Category Archives: Journal

Reflections: The Pre-Wedding Jitters?

ThumbnailNot so much, but there is a lot of reflection in these, the last 24 hours of bachelorhood.

This post is bluntly honest, because, well, it’s incredibly late and I’m very tired.

At 2:00 p.m. today, I will enter into the bond of marriage. I wrote about Olivia and our engagement in a previous post, so I won’t reiterate what was said there.

But during this time, there’s a lot to think about. First of all, I have to be honest. Planning a big wedding sucks! There is so much to take care of, which means that there’s that much more to go wrong, which we’ve been experiencing in droves. Not to mention the cost. We’ll see how things play out once we’re actually in the event. But the planning and prep work has been a real chore. Don’t get me wrong, I truly love my wife-to-be, and want the best for her, but getting to this point has been a real slog.

Especially over the last week, people keep asking me if I’m getting nervous or excited, and some have even asked why I seem so calm. Strange, especially when everyone keeps asking you. Well, there’s two reasons. One is that I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had much time to stop and think, “Oh, shit! I’m actually getting married.” The other reason is that, with rare exception, I don’t get worked up over much because of a general philosophy that things go wrong. I will try the best I can to prevent those things, but they still happen, and there’s not much to really be done about them. We can build the boat, but we can’t control the river. We have now built that boat, but we’re about to put it in the river, so we might as well enjoy the ride, white water rapids and all. Life is too short to get worked up over insignificant details. After all, tomorrow, the sun will still rise regardless of what happens.

Less than twelve hours away, and am I nervous? It’s 2:00 a.m. the night before my wedding as I write this. What do you think? Well, in a manner of speaking. It’s more that there’s been a ton of last minute stuff to do, and I’m still doing it. Why this had to be done now, I don’t know. But it does. I’m more stressed than nervous, focused on the job at hand.

So, it’s turned into a bit of a late-night vigil for me. A chance to reflect on the pre-wedding experience and on bachelor life. Bachelor life has its advantages and disadvantages. Independence is not bad, and I’m an only-child afterall, so I’ve always had a slightly independent streak. But there does come a time when you realize it’s not good to be alone, and you find someone who is, in my case, so strangely compatible that you want to stay with her and be with her for the rest of your life. Will I miss bachelor life? Maybe. I don’t know. I know that being married is definitely going to be different. I have faith it will be better, but it will take some adjustment after having been independent for so long. I love my fiancé dearly and with all my heart. She is the love of my life, and I can’t imagine a different path for us, despite the stresses of this wedding. Do I have pre-wedding jitters? No, I do not. But I can recognize the apprehension I feel for what it is, and that is humanity’s natural aversion to significant change. But this a good change that I don’t fear, even though baser animal instincts make me a little anxious.

I also want to take this opportunity to publicly thank all those who came together to help us put this day together, from both families. They are numerous, and I’m afraid that if I start naming names, I’ll forget someone and they’ll be offended. So, you know who you are! Thank you!

I will post more later on reflections on the wedding itself.

To Sum Things Up…

ThumbnailI think I know why I haven’t been making many personal blog posts lately. When I get behind, I feel I have to talk about too much, so a blog post with personal thoughts or a life update becomes a daunting task. And as more time slips by, it becomes ever more daunting. Kind of like how you can be given a deadline, which is easily met if you start right away with little effort, but you procrastinate constantly until the deadline comes up, and then it’s extremely difficult to get everything done quickly.

So, I’m going to do a very quick summary about things of late or that I’ve wanted to talk about in order to catch up, and hopefully “clear the table,” as it were, so that I can handle everything else as it comes up instead of just keeping this as a review blog.

To start, things with the wedding are now progressing at a breakneck pace. We’re in the final month, which means that bills are coming due, meetings are happening, and stress levels are high. Don’t get me wrong, I love my fiancé and want to marry her, but I’ll admit that the stresses of having a fairly large wedding are getting to me. Honestly, I think I’m going to be glad when it’s done. It’s helped that we’ve had family and friends helping us with various aspects of it, and my fiancé was just thrown a lovely bridal shower last Saturday, which was wonderful (I showed up at the very end to help her with the gifts; you know, the important stuff). That’s all I’m going to say on that at the moment.

Unfortunately, with the stresses of the wedding, I haven’t been eating very well, which I openly admit. So I haven’t been losing weight, but instead gaining. I need to get this under control. At least lately I seem to have stopped gaining weight, so the chart is no longer going up. Now I need to refocus on actually losing weight.

Both my fiancé and I are looking at going to grad school, although for vastly different things. I’m looking to finally apply this year and make the deadlines for school to start next year. She’s looking to push hers up to this year. Wish us luck!

My mother had to go back in for neck surgery again. Although, this wasn’t related to here previous surgery exactly. It sounded like it was a similar problem as what made the previous surgery necessary, but in a different area of her spine (above where the last one was). While she’s still recovering, she is saying that she’s feeling a lot better than she was before the surgery. Hopefully she’ll be okay by the wedding.

On the death of Roger Ebert: Yes, I do want to say something here, especially given my own penchant for critiquing movies and books. His death is a huge loss to the world of criticism. Ebert was brilliant in how he could say things, and his review of “North” was easily one of my favorite of all time. While I did disagree with him, not only on his opinions of some movies but on his ideas about story, such as how video games could never tell a truly compelling story, I could at least respect him for his opinions because he would give well-thought-out reasons for those opinions. So, it’s not just a loss to movies and criticism but to reasoned argument as well, and it seems that there’s no real heir apparent to fill the void.

As for my writing projects, there’s not much movement. I’ve been having some trouble focusing for a while now. Okay, a lot of trouble, which is not helping me much in any aspect. I don’t know if it’s full-on writer’s block, but it is in some form. I’ll say more on this later, because it deserves it’s own post.

Opinions of world event:

The panic over North Korea makes me laugh. It’s the exact same crap they’ve pulled before, and it’s meaningless. It’s nothing but the new leader Kim Jong-un, trying to establish himself as a strong leader, but his inexperience is showing in that he’s pushing the joke too far.

Margaret Thatcher died. Mixed feeling there, but many others have explained those mixed reasons better than I have, so I don’t feel the need to repeat them.

A pope resigned, and there’s a new pope who seems like an interesting person. I’m taking a wait and see approach on this one.

On gay marriage, I’m for it, and I honestly don’t understand the arguments against it. The surprise on this was Bill O’Reilly, who said on his program (paraphrasing here) that all the arguments against gay marriage amount to little more than Bible-thumping. I couldn’t have said it better.

I think that will cover it for now. Hopefully, this catches me up and I can blog regularly and not just review stuff. Wish me luck on that, too!

‘Til next time…

Thanks For Dropping By: In Loving Memory of Ralph Nylander

Note: This is a little late, and while I probably should have had this available weeks ago, for obvious reasons it’s been extremely difficult to write anything, let alone this. Despite the delay, I’ve decide to put this up because I told myself I would and for my grandfather, but don’t feel any obligation to read it.

I want to tell you about my grandfather. No, I’m not going to give you a biography, or tell you stories about his time in the Navy in World War II, or things like that. There are other people who were closer to those stories who could tell them better than I could. Instead, I want to tell you about the man I personally knew during my life.

The first thing you would probably notice is that he was a quiet man. He wasn’t the most talkative, and I can’t recall one incident where I ever heard him raise his voice. He was always calm in the face of adversity, almost Zen-like.

My grandfather worked. A lot. As an electrician, he was always working on different properties and on the move. But even then, he always had some project he was working on, building something, fixing something, renovating something. He was always happiest with something to do. I think when he finally retired, more out of necessity because his body just wouldn’t take it anymore than an actual desire to retire, it was one of the hardest things he had to do.

Partly because of all his work, we always knew that if we ever needed anything, any piece of equipment, any tool, he probably had it. My grandfather was a packrat, something that both my father and I have inherited, although not on the level my grandfather showed. About ten years ago, when my grandparents were moving after having been in their house for more than 20 years, we had to help them clean the house out of things they weren’t going to take with them. Ultimately, we had to haul off two 40-foot dumpsters, something that, just by looking at him, he wasn’t happy about in the least. It was a kind of emotional pain that was difficult to see on such a kind man.

And my grandfather was a very kind and polite man. Another thing that people would notice after visiting with him for a while was…well, it’s really hard to describe. It was as though he always had a smile in his eyes, a twinkle that never left.

Despite his penchant for work (and work he did; right before going in for knee replacement surgery, he was up on the roof of their house installing a satellite dish), he always had time for his family. At the house I grew up in in my earlier years, he had a shop attached to the garage, and he came by often to get tools and equipment, make phone calls, and other stuff. But he always made time for me if I was there and never turned me away. He was a family man, and even as his health was failing, you could see in his eyes that he loved having his family around and was very protective of us.

And through everything, my grandfather was one of the most polite men I’ve ever known. Always kind and gentle, even in the hospital when he was the most uncomfortable, he would thanks the nurses for their help. As the Alzheimer’s Disease did its work and his body was failing, who a person is at their core really comes through. And this was who he was. That kindness and politeness never left him the whole time. He even seemed uncomfortable, not just because of the physical pain, but because people were making such a fuss over him. He was always self-effacing, never wanting accolades or fusses made over him. I remember that during my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary party, while he loved having his family around, he felt embarrassed and mostly tolerated the fact people were there to celebrate him and my grandmother. He never felt he needed to be praised for simply doing the right thing, because you’re supposed to do the right thing because it’s the right thing.

My grandfather loved visitors, though, up until the end. When people were leaving, he always said “Thanks for dropping by.” And even near the end, if we were just getting up to go to another part of the room, he would always be sure to say “Thanks for dropping by.”

On July 29, 2012, my grandfather, Ralph Nylander, passed away after complications from Alzheimer’s disease. There are some who say that we’re only passing through this life, that it’s temporary no matter what you do. I consider myself very lucky to be his grandson and to have had him pass through my life. I’ve always said that people should be treated politely, but shouldn’t get genuine respect by default. That kind of respect needs to be earned and deserved. And my grandfather was most deserving of that respect. He would probably be incredibly embarrassed to be reading this as he hated this kind of fuss over him, but it needs to be said nonetheless. He was a kind, gentle, hard-working man who just did the right thing and led a good life. Someone that others could look up to and respect. I guess what I really want to say is this:

Thanks for dropping by, Grandpa.

We miss you…

What is Love?

EngagementNo, I’m not quoting Haddaway, but feel free to bop your head to the side while reading if the mood strikes you.

This is actually a serious question that comes up in everyone’s life at some point. There are different perspectives on exactly what love is. Some follow a purely science-based and rational explanation and say that love is a biochemical reaction to promote the mating cycle and the continuation of our genes. As much as I love science, this is a little too fatalistic to me, since the way the brain works makes me at least want to believe that humans are more than just the sum of our parts.

Philosophers have asked this question, as well. Some say it’s the driving force of human nature. Some say it makes the world go round. Some distinguish between types of love, such as brotherly love, erotic love, etc.

When I say that I love Olivia, it is not without pause. This is not because I don’t love her. It’s because the word itself falls far short of expressing my true feelings for her. You see, like many people, I’ve thrown the word “love” around when describing a lot of things in the past. I’ve said that I love pizza, or that I love Star Wars (original trilogy, just to be clear). Obviously, my feelings for Olivia go far, far beyond my fondness for any of these mundane things.

But even when you strip away these casual remarks, the word “love” still feels insufficient. My feelings for her dwarf what anyone has ever described love to be. It’s a feeling that cannot be expressed properly in words. To my knowledge, no word has been invented that can adequately describe how I feel about her, and with emotions this strong, I am ill-equipped to invent such a word myself. She is my light. She is my inspiration. She makes me a better man. And I tell her I love her because, as poor a description for my feelings as that word is, it is the only word available to me.

We’ve had a storied history. We originally met all the way back in middle school, but mostly knew of each other without really getting to know each other. Still, something about her stood out to me.

A few years ago, we met up at our ten year high school reunion (Go Conquistadors!), but lost contact again shortly after that. About two and a half years ago, we reconnected once again through Facebook and have never looked back. So I’ll always have a bit of a soft spot for Facebook because it ultimately brought us back together in the best way possible.

Since then, there has never been a day when we haven’t at least talked on the phone, if not seen each other. Even today, this far along into our relationship, every time I see her name come up on my phone, my heart skips a beat. Every time we hold hands, I still feel that spark. Every time she smiles, it lights up my day. And every time she laughs, it fills my own heart with joy.

Last week, I took Olivia out for her birthday. We were going to Cirque Du Soleil: Iris at the recently renamed Dolby Theater (formerly known as the Kodak Theater) in Hollywood, but before then we needed to kill some time. So we went to the Glendale Galleria, where she wanted to look for some home furnishings for her sister. While she was shopping, I excused myself to use the restroom, but I really ran downstairs to get a little sterling silver ring. I had ordered a real ring custom-made, but it wasn’t ready yet.

We moved from the Galleria to the Americana across the street and went for an early birthday dinner at the Cheesecake Factory (if you don’t live in Los Angeles but watch “The Big Bang Theory,” you’ll get these references). After dinner, they brought her a little birthday desert, and I asked the waiter to take a picture of us together. But this was a bit of a ruse, as my real purpose was to get next to her in the booth so she could hear me. I gave a little speech I had prepared, but only about half of it because I was so nervous that I forgot the other half.

Then I slid out of the edge of the booth, took her hand, got down on my knee in the middle of the restaurant, and asked her to marry me, using the little sterling silver band as a stand-in until the real ring was ready.

Later last week, I got the real ring, but the jeweler who made it couldn’t find a ring box, so he gave me a very nice little pewter and crystal pig with an enameled interior, wrapped the ring in tissue paper, and put it inside. I took Olivia to a casual dinner at Topanga Plaza, then we walked around the mall and sat down on some cushioned and surprisingly low seats in the middle of the mall. There, I got down on my knee once more, skipped the speech, and asked her to marry me again, but this time with the proper equipment, and with the encouragement of the little engagement pig.

Oh, yeah, and by the way:

She said “yes”! (both times)

Our first picture as an engaged couple (at my cousin's Bat Mitzvah reception)

Post-Birthday Catch-Up, and Then Some

ThumbnailWell, my birthday has come and gone. It was nice. Fairly subdued. My parents took Olivia and I to Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion. Or they were supposed to. Unfortunately, my mother got sick at the last minute, so Olivia and I went on our own, with my parents picking up the tab. If you’ve never been to Roy’s, you should go if you’ve got one in your area. It really was some of the best restaurant food we’ve had in a long time. It’s not cheap, but the food and the service was truly excellent. And I’m the kind that, if I like something, will usually refer to it as “not bad.”

Among other things, I got the first season of “A Game of Thrones” on Blu-Ray and the three volume set of Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories from Del Rey, both of which were pretty much the only things I asked for, and both of which Olivia got for me. So, all in all, it was actually a pretty good birthday. At the same time, I’m now 34, so if I wasn’t before, I’m now officially in my mid-thirties, and I’m getting the gray hairs to show it. Hopefully, those grays won’t continue to develop much in the near future.

I’m continuing to work on training Molly. I’m trying to keep in mind that she is still a puppy, so a little mental growing-up still has to occur. The biggest problem we’ve got with her is that she has separation anxiety. Whenever we’re leaving the house, she starts to freak out, cry, does everything to stop us from abandoning her. It really is a problem, that doesn’t seem to be getting much better. We have to train her with treats and keep her focused just to get through the garage door. Does anyone have experience with this kind of thing and have a good solution?

My mother is getting better. Slowly, but she’s getting better. The main issue that I can see now is that she still has a problem with pushing herself beyond the point that she should, causing increasing pain and setting her back for the rest of the day. Maybe I need to start training her with treats to get her to stop.

I’ll be continuing my run of “Keep on the Shadowfell” this weekend. The last session was focused on mechanics and picking characters. Since my players have never touched 4th edition D&D before, I made things easy and created a bunch of pre-generated characters for them to choose from so they could get the idea of how the game works. This session should go a little better, I think, as we can probably go straight into the game. Since they didn’t know the mechanics when they started, I plan to give them an opportunity to change characters if they so desire.

There’s been a few other interesting bits lately, so more later.