26 June 2008

Squirrly Korean Encounter

After work yesterday, I took a book outside to the park and sat on a bench, reading away. Squirrels and pigeons are getting way too close for comfort, but I just hoped for the best and pressed on with my book. There were many others in the park, as it was a gorgeous, sunny and cool evening. For some reason I looked like a good target for a guy ... he came over and talked to me after harassing another guy about where the McDonald's is (the guy was eating his dinner from there).

So, the talkative guy has an English workbook, and obviously doesn't speak English well. He starts asking me questions like "When is your birthday?" and "Do you come here often?" Not as a come on, but as a "let me practice my English on you" -- it was uncomfortable and I couldn't understand 2/3 of what he said. (One thing he said was in Korea, where he's from, they don't have squirrels. Wonder if that's true.) He would work a little in his book, then ask me something. Finally I got up and left (how can I read a book with these distractions) and said "See you." Making it clear (I thought) that I did NOT want to see him again... Guess there's a language barrier.

As I'm walking away, made it about a half block, he comes RACING up to me from behind, scaring the living jeebus out of me. I say "what do you want?" in as rude a voice as I can muster, because although he SEEMS harmless, having a guy (even a scrawny Korean guy) jump up from behind you is threatening. He tells me he's going to the subway and points. I say "OK" and make a fake turn (away from the subway) to get away from him and avoid letting him know where I live (which is only a block and a half from the park)...

And that's that. ~M.

23 June 2008

God Sighting (Meeting?)

Sunday morning it was humid, heavy and dark. The clouds and tall buildings blocked out the sun, not to mention our black out curtains we use to block noise and light. So it was after 10:20 that I finally got myself out of bed, and decided yes, I would try to make it to church at 11 on the upper east side, usually a 30 minute train ride. I washed and dressed quickly and was able to leave the apartment building by about 10:30...

The subway station is 0.33 miles away, according to Google Maps, but it doesn't seem so far. I just walked along, hitting EVERY cross walk when it was lit with the green man signifying "walk." I didn't think I had money on my subway card, so I was going to refill it. Typically I wait for a train for 5-10 minutes on Sunday mornings so there is time to stop at the machine and add money. But, as I descended into the station, a train, my train was pulling in, and I chanced it and swiped my card - success, with 50 cents left.

Through the turnstile (with the satisfying "thunk" on my behind when going through) and rushing across the platform, hopping on the train just in time. Usually I ride the 6 - it's the only train that stops at this station usually. But this was a 5 express, which was running local below 42nd street, including stopping at my stop at Astor Place. SO my luck was catching the train just as it arrived at the station (with just enough money on my subway card to get on!) and then after 42nd street it was only two more stops to my church, and when the thing goes express, it can really book it.

I arrived at church on time, maybe even a few minutes early!

The church (and so far every church I've visited in NYC) isn't air conditioned, so it's very hot. It wasn't too bad of a day out yet, and they have electric fans throughout the church and leave the windows and doors open (the singing and praying drowns out the traffic noise without issue). I was able to secure a seat in front of an oscillating fan, so that every 10 seconds or so I was hit with a breeze. And despite my hot nature, I was able to keep cool and not be distracted by the heat...

The service was good - and the songs, well they sang songs I knew from growing up (Are Ye Able? and Here I Am, Lord), and they played "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" - a song we played at our wedding. It sounds a lot different on the organ (and with the choir singing the lyrics), but it gave me warm fuzzies. A little boy was baptized, and that always adds to the majesty and wonder of the worship. The service itself was about thanking and honoring the volunteers who make the church run. And how we must answer the call to do our part. It's not about our "ability" but our "availability" ... God doesn't call the qualified. God qualifies the called. I loved that. I have plenty of abilities to offer, but I'm stingy in my availability - which is crazy, since I don't know anyone here and don't really do much outside of work and hang with Shawn. Maybe this can be my goal...

God sightings (or God meetings) indeed. ~Mari.

21 June 2008

wedding photos posted

there are just too many to do it justice. it would help if the wedding photog's photos were in order ... but this is a start of my favorites:
About the Rehearsal, with photos
About the Ceremony and Reception, with photos

20 June 2008

Horoscope ... Only When I Agree

Today can be a potent reminder of the dramatic changes you have experienced over the past several years. But even if your personal evolutionary process has irrevocably changed you from a caterpillar into a butterfly, the metamorphosis is not yet complete. Use the intensity of your memories to keep the process alive in the present moment while considering what work you still have left to do.
Horoscopes are meaningless, but I liked the structure of that one. (It's Sagittarius for today, June 20, by Rick Levine.) I have started a list (oh how I love lists) about blog posts to write - mostly thinking back to pieces of me... What made me become the me that Shawn loves and married. I want to gloss over the embarrassing parts, some of which I'm ashamed of, but we'll see. Catharsis and therapy in a free blog... coming up sometime.

~Mari.

18 June 2008

plum perfect

My new Kitchen-Aid mixer arrived yesterday. What a treat! And it is indeed dark plum. It's also a heavy thing. Can't wait to have a reason to use it - although cookies sound mighty nice...

Picture to follow. ~M.

Edit: Shawn took a picture of me with it:

15 June 2008

nostalgia

for some reason, the scent of mulberry overcame me recently. i think i was going to sleep or just waking up - something. and that acrid, terrible taste if you give into temptation and try to eat just one. ick. there's a big mulberry tree in our back/side yard at home. there's also honeysuckle there - and you can pull out the stem for a tiny drop of honey-like nectar. I always wondered if I could pull enough out to get a spoonful of that. I'll never know.

and for some reason, while i was thinking about this memory - this place where i grew up, i remembered talking to my friend megan about our childhoods. and about the games we played, books we read. we were sitting in the Wentz (?) dining hall - Pistol Pizza or something like that. And we were freshmen - and it was a moment where i thought 'this is what it's like to have a friend.' And lucky me we're still friends, albeit 3,000 miles away.

now i'm in my city apartment - stifling the heat with our powerful AC. ~mari.

12 June 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

Book: The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory

Historical fiction isn't something I necessarily gravitate to, but for this book I'm glad I did. My friend Holly recommended it to me, and I had heard of the book because of the movie version of it, released last year. I've never been "into" the English monarchy or understood the lineage. The book is thick, as in 600 pages, but I read it in just a few days. (I suck in books like air when they are good like this, and sometimes even when they are bad) There was romance, betrayal, sibling rivalry and drama - drama out the wazoo.

The main character, Mary, is sympathetic and richly developed. The other "true" characters, who show changes and real depth are Anne and King Henry. The girls' brother George is another main character, but his story is mostly to serve his sisters and so he remained an ancillary character (until the end, which he was involved in heavily). The mother of the kids was nonexistent in the book - she was there but never present in scenes beyond dismissing them.

It definitely made me want to learn more ... find out about Henry's other wives and how his court is connected to today's monarchy. And I think that's a goal of any "based on real life" book -- to urge the reader to seek out more information. It was also entertaining and ... not sure what other adjective would work. It was a good book.

Movie The Other Boleyn Girl starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansen and Eric Bana

Timing is something. The movie was released on DVD the day after I finished consuming the book. I moved it to the top of our Blockbuster list, and it arrived on Wednesday. So we watched that after webcamming. It was a heavily edited story line from the book. Entire pregnancies and children's birth were edited out. Which made sense for the timing and story line, but made it less congruous with what I assume is the "truth" ... i.e. there was a daughter to Mary and Henry before there was a son. They also made Anne out to be innocent and stupid at first, whereas she was entirely in control of herself and every situation from page 1 of the book. Maybe because I read the book first or maybe because the book was just so much more detailed, I felt like it painted a "truer" picture of Anne (although in reality both are highly fictionalized accounts). I wouldn't really recommend the movie, but it was something to see after reading the book.

~Mari.

09 June 2008

Remembering...

...what was the best week of my life... SO FAR.

Saturday May 24--My plane from NYC to Dallas was on time, maybe even a little ahead of schedule. And from Dallas to OKC, just a short 29 minute hop. I got to the airport, walked off the plane to my sister and nephew waiting for me with a cold vanilla Diet Coke from Sonic - nectar of the gods (or at least the bridezillas). We waited about 10 minutes and my bag came up, and off we went to the hotel for my bachelorette party. Owen played a bit at the hotel, which had a waterfall and fish ponds and a glass tube elevator, before Aunt Lee Ann came to take him for a night at her house. He was so excited to see Moe, the dog, and play in the back yard he didn't care we were having a party. Several girls came to the hotel, and we had dinner, went dancing for a couple hours and then came back exhausted. It was a good time - and we'll leave it at that. Didn't think I'd give all my secrets about the night, did you?

Sunday May 25- Wednesday May 28--Days filled with preparation. First to Lee Ann's to get Owen. We had lunch and were able to relax a bit there before the drive back to Indiahoma. On Monday, I tried on the dress and convinced myself "it fits good enough." We went to Sam's and Wal-Mart for supplies (plates and glasses that were never used, plus drinks - water, sodas, sparkling cider). On Tuesday evening, we decorated the church with the bells and fake flowers. These happy days were spent also running around, playing with Owen -- he has a little pool in his back yard and can splash for a long time...He has such fun, and spending time with him is a FAVORITE activity of mine, especially when in Indiahoma. Shawn and his family arrived on Tuesday after just two days of driving from Virginia, and they were able to help put the finishing touches on the church.

We ate dinner on Tuesday night at the Whistle Stop Cafe - the eating establishment in our little hamlet. They also have a pool table and some video games, which Owen was happy to take 50 cents from his Auntie M to indulge in. Our parents got to know each other, and we came back to my mom's house to show Shawn's parents and aunt most of our wedding gifts.

On Wednesday morning, my delivery from FiftyFlowers.com arrived. After struggling with them, and realizing I received pink roses instead of purple (they refunded my money, however, a small consolation), we took them to the church and put them in vases/pickle jars (how quaint). Owen played with the long, narrow boxes that they came in - they were subway cars, and he was a passenger going to Wal-Mart and Target to get various Thomas Toys that he is still missing from his collection. He has QUITE the imagination and was full of games like this throughout the week.

After we got the flowers situated, Shawn and I piled into Gran's car and drove to Lawton to get our marriage license. We were the only ones there, at about 12 pm. The young lady (Danielle) filled out our form, took our $50 and was finishing up when another couple came in, complete with baby in a baby carriage and two sets of parents - plus various hangers on. THEY were first asked if both parties are over 18. (We were not asked, which is OK, since we are definitely far above 18!) Then Shawn and I ate lunch with his family, and I stopped at Wal-Mart again for other essentials, including the fixings for spaghetti, which we made for supper at Gran's. I also stopped at Country Mart to try to buy some white roses to fill in for the pink ones, but all I could find were white and purple daisies, so I got those.

Throughout this day and the next, I was creating the programs on Beth's computer and printing them (two sided -- I ruined almost as many as I created). In the end I probably only needed half as many, which would have given me much more time to spend with Owen, but hindsight. We watched "The Bee Movie" on Wednesday evening. Owen spent the night with me most nights, except one when he stayed downstairs with Pa. Beth stayed with me from Tuesday on, as Shawn's family slept in her apartment for the first couple days, and then it was just easier for her to stay than to go! The one night it was just me and Owen he was all for it "Yeah! I'm staying with Mari!" and then when the lights went out "I want my mommy!" But we played a game - the animal alphabet game, and tried to think of an animal that started with each letter of the alphabet. I think we fell asleep around V.

On Thursday, Beth and I got up, left Owen with Aunt Lee Ann, and went for a "bridesmaids luncheon" -- bad Chinese buffet. A tradition that I LOVE. (Shawn doesn't care for Chinese buffets, so I have to indulge with those who share my taste for sweet and sour chicken.) Then she and I had our pedicures and "full sets" at OP Nails. Ugh. We didn't get to sit together, which was kind of a pain. The water was SCALDING hot. I had to ask the guy to put some cold water in, and every time Beth lifted a foot out of her bath her leg was red from the heat. We got deluxe pedicures, which were nice, but in doing my toes, the man made me bleed -- I guess he just cut a cuticle too close or something. The toes looked OK, but I was expecting a much thinner white line (we both got "French" pedicures). Then it was onto the "full sets" - which is something I don't really see advertised in the salons here, although I DO see many women running around (particularly cashiers) with full on fake acrylics, so probably somewhere this can be done. Being a novice (the last time I've had fake nails put on was for senior prom, NINE years ago), I just nodded my head when he put the more expensive "solar" nails out for me. (Apparently, for $8 more you get nails that don't yellow in the sun or if you tan... I am as white as a daisy and work inside all day - I don't even have to venture outside if I don't want to, but I digress...) The nails were SO long, and he used a sparkly white on the tips (I did tell him my wedding was the next day.) Instead of a clear base he used a pink - so my fingers looked so alien to me. Beth's were a little more subdued (she is a little more practiced at this, being more often around my mom whose nail designs are the envy of us both) - regular acrylics with solid white tips and clear base. At least they dried properly and quickly - and we were able to move on down the line. The atmosphere was very uncomfortable, in that they were speaking about us in a foreign language (there's a Seinfeld about that - an episode for everything) AND there was a newborn infant there. He wasn't crying or anything, but I just felt so bad that he was being exposed to the toxic, noxious fumes that almost knock you over when you walk in. Some people are so thoughtless. I pray I'll be a good mother someday.

I think I had a Sonic vanilla Diet Coke most every day of the week. Cannot get such a thing here, so better to indulge while you can!

After the nails, we had to go to Hobby Lobby for some unscented candles (for some reason I had only been able to find "cotton" scented ones in Wal-Mart ... and after a day in the un-airconditioned sanctuary, we knew we had to get something else for the memorial and unity candles) and floral tape/corsage making supplies. At about 3:30, Beth still needed to go with our mom to get ingredients for our Saturday lunch (they bought everything at Sam's, a discount warehouse, and Beth is the cardholder, so our mom couldn't do that errand without her). SO I dropped Beth at "Charlie's," where my mom was having her nails done, and again in hindsight where we should have had ours done (although I don't know about the pedicures there or that it would have been any better really). And I drove on back home.

Despite my desire for a shower (wow, the Oklahoma sun is brutal and the humidity obnoxious) and to see Owen, I went directly to the church, where I made the corsages (replacing the fake flowers from corsages I bought at Hobby Lobby on clearance) and boutonnières - no small feat with the 1" talons springing from my previously cropped fingers! (My advice - get your flowers from a florist. The expense is worth it and it will all look better too!) I worked as well as I could, and by 4:30 I was heading back to my house for a shower and straightening my hair. I forget how good a blowdry can make you feel (even if you do it yourself - there's something about long, swinging straight hair that I adore).

Throughout Thursday, many of our out-of-town guests started to arrive, and our rehearsal dinner started at 6. MOST of those at the dinner I knew were coming. There were a few I was expecting who didn't show up, which made my gift-giving awkward, and I don't know how to repair that embarrassment, although I hope it's only perceived on my part. (There were also some invited whom I knew wouldn't make it because of flight times). Shawn's parents' bought the dinner (KFC - one of Shawn's and my favorites, and a meal that reminds me of Grandpa Max, since we would stop there after a trip to town for groceries or to Gibson's, bring it home and eat it together at Gran's -- quite a treat!). I was much more nervous at the rehearsal than the actual wedding.

Ted Mercer, a friend of my father's from high school and the son of one of my grandma's dear friends, performed our ceremony and graciously came to our rehearsal dinner too. We ran through everything once. Karman, our flower girl and Shawn's second cousin, did a beautiful job rehearsing. Owen threw the ring bearer pillow and said he would not participate. I didn't know that the bride usually uses a stand in for the rehearsal, and so Shawn and I said our vows. My grandma and father both said they thought we were already married, as of 5/29. But whatever the case, we're hitched now. I was carrying my bouquet of bows -- from the gifts given to us at our shower in March. I had a new dress from Dressbarn (shocker?!) in black and white that probably looked better than my actual wedding gown...but more on that later. Our photographer was there and got some good shots. The wedding cake was delivered, and the photographer cornered me in the Sunday school room where it was being kept and told me too much about his own wedding, while keeping me from my guests. Dinner was fun, warm and just right.

At about 9 pm, Shawn and his friends left to go back to Lawton (for what they did, we'll have to wait until Shawn starts his own blog, so don't hold your breath!). Shawn's parents, my parents, Beth, Aunt Lee Ann, Owen and I went to the town pavilion (reception site) with our white twinkle lights and zip ties (thank you, Katherine for that wonderful suggestion. Without you we would have been using tape or something equally crazy). It took us about an hour or more to get the pavilion posts strung with lights. But it looked so beautiful when it was done. So we were home by about 10 pm. Gave Owen a bath, had a glass of wine and a TV show, took a shower myself and then hit the hay. I didn't really have trouble sleeping. My room is so dark and my bed so comfy, the AC so cool and whirring. And it was nice to be snuggled with my favorite sister and favorite nephew. So happy and full of anticipation, thinking I would know exactly how it would go. The thing I was most worried about was the set up -- the things I could not do on my own.

We hit the floor around 7:30 am the next day. Got dressed and headed to the pavilion to start our reception site decorations. My dad and Aunt Lee Ann had hauled the chairs and tables (from the school and church, respectively) to the site. My mom, Beth and I started wrapping the table tops in silver swirled wrapping paper. It looked good, but we were fighting the wind. Owen was up, playing at the playground that's adjacent to the pavilion. Beth and I worked until 9:30, then we had to head into Lawton for our hair appointment. My mom, dad and aunt stayed and finished up the decorations, including setting the tables in place, using the chairs as anchors on the tables to keep the paper from blowing off and hanging the Chinese paper lanterns from the ceiling.

Our 10 am appointment was on the other side of town. Beth got us there lickety split in her silver car. Charismon did an amazing job on both of us. Our photographer met us there, and stayed the entire hour it took her to do both our hair. I said it before, but she did such an amazing job and was so ... inexpensive! So I gave her a tip almost as big as what she charged - and I was still under budget for what we would spend on hair. Perfectly coifed, we sent the photog onto the hotel where Shawn and his best man could pretend to get ready. The photos are funny - they had some trouble with Shawn's tie. Free from our photographer, Beth and I stopped at Wayne's for lunch (chicken planks!) and filled up her tank before heading back to Indiahoma.

We checked the reception site - everything looked PERFECT. We printed the last of the programs and grabbed some things at Beth's apartment. My dad and his friend Benny were chilling the drinks, so everything was under control. Beth and I went to the church to put the ribbon on the cake and to finalize our bouquets with their ribbon and the floral tape. We also set up her camcorder to film the ceremony.

We ended up at Gran's house, where my dress and shoes were. Owen was napping (as I wished I could have!), and the photographer met us there. He took pictures of the dress, shoes and garter. He took some shots of the flowers and the locket from my namesake Marilyn Jean Russell that I had wrapped around the stems. Beth did her make up in the dining room (Gran has a big mirror in front of her buffet), and I did mine in the hot little back half-bath. It's grandpa's bathroom, so it was nice because of that too.

Shawn showed up at about 2:30 (I still wasn't dressed) because the church wasn't unlocked, and we were taking pictures at 3. I sent him and the photographer to find my mom and get set up. Aunt Lee Ann and Beth helped me into my dress. Owen had been dressed in his suit, and looked SO cute. Lee Ann tried to pin my corset to the dress so the top would stay up/aligned. She did her best, but it really wasn't working. I didn't realize just how bad it was until I saw the photos later. But nothing can be done about it now.

Gran, Aunt Lee Ann, Owen and I piled into Lee Ann's SUV and drove to the church. Beth came in her car. We went in the back, and I waited. The photog was set up, but I thought for sure I would get an entrance for my family. About 20 people were there - my family from out of town mostly. The flower girl was getting into her dress and having her hair put up into a bun. She loved the pink flowers, so I let her put one of those in her hair. I waited in the back/fellowship hall as long as I could. I asked for Shawn. He came back - but it wasn't ... I don't know. What I was expecting? (We didn't do the traditional "groom can't see the bride before the wedding" thing in favor of getting the staged photographs out of the way.) Then he left and I decided I might as well go up front and get some pics taken. We went through all that - staged photo after staged photo. And in EVERY SINGLE ONE my gown is too big at the top and my corset is visible. I know the dress couldn't have been permanently fixed, but for photos we could have pinned it in the back or something - and I am devastated that I didn't get any pictures without my underwear showing (unless the photo was of my back).

Once we got all the photos (nearly 2 hours later), I went to the Sunday school room with the cake, wrote a little in my journal and fought to keep Owen out of the room (he REALLY wanted a piece of cake). Then I went into the fellowship hall, where people were mingling -- there was no solace. Owen wanted some lemonade, so my cousin Micah and I made him some. Guests started arriving around 5:30. I gave bad directions to Megan on the phone because I forget exit numbers and get things confused. (Luckily she made it to the ceremony in time!)

At 5:50, Micah seats my Gran. TEN MINUTES early. (I found out later that some of my family wasn't seated in the front either... So lesson to brides - be uber specific about seating... I can't believe I wasn't!) Anyway, I was so agitated and upset about the early start. Not a great way to be right before you're about to go in front of everyone you love and be the center of attention. Shawn's mom and dad are then seated, and they light their side of the unity candle. So Shawn was waiting at the altar BEFORE 6 pm (the scheduled start time for the ceremony) and I'm fuming, not knowing what to do. But we troop out the door, meet several ON TIME guests who are now "late" because of our early start, and I set up to walk down the aisle.

Beth goes down without a hitch, and Karman follows, sprinkling white petals along the aisle. Owen is supposed to walk with her and drop petals too. But he takes one step into the church, looks at all the people, turns right around and steps out, lays flat on the door mat and says "I cannot do it." Beth comes back down the aisle and walks him up. He sits with Micah and Abby. It was a cute moment. I wish our photog had been there to capture it - but he was at the front of the church. Oh well.

My mom and dad walked me down the aisle (to Here Comes the Bride). It went pretty fast and I did my best to lock eyes with Shawn and move directly toward him. My parents dropped me at the aisle and lit our side of the unity candle. The ceremony was pretty short and sweet:

Processional
Greeting
Declaration of Intention to Marry
Response of Families (We do) and the People (We will)
Prayer
Scripture Reading (Romans 12:1-2 and 9-18; Proverbs 31:10-12)
Vows
Blessing and Exchange of Rings
Unity Candle (string quartet played "Sweet Sweet Spirit")
Declaration of Marriage
Dismissal and Benediction
Recessional

My favorite part was really the recessional. I loved walking down the aisle on Shawn's arm, with all of our friends and family clapping and smiling... and the music swelled - Star Trek: The Next Generation theme song. SO perfect. Unplanned, we stopped at the bottom of the steps to the church and had a reception line. It was nice to see everyone and get a hug - especially from those who didn't make it out to the pavilion. After about 20 minutes we went back into the church library and signed our marriage license. Then we gathered the bells, which had decorated the pews. Shawn's best man, Christopher, and his fiance Jennie helped put them in their respective bags (I had labeled a gift bag and placed one in each pew for giving purposes). With Beth's help they got the ones that needed to be given on Friday (i.e. the ones that wouldn't be around on Saturday) and transported them to the reception.

Aside: Beth had promised Owen she would open a Black & Decker tool bench that he had received if he would do his job as a ring bearer. So all week we talked about that tool bench and how he could play with it when the wedding was over. As SOON as he was out the door, he told his mom "I'm going home, let's go play with the tool bench." She took him for a bit, realized that the bench requires at least an hour of set up and talked him back to the wedding by mentioning the boogety man. EEEK!

I had asked my cousin Micah to be our ride to the reception. He has a new nice pick up. First, he drove down in his girlfriend's car (which I didn't know, and which wouldn't fit my balloon of a dress) and second, he forgot and left! My other cousin Matt was there, and Gran was also without a ride (I am a bad planner I guess!). So Matt had his dad drive him to Gran's and get her car for us, which we were going to take to our "honeymoon" anyway. We then drove to Gran's house, where she changed her top (which I helped her out of - it was some jacket/shell together thing that took us a good 5 minutes to wiggle her out of - quite a site with me in my white gown and only one shoe on!) and Shawn changed his shirt/removed his coat. I thought I would make it through the night in my heels (my dress' hem really needed them) but my Chuck Taylors beckoned and on they went. We headed to the reception, dropped Gran off and made our "grand" entrance to "At Last" by Etta James.

The food line had dwindled, so Shawn and the rest of the wedding party were able to eat. I was too nervous to eat, and I was worried about getting BBQ sauce on my dress. I had Beth pack me a box for later that night, which I ate lustily along with cupcakes. I was able to mingle and talk to most, if not all, of our guests. Owen and Karman were able to play in the park after they ate. Karman had changed from her dress -- in hindsight for pictures I would have rather she kept playing in it.

Shawn and I had our first dance, to "Ain't No Cure for Love" by Leonard Cohen. It was pretty sweet, although a long song. Next came the bride-father dance, then the groom-mother dance. Then they played "She's in Love with the Boy" which was a song Beth and I danced and danced to as kids - so we danced together for that. Then I danced with my father-in-law to ANOTHER long song, and I was so glad that I was wearing my Converse, even if the dress was dragging the ground. I also kept undoing the bustle - it was a flimsy little thread hooked over a button in the back, and I know I lost at least two buttons if not more because I would step on the back of my own dress. But there was always someone willing to hop up and reconnect it for me, but I definitely wasn't able to do the "cha cha slide" with all the bouncing and hopping. My dress couldn't take it.

Right before sunset, we were trying to get a photo of my mom, her sisters, Beth and my cousin -- all of the girls on that side of the family. As we were getting ready, here comes Owen, with a face and chest full of dirt. He learned first-hand about the rules of gravity and centrifugal force. His mouth was full of dirt and he was STUNNED, not crying, but the filthiest I've ever seen him (and I've seen him get pretty dirty in the old sand box). Beth washed him off as best she could and got him to rinse out his mouth. He had scraped a bit of his face, but he didn't mind. As soon as she let him go, he was racing back to the merry-go-round to play with the big boys (Shawn and his friends had gone to take pictures on it)... That kid shows no fear! (We got our girls picture - dancing to "Build me up Buttercup" - another request of mine for no reason other than I like it.)

Then right after sunset, when I could see that Owen was going to be asleep in just a few minutes, I asked the DJ to play our song, "Godspeed" and I grabbed Owen. Even though he said he didn't want to dance, he didn't fight when I picked him up and held him, swaying to the soft music and sweet voice of Natalie Maines. He'll never remember it, but it was something I wanted to do and something I will remember -- dancing with Owen on my wedding. Of course because of his layer of dirt, it's something my dress will probably never forget either. I couldn't help but pick him up and cuddle him -- he's just so sweet and cute -- so my dress was a soft brown at the top. I'm hoping the cleaners can get it out. We'll see.

As it got closer to 9:30, it was time for the bouquet toss and garter toss. I tossed my bouquet to "This One's For the Girls" and Beth caught it, and he tossed my garter to "Foxy Lady" and John, my friend Holly's BF, caught it. A few more songs, including "Celebration!" and some Michael Jackson (Megan's boyfriend Michael was making the party a LOT of fun with his dance moves, and he got so many people to join in...), then it was time for the last dance, which was to "New York, New York." Something that I hadn't expected but that worked out beautifully -- the DJ asked everyone to light their sparklers, and they all were around us in a circle, swinging their sparklers to the beat as we spun round and round laughing and smiling at it all. It was such a warm, happy memory, that doesn't seem to have been adequately captured on film, but probably because all my best photogs were in the moment with me, which made it even better!

Finally, a few more hugs and off to Gran's car, which Beth and Christopher had decorated with shoe polish. In trying to turn on the cruise control once on the highway, Shawn wiped some of it, and the black polish hadn't dried SOOO we were rolling with big streaks across the front. We pressed on. We drove to Medicine Park and stayed in a little cabin there, the "Bonnie and Clyde." It was cool and just right. It would have been fun to have stayed there longer and to have spent time in Medicine Park itself. But as it was, when we got up the next morning we had to head for the hills, the Wichita Mountains that is.

Our friends Kathy and Jack drove 12-person vans through the "back country" and our out-of-town guests and family got to see the refuge - including buffalo, lizards, long horn AND a flat tire. The two hour tour turned into almost 4, so by the time we got back to the church we were starving. Aunt Lee Ann cooked us up Indian Tacos, a really great treat for locals and out-of-towners alike. And once we'd gobbled all that up, we were finished with all the planned and scripted portions of the wedding weekend.

I went to watch Sex and the City with my family while Shawn went to dinner with his friends. Later we met up at a pool hall before going back to the cabin -- really late, so again didn't really enjoy it, since the next morning we got up and went to church in Indiahoma. Church was wonderful, and Shawn's mom, dad and Aunt Dawn left after church. (His sister-in-law, Aunt Diannia and Karman had left for the OKC airport VERY early Sunday morning) Our friends Kelly and Annie, from Danville, were also at church, as was my family. We had left over fried chicken and pork chops with roasted apples for lunch, then had some time outside with the water toy that Beemer and John brought Owen. Lee Ann and Roy left, Shawn and I took looooong naps, we went for a tour of the Winery of the Wichitas with Beemer and John (while my dad put together Owen's tool bench, with Owen's assistance), then it was do some laundry, eat some dinner and hit the hay. The next morning, up and at 'em, packed up and took off. We went to the Lawton court house and filed our marriage license (it's legal!) and then onto the airport, for an ontime departure and safe return to NYC, where a short cab ride (no taxi line to speak of) got us to our cozy little apartment that's now officially OUR home.

I don't know if EVERYONE had a good time, but I suspect at least some of it was fun for everyone. And it was INCREDIBLE for Shawn and me. We are so blessed by family and friends, near and far, who love us so and allow us to love them. And now we have each other. And for that I am so grateful.

~Mari Walker. :)

07 June 2008

Recently Read Books

Tama Janowitz's Slaves of New York and A Certain Age

Slaves of New York was written in the early 80s, when I was still learning to talk and being a little kid. BUT it still captured my interest, because although the popular culture references were a little obscure to me, I still "got" the book. She also seemed to be writing about the same city I'm experiencing now, although in a much different spectrum (single and making it on your own in the art world, while I'm married with a cushy life steeped in academia). The title refers to women who get into relationships with men in New York and lose their choice to leave, on almost purely economic reasons. Because to leave would mean leaving New York, which the author seems to purport would never be a realistic choice. The book is a series of short stories, and I didn't pay enough attention/catch on until mid-way through that the characters were all related, and sometimes the same main character (whose name I don't think was divulged) was the narrator of several of the stories. I read it pretty quickly, but it was the book I started as a single girl and finished as a married woman.

Same author, different set up, published in 1999, the year I graduated high school. It's a novel, and it's basically a trashy, unsuccessful attempt to rewrite The House of Mirth for the end of the 20th Century - and even goes so far as to name check Edith Wharton twice! The entire time I was reading I kept saying to Shawn "this is the worst book I've ever read." But still I plowed on, reading every other word or something until I could close it and move on. I don't recommend it to anyone, and am stupid for having carted it to Oklahoma and back, thinking that I'd read it while there. Glad I didn't. You shouldn't either.

Rapture by Susan Minot

This is a pretty sexy book - basically a novel about two people in bed, engaged in an amorous act, and it flips perspectives to re-live their romance (or lack-thereof) throughout the encounter. It is well written, entertaining and short. A slim book that I read in just an afternoon at a coffee shop. I will definitely look into more of her books.

A couple quotes I wrote down:

"Unless you were high up in a building or happened to glimpse it at the end of one of the big avenues going east-west, all you knew of the sunset was a darketning in the air. No wonder people in New York were so unbalanced. They were totally untouched by the rhythms of nature. You were only aware of nature when something extreme happened, like a snowstorm or heatwave."

and

"...boy poison--a boy's kisses were like a poison, which infected you and after you were exposed you craved more, like an addict."

So I have been reading. A little voraciously. My cousin is moving and let me rifle her bookshelves (these three books are library check outs). I am happy.

04 June 2008

The Stuff that Made Me a New Mrs.

I want to soak it all in and write it all down. Last week was fabulous. From the bachelorette party in OKC to the filing of the marriage license and drive to the airport for our flight home...

First, the background...the stuff. I may put the summary of the entire experience in a separate post. We'll see how far I get on this one. Some of the experience details are creeping into this though!

The preparations were detailed, intricate and time consuming. I crocheted 40 bells, each about 6" tall with 3" circumferences at the bottom. They were created in pairs, and my Gran starched every single one, making perfect pew decorations for the church when tied together with ribbon, which I bought online -- it was customized and had our names and wedding date. These bells made perfect thank you gifts for the many people who helped make our wedding possible and who traveled so far to be a part of it! The bells were attached to the pews with fishing line and each had a silver/white bow, which were clearance items after Christmas, and the two front "family" rows were given to me for Christmas by my Aunt Lee Ann.

I ordered my dress online (onsalebridal.com), a white V-neck number with a medium-length train and buttons down the back (only for show - the dress has a zipper). I bought my shoes online - Target ($8!) - and had a secondary pair that were strappy, purple and FABULOUS from Nordstrom online, but I just couldn't get away with it...hurt my feet too much! I crocheted my own garter - with a purple ribbon to keep it on my leg, unfortunately it did not stay up, so I ended up leaving it off for most of the evening - at least it didn't get sweaty! AH! My jewelry was ordered online, although I borrowed the bigger earrings I wore from my mom.

I ordered our flowers online (fiftyflowers.com) - purple hydrangeas (which they were out of, so they sent purple DYED hydrangeas - what a mess, but they look great in the photos!), white roses (these were fine) and purple roses (they screwed up on this, and sent pink roses...but they did refund my money so I got free pink roses, which were beautiful and the flower girl really loved). Beth and I carried hand tied hydrangeas - with purple ribbon that matched what we wrapped around the cake. I also wrapped a locket from my namesake, Marilyn Jean Russell, around my bouquet's stems.

Shawn's suit came "from New York" - which was his cute answer when someone asked. (Actually from Men's Wearhouse - much like Charlie Sheen - *shudder*) It's Italian wool, super fine, black and tailored especially to him. He wore a French cuffed shirt with cufflinks that matched his tie PERFECTLY. We bought his tie, the best man's tie and our dad's ties at TJ Maxx. Shawn will get a LOT of use out of this suit, and he looked so handsome.

Our photographer - John LeVan of Futuremod photography - was with us at the rehearsal and all day on the wedding (from hair dresser to last dance). I found him through Google searches. He had just what I was looking for - would give me the digital photos to use as I wish and would snap all day for a flat fee. He turned out to actually work for Lawton Public Schools - and so Beth had met him and recommended I look into hiring him after I'd already hired him! I've seen the photos and they seem to have turned out really well - although It's going to take some creative cropping and adjusting to keep our album from feeling like a tilt-a-whirl. Many of the photos have "artistic" angles. But overall, I'm very pleased with the quality of his work, and just how nice he was.

Beth and I had our hair done at Colour FX in Lawton. Charismon did our hair - and it looked GORGEOUS! She did each in 30 minutes, so we were out of there in an hour, much less time than we expected, and for MUCH less money than I had been expecting. She did such a fabulous job that I gave her a generous tip, and I'm going to try to figure out The Knot.com enough to give her a high rating.

The flower girl basked was a metal scroll design, which I accentuated with our custom ribbons tied in bows. She dropped petals (ordered online) of white faux roses. Beth made the ring bearer pillow with black satin, purple ribbon and white lace. It looked awesome!

I had faux white hydrangeas and purple roses (ordered online at efavormart.com) in the church's stage - there's a divider for the choir that has flowers in it, so with the church's existing greenery I punched it up with the flowers. It looked really good!

The unity candles were from Hobby Lobby (unscented is KEY!) and the stands were from some Christmas clearance shopping. (The silver, tall one a present from my mom.) I bought the guest book and guest pen (white with black scroll work/leaf work) online. The bride and groom bear (whose favorite song is "Strangers in the Night" - just ask Owen) were a gift from a sweet coworker.

The memorial candles (for our grandparents and Shawn's brother) were also from Hobby Lobby, and they were placed in hurricane vases that I borrowed from my cousin LaRae and her daughter Kelli, who got married last January. They looked really nice and were on the altar, which had been moved to a corner at an angle. I was so happy with the way the church looked.

We also had a string quartet, a gift from my mom, which did a good job. They played for 30 minutes as guests were being seated, then the intro songs and "Sweet Sweet Spirit" for the lighting of the unity candle (awkward pause came free of charge). We exited to the Next Generation theme, which was so amazing and perfect. I can't stop smiling just thinking about it...

Our favors were sparklers, personalized match books and envelopes of tea - all ordered online. We customized cards for the sparklers (Thanks for making our night sparkle. Please light your sparklers when directed at the end of the night for Mari & Shawn's exit.) and the envelopes for the tea (Enjoy this Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. from Mari & Shawn, a Perfect Blend). I also had 15 disposable cameras - so people were taking photos with those, and then they were left with my mom who will have them developed. Should be so fun to see all the candids!

We had a cake baked by a friend, which was gorgeous and wrapped in purple ribbon between each layer - it looked so classy and modern. LOVED it. And we had a white bride and groom sculptural type thing for the top - also ordered online. We had a Star Trek ship (Next Generation, to jive with the tea) for the top of Shawn's tower of cupcakes (in lieu of a groom's cake). I broke it in transit, but I held it above the tower for photos and it looked really cute. The tower and ship were ordered online - both can have uses in the future. (The ship can be fixed with a bit of super glue, but I didn't realize it was broken until trying to put it on top of the tower!)

The cake table was also decorated with photos of our family members' weddings: our grandparents', parents' and Shawn's brother's. I bought black frames from Target (also clearance!) - and then was able to gift the frames to those who loaned me photos. I have several smaller frames left over, perfect for wedding prints, perhaps!

Our caterers were the Branding Iron BBQ. We ordered WAY too much food - probably 25% too much. But they brought everything and carted it all away, so it wasn't too bad. They left rather abruptly, so some people didn't get to eat as much as they would have liked. But everyone raved about the food and said it was tasty! (I had a box packed up that I ate later that night, and it was pretty darn good!)

Unlimited Dance Productions spun the music for us. It was SO reasonable, and Mr. Lyon did such a good job (only slip up was that it's Dr. and Mrs. Walker - haha!). Funny because he was also the DJ at my prom. I would highly recommend him, and he played the songs I requested plus a few others some good (Cha Cha Slide) and some not (Apple Bottom Jeans???). We had a pretty full dance floor and everyone had a good time.

I had specific songs for
  • entrance (At Last - Etta James),
  • first dance (Ain't No Cure for Love - Leonard Cohen),
  • Father-Daughter dance (Does That Wind Still Blow in Oklahoma?),
  • Mother-Son dance (Que Sera - Doris Day),
  • sister dance (She's in Love with the Boy - Trisha Yearwood),
  • Owen dance (Godspeed - Dixie Chicks),
  • cake cutting (Love You Madly - Cake),
  • bouquet toss (This One's for the Girls - Martina McBride) and
  • garter toss (Foxy Lady - Jimi Hendrix).
For the reception decor, I bought white twinkle lights on clearance after Christmas (NOT online!) - and my parents, Shawn's parents, Aunt Lee Ann, Beth and I wrapped all the polls in the lights on Thursday evening after the rehearsal. The rest of the decorating had to happen on Friday: Chinese paper round lanterns/globes (ordered online) assembled, hung and lit, tables wrapped with silver Christmas clearance wrapping paper and tied as packages with black and purple tulle (ordered online), silver chargers and place mats from Christmas clearance with purple potted plants (both the pot and flowers were purple) sitting on each table. Looked SO good, both at sunset and when it was dark.

We had napkins and cake plates ordered online - napkins and plates in the black and white swirl and purple, customized napkins with our names and wedding date. SO CUTE! We didn't use the square black plates or the cups I bought for the dinner from Sam's, so I can get my money back for that. We did use the ordered-online plastic flutes for the toast (which was sparkling apple cider). I was only chided once for not having liquor - we did have beer, and most of it was not drunk that night.

Another gift from a different coworker were the engraved monogrammed toasting glasses. MWS. We toasted to our future and happiness with them, and I'll look forward to using them many times on romantic dinners in.

I did my own stationery - from the save the dates featuring an engagement photo to the programs at the church. All the paper came from mountaincow.com, and the invites were black ink on white cards layered over a bigger black card, mailed in purple envelopes with white postcards for RSVPs. The programs were on 4x8 paper, double sided. I used the same flourish throughout and used the same fonts - Honeyscript and Echelon (both free). For our monogram on the program, I used New Yorker Engraved. I used the same design/fonts for the favor cards and envelopes. I did buy my thank you notes - cream colored with purple foil Thank You in a script font with deckled edges on the cards and envelope flap. SO cute. I have plenty left over and they aren't SO wedding-y that I can't keep using them. (So that's one thing)

I bought some wedding day crayon kits for the kids, and then only two showed up (my ring bearer and flower girl). I also bought purple glow-in-the-dark necklaces for the kids (and adults) to wear in the dark - but we forgot to get them out. Blurgh! I guess a minor detail. Both those things came from Oriental Trader.com. Maybe the necklaces can be used at Fourth of July (along with the left over sparklers!).

Along with the bells, I gave gifts to the people who helped with the wedding and were a part of it somehow:
  • My mom - a purple amethyst necklace
  • Shawn's mom - a purple "MOM" necklace with a poem
  • Beth - diamond earrings
  • Chris - an engraved/monogrammed flask
  • Karman - an engraved bracelet
  • Kaypeus (Karman's sister who didn't attend) - an engraved compact mirror
  • Owen - an engraved silver train bank
  • My dad and Shawn's dad - leather wallets with their initials embossed
  • Our grandmas and aunts - purple pashminas
  • Jenni (Chris' girlfriend) and Sheryl/John (my aunt and uncle from California) - Oklahoma bags with Oklahoma wine, a corkscrew and BBQ sauce
  • Matt and Micah, my cousin ushers - engraved keychains
I loved picking out the presents. My tip for getting personalized things is to look for shops that aren't "BRIDAL" - almost all these gifts were bought online, and engravingshop.com was much better than anything geared toward brides, and I am very pleased with the quality that I got.

It was a LOT of work, and I'm sure I'm not remembering every detail. My next task will be to write up the day, what I felt, thought and did. But this is a good start!

~Mari.

PS The photog has posted our photos - email me for a link, but I'll post a link to my Flickr album once I get it together. :)