Saturday, July 15, 2017

I got married!

Hey bitches, I'm back!

I know I've been on hiatus for a year (sorry) but you have to understand I've been busy learning to walk again.  WALK DOWN THE AISLE, THAT IS.

That's right, I'm married now!


Left to right: Brad, Raven, Mick, Tom, Ann, me, Andrew, Jack, Kevin, Peter, and Marge.

I figured describing my wedding would be a good Throwback Thursday post and a good way to revive this poor old blog.  From now on, I plan to generate content twice weekly, updating my fanbase (hi, Gregori!) with my day-to-day wheelings and dealings.

As you know, I was engaged a mere 11 days before my fateful bike crash on April 13th.  (Ironically, when Andrew called my father to ask for my hand, my father's immediate thought was that I had been in a motorcycle accident.  I think he might have jinxed it a little.)

Anyway, lying there in the hospital bed, with an engagement ring on my finger and the bones of my left leg in pieces, my second question for the doctor was, "Will I be able to walk down the aisle at my wedding?"

The doctor was curious about why that was my second question, my first being "Will I be able to go to the premiere of Captain America: Civil War?"

Spoiler: I went, but I was so doped up on painkillers that I missed Chadwick Boseman, the guy who plays T'Challa, when he walked into the theatre and took selfies with all my friends, because it took me like 30 minutes to buy several packages of Red Vines.  I like to believe that's what the real Tony Stark would have done, though.

The answer I was given was a rather ambiguous one.  It seemed, at the time I asked the question, unlikely.  When touring the wedding venue (a nice meadow), I was limping along on crutches, having difficulty navigating the terrain.  But as usual, fueled by spite, I put a fuckton of effort into physical therapy.  The result?

SUCK A DICK, JAZZ MAN!  I totally walked!

I was totally not on a Hoverboard under that dress or anything.

But before I get to that part, let's talk about the parts leading up to it.  Planning a wedding is a pain in the ass.  The first part is getting announcements and/or invitations.  This involves tracking down every person you've ever had in your life who has any passing importance.  Obviously, you don't expect everyone to come, but you have to inform family and the like, and at a certain point you begin to feel like a private eye.

We had no planner. We had a tight budget. We did everything ourselves. We did it in less than six months. We did it while I was confined to a wheelchair due to a car accident.  Things like picking out color swathes and writing vows are very, very low on the priority list when you're trying to figure out how to accommodate 100 people. The 40-minute ceremony was way less important to us than ensuring we took care of our friends and family who were traveling long distances to see us. At the end of the day, weddings are for the guests, not the grooms. People romanticize it and think it's all about lovingly, tenderly picking out a song to dance to... but in actuality, it's a logistical nightmare of trying to pick up great-aunt Sheila from the airport while arguing with the catering company on the phone because one of your guests has Celiac's and trying to explain to your sister-in-law your relationship with your ex-pro-Domme, who accidentally got seated at a table with your landlady. Weddings are like running the gauntlet. If you and your partner can get through planning a wedding without a fight, then you two have an IRON-CLAD relationship. No vows are even needed by the time you get through the nightmare of wedding planning because you two have already experienced the best, worst, richer, poorer, healthy, sickening, and above all exhausting experience of organizing an expensive, extravagant, opulent event.

I'm getting ahead of myself.  Invitations.  What a pain in the ass.

People vastly underestimate how much you will spend on not just the invitations, but the stamps as well.  Sure, you can send an e-vite... you can also chain-smoke Dorals and have an above-ground pool.  It's not in good taste, okay?  It's just not.

So once we went out the invites, it was time to wrangle the various people required to make the wedding happen.  We started with getting a venue.  Our choices were between the South Coast Botannical Garden, as suggested by my parents, and the Natural History Museum, which will let you get married in one of their exhibit halls with all the taxidermied animals but won't let them officiate the ceremony, which was a deal-breaker for us.

The South Coast Botannical Garden, like all wedding venues, had a series of hoops we had to jump through to secure the location.  First of all, if we wanted our dogs at the ceremony, they would need pet insurance.  Getting Carlisle insured is like asking someone to insure a Fabergé turd.  They also wanted a deposit, and required us to have a wedding planner.  Up to this point the closest thing I had to a wedding planner was the little Microsoft Paper clip that kept popping up whenever I opened my wedding document on my laptop.

Andrew got into a back-and-forth with the food vendor while I secured a DJ.  ("Hey, anyone know a DJ?"  "This guy!"  "Perfect!")  The issue with the food was that we wanted a plated dinner but didn't want to play $8,000 a plate, which is the average cost for a plate of food at a wedding.

Every time you say "wedding" near a food vendor, they charge you $200.

We also wanted party favors and those aren't exactly inexpensive.  I did ours myself; they were little satchels of tea and honey with such stupid phrases as "MINT to be" and "a perfect PEAR" because by that point I was suffering Wedding Insanity, which in my case, makes my usual A+ sense of humor devolve into terrible puns.

 This.  Took.  HOURS.

Without much money left, I bought my dress for $200 from Best Korea.


It arrived about 3 days before the wedding, which was fine, because I had a back-up dress, which was a $16 quinceañera dress from Goodwill.  We had members of the wedding party arrive before the dress.  Fortunately it did come (fashionably late, like me), and amazing, it fit.  Phew.

The day before the big event, everyone was there, including the dress.  With nothing left to do, we played D&D.  (Well... they played D&D while I passed out.)


Following the traditional that the married couple doesn't see each other on the day of the wedding, Andrew left early the next morning to go make sure the event was set up.  Our "wedding planner" was actually just the sketchy DJ and we were pretty much winging the whole thing.  (It still cost us $7,000 but for a SoCal wedding with a plated meal, that's actually pretty goddamn cheap.)

I woke an hour before the wedding, groggily aware that I was probably supposed to be somewhere.  My Maid of Honor, Ann, as well as one of my bridesmen, Brad were at the venue with Andrew.  The remaining three bridesmen (shout-out to Tom, Mick, and Kevin) had stayed behind to make sure I didn't get cold feet, which I immediately did.  As we prepared to leave, I recall suggesting we go to Vegas instead.

The boys shooed me out the door.  Mick (a 250-300-pound stuntman of pure muscle) carried the dress.  I had neither a hanger nor a sleeve for it.  "Just put it in the trunk," I said.  Mick placed the dress into the trunk, where it billowed out prettily.  He then gently punched the dress into the trunk so it would fit.

While we were punching my wedding dress into the boot of my car, my neighbor Lenny came out.  "You gotta get your car washed!" he hollered.

"I know, I'm just kind of really busy," I said.

"A car that nice, you can't leave it that dirty!" he hollered.

"You're right," I said.  "I should get it washed."

"You promise me you gonna wash that nice car of yours, today!" he demanded.

"Okay.  I promise," I said.

We got into the car.  My car is a Mustang convertible.  Mick and Kevin, both half-giants, squished into the backseat.  To further emphasize their giantness, I asked them to hold the bonzai trees that were to serve as table decorations at the wedding.

We then went to CVS because I needed coffee.  Don't want to fall asleep at your wedding, after all.  Tom and I went in to leave the boys in the back with the bonzai trees.  The top was down; a passing stranger asked if they were hiding, because the two of them covered by the bonzai trees in the backseat of the car looked like the world's worst spies.

Once Tom and I returned with my much-needed coffee, I asked again if we could go to Vegas.  No, said Mick and Kevin, because they weren't holding the damn bonzai trees for four hours.

Defeated, I asked Tom to direct me to the nearest car wash.

"I PROMISED LENNY!" I exclaimed.

We went to the nearest automatic car wash.  There were three cars ahead of us.  We waited for a bit, then I suggested asking if we could cut the line because I was getting married.

"Excuse me," I said politely to one of the car wash attendants.  "I'm getting married."

"Congratulations," she said.

"I mean, now," I explained.

"Oh."  She paused.  "Why are you at a car wash?"

"I promised Lenny."

Clearly thinking me to be insane, she got me through quickly, presumably so my madness wouldn't spread to the others.

Andy called while we were in the car wash.

"We're on our way!" I reassured him.  The wedding was in about thirty minutes and we were about forty minutes away.

"We're in a car wash!" clarified Kevin.

"What-- why?" asked Andy.

"We promised Lenny," said Tom.

Fortunately, Andy and Ann had taken care of everything already.  So when we arrived a glorious 20 minutes late...

 

...there wasn't much to do except getting me all dolled up.


We stopped at a CVS again on the way because I realized I should wear make-up or something.  I brought Tom with me again, since Kevin and Mick were still buried in bonzais.  "Which of these do I get?" I asked, hopelessly.  Tom, a dairy farmer, looked back at me with equal hopelessness.  In the end, we picked out a crayon at random.  It might have literally been a crayon.  I do not know enough about cosmetics to know.

We also bought a small glass pig.  (Again: Wedding Insanity.)

 "I just feel, like, I really need this, y'know?"  
"Stop stalling, Julie, you were supposed to be at the alter 10 minutes ago."

We arrived to find the guests milling about, and Ann swooped me up from the very grateful bridesmen to get me into my wig and dress.  My mom showed up in the bathroom where I was getting changed to help out.

We drove back to the site, by which time the wedding had been put back by probably another twenty minutes.  We were filing in from a little copse of trees; Andy and I hold hands, Andrew looking forward, because we were trying to do that whole "don't see each other before the wedding" thing, which, as I had pointed out earlier, would have been easier if I were in Vegas and not directly behind him.

The DJ immediately fucked up by playing Pachelbell's Canon instead of my carefully selected string quartet cover of "All You Need Is Love."  The wedding party filed in; I came last, and the DJ recovered, blasting the Kimmy Schmidt theme song as I hitched up my dress and walked, with my dog, down the aisle. 

Our friend Raven was officiating and she had pretty much made the whole program herself, except for the vows, which Andrew and I had agreed we should write for each other.  Raven had given us a copy of the program but I, at least, had not read it, because I wanted to be surprised and also because I forgot.

"The couple will now read vows that they wrote for each other." 

We were holding each other's hands and smiling. Quietly, under his breath, lips not moving, he said, "...you go first."

Quietly, under my breath, I said, "...no, no, after you."

"No, really, you first."

"Seriously, you go."

After hushed, amazing display of ventriloquy, he blurted, "...I forgot to write my vows."

I was so relieved because I had, too.

We both started laughing and in the end we winged it. He gave an off-the-cuff, three-sentence speech us loving each other, caring for each other, and trying to be the best person we could be for the other while always building the other up. I said, quote, "You are the Gomez to my Morticia, the Sigfried to my Roy, and the Silent Bob to my Jay."

Which isn't even really a vow now that I think about it but it's how I felt at the time.

Protip for everyone about to get married: have fun with it. Things won't go 100% as planned and that's okay. You won't even really remember anything because the day will go by so fast. It's about the marriage, not the wedding, so just remember, if someone fucks up, you'll end up with a great story to tell with your partner later on.

Finally, we stomped on a wine glass, which was actually a lightbulb in a bag.  (Actually, Andrew did this, as I had refused to wear shoes.)

And then we all filed out to "Happy Together" by The Turtles, to mingle with the family.

You do the math: if you have 100 guests and a two or three-hour reception, you're going to spend only one to two minutes with each of the guests.  That does not include the time you will spend eating cake or running from helicopters.


The helicopter story: my father is a commercial pilot and wanted to get some aerial shots of the wedding. His friend (who doesn't speak very good English) apparently misunderstood what he was supposed to be doing and after taking the shots, brought the bird really far down... I guess to join the reception? It was an outdoor venue in a protected wildlife zone and the helicopter wasn't legally allowed to land there, plus it was like blowing everything all over the place. (Table decorations, chuppah, small children, et cetera.)  Everyone at the reception was standing there flailing desperately like "NO NO NO, DON'T LAND, SHIT." He got the message and took off without touching down but not before giving everyone a heart attack and really pissing off the management staff (who had already EXPLICITLY told my father "no helicopters.")

We sent everyone on their way with party favors, including special gifts for the people who had helped us the most: the wedding party, my dear friend Brad who had done double-duty as photographer, Ann, who had transformed me from an ugly caterpillar into a beautiful caterpillar, and of course Raven.  We got Raven a pocketwatch and Raven showed me this really cool feature where you can look at the hands and tell the time.  (I might have a tiny little problem with lateness.)

 

I have always believed that weddings were for families.  My mom and dad were there, as well as my brother and his partner, also named Andrew.  We only mixed up Andrews once or twice, fortunately.

I am like, 90% sure I married the right one.

But having done my duty to put on a traditional white-dress wedding, I felt comfortable dedicating the next 3 days to a party weekend, to be spent with my friends, many of whom had traveled far to be with us.  The day after the wedding we had a private reception in my neighbor Elizabeth's back yard, during which we had a roast and grilling, drinking, and music.  

Here's the set-up.

I have woefully few pictures of the party as I was... partying.  But look.  String lights!  Also we put little floating tealights in the koi pond.  It was truly magical.

Andrew's mom showed up even though we warned her I would no longer be wearing the white dress.  When she showed up, I was back in my Black Sabbath shirt and was holding a chicken upside-down.  I don't have a picture of that so this one will have to do.

The fact that I have more than one picture of myself interacting with chickens is as confusing as it is entirely expected.

My mother-in-law managed to say something nice to me with barely a shudder and I think she was there for that cool Jewish chair dance.  (Protip: get married to a Jew so you can experience the chair dance.  It's awesome.)  Fortunately for her fragile sanity, she left before my groomsmen roasted me, explaining the entire debacle of trying to get me to go to my own wedding, and how we were late due to a car wash and purchasing a small glass pig.

 The four groomsmen of the apocalypse!  Left to right: Brad, Kevin, Tom, and Mick.

I spent the next few days entertaining my guests by taking them to Venice Beach to poke hippies, and to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles.  (Actual quote from one of my groomsmen: "I regret gravy.")  

All in all, it was a 10/10 experience and I look forward to spending the rest of my life with Andy, and documenting it here.

 

Six months later...


Welcome back, blog!  :)

And for those who want EVEN MORE PICTURES, see below for the BONUS ALBUM of all the wedding photos.  Cheers!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Lucky Break

Whenever people hear that I ride a motorcycle around Los Angeles, their reaction tends to be the sort of surprise normally reserved for people who admit to choking themselves while masturbating or taunting poisonous snakes.  Although Los Angeles doesn’t officially have the worst drivers in the nation (thanks, Boston!) we come pretty close.  Despite being called a "sprawling" city, we, like all cities, have a pretty dense population, and so we  have a fair bit of traffic.  When you ride a motorcycle here, you’re taking a gamble, because there’s always a possibility that someone might be too busy knocking their agent down a few pegs to notice you.

In fact, here in L.A., more than 70% of motor vehicle accidents are proceeded by the words, "Do you know who I am?"

Back in December, I mentioned my incredibly lucky crash... and today I’m going to talk about my second incredibly lucky crash on April 13th, 2016.

I was on my way to Jack’s house to meet him and Andrew.  It was about 8 or 9 pm and therefore dark; I was puttering my way south, my backpack with my laptop on my back, hoping to get caught up on some work.  I was only a few blocks away.  A car beside me began to slow down for an intersection. 

Moron, I thought.

The light turned yellow.

The slowing-down car stopped.  But I was already committed to making the light.  Needless to say… I didn’t.

As I entered the intersection, so did another vehicle.  I couldn’t tell you the make or model or color.  I can only tell you that it was trying to make a left before the light changed, and that the driver gunned it, and we collided going about 35 mph.  I hit the hood at an angle and went flying over it. 

There was no pain, just the loud crash of the collision and an overload of sensory information.  There was no time to lay down the bike or do anything other than float through the air.  I impacted the ground with a surprisingly painless whump and slid through the intersection, thereby technically making the light.

For a while I lay there, dazed.  My view was a pretty cinematic one.  The asphalt was black and seemed to stretch out indefinitely.  In the distance, the sickly-orange glow of the streetlights looked like fireflies, and shadowy figures were moving with a swaying, watery motion.  Their faraway babble was nice.  Slowly, I came to realize one voice was louder than the others.  It was a woman, yelling, “He’s dead!  Oh, Lord, Jesus, he’s dead!”

That poor woman, I thought sympathetically from the pavement.  I’m not dead.

For her sake, I threw a thumbs-up in the air.


A few moments later I was struggling into a seated position.  People were surrounding me.  I looked around for trusty old Veronica, but my bike was gone, inexplicably replaced by a smoking heap of scrap metal.




 That bit of green in the front wheel is one of my socks.

“Get down!  Don’t try to get up!” urged the crowd.

I ignored them, pulling off my helmet.  I was breaking out in a cold sweat and was imminently about to throw up.  I tried to stand but my legs weren’t working.  “I think my leg’s broken,” I announced casually, struggling with my jacket.  Someone stopped me from taking off my shirt.  I asked for water.

“I have water, but it’s baby water, is that okay?” asked a woman.

I told her it was fine while wondering why babies need special water.

This is a thing, apparently.

“Do you want me to call someone?” she asked anxiously.

I said no.  I didn’t want to worry Andrew.  But then I remembered that Veronica, who I’d recently taught him to ride, was obliterated, and decided he was probably going to find out eventually.  So I asked her to call him.  She did, failing to give any details other than that I was lying on the pavement and the paramedics were coming.

He showed up before they did to find me reassuring the man who hit me that there were “no hard feelings.”  (I was in a lot of shock.)

The paramedics showed up and began strapping me to a board and putting a stiff plastic collar on my neck.  I helpfully informed them that my leg was broken.  They said something to the tune of, “Yeah, no shit.”

Spoiler alert: It was indeed broken.

I spoke with a police officer in the ambulance and chatted with the EMT because I had some sort of vague impression that I wasn’t doing well and needed to convince him I was.

I also called my boss to inform her that I wouldn’t be in the next day but would like, totally probably be in the day after.  The paramedics had a good chuckle over that.

Once in the ER, they came at me with the morphine.

“I’m allergic to morphine,” I said helpfully.

They asked me what I wanted to do. 

“Do what you need to do,” I said with the sort of cheery bravado that comes from probably having a concussion.  “Let’s rock and roll!”

With a shrug, they gave me some gauze and splinted the leg.  I don’t remember a lot from this except that I did a good job of not vomiting.  I asked the nurse to taking some pictures of my leg.  They cleaned it out, finding a variety of gravel, glass, and bone splinters.

The rest of the night is lost to the labyrinth of trauma, but I know I had an MRI and a CAT scan.  They told me I was lucky, and that it was almost a miracle that I’d only sustained injuries to my left leg.  The leg in question, unfortunately, was in pieces, shattered like glass, and on top of that, my knee had cracked.  It would need surgery, they said.  They refused to give me any water, explain what surgery was needed, or introduce me to a doctor.  I complained a lot.  Andrew snuck me ice chips when my mouth got so dry it started frothing a little.

One surgery later, I was better in the sense that I was now partially a cyborg and also in excruciating pain.

I mean, I know I like Iron Man and all, but this is just ridiculous.

I spent a total of nine days in the hospital and the less said about that, the better, because the hospital seemed unable to grasp concepts such as “allergies,” “dietary restrictions,” or “pain management.”  Fortunately I was unconscious for most of it, lost in a dreamless sleep, waking only to watch my leg drain a sticky yellow fluid.

The silver lining during this whole mess was the outpouring of support from my friends, who sent flowers, brought food, and visited me for company, even though doing so often involved bringing me a bedpan and watching me argue with the nurses about the correct way to insert an IV.

After nine days of explaining that chicken isn’t vegetarian and “morphine allergy” means “no morphine” because “morphine” will “kill me,” I went home, where I took up residence on the couch for the next month while Andrew scrambled to adjust to being solely responsible for a house full of animals and a disabled fiancée.

The most pressing question everyone has for me, of course, is whether or not I will ever walk or ride again.  And I’m pleased to say that the answer is yes, because you can’t keep a good man down, and while I wouldn’t ever want to experience this again, it’s given me a new perspective on both life as a disabled person and how lucky I am for this to be temporary and for this accident to be the non-lethal kind.

Rest in pieces, Veronica, you beautiful bitch.  You’re riding with the angels now.

 R.I.P. Veronica, 1992 - 2016

See below for a fun album of my bone being broken and then (sorta) fixed (well... stabilized, anyway) via an external fixator!  (Warning: mild gore.)


Like I said, though, I should walk again soon.  CAN'T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN.

Someday I will do this again!
Maybe not in the next year... but some day!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Long-Awaited Engagement (and the usual Geeky Iron Man stuff)

It's finally happened, blog!  I am engaged to be married to Andrew.

This isn't a huge surprise since we've been discussing it for a long time, and picked out the diamond together... but it's still exciting to say that we're officially getting married!

Since I know everyone wants details, here's the story behind our engagement.  Warning: extreme nerdiness ahead.  (Also, I make no apologies for the crazy e-mail screen caps.  Right-click and "view image" if you want to see it full size, i.e., actually read it.)

So the first thing you have to know is that I'm a big fan of Iron Man.

Noooooo...

In fact, I enjoy doing some ghost writing / character acting / online roleplay as Tony Stark because why not, I do what I want.


Andrew decided to exploit this hobby obsession of mine and, with his usual extreme level of preparation, e-mailed me as Rhodey with a little puzzle for me to solve.  The puzzle involved figuring out a hashed ("encrypted") password to use with a username to open an e-mail.

Tony/Rhodey banter ensued.

https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-WiuD0jzRlH4/Vz3_vYDygNI/AAAAAAAACss/kG2exeWjmRM8NydoxEVo57CAV1q1sdq3ACLcB/s1600/part%2B1.jpg

Now, I don't have any experience with encryption, and only minimal experience with programming.  But like the Iron Man himself, I can't stand leaving a puzzle unsolved, and dedicated myself to learning what I could about hashed passwords.

Andrew, meanwhile, had set up a JARVIS account to help me.



But I didn't bother to use JARVIS and instead managed to get into the account on my own within about 48 hours.

The account's e-mails outlined a "hand-off" and gave the date and time and place for where Andrew wanted to meet me.

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-g5h3KogFCmY/Vz3_8Y4H_AI/AAAAAAAACs4/Q_8XMv3nF58RmXHC0XVnOJt6mJaE-i34ACLcB/s1600/part%2B2.jpg

The attachment:


In other words:


You can read more about the puzzle's technical elements on Andrew's blog post about it.

So the date was set.  I felt smug that I'd managed to solve the riddle and gotten myself a little bit of practice with a computer puzzle.


We went to the Post and Beam restaurant on Crenshaw, where we ate dinner and talked about nothing in particular.
 
Here's the patio where we were.

Then Andrew got down on one knee and said, "Julie, we've known each other for about seven years now, and I love you.  Will you do me the honor of being my wife?"

And he busted out this bad boy.


(For those who don't get it, it's a reference to Iron Man 1, below.)


So then I nodded and he put the ring on my finger, and the restaurant exploded with cheers and clapping.


The bar tender popped open a bottle of champagne for us.

Lots of excited yelling and congratulations all around.

It took some getting used to, but now I can say Andrew is my fiance and the future is looking bright for us!


My parents are over the moon and I've never been closer to them; they both approve heartily of Andrew.  Meanwhile, Andrew's mother begrudgingly tolerates the situation, and my friends all gruffly agree that it's "about time."

Our marriage is tentatively planned for September and we have set up a website here, though warning, it's not nearly done yet... the upcoming months are going to be crazy!

Also, I cut my hair Tony-style pretty much immediately following the engagement.  (Pics to follow.)  (Justification: I can wear a wig to my wedding.  Captain America: Civil War premieres May 6th and I called dibs on cosplaying Tony months ago.)  (Andrew is going as Captain America.)

Wait, what?