Jul 31, 2006

PG Tips Tea

The first time I had tea with milk I thought it tasted icky. I was raised in Southern California. Tea was supposed to be clear. Tea with milk was murky and icky. But there lot of things that seem icky the first time, and you end up loving them. Girls, you know what I mean: Yoga. Caviar. Outlet malls.

Good thing I had my "milky tea" initiation before college, because I took my junior year abroad in the UK, and that’s the only way one drank tea in the UK: with milk. The Brits in college didn't drink coffee, except for instant. If you got “proper coffee” it was out at a fancy dinner. And you only got one cup. This was the 1980s. Long before Starbucks.

In the UK you drank tea. It kept you warm, it kept you awake, and it kept you social. I arrived at this teeny liberal arts college in London, made friends with a group of Brits in a church club, learned to drink tea, and I was set. Weekends we did pub crawls but weeknights we went on tea crawls, from one person’s dorm room to the other, dragging along their electric kettles, a pint of milk and a box of tea bags. And it was always PG tips.

I know you Americans may think “tea is tea,” because you’ve been ruined by Lipton. I don’t know why Queen Victoria bothered to knight him Sir Thomas Lipton. Maybe because he found a way to export the crappy tea out of England. Americans are used to the crappy Liptons, or the overrated Twinings, or Celestial Seasonings passion flower/cranberry zinger/lotus blossom/eco harvest. That’s not tea, that’s what your lawnmower ran over.

Tea and Caffeine

If you use the word “caffeine” as a generalized word for stimulant then yes, tea has caffeine in it. But Caffeine comes from the bean of a coffee plant. Coffee: Caffeine. But tea comes from the leaf of a camellia bush. It’s not a fruit or a bean, it’s a leaf. The chemical structure of a camellia leaf and a coffee bean are different. Both are stimulants, but they are not the same. And they affect people differently.

For me, coffee stimulates me physically. It wires me, it makes my nerve endings light up. It enervates me and constricts my blood vessels which raises my blood pressure and heart rate and makes me feel awake. It’s great. Which brings up a point: it’s not just the caffeine: it’s the sense memory association of groggy, tired, coffee smell and taste, wake up, blood pressure up, life is good.

Tea stimulates me mentally. The buzz is more subtle, and affects my brain more than my body. Tea never makes me jittery. It only makes me feel awake and humming.

Which brings up another thing. Tea is the drink of afternoon visits, friends, sitting down for a visit to chat.. There’s a british expression, “A nice cuppa tea and a sit-down.” That’s definitely a tea association for me: sitting down with friends. Or sitting down to the computer to write. For me, tea is social, and creative.

PG Tips Tea
PG Tips is the best selling brand of tea in Britain. And there’s a reason. It’s just so good. I'm not sure why PG Tips is so good. PG says 's because they only harvest the top two new-growth leaves on the bush, or the tips. PG Tips is strong and full, but It won’t get bitter on you. If you brew it right. If you don’t know how to brew tea, Tips will still be better than the refuse you’re used to drinking. But you need to know how to brew tea.

Brewing Tea

First of all, you must BOIL your water. It needs to boil to get the best flavor. Think of that wimpy coffee machine at work that spews tepid water and weak coffee. Same with tea.

Pour boiling water into your teapot (or cup). Swirl it around so the cup/pot is heated. Dump that water out. Add our tea bags. Bring the water back to boil and pour new boiling water into the cup/pot.

Let it steep 3 – 5 minutes. Stir so the water can get in and around the leaves.

DO NOT dip your bag for 30 seconds til you get what you think is the right shade. Tea needs HEAT and TIME to develop the whole range of flavor Think of your tea like a Polaroid. It needs time to develop the mid tones and the edges. Better to get an overly dark cup of tea in five minutes ( you can add hot water) than the right shade but wrong color in 30 seconds.

After five minutes, take the bags out so it doesn't get bitter. If you cover the pot with a "tea cozy" it'll stay warmer.

Pouring Tea
In Britain, one person “plays Mum” and serves the tea to everyone. Typically Brits put the milk in first, then the tea. Add sugar if you want.

Brits don’t put milk in Earl Grey. It's supposed to be drunk for the Bergamot flavor, which gets masked by milk. But whatever, Brits have a rule for everything. One morning I was eating breakfast when my British roommate giggled.
"You're eating your breakfast back to front.”
"I’m doing what?”
"You've eaten your grapefruit first. You're supposed to eat your toast first, then the grapefuit to clear the palate."
"And then go outside and smoke a Rothmans?"

Put milk in your Earl Grey if you want.

Just make sure you use boiling water, warm the pot or cup first, and let it steep for at least three minutes.

Give yourself the gift of a box of PG Tips, a nice tea cup, and a good half hour to really enjoy. Add a scone, a friend, and Bob’s Your Uncle, you've got yourself a nice cuppa tea and a sit down.

Here are some famous quotes about tea …

But we had a kettle; we let it leak:
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven't had any tea for a week...
The bottom is out of the Universe.
~Rudyard Kipling

If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you.
~Gladstone, 1865

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.
~Billy Connolly

You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
~C.S. Lewis

Now if you think I've been persnickety about the making of tea, read what George Orwell wrote about it back in 1946 ....

A Nice Cup of Tea
By George Orwell
Evening Standard, 12 January 1946.

If you look up 'tea' in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.

This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

* First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase 'a nice cup of tea' invariably means Indian tea.

* Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.

* Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.

* Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.

* Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.

* Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.

* Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.

* Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.

* Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.

* Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.

* Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Some people would answer that they don't like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one's ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.

Jul 27, 2006

Writing The Vows. I'm gonna do WHAT?

Martin: Larry, will you have Susan to be your wedded wife, to live together in the covenant of faith, hope, and love according to the intention of God for your lives together in Jesus Christ? Will you listen to her inmost thoughts, be considerate and tender in your care of her, and stand by her faithfully in sickness and in health, and, preferring her above all others, accept full responsibility for her every necessity for as long as you both shall live?

Larry: Sure.

Martín kept reading while Larry and I snickered quietly to ourselves.

Don’t worry, it wasn’t the real thing, we were at our planning meeting. And tonight we had to go over the Order Of Service that Martín had emailed me, to see what we liked, didn’t like, etc.

Larry didn't want to do the read-through.
Larry: I’ll take a look and edit it later.
Susan: But we need to hear it out loud, for length.

Besides, I’d emailed him a different Order days before.
Larry: You want me to edit THAT? It’s massive!
Susan: I know. I’ve already edited down the first half.
He never touched it. I wasn't going to let him off the hook now.

So, here we were reading Martín's Order, or what I thought was his: meaning, he'd used it before and liked it. But tonight, the way he was tripping over the words, I wondered if he’d ever seen it before.

And that gave me hope. Because this Order was annoying. For one thing it was too long. I’m all for updating the thees and thous. But this modern version, for every thou they removed, they added back ten more words. And sappy ones at that. Wedding Buzz words like dreams, goals, potential, treasures, shared treasures, being each other’s treasure, maybe a search for buried treasure in there. And there was a long analogy about hands. “Hand in hand you step out in faith. Be firm in your commitment. Don't let your grip become weak. The hand you freely give each other is both the strongest and most tender part of the body…

The hand is the most tender? Whoever wrote that never had shiatsu.

Look ... if you are going to rewrite something beautiful and poetic that's worked for 500 years ... “with this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship…” you better do a dang good rewrite.

Here are two versions of the vows.

1: I, __, take you ___, to be my wedded (husband/wife), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, 'til death do us part.

2: I ___, take you ___, to be my (husband/wife), loving you now and as you grow and develop into all that God intends. I will love you when we are together and when we are apart; when our lives are at peace and when they are in turmoil; when I am proud of you and when I am disappointed in you. I will honor your goals and dreams and help you to fulfill them. From the depth of my being, I will seek to be open and honest with you. I say these things believing that God is in the midst of them all.

From the Depth Of My Being?
When I am proud of you and when I am DISAPPOINTED in you?

Nuh-Uh. Not in MY wedding.

Yeah, I was punchy. We all were. Larry and Doug started coming up with their own modernized version of the service.

“So like, are you into this?”
"Are you gonna be cool with this for a while?"
"Yo, I’m down with it."

They laughed pretty hard. We all did. But what was so funny? The ceremony and the vows meant something. Words have power in them. so why were we laughing?

Because we were scared! Because in five weeks, we were going to be saying these words in front of a hundred people, and we'd have to mean it!

When we were finally finished, asked Martín if he'd done this version often. No, he'd just sent it as a template.
Martín: I thought you were going to edit it!
Susan: Here's my edit: Wing it!

Martín was relieved. If those speeches were to listen to, they were harder to recite. With a straight face, anyway.

When the evening was over, Lar walked me my car. We were in Woodland Hills, where it had reached 119 F the previous day. Walking outside was like walking into a steam iron.

So how did all of that feel?
Um, weird
Yeah, weird.
Yeah, scary!
I am going to need time alone, you know.
Me too. Lots of it.
It’s important to keep our outside friends and activities.
Shaa! We can’t expect the other person to hang around every minute.
Of course not. I’m going to need serious time away from you!
I had a life before you came along!
For the last 20 years!

30 years!
Feel better?
Oh my gosh I love you.
Oh my gosh I love you so much.
I can’t wait to live the rest of my life with you.
Me too!
Minus the time alone.

Of course.
So, are you gonna be into this for a while?

Jul 24, 2006

Want to book an acting role?
Get married during the shoot

There’s an actor adage: Want to book a role? Plan a vacation.
To which I’ll add: Want to book a BIG role? Plan a wedding.

My friend Brian Godawa is helping rewrite a script for an indie film comedy. He recommended me to the producers. I had a blast in the audition. I kicked butt. They emailed me that they’d be talking to me soon. I emailed them back: my friend Catheryn is coming in to read for you. She also kicks butt. Catheryn did indeed audition, and she also kicked butt.

That evening the director called:
Director: we'd LOVE to have you on the film. But there are two crucial days of filming that the entire cast has to be available: August 26th and 27th.
Susan: Uh, I’m getting married on August 26th.
Director: How important is the guy to you? Come on, there are plenty of guys out there.
Susan: You never tried internet dating.
Director: (laughing) We’ll see if we can film around you on Saturday. We're thinking of casting your friend Catheryn in a part. How do you like working with her?
Susan: You kidding? We've done sketch comedy together, we do a monthly reader's show together. She’s hysterical.
Director: Great!!
Susan: She's also my bridesmaid.
Director: Could we hire stunt doubles?
Susan: For your movie or my wedding?

Catheryn assured them later: we can all work this out. It’s what we do.

Fantastic News! both Catheryn and I booked plum roles on this indie comedy. The script is really funny, the producers/directors are terrific. And we even know Brian, the writer.

Challenging News! I’m working Monday through Thursday before my wedding. I’ll be back to work Sunday morning. The Sunday morning after my wedding night, I’ll be out the door and on the set by 8 am.

Do the math.

Larry’s really got his heart set on having a barbecue later on after the wedding and reception. I want that communal moment where I can sit back with my friends and say, ‘wow, look what God has done.'

That's the Wedding Dilemma. You want to share this Wow moment with your friends. But if you’ve got lots of friends, that's a lot of Wows to rack up at a reception. Unless you have a Larry-style barbecue later! Brilliant! Whoever wants to schlep out to Woodland Hills deserves a grilled pork loin, a beer, and a Wow! moment with Larry.

BUT helloooooo, I’ve been waiting patiently, lo these months, to have my own wow with Larry. And if we're barbecuing late, and I gotta work on a movie early ... well, do the algebra.

I asked Brian to push for a LATE START on Sunday.
Maybe we could get you a conjugal trailer for the shoot? he suggested.

Dude, I've waited for the Wow moment. Not an Ewww moment. Pressboard and naugahyde on wheels is Ew.

Well, Jacob waited seven years for Rachel. Twice. Of course Larry and I are gonna enjoy our wedding night. But if you come to the barbecue, do me a favor: have your beer, your Wow, and get outta Dodge.

This ain't rocket science.

Jul 21, 2006

Somebody Tell Me Who Kanye West Is

Rap is "not my bag, baby," As Austin Powers would say. I'm too old and too white. But I recently saw Dave Chappelle's Block Party and it gave me new respect for the genre. The musicians were amazing. So were the rappers, when I could actually understand what they were saying. Blame it on the sound quality. And like I said, I'm too old and too white. But I got to watch Kanye West perform Jesus Walks. If Jesus is in rap, I'm all over it.

Here's an excerpt from Jesus Walks

I ain't here to argue about His facial features,
or here to convert atheists into believers

I'm just trying to say the way school need teachers
The way Kathie Lee needed Regis
that's the way y'all need Jesus
So here go my single dog, radio needs this!
They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, videotape
But if I talk about God my record won't get played -- Huh?
Well if this takes away from my spins
-- which will probably take away from my ends --
Then I hope this take away from my sins
And bring the day that I'm dreaming about
Next time I'm in the club everybody screaming out --
(Jesus Walks) ...
God show me the way because the Devil trying to break me down
(Jesus walks with me)
The only thing that that I pray is that my feet don't fail me now

(Jesus walks)
And I don't think there is nothing I can do now to right my wrongs

(Jesus walks with me)
I want to talk to God but I'm afraid cuz we ain't spoke in so long

We're playing that at my wedding reception
Get your whiteass freak on.

A Dream of Trees

My friend Ted Rooney and his wife recently left for Portland, Oregon, where Ted is from. Ted said they'll be gone for the rest of the year, maybe for forever. But Ted is a successful actor. How's he gonna act from Portlant, I wondered? "We'll come back down for pilot season. Or not."
Wow, Is this it for Ted and his art? Over and done?

It made Larry and I think about moving to Portland, where Larry is also from. Maybe in a few years. Maybe as soon as we no longer have to live here. When we can live wherever and come down when needed.

Because really, why live in LA? When "living" means being forced to look for affordable housing in Los Feliz, where it's all non-airconditioned coffee houses next to Muffler Shops next to urban decay. Or in Atwater Village (Los Feliz adjacent) where the "up and coming" areas are industrial warehouses and gangs. The beaches have good air quality. And unaffordable rents and horrible traffic gridlock.

Where are the places that have a sense of PLACE? Community? I know, you to have to create community. Our friends are stretched out from Long Beach to Monrovia to Koreatown to Culver City to Woodland Hills. The circumference of that circle is about 250 miles. Or, a $40 tank of gas. If you're driving a Prius.

There are those of "us,” and I’m thinking of the artists, who are forced to live in big cities because that's where the work is … cities that seem to squeeze the art out of the landscape and the art out of your soul.

My friend Anna, a despairingly beautiful writer (read her beautiful writing and you'll despair of your own talent), sent this poem to me.
"For us," she wrote.

A Dream of Trees
By Mary Oliver

There is a thing in me that dreamed of trees,
A quiet house, some green and modest acres
A little way from every troubling town,
A little way from factories, schools, laments.
I would have time, I thought, and time to spare,
With only streams and birds for company,
To build out of my life a few wild stanzas.
And then it came to me, that so was death,
A little way away from everywhere.

There is a thing in me still dreams of trees.
But let it go. Homesick for moderation,
Half the world's artists shrink or fall away.
If any find solution, let him tell it.
Meanwhile I bend my heart toward lamentation
Where, as the times implore our true involvement,
The blades of every crisis point the way.

I would it were not so, but so it is.
Who ever made music of a mild day?
One reason I loved Redeemer Church in New York, Pastor Kim Keller has a vision of WHY they were in the city. Not just to help people get by, but to give them a sense of purpose. That's what it comes down to. Purpose. I never wanted to live somewhere just because it was pretty or calm or affordable. My life has always been driven by a sense of calling and purpose.

That's one of the most amazingly wonderful things about Larry. He's got the same sense of calling and purpose in his writing, in his art, and his faith.

There are all these new superstars of the post-modern (pomo) church. Young and hip writers like Rob Bell whose bleached blonde curl makes me not want to read him, (which would be bad for me, because he's a great writer and speaker) ... Rob Bell can who can talk about quantum physics and how Genesis I is really Hebrew poetry and 20 somethings who don't remember rotary phones, they get him.

But what about all of us who grew up writing with a pencil and hitting puberty when Saturday Night Fever hit the movie theaters? The Baby boomers and the post boomers, we grew up thinking "God has a wonderful plan for my life" and if I just follow it, and read the Bible literally, my life will fall into place?

Here we are in our forties or fiftes thinking, "What the F happened?" Was it all a lie? Is the Bible even true, on any level? Did I just fall prey to a Christian marketing scheme, the way a bride gets suckered into buying a $10k dress she'll only wear once?

That's me. That's Larry. We're both stuck on figuring it out. Figuring out our faith, throwing out the dirty over-processed christianese bathwater and keeping the Baby Jesus. Just the real baby jesus. And we both are set on figuring it out and talking about it, writing about it, getting up on stage and performing it, publishing it on blogs and books, and living out a different kind of life.

I'm excited to be marrying Larry.
For now we'll dream of trees.
And write in a city that needs more of them.

When it's not cursing

Larry's sister Dianna sent us some funny pics from the net. File this one under "stop being so metaphorical."

Jul 19, 2006

Beautiful Blogosphere

I'm often horrified at the things that happen via the internet. child pornography, terrorists planning 9/11's. And then there's spam from China. The world's largest export of water, air and internet pollution.

But it's not all bad. Take the fact you don't have to to the library to research things like "weddings in under four weeks." Or you can find long-lost friends. (or they can find you).

And then there are the sites and blogs you just stumble upon. My blog host, blogger, posts notice when I publish a blog, and I get hits from all around the world. Or I can do a search on words like "emergent" or "emergent church" or "chocolate" or "Larry Wilson" and find all sorts of YUMMY Things.

Well another blogger found my blog in similar fashion, and I was delighted to find hers.

Joanna lives in Pennsylvania. She drives home from work through thick green woods, past Civil War battlefields and signs that say, "Local Honey." Here's an excerpt from her blog about a recent excursion off the beaten path.

I followed the signs off of the exit and into a gravel driveway lined with shelves and shelves of green and blue mugs, bowls, and plates. The little table of honey sat right in from of me. Right behind that table was a backyard and the residents of the house grilling their dinner with friends. A little boy, probably five years old, with a perfect ringlet of hair hanging from his dark pony tail greeted me happily, and told me that they were going to eat supper. I looked around and picked out my jar of honey. The boys father came over welcomed me. He is a black man with a wild mane of white hair springing in all directions from his head, but his eyes are kind and his words open. He says his wife is Japanese and could I tell by looking at his son. I mumble something about that I didn't really notice, and he answers by placing a plum in my hand. "For you" He says. He asks me where I am from. I tell him about the convention and he says he would like to homeschool his children. I tell him about classical education and that our program teaches Latin to elementary students.
"Latin" he says, "That's very interesting... Are you a Christian?"
"Yes, I am"
"Praise the Lord"
I smile. I pay for my honey and a cantalope, and he tells me about an intern he has this summer, who he is training in pottery. She is a pastor's daughter and an art major, but cannot draw, he tells me. She worried too much about what people thought of her, so he told her to stop shaving her legs and to learn about herself. How can you know who you are if you don't even know what you smell like? He said she has opened up like a flower and is drawing like a third year art student and singing out loud by herself with her guitar.

I listen and nod, like I am not the clean, white, often inhibited woman that I am. I think he notices this, and when his wife comes out and says that supper is ready, he says goodbye and turns toward the house with no further thought of me. I feel somehow dismissed. I want to say, "But I was an art student, and I was homeschooled, and I had the guts to actually pull off the highway and meet you!" But I get into my car and back out onto the road.

As I head back to the highway I take a bite of the plum and juice pours into my mouth and down my arm and onto my pantlegs. My tastebuds reel at the strength of the flavor, and I marvel at each bite. The pit of the plum I toss out the window just as I pull onto the enrance ramp, feeling that it is more fitting that it stay there, near it's home. The stickiness of my hands on the steering wheel reminds me of the stop all the way home.

Wonderful prose. Check out Joanna's Blog. But I warn you, you'll gazze at the photos of her hostas, the other lovely flowers around the old farmhouse in which she lives, and you might want to up and move out to the country.

A search on the word "emergent on Blogger connected me to an emergent church, in my own town, run by guys who play guitar and sport scraggly soul patches. Of course, Larry already knew them. And I found 20 something kids who dig TS Elliott and cigars. A few weeks ago Larry stumbled onto a guy's blog who wrote about silence. I emailed him how much I appreciated his blog, and he sent me some meditations he's been writing using Chrsitian spirituality and the 12 steps.

People can rag on the internet. Or get addicted to it and not accomplish anything. True, email has made us less likely to speak directly to someone. But they probably said that when they invented the phone. Or answer machines. Ah, remember answer machines?

It's a fine world out there. Sometimes you gotta surf the net to believe it.

Jul 18, 2006

Married in Six Weeks and No Location

I’m getting married in six weeks. We don’t have a location. We have at least 100 people coming, and we don’t have a location. It’s because we have over 100 people that we no longer have a location.

We have six weeks to find one.

I’m not worried. Everything about this relationship has moved quickly (if you don’t count the 21 years as a single adult, the bad relationships, the diseased theology, the therapy that it took to get over the diseased theology and bad relationships, to the point where I’m able to have a relationship at all). Then yes, it moved quickly.

We met online in December. Our first date was January 6th. By the end of March we knew. We got engaged in May. We didn't set the date until just four weeks ago. We sent out the wedding evite … yes EVITE ... only last week. We’ve got six weeks. We’ll find a location.

I think.

We once considered inviting just the immediate family. But I've got a big extended family, and I want them there. And we both have friends whom we consider family, and we want them there as well. These are the people who’ve known us all these years: who knew us single and broken and lonely, in bad relationships and broken and lonely. Or single and at peace with it and ready to face the end of life alone.

These are the people of our soul family who've known our stories, who've participated in them. The people who are part of the reason Larry and I got to this place. So we invited them all ... even the ones who live 3,000 miles away who couldn't take the time or money to come. We invited them because we consider them our family and part of our story and we'd want them here if they could've made it.

The thing is they’re coming. All of them. People as far away as Washington and Virginia and New York. They're coming.

But instead of shouting, "YAY HOORAY" we're screeching, "YIIIIIIIKES!"

Because up until last Friday, we were going to get married in Larry’s friend Doug’s back yard. You can’t fit 120 people into a back yard. Not for a sit-down barbecue, which Larry wanted to have. I didn't want to have a barbecue. The stress of it made me nervous.

Well then, what do you want to have? Larry asked.
And Debbie and Doug and Catheryn asked.
And the wedding planning books asked: what DO you want your wedding to look like?

My friend, actress Mary MacDonald is getting married in October, and she too is going through Wedding Planning hell. She's got a Wedding Planning for Dummies book and vented about it:
"The book asked me: What does your ideal wedding look like?
I answered: I’m thin and someone else is planning it."

I never daydreamed about my ideal wedding. I was too busy trying to imagine the groom. I knew that I wanted the groom to be someone who loved Jesus but wasn’t geeky religious. But the men who wanted to date me never fit that profile. They didn't dig Jesus. So I tried really hard to imagine them at the top of the aisle. But my vision got dark and depressing: I'm walking up the aisle toward The Cad or Captain Bringdown, now I'm screaming, "no no no!" or I'm on the analyst couch crying, 'why did I go through with it,' or I'm having another nightmare, I'm buck naked with my math homework blank and I'm hitting myself thinking, "Why did I marry that jackass?!"'

Until I met Larry. The more I knew him, the more I could see him at the top of the aisle, waiting for me. The less I could see anyone else at the top of the aisle. Then I could NO LONGER NOT SEE him at the top of the aisle. I could NO LONGER NOT SEE me walking up the aisle to meet him. Imagining myself marrying Larry has been the most natural, inevitable, and easy thing to do.

But the WHERE?

Well, OK: I guess I've always seen it happening it a church. I had great experiences growing up in church. So I could see myself getting married in a church. That is, a church with beautiful stained glass and gorgeous grand hymns sung by a choir that sang like they believed it.

But the churches Larry and I looked at were depressing. Run down. Or all modern Pentecostal décor: mauve chairs and big media screens and no stained glass because they blocked out the light so the audience can watch the big media screens. Or they were gorgeous but we weren’t Catholic. Or they were gorgeous but too expensive. Or gorgeous but booked 18 months in advance.

Then along came Doug, opening his home to us. So we went and looked at his back yard. And I thought, we put enough beautiful lights in the trees, and we sing music and hymns like we mean it, it’ll be great.

So the back yard worked. Because we A) didn’t have a lot of time, and B) didn’t have a lot of money. But now we have C) a lot of friends. So having the wedding in the back yard is D) insane and a fire hazard.

You could hire caterers, and tables, and valets to shuttle the 100 people in and out of the location.

Now, having it at Doug's house is no longer a moneysaver.

And money is an issue. Not just for money, but because Larry and I are both disgusted by the wedding industry. That’s what it is now: an industry. Churning out 10,000 dollar dresses you only wear once, and online bridal registries selling much stuff you convince yourself you really need, like a cake dome and a pizza wheel and a $100 trash can and inflatable beds and $300 mixers. And YIKES. Not to mention bride magazines and package weddings and hotels and ...

My parents got married at a Lutheran Church in Long beach. They had cake and punch and peanuts in the fellowship hall. Everyone had a great time.

Aha. That’s my ideal wedding. A wedding at a Lutheran church, with cake and punch and peanuts in the fellowship hall. If people want to join us and go dancing later, fine.

SO that’s what we’re looking at now: finding a church and doing the ceremony there. Maybe we still have the reception at Doug’s. Larry’s given up on the idea of a barbecue. Praise the Lord. I didn’t want to buy three gas grills and hire four barbecue chefs to assemble and cook kebabs or pork loins for 100 people. The heat from the BBQ radiating onto our packed-in guests, pushing them toward heat strokes.

Anyway. Now we are looking at having the wedding at a local church. And the reception at Doug’s, with only finger foods and dessert. Or, we have a meet and greet reception at the church: Cake and punch and peanuts. Then the die-hards can go over to doug’s for a die-hard party.

What if everyone wants to come over to Doug’s for the party? Then you end up doing two parties and defeat the point of having the first party.

What if this church near Doug's isn't available?
What about that church in West LA? You could have the reception in the church cafeteria.
What about a park? people could bring umbrellas for the shade.
What if you called a church in Culver City?
What if you can't get any of them?

I understand why people elope. I also understand why people don' elope, why instead they endure the stress and have a real wedding. Because this isn’t just about Larry and me. This is a celebration that everyone who’s invited is a part of.

This weekend Larry was over. We read a couple chapters of this really great book, Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. Later he was dozing on my couch. His face was quiet and serene. He looked like he was 18 years old, just so adorable. I leaned over and sang him some Al Green,
“I’m so in love with you, whatever you want to do is alright with me.”

I've never felt so at home and at peace and delighted and full of joy. I sure do love that guy.

Earlier today I met my friend Alicia for a yoga class. Alicia’s an actress, secular but spiritual, grad-school educated, so well-traveled, has her dating profile on Salon.com. Super smart and gorgeous, knows how to enjoy life. And she’s still single. Go figure. Back in December I’d been emailing Larry only a couple weeks and about to meet for the first time. Alicia and I were walking out of yoga and I said to her, "I think this guy could be the one. He may very well NOT be, but if he Is, I’ll remember this moment, telling you he could be the one.” She’s is just one of the people who’s watched all of this, who’s seen her own story in ours. And she’s excited to be there.

So despite the stress, I wouldn't want to elope. I want to stand up in front of all these people who love us and are invested in our story. I want to do something wonderful for them, too.

I emailed Larry tonight: “So many people want to come because we're a miracle, and a story of hope. Let's not forget that. All these people who are coming, they’re coming because they’ve known and loved us all these years: all the years we stopped hoping for love to come our way. All those years we recited Habakkuk: “though the fig tree does not bud..." the years we cried and complained and asked, "what the Eff, God?" And now we've found each other. This is a fairy tale in a way. But it isn't a Cinderella story. This is a fairy tale in that it’s about happy endings. But it’s grounded in real life, the stuff of real life, and the new beginnings of real life. Total strangers found our blog and are tuning in. Let’s give them a great story to be happy about.

Today is just the beginning. SO I didn't find Larry at 21. But we've got a lot of living to do for the next 30 years or so. I love that guy more than I knew my heart could hold.

So we’re going to get married in six weeks. We’re not sure of the details, except that about a hundred people we love are gonna be there with us. And we’re going to sing hymns like we mean it. And love songs too.

I’m so in love with you
Whatever you want to do is alright with me
Let me be the one you come running to
I want to spend my life with you
Let’s stay together
Loving you whenever
times are good or bad, happy or sad ...

My Norwegian Cousins

We’ve got too many people. That’s what Larry said. Too many people are coming to the wedding. What, so "too many people" want to see us get married? When did it get to be too many? 89 was OK, but now 101 isn’t?

I wouldn’t know how to get married with less than a hundred people. I’ve got 21 first cousins. They all got married (so that's 42) and most of them had multiple kids. Some of their kids have kids. I have nephews and nieces who've procreated and I'm only NOW getting married. More on that later.

Fourteen of those 21 cousins are the Thompsons, my Mom's Norwegian side. I showed Larry a photo of one of our yearly family reunions. In Solvang of course. This photo wass from 1983, I was 21 years old.

Cousin Sherri’s son Jay is in the picture, back row far right. He was only 8. Now Jay is 31, married with 3 kids (and a fourth on the way). Thompson Cousins, with their spouses and children, make up over 60 people. If Larry wants to complain about inviting them all to the wedding, he should have married me when I was 22 and there were only 30 of us. But we didn’t know each other then.

He's not complaining. He's just new to the big family idea. His extended family amounts to four people: a mother, sister, brother-in-law, and nephew. And only two of them can come to the wedding. Larry’s marrying a social girl with a social family. What can I say?

This past weekend, Larry went with me to my cousin Deedee’s house. DeeDee’s youngest daughter Haileigh just graduated from 8th grade. Haileigh gave us a piano recital. Then she played the Irish drum while her father played the guitar, and they sang Irish worship music. It was lovely.

And two more of my cousins (deedee's sisters) were there: Roxanne and Janice! Roxanne, her hubby Jeff, and their three kids were visiting from Uzbekistan, where they do outreach. Cousin Cousin Janice and her two daughters, who are in YWAM. Sherri wasn't able to come, but her two children, Jay and Tia, were there. And Jay and Tia's own kids. Plus, friends from Deedee and Scott's church came to hear Haileigh play. It was a lot of fun.

I remember as a teenager feeling like I was in a privileged position compared to my cousins, because I was going off to college. Most of them got married out of high school. But I went to college, grad school, I studied abroad. I had the world in front of me.

Now at 44. I’ll have a family of two people. And I’m witnessing my cousins and the family that fills up their living room with noise and love and music and laughter and praise and prayer. And I think, so who’s got the privilege?

Here’s my Norwegian family tree. All of my first cousins are married, 99% of them have kids. And some of those kids have kids.

And then there are the Isaacs. Only Nancy is married so far. One could attribute it to social and ecucational conditioning. All of us Isaacs kids went to college and grad school. Collegiates get married later. But my brothers are in their fifties. I'm 44. I think it's less due to college education and more due to family experience. My father was such a broken sick guy, he did so much damage, it’s a miracle any of us had relationships, let alone got married.

Thank GOD we grew up with faith. At the same time, my mom often used her faith tBut my mom used her faith to hide from a lot of life’s problems. Like uh, my dad. And much of my siblings and my experience with faith has been having to undo bad habits and beliefs. That's the thing about sin and its effects. Doesn't just 'go away.' I think the Bible says something about that. Figures.

Well, enough of that. It took a lot of church and prayer and bailing on church, and counseling, and letting go, to get to this place. I’m just glad I did. Now I can take the Yellow Ø off of the family tree.

But don't expect Larry and I to add any names to the right column. We're 44 and 51. Larry's not going to host a high school graduation party when he's 70.

Jul 13, 2006

Registering for Wedding Gifts

Poor Larry. The questions I've asked him lately. Which china pattern do you like? Could you eat off of square plates? Which shower curtain do you prefer?

I’m choosing items for our gift registry. Asking a guy’s guy what kind of china he likes is akin to asking a girlie girl her favorite bear hunting tactic: going camouflage or smearing oneself with deer urine.

Well, it was Larry who first brought up the subject of gifts. A recent email exchange went like this.

Larry: We don’t need wedding gifts, we can ask friends to bring food for the reception instead.
Susan: The heck we don’t. You can go on eating off of paper plates. You just won’t be married to me.
Larry: I don’t remember eating off paper plates as a biblical grounds for divorce.
Susan: Proverbs 21:9 Better to live on a corner of the roof than a wide house with a quarrelsome wife.
I never coveted nice things. A trip through Housewares makes me exhausted and depressed. It’s the incessant pleading, “need me, buy me!” So when it comes to picking out STUFF for a wedding registry, I get equally exhausted. I don’t want to start wanting things I don’t already want. I’ve gotten by this long without a perfect set of silverware. Or a pasta bowl. I don’t eat pasta. And I’ve never made pizza, let alone needed a pizza wheel.

But when it comes to your wedding, you find yourself rationalizing ... Well maybe I never ALLOWED myself to want a set of matching salad forks. Hmm, I could use nice place mats. And a matching runner. What’s a runner? I don’t know but I should have a matching one. After all, God created beauty. A beautiful table is a godly thing. Especially if we’re going to have people over and create a sense of community with other artists, and artists have a natural sense of beauty … and you’re off to the debtor’s races.

One thing I don’t need is a set of “fine bone china.” A couple years ago, I was at the Goodwill buying some gadget (maybe a newly divorced couple’s pizza wheel). They were putting out a set of dishes that looked nice. I mean, really nice. I figured, this was my one shot at gracious living. So I bought the whole shebang. Dinner plates, salad plates, butter and bread plates, olive plates? Coffee cups, demitasses, espresso cups. A four course serving for 8 people. I got it home and found out it was Richard Ginori, worth $2,000. I got it at the Goodwill for $70. Way to Shop!

Okay, so if we're registering for gifts, what could we use? I was startled at the items on the Bed Bath & Beyond “Reigstry Check List.” Maybe this covered every couple from Alaskan Park Ranger life partners, to Mississippi Mamas who deep fry their spinach: Basting Brush, Citrus Zester, A CAKE DOME? Egg Slicer, Mandoline (??), Deep Fryer, Electric Can Opener, Electric Knife, Electric Teakettle, Electric Fondue Pot (as opposed to the manual Fondue Pot?), Grilling Machine, Sandwich Maker. A sandwich maker? Don’t they mean, "your hands?”

Okay, well I could use some everyday china, to give the Ginori a rest. My favorite place setting "ZaZen" in aqua enamel. It costs $80 for 16 pieces. Four people, one course meal. That's more than I paid to serve a three-course meal to eight people on fine china.

The stuff I thought was reasonably priced, that I would have considered buying, was in the “Off To College” collection. That was depressing.

I picked out a few patterns I liked and sent them to Larry. He liked the last two the best.
Larry: The blue/brown ones. Then the ones that look like Target Practice.
Susan: Yes, the easier to drop meat on your plate.

But the Target practice plates ran $80 for a four-piece place setting.
I liked the blue-brown ones, but we had too much of a theme going: blue/aqua with brown. It’s already our wedding colors, bedding and towels.
Would we wake up in 2011 and shudder, "everything is so Ott-Six!" and spray paint everything Neon Orange just to break up the monotony?

So I chose this groovy Paisley pattern from BB&B. But they're expensive! And the plates are square. My friend Hannah loved them.
She and her husband have square dishes.

"Square dishes are great. We got ours at the Pottery Barn!"

Oh gosh. I hadn't even thought of Pottery Barn when it came to gifts. Now what? Maybe they've got the perfect dishes. Well, lfor all I know they’ve got blue-brown plates in the shape of a trapezoid.

I may end up telling Larry he’s going to have to get used to eating off of $2,000 china until we can afford square paisley.

Jul 12, 2006

I Created A Monster!

One of the things I love about Larry is he’s a computer nerd. The fact he was a Mac guy was enough of a turn-on, but that he was an internet junkie and blogger, impressed me so much I knew I had to marry him. Of course I impressed him when I told him how got my computer out of a kernel panic by launching in single-user mode, checking the volume with fsck and resetting the disk permissions. I know, I know it’s getting hot in here.

So aside from our shared spiritual, artistic and intellectual values, our idea of a perfect Saturday morning is finding a coffee joint with free wi fi and hanging out for hours. We are the geekerati.

I’m sprucing up my website. I’ve got a ways to go, but it looks better than my original garish green and pink scheme that resembled the Teen scrapbooking aisle at Target.

I installed a free web counter service from Stat Counter to see how many people are reading my blog. Well this one goes a lot further! It tells you things like where the viewer came from, the name of the viewer’s ISP (internet service provider) and the location. For example, my stats show views from someone at: dhcp.psdn.ca.charter. Larry lives in Pasadena (psdn), he’s on charter.net. That’s him looking at my web page. Gotcha, Lar!

I told Larry and he installed a counter on his web page as well. And he checks it several times a day. The other Saturday night he was over and brought his computer. When he had been silent for over five minutes I went to look, and he was on his stat counter alright.
I could waste hours looking at this stuff,
he laughed.

I didn't. He already had. But I still love him. He's that right blend of geek and groovy.
However, I'm banning Stat Counter from the honeymoon.

Knowing who checks your blog can also be creepy. For example, there's "someone" on AOL in or near Reston Virginia keeps going to our websites. They check our sites several times a day, and stay less than a second. every time There’s someone in Blantaeng, South Africa doing the same thing.

I think it’s an unmanned data mining robot, finding out what commercial products we mention. Or else it's one of those spybots from NORAD. Or it's an earthink spybot. You know they've got deep pockets in Scientology. Good, now I can unload all that dirt I know about Tom Cruise and
would ruin his
signed an agree
paid the guy off.

So, now Larry checks his stats every day, several times a day, to see who’s reading him, and how often. But not getting readers could send him into a funk. Imagine how much worse that he can’t even post onto his blog today.

He emailed me today in despair over his inability to blog; quoted Genesis:
"I am lost, formless and void!"

Which only proves that other verse in Genesis: It is not good for man to be alone.

Jul 4, 2006

Fun Facts and Fotos of the Felicitous Couple

In 1973, Susan and Larry looked like this:

In 1974, Larry and Susan looked like this:

They both took geeky family pictures. (He in '74, She in '76)
Only Larry's parents look decidedly more happpy.

If you mushed Susan's brothers together, you'd get Larry.

But that's just because beauty recognizes itself.
Oh, just go with it.

Planning a Wedding in Two Months

Do you know when you want your wedding to be?
Yes, August 26
But what time?
Late afternoon?
But what time is that? When does the sun set on August 26?
Uh, hold on let me check my occipital lobe to see if I have that information stored. No. Sorry.

SO the questions began.

Last night, Larry and I had a planning meeting with our amazing friends who have stepped up to help us get this wedding on the calendar: Doug who’s hosting the reception; Martin who’s going to marry us, his wife Debbie who’s coordinating; and Catheryn, my friend, bridesmaid, and Capo in the Susan Mafia.

But before the meeting, Larry and I had to figure out where we were going to have the ceremony. So we trolled Doug’s neighborhood in the hot Sunday sun. We checked out the parks in the area. A dog park. With no shade. You do the math. We did find another park that had one spot of shade right next to the gymboree playground. I could just see it now …

“I Larry, take thee Sus—hey crybaby on the SLIDE, Shut the #$*# UP! – to love, honor and cherish..”

Frankly I always wanted to get married in a church. I wanted to feel the presence of God, and I feel the presence of God in church. Well the old kind. The kind with stained glass, an organ echoing against the stone walls, the pews worn with prayers and worship.

There’s a bunch of churches near Doug’s house. But the area was developed after 1960. So the churches were built in that same era. Actually, I think one guy built all of them. It’s the A-Frame style Swiss Chalet rooftop. No box underneath, just a tall roof. Maybe some architect donated his blueprint to every denomination left of Catholic.

Still, there was one of those RIGHT around the corner from Doug.
“We should at least check it out,” I told Larry
“Yeah, it would be so convenient,” he said, so hopeful as we drove into the deserted parking lot.

I grew up in one of those A-Frame churches. Cinder Blocks. Sliding glass door. A thin window column every ten feet, floor to ceiling textured glass. Some rows had those slatted vent windows. You know, those windows you see on 1950's apartments and think, wow, that idea did not age well. Anyway, at my church they got rid of those slatted windows. Not at this church around the corner from Doug’s. They hadn’t added on. A quick look around the backside of the church confirmed they hadn’t cleaned up for thirty years either. There was a trove of rusted objects, and upturned kiddy pool, and the slatted windows were chock-full of cobwebs and insect carcasses. I envisioned the bridesmaids using the back entrance and getting sall bug skeletons in their hems.

I pushed one of the bubble windowpanes to look in. It wasn’t horrible. But it wasn't the inspiring, beauty-filled church I had imagined.

Larry and I continued down the street, checking out the other churches. Same thing. We did find one whose exterior was 1940s Colonial Revival. But we got a peek inside. Any 1940s Colonial had been erased by 1980s Pentecostal. Down to the mauve carpet and the TV screen.

After driving around a couple hours, the question became: “Which church was the least depressing?” But if the point of having it in a church was to feel God’s presence in the beauty, this wasn’t it.

So we drove over to Doug’s, went into his back yard, and took a good look. It was entirely in shade. It had a few glitches of “dead space” but other than that, it was doable.

Susan: Well, do we do it all here in one location?
Larry: I don't want you to feel disappointed later. I'm fine with it. I'm a guy, I live in a box and use plastic utensils. But you're the girl. Girls spend their lives planning this moment.

The only thing I'd planned was to marry a man who loved God. and that I didn't want a home-mortgage priced weddings. My parents got married at a little Lutheran church and had cake, peanuts and punch in the fellowship hall. I liked the idea of simple and inexpensive. Like the Shaker hymn: Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free, Tis a gift to come down to where we ought to be.

So was this the place? Well, if we put enough twinkle lights in the trees and flowers in the flower beds, it could contain as much beauty as stained glass, and the holiness and beauty God decided to bring on the day.

So Doug’s back yard is going to be the wedding ceremony and the reception site.

We only had two months before the wedding, but we already our location, an officiant, the wedding party, and a wedding coordinator. I even had my dress. We were doing well.

Until the planning meeting.

Debbie and Martin just got married and she’s coordinated weddings, so she knows what she is doing. Thank God for her. But boy did she open my eyes.

Debbie: Paper Invitations?
Susan: No we’re doing evite.
Debbie: Programs?
Susan: Yes.
Martin: Kelly Paper has good stationery.
CJ: Or you can go to Target, they’ve got stuff on sale.
Susan: That goes on my list of things to do. Next?

Then there was the discussion about table centerpieces.
Susan: Nothing. We’re wheeling the tables in after the reception. People will just sit down.
Debbie: Nothing, you sure?
Of course what am I thinking? I was going to end up with a wedding that resembled an IRS audit.

Martin: Do you want Communion?
Susan: Yes.
Martin: Okay you need the cup and plate.
Deb: Do you want a kneeling bench?
Susan: Uh…
Deb: How about a canopy? You can get married under a canopy.
Doug: But my back yard is filled with shade trees
Deb: You can get one of those trellises.
So Doug, Debbie and Martin discussed the merits of buying or renting a trellis. And if it were more expensive at Michael's or Moskatels, etc etc until I interrupted.
Susan: Hey. I don’t know if I want a trellis.

But the fact is, we did need something to demarcate the altar area. Didn't we? This is where I get confused. It IS a gift to be SIMPLE, but FREE might start looking, well, CHEAP.

Martin: What kind of ceremony do you want?
Susan: Traditional.
M: No readings?
Susan: Well, yes, readings.
M: What do you want read?
Larry and I looked at each other. We hadn't thought of that.
Susan: I’ll put that on my list of things to do.
Martin: Do you want to write your own vows?
I imagined the Jonathan Livingston Seagull vows I’ve heard. “I Mackenzie, take you Taylor, to be my life partner and shaman, from this day forward, until we transcend into air ferns in our next lifetime." ACK.

Susan: I want traditional vows.
Martin: HOW traditional?
Susan: Well I don’t want them in Olde English. But what's in the Book of Common Prayer.
CJ: Wait! You can’t just go in, do quick vows and be done.
Susan: I didn't say that.
CJ: I know, but you guys are writers! You gotta make it your own. And Larry, you’re all about this new postmodern emergent Christianity. What do you want?
Everyone looked at Larry. He hadn't said much through the meeting. He'd just held my hand. Now Catheryn was asking.
Larry: I want it to be a community experience with our friends.
CJ: Well, what does that mean in terms of the ceremony?
Larry: I don't want people to just sit back and not participate.
Debbie: But people ARE participating by watching you.
Larry: Okay but I want more interactive.
So then it became a discussion about the ceremony and people getting a time to say something like in the reception toast and then there was the music to think of and .. and ... my list of things to figure out grew and grew. I was staying sane. Until we got to the food.

Larry wanted a barbecue. But the wedding is a Saturday afternoon in August. We don’t want our friends in front of a barbecue grill. Do we hire someone to cook on the day? Do we cook ahead of time? Doug suggested cold salmon. And Thai noodles.
CJ: And a really beautiful vegetable! Like asparagus!”
Larry: Ick, asparagus!
CJ: Then what vegetable, Larry?
Larry: … uh…
Susan: Larry loves any vegetable that’s MEAT.

Our plan had been for us to provide half the food and do the rest pot luck. Debbie's soft and kind eyes turned up as she advised us against it. Not a full blown pot luck. she instead suggested we ask a select group of friends to help.
Debbie: Like, 12 friends who can bring salad for 20 people. Or bread for 20 people.
CJ: or Asparagus for 20 people!
Debbie: So you each ask six friends to help.
Larry: that might be kind of hard for me.
So there I went with my envisioining. Like I’m going to ask one of my friends to bring enough asparagus for 20 people? In the midst of the talk about side dishes, I overheard Larry joke to Doug how he "was a guy," he just wanted to get to the wedding night.
Hey now, I interjected.
Larry:L You weren't supposed to hear that.
Susan: But I did. And believe me, I want to get to the wedding night too. But we've got a room of planners deciding our side dish for us, so ...

Deb: Cake? What are you going to do for cake?
Susan: Costco.
CJ: No, you don’t want that!
Doug: There’s a place around the corner it makes really amazing cakes.
Susan: Larry and I don’t eat cake. I got nice Costco cake for my mom’s 80th birthday.
D: But look, or just a little bit more you can get a nice one.
Susan: How much nicer for how much more?
Doug: a hundred bucks
A hundred here, a hundred there, makes hundreds and hundreds spent on STUFF.
Susan: The cake isn’t that important to us. Sure we’ll have it, but just something for the toast.
CJ: But this is your wedding cake!
Martin: I know a place in Southgate that will do a cake for 300 bucks.
Doug: I tell you this place round the corner, Chaka Khan gets her cake there.

Susan: OKAY, EVERYONE. I don’t have the money to pay for a Chaka Khan cake! If I say I don’t want an expensive cake, and I say it more than once, then stop it. OK?

I don’t remember much after that, except that Larry rubbed my back a little. I still wrote down what everyone said, and replied that I’d put in on my list.

Then I got home and thought, where the heck was Larry tonight? He didn’t say anything! Except how he wanted the wedding to be a community experience. And that he didn’t like asparagus. Or salmon. Was I doing all of this by myself??

So I wrote a long email. I vented about being pressured to get an expensive Chaka Khan cake. And do a barbecue for a hundred people. And asking 12 friends to bring salad. Which 12 friends, MINE? And I couldn’t pay for it. I pleaded for him to offer to do some of the tasks. “And if you want to joke how you’re just a guy and you just want to get to the honeymoon suite, then why are we doing a barbecue? Let’s skip this EFFING barbecue, and just have cake and fruit and peanuts like my parents did, and be done with it!

I was smart. I didn’t send it. I went to sleep. But the next morning I wasn't so smart. I woke up and, without I coffee or a quiet time, I pressed the SEND key. Before proofing for stinging barbs like "Let's skip this effing barbecues" or my own contradictions: I don’t care about cake!” /Let’s just have cake and be done with it!” Or grousing about which of MY 12 friends we'd be asking for help ... without taking into account I made up for most of the guest list. Heck, Larry's family is four people. I have 21 first cousins.

THEN I went and had coffee and a quiet time. It was an Old Testament verse about God leading his people besides streams of water, on level paths, "because I am Israel's father." And about how Israel would again rejoice over God's bounty. "They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more."

You'd thihk those verses would be comforting. But I'm going through a shift in my thinking about the Bible. I used to open it up, read a scripture and immediately apply it to my own life. But I realize I can't necessarily do that. I mean, if I claim those verses as mine, am I not making God into my personal genie? Yet, if I look at his character in the above verses, he’s speaking like a tender father. So wouldn’t it be true that he would have at least the capacity to think of me in that same way? So how involved is God, anyway?

Larry replied to my email. The "effing barbecue" line wasn't exactly a feel-good moment for him. And he wasn't being quiet all night to avoid responsibility. Again, I was the girl. He wanted it to be MY special day. He wanted me to pick what I wanted.
Larry: Susan, if you need something, just ask me."

Interesting how, in trying to communicate, the first thing to go was Just asking?
I apologized, but I still felt crappy. The guy who’s on my side, wanting to make this special for me, is the guy I vented at. He’s planning the honeymoon. It’s his friends who are hosting us, marrying us, coordinating us. I'm the one bringing the crowds of relatives.

I watched people stress out over weddings. I told myself I wouldn’t do it. But I realize that a certain amount of stress is going to happen. I’m so grateful for our planning posse, and for Larry.

And after all, the posse had some good tips. I'm going to downtown LA to check out wholesale grosgrain ribbon and votive candles. Hey, when you hear a good idea, you gotta go with it.

Jul 1, 2006

Presbyterian Obsfuscation

The Presbyterian Church (PC-USA) had their annual conference. Delegates to the church's policy-making body get together and hash out important things ... This year they announced a few possible alternate ways to describe the Trinity other than "Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

Let's have a look:
"Compassionate Mother, Beloved Child and Life-giving Womb,"
"Overflowing Font, Living Water, Flowing River."
"Rock, Cornerstone and Temple" and
"Rainbow of Promise, Ark of Salvation and Dove of Peace."

"You might as well put in Huey, Dewey and Louie," said Rev. Mark Brewer of Bel Air Pres.
byterian "Any time you get together representatives of 2 1/2 million people, you get some really solid people and some really wacky people."

Clearly the wacksters had the pens. What's remarkable is that they didn't make up these names while sitting in a hotel bar getting drunk. THey actually put some thought into them, then spent time reading them from the convention dais. Precious time that no one can get back.

"Rainbow of promise?"

I realize this is because a lot of people have problems with the masculine-heavy "father son and holy spirit." I understand, historically men have dominated and often oppressed women. SO I understand that.

Male and female aren't wrong, having a distinction isn't wrong. It's what humans have done to gender that is wrong. Humans were the ones who allowed masculine to dominate feminine: Not God.

But I think we ought to reexamine what masculine and feminine really are. It's everywhere, it's in philosophy (yin/yang), it's in nature. It's even embedded into languages like French

You don't hear French Academie degenderizing words in order to establish etymological parity. "la maison" shoudln't be feminine because it implies women should stay at home!

God's qualities are both masculine and feminine. But if this relationship with God is a relationship, and he initiates, then he's the one inviting us into a dance. and he leads. Is that so freakin wrong? or would you rather be the one trying to woo God, or telling Him which steps to take? My gosh I spent enough of my dating life chasing after men. And it was gross.

Je dis: vive la difference. But if you really need to rename the Trinity, Hughey Dewey and Louie get my vote.