otherwise engaged

BridezillajenlucLife has a way of throwing you curve balls occasionally, just to keep you on your toes. Sometimes the twists aren't so pleasant, but then again, sometimes they lead you in an exciting new direction you might not have otherwise explored. Case in point: When I moved to New York City after finishing college in Seattle, I had no idea I'd end up writing about physics and related sciences for a living — and that it would be the perfect career for me.

Something similar happened when I started a blog called Cocktail Party Physics back in February. Among the many emails I received welcoming me to the blogosphere was a friendly missive from Cosmic Variance's Sean Carroll. Sensing a kindred spirit, we struck up an intermittent email exchange, eventually meeting at the APS April Meeting in Dallas. It was an unlikely setting for love to bloom, but nonetheless, bloom it did.

I now find myself engaged to this very same Sean Carroll — as in, to be married. (Sean's own blogannouncement is here.) Past dating advice to geeks notwithstanding, my new fiancee status is quite the novelty, and I'm still navigating the unexpected twists and turns of the new fork my Road of Life is taking. But I promise not to turn into Bridezilla: wedding frenzy will not take over the cocktail party. (Jen-Luc Piquant, on the other hand, has been reading far too many back issues of Modern Bride, and is losing her Cyber-cool just  a bit.)

Some may wonder: why Sean Carroll, Masteroftheuniverse and not some other bloggy physicist or science type? I could provide a laundry list of reasons stretching into infinity, since one rarely needs an excuse to sing the praises of one's beloved. But I'll spare my readers. Let's just say that the man has his very own bag of plush plagues, stuffed toys that represent the biblical ten plagues of Egypt. There's even a tiny black cube of darkness. With eyes. I covet Sean's bag of plagues, and figure the best way of sneakily appropriating them for my own is to enter into the bonds of matrimony. Community property and all that.

But the real reason is best illustrated by this: On Wednesday, after I'd finished my blogging duties at the Industrial Physics Forum in San Francisco, we drove to his new home in Los Angeles via the "scenic route" along the coast. At sunset, we stopped briefly to refuel and to admire the brilliant orange, red and purple hues stretching across the horizon, and savor the peaceful sound of waves lapping against the shore. It was the perfect romantic setting to cap off a long and tiring several days. Sean is nothing if not romantic. So he put his arms around me and whispered, "Wouldn't it be fascinating to take a Fourier transform of those waves?"

I will never listen to ocean waves or view a beautiful sunset in quite the same way again. He is always doing this, surprising me with an off-the-cuff observation, confronting my too-pat assumptions, challenging me to consider things from a variety of angles rather than the easiest or most obvious, and joyously inviting me to share his passion for discovering as many mysteries of the universe as we can manage in our comparatively short time here on earth. I can't imagine anyone else I'd rather have by my side as I take this new fork in my Life-road. Who knows where it will lead? All I know is — I won't be bored.

59 thoughts on “otherwise engaged”

  1. Does this mean you’re moving to LA (Sunnydale)? Hooray! And congrats! I once had my very ownes crush on Dr. Carroll, and am so very happy to hear that he’s over the moon for a member of the slayage sisterhood.
    This is all so lovely!

  2. Congratulations, Jennifer, let me be the second to say best wishes for a happy, healthy, intellectually stimulating, and “physical” life together! And fun…don’t forget the fun. 🙂

  3. Congratulations! And hooray for the Internet as a way of helping bring people together, in contrast to the stereotype as it being a way of subverting human interaction.

  4. Words fail me, so I’ll fall back on platitudes. Congratulations, Jen – I wish you both a lifetime of joy. (You can get the plushy plagues at Archie MacPhee.)
    I’m so very happy for you!

  5. But what happens to an internet avatar when her meat world counterpart becomes spoken for? Is pauvre petite Jen-Luc destined for a virtual life of old maidhood? You know, I know this very nice avatar over on the Huffington Post…
    Congrats to you both!

  6. Thanks to everyone for the congrats… Can’t respond to everyone in turn, but I can answer a few obvious questions:
    (1) Yep, I’ll be moving to Los Angeles, although finding time to actually make the move, given our respective schedules in the first half of 2007, will be a major challenge.
    (2) We so could not have made this work without the glories of the Internet! A truly amazing series of tubes!
    (3) I didn’t get a diamond anvil, but there was a mishap with the ring re-sizing that might just spawn a blog post about the materials properties of gold… and possibly diamond… based on that terrific comment thread a couple of weeks ago.
    (4) Jen-Luc Piquant feels a bit betrayed and abandoned at the moment, since she’d always envisioned a nice long mutual spinsterhood for us both. She might be interested in meeting a few attractive avatars… although ideally, she wants a Phil Plait avatar. 🙂

  7. Congratulations to both of you…
    In a strange coincidence, only two days back, I started a series on Fourier series at my blog… 😉

  8. “Sean is nothing if not romantic. So he put his arms around me and whispered, ‘Wouldn’t it be fascinating to take a Fourier transform of those waves?'”
    Brought tears to my eyes.

  9. The Wonders of the Blogosphere

    First – great news! Jennifer and Sean are getting married! They found each other online, blogging physics. Now, I know they are not the first people to find each other online and get married, but, to my knowledge, this is…

  10. Much hearty clinking of foamy mugs to you both!
    As someone who has been married to another physicist for 15 years, I will warn you that you are joining a VERY exclusive club of profoundly strange couples. Have I mentioned here before that my wife-to-be and I held hands in graduate quantum mechanics class? Looking back, that weirds even ME out!
    And don’t even get me started on the kids! Our then two-year-old daughter spontaneously used the phrase “Thermal shock!” when exiting an air conditioned room into the hot CA sun. Any kids you have are clearly doomed from the start!
    You have my sincere good wishes for a long, successful, and strange marriage!

  11. As one physics geek a long way down the asperger’s scale (and I just about manage to function with people suffering “normal social adjustment syndrome” around me) married to another such I can heartily recommend the union. How else could you say things like “Oops, it’s spontaneously decayed to the ground state” when you drop something on the floor and have your partner understand? Or better yet, have *her* make that quip to you…sigh.
    And yes, the kids are a problem. For other people.
    Enjoy. And did I mention congratulations?

  12. I’m sure Jen-Luc will bounce back – she’s French, right? There’s lots of room on the World Wide Web for her to traipse around gurgling, “Je voudrais une chambre pour deux personnes,” for every avatar she meets. And who could blame her, now that her mistress will be ensconced with a handsome physicist at Cal Tech? She may even feel liberated in time (well, ok, *more* liberated). And besides, it appears she already has some admirers…

  13. Happy news!

    Awww, it’s a romance made in the blogosphere: Sean Carroll and Jennifer Ouellette, my two very favoritest physics bloggers, are getting married. And it involves APS meetings and Fourier transforms, all intensely romantic. This calls for some romantic i…

  14. ‘So he put his arms around me and whispered, “Wouldn’t it be fascinating to take a Fourier transform of those waves?”‘
    Such a romantic thing!
    Congratulations to you both

  15. Wow you give new meaning to natural phenomenon when you get us to be thinking about Fourier transforms.
    Keep up your wonderful blog, we really enjoy your take on things.

  16. Of all the news I expected to receive this sunny Saturday morning, this was **not** on the list, but it brought a smile regardless. Many congratulations and wishes for the best of all possible futures together!
    I always **knew** the Internet was the cure for loneliness. . . .

  17. As Groucho Marx once said: Marriage is a wonderful institution – but who wants to live in an institution?
    I keed, of course. Congratulations and best wishes.

  18. “Boy, I don’t know; Fourier or wavelet analysis?”
    Well.. wavelet, of course! The short, high-frequency basis functions and the long, low-frequency basis functions capture the essences of a marriage better, don’t you think? Congratulations Jennifer and Sean!

  19. Congratulations Jenniffer!
    It sounds like a cliché, but good old Sean is a true lucky guy! As a long time Cosmic Variance (and before that Preposterous Universe) visitor I always have enjoyed his writings and links , which eventually brought me here. Honest to say that this time I came through Pharyngula. The news really brought a genuine smile to my face, as if both of you were long time pals of mine . I also discovered, with a mixture of suprise, shame and fun , that you wrote a post answering my tongue in cheek request long time ago. I will try to put those advices in practices, who knows? Maybe I could be the next lucky guy!!!! 😀

  20. Congratulations.
    When you take the spatial FT of the sea, look out for parabolic structures characteristic of the gravity wave (in the hydrodynamic sense) dispersion relation, and group lines and higher harmonics resulting from non-linearity.

  21. I’ll delurk long enough to say Congrats to you both. I’ve also moved the bookmark tags for your two blogs side by side on the shortcut bar. Return to Lurker status.

  22. Congratulations, definitely an occassion for celebration and dinner and drinks, when you are next in New York — your friends at 3quarksdaily!

  23. As someone who also met her soul mate on the internet (and a newbie to your blog, thanks to Phil Plait…congratulations! My husband and I met on AOL 14 years ago. Two kids later, I still sometimes can’t believe my luck that our waveforms collapsed in just the right way. 😉

  24. I have read both your blogs regularly, admiring both and having no idea of the connection. I’m glad your collision cross-sections were just big enough.

  25. Congratulations JQ! Anyone can see from your friendly, didactic style that your a really nice person, not just out on an ego trip like so many bloggers. You just shine through!
    All the best!

  26. Congratulations. I just bought your book the other day so consider that fat royalty check ($2? $3?, I have no idea) your wedding present.

  27. Jennifer writes: “… about the materials properties of gold… and possibly diamond…” and this reminds me of one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Someone setting fire to a (very small) diamond. They burn prettily, but I still wonder about the sanity of a goldsmith who sets a diamond on fire to show a 12-year-old “work experience” placement something he will remember for a very long time.

  28. Cocktail Party Physics

    I just bumped into a really terrific blog. Hat tip to the always interesting, ever lovely Dr. Tara, who posted about Jennifers impending marriage.

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