Life Stories

Important and exciting (or boring) events and stories about my life.

I got married

I got married

Let me see, I could only describe my wedding day as the happiest day of my life. Now, I know it sounds corny or like that’s what I’m “supposed” to call it, but it’s true. It honestly was the happiest day of my life.

The good times started with all the friends and family visiting and staying at my house for a week. We all took a trip to Cedar Point, which was a total blast, and then the rehearsal and dinner. It was just a fantastic week of fun and excitement.

[7/25/2007 Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH]

The rehearsal dinner was wonderful. It was put on by my dad and Angie at my Aunt Nancy’s awesomely-huge house. I had gotten my groomsmen gifts from Things Remembered. (Thanks Amber). I picked out something that each person would like and had it engraved with something hilarious or witty, or just plain amazing. Like my brother, Dan, for instance, I had our “Dymond logo” put on a pocket watch. If you don’t know what that symbol looks like, it’s tattooed on our backs, (Dan and me).

The big day arrived and it was filled with minor disasters. First of all the biggest problem was when we found out that John, our wedding planner Kelly’s husband, had been in a  car accident and that she wouldn’t be able to continue planning or even attend the wedding. Right there I wasn’t sure how in the world we were going to pull it off.

The next problem was when the people were setting up the chairs for the outdoor ceremony, they seemed to have stopped quite short of what we needed. I asked them if they were going back for more, to which they replied “Nope this is it. You needed 85 right? That’s what we were told. “ Wow, 85 chairs for a 130-person wedding. That got me pretty annoyed, and with Kelly out of the picture I called my dad to try to get the chairs from the rehearsal dinner. Those ones had already been taken back. So we ended up having people sitting on the grass, which ended up being pretty cool because there were kids sitting here and there and families in the shade and everyone seemed to think it wasn’t a problem.

Another minor incident came when I was trying to button my jacket and the button went flying off the balcony into the main lobby. We had 15 people searching every inch of floor and no one could find the stupid thing. I’m not sure who, but I think it may have been Katie or my mom, but my jacket was taken from me and my button was moved from the bottom to the top and before I knew it, I could button it again.

Once things got settled down and photos of the guys were taken, and time started moving faster and faster, I found myself standing in front of everyone I ever knew. I couldn’t believe that it was time to get this thing started.

[Ryan did an awesome job of keeping me from getting nervous]

It’s silly to think that 2 years went into planning a party surrounding an event that only lasted 20 minutes.

The music started and down came the moms and the girls and the couples and then I saw my dad’s black car slowly roll up behind everyone. I knew that this meant that Trista was about to emerge.

…Before I continue I must say that I didn’t understand that whole “don’t see the bride before the ceremony thing” but boy, I tell you what, it sure added a TON of suspense for when she finally did arrive, thus making the payoff totally worth it. I recommend that anyone getting married, stick to that tradition. It will really freak you out.

So here she came, walking down the aisle with her dad to some really great song she had picked out from the “Amile” soundtrack.

[me = freaking out right about now]

I couldn’t help it, I didn’t think it would happen, but I was overcome with a rush of emotion that I could barely control. She looked more beautiful and happy than I had ever seen her. I couldn’t stop staring at her and I didn’t expect to have to deal with this strong of a feeling so soon, if at all. I mean, I had been so nervous about everything going right and worried about everything that it sort of became more about the even than the ACTUAL event itself, not to mention how fast the whole thing came. But once I saw her, I was whisked away into this world where I was getting married and everything about the day was falling into perfect harmony.

Everything about the ceremony was absolutely amazing. Having Mark and Ben J. perform the marriage was incredible. I really loved having this done by our friends and not some minister or stranger. It just seemed like a bunch of friends getting together to do something really important, each of them filling a necessary role in the event.

[Ben and Mark. Their ties matched the wedding party, how sweet is that?]

When Jen started reading the poem that T had picked out, I couldn’t believe how moving it was, and again, I started to well up. I mean COME ON! (For the record, I strongly dislike poetry,) this reading really got to me because I was looking to T’s eyes and actually listening to what was being said and it was like the most perfect thing to say.

Here are the poems she read.

Instead of having a unity candle, we combined sand. My mother brought sand from the sandbox at the elementary school in Birch Run, where I grew up, and Trista’s mom brought sand from a local beach near her home town in New York. (One really cool thing about doing it this way was that we got to keep the “sand art” as a keepsake.)

During this pouring of the sand Leigh Ann sang “The Nearness of You” by Norah Jones as Ryan played piano. This sounded so incredible. Since pouring a small glass of sand into a larger glass doesn’t take nearly as long as singing a song like this, T and I were left standing up there staring at each other while everyone in our entire lives stared at us staring at each other.  It was interesting. During this time, we were able to speak to one another for the first time, and then we started laughing and then T noted that we were being the rude people, talking and laughing at our OWN WEDDING.

I will always remember what Ben J. said right before he had us exchange rings, he said that Trista and I have a special and unique way of loving each other that no one else needs to understand, and never let anyone tell us that we are doing it wrong. “Nick, only you know how to love Trista the way you do, never forget that, and never be discouraged or mislead into thinking that your way isn’t the right way.”

We couldn’t have asked for better weather either. The temperature was perfect, with a slight breeze to keep things pleasant. This only added to the perfectness of the day. (Perfect = overall theme).

…time out…

I realize that I am running out of words to describe, I’ve used “perfect,” “awesome”, “amazing”, “incredible”, “unbelievable”, “cool”, and “wonderful”. Being that I am not a writer, I will now start to reuse some of these words because I can’t think of any new ones that wouldn’t make it completely obvious I was looking them up in a thesaurus.

…time in…

The ceremony itself was amazing. From the song choices to the poem reading to the actual words that Mark and Ben said to us, to the singing that Leigh Ann did, we couldn’t have asked for a better combination of ingredients. (It was like the perfect storm but in a good way, no one died.)

On to the party:

This was the most fun I have ever had at a wedding reception. Food = awesome, DJ = awesome, Room = awesome. If you were there, then you know, I don’t need to go into great detail about the venue, the word “awesome” sums it up perfectly.

I would like to point out how strange it is having your entire family, your new wife’s entire family, and nearly every single friend you have ever had from any stage of life, all in one room, staring at you wherever you walk and watching whatever it is you do.

On the day of my wedding, I witnessed 3 of the greatest wedding toasts I have ever seen. Katie started them off with a very heartfelt and prepared speech. She had wise words and a clever joke that no one saw coming. (Good one Kate, that’s probably the first time you’ve ever made me laugh.) It really meant a lot to us.

Next came Dan, who probably had more planned to say, but was shooting from the hip and seemed to just say what was in his heart. His words will stick with me forever. He said “Nick recently beat it into my head that I will always be his “little brother” but what I found after thinking about it, is that he will always be my “big brother” and I couldn’t have asked for a better one.” I started to get all emotional again, big time. In fact, I’m tearing up as I type this…

Continuing, Ryan was the hit of the evening. He had little note cards with bullet points and cues. In short, he was FREAKING HILARIOUS. Some of his bits included: “The 3 F’s” Trista and I are Fun, Frugal, and… well, I’m sure you can think of your own “F”. Classic. A poop joke was made. A turned over semi-truck reference was made. And he dissected one of my favorite Crash Test Dummies songs and applied it to our lives. This was one of the most incredible speeches I have ever heard, from anyone about anything. I’m not kidding. I really wish someone had recorded it.

After dinner came the dances. Our song we danced to was called “I have space” by Mates of State. We started to dance and, well look who came back, it’s Crybaby-Nick. I don’t know what it was, again, but I was an emotional wreck. I looked over and saw Katie and Ryan and they had tears in their eyes, and wow, I about lost it. I think after the initial emotion of the moment kicked it off, we fell into a crying paradox because they were crying at us and we were crying at them, and it didn’t stop until the song ended. I can’t listen to this song without getting choked up. Seriously, I had to keep skipping it while I was testing the mp3 player for this site. Again, I’m getting messed up just thinking about it. (Maybe you people don’t realize that I am going through an emotional rollercoaster as I am typing this and I totally didn’t expect to. Look who’s a girl.)

How about this, I’ll just give a summation and end this tear-fest.  There are so many details that I left out, if I had included every single thing that happened or that someone said or who did what or how things looked or how everything worked out this way or that, I would be typing an entire novel.

One sentence version of missed details and stories:

– T’s family drawings reunited.

– Wedding party gifts were a huge hit (from us to them).

– World’s smallest and stupidest wedding cake. (I didn’t get any good cake either).

– Dan and Dave = hilarious tag team of drunken foolishness.

– Trista and I singing “Good Thing”.

– Amy singing “In my daughter’s eyes”.

– Erin ruining my “movie ending”.

– Katie being attacked by bees during the ceremony.

– Trista refusing to lead the dancing train into the other wedding party.

– George having a total blast and then, for some reason pouting.

– Erin being the cutest little dancer we ever did see.

– Ben J. asking for the wrong ring.

– Ben J. exclaiming “here it comes folks” before pronouncing us.

– Trista looking for her tissue during the ceremony and finding that it had fallen into her bra.

– We created our own flower bouquets and boutonnieres.

– The wait staff took and dished out food for us. (sounds lame but was cool).

– Me dancing with my mom to a song called “Good Riddance”.

– Trista’s Father-Daughter dance.

– Grandpa Duane saying the prayer.

– Our campaign flutes each had engraved on them, our individual names and date as well as saying “I’m with stupid”.

– The front of Katie’s dress kept opening up.

This day was the perfect way to start off my new life with the love of my life and, thank you to everyone that had any part, however small, in creating what I will always know to be the happiest day of my life.

I’m not moving to TC.

I’m not moving to TC.

Well, so much has happened since I last wrote the story about my job offer up in Traverse City.

That same day after I posted the story, I received an anonymous email through my web site contact form. This email disturbed me greatly because it gave me some serious doubt. The email is as follows…

“Man, good luck. I was there for several years and saw more than 30 (!) people come and go, including the past 3 designers they had there. You should ask what kind of turnover they have. That place is crazy. Ask about Terrel, he moved from Nebraska to TC for that job, left less than two months later. I hope you have a better experience. But The HR Lady and The Owner will stab you in the back. WATCH OUT. They also won’t let you work on any side work while you work for them. They have VERY expensive lawyers.”

So you can see how unsettling this was. I tried not to think much about it, because I had already decided to start packing up and figure out how to overcome the challenges faced with moving. I didn’t want to also consider the possibility of the company not being everything I had hoped for and more.

I figured that the letter was sent from someone messing with me, either one of my friends (not a very funny joke mind you) or a truly disgruntled employee, and that I would just ignore it.

It was hard to ignore when I got a 2nd letter from someone else later that same day…

“For legal reasons I’d rather not say my name, but have you happened to ask The HR Lady about the turnover rate at The Company? I wonder if they’ll lie to you too.”

And that’s all it said. Now I really started to freak out. The style of writing didn’t seem to be at all like the other one’s. This one was much more vague as well as more secretive.

This really unnerved me. I was starting to get a sinking feeling inside about the adventure I was about to embark on. Was it really worth all the trouble I was having to go through. I couldn’t say at this point. I mean, the reason I wanted to take a chance and give up everything was to go work for a company that would take care of me. One that would be somewhere I wanted to work for years to come. And now, I get this warning, although admittedly sketchy.

While one letter is something to forget, two is a different story, but I still wanted to talk to The Company and ask about it in hopes that they could tell me what was going on. The problem was, The HR Lady was out of the office for the week on vacation. I couldn’t call my one trusted source inside. But then again, the warning message said not to trust her, so I didn’t know what to do/think.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night. My mind kept working with the different fears involved with making a decision like this, now with some sort of warning.

I tried to ignore this as I went through my day, Trista and I started to pack up her belongings from our office to move them to her friend’s house (that said she could stay there.) This presented an unforeseen problem. Trista was becoming extremely sad over the whole thing. She started to get real emotional and broke down a little bit. She has been super strong and supporting during this whole thing, so to see her like this really hit me hard. We talked through it and she assured me that when it came time to actually moving, that she would be stronger, but I still had doubts. Trista’s support for this move was the ONLY thing that made me 100% sure it was the right thing to do. Now, with silly warning emails and T’s wavering commitment, I had to start thinking about it all over again.

Just a few hours after T and my little talk and emotional pow-wow, we were sitting and listening to some Harry Potter 7, when I was actually contacted by a third ex-employee of The Company via AIM. The conversation was a little creepy at first because they kept trying to be secretive. Ex Employee kept trying to make sure I wouldn’t tell on them and make sure that I trusted them and this and that. My patience was growing thin when all of the sudden, I got a Video Chat Invite and then, wow, I saw their face. Ex Employee was like, I’m done messing around, I just have to tell you my story and keep you from making a huge mistake. I recently worked for The Company, and let me tell you, it’s NOTHING like they say it is during the interviews.

The atmosphere is controlling, The Owner is manipulating and micro managing, your creativity will feel stifled to the point where you will wonder why you were even hired on and not just some idiot that does exactly what you’re told (meaning no creative freedom). Ex Employee then went on to tell stories about various times and examples to back up each point. I really got a feeling that Ex Employee was truly trying to save me the trouble. He/She said that despite what you were told during the hiring process, that you will not be allowed to do any freelance work due to the NDA (non disclosure agreement) that you have to sign when hired.

All of the rules are over bearing and rather than promote a laid back and comfortable feel, it makes you feel trapped and babysat. (examples included the no cell phones in building rule, the can’t be 1 minute late rule etc.) Now you might be thinking, sure those rules seem in line, but The Owner freaks out when anything is even slightly out of line and is quite un understanding.

I personally can’t remember all of the stories and examples that Ex Employee shared with me. I mean, it WAS over video chat, so it’s not like I have it documented as in an email or something. I might not even be doing this story justice, but trust me, the evidence was overwhelming.

My point of view from this juncture forward, is this… Even if 1/2 of what Ex Employee and the two anonymous emailers said was true, it puts just enough doubt in my mind to make this move seem not worth the risk. I only would make such a gigantic move, and upset my entire life, if I had more of a sure path in front of me, and not one with red flags staring me in the face. I just don’t think that I can take the chance anymore, knowing what I know about The Company.

I have to say that the true reason for my deciding not to move is because when I truly said that I couldn’t take the chance, Trista looked sooooooo relieved and it was as if a huge weight was lifted off her back. This let me know that warnings or no warnings, that unless some company offered me $100,000/yr and a company Porsche to drive, I really shouldn’t consider moving away from her. Not to mention all of my friends who were super excited that I am not leaving.

So, I contacted the other local company, “Company-B” about the possibility of working there still, and they promptly said, “Thanks but no thanks.” I am officially out of options and back to the drawing board. I went from too many offers and decisions to none.

I’m still slightly optimistic though due to the fact that during the past 2 weeks I was contacted by 3 companies, (3rd one I called back and haven’t heard back either) and I haven’t even actively sought out employment hardcore like I really should.

All in all, this was quite the emotional roller coaster and luckily enough, we hadn’t made any real changes other than in our minds. So we’re not worse off than we were before any of this started. I just hate to “cry wolf” and get everyone riled up about me moving and then say “just kidding”, but basically, that’s what I did.

So, I need a job.

I’ll finish with a quote from my good friend George…

“Coming from experience, let me reiterate that any job no matter how wonderful you think it will be, will not be.  Almost all successful companies have one priority in mind……make money.  Treating their employees with respect is on the list but because it’s been said so many times it gets blurry like the fine print in a document that has been photocopied too many times.  I would love to believe there is altruism out there but I already made the decision that no such thing exists.  I’m sorry they disillusioned you into believing you WILL LOVE THIS JOB!  In the long run though, it’s better to learn now and not while you are in a year lease up in TC.”

Truck Driver? Nope, I’m a Graphic Designer

Truck Driver? Nope, I’m a Graphic Designer

This is a long one…

I never wanted to drive a truck. I mean, trucks are cool, and I have always loved Optimus Prime, but as a lifetime career, no way. For the past few years, my plans have been just to drive a truck until it makes sense to try something else. Trista and I had come up with a plan that would have me driving at LEAST until her student loans were paid off, and perhaps once we had purchased her a new car (not NEW new, but new to us) and myself a better motorcycle. In fact, I had gotten so used to the money that I can’t really see myself actually making the decision to stop. It’s like being a stripper, you KNOW you shouldn’t but who can turn down good money for not the much work. I say not much work because I know that I am capable of more in life than driving. I know that I have skills and talents far beyond the necessary ones used to drive a semi truck.

Fearless Leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime

Well, I had that decision to quit driving made FOR me and not BY me. As you read in my last post, I lost my job. Many people I know said that more than likely it was a blessing in disguise, rather than the horrible nightmare that it appeared to be.

After I found out that I lost my job, I was freaked out a little bit, I was also a wee bit excited at the same time. Ok, I was more than freaked out a little bit, actually, I had trouble sleeping at night. I kept seeing myself in the truck during the accident. I could feel what it felt like when it was tipping over. That, mixed with the uncertainty in what would become of my life, had me stressed out. I don’t get stressed out easily if that tells you anything.

I had been working on various web design projects for months and yielded little results due to the lack of time I had to put into them. Now, I thought, I will have time enough to finish them, put my portfolio together and then do one of two things, work as a freelance graphic/web designer, or get hired on with a good company doing the same. During this adjustment time, I figured I would also be able to collect unemployment benefits (UI), because, after all, I didn’t quit, I got fired.

In order to receive these benefits, I had to fill out an online resume at the Michigan Talent Bank (which is basically but run by the Gov’t). I didn’t think much of this so I didn’t make my resume seem overly awesome. I just knew that I didn’t really want to put any thing about driving a truck on there other than job history (basically, I didn’t want a bunch of trucking companies calling me). I didn’t really think that anyone would really look at it anyway. I had been on UI before and did this same online resume thing, and never once got a call. (not like I had any skills anyone wanted back then).

I'm on chapter 12 as of this writing, ...Kreacher and Mondungus... exciting

I’m on chapter 12 as of this writing, …Kreacher and Mondungus… exciting

So, in order to implement this plan, I put together a little daily schedule for myself that included chores as well as a prioritized list of my projects in order of deadline and importance. I had been following this schedule for about 2 weeks and then one day, out of nowhere, I received a call from an HR lady named The HR Lady that worked for a company called The Company. (I was downstairs making some nachos and about to listen to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in audio book form, and just got a voicemail from her.) I listened to her voicemail and got really exited, (not excited enough to call her before eating and listening to one chapter though.)

I returned her call and we chatted for a bit. She had found my resume on the MI Talent Bank and liked what she saw (I guess). One of the first things she mentioned was that they were located up in Traverse City (TC), to which I replied “would I be able to work from home?” She said, “No.” and I started to write them off as an interesting idea, but never would consider moving so far away. I told her this and we chatted a little more. I said that while I was intrigued by the idea of working for a real company, doing what I have always wanted to do, TC was a bit ridiculous. She said “well let me tell you a few things to help you decide”.

The Company is a company who’s primary service is “Search Engine Optimization”, which means that they help huge companies get their web sites to the top of the list when you do a search for something that is relevant to what they offer. They have been in business for over 10 years and have just under 40 employees. The work environment is quite relaxed and non-officy. You are allowed to wear whatever you want (within reason I suppose) and they try to promote a “family-like” atmosphere. They have a fooseball table (I LOVE this), table shuffleboard and an arcade machine.

They don’t have cubicles and crappy fluorescent lighting, instead they have super-sweet Danish, artsy furniture and table lamps. There are even dogs running around to be petted and played with.

They were looking at me to come on as a graphic designer and Flash developer. I would be involved with what they call “internal marketing” which is everything from the company’s web site, to fliers, to banner ads, to business cards. Basically anything that they put out to market themselves as a business.

The HR Lady persuaded me to at LEAST check out their company online, send her an email with samples of my work and discuss it with Trista. She said that she would call me the next day and see if I had changed my mind at all.

262 mi – about 4 hours 21 mins

I did as she asked, I totally read up on the company, sent her off an email with everything I could pass as viewable, and waited for T to come home so we could chat. I was just interested to see what someone in the “real world” thought of my work.

I honestly didn’t think much of the possibility, I figured that T wouldn’t like the idea of me moving. She had gotten used to me being home and, I’m sure, rather enjoyed having dinner waiting for her on occasion in the crock pot.

I told her all about The Company and where they are located and fully expected her to say something like “Well, at least people are looking at your resume, too bad it’s so far away.” She said nothing of the sort. I believe she said something more like “Wow, you could TOTALLY do it.”

Well, I wasn’t prepared for that.

Trista got super excited about me finally getting to make money doing one of my hobbies. She launched into an explanation about how me moving wouldn’t be much different than if I had gone back to driving a truck long haul (which we had discussed as an option if things didn’t work out otherwise). She also loved the idea of them not being a stuffy office, but a “cool” place to work.

Well, that certainly made me start thinking differently about this whole situation. We spent quite a while weighing out different possibilities, options and objections. The bottom line was that T was really pushing for me to consider this, and I couldn’t find a reason to disagree with her. I mean, aside form all the obvious reasons NOT to take this job, it just boiled down to one exciting opportunity.

When The HR Lady called me the next day at 2:00pm, the first thing she asked me was “Well, should we continue…?” I told her that T was on board so far and that we should see where this could take us.

She had looked over my work and showed it to the owner/ founder/president/CEO (I don’t know what she goes by but I know her name is The Owner) and they were quite interested in me. The HR Lady and I talked for about an hour about everything from what they offered, to my ability to leave my new wife and move across the state. Their primary concern is that I would take the job, decide I couldn’t handle being so far from everyone I cared about and pack up and head back home. This is when I told her about the fact that during T and my entire relationship, I had been a truck driver and that we were used to being apart. I told her about our plan for me to go back to driving a truck “over the road” (long haul like the olden days) and that we were prepared for that type of lifestyle if it came down to it.

The HR Lady is a fun lady. I really like her. I quickly found that she appreciated my sense of humor, which allowed me to really be myself. She seemed to really enjoy talking to me and out of nowhere she said “Why don’t you come up here for an interview?”

Bam! Now all of the sudden it became much more real. At first, it was fun to sit there and think about “what if” and yet still remain in my comfortable little bubble where I felt safe. “Why not come up tomorrow?” She said. I didn’t know what to say to her, I hemmed and hawed and tried to make up excuses why it was “too soon” or “late notice” or anything else I could come up with to stall. She really started to “up-sell” me at that point. “What else do you have going on tomorrow?” I didn’t have anything else to say but “I have to water the plants at 3:00pm. (which was true, according to my self-made schedule).

Now this was the Wednesday before Labor Day weekend and T and I had plans to drive up to Grandpa and Grandma Spaulding’s house for their 50th wedding anniversary party on Saturday. I mentioned this to The HR Lady and she replied with “Why not make a big weekend out of it, come up here tomorrow at 2:00pm, stay in town, look around, see if you like the area and then go to your grandparents for the weekend.”

I told her that I would have to think about it and call Trista and see if this was even a possibility. She said to let her know first thing in the morning whether or not I was on my way or what stupid excuse I had come up with (I’m paraphrasing).

So, T got the day off and we headed “up north” for a weekend adventure.

Katie also insisted that I remove my stupid earrings. I complied.

Katie also insisted that I remove my stupid earrings. I complied.

Later that day, T and I went over to Ryan and Katie’s house for some hang out and Katie asked me what I was going to wear. I told her that due to the nature of the “laid back” atmosphere, I was going to wear my nicest shirt (collared polo thingie) and my khakis (not dress pants, but tan colored jeans). She did NOT approve at all and made me drive her and T straight to Target (it was 9:00pm the day before we were to leave) and buy some nice dress clothes.

T and I left the house a little after 9:00am and just barely made it to TC (actually it’s another 1/2 hour PAST TC) by 2:00. I dropped her off in a little town called Sutton’s Bay where she could walk around, look at antiques, eat and read Harry Potter 7.

The interview was me sitting across from The HR Lady (Human Resources), The Marketing Guy (Marketing Boss), and The Owner (Owner/Founder/President/CEO). I was SOOOOOOO nervous when I sat down. They were all wearing normal clothes (like it was a Saturday and they weren’t working at all) but this didn’t help me relax. The Owner started with easy questions about my trip up and G & G’s anniversary party. I began to settle down a little bit and then came the more “interviewy” questions. In the middle of my answer I just stopped and said “I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t know how to answer these questions like a real grown-up, I don’t know how to conduct a real professional interview, I have been a truck driver for the past 6 years and before that, I was a grill cook.” They laughed and said that I was doing great and that they didn’t want to hear the normal “canned” answers anyway. I felt much better and then informed them that that was good, because I was fighting back an involuntary nervous gulp.

After that, I felt right at ease. I was able to answer all of the questions with amusing stories and witty remarks that had them laughing their heads off. The Owner asked The Marketing Guy if he had any questions for me. He sort of looked like he had been put on the spot and said, “I know I’m supposed to have a bunch of things to ask him right now, but I forgot them all because I am so impressed with his enthusiasm and excitement. It’s quite refreshing.” I couldn’t believe how well the interview was going. He then came up with a few questions for me that I seemed to answer to their satisfaction.

During one of my stories, The Owner glanced at her watch and said “Wow, I am supposed to be at a meeting in TC in 10 minutes (we were 30 mins away) but I just found this interview so entertaining that I lost track of time.” She and Scott immediately got up, shook my hand, and ran out the door straight to the parking lot and left.

After that, it was just The HR Lady and myself left in the conference room and the interview was mostly over at that point. She leaned across the table and sort of whispered “You did SO good!”. It was almost as if she was proud of me.

We went back to her office and she got me some literature on The Company and a magazine called Traverse that dealt with the TC area for me to give to T. She then recommended that T and I get to know the town a little bit and to take a walk downtown so we can see if we even like it up there.

Trista and I did as The HR Lady suggested and gave ourselves a tour of downtown. Boy is it awesome. It sort of reminded me of Ann Arbor the way that all the buildings were laid out and how they were all bustling with coolness that I wanted to be a part of. This short time spent walking around was all T needed to help make up her mind. She loves Traverse City. “This is our type of town.” She said.

After this little excursion up to TC and visiting the town and meeting the people and everything, we were feeling pretty good about the whole thing. I felt that the interview went so well, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I received a call 10 minutes after leaving the office. I sat there at a good 90% sure they wanted me. The HR Lady said I would hear from her no later than Tuesday (this was Thursday and they didn’t work Fri or Mon).

One thing I forgot to mention was that on the day before our trip up, I received a letter from the unemployment office stating that I was not eligible to receive any money due to some sort of misconduct. it’s just silly. So this means that we had to consider this option much more heavily.

As we were driving to G & G Spaulding’s house, I received a call from another company that found my resume online and wanted me to come in for an interview. We will call this company “Company-B” and they are a firm that specializes in online training videos for large corporations. I said I’d give them a call on Tuesday to see about coming in and seeing what they were all about.

Isn’t that insane? This threw a whole new dimension into the mix. Now, not only did I have to consider the possibility of moving up for an awesome company, I was being called by local web design firms as well.

Tuesday morning came and I went in for the interview. The whole thing was a completely different experience. First of all, their HR lady that was supposed to interview me was like 20 minutes late from lunch, so I had to sit in the waiting room getting more and more nervous while wondering what the deal was. Finally, I got escorted into the conference room by the head “tech guy”, where they had some of my web sites up on a huge projector for critiquing. He, along with the owner of the company, started questioning me about my technique and my coding skills and abilities. They didn’t want to know anything about me, at all. They only seemed concerned with whether or not I could actually do the work. Which seems reasonable, but nothing like my interview with The Company.

By the time their HR lady (I don’t know why I’m referring to her as “lady” in my mind, I refer to young women as “girl” or even “chick”, and older women as “lady”) arrived, we didn’t have much time to talk before we had to vacate the conference room for another meeting and everyone decided that they didn’t have any more questions for me. The whole interview took less than 12 minutes. I was then informed that they weren’t actually hiring exactly, but that if I was chosen, I would be “hired” on as a contractor for 4 months with intent to hire. Basically, they had a HUGE order to fill with the new 2008 car lines hitting the market and needed 5 new people to start immediately to help out with the workload.

This added even more to the pot to sift through to make a decision. I could move up north, away from everyone and everything to go work for a company that I really believe in, and who seems to better fit what I am looking for as well as my personality. Or, I can stay in town, take a chance on working for a company that may or may not continue my employment past the 4 month period, working as basically a workhorse to churn out content and have very limited creative control. The kicker was that they were both talking of offering the same pay (give or take).

To some of you, the choice may seem simple. I don’t know, it sure wasn’t for me. Either one would seem as acceptable as the other depending on which side you view it from.

I still hadn’t heard from The HR Lady and it was like 2:00pm. This made me wonder if I had read them wrong. That couldn’t be, they loved me. I didn’t know what the heck was up so I called her myself.

The first thing I said to her was “I don’t know what the official business protocol is about calling you when you said you’d call me, but I just wanted to know what the heck was going on.” She thanked me for calling and said she thought that it showed initiative. I was thinking it was anything but initiative, it was more like “Why don’t you love me like I think you love me, why haven’t you called me, where were you last night, I was worried sick.” (more like that).

The HR Lady told me that they, in fact, did love me and really thought I would be a perfect match for the company. The only thing that is holding them up was a question about my commitment to actually moving and staying up there. She told me that she really needed a true commitment from me saying that I fully intend to see this through and not cut and run when it seems difficult.

“Wow.” I said, “That’s all? I’m not worried about my commitment once I move up there, it’s getting me TO move that you have to talk me into.” I then told her that I wanted to be completely honest and told her about “Company-B” and about my interview and about my tough decision to choose between a company that I really liked that’s far away, and a company I didn’t really care for, but was able to leave my current life intact.

She thanked me for my honesty and said she’d take these concerns to The Owner and get back with me. Less than ten minutes later she called me back and officially offered me a job.

After talking to T extensively about it, she was really leaning towards, (actually more like pushing for) the Traverse City position. I could tell that she wouldn’t be truly happy unless I checked it out and see how it went. Trista loved everything about the company, she feels as if they honestly care about me, and the work atmosphere is something that I would thrive in. She also has no problem with the fact that we will be apart. “We’ve been dealing with this since we’ve known each other, so it’s not as if our relationship can’t handle it.” She said. What a good wife, don’t you think? I do.

I called The HR Lady back on Wednesday morning and accepted the job. I’m to start on October 1st (or before if I can).

Now this brought up a few other snags that we’re left dealing with. First of all, I had JUST signed the new lease on our apartment not even 2 weeks ago. What I didn’t know is that the NEW lease was under a NEW property management company that does not allow for early termination. Which basically means that I’m stick here until the lease is up, or if I do move out, I’ll have to continue to pay until they re-rent this apartment.

2nd snag: what about T?

Part of the reason that she was able to push so hard for this job of mine was that she was willing to stay wherever and with whomever. She is used to living like a “college student” and is willing to do so for a while longer. Right now we are working out the details for her to stay with a friend here, while at the same time, I look for apartments up in TC that are similar to the one we currently live in. We want to call Traverse City our home, and so there is where we will make it.

I guess that about wraps up this ridiculously long story and I am still leaving out details here and there, but the main points were covered.

My life is about to change forever, I am about to ride off into the sunset to pursue my dream and leave everything I know and care about behind (5 hours behind anyway).


Thank you to all of you who have offered help and/or advice to Trista and myself during this difficult decision. We also ask that you would keep us in your thoughts during the next few months while we try to make this transition.

Canterbury Castle

Canterbury Castle

We’ve decided on a place to host our wedding reception. It’s called the Canterbury Castle located in Lake Orion, MI. This place is a castle. Yeah, just like the name says. We love everything about it. (I personally have always loved things from the “knights and armor” days. I have been collecting this sort of de core for a number of years and have decorated my bedroom in that fashion.) (23)

Isn’t this place beautiful?

There are also another added benefit to having the wedding here, it’s less than 2 miles away from Ryan and Katie. This will be, as you can imagine, quite helpful when it comes to travel arrangements and logistics of the actual day.

We are also looking into possibly having the actual ceremony on the grounds as well. There is a gazebo out in back where this can take place. We’re still looking into that though.

I have put all of the pictures that we took during our li’l tour of the place in the Photo Gallery and have added comments to each of the picture to give you a tour as well.

Trista’s Ring

Trista’s Ring

Now it’s official, Trista has a real engagement ring. We had gone shopping to just a few jewelry stores in the Flint area and hadn’t gotten a chance to really dive into true ring hunting before Trista started school and work and a new nonstop on-the-go lifestyle. About a week or so after Trista started working at the jewelry store, a new ring arrived there and Trista loved it. She called me up and made me drive over there to come and see it.

[Obviously pictures of the ring after the diamonds were removed]
[but you still get the idea]

Apparently the ring itself is an antique from the 1940’s which made Trista fall in love with it even more (She loves old stuff that has a history. I guess those things have a name… which is… antique) Trista tried it on her finger and it fit sort of screwy because the edge of the ring had a pointy ridge that pushed into her knuckle.

We really liked the original for the most part, but there were a few things that we wished could be changed. So we decided to have our friend (and Trista’s boss) Wendy hand-make us a new ring with the same look but with an updated style using those antique diamonds. The first thing we opted to change was the ugly yellow gold (I hate yellow gold. *yuck* sorry for those of you who have it,, um… on you… it looks nice) to 18k white gold. We could have gone with the platinum but were advised that it tends to cloud up and scratch easier than gold reducing the shine. And platinum just isn’t as awesome as people think it is (that’s what I say anyway). In addition to changing the color we had to reduce the pointy sides so the ring would fit on her finger. As it was, the ring itself was simply too wide for Trista’s bony fingers, but on top of that, you add the pointy sharp ridges and it was simply obnoxious. And finally, we added 4 more diamonds to the top of the “basket” that the main diamond sits in.

[Isn’t it awesome]

What’s really cool about this ring is that the smaller diamonds are “floating” instead of being held up by a shelf. Take a look, you can see how the diamonds are held up by little prongs bur aren’t supported by anything else below. I am told that the reason that she went with this design is that the quality of diamonds was high enough that it would look right. Whereas a lower clarity level wouldn’t have been right for that style of mounting.

Now you can see that this ring fits much better. It was brought down a whole size, the “table” was reduced to the width of Trista’s finger and the edge that was formerly a pointed edge is just a huge wide band that looks super sweet.

[Trista’s fingers are red because she just came in out of the cold]
[And she is a freak]

The ring came in this super stylish bamboo box.

[Wendy is especially proud of the box]

But wait, there’s more. This is just the engagement ring, there’s another ring, the wedding band, that goes along with it. (I guess you could figure that out but some people choose to only have one ring. i.e. Katie French.) I have pictures of it in it’s current unfinished state and will now proceed with showing them to you. Yay.

I’ll try to explain to you how the ring was made. I am doing this from memory and I really don’t know what the heck I’m talking about so keep that in mind.

– The ring is hand carved using some sort of Dremel tool grinding thingie that I like to imagine looks like a dentist’s drill. It is carved out of some sort of wax that is somewhat hard but quite fragile. The ring would look something like this. (I WOULD have a REAL picture of the REAL ring in wax but SOMEONE (Wendy) didn’t take a picture of it before the next step.) It’s ok, I forgive her. So I found a picture of what the wax looks like but ours was red.

– After getting the wax set. It is then placed into some sort of thingie where some sort of cement (I wish I knew what I was saying) is poured around it and left to harden.

– Next there is some sort of process where the wax melts out the bottom leaving a cement mold to be filled with gold.

– After the gold cools, the cement is broken to retrieve the ring so it becomes truly a one-of-a-kind.

– When the gold comes out, it looks all crude and nasty.

– You can see that the holes and grooves are still filled with the cement.

– You can also see where the gold had to be broken off from the “tree” like if you remember Transformers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, the weapons would come on a plastic tree (I’m informed that any Barbie playset does as well) that you had to break them off leaving a stupid plastic burr to be pointy and annoying. It’s like that only metal.

– Next step is to “tumble” it in what I like to think of as a rock tumbler for jewelry. Wendy says that I’m about right with that description. The point of this is to clean it up and remove the remaining cement and to smooth it out a bit.


– After that, it gets polished up and sent off to have the diamonds set and *boom* you have yourself a hand made ring.

I’m sure that if I missed a step or have something completely wrong, Wendy will tell me and I’ll change it. But that’s what I know about the ring making process.

I’d now like to point out something that Trista and I thought was an extra special touch that Wendy added. If you’ll notice that on the wedding band there are little diamond shapes just like the one on my tatoo.

[We REALLY thought that was cool]

Now there’s a story about how I gave this second ring to her. Wendy had been working on this ring for almost 2 months and we were in no real hurry to get it. We then made plans to have Trista dropped off to visit her family before Thanksgiving on my way to New York. I thought that it would be nice if she could have her ring to take with her and show her family. I talked to Wendy and she told me that it would be a nightmare but it could possibly be done but we wanted to keep it a secret from Trista. Actually, I think that Wendy was more excited about the idea of surprising her than I was. So I had Trista ask Wendy (not knowing that I had already made arrangements) about weather or not she could get her ring in time. Of course, Wendy said there would be NO WAY it could be done. So according to Trista, that was that and she didn’t think about it again after that.

Earlier in the evening of the day we left for New York, Trista had to drive up to Fenton to give Marlena and Travis their painting that she did for them, so I went and secretly picked up the ring and made it back home acting as if I had never left the house. Now from this point on I had the ring in my pocket and I wanted to have a silly second little engagement story since the first one was… well… read and you’ll see. (Here’s the original engagement story)

We ate dinner like nothing was going on and during, I kept bringing up little things about weddings and proposal stories (like our friends Amy and Taylor) and stuff like that to get her to start talking about it. While she was packing for the trip, I came in the bedroom and said, “Man, you know what would have been awesome? If I had secretly picked up the ring for you to have before we went away.”
“Yeah.” She said, continuing to pack and not really giving it a second thought. And I continued to go about my business of packing and getting ready. Then I came back in the room and said, “Yeah, you know how you think of doing something after the fact wishing that you had done it. Like when you get in a fight and think to yourself that you should have said this or that.” And she sort of looked at me like I was retarded and continued on. I then came back into the room a final time and said, “Yeah, wouldn’t it have been awesome if Wendy had worked like crazy to get the ring done by today and I had gone to meet her today while you went to Marlena’s. And wouldn’t it have been awesome if during dinner I would have brought up awkward conversations about weddings and proposals. And wouldn’t it have been awesome if I had secretly had your ring in my pocket all night and then during the time when you were packing, I came in and started making no sense about ‘I should have done this or that’. And wouldn’t have been awesome if I had come into the room and knelt down (as I’m saying this I’m kneeling down) and opened up this box (as I pulled out and opened up the ring box) and said “Will you marry me?”

Now I thought this was very clever and afterward so did Trista, but at the time she was sooOOOooo excited to see I had gotten the ring that she snatched it out of the box and ran it over to the lamp to get a good look at it. Leaving me in the middle of the room still on my knee with an empty ring box. I said “HEY! It’s not about the ring, it’s about the fact that I gave it to you.” She laughed and came back to me and gave me a hug (while I like to imagine still looking at the ring on her finger over my shoulder). It was a nice moment and I told her how Wendy worked on it with little to no sleep for 2 straight days just so Trista could take it to New York with her.

So now I have 2 engagement stories (sort of) and the second was better than the first but both are just like us, we like to ruin tender moments with awkwardness because neither of us really know how to act in serious situations. So that’s what WE do

Painting and Moving

Painting and Moving

As you know, we moved into a new apartment, or “Town House” since I want it to sound better than it actually is. I was on vacation all last week and spent most of that time organizing and unpacking. As far as the move itself, it completely sucked. I would like to thank everyone that helped us out though. Ryan (hernia and all) & Katie, (thanks to Katie especially who helped out with the move as well as the two days prior painting) Tim A. & Megan, (who barely know us and helped out till the bitter end) Marlena & John (who helped us the 1st half of the day, which is the worst part), My mom and Bob (we couldn’t have done it without you guys, Mom, was packing inside and coming up with lots of little helpful ideas while Bob was in charge of packing the trucks), Ben (who put in 2 days of hard labor, since we had to go back the next day and fill up the Suburban and trailer for the second time, but the only help we had that day was Ben and we worked for over 12 hours, then he had to go to school the next morning for his first day of high school).

At first I thought that we would certainly have enough room in the truck since I got the 17′ one that the U-HAUL web site recommended for someone with 2 bedrooms. What I didn’t know is that they couldn’t have been more wrong. Turns out, that even with the moving van, and my parents’ Suburban pulling a trailer, we still had to go back for another load. I should have paid the $10 more and gotten the 24′ truck. Next time I’ll know, right? NOPE! Next time I will be hiring a local moving company doing it and neither myself nor anyone I know will have to move anything I own again. I hated every second of it and I’m pretty certain that so did everyone that helped out.

I don’t want to forget to thank Steve and Darren for their help with painting. We spent 2 days painting the living room, bedroom, kitchen, office and bathroom. That part went well until it was time to pull off the masking tape. Apparently you’re supposed to pull it off as the paint is still wet but we couldn’t because we needed to do several coats of each color. So, when pulling the tape off, it took the paint with it. It looked like we didn’t even use tape at all. Actually, it looked worse because it pulled the paint off like you’d pull a latex glove off after giving a body cavity inspection. Stretching and pulling and, oh my, it was awful.Other than that it was great.

Ryan just found out 2 days before moving day that he has a hernia and that he couldn’t help lift anything. But he still helped by moving little stuff and bigger items that he didn’t have to strain himself carrying. In addition to these tasks, I assigned him the official photographer of the event. I think he took some pretty good shots.

I’m Engaged

I’m Engaged

Well, I’ve finally chosen to make that permanent commitment to someone. I am getting married. I’m pretty happy about it actually.

I started thinking about it after Trista’s dad had a little conversation with me at Christmas in New York. He prefaced it by saying how much he likes me and that he hopes I stick around for a while. After that he looked me sternly in the eyes and said, “But I’m not happy with your living arrangements.” And sort of gave me the stare-down for a minute or so. He then quickly followed up with, “If I at least knew you guys were thinking about getting married or something, it would make me feel a little better about things.” It made me really think.

Now, Trista has been living in Michigan with me for exactly a year and things are pretty much absolutely perfect. We get along better than anyone could hope to and we just have a great time together. I’ve been thinking about proposing since January, and seriously contemplating how and when since May. For the past few months I have been acting very uninterested in the hopes of surprising her. Every time she would mention marriage or weddings, I would act as if I never wanted to get or be married. In fact, I started to fear that I was scaring her away. I mean, everyone knows by now that I have been in serious relationships in the past that have lasted WAY longer than Trista and I have been together, and I did not end up married then, nor did I even come close.

So this completely shocked the heck out of her. I’ll tell you how it went down….

We were at our campsite on Monday at camp (during the first annual Young Adult’s Program Yeeee haw) right before service. We were just sitting there alone and with out preamble or warning, I said, “So… you wanna get married?” She thought I was joking but still started getting red in the face and didn’t know what to do with herself. After a slight bit of silence she then collected herself but I continued, “To… me?” She giggled a little as I fumbled for the ring that I was to give her. The ring is sort of special in the fact that it was left in my semi truck at least a a year and a half ago, maybe two years, I’m not sure. I put it on a chain and hung it up on my visor where I could see it and have it remind me of her everywhere I went as I trucked across America. So I used that ring and it made it sort of meaningful.
So, then I got it off my key chain and held it out to put it on her finger, but she, for some reason, didn’t think I was going to put it on and said as if she were being insulted, “You can’t just hand it to me.” To winch I jokingly snapped, “I’m waiting for your finger!” It was silly, and it was neat.

After that I told her that I love her and we hugged and she, still not knowing what to do with herself, started to cry. We walked to service and no one knew what had happened or anything. It just looked like Trista had been crying for some reason. After service we went and told everyone that we knew, and news spread so fast that people we hardly knew were congratulating us as we walked around.

I chose camp as the place to do it since that’s where we met and it also marked one year since Trista moved here and we decided to give this thing a try. She wasn’t expecting a proposal for at least year but I can’t see what another year would give us. I don’t think I could be happier about the whole thing.


Yeah, you're right, we DO look great together.

Yeah, you’re right, we DO look great together.