Once again deviating from the theme of O.C.T.O.B.E.R., I of course will blog in “real time” on today, since it was a big event in my life and the family’s dynamic. Unlike some previous posts where I transcribe from my journal, this time it’s just the keyboard and me. No notes, no previous writing. (I should have the events of the day written down on paper, but because my handwritten journal was behind, I will transcribe in REVERSE.)
Sorry, there are no pictures on this original account. I don’t have a usable camera, and I forbade myself from using my cell phone until after the reception!
Sunday, October 12, 2014
It was not a restful sleep, and strangely enough, it was not of my own mental status. Rather, both Dad and Levi were feeling a tad under the weather last night. Levi had come into the room at 00:30 and disrupted my sleep by getting into bed, and later, he got up in the middle of the night feeling nauseated (similar to what happened to me after Ilana and Jared’s wedding). Therefore, at 06:40, when Mom got up in order to prepare for the day, I got up as well.
As I did yesterday, I shuffled into the window alcove of the room, and attempted to journal in it, sans much light from the pre-dawn skies. Needless to say, this was not very effective, and even after Levi and Dad got up, I was distracted from journaling. I love to do the full paragraphs, but it is quite ironic that I do this on big vacation days, as I am often so busy that I will develop the deficit! Both Dad and Levi claimed to be feeling better as they woke up.
Dad wanted to walk over to campus, but not as a Party Pooper this time. Descending the elevator from Level 10 to Level L(obby), we walked through the lobby of the hotel, into the Yates Convention Center, past the green railings, and around to the Camp Creek room. Grabbing some chips and a Coke, we then exited The Cornhusker hotel and walked briskly along 13th Street, northbound.
Along the way, Dad recalled his own wedding day at this hotel, 29 years ago. He had a freak-out moment after the brunch (details spared for this account), but after leaving the hotel, running with (my Uncle) Howard, and returning, he had calmed down. He explained that exercise and Coca-Cola (maybe not simultaneously!) tend to calm his nerves. Indeed, the former can be helpful, although for me, it is hard to do exercise at night, which is most frequently when I tend to freak out and suffer stomachaches exacerbated by the mind.
Within seven minutes, we had gotten to the University of Nebraska campus, and were seeking out the סוכה (sukkah) that UNL Hillel had built. Our first point to seek it out was just north of Union Square, along the sidewalk that turns into 14th Street. There was nothing there! The campus was a ghost town this morning, as we also checked near the Culture Center (nope!), Seaton Hall (nyet!), Kauffman front lawn (uh-uh!), and center of campus (fail!) As the lattermost approached, while we were walking near MORR 141, Dad picked up a few twigs. Just south of the Echoing Walls, we stopped, and he had us both hold the twigs over our heads, and cover our heads with the other hand. He said, “This is the world’s worst sukkah!” and we proceeded to recite שהחינו (Shehechiyanu: the blessing over “newness.”) We would later find out that the סוכה had not yet been built on campus. D’oh!
It was 08:38, as we returned to The Cornhusker, walking along the west side of 13th Street. There were quite a few transient people lined up along the Douglas building, which we were able to ignore. After out of earshot, we discussed how panhandlers have appeared more frequently in Lincoln, and it recalled a conversation yesterday about how committing the 7th degree of צדקה (tzedakah), i.e. donating to a charity where the giver doesn’t know the recipient, and the recipient doesn’t know the giver, is a better idea than “enabling” bad habits.
Once back at The Cornhusker, Dad and I headed upstairs. Some other people were in the elevator, and an “elevator speech” happened with respect to favorite numbers—one of the passengers mentioned her favorite number was 6 (the floor another passenger was on). You just never know what impetus will start a conversation, or how my unusual small talk can happen! Dad and I quickly shifted accoutrements from knockaround clothes to our suits for the wedding, but even so, went to Bad Time—it was 09:07 as we left the room, and we were supposed to be in the Lobby at 09:00.
Luckily, we missed nothing in terms of photo opportunities. And indeed, the next hour and a half was photos, photos, and more photos. Of bridesmaids, groomsmen, various combinations of family members and wedding party people. None of these photos included both Molly and Brandon—they were barred from seeing each other until the ceremony. And indeed, although “everyone” else was allowed to see both, Levi and I got to be the “Thou Shalt Not Pass!” between the Staircase and the Convention Center.
During one break in my part of the photo ops, Dad said that all of us (i.e. Levi, himself, and me) should stay put. But he took a few steps, so I decided to “Left-Right-Left-Right” him by saying “Fail” at every step. Shortly thereafter, though, when it was clear that my role in photos was completed, I had to use the restroom. So, I decided to “Failfailfailfailfailfailfailfailfail…” all the way to the restroom in the convention center. (And yes, I was in my suit, and no, there were no people questioning my sanity along the way.) Needless to say, by the time that I reached the restroom, the word “fail” had lost its meaning, much like the word “great” from a few years ago…
Afterward, I took one step out of the men’s room, sang “Ooohhhh…” and continued the “Failfailfailfailfailfail” to my steps in returning to the hotel lobby. By the time that I had returned to the lobby, not only had “fail” lost its meaning, but it Backfired on me—I couldn’t stop laughing! And then trying to explain myself had me losing The Game every time I tried to catch my breath!
So, I was then directed, along with Levi, to the Grand Ballroom. The ballroom was nicely decorated, with round tables along either side of the white-carpeted walk for the ceremony. The centerpieces included “trees” that were branched with leaves, flowers, and candles. Some had flowers in the center, and the tables were nicely set. In the back of the large room, a חופה (wedding canopy) was in the center, on the dance floor, and “stadium style seating” was to the left, right, and rear of the חופה. Levi and I got to usher people in.
The seating arrangements for the ceremony went like this: “You may sit wherever you like, excluding the ribboned row on the right.” That reserved row was for the grandparents and ushers. (The active participants in the ceremony all stood the whole time.) I also cracked the joke, based off the open seating, “Welcome aboard Southwest Airlines flight BMNCL.” I got to seat family, friends, and tried to encourage intermingling, as there were no designated sides for the bride and groom side. The hotel staff were serving some sort of alcoholic orange juice drinks prior to the ceremony—I naturally passed.
At 11:06 (whoops, a few minutes late :p), the wedding ceremony started. The processional music was quite non-traditional, and none of it I recognized. (It was provided by a disc jockey, instead of a live band). The bridesmaids and groomsmen entered, one-by-one, after Levi and I had escorted Brandon’s grandfather into the seating area along the aisle. (The grandparents on the Weiss-Pitlor side were unable to do the walk.) Once Molly entered, I then could not see a thing, as my seat as an usher was in view of a pole of the סוכה, as well as the backs of Mom and Dad, shielding my view of Molly and Brandon. Ha, the ushers got the worst seats in the house! :p
The ceremony was officiated by the president of the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. Therefore, Molly’s and Brandon’s love of animals, adventure, and the outdoors held a prominent place in the speaking during the ceremony. I could not see their reactions, nor much of anything from my vantage point. I will obviously not retell the whole story here, as it is not really MY story! However, I agree with the claim that they complement and get each other. Some of the stories I had not heard before, given that their relationship started after I had moved to Chicago.
The ceremony included some Jewish aspects (e.g. the breaking of the glass and the חופה, and citation of Scripture (he read from Genesis 1) ) and some other traditions of which I have no idea of their origin (e.g. tying the knots (literally), vow- and ring-exchanging). It was pretty quick, and I think it amazing how there is always so much preparation for the wedding day, yet the ceremony itself is so brief in comparison! This account also in some sense perpetuates that brevity!
Following the recessional, some additional photos involving the full family (Pitlor side) were taken, in the sense of this also being a family reunion of sorts! After some of these, I returned to the ballroom with Levi, and started mingling with the guests. The bridesmaids and groomsmen, as well as Brandon and Molly, had gone to the Haymarket for additional pictures. I got to talk with Dr. Gay, updating him on my progress with research, the good news about my funding, and other things related to how I can finish my degree and start to advance my career. I won’t elucidate further on this, but it is all necessary, despite being intimidating.
A whole host of random conversations followed, given that this seems to be one of the ideas of weddings when I see them—sequences of brief conversations. They are enjoyable, but sometimes have an aura of a mixer about them as I see it. Then again, the whole experience was surreal to me, as I am still in disbelief that one of my younger siblings is already married! I am very excited for them, and realize that it is not an indictment on me at all. Love will find me when it does, but for now, I am content with stable platonic friendships.
Fast forwarding a little bit to when brunch started, the line included a lot of items—bagels and smoked salmon, fruit, waffles, corned beef hash, potatoes O’Brien, and much else. I got a little bit of everything from the main line, and considered going back for a second round with the omelette bar. That did not happen, as the first plate was plenty-filling. Social mores were part of the conversation, with regards to the “order of ceremony” (or some similar construct). Even though I do not always follow convention well, there are times where it is necessary.
As I finished the brunch, toasts started. Mom and Dad both addressed Molly and Brandon, and they were heartfelt and honest. The stories included their first dates, “The Boy,” and several other things, such as a quote from The Wedding Planner. And Mom’s voice never seemed to crack with emotion, but I was too far away to see specific details of that. Ha!
I loved Casey’s speech, by using the motif of bicycles and song references. In fact, Levi and I had a secret part in the speech: after Casey mentioned “Obla-Di-Obla-Da,” she mentioned something about Bohemian Rhapsody, and on cue:
NOAH rises: “I SEE A LITTLE SILHOUETTE OF A MAN…”
LEVI rises: “SCARAMOUCHE! SCARAMOUCHE! WILL YOU DO THE FANDANGO…”
BOTH: “THUNDERBOLTS OF LIGHTNING, VERY-VERY FRIGHTENING, ME!”
(Both are seated.)
Yep, that made it fun, and I’m glad that we managed to have a role somehow. After a few more speeches and toasts, the music started with the First Dance. Evidently, there seemed to be a problem with them playing the wrong song (Sloop John B.?), but the dance followed through anyway. Following that was the cutting of the cakes, tossing of the garter and bouquet, and then הבה נגילה (Hava Nagila). The chair-raising was a little awkward, as most of the chair-raisers had never attended a Jewish wedding before, such that the custom was difficult to work with on the fly.
After that, some line dances continued the music, but a large amount of attrition had already happened. These songs did not appeal to me, so I retreated from the dance floor, and conversed with various people. These included Charlie and Nancy (from the synagogue), Vitaly (in a conversation about math and my future), Carli (our family’s babysitter back from Fort Dodge), and many others.
To make a long story short, the reception fizzled pretty quickly. The dance floor never got very happening, though it was a spectacle when Levi took the floor for a swing song with Mom and Casey, and later the DJ and Mom danced. Part of the problem that I saw: the חופה was in the way. The young kids were enjoying the music, which is nice, but I usually find it hard to dance to canned material. Just my opinion.
As the party wound down, I helped to tear decorations down and pack the cars. Although there is more to the day, for the purposes of the blog, this is a good stopping point. It’s probably dragged on long enough already!
Today is the two-hundred and eighty-fifth day of M.M.X.I.V. That makes forty weeks and five days.
Today is the ninetieth day of the Character Building Trial. That makes twelve weeks and six days.
Today is the twelfth day of the third round of O.C.T.O.B.E.R. That makes one week and five days.