Friday, September 18, 2015

Going to the (Ex-Girlfriend's Alaskan Wedding) Chapel

I know it's silly, but every time I come to write a post, I stop because right now I have 333 posts.  You have to understand that 333 is a magic number for me.  I was with my Dad when he died at 3:33am, and I looked at the clock specifically to see what time it was, mostly because I am so OCD that I was afraid the coroner would need to know the exact Time of Death (grief negated the reality that I am not qualified to officially establish the Time of Death).  Since then, I see 333 all the time, and it reminds me of my Dad.  It used to make me sad, but now it feels sort of like him saying, "Hey, I'm here."  B texts me all the time at 3:33 just to tell me it's 3:33.  He's a sweetheart that way.

But I'm writing another post.  It's probably going to be a mess, because I'm a bit of a mess these days, but it should at least be entertaining because I'm going to tell you about our Alaska trip to go to B's ex-girlfriend's wedding (which JUST reminds me that I never blogged about how B and I nearly went to jail in Italy two years ago-- later, I promise).  Bear with me, guys.  Life is tough sometimes.  Like now.


We only decided to attend the wedding about a week and a half before the event.  In our defense, Heidi (the bride) only gave the World at Large a month's notice anyway, so it wasn't like we were SUPER rude with our change in RSVP.  Just, you know, SOMEWHAT ill-mannered.  I texted her first and asked if it was too late for us to come and she said no, so we bought tickets and that was that.  Our plan was to drive to Atlanta on Wednesday night, stay at a hotel until 4am when we had to get up and get to the Atlanta airport to catch our super early flight, and land in Seattle before 9am (their time) to spend 24 hours with a good friend we hadn't seen in YEARS, then head to Juneau on Friday.  Easy, right?

Things were not easy.

First of all, the same week we traveled, I had the last-minute endoscopy and the Celiac diagnosis.  Yay.  The endoscopy was no big deal (they didn't even give me pain killers for recovery that I could hoard and take whenever my Mom came to visit, those bastards).  Neither was the diagnosis.  But it's still hard for this anxiety-ridden girl to have outpatient surgery, get a new disease, and travel 3000 miles in one week.  I DON'T ROLL THAT WAY.  I'M A PLANNER.

B did some Internet research for a cheap, close-to-the-airport hotel we could crash at in Atlanta so we didn't have to leave Augusta so early to get there.  He found good reviews, booked the room, and we headed out around 7pm.  HOLY SHIT, Y'ALL.  Around 9pm we arrived at what was easily the 2nd grossest hotel I've ever stayed in (the first being a random pit-stop in Hattiesburg, MS, on our way to New Orleans when EVERY PLACE WE STOPPED WAS BOOKED except this super-sketchy joint called the "Western Motel," the likes of which I am still having nightmares about).  Now, you have to understand, I am NOT SNOBBY.  We just wanted a place to sleep.  But Sweet Jesus, I was afraid to sleep here.  Afraid I would get murdered, afraid I would catch an infectious disease, afraid the scent of maple syrup that mysteriously permeated the room would soak into my veins and jack my blood sugar.....there was a lot going on.  It was bad.  I SLEPT IN MY SHOES SO I DIDN'T GET UP TO PEE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND FORGET TO PUT THEM ON AND CATCH SOME WEIRD-ASS FOOT FUNGUS.  It was that bad.  B is still reaping the punishment, poor fellow.

We got up at 4am and showered, dressed, and headed to ATL, shaking the maple syrup scent out of our clothes.  Once we got on our flight, I took a handful of Xanax, put on my sleep mask, and gently slumbered (aka:  probably snored and drooled) against B's shoulder while Alaska Airlines whisked us off to Seattle.  All was well until B mentioned that we were IN Seattle and had been circling a while.  Then the pilot came over the intercom to announce that our wing flaps wouldn't unfold due to a mechanical issue and we were GOING TO HAVE TO CRASH LAND.  But never fear, EMERGENCY VEHICLES WOULD BE ON HAND JUST IN CASE.

(Just in case WHAT?  If we crash, we DIE.  They are just there to extinguish the fire before the airport explodes.  I KNOW SHIT LIKE THIS BECAUSE I COME FROM A FAMILY FULL OF PILOTS.)

So we crash landed.  And rolled down the runway with six emergency vehicles following us, lights and sirens a-blazin'.  B was videoing the whole shebang.  I was swearing.  I was actually rather impressed with the pilot.  He did a stellar job considering we landed going nearly 200 mph faster than we were supposed to.  Kudos, Alaska Airlines.  Plus, I like your sweet adjustable headrests.

Once in Seattle, we picked up our rental car, only to find out two things.  1:  one of the friends we were supposed to meet was in the hospital with his child who had been attacked by a dog at his preschool the day before (what kind of preschools ARE these in Seattle?); and 2:  the friend we were staying with was at the hospital (different hospital) with his daughter, who had broken her finger.  (Don't worry, they sent photos.  They weren't just making up excuses to avoid us.  I requested proof.)

So we took the car and had a fabulous day wandering around Seattle.  I hadn't been out there in a long time, and the weather was GORGEOUS that day.  We saw the Fremont Troll, browsed a gluten-free bakery (yay!), had lunch at the dogbite kid's dad's Puerto Rican restaurant (La Isla, it was WONDERFUL-- if you are ever in Seattle, go there), and meandered around Pike Place Market.  We bought flowers and wine for our friends with whom we were spending the night, then headed to Port Orchard to see them.  It was lovely-- they made an amazing dinner, we met their beautiful, smart, wonderful kids, saw their lovely new home,  and we got to chat and catch up and, honestly, it was one of the best nights I had had in a very long while.  The next day we headed to the airport and caught the plane and headed to Juneau.

This time there was no crash landing, but I have never flown into a place so....desolate.  When you looked down from the plane, there were no houses, no cars, no streetlights, just lots and lots of trees and land.  Once we landed I found out just how desolate Juneau is-- did you know there are no roads in or out of Juneau?  If you want to leave the city, your only options are boat or plane.  IT WAS LIKE WAYWARD PINES ON CRACK.  (Did anybody else watch that this summer?  It was weird.)  We had ended up finding out in Seattle that we were on the plane with two other friends of Heidi's, one of whom I had been drunk with before (and who ran up to me in the airport, threw her arms around me and screamed "HEY, BITCHES!" even though I had only met her once in 2009 and hadn't seen her since-- I LOVE YOU NATHALIE, YOU KICK ASS) so Heidi's two aunts picked the four of us up and delivered us to our respective locations.  Several family friends had opened up their homes to wedding guests, and we were staying at the home of Heidi's Dad and Stepmom's closest friends, Lee and Sherie.  Now, for an introvert like me, it's terrifying to fly into a strange place and stay with people you've never met, but OH MY GOODNESS they were SO AMAZING.  We immediately bonded and I will love them for life.  Lee used to be a reporter for the LA Times, Sherie was a nurse, they have lived all over and done so many things and have this amazing home on the beach in Juneau-- it was incredible.  I LOVE THEM.

I'm digressing due to my love for Lee and Sherie.  Sorry, they are just really awesome.

Once we got settled in, we had about an hour before we needed to leave for the whale-watching rehearsal dinner.  Since so many people were coming from so far away for the wedding, Heidi and John (the groom, because I don't think I've mentioned John yet) invited everyone to everything, which was lovely.  You know how you go to weddings and meet people and are around them for 2 hours and never see them again?  Well, we spent 3 DAYS with this motley crew, so we REALLY got to know some people.  We saw whales and sea lions playing in the ocean.  We had dinner on a tiny island, in a pretty little cabin.  And later that night, we saw GUILLOTINE RIOT play, the groom's band, a Punk Metal group from New York City whose lead singer is my girl crush, Christa.  (I love you, Christa.  Even though I may be older than you, I want to be you when I grow up.)

The next day was the wedding.  The wedding was beautiful, the bride was gorgeous, the reception was amazing.  It was like a fairy-tale, minus the hike through the forest in heels and the 50-degree temperature, for which I had not packed.  The highlights for me were the following:

1.  I insulted a Muslim neurosurgeon, when I refused to believe was a neurosurgeon until I googled him while standing in front of him and realized OH SHIT, HE IS THE CHIEF OF NEUROSURGERY AT FSU.  My bad.  I apologized and offered to find him a wife (any takers yet?)  He's really funny.....

2.  I had the best Manhattan of my life, courtesy of my husband, who knew that by the time we reached the wedding I NEEDED SOME WHISKEY.  

3.  I exchanged numbers with Christa, who offered to take me and Belly on a girl's voyage through Brooklyn next time we're in NY, exchanged info with Adrian, who offered to send me spicy margarita mix from his company, and met Danae, a lawyer to whom I now text random photos of my dog (because we're awesome like that).

Lowlight:  B and I got in a nasty fight over him wanting to set up Nicki and Alberto, to which I cried "No!  CHRISTA, MY GIRLCRUSH, IS WITH ALBERTO!  IF I CAN'T HAVE HER, ALBERTO MUST!" and then I threatened to kill and disembowel him (B).  Apparently I went into a lot of detail in regards to the killing.  Oops.  I was drunk.  And I think I have PTSD (but that's another story).  I was BAD, BAD BAD.  *SORRY B*

Don't worry.  We're okay now.

The next morning, everyone showed up (extremely hungover) at a skate house near a glacier where we were supposed to eat bagels and go on a hike (I can't have bagels now and the hike was canceled due to rain).  It was still lovely (but cold) and I got my first chance to see a glacier and a waterfall RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER.  In Alaska.  How cool is that?  And I met a dog named Buoy, with whom I am madly entranced.

The next morning, we headed home.  We left Juneau on an 8am flight, and got into Atlanta at midnight, where we still had to get our bags, retrieve the car, and drive 2 1/2 hours home.

Other items of note:

1.  Juneau has the best coffee ever (Heritage Coffee) and GLUTEN FREE FOOD at the Hangar, in case you are ever there and need said items.

2.  Juneau is tiny.  Everywhere we went beyond the strip where the cruise ships dock, people asked us "Are you with the Hansen wedding?"  Because everybody knows everybody.  It's fabulous.

3.  People do not like to be called "Eskimos."  Don't do it.  Although they will forgive you if you are from the South because the manner in which you say it is so charming.

4.  I could never live in Alaska, despite the beauty, because the weather and the darkness would make me leap off a glacier to my certain (hopefully) death.

5.  Sleep is overrated.

Congratulations, Heidi and John.  Although I did not get to make a fool of myself on your wedding video (no videographer), we had an amazing time just the same.

And the 333 spell is broken.

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