Archive for April, 2008

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning

April 30, 2008

It was bound to come. The Wedding-Gone-Awry Dream. Last night it arrived, in full flaming glory. A sharp, nocturnal kick to the shins courtesy of Morpheus. Disappointments from start to finish. Following are just a few of the mishaps visited upon my sleepytime big day:

* It was also the same day my sister was getting married, so while getting ready for my wedding I missed hers. Throughout the entire dream I kept thinking, “How did we not plan this better?”
* Instead of getting ready in my own home, as I plan to on my wedding day, I was at an unfamiliar house on some estate. It wasn’t cool. It was unsettling.
* None of my accessories had been packed for me. It was just me and the dress. (No, this is not the stuff of tragedy. But I was decidedly miffed about it in my dream.)
* I didn’t know any of the guests.
* I didn’t know where the groom was.
* Everything was wrong.

It’s not the first time that my sleep has been interrupted by the impending nuptials. But I learned last night that it’s one thing not to get to sleep, it’s quite another to get there and watch things fall to shit faster than a Real World Reunion.

Here’s a little video tribute to the slumbering brain, jacked up on love and mild anxiety.


Ye Olde Marriage

April 29, 2008

I’ve been obsessing for the last couple of months over the soul-kissing awesomeness that is John Adams on HBO. However, my pointless pilgrimage to Pennsylvania last week meant that I ended up getting behind. Over the last two nights, I watched the final two episodes of the smartest mini-series ever made. (It’s science.) But you can imagine my horror to learn that John and Abigail Adams were actually parted by death. And what a death scene. He’s broken by grief, cuddling next to her in her sick bed, kissing her face streaked with their tears, begging her to hold on, pointing out the hydrangeas he brought her in a vase (note to fiancé: imminent death not a requirement for bestowing flowers.) I was curled up in my fiancé’s lap watching it and I am quite certain that I saw a little eye rubbing up above me, although it was hard to tell over my indelicate sobbing.

It should be said that the Bird does not cry at movies. Documentaries about war or a suffering people, maybe. The final scene in Love Actually when The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” is playing and everyone’s hugging at the airport, yes. And the scene in Grosse Pointe Blank where John Cusack holds up the baby and has his swift spiritual kick upside the head. And pretty much every minute of The Bicycle Thief. But other than that, I do not cry at movies.

However, being engaged is softening my resistance. Watching couples like John and Abigail Adams say goodbye suddenly starts hitting too close to home. I begin doing the math in my head: fiancé is 11 years older than I am…women typically live longer than men…BLURG! Every time I watch a movie now I find myself pondering the timeworn, “Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” question. Is this normal? I don’t know. But I do know what the antidote is: Titanic or The English Patient. Because oddly enough, I find the endings of both of those flicks hi-larious.

UPDATE: My fiancé asserts that he was most definitely not tearing up. He was making a lasagna…for one. Muh huh.

The Elitist Express Heads North

April 18, 2008

Between tonight and Tuesday I’ll be in Pennsylvania trying to get the kid above elected president of the United States. If you have any friends or relatives in Pennsylvania, consider calling them and telling them that they too should make special voting booth sexytime with the candidate on Tuesday. Or, thanks to the 2008 miracle of phone banking from home, call total strangers in the Keystone State and pass along that message. If you don’t have anything to do this weekend, consider heading up to Philadelphia where I surmise they need volunteers for canvassing and phone banking, based on the roughly 148 phone calls I’ve gotten in the past week from the campaign seeking help.

Myself, I’ll be in “Eriesistible” Erie, ancestral homeland of the Bird clan on both the maternal and paternal sides. I’ll be catching a few minutes with relatives who haven’t seen me since I was wearing Jams and extolling the virtues of the My Little Pony Paradise Estate. Translation: free lodging and all the perogies and Genesse beer my tummy can accommodate. I’ll be staying in an early 1900s-era convent. No foolies. My aunt’s a nun. We’ll see if lightning strikes when I step foot inside, or if I get shanked, because all the nuns (being the good progressives that they are in this particular order) are Hillary fans. It’ll be worth being in hostile territory if I can get one of them to shrug and say, “Bitch is the new black.”

Life Is What Happens When You’re Busy Making Table Seating Plans

April 15, 2008

Often lost in the chaos of planning a wedding is the cognizance that there are more complex problems to grapple with in life than whether to pick the Luxe Cream or Luxe White envelope for a wedding invitation. Even the most laid-back, wink-wink-I’m-in-on-the-joke bride can forget that the bothersome engagement rites of passage are nothing more than mitigable party-planning headaches.

I’d been pondering this a lot of late, in part because of tomorrow’s anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings. Of the many stories illuminating the victims’ lives after the massacre, one stays with me now more than most. It was of slain student Michael Pohle and his high school sweetheart and fellow VT student Marcy. They were to be engaged and it was such a foregone conclusion that Marcy was hoping the ring was coming on her birthday the next month. The story in which it was relayed captured the bottomless grief of the girl who would never be the bride to the man whom she loved so completely.

The love stories ended at Virginia Tech a year ago are harrowing, yet they are dwarfed in number by those cut short by war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Again, one stays with me, this time only as an image—a photograph taken last year by photojournalist John Moore.

Mary McHugh weeps at the grave of her fiancé, Sgt. James J. Regan, at Arlington National Cemetery. Sergeant Regan, from Manhasset, N.Y., was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

This morning, the father of the man I dated for five years before meeting my fiancé, died unexpectedly. After emergency surgery last week it was believed that he was going to pull through.

My ex-boyfriend and I split amicably enough. It was not without a little mess. It rarely is. But we quickly re-calibrated and became friends who checked in on each other from time time to time. My dog started as Our dog. I’d joke with him when he emailed that he was late with his alimony payments and he’d inquire as to whether I was making my current man miserable, too. We got engaged to our new loves within a week of each other. He landed his pretty bride-to-be at the start of that week and when I followed six days later he gleefully pointed out that by beating me to the punch he’d won the breakup.

Hearing the news about his father’s death was like a punch in the stomach. (Tornadoes sound like freight trains and unexpected death packs a wallop to the torso. Cliché springs from accuracy in these instances.) His father was the kindest and jolliest of men. He had a big laugh that came from deep inside a prodigious belly. His hug was its own event. When my ex told me several months into our relationship that his father had once been a U.S. Marine Corps drill sergeant at Parris Island I dismissed it as him screwing with me. Santa Claus having once been locked up for assault would have been more plausible. Even after we broke up I would still get cards at the holidays from him and his wife. That my ex and his fiancée will not have him at their wedding and in their lives as they start their own family is a damned thing to comprehend.

I’m thinking today of the ones we want with us more than we want all the crystal stemware and electronic gadgets on our wedding registries. Those of us staring in frustration at the Luxe Cream and the Luxe White envelope have likely lost sight of the fact that it is a privilege to consider that an agonizing dilemma. We’ve lost sight of the fact that the ones we want, we need, could be gone in an instant. Here’s to those who figure out a way to go on after that happens.

The Grand Forehead Slap

April 14, 2008

Friday, 8 a.m., breakfast table
[Washington Post Weekender section open to movie still of comedian David Cross wearing oversized novelty sunglasses while sitting at a poker table.]
Fiancé: What movie is that?
Me (reading review): It’s called The Grand. It’s a Christopher Guest-style movie about poker players. It’s got a ton of funny people in it.
Fiancé: What’s the review say about it?
Me: They liked it. I’ve never heard of it.
Fiancé: Me neither.

Friday, 5 p.m., cell phone conversation
Fiancé: Do you want to see a movie tonight?
Me: Sure. Body of War?
Fiancé: I’m in the mood for something funny. How about that movie we were reading about this morning?
Me: OK…The paper says it’s only playing at E Street Theater. I’ll meet you after work.
Fiancé: Cool.

Friday, 7:15-9:15 p.m., inside theater
Fiancé and I: (laughter)(snickering)(general teehee’ing)
Fiancé as credits start to roll: That was really good. I’ve got to call Noah (our poker-playing friend) and tell him about it. He would really like that.
Credits starting to roll: “Co-produced by Matt Bierman…”
Fiance: Hey, he spells ‘Bierman’ the same way Noah spells his last name.
Me: Isn’t Noah’s brother a movie producer?
Fiancé and I simultaneously: Holy shit, this is Noah’s brother’s movie!

And scene.

Moral of the story: Planning a wedding makes you very, very forgetful. Also, go see The Grand. It’s really funny.

In other news, we saw Macbeth at the Folger Shakespeare Theater last night. But we’re 99.9% certain we don’t know the guy who did that one. I’d say go see it but that would be pointless because due to the pre-show buzz about the awesome direction and illusions designed by Teller (of Penn & Teller fame) the run’s been sold out for weeks. Which is a nice way of saying, “nanny nanny boo boo,” I suppose.

A Fear of Decommitment

April 8, 2008

Anyone who has known me for some time knows that it’s highly unusual that I am getting married this fall. Mainly because I spent the first 26 years of my life announcing resolutely that I wasn’t getting married. Ever. And those very close to me know that this is because I had something of a commitment issue. Namely, I didn’t do it. After a couple years in a relationship I’d start to get restless and look around. So nobody was more surprised than I when I met my fiancé and came to realize that I was done. Finito. -33-. Farewell to all that. End of story.

Yet last night, in the face of temptation, I found myself once again questioning my ability to commit. I was sitting here:

watching the Nats, and almost without thought, cheering for them. It felt weird. If I was cheering a baseball team and it wasn’t a road game, I was supposed to be sitting in Camden Yards. I was supposed to be wrinkling my nose disdainfully at any team not wearing white, orange, and black. I was supposed to be yelling “Ohhhhh” during the Star Spangled Banner. (OK, admittedly I never actually did that because it’s goofy and undignified. But you get my general drift.) I was supposed to think that at the End of Days, this is the worst thing the Devil could see coming:

Oriole Bird

I am an O’s fan. I toddled around Memorial Stadium as a child, spent 20 horrifying minutes lost there one summer as a pre-teen when separated from my parents after performing the Star Spangled Banner, and the soundtrack of my childhood includes repeated urgings from my father to “lock the doors now” as we cruised 33rd Street looking for parking. I swung my little arms wildly with Wild Bill Hagy. I giggled along with my mother and older sister while they ogled the Ripkens—all three of them—standing on the field even though I didn’t really understand what we were looking at. I would to this day, without hesitation and risking prosecution, deliver a swift punch in the balls to this now-grown kid:

The only time in my entire collegiate career that I ever got homesick were the two consecutive nights that Cal tied and then broke The Streak. My family was there in the stands for both games. I was in a freshman dormroom in Clemson, South Carolina, watching it happen on TV and crying my eyes out because I was so far from the one place I wanted to be. I am an O’s fan.

But last night my eye began to wander. It had taken less than 25 minutes door-to-door to get from work to the game. No scrambling to get to Union Station and then the mad dash to jam onto the lumbering MARC train to Baltimore. Suddenly there was Major League Baseball and beer and a spiffy new stadium and veggie hotdogs and Cracker Jacks in my backyard. During the fourth inning I meandered the concourse and walked into a shop where before I knew it, I was handing over $22 for a red cap with the Nats’ logo emblazoned on it. I started hearing Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” in my head and swore it was coming from the store’s stereo system.

“What have the Orioles ever really given me?” I wondered. The last time they won a World Series I was seven. With the exception of a playoff game that I sneaked out to in 1996 while interning on the Hill, they had brought me little joy in the last two decades. Slings and arrows suffered. For what? The honor of having Peter Angelos as an owner and having to justify stuff like this:

1988. Christ almighty, don’t even get me started on 1988.

“Does this make me a douchebag?” I asked my fiancé, sitting there having my commitment crisis in my new hat in Section 116…sweet, convenient-to-downtown, foul-ball-territory-for-the-lefties Section 116. “Not really,” he said. Glancing over at him, I noticed that his gaze was three rows up where four Yankees fans sat. We knew they were Yankees fans because there at a Nats-Marlins game, they were all wearing Jeter jerseys.

And that’s when I realized that it didn’t matter. I could risk being razzed by purists for being a lifelong O’s fan yet still cheering for the Nats as my new home team when I felt like going to a game. I wouldn’t be a total douchebag. Because that’s the great thing about baseball. There’s always a lower common denominator. And it’s always the Yankees.