A SkyView Wedding

Some argue that the three most seminal events in one’s life are when one is born, marries, and dies. Well perhaps we could add “has children” to that, but that differs from person to person.

Anyhow, I have done the second of these, and am now married. Prior to my own, I think I’ve only been to four weddings, my Aunt’s, sisters, my cousin’s, and my now sister-in-law’s. And they’ve all been quite different from one another, as people nowadays see opportunity to put their own stamp on the proceedings.

Most ceremonies are preceded by a rehearsal on the night before, as ours was on Friday the 26th. Before going over to the venue, Skyview On Hay, we had a wonderful dinner at Grandsons Restaurant, wherein I consumed meatloaf, two fried chicken legs, green beans, Mac and cheese, and iced sweet tea. The only minor sadness was that the piece of Black Forest cake, chocolate with Cherry in the middle, was tiny. But honestly after all that food, it’s not like I could put away much more.

The rehearsal goes fine, and we were able to meet the DJ and photographer before practicing our walk down the aisle. The plan was for me to accompany my pastor from the church in Southern Pines that my mom attends, and where I went for many years.

But on this night, the pastor is not there, so my cousin’s wife takes me on the stroll. I mostly wonder about pacing, and joke that I’ll just run down and take my spot. We are accompanied by standard wedding music, but the bride marches to Why I Love You, by Major, a beautiful song that actually has a similar rhythm to the traditional “Here Comes The Bride” that is usually played. We don’t actually practive the vows, though I kind of end up wishing we could have, as told later.

After this, we make our way back to the hotel we have chosen, due to its being located near several restaurants and a Walmart, and meet my cousin and his wife in their room. Here, they throw us an impromptu bachelor/bachelorette party in which silly items are exchanged and laughs are had. I also get a delicious cupcake that is decorated with toothpick type things that say “I do”. I eat most of it, but become acutely aware of the mess I am making on my dress clothes, which are not the tux I will wear for the ceremony, but are nice nonetheless. The constant photos taken this week mean that I must look “the part” throughout.

Sleep for me is not a problem, as the day and truthfully the whole year prior finally catch up to me and suck me under. Once I wake good she has left to have hair done, so I relax by watching the 6 AM news and reading some. Then we head to breakfast at the Cracker Barrel with some of our closest friends. I know that a good coffee is probably needed, it won’t do to fall asleep mid-ceremony after all, and so I get this with Grandma’s Pancake breakfast, including two of those, eggs scrambled with cheese, three sausage patties all of which I do not eat, and hash brown casserole. The restaurant’s noise level is such that I am able to at least moderately participate in conversation, which is saying something for these establishments. I then went up to chat some with my cousin, the only one of us who decides against waking so early, and finally head down to the room to continue contemplation and meditation.

Tux on, because it is easier than carrying it over to SkyView, we complete the ride over during the 12 PM hour, mostly in silence. And yes, we know we have violated the tradition of not seeing one another before, but figure that TECHNICALLY SPEAKING, I am not seeing her prior. Ah well, it makes things a lot easier logistically, and if that causes us issues we probably had bigger fish to fry.

It is as I sit at the “sweetheart” table and listen to things being prepared that the nerves really begin kicking in. Until, in walks my father with donuts and stories, the latter which we also take into the “Vault” (this particular wedding venue was formerly a bank” and chat with the other guys in the party. And because we seemed to be relatively closed off from everyone else and I could use the stress relief, I pull out my iPhone and fire up the UNC Tar Heels game with NC State. We all cheer and moan as time winds down, with the game ultimately going to overtime and my Heels losing. (Ah, the Carolina-Duke rivalry is one of the things to which my wife and I are most looking forward, as she is sadly on the other side).

At approximately 2:50, someone signals us to exit the vault and I stand there with my father, wondering if he will indeed walk me down. As it turns out, my pastor has not shown up for some reason. We thus do as in rehearsal, and I just walk with my cousin’s wife. My wife’s father was to be the pastor for only the second half of the ceremony, but he goes ahead and starts. Most goes as expected. Our friend again sings those songs, even better both as it is the real thing, and the sound system is more fully set up. A prayer is said, then her dad reads 2 Corinthians Chapter 13, I think, the one about love, faith, and charity. We say words to each other, mine about her ability to both inspire me to aim higher in serious conversations and our side-splitting silliness borne of similar imaginations, and hers of the continued journey that started with our friends long ago, and especially on a fortuitous trip to Daytona Beach. For this reason, we may choose this place as our honeymoon destination later in April, assuminbMiami is overpriced. But who knows.

The vows. Well, I said most of them easily and well enough. But then there was a phrase I wasn’t expecting, and my hearing makes it difficult for me to pick up out of the blue statements like that. That was a little embarrassing, but ah well. Then I was concentrating on the act of having the ring placed on my finger, the wrong one as it turns out, and didn’t realize zi needed to repeat after him and say he words that solidify it as a symbol of marriage. He simply said “Say With This ring I be wed,…” and all was well. I guess I felt a little better though as even he had a small glitch, assigning us both an entirely new last name: “Everybody, please welcome Mr. and Mrs. Campbell!” This drew amusement from all.

Y’all, do we really have to have the picture-taking part? It’s torture! We spent nearly an hour naturally-but-unnaturally walking, kissing, holding hands, leaning in, combining and recombining participants, and yes even laughing. Nah it wasn’t that bad, I actually enjoyed the entire day. I was, however, glad to finally step out into the fresh air for a bit.

Our first dance was Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud, which has a great deal of significance to both of us. That really long wedding dress which I must have stepped on like 30 times meant we could only rock back and forth, and she admitted to feeling strange as every eye in the place was on us. I felt great though as I consumed food catered by Fuller’s Restaurant: baked chicken legs, delicious rice and gravy, Mac and cheese, green beans, corn, and a roll. This topped off by two welcome glasses of lemonade, as all that picture-taking parched me.

And that was most of the substance of it. The best man, (my cousin) and maid of honor, (her sister) did give nice speeches, as well as both of our parents. By that point, exhaustion was definitely setting in, and so I was glad when, after having the marriage license signed and witnessed, we finally took off.

And so here I am, still getting used to having this piece of metal on my finger and this wonderful individual always in my life. While our longer trip will happenlater, as I noted, we hope to take a little jaunt to Myrtle Beach this Thursday night which will help with the Winter-induced cabin fever. So, here’s to many more years and the joining of two great families.

License To Wed

Of course at this stage, the most salient thing happening in my life is my continued preparation for marriage and living in a new area. One thing I keep discovering along the way is how complex the process of creating this union is, at least in the eyes of our state and federal government (the latter barely functioning these days which may cause problems for many later, but that’s beside the point).

Anyhow, the next stage of preparation for us was to acquire a marriage license which will be completed after the ceremony, then filed to make us all legal. This process is a little more complicated for us, because the wedding will be held in Fayetteville and we are located in Cary, meaning constant back and forth driving.

So, she took off early yesterday and we headed down to the Cumberland County Courthouse, located of course in Fayetteville. First, we had to step through the metal detectors. Initially, she was uncertain whether to help me walk through, but the guy watching us told her to go ahead so I reattached and entered with no issues. I did wonder if they jammed all cell communications, because my phone began vibrating as soon as we exited the building.

Next, we located the correct room, housing the Register of Deeds. People milled about, and we stood in line for only a few minutes before presenting our ID’s to the woman behind the counter. My partner said she had been able to update her drivers license online, so the photo presented there had been taken about fifteen years earlier. This led to extended scrutiny, with the woman’s eye jumping back and forth between her and the picture on the card. Eventually though, she decided it was legitimate.

Next, we had to confirm that we were entering into the marriage willingly on both sides, which caused an issue with me because of my hearing. Once the lady was aware that I might not always pick everything up though, it seemed to get easier to do so. I found her to be quite friendly, actually.

Then came the hardest part. We had to go into another room to enter all of our personal and parental information onto a computer, including their addresses. This is a challenge, as it is not something about which one usually thinks from day to day. You have to remember to list your mother’s maiden name as well. We also had some issues spelling Mecklenburg County, as well as the street on which my father currently resides (I hope I got that right in the end).

Then it was back out to present to our friendly counter lady for verification and signature. Once we got everything spelled correctly, I then had difficulty signing. They didn’t mind me making a mark, as long as it was reproducible . Where the problem really arose was in my inability to remain in the correct line, as I slid down into the area that says “do not sign here”. She finally worked out that I should just sign against a ruler, which would keep me mostly straight. I keep saying I will get another signature stamp, as it would make this process a lot more painless, but I also blame said stamps for the loss of my ability to make a good signature. I had learned it once long ago, and most times at least I could keep it within the line without any sort of guide. But then I had a stamp for four years. Signatures are definitely a “use it or lose it” thing for me, but perhaps I can re-learn it.

After a final verification, we were done! She then explained how we need to wrap everything up post-wedding, which is going to involve at least one more trip down there. Just another piece in the endless and slightly unnerving paperwork with which I must contend in order to get this thing started.

Apart from the actual marriage, other things are going well also. I have accepted the offer to return to my old job at LC Industries pending a drug testt, which I already knew would happen. No worries there, of course. I hope I can get the same position I had before, but well we shall see. And, I am ever-so-slowly adapting to Cary. I wish they could expand bus service to this town, as after 10 AM it is difficult to get into Durham, but I have already sort of covered that ground. I know I will be able to at least get to work somehow until I get all of the paratransit stuff sorted out, which will also be fun as they have residency requirements, and are not answering their phone. All will be well though.

I hope you are finding this part of my story interesting. We are looking forward to applying a big seal this coming Saturday and celebrating along with family and friends. I will probably document the big moments therein on next Monday.

Let It Snow… Or Maybe Not

So, my time as a Charlotte resident, middle transition as I’ve called it, will come to an unexpected end. This is because we have recently been pounded by a fierce (yes, for us Southerners) snow storm that has ground everything to a halt. I was only able to work this past Tuesday, and even though they had opened the place on Wednesday I could see via the forecast that going in would only make for a circus return home around 10 AM. They also called off today and tomorrow already, due to excess ice at the location.

I stepped out front here though, and there is surprisingly little ice and strong sunshine. This is welcome news, as cabin fever is taking over. Pondering if I can get out of here and go somewhere? We shall see.

Oh, how this Winter is different from the last. I remember spending most of the previous January basking outside on the strip of restaurants near my Durham apartment, as temps were usually in the upper 60’s to low 70’s. While that of course is unusual, this year has also been unusual for the opposite reason. Last night, we dropped into the teens yet again. It would not surprise me if this month has had more days with teen or single-digit temperature readings than any other. We’ve spent a lot of it at least as cold as, or in some cases warmer than, some parts of Alaska. BRRR!

So I am kind of bummed about missing those last three days of work, as it puts me in a tighter monetary situation than I had anticipated. But isn’t that the way life works most of the time? We make plans, and God laughs? I am at least seeking to make productive use of this time, as I have re-applied to LC Industries in Durham and am waiting to hear back. Next, I have to try and sort out transportation in Cary, hopefully utilizing a paratransit service local to that area. It says they will take me into Durham or Chapel Hill if I need work or medical appointments, so there.

I am also thinking more broadly, and trying to figure out how or if I’ll get to use this Master’s Degree I spent a couple of years obtaining. I do now have the document certifying its completion, and it is still thrilling to put my hands on it.

And not much else. Of course I’m already reading strong out of the gate, what else is there to do when one is basically marooned for three days. Already completing books 3 and 4, the latter being Sing, Unburied, Sing, by Jesmyn Ward. She also wrote Salvage The Bones, and both of these titles are set in a fictional Mississippi town where we see people living in hard-to-imagine poverty up to and after Hurricane Katrina. She is a really talented writer, having received multiple awards for each of these books. So I will go ahead and dive back in, after perhaps finding something to eat.

If you too were blanketed by snow, I hope that your power is on and warmth persists. I know I am fortunate to at least be in a place where I am not freezing, as some are. Amazingly, I have just over a week till marriage, so my next post will likely be from the other side. Wish us well.

#FridayReads: A 27 Year-End Book Post

And, hello from a thus far sickly 2018 for so many of us. This is, in fact, the first day since January 3rd that I’ve felt even remotely up to writing. (The first was a travel day, and the second a readjusting to work day). Ah who am I kidding, I’m still readjusting to work.

Anyhow, I thought I would give a summation of the kinds of books I’ve read in the previous year. I think Stefanie Michaels (AKA AdventureGirl) will post my entire list of books with a little about my chosen reads soon in a guest post. Exciting, as she has a huge following! So, I’ll just hit the highlights.

I concluded the year having consumed 52 titles, the most ever for a single year. I think, amazingly, that I only read more than one piece by the same author (two by Clive Cussler, because he makes good fluff reading and has a lot of travel involved.)

In yet another sign that grad school has permanently infected my brain, I did something akin to Grounded Theory and lumped my books into different categories until saturation occurred, or in lay terms, I could think of no more new categories. Am I gonna be like this forever? Probably. The groupings are, of course completely subjective, and books c an fit into multiple categories but I chose what I thought was the primary one.

Heck, even the category of an author’s gender is to some degree arbitrary, as I do not always know if a title was written by a man or woman, but that doesn’t matter a whole lot overall. I’m mostly just curious to see if I am diversifying my exposure. According to my count, I read 24 books written by men, and 28 by women. I think I usually achieve about that balance in most years. I also read 40 fiction books to 12 nonfiction ones. That number surprises me, actually. I’m definitely reading more nonfiction than I once had. This can be attributed to the proliferation of “most popular” lists, and to sites like Twitter.

As for the more granular breakdown, I will list each of the other categories and one of my favorites therein.

Dystopian: 2. Well, I always enjoy titles from this grouping, as they help imagine the world if things went, well wrong. Not that we will have to “imagine” much longer, but that’s beside the point. The one that stands out most is The Last Tribe, by Brad Manuel. In this book, the planet is struck by a random plague that wipes out all but a sliver of the population. A family has to bond together, collecting other “survivors” along the way, and make their way to an area where they can continue to live and thrive, rebuilding society. It’s a fascinating story, but not that well edited. Looks like it may have started life as a NaNoWriMo novel, but I like it because it gives me hope that I may one day be able to produce such a thing.

Family, 6. Ok, I’ll admit this is a sort of catch-all category for ones I could not as easily categorize. Probably my favorite though is The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. I’d bet most of you have read this already, but it’s about a young black man who is gunned down buy cops while his female friend watches, and the complex reactions and interactions set into motion for her and her family as a result of this killing. It was especially topical against the spate of shootings that occurred throughout the U.S., and can help explore how these encounters can eventually cause major issues in whole communities. An honorable mention is The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson. It looks at race in the American south in a more unusual way, through older and younger family members who discover complications through a family secret, and end up with a mixed child, respectively. One you should get in audio, because that woman, the author, is just a great reader of her own work.

History, 10. This includes historical fiction and nonfiction, and probably my favorite was Someone Knows My Name, by Lawrence Hill. I think I reviewed this title earlier, but it is about a slave who makes the hard journey from the African interior to the U.S. mainland, and becomes famous over time, even venturing to England to meet Queen Charlotte. I didn’t realize that this story was fiction until I concluded it, but I think it is still based on a collection of people’s stories. Great stuff.

Memoirs, 4. I’m really starting to enjoy this category, as many are choosing to read in their own voice. My favorites were A Carlin Home Companion, by Kelly Carlin, and Endurance: A Year In Space, A Life Time of Discovery, by Scott Kelly. In the former, the daughter of famous comedian George Carlin tells what it was like to grow up in his household, and the many challenges she did and still does face. She is fun to follow on Twitter as well. Scott Kelly is also a good social media presence, and his story talks about that as well as life aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and all the work and improbable ads he had to overcome to get there. The bio and space residency are interwoven to make for a rich experience.

Mystery, 5. In this grouping, I mostly placed books that centered around who committed a crime of some sort. Two of these, Passenger 23 by Sebastian Fitzek, and All By Myself Alone, by Mary Higgins Clark, took place aboard cruise ships. I had actually read four titles that were set amid this floating venue, since the plan had been for me to experience that with the coming marriage as I already detailed in the previous post. They were all still good, and I think paint cruising in an interesting, hopefully overly dangerous, light. I more like the whole social, connectivity aspect.

Psychological, 2. These are typically the more disturbing books. The Good Girl, by Mary Kubica, was such a story. I probably also talked about this one, but it has a before and after where a woman was, I think abducted, and her life changed as. result. We see all of the therapy invested in getting her back on the right track.

Romantic Suspense, 2. I confess I don’t entirely remember which two I listed here, but I’d guess Seeing Red by Sandra Brown was one of them. After having listened to her in our local bookshop, I had to check this title out. I think it was my favorite by her thumb far, because the characters were more nuanced than usual. Kera the news reporter is following up on a terrorist attack she was part of as a child, and in so doing, she unlocks secrets someone wants hidden. There is a lot of travel involved, and of course the requisite sex scenes. But this book really gets at the idea of media frenzy following these kinds of events, and how hero worship can cause unintended consequences.

Sci-fi/Fantasy, 10. Also one of my most read collections year in and year out, I would most recommend Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel. I don’t know if this author intended, but his titles work best in audio as they have amazing characters. You’ll want to read the first in this series, called Sleeping Giants, before proceeding. They follow files including letters, interviews, and other such entries that note the arrival and actions, many of which are devastating, by an alien race. You… just have to read it.

Self Help, 1. Well one could argue that I’m supposed to be reading another called Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, but I’ve not quite gotten around to that one. I and my partner did complete one called The Five Love Languages, by Garry Chapman . I guess it does provide some insight into how you like to be “loved” which can be helpful to you, your partner, and the relationship as a whole.

Social, 2. This group consisted of the two texts I read during my school studies in their entirety, Alone Together by Sherry Tyrkle, and New Tech New Ties, by Richard Ling. They both tend to paint relatively dim pictures of what all this “smart” stuff is ultimately doing to us and our social relationships.

Travel and Adventure, 8. Probably my favorite of these books was The Winter Over, by Matthew Iden. In this, which I got via the Amazon First Reads listings, a group of people are residing in Antarctica where they work to complete experience and fieldwork during the long, dark months known as the Winter Over. It explores psychological issues that can plague a crew so isolated from the sun and most of the rest of humanity. A rather interesting, though the author concedes definitely fictional, look into life down there.

And that is barely scratching the surface of my massive book pile. But this post is already pushing 1,500 words. I hope you find something there in that interests you. Let me know if you want more details on any mentioned and not. More soon.