Thursday, February 28, 2008

Heather's Wedding

It's Thursday night and I'm just now sitting down to share some stories and a picture from my older sister's wedding; I'm still recovering from sleep, so my evenings have been filled with less demanding activities.

I restrained my camera usage, since I never knew when I'd need to run off to be in pictures and I presumed with the four photographers (long story) and numerous others, I'd have my fill when all was developed or uploaded. One great uncle and several Facebook friends have already done this, so my destitution is lessened. I'm not sure how I got through the rehearsal and the reception with nary a picture of my nieces and nephew, though.

We drove to Iowa Thursday and returned late Sunday, so the trip was quick. The bride didn't want to do much sleeping -- she's a detail-oriented artist and had some final details to finish up.

I'll include some of my favorite stories from the weekend.

During the rehearsal, we were prompting our nieces, who served as flower girls, on the proper conduct. The six-year-old asked, "Do we get to pick up the flowers when we walk back?"

The two of them agreed to hold hands down the aisle after the ceremony concluded, and did well, but when the younger tried to take the older's hand during the ceremony, the older sister pulled away wildly, leading to some pinching and the three-year-old slipping off her shoes repeatedly. They were short enough I think you'd have to be in the front couple rows to see, but I've noticed in some of the shots my head is turned down.

Heather ate chocolate (intentionally) for the first time in ten years at her bachelorette party, which was followed up by the four sisters trying to share a king-sized bed. We did okay, but I'm not sure anyone slept well. And when Hope left due to being too warm and probably cramped, Charity hogged the gained space until I grumbled out a request to move over. She is unflappable when she sleeps, so I had to forcibly 'encourage' her to turn over to spare me from slipping off the bed. Ah, memories!

The sisters, sans bride, had our hair done at SPA, an academy for beauticians in training. I saw one guy and assumed, with my luck, he was my stylist, and I was right. Pardon my stereotypes, but he sported the spiked-mohawk, fake-tan, makeup-faced, painted-nails look. I admit I was slightly taken aback, but since I wasn't the bride, I thought it didn't matter too much how I ended up. I think the final results met my expectations, so all was not lost.

The ceremony and reception were beautiful, and even though this is the third wedding I've been to that used Cindy Morgan's "Make Us One" as the processional, I still love it (the two later weddings stole it from the first because it is that good, and when I finally learned the name of it Thursday night, it was quickly purchased through iTunes for my continued auditory pleasure).

I'm still sleepy, and ought to head to bed soon, even though I've not done justice to this weekend.

In short, it was a chance to catch up with both immediate and extended family, and indulge in one perk of not being the bride nor the groom -- I could stop and talk with someone for twenty minutes with nary an interruption. Several family friends were there as well, and since I didn't get to see them at Christmas, there was much updating all around.

It was a special wedding: Heather was stunning, and Chad has felt like family for at least a couple years now, so we're quite glad it's official. As someone else noted, he's not only my brother-in-law, he's a brother in law (patent, that is) -- eerie, isn't it.

(P.S. Chad, I hear a kleptomaniac made off with your open bag of Munchies, and it's possible Andrea broke a glass of yours -- fortunately you'll never miss either with Heather overhauling your bachelor pad.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

One Year is a Fluke, Two Years a Tradition

One of the main responsibilities of my job during this time of year is to arrange our recruitment weekend for prospective students. We bring in around forty students each year, introduce them to our program, and interview them, all in hopes of wooing them so that many will enroll in the fall. I correspond with all of the students, arranging travel, food, and lodging for the time.

Last year, it was a trial by fire. The Sunday students were supposed to all fly home also coincided with a Midwest ice storm. Flights were canceled right and left, and I started relaying frantic phone calls at 4 AM, steady until the afternoon. In the end, about six students had to stay until Monday, and two all the way until Tuesday.

I was hoping that I would get off easy this year. The weather reports looked good -- potentially light snow, and possibly strong winds. The wind concerned me, but there wasn't much I could do about that.

There were minor issues with travel Thursday, but those were dealt with. Friday, I met the students at lunch while they listened to an overview of our program. Afterwards, as I was cleaning up and preparing to return to my building, I wheeled my cart, now bereft of folders, to the third-floor elevator. I was escorted by a co-worker and a wayward prospective student. We entered and pushed the main floor button. Motion began, but after a few seconds elapsed, the elevator made a huge bang and shook. We were stuck.

My co-worker pushed the call button, which put us in touch with the local 911. They alerted the fire department.

I had my cell phone and alerted a colleague in the main office to our situation. She laughed, and took notes for what I needed covered in my absence. There were volunteers scheduled to meet me any moment to help with set-up for the next day, and some could be done without my assistance.

Almost as soon as I hung up my phone, it rang again. It was one of our last students that had a late arrival due to a prestigious meeting -- she had arrived at the airport for her flight, only to realize the ticket had been issued for the previous day. Even though I had told our travel agent the day she needed to travel, the agent accidentally switched the days, and the student didn't spot the error when she was asked to okay the itinerary a month earlier. Long story short, we purchased a one-way ticket less than an hour before departure.

By now, the fire department had arrived, and we discovered that we were between floors. One fireman stayed with us, propping the doors open, while the other one attempted to turn off electricity to the shaft. With the electricity off, the car will be kept from moving. If it's left on, at any moment the elevator could try to correct itself, not very comforting if you were crawling out at that moment. Certainly I and my co-worker may have been expendable, but once there's a recruit in there with us, things change; after all, it's bad PR when a recruit is split in two.

So time passed, and eventually we were able to feed the cart through the doors, and then the three of us managed to crawl out with varying degrees of assistance. I wore a skirt, not intending to have to crawl out of an elevator, but it all worked out. From beginning to end, we were probably only in there for about half an hour. We still had a cart with us, so the prospective student, amused by the whole thing, led the charge to another elevator (which worked just fine).

I spent my afternoon catching up from my lost time, grabbing unsuspecting volunteers who happened to be in the halls to help me with remaining tasks. Pretty intense start to my weekend, so I hoped that balanced out last year's craziness, and I would be spared.

Fast forward to this morning. I woke up around 7 AM, earlier than I would need to for Sunday morning services, to see if the first couple flights of students would get out. Everything looked good, flights were boarding and leaving the gate...and then they were sent back. At least two flights (one from Chicago, one from Detroit) attempted to land, circled for ten minutes, and then had to return to their original destinations.

Our students were on eleven different flights, ten of which were canceled. I fielded dozens of calls today, playing both travel agent and therapist. Many were able to take alternative transportation to their transfer location, where they should have had no problem making their connection. When the winds stalled this afternoon, the pilots, crew, and planes were readied, and then it was discovered that the deicer was broken.

All students were gracious, although some were understandably frustrated with the long lines and uncertainty.

So finally, I think I only have 8 stowaways for another night, and all should depart at a reasonable time tomorrow.

Honestly, though, I really don't want to go through this again next year.