Sunday, September 25, 2005

More on weddings

A few changes since the last post, but still no official engagement (it's coming, I've been told). We've decided to (probably) hold the wedding and reception at a venue at the university where I teach, and it looks like we'll be serving dinner, probably a buffet.

Some of this requires lots of thought. Love is a real thing, and so is commitment. Marriage is an artificial, human creation. Often love and marriage don't go together. In some cultures, as in traditional Japan, a spouse was not one's lover beyond being someone with whom one had children. In India traditionally spouses fall in love after they're married. I would argue that while sex and love are "natural" to some extent, marriage really isn't. It's a cultural way to regulate sex and reproduction and we internalize whatever our culture says is right so it SEEMS real and natural.

Like anywhere else, marriage the way your culture does it is seen as the way it absolutely is done. So I find that I'm going with my culture and against it simultaneously. I want marriage, specifically an isogamous marriage (marriage between equals). I want our marriage to be loving, and warm, and supporting. I want childcare (assuming we have kids) to be divided evenly. I want him to be my partner and my husband and my friend. Not above or below me, but beside me. And not with any predetermined roles based on gender.

A wedding is something else entirely. A wedding is hard for me to understand. It assumes that there is a change in the couple's status from before the wedding to after the wedding. I don't think it can be a change in the way the woman and man regard each other, at least in my case - I am committed to him now and a ceremony certainly won't make me MORE committed. Commitment for me is an on/off switch. I'm committed or I'm not. There's no middle ground. I couldn't be a little bit committed any more than I could be a little bit pregnant.

So then, where is the change in status? It seems to be something external, something that doesn't affect US, but our society's perception of us. If we already feel married, if that Western-style love and commitment is already there, then what does the ceremony do? The best I can tell is that it forces the government to recognize our couplehood legally. I suppose that for some friends and family, it makes them recognize our couplehood in a more...what...official?... way? It gives him access to my medical insurance and we get hospital visitation and inheritance stuff and other rights. It means that we can raise kids together without certain kinds of criticism that this society likes to put on umarried parents. It means we're legally required to do certain things we'd do anyway, I guess.

I guess I'm just having a hard time seeing the ceremony as personal. Here's an odd analogy, but I imagine I had to go register my relationships with my close friends and go through a friends-to-the-end ceremony with them. It would seem strange to me, something like a privacy violation. If it gave us special rights, I'd probably be willing to do it. But it would seem like an artificial ceremony, something fake meant to mark something real as legally and officially genuine.

I love him, and want to be his wife, and it would be great fun to have a party to recognize our couplehood, but I guess I just don't understand what a wedding is supposed to do on a non-legal level. For me, it's a legal ceremony, but seems kind of emotionally redundant.

This new-agey book sort of set me off on this tangent.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Anthropogirl Considers Marriage

Things in my life seem to be headed toward a Rite of Passage, a ritual event, namely a wedding. Mr. History has been hinting and we've been discussing an October 2006 date.

I find things are tricky when it comes to planning a wedding, especially since my anthropological training has led me to see rituals and rites as mostly arbitrary. Societal recognitions of biological changes, or religious transformations. I find that having a wedding is itself a compromise for me. I want to marry Mr. History, but I'd prefer a quick elopement with very little expense or ceremony. If we must participate in the ritual, I want it to be simple, inexpensive, creative and different.

Instead of falling into the debt-inducing role of the traditional bride with a $10,000 or $20,000 budget, a fluffy lace dress, massive catering expenses and a pricey venue, I want to be married on an October night under a nearly-full moon wearing a $100 pantsuit (probably a salwar kameez, which is popular in India and Pakistan and can be custom made), my computer or iPod playing classic songs from the 30s-60s about the moon and stars (Fly Me to the Moon (our song!), Moondance, Moon River, Stardust, etc.) as well as other songs from that era that aren't so obviously connected to the theme. I want a dessert buffet with rich sweets in addition to cake. Perhaps brownies, fudge, cheesecake... I'd like the wedding cake to be unusual too. I'm still thinking, but I like the idea of smallish cakes in the shapes of moons and stars, covered in glittery sprinkles.

Our wedding rings, currently being designed by Mr. History, will feature lunar and Martian meteorites, to keep the theme going. I don't know about a site, but we're considering the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, the lodge at Pigeon Creek Park, or maybe even a tent on our lawn.

But no diamonds, no veil, no fluffy dress. I don't want to deal with any of that. But I want it to be fun and exciting and enjoyable. After all, it will be Mr. History's big day.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Let it Snow

Anthropogirl has a new sport....maybe. That would be cross-country skiing. Here in west Michigan there's usually snow on the ground this time of year, and last weekend Anthropogirl and Space Boy set out to Pigeon Creek Park in West Olive to get some serious exercise. There was snow all over the trees, which was gorgeous, and nice tracks in the snow, making it easy-ish for me to ski without getting off balance. I did, however, fall a couple of times on mild slopes (I'm a wimp!) and now seem to be suffering some back issues from it, but I will persevere. There's also sledding there, which is fun too!

We would probably have gone back this weekend, but we had heavy rains combined with freakishly high temps in the mid-50s a few days ago and most of the snow is gone, gone, gone. Sigh. One of my reasons for doing this is to have a psychological reason to be happy about snow.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Non-Anthropological Medicine Notes

Just some randomness right now since I haven't logged anything since last year. I've got a cold, but not as bad as the one I had last year at this time. I'm learning that my tolerance to pseudo-Nyquil and Dayquil has been reduced. A couple doses make me groggy for at least 14 hours. Fun! Better than Sudafed... Sudafed makes me furious (Dayquil just makes me very testy) and gives me violent dreams. I had one Sudafed dream back in 1992 or so where I visited a village and was made the apprentice executioner. I actually beheaded someone and was praised by the whole village for my natural skills. The next night I dreamed about pushing heavy furniture (dressers, couches, etc.) on little old women. Stopped taking it, pronto. Not sure about the quil twins though. Sometimes I need them to be able to function at all without suffocation....

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Anthropology Days?

Sounds like fun, but really wasn't much. About a hundred years ago, "civilized" people thought that it was really neat to put "savages" on display at public events, like the Olympics or the World's Fair.

What makes this especially weird for me, is that my great grandfather was one of the "showmen" that helped put these things on. He and my great grandmother even traveled around the world with members of a Filipino Igorot tribe, in a very circus-y way. Perhaps I became an anthropologist to make amends on some level...

Monday, October 11, 2004

Restaurants in West Michigan

This is just a random decision after looking at a list of restaurants in Bloomington, Indiana for an upcoming trip. Just thought I'd write a few brief reviews:

1. San Chez - San Chez is my favorite restaurant in Grand Rapids so far. It specializes in Spanish tapas - little hors d'oeuvres that you eat instead of an entrée. If you order two per person, your table will end up stuffed. Usually each small dish has about four servings. Some of the best (in my opinion) are the Atún escabeche (seared tuna - wonderful if you like sashimi with a Spanish twist) and the roasted garlic, which comes to the table boiling in olive oil and can be spread on bread. There are hot and cold dishes, vegetarian and meat-based, sangría and nice desserts. The restaurant has multiple levels and gorgeous mosaic columns.
San Chez a Tapas Bistro
(616) 774-8272
38 Fulton St W
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

2. Mezze - Mezze is sort of the little sister of San Chez. However, it goes a little south of Spain and focuses instead on Moroccan cuisine. They have nice couscous dishes, wonderful stews, and delicious flatbread sandwiches. I haven't been there for the belly dancing, but I'm told it occurs...
38 W Fulton
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Both restaurants can be found here. Yum!

3. Morningstar Café - Morningstar Café doesn't seem to have a website, but it is the place that Grand Havenites go for breakfasty stuff. Wonderful omelettes, eggs benedict, amazing Traverse City cherry pancakes (drool..), stuffed French toast, granola, etc. Cute setting, and always completely packed on the weekends. But completely worth it.
711 Washington
Grand Haven, MI 49417

More later?

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Alternative Scouting

Just came across the following on a West Michigan pagan web site - the Spiralscouts! They're a kind of scouting troop for members of "minority faiths." I think this is kind of cool.