Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Thoughts on Weddings

It's funny how things can change. When I was a little girl I wanted the fairy-tale wedding that I think all of us dream of at least once: the white horses, the gilt carriage, the gleaming cathedral and a spectacular, shimmering, seed-pearl-embroidered gown. I didn't bother thinking about the cost; as a child anything was possible. I hung on to that idea of marriage for a while mostly because I hadn't been faced with serious thoughts about it, so I had no reason to accumulate more useful ideas or opinions on the subject, other than some mild amusement at the thought of $99 Vegas weddings.

When I got to college and was informally introduced to the big wide world, I met a bunch of people - married, engaged, and life partners - who pointed out that there were a great deal more ways to get married than the traditional Christian ceremonies. I cataloged them, fell in love with the idea of handfasting for a while, and then went back to wanting the white dress. The fairy-tale ideal wedding got cut down a little bit, but I still expected something really pretty - a park with an arbor draped in flowers, a gorgeous dress, and rose petals strewn on the grass.

When I got engaged, I started planning. I still wanted a park for the ceremony. I had ideas about a simple dress (I even had one picked out), the right color scheme, a proper set of bridesmaids (I asked them, too). Two or three months in, as my mother was trying to get me to call her local florist and I was researching the cost of catering, I did one last Google search and threw the fairy-tale out the window, realizing once and for all that the cost of flinging even cheap artificial rose petals onto the grass of the town park was absurdly out of our price range. I still have the red cardstock that I was going to use for the invitations (I might still make a few, just to see, and send them out more as keepsakes than anything else), but so far that's all I've spent on the wedding - about $20 in card stock, silver paint markers, stamps and embossing powder. Even a "proper" DIY wedding is out of reach, with my work hours dropping and student loans due.

So we're getting married at the courthouse. He has a black button-down shirt and I have a natural linen halter dress I bought in Mexico. We're not having a reception, though if friends can make it we'll probably go out to dinner. I'll be paying maybe $30 for sandals and a strapless bra, plus the cost of a daisy bouquet from Wal-Mart (unless I can find them growing wild). That, plus the license and officiant's fees, is all I plan on paying for this wedding. I'm even debating on the necessity of rings, since the reputable shops are expensive even for plain silver.

In a way it actually feels a lot better not to be worrying about catering and seating charts. I've been thinking about it and tonight I found a new way of looking at the whole thing. "Traditional" weddings are absurd because the bride is relying on hundreds of strangers and acquaintances from the dress shop to the catering company, all to enjoy one single day which they insist isn't supposed to be about the dress and the food in the first place. I've never been good with strangers anyway; I can't imagine the stress it would have caused to force myself to depend on a dozen of them for every detail of my wedding, and then have to tip them all for it afterward when I could have done things myself. Instead, I'm sitting here after a good dinner with a short list of things to buy for myself and not stressed at all. I can invite a few people to share our ceremony and enjoy my day with the knowledge that I won't have to worry about the photographer showing up late.

Oh, and if you'd like to show up, we're still planning on July 16, probably early afternoon. We'll update if anything changes.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

It's funny...

I know on some level that hatred is a pretty useless emotion, and I know that I have a lot of things to improve in my own life before I go nitpicking at someone else's decisions, and I know that Jesus said "love they neighbor" and "turn the other cheek"... but I still hate everyone who was involved in the current auto company "situation", alongside the others I've come to blame for our current economy and the slow loss of our rights and our dreams. It's hard not to, when every day is news like this:

Chrysler isn't paying back its initial bailout loans, and the Treasury Dept. is sitting back and saying (And I quote): "While we do not expect a recovery of these funds, we are comfortable that in the totality of the arrangement, the Treasury and the American taxpayer are being fairly compensated". Canada isn't even getting their money back. How's that for foreign policy?



I'm sorry, but the auto industry shouldn't have had any bailouts at all. Screw the unions, screw the workers, screw everyone who has struggled to keep the "Big 3" from biting the dust a decade ago. It was their idiocy and their greed that got them to this point and I see no reason I nor anyone else uninvolved in this circus should pay for their mistakes. Let the employees bail out the company if they love it so much and want it to survive. Let all the people who are screaming about supporting AMERICA! (when these companies have as much overseas business, if not more, as they do here, and Honda is manufacturing cars almost wholly in the US now) go ahead and whip another few billion out of their pockets. Otherwise, let them all fall and let them all suffer, because if I'm going to have to default on my paltry $40k in loans due to the economic "downturn" and I'm going to get chased down for every damn cent, the jackasses in charge of Chrysler, AIG, General Motors, Ford, and Fannie/Freddie had better be suffering the same fate for every cent of taxpayer "loan" they can't repay plus interest.

I am one of probably millions of people who are struggling to pay the bills every month. I fulfilled my education with a promise from Them (businesses, my school, the government which loaned me the cost of my tuition, my mother, and many of my classmates, teachers, and friends) that I should and would be able to pay it back, if not make piles of money, upon leaving school. Maybe I should've seen it coming 5 years ago when I applied to these colleges; maybe it's my fault that I got so deep into debt just as the economy tanked, for the sake of a bit of paper that says I dealt with 4 more years of academic bullshit. But I'm still bitter that everyone else was parading around with their heads up their collective asses, pretending that everything was still fine, and letting thousands of students and young families work their way into debt with cars and mortgages and high-cost colleges, thinking that we'd all be able to pay it off soon, and taking our credit cards and offering us MORE, because hey, why worry about credit risks?

I like to be responsible for myself. I like the idea that I could be self-reliant, and not have to depend on loan forgiveness. I want to be honorable and pay back every cent I borrowed, although I'd skip on the interest if AES would let me. But when every large company I can name is getting bailouts left and right from the government for making a mistake big enough to bring down the entire economy when they actually fall (and fall they should, and would if we didn't stop handing them crutches), I have to wonder: Where's my bailout?

And if I don't get any help, I who am supposedly the spirit of our great nation, a well-educated young woman looking to better the world around me, willing to work, eager to help, and proud of my freedoms... what does that say about how much They value people like me?

I wanted to own land some day. I wanted an actual garden, not a bunch of wilted plants in containers on a second-story porch. I wanted to be able to put a little bit into savings, to own more than a ten-year-old bicycle and a couple of books, to have an apple orchard and a horse and a house that I helped build. So you'll excuse me if I'm a little bitter when I've ended up working 20 hours a week from a badly insulated apartment, trying to find a place we can afford to live this fall, and struggling to keep our services turned on, pay the rent, and avoid the creditors all at once, while Chrysler is taking part of my paycheck to cover its ass without so much as a thank-you. So I hate them, furiously and helplessly. And by hate, I mean I have wished upon them various and terrible things, but mostly that they all suffer at the hands of a market that won't take them back when they lose their jobs and their houses and their company cars, and that they end up in a squallid concrete-block basement apartment somewhere in Detroit, and have to live with the fact that they put themselves (and the rest of us) there, and that they won't be eligible for help. I admit I want them to die unhappy, and I ought to feel bad for that, but right now I can't say I feel anything more than a bitter satisfaction at the prospect. Misery loves company, and I'm pretty damn miserable right now.