Monday, December 3, 2012

Music Monday - Monarchy Version

Okay, so I had planned on dedicating this post to Advent in general, news prevailed. Congratulations to the British royal family (and William and Catherine in particular) regarding the news of their expected heir(ess?), coming sometime next year!

Coming much sooner is the much-anticipated, ever-hopeful anniversary of the arrival of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He was not satisfied being His Father's only Son. He insisted on dying on the cross and rising again so that we might be heirs, too.

Sola Dei Gloria.

And yes, this is from King's College, Cambridge. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

So, For A Teaser...

Life intrudes. Work, sleep, church activity, write, grade papers (CJ), walks, getting sick (both of us), work, sleep, etc., etc. etc.

I'm sorry I haven't posted anything for awhile. Sometimes it isn't because there's nothing to say; it's that there's too many words and the ability to write them down won't coalesce around an idea.

Until today. No, this isn't the blog post for it. I'm at work, and needing to finish lunch break, so it will have to wait. But here's the teaser for the blog post: it's about a new country song about a merry-go-round, another blogger's musings about the trials and tribulations of young mothers, and my trip to Germany in 1999. And dreams. Not the kind you have when you're sleeping, the other kind.

Oh, and just for L, my sister-in-law R's mom, I had store-bought spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. CJ had yoghurt, because he has an ear infection.

Enjoy the last of November!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Music Monday - The Boys (and Girls) Of Fall

There is a slight whiff of chill in the air tonight that wasn't there this weekend. The leaves are turning quickly, threatening to slide straight from green to the ground.

Another sign of the season.

Today is Monday, which for most people is back to work. But I'm typing this in the evening in the autumn, which for many Americans means one thing: Monday Night Football. It's on at our house right now. CJ is a Bears fan; it is a product of a decade lived in the rarefied air of Chicago. He's not optimistic about their chances against the Cowboys in Texas. This does not make him a fair-weather fan - it makes him a Bears fan. But this post isn't about the Bears. Or football really. Not professional football, that is.

This past Friday the local high school celebrated its homecoming. One of the big events was the annual football game. (Our town's team won.) It brings back memories of fifteen years ago, when I was in high school. A lot of things have changed from then - the kids now have cell phones that do everything, instant information via the internet, YouTube, etc. But some things haven't changed.

Before school starts in August, the boys are out practicing. Two times a day, multiple times a week, in sometimes murderously hot weather. Running, tackling, blocking, passing, rushing, figuring out the plays. Coaches slapping heads, yelling, blowing the whistle. Soft encouragement sometimes is needed too. A pull to the side. You can do this.

The football players are not alone. The soccer players, boys and girls, are running and playing too. At my high school, girls' tennis was a fall sport. And cross country. My sport.

I was crazy.

You have to be some kind of crazy, or at the very least not thinking very much, to run cross country. Running five kilometers in nearly all conditions, jostling elbows, lungs screaming, sweat streaming into my eyes, why-the-hell-am-I-doing-this, slogging through the pain to the finish line, girls in purple jackets yelling and cheering. Stop. Pant. Walk. Pant. Pant. Put hands on head. Pant. Pant. Pant. Coach's voice in my head: Don't let them see you hurt. Who wants to see me hurt? The other team? That voice in my head that says you can't do this? Someone hands me water. Pant. Sip. Pant. Spit. The air is coming slower now. The heart beats less frenetically. Deep breath. Done.

The worst part for me was never the finish. It was the start. The buildup, the anticipation. The open races were so crowded that there was little room to even put a foot forward.

Everyone would be doing the last moment stretches, jogs in place, quiet chatter to friends. The approach to the line. Deep breath, it's almost time. Find a spot wedged in between teammates. Good-natured elbow nudges. Look down at the ground, see the couple inches of grass or dirt visible beneath all the shoes. Set.

The hanging moment waiting for the gun. It's hot/humid/freezing/raining/sleeting, the Buckeyes are playing and I'm missing the game (again), man I coulda slept in this morning, oh listen to the birds in the distance (insert blackberry joke here), where is Mom standing, why am I doing this again!?!?!?


Bumping, clawing, stretching out the stride, careful around the first corner, get some space, find my rhythm.

And do it again the next Saturday.

I miss it.

They are out there now, this season in this year. Innumerable girls and boys running against the clock. Against a rival. Against themselves. Kenny Chesney didn't sing this song for us, or for them.

"When I feel that chill, smell that fresh-cut grass..."

It comes back to me. But I don't think it ever left.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Afternoon

Cleaned the bathroom and used the new Swiffer on the kitchen, living room, and bathroom floors.

Took out the trash.

Downloaded more music from Itunes.

Waiting for chicken wings to get done.

American football on TV, soon to be followed by English (and to be fair, everywhere else) football.

Looking out the window and enjoying the fantastic weather.

At home with my husband CJ.

Autumn is here.

Life is good.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Music Monday - For When It's Just...Monday

For some reason, today was just blah. There's a meeting I need to go to tonight, and I don't really want to go, but I know I'll regret it if I don't. (Voters' meeting at church - to call a new pastor. Not really something a regular member should miss.)

So two posts tonight. This is a song from 2001 that really resonated with me then, and still does. In the fall semester that year, everyone was dealing with the aftermath of 9/11. And on a personal note, my best friend from high school was put into a drug-induced coma (long story) because her doctors couldn't figure out how to treat her. She eventually recovered, but that was not a three-month period that I look back on with fondness.

It's almost like the hard times circle 'round
A couple drops, and they all start coming down
Yeah, I might feel defeated, and I might hang my head
I might be barely breathing, but I'm not dead, no
'Cause tomorrow's another day
And I'm thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain

And another, just because.

Have a good week, everyone! One day at a time. There, I feel better already. :)

Friday, August 24, 2012

A quick note

I'm back, or to be more accurate, we're back. After moving, double ear infection misery, more moving in temperatures closer to hell than I want to feel in a long while, family time, rehearsal dinner with grandpa wine, Wedding Day (!!), day-after-wedding-and-getting-the-phone-call-offering-CJ-a-job excitement, packing and throwing away more of my junk, CJ squeezing time to work on his classroom, us flying to LA, me attending SCBWI conference (good times!), both of us cruising up the California coast in a red Ford Mustang convertible, returning to the Midwest, moving MORE stuff into our cute-but-cramped apartment, and nearly finishing the second week back at our jobs (mine old, his new)...deep breath, we're ready for some downtime.


And once we get the internet set up at our new place, you can once more enjoy my eclectic taste on Music Mondays. That should be within a week or so, but I just wanted to let you all know that I'm not gone forever. And there's plenty of words left to write. :)

Happy Friday, all!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Music Monday - For Ainsley, Of Course

She was born on Friday afternoon. Like her dad. And it was the 13th. Her parents got engaged on another Friday and 13th. She was late too, but we won't hold that against her.

The most enjoyable moment regarding the baptism yesterday (after the angels stopped singing), was when two uncles, a grandmother, and the new father (among all who were there in person) had a photo-call with the young lady, her godmother, and her godfather - who appeared via Skype. Baptism in the 21st century!

Hello to a little girl who is very much loved!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ummm, yeah. It's June.

Sorry to leave this blog so quiet for so long. It wasn't planned. Unlike the next couple of months in my life. So what happened?

-Quick trip to "round on the ends and high in the middle"* for Mr. Fartlepants' shower. Family, faith, food, fun. 

-CJ's birthday. And contrary to what he has said, he's still young. Sheesh.

-Finished, finished, finished my yet-to-be-titled (that's heading, not Easrl or Duke) book. Finished. Did I say finished? Not perfect, but FINISHED. Yay!!!!!

It will be pretty light here for awhile, but I'll try to pop up a couple of times a month. It's not as if there's nothing going on. Coming up this month: freaky fast trip to California for CJ's sister's graduation and a bridal shower, wedding up north (wedding just this past Saturday, too) and another shower here to round out June. 

July: moving house, Mr. F's imminent arrival (this could come earlier) and CJ becoming a married man, with some help.

August: SCBWI National Conference in LA, FANTASTIC honeymoon in....?, going home to even more books.

September: Mr. F's reaffirmation of his/her baptism

October: Sleep. Maybe.

Monday, May 7, 2012

'...Jack, don't you understand? All of your life, in your game, you've been striving for saw it.'

I'm nearing the end of the race now, to finish my book. I shouldn't take this much time to even post this.

But I have to.

The Kentucky Derby was this past Saturday. This year's winner was a horse named I'll Have Another. Every year, the winner of the Derby is the subject of immense speculation - will he or she win all three races (Derby, Preakness and Belmont) to win the Triple Crown? It hasn't been done since the 1970s.

There is one horse that stands above all others in Triple Crown lore. In 1973, Secretariat won the Triple Crown. The climax was the final race, the Belmont Stakes. His victory there was so staggering that many people think it will never happen again.

This clip is from a documentary about Secretariat in 1973, focusing on the Belmont. Mingled with original footage of the race are comments from journalists, horse experts, as well as Secretariat's owner, trainer and jockey. It's a long clip, over ten minutes. TOTALLY worth watching in its entirety. If you aren't moved, you don't have a sense of the divine.

Some of my favorite quotes:

"It was like the Lord was holding the reins. Secretariat was one of his creatures..."

"Lucien said, 'Oh my God, Ron, don't fall off, just don't fall off!'"

"They're treating him like just another horse."

"...'Jack, don't you understand? All of your life, in your game, you've been striving for perfection.' And he said, 'At the end of the Belmont, you saw it.'"

This post is included in Music Monday because of the clip's Best Use Ever of "Overture: Prisoner Of The Crusades" from the movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The music has been used for many sports clips, but not to this effect, in my opinion.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Happy Second Birthday, S!

May you have happiness every day, just like Gene and Donald. But perhaps not (always) the mess.
Love you!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Haunting Deleted Movie Scene Music

From Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince. They should have kept this scene in. Even if you've never read the books, or watched the movies, anything with an English choir is worth listening to. And if that argument doesn't convince you, please indulge me. :)

Blessed Easter season to you all!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Music Monday

My new favorite song.

Monday, March 19, 2012

"...and if you do, you will not be the same."

I've never really explained why Music Mondays came to be. It wasn't a desire to make an alliterative blog post; that was a coincidence. It was, partially, a disciplinary exercise - even if I wouldn't blog on a consistent basis, I would have to do at least one a week. And there are always examples of music that I've heard and think my few readers should hear (or hear again, in some cases).

Music is, has, and will continue to be a major part of my life. Mom and Dad both have said that in my case, singing came before talking. For most of my life, music, whether sung or not, has been a way to express what I've been feeling, even if I couldn't find the words to say it. To this day, I find myself turning up the radio when a particular song comes on and encouraging whoever is riding with me to "listen!". Usually I end up disappointed, because he or she doesn't hear what I'm hearing, or starts talking halfway through, or clearly is uninterested. Music is another world to me - another form of communication. It says the things we cannot. So that's really why all of you must endure these weekly posts. Thank you for humoring me! :)

Words in music have meaning. I believe they can have even more meaning in music. Bear with me here. One of my favorite moments illustrating this happened my senior year in high school. My AP English teacher played a recording of Loreena McKennit's "The Highwayman". It was amazing! I had read the poem before, and heard it spoken plainly (any of you who have watched Anne of Green Gables know what I'm talking about), but never set to music. The harmony of words woven through song made a powerful impression on me.

Which brings me to today. This really came up yesterday, when I and two other writer friends were meeting together. The first purpose of the meeting was to write. Duh. What ended up happening was L seemed keen on talking about another friend's book launch, J's computer was having issues, and I've been surprisingly disciplined lately when it comes to writing, so I felt I could take a break. So we talked. About lots of things - our friend CG's new book, horrible self-published books, the St. Louis Cardinals (me and L), Star Trek (J and L), the new movie coming this weekend, etc.

Talking about the movie reminded me of another coming out this December. I've been looking forward to seeing J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit brought to the screen ever since The Lord of the Rings came out a decade ago. (Yes, it really has been that long.) The Hobbit, for those who don't know, is the prequel to LOTR. It was first published in 1937, seventeen years before the epic fantasy. It is much more a children's book than LOTR, but has certain similar themes. Loyalty, friendship, and adventure are common in both works.

I never received a set of these works for Christmas growing up. My sister did. I can honestly say I had never heard of them before then. A couple of months into the new year, I had either exhausted all the books given as gifts, or was bored. I don't remember. I also don't remember if I asked first or just walked into her room and saw them sitting on her desk. What I do remember is borrowing the prequel book. After all, I assumed, if I was going to read about hobbits (whatever they were) and a ring, I'd better begin at the beginning. So I did.

I was not impressed. In fact, a few pages into it, I was thinking "I don't think this is for me." After sifting through some of the later pages without understanding any of it, I thought at some point it would get better. So I flipped back to the page where I had started skipping and continued on.
And what a surprise it was.

Bilbo the hobbit lives a very quiet, peaceful life in his hobbit hole. He's mainly concerned with eating and smoking and avoiding his very unpleasant relatives the Sackville-Bagginses. One morning Gandalf the wizard drops by and asks Bilbo if he would like to go on an adventure. After frightening the hobbit with his tales of far away lands, Gandalf leaves. Bilbo promptly forgets all about it, until the next day. Fourteen dwarves come to his hole for tea unannounced. They eat almost all his food, and talk so much about their plans to get their gold back, that Bilbo is thoroughly annoyed and can't wait until they all leave after dinner. Then the dwarves start to sing.

Reading a poem that is meant to be a song is a tricky thing. Everyone has their own version of what the song sounds like. I've always thought it must feel similar to be deaf and wonder why everyone has a reaction to something you can't hear. This is the first stanza of the dwarves' song, from The Hobbit:

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.

As a child, reading these words for the first time in the quiet of her bedroom, it had a profound impact on me. To such an extent I can hardly say, but this: that to this day, just reading them takes me somewhere else. To a different world. Like music. Tolkien described Bilbo's reaction this way:

"As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of the dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick." (p. 15)

It is a wondrous thing, really, a miracle that words have the power to do such things. The only thing in my opinion that could have a greater impact would be to set those words to music. And that, through the medium of film, is what has been done with The Hobbit. The stanza of the dwarves' song sung in the movie trailer goes like this:

The pines were roaring on the height,
The winds were moaning in the night.
The fire was red, it flaming spread;
The trees like torches blazed with light.

It is fitting that in the trailer Bilbo asks Gandalf, "Can you promise that I will come back?". It is a question that Tolkien fans (and really anyone who has ever read a really good book) will ask. The answer to Bilbo, and us, is the same. "No...and if you do, you will not be the same."

Music and the power of words took me away a long time ago. I have come back, but I will never be the same.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Music Monday

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, this Saturday. I LOVE these guys. I will never get over being impressed with this song. I cannot figure out how they breathe. Who wants to be Irish??

Monday, March 5, 2012

Music Monday


Monday, February 20, 2012

Music Monday

For the first 40 seconds of this song alone, she is a legend. Chills. For all the auto-tuned c***p out there now, this is what a real voice sounds like.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Well, that was an interesting way to end the evening.

After choir, people were chatting up in the loft. Suddenly, the lights went out. No one panicked. Some of us yelled downstairs for those near the light switches to "turn on the lights, again". Nothing. We called down again. They called back, "No one's standing near the light switches!" It was at this point that we dark it was.

"The lights are out at school!" (next door) The power was out.

Then we had to find cell phones and flashlights (but mostly phones) so that we could see the narrow stairs as we left. It's the kind of darkness where I couldn't see my friend K, only two feet away. If I waved my hand in front of my face, I couldn't see it either. A fellow chorister who has difficulty walking inched her way down the stair by the cell phone light. We all made it without anybody falling. Our pastor's wife ran home next door and grabbed a flashlight so by the time we made it down the front steps (dark there, too - the outside lights weren't working either) we had that light too. The only other light was the traffic on the highway, and the light of the stars.

The building where I attend church sits out in the country, along a major highway. The night sky usually cannot be much appreciated. It was not so tonight. The stars shone brighter, and nearer.

"Praise the One who breaks the darkness, with a liberating light;
Praise the One who frees the pris'ners, turning blindness into sight.
Praise the One who preached the Gospel, hearing ev'ry dread disease,
Calming storms, and feeding thousands with the very Bread of peace."

"Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness", LSB #849, verse 1.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Music Monday

In honor of St. Valentine's Day, tomorrow.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why Are They Afraid?

By now, I'm sure all of you have heard the news that, barring a reversal of policy, many religious organizations have until August 2013 to decide whether to comply with the new federal mandate. The mandate requires health insurance plans provided by these organizations to carry various forms of contraception. Contraception and all that it entails has long been a controversial topic in this country. The Catholic Church, among many organizations, is literally religiously opposed to contraception.

This news came right on the heels of another public furor - that one non-profit organization (Susan G. Komen for the Cure) had decided to pull their funding from another non-profit (Planned Parenthood). Apparently, SK's decision was akin to the NFL deciding to cancel the Super Bowl forevermore. The reaction was instant. Media figures, celebrities and United States Senators fell over themselves to condemn the terrible, horrible, no-good-very-bad people who, by this singular act, proved they "hated" women. The leadership of Susan Komen, after a few days of being accused of making a decision based on "political" purposes, reversed themselves. They were thus deemed to love women again, I assume.

Reminder: The vitriol was directed to an organization that, as its purpose, wishes to find a cure for BREAST cancer. A disease that overwhelmingly affects...women.

Something else that had crossed my reading radar over the past few weeks was this article. The Canadian academic Douglas Farrow makes a powerful point as to the ends of the same-sex marriage argument:

"Here we have what is perhaps the most pressing reason why same-sex marriage should be fought, and fought vigorously. It is a reason that neither the proponents nor the opponents of same-sex marriage have properly debated or thought through. In attacking “heterosexual monogamy,” same-sex marriage does away with the very institution—the only institution we have—that exists precisely in order to support the natural family and to affirm its independence from the state. In doing so, it effectively makes every citizen a ward of the state, by turning his or her most fundamental human connections into legal constructs at the state’s gift and disposal.
In Nation of Bastards I have tried to provide a larger account of this, and to show how it leaves the parent-child relation open to increasing intervention by the state. The current cover for that intervention is the notion of children’s rights—meaning, far too often, the right of the child to whatever it is that the state, acting on behalf of adults other than its parents, wants it to have: a good education in state ideology, for example, which these days includes “diversity training” in “alternative family structures.”"
 This is all heavy stuff, and if you're still reading this, I thank you. I've tried to stay away from politics, especially in the last couple of years. There were benefits - I'm almost positive my blood pressure improved.
But it seems that politics won't stay away from me. Or from you, for that matter.

And in regards to each of these topics - the question of religious freedom, what is the relationhip between two separate non-profits, and what is the endgame of those who argue in favor of same-sex marriage- they aren't going to leave us alone. They can't leave us alone. If simply choosing (no pun intended) to stop donating money to Planned Parenthood brings such animosity, it's no wonder Susan G. Komen changed their minds. If the consequence of not following the federal mandate means the Catholic church is forced to end their health insurance coverage, their employees will suffer. And if same-sex marriage becomes the law of the land (as I think it will), then the definition of marriage, husband, wife, and man and woman for that matter, will have no meaning at all. If a favored non-profit can bully another into continually providing funds (whether it needs them or not), it sends the message that once you give us your money, you'll always give us your money. If a government can dictate what a religious entity must provide, it can dictate anything. If it can declare that words have no meaning, they can dictate the meaning of words. Just ask Winston Smith.

Where does the road end?

Some of you may think I'm overreacting. I hope I am. Some of you may think I'm completely wrong. I hope I am. Some of you may think that what I've said is so far-fetched, there's no way it could ever happen in reality. I hope it never does, but if it does - this is where the great divide shows itself. On one side is fear. On the other side is not courage, but love.

What is Planned Parenthood afraid of, that they must wage a public relations war against Susan G. Komen, an entity dedicated to a wholly unpolitical cause?

What is the current Administration afraid of, that it insists that large groups of religious Americans must either conform to its rules, or abandon their long-held beliefs? Why is it doing this, when the goal of widespread contraception was reached decades ago?

What are the proponents of same-sex marriage afraid of, to the extent that definitions must be rewritten, that in certain countries "Mother" and "Father" no longer appear on a child's birth certificate, but "Spouse A" and "Spouse B"?

They are afraid of the truth - that once gifts are coerced, they are no longer gifts, but stolen goods; that there is a greater power than any secular authority; that our sexuality is not what we will it to be, but a gift to us from our Creator who made us to live in harmony with each other and within His creation.

More from Farrow:

"Though our society now applauds almost any kind of “loving” union, it admits no sacramentum but sexual self-expression. Though it professes the highest respect for women, it no longer requires or expects fides from either men or women. Though it preaches progress, it is uncommitted even to proles—that is, to its own secular future. It prattles about children’s rights, but denies them even the right to life. It is a society that no longer knows what love is, and that no longer believes that humans may hope for very much."

But haven't we been told, time and time again, not to be afraid? No matter what happens, this is our hope and our faith.

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us...For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"  1 John 4:18-19, 5:3-5

Pray for our society. For everyone who struggles with truth.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

Music Monday

Cannot. Stop. Listening. To. This. Song.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Evening Observation

While driving home this afternoon, I was switching between radio stations and happened to hear the tagline of a Christian radio station. It was "Lifting Up Jesus in Central (state where I was driving)". I would have facepalmed if I hadn't been driving. Instead, I laughed. Lifting up Jesus? Really? Like WE can do that? Uh, wasn't He lifted up on the cross?

Discuss the lack of Christ-centered theology in this country, if you're so inclined.

Or do as I did, and change the station to the heathen top-40, and bemoan the lack of taste in American pop music.

I'm off to read City of God and The Fire And The Staff. Again. (Thanks again for the latter, J!) And listen to some Bach.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Music Monday - Belated Cheesehead's Birthday Edition

Saturday was my brother-in-law's birthday. From this point on, I'll refer to him as my brother. For one, 'in-law' sounds clunky, for two, he and my sister met ten years ago this fall (!?) and for three, and most importantly, he is a part of my family. 'Nuff said. :)

It's a very cliched phrase to say about someone that "God's been watching over him throughout his life". It is true, however, despite the repetition. My brother knows this. He knows how seemingly insignificant moments in his life changed everything, even if at the time he didn't see it. (Deciding to go to Cambridge for a year, for one...) Nothing is an accident. He may see at certain times in his life how events and people fit together. For other times, perhaps especially the sad and difficult moments, he will not see how everything fit together. For now, he can enjoy the present and ponder how his life "lead him to this".

Happy Birthday, J! (aka Papa O)

Your sister, BR

Monday, January 16, 2012

Music Monday - Golden Gate Edition

I heard this song several years ago, long before CJ and I met.

I liked the video then, too. San Francisco was then still unknown to me. But the song and the video mean so much more now! I doubt CJ has ever listened to a Keith Urban song, but this one makes me think of him. :)

"...It's a leap of faith..." Indeed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Park Bench And A Ring

When the moment came, it wasn't like in the movies. And that is a good thing. Because life is real, while movies, well, are not.

I didn't cry, and he wasn't nervous. At least, if he was, he hid it extremely well.

I drove up as usual after work on a Friday evening, New Year's Eve-eve. Better known as my parents' wedding anniversary. I asked CJ that evening if there were any particular plans for the weekend. He said no, not really, just maybe we could go downtown on Saturday or Sunday. I was relieved. As much as I enjoy doing fun things (upscale restaurants, museums, shows, etc.), the fact is that I didn't want NYE weekend to become a Big Deal. I didn't expect it to be. Being in a long distance relationship, it's nice to just be together. We don't need to DO stuff all the time. The vast majority of our relationship has been spent just hanging out at his place or mine, watching movies, taking walks, eating at restaurants where if you wear anything fancier than jeans you're overdressed. That kind of thing.

It's not as if we haven't done anything fancy - we've been to a brewery (my hometown), ballparks (both), live theater (his area, three separate times), dinner cruise (his), exceptionally nice restaurant (his place - the last three were all done in one weekend. That was to celebrate a significant birthday of mine and our one-year anniversary. At the spectacular restaurant, which crowned the evening, he memorably leaned across the candlelit table and said, "I'm not proposing to you tonight." To which I replied, "I know. It's too obvious." (Not to mention the nearest people were sitting only a few feet away.)

On New Year's Eve, we got up late, skipped having breakfast, and went downtown. For this time of year, it was a pleasant day - that is, not either blinded with snow or frozen to the sidewalk (frozen was NYE 2010). We were both happy the weather cooperated. I was happy because it meant we could walk around with Starbucks for at least half an hour outside in the sunshine. He was happy because it meant he could propose in a romantic setting. Namely, a semi-graffitied park bench. (Yes, CJ, it was romantic! Well done! You should have insisted we sit on the totally-covered-in-graffiti bench right next to it. But no matter.:))

We sat down on the bench, surveying the skyscrapers and quicking drinking Starbucks. The wind was a bit chilly. I pulled my favorite hat out of my purse and put it on. It's shaped like a baseball cap, but there's no logo on it. Whether it's a coincidence or not, I bought it on NYE 2009 in Malibu. And yes, parents, this is the same hat that I thought I lost in Independence, MO a couple of years ago and insisted we drive back to the restaurant to find it. Was it a premonition? Hmmm....

CJ and I sat on the bench, talking. I have no recollection of this conversation. Then it was quiet for a while. Then CJ started talking again. I was a little surprised at this. For one, whatever we were talking about before previously had nothing to do with what he was saying then. For another, I usually start a conversation.
At one point he said to me, "Do you remember last month when I said I couldn't come down because I had a basketball tournament?"
"Well, I didn't go to any basketball games."
"Oh.....kay." (Um, where is he going with this?"
"I got on a plane and flew to Kansas City...
(Gears were clicking madly.)
"....picked up my rental car, and drove a couple of hours south."
(Everything clicked.) I smiled. "I wonder where you went!"
He smiled back. "I visited your parents."

At this point, I knew. I wanted to say something, many things, everything, but I let him talk. It was his time, and he said it brilliantly. And then at the appropriate moment, he slid off the bench, got on one knee, and pulled the ring out of his pocket.

And I said yes.

And then we talked some more, laughed, got up and started walking again. And called our parents. Who already knew everything. Naturally. :)

Even in retrospect, it feels perfect. Just him and me, a park bench, and a ring.