Tag: Andy Page 2 of 8

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.

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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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A birthday poem

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A conversation about this mountain I’m we’re on

Me:
This is going to sound cliché, but hear me out, because I think I’m putting a fresh spin on it.

Andy:
(skeptical) Okay…

Me:
(takes a deep breath) Pursuing a career as a writer feels like climbing a mountain. Everyone says that, but it’s true.

When I was at the bottom, I pointed to the mountain and told people, “I’m going to climb that.” And of course, everyone was supportive — like, “Yeah, go for it! That’ll be awesome!” But probably a lot of them never thought I would really do it, or they didn’t fully realize what was involved.

(In fairness, I probably didn’t fully realize what was involved either.)

So then I started climbing, and people were like, “Oh shit, she wasn’t kidding.” They weren’t sure what to think, but they cheered anyway.

Now I’m like halfway up, and they’re still standing down there, wanting to support me, but they’re also looking up at me, then looking at the top of the mountain and thinking, “That’s a long way left to go. She’s never gonna make it.” They’re beginning to doubt, and I can’t blame them, because sometimes it feels that way to me too.

But of course, I’m not gonna stop, because I made it this far, and I know I can go the rest of the way, it’s just a matter of patience and perseverance.

Andy:
(nodding) Sure, that all sounds about right.

Me:
Good. Because that’s significant to me. Realizing that it looks unlikely to some people, even ones who love me. But that doesn’t mean anything. I’m still climbing. And after I get to the top of this mountain, there will be another one, and another, and another. Because I’m a climber.

Andy:
Uh huh.

Me:
But there’s more!

Andy:
Oh. (confused) Okay…

Me:
See, there’s another part that of the metaphor that usually doesn’t get talked about.

You never signed up for this. And yet, you’re going up the mountain too. Because I’m pulling you with me, you know? You’re like on a sled that’s tied around my waist, so you’re stuck on the climb, but there’s nothing you can do to get us up any faster.* That’s gotta be so frustrating.

Andy:
Yep. (happy to have his perspective included) It’s cold. It’s kind of boring. And I can’t feel my toes!

Me:
(laughing) Well, it’s no cakewalk for me either.

*Note: This applies to my parents too.

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Fixing my swing (Self-awareness part 2)

Regardless of Cesar Millan, the point of my previous post was that reflecting on Riley’s behavior has caused me to reflect on my own. I am becoming more aware of my body language, my attitude, my tone of voice. I still have a long way to go (as does Riley) but I think this heightened mindfulness can only be a good thing.

Case in point:

On Sunday, Andy arranged for us to play 9 holes of golf with a mutual friend. I prefer not to go out in hot, humid weather, but that day was borderline. (High of 85, mostly cloudy.) Andy encouraged me to chance it. I grumbled and warned him that he might regret it.

As soon as I said that, I thought, “Why am I being so negative? What does that accomplish?”

Andy called me out on it too, saying, “Yes, it might suck. But it also might not. Don’t let a defeatist attitude be the deciding factor.”

So I took a deep breath, relaxed my facial muscles, and told myself to be optimistic.

Despite a decent warmup at the driving range, my first couple holes weren’t great. My current goal is double bogey (par + 2 strokes) for every hole, but I was scoring double par (par x 2 strokes) instead. Normally that would frustrate me, and thus things would continue to get worse. This time, I took a deep breath, relaxed my shoulders, and told myself to shake it off. “What you just did has no impact on what you do next,” I reminded myself. “Each hole — each swing, even — is a blank slate.”

With that mindset, I was able to improve steadily over the next four holes.

At that point, we had been playing for 2 hours. All I had eaten was a granola bar and some Gatorade. My energy was waning, and as I stepped up to tee off at hole 7, I could tell my drive was going to be bad. When I took my practice swing, there was no strength in my arms. I had run out of juice.

Knowing that, I swung anyway.

It was my worst drive of the day, no question. The ball got no distance, no loft. It only went 2/3 of the way to the green, and this was a puny par 3. I immediately turned to Andy and our friend and whined, “I’m tired.”

Before Andy could even roll his eyes, I caught myself. I was acknowledging a reality, yes, but I was also offering it as an excuse. The former was fine; the latter was pointless.

Another deep breath. Another relaxation of my body. Another reminder: “Be optimistic. Each swing is a new opportunity.”

I salvaged hole 7, and I did fine on 8 and 9. Was it my best game ever? No. But did I manage to play okay and enjoy myself under less than ideal conditions? Yes.

Later, Andy compared it to being a baseball player. When a guy plays 160+ games a year, statistically he’s just not going to have his best stuff every time. A top-notch player knows that, but he doesn’t let it become an excuse. He doesn’t turn to his team and whine, “Sorry, guys, I’m tired. Don’t expect too much from me.” They’re depending on him. So he has to look within himself and ask, What can I accomplish anyway?

To do that, he has to be self-aware.

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Hipster Hills

This past weekend, we celebrated Andy’s birthday by finally doing something we’ve been talking about for years: renting a pet-friendly cabin and taking Riley on vacation with us.

This was our “Honeybee Hideaway,” complete with (fake) well and (real) hot tub.

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We spent several hours hiking in Hocking Hills, which was shaded and lovely.

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We also got to do a little shopping — mostly crafts and antiques — as well as some nature-watching.

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Truth be told, we had fun, but it wasn’t exactly a relaxing weekend. See, Riley is a high-energy, anxious pup to begin with, and then you put him in a car. Add in several hours of winding, bumpy country roads, and you have the perfect recipe for a panting, whiny mess. For his sanity (and ours) we probably will not be repeating this experiment, but it was worth doing once.

Note: The hipster look of these photos was brought to you by this set of Photoshop actions that mimic Instagram. A very neat find that I had way too much fun playing with last night…

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