Ear Candy

I'm a devoted Bebel Gilberto fan; if you haven't heard her, you should. Think new bossa nova. Think Brazilian. Think the epitome of sexycool. Here's the title track from her latest album, Momento.

Idiots Taking Over the World and Lots of Swear Words: A Blog in Three Parts

Part One: The Drinker
I have been thinking about my live music experiences lately, (and obviously, if you have managed to struggle through any of my recent posts, you may think that's all I do, which isn't really true), and a few things have been bothering me.

Now, in general, I think we all experience a period in our lives of being raging alcoholics. For me, that was from high school until I graduated from college, but hey, I'm alive. And that is perfectly ok. I am certainly not one to judge people (to their faces). But there comes a point in everyone's life where the alcoholic tendencies fade and real interests take up the reins. For most of us.

The Pumpkins show I went to last weekend was a real eye-opener for me. There is having a beer at a show and having a good time, and then there is using any social situation as an excuse to get drunk. Do you see where I'm going with this?

The show was male-heavy, which I don't have a single problem with. In fact, for most of my life I have related more to the male sex (in attitude and behavior, not in wanting to be one, thanks) than the female sex. I guess many of my personal characterstics are stereotypically male: direct, sex-driven, addicted to sports, etc. So I actually like being in situations where there are more men than woman. But at this show, the men, the grown mutherfuckin men, were no different that the barely post-pubescent lads grasping toward the threads of manhood: two beers in hand, hair (or what is left of it) in disarray, and completely, COMPLETELY shitfaced.

I understand kids drinking past excess; I mean, that is a damn rite of passage. It is a new, uninhibited, exhilarating feeling. But an adult man? I mean, a grown-ass adult??? Let's be serious here: there is nothing more pitiful than a slightly balding man with a punk t-shirt, an expensive watch, a marriage ring line, and attitude of entitlement. (There were drunk, grown-ass women there, too, but for the most part they minded their own business and drunkenly swayed through the whole show.)

Perhaps I expect too much. Yes, that's it. I just put the bar too high there.

No! No, that's not it. Dammit.

I go to a lot of live music in my town, and the Pumpkins show was the first one here that I've really noticed this phenomena. I think it has to do with the out-of-townies coming in for the biggest act to play here. Which, now that I think about it, are actually small turds (turdlettes, if you will) from a larger shitter: the tourist.

Part Two: The Tourer
I don't know about where you people live, but here in my hometown, tourism is a HUGE industry. I mean, we call it tourist season, but when we say "season", it really means "all year long". We're lucky enough to live in a beautiful place that is climatically interesting year-round, but unlucky enough that everyone and their brother comes here for fucking vacation. And in a town of ninety thousand, the tourists really stick out.

I don't mind tourists in general; hell, every time I go anywhere, I become one. But the difference, and this is a big difference, is that I don't leave my fucking brain at home. For example, my husband and I use maps. We love maps, and I am usually the HBIC (head betch in charge) when it comes to navigation. Now, some of the brainless tourists use maps too, but only after they stop their car in the middle of the street, get out to look at the street signs, and ask 50 people for directions. So maybe, the pitiful drunk men at the show are not so much their own phenom, as much as they belong to the "left the brain at home" populus. God, they drive me crazy.

And then there were two.

Part Three: The Suer
Our country is cultivating a society of nitwits.
"Don't take responsibility for your actions," they say, "just force the people around you to do it." Don't worry about putting hot coffee between your legs while driving, if it burns you just sue the place that made it too hot! Don't teach your children to eat well, sue the fast-food chain for your child's obesity-related diabetes and heart disease. God forbid you teach your children how to be healthy. Don't blame the mentally tortured kids that choose to take their own lives, blame the fucking music they listen to!
In such a litigious society, our world has come down to the fine print. Contracts. Such-and-such company not responsible for (insert common sense here). Release forms. Once our court system decided that individuals are too stupid to think on their own, they gave everyone a "get out of jail free" card. Don't think for yourself: if someone doesn't tell you not to do something, it's their fault!

I am a firm believer in social evolution, and all we are doing by saving the idiots from their own plights (if you put hot coffee between your legs, you should deal with the burned twat, not make millions from a lawsuit) is lowering our common denominator. And color me fucked if those are the same people contributing to our overpopulation problem.


I Have Been Touched by the Gods of Music

It is almost unbelievable. I never imagined that I would be so lucky, but I am, and so, in the words of a great German man I never met, if it is so, "then I must believe."

I don't know what the rest of the world is up to, but in my neck of the woods, all talk is of the Smashing Pumpkins. It's all Pumpkins, all the goddamn time. Behold:

one little story, two little story, three little story, four little story, ...

If you bothered to read any of those, you may have noticed a few things. For one, the Smashing Pumpkins chose Asheville, NC to being their tour for the latest attempt, Zeitgeist. For another, they are doing two residencies, two US locales; one here in Asheville at the Orange Peel, and one in San Fran, and that's it. For a third, tickets for the Asheville residency shows sold out in like 30 seconds. All nine shows. For one more, very few Asheville locals were able to acquire tickets.

There are many repercussions to such goings ons, and one being that locals are pissed that tickets weren't made available just to locals. To that, I say, boo-fucking-hoo. That's is the price for only 2 US tour locations. I mean, come on, the Pumpkins are alt rock legends. Yes, I said it, legends. You may not like all of their music; hell, you may not like any of it, but you can't deny that the Pumpkins ruled supreme for a little over a decade. And like so many members of my generation, we hold them on a pedestal and pray for a reunion. But, as usual, I digress.

Ok, so big deal being: few locals got tickets. I, however, was able to get tickets to not one, but TWO shows. Can you fucking believe it? Well, you must, because it is.
Seeing two shows (and actually, I'm seeing the last two shows of their Asheville residency–woot!) is preeeetty much hitting the jackpot; finding the end of the rainbow; rubbing that goddamn lamp and having the genie puff out and gimme what I want. I have been lucky from the start.

And then, THEN, there's just divine intervention.

Saturday was the first show of the residency. Early Saturday evening, I decide to grab my camera and walk around our quaint little downtown for some high-energy street shooting. It was great; I love going out on my own. I stopped and had a beer at Ed's, chatted up the barkeep for a bit, and then commenced walking. I walked toward the Orange Peel to see what was happening, because there's been local talk of protests (!), guerilla parking tactics, and more. (Let me tell you, I love Asheville. And that includes all the local theatrics from the post-hippie, post-punk, anti-Bush, pro-free lovers. And there are a lot of those shenanigans going on.) So I'm walking up to the Orange Peel, and they have barriers around the entrance (not normal) and Peel employees posted everywhere. I spotted a familiar face, this guy that I know from around town. He works at the Peel, as well as this great thrift shop called Hip Replacements (I'm tellin ya, it's just that kind of town), and he's good buddies with the tattoo artist doing my backpiece. So I walk over to say hello and ask whether there has been any ruckus, and before I can get a word out, he asks me:

Him: Hey, do want to go to the show?

Me: The show? Here?!? Tonight?? The PUMPKINS SHOW?!?

Him: Yeah.

Me: Um, OKAY.

And without further ado, he led through the barriers, put a bracelet on my wrist, and pushed me through the door. The opening night of the Pumpkins residency, the first live performance in years, a show that sold out in about 3.4 seconds. And I got in. And not only that, I got in for free.

In conclusion, I'm am a lucky betch. Not only did I get tickets for the two final shows, but I got in for the opening show. Fo' free! THREE PUMPKINS SHOWS in a town where most can't even see ONE. Whoa. I have to wonder what the fallout from this will be. Here is my present to you all, on a not-so-ordinary Monday.

Oh yeah, and by the way, the show: Rocked.


Manny, This is how Bonnaroo was.

I am home, mostly in body and my mind is slowly catching up.

This was an experience that won't be done justice in my feeble grasp of blog communicae, but I will pull from my heart what I felt, saw, and heard.

I am a music die-hard. My mother was an opera singer, pianist, and stage actress; my bio father was a singer and conductor; my brother has mastered most instruments in the spectrum and now focuses on melodic death metal (you wouldn't believe it unless you heard it, but his music pulls heavily from classical composers; he loves Holst); and I have been a singer since I was a wee tot. I started out just singing in school choir and plays, and then moved into jazz when I was 15. From there, I've experimented with just about every genre and played with many talented musicians. We are a pretty musical family. I guess all of this is just to say that when I hear music, I usually know whether I'm listening to something good (technically, artistically) or something bad (teeny bop pop. gah!)

This festival was bursting with talented artists of all genres. But I get ahead of myself.

Thursday we drove about 4.5 hours to Manchester, TN. Sat in traffic for hours. Long, dusty, hot, strange-dirty-people-walking-past-car hours. When we finally (FINALLY!) got to a campsite, we set up camp and cracked a beer. My husband and I are very efficient campers. Our gear is easily set up and ready to go, so we were sipping beer long before our neighbors were done. Which just makes you feel, I don't know, kind of superior. Ha. Our camp was a good 12 minute walk to the venue (Center Roo), so we slathered on sunscreen and started tromping through the dust bowl, along with eighty thousand other people. I don't do too well with crowds, but the beer helped take the edge off.
Thursday's temperature: 91 degrees.

Things that made Bonnaroo a challenge:

Port-a-pots: Completely, completely disgusting. If I was able to hold my bowel movements for more than four days, I wouldn't have gone near the fuckers. Thank god for wet wipes. Seriously, the only clean thing on my body all weekend was my asshole. Go figure.
Dust: Cars were driving in all night long on Thursday and for most of the day on Friday, not to mention we were all camped in a field that hadn't seen rain in weeks, maybe a month or more.
Heat: It was hot. I'm talking chickens exploding hot.
Crazy people: Now, there is a difference between a normal person that decides to trip acid, and then the crazy fucker that trips acid for two weeks straight. There were A LOT of the second. Some of the conversations I heard in passing are pretty unbelievable. And then there were the girls that wandered by our campsite on Friday morning, asking if we had seen their camp. Apparently they had been wandering around for about 11 hours (yes, 11!) because they couldn't remember where they were camped. This isn't too hard to understand, because there were a lot of people there, but COME ON. There are a lot of people there. You would think that taking a few minutes to figure out where you were camped before you left your campsite would come in handy at some point. I must be just too forward thinking for some people. Yeah.
Note: These negatives were certainly worth every moment. Not to say I wasn't happy to be home, because I definitely was.

Ok, onward and upward.
Thursday night we caught the last of The Black Angels (sounded awesome), Mute Math (also good, and a naked guy jumped on stage), and saw Clutch (fucking rocked). Now, the guys in Clutch are in their forties, but man, they brought it. I was thrashing, jumping, and screaming, and that was just in between songs.

Anyhoo, great great stuff, but I was already exhausted at this point. And I was having a hard time seeing how I was going to make it through the next three full days of music if I was already so exhausted from just three shows. We caught the tail-end of Rodrigo y Gabriela, went back to camp and slept.

For about three hours.

Around 7 or 7:30 in the morning, the sun comes up, and the tent becomes so unbearably hot that all you can do is get up and sit, with as little clothing on as possible, in the shade with some water. You can't move, you can't walk, and it's hard to even talk, it's so fucking hot. At 7:30 in the morning. This is day one.

Around 2pm, we start the trek to the venue. Dusty, smelly, hot, searing, crowded, oh and did I mention hot?

The first show I saw that day was Brazilian Girls. From what some of my friends have said about their shows, I wasn't expecting much more than the album played onstage. I was pleasantly surprized. They were awesome. Their live sound was more gritty, heavy electronica with great vocals and surprizing energy. I danced my ass off in the 90 degree heat. Some cool chicks in front of me passed me a spliff, and I danced some mo'.
Here's a super short clip, but it gives you the general idea:

While I was at the Girls, my hubs went to see Tortoise, which he raved about. He went to the music tent and bought a CD of Tortoise backing up Bonnie Prince Billy, and that CD is awesome. Here's a short clip of one of the songs they covered, by Springsteen. I don't know who did this video, but it's the only one I could find on youtube:

Good stuff.

Then I went to see The Nightwatchman (Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine). He was really good, but not as guitar-heavy as I thought he would be. Just some good bluesy political music.

Again, by this point, I'm exhausted. We go back to camp to cook food and wait out the heat a little bit (ha).

From our tent we could hear The Roots (which sounded good, but I don't think I really missed anything by not being right there. I've seen them before and it sounded similar. But I do love The Roots), and their cover of "Roxanne", (?uestlove singing), apropro because of The Police headlining and all:

Then, after a quickie in the tent, me and the man went to see Tool.

Tom Morello came out and played with them for one song, and brought the amazing guitar playing for which he is well-known. At that show, I was crushed, stomped on, slammed into, dropped, brusied, and loved every minute of it.

After Tool, we opted to not see The String Cheese Incident, but hit up Aesop Rock instead. For any hiphop lovers out there, if you haven't heard this guy, you should. This clip isn't from Bonnaroo, but who the fuck cares. He's the shit.

His good buddy El-P followed him up, and we definitely stuck around for that as well.
El-P at Coachella this year:

So now it's 2am, and we have been listening to music for about 12 hours straight. But DJ Shadow comes on next, so all I can do is keep standing for as long as possible.

And then to bed.

(Oh, I forgot to mention that while we were listening to hiphop and djs, the SuperJam was happening. Ben Harper, Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, John Paul Jones (yes, from Led Zeppelin), Cold War Kids, and a couple more. They sounded awesome from our tent.)

Saturday morning: same bat time, same bat channel. 7:30 sun heats us up to boiling, we roll out of bed, (again with about 3 or 4 hours of sleep) and start our day. Saturday was to be our long day, starting at 12:45 with Old Crow Medicine Show. It was good. We danced, smoked weed, and sweated.

Then we headed over to hear Gogol Bordello, this crazy gypsy metal band. This time we sat in the shade and listened. I snoozed a bit, because there was no way I was getting through this day without some kind of sleep. Anyway, here's a little clip:

Like I said, crazy.

Next up, Ziggy Marley. Ben Harper came out to do this with him:

That's about as close as I'll ever get to hearing Bob Marley.

Next was Ben Harper. Damn, there is just something about that man that is so fucking sexy. He is so soulful. I couldn't find a video that did him justice. He was great, but still not my favorite act of the weekend.

Following Ben Harper was the most anticipated show: The Police.

They opened with Message in a Bottle, and honestly for me this was the highpoint of their set. Sting can still sing his ass off, and they can all still play, but there was something missing. I feel like they didn't take advantage of being in front of a live audience. And Sting kept calling us "Tennesseeans" (I have no idea how to spell that, and I'm too lazy to look it up), and saying that for eighty thousand people, we sure were tame. Um, thanks.
Conclusion: The Police reunion is a little too over-hyped. I don't think they will be able to live up to the expectations, except for die-hard fans that will love whatever they do, even when it looks, smells, and sounds like shit. But whatever, it was fun seeing them.

Next (yep, this is still Saturday) was The Flaming Lips. It was so fucking crowded, and our friend started freaking out a bit about the crush of bodies, so we went to the back of the stage area to find a spot, although this was still really difficult. Me and hubs stayed for the first 20 minutes, but as the Lips put on a seriously visual show, and I couldn't see shit, we decided to go wait in line at what would be the pinnacle of my Bonnaroo experience. But first, here's the Lips:

They handed out hundreds of lazer pointers to the crowd, and it was just so fun and interactive. I wish I had been closer.

But me and the man went to a small side tent that had been set up as a jazz club-type place. There were tables, red lights, beer servers, and (gasp!) chairs. But there was also a limit as to how many people could fit, so we got there an hour and a half early to wait in line to see The Philadelphia Experiment. Have you heard the Philly Experiment? Have you ever even heard of it? Well, if you have, good on you. You are one of the rare music lovers that appreciates a good collaboration. And if you haven't heard of them, go here for a quick read.

We sat in line for 2 hours, and it was cold as hell. You could actually see your own breath. My feet and legs were numb. Nothing was ever more worth it than this. We got into the small tent, found a great spot to park, and sat down. The band consists of "?uestlove", Christian McBride (bass) and Uri Caine (keys). If you have heard their studio recordings, well, this show was nothing like it. They played a Sun Ra tune, funked up of course, and a couple other jazz funk tunes. Then Christian invited his good friend Gina Gershon onto the stage, and she played the jew's harp along with them. It was both hilarious and endearing, even though I don't have an opinion about G.G. one way or another. She left the stage, and they started an hour long improv session. This was the most amazing experience, musically, that I have ever had, not just at Bonnaroo, but in my life. And I have seen some pretty great fucking music. At one point, ?uestlove moved around from behind the drum kit, keeping the same tight rhythm the whole time, and started playing on everything onstage: the keyboard, the amps, the stage itself. Then, not dropping the beat once, he moved into the crowd and played on people's tables, chairs, beer glasses, anything that people would put in front of him. He moved through the entire crowd, and when he finally made his way back onto stage and behind his set-up, the whole band jumped in. The place was going crazy. When they finished, everyone in the place jumped from their seat and roared. It was just so amazing. I hope I can find a recording of it. When I do, I'll let ya know.
Went back to the tent around 4am.

Sunday morning: 7am sun. Hottest day so far. 95 degrees by 9 o'clock. GAH. Today was my special day for my special music. But first, me and the hubs went to a screening of Coffee and Cigarettes, which was followed by an "Actor's Studio"-type discussion with Jim Jarmusch. That was just so cool. He is such a laid back, humble guy. It was fun to hear him talk about his connection with music and film, and how both play huge roles in his work. Very very cool. Made me want to be a filmmaker.

After the J.J. conversation, we met up with some friends to get a good spot for my boys, the heart in my chest, the heat in my pants: Wilco.
I've seen Wilco several times, had dinner with a couple of the band members (not Tweedy, although I'd give my mouse-clicker-finger for that one), and have loved them for a long long time. I had very high hopes for their live show. I listened to Sky Blue Sky on repeat for days before Bonnaroo. I was pumped.

Let me tell you this: they did not disappoint. In fact, there were several times (Jesus, Etc.) that I found myself openly crying during this show. I don't know what did it; I'm not usually this freak-out fan (think little girl on American Idol; GAH!) that cries just seeing her favorite band. But something about the way they connected with the crowd just got to me. I have never seen J. Tweedy so happy. He had the best energy going, both with the band and the audience. It was superb.

and my favorite:


I saw the White Stripes after that, and they were awesome, but nothing could compare the the Wilco show, so meh. But here they are anyway, because I'm a lover. And this was my favorite song they played.

I didn't stick around to see Widespread Panic, because, let's face it, they are boring. (I can only imagine the hate mail I would get if more than 5 people read my blog.)

Congrats if you read this far. Yes, it was exhausting. Yes, it was exhilarating. Yes, I'm going next year. But this time we are renting an RV. For sure.

Nexus 6 out.


Eye Candy

Just a couple shots of my in-progress tattoo.

Before color.

Crow is filled in. I'm in pain. You can't see the pain face shot, for several reasons. 1: Still trying to stay anon. and 2: not flattering!

With color, and a little blood. Oh, and some crack.

And that's a wrap. Believe it or not, that is the second of several more sittings to come. The tatt-artist is incredibly good, and very fast! All of this is only 3.5 hours of sitting time. Amazing. More pics to come as we move closer to the final product.


Reflecting on Father's Day

Well, I hoped I would miss it. I told my brain to completely forget the day—to ignore all commercials, sales, and mumbo jumbo that might possibly remind me. Luckily my friends are all sensitive enough to not mention it.

After losing two fathers by the time I was 26, Father's Day holds nothing but pain.

My first father, my biological father, was a complicated man. He was the best and worst of all things. The best dad, the worst dad. The best and worst husband. The most intelligent, and the most ignorant.

My mom divorced him when I was three, after finding out that he repeatedly cheated on her. With men. In reststop bathrooms. In the early 1980s. He was excommunicated from his church—the only thing in his life that really helped him cling to a false reality. I believe, in my heart, that his horrible actions were a result of not being true to himself. I wish, for his sake and for my family's sake, that he had come out of the closet. I think things might have been very different for us all, if he had. But he had too much fear. He lived in a world where everything around him said that he was evil for having these feelings, and he denied this part of himself until he died. He died when I was 14, of complications from HIV. He told me he was sick only 6 months before he died. He never told my younger brother, and to this day I see the anger still in my brother's heart.

I think that I was sad when he died, partly because I was young and was experiencing what death meant, but also in part because I was expected to be sad. There were good and bad things about my bio dad, and that would have been fine if he had lived long enough for us to work those things out, but he didn't, and so I can only look back on our relationship from the perspective of an angry, hurt, and scared adolescent.

My second father, my "heart" father, was the best of men. He was kind, thoughtful, strong. I often referred to him as the epitome of "strong silent" type. He and my mom married when I was ten, and helped me through the death of my bio father. He was my rock. He was the opposite of my bio father in every way. Where my bio dad was selfish, my heart father was concerned with others first. Where my bio dad was thoughtless, my heart father was considerate and thoughtful.

My heart father came to every soccer and volleyball game; he came to every concert. He cried (silently and with much masculine pride, trying to conceal his tears) on my 18th birthday was he and my mom gave me a particularly beautiful gift. He was a man; proud of his children, loving to his wife, and hardworking. I can't think of a time where I didn't see him working. Even on weekends, after he had spent all week traveling, he would work around the house and the yard, making secret passages in the walls (seriously) or raised beds for my mother's garden.

He was a strong man. He had three heart attacks before he was 40, and never once complained. He was a walk-it-off kind of man.

Last year, 2 months before he was to walk me down the aisle, he died of a heart attack. He was 48. There are no words to describe how devastating this was, and still is. Even now, as I write this, tears are streaming down my face. Even though it was been over a year since he died, I still feel it as though it happened yesterday.

When they tell you that time heals, they are wrong. Time merely helps your memory of pain to fade.

I am thankful, though, that his heart attack took him quickly. He did not suffer; we did not have to live hooked up to tubes and monitors. He was at the beach with his best friend, and had spent the weekend doing exactly what he wanted: smoking cigars, fishing, drinking beer. I couldn't have asked for a better way for him to leave us. My family was spared the heartbreak of finding his body, or seeing him in the hospital.

But now I have the heartbreak of knowing he will never see his grandchildren, or celebrate another wedding anniversary, or will never dance with either of his daughters.

My only memories of that day he died, and the haze of days that followed, are the words I screamed when I knew he was dead. Oh my GOD, NO. They haunt me. They will for the rest of my life.

Father's Day is over for me.


The "Romantic" Story

Last night, in bed with a sweetly snoring husband, I began thinking about a conversation I might one day have with a possible offspring.

I guess it's part of the "American Dream" (for women, anyway): the perfect boyfriend, the perfect proposal, the perfect wedding. When these things come to mind, certain images of this perfection are also called up. The engagement ring in the dessert/champagne flute, the princess bride, the happily ever after. And while all these things are well and good, they don't even come close to what I would consider perfection.

I have been with my husband for almost three years now, and just over one year of marital bliss. I thought about the night we officially became engaged. It wasn't anything special; he didn't surprise me with some romantic plan (well, romantic being incredibly subjective). In fact, my engagement symbol wasn't even a ring. It was a necklace, with the word "Beloved" carved in a Celtic script. He couldn't wait; it came in the mail and he had to give it to me right away.

Last night, as I thought back to these powerful memories, I realized that they make a pretty boring story about how my romance with R has grown (from a conventional viewpoint). I started tracing it back to the beginning, when we rediscovered one another after a few years. That, I saw, was the romantic story. It's hard to have a beautiful engagement story (which is almost requisite for a woman; all of the "oh, how did he propose?!" questions are pretty embarrasing after telling the "he pulled the necklace out of the post" answer several hundred times) when the engagement itself has no definitely beginning. So, our romantic story begins at the beginning. It is virtually impossible to have a sweet engagement story when you know from the very first moment that you will marry this being. I am lucky that I can say that.

We didn't need a flowery engagement. It happened in stages, really. We knew, from the first moment we ran into each other on the street in a quaint mountain town, that this was IT. When you know from the beginning, what's the point of wasting money on a fancy restaurant, or hotel room? There was nothing, for R and I, that could be more romantic than our daily life together. We moved in together immediately (like, within a week). When he came back from visiting with family in Savannah, he brought me a woven flower made from dry palm fronds. When I had my head busted open at a punk show, he drove 3.5 hours (from where he lived at the time) in the middle of the night to make sure I was ok. Waking up to find him in my bed the next morning was such a beautiful moment. I knew then that this man would do anything for me, that he had no fear of being open, loving, and true to himself. We had no problem with "I love yous" or the marriage discussions, or kids discussions. There was no awkwardness, because we were free to be ourselves with one another.

Now, three years later, with many good and bad memories between us, I can easily say that I love him more deeply than I have ever loved anyone, including my family. He is my heart.

So, when the day comes that my child asks me how Dad proposed to me, I'll say, we didn't need a proposal honey. We knew from the first moment we saw one another that we would be married, and live our lives together.

I don't think you can get more romantic than that.