Like some sort of bipedal gopher, most of my childhood was spent moving one pile of earth from a primary location to a secondary one. My parents claimed that I was helping them dig their version of a Cambodian villager’s garden, right in the heart of a famously tropical land called Texas. This garden’s main purpose was to cultivate plants previously only seen in their native land. And perhaps, the airport’s customs trash bin labeled “invasive species.” I harbored doubts, though. I just figured we were digging our way back to the motherland. Like every child who’s raised in the “migrant working conditions” method, breaks were only given to do homework, and to feed the animals which constituted our backyard version of Noah’s Ark. Peeing and bathing were considered leisure activities and saved for three-day weekends.
Since my parents are loyal subscribers to the idea of raising children in the ways of the old country, we were regularly gifted a seemingly endless supply of pet fowls to feed, chase after and subsequently pretend we didn’t eat. A covey of quails was the fowl du jour in the summer of ’96. They promptly vanished and left us with a disappearance mystery unheard of since The Lost Colony of Roanoke. Chickens and ducks came clucking into our hearts and ultimately our stomachs. But the most memorable pet fowls were the roosters. For many years, in the late 90s, our roosters were the unofficial assholes of our neighborhood. And the adjacent neighborhood, as well, come to think of it. Like clockwork, those birds were up at dawn and on a mission to awaken the dead, or at the very least, the sleep deprived.
Like our pet roosters, of yesteryear, I am a creature of habit. I walk the same route, in the morning, for coffee with the same dog and the same husband. My order rarely varies from my usual 16-ounce coffee with skim. If I’m drinking something different, it’s because the barista messed up. It’s hard to mess up a cup of coffee with a splash of skim, but she’s a woman of many talents. Pouring liquid caffeine into a paper cup just isn’t one of them.
The car radio’s volume is always set at an even number, or one that is divisible by the number five. Sometimes, enterprising individuals attempt a game of “Amateur DJ Hour” with my vehicle’s volume levels, but they’re usually never heard from again. Once I find an equation that works, I keep repeating it like a Taylor Swift song on FM radio.
I have a set of life equations, that I pull off from my dusty thinking shelf; and put to use, from time to time. Like Nutella, I’ve used these life equations on almost everything (bread lubricant, wall caulk, crafting adhesive; just to name a few). For instance, I have a dog. She is absolutely perfect. And more importantly, the dog fulfills a set of very low standards, I’ve preset for a pet. I used a similar set of standards to figure out my love life. In this case, I also inserted a clause of “by hook or by crook.” And finally, the set of standards proved helpful in finding a wedding photographer.
During a wedding show called Weddings in Woodinville, we met our photographer. His name is Shane Macomber. He was rather difficult to spot, at first, amidst a sea of future brides (and ten accompanying bridesmaids) killing each other over free crab cakes and wedding directory handouts. It was like a Battle of the Bulge, but with three times the heels and half the bulge. But he was perfect for the job. His photography is beyond beautiful, and we’re really lucky to have found him.
Here’s my guideline for finding a photographer/partner/dog that’s right for you (but mainly, me), followed by our engagement photos done by Shane Macomber.
Is he/she available?
- Photographer: Make sure your photographer has your wedding date open.
- Partner: Make sure your partner isn’t married to a wife, his mom or himself.
- Pet: Make sure your dream dog isn’t microchipped to the address, down the street. The house with the greener grass. I think their name is Jones.
Is he/she dependable?
- Photographer: Does your photographer call when he says he will? Does he show up to appointments on time?
- Partner: Can you depend on your partner to show up to his wedding to you?
- Pet: Comes when called. Shits in designated areas. Can solve differential equations, when given a calculator and three Milkbones.
Can he/she give you what you want?
- Photographer: Typically, a photographer who has built a career out of photographing babies sleeping inside giant vegetables, personally grown by Jolly the Green Giant in collaboration with Monsanto, isn’t going to be wedding material. Know what you want to see in photos, and compare that to what they have to offer.
- Partner: I wanted a man who didn’t mess with my radio volumes. John satisfies those desires. He’s a keeper. He can stay.
- Pet: This is also called ‘fetching.’
Can you bring her/him around your friends and family?
- Photographer: Make sure your photographer isn’t creepy. I attended a wedding, when I was 15, and the middle-aged photographer kept pestering for my phone number. Presumably, this was so that he could call me about modeling opportunities, done in the comfort of his basement dungeon, and then circulated to an underground network of prison inmates.
- Partner: Example, partner does not sleep with wedding guests. This is non-negotiable.
- Pet: Example, dog does not sleep with wedding guests. This is negotiable.
Where do you see him/her, in relation to you, in five years?
- Photographer: Can you call them up in five years and say, “Hey! Can you do maternity pics too? Or do I have to call that lady with the giant lettuce props?”
- Partner: Do you see your partner there for you, in five years? After all of your terrible vegan jokes and annoying habit of sleeping on 75% of the bed, 100% of the time, even though you’re 50% his size?
- Pet: The answer better be “with me.” Please don’t be an asshole and give away your dog just because he/she considered your garbage bin as an All-You-Can-Eat-Buffet. You weren’t going to eat it. Might as well share the wealth.
How much is he and can you afford that amount?
- Photographer: You don’t want to remortgage your mom’s home or sell a kidney to finance your wedding photos. Some people negotiate the price. I didn’t negotiate with our photographer, since I do think he was worth every penny, and probably more. They spend countless hours acting like as if they enjoy being around your drunken wedding guests. And then they go home, only to spend countless more hours on Photoshop, to make you look like a decent human being.
- Partner: He shouldn’t cost anything. The ones who do are called gigolos or deuce bigalows. One of those.
- Pet: Cheaper than therapy. More expensive than alcohol. More legal than most drugs.