The Year That Was
It seems like most people have some type of yearly reflection around this time. People start throwing out “best of” and “worst of” lists like their opinions should have some kind of authority. Ignoring subjectivity completely, readers immediately react to these lists with enough vitriol to float a boat. My solution? Make lists that I can say that I am the authority. So, here you go.
The Worst of 2008 for Me:
10. Getting my complete lack of drumming ability exposed by Rock Band 2.
9. The extended “sick, but not really really sick” battle I waged in November. Two weeks of congestion and exhaustion was pretty much a big crapper.
8. The Great Comcast Battle of 2008
7. The extended “remodeling” of the Red Lion that kept it closed all of 2008.
6. My catalytic converter getting stolen off of my Jeep. That really sucked and continues to keep the Jeep in Sucktown.
5. The seats when we took Sarah’s parents to see Jersey Boys. A bad view, uncomfortable angle, and they ripped my pants.
4. The complete unraveling of the Cleveland Indians and Browns. Both ended up being such letdowns after 2007.
3. The incredibly long and unrelenting winter of 2008. I don’t think we saw anything over 30 degrees until May.
2. Getting a parking boot. Stupid on many levels, but man, finding my Jeep with a giant yellow parking boot after work was just about the worst feeling ever.
1. Sarah taking a softball to the knee. It made life challenging for a while and kept her on the bench for the rest of the year. Oh, and the pressing fear that she wouldn’t be able to walk normally for the rest of her life.
Honorable mention: Owing taxes, the new Indiana Jones movie, and paying $10 for lunch way too often.
And now… the Best of 2008 for Me:
10. Sarah allowing me get away with growing a beard for the last several weeks of the year. I’m guessing her acceptance will be endless. If not, Sarah making me shave my beard will be on my 2009 “worst of” list.
9. The Great Nebraska Trip of 08. This trip has redefined the awesomeness of summer.
8. The Dark Knight in IMAX. Mind = blown.
7. Getting a Costco membership. I know that sounds lame, but trust me, it is. Even so, it has turned out to be pretty dang awesome.
6. Pastor Daniel’s “sex series” and forum. It’s been quite a while since a pastor has spoken words that hit me the way his series did a couple months ago.
5. The Wii… and Rock Band 2… and WiiFit… and taking my dad down in Wii Bowling.
4. Getting engaged. From the ring to talking to Sarah’s dad to postponed proposals to finally getting the word to come out of my mouth, this was probably the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done.
3. The Weber 22.5″ One-Touch Gold kettle grill that was provided by the guys from my “bachelor weekend.” This may continue to be on my 2009 “best of” list.
2. Brewing my first batch of beer ever with Jud. Hopefully it leads to continued brewing and eventually some stellar beer.
1. Well, it’s not that hard to guess what my number 1 might be. Obviously, it was discovering there was a Sonic in Ohio just off of I-70 near Dayton.
Honorable mention: Discovering the tv show Mad Men, Iron Man or Wall-E, Microsoft replacing my Xbox 360 quickly and for free.
Ok, for real, there were two pretty monumental occurences that will make 2008 incredibly memorable. Enough so that they deserve their own list.
So, here it is… the Greatest of the Great in 2008:
2. Hearing Wolf Blitzer say, “We are ready to declare that Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States” while standing in Grant Park with my wife and some good friends.
1. A month before election day, standing in front of a gazeebo somewhere in Michigan and wearing a nice suit, a beautiful woman for some reason agreed to spend the rest of her life with me. That was pretty swell.
So that’s it. 2008 reduced to a couple of lists. Disagree with any of it and I will have my friend Corey poke you in the eye. He’s ready to do it too.
Urge to Write Status Check: Dwindling
I’m losing the battle of balance right now. Work is completely overwhelming at times, which means the few moments I have in the evening are spent decompressing and reviewing the massive list of to-do’s before the wedding. It’s not a good way to build up to a fun wedding day.
Holy crap… the wedding. It’s like it somehow went undetected for the past few months only to decide that now is the moment to reappear and remind me that is it less than two weeks away. There’s so much that has been accomplished (mostly by my wife-to-be and her mom), but the remaining list is frustrating. I think we just need a solid 4 hour chunk of time to sit down and pick out gifts for our friends in the wedding and finalize the list of cheesy dance favorites for our DJ, but that is only a scratch on the surface.
Finding those four hours is quickly turning into a wild goose chase. An elusive white whale comprised of ties that need to be picked out, seating charts that need to be assigned, and table centerpieces that have to be finished. Oh, and tracking down a huge list of people that still haven’t submitted an RSVP either way.
…and I need to find a shiny new pair of black shoes… for my gigantic feet… that don’t require me to take out a loan.
Fun times, my friends.
But soon… soon, Sarah and I will be here:
(why is the “Business Time” song by Flight of the Conchords playing in my head…)
Hoping for fulfillment
Preparing for marriage is hard.
There… I said it. Step one, right?
I’m not just talking about figuring out reception seating arrangements and hoping for clear skies for our outdoor ceremony. I’m also talking about the actual preparation going on between me and my bride-to-be. I struggle with treating her like some kind of object that I need to fulfill my needs. I’ve struggled with that for as long as I can remember.
I can easily recall my single days and the constant voice in the back of my head that kept reminding me that if I were to find someone, I would be completely happy and fulfilled. Instead of digging deeper into that feeling of incompleteness, I could go on with my day and feel like I had figured out the answer. All I needed was another person. It doesn’t take too much probing to realize that I was not looking for a future wife… I was looking for an object. A product that could magically take care of all of my needs.
I still struggle with that approach to life – both with my fiance and pretty much everything else. My friends, my job, my possessions – pretty much everything in my life that at one time or another I have appreciated solely for the fulfillment that they bring me. Specifically with me, this objectifying manifests itself within my relationships with women.
It’s hard for me to come to grips with the fact that I so easily have objectified women in the past, and I’m sure that it is a struggle I will continue to have. It’s a struggle that I have to acknowledge and steadfastly work against. When I look at marriages that are ripped apart by infidelity, I wonder if it is because the marriage itself was created to fill a need. I wonder if the marriage stopped providing that fulfillment – even temporarily. It makes it so easy to justify searching elsewhere.
So the question is, what else could fill that emptiness? What else could erase that void?
I heard a guy say last night that true happiness is found by looking within yourself. I was not amused. Yourself? That is the exact kind of thinking that leads right back to objectifying your friends, your significant other, your job, or whatever else might provide the temporary satisfaction you need to function. I don’t understand at all the thinking behind believing that if you think about and want fulfillment enough, it will magically happen.
But maybe I’m the crazy one. Maybe I’m the only one that struggles with finding it easier to plug others into my life to give me the fulfillment I need. Maybe it means I should be a politician.
Turns out, we did have enough time to go to Bed, Bath, and Beyond
This whole wedding planning thing has gone a lot smoother than I think Sarah and I anticipated. Sarah has bought her dress, picked out bridesmaid dresses, booked the ceremony and reception sites (including food and drinks), ordered cakes, secured a DJ, and remained relatively calm and lighthearted about it all. Me? Well, I’ve started working on a wedding website… oh, and I registered for tools and camping stuff at Sears. I also called about chair prices for the outdoor ceremony. Yep, I’m pretty much useless.
Work is crazy busy and Sarah and I are spending pretty much every possible second traveling and planning this shindig. Looks like it will probably be in late September or October. Everybody keeps saying that seems quick, but it seems about right to me. Plus, an outdoor fall wedding will be awesome… especially if our latest idea pans out. When I talk to my married friends and say we’ll probably have a 6 month engagement, they all seem to think it’s plenty of time and a really good plan. More details to come…
In the meantime, check this out. It is consistently one of the most expensive gas stations in the city, but still, this is getting crazy. I was telling folks in Ohio over the weekend that we hit this price in Chicago and some didn’t believe it. I’d expect to see most stations at this price in about a week or two. It’s about time to sell a kidney… possibly a lung.
She Said Yes.
The first wedding I can remember was for my dad’s cousin Ken and his wife Alice. I don’t remember much except the big wooden pews. There are some great pictures of me (the ring bearer) and the flower girl and a few stories of the echoing effect produced by farting on said big wooden pews, but those are mainly reserved for rehashing each year when we get together at Christmas.
Then there was my cousin Mary Ellen. I think I was in high school and I remember arguing with my mom about wearing shorts to the wedding. My mom, as usual, was probably right. I think my brother and I both wore shorts anyway, which surprisingly enough turned out not to be a big deal.
I remember Sally Spencer, a friend from high school, getting married while I was in college. I made it back and felt a little out of place because it was the first time I was giving a card to a newly married couple and I had no idea what to write. I imagined them reading my well thought out nugget of wisdom and forever changing their outlook on life. Instead, I got nervous and scribbled something about a path always rising to meet the sun shining on their backs and thought about not signing my name at all. I got a thank you card in the mail several weeks later with a note from Sally thanking me for coming and I just assumed she was moved beyond words by my card inscription. Looking back, it’s probably more likely that whatever I wrote was complete jiberish and unreadable.
Since college, I’ve had the chance to attend and participate in some amazing weddings. Geoff and Becca encouraging me to start the slow clap before her procession down the aisle will forever be one of the greatest memories and stories recorded in wedding lore. I remember saying to Geoff, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if right before Becca comes down the aisle, someone stands up and starts the slow clap, and then a few other people stand up and join in until the entire church is clapping like crazy?!” Next thing I know, Becca has completely bought into the idea and, well, there was no way of stopping it.
I’ve been lucky enough to stand up as a groomsmen for two brides – my friend Rachel and my cousin Melissa. It was tough to explain how I knew the groom when folks asked, but pretty cool at the same time. Rachel’s brother-in-law’s speech at the reception is seared into my brain. If you’re curious, you can ask me about it sometime.
Then there was Joel and Jen’s wedding, all located on the W family farm. There were moments when we worried about a runaway golf cart possibly killing attendees, but the entire event managed to go off without a single fatality! There was even karaoke with a version of “You Give Love a Bad Name” that pretty much rocked… mainly because Joel’s air guitar was so amazing it actually made grown men weep. If it was not Joel’s wedding, there is no doubt he could have taken any single woman in attendance for his own.
Since moving to Chicago, it seems like every other Saturday in the summer has been taken up by the celebration of nuptials. Each ceremony has so perfectly matched the couple – from outdoor weddings in the park with cornhole and volleyball to candle lit sanctuaries.
I think it was through a combination of all of these ceremonies that I began to truly understand the importance of marriage. Through a sacrificial submission to one another, two people stand in front of loved ones and express an emotion and commitment to one another that is the closest they will ever get to the love God has for us. In a fallen world that at times is overwhelmingly pessimistic, a man and woman decide to buck the trend and join together in a holy union that is only possible because of the death and resurrection of Christ.
The past couple of months have been heavy on my heart and soul. I’ve been wrestling with the idea of what it means to be one part of that union. What do I have to sacrifice? What do I have to gain? Will I ever be able to play Halo again? These are just a few of the questions that ran through my head.
But each time I would take these thoughts to God or to one of my close friends, I would hear the same things. My married guy friends confirmed that yes, you do sacrifice a lot. You probably will have to give up a large chunk of Halo time, they confessed. But they assured me that somehow it all is worth it.
So, being the mature person I am, I shake my head and give them a wink. I know what makes it worth it.
Apparently though, much to my surprise, it’s not just the sex that makes it worth it. I’m not sure what else it could be, but apparently there’s much more to experience.
That being said, what became so clear to me in the past couple of weeks was that I have found a person that I want to experience all of the new pieces of life that my friends referred to. I found the girl that I want to sacrifice for and love and even do her laundry (occasionally). So, on Sunday, after a walk through the park near my house, I asked Sarah to make that commitment to me. And she accepted.
This is a surreal feeling and the page is just starting to be turned. What awaits us in the coming months and years is completely unpredictable, but thankfully there are many who have gone ahead of us and seem to speak highly of the adventure.
Plus, she said we can register for a Wii. This girl is awesome.