Taking the night off to celebrate my 18th wedding anniversary

On Saturday, October 2, 1999, Linette and I were married. Here, to mark the occasion, is a little something I wrote a while back, slightly updated to reflect that yet another year has passed.

Eighteen years ago today, after seven years of living with one another in sin, I married my friend and collaborator Linette Lao. Sadly, as it took place in an age before smartphones, little evidence of this wondrous and magical event exists today. We are fortunate, however, in that we do have this one image, which I believe was taken by my old high school friend Matt, who must have been following us in another car as we pulled in to get gas on our way from the ceremony, which had taken place in a small historic chapel in Northville, to a bar in Plymouth. That’s Linette pumping gas.


If memory serves, I’d started pumping the gas, when one of our friends, who had been following us, suggested that I step aside and let Linette do it. So Linette got out and I handed the nozzle over to her… As for the truck, it’s no longer with us. According to my father, who helped me acquire it, it was assembled by members of a high school auto shop class in rural Kentucky from the parts of several totaled vehicles. And, if you were ever earshot of it, you certainly got that sense. It was like it was at war with itself. There was always a chorus of grinding and clanking… Riding in it, I always thought, was like being inside the body of a patient rejecting multiple transplants simultaneously… But Linette, being the awesome and charitable human being she is, married me anyway.

There was no diamond ring. I’d just recently been laid off from my job at a startup company in California. And all I really had to my name was this truck built from scraps, a degree in American Studies, a pretty good work ethic, and a sense of humor that seemed to resonate reasonably well with zine readers… Things eventually fell into place for us though, as evidenced by the following two photos.

The first was taken by our friend Leisa Thompson about five years ago, when Arlo was just a baby. And the second was taken this past spring, when our friend Doug Coombe, who had been hired to take my picture outside the local all-nude strip club for an article somewhere, decided to keep shooting as Linette and the kids just happened to come walking by.


For what it’s worth, I’m not covering their eyes here because I’m ashamed of what our kids look like. Their eyes aren’t incredibly ugly or anything. And I wouldn’t really care if they were. I just decided several years ago that, barring some kind of blogging emergency, I would’t post photos of them here. Too many bloggers, I think, cash in on the cuteness of their kids, and I didn’t want to be like that. I didn’t want to have either Clementine or Arlo look back in years to come and accuse me of exploiting them, like some kind of Mama June like character. And, more importantly, given how pervasive surveillance culture is in the world today, I thought they deserved to have at least a few years of something approaching privacy, before the floodgates opened for them. With all of that said, though, you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that, if you were to see either of these photos without the grey bars obscuring the identities of Arlo and Clementine, you’d say, “Damn, that’s a really handsome family.”


A lot of people that I meet, who claim to be familiar with this site, seem to think that I share a lot of personal information here. The truth in, however, I don’t. Sure, I may post the occasional photo of myself, or mention that I’d just gone somewhere or done something with my family, but, really, if you think about it, I don’t get into too much detail when it comes to things that really matter. I don’t, as a rule, talk about my relationship with Linette, my professional life, or, for the most part, the kids. Sure, I may pass along a funny quote from Arlo or Clementine here or there, along with an out-of-focus photograph, but that’s about it… Well, I’m going to make a little bit of an exception right now, seeing as how Linette and I are celebrating our 18th anniversary, and share a few thoughts.

I’m pretty damn lucky to have these three people, who you can kind of see in the photos above, in my life. I knew, when I married Linette, that we’d continue to do interesting things, and make a decent life together, but I had no idea just what was in store for us as I stood there at the front of that chapel in Northville sixteen years ago, watching her and her father walk down the aisle toward me. I guess I’d considered the possibility, in the abstract, that we might one day have kids, and what that might entail, but it’s not the kind of thing that you can really prepare for. Thankfully, it turned out that we were well suited for each other, and adequately equipped to work through whatever issues have arisen so far. It hasn’t always been easy, especially when the screaming kids were thrown into the mix, but, when it comes to the important stuff, we’ve always found a way to keep everything together and moving in the right direction.

Who would have thought that a relationship that started at Cross Street Station, the since condemned Ypsilanti dive bar across from the EMU campus, might still be going strong all these years later? The odds would have to be infinitesimal, right? Well, somehow we’ve not only made it work for almost 25 years now, if you count the years before we became “husband and wife” before the eyes of god, but we’ve done it in such a way that we’ve been able to accomplish more than either one of us ever could have alone. We’ve not only started raising two bright, funny, inquisitive kids, but we’ve also been able to launch several ventures in the process, and still find the time to remain engaged in our community, which is what we’d hoped for when, living in California, we first started talking about the possibility of moving back and putting down roots in this community where we’d first met.

And, really, what else could you want from life? We’re happy, we’ve got healthy, smart kids, and we feel as though we’re where we’re supposed to be. Yeah, maybe it would have been nice if I’d gotten that Hollywood writing job when we were living in LA, but I doubt the outcome would have been any better in the long run. When it comes to the stuff that really matters, I don’t think either of us could have asked for a better outcome. We’ve managed to create a supportive, collaborative relationship that’s allowed us to bring a few pretty decent kids into the world, and create stuff in a community that we truly care about. Everyone should be so lucky.

update: Apparently my memory wasn’t as good as I thought that it was. My friend Matt wasn’t following in another car when he took the photo of Linette pumping gas. He was actually inside the car with us. Here, with his permission, is his recounting of what happened.

“As usual our memories differ. Dan and I were riding in the back seat, there was no car following you. And it was after the bar on the way to the reception (according to the chronology of my film roll). My memory is that Linette wanted to pump the gas, not that anyone suggested she do so, but maybe I missed you or Dan suggesting it. Anyway, I took the photo because she was pumping the gas, I didn’t request her to pump gas for the sake of a photo. Too bad it wasn’t video, so we could hear all the people waiting at the intersection honking their horns at the bride at the gas pump.”

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  1. teacherpatti
    Posted October 1, 2017 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Mark, this is absolutely lovely! Your words are true–about ending up where we should be. My self loathing tends to be epic at times and I spend many hours beating myself up for not trying harder to be a best selling writer (even though it really all comes down to luck) and not doing this or that or being a big timey lawyer or whatever. So I know you didn’t know you were doing this, but you made me feel better with those amazing words. And it’s all about me.

    Just kidding–seriously, congratulations to you and your lovely family! I’m glad you decided to come back to Michigan. :)

  2. EOS
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Happy Anniversary. I hope you got your wife a nice, new gift and didn’t just recycle a previous one.

  3. Jean Henry
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    You are a lucky dog with a beautiful family. Congratulations. I like the lot of you. Have a great day off.

  4. Posted October 2, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    What an absolutely delightful, inspiring, uplifting post, Mark — and not just because I read it on a wrenching day when it provides valued balance.

    We’re so fortunate to be able to read your reflections on matters great and small. Almost as fortunate as you and Linette and your children are.

    Happy anniversary.

  5. Mariah B Cherem
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    Your truck looks like it was made from Blazer/Jimmy parts. I recognize the style ’cause I had a similar truck around that time too — with a junkyard back door with a bullethole(!) in it. Loved it, but even with mostly its own parts, it was constantly falling apart!

    This might be one of my favorite wedding portraits I’ve seen — Linnette looks both lovely and strong/oh-so-capable. Happy anniversary!

  6. Dan Blakeney
    Posted October 2, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink


  7. Cayge Clements
    Posted October 5, 2017 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    So happy that you are both doing so well. 18 years!

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