Just a note to say…

I will not have an awful lot of time to write for the next few days, as they will be spent cooking, decorating, planning and freaking out about the wedding… a wedding which is less than a week away now! I just wrote to let you all know that though I may have a short, productive blog-break, my husband-to-be is now posting everyday, and not just anything…

He is posting our story. It’s the short, the oh so very short, version of it, but it’s there. So if you’re looking for something to read that has very much to do with me, and everything to do with us, go there. He has so far posted 3 out of 9 “chapters”, and you can find the first, second and third here. It may be of special interest to you because our story started right here, on WordPress, a little over 2 years ago now. I hope you’ll enjoy it.

In my freezer, I have 54 cinnamon-buns and 3 cheese and onion pies. I just removed 99 stickers from 33 candle-holders, and then washed and dried them individually. My arms are aching from carrying toddlers and groceries. I am very excited, rather stressed and so deeply happy.

 

 

I would like to be feeling like this:

calmbride

But I actually feel like this.

stressedbride

Oh well. It’ll all be fine.

Here Comes the Bride… (And who’s that? Oh. It’s just her shrink).

It is now a few hours less than 8 days  till my surname changes forever. In other words, I will be a married woman, and I am aware that I do not HAVE to change my name, and that I can change back to my “nee” at any moment… but since it is a voluntary action, I do not think we have to argue any further.

My wonderful husband-to-be is none other than a fellow WordPresser. In fact, we met through our respective blogs. It was far from intentional: he read an early blog of mine, he liked what he read, I read his blog, likewise, and a friendly exchange between bloggers began. To be honest, it never even entered my head that we could have any kind of romance ahead in our mutual future, nor that we would ever meet, or even speak outside of the “Leave a Comment” section on the other’s blog.

Ha ha ha.

Well, here we stand today… or rather, in 13 days and a few hours time. Since I will be going on and on about how we met and who we are and all the romantic stuff for several posts ahead, I would like to make this post one of caution… and no. I am not telling people not to get married. Duh. What? I’M getting married for crying out loud! I would never lecture people on that. No. I am instead going to make a weak attempt at being of help to other future brides out there, by listing a few things I didn’t really think about before the wedding, and which have come back to bite me in my more sensitive parts as the day draws near. These are:

1. People.

You may think that it is very obvious exactly who you want to attend your wedding, and who you’d never want to share your special day. Fair enough. To me, it seemed an easy enough question… and then POOF! Out of the blue, I certainly started thinking “how do these people get along? will that person get hurt if I invite him but not her? will these people want to sit together, or apart? is it too long ago that I saw that person to invite them? I know this person will say no, but should I invite them anyway, because it’s the right thing to do?” and hey presto! Your head is suddenly spinning with what-ifs and whose-its. So my number one recommendation is take time to THINK! You may end up not having invited some people that you in hindsight would really like to be there, or inviting some people out of guilt that you regret inviting once you think about the food and drink you’ll be treating them to… so stop to think. Take your time. You’re only getting married once (well, I am. If you’re undecided, maybe it’s not so important. Then you can forget about this one and move on).

2. Theme.

Now, I’m one of those wondrously naive people who can say stuff like “I don’t really care what it looks like/I never really thought about it/I’m sure it will all work out in the end” about things such as decor, venue, general theme of the wedding etc. *stifled laughter*. Mhm. Here’s the thing. Even if you, like me, haven’t spent your entire life planning your wedding-day into the tiniest and minutest of details, all of a sudden things which didn’t seem that important will take on a magnitude that the Sphinx can’t really compare to. So try not to sit there like me, a few days before the wedding, hoping you will be able to find something green in the wild to decorate the room with, that won’t whither and die within two second of being picked. And if you were wondering, yes, it will be important to get those specific candle-holders. Trust me on this. This wedding is stupidly simple, low-budget and laid-back… and the details are still hurting my brain.

3. Expense.

Think about that for a second. If you have a certain dream-wedding in mind, you will definitely want to think about the budget before you pick a date. And once you have thought about the budget, think about it some more. Try to come up with more possible expenses. We have already had multiple: my dress, which was only going to cost me £162 (custom-sown, ordered on the internet, including transport) ended up costing me another £78… in customs. This is a cost that many sites will conveniently forget to mention when you order, so you’ll have to look up possible customs expenses when you order from out-of-borders by yourself. Because when you are already hard up for wedding-funds, an unforeseen £78 is not what you want to have to pay.  We also have to pay extra for the ceremony, which would otherwise have been free, because our officiator is from a municipality not our own. And a cravatt can be much more expensive than you think. So sit down, think about the cost down to the nitty gritty details, and then add extra money (a lot of extra money) for the “in case” fund. Because there will be “I never thought about that” expenses.

4. Help from your friends.

My friends and family-members, and family-members-to-be, are truly wonderful people. If you are arranging a wedding where you are doing basically EVERYTHING yourselves, you will probably need to ask some people for help. Think about who to ask for what. Some people will gladly help you cook or set tables, whereas some may feel a bit insulted. Some you can trust with carrying those rings and getting your grandmother home safely, and some you can’t trust with pouring welcome-drinks. Asking for help can be difficult, and it is, for me. If you are worried about stepping on toes, try to gauge who actually would like to help, and who would just say “yes” to be polite. Just try to keep a nice balance on things: you don’t want to have a guest of yours working their a** off all day, but you don’t want to be standing there doing dishes and carrying chairs either.

5. Traditiooooooons. Traditions. TRADITIONS!

Today, quirky and modern is becoming increasingly popular. The bride shall carry the groom across the threshold, the mother will give her away and maybe the ceremony should be held whilst bungee-jumping? There are, naturally, still some very “conservative” weddings, with the white dress, the cake-cutting, the father-of-the-bride speech etc. I have no objections to either. What is important is to ask yourself: this thing that we are about to have/not have at our wedding, is it because WE want it or because a) we don’t want to follow tradition or b) we haven’t even thought about it simply being a tradition because everyone does it? There are some I’ve chosen to stick with: the cake, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”, bridal bouquet, brides-maid… but my dress will be champagne, my father won’t walk me down the aisle and our best man is a wonderful woman… but the title is still Best Man, so don’t you go trying to change that around now! 😉 Just consider that a wedding can be exactly the way you want it. Don’t let yourselves be governed by traditions, or the fear of them.

 

One last, tiny piece of advice… don’t panic. Douglas Adams said it right. My husband-to-be has tried to help me in this regard. When I start hyperventilating about the things that may go wrong, everything that will have to be done last minute and all the expenses, he does his best to calm me down. I can’t say I don’t panic occasionally anyway… but it certainly doesn’t help one bit. Here’s a friendly reminder, printed on our custom-made wedding-invitations:

20130719_015733

I don’t know if these words will help any desperate brides or grooms out there. It has given me a nice little venting-space, however, and something to type while the pasta-sauce is simmering to delicious, tomatoey thickness. I’m going to go boil some fusilli now. OK. Bye.

New Is Always Better

I know that I always say “this occurred to me the other day” or “something that has been bothering me for a while” and stuff like that. Well. This one just kind of slid in there. It hasn’t really bothered me, and it didn’t come to me in a flash of lightning with halos or Bach music. It gently settled in my brain and would not let go until I wrote it out. The reason this one itches in my brain is because I am wondering if it is true, or if I am merely tagging on to the “it was different back then” band-wagon of the people who think that “things are only getting worse all the TIME and the universe is going to implode REALLY REALLY SOON!”  I don’t know, because usually, my ball is never in that court. (Or rather, if I owned a ball, it wouldn’t be). I tend to think that little has changed about mankind over the last thousand or so years, and little will change. It does make sense, however, that with technological change and “improvement”, something will change in the way humans think and feel, and the greatest change I have perceived is this: new is always better. 

If you are awesome, like me, you will recognise this quote from How I Met Your Mother‘s Barney. Though he does little to give the argument credibility, we do our best to preserve its validity. There was a time when the older something was the more valuable. When the fact that you had had a bag for 10 years meant it was good quality and you should be proud, but it now means that you are stingy/un-hip/”poor you! you can’t afford a new bag!” Huh. Wait. Why is new always better?

I believe that I mentioned a similar issue in a blogpost not too long ago. Since it is so easy to find those “other fish in the sea”, people are not so wary about breaking up any more. There must be a switch somewhere in the back of our heads going “So this person you’re with… you love them very much, they’re alright, no real problems… but we’re just not as excited any more! The sex isn’t as great, we don’t talk as often, or as much, we’ve just lost it. Hey, who’s that hottie?” (I will concur that “hottie” is probably not a word that people use during an internal monologue, but you get my point). So we keep going, from new partner to new partner, because new is always better. It is exciting, it is different, we can go through all those tingly first feelings again, and think that this time, we are actually really in love… until it happens all over again.

So as we sit there, longing for the newest tv-series, the new iPhone, that organic cotton-rug from Madagascar, the solar-powered spaghetti-machine from Japan… As we worry about being able to afford a whole new wardrobe for the summer so people won’t see us wearing the same stuff, and what our next shade of dark-brown hair-dye is going to look like compared to the one we’ve got (I’m sorry, no-one will notice. Trust me. I’ve been there), and if the guy across the street has more abs than the guy next door so maybe we should focus our flirtations on him instead… do we question our reasoning? What is the logic behind this “new is always better” stuff?

My theory is that we are constantly stuck in an “upgrade in progress” loop, where we believe that we are improving ourselves and our lives through this new stuff. We are so busy admiring that thing we don’t have yet that we fail to notice all the things we DO have that we used to feel that way about. We get something new, and a week or two later, we rage about how inadequate it is, and start looking for what we should have gotten instead, and will certainly save up for. We notice all the ways that the thing we wanted didn’t meet our expectations, and firmly believe that there is something shiny out there that will, we just have to keep looking.

Aha. That must be why we are still looking. Because there obviously is, you just haven’t found it yet.

If you get tired at some point though, maybe you can re-evaluate what you are ACTUALLY looking for, as you huff and puff, flat out on the floor. My bet is that a) you already have it, b) your expectations are set too high, so stop watching all those Disney-movies and start looking at what life is actually like, or c) OK, so maybe this thing or person is out there, and they are real, and they are flawless and you’ll never ever get tired of them or bored because life will be all rosy and perfect if you find them… If you feel that way, by all means, keep looking. You may be right. In the meantime, I shall sit here with my broken, worn down things, and be extremely happy over having them. Partially because I see all these people around me being so frustrated with their new, shiny things that aren’t what they expected. And partially because I know I won’t find peace over the next hill, if I can’t find it right where I’m sitting. There is only one thing that getting something new will give you, and that is a guarantee: something new.

Turn-about is… fair play?

For thousands upon thousands of years, humans have perfected the art of suppressing, using, abusing, manipulating, taking advantage of, milking, sucking the life out of, making fun of, stealing, reaping, raping, mocking, hunting… just about everything. Ore from the earth, wood from trees, life from other animals, and most certainly, ourselves. We have refined this art: now we can pollute with ease, extract with skill, lie with expertise and shake the hands of our enemies as we put them in prison for years to come. The strangest of all these urges is that to belittle others. We can see it today, and have seen it in famous historical examples; mainly slavery and the suppression of women.

Due to these centuries of taking other people hostage and agreeing that women are not good for anything but childbirth and, perhaps, cooking, a new group of people has arisen among the masses. A group which is hated, mocked and scorned by all, a group which is rapidly losing their honour, and, through merely being born into this group, you will automatically be on the top list of “evil human beings” for the rest of your life: wealthy white men.

“Gasp!” you say. “How can you speak of them as ill treated?” you say. “They are no better than criminals!” you say. “They deserve what is coming to them!” you say. “They are all selfish, competitive, raping, racist bastards!” you say. Aha. So by virtue of being a wealthy, white man, you immediately become all of these things. I see. That is by no means racist, by no means judging someone  by their income, or sex. Not at all. Because if you were born with the upper hand, you deserve what is coming to you.

When did this happen? I guess it has always been this way. In previous societies, certain things were openly strived for, openly admired, but in a modern world, thirsty for what is fair, quirky, different and therefore better than mainstream, the things that used to be good are now despicable. Virtue? We want sexual freedom for all. Money? We should get rid of it and all live in harmony, trading services. Power? Power only ever leads to corruption.

In a million ways, I agree. And yet. How is it fair that a comedian who is African-American, Jewish, Indian, Chinese or [insert ethnic group that is not classed as “white” here] can make the most racist jokes and remarks about any other group… because they are not “white”? How is it fair that female comedians can rant about the shortcomings of men for hours, and this brings the house down… but if a man makes a single joke about a woman, this is sexist? When did “turn the other cheek” and “do unto others” become “do as others have done previously because you can because revenge is justice, at least if taken by what has been a weaker party”? (I love Russel Peters, by the way. He’s hilarious. My point is, if he gets to make racist jokes, so should everyone else).

I am not saying there have not been some terrible acts of injustice throughout history, or that there are none today. I am not saying that wealthy, powerful white men do not have an awful lot coming to them… as long as the person in question is a chauvinistic, selfish, racist arse. But I am fighting for that other guy. The father who is deemed worthless because he didn’t “have to carry the baby for nine months”. The young man who is a “slob who lives in his parents basements and just plays video-games all the time”. The boy in the hoodie on the street who is “bad seed”. The husband who is inconsiderate because he doesn’t “take me out” or “talk for hours like we used to” or “bring me flowers anymore”. ANY man who isn’t “good enough in bed”.

Shame on us. Shame on the sex that asks for all the benefits, but none of the responsibility. That father might well have wished to be able to carry that child for nine months, but was not able to, due to his physiology. A woman can go to a sperm-bank and become a single mother, but a man could never get this chance, because he is unable to carry a child. That young man may be no worse than a young woman living with her parents, but because she spends her time writing a blog, scrap-booking, painting her toe-nails and talking to her friends on the phone, she is somehow better, a good girl, a virtuous, productive young woman who is simply taking her time to make her choices in life. And the hoodie. All the hoodie is is a light jacket with a piece of cloth attached to the top. Wow. Are we really going to pass someone off as a dangerous criminal, a junkie, a nobody because they choose to wear this garment? That husband, why is it always his job to bring flowers, book a table, start a conversation? What husband complains about his wife “neglecting the romance” in their marriage? But above and beyond all; when did it become the man’s job to make sure that a) you have the best sex of your life every time you do anything at all and b) he has the best sex of his life, because you shouldn’t have to lift a finger to please him?

Why do we stand there, jeering at these “worthless, selfish, sloppy, slow, overrated MEN”, expecting them to do everything for us, and yet claiming to be self-sufficient and strong? They have to start doing dishes and cooking, but we don’t have to put up a shelf or mow the lawn. They should be home more with the children, so that we can pursue our career… if we want to. Preferably, they should bring in the money AND take care of the children, so we can go off and take art-courses and long vacations, because being mothers and wives and poorly treated women entitles us to do nothing and get pampered.

Yes, things that have been done to, and are still being done to, women are absolutely AWFUL. Suppression in physical, mental and emotional ways is an everyday occurrence in many countries. But why should a generation of men who are learning much from their mothers, from a time when liberation of women and equality is on a constant rise, have to suffer the most for the actions of their fathers and grandfathers? Should the Germans of today be punished for Hitler’s actions? Should all the white Americans be shipped out of the U.S, because their forefathers took the land of Native Americans, and it is rightfully theirs, so piss off? And if we should all have to bear the consequences of our forefathers actions, and take the punishment for their mistakes and cruelty, how far back do we go? Homo sapiens were responsible for the genocide of the Neanderthal. Should we all be killed for that?

Inequality is shit. Suppression is horrible, slavery is inexcusable and chauvinism is just plain stupid. These things have existed, and do exist. It is something we should always strive to get away from, something we should always fight to stop. But fighting fire with fire has never been effective. Attacking men for their fathers’ actions is not going to make those actions go away, it is simply creating a new group of suppressed people. If we want equality, we are going to have to start treating everyone as an equal. EVERYONE. Even the pariah of today, the wealthy, white man.