Oksana and I are in the process of filling out the necessary forms
to reserve Chapel by the Lake's, uh... chapel... for our wedding
on August 17th 2002. Now, that date's not set in stone yet, but
the mold's been cast. Currently there aren't any reservations
at the church and that was our biggest worry. Once we've got our
deposit paid, we'll figure out where to have the reception! (Suggestions?)
Those of you who are familiar with Juneau probably know all about
Chapel by the Lake's awesome views. Those of you who're coming
to the wedding will be treated to views like this, this, and this.
I know you
don't really need this link to Travelocity, but I thought I'd
include it "just in case."
The date is set! August 17th, 2002. Chapel by the Lake. Oksana took
a look and decided on reserving the sanctuary over the chapel. The
chapel is closer to our plans (as far as size goes), but it was
too dark. The sanctuary seats 280, I think, so we're pretty confident
that it'll be big enough.
We also checked
out a bridal fair at the mall this weekend (where I realized why
they call them "bridal fairs" and not a "groom's
fairs") Among our notable achievements: we found some brochures
for suits and tuxes and looked over the prices for a photographer.
By the way, did you know that there are about a thousand different
tuxedo looks? Jeez...
Haskell has accepted my request to be the Best Man. Very cool.
to Liza Lavrushina for sending us a wedding planner. We didn't
even know those things existed!
Lots of new stuff, but nothing much solidified yet:
(I love this
Our biggest news is about the engagement ring. We've been shopping
around for something in our price range. While we've learned a
great deal about the four C's (clarity, color, carat, cut), we
haven't come that close to actually making a purchase. Costco,
surprisingly, had the best deal - high quality diamonds at prices
FAR lower than any other place in town. Unfortunately, they buy
only a few rings in bulk, so they didn't have a setting that we
really liked. We did ask about a custom order - but they only
do that on stones over a full carat. Out of our price range.
Oksana had an idea. See, years ago her father had given her mother
a diamond ring… but the ring was far too large for her finger.
The ring was passed to Oksana and she'd been keeping it in a safety
deposit box since our trip to Costa Rica a couple months ago.
She convinced me that we should get it appraised even though I
wasn't too keen on the idea - I wanted the ring she would wear
to be "ours."
make a long story short, we spent an hour at the jewelry store
getting the diamond appraised. There were downs ("Diamonds
shouldn't have surface abrasions!" and "Real diamonds
rarely flash blue and purple like that") and ups ("Doesn't
look like there are any flaws inside" and "It passed
the 'heat test' two out of three times.") The final verdict?
We have a nearly flawless, .9 - 1-carat diamond on our hands!
Oksana and I were quite amazed when she told us that it would
probably retail 3-4 times higher than the rings that were at the
top end of our price range!
a thrill. Our next step (after receiving the written appraisal
in the mail) will be to send the stone off to be removed from
the current setting, cleaned up, personalized by laser inscription,
and set in a new ring. It's really a win-win situation - Oksana
gets a great ring, and we end up saving a lot because we only
need to buy the setting now…
Liza Lavrushina has agreed to be Oksana's Maid of Honor at the
Hailee Berg is going to be our flower girl. And she's very excited
about that, too!
looking into places to hold our reception. At the top of our list
is the Mt. Roberts Tram, but it's also at the top of the cost
list! We're waiting for a call from them to tell us exactly how
much it might cost, but it looks like it'd be at least $1500-2000
(catering and tram ride included.) But what an experience that'd
be for our friends and family who've never been to Juneau!
My mom is going to handle the flowers - probably with a little
help from Oksana. They love that sort of thing. (And don't think
I'm not happy about that, either!)
In an e-mail
exchange with my grandparents, it's become apparent that we might
need to do some scouting around Juneau for anyone planning on
visiting. Let us know if you find something on the Internet worth
checking. In the meantime, here's a map with some of the key points
highlighted. Remember that if you rent a car, getting around Juneau
is a snap! The longest drive would be from North Douglas to Auke
Bay - and that should still take only about a ½ hour…
and no traffic! Seriously, plan to stay anywhere. It won't be
Do you know yet if you're going to be traveling to Juneau for our
wedding? If so, I might have a good deal for you. A couple days
ago I reserved the Schaible House as a possibility for our visiting
friends and relatives. The Schaible House is owned by the University
and is situated on the picturesque Mendenhall River (which flows
direct from the Mendenhall Glacier) and the huge picture windows
will let you see it all! There are four bedrooms (each sleeping
two) and even a pull-out couch in the living room. The cost to us
(reservations) is $200/night and I've currently got it reserved
for 5 nights. If we can manage to fill it, I can guarantee a sub-$50
/ night price! (Especially since, if we arrange to clean ourselves,
the University will knock of $200!)
wait for our official wedding invitations to go out -- that won't
be until June or so. If you're already planning on coming for
our wedding (and if you're reading this, you're almost definitely
invited!) and need a place to stay, reserve these as early as
schedule -- please let me know if I can reserve a room for you.
Room 8/13 8/14 8/15 8/16 8/17
#1 cancelled cancelled cancelled cancelled cancelled
#2 cancelled cancelled cancelled cancelled cancelled
#3 cancelled cancelled cancelled cancelled cancelled
#4 cancelled cancelled cancelled cancelled cancelled
Couch cancelled cancelled cancelled cancelled cancelled
student housing is also a possibility! Single rooms there are
$45 per night (or $40/each person for a double) and they're really,
really nice, too! I should know... I lived in G-4 for 5 years!
The dorms are basically empty over the summer and they are far
closer to townhouses or apartments than any college dorm you're
likely to have seen before. Full kitchen, bathroom, and living
room included! Let me know if anyone's interested in staying in
the dooms and I'll make you a reservation -- the sooner the better!
There's also a chance that I might be able to swing a "university
related event" discount... But even if I can't, it should
still be cheaper (and closer!) than the hotels in town!
updated map with the housing options listed:
Oksana has picked out a dress! After spending countless hours
scouring the Internet, my bride-to-be had pretty much decided
on the look you can see in the pictures above. A couple weeks
ago, Jennifer and Leah accompanied her to a bridal show that had
plenty of examples to view. (Side note: Oksana won a door prize
-- a coupon for a night a Pearson's Pond!) Anyway, afterwards
she set up an appointment with the dress reseller to try on a
couple things and see how they looked. She took printouts of the
above pictures but purposefully left them tucked away until the
professional had rendered his opinion. You know what? The first
thing he chose for her to try on was the exact same type of dress.
Let me tell you... my girl knows fashion!
an order for the dress yesterday. Luckily the manufacturer has
her size in stock and it should arrive in 2 to 3 weeks -- plenty
of time for her to have the train shortened (as she suspects she'll
want.) She's also ordered her shoes... but I don't have a picture
of them yet!
Like most girls, Oksana knew how certain things would be in her
wedding long before the proposal occurred. The bouquet happens
to be one of the things that just had to be perfect. Oksana will
be going with a simple, tight gathering of white roses (with pink-edged
petals.) My mom will be putting it together.
In order to lure all my friends and relatives up to Alaska for
my wedding, I'm trying to put together some incentives for spending
a week or two in Juneau. To that end, my Spanish professor (and
erstwhile friend), Rick Bellagh, has offered to take groups out
on his sailboat if they like. It's a small boat, about 30', but
plenty big enough to take 4 or 5 people out for a day of sailing,
fishing, sightseeing or whatever. I'll tell you what -- I've gone
out with Rick dozens of times and every single time we get to
see whales! (Always humpbacks, but sometimes killer whales...
and sometimes very, very close!) Trust me... you don't want to
miss this opportunity!
Wow. We got the appraisal back for the ring. That rock is... expensive.
Expensive enough that we feel we need to get renter's insurance
for it before we send it off to be put in a new setting. Wow.
While out playing Frisbee Golf last week, I stopped by to take
a few pictures of the Schiable House. The first picture is a photo
of the house itself. The second is of the view from the yard (kinda
overexposed through the trees... but you should be able to see
the river from the second floor deck). Finally, a picture from
the Mendenhall River bridge -- literally about 30 seconds walk
from the front door. Now all you need to do is imagine the trees
with a lot more greenery and the ground with a lot less snow --
'cuz our wedding is in August!
I still want
to get in there and figure out what the rooms are like. Keep checking
Oksana received her shoes in the mail a couple days ago. After
removing a few strings wrapping the toe straps together, they
fit just fine! I think she's planning on breaking them in during
her dance class...
Oh, my. It begins. In order to get Oksana's engagement ring insured,
we needed to get renter's insurance. And to get that (and do it
right), Oksana has to give me power of attorney in insurance matters
so that her stuff can be covered under my policy. Once we get
married it won't matter one bit who hadles inquiries and such
into our insurance matters, but right now it's all on me because
I'm the sole policy holder. Oh, and just to add her name to the
policy, we had to switch her car insurance over -- which saved
her a ton of money and didn't do much at all for me. Anyway, to
make a long story short, we'll have over $30k in renter's insurance
soon, and we've begun the tedious process of consolidating our
paperwork. Now, under the floater policy on the engagement ring,
it will be covered against everything except "intentional
damage, explosions, and nuclear damage." So, no exploding,
radioactive (or exploding radioactive!) wedding gifts, please!
Not too long ago, Oksana and I received a package in the mail
-- from Austria! Seems our friends from Costa Rica got their film
developed and sent us some photos our "engagement reenactment."
Here are a few of the pictures that we liked enough to show you
(i.e., the one where we don't look fat!)
I talked to my old college roomate and friend, Michael Heiman,
last week. First, congrats to him and Leah who are also getting
married this summer! And knowing exactly how planning a wedding
goes, Mike is eager to help out in ours if possible. You see,
Mike's nearing the end of his first year as a high school teacher
and he's getting ready to have his first summer off. Chances are
that he just might go back and work (part-time, at least) at his
old summer job, that of a river rafting guide here in Juneau.
As another encentive to get my friends and relatives to come up
for our wedding, Mike has offered to take a group on a rafting
day trip -- for free! If you're interested, check out these website
for some tourist-related information on rafting down the Mendenhall
River (and check out those prices you won't have to pay, too!)
By the way,
that picture above was taken when Mike offered to take Melissa,
Russ, Rob, and I along one day when he was still working for Alaska
since the last update. Lots of new stuff to report! Before that,
though, let me show off a picture taken with my new digital camera...
Now, wouldn't you love to visit Alaska (for my wedding)?
Last Saturday, Oksana and I attended our pre-marriage counseling
class at Chapel by the Lake. It could have been brutal - especially
considering that it started at 8:30am! In actuality, it wasn't
that bad, really.
See, we were a little bit worried. We'd selected Chapel by the
Lake not because of our religion (or lack thereof), but rather
for its scenic views. We expected that during the class we'd have
to listen to a lot of theological lecturing on the church's views
of marriage in the eyes of God. Remember, Oksana grew up in Russia
- her views on religion have been influenced by the fact that
ALL religions were illegal until she was 11!
All in all,
I thought the class was pretty good. After introductions, Steve
Olmstead, the minister of Chapel by the Lake started us ("us"
being six couples - three of which had familiar faces!) off with
a prayer before having us read 4 or 5 passages from the bible
on marriage. After that he took a backseat to the Coast Guard's
local chaplain who introduced us to the University of Denver's
program on effective communication in marriage.
we took a break from his presentation (which included overheads,
video clips, lecture, and practice sessions) to start on a 165-question
"PREPARE" exam. This was one of those old bubble-exams
that reminded me of being back in my high school SATs! Anyway,
they'll send off our results and test our "compatibility,"
and when they get them back they won't even share the results
with us! Boo, hiss! Oh, well. They say they'll use the results
to focus our remaining counseling session on what they believe
will be our trouble spots. (Knowing how I save money - or don't,
actually - my guess is on our finances!)
the "effective communications" seminar continued. We
wrapped that up around 3pm with a lecture from another minister-in-training
(I think) from the Chapel. She also announced that it would be
herself performing some of the marriages this summer, some would
be performed by Steve.
45 minutes or so became another lecture from Steve about his beliefs
(as a minister and as a husband) on the ways to avoid having an
affair. Obviously no one in a pre-marriage class would be thinking
about having an affair, nevertheless, he made some really good
points - it can be very easy to drift apart if you don't make
every effort not to.
On the way
home, Oksana and I shared our impressions of the day. I believe
we both agreed on what we thought were the important points taken
from the day:
1) We wouldn't
mind having Steve Olmstead marry us. He introduced himself to
us and invited us to come to Sunday mass. We both agreed that
we did not want the other woman to marry us, though (unfortunately
they didn't tell us who'd be marrying whom!) Oksana faulted her
on her inexperience. To be honest, I just got bad vibes…
Call it a personality conflict - there's nothing wrong with her,
but she simply rubs me wrong… Actually, we're both toying
with the idea of having the Coast Guard chaplain marry us - we
both warmed up to him instantly (without even "meeting"
him the whole day!)
2) We were
both relieved that the class didn't turn into 8 hours of "These
are our beliefs at Chapel by the Lake and we're forcing them on
you if you want to get married here." In retrospect, it's
pretty obvious that they wouldn't do that… but we were a
little worried anyway.
3) The "effective
listening techniques," although they felt silly at first,
really do have some merit. I don't know if we'll ever fall into
the routine of passing "the floor" back-and-forth while
saying things like: "What I hear you saying is…"
but it's good to know that this stuff works if we ever have one
of those deep-rooted arguments. (We're both continually amazed
that we've gone so long without one!)
we got home, Oksana and I didn't wait long for naptime! We hadn't
had enough sleep the night before and we were really lagging after
spending all day in a chair!
The Wedding Dress
Last week, Oksana received her wedding dress. Regrettably, we
can't say this is a happy occasion, because Oksana has reported
that it doesn't fit! She gave her exact measurements and the company
from which she ordered the dress decided what size to order. Turns
out, that's the wrong size. Oksana went so far as to measure the
inside of the dress and found that it's a couple inches too big
in the chest. She tried calling both the retailer and the manufacturer
and was hung-up on both times after the discussion started to
get a little heated. Needless to say, Oksana was quite distraught
for a day or two.
Jennifer Berg recommended that Oksana contact a local seamstress
who apparently does great work. She was hesitant about having
the dress altered at first, but after talking with some other
people who have had their dresses worked on by her, she's now
happy again! About all we need to do now is set up an appointment
to have the dress fixed up…
Take a closer look at the pictures of the ring above. Do you understand
now why we opted to have a custom setting made? I like to call
this setting "The Claw!"
policy has finally been figured out! Boy, what a pain that was.
At least now we have $25k of insurance on our "normal"
stuff and, more importantly, a floater policy on Oksana's engagement
ring. Oh, not to mention the fact that we had to switch Oksana's
auto insurance over to USAA - which saved her a bundle and saved
me, oh, less than $1. Oh, and because we're not yet married, Oksana
had to sign over her power of attorney (in insurance matters)
to me before they'd insure her stuff. As I said: What a pain!
news? We finally started the process of getting the engagement
ring made. First, we had to take the old ring in so that they
could extract the stone and mail it off to the Gemological Institute
in Washington. They're going to clean it up, laser-inscribe it,
and do a sort of appraisal on it. Then, when we get it back in
a few weeks, we'll have it attached to a custom setting.
Why are we
inscribing the diamond? Basically just to personalize it and make
it "ours." Oksana didn't have a recommendation (other
than a serial number) about how to inscribe it, but it wasn't
hard to convince her to go with "Kadachigova." I think
that's quite appropriate since the diamond came from her parents.
Also, she's going to be taking my name after we're married and
I just think she'd enjoy knowing that her maiden name is on her
a lot of time scouring the Internet, looking for the perfect ring/setting.
She has settled on a thin, flat ring with two metals intertwined
around the entire perimeter - white and yellow gold. The actual
setting will be made of platinum (with six prongs) for the extra
strength. We also complicated matters by wanting Oksana's wedding
band to attach to the engagement ring and match it well…
The jeweler (Ginger, at Dockside Jewelers, by the way) took copious
notes and is going to start in on some drawings and variations
for us to look over. Once we approve a design, she'll send off
for a wax copy to made. If we like that, they'll finally cast
the ring and setting. Finally, they'll drop in the stone. Looks
like it's still going to be a couple months before I get to slip
a ring on my bride-to-be's finger!
A friend of mine, Jeff Jemison, has offered to videotape our wedding
for us as his wedding gift. I consider this a GREAT gift and I'm
looking forward to having him help out. Jeff also had some great
ideas about cheaply hiring a photographer for the wedding, as
well. Want to learn a little bit about Jeff? You can see some
of his stuff here and here.
Oksana is going up the tram today (for free!) to talk to them
about reservations (and costs) for our reception. She'll be taking
my new digital camera and hopefully she'll get some beautiful
shots of downtown Juneau - Stay tuned!
Oops! I forgot to post information yesterday about the fact that
Oksana has already selected her bridesmaid's dresses. The pictures
above are from Nordstrom's and the color scheme is "Lilac."
(They don't have a full-length photo of that particular color,
Has it really
been three weeks since I posted an update on here? Holy cow! I
had no idea... Really, I've been quite busy -- unfortunately it
hasn't been with work on wedding stuff.
Take this weekend for instance: I labored from 7am on Saturday
to 11am on Sunday shooting and editing a video for UAS and the
local Rotary club. It was a "big thing" and, fortunately,
worked out pretty well. But it sure didn't leave me any time to
work on our wedding invitations! Our local ultimate summer league
has also started up recently and takes time away from other things...
All this goes to reinforcing my belief that my creativity is directly
proportional to my available free time. It makes me wonder if
the great artists of the world only do cool things because they're
offer the above only as an excuse. Maybe this stuff would work
better on a daily journal page somewhere on my site. But would
anybody actually read it? (Would I want them to?)
So. The wedding.
Three weeks ago we were rolling right along. Since then, we haven't
done too much and we're starting to feel overwhelmed! Oksana printed
out a to-do list. It's daunting. Lots of things to plan, reserve,
and do. Lots (and LOTS) of money to spend. Oksana also went to
her friend; Sandra's, wedding this weekend and looked upon it
with a critical eye. Rather than give her confidence, I think
it made her realize how much MORE work we have to do! If you can
help us add anything we've forgotten to the list, please e-mail
we actually done recently? Not a heck of a lot...
Oksana liked the tram experience. I think we've decided to go
ahead and reserve the (expensive) tram for our reception. At $18-$22
per person, we'll at least get tram tickets and dinner included.
More details after we actually MAKE the reservations.
Oksana has picked out the invitations, I believe, but we have
yet to order them. They'll be blank -- we'll compose our own and
print them out ourselves (providing I have time to be creative,
You may remember that Oksana won a $150 gift certificate from
Pearson's Pond a while back. We finally got around to making our
reservations -- and found out that it will STILL cost us $290
for ONE NIGHT'S STAY! ($360/night = summer rates, +$50 for a wedding
package -- flowers, champagne, fruit bowl, etc., + hotel tax.)
We stopped by Dockside Jewelers this weekend to see if our diamond
had been sent back yet (from the engraving process.) Nope. Looks
like we'll have to wait a bit longer... Our friends Mike and Leah
are also getting married this summer. They showed us a website
for titanium wedding bands and we're considering going that route
I was all ready to post a new update on our wedding page to tell
you all the news about the reception, INS, the invitations, and
our wedding planner. And then this happened.
Up at the
Deck - pray for sun!
Juneau and Auke Bay
(Less snow in August)
did it! On Thursday the 31st, Oksana and I took our lunch break
up on top of Mt. Roberts. We met with Tracy and officially reserved
the restaurant at the top for our reception. Lots more planning
involved in that, but it sure feels good to know it's a "lock."
we get? Well… For an unspecified amount (unspecified for
you… we know exactly how much we're paying!) we'll have
a buffet dinner of steak or salmon with other stuff like salad,
potatoes, rolls, veggies, etc. Included in the price is the tram
ride up the mountain (normally about $20 per tourist!) We'll also
have a hosted tab at the bar. We haven't decided just how much
to put up ourselves, but once it's been used up, y'all are on
your own. So, if you're planning to get blasted at our wedding,
you better bring some cash! We'll also have a few bottles of campaign
and sparkling apple cider for the toast.
what other reception details don't you really need to know? Our
schedule looks like:
Soon: Sign an official agreement that we're going to reserve the
3 weeks before wedding: Give final wedding list
3 days before wedding: Finalize and pay bill
Day before wedding: Deliver decorations
Day of wedding: Deliver cake, 3pm restaurant closes and decorating
we're going to bump our ceremony back to 3pm (instead of 4pm)
so that we aren't rushed at the reception. The tram closes for
the evening at 9:30pm and they'll charge us $200 an hour if we
go past that limit.
Overwhelmed by all this work we need to do to pull off this wedding,
Oksana and I formulated a plan: We'd find someone to help us with
it! A couple weeks ago, while out partying the night away, Oksana
asked a friend, Lola, if she might like to help us out. Lola enthusiastically
agreed - and a few days later remembered that should would most
likely be out of town on the 17th. After meeting with her and
showing her our web page, she decided right then that she just
had to change her airline tickets! Thanks, Lola! Expect to see
the smiling person pictured above keeping things smooth and organized
at the reception!
We got our invitations in the mail yesterday. Whoa, there's a
lot of 'em! I sure hope we didn't make a mistake when we chose
to print them ourselves…
I wrote, but didn't have time to post, before the fire.
I keep telling
myself that we're saving money by printing our own invitations.
I keep telling myself that our invitations will be better because
they'll be personalized. I keep telling myself whatever it takes
to keep me from destroying my printer as I struggle to print hundreds
of copies on various sizes of paper (some of which are technically
was not fun. The fire has been very stressful. Work has been no
refuge what with our department merging with Computing Services
(and my responsibilities increasing). Saturday was sunny and warm
and I spent it inside struggling for hours with my printer to
get results like the picture above. Eventually, because of the
calming powers of Oksana, I was able to figure out how to line
everything up just right. Sunday was spent printing out some 200
reply cards and envelopes - at times individually. Boy will I
be glad to slap some stamps on these babies and put this wedding
planning milestone behind us!
Oh, and I
ordered the "surprise" that we're planning on including
with the invitations, too.
Oksana heard through the local Russian grapevine that many of
the Immigration and Naturalization Service papers that we'd have
to fill out for the marriage may only be picked up at the Ketchikan
office. We asked my mom to check into that - and found out that
we were luckily mistaken. There's an office near the airport in
Juneau that we can pick up the "packet." When Oksana
called to find out about it, the person on the phone made it very
clear that I'm the one that's supposed to pick up and fill out
the paperwork. Fun.
by last week and only customs officials were there. They were
nice, but not too helpful when it came to finding the exact immigration
forms in those giant file cabinets. We called down to the Ketchikan
office and tried to get the correct info, but when we left with
a couple of daunting, triplicate packets (with hefty submission
price tags attached) we still weren't sure we had it all correct.
the next day on the INS website and printed out a giant stack
of forms and instructions. The only good news is that she thinks
that we might not need to fill any of this stuff out until after
the wedding. I can't imagine what paperwork nightmares await us
in the future (when she applies for a permanent greencard, full
citizenship, etc.) Imagine -- we might someday do all this again
for me in Russia!
Two days ago we stopped by Dockside Jewelers to see our newly
engraved stone. I must admit, it was quite cool to see "Kadachigova"
etched into the edge between facets when she put it under the
microscope! At any rate, we now have a "real" appraisal
from the Gemological Institute and Oksana spent almost two hours
ironing out the details of her custom setting and the wedding
bands. I don't think I'm going to get off quite as cheap as I
thought, but I must say that her ring is going to look awfully
step is that Ginger will create a 3D image of the custom setting
in a CAD-like program (wish I'd thought of that a couple months
ago - we could have done that ourselves!) If Oksana approves the
pictures, they send the data file down south so that they can
carve out a purple wax ring for her to try on. If that looks good,
it should only take another week or so for them to cast the metals
and set the stone!
We've received word that three of the four bridesmaids already
have their dresses. I guess I should start thinking about the
tuxes that the groomsmen need to rent…
I got a report that the "Online" link on the CD-ROM
is broken. I can't honestly can't figure out how that happened
-- I'm certain that I tested it every which way! I hate being
an imperfect perfectionist! The internal conflict that sets up
is very stressful. Anyway, if you're looking for the real "Online"
Wedding page, it's at http://www.arlomidgett.com/wedding. That's
"midgett" with two "t's," by the way. You'd
think I'd be able to spell my own name...
We just shipped out 90 invitations (with a handful more to send
as we receive addresses) which cost us a staggering (to me, anyway)
$443.67! If you were to ask me right now if it was worth it to
create our own invitations, I'd say "heck no!" But ask
me again in a couple weeks -- I hope they'll get favorable reviews.
if people don't like them, I think I'm going to curl up into a
spikey little ball like our new pet hedgehog...
to update you on, but not tonight. To celebrate our progress,
we're actually going to go to sleep early for once!
That broken link on all the CDs? I fixed it. I'll leave the "how"
as a mental exercise for all you geeks out there... ;)
to be a real update coming soon. Swear.
Most of you should have received your invitations by now. We sent
out the first batch of 90 and then followed up a week later with
about 15-20 more. If you haven't seen them yet, check your mail!
How do you think they turned out?
I'm not sure I would ever recommend that anyone undertake a wedding
project quite like that one. Don't get me wrong, I'm rather proud
of what we've accomplished with that mass of folded paper and
envelopes… but it took so much time! When you're already
stressing about the million-and-one things you need to do for
a wedding, spending so much time on just one thing can be very
stressful. Ask Oksana. She saw my frustration overwhelm me more
I think about the personal touch that we were able to put into
each invitation and I begin to think it may have been worthwhile.
Ten or so years ago, my uncle Ed created his own invitations for
his wedding, too. Was that an influence on my decision? Oh, you
betcha! Did I ever think about how much work it probably took
to do that? No, of course not. I suppose it'll all be worthwhile
if, ten years from now, someone remembers our wedding invitations.
Plus, in 2012, I'll have likely forgotten the fact that I let
a broken link slip into the project!
We called up the Chapel by the Lake and found out that our contact
information had gone missing (in an office move) and that they
had been waiting for us to call. We scheduled a meeting (last
Sunday afternoon) and found out that our worries about the minister
who would marry us had been realized.
to go to the meeting and discuss the fact that we were going to
ask someone else to marry us. Talk about walking on eggshells!
We certainly didn't want to offend Tracee, but we also wanted
someone with whom we felt more comfortable to do our you-only-get-married-once-so-make-it-perfect
ceremony. Unfortunately, we didn't yet have an alternative in
place because we hadn't asked the Coast Guard chaplain if he would
be willing to marry us instead.
At any rate,
the meeting went fairly well. First, we went over the ceremony
and discussed the schedule of events. Tracee made it clear that
many of the events would be up to us, but that some of them are
mandatory; the sermon, the prayer, etc. Not surprising…
It is going to be a church wedding after all. She also gave us
some examples of traditional vows to go over. After working so
hard to be creative on the invitations, I'm not sure I have it
in me to write my own vows. Perhaps if Oksana were to recite her
vows in Russian…?
We also went
over the things we'll have to pay for. Babysitter? Probably a
good idea. But what are the "Chapeladies?" Oh, they
set up the coffee and stuff! Cool. There were a few other things
as well, all totaling up to around $500.
discussion of the ceremony we moved on to talk about our pre-marriage
counseling test results. It seems that we scored quite well on
our ability to communicate and our role definitions. As expected,
we were less sure about what our financial situation would be
after we were married. We also found out that we have similar
views about our relationships with our respective families - comfortable,
even if we don't have constant contact with them.
bit about how the test scores work might be in order here. You
see, it's not really a compatibility test or anything. Instead
they ask you questions in certain categories and see if the couple
is in agreement, disagreement, or has uncertainties. Without them
actually showing us the scores, I got the feeling that we were
quite often in agreement, never really in disagreement, and only
sometimes uncertain. I guess that makes sense for a couple with
instance, this one question that Tracee thought might be worrisome.
The question was "Do you expect that your partner might make
important decisions without consulting you?" I said "no,"
(of course!), but Oksana said "yes." When this was brought
up, Oksana explained that she was reading more into the question:
"Yes, I would expect my partner to make important decisions
without me, because he knows that I trust him enough to do so."
I was flattered.
So we batted
around the implications of our test results with Tracee. I think
Oksana and I came to the conclusion that our communication was
so good because of the slight language barrier that we have to
hurdle. Although she's completely fluent in English, sometimes
the right word will elude her. In those cases we do what we can
to make sure I know exactly what she's talking about. Also, when
she doesn't understand what I'm saying (because I use big, high-falutin'
words, ya know) I need to rephrase for her. We got so good at
developing these skills that they carry over into every conversation.
never did find a way to tell Tracee that we were looking for her
replacement, but we did tell her that we'd discuss our test results
at home and decide on our vows before scheduling our next meeting.
That gives us a chance to go out and find that Coast Guard chaplain…
we did! Lola invited us to her 4th of July party and who happened
to arrive late in the evening? David Tubley, the CG chaplain!
We were actually pretty surprised to see him there and Oksana
took the initiative and made sure we made our way over to sit
next to him. After a few pleasantries, Oksana hit him with a big,
blunt question. "Will you marry us?"
our reasons and he seemed quite amenable to the whole situation.
In fact, he's already subbed in for Tracee once this summer. But
we still don't have any answer yet because he didn't have his
schedule with him (and he was just about to depart to Denali with
his son the next day.) We're waiting for word when he gets back.
Hopefully he'll be free on the 17th!
Last week Oksana gave a call to the seamstress that Jennifer recommended.
She took the dress to her and went through a fitting session.
It was cool, because Oksana went ahead and told her what she thought…
and it turns out that she was in complete agreement! The seamstress
also asked Oksana how much she paid for the dress - because in
her opinion it seemed far more expensive. Sounds like we got lucky
when she picked this particular dress manufacturer… The
seamstress has some other work to do, but she did pin up the dress
in all the right places and will get the work done in plenty of
time before the wedding.
I just placed an order for our wedding bands! After talking with
Ginger at Dockside Jewelers and seeing Mike and Leah's rings,
we also decided to get titanium wedding bands. We were down to
the wire, though, with only five weeks to go before the wedding.
Would the website from which we ordered them be able to get them
created in time?
After placing the order and exchanging (rapid!) e-mails with the
people at Absolute Titanium, our fears were put to rest. As Mike
and Leah told us, they are very helpful and very responsive. They
also assured us that we'll have the rings delivered in plenty
of time for the ceremony.
Take a look
at the first picture above - that's what our wedding bands will
a look at the second picture. That's a rough CAD creation of the
setting that Oksana designed for her engagement ring. Actually,
it's not exactly what she wanted - she would rather have the gold
and platinum ring bands join together underneath the setting.
She's already told them to make the changes, but it's been awhile
since we've heard back from Dockside. At this point we still have
to approve the final CAD creations before they can send them off
for the creation of a wax ring. That will then be sent to us and
she can try it on. If she likes it, they'll cast the real ring
and then Ginger will set the stone at Dockside. It's going to
be a great ring when it's finally done, but we've kind of given
up hope that she'll have it much before the wedding.
In order for Oksana's relatives to have a good chance of getting
a tourist visa for the United States, I needed to send them an
official letter of invitation. Actually, I had to write it to
the U.S. Embassy in Vladivostok. Time's running short, though,
so we really needed to get these letters into her parent's hands.
the letters, Oksana had me talk with Janna who's been involved
in the whole process many times. She told me what points I needed
to address in the letter as well as the fact that their odds of
getting a visa would be improved if we could get the letters notarized.
up at Oksana's bank and after I swore that the statements in the
letter were true, an employee stamped, dated, and photocopied
the letters for us. After that, we went to the Fed Ex office,
figuring that would be our best option for getting the letters
to Russia as fast as possible. Ha! Wrong. The best Fed Ex could
do would guarantee the package's arrival in two weeks -- for the
trivial cost of $91 U.S. dollars! It was funny, actually. After
the woman incredulously received confirmation from Fed Ex's international
desk about the insane cost, she told us that she wouldn't even
LET us pay her for the service. Try the post office!
In this case,
the USPS really came though for us. For $23, we were able to guarantee
3-5 day delivery all the way to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski. Not
bad, all things considered. But, just to be safe, we faxed the
copies of the letters to Oksana's brother. Well, we tried, anyway.
After spending half and hour at the University trying to get the
faxes to connect, the fax machine finally accepted out pages.
But when we got home and Oksana called her brother, he said that
only a single line of text came though. Fine. I just scanned the
dang thing and e-mailed it to her nephew! Problem solved.
Microsoft Word actually has "Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski"
in its spell-checker!
Well, we got burned by the whole Post Office stamp change thing.
A handful of our invitations destined for Juneau addresses were
returned because we were 3 cents short. It's funny, though, because
we sent out 16 invitations on July 5th, and all of them without
local addresses made it just fine. I guess they really need the
extra 3 cents to pay our local post office employees! At any rate,
it was one of the easier wedding details to correct. 21 cents
later and they were on their way again.
Oh, the cake is all Oksana's. That's just one of those things
that she knew exactly what she wanted and I knew exactly nothing
about. A couple weeks ago, Oksana left the house with a printout
culled from an Internet website, bound for a meeting with a cake
decorator. She returned about an hour later and suddenly everything
is all set up!
Did you know
that a wedding cake's price tag is based on the number of people
that will eat it? $1.85 per person, eh? Well, it'll sure be a
cheap cake if we find out that we don't have many friends!
also sure to mention that our reception is at the top of Mt. Roberts
and that the cake will need to be delivered to the tram. It was
then that we realized that this was the same cake decorator that
Tracy, our Mt. Roberts contact, told us would not deliver to them.
It turns out that she has had some difficulty in the past taking
a cake up there when the tram was packed full of tourists…
But the apparent business conflict is really just a misunderstanding.
She said she'd be happy to accompany the cake all the way to the
yet paid for our frosted masterpiece. We'll wait until the wedding
draws near so that we will have a better idea of the number of
By the way,
that second picture above is what the final product should look
like. (But without the bottom layer that's been scratched off
with a ball-point pen!)
Oksana's parents have by now received the "official"
invitations (the e-mailed ones, at least.) In a phone conversation
last week, Oksana learned that they have already booked their
tickets for Vladivostok. They should have arrived yesterday and
hopefully we'll know later tonight or not the U.S. Embassy will
grant them tourist visas.
a little worried about her nephew, Andrey. At the very last minute,
he decided that he wanted to attend our wedding, too. We were
of the understanding that he had to be starting college soon and
wouldn't have the time available to come to the U.S. Now, it's
not a problem on our end, but I don't know how the U.S. Embassy
will look upon his last minute decision. We managed to e-mail
them an invitation letter, but it's signed and dated two weeks
later than the others we sent. We also didn't have a chance to
notarize his, either. Will that make a difference? I hope not!
they do get visas, they'll likely get their tickets to Juneau
shortly thereafter. The plan is to have them stay for about three
weeks. This may impact our honeymoon travel times, though, because
if they decide to stay a bit after the wedding, Oksana would want
to be here to make sure they don't have any problems (they don't
wants to meet them as they get through customs in Anchorage. Chalk
that up as another unforeseen wedding expense…
On July 7th, Oksana was in Vancouver, British Columbia, for Anna
& Dima's wedding. For those who don't know her, Anna is a
college friend of Oksana's who's going to be a bridesmaid in our
the "big city," Oksana had a chance to visit some wedding
shops with Anna and some of their other girlfriends. She was able
to practically steal a veil for $20 U.S., and she came across
some nice decorations, as well. For under $60, she came home with
a silk flower wreath, 3 spools of ribbons in our wedding colors,
silk flowers for our cake decorations, a garter, and (of course)
the veil itself. She's such a thrifty shopper!
Uliya for haggling the proprietor down so far on the veil (I understand
he felt guilty for not getting Anna's previous orders correct.)
Some of the best news we've heard in a long time - David Tubley
let us know that he will be able to marry us! We learned this
from Oksana's trusty answering machine. She heard it first and
saved the message so that I could hear it, too. Wow. I was surprised
realize how much tension I had been holding on to while waiting
for his decision.
Oksana was kind enough to make the call to Tracee to break the
news to her. I listened from the other room and she did a wonderful
job of letting her down easy. For all her talk about how she can
be so blunt, Oksana is really just a big sweetheart!
David got back to me and we scheduled a meeting for Wednesday
at 5:30pm. I'm sure that we'll cover much of the same ground that
we did with Tracee, but that's okay. I was also impressed that
he told us to bring any INS information that we might have as
well. He's really on the ball!
we should do before that meeting is to try to get in touch with
one of the Chapel's wedding organizers. David, being the Coast
Guard chaplain, hasn't had much experience performing ceremonies
at this particular church…
Oksana ran into Linda, her seamstress, while at the mall this
weekend. She told her that she plans to work on her dress this
week. Oksana's excited!
...Which reminds me: I really need to get on the ball if I'm going
to have a tux for the wedding! Joe Nell (did I mention that I
asked him to be a groomsman? Maybe not...) and I need to get our
measurements taken and we need to see if the rental place will
have to order the tuxes or not. Also, my best man, Rob, is going
to e-mail me his measurements, too, so that I can pass them along.
Oksana wants to go me to the rental place. She get's final veto
power on the tuxedos -- no top hats or penguin tails for me!
Have you been reading this page and wondered about the CD-ROM
that I've been referring to? Well, I finally posted a copy of
the video clip on the Wedding Video Page. It's huge, though. Don't
say I didn't warn you.
Oksana got her pictures back from Anna & Dima's wedding in
Vancouver. Take a look at the bouquet that Anna's holding - Oksana
made that! She considered it practice for the work she's going
to do for herself at our wedding. Although Anna's bouquet got
many positive comments, I believe Oksana's will have a smaller
"handle" and the rose petals should be white with pink
edges. This depends, in part, on Safeway. Oksana placed an order
for some flowers with them for the Wednesday before the wedding,
but they won't guarentee what they'll be getting in. Instead,
they'll call Oksana up when the shipment arrives and let her get
first crack at whatever she wants.
Oksana's parents, along with her brother, niece and nephew, flew
to Vladivostok last week. On Wednesday morning, our invitations
in hand, they got in line outside the U.S. Embassy and waited
for their interviews.
was interviewed separately and, despite not having been able to
read our invitations, despite the fact that over 60% of the applicants
were denied, each of her family members seeking visas were approved!
Want to see what a perfect "official letter of invitation"
days later was the first time I saw Oksana start to panic about
the wedding. Suddenly she was put in the position of having to
organize and plan a ton of things for her family's arrival just
two, short weeks from now. She confided in me later that she truly
did not expect that anyone would get visas - and even if they
had, she thought it would only be her parents that would be approved.
Now we are
frantically scrambling to find a furnished apartment or a 3-week
house-sitting gig from August 2nd to August 20th. It's time to
put this web page to the test. Can anyone that's reading this
in Juneau help us out?!
This is important: Oksana and I have finally reached a decision
regarding our gift registry. Please take a moment to surf over
to our Gift Registry Page.
All the Little
Oksana spent HOURS this weekend searching around online for a
place to buy some of the little things we need for our wedding.
An etched cake knife and server. Silk rose petals. Champagne flutes
for toasting. A guest book. You know, all the stuff that women
have information genitically encoded from birth and for which
men don't have a clue... Anyway, she couldn't manage to find a
place that had everything we needed, so she attempted to buy from
two different sites.
See, one site let her enter in all the shipping and credit card
information before telling her that they don't ship to Alaska.
The other wanted $29 dollars for shipping and handling charges
- the total cost of the merchandise was only $32.
has made the options for shopping in places like Alaska much more
attractive over the past few years, but it still drives me crazy
when they don't list the United States Postal Service as a shipping
option. We're one of the 50 states, dammit!
Oksana and I invited Scott Foster, the University's Public Information
Officer to our wedding. Scott was gracious enough to consider
taking photos for us (but he wouldn't let me pay him!) I'm not
terribly interested in hiring a professional photographer to take
our wedding pictures - they charge hundreds of dollars up front
and then keep the negatives and charge for prints. I would much
rather get someone whom I know takes great pictures and give them
a huge supply film that I'll get at the end of the night. I have
plenty of faith in Scott's eye, and he has no idea how much I
appreciate the fact that he's willing to do this for us.
Many of the
pictures you see on the University of Alaska Southeast's website
can be attributed to him.
I've asked Noah to be one of my groomsmen, and he has accepted.
I asked Noah if he would be there to stand next to me in a monkey
suit and then I received confirmation that my brother, Kegan,
would be able to attend. Originally I had heard that Kegan couldn't
make it, but a couple days later, I' heard that he had wrangled
a free, round-trip ticket to Seattle. If he can make it to Juneau,
that will bring the total number of groomsmen up to four - which
might be a problem!
asked four bridesmaids to be in the ceremony with her: Liza, Anna,
Anya, and Sandra. Unfortunately, it looks like Anna (from Vancouver)
isn't going to be able to get a travel visa in time. If she can't
attend, that means Oksana has only 3 bridesmaids, while I still
have 4 groomsmen…
I was worried
that this might happen, but it's time to reserve the tuxedos --
Joe and I are going to get measured tonight. Just in case they
need to be shipped from out of town (or something), we groomsmen
need to be getting measured now or we'll end up wearing tuxedo
I don't regret
asking Noah to be my groomsman, though. I just hope there's a
way that everyone will be included.
Oksana's family is set to arrive next week and we found a place
for them to stay. I talked to Tish at the University about putting
them up in student housing and she thought that was a good idea.
$50/night for 3 weeks, that's about $1000. Expensive, but doable.
to call one of the housing "community advisors" to find
out about availability, though. Once I finally got her on the
phone, she had both good and bad news. The good news was that
we could get a fully furnished, 4-bedroom dorm for Oksana's family.
The bad news? They didn't have anything from August 2nd to August
7th - guess when they arrive?
We went ahead
and booked them a stay from the 7th to the 21st and asked to be
put on a waiting list in case someone cancelled for the weekend
of the 2nd. When they took my credit card number to hold the reservation,
I was told that the price would be $75 per night! What? Oh, $50/night
is the "extended stay" price. Well, I told them that
Tish told me $50 and the CA said "Oh, well, I guess if Tish
said it was okay…" Also, since Oksana's has 5 family
members showing up, they wanted to put one of them in another
dorm. I had to explain why that wouldn't be a good idea - they
don't speak English and we should try to keep them together. We
agreed that one of them could sleep on the couch in the living
next couple days we asked around about alternative housing opportunities.
A coworker, Gloria, looked into a potential house-sitting opportunity.
Oksana's boss, Barney, offered up his house for a little while
if we could figure out how to deal with Karl, his roommate. We
talked to Joe Sears about possibly rooming with his brother, Karl,
at Barney's while her family stayed at his condo. We had a lot
of options worth thinking about, but nothing settled upon, when
someone at the dorms called back. Someone cancelled and they had
another dorm available from the 2nd to the 7th! Sweet!
Now the plan
is to have them remain at the dorms for their entire stay. This
works out well for them and us because they'll get a furnished
apartment with a full kitchen and living room. The only hitch
is that for the first five days they'll have to stay in a "double"
dorm. Two rooms, four beds - they'll have to double up. On the
7th, they'll be able to move into a "single" dorm. Four
rooms, four beds. Should be more comfortable.
Even though many people are going to be able to make it to our
wedding, there are still quite a few that won't. How can you be
at the ceremony without actually being there? Well, on the Internet
say… you wanted to stream a video broadcast live over the
Internet? Who would know how to do that? A Digital Media Specialist,
of course! Working as a geek among geeks has its advantages.
the Lake is situated only about 200-300 feet from the last building
on the UAS campus. Guess what the UAS campus has? Wireless access
points in every building. If we can extend the range by just a
little bit, we'll have everything we need to do a live broadcast
of the wedding over the Internet. All you'll need to view the
ceremony in a postage-stamp-sized window is the free RealPlayer!
has agreed to help me out with the physical networking issues.
Looks like we finally get to check out that Pringles can solution
I've been hearing about on the 'Net. Mona Yarnall also works at
UAS computer center with Joe. She's in charge of all the servers
and doesn't think it'll be much of a problem to set up her end
of the deal. All that remains for me to do is come up with a computer
that has video capture capability, the free RealEncoder software,
and a video camera.
a lot of factors to consider and the time for planning all this
out is running short. I suppose that we might not be able to get
everything to work as planned, but at the very least I can guarantee
that we'll record the ceremony and can always encoder the video
at a later date.
If you can't
be at the Chapel on August 17th at 3pm (Alaska time), you might
want to be at your computer, instead! I'll make sure to put up
an obvious link on the web page that will easily start the Real
of the Groom
My mom is currently having a good ol' time at the beach while
I'm stressing about the next update on my web page - how fair
is that?! I gave her a call the other day to ask her opinion on
some things and what did she do? She told me about even more things
we have to do to get ready for the wedding!
most concerned with? Something that I barely remembered that we're
supposed to do - have a rehearsal dinner. Tradition dictates that
the parents of the groom pay for our dinner. And Oksana's parents'
dinner. And the wedding party's dinner… I warned her that
it was going to be expensive! Now all we need to do is find a
restaurant in Juneau that has a separate dining room that can
seat about 20 people. Wow. Big dinner.
My mom also
gave Oksana some advice on what kind of flowers to get for decorations,
but you know what? I couldn't tell you much about that.
the Schiable House
I had to cancel the university's Schiable House because of a lack
of interest. Really, only my mom and Don expressed interest in
staying there for $50/night. If they stayed the 4 nights that
they were planning to, that would recover $200 of the $1000 we're
liable for. Um… after consulting my wallet briefly (oh,
so briefly!), we decided that they could probably stay somewhere
I felt really
bad about canceling the reservations, too. Tish told me that she'd
turned away four separate groups who wanted to reserve the Schiable
House during the same week. Ouch. I apologized profusely and even
offered to eat the cost, but Tish said that it would be okay.
And, luckily, I got a call back from Roxie a couple hours later
telling me not to worry - she'd fortunately kept a few names of
those that tried to reserve the house. They jumped right back
on the reservation bandwagon after we cancelled, so (I hope) everyone
you don't mind staying in a hotel, do you?
I love the Internet. I hopped online last week and quickly found
the site that had everything you need to know about Alaska marriage
licenses. The process was fairly simple - print out the forms,
fill them out, and mail them in. Oksana and I did that and we
mailed them off that same day.
blood test for marriages in the state of Alaska, but we do need
to sign and pickup our marriage license in person. No problem.
They had a field on the form where you can slip in the date you
expect to show up at their office. I've already got my lunch break
reserved next Friday to do just that - if only I can find the
The Holy Man
On July 17th (You can see how well I'm keeping my updates under
control!) Oksana and I met with David Tubley after work. If you
remember, Dave is the Coast Guard chaplain that we had asked to
marry us during Lola's 4th of July party. Since the Chapel by
the Lake is right next to the university where Oksana and I both
work, it was the logical place to meet.
We sat in
the sanctuary and talked with Dave for about a half an hour. We
went over the ceremony, but not in great detail like we had with
Tracee, earlier. We talked about whether or not to light a unity
candle (or jump over a broom, or break a glass), how to handle
a translator, our vows, what kind of attire he would wear, the
I think that
we were hoping to get a little more accomplished during that meeting.
Oksana and I only have a vague idea of what the ceremony should
be like, and it would be helpful to have someone there (our parents?)
to answer some of the "important" questions. We were
able to figure a few things out, though.
No unity candle. The ceremony will be long enough if we decide
to translate certain parts.
· Oksana will say her vows in Russian.
· We'll take pictures afterwards, before we leave for the
· The photographer and videographer can go about there
· It's a big room, but we won't need to use the sound system.
We still need to decide on who will do the music, what the chaplain
should wear (military uniform? Robes? Super-Hero costume? He did
claim to have everything…), and the exact order of events.
Dave didn't seem too interested in attending neither the rehearsal
dinner nor the reception (he's not a family friend, after all),
we still offered, even encouraged him to come. Afterwards, again,
Oksana and I both remarked on how much we liked him and we're
still so happy that he agreed to marry us!
another meeting with him about a week before the ceremony and
again (of course) for the rehearsal the day before.
It seems like we're finally making progress on Oksana's engagement
ring. I feel really awful that I proposed to her six months ago
and she STILL doesn't have a ring to show for it (plus, good looking
guys are probably always hitting on her because they don't see
a ring!) Still, I think she's going to have an awesome ring when
this is all over. She did a great job designing the band and setting…
we went back to Dockside Jewelers to see the latest computer rendering
of the ring. After about a half hour of clarifying questions,
Oksana was put at easy enough to give the go ahead. We were told
that the CAD file could simply be e-mailed down to Washington
and that they could make a wax (more like a soft plastic) ring
the next day. Considering the wonders of FedEx, we expected to
have something to try on by now.
delays with Dockside are frustrating, but I think the owner, Ginger,
is sincere when she gives us these time frames. Sure, they always
come out to be longer than expected, but I think that's because
she's an eternal optimist.
At any rate,
Oksana called again a day or so ago and asked about the wax carving
- no, it isn't in yet - but it should be soon! Once she tries
that on, it should be a simple matter to decide if it's what she
wants. If so, they'll cast the metal and FedEx the setting to
us in under three days! …which means we should get it in
a couple weeks. It's a race to see what comes in first - The engagement
ring or the wedding bands!
By the way,
I wanted to post some pictures of the corrected computer rendering,
but Ginger has yet to send them. Sigh.
On Tuesday, a scant five days ago, Oksana and I met with Bonnie,
the Chapel's wedding coordinator. Although we spent a half hour
roaming the sanctuary, I don't think we really got much accomplished.
especially disheartened that we wouldn't be able to move some
of the stuff they have up front - namely a piano, drumset, choir
seating, and the baptismal-thingie. On the other hand, we can
bring in plants to hide things, I guess.
pretty flexible on most things. I told her that we wanted to get
in there all over the place and set up multiple cameras and at
least one computer with a wireless antennae poking out one of
the windows. Sure, no problem! But you can't move the drums! And
don't have your photographer roaming all over the place - he'll
distract the guests!
a few things she helped us to consider. Where and if we should
have a receiving line. Do we need a white aisle carpet? Where
will people stand? Will anyone be needing to use the elevator
(to avoid all of six steps)? Where are the bride and groom's dressing
rooms? Who's doing the music? (THE MUSIC! ARGH!) Stuff like that.
A lot of
this just won't be figured out until we have the rehearsal (4pm,
August 16th!). When that finally comes around, we'll have everyone
there - Bonnie, Lola, David, our parents, and Oksana and I. Duck!
The opinions are gonna fly!
Oh, and we
also have to pay for the church's involvement which amounts to
about $475 right now - more if we need someone to do the music.
Updates are getting hopelessly
out of order as I fall behind in posting to this site. Please
bear in mind that some of these events are not presented in chronological
order. You may not know in what order things are happening, but
at least you know what what's going on…!
and Naturalization Service
I stopped by the INS office last week to pick up all the necessary
forms that we'll have to fill out for our marriage. Ouch! Talk
about unexpected costs! Once we sign the marriage license, we
then begin our journey through the INS's forest of red tape.
out: To complete Oksana's paperwork, we'll need to mail the Anchorage
office an I485 form ($255), an I-130 form ($130), and an I-131
form ($110). Also, although not required, we'll also want to submit
an Employment Authorization form #765 ($120) and EVEN, two years
down the road, form #751 (that simply removes the conditions on
Now our simple,
$35 marriage license is going to cost us upwards of $650. As I
that I found out while at the INS office: Once we're married,
Oksana is not supposed to leave the country until we have filled
out and received approval for the I-131 form -- and that takes
at least two months! The honeymoon to Fiji is now out of the question,
but it looks like Puerto Rico still might work because it's an
Oksana and I were hit with some bad news simultaneously from two
different fronts. It seems that my Best Man and her Maid of Honor
were going to have to cancel their participation in our wedding
for different reasons.
me up to tell me that he recently had to take his car in for a
smog check. For those that don't know, California requires that
your car pass these clean air checkups or you're not allowed to
drive it. Guess what? His didn't make it. He ended up spending
hundreds of dollars to replace a faulty sensor (the emissions
were actually good enough to pass the test, can you believe that?)
and he no longer has enough in the bank to pay for a plane ticket
about it and I decided to pay for his ticket myself. It's that
important to me that he be here for the ceremony. We spent the
next two, frustrating days trying to nail down his vacation time
and book tickets online. It was difficult to get a good price
because we were right on the cusp of the 14-day, cheap-ticket
deadline. With Oksana's help at the keyboard, we finally did get
a decent price, but Rob will arrive a day later than I had hoped
(because he'll have to overnight at SeaTac.)
Maid of Honor, Liza, has different reasons for not being able
to make it. It seems that everyone else at her workplace is going
to be either on sick leave or on vacation. When we found out that
she wouldn't be able to take Friday the 16th off from work, we
tried to convince her to at least book a red-eye flight on Friday
night. She said it just wasn't worth it to fly all the way across
the country and then back again the next day.
important to us that our best friends in the whole world share
the happiest day of our lives with us. We've spent some time trying
to convince Liza of this and she has at least said that she'll
think about it. Hopefully, she'll come to her senses - otherwise
Oksana will be down to just two bridesmaids (to my four groomsmen.)
Good News, Too!
As I was walking out of the door on Sunday night, I got a phone
call from our friend Mike Maas. He was calling with the GREAT
news that he'd be able to help us out with the music at our wedding.
I may have
mentioned before that we were trying to get Mike to at least play
for us at the ceremony if not DJ the reception, too, but he had
prior commitments and had told us that he couldn't make it. Well,
come to find out, his plans have changed and he's now going to
be back in town on the magic date of August the Seventeenth. And
this comes right as Oksana and I are racking our brains about
trying to find someone (whom we don't know) to do our music, too!
At any rate,
nothing is set in stone yet. Mike is going to stop by our place
tonight to discuss the possibilities. Anything he can help us
with will be great!
Let me take
this opportunity to give him a plug: Check out his site at www.michaelmaasmusic.com!
Oksana's parents arrived on Friday. An already crazy day of preparation
got even crazier as soon as they stepped off the plane.
ahead, managed to switch schedules with a coworker so that she
could have Saturday off. Unfortunately, that meant that she now
had to work Thursday and Friday - which didn't give us much time
before their arrival to do all the little things.
But it was
okay, because our supervisors were very understanding and gave
us extra time on our Friday lunch break to run some errands. In
two-and-a-half hours we managed to stop by the Gumdrop House to
pay for our wedding cake ($160), paid our rent ($825), went to
Costco to buy wedding supplies and food for Oksana's family ($267),
and then sped to student housing to pay for the room ($950) and
drop off the groceries.
in at over $2002, that was easily my most expensive lunch break
ever! (And we only ate Costco hotdogs, too!) On the plus side,
we will be reimbursed for the housing.
(I got off 2 hours before Oksana), I had to run home and work
with Rob to get his ticket purchased. That didn't leave me enough
time to vacuum my Jeep, take some household items over to the
dorms, and to make her family's beds as I'd hoped. Oksana got
off work at 7pm and really only had time to change clothes and
try to calm down a little bit before we left for the airport.
up about ten minutes after eight and waited for the right plane
to let loose its cargo. It didn't take long before Oksana's family
was hugging her and shaking my hand.
that I was nervous about our initial meeting. Who wouldn't be?
Here I am, meeting my fiancée's family for the first time
(only two weeks before our wedding) and I can't even communicate
effectively with them!
to report that my worries were unfounded. I liked them, and I
think they liked me, too. While we waited for their luggage, I
stood around and listened as Oksana caught up with them. I was
even able to understand what they were talking about sometimes…
As we headed
out to the car(s), someone realized that the family camcorder
was missing. Oksana ran back in to see if a flight attendant could
get it off the plane and while she was gone, I was able to ascertain
the real reason for their worry: No one was absolutely sure that
they didn't leave it at the Anchorage airport. At any rate, Oksana
returned empty handed and we're still trying to recover the camera.
up on the way home because we couldn't fit everyone and their
luggage into the same car.
niece, nephew, and I were away from their (overly) critical parents,
they opened up a little bit and started trying out their English.
We decided to stop at McDonald's on the way home for dinner and
had quite a fun time trying to figure out which sauce Lena wanted
with her McNuggets! Good thing it was slow and that the person
behind the counter was a friend with whom I play Ultimate!
we got to the dorms and spent the rest of the evening settling
in and socializing. Oksana's father presented me with an early
wedding gift - a gold Russian watch! It was very generous and
I hope to find a suitable watchband for it before the wedding.
Also, in stereotypical fashion, I was asked to drink shots with
Oksana's father and brother during dinner. After two blasts of
vodka (when I toasted to "family" - Oksana's father
joked: "Mafia?!") my eyelids were getting quite droopy…
But then it was almost midnight and, as I said before, it had
been a crazy day.
I got home late, but all-in-all it was a good day. I met her family
and it wasn't a terrifying experience (at least not for me - Oksana's
was as nervously hyper as I've EVER seen her!) Now if we can only
keep them happy while we have to work next week…
As the wedding day draws near, Oksana is spending more and more
time on the phone and running all over town when she's not working.
On Thursday, BEFORE NOON, she had:
Gone to Hallmark
to buy a cake knife and server set,
Called the Limo service and ironed out the times and cost (~$180),
Scheduled an appointment with Linda for the weekend to try on
Contacted Liza about buying and mailing silk rose petals, a guest
book, and film,
Contacted my mom in order to have her bring some cream-colored
candles for decorations, and
Scheduled a time to pay for the cake.
By virtue of the fact that I'm the one writing this web page,
I'm aware that it may come across as if I'm the one doing all
the planning. That's certainly not the case! Oksana is working
very hard by my side to help make this the best wedding ever!
(Okay, well, OUR best wedding ever, anyway.)
On Wednesday, July 31st, Oksana and I made yet another trip up
Mt. Roberts to speak with Tracy about our reservation for the
reception. This time, we took Lola along with us (as our wedding
coordinator) to help us think of anything we might have missed.
We all talked
quite a bit about the ceremony and reception plans as we went
up the tram car. Lola hadn't been with us when we met with Bonnie,
so we filled her in on many of the ceremony's elements. Once we
arrived at the top, we located Tracy and sat down to talk about
half hour or so was fairly pleasant. Lola went over all the arrangements
on when to bring up the decorations, where the tables would be
located, and she even helped us pick out the wine (of which we're
not big drinkers.) The second half hour went downhill - it was
time to talk money.
have to understand that Oksana and I'd already met with Tracy
once - and Oksana met with him twice. In those two meeting, when
we talked about prices, we both left with the idea that we'd be
paying about $18 per person (plus whatever we wanted to spend
on alcohol). Not bad. 100 people at $18 each = $1800. Expensive,
before drawing up the contract he mentions sales tax. And the
18% gratuity. And the linen service. And the cost to use their
audio system. Suddenly we're faced with a contract that's very
close to $2500. What the hell just happened?
disappeared into his office to print out the contract, Oksana
started to fume. Lola got nervous and excused herself while we
talked about the money and when Tracy came back we let him know
that we were not happy. Granted, we should have thought about
the sales tax and gratuity, but I was offended that he didn't
mention the total cost at one of the preliminary meetings. The
whole thing smacks of a bait-and-switch.
was still out of the room, we asked for a couple changes to the
contract. 1) We reduced the amount of wine from 20 bottles to
14 -- and if our guests would like more, we got it in writing
that they can buy it at the discounted price ($15 / bottle instead
of $30.) 2) We also changed a statement in the contract that stipulated
that we would pay for at least the 91 people we were expecting
- even if fewer actually showed up. With the new wording, we now
have up to 3 days before the reception to provide them with a
"contractible" number of guests.
more expensive than we thought it would be, but then… so
is every other aspect of our wedding!
the contact and paying a 25% deposit ($591), we headed back down
the mountain. We parted ways with Lola at the bottom and won't
see her again until just a few days before the wedding - she'll
be on vacation.
to take a moment to offer a sincere "Thank You" to Lola
for what she did for us up on Mt. Roberts - Hold on, though. It
might not be for what you think. You see, as we're being broadsided
by more and more things to do, it's so nice to hear Lola say things
like "Oh, don't worry about that. That's my job!" I'll
tell you what: Even if she's lying through her teeth, it is SO
nice to hear those that right now…
Oksana and I are afraid to speculate on what the final cost of
this wedding might be. As you might have noticed, we're keeping
a running total at the top of this web page. It's a little low
right now for a variety of reasons, the most important of which
is that we haven't had to pay "the big bills" yet. Also,
some of the larger chunks that we have had to pay (her dress,
her family's airlines tickets* and housing) have been reimbursed.
For those that are interested in this sort of thing, we're keeping
an Excel spreadsheet updated and we'll post it after all the wedding
and honeymoon expenses have been accounted for. (We're putting
this all on our Alaska Airlines visa. Miles, miles, miles!)
* My credit
card bill came in the other day with 5 airlines tickets purchased
on the same day in July. Neither Oksana nor I could figure out
where they'd come from and I was gearing myself up for a huge
fight with Bank of America over my stolen credit card number.
I got as far as work that morning before Oksana remembered that
those were her family's tickets (duh!) and that it sure would
be nice if I wouldn't deny those charges. Gee, do you think our
sleep deprivation is catching up to us, yet?
pressed for time, the 2nd draft is the 1st thing to go...
Live on the
Joe and I hooked up a couple directional antennas and walked over
to the Chapel with a laptop computer. With a simple, unplanned
setup we were able to get a sporadic, but decent signal from the
Hendrickson Building's main access point. With a new access point
set up outside the Whitehead Building, we were able to get a practically
flawless 11Mbit/sec connection! Looks like the infrastructure
is there for us to be able to stream our ceremony on the Internet
- we'll do a test this weekend at my bachelor party.
planning to view the ceremony over the Internet, I suggest that
you tune in some time this weekend (8/10 to 8/11) and make sure
that you can view our test stream.
That silly Oksana. She went and lost some weight before the wedding!
Now the alterations to her dress aren't quite right - it's still
a little loose in the chest. Linda re-measured her and promised
to get the dress done soon!
Almost there. Almost there. Oksana got this weird, 2-part ring
made of wax on Saturday and wore it for the rest of the day. Ultimately,
she still wasn't quite satisfied with the location that the bands
crossed over, but at this point it's almost too late to make changes
and still get the ring by the wedding. We bit the bullet and I
called up Ginger at Dockside Jewelers. She placed the order and
we should have the real deal next week!
I keep e-mailing Absolute Titanium and they assure me that they'll
get our wedding bands to us on time. Currently they're scheduled
to ship out via FedEx (2 to 3 day delivery) on Monday. That's
cutting it close - FedEx almost always adds a day or two to Alaska.
I'm starting to worry… but they think it's okay. (Oksana
wants me to threaten to stop payment if they don't get here in
I found out that my brother, Kegan, happened to be visiting my
grandparents in Florida. I finally got my webcam hooked up, so
we dialed them into a videoconference using NetMeeting. It was
great - they got to meet Oksana and we got to meet Bonnie and
Lily (my first, one and only niece!) It was then that I learned
that Kegan definitely had a standby ticket and that he would definitely
be at the wedding.
Kegan, Noah, and Rob all got their measurements phoned in to The
Wedding Shoppe. I gotta give my props to that little out-of-the-home-business!
Unlike many of the laid-back (downright SLACKER) Juneau businesses,
The Wedding Shoppe has called me each time there's an update of
information. Thanks for keeping us in the loop!
I've had a great time hanging out with Oksana's parents this last
week! Despite the language barrier, I think we get along quite
- she's Oksana's 12-year-old niece and quite rambunctious. Janna
called before the family had even arrived with an offer from a
family who would like to take her for a week or so. They have
a daughter of their own and thought it would be a good idea for
Lena to hang out for a bit. Surprisingly, she was totally into
it - to the point of going over there just one day later! No warming
to the U.S. was needed for her!
Jr. - He's 17 and Oksana's very tall nephew. On Saturday, I had
an ultimate tournament and Oksana dropped him off to watch the
tail end of it. I had a few friends from work introduce themselves,
but I don't think Andrey was quite confident enough in his English
skills yet to be comfortable in that situation. He did warm up
to Peter's young son, though, and played a little bit of one-on-one
soccer with him.
after-game BBQ, many of the ultimate players wanted to talk to
Andrey about Russia and Alaska. He didn't always understand what
was being asked of him, but I think he started to open up a bit.
was a long, sunny day!) we went to play Frisbee Golf. Andrey tagged
along and there was a group of about 8 or 9 of us playing together.
It was really amazing how quickly we were able to explain the
game to him and how quickly he was able to give us his scores!
And I guess he really liked it, too, because Oksana said he raved
about it when he got home…
taken to hanging out with the family with whom Lena was originally
set up. There's a girl about his age, Morgan, who speaks very
good Russian - she was a Rotary Exchange student, I hear. Most
of his time is spent with her, an Italian Rotary Exchange student,
and Vanya (another Russian friend who goes to UAS.)
He also makes
good use of a laptop we checked out for him from UAS. Apparently
the whole family has been using the wireless network connection
to watch Russian TV programs, read the papers, and surf, surf,
surf! Keep in mind that connections in Russia are about what ours
were like 5 years ago… They're in broadband heaven right
now! And, for what it's worth, I think Andrey was quite impressed
with all the gadgetry we have at Media Services.
Sr. - He's Oksana's brother and 19 years her senior. Andrey has
been a little restless while Oksana and I have been working. What
does he do with his time? Fiddle with our cars. He's already given
my Jeep a (bleak) diagnostic and has given Oksana's little Mazda
a minor tune-up. (Gee, it's going to be nice to have an engineer
in the family - too bad he lives on the other side of the Pacific
Ocean!) We also checked out a TV and VCR from Media Services and
bought them cable TV for a month. (I guess the Discovery Channel,
Sports Networks, and Travel Channel all speak a universal language.)
Lena got adventurous and went to see the movie Signs with us.
Oksana was going to translate the ENTIRE movie to them, but 5
minutes in I told us that the people sitting around us were about
to riot. Instead, she told them about key parts. For the most
part I liked the movie - I thought the director did a great job
building the suspense. That was lost on Lena and Andrey, though.
Could that be the language barrier? Societal differences? Interesting
there's Oksana's Parents - Boris and Nadia. It's truly unfortunate
that I feel like I know them the least of all. For the most part
they're both quieter than the rest of the family - but that's
probably because the language barrier is harder for them. Boris
does have a sense of humor, though. That I can tell! And Nadia,
if not exactly conversational, seems to be very attentive.
are good people.
is being posted late and out of chronological order. Keep in mind
that this update covers the penultimate week before the wedding.
It should be read after the entry dated August 9th, below.)
At lunch on Friday, Oksana and I had to jet around all over the
place. First, we stopped by the bank so that I could deposit a
check for $1000 from her parents. Welcome money, because it reimbursed
us for their plane tickets and housing. Now I can pay off some
of the other wedding expenses on our Alaska Airlines visa to make
room for even more wedding expenses. Love those miles!
we went through the McDonald's drive-thru and ate on the way to
our next stop - the Division of Social Services, Department of
Vital Statistics. I had sent in our marriage application a couple
weeks before and had called earlier in the week to make sure they
were ready for us. Once there, all we had to do was swear with
our right hand up that all the information was true, then sign
on the dotted line. Now we have the official license and a couple
of decorative ones to sign at the ceremony.
downtown, I decided to stop by Front Street Photo for some film.
Before lunch, I asked Scott what film he'd like to shoot on. We
opted for a wide range of slide film - ten rolls running the gamut
of ASA50 to ASA400. Front Street Photo even threw in an extra
roll since I'd purchased ten! Once we got back to the university
(a half hour late!), I dropped the film off at Scott's office.
He asked if I would like him to actually shoot all that film --
of course! Go ahead, give me 396 photos! I'll scan them all!
Oksana picked up her wedding dress on Thursday. After all those
fittings and fixings, it's now tailored perfectly! The cost for
all that work? $57.79. Not too shabby.
Under pressure from Anna's inability to get a visa (a Russian
in Canada trying to get into the U.S. whose passport is caught
up in red tape turned out to be impossible - go figure) and Liza's
disappointing cancellation, Oksana asked two Juneau friends, Leah
Heiman and Jennifer Berg, if they would fill in as her bridesmaids.
we've been scrambling to find them dresses and get them invited
to all the wedding party events. We asked Liza to express ship
her dress for Jennifer. Jennifer is shorter than Liza, but maybe
we can get Linda (Oksana's seamstress) to fix things up. Oksana
and I then ordered another dress from Nordstrom's for Leah. Hopefully
the only dress size they had left (in that color/combination)
will be close enough to fit her.
I talked with Jeff who's back working hard on the east coast.
More bad news. He suspects that there isn't going to be any way
he can finish up what he's doing over there in time to get back
to Juneau for the wedding. After batting around ideas, he decided
to go ahead and book his open-ended plane ticket for the 15th.
If he can stay alive while putting in a few 20-hour days, he just
might make it back on time.
hope he can. There are other people I can ask to help out with
the wedding video, but Jeff actually WANTED to do it. To me, that
makes all the difference in the world. I told Jeff that if he
could find a way to make it, I would give him enough Alaska Airlines
miles to buy another round trip ticket. Hopefully that's all the
incentive he'll need to finish his work in Boston. That and a
ton of caffeine, anyway.
Don't trust Amazon.com. I used them to order some gifts for my
groomsmen, but now it doesn't look like they're going to get here
on time. This is despite the fact that all the items "usually
ship within 24 hours," despite the fact that I intentionally
skipped the free shipping option and chose the "ship items
individually" thereby selecting the most expedient (and most
expensive) option instead. Bottom line: No matter what you do,
some things will always remain out of your control.
Michael Maas confirmed that he would be here to help us with our
wedding. We had a meeting with him on Thursday after work to discuss
what he could do for us. Thankfully, it was more than we expected.
First, while we tried to decide what music to use during the ceremony,
Mike would put together some suggestions for our first dance's
song. He was also going to use anything we didn't select as a
play list for the rest of the dances.
He told me
that I would have to find some sheet music for him if he was to
play anything traditional during the wedding. I figured that the
church was likely to have that stuff, so I offered to look for
it there. What do we need? The requisite Wedding March, of course.
I like the idea of using Perhaps Pacabel's Canon, too, since we
used it on the invitation music video. The only thing left to
decide was the recessional's music. Neither of us had much of
a clue, but Mike said that he would scour the Internet to see
what other people usually choose.
Liza, not being able to come as the Maid of Honor, hasn't given
up on our wedding. She sent Oksana a big package in the mail that
included a whole variety of useful items. Ribbons, hundreds of
silk flower petals (for our flower girl), Poloroid Joycam film,
a guest book, and a wedding present. Thanks Liza!
I received an e-mail from my mother asking if I had already reserved
a place for them to stay (since I had cancelled their reservations
at the Schiable House.) D'oh! Was I supposed to do that? Oh, and
what about the restaurant? Had I made reservations for the rehearsal
dinner yet? Dang it!
I set out about those tasks that very same day. I called student
housing and was able to book another whole dorm for my side of
the family - this time a "double" (two rooms, four beds.)
Again, I got the $50/night price so 5 people staying there cost
only $250 for five days. No hotel in town would give you that
downtown and asked around about private rooms for our dinner.
Chinooks, in the Goldbelt Hotel seemed a little unorganized and
the food wasn't that great (we heard). The Hanger by the Wharf's
Ballroom required a minimum of 30 people (and even then had a
$120 fee tacked onto the dinner tab!) The Prospector (T.K. McGuire's)
seemed to have the best deal around - a whole room to ourselves,
good food at decent prices, and they were flexible on our arrival
time to boot! Problem solved.
I gave my
mom a quick call that evening to let her know everything was taken
care of. At this point it is so nice to scratch things off our
The Kadachigov's are bored and I can sympathize. Here they are,
in the United States of America for the first time, for 3 weeks,
and they're stuck in a university dorm. Well, that's not true,
really, but they're starting to feel that way.
it. None of them really speak any English. They don't have a car
- and even if they did, they don't know where to go. Tourist brochures
are in English. Hell, maps and road signs are in English. Essentially
they feel that they need to rely on Oksana for anything outside
their dorm's walls.
Oksana to the rescue. It's been very taxing for her to go to them
after work every day and entertain them. Whenever there is English
spoken, she needs to translate everything (and she's always the
last to finish her meal.)
She's a trooper,
though. She's been taking her nephew, Andrey, downtown to hang
out with some friends that he met. She's been shuttling Lena back
and forth to a host family's house. And she spends a lot of time
running her brother and parents around to defuse their boredom
bombs. Shopping for shoes. Shopping for groceries. Lunch. Dinner.
Sightseeing. Oksana needs a honeymoon more than I do.
Speaking of honeymoons, Oksana and I officially have one now!
Months ago my grandparents sent us a resort book filled with options,
but until recently we didn't know everything about the INS paperwork
we'd have to fill out (we still don't!) Luckily we hadn't made
any rash, out-of-country reservations yet because they told us
Oksana could not leave the U.S. until we'd received all the relevant
paperwork back from the INS (at least two months after the marriage!)
Our solution? The U.S. Virgin Islands.
to stay at the Bluebeard's Beach Club resort in St. Thomas. Now,
I have to hand it to my grandfather. He worked long and hard on
extremely short notice to get us those reservations. Then, he
spent Friday night and (very) early Saturday morning trying desperately
to get a hold of me. You see, he had only a 1-hour hold on the
room - and because I was at my bachelor's party, he never did
get in touch with me. But he made the right decision anyway -
book it, Dano!
because of my bachelor's party (more on that later), I asked Oksana
to figure out all our flight information - that same day. Again,
we found ourselves down to that 14-day cutoff for the cheap airline
fairs. It was either buy them today or pay an arm and a leg tomorrow.
spent hours online trying to find the best deals, and guess what!
She managed to get us all the way from Juneau, Alaska to St. Thomas
for less than $900. So what, you ask? That's less than $900 for
both of us, pal. Yeah, I thought so, too.
We do have
some complications, though. Our travel to and from Los Angeles
is free, or nearly so - Oksana cached in 40,000 Alaska Airlines
miles to get us there. We'll have to spend most of Saturday in
LA, too, but that's fine. Rob, Noah and Julie are looking forward
to hanging out with us. Then, on the trip back (on my BIRTHDAY!),
we have a whole day and a half - again in L.A. Oh, darn it all.
We'll just have to go to Knott's Berry Farm or something.
We can't wait.
Party (the whole damn weekend!)
Boy-oh-boy was my bachelor's party fun!
admit it right up front: It's not for everyone. How many other
people would really want to spend 48 hours playing computer games,
eating junk food, and watching movies? It's not everyone's cup
of tea… but it's mine.
what, though? It wasn't what I was doing that made it such a good
weekend. It's what I wasn't doing - wedding stuff. You hear that?
That's the sound of Arlo exhaling a contented sigh…
The LAN party
officially started right after work on Friday evening, but I didn't
even get there until after 7pm. And "there" switched
from Joe Sears's condo at the last minute because he wasn't able
to get neither a DSL nor a cable modem installed in time. Barney
was generous enough to let us use his cabin (while he was on vacation.)
started showing up and we had a bunch of computers together, things
got rolling. We had two computers from the university going, Joe
Nell's computer, Joe Sears's computer (which he had purchased
from Costco just that day), Karl's computer, Mike's computer,
and my own computer. That first night we weren't able to get Quake
III running properly so we mostly played Starcraft and Midtown
Madness. For a couple hours we even projected Worms World Party
up on a big screen and passed a wireless keyboard and mouse around
on that couch. Nuthin' but fun.
night we had Joe, Joe, Karl, Cody, Mike, Mike, Mark, Bill, and
I playing at one time or another. Jeff Haskell even video conferenced
in for a bit via NetMeeting (we never did get around to testing
out the streaming video server.) Throughout the night people trickled
out or fell asleep in random places until only Joe Nell and I
Saturday morning, we left Barney's place for the airport - my
best man, Rob, was due to arrive. Bleary-eyed, we picked him up
and Joe took us out for breakfast. It wasn't until 10am that we
got back to Barney's and started waking people up. It was too
late for me, though. I had to go home to bed.
I managed to sleep from 11am to about 4pm. It wasn't near enough
sleep, and to make matter worse, I was frequently woken by phone
calls from Oksana about the progress being made on the airlines
reservations. Still, by 5pm I was ready to play some more games!
we went back to the Gaming Den with Andrey and again played most
of the way into the night. Joe Nell fell asleep early and slept
all night in Karl's bed - he'd been up the entire day because
he had to work that afternoon. The rest of us tapered off around
3am or so. But we were back and ready to play again on Sunday
morning at 11am!
And 'lo and
behold - Joe finally figured out why Quake III wasn't networking
properly. We installed the Superheroes mod and away we went -
before I knew it, the sun had set and I was all bug-eyed and had
cramps in my hands from playing so long. Time flies when you're
fraggin' your friends…
things up on Sunday night by watching the special features on
the Lord of the Rings DVD and then the whole of The 13th Warrior
while we deconstructed our computers. About 20 trips to our cars
later (in the pouring rain down a slippery boardwalk!) we were
finally ready to head home.
It was around
midnight when I dropped Andrey off at the dorms, hauled all my
own computer stuff (plus the UAS equipment required for the streaming
server) up to my apartment by myself, and then slept the sleep
of the dead.
lack of strippers, it had truly been a great weekend.
I woke up
this morning feeling fully rested for the first time in a long
time. The weekend-long bachelor party really took a lot of sleep
away, but last night I managed to get about eight, good hours.
stopped by in his huge tour bus and dropped off the CD he'd been
working on. These were the tracks, he said, that we should consider
using for the first dance(s) at the reception. I promised to listen
to them with Oksana and we would render our decision later. Mike
also tasked me with finding sheet music for our processional and
recessional - hopefully the church would have it. I mentioned
that we had a meeting at the church later in the day with Dave
Tubley, and Mike agreed to stop by after he got off work to see
if he could find the sheet music. His was worried that he wouldn't
have time to practice any complicated music before our big day
at the end of the week!
remained of the morning I put a ton of things into my "to
do list" on my PDA and then set about hooking my computer
up all over again. Once I finally got it online I was able to
send out e-mails again. First on the list was a big thank you/confirmation
to my grandfather who made the resort reservations for us in St.
While I was
still tinkering online, Rob showed up to hang out for the day.
He's staying with Joe Sears at his condo just down the road, but
Joe still has to work this week (thank God I don't!) Rob decided
to hang out with me while I run a million errands.
of Rob's arrival, it started to pour. Now, you have to understand
that it rains a lot in Juneau, but not like this! We usually get
a depressing, perpetual mist. It was really dumping on us - and
it certainly wasn't helping my argument that Rob should leave
sunny California and move back to Alaska some day…
Time to run
errands: First stop, the post office. Now, it doesn't take me
long to get there because our post office is literally underneath
our floorboards. In my mailbox, I found that I had a package slip
and while I was waiting in line to get it the power went out.
Did I mention that it was really blowing, too? Eventually the
guy behind the counter found a flashlight and went off to find
my package. Good news! It was Liza's bridesmaid's dress that she
mailed up for Jennifer.
darkened post office behind, Rob and I headed off to get something
to eat. McDonald's, the speedy alternative to a good lunch, was
closed because of the power outage, so we stopped by Safeway instead.
A couple cokes and sandwiches later and we were pointed in the
direction of the university.
I gave Rob
the dime tour of the campus (with the power still out). Afterwards,
we stopped by my office to grab my grandfather's confirmation
fax for the St. Thomas reservations and a couple of UAS-themed
DVD's that I had worked on. At the computer center we ran into
some familiar faces from the bachelor party. Rob already knew
Joe, Joe, Mike, and Cody, and while he caught up with them I used
Joe Nell's office to make some phone calls.
the limo service, but they had only their answering machine to
talk to. I didn't get a chance to pay for our reservation.
the University's Facilities Services and talked to Vicky. I told
her that we were expecting a package for Oksana (Leah's dress,
rush shipped) and to PLEASE call Oksana on her cell phone when
it comes in. Joe and Cody were also briefed because it was possible
that it could eventually be delivered to the Helpdesk where they
the Housing Lodge to make sure that there wouldn't be any problems
moving our second dorm reservation back one day. Beth assured
me that it would be just fine.
Dockside Jewelers to talk with Ginger. She was busy with another
customer so I was forced to leave a message. "Please call
Oksana and tell her when we can stop by to pick up her engagement
ring." We didn't actually expect to get an answer to that
request, but we wanted to let her know that we damn well need
that ring this week!
gave Rob a tour of the machine room (he just had to see the VAX
he used to connect to when he lived in Ketchikan!) we split campus
and headed home. Rob spun up the university DVD's while I fired
off an e-mail to Absolute Titanium inquiring about our wedding
bands (which were supposed to have shipped today, but it was already
4:30pm and NO E-MAIL from them could be found!)
as I was finishing that and we had just enough time to put in
Mike's CD and listen to the first 20 seconds of his 15 song suggestions
for our first dance. Rob offered his helpful advice - "Perfect!
Slow dancing is easy!" I also had just enough time to go
over the different sets of vows that Tracee had originally given
us and chose my favorite (a very simple, traditional) one.
We left Rob
to watch VM's Choice and Aliens on DVD while we went to meet with
Dave at the church. The meeting went well, but I don't think we
were quite prepared for it. Oksana decided, on the spot, that
she didn't want to translate the vows (too much pressure being
put on the spot like that), but that we would still ask Janna
if she would like to translate other parts of the ceremony. We
hammered out the structure of the ceremony, the happenings immediately
following our exit, the pictures, etc, and we also chose a new
passage from the bible to be read (leaving "Wives submit
to your husbands…" out altogether.) Just after Mike
showed up, Dave showed us the music room and left.
room was a bust. There was a lot of sheet music in there (a LOT),
but it seemed to be mostly choir music. We didn't see any file
cabinets labeled as "Wedding Music," (or anything similar,
for that matter) and we quickly abandoned the idea of pawing through
everything. We went back up to the sanctuary and talked music
and arrangements (the physical ones - like, "where the heck
can we move this piano?!")
minutes or so we arrived at a couple conclusions: Mike would play
his own music for the "seating." Then, when Lola gives
the signal for the bridesmaids to enter, he will start playing
Pacabel's Canon. Then the Wedding March when Oksana and her father
enter. We hadn't quite figured out the recessional by then, though.
Mike promised to look around and get back to us with some options
on that. Mike also offered to do some minor DJ'ing for us at the
reception. We parted company with him in the parking lot and he
promised to take of the responsibility of tracking down the required
sheet music - thank you, Mike!
I headed back to the house to pick up Rob. On the way home, she
checked her cell phone's voice mail and found that there was a
message from Ginger - Dockside had her engagement ring ready to
go! Wow… it was certainly unexpected (although great) news!
We picked up Rob and headed downtown.
the ring. Let me tell you, it was worth all that effort that we
went through just to see her putting it on! It's a little bigger
than I expected it to be, but I guess that's because the diamond
itself is fairly large - if the band itself wasn't big enough,
it would constantly be rolling over. Oksana doesn't seem to mind.
She said the ring felt very comfortable.
news! We didn't even have to pay for it! Well, "yet,"
anyway. Ginger didn't know how much the metals used in the mold
cost, so she needs to get that invoice first before she can bill
me. Before leaving, Oksana convinced her to make a pearl necklace
for her for the wedding, too. We'll go back and pay for both when
the necklace is ready. We went home with a large bag full of jewelry
stuff -- everything from the official paperwork for the diamond
to the actual molds used to cast the ring. Pretty cool.
On the way
home we stopped at Pel Meni, a Russian restaurant, for dinner.
It wasn't very good.
got home around 8:30pm and at 9pm Jennifer stopped by to try on
the dress that Liza had mailed. It's definitely going to need
some hemming - Jennifer is a bit shorter than Liza. Hailee, our
flower girl, came by, too. She's pretty excited about wearing
her new dress and throwing the flower petals around. Before they
left, dress in hand, I made sure to invite them to the rehearsal
and dinner on Friday (they hadn't received word yet because it
was just last week that Oksana had asked her to be a bridesmaid.)
did deliver some bad news before she left, though - it looked
like her husband, Adrian, wasn't going to make it to the wedding.
Emergency situation at work. I told her to try to convince him
to look into chartering a flight out of Elfin Cove at the last
minute - maybe he could still make it! I really hope he can. Adrian's
a good friend and he should be able to see his wife and daughter
in the ceremony, too!
At the end
of the day, Joe Sears stopped by and hung out with us for a bit
before taking Rob back to his condo. And can you believe that
after such a busy day, Oksana and I even managed to get to bed
at a reasonable hour? It's a good thing, too, because from this
point on the days are only going to get busier.
might well have been my last few peaceful hours before the wedding.
I sure wish I'd known that at the time - perhaps I could have
Oksana left to spend time with her family and I started in on
a web page update. Once "Monday" was all typed up, I
took a shower and got ready to run errands for the day. My PDA
warned me about the day ahead - four trips to the airport!
first run, though, I stopped by the university to pick up a FedEx
package - I tried to pick up a package, rather. Since I'd stopped
by at lunch time, facilities services was locked up and I couldn't
get anything. I used the time to swing around to Media Services
to drop off the laptop that Oksana's family had borrowed and then
checked out a new one. Then it was off to the airport.
for my sister's flight to arrive, I had the opportunity to type
in a little bit more of my web page updates on the new laptop.
Oksana, her brother, and her niece showed up shortly before I
was about to quit typing, anyway. Mariah arrived shortly thereafter
and I made all the introductions and took some pictures.
We had a
few hours to kill and Mariah had nothing better to do, so we decided
to have lunch at the Broiler with Oksana, Andrey, and Lena. While
sipping a milkshake, Mariah experienced what I've gotten used
to these last couple weeks - a meal with a translator. Poor Oksana
always seems to be the last one to finish eating…
we split up and I took Mariah with me on a couple errands. I picked
up that package at the university -- Leah's dress from Nordstroms
(we tried to deliver it to her, but no one was home.) On the way
back to our apartment, we stopped at the pet store and bought
a few crickets for Oksana's pet hedgehog (Yozhik) and then at
Costco to buy some film for Mariah's camera.
Once we got
home, Mariah had enough time to play with Yozhik (and get him
stuck up the armpit of her sleeve!) and, for the first time, to
see the CD-ROM video that I sent out with the wedding invitations.
It was nice to relax at home for a bit, but at 4:30pm, it was
time to go back to the airport.
the arrival of my dad. He stepped off the plane and was surprised
to see Mariah standing there next to me (and Oksana, Nadia, and
Lena, as well!) Hugs went all around and while we waited for his
luggage, we talked about our plans.
bridal shower was scheduled to start at 6pm at Michael and Jeri's
house. Mariah wanted to go, so it was decided that she would leave
the airport with Oksana and her (female) family (members.) My
dad had been looking forward to buying a can or two of Raineer
beer - living in Huston, Texas, he hadn't had one in years. By
coincidence, both carloads of people met up at Safeway. On our
way into the store, we passed Melissa, who was coming out of the
store with lots of flowers and white and lavender balloons. Hey,
those are our wedding colors! Yeah, funny, that.
I can't speak
much to Oksana's party - I wasn't there - but she did return quite
happy later that night. For my part, I went back to our apartment
and hung out with my dad for a few hours. We caught up and he
spent some of our limited downtime perusing hundreds of pictures
on my laptop (I've downloaded all my digital camera's pictures
there.) While he was doing that, I spent part of the time configuring
a university desktop computer to be a streaming video server.
Good news, I made progress!
At 8pm we
left for the airport (leaving my dad's luggage behind to make
room in my Jeep.) I had thought that my mom's flight was scheduled
to arrive at 8:15pm, but it was actually at 8:07pm - and guess
what! It arrived early! When we were walking up to the airport
I noticed all these people leaving with their bags. Uh-oh. Sure
enough, there was my mom and Mema ("Mema" is her mom,
my grandmother - long story…) waiting patiently in the baggage
claim area. It was 8:09pm - technically we were only 2 minutes
turn-around time for this airport trip was much shorter. It was
8:20pm by the time we left the airport (finally winning the free
"under 30 minutes" ticket for short term parking!) and
I needed to be back again before 9:30pm. We left in a rush to
get people situated.
Safeway again. Mema definitely needed a drink and my mom needed
her tea… Almost as an afterthought we also grabbed a few
other "essentials" - ice cream, milk, sugary cereal,
etc. Then, because I realized that they didn't yet have anything
at the dorms, we stopped by my apartment for a very few bowls,
silverware, glasses & cups. Finally we were actually off to
My mom and
I got through the payment process at the front desk of the lodge
and we scored the $50/night price again. $250 for 5 nights…
not too shabby. With my dad's help, we unloaded the Jeer and got
everyone situated inside as quickly as possible. Since mom and
Mema were both tired after traveling, they opted out of having
me drop them off at Michael and Jeri's house for the bridal shower.
my dad and I left for the airport. At the bottom of University
Drive we passed Oksan's car going the other way -- the girls were
headed home. We jammed on the brakes, reversed, rolled the windows
down and they decided to swivel their car around and follow us
to the airport.
enough, Joe and Melissa Nell stopped by the airport after the
bridal shower just to greet our newest arrivals, too. We waited
only a short while until 9:45pm when my grandparents (dad's side)
arrived. They were tired, too, from traveling all the way from
Florida, but their night wasn't over yet. While we were waiting
for their luggage, my grandfather set about renting a car. I searched
around until I found a brochure for the Salmonberry Inn Bed and
Breakfast. They'd booked their stay online and it turned out that
the Inn was in Thane - on the other side of Juneau!
We made some
plans once we hit the parking lot. Granddad would follow me in
his rental, but first we needed to detour back to my house to
get my dad's luggage. Then we'd head out the road and search our
their B&B. Easier said than done.
the roads in Juneau are hardly clogged with traffic. Granddad
was easily able to follow along behind me, but the problem came
when we got out the road in Thane. It was narrow, bumpy, and if
the rain wasn't enough to making it difficult enough to find the
place, the mist more than made up for it. Seeing a sign was not
going to happen, so we looked for the "Christmas lights"
that the B&B's proprietor said would be on. Guess what. They
turned out to be broken.
around and a brochure search (for the street address) later, we
finally pulled into the B&B parking lot. "Paula"
was there to greet us and while we brought the bags upstairs to
their rooms, she talked about such fanciful things as good restaurants,
hot tubs on the back deck, and this season's lack of salmonberries.
my dad and grandparents had settled in, I departed with a promise
to call them first thing in the morning. Then I drove the long
(tired) route back home by myself. When I returned at about 11:45pm,
I went STRAIGHT to bed (even though, in the back of my mind, I
knew that I should have been working on this webpage!)
very busy week progresses, I find that I'm starting to lose touch
with everything that Oksana is doing. As you read this account
of our wedding, keep in mind that she's likely just as active
with her own things (probably more so) as I am with the accounts
listed below. I just want you to remember that, although this
may sound like I'm doing all the work (which is understandable,
since you're reading MY version), Oksana is probably doing even
some point yesterday, my best man, Rob, left to Ketchikan to visit
his father for a couple days. Since Joe was the one to take him
to the airport, I guess it's understandable that I forgot to mention
it in the Tuesday update. He's due back Thursday night.
Wednesday dawned bright and way too early at 8am when the alarm
clock forced me to crawl out of bed. Knowing that today was going
to be another busy one, I immediately got started writing the
"update" for Monday. Having been a normal week, Monday
was only a couple days before, and it wasn't too hard to remember
what had happened.
By 9am, calls
were starting to come in. My father and grandparents wanted to
know where to meet us to start the day's events. I had planned
to call my mom and organize a Costco trip with her, so I told
them to stick tight while I called her first. After a quick chat
with my mom, we decided to get to Costco soon after they opened
and to meet everyone else there. I called the g'rents right back
and gave them instructions on how to get to Costco (Turn right
at K-mart, drive all the way to the very back of the valley -
A quick shower
and just a few minutes later and Oksana and I were on our way
to the dorms. The morning was a little bit cold for mid-August,
and some persistent fog was still hugging the ground. Hey, anything
is better than more rain, right? Just kind of "knowing"
that the weather would probably hold until tomorrow (as only locals
can predict), Oksana and I discussed entertainment options for
our relatives. The one we both liked was a day-cruise up Tracy
Arm. The only problem is that it was likely to be pretty expensive.
We vowed to discuss it with everyone and see what they thought.
Oksana then went to get her family from F10, and I stopped by
A3 to pick up mine. It turned out that Mema wasn't quite ready
to go, so Mariah and my mom were to be the only Costco shoppers
at Costco just a little bit after 10am. Not too bad a start for
a day with a million errands to run. My dad and grandparents showed
up not long afterwards and found us inside the store. Why were
they late? They got a little lost. Before you blame me for my
directions, you should realize that they turned into Lemon Creek
early because "after all the driving they MUST have passed
K-mart already!" They hadn't.
got all the shopping out of the way (mostly food and essentials
for the families' stay in Juneau), we convened in the parking
lot to discuss our next plan of action. Lunchtime was looming
on the horizon so we tried to figure out what would be agreeable
to 20 or so people. The Canton House came up and their inexpensive
lunch specials seemed like a great idea to me. Once that was settled,
Oksana brought up the Tracy Arm cruise. Although likely to be
$100 per person, most everyone was interested in going…
I had to
run back to the dorms to pick up Mema, and Oksana (after calling
ahead our reservation at the Canton House) had already departed,
so I was left with no other option but to give directions again.
This time, though, we had a secret weapon - a map! Leaning into
my grandparent's rental car, I hastily scribbled a few, key points
on their map: The Canton House, UAS housing, our apartment, the
university campus, and the Chapel by the Lake. That should do
left them in the parking lot, my grandfather pulled out a CD-ROM
full of pictures of my newborn niece, Lily. He had created the
CD after my brother, Kegan, had visited him in Florida with his
daughter. Since we were going to have practically the whole family
as a captive audience at lunch, I decided that it would be worthwhile
to make a quick side trip home to grab my laptop.
the time between Costco and The Canton House to make reservations
for the cruise. She put the entire party's cost on her own credit
card, too. Ouch. With 9 people going, it was just short of $1000.
Guess she gets to play bill collector tomorrow.
I, on the
other hand, went only slightly over the speed limit as my mom
and I stopped by my apartment to get the computer and then we
rushed back to the dorms to offload our Costco purchases and onload
Mema. Finally complete, we turned right around and drove back
to the Canton House.
had arrived, and while the waitress was taking our order (which
can take awhile with 20 people!) I set up the laptop and put in
the CD-ROM that my grandfather had given me earlier. I was impressed!
Without anything to install, the disc spun up and a full-screen
slideshow began. I was at the head of a very long table so I pivoted
my screen around and let everyone else watch the show.
our food arrived and everyone dug in. Everyone except Oksana,
that is. My family was very interested in meeting and getting
to know her family - as they should since we're about to bring
our families together in marriage! - and Oksana was the only person
there that was able to translate. Here's a tip: One translator
is not enough for twenty people! By the time everyone else was
finished with lunch, Oksana had barely touched hers.
with 20 family members eating lunch together, it was inevitable
that an argument would ensure over who would get the bill. I hoped,
with our families, that everyone would want to pay! I knew that
the discussion was likely to be long, especially with Oksana having
to argue for her side, and since I needed to be at the airport
before long to pick up one of my groomsmen, Noah, I wanted to
get things started quickly. I excused myself and dropped $20 on
the table. There was the expected outcry on how I shouldn't have
to pay, but I just smiled and ignored it. Got to be at the airport!
left, everyone decided to meet up again around 4pm at the university
for a brief tour of the campus. I grabbed my laptop, along with
my mom, sister, and grandmother and jetted over to the airport.
up right on time and while we waited for his luggage, my mom and
sister waited in line at one of the car rental counters. Normally
I would have just let them borrow my Jeep, but with all the people
and all the errands we needed to run, I figured it wouldn't hurt
to have an extra car around. Besides, my mom and sister were bound
for the flower shop and I didn't want to have to chauffeur that
By the time
we were ready to go, they still didn't quite have everything ready
with the car. Noah and I agreed to take Mema back to the dorms
for a nap before we took Noah's stuff over to Joe's condo where
he'd be spending the night.
my grandmother was obviously tired, I decided that we should still
take the opportunity to drive her out to the Mendenhall Glacier
on the way home. Sure, it's just a big hunk of blue ice, but it
never fails to impress when you see it up close. Noah didn't mind
a bit, so we drove on out to the glacier visitor's center to have
When we arrived
in the parking lot we were surprised to see my dad's side of the
family along with Andrey Jr. & Sr. just returning from the
scenic outlook and the visitor's center. We chatted with them
for a few minutes and introduced Noah all around before taking
Mema to the nearest viewing spot. I gave her my coat to ward off
the chilly air coming down off the glacier, took a few pictures
of her with my digital camera, and then we jumped back in the
duly tired by then, so we dropped her off at the dorms for her
nap. Noah was going to stay with Joe Sears for the duration, but
Joe was still at work. He decided to hang out at my place even
though he was well aware (having been through a wedding of his
own just a year before) that I probably wouldn't have much time
to catch up with him.
it wasn't so bad. That afternoon, my main task was to send a confirmed
guest list to Tracy at the Mt. Robert's Tram. We weren't too far
off our original estimate of 91 guests, but I wanted to be sure
that we wouldn't be overcharged for the people in attendance.
Before I could report in, though, I needed to make a few calls
to find out if a few friends in Juneau who hadn't RSVP'd would
make it or not. Unfortunately, after a number of phone calls,
I discovered that two of my best friends, Adrian and Russ, wouldn't
be able to make it after all.
revised list in hand (having dropped the bottom line only a little
bit after factoring in the number of children under 12 - and their
reduced rate) I gave Tracy a call on his cell phone. He took down
the new number, assured me that everything was under control for
Saturday, and asked that I e-mail a final list of guests to him
so that the tram operators would let everyone pass for free. When
I asked what we might be able to do if 1 or 2 other guests changed
their minds at the last minute, he told me that it would be quite
alright because he always leaves a 10-person leeway "just
in case." Gee, wish I'd known that before I gave him the
final list… We would have low-balled the number by 10 and
saved almost $250!
4pm, I finished up and Noah and I left for the campus tour I'd
promised the families. Since we were a few minutes late, it wasn't
hard to find the huge group of milling people standing outside
on the grass. Noah and I joined them and before long someone took
out a camera to take advantage of the sunshine and totem pole
backdrop. When Noah stepped forward to snap a picture of his own,
practically everyone asked him to take a picture with their cameras,
as well. In seconds, Noah had cameras dangling from his appendages
and he soon had to focus his attention on zooms and shutter releases.
Everyone got a picture… But it's too bad that Noah wasn't
in any of them!
ready to start translating again, so we started our grand tour
of the University of Alaska, Southeast, Juneau campus - all five
buildings. Our first stop was right on the other side of the crosswalk:
The computer center. Although I'm employed by the same department,
I actually work on the other side of campus. Still, I have a few
friends there that wanted to see my family and meet Oksana's.
We spent 5 or 10 minutes in there making introductions and catching
computer center we left for a brief excursion to the Auke Lake
dock. It's a nice place for picture-taking, but other than the
blue lake, snow-capped mountains, and ice blue glacier in the
background, there's not a lot to see. But, hey, it did give everyone
a chance to walk through two of the more boring buildings on campus.
finished in the Egan Library which is on the other side of the
campus. It's not far, but we took a break half way there to let
some people rest up. Once we arrived, though, it was worth it.
The library is easily the most beautiful building on campus with
its 3-story wall of windows and interior décor. This is
where I work.
off (to those who were interested) the inner workings of Media
Services and our broadcast control room. Now, having seen just
about everything on campus, people were ready to get back to…
well, whatever it was that they were doing earlier. Before leaving
Media Services, though, my coworker, Jim, mentioned that Facilities
Services had called to let me know that a FedEx package had arrived.
By now it
was almost 5pm, a truly wonderful time on campus when most staff
members are released to go home. Rather than risk getting to Facilities
too late, I called ahead and told Vicki that I'd be there ASAP
to get… our wedding bands? Yep. She confirmed that the box
was from Absolute Titanium! Okay, sure, we've got our wedding
bands, but what's even more important is that we have ONE LESS
THING TO WORRY ABOUT!
library the tour group split up and headed their separate ways.
Joe Nell, who had tagged along on the campus tour, joined Noah
and I as we rushed to get the rings. Of course, I opened them
up to make sure they sent the right ones and I checked the fit
of mine. Not bad. A little loose, but not bad.
with the three of us as we left the university and drove back
into the valley to The Wedding Shoppe. Although Rob was in Ketchikan
and Kegan had yet to arrive, we had an appointment set a week
earlier for a tux fitting. Kegan and Rob would just have to reschedule
met us at the dorm to his home/office and ushered us in. Once
we sorted out whose items were whose, we divided ourselves into
different rooms to try on all our various monkey suit items. Shirt,
shoes, vest, bow tie, jacket, cufflinks… it's an ordeal!
Luckily Mr. Garcia was there to help us figure out how to make
ourselves look good. For instance, did you know that a tuxedo's
front pockets have holes in them at the top, under the belt, so
that you can tug your shirt down with your thumbs? A great thing
to know after you bend forward and find your shirt puffed out
like some sort of male frigate bird in heat! Also, Mr. Garcia
had a great euphemism for Joe's, shall we say, "extra midsection
baggage:" It was his "prosperity." We all got a
kick out of that and teased him about it for days!
was in order, and we were all looking pretty snazzy, Andrey snapped
some pictures. Assured that our tuxes would fit, we stripped them
off and slipped back into our street clothes. We left behind our
credit card info ($152.50 for each tux rental!) and took our leave
of the Wedding Shoppe, new monochromatic clothes in hand.
better judgement, I had made plans to go play a round of Frisbee
golf after the fitting. I knew that I should have been working
on more wedding planning, but I had a hunch that I really needed
to take some time off and RELAX. We were running a bit late for
a 7pm meeting at the disc golf course, but I still opted to drive
through McDonald's to get us some food. By the time we finally
got to the tee-off, a whole bunch of friends had gathered. For
the next hour, we hucked a lot of discs, taught Andrey some English,
saw a big ol' porcupine climbing a tree, and generally had a really
great time. In retrospect, setting aside fun time like this should
be essential for anyone getting married!
were playing with so many people (Myself, Karl, Cody, Joe Nell,
Andrey, Noah, Joe Sears, Michael, Mike, and Eric - plus we were
joined on the first 4 holes by 3 of Andrey's friends!), it was
pretty late by the time we were done. In fact, it was pretty dark
already… and that's saying something when you're out on
an Alaskan summer night!
caught a ride home with someone else, and Noah decided, since
he was going to be staying at his place anyway, to leave with
Joe Sears. Andrey and I were the only ones left from the tux fitting,
and I drove him back to the dorms and dropped him off. While there,
I decided to stop in and say "hi" to any of my relatives
that were awake. My mom and sister were still up and we chatted
for a brief while. It was getting late, though, and tomorrow was
going to be a very early morning (to get everyone to the docks
downtown for the Tracy Arm cruise), so I gave out some hugs and
went home to Oksana.
Oksana was still up and doing laundry. We were both exhausted,
and although we knew we could have been knocking out a few more
items on our respective lists, we ended up on the couch, zoning
out in front of the television until her clothes were dry. Just
as soon as we got them folded, we went straight to bed and made
"lights out" just before midnight.
reason, people have been telling Oksana and me that our nervousness
about the wedding will prevent us from getting a good night's
sleep. Not true. It's having to get up at 6:30am that's preventing
us from getting a good night's sleep!
ourselves out of bed early this morning so that we could pick
up our various family members and take them downtown for their
Tracy Arm Cruise. Oksana grabbed most of her family (mom excluded)
while I grabbed my Mom, Mema, and my sister. The Midgetts, thankfully,
were able to drive themselves.
drive downtown, the mist that had been obscuring the sky started
to lift. Before any of the out-of-towners really knew any better,
Oksana and I had already proclaimed the day absolutely perfect
for their outing. (A year ago, we had taken the same trip…
on a day just as spectacular. We knew what they were in for!)
I felt good about this upcoming trip - even if Juneau continued
along its normal, rainy routine for our wedding, I knew that our
families would remember their time in Alaska by this sunny day.
early, our families were insured of having the best seats on the
boat. We waited with them at the top of the ramp until they were
finally boarding, half an hour later. As they left, Oksana and
I promised to be back to pick them up in the evening (and we looked
forward to having a day free from family to run some important
after dropping them off: Dockside Jewelers. We still needed to
pay for the engagement ring, plus Oksana wanted to pick up an
inexpensive pearl necklace for her wedding attire. The necklace
that Ginger had made for her wasn't up to Oksana's standards,
so she offered to make another one before the day was out - we
could just stop by before picking up our families.
the ring was a bigger disappointment. Originally, Ginger had told
me that the whole process was likely to end up costing around
$700-$900. That's for everything - the metals used, the wax molds,
setting the stone… everything. When we picked up the final
version, she still hadn't received a bill for the cost of the
metals. Her estimate was lower than I had expected - only about
$200. Adding it up, the mental total I expected to pay today came
in around only $600! Excellent!
lasted only until today. The final bill was $965, plus tax. Since
the price was about what I'd originally expect to pay, I couldn't
really get mad at Ginger. I had only myself to blame for getting
my hopes up…
We left dockside
and split up. Oksana went to run errands (with her mom in tow),
and I stopped by McDonald's for breakfast before going home to
work on the web page. Lots of typing to catch up on this week,
but I couldn't stop now - not after working so hard on my updates
for so long!
Noah stopped by and I took a break from the updates to test out
the streaming video server. It was easy enough to get up and running,
and before long I got word that everyone at UAS's computer center
were watching Noah and I go about our business in my apartment.
It's strange to think that people are watching everything you
do. Stranger still to realize how quickly you can forget that
fact. Good thing we didn't have the right cable to hook up the
audio or they'd have been eavesdropping as well as spying on us!
Noah decided to run out and get something to eat. I let him borrow
my Jeep and he busied himself by getting coffee and souvenirs
at UAS. I, of course, went back to working on the web page.
One of the
problems we discovered during the last week of planning for our
wedding is that our phone never stops ringing! (Our answering
machine: "Hello. You. Have. Thirteen. Messages.") While
typing away, I got two more important phone calls.
called to tell me that they tried to deliver a package to an address
at which I haven't lived for over a year. Rather than have them
redirect (and possibly delay) the package, I told them I'd pick
it up at the FedEx desk by the airport later that afternoon. By
the way, who sent it? I'm not even expecting anything! Amazon.com?
Cool! No wonder I hadn't received the groomsmen's gifts earlier.
Now I have to take back what I said earlier about them.
Maas called about the sheet music. He's had luck thus far, but
could I check out www.weddingsheetmusic.com? It seems that there
might be a solution there, but he couldn't install the necessary
plug-in on his Mac. While keeping him on the phone, I checked
out the site. Yes, they had the right music. Yes, I could install
the plug-in. But, no, it wasn't free. You have to pay to get more
than just the first page of sheet music.
Mike needed to practice, so I decided to just bite the bullet
and pay online. $12 or $13 and, literally, seconds later, I had
some "special links" in my inbox that let me print out
the full versions of the sheet music for each song. Pretty good
deal, but I can't fully recommend WeddingSheetMusic.Com, though.
You see, you get only two chances to print their music, and you
can't save them to your hard drive. You can't really do much of
anything BUT print them. And I'll bet you can just guess what
happened: Their plug-in crashed Internet Explorer on my machine
during the last print and when I reconnected to the file it told
me I'd already printed it out twice. Yeah, right.
they seem to know they have a problem. I went to their help pages
and clicked on the "contact us" button. My e-mail popped
up with a line something like this already typed into the message
field: "I have encountered a problem and need you to send
new authorization to print my ODE TO JOY sheet music." I
explained what had happened and hoped for the best. My backup
plan was to just purchase another copy if they hadn't fixed things
off the phone and stopped by just a short time later to pick up
the sheet music that I was able to print out. The one that failed,
Ode to Joy, had at least one page printed out, though, and he
could at least start practicing that one. After looking over the
notes, he discovered that the music was almost pathetically easy
to play. Maybe he'll have to embellish it a bit…
I plopped him down in front of my computer to play a little bit
of Midtown Madness (since he missed out on my bachelor party.)
What does he do? Selects a city bus and rampages through the streets
of Chicago. I'll bet you can guess what Mike does for a summer
I had to
wrap up my work on the web page for the day because it was time
to go off on some more errands. I picked up Noah at the university
(where he was catching up with his ex-coworker, Barney.) After
a few more minutes of chit-chat, we left for the FedEx office.
I picked up the boxes from Amazon.com, but wouldn't tell Noah
what was in them. He'd have to wait until tomorrow for that.
We then drove
downtown to meet Oksana. We found her car near where we'd dropped
off our families that morning, but she was nowhere to be seen.
I figured (rightly so) that she was at Dockside picking up her
new necklace. The Auke Nu cruise ship was nowhere to be found,
so Noah and I settled down on the dock to enjoy the sun. Oksana
arrived a few minutes later with some good news - Ginger had simply
given her the necklace she wanted as a wedding gift. That was
nice of her.
after a half hour of sunning ourselves, we saw the Auke Nu rounding
the bend in the channel. Fifteen minutes or so later, our families
were disembarking with smiles on their faces. Glaciers, waterfalls,
icebergs, seals, whales, and plenty of sunshine. Surprise, surprise:
They had a great time! My grandfather was particularly proud of
the fact that he and Oksana's dad were able to communicate some
things with hand-drawn pictures and gestures. Would you believe
that Boris was able to explain that when he was in the military
he had seen San Francisco from the deck of a submarine and that
he never expected that he'd get any closer to America? And that
my grandfather was able to communicate that he used to fly rescue
helicopters for the Coast Guard? Pretty impressive, I think.
was pretty worn-out after such a long day. We dropped our families
off at their respective places and went home to relax for a little
bit. Noah and I were starving, so we decided to give Oksana some
peace and quiet and go down the block for some Thai food. We got
to eat our fill, but we had to do it quickly - my brother, Kegan,
and one of Oksana's bridesmaids, Anya, were coming in on the 8:17pm
flight down from Anchorage. Don, my stepfather, was due to arrive
on the 8:07pm flight up from Ketchikan. At least we could pick
them all up with but one trip to the airport!
just a little bit late, but my mom was already there to greet
the arrivals. Anya had already met Kegan on the plane (we had
called her to tell her they were on the same flight.) Kegan was
exhausted from flying standby red-eye flights, but otherwise okay.
We picked up their bags and split up. Anya (and her friend, Cindy)
found a rental car and drove off for their own hotel while my
mom took Don back to the dorms. Noah and I drove Kegan out to
Thane so that he could stay with our dad and his parents.
I was only
able to catch up with Kegan a bit on the ride out to Thane. Noah
and I dropped him off and made plans for the following morning
- we had a free rafting trip planned and needed to figure out
how Kegan could get there. Once the grandparents committed to
driving him in, Noah and I were off again for the airport. Rob
was due to arrive (again) at 10pm.
we arrived on time. Rob came down the concourse shortly after
we arrived and we talked about his stay in Ketchikan - things
have changed quite a bit since he left in 1993.
It was already
10:30pm by the time we left the airport, so I took Rob and Noah
directly to Joe Sears's house so they could crash for the night.
Joe was already asleep, but we made some quiet plans while there
- I'd be back early in the morning to take them with me while
transporting those interested in rafting. After that, we'd grab
some breakfast and then do what Rob had been talking about all
week: Hike up onto the glacier.
I left Joe's
house and went home to find Oksana getting ready for bed. We were
more than ready for sleep. Again, worries about the wedding would
not get in the way of a good night's sleep.
morning. Luckily for Oksana, she could sleep in just a little
bit longer than I could today. I got up at 7 and was out of the
house by 7:45. First stop, Joe’s house – to pick up
Noah and Rob.
Rob were ready to go and, because I needed to pick up some family
members, we didn’t spend much idle time at Joe’s.
Joe was interested in hiking the glacier with us, but he needed
to go to work first to see if they could spare him for the morning.
The plane was that if he could swing it, he would meet up with
us at the trailhead. With Rob and Noah in two, I headed off to
the dorms to pick up some rafters.
One of my
college roommates, Mike, has been rafting the Mendenhall River
as a summer job for the last few years. I had asked him this spring
if he thought we could wrangle a free trip down the river for
anyone that came up for the wedding. Not a problem – a date,
time, and enough able-bodied rowers was all he’d need.
At the dorms
we picked up my Mom, Don, and Mariah. Oksana, having roused herself
from her slumber, showed up to escort her brother and nephew for
the same trip. Everyone was ready to go except my brother, Kegan,
who was nowhere to be found. He was supposed to meet us at 8am,
but we couldn’t find him at the dorms. Hmmm. Maybe he thought
we were to meet at the university, instead. Our train of cars
drove down to the campus looking for my grandparent’s rental
car – or any other sign of Kegan.
Eventually I was forced to run home and get my PDA so that we
could call Kegan’s cell phone. We rang him up and found
out that he was… waiting for us at the dorms! He must have
shown up moments after we drove off. We returned to the dorm parking
lot, added their car to our train, and made it to the head of
the river just a little later than I’d hoped.
there and all ready to get everyone suited up and in the boat.
While they were getting their feet sized for boots, their legs
sized for rain pants, and their chests sized for life jackets,
those of us not going took plenty of pictures and made plans to
pick them up at the pull-out. Soon enough they grabbed their paddles,
hopped into the boat, and floated up the lake towards the glacier.
and I took a few pictures of their departure and then heading
off to Safeway to get some breakfast and some hiking food. While
there, Noah gave Joe a call at work – no luck. There were
too many important things for him to do at work.
a breakfast of donuts (and coffee for Noah) and some food and
drinks for our backpack before driving back to the same parking
lot where we’d dropped off the rafters earlier. Once there
I loaned out a couple pairs of shoes to Noah and Rob, we filled
Noah’s pack with our supplies, and dressed in layers because
the morning was a bit chilly. That was a mistake – 15 minutes
into the hike and we were shedding them fast.
Rob had agreed to be my best man, he’d been looking forward
to climbing up on the glacier. Apparently, the last time he was
in Juneau he didn’t bother to make the trip up to the big
ice cube and regretted it ever since. I had promised him that
we could take some time to go up there earlier in his week-long
stay, but it didn’t work out. Unfortunately, today was the
last day before the wedding – I had plenty of other things
I could have been doing!
On the way
up, I made the decision to hike the “long” way to
get up onto the glacier. We could have taken a shorter route,
but it would have placed us at the leading edge of the retreating
ice flow, not further back into the impressive ice field. Considering
the fact that we were in a hurry, it was not the right thing to
do. As the trail kept disappearing around the bend and going up,
up, and up, we had to hurry. When we finally did get to the lookout
over the ice, the glacier seemed impossible to reach. Steep cliffs
of broken rock surrounded us and our allotted hiking time was
Rob was ready
to give up and head back. I didn’t want him regretting another
trip to Juneau, though, so after breaking for a few granola bars
and a drink, I encouraged them to “look around the next
bend.” We found an area that didn’t look entirely
impossible to get down. If we hurried, Rob might yet get to stand
on the ice.
different routes, Rob, Noah, and I reached the bottom and found
an ice cave. While Noah and I had been snapping photos like mad,
Rob had been saving the few remaining shots in his disposable
camera for a picture in a cave. He found one and I happily obliged.
And then we found another one… bigger, longer (disappearing
far into the glacier), and with a much more vibrant, blue-ice
background. It was tough to climb down and into, but was just
too good an opportunity to pass up! We got our pictures and started
the climb back up the cliffs.
the way we’d come, over steep-angled ledges and loose, broken
rocks ranging in size from pebbles to boulders, I began to think
about the possible consequences of such a hike taking place only
one day before my wedding. Of course, the “gee, wouldn’t
it be great if I broke a leg” concept ran through my mind,
but I also thought about how small cuts and bruises could really
mess up the wedding photos. I was extra careful on the climb back
The way trip
back down the trail was fairly short in comparison – only
about an hour compared to the three hours it took to climb it.
Still, I had plenty of plans for the rest of the day and I felt
a little rushed. On the last leg of the trail, while Noah and
Rob entertained an Irish girl who we’d helped to find the
trail again, I borrowed Noah’s cell phone and started making
scheduled an appointment with The Wedding Shoppe for Kegan and
Rob – they still hadn’t had their tuxedo fittings.
Then I tracked down my brother and made arrangements to pick him
up in about an hour. Finally, I called Oksana to check on her
and see how her day was going. She was doing fine and, thank God,
didn’t need any help from me before we were scheduled to
meet for the wedding rehearsal at 4pm (She did have some bad news
to report, though. We finally heard from Jeff, mere hours before
the rehearsal was to begin, and he was still on the east coast
– no wedding video for us.) I must admit that it felt funny
to be conducting business while hiking in the Alaskan wilderness.
Cell phones have changed many things in the last few years…
We got back
to my car at about 1:30pm. I immediately took Noah and Rob back
to Joe’s place so that they could grab a shower before the
rehearsal. I stopped by my own apartment to do the same. A quick
change later and I was back at Joe’s to pick them up again.
We wasted no time before charging out to find Kegan at the dorms.
Once he was on board, we headed for the wedding shop.
I were all set, so while Kegan and Rob were getting fitted into
their monkey suits, we stood on the porch and chatted with Mrs.
Garcia. The fittings took longer than the conversation, though,
so we spent the rest of the wait downloading the day’s pictures
from my digital camera to my laptop. It was gratifying to see
that we had a couple great shots from the glacier trip.
were finished, we loaded up the tuxedos into the back of the Jeep
and headed straight for the Chapel for our rehearsal. We were
early – and because of that, for the first time all day,
I finally relaxed. There was a flip-side, though. We were famished
and there were a couple grumbles that we hadn’t stopped
for lunch. With assurances that we would all have a huge rehearsal
dinner, I dragged my groomsmen off to the nearby vending machines
at UAS. At least we would get something to tide us over.
and candy bars in hand, we returned to the Chapel. The first thing
we noticed upon entering was that someone had set up the chapel
for a concert. There wasn’t anyone around, but the front
of the room had been turned into a stage, complete with a drum
set, half a dozen microphones, guitars, etc., all spread out.
It seemed impossible that we would be able to take our positions
during the rehearsal.
waited for the major players to arrive, I showed my groomsmen
around and we discussed likely places to put video cameras, the
streaming video computer, and which window to crack open for a
direct line-of-site to the university. Before we could discuss
everything, others arrived and began clamoring for my attention.
my mom: She and Oksana (and some of the bridesmaids) were concerned
about the decorating. I purposefully omitted myself from most
of the discussion, but what I picked up was that we’d have
two candelabra, flowers, and bows of ribbon along some of the
Mike: His only real concern was where the piano was to be located.
Oksana wanted it moved from the right to the left and we wanted
to arrange it so that he could see the procession and know when
to hit his cues. While we worked with other people, Mike practiced
with the sheet music.
Bonnie: She seemed to be there simply to answer questions concerning
the church. It was quite nice that she was always there when you
needed something, yet never in the way.
Scott: He wanted to know where we wanted to place him as the photographer.
Keep in mind that Bonnie (the Chapel by the Lake wedding coordinator)
had told us in an earlier meeting that her one rule with photographers
is that they stay in one place throughout the ceremony. Apparently,
she strongly believed that a mobile photographer (or videographer
for that matter) would draw the audience’s attention away
from the most significant couple. Oksana and I disagreed. Discreetly,
when Bonnie wasn’t listening, I told Scott to do whatever
he thought would get him the best shots! Even so, we did go a
long way towards compromising. For most of the ceremony, we decided
that Scott would be up front by the windows, nestled into a recessed
stairwell. He would have the benefits of the natural lighting
(no flash), and, near the end of the ceremony, he would also be
able to make a quick escape down the stairs, through the hallways
underneath the sanctuary, ready to appear at the back of the chapel
just in time for the recessional.
many family members: Most were just waiting around to find out
what role they had in the ceremony and to understand the schedule
of events. Oh, and we had a rehearsal dinner planned for afterwards,
too. I’ll bet they were interested in that a bit, too.
And, of course,
there was Dave Tubley: He was pretty much running the show once
everyone had calmed down. He took the wedding party aside and
we tried to find our marks in among all the microphones and musical
equipment on the stage. We discussed how and where the groomsmen
and bridesmaids would arrange themselves (on the stage or off?
Two on the stage and two at floor level? How much room would we
were getting our placements memorized, Oksana and I asked Dave
if he wouldn’t mind making a few, last minute changes to
1) We weren’t
too keen on having him introduce us as Mr. and Mrs. Arlo Midgett.
Mr. and Mrs. Midgett would do just fine.
2) No translation
during the ceremony. While planning this wedding, I always thought
that it would be a great idea to integrate some Russian into our
ceremony. It is, of course, a union of two cultures and I try
to be continually conscious of that. We discussed having someone
translate certain, key parts of the ceremony and eventually discarded
the idea. My favorite, having Oksana give her vows in Russian
was vetoed because of the logistics of having Dave prompt her
in English (plus, Oksana was going to be nervous enough during
the wedding. She didn’t want to “blank” on the
translation!) Eventually we decided that the ceremony would simply
be in English and that two bilingual people (Jana and Marie) would
be strategically seated among the Russian-only crowd. I expected
it to be quite distracting, but this late in the game there were
few options left.
was the “you may kiss the bride?” section in the program
he had given us for review? We were told not to worry –
it would be in there. Good. I started to think this was some weird
sort of corporate procedure or something… I want to kiss
my bride, dammit!
rehearsal without a run-through wouldn’t be a wedding rehearsal.
Dave gathered us all up in the foyer just before the entrance
to the sanctuary and laid down the ground rules. It was going
to go something like this:
start us off by playing “seating” music.)
The groom and best man will wait in the foyer.
The bride and maid of honor will be hidden in a second section
of the church.
The ceremony begins when the ushers begin to seat the direct family.
Noah had the honor of escorting Oksana’s mom down the aisle.
The rest of the bride’s family (excluding her father) would
Kegan would then escort our mother down the aisle and seat her
on the opposite side. The rest of the groom’s family would
Once the ushers have returned, Dave would lead the five men to
the stage via the side aisle and we would take our previously
established positions. (Music stops)
Once the groom is safely out of sight, Oksana would be brought
in to stand with her father. (Mike begins playing Pacabel’s
Canon.) Her bridesmaids would then begin to enter the church one
at a time.
After the maid of honor is in her position, Hailee, our flower
girl, would proceed next, throwing rose petals in her wake.
(Music changes to Wedding March.)
Oksana enters with her father and the real fun begins!
herding us, we went through the procedure once. Oksana translated
for the Russian element, and everything was pretty much understood.
We only hit a couple hitches. Oksana bobbled one of the lines
that Dave fed her to the laughter of everyone there, and Hailee,
tired after a long day, didn’t much feel like acting out
her role as flower girl and shed a few tears as she went through
the motions. Jennifer assured us that she would be fine during
the actual ceremony, but we made a backup plan, anyway. If, come
tomorrow, she still was too shy to walk the aisle alone, Sandra
would walk with her.
a lot to remember and because of the concert setup, weren’t
able to do it as it would be done the next day. Having all the
music equipment on our stage bothered me, and after all this planning,
I really wanted to make sure everything would be perfect! I politely
put it to the group that we might want to go through the routine
one more time, but everyone felt confident that they knew their
roles, marks, etc. Maybe they were just getting hungry.
could head off to the rehearsal dinner, though, we still had a
lot of planning to discuss. Oksana and I talked to everyone and
gave them different times and places to show up at the following
morning. I’d be arriving at the church early for the wireless
network setup, Oksana would be on her own to get her hair done.
My groomsmen would also arrive early to help out, our relatives
and photographers closer to the ceremony. Everyone from the coordinators
to the clergyman had to be accounted for.
as things were winding down, I found time to break away and speak
to my groomsmen. For all their help and for agreeing to support
me on my wedding day, I presented them with the Amazon.com gifts.
For Rob, season one of Andromeda on DVD. For Joe, Grand Theft
Auto III, for Kegan $50 gift certificate, and for Noah, a couple
DVD movies. I also had gift certificates for Mike and Scott. It
felt good to reward them for their support, but I still felt that
what I was giving them didn’t even come close to expressing
my true gratitude.
While I was
playing Santa, the rest of the wedding party was getting ready
to meet downtown for our rehearsal dinner. Oksana was also in
a heated discussion with her brother because he felt that his
family, being unable to speak English, was being left out of the
rehearsal. Oksana explained to him that we had too much ground
to cover and she was just too frantic to translate every little
thing for him so that he could be in on the decision-making process.
Sure assured him, though, that she had told them everything they
needed to know.
it was time for dinner. We split up into multiple cars for the
ride downtown, and I had to divert a few people over towards my
apartment before we could go. For the hike, I had purposely removed
the gold watch Oksana’s father had given me as a wedding
gift, but I wanted to make sure I wore it. The rehearsal dinner
and the wedding itself seemed like perfect opportunities to show
it off. On a whim, I grabbed my laptop, too, before getting back
into the car.
was written after a 25-month hiatus.
When we arrived
at the Prospector, it took us a few minutes to find our private
dining room. Fortunately, there was a sign in the hallway that
said something like “Midgett party” and pointed us
in the right direction. I made a mental note to take a picture
of the sign before I left… and then promptly forgot all
When we entered
the room, most of our family members had already arranged themselves
around the table. Oksana and I were at one end, her immediate
family arranged to her left, and mine on my right. At the far
end, 16 seats between us, sat my groomsmen.
in next to Oksana and tried to keep up with everything that was
going on around me. In a room of 24 people, with Oksana and I
as the center of attention, I initially felt as though we were
being pulled in too many directions at once. Just as I was beginning
to calm down, our waitress made her way to our end of the table
and took our order. I recognized Venietia at once, although I
hadn’t expected to see her until the wedding ceremony!
used to work with me at Media Services. When we were shopping
around for a place to have our rehearsal dinner, I thought about
asking her about the Prospector because she used to work there.
When she graduated from UAS, though, she got a nice, cushy State
job. I assumed that she’d left her waitress job behind,
but unbeknownst to me, she was still working there part time.
I bring all this up because as she crouched down take our orders,
she whispered to us conspiratorially, “Why didn’t
you make the reservations through me? I could have gotten you
a big discount!”
The obsessive planner part of me was smacking himself upside the
head, but with the wedding tomorrow, the real me didn’t
much care. I consoled myself with the fact that other people were
paying for dinner and went back to enjoying myself with my friends
and (growing!) family.
As we waited
for our food, I got up from my seat to get closer to the other
end of the table. I stopped every few chairs to talk with someone,
to make sure that they were having a good time. I had the impression
that our two families were really enjoying themselves. My mom
was trying desperately to learn how to say “thank you”
in Russian; Lena, sitting next to me, was practicing her English;
Anya sat on the far side of Oksana’s family and helped translate
conversations; and my grandfather bought a round for Oksana’s
brother (vodka shots) and then Andrey reciprocated by trying my
grandfather’s drink – a Rum and Coke. In fact, looking
around the table, it appeared that only person not having a good
time was my best man, Rob.
looked like it was still going to be awhile before we’d
be served, I decided that it would be a good time to whip out
my laptop. Despite sending out a mini-CD with every, single wedding
invitation, there were still a couple people who had yet to see
the video upon which I worked so hard. My mom was first among
them, and as I was setting the computer up in front of her, others
gathered around to watch. It went over really well. As surprised
as I was that my mom hadn’t already seen the video, I was
even more surprised to see it bring tears to her eyes!
As I was
returning my laptop to its case back by my own seat, Oksana told
me that she was going give out some gifts. She raised her voice
and got everyone’s attention before handing out little presents
brought over from Russia by her family– chocolate for my
side of the family and small Zip-Loc bags full of candies for
her bridesmaids. It went over well, but I couldn’t help
but worry that my family might have been thinking that they should
have given gifts as well.
At any rate,
our dinner was starting to arrive and it was time to sit down
and eat! Of course, conversation (translated, yet spirited!) continued
while we enjoyed our meal.
As I was
almost finished eating (my last dinner as a bachelor!), I happened
to notice my groomsmen, Rob and Noah, talking to Venietia at the
other end of the table. They were looking in my direction and
it appeared as though they were making plans that might involve
me. Sure enough, Venietia soon came down to my end of the table
and asked me if I would take a shot of tequila with my groomsmen
– on their tab.
It only took
me a couple seconds to answer, but I had plenty of time to go
over the implications in my head. I had already had an Alaskan
Amber with my dinner and I knew that this might very well end
up being more than just one shot. I would need to find someone
to whom I could hand off my car keys – probably not a problem
in a room full of people. I also had time to ponder my reputation
as a non-drinker. I looked down the table to see Rob and Noah
quietly staring at me, waiting for me to give my answer to Venietia.
Was there a bet at stake here?
to Venietia and said yes, I’d love to do a shot with them.
She straightened up, sent a huge smile down to Rob and Noah, and
left the room. Her departure was met with a mild eruption at the
far end of the table that lent credence to my theory. Rob looked
the most surprised; I guessed that he would be paying.
awaited her return, Oksana and I worked our way down the table.
While we socialized, people were forming up for pictures at the
far end of the room. We took snapshots of all the men, all the
mothers, each side of the family. These were the same pictures
that I knew we’d pose for again tomorrow in our formal wear
and I wasn’t too concerned that I looked a little shaggy.
Not shaving for a week before the wedding was a conscious decision
on my part. My skin tends to break out if I shave too often and
I didn’t want to risk a bunch of red acne glaring back from
my wedding pictures for all eternity. If that meant that my likeness
in the rehearsal pictures was going to be best described as unkempt,
then so be it. (I also rationalized that I’d look that much
better tomorrow when people finally saw my baby-smooth chin perched
above a snazzy tuxedo…)
were socializing, Venietia returned with our tequila and some
lemon wedges and salt. I made my way over to my groomsmen and
found out what the all the hubbub was about. As I was sitting
down, I learned the story: Noah had offered to buy some shots
if Rob would drink with him. Rob, looking for a way out, told
Noah that he would drink only if I would join them. I guess that,
since moving to California almost ten years earlier, Rob was a
little further out of touch with me than he thought. While still
a long way off from even your typical casual drinker, I have at
least made some peace with alcohol in the intervening years.
I asked Joe
if he was planning to drink with us and he declined. Perfect.
He was driving. While we lined up for the inevitable photos, Rob
gave me a quick lesson downing tequila shots: Tequila first, then
go for the salt on the wrist, finally the lemon wedge. All this
ceremony, I was expecting the tequila to go down hard. 1, 2, 3;
half a dozen flashes go off in our faces, and we’re done.
Only Rob made a face while downing the shot, and while I can’t
speak for Noah, I thought the lemon wedge was worse. Maybe those
vodka shots with Oksana’s family helped to prepare me!
discussion turned towards the possibility of a last minute bachelorette
party for Oksana. Ideas were batted around, alcohol-serving establishments
were mentioned, and names around the table were added to the list.
Although I was concerned that a late night might adversely affect
Oksana’s enjoyment of our big day, I fully supported her
going out with her friends. Unfortunately, by the end of dinner,
the plans fell through. Too many people needed to go to their
respective homes first, and it didn’t appear that the real
party would be able to start before an obscene hour. Ultimately,
Oksana decided to call it off.
As the party
wound down, I excused myself for a quick trip to the restroom.
As I returned, I found my mom and stepfather in the foyer looking
over the bill. My mom had decided to honor the tradition of the
groom’s parents being responsible for the rehearsal dinner
and was now feeling the pain. Although she wouldn’t let
me see the total, I did manage to ascertain that it was it was
northward of $600. That amounted to about $25 per person and didn’t
include the bar tab (everyone had to fend for themselves for alcohol).
I was happy to hear later that, when my dad’s parents offered
to chip in, they wouldn’t let my mom say “no.”
bill was settled, it was time to go home. I gave my keys to Joe
and we crammed 5 people into our car. Rob was still looking a
little blue and I asked him what was going on. He said that during
the rehearsal dinner, he noticed that he was the only one at the
table that wasn’t either married or engaged to be married.
I did a quick mental check of the participants, and while it wasn’t
exactly true (there were a couple kids eating with us), he was
essentially correct. I felt bad for him and promised to do my
best to introduce him to someone at the reception tomorrow.
It was barely
9pm and perhaps because I had assumed that I would be waiting
up for Oksana, I was still pretty wound up. Rob and Noah were
also looking for something to do, so on the way back to my apartment,
we decided that we’d at least throw in a movie.
When we got
back to my place, Rob pulled Real Genius out of my DVD collection
– one of our favorite movies from way back. While people
settled down on the couch, I sat at the back of the room and only
give the movie half my attention. I still needed to work out a
few kinks with the software we were going to use on the streaming
server to broadcast the wedding over the Internet. While I was
working on the computer, Oksana came home from dropping off her
family and began packing an overnight bag for our stay the following
night at Pierson’s Pond.
excitement of the rehearsal dinner behind me, I began to lose
energy fast. It had been an extremely long and busy day and I
was crashing. I finished up with the computer and had it packed
up in a box before the movie was even half over. Oksana was finished
with her packing, too, and was as tired as I was. I wanted to
spend more time with my friends, but I knew that I wouldn’t
be able to stay awake watching a movie I’d already seen
a dozen times.
So, at about
10:30pm, Oksana and I bid everyone goodnight and excused ourselves.
As we laid down to go to sleep, I could hear the booming surround
sound of the movie competing with our roommate, Lonnie’s,
music playing through the wall on the opposite side of our room.
I worried that I’d end up lying awake all night; I’d
be unable to sleep before one of the most important days of my
life; I would have huge, black circles under my eyes in all of
I was fast
asleep in less than two minutes.
The day has
I've got tons of text to post for the last week, but I'm not going
do that today.
Today, there's the live stream.
What a wonderful
feeling it is to not be thinking about our wedding every waking
moment! We're not done yet (honeymoon, INS paperwork, name changing,
etc.), and I'm not yet done writing about our wedding journey
on this web site. But I am going to take some time off.
It's been almost a week since the ceremony and we're still not
back to our normal lives yet. Oksana is in Anchorage with her
family right now and will return Friday night. We leave early,
early Saturday morning for our 2-week honeymoon in St. Thomas
(Virgin Islands.) It's there that I plan to work more on the web
page. Unfortunately, you probably won't see the results posted
until I get back.
you do see the next update, it should be a big one. I doubt I'll
have any new video to post by then, but there will be thousands
(literally!) of pictures to chose from. Plus, updates for the
last two weeks before the wedding will be posted (you didn't really
think that there was nothing of any importance to post for that
time frame, did you?)
next update, I'd like to ask a favor:
Many of you
that are reading this site were at our ceremony and reception
in person. Still more of you were able to see at least the ceremony
online. While I am going to write up my own take on these events,
I would really like to post a vignette or two (or twenty) from
someone else. How about it? While I'm on vacation, do you think
you (yes, you!) could write just a paragraph or two about some
aspect of our wedding and let me post it here on my web site?
My view has been the only view thus far - let's add some variety
and find out what other people think!
month since my last update and, trust me, I've been hearing about
it. Oksana and I returned from our honeymoon in St. Thomas last
week (we had a great time) and then my computer promptly died
on me. Nothing was lost, but it's taking some time to get back
up to speed. I still have lots to post, both Pre- and Post-wedding.
I just need some more time to sort through, oh, about 1,000 photos.
More is on
the way. I promise.
nobody wants to write a vignette?)
into the habit of updating this web page seems to be my biggest
hurdle! Believe me, I know that everyone is waiting to see pictures
of (and, maybe, to read what I have to write about) the wedding.
While I'm working on that, I thought I'd "get back in the
habit" by posting a new wedding picture for you to see, once
each day. Now, since I'm going to take my time and use PhotoShop
to make these pictures look nice, you should realize that you're
seeing the very best of our wedding photos. This will make the
day when I post the rest of the pictures a bit anticlimatic, but
I'll wager most are willing to take that chance.
photos will be on their own page -- I'll keep the link at the
top of this page up indefinitely. Please note that if you want
to see a better quality image (although still a JPEG), all you
need do is click the picture!
After; Part I
This one is long. I wrote this… wow… about a year
ago now. I’ve been meaning to post it on my wedding page,
but I still have some writing to do that chronicles what happened
before this stuff. I had been waiting (in vain?) to complete that
first. I’m posting this on my ‘blog, today, because
it has some background information that not every knows about.
Unfortunately, it’s background information for some bad
news that I need to post tomorrow.
The day after
our wedding, Oksana and I awoke in our opulent room at Pearson’s
Pond. The room was expensive, but it was also comfortable a quiet.
Lying there in the late morning, enjoying the distinct lack of
stress, I decided that it was worth every penny. My only regret
was that we were not able to stay there much longer – our
checkout time was rapidly approaching.
The day before, Oksana
had dropped off an overnight bag in our room. I was glad that
I’d married a smart woman – it meant that I wouldn’t
have to wear my tuxedo again. In fact, because I was back in casuals,
we dropped it off on the way home.
Our arrival back at
our apartment was a rather rude awakening. It seemed as though
every item from the wedding and the reception was piled in up
our living room and kitchen. Flowers, clothes, decorations, leftover
cake, and computer gear was everywhere. For some inexplicable
reason, there was a pair of men’s dress shows on the kitchen
Having said our goodbyes at the reception the previous night,
we knew that our friends and family members would be leaving on
separate flights throughout the day. We regretted not spending
time at the airport to see them off, but we were quite relieved
to have a day completely to ourselves for the first time in weeks.
Even if we would have to spend it cleaning.
Joe Nell stopped by
at some point to track down those countertop shoes. Turns out
that they were my brother, Kegan’s, and while he was able
to arrange for the return of the rest of his rented tuxedo, apparently
he forgot the shoes. I suspect it had something to do with the
rumor that many of our guests had continued partying around town
after the reception.
Joe left to take the
shoes (and our thanks) back to the Wedding Shoppe. He also mentioned
that the owners were interested in looking at some of our pictures
for their web site… Flattering, but not high on our list
of priorities today!
After the house was
finally back in order, Oksana and I sat down to open our wedding
gifts together. Wow. We didn’t expect much since we specifically
told our guests not to bring wedding gifts, but after opening
dozens of cards and presents we were shocked at everyone’s
generosity. The only down side is that it looked like we wouldn’t
get off easy on the thank you cards…
With plenty of time
left in the day, Oksana and I did the only rational thing; we
took a nap. Another luxury that had been sorely missed these past
Late in the day, we
awoke and checked our answering machine. Noah had been spending
the day with Joe and Karl and they were going to have one last
little get together for him before he left on the late, late flight.
Having recuperated somewhat, Oksana and I felt we could see him
one more time before he returned to Los Angeles and we showed
up at Joe’s apartment around 7pm or so. Karl, Mike and Leah,
and the Nells were also there and we spent a few hours in the
company of our friends before heading back home for bed.
Oksana was lucky. She
didn’t have to work in the morning.
Monday morning and I was right back at work. I couldn’t
believe that I had to wait a whole week before being able to go
on my honeymoon!
Oh, and after all that
preparation, you’d think that the work would be done. Not
a chance! Today Oksana and I spent my lunch break going downtown
to submit our completed marriage license. While downtown we stopped
at the university’s personnel department to pick up the
various forms that I needed to fill out, too. Change of marital
status, insurance, tax form changes, change of beneficiaries,
etc. I had no idea there was so much paperwork involved in getting
By the time all that
was sorted out, I had to go back to work, but Oksana decided to
stop in at the social security office to inquire about her impending
name change. Check this out: Before she can change her last name
on her driver’s license, credit cards, bank accounts, etc.,
she needs to get a new social security card. But the social security
office won’t issue a new card until they’ve seen proof
that her INS paperwork has been submitted. Guess it’s going
to take a bit longer than we expected to do the simple things
– like combine our bank accounts.
At least one thing
worked out quickly in our favor. Oksana went to the university’s
records and registration office and picked up a tuition wavier
form. Since I’m a full-time employee there, Oksana’s
last semester of school would be free of charge!
Another long day at work, but at least I had a pleasant evening
with Oksana and her family. Their trip to the States was almost
at an end, and everyone (except me) had plane tickets to Anchorage
the next morning. Oksana was going to accompany them as far as
Anchorage, spend a couple days shopping, then make sure that they
got on the right plane.
We spent the evening
at the Hanger on the Wharf, with Oksana, once again, finishing
her dinner last because of all the time she’d spent translating.
On Wednesday, Oksana and her family left for Anchorage…
and left me alone to go through the motions at work for a couple
more days. While they had fun shopping and sightseeing with Anya,
I basically cleaned up my desk, sorted e-mails, and generally
avoided starting a bigger project before leaving on my honeymoon.
At home in the evening
I decided to call Bluebeard’s Beach Club in St. Thomas to
confirm our reservations. This turned out to be a good idea because
they had no idea who we were. The receptionist said that it wouldn’t
be a problem, though, since the resort was essentially empty (what
with it being hurricane season and all!) Still, I sent an e-mail
to my grandparents and mentioned it to them, since they were the
ones that owned the timeshare and arranged for the room in the
Oksana’s parents got on their scheduled flight Friday morning
and, later that same day, Oksana returned to Juneau on hers. After
picking her up at the airport, we returned home to pack our bags
for the looming honeymoon while Lonnie, our roommate, began moving
his stuff out of our apartment. Late Friday night, we boarded
our jet and began the long trip to the Caribbean.
Before the wedding
planning began in earnest, I had suggested that we put off our
honeymoon until December – after Oksana finished her finals.
But after putting on a wedding like ours, we couldn’t get
away fast enough. Honeymoons are important.
Our honeymoon behind us, it’s time for Oksana and I to rejoin
the real world. For me, that means returning to work at the university.
For Oksana it means catching up in her final three classes and
resuming work as a student assistant at the computer center (after
almost six weeks away!)
One big surprise upon
returning home – Lonnie had yet to move out. Apparently
there was some miscommunication as to our return date and he was
expecting us the following week. It took just a couple more days
for him to move out and wasn’t a real inconvenience, but
we had been looking forward to returning to an apartment that
would be, for the first time, completely ours.
Oksana has been working hard to craft us some wedding albums.
While the many duplicate photos of the disposable cameras we ordered
filled at least two of them, our photographer, Scott, took only
slides. I set about scanning all 11 rolls of them into a digital
format and then showed Oksana how to manipulate them in Photoshop
before printing them out. In no time at all, she had created a
very nice album of only the best pictures to take back home to
One of the most frustrating
things about marrying a foreigner is the mountain of paperwork
that needs to be filed. Oksana and I had already talked to the
local INS official and gathered up the appropriate forms. I had
asked, at the time, if there was a deadline for the forms and
was told that they just needed to be done. For me, not having
a deadline is a dangerous thing – I tend to put things off.
That didn’t seem like a good idea when our government was
involved, so I devoted one of my precious weekends to the INS.
And that was enough
for me. While there was some information that I needed to supply
(about my taxes, my parents, my location, etc.,) the vast majority
of what they wanted was information that Oksana would know. I
was under no delusions that the responsibility wasn’t mine,
but Oksana was just so much more familiar with the INS that it
seemed natural that she lead this particular little project. So,
the following week, Oksana got to devote her time to government
I worked, instead,
on getting precise INS-type photos taken. You wouldn’t believe
the perfection they demand! Rather than trust a professional (I
mean, pay… pay a professional) to do it, Oksana and I decided
that we could pull it off with our digital camera, Photoshop,
and Ofoto.com. After experimenting with backgrounds, the flash,
and neck-craning positions, we finally had two digital photos
that looked like they would work. I cropped them to the specifications,
resized them to specifications, and then duplicated as many of
them as I could fit on a 8x10 document. When Ofoto sent it back
a few days later, perfectly printed on Kodak paper, all we needed
was a pair of scissors!
October 4th, 2002
Oksana stopped by the INS office today and discovered that the
rather evil lady we had been dealing with before had been replaced
by someone new. Oksana was trying to find out how a newly married
alien relative goes about getting her name changed. And hey, do
you fill out all the INS paperwork with the new last name or the
old? (Use the new name, by the way.) The new guy was very nice
and supplied Oksana with all the information she needed. Unfortunately,
she couldn’t change anything before dealing with the social
security office first.
It was reassuring to
discover that the INS does employ actual human beings at times.
Or one, at any rate.
October 7th, 2002
We ordered thank you cards today from the same web site that sold
us the wedding invitations. I have decided to use pictures from
our wedding in an attempt to personalize each one as much as possible.
I know it’ll be hard work, but like the invitations, I expect
it to be something I’ll later be proud of.
October 11th, 2002
The blank thank you cards arrived in the mail today. Taking measurements
from the paper stock, I toyed around in Photoshop and with my
printer for quite awhile before settling on a template that I
like. The task ahead seems daunting.
October 13th, 2002
Oksana received word a few days ago that her mother suffered a
mini-stroke and was taken to the hospital. While the news scared
her, after talking to her father and brother she decided that
it probably wasn’t necessary for her to abandon school and
work to return to Russia.
However, today Oksana
received even worse news: While in the hospital, her mother had
a major stroke and was subsequently paralyzed on one whole side
of her body. After hearing this, we worked to get Oksana on the
next available flight.
October 14th, 2002
Oksana booked her plane tickets today. She’ll leave on the
17th. They’re opened-ended tickets, but it appears that
she’ll be gone for at least a month. Even if her mom regains
the use of the left side of her body, which doesn’t seem
likely right now, she’ll still need Oksana’s help
in the short-term. Until she arrives, her father and sister-in-law
are doing what they can.
With three days to
wait, Oksana is justifiably fearful that she may not get home
in time. Tensions are high and I decided to take a few days off
from work to help Oksana get through this.
To add insult to injury,
Oksana isn’t yet able to travel under her new status as
an alien relative because we haven’t had time yet to complete
the INS paperwork. Instead, she’s going tmao leave her wedding
ring behind and travel under her student visa instead. We’re
hoping we get lucky for her reentrance to the States because we’ve
heard horror stories about how our friends, Thane and Yana, were
separated for six months while they worked through the red tape
after a situation like this.
life supposed to be happier than this?
October 17th, 2002
Oksana left for Russia today. And last night I received news that
my aunt Betty had passed away. She had been fighting ovarian cancer
and although it wasn’t completely unexpected, it hit hard.
It’s going to be a long month without my wife.
Oksana has been having a hard time of it in Russia. For most of
her stay, she’s been with her mother in the hospital –
and from what I hear; Russian hospitals are not good places to
be. Nadia is recovering – slowly – and Oksana has
been struggling to put into place a system by which her mother
can be cared for after she leaves. It looks like the best plan
is going to be to hire a physical therapist to stay with her for
$8 a day. With her father there to help at night, it should be
enough to keep her mom under close observation and, God willing,
bring her along the long road to recovery.
As Thanksgiving approached,
I received word that I’ll have to go on my yearly visit
to Ketchikan alone – Oksana needs to extend her trip by
three weeks to make sure everything goes well. I’m not terribly
excited by the news, but I am at least happy to have a date on
my calendar to look forward to.
I’ve also been
taking Russian 101 at the university. Anatoli, rather than Jana,
is teaching this semester and his loud, gruff instruction has
been… interesting – and rather fun, I must admit!
I still feel as a bit as though learning Russian is like free-climbing
glass walls, but I do enjoy the discovery of the occasional Spanish-Russian
or Russian-English cognate. And at least now I have a big enough
vocabulary to ask for Oksana on the phone.
In the meantime, the
burden of the thank you cards has fallen squarely on my shoulders.
Somehow I could not find the will power to work on them after
work each night, so I used the entirety of three weekends writing,
selecting appropriate photos, printing, stamping, and mailing
For your wedding I
recommend either one of the following options: Requesting that
no gifts be given, or investing in robotic thank you card writers.
November 29th, 2002
Cutting my typical Thanksgiving vacation short by a day, I joyfully
flew back to Juneau to reunite with my bride today! Getting to
that moment was a far more difficult process than it should have
About a week before
Oksana was scheduled to fly back to the States, Anya (in Anchorage)
called to ask her what she was going to do about Mavial's cancellation
of all flights until Christmas. Excuse me, what? It seems that
the airlines didn’t have enough passengers for its weekly
route and simply canceled all flights for a month.
Without notifying their
Thanks to Anya, at
least we had enough warning to do something about it. Oksana got
on the phone and confirmed the bad news, then called up a competing
airlines to seek alternatives. Vladivostok Air had just one flight
leaving the next day, and it would go through Vladivostok, Korea,
and Sea-Tac… did she want to buy a one-way ticket for $1100?
Oksana called me in
Ketchikan and we decided that our only real option was to buy
the ticket and have her speed-pack her bags to make the flight
the next morning. Costly, yes, but I was scheduled to leave for
Peru in a couple weeks and we couldn’t stand the thought
of going another six weeks without seeing each other. We’re
newlyweds for Pete’s sake!
final flight was due to arrive in Juneau about 10 minutes before
my own from Ketchikan. After over twenty-four hours of travel,
including a mad dash through the Vladivostok airport to catch
a plane with seats held just for her and her giant suitcase, Oksana
landed in the Juneau airport. Once there she realized that I’d
managed to fly standby on an earlier flight just to be there when
For a time, happiness.
December 10th, 2002
After only 12 days together, it’s time for me to leave for
a month-long Spanish class in Peru – without Oksana. Want
to hear a depressing thought? Sometime in the second week of January,
Oksana and I will have officially been apart more than together
since our wedding five months before. I’ll have plenty more
time to dwell on that sad fact in Peru.
January 12th, 2003
Today I returned from Peru with a resolve not to continue with
Russian 102 this year. This semester, I want to have every possible
evening available to spend with my wife. Happiness does indeed
make the heart grow fonder.
Besides, after the
first week in Peru where I kept trying to use Russian words, I
promptly got back into my Spanish groove and proceed to push all
the Russian rules and vocabulary right out of my head.
February 3rd, 2003
Today, after much work on Oksana’s part, we sent off a huge
stack of INS paperwork, in folders, with sticky tabs, everything
duplicated, itemized and correlated.
Every time Oksana packs
my guilt trip bags about how much work I didn’t do on the
INS forms, I get to remind her how much of a pain in the ass the
thank you cards were.
February 28th, 2003
Today we received word that Oksana’s father passed away
in a tragic accident.
March 1st, 2003
After much energy expended in trying to find a way to get Oksana
home again to attend her father’s memorial and to be with
her family, we have been forced to give up in despair.
I went so far as to
call the central INS office in Nebraska (Of all places for the
department of immigration, why Nebraska?) and grilled them about
the Travel Authorization Document that we had submitted a month
prior and was told curtly that only the Anchorage office could
supply me with information about it. But I had already tried that
route and learned that correspondence with the Anchorage office
could only be achieved though the U.S. mail system or in person.
Neither are viable alternatives when time is of the essence.
I asked them, hypothetically
speaking, mind you, what would happen if my wife were to leave
the country without a Travel Authorization Document? Simple. First,
she wouldn’t be allowed back into the country. Second, they
would immediately terminate processing of all of her paperwork.
It turned out to be
a moot point, anyway, because while I was on the phone with the
INS, Oksana was busy calling all the airlines and no matter how
she tried, she just couldn’t find the connections that would
get her home in time for the funeral, anyway.
Match 11th, 2003
We received a large envelope in the mail today from the Anchorage
INS office. Inside was a copy of all our paperwork and a hand-printed
note that said simply: “Everything is OK. Please send $50
check for fingirprint [sp] fee.”
No word on the status
of the Travel Authorization Document. Not that it would do any
good at this point, anyway.
March 12th, 2003
We made a check out to the INS office for $50 and photocopied
it before mailing it back to Anchorage today. I made sure to print
“For fingirprints” on the memo line.
March 15th, 2003
Armed with a new Social Security Card, Oksana paid for a new driver’s
license today. Now all the cops that stop her for reckless driving
can snicker at her new last name.
March 27th, 2003
Seven months after getting married, Oksana and I finally opened
up a joint checking account today. We would have done it sooner,
but we had been waiting on the INS paperwork. Once we had received
proof that it had been processed, Oksana took that information
to the Social Security office to exchange for a new Social Security
Card. Once that was processed, she was able to get her driver’s
license changed. Finally, with a new driver’s license in
hand, we were able to sign up for a bank account under the same
Well, three bank accounts,
actually. We opened a joint checking account for personal use,
a joint checking account to manage the electronic billing of all
our monthly expenses, and a joint savings account. For a short
time there, we actually had seven accounts! (One old checking
account each, Oksana’s old savings account, and a business
checking account.) The person behind the counter obviously didn’t
believe us when we told her that having all these accounts would
actually help us keep track of our money.
Online bill payments
and an Alaska Airlines Visa card are wonderful things.
April 1st, 2003
Oksana started her new job as accounting intern at the Mendenhall
Auto Center today. No foolin’.
April 9th, 2003
On the way to work this morning I found another letter from the
INS in our mailbox. It turns out that Oksana already had an appointment
scheduled for her on the 23rd to have her fingerprints taken…
in Ketchikan. Apparently, they don’t think it much of a
hassle for an immigrant to travel over 200 miles by boat or plane
for a 15-minute task.
Fortunately, the new
guy at the INS office had told us earlier that we should expect
a letter like this and that we should definitely ignore the location
(Anchorage or Ketchikan). Instead, he asked us to bring the letter
to him when we received it. That afternoon, on our lunch break,
we did just that.
We walked in, showed
the letter, and were finished with the entire fingerprinting process
in less than five minutes. Visiting my mom in Ketchikan would
have been nice, but spending $400 to get us there wouldn’t
While at the INS office,
we also inquired about our tardy Travel Authorization Document.
The officer told us that he was scheduled to make a call to Anchorage
the next day and that he would ask about the hold up then. Good
April 15th, 2003
Oksana received her new Social Security Card in the mail today.
Coincidentally, she also received her first paycheck from Mendenhall
April 16th, 2003
Today Oksana received another letter from the INS ordering us
to appear for our personal interview in mid-May. Perhaps the organization
is finally getting Juneau into the picture now, because the section
listing the address of the Anchorage office was covered up with
a sticker for the Juneau office.
This is it, though.
This is the scary interview that we’ve heard so much about.
The one where the separate us and ask all sorts of embarrassing,
personal questions before comparing our answers. And the list
of things we need to bring was daunting: letters of employment,
passports, completed INS forms, tax histories, rental agreements,
“photos of our shared lives,” etc.
And, of course, we
have a whole month to sweat it out.
May 12th, 2003
We stopped by the INS office today to confirm our May 15th personal
interview. The pleasant, knowledgeable guy with whom we’d
come to enjoy working told us that he didn’t know anything
about it. For the personal interviews, a different person flies
down from Anchorage. Let the panic begin.
May 14th, 2003
Returning home from work today, we found a message from Joy, or
perhaps Joyce, from the Anchorage INS office on our answering
machine. Joy/Joyce told us that she was working on our Travel
Authorization Document and needed our “A number,”
which confused us at first because we’re not that familiar
with INS lingo. She did mention that it should be on a receipt
that accompanied our returned paperwork. After digging that up
and checking it against Oksana’s temporary green card, we
learned that it was her “Alien Number” that the Anchorage
office had misplaced.
Joy/Joyce left us a
telephone number that, after multiple listens, we finally puzzled
out, but in the next two days neither Oksana nor I were able to
get a real, live person on the line. At least we knew we had the
right number, though, because the answering machine identified
itself as the INS office in Anchorage. We repeatedly left a message
for Joy/Joyce and hoped it would find its way to her.
I guess it’s
not surprising that no one ever answered the phone because, as
we had discovered before, you can only communicate with the Anchorage
INS office in person or via the U.S. mail.
May 15th, 2003
On Thursday, Oksana and I arranged a long lunch at each of our
places of employment for our INS interview. This was it. The big
deal. We had heard so many horror stories about the questions
that they might ask – everything from anatomy to feminine
hygiene was fair game. Not that we had anything to hide. In fact,
I think we have very good communication in our relationship and
can probably answer just about any personal question about each
other. Without blushing, though? That’s another question
We arrived at the INS
office 15 minutes early and waited for the official to finish
with the married couple ahead of us. Oksana had a nice, three-ring
binder with her that had all the important documents organized
and tabbed. Our rental agreement, our tax filings, all the legal
evidence of our shared lives together were in that folder. I,
on the other hand, had the personal evidence. Two photo albums
and a CD-ROM full of digital images, ready to be displayed on
my laptop. Waiting, we weren’t exactly worried. Anxious,
maybe, to have this behind us.
A couple minutes before
we were actually scheduled to start, Mr. Official motioned us
up to the counter. He cheerfully began to ask us questions –
where can I find this form? Where is your tax form? Oksana was
ready with it all. She was fingerprinted again and after precisely
signing his name on each of a dozen documents with the help of
a sharp bookmark’s edge, he neatly collated everything into
the official Arlo/Oksana binder that he had brought from INS HQ.
At one point, he asked
Oksana for her Visa. He cancelled it and wrote a note into her
passport that she could re-enter the country up to one year from
that day’s date -- She would need that until her Temporary
Green Card arrived. (The Temp Green Card will last for two years,
but we’ll have to remember to apply for a Permanent Green
Card 90 days before it expires or they’ll deport my lovely
wife!) We asked about the tardy Travel Authorization Document,
to see if he could look into it when he got back to Anchorage,
but he explained that by stamping her passport, she no longer
needed. In fact, it was superceded by that act completely. The
TAD was no longer useful.
We asked him if he
wanted to look at our pictures (wanting to know without saying
it if we were getting ready to go into seclusion for the personal
questions). He explained that he was working his way through a
stack of folders 2 feet high and if everyone came to their interview
on time, he might just be able to cut his Juneau time down to
a single day. He assured us of his confidence that our wedding
pictures were top notch and then recounted the story of another
couple who came in earlier in the day who belligerently asked,
“Do you want to watch us have sex?!” I guess, you
know, to prove that they really love each other.
By the time we left
the INS office, our paperwork finished and presumably bound for
their Nebraska headquarters, only 25 minutes had passed. We had
dodged the “personal” portion of the interview completely
and the only hitch in our whole bureaucratic odyssey was a missing
Travel Authorization Document.
May 16th, 2003
Oksana’s Travel Authorization Document arrived in the mail
today – exactly one day after it was rendered obsolete during
our personal interview. I guess that $110 filing fee was a waste.
It pisses me off, too, because it was the lack of this exact document
that prevented Oksana from returning home when her father died.
We thought about calling them on it, but then decided against
making waves in the otherwise smooth process we’ve enjoyed
July 1st, 2003
Oksana’s official Temporary Green Card arrived in the mail
today. It’s pretty cool – very official looking and
seemingly tamper resistant with all its holograms and covers-the-entire-back-side
magnetic strip! Her name is printed “Kadachigova Midgett,
Oksana,” which I’m not sure is right, but I think
any reasonable official would overlook a first and middle name
mix-up. I dare say that my wife is the only Oksana Kadachigova
Midgett in the United States – very likely, in all the world
(though there may be one on Mars.)
September 4th, 2003
Oksana was offered a full-time position at the Mendenhall Auto
Center today. Originally the plan was to hire her as an intern
(the only way they could hire her before her temporary green card
arrived) and she would continue in that capacity until she took
over the comptroller position. Also, she was only supposed to
work 20 hours per week.
Well, after the first
couple months she was already putting in around 30 hours per week
and had quit her student job at the university. That worked fine
for awhile, until they noticed that she was inching up towards
40 hours a week over the summer. Eventually they just decided
that she was indispensable and committed to paying her for full-time
work. Which was fine, but she wasn’t getting benefits for
So, today the considerate
owners decided that she was officially full-time – not only
that, they pushed her “full-time start date” back
to the date of her original hiring. So now, upon her anniversary
of employment, she’ll get all those groovy things that a
one-year employee deserves. You know, benefits, vacation time,
uh… cake. I don’t know. I don’t work in the
October 8th, 2003 to
November 8th, 2003
Oksana traveled to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski and Irkutsk in Russia
to visit her mom. One year after her stroke, Nadia is doing much
better – she’s walking again and is able to do many
things on her own. She still has little mobility in her left arm,
but that should improve if she can be convinced to use it more
Nadia has been living
with her sister-in-law in Irkutsk, Siberia for some time now.
It’s been a situation that has worked out well for everyone
involved, and it’s her help that had enabled Oksana’s
mom to recover to the extent that she has. But Nadia didn’t
want to spend the winter in Siberia, preferring to stay in warmer
P-K instead. Oksana needed to fly to Irkutsk (with her brother)
to sort things out.
They were able to convince
Oksana’s aunt to spend a good portion of the winter away
from home to be with Nadia. Nadia returned to P-K with Oksana
and her brother, and her sister-in-law will fly down a few weeks
later. She will care for her until April when, I suspect, they’ll
go back to Irkutsk next summer. In the meantime, Nadia is staying
with Oksana’s brother’s family.
December 11th, 2003
After much fear, uncertainty, and doubt, the university has decided
to offer another trip to Cuba this year. I committed myself to
going – unfortunately, again, without Oksana. So, just like
last year, we’ll be separated for another month over the
holidays. For the last time, I hope.
The End (Or, rather,
And that’s about it. There isn’t much left to write
about with regards to our wedding. And actually, the last few
items don’t really relate at all, but I hope that they help
to bring closure on a few of the happenings earlier on. With the
exception of the INS paperwork we’ll have to fill out for
Oksana’s Permanent Green Card and U.S. Citizenship (if she
chooses to get it), there isn’t much in the foreseeable
future to add.
If you’re still
interested our shared lives together, I’m sure that a story
or two might find its way into my weblog.
long. Thanks for reading!
After; Part II
My grandfather once
told me that it doesn’t matter how well you plan things
out, there will always be unexpected events to trip you up.
Of course, we were
talking about finances, but I think that his lesson applies equally
well to life in general.
Oksana and I have been
looking forward to going on a vacation together since last December.
Finances are really no longer a problem as we can save up vacation
money fairly easily, but getting the time off from work is an
entirely different matter. I have the university calendar year
to plan around, while Oksana has to give consideration to her
job at the Mendenhall Auto Center.
Fortunately, we knew
far ahead of time what we wanted to do. There was a family reunion
(on my father’s side) scheduled for late June in Daytona
Beach, and we also wanted to visit my mom parents on the beach
in N.C. We asked our respective bosses early and were lucky enough
to find two weeks in June that we could both afford to be gone.
Even though we had
such advance warning, Oksana and I made a mistake. Instead of
booking our tickets as soon as we’d received permission
from work, we procrastinated. We thought it would be okay since
we still had more than six weeks to go V-day, but we underestimated
the number of people who go on vacation in June. The flights weren’t
full yet, but we lost our opportunity to purchase a “saver”
ticket with our accumulated miles.
matters, we needed to take a roundabout flight path. Alaska Airlines
(where we have a mileage plan) only flies to a handful of cities
on the East Coast, so in order to spend a week in both North Carolina
and Florida, we decided to fly round-trip to Orlando and purchase
another ticket to Norfolk, VA, on the side. We could have done
all that by cashing in 40,000 miles and paying $144 each on airfare.
Instead, we ending
up cashing in 73,000 miles, paid $175 to purchase 7,000 extra
miles, and spent $250 each on the additional FL-to-VA tickets.
As June approached, we hardly had any time to look forward to
our vacation. I was very busy trying to complete as many projects
as possible and had even gone so far as to reserve my entire Memorial
Day weekend to work on another video club project. Oksana was
gearing up to begin her CPA training with a huge set of training
books and CDs she had purchased on eBay. With all that was going
on around us, we couldn’t wait to leave it all behind to
get in some nice, relaxing beach time.
And then, on Saturday,
we received some very bad news. Oksana’s mom has had another
stroke. A bad one.
Nadia had never fully
recovered from the stroke in 2002 that had paralyzed her left
side. After it had happened, Oksana spent seven weeks in Russia
helping her to recover and trying to find a way in which she could
be care for long term. Since then, been looked after by her husband,
her brother’s family, a live-in nurse/physical therapist,
and, quite generously, buy her sister-in-law. Because her sister-in-law
lives with her own family in Irkutsk, Oksana’s family was
able to work out a system where her mother and aunt would alternate
living between Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski and Irkutsk, depending
on the seasons.
And over the last year
and a half, Nadia’s improvement has bordered on the miraculous.
She has managed learn to talk again, has conquered the dizziness
that used to occur whenever she sat up, has learned to walk again
with the help of a cane, and even has limited use of her left
arm. Since the first stroke, Oksana tells me that she’s
had trouble keeping her emotions in check, but otherwise we’ve
all been amazed at how well she had recovered.
As I understand it,
there were no indications that another stoke was coming. Saturday
afternoon (Sunday morning, Irkutsk time, I think) Nadia simply
collapsed in the kitchen on her way to pick up a book. Her sister-in-law,
a doctor, was right there and immediately set about doing whatever
it is that doctors do for stroke victims. She called her daughter-in-law,
another practicing doctor in the family that even specializes
in stroke victims, and they had her in bed, medicated, and hooked
to an I.V. as quickly as could be expected. Throughout all this,
Nadia was non-responsive. They decided to call an ambulance.
It’s hard for
me to remember at times, but Russian medicine isn’t the
same as it is here in the States. The paramedics knew less about
how to handle the situation than the member’s of Oksana’s
family, and when they called it in to the nearest hospital, they
confirmed that if she was brought in, the level of care she would
get would actually go down. Faced with that information, they
decided to let the ambulance go, keep her under close watch, and
try to get her to a better hospital on Monday.
When they tried on
Monday to get Oksana’s mom into the “good” hospital,
they had to overcome a lot of resistance. Apparently, most Russian
hospitals have a policy of not admitting second-time stroke victims.
Fortunately, the two doctors had enough clout to get past the
regulations, but when the doctor on duty realized that she’d
been admitted, he hit the roof. By that time, though, she was
already in intensive care, and they couldn’t very well release
The first we heard
of this was when Oksana received a call from her brother on her
cell phone. She was driving home from shopping and had to pull
over because she knew right away that it wasn’t going to
be good news. She was composed, though, stoic, when she came home.
Ever since her mom had her first stroke, we’ve known that
it could happen again. This didn’t blindside her as the
news of her father’s death had.
Still, we both knew
that that simple phone call had changed our summer plans. Oh,
I kept hoping that somehow, someway maybe things could still work
out. Maybe her mom would be okay or maybe Oksana could get to
Russia and back in time to go to the beach. Deep down, though,
I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
I put my video editing
plans aside and let Oksana use the computer to look up flight
information. Even I knew that the weekly flight from Anchorage
to P-K is only on Fridays, so she set about finding alternate
routes. Juneau-Seatlle-Korea-Vladivostok. Juneau-Seattle-New York-Moscow.
Nothing was convenient and the short-notice prices were up to
$3000 for a one-way ticket. Armed with a lot of indefinite information,
Oksana called her brother back.
Andrey had arrived
in Irkutsk and had spoken with the doctors. Nadia’s condition
had remained unchanged and, furthermore, no visitors (not even
family) were allowed into the ICU. He told Oksana that unless
her condition changed, for better or worse, she should just wait
until the Friday flight.
Oksana hung up and
then tried to make reservations. But the Mavial offices, as well
as any travel agents, were all closed for Memorial Day weekend.
Russian airlines’ websites are not like what we’re
now used to… Oksana’s only hope to make a reservation
was to get someone on the phone. She called a friend in Anchorage,
Anya, who just happened to know someone that works at the Mavial
office. She promised to try to track her down.
With nothing to do
but worry, Oksana and I decided that the only way to get through
the weekend would be to try to distract ourselves. Luckily, we
had just borrowed a new season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs
to take our mind off things.
On Monday we found
out that Mavial had cancelled the Friday flight to P-K due to
low ticket sales – the next flight wouldn’t be until
the following week. Oksana called her brother and asked his opinion
on what she should do. Andrey told her that their mother was still
in ICU and as long as she was there, the doctors wouldn’t
allow anyone in to visit. His recommendation was to make reservations
for next Mavial flight, but to be ready to buy one of the expensive,
express tickets at a moment’s notice. If her condition changed,
for better or worse, Oksana would need to be there as soon as
Memorial Day weekend
was eventually over and we went back to work. Oksana briefed her
boss and we could do nothing save call Russia every so often for
Early Wednesday morning,
we awoke to the sound of a ringing phone. The news was bad –
Nadia had stopped breathing on her own. She was still in ICU,
but the doctors were giving the family a sad prognosis; In their
opinion, she had two, maybe three days left. Andrey asked Oksana
to fly to Russia as soon as possible – in all likelihood
to say goodbye.
we both went back to work – if only because we had to. The
very first thing, Oksana told her boss what happened and that,
although she was sorry, she needed to leave for Russia on the
first available flight. I’m sure it was apparent to him
how frazzled her emotions were at that point, because when she
asked to use some work time to contact a travel agent and to look
for tickets online, he told her not to worry about it. And he
meant it, too.
Her boss spent the
next half-hour on the phone with an Alaska Airlines representative.
When he was finished, he called Oksana back into his office and
told her everything was taken care of. Oksana didn’t understand
what he meant until he gave her some printouts. One round-trip
ticket, Juneau to Moscow, leaving the next morning at 8am. He
had cashed in his own frequent flyer miles, paid the taxes due
on the tickets himself, and denied Oksana the chance to pay him
Good God, if only everyone
had a boss like Steve Allwine.
To top it off, he gave
Oksana the afternoon off to go pack. I, myself, asked for the
afternoon off from my own job so that I could help get Oksana
ready. We had only a half-day to shop, pack, and get her on a
plane that was bound to fly around the world: Juneau to Seattle.
Seattle to Amsterdam. Amsterdam to Moscow. From there, Oksana
would have to navigate the four, separate airports in the metropolis,
find a flight to Irkutsk in Siberia, and pay for it at the counter
in cash. It was obvious that the trip would easily last more than
24 hour, easy.
This was an emergency
trip, so Oksana didn’t need to pack all the American-type
gifts that she normally takes with her on a trip to Russia. We
were finished with our makeshift list (pack, find passport, leave
engagement ring behind, purchase calling cards, print tickets…
that kind of stuff) around 8pm and we went out to the Broiler
for dinner. Our mood was somber, yet we still enjoyed what was
to be our last evening together for some time.
morning, Oksana boarded her 8am flight and I went back to work.
I received a call from her in Seattle a few hours later, but didn’t
hear from her again until she had sorted things out in Moscow.
It was slightly before 5am on Friday morning when I answered the
telephone and I wasn’t exactly at the top of my mental game,
but Oksana was at least able to let me know that she was okay
and had reservations on a flight to Irkutsk in a few hours. After
hanging up, I slept better knowing that she was okay.
the “after-wedding” web log entry on Friday, because
I know that there are a few people that use my ‘blog as
a way of keeping up with Oksana and I. Undoubtedly, some of you
didn’t even know that Oksana’s mom had had a stroke
in the first place. It seemed that the best way to head off questions
that wouldn’t have been pleasant to answer was to post a
summery of the last year and a half.
At the time I wrote
the introduction to that entry, I had planned to write another
quick entry on Saturday to explain why Oksana had to depart for
Russia in a hurry. When I finally started, it didn’t take
long to realize that, in typical fashion, I was going to go on
far longer than I had expected. The problem was that I found myself
divided: Should I write a simple update or something more meaningful
about my feelings towards this emotional crisis?
I couldn’t decide,
so I just started writing.
Barely one page in
(marked above, with an asterix), late Saturday night, I got a
notification on my computer that I’d just received an e-mail
from Oksana. I paused in my writing, opened up my Hotmail account,
and read with sadness the first communication I’d had with
my wife since she was in Moscow. Oksana’s mother, Nadia
Kadachigova, had passed away just six hours before Oksana had
In her brief e-mail,
Oksana gave me an account of what was happening and implied that
she wouldn’t be able to call until after the funeral in
P-K. I composed a sorrowful e-mail as quickly as possible, hoping
that she might still receive it if she were still online. I needed
to talk to someone, and with my wife out of reach, I decided to
call my own mom.
A short while later,
I thought it more important than ever to complete this ‘blog
entry and post it online. Friends and family need to know, but
I was in no condition to spread the news by telephone. I started
writing again, but something had changed. I felt that I owed my
mother-in-law something more… it felt like I should scrap
the update and begin a eulogy.
I was torn. I felt
as though, if I really spent my time on it, I could write a touchingly
emotional piece – something I could look back on, years
from now, and be proud of. It could take weeks, though, and many
tormenting rewrites to adequately describe what I’m feeling...
On the other hand, people who have read my previous ‘blog
entry and have already lent me emotional and spiritual support
were waiting for a promised update. Eventually, I decided to press
on… but I only managed another page or so before my emotions
got the better of me. I had to stop for the night.
Sunday morning now and although the words don’t come easily,
I’m beginning to realize how much writing is a sort of catharsis
for me. The prose may not be good, but it’s good for me.
this weeklong ordeal, I’ve struggled with the fact that,
after all our hard work and planning, Oksana and I will not be
able to go on a vacation this year. I kept looking for ways in
which Oksana could make it to Russia and back in time, could hold
off going home until our vacation was over, or even ways I could
cancel our vacation entirely – my attendance at my own family
reunion included – so that we could save our annual leave
and perhaps go later in the year. When I realized how bad the
situation truly was, I mentally berated myself for being so selfish.
What is my vacation inconvenience to what Oksana’s going
She’s only 23
and she just lost both of her parents in little more than a year’s
time. Because she moved to the States, because she married me,
she wasn’t even allowed to travel to her father’s
funeral nor was she able to tell her mother goodbye. I want to
scream to the heavens: It’s not right! This isn’t
fair! THIS SHOULDN’T BE HAPPENING!
But it has happened.
I’m 31 years old and up until the last few years, I’ve
been remarkable lucky where the death of friends and family are
concerned. Unlike many people I know, I still have all my grandparents,
and I was fortunate enough to know almost all of my great-grandparents.
Losing family is new to me and I still feel as though I’m
the only one in the world who’s going through these emotions.
But that’s not
true. Everyone goes through this at some time in his or her lives
and it’s selfish of me to think that I’m unique in
my pain. It’s perfectly normal, natural even, and has been
going on for millions of years. I tell myself that, but it doesn’t
help. Baring the hypothetical “hit-by-a-bus” scenario,
I will someday go through the same thing Oksana is going through
right now. God forbid.
For now, I’m
trying to focus on the good things. Two years ago, Oksana and
I had a wonderful wedding where I was able to meet and interact
with her parents. Unlike most people, I was never able to effectively
communicate with my in-laws, but during the happy three weeks
they were visiting, that hardly seemed to matter. Looking back,
so many things could have prevented them from attending our wedding,
not the least of which their being denied a visa by the United
I am so very grateful
for the short, joyous time we had together. I will always lament
that I was never able to tell them, in my own words, how much
they and their daughter meant to me. But then… when I think
back to our wedding, I realize that they couldn’t help but
to have seen it for themselves.
entry" is dedicated to the memory of my wife’s parents:
Nadezda Kadchigova 1939-2004
- October 2005
Removal of conditions
You’d think that, 38 months after our wedding, we would be
all through with the expenses. Not true, when you marry an alien.
Oksana has been keeping an eye on the calendar
and, back in February, it was time for her to submit another INS
form. Her temporary green card (i.e., her permission to work in
the U.S.) was about to expire and she needed to apply for the
permanent extension. We fired up the internet, sussed out the
appropriate I-551 form, and started to compile the appropriate
paperwork. We wrote a check for the form submission fee ($200!)
and packaged it up in an envelope with 20 pages of supporting
documents. It was mailed off to Anchorage on February 3rd ($4.30).
A couple months later, we received notification
that our paperwork was in process – that was a good thing,
because Oksana’s temporary green card would have expired
In late August we received another letter from
the Anchorage INS office informing us that her petition for a
permanent green card (for the INS, permanent apparently means
“ten years”) had been approved and that she only need
to do a couple things to make it official.
Step One: Provide three passport-sized photos.
Step Two: Submit the photos. In person… at the Anchorage
In the past, we had come across conflicting messages
about which Alaskan INS offices could perform which actions, so
we were skeptical about the necessity of flying all the way to
Anchorage just to sign something. Oksana stopped by the local
office to ask if, contrary to the instructions, someone in Juneau
could witness her signature. Unfortunately, the answer was no.
There was no deadline stated in the letter, so
we decided to wait before booking an appointment online. In late
September, Oksana and I both received e-mails about an Alaska
Airlines web special. That morning, she was able to arrange to
take two days off from work, booked the appointment, and purchased
a round-trip ticket to Anchorage ($177.90).
Back at home, we decided, once again, to create
the passport photos ourselves. The INS has a seven-page .pdf document
that outlines, in excessive detail, the specifications for an
acceptable photo – right down to the nature of the subject’s
smile. While I studied the form, Oksana made herself pretty. We
then set our digital camera on a tripod in the kitchen and sat
her down on step-ladder. Five or six photos later, we had a picture
with which she was happy.
I took it into Photoshop and cloned out the shadows
on the wall, cropped it to their exacting standards, resized it
so that we could easily fit three copies on a single, 4”
x 6” print, and sent Oksana off to Fred Meyer to make copies.
($.68) She came home, cut them out, and attached them to the paperwork
I used to worry about submitting my own photography
for something as official as an INS photo, but I no longer sweat
it. In house, I can afford much more attention to detail to things
like lighting (not to mention smile mechanics) than your average
passport photographer. And now that we can easily submit digital
photos for true photographic print processing, there’s really
nothing to separate out the “home jobs” from the “pros.”
Oksana left on September 29th, a Thursday, and
returned to Juneau on Saturday. Besides the cost, there was no
real burden in her trip to Anchorage. She stayed with Anya, who
also helped shuttle her around, and they were joined for a night
or two on the town with Lena and Ala – all Russian friends
she knew, originally, from Juneau.
The trip to the INS was painless, too. She stopped
in after lunch, mistakenly neglected to “take a number”
because she assumed that her on-line scheduled appointment overruled
such necessity, but then, a few minutes after her scheduled time,
politely asked what to do. Paperwork here, photos there, inked-up
right index finger here, sign in the box, thank you for stopping
by. Although they confiscated her temporary card, they put a stamp
in her passport that would allow her to travel outside the country
and let anyone official know that her new card was in process.
And that was it; the whole trip for a 20 minute
At least it was productive. Oksana returned on
Saturday, October 1st, and we received her permanent (well, 10-year)
green card in an extremely, amazingly, astoundingly short 19 days
One other bit of good news we learned as a result
of this trip: Oksana will be eligible for citizenship in May 2006!
We had heard that it would be another 2 or 3 years after the permanent
green card was awarded before she could take the big test, but
I guess that’s only if she had gotten a divorce. If you
actually stay married (i.e., don’t cheat the system), it’s
only another year.
So, it looks
like Oksana might be a full-fledged United States citizen next
summer. Time to start studying for that test, sweetie! (Hint:
Slavery was the cause of the civil war.)