This has been quite the emotional week for me. Tuesday was the first symphony chorus rehearsal of the season, and Aaron and I weren't there for the first time since 1992 (I wrote more about that here). I received several texts and Facebook messages from other singers who missed us.
And of course yesterday was my last day at work. I've worked there since June 30, 1997. There aren't many people in my office who have been there longer. While it's definitely time for me to make a change, it was also bittersweet. We had a happy hour last night and by the end, when I had to say good night to John, who hired me and became a friend, and Kendra, whom I hired almost 15 years ago and is now one of my very best friends, I couldn't stop the tears. (Plus Kendra slipped a note in my purse and when I found it later I cried all over again.) Luckily Aaron was there, both to let me cry on his shoulder and to drive me home (I MAY have had too much sauvignon blanc).
I tried to get these taken before I started crying, but was unsuccessful.
If you missed my anniversary post Friday, you can find it here. What I didn't mention was that we spent our anniversary apart. I mean hell, it's been 22 years. We don't need a day. We celebrate all the time.
Shortly after Aaron and I got married, we met Pete and Val, who were also newlyweds. And shortly after that, Val and I and two of her high school friends, Deena and Cindy, started Girls' Getaway. We'd go somewhere every year: Put-in-Bay, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Nashville, Chicago... There were years when Cindy couldn't go and there were years when I couldn't go, and more girls joined in the fun.
Nashville, I don't remember what year
This year we went to Geneva-on-the-Lake, as in Lake Erie. We had a total of 27 girls on this trip! We stayed at a lodge right on the lake, spent a good amount of time at the pool, played washers (similar to cornhole but much easier to transport), went to a biker bar out near a covered bridge, had dollar drinks at a bar that had a stripper pole outside (and where a DJ and his daughter sang "Picture" by Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock -- inappropriate, party of 2?) and enjoyed outdoor karaoke (yep, I sang, once while wearing the "wine goggles" below).
Another successful trip! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend as well.
Tomorrow is Aaron's and my 22nd wedding anniversary. It's so hard to believe that it's even possible. Here are a few pictures from that day. So you don't have to do the math, the year was 1991, which should explain the big hair.
This is us with our best man, Ben. Aaron and Ben have known each other since they were 12 and they also went to college together so I've known Ben as long as I've known Aaron. To this day they're very close, even though we don't live in the same state. You may be wondering "what the hell are they doing with a 2 ball?" To explain that, here is most of Ben's best man speech:
"This week I helped Aaron move to Columbus, and while we were packing, I noticed (or maybe I should say failed to notice) a crucial item. A prized possession of Aaron's was nowhere to be seen. Vanished? Forgotten? Misplaced? Certain crisis, tragedy, trauma.
I don't know what happened to such a valuable object -- and I shudder to think of what Aaron's life must be like without it. So, I brought him a new one, a surrogate, a pale shadow of the true prize, but one I hope Aaron will be able to accept in its place. A 2 ball.
Now I suppose you may be curious as to the story behind such a treasure. ... In our freshman year at Wittenberg, I'm going to guess it was in the spring, probably about the time when Aaron and Gwen first began to see each other, Aaron came back from class to show me an important discovery. He had found an old, cracked, weathered 2 ball under a bush. He was thrilled, and displayed it for all to see on the shelf. That 2 ball then was displayed prominently in each room we ever lived in. Amazing -- the one constant through such wild times, this beaten-up 2 ball. And Gwen. From that point on, (shall we call it the 2 ball era?) Gwen and Aaron have been together. And today we celebrate their marriage and toast their future.
Karma is such a powerful player, aye? So you may understand why I was so distressed not to see the old 2 ball when I was helping Aaron pack. To tempt fate in such a way is unthinkable.
And so I give this new 2 ball to you both, so that the era may continue. Then I began to think what the ball means. Now that you are husband and wife, you are a circle, a sphere -- you two have become one. Just as the surface is smooth and glossy, the two of you complement and accentuate the best in each other to present a beautiful finish. And yet the ball is solid and weighty at its core -- made with great substance to withstand most anything. The two of you have a wonderful foundation to build on -- very solid, steady, tried and true. You have grown together, defined yourselves in each other -- so much so that when apart, there is a piece missing from each. I think you have become better together than either of you were alone. It has been a marvelous thing for me to watch and I thank you both for letting me share in so much of it. So I raise my glass (and the 2 ball) to you both to wish you nothing but the best."
We still have that 2 ball.
Please forgive this obviousness of this, but it must be done.
Thank you all so much for the comments, Facebook messages and tweets after yesterday's post. I'm really excited about this new chapter of my life and you'll all be part of that. It's a relief, too, that I can talk freely about it on the blog now that the cat's out of the bag.
Speaking of cats, here are a couple recent pictures that I couldn't resist posting.
Today's post is kind of all over and a bit of a photo dump. Hope you don't mind.
You know that Tostitos commercial in which the couple crashes a party thinking it's a cantina? I kid you not, that happened at our house recently when a couple guys were walking by and heard music and thought our house was a bar or something. Hilarious!
And finally, happy 20th birthday to our beautiful, talented niece Jacqueline!
Today I have some big news to share with you and it's something that I haven't been able to say for over 16 years:
I have a new job!
That's right, I've been at my current job for SIX. TEEN. YEARS.
"But how can that be, Gwen, when clearly you're no older than 28?"
During the Blog Every Day in May challenge, I talked a bit about being in accounting and how I'd love to do something different. I worked in small CPA firms for the first several years out of college, and then went to work for a family-owned business. They mainly deal with real estate development / construction / property management, and I've been in the accounting department since 1997.
While I'll still be number crunching, I will now be working for ... wait for it ... a microbrewery!
I've done work for the Columbus Brewing Company for a long time, and they are now ready to use me full time and I'm ready to make a change. The bonus (for me) is that they really don't have office space right now so I'll get have to work from home. This could be interesting, since Aaron also works from home, although he's rarely home all day long.
My first official day is September 3rd. I'm really excited about this new opportunity, although I will be leaving some wonderful coworkers and friends, so the tears will be flowing in the next couple weeks, I'm sure.
Not too far from our house, there's a restaurant called Cafe del Mondo. Its location is kind of strange and they're generally only open from 9-ish to 2-ish on weekdays, but once a month they open up for dinner (five-course meal, reservation only, BYOB). These Italian Dinner Nights are usually on Thursdays, which for Aaron and me means choir night from September - May. When we realized that we could make it this month, we asked our neighbors if they wanted to join us. That dinner happened last night.
The only downside to having a neighborhood as great as ours is that sometimes not everyone can be included. We had 20 people interested in going to dinner; we could only get 12 in, until the restaurant called and had some cancellations so we got our group to 16. We were set up outside and the weather could not have been more perfect (especially for mid-August!).
We feasted on bruschetta, salad, the most amazing bread, lasagna, chicken topped with spinach and cheese, mixed vegetables with fresh dill, and a cake that was so delicious that I ate it before I could take a picture.
Everything was delicious! Cafe del Mondo always takes great care of us. Aaron is a regular at lunchtime and they cater our annual Christmas party, which includes the amazing "meat tree."
After two and a half hours, with full bellies, we walked home (definitely needed that walk).
Aftermath, photo by Michelle
For Whitney's #backthatazzup Friday, I'm giving props to those friends who are family, who will never let us down and always have our backs. And I'm not only talking about the ones who were with us last night. Y'all know who you are!
Happy Gwensday! It's a B-E-A-YOU-tiful day here in Cbus. Seriously, why am I inside?
OK, if you don't know what SYTYCD means, you don't have to keep reading, but you might as well, since you're here and all. So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) is a competitive reality show involving (duh) dance. It's now in its 10th season and it's traditionally on during the summer. I didn't start watching until season 4, when I was flipping channels and came across this:
Chelsie and Mark; Chelsie went on to become a regular on Dancing With The Stars.
I was hooked and I've watched every episode since. I think the biggest reason I love this show is because I can't dance; I'm actually kinda klutzy. I do watch singing competitions - I sat through probably too many seasons of American Idol, I've watched The Sing-Off and I enjoy The Voice, but singing I can do. I'm no Kelly Clarkson, but I'm pretty decent. With dance, I'm just amazed at the talent on the stage.
I also prefer SYTYCD over Dancing With The Stars because there is a huge range of genres on this show, everything from ballroom to hip hop to contemporary to African jazz to Bollywood and on and on. Here are some of my favorite routines:
Kayla and Kupono in a piece about addiction, in which he is portraying her addiction
Courtney and Mark introducing us to the twisted and brilliant mind of choreographer Sonya Tayeh
Lindsay and Cole in a sizzling Paso Doble. Cole's background is martial arts and he incorporated that into his dancing. He was my favorite guy from last season.
THIS one. Alex Wong and all-star tWitch. People, Alex was dancing with the Miami Ballet before he went on this show. Check out his hip hop moves. Then he went and busted his Achilles and couldn't stay on the show. I can't imagine him not winning if he had been able to finish the season. On the finale, the judges pick their favorite routines of the season to be repeated. Obviously Alex couldn't perform so they had a special guest dancer.
One of the most fun performances ever.
These were just a few of my favorites; honestly it's hard to narrow them down. I'm sure that some of the routines from this season will make my list too, especially from last night. There were some incredible performances!
I thought Makenzie and Tucker were doomed. Then both Makenzie and Jenna nailed their pieces and obviously the judges had a hard time because they had a split vote before deciding that yes, Makenzie would go. Nico did an admirable job on his routine but it wasn't mind-blowing. Still, I thought that since Tucker wasn't able to dance last week, he'd be gone as well. Until....
...he did this emotional contemporary piece with all-star Robert choreographed by Travis Wall. Done and done. Travis is a former contestant turned choreographer and every one of his routines is outstanding. A couple months ago, Helene did a post about a SYTYCD drinking game, and one of my additions was "drink any time a Travis Wall piece DOESN'T make you cry."
And so Tucker stayed. Not a bad decision - really, I don't DISlike any of the remaining dancers and like I said, last night's show was phenomenal. I can't wait for next week!
Let's just say the fountain coke is my BFF today. Oof.
Friday night Aaron played poker with some of the neighborhood guys. I met some friends at the corner bar to hear live music. I have no pictures. My phone was dead, but let's be honest, I probably wouldn't have any pictures anyway.
Saturday we hosted a surprise birthday party for our friend Bo. We really did pull off the surprise and it was a great time, ending with a garage dance party.
Aaron sang at church Sunday morning. I didn't move a whole lot all day, but I did do my nails:
Sunday evening we celebrated our neighbor Martin's birthday. Martin & Christin and Colin & Amy are next-door neighbors and we utilized both backyards. Colin & Amy just had a big redo of their backyard. It looks amazing.
Bottom Right: They had a large tree that needed to be removed last winter. The landscape designer (who also happens to live in the neighborhood) turned it into a table by using part of a wire spool for the top. So cool.
The night was made even more perfect when Martin's band treated us to a concert of originals and covers.
It was a fabulous weekend. And now I'd like to recover.