Honesty Hour

Originally posted on Two Sisters. Two Lives. One blog.:

Welcome to our second official Honesty Hour on Jointly! We’ve promised to always bring you the cold, hard truth, so brace yourself. We’re about to open up our hearts, minds, and yes, mouths, to you.

Question: What is something that has been bothering you lately?

K

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To be totally honest (cue Honest by Future), something pretty big has been bothering me since the start of the new year. It’s funny I’m actually hesitant to come out and say this because I’m not one for expressing my truest, inner feelings with the entire internet world. But, here goes nothing. Since 2014 began I’ve felt repeated pangs of disappoint in people around me. In fact, I think at some point every single person I’m close to has found a way to let me down in 2014. I think the number one thing that makes me lose a little faith in people is…

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We’re engaged!

I’m sure a few of you giggled as you read my last post about changes. Those of you that were in on the secret, specifically. And for those of you who weren’t, I’ll clue you in. Just four days after I wrote that post, my guy and I got engaged!

It’s been such a whirlwind, and despite having told the proposal story just about 100 times, I’m still sort of in awe and disbelief. My fiancé (seriously not used to saying that yet) didn’t tell anyone how he was proposing – he knew I’d want to tell it (in “excruciating detail” to quote the man himself!). The detail on here isn’t going to be that severe – there are parts of it that I can’t even articulate. And I don’t want our day to lose its dreamy, intimate quality. But for those of you who are interested (and love proposal stories, like me!), here ya go.

Close girlfriends, I’ve borrowed a lot of this from the email I sent you, so it’ll sound familiar :).

F and I had plans to attend a belated Mother’s Day brunch with his family at the Central Park Boathouse. I’d been there once before for a wedding, so I knew it was really nice. My roommate told that people generally wear their “Sunday best” there, so I made sure to put on a bright summery dress (which, as you may know, is a far reach from my usual choice of neutral tops and jeans). 
We arrived at the park about 15 minutes before the reservation. F was playing it really cool the entire time, but for some reason I started getting the jitters the moment we walked in the park. He hadn’t said anything to give it away, and seemed really calm and collected, but I just couldn’t shake the feeling. About 5 minutes in, F’s sister called saying that the baby was being fussy and she had pushed the reservation back an hour. I told him we should just pick up some food and go over to their place, but he brushed off my suggestion saying it was a beautiful day and we’d just enjoy walk around and enjoy the weather. 
 
There’s an old building in Central Park that predates the park itself. On the top floor of this building (through this tiny square hole in the wall, and up a steep ladder) is a flat rooftop that overlooks the entire park, above tree level. It’s F’s favorite place in all of New York, and I had always wanted to see it. So he mentioned that since we had time to spare, we should go try and work our way up there. 
 
After a bit of a stroll, we arrived at building. The security gave us a bit of a hard time (even though F had planned everything and seen them the day before!), and then we were in the elevator. I couldn’t wait to see this place, having heard so much about it. Our first stop was on the 4th floor. We got off the elevator and walked past a ton of cubicles and through an open door onto a rooftop terrace/garden. It was really pretty and we could see all of the Central Park Zoo. F and I were standing there taking it all in and I turned to him and said “I really thought you were going to propose to me today, for some reason.” Again, he played it off really well and the thought totally left my mind. 
After a bit, we ventured up to the top. Through that small opening, and up that ladder. The view was totally breathtaking. Literally one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever seen. There’s a book that sits up there, in a large mental casing, that everyone who’s ever been up to the roof has signed. So far, it’s only 200 or so pages in (it’s not open to the public, F’s cousin used to work to for the New York Parks Department, and hooked us up). We looked through the book and found the last time F had signed it in 2010 with his sister. It was really fun to see. I snapped a picture of it and then really wanted to sign for myself. He told me to flip to the last available page and sign. As he said this he dropped back a bit (I thought to take a picture), and I flipped to the first open page where he’d written  
WILL YOU MARRY ME?
 
The rest is sort of a blur. I know I spun around and saw him down on his knee. He had to tell me to “come here” a few times before I could even walk. His speech was beautiful and we were both pretty choked up. There was a ton of smiling/laughing/crying/hugging/omg-ing. It was the best moment of my life. 
 
And when I finally thought to look down at the ring, it was more beautiful than I could have imagined.
 
We took a few moments to catch our breath, and then had a little photo-shoot in the park. Our friend, and photographer for the day, Noeman, captured the moment beautifully. There isn’t a single “serious face” photo because neither of us could stop smiling. 
 
After our time in Central Park, F had invited our close New York friends to a restaurant, and we had a private party on the back patio. It was amazing to celebrate with everyone, especially those that knew us in college before we even met each other! There was a ton of champagne (and lots of gluten-free snacks!), toasts, pictures, etc.
We ended our day with the most wonderful dinner at Eleven Madison Park. We were there for four and a half hours, eating delicious food and drinking amazing wine. We recounted the entire day and just relished the moment. 
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And that was our day. We spent the following weekend in Ohio with our families, sharing the story and a few of the pre-edit photos. We’re still on cloud nine, just enjoying the engagement. Wedding planning will ramp up soon, though, I’m sure. For someone who used to love the idea of wedding planning so much, I have a shockingly vague idea of what I want. Needless to say, HAPPY to take any suggestions, sites to explore (esp for decor, personalized wedding websites domains etc.). Where do I start!?

Keep you all posted :)

Love,

AG

A Change + An Update

Oh god oh god. My blogging inconsistencies have reached an all time high. I just… don’t… have the time these days. But we all know that if you care about something, you make the time. So I guess it’s more that I’ve cared less these days. Yikes. It happens. After my last post (and sorry I’ve left you on that sad note), I made one really big change and switched jobs. This came as a huge shock to almost everyone I told. I had an epic love for BBH, I had been welcomed, accepted, and embraced, and it was wonderful. I adored everyone I worked with, and never had that dreadful Sunday night feeling (which is a feat in itself). But things had started changing. My support system was thinning, and an amazing opportunity came my way. And I had to take it!

So since March 5th (after a nice, restful week at home), I’ve been moseying over to Mother New York every day. It’s a pleasant little walk from the apartment – which is a hell of a lot better than starting days with a Subway ride. And it has been a HUGE change. It makes sense. When you take a step forward in your career, clearly it takes time to adjust. The work is harder (quite a bit harder), the responsibility is greater, and I’m very very accountable (which is scary). I’m guiding strategy on a ton of awesome accounts, traveling, and making friends, though. It’s been good.

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Mother New York rooftop

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Mother New York kitchen

So that’s work life. Which is pretty much life life because we’re in our twenties and live in NYC ;)

But a few other goodies are on the horizon this summer. Boyfriend and I are headed back to Ohio over Memorial Day, and then back again for my cousin’s high school graduation, and then back again for a friend’s wedding, and BFF’s engagement party. LOTS of Ohio loving. Hopefully we can sneak in some other trips, too. And some NYC time because we all know how glorious this city is in the summer.

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A few other fun highlights

Will try my darndest to update more often. Promise!

XO,

AG

When Life Throws You Lemons – A Tribute to Griffin Farley

I’ve been fielding a few lemons in weeks past. The tart kind. That just don’t make for decent lemonade. I’m not the only one coping with these. A lot of people are feeling their bitter effects. I guess that’s how it goes when the world loses someone who’s widely loved. It’s been a week and a half since Griffin Farley passed, and it’s just starting to become real. He’s in a better place, of course, no longer plagued by his sickness. He has truly truly left the world with a powerful grace. But his absence is heavy.

Since I never got to thank him in person for everything that he did for me – except for perhaps a few passing comments – I figure the web is the perfect place for me to share my love and appreciation. Griffin, I hope you hear this!

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Griff! We miss you here. We miss your smile and your spirit and your unabashed positivity. I know it was hard, for the last few weeks, to make it into the office all the time. I know it was a long journey from home and you were worn out, but you came in everyday, and faced it fearlessly. I would come up to your desk, and you’d always smile and say good-morning, acknowledging that every day is a blessing and we all better be bloody thankful that we have it. I know you think you were doing it for yourself. But really I think you were doing it for us. For me, even.

You taught me so much. How to be a good strategist, understand digital and social, consider the big picture, but not without digging into the details. I know whatever moves I make in my career will be largely because of what you taught me. And how much you believed in me. But work aside, you taught me perseverance. You taught me that regardless of the lemons thrown your way, life chugs along. And you have to make the best of it! You have to appreciate every moment, every person, every conversation, every opportunity – that’s what makes life wonderful and beautiful and full. 

I know it took me some time to find the words. And words are very often inadequate. But I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that you understand just how thankful I am to have had you. You changed my life.

I pray for your family every day. But I know they’ll persevere too. They are your family after all. I know your daughters will be strong, resilient, and deeply kind. And your wife will see so much of you in them. 

We’ll all say goodbye this weekend. But I wanted a moment just for us (and I guess the web since we spent so much of our time together here!) to share how I feel. 

Lots of Love, 

Ambika

It’s been quite a week.

I’m proud of myself this week. And since blogs are just a way for narcissism to fly under-the-radar, I’m going to talk about all of the reasons I’m proud of myself here.

There are two.

To start, last weekend I took a fiction-writing class. It was expensive and nerve-wracking. Especially considering that I hadn’t written academically since 2009, and I was going to be expected to do so, in a high-school classroom, surrounded by people who were poised to talk about “what they were working on.” And what they were working on wasn’t a social strategy for a brand, just to be clear. These people were writing short stories and novels. NOVELS. Like those 200+ page things that are a chock-fill of beautiful writing, subtle teachings on morality, the universe, and mankind. Basically, I was surrounded by geniuses. I was clearly the fool in the room, but I DUG it. It was so freaking cool and fun and fresh and motivating and god I can’t believe I’m actually writing and it’s not horrible and it isn’t even about my boring life and gahhhh this is so amazing. We developed characters based on astrological signs. We wrote a climax about a fat blind girl, and a skinny boy-band singer, who were stranded on a boat, and only one could live (!). We wrote about meaningful places in our childhood. We wrote about how a 13-year-old would break up with a 15-year-old. It was simply magical. I wrote a bit yesterday (it was the epitome of ehh), but I really want to commit to doing it more. If I don’t start now, then when will I start? Also I’m reading “I’m Worried About My Neck” by Nora Ephron and thinking, “I could maybe, potentially, one-day, write like this,” even though I always thought I’d write fiction (and never thought I’d do anything remotely close to memoir writing. And even saying it now is strange, so I probably won’t ever write a memoir.). Anyway, it was a wonderful wonderful moment (or 420 moments because it was a 7-hour class) for my creative self.  I’m so glad I did it. All of you should take one too – maybe we can even take one together!

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Secondly, I am in the midst of a juice cleanse. Well, I’m more than two-thirds done now, but the next twelve hours will be no joke. I can assure you of that. I don’t really know what possessed me to do this. You know of my love for food. I really really love food. Food is my life. But I never knew how TRULY true this was until I started this cleanse. It’s so psychological – my love for food that is.  I haven’t felt hungry at all in the last two days. I’ve been completely full and completely healthy. I’m getting everything I need to function fully and happily. But I just. Want. To. Eat. Goddamnit. I’ve realized that my entire day revolves around looking forward to meals, and then consuming said meals. The minute 11am rolls around, I can’t wait to eat lunch. At 2pm, I just want a snack. At 3 pm, it’s almost dinner time, right?! My obsession with food has nothing to do with how nourished I feel, and often doesn’t even have to do with the fact that I’m hungry. I associate food with happiness. Food IS my happiness. I’m sure many of you feel similarly, but have you ever thought about how insane that is? We really should eat to live, not live to eat, as trite as that sounds. So I’m proud. I haven’t eaten a single bite of solid food since 9pm on Monday night. ME! I usually can’t even go two hours without eating. Such a lesson in self-control. Maybe some of these learnings will stick.

Please don’t think I’m discounting how hard this is. It’s brutal. BF had to talk me off a ledge repeatedly last night. I was grumpy and pissed and just wanted to eat something (Goddamnit). It’s not fun and it’s not “cool.” But if you make the cleanse your bitch, you’ll get through it.

Btw, in  case you’re wondering. I chose to do Liquiteria’s Level One Nourish cleanse, and I loved it. The juices are actually tasty!

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So those are the things I am proud of. The year is off to a magnificent start.

And my sister is coming tonight. To celebrate her 21st birthday. It’s going to be wild. XO

AG

When Your Life is Just Fine (and you don’t make resolutions)

Another year has come and gone. 2012 was relatively uneventful. No big moves, no big switches, no big, crazy end of an era moments (although it was the year of the Fringe). My life is pretty much the same. Nothing really changed.

But somehow, I still feel like 2012 altered me in a way no other year has. This isn’t a case of hyperbolic retrospection either. I have actually felt myself change, very palpably. My life from the outside looks much the same (besides the very obvious change in my eating habits, and a 500% increase in the number of baby pics I share – (not my babies of course!!!!)). I’m still in New York. Still in my first New York apartment (though with a different roomie). Still at BBH. Still with THE man. Still wanting to write (although WAY less dedicated. Slap on my wrist). It’s the way that I approach things that’s changed. Because 2012 was a chock-full of life lessons.  The kind of lessons I’ll carry with my for the rest of my life. 

1. Jobs are not stable. 

This is obvious. We all know that, anecdotally, jobs are not stable. We see people struggle to find employment and keep employment constantly. I’ve never known the feeling of losing a job, but I now know the feeling of getting pretty damn close, and watching a ton of close friends lose theirs. Experiencing a large round of lay-offs totally changed me. I realized that a job is not a job. It’s a means of living. And when people lose that livelihood, it’s a scary scary time. I’ve always known how lucky I am to love my job. But now I’m the type of person to realize how lucky I am to have a job.

2. Women will always be in more danger than men.

When you’re entrenched in youth, it’s easy to feel invincible. Talking to strangers at clubs, letting them buy you a drink, running home alone, through the city streets, at 4am in your tiny sequin dress. It’s all so easy to do. And it feels natural, and liberating, and like you’re just living life. But it’s not really living life. Especially for women. It’s almost being irresponsible? 

When the story of 23-year-old student, Damini’s (which is not actually her real name, but the name of a movie character who refused allow her rapist justice) gang-rape broke, it shook me to my core. I’ve never had a news story affect me so deeply. When the student died a few days back, I couldn’t believe it. This, to me, unleashed an out-pour of rape cases (or at least my awareness of them). 

The other night my roommate and I were discussing the case in Steubenville, Ohio. And that’s when we stumbled upon the above lesson. Women will always be in more danger than men. 

3. And actually, even though youth lends itself to feeling invincible, it has also become a very dangerous time. Which is heartbreaking, unbelievable, sick, and disappointing. 

4. You will always be the only one responsible for yourself.

I feel like 2012 was my first year of utter independence. I’ve been financially independent since I graduated college in 2009, but I have to admit that it’s taken me a while to become mentally and emotionally independent. I know this is a product of age, but also circumstance (there are plenty of twenty-somethings that are dependent on others in many ways). I’ve found that I in 2012, I knew what I wanted without much discussion. I stood my ground. If someone asked my opinion, I stated it seamlessly, with conviction. And then I acted on it – knowing that if I wanted something done, I’d have to do it myself. This is very new. And refreshing, and sort of wonderful. I’m pretty proud of it. 

At the beginning of 2012, my resolution was to write for 30 minutes a day (amongst the stereotypic “exercise more, eat better”). I acted on this for about a week, and then stopped. I’m not proud of it, but I sort of realize the futility of resolutions. Goals, of course. Milestones, yes. But resolving to stick to something for an entire year without a sense of what the year will bring? Sort of complacent. So this year, I have no such resolutions. I just have one thing I want. Adventure! I want to do new things, meet new people, go to places I’ve never been, and enjoy myself. And even if I do this a little bit more than last year, I’ll be happy. Because progress starts with babysteps. 

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i want this kind of adventure too… just to be clear.

Happy (belated) new years everyone. Wishing you and yours lots and lots of love, happiness, success and adventure in 2013!

XO,

AG

When Something (Actually) Changes Your Life

Of all the “life changing” things I’ve experienced in my life, I would say 70-80% were associated with food. The first time I had Artichoke pizza in New York. When cupcakes first became a thing. Discovering Potbelly’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (and their Cookies & Cream Milkshakes). Pretzel M&Ms. Every time I ate stuffed crust pizza and was overwhelmed by the feeling that life was grand. Mac n Cheese too, obviously.

In a nutshell. I love to eat. I live to eat. If there is something warm/cheesy/gooey/melty/aromatic/colorful in front of me, I will eat it. I am known, far and wide, as a favorite among people who love to cook and feed. I will savor and Mmmm, and Yumm, and compliment, and swear, and make sure the chef knows just how damn tasty their masterpiece truly is (or even just how thankful I am that they picked up some potato chips on the way over).

I hope I’m getting my point across.

But amidst all of my fervent eating, I always had nagging stomach aches. I would of course, ignore them, attributing my discomfort to a sensitive stomach, and quickly returning to my large meal (which I always finished, mind you). These stomach aches had always been there. I was used to them, so I never really investigated the reason behind them.

After moving to New York, food became an even bigger part of my life. If something was social, it was also associated with food + drink, and I loved it. But I noticed that my stomach aches were getting a little worse. That certain foods would just knock me on my ass, ruin the rest of my day, and leave me in a total funk. It got to the point where I actually didn’t feel like going out on Fridays. I felt so out of. I just wanted to curl up in bed with a hot water bottle and my endless Netflix Instant Queue.

I decided to go to the doctor, after an especially bad week. I made the first appointment I could get on a Monday morning, and figured he’d prescribe a few pills, and I’d be on my way.

(Just realized this story is getting long… I’m getting to the point.)

In the end, I saw two doctors, had some blood drawn, and ultimately went in for an endoscopy during my trip to Cleveland. None of this was fun, and the more medical stuff I went through, the more I started to freak out. There are a ton of awful gastrointestinal diseases. And I was just waiting for the Doc to lay it on me.

And that he did.

I’m okay. And it’s not the worst thing in the world by any stretch of the imagination (not even the worst in the world of gasto), but last week I was diagnosed with Celiacs Disease. I’m sure most of you have heard of it. Especially with the strange uptick in Gluten-Free diets (which totally stumps me – WHAT? You don’t want to eat soft, warm, buttery bread anymore? REALLY? Though, it is supposed to be much healthier). It’s an autoimmune disease where your body is unable to digest gluten, a protein found in wheats, barley, rye, and sometimes oats. The treatment is simple – cut all of these things out of your diet, and never eat them again. Once you’ve done this, your body is totally healed, your diet is way healthier, and you feel great. You’re energetic, your mood is stable, your skin and hair glow (or so they say… crossed fingers). But until you’re fully adjusted and accustomed, it’s super strange.

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So there it is. A sad diagnosis that ends a long love affair with glutinous foods. Donuts, cookies, cupcakes, breads, beers, pancakes, burritos, pasta, pizza… I bid you adieu. Or at least until I can figure out how to find you or make you in a way that won’t make me want to keel over. Which will be soon, obviously.

I welcome any tasty Gluten-Free recipes (like this, this, and this), and promise to share some of my GF adventures (in case any of you are struggling with anything similar). But in the mean time, please refrain from offering me any crisp, cold beers, grilled cheese sandwiches, or slices of cake (my favorite food)! I will make you feel really bad :)

XO,

AG