Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Our Big Event (part II)

The ceremony got started at 4 - Bonnie & I walked down from the hostel house, about 40 steps to the spot on the grass, all eyes on us. I had mixed feelings about planning for the ceremony. I mean, the original reason for arranging the event the way we did was to stay away from a typical 'ritual'. Had many discussions about this with friends and advisers - someone said, 'ritual is very important', another person said 'don't skimp on the ceremony, that's why people are there.' Well, I disagreed - they were there for the community, they were there for the whole day, they were there to talk to us. Certainly, we cut out or changed a lot of the common elements, kept it secular, kept it short, and personal, and focused on egalitarianism. We greeted our parents, did our own vows, and did an exchange of art rather than rings. More details on our blog, but it had much more emotional impact than I expected.
After the last part of the ceremony, Charles did his presentation, we walked off, over to the reception area. Which was about 50 feet away, where the tables were set up. So, in the humorous moment of the day - we were standing around off to the side, people were still watching us, then Nicole stood up and declared, "It's the Great Chair Migration. Please pick up your chair, and help your neighbor, and let's move over to the reception area." Then everyone made their journey over to the tables - Bonnie compared it to a "Wagons West!" pilgrimage...
The rest of the day was a social blur. Just greeting guests who came up to us (we were standing by our 'master' table, next to the food line.) After a few minutes, the food seemed to be ready, but no one was eating - apparently, they were waiting for us to start, to which I said (paraphrasing), 'Hogwash! Everyone get in line and get food!" After a bit of mingling, once the bulk of people were back in their seats. Then we did toasts/speeches.
Bonnie and I started, welcoming and thanking everyone, saying a few things (think I was kind of toasty myself by then, if ya know what I'm saying). By the way, if anyone out there has video of the ceremony or the toasts, please let us know, we'd love to get a copy! We introduced Bonnie's mom Annie, and my dad Arnold, who shared their lovely and stirring sentiments. Bonnies longtime friend Andrea stood and gave her comments, about the strengths Bonnie & I share, and compliment each other with, and I was very touched.
We went back to mingling some more - sat with some ex-co-worker friends, and some of Bonnie's family, and some of my Michigan friends, and some of the bus stoppers. And watching Bonnie woprk the social magic from across many tables, and catching glances with her, very sweet. No one started clanking their forks and glasses, thankfully :> .
Nicole made a speech, which I was very touched and inspired by as well - about how our friendship has grown into familiness, and the rousing and educational discussions we've had, 'on politics, and history, and the Church of Satan." That caused a bit of a hubbub, but, in a fun way... Bonnie pointed out my mother, who stood up, and I started telling her she didn't need to make a speech (which I knew she didn't want to do). Apparently (and Bonnie didn't point this out to me til later) some folks thought I was just telling her to sit down & be quiet, which wasn't my intent (at least, only sarcastically it was...). So, sorry if people got the wrong impression :P.
The day started to wind down, people departing as the sun went down. Bonnie & I never even had dinner (Ed & Nina made a point to sit us down to grab a bite, thx!). My parents & brother Greg and family were flying out that night, so by 8 they loaded up into the car and out to SFO. Brief time, but great to have them out! An impromptu baseball game broke out, with a ratty old tennis ball (probably a retired dog chew-toy) and a couple big sticks... Some famous portrait photographer showed up - Scott knew him through his own photo work and exhibits at the Walker in Minneapolis, and was taking pics of the kids in their finery (with parents permission o'course).
We got folks to help haul stuff up to the house (thanks immeasurably to our helpers!), then setup in the house. Putting out some of the remainder of food, snacks, and beer and wine; cranking out our dance tunes playlist (thanks Kody!); and hanging out chatting. About 20 people were staying in the hostel rooms, some of them slipped to bed as the night wore on (the bus stoppers scuttled their plans to camp down the road, and just threw their sleeping bags on the porch), Pete showed up late, after his gig, yay! I was up till the small hours, cleaning up a bit then discovering that raccoons had tore into our trash on the back porch. In fact, there they still were, with their beady glowy eyes and weird human-like paws! So, I was frustrated and worn out after cleaning that up, went to bed.
To Be continued - Sunday brunch, cleaning up, and wrapping up the visiting.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Our Big Event!

Well, it's been a couple of weeks since the Big Event. still a lot of glow from it. The biggest thing, of course, was seeing all the family & friends together in one place. But the whole day worked out so well - weather, setup in the morning, moving smoothly to each stage, ceremony, dinner, dancing. And the whole week - with my family in town & Bonnie's family in town. Here's how the week went :
Thursday - organizing last minute, running errands. Andy & Becki & Maggie came over in the evening, went to Shen Hua & walked over to Telegraph and Amoeba, then back for some musical exchange with me & Andy.
Friday - Met up with my family at their breakfast grotto at the hotel in Marin (Greg & family (Vicki, Elise, Sterling), and my parents, and my sister Rebecca & Rob). I had a rapid-fire itinerary for a driving tour of San Francisco w/ a few stops, which everyone seemed on board for, so we were off (in 2 cars, I was with Rob & Becca). We got through a few stops - GG Bridge, Presidio, Great Hwy/Ocean Beach, GG Park (w/ Bison), Haight Ashbury, Twin Peaks. Then we took a trip to visit my sister's former workplace in Diamond Hgts, and the group decided to go for Chinese food, which was the day's undoing. Ordering for that many people & kids is a debacle, with an orgy of food & long wait times. Then a few people were tired/cranky & a trip back to the hotel took up the rest of the day. Lunch I can deal with, ( I was thinking of stopping for lunch at our next stop, Pier 39), but this just derailed us & we missed out on seeing : Castro, Chinatown, Marina, Fisherman's Wharf, North Beach, Embarcadero, downtown, Bay Bridge, Treasure Island... Becca & Rob and I ended up going back to East Bay, via downtown/Market St, which was a spectacle of seething humanity to behold (worthy of being its own tourist attraction). We hit some of Berkeley (Sho Chiku Bai!) & went to Lake Merritt, then headed back. Friday night was our planned BBQ w/ our immediate families. But we showed up inconveniently early - Bonnie & crew were still hard at work in the kitchen...
So, when Greg & crew showed up, we had to scoot. Which was fine, my mom wanted to see the East Bay Vivarium, so we had a good time checking out the place (even ran into Chere in the parking lot!) By the time we got back, brother Gordon & family were there, and the festivities were underway. Gave a speech welcoming everyone, then explained the lay of the land & what to expect at the event.
Saturday was an early start. Nicole went to pick up the cake & Susan from the airport, Bonnie & I stopped at Costco on the way over, Tracey was holding down the fort & waiting to help load up our friends w/pickup trucks who were coming by. The next batch of time went smoothly - getting there, getting in to the hostel, unloading rentals. Casual lunch started around 1, it was a good thing we had people come early - a few got lost (though the didn't mind the scenic route). If they were targeting getting there at 4, they woulda missed. Saturday day was great - so many people huggin together, friends I hadn't seen in a long while, Bonnie's fami I'd met only once or a few times.
Got ready for the pictures at 3 - Bonnie looked so great in her dress, I felt rather dapper too. We ran through the family pics - 15 groups/poses, all outdoors, then we stll had half-hour til the ceremony.
(to be continued)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Happy Birthday America

Friday was 4th of July, and, really, who doesn't like to watch explosions? We just used it as an excuse to go out for a night walk, we made our way down to the Emeryville Marina - about 2 mile walk, not as far as the Berkeley marina (where they were having a summerfest, which we went to last year with my brother Greg and family). It was so foggy, we could barely see some of the glow from the San Fran show, and just few lit-up clouds North in Berkeley. Not a disappointment, as I said, it was a reason to get out. On the way back, there seemed to be a whole lot of fireworks displays going on in weird areas in Berkeley and Oakland. Well, at least there were no reports about fires, and it is pretty extreme fire season here...
So, in the last couple days before the big event. I'm sure I'll write up a more in-depth exploration of my thoughts & experience. But it's most exciting to think of the array of people who'll be there from all walks of our life.
Movies & music quikpiks - the new Coldplay album (produced by Brian Eno) is really good, Wall-E was excellent & quite adventurous for the level of family movie it was conveying.