Monday, October 31, 2016

That Time I went to a Nigerian Wedding... Hallelujah Amen!

It's been a while since I've experienced jet lag but I seem to have a case of it after this weekend....and even though I didn't technically fly to Africa for a feels like I crossed time zones and spent the weekend in a completely different country with a completely different culture.

I did travel though, to Detroit, Michigan...which is still in the same time I have no idea why I am having issues with this "what day is it?  where am I?  what time zone am I in?" feeling.  However, I think it might have something to do with driving to Detroit and back to Wooster in the same day.

Going to this wedding was a last minute choice.  I say choice loosely because it was more of an obligation.  I have been spending some time with a guy and he asked me a while back to go with him to this wedding.  I told him I didn't think we were there yet and we could see where we were when the wedding got closer.  He took that to mean he should check yes, and RSVP for two.

A few days ago he said, "we need to leave around 10 to get to the wedding on time."

"It's this weekend?  I have plans, and we were supposed to discuss this."  I said.

"I already told them you were coming, they rearranged the seating to make a plate for you, and it is a fancy wedding."  He reminds me.  "Plus, I need you to be my date, either you go with me or I don't go to the wedding."

I'm not always covered in sweat.
I can clean up.
Dang it.  It is one of his good friends and I knew he wanted to go to the wedding, so I cancelled my plans and got all fancied up and headed to Detroit to attend a wedding for people I'd never met before in my life.  The only thing I knew about this couple was the groom was from Nigeria, and the bride was a doctor.

What I didn't know is the bride's family was also from Nigeria which meant I got to experience a Nigerian wedding which has kinda been on my bucket list.  Technically, I just wanted to go to an African wedding, I didn't really care which country in Africa, just a total cultural experience kind of wedding.  (And Indian and Romanian weddings are also on the list... and a Royal wedding but Prince William didn't get the memo that I was supposed to be his bride and be a PART of that wedding.  It's cool, I've forgiven him and I really think Kate is a perfect choice for him.)   I've always been fascinated with different cultures which is probably why I enjoy traveling so much...and have no problems dating difference ethnic groups.
I sat and watched women walk in with colorful dresses and  gele headtie styles, and men in their yoruba dress and aso oke.  (I got the names from google... hopefully I got them right!)  And suddenly I was feeling rather dull since I was in a solid blue dress.  I desperately wanted to be dressed as a Nigerian in a bright dress!  As soon as one lady sat down beside me, I oozed out my love for her dress and how beautiful she looked.  I couldn't help myself!  My date, on the other hand, was probably wishing I would chill out!

*While we were waiting for the reception to begin,
I almost go the opportunity to learn how to
make a headtie...but it turned out to be too

The music started and by that I mean, two mean started singing from deep within them.  I had no idea what they were saying but it was beautiful and powerful!  I found myself moving to the music.  Soon, a loud drum beat joined in.  I don't know if you've ever been able to feel power, or spirit, or love, or any other type of positive vibes from music, but this is what it felt like.  Magnified.

Everyone was shouting hallelujah, amen!  Praise be to God the Father.  Over and over.  It was a total spiritual experience.  I imagine this is what the big tent revivals felt like back in the day.  The wedding continued but it was mostly just one long powerful prayer!  Hallelujah amen.  When it was time for the family blessing, the parents walked up and the new husband and wife greeted their in-laws by bending low and touching their feet.  I imagine this is to show respect.  Then, the family surrounded them and the rest of those attending the wedding were asked to place our hands in front of us as if we were putting our hands on the new couple while they prayed over them.

Let me tell you, I had tingles in my arm... and they weren't the kind of tingles you get when your arms fall asleep.  I leaned over to my date and said, wow, this is powerful, and spiritual, and beautiful, thank you for inviting me to experience this.

It wasn't too much longer that we got the opportunity to go greet the new couple.  The singer went back on stage, the tribal music started playing again, and we danced down the aisle to greet the bride and groom, to give them a hug, and then go back to our seats.  Nigerian dancing is hard to explain but it's mostly like a really slow walk.  You step, and shake, step the other foot, and shake.  This is one step.  And they are baby steps.  I'm sure you can imagine this was a very slow process to greet and congratulate the couple.  It was around this time that I learned Nigerians have absolutely NO sense of time.

The ceremony ended after 2 hours and that was only because the wedding planner was in the back motioning to the watch on her hand.  There was a reception to go to and pictures needed done and all that exhausting wedding behind the scene stuff.  The ceremony ended and we headed over to the reception.  It was around this time my date said the most ridiculous sentence I'd ever heard him say....  "we were like the only white people there."

I looked at him with a very confused look on my face.  "Um, you know you're not white, don't you?"  I picked up his arm and put it beside my arm.  Pointing my my arm, I said, "This is white skin.  And you are not white."

"Well, I'm not black.  And I've lost a lot of my coloring since living in the United States. What color would you call me?"  He asks in an innocent way which is equally hilarious and sweet.

"Tan... brown...dark...dusky... even when you are pale, you aren't white!"

"Maybe if you spend a little more time in the sun, you'll be tan like me."  He said, but I remind him that this IS my skin with a tan and winter is shade of pale will only get stronger.

We headed to the reception and watched everyone make their grand entrance with more dancing!  Only, it was like the entire family coming in instead of just the mom and dad.  They would dance and dance, and then people would surround them and start throwing dollar bills on the father of the bride, the mother of the groom, and when the bride came out, she got showered in cash.  I kept thinking... this means something much different here in America.

I was also seating at the international table.  I was hoping for fascinating discussions of culture but everyone at the table was my date's coworkers, so they talked about work and the groom.  I was seated at the same table with someone from Iraq, Turkey, Taiwan, Iran and China.  I felt so American!  I was the only person at the table who wasn't bilingual.  *Note to self, must learn another language.

We kept waiting for "real" dance music to come on so we could join in on the dancing but they seemed pretty content with their tribal stomping, and knowing we had to drive home and it was already late, we decided to call it a day and head back to Wooster, Ohio.... with headaches from the drumbeats, bellies filled with Nigerian food, gifts from parents of the bride and groom, and blessings and prayers from everyone we talked to.

It was an amazing experience, and I'm really glad I cancelled my plans and went to experience it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Trying to Love When Grumpy...

Is there anything worse than going through a phase when you just don't sleep good?  It's taking me a little bit longer to fall asleep at night but I'm still sleeping, however, I wake up completely exhausted from not sleeping very well for 5-8 hours prior!  This has been going on for about four days now and I'm simply done.

I don't want to think.  I don't want to work.  I don't want to do anything but sleep.

However, tired or not, life still goes on, and I had a project with a deadline that needed done or else I wouldn't get paid for it.  Since I like having extra money in my pocket, I decided to go ahead and complete the project with bags under my eyes.

I needed pink tape to finish my project.  I didn't think it would be too difficult to find pink tape since it decorative tape became trendy a few years ago.   I went to the store after a long day at work only to find they didn't have anything but regular, clear, boring tape.

Frustrated and desperately wanting a nap, I ventured off to another store.  It's a store I don't particularly like going to because every time I go there I have horrible service but I didn't want to drive across town and go to the craft store or Walmart, so off I went.

I found the tape in a few minutes and somehow managed to pick up a few planters pots because they were 75% off and pretty!  From there, I decided it was time to leave the store while I still had money in my pocket.  

Now, why exactly do stores have 20 or so check out registers and only one or two are open?!?!  This drives me crazy.  However, I went to the shorter line and waited.... and waited...and waited.  I don't know what was taking so long.  When I picked the line, the customer was literally swiping her credit card in the machine.  This NORMALLY means the transaction has occurred and they would be picking up their bags shortly.  Several minutes later, I finally set my plant pots and tape on the counter so I can check out and head home.

The first item the cashier picked up was the tape.  Somehow on my journey across the store, the cardboard with the price tag fell off.  This series of events made the cashier very distraught!  She had no idea what to do in this situation.  She looked at me, she looked at the tape, she looked at the other cashier, and then she did a shoulder scrunch.  "I don't know what to do.  Did you still want to buy it?"  She asks.

I'm not going to lie, I'd lost my patience several minutes ago and so I wasn't exactly all rainbows and butterflies when I said, "yes, it's why I came to the store."

She paused, still clearly trying to access the situation.  Finally she said, "do you know how much it was?"

"I don't know, 3 something, maybe $3.19 or $3.99"  I respond.

"Well which one was it because I'd hate to charge you $3.99 if it's $3.19."  Her pace was as slow as her speech which irritated my tired self even more.

"I have no idea.  Charge me $3.99, I'm okay with that."  I respond.

She looks at her screen, she looks at the tape, she looks back to her screen.  "I don't know how I'm supposed to override this.  Hold on."  She leans over to the lady at the next register.  "There's nothing on this for me to scan.  What should I do?"

The lady gave her a wow, really smile and said, "why don't you call the stationary department?  You can't sell it to her if you don't know the price."

She looked back at me, completely oblivious to the two other people who have gotten in line behind me.  I only had three items, it shouldn't take me very long to check out, right?   Finally she said, "do you want to go back and pick up a new roll of tape?"

"No, you can call them."  I responded and watched her cluelessly try to call the stationary department.  I realized a minute into her starring at the phone that I should have walked back across the store to pick up a new roll of tape. I kept telling myself she is a moron, idiot, GOD'S child and He loves her though He might be the only one and she makes someone smile but not me.  I radiate love okay, I'm trying to anyway and there is nothing about this situation that should frustrate me other than the fact that she is horrible at her job! 

She makes the call and they have to call her back.  Now, she can't find pen and paper to write down the SKU number.  The two people behind me have moved over to the other cashier and have checked out and gone on their merry way while my cashier still hasn't rung in 1 of the 3 items I decided to purchase.  I almost suggest that she can scan my pots and wrap them in bags while we waited but then the phone rang.  She finally found a pen and paper and by the third ring, she answered the phone, slowly jotting down the SKU number.  She walks over to her register and types them in, one index finger tap at a time while triple checking each number before moving on.

"Oh, look, it was $3.99!"  She exclaims with pure joy.  You are God's child and He created you out of love.  Someone loves you. You make someone very happy.  Just smile at her and be nice. 

"Yay!"  I unenthusiastically reply.  She scans my pots and doesn't put any of my purchased items in a bag.  I stack the pots and throw the tape inside and FINALLY walk out the door of the store.  

This trip took me 20 minutes. TWENTY FREAKIN' MINUTES!

Talk about being grumpy.  I tried so hard to change my mood, to shake it off, to remind myself of every positive mantra I'd repeated over the last few years but it wasn't working.  She simply set off my grumpy mood  and negative thought alarm and as much as I tried to ignore it, the meaner the talk got inside of my head.
So, here's the truth.  Sometimes it is really hard to love people when you are grumpy.  Like, really hard.  Sometimes hating people is easier.  Sometimes I take the easy route even when I know it is wrong.

I made a commitment to myself after this frustrating moment, and that is, I will never go to that store again.  I have never had a good experience there.  I will simply run to the other side of town to avoid a store with slow and not so great service.

And, I'll try to love people even when I'm grumpy.

Monday, October 3, 2016

That Time I Thought I was Going to Die

The first time I went to Cedar Point, I wasn't very old.... or very tall.  In fact, I was about an inch too short to go on any of the REAL rides which completely devastated me!  I was an adventure-chasing-thrill-seeking kid who desperately wanted to be tall enough to ride the Mean Streak.

My brothers were tall enough to ride though.  And they went on the ride while I balled my eyes out.  When they returned, their faces were as white as could be, and my brother B's glasses were still crooked.  Apparently he still couldn't use his arms to adjust his glasses.  He was frozen with fear while riding the Mean Streak.

They hated the roller coaster ride and NEVER wanted to ride it again.

By the time I was tall enough to go on the rides, I was unstoppable.  It didn't matter how big, how fast, or how scary the ride was, I was on it.   The first time I went on the Millennium Force, I laughed the whole entire ride.  I wasn't one of those people who screamed on rides.  Rides were just a fun rush!

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when my brother asked me if I wanted to go with him to Cedar Point.  The company he works for was declaring it their company picnic and picking up the bill.  If there is one thing I like more than roller coasters, it's free tickets to go on them!

Yesterday was the big day.  We got there before the park even opened but there were rides going already.  And that's when I decided to watch the newest ride.  Valravn.  It didn't look too incredibly tall but it was the drop off that was making me weak in the knees.  I've never liked rides with straight drops.  I will take loops until I'm queasy over a straight drop.

Only this ride didn't just let you drop straight down, oh no.  This ride stops you at the very top of the drop and lets you dangle before dropping.  I would watch and count the seconds of the carts hanging, then listen to the screams come from every single rider.

I looked over at my brother and told him, "I don't think I want to do that one."

"But it's the new one, we have to do it...don't we?"  He suggested.

I told him I needed some warm up rides before going on Valravn, and so we started small with rides we'd done many times, and because it was early in the morning, and late in the season, we had very little wait time.  We knocked out the Iron Dragon and Rougarou in our first hour.

After lunch we did my favorite ride, the Raptor, and then we headed to a ride with a straight drop but not nearly as high as Valravn's, the Maverick.  The drop on the Maverick was only 100 feet while the drop on the Valravn was 214 feet.

By the time we finished those two rides and walking around, it was time to eat again.  Knowing we probably only had enough time for one more ride, my brother convinced me to go on the new one.  I agreed on one condition... we sit in the last row.  I did not want to hang 214 feet in the air for 6 seconds while looking straight down.

We got buckled in and the ride started moving up hill... the higher we got, the more I was regretting my decision to go on this ride.   And then we were at the top hanging over....stopped....

My brother was curing like a sailor.  I was trying to but all that came out was sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-oh-oh-oh-sh-sh-sh.... and then we dropped and I screamed louder than I had ever screamed in my entire life! We looped, we went upside down, and sideways... and then we came to the top of another straight drop, though this one didn't stop, it went slow enough for me too know it was coming.  I was in complete panic mode and I looked at my brother and nearly crying, I said, "please don't make me do another DROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOPPPPPPPPPPPPPPP OOHHHH SHSHSHSSHSHSH AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH"  Again, my scream probably could have been heard across the park.

A few seconds later and the ride is over.  My brother tries to give me a high five to congratulate me for surviving the scariest ride I've ever been on in my life.  However, my hands are still gripped to the ride, so he literally has to pick up my hand and slap it to his.  We unbuckled and my legs were shaking but I was so happy to be on the ground again.

"That was scary as hell but it was fun, wasn't it?"  B asks me but I give him the look of death.

"I. I. I. I. am still trying to process everything."  I finally get out.  "I will never EVER go on that ride again."

We have to stop at the nearest bench so I can sit down and calm my nerves... which takes almost an hour.  My brother asks me how many times we went upside down on the ride and I answer him honestly, "Other than the drops, I have no memory of that ride, I'm starting to think I blacked out!"  We laugh but it's true, I didn't block out but my mind was completely paralyzed by fear and that's a feeling I don't get very often.  I couldn't even function enough to swear!

For the record, my brother agrees that it is the scariest ride he has ever been on, and I'm not sure how quick he will be at doing it again, either.  But me, that was the LAST time I will ever ride  Valravn.