It’s that time again! Another year of shockingly blissful marriage to the amazing Anne, another anniversary dinner to celebrate.
It’s that time again! Another year of shockingly blissful marriage to the amazing Anne, another anniversary dinner to celebrate.
Sometimes on these annual entries I’ll use a photo from our recent road trip, but this year’s edition of that much-needed break from the rat race won’t be till the end of August. The wait is killing us, as is Father Time, which is another reason I went retro and dug into our personal archives for a younger photo of the two of us. This week some 150 million FaceApp users are out there having all their selfies converted to elderly “Have You Seen This Nursing Home Escapee?” mug shots and letting overseas marketers data-mine them into so much digital chattel, while I’m here swimming upstream toward youthful times. But, y’know, for love.
It’s that time again! Another year of shockingly blissful marriage to the amazing Anne, another anniversary dinner to celebrate. We just got back from our 2018 road trip a few days ago and have yet to recover fully, but we refuse to let fatigue and battle damage hamper our personal festivities. As I’ve mentioned before, maybe it’s best not to brag too proudly, but fourteen years is no easy feat in a world of increasingly disposable relationships that’s maybe two or three steps away from inventing drive-thru divorces and frequent-philanderer reward programs.
Dinner this year was at a relatively new place down the street called Kaza Maza, quite possibly the first Moroccan/Mediterranean cuisine ever to grace our side of town. Other than some issues with the Coke Zero, we wouldn’t change a thing about the evening. ‘Twas a fine place to celebrate love and marriage and to forget about the part where we had to return to our day jobs this week.
Above is a teaser image from our 2017 road trip, courtesy of the National Aquarium in Baltimore, where my lovely wife Anne and I had the pleasure of spending a few days and not getting murdered despite what you hear on TV.
We’ve known each other for nearly thirty years next month. We’ve been married for thirteen years as of this very Monday. Vacation photos and jazz hands are just two of the many cornerstones of our relationship — not the most important ones, mind you, and certainly not the hardest ones to achieve. But when your never-ending process of maintaining and streamlining the critical factors is kept on track, it frees up your mental space to indulge in the happier shared whims. If the process yields fun tangible souvenirs like this one, so much the better and the merrier.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: twelve years ago, before we went on vacation, Anne and I got married!
The guests had left earlier than expected and effectively canceled the scene where we were supposed to walk to my car through a hail of blown bubbles. After cleanup the bride and groom made a hasty retreat, dropped off all the gifts at home, then sped north to our honeymoon destination that was absolutely not an exotic tropical island resort, though portions of it bore faint resemblance to one in our humble eyes.
Ours was a most economical wedding experience partly by circumstance but mostly by preference. Neither of us comes from families in a position to drop several thousand bucks in one place on any object or experience ever. Anne’s dress, which I adored to pieces, was a great find at JCPenney. My attire was cobbled together piecemeal at Value City, as I’ve never owned a full, matching suit in my life, not even now in 2017. Our wedding rings were a Black Friday purchase I’d scored a month before I proposed. Everything from church to flowers to wedding planner to all the other mandatory expenses –- which I can’t remember because I was the groom –- added up to a few hundred at most. Anne and I already each had a failed marriage on our respective rap sheets and were absolutely in agreement and okay with taking the lo-fi route all the way. I promise you it can be done, kids.
Our big honeymoon plan was to revisit our old friend Lake Michigan, last seen on our 2002 road trip to Grand Rapids. And we knew at least one place on the Indiana side with a beach and a view.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in recent weeks we’ve been sharing the stories of our annual road trips that we undertook before I launched MCC in April 2012. Starting from the beginning and working our way forward, so far we’ve covered 1999 to 2003. Making the leap to 2004 first requires a digression for an important milestone.
A while back we reprinted the he-said-she-said tale of our relationship in Part One and Part Two of a special two-part miniseries. After seventeen years of knowing each other as classmates, coworkers, neighbors, best friends, and eventually an official Dating Couple, in July 2004 Anne and I became husband and wife and our world was never the same, except for the part where we still did road trips every year.
The following is a retelling of our blessed, frequently awkward wedding day, a time of joy and music and accidents, two weeks before we embarked on that year’s fun, frequently awkward journey. The following essay was previously shared with a small circle of friends but has been given the “special edition” treatment for archiving here on MCC.
It’s never too late to regret a Christmas gift whose inherent flaws were kept hidden at the time of unwrapping only to manifest weeks later like a time-delayed disappointment bomb.
The week of recovery after our three-day Wizard World Chicago experience has been filled with work stress, illness, and the usual post-convention depression that strikes so many geeks once we’ve disconnected from our peers and returned to the mundane world where fewer people get us. I’ve been dedicating little spare time to rest and recuperation, and more time to uploading photos and sharing anecdotes and memories from the experience so I can prolong the magic for as long as possible, but here at the new weekend it’s left me drained and inattentive and sloppy. I’ve made stupid miscalculations, I spilled drinks twice today, and I’ve used up all the really good non-drowsy sinus medicine in the house. At this point, if I could get Calgon to take me away and get Ronald McDonald to affirm I deserve a break today, their combined corporate forgiveness might just be enough to make me feel well again.
In reviewing my files the other night, I realized I overlooked a photo that belonged in our shiny happy Wizard World Chicago jazz hands assortment that kicked off the current MCC miniseries. I’m still working on the concluding chapter, the extra-length wrap-up with notes from the panels we attended, name-checks for the comic book creators we met, and various notes about the pros and cons, and about the pros at the con. It won’t be done tonight for excuses stated above, but the least I can do is share our accidental outtake.
Usually we’re out of town on one of our road trips when our anniversary passes, but today was the first time in years that we were in-state for the occasion. We appreciate the inventors of the calendar finally working out the timing in our favor. It was nice to mark the occasion with a nice meal and greeting cards exchanged on our own turf for a change.
Maybe not really. Anne and I do have our sing-a-long moments, whether we’re busting out hymns in the same church service or indulging secret nostalgia on road trips passing through towns where ’80s Top-40 still lives, which describes nearly every small town today outside Footlooseburg. I’m not convinced we could carry our own Broadway show, off-Broadway vanity production, or community performance-art stunt, but if we tried, it would look like this except you could see our jazz hands better on stage. Also, it might be nice if we found a talented stylist to hide all that stately gray that’s overtaking my beard. Nagging aging defects like that can lead to bouts of vain grumpiness and haunting incidents like the time we went to a Red Lobster and the waitress asked me non-jokingly if my daughter would like a children’s menu. True, unfair story.
My wife and I have many things in common, but our musical tastes diverge more widely than our interests in any other medium. Most musical acts that bother to include Indianapolis in their tours are so far off her radar that, until last night, she’d never been to a full-fledged capital-C Concert by a nationally famous musical act. My own concert history has been intermittent over the years (still kicking myself for skipping Social Distortion when they were in town last year), but I get out there every so often.
Then I found out Barry Manilow was coming to Indy, one of the big names on Anne’s list since childhood. As I said: divergent tastes. But I’m her husband and I love her thiiiiiiiis much and not all outings need to be about me me me. Also, my mom used to listen to local AM radio all the time when I was a kid, so it’s not as though he’s an utter stranger to me. So I cashed in all my internet cred, exchanged it for Good Husband points, and took the woman I love to her first concert, because that’s the kind of off-the-wall thing a happy, blessed marriage inspires a guy to do.
Our eleventh wedding anniversary fell on Day Seven, but scheduling needs and fannish impatience dictated that we celebrate on Day Six. Longtime MCC readers know Anne and I are big fans of the Food Network’s fun, addictive cooking competition series Chopped. Most of its judges are restaurateurs and chefs who call NYC their home, but we were surprised during our vacation research to discover one judge owns a restaurant within 500 miles of our house and right along our path. We agreed it was a mandatory dinner stop.
Last night my lovely wife made spaghetti for dinner because it’s a thing we like. Buried inside the sauce are meatballs she made using a recipe online. It’s slowly becoming one of my favorite home-cooked meals. I’m sure Chopped judges would probably have copious disappointed notes about what they would do differently. They wouldn’t mix two different kinds of pasta just to use up a nearly empty box in the pantry. They’d make fresh sauce from scratch rather than rely on a national jarred brand. Their meatballs might be more consistently colored and stuffed with fifteen extra ingredients. They’d serve it on a set of plates that cost more than we spend on one week’s groceries, with a side of fresh bread bought that same morning from a renowned Italian baker. And so on.
Their level of pasta craft doesn’t invalidate our meal. But at the same time, Anne didn’t claim to create her own sauce recipe, or make her own pasta from the flour up. She’s not gunning for the position of Prego family matriarch. It’s just supper at home. I reiterate: to this biased reviewer, A-plus.
I was reminded of our evening meal plans earlier in the day when a friend of mine retweeted the following clever joke:
One of the twelve million “It’s funny because it’s true!” wisecracks that pop up on Twitter during any given day. Some go no further than a single circle of friends. Some might be shared with friends-of-friends. Some go “viral”, a word I’ve grown to detest. But you get the picture.
Then I was reminded of something else: I’d seen this joke before from another user. Possibly from more than one.
Behold history in the making: the first cheesecake I’ve ever made myself. ‘Twas the holiday season, so I figured why not.
[Hey, all! The following special presentation is the all-new Page added tonight to MCC that merges and replaces the previous individual “Our Road Trip” checklists that were taking up too much real estate in the desktop header and the mobile menu. This handy Big Picture checklist summarizes all the trips we’ve taken to date for full historical context, with links to everything that’s been exclusively posted here since 2012, a few years’ worth that have been reprinted here on special occasions, and capsule summaries of other trips and vacations we previously shared on other sites in years past that, sooner or later, Lord willing, will all be re-chronicled on MCC someday as part of the continuing story of one geek couple and their annual quests to find new things to see and do.
Or if you totally hate domestic travel, skip down to the 2013-2014 checklists and pretend this is a different new entry called “A Salute to MCC Post Titles”. I’d understand if you did, really. I do like titling stuff.]
Though I’ve been wanting to try out the camera on my new phone in a variety of settings, photography testing wasn’t among my original plans for Wednesday night. My beloved wife Anne agreed to this unusual photo-op while we were waiting calmly for the physicians on duty to determine the cause of the chest pains she’d been having all day.
Make no mistake: that pretty smile belied some pretty frazzled nerves.
Before Eddie Redmayne bewildered audiences as a space Cenobite with laryngitis in Jupiter Ascending, he was promoted to Academy Award Nominee Eddie Redmayne thanks to his performance as physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, the closest thing to a British costume drama in this year’s Oscar race. Unlike his turn as the rebel Marius in Les Miserables, his rendition of the increasingly immobile Hawking had no show-stopping musical numbers and ended up forfeiting the Best Original Song category, even though there are plenty of words that rhyme with “black hole”.
(Special note: if you’d prefer to be surprised by historical records, beware light spoilers ahead.)
This is how everyone spends their tenth wedding anniversary, right? Because my wife and I sure wouldn’t want to look out of place or anything.
I’m not sure if it’s reached national headlines, but this afternoon a severe storm front swept through the Midwest, took at least five lives in Illinois, and destroyed numerous structures between here and there, according to the most recent Indianapolis Star update as of this writing. (See this link for footage from Lebanon — a town halfway between our house and my son’s apartment — of a tornado that swept through the area. Among other damages, it later flipped a semi and took out a Starbucks.) Our prayers are with those currently in the midst of unthinkable tragedy as a result of the day’s upheaval.
We Hoosiers are no strangers to destructive weather. Our TV meteorologists panic more often than most of us do. It’s absolutely horrifying whenever worst-case scenarios do occur. We’ve been coached all our lives on what to do in that event; more often than not, though, all we suffer is unusual inconvenience — a broken shingle here, a leveled bush there, some broken siding on rare occasion.
Tonight, those treacherous storms ruined our dinner.