**Note: Read yesterday’s entry first, if you haven’t already!**
I went to a talk today by Elaine Tyler May, on the Cold War legacy of attitudes toward personal security. Fun talk. She fields questions really well. (Delightful baked Brie with walnuts and brown sugar, and crackers, afterward, too. And mini-toasts and tapenade.) It has taken me so long to be able to engage in these talks intellectually–as Historian Me instead of just Me–that I’d like to be able to write something here about what my intellectual self got out of this talk, but I’m deluged with work from now till the end of quarter, so I’m freaking out constantly about all the stuff I have to get done in just a few weeks. In fact, this morning as I was walking out to my car, I even considered going on a short hiatus from journaling. But I’m not going to do that, because I know Patrick would never let me hear the end of it, and after what he did for me today–see below–he gets regular updates as often as I can manage! But no, it’s also because today made me realize that there’s going to be a lot I’m going to need to spout about in the upcoming days and weeks and months!
In today’s lecture, Elaine Tyler May described America’s obsession with bomb shelters in the 1950s, and how paranoid people were about protecting themselves from nuclear attack. But forget nuclear fallout; what’s starting to make me nervous is Engagement Announcement Fallout, and I don’t think it’s going away soon.
Dictionary.com (I’m on campus and don’t have access to my trusty American Heritage) defines fallout thus:
The slow descent of minute particles of debris in the atmosphere following an explosion.
My explosion began with my journal entry yesterday, in which I mentioned ever-so-briefly that I’d received a certain piece of jewelry from Erik over the weekend. Patrick picked up on this and actually brought champagne and sparkling cider to class today, announced the news to everyone (embarrassing me totally), and, after break, initiated a toast. That was so, so sweet. All day since I came to campus at eleven thirty, I’ve been overwhelmed by my classmates’ affectionate congratulations and their enthusiasm. Sure, we’re grad students, and we need something non-academic to talk about, but I guess Erik’s and my hopes for a low-key nonwedding are pretty much dashed. Hey–don’t get your hopes up. I still don’t want a wedding. But already I can see how people get sucked into the whole wedding thing and how weddings get to be such a big deal: everyone around you is making your plans for you before you even have a chance to think! Maybe I should build myself a wedding shelter in the backyard and Erik and I can just go live in that until this all blows over. (Those of you who were at the talk today know the jokes that can be made about this!) But what can I say? I’m so amazed and thankful to know so many loving people who are so excited about this. I’m completely embarrassed and self-conscious, but part of me is going to try to just go with the flow of everyone else’s happy-bubble-ing and just see what happens.
But yeah… there’s going to be fallout for a while, and that kind of freaks me out.
Okay, I thought about this a little more on the way home. I think what’s going on here is I’m fine with marriage; I’m ready to be married and happy about the prospect. But I am not ready for a wedding. I do not want one, or any of the rigmarole that goes with one (bachelorette party, etc.), and the very idea makes me want to run screaming in the opposite direction. I’m not morally opposed to weddings, I just don’t think having one is right for us now. Why is that? I don’t know. But what seems to be happening is the more people I tell about this, the more I feel myself pushed in the direction of a wedding or some sort of even remotely wedding-ish event. I’m finding myself having to confront all these weird personal psychoses, like my control-freak-ness, my overweening need for originality, etc. All that is stuff I don’t want to have to deal with right now, so, as I said, marriage good, wedding bad. For now. I don’t know. It’s all very overwhelming, and somehow I didn’t think it would be.
[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]
ooh, american heritage
mr stephan would be so proud :] hee hee
the ring is awesome 😀
as to the wedding bit, i wanna say something, but i can’t seem to properly put it into words, so lemme figure it out first :}
and congrats 😀
Re: ooh, american heritage
Yes, I’m sure he would be delighted to know I still use it. It’s always on my desk.
Thank you! 😀
(this might seem stupid because i am only used to thinking critically about history books. regular life stuff is a bit of a challenge)
i totally agree with your anti-wedding stance. i can understand not wanting to have the celebration/party thing upstage the more real love/partnership thing. but i think there are two reasons why we are so excited for you (and for people like you)…
1) it is a the time when we are allowed to demonstrate our love of you. it is more socially acceptable to praise you/get excited, ect. when there is a big moment like this than it would be to just get excited for you on any random day. maybe this is wrong but that seems to be how the culture works.
2) weddings and (happy) couples in general reaffirm the concept of love for those of us for whom it seems a remote idea and possibility. if it wasnt for you guys there’d be no hope!
ok, im going to go drink some wine now.
Re: wedding fallout
Aw, what a nice comment. 🙂 I love you too. 🙂
I agree with you on the social unacceptability of showing love randomly. That’s part of why I bring something to munch on to class every week, though you probably guessed that already. That’s also why I sign my emails “love” most of the time. It’s totally ridiculous that we don’t all declare our love for other people all the time; goodness knows most of us could use that little boost of sunshine a lot more regularly than we get it. Personally I don’t think we exist in this world for any reason other than sharing and creating love as generously and universally as possible, so I do my best whenever I can. Anyone who thinks that makes me a silly idealistic hippie has never tasted my baking. (Kidding. Sort of. But I know there are plenty of people out there who would disagree with me on this.)
It’s nice that you think weddings reaffirm the concept of love, because sometimes I feel the opposite. I think about weddings and they just make me think of waste: with so many marriages ending in divorce, is it even possible to go to a wedding without wondering if this couple’s going to split within a few years? Naturally, I don’t think this applies to Erik and me. But two quarters ago in Valerie’s food seminar, we analyzed the wedding program of one of the history profs, and it was really romantic and lovey-dovey and “together forever”-ish. It was overwhelming and sappy, really, but I’m sure it was incredibly romantic for the people involved. Then Valerie told us that the couple was no longer together. I hear about stuff like that and it really makes me question whether true love really exists for most people, or whether it’s just a temporary mental state. Having experienced it myself, and experiencing it still currently and constantly, I know how very real and wonderful it is, but it’s just hard for me to get really excited about the time and expense put toward weddings when statistically most of the couples just aren’t going to stay together. It’s depressing to think about.
But I’m glad Erik’s and my engagement seems to make people happy. 🙂 I do realize people are happy for us because they think we love each other enough to endure, and since that’s what I think too, it’s all good. Yay love!
As for your comment about thinking critically about regular life–that’s why I have a journal! We should think critically about life. 🙂
Re: wedding fallout
Oh, and yes, I do realize that marriages don’t split up necessarily because the people don’t love each other anymore, that it takes more than just love to sustain any relationship.
[…] more than anything, I really wished people would just stop making such a big deal of it. As I wrote at the time, I was bewildered and more than a bit upset at how people were taking our engagement. One […]