Home Sweet Home

Just returned from Lithunia late last night.  Swedish Girl is still vacationing there until nearly Labor Day.  I enjoyed my time there, but I am glad to be back in Boston.  Before I left, my mother joked that I’d return with an accent.  It sounded silly, but I was away from English speakers for so long, and I tried my hand at some Lithuanian phrases whenever I could, so a few times, I actually did find myself speaking in an off-kilter, quasi-Eastern European accent.  I learned a great deal about this nation that will celebrate its 1,000th anniversary next year, and there were many more unexpected positives than negatives. 

I had a great time and a highlight for sure was my nephew’s baptism where Swedish Girl and I became godparents.  The ceremony was in two parts, the first of which was more of an introduction of what life in Lithuania was like in the 18th century.  It was conducted in a village similar to Plimoth Plantation (for those of you who have headed down to Plymouth, Mass.) where actual ancient structures that had been painstakingly dismantled across the country were carefully reconstructed.  After 2 godfatherly morning vodka shots, some cheese, sausage, and black bread, we walked over to an equally ancient church for the official baptism.  It was a very cool experience, even though the only things I understood (aside from 1 out of every 13 Lithuanian words) were Swedish Girl’s once-in-a-while translations and then when the priest said, “congratulations” to me at the conclusion. 

There are so many things I could say about the visit, but I’ll handle it in rapid-fire format for now (with a possible forthcoming sequel)…

* Lithuanian drivers are absolutely insane.  The worst I’ve ever experienced.  I thought Massachusetts drivers were pretty bad, but they are saintly compared to Lithuanians.  They drive fast and recklessly, which is a truly frightening double-whammy. 

* Lithuanian women are breathtaking.  I know I’m married, but I’m also married to an example of a breathtaking Lithuanian.  If you’re a single man with upcoming vacation time, I suggest you head over to Lithuania.  Did I mention the ratio of women to men is 53.4% to 46.6%?

* Lithuanians are crazy about cold fish.  They have it for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner.  Hot fish seemed somewhat rare.

* The people there are rude.  I’m free and clear in saying this, because even Swedish Girl was taken aback by it.  She’s been in the U.S. for so long now that she had forgotten just how rude her countrymen are.  I held the door open a few times and they didn’t say a word.  And no one holds the door open for you.  At a museum, I was pushing my nephew’s empty stroller while he was walking with his mom.  Granted, it was empty, but I was trying to get upstrairs and downstairs and people were astonishingly rude.  It got to the point that I was seriously using the stroller as a tank, purposely hitting people.  The country was starting to turn me rude.

* Lithuanian men are crazy about man purses.  Over 90% of the men under the age of 55 were wearing man purses. 

* The women seem to dress like they’re going to a nightclub all the time.  It’s like they are in constant competition.

* This one is, I think, consistent with most of Europe – ice cubes are harder to find than Osama bin Laden and that beer you expected to be frosty cold is almost room temperature. 

* Many apartment and office buildings were built by the Soviet Union back in USSR times and, therefore, have a very austere, cold, stern, Soviet feel to them.  They’re just ugly, gray, concrete and granite blocks.  My sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s apartment building was built in 1977; before they mentioned the year, I would have guessed 1950.  Ugly exterior, but their newly remodeled condo was gorgeous.

I’ll leave you for now with this anecdote.  My savior during the trip was a handy Lithuanian-English dictionary and phrasebook.  In several places in that book, the author (a native Lithuanian) suggests that travellers wait to watch Lithuanians eat certain dishes in order to avoid possible embarrassment.  I pointed that out to Swedish Girl and made cracks about how stupid that was.  Well, one day, Swedish Girl’s sister put an oval platter on the table; it was filled with sunflower seeds.  Even though my first thought was, “Wow!  That is a ton of sunflower seeds!  I never knew they were so wild about sunflower seeds here,” I dug in and helped myself. 

Fast forward a few minutes and Swedish Girl sat down and asked my why I wasn’t eating any of the fish.  Before I could defend myself that there was no fish anywhere, she cut into the platter, which had layer of cold fish, a layer of cream cheese, and then a healthy layer of sunflower seeds.   I just hope that my in-laws can chalk up my gaffe to IFS (Innocent Foreigner Syndrome).

Welcome, jjj!

One of the greatest thing about our wedding was seeing so much family and friends that I’ve not seen in years! One such family member is my cousin, jjj, who I had not seen since I was about 18 — twelve years ago. After hanging out at the wedding and some back-and-forth via email, I realized that he would make a great addition to the collaborative diatribe that is The Diatribe * net.

After much careful deliberation, jjj agreed agreed to join up and contribute. So stay tuned and put your kidneys together to help me welcome our newest author — jjj.

And the photos to prove it!

It’s amazing to think that two weeks have passed since the wedding — but it’s true. And to celebrate this two week anniversary, I received a call from our photographer informing us that our photos are ready to be viewed.

Interested in checking them out? Visit the Morin Studio Web Site and choose our wedding. The password is the date of the wedding in mm/dd/yy format. Need more help? Leave a comment and I’ll be sure to help ya out!

Fortunately, I’ve included the best photo of all right here for the world to enjoy!

A sigh of relief for the groom & his groomsmen.

What a Wedding

I want to start out by saying thank you to everyone that was able to make it up to Amherst last weekend for Miss Possible’s and my wedding. It was awesome to see everyone and I really hope that everyone had a great time between the various activities at the picnic on Friday and the wedding on Saturday. I’ve managed to pick up not only a new wife, but also a new hobby courtesy of my Father in Law (Golf) and from all of the stress and strain from the weekend’s adventures I managed to come down with a case of tendinitis in my right elbow as a result of the Softball + Horseshoes + Golf, etc.

I felt like I was away from work for so long — but the entire two weeks seemed to fly by so fast. MP and I had a great time on the cape and a great end of the week with friends and family. As I get photos, I’ll post them (or at least links to the albums) with the permission of the photo takers. So, if you have pics you want to have shared — send them my way and I’ll put together a post with all of them combined.

Thanks for sharing in our special weekend!

Congratulations, LTJ and MP

I wanted to pass along a huge congratulations to the newlyweds. You guys threw an awesome 2 day party, replete with softball, horshoes, Fa-Jy-Ta’s, B-Side, Growlers, Jazz Hands the photographer, racing-stripe shoes, holding the chuppah and signing the ketubah, The Zohan, Gogol Bordello, Blinded by the Light, German lessons and much, much more.

Enjoy your time together, you deserve it!

The 4am Fog Walk

First off, congratulations to LTJ and Miss Possible on tying the knot yesterday.  A great time was had by all.  The weather cooperated for the most part and everything went off without a hitch.  I could go on at length about just how great everything was planned, but what I have to fill you in on is my 4am walk back to my hotel.  Due to some pre-planning mishaps, Swedish Girl and I ended up at a different hotel than the rest of the wedding party.  It would have been fine, except for the fact that it was across the street, beset by highway on-ramps and off-ramps on all sides, and devoid of sidewalks.

After the reception, Swedish Girl was all partied out, so we got her some quick food and she dropped me off at the wedding group’s hotel.  I knew that getting back to our hotel wasn’t going to be a breeze, but I figured I’d worry about that problem after a handful of beers.  I definitely did not regret the first half of the decision, as the beers were cold and we all laughed our asses off for a couple of hours.  When I checked the time, I was shocked to see that it was 4am already.  Swedish Girl had called me almost three hours earlier to find out when I’d be back and I had assured her then that it wouldn’t be long.

It was at this point that I probably would have been better served to just stay another 60 or 90 minutes until daybreak.  The walk back to my hotel was one of the most harrowing experiences I’ve ever been foolish enough to do.  It doesn’t compare to The Big Dig Story (to be included in my upcoming book), but it’s up there.  The distance was under a mile, but it was so dark and foggy that I thought for sure I was a sitting duck for oncoming cars.  The speed limit on that road was upwards of 40 to 45 MPH and I thanked the heavens above that only two or three cars passed me.  Close to half my walk was on the shoulder of the road and I soon realized one huge mistake.  I was still wearing a black tuxedo. 

Not great attire in fog so thick that I was swimming through it.  I considered holding my cell phone over my head as a beacon in the night, but didn’t want to kill the battery.  That’s when a decent idea came to mind – I removed my tuxedo jacket so that the bright white back of my vest would be seen in people’s headlights.  The whole walk was probably no more than 10 or 15 minutes, but felt like an hour.  I was so relieved to be back at the hotel that it felt like home sweet home.  And as Captain Larby mentioned in his best man speech, these types of things are par for the course when LTJ is involved.