I remember that Raider proposed to me on the stairs, which I had made it only halfway down before being unable to proceed. I called to him and he brought me saltines and applesauce. In my memory, I felt like I might throw up. In Raider's memory, I had thrown up, and since he's the guy who had to clean up, we might trust his memory over mine. We had a running joke earlier in my pregnancy where, after a bout of upchucking, we'd say something like, "At least if I had to throw up in the living room, I made it to the wastepaper basket!" Then that had to be downgraded to, "At least I made it off the rug and onto the hardwood floor," like a cat with a hairball. And so on.
What we both remember is sitting on the steps, feeling discouraged that my nausea had come back so quickly after I went off the Zofran, and we remember the words of Raider's proposal: "I think it's time for that shotgun wedding we've been planning."
This report was written to friends and family.
The Romantic Engagement, February 4, 2001
Really, this will be quick. I just want to let people know that I've now been off my anti-nausea meds for six days, and after several days of feeling worse and worse, I started throwing up again yesterday. I feel like all I did yesterday was cry. Today I feel more cheerful, though still nauseated.
I talked to my practitioner about less-expensive medication options, and it turns out that I have very few. Apparently most of the available ones are related to compazine, and my bad reaction to compazine back in December means I can't take any of them.
Therefore, Raider and I are going to get a marriage license on his lunch hour today. I called the district court for information about civil ceremonies, and it turns out it's so simple that by the time I got off the phone I had made us an appointment for Friday afternoon. That's a weird thing to put in your calendar: "Wedding, 2:30 Friday." Especially since I picked Friday afternoon instead of Friday morning because I already have an appointment on Friday morning, and this way I don't have to cancel it. And then, of course, I should add: "Pharmacy, 3:00 Friday." My coverage under Raider's insurance is effective as of the date of the wedding. Woo-hoo.
It struck me funny that the scheduler at the district court didn't blink at all when she asked me when we wanted to get married, and I said, "Um, sometime in the next week, I guess? Is that possible?" I wanted to say, "Really, we're not rushing into anything. We've been together 7 1/2 years, it's just that I'm taking this really expensive medication my insurance won't cover anymore." How's that for a good reason to get married? Perhaps we should work it into the vows.
I don't feel very good about getting married this way, but it seems like the best choice right now. And Raider keeps framing it as "once this is done, we'll be legal next-of-kin," which does feel very positive. Perhaps we should work that into the vows, too: "Raider, I hereby take you as legal next-of-kin, with all the rights and obligations pertaining thereto, including the right to take a very expensive drug and have it paid for by your health plan." Then I throw up into a nearby potted plant, and then Raider says, "Su, I hereby take you as legal next-of-kin, in sickness (obviously) and in health (someday, with any luck)." And then the magistrate pronounces us, and the waiting ambulance rushes us to the Sparrow Professional Building pharmacy, where I fork over $800+ for my medication and pop one on the spot; then we rush to Human Resources at CoreComm Formerly Voyager.Net, slam the license on the desk, and say, "Sign us up, and by the way may we please have a claim form?"
The Ceremony, February 9, 2001
I think the baby might have had hiccups this morning. I felt movement that was very regular in exactly the same place for 2-3 minutes, which is not something that has happened before. Cute.
I wrote a huge long e-mail yesterday all about the Wedding Day, and just as I was finishing, lost it in a computer crash. Sigh. Normally I’m really good about saving as I go, but of course you have to get zinged every now and then. I suppose I could just write a short version for you now, since re-writing a thing that has already been written is so tedious. I think the short version would be something like this:
License gives my last name as "Pen" (but my father's as "Penn") and states Raider’s birthplace as the imaginary town of Bismarck, South Dakota. These errors are corrected. Quick drive from county clerk office to courthouse. Glamorous lunch at Arby’s on the way. Romantic ambiance at the courthouse: Guy in handcuffs, many lawyers, and disgruntled people involved in lawsuits share the waiting room. Many tedious jokes about "last chance to back out." Ceremony: 27 seconds flat. "Raider, you may kiss your bride"--blech. Vows otherwise unobjectionable. Also unmemorable. No ID requested from any party involved, bride, groom, or witnesses, at any time during entire process. Bride, groom, and witnesses convinced there is a lucrative scam in that fact if only we can figure it out.
Let’s see…what is worth expanding in that? Cora found a blue marble in the parking lot at Arby’s and we decided that counted for my something new and something blue. When it became clear that neither Raider nor I had brought any cash, we thought for a moment that the 10 bucks for the wedding might have to be the something borrowed, but fortunately the court takes checks. When I got my receipt from the clerk, it read "Received from Su Penn. On behalf of Penn, Su," which struck me funny. The clerk then yelled "Hey, Mike, feel like doing a wedding?" which made all four of us laugh.
Since we did not want to repeat vows or exchange rings, the service consisted of Raider and I holding hands, each being asked a short question to which we replied "I do," and then Toots and Cora signing the wedding certificate in triplicate, two copies for the county clerk and one, with a gold seal, for us. The question we were asked was quite acceptable to both of us, though the whole thing happened so quickly that we have some trouble remembering it. On the way out to the car, we were trying to recreate it, and I said, "I remember we promised to support and encourage each other in all the conditions of life, but there was something else…I just can’t remember it…what was it?" Toots said. "Uh, love." Oh, yeah. I find it interesting that a purely civil ceremony requires us to promise love, support, and encouragement. I mean, we've been loving, supporting, and encouraging each other for 7 1/2 years. But I guess now it's a legal obligation.
The wedding was sandwiched into quite a busy day. I got up in the morning with 4 pages of my 5-page paper still to write, and suggested to Raider that if he drove himself to work I could re-claim the round-trip drive time to write. At 9:50, I went into the kitchen for a glass of juice, and noticed the time. At that point, I had 6 pages of my 5-page paper written. "Why was I worried about finishing this?" I asked myself. "We have three hours before we have to leave for the wedding."
Back at my computer, I suddenly remembered I had a massage at 10:30. OK. So I wrote for another 20 minutes, put on my coat, and reached for the car keys. No car keys. Ever since the key broke off in the ignition last year, there has been only one useable key for our car, so it's very important that people not leave it in their pockets but hang it on its special hook by the door. Imagine my disgruntlement upon discovering that Raider had not left the key hanging on the hook. "That darn Raider took the key!" I said to myself. Then I remembered that he had, of course, taken the key because he had, at my request, taken the car. Great.
I stole Toots's car, hoping that this would not be the one morning in 20 when he had an appointment or an errand to run before noon. My massage was lovely, and left me with a very pleasant feeling of physical and emotional well-being. It also left me with massage hair, a special oily, spiky look I get after she finishes massaging my scalp. This ended up being my wedding coif, as I had to use the hour between the massage and leaving for the wedding to finish my paper, print it, proof it, and print it again, leaving no time for hair-washing. My paper was coming off the printer just as Toots was thundering damply down the stairs after his shower which was just as the clock was chiming 1 p.m.
Toots and I quickly discovered that one of the problems with quickie weddings is that there is so little time to think through the details. For instance, Toots and I knew we were supposed to pick our friend Cora up at 1, but neither of us had been told whether we were collecting her at home or at work. We guessed work, and were fortunately correct. Then we discovered that no one had told Toots that we were also picking Raider up, so he had had no opportunity to clear out the Supplemental Storage Area in his car so that a 4th person could sit there. This was quickly accomplished in the parking lot at CoreComm Formerly Voyager Dot Net, in the steady rain which had by that time been falling for over 12 hours.
The rain made us grateful we had decided against the outdoor wedding in the park.
After the wedding, we dropped Cora back at work, put my paper in Dr. Arch's mailbox, and went for ice cream. Then we decided it might be a good day to finally get my birthday present, a $50 CD shopping spree I had been promised in October but had been too sick to take advantage of. So Toots, Raider, and I wandered pleasantly in and out of used CD shops in East Lansing (in the rain), picking out CDs. "What a pleasant day we're having!" we kept saying to each other, meaning that we had enjoyed eating ice cream and were enjoying wandering around town together.
When we got home, we discovered that, not only had Raider's 120 megabytes of memory, ordered only the day before, arrived days before he expected it, but the new computer books he had ordered from Amazon.com and anxiously awaited all week had also arrived. "What an exciting day for you!" Toots gushed enthusiastically, knowing how much fun Raider was going to have installing his memory and reading his new books ("Programming the Perl CGI" and "Learning Red Hat Linux."). We kept laughing at ourselves because we kept saying what a great day it was, completely forgetting that we had been married in the course of it.
Of course, we weren't feeling romantic about the wedding and it didn't represent a new level of commitment for us. Raider and I commented that it didn't feel much more significant than the last time we were in the county seat, last August, to execute a quit-claim deed. But one significant thing is that I did, on Friday morning, re-fill my prescription and start taking my medication again. If past experience is any guide, I should start feeling better today or tomorrow.
I will say this about the last two weeks: although I have been nauseated all the time, my stomach has hurt, and I have, on occasion, thrown up, it has not been nearly as bad as it was in the fall. I've been able to have pretty normal days, to continue to go to classes, run errands, do my housework, do my animal chores (and some of Raider's, since he's been sick with a cold all week). But it has also been two weeks of feeling steadily worse each day, so who knows how bad it might have gotten--I am very glad to have my little pills back.