An Anniversary

I know you’re expecting Part VI of “Do You Have a Head I Could Borrow?” Don’t worry; the story will be back Wednesday, but right now, I have something special to tell you.

A year ago today, I woke up in an empty bed. I let Ripley out of her crate, took a shower, and threw on some clothes. I hit up the grocery store and bought a bunch of sub sandwiches, orange juice, and champagne. Then, I said it for the first time to the lady ringing up my order at Safeway: “I’m getting married today!”

While Jake hung at Yardhouse, drinking mimosas with old Navy pals, I drank mimosas at our tiny apartment on Old Litchfield Road, surrounded by makeup artist Stephanie Kain, my mother, my aunt, and a mixture of friends from high school through to my time in Charleston, SC. Susie took a nap in the “office” while I was covered in powder and hair spray.

The veil was the last step. Once Stephanie put all that tulle on my head, it was for real. I was getting married, and soon, within hours. I chugged one last mimosa, and we struggled to get me into my 1996 Toyota Camry without crushing the veil that my mother also wore on her wedding day.

We arrived at WindStar Gardens to a panicked bartender: Where was the booze? Where was the booze? I broke the rules and gave Jake a quick call to ask “Where’s the booze?” Brandon, our liquor guy and DJ for the night, came running soon after with booze. Crisis averted.

Mom and Susie helped me put on my dress and jewelry. I remember I was sweating a little, and in a panic, Susie pulled emergency deodorant out of her SOMOH bag (SOMOH: Sexy Old Maid of Honor). After a quick shoot with photographer Pat Shannahan, I hid in my little bride room. Susie brought me my first Cosmopolitan, and I did my best not to spill anything on my dress. Girlfriends snuck in to visit. I made time to get my dad some Cheez-its (because Dad can’t go a day without Cheez-its).

I wondered what it was like out there, outside my little room. I wondered what Jake was thinking at that moment. Did he need emergency deodorant, too?

Suddenly, Lois, our wedding coordinator, came in with bouquets. I barely remember how beautiful they were, made of white and red roses, wrapped in black velvet ribbon. She said, “It’s time.” Susie gave me a Listerine mint, my handsome daddy took my arm, and we walked toward the door where friends and family awaited my arrival—where my fiancé waited to become my husband.

I know pianist Paul Tipei played “Clair de Lune” upon my entrance, but I don’t remember hearing it. There’s a picture of my dad and me laughing about something, walking down an aisle covered in rose petals, but we don’t remember what. All I do remember is seeing Jake. He looked so handsome, my knees almost buckled. I almost went running to him, because I just had to say it: “Can you believe we’re getting married today?”

The ceremony is a blur, blinded as I was by Jake’s ever-present smile. My brother played a song he wrote for us. The chorus: “I never knew it could be this easy …” And it was so easy, becoming Jake’s wife.

I remember every moment of the reception, through the constant kisses, through the toasts, to the mad dance-off on that warm Phoenix night. Then, there was the rain. As friends and family said their goodbyes, Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” played, and I had to find Jake and dance—dance beneath the rain … “because I’m still in love with you. I wanna see you dance again. Because I’m still in love with you … On this harvest moon …”

I never wanted that song to end, because I never wanted our wedding to be over. And yet, the wedding did end, and something else started: a marriage. The real deal. Love, forever.

It’s been a year since that day. As I type, Jake naps two feet away on our couch. Ripley the dog is shoved up against me, snoring. My little family. It’s quiet. It’s peaceful. I’m not worried about “where’s the booze” or emergency deodorant. With Jake next to me, I don’t worry much at all, because I know he’ll always be here with me, ever since we said “I do.” I will always love him; he will always love me, and this … this is just the beginning.

Happy anniversary, my darling boy! You are God’s greatest gift to me.


Music Will Move You

Every congregant at Christ Presbyterian Church in Goodyear is blessed to have a piano player like Paul Tipei. Jake and I knew this our first Sunday there, directly following the doxology. Paul was born in 1987; he’s from Romania, but he currently attends Arizona State. I’ve asked him to play in our wedding, and this past Sunday, he played a concert at our church, featuring Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 21.

Have you ever heard Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 21? If you haven’t, you should hear it—right now, by heading to YouTube. Go on, head over. You can play it in the background while you read. Granted, these things are always better live, and Paul did a stellar job on Sunday (even better than the YouTube version). But the concert Sunday did so much more than make me pray for Paul’s availability on November 12. It made me remember classical music.

How could I ever forget? ME! I used to listen to Chopin constantly in high school. Some nerds in the science community said it made studying more effective. That’s how it started—I wanted to be better at school. Soon, the random Chopin CD (I think it was his etudes) served as a distraction. I stopped studying, closed my eyes, and listened to the music. Switch gears, right now, and stop listening to Beethoven. Listen to Chopin and my personal favorite, Etude Op. 10, No. 3. I tried taking piano lessons as a child, and I hated them. Yet, I loved the sound of someone else playing piano. I still do—always will—but I’ll get back to that in a moment …

The Rent classic song, "La Vie Boheme."
Also when I was in high school, my crazy Uncle Barney used to take me estate sale shopping all over Toledo. We discovered some wonderful finds, but more importantly, we connected. Barney and I were very much alike, artistically and musically. He introduced me to Giacomo Puccini—Italian composer of Madame Butterfly, La Boheme, and Tosca. Think you’ve never heard his music? When you’re done sobbing over Chopin, listen to O Soave Fanciulla! Not only was this the song obsessed over in 1987’s Moonstruck, but Jonathan Larson used Puccini’s chords in his late-nineties iconic musical, Rent. I literally rock out to this whenever I’m upset. I crank it up, because you can’t be sad when music is so lovely.

Back to piano … I didn’t fall in love with jazz piano until I lived in Charleston, SC. At Charleston Grill, I used to go see this drummer, Quentin Baxter. Quentin was an impeccable jazz drummer. You couldn’t help but stare at the guy, and he often had an entourage of equally talented musicians to surround him—namely, several jazz piano players. (You can hear a sample of the music when you click on the Charleston Grill website.)

Quentin Baxter on drums at Charleston Grill.
I spent many a late evening sipping cocktails and ignoring friends at the Grill. It’s what really good live music does; I go away to my own little place, where only the music can touch me. This is why I still sing the blues. When I sing Billie Holiday, I go to that quiet place, too, and nothing reaches me there—no worry, no stress, and no anxiety. It’s just me and the music.

Have you heard enough music for one day? Do you feel highbrow, with all this classical music, opera, and jazz? Well beautiful music ain’t always classy. An epic song (that I’ve written about before) comes from Band of Horses. It’s called “The Funeral,” and most recently, you saw it in the trailer for Oscar-nominated film, 127 Hours.

My little bro’s music kills me every time, too. He’s writing a song for the wedding, and I know it’s going to break me. Seriously, I can barely hear his music without getting teary. Here he is singing his song “Desert Breeze.” (See, I’m almost crying again. DAMN IT.)

Music doesn’t have to be classical to be respectable. It doesn’t have to be Italian opera to lift you up and carry you away. It doesn’t even have to be live (although it helps). It just has to reach you, where you are, right now, and make you move—inside or out. What have you been listening to lately? What should I know about?