Sunday, June 29, 2008

Better than perfect (or, finally, a serious post)

Thanks to everyone who made yesterday and all of this past week more incredible than we could have ever hoped for or imagined. Things are still a bit crazy right now, as we pack for the first stop on our honeymoon, so we'll get more specific with the thank-yous later. Keep checking back here for updates as we sort through all of the pictures, anecdotes, and music from this whole adventure and post them up here.

For now, please check out this awesome preview slideshow from our photographer, Lara Swanson at A Softer Image.

There's so much more where this came from, so we'll keep you posted. Thanks again, and we love you all!

Monday, June 23, 2008

How do I get there?

One of those basic basic questions that gets overlooked. Now that the holy-shit-this-is-really-about-to-happen feeling has finally blossomed, I thought it would be a good time to put up a general travel guide. College Park is easy to get to, but kind of a tricky area once you get there. Therefore, I'm going to break it down into three phases: getting to College Park MD, getting to the Chapel for the ceremony, and getting to the reception.

PART I - College Park

--The Saw Mill River Parkway is a death
trap. Steer clear of it unless you're the type who likes riding roller coasters, sitting on hot coals, and practicing acupuncture simultaneously. Take I-287 West towards the Garden State Parkway Instead.

--Unless you have EZ-Pass, bring $30 for tolls. It won't actually be that much, but it'll be closer than you want to know.

--When you pass into Maryland, don't get too excited. You've still got a good hour and a half left.

--Try to refrain from blinking during the trip, or you'll pass through Delaware without even realizing it.

--I like to take Garden State Parkway down about halfway through Jersey, pick up the Jer
sey Turnpike, and follow I-95 all the way to College Park (exit 25). It's a little heavy in the toll department, and traffic can be bad if you time it wrong, but the route is pretty simple and it can go by pretty quick if you hit the traffic right. Click here for a map from the Best Man's street to College Park, and alter to suit your tastes and/or location.

Ask Hannah, or just follow the North Star :-) Seriously, I'm not really qualified to answer this. It's taken me a good 6 years of driving around here to come up with the above tips, and after dozens of times driving up and down, trying different routes, and getting lost in Baltimore for an hour at 3 AM, this is all I have to show for it. Just find 95 North and you'll be fine. Or buy a GPS. Those are cool. Find one with Pierce Brosnan as a voice option. That'd be so cool. But I digress...

Hope your car is waterproof!

The two major Airports - BWI and Regan/National both offer public transportation means of getting to College Park.
Regan/National has its own metro stop and it's such a pain in the
to drive from Northern Virginia to Maryland that the metro is really the only practical option. More on the metro in a bit.

BWI has an automobile-rental facility; take 195 to 95 south and, depending on traffic, you'll be in College Park in between 25 minutes and 2 hours. However, if you
follow signs to the busses you can catch a B-30 Metrobus, which will take you to the Greenbelt metro station--only one stop away from scenic College Park. Or just call Hannah and me, like many already have.

PART II - Memorial Chapel
Them wedding bells is ringin at that red splotch on that map up there. If you find yourself in another town in the MD/VA area, coming from Regan/National airport, or metrobussing in from BWI, you'll want to make your way to the College Park - U of MD stop on the green line. Obnoxious and persistent delays aside (they say "Please allow and extra 30-45 minute to your travel time" like they're doing you a favor), the system is pretty clear, compared to other subway systems such as New York's. Just keep an eye on the map--they're posted like every 10 feet on the trains and in the stations. When you get to the College Park stop, call for help and someone will come get you.

HINT! Calling when you're at the Fort Totten metro stop will give the person retrieving you just enough time to meet you right when you get there. Not that Hannah and I used this tactic a million times in college or anything.

Because it's 2:15 in the morning, I'm going to copy and paste from the Memorial Chapel web site.

From the Capital Beltway (I-95/I-495):

  • Exit 25, (or Exit 27 if coming from Baltimore)
  • Go 2.5 miles south on US 1, past Campus Drive, toward downtown College Park
  • Turn right onto campus at Regents Drive, just before the downtown business district
  • Memorial Chapel will be on the corner of Regents and Chapel Drive
  • Turn left on Chapel Drive
  • Turn left at the dead end and enter Lot Y (Do not park in Lot W)

If Lot Y is filled:

  • Exit the lot at the barrier (which rises automatically as you approach it)
  • Turn right onto Chapel Drive
  • Turn left at Regents Drive
  • Take the first right into Lot L or continue in Lot L to the first right giving you access to Lot C2 or Lot C1 to your left
PART III - The Reception
If you are not joining us on our bike ride procession, the drive from the chapel to Cherry Hill Park is very easy. Just get back on Route 1 North, and drive on that for a little under 2 miles. When you see an IHOP on your left, hang an immediate left onto Cherry Hill Rd. If you go past the intersection with 495, or pass IKEA, you've gone too far.

Go down about a mile, and take a left into Cherry Hill Park campground. Tell the people at the gate that you're headed to the conference center. Go straight for as long as you can, and take a right
at the fork (onto Yosemite Lane) and you'll be rolling into the Conference Center in no time.

If you've made it as far as some of you will have traveled to make it out, up, or down here, this'll be the easy part. We do have a couple of safeguards in place just in case. First, a nice big map of the campground. Second, injured groomspeep Grant will be leading a caravan from point A to point B.

I mean, this looks like a guy who knows where he's going, right?

So writing for an hour late late on a Monday night seemed like a really good idea at the time. We have another busy day tomorrow--they all are at this point. My family is coming into town, but I probably won't be able to put them to work until Wednesday. So since it's all Hannah and me again tomorrow I'd best be heading to bed at last.

And I just remembered that I forgot to do the dishes. God. Damn. It. Nothing like a warm bath of residual soy sauce spray before bed.

See you all in a couple of days!

If you really want to see me, check the papers and the T.V.

Check it, droogs. In this scan from the Hill paper Roll Call, you can see two TU interns and yours truly reporting on endangered Pacific salmon issues at a press conference in front of the Capitol. Work has been hectic the past few weeks. We needed to get all copy done and off for design before I left. Honestly, I was glad to have something to think about besides wedding details.

We're gearing up for the last few days, party people. I hope you're excited. Eric and I had a stressful weekend, during which we just kind of wallowed and caved under the weight of the things we have left to do. I was really irritable and then spread the gloom to Eric, who became mopey. Eric noted last night that while I deal with stress by being explosive (while Eric calms me down), he deals with stress by drawing it all in (by then I just call a spade a spade while adding a little "we can do it!" pep). It works out quite well.

So methinks we're back on keel. Eric is dutifully doing my bidding during his first weeks of summer vacation, so he's making calls and running errands all over town. Our first peeps arrive tomorrow when Eric's folks and Ramie drive down from Connecticut. My parents drive in on Wednesday (they've been on the road since Friday) with my dad's mom, Grandma Mary. I'll pick up KB and Amanda on Wednesday night from BWI. My siblings come in starting late Wednesday night, and by Friday everyone should be in town to rehearse and throw down on Friday and Saturday. Eeegads it's almost here.

We'll be busy shuttling people around, picking flowers, picking up produce from the farm, and making poofs! Oh man. I can't wait to see you. Party on.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Hey peeps,

If you need a ride to or from the airport or the metro this week, call Eric or me. I have at least one friend metroing out to the ceremony the day of. Eric and I will probably be too frazzled to pick you up ourselves, but we're glad to delegate a shuttle service.

We definitely encourage as many people to metro as possible. You'll go to the College Park/University of Maryland stop on the green line. We'll get you to the chapel, reception and back to the train when you're ready to go.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

True Love Waits (or "T-minus one week")

One week to go and the stress-o-meter is about to burst. I remember Hannah and I joking that it was our "negative first" anniversary on 6/28/07 like it was yesterday. The fact that it's already been a year since then is too much. Time flies when you're... er... procrastinating.

Anyway, I've been ordering and arranging mp3's for the "DJ"
for the past 2 hours. When tweaking the order of the dinner "set," I came across this song and remembered how much I love it. I can't say I know that much about what it actually means, but since the word "love" is in the title I'm just going to assume it's a good fit to commemorate the milestone. If it's not, then it's a damn good song anyway.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Thom Yorke...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Your Own Personal Waterloo

My Achilles' heel is primping, my droogs.

Even though I well remember my junior high days when I would never, ever consider leaving the house without my Cover Girl compact (lest my forehead be oily), I somehow un-learned the arts of makeup and hair when I started rowing. To my jock friends, spandex and race shirts were the standard uniform, and I was lucky to have my contacts in and my teeth brushed in the 10 minutes between 4:15 a.m. and leaving for practice. Add that to a Catholic school uniform and a generally contrarian attitude and you get HB - to this day a looks minimalist. Observe, KB and me in the rowing glory days.

Ask my Nana and mom, who have tried to take me shopping a few times over the last few years for special occasions - college graduation outfit, job interviewing ensembles - it's no small feat to find clothes that I like and am willing to spend money on. Thus, shopping for some $5,000 strapless dress that looks like everyone else's was not in the cards for me or my budget.

Luckily for me, the women in my family kept their dresses. Un-luckily for me, my mom got married in the 80s when they apparently didn't eat. Even when McKay and me tried on my mom's dress at ages 12 and 15 respectively, we weren't close to fitting. My mom credits her long golf career with her super-human waist, but I wonder if she's just repressing memories from some sort of waist torture chamber akin to that scene in The Princess Bride.

When I tried on my Nana's dress last summer, it was similarly depressing. My mid-section, despite my oft' practiced 8 Minute Abs, was several inches too big for the dress.

So I gave up on my Nana's dress for a few hours, but after a pep talk from Mom decided to ask my Grandma Mary to use her sewing skills to help. Nana agreed to let us do anything we needed to do to the dress to make it fit my apparently gigantic body. Grandma Mary and my aunt B.J. did a lot of work on the dress between my visits to Arizona, creatively re-imagining the style to show a little skin in the small of my back to fix the rather large problem of the dress still being too small for me.

Then out of nowhere, June 2008 came along and we needed to fish or cut bait, as they say. So last week Mom and Dad rushed the dress to a seamstress, who picked up where B.J. and Grandma left off. The seamstress magically found some more material to let the dress out to my waist measurements, and in record time.

Even though the seamstress had my measurements I was really, really stressed that the dress still wouldn't fit. I was doing the twist and a million crunches a day. Dad ever-so-sensitively asked via Skype if I was "not gonna eat" until the wedding to fit into it. That is the grand tradition of modern brides, but I live off of food. Specifically, iced skim chai and potatoes.

Mom overnighted the dress to my office to arrive Tuesday. I asked E to come with me to the bathroom for moral support while I tried it on. I had to just get it over with immediately or else I'd drive myself crazy all day. E agreed she'd root me on if I had to stuff myself in. In fact, we had been recently inspired by an actual show that encourages brides to fit into their dresses rather than having dresses altered to fit them. Ever wonder what feminists think about that and other wedding shows?

But luckily for me, Mom and Dad's seamstress came through and the dress is now slightly too big! Victory is mine! I hustled to make an appointment at a local vintage-specialist cleaner in Chevy Chase, and they are going to do the final alterations and hand-clean the dress. The woman who helped me is getting married the same day in Kensington. I chatted her up and she rushed my order through so it'll be done on Thursday. What luck!

My next mission - an elusive full slip, which I'll surely sell on ebay June 29.

And with the help of my PM Amanda, my costume, hair and makeup Achilles' heel doesn't stand a chance. We're all gonna look awesome.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Question: What Do I Wear?

The answers:

Buuut seriously, here's what we're thinking.

The wedding and the reception will both be "casual." Not still-in-your-Stewie-Griffin- pajamas-attending-that- COMM-class-you-hate-that- time-when-you-were-a-sophomore casual, but wedding casual. I'll be in a new suit, picked out from Men's Wearhouse with the help of groomspeep Grant. Hannah will be in her Nana's wedding dress for the ceremony, and a sun dress for the bike ride and reception. Wedding parties and parents will all be similarly attired.

However, with high temperatures these days consistently in the 80s and 90s and the humidity somewhere between 70 percent and the inside of a goldfish bowl, we still want everybody to be comfortable. The suggestions below will be best suited to keeping everybody looking sharp and feeling good.

Sun dresses
Anything linen
Nice sandals

Nice shorts
Nice sandals

Obviously, there are other accessories and aspects of the wardrobe to consider (such as hats), but think along these lines and you'll be fine. In the end, if you show up too far on either extreme of the fashion spectrum, we'll just be happy to see you.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Cruisin for some Boozin'

Finally, the wheels are in motion--a dangerous, weaving motion that endangers all of the other wheels on the proverbial road. That's right, the beer is on the way!

Hannah and I decided (generally) what beer we wanted at the reception back in March. What ensued was a three-
month odyssey in which we discovered that one of our favorite local breweries has been bought out, another requires a catering service that won't call you back, and just how hard it is to find a beer/liquor store employee who can speak English.

However, an unexpected day off as a result of mass power outages in the county gave me some time for decisive action. Working on a tip from an old bud, Andrew, I contacted Corridor Wine & Spirits , a veritable beer warehouse in Laurel, MD.
Many of the specifics are still falling into place - I received a call from them not 15 seconds ago, as I wrote this - so this may change, but as it stands right now, here's what we're going to have available:

Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale
- Meet the alpha of the pack... Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale is brilliant amber in color and dry hopped with buckets full of Cascades for an unrivaled hop flavor and aroma. This is a true representation of an American-style pale ale, using the finest ingredients. Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale is a multi-award winning product and is consisently ranked as one of the best pale ales in the US. This is what craft beer is all about.

Flying Dog "Old Scratch" Amber
- This dog enjoys his days in the sun... Old Scratch Amber Lager, is a malty, mellow beer that is fermented at medium temperatures to develop both ale and lager characteristics. "Old Scratch" raises the standard in the amber lager category.

Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar - Hazelnut Brown Nectar is a nutty twist to a traditional European Brown Ale. Dark brown in color with a hazelnut aroma, a rich nutty flavor and a smooth malty finish. Dedicated to the homebrewer in each of us, Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale is a blend of Great Western 2-row Pale, Munich, Hugh Baird Brown, Crystal 80 and Crystal 135, Carastan, and Beeston Pale Chocolate malts; hazelnut extract; Perle and Saaz hops. HazelNut Brown Nectar is available in a 22-ounce bottle, a special commemorative 3-litre bottle with ceramic swing-top, and on draft.

Flying Dog is a VERY local microbrewery out of Frederick, Md. Rogue is most definitely NOT local, coming to us all the way from Oregon.
The Rogue in particular might not be able to make it to the reception, so we're going to have extra Flying Dog just in case. Whatever the combination, it will all be damn delicious, so drink up!

Disclaimer: for the underaged or anyone not wishing to consume anything with alcohol, we will have plenty of Rolling Rock (below) available as well.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

T-minus 23 Days

Well my droogies, I'd be lying if I said the whole less-than-a-month-away thing didn't sneak up on me. So welcome to freak-out time.

There's nothing specific to flip shit over, just an impending sense of doom. The nightmares started a few weeks ago, but I quickly started re-reading Offbeat Bride, which is so awesome in so many ways. I reviewed the chapters on family drama, dealing with stress (although the author's methods are different than mine) and food tips.

Eric and I seem to have meetings or other plans every freakin' weeknight, so we've been wigging out over other things. Today I nearly cried over what should have been simple editing, and I ran out of words trying to explain to a colleague that "actually, I'm not bringing anything to the breakfast buffet tomorrow" because I'll be pulling out my hair trying to get a reasonable amount of sleep, so I can't take the time to bake or buy something. Today we had a late meeting in Rockville, so I took the train to meet Eric up there because it's close to his school. After eating, we went to hang out in his classroom, where he took a nap on the floor while I watched the admittedly cathartic Clean House.

All right, enough venting. For news, we have a few things. The first is that I'll need anyone's help putting together these pom-pom centerpieces, as well as huge pom-poms for pew decorations. There won't be a tremendous amount of work here: some stick and jar gathering mostly. And since it's a small wedding (about eight tables and 10 or 12 pews' worth of people) there won't be too many poofs. Methinks my poofs should be yellow instead of orange because yellow makes me think of Bode. My mom is a master big-ass bow maker, so I'm sure she can improvise a cool poof/bow system for attaching them to pews.

Although Belec is still sorting out the beer, my mom and Nana have graciously tended to the wine and champagne, both of which my parents are carting out from Arizona's Kokopelli vineyard.

I've been talking with Mama Lucia's, and I found out they have gluten-free pasta options, so let me know if you're interested in/require a gluten-free meal.

I know all of this is frenzied and unconnected, but you try learning to waltz from YouTube while juggling evening appointments and hard magazine deadlines fast approaching. Go ahead, give it a try.

That's all for now, my droogies. It's bedways for me.