Thursday, February 28, 2019

Hello there.

*picks up blog...turns it over reverently in my hands.  Blows on it.  A cloud of dust fans out, obscuring vision, choked breathing can be heard.  I cough.  Clear my throat.  Begin.*

Hello there.  It's me.  Jim.  Jim...Walter?  You remember me, right?  It's been a while.  Six months is definitely the longest I've gone without posting.  September 2018 was the last thing I wrote here.  Let's catch up.

In blogging.  Or...maybe in social media in general, when people disappear for a long time usually it's one of two things...Things are going great, or things are going terribly. 

Things aren't going terribly.  That's a spoiler.  But not a big one. 

Back in September I decided that instead of posting blogs, I'd start writing a book.  Nanowrimo started in November, and I decided to join this year in earnest.  Nanowrimo is a portmanteau for "National Novel Writing Month".

Instead of posting things here serial/monthly style, I started posting daily to a cloud-based "pages" document.  That allowed me to write wherever (not that I couldn't have done that here, but it felt like something I needed to do separately) without carting around flash drives or laptops or whatever. 

Second spoiler...I didn't finish.  The target of 1667 words per day (to get you to a respectable 50,000 word novel) was at first pretty easy, but started to weigh on me over the weekends.  There wasn't a good "lunch time" period to bang out my words, so I would fall behind every weekend.  And every weekend after that I would fall further behind, until I eventually just stopped trying to catch up in frustration. 

I won't go into the specifics (it's dull) but a combination of goal-anxiety, lack of organization, and schedule fullness conspired against me.  That said, it's still out there, and I still want to finish it, and I still can (and will).  I made it about 20,000 words in before I petered out, well short of the goal, but also a decent distance in.

But that was just "a month" of the six it's been.  Except that every time I felt like writing, I would think, "This should go in the BOOK, not the blog."  And then I'd do neither until pretty soon six months had gone by and the blog kept calling to me and saying in a faraway voice..." suuuuuuuuck...come write a blog pooooooost". 

Things are either going great or they're going terribly.  The other thing that was not going terribly was my relationship with the previously mentioned (previously in other blog posts, mind you), Angie.  Things were going SO not terribly that I sat down with Emma to pick her brain on what her thoughts would be if I asked Angie to marry me. 

They were, "Yeah, I kinda assumed you would.  I like Angie."  Okay...okay...that's sorted.

They were going SO not terribly that I visited the Clark building and my old friends at Frost and Company jewelers to order an engagement ring. 

And, after briefly seeking (and receiving) her parents' blessing at a blizzard-interrupted "Meatball Sunday" (after lying to her that I forgot my phone on the counter in their house and rushing back inside to ask them in "privacy"), I set up a date to pop the question during our observation of Valentine's day a week later. 

Valentine's Day itself was out of the question.  She was in charge of a major fund raising event at her office the day after, and I didn't want to distract her.  Instead, my sister Dawn, and I went to the fund raiser, and I bid on one of the fundraiser's auction prizes: a cocktail reception with service, bar, and stations for 25 people.  I bid thinking, "Hey, if she says yes we have our reception already taken care of!", not pausing to consider that I might be called upon to explain WHY I thought a cocktail reception for 25 people was a good idea (Dawn and I brainstormed and I ended up telling her it was my Dad's 75th this year and she bought it.  hahaha...sucker.)

The upside to all of this is that she was so busy she wasn't really able to think about any weirdness that I might have thought she'd consider. 

"Left his PHONE?"  You mean that thing he has surgically implanted in his pocket?  Weeeeeeird."
"Bid a $1,250 on a cocktail party?  For his dad's 75th?  Pecuuuuuuuliar."

Those things that seemed so glaring to me at the time apparently never crossed her mind. 

We dined at Morcilla, a great tapas restaurant in Lawrenceville.  We had an amazing meal.  I felt conspicuous about the amount of attention I paid to the heart-spangled gift bag where I'd secreted the ring box.  In the Uber, in the restaurant...I REALLY saw myself leaving it behind like a to-go box so I was overly attentive to it.  But again...she was oblivious. 

I arranged (ultimately...there were several previous iterations that logistics or the weather (it was very cold) nixed) to have the Uber drop us off near the river.  I told her we would walk along the river to Butcher and the Rye, where we had our first date.  I asked her to show me where we had our first kiss and then, once we found it and kissed, I said, "Ready to go to bar?"

She said yes, and I rummaged in the bag, saying, "One more thing..." (Doubtless she'll edit me on my actual words, her memory is amazing, but it amounted to that if it wasn't EXACTLY that).  I fumbled for the ring (visions of it tumbling into the river moving slowly to the forefront) before securing it, dropping to my knee, producing it with a flourish (opening the box toward her like a clam shell...I couldn't help but glance inside to make sure it was still there) and carefully saying, "Angie, will you marry me?"

She was genuinely dumbstruck, but did manage to say those four words that every man longs to hear...*checks notes*..."Are you fucking kidding?"

I was not, I assured her, fucking kidding.  And then she was nodding and her eyes were pressed shut and her hands were covering her face and she was crying and I rose up to hold her, hugging her close and breathing into her hair, "Was...was that yes?" 

"Yes," she laugh cried, and we stood like that for what seemed like a really really long time.

And then I said, "I...I really need you to take this ring, my fingers are freezing".  And she took it.  It was much too large.  Dainty fingers I'd told the jeweler when I'd tried with him to guess her size.  She would later return to find that the 6.5 he'd assumed was quite a bit larger than the 5.25 she would ultimately need. 

When the crying slowed down I said, "Do you want to go to the bar and have a drink with your mom and dad and my mom and dad and my sister?" 

And she said, "Oh nooooo..." and the crying started all over again and I was pretty sure they were happy tears but a part of me kept thinking, "Oh no?  Oh no?  Crap, what does that mean?"

They were happy tears. 

We went to the bar and they bought us champagne and we drank and the parents (and my sister) bonded a bit and all in all it was a super successful engagement mostly because of the "yes". 

And so...we circle back at last to my opening message.  I haven't been around because things have been great.  And because I've been busy.  And because I was writing somewhere else for a bit (and will return to that as well).  I'll try to make it back a bit more frequently. 

But I know you've read that somewhere before...
I look smug.  That...that's probably accurate.