Friday, October 24, 2008

One Month Ago

Jolyon and I became affianced one month ago. He mentioned this "anniversary" date last night after walking in the door from work, as I greeted him with my normal so-glad-you're-finally-home hug. Since he claims not to remember birthdays, anniversaries, and the like, I couldn't help smiling when he brought up the one-month engagement mark.

We haven't done much in the way of wedding planning, other than decide that we'd like to get married next October on the beach, or something equally tropical. Wedding planning envokes a strange twist of emotions within me, though. I present to you now...

The Nuptially-Induced Several Sides of Shelly

The Minimalist Shelly

I'm a big-picture thinker (at least according to my Myers-Briggs results). And the big-picture thinker continuously whispers, 'ultimately, it's not about the wedding, it's about the marriage.' Is there really a need for extravagant decorations or a cake? Wedding favors? Matching bridesmaids dresses? Photographer? Open bar? The list goes on, as you probably know. Two people are vowing to commit to each other, for life; there shouldn't be any expectations from family or friends, or society in general, for the couple to have an elaborate ceremony and/or reception.

The Casual Shelly

I want a casual wedding and reception. No tuxedos for the groom or his groomsmen. No stuffy church-pews and no suits and ties. Just the beauty of a natural surrounding, where Guests can dress casually. An ambiance of tropical informality, fun-in-the-sun with a unique flair that matches the personalities of the bride and groom.

The Emotional Shelly

Why is a wedding emotionally important to women, but not always to men? Why are women stereotyped to be more "into" planning a wedding... and why is this stereotype true? It's important for my close friends and family to be there on my wedding day, to witness the vows I make to the man with whom I'm going to spend the rest of my life. I'd like to look around and see all the faces from so many different aspects of my life, all together at one spot... a symbolic culmination of my past: my childhood and my young adulthood merging into marriage. As an extrovert, I spent the majority of my life surrounded by people, and I want those people who mean the most to me to be part of what will be a wonderful turning-point in my young life... I want to celebrate my love for this amazing man with the people who helped shape me.

Borderline Bridezilla Shelly

A year of planning. Wedding websites. Bridal shows. Wedding magazines. Wedding-planning kits. Bridal shower. Bachelorette party. Rehearsal dinner. Ceremony. Reception. Farewell brunch. The industry tosses so much information at you that it's impossible to avoid that nagging curiosity. Pretty soon you want everything, even though you originally said you didn't, and you're not sure why, because deep down you know this is out of character for you. Deep down, you know you don't need it. And suddenly you feel guilty and ashamed for wanting so much for just one day... and you lose sight of the main reason this day exists.

I feel a little bit of each "Shelly," but never overpowered or overwhelmed by them. I'm guessing that this is a natural emotional pattern. I truly am enjoying being engaged, and I don't want it to pass too quickly.

How did I know Jolyon was The One? A few of my female friends have asked me this, and I suppose it's a common question to ask newly-engaged couples, as well as couples who have been married for decades. There were several instances in which I felt a strange, yet calming, sense of inner peace, a sensation I can only attribute to my subconcious whispering, "Pssst, this is IT. This is the guy for you. He is The One."

The first of note occured last September, when one of my close friends was going through a difficult time and needed someone to talk to. Having no one else at the time, my friend called Jolyon at an hour that most would consider unGodly. Without hestitation, Jolyon drove 25 minutes in the middle of the night to meet my friend. He provided the listening ear that my friend needed, and stayed up until close to dawn to help reach a resolution.

He casually mentioned this to me the next day, over an IM conversation. I started crying as I realized that he was "that" guy. The selfless, problem-solving hero who understood that sometimes all it takes is a listening ear to help someone reach clarity. Even though I know he met my friend because that's the type of person he us, I also inferred that he understood just how important my friendships mean to me. I'm fiercely loyal to my friends, and I want to marry someone who understands, appreciates, and values those kinds of relationships.

The second instance occurred in December, when Jolyon took me to see Cirque du Soleil, which he deemed a "selfish gift," since he hadn't seen the show and I had seen it four times prior. I giggled at this, and even though he told me not to "make a big deal out of it," I still donned a nice shirt and a skirt to wear to the show.

Words won't adequately convey the sensation I felt as we walked up the stairs to the Cirque du Soleil theater at Downtown Disney. He was walking in pain, suffering from an injured left knee (which actually turned out to be a torn medial meniscus and was later successfully repaired through arthroscopic surgery), and was having trouble walking up the steep stairs. He looked at me, and smiled, and I took his hand. And, as strange as it sounds, I knew at that moment that this was the man I was going to marry. I saw my future in that instant.

I'm filled with an incredible warmth whenever Jolyon looks at me in the way he looked at me that night at Cirque du Soleil. I fell in love with him prior to that night, but, as cliche as it sounds, I fall more in love with him every day... because I know he'll look at me like that for the rest of our lives.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Jane-- my friend, coworker, mentor, confidant, and most recently: quasi-boss-- told me yesterday morning, amidst some work-related banter, that she had "tagged me."

Tagged me? I hadn't heard this phrase before, except on the playground back in elementary school. She said that it was blog-related, and that I needed to check out her blog for the details. I've been an avid follower of her blog for months now, particularly because she writes about art, a subject with which I'm not too familiar, yet her words entice me to buy paint and paintbrushes. And her writing is, essentially, art.

Curious? Stop by her blog for some artsy inspiration:

And now, per the tagging rules, I present:

Six Random Facts About Me

1) I have a silent obsession with unicorns. I had surgery on both my feet when I was growing up, and my parents gave me two stuffed animals for me to hold while I was in the operating room: a pink unicorn and a purple unicorn.

2) As a teenager, I collected construction equipment. While most kids collected items liked baseball cards or Barbie Dolls, I took orange traffic cones from construction sites around my town, labeling each one with the date and the name of the location from which I took it, and stacked the cones in my bedroom. This created an amusing juxtaposition, considering my bedroom had pink baby doll wallpaper until I was in my late teens. However, Dad put an end to my construction equipment collection the evening that I brought home one of the larger orange barrels, the ones with the blinking lights.

3) I have terrible aim with a paintball gun. I've never actually "played" paintball, but I have used a paintball gun. On the side of a busy street. His name was Matt. The gun was loaded with blue paintballs. He told me to pull the trigger. I landed a big blue splatter on the window of a taxi cab, which caused the driver to screech to a halt. He launched out of his cab and proceeded to chase Matt and I through the woods, but he couldn't keep up. Moral of the story? Paintball guns are not toys and I'm thankful that most taxi drivers are out of shape.

4) In elementary school, I wanted to be a paleontologist when I grew up. Dinosaurs fascinated me; I recall being one of the few kids in my first grade class who could pronounce and spell all the "big" dinosaur names. And I would spend hours in the sandbox, digging for dinosaur bones... but the only thing I ever dug up was cat poop.

5) I went to an extra grade. You've heard of kids skipping grades, right? Nope, not me. I went to an extra grade, a grade between kindergarden and first grade, a grade called "Readiness." I'm pretty sure they don't offer it anymore... probably because now they can just give a kid some medication to calm him down enough to pay attention in class. Readiness was basically for kids who supposedly weren't "ready" for first grade for various reasons, but were too advanced for kindergarden again. There were eight of us special kids in my Readiness class. My reason for needing Readiness? I was "too social" and it "hindered my learning." Too social. Me? Good thing Readiness cured me and I grew out of that. Cough.

6) I love Taco Bell's nacho cheese. If they sold it buy the bucket, I'd be their #1 customer.

Here's the tagging rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

6. Let the tagger know your entry is up.

Now, I'm tagging.....


Happy Tagging!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Disney Wonder-ous Engagement!

On September 25, 2008, our first night aboard the Disney Wonder: somewhere between a full stomach from a fantastic dinner, and childish laughter from a creative "towel animal," Jolyon proposed. Despite our serious talks about the future for months (a year, really, if you count our innocent musings last fall), he completely surprised me when I realized that he was, in fact, down on one knee, ring-box in hand, asking me to marry him.

We had been planning to go on a 3-night Disney Cruise for awhile, checking the "space available" link on our Cast Member website on a daily basis. Finally, an availability opened, and for less than a hundred bucks a night each, we were booked for our first cruise. Neither of us had ever been on a cruise before, and were thrilled that we'd be experiencing this together, and for an incredible discount.
We ate dinner at Palo, a fancy Italian restauarant, on our first evening on the ship. It's an adults-only restaurant, in which the women are required to wear dresses and the men must don a jacket and tie. This was a unique experience for me-- for us actually-- since we never eat at expensive restaurants, and we certainly don't dress up to go out to eat. However, for a mere $15.00 extra a person (all the other restaurants on board the ship are included in your booking price), we dined in a fabulous atmosphere: on the top deck of the ship with a breathtaking view of a sunset sea.
After dinner, we went back to our room to change into casual clothes. Our room host had left an adorable surprise for us-- a towel animal on the bed, which was wearing my sunglasses. Launching into full tourist mode, I insisted that Jolyon take a picture of this cuteness, and I proceeded to lie down on the bed next to the creature. Jolyon stooped down to my level to snap the photo. I laughed and looked up at him; he had a contemplative look in his eye, and he started to speak very slowly:

"This has been the best vacation so far... and only one thing would make it better... (it's at this point that I realize he is down on one knee, and he removes a jewelry box from his pocket)... if you were my fiancee." He opens the box to reveal a stunning diamond engagement ring.
I think I said something intelligent like, "oh my God, oh my God," because he had to ask me again, "So... will you?" Of course I said yes, wrapping my arms around his neck, feeling myself becoming emotional. I was in a state of complete amazement, if that's even the appropriate word, and Jolyon had to ask if I wanted to put on the ring. He asked me if I recognized it, then told me it was the very first design I had said I liked, back in June, when we first started looking at rings together. He had told me that he had called the store a few weeks after the fact to see if the ring was still there, but that someone had already purchased it. I didn't think much of it, at the time, because we were still looking around... but I silently compared every other ring to that specific one. Turns out that the "someone" who had purchased that ring was him.

Afterwards, he gave me another jewelry box, which contained two notes: one was typed and had a cute design around it, and it read, "I Love You" ... the other was handwritten, reading, "I owe you one real ring." Beneath these notes was a Ring Pop. I laughed outloud as Jolyon explained that he was going to give me this box first, and then surprise me with the real ring at another time. But he told me he didn't really have a plan, that he didn't even know if he would propose on this trip... he just wanted the moment to feel right. And it was.
The rest of the cruise went by too quickly, as most vacations do, but we had an amazing time. We ate delicious food from three additional restaurants, enjoyed two broadway-style shows, danced with pirates, indulged in a midnight dessert buffet, sailed on a glass-bottom boat, explored Disney's private island on bikes, snorkled with (and touched!) tropical fish, and saw Captain Jack Sparrow from afar. And yet, we probably only tackled a quarter of the activities and excursions that Disney's cruiseline offers. It definitely won't be my last cruise, but it will certainly be the most memorable.