Sunday, May 22, 2011

Have you heard the one...

About the man, the train, and the horse?  No, this isn't a joke-just your typical day in Wrexam, Wales!

This past week, a man tried to board a train with his horse-who, for the record, he did buy a ticket for.  "Only in Wales..." have my friends and colleagues been muttering this week.

Now boarding....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dorothy has been Released!

With a huge and teary sigh of relief, I'm happy to report that my friend Dorothy has been released to go back to Doha (and possibly by now, she's home in Vancouver getting some much needed love and attention from her family).
She's a strong lady-stronger than most (myself included)-and it makes me sad to read about her ordeal.  I can't even begin to comprehend.

Ironically, by not allowing her in to report on what was going on in front of the world, Syria has given her unbridled access to what was going on behind closed doors. Hopefully, her article will help continue to keep the spotlight on what's going on there-and though the true purpose of the Free Dorothy FB page, and the twitter account, and all of the newspaper articles, tv coverage, etc is no longer needed....perhaps we can all continue to work for the root of the cause that sent Dorothy there to begin with:  freedom and truth.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

April 30, 2011: A Perfect Day

In the mania that has been since returning from getting married-and wanting to leave the Dorothy posts up high for a while (more on this in another post), I'm just now getting round to recording my thoughts about the wedding.  Whew.

What can I say? Not that we were striving for a perfect day-god knows that would have been incredibly unrealistic-but, in hindsight, and without trying to sound too was a perfect day. 

As per the usual, I was up and awake before Simon.  Between jetlag and just general 'ok, time to get up', I was up at 8am.  It was nice to have a bit of peace and quite to myself; I thought the next 90 minutes would be all I'd get to myself all day long, and that thought was not incorrect!  The next moment to myself would come 18 hours later around 2am when we both went to bed (god only knows how poor Kate Middleton must have felt: up at 6am, and Fireworks at 3am to celebrate the marriage).

I pottered downstairs to the lobby to grab a cup of free (but yummy) coffee, and then came back upstairs and sat outside in the hallway reading the newspaper, enjoying my coffee and poking around on the internet.  I know it must sound odd to say I sat in the hallway, but between the lighting, benches and relative quiet at 8am on a Saturday, it was actually a great place to sit-plus, the wifi is better in the hall than in our room.  I will confess, as I wrote the blog post about our wedding on that day, I did find myself getting a little teary eyed.  Ok.  A lot teary eyed.

Off to breakfast at 9.30am with Simon, his best man, my man of honour-and his wife and another friend. [This trio of people are my oldest and dearest friends and would effectively be my salvation for the day.]  A big breakfast, and back up to the room at 10.30 to shower up before heading off to hair & makeup at 11am.  It's the only time in my life I've ever splurged for professional hair & makeup.  It was soooo worth it.  Not just because my hair & makeup still looked pretty darned good 14 hours later, but it was nice to just sit there and not have to worry about it!

Even though I told him he didn't have to come, I should have known better:  my man of honor, Scott came up at 11.30a and sat with me for the duration.  What can I say?  He's a champ.  And, he probably has no idea how much I appreciated having him there.  If I would have sat there by myself, I'm pretty sure I would have hit freak-out mode in no time flat.  Best friends you've known for close to 30 years are incredibly rare.  If you find yourself fortunate enough to have one, you should consider yourself the luckiest person in the world.  I do.

After hair & makeup, we had just enough time to grab a quick bite of lunch before I had to hustle off and finish getting ready, and the same for Scott.  It's a good thing we took the time for lunch.  As I've heard more times than I can recount from friends who have wed, I really didn't get much more to eat for the rest of the day:  my plate of food at the reception was only half eaten before I had to abandon it, and neither of us even had a wedding cupcake (well, I finally ate mine the next day, but Simon never got one).

Little did I know that while this was all going on, Scott's wife and our other friend were working pretty hard behind the scenes on the last minute details that NEVER even occured to me.  Having never been married before, it never occured to me (for example...) how to get the boutineres from the florist to the men.  Or, my bouquet up to my room for when I was getting ready.  Or, any other dozen little things that just never even crossed my mind.  I consider myself to be an organized person-and on the things that I thought about, I was organzied (I swear!).  As for the things I didn't think about?  Again, all I can say is thank god for friends!

Back in the room at 10 minutes to 2pm-with t-minus 40 minutes, I still need to get dressed.  It was a warm day (finally-after 6 days of crap weather), and after Simon's shower, between the heat from the sun and the heat from the shower, it was swealtering in the room when I arrived.  Within moments, sweat was trickling down my face and I begin to hit panic mode:  a)my makeup is going to be ruined b)my hair is going to be ruined and c)I'm concerned that once I get my dress on, between the heat and the nerves, I'm going to pass out!  Oh, and at that moment, the photographer shows up to take a few 'getting ready' shots.  Good grief.

We bust open the windows, pull the box fan out from the closet and crank it on high.  It starts to cool off, but I'm still too warm to get in my dress.  So, I try to stall:  I lay everything out to make final assembly fast.  Put on my jewellery, go to the potty one more time....anything to stall for time so I cool off.

Finally, I do-and at that moment my girlfriends arrive to help me in my dress.  Scott, bless him, probably would have stepped up if I had asked him, but it was probably better he didn't! :)  I've lost close to 14 pounds over the past 3 months-with most lost the last 6 weeks before the wedding-so I didn't have the dress altered to fit; it would have been a wasted effort.  Luckily, I bought some lingerie tape-the doublesided stuff-and after I put the dress on, my friends procede to tape me in the dress.  The dress had a sash tie, so I could sinch the waist myself for auto-correct on the sizing, but the bust was in great need of help, so we spent 15 minutes taping me in.  I wasn't going anywhere any time soon!

All the while, we're keeping up a good patter of banter, which is helping to keep calm.  But, again, like clock work, as we get the dress sorted, there's another knock on the door.  It's 2:20pm, and my father has arrived to take me to the ceremony.  He looked so handsome-and a bit shellshocked at seeing me-that I almost burst into tears when I opened the door.  I had to have my friend Kirsten punch me in the arm to keep me from crying.   (Kirsten is very good at punching people-and has been for 20+ years, so I knew she would be the right person for the job.)  Scott shows up a moment later, and then there's a flurry of getting boutineres on him & my dad before we all catch our breath before heading out the door.

I think Kirsten can now see the nerves on my face, so she starts rambling on about her oldest son (who's 5) finally loosing his baby teeth.  She keeps this up for the 2-3 minutes it takes us to to walk to the ceremony site (the theatre on the property).  She probably doesn't realize this, but I'm pretty sure her talking is what kept me calm those last few minutes.  

The next thing I know, I'm standing at the end of the aisle next to Simon who *really* does look like he's going to pass out-and feels it too.  His hand, when I touch it is cold and clammy.  To the point that the first few minutes of the ceremony, I'm not really listening.  Instead, I'm plotting as to whether or not I try to catch Simon when he falls, try to tip him in the direction of his best man who is much larger and could probably catch him without injury, or just let him hit the ground.  Bless his heart.  It was a bit warm in the room-and the pressure he was probably feeling didn't help.  Ironically, as a result of thinking he's the one that's struggling, I find that any nerves I had were gone. I had always presumed that I would be the one that would be mush and Simon would have to be the strong one at the alter.  But, one look at Simon made me snap to.  I was surprised at how calm I sounded when we were reciting our vows, and even more surprisingly, didn't shed a single tear at the cermony.

Fortunately, he didn't pass out, and after 15 minutes, we say I Will (it's an Episcopal thing).  We're married!

From there, it seems that all of the nerves are gone for both of us.  I feel the weight lift from my shoulders, and I'm suddenly quite aware of how excited I am about spending the next 8-10 hours with my friends-just hanging out, drinking and dancing.  Is it weird that the ceremony was almost like the work/chore we had to get thru to get to the fun part?  Hm.  I'd never really thought of the ceremony in that way before, but given that was where the pressure was greatest, it does make me wonder...

After the ceremony, we all herd to the front of the hotel where the steps and the entrance are quite grand, for group and wedding party photos, and then we head off with the photographer for more photos-and send people on their way to the pub with drink vouchers in hand.  It's just gone 3.30pm at this point, and the 'English' part of the wedding is about to hit full stride:  in the pub, drink in hand, and let's get pissed!  Personally, I think it's the way to go-what a pity we didn't get to join for another hour. :)

As it was a surprisingly nice day, we were able to take a good number of photos both inside &outside.  I haven't seen the pics yet, but am super excited for their arrival!  McMenamins (the place we got married) is just so freaking photogenic, that I know the pics are going to look great.  My favorite part of all of this, is at one point, we're standing on the 2nd floor balcony of the hotel.  The photographer is on the ground and taking photos looking up at us.  It dawns on both of us at that point that it's all very 'Royal Wedding', so we jokingly start waving to the masses-in that bizarre Royal way.  Mind you, there are no 'masses'-just a few friends and other random folks wandering down below with drinks in hand, but it does make the strangers pause and look at us with a very puzzled look on their faces!

From there, the next 8 hours are again, a blur.  Food (only a bit..), drinks (again, just a bit-I don't think I had 3 drinks total in the reception), dancing, talking, laughing.  The reception was a perfect way to spend the evening.  The locale was simply perfect, the decorations my friends added couldn't have been better, the music was fantastic, and it all seemed to go off without a hitch.  I remember snippets of the evening, but it seems like every time I'd look at my watch, I'd lost another 2 hour chunk-though it felt like 5 minutes!  Fortunately, the photographer was at the reception for a few hours, there were a lot of pictures taken from friends, and we hired a photo booth (like at the beach), so there's plenty of documentary evidence even if I can't remember much.  I have seen several photos since-many even with me posted and smiling.  I can't remeber the picture to save my life.

We had to be out of the reception by midnight, and from there, we pass out more drink vouchers and folks head out to the bar on premise that is open the latest-the distillery.  We nip back to the room to change clothes:  12 hours in a suit for Simon and 10 hours in my dress=two people who really want to put on some jeans!  Don't get me wrong, my dress was super comfy-perhaps the most comfortable dress of any kind I've ever worn.  But, 10 hours in any one clothing article starts to bug me. :)

We head out to the distillery, but after half a drink for both of us, we decide to say good night.  It's beginning to push 1am, we're pooped, and have to be up by 9am the next day (hosted brunch at 10.30am).  Plus, it's starting to get boozy-and, not that I'm not a fan of a drunken evening, but I'm so tired, that I can't even be bothered.  Who knew:  leading up to the wedding, I presumed I'd drink more than what I did on our wedding day.  But, as we both kept getting drinks and then being pulled off for something, neither of us actually drank that much when it was all over.

Favorite memories of the day:  seeing my dad for the first time,  the minister's ceremony (Colin, the man who married is a B-school classmate of mine; he was an ordained Episcopal minister before B-school.  It was a such gift to have someone who knew us to perform the ceremony), getting to spend more than 3 hours in a year with my old friends from home, having homemeade Cherry Lemon Vanilla Sundrop shipped in from North Carolina (don't ask.  it's a long story...), watching one of Simon's friends-who tends to be the calm one of the group-go completely *bonkers* on the dance floor, seeing everyone have so much fun with the photo booth, being serenaded by Chris (Pat Benetar's "Hearbreaker"; she used to sing in a Pat Benetar cover band...) on the dance floor, the group dance at the end to New York, New York (an English tradition. go figure), and simply getting to spend a proper weekend surrounded by family and friends.

I'm leaving out so much, but I should stop.  I could write a book on this-the errands the week leading up to the ceremony, the exhaustion we both felt the next morning (after being woken up at 8am.  grr...),  the irony of both the news of Osama Bin Laden and my friend Dorothy going missing all on the same weekend, the surprise (and delight) at finding out that people actually you cash in envelopes on your wedding day, the beauty of the flowers-and sadness to know that I'm probably the only one who noticed them, the fun of having Eric stand up and tell the story about 'On the Road,'  and on and on.

OK.  I really am stopping now.

My final $.02:  I will NEVER do this again! ;)

I'll post a few pro shots once we receive, but in the interim, here are a few that were taken from my camera:

My Handsome Father

Man of Honour after hair & Makeup
Scott, moi, Kirsten, Scott's wife, Susan-my oldest and dearest friends

Saturday, May 7, 2011

An update on Dorothy Parvaz

Firstly, a heartfelt thanks to all of you who have commented on my previous blog post-or even just read the post (knowledge is power).

The Syrian government did confirm on Thursday (a full 6 days after her initial detainment) that they were holding her.

Dorothy has not been allowed any contact yet with the outside world, and the US State Department/Consular service has not even been allowed access.

If you've joined her facebook page or Tweeted on her behalf (#FreeDorothy)-I thank you. 

If you haven't yet, please, please take 30 seconds to do so today. We must keep the momentum going and continue applying pressure to the Syrian government to let her go.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My friend Dorothy Parvaz is Missing

This is not the type of thing you expect to happen to someone you know.  My friend, Dorothy Parvaz, a journalist with Al Jazeera, landed in Damascus, Syria on Friday and has not been seen or heard from since.

If any of you our there are reading this, please join her Facebook page or retweet #FreeDorothy.

If anyone out there has any connections with anyone, anywhere that may be able influence what is happening to her-even a call to your state senator, local MP, etc.  I would greatly appreciate the help.