The Wedding - Part III

Okay, I promise this will be the final installment in the wedding series.
The reception took place at the stone pavilion about a hundred yards from the rose arbors (where the ceremony was). Very convenient for everyone. The tables were decorated with little galvanized buckets filled with cream roses and green button daisy-like flowers. The centerpieces were oil lamps ringed with hydrangeas. It was very summery and very pretty. And still very hot.

We sat or stood in the shade of the pavilion waiting for the bride and groom to arrive. They were spotted coming across the lawn when quite unexpectedly, Matt leaped into Kelly's arms and she carried him! Okay...yeah, he's a little guy…but I SO would've dropped his ass on the ground. It's sweltering hot and I'm in a very expensive wedding gown. Get OFF of me! Heh.

Since this was a Mississippi/Alabama wedding, on the menu was barbeque (with sweet tea, of course!). There was plenty of champagne and cigars. I swear, it felt like a Groucho Marx Festival with cigars hanging out of everyone's mouth. And Kelly and Matt drank from the largest champagne flutes I have ever seen in my life. I know you are at this moment imagining how large a large champagne flute really is. Hold that image…now enlarge the flute like at least a 100 times. Seriously.

They danced their dance - although I can't for the life of me remember what the hell the song was. Ah well. I was busy hanging out with Kelly's friends from architecture school, who were all very friendly and very entertaining. Her one pal, Lamoh, has threatened to harass me at my office if I don't set up a MySpace page within two weeks. He REALLY likes MySpace.

Josh and Kim arrived with a really gorgeous three-tiered wedding cake that was rapidly succumbing to the heat. Lacey and I were nominated to cut this wilting masterpiece of flour, sugar, and butter, and I must say, considering the conditions we did quite a good job.

Lots more photos were taken. Liz, who is apparently some kind of karaoke legend in Mobile, refused to sing for everyone. Corwin, the best man and Matt's cousin, gave a drunken toast in which the words, "hope this one lasts longer" and "at least this time I actually got to meet the bride before the wedding" were used. I was aghast, but since I was probably the only one not drunk, maybe no one else noticed, or remembered…

As Kelly and Matt prepared to leave for their honeymoon, we all pelted them with dried lavender flowers (MUCH better, in my opinion, than rice or birdseed or those annoying bubbles) and wished them a safe and fun trip. As they drove off, Kelly's mom stood next to me and said, "ya know what, she forgot her freakin' passport". Hee. Kelly's mom cracks me up, so I stayed and helped her clean everything up. Later, it was blissful peeling off my blue dress, kicking off my heels and sitting in my air-conditioned apartment with a bottle of complimentary champagne chilling in my fridge.

Thus the wedding is over. Matt and Kelly will return from Mexico next week (that is if they haven't been thrown into a Mexican prison - we keep waiting for the bail call at work), and if all goes well, I will never have to construct another bridesmaid's bouquet for as long as I live.


The Wedding - Part II

The wedding was to begin at 6:30. The bridesmaids were to be at the Park at 5:30 (for photos). Knowing that all the tables had to be set up, the reception pavilion decorated, the chairs arranged for the ceremony, the fabric hung on the arbor and who knows what else; I had made the somewhat sleepy offer the night before that if Kelly needed anything she shouldn't hesitate to call me.

So, I kept my phone by me in anticipation. I slept late. Went for a hike (yes, with my phone). Did my nails. Lounged by the pool. I felt almost guilty that I was having such a relaxing day. Not until 2:00 did my phone ring and Kelly's name appeared on the screen.

C: Hey you…what's up?
K: Hey, can you do me a favor?
C: Of course. Whadaya need?
K: Could you go to the office? On my desk is a blue folder and in the folder is my passport, which I will need. I would go myself but have to go get my hair done.
C: Sure thing. Not a problem!
K: Oh and could you also get some thumb tacks?
C: Thumb tacks? Sure. Do you want me to run them over to the park now or just bring them with me at 5:30?
K: You can just bring them at 5:30 along with my passport. Thanks!

I had a mission. So, as I’m getting into my car to go to the office my phone rings again.
C: Yo.
K: Could you also please pick up some napkins for the cake? Just whatever you can find at Wal- Mart or wherever. Thank you!

A few simple tasks which I completed expediently and still had plenty of time to get ready to play my part. My part as a bridesmaid included donning a strapless pool blue dress…which doesn't sound so bad, I know, I didn't think so either. However, the material was the familiar satiny, non-breathable fabric with two separate slips and a heat-trapping layer of that crinkly, poofy stuff to give the dress shape. As I zipped it up in the comfort of my air conditioned apartment and slipped on my shoes, I didn't think anything of it.

Then I stepped outside. Into the 95 degree heat. Into the 115 degree oven that was my car. And quickly realized that NOT sweating would not be an option. I imagined that is what it would feel like to be trapped inside of a kiln. Despite the inferno going on under my dress (oh get your mind out of the gutter!), I made it to the park on time (yay me!). While we were waiting to get our pictures taken, Kelly's dad, brother-in-law, and Lacey's husband were hauling chairs out of a truck and setting them up in the grass. Brad (the brother-in-law who is a mountain of a man - no, not a mountain man…he's just extremely tall and broad) bent over to lift an enormous pile of chairs and in mid-squat a look of sheer horror crossed his normally amiable face.

He slooooowly stood up and sidestepped his way over to Julie (his wife and matron-of-honor). Poor Brad. He had split his pants. Yep, a huge gaping rip. We tried very hard to stifle our mirth as he was clearly mortified. His only option was to drive back to Kelly's house (which is way out in little mexico) and change into a pair of non-air-conditioned trousers. Having less than an hour to get there and back, he quickly got directions from Kelly's dad and tore off in the truck.
Meanwhile, Kelly (in full bridal gear) arrived with Lacey (bridesmaid) and Liz (bridesmaid and Matt's sister) with the bouquets we had so carefully crafted the night before. Although the flowers themselves looked great, the cream-colored bows we had tied onto them had turned to weirdly-streaked-with-green bows. Again, none of us ever claimed to be Martha Stewart!

At approximately the same time as the discovery of the chameleon-esque bows, it was also discovered that Kelly had left her bouquet at her house. How this happened I have no idea. The bridesmaids bouquets were there, the corsages were there, the centerpieces were there, the boutonni√®res were there…and yet somehow the most important floral accoutrement was not there! Brad was called (who, by the way, got lost trying to get to Kelly's house) and was requested to bring the bridal bouquet.

By this time, our photo session was running a bit behind but we managed to smile at the camera at the appropriate moments and to look candidly light-hearted.

The toothless Reverend arrived in a bright purple robe. The violinists arrived. Guests began to trickle in and seat themselves. Kelly had gotten a runner to walk down the "aisle" on - a really pretty sheer white runner with little white flowers on it and her and the toothless Reverend arranged it neatly on the ground. One of the ex-girl-scout-troop-leaders arrived with armfuls of white roses which she placed on the ground in a semi-circle near the toothless Reverend. Now, I'm not sure if this was a predetermined flower arrangement or what, because it seemed very random. So, time is a-tickin' and all of these little adjustments are going on while there are guests seated on the lawn.

It was by all accounts 6:30 and time to begin but the groom and groomsmen were not to be found. The mothers of both the bride and groom were not to be found. And Brad still had not returned with Kelly's bouquet.

Finally, the rest of the bridal party was spotted on the horizon. The violinists began to…well…play their violins. The mothers and grandmothers were seated. The purple toothless Reverend shooed us bridesmaids into our places and gave us the signal to GO! We went. We walked. We smiled. We stood in a row awaiting the bride. It was fine. Although, and I'm slightly embarrassed to admit this, but do you ever have those moments where you're doing something totally normal - something you do every day like walk up the stairs - and suddenly you just kind of forget what you're doing? It's like your brain is on autopilot and then out of the blue, it stops and is like, "okay wait…what are we doing again?". I had one of those moments.

The route for the bridal party was very simple. Bridesmaids on one side of the semi-circular arbor and groomsmen on the other side. We would walk to the middle, meet up with our opposite gender partner, link arms, walk the few steps to the toothless Reverend, unlink arms and go take our places on opposite sides. Well I was fine until the part where my partner and I were to unlink and go our separate ways. I almost kept on walking (and probably would have if Charlie's arm hadn't held me back) and then my arm wouldn't unlink. Eh. It was just one of those moments where my brain forgot what was going on for a second. I think though that I recovered rather gracefully as there was no snickering and no one said anything to me afterwards.

Wow, this is an extremely long blog entry…sorry 'bout that…almost done.

The violinists, who, I should mention, were high school students (a girl from the ACE program actually and one of her friends) I guess ran out of music or something before the entire bridal party was in place…so the silence was a bit awkward. But, then the silence stretched on as the flower girl made her way down the aisle tossing rose petals and trying not to trip in the now bunched-up runner. Following directly behind her was the 3-year old ring bearer who was much more preoccupied with stomping on the rose petals than with his duties as a ring bearer.
Finally, the violinists began playing again once the flower girl and flower-stomping ring bearer were settled. They got off on the wrong key or something and had to stop and begin again, but once they got going, it was clearly the bridal march and Kelly and her dad came down the aisle (also being careful of the treacherous runner!)

Matt and Kelly's dad shook hands and Kelly unlinked arms with her father and put her arm through Matt's as they walked up to the purple toothless Reverend and turned to face each other for the vow part of the ceremony. Although I'm sure Kelly and Matt had no trouble hearing each other (which is really all that matters), I had a little difficulty hearing the speeches what with the jazz music going on at the concession stand nearby and the plane overhead. Apparently Matt's mom could hear just fine because she was weeping through nearly the entire thing (or maybe it was just allergies, I don't know).

Then it was time for the kiss and from my angle it appeared that Matt was mauling Kelly and I shifted uncomfortably on my patch of dirt and then it was time to walk again. I clung to Charlie's arm so as not to trip in the runner and then stood in the receiving line, which I was a little confused about…it wasn't something we had rehearsed and honestly I thought the only ones in the receiving line were the bride, the groom and the respective parents. Of course, I could be wrong - after all, weddings are not my thing.

On to the reception!


The Wedding - Part I

Okay I know, it's already Wednesday and I'm just now getting around to acknowledging the wedding I participated in over the past weekend. If you've ever seen the movie Meet the Fockers, you already have a pretty good idea of how things went.

Let's start with the rehearsal Friday night, shall we?

The actual rehearsal at Centennial Park went off pretty much without incident if you discount my mild shock at meeting the toothless Reverend (I say mild because this IS, after all, the South). I was also introduced to the various families and friends from Mississippi and Alabama. And was highly disappointed to discover that Kelly's infamous carny uncle hadn't made it!

Fortunately, the Nashville Parks Service has impeccable timing and had just completed installing sprinkler heads throughout Centennial Park leaving behind sizeable patches of fresh dirt which we would periodically sink into on our route. At least the sprinklers didn't actually come on during the ceremony as was the general vague concern.

Afterwards we all retreated to Kelly's house to enjoy a cookout on the Big Deck…or so we thought…

Oh where to begin…the grill blowing up? the small red-headed child strung out on Coca-Cola? the dozens of buckets filled with roses, orchids and greens waiting expectantly in the basement to be magically transformed (by elves I had initially assumed) into precious bouquets, corsages, and centerpieces?

The grand plan, in my estimation, was to grill kabobs. A fine idea. So Kelly's mom and brother-in-law began assembling the kabobs while Charlie (groomsman) decided to get the grill going. Meanwhile, Kelly was pulling seemingly random food items out of the refrigerator and putting them on the kitchen table (a tub of hummus... a platter of sushi...some kind of...potato salad...I think) and Matt was…umm…I think he was smoking cigars? I can't really remember as the very next sentence I heard was "Holy shit! Look out! The deck's on fire!". The kitchen door flew open as Charlie and Kelly's dad called for buckets of water and Dante's inferno raged outside the kitchen window.

Throughout all the chaos, there was this small red-headed child (who no one really ever claimed), who kept bouncing around, going in and out of the house (failing to close the door behind her on every occasion) demanding that random guests fetch her Cokes. I still haven't figured out if she was a rehearsal crasher because I seriously don't recall seeing her at the wedding.

The fire was extinguished amongst much panicked shouting and swearing. Fortunately, Charlie was not badly burnt. And the cause of fire was gravely determined by Kelly's dad to be some kind of flammable adhesive that had been used on the grill's propane tank. Hmm. It was at this point that Matt decided the best plan of action would be to leave his house and guests to go try to find a replacement grill at 9 o'clock in the evening. Hmm. Sometimes I think that when one becomes a bride or a groom, some kind of chemical reaction occurs which causes all former reasoning abilities to suddenly dissolve.

Kelly's mom and sister had an alternative plan of action which involved putting all of the carefully constructed kabobs on a giant baking sheet and simply cooking them in the oven. In theory this was a great plan and I fully endorsed it until the sheet full of skewered raw meat and vegetables was precariously positioned on the top of the stove and as Julie (who was crouching down to adjust the oven) stood up, she knocked the sheet which sent the food flying through the air and crashing to the floor!

Now, I am a strong proponent of the 5-Second Rule, but when there are hairy pets residing in your household, you just can't abide by that rule. So, the piles of meat and vegetables were chucked into the trash bin and Kelly's mom threw up her hands in despair and exasperation and wondered aloud if Papa John's was in order at this point. But, since neither Kelly nor Matt were to be found, I think she and Julie resigned themselves to assembling more kabobs with the leftover meat and veggies being stored in the refrigerator. I’m not exactly sure if this is what happened though because directly after the enormous crash of food to the floor, I made the decision to escape the mayhem and quietly slipped down the basement stairs.

Lo and behold! who do I find hiding amongst the buckets of flora!? Kelly and Lacey (fellow bridesmaid). I filled them in on what had been happening upstairs and we all agreed it was much nicer in the basement amid the roses. So we stayed in the basement for the next…oh…3 hours or so and assembled various flower arrangements. Eventually we were joined by other bridesmaids and two ex-girl-scout-troop-leaders - which was quite fortunate as none of us were being very Martha Stewart-y with the whole flower thing.

I think Matt returned at some point with not one…not two…but three grills. (don't ask me…I have no idea). So, sometime around 11 or 12, Kelly's dad descended into the dim den of roses offering bits of grilled meat and vegetables.

I'd like to take this opportunity to commend Kelly's mom and dad. I know they won't read this, but their tireless efforts did not go unnoticed.

I can't clearly remember when I finally emerged from the sweet-smelling basement, but by the time I did, things seemed to have calmed down considerably upstairs. Surely it was possible to maintain the new pervading sense of order and calm into Saturday's main event…right?


To Cruise or Not to Cruise?

That is the question.

Jennifer is organizing a group cruise thing for Patrick's 40th birthday in February. Now, while the idea of spending a week with Jennifer and Donna and other assorted extended friends and families sounds fun, the idea of a cruise has really never appealed to me. Granted, I've never actually been on a cruise, so my perception may be askew, but the whole jolly, organized, mass-produced escapade makes me wary. I envision lounging by a pool filled to capacity with screaming, splashing munchkins, becoming bored (and/or annoyed) and wandering off only to find the shuffleboard courts have been over-run by the senior citizens sporting black socks and sandals. Jennifer assures me that I will NOT be bored (and says if I do get bored there's something seriously wrong with me - hey, no argument there!).

So, besides my concern at being "trapped" on a boat in the middle of the ocean, (c'mon, I saw Titanic - I know what can happen!) I just don't know that I’m a cruise type of person. See, I'm not big into organized activities, or schedules, or people telling me what to do, or when and where to do it. The thing I love most about traveling is being immersed (if only for a little while) in a different culture - having the opportunity to do non-touristy activities; to get a feel for the local history, geography, and architecture; to experience regional cuisine and nightlife. The thrill of travel is getting to know a foreign place as intimately as possible. And, often times, that means putting aside your rigid itinerary and taking the time to leisurely explore the paths less trod. It seems to me a cruise is the exact opposite - a little floating bubble devoid of any and all cultural references, with no delightfully unexpected discoveries. It's a carefully packaged and orchestrated mass excursion designed to be experienced by all the passengers in exactly the same way.

Clearly, up until now, my views of cruises have been somewhat negative - okay, more than somewhat. But, like I said, hanging with my friends in pretty much any setting could be a fun time, so I've been gathering the opinions of people who have been on cruises to get some perspective. While the responses have varied, I must say that the pro-cruise constituency is currently in the majority. Judging by her own cruising experience, Melissa seems to think I would not enjoy being on a cruise (now where in the world would she have gotten that idea?). However, both Josh and JP enthusiastically expounded on the virtues of the cruise - extolling the intense relaxation, the stress-free environment, the lack of expense, the wide variety of activities (scheduled, yes…but varied nonetheless), the abundant and delicious food (although again, Melissa denies the quality is anything to write home about), the carefree tropical weather. As JP pointed out, you can't regard a cruise as a bona fide travel experience…instead just take it and enjoy it for what it is - a fun, low-key party on the water. Yeah, okay, cool I'm down with that philosophy. And, no doubt I would end up having a fun time. But here's the thing…do I really want to spend my limited vacation time and funds on a week-long party?

Despite the wavering going on in my head, I AM leaning towards joining my friends - after all, who am I to say no to a party!? And by actually experiencing a cruise I can then judge accurately for myself whether or not I am indeed a "cruise type person". So, if anyone else wants to weigh in on the cruise debate, your opinion would be much appreciated!


Everyone's a Star

So, even though we're ca-razy busy at work right now (yes, it's 9 o'clock and I'm still at the office - of course I am blogging at the moment instead of working, heh), my co-workers and I still managed to engage in a lengthy discussion this afternoon regarding which actors and actresses would play each of us if our office got a movie deal. (Hey, you don't know - it could happen!)

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately - depending on how you look at it), we all know each other well enough to make these inordinately important decisions. Our criteria was not only physical resemblance (to a minor degree) but also how capable the actor or actress would be playing the character based upon previous performances.

We came up with quite a star-studded cast. It was decided that the four partners would be played by John Goodman, Nick Nolte, Tom Hanks, and Christopher Walken (yeah, it's an interesting partnership, to say the least!). Others in the ensemble cast would include Mike Myers, Gary Busey, Courtney Cox, Kathy Griffin, Kevin Spacey, William H. Macy, Steve Martin, Marlon Brando (the younger, less insane version), Wil Farrell...to name just a handful. While we paired everyone up with their respective flesh-and-blood thespians, one co-worker was deemed animation-worthy and will be played by the inimitable Lisa Simpson. If you knew her, this would crack you up as much as it does me!

I got Janeane Garofalo...again. For some reason, anytime an actress comparison is made in connection to me, Janeane's name pops up. And I'm not entirely sure why. My mom and my sister have equated me to the animated Daria character for years, which is purportedly based on Garofalo. And yes, I'll admit to being sarcastic and even non-conformist when it suits me, but I'm much more cheerful, and FAR less bitter and disgruntled, than Garofalo (or Daria for that matter!) appears to be. Right?

Aaaaaaanyway, clearly these long hours are making us all a little loopy. But, at least we have fun . . . and if Jerry Bruckheimer or the Coen brothers come knocking on our door, we'll be ready.


We're not in Kansas anymore

Do you ever have one of those dreams?…you know, the dream that feels so real and so threatening, that when you wake up sweaty and out of breath, your heart thumping, the feeling of relief that it was only a dream is so overwhelming it brings tears to your eyes?

Lots of people have recurring nightmares - of falling or being chased or stabbing someone (although the latter probably only applies to Bethany!). I have this fear of being lost. Ironic, I know, considering I've spent a good chunk of my 31 years being lost. But, I've always managed to un-lose myself. The recurring theme of my nightmares (nightmares I've had since I was a kid) is being hopelessly lost. And I'm not talking about 'lost' as in "oh shit!, I took a wrong turn back there". I mean 'lost' as in being utterly alone and having no sense of where I am or how to get where I'm going if I even know where I'm going, which is rarely the case anyway.

So, in my nightmare that woke me out of a sound sleep last night, I was in a strange city - it was hilly and it must've been by the sea because I could hear seagulls and ships' horns (like I said, it was a very detailed and intense nightmare). I was walking at a hurrying pace and frantic that I didn't know where I was and couldn't find anyone to ask directions. Panic set in because I knew I had to get to work (hmm…an indication I've been working too much lately?) and didn't know where work was or where I was or how to get there. And then in dream-like fashion, I suddenly found myself inside a big, old house (my nightmares of being lost almost always involve a house at some point). In my dream the house felt familiar in a foreboding kind of way, although in my waking state I couldn't place it as somewhere I've ever been.

There were no windows in the house and it was dimly illuminated with artificial lighting. There was dingy, old-fashioned flowered wallpaper on most of the walls and it was alarmingly quiet. Quiet, except that I thought I kept hearing scuffling as if there were other people directly ahead of me or directly behind me just out of my sight. At some point I frantically realized I needed to get out of the house if I was to become un-lost. And I couldn't. I tried, but it became labyrinth-esque with strange, tight corridors, still air, and no way to tell where I was going. The panic and anxiety was palpable. But even in my frantic dream state, I told myself "just retrace your steps, stop trying to find the way out and just go back the way you came".

Apparently I took my own advice because I tried going back the way I came, my fear enveloping me as the environment seemed to become less and less recognizable. But then I entered a room and there was a man. A big man with dark hair and a handle-bar moustache who was dressed as an old-fashioned circus ringleader. In my dream I knew without a doubt that the man wasn't there to help me, but I pleaded with him anyway, begging for some kind of direction. My panicked desperation at being lost became wild . . . and that's when I woke up in sweat-dampened sheets with my heart pounding against my ribcage and fear-laced adrenaline raging through my veins

As a kid, my sister's favorite story was Alice In Wonderland. While it completely fascinated and delighted her, it scared the bejeezuz out of me! Seriously, my child's brain could not fathom anything more terrifying than being lost like that - alone in a strange, menacing, and more often than not, hostile environment with no clear indication of how to get un-lost. As an adult I've come to love the fanciful imagination of Lewis Carroll, but back then I just wished Alice would've had a yellow brick road to follow. At least in Dorothy's case of being lost, she not only had friends to help her become un-lost, but she had a definitive path to follow. Sometimes I wonder if somehow I've strayed from my yellow brick road or if, like Alice, I don't even have a path to follow.


"If you ain't first..."

you're last." - Ricky Bobby

Played in a tennis tournament all weekend out in the hot, hot sun. Placed 2nd in my division. Slightly disappointing, but fun nonetheless.