Beautiful Island  

Thursday, August 28 : 2:23 AM : 0 comments :

Traveling with a suitcase outfitted with four multi-directional wheels is the truth. In the past, I always had this big duffel bag looking thing that had to dragged along with much effort. I knew this New York trip would require better equipment. Four wheels made dragging my silver suitcase up and down streets, into and out of trains, incredibly easy and comfortable. Lugging that sucker up six flights of narrow stairs to Mike's apartment? Different story. Overall however, the importance of good luggage has finally been highlighted to me.

Since I'd decided to go open ended for the trip, I knew I had to travel as light as possible. Weighed down by only three pairs of shorts, one jacket, a pair of jeans, and a dozen white tees, my suitcase was as slim as could be. That's discounting the suit and dress shoes I had to lug around everywhere after one night's use -- I wish I could have airmailed it home. My one pair of white Chucks started off cleaner than sin and got incredibly dirty after one night of semi-dancing at APT. Luckily I acquired multiple copies of white Chucks months ago, at the incredibly cheap price of seven dollars a set so these guys will be retired as soon as I get home.

I may have looked the same every day but I traveled in style.

Three weeks anywhere seems like it would be a long time. Truth of the matter, I usually get tired of a place after ten days or so. This time around, I wish I didn't have to leave New York so early. I got lucky with housing. A few nights at various friends' places, a week spent using my god-sister's apartment on the Upper West side, and then another week at James' friend's huge apartment on the Upper East, two blocks away from Central Park. The original idea I had was that I would have to rent a place in Brooklyn for a few weeks, just to have a place to crash and not bug people with my weird hours.

Instead, there people available at all hours of the night. The entire first week after the wedding, I don't think we missed seeing a sunrise. Dann may or may not have jeopardized his job by hanging out all night long and then stumbling into work. I feel like the other people who actually had work in the morning suffered a similar fate. I love it. One day karma will demand that I have a nine-to-five job when people come to visit, but until that day, I'll play by night and wake up at three.

The strange thing about the trip was how different it was from last year. The people and groupings were different, the length of time extended to include more low energy moments, and a definite sense of physical fatigue near the end. Fatigue from DDTs, fatigue from karaoke (three times in a week is apparently one too many), fatigue from having erratic schedules. Maybe even fatigue from just living in the New York bubble, one I'm desperate to return to actually.

We managed to accomplish a lot, I think. The Web was key to many discussions and shenanigans. Large groups will always lead to attractions and hook ups. Now it's all been documented and will be a living, breathing, growing testament to the power of alchohol. Talks of auto-fails led to diagrams of cankles and f.u.p.a.'s, all sketched out for eternity in the back pages of Leslie's Switzerland journal. The story that wouldn't die, about a certain someone peeing all over an ottoman as someone else snapped his fingers and said, "What are you doing?! What are you doing!?! Wake up!" Forget sleep walking, sleep peeing is super serious. And hilarious. Sort of.

We tried to rack up all the normal food haunts and only halfway succeeded. Cafe Habana was the first off the list. Bonchon chicken wings was a revelation. Ramen was had a few times. Falafel, kati rolls, soupy dumplings, hot dogs, peanuts, and cupcakes were consumed. Even a dinner at Pam's place of work, Tailor, came about (absinthe gummies and amazing pork belly). Late nights were reserved for K-Town and the discovery that is birthday soup. But somehow I feel like we missed out on a whole bunch of delicious foods.

I really needed this trip. To get away from San Diego, to finally check off one of the things I wanted to do this year (be in New York), and to be around the large social settings that are still a huge part of me. I needed to meet new people, reconnect with some old, and just feel inspired. It's maybe a sign that I still haven't matured much, or learned to live with myself, but I need the energy of people and a setting to fuel feeling completely alive. Or maybe that feeling is distraction, and I needed distractions.

It's all not over yet, even though the East Coast is done with for the moment. There's two or three weeks in San Francisco coming up and a big ass birthday when maybe midnight strikes, or nothing at all happens. If home is where the heart is then I feel like my heart's in New York. Which is so ironic because, damn, I used to hate New York.

8 Seconds to Sunrise  

Monday, August 25 : 8:53 PM : 0 comments :

For James' birthday, we rode a mechanical bull. It was colored like a Holstein and we'd spent an hour or so at the bar before I even knew it existed. Standing outside smoking and getting into a bit of conversation with Sam, we were summoned inside by the cry of "James is going to ride the bull!" This I had to see. Earlier in the day, I'd been worried that there would be no memorable happenings to commemorate his big 3-0, even if a birthday party was being planned for Labor Day weekend in San Francisco. That bull wiped away all those concerns.

I almost said "That bull gored away all those concerns" because how often do you get to use "gore" in a sentence these days? But bad puns are, well, bad. The mechanical bull, cow really, had plastic wrapping on the sides to make the bull easier to clean from all those sweaty thigh grips. Very sanitary and highly commendable.

Anyway, somewhere along the way, in all the excitement, it was decided that all the guys would have to ride the bull. At first, I vehemently said that I wouldn't do it, no way in hell. But I'm prone to peer pressure I guess. Plus, it was James' birthday and he insisted that everyone cowboy up (the puns can't stop, won't stop). The prospect of getting on an aggressive reverse Lazy-E Boy, of having friends cheer and jeer, it seemed the exact opposite of anything I'd enjoy.

But if you're going to step outside of your comfort zone, you might as well do it on a Monday night when the bar is only a quarter full and nobody's really paying that much attention. Any dignity lost would only contribute to your friends' amusement and fond re-tellings. It's weird and funny to me that the mechanical bull strikes me as the girliest thing to do in the world. I'll happily order a pink colored drink in a stemmy glass but riding a mechanical bull? Too feminine. Maybe watching a video of George ride one made that impression on me. Only drunk girls get on bulls in bars, am I right?

To be honest, it didn't really matter the whole falling thing. We were more concerned with style. One handed. An arm in the air like a real cowboy. I noticed Sam took the rope grip with his fist clenched fingers facing up, instead of down, like most people would naturally do. I remembered that that's how real bull riders did it on ESPN. That's when you realize someone notices the little details about life. I thanked god that I didn't go first.

For the record, James was the only one who stayed on the whole time. So I guess he's not quite over the hill yet. I got gnarly skin rubs on the inside of both knees from wearing shorts while kung fu gripping leather and plastic. Sam's hair swished to and fro like Tristan's in Legends of the Fall. Amit offered his usual panache and quips. "Let's not tell anyone we ever did this."

There's probably a metaphor somewhere in this story about aging, about facing challenges, and about hanging on, but it's not really that deep. The real moral of the story is: when in doubt, find a mechanical bull.

Dancing Through Life  

Saturday, August 23 : 9:07 PM : 2 comments :

"Everyone should have at least eight friends, one for each day of the week, and a spare in case someone gets sick."
-Attack of the Theater People-

I've been hanging out with Amit a lot over the past three weeks in New York. During this time I've paid attention and tried to pick up a few of the finer points of living a life that is Amit-esque -- which can be most easily summed up as a life lived with pleasure. There are many reasons I admire Amit but his je ne se quois flair and ability to infuse any situation with the right amount of sarcasm, positivity, and galaxial appropriateness is high on that list.

Something important I learned is that waiting is bad. I mean, I knew this before, but with Amit, waiting is the bane of his existence. Life is way too short to sit around waiting for things/people. Subway trains come sporadically every eleven or seventeen minutes? Local or express? Switch here or there? Screw it all and take a taxi. I was in the subway once this whole trip and while that may sound extravagant and wasteful, the extra money spent translated into being (mostly) on-time and a stress free travel experience. You can make money and with it you can buy time. You can't do the reverse.

Another example: the train to DC costs three times as much as the bus? No contest. Take the train for its ambiance and luxurious comfort. I learned this lesson the hard way. On the way back from DC, Victor and I's bus was late, cramped, and smelled like feet and cheese. The promised WiFi was nowhere to be found either. I don't want to get into socio-economics and prejudices but there's a reason certain people are on the bus and not the train. I deserve a little convenience in my silver years. Convenience good, waiting bad.

This credo extends out to social situations too. People struggling to make a decision, loitering on the curb, or unable to come to a consensus? Forge ahead like the brave explorers of yore and don't take a look over your shoulder. The best decision I made all weekend in DC was to jump (into a cab) when Amit jumped. I blindly followed where he led because it all made so much sense. Don't fear inactivity, embrace it. And then give it a pat on the back, let go quickly, and get the hell out of there.

A few other things I learned, which I'll summarize quickly in vague yet specific statements:
  • Celebrating for any reason is a good reason
  • Don't be afraid to encourage and disparage at the same time
  • Own your space
  • Always make friends with bartenders and doormen
  • Greet people like they're your best friend
  • A look can be worth ten times more than a comment
  • Prosecco is the grown up's 7-Up
  • Late to arrive and early to leave, makes a man (socially) healthy, wealthy, and wise
  • "Not pretty enough..."

Master of the House  

Friday, August 22 : 3:12 AM : 1 comments :

Let's talk about social manipulation. What you say? Manipulation of any sort sounds terrible. Well, I've been carefully studying some friends of mine who happen to be amazingly effective socializers and trying to figure out what tactics and techniques they use to get people to like them. C'mon, be real, everyone needs to do a little social manipulation. Or rather, everyone wants people to like them, on some level. But how do people who are great at getting people to instantly connect do it?

The short answer is they manipulate. Whether it's through something as simple as innocuous flirting, extensive amounts of eye contact, a barrage of "tell me about yourself" questions, everyone's got a thing they do to get other people to pay attention. The most basic way to create a bond between two people is to fashion a little safe space where people get comfortable talking and revealing. Even a simple statement like "So, tell me about yourself," creates this opening for someone you just met to talk and to maybe bring something up that will pique both your interests.

Actually, the main categories of social manipulation line up neatly with The Five Love Languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. I'd re-interpret those as Words of Encouragement, Intense Face Time, Compliments, Doing Things, and Touch. For example, when meeting someone a master of Intense Face Time might make that person feel special by repeatedly devoting time concentrating on their conversation to the exclusion of whatever else is going on. Note that this excludes people trying to hit on others. That's a whole 'nother ballpark of love languages. People gravitate toward those that make them feel good about themselves. If someone can give off the air that they think you're really a great person, you'll naturally find yourself liking them.

Two factors that are really important also are enthusiasm and entertainment. Some people are just hugely entertaining and that alone makes people love them. However, being entertaining doesn't necessarily create a bond, it just creates invitations for future hang outs. Nobody's going to deny bringing someone around who's consistently funny and amusing. The enthusiasm part is something overlooked perhaps. For example, I have a friend who everytime he sees someone he knows (even barely), greets them with a huge hug and exclamations like they're best friends. That action creates a feeling of warmth and acknowledgment, even if you're wondering "Wait, why is this person bear hugging me?"

The best social manipulations combine a few methods at once. Not everyone reacts the same to each method obviously. The simplest example is someone who's extremely flirty and touchy might not get the same results from using that on people of the same sex. In fact, in this exact circumstance, it can often turn people off. "Ew, why's she always touching everyone?" But that's just hating. Recognize the power of social manipulation and either jump on-board or figure out how you can incorporate it into your game.

Of course, much of social manipulation is contrived. By definition it sort of has to be. You have a goal, you have a method, and you implement it for success. Some people may not be aware of exactly what they're doing, but ask the people around them and the peanut gallery can usually break down what makes them an effective socialite. Observe, study, incorporate. Or just roll your eyes and say "Omg, they're doing it again."

The Greatest  

Friday, August 15 : 5:45 PM : 0 comments :

Growing up I had a fascination with Benjamin Franklin, John F Kennedy, and Abraham Lincoln. I collected as many books about each as possible and tried to learn random facts about their lives. Milk Street, Poor Richard's, PT-109, The Rail Splitter. I guess a lot of middle school kids had the same fascination because these three represent some of the more charismatic, accomplished, and interesting figures in American history. At one time, I was also totally into presidents so coming to Washington DC officially for the first time, I felt like I had to see a few of the historical landmarks. Keep in mind that I hate doing touristy things. Crowds of people sitting back and taking pictures so they can say they went? Talk about hell.

But I wanted to see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and whatever else our capitol had to offer. It took us about an hour to cruise through the World War II memorial, the Washington Monument, Lincoln's house, and the Vietnam Veterans memorial. I learned maybe two facts about each and called it a day. I had little patience for group tours and instead read pamphlets. None of these landmarks evoked the majesty of seeing a great building in Europe or gave me anything other than a sense of having completed a goal on my visit.

Don't get me wrong, I really wanted to see these landmarks, but maybe because we were there to also meet up with friends, it got distracting to try to hang out and to also soak in the significance of the sights. What could have been the significance though? Is staring at Lincoln's beautifully constructed right foot supposed to make me think of my childhood appreciation for him? Having now touched, and walked a circle around, the Washington Monument, can I say I did something important?

The thing that makes me think there is something to all of this is when we walked toward the Vietnam Veterans memorial. Dhonielle and I were chatting animatedly, as was everyone around us, but as soon as we crossed near the black granite wall, a hushed silence fell over everyone. We recognized we were walking through something important, even if we maybe couldn't exactly pinpoint what it was.

The Roses  

Monday, August 11 : 10:17 AM : 2 comments :

This weekend I journeyed upstate to visit my cousins in New York. I'm older than both of them combined and practically twice as old as Cleo, who will be a junior in the fall. Since my Aunt Frances always lived on the opposite coast from the rest of our family, we rarely got a chance to see them. The last time was when I lived in Jersey City, about seven years ago. Both Cleo and Tiana (entering the eighth grade) were the cutest kids ever and my how they've grown.

Tiana is precocious and bright while Cleo is now almost as tall as me, probably/definitely way smarter, and sarcastic as all get out. While I was gushing about them to Mike, he said, "You sound like you're proud of them." I guess I am, even though obviously I had nothing to do with raising them. I was just proud to be related really.

My Aunt Frances was always the cool aunt that everybody has. Someone who was with it, seemed perpetually young, and didn't seem like an overbearing adult at all. I looked in her 80-gig iPod this weekend and she had some Akon and Danity Kane in there, which is just like, well, crazy. Her husband, Dan, has a whole shelf of movies and we sat down Saturday night to watch Blade Runner. Yeah, Blade Runner. For two teenage girls. That's some serious variety game for them when they get older.

What amazes me most about Cleo and Tiana is their sheer intelligence. I know each generation is smarter and more with it than the next, but there were so many times over the past two days when I was just stunned by how quick they were, especially Cleo, who can give just about anyone I know a run for their money on wit and comebacks. She's also armed with an incredible memory that seems to have sucked in all these tiny little details from our infrequent past interactions. Like at lunch we were talking about an old boyfriend of George's and Cleo said "Tony? The marine?" She even knew that he was a few years younger than George.

I don't know why George was telling an eight year old about her love life but hey, Cleo remembered it all. Mine too. She remembered Angie from our visit to Radio City Music Hall years ago and was savvy enough to figure out that she was my girlfriend. You cannot underestimate kids, ever.

The two of them are also voracious readers. Their bedrooms are filled with shelves of books and they were constantly reading and bringing books along to every event. They're psyched for my upcoming book and I only wish I had hung out with them earlier to get some true insight into how teenagers really are. I mean, I felt like the things I've been into for the past year mirrored similarly the things Cleo was into. It's true, I'm a teenage girl! Even though she doesn't quite believe it, a large part of the reason I named my main character "Chloe" was because I really wanted to name her "Cleo," which would obviously been in her honor. Now I wish I had.

Of course, then the book would have to be an entirely different piece of work because my book is a bit superficial and concerned with the things that cliched teenage girls are into and Cleo is, I feel like, deep. Not a cliched teenager at all. Her tastes already run toward the alternative, the anti-mainstream, and she's got ambitions to help people and on top of that she's also quite the writer.

The crazy thing is that the two of them aren't just bookworms. They're both really social, with great personalities, and a whole bunch of friends. They play sports, they go to (nerd) camp, they are all over technology, and they have so many wonderful experiences ahead of them. Tiana, who's a bit younger and a totally different personality type than Cleo, has this contagious sort of happy vibe which I can see evolving into making her this really great all-around girlstar. One who's not only smart, athletic, social, and involved, but also has that extra spark that people just really enjoy being around. Heck, I want to hang around the two of them all the time now just to watch them grow up.

They make we feel like I was so unself-aware when I was their age. Like totally lost. I wish I had done the Seven Up series with them. It would be quite the documentary with two stunning subjects. Yeah, I'm gushing. You would too okay?

Fire It Up  

Friday, August 8 : 1:40 AM : 0 comments :

There is a serious energy here in Manhattan. I touched a piece of it last year but a part of me was worried that it might be fleeting, or more of a product of the right people at the right time, or just my post-crazy still fired up mindset. Well, it's only been a week into my three or four week trip and it feels exactly the same. Like too many things are happening, in a good way, and there's just no time to catch my breath. That's such a contrast to the last two years I've spent in the Bay (Fremont), Los Angeles (West Covina), or San Diego.

To be honest, I'm just unmotivated to be out and about when I'm elsewhere. I'm sure a large part of the reason everything's like hyper "let's go because hell no I don't want no FOMO" is because it's basically vacation time being out here. And people are willing to stay out and hang for however long because it's rare to see everyone together.

But with one week down and two and a half to go, I already feel all packed in with stuff I have to do, people I've yet to see, and my original idea of having long expanses of time to just chill out, explore the city, and look for something to do is probably going to be shelved. There just isn't enough time.

I think you can do Manhattan on low energy output and have it seem like anywhere else. But see, I've been hanging out with Amit all week and even though he's gleefully unemployed, his social life is pretty much two full time jobs. Last year too, he was everywhere, even if he had a job in the morning. Or wait, did we catch him both summers in-between work? Regardless, doing New York at Amit's pace shows me how much energy people must have to take everything in out here.

The adage is that New Yorkers work hard and play hard. It's certainly true. I doubt people can get much out of the "New York experience" by sleeping twelve hours a day -- like I'm fully capable of. You gotta tap those energy reserves often in order to get everything into your non-negotiable twenty four hour days and sleeping is wasting some of that. The craziest thing is that it's not like people here just work and play. They join groups, they work out, they have cultural activities, they cram everything in in order to justify that $1500 rent.

Manhattan is alive. Or more importantly, it makes me feel alive. I'm not sure how to duplicate that feeling elsewhere, or what it is about myself that doesn't seem to be able to just stay self-hyped without external factors. It's something to work on I guess. Dann's been here this week too, because he's working out of the New York office. Every night when we're hanging out (making him invariably late for work the next morning), we turn to each other at least twice and say/scream "I love New York!"

And I have the feeling that this week might just be the warm up act. Sam and Pam, two late night stalwarts, are returning from vacations. I haven't even ventured anywhere near the Village yet, which was where we spent all of our time last year. Right now I'm camped out at my god-sister's in Columbus Circle but that'll change soon as James and Victor drop in next week. It could all just be starting. I'm gonna seriously need some sleep.


Thursday, August 7 : 1:15 AM : 0 comments :

Here's the thing about hanging out with this particular group of friends. While the social circle has changed somewhat over the years, the one thing that everyone has in common was that they danced together. Stretching maybe two and a half generations of dancers back, people know people, they know of people, and they can talk about people they knew on campus.

Basically what this amounts to is a highly incestuous group of friends (not literally, well maybe, but that's another post). When we all get together, we tend to talk about ourselves. Maybe this is bound to happen with any large social grouping but I feel like we do it to an extreme. Part of it may be that aside from the dance/college bond, people are actually really different. Would people necessarily have hung out with each other aside from this one thing in common? Possibly but there's a really good chance the group would never be this large. I mean, when can you ever get a social group this large started without some sort of unifying theme or activity?

Due to the incestuous and closed offness of alot of the conversations, it can be extremely hard for outsiders to join in. When all the talk is about "Do you remember when... Who in the group is... If you had to pick someone we know to..." it can be very difficult to relate. Eric lamented the fact that in these large gatherings we rarely break out the serious talk about religion, or politics, or sex, or anything about what we think about the world. Instead it's generally talk about us us us.

What's strange is that when this all started seven years ago, when we realized there could be a collegiate atmosphere after college, even if rarely, that's all we talked about: religion, sex, past histories, thoughts, etc. I believe part of that shift is because now we know how people think about it. We know who leans one way or the other and we know where conflicts could arise. Back then, everyone was new so these discussions were exciting and fresh. Now maybe it feels like "let's not go there."

And the interwoven nature of a friendship group like this is examining how it's really built up by many individual links. Nobody is super tight with everyone, that's just impossible. Everyone has a few people they're really close to, a few people they don't really know except in group settings, and people in the middle who are definitely great friends but also when it comes down to it, not extremely close anymore. The uniqueness of the feeling here is that, as someone said, "the group as a whole I feel close to, even if not necessarily the individuals." Brought together, it's an important and defining part of everyone's lives who's still involved

Oh, back to this bringing other people in thing. It's freaking intimidating to meet twenty people at once. Or thirty. Unless you are really committed to the idea of meeting everyone or have great natural social aptitude, it can be kind of crazy to try to get to know people. This is highlighted most by external boyfriends and girlfriends. Rare is the case of an external significant other who's been brought around to much success. Usually, the dedication of the person in the group to the group is actually a detriment to the relationship.

And since people are already so comfortable with each other, it can often seem like nobody is really reaching out and putting forth the effort to get to know new people. Many exceptions abound of course, but in general, it's tough to bring people in. Not least of which is because as a group everyone gossips and judges so much. I love it of course, I mean, judging and gossiping is what I live for, but that shit can get harsh behind the scenes.

People don't just get incestuous about the group, but about anyone associated with it, no matter how small or how brief. "What did we think about so-and-so?" When we DDT, everyone's fair game. To a lesser extent, my other main group of San Diego friends is like this too. We're a lot more tight knit and probably more open by definition, but the two dozen or so of the SD people exist on a level that is very unfriendly toward outsiders also.

So I guess my question is if all (large) friendship groups are like this. The internal gossip, the judgment wall, the feeling of exclusively community that begets closeness. Or maybe it's me because this is the only way I know how to be in a circle of friends. What other options are there?

Got Funk  

Tuesday, August 5 : 11:41 PM : 1 comments :

I've been waiting a long time to get to a computer and have some blogging access. Each day that goes by without me being able to blog, or at least write something down, gets me all antsy. Even if nothing substantive happens, I feel the need to think about getting something up every two or three days. Mostly, I think, it's because I've trained myself to be on this semi-regular blogging schedule for years and years so whenever I don't get the chance to be near a computer for an extended amount of time, something inside me goes panicky. I could give up cigarettes easily but never the blog I guess.

So I'm in New York, been here for a week, and it's just been an absolute blast. The official occasion was for Pierre and Amy's wedding but with a book draft due the following Monday, I decided that it was time to get out of San Diego for a second and just book an open ended flight. If I didn't leave SD soon, I was probably going to go crazy. It turns out I'll be here for about a month, with a planned four day trip to DC, and time is already flying by. I really wanted to do daily recaps of New York and what it's been like but that seems pretty ambitious now since each day tends to start late and end sometime near sunrise. Last year we were here I think we saw the sunrise every day for ten days straight. We're gonna blow that record out of the water on this trip. James and Victor touch down from the West Coast next Thursday. That's like three moblogs on one trip. Events will practically be in 3-D.

Let's rewind and take it back to the wedding. On the list of best weddings ever, there's only one wedding that belongs up at the top. To be honest, it's not even a list because this wedding stands so far above the pack that it's essentially gained immortal status. Eric and Anna's wedding in 2003 was epic. Coming a few years after most of us had left college, it was the first wedding that felt like a reunion. Tons of people everywhere, great music, amazing dancing (and a dance performance), open bar, and incredible love in the room all around. Since it was the first, it'll always remain the best.

But PZ and Amy's wedding is going to give it a run for its money in the years to come. What felt different about this wedding is that five years later, people realized that not all weddings will be amazing. I think there have been some really great "in the group" weddings recently but nothing where forty people were being brought together. With the mindset that all the ingredients were there for an off the charts weekend, there was no wasting time. Get to the hotel in Great Neck and stay the heck awake.

I'd love to do a blow by blow recap but to be honest, Eric already did it on his blog, and he does it so much better than I ever could. So go read his ultra-long but encompassing post. Yeah, go right now.
"So even though I told myself I wasn't going to dance no matter what because I didn't have the energy or time to commit to it, there I was, practicing a routine I hadn't practiced for about 6 years... I was so glad to have a tiny little part though because I loved seeing everyone slightly nervous. I love the feeling of being nervous and seeing grown professionals clearly nervous also. some six figure freaks that command board rooms are worried again about 8 counts.... amazing all the aspects of dance physically and mentally...

There in a small alcove in a corner tucked away on the outside of the mansion, we did what we did so many times over in college. Sweated and crammed and got silly and serious before a big gig. At one point, Aileen asked me, 'Is this how it was in college?' At that point in time, Shao was practicing with a drink in his hand while Jason and Dann were smoking while rehearsing. I said, 'Yeah, but in college we didn't smoke and drink as much during practice.'"
-Human Amoeba-
Now that you're back, the experience couldn't be encapsulated better than by how early people were ready to have a great time. Eric talked about dinner time karaoke at the tables even before food was done being served. Four tables of dancers were placed right next to the speakers and of course the music was amazing. Sam is a party unto himself and he pretty much got his own music video -- the camera people and videographers asked him to keep singing so they could keep shooting. The Asian parents in the room must have thought some liquor got snuck in early or something. But who needs liquor when you got good music and friends? Here's some short clips of the dinner karaoke (1, 2). Now imagine that pretty much happening at four tables.

While I'm here, there's two more videos (all footage courtesy of the Jenny). One, people definitely showing more school spirit than I'd ever seen from this particular group, and two, the dance performance. Let's talk about that for a minute. For most of these weddings, there's a dance choreographed and featured during the reception. It's probably tradition at this point but also just about people wanting to be together and moving as one again.

Steve usually takes the lead and then knocks out and organizes the routines and the performances always end up injected amazing energy into the night. At Martin and Aileen's wedding, Martin even joined in on the MJ part. This time around, funKtion and Got Soul? got together to do pieces that PZ had choreographed. I literally was woken up the day of the wedding -- after getting two hours of sleep -- hearing Amit eight counting it out for people in the hallways. Of course, you can't be practicing in the hallways of some hotel so Got Soul? then took it outside, tucked into a parking garage to avoid the pouring rain, and used a car stereo to blast the music. This was just the first practice of the day. Immediately after the reception, there was a good hour of practicing by everyone involved wearing suits and dresses and still going all out. Unbelievable really.

The video of the performance doesn't do it complete justice because there's just no way to capture the energy of the room. Plus, half the dancers were already blitzed or well on their way there, which is amazing because from where I stood, front and center, it was one of the most exciting performances I've witnessed from them. PZ was doing the routines in his chair the whole time. It was awesome. I really need to learn a few more superlatives. I'm overly reliant on my A-words. There's twenty five other letters of the alphabet to utilize. Bodacious?

I think people realized (now that we're older and all wedding veterans) that a chance like this might not come around again for a long while. People didn't want to sleep, they were all down to hang out, and Eric was pushing for quality time like no other. For me, the wedding was just a blur from Friday until Monday. I slept maybe three or four hours every night because I'd pull double duty having fun and then sneak off after everyone had gone to bed for a bit of work on the draft. But I didn't feel tired at all. With that many incredible people around, with so many fun things going on, the only thing I was worried about was keeping it all in my head.

That's why I wanted to get something down here, because recently memories seem to fade so quickly. And for some reason the good ones are as fleeting as the bad ones nowadays and the only way to tilt that balance is to wallow in the great times. I'm gonna stop here and just try to reconstruct some of the week.

Steven Tyler said it: "I don't wanna miss a thing." Coincidentally, the number one movie we'd want to swede would probably be Armageddon.

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