Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Two Different Weddings, Two Different Worlds...

I had originally written this article in July after I attended two weddings. I told my friend about this post and he said I should finish it and fire it off...

July, 2006

I attended two very different weddings this past weekend. The first wedding was on a Saturday and was exactly like every wedding I've attended in Nebraska since I was a kid. A coworker (well, he's actually a grad student) got married in small town Nebraska in a small protestant church. Even though I only knew only the groom and the guy I carpooled with, it was like coming home. Every familiar small town character was there, almost like a Simpsons episode. I expected Comic Book Guy to bumble through the door at any moment.

The weird thing about these types of weddings is the general tension in the air. An almost tangible feeling that something could go horribly wrong at any moment. Everyone seems to be on pins and needles. When the candle lighter had troubles due to the blasting AC you could see the near panic crossing everyone faces.

What in the world causes this level of stress? Why were they so worried? I couldn't tell, but it didn't feel any different then all the other weddings I've been to.

The reception was quite different. There's a definite feeling of 'Thank God that's over' in the air. Food is placed out and people are encouraged to help themselves and have a good time.

Contrast that with the wedding I went to on Sunday. First of all, a Sunday wedding is pretty rare for me. The reason it was on a Sunday is part of the overwhelming differences between the two particular weddings. This was the first Jewish wedding I've ever attended.

I was pretty nervous about going. I'm not familiar with the customs and I really, really didn't want to offend anyone. I was worried about how easy it was at weddings I was familiar with to set things in motion that would snowball into a bad scene.

I could not have been more wrong. The wedding had a feeling of congenial reverence. I got the feeling that if something went wrong with the ceremony, then that was ok because it wasn't the ceremony that was important, but the long road to follow. It felt like the celebrants were saying 'its ok if this goes of the rails, God will still be happy with it'.

When I asked about covering my head before entering the temple the people at the door were very gracious and were certain to tell me that I was welcome to do what made me comfortable. They were not offended by my ignorance, nor were they pushy about what to do. It was a small thing that hinted at much larger differences. I was tremendously grateful for the consideration.

The reception was a more formal affair. Waiters and waitresses served the guests on the staff's timetable. It wasn't until the reception that I started to feel the constricting grasp of foreboding, and then not to the degree I was accustom to at small town weddings.

It was a strange weekend and I was happy to go. I have another wedding soon, I'm sure it'll be even stranger. (Cowboy weddings never stop surprising me...)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more...

I realized that I've packed a lot of weight on since January. What happened in January? I stopped teaching.

Now that may seem a minor thing, but I did a (literal) back of the envelope calculation involving my teaching style. You see, I pace when I teach. Back and forth, back and forth. Its annoying, but it makes me a hard target for sharp-shooters. Anyway, if I averaged say, two miles an hour (that's slow for my regular pace--long legs you know) I've calculated that I was walking about 18 miles a week just teaching. (!)

Just for fun, I ran the numbers against my lecturing career (no recitations, no labs) here at UNL. Accounting for the variable number of sections I had and the summer sessions I taught, it came out to about 4300 miles over my career. That's a Journey from Chicago to Houston and back. Twice.

Forrest Gump ain't got nothing on me.

Now I'm in the gawd awful gym huffing and puffing to go 1/2 a mile on the stupid treadmill.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Sadness speckled with hope

The first paragraph of this article really hits home.
Wired Article