Another Awkward Week [3.28.14]

Hey you guys! What's up? How was everyone's week. Mine was very weddingy which is now a real word, in the OED, look it up, fools. Seriously, though, this week was a veritable nuptial extravaganza. Tuesday I went bridesmaid dress shopping and  Wednesday Brian & I went suit shopping (more on both of those below!) and last night I went to a Wedding Expo which was...definitely something! It was a real thing.

Quick backstory, I'm working on this fantastic book coming out in May called Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest by Jen Dollwhich is amazing. I very rarely actually talk about my books here because I don't want the authors to get like, a google alert and read this and realize what a freak their publicist is BUT I already know that both the author (hi, Jen!) and editor (hi, Ali!) a) read this blog and b) know I'm a total freak so it's all good. Also good? The book, so you should probably just go ahead and pre-order it riiiiiight now.

Jen was invited to attend the New York Magazine Wedding Expo and thought: "who could I invite to join me who is engaged and will do anything for a story and some free wine?" The answer was crystal clear. And thus, Jen & I found ourselves in a chic event space in Chelsea at 4:45 PM on a Thursday sipping white wine and stuffing our tote bags with swag.

 

IMG_20140327_211116

The expo was super nice but also suuuuper overwhelming. There were tons of people all about, including one woman whose job it was to walk around in a slinky wedding gown carrying a sign advertising the designer and DJ's playing loud party music and hoardes of women roaming in packs - many of whom brought their baby strollers which, like, I don't judge the carriage before the marriage, you do you, but why did you bring your baby here? I know it's tough to get a sitter but like, is this really the establishment where you want to be carting around a toddler? Possibly no.

Like any trade show there were just booths and booths and booths of vendors and everyone had some kind of treat (macrons! mini cakes! LOBSTER ROLLS!) to lure you to stop and peruse their wares and most also had some kind of opportunity to register for a giveaway, which we did with wild abandon. I can't remember everything I signed up to win but the list included:

  • false eyelashes
  • lingerie
  • cake pops
  • skin treatment
  • a full set of bridesmaid dresses (!)
  • earrings
  • engagement photos
  • dance lessons (!!)

I have yet to receive any calls or emails so I'm assuming I won nothing but I am really holding out hope on those dance lessons.

Just kidding. NIGHTMARE.

Finally we reached that point where we were so overwhelmed with people and stimuli and people that we just sort of crashed and had to run for the door.

I also experience this emotion when visiting art museums or shopping at Forever 21.

I'm really glad we went and do think I saw some valuable stuff, but can't possibly imagine actually going to one of those as an outlet for getting wedding ideas like, right at the beginning. The sheer volume of options and images made my head spin.

Just like Brian and I will spin on the dance floor when we win those tango lessons. Come on, phone, ring, damn it, RING!

Ok, enough. This is already a novel and I've barely even scratched the surface. Let us take a look at what (else!) was keeping it awkward this week:

This Microwave:

20140325_221913

First of all please ignore that pile of cardboard recycling in the corner, I know we need to dispose of that!

Second of all, do take note of the smashed glass on the floor below said microwave. That is the glass tray that came with the microwave, smashed into a zillion little pieces after I knocked it out while removing my microwaveable heating pad because I am 86 years old.

Easy solution: register for a new microwave!

Except: This belongs with the apartment, WHOOPS.

So now I have to track down and purchase a very specific microwave tray lest we lose our security deposit over this.

Luckily I am already pretty skilled in purchasing wholesale kitchen appliance parts thanks to the time I broke a glass shelf in the refrigerator of my first apartment in Brooklyn by dropping a heavy container of leftover Thanksgiving food on it.

Liz Ho: destroying one rental kitchen at a time!

These Dresses:

20140325_190745

Front runners for the bridesmaids! I will give you a WHOLE long and detailed story about the endless search for bridesmaid dresses, made extra endless by my deep passion for over-thinking and making everything 80 billion times more complicated than necessary but for now, a tiny tale.

Kathleen and I went to Bella Bridesmaid in Midtown on Tuesday night to check out some options (it was a really nice boutique with a pretty great selection and good customer service, just FYI if this applies to you) and while we were looking through the racks with our assigned stylist, we suddenly heard the sound of crying coming from one of the dressing rooms.

And by crying I mean like weeping. Like heaving sobs. Like me watching Les Mis hysterics.

I mean...bridesmaid dress shopping is stressful but...? YIKES pull yourself together, man!

It turns out it may have actually been a staff member crying over some kind of personal life drama which makes me feel a little bad for judging but whatever the reason behind the tears, it does not erase how painfully awkward it was for the three of us to resume rifling through brightly colored chiffon, acting like nothing was amiss, to the soundtrack of violent sobbing.

AAAAH.

Also did I make a final decision on bridesmaid dresses yet? Probably! Or not. Just ... don't ask.

This Corner:

20140326_134242

I worked out over lunch the other day and when I came back, managed to spill my entire (full!) water bottle on my office floor, right next to a stack of book boxes. I saw the water encroaching on the box of delicate paper books and panicked, looking around the room for some sort of towel with which I might mop up the spill before it ruined our product.

I got the brilliant idea to use my gym clothes BUT I had my fancy stuff that day and they're all made out of some kind of fancy like, sweat repelling material so they weren't really absorbing the giant lake I created (thanks for nothing, Under Armor) BUT the dirty underwear I had just worn to workout were, in fact, cotton, so I mopped up the spill with a pair of underwear.

It made complete sense at the time, for some reason, but then I though about it later and remembered that in our office we have both a kitchen AND a bathroom, both of which are resplendent with paper towels, products which are designed for the sole purpose of absorbing liquids.

And instead I used my underpants.

WHAT is wrong with me? So very very VERY many things.

I must have been a clutz-o-rama that day because later that evening, I met Brian at ...

This Suit Shop:

20140326_184115

My groom and I went out on an expedition to find a suit for him for our wedding and a co-worker recommended this classy place in SoHo called Suit Supply. She assured us they were known for slim cut suits for slim cut fellows and at a good price point.

And she was right! Despite the semi douche vibe of their website (just...ignore those photos) the place was straight up classy and the customer service was outstanding. They helped Brian find a really REALLY good looking suit  and suggested some matching options for his groomsmen, recommended shoe stores, tie colors, etc.

Meanwhile I just followed Brian around making lascivious comments about his butt. It was weird. I felt like someone's creepy sugardaddy (except let's be real, I'm not paying for this). Like, you always hear stories about rich men taking hot women shopping and then just creepily watching them try on sexy clothes and suddenly I understand the appeal. By the time I half-jokingly but mostly seriously asked Brian to "take off his jacket and sling it over his shoulder like he was in a catalog" I realized I miiiiight be out of control.

But seriously, wedding guests, you're in for a treat with this suit. That booty is A+!

Oh, and also while I was there they offered me a glass of water and OBVIOUSLY I spilled the entire thing on the floor and almost used my scarf to mop it up before anyone saw but luckily someone stopped me before I ruined yet another piece of clothing doing what a paper towel could do so much better.

Then later, I pulled my wallet out of my pocket to put in the stylist's business card and dropped a panty liner on the floor right in front of him. Smooth.

Those were the actual points of this story, but then I got sidetracked being creepy about butts.

You know me!

Shut it down, Liz. Shut it down.

And that's that! What are you guys up to this weekend? I was supposed to go hiking but now it's going to rain all weekend (don't even get me started on you, Mother Nature!) so now we're searching for an indoor urban adventure instead. Any suggestions?

Have the funnest weekend, whatever you do, and if you enter any weird raffles, I sure hope you win!

xoxoxo Liz

One Awkward Wedding: Dress Shopping Tipz from an Expert

'ello. Me again! What's that you said? You want me to talk EVEN MORE about wedding dresses? OK!!!

I could talk about wedding dresses all the livelong day so I think I just might. Now that I've shared the oppressively long and detailed story of my own personal dress shopping journey, I wanted to share a few tips & observations I learned while out in the field. Magazines and wedding blogs always tell you the boring obvious stuff like "know what kind of dresses you like" and "make an appointment" and "don't eat spaghetti while trying on wedding dresses" but there's so much more to this magical process and the world needs someone to share the real dirt. I can be that dirt person!

- Be upfront about your budget. 

This might be obvious and covered by other people but I felt it bore repeating. For serious, y'all, just tell these people what you can afford and stick to it. One thing I was consistently impressed with at all of the stores I visited was how respectful they were of my financial limits. I was nervous we'd encounter that seminal Say Yes to the Dress moment where I'd set a strict line for the budget and then someone would haul out a $4,000 gown and I'd fall in love and have some kind of emotional crisis but not one of the consultants so much as attempted to pull that move. They kept ME in check, pulling me away from more expensive gowns and showing me comparable options within my price range.  I was grateful and surprised by this. Other places might not be the same but that's all the more reason to stick to your guns. Financially speaking. I wouldn't advise bringing actual guns into a bridal salon...

ALSO: if this means that Say Yes to the Dress isn't like real life...what else do you think TLC has been lying about?!!

- Wear nude underwear.

Nothing ruins the illusion of a schmancy white gown like hot pink polka dotted undies shining through on your behind. I realized that the only nude underbusiness I own was of the thong variety and didn't know how appropriate that might be in a semi-public dressing room situation, so the weekend before we went shopping, I spent several hours on Friday night sitting on the floor of Target digging through bins of nude colored underwear trying to find just ONE pair of full-booty coverage bottoms in my size. I managed to find two pair (pairs? I don't know grammar anymore!) that fit, so I snagged 'em and never looked back. Turned out that both were lace and fully sheer, negating the modesty I'd tried so hard to preserve. Shoulda just gone for the thong!

Related...

- KEEP IT SILKY SMOOTH

Let's just cut right to the chase: when you're going wedding dress shopping, you might want to make sure your  whole downtown area is in check, if you know what I mean. Now, obviously I believe in a woman's right to style or not style her body hair as she sees fit, society be damned, however due to said society, many women (for example me) might feel insecure, for better or for worse (undecided) being seen in her skivvies with an unkempt bikini area. SO if you are one of these ladies, you might want to spend an extra few minutes with your Venus Spa Breeze (not an endorsement, but would love some free razors if you're offering, Venus) before you hit the shops, because your business will be on display for many and I mean MANY eyes.

Which brings me to this...

-There Is No Time for Modesty.

In the course of my shopping weekend, I think my bresticles (and more!) were seen by no less than 9 pairs of eyes, some belonging to strangers, some to friends, none, PRAISE HIM to my future mother-in-law. I'm all for casual nudity but there are some situations where you might just want to keep a little mystery alive, you know?  

All of the consultants I worked with were polite and offered to look away but honestly, I figured get over it. Again, as I said, I'm not that concerned in general about a little nip-slippage, who cares, (oh you just KNOW I'm going to be such a self-righteous public breastfeeder some day) and especially in front of these women. It's like being insecure when you go to the gyno. These ladies probably see like 30 pairs of knockers per day, minimum, they are completely immune and genuinely uninterested by your hooters. You can try to play it coy but that'll just drag everything out and make the whole day slightly longer and more complicated so I say just get over yourself and let those boobies fly.

Maybe don't accidentally wear see-through underwear, though, this isn't Showgirls. Sorry, sweet lady at Lovely Bride...that can't have been pleasant.

- CREEP ON EVERYONE AROUND YOU.

Y'all. The VERY BEST part of wedding dress shopping is the other shoppers. It is like physically being inside an episode of Say Yes to the Dress. A DREAM COME TRUE! The very first boutique I went to was tiny and was just me (snooze) but all of the others had open dressing areas. Well, open posing areas, I mean. We changed in private rooms (now THAT would be some casual nudity) but then all of the mirrors were in outside of the dressing rooms, so that the bride's peeps could see her...as could everyone else in the room. It was flipping awesome.

It's important to surround yourself with people who share your interests and hobbies, which is why I choose to hang around people who love spying on and judging other people's business so you can trust my entire crew was deeply, deeply invested in the lives of everyone around us.

There was the gal at Lovely Bride who was trying on exclusively 4K + designer gowns...all of which were hideous...and the other gal beside me who kept trying on really pretty dresses but then pairing them with like, bad accessories or mis-matched veils and Schmoops and I had to physically restrain ourlseves not to just take over her whole fitting and yell "you're doing everything wrong!"

She totally was, though.

At David's on Sunday there was this super cute girl trying on all these short, retro looking gowns and we all kept staring at her and at one point I gave her a thumbs up when I really liked what she was wearing (is is never normal/smooth to give a thumbs up, just FYI), she then started trying on traditional gowns and we all got really nervous and worked up about it because she so clearly was working the short look better...what would she choose?! She chose short and we all cheered (outloud) and clapped for her and she was THE cutest and I love her. Beside her were two Asian girls who may or may not have been friends OR they were both alone and became friends there. Hard to tell. I kind of hope they became friends there and remain life long besties forever. Wouldn't that be a great romantic comedy?! They kept swapping gowns and trying on the same looks. In our super humble, totally correct opinion, all the dresses they were trying were snooze worthy.

RK Bride was the best though, obviously. I mean, that place was out of control. At any given moment like 10 women were trying on wedding gowns and everyone was crowded around staring at them. I was sharing a 3 way mirror with the woman in the changing room next to me and according to my crew, she was having like a legit SYTTD experience. One of the members of her party, who turned out to be her Mother in Law, kept harshing on all of her choices and the consultant literally said "This is about you. This is your day. Not theirs."

Aaaaah! I die.

The next day when we went back to pick up my gown we had pah-lenty of time to kill just standing around like morons while the staff looked for my dress. We became BFF with this group of women shopping for a dress for a wedding the week after mine. We were suuuper invested in her search and she picked the dress we all liked the best!!! But then I found out she was having a beach wedding and I found her gown too formal for a beach wedding and was super upset she didn't ask my opinion first because I thought we were pals?! Girllll why don't you listen to my advice??

Thennn we went to Heartland Brewery near Port Authority to get burgers (unsurprisingly, the very worst burger I have ever eaten...here I thought the bus station was known for their haute cuisine) and who was seated at the table next to us but ANOTHER future bride we had been all up on that day! She and her mom were sharing a piece of cake (cuuuute!) and we basically accosted them, yelling "OH MY GOD HI!! You looked so beautiful! Did you pick a gown?!"

Annnnd they just stared at us in shock/horror and we had to introduce ourselves as fellow RK shoppers who had been staring at them the whole time she was trying on gowns and that's not weird at all. So lesson within the lesson: keep your stalking under wraps, you creep.

It was seriously so much fun. I half-jokingly but actually mostly seriously would consider just going and hanging around one of these salons some day just so I can spy on people buying dresses. Seriously I will do it. Would you like to come with me?!!

Ok, enough is enough, I will stop talking about wedding dresses now! I swear. Hopefully these essential, life-saving tips might come in handy for someone, somewhere, someday. Probably not but I just really like giving unsolicited life advice, so there ya go.

XOXO Liz

One Awkward Wedding: Lemme, Lemme Update You

photo

Hot damn we're good looking.

Ok stop reading literally right now if you don't care about wedding nonsense.

Otherwise, buckle up because I have SO MUCH to tell you!

 It is official:  On August 16, 2014 I will become Ms. Has Yet To Decide If She's Changing Her Last Name (more on that later) aka a married lady! Whoop whoop! And we're planning to pull a full Kardashian and sell rights to our photos to the highest bidder so start making your offers now.

Yay! I'm making weird, dumb jokes, because you know I can't handle genuine emotional conversations, so I'll just go ahead and get it out right here at the top: I'm so excited! In 247 days (but who's counting?), I'm getting hitched! To Brian! My favorite guy. He makes me so happy every single day and I honestly can't contain myself from grinning ear to ear like a damn fool at even the slightest thought of calling him my husband. Squee!

Ok, we're done with that.

So. As is customary in all engagements, the moment that Brian popped the question, the world began to pop the other question which was: when? And also the other, other question, which was: where? And thankfully, no one has yet asked the other, other, other question of "why?" so I think pretty much everyone's on board with our impending union.

Phew.

We quickly stepped to planning because we knew a long engagement just wasn't for us. I know it works for some people, but it's just not our style. Because Brian is a teacher,  he has less flexibility in taking time off from work so we pretty immediately zoned in on August 2014 (between his summer teaching gig and the start of the regular school year) or March 2015, during his long Spring break. I was fine with either but ol' Briguy said he didn't want to wait all the way until 2015 to lock this down.

(One more quick interlude to mention how much I like this dude.)

And thus, we had our sights pretty well set on August 2014.

And the rest, they say, is history!

Just kidding, the rest, they say, is many weeks of researching,venue visiting, budgeting, list making and extreme emotional roller coastering.

I know it is gauche to talk about money but it's also gauche to talk about poop and I've never let that stop me, so a quick note on el dinero. I'll go into budgeting in detail another time (who's excited?!) (no one!) but will say here, just in case anyone didn't realize, weddings are motherflipping expensive. Like, SO EXPENSIVE. I always knew they were pretty pricey but now that I'm actually looking into planning one in great detail do I realize the incredible cost that goes into pulling off a wedding.

And I do understand (deeply) that none of these costs are necessary, but we've decided that it is important to us to celebrate our wedding in the so called "traditional" manner and therefore will incur the costs associated with such an event. Just to give you a sense of what we're working with here I've dubbed the term "Regular Classy" which is to say a mid-sized gathering of friends and family for a non denominational ceremony followed by a meal (with adult beverages) and boogieing down in a festively decorated room. She wears white, he wears a suit, toasts are given, tears are shed, badda bing, badda boom: married.

Despite the many hours I've spent reading wedding blogs and attending actual weddings, I honestly didn't have much of a concept of what it cost to pull this sort of spectacle off and let me just tell you, the results are staggering. Hence the emotional rollercoastering. Every time we find something we like we get super excited (UP!!) and then we see the price tag (DOWN!!) and then we become despondent (WAY DOWN!) and decide we're calling the whole thing off and getting married in city hall (SO FAR DOWN!!) and then we have a heart-to-heart and decide no! We love each other! We want to throw a bomb-ass wedding, we'll figure out the money and make it work! And then we're UP UP UP again, repeat, repeat, repeat.

And we're not talking like, releasing humanely raised turtledoves off a yacht in the south of France while Bruno Mars croons live in the background, oh no. Just REGULAR CLASSY in the middle of Pennsylvania and still we're looking at thousands (yes, like 3 zeros) more greenbacks that I ever dreamed of spending.

Blergh!

So gauche as it may be, I can honestly say that money was a very large factor for us when picking where to do this thing. We toyed with the idea of marrying here in our beloved Brooklyn (Go Nets!) but quickly learned that pulling off a wedding in the New York Regional Area is pretty much impossible if you are on our budget range. One venue I reached out to charges $19,000 just to reserve the space. That does not include chairs, tables, decorations, music, food, liquor or doves of ANY kind. The coordinator did say it might include cocktail tables which, for that kind of moolah, better be made out of solid gold or like, human bones.

NINETEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS! For a room! I will never get over that fact for as long as I shall live. And that's probably not even that expensive in the grand scheme of things! What is this world we live in, you guys? What is this world.

(And HERE is where I put the note that if you personally spent that kind of money on your own wedding totally good for you, do your thang. Also: how are you so rich and can I get in on that? Let me make a blanket statement that henceforth, every snarky thing I say about weddings or the WIC is but crazy broke judgmental lady's opinion, don't let me stop you from getting your nuptial onnn in however you see fit.)

And thus, we zeroed our sights on my ancestral homeland of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Armed with a date range and the knowledge that we needed to find a venue that fell somewhere within the tricky Venn Diagram of LOW COST and REGULAR CLASSY, we prepared a list of targets, set up appointments and made the arduous journey back to Good Old Pee-Aye.

And that, my friends, is where I will stop my story today. Return tomorrow to get the skinny on exactly what went diggity down on said wedding venue hunt, because this is already basically an epic novel and I'm just vain enough to think that my wedding planning journeys warrant a cliffhanger.

Until then!

Liz Ho

One Awkward/Awesome Day: Storm King Style

Hola amigos. First, I have to thank you all for the excitement and warm wishes re: Brian's & my big news. (If you haven't heard, we ended the government shutdown! JK we got engaged. Eleventy billion times more newsworthy.) We're supremo excited round these parts! Secondably, can we all just overlook the fact that I skipped my usual weekly recap last Friday? I have a few lame excuses that I'll bore you with this Friday, so you can just start holding onto your seat righttttttt....now.

Meanwhile, I wanted to share more cool nooz: have checked another item off my 30 Before 30 List, holla! 2 Down, 28 to Go.

Last weekend, Brian and I visited Storm King Art Center, this amazing, gorgeous outdoor sculpture gallery about an hour north of New York City. Oh, we also got engaged there, so full disclaimer: I'll start this as a 30 Before 30 / Travelogue post and then suuuper quickly veer into talking about how we came to be betrothed, so you've been warned. I really don't want to become that girl who's all like OMG I'M GETTING MARRRRRIED but also OMG I'M GETTING MARRRRRIED!  So I figured I could kind of sneak it in a bit? Also I'm aware that I have a short window of time where people still find this interesting before they're like shut the H up, we get it already, SO I'll just make the most of this before everyone gets sick of me.

Too late? No turning back now!

30 BEFORE 30: STORM KING; OR, HE LIKED IT & PUT A RING ON IT: BASED ON THE NOVEL PUSH BY SAPPHIRE: BASED ON THE REAL LIFE OF ELIZABETH HOBAGS

20131006_131826

I'm pretty sure I first learned about Storm King a few years ago while lightly stalking the facebook page of a very distant connection who has a cool life and decided it was a Must Visit Establishment if I'm ever going to embody the kind of cultured, hipster lifestyle I so dream of. If you would like to learn more about Storm King, visit their website and/or look at this sad batch of phone photos I managed to snap during the 11 minutes of our trip when my phone wasn't dead (more on that saga below).

[gallery ids="2347,2348,2349,2350,2351,2352,2353,2354,2355,2341,2340,2342,2337,2336"]

Basically blah blah it's 1.5 hours north of NYC, you can get a discount if you drive up in a zipcar or you can take a bus. Great scenery. Foliage. Art. Etcetera, etcetera. Highly recommended, the end.

Now let's get to the good stuff: ME!

We begin with a Lost style flashback to earlier this summer, as Brian and I are making the decision to wonen samen. I'm VERY into timelines, plans and attempting to control every aspect of my life - typically everything still totally falls down around me, but you can't stop me from trying, world! We'd both agreed that, for us, moving in was a step on the path towards officially locking it DOWN and didn't want to live together long before taking the next step. Basically, as I explained it to my mom, moving is a horrific nightmare and we wanted to get that whole scene over and done before making any other big decisions. We'd put "post Labor Day" as the basic timeline for when an engagement might occur, so true to form, the moment the clock struck midnight on Labor Day I was on HIGH ALERT.

We'd talked about engagement rings and though I knowwwww that engagement rings are ridiculous and paternalistic and basically just a marketing scheme by big diamond companies, and the path to our fingers is littered with the bodies of diamond miners... well, no DUH I still wanted one. (I seem to be like, equal parts angry modern feminist and deeply romantic traditionalist and have a feeling that the push-pull between these two dualling personas will be a recurring theme throughout this whole wedding planning process. That should be fun for everyone!) I do still maintain that it is absurd to spend a ton of money on an engagement ring (unpopular opinion alert!) but I mean, if Brian wants to buy me some nice jewelry and love me forever, well, I'm not going to say no to that. We didn't want to go shopping together for a ring, that felt anti-climactic to us, but he still wanted my input on style, so I took an exploratory trip to a few jewelers in late August with my friend Kathleen, who then reported the findings to ole BriGuy.

And then...I waited. Ever so patiently, constantly touching up my nail polish, just in case. 

This was sort of a weird time for me, like, emotionally. I like to be the one making plans, taking control and felt like we were on the brink of a Life Event and I just had to sit back and let it happen.  Surprise, surprise, I think the idea of an "engagement" is sort of backwards and old fashioned - I think it is important for couples to discuss their future as a unit, to make plans together but then when it comes time for the official asking, the man is in charge? Oh hell naw! Butttt then when it came down to it: hell yes!

Brian told me early on that it was very important for him to do this, to propose, to buy a ring, to be the man with the plan and I wanted to honor that - gender parity is important and deciding things together are important, yes, but I guessss that occasionally letting go of the need to be in charge and allowing your partner to do what feels right for them is important too. So I sat back.

And I'm glad I did - in the moment when he asked me to marry him, I could see how happy he was - how happy we both were and it was the right choice for us.

But I'm getting ahead of myself!

Ok that Lost style flashback got long and unnecessarily dramatic. Just a small glimpse into the internal life of Liz Ho. A fun place to be!

So, now it is Sunday, October 6, 2013, skies over Brooklyn are misty and grey but we decide to take our trip nonetheless. By this point I am 99.4% certain that IT IS HAPPENING TODAY! Clues include: it is our only free weekend all fall, Brian has been extra specially nice to me all week and, most convincingly, he had rented the zip car for the day (pickup time: 8 AM!) weeks in advance. Love this guy, but planning in advance is not usually his M.O. I was prepared. I put together a semi-decent outfit, despite the weather and had SPRINTED to the nail salon at 5:01 PM on Friday for a preemptive mani so you can trust my nail game was on point.

We bundled up and picked up our car and the whole while I was giving Brian the old up and down, wondering where he might be stashing a ring. There were no box-sized bulges in the pockets of his jeans or coat...he'd brought along his school bag so I'd assumed it was in there, but he was being super casual and blase about the whole thing. I mean, I was mildly suspicious when he packed a bag in the first place, but it all made sense- he threw in an extra sweatshirt and dry socks, just in case, and tossed in some deli sandwiches, too - and he never acted like he was hauling precious cargo - he let me shove in some clothes of my own and at one point even asked me to hold it for him. I began to attempt to regulate my expectations to a normal level in the event that this was just a regular day trip after all, no life moments to be had, but we all know how great I am at operating in a relaxed emotional state so let's just say I was buzzing like a bumble bee with a Zac Efron sized coke problem the entirety of our trip. (Too soon? Love you, Zac!)

Adding to my nervous state, my cell phone was once again breaking down. This was my second phone in two weeks, this time with a brand new battery, but I kept encountering the same issues I'd had in the past. Today was NOT the day for a phone break down. Not only is Storm King basically an Instagrammer's wet dream, there was a chance I'd have to make some SERIOUSLY important phone calls!

So we wandered the park, checking out the sculptures, goofing around but neither of our heads was 100% in the game. Brian was trying to think on his feet of when and where to pop the big Q and, as I just mentioned, I was... let's go ahead and say mildly preoccupied with both my phone and my naked ring finger. At one point we came upon my very favorite sculpture, this long, winding stone wall curving its way through the natural landscape to a gorgeous lake at the bottom of a wooded hill. We lingered and as we walked away, I mentioned to Brian how much I loved it. Also, at that moment, I managed to get my phone to re-start and pulled Brian back to the wall so I could snap some photos.

Brian was overjoyed with this plan, thinking it the perfect way to get me back to my favorite sculpture without arousing my suspicion but WAIT! We are foiled. Back at the wall we encounter a nice woman snapping a few photos. I strike up a convo and ask her to take our picture with my now functioning phone. She obliges:

20131006_125636

And informs us that she's on site for a photography class and will be hanging around that wall alllllll afternoon snapping photos.

Thanks for ruining our perfect engagement, woman. I hope you get a big fat F in photo class.

Justttt kidding.

We ambled onward (do you like how I'm making this into like, the longest novel ever written of all time? Forget Infinite Jest, just read my blog!) and found ourselves in a sort of remote, secluded area towards the back of the park, with a few funky sculptures and tons of trees. Brian knew this was his moment, but just needed to distract me long enough to catch me off guard.

Luckily for him, I made it easy just by being my usual attention hog of a self - I spotted a statue of a gigantic head, like Easter Island, and ran towards it, yelling "Brian! Take my picture with this head!" I handed him my phone and struck a pose. Brian took a few snaps and handed me back the phone, and then it went a little something like this:

Brian: "This picture is awesome."

Me, looking at the phone: "Yeah, it's pretty good."

Brian: "It's really big!"

Me: "Yeah, the Samsung Galaxy has a really large screen (followed by several seconds of idiot chatter about Samsung Galaxy phones)

Brian: "No, I mean it's awesome and big because it's exciting, we'll always remember this as the picture I took right before I asked you to marry me."

20131006_133951

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My memories after that are a little hazy - I cried, there was some one knee action, Brian said the nicest things a human has ever said to another human and I, of course, said yes.

The ring is perfect, a vintage Art Deco ring from 1939, gold and gorgeous and delicate. Brian said he'd had it for a month (!) and had been practicing opening the box so he could get it right.  All other fellas on the planet, good try, but ain't nobody cuter than this guy. It's a fact.

We excitedly called our parents, or tried anyway. I couldn't get my mom on the phone - it turns out she was on a bike ride with her pals and out of service. I wanted to tell her before anyone else, so left about 73 frantic messages on her cell and at home and then my phone died, so I sent a few crazed texts from Brian's phone. I finally managed to get mine up and running again on the drive home and sent my sister a series of absolutely bananas texts: "WHERE'S MOM?!" "I NEED TO TALK TO MOM! ALSO SIT BY THE PHONE! YOU KNOW WHY!" until my mom called and we got to share the big news. My phone then proceeded to die on regular intervals for the remainder of our trip and despite a super romantic stop at the TMobile store, met its ultimate demise a few hours after we got home, but allowed me just enough time to chat with my siblings, dad and a few pals.

I started making corny remarks about every single thing we did all night as being the first _________ as an engaged couple - our first sandwiches, first drive over a bridge, first bottle of water, first trip to the TMobile store...first time going to the bathroom. God bless Brian, y'all, he's in for a long life.

And then we spent our first night AS AN ENGAGED COUPLE (!!!) sitting around our house in our underwear, eating Thai takeout and drinking fancy champagne. It was the perfect end to a perfect day - one that felt just right for us. There were no helicopters or flash mobs but just a little bit of adventure, a few mishaps, sandwiches, cheesy jokes, bathroom oversharing and pantslessness. All of my favorite things with my very, very favorite guy. I can't wait for a lifetime of days just like this.

*** The end! Thanks for reading all of this! I know I tend to shy away from the heartfelt stuff but I can't seem to help it thee days. #barf! I hope you might let me share, from time to time, our adventures on the marriage train. I promise this won't become some boring wedding blog, believe me, the world needs another wedding blog like it needs another Mormon mommy blog (zing!) (which is to say millions more, love you, Mormon moms!) but I have a feeling there will be some major shenanigans along the way (aren't there always?) and think it might be kind of fun to write through the process, especially working through those battling ideologies, as the Liz Ho who hates the Wedding Industrial Complex and the Liz Ho who has had Style Me Pretty bookmarked since her single days meet in the ring to duke it out. Let the next great adventure begin! ***