Tag: Andy (Page 1 of 8)

LANDLINE by Rainbow Rowell

I first read LANDLINE back in 2014, shortly before my wedding. This was intentional, as I knew the book focused on marriage — what it’s like and what it means. Not that I was totally clueless about those things. Andy and I had been together for 9 years already, and living together for the vast majority of that time. For us, the wedding was sort of a formality, albeit a joyful one.

Last year I re-read LANDLINE (the audiobook version this time) and found myself drawn to many of the same insights about love and commitment and building a life together.

She hadn’t gotten to say “I love you” — Georgie always said “I love you,” and Neal always said it back, no matter how perfunctory it was. It was a safety check, proof that they were both still in this thing.

Andy says “I love you” to me every morning before he leaves for work. In some ways, it’s perfunctory. In same ways, it isn’t at all.

Georgie never thought she’d be old enough to talk about life in big decade-long chunks like this.

It’s not that she’d thought she was going to die before now — she just never imagined it would feel this way. The heaviness of the proportions. Twenty years with the same dream. Seventeen with the same man.

Pretty soon she’d have been with Neal longer than she’d been without him. She’d know herself as his wife better than she’d ever known herself as anyone else.

It felt like too much. Not too much to have, just too much to contemplate. Commitments like boulders that were too heavy to carry.

It astounds me that Andy and I have already spent about a third of our lives together. Before long, it will be half. And then more than half…

Neal was where Georgie plugged in, and synced up, and started fresh every day. He was the only one who knew her exactly as she was.

I actually think Andy feels even more this way about me than I do about him?

“Just because you love someone,” she said, “that doesn’t mean your lives will fit together.”

“Nobody’s lives just fit together,” Neal said. “Fitting together is something you work at. It’s something you make happen — because you love each other.”

“I’m not saying that everything will magically work out if people love each other enough… I’m just saying,” he went on, “maybe there’s no such thing as enough.”

Even though Andy and I have a pretty healthy and functional relationship, I try not to take it for granted. I try to remember that, as natural and “easy” as it feels now, getting to this point did take some work, and staying the course will too.

OK, I’m going to present the rest of these excerpts without my commentary. I think Rainbow’s words capture and convey everything all on their own anyway.

You don’t know when you’re twenty-three.

You don’t know what it really means to crawl into someone else’s life and stay there. You can’t see all the ways you’re going to get tangled, how you’re going to bond skin to skin. How the idea of separating will feel in five years, in ten — in fifteen. When Georgie thought about divorce now, she imagined lying side by side with Neal on two operating tables while a team of doctors tried to unthread their vascular systems.

She didn’t know at twenty-three.

“How’d you know he was the one?”

“I didn’t know. I don’t think either of us knew.”

Heather rolled her eyes. “Neal knew — he proposed to you.”

“It’s not like that,” Georgie said. “You’ll see. It’s more like you meet someone, and you fall in love, and you hope that that person is the one — and then at some point, you have to put down your chips. You just have to make a commitment and hope that you’re right.”

“No one else describes it that way.” Heather frowned. “Maybe you’re doing it wrong.”

Obviously I’m doing it wrong,” Georgie said. “But I still think love feels that way for most people.”

“So you think most people bet everything, their whole lives, on hope. Just hoping that what they’re feeling is real.”

“Real isn’t relevant,” Georgie said, turning completely to face Heather. “It’s like… you’re tossing a ball between you, and you’re just hoping you can keep it in the air. And it has nothing to do with whether you love each other or not. If you didn’t love each other, you wouldn’t be playing this stupid game with the ball. you love each other — and you just hope you can keep the ball in play.”

“What’s the ball a metaphor for?”

“I’m not sure,” Georgie said. “The relationship. Marriage.”

“I take for granted that you’ll be there when I’m done doing whatever it is I’m doing. I take for granted that you’ll love me no matter what.”

“You do?”

“Yes. Neal, I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” he said. “I want you to take that for granted. I will love you no matter what.”

Georgie felt herself sliding out of control again. “Don’t say that. Take it back.”


“Take it back.”

“You’re crazy,” he said. “No.”

“If you say that, it’s like you’re telling me that all the insensitive things I do are okay. It’s like you’re just handing me ‘no matter what.’ You’re pre-pardoning me.”

“That’s what love is, Georgie. Accidental damage protection.”

The future was going to happen, even if he wasn’t ready for it. Even if he was never ready for it.

At least he could make sure he was with the right person.

Wasn’t that the point of life? To find someone to share it with?

And if you got that part right, how far wrong could you go? If you were standing next to the person you loved more than everything else, wasn’t everything else just scenery?

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So much to celebrate

13 years of friendship, 11 years of love, 9 years of #grumblepup management, 2 years of marriage, 1 year of home ownership, and ~7 weeks until parenthood.

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Day 2 - Magic Kingdom 101

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I couldn’t ask for anything more.

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“Watching a time happen and thinking, I will remember this.”


Photo by Susan Plocher. Words by Hannah Nicole (via Meg Fee).

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The almost-proposals

I promise not to go on about the engagement forever, but a few people have asked about the scrapbook Andy made of his other proposal ideas, so here are a handful of my favorites.


proposal book 001Andy and I don’t have a song, but we do have a movie. And that movie, of all things, is Mulan. Because as soon as I found out that he hadn’t watched it, I borrowed my roommate’s copy and marched over to Andy’s dorm room. (I was a sophomore, he a junior.) It was the perfect excuse to spend an evening together, and after a couple hours of sitting next to each other on his futon, buzzing with electricity anytime our knees or elbows bumped, we finally confessed our feelings for one another.

For the Mulan Proposal Plan, Andy was thinking of taking me to a movie theater, ostensibly to see something else (i.e., something current), but the surprise would be an empty theater showing Mulan for just the two of us, followed by his proposal at the end. A super sweet idea, but Andy was worried that the suspense and excitement would fizzle out over the course of the movie.


proposal book 004Like the Mulan plan, this one hinges on our shared history. New House 5 is where we met — the top floor of my freshman dorm, for which Andy was my RA. And then he was RA again the year after — for a different set of kids, but I visited him a lot. And then I was the RA on that floor for the next 2 years. So many of our fondest memories, both together and independent, are rooted in New House 5. It was and forever will be a home in our hearts.

Getting engaged there would definitely have been meaningful and wonderful, but since everyone we know has graduated by now, I’m not sure he could have taken me back without arousing suspicion.


proposal book 002The seeds of Andy’s final proposal plan are probably first visible in May of 2010, with the Art in the Window scheme. This concept hinged on the fact that whenever we travel, we buy a piece of art as our souvenir. (Andy loves stuff, but I do not, so this is our compromise. No snow globes or keychains for me, thanks!) His idea was to lure me into a specific art gallery, and then after I expressed fondness for whichever item, the owner would say that he had other similar, better offerings in the back.

In the back room, the owner would show me through a series of paintings or sculptures — each created by one of my family or friends — which together would tell a story. Andy would unveil the final masterpiece himself: his proposal, in art form.

The logistics of this would probably have been a nightmare, but I’m glad that the core concepts — meaningful creations, friend involvement, sneakery — made it into the final proposal.


proposal book 003I think this might be the coolest, but also the riskiest, of Andy’s scrapped ideas. First, he would have had to sneak the ring with us to Ecuador without my seeing. Then, he would have had to plant the ring in a secluded snorkeling area. Finally, he would have had to propose underwater (!!).

While I adore the idea, the reality is that we were housed in a room smaller than some SUVs. He wore swim trunks most of the time. The currents were strong, and the wildlife were unpredictable. Either I would have seen the ring, or else a sea lion would have stolen it.

Plus, this was the trip where I discovered I was allergic to the sun. I would not have been happy to be proposed to when I looked half lizard, all bumpy and itchy and red.


proposal book 005And of course, the one that finally planned out. When Andy made this page for the scrapbook, he didn’t have all the details ironed out — namely, how he would present the book to me — he just knew that this is the one he wanted to go with.

It wasn’t the most elaborate or exotic of his ideas, but it was so thoughtful. So well-executed. So… me.



The scrapbook holds about a dozen other proposal plans — planting a tree together, watching a meteor shower, serenading me on-stage with Keith Urban — but the ones above were my favorite.

proposal book 006

A rather unassuming looking book, but now one of my most beloved in the world. Along with THE STORY SO FAR, of course.

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An engaging weekend

So, here’s what I thought was going to happen this weekend:

  • Dinner out on Friday night.
  • Wake up early Saturday morning to join the We Heart YA girls in reading to underprivileged children at Joseph-Beth.
  • Brunch afterward with the WHYA girls.
  • 9 holes of golf with Andy and a friend.
  • The usual reading/errand-running/TV-watching.

And here’s what actually happened:

So this happened...

Yes, Andy and I got engaged.

(No, that’s not how he proposed. I just thought Riley was cuter than my hand.)

More details, for those of you who are curious:

Andy has, unbeknownst to me, been dreaming up proposal ideas since 2008. They have ranged from the extremely private (just us) to the extremely public (Keith Urban concert) but always involved a level of sneakery, since he knew I wanted to be surprised.

7 months ago, Andy finally settled on The Idea.

Because writing and storytelling are so important to me, he decided he wanted to incorporate them into the proposal. So first, he made a book. A children’s book, sort of. It’s called THE STORY SO FAR, and it’s about us. How we met, fell in love, started a life together, etc. Told in alternate rhyming stanzas. Illustrated with pictures of us from over the years.

In a bold move, this book was hiding somewhere in our house until last week.

Two weeks ago, Sarah emailed to say she had volunteered us (We Heart YA) to read to underprivileged children as part of an all-day event at Joseph-Beth. She asked if I would meet her at 7:30 AM, before the bookstore opened. After moaning and groaning about the early start time, I agreed.

A couple days later, I was telling Andy about it, and he said it sounded like a cool way to give back to the community and asked if he could tag along. Since waking up early on a weekend seemed less painful if we were doing it together, I said sure.

The day of the event was Saturday, May 4, 2013. Our alarm went off at 6:30 AM. I snoozed it a couple times, then finally dragged myself out of bed to take Riley out and feed him before we left.

On the drive over, Andy was in good spirits, teasing me about being tired. He said that maybe this would be life-changing. I just rolled my eyes, since he says that all the time, about silly things like going to dinner at Ruby Tuesday or meeting up with friends for putt putt.

When we arrived at Joseph-Beth, Sarah was already there, and Stephanie was just pulling in. The four of us got out of our cars and were greeted at the door by Dave, whom I recognized from various author events at the store. He took us over to the children’s section where we would be reading to the kids. There was a theater-like area, and a chair with a short stack of books on it. I told Dave I had never done this before and asked how it would go. He gave me a funny look.

Dave: “You’ve… never been to Storytime?”
Me: “Nope.”
Dave: “Uh, well, the kids will come in and sit there, and then you’ll sit here and read to them.”

Yes, thank you, Captain Obvious.

(At the time I was thinking, “Well, duh.” But in retrospect, I suspect that my question caught him off-guard because it seemed like maybe I was catching onto things!)

Anyway, Dave wandered off, and since we were four smart adults, I figured we could handle Storytime ourselves. Andy suggested we take a look at the books on the chair. First was EXTRA YARN by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. Second was CHLOE AND THE LION by by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex. Last was THE STORY SO FAR by…

Andy Butler?

My immediate thought was that this was a very strange coincidence. Then I wondered if Dave knew Andy somehow and was playing a practical joke. Finally I began to realize what was happening.

Holy crap he’s going to propose!

Only a second or two passed before Andy turned to me and said, “We’re not here to read to children.”

My head whipped around to find Sarah. “WHAAAT?”

(I assure you, it was a GIF-worthy moment.)

Andy suggested that I have a seat, and he would read to me. As I sat down, I began to realize just how fully I had been duped. This was a proposal. There were no children. There were never any children.

Andy’s hands were ever-so-slightly shaky as he opened the book to the first page, and in that moment, I very nearly cried. But then the shock took over again, and all I could do was sit calmly, smiling and trying to process everything while he read me his sweet rhyming words about our lives, our love.

His hands stilled and his voice gained strength with every page. When the story was nearing a close, he handed me the book and said that I should turn to the end. I did, and when I looked up, he was down on one knee, with a ring. He spoke the words that were written on the last page.

Will you marry me?

Breathless, I managed to say, “Yeah. Of course I will.” Not the most romantic or enthusiastic-sounding answer, but I assure you, I was over the moon. I put on the ring, and we kissed and hugged.

“You should thank Sarah and Stephanie for this,” he said as we stood up together.

“I’m going to kill them for this,” I joked.

sarah's 03 best

But of course I didn’t. I thanked them, and Dave, and then spent the rest of the weekend wrapping my mind around what had happened. Around all the careful planning that Andy had put into it. You guys, there are so many little things I’ve left out, seeds that Andy planted over the course of several weeks so that they would bloom naturally and I would not suspect a thing. The man is a diabolical genius and we are all just lucky that he uses his powers for good!

Andy had given certain people advance notice of the proposal, so many of my calls to friends and family were more or less like, “Hey, I’m engaged! But you already know that…” Still, it was nice to share the news and the story.

Later that night we updated our relationship status on Facebook — which was bittersweet, since I took a strange sort of pride in not ever having had a relationship status on Facebook before — but the outpouring of love and excitement from everyone made it totally worthwhile. (Also, let’s be honest: Social media is just such a good, convenient method of letting people know what’s going on.)

Last but not least, on Sunday, Andy gave me one additional gift: A scrapbook he had made of the top proposal ideas that didn’t pan out or that he had decided against, for whatever reasons. Going through that was like getting proposed to a dozen more times.

Now we’re just going to enjoy this phase for a while. After all, we dated for almost 8 years, so why rush to plan a wedding? (We do agree that we’d prefer something very small and low-key, though.) So technically, not much has changed.

And yet, calling him “fiancé” gives me a little thrill every time.

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