Sunday, December 28, 2008

Time After...

Waldwick High School class of 1998 - We always managed to do things just a little bit differently, a little bit half-assed, haha. Our reunion was held in the private third-floor room of the Allendale Bar & Grill. Most people get dolled up for their high school reunion, trying to make a good impression on people who most likely saw them at their worst. Pretty much everybody at this reunion wore jeans. Only about a third of our class came, and considering that we graduated with only 90-ish people, it wasn't exactly a large crowd. I think everyone who went had a decent time; it's hard to take much seriously when the room is dominated by a beer pong table. Overall, it was exactly what I expected it to be, thought I'm not sure if that's good or bad.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Clock Ticks Life Away...

All good things come to an end, I'm told. I guess if you live long enough, life continues to change, and eventually each thing that you care about will have to pass away.

The final Wednesday night at the Junkyard took place on 17 December. Knowing that it would be Lifespeed's last appearance there, everyone came out, and the place was packed. It took forever to
get around the bar, and we were all sweating after just a few minutes of standing there. Haha, reminded me of plenty of summer nights over the years! Tommy was working behind the bar with Mikey, our crew was annexed from our usual position and forced into the stage-side corner, there were so many old friends and strange new faces, Judy was getting wasted on Jameson shots...

It was definitely a strange night, but what a way to go out! By the end, I was standing on the stage taking pictures of the crowd, James was on Matt's shoulders playing his guitar, Judy was dancing on the bar...and then everyone was saying goodbye. The Junkyard will be open for another month or so, but this was our final Wednesday night, and that's all that mattered.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

...Do What You Do...

December was certainly a busy month for shows! Just a few days after driving to Atlantic City for Avenged Sevenfold, then Starland Ballroom for Life of Agony the following day, we headed into NYC for Mudvayne.

The Fillmore at Irving Plaza will probably always be my favorite venue. It's so small and cozy, and has this great little balcony above so you can stay out of the fray and still have a view. Matt, Jenna, Tommy, and I drove into the city after work, and parked at the garage around the corner that we've become so familiar with.

Snot was the first band to play, and as I wasn't really into their new lineup, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention. They were energetic, and got the crowd going. Then Ten Yea
rs came on and basically put the entire place to sleep. I'm not saying they didn't put on a good show, just that it was far too slow and mellow to keep us all going.

Throughout the night, I was putting down Guinness' like there was no work tomorrow. I hadn't eaten anything all day, so this wasn't the best plan. At one point, Tommy and I ran down the long staircase and out the front door for a cigarette. No problems then, but on the way back up the stairs, I realized how drunk I was when I missed a step and fell face-first onto the stairway. Tommy was hysterical, but he promised that no one had seen and that he wouldn't tell anyone. His promise didn't matter much, since I ran back upstairs and immediately told everyone the story of my crash landing
. A few minutes later, Matt claims that I lost my balance and fell into a wall. In reality, I was trying to lean against said wall, and it was simply further away than I expected. Not my proudest moments.

Anyway, we planned to hang out on the balcony for Mudvayne, expecting the crowd below to get pretty violent. About halfway through the first song, however, my drunken self decided that downstairs looked like so much more fun! I left the other three upstairs and made my way into the crowd. For some reason, every time I tapped a person in front of me on the shoulder, they saw that I was a small girl and just let me in front of them. Within a couple of songs, I was at the front rail without having to push a single person. I snapped some pictures up close, and grinned and waved at my astonished friends standing upstairs. Picture note: the lead singer came out wearing an Elmo costume without the head.

In the end, we all had a blast at the show, and I was ready to pass out by the time we started driving home. Work was no fun the next day!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

...Wicked Ways

After a busy night (Can't Touch This) and very little sleep, I wasn't really in the mood for another show. Ira and I had made plans to see Life of Agony at Starland Ballroom on 13 December, however, and I wasn't about to disappoint him!

Once again, we met at the Hillside house, then headed down to Sayreville, NJ, about a 40-minute drive. The show started at 4 or 5 in the afternoon, I can't remember which. We met up with a couple of Ira's friends from work, Pete and Cheryl, and Cheryl's friend Billy, and just hung out for a while. There were five different opening bands, and I had he
ard of none of them! We took lots of silly pictures, Billy and I chatted cars over cigarettes, and I watched everyone but me get seriously wasted, haha. Some other friends of Cheryl's showed up, and we all split up for a bit.

When I looked for the group of them later on, Ira was all by himself on the right side of the stage. He was all the way up against the rail, and clearly wasn't planning to move until the show was over. I hung out in his area for a while, and suddenly someone yelled at me, "You're from Waldwick!" Apparently, this girl was a few years younger than me and friends with some people that I had graduated high school with. She didn't look even vaguely familiar, but she knew all about me. She was very excited and introduced me to all of her friends. I stayed there for a few minutes, feeling extremely uncomfortable. Then, her boyfriend's brother spilled his entire beer all over me, and I took the opportunity to get away.I moved over to the left side of the stage, and found Pete, Cheryl, Billy, and their other friends. The other girl and guy were extremely drunk, and were getting pretty pushy with everyone around them. I could only handle that for a little while, so I wandered up into the bar area and sat down for a little while. After two days of shows, my feet and knees were killing me!

Just before LIfe of Agony came on, I headed back over to check on Ira, who was in the same spot and finally sobering up. Pete, Billy, and Cheryl were also in the same place as before, but their other friends were gone. When I asked where they were, I found out that Billy and Cheryl had gotten into a fistfight with them because they were being violent, and had gotten security to throw them out. Hmmm, ok?! Anyway, the band we'd come to see finally got started, and they played an excellent show.

As the place cleared out, Ira and I got separated, and he headed to the car. Fearing that the other girl and guy might assault me if I walked alone through the parking lot (wait, what did I do?!), Cheryl, Billy, and Pete walked me to the car to meet him. Overall, it was a long, strange night, and I was exhausted by the time we made it home.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Can't Touch This

Matt, Jenna, Dave & I took a little holiday from work on Friday, December 12. As Matt's birthday present, I bought tickets for the four of us to see Avenged Sevenfold at the House of Blues in Atlantic City.

Dave & I used the morning to go to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and change our drivers licenses and car registrations to the new address. It was a quick process, for once, th
ough we weren't able to register the Subaru that day. The finance company still holds the title, so I will have to notify them to send it to the NJMVC, and once it gets there, register the car. It will be annoying to take off another day of work, but at least it's still legally registered in NY. The 300zx and Dave's Challenger were no problem to register, of course, since they aren't what we drive everyday!

Matt and Jenna met up with us at the Airmont house, since we were still sleeping there. We all loaded into the Subaru and headed to AC, stopping off at a rest stop for some Burger King for dinner (ugh). We made it down there in good time, and did some gambling in the Showboat Casino. As usual, Dave managed to win quite a bit of money, this time from some slot machines. I actually won about $100 as well, so that paid for beer for all of us for the night.

Burn Halo was the first opening band, and by the end of their set, Dave had declared them the soundtrack to his personal hell. It wasn't that they were bad, or out of tune, or that we didn't like an individual song. It was just that they seemed so repetitive, as if all of the songs were interchangeable.

Shadows Fall was next. We all really enjoyed them, even Dave, and the crowd was immediately energized by their music. Jenna and I were drinking as heavily as we could when the beers cost $7 each throughout this set, so we were pretty toasty by the time they finished. While waiting for Avenged Sevenfold to come on, we chatted with some of the guys in the crowd, a few of which wouldn't leave us alone (haha). Jenna had agreed to push up with me towards the front, so we started making our way forward, leaving Dave and Matt on the outskirts of the crowd.

Once Avenged started playing, the entire crowd mashed forward, and Jenna and I were constantly fighting for position. I'm very familiar with this feeling, with people crushed against you from both the front and back, but Jenna seemed pretty uncomfortable. After a little while, she signalled me that she was giving up, and pushed back out to the stand with the guys. By this point, I was only a few people back from the rail, so I held my ground. The people in my area were pretty n
asty, shoving each other and arguing, but I was able to block most of it out. Then, this small Asian guy behind me started to get really physical with me, rubbing against my back in an obvious sexual way, until I finally turned around and punched him in the chest. His girlfriend was pretty upset about it, but I was able to push through and get a few people between us, and I didn't see them again.

Distractions aside, it was a great show, and I really enjoyed myself. When their set ended, I was completely drenched in my own and other people's sweat, reeked of alcohol, and had a few bruises, but completely happy to have been there. We all loaded back up into the car and headed home. Jenna and Matt were sleeping within a few miles of Atlantic City, and slept all the way back to New York.

Friday, November 14, 2008

...Winter Can Be Cozy...

Not that it's winter...I think it's like 60 degrees here today.

Last night's dinner:

Taco Soup
2 lbs Ground Beef
1 chopped Onion
2-14oz cans diced Tomatoes
1 can Rotell
1 can Corn
1 can Pinto beans
1 can Small Red Beans
1 pouch Taco Seasoning
3 cans Beef Broth
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream
1 small jar chopped Jalapenos (optional)

Brown ground beef and onion; drain. Add all other ingredients. Simmer for 30 minutes or more. Sprinkle each bowl with shredded cheese (I used Mexican 4-cheese) and add a small dollop of sour cream.

We were starving by the time 30 minutes had passed, so I served up our bowls and let the rest simmer through dinner and clean-up. Dave liked it so much that he had me invite Matt and Jenna over for dinner tonight so he could have it again. That's 2 dinners last night, 4 dinners tonight, and I expect to have enough left for two or three lunches.

Monday, November 10, 2008

...How It's Going to End

Well, after six years of Halloween Havoc, it has finally come to an end. We held the party once again this year, but due to our impending move, as well as certain people's behavior, this has definitely been the last one.

The best part of the party was that we took a small amount of our wedding gift money and bought Rich a plane ticket to fly up from Tulsa, OK. We picked him up at the airport on Friday, and he was able to spend the whole weekend with us!

As far as the party itself, I can only really remember the bad parts. Turtle** destroye
d Ira's costume, nearly started a fight with a bunch of our friends, and completely trashed our downstairs bathroom, including throwing up in the bathtub (really fun to clean up!) and breaking the shower door handle. Ira sideswiped Rooster's** car on his way out of the driveway. Two groups of people almost got into a fight because someone apparently yelled racial slurs at one of our friends. I finally had to tell the last people to leave, friends of friends that I had never met before, because two of them busted into the guestroom intent on having sex in what was Rich's bed for the weekend. The worst part was that someone stole Dave's iPod, completely disrespecting us and our hospitality.

Every year, the party got a little bit more out of hand, but at least everyone got along and maintained a certain level of respect for our property, as their hosts. It's sad that the people I remember as being the worst behaved were some of my closest friends.

**Gotta love our friends' nicknames!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

...Never Enough...

On Thursday, 23 October, Matt, Jenna, Tommy and I headed over to the Fillmore at Irving Plaza in NYC for Bury Your Dead, In This Moment, and Five Finger Death Punch. Haha, gotta love the names of the bands we see! Jenna picked this show, and the rest of us didn't really know the bands very well. Only Matt had ever been to the Filmore before, so between the unknown bands and the unfamiliar venue, we had no idea what we were getting into.

Jenna decided to drive, so after work Tommy drove to her house, then they picked me up at my house, and we all went up to Matt's job to pick him up. From there, we hopped on the Palisades Parkway and headed for the city. We hit traffic at the toll for the George Washington Bridge, as always. There was a dog in the car next to us, so Tommy started barking at it, and got the dog barking, too. Then, we heard another dog answering from our other side. The two dogs just kept going until finally the one next to us got yelled at by his owner. We all felt bad for getting him in trouble, haha.

We finally crossed the George Washington Bridge and headed down the West Side Highway. We all were a little confused with the directions, but finally found the place, and managed to find a parking garage right around the corner.

The Fillmore was built in 1914, and has existed as a ballroom, nightclub, boxing venue, Polish dance hall, veterans' club, and who knows what else. There is a bar and lounge area on the first floor, along with the restrooms, but the main venue is on the second floor. A stage dominates one end, with a bar along the opposite wall, and a large open area in between. Up another set of stairs is another bar with lounge area, and a balcony that overlooks the second floor. Overall, the Fillmore feels small and intimate, but not cramped. We had no problem moving through the crowd, and there were many great vantage points.

We arrived just as Bury Your Dead was taking the stage. I had never heard of the band, but they were high energy and engaging, and we liked them before they even played a note. The music was heavy, the vocals were screaming, but mostly understandable. The lead singer climbed speakers and stood on high platforms, playing for the balcony crowd as well as the main floor.

In This Moment was a little disappointing. They are Jenna's favorite band, and while they were tight, I found the lead singer a bit whiny. This wasn't very surprising, as I believe that's the main reason why there aren't many female metal singers out there. Matt and Jenna moved up front, but Tommy and I hung out in the back.

Finally, Five Finger Death Punch came on. The crowd went berserk, and the entire floor became a gigantic circle pit. We were able to stay right on the edge of it and have a clear view of the stage without getting hit by anyone. At one point, two friends in front of us got into an argument, and the one guy threw his friend right into the pit, where he immediately got clobbered. Five Finger was excellent, heavy and deep, growling at us. We all really enjoyed the show, and definitely wanted more when it was over. On the way home, we all agreed the the Fillmore was our new favorite venue.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

...We've Had Some Times...

We got back from our honeymoon in Curacao on Saturday night, relaxed on Sunday, went to work on Monday, and then had tickets for a concert Monday night. Matt, Jenna, Tommy, Dave and I met up after work and headed over to Roseland Ballroom to see Thrice, Alkaline Trio, and Rise Against.

We were all looking forward to seeing Thrice, and were slightly disappointed by their set list. Almost everything they played was new, and though Tommy, Matt, and I knew the songs, they weren't what we would have preferred to hear. They were tight and technical, just as we expected, and Dave said he enjoyed it very much.

Alkaline Trio was probably the worst band I have ever heard perform live. When making that statement, I'm including cover bands, teenage bands on tiny stages at Warped Tour, and random original bands playing in dive bars for ten drunks. The lead-singer was completely off-key, and all of the instruments seemed to be out of tune. Jenna was literally covering her ears during their set.

Rise Against was amazing. They played a long set, probably forty-five minutes or so, and we heard nearly every song that we wanted to. The high point of the night was when they did "Swing Life Away." How many couples can say they heard their wedding song performed live? How many of those people saw it just over a week after their wedding? It was great. I'm really glad Dave decided to come to that show with us. It's rare that he goes to our concerts, since the music is not at all what he's in to.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

...Spend Some Time Together...

Monday morning, Dave's dad picked up Dave and I and drove us to JFK airport. The flight to Miami was on a very large plane, and was completely packed. We had a couple of hour layover where we wandered around the terminal and ate some excellent Pizza Hut from an airport stand. The airline had overbooked the flight to Curacao and were offering huge deals to stay in Miami until the following day, but our stay had already been paid for so we couldn't wait. We arrived in Curacao just after dark and were loaded up onto a bus to the resort, along with many other honeymooning couples. We could barely see anything through the bus'** windows, and so didn't have any idea of the layout or scenery of the island.

When we arrived at the hotel, we approached the counter to check in, unsure of the language that would be spoken here. I have a good enough grasp of Spanish to get by, but Curacao is a Dutch island, a language I know nothing about. It turned out that nearly every employee of the hotel spoke English, Spanish, and Dutch, and it was no problem communicating to get checked in. We paid the extra fee for a room safe, and deposited our wallets and passports there. I think I only carried my wallet with me one other time during the entire trip. The room was clean, but felt rather bare, with white tile floors, a queen-sized bed, and a small couch and chair set. It was also an efficiency room, with a little stove and refrigerator, and built in table with chairs. We had paid a little bit extra to have an ocean-front room, and that's exactly what we were given, except that there was a giant trapeze net between the balcony and the actual ocean. It didn't allow for a great view, but at least there was somewhere of our own to sit outside. The bathroom was rather large, with a big shower that could easily fit more than one person (wink). We were starving after a long day of traveling with very little food, so we dropped our bags and headed to the dinner buffet.

At first, we were hesitant to try the food. Everything was scary looking, and it included many items that weren't labeled or that we had never heard of. We both ate only a little bit that night, but every single thing was very good, and we agreed to try everything they had the next day. We picked up a couple of drinks from the bar next to the main pool, crowded with drinkers and children, and went for a walk around the resort. It consisted of many smaller buildings, with many rooms setup motel-style, centrally located around a courtyard with no balconies or ocean views. There were cages sprinkled throughout the grounds filled with large tropical birds and turtles. A breakwater of huge stones and coral had been made around a large area of beach, creating a calm lagoon between the sand and the actual ocean. The beach was deserted, so we lounged around on the chairs for a little while, staring up at the moon and chatting. Then we continued our tour, and found another hotel building at the opposite end of the resort. It was three stories high and u-shaped, with a large rectangular swimming pool in the center. The pool was also deserted, and we agreed to go get our bathing suits on and go for a swim. It took longer to walk back and get changed than we had anticipated, but there was still no one at the pool when we returned. We had a leisurely swim together in the warm water, then headed back to our room and collapsed for the night.

On Tuesday morning, I woke up with a full-blown sinus infection. We were on our honeymoon in a foreign country where the weather was gorgeous, and I was miserable. Over the next four days, we lounged on the beautiful beach, went for many swims in the crystal clear pool and even warmer ocean, kayaked, ate and drank. It's all basically a blur of congestion, heat, and sun. At one point, we walked a ways to a sea aquarium, which was fun, and one afternoon we took a cab to the nearby city of Willemstad to look around. Otherwise, we just hung around at the hotel and relaxed. I tried so hard to stay upbeat, but it was difficult when I felt so terrible. Dave told me over and over again that he didn't mind; he had only planned to relax anyway. :-(

**I actually had to look up whether the possessive of bus should be bus' or bus's. In the end, there is disagreement over which is actually correct, so they are both accepted.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We Get By Just Fine...

We made our way back down the aisle and up the walkway to the side door of the country club. Brian caught up to us to give back my bouquet (oops!), and then Dave and I loaded into a golf cart with the photographer to drive over to the edge of the hill for more pictures. The day was actually too sunny, and it was not easy to get good shots, so we didn't end up taking very many. Once again, we loaded back into the cart, and made our way up to the country club in time to enjoy the majority of the cocktail hour, just as we'd planned.

We walked in the side door, and I was immediately accosted by one of the djs wanting to confirm some of the entrance music and wedding party names. Dave headed inside, and I finished with her as quickly as I could, then made my way towards the party. I couldn't get past the entrance, though, as people came up to hug me and say hello. It felt like there were so many people there, and everyone wanted to talk to me at once! It was hard to give each person the time that they deserved, but that was why we had made sure to attend the cocktail hour, to free ourselves up to really enjoy the entire evening. After quite a while, I found Dave again, and we made the rounds of his family members together. Unfortunately, they were the only people who just didn't seem to be having fun. We did the best we could to be friendly and they were definitely excited to see the two of us, but as soon as we walked away, they all just sat there looking miserable again. We had agreed not to dwell on their attitudes, so we took it in stride and continued to visit with the rest of the guests.

In what seemed like no time, the maitre d' (who resembled Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse) began calling all of our guests to find their place cards and their seats. People were very slow to move into the reception room, and eventually we actually had to go around and personally ask people to head inside. We all lined up for our introductions, and waited for the djs to call our names. Dave had chosen each party member's entrance music, and none of them knew his choices. They were all very surprised, and each one of them was laughing as they walked in, exactly as he had planned. Finally, we made our entrance to the theme from Mad About You, and had our first dance. The song we chose was "Swing Life Away" by Rise Against. That's not really a band whose music you would expect to hear at a wedding, but that's an acoustic song that we really enjoyed, and it fit perfectly. My father chose "Times of Your Life" to dance to with me, and then Dave and his mother danced to "You Are My Sunshine."

Brian gave a wonderful toast, and then Dave's father gave his best man's speech. It was very funny and touching, as he related stories from Dave's childhood, and then our relationship together. The highlight was when he held up the ring boxes from our wedding bands and told everyone they could be thrown away because they'd never hold rings again, and then tossed them out into the crowd, where they narrowly missed Swanny's head and knocked over his drink. Finally, all of the formalities were over, and it was time to party!

Because we had greeted everyone during the cocktail hour, Dave and I were free to enjoy ourselves for the reception. He spent nearly the entire night on the dance floor, while I danced for a little while, then spoke to guests, then danced some more, etc. At one point, someone grabbed me to say that there were fireworks outside. A bunch of us headed out onto the porch, where we saw that someone was shooting off a fireworks display from the area that where we had taken pictures. None of us had anything to do with planning it, so we were pretty confused! It turns out that one of the members of the country club who lives nearby had heard there was a wedding, and he had sent someone out there to put on a show for us. It was beautiful and unexpected, and made the night even more special.

All too soon, people began to leave. The night went so fast for Dave and I that we thought people hadn't had fun and were leaving because of it, but afterwards everyone assured us that they had a great time. Friends of my parents enjoyed themselves so much that they've told us it was the best wedding they ever attended every time they've seen us since! Our wedding musicians said they had never seen such scenery at any of the weddings where they worked.

We invited anyone who wanted to come back to our suite for an after party, and many people made it over. My friends, Dave's Dad's friends, and my parents' friends all mingled and drank together, wandering in and out of our hotel room. One of my favorite memories is of sitting at the bottom of the stairs in front of the hotel with Jenna, Matt, and Tommy, all hugging each other to keep warm. Jenna was sick from drinking, Tommy was drunk enough to be bordering on incoherent, and I was sober. We were all telling each other how much we loved each other, and how glad we were to all be friends, when another hotel guest came out of his room to make a call on his cell phone. Tommy kept screaming at him that we were cold and he was out there in white shorts, haha, though he has no memory of doing it. The last person finally left our room at around 4:30am, and we finally went to sleep.

That Sunday, we had breakfast with whoever was still at the hotel, and then killed some time before heading over to my Uncle Mike's cabin for a barbecue with my family. We
were able to spend a few hours there, and got to have plenty of quality time with my aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, and brother. Knowing that we would have that time with them also allowed us to enjoy the wedding reception even more, since we didn't have to worry that we wouldn't get to see my out-of-town family members. Then we headed home to spend an overnight with the puppies, before hopping on a plane to Curacao for our honeymoon.

In many ways, our wedding was perfect. The setting could not have been better, and it meant so much to me to be married in the Catskills. All of our friends and family were happy and friendly (ok, so maybe not ALL), and there were no arguments or bad feelings between anyone. Everything went as planned, which is great considering how much time and effort went into planning!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My Tribe Went Down...

The procession began at the side door of the country club, went down a long concrete walk (actually the golf cart path), along the aisle between all of our guests' seats, and ended next to the Reverend, looking out over the hills. The day had suddenly warmed up, and the sun was shining in a brilliant clear blue sky. Our friend Ian and his girlfriend Anna had volunteered to play the violin and piano; we walked in to Bach's "Air", and it was exactly as I'd imagined. Dave's father Fred, who was also the best man, led the procession with Dave's grandmother. Next were Dave and his Mom, followed by my Mom with my brother Pete. Brian, my man of honor, walked in alone. Dad and I waited for a few extra seconds, then made our entrance, and I didn't miss a beat in my 6-1/2" heels, haha.

It was weird feeling walking between all of those people. I knew that they were only our family and friends, but somehow it felt like a group of strangers watching me. I caught the eyes of a couple of friends, my boss, my cousin, and realized it was because I was different that they seemed different. They were all smiling at me, but there was a look in their eyes that was unfamiliar, as if they were trying to recognize me, and reconcile this event in their own minds. I was finally able to focus in on Dave, and he was there at the front smiling at me, looking a bit nervous to be in front of all of these people, just like I felt.

Dad and I made our way to the front, and the Reverend came out in front of us to begin the ceremony. Dad stood between Dave and I, where the Reverend would normally stand, and waited for instructions. We had told the Reverend that we wanted to have a spiritual service, not specifically
geared toward any religion, that included prayer, but we had not gotten any more specific. We really had no idea what he was planning!

The Reverend welcomed everyone in a rambling sort of way, including talking about his experiences with other weddings and couples. He was definitely an odd little man, and at first, people looked uncertain as to whether they were allowed to laugh or not. Dave and I were worried that people wouldn't be as amused by his strange ways as we were, but eventually everyone relaxed and went with the flow. The Reverend finally told my father he could give me away, and Dad shook Dave's hand and said, "Good luck!", which got a great laugh from the crowd. He gave me a kiss, and then sat down with my mother in the front row.

Again, the Reverend began capering about, telling stories about how when he met Dave and I, we had talked about how much fun we had together, and how important that was. From the distant hills, we could suddenly hear the sound of shotgun blasts. Everyone looked shocked, but Dave and I started laughing
. A Catskills wedding wouldn't be complete without gunfire! As the Reverend continued, my father was red-faced and hysterical in the front row, proclaiming, "This is the best wedding I've ever been to!"

Finally, we reached the point where Dave and I would declare our own vows. Knowing that I was worried about it, Dave agreed to go first. I hadn't actually written anything down, figuring I would just take my cue from what he said, and speak naturally. Dave talked about making me happy, having fun together, and commented that he hoped to make others happy by eventually having
children, to which my mother loudly responded, "Thank God!" I spoke in much the same way, talking about how I was excited to share every experience with each other, and even when we were apart, I couldn't wait to tell him about whatever had happened. It was all very simple, and personal, and unrehearsed. Many guests came up to us later and told us that they had been touched by our vows, which we were amused by, given that we had made them up on the spot.

Next, we exchanged rings, which went smoothly except for Dave trying to put my ring on the wrong finger! I guess that is something we should have rehearsed. The Reverend began to wrap up the ceremony by discussing our family and friends' roles in our marriage, and then closed with an Apache Blessing:

Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.

Now you will feel no cold,
For each of you will be warmth to the other.

Now there is no more loneliness,
For each of you will be companion to the other.

Now you are two bodies,
But there is one life before you.

Go now to your dwelling place,
To enter into the days of your togetherness.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.

Aunt Linda, my mother's sister, had recently completed our family tree, and discovered that we had a decent amount of Native American heritage. She was completely blown away by this unprompted inclusion, and many people could not stop talking about how perfect it was. It is actually a rather commonly used blessing at non-denominational weddings nowadays, but that didn't make it any less beautiful to us.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Today, I give it all...

On the day of our wedding, I woke up around nine o'clock, told Mom to stay in bed for as long as she wanted, and started pulling together some last minute details. Seating chart in hand, I ran over to the country club to set up the table name signs. While I was there, Dad wandered in to say hello on his way to breakfast, and then I ran into Dave. Haha, so much for not seeing each other! Everyone else headed to the breakfast buffet, but I ran down to Margaretville to pick up the things I had forgotten, like lip gloss. On my way back, I got a call from the friend that was doing my hair and makeup, saying that she was on her way. So far, everything was right on schedule.

I ran into Mom on her way to get breakfast as I walked into the hotel, s
o I had the suite to myself for a little while. I went over all of the details quickly, to see if we'd forgotten anything, but it all seemed to be in place. So, feeling awfully calm considering, I hung out on the couch with a book for a while. At one point, the maid came in to make the beds, and was laughing at me about how easygoing I was. Eventually, Mom came back from breakfast, and Erin arrived to do my hair and makeup. She did an amazing job, and then we just hung out waiting for the photographer to arrive. I suddenly realized that we hadn't marked the favor boxes to indicate which person took home the centerpieces, like we had planned to do, so we called Brian's fiance Melissa up to the room and asked her to take care of it by writing an M on the bottom of one box at each table. (A bunch of us had gotten together at Mom's house a couple of weeks before to put together the favors. Aunt Marsha complained that all of the ones she did were terrible, and we had joked that we would put an M on the bottom of all of hers, so that everyone would know who to blame.)

The photographer had a slight equipment issue that morning, and so was a little bit late, but everything was fine. Once she was there and ready, we were able to get my dress and shoes on. Everything came together perfectly, and my 6-1/2" heels were just the right height for the dress, even though everyone who saw them thought I was insane. We brought Brian in for some initial shots with me, and took a couple with Mom, and then the flowers arrived. My bouquet was made up of all different shades of red roses, and a few Stephanotis mixed in for contrast. I knew that trying to match the red in my dress would never work, so I showed the florist a picture of my gown, and they did a fantastic job finding lots of different shades.

Finally, we were all ready, and set off downstairs to take formal shots with our families. Dave was right outside our door when I walked out, and the look on his face when he saw me all done up was priceless. We were breaking tradition by seeing each other before the wedding to take pictures, but (as some of my family members had rudely pointed out many times in the past) we had been "living in sin" for three and a half years anyway. After some cute wedding party pictures with the golf cart that had been provided for us, we went around to the back of the hotel for some formal photos with the woods as the background. Dave's mother, stepfather, sister, and brother-in-law had not come up the night before for the rehearsal dinner, and were quite late arriving for pictures, so we did not get as many pictures with them as we would have liked. However, standing around waiting for them produced some great candid shots of those of us that were there.

Everyone went their separate ways to get ready for the ceremony, and I went back up to our suite to kill some time. Dad and Pete settled in on the couch to watch some television, while Brian hung around waiting for me to tell him what to do. Eventually, I asked Mom to get the guys to leave, and she found things for them to do. She and I sat out on the balcony, smoked a few cigarettes, watched the guests arrive and find seats, and tried to relax. Dad came back to tell us that the aunt, uncle, and cousin that had backed out at the last minute were there, and I scrambled to re-seat them at tables and find their place cards. We got everything taken care of, then everyone was ready, and Mom and Dad escorted me over the little wooden bridge to the country club.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

...Within Its Usual Frame

October was a very busy month, and I really haven't had any time to write, so now I'll try to catch up. Too many things went on to just skip it all! I've included a couple of random pictures from the Bridal Shower as well...

Wednesday, October 1, was my last night at the Junkyard as a "single" woman. Of course, having been with Dave for well over six years, it's more true to say that I have never been a "single" woman during Wednesday Night Drinking. Dave and I were supposed to pick up my man-of-honor Brian and his fiance Melissa at Newark Airport after work, but their scheduled flight out of Nashville, TN, was delayed, so they hopped an earlier flight that came into JFK Airport. There was no way for us to get through the city and back again at any reasonable hour, so they took the train to Ramsey, NJ, and I picked them up. While I was out, Dave ran over to the mall and picked up his and Brian's tuxedos, and we all met back at the house. After a quick try-on session, the guys went out and got us some pizza for dinner, then we cleaned ourselves up and went out. Brian and Melissa enjoyed the bar and the band, and got to meet a few of our friends there.

They were up early in the morning to meet with a priest about their upcoming wedding, and Dave and I headed over to the
Ramapo Courthouse to fill out our marriage certificate. Dave had called in advance to find out what identification we needed, and was told that a driver's license and social security card were required. He didn't have a social security card, so he brought his brand-new passport instead, hoping it would work. Of course, when we arrived there and spoke with the clerk, she expected us to both have two forms of photo ID, completely different from what the woman had said on the phone. We convinced her to accept my social security card, but it was hilarious. Next, we packed up our stuff, said good-bye to the puppies, and headed up to the Catskills. My parents, Brian and Melissa eventually met us up there, and we had some dinner and relaxed. Mom gave me a silver bangle bracelet to wear as my something borrowed; Dad had given it to her on their wedding day. Dad gave me an Indian Head penny as something old, without knowing the part of the tradition about a penny in the shoe. Before we went to bed, Mom was nice enough to write out the names on all of the place cards for me.

Since Dad has to turn the television on at roughly six o'clock in the morning, even if the
re are guests sleeping on the living room couch, we were all up pretty early on Friday. Mom and I went over to Diamond Deb's Nail Salon, Tanning, and Used Cars for a manicure and pedicure, where everyone kept telling me that I was the calmest bride they had ever seen. By that point, I felt like everything was already done, and it was just up to all of our vendors to do it right, and the weather to be on our side. Most of Friday was rainy and cold, but in the afternoon the sun came out.

I decided to call my boss and see how everything was going at work. I had been expecting a package to arrive be
fore we headed to the Catskills, and when it hadn't, I had left my boss instructions to overnight it to me at the country club. When I called, I found out that the package had arrived the day before, but for some reason, he had not sent it out. The package was the garter belt that I needed to hold up my stockings, so although not extremely important, I would be pretty uncomfortable without it. This is the only time the entire day that I got upset, feeling just so disappointed that this couldn't have been worked out. My dad suggested we call my brother Pete and find out where he was, and it turned out he wasn't very far away from my job (or at least, that's what they told me) and could stop by to pick it up. We all packed up our stuff and checked into the hotel at the country club where the wedding was being held, and waited for everyone to get settled. Pete drove my cousins Melody and Jesse, who were in town from St. Louis, up to the trailer, then headed over to the hotel. Not long after, Dave's dad showed up with Dave's grandmother and her companion Larry.

The next snag was a voicemail that my father received on his cell phone, saying that an aunt, uncle, and cousin would suddenly not be able to attend. Everyone was very upset, but I just felt like we would make everything work no matter what, so I wasn't going to stress about it. I quickly pulled their place cards and subtracted them from the seating chart.

We all got a little spiffied up and met in the country club for a short rehearsal with the minister. We quickly went over where we would enter, and the order of the procession, but didn't discuss very much about the ceremony itself, other than who would stand where. It was only about a half hour later than the time the wedding ceremony would be held, but it was very cold, and we were nervous about the next day. Throughout the evening, I pulled aside Brian, my brother, my mother, and my father individually, and gave them each the gifts that I had chosen. I thought it would be more personal and heartfelt that way, instead of in front of everyone during the rehearsal dinner itself. I had different bracelets for Mom, Brian, and Pete, and embroidered handkerchiefs for Dad. Next, we headed to the Andes Hotel in Andes, NY where we had a long, lazy dinner. It was nice and relaxed, and everything was yummy. When we left there, it was very cold out, and we were dreading the outdoor ceremony the next day. Back at the hotel, I wrote up the signs for the tables, and put table names on all of the place cards. Dave spent Friday night in his dad's room, and Mom slept in our room.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

...To the Chapel...

I'm not generally a traditionalist, but at this last minute (4 days left), I'm trying to incorporate "something old, something new," etc. Here's my something blue, though I'm still not exactly sure if it will be in my hands, in my bouquet, or pinned under my dress:
I don't go in for much religion, but rosary beads are just beautiful, and I have many sets. I bought these in Fatima, Portugal a couple of years ago, and carry them with me, usually in my purse, nearly all of the time. Fatima is a place where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared many times to a group of children in the early 1900s. The tree where the apparitions took place is still there, surrounded by a stone wall. People from all over the world make pilgrimages there to pray for healing, and to light candles in honor of loved ones. Most of the pilgrims are women, as this is a location dedicated to giving thanks and praise to Mary, not Jesus Christ. Women walk, or crawl really, on their knees along the worshiping path, which is plenty long enough to leave permanent scarring. My friend's stepmother guided us there, and she showed us the scars on her own knees. Regardless of your faith, or lack thereof, Fatima is an impressive place. Just outside of the church grounds, there are rows of vendors selling everything from blessed statues and holy water to plastic toys and clothing. Everything is up for negotiation, so I needed a translator just to make the purchase.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

...the Happiness I Seek

My thoughts exactly, except that I have a microwave:

Review of Bagel Bites

It's a Nice Day for a...

I'm not really sure how it happened, but I'm getting married in nine days.

Today is the first day that I have felt calm about the wedding, in terms of logistics. We've finally taken a headcount, corralled the vendors, made the favors, straightened out the payments, worked up a schedule... But I keep feeling like there is something major that we've forgotten.

The only tasks that are really left are making place cards to match the already-completed (four times over) seating chart, and writing our vows. Vows! Dave really wants us to write our own, which I have been dreading since he first brought it up many months ago. We've agreed that there will not be any previews; we're each going in with our own thing, with no idea of what the other will say. The goal is to be totally honest and free that way, but it feels to me like a setup. What if I decide to be silly or serious, and he goes in the opposite direction? Will his be three lines, or five minutes long? Argh, as if the overall stress of planning the wedding wasn't enough!

Over the past year, I have seriously considered my stance on marriage. The conclusions I have come to are unsettling, to say the least. I don't believe that people are meant to be married to one person for their entire lives. By "meant", I mean that it is not a naturally-occurring phenomenon, but one that society has imposed on us as morally correct. This may be because of responsibilities expected of parents, so that there is no question of who the mother and father of any child are. Another reason could be due to sexually transmitted diseases. However, I believe both of these reasons to be modern takes on the situation, while marriage predates any history that I've uncovered.

It makes sense that men should want to "spread themselves around" to further their line, and should desire the woman in their life at that moment that is most beneficial to that end. It makes sense that a woman should be attracted to a man only so long as he is the strongest (mentally, physically, emotionally, even financially) in her life.

I am the type of person who has crushes. I love to fantasize about friends, acquaintances, celebrities, you name it, and the lives/nights/conversations we might have together if circumstances were different. I epitomize the addictive personality; somehow able to avoid drugs, I focus instead on routine, personalities, beauty, excitement, belonging...

I can't imagine spending my life with anyone other than Dave. If he is not with me, I am planning all of the stories that I can't wait to tell him when we are together again. I'm excited to share all of the experiences that we will both have, whether side by side or individually. The fact that he understands my need for freedom is one of the ties that binds us, though I question regularly whether he wishes it were somewhat different. I guess I just feel guilty that I do not want to spend every second of every single day for the entire rest of my life with any one person. I think he understands that, and maybe even agrees with me.

That still doesn't help me with my vows.

By the way, my bridal shower was on Sunday, and someone bought that espresso machine... Come on over!

Friday, September 5, 2008

...Hands Off My Stack

I really want an espresso machine. My trip to Portugal a couple of years ago instilled a love of espresso, but I never realized how much of a desire I had for it in the morning and after-dinner until this whole wedding planning process began.

In recent years, the custom has become for the engaged couple to create a registry of home and kitchen supplies at one or more stores. I believe this came into being primarily to avoid receiving 13 blenders on your wedding day, which is considered bad luck, unlike having freezing rain ruin your one-time-only white dress, or having gooey bird excrement land in your perfectly coiffed 'do. Anyway, I have always considered this tradition to be the perfect expression of the greed, self-importance, and consumerism that dictates our American lives. However, friends and family have made it clear that they prefer to give us a tangible item instead of checks made out to "CASH". As far as I'm concerned, shelling out what it will cost for the obscenely over-priced on-site hotel rooms and gas to get there is gift enough for me, but a wedding registry they shall receive.

Creating a registry can be great fun. The standard procedure is to attend some type of in-store meeting, complete with instructions on what items should be chosen. This should involve both the bride and the groom, even though the bride will probably end up choosing 99% of the list. Not willing to waste time being told what I (we) need and want by some clerk who has never met me (us) before or seen my (our) living arrangements, I chose to create my (our) registry completely online.

Dave and I have been living together for more than three and a half years. Just before
moving in, I purchased for myself a complete dinner set, including twelve 5-piece place settings of formal dishes and twelve sets of wine glasses. Over the years, we've amassed furniture, glassware, pots and pans, wooden spoons, every kitchen gadget in existence (or so I thought), decorative items, linens, etc., etc., etc. This didn't leave much for a registry, so I had to get a little bit creative. An espresso machine would be wonderful; an airbed would really come in handy; our entire apartment is tile, but a vacuum would make cleaning up cobwebs so much easier.

Suddenly, I came to a realization that would seem obvious to anyone else: we're allowed to have stuff that's new! We don't have to use only second-hand castoffs from family and friends and garage sales and dark corners of basements! Not to say we didn't purchase anything of our own, but imagine the cooking we could do with pots that actually matched, that hadn't been scorched or scratched by metal spoons! We could pick out glasses that we actually liked, and maybe even have full, matching place settings of flatware, instead of having to mix if there were more than three people eating! I feverishly added products, anything that caught my eye. Then came the process of paring down the list, removing the completely frivolous nonsense, with an eye on prices the whole time. In the end, there are were a few rather expensive items on the list, but the majority were affordable prices that I would easily purchase for someone else's wedding gift.

Now came the fun part: monitoring the list on an almost-daily basis, seeing what people had purchased, without actually knowing who the purchaser was. Did they buy it online and tell them to drop-ship it to us? Will I get this at the bridal shower, or even at the wedding itself? The anticipation was nearly too much, and the guilt created by this greed was even worse. Problems I hadn't thought of emerged: as months passed, items went out of season and were discontinued. Someone had purchased a beautiful set of blue glasses that I loved, but the matching pitcher was no longer available! Visions of perfect summer evenings on the deck with the white serving tray holding our new glassware were shattered. Someone has purchased espresso cups, but what if I don't get the machine? Can I really afford to complete these sets, or buy that expensive kitchen equipment that isn't absolutely necessary?

This gift registry has forced (a
llowed?) me to reveal the most spoiled side of myself, and I'm beginning to think this will create more debt for me than the actual wedding.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Like a Million Miles Away...

We finally sent out our wedding invitations today. It was a lot of labor, and my nerve-damaged writing hand is swollen and painful. I spent the evening at Aunt Marsha's on Saturday, and she helped me fold cards and put packets together. I had forgotten to pick up the stamps for the response envelopes, so we were only able to organize everything and begin addressing outer envelopes. Aunt Marsha didn't think her handwriting was "pretty" enough, so I addressed all of them. Uncle Jack picked up some pizza, and we relaxed out on the deck, chatting about travel ideas and work. I wasn't feeling well after dinner, so I packed up everything and went home. Dave felt like taking his Challenger out for a while, so I set everything up on the coffee table and kept working. All of the outer envelopes were finished that night, except for the seven or eight who were for people that had recently moved and I needed addresses for. I couldn't do anything else without postage, so I took all of the boxes with me to work this morning and put in another couple of hours to finish them up.

This weekend is our annual road trip to Ohio for the DSM Shootout. Last year was crazy enough to fill about three pages of blog, and I expect this year to be just as interesting. Dave's car is running for the first time in three years, and we always have fun being his pit-crew.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

...Right Round, Baby...

Apparently, pen spinning is a worldwide phenomenon that began in Japan over fifteen years ago. The Universal Pen Spinning Board features forums for the discussion of all things relating to pen spinning: tricks, buying and modding pens, and competition. There are even areas to talk about hand care and the pen spinning "philosophy". Bic has also launched a website featuring contests and pen spinning videos called the Pen Spinning Academy.

I guess now I can see why people have trouble understanding our love of cars. It's about the same thing, right?

I decided to delve a bit deeper into the world of "psing," and found this enlightening thread about whether females are suited for being pen spinners: Girls and pen spinning? Wow, talk about killing my dream.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

...The World, Is On My Shoulders...

This morning, I hopped onto the pallet scale to weigh myself without realizing that our head of production was watching me. Once the number registered, I turned to go back to the office and spotted him staring. I smiled and said good morning. He smiled back and said, "Gained a few pounds, eh?" I should point out that there are some cultural differences at play here: he is Indonesian. Still, I would have thought it was universally known that saying something like that is inappropriate. Anyway, I responded with a confused look, and commented that I had not gained weight; the number was within one or two pounds of what I always weigh. He smiles again, and says, "Oh, you look like you've gained weight. No?" Talk about going from bad to worse. It's funny, but as soon as I walked away from this conversation, all I wanted to do was eat.

I doubt anyone will get the song referenced in this title...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Descend All the Way...

Last Monday, 28 July, I took the day off to go to a concert. I don’t think I have ever gotten to do that before, but after enduring this spring at work, I decided that it was deserved. Jenna, who is Matt’s girlfriend, and I decided to head down to Warped Tour at Raceway Park in Old Bridge Township, NJ for the day.

It started off pretty slowly, as days like this tend to. We had agreed that I would spend the night before at Jenna’s house, since Dave and I currently only have one car, and he would need it to get to work that day. I packed a bag and took it with me to Sunday night car club, feeling silly but also excited for our “sleepover”, but after an hour or so, Jenna and Matt still hadn't shown up. I finally texted Matt to see where they were, and was told they were too tired to come out, and Jenna would just pick me up in the morning. I was a bit upset that the plans were changed, without anyone even calling me, but it was actually better getting to sleep in my own bed.

The following morning, I got up around eight o’clock, showered, and hung out with the puppies and a guitar, waiting for Jenna to arrive. She was supposed to be there by ten, so I wasn't surprised when the phone rang at 9:45. Apparently, she had tried to follow her navigation to get to my house, but had punched in the right address in the wrong town. I corrected the information, and, after a couple more phone calls, she was able to find our house. I hopped in the car, and she said, “I just realized that I forgot my ticket. We have to go back to my house.” Not a big deal; her house is a few towns south, and that’s the way we were headed anyway. So, back to Jenna’s house to pick up the ticket. Then, she was starving, and I needed cash, so we stopped in town. I hit the ATM while she ran into the bagel store, but, of course, the ATM was broken. She grabbed her bagel and got both of us some coffee, then we found a drive through ATM for me. As we tried to leave town, the train came through, and we got stuck waiting at the crossing. That was when Jenna opened up her bagel and found out it was completely wrong. Already fed up with all of the snags we’d hit so far, we quickly stopped for gas, jumped on the Garden State Parkway, and were finally on our way.

The ride down was uneventful, and we didn't hit any traffic until we were about ten minutes from the venue. Even then, it wasn't so bad, and we made it there in decent time. We parked on the grassy area to the left of the entrance road, and were stopped by someone promoting their band before we had even gotten all of our stuff out of the car. The band, Dose of Adolescence, was traveling with Warped Tour trying to get their name out. We chatted with Austin (lead guitar), and briefly listened to a sample of their music, but were impatient to get inside. I liked the music enough, and wanted to support the band a bit, that I bought a CD off him for $5, tossed it in the car, and in we went. I had never been to Raceway Park for anything other than racing, so it was a weird experience for me. The pit area was filled with seven stages, vendor booths, and food. There was a huge board with the entire schedule posted on it, and a beer garden at the observation tower near the finish line.

Our first stop was the bathroom, of course! Then we waited near there for Jenna’s friend Chrissy, who had driven up from Philadelphia and still got there two hours before we did. After an excited reunion (Jenna has recently lost a lot of weight and Chrissy had not yet seen the new her), we wandered around the stages for a bit, then checked out the schedule to make sure we saw who we
wanted to. I was pretty much indifferent; when it comes to live music, I’ll watch anything, anytime (see: trip to OK last month w/ country karaoke). The bands Chrissy and Jenna were interested in seeing weren't on until late afternoon, so we headed over to the beer garden to cool down in the shade. We ended up staying there for quite a while, listening to whatever bands were playing on the nearest stage. Then Chrissy mentioned wanting to crowd surf for the first time, so I dragged them all down to watch the closest band, Story of the Year. We got right into the crowd, pushing up towards the front. Chrissy got in her crowd surfing, Jenna got her sunglasses hit into her face and ended up with a black eye, and somebody yanked out one of my earrings. So, it was just like all of the other shows I've been to this year, but outside on a hot day with tons of shirtless guys sweating all over us.

When they finished up, it was back to the bathroom to clean up some of the makeup and sweat all over our faces. Then we grabbed some munchies for Chrissie, and went back up to the beer garden for a while. It was nice being able to relax up there in the shade, and still listen to some of the bands. Finally, I needed to hit the bathroom again, and had run out of cigarettes, so I separated
from them and wandered around for a bit by myself. I checked out all of the stages, and listened to a bunch of bands, most of which I never did find out the names of. I caught a few minutes of Gym Class Heroes, then met up with Jenna and Chrissy again. Jenna really wanted to watch Anberlin, so we headed into that crowd and rocked out with them. Reel Big Fish was following on the same stage, so we pushed up to the rail and waited for them, agreeing to stick around for just a few minutes before going home. Once they came on, we all went pretty crazy, and there was no way we were leaving. Chrissy got in another round of crow surfing, managing to nearly kick Jenna in the head on her way over. Jenna got hit in the mouth somehow, and ended up with a swollen lip to match her black eye. They closed the show with their cover of A-ha’s “Take On Me”, which is mine and Matt’s song. Reel Big Fish made our day!