot be reversed and it’s a step away from the people who have been my Most Important People (MIPs) ever.  I can’t say it’s not a little scary, even though I won’t be alone. There is a new MIP for me. And he is crossing his own bridge and we’ll meet on the other side to start our bridge-burning bonfire together.

I suppose it’s no more than normal that in the liminal moment of becoming a new family, there is this massive pile of ritualistic organizing that needs to happen in which both my and Beloved’s MIPs need and want and deserve to be closely involved. Beloved and I have decided to a sort of ‘team leader-approach’ with our MIPs. It’s mostly a ‘communications manager-approach’, though, where we cc each other in e-mails or brief each other about conversations we’ve had and discuss our responses to anticipated questions and demands.

Anyway.. On Saturday, for the first time in a couple of months, I had a few hours to spend with my mom. She talked about finding a balance between letting us do what we wish while not wanting to appear disinterested, and saying what she thinks would work while not trying to prescribe anything. I talked about ‘owning’ things, and about how new it was to say no to them regarding matters in which I represent and protect Beloved’s interests and emotions. It was nice to be able to be so open and just directly explain that while I want to make them feel included and honored, they may get less of a say in what is happening that they were previously used to.

Certain decisions I explained to my mom by juxtaposing traditions from our culture with US ones, saying that sometimes we’d pick this country’s option, while choosing the other country’s tradition another time. Then, we’d abandon tradition altogether for the third item on the list.

This is why they’re more than welcome to help us with our large local reception (date as of yet unannounced) while his parents throw the smaller US reception in February. In defiance of both US and local customs, the father of the bride does not pay for the ceremony; Beloved and I will host everything on November 25. True to tradition, Beloved does not get to see my outfit until right before the ceremony (I’m planning to arrange a ‘first look’), but he (and the present family) will not come to pick me up at my parents’ house, if I can avoid it. I don’t think there will be any cake, let alone cutting it, either.

I’m proud that we’ve made it until 88 days before the wedding and no one has even come close to raising their voice about  any wedding planning. Except me, maybe, when I said YES!! when our photographer said that despite the problems at home, he could still come to ‘shoot’ our wedding. That’s different 🙂

What to wear..

So, Saturday was “Visit Designer Uncle Day”. I love him for the offer of making me an outfit (and I loved him regardless because he’s my uncle and he’s creative, a genius fashion designer who is bad at business and crazy and gay and my mom’s twin brother and.. well.. ) He is also pretty good at what many of my feminist friends would call ‘body policing’. And ever since the day where he greeted early-twenties-me with “Wow, your thighs have gotten enormous!”, I’ve been a bit weary of his remarks. Still, he made me a floor length, zebra print prom dress back in the day which stunned everyone (me included) and I have full faith in his ability to create something for me that makes me awesomely-stunning-me-with-a-bridal-touch, and not unrecognizable-me-in-an-uncomfortable-overly-feminine-pile-of-tulle.

So, we went, my mom and I. And uncle said he had a hard time making sense of the pictures I sent him because some were ‘hardcore-powersuits’ and them some were ‘completely romantic’, adequately capturing my dilemma with Google Picture search. I want a bit of a powersuit and a bit of romance, a dash of genderbending flair and a bit of showing off my thunder thighs, childbearing hips, awesome waist line and recently-developed-thank-you-for-two-cupsizes-IUD-tits. And a hat. Because damnit, there is not a hat in the world that looks bad on me and what better opportunity to wear an awesome hat than at the wintery wedding of the most awesome man in the world and me. He’ll be wearing one too. Cuz that’s how we roll.

Anyway. Uncle drew me stuff and we talked and I vetoed some things and proposed others and we came to an agreement and I think it will be awesome. I’m not going to tell you guys precisely what I’ll be wearing, but I’ll give one spoiler. Before the fitting of the ‘toile’, I need to have a pair of purple boots. That’s right. I’ll be getting married in purple boots. And it will be glorious and and beautiful and a little painful and I will love the man forever (and hug him and pet him and squeeze him and call him husband!).

Grateful Dead and The Rockies..

A few months back, while we were in the middle of watching Ken Burns’ wonderful documentary about the American national parks, it coincided with a period in which I listened to a lot of Johnny Cash.

Recently we’ve started Burns’ series on The West, while simultaneously I have ‘discovered’  the joys of the Grateful Dead.

These juxtapositions are so very interesting. While they are based on coincidence, they make it easier for me to understand each part. Seeing the wilderness and the untouched lands, makes it easier to understand the background of (almost) lawless freedom against which certain of Cash’  songs play. I can (sort of)see how the wildness of the land created the type of people that he sings about.

It’s the same with the Grateful Dead and the American West. They both convey this sense of endlessness, and space and (at the same time) very deep isolation.

It’s easy to find these things appealing in songs and gorgeous film, of course. And I’ve also seen a glimpse of the downside (or at least I think I have). With Cash and the National Parks I saw it in the Wild and Wonderful Whites of West-Virginia, a documentary in which the ideal of self-sufficiency, the sense of limitless freedom and a certain ‘untouchable’  quality make a family seem dysfunctional to the eyes of the authorities and all those around them. I see it in friends who are smart and talented but never seem to be able to fight their way out from the circumstances they ended up in, because there is no trail to follow, no infrastructure to go from poverty to chance, from disfunction to growth.

I wonder if the US car culture is a symptom of what I would (personally) consider the downside of the vastness and the endlessness and the possibility for seclusion and isolation as seen in certain Grateful Dead songs and the imagery of the American West. Maybe I should even take it further, and say that the way the US (more so out West than in the East, but you see it even there) relates to space, utilizes space and (from an ‘old Europe’  point of view) even squanders space , is the downside in and of itself. It makes sense to not care about space, when you have so much of it. But in my two visits I have definitely experienced things simply no longer being built to a human scale, and that will be something I’ll have to get used to.  Maybe more Ken Burns will help 🙂

Naming laws – argh!

So.. I’ll be keeping my maiden name. I’m (as Beloved calls it) a very ” liberated woman”, by which he means I get angsty when I don’t get to pay 50% of everything (meaning that this wedding makes me want to go “AAaaaargh!!”  because I simply don’t have that money and while I do contribute, it’s not 50%), and that we share household duties, that I want a career, and do not meet a whole host of feminine stereotypes.

And all that has nothing to do with it :(. For the repeat visitors, you may have seen me announcing the opposite here. I had honestly planned to work around the legal bits regarding name use. I thought that ‘ using’  it, meant I could put his name on my passport. But I can’t. As long as I keep my own nationality, I will have my maiden name in my passport. And therefore also on all papers having something to do with US immigration. And therefore on my Green Card, once I get one, and on my US passport, should I get one of those.

Now had I had a different career, I wouldn’t have minded this whole ‘have one name but use the other’, but unfortunately is is very likely that I will have my name on a book somewhere soon. If I want people in my future career to find me (or rather, find all the awesomeness I have produced), I better make sure I only have one name. Mine, since I can’t get rid of it.

I’ve looked at ways to get around it, like doing another ceremony in the US (which would then let me change my name, meaning I could argue with my local authorities that I lost my maiden name, and they’d have to register me under his. Except that getting married in a way that is legal enough to change your name, becomes illegal once you’ve had a civil ceremony. And my government would simply refuse to acknowledge my losing my name, since I would still be  a citizen here, meaning that their laws apply, and not those from the US. I’ll need to contact the local authorities to undo the preference I indicated before I fully understood these laws. Meh.

I am sad. I don’t like it. My name just doesn’t work in English. Not my (informal) first name, meaning I’ll change that to what’s in my passport too and my last name just sounds completely stupid. The pronunciations makes no sense. And I don’t get to be Mrs. Hislastname, which is too bad because Hislastname is Awesomelastname and wel.. it’s his name, and I had planned to indulge myself regarding the few wedding/ marriage traditions that I value (as a reward for going along with all the ones I don’t give a rat’s ass about).

For comfort, I bought myself a 100 gram tablet of Swiss Finest Extra Noir. That makes everything a little better.

The moment has come

exactly 100 days before the ceremony, while sorting through venues for the reception in the US, Beloved uttered the fateful words..

“I wish we had eloped.”

I love that man. With a photographer who is now threatening to cancel on us (despite us offering a generous financial compensation on top of the agreement we had already made with him) and my mom continuously wanting us to come over to talk things through (what things? There are no things she needs to do, except show up on Nov. 25) and his brother who cannot even commit to telling us whether or not we should arrange a bloody baby sitter, and a venue search that is not helped by us knowing nothing about the city we need to find venues in, its no more than understandable that he experiences this sentiment. I wish I could give him a condensed version of the gallons of APWisdom I’ve soaked up without annoying him more, but the best I can do i leave him some time with a book (well.. and I bought him a Wii game as a 100 days until-present).

Anyway. Paraphrasing the man: we’re in it now, it will all be fine and in the end the receptions will be nice, even though we never really wanted them.

Can’t sleep..

I’ll blame it on jetlag. And maybe on the fact that there are no more “big” things happening between now and Getting Hitched Day and my mind is beginning to save most of it’s processing power for wedding stuff, leaving me wide awake, next to a sleeping Beloved (occasional tiny snores.. awww).

Yesterday, I drafted the document for the lawyers who will help us with the prenup. We also had an unexpected dinner-and-movie-date-night, during which we bounced more ideas off each other. A designer friend could maybe help us with a logo for the site (we’ll build) and the RSVP-business cards that we may choose to print to go with the invitation. A “first look” right before the ceremony. An idea for my haircut. A draft guest list for the US reception. Wanting to find a slightly ‘edgy’ poetry reading for the ceremony.

I have yet to bring up vows – judging by how much of a sweet talker Beloved is, I think he’ll like the idea of making our own.

Oh, and tomorrow I will call Uncle Fashion Designer for an appointment to get my measurements taken. Mom said she’ll come with. I’m curious what ideas he’ll have and I have decided that since I don’t have to pay, it does not need to be something I would or could wear again. Ha!

102 days to go!

Pre-nup, final stages

Before we left, we had our big pre-nup conversation. Remember, I was so nervous about it? It wasn’t all that necessary, of course, but it taught me thing or two regardless.

Beloved and I in fact have very similar styles regarding money (he has a lot more of it, is all) and share most of our views on responsibilities and contributions. It’s now my task to make a single document out of both our answers to the list of questions, and format everything in such a way that a legal expert can work it into a binding format.

I’m pretty damned happy with the outcome (and will pay down 50% of my student loans later today, just because I’ve saved enough to do so, and that way it won’t get ‘ on the books’  for the pre-nup.

Post-holiday post

As sort of predicted by my last contribution here, I went underground for a while. Long enough to travel to Michigan and Colorado (with a tiny detour through Wyoming) and get some high intensity interaction with the Beloved  as well as jetlag (twice). I didn’t even bring a laptop. I loved it!

The dreaded family reunion was intense, but rather lovely. Everybody made me feel very welcome, and seemed to be very enthusiastic about our future plans. It has been very interesting to see more of his ‘nest’ than just his parents, especially because I finally got to meet his brother. There also was a whole host of cousins, so me and my sister-in-law-to-be (the wife of Beloved’s brother) and I benefitted greatly from a family tree Beloved drew for me. In the best of traditions, we stuck it on the fridge and looked it over frequently.

Anyway. I think the ‘clan’  has welcomed me in and we seem to get along well, for which I’m grateful.

This visit has also made certain parts of wedding planning easier. Beloved’s parents requested if they were allowed to throw the reception in the US for us. We would get a say in the location and guest list as well as some other important aspects, but they would arrange (and pay) everything. We said yes. Which means we’ve now decided (roughly) on a time frame (somewhere between late January and early March 2012), have indicated a preference for a location (the Kennedy School in Portland, OR – we have a local aunt to thank for mentioning this) and are currently working on a guest list.

Oh, and no sit down dinner or formal dress code. *yay*

As to the ceremony here, it seems like Beloved’s brother will bring both wife and child to our country. I’m really happy to have them, especially since I get along with his wife well, but I really do wonder why they’re doing this to their toddler. They’re planning to come over for four days. The time difference is more than six hours. The flight will most likely be a more-than-eight-hours-long-red-eye. The ceremony and subsequent activities are in no way even remotely kid-friendly (meaning that, since I know she does not want to leave the kid with a sitter, sister-in-law will not be present for at least a part of the goings-on). I feel bad for the kid, who will have his entire rhythm messed up and will be put through little-kiddie-hell on a plane. I feel bad for my sister in law because she’ll be stuck with a fussy toddler in a strange environment and will miss out on a lot of interaction because of it. And, last but not least, I feel bad for Beloved and I. Even during the best of times we don’t qualify as kid-friendly people. It will be tough to stay understanding towards the little one’s antics when we’re the ones who (feel like we) deserve the spotlight, and tougher to deal with the constant noise and attention seeking when we’re stressed to hell and back with the enormity of what we’ll be doing.

We’ll see, I guess.

On another note – we have rings. Due to the dollar course and the tax situation as well as the cost of labour and real estate, jewelry is a whole lot cheaper in the US. And so we got ourselves a set of lovely, utterly simple wedding bands. *squee* Honestly, the sales lady first pointed out the men’s section, which had plenty plain and simple bands. Then she went to the ladies’ section which was sparkles and shiny all over.

I guess she sold me a men’s ring, but who gives 🙂