Getting Engaged (Finally)

Calling this post long-delayed is a bit like calling the Pacific Ocean “wet” or the guy who slipped up on the Zune leap-year bug “fired” – it is a severe understatement while still being accurate. I was recently alerted by Nightsinger to the fact that my lovely wife repeatedly tells her version of the engagement story, which has certain elements which depart wildly from the truth. Admittedly, that’s mostly because she’s assuming chaos where there was intention, but there were equal parts chaos where she assumes intention. It evens out on my side, because I’m writing this.

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Last time, on Star Trek: The Next Generation

(Hey, Abigail, shouldn’t that be lower-case-t-the?)

I am slowly losing my mind. For all of you who were previously convinced that I had lost my mind long ago, I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

First, the happy stuff:
For our one year wedding anniversary, Mandrina and I had chaos with a side order of fun. She had auditions both the day of our anniversary, and the next afternoon. The plans I had made for doing something ON our anniversary were therefore curtailed. Instead we had dinner at the Hunt Club in the Sorrento Hotel, and spent the night there. It was charmingly updated — the rooms had obviously not been originally designed to have the modern accoutrements of hotel living, such as a television, or electricity. Wire ran in visible metal conduits along the walls. Please don’t misunderstand, they were subtle. It was just a reminder that we were in a century-old hotel. Dinner was lovely; compared to the usual “cuisine” Mandrina likes to subject me to, I was in fact able to make a complete meal from the menu options. The wine was wonderful, but the port was just too much alcohol. The free chocolates were nice, though.

Since Mandrina had been busy right around our anniversary (she was cast, of course — “Oliver” at Shoreline Community College), we went to Vancouver the following weekend. There isn’t much to tell — more food was eaten, the hotel room was rather nice. We didn’t get to do much in the city — just lazing around was plenty eventful, although I did start going stir crazy. The one neat thing is that the hotel has two dogs “for rent.” Mandrina and I signed up on Saturday to take Beau for a walk on Sunday afternoon right before we left. Mandrina was surprised that I could hold a lead on a dog appropriately, but then I made Beau hate me because I made him run with me. Just a brief sprint back and forth, but he’s a dog, golly darn it! He repaid me by pointing out why dogs are taken for a walk.

Let’s see, other good stuff… Mandrina and I were invited (along with some others) to our most recent newlywed friends. Food and company were likewise good. Jonathan introduced me to Powershell. I had bumped into it before, but Jonathan showed off for a while, and I was impressed. I’ll probably write about it at length at some later juncture (currently, it’s installed on the two machines I use most — it’ll probably end up on the rest of them as well). Mandrina and I are watching all of the Lord of the Rings (Director’s Cuts). I got to see a bunch of people when I helped Xaandria move (sorry, too lazy to link to everyone. See my Vegas post, at least the girls get mentioned there). I get to go home every night to love and affection. Well, okay, I get to go home every night, and my wife is happy to see me, at least. The cats, well, are cats.

The bad stuff can wait until later.

I’m alive!

Promise. I’m just… busy? After two months (three?), I’m pretty sure that “I’ve been busy” loses something of its validity. However, I’ve been too busy to look that up.

I do have some neat stories to relate; most of them (judging by the fact that I still haven’t said anything about our honeymoon, and we’re now nearing the one-year mark) will probably never be told. The important highlights… Mandrina and I both won National Novel Writing Month (again); Mandrina’s birthday gift involved French food cuisine and bottle feeding 6-month old tigers at Cougar Mountain Zoo (we now go back almost every week — the tigers remember us, and come to sniff at us and “chuff.” It makes me smile like an idiot, and we’re on a first name basis with half the keepers. There are pictures, don’t worry.); Mandrina and I celebrated our first married Christmas snuggled up together in Everett — and were beseiged by cats who were fascinated by curling ribbon; and other stuff. A lot of other stuff.

I don’t have much time (obviously, see “busy,” above), but I figured it was better to quit stalling and put up a status before much longer. Otherwise, I’d become as bad as Mandrina.

SO! I’m working on something I can’t tell you about at work. It’s very hush-hush, but high visibility, so that’s good… except I’m going out of town for a week (on work-stuff).

To that end! I’ll be in Boston!!!! For three nights, admittedly, but still. I contacted everyone who I’m sure would want to see me AND that still lives in the Boston area — if I don’t know you’re in those categories (or I lost your phone number/email address when my computer died and I reformatted my phone — no joke, bad timing), send me a note! I still have some slots open in my schedule.

Immediately following that trip, I’ll be headed to San Jose, California, for the Office Developer Conference. It’s rather a nice privilege (I’m the only non-customer facing rank-and-file employee going from my team), but there’s a bit of pressure. Dress code, talk to customers for hours every day, be surrounded by my new managers (Did I mention the re-org at work?), miss wife, miss cat. Apparently there’s heavy drinking involved — fortunately, I only do sophisticated drinks that don’t make me drunk (if I can manage to expense a Johnnie Walker Blue… Ooooh… that’ll be a good night!).

So, that’s my life. Work. Wife. Cats. More cats. Some trips. Some more blog posts so I can link to adorable pictures and videos of Taj chuffing at me.

Sometimes what happens in Vegas comes home with you.

Fortunately, I had married Mandrina months ago, so it wasn’t much of a surprise.

First, a pointer to Xaan‘s and Nightsinger‘s excellent write-ups of things I’m too lazy or preoccupied or self-centered to write up myself. Also, thanks to Jamie for deciding scandously to have a 21st birthday celebration in Vegas. Was a fantastical trip, although I could have done with more love from the gambling. Okay, I would have settled for just a little less hatred.

Second, I’ll writeup my memories, but stick them behind a cut so that my front page doesn’t suddenly grow huge again.

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March 11, 2007 is a date that will live in

Something or other.

I was going to write a long-winded, lengthy post, but given that I don’t have time for that, I’ll post the great news, then move on to the less important items that are clogging up what little brainspace I have.

On March 11, 2007, Mandrina and I were married in Pensacola, Florida.

Pictures will follow. I didn’t take any, I was busy getting married.

Valentine’s Disaster

Disaster, from the words meaning “bad star.” That’s from some book I read at some point somewhere. I’m picturing Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash,” with the Librarian commenting on how he’s a “sucker for non-sequitors,” so that’s likely. It’s also completely unrelated to my point.

Most of our money and time is currently being focused on this “wedding” thing Mandrina and I are going to be having in just over three weeks. (GASP. No panic, really, not yet at least, but GASP.) So, instead of going out for Valentine’s Day (where prices mysteriously increase, and crowds are omnipresent), I had decided we would stay in, and I would cook dinner.

I neglected to let Mandrina know this, ’cause I’m a dummy. So yesterday afternoon, she emails me from work to ask if we’re going out to dinner, or if she was going to be cooking. I told her I was going to be, and mentioned something regarding what I was planning — proper Beef Wellington, so called by myself because I loath the thought of pate, and it turns out most ignorant savages prepare Beef Wellington with a liver pate. Mine was going to feature some sort of onion-mushroom-breadcrumb mixture, as a riff off my mother’s recipe for the same. So proper Beef Wellington, an expensive bottle of red wine that’s been waiting for a special occasion…

I got back a reply around 2 in the afternoon, asking for fish in a citrus seasoning. Simple? Not if the only fish I’ve ever cooked was salmon in a heavy butter dill sauce. Several hours of searching online and over an hour at the grocery store trying to find “grouper, halibut, or snapper” and come up with a recipe, I ended up preparing lemon-pepper herb snapper encrusted in pecans, served over a bed of wild and long rice, served with a side of long green beans.

Impressed? Me, too. Admittedly, the first thing I did when I got home was growl and tell Mandrina to leave me alone after having to spend so long grocery shopping, but then I got down to business. I also still didn’t have a recipe, as such, just a few inclinations (and no idea how long it was going to bake or broil the fish).

So after almost setting the pecans on fire (broil on the top rack was a bad idea, for future reference), I served Mandrina, and then went back to the kitchen to serve myself.

“Honey, did you know this fish still had bones in it?”

I freeze, my plate in hand. “Ah. No. Not at all.”

“*cough* *cough* *cough*”

Mandrina ended up with a piece of bone getting caught just before her wind pipe, scraping up the back of her throat. She didn’t feel much like doing anything other than sitting in bed after this point, although the possibility of going to the hospital was thankfully avoided. (In my defense, despite the fact that she tore up her throat on her first bite, she still ate the largest piece of the snapper, and got halfway through the second largest piece before choosing to go rest — so it wasn’t just to get out of eating my food!)

Last year, Mandrina ate an oyster at a fancy seafood house — and got sick from it.

Next year, we’re not having seafood. I’m thinking lean ground beef (no fat), boiled (no oil), unseasoned (no allergies!), served cooled (no burned lips), in a bowl (harder to drop), eaten with a spoon (no dangerous tines!). Just have to make sure to overcook the meat so it can’t be raw…

Antiquing and Driving

I’m not, mind you, entirely certain that “antiquing” is actually a word, nor that I spelled it correctly, nor that I used it correctly. After all, it appears to be a gerund of the verb “to antique,” which, to the best of my knowledge, is not actually a verb.

Regardless of the existence of such a term, that is what I was dragged into participating in yesterday. Mandrina received some funds for her birthday from her mother, earmarked for either an antique piece of furniture or… I forget what else; you can guess fairly accurately that Mandrina chose to use it for a piece of furniture, or more accurately, as justification to shop for a piece of furniture.

Some of the items we came across were fairly nice. Antique knives, antique swords, antique books. Unfortunately, Mandrina was busy looking at antique tables, antique dressers, antique beds, antique warddrobes, antique clothes, antique tea sets, and other things I did not realize it was better to buy USED, rather than NEW. Apparently, and for the guys in the audience, this might be a bit of an education to you as well, “used” items, if they were used long enough, become “antiques.” So those of you who might like to shop at Value Village (and you know who I’m talking to, don’t you?), your shopping choices would apparently be more acceptable if you were to only buy those items that are 15 years or older at time of purchase.

Fifteen years is, in fact, an accurate measure, as I’m about to elaborate on, for it was the most depressing part of the entire antiquing experience.

Walking around, seeing a bunch of old crystal and china is one thing. Old wooden furniture, fine! Toys I know my mother had as I inherited them when I was a child, that’s okay, too.

Seeing toys that came out when you were grade school in an antique store is pushing it.

Seeing toys that came out when you were in HIGH SCHOOL was just terrible. I feel OLD.

That was not fun. I’m sorry, I just don’t think that items that were made fifteen years ago (I wasn’t in high school that long ago, mind you) belong in an “antique” store next to hundred-year-old handmade wooden something-or-others. Antiques are items that have outlived their original owners, and not just because they died in depression after Lucas ruined Star Wars (which would be since he did the reedits of the original trilogy up through the release of Episode 3: Revenge of the Suck). It’s just not right! In my office (at work), I currently have a “laser-tag”-esque system my dear brother bought me two or so years ago. I think he picked it up on ebay — but it still works!

I saw ONE of the pistols in a case yesterday, with a $25 price tag on it. Gah.

So, the second and much calmer part of my entry (I’m lying): I hate the bus.

Now, those of you who know Mandrina know she REALLY hates the bus. I’m usually fairly ambivalent about it; it keeps idiots off my road, and if you happen to live in the right place (ie, not where I live), it’s a much more convenient way of getting to and from work without dealing with the idiots on the road.

I hate the bus.

I was on an interchange, transferring from I-405S to 520-E; it’s a cloverleaf interchange (with exceptions), but has poor visibility due to a concrete barricade. I drive an Audi — I’m not slow to accelerate, and I’m not slow on a curve. So I get down to where I can actually see oncoming traffic — and see a bus barreling down at me. A double-length bus, on top of that. And it’s followed immediately by another bus.

There are three lanes. The buses are, inconveniently, in the right-most lane, where I’m supposed to be merging in. Thank God there was no one behind me; I didn’t have enough space and time to get ahead of the bus, so I had to come to a dead halt — at the end of the entrance ramp. I may have been able to make it in front of the bus, provided there was no one on the far side. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see around him, so I got stuck sitting at the end of the entrance ramp; had anyone been behind me, there would have been a massive collision, with me being, well, dead. Pity, I could have sued the hell out of the bus company.

I know how to merge. I’ve done it thousands of times. I also know that if possible you’re supposed to get out of the way of merging traffic — which these buses did not do.

Alls well that ends well and all that, but next time… Change #@$#@$ lanes, you damn bus!

As a side note: after I ran my errand today (more on that later), I was driving back into the parking lot, and an idiot ran a stop sign while blissfully pulling out into traffic right in front of me, watching the STOPPED CAR on the other side of the street. It had been raining, there was skidding, there was a car behind me. Thankfully the car behind me was paying attention, when the idiot in front of me was not.

*grumble* And I still have to drive home.

I win!

Mandrina celebrated her 25th birthday yesterday — no, that’s just the hangover talking, it was two days ago. When I told my parents a few weeks ago what I had bought her as a present, the response was a great big stunned, “Huh?” They just couldn’t grasp that Miss I Love Designer Shoes would absolutely adore the antique — working — 1920s telephone I found.

I was right, Mandrina loved it. It’s the first time since we started dating (we celebrated two years not quite two weeks ago) that I’ve really gone out on a limb to choose a present for her. Sure, I chose the necklace, and the engagement ring, but definitely with her input. This time around, I saw the phone while shopping for something else, and knew she would love it. I bought it almost a month and a half ago, and kept it from her.

Today I found her Christmas gift.

We’re saving for the wedding, so I have a sneaking suspicion the plan would have ended up being a moratorium on gifts for each other. (Last year’s worked out very well for her, I must say.) However, this year… I was weak. There was a deal on something I know she wants, and I snatched it up. I guess instead of having no gifts, we’ll just have a spending limit. I’ll just have to place it above what I spent… maybe I should put it really high above what I spent, so that she feels inclined to spend more… Nach.


Mandrina, sweetie, this does mean you’re not allowed to open any packages addressed to me that come into the house. =] Love you.

Small Ship Cruises

I’m getting married in March. This, at least, is what the invitation says. I’m currently of the opinion that both parties will be present, but I could be wrong.

Going on the assumption, however, that I will be getting married, I need to at least try to make plans for a “honeymoon.” Given that we’re paying for the wedding, it won’t be quite as extravagant as it would be if her father was paying for it, as she had originally assumed.

I’m still shopping around; I don’t know what will happen.

I came across a useful website for the peculiarities of our situation:

Mandrina hates large cruise ships. As in “deathly terrified” hates. So a site dedicated to small ships? Perfect, saves me a lot of time. Of course, they’re just trying to pigeon-hole you into using their travel agent system, which is nearly archaic. It also doesn’t list itineraries or dates of departure, so I’m taking the name of each cruise line, then searching based off it.

If I only had a few hundred thousand dollars more, I’d already have found the perfect cruise! (If I only had a few hundred thousand dollars more, I don’t think I’d be still looking.)

There’s the link, in case anyone else needs to find a cruise ship holding less than 200 passengers.