Just what I need, a new blog.
Yahoo 360? Check
Myspace? Check – 3 times (one for me, one for my old band, and one for a page I keep some of my crappy music on)
Virb? Check – 2 times (one for my old band and one for another page for me to keep some of my crappy music on)
Blogger? Check… now.
I have no reason to start this. My myspace blog has been my blogging home for a few years and gets maybe 20 or so hits per post. Family members actually read it and stuff like that. I’m bored with it though. I will write here for a while, link it to my facebook acount and my myspace account and see what happens.
I am going to try to write to this a lot. Possibly even daily. Not that I have anything all that important to add to the universe, but just because I kinda like it.
So for those who are new to the Story of Rob, I am a 37 year old programmer living in Methuen, MA. I have a fiance who (whom?) I am crazy about. Her name is Jen. The wedding will be a small, intimate affair for close family and friends on May 30, 2009. Jen has two kids, Bellana is seven and Harry is five. I’m nuts about the two of them as well.
This past weekend Jen and I went on an engaged encounter weekend. This is a course that can be used in place of pre-cana. For those who are not Catholic, pre-cana is a course that you have to complete in order to be married in the Catholic church. It usually runs a couple of hours a week. Engaged encounter crams the whole thing into one weekend.
We went to a place called The Marist House in Framingham, MA on Friday night. From what I could tell it’s a retirement home for priests. They showed each of us to our rooms… separate rooms. Put simply, that sucked. It was dormitory style quarters with two people to a room. After a little time spent wondering what was going to happen we were all, 19 couples I think, ushered into the main meeting room and the festivities started. There were two couples who presented different topics to us, with added input from a priest… who by coincidence happened to be the priest who is going to do our ceremony on May 30, 2009. One couple would give a talk on some aspect of marriage, then we were given a list of questions. Jen and I split up for about 20 minutes to write as much on the questions as we could, then we were brought together again to read each other’s answers. The purpose of this exercise is to point out different aspects of our relationship that need to be worked on prior to getting married.
We did this from 8pm Friday until a little after 11. Then from 8am to 10:30pm Saturday, and from 8am to 2:30pm Sunday. It was grueling. It was also a very positive experience for us. I went into this fearing some sort of bomb would drop. I half expected one of the topics to point out a glaring hole in our readiness. We both felt that we were ready to get married. We were both very confident that our decision was the right one. But… what if an issue came up over the weekend that proved us wrong?
Nothing did. Every single presentation, topic, or discussion was one that Jen and I had had already. Sometimes they were in slightly different contexts, and they were never as focused on a single point as during the weekend, but everything they threw at us had been covered already. The weekend was fantastic. It proved to us that we are ready to get married. We are making the right decision.
Having said that, it wasn’t all wonderful. Jen and I were both raised in Catholic families. We both went through CCD all the way to Confirmation. We also both developed serious questions about religion and faith in general as we grew older. We both waffle back and forth between believing in God and not. Jen says she’s about 50/50. I’m more like 99% atheist and 1% believer, and that 1% is pretty sure that no organized religion has things right. I haven’t felt very Catholic since my late teens, and the sex abuse scandals have pretty much pushed me right out the door. I spent my high school years working at a church. I was part janitor and part groundskeeper. No priest ever did anything to me. It didn’t matter. There were priests raping children while their superiors turned a blind eye. It is inexcusable. In Boston everyone up to the Cardinal in charge knew what was going on and nothing was ever done to stop it. If a priest was caught raping a child in one parish he was moved to another parish… I guess so he could have his pick of a fresh group of children. Then when everything went public, how did Rome deal with Cardinal Law? They moved him to a different diocese. From Boston to… Rome. He was promoted. It’s vile and disgusting and inexcusable.
My brother and his wife, and my sister and her husband had all done engaged encounter weekends and I was warned that it will get a little religious, but the couple discussions would be good enough to overshadow my discomfort with faith. They were right. Some of the talks, especially later in the weekend, were very centered around God’s place in our relationship. I admit to zoning out on a lot of that. I tried to focus on practical matters that could help us build a stronger marriage. There was enough of that to keep me going…
With one exception.
Natural Family Planning.
First of all, the woman who gave this presentation was awful. She had a tortuously squeaky voice and spoke at a volume level approaching that of a jet plane at take off. It physically hurt to listen to this woman. As for the topic, it was the same idea as Intelligent Design. First, take a ridiculous faith based theory, Creationism, and give it a more technical name and call it science, Intelligent Design. In this case it was the rhythm method of counting days between ovulations on a calendar in order to prevent pregnancy that was given the new technical sounding name, Natural Family Planning… it was even given an acronym, NFP… and called science. The presenter used the word “science” six times in her introduction. I used the word “bullshit” about 80 times. We were told about the wonderful success rate NFP has at preventing pregnancy. 90% on average. Somehow I have a difficult time seeing a 1 in 10 failure rate as success, especially when there are birth control methods such as IUDs that have about a 99.9% success rate.
Oh and for the record, there were two couples presenting to us who both use the NFP techniques. One has 6 kids. They other has 2 but they have only been married a few years.
The other thing that continuously pissed me off all weekend long was the related “children are always a blessing” idea. We were continuously told that we shouldn’t worry about little things like financial situations when wondering when to have kids. Just have them. Apparently the church doesn’t object to people bringing children into the world when they are unable to support them. It seems the church is in favor of children living on the street starving to death. Nice thought, eh?
But again, despite my natural tendency toward being a cynical asshole, the weekend was a wonderful experience and I am very happy we did it. I feel closer to Jen then ever and I have never felt more ready to get married.
So that wraps up the weekend. What else can I blather on about?
How about music?
As the end of the year approaches it’s time to start looking back on what music defines the year for me. Last year it was Rush’s Snakes and Arrows that blew my doors off. In 2006 it was All Your Things are Gone by Victory at Sea. This year it is a tie. Two records, both that are totally out of character for my normal musical tastes. Why? Because they both come from New York. I feel dirty just thinking that.
The first record is not a new record. A little research shows me that it’s been released twice, the first time in 2005. It’s something I stumbled on in February or March while messing around with virb.com. I was in the process of failing to complete the RPM challenge (again) and stumbled across virb as a site to host music. It’s a social networking site along the lines of myspace and facebook but with a little more hosting options for bands. I was clicking on random music profiles and some how got seriously in the mood for female folkies. One artist I stumbled on was Jenny Owen Youngs. Her album Batten the Hatches was posted in it’s entirety and I just went off the deep end for it. I listened to it all the time for months. “F**k was I” is the song that most people gravitate to, and it’s a good one, but I tend to go for “Drinking Song”, “From Here”, and “Voice on Tape” (a bass guitar balad… how many of those do you hear on a day to day basis?) a little more. Every song on it is a gem in my book. This being the 21st century and all, discovering a new artist generally leads you directly to myspace and this was no exception for me. Reading the Jenny Owen Youngs myspace gives you numberous references to another artist named Bess Rogers ( I think I read somewhere they went to college together). I went to her myspace page, gave a listen, and ran to iTunes to pick up her album Decisions Based On Information. That’s my other personal album of the year. Again, every song is a favorite, but I would single out “I Would Never”, “You and Me”, and “Sunday” (odd time signatures get me every time) as extra-favs. Rogers’ record is much more Beatlesque than Youngs’. They really don’t sound much alike at all, although it seems like they work together on each other’s stuff, and they have what I think is an electronic studio only band together. I haven’t checked that out yet. Anyway, those are my 2008 albums of the year. If only they weren’t both based out of New York. Gross.
Speaking of RPM… see how I did that?… I am currently in the process of failing at another album recording challenge. National Solo Album Month. The challenge is to write, record, mix, and master a minumum length 30 minute album within the month of November. I have two unfinished songs. It’s November 18th. Guess what ain’t getting finished. I was sort of gung-ho for this on Novermber 1st, but I really haven’t had the time to make any real effort to do this. What free time I have had has been much better spent with Jen. Still… I might try to make a push to get a little closer to the finish over the next 12 days.
Right then… that’s about all I have to say right now. Let’s see if I can get a writing/journal/blogging head of steam going and post again tomorrow.