Friday, October 29, 2010

Music from and inspired by the motion picture...

So a few years ago, I posted a little item on MySpace (yes, I was actually there, and no, before you ask, I am thankfully not active there anymore) that I called, "The Soundtrack to My Life." It is exactly what it sounds like. It took the idea from one of those horrible chain e-mails and and I put together a two-disc set of the songs that meant a lot to me, either for associative memories, or whatnot. I believe in the magical quality of music, and have known that music speaks to us in a way that nothing else can for a very long time. Leave it to music to evoke emotions. :)

After my wedding on Saturday, I was approached by no less than forty people (no kidding) that commented on our choice of music, both in the prelude and the service of the wedding, and also at the reception. So many adjectives were used, but what floored me, is that every comment was sparklingly positive. I have to say that I was surprised, given some of the music was very much secular, and not what I actually expected people to feel was appropriate for playing in a church, let alone a wedding. I guess when Kathryn and I made the list, the songs were appropriate choices for us, and in some cases, wry winks and nods to friends and family. So, for those who made it to the wedding, and for those who didn't, and just a little bit for Katy Lou and myself (OK, a lot), here is music from (and inspired by) the motion picture soundtrack to "Kathryn Oliver and Brad Venable Get Hitched."

1) Beatles - Here Comes the Sun
So neither one of us are Beatlemaniacs. At least not nearly as much as are friends of ours. But there's something about the timelessness of the Fab Four's music. It will endure as long as there are ways to play it. Why did we include it, though? Easy. I played it the first time Kathryn and I watched the sun come up together. It seemed apropos that memories of that sunrise also start our wedding. :)

2) Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat - Lucky
OK. We totally should have had this one locked in waaaaay sooner than we did. We have to give thanks to the duet competition episode of "Glee" for a last minute replacement. Guess we were lucky. :P

3) Beatles - I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Yup. That just happened. Two Beatles songs that aren't back-to-back in the first three songs. It reminded the both of us of our first date, when I swear this song was playing in my head as we were walking together in Half Price Books. It also played on the radio when we got back in the car after our meandering about with fingers interlocked. Yeah, like I was gonna leave that one out.

4) Embrace - A Glorious Day
These guys used to tour with Coldplay. Everything that I have heard from them, I've enjoyed. I thought this one was appropriate, so I played it for Kathryn. She immediately said, "Prelude."

5) Pixies - La La Love You
OK, music fans. Figure this one out. The band that, by all accounts, ushered in the alternative music era in the late 80s, and one of their songs are playing in church, at our wedding. Yes. It. Is. What's not to like about the Pixies? They freaking rule. And that has been one of the favorite things that Kathryn and I have done together, is watch these guys live at the Verizon in Grand Prairie. Oh yeah. This is a neat little whimsical song by a band that we both love. Now hate, haters. :P

6) Elizabeth McQueen & the Firebrands - Home to You
Who? Elizabeth McQueen & the Firebrands, that's who. It's time to play Six Degrees of Separation, OK? I love video games. And about 75% of the games I played growing up had music composed by a man named George Alastair Sanger, more commonly known as "The Fat Man." Fan of his for a long time, needless to say. And one day, like 5-6 years ago, I was looking for some music he did for a great game called The 7th Guest, and it's sequel, The 11th Hour (great music...really fun and creepy). I found it, and then, in typical "ooh, shiny" fashion, I clicked on one of those, "you like this...try this" links. And it was Elizabeth McQueen & the Firebrands. I listened. I liked. She covered some cool stuff from the 80s. I liked even more. So, I played "Home to You" for Kathryn, and she loved it. And that made me smile. Funny little connection, by the way...The Fat Man is Elizabeth McQueen's sister-in-law. And that's how I came to know her music. A total fortuitous circumstance. :)

7) Keane - Somewhere Only We Know
Ah, piano rock. How you have won me over recently. I think I first heard these guys at Live 8 five years ago. I loved the song, because it was one of those "things that we share" songs. I sang it to Kathryn one night, and that was enough for her. :)

8) Killers - All These Things That I've Done
This song is one of the most spiritual secular songs I've ever known. It also represents the eternal struggle that each of us have and how we should turn to God for guidance and comfort, yet still recognizes our fallibility ("I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier"). We love this song.

9) Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight
This song is one we grew up with. Hard not to include it. It kinda represents the end of the little play we put on with the prelude music...from wanting to hold Kathryn's hand on the first date, to declaring our love to one another, to creating memories together at events, to recognizing that God brought us together, to some moment in the future where we go out on the town, and one of us has to care for the other. Sounds good to us. :)

And that brings us to the ceremony.

1) Train - Marry Me
Well, duh. Except that this song is about a guy seeing a girl across the room at a coffee house, and daydreaming a wedding with her. Pretty much a perfect start. Our candlelighters (self-designated 'pyrotechnic artists') and grandparents came down to this one.

2) Orleans - Still the One
How perfect. Having both pairs of parents still with each other after all these years. Such a rarity nowadays. We felt that this song was absolutely perfect for their walk down the aisle.

3) David Foster - Love Theme from Saint Elmo's Fire
Yup, we're children of the 80s. ;) It just fit. don't remember it. Then go listen. I'll wait. See? You remember. It was our bridesmaids' entrance theme. Thank you, 1980s.

4) Lionel Ritchie & Diana Ross - Endless Love
No Richard Wagner. We went Bandit, Reynolds-style. This song will always make my breath catch in my throat from now on, because it will always be the song that let me see my bride for the first time. We thank you, Lionel Ritchie. Diana Ross thanks you, too.

5) Queen - You're My Best Friend
We wanted this since moment one of planning. Down to the cue and everything. It was truly our movie moment. The Hammond Organ intro played just as the pastor presented us for the first time, and as we descended the dais to hug our parents, we (almost) skipped down the aisle and into married life. It was the best moment of my life.

And finally, at the reception, time to party!

1) Queen - Bridal Chorus
Aaaaaaand the curveball! Right off of the soundtrack to "Flash Gordon," is Brian May's guitar solo that played as we arrived at the reception, as a wink and a smile to tradition, with a little flair of our own. :)

2) Scissor Sisters - Take Your Mama
Live 8 had some fun music. That's the first exposure I had these New York disco folks. It's campy, it's poignant, and it's what my Mom and I danced to. She actually knew it well enough to sing along. Don't think I'll tell her what the name of the band means. :P

3) Spyro Gyra - Catching the Sun
I'll be honest. Never heard this song before Katy Lou mentioned it to me after we struck out with like a dozen other possibilities for her and her father's dance. I listened to it, and thought it was bitchin'. Never listened to much fusion jazz. Now I think I will. It's still going to be the last time I held on to the last shred of my manhood, because Kathryn and I danced next...

4) Ben Folds - The Luckiest
No commentary, no snark, nothing to take away from the words that truly define my life before Kathryn. Just read:

I don't get 
Many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns
And stumbles and falls
Brought me here

And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face?
Now I see it every day
And I know

That I am, I am
I am the luckiest

Yeah. I cried like a baby with a wet diaper. I love you, baby. I know that I am the luckiest.

And finally, for real,  it's party time! The rest of our playlist follows without commentary:

1. Pixies - Wave Of Mutilation (2:04)
2. Roy Orbison - You've Got It (3:29)
3. George Harrison - Got My Mind Set On You (3:51)
4. Tom Jones - Sex Bomb (club mix) (3:29)
5. Cake - Short Skirt Long Jacket (3:19)
6. Head, Murray - One Night in Bangkok (3:55)
7. Muse - Starlight (3:59)
8. Van Halen - Hot for Teacher (4:44)
9. Pixies - Here Comes Your Man (3:21)
10. Jackson, Michael - Thriller (5:56)
11. Morris Day & The Time - Jungle Love (3:24)
12. Amii Stewart - Knock on Wood (3:57)
13. Kings of Leon - Taper Jean Girl (3:05)
14. Hellogoodbye - Here (In My Arms) (4:00)
15. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Dani California (4:43)
16. Devo - Whip It (2:37)
17. INXS - What You Need (3:35)
18. The Trammps - Disco Inferno (3:33)
19. Don Henley - All She Wants To Do Is Dance (4:30)
20. Bowie, David - Let's Dance (4:10)
21. Pixies - Here Comes Your Man (3:21)
22. The Committments - Mustang Sally (3:59)
23. Wax Audio - Stayin Alive In The Wall (Bee Gees vs. Pink Floyd) (3:16)
24. Sublime - Santeria (3:03)
25. Georgia Satellites - Keep Your Hands to Yourself (3:22)
26. Ted Nugent - Hey Baby (3:58)
27. Muse - Uprising (5:02)
28. Led Zeppelin - D'yer Maker (4:22)
29. Boney M - Rasputin (4:25)
30. Elvis Costello - Pump It Up (3:16)
31. Elizabeth McQueen & The Firebrands - Cruel to Be Kind (3:27)
32. Huey Lewis and the News - Power of Love (3:56)
33. K.C. & the Sunshine Band - Boogie Shoes (2:15)
34. Talking Heads - And she was.mp3 (3:38)
35. Blues Traveler - Hook (4:49)
36. Queen - Crazy Little Thing Called Love (2:43)
37. Simon, Paul - You Can Call Me Al (4:40)
38. Tom Jones & The Art of Noise - Kiss (3:30)
39. Spandau Ballet - True (5:38)
40. Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons - Can't Take My Eyes Off of You (3:32)
41. Depeche Mode - Policy Of Truth (5:14)
42. Prince - 1999 (3:39)
43. Otis Day & The Knights - Shout (4:22)
44. Monty Python - Always Look On The Bright Side of Life (3:24)
45. Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer (4:55)
46. Level 42 - Something About You (3:42)
47. K.C. & the Sunshine Band - Get Down Tonight (3:10)
48. Stealers Wheel - Stuck in the Middle (3:24)
49. Locksley - Slink (A Hymn) (2:03)
50. Dead or Alive - You Spin Me Round (4:28)
51. Thomas Dolby - She Blinded Me with Science (3:42)
52. MUSE - Supermassive Black Hole (3:29)
53. Wang Chung - Everybody Have Fun Tonight (4:17)
54. Wham - Wake Me Up Before You Go Go (3:51)
55. Lenny Kravitz - Just Can't Get You Off of My Mind (4:33)
56. Sir Mix-A-Lot - Buttermilk Biscuits (3:33)
57. Loggins, Kenny - Footloose (3:49)
58. Violent Femmes - Blister in the Sun (2:24)
59. Rocky Horror Picture Show, The - Time Warp (Club Mix) (5:36)
60. Kings of Leon - Use Somebody (3:50)
61. Weezer - Undone (The Sweater Song) (5:04)
62. Gap Band - You Dropped the Bomb on Me (3:56)
63. Grand Master Flash - Grandmaster Slice - Electric Slide (5:53)
64. Bay City Rollers - Saturday Night (2:56)
65. Tom Jones & The Cardigans - Burning Down The House (3:37)
66. Lauper, Cyndi - Goonies R Good Enough (3:28)
67. They Might Be Giants - Istanbul (Not Constantinople) (2:38)
68. Simple Minds - Don't You (Forget About Me) (4:20)

Needless to say, we were very meticulous with our music choices throughout. Connections to childhood, movies, college, concerts and coffee houses, in-jokes with friends....every choice was extremely personal and motivated by the magic of music to remind us of who we are and as a love letter to our lives before we met. The best part is that most of these will end up having brand-new memories associated with them: new memories of our new life meshed together as one. Thank you, music. Thank you for making our wedding day so special. Can't wait for you to enrich even more of our life.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Quote of the Day 10/18

Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music - the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself. 

- Henry Miller

Monday, October 11, 2010

So I haven't been slacking. I swear!

I have been writing more than I ever have in my life...consistently. This week, I started The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It's a truly uplifting experience so far, and I highly suggest it. It may change your life. Seriously.

Part of the regimen is to write three pages a day, in longhand. Now, to a guy who hated writing because I was ordered to write sentences as punishment when I was a kid. You know the stuff. Contrived crap like, "I will not get bored and incite the class to riotous behavior." Make a kid write that five hundred times and see if he becomes an author. It's just like coaches. Crappy coaches will make their charges run laps (or substitute appropriate venue due to sport type) to punish them is ridiculous. Let's not teach them that proper conditioning  is the aim, and not that it's a type of punishment. Give them something that they won't be doing every day as part of their sport as punishment. Like scrubbing a bathroom floor with a toothbrush. That would work...unless said brat ends up in boot camp. Oh well, live and learn. But I digress.

But back to writing. I have been physically writing for  four days, at three pages a day, and I feel so much better. And this isn't temporary. This is a lifestyle addition. It's going to help me free my creative side. And I do need it. There will be more about this book in future blogs, but for now, I'm written out. And I'm going to sleep. Goodnight, world. See you on the flip side.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Less stress...and kismet.

A sigh of relief. Now, all the logistics of the wedding are theory. Tuxedos and rehearsal dinner was the worry of the last two weeks, and I believe those have finally been put to rest. And yes, thankfully, Men's Wearhouse had something to fit my my fat butt, which was one of my concerns.

The whole depressing tuxedo fitting could have gone way worse, but the entire experience was lightened by Danny McMann, the poet and gentleman who guided me through the process. Want irony? Danny is a VO peep. Want more? He's a native Okie. It was like I was meant to walk into this store and meet a fellow traveler, whose attitude and energy made me feel so at ease. Kathryn was very happy that I actually had fun getting this necessary stress off of my back...thanks for being there, baby. It was really nice that you were there with me for a small moment of calm in this tornado of love.

It was nice to make an industry connection, and talk shop incessantly. We chatted about representation, people, we knew, and home back in Okie-land. It was really nice to say the word, "Checotah," and not have to qualify it with being associated with Carrie Underwood for someone to know where it was. Warms the cockles. It was also nice to chat about voiceover in a candid way, with someone who's a peer. Thanks, Danny. Hope we work together soon.

So I walk in dreading the inevitable, and I walk out with a spring in my step (which at my size is quite a feat, let me tell you), and a connection to home in my Rolodex (OK, so it's not my Rolodex. It's my phone...just go with the poetry of the moment). Cap that off with a pleasant night with my wife-to-be, and I have to say that tonight was just capital. Good night, world. Time to read and sleep. Catch you on the flip side.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


So I've been having trouble sleeping lately. My brain just seems to have so much trouble shutting off. Yes, I have a wedding to help bring together, and really trying to hunker down and get all the business side of the VO career lined out, too. Oh yeah. and audition somewhere in there, as well.

This week alone, I seriously fell asleep Sunday night thinking about whether I should hire a designer to make web assets for my website, or if I should learn a content management system like Drupal and do it all myself. Monday it was loaded with Pro Tools stuff from the  meetup and I was flat-out wired. Tuesday it was that I needed to make a list of everything I needed to finish this week. Tonight, it's looking at the list and realizing that I accomplished a lot today, but my list didn't shrink at all. That's what I get for adding to the list at the same rate I finish stuff. :P

I am dreaming in lists and rudimentary web page commands. If I don't outsource something soon, I'll be dreaming in code PDQ. The worst part of the dreaming is that I know things that I don't know in real life. It's maddening when you wake up and your mind has gone all tabula rasa.

If that wasn't bad enough, I wake up in passing gear. Susan Bernard called me Wednesday morning and I sounded like I was asleep. OK, I was asleep, but only because I sleep like crap. But as soon as she greeted me, my brain was already shifting into "what am I going to do today" mode. It's getting ridiculous. I'm about to take 1/2 of a Melatonin and pray that it kicks in ultra-quick.

So, I'm open to suggestions. It's stressing me out that I'm not resting, and it's audible in my recording. I've tried to read, but that doesn't work. I played chess on my Evo, but that was the dumbest idea yet. Yeah...let's calm down by playing a game of strategy. Smooth move.

Anyway, I have prioritized my list, and I do need some suggestions on art for my website. I've  bookmade backgrounds and logos for my custom Google Apps account, I made the masthead you see up above, and I have the design in my head of what I want my site to look like. I even have one of the most talented web programmers I've ever seen lined up. All that I need is the art. Just a few comic book styled drawings. Then I'm good to go. I bet I could even enlist some UX friends to help evaluate my design to see if it's viable. I just need the art. Kinda sad, huh?

Anyway...see what I mean about turning it off? OK. I'm going to lie down. Anyone have any suggestions, e-mail me or hit me up on Facebook.

Me fui. Night, all.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Life Lessons, part one

If you have been reading since my return to talking through the things I am most passionate about, I have been thinking through the changes in my life, and how the future will be affected. I seem to be busier than ever, but DUH, I'm getting married in under four weeks. Regardless, I have really enjoyed being really busy. It's good to be able to think, "Ah, crud. I didn't get XYZ done today, but I did do ABC." It's way better than getting to the end of the day and thinking, "Why didn't I get anything done today," and then rattling off a litany of justifications for getting nothing done. Which leads me to the start of what I hope to be a several-part blog series about life lessons. They are observations about the parts of my life that I learned the most. Good or bad. I don't know how many there will be, and I doubt they'll be in any order. I certainly don't think that they'll be sequential by any stretch of the imagination. I have the attention span of a gnat some days (who am you kidding...all days! -ed.), and I may just throw out a one-off here and there. Who knows, maybe this will be an ongoing series. At least it will be catharsis for the screwball things I've done to screw up my life at times, and hey...maybe you gentle readers will learn how not to succeed and avoid doing that. I've always said that if you can't serve to be a shining example, be a horrible warning.

Life Lesson 1: Don't feel the need to defend your ground.
That's just one of the bad habits that I have had to shake over the years. I think it has something to do with always feeling the need to justify my career choice to my family. I think it was a bad thing to fight with people over why being a voice performer was a good career choice. Seriously. I wasted so much time doing that. I wrote an article in the VoiceLympics 2009 program that was nothing but me thumping my chest justifying why I do what I do. Don't get me wrong. It was a good article, and it touches on a lot of the things that men specifically have to deal with in being in a career that isn't always consistent in pay and benefits. I think that the whole thing is the natural inclination of men to defend their honor, land, whatever from outside hostility...but I digress. This lesson is for everyone.

The fact is, we shouldn't be wasting our time defending ourselves in an industry where we post samples of our work and stick to the mantra of, "the demo says it all." When it comes to auditioning, I have been taught to make choices and stick to them, then leave the audition in the booth. Instead of fighting with people, I should have just done it, and ignore the naysayers, and thus, show them the consistency in success that was their main beef with VO in the first place. I mean, why am I talking to people for free when I should be talking to get paid! It sounds like I'm an advocate for Nike here, but the lesson learned is: Just do it.

I sometimes think philosophically about my career, and the hard lessons I have had to learn from putting myself in situations that have been detrimental to not just my career, but also my health, my sanity, and relationships with friends and family. Here lately, I have started to really think about the situations that led to bad times in my life. I figure, if I recognize the situation that led me in a certain direction, then I'll know to choose carefully when it happens. More of these lessons will come, and more of my foibles will too, I promise.

Friday, September 24, 2010

So it's nearly 5 A.M.

Why am I awake? Well, I've been pondering everything that I need to do. Not just the short list of stuff for the next day, like packing to visit my parents, filling up the car, or knocking out some auditions before I go. No, these things that I need to do are the deep things that a person thinks about when reality starts knocking on your door, ready to give you one of those "checks" that are so chic these days.

One month from now, I will be married. I waxed philosophically enough about that the other day. If you made it through the whole thing, congratulations. Your eyes probably needed eyedrops after that marathon. Kathryn has already put it in the scrapbook. Love that you did that, by the way, baby, in case you're reading. :) But I digress. As I so succinctly and Captain-Obviously put it, I will be married in less than a month, and certain things start becoming more important, and others, less so. All this because 'my' household becomes 'our' household. My 'needs' are thought of longer and harder...and then relegated to my 'wants.' My voiceover hobby is slowly transforming into my voiceover career. All because Kathryn deserves it. She deserves my best. Not half-assed. Sorry for offending anyone's eyes. It sounds better than half-cocked. And gets less Beavis-and-Butt-head-level-of-maturity remarks. But, again, I digress.

Kathryn is going to be my family in thirty days. Pfft to that. She's already my family. My heart is hers. Now it's about time that I gave something else of myself. My effort would be a good start. She's already done so much for me. She loves me for me. That's the most herculean task of them all, trust me. Nobody else in the world would love me for me that wasn't a blood relation, and the jury's out on some of those. The point is, I know that people look past faults and shortcomings when relationships are new, but after a while, those things can drag the relationship down, and I resolve never to make Kathryn resent me. I want to get all of my ducks in a row. I want to dot every I and cross every T. I want to succeed, more than ever before. Because she deserves me at my best. Forget that quote by Marilyn Monroe about handling her at her worst in order to deserve her at her best. That's crap. At least most people's interpretation is crap. That quote is a description of only one facet of true love: the acceptance of faults and loving them despite of it all. I think that quote is used by people as an excuse to be selfish, impatient, insecure, out-of-control, and hard-to-handle (the bad qualities Norma Jean mentions). Nowadays, it's worn like a red badge of entitlement. Nobody should ever feel that way about themselves, like that have a license to be a jerk and that they display it to everyone...then wonder why they're so lonely. These are just some of the things that Kathryn and I talk about, especially when we're playing the Date Night game that Steve Carell and Tina Fey play at the table in the restaurant. ;)

I think that finding the love of my life at age 32 was really good for me. For both of us. It's been the greatest galvanizing event of my life. In the last month, I have done more of the little things to make my voiceover career viable than I have ever before. Who knew that I just had to find my soulmate to kick my career in the pants. That and leaving Oklahoma. And surrounding myself with people that care about me, support me, and hold me accountable for doing the things to succeed. Kathryn, of course, but also people like Gene Vann, Susan Bernard, Holly Franklin, Erik Sheppard, Bob Souer, Cliff Zellman, Bob Bergen, my parents, my sister, and my aunt and uncle, Holly and Don Branch. These folks have really given me a new lease on life. Everyone in that short list has done something to make me a better person in the last month. Now I have to take all of the efforts of those wonderful people, and combine with my own effort, and create some beautiful synergy.

Wow. Another novel. Who'd have thunk it. Maybe I'll actually talk VO stuff next time. ;)

Thank you, Bob Souer, for the mention. That's what I mean when talking about accountability. He mentions me on Facebook, I write a blog post. :) And honey, I'm sorry. This one probably isn't scrapbook material.

Now, about that list...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

So, I'm back, with the story of the last four months...

Truth is, I never left. The business, that is. I left my family on May 16th of this year, hoping and praying that things would improve in my life. I moved to big, bad, Texas and hid out as much as I could so I wouldn't get hog-tied for being from Oklahoma. Turns out, people in the Dallas area are from about everywhere except Texas, so I was safe from what I thought was the inevitable roping. So I took the plunge and followed my heart, my dreams, and here's to hoping those things I wanted to improve would do just that.

Boy, have they ever.

Slowly, my VO work has steadily increased. I've dropped a few pounds. And most importantly of all, I met the love of my life. It's funny how things change when you least expect it. Seriously. I moved to Texas, and in the first week, I had like six new friends...and newfound confidence. I booked jobs. And it had been a while for that.

I worked outside in the Texas heat. Whoadamn. We joke about having five actual seasons in Oklahoma: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer...and August. And beware of the August humidity. Well, I think in four months, I have experienced three seasons: Summer, August, and August in the City. The old sayings about the concrete jungle are soooooo true. You could literally fry an egg on the concrete. But the point is, it's a new climate and I've dropped like twenty pounds since being here. I don't mind at all, by the way...because I have a wedding to shed pounds for.

Ah, yes. That other thing. The part where I met the love of my life. And no, poetic friends, I don't mean I started having a love affair with my work, although it's much easier to have a love affair with work when there's work to be had. But I digress. I met Kathryn Louise Oliver on July 2nd. She's a bilingual second grade teacher in Dallas, and is an Army Brat. Her dad was an Army Ranger and was in Panama helping toss Noriega out of power back in the day. Yeah. That scared me, too. What? Who's Noriega? The answer is Google. Here's a hint. He was chased of of his home by Rock 'n' Roll. That cool enough for you? Yup. Thought so.

Before any of you snarky people out there start talking crap, yes. I met her on the internet. We talked for a few days over instant messenger and the phone before we met in person. We met at Gloria's restaurant in Oak Cliff, just south and west of downtown. I think I've left her side twice in the two-and-a-half months since...the Fourth of July and the week she left Dallas for Mexico to be with her parents before I followed her down. Yup. It's been a wild and woolly time, and I have loved every minute. Since meeting Kathryn, I have signed a national client, put five thousand mile on my new car, and become a world traveler...well, maybe not a world traveler, but I did leave the United States for the first time. I think you'll let me have that one. ;)

Anywho, things are blissful...except for the wedding looming in the distance. We have been doing the things that most people do in a twelve-to-eighteen month span in a little more than five weeks. What's that, you say? I left out the details of our engagement? Well, silly me. I'll just have to tell you.

I guess that I pretty much have to tell you all the whole sordid tale. Just kidding. It's incredible. So that first weekend, we spent all of Friday and Saturday together. I'd say we had the equivalent of like ten dates those first two days before we parted ways for the holiday, since we both decided that we should be with our families for the 4th, no matter how much we wanted to be together. She came out to meet my aunt, uncle, and grandparents on Monday the 5th, spent two days there, and then we decided to drive back to Oklahoma to meet my Mom and Dad.

So we did. And so on the second weekend of knowing each other, we went. And 215 miles, four-and-a-half hours later, Mom and Dad met Kathryn. And they immediately saw what I saw in the time that Kathryn and I have known each other...that it was going to be the one with which I spent the rest of my life. I knew it was something special when my Dad pulled me into the garage the day we headed back and told me, "don't you screw this up." Thanks, Dad. :)

On the way back to Texas, a few phone calls from Kathryn's mom and dad moved things forward even more. It was decided rather quickly that they wanted to meet me. The one hitch? I needed a passport to meet them. Oh yes. Did I forget to mention that Kathryn's mom and dad are missionaries in Mexico? I didn't? My bad. OK. So Kathryn's mom and dad are missionaries in Puebla, Mexico. And they want to meet moi. So that meant that we had to get me a passport pronto, pardon the pun. Thank God for Dallas having a regional passport office.

So after a trip back to Texas, I met Kathryn's aunt, uncle, and cousins. I got the Spanish Inquisition from her aunt, and after an our of grilling, I was given a thumbs-up. :D In the days that followed, Kathryn and I talked about the plans for her leaving town to go to Hot Springs, Arkansas to visit her brother before school started. This quickly evolved into a her-and-I road trip to meet her brother. So on the third weekend of knowing each other, I was on my way to meet more family. But wait (with apologies to Billy Mays, may he rest in peace),  there's more. On the way out of town, I had to go to my passport appointment. On my birthday. Kinda weird, kinda surreal. It went off without a hitch, thank the Lord, and off we went to the Natural State  The weekend went swimmingly, and had a great time getting to know her brother, Bud.

We came back the following Monday, and started prepping Kathryn for her trip to Mexico. She would be gone for a whole week before I came down, assuming that I got my passport alright. I'll be honest. It tore me up something fierce. I was head over heels in love with this woman, and been away from her for one day since we met. This was a huge test. I was able to hold it together when I dropped her off at Love Field on Tuesday morning. As soon as I got back to the car, I could barely drive, I was crying like a baby so.

I have to stop right here for a moment and tell you something. It is very possible to get a passport UBER FAST in America, messed up as it is to travel sometimes. Remember that I went to an appointment to get an expedited passport on Friday, July birthday? Yeah. The same day I dropped off Kathryn at Love Field, I picked up my passport. For the uninitiated, that's two business days. So if you need a passport or renewal, it can be done on a quick turnaround, just so you know. The previous statement was brought to you as a Public Service Announcement.

So I got my passport on the Tuesday following my appointment. Will wonders never cease. So I was good to go to a week. Toughest thing I've done since I moved in May, lasting that week by myself. I volunteered to look after Kathryn's apartment while she was gone. I honestly don't think I could have ever made it without being there, seeing her beautiful face in the pictures smiling out at me. It made me feel a little closer to her, and not 1100 miles away and in another country.

So the week sucked. Then July 27th came. The day I was heading south. I have to say, leaving the country was a little scary. The morning I left, I was a walking disaster. I nearly forgot my nearly-brand-new EVO 4G in the car, and had to explain what all of my recording equipment was to the TSA folks, as well as what my CPAP machine was: "honestly ma'am, it's what keeps me yeah. It's pretty important."

So I made it to the Mexico City Airport. And it was, as my best friend said, "...interesting." That's a euphemism if I ever heard one. :P After panicking for about 15-20 minutes after clearing customs, my beloved arrived in a shower of kisses and hugs. Man, it was a long week. But we still had a ways to go before we could settle down. San Andres Cholula, Puebla was our destination. And that was two hours by bus, and thirty minutes by car. Talk about exhausting. Roger and Marcy (Kathryn's mom and dad), along with Bud (who had also come to visit) were there to pick up Kathryn and I from the bus terminal. It was a pleasant trip back, and settling in was wonderful. I just wish I could have even begun to understand how bad elevation sickness can affect a person. Holy moley. I was in Mexico for two weeks, and I think I had just begun to really get used to the elevation...just in time to leave. Ah, well. Que sera sera. Yeah, I know. I deserve the dirty pun looks. :P

Anyways, Mexico was an incredible experience. Socially and culturally. The marketplaces, the pottery, the food, the sights...all of those things were chronicled pretty well in my pictures on Facebook. Then there were the other bonding moments with Roger, Marcy, and Bud. Like watching The IT Crowd all together in the living room. Nothing like Americans watching British humor in Mexico, I tell you. It just seems to bring people together. That and sharing a Cuban cigar with your girlfriend's dad, who happened to be formerly of Army Special Forces. Thank God for tobacco. It breaks down walls. (Just kidding. There were really never any walls.) But boy, that cigar was a good way to ease into asking Roger for his daughter's hand in marriage. I'm old-fashioned like that. Result of a good upbringing. Thanks, Dad and Mom.

So yes, I asked Roger for permission to marry Kathryn. And with no reservations, he said yes. I hadn't asked Kathryn officially as of yet, and Roger and I talked about Kathryn and I doing a pre-marital counseling course  with he and Marcy. Now I know what some of you are thinking. "Is he ever going to stop talking?" Noooo. The other thing. "That is pretty confident, to do pre-marital counseling with your future father-in-law." And some of you would be right. The moment that Kathryn walked into Gloria's on July 2nd, I just knew she was the woman I was going to marry. So when Roger suggested the counseling, I said yes without hesitation.

So I told Kathryn about it, and she agreed about as quickly as I did. We went through the course and came through with flying colors. In fact, Roger and Marcy said that Kathryn and I were the most compatible couple they had ever counseled. That felt good. So amongst all the elevation sickness, and adventures in the city and country, with new cultural experiences and some familiar places, it just felt magical enough to pop the question. So, late on Sunday, August 8th, after a couple of especially funny episodes of The IT Crowd (like there's a single episode that isn't), I turned to Kathryn, got down on one knee, and in the middle of her mom and dad's living room, in a foreign country, I asked Kathryn to be my wife.

Breath caught in both our throats, tears were shed, and finally, a "yes" broke the silence. Kisses, hugs, and laughs followed while it sunk in that we were engaged. I called my best friend, because we promised to tell each other before we proclaimed it to the world on Facebook. We shared a couple of laughs and congratulations followed. We then agreed to get together as soon as we got back. I then called my Mom and Dad to tell them the good news. They were ecstatic to hear the news, and as I expected, my mother immediately wanted to start making plans to help with the flowers and decorations, crafty person that she is.

To be honest, the whole thing probably could not have gone off any better. The rest of the story is pretty much like this: we enjoyed our last day in Mexico and came back on August 10th, me in the morning, Kathryn in the evening. I had cleaned her apartment and stocked it with groceries before her flight came in, and kisses and hugs abounded again when she hit the tarmac. The news of our pending nuptials reached far and wide, thanks to the power of Mark Zuckerberg. We set the date for October 23rd, simply because we couldn't wait. And it was the most convenient time for our entire family, even Roger and Marcy, who will be in the States for three weeks in October, and it happened to fall (by design) on the week of Fall Break for Mom, who is a Reading Specialist for a school district back in Oklahoma.

Things have been churning along pretty well. Kathryn and I have been knocking out plans for the wedding pretty quickly. It's actually pretty amazing that things have fallen into line as well as they have. I think God is really on our side, and he's making things move along really well. Thanks to Him and the generosity of friends, neighbors, and of course, family. Without all of them, none of this could come together, what with Kathryn back in school every day, and me churning out VO stuff on a daily basis. It's been six weeks since we've returned from Mexico different people than when we left, and yet, things are wonderful. Thank you so much to all of you out there who have wished us well, sent gifts, and agreed to witness our wedding. We can say sincerely that we wish you could all be there. Our is a small venue, and we're going to be hard-pressed to squeeze in 150 people, wedding party and all. But we are having several get-togethers in the coming weeks for anyone who wants to come and see us and meet me (for Kathryn's friends and coworkers), and to meet Kathryn (for my friends and colleagues).

So there you have it. The story of our whirlwind romance. I know there were details left out, but hey. It was a novel enough without them. :)

All the best to you and yours, friends. May the best of your past be the worst of your future.

Warmest regards,