James and Angela

James and Angela were married June 12. It was a fantastic weekend in San Diego. Gorgeous weather, family and friends all gathered together in the same city, just good times all around. We outlet shopped at Carlsbad Company Stores, played No Limit Texas Hold'Em with poker chips purchased at Target, watched the Will Ferrell Architect spoof speech from the Matrix Reloaded DVD about 74 times, walked along the beach, and showered Ryan with attention.
Ryan is the first baby to enter our family, and so we all love to spoil him rotten. It doesn't hurt that he's ridiculously cute. He had a whole new arsenal of tricks with which to break us down. First, he can walk now. But when he prepares to run, he first gets down in a modified sprinter's crouch...

He can also do the fist pound now (the move where two people bump fists gently, a variation of the high five or handshake). Just hold out your fist and say, "Pound pound!" and you'll get some love.
Ryan has also learned some moves from Eric Carle's From Head to Toe Board Book. For example: "Ryan, what does a monkey do?"

"Ryan, what does a bear do?"

We could go on and on, believe me. Gorilla, elephant, you name it.
Ryan also knows where his head, ears, and nose are. If you ask, he'll point them out. And he's nailed the major baby sign language moves: more, please, thank you. They didn't have baby sign language back in my day. Now, when you do something to make a baby happy, they start giving you the "more" symbol. It's mind-blowing.
I played a round of golf on Torrey Pines South Course with Sharon's parents and one of my stepmom's family friends. That course hosts the Buick Invitational each year, and it will host the 2008 U.S. Open. The course sits on the cliffs that run along the Pacific Ocean. The course is difficult primarily because it's very long, the rough is impossible to hit out of, and there is sand all over the place, protecting every green, waiting halfway down fairways to swallow errant drives.
It was my first full round since removing the cast from my pinky, and my swing was shaky. By the end of the round, I started to feel better. On the par 5 18th, I hit a driver and 5-wood about 500 yards and had a sand wedge over one of the only lakes on the course to reach the green. The pin was tucked around 70 yards away with water in front and sand immediately behind it. I tried to finesse my sand wedge in.
Plop. In the water. I dropped and swung again, a bit harder. Plop. One more time. This time I hit the green, but my ball spun back into the water. Straight out of Tin Cup Finally I made it on and one-putted, ending up with a 104 for the round. Sigh.
Later in the week, all of James brothers and brothers-in-law had to decide whether or not we'd follow through on a goofy idea I'd tossed out at Christmas last year. My thought was that the four of us (Alan, Mike, Jeff, and yours truly) could perform a dance at the rehearsal dinner. It was just the type of goofball public humiliation that James would appreciate.
Karen choreographed a dance for us to Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson. We rehearsed a bit at Christmas after James had left, but nothing in between. So it was looking dicey when we arrived in San Diego, especially with Jeff and Alan not arriving until Friday afternoon.
But the bonds of family run strong, and late on Friday night, after the rehearsal dinner, Karen showed us the new routine, and we practiced in our hotel room until the wee hours of the morning, bleary-eyed, with Smooth Criminal playing from my Powerbook speakers. The next morning we found some fedoras at a costume shop near Mission Bay, and unless one of us blew out a knee during the ceremony or chasing down one of the appetizer waiters during cocktail hour (mmmmm, baby lamb chops) we had no more excuses.
The wedding itself was gorgeous, right outside the Torrey Pines Lodge, overlooking the 18th hole. The only distraction came from a golfer who missed his putt and shouted, "Damn it!" during the ceremony. From there, it was on to dinner and dancing. We danced, and then we did THE DANCE.
I have a whole new admiration for those who dance for a living. First we rehearsed outside again in the dark on the Torrey Pines practice green. But under the heat of the spotlights with an audience cheering, it's hard to remember your moves. A few times my mind just went blank. But we pulled it off...I think. Maybe someday I'll be able to watch the video.
Most importantly, James and Angela became husband and wife. James is my stepbrother, but our family is so tight we just refer to each other as brothers. He's the funniest guy I know; I think every other sentence out of his mouth is a joke of some sort. He is also a master magician, a vice president at a private equity firm in NYC, and as charismatic a guy as you'll meet.

Angela and James complement each other perfectly. Where James is animated, Angela is polite, sweet, and courteous. She is also extremely neat and organized. Her multi-page wedding schedule/itinerary was so detailed it blew us away. The wedding coordinator called Angela the most organized bride she'd ever worked with.

They're the hip, stylish, young Manhattan couple, and hopefully soon they'll be my neighbors.
I think of all these things now because I'm in the midst of the stress of moving, or at least packing up to go homeless for a few months. It's sweaty, time-consuming, and thoroughly unpleasant.
But the thought of being closer to family puts everything in perspective. Recently, I've had several friends lose fathers to cancer. I'm in the midst of a string of weddings. My college friend Polly become a mother to Emily Katelyn just last Saturday. All the workings of the world feel amplified.
My immediate family is like the Brady Bunch--how often does one get along perfectly with all of one's in-laws, step-siblings and parents, uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces? Our family rocks and rolls. It's a miracle and a blessing. I made a DVD of photos and video clips from our Christmas together in NYC and from the wedding in San Diego, and when all this packing gets me down, I pop it in and laugh. Good times.