The Corey Wedding

September 1994

This article is part of the PPSA Online Magazine
by John Johnson
Volume 7 Number 2 - Winter 1994

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[Rambling Prelude]

(Skip the rambling prelude...)

Everything seems to be connected. I'm not sure exactly what memories are. The scientist would explain it in terms of cells and synapses, gaps and connections. A complex learning system able to store memories as patterns; a neural net. All I know is how I feel. How a smell seems to bring back a memory of a dream. The past all seems to mix together into a dream. Maybe it's a matter of growing older and having your memories grow older with you. I would expect that as I get further away from a given event - a birthday or my days in elementary school, that they would blur together. Some things I remember clearly, like they happened just yesterday. Others just fade away entirely. Gone forever, unless someone had a camera to record it. And then there are the memories that are memories of memories, changing with time. In time they change in an imperceptable way, like a very slow game of operator that I play with myself. I might extend this in an attempt to understand the collective memory of large groups of people; like how a country remembers a war or a disaster as a function of time. But, then I'd be digressing, and talking about something I really don't know anything about. I do know how I feel. That I can talk about.

Another aspect of my memory is the way that I connect the input to my senses, my sight and sense of smell, and the way I feel, to past events. The most striking is when I relate a feeling to a dream or ideal. By that I mean that sometimes I will see something - it could be for the first time, or a combination of mundane things - and it triggers an image of something I know I've never seen. I often write it off as being due to too many hours of television, but for as long as I can remember, back before kindergarden and pre-school even, I have had these feelings. How can I have memories of places and people that I've never seen. How can something new feel so natural. Sometimes I will see fog rolling down off the mountains, and feel that I've seen that same sort of thing on a thousand other days. My subconcious brain seems to have recorded both real events, dreams and something else. It's as though my brain has been genetically pre-programmed to desire certain things. To feel comfortable in a certain setting. To remember things that never happened. To act out a script that I have little or no control over. Do other people coast through life like this too, as mere subroutines in some greater program?

In a way I can believe this... in some grand sense. Clearly people have an innate nature, but do the genetic codes that make us unique also pre-determine our destiny? I might discuss here the implications of this on human genetics research, but then again I would be digressing into an area in which I have no real knowledge.

Sometimes I feel like I have lived before. The way that I view the world, as though I have a diferent perspective than other people. As though events through one or many past lives have influenced my memories, my perception. The veil through which I view life is at best cloudy. I have shrouded visions of mountains and jungles and masses of people, of power and death and vast kingdoms. I sometimes feel that I have traveled widely and seen so much more through other, older eyes than I have in this limited lifetime. I sometimes feel empathy for a thousand souls, and I sometimes feel tired, like I've lifed a thousand lifetimes. I think I feel this way, but I usually only come to this conclusion in retrospect.

Is it strange to feel that way? I don't feel that I have delusions of grandeur. In fact I get the gut feeling that if I've lived before, I've led many lonely, pointless lives. Maybe after we've lived enough - repeating the process of being born, growing up and dying - we start to realize what's happened. Is this the way Shirley McClaine feels? I haven't talked about this before, and haven't ever been to a mystic, despite living 40 miles north of Santa Fe. I don't believe in Astrology, and have never had my palm read. But I get the impression that the human soul is interweived in the fabric of space and time in a unique way. It may be impossible for us to understand this unless we can somehow step back and view it objectively. Then again, maybe it is just dreams. Television and dreams, mixing with faded memories of childhood. Still, as I traveled back to Michigan for my Sister's wedding, I couldn't help but think about this, as sunsets and dirt roads triggered memories of a past I've only dreamed and a childhood that seems so far away.

Journal Entry: Wed, 7 Sep 1994 15:30

Another road trip? It's about time. I've been getting a little tense at work and my sister's wedding seemed like the perfect opportunity to take some time off. I decided that I would spend two weeks in Michigan. I'm writing this as I go, so I don't know what's coming up. I think it will be a good trip.

My shoulders hurt. I packed my carry-on bag with the powerbook and a few other things. Somehow the weight has multiplied, like the time I was 16 and decided to take weights to Mackinaw Island. I wanted to work out then, so that I would be noticed and asked by Christopher Reeve to be in the movie he was making. It didn't work then - it only gave me a sore arm from carrying the bag.

I know that I am working out hard these days, but I didn't add anything that wasn't necessary. I did pack some groceries, some extra Hatch Hot Picante Sauce (they don't have decent Mexican food in Michigan). Oh yeah, then there's the 34 oz. of water. Toiletries. A loaf of sourdough-jalapeno bread for Ray. And some paper and notes in case I get around to doing some work that is past due. It feels like a lot more when I've got it hanging from my shoulders though. At first it hurt my arm, then I noticed the handle was coming loose. I sure surprised the shuttle bus driver at the airport in Albuquerque though! I decided to take an extra suitcase so I'd have extra room for the way back. While I was lifting the big bags (to avoid having to tip this guy) he was nice enough to attempt my carry-on bag. He gave a good tug on the handle and his shoulder moved, and the handle moved, but the bag remained firmly rooted to the ground. "Oh yeah," I said. "That bag's a bit heavy." That's when the handle broke and I had to resort to carrying the bag by the shoulder strap. The bus driver felt so bad that he would probably have declined a tip, even if I had offered him one.

Sorry about that boring regression, but carry-on luggage seems to always be more of a hassle than it should be for me. Maybe I'll save that topic for another story.

So... packing was uneventful, I used the "pile it in the suitcase and make it fit just before leaving" method. I gassed up the Beretta and had a leisurely drive to Albuquerque. I was able to drive confident that all known murder-spree felons were safely in custody. I stopped by the bookstore and bought a book about Alexander the Great, as told by his Persian eunech. (I felt a strange affinity to the eunech for some reason. Maybe this was because I had chosen physics as a career, and I lived in a town full of Ph.D.s and no women.) I then stopped by the mall and picked up a pair of jeans that had both pockets and were free of fashionable holes (all my other jeans are getting threadbare.) Then I headed over to the ABQ airport. I was an hour and half early! I guess that tells you how much I was looking forward to this trip - I usually walk onto the plane as they are pulling away from the gate!

The flight to Denver was a little bumpy. The flight crew was based in California. My first clue to their origins was the female flight attendent who was named Cosmo. The pilot was named Trojan. Needless to say, there was no partying on Flight #1661. It was just long enough to give me a chance to start to sleep before I was awoken by the flight attendant.

I'm writing this part in Denver. I have to go board the next leg of my flight now - if they let me! They have loaded on what looks like all the U.S. Mail for the East Coast, and they are worried that they may have too much weight to take off. I'm almost certain my carry-on bag will put them over the limit.

Journal Entry: Sat, 10 Sep 1994 22:00

I've got the SLIP connection working back to Los Alamos, so I can check my e-mail. In fact I just logged out. I heard from Kevin Flynn today, and will have to get him to write up an article for the next issue. Anyhow, it's about my bedtime, as I am slowly adjusting to the Eastern time zone. I have to write up the past 3 days. Good for me not too much happened!

My plane did leave Denver without any problems from the weight and altitude, we just rolled a little further on the runway and took a little longer to get to 35,000 feet. The trip was nice and I had a chance to briefly talk to an attractive (married) woman who was in my seat. We left a few minutes late, but the DC-10 was being piloted by someone with a good Judeo-Christian name and we arrived in Chicago on schedule.

In Chicago I met up with Ray. He walked with me to the gate for my next flight, and, since I had a two hour layover, we found a resturant and had dinner. Ray ordered a Long Island Iced Tea, claiming that he hadn't had one of those since he was last with me and Raman. I had a lite beer and we talked about politics, gun control, personal freedom, and the lack of jobs for new physics Ph.D.s. Soon the two hours were up and Ray watched as I borded a small prop plane which would take me to my parent's house.

My sister, Kathy the bride, picked me up and dropped me off at my parent's house. The next morning she returned to wake me up at 10AM. I was thinking it was a couple hours earlier (which it was in New Mexico), but she wanted to do some shopping and get lunch with me in Petoskey, so I quickly showered and dressed. I was in fear for my life a few times because her driving was so similar to my own. It was sure different being in the passenger seat for a change.

Kathy grabs a ham sandwich for lunch with big brother John.

It is nice to be back home in Michigan, especially in the summer. I have come home for Christmas for the past few years, but I have missed out on the great summers here. The daytime temperature is warm and the trees are full and green. There was more rain this year than in the past weveral years and it is evidenced by how thick the forests are. My Dad had trees cut in the woods behind our house about 10 years ago. This year the forest has filled in with trees and undergrowth like it had been in my youth. A lot of childhood memories have been rekindled. I have a dog, Max, around again. My sisters are around, although Kathy has her own house now and Jenny is at Central Michigan University in graduate school. My Dad still has me conscripted to hard labor. Not really, I've helped him with some shoveling and fixing up the place, and I should really help my Mom get ready for the wedding. But all in all, it's nice to be back home. The lakes look beautiful, the view from the hilltop where my parents live has an awesome view - one that I had almost forgot. Of course I won't forget this trip. I brought my camera, and I plan on using up a lot of film.

The Johnson's front yard overlooking Crooked Lake.

Friday was pretty uneventful. I helped around the house, since there were a lot of preperations for the wedding. I did some more shopping and bought groceries so that I could fix a genuine New Mexican batchelor's dinner for my family. Since I woke up at 10AM again, the day went pretty fast.

Saturday (today) was also uneventful. Gee, not much going on yet! But it was restful. That is after I shoveled gravel and sand and helped my Dad put in a new sidewalk. I was supposed to have a date today. Kathy said she knew a woman about my age (I pictured white hair and a walker) who was attractive and wanted to meet me. Of course, she backed out. This was OK with me, since I was clearly out of practice and more than a little bit intimidated. So instead, I got the back room set up as an exercise room, and I cooked another meal for the family. I've been practicing with no/low fat cooking, and my family was the perfect test group. The bridal shower was today, and since I'm not a girl, I didn't attend. Neither did I choose to go to the batchelor party. I just didn't feel that the bride's brother would quite fit in with a bunch of rowdy guys he didn't know who were 10 years his junior. I did read some more of my new book, and made plans with Raman for next week. Raman sounded pretty busy this weekend. He went to the Rolling Stones concert at MSU on Friday. Today he placed third in his age group for a 5k race, and he had tickets to the Wharton production of Evita. I took a hot bath.

Journal Entry: Sun, 11 Sep 1994 19:50

Today I met up with Kathy - who actually spent the night, and we drove down to Traverse City to go malling. She needed to pick up some gifts for the bridesmaids, and a few other things for the wedding. The trip down took about an hour and a half. I was patient and helped her shop. She used me as a model for her fiance, when she needed to buy him a sport coat, which was nice. I decided to wait and buy myself more clothing when and if I ever drop the few inches I want to! That is assuming that I make decent progress when I get back to Los Alamos. I have a goal to get to in two months. As much as I try, there are just too many snacks and good things to eat around here. In Los Alamos I keep the cupboard bare, but that's just not the case at Mom's! I rationalize that it would be rude to refuse food that a caring relative (or fast food cashier) offers. Anyhow, the clothes that I wanted from American Eagle weren't in stock. They advertised certain shirts that they don't seem to even cary. On the trip home I mostly slept. Since Kathy was tailing a group of cars who weren't keeping their speed up, that was probably the best thing to do.

Journal Entry: Sun, 18 Sep 1994 9:10

"Stupid Is As Stupid Does"

[I'm writing this as we drive out of Petoskey on our trip back to Lansing. So once in a while I will add a parenthetic comment. Just so you know.]

This past week just flew by. In some cases litterally. On Monday, Kathy helped me clean the house. Same for Tuesday. The Johnson household needed a good deal of cleaning and throwing out of old junk. No matter how much you clean in the house, it always seems to get cluttered back up again. The best thing I can do, now that I've taken everything of mine, is to just visit less frequently. My more menstrual sister, Jenny, gave me shit because I didn't go through all the old boxes and throw out everything that might have once been mine. I don't know that I could do that if I had a 2 month vacation instead of 2 weeks. She really pissed me off, and I threw a milkcrate through her bedroom wall. Well, actually only partway through. That was on Friday - I guess I'd gotten a little tense in those 10 days before the wedding. At least I wasn't getting married!

So on Tuesday, Raman drove up from Lansing. He and I took Kathy to Mackinaw Island on Wednesday. Which was probably a good idea, since it seemed to keep her mind off the impending nuptuals. The ferry across to the island was very windy, and I imagine it would be similar to riding in a convertable with Kathy driving. Needless to say, we walked around the Island with real cool hairdos that day.

Mackinaw Island, Michigan.

I hadn't been to Macinac Island since 1982, when I took my senior class there for our senior trip. We'd stayed at the Grand Hotel - a massive and beautiful old hotel on the island. The Grand Hotel has become quite a popular tourist attraction. In part, because of it boasts the worlds longest porch - a lovely long veranda with a beautiful view of the Straits of Mackinac. Back in 1982, I was able to get a room, with the famous banquet meals included, for only $60 per person. The rooms didn't have a view, but we had a great time. Now, in 1994, the best price they had for the "shoulder season" was $120 per person.

We walked around the island and took a lot of pictures. The fog was heavy when we first arrived, we couldn't even see the island until we pulled up to the dock. After a couple hours the sun started to show itself. The air was still pretty cold though. We had lunch at a little resturant that looked good on the outside. They were having a stacked ham sandwich special and we thought we'd try it. It ended up being a dive, and the sandwiches tasted like they'd come out of a vending machine and were microwaved. Since Raman, Kathy and I had all worked in the foodservice industry at one time or another, we felt we were well qualified to critique the food and service. The waiter, who didn't know if we were supposed to get fries or salad with the special, couldn't even figure out how to run a credit card. After lunch we went fudge hunting.

I don't know why or how fudge became the food most identified with this island, but it did. Likewise, and somewhere along the line, the tourists (mostly from downstate Michigan) became known as "fudgies". We tried all the fudge shops, and most of them gave free samples. We didn't need the fat or calories, but enjoyed our free fudge samples. Eventually, after some more photography, we bought a few pounds of the sweet confection. Raman and I wouldn't let Kathy have any on the island, and she got very angry with us. Everything went back to normal after she ate a pound on the drive back home.

[(dead skunk!) "Ah, clears the sinuses," says Raman]

Wednesday evening we set up Kathy with some wedding software on her Mac. Actually, I did the software installation and Raman watched 90210. Kathy was busy with cleaning and fretting and so she won't know how to use the software we installed, but I'm sure she'll call once the stress from the wedding is gone. At some point Chad came home from work. Kathy had, of course taken the week off, but Chad was working two jobs. Kathy started off by telling Chad that he had to do dishes. He rightfully ignored her and proceeded to shower. The shower was situated in the living room, essentially. Good thing Raman was watching his soap opera and missed Chad drying off. I was still in the "computer room" and missed this fun. Later, when the two lovebirds went upstairs, I heard loud banging and thumping noises. It sounded like Kathy was beating Chad with a stick, or a slug of fudge or something.

On Thursday, Raman and I cleaned some more and went to the dump. I also had to get a haircut and try on my tux at the store. Just to finish the cleaning, we scrubbed some window screens, and then I decided to strip down and become Sod Man, to sod a section of the yard. I think I got most of the spiders and slugs off of me in the shower. I drove Kathy and Raman (the photographer) to the high school where we picked up Chad's 15 year old brother, Cheyne (pronounced Shane). Cheyne was pretty cool. He was a typical 15 year old smartass, and we joked about him sagging his tux pants, like he did with his beltless jeans. The tux that Cheyne had looked great on him. Mine looked more like a tent on me. I usually buy a size 52 suit coat. It's because I have massive, mutant shoulders. The rest of the suit usually needs extensive tayloring, since my waist, as girthful as it may be, is more than a good 10 inch drop from my shoulders. After dropping off Cheyne at his friend Don's house, I walked to a hair salon and the attractive woman proceeded to thin out my bushy head of hair. It was great to have an attractive woman running her fingers through my hair, even if I did pay her to. We picked up some fake Kaluah and prepared for a night of Seinfeld. I rode the exercise bike and watched Seinfeld - the last and best episodes of the season. Before the second episode, Clinton came on and rambled about how we need to invade Haiti. I guess the boys in the military are looking a little too pale and need the sun.

Friday started off with me blowing up at my demented sister. That put me in a pretty bad mood for the day. Eventually the rain stopped enough for me and Raman to drive to town. We stopped at a coffeehouse where Raman had the strongest double mint cappacino he'd ever tasted. It gave him more white hair - setting his system into adrenal overload. After I finished my Coke, I finished the last inch of sludge in Raman's cappacino. I needed the extra energy. After that we walked around the "gaslight shopping district" of Petoskey and ended up at the waterfront. We had to take an underpass that reeked of urine to get there. After that, it was almost time to head off to the wedding rehersal.

After rehersing, we drove to the Country Club for the rehersal dinner. The drinks were paid for, so Raman and I started off with Long Island Iced Teas. They tasted awful, but we finished them. For the next one, I had to go tell the bartender the right way to make them. The dinner was VERY slow in coming. Raman and I quite enjoyed our Chicken Marsala. The boys across the table, Chad's brothers Clay (18) and Cheyne (15) felt that their 2 inch prime rib steaks were too cold. They ate them alright, but did their share of bitching and moaning. They weren't used to real food and would probably have enjoyed Big Boy more. This was the start of the weekend of feasting that Raman and I were expecting. The previous few days we had been pretty good about avoiding meat and fat. Earlier that evening, an hour before the rehearsal, Raman made me go running. He ran about twice as far as I did, but I haven't run for years. I was and never will be a runner, but I might consider adding that to my routine eventually. This was hell though, and I'm still sore from it. We ran down my parents BIG hill and on the way home, back up it. I was impressed that I could actually run a couple miles. It still didn't make up for the way we abused ourselves with food and drink.

Kathy starts us off drinking at the rehearsal dinner.

Cheyne sees Kathy and joins in.

Aunt Sue, John, Mom and Jenny.

I was the mature and calming influence Friday night. That's why I convinced Chad and his brothers and the best man (Bob) and another friend (Tom) to go to Chad's house for drinking games. Kathy and the bridesmaids spent the night at a hotel, trying on clothes, fixing their hair and putting mud on their faces. I showed up with the first 12 pack of beer and soon after, Cheyne and I made a run for another two cases. We played the name game and got shitfaced. Cheyne, being 15, had his two beers and passed out on the floor. Us older guys stayed up watching movies and drinking until about 2 or 3AM. Then we all fell asleep on the floor. I woke up at 6AM with a great headache and I was freezing because the doors and windows were all open. I thought about stealing Cheyne's blanket, and decided to just drive to my parents instead. It was nice to get into a real bed. I got the groom drunk the night before the wedding and I felt my job was done.

The morning after the bachelor party.

Even Cheyne cleans up alright.

The Wedding

The groomsmen showed up at 1:00 in the afternoon. Kathy had us there much too early. So we waited for people to start arriving. Meanwhile, Cheyne and his friend Don wandered off. They got back just before the wedding started, which was good, since Cheyne was a groomsman and Don had my camera. Kathy really looked great. Everyone was dressed their best. The ceremony lasted a good 20 minutes and then it was over. My baby sister, who will always remain a little girl in my memories, was now a grown and married woman. Not necessarily an adult... but then again, neither am I. Kathy Johnson was now Kathy Corey.

The happy couple.

The bride and groom pose with the Johnson Family.

Raman and I both gave cash as the wedding gift. The newlyweds didn't have a surplus of cash for a honeymoon or anything, and there were lots of bills to pay. I guess they did go to the Mall of America in Minnesota for a honeymoon a few weeks later though. Our other gift was all the photography we did. We took many dozens of pictures and hope to get them developed before the next wedding we attend.

"Kathy, get out of there. Don't you know they charge by the hour?"

Of course, the wedding photos were held up because Cheyne and his friend Don had taken off again. They showed up about an hour late. Of course Don had his license taken away, because of too many tickets, and Cheyne was only 15 and wasn't old enough to drive.

The reception lasted a long time. It ended up being a beautiful day. The sun was bright. There was a breeze. And the country club had a beautiful view of the bay. A perfect day for a wedding. A day she could fondly remember.

After the reception, there was a party at my parent's house. The smokers stayed outside and the drinking and partying spread out everywhere. Raman and I were busy eating and drinking (I was sticking to Cokes!) and packing. There were quite a few interesting characters at the party. Cheyne didn't show up again. Well, he made it there about 2 and a half hours late. His Mom's boyfriend, Mark, wasn't very happy. At least no one got killed, but I imagine he'll be grounded for a while. Mark did a lot of yelling, but kept pretty restrained. I commented he looked a little like Ted Turner to Clay. Clay didn't know who Ted Turner was, but said he thought that Mark looked a little like the Marlboro Man. Of course, not being a smoker like most of the groom's construction buddies, I never thought of that.

The boys got pretty drunk outside, while the bride and groom opened presents inside. Quite a few family friends showed up, and the presents and money were in abundance. No way it could make up for the cost of the wedding, but that's for Dad to worry about I guess.

After the refined people left, the bridesmaids cleaned up the food and did a great job! A few of the boys remained. Tom told us about how he got arrested and needs to see the judge on Wednesday. Some guy named Dave was really wasted and was eating frosting and baked beans.

We were all bushed. It had been a long week. And, no little vacation at that! This had been more of a sabatical than a vacation. So Raman and I hit the sack and next thing we knew, it was Sunday morning. Kathy and Chad had gone off for a brief honeymoon at a nice local hotel. They both had work this coming week, and they couldn't go too far. Raman and I packed up the Subaru and hit the road early. Of course we were forced to take food with us. Despite my so-called diet, I didn't argue too much.

[Time to take a break at this nice rest stop, I'll be right back...]

[That's better....]

Well, we're almost to East Lansing now. I'll spend a couple days with Raman before heading back to New Mexico. It won't be enough to really rest or anything. I figure we'll hang out at Espresso Royale and the Peanut Barrel some. Maybe I'll help Raman install some new software on his Power Mac 7100.

Congratulations Kathy and Chad! Just stay together for a few years! I can't take another family wedding until I recover from this one, which should be at least the next Century!

Last Updated 04/13/95.© 1996 PPSA