taking a dip in familiar waters + wedding!

(the goings on of my journey back to the states as recorded during said journey)

Amsterdam airport:
this was my first time doing a security check AT the gate instead of somewhere by the passport check. i guess they sell things in the airport that you could use to cause problems. I can't decide if I feel safer or just annoyed. they grabbed a middle eastern family and weren't letting them past questioning about their baggage. that's racial profiling. put them through the xray and get over it. they asked me when where and with whom I packed my bags and whether I'd left them unattended. I understand why but really? who just leaves their bags? who lets their new creepy friend pack their bags for them? I don't.

I didn't like the xray at all but at least it's transparent so I didn't feel claustrophobic. they frisked me and took my water which I bought in the airport in France. the lady was so kind to let me chug a little before confiscating it. so much for hydration when they don't give you shit on the plane, forgive my language. those whole 5 minutes got me pretty darn nervy. hopefully i won't be seated between so many babies. again. at least I have my book and practically fully charged iPod. and my sleep mask. that's important.

I also wish I could post this.

Minneapolis airport:
so coming back to America really is a culture shock. the bathrooms have stalls not rooms. the toilets have seats. AND toilet seat covers! people make small talk with you in public (they do it in France too but it's different). tax isn't included, oh yeah.... and we tip here. also. three size choices on coffee? okay I'll get a medium because I don't want just a shot....
holy Jesus! this thing is HUGE. but man does it taste good. I feel like a saucer-eyed foreigner discovering my own culture. I don't miss buying beer and alcohol yet but I'm sure it will come to me at some time. voice volume is normal again yay! I still have the impulse to speak in French to strangers. I already miss saying bonjour and au revoir/a bientot/bonne journée! and I miss la bise!! however I'm looking forward to all the hugs I'll be giving and getting.

I've been through security 3 times today. wow. that flight across the Atlantic was ridiculous cause it didn't get dark. and there were movies. and it felt like daytime. today is the longest day of my life: 34 hours long! they did give me water on the flight :) and food and coffee and food and coffee!

(and now i continue the story)
since i had some time to kill in the minneapolis airport before my flight to sacramento, i found my gate... and to my great joy, there was one row of seats that didn't have armrests, so i laid down for a snooze! i got probably 45 minutes of sleep plus half an hour of being horizontal, which was just enough to make me feel a little less insane.

and then i arrived in sacramento all hyped up on no sleep as well as some coffee. i used the (free!) internet to call my dad on skype and tell him i had landed. he picked me up and took me pretty much directly to in-n-out (i was hungry and it was open) and then to our hotel. unfortunately i was on france time (8am) despite it being after 11pm. i was quite the friggin chatterbox, let me tell you. i was also convinced that the sun was going to come up at any moment so i could start my day, but being convinced of a fact doesn't make it true. my dad really got a kick out of my spazziness. luckily, once i laid down on that 10-star bed (at least that's what it felt like to me) in the hotel i zonked within 5 minutes and slept the whole night.

the next morning, we grabbed the breakfast at the hotel -- it was bizarre having more than just a coffee and toast/a croissant for breakfast. i had a little of everything, even a muffin! and then we hit the road to monterey, where the rest of the family was. my task for the afternoon upon arrival was to make tiramisu as the dessert for the rehearsal dinner (which my fambam was making/hosting). i found a grocery store that actually had lady fingers and marscapone (phonebook ftw) and then managed to assemble the lovely dessert with great skill and finesse! and my was it successful -- everyone loved it! even i was surprised when i took that first bite. yum :)

the day of the wedding (remember, that's why i took this trip in the first place) was foggy and chilly. i woke up a little too early (i don't know why!) and had some coffee and toast to get started. i don't really remember what i did all morning, but i did eventually do my makeup and hair and then slip into my dress. i felt so pretty, i could only imagine how rachel was feeling while she was getting ready!!

even though i was the "flower girl" i didn't actually get to drop flowers (and i'm not so much a girl)... but i did get to roll out the red carpet, which i feel was even more of a symbolic thing. she walked down the aisle to "at last" which was nothing short of perfect. the ceremony was short and sweet, but with so many happy tears. for those who don't know, my dad opened the ceremony and rachel's dad officiated. one of the best parts was when phillip cried a tear while saying his vows, rachel wiped it away. in all honesty, i think rachel was the only one who didn't actually cry during the whole thing (but i can't be sure). they were both lovely and sooo happy!

they took pictures and then grabbed a coffee on their way to the reception (which made them a little later than people would have liked, but hey it was their day!). we ate the dinner and inevitably gave toasts. i gave a little speech, and i can't quite remember what i said, but i cried and got really really nervy but it was all washed away by the responses their eyes gave me. and then there was dancing and drinking and cake-cutting and lots of merriment.

and then we (my dad drove and my aunt and i followed) accompanied the newlyweds to their honeymoon, which was at a hotel in carmel (a ritzy area on the coast there). and then there were a few hours of free time to burn (it was after all only 9 when i got back) so i just hung out with my brothers and the groomsmen who were staying with us.

the morning brought packing up, cleaning, and dashing out of town to get me to the airport on time. was only JUST early enough (got there an hour before my boarding time). and then the journey back... the goodbyes weren't really that hard, but i wasn't looking forward to so many hours of travel. first i flew to dallas, which was fortunately only a 3 hour flight. i definitely had too much time in that airport though. i got sick of texas just being in their airport (and i've never even been to texas!). but the corn chowder was good. and a man was kind enough to let me use his cell phone to call my mom and leave a message before i headed to london.

now let me tell you, i planned ahead for that flight. i changed my seat so it was in the middle next to two empty ones (i don't know why there were so many on that plane though) hoping no one else would change to sit next to me. so i had a bed for the flight back to europe! it felt so good.
and they fed us lots -- dinner, snacks, water, drinks, breakfast. i did some sudoku and then i got probably 7 hours of sleep, so i was able to function the next day at the london airport, at least minimally. unfortunately, my 4-hour layover got a little longer because my flight was delayed (thanks to some strikes). i got to experience buying things in euros AND dollars and getting change in sterling. it was too bizarre. too bad i couldn't shop too much, being a poor student and all -- i mean not being able to afford designer anything like every other normal person out there! once in lyon, i had to pop through customs and i had a moment of panic because i don't have my residence permit, so i didn't know how they'd respond. i was happy when he glanced through, stamped and handed it back to me saying "bonsoir". win! and then i eventually got home (had to take the train-shuttle thing back) and crashed out... but i slept through my class the next morning, oopsie!

and now my great task has been getting back into the swing of things, but the strikes don't help!

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