My sister got married

I rushed through the morning’s preparations in order to sit down to be able to write this. As the title says, my sister indeed got married. She has just recently touched down in Japan to start their honeymoon. It was a 10 hour flight from CA! Having taken off last week to prepare with the dogs and all, I can safely say that I put the world on hold for this, and as such everything flew by in a blur! I got like no sleep last week and it wasn’t until today (so far at least) that my eye stopped twitching. From previous posts, you know my tumultuous journey with training the dogs (really the Doberman). It took up more energy than I could have thought it would. Then there were the 2 dates I went on. I know I have 2 more to get going with, but it feels like such a job to get through with these things. I have 2 that are asking me for 2nd dates and then there’s me unsure of how to say no, but not that I care to respond at this time because I’m still sorting through pictures and trying to decide what to do with them. There’s still that album I started and never finished. I’m still crazy tired and I don’t think I’ll be able to relax until this coming weekend, whereupon I’ll have to head back south because I forgot a bunch of things. I didn’t plan on that, but there you go. THEN I’ll be able to start job searching again, start thinking about those dates again, and getting back into the groove of things.

Friday, July 25, 2014: Rehearsal and Dinner

My grandparents and mom arrived Thursday evening when things started going crazy. I had spent the entire day preparing by doing major cleanup around the house, trying to set up an antenna in the guest room, steaming the carpet, etc. It took them so long to get there I ended up playing more Mass Effect 2 and prepping the dogs with walkies, etc. It was a whirlwind as soon as they got there, with dinner prep starting right away, greetings, dogs, etc. Then we Facetimed my sister, my brother and I ran out to Wal-Mart for essentials, and then didn’t get to sleep til midnight (as was custom for the week it seemed). The next morning I took the dogs out before bringing out the bike for Tristan. Breakfast, then my grandparents left, leaving me to wind down with Mass Effect and eating outside with my brother. I ended up being the late one, having been so engrossed in the game. We elected my brother to drive and came out to hit traffic. Ugh. Finally 1.5 hours later we got to the Cathedral and there were lots of parking spaces, but there were homeless people everywhere waiting for what I assumed to be Caritas. I’d completely forgotten about that. It shouldn’t have been a big deal, but I’d forgotten and was creeped out so I made my brother drive around in circles until we found a place on the other side of the Cathedral. We were super early, but it was hot in the car so I took our stuff (hid some others) and went into the Cathedral. It was like stepping through a time portal. It had been….so many years. It had to be since 2002. 12 years!!!! My goodness! Some things had changed, definitely, but the memories just came back. The pews were so much smaller than I remembered! And to be honest, the whole church seemed to have shrunk. Still as beautiful as ever. The bathroom was exactly the same, even down to the faulty door handle. Immediately I saw a woman I hadn’t seen since then, older, but there was no doubt about who it was. First she thought I was my sister, and then she thought I was my mom. Then my sister again. We talked for a while and I marveled at how much easier it was for me to talk to people than before, in the exact same place to the same person. I wandered around for a while before people started showing up. The Bridesmaids, friends, groomsmen, Father Renninger who also seemed to have forgotten me. Then my mom, my grandparents and my sister and her fiancé. People seemed to not recognize me, but then again, I was wearing a dress. I don’t do that normally. It’s like they didn’t know what to say to me, so no one talked much to me until later. Then we went through the rehearsal and Father was the jovial, awesome guy we remembered him to be.  I was that annoying camera girl. After that was over, we piled into the car and went to the rehearsal venue (Vietnam Garden) a Vietnamese restaurant where the food and service really weren’t all that good, but I got some more pics in which turned out to be the only pics of the time all together. My brother and I left early to get back home after I gave her my wedding present (Kindle Fire HDX for the plane ride) and I was so glad that my brother was driving because my eyes kept closing on me. I can’t drive in the dark worth beans. The dogs were excited to see us when we got back around 9:30pm and it was so dark I chose not to walk them, letting them out in the yard to do their thing. Thank goodness for such a large space! Then I had to wait some to feed them, which meant I didn’t collapse into bed until about 11:30ish.

Saturday, July 26, 2014: Ceremony

Woke up that fateful morning earlier because I knew I didn’t have much time to prepare. Walked Liana and Gable singularly before taking Tristan for a long bike ride by himself. He didn’t break much of a sweat, but he was getting so much better at the bike! Shower, breakfast, then stuffed some Kongs with peanut butter, messed on the computer and soon thereafter had to go dress up and get ready. I had checked out the traffic and my gosh it was crowded. I was early this time and went to find my brother who was trying to figure out the bowtie. He couldn’t, so swapped out for a tie and after a final out for the pups, I let him out first so that I could distribute the Kongs. Liana and Tristan were on them immediately and could care less about me leaving, but Gable wasn’t fooled. He gave me the most mournful expression and tried to follow me out the door. I quickly left and looked up as we backed out to see him (and only him….) at the window…crying. I could see it and I tried hard not to cry even if the tears were threatening. It’s so hard to leave him when he grieves like that…I don’t know how people can leave their children behind. He’s a dog. It didn’t help that I knew we’d be gone for 10-11 hours. Traffic was indeed as horrible as I thought it’d be and that was missing the first major traffic event. We arrived 15 minutes before the projected time when we were supposed to be picking my grandparents up, so I went up to find them as my brother waited in the car in front of the hotel. They weren’t ready yet, so I waited with them. Then we went down and found one of the bridesmaids. After a brief detour, we found the lobby where my mom, sister and maid of honor were all made up and ready to go. Loaded the grands up into the car and took the 5 minute ride to the church, scoring a great parking spot. We were early, but not unreasonably so. I took the time to snap several pictures of the Cathedral and recruited a guy to help with the filming. At the time when were supposed to be walking down the aisle, none of the wedding party had arrived yet, and sadly, none of my family either. When they finally arrived, there was some craziness going on and nerves were frazzled. I ran for some Advil, inviting comments from the gathered peoples like, “who’s that? That’s the sister of the bride! The sister of the bride????” You see, I was wearing our traditional dress, an ao dai, and it was pink. Yes. Pink. Who’da thunk? The priest was getting antsy to get going so I lined up and got ready.

THEN THE MUSIC STARTED. And my grandparents were escorted down by my brother, then the mother of the bride, and then the cross, and then me!!! I focused hard on not tripping and made it to the pulpit steps before stepping on my own ao dai. Thankfully no one noticed and I made it up and down in one piece. Then everyone turned here comes the bride with my mom!!! I was proud and oh so happy. It blurred on and before I knew it I was up to do the first reading. I climbed up (coming in from the wrong side), moved the microphone and jumped right in: “A reading from the book of Tobit…” My heart was flying a mile a minute, my hands were shaky, my legs felt like Jell-O, but thankfully my voice was perfectly calm and I became almost zen-like. Looking up from the book I saw nothing….only blurred images of people. It helped quite a bit to not recognize details. I think I have to thank all those darn presentations I had to do in hygiene school. The rest of the ceremony flew past and after an unchangingly wonderful homily, THE VOWS. I was busy taking pictures with my point-and-shoot, but we weren’t supposed to take pics then. I was so happy again. He said his lines fine, and then when my sister’s turn came up, she was overcome with emotion and had to force them out. That was when I (and about half the congregation) lost it too. I had not planned on that at all. I didn’t think it would happen to me, but the tears just started to come. I half panicked because I still needed to say the prayers of the faithful after all of that, and I lacked any tissues, so I quickly improvised the bottom of my ao dai. It wasn’t until then that I realized just how happy I was for my sister. It was all so surreal, but it was happening! Nose running and tears mostly dried, I was able to make out the prayers of the faithful (walked up the correct side this time) well and then it was over!!! I snatched up my camera and snapped pics left and right. My side of the family came up to visit us and soon the next photoshoot happened in the church. Picture after picture happened, and then we could finally head back to the hotel to rest a little before heading over to the reception. There we met my uncles and aunt who didn’t make it to the ceremony because they had a nail in the tire PLUS traffic was ridiculous. That was the consensus across the board: traffic was just horrible.

To think I was worried before about the long gap in time between the ceremony and the reception! We really only had enough time to sit about checking my phone, re-charging the camcorder, spying on the dogs and changing into the next ao dai, before making the 5 minute trip to the next venue: The reception.

Saturday, July 26, 2014: Reception

Thank goodness for valet parking in the city!! We got in and I got right to work, pulling out the camera to document. This time it was much trickier because everything was so dark. The camera is good even without the flash (I don’t like using the built in flash because it’s such a harsh light), but I was getting frustrated with how quickly people were moving. That has been the bane of my camera usage since we got it and I haven’t been able to figure out how to take good movement pictures. Still, I managed to snag a few shots and spent the vast majority of the time there taking pictures. While the professional photographers were roaming around too, I was documenting the candid, overall story. I know and knew that while you’re off doing bride stuff that there’s no way you’ll get to meet everyone and see everything, so that was my goal for this whole camera venture. Let the photographers get the nice pictures, I wanted everything else. Finally saw my family members and friends of the family there and said hi to everyone. It was so nice to see that everyone…everyone…was so happy. No one looked tired or old, everyone was just beaming with happiness. My little cousins wanted to play with my camera, but I couldn’t let them have my big one, so I gave them my point-and-shoot to play with (it’s still a rather expensive camera in and of itself…) if they promised to share. Turns out they got some decent pictures! Then to my surprise, the photographer came up to me to give me some tips on taking pictures with the camera. I told him it’s too dark and I don’t really know how to use the camera, so he quickly went over a few things before running off when the taiko drums started. They were amazing but crazy deafening you couldn’t hear anyone else talking. I whipped out the camcorder and hung around up top while everyone else filed into the dining tables below. Finally making my way down, pictures, pictures, pictures. Dinner rolled around and I realized that I had to eat were 2 meatballs from earlier. There was so much to document! To take in! Switched from camera to camcorder and got my brother to take some footage when I managed to stop long enough to eat my pasta and banter with my cousins a bit. Then it was back to it!!! The photographer came back to let me borrow his awesome flash and OMG that is FOR SURE the next thing I buy for the camera. It sure is heavy, but dang it’s worth it…over the higher aperture lens he was showing me earlier too. Passed off the camera again and got to the dance floor. I must have been drunk on happiness because all of the sudden energy poured out of me into the festivities. Before I knew it, I had to leave because (sadly) I had forgotten about my dogs waiting at home. I really wanted to stay and see me sister through it, but my grandparents wanted to retire too (they were the oldest ones there), and my family members were starting to leave for home. Said goodbye to people, thanked the photographer, and tried to leave except I lost an earring. Came back to find it, but couldn’t, so said goodbye again and went outside to get the car and let my brother drive home. I was more awake this time, but the dilemma was that we were unbelievably low on gas, so we stopped at the first gas exit and I made him do it because it was creepy and dark there. Came home without a hitch and the dogs were so excited to see us. I quickly moved to let them out the back (without collars!) and Liana had to go so badly she actually pawed my leg. She never does that! That’s when I felt guilty about forgetting about them. This time, with the Kongs, they weren’t as hungry, but as I waited a couple minutes to feed them, you know I laid on the loving after all the time we abandoned them.

I was so glad I’d done some desensitizing the past week.

And it was over! The next day saw me spending ridiculous amounts of time uploading pictures onto Facebook, showing the grandparents pictures, toting everyone back north, resting with Mass Effect 3, church and then out to eat again with my grandparents. Monday was spent grocery shopping, giving back the Doberman, and Mass Effect. No laundry done (speaking of which…I have to do that tonight….), but my only goal was plenty of rest.

Then work yesterday where everyone was so happy to have no more hygiene temps to deal with and I learned of the sad news that my co-worker’s aunt who had been in the ICU when I left didn’t make it. With my vast hugging experience this wedding, I listened to her and then gave her a big hug. She’s a strong woman, but I could tell that a hug was in order. If it had been a couple months earlier, I don’t think I would have been as comfortable, but I wanted her to know that if she needed anything I’d be there. I think I’m growing up a little. :) Isn’t it strange how life works? One sad event followed by something so incredibly joyous?

I’m still reeling from all the excitement and forgot everything at the other house, so while I didn’t plan on it, I’m going back this weekend. Still trying to catch up on sleep (eye twitch!). All those guys I’ve been talking to have been thrown by the wayside, so they’ve been messaging me left and right, but I’ve been avoiding everyone. When I get all the rest I need, then I’ll be back onto that. Plus the whole job thing. Man.

Entry: Complete!

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