Blogging vs. Real Life: Sometimes Real Life Wins

Things have been busy around here! Between wrapping up the last two weeks of teaching the 6-week summer program, day trips and weekend activities, and a girls’ trip to Nashville, I got a little behind on my blog. I really try to stay on top of the posts, but sometimes real life gets in the way, whether it’s in the form of a grading marathon, or a relaxing afternoon at a winery, or endless lesson planning. All three, plus many more, present good reasons to put the little ol’ blog on the back burner until more time opens up. Don’t fret: next week I will return with the next coffee shop post on Slipstream near Logan Circle. But this week, I am planning and gathering my materials for the Fall semester, which starts on the 31st.

The whole planning process takes a lot more time than expected. There are so many layers. First, you have to decide what’s due when. Then what reading to do on certain days. Then what overarching activities and objectives you want to accomplish. Then what you will actually do to accomplish those activities and objectives. It’s borderline overwhelming. In many respects, it feels exactly like this:

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At the same time, I love organizational tasks, so I don’t really mind.

With summer drawing to a close, I’m sad about the impending coldness and weekends full of grading, but glad that I was able to make the most of my summer over the past few weeks. Also, there are fall leaves already. WTF?!?!

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Having Rahul here PERMANENTLY is amazing, because we not only get to see each other every day, but we can enjoy our weekends together. We’ve explored our city a bit more, drunk wine and “listened” to a 90s cover band with friends (the band was far away and mostly illegible), visited the beach for our engagiversary, celebrated multiple friends moving away (with joyfulness and sadness), saw “The Book of Mormon” at the Kennedy Center (so funny!), and much more. In doing so, I’ve marked off a few things from my DC area to-do list, which included going to the beach in Maryland, going wine tasting in Virginia, and seeing as many plays as possible at The Kennedy Center.

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I also enjoyed a fabulous weekend with some of my dearest friends in Nashville. The weekend officially kicked off our wedding countdown–less than 100 days to go! It was amazing to spend some quality time with my best gals, while also dancing it up all over Nashville. Country music everywhere! We stayed in a house for the weekend, which I highly recommend to anyone visiting the Nashville area. We were in East Nashville, which is an easy and cheap Uber ride to the city. Plus, we had space to spread out and hang during downtime.

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Now that I’ve entertained you with details about my fabulous life, I promise to return to my regularly scheduled programming next week.

 

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Saying Yes to the Dress: Part 1

GUYS. It has been a hot minute since I posted on this ol’ blog—55 days, to be exact. A lot has happened in those days: spring break, sending out our SAVE THE DATES, grading upon endless grading, day trips to DC with my mom,  a short hospitalization for a blood clot in my leg, an anxiety attack from said blood clot in my leg, physical therapy visits, weekend trips to New York (Soho shopping, yes please!), finishing Amy Poehler’s book, finishing Mindy Kaling’s book, watching “How I Met Your Mother” two times through, ordering HBO just to get HBOGo to watch “Veep,” starting “The Mindy Project,” job interviews, wedding planning, the list goes on…

But today, I want to write about the most exciting event of the last 47 days: FINDING MY WEDDING DRESS!

The journey to finally saying yes to the dress was a long one. My first official bridal store visit was on March 3 (Birthday Bride!), and I finally ordered THE DRESS almost a month later on April 2. During this time, my mom and I visited 12 bridal shops in 4 states, tried on countless dresses, developed a genuine distaste for excessive netting, and reached a near breaking point. Somewhere during the experience, after my third bridal store visit and before my ninth or tenth, I disappeared into a tulle-induced frenzy where I was DETERMINED to find the perfect dress. I had found a lovely dress at the 2nd store visit, but somehow convinced myself that I needed to be sure that a more perfect dress didn’t exist somewhere else. In this journey to satiate my inner voice, I tried on many dresses that were not my style at all, squeezed into size 8s and drowned in size 14s, and became more and more frustrated with the whole process. I was positive that I would find the dress while home for Spring Break and, when I didn’t, I returned home to Maryland disappointed that I would have to do the rest of the shopping by myself.

But then something miraculous happened—I spent a day in the hospital for a fractured leg-induced blood clot, after which my mom flew back to Maryland (after already spending 3 weeks with me during my hobbling stage, because she is the best) to spend another 2 weeks with me while I adjusted to a new medication and lived in an anxiety-induced fear of what was happening in my body (watching this video on repeat helped ease my mind and also laugh). While the circumstances for her return to Maryland were crappy, her second visit in 2015 meant one, very exciting thing: we could finish wedding shopping together!

We made a few more appointments in other bridal shops in Maryland, even though I was starting to get tired of the whole experience, which was kind of frustrating. Its wedding dress shopping; how can it be frustrating? I had gone into the whole experience expecting a Monica Geller moment of finding the perfect dress, complete with a “THIS IS THE ONE!” exclamation, pushing all those around me into tears immediately (ok, that last one is a bit of a stretch), with an immediate sense that this dress was going to “complete me.” But then, I had a moment of realization, plus a real talk with my BFF and countless conversations with my mother, and came to understand that I wasn’t buying a wedding dress in the movies. The ah-ha moment is fabricated, in those situations, and I also realized that I’m not even a “ah-ha” moment kind of gal. I just knew I wanted to find a dress that looked and felt amazing, and I started to push myself to hard in finding this dress.

After a few conversations about this frustration, my mom and I set an April 1 deadline for picking the dress, after our last bridal appointments in March 31. A deadline! As a former journalist and current teacher, I love deadlines, and so I latched on to this quickly. I still liked a dress I had tried on at the second bridal shop, and had tried on countless other times afterward, but I wanted to be sure.

And, despite the lengthy journey, I’m so glad I did. On March 31, we visited our last two shops. The first visit was strange—they didn’t allow you to take photos while trying on the dresses (which I know is standard in many shops, but also kind of lame) and the woman helping me made a comment about how I can “wear the wedding dress again,” to which she asked “Why do you laugh?” when I, of course, laughed at what she said. She was being totally serious and implied that I could always make a short summer dress out of the wedding dress. Acc-a-scuse-me? I’m not turning my wedding dress into craft time.

So while the first visit was a bit disappointing, the second visit was so different. Maybe it was because I knew this was our last bridal store visit, no matter what, or maybe I was just in a good mood, but this last store was lovely! Not only were we the only ones, but the dresses were spread out instead of being crammed together, which made browsing a lot easier. Because there were fewer dresses, and this was our last visit, I ended up trying on a few dresses I would have said “heck no” to at other places. Because of this, I finally had a mini-bridal moment. I tried on a dress that I normally would have turned away, and immediately and instinctively knew that this was the dress. It was very similar to the other favorite dress I had tried on several times, but upped the ante just enough to knock the other dress out of the ballpark. I tried it on twice, twirled it in, sent pictures to my sister who immediately approved, and immediately went for fro-yo afterwards to discuss the decision with my mom.

During the whole process, my mom provided the perfect balance of “this is your decision” and “that dress does/does not look like you.” She never pushed me toward a dress, while also pitching in when she could tell I was unsure about a dress I had tried on. She did intervene when I was in my tulle-induced frenzy to tell me I had gotten away from my original dress goals, which was true, and which was exactly what I needed to hear. But she didn’t hide her excitement when we actually PURCHASED THE DRESS, which was such a surreal moment for me that it took a trip to Old Navy and the mall for the realization to sink in. I had found the dress! I’m so happy that my mom was there to finish the wedding dress journey with me; it would not have been the same without her.

We found the dress at the last shop visited and bought the dress at the first shop visited, which adds a nice touch of symmetry to the whole process. Come back in a few weeks for “Saying Yes to the Dress: Part 2”, presented in list format, of course. But first, grading. And grading. AND GRADING!!!!

 

What I’ve Learned While Using Crutches

Remember when I thought I had sprained my ankle? Well, after walking on that ankle for two weeks (with a brace and then nothing), I found out I actually fractured my ankle. Great news!

I was given a boot and crutches to use and then immediately broke down in Perkins Restaurant while having breakfast with my parents. I was home for the weekend for a sorority alumni event, and my dad suggested I visit the doctor since my ankle was still quite swollen. After the nice doctor delivered the horrible news, I had flashes of never being able to walk again, of my ankle falling off, and other sorts of dramatic and wild visions. I reeled myself in a little, but was still frustrated/upset/downright pissed off that I hadn’t known it was fractured any sooner. Plus, the horrible news meant there was absolutely no way I’d be able to run the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler, which I’ve run the past two years and is also my absolute favorite race. So, I let all of this emotion and general upsetness boil inside me until I started crying in Perkins, because what girl doesn’t occasionally cry in a public place?

Soon after that, my parents and I decided my mom would fly home with me, as she was flying to Maryland the next week anyway to visit me for two weeks. For that first week or so, I was heavily relying on the crutches and couldn’t get around very easily at all. While I’m sure I would have managed, having my mom here has been the BEST THING EVER! Not only because she drives me to work and basically takes care of me like I’m a small child who can’t do anything for herself (it’s hard to get around on those crutches!), but because I love when my mom comes to visit! Even though we can’t enjoy the area as much as we normally would (going on walks, venturing into DC, other walking-related activities), we’ve still had a fabulous time going to see movies (The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel for the win!), baking delicious French meals, having long conversations, and trying out lots of wine. Oh, and the BIGGEST THING: trying on WEDDING DRESSES! AHHH! Blog post on that coming soon.

I have really enjoyed having her here with me and will be sad when she has to leave. Luckily, we are going back to TN together for Spring Break, so I get to hang out with her (and the rest of my family) for a little while longer.

And now to the title of this blog post…

What I’ve Learned While Using Crutches (and wearing a boot):

  • A lot of people will open the door for you.
  • Many people, strangers included, will say “that looks bad” or “be careful” or “oh no, I hope you feel better soon.”
    To which I want to say “I feel fine.” I’m not sick, my body is working to repair these fractured bones with what I can only assume is magic. But then I remind myself they are just trying to be nice.
  • Your students will ask how you are doing. A few will even open the car door for you, as your mom is waiting at the curb outside of school to pick you up.
    Side note: Moms, especially mine, are the best.
  • Speaking of Moms, she will take care of you and bring you coffee and help you get around and remind you to stop hopping around on your one good foot because you’re going to injure yourself some more (which I’m surprised I haven’t yet). I feel like I can’t say enough about how great it has been to have her here. The time has gone by so fast, which is great for the healing process, but not for the Mom hangout time.
  • They aren’t fun. As a kid, I always thought crutches looked fun. That’s because I didn’t have to actually rely on them to get around. Mark this down under other things I’ve stopped desiring that I once wanted in my childhood, like glasses and curly hair (oh wait, I still kind of want the last one).
  • Many people will stare. Some even point, like this woman at Trader Joe’s yesterday, who then said (loudly), “Something’s wrong with her leg.” THANK YOU FOR STATING THE OBVIOUS.
  • I really, really  can’t wait to get back to my normal mobility. I’ve started doing a Pilates 4-week challenge because I CAN’T DO ANYTHING ELSE and in my mind I’m going to gain 1,000 pounds. I’m telling you what, that creative imagination of mine is going CRAZY right now.

Overall, I have been surprised and thankful at how nice most people have been in helping me get around, even if it’s something as small as opening the door for me. A little help goes a long way.

 

Life’s Random Moments

For a long, long time, I’ve been amazed at how seemingly random life can be while also fitting together like a puzzle. What do I mean by this? Some examples: you randomly recall a scene from a movie you haven’t seen in a while, only to find it on TV later that day. A friend you haven’t spoken to in a few months pops into your mind, only to be followed by a text message or email from them soon after. While cleaning the apartment, you stumble upon a folder of random documents, only to realize you need one of the next day. See what I mean?

So yesterday when I filled my ice trays because I knew I would be making a smoothie this morning, I didn’t think anything other than “I like ice in my smoothies.” This morning, I made a banana blueberry smoothie (which was DELICIOUS, I loosely followed this recipe) and went on to my merry way to work. I was running late, of course (if you’ve been reading, you know this is a CHRONIC problem of mine), so when I parked I had just the right amount of time to get to my class.
Side note here: For the past few months, I’ve been parking at my old boss’s house near the campus. It’s free street parking, and it’s only a 10-minute walk through the woods to my classroom.
I quickly walked through the neighborhood to get to the trail through the woods. On the downhill slope to the trail, I slipped once on the pavement–for some reason, my favorite boots are very slippy when on pavement. Good combo, right? I caught myself and was just thinking “thank God I caught myself” when BOOM, I slipped again and I found myself, suddenly, on the ground.

Now, last time I fell like this, I was running through Rock Creek Park, and I had a moment of “what the hell is going on here?” This time, all I felt was pain. My left leg was screaming out in pain and I sat there for a few moments, holding my knee, simultaneously urging the pain to subside while also thinking “my class starts in 7 minutes.” Even though it hurt to move, I picked myself back up, drove to class paid for parking (there was no way I was gonna make it through the woods on my left leg) and taught my two classes.

I know. I’m a champ.

In reality, I taught my classes, but my brain was fuzzy. The immediate pain was so sharp, I thought I was going to throw up. I’ve never had a serious sports injury, so I had really no idea what to do. In class, I was in pain and distracted, and struggled remembering the names of my students. One of them gave me an ice pack, which was incredibly nice, and another offered to help me walk to the health center. So, even though I was having a real off day, they seemed to look past that and amaze me with their kindness.

Flash forward to the health center (after my awesome friend, Steve, met me at my class to drive me to the health center), where I realized in the waiting room the TRUE IRONY of the fact that I had just filled my ice trays the night before I sustained an injury that is best healed with compression, elevation, and ICE. I literally never have ice in my trays. Granted, I have frozen veggies, which work just the same, but I found myself laughing, thinking about this. Again, it’s life taking a bunch of random moments and showing how they all fit together in one, neat puzzle.
Most of the time.

I’m hoping the ankle (which is sprained) will heal soon-ish because I just started training for the Cherry Blossom 10Miler and I’m only 15 days into my 30 Days of yoga. : ( I always have a hard time not getting back on my feet when I hurt myself in any way, but Rahul is great about reminding me to care for my body now, instead of paying for it later (in the form of worse injuries).

SPEAKING OF RAHUL, today is our six-month engagement anniversary!!!! I can’t believe it has been six months! We’ve enjoyed the early stages, which were mostly filled with relaxation and enjoyment, but the next 6 months will definitely be more wedding-focused! We have our caterer, so another step down! I’m so looking forward to our slowly approaching wedding, and to marry Rahul, who puts up with everything from wedding freak-outs to ankle injury whining. He seriously is the best person ever.

Engaged in Paris

I sleepily stumble through the large, spacious hallways of the International Terminal at the Atlanta Airport until I finally reach Customs. I enter my information into the brand new customs machines that US citizens use now when re-entering the country (I swear one day machines are going to really take over this planet). The machine prints a receipt with a terrible photo and I wait in line to present my information to a customs officer, who checks to make sure the machine didn’t make a mistake. Or something like that? This whole new process confuses me, but it did take a whole lot less time. He asks me the standard questions, and I accidentally answer “I am staying with a friend tonight and then flying to Baltimore tomorrow” when he asks “How long were you gone for?” because I thought he said “Where are you going?”

Then, “Do you have anything to declare?”

YES, PLEASE LOOK AT THIS AMAZING ENGAGEMENT RING NOW SITTING ON MY LEFT HAND!

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Okay, that’s not really what I said, because the super-bored-looking Customs officer could probably care less. But I did come back from Paris with something better than what I took over there with me–the fact that I can now yell this from the rooftops:

2rwtd1iAs I was packing for Paris, and telling friends/family about the trip, almost every single person said, in some form or fashion, “you’re going to get engaged.” One of my friends even said, after asking questions about our plans for the trip: “And where do you think the proposal will happen?” I talked about it at length with a few close friends, even making jokes about my concerns about dropping the ring into the Seine if he proposed on a river cruise, but I really didn’t plan on it happening. Rahul and I have been in a relationship for almost 4 years, and have been talking about marriage since near the beginning. But since we are still long-distancing it (for not much longer!), a proposal was not something I really expected to happen until we were both living in the same country. Of course, that didn’t stop me from dreaming about it.
Boy, did he prove me wrong.

Before I start to share the story with you, I’m excited to announce that you will not only be able to read the proposal story from my POV, but Rahul’s as well!! My friend Mary Beth said that one of the best part about proposal stories is you get to hear two sides of the same moment, and I have to agree with her. 

KATHERINE 

PRE-PROPOSAL

Rahul, who is usually not a planner at all, sent me a very detailed itinerary for our trip about a week before we were set to leave. Each day was scheduled to perfection; all the places we had talked about visiting had a place somewhere. I was impressed, and excited, but didn’t think anything of it. I just assumed he was excited about our trip too and wanted to make sure we got to see everything we wanted to.

Then he asked for my dad’s phone number, so he could share the itinerary, and the little voice in my head piped up–could it be? Could he be calling him for any other reason than just to share the itinerary? I thought about it, even shared the idea with a few girlfriends, before thinking “nah. He just doesn’t want my parents to worry.”
Clever Rahul step #1.

On the itinerary, our 2nd full day in Paris was scheduled as our Eiffel Tower Day. We were scheduled to have breakfast in the morning, walk through Trocadero, visit the Flame of Liberty, and then return to the Eiffel Tower for dinner at 5:45. I was excited because 1) hello, it’s the Eiffel Tower, and 2) we were going to have dinner INSIDE OF IT! On the itinerary for the Eiffel Tower Day, he had placed a small asterisk by the date, something I didn’t notice until he pointed it out to me later.
Clever Rahul step #2.

THE DAY OF

I’m going to share this part of the story from the POV of has-no-idea-what’s-going-on-Katherine because it’s fun that way.

The night before, I ask Rahul what time we need to get up. Do we have a reservation for breakfast? What time do we need to get there? (I like to ask a million questions). “Oh, yeah, we have a reservation at 8:15, I think,” he says. I say okay and we set our alarm clocks. That night, we had gone on a dinner river cruise on the Seine, gotten a nice introduction to the city of Paris, seen the Eiffel Tower freakin’ SPARKLE AND LIGHT UP!, seen the Paris Statue of Liberty (where was Nic Cage?), and it was all during sort of dreary weather. We keep checking the weather in hopes that the next morning would be rain-less.

That morning, we get up with plenty of time to leave for our “8:15 reservation.” Rahul plays some music, I take a shower, and then generally lollygag, because that’s the thing I do, and Rahul waits patiently, because that’s the thing he does. We still manage to leave with time on our side and walk to the metro stop close to our hotel, which is a direct shoot to the Trocadero stop.

On the metro, we are holding hands and Rahul starts playing with the small initial ring I have on my left ring finger–the one I had started wearing a few months before, and was planning on wearing until we got engaged, as my last name would change from a K name to a J name. He touches the ring and says, “Which finger do you wear an engagement ring on?” I smile and point to the same finger. He plays with the ring some more.
Clever Rahul step #3. 

About halfway there, the metro stops at one of the stations and suddenly everyone get out. Someone says to us in French that the train is stopping and so we also get off the train. Then, of course, I go into panic mode. I am a pretty worrisome traveler, and I also don’t do so great with long lines, hiccups in plans (like train closures), or other things in this realm that involve waiting for something to happen. When I’m with Rahul, I can usually let this part of me take a backseat, as he is pretty relaxed and confident that things we’ll turn out the way they should and, if not, we’ll figure it out anyway. So while I’m panicking, thinking we are going to miss our breakfast reservation, Rahul hides his panic and asks a metro employee what we need to do. She points us in the direction of another route, and we continue our journey.

A few stops later, we get off at Trocadero and walk toward it. I’m not making this up when I say the first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower that morning was magical. Trocadero is a beautiful park/look-out/fountain across from the Eiffel Tower, and provides–in my mind–the best view of the Eiffel Tower. It’s unobstructed and you can see the whole thing. So we round the corner to Trocadero, and I gasp. The weather was perfect, the sun was still rising, and there was the Eiffel Tower, resplendent in the early morning glow. I’m taking it all in when I hear Rahul say, “Oh no!”

“What is it?”

He points to an Asian couple who are taking wedding photos and who are, strangely enough, the same couple we had seen taking wedding photos the day before at Luxembourg Gardens. “Why is taking wedding photos a bad thing?” I asks him. He laughs it off and we move past them to stand at the edge of the look-out and take in the view.

I am still in awe of the simply gorgeous view, especially after the dreary weather the night before. The sky is beautiful and shines down on the Tower, quiet and nearly empty at that hour. It was, and still is, my favorite view of the Tower from our whole trip. There’s hardly anyone else around us and so, after taking a few pictures of the Tower, I say, “Let’s take a selfie!” (Because what else are you going to do as an American in Paris). He obliges and we take a few photos. Also during this time we are hugging and kissing and basking in the glow of the fact that we are in PARIS and it is amazing.

This is when I start to wonder if something was going on.

I’ll step out of character for a second to say that when I have told this story since, I say here that I noticed something was going on because he started to say a lot of nice things to me. Now Rahul says nice things to me all the time, but he started saying a lot of them in succession. I return the sentiments, smiling at him and happy, and then ask to take more pictures of us. We go to take another picture when he says “Oh crap! We should move, the couple is right behind us.” I look and the Asian couple has moved closer to us and is in between us and the Tower. So we move a few spots to the right and I take my phone out again.

“Why don’t you put it away,” he said. “Just take in the view.” So I oblige, all the while thinking, what’s going on, as he actually puts my phone in my bag for me and zips it shut.

This is when I enter into what I like to call “PROPOSAL HAZE WHAT IS HAPPENING??!?!?”

Rahul puts my phone away, steps back, and says, “I love you. You make me so happy, and I want to spend the rest of my life making you as happy.” I sort of remember him saying this, because the next thing I know he is kneeling down on one knee and holding a red velvet box toward me in his palms. I follow the movement of him kneeling like a cat watching a laser, thinking OMG what is happening!?!? and then next thing I know there is a RING SITTING IN THE BOX SITTING IN HIS HAND. I am so distracted looking at him kneeling and looking at the ring that I don’t really remember him saying “Will you marry me?” even though I know he did. Even after all the dozens of comments that Rahul was definitely going to propose in Paris, I found myself in complete shock as he holds a ring up to me, a smile on his face.
As my best friend Lydia says, I went into “ooh, something shiny!” mode.

I stare at the ring as it blurs out everything else around me. I reach out toward it, and I must have been smiling (I honestly don’t remember, it was like I went into a haze) and Rahul says, “That’s a yes, right?” And I say of course, and I am smiling, and he stands up and takes the ring out and removes my K ring and slides on this BEAUTIFUL ENGAGEMENT RING and we start kissing and smiling and hugging and kissing some more and hugging to the point that there’s a picture of us where it looks like I am trying to pick him up, I am hugging him so hard.

Oh, that’s right. Because after the celebration phase (which is also sort of a blur because I was so overwhelmed with excitement about what had just happened), Rahul says, “By the way. Look over there.” And this woman holding a camera waves at us and I start laughing in shock.
Clever Rahul step #4. 

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You might notice that is my PARIS DRESS, which was featured in my last blog post, and will forever be known as my PROPOSAL DRESS!

Lindsey of Pictours Paris introduces herself and then we take dozens of amazing pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower, all the while I’m looking at Rahul and at the ring on my hand thinking, “oh my gosh! We’re engaged! This is crazy!” When I discussed the proposal with some girlfriends afterwards, we all commented on the fact that, while you wish you could freeze time, take in every moment of the proposal, and remember it forever, your brain instead goes into “SOMETHING AMAZING IS HAPPENING SO I AM GOING TO FREAK OUT!” I am in a delirious excitement the whole time, but I also can’t believe what just happened. We are in Paris, we are engaged, and we are taking pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower. THE EIFFEL TOWER!!!!! Life is good.

We take some more pictures at the Love Lock bridge, and put our own lock on the bridge, but I do not have those pictures yet to share with you. After we part ways with Lindsey, we walk to a random cafe, order these AMAZING chocolate croissants, and I tell Rahul he has to tell me everything. I learn:

  • Yes, he had asked my Dad for permission beforehand, and both of my parents knew, as well as his.
  • In fact, many of his friends knew, and so did my sister.
  • The center stone on the ring was from a ring of his mother’s, and he had skyped with the jeweler in TN to design the rest of the ring. (I mean, WHATTTT!?!?)
  • He had his parents sew the ring in the tag of a t-shirt, wrap the t-shirt in a bag, and then sent to me via my parents, where I held this package (which I thought was a shirt and a check) for nearly three weeks before transporting it with me to Paris to deliver to Rahul.
    Clever Rahul step #5.

Yes, that’s right. I HAD THE RING WITH ME THE WHOLE TIME! This is definitely one of my favorite parts about the story.

After the croissant eating, we walk down the river and just talk and laugh and enjoy ourselves and a Paris that is not yet full of the general OMG THERE ARE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE, which is lovely and amazing and one of my favorite parts about the morning. That and the fact that we ARE NOW ENGAGED.

 POST PROPOSAL 

Now that I am back in Maryland, I am sort of depressed with the fact that I am in Maryland and not Europe (Rahul, can we move there please?), and have to catch up on a crap-ton of work because, OH THAT’S RIGHT, school starts next week and I have to switch into teacher mode pretty soon. But it’s hard to work when you have a  shiny ring on your finger distracting you every .8 seconds….

Rahul and I have talked a little about wedding plans but, as my friend Alex suggested, we are enjoying being engaged right now before transitioning into the months of planning and preparation. We had a full week of Paris left after the proposal to enjoy the city together, drink celebratory champagne, and just bask in the fact that we can now call each other fiancé and fiancée.

RAHUL

The following takes place between 7:00 am and 8:30 am, on the day of Rahul-Katherine Proposal.

So where exactly is breakfast? She asks.

Oh its a nice place near the Trocadero.  We have reservations for 8:15.

Who makes reservations for breakfast, I chuckle to myself. Oh well, looks like she’s buying it.  Time to get dressed.

She puts on this pink and white dress.  It looks amazing! She makes it look amazing.  I sneak looks at her as she’s getting ready.

I play “Married Life” from UP on my phone. I’ve been sneakily playing it on random occasions over the last month, she recognizes it.

My biggest problem right now: where do I put this ring box?  It’s too big to fit in my pocket without being noticed.  I’m not taking a backpack to a proposal.  I can’t hide it in a t-shirt again. Hmmm, well done Rahul, so you didn’t plan everything did you…I start thinking.

Quick last minute, slightly dangerous, slightly stupid decision. I’ll just tuck it into my belt around the back so she can’t see it.  All the way up to the proposal the box hangs precariously from my belt; it falls out on the metro a few times.  I keep putting it back in the same place.  What did Einstein say about stupidity?

As we’re riding the metro on the way to the Trocadero, a thousand scenarios are running through my mind.  We hold hands and it calms me.  I force myself to think in the moment, I don’t want to forget this day.

I ask her about the ring she’s wearing, but its carefully placed inside another conversation.  I’m hoping I’m not being too obvious, I’m just excited!  On very rare occasions I let my poker/act like you’ve been here before/face slip, and this is clearly one of them.  She clearly notices the ring conversation, and I quickly change the topic.  How bout that Disneyland Paris huh? I wonder if there are joggers there too? (There are joggers everywhere in Paris, Versailles, the Louvre, the toilets.)

The metro doesn’t cooperate, so we have to detour.  I take it in stride.  Nothing is going to ruin this day, I think to myself.

The following takes places between 8:09 am and 8:30 am. All events are in real time.

We finally make it to our stop, and I’m thinking,  come’on sun!  If there’s only one day you need to cooperate, it’s today, don’t let me down giant burning star.  As we’re climbing up the stairs, exiting the metro, I see what looks like sunrays, could it be? Does someone up there know how important today is?

Sure enough, we walk out to a beautiful sunny crisp Paris morning! It’s not too cold, not too hot, just the perfect porridge, I mean weather. What could go wrong?

And as soon as we turn the corner onto the Trocadero, BAMMM! Asian Couple Marriage Photo Session!   Dammit! Who invited the Asian couple decked out in full wedding garb to my proposal? (There are Asian couple photo sessions everywhere in Paris, Versailles, the Louvre, the toilets.)

It’s ok, I brace myself. I force myself to think in the moment, I don’t want to forget this day.

As we’re walking up, I see the a teal camera strap out of the corner of my eye.  That’s her, that’s the photographer.  (“I’ll make a gesture to you, so you notice me,” she writes in the email conversation we had a few weeks ago, “you’ll notice my teal camera strap. “) Either that’s Lindsey the photographer, or I’ve just made awkward acknowledgements towards a weird-ed out tourist.  She’s following us, good, that has to be her.

Too many things happening at once: trying to dodge the Asian couple, there’s construction on one side of the Trocadero, is the ring still tucked into my belt?  Where is the photographer? Katherine didn’t see me look around, did she?

We slowly make our way to the steps descending from the Trocadero.  Ring check.  Ok, good it’s still there.  I look at Katherine, she calms me. One look at her is all I need, I’m back in the game.  I tell her about how wonderful she is, and how happy she makes me.  I try to tell her this as much as I can.  She wants to capture the moment on camera, so we always remember it. No camera necessary, I put it in her purse.   Don’t worry about the photo Katherine, it’s been taken care of.  This is where I would break the third wall and acknowledge the audience, Underwood style.

Nothing could be more perfect than this moment.  I slowly get the box from my belt and hold it behind my back.  In that moment I think to myself, how lucky am I? In my wildest craziest most unimaginable dreams I would not have imagined I would be here, in Paris, with her by my side, asking her to be my wife.

I tell her how happy I want to make her, and how much I love her.  How her smile brings a smile to my face. How much she means to me, and how I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her.  I slowly drop down to one knee and ask her, Katherine, Will You Marry Me? As I open up the box.

The ring screams, do it!  

She goes…. WHAT? Are you serious? Is this happening?

I say yes, the world pauses. Frame freeze.  I take the K ring off her finger.  I put the Rahul Katherine ring on her finger! It looks perfect on her. She looks perfect.  I rise to meet her as she leans down the meet me, we kiss halfway.

What? Are you serious? She says again.

I already know that’s a resounding yes! But I ask anyway. That’s a yes right?  And she says YES! Of course, yes!  We hug each other, I’m the luckiest guy in the world.

We hug more, we kiss more, we hold hands, we kiss even more. It’s a moment I’ll never forget.  Two silly kids who met at a bar in Jackson, Tennessee, made it through everything, and found themselves on the steps of the most romantic city in the world, with the Eiffel Tower staring down on us.  And I got to ask the most beautiful girl in the world for her hand in marriage.

I’m a lucky, lucky guy. She makes my heart happy. And I get to do the same for her for the rest of our lives.

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Swanson’s Got Swagger the Size of Big Ben Clock

This past Thursday, I was able to spend ten glorious hours in good ol’ London town. My last flight to India was direct, but this one had a layover in London. And I have to say, I give a big … Continue reading

#lastminutenycadventure

I love living near D.C. In fact, when I found out I was going to be going to school right outside of D.C., I told people I was moving to D.C. instead of Maryland because 1) it’s more recognizable and … Continue reading

India, Here I Come!

The countdown is on. I leave for India in 15 days. Actually, the countdown has been on for quite a while, I just haven’t gotten around to sitting down and writing this post. I meant to do it a month … Continue reading

Eating Whatever the Hell I Want: Cherry Blossom Ten Miler Recap

Gathering at the starting/finishing line, the Washington Monument.

Gathering at the starting/finishing line, the Washington Monument.

I ran the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler on Sunday, and since then my biggest question has been how long can I use that as an excuse to eat whatever the hell I want? Pre-race pizza? Yum. Post race muffins? Necessary. Next day spaghetti? Sure. Next next day Indian food for lunch? Delicious. Next next day ice cream? Okay, now it’s getting a little out of hand.
To be fair, the ice cream was from Ben & Jerry’s free scoop day. So I feel like that shouldn’t even really count.

Rachel and I looking confident before the race started. Post race: confidence still there??

Rachel and I looking confident before the race started. Post race: confidence still there??

The race itself wasn’t as terrible as I thought it was going to be. In fact, it was actually great—although my face in some of the official race photos will try to tell you a different story. After waiting in the longest bathroom line ever—don’t think I’ve ever waited so long to use a Porta Potty—Rachel and I were able to start the race in the same corral. We were in the 10:30-minute mile one, which meant we passed the elite runners looking ever-so-cool at around their mile five right after we started. A fellow green-miler yelled, “whoo hoo fast runners!” to which her friend told her to stop focusing on the real runners and on her own running.

Love the costumes.

Love the costumes.

That was probably one of the best parts of the race, and what made it feel like not 10 miles. Since I was running with about 15,000 of my closest friends, there were always people around me. That’s a huge motivating factor. It’s even more motivating when you have fun things to look at, like the guy dressed up as a flower, or the America-themed couple. This was my first large race, and I was honestly expecting a madhouse. And while there were people EVERYWHERE—someone needs to teach those tourists to cross the road with conviction. If you’re going to cross the road with hundreds of runners coming toward you at a much faster pace, commit to it. Don’t stop and look at us—it was a good kind of crowd, as the crowd was a big reason to keep moving forward. That and the awesome signs passed along the way, two of my favorites being “This is the worst parade ever” and “Run like Phoebe!” Oh, and I definitely couldn’t have done miles 6-8 without Rachel running beside me, as my legs were absolutely ready to quit. But that makes sense when the longest I ran in training was six miles. Like a dummy.

Run run run! Run like walkers are out to get you!

Run run run! Run like walkers are out to get you!

This is my longest race since my half marathon two years ago, which was a much different scene. The night after the race (like we’re talking 8 hours later), I was helping myself to a generous serving of cake at an event I attended with my parents when a woman said, “Slow down, remember it was only 13 miles.” Yeah, it was ONLY 13 miles. I feel like that equals out to at least several pieces of cake.

I’m going to walk home today from the metro instead of using the bus, as a half-assed attempt at equaling out the ice cream consumption. But really, I can’t help but still operate under the fact that yeah, I ran 10 miles on Sunday. ONLY ten. So pass the snacks.