Back in May, my friend Yufeng asked me for my mailing address. Yufeng is one of my oldest summer camp friends. We met back in 2005 and I’ve seen him a few times during my visits back to New York. He got engaged back in December, so me and our mutual friend Barry (who was at summer camp with us, in New York when I visited the both of them, and actually shares an alma mater with Yufeng) were 99.9% sure that we were going to receive wedding save-the-dates. Hurray!
About a week later, Barry informed me that he received an invite! For a July wedding! Ohmygosh so soon! And I waited and waited and… started wondering if maybe I wasn’t actually invited? If maybe Yufeng and his [now] wife decided to remove me from the guestlist? Barry offered to bring me as his +1 but I thought that would be pretty awkward if I was explicitly not invited. Luckily for everyone, I got an email with more details about the wedding and found out that the postal service randomly returned my invite to the bride’s parents. With that, we booked our July 4th weekend in Roanoke and prepared to celebrate Yufeng’s big day!
(Note all photos are by Pat Cori unless otherwise indicated.)
After my first ever Cracker Barrel visit (I can’t believe it took me so long to go! I had a great meal and love the little general store!), we arrived in Roanoke and checked into our hotel, buzzing and ready for the wedding.
The ceremony was late Saturday morning at the absolutely stunning St. Andrew’s Catholic Church. (Random fact: This is also the childhood church of one of my coworkers, who is from Roanoke!) Gorgeous stained glass windows, an amazing altar, beautiful statues. We took a few photos with my friend Barry and I got my first-ever in-person look at the bride. You see, before the wedding day, I had actually never met Deirdre before!
First of all, it needs to be said here that the singer was magnificent. Her voice was so clear and pure but strong, she had excellent breath and tone control… I mean, this congregation is so lucky to have her! Such a lovely voice.
Second of all, this was easily the most-Catholic wedding ceremony I have ever sat through. There was much singing, to the chagrin of me, Ben, and Barry, who missed a cue to refer to the book of hymnals. I felt so awkward and embarrassed that I just started giggling uncontrollably, and it was very difficult to keep it in. While I do appreciate the ritual and ceremony of the Catholic Church, it is very easy to feel out of the loop if you haven’t learned all of them. However, I later learned that the ceremony was modified to accommodate folks who were unfamiliar with Catholic ceremonies and that everyone was kind of playing it by ear and just following the priest’s lead. For example, he made an unexpected joke about double happiness, which is traditionally used in China for weddings, that took Yufeng and his family by surprise.
After the lovely (if sometimes stressful-for-me) ceremony, we broke for a little recess. The families had set up an excursion up Mill Mountain to hike, look out over Roanoke, and enjoy a delicious lunch of biscuit sandwiches! It was a nice view and we got to meet some of Yufeng’s high school friends, who marveled at the fact that he had invited two of his summer camp buds to his wedding years and years later.
But the best thing about the excursion up was the Mill Mountain Star, the largest freestanding man-made illuminated star! (Citation needed…)
This was the star of many of the Roanoke Snapchat filters. (Yufeng had his own Snapchat filter for the wedding!) (Also, let me make this confession now: I was very confused when I realized Roanoke, Virginia was not Roanoke the Lost Colony.) While we were enjoying the mountain air, the bride and groom were taking photos with the wedding party.
And then it was time for the reception! Luckily for us, while we knew no one at the wedding but Barry before the mountain hike, we were seated with our new Mill Mountain friends! The food was yummy (and even worth the huge oil splatter I got on my dress), the dancing was great, and everyone had a wonderful time.
Yufeng’s younger brother did a great lion dance!
And of course, the moment of fear when I stand at the very back of a crowd of women with my hands firmly behind my back.
It was a really lovely wedding and I couldn’t be happier for Yufeng and Deirdre.
The next morning, there was a lovely brunch at the Maridor Bed & Breakfast, where we got to send off the couple one last time.
Until next time! Thank you for inviting us to your wedding, Yufeng, we truly had a wonderful time and are so happy for you both. I am so grateful to have been able to call you my friend for the past 11 years and could not have imagined, back in 2005, being able to see you marry the love of your life.
Last time on Spring Break 2016, we visited the beautiful Griffith Observatory, where I tried to get my fill of starry space stuff before heading to Koreatown to hang out with some friends from the Internet! It was a night of food and karaoke that I am so grateful for.
In case anyone forgot why we were on the west coast to begin with, the day of Don & Megan’s wedding finally arrived! We slept in a little bit on Sunday and then headed out for lunch and photos of the Arts District, since we hadn’t really hung around during daylight hours yet.
We were pretty starving, so we went for Umami Burger for lunch. We don’t have Umami in DC yet, but I’ve had the famous burger in New York before and I liked it there. Maybe it was because I was crazy hungry, because this burger was sooooo satisfying. It was juicy but didn’t make a complete mess, which honestly does ruin my burger experience if I end up having to eat burger remnants off my place with a fork. In shame.
Then time to indulge in my vanity and embarrass Ben by taking a lot of photos with the awesome murals around town. While taking these photos, a man started approaching us, which got Ben really really nervous. I tried to stay calm but we were both pretty scared that a strange man was walking towards us and there was no one else around us. As it turns out, the man was notified of our presence because we set off the alarms at the warehouse where we were taking photos. He was homeless but the company that owned the warehouse was paying him to do security because people had been stealing copper and other scrap metal. His name was Anthony and he was so so kind to us, so friendly, and so appreciative of our time. He told us about how he was an injured vet, offered to introduce us to his pit bulls, and gave us more blessings than we deserved. Ben wanted to take a photo with him to preserve the memory of meeting this kind soul, but I felt weird and exploitative about that so I quietly rejected that idea, gave Anthony a hug and some money so that he could afford to buy into low-income housing, and walked away feeling really good about the whole interaction. It was even better considering how scared we were when he approached us! I hope he’s doing well now.
Oh yeah, we had a wedding to attend! We did our long schlep (just kidding, it was literally 2 blocks away) after primping a little bit for the wedding. The Millwick was such a great venue, very LA, open, organic… And you know what? When we got there, the sun came out. And stayed out. Don and Megan were really worried about having to rent a tent for the ceremony and as it turns out, they didn’t need one. The weather finally cooperated and was perfect for the wedding. Here are a few photos from the lovely evening, provided by Anna Delores Photography.
We tried to go out for karaoke afterwards, but since Ben and I had an early drive out to Anaheim for Disney fun, we left before the newlyweds were able to join the crew. It was a great evening for MegaDon4Ever (Megan + Don) and we were so happy to be there to share this special day with our friends.
Next stop: DISNEYLAND.
We’re wrapping up Spring Break 2016 posts, can you even believe it? What have you been liking about them so far? What do you want to see more/less of?
According to some folks, summer is officially over.
This summer, like many summers, did seem to fly by at times. But there were many days (weeks, even) where I could have sworn the heat had slowed the passing of time, leaving me there to melt. DC set several heat records this year, including a record of 51 days above 90°F in 2015, and we’re still not safe from more heat to come. (I haven’t forgotten that freakish 80° day the first December I moved down from New Jersey.)
At some point towards the end of July, I realized my blogging game for the summer was not there. I began editing a “Summer Favorites” post to make up for all the monthly favorites I had missed, like how the post was originally titled “July” favorites when I realized I hadn’t even done June. (or May or April…)
Originally, I was going to push forward and try to get some individual event recaps posted, but here’s my new plan: give you a broad overview of what my summer has been like and then retroactively do those individual recaps. They are already delayed anyway, so what’s another few weeks, I guess? Versus having a more timely summer recap?
So, let me tell you about a few things I did this summer, with more detailed available on asterisked* ones. (Don’t hold your breath if you’d like to see those, but do let me know and I’ll put extra effort in pushing those out even though they won’t be timely anymore.)
… I started a new job with a DC startup. After spending a decent amount of time doing part-time work, it was nice to settle back into a full-time role, regularly spend time in DC, and be around other people. Plus, I was excited to work with a small team versus where I was last summer, as I felt I got really lost in corporate America with my job then.
… I attended my friends’ – Alex and Cindy’s – wedding*. This was big because not only do I rarely get to go to weddings, but this was a XANGA WEDDING. I met Alex through that good ol’ blogging platform, and his wedding turned into a bit of a Xanga reunion for a lot of his friends. I was able to meet some folks that I have only ever interacted with online, as well as see some of my other Xanga friends who I haven’t seen in years. Xanga forever! Blog friends are real friends!
… I spent most of my time with my new job, trying to settle into my role and juggling start-up hours. But I was still able to find time for fun!
… I went to the Kennedy Center to watch NSO Pops: Let’s Be Frank, a Frank Sinatra tribute medley show. I adore Sinatra, so getting to see Broadway stars sing some of his best hits alongside the National Symphony Orchestra was a lot of fun. Frank would have been pleased, I think. Plus, afterwards, we were able to stick around at the My Way Soirée, where there was more music and fun to be had.
… I went to the Baltimore Yelper Party, aka Yelp’s Secret Agent Soirée at Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino. I busted out my prom dress for the first time since high school in accordance with the formal dress code and Ben busted out his tux. This was the first Yelper party that I was attending and not working at, because I had to rush there from work in DC.
… I moved out of my apartment, as my lease came to an end on the 30th. It was rough trying to pack and move with my hours getting longer and longer, but I somehow was able to manage thanks to my dad and boyfriend helping me a lot on the last day with getting furniture into a Uhaul! My parents were also getting ready to sell their house at this point, so I was simultaneously going back to their place to pack and move there as well.
… I left that new job, as I quickly realized that it just wasn’t a good fit for me because of what the role demanded of me. I learned a lot and met a lot of great people during my short time, and it was a really valuable experience, but it simply wasn’t for me and that’s okay. In addition to the job not being a great fit for me, I needed to leave because of upcoming full-time opportunities.
… I participated in my first-ever hackathon*. Hacking Journalism was held at the Washington Post and had the goal of engineering solutions to better utilizing data in the journalism industry. While I’m not in journalism, I do think that it’s an important industry as I feel very invested in the news and how people consume the news. Also, I love data. This was a really fun way for me to learn about how hackathons work in a lower-stress environment than a standard one, and I was able to make some new friends along the way! Bonus: I wasn’t as useless as I thought I’d be, given that I am not a developer or a data scientist at a data science development hackathon. Score!
… I worked at the MD Burbs Yelper Party, aka Yelp’s Celebrity Affair at the Bowlmor in Rockville. People had great celebrity costumes and the food was kind of INCREDIBLE. Easily some of the best food provided by vendors of any Yelper party I’ve been to, because sometimes vendors bring food that you’re just not that excited about. Every vendor nailed it at this one, from the whole roasted pig near the entrance to the Filipino spread in the back. Even though I bled to set up, it was really worth it to see everyone have as much fun as they did.
… my family kicked off the month with a yard sale. I realized that yard sales actually give me major anxiety, as I really don’t like selling things, much less personal belongings. Plus, we had people coming in and out of the house looking at furniture, people started showing up at 6:30 AM (the listed start time was 9 AM………), and we had a really steady stream of people the entire time. BUT our neighbors across the street had a really adorable lemonade stand, and that honestly made things so much better.
… I went to my friend Annie‘s 30th birthday party*, which was this incredible Harry Potter-themed affair. Seriously, Annie and her crew put in SO much work and it paid off big time. It was the best Harry Potter party I have ever been to, from the decorations to the photo booth to the food to the costumes. It ended with some fun in the pool and watching some Harry Potter movies, of course.
… it was back to the Kennedy Center to see see the musical Once. I remember when “Falling Slowly” won an Oscar back in 2008 and falling in love with the song. (Oh yes, there were covers recorded with friends, impromptu performances in parks…) I never saw the movie, so being able to see the full story play out was a magical experience. It’s a simple but really emotional story, and the stage performance was so fun. I highly recommend seeing Once if it comes to a theater near you.
… my one year chip-free anniversarycame and went. I can now eat chips without crying (too much). Some harmony has been restored to my life.
… I went to my first-ever county fair*, the Montgomery County Fair (even though I don’t live in Montgomery County). I rode the Ferris wheel in time to see golden hour, pet a bunny, watched my friends play a bunch of games, ate a footlong corndog, and had an overall blast.
… I took my brother and his friends to a welcome back dinner at Fogo de Chão because it was DC Restaurant Week and they had just returned from spending the summer in San Francisco. There was a lot of food and I was able to get to know my brother and his roommates a little bit better. Also, we spent the evening walking about to see the monuments at night, which I am never able to do so I was extra grateful for that opportunity.
… I worked at the DC Yelper Party, aka Yelpchella at the Embassy Row Hotel. This is one of the coolest places in DC, design-wise, and I got to finally wear the flower crown I made with my friend a year ago, eat a lot of delicious food, dance the night away, and get a shot at Arabic Internet fame! (Shoutout to the ladies who didn’t speak English but have photos of me on each of their iPads, and to one of these ladies who has a husband who has video of me dancing on his phone.)
… I attended Diner en Blanc*, an internationally-held outdoor white party. This involved a lot of hunting for an all-white outfit, putting together the meal, and hauling of furniture for what can easily be summed up as an incredible Instagram op. But it was a lot of fun sharing that experience with all those strangers and seeing some previous coworkers again! (This post is nearly finished, so keep an eye out for it.Read about it here!)
It was an eventful summer, and I’m sorry I haven’t been sharing it in a more timely manner here on the blog. Please tell me which of these you want to hear more about. There is for sure a Diner en Blanc post coming, but everything else that is asterisked will likely just get shelved because I don’t think anyone wants to hear about them this late. Do let me know if I’m wrong!
What were some of the highlights of your summer?
What are you looking forward to for the fall?