Category Archives: Twoo Wuv

Wherein Our Hero Discovers He's Been On Earth All Along

All in all, I think that Jennifer has probably made the transition from engaged to married more smoothly than I have. While I still find myself stopping dead in my tracks from time to time (inconvenient when I’m driving at eighty miles an hour down highway 80) and thinking to myself, "Wow! I’m really married now!", Jennifer says that she doesn’t feel all that different from when we were just engaged and living with each other. Well, okay, perhaps there isn’t that much different on a physical level — we still breathe the same air, live in the same house, and our feelings for each other haven’t changed. But on an existential level, there is a difference between being engaged and being married. I can’t really put my finger on it, but I’m sure that there is. Or maybe I’m just imagining the whole thing.

The hours leading up to the ceremony were hectic and stressful for me, and nothing compared to what Jennifer and her mother had to deal with, what with the seamstress running obscenely late (the ceremony was nearly an hour late because the seamstress was still sewing the groomsmen’s shirts at the last minute and trying to fix the bridesmaids’ dresses which had somehow become far too small between the last fitting and the day of the wedding). Fortunately one of the dancers from the dance troupe that came to perform at the wedding was well versed in Renaissance garb in general and helped all of us men put our outfits on and made sure we looked at least halfway decent wearing them. The only problem for me was that I wanted to take my groomsmen out to lunch before the ceremony, but between one thing and another we wound up having to go to a different restaurant than the one I’d wanted to go to in the first place, and then my best man and I ended up at the church with about one minute to spare.

I don’t remember all that much about the ceremony itself. I remember seeing the flower girl stumble her way down the aisle, upending her basket of flowers and spilling them all out on the floor and then deciding to take a nap midway down the aisle; I remember something about some vows that we exchanged; I remember Jennifer’s father coming close to tears; I remember my best man clapping me on the shoulder just before the ceremony when I confessed, "Now I’m nervous"; and, of course, I remember Jennifer walking down the aisle, glowing in her dress, more beautiful and radiant than I had ever seen her before. I remember standing up with the minister, holding Jennifer’s hand, and falling in love with her all over again.

As her wedding gift to me, Jennifer gave me a new computer, which her brother-in-law (which, I guess, she shares with me now) had put together and built for me. It’s got Windows 2000, Linux, and just about every bell and whistle that I could ever want. And it’s ironic that while I’ve probably spent more time in front of this computer than I ever did in front of my old computer, I’ve found myself with even less time than I ever did to post to this journal. I’ve been merrily learning about Samba and Linux networking to get my new box talking to the network that Jennifer and I have set up in our house, I’ve figured out how to keep our computers with static IP addresses even though our router is set up with a DHCP server, and I’ve even figured out how to use my old laptop computer as a primitive web server in addition to its duties as a file server and a print server. I haven’t yet figured out how to use Samba to print from my Linux box through the old laptop, but I’ve learned how to use my Linux computer to read files from Jennifer’s old Windows 95 machine. That part was easy.

And in addition to that I’ve been spending a lot of time playing this really cool horror FPS game called Undying. Far too much time, I suppose. All in all, I’ve been sleeping a lot less than I should over the past couple of weeks. I only hope that Jennifer hasn’t been feeling neglected.

Not, of course, that Jennifer is any less of a nerd than I am. For our one-week anniversary, Jennifer and I used some of the gift cards we’d gotten from Best Buy and picked up a Sony Dreamcast game station and a copy of House of the Dead 2. We’ve spent many a happy hour together since then shooting zombies and laughing at the cheesy voice overs and smiling warmly at the oozing green blood of melting undead creatures.

I tell Jennifer that her left pinky toe is corrupt and is bent on world domination, which is why that is the only part of her that I don’t love. She just looks at me strangely and says, "Yes, dear," in a strangely condescending voice.

Last night we went with some friends to see Tim Burton’s "re-imagination" of The Planet of the Apes. I can only hope that Tim Burton’s hands were tightly bound while this movie was being filmed, because it’s the first Burton movie that I didn’t like. Well, okay, let me amend that. When I first heard that Tim Burton was going to remake The Planet of the Apes, I thought, "This could be cool." But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I haven’t seen a single remake of a classic science fiction film that I thought was any good. I could give Tim Burton’s version two stars only because it didn’t suck as bad as I thought it was going to. I can only hope that the reason why Tim Burton made this film was because someone in Hollywood had decided that by God this film was going to be made, and Tim Burton stepped bravely forward and said he’d do it. Sort of like the guy who throws himself on a landmine so that other people can live.

The word "re-imagination" should be banned. It doesn’t mean, "A reinterpretation of the original source material." It means, "Not willing to go the extra distance to make the remake anywhere as provocative as the original." Tim Burton’s film was full of gaping holes, inconsistencies that make you question your very sanity, and unresolved plot lines that scream, "SEQUEL COMING!". And there was a twist at the end, but the twist at the end of this film carried none of the power of the twist at the end of the original. When I saw the last few minutes of this film, I wasn’t shocked or surprised or anything… Instead, I found myself laughing out loud. I couldn’t help myself. It was ludicrous.

If you’ve never seen the ending of the original Planet of the Apes and have no idea what it is (which I doubt, since it’s probably the most classic twist ending in the history of science fiction and has become a mainstay of modern American culture), go out and rent it right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait. I just don’t want to spoil anything for you.

Okay, so now you know that Taylor, Charlton Heston’s character, was on Earth all along. And isn’t that always the way it is? Just when you think that you’ve landed on another planet, you discover that you’re really at home after all.

Being married is kind of like that… only without the nuclear holocaust and the enslavement of humanity (though I guess some people might differ on that second point). It’s honestly not all that different from when we were engaged, I suppose, but still… something has changed.

And I’m finding it pretty damn wonderful.

To My Best Friend

Dear Jennifer,

Today is the day that we are married.

Do you remember over a year ago when we sat down in Borders in Davis with our calendars and your Palm Pilot and tried to pin down this date? We had to worry about the fact that half of my family has birthdays during this time of year, close friends of ours have wedding anniversaries, and so on. But we wanted to do it at this time of year — I don’t remember why.

And I remember how I proposed to you: by making it a hypothetical at first, asking, "If I were to propose to you, what would you say to me?" It was late at night, we’d been dating for just three weeks, and we’d spent the entire day together — as usual. I’d made my mind up that morning that I wanted to marry you, and I’d spent the entire day trying to figure out how to ask you. In the end, of course, I took the wimpy way out. But you still yes.

We joke with each other and with our families and friends about the reasons why we’re getting married. "Our friend dared me to marry her." "I lost a bet." "I drew the short straw." "I felt sorry for him." And so on. Of course, we both know that the reason I asked you was because I love you more than I ever thought I could love anyone, and I knew that I wanted to spend my life with you.

I thought I knew you a year ago. Since then, we’ve been through a lot together: job crises, job changes, house building, various family issues, friend issues, sick cats, late night emergency room visits, far too much traveling. I’ve seen you in good moods and bad, laughing and crying, happy and angry. Out of everyone I know, you’re the only one who can send me a single word on Instant Messenger and make me spew coffee all over my keyboard at work (people at work know by now that random laughter from my cubicle usually means that I’ve just gotten another e-mail or another Instant Message from you and they no longer question it). You’re the only one I know who can smile at me and make me know that whatever stupid thing I’ve done is forgiven. You’re the only one I’ve ever wanted to marry, that I’ve ever wanted to spend the rest of my days with.

So many times over the past year I’ve held you close at night or sat next to you in the car, or laughed at a joke you said. So many times I’ve looked over at you while you slept and sat the light of the streetlamp outside our window shine down on your face and thought how beautiful you are.

Every relationship has problems. Every marriage has its good years and its bad. All I can do for you at this moment is repeat the promise I made during the ceremony: that I will be faithful to you all of our lives, that I will love you with all my heart and all my soul, and that I will hold you close to my heart forever.


Two More Weeks

Sometimes, I go through periods where I’ll write an entry for this journal just about every day. At other times, a week or two will go by without me writing a thing. I think at this point I’ve gone for more than two weeks. I hope that I haven’t lost my one or two regular readers as a result.

I’ve kept myself busy at work by cracking down hard on those new languages that I’ve decided to teach myself. I have gone through about half of the C book that I purchased, and I’m finding the basic concepts fairly easy. I wrote a small program to do a quick calculation that Jennifer and I are constantly making for Weight Watchers, and it worked perfectly. Spurred on by my success, I launched Code Warrior and began to try writing a version for my Palm Pilot. I quickly found myself mired in forms, in code, events, menus, and so on. I had hoped to finish this program by this weekend so that Jennifer and I would have it on our Palm Pilots, but I wasn’t able to get it done. My next goal is to get it done by the end of the week.

I’m learning Java rapidly as well, and finding it an enjoyable and easy language to learn. Learning to program, I’ve decided, is easy. Learning to program well is hard.

So learning C, Palm OS, and Java have kept me busy for the past couple of weeks at work while the other Sacramento developer and I have sat and waited for something to do. Finally, though, the day before yesterday, we got a new project. One of the developers up in Portland had developed a new template to use for the company’s corporate site, and it fell to B– and me to take care of copying and pasting content from the old templates into the new ones. I’m certainly not expecting that every task at work will be an exciting one, but this is kind of ridiculous. This is the kind of work that companies hire temporary employees for. My title in my company is Senior Web Developer, and it’s gotten to the point where I’m embarrassed to use that title in internal business; copy-and-paste is certainly not senior level work. I’ll happily use that title on my resume, though. My boss told me, "Do a good job on this project and keep volunteering for new projects; that’s how you’ll get out of doing nothing but HTML." I was a bit too frustrated at the time to remind him that I’d been working on just that for nearly a year, and that I’d been involved in a number of projects before the corporate restructuring that went beyond this level of work. B– and I have decided to implement the code to the strictest levels of HTML 4.1 specifications as outlined at the W3C, if for no other reason than to make this project at least a minor challenge for us. According to the initial sizing of the project, it will take about two weeks to finish this one up; I expect it will take a lot less time than that. In the meantime, I have updated my resume and I’ve posted it and put myself back on the market. I’ve already received a couple of calls, and I expect that I will be able to find myself a more challenging position soon. And this is the primary reason I have for wanting to leave my current job: it holds no challenge at all for me anymore, and the level of work that I’m being asked to do at this point is almost insulting.

On a much more positive note, though, it’s now exactly two weeks until the wedding. In fact, I’m writing these words at about eight o’ clock in the evening, and in exactly two weeks from this moment, Jennifer and I will have been husband and wife for about twenty minutes. There is still a lot to do, a lot to worry about, a lot for Jennifer to panic about. Will the groomsmen all have their boots in time? Will my scabbard show up in time? Will the Christmas lights provide enough lighting for the older folks to be comfortable in the social hall for the reception? And so on and so on.

And there’s a part of me which still feels overwhelmed at the whole thing. I remember breaking up with my last girlfriend before Jennifer and thinking that I would be perfectly happy to be single for the rest of my life. I also remember, though, those times when I knew that there was something missing from my life, and when I knew I would never find a soulmate or someone that I could share my life with.

And here I am, two weeks away from being married to my best friend, the most wonderful person I have ever know, the best thing that has ever happened for me. These next two weeks, as we deal with marriage licenses, rehearsals, and so on, are going to be busy and hectic. I just hope that it won’t be another two weeks until I get to post again!


When I first met you two or three years ago, at a Dungeons and Dragons game that a mutual friend was running, I thought to myself, "That is the woman I’m going to marry."

It was just a flicker of a thought. I didn’t give it much thought, because we met and then we were slaying orcs or Squirrels of Rage together or something. And we talked and I noted how your smile made your whole face light up, how your laugh was infectious, how beautiful you were, how easy it was to talk and laugh with you, and how being in the same with you made me feel.

Of course, at the time, you were working in another state during the week and I was dating someone else, so, of course, nothing could come of it.

Time passed; we each dated other people, each of us made some errors in judgement. Sometimes we went months without seeing each other. One night you came over and we watched Drop Dead Fred together… I almost kissed you that night, but something wasn’t quite yet in sync. I don’t know what it was. There were some things we each had to go through first.

At our friends’ wedding, we were both in the bridal party and we sat next to each other at the bridal table, laughing, writing notes, teasing the best man. I noticed again how beautiful you were in the dress you wore. I thought to myself, "I really should marry this woman."

But you were dating someone else, and things still weren’t quite right. I met someone else that night and she and I spent time with each other, even though my heart was with you most of the time: at the Halloween party you threw, at the New Year’s Eve party, at Christmas when we were teased into a perfunctory kiss under the mistletoe.

Then, one year ago, we went to the Scottish Highland Games with a friend of ours. We watched the caber toss. We ate nachos at a Mexican restaurant in downtown Davis. We laughed, you bought a stone dragon (one of the two stone dragons that guards our front door even now), we went for ice cream, and then we called it a day.

But the day wasn’t over. I got home and started to watch a movie I’d rented, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, with Danny Kaye. And I couldn’t stop thinking about you and the day we’d just spent together. On a whim, I sent you an Instant Message and asked if you wanted to come over and watch a movie with me. I was expecting you to say no, that you were too tired, that you needed to work the next day. But you said yes, and I hurriedly cleaned my room so that you wouldn’t be too appalled when you came over.

And that night after the movie was laughed, we talked, we teased. And there you were, your face just a few inches from mine. I hesitated, knowing that if it was the wrong thing, I’d lose you as a friend and I wouldn’t have been able to stand not having you in my life at all. But I kissed you anyway. And to my amazement you kissed me back.

And that night when you lay in my arms, I knew I’d been right all along. You were the woman I was going to marry.

We spent a couple of days dancing around the issue: what did it all mean? Were we friends? Would we keep seeing each other? What would happen next?

Since then, we’ve at least spoken to each other every single day; even when we were in two different states, even when we were on opposite ends of the continent, even when we were tired, sick, angry at each other, angry at our jobs, we always talked. Not a single day has gone by that I haven’t heard your voice or thought about you or marveled at how lucky I am that I get to be the one to marry you.

I’ve always laughed when hearing the term "soulmate"; I never believed in such things. Now I do, and I wonder how I ever felt complete without you.

It’s been a year now. And it’s been the best year of my entire life.

A Loss for Words

Yesterday in our office, our help desk manager announced to the developers at large that he felt he was lucky because his fiancee had told him flat out that she didn’t expect anything special for Valentine’s Day. He felt he was off the hook. The other developers, who are all married, nodded at his innocence and looked sadly at each other. I felt I had to say something, so I peered over the cubicle wall and looked him straight in the eye. "Based on past experience," I told him, "if your girlfriend or lover or fiancee or wife tells you, ‘I don’t want anything special for Valentine’s Day’, what she really means is this: ‘If you don’t do something special for Valentine’s Day, you’re going to be emasculated.’"

Having said that, I have to confess that I have been, on the whole, very fortunate. Most of my life, I haven’t had anyone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with. Sometimes I was okay with that, sometimes it depressed the heck out of me. For those years when there was someone with me on Valentine’s Day, I was usually quite fortunate to have someone who meant it when she said that she didn’t want a big deal made out of the holiday. In fact, I’ve only ever had one girlfriend who said to me, "Let’s not do anything special, Valentine’s Day makes me sick", and who subsequently gave me no end of grief when I took her word for it. (Actually, I didn’t; we went to dinner that night, but because we were both very poor she suggested that we split the tab. We did, and that was what I got the grief for: taking her at her word when she said she wanted to split the tab. Go figure.)

On the whole, Valentine’s Day has never really meant all that much to me. The first time I had a girlfriend on Valentine’s Day, I wrote her a short story and she gave me a big box of chocolates; and I think that was the last time I really did anything all that special on a Valentine’s Day (two days later, that girlfriend and I broke up; maybe it just wasn’t a very good short story). In subsequent years, I’d gone out to dinner and a movie with friends, or with myself. I remember one year I went to a vegetarian restaurant with a housemate that I had a big crush on; naturally, she didn’t quite feel the same way about me, and The English Patient is not necessarily a great date movie, but I suppose we both still had a good time.

Of course, there was also that year when, in an attempt to break myself out of a "it’s-Valentine’s-Day-and-I’m-alone" depression, I decided to take myself out to dinner and a movie… and fell down the stairs from my apartment, breaking a toe. But we won’t go into that one.

It is important, though, to do something special on Valentine’s Day. Not that there is anything special or magical about February 14; but it’s important to take some time and make it special with the people that you love. In the past, I’ve always thought that doing something special meant going out to dinner at a nice restaurant, maybe seeing a movie, going out of my way to be incredibly "romantic" and charming and so on. To be honest, just the idea always kind of wore me out.

But this year was different. Because we both have such hectic work schedules (even when we’re both in the same state), it’s frequently much easier for us to meet at a restaurant for dinner on the way home from our respective jobs, or grab something at a drive through, or go out for dinner after we’ve both been at home for half an hour or so and are both too exhausted to do anything about cooking. So, going out for dinner is not really a special event for us. But my boss had given me a bonus to do something nice for Jennifer for Valentine’s Day (the job may be insane and the working hours outrageous, but my boss is terrific), so we celebrated in our own way: by having dinner at home. We had sliced cheese, fruit, and home made pretzels that Jennifer had baked. We ate at the dining room table — an unusual situation in itself, since when we do get to eat at home we’re usually eating in the computer room or at the coffee table in the living room! — with candles for lighting and her cats to serenade us. Jennifer had put more planning into our Valentine’s Day dinner than I had, and I really appreciated it. Jennifer has a way of letting me know how she feels for me without saying a word, and I’ve never doubted her feelings.

In some ways, being with Jennifer is very unusual for me. Jennifer comes with no ambiguity. I’ve always known where I stand with her; there have been times when I wasn’t sure if she was upset with me or just tired after a long day, but if I ask her and she tells me, "I’m just tired," I know that’s what it is. I’ve always appreciated that sort of honesty and openness (though I was once told that my appreciation of such honesty was really just a cover-up for my own laziness and unwillingness to put forth any effort in a relationship — not, thankfully, by Jennifer, of course).

Jennifer enhances everything in my life. I tend to be a bit of a loner, and I value my privacy and my solitude. But I have never preferred solitude to having Jennifer in the same room with me. When other girlfriends have left for a few days, I’ve always breathed a sigh of relief to have some time with myself. But Jennifer is almost like a part of myself; I breathe a sigh of relief when she comes home.

Frequently, I find that I just don’t have the words to express the way I feel for Jennifer. When I try, my tongue gets crowded up in my mouth or my fingers stumble over my keyboard.
Fortunately, though, sometimes Jennifer is able to say just the right things for me. And when she writes like this, how can I possibly doubt how she feels about me?

A Bonding Moment

I’ve written before — and some of my readers might say, "Too much" — about my feelings for Jennifer. About how much I love her. About how much I adore her. About how strong I feel our relationship is. And so on. Read my November 6, 2000 entry on the subject, and believe me when I say that that particular entry is probably the best expression of my feelings.

Jennifer and I have been dating for just over six months now, and we’ve had many moments of close intimacy and bonding. But Sunday night marked a new stage in our relationship, one that I never have reached with anyone else before. One which is truly meaningful for both of us.

But first, a bit of backstory. Not much, I promise.

We decided some months ago that this was going to be our last year celebrating Thanksgiving with our separate families. We could have opted to spend Thanksgiving together with her family or with mine, and neither family would have objected; but it seemed best not to do so for one last year. So on Wednesday night, I drove down to San Jose, spent a few wonderful days with my parents, my sister (and her new boyfriend), my aunt and my uncle, and had a great time. On Saturday my mom informed me that she was essentially kicking me out; in years past I’ve stayed with them until the last possible moment on Sunday evening; but, then, I’ve never really had a strong reason to return home. Now, I couldn’t wait to get back home to see Jennifer again. My mom, wise woman that she is, sensed that and told me that it was perfectly okay for me to leave early. My dad put up a token objection (more in jest than anything else), and my mom replied, "I’m kicking him out!" To which my dad replied, "Well, that’s all right then."

So late Saturday night, after dinner with my sister and her new boyfriend, I drove back up here to Woodland and came home to be with Jennifer again. I’d missed her terribly.

The next morning, Jennifer woke up early with a stomach flu. She’d awakened earlier to throw up, and… Well, let’s just say that the rest of that day was not a pleasant one for her.

When the stomach cramps started up, I asked her if she wanted to go to the emergency room. She told me no, she’d be fine. So I let her lie, bringing her water or soda when she asked for it, and I spent the day reading. In the early evening I got hungry and decided to go to a cafe to get something to eat and do some writing. As I left the parking lot, I called Jennifer on my cell phone and asked her if she wanted me to pick up anything for her on the way home.

"No", she said. But then she told me that she was feeling really bad, and that she thought she should probably go to the hospital after all.

I drove home quickly, visions of abdominal cancer and civil ceremonies in December (instead of our planned ceremony in July) flying through my head, and got to Jennifer’s bedside. I called the advice line listed on her insurance card, and went through her symptoms; and something about tenderness in Jennifer’s abdomen caused the advice nurse to say, "I’m recommending that you take her to the emergency room.

So I did. Nurses and doctors poked and prodded at her and said that she was probably suffering from a virus, possibly a parasitical infection. No idea where that could have come from, of course, and it was really unlikely. Nevertheless, the doctor wanted a stool sample for laboratory analysis, just in case.

Unfortunately, Jennifer could not produce a sample for testing. "Well, that’s all right," the nurse said cheerfully. "Just take this pan and these vials home with you tonight, and collect it yourself. Then bring it back here to the lab later tonight."


Double ugh.

The thought of collecting a stool sample from myself is nauseating. The thought of collecting someone else’s is even more so. But Jennifer is Jennifer and I love her, so I was willing.

Honest to God, that nurse had no right to be that cheerful.

We got home, and Jennifer informed me that she would spare me the thrill of collecting a sample, and that she was willing to do it herself. I asked the token "AreyousurebecauseI’mwillingtodoithoneyokaynoproblemyougoaheadandthankGod?" and let her have at it. When she was done, she handed me three little vials in a plastic bag.

"These have to go to the hospital lab," she said.

I took the bag with two fingers. "Ew," I said. The idea of taking this plastic bag and what it contains in my brand new car to the hospital was, honestly… well, not too pleasant.

But, this is Jennifer, and I love her. So, of course, I did it. I took the bag, and the samples therein, in my brand new car, to the hospital. I handed it to the laboratory technician, saying sarcastically, "I’ve brought some treats!" The lab tech, to her credit, didn’t even blink when she opened the bag and looked at the samples. "Oh, okay," she said. "This is perfect."

Perfect. That’s what she said.

So, to all you men out there who think you’re truly in love with your mates, I ask you this: do you really love her? How far are you willing to go for her? Will you feed her cats? Will you wash her car? Fix her computer? Deliver her fecal matter to the hospital? You have to think about these things carefully, especially if you’re considering marriage.

I’ve said that one of the reasons why I love Jennifer is because she won’t take shit from me. Apparently, the reverse can’t be said now, because, after all, I’ve proven that I’m quite willing to take shit from her.

And, furthermore, I’m even willing to take it to the hospital. And I’d do it again.


‘Twas Boston, and the slithy code Did sputter and crash within the web All flimsy was the buggy code And the home page outgrabe.

The fact that the last stanza of "Jabberwocky" is the same as the first has always haunted me. It’s the story of a hero who goes out and kills something — or, as Alice says, "Somebody killed something, that’s plain" — but I’ve always had the sense that even at the end of the story, things go back to the way they were, and everything starts over. In our own lives, there’s repetition; but even if you think you’re in a loop, there are always changes; and frequently the changes are for the better, if you can work the loop just right.

Sometimes you just need to get away. Sometimes you need to get as far away as you can from normal, everyday reality and find someplace that turns words inside out and lands everything on its head.

It was on the first night of my trip to Boston. I was looking at the upcoming couple of weeks and realized that between various business trips, it looked like Jennifer and I were going to be seeing very little of each other throughout mid November. Things had been pretty crazy up until that point as well, and the day in Boston had already been overwhelming, even though I’d only been there a couple of hours.

So, I called up Jennifer from Boston and told her that between everything that was going on and everything that we figured would be going on, we were going to definitely need some time away with just each other. I suggested that we do something that I had always wanted to do, but had never done because I had never had anyone with whom I would have wanted to do it: go to a bed-and-breakfast inn.

Originally, we both wanted to go to someplace in Carmel, which is a really beautiful part of the central coast. But after looking at various inns on-line for half an hour or so, we stumbled across a place called The Jabberwock Inn, located in Monterey. Instantly, we both knew that this was the place for us to go; I mean, with a name like The Jabberwock Inn, how could we not go? I called, made our reservations for this past weekend, and we spent the next month eagerly anticipating our getaway.

It’s about a three-hour drive from Woodland to Monterey, especially if you decide — as we did — to take the scenic route and go down Highway 1. After a bit of confusion in the San Francisco area (we were saved by a kindly tollbooth operator who gently told us exactly how to get to 1 from 80) we managed to get to the right stretch of road, and southward we headed. And after several playings of Billy Joel and Barenaked Ladies albums, and passing by miles of fields filled with mysterious green growing things (later identified as brussels sprouts and artichokes), we arrived in Monterey and at the Jabberwock.

It was like stepping into a little world all its own; from the moment we drove past the hedges and onto the brick of the parking lot, I felt like we had passed through a doorway leading from a hectic world of broken product releases and insane development schedules and into a world populated by dodo birds, playing cards, talking rabbits, and just plain quiet. The Jabberwock was decorated in a Victorian style, with intricately patterned wallpaper, bookshelves filled with dozens of copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass; and in just about every corner, hidden from view in almost every case, some new figurine or ornament or detail relating the Wonderland. A statue of a dodo bird in the foyer. A pewter statue of Alice in the garden. That sort of thing. The innkeeper served us sherry and hors d’oeuvres before dinner, chocolate chip cookie and milk before bed, and breakfast in the morning.

Our room was large, with a huge bed, a comfortable couch and reading chair, and no stereo, TV, telephone, or even a place to plug in our laptop computers. Not that we’d brought out computers, of course; the whole point was to get away from that sort of thing for the weekend. We spent a very relaxing night in the inn, enjoyed a great breakfast in the company of friendly strangers, walked along Cannery Row in Monterey, listened to the seals barking in the harbor and the seagulls crying out overhead, and generally just enjoyed ourselves.

On the way back, we passed more mysterious green growing things, bought two stalks of brussels sprouts, showed off Spiff II to my parents (who both cringed when they saw the brussels sprouts — but that’s a story for another day), and drove back home with enough time left over in the day to go out and see Charlie’s Angels — a cheesy but fun film.

So the weekend passed, and Monday came back at us, with more flimsy code, more broken products, more bugs, more meetings, more insane development schedules. The borogoves were mimsy all over again. But when you can take time to work on things, or even just take a couple of days to leave the world and focus on who you are and who you are as a couple — even if you don’t spend a lot of time in "deep conversation", like we did at the Engaged Encounter weekend — something still changes. The Jabberwock — the monster, not the wonderful inn — might still be lurking around the tulgey wood; but now it’s just a little less intimidating, because you’ve come just a bit closer to the partner that you’re going to be spending your life with.


Because she makes me laugh.

Because her smile lights up her entire face.

Because she laughs hysterically at little things.

Because she remains calm under pressure.

Because when she does lose her cool, she doesn’t take it out on me.

Because when she gets frustrated, she says things like, "Foodle".

Because I have fun watching her play with her cats.

Because she took me to the hospital when I got sick and stayed with me the whole time, smiling at me and making me laugh.

Because she’s comfortable sleeping on my shoulder while I read a book.

Because she encourages me when I’m feeling down.

Because she tells me I’m full of shit when I need to hear it.

Because she loves my family.

Because her family loves me, and I love them.

Because she puts up with me when I gripe about my job.

Because she convinced me of how important it is to have a red plastic monkey ride in my car with me (not that I needed convincing, of course).

Because I would trust her with my heart, my life, and my soul.

Because she knows that just because we have a good relationship, we should never stop working on making it better.

Because she’s one of the most generous and giving people I know, but she still knows how important it is receive gifts graciously, too.

Because the fact that the engagement ring I gave her is a family heirloom is much more important to her than how valuable it might be.

Because she knows she’s not perfect, but she likes herself anyway.

Because she thinks my friends are cool.

Because she likes classic horror movies.

Because she likes movies like Pay It Forward, too.

Because she jokes with me on AOL Instant Messenger.

Because she’s goofy and silly and serious and mature.

Because when I proposed to her, she asked me if I really liked the plans she had chosen for the house, or if I wanted to choose out a new set of plans with her.

Because she’s intelligent and opinionated, and isn’t afraid to show it.

Because she’s my best friend.

Because I could never imagine being happy with anyone else.

Because she tells me she’s the luckiest woman in the world.

Because I know that I’m the luckiest man in the world.

Because she brings out the very best in me, and inspires me to be a better person.

Because the first time I ever saw her, I knew that she was the woman I wanted to marry.

Because the feeling that I had the first time I kissed her has yet to fade away.

Just because.

The Lion Sleeps

A few weeks ago, the good friend who had introduced me to Jennifer in the first place asked me how the two of us were getting along.

I hesitated for some time, not looking directly at him.

Finally, he said to me, "Not that good, eh?"

To which I replied, "Oh, no, it’s not that. I’m just trying to figure out how to say it without descending into disgusting mush that would make you sick."

"Oh, lay it on me, Rich. I can take it."

So finally I said, "Well, it’s like this. Jennifer fills a Jennifer-shaped hole in my heart that I never even knew was there."

Well, so there it is. Sometimes a person fits with you so completely that you can’t even conceive of not having that person there in your life with you: like two picture-puzzle pieces that fit together so perfectly that you can’t even tell that there is a seam there at all. It’s hard to describe such feelings without getting mushy and goofy.

I’ve known Jennifer for over two years at this point; and during that entire time, I’ve been attracted to her, and thought she was one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. I even remember thinking, on the day that we met at a Dungeons and Dragons game, "That’s the woman I’m going to marry someday.

Of course, two years passed before anything happened. At times I was involved with someone else; and at other times, she was. There were times when we were both single, but neither of us was ready. But when Jennifer and I got together in April, and when we got engaged in May, it was right; sometimes, these things are. I’ve never doubted, for an instant, that Jennifer was the perfect match for me.

Other people did have doubts, though. I remember that her parents were concerned when they heard the news; after all, they had only met me once prior to our breaking the news to them, and that had been three weeks before, and I had been introduced to them as Jennifer’s "friend" — which was true, since on that night Jennifer and I weren’t anything more than friends. My own parents were a bit more prepared for the shock, having met Jennifer at least once before in the context of us being a "couple" (actually, this is a misstatement — when they heard the news, my mom shouted, "YAHOO!!" and my dad said something along the lines of, "It’s about damned time!").

Jennifer and I have never had any doubts. But to help others around us who might have had any doubts, last weekend we attended an Engaged Encounter weekend, a weekend designed for couples like us who are planning to get married. We went in prepared for some hard questions and difficult discussions, some serious examination into our own relationship. We thought we’d discussed all of the issues, we thought we were pretty well-prepared.

We still do. The weekend held no surprises for us; during all of our intense discussions, we found ourselves facing questions and issues that we had already faced before; both of us are people who like to have plans, who like to know what issues are going to come up and how they might be dealt with. So none of what we discussed at Engaged Encounter revealed anything new to either of us; we’d discussed issues of long-term career planning, finances, family, religion, end-of-life issues, and more.

This is not to say that the weekend was valueless to us, though. In the midst of our insane schedules, it was important that we take some time away from our computers, our cell phones, and our jobs to make time for us. We both agree that this relationship is our number one priority in our lives, and nothing should get in the way of that. But more importantly, it was good for us to be with other couples who were discussing the same issues we were discussing, and to share some of our experiences with them, and to gain some insights into some of their own solutions to particular issues. We settled the question of finances over the weekend, for example, with some help from another couple that had worked out a good solution that we think might work for us.

Love is probably blind. We’re trying to enter this with our eyes wide open, though; I think one of the reasons we’ve been able to make this work is the full knowledge that things won’t always be perfect. There will be times when we fight, when we get frustrated or angry with each other, and so on. Every marriage, they say, has its good years and its bad years. What’s more important for us, we both figure is not that we try to make every year a good year, but that we know how to deal with the bad years (and we both know that if we make it all the way through this coming year, we’ll be able to make it through anything).

But what it really boils down to for me, and what, ultimately, is the only thing I need to know, is that I love Jennifer. More than anything. Whether we’re speeding down the highway, late to Engaged Encounter, laughing hysterically as we sing along with Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, or dancing clumsily in the computer room to "The Lion Sleeps" by the Nylons, or planning our future together, or being grateful that we both are inheriting wonderful in-laws, or simply holding each other late at night, the love I feel for Jennifer never falters and never wavers. Marrying Jennifer makes me the luckiest man alive.

There’s that hole in my heart that I never even knew existed; it was made for Jennifer, and now she’s here to fill it. How could it have ever been empty?

Slaves of the Volcano God and Other Amazing Adventures

Every year, for several years, my parents have given me strangely-titled books for Christmas as stocking stuffers. The quality of the books haven’t mattered so much as the title; this is how I’ve managed to end up reading books such as Bride of the Rat God and The Generic Science Fiction Novel — a thin book with a plain white cover imprinted with the words Science Fiction in bold black letters. But the best find my parents had, by far, was a series called The Cineverse Cycle, by Craig Shaw Gardner. These three books had the most amazing titles: Slaves of the Volcano God, Bride of the Slime Monster, and Revenge of the Fluffy Bunnies.

Needless to say, these books were wonderful. I devoured them in a week, and they quickly became some of my favorites. But alas, I loaned these books to an old friend of mine, who soon thereafter vanished, taking these great books with him. I’ve searched for new copies since then, haunting the used bookstores and libraries; but I was unable to track them down anywhere. It looked as though these books were gone forever.

Hang on; I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

So far, I’m really enjoying my new job quite a lot. My co-workers are great; I like my boss; and there are times when I find myself amazed that I’m actually getting paid to design and create web pages. I have to say that I wish I were doing more straight programming and database development, but that will come with time. Right now I’m enjoying the time I’m spending here in Portland, and learning how the company works and what the development environment is like.

And the much-prayed-to employment gods have also apparently heard my request for a job with some travel as well. I’ll be in Portland for a few more weeks; then in October, I’ll be spending a few days in Boston; in November, Atlanta; and in December, Los Angeles. These are trade shows and conferences which are related to the e-health industry and to our company’s particular medical specialty. My boss tells me that he wants me to "feel the doctors’ pain", which I think is probably a good idea; but I’ll also be serving as technical support at these shows and conferences.

But the job has its down sides as well. Putting in ten- to twelve- hour days is not unusual. I was up until about one o’clock this morning helping to QA a data migration, and I was up very early double-checking things and sending out e-mails. And I admit that I’m still feeling overwhelmed and sort of "in over my head". But I’m starting to sort things out here, and I’m starting to make sense of it all. I know that I’m looking at some more long hours and heavy projects, especially since I’m apparently being moved into project management, and I’m looking to really build up my skills in many other areas.

The worst of the downsides, of course, is that I’m spending far too much time away from home and away from Jennifer. For nearly two weeks, I haven’t seen my own house at all for more than a few minutes at a time, usually on my way to or from somewhere as I pick up some more clothes or some medicine or a book. When I am in California, I am almost always at Jennifer’s house. I’ve started giving out her phone number as an alternate "home number" for myself. I’ve even listed her address in a couple of places as an alternate address for me. It’s almost as though I’m living with her when I’m in California.

But the point, really, is that when I’m in Portland, I miss Jennifer. A lot. I miss hanging out with her. I miss spending time with her. I miss going out to dinner with her, or snuggling up with her on the couch watching a movie.

In the time that Jennifer and I have been together, I have never had any doubts about the two of us. But if I had ever had any doubts that Jennifer is the one for me, they would have been completely removed with the gift that she gave me prior to my first departure for Portland. She came to my house — one of the last times I was there — to pick me up for dinner or some such event, and as we drove away, she said, "Can I borrow your books in the glove compartment?" I assumed, at the time, that the books she was talking about were the same books she’d had in there for some time, so I said, "But they’re your books."

"No, they’re not," she replied. "Open it up and see.

So I opened up the compartment — and there they were. Slaves of the Volcano God. Bride of the Slime Monster. Revenge of the Fluffy Bunnies. The entire Cineverse Cycle. Jennifer had saved a conversation that she and I had had via Instant Messenger months ago, and had managed to track the books down on an auction site. And I’ve been having great fun here in Portland, re-reading these favorites of mine, and smiling when I think about how I got them.

Jennifer and I have taken the next logical step; I’m beginning the process of moving in with her this weekend. I’ve lived with significant others before, but she never has. This is a big step for me, but it’s an even bigger one for her. I can’t take that lightly, of course, and this wasn’t a decision that either of us made on the spur of the moment. But it’s right.

Jennifer is a marvelously practical woman, and has begun the process of cleaning and rearranging furniture in her house even while I’m up here in Portland, reading silly books, working hard at this crazy job, and thinking of her. She’s charming, funny, intelligent, bright, and witty; one moment she’s planning out investments and going over our house plans with me, and the next she’s sitting beside me gluing together a working clock made out of cardboard or hunting for a stone dragon with me. I can’t help but love her.

So if Jennifer ever were to be enslaved to a volcano god, or forcefully wed to a slime monster, or threatened by a horde of vengeful fluffy bunnies, I would certainly be there to help protect her (not that she couldn’t take care of herself, of course, but you know what I mean). She hunted down a trilogy of strangely-titled novels for me on the basis of an IM conversation that she and I had months ago, that I barely remember; how can I help myself?