Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Don't worry. None of this blood is mine.

Wedding: T-Minus 2 Weeks

You know, signing 3,000 sheets of paper to be bound into a limited edition novella really takes a long time. Especially when your signature is a doodled logo that takes ages to do.

On the plus side, I’ve been listening to Peter Cushing on my headphones, reading his autobiography Past Forgetting, Memoirs of the Hammer Years, as I sign over and over and over again.

The wedding is two weeks away now. I’m not scared so much as cautiously, nervously excited. We did the table plans today (again, as I was signing), and Cathy went in for her final dress fitting yesterday. The reality of it all is finally starting to sink in, which means all the good as well as the bad. Friends I’ve not seen for years. Fooling a redheaded hottie into the shackles of wedlock. All that good stuff.

There’s bad, as well. The people who say it’s “Your Day” probably mean well, but it’s not entirely Your Day. It’s a day of balances and compromises, too. Some people who you love can’t make it, but some people that you’re not thrilled with can. I also find myself thinking more about whether other people will enjoy it than if I will. I also have a fairly complicated relationship with my family. I’m not going to go into that here with any savage depth, but there’s a lot of unresolved emotion, misunderstanding, and simple differences that have fouled the rigging in the past. I’m not worried about how anyone (including me) will behave on the day itself, I’m just aware of the whole emotional maelstrom of it all, bubbling away behind my eyes.

My friend John (French) has probably been the biggest help in calming my nerves about all of this. He was married a few years back, and his unremittingly positive crunchiness about the entire thing treads the knife edge between inspiring and daunting. I think I love him most of all for making the effort. Maybe my headspace is junked up with work and my general melancholic carousel of thinkery, but “It’ll be fine” has never worked on me. I need examples of why it will be fine, and specific instances – preferably with photographic evidence – of times it’s been fine in the past. It’s like telling me you’ve seen Bigfoot, and he’s apparently dynamite at classic video games. Raving about how rad he is at Tetris doesn’t mean a thing until you can prove it to me, preferably with DNA samples and screencaps of high scores.

The same rule applies here. As above, so below.

I’m 30 now, which has thus far been better than every year that preceded it, much in the same way that 29 was better than 28, and so on. It’s a recurring theme, thankfully. But now my friends are starting to get married, and a few of them are even consorting to spawn. A couple of them already have.

Jesus. Marriage. Kids. Kids?

I can’t hit a deadline. I don’t even tidy up my office. I can’t take care of myself, let alone another human. What if I’m a shitty father? What if I can’t even have kids, which is something I hear about all the time now? Even worse, what if it’s a boy, and it likes football? Fuck that noise. What if it’s a girl, and Cathy doesn’t let me call the baby Fuchsia, or Princess? Fuck that noise, too.

Are kids destined to feel the same way about their parents that we feel about ours? Is that fate? Is it one of those Circle of Life things?

I’m not sleeping too well, lately.

I’m going to go make some green tea, then stare out the window, pretending to be soulful and deep.

June 19, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized |


  1. I hope some of the stuff I’ve said to you has helped, too. And you know where to find me. πŸ™‚

    Comment by Sarah Cawkwell | June 19, 2011 | Reply

  2. Dude,

    Everyone has those worries, it just takes the brave and the bold amongst us to voice them. I’m still concerned about being a shitty father, and the fact that my illness over a decade ago has made me sterile. Same about the boy-child and a penchant for casual xenophobia, soccer, and dance music – how the fuck will I bond? What if by the age of 3 the child knows I’m full of shit and can’t do anything for myself without a massive amount of insecurity and self-doubt. What if by the age of 5 the child knows I’m far nerdier than they would ever expect from a parent who still gets a kick out of his Animal (from the Muppets) PJs?

    All I can say to you is this – and it’s likely that it won’t help or aid in any way. Here goes *ahem*

    ‘Just be you, and do the things that *you* think best. As long as you are true to yourself and respect yourself, that’s all anybody can ask of you.’

    From what I’ve learnt from my mum all these years is that as long as you love and respect those people you actually do love and respect – and you show them that – they’ll respond.

    Hang in there, Big Guy (Tiger, Sport, ) You’re going to be fine, whether you believe it yourself, or not.

    You have my email, Sarah has my number, and I’m now on WoW if you want any advice.

    Comment by Tim Kenyon | June 19, 2011 | Reply

  3. You have my sympathy. As much as I love my wife and my children, if I ever get divorced, I’m certainly not doing the big wedding again. Not that it wasn’t among the best days of my life, but because of the things you’ve touched on, like the politics and all the bullshit that goes on dealing with people who should really just be co-operative on that day of all days. But if I can say anything at all that will help in any way, it’s that a shed-load of the weight disappears as soon as you see the bride make her entrance. That’s a moment that I know I’ll never, ever forget, and it certainly made the less enjoyable parts of the planning totally worth it.

    Good luck man, hoping for good weather for you.

    Comment by Raziel4707 | June 19, 2011 | Reply

  4. Aaron, my son, you WILL be OK. I hate that phrase I/you will be fine. So I refuse to use it. And if everyone who has been married is honest, it is not a question of enjoying the day, because you probably wont. It will be for no other reason than being too nervous about the whole thing.(Despite the fact it will rate amongst one of the best days of your life). The question is… are you both doing the right thing? And I know that you are, as you have never been happier since you have been with Cathy/Katie. And there is nothing greater a mother can see than her children being happy. That rates right up there with having good health.
    As to children, what will be will be. If you dont have them, then you get more time for yourself and Cath/Katiey. If you do have them, then as long as you bring them up giving them love and respect, and have them do the same. Then you will have not fallen short on being a good parent.
    As to your comment about having a fairly complicated relationship with your family. Actually it is not complicated at all. The comment from Tim Kenyon (above) about as long as you love and respect people you actually do love and respect- and you show them that – they’ll respond. I have taken a good look at that statement and it is so true. I have unfortunately been guilty, at times, of not showing you both. And if your are honest with yourself then I believe you too, could probably say the same about me. See not complicated at all.
    So you might have cold feet, the shakes, but remember this. You have a big warm heart. Which will help you through these emotional and testing times.
    Love ya.

    Comment by Vivienne Dembski | June 19, 2011 | Reply

  5. If you can write books as good as the Night Lords ones are, in an age where shit sci-fi is as rampant and rife as it currently is, then christ I’d wager you could do just about anything. You will be fine. I’ve just been fortunate enough to find out, following a scan, that lumps I found on myself were not in fact the kind you really don’t want so have spent the last 4 weeks torturing myself about all of this stuff, my fiance etc and a bit more besides. All I’d say is take it all in stride and enjoy it as opposed to fretting it.

    Comment by S | June 19, 2011 | Reply

  6. Rather than “it’ll be fine” think “how bad can it be?” then try and work out the probability of it turning out that bad. The odds typically are in your favour in most situations for life not to turn out to be a zombie apocolypse as evident by the lack of zombie apocolypses historically (let’s sidestep the conspiracy theories, they aren’t reassuring like the cock and bull history we are fed concerning zombie apocolypses). Then start evaluating everything less full of awe than the worst possible outcome as a “win” to an extent and things will soon take on a more positive gloss, after all presumably the whole marriage outcome of the whole shabang seems to be a favourable life enhancing one (hence the marriage I’m guessing) so once the standards of identifying a good result are readjusted downwards everything will be fine.

    On the worries of children, remember children are impressionable and for some of their life they will be powerless and left with you and Katie as their main spheres of influence for learning how to function as people. If the liking of football is not desireable there are ways to stop that need, and they aren’t all illegal and count as child abuse like electric shock therapy some of them are just clever psychological trickery.

    That said my advice does come from a perspective of ignorance, mostly I wanted to claim credit if somehow your wedding ends up getting involved in a zombie apocolypse (I can say I jynxed it) so figured I’d throw some words of friendly advising in the mix to be polite. You don’t know how to reach me, don’t try, I won’t be any use to you at all.

    Comment by Schafe | June 19, 2011 | Reply

  7. Remember to pretend not to hear anyone at first as youre staring out the window, then have a small jump as you pretend to realize they were there and you didnt notice before hand.

    Comment by M2C | June 19, 2011 | Reply

  8. I’m getting married in 16 days myself – allow me to reassure you that your fears, worries and hopes are all perfectly normal, if mine are anything to go by! I’m sure you’ll do great πŸ™‚

    Comment by Tim | June 19, 2011 | Reply

  9. I’m heading in the same direction currently, including the political machinations and petty vindictiveness that only those who are our blood can bring.

    The beautiful part is that one big, magical, overwhelming, terrifying day will end, and good or bad you just wake up the day after and are married to the person you love. The bad stuff pales compared to that simple truth.

    Comment by Tim Sweeney | June 20, 2011 | Reply

  10. There’s a lot better advice up here than what I can offer from my brainly area, but I can still be all supportive and stuff.

    The nerves and the worrying’ll most likely be the worst part. I think the day itself will be over in a flash, most likely knackering and a barrage of colour, noise and camera flashes. At the end of it all though, you’ll have Katie, and you’ll be married, and as long as you two are happy, that’s what counts.

    Oh, and we totally need to get you some sort of signing robot machine.

    Comment by RayeRaye | June 20, 2011 | Reply

  11. Don’t worry Aaron, it is just for the rest of your life… no big deal. πŸ˜‰ I missed you when you were down near Washington DC a few weeks ago. I got to Bowie and you had already left. Well congrats on getting her this far. You will do fine. You have a New York Times best selling novel. You can do anything you put your mind too. Etc. Etc. Etc.


    Comment by HuronBH | June 20, 2011 | Reply

  12. I have to buy a new suit for this wedding. Until recently I’ve owned precisely two suits. I’ve destroyed one pair of suit trousers by walking round while carrying a chunky wallet and a chunky set of keys, so that my hands lightly, yet repetitively, rub against both pocket areas. These have now – quite conspicuously – been worn to shit, and so have rendered the pants unwearable. My other suit trousers have spontaneously paled around the backs of the knees. Don’t quite know how that happened. I probably sweated too much in them. I tend to lose a lot of salt when I sweat. I go for a long jog, and I come home coated in white, salty stripes.

    So, I have to buy a new suit, which is probably my second-most hated thing in the world.

    Maybe I should also buy some new ‘nice’ shoes. I used to have a pair of fantastically comfortable work shoes. Then, after about fifteen months of non-stop usage, the sole ripped away from the leather, and began to generally flap about. So I bought some superglue and repaired it. This has happened about three times; the right shoe remains comfortable, but is otherwise a supergluey mess, albeit a well-ventilated one. The only other ‘nice’ shoes I have are agonisingly uncomfortable. A whole day wearing those? Unlikely.

    So I should buy some new shoes too. Which is my most-hated thing in the world.

    And I have two weeks to get you and Katie a good gift. I currently don’t even have an idea for a gift. I had a truly stupendous idea for a while. But then I read something you wrote that indicated you already had a better thing than the stupendous thing that I had in mind, and the whole gift idea became unusable. So now I’m stuck again.

    Okay, some serious views. Organising a wedding is logistical, and probably emotional, ballache. You’ll stress that it has to be ‘the most magical day ever’, and yet that very stress will prevent it from being so. As will squabbling with the caterer because the teaspoons are dirty, or spending half the afternoon on the phone to Uncle Bob because he’s got lost and can’t find his way off the Belfast ring-road. You’ll likely be busy most of the day – even if you’re busy doing ‘fun’ things, like running around trying to spend some quality time with all the people you love who you haven’t seen for years, and who you likely won’t see for years more. The day is unlikely to be ‘perfect’, precisely because it’s your wedding day, and you have to manage family and friends. So don’t aim for that. I think ‘reasonably awesome’ is a doable goal. If the weather is good, that’s a bonus.

    Oh, and delegate. If people are going to be in the ‘hood the day before, have a little meeting, and hand out assignments. For my quasi-sister-in-law’s tenth wedding anniversary recently, I spent much of the evening serving drinks to about fifty people, or squirreled away in a basement cooking great vats of meaty-soup-type stuff. All of it unplanned; it just needed doing. Had a great night regardless.

    I mean… rereading your blog post, I see a lot of stress about details. Deadlines, and making sure that people have fun, and worrying that people might be offended by action A or omission B. Sort out the absolute wedding essentials – make sure that you have enough chairs, and that people have something to eat and drink, and whatnot. I think the more subjective stuff – ‘Will Granny get angry if she has to listen to more than three Metallica songs?’ etc – will iron itself out. If not, fuck ’em all – nobody will remember the little stuff six months from now, anyway.

    And then there are the long-term ‘marriage’ worries, as opposed to the ‘wedding day’ angst. But haven’t you more or less sorted this out already? You’re in love, and certain that you want to get married. Do you need much more than that, just now? My own example – because I’m in a confessional mood, and slightly less happy than I’ve been for a while: MarlΓ¨ne and I have been together for over six years. We talk about having children and, much more vaguely, about marriage. And yet we’re not sure. We fight., like, a lot. But then, we always have. I piss her off in several ways, not least because I’m a far more solitary person than she likes; she’s quite social, naturally. And, equally, some of her traits annoy me – I dislike that she can be quite jealous of material possessions, say, or that, more and more, she so openly criticises the time I spend writing – but then, she’s quite wilfully thoughtless during arguments; I don’t know how much of her opinion is true, and how much is point-scoring. Nor does she actually read what I write. She rarely reads at all, and certainly not in English. She’s a comic book kinda gal. I won’t change, and neither will she; if we were going to, we would have already. In several ways, for these reasons and others, we’re poorly matched. And so, do we stay together, knowing that the great times will always be counterbalanced by the shitty, and that we’re committing ourselves to spending a significant portion of our future lives miserable, upset? I still don’t know.

    It seems to me – and here I guess, as I haven’t seen you for all the time you’ve known Katie – that you don’t have such doubts. Is marriage the right thing for you both? Probably.

    And will you be a good father, if you decide to go that route? Of course you will, you arse. You’re bright, and sensitive; the ‘unresolved emotion’ of your own upbringing will no doubt make you tread carefully around the raising of any child of your own. The truly poor fathers are uncaring, or thoughtless, or garden-variety thick. I think you know you’re none of those things.

    The organisational side of it will be a chore, as organisation and bureaucracy and administration invariably are. But a manageable chore, I think.

    Best of all, kids are dumb: you can fuck up a whole bunch of times before they even notice.

    The letter I wrote and printed out a month and a day ago to respond to your wedding invitation has, for a month and a day, lain next to my computer monitor, a testament to my own lack of organisational ability. Just to confirm, we’re both coming.


    Comment by pwgresty | June 20, 2011 | Reply

  13. My wife and I got married almost exactly 8 years ago, and I’ll tell you the same thing I told my wife the week before our wedding: no matter what happens, you WILL be married by the end of the day. No matter what happens at the party or afterwards into the future, you’re going to wake up married the next day and that’s that. This is why people who’ve done it keep telling you “you’ll be fine” – they really mean “you can’t actually mess this up without some serious, purposeful effort on your part.”

    Comment by J-P | June 23, 2011 | Reply

  14. The fact that you worry about this shit proves you’ll be a good father chief! Its the ones who walk into it convinced that it’ll be a cakewalk that end up failing miserably

    Comment by Arkady | June 25, 2011 | Reply

  15. A bit late this reply but I’ve been in Egypt on my hols having a jolly nice time and reading Blood Reaver (which is a nice book and I enjoyed a lot).

    Now I can honestly say that you have nothing to worry about. I got married almost three years ago (08/08/08 nice and easy to remember, plus it’s lucky if you’re Chinese and makes GW geeks happy). We had all kinds of issues with the woman doing the invites and table plan getting things wrong to my parents playing up and saying that they weren’t coming because we hadn’t invited my mom’s cousin who I’ve never met. Even with all of these things going on, I wasn’t worried as I was getting married to the woman I loved and I got to eat chocolate cake afterwards. The only thing I was worried about was doing my speech but I got through that and enjoyed the rest of the day.

    So as a man who has been there and done that, you’ll be ok πŸ˜‰

    Oh and I have two top tips to help things go even smoother…

    1) if you are having a buffet in the evening, try and get the folks running the venue to stash you a couple of plates in your room otherwise you won’t see any of it.
    2) Don’t tread on the back of your wife’s dress. Like crossing proton streams, this is bad!

    You and your wife to be have a great day! πŸ˜‰

    Comment by Gaz Taylor | June 27, 2011 | Reply

  16. While I am fairly certain and highly content with the fact that I shall hopefully never marry myself, I still enjoy the scenes of immense happiness that are to be found on http://www.offbeatbride.com
    Also, there’re your reasons as to “why it will be fine”.

    Good luck and have the best of times!

    Comment by Elenaria | July 2, 2011 | Reply

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