Saturday, August 28, 2010

Still Awake!

Unsolicited Jet Lag Update:

It's 2am! And I'm awake! Awake awake awake awake! Really perky!


On the other hand, here is a great photo that Sarah's mom just posted from the wedding.

Friday, August 27, 2010

America: The Brief Sum Up

24 days, 8 states, my favourite people, and a pile of stories. Pretty good work, I think.

Kansas: I never did tell you about the of the things that I have noticed is that if I promise you that something "will be coming soon" on the blog: I'm usually lying. Sorry! Here are some key words to attempt to make amends: photo booth, delicious food, bubbles, jazz pianist, snarky 9 year old, dancing so much I shredded the lining of my dress, group singing, group singing in parts, 5 little snowmen, mouth harp, muggy blanket of heat,  peace pipe/cigar, bridesmaid's room for hiding in, A whole new world, 2am. (Missouri and Kansas = 2)

Chicago: So good to see Andy and Nancy! The general consensus is that I hadn't been there in 5 years, which is clearly far too long. I got to see Andy's band perform at CJ Arthur's and they are sounding good. It was fun to see/hear everyone again and also momentarily steal Sandy's rhythm bones. My friend Josh from Garfield was sweet enough to stop by the gig as well so there were more people in the audience! I wandered around a bunch in order to see how much I could still navigate just by memory- the answer? A fair bit. Andy and Nancy had a parade of people through their house while I was there, my favourite of whom was an artisanal garlic farmer. 'Artisinal' is probably the wrong word...but fancy and rare types of garlic in any case. Too brief a visit! (Illinois = 3)

Baltimore/DC: I stayed with my dear friend Daniel, briefly saw Liz, took a short walk with Zane, and spent the day at the National Air and Space museum with Sarah, Desh, Jim, and Guinness McDog. An excellent, excellent visit that reminded me that the "family size" package of food- while cost effective, sometimes means that you end up with a 9"x 11" casserole full of meatloaf... tasty and delicious turkey meatloaf, but still a bit overwhelming in size. Daniel and I went on a trek to find his old 3 storey tree house, but we failed to find an accurate alternate path that didn't have us fording a river. Next time, next time I will see this epic tree house. My final night Daniel and I went to Applebees where we made friends with our waitress who had been having a very tough night, but cheered up at our paper sculptures and mini footballs (we maybe weren't exhibiting the most appropriate restaurant behaviour...) (Maryland and Virginia = 5)

New York:  I took the Bolt Bus to New York and was delighted with it. Free wi-fi! (that was where the epic and multi-linked Air and Space post came from) Lots of leg room! The guy sitting next to me was reading an article about John Cage written by Cornelius Cardew and I though to myself "there is no reason why anyone who was not a fairly extensively trained musician and/or composer would be reading this..." so I introduced myself. It turns out he's a composer- and being a composer, about my age, and traveling from Baltimore to New York we checked out Facebook to see who all we knew in common. Bizarrely the only common contact we had was an Irish opera singer that I had met in Norfolk. Small world, yes, but that's just weird. 

In New York I stayed with my friends Kevin, Sean, and Zach over in Jersey City. We started at lunch with Indian food- which made my mouth burn. Kevin and I visited his office at Meet The Composer, walked through a rainstorm, sat under the highway during a rainstorm, and eventually ended up at a Vietnamese restaurant eating delicious  bánh mì that made me so happy and then made my eyes start watering. (I used to be so good with spicy! Apparently no longer...) A trivia night followed that (our team got second place and $30 with absolutely no input from me. I'm not too up on 1970's pop culture) and so ended my first day in NY.

The next day started with cactus tacos (Mmmmm and not too spicy!) and then consisted of hipster watching in Williamsburg where I amused myself by doing a sociological sartorial study. I had drinks with an editor from Tor (we totally geeked out about graphic novels) and then spent the night in Astoria with my friends Ronni and Noah- you may remember them from the epic wedding posts of last year. They're doing very well and it was fabulous to see them again.

My last day in New York I actually spent in Connecticut visiting Meredith, her town, country club, and house she grew up in. It was great- a tour of Meredith's stories. We went kayaking and, thinking we were being clever, left our extra clothes on the shore. When we got back the tide had come in and Meredith had to fish them out of the water...oops.  (New York and Connecticut = 7)

Boston: The Bolt Bus up to Boston hit rather a lot of traffic so the sun was setting as I arrived at the bus station. I had used the wi-fi on the bus to get a map of the area around Laine's apartment and directions for how to get there and was feeling quite confident about it all until I started to follow the map. The neighbourhood is beautiful; everyone has a garden, there are a couple of parks within walking distance (I got a little lost and happened upon both of them), and the houses are stunning. When I finally found the address that I had I called Laine up. There was no way that was her house and there was a light on and was she sure that I wasn't going to be knocking on some random family's door? Digging through their mailbox to find a key?

Basically what I'm saying here is that Laine has the most beautiful apartment ever. It is about the same size as the house we grew up in, has lovely bones and intricate detailing, stained glass windows, and enough storage space for an army. (Well, a small Spartan army.) And a pantry! And adorable little butler-pantry-nook-thingy.

More Boston and Laine in the next post.
(Massachusetts = 8 states visited! Making the rounds...)

Monday, August 16, 2010

National Air and Space Museum

Yesterday Sarah and Desh took her little brother Jim and me to the National Air and Space Museum at the Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles. Now, I need to tell you that in spite of my father swearing UP and DOWN that I loved the Museum of Flight in Seattle as a child; I remember hating that museum. (Except for the flying car, which you really ought to click on because: hilarious) Anyhow, suffice to say that because of my history with museums full of air planes- I was suspicious of the Air and Space Museum.

But! BUT! BUT!!! I was wrong. I was totally wrong. It was *awesome* and ridiculously fun.

We ended up taking a tour and were lucky enough/privileged enough to end up on a lengthy tour with an excellent tour guide and while he was totally upfront about the gaps in his helicopter knowledge was a darling and entertaining speaker. I was utterly riveted for the whole two hours plus. ("Plus" because I kept asking questions and he said that the tour was running over time, but he would be happy to answer those questions for me and whomever wanted to stay on after he was done if I would just please shut up and let him finish! Sheesh.) (That's not verbatim. He was much more polite than that.) (I wouldn't have kept asking questions if he hadn't kept hauling me up to the front when I muttered things under my breath.) (Hmmph.)

It's interesting being in a flight museum as an adult, or at least as someone with slightly more perspective than a five year old. The place was filled with scrambling, running kids (including a scrumptious toddler in an orange space suit from the gift shop and bunch of kids at that stage where their feet are huge but the rest of their body hasn't quite caught up yet). And everywhere around are weapons. Giant, flying, weapons. The Enola Gay is the second thing to catch your eye as you walk into the main hangar. (The first is The Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird, which, granted, doesn't have any guns on it, but is still clearly an instrument of war.) We were walking around the museum talking about various evolutionary improvements versus leaping advancements (like swept wings) and how all these things allowed us, the US military, to be better at killing the bad guys.

Killing. The. Bad. Guys.

Okay. Yeah. The history of flight has two branches- commercial flight and military flight. And our wonderful, fabulous, can't compliment him enough tour guide spent 20 years in the Air Force so of course he is more interested in the military branch of things. I am well aware that my lack of military knowledge allows me to be all judgemental from a particularly safe and ignorant point of view. But I have to admit that I didn't expect the National Air and Space Museum to make me think that hard. Or be that emotional. Or that uncomfortable and conflicted. Or, you know, that involved.

(Side note: The tour guides get to talk about whatever they're interested in. There isn't a set tour that they have to follow. Which is great because it means they are fascinating tours, but also means that Sarah and Desh once went on a tour that spent the entire time looking at engines. Which probably, at this point, I should trust and believe would be great because the tour guides are so fabulous, but really? Engines? Two hours of engines? I fear that that would be like a wrench museum. (Boring, guys. I mean boring.) All of the title cards for the artefacts and what have you are very technical; they totally and completely fail to be compelling on their own. Which is why the tours are so great.) (Have I made that clear yet? If you go to the National Air and Space Museum take a tour.)

Oooh! You guys ready for my favourite part? The Langley Aerodrome was hanging above our heads near the end of the tour. It is beautiful- made of pale wood and yards and yards of creamy cloth stretched out on an architecturally stunning framework. But, you know, it is also flat. With a boat in the middle. And clearly couldn't fly if you paid it to. So what on earth was it? I wanted to know.
See how this is falling into the water? how it is totally not going to fly? Isn't this silly? It was catapulted off of that there house boat and kerplash! fell into the water. Many times. I love it. Oh, early flight. So many times you did not work.

What makes it even more fun is that when the Wright Brothers managed to fly, the U.S. Patent office granted them a patent on the idea of flight. Take that to the bank. So after people had got thoroughly fed up with paying royalties on the idea of flight someone came along, dug out the Langley Aerodrome from its storage place in the Smithsonian, heavily modified it, got it to fly, unmodified it, and sued the Wright Brothers. Ultimately the judge rolled his eyes at both groups and said something along the lines of "don't waste my time with your ridiculous flying contraption, but Wright brothers? You can't patent the idea of flight, anything related to it that you invented? Sure. Go ahead. Definitely. But not the idea of flight."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kansas Wedding: The first facebook pictures

Blatantly stealing some pictures here...

Dave always writes arrangements of Happy Birthday for people on their birthdays and their wedding day happened to be the birthday of the organist who played for the wedding AND Sarah's christening. So Dave wrote a very cool barbershop quartet with beat boxing that we proceeded to horribly butcher to much acclaim at the reception. L to R we've got Nik, Me, Martin, Dave, and Joe.

Also: the entrance of the newlyweds! Just look at those smiles!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Kansas Wedding: The Parties

Something I discovered this week is that if you are a friend of Sarah Titterington Ibbett's and you two are close enough that it was important enough for you to come to her wedding to Dave Ibbett in Kansas- then the odds are that you are very cool and totally wonderful. The same goes for if you are a friend of Dave Ibbett's and you flew all the way to Kansas for his wedding.

Not only did I get to see Sarah and Dave get married, I got to meet a whole slew of totally wonderful Titteringtons, make friends with some truly fabulous and loving bridesmaids, hang out with hilarious-constantly-singing groomsmen, and place myself in the middle of a bunch of Oberlin grads who made me feel totally at home.

Was all that emphatic enough? I don't really think so. The level of welcome and consideration was through the roof. And it was all so happy and simply delightful.

Early in the celebration period we had a picnic complete with baby twins! Margot and David were passed around all picnic long and *gosh* they are cute. They have very adult faces and kept whipping their heads around to observe everything very seriously. And then they walked!

On Thursday we had the Hen night/bachelorette party and the stag night/bachelor party. The women started off in the massively capable Maid of Honor Allison's room at the hotel which was heavily decorated in pink. We told stories, played games, drank mojitos, and giggled a lot. The guys played laser tag and had their asses handed to them by a bunch of local teenagers who clearly played laser tag all the time. Then we all met up at the local "Irish Pub" down the street.

We danced to the live band until midnight, played more games, and covered Dave, Dave's little brother Joe, and some of the other guests in bright red lipstick. A raucous and vibrant good time was had by all.

We had a bridesmaid luncheon where I spent most of the time talking to Sarah's Oberlin friend Emily about all sorts of things. There was a bit of a bridal shower and then we went back to the Titterington's house for a surprise baby shower for Meghan, one of the opera singing bridesmaids who is newly pregnant. (I got her a copy of But Not The Hippopotamus an important addition to any baby's library.)

The rehearsal dinner was held at one of the Titterington Uncle's house. Dave had made heaps and heaps of curry two days before (with able bodied help from Nik, Martin, and myself.) and everyone trooped in to the beautiful and spacious house to eat home made naan and tasty dips. Instead of having speeches and whatnot at the wedding, the majority of toasts were made at the rehearsal dinner including a stand up routine by Tim, the best man, and a bizzarro world skit written by Allison, the maid of honor, about an American Dave and an English Sarah. It was very cute and even included a Lady Gaga impression. Dave and Sarah's mom, Beth, had made slide shows of the two of them. It was very cute to see their baby pictures and pictures with each of the wedding party and their families. Meredith and I gave a speech about how we had known that Sarah and Dave were Sarah and Dave long before Sarah and Dave knew that they were Sarah and Dave.

Ah, then the final party was the reception. How cool was the reception? (Oh, you don't know yet. Because I haven't told you. But trust me, it was super cool. And it's going to have its own post! That's how cool it was.)

Kansas Wedding: The Ceremony

I don't even know how to start writing about this wedding, it was amazing. How about the ceremony? I'll start with that:

I overheard someone say at the reception that it had been "a wonderful concert....and a nice wedding too." There was so much music throughout the whole week; so much music and community and love. Fabulous.

The whole thing started off with the local baroque orchestra playing a bunch of Purcell and one of the bridesmaids singing. (Three of the bridesmaids were professional singers.) The parents walked in to Handel and another bridesmaid singing, and then the attendants all walked in to an arrangement that Dave did of the Beatles "Here, There and Everywhere" And all that was before Sarah had even walked down the aisle! (We practised a lot during the rehearsal to figure out how long between each couple there needed to be in order for us to walk on the beat but still stay in the correct placement.)

A note about having a wedding full of musicians: we applauded EVERYTHING. Beautiful singing? Applaud! A nice reading? Applaud! A funny joke? Applaud! Some people walking into the room? Applaud!

Dave wrote a lot of music for the wedding, but the one piece Sarah hadn't heard beforehand was her procession music. Half the bridesmaids needed tissues before she'd even got to the front of the church.

We got to sing some of my favourite hymns, which was made all the more fun because I was sat between two of the opera singing bridesmaids- it was a wall of beautiful sound.

Sarah and Dave had chosen some really poignant and touching readings from Quaker Faith and Practice, and had various British groomsmen reading them. The Americans lapped this up with a spoon. (It was described to me later as "sounding like Shakespeare.")

And then they were MARRIED! My friends! My dear friends that I met so early on in my time in London, they got married. (see picture above for old school, unmarried Sarah and Dave. Wedding pictures will follow as soon as people start posting them online. My camera was being persnickety and not helpful in that regard.)

Then everyone sang "Jerusalem." A word about that hymn: it's practically a second English national anthem, has a wonderful tune, and some strange and excellent lyrics. All this combined to, in my mind, make it the theme song for the whole wedding week. Because the English groomsmen knew it so well it then became important for the bridesmaids to learn it and blow them out of the water (3 opera singers, remember? We could be loud) so they graciously taught it to us with inventive and hilarious hand motions and actions. It's been stuck in my head for the last three days.

So that was the ceremony. Here's another take on the wedding from my friend Nik who was one of the groomsmen.

Maestro Show Pictures

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Have landed in Kansas and am now in the midst of preparations for Sarah and Dave's wedding!

Dave's friend from Cambridge, Nik, and I arrived within two minutes of each other so we were each met by half of the couple with hilarious personalized plastic hats decorated with pictures of American things (mine had an electoral map with which states Obama and McCain won).

We are staying with some family friends- an 84 year old man named Tom who is very sweet to us even if he repeats himself quite a lot.

It is HOT here. Today is meant to be record breaking at 101 degrees, but tomorrow and the next day there are meant to be thunderstorms! (Which I'm very excited about.)

More people are trickling in today- Dave's family, another Groomsman, and the Maid of Honour. I gather actual festivities start on Thursday.

The flights were fine and I got a good rest last night. A bit jet lagged still (I kind of want a nap...) more news as it happens!