Sea Slug FAQ 

Monday, February 13, 2006

A sea cucumber took the picture, right?
Uh, no. Next.

Okay, so who did take the photo?
Matt: You know, all the standard expected questions about whens and wheres and what-did-you-says and dates and rings and all that, and what's the most common question? "Who took the photo?!?" You know your friends are a bunch of photo geeks when. . . . Anyway, the answer? I took it. It required some clever tripod positioning and shooing-away-of-onlookers-in-the-frame and timer setting and driftwood log jumping and sliding into position as if I were stealing third, and, yeah, all that and still trying to make sure things were timed correctly to the shutter release. Photography as a full contact sport. Only because I didn't want to spoil the surprise by asking a friend to take it, and because this was something special between the two of us, so it would have been weird to have some dude with a camera following us around.

So didn't it spoil it for her when you were setting the camera up?
Maktaaq: I was devastated! What kind of guy doesn't have the courage to propose in front of seventy thousand strangers at a football stadium? He wasn't even wearing a gorilla suit! Matt: The actual proposal evolved over the course of the previous week. After a couple of sleepy late night discussions it was already decided by Tuesday or so, and we were really only waiting for a time when we saw each other during daylight hours that we could take a decent photo, because we thought that would be a great way to tell everyone. Of course, all these theatrics surrounding the photo meant that we had to deal with the sarcastic comments from this one guy who kept hanging around, saying, "Whoa, like, THAT doesn't look staged or something." Of course, you know it's staged because this is the only outdoor photo I have of her when she's not wearing a scarf, I think.

So when we saw you guys Tuesday night, or Saturday morning, you were . . . you already . . . .
Yep. And here we always thought we had terrible poker faces. Guess not.

So you weren't proposing at all in the photo?
Matt: Funny how things like that work out sometimes. When we were talking about the engagement before, I had never actually said, "Will you marry me?" On Sunday afternoon, when we took the photo, the first take felt really weird since the engagement was really already on (especially after dealing with Mr. Sarcasm, above), so we tried again, and this time I got down on my knee and popped the question for real. That photo didn't look quite right on the tiny camera screen, and I wanted to take a few more just in case, but when reviewing them all later, the one with the real question was the clear winner. You can't fake the look she had on her face that time. So, was the photo staged? Well, it was supposed to be staged, just as a great way to break the news, but in a way it accidentally became authentic.

I dig the boots.
Maktaaq: Cool.

Were you nervous?
Matt: About the proposal? Only a little, since we had already talked about it. I was mostly excited. However, if I do look a little nervous in the photo there's probably a reason: If you look closely, you'll notice that my back pockets are empty. Right before taking the pictures, I realized that my wallet was gone, and couldn't figure out whether it had been stolen, or if I'd left it back at the apartment. I was pretty sure it had been the latter, since I had been feeling a bit scatterbrained with all the excitement, but I was still a little concerned that some homeless guy was wandering around downtown buying heroin with my money, while I was busy playing on the beach. The real nerves didn't kick in until she and I were sitting at the Blenz on Denman, having just uploaded the picture, and looked at each other before running the publish script to tell the world. Guess it goes to show how much I trusted her response compared to the world at large.

Do sea cucumbers actually travel in herds?
Maktaaq: Yes. Philip Lambert, with the Royal BC Museum, characterized them as a "miniature herd of gnus trundling across the abyssal plains, they graze on the rich organic snow that has drifted down from above." It's one of our favourite bits of trivia in the world. Matt: And what does that have to do with the two of us? Not much, except that it's a perfect example of what 30 seconds of our typical private conversations are like. Welcome to our universe.

Did you get a ring?
No, we decided to get matching noses instead.

Maktaaq: I've never really worn rings before, so this is a new thing for me. I even have a drawer full of unworn rings because it's written in the Romanian constitution that Romanian girls must have rings. Not to mention, diamond trading directly supports human rights violations in west Africa, and even though so many other people have diamond rings, I have to go with what I've so often preached. Matt: She is pretty vocally opposed to supporting the diamond industry since she's seen the deleterious effects of this and other western industries in Africa firsthand, so we've discussed alternate ideas, including finding something nice and non-diamondy at a vintage jewelry store. We both realize that this plan sounds great on paper but will probably take months to execute, but who knows -- we might find something extraordinary. If anyone has any suggestions for places to look, we could use the help.

Enough of this proposal talk. Have you set a date yet for the wedding? How did you guys meet? How long have you been dating?
Matt: The first day seems a little soon to ask about a date, doesn't it? Of course, both doing project management / event coordination sorts of work, we couldn't help but at least throw something on the calendar to start. But first the other questions. We met (appropriately enough) at a weblogger meetup at Steamworks last May. We were both early, and no one else had shown up, so we had each other's company for a while. We corresponded via website comments and email for a couple of months, including meeting in a small group for dinner later, but our first official date was at La Bodega tapas restaurant, in late July. What was supposed to be a low-pressure friendly only-a-date-if-it-turns-out-that-way 1 hour dinner turned into a 5 hour conversation which forced the staff to ask us to leave so they could go home. A few weeks back she ran across a study which claimed that May 19 is the "happiest day of the year", as measured by people's average moods. She looked it up, and, sure enough, the day we met. So when arbitrarily choosing sometime in mid-2007 or so for a wedding, what date could have seemed more appropriate?

Where will the wedding be?
Matt: In Vancouver. She has quite a bit of family here. We have mutual friends here. My family and friends are all over the place, so if they're going to travel anyway, they might as well visit the greatest city in the world. No word yet, though, how big we want it to be. She and I both prefer small and cozy, but if that meant family only and no friends, we would be horrified. So we still need to work that out. If nothing else, it's the one way we could finally get my parents to come visit.

Any locations yet?
We know planning for a sunny day in Vancouver is like hoping for a doubloon in your spare change, but we're envisioning something outdoors. Possibly at UBC. But possibly not.

Have you planned your babies' names?
Maktaaq: Nicoleta, Cǎtǎlin and Valentin. Possibly Rareș. Unfortunately, I am not really a mommy type. Never have been. I played with toy trucks and planes and cassette players instead of dolls when I was little. After I grew up, I realized that I made a better pet owner than a parent. Rather distressed that I would not have offspring upon which to bestow the names of my sister and cousins (and that obese construction worker with whom my parents set me up), I asked for my sister's permission to name my next hamster after her. "I don't know how I feel about that."

I do hope to one day adopt, though. I am looking for an artistic child circa four or five whose talents I can nurture and help earn all those arts scholarships I wish I'd known about in high school.

Will you be adding more hamsters to the family?
Maktaaq: Matt has a cat and I have a hamster plus a foster hamster. Matt joked that it's more of a formula for subtraction. I asked how he felt about chinchillas, but he deflected my question with a "how about them honey badgers?" I am working up to getting a few attack momongas.

But back to that, what raised the curiosity on sea slugs?
Maktaaq: When I snorkelled in Taiwan, a diver told me that if a barricuda took a bite out of me, I should grab a sea cucumber and slam it on the sea bed. He demonstrated with a passing sea cucumber. Turns out that injured sea cucumbers secrete a white viscous gel. Divers can use this substance to bandage their wounds. The diver further told me that sea cucumbers, in Mandarin, are called "Men of the Sea." Ever since then, sea cucumbers have surpassed geoducks as my favourite marine invertebrate to have nightmares to.

Any more questions?

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