Ah, Las Vegas. The home of long taxi lines and those little guys handing out porn trading cards on the street corners. I’ve been coming here twice a year for the World Market Center’s furniture trade show, and it’s all become somewhat routine by now. I’m staying at the Monte Carlo for a week to help with the show and to check out some of the other exhibitors at the trade show.
We had a pretty small booth this year, so the set-up didn’t take very long. We’re showing a couple beds at the Pavilions at the World Market Center, but soon we’ll have our own showroom in building three, which is being constructed right now and will open next year. Temperatures are going to be over 100 degrees all week long, and they’re forecasting thunderstorms for the next couple of days, which is going to make it humid as well. So much for the “but it’s a dry heat” excuses.
I was too busy preparing for the show and making an emergency trip to Kinko’s to print some things to have much fun. I had to give Viv a call, of course. It’s funny how even the littlest things around here are making me miss her.
I’m spending this week in Las Vegas to help out with a furniture trade show for Land and Sky, so I was sure to get in some quality time with Viv and some of our mutual friends before heading out.
On Friday night, I went out with Viv’s co-worker Tamra and her parents to celebrate Tamra’s birthday at the Cheesecake Factory. The food there is always exquisite, and I’ll have to remember to try the filet that Tamra ordered. Viv and I both got to meet Tamra’s new boyfriend Clint, and the two of them got the chance to ham it up for the camera.
On Saturday, my good friend Ryan Bliven got married. I met Ryan at Faith Bible Church in Lincoln a couple years ago when he was starting up a bible study there. He married Kate Sjogren, who’s the sister of Bekah Duwelling, another good friend of mine who I’ve known for years. The church was filled in familiar faces and it was very good to see some old friends again. Viv also helped me out at the office getting some catalogs ready for our trade show in Las Vegas, and it was very cool to show her the place on a Saturday when it wasn’t quite as crazy as it usually is during the week.
After the wedding, I drove Viv by our old house on Eagle Ridge road. It was nice to show her the old place and share some of my old memories of the house with her. Afterwards, we went back to my place to have pizza and watch the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on DVD before packing up some clothes for my trip.
Six months ago, as Viv and I drove to the Eagle’s Lodge for a night of dancing after sushi at Sakura Bana, she turned to me asked, “So, you want to make it official?” Since then, I have been blessed more than I can say by this wonderful lady. I’ve tried to show as best I can in photos and updates to my blog all of the adventures we’ve been having together, but words and pictures can hardly do justice to the joy she fills in my heart every time we’re together.
On Thursday, I took her out to dinner at Rick’s, a lovely little seafood place by the river, and arranged for a gondola ride around the fountain just east of the Old Market. Afterwards, we had a couple impromptu dances on the way for ice cream at Ted and Wally’s (music courtesy of my RAZR). It was a wonderful romantic evening together. We’ve made so many memories in the few short months we’ve been together and I can’t imagine how many more we’ll be making in the months to come.
I love you, Viv! \|_|
Last night in Omaha, a whole bunch of Jitterbugs and other friends gathered to celebrate Eric/Onion-Boy‘s
43rd 29th birthday at Old Chicago. We had a good time goofing around over pizza and drinks and then went to Eric’s house (aka the Lazy Onion Ranch) to open presents and make smores over an open fire. Viv and I gave Eric an Order of the Stick role-playing game that we’d bought way back on Free Comic Book Day from a comic shop in Omaha, so it was a gift a long time coming.
It was a great night for good food, good friends, and the occasional embarrassing mix-up of medical terminology (not to mention TMI comments from yours truly). Naturally, I had my new digital camera ready and was snapping pictures and video of all the fun to share with you guys, just in case you missed it.
I’ve been busy at work during the last week doing a load of freelance work and preparing for another trade show in Las Vegas. I was finally able to break away from my work to have some fun in Omaha on Thursday, when Viv and I joined some of our Jitterbuddies at Jazz on the Green. We danced in front of hundreds of people out on the eastern steps of the Joslyn art museum. Back at her apartment, Viv showed me her new guitar and gave me my own personal concert. She’s so pretty in pink.
On Saturday, I went with Viv to her mom’s for a delicious brunch of quiche, berries, sausage, and pecan rolls. Afterwards, we drove back down to Lincoln where I bought a new camera. As some of you know, my Canon PowerShot A620 was most likely stolen out of the passenger seat of my car sometime between June 18 and 19 last month, so I wound up buying a new A630, which was almost identical to my old camera, except it has a slightly larger screen and a little better resolution. I didn’t realize how much I missed having a digital camera until I suddenly became giddy about taking pictures again. That evening, Viv and I joined some of our Jitterbug friends at Becky Moore’s house for an ice cream party, swing dancing, and a game of Apples to Apples.
Sunday brought us back to Omaha, where we both went clothes shopping to get some things to wear to a wedding this Saturday and for me to wear to Las Vegas next week. Afterwards, we dropped by the Gene Leahy mall to dance in the sweltering heat for Lindy in the Park. Afterwards was our usual run for ice cream, swimming, and fun for the rest of the evening. For dinner, Viv and I went to Whole Foods and had a big vegetarian dinner made mostly of things like couscous, tofu, and some things we’d never tried or even heard of before.
It was a great weekend overall, but the best part is that I was finally able to capture the fun again with a new camera. Being able to take out my camera and grab shots of my friends or a gorgeous sunset whenever one happens to appear is just priceless. I’m still hoping to track down the old one. I was able to retrieve the serial number for my original camera, so I’m planning on filing a report with the local police department and see what they can help me turn up.
Our last big day with the family came on Saturday when Viv came down to Lincoln to have lunch with us at P.O. Pears and watch Ratatouille. The movie was pretty good, though it didn’t quite live up to all the gushing reviews I’d read ahead of time. My mom fell asleep within the first few minutes and said later, “I was confused. I couldn’t see what that spaceship had to do with anything.” We also drove down to the Sunken Gardens to get some family pictures taken, initiating Viv into a long-standing Johnson Family tradition of standing outside in the blazing heat while Dad crouches behind his camera and scoots us around with his hand for half an hour.
On Sunday, I went with Viv and Eric to the Heartland Festival with Luis Palau. I haven’t been to a large Christian gathering like this in a while, and it was a great time to get together with other believers in a spirit of fellowship that involved a couple hours of music and extreme stunt bikes. We had a good time, despite the scorching mid-July Nebraska heat, though next time I’ll be bringing a vinyl cooler stuffed with water bottles and frozen popsicles. There was plenty of singing, dancing, a great message, and an occasional tickle fight between me and Viv. It was a great time of fellowship, something I hadn’t enjoyed for a long time.
It’s been a pretty full week with mom and dad here in town. On Thursday, we had Viv over to play with the Wii. I made sandwiches for dinner and then we went to Mike and Bekah’s for dessert. Some of Bekah’s family was visiting, and between the lot of us we had more than our share of native Californians, which naturally led to discussions about earthquakes, artichokes, and Disneyland. Today, after lunch with some of dad’s colleagues from academia, mom and dad came by Land and Sky afterwards to try out a couple of our all-natural beds. They seemed to like our one model with memory foam the best. All they need is a good rope now to strap it to the top of the van and haul it back east to North Carolina.
My parents have been on a trip for the last couple of weeks driving across the United States and meeting a lot of friends and family along the way. They spent this week with me and my brother Nathan here in Nebraska. They were able to give Nathan his birthday present. He’s now the proud owner of a Nintendo Wii, a video game system so unique and advanced it can’t be purchased anywhere in corn country. On Wednesday we drove up to Omaha so my parents could meet Vivian for the first time. My dad treated us all to dinner at Fuddrucker’s, a family favorite place since we lived in Alabama, and then we returned to Viv’s to watch some slides of us growing up and then play a round of Balderdash before having some of Viv’s delicious cherry cheesecake. It was a great night, and I learned that my mom and Viv have a lot in common. I suppose I inherited my dad’s good taste in women.
It’s been a jam-packed Independence Day here in Nebraska, and I’ve done so much more than I ever expected to do in a one-day vacation. The fun started on Tuesday night when Viv and I got to join some of her old friends from Great Adventures to watch the fireworks at the Rosenblatt Stadium from the 10th Street Bridge. We played some volleyball before the show started, and they played some of my favorite songs during the fireworks. Both Viv and I would have been dancing if we hadn’t had such a pretty display of pyrotechnics to distract us. Afterwards, we headed back to a friend Angie’s house to play games while the traffic very slowly cleared out over the next hour or two.
On Wednesday, Viv and I got to march (and dance) with the Omaha Jitterbugs in the Ralston Fourth of July Parade. It was a serious workout, doing the Lindy Hop in the July summer heat down a mile of sizzling concrete, but we had plenty of water along with us and we took a break every so often to do a shim sham or some Charleston. It was the first time we’d had a real energetic crowd cheering us on after every song, and it gave us all energy to keep up the pace. I was almost sorry to see it end. I’d love to do it all again sometime. Special thanks to Cliff for getting pictures of the parade.
After the parade, we needed to cool off, so we crashed at a Dairy Queen and stayed past their holiday closing time eating ice cream and stealing each other’s french fries. They eventually kicked us out, and a couple of us went back to Viv’s to swim for an hour or two and play keep away with a frisbee.
As the sun started to go down, it was soon time for fireworks again. Viv and I drove back to Lincoln to grab some dinner at Arby’s and take it with us down to Oak Lake with my brother Nathan to watch the Lincoln fireworks display with music provided by the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra. Afterwards, the three of us found a spot to set off some of our own fireworks that Viv has gleefully bought last Sunday. I never would have guessed she was such a “pyro,” as we stayed up past midnight lighting fountains, shooting off artillery shells, and playing with sparklers. It was easily the best Independence Day I’ve ever had.
I made no less than three trips to Omaha this weekend, driving up on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to have a bunch of friends with the usual gang of jitterbugs. On Saturday, Viv and I made some cookies together and went to see KC and the Sunshine Band in Memorial Park. They were giving a free concert, so we got to shakes our booties to their groovy tunes with tens of thousands of other people. Then we got to watch some fireworks after the show before scooting on up to Jitterbugs Night Out.
On Saturday, I drove back up to Omaha with Nathan, and we played Dungeons and Dragons for a couple hours with Viv, Ben, “Onion Boy” and “Schmendrick.” Viv got to wear her tiara and play the role of Princess Cheeseviv of the House of Brie. Schmendrick played a rather obnoxious bard who failed to steal a ring from a corpse and then had a wand blind everyone in the vicinity while trying to figure out what it was for. Nathan’s Barbarian spent most of the time stomping out ogres and goblins with relative ease as my rogue sat back and watched. After the game, we made a fire and then Viv brought out the delicious Blueberry Cake she had made to celebrate Nathan’s birthday. She’s such a sweet lady.
Eric / Onion Boy has his side of the story posted here.
On Sunday, I came back up for some dancing at Lindy in the Park, which had a very nice crowd show up despite the heat. Cliff was there getting pictures, as usual. I soaked through my new Jitterbug T-shirt pretty quickly and then we all went out to Maggie Moo’s for ice cream afterward. After a nice little sugar rush and lengthy fall down from a hummingbird’s high, I went with Viv back to her place for a dip in the pool and some Papa John’s pizza, which wound up showing up an hour or two late and thus becoming free.