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Entries in wedding (5)


What a Difference a Year Makes

A year ago today was the darkest day of them all for me. For all I cared, it was a good day for a little self-extermination, and on that day, I came closer to that than ever before. Life was miserable. I don't mean to say life was miserable in the way life is miserable in Iraq or Darfur, or even in places where Republicans hold office, but misery is relative. There is not just one brand of misery. Misery for me was mostly an absolutely draining hopelessness. It was an existential crisis for me. I'm one of those casualies of modern American life—really that the soullessness of everything has triumphed over the desire to be part of something bigger. It wasn't that I had no clothes or food, or shelter. No, that wasn't the problem. I felt like I was homeless. Not houseless. Homeless. I felt chronologically homeless, like there was no time that was a good time to be me. It was a big problem (to use a technical term). Dysfunctional families are not new or anything unique now, but there was great pain just in realizing that. I was using my shattered family life in the past and present as a weapon against any future I might have with Kelli. I felt like I came from nowhere, and only had nowhere to return to.

An e-friend of mine is from Louisiana (lives in Texas now), and is proud of being a Cajun. He still does things distinctly Cajun, with people from home. I'm sure there are quite a few other things that get rolled in, but he still has it in him. He knew some history of his people, no doubt passed on from grandparents and so forth. Last year, I was just totally pining for some sort of life that had what I perceived to be rich in that sort of way. He had some roots, and was proud of them, and practiced certain rituals that were part of that world.

Or maybe I thought of how maybe a huge Italian or Greek or Jewish family would have overlapping events that celebrate births, comings-of-age, birthdays and holidays, marriages, and even deaths—in a big way, and with a certain set of customs and ritual that went with it all. I wondered at how that all worked. It was anecdotal to me. It was something I could read about or see in a movie. I was on the outside looking in. My family never had any big celebrations. My family was never big. My mom's side of the family (including five siblings) came closer to that, but I was never raised with them. Over here, my family was never bigger than five people. There were gatherings, but they trickled off as the grandparents were less active, and my stepmom left, and so forth. By the time I was 20, almost all the memorable holidays and birthdays at home were already had. It wasn't that I didn't look forward to events, but they were always small at best, and usually without any particular ritual associated with it. It was always Americanized, which pretty much means, all that interesting stuff was cut out or replaced with off-the-shelf and canned stuff to take its place.

I also had myself worked up on a host of other issues, mostly related to the state of the world being a rather dismal place to live. I can still summon thoughts like these, complete with references, but the utter lack of hope has been sort of washed away from a year of trying to not get so personally wrapped up in this stuff. I still read a lot about the issue of global oil peaking and do think a little too much about it, but instead of using as an excuse to knock myself off, it is a chance to educate myself and mentally brace for things that just won't be the way I know them today.

There were a lot of things wrong, and a lot of it was just leading me to not wanting to move ahead, and I could come up with a million reasons to not go on. I also happened to have just started back to school the day before, and had a wicked case of performance anxiety as to whether I could do that right. And then there was the fact that around that time, Kelli and I were in a holding pattern and I was just too impatient and frazzled to be around. And throw in the fact that my home life left me feeling like shit, not knowing if the roommates were going to leave the place messed up or broken, or if my dad/landord was going to start cutting trees down without my knowledge or approval or building things I didn't want built. I felt like I was superfluous, even in my own house. I was also doing terrible in freelance work (music AND web), finding people were walking all over me. I'd do their work, and they would not pay me. The fact that I packed it in with music also made me feel like a dismal failure, and that the only thing I ever really loved was leaving me now. I felt artistically dead.

Clinical depression sucks.

It has been a year since then, and well, things are different, quite different. Some of that is from good luck, but a lot of it has come from making better decisions and really paying attention to stuff. I dumped two of the three classes I had that first semester back, and absolutely nailed the one class I had left, getting the best grade in my class, and something like 101/103 for all his students in three classes. I used a speech class as an excuse to write about things that mattered to me. The next semester I nailed too, in two classes. Stuff like that is good for the recovering ego. Then there has been a year of counseling, on my own, and a few months later, for Kelli and I in a second weekly meeting, and sometimes a group at the county MH office. My job now keeps me from needing to do freelance work just to get by, and not dealing with flakes is a good thing for my sanity. The work itself is meaningful to me, unlike anything else I've ever done. I don't do much music now, but instead of fighting it and feeling loss, loss, loss, it is something that I've trusted needs to happen, and it's time to do other things. I've also stopped hanging out online at forums which came to hate me. I've pretty much slashed a few people out of my life, and have tightened up with the ones that should be in my life.

And obviously, a year ago, I never thought I would be married. The business of totally diving into the relationship with Kelli has been good. A lot of the fears about the lack of family support have been melting away while with her, and particularly since the counseling has opened both of us up to more of that. We may have known each other for half our lifetimes, but that didn't mean we wouldn't have problems. We did, but we decided the reward was worth the effort. More and more, I just go with the fact that she is my family, and is also the ticket to a future family, another thing I wanted to deny myself last year, just because the past or present sucked. Frankly, I've found it nicer to be a homebody than to worry about flaky musicians or people who get free work. Some of her friends are just a lot nicer to be around, and frankly, I have some time to make up for when I wasn't as supportive as I should have been. But now we are trying to make our home, set up our own little rituals, and even though we both have parents that are distant or dead, we have been made like family at the homes of some long standing church friends. And the wedding was just a great time that was just so supportive and encouraging for both of us. People asked us why we didn't just elope. I think its because we wanted the ceremony, the ritual, and the chance to stand before a lot of people and sort of just bask in the glow of all that stuff that was a visible sign of hope and love. Kelli and I are also trying to do some decidedly old fashioned things that were just missing for us, and from many people's lives, I think. We actually try to sit down to dinner several times a week, and turn the TV and music off, block out as many distractions, and just try to be with each other. Or we have gotten into saying grace more. Not a big speech, but a word of thanks. And we've also had a semi-regular dinner night when we invite some friend or couple over from church, and just sink the roots down a little deeper with them. Or we go for walks or rides, and sometimes drop in on my clients to chat off hours on the weekend.

Its hard to be depressed for long when things like these are getting done.


Back Again

Alright alright already, I am here. I'm back. I suppose you people want me to make a speech or something?

Well, jeeeeezeee. Am I supposed to know what to say at this point? What does one say after this last week I had? I finally married my angel-girl and friend of 14 years. I met her while I was still in high school—that's how long I can recall, but we have been tied to the same church since before we were born. And this last Saturday, she was there, dolled up like I'd never seen and saying she'd hang out with me for the rest of our lives! There is something wildly surreal in thinking like that.

The good news is that I never flinched. I never had cold feet. I guess that is a good thing. But then again, I felt like asking her to marry me over two years ago. I just ended up cooling off and sitting on it for that long. There is no need to get cold feet when you know you are about to do something so right and so true, such as this, with a person who has already become indispensible.

We wrote our own contributions to our ceremony. After the opening remarks, invitation, and so forth, there was a history of our involvement with each other, and with the church. Then when we were addressed individually, and given our charge with the task ahead, we prefaced that with some statements to each other, both written and submitted individually, so that the first we heard of the other's words were as they were being spoken in public. It was cool. These custom parts were taken really well, and some got some riotous laughter (the part about Kelli (14 at the time) not running away when I professed a love for the band Jethro Tull was a sidesplitter—it wasn't love at first site, but it was a good start)!

My mind is just drawing blanks as I try to write this. There is just so much zipping through my mind now.


Wedding "Party"

People ask us why we didn't just choose to elope. We wanted a ceremony and reception. Of course we had to do it on the cheap, so there was no wedding planner, no expensive invitations on designer stationery, no renting exotic venues for ceremony and a separate one for reception, no outrageously expensive live band.

Yep, we'z po' folks here. There was one thing that we thought would be a slam dunk, and that was picking our wedding party. Reasonably, we had hoped for four bridesmaids and four groomsmen. But maybe we got off to a late start so people were not as available as we would have hoped. Kelli has some far flung friends, but most of my picks were local. I made a few calls out to people, some were delighted at the offer but unable, some were able but undelighted, and some were able and actually would do it. But those of course came after all the other rounds.

The biggest issue of late was that there was one dude, about 18 years my senior, whom I had originally asked to have as the entertainment (with his band). But he gave me a slippery "no" that was pretty well sugarcoated. Apparently, musicians look at playing weddings like gay men look at women, or something on that order. I asked again when my OTHER live music option quoted me a price so stupidly out of my range (despite being their slave for years, and offering a lot of my own gear and some labor to make it happen). Still, he said no, and never even gave me a chance to talk terms, presuming I would lowball him to an insulting level. I'm cheap, and everyone knows it, but damn, he didn't even give me a chance.

So then, feeling pretty burned that the elder statesmen among friends of mine would not help out that way, I grunted and grumbled at the idea of having to use a DJ. (DJ's, among us musicians and sound reinforcement types, are a lower form of life, you see. They are in a whole other entertainment industry caste. First off, they pretend to be musicians, and from solid practical experience, they don't know how to run sound systems right.) After a few weeks, I was still looking for a best man (I know, this should have been damned easy), and well, I asked this same guy, who this time said he was honored to get that call. Nice. But a few days later, he calls to tell me he and the wifey have a friend of 30 years that is getting married on the same fuggin' day as I am, and he needs to go to that wedding. He told me he was really sorry.

So I am back to the drawing board again. I finally find the best man and he is willing to give no bullshit. By this time, Kelli had only her maid of honor, and we pretty much decided to go with one person each, at least until about three weeks ago when she got another confirmation. So I go ask the usual couple dudes who got the earlier invites, and one can't make it because his mom was dying back in Florida and he was going away. Bummer. True bummer. So I just told him to show up if he was able, just as a guest. Then I turn to my favorite dude (again) who wrote to say he had time to go to my wedding again since his other plans fell through somehow. Joyous occasion. I guess. After a couple days, I tell him I was still interested in having him in the wedding party and had a new opening to include him as groomsman. And he agreed.

I gave him the details about how to get the tux, and he made the arrangements. Then, about a week and a half ago (about a week after he okayed with me he would do this), I sent out an email to best man and groomsman, with a list of common duties that goes with the position. Some were applicable, and others not, and I wrote in a few specific requests for the rehearsal the day before, and the morning of the wedding (it's being held at 5:30 pm so there is lots of time to prep and hopefully relax a bit). I needed help setting up the church patio, with tables, chairs, and the PA, and to fetch the beer, among other things like that. I gave a timeline for events. A week went by and things seemed fine.

This Sunday, I got an email from this dude and he was telling me he had no time to do 'all this' stuff, and didn't know he was going to be asked to do this, and indeed, he said he didn't know what the position was all about anyway! He said he didn't sign up to have his whole Friday and Saturday co-opted, and he went so far as to say he felt like I was taking advantage of him, what with all the setup work, the stag party coordination and the tux that would make him look nice and matched with the best man and I. Well, I thought, why the hell did he not ask what the job entailed? Then I thought maybe I was stupid or hard headed for me to ask a dude to be a part of things when he already weaseled out of my invitations on two and a half occasions before. I kindly reminded him I was not investing $30k on this event, and therefore had no coordinator, band for hire with soundman, professional photographer with assistant, etc., and that I will be doing work myself on the day, and need some help from the only people in the wedding party who's job it is to help the groom. I also said I needed to have him there for the peace of mind that not ANOTHER person would try to get the rehearal rescheduled to a time more convenient for them (our keyboardist was making this request a week earlier and it bugged us). He bothered to bring up some tired out old issues surrounding my depression and my time spent assisting him on his recording projects, and that was when I started to lose it. That was when we started rolling out the laundry list of these things, back and forth, all of which were not germane to the topic--how to get the wedding done in less than two weeks. He loves to ride me for what he deems is my condescending attitude about music, and how it's useless to me, and I don't need it or like to hang out anymore, etc. I was hoping we could have a new experience between us and that time, and maybe one that would be quite different and would maybe send us to a different place. I told him I had a short list of people I wanted at my wedding and none of my family members wanted to be a part of it, but I gave him three shots at actually being a part of the ceremony because I wanted him there. Not good enough.

His reply began with "Ed, your response put my on edge again." Nice. I see where this is going. He got on his high horse about how I had been virtually useless as a depressed engineer last summer, and that he gave me a lot of this and that to help me feel better about it. Well, my idea was that I would help him do his project, and he might teach me some new music theory, arranging, or whathaveyou, and I was hoping for a sit down lesson. I did get regaled with anecdotes and other little bits, but really, the day was a loss if he didn't get what he wanted, and that was some engineering assistance from me. Then he launched into a tirade at how I always seemed to put a price on everything he asked me to do, or I wouldn't do it at all. Well, fuck me. 2003 was one of the most fucking weak money years I've had since I worked at fucking Subway in 1992! Can you blame me for wanting to get paid for working as a tech? That is how I made my money for most of 1995-2003! I donated my time to him because he seemed enthusiastic about me learning some stuff, and offered to play on my stuff, or otherwise give me a way to improve my musicianship. I got a sandwich and a drink for my trouble on each occasion, and some jollity.

Well, this second email of his sufficiently pissed me off that I went on a tirade of my own, and finally told him that we had no relationship now that we did no recording or music activities together. He lives too far away for chance meetings, we don't play ball together, we don't see movies together, we don't smoke weed together, so really, what is left, once I have let music go and have pretty much written those years off as my own personal dark ages? There is nothing left. I wanted the wedding to be an opportunity to send things in a new direction, as he would see me in a far happier surrounding than ever, and would have a couple days of a totally unique bunch of shared experiences. But no, I would be taking advantage of him, and apparently, as he said, he wouldn't even move tables for the friend that also was getting married, but postponed. I wrapped up my email with my admission we had no surviving relationship once there was no talk about preamps and compressors and mics and stuff. I told him I was done with this. Not just the wedding, everything. A short response from him the next day suggested we talk when I calmed down, but I wrote to say, 'no deal... it's done, we're done. I don't need to explain myself anymore.'

Hell of a way to throw a wedding party, eh? Now I can move onward with my happy life.


Is This Real?

Jeeze—two more weeks and I'm getting married. This isn't like the last time I was engaged (back in November 1994, for about four days). This one is real. In fact, with the exception of some heat-of-the-moment things that got said and retracted within a few hours or days, I have not flinched at this engagement. But an extra ten years or so will do a few things to make change in one's life. I remember the first time I was engaged was in a time when I literally did not know who I was or what I wanted. That is hardly the time to join in on a relationship. The age of 21 is not a good time for relationships, in my experience and observations. On it's own it is just too turbulent a time. For some, it is a crossroads of school, work, relationships, leaving the family, getting "legal," and starting to get some understanding of the world as more than a bunch of literary abstractions.

I remember being timidly excited about being engaged then, but it was something that had chosen me more than I had chosen it. If it had waited some years maybe I would have played on, but there was one night not but a few days before Thanksgiving when I realized I had no business getting into all this, because I was just at the start of my own journey. Earlier in the day, in an effort to find the "real" work my old man had been badgering me to find, I went to an orientation with the INS. Well, they had a tasty pay and benefits package, but I could in no way see myself doing that. I mean, I may as well have been a ditch digger, or an investment banker. Later on in the evening after going to that orientation, I had a long night of soul searching and a lot of sobbing. It was like putting the cart before the horse. All of a sudden, predicated on the notion of getting married (something I had announced to maybe five people), I would find myself looking in all the wrong places for what would only amount to an income, and not anything that I feel I would have done because I wanted to do it. I mean, I was only 21! All of a sudden that night I felt suffocated, and the next morning, I told her I could not go through with it all. It was only a five day old plan, so not much was invested. Lots was lost, I'm sure, but what is the sense in getting into a relationship when things are so iffy over on my end? I feel that I would have been a pretty incomplete person in a serious relationship had I gone on. And I felt that wouldn't be fair to either of us, especially since all this was a still-optional relationship.

No, she didn't like me for that. I suppose I shattered some dreams, and I wish I hadn't done that, but I was trying to be true to myself. I didn't declare that I wanted out of the entire relationship, only that I couldn't get married. I did have a feeling that I had not lived enough, and I suppose the next nine years or so (before I willingly got engaged) did bear that out. We stayed together a little over two years after the engagment was broken off, but were taken for a wild ride sometimes, due in part to the fact that the early twenties is an age that just is not the time to try to have a relationship, and here we were, spaced by about nine months (she was younger), and going through all these changes. It was the blind leading the deaf. We spent the last eight months of our relationship in a breakup mode when the confusion and distrust and all that stuff was prevalent. It was just a bad time to try to be serious about a relationship. We've since become more objective and friendly toward one another, but since early 1997 when it collapsed for the last time, our contact has been pretty limited but generally more civil. So it can happen that lovers can be friends, but it might take a while. I think it took three years and more before we started on ANY path toward picking up the pieces, and possibly another three before we got to a point where we felt it was safe to move on but stay in touch once in a while, sans excess baggage.

A primary difference between this relationship with Kelli and the one above is that the earlier one had no particular history to draw on, or any support system of friends and family to help us out. And help is something we needed desperately sometimes. We were not ready for that relationship at any time, but certainly at a time when I had no particular relationship with my old man but for being the target of his push to get me to get a job. As for her, she had an iffy relationship with her dad too, and while she could have drawn support from her mom, we just sort of shirked from asking, even when things were over our heads. It was naive to think that we could handle things on our own, but when you are at an age when you have to assert yourselves and get away from the tyrrany of parental guidance and all that heroic stuff, you do misguided things.

But, as for Kelli and I now, we feel a lot better about things and have generally been willing to find some support from friends or help in counseling. We've also known each other for a long time, and we've been generally supportive over the years. Kelli was the one who I talked to when my very first relationship caved in back in 1993. There have been other encounters of that sort where we have slowly built our history. By the time we started our current relationship at the start of 2002, we had a running head start by about eleven or twelve years. We knew a relationship outside of our romance so I think that is a key part of things. It was something I knew was important, especially as the previous relationship showed it would be, by the conspicuous ABSENCE of history between us. And, in the couple of additional "imaginary" relationships concurrent with or between all these "real" relationships, there was a conscious effort to build history so that we'd be on the right track when the time would come to be in a "real" relationship. But it was nonsense. In one instance, I spent twelve years building this history for an imaginary relationship (this is not the twelve years of Kelli) that I would never get to have. And there was a shorter version of that with yet another person; I got out of this imaginary relationship after about one year. The thing was, I wanted and needed history in a relationship, because I know the lack of that perspective was an issue in what might have been my committed relationship, yet I found in these two other relationships that this sort of history could just not be manufactured willfully. But there was Kelli, not a part of the failure of the lack of history, but also not someone with whom I tried to consciously build the history/foundation in order to "start" a "real" relationship.

But nonetheless, twelve years did indeed pass when we laid the groundwork for what would be our marriage plans. It just happened. It wasn't contrived or planned. It just turned out that after a dozen years of talking to each other from time to time, hanging out and shooting pool at a pub, doing a poetry/music CD together, or our earlier association from church (which still is our primary familial relationship), or from talking our way through the murder of a lifelong friend of ours, we just found that we had those common goals and beliefs that we needed to go to another level. I never really thought of Kelli as girlfriend material. I thought we were just too different. She was from a very liberal war and nuke protesting background, well educated at serious schools, loaded with conscience and motivation, all that. I was from a family of Republicans, a slacker and musical hack, I had a casual approach to school, favoring the school of hard knocks for about a decade there. We lived very separate lives which I never thought would turn into this. I mean, no, not until we began this relationship did I think we would play these new roles for each other. But when it did become manifest, I just knew it was right. In fact, this time around, I had to actually STALL myself from asking her to marry me—for TWO years! Such was the feeling that I had happened into the best thing I would get from life, at the time when I felt I could partake of it, cherish it, defend it. In fact, after we started up in early 2002, it took about two weeks or less to decide to return to the church after a full decade off. It was just a few months after 9/11, and a month more after our friend Daniel was killed. We had gotten together to make some sense of all this, and from those encounters, I just decided to get back in with a circle of people whom I trusted. Kelli was among them, and I knew that the time had come to sort of go home to all this that I once knew on a number of levels, but never on the gut level I now felt. For me, getting together with Kelli and returning to church was like returning to family—sort of a cheap version of the prodigal son.

So I don't know how things would have gone all those years back when I was first engaged, but based on the various failures and lessons learned in the years between Ms. W. and Kelli, I would suspect I was better off not dragging anyone else through it all. But then again, maybe having someone there would have changed things in ways that might have spared some of those bumps (or as I was told by the feller whom I wrote about in my earlier essay about the dying days of the single life, "marriage is salve for the soul"). I guess I'll never know. But at this time, all that matters is that I am resolutely determined to do this with the level of conviction I now feel I have—one that comes from inside me, and to be a better husband for Kelli than I was even as a boyfriend. It was a long series of events that led me here, and one I don't think will ever repeat itself, so with as clear a mind as I ever had, I go forth on this adventure.


Wedding Plans

In all the patriotic and leftist fervor that has been well documented this last few weeks, I guess I have sort of neglected to say much about what Kelli and I are up to. Our wedding is in just five weeks or so. It is being held at our church, the one my grandmother was a founding member, and one that both of us were born into, and usually have been a part of in one way or another. We have sent out our invitations recently and have been getting some RSVPs and a trickle of financial assistance. We have a few lingering things to plan. We are pretty much doing this on our own dime, with no particularly significant pledges from anyone, including family. So far my dad has been a total party pooper, electing to not support it at all for his own messed up reasons. My mom thinks of me like I am a dead person, so she isn't even going to get invited. Kelli's dad is dead. Ditto her step-dad. Her mom is the only parent left to be supportive in any way, but she doesn't really pack too much of a financial punch. Not that we should expect that to be the case. But all this does pretty much put it on our own shoulders. So we have chosen to go pretty inexpensive, and not go into debt, though there may be a pinch in the coming weeks because we are paying our caterer in cash, but about $800 less than if it were his bill on our credit cards. We have reserved our cake and flowers. We have our rings, and it was sort of a fluke how we chose them. We found them from an independent maker (details on request), and our invitations are homespun; I did the design and we printed them at Costco. Hey, I would love to spend some real money on things, but you know, some things just seemed canned, and expensive for the sake of being expensive. I used to work production for bands at some huge high ticket weddings for rich bastards all over the southwest. I think people do those weddings to impress someone else, but among us in the various crews, we would take bets at how long these high ticket weddings would last. The more money involved, the shorter we gambled. Of course we gambled for the sodas and sandwiches backstage, but nonetheless, we are a cynical bunch.

I need to figure out what the reception music will be. I hate the idea of having a DJ (it comes from being a musician snob), so I have been dabbling with the idea of taking the computer down there with a load of mp3s and running it through a small sound system that I can borrow from Mitch Grant (my primary contact in the sound reinforcement world). Two musician contacts from my earlier life either proclaimed a total disdain for playing weddings or just simply priced themselves out of work. Rockola wanted $2000 for a show that I would have provided total backline for (drums, bass rig, guitar rigs). I say fuck that, I worked hard for those dudes and took a lot of shit. They can do better than that if I am providing gear. The other act was a piano trio that a musician acquaintance runs, but between saying he hated wedding gigs and leading me on to think he'd be my best man, then cancelling a few days later, then returning three weeks later to ask if I still needed help, I just didn't give a shit. He's invited, but after all the tech help I gave for free, I had hoped for at least some sort of back scratch in return.

I need to nail down my tux details and make that order, but I am holding out to see if Kelli is getting another bridesmaid so I know if there will need to be another groomsman. Right now it may only be one of each, for some odd confluence of reasons. Oh well.

We are planning to write some elements of our own ceremony, but the vows themselves are okay as they were given to us. Seeing that our relationship with that church is central to us, there may be some anecdotes included that will add to the usual series of events. Many but not all of the guests will know us from church, but many won't actually have some of this perspective on us, even as much as they might think they have.

We have been going to counseling for eight months or so now, and even though there are those times when we go out of there seemingly no better than we went in, there has been progress. We got engaged in February, a few months after the early days of counseling started to convince me that we could do this. I'm not kidding myself, I don't think this is a ticket to a white picket fence life; I just find that I like Kelli's presence in daily life, as someone to do really mundane things with, like shopping, or reading in the same room, or biking around the bay, or just talking. For me, an only child raised by one parent after the age of nine, and a guy who generally wasn't a big socializer, she is just the piece that helps the puzzle be that much more complete. We both have responsibilities in the church (she is the dir. of Xtian Ed. and I am a trustee, along with being the web designer and audio archivist), and we both work in related fields of senior service, both are frustrated artists in transition, both fond of education for its own sake, and both are well, sort of RADICAL (read the entry called "the Fall" to find out how radical I am, LOL). What can I say? We suit each other and don't have absurd expectations of each other. And she likes Jethro Tull! What could be better? She drives a 12 year old second-hand Saturn and I drive a ten year old second hand Toyota pup that gets washed once a year. We wear torn jeans and faded shirts. She can tolerate my pig thing, and is actually the biggest backer—she got me two cute ceramic pigs two days before we go engaged! Coincidence? Maybe not.