Friday, September 17, 2010

A Picture Perfect Day

So, after what seemed like an interminable wait, the photos have finally arrived.  I have selected some of my favorites to share!  I hope you enjoy!

I had the most beautiful bridesmaids - this picture captures their hotness!

My mandros - friends since....long time.   Love these ladies.

This is where I get my good looks ;)

From here, too ;)

I have the most amazing and loving parents.  

This photo captures their "love" perfectly. 

Mike's "crew" - Read to go.

Love this photo to remember being surrounded by our friends.

I love how a few of the girls are cracking up here.  And, that you can see the cranes in their bouquets.

Mandros and our moms.  

My love - my dress.  A perfect find for a perfect day.

I didn't realize this, but someone pointed out that my robe was in my wedding colors.

Feeling calm and excited.

This is one of my favorite shots - we both have the same mischievous grin on our faces :)

One of my favorites - should be clear why that is.

My husband - so handsome!


Monday, September 13, 2010

Life as Mrs. Fujii

Whew!  The wedding is over!  No, that is not a sigh of relief - to be honest, I really didn't feel totally stressed about anything.  The only thing that threw me for a loop was Mike's dad, but I was stressed about his health - not about the impact on the wedding.  But, now that it is over, we can revel in the memories and celebrate what's ahead - which is the REAL fun part!!

Admittedly, adjusting to life as Mrs. Fujii has been extremely difficult for me.  In name only.  Literally.  I never realized what a difficult time I would have saying goodbye to my name.  The name NOBODY said right.  NOBODY spelled right.  The name that earned me countless "choice" nicknames in high school.  Yes, the same name.  Griesmer.  The irony is that I thought people would have LESS trouble with Fujii.  Not true, ladies and gentlemen.  People still spell it wrong - G instead of J, one I instead of two.  The list goes on.

I was so looking forward to having the same last name as Mike.  My belief is that it really unifies you as a family, and so, I didn't think I would have a problem with it.  I started off small.  I changed my profile name on Facebook.  You don't need any official documentation to do that - so I did.  The day after the wedding.  Many of my friends emailed me, saying it threw them off at first to see "Stephanie Fujii" - they didn't know who it was right away.  We all laughed, and moved on.  I didn't have a problem seeing my name as Stephanie Fujii on Facebook.  The challenge was yet to present itself.

Mike and I went to turn in our marriage license the Monday after our wedding.  I wanted to get that process going so that I could do all of the other "lovely" things I had to take care of.  When she handed our certificate over, I cried.  I seriously could not help myself or stop it either.  It wasn't a sob, but even something as simple and basic as a piece of paper really knocked me down.  I was no longer Ms. G.

Then, it was off to the Social Security office - this one didn't hit me until later.  I was so relieved that the wait was not as epic as everyone had prophesied.  It was only 20 minutes before my new name was in the system, and I was being "converted" from a Griesmer to a Fujii.  It was only a few days later when I was talking to my mom that I realized what a difficult time I was having.  I felt like I was giving away a piece of myself - who I have been for the past 27 years.  That is over a quarter of my expected life that I have been this person.  And yes, I do realize that I will be the same - but only in some regards.  You don't realize how intensely personal and important your name is, until you have to say goodbye to it - or in my case, choose to say goodbye to it.

I also struggled because Mike was not having to change anything.  I mean, he gets to be the same Michael Akira Fujii that he has always been.  Part of me was grappling with the "fairness" of it all - why do I have to change who I am, and he doesn't?  I have to become part of him - why can't we meet in the middle?  I had to force myself to go back to why I wanted to make this choice in the first place.  In many ways, I am very traditional, and this is one of the traditions that I respect because I think it unifies your family.  I knew that my heart wanted to follow through, but my head was really getting in the way - damn intellect!

The final stop was at the DMV. I had to go this one alone because Mike had actually gone back to work.  In a way it was good for me to go alone - I had to follow through of my own volition.  I filled out all of the paperwork, and waited for my number to be called.  (Thank God I had scheduled an appointment - this place was BUSY!!)  When I saw B26, I walked up to the designated station and presented my documents and check.  I was shuffled over to the picture spot, where I had to decide on my new signature that would accompany my license for the next however many years.  I smiled for the photo, and walked out the door.  I was welling up, but didn't let it out all the way because I was in the DMV for goodness sakes!

The process was over - I was fully converted, so to speak.

The past few weeks have been especially difficult, because most of the reason I was having trouble saying goodbye to my name is because it is a huge part of my professional life, and my professional life is a big part of my life.  I have been Ms. G, Ms. Griesmer, Ms. G-Unit for the past four years.  There is a certain weight, knowledge and reputation that comes with that name.  Some of those things I am glad to be saying goodbye to.  There are some parts of me that are welcoming the fresh start and new beginning.  But another part is sad that another one of my colleagues is getting to be the new Ms. G.  Mrs. F doesn't have the same ring to it ;)

Kids who I have never had before in class are asking me what I want to be called, which is a bit surprising, since they never knew me as Ms. G.  Walking across campus I respond to everything - Mrs. Fujii!  Ms. G!  Mrs. Griesmer!  G-Money!  Gries!!  Fujiisan!  I feel like my person has fractured into all of these pieces!  I am in the midst of an identity crisis.

However, as the weeks go on, and my old name gets further away from me, and my new one becomes more natural, I find that I am in a weird no man's land.  I am not fully attached to either name, and so feel a bit lost.  My colleague, Dina, actually used my crisis as an example in her mythology class for the idea of "liminality" - where you are transitioning between two worlds.  Some of my old kids who have her now came up in the days after her example, and asked about it.  Was I embarrassed?  Why was it so hard?  Why did I change it anyway?

It's difficult to explain to most teenagers the confusion and sadness and excitement that accompany any significant change in life.  I wanted to assure them that they, too, will soon be in the middle of a crisis - transitioning from high school to college.  But some things I guess it's better to find out for yourself.  So, for now, I am swimming in the abyss of the disconnected, and having faith that soon, my new name will attach itself to me with all of the ferocity my old one did.  That one day I won't be able to imagine being anybody but Stephanie Fujii.  Until then, I will miss you Stephanie Griesmer.  You were a trip.StumbleUpon

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Paradiso - Take Duex

So, after our cigar adventure on Wednesday, we decided to go ziplining on Thursday.  I have been wanting to do it for a while now, and Mike is game to do just about anything.  So, we booked an excursion through the desk at our hotel.  We were super duper excited.  We went in the morning, and of course, it was still raining.  But, we figured that we would be in a bus, and would stay relatively dry (not that it would matter once we got to ziplining, since we would be soaked.  Bus after bus pulls in and out of the drive, and still we are waiting.  Then, this cattle truck looking contraption pulls up.  No.  No way.

Oh yes.  This was to be our chariot.  Great.  Pouring rain and we are riding in this rinkidink bus, in a land where every driver is out there for himself - not ruled by any rules or regulations.  Whatever.  We quickly got over it.  The ride was about 1.5 hours, and we were sitting towards the back of the truck with arguably the loudest and most ridiculous Texas foursome we have ever encountered.  I literally had a headache from this lady who was like screaming across the truck at her friends.  The ride felt like it took much longer than it actually did because 1) Did I mention how hard it was raining? 2) The "roads" in the DR and not considered roads anywhere else on this planet.  There were land mines after land mines and the truck was bouncing around like Mr. Toad's wild ride.  It was bananas.  Every time we hit a crater (which was about every other minute) the Texan would say "Yeeehaw!  Let's do that again!"  Great.  Charming.

The ziplining was awesome.  We had such a great freaking time.  The harness was a bit snug, and pretty uncomfortable, but it was all worth it when we were zipping across the DR jungle.  It was so moist and green because of all the rain, and I was soaking wet most of the time but didn't care at all, because I was having such a blast.  In fact, we had such a great time that we are going zipping again for my sister's birthday this weekend.  To the left is the mini-model of the course they had set up to explain it to us before we started.  There were some pretty short zips, and then others that were super long and fast!  We actually went faster because it was raining, so that was a bonus for sure!  My abs hurt so badly the next day because another way you can go faster (and ensure that you don't get stranded in the middle of the zip) is to curl up in a ball, using only your ab muscles!

At the end, Mike and I were pooped and soaked (as you can see), but we would do it again in a heart beat!!

On our way home, our bus driver had to relieve himself.  So, he did what any DR driver would do, and stopped in the middle of the road and went.  Well, this would have been fine, had another bus apparently thought we were in distress, and so pulled behind us, blocking the road, and causing a car to hit them.  Soonafter, apparently, the car tried to escape, was stopped, and a fight ensued - including watermelon and rock throwing.  I was scared out of my mind.  I am not going to lie.  But, our driver said something, zipped up, and we were on our way!

It had started to clear up a bit in the afternoon, and this was a view from the rooftop near our room.  So beautiful - makes it worth enduring the rain.

The resort was all inclusive, so we definitely took advantage of that.  They had this orange drink called "The Majestic" (the namesake of our resort), and it seriously tasted like a spiked orangesicle.  Delish!!  I had quite a few of those each day (don't worry, the cups were super small - probably to encourage you to drink less.  I didn't get that memo)  The drink feature here is called the Toucan, and at the bottom, you can see, is the orange beverage, along with what I assume is grenadine and windex.  For color.

THIS little guy was just someone we ran into on our way back to our room.  We definitely had cockroaches, and rather large bugs, but it's all to be expected when you are in a tropical climate, so we didn't bug out too much over it.  ;)

The next excursion that we went on was undoubtedly my favorite one.  I really felt like we got a feel for the real DR.  We had a great tour guide, and a great time all around.  It was essentially an agricultural/countryside tour.  We got on a bus first thing in the morning (a real bus...) and rode for a few hours where we got on another one of those darned trucks that took us to the ziplining place!  I thought we had left that experience behind us!  But, this was a different experience entirely, as it wasn't raining, and there was lots to look at on our drive!  Anyway, we stopped off at this little store where we switched vehicles, and saw many points of interest.  First of all, this store wasn't your average corner shop.  Oh no.  You need rain boots?  Check.  Rum?  Check.  Machete?  Check and check.  Call it a one stop shop if you will.  We also saw so many dogs, both at the shop and on our drive to and from.  They were all super skinny, and it was very depressing to see.  But they liked being around people, and people seemed to enjoy having them around as well.  But this poor little guy needs a snack!

The drive gave us some amazing views - lots of fields and pastures with lots of green and livestock!

Our first stop (after the store) was to take a boat across Laguna Limon.  We were excited to get to see the DR from a different perspective.  Until we rolled up on these...

Now what is wrong with this picture? Hole anyone?  Luckily, those weren't our boats.  This was.

What a beaut.  Really state of the art, streamlined technology here folks.  And, to sweeten the experience even more?  This guy who shoved us off.  Yikes...  Don't mess with him folks.  He stopped at the corner shop before work and is packing heat.

The view as we were crossing the lake was absolutely beautiful.  Mountains and fields all around, and local fisherman gathering seaweed like stuff to feed the horses and cattle.  We were in a jalopy of a boat, but we didn't really care.

Then we started down a little canal, which was also beautiful.  It spit us right out onto the ocean.

These gentlemen were cleaning some fish right there on the shore - very cool to see.  There were tons of fisherman on the lake, as I mentioned before.  It was a very active place and we got to see a lot!

After we got off the "boat" (yes, the quote marks are intentional here) we came to find this gentleman who greeted us with a wheelbarrow full of coconuts - and a machete to cut them open for us!  We got to drink warm coconut milk, and eat fresh coconut.  I wish I could say I liked the milk more, but I didn't - it was lukewarm and not that great.  The fresh coconut was definitely more enjoyable, but it was a cool experience nonetheless.

Then we got on our horses.  This was the neck of the horse I was on.  It, too, was sad.  I mean, you have to keep in mind that different countries think different things are acceptable.  But I had a pretty hard time with this one.  There was another horse next to me that had a huge festering sore on its rear, that clearly hadn't been looked at.  The horses were also difficult to ride because they were simply moving as a pack and didn't respond to any reign commands.  Now, my cowgirl days are far behind me.  But I still was expecting for the horse to do something when it felt the reigns on its neck.  But no.  I mean, I could have had no reigns.  Same difference.  The horses literally did whatever they wanted and had no worry about the passenger atop them.  For example: the Italian girl behind me was walked right into a tree where her hair got entangled and she was screaming.  And yet her horse kept walking!  Yikes.

Just a site on the side of the road.

Our horses brought us to this lunching spot, where we dined on lobster tail and beans and rice.  Very yummy, and nice to sit down and take it all in!

 Next came the part that Mike was most looking forward to: cigar rolling.  They had a table laid out with eight or nine cigar rolling stations.  They had a guy to demonstrate the deed for us, and show us how to roll a nice, tight cigar.  Mike took careful notes, and proceeded to roll his very own.

Mike's finished product!
And, he won a prize for it!
After he finished rolling, they collected all of the cigars from the group and lined them up.  Some of them were pretty sad sights, and were called out as such from the beginning!  Mike's made it into the final round and, sure enough, he was pronounced the winner!  I think it upset the macho Italiano a bit, because his was definitely pretty good too.  But not as good as my husband's!  It was fun to see him do that, and pretty funny that he won a prize!

Then we started the long ascent to the top of this mountain - I swear, at some points during the drive, I felt like we were completely vertical.  These trucks have like no traction, and it was a hail Mary to get to the top.  But we made it, and the view was amazing.  


 We headed back down the mountain and stopped at this shack on the side of the road.  It was circular, and had a little barn type thing next to it.  I wasn't quite sure what I was walking into, until I was.  It was a cock fighting ring.  I stopped in my tracks and didn't want to go in - I definitely wasn't interested in watching. Mike reminded me that it was a cultural experience, and so I dragged my butt in there.  Our guide explained the process - pretty much two roosters going at it.  Great.  Luckily, they didn't fight to the death.  They had boots over their spurs.  I still don't see the appeal, like at all.  But whatever - you have to appreciate the differences.

After that we stopped by a local "farmer's" house.  Basically every house in the DR has its own little farm.  This particular house grew cacao and coffee.  He had this great table laid out for us with all of his products, and we got to taste a little of everything.  It was really delish - plus, the farmer himself was pretty funny.  He had a total of four teeth - reminded me of a professor I once had in college, actually.  He just very clearly loved having all of us, and took a lot of pride in his product.

All in all it was a great day, a great trip, filled with great memories.  

A little down time - Margaritas on the Roof!
Waiting for the bus (@6:30)
On the same day as we booked the above trip, we booked a trip to the capital, Santo Domingo.  We really wanted to see the thriving part of the country.  We had read a lot about the capital, and knew it had quite the reputation for theft, targeting tourist, etc.  But, we went anyway!  The bus was almost an hour late in getting there - not a very auspicious start to our journey.  We got on, and had to make a series of stops to pick up other passengers along the way - it was very slow going for a while.  Then, we stopped at this random super souvenir shop - not really what I had in mind.  I hate little trinket type stuff - I try to clear out clutter from the house all the time.  So, I didn't really want to spend any time looking at random, made in China-type, stuff.

After we finally got going and arrived at the capital city, I was pretty surprised.  It was very busy.  Lots of people everywhere - kind of a lot of trash and smog - but it was an urban center.  Just not really my cup of tea!  We stopped at the Governor's palace for a photo opp and then continued driving.  We parked the bus, and got out for lunch at a local restaurant.  They said we would be sampling local DR cuisine.  I saw spaghetti - but, it's all good to me!

Right after lunch we went to the home of Christopher Columbus, and took a tour.  It was interesting, but not as grabbing as our first tour, and by this time it was about noon, and we had been on the bus for the better part of the day, so I was having a hard time snapping out of it!

We did get to stop into a beautiful cathedral, which was wonderfully air-conditioned :)

The way back from the capital was pretty rough.  It was about four solid hours on the bus, and we were supposed to be back to the resort by 8:00 so that we could do our candlelit dinner for lovers ;)  Well, we got to the resort at about 9:00, and, when we got off of the main bus to get on a taxi which would take us to our resort.  Problem.  We get off the bus and approach the taxi we were told to.  He looks at us like we're bananas, and says he isn't taking us.  There is some back and forth, a little bit of fear because we are literally on the side of the street, trying to figure out who the hell is going to take us where we need to go!  After about 15 minutes, another van came and finally took us.  What kind of Mickey Mouse operation was that?  IDK.  I was glad it was over, to be honest!

We arrived about an hour late to our dinner, but the resort was very accomodating, and still sat us at this cute little table.  We were sweaty and travel worn, but it didn't bother us (we were outside, so we couldn't smell each other!)  The dinner was great, and they had it set up very nicely for us.

And finally, it was the end of our trip.  We wanted to be sure to take advantage of the amazing spa that they had at the resort, but saved it to the last day so that we could get out all of the travel knots and "stress" we developed from our honeymoon!  The spa was amazing.  It had a series of pools for us to soak in, with loungers built into the pool so you could just sit back and enjoy.

It was an amazing honeymoon - all that we could have asked for and more.  It was a wonderful way to start the next part of our life together, after an amazing six year head start.  I love you, Mike!


Blog template by

Back to TOP