Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Time There Is

I found a two-cent euro three days in my roll of pennies I was going to deposit. That was awesome. It was an awesome sign. And so I proceded to deposit that two-cent euro in my bank account; it was more valuable than the other pennies in there anyway, so I figure it will give me good luck while I'm abroad. :) Mr. Merrill presented me with a check as a gift from the Kid's Class, and on behalf of A Mountain Wind Martial Arts last week before he left. I am sad I won't be seeing him before I leave; I am worried about who will take over the class when I am gone...and that is all I can say about that. I will really miss my class. Kate and Brendan were in town. They gave me an awesome send off lunch on Sunday which was fantastic because I really did want to see them before I left and didn't know if I could. I really wish I could say goodbye in person to my extended family, namely Dan & Becky in NY before I left though. And now, I am sitting in a pile of clothes and all this other random crap that I am contemplating on taking to Rome with me, with no luggage to put them in... and wondering if three months is really a significant amount of time. I've almost convinced myself that it's not enough time, which it isn't and I am sad about that. Actually, I'm pissed off about that. Because I don't know what kind of goodbye I'm supposed to say to people.

RA training has also begun, and I met the new kid who lives in my former room. He's cool. I approve. I miss those people though. And I also have all this stuff with PSFA to get done or at least started before I go. I hope things go well.
Speaking of which, there are a whole lot of people I will miss, but very limited amounts of time to hang out before I go because I have to spend that time with my parents at the building. Hope I get to do everything I want to do and see the people I want to see in the time that I have. I hope.

P.S. This is the new teaser poster for X-Men 3. I soiled myself when I saw this.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Something Old, Something New, Part III

Holy crap. Didn't realize how many pictures we took....The cabin had a scenic view of mud lake, a section of the Mississippi River. The Diamond Jo Casino (where I won $26.00) was my first gambling experience, but some of the others were not as lucky. I was excited to actually do the slots, but the fucking black jack tables were $5.00 minimum bets, so I said fuck that. And ultimately, I walked away a richer man. I call it wisdom. The city of Dubuque has its charm. We went downtown while we waited for the bride and groom to return, and had some ice cream on a quiet street on a calm Sunday afternoon. And holy crap was it quiet there...but there was a really cool Irish shop where they played folk music that made me wish I was Irish.

Joe posed for some pictures. He was a good sport about it. But then I had to take advantage of some of the more scenic and aesthetic features Dubuque had to offer. Inevitably, I took some pretentious landscapes in black and white.

On Monday, we went to this place called Galena. It's one of those Midwest towns where shops line the streets, people are everywhere, and it's kind of in this century but not (mostly because of all of the antique shops). It was a great day and we saw a lot of old, cool things. But what was most impressive was our trip to Vinny Vannucchi's Italian Restaurant. Best Italian food I have ever had. Ever. Ever in my whole life. Period. Oh man. Getting hungry again.

This trip was da bomb shiz. Glad I got a chance to see the American Midwest, meet new people, experience the transition from 'soda' to 'pop,' but most importantly, to be a significant part, yet again, of quite possibly the biggest milestone of these two people's lives. Thanks for everything guys.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Something Old, Something New, Part II

K. So I didn't fuck up. A lot. In fact, I think they rather liked my reverend-ness at the ceremony. Before the ceremony, we had prepared our nerves with some supplement. I, with the power bestowed upon me by the ULC and the state of Iowa, blessed the Coronas we had stored in our ghetto cooler in the tub and consecrated it as holy wine. And we drank.
It calmed us as we waited for the hotel picures to get finished shooting. And aferwards, off we went to the Arboretum for the ceremony. It was fantastic. And beautiful. And perfect. And simple. And fun. All of the stress leading up to the event was worth it. I had a great time being nervous, but getting up in front of those people and realizing the high potential of bursting out in laughter with the two of them was overwhelming. I had a great time watching Ben & Audra getting nervous though. However, fortunately the expectations we had of the four different families coming together for the wedding were in real explosions, no confrontations, just a quiet recognition of two people very much in love.Eagle Point Park, the location for the rehearsal dinner/picnic was awesome. With a grand view of the Mississippi River at the intersection of three different states, and an obnoxious amount of delicious barbeque food, we had a great time with friends from all over the country as well as their families. But the wedding was in question; the weather was ominous and dark, having threatened rain in the wee hours before the ceremony was to begin. But when the pictures were done, and the wedding party was ready to march down the aisle, the skies yielded and onward we went. The harps played Pachelbel Canon in D, the flower girls marched with their baskets and I stood there with Ben in front of the Gazebo, watched by all of these people, waiting for the Bride to arrive. And arrive she did. They looked so happy, in that I-Can't-Believe-It-We're-Actually-Doing-This-But-I-Am-So-Happy-We-Are-and-I-Am-So-Exhausted-And-Ready-to-Party way, as I began the ceremony and recited the words we wrote together. They said their vows, and proceeded to execute their Hollywood kiss for the audience. It was awesome.

The ceremony was smooth, short and sweet. :) And then Ben complained about the thousands of pictures that were taken after the ceremony. But the Arboretum was a location the photographer (nor I) could pass up. So we went crazy with the cameras.

The reception was held at the Clarke College Atrium, a grand glass-enclosed reception hall with a staircase, a fountain and columns that surround the dining space. The food was beyond belief. The music resounded. And man oh man, did I get a buzz going.
But the reception was anything but smooth. At the beginning. The lady Audra had commissioned to create the wedding cake (I swear to GOD that she was the same lady as the psychic in the movie Poltergeist) came to the reception, as we were eating, to cut the cake. What she DID NOT realize was that her cake looked like severe ASS and was not going to be cut and served. She had a cow when she was told about her cake, but Sarah, Audra's awesome sister and the matron of honor, chewed her out royally. Poltergeist lady threw a hissy fit and dumped her cake in the trashcan, storming out of the reception and that was that. The rest of the reception involved my consumption of whiskey sours, rum and cokes, miller lights, heineken, white zins and a WHOLE lot of dancing. I made a toast. I sang a song. We danced. And we celebrated the marriage of two very good friends throughout the night.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Something Old, Something New, Part I

dis shitz bananaz....

I decided that the night before their wedding day was the most appropriate time to have something written down here
. Now, despite the relentless fun I’ve had here in Dubuque, Iowa, the amount of tension and stress is a bit high…not to mention how nervous yours truly feels when I actually have to be up there in front of all of these people.

Our fourteen-hour drive here was actually not that bad. It’s never hard to have a fun time with Audra, and so our hours and miles were filled with movie games, twenty questions, the geography game, much karaoke and some mishaps with food. Also, we took some good pictures and she felt the need to prepare me for meeting her family this week. Altogether, trekking across America and over the Mississippi River was fun and amazing, though I couldn’t see doing it on a regular basis. I traveled four states (and drove for a lot of the time), passed the Appalachian mountains and the Ohio river valley to venture into the American Midwest, which meant corn, flatlands, blue skies and miles and miles of road that disappears into the horizon.

This week has been amazing though. Finally, I have a much more holistic view of this country. I met Audra’s family, a cornucopia of close dear relatives and insane (evil) stepsiblings (cough cough TRACY cough cough). Her sister Sarah and her brother-in-law Brian were amazing Dubuque hosts, helping Audra ease into the wedding preparations and giving me the insider’s perspective on the rest of the family. Haven’t met her father yet, and we stayed in his house for three days (kinda gives you the idea of what he’s like). Her stepmother is strange and apparently spiteful and her mother and mother’s boyfriend own over 150 snakes on the second floor of their house. Boge, Audra’s friend from Karate here is a sagely, good-humored man who seemed to take well to having another Asian in the wedding. Finally met Ben’s sister, who seemed very nice, and it was good to see Chuck and Tom Langston again, but I could’ve done without Ben’s mom’s outbursts (didn’t make Ben very happy). But I saw some really great puppies (they were actually kittens, but I kept calling them puppies for some reason) and we had our car break down in the middle of farmland. Awesome.

Joe and Hailee came today, thank god, and they just made the atmosphere a little lighter, especially at the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner picnic, also where Audra and Ben gave me a beer tankard for a gift that beautifully had engraved on it, “Reverend ‘All-Star’ Don.” I really started missing friends from home too, and can’t help but feel that I’m fucking up a lot of things here, even though I know maybe its just Audra blowing off steam and de-stressing when she gives me that look. I hope I haven’t actually fucked anything up.

There’s a ton to do here in Dubuque. The hotel is amazing; and once again I have my own room with (get this) WIRELESS INTERNET, which is why I’m able to write this here in the first place. It is nice to be out of State College, and this trip to Dubuque was a nice test to see what it would be like on a more permanent basis. But now, the vacation part has halted for a bit, and images of tomorrow keep running through my head and making me nervous. But Audra and Ben’s amazing hospitality (they’ve paid for meals, gas, gifts, hotel room and return flight home; holy shit…that’s a lot) has been beyond amazing, and I can’t possibly figure out how to repay them for it. I don’t think they realize how much being their Officiant is an honor and privilege for ME, so all of this was not necessary, but will not go unappreciated. Hopefully, too, I haven’t been too annoying asking “do you guys need anything” or “is there anything else you need for tomorrow” or even just by hanging around their room and stuff…I don’t think they’ve had much time alone together since Ben arrived, and I already feel like I’m intruding on their privacy.
But they’ve just been so nice and they deserve such a good wedding that I want to make sure nothing goes wrong for them tomorrow. You can say that after having met some of their families and watching how they’ve reacted to some of the more unfortunate aspects of this week, I’ve gotten pretty protective of the two of them. This will be interesting…and fun. Enough people know how to line-dance to Earth, Wind & Fire’s September, I’m going to help sing their first dance, Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, and the couple only have hours before they will be married. I’m really excited.

And I’m really nervous.
But I’m really excited.

To Be Continued.