I'm only here tonight because of you. You are the only reason I am. You are all my reasons.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Frenchy's, crowded with beachgoers
The scene:  It is Sunday February 19th, two days after Patrick's 28th birthday.  He's been asking for weeks that the Sunday of his birthday weekend we just do a nice casual dinner out with just the two of us.  We did this for my birthday weekend, so I think nothing of it.  He opts for one of the beachy places on Clearwater Beach, a place called Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, with the suggestion that maybe after dinner we could just take it easy and walk along the beach for a bit.  Which all sounded great [and innocent] to me!

We head out from our condo a few minutes later than intended, and Patrick starts REALLY sweating it.  He asks me to call the restaurant to inquire about the wait time, and when he hears it's 40 minutes, he begins apologizing profusely about taking too long to get ready, and now we'll probably miss seeing sunset on the beach!  I reassure him that today is still HIS day, so it's no big deal to me - I'm just along for the ride.  Once he's calmed down about the sunset, he starts telling me that I should know in advance that he is NO good at surprises and keeping secrets, so he will never be able to give me the surprise creative proposal he knows I'm hoping for.  This would sound suspicious to most people, but we've had this same conversation about 5 times before over the course of our relationship.  I figured it was just his sunset-stress bubbling over into random venting.
So we get to Frenchy's and put in our name, finding that it is quite windy and slightly chilly on the beach. Some grey clouds start rolling in off the water, but they're not dark enough to be really ominous looking. Just cloudy.
We have a nice dinner, and talk candidly about a wide variety of topics - including my taste in engagement rings!  Patrick trickily asked me questions that led me to believe that he was thinking of making that purchase soon (how exciting!) but needed to sort out these final details about what I liked.

The beautiful sunset Patrick had hoped for at Pier 60
Since it was his birthday outing, Patrick kept up the charade by allowing me to pay for our beers and grouper sandwiches - which were DELICIOUS.  And honestly, looking back, the dinner was so US.  A couple of beers, delicious beachy food, relaxing, surrounded by happy sun-kissed people... it was just nice.
After dinner we decided to walk off our full bellies in spite of the chilly wind that had picked up.  (Who am I kidding - Patrick had clearly decided this ages in advance, and I was luckily very agreeable and eager to please that evening!)  We opted to take the sidewalk route down to Pier 60, planning on switching to the sand somewhere south of the Pier.

More like the weather we had at Pier 60 that night
 As we walked, we talked about the first time we'd met, and what we like to call our "unofficial first date".  Back in December 2003 my family and I came back to Florida for the first time since moving to Georgia for  the wedding of a close family friend (which my brother was the Best Man in).  After the wedding my mom practically had to force me to go on a simple "nonromantic date" with the boy Patrick she had been talking up since we were both in high school.  So he picked me up at the condo we were renting, and took me to play putt-putt.  After we had a great time mini-golfing, we'd driven up Gulf Boulevard and walked around Pier 60 and discussed life, and growing up, and a great deal of things we have since forgotten.  It was a fun night back then, but even more fun to think about in relation to our life together now.  After our literal walk down memory lane, Patrick jokingly asked me if I would marry him - as he has done dozens of times before.  And I responded the same way I always had:  "Maybe, but you have to ask me properly first!"

So we continue past Pier 60  (where unbeknownst to be, we pass pretty close by a sneaking Nikki and Jason, there to document the action about to unfold).  Patrick takes his phone out a few times to text Nikkie directions to our whereabouts, but assures me he is just giving her brotherly advice about Jason.  Naive little old me just nods knowingly and tells him what a good brother he's being.
Once we've left the hustle and bustle of the evening Pier crowd, Patrick and I walk out onto the sand, where the clouds have just begun to send down a gentle misting rain.  As we're walking - flip flops in one hand, each other's hand clasped in the other - Patrick finds an empty space on the beach near the water.  What with the mist and lack of sunset, the beach is almost deserted. When we reach the spot he's picked out, he pulls me to a stop and tosses both of our shoes into the sand.  He wraps both arms around me and pulls me close, and says something sweet in my ear.
Now this is where things get hazy, because as he's stopped me on the beach - I have sensed something unusual is going on.  My mind is in overdrive, all my senses are set to maximum.  Before my racing brain can even process what Patrick has just whispered to me, he looks me in the eye, and drops to one knee.  In my inability to process the situation in my now-swimming brain, I ever so sweetly gaze down at my boyfriend on bended knee, and delicately trill:


Needless to say, he was "being serious right now", and as he asked me to marry him he took my left hand and slid the most beautiful ring I have ever seen in my whole life onto my finger.  I'm told I gave an answer that resembled a yes - but all I can recall is some vigorous nodding and tearfully cupping Patrick's face in my hands and kissing him like an overjoyed fool.

Within a few short moments, Patrick told me to look off to my right - as I had been completely oblivious to anything else going on on that beach, and I then saw Nikki frantically sprinting like a madwoman across the sand toward us.  Thankfully in her haste she thought to pause one more time and capture a closer-up photo of us, fresh in our utterly raw joy.

Newly minted engaged couple!
We then proceeded to laugh and hug and cry and carry on with the electric excitement we felt and couldn't contain if we tried.  I felt quite literally that I could burst with joy at any moment.  It was a much more raucous walk back to the car, as we shared stories about the planning of the night, the hunt for the ring, the request for my parents' permission, and my absolute ignorance of any of it!
We then called my parents, my brothers, and our closest friends to share with them the best news of our lives.  
And then we went to Patrick's parents' house to toast with some celebratory drinks!

And cake.
Obviously there had to be cake.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Books to Read 2012

I know I haven't blogged in a million years.  Shame on me.

However, what with my head spinning in a million directions - many of them wedding-related - I needed someplace to bookmark this list for future reference.
So here is my list of books to read before the world ends  in 2012  in the relative immediate future.

0.  The Hunger Games
I'm actually about 50 pages shy of finishing this re-read (and not a moment too soon as the movie comes out in THREE DAYS(!!) which is why I made it #0.  Totally doesn't count, but lest I forget what I'm in the middle of... here it is.

1.  A Clash of Kings
The second book in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, coming of course after A Game of Thrones.  The first book was AMAZING, and left me with several cliffhangers I've been dying to know the outcomes of.  Not to mention that the show Game of Thrones follows the books to a tee - which is exceedingly rare these days and also exceedingly awesome.  The show was marvelously cast, the production value is out of this world, and the second season starts SO SOON.  Which means I need to knock this sucker out pronto.

2.  A Storm of Swords
The third book in the aforementioned Ice/Fire series.  I'd like to get on a roll with these, plus I already have this one on my bookshelf just begging me to read it already!

3.  One Day
After several books of hardcore sci-fi and action, I'm thinking this one will be a welcome change in my lineup.  Plus, I will be in the hardcore middle of wedding planning most likely - and a tragic love story that I can quite literally sob while reading ought to be the perfect emotional outlet I just know I'm going to need!

4.  From Dead to Worse
I've taken a lengthy break from Sookie Stackhouse and her crazy adventures, but as I delve back into TrueBlood (which strays HORRIBLY from the books - both in plot and in chronology, making it hard to not spoil future unread books!) I would like to get back in the swing of things.  The last book I read was # 7 - and some of the plot twists revealed in that book were unveiled in Season 3 of TrueBlood.  Say whaaaaat?!  Plus sexy vampire/werewolf time is always fun to read about!

5.  Dead And Gone
Book # 9 of Sookie Stackhouse.  Meh, we'll see how Book # 8 (above) goes.

6. & 7.  Dead In the Family, Dead Reckoning
See above.

8.  Cat's Cradle
I've heard just so much about Kurt Vonnegut that it's about time I strayed out of mainstream pop-literature and got into the good stuff.  And by good stuff I mean a nice short starter story about somewhat post-apocalyptic world (no zombies, just machines that freeze all the Earth's water, NBD).  I have high hopes!

9.  Dune
I know, I know, should I REALLY be getting involved in another Epic series of insanely long and involved books without having finished A Song of Ice and Fire?  Maybe not.  But I probably will. Hooray!!!

10.  Snow Crash
This was just on a list of recommended sci-fi books I recently read, but the list-compiler spoke so highly of how fun the narrative was (plus he mentioned a cyborg dog in the story) that I thought I'd throw it in there for funsies.  I think 10 books is a pretty lofty goal anyway at this point, so we'll see when/if this happens.