Friday, September 25, 2009

Last June Update - Brother Gets Married

Apologies in advance for the ridiculously long post ahead.

After running around in Oklahoma and Chicago for 10 days, I was back in Phoenix for 48 hours – long enough to do a load of laundry (but only at the last minute, since I just couldn’t bring myself to tackle it right away). Then off to Utah for little brother’s wedding! Easily the biggest event in our family in quite awhile. I couldn’t wait to get there. However, US Airways had other ideas.

Scheduled to leave at 4:50pm on Wednesday. Arriving in Utah around 7:30pm. Old friend B was going to pick me up from the airport (since my family and Courtney’s family would be at the temple) and we were going to have a lovely dinner.

Except we didn’t get to do that.

I showed up at the airport, not checking bags since I wasn’t about to pay for them. I had my usual duffle, purse and laptop, which I lugged over to Gate C something. As soon as I get settled, I hear an announcement that there’s a gate change, all the way over in A something. From one corner of the terminal to the opposite corner. Fine. Lugged my bags, in my heels. Half an hour later, there’s another gate change. Really? Shouldn’t you just move planes around at this point, and not 150 people?

Then – flight delayed – mechanical issue. They’ll keep us posted. At this point it’s nearly 6:30. B texted me that he noticed my flight was cancelled online, before any announcement was made at the gate. I ran down to the rebooking counter and got in line first. Just in the nick of time – I got rebooked on the 8pm flight.

Just as I got settled in again to wait, laptop, movie, etc, they made an announcement that the flight was overbooked and they would take a couple volunteers. I only wish I hadn’t pulled out all my electronic gear so far away from the gate agent, otherwise I would’ve been there in half a second. It was only Wednesday, the wedding wasn’t until Friday, and I could’ve gone home to sleep in my comfy bed and not sit around and waste more time at Sky Harbor. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. And not sure I wanted to fly US Airways after this point.

Around 7:45 it’s about time to start boarding the later flight. Except they’ve switched out the aircraft for a larger plane to accommodate for the earlier cancelled flight. The original plane had only required 3 flight attendants; the new larger one needed 4. And they didn’t have a 4th. They had to call one another crewmember, who then gets an hour to get to the airport. Seriously? Seriously?

About 20 minutes later they announced that a crewmember had been on call in the airport, we could board shortly. Whew!

At this point I’d lost my original awesome seat that I had picked, I ended up in the back sitting next to a car seat. My worst nightmare. I don’t do babies. Especially other people’s babies. Thankfully this one was mostly cute and slept the whole way. I even helped the mom getting off the plane. I touched a car seat! That’s progress.

So – on the plane, ready to take off. Except they have to call maintenance because there’s a problem with an overhead bin. ANOTHER DELAY.

Finally, finally, hours later, we take off. We land at 11:30ish. There’s a PROBLEM WITH THE JET BRIDGE. It takes another 20 minutes to fix that so we can actually deplane.

WORST FLIGHT EVER.

Sadly, I don’t have a photo of the one thing that amused me during this whole fiasco. While waiting for flight #1 I saw a man, imagine maybe Bill Nighy without glasses. From the neck up, this is what he looked up. From the neck down…um……yikes. I think he was a little confused.

Shirt – a very scooped-neck, black, tight leather/pleather/spandex tank top. Cut off at the midriff. Chest hair AND belly button showing.

Pants – tightest leather/pleather/spandex pants I’ve ever seen.

Shoes – 3-4 inch strappy, shiny stilettos. I could've borrowed them.

A few people went up and chatted with him, took photos and he loved every minute of it. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. When I finally boarded our second flight, he was in the first row of first class. I still wonder who he is and have attempted to Google him. Surely someone posted those photos online under "phoenix airport crazy man heels black tight leather outfit".

My family was able to pick me up around midnight, and I knew that they had been at the temple earlier, a serene peaceful place. I got in the car, told them I would be remaining silent because I had nothing nice to say at that point and didn’t want to ruin their evening.

Seriously.

All that travel stress apparently manifest itself in physical pain. By the time I went to sleep I had seriously upper back and neck pain from hauling my carry-on bags and laptop through the airport. I needed some drugs and heating pads for the next couple of days and couldn’t really turn my head.

But on to the happy news!
We had delicious 5 Guys for lunch on Thursday, which I had been missing since my last meal in DC. The debate was settled once and for all – 5 Guys > In N Out. Although I love a good animal style burger, 5 Guys wins for best overall. I sparked quite the facebook debate that day after I posted a mobile pic of my lunch. Mmm…

Courtney (soon to be sister-in-law) planned a girls’ night out at her nail salon – pedicures and manicures for all the ladies in the family. I asked her little cousin to pick out a color for my toes, little did I know she was in a blue and green-loving stage. I had to ask her to try again for something a little more pink or red.

After breathing in nail salon fumes for a couple hours, I rushed up to SLC to a rescheduled dinner with Brett. Delicious dinner at Takashi Sushi (this asparagus appetizer was fantastic), good company and conversation, and Beau Bridges was sitting behind me (apparently filming a movie with Alyssa Milano. Random).


Now on to Friday – the big day! Yay!

Small problem. I assumed that Courtney’s sisters and I would be wearing our bridesmaids’ dresses all day. I was scheduled to fly home on Saturday, so I didn’t pack a dress for church. Except I apparently needed one to wear to the temple – we were only going to wear bridesmaid dresses for the reception that evening. That meant I had to buy one and fast.

Courtney had scheduled hair appointments early Friday morning for my mom and me, so that was first up on the agenda. I’d have to tackle the dress issue later. We got up early so we could arrive right at 9am (I was still feeling the 8am Phoenix time – ah, mornings). A perky blond hair girl told me that she’d be doing my hair. A little too perky for 9am, but oh well. I settled into the chair and she set out to put my hair up.

We did the usual small talk thing, but after a bit, I almost couldn’t hold in the laughter. No matter what I said in response to her questions – could’ve been anything about me being the oldest child, what I do for work, my stance on Obama’s healthcare plan, what I think about nukes in Iran – anything – her response – “So Fuuuun!” Emphasis on the second word.

I almost couldn’t take it.

She’s pinned and curled all my hair in place and started to hair spray. I don’t think I have used hair spray since 8th grade. I’ve got more in my hair at this point than in my entire life combined. Then she says in her perky, so-fun voice – “do you want me to spray glitter in it?!”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

What do I look like? A teenager going to my first school dance?

Uh, no.

Finally it was over. My hair did look pretty good. And miraculously stayed in place for 14 hours, even in the rain. Well done, perky blond girl.

My mom and I drove back to the hotel so she could finish getting ready. She and my dad had to arrive at the temple early for my brother’s ceremony, while I ran off to find a dress in my super done-up hair, no makeup and sweatpants. Thankfully, Old Navy had a lovely black dress for 20 bucks that I could accessorize with a fabulous necklace and cardigan . Voila!

I drove up to the Salt Lake temple, found the rest of my extended family waiting outside, and we waited and waited and waited for Taylor and Courtney, the newlyweds, to emerge. Finally they came out around 3pm. Yay! I might have even shed a tear of joy.



After herding the entire extended families for some quick photos, it was time to head to the real party at Thanksgiving Point. We had a nice sit-down dinner with family and close friends before the open reception started. All day it had been looking like rain – we had the option to move things indoors, but decided to enjoy the gorgeous outdoor garden in hopes that the rain would stay away.
We had 45 minutes of great weather and a sunset once the reception started, then the wind and rain came in full force. Somehow cramming all the guests under a tiny gazebo right next to the DJ and cupcakes upped the fun factor. Even my dad danced. Or maybe I should say he attempted to dance. That’s saying a lot.

All in all, a very successful and beautiful day. Taylor and Courtney drove off into the sunset and lived happily ever after. Or so I hope.



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Before flying out the next day I had brunch with Caroline and Jenn, old roommate and friend from DC. Always good to see familiar faces in Utah, otherwise I don’t think I could handle it.

I dreaded getting back on a US Airwasy flight, but when your aunt upgrades you to first class, maybe that helps a little? No issues this time, thank goodness. I paid my airline dues for awhile

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

True Love

Video wasn't working upon first glance - here's the link.
http://video.aol.com/aolvideo/AOL%20Music/just-say-yes/41701431001

Chi-town Wedding!

After a week of reliving high school, blueberry picking and working at dad's office, it was time to pack up and head back to Chicago. Yay! Chicago in the summertime, couldn't be better. My trip didn't turn out entirely as planned, but was still worth the trek.

I flew in Thursday evening and went back to Kerri's, home of the coolest cats ever. I was on my own during the day Friday and decided to go for a run on Lakeshore, since that's what you do in the summertime in Chicago. I was a few miles away from Kerri's place when I saw huge dark storm clouds coming in. Time to head back, and quickly! I started to sprint and the rain started coming down. Not two seconds after I stepped back into Kerri's building, the HUGEST clap of thunder went bang right over my head and it started to pour like nothing I'd seen in a long time. How's that for timing? Side note - I was terrified of thunderstorms as a child and sometimes still am. The cats were cowering under the bed, and we kept each other company during the rest of the storm. I had wanted to go to the Cubs game that day....uh, right. It poured all day long.
Finally in the late afternoon, the sky cleared up and I headed downtown to the Art Institute of Chicago, which is happily free on Fridays after 5pm. Eventually Kerri got off work and we met up for dinner and The Brothers Bloom, which I liked more than expected.
Saturday was time for the main event - Erin's wedding - the reason I came to Chicago! I met up with the rest of the Georgetown crew downtown at their hotel, and we taxi'd off to what might just be the most beautiful church I've seen in the US. Technically Erin and Sonny had gotten married a year before, since Sonny is in the military, but this was the full-on Catholic ceremony, and it was great!
Erin looked amazing, coupled with men in suits with swords, and you've got a pretty awesome combination.
The reception was held next door at Erin's high school - yes, this courtyard below is not like any high school I've ever seen.....absolutely beautiful. We had appetizers and drinks in the gardens, then headed into the high school cafeteria (also amazing) for dinner and dancing.
I got to see Luke - Salamanca dos mil dos epic party crew lives on....

This was probably the most fun wedding I've attended - food was fantastic - Chicago-style pizza, Italian dishes, and delicious cakes and canolis, without the wait. Just a no-fuss, pick one of three buffet tables and eat what you want, when you want. I'm kinda relieved there was no ceremony to cut the cake or throw the bouquet. Erin knows how to throw a party - give the people food, dancing (and alcohol) and let them govern themselves.
However, this guest below had a little too much fun. I watched him pull together 3 chairs to make himself a bed, then he laid down and passed out. Lots of cameras came out. Soooo funny.

Erin and groom, breakin it down, just as they did when they met at Tom Tom. Yes, they know it's as bad as it sounds. But yay for a wonderful wedding!
Sunday morning I just had to go back to Tweet before leaving Chicago, so that's what Kerri, Erika and I did. Always delicious.
I said goodbye to Tegan and Lynx, and hurried off to the airport for my flight back to Phoenix. Except not without trouble. Apparently the Blue Line of the 'L' was under construction, and I had no prior warning. I had to get off the Blue line, haul my bags down a couple flights of stairs, find a shuttle bus, pack myself in like a sardine with other passengers with bags. Our bus driver had NO idea where he was going. Thankfully a couple locals were standing in the front and directed him through the streets where the Blue Line would've run. People missed stops and he didn't stop to pick anyone up, but finally we got back to the subway. Off the bus, up 3 flights of stairs with my bags, onto the train.
I still had many stops to go until I got to O'Hare. I finally got in line to check my bag at 6:15pm. My flight left at 6:40pm. I was in the First Class line and had to wait a bit to check in, so by the time I got the counter, it was 10 minutes til lift off. The agent said I could maybe get through if I could carry on, but that was impossible. I'd been gone for 10 days, had 2 bags, a laptop, and a purse. I finally asked her to rebook me for the next morning, since there were no more options that night. Ugh. Awful.

However, this amazing lady (Quinn, with American Airlines at ORD, you are awesome!) stepped away, made a quick phone call, and heard that my flight was delayed by at least 30 minutes. I think technically she shouldn't have let me check in, but she pulled some strings, took my bags, and sent me on my way! I was so relieved to get on that plane. For once, thank goodness for delays! Adios, Chicago. Wish I could've gone back in August for Lollapalooza, maybe next year.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

No Room to Talk

Two things that happened to me recently that I feel somewhat dumb about.

1) My iPod is, for better or worse, one of my treasures. It's always within an arm's reach. As I hopped into my car on Saturday, I reached for the auxiliary cord to plug it into the speakers and start up the jams, and realized the plug wouldn't go into the headphone jack. I tried again. No luck. I started looking down into the iPod and realized that the broken silica gel pack that's been in the bottom of my purse for a couple weeks now had a little bead sneak into the headphone jack. Perfect size, all the way down to the bottom and completely stuck in. Why oh why didn't I clean those out?! Why did I let them roll around in the bottom of my bag for so long? I started to panic. This was already my 3rd iPod of the year already! When I finally got home I dug out a safety pin and attempted to rescue the music, no to avail. Time to book an appointment at the Genius Bar. I sheepishly took my treasure to the desk, explained, and as expected, my Genius had seen this many times before, in addition to rice and other objects getting stuck. After a few minutes, solved! Amazing. He's my hero for the week. I learned my lesson sort of the hard way, with a few hours of uncertainty.

2) My car has been filthy after parking it outside for a month and taking several road trips. One night I decided I absolutely just had to wash it that day cause I couldn't handle it another minute. Small problem - it's impossible to find a car wash in my neighborhood that isn't a full service hand wash. None of those places are open at 10pm on a Monday. I drove around for half an hour, while I and my patient passenger were both using our phones to Google car washes. Absolutely NOTHING in the area. I finally gave up and headed home, but drove right past a new gas station that had a brand new car wash for only $1.99. Amazing! I went inside to purchase a car wash, and even though I didn't purchase gasoline (and therefore should not have gotten the $1.99 price) I apparently made the cute little clerk nervous that he gave me the special because I was "such a pretty lady." Haha. Sweet.

I drove around back, punched my code into the machine and got ready for the wash. Except this car wash was different. Usually you pull forward til the stoplight turns red, then you put the car in park and wait for the wash, right? Right?. Not this one - it had a conveyor belt that I was supposed to drive on to, then put my car in neutral. Which I didn't really figure out until the wash had completed an entire cycle, assuming that my car was on it. Uh.... I had to back out, running over metal poles, looking like an idiot because yes, someone else had pulled into the line behind me. I paid again at the box and finally got my car on the track. A reminder to me that even though I've had my driver's license for 13 years now, I spent 8 of those years in a place where I didn't drive. Ooops.

Moral of the story - I went out to lunch with a friend this weekend, someone I don't know all that well. I shared a couple of those dumb moments and he said - don't take this the wrong way, but if those are your biggest problems in life, I'd say you've kinda got it made.

He's right. And I know that. I really am grateful that these "huge" problems I'm dealing with are absolutely nothing, and I mean NOTHING, in the grand scheme of things. Time to count my blessings and perhaps prepare for a time when my luck will swing the other way. It's bound to come sometime.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Ten Years in the Making

I was doing so well on the blog updates, then I went out of town again. This week the motivation's back to write, so let's see how it goes....

Back to June. My 10-year high school reunion had been in the works for awhile, first with a MySpace page announcement months ago, then finally a letter in the mail with a schedule of events and a registration form.

I'd already had my plane ticket booked for weeks when the letter arrived. I couldn't wait to go.

I had talked with many other friends about summer plans; everyone had heard about their own 10-year reunions, mentioned how they weren't going or didn't go and almost couldn't believe that I would go and that I was looking forward to it.

Hmmm....

I found this puzzling. How could they not go?! But maybe my high school experience was a little different?

I grew up in a small Oklahoma town with a population of 8,000, according to the 2000 census. Most my classmates, me included, couldn't wait to get out of school and get on with our lives. I probably jumped the farthest distance after graduation and never really looked back. Sure, I went home at Christmas, but spent most summers in DC. Since moving to AZ, my parents visit here often and I've had little reason to travel back to good ole Poteau.

I did go home for Christmas in 2008, first time I'd been there in over 2 years. I'd lost touch with most people and spent the few holiday days with my parents and dog, not really venturing out to close the gaps with old friends who are still there.

This trip would be different. I finally had the chance to see people I hadn't seen in 10 years. Who I lost touch with because we didn't have cell phones and email addresses and Facebook when we parted ways. There were only 96 of us in my graduating class. My town is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone. And maybe there are a few little cliques, but for the most part, we were truly all friends and got along. We'd been through many good times together, not just as a class, but as an entire high school.

I have very much come to appreciate this existence that I had. I wasn't just a nameless face in a class of 900 people, attempting to go to a reunion, find the 4 people from high school I still talk to, and ditch the official events for my own personal reunion. I couldn't wait to see anyone and everyone who showed up. I had no fear of forgetting names or faces - it's just so easy when you all knew each other and still do.

I think it was especially comforting, coming from my current town where most of my friends have known me less than 2 years, going back to a place where people have known me for much longer. And it doesn't matter than we haven't spoken for 10 years or what we've done since then; we've got enough shared experiences -- key teenage years shared experiences -- to allow us to pick up right where we left off, albeit with spouses and children in tow. Something about that was really great for me.

I'll tell you I loved every minute of the reunion weekend.
I was a little nervous that first night, hopping into my mom's car and driving up Wolf Mountain to the opening event, wondering how it would play out. Who'd be there? Who knew I was coming? Would I be the outsider who left and never came back? I was slightly apprehensive for nothing - everyone was greeted with open arms. It seems we haven't aged a bit. It was impossible to vote for the "Most Changed" as there were no drastic apprearance or character skews in the last decade.We spent Friday night together at the golf course clubhouse catching up, meeting spouses, trading stories, then afterparty at Jake's, like usual, except with his small daughter in bed and very pregnant wife making sure we were fine until all hours of the morning. Saturday was a lazy morning pool party at the Coopers, like usual, until it was time for the banquet at the Kerr Mansion.
We all dressed up and arrived there, just as we had 10 years before for our Senior Banquet. We voted again on class awards (I won most traveled, big surprise) and watched our old Senior video. The party started to wind down at midnight, but a few of us stayed late into the night, watching the lightning storm through the huge banquet room windows, dancing, laughing, and eventually using a trashcan roller wheel gadget to push each other down long hallways. I won't mention how much alcohol had been consumed by some at that point, but new memories were certainly created.
Thankfully I was able to stay in Oklahoma all week and work remotely, since I had to travel to Chicago the following weekend for a wedding. I spent the rest of the week hanging out with high school friends who are still in town (who are now running an Insurance agency, selling cars, working at the hospital) and am grateful that I've made those connections again. Going back home will be more fun now that I can have a different lunch date every day of the week!

Late last year my dad completed construction on his new office space, so please, step into my office.....
I spent a few days out at our blueberry farm - it's blueberry season! The farm was open 2-3 times a week this summer, for people to come and pick their own berries. It's fun to watch people pull up, grab their buckets, pet the dog, then head out in search of fresh berries for muffins or cereal or whatever else you want to throw them into. (Sidenote, the dog was too spoiled to walk down to the pond when she got too hot, so I had to DRIVE her. Yes, ridiculous).
After cooling off in the pond, Honey likes to go snoop for her own berries, preferring the blackberries over the blueberries.


My pretty town, home of the World's Highest Hill.
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