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

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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

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

The Art of Distraction

I’ve been bad at blogging lately. I know it. I feel like it’s an indication that I’ve been spending a little more time living my life (or perhaps more accurately, distracting myself), and less time in a state of inward contemplation. I think people would argue for both sides, but I must say I prefer the prior (if I’m hush-ing the writer in me).

That being said, there hasn’t been a dearth of things to think about. A lot has been going on, lots of changes have been taking place, so I guess you could say that I’ve been attempting to keep myself as busy as possible. I started a Tumblr, booked my tickets home, read a few books, and filled my weekends with lots of activity. So much so that I haven’t even had time for a proper conversation with my mom, sister, cousin, friends. Clearly not a pro at balance – both of the life variety and meal variety. My eating habits have totally and disgustingly derailed. Someone help me! I actually ate McDonalds last night…(……. thought that statement required a bit more emphasis).

Also, Fall TV premiers haven’t been helping. And they probably won’t for the remainder of the year. Who says TV rots your brain? I feel simply inspired… and who doesn’t love being a couch potato for days at a time!

But just to reflect on the last month in St. Lucia, New York City, and the Hamptons.

It’s been a pretty decent month so far. And since my favorite holidays ever are coming up (YAY HALLOWEEN AND THANKSGIVING (this has historically been my favorite, but see what I mean about eating!!?)!), and I get to wear sweaters and boots most days of the week, I’m sure the little bit of 2012 that’s still left will be a doozy. Knock on wood.

Hope everyone is doing great,

AG

Things I Learned At My Birthday Party

I’m just coming off the (figurative) high from my birthday weekend. I still feel like my sister will be waiting for me on the couch when I get home, ready to go shopping (again), or eat something junky, or just talk. I still feel warm and (literally) fuzzy from having  all of my friends around. From smiling, and cheers-ing, and boozing, and eating sweets. Birthdays are so incredibly wonderful. Everyone deserves to feel that loved, even if it’s for one day a year (though the more the better, of course! Half birthdays, perhaps?).

But birthdays also always provide a huge moment of clarity. A yearly reality check, if you will. A good glimpse into the condition of your life, relationships, yourself. Here are 5 things I learn, every year, on my birthday.

1. Who my real friends are.

This year, I ended the night surrounded by my closest friends (minus a few who had to make early departures (or were forced to) & were out of town), outside Katz Deli, and then a Chicken & Rice cart. Laughing hysterically, snapping photographs, eating fries suggestively (why are there so many references to food already!?), and taking the occasional sip of Qui tequila (PLUG!) from the bottle I was cradling in my arms for the entirety of the late night. I also had a dance party with my sister as my poor poor roommate watched at approximately 4am. In the kitchen. Yes. It was that kind of night.

But these things change from year to year. Last year some people showed and others didn’t. Some people called and others didn’t. A Facebook message is never the same as a text which is never the same as a call. An e-card will never replace one that’s been handwritten. But some effort is always better than none! Even if it’s belated.

2. What my expectations of people are.

For some reason, people think that the world should stop, turn, and focus on them and them only, on their birthday. I can’t say I’ve never felt this way. In fact, on Saturday I found myself asking my sister to table a conversation because she was ” here for one night and it’s my birthday and I just want to have fun!” That’s not cool. The best way to have a good birthday is not to have expectations. Don’t let one person’s absence ruin your night. If someone wants to leave, let them. If you’re too sober, buy yourself a drink (for God’s sake!). I’m not saying you shouldn’t think your night will be fabulous – of course it will be – but fabulousness should be based on things you can control. Namely, not people. People have their own minds and their own lives and their own stories. You never know what happened to them before they arrived at your party. And that’s just it. It’s YOUR party, not theirs.

But if you really love someone, stay at their shindig as long as you can (or as long as you feel comfortable), don’t stand silently in a corner, even if you know no one, and smile to show them you’ve having a good time. Everyone’s biggest concern is that people won’t have fun at their birthday party. So all of these go a long way (a longer way than buying them a drink, I would say! Especially once they’ve had more than they can keep track of…). If you can’t make it, just let them know. They’ll understand! It’s likely that they’ve missed a birthday party in their day, too.

3. How I’ve evolved.

In college, I wanted my parties to be EPIC. And thanks to my amazing friends, they almost always were. Blue lighting, fishbowls, wall decals, speciality playlists, themes (Court, I’m talking to you!). They were quite literally the bomb.

This year, I didn’t want to do anything. Now this is almost equally bad. I didn’t want to be a Debby Downer (as you know from my last post, I love my birthday, and can’t wait to be 25), but I just wanted something small, intimate, cozy, comfortable. Namely, I didn’t want the pressure of inviting people, not having them show up, and then being sad – re how i’ve learned fabulousness must be based on things you can control. In the end, I was convinced otherwise. A smart friend told me that when the day came around, I would want it to be memorable and wonderful and at least marginally epic. So I invited friends to a bar. Not a club. A bar, where I knew people could sit if they wanted to, chat if that was their drunken thing, and still dance their butt off if they so desired. This “bar” ended up being sort of party-tastic (dark, crowded, bumpin’), but everyone had a great time. And it may not have been as massively epic as my college birthdays (none of the aforementioned lighting, etc…. Though I could probably argue that it was), but for me, it was memorable and wonderful and frankly, just what I wanted! That’s so much more than I could have asked for.

4. How much people actually love me / How lucky I am.

Isn’t it astonishing? The amount of love you feel on your birthday? The people who will go buck wild, jumping on and off the crazy train, just to celebrate you? Good Lord. It’s amazing.

This is why birthdays are the shit. Seriously.

5. How much I love certain people.

This should be relatively self explanatory. It’s a case of “IF YOU LOVE [IT/THEM] SO MUCH WHY DON’T YOU MARRY [IT/THEM]!?!” Well, I will. I will marry them. And I will use Blakey Lively’s perfect engagement ring to propose. To show them this is true love.

I also learned one more thing. I can’t quite mentally justify it needing its own paragraph, so I’ll just put it out there here. 6. How important it is to wear a really great outfit. And maybe get a good manicure.

Happy birthday to me!

AG

The Nature of Missing

I’ve talked places before. The places I’ve been, lived, loved, stayed, left, and currently gallivant around. And what has made these places special. Or memorable.

Being a serious and chronic homebody, homes have always held a special place in my heart. I’m the type to miss streets, grassy knolls, coffee shops, and 25 cent ice cream. I miss the feeling of the carpet in my pre-teen room, the scent of our kitchen when I arrived home from a long (ha!) day at school, calls on the landline phone, dark nights on our deck, my mom’s cold coffee, all my backyards. And there are times when I yearn for those things. I miss them so intensely, it’s like someone I love has been tragically ripped from my life. Dramatic, I know.

And then I realize. That’s exactly why we miss. Because places and things wind themselves so tightly with the people who bring them to life.

My dad sent me a picture of our old house in Chicago last night, and my reaction was so visceral, I sort of choked. I had a lump in my throat and my eyes started to burn. I know how much he misses it (the picture was accompanied by an “I miss it,” and from my emotionally contained dad, that’s saying a lot), and that made me miss it, too. It made me want to jump back to a time and a place where we were all together. And even though, at the core of my sadness, I missed my family, I wanted to BE in that house. It was a funny partnership there, between missing people I love, and missing the places where I’ve loved them. Maybe that’s why people say “Home Sweet Home,” or “Home is Where the Heart is.” Maybe that’s why I’m always Homesick.

I’m sure this is how I’ll feel about New York one day (assuming I ever leave, because how many times have we all been told, “leave New York when you have kids!”). The dirty, filthy subways. The tiny apartments. The excruciatingly long work-nights. I just know how much I’ll miss it all. But not because I enjoy the New York smog, or the stench, or the closet-less bedrooms (good Lord, you can’t believe how difficult it makes life!). I’ll miss the moments, with the people. Riding the subway home with my boyfriend after a fun night out. Watching hour upon hour of girly (and frankly, pre-teen) television with my roommate. Having an unbelievably wide-eyed, fascinating, must-absorb-every-word conversation with colleagues. It’s those moments, with those people, that ultimately make a place so irresistible. So hard to leave. Especially a place like New York.

 

AG

My First New York-iversary

Considering that this year has been so inspired, I feel ironically uninspired while setting out to write this.

Maybe it’s because New York has now become my life. The novelty of living here has worn off, and although there are still moments when I stop in my tracks, and look up at the skyline in awe, most days I’m still tired in the morning. I don’t always have a hop in a step. I don’t always feel like spending 30 minutes choosing an outfit to look like a fashionable New Yorker. I gawk every time I receive my rent bill. And I’m still disappointed that my life, somehow, hasn’t ended up like an episode of Friends.

Living in New York is nothing like I had imagined. Of course, I’ve always been the idealistic type, imagining the figurative next step as something grand, idyllic, romantic, literary. Built up and written down through expectations set through the media, New Yorkers, and society in general. The Greatest City in the World, they all say.

And sometimes it is. It is the greatest city. The greatest city with the greatest food, the smartest people, the prettiest places, the toughest days. A city in which challenges abound.

I don’t love New York for New York’s sake. I don’t love it because of the cool places, or the museums, or the cocktails, or the shopping, or the Jake Gyllenhaal sightings, or the macaroons, or the pizza, or the rooftop bars  (though these are all seriously wonderful).

I love it because of what it’s done for me. It has tested my limits, taught me the importance of good people, and helped me understand the value of a real career — one that brings passion & excitement back into every day. It has made my relationships stronger, my confidence steadier, and my skin thicker. It’s helped me realize that when you find someone you love, you stick with them, because they really are one in a million.

And although I miss being closer to my family, my cozy (and unrealistically large) Chicago apartment, and the lovely feeling of the Midwest, I am pretty damn proud of myself for making it here (especially without getting kicked to the curb at work or going broke).

Here are some of my favorite memories from the last year.

Attending the US Open with BF

Bike Rides and Picnics in Central Park

Mornings at BBH New York

Afternoon Viewings at BBH New York

Birthdays Experiencing Sleep No More

Christmas-time Walks (and SantaCon HA)

Pizza Party Birthdays

Eating Macaroons with K

Soaking up the view form my first NYC apartment

Highline Funs with the Sis

St Patty’s Day with the Cuz

New York Art Crawl

Tribeca Film Festival

Boat rides on the Hudson with favorites

Rekindling Best Friendships

It’s been a doozy of a year.

XO,

AG