Monthly Archives: January 2008

A modest proposal

IMG_7002.JPGI apologize for the brevity of my post on Sunday, considering what big news it was I was posting about, but I was busy this weekend spending some time with Vivian on the one-year anniversary of us “officially” becoming a couple.

Friday night, we went out to Sakura Bana for sushi with Jenny, Hugh, and Sarah. It was the same restaurant where we’d dined a year ago before Vivian let me have it on the way to JNO, so it was a great little reunion. We both got to try out the sushi deluxe, which had such delicacies as salmon and smelt eggs wrapped in seaweed, along with the traditional pieces of raw fish on rice, maki rolls, and the delicate blend of pungent, green-tinted horseradish and ginger petals.

IMG_7015.JPGWe arrived at JNO a bit late because we were, absolutely not kidding, talking in my car, reminiscing about the last year (and NOT MAKING OUT). Nobody believed us, of course. I drove Viv home to get to bed a little early, and then I went to join our other friends from JNO at Village Inn. They were busy eating breakfast at one in the morning and making fun of the Peter Pan doll Merinda won from the crane game. Seriously, it is truly frightening.

Saturday was our big one-year anniversary. We started off the day with Vivian making me a delicious breakfast around eight o’clock. A little later, I took her down to Just Dance for a surprise anniversary present: a private waltz lesson. Vivian’s been eager to try some “pretty” ballroom dancing, so we went through the basics of a box-step and a simple turn within the space of an hour.

DSCF0366.JPGWe got some exercise afterwards walking down a bike path in Ralston. I stumbled upon an old tree house and just had to climb on up and see if I could reach the top. The crawl space to the top platform was just a wee bit small for me, so I had to stop there, but it was fun to feel like a kid again. I used to explore the woods and find tree houses like these when I was a kid back in Michigan.

That evening, we went down to Lo Sole Mio, a lovely Italian restaurant on 32nd street that was an accidental find of mine back when I had my very first date ever a couple years ago. The food there is excellent, though getting in at dinner took over an hour-long wait, and they don’t take reservations. It was well worth it, though.

Of course, by now all of our family and friends also know the magical moment finally happened Sunday afternoon. Vivian and I went to church together at Core Community, which was a very friendly place, and then we stopped back at her place to have some leftovers for lunch. I told Vivian that I had some “work to do,” and then I drove down to Bellevue to have lunch with her parents and ask their permission to pop the question. Viv’s dad asked for “three camels” as a dowry.

IMG_7047.JPGI returned to Vivian’s place and got her to come with me to the Eagle’s Lodge under the auspices that I had somehow lost my little USB thumb drive at the dance hall where we first met. I had arranged for the upper ballroom to be all ours on Sunday so I could pop the question. When I took her there and revealed that I hadn’t lost my USB drive after all, I instead brought out a couple portable speakers and an iPod. We danced there together, alone, as the setting afternoon sun gleamed through the open windows. I had cued up a playlist with some of our favorite songs: Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers, (I’ve had) The Time of Ours Lives from the movie Dirty Dancing, and Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off with Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. The fourth song was the theme from Ghost, which is one of Vivian’s favorite movies. I had chosen this quiet tune to pop the question. I guided Viv over to the spot on the floor where I first asked her to dance, and then, on a shaking, bent knee, I asked her to be my wife. For a moment, she had the look of someone about to be hit by a runaway freight train, but then she answered, “Yes!” with the connotation as if she had said, “DUH!” That was all I needed to hear as I slipped the ring on her finger.

We returned to my car so we could start telling all of our friends the happy news via cell phone, Facebook, e-mail, and every other medium possible. It was a moment I’d both been dreaming about my entire life, and it finally happened. After a whole year with this wonderful, beautiful woman, we had finally made it “officially” official. We were in for keeps, and we were going to spend the rest of our lives together.

I can’t wait. The best is truly yet to come.

Wild West Birthday Weekend

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It was another busy weekend in Omaha. On Friday night, a bunch of us gathered at the California Pizza Kitchen out on Pacific to stuff ourselves with specialty pizzas, piña coladas, and creamy desserts before going dancing. Tamra gave Eric an up-close-and-personal look at her key lime pie. JNO this week was held in the basement of St. John’s church at Creighton University, and Hugh got to have his birthday dance with several of the lovely ladies attending.

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On Saturday night, the real party began. Vivian and I went shopping for some cowboy duds so we could arrive in style. I got a novelty arrow-through-the-head ornament that proved to be quite painful if left on for more than a few second. We also brought some cap guns that didn’t seem to help Eric much with his migraine. Jenny and Sarah came as saloon girls, and got to have their pictures taken a couple thousand times showing off their gams and wads of play money stashed in very creative places.

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In keeping with the Wild West theme, we broke out with the cards and play money and started a couple games of Blackjack and Texas Hold ’em to see who could wind up with the most money by the end of the night. I managed to hang onto my original $20, while Vivian cleaned up with a couple straights. Not bad for a beginner. I’ll be sure to hang onto my wallet if we ever play with her for real money.

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Cowboy grub was more than abundant all through the night. We had chili and baked potatoes with toppings, and plenty of chips with salsa. Hami braved the near zero degrees outside of grill up some delicious tender lamb, and Jenny baked up a couple nice birthday cakes for Hugh and Lisa (a cream cheese mocha cake and a raspberry creme cake, respectively).

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We stayed nearly a full hour after the official party closing time of one o’clock playing all sorts of other non-gambling games with one another. I got to try Twister for the first time, which seemed to be a battle of endurance to see how long you could support your full body weight on one hand. Jessie easily won every game until Eric found a way to throw her off the mat with a shift of his torso on a right-foot-green call.

We also broke out the Cranium for an after-midnight challenge of trying to follow directions with half your brain asleep. I used the funky-smelling clay to keep myself stimulated while failing to recognize “Born in the USA” and trying to draw blimps with my eyes closed.

Good times were had by all. Yee-haw!

Record JNO and Painting a Plate

After what can only be described as a challenging week at work, it was absolutely wonderful to drive on up to Omaha for a fun-filled night at JNO once again. Viv, Eric, Dan, and I went off to Jazz near the Old Market to grab some dinner before heading up to the Eagle’s Lodge for a record-setting crowd at Jitterbugs’ Night Out.

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There were 190 people in attendance tonight, which was a great turnout considering we had no live band, no special promotions, no special anything to set tonight aside from any other swing night. Dan and David got set right away scaring off the newcomers by doing the Lindy Hop together to a song that could only have been meant for Balboa. “This tempo will kill us!” Dan said. “Oh what the hell, let’s do it.”

It was also time for Sarah Meade’s birthday jam (and Josie’s too) which meant lots of pictures from every angle as the two of them took to the dance floor.

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Saturday was an especially fun day for Vivian and me, as we both went down to Lincoln to make a plate together at Paint Yourself Silly in the Haymarket. We’d talked about doing this for quite a while, and we wound up spending six hours working on the little thing. We spent at least two or three hours just painting in the text, which needed three coats to sit properly, but it turned out very nice. I can’t wait to see it fired and all colorful when it’s done.

Afterwards, I took Vivian down to the Starlight lounge and bought her a chocolate truffle martini to celebrate the occasion. I also had my first single malt scotch, a Glenlivet (solely due to its prominence in the novel Magic Kingdom for Sale: Sold) that was pungent enough to set Vivian up on her head when she let one drop touch her tongue.

Drawing and dancing in the Twin Cities

This weekend, Vivian and I took a road trip up to the Twin Cities to visit some of my good friends from Comic Genesis in St. Paul. Dan “Vorticus” Zastrow has been hosting Sketch Days in St. Paul for the last couple of years, and I’ve been meaning to drive up and join him one of these days.

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On Saturday, we gathered at the house of Green Avenger artist Abby for an afternoon of drawing in sketchbooks, eating dark chocolate truffles, and discussing where to hide during a Zombie Apocalypse. Joining us were Dan’s lovely girlfriend Michelle Mayo, the amazing artist of Tales of the Traveling Gnome, as well as Lisa and Terry, the creators of Godseeker. We also met Jill (who has a new comic on Comic Genesis, but I didn’t get the name or URL). Later in the afternoon, Dusan “Legostar” Jeftinija and his fiancé Amanda joined us, and Vorticus bought us all sandwiches from Jimmy John’s.

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Around nine o’clock, the swing dancers among us (Dusan and Amanda, Michelle and Dan, Vivian and me) drove down to the Tapestry in Minneapolis. We saw a couple familiar faces while we were there, many Minnesotans who had come down to join us at Cowtown and were quite surprised to see Vivian and me crashing their dance hall up North.

The place was jam-packed with swing dancers trying to do the Lindy Hop with space that seemed only made for Balboa. We managed well, considering the crowd. It was especially thrilling to see Vivian and Dusan dancing together. As many of you know, Dusan introduced me to swing dancing back in 2006, which is how Vivian and I first met, so being able to see the two of them doing the Lindy Hop somehow made this amazing circle complete.

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The next day, Vivian and I had brunch at a lovely place called Buster’s before driving down to the Mall of America to spend the afternoon. The mall was about as large as you could imagine, and we enjoyed the carnival rides in the center of the giant complex more than any shopping we did. I hadn’t been on a roller coaster in ages, and it was great to enjoy the heart-stopping thrill of being crammed into a tiny seat and spun around wondering if the bearings in the machinery will hold out.

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Of course, I also had to stop by the Apple Store and ask why on Apple messed around with iMovie interface to the point where I can barely use it. Vivian and I also had fun playing with an iMac’s built in camera, snapping pictures with Photo Booth and putting them online to make all of our friends back in Nebraska sick with our cuteness.

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There were also plenty of toy stores to explore. The Lego store was probably the most impressive, with giant Lego sculptures of dinosaurs, Star Wars spaceships, and a life-size replica of Boba Fett. We dropped by the Disney store as well, where Vivian got to cuddle with some of the limited edition Valentine’s Day plushies.

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Before we left the mall, we had to run up to the top floor to get some popcorn shrimp from the Bubba Gump shrimp restaurant. Neither Viv nor I knew this place existed, but they apparently have sixteen locations across the country. I love shrimp, and they had shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich, you get the picture.

It was an amazing weekend, and I’ll never forget how great it was to see these two worlds come together at last.

Welcome to 2008

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Welcome to 2008, everybody! Wow, I had no idea I could have so much fun with just one day off in a week. Vivian and I started off the evening by getting her hair done down at her parents’ house. Viv’s mom has been a hairdresser for decades, so she was able to pin up her bright red hair in style before we headed on to the formal dance at the Eagle’s Lodge.

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Viv and I stopped in downtown Omaha to watch the elaborate fireworks show around seven o’clock (midnight, GMT). Then we stopped at 13th street coffee to warm up with some caffeine before moving on to the Eagle’s Lodge. Most everyone was dressed up for the somewhat-formal swing dance, and we got to hear Takashi playing Bobby Darin as he sang Splish Splash.

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Before midnight, Vivian and I stole away to the Great Adventures 80s party down in the basement of the 1316 building on Jones street. It was much more fun to swing dance to some songs I knew by heart, and I was sure to request Hungry like the Wolf before the night was over. Vivian had some fun playing some mean tunes on guitar hero in the backroom before we broke out the sparkling apple juice and toasted the new year. By some amazing coincidence, the last song of the night was Something Beautiful by the Newsboys. It’s somehow become “our song.”

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After midnight, we headed on down to Troy and Merinda’s house for an extended New Year’s party with our friends. A couple of us managed to put together an ensemble band to play downstairs on the big screen, and I tried my best to sing along to a couple songs I may have heard just once in my entire life. Later upstairs we played a few rounds of Last Word, which Merinda and Becky found much more hilarious that they should have been, thanks to a little extra champagne.

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Vivian and I had the next day all to ourselves, waking up around noon and then going to get a late breakfast at Perkins. We dropped by HyVee and grabbed some toppings for a couple spicy tortilla-shell pizzas that we cooked and ate that evening. I can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year!