Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Doing some wedding

I wanted to share a few photos from a wedding I recently officiated. To be clear, recent or not, it's also the only wedding I've ever officiated. I thought the process would be easy enough because writing a ceremony for my two awesome friends getting married (their awesomeness was actually something of a theme of the ceremony) would be a piece of cake, especially after recently going through the editing process of my own wedding ceremony. While the writing of the ceremony, being as it was quite short, went swimmingly, I'd forgotten I would also have to do the delivering of the ceremony part. Writing comes fairly naturally, but the public speaking part of wedding officiating does not.

Getting down to some serious officiating.
Watching the vow reading.
I was a bit nervous heading over to the wedding site, despite the fact that the entire group I would be speaking to was less than 20 people, a good portion of whom didn't speak English. Sam and I arrived early despite knowing the bride and groom would quite likely be late. Luckily all the other guests did too. After talking to everyone for a half hour or so before adjoining to the ceremony site, the nervousness went away as I got to know everyone. The end result wasn't half bad (or so Sam assures me). I don't think I'll be making a career of marrying people, but there are definitely things I am worse at (bowling, butterfly pull-ups, not arriving early to things, graphic design, etc).

I like this one of everyone else, so I'm including it even though I'm obviously looking at some other camera.
In addition to a not too shaky ceremony, it was just a wonderful day. The wedding was in a beautiful park uptown (Fort Tyron Park, home of the Cloisters) that is one of my favorites but that I never seem to actually make it to. The weather was lovely and the flowers were abundant. Not a bad place to do some marrying at all.

I loaned my sunglasses for this shot because I am a full service officiant. I don't just provide the ceremony, but also the photo props.

My favorite picture of the happy couple.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Pickling and Nazi assassinations

It's been a pretty quiet week or so which accounts for my not updating. This will honestly be a pretty short one as well as I'm currently updating out of guilt for not updating recently more than because I have actual substantive news to report. I can however think of two small things to write of, neither of which warrant their own post (yet), but perhaps can buoy each other in tandem.

1) I've been doing a bit of pickling lately. I have all the canning equipment leftover from the great Apple Butter Onslaught of 2012 (otherwise known as wedding planning). I also, as luck would have it, have a very bountiful farm share this year. The only thing keeping me from canning more things is the fact that I don't particularly like pickles. Never have. Luckily, what would be an insurmountable barrier to pickling is solved by being married to a lover of all things pickled. So far I've pickled green tomatoes and am waiting on some pickled garlic and habeneros. (Side note: the main lesson I learned from the pepper pickling is that you shouldn't chop up a pound of habeneros without gloves on right before you plan to put your contact lenses in.) I also currently have some cabbage brining away on my counter in hopes of becoming sauerkraut (which incidentally, I also don't care for).

Aside from not particularly being excited to try the results of my labors, I must say I kind of enjoy the fine art of pickling. There's a certain chemistry to it, or in the case of the sauerkraut, I suppose some biology. Also, as the lady in my canning recipe book described it, there's an industrious immigrant feeling that comes along with using all your upper body strength for 20 minutes to squeeze the water out of cabbage.

3 more weeks til pickled peppers. 
2) My book club read Laurent Binet' HHhH a couple of months back. At the time I was a little overwrought with WWII after spending the summer writing a book on the Holocaust as well, but after some more distance I can really appreciate it more as being an incredible book. It's a novel, but almost a memoir. At the very least it's a novel with a very strong anxiety about getting all the facts right. It deals with the results of Operation Anthropoid where two parachutists (a Czech and a Slovak) attempt to assassinate Nazi leader Reinhard Heydrich.

Anyway, the author was doing a discussion at a bookstore downtown on Saturday night, so Sam and I, along with a girl from my book club went to check it out. He was very endearing in person and not at all fitting the assumptions I had made about someone who would spend 10 years of his life researching Nazis.

I hopefully will have more (interesting) things to write about later this week, but in the meantime, if you anyone wants an autographed copy of HHhH or a jar of pickles in their Christmas stocking, now's the time to put in your orders.

Friday, November 8, 2013

New Years in November

Since living in New York the last few years, I've sought out a lot of classic New York tourist experiences. However, one thing I've never had any interest in doing is Times Square on New Years Eve. Tales of rivers of urine from people being trapped in pens for hours in preparation for the party and the mind-numbing coldness that always takes place around January have always kept that pretty far down on my list of ways to celebrate the coming of a new year. When a friend invited me to an event organized by the Obscura Society where you could learn about and even touch the famous Times Square ball, it seemed like the next best thing.

View (through a dirty window) at One Times Square.
The ball is kept at the top of the building One Times Square that it drops on year round. As it turns out, this building is accessible by elevators inside a Walgreens. It's visible from a number of rooftop and office buildings in the surrounding area since it's really only about 25 stories up. It would be interesting to work across from it, I should think, but then I suppose like everything else it would stop being noteworthy after a couple of days. They do apparently light it up for different days though, much like the Empire State Building. Apparently it becomes a pumpkin at Halloween and a globe for Earth Day.

The ball alit.
The event included champagne and a talk by one of the guys who works there year round. Apparently there isn't a lot of turnover in the News Years Eve ball dropping business, as he'd been working there since the mid-1980s. In fact, he was working there when the countdown switched from union guys with a stopwatch to the computer system (which apparently was the one time the ball was ever actually late). He was a fount of information about the history of the ball drop. Apparently, the first one in the early 1900s was a ploy by the New York Times to get people to come uptown to their new headquarters. They came up with the idea of having a ball that dropped based on a maritime tradition of dropping an iron ball at a predetermined time so ships could manage their timekeeping. They combined this not-so-exciting event with fun new technology (the original ball was 5 feet wide and made of wood and iron with 125-watt light bulbs) to create something noteworthy.

The reason you can't see it from Times Square usually is because it's behind this billboard.
While I was sipping my champagne and listening to his spiel about the over a million people who come to Times Square every New Years Eve from all over the world, it almost made me consider doing it for the first time. I thought about how I'd made it to the inauguration in 2008 which, really, involved just as much waiting around in huge crowds in the bitter crowd for hours on end, so why not this? However, then we actually made it up to the roof. It was about 40 degrees (according to Wikipedia the average temperature in NYC on New Years Eve since 1907 has been 33 degrees...and the coldest was in 1917 when it was 1 degree) and we were outside for maybe twenty minutes taking pictures, and I was pretty uncomfortable. Granted, we were on a windy rooftop and I wasn't wearing any heavy winter gear, but still.
Here's me with the ball. You can also note my new hair cut, albeit mostly obscured by hat.

I don't know where I'll be for New Years Eve, but I do know it will probably be inside somewhere. But for now, I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year has in store, as so far 2013 has been a pretty good one.

One final shot. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

The people like warm weather

Sam suggested going to Central Park this weekend because it was unseasonably warm and because I needed a break from writing. I realized on our way over that it was exactly a year ago that we took our engagement photos in Central Park. I mostly remember because it was the first weekend in November and should have been the marathon weekend, if it wasn't canceled due to Sandy. Also, interestingly, as I recall freezing in my cute-but-not-entirely-weather-appropriate mustard colored dress, this weekend marked little resemblance to that particular November weekend as it was in the high 60s.

Fall color. If you squint, and don't notice all the people, it almost looks like nature. 
This year, enjoying the park on a beautiful day (well up until it rained) made me realize how lucky we were in our choice of times last year. The advantage of going to the park when we did (super early. on a nearly freezing November day. directly after a debilitating city-wide natural disaster), is that we had the park nearly to ourselves. The thing I most notice when I look at our engagement photos is that it looks like we're alone in the park, which even on the best of days is hardly ever the case. To illustrate this point, I took a couple of shots around Bethesda Fountain, where we'd met our photographer last year. At 3 PM on a beautiful, warm November day, it was something of a different story.



 Despite the hardship of throngs of people (including us) we saw a number of photographers and couples  trying to capture their enduring love on film. I think we saw at least two brides and one engagement shoot just within the tunnel and area directly around the fountain. It's also worth noting that there was a camera man accompanying a sizable group of people dressed like Batman. We're talking maybe 20 to 25 Batmans (Batmen?). They seemed to be having an easier time than the engaged couples, as even the most self-involved tourist knows to steer clear of a fleet of caped avengers.
One of Sam's photos. He generally has the better eye.
This is why we need a professional photographer. 
Luckily, this year the marathon was able to go on as usual. A friend of mine was running in it and managed to get under four hours. I can't imagine running for four hours straight, but I know that even if I somehow managed that, that I would be close to completely 26.2 miles at the end of it.

Marathon runners rounding 5th Ave below the park (so about 24 miles in). 
So while I didn't accomplish any major life goals (not that running a marathon is even remotely on my list of life goals), it was overall a pretty good weekend. Hope it was equally warm, and perhaps less crowded where you were, readers.