One last hurrah

There’s a great little art supply store (GLASS, from now on) near our house
that we
just
learned is going out of business. There’s also a nearby Mega-mART, but it’s
just not the same. GLASS is within walking distance of home, whereas Mega-mART
is a
ten-minute drive. Both have a wide variety of supplies, though Mega-mART has
more furniture. GLASS’s prices are notably lower than Mega-mART’s. GLASS employs
people
who know art supplies and understand artists’ needs—exactly the opposite of
the workers one encounters at Mega-mART. GLASS is always a joy to visit—also
the exact
opposite of Mega-mART. And yet GLASS is the one that can’t stay afloat. The
world is just
not fair.

Anyway, we made one last art supply run earlier this evening. Some women love
to shop for dresses, some for shoes, and some for makeup, jewelry, or handbags.
My
Happy
wife loves shopping for art supplies, so we decided (it was actually my idea)
to have one last big spree at the store. We went pretty wild buying inks, cutting
and carving tools, specialty papers, and some other stuff, and the cashier
ended up giving us the employee discount since we had been part of the small
base of loyal customers, so the final bill was actually not that bad.

Few things
in this world warm my heart as much as seeing a smile on my beloved’s face,
and she smiled a lot tonight.

Reminiscence No. 6

People who find this site via a search engine usually read one archived post,
then never return. People who find this site via a
link from another site
sometimes
return for regular reading, but rarely see any of the archived posts. About
every six weeks, I pull out some of my favorite posts from the archives and
bring them to the attention of regular readers. It’s my own private Carnival
of the Vanities.

If you like these, and if you have the time, check out Reminiscences one,
two, three, four, and five.

Chicken soup for the blogger

Inspired by Jack Heald’s advice
to his teenage son
, I jotted down some of the things I’ve learned in life—things
I would tell my teenage son if I had one.
These are based on experience, not revelation, so they may change in
the
future.
Feel free to leave your own cheesy one-liners in the comments.

work
If a thing is not worth doing well, it’s not worth doing.

pain
Hardships do not build character. Your response to them is your
character.

God
God is not an idea. He is your Creator, and His existence does not depend on
your belief.

faith
Hold on to what you know, not what you feel.

women
A belief that you have women figured out is the surest sign that you don’t.

friends
It’s harder to have one close friend than 20 casual friends, and therefore
better.

dating
Some women are drawn to jerks. You will save yourself a lot of grief by not pursuing
those women.

family
You are the leader of your family, not the boss. Be the kind of man they
want to follow.

marriage
Figure out what makes your wife feel loved, then do it. A lot.

sex
If sex is not a glorious mystery to you, you don’t understand it at all.

blogging
Not all your posts will be insightful. Some will be downright lame.

Falling in love

Last week, IreneQ began a thought-provoking
post
with the statement, "I don’t believe in falling in love. I never have."
I assume that she means she disagrees with building a relationship on the phenomenon,
and on that I quite agree. She goes on to say:

I’ve seen it happen to other people. You spend lots of time with each other,
exchange stories, share deep thoughts, create memories, and if you’re unwary,
an emotional attachment begins to form. Before you know it, you’re in love.
For that reason I’ve always been very careful in all my interactions with people
of the opposite sex.…I want to choose the person I fall in love with.

In the comments on Saturday’s
post
, MCF asked:

Curt, do you agree with Irene about choosing? You and Mrs. Happy had a friendship
that led to clicking and something more, but if you were of different faiths
do you think you would have had the strength to do what she suggests, and
be stronger than "chemical impulses"?

My ninth-grade algebra teacher told me more than once, "Don’t ever go out
on a date with anyone you would never marry. If you go out on a date, you might
fall in love. And if you fall in love but can never get married, your troubles
are only beginning." Sunday school teachers and church youth leaders reinforced
that idea for me in many ways, so I knew that perhaps I could be friends with
girls who didn’t share my Christian faith, advocated the practice of
sex before marriage, commonly used double negatives in their speech, etc.,
but
that I
should never date them and put myself in danger of developing romantic feelings
for them. To do so would cause preventable heartbreak or soul-killing compromise,
both of which I can live quite happily without.

My first experience with "falling
in love" happened
in my sophomore year of high
school.
It took me
by surprise, because it happened immediately rather than gradually. Something
in this girl just made me want to be with her from the moment I met her. It
was exciting, tortuous, blissful, depressing, fun, and nauseating all at once.
I would have loved to go out with her, to be a couple and all that, except
that she adhered to what I consider a heretical religion.
I tried valiantly to demonstrate to her the error of her ways and the correctness
of mine, but it never really worked. I’m sure I went about things the wrong
way in that area. I was a frightfully immature, hormone-addled teenage boy,
after all.

Anyway, we both played clarinet in the school
band and we shared the same group of friends
(who took
a perverse
pleasure
in telling
me
my feelings
regarding
her were entirely
requited), so I had to endure close proximity to the object of my desire
for three full years.
It
was excruciating, but
it would
have
been
worse if
I had ever given in and spent some one-on-one time with her. As it happened,
though, I emerged from the experience with my soul and my chastity intact.

My relationship with Mrs. Happy developed
in an opposite fashion. Neither one of us felt any attraction at all to begin
with. I got to know her a little bit at church, then began eating lunch with
her in between classes at college. We were both glad just for the company.
As we spent more time together, we got to know each other more. We shared things
about ourselves and confided in each other. We became best friends. Then we
started feeling a physical attraction. After three years, we figured out that
we were really in love. There was no blinding flash or ecstatic moment in which
we suddenly understood the mysteries of the universe. There was no sweeping
anyone’s feet out from under them. There was just a steady build-up of mutual
discovery and experience that to this day hasn’t abated. I should note that
if our faiths had been incompatible, the lunches wouldn’t have happened. I
would not have asked, and she certainly wouldn’t have suggested.

At various times in my life, I have chosen not to allow the possibility of
falling
in
love with
various
women.
It happened
once
when
I
couldn’t prevent
it, but for the most part I "kept my head and guarded my heart," as Irene put
it. Conversely, I have allowed the possibility with several women, but I fell
in love with just one. There is definitely a unique chemistry between my wife
and me. I certainly didn’t choose to
fall in love with this wonderful woman I now share my life with, nor did she
choose
to fall
in love
with me,
but we did allow ourselves to open up a little. The result, as you can probably
guess, is a deeper love than I would have thought possible.

Marriage links for the week

Jack Heald at Boar’s Head Tavern has some excellent advice
for young men
.
(Link via King of Fools and Jollyblogger.)

IreneQ says she doesn’t believe in falling
in love
. Her description of how love can "sneak up on you" is actually pretty
close
to how it happened with Mrs. Happy and me.

Ben writes about how "a vital part of trauma recovery (from an affair) is
telling
the story
of what happened
."

"There’s something of the rascal in a man who would mark his 16th wedding
anniversary by standing up at the Tipton Community Church to tell parishioners
that he and
his wife just celebrated more
than 100 years of marriage
on September 11."

A UK couple married 65 years admits to "having
a good row
" now and then. I’m
always a little skeptical of couples who say they never argue. These two have
some good advice, though: "Don’t ever be jealous of each other.
You’ve got to respect one another. We’ve never stopped each other doing anything."

If you’ve been following Scott and Lori’s engagement like I have, you’ll be
pleased to know that they’re now happily married. Scott’s thoughts on the honeymoon
(the thoughts he’s willing to publish) include such statements as, "If you
like money, don’t
go to LA
." Too true. I hope they don’t plan on spending any time in New
York.

His and Hers XXVI

His and Hers is a weekly discussion of a question or topic relating
to marriage. On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the week’s
topic. I invite others to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in
celebrating marriage. This week’s question follows the meme of finding sentence
5 on page 23 in the nearest book to you. This resonates with us because our
wedding anniversary is 5/23 (May 23). The question is:

What is the fifth sentence on the 23d page of your
favorite book from childhood?

Mrs. Happy’s response

from Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls:

By the little wrinkles that bunched up on her forehead, I could tell that
Mama wasn’t satisfied.

Curt’s response

from A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle:

"Sandy and I’ll sock anybody who picks on him, but that’s about all we can
do."

 

Age-appropriate joy

I have mixed feelings about growing up. I miss not being responsible
for myself, but I cherish making my own independent way. I miss having few
responsibilities beyond school, but I’m grateful that my job now ends at five
o’clock, and no
homework to be had. I miss the freedom I used to have to just play all day,
but now I have a wife and all the associated benefits.
There was a time when I didn’t know pain, but pain deepens one’s appreciation
of life.

I just saw the recent live-action feature film Peter Pan. I also
read the book, which begins this way:

All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up,
and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was
playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her
mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling
put her hand to her heart and cried, "Oh, why can’t you remain like this
forever!" This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth
Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two
is the beginning of the end.

I don’t think I realized I had to grow up until somewhere around the age of
20. By that time I had lost many of the joys of childhood while holding onto
its pains. It took me several years to let go of those pains and embrace the
joys of adulthood.

It’s not easy growing up in a culture that frowns upon it.
Even people in their 30s and 40s try to dress and act like children, forbid
anyone to call them sir or ma’am, and speak as if grammar
didn’t matter one bit. They don’t understand, as I didn’t, that childhood
is only part of life, and not even the best part. They think that by holding
onto
the happiness they knew as children they can stay forever young. They must
know it’s a lie. Happiness is fleeting and must be experienced in the moment.
You can remember it, but you can’t hold onto it. Pain, however, can last
a long time. It can last as long as you want to keep it. That’s why it takes
so much work being a 35-year-old child—you have to constantly recreate an
unnatural happiness while holding onto several decades of pain. It’s impossible
to grow that way. Peter Pan, facing death, says, "To die will be an awfully
big adventure." In the Pan story popularized by Stephen Spielberg, Captain
Hook responds, "Death is the only adventure you have left."

I’m pleased to say that I’ve let go of much of my pain, though letting go
of all of it is a constant struggle. I have learned from it, grown from it,
been shaped by it, and discarded it with flourishes of forgiveness and acceptance.
Now I’m experiencing the joys of adulthood, and what joys they are. Had I remained
a child, I would not know the unspeakable feeling I get when I recognize the
eternal humanity and the hand of divinity in my wife. I would never know the
surpassing love I will feel for my own child, some time in the future. There’s
a lot of adventure left for me, and I won’t waste the opportunities by refusing
to grow.

Still, I sometimes want to be seven years old again, chasing june bugs
and grasshoppers in my back yard. But only for a day. Or maybe two.

"The dear old days when I could fly!"
"Why can’t you fly now, mother?"
"Because I am grown up, dearest. When people grow up they forget the way."
"Why do they forget the way?"
"Because they are no longer gay and innocent and heartless. It is only the
gay and innocent and heartless who can fly."

 

Comings and goings

There’s good news, and there’s bad news. First, the bad news.

The Rev. Donald Sensing of One Hand
Clapping
has decided to take a six-week
hiatus from blogging, after which time he will re-evaluate whether he will
continue
blogging at all. This is a huge loss (for at least six weeks, and I fear probably
more) to the blogosphere as a whole and to me personally. He is one of the
few independent bloggers with any training and/or experience in journalism,
so he understands how the media works. He is a former Army major with nearly
20 years of service, so he understands military matters in a way few people
do. A large part of his service took place in the Pentagon, so he has a perspective
on national politics that not many can claim. He is also a full-time pastor
in a United Methodist church, and he looks at everything from a Godly point
of view as much as possible, and his writings on theology and spiritual matters
carry with them a certain authority and credibility lacking in some other sites.
Without his site to read every day, I’ll have to read Instapundit, Jollyblogger,
Dean Esmay, King
of Fools
, and a military blog I haven’t
chosen yet (suggestions?) just to be informationally satisfied in the manner
to which I have become accustomed. I guess he’s the Total cereal of the blogoshpere.

Some bloggers have what they call a blogdad or blogmom.
A blogparent is one who helps you get started in blogging and encourages you
in the early part of the process, offering advice on becoming known and providing
endorsements at critical times. I don’t have one of those. I started on my
own without any help and didn’t tell a soul about The Happy Husband until
a month after I started writing. But I didn’t start just out of the blue. You’ll
notice that the top category of links in the left-hand column of this page
is labeled Blog Role Models. Donald Sensing is at the top
of the list. I will never be him, or even similar to him since I have consciously
limited the subject matter here on this site, but he shows everyone how well
a blog can be written and how potentially influential one person on the Web
can be. Two of my role models now (Martin
Roth
is the other) have taken a break from blogging, probably never to
return. (Once you start blogging, you can’t stop. But once you stop, it’s nearly
impossible to start again.) I only hope I can live up to a little of what I’ve
seen on their sites.

Since I have no blogparent, I’m sort of an orphan, though I might refer to
my three role models as bigblogbrothers since they have all inspired me in
one way or another. I hope Dean
Peters
doesn’t quit any time soon, or else
I’ll
be an only child in addition to being an orphan.

Now, the good news.

I mentioned that I didn’t start this blog out of the blue. The seed of the
idea actually came from my friend Jerry Novick. He suggested that I pitch a
weekly column to the local newspaper, a column in which I would write positive
things about marriage. My college degree is in journalism, and I didn’t particularly
want to have anything to do with newspapers ever again. However, I discovered
blogging right around the same time that Jerry made the suggestion, and thus
was born The
Happy Husband
. Well, now Jerry
has started his own blog called TheWriteJerry.
He’s barely been at it a week, but it looks promising. He’s a professional
writer who has written stories for such notable franchises as Superman and
The Hardy Boys, and also some semi-independent publications such as Samson,
Judge of Israel. He is also part of a group I affectionately refer to as "my
geek friends" (the others being Rey and
MCF, who is still contemplating starting a blog), and I can’t wait to see what
shape his blog takes in the future. (Oh, and he wrote some very
nice things about me
the other day.)

In a bizarre coincidence, the very day that I helped Jerry get his blog started,
I got an e-mail from my friend Amy (who went to high school with Mrs. Happy)
asking how to set up a blog herself. My advice to her consisted mainly of "try
Blogger," and shortly thereafter Amy’s
World of Random Thoughts
made its debut. Amy is a total media geek and
elementary school teacher in Texas, a combination that should make for quite
a few interesting posts.

So I’ve sort of helped two people get started in blogging, and now I’m encouraging
them in the early part of the process, as well as offering advice when asked
and providing
endorsements. Should I be passing out cigars? Maybe not, but I couldn’t be more
pleased at their arrivals.

A girl’s best friend

Each one looked very much like the other (except for the color, of course)
and some even looked more like each other than they did like themselves. The
bewildering array of diamonds I sorted through while looking for an engagement
ring made my head spin. People in the stores threw around technical terms like
cut, clarity, yellowness,
brilliance, carat weight, and more that I have forgotten. I saw diamonds of
different shapes and sizes—with the naked eye, with that little thing that
jewelers look through, and even with microscopes—but they all looked pretty
much
the same to me. I, personally, don’t fully understand
why diamonds are so important, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life
it’s that reality will never conform to my understanding of it, so I picked
out a diamond and had it mounted on a ring that I could place on my beloved’s
finger when I proposed.

I didn’t do it alone, of course. My sister shopped with me nearly every step
of the way. My mother weighed in with her knowledge of jewelry. I consulted
with a certified diamondologist (that may not be the right word for what he
was—he did have a certificate, though). I was pleased with it, but even now
I can’t tell the difference between a diamond and well cut glass.

I guess the coolness and the symbolism of the diamond is two-fold. First,
it really is beautiful. In and of itself, it invites
attention without demanding it. When worn as jewelry, it augments its wearer’s
beauty rather than detracting from it or even unnaturally adding to it. Second,
it lasts forever if properly cared
for. Is there a better symbol of marriage that can fit on a finger?


NOTE: I had no idea what to write about today, so I randomly picked a book off of the bookshelf (The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster), opened it to page 23,
typed the fifth sentence on the page, used it as the first sentence of my post,
and
continued writing with my own words. I hope I didn’t ramble too much.

Marriage links for the week

Ben of Marriages Restored brags
about
his daughter
in college
and thinks back to when she was nine years old and dealing with the stress
of home life as her parents struggled to save their marriage.

If everything has gone according to plan, Scott and Lori were married today.
I remember that the week leading up to my wedding was hectic and surreal, as
was the day of the wedding, and even the honeymoon to an extent. So far, it’s
pretty much the same for them:

  • Scott arrives from Scotland, and Lori is so excited she enjoys ironing
    his shirts
    .
  • In an intriguingly
    titled post
    , Lori reports that she had a lingerie shower
    and that "Scott got a lot of cool stuff." Priceless.
  • Scott explains that his bride to be and his new mandolin are making
    him "the happiest
    person in the world
    ."
  • On September 16, two days before the wedding, Scott claims he’s "had
    enough of wedding talk
    ." It should be over by now. I wish them all the best and look
    forward to seeing what they have to say about their new marriage.

Katy of fallible.com grabs a moment
of peace
to remember her wedding day.

A columnist on MSN offers ten
tips for being a better husband
. Link via Marriages
Restored
.

It has been reported that earlier this week, Jonathan Klein, former 60
Minutes
honcho, derided bloggers as "a guy sitting in his living room
in his pajamas writing." He
was spluttering about how the blogoshpere immediately and handily dismantled
Dan Rather’s claim to have documents damning President
Bush, calling into question the intelligence, competence, and/or relevance
CBS News specifically and all of mainstream media in general. Since I don’t
really blog about politics, I have
nothing
to say on the issue except
that
I blog
in my
attic
fully clothed,
only
without shoes and socks.