Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I ♥ (Upstate) NY Part II

(If you haven't read Part I yet, scroll down so you know what's going on!)

I am currently in my friend Levi Kreis' HUGE, gorgeous apartment in New York City and this is the view from where I sit:

Charming, eh? How ya like that pile of trash, there? Ah well...I have learned that Midtown is not my favorite part of NYC. But you can't complain when the accomodations are plenty comfy AND free! (Thanx, Levi and Jason! ♥) 

So rewinding back to Friday when I was still Upstate boppin' around my home town of Johnstown, NY...THAT was a busy day. Got up for breakfast with Dad and the seesters at an AMAZING diner called "Forever Young's" -- all fresh food, bought from local farmers, everything hand cut, homemade recipes (the kind that use no measurements and never turn out quite the same way twice) and mountains of it. An example of their sausage and cheddar skillet with cinnamon raisin toast:

Are you kidding me???

After that I honestly don't remember what we did, so drunk was I with delicious artery-clogging yumminess. I think we all went back to Mom's (in whose little apartment we were ALL staying - eventually it was Mom, me, sissy Jodianne, seester Mandi, baby brudder Travis and his sweet girlfriend Meg - three bedrooms, one bathroom) and I took a little nap before I had to get to the church for rehearsal with the wedding organist/pianist, Ed Goodemote.

The bride's mother, my Aunt Chris, was a teacher for...oh I dunno...lots of years. She taught with Ed for the majority of it, so she asked him to play for the wedding. He was a very, very sweet man and as it turned out was also in the middle of doing a play written by my high school drama teacher, Roz Melita, which also featured my Uncle Tony (my late bio-dad's brother, who is fabulously gay...I guess it's in my dna, which would explain why gays find me wherever I go). This is how it is in Johnstown...everyone literally knows everyone else and no matter how long I've been away, names from my past will inevitably surface whenever I come to town. At first this freaked me out, but now I've accepted it and have come to appreciate that familiarity, knowing there will always be a place where people knew me before the Big Wide World got to me. But I digress...Ed and I had some practice time and all went relatively well. It was a little bit of work, as he was admittedly nervous and I'm used to players who are practically one-man bands, but in the end he did just fine and I think everyone was pleased. And he was truly soooooo nice.

Rehearsal dinner at The Winner's Circle in Fonda. Buffet. REAL WINGS!!! Giant platter of olives and pickles, at which point I said to mom, "This is definitely Jenny's wedding," as she was the one who claimed ownership of the olive and pickle platters at Thanksgiving every year when we were kids. The cake, however...Jenny's brother Tom was responsible for picking it up. He did not proof-read it. It said, "Congratulations Jennifer." That's it. No mention of Kevin, the groom. So Jenny, a resourceful girl, took some cookies and smashed them onto the cake over the writing. Now it was just...cake and cookies. Brilliant. Aunt Chris and her mother-in-law Charlotte sat with us at our table, which was nice but fun also cuz we got the low down on who everyone in the wedding party was. After dinner followed the bridesmaid and groomsmen gift presentations and tears were shed by all. After that mom and I left because baby brudder Travis and girlfriend Meg were due in from Boston.

Trav finally showed up, Mandi and Jo harrassed him for awhile, we all crashed.

Saturday was wedding day. Dad wanted to have everyone meet for lunch, but I stayed at Mom's, alone, to shower, warm up my voice and study my lyrics (partly in Italian, which I haven't had to sing in about 20 years). I live alone. I was feeling a little overwhelmed with all the people, so I needed to get my head on straight before I had to sing. I hate that I missed more time with Dad but I'm glad I had the time to myself, cuz by the time everyone got back and we had to go into "buncha-girls-and-one-dude-getting-ready-for-prom-in-tiny-apartment" mode, I was prepared (poor Mommy was out of her skin with all the stuff laying around the house...she tried so hard to keep it orderly that she'd practically wisk a glass right out of our hands to wash it whether we were done with it or not!). And they were kind enough to bring me back half a grinder from Romana's! If you don't know what a grinder is (and most people outside of the mid-New York State area don't), it's basically a toasted sub but soooooooo much better than any of that stuff you get at Quizno's or chain places. Once you have a grinder, you wil snub your nose at any other sub on the planet thereafter. And Romana's grinders are AWESOME. In fact, I want one right now. Unforch, I am in NYC...so I guess I'll have to settle for an authentic slice o' pizza instead (darn the luck).

So back to the church early for one last rehearsal with Ed...and then The Wedding. And I got the best seat in the house, sitting in the choir loft! Check out this view!

I wanted to take more pictures but my cell phone camera is rather loud and I didn't want to disrupt things too much. I'm glad I got this one good shot, though.

I got through the wedding songs without having a meltdown...I am grateful for the last minute rehearsal cuz THAT'S when I got choked up, so it was out of my system by the time I had to do it for real. The service was short and sweet and over before we knew it (as it should be!). It was lovely and simple. And of course Jenny giggled through the whole thing, cuz that's what she does when she's nervous. Totally cute.

Oh, and for those who might be curious, I sang "All I Ask Of You" from Phantom and "I Will Be Here" by Steven Curtis Chapman as people were being seated, then Andrea Bocelli/Celine Dion's "The Prayer" for the candle lighting.

(Off topic side note...Levi was not here last night when I got in...he was in Montreal doing promotional stuff for MDQ and a show of his own stuff. He got back a bit ago and is now in the living room as I type running songs by Asleep At The Wheel, who are sitting in for tonight's MDQ encore...yeah, just singin' and playin' away...neener neener, LK fans!)

RECEPTION!!! We went to the Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia. The open bar was cool, but the drinks were a bit weak (in all fairness though, there is more of me to inebriate than most people). So I felt like I got a lot more sodium from my vanilla vodka & Cokes than I got happiness. No matter though, the dinner was DELICIOUS  and the dancing was a hoot. Where I come from, it's not a wedding reception if there's no sit-down dinner and a DJ or band (take notes, Southern States...mingling and finger foods is NOT a wedding reception!). I even got my juicy patootie up on the dance floor a few times! I actually went a little nuts when they played Bon Jovi's "Living On A Prayer" (I am not ashamed - everyone was singing at the top of their lungs, including me, them's my boys). My mom and her twin, Uncle Steve, did the jitterbug at one point, all my aunts, uncles and cousins were dancing with each other, Cousin Bill split his chin doing the worm, Dad and Linda cut a very fine rug, and even my 85 year old grandmother got out and did her thing once or twice. My only complaint is that it was over too soon. We had a blast!

The next day dawned way too early. We had lunch planned with Dad and Linda at The Raindancer in Amsterdam (seriously...I know I am not the healthiest or lightest of eaters on the planet, but by Sunday evening I didn't want to eat again for two weeks after this trip!). I pretty much had decided that I liked Linda by the night before, when she didn't flinch over Dad's or his kids' purposeful goofiness on the dance floor (we are a lot to take in), but dinner on Sunday made it official. Dad seems relaxed with her, able to be himself, which is not something I noticed with any other women he's dated...and since he actually went and married this one, it was a great relief. She seemed to just let him be who he is and like that about him, which is something I really wanted for my dad. Stamp of approval. Eldest daughter can rest easy.

After that, it was back to Mom's to see Trav and Meg off (way too short a visit with them) and some much needed lounging. Completely uneventful last night in J'town.

Monday morning I got up around 8:30 to pack up my stuff and get on the Amtrak to NYC for a few days. But before I got on the train, I stopped at the Willing Helpers Home, where my grandmother is a new resident, to see her one last time. She quite literally moved in there the week before I got home. She is suffering from dimentia, her short term memory is shot. And she knows she's forgetting things. Without going into detail...these were the not-so-fun parts of my trip. I face the possibility of her not knowing who I am when next I come home. I am losing my Mima and that makes me intensely sad.

The stupid Amtrak was an hour and a half late. WTH??? I shouldn't be surprised really...this is where I come from. The station is a "shanty" (as my bro called it) in the middle of nowhere. They don't even have a station agent there. What can ya do? Otherwise, it was a pleasant, comfortable trip, WAY more comfy than an airplane...in fact, so comfy that I slept through the whole dang thing and didn't see hardly any of the countryside! Everytime I kinda awoke, I'd groggily think, "Oh...that's awfully pretty..." and then I'd be back out like a light (note to self: travel by train whenever it's possible to do so...but try and be awake for it, at least through gorgeous New York State). I finally get to Penn Station, which wasn't so easy to find my way around (seriously, they need a "To The Surface" sign or two!), and I was hit up for money three times by men claiming to be veterans (one of whom looked like he'd been in a bad fist fight) before I ever started my walk to Levi's apartment. Ah, Midtown. I'm back.

I think that's all I'll write for now...I'll leave my singing exploits for Part III. I'm finally feeling slightly hungry again and want to go get a slice. Yay!

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