In 2006, I started writing a series of My, What A Busy Week! posts that cover goings-on in my life during the last full Monday-through-Saturday in August of each year. There's nothing special about that time period; I chose it arbitrarily the first time, and it stuck. But I started grad school in 2008, and in that year and every year since, My, What A Busy Week! Week has coincided with new student orientation week in my graduate program. When I wrote up last year's entry, it occurred to me that my audience might be getting a little weary of reading about orientation week for the third year in a row, and that they'd be even wearier of it in the years to come ("she's still in grad school?"), but I supposed that there was nothing to be done about it: the tradition had been established, it was too late to change the week, and things would keep on in the same fashion until I either graduated or gave up. I'm pleased to report that I was wrong, because this year, I skipped out on orientation week in order to do something else. Herewith:
Monday: I need to find a dry cleaner within walking distance that I can trust with, oh, say, a slightly dirty and wrinkled wedding dress, but whenever I see one that seems to have a lot of positive reviews online, there are always one or two horrifically negative reviews to scare me away. Eventually, I pick a place, gather up the dress and my courage1, move to leave the apartment -- and then chicken out and collapse on the couch in tears. I'm a mess. Alex snuggles me, tells me that it will be okay, assures me that he will drive me to the very best dry cleaning place tomorrow, when we have a rental car, and walks with me to the coffee shop where we can hole up and work on our vows. By the end of the day, we've made a lot of progress, and I'm feeling better.
Tuesday: Having acquired said car, we drive around for most of the day taking care of dry cleaning and a litany of other errands. Meanwhile, my parents are flying across the country, and in the evening we walk to the Caltrain station to meet their train from SFO. At 6:50, the train pulls in. At 6:51, the train pulls out. At 6:52, the people filter off the platform, and there's no sign of my parents. Oh, no -- they missed their stop! One urgent phone call later, it's back to the car to collect them at the next stop in Sunnyvale and head back to Mountain View together. No great harm done, and finally, with their luggage deposited at the hotel across the street from our place, we all go to dinner at La Bamba -- as much a recurring theme of our last week in town as it was of my whole summer at Mozilla. Five days later, choking down an unappealing airport burrito during our layover in Denver and remembering the story one of my intern colleagues told of the time he flew out to the Bay from Pittsburgh to interview with a company he had no actual interest in working for solely so that he would have an excuse to eat at La Bamba, I will know what it means to deeply appreciate, and fiercely miss, proper west-coast taqueria food.
Wednesday: We head up to the city to go on a day-long series of bus tours of San Francisco and Muir Woods with my parents, Alex's mom and stepdad, and a decent chunk of his mom's family, including his grandfather Stan. I ordinarily wouldn't have chosen to see the city in that way, but the tour actually turns out to be pretty cool; we see some great views from Twin Peaks, and there are plenty of breaks to walk around, including an hour in the woods. Our tour guide is amazing -- he just talks about assorted random topics, like incongruities he's noticed between movie posters and actual movies; it's like if Rob poodleface were a tour guide. Alex sits next to me, shaking with suppressed laughter. The woods are amazing, too; a living cathedral. In the evening, we pick up my sister Maya from the San José airport2, and she asks if we know the way, prompting both of my parents to start singing in the car.
Thursday: More errands to handle, including another trip to San José with my dad so that he can be deputized as a "One-Time Deputy Marriage Commissioner", which, oddly, involves swearing an oath of loyalty to the United States. We go to the tux rental place to pick up Alex's tuxedo, which fits except for too-short sleeves that are speedily lengthened; we go to the copy shop to pick up the finished programs, which have turned out amazingly well. While all this is going on, my mom and sister get manicures and pedicures, a multi-hour production that apparently involves telling the manicurist all about me (as I discover when I go to the same manicurist to get my nails done the next day). Late in the day, after we've finished making some last tweaks to the ceremony and our vows, my grandparents arrive with my aunt. They've made an epic journey all the way from Iowa. My grandmother, who doesn't move around easily these days, is exhausted but delighted to have made the trip; we don't talk much, just hug and squish each other a lot.
Friday: We're in the home stretch now -- a photo slide show to pull together, the dry cleaning to pick up (and it turns out to be fine), and an afternoon rehearsal which goes well despite being rather disorganized. In the evening, with the generous help of Alex's dad, we throw a dinner party at Scratch for our extended families, as well as a few friends who are helping organize the wedding. It's quite a crowd. For after dinner, we've already invited an equally large crowd of wedding attendees to hang out in the epic (capacity: 40, no j/k) hot tub at our apartment building, starting around 9 p.m. Unfortunately, that scheduling utterly fails to account for the fact that a fancy dinner that starts at 7 p.m. just isn't likely to be over with by 9, and if the dinner is one at which many of our relatives are meeting each other for the first time, well, forget it. Everyone needs to shake hands and exchange words with everyone else, and most of them need to have their pictures taken with each other, too. It takes until 7:30 just to get everyone to even sit down, and then until 8 to finish the appetizers. All the same, I'm delighted to have everyone together. After all the spectacular food that Scratch plies us with, we finally make it back to the apartment a bit after 10:30, thanks to a ride from Monica keystricken and Ari, and we hurriedly change clothes and run to the hot tub, where, thankfully, a stalwart few wedding guests have remained. The tub is supposed to close at eleven, but the staff let us stay for half an hour longer than usual before finally making us extricate ourselves. The gift of another thirty minutes in the hot tub with my friends, especially the ones I haven't seen in years, is the most precious wedding present I could imagine getting.
Saturday: Nothing much happens, except that we get married and pretty much everything about it is perfect. But more about that later!
- It's not quite "I'll go put on the coffee and my pants", and it's certainly no "She drove off in a Winnebago and a huff", but for now, I'll take it.
- "'So, you have a band now?' 'Yeah, we're called Safeword.'" I love Maya's ability to make Alex boggle. (My parents don't really bat an eye anymore.) She's like the NC-17 version of me.