Tag Archives: marriage

I Did It All For The Nookietown

We like to have fun at my branch. For instance, when we found out a coworker hates Tori Spelling, we ordered him a ton of her books. Sometimes we’ll just put a book aside if we think the cover is funny. When Nookietown by V.C. Chickering was returned at our branch, a coworker put it on my shelf, thinking I’d get a kick out of the cover.


Yet another unrealistic expectation for men.

Laughing, I decided to read the inside cover:

Recently divorced forty-something single mom Lucy is lonely, a little antsy, and craving physical connection. Then the unthinkable happens:  Her trusted, long-married friend Nancy begs Lucy to sleep with her husband … to save her marriage. The plan is outlandish, scandalous, and, to everyone’s astonishment, works like a charm—it’s a win-win-win.  Soon the two women develop an underground barter system whereby Nancy’s local married friends subcontract Lucy’s horny divorcée friends to sleep with their sex-starved husbands so the wives don’t have to as often.  It’s a foolproof system for a while. Until feelings get hurt, loyalties are tested, and boundaries are crossed.

Warning: There’s a lot of sex in Nookietown. If you’re a time-travelling Puritan or you’re on the Internet for the first time for Rumspringa, skip to the end to see a video of how to wrap a cat for Christmas.


“If you’re still with me, gaze into my baby blues and read on.”

My interests resoundingly piqued from the synopsis, I read and enjoyed Chickering’s debut novel a lot more than I expected. With a sex scene just about every ten pages, Nookietown often skews toward camp, but that only adds to the charm of the novel. Some scenes and dialogue wouldn’t feel out of place in a Russ Meyer film. One of Lucy’s friends recounts her sexual conquest with a UPS worker—including all the eye-rolling “package size” innuendos you can think of. One friend is referred to as “Miss Boobs-the-Size-of-Rhode-Island.” At a sex-toy party, dildos are compared to Greek obelisks. There’s a scene involving a turkey baster and condom filled with spent sperm. Lucy even acknowledges the “campy-funny” nature of a scene as she’s throwing shoes at one of her friends in a Target.

Camp aside, these divorced women are very much in control of their sex lives and the wives call the shots when it’s time for the divorcées to bed their husbands. If I were a woman (I’m not; I just checked), I’d consider this an empowering novel. Chronically-horny Lucy even says that all the newly found sex makes her feel “informed and powerful.” I don’t think Chickering was trying to solve marriage with Nookietown, but she definitely illuminates some common problems with marriage as an institution. Then again, I had some terrific wedding soup for lunch the other day, so I’m not prepared to Google divorce rates or infidelity or anything like that.

There were some things that didn’t work for me. Lucy, constantly second-guessing her choices, comes across as wishy-washy. On at least three separate occasions with near-identical wording, she remarks that when a man says he’s sarcastic in an online dating profile what he really means is he’s a “verbally abusive bully.” Speaking of online dating, there’s a scene where Lucy is a little drunk on tequila and goes through all the profiles of the men who have sent her messages and completely berates them to herself for their grammatical errors or for posing without a shirt (“It’s not that we aren’t intrigued by your comely physique; we just want to be assured that you own a shirt.”). While Lucy’s concerns are legitimate, it’s a scene that goes on for way too long.


“When you’re this hairless, you don’t got to worry about grammar none. Now help me count my six-pack.”

Even though some things didn’t work for me, it’s not like the book was ruined. I needed a lighthearted break after reading S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and I enjoy reading outside my comfort zone so this book was perfect. Often funny and sometimes heartfelt, sexy and nerdy (references to Mel Brooks and the Coen Brothers abound) with just the right amount of smut, Nookietown is the kind of novel I’d have loved as a teenager and enjoyed as an adult, despite not being the novel’s intended audience.

Now, welcome back, time-traveling friends! Here’s that video I promised:

Have you read Nookietown? How did you figure out time travel? Let me know in the comments below!


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Somebody’s getting married! (A guide to your first same-sex wedding)

First, congratulations! Someone you know is getting married, and that’s a significant and happy thing. It’s quite likely this wedding couldn’t have happened two months ago, and it almost definitely couldn’t have happened ten years ago, which probably makes it even more meaningful for the people involved.

Given this newness, it’s likely you have some questions. Many social institutions are still figuring out how to recognize same-sex marriages and married couples. The laws are changing all the time; in the United States, the most recent significant change happened less than two months ago when the Supreme Court ruled that states must “license a marriage between two people of the same sex” and “recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.”* Since this ruling, approximately 40% of Americans still opposed this legalization.** Religious bodies are making new decisions as to whether they will bless these unions, and whether they will treat them equally with those of opposite-sex couples.

The cover of the New York Times from June 27, the day after the Supreme Court ruling, showcasing a dozen happy couples.

The questions you have probably depend a lot on your role in this wedding. You may have just received an invitation in the mail from a friend or relative. You may have been invited to be an attendant (i.e. bridesmaid, groomsman, usher, etc.). You may have been asked to officiate, to take photos, to bake a cake. Someone may have just proposed to you—in which case, even more congratulations! It turns out, in many ways the questions and the answers are the same as they would be in the case of an opposite-sex wedding. A wedding is a wedding, and most of them look alike in most ways. The only thing you can count on at a same-sex wedding is that there will be either two brides or two grooms and at the end of it they will consider themselves married to each other.

It turns out, a lot of stuff traditional etiquette or wedding planning books might tell you about weddings is gender-specific. Things done for the groom, by the groom’s family, with the bride, by her father, etc. Everything from who proposes marriage to who takes who’s last name has gender-specific traditions. And while anyone can choose to be walked down an aisle by or dance with a parent, everything needs to be planned and paid for by someone. These weddings can take more active thought and decision than opposite-sex weddings, because there isn’t a tradition to fall back on.

There are a few categories of things to consider if you have some responsibility for putting on one of these weddings:

The Law

Here in Pennsylvania, marriages between couples of the same sex have been legal since a district court ruling in May 2014. As of July 2015, marriage is legal throughout the United States regardless of the gender of the couple involved. This applies in all 50 states and the territories (with the possible exception of American Samoa). Federally recognized Native American tribes operate under separate jurisdiction, and can still decide individually whether to recognize and/or perform same-sex marriages. Currently, twenty other nations also allow these marriages to be performed legally. If the wedding in question is being held outside the country, the legal logistics may be different than at home.

However, there are places within the country where the law is not being applied. Couples in some counties have been refused licenses, and some state government officials have been encouraging this refusal. Additionally, while marriage is legal, in many parts of the country discrimination based on sexual orientation is also legal. This can make it more difficult for to arrange vendors for things like locations, flowers, cakes, photography, etc. When contracting for these sorts of services, it is often good to ask what experience they’ve had with same-sex weddings, and if they (and their staff) are comfortable with them. While there is value in fighting for your rights, there is also value in feeling supported and appreciated by everyone involved in your wedding day.


Many people getting married (even those not actively involved in a congregation) find themselves wanting a religious presence within the ceremony. As Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson says, the state licenses unions; the church blesses them. That sense of blessing may manifest by holding the ceremony within a church, having it performed by a religious official, and/or having passages from sacred texts read. If one or both partners are members of a religious group, it is likely one where they feel accepted and welcomed. However, sectarian restrictions may prevent even a supportive religious official from officiating at a same-sex wedding ceremony, or holding one within their building.

While sects may have policies regarding entering, performing, or sanctioning same-sex weddings, neither policy nor doctrine address other kinds of participation such as attending or performing contracted services. No couple sends invitations to a wedding intending to cause people to sin, or even to witness sinning. They desire their guests to love, and witness loving.

Etiquette and Protocol

Many parts of weddings are dictated by tradition—cultural, ethnic, religious, and more. Weddings are rituals, and have meaning in part because they have so many familiar elements within them. Unfortunately for same-sex couples, many of these traditions are specific to one or the other gender. Adapting to a couple’s needs may be as simple as changing language (e.g. best men, groomswoman, couple’s shower), or as emotionally fraught as deciding whether one or both partners will change their last name.

Same-sex couples are older, on average, than opposite-sex couples when they get married. This may change in the future as the couples who were only waiting for marriage legalization take advantage of new opportunities. Nevertheless, because they are older, they are more likely to have established financial independence from their parents. This means that they are more likely to fund and host the event themselves, and may have less familial pressure as to the wedding’s specifics.

As anyone not a bride or groom, etiquette is pretty much identical to that at any other wedding. You are a part of this because somebody cares about you and believes you care about them. They think you and they would be happier if you showed up. If there are specifics you are unsure about (i.e. how to address the couple after they are married, what to wear, whether it is appropriate to bring children, what sort of gift to bring), ask!

Or, just wear your best top hat and rainbow unicorn horn. Always in style.

Want to know more about planning a same-sex wedding? About the process of legalization in America? About religious attitudes towards same-sex marriages? The library has some great resources for all of these!

Planning Guides

The Essential Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings

The Gay Couple’s Guide to Wedding Planning

Modern Brides and Modern Grooms: A guide to planning straight, gay and other non-traditional twenty-first-century weddings

The Lesbian Couple’s Guide to Wedding Planning

The New Gay Wedding: A practical primer for brides and grooms, their families and guests

Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony

Church and State

Blessings Same-Sex Unions: The perils of queer romance and the confusions of a Christian nation

The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An evangelical’s change of heart

God Believes in Love: Straight talk about gay marriage

When Gay People Get Married: What happens when societies legalize same-sex marriage

Speak Now: Marriage equality on trial

From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, backlash and the struggle for same-sex marriage

Same-Sex Marriage in the United States: The road to the Supreme Court

Essays, History, and Etiquette

Here Come the Brides! Reflections on lesbian love and marriage

Same-Sex Marriage: The personal and political

Charity and Sylvia: A same-sex marriage in early America

Outlaw Marriages: The hidden histories of fifteen extraordinary same-sex couples

Steve Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners: The definitive guide to LGBT life

-Bonnie T.

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Somebody’s Getting Married (not me)

Tomorrow, I’m attending the wedding of two friends from college (Two asides: 1. I’m at the same table as the professor I had for Philosophy. This is not a hardship – he’s awesome. 2. The wedding is loosely Neil Gaiman-themed. I love my nerdy friends.). They’re pretty great people and I’m excited for a fun day.

Between helping my sister plan her own a few years ago and just being a late 20-something lady with basic cable (Say Yes to the Dress and My Fair Wedding, anyone?), I have a mild fascination with wedding culture. Not necessarily for the crazy amounts of money folks spend, but that it is one of those very important life events that still follows specific social conventions and traditions.

If you’re planning a big day for yourself, or you just like to be an etiquette know-it-all, check out these planning books:

– Jess, who is humming this song


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Mr. Peanut Sneaks Up On You…

At first you think the novel Mr. Peanut is going to be this simple tale about a man who fantasizes about killing his wife…and who may or may not have gone through with it. But then the author, Adam Ross, throws in all these other characters and their disturbed lives. All of a sudden you are trying to keep up with multiple inner monologues from some extremely lonely characters, and puzzling over what the storylines’ connections might be.

Personally, I enjoy novels with deeply troubled characters, and I want to know everything about them. Mr. Peanut definitely delivers in this respect: Ross is an expert at putting his readers at the center of the characters’ brains and then spinning them around in circles for a few hundred pages. He makes you wish you could jump into the novel and warn the female characters about what’s coming next, and it’s all the more deliciously terrifying to read because you can’t. You can only watch, helplessly, as the characters’ marriages dissolve.

Ross draws one character and storyline from real life: Dr. Sam Sheppard, whose own murder trial inspired the television show The Fugitive (later made into two films, one of which you can get at your library). It is fascinating to watch Ross’s version of Sheppard as he falls from grace. The reader learns so much about who he was and how his life turned completely rotten. And even though you know how that plotline will end, you still almost want to shut your eyes in horror at the most terrifying parts.

But don’t! Mr. Peanut is worth keeping your eyes wide open.


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Non-fiction fix: Loads of lovely love

Today is my parents’ 38th wedding anniversary – how cool is that?  Staying with the same person for more than three decades is no mean feat, especially since the complexities of loving and being loved are among the thorniest mysteries of being alive.

Whether you’re happily married, single and satisfied, desperately seeking somebody, or all up in your companion animals, the library’s got loads of lovely love for you. Here’s sample of the helpful advice, warm fuzzies and snarky laughter waiting for you in our collection:

A Practical Handbook for the Boyfriend, Felicity Huffman and Patricia Wolff. With their tongues wedged so firmly in their cheeks they look like squirrels hoarding nuts for winter, Huffman and Wolff offer suggestions for men who want to be good boyfriends. It’s a bit like training for The A Team, apparently. Who knew? If their advice works out for you, you can move on to The Mr. and Mrs. Happy Handbook and Why Did I Marry You Anyway?.

Career Renegade, Jonathan Fields. Life is short, and you spend most of it at work. Shouldn’t you be doing something you love? See also Living Your Heart’s Desire and A Life at Work for some thoughts about crafting a career with soul and spirit.

One Big Happy Family, Rebecca Walker. It’s a complicated world, and there are as many ways to relate to a person as there are individuals to love. Walker’s collection showcases the triumphs and challenges of non-traditional family structures by giving a voice to the people who embody them.  See also Opening Up, Together Forever and Best Date Ever.

The Powerful Bond Between People and Pets, P. Elizabeth Anderson. Ever wonder why people lavish so much money and time on critters that can’t talk back (in human language)? Anderson, a clinical psychologist, examines the compelling pull of a fuzzy face on the human heart, and shows how that bond plays out in various social contexts.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Divorce and Recovery, Jack Canfield. You may be down, but you don’t have to be out. This particular serving of Canfield’s signature soup is designed to give you the gumption to heal up, then get up and get back in the game. Those who prefer a more tough-love approach to healing might enjoy the “cover your bases” approach of The Sweet Potato Queens’ Wedding Planner and Divorce Guide.  Before you know it, you’ll be ready to take another shot at marriage (or, possibly, not).

With all due respect to my mom and dad, the thought of spending more than thirty years with the same person kind of gives me the wiggins. I’m open to the possibility that I could change my mind, especially for the right person. But for now, life seems pretty good.  I’ve got two adorable cats, one interesting gentleman caller (who, incidentally, doesn’t need the Huffman book), and a career I adore.  On top of that, the career part involves working in a 114-year-old building packed to the brim with fabulous co-workers (plus more books and materials than they’ll let me check out at any one time), and helping all of you find interesting and educational books to read.  Who could ask for anything more?

Your turn, constant reader:  who, or what, do you love?

–Leigh Anne

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I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock and Roll)

Actually, I didn’t, but I like that song

Some dear friends of mine are getting married in a couple of weeks.  As they get down to the wire with the details of their wedding, they are borrowing all kind of materials from the library, mostly CDs for dancing. 

We have so many things that can help with your wedding, whether it’s music for the ceremony, music for the reception, DVDs to help you with your first dance, DVDs to remind you that yours isn’t the only family that’s insane…  Here’s a sampling of items you might try:

And in honor of the fact that weddings these days seem to be about more, more, more, there’s more!  If twelve hours of Martha in the 4-disc Martha’s Complete Weddings isn’t enough, you can watch Bake Your Own Wedding Cake.  (Come on, people, I know I’m not the only one who wants to watch this even if I don’t have a wedding coming up!)  See what other people have done in Bravo’s 2002 reality series, Gay Weddings, or in Marriage Customs of the World: From Henna to Honeymoons, by George Monger. To find out what not to do, watch Sixteen Candles.

Finally, you may want to take a step back and look at weddings from a sociological perspective, perspective sometimes being a tough thing to hold on to while planning a wedding. Altared: Bridezillas, Bewilderment, Big Love, Breakups, and What Women Really Think About Contemporary Weddings is a collection of true stories, both touching and humorous, by writers that have caught the wedding bug.


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Pittsburgh Blog for Equality Day

I recently came across a posting on the Pittsburgh Women’s Blogging Society that declared today as Pittsburgh Blog for Equality Day.  Hopefully bloggers all over Pittsburgh are weighing in on what they think about the “Marriage Protection” Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution.  Not sure what that is?  You can read the bill here, or read more about the issue in books like Beyond Straight and Gay Marriage or Courting Equality.

If you are already up on the issue, think about sending a letter or email to your legislators telling them what you think.  They’re there to represent you, and letter writing is a great way to be civically active.  Look here to find out who your legislators are and how to contact them. 



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