Tagged with " relationships"
Oct 6, 2011 - Domestic Engineering    8 Comments

15 Amazing Things About My Marriage


Today is my 15th wedding anniversary, and I really wish there were something extravagant I could do to show everyone that I have the best husband since somebody invented them. But I don’t have access to a major newspaper, a Jumbotron, a biplane, or a parade permit. We’ve been so stressed out about money and everything, I didn’t even get him a card (I suppose I could’ve made him one with my ninja paper skills, but that takes time, which I’m currently using all of to work for more moneys).

But I do have a blog, so for the three of you who read it, please bear with me while I try to make up for the dorky, no-presents, no-cards, falls-on-a-Wednesday anniversary we’re having.

The 15 Most Amazing Things About Our Kick-Ass Marriage (in no particular order):

1)   We laugh all the time. Lots of people say this, but anyone who’s spent time with us knows that we make most couples look like Sad Clowns. We generally find each other hilarious, plus we’ve got almost two decades of inside jokes that make regular appearances in our conversations. When we first got married, I couldn’t even fold laundry in a normal amount of time, because he’d keep me paralyzed by laughter with his sock puppet theater. And even in the days leading up to my hospitalization for severe depression last summer, he could still make me laugh. People say that communication, or honesty, or some other thing is the key to a long, healthy marriage. I say, laughter tops them all.

2)   We have almost exactly the same taste in music and TV. Our Venn diagram of tastes is virtually concentric. I cannot overstate how much this makes life better, in a million little ways: radio on car trips, DVR management, where to spend our limited entertainment resources. Millions of little fights are averted. Peace reigns across the land. And for the stuff one likes and the other doesn’t, he goes to sleep later than I do, and I have occasional stretches of insomnia.

3)   We are equally matched for geekiness. It’s not the same geekiness, though we have many happy overlaps. And, like most geeks, we’re genuinely happy for the joy each of us finds in our geek wallows, and impressed at the skills the other displays in those territories.

4)   We really like each others’ families. Much like #2, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it sure does make life better in a lot of little ways, and we never take it for granted how lucky we are that we picked up good people for family by marriage. We hear about people who have to suffer through holidays and vacations and visits for the sake of grandkids, and just shudder and thank our stars. The only thing we’d change if we could is how often we see them. Florida is too far, and the distance to New Zealand is downright intolerable.

5)   We still find each other attractive. This is totally not a given. I can’t fit in my wedding dress, not by a long shot, and he’s neurotic about going white. He doesn’t get that I’m surprisingly enjoying the whole Reed Richards thing he’s got going, and I’m completely freaking mystified by his tolerance for the extra volume of wife he’s acquired over the years. Now, if we could just find the time to do something about it, we’d be golden.

6)   He weathers my crazy with amazing aplomb. And there ought to be a constantly changing meteorological map showing the patterns of freak rising and falling in my brain posted somewhere to give the guy a fighting change. But no. He just rolls with it, and makes the crooked places straight, the rough places smooth.

7)   We are each other’s best advocate. Neither of us has any skill for personal horn-tooting, but we are perfectly excellent at bragging on the other one. In fact, I find it to be great fun to go around and tell people at game conventions how outstanding he is, and why they should be paying attention to every word that drops from his lips. He can be mortified later when I tell him the names of people I talked to; I don’t know them from Adam, but he does, and now they know he’s awesome.

8)   We don’t fight. I’m sure there are therapists out there who would have a field day with this and #7 put together, but there it is: we just don’t fight. Neither of us like conflict, we’d rather put the other one first, and it’s really easy to make the other one happy. I hear some people like the making-up part, but I rather like the not-needing-to part, myself.

9)   We are an awesome parenting team. Heavens know, there’s absolutely no way either of us could survive it solo for very long. We tag in and out of the parenting cage match like we’ve been doing this for a million years — it’s honestly the one thing I think we’re best at. He’s patient when I’m bombastic, he talks things through with them after I have to lay down the hard line, he lets me take the lead on the skills that I feel like I’ve got to offer our kids.

10)   He fixes my messes. I’m a goob about computer things, and I run out of energy at weird times, and there are chores that are hard for me with my non-cooperative body. He saves me, routinely and without complaint, even when I get whiny about it.

11)   He would rather be at home. Guys say, “Oh, I’m such a homebody. I love my family. Blah blah blah,” but if work gives them an excuse to fly out to a different time zone and play games and drink and BS with friends, most of them are really glad to be there. Not Cam. He’s talking about home, thinking about home, wishing he were home. It’s kind of pathetic, really. But when the boys are crying and screaming, “We hate you! We miss Daddy!” and I’m crying and screaming, “I hate you too! I miss Daddy too!” at least we know he wishes he were with us as much as we do.

12)   We’re adventurous together. It’s a function of trust, I guess — we know we’re not out to screw each other over. If I ask him to try some weird new ethnic food, he’ll give it a go. If he thinks I’ll like a book or movie, I’ll try it out, even if I end up throwing it across the room. Sometimes I have to drag him places, and he always sounds so surprised when he has a good time, but he lets me drag him, and that’s the point.

13)   We value the same things: love, friendship, creativity, knowledge, justice, honesty, compassion, kindness, humor, perseverance, hard work, steadfastness. That’s guided almost all the decisions we’ve made together, and it’s how we can be happy together, even though our income isn’t commensurate with the work we put in.

14)   We are living our vows, every single day. You know that “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health” in every wedding service? I didn’t expect that to go into effect quite so literally, quite so immediately for the poor guy. 10 days before our wedding, I got hit by a woman who ran a red light. Nothing major, we thought, but it’s likely that the soft tissue damage from that accident precipitated the fibromyalgia with which I was diagnosed in 1999. So many times, I’ve told him that, if he wanted out because I wasn’t the person he’d signed on with, I couldn’t possibly blame him. But he says he’s in it for the long haul, more fool him. And I’m so very grateful.

15)   We are meant to be. Hang on a sec, I just threw up a little. But seriously, what are the odds? Boy in New Zealand meets girl in Kansas on the Internet through an online roleplaying game that each just happened to hear about through some convoluted channel or other. They fall in love. Just a few years earlier, the whole astronomically unlikely story becomes impossible. Just a few years later, the technology’s so different, who knows how it works out.

I don’t buy lottery tickets, or pray on airplanes, or rush for cover in bad weather. I’ve already had my one in a billion. He put a ring on my finger, 15 years ago today.

And this is just the start.

My Big Fat Geek Wedding

It’s my 15th wedding anniversary this Wednesday, October 5th. And there are many other things I want to write about my amazing partner in the sublime and ridiculous adventure we’ve undertaken together. But before I get to that, it’s worth laying down a little groundwork.

Fortunately, I’ve already done this — rather eloquently, in fact, if I do say so myself. This essay was first published in the August 2010 issue of RPGirl zine, but I thought I’d repost it here as well, for all those who haven’t enjoyed that esteemed publication. This is the astronomically unlikely, stranger-than-fiction story of how Cam and I ended up together. Enjoy!

* * * * *

I met my husband online in 1993. Back then, Internet marriages were still the stuff of The Jerry Springer Show; they were viewed by the general public with about as much trust as prison pen pal marriages. But they were startin to happen more often, and while “We met online” resulted in universal gasps and exclamations of disbelief and lurid curiosity, the real secret behind our marriage wasn’t where we met — it was how. You see, my husband and I met through an online RPG.

Before RPG meant “Rocket Propelled Grenade” to the majority of Americans, it was better known to gamers by a different set — an altogether more contaminated set — of initials: D&D. And if couples formed on the Internet were viewed with the expectation of imminent failure, well, couples formed through the unholy bonds of D&D were viewed as if they’d joined the Heaven’s Gate death-pact cult.

Only gamers really understood that D&D wasn’t the only RPG out there, but even gamers didn’t quite believe that women were in the gaming community to stay. Gamer guys expected women to date at least one of the party, in and out of character; if they weren’t willing, then they could play a guy or bring food. To gamer girls, online RPGs, which were still entirely text-based, represented a chance to play without wondering where a guy’s eyes were during each scene — wondering where his hands were would come later, but could at least be ignored, except for the typos. Though many women still felt they needed to play male characters online to be taken seriously (while many men chose to play female characters, willing to be taken in any way they could), good scene-writing was respected online, and women (not shockingly) wrote women’s parts with remarkable insight. Gamer girls were starving for respect, and provided they could write passably well, they found that respect in the nascent online gaming world.

Most of the women in online RPGs came across the games as part of their experience in the computer world — many of them were already programmers or employed in the Internet industry as technicians or support personnel. As such, I was the odd bird — I was persuaded by my then-boyfriend to create a character on AmberMUSH because I’d enjoyed the novels by Roger Zelazny, on which the game was based. I had absolutely no computer skills beyond a 100 wpm typing speed and good word-processing abililties, established by my busy schedule as a French and journalism double major. Neither of us had a computer of our own, so if I wanted to spend time with him after he began playing, it would have to be at one of the computer labs on campus; and if I wanted not to be bored, then I’d better have a character of my own.

Within a year, I’d established myself both in character — a six-foot warrior woman with a pet lion, shamelessly ripped off from a Mercedes Lackey character I admired — and in the online gaming community, which shared a parallel out-of-character site called TooMUSH, with only the few they deemed decent and “real” enough to call friends. Among the TooMUSH family, I was the newbie. There I met geniuses who coded the first online RPGs based on their love of RL (“real life”) gaming; many are now highly respected faculty, independent consultants, supervisors, and engineers. There I also met gaming devotees who introduced me to systems and worlds that fundamentally changed my idea of play. There I met virtuosos who dazzled me with their writing ability in scenes I’ll never forget; several are now New York Times Bestselling authors [NB: The NYT just recently published an article on AmberMUSH as the successful incubator for so many successful writers, including dearest friends and my own Darling Husband; it’s well worth the read.]

Me, I was just happy to have been entrusted with one of AmberMUSH’s “features,” the characters from the books which were handed out only by application to the board of “wizards” who were combination coders/referees/justices of the peace. I had applied for and won control of one Julia Barnes, a character in the second quartet of books in Zelazny’s series, a UC Berkeley computer engineering designer and up-and-coming sorceress. To her, computer coding was the effort to impose her will over an environment through the skillful application of elegant and efficient orders; sorcery was the same thing, just on a more challenging and satisfying scale. In the books, she meets Merlin, prince of Amber, narrator of the second series  and son of Corwin, prince of Amber and narrator of the first series. He shows her a good time and the secrets of the universe. While not of Amber blood, and therefore not eligible to “walk the Pattern” and gain control over “shadows,” reflections of the infinitely varied images of Amber, the ultimate Order, or Chaos, the ultimate Disorder, Julia gained and maintained control of a “Broken Pattern,” one of the flawed reflections of the original Pattern of Amber.

It was through this in-game prop, and through one of those up-and-coming authors (the guy with his picture in that NYT article. Yes, him.), that I met my husband. He’d started with an “unblooded” character and wanted access to greater powers and, probably more importantly to him, access to better players and better scenes. Since feature characters were screened, there was a greater, though not perfect, chance of higher quality play, and I certainly took my obligations to give access to the powers I controlled — the Broken Pattern and my online availability — very seriously. When my friend recommended this new player to me, I arranged to have my character “bump into” his at the game’s common watering-hole/fight-starter. As our characters hit it off, we started talking behind the scenes, and before long, he’d made a good enough impression on enough of the influential players to merit an invite to TooMUSH.

Our biggest obstacle turned out to be the time difference. You see, I lived in Kansas; he lived in Auckland, New Zealand. A 19-hour gap is decidedly awkward to schedule around. But as my hours in the computer lab had grown exponentially as I acquired more characters to play and more friends to visit with, and he had little care for a minor thing like sleep, we managed to meet in and out of character with surprising frequency. Our online scenes coincided with the mutually simultaneous meltdown of our offline relationships, and we provided each other with sympathy and distraction. One summer evening, he confided to me that he had developed romantic feelings for one of the women he knew online. Understanding yet totally failing to understand, I asked, “Is it Adrienne’s player?” His blunt response still strikes me as if I’d heard it, not read it: “No. It’s you.”

This revelation came only a month before my departure for a year of study abroad in France. I resisted his appeals to try a long-distance relationship, though we began exchanging the kind of care packages essential to an online romance in the ’90s: letters, photographs, graphic novels, and mix-tapes. On the one hand, I felt deeply for him, and my own laptop and a 12-hour time difference greased the skids for communication. On the other hand, the Telecoms of France and New Zealand would end up costing us the equivalent of a family-sized car.

But love won out, and when he flew to the UK to meet me for the first time in person, it was with an engagement ring and a plan. The plan, to propose at midnight on New Year’s Eve at a Scottish castle, was ultimately wrecked; it was finally in flannel pajamas in an Aberdeen B&B where he popped the question. And I insisted on working out the finer points of “where” and “how” before I would even open the ring box. But obviously, I said yes.

“Where” ended up being Lawrence, Kansas, in October 1996; “how” was thanks to my mom and a K-1 visa — and with a surprising number of our Amber/TooMUSH friends in attendance. If I’m not mistaken, we were one of the first AmberMUSH-originating couples to marry, but we certainly weren’t the last. And if we wanted to show our two sons where we met, we’d have to do something unusual: look up an IP address. But first we’d have to explain to them about roleplaying games.