Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Developments

It's been a while since the blog got a good update. It's also been a while since I thought of a new way to open each post. I'll leave that challenge for later, but for now, I'm super busy with a whole bunch of major life changes.

First and foremost, I'm almost finished my current project. These last two months I've been commuting out to Rochester for more work in the health insurance industry. Together with my previous project, that means I've been in the industry since November. I'm not sure what my future holds, but it may be time for a change?

Of course, I might not survive the end of my project if my significant other reads this. Because in reality, the project news is completely irrelevant and insignificant to the news that we got engaged last week.

Talk about burying the lead.

After almost two years together, I got engaged to my now fiancee, and in keeping with the tradition of our relationship, she was very surprised.

Getting engaged means a whole bunch of big things coming, including talk of apartments, office transfers, and wedding planning. Fortunately, I think I'll only tangentially be involved in all of that. I just need to show up where I'm told, which is fine by me.

But I'm getting ahead of myself, because I still haven't gone through the engagement etc.

Let's start with actually buying the ring, which had to pre-date all this engagement stuff.

I had had several discussions with my girlfriend about rings. It's a major purchase that, in my view, could either be made with absolutely no guidance, or absolutely lots and lots of guidance from the eventual recipient.

To me, it was a no-brainer...ask her what she likes.

Of course, it doesn't help at all when she has no idea what she likes. None whatsoever.

Apparently, all those times when her friends showed off her rings, my girlfriend managed to recall nary a detail about what worked and what didn't.

What shaped diamond do you like?

I don't know, maybe round, maybe square, maybe something else?

Hmm...ok, well what about the band?

Kind of thin maybe? Maybe with more diamonds on it???

That's something I guess. What about size?


That was the only thing she was sure about, that it should be big. That also led to about a million inappropriate 'that's what she said' jokes over the past few months.

So with almost no opinions from the girlfriend, we thought it would make sense to go through a store or two and take a look. Maybe she would be inspired.

Of course, there's a Tiffany's a couple blocks from her place, and at one point, we decided to go in and take a look.

Here's my first bit of advice for anyone planning on engagement ring shopping with your girlfriend. Do not, under any circumstances, go into a Tiffany's. Don't even think about it, even as a lark. Even if she says she knows it's ridiculous and no one should ever buy something there, she is 100% lying to you. She will see a giant ring there, and she will want it and secretly hope for it even if it costs a billion jillion dollars. It will take months of lowering expectations to undo the damage, although the ultimate psychological impact has yet to be fully researched. So yeah, don't go there.

After that and other, similar experiences, I had a good idea of what she was in the market for, and a good idea of what I could reasonably expect to spend.

Then I actually had to purchase the ring itself, which was fairly anti-climactic.

I met (secretly) with a jeweler in Philadelphia, with my parents in tow (of course, who am I kidding, my mom knows this stuff, so she did most of the talking). The jeweler took out a small envelope with a series of diamonds in it.

Each one was placed on the counter in the small upstairs office tucked away from all the huge diamond signs advertising other jewelers on the block. We went through each one, its report from the authority thing over diamonds (GIA? something like that...something that creates official looking reports anyway), and analyzed each with a magnifying glass.

Honestly, it's pretty amazing the imperfections that you can't see with the naked eye but are as clear as day under the scope. It's also pretty amazing that when you're looking at a diamond with some smudges deep inside you are able to say, 'Yes, that imperfect jewel is good enough for the girl I want to marry because I don't think she'll notice!'

For the record, I did not say this. And further, there are no smudges in her diamond. And lastly, if you try to take a magnifying glass to her ring, I will cut you down like a furious ninja.

So I had the ring (thanks mostly to Uncle Sam for his extremely generous tax refund), and needed to actually propose.

I had my idea of how I wanted to do it, and much to everyone's dismay, it did not involve a skywriter or a jumbotron. My actual plan was pretty simple, proposing in front of the place where we had our first date. I also wanted to get her family involved, because she always talked about how she wanted to be able to share the news with them whenever it happened.

I was in Chicago, working out of our firm's office there, when I emailed the girlfriend and told her I made a reservation at an Italian place downtown. She initially resisted, arguing that we didn't need to go out, but I persisted and she quickly acquiesced.

Now, she thought I had made a reservation at this Italian place, one where we had eaten before, but in reality, I had made a reservation across the street, at our first-date spot.

In other words, the trap was set. (We'll see how many more times I can refer to the engagement/wedding as a 'trap' before my fiancee tosses a hair dryer into my shower)

Her family was already in the know, and were included on the reservation. I had spoken to her father earlier that week, and they were going to be there with their two sons to celebrate (assuming she said yes, obviously).

You could say we were all in cahoots, and since I enjoy that word, I will say it. We were in cahoots. Ca-hoots.

Sorry, back on message.

Both the girlfriend and I got home from work, and I did my best to exude casualness, as if nothing were out of the ordinary.

Even when my girlfriend mentioned that she looked like a mess, I didn't caution her to put herself together...didn't want to tip her off. She can look nice the next time she gets engaged.

But we walked together from her place towards the restaurant, and as we crossed in front of the place where we met, I stopped her.

It took a good five seconds for me to actually get into my talking points (she'll love that I referred to them as talking points too). I think I got as far as the first 'love,' when she realized something fishy was going on.

I'm not sure she heard anything I said for the next two minutes, because all she could do was appear shocked and question whether it was real.

She also did not cry, so whoever had 'No tears during proposal' at 20-1 got paid off huge.

Of course, the problem with her whole 'shock and awe' routine, was that...

a) she didn't even look at the ring for like the first minute I held it up for her. I spent so much time and effort finding the one I wanted, I really wanted to get a reaction and what does she do? Look everywhere except the blue ring box.

b) she didn't seem to understand that she had to give me a response. Now maybe she just assumed the response was implied in her reaction, but she left me hanging for a good long while. There weren't a lot of people walking in front of the restaurant (and they hadn't opened outdoor seating yet, thank god), but at least one guy in a car stopped at a red light got impatient. "Just say yes!" he yelled out to her.

Eventually, she did...although it wasn't really audible to humans. I heard a high pitched 'Y', and then it went into a different octave that I'm sure only dogs, predatory birds, and a specific set of crustaceans can understand.

The crab people were excited for us I'm sure.

We continued the celebration with her family, who were waiting inside, as well as with several friends who heard the news and descended on the restaurant like the freaking Minutemen. If we ever get invaded by England again, I want all those girls on the first-call list, because they swarm like crazy.

So yeah, that's an abridged version of the story. We're hard at work making lists, brainstorming, and identifying venues that will suit our needs (it's hard to find a big ballroom that can support both a great cocktail hour and a full castle-style moonbounce)

But I'm sure there's more to come on that front. And regardless of the stress this whole planning mess will probably cause, we're both very happy and excited, and we're sure it's going to be great.