Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

As of last night, 11 p.m. local time/8 p.m. Cali time, the winner of last night’s GOP primary in New Hampshire was Mitt Romney (38%), followed by Ron Paul (23%) and Jon Huntsman (17%). I expect a lot of dropouts in the next few days. Here are the polls and details at our brother site Daily Kos.

Speaking of politics, when will we catch up to Jamaica? Portia Simpson Miller, Jamaica’s first female prime minister, was just sworn in for her second term. Check out her bad-ass response to homophobia on the island.

In related news, I teared up reading this personal account by a legislator and son of a gay man who has endorsed a gay marriage bill in Washington state.

MSN Health ran a fascinating study on how people who live 110 years or longer have as many disease-associated genes as people in the general population, but they may also have protective genes that help them live longer.

Liz Cerezo over at the Thoughts of a Mommy blog wrote a thoughtful and honest account about parenting a teenage boy.

The Boston Globe ran a wonderful essay about raising teenagers with autism.

BlogHer published another provocative piece, this one proposed an expiration date on marriage to prevent snarling the courts with divorce cases. She suggested having a mechanism where married couples can choose to renew their marital vows — er contract — online. What do you think?

Mother Jones magazine included a round-up of tidbits from a biography about the Obamas. I couldn’t put it down!

Finally, here is a little humor on this lovely hump day courtesy of the Huffington Post. Like this author and illustrator, I hardly drank any caffeinated or alcoholic drinks prior to becoming a mother. Now? There are days I just can’t get by without them! :)

Thanks for the tip, Hilary!

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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Wondering About Weddings

“We eloped.”

For some reason, that simple statement always gets a strong reaction from people, even though my husband and I are coming up on our 10th anniversary.

Eloping was not part of The Plan. I always figured I’d have a huge wedding, on par with my huge Mexican family. Three hundred guests, a mariachi and many bridesmaids– that was all part of the girlish fantasy.

I also thought I would be at least 30 years old and financially established before getting married to some nice Mexican boy. But we all know that the best-laid plans seldom go off without a hitch.

Instead, I was just out of college, saddled with student loans and credit card debt, and desperately in love with a nice white boy. My newspaper internship paid $330 a week, and my hubby-to-be had just abandoned journalism for public relations in a bid to make a decent salary. My two-year internship required me to spend the second year at another newspaper in the chain, and chances were I was going to get sent back east some place.

So there we were, broke and in love. I didn’t know how we were going to pull off a huge wedding before I was sent packing to Allentown, Pennsylvania– but I did know I wasn’t willing to leave without him.

We decided to fly to Lake Tahoe for the weekend and get hitched. We invited our parents to come along, but they wanted no part of it– they felt we were rushing and didn’t understand why we were being so unorthodox. I’m guessing the rest of the family thought I was pregnant, hence the quickie wedding.

I was heartbroken that our families weren’t completely behind us, but I figured this wasn’t about them– it was about me and the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. So we lined up a justice of the peace and a photographer, grabbed a couple of witnesses from the lovely restaurant on the shore, and headed out to the sand to exchange our vows.

It was January, but I wasn’t cold at all. The sun pierced the clouds for a brief moment as we said, “until death do us part.” I took that as a good sign. :-)

It wasn’t the wedding I had envisioned, but I don’t regret it. It was our moment and ours alone– there was no family drama to navigate, and we didn’t go deeper into debt to finance our nuptials, like this couple profiled in the New York Times that Sue in Queens wrote about.

Our families eventually came around, and we always figured we would renew our vows down the road– maybe on our 10th anniversary. We would finally get the big celebration, surrounded by 300 of our closest friends and relatives.

Now that the date is approaching, we’re surprised to find ourselves ambivalent. We’ve got the money to pay for a big shindig, but don’t know if we really want to do it. I guess part of me feels silly at the thought of throwing ourselves this giant, showy party– what are we trying to prove? And for what purpose?

I stumbled across this essay by a woman after my own heart. Like me, the author has a hard time wrapping her brain around the business of big weddings:

How has a nearly $30,000 price tag become acceptable for a one-day event? It seems to me the money could be far better spent for a down payment on a house, a few years’ tuition at a state university or a spiffy new hybrid with some left over for gas.

To place it in a larger context, what might $30,000 mean to a school or medical clinic on the Wind River Indian Reservation or in the Mississippi Delta? What would it mean to a family living in a FEMA trailer in New Orleans?

Multiplying the average wedding’s cost by the nearly 2.3 million weddings estimated to occur in the United States this year means that Americans will spend about $64 billion on weddings. Compare this figure with the gross domestic product of Lithuania ($49 billion), Nepal ($40 billion), Luxembourg ($31 billion) or Iceland ($11 billion).

Yikes…that’s a lot of cash being spent on centerpieces and steak dinners.

Part of me says we should spend the money on an extravagant vacation, just the two of us. Or save it for the day we buy another house. Or sock it away in an IRA.

Another part of me says, you only live once. I may never again get to dance to mariachi music in a big white dress!

What say you, ladies? Did you have a big wedding, or a small one? Anyone renew their vows or have a memorable anniversary celebration? Any tips,  mistakes, lessons learned? Please share!

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