New York State of Mind

The rest of the story in a somewhat Wordless Wednesday (anyone remember the last time I did one of those? Me neither).

Because I missed it last time, here is the most awesome picture of the large pizza the fiance (!!!) and I finished off at Grimaldi’s.

pizza

Delicious.

And now? Our engagement weekend in pictures.

Stadium 13!

Stadium 13!

They never would have kept this up at Busch Stadium with that kind of rain.

They never would have kept this up at Busch Stadium with that kind of rain.

Brunch in the West Village!

Saturday brunch in the West Village!

highline

Highline in Chelsea.

fave

Cupcakes at Billy's!

Cupcakes at Billy’s!

Central Park, and obligatory stop by Strawberry Fields.

Central Park, and obligatory stop by Strawberry Fields.

Quidditch!

Quidditch!

Matilda on Broadway

Matilda on Broadway

Times Square

Times Square

Rockefeller Plaza

Rockefeller Plaza

South Tower Memorial Pool

South Tower Memorial Pool

And then possibly the best part. When we got home, he took me to the place where we had our first date, Ted Drewes. Waiting for us were friends and family ready to celebrate our brand new engagement.

This part was supposed to be a surprise as well, but my sister Melissa kind of spilled the beans before I was even off the plane. Granted, this is a good thing as if it had been a surprise, I would have burst into tears when I got there, and no one would have gotten a word out of me for an hour.

Emotion + exhaustion + excitement + THAT surprise = Ann’s meltdown.

We’re going to ignore that there were moments of meltdown, like when our friends from Springfield (3 hours away) walked up. Like hugging my best friend and nearly asking her to be my maid of honor right then and there (I did wait to ask….for a day). Like showing the video clip of the actual proposal to my mom and future mother in law.

Yeah. Tears.

Ted Drewes! Where we had our first date.

Ted Drewes! Where we had our first date.

Best. Weekend. Ever.

Hey Baby, I Think I Wanna Marry You

So this happened.

IMG_0084The story!

Friday morning, I was woken up at 450am (ick). I was really confused because Adam was waking me up, and I was kind of worried that I was sleeping through my alarm. Then I noticed that it was the four o’clock hour, not the five o’clock, and I was confused. Adam goes, “How much do you trust me?” which is not something to say to a not-quite-awake person. I, in my ever so eloquent state, mumbled, “Um, a lot?” So he told me to put my glasses on and handed me two half sheets of paper.

It took me a second to realize that it was a boarding pass. Then I registered that it said LaGuardia. Then I registered that my name was on it. AND THEN I registered that the date was for that day.

And then I flipped a little bit.

I asked about whether I needed to call into work. He told me it was taken care of. I reminded him of plans I’d had with April and Ali for the weekend. He told me they were fake plans, and that it was taken care of. He told me that I had one hour to pack and get ready (he did apologize profusely for me having to pack, but he wasn’t sure what I’d want, etc).

So I packed. Kind of. It took me a bit to figure out what I needed to take since all he would tell me is that I needed walking shoes, comfortable stuff for walking, and then something a little fancier for Saturday night. Do you know how difficult it is to pack multiple options into a tiny carry-on bag? Difficult. Mostly because of the shoes.

Anyway, as we drove off to the airport he played two songs for me. Sinatra’s New York and Jay-Z/Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind. I started teasing him about missing opportunities. Where was “Uptown Girl”? Where was “New York State of Mind”? Heh. As we were driving, I googled which baseball team was home because I know him, and obviously we were going to a game since I’d never been to either stadium.

After getting through security, he told me he had a surprise for me and handed me a little bag, out of which I pulled a fancy new camera. He said, “We are NOT taking just cell phone pictures while we’re in New York.” And then he handed me an envelope containing tickets to both a Yankees game (see?) and Matilda on Broadway.

People keep asking me if I had any idea this would be coming, but because he pulled out the tickets immediately, I really didn’t. I figured it was just a fun surprise since I’m trying to get to all the stadiums and have always wanted to go to NYC.

When we got there, we took our bags to the hotel and headed off to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

IMG_0058
He said he wanted to take me to a pizza place that came very highly recommended. As we were walking across the bridge, he was telling me how there were a ton of locks locked on the bridge, as people would write/engrave names/dates/etc on them and then leave them on the bridge. I thought this idea was awesome and was really bummed I didn’t know since I had an unused lock at home.
IMG_0067
Here’s where I have to interject that in hind sight, I was incredibly blind to just about everything once I figured out we were going to NYC, but during everything, I was just happy to be there.

We ate at this place called Grimaldi’s (omg, YUM), and after we finished off a large pizza (yep) we took a walk down to the Brooklyn Bridge Park. We were just kind of walking along, and I sat down to just look at Manhattan, as I was still marveling that I was there in the first place.

I caught movement out of the corner of my eye, and figuring he was getting up so we could keep walking I started to grab my stuff, but then froze as he was on one knee in front of me. My jaw just dropped as he slid the ring on my finger and asked me to marry him. I don’t even think I fully was able to choke out “of course I will” before I was crying and kissing him all at once. He told me later that he had been looking for a somewhat secluded area so it could be a private thing between the two of us, and for NYC he did ok. There were, though, six people who were walking behind us who started clapping and cheering for us, which I was surprisingly ok with.

We started walking back to the bridge to cross back over into Manhattan, and we hadn’t gotten more than 20 feet when he told me there was just one more thing and handed me a hunk of tissue paper, which contained the lock in the very first picture of this post. And then I cried again.

Shortly after, we stopped so I could call my family, and then we took a deep breath, knowing our phones were about to die, and put the picture on facebook and twitter.

And then our phones exploded.

We talked to his mom for a little bit as we walked back to the bridge, and then shoved the phones into bags and pockets to give us time to find a place to put the lock.

As we walked by one place, we realized that there weren’t too many locks and that we’d be able to get ours on pretty easily. It took us just a moment, but THEN we realized that the light post we were standing next to looked directly down at the bench where he proposed. So there we left it.

IMG_0089
And there we will go back to find it over the years. I will never see the Brooklyn Bridge, whether in pictures or TV/movies or in person without feeling very fluttery in my stomach, remembering the absolute apex of happiness in my life so far.

No Giving Up Now

I just have one thing to say.

I finished that fucking marathon.

Ok, so that’s not all I have to say about it, but dammit, it feels good to say it.

For one thing, let’s just all shake our heads at me (again) for running TWICE in the two months preceding this race. Dumb move, Ann. Very dumb move. Pretty sure if I’d have actually trained for it, I wouldn’t have walked the last eight miles.

BUT. It was walk those eight miles or keep running and injure myself and possibly not finish. So I walked.

I walked, and I finished, and I will never do this again.

Let’s talk about the race, shall we?

It all began at 2am EST when my alarm went off. Well, actually, I suppose it started when I went to bed at 7pm the night before, but I’ll stick to just Sunday. Two in the morning, which meant that most of the people I know here were STILL AWAKE. GCB was actually still three hours from the end of his shift. Crazy.

The pre-race stuff included a lot of “what were we thinking”s and “this is dumb”s and “we totally should have trained for this”s. It also included lots and lots of people who looked way more like runners than we did, THREE trips to the porta-potty before we even got in our corral (pre-race hydration, FTW), and this picture, wherein we still look happy:

Oh, did I mention it was 65 degrees at 4 in the morning? Because it was. God bless Orlando.

This race. 25,000+ runners, 530am EST start, fireworks, music, and more spectators than made sense given the hour.

Highlights and lowlights:

Mile 1: Had to stop and pee AGAIN before we hit the half mile mark. Not dying. Good times.

Mile 3: Looked out a bit and saw runners who we later realized were at mile 8. That’s right. They’d gone eight miles in the time we’d gone three. Buzzkill.

Mile 4-6: Came upon the castle. THE castle. All covered in lights and looking gorgeous, even though none of my pictures turned out. Ran through the castle at dawn. Still felt great.

Mile 7: Bad mile. Had a brief moment of “oh crap, I can’t breathe” followed by “oh crap, I can’t run.” The lung thing didn’t last. The leg thing did.

Mile 8: Ran around the WHOLE Disney race track. That was kind of cool. Cars characters and country music.

Mile 11: Ate a banana. Took Tylenol. Didn’t puke. I consider this a ridiculous success.

Mile 13: Laughed (because otherwise we would have cried) at our half marathon time, officially the worst I’ve ever run in 2:44.

Mile 15: This is where it got rough. My intervals of walking to running weren’t very awesome, and I could tell Steph was getting frustrated, so I sent her ahead. I also visited THE grossest porta-potty I’ve ever been in. Guys? I ran a Ragnar last year. The fact that THIS porta-potty was the grossest is really saying something.

Mile 17: Got into the Wide World of Sports Complex. Realized that continuing to run was going to probably result in a DNF.

Mile 18: Started walking for good.

Let me break real quickly to talk about this. I knew going into this race that I was physically and mentally so far beyond unprepared that it wasn’t even funny. I also knew that with only running twice to “prepare” for it that I would probably not be physically capable of running through all 26.2 miles. I know people who have put forth the effort to train for a marathon and have still not completed it due to injury. It might sound crazy, but I was finishing this race whether or not it meant army crawling my way across the finish line. So I chose to walk the last eight miles. I know, I KNOW, that if I had tried to continue running that I wouldn’t have crossed that finish line. It was an internal battle that threatened to burst out of my eyeballs, but at that point there wasn’t any giving up. I had started, I was going to finish no matter how long it took me.

Mile 20: Noted that after having gone nearly four straight miles with the sun at my back that I was probably going to be incredibly sunburnt, given that I hadn’t even thought about putting on sunscreen.

Mile 21: Heard “Sweet Caroline” four times in a row. This is too many times in a row. Took more Tylenol.

Mile 22: Chocolate! And?

As much pain as I was in at this point, I SKIPPED over to get a picture with these two. That maniacal grin stayed on my face for quite a while.

Mile 23: Walking NOTICEABLY became limping. Both hips were (and still are) very, very angry.

Mile 24: Got into the heart of Epcot. The park was open, so there were TONS of people on the side of the course cheering and being supportive, even for someone who was walking and (after looking at my race pictures) looking absolutely miserable. At 24.8 miles, passed the 40K sign. Kind of wanted to puke seeing that.

Mile 25: Hobbled. Tried not to cry. I was going to FINISH.

Mile 26.2: I ran across that finish line. The last tenth of a mile, I clenched my jaw, tried to ignore every square millimeter of the lower two-thirds of my body screaming in protest, and I ran. I must say, it took quite a bit of will-power to not burst into tears when they handed me my medal. I crossed that finish line at 6:12:58, and though that is literally HOURS after I’d planned on finishing when I signed up, I finished. That’s all I’m worried about.

Today I feel ok. I am exhausted, I am still limping, my muscles are still sore, my hips are still VERY angry, my lower back is still achy, but this afternoon when I laid down my hips didn’t hurt badly enough to make me cry like they did last night. This is progress. I know I’ll be sore for another couple of days, and that’s ok.

There’s a small part of me that wishes I would have finished faster, but that part is greatly overshadowed by just how much I’ve enjoyed what I’ve done these last few months INSTEAD of training.

And oh my goodness, I am OVER THE MOON excited to not have any single, solitary form of a training schedule. Anywhere. The half marathon in April that I was thinking of running, well, I might run it, but I’m not signing up for it just yet. If I decide I don’t want to? I’m ok with that. The Tough Mudder that was supposed to be in April is actually in September. As of two days ago, the only running/lifting/exercising in my immediate future is the kind that is going to make me HAPPY, the kind that makes me feel better and healthy, not the kind I feel obligated to do.

Guys? I finished a marathon. Then I celebrated with this.

Marathon. Check. Off to the next great adventure.

Ocean Front Property in Arizona

This past weekend I was able to go to Arizona for my sister’s wedding. Well, pseudo-wedding-vow-renewal-type-thing, but wedding is a lot easier to say.

Melissa got married nearly two years ago in a small courthouse ceremony in North Carolina, but a lot of her family wasn’t able to attend, so this weekend she held another ceremony in Arizona for those of us who missed out on the first one. I’m so very glad she did.

Not only was my sister able to have a wedding dress with her whole shebang, but I was also able to take GCB to meet the family (they LOVED him, by the way) AND was able to meet my oh-so-adorable nephew.

And we played. PLAYED. Volleyball, ultimate frizbee, kickball, hiking. I love that I have such an active family, and it was a blast to just run around and have fun with all of them.

It was quite the perfect weekend.

They’re so cute.

I love this picture. So very much.

My love
Not wedding related, but one of my favorite pictures of GCB and my youngest cousin.

Shake it like a Polaroid Picture

Today I have been going through old pictures. This all started due to a question my mom asked. Do you avoid getting your picture taken?

If you ask my mom, she will tell that without a doubt, since the very beginning, I have been an absolute camera ham. There was a time I tried to deny it, but there is no denying the truth. And the truth is evident through years and years of goofy faces and candid shots etc.

I love pictures. I love them. They tell a story and remind me of some of the best times I’ve ever had. Since Facebook came around, it’s been even easier to document those times.

This morning I followed my entire Facebook photo stream all the way back to 2005. You know, back when college kids with a valid college issued email address were the only ones allowed on Facebook (hey, businesses, get off my Facebook lawn). Let me just tell you about that progression. Holy crap.

I found myself laughing out loud at some of the memories, wincing at some of the friendships lost that I still miss and in some cases those I don’t, being reminded of past and lost loves and knowing each of them made me realize instantly what I had found in GCB, and finding themes throughout the years, throughout my life I suppose.

In all these pictures, I am SMILING (or in some cases making what could technically pass as a “sexy face”). In those moments I was happy. Even though many circumstances of my life are far from where they were at those points, happiness just radiates from each and every one of the nearly 2000 pictures that I’m tagged in. This doesn’t even include ones I’ve taken that I wasn’t in, ones that I’ve untagged in older years where I realized that some things didn’t need to be directly associated with me.

Over the last few years, I’ve taken this blog as a platform to share the specific pictures that still make me overwhelmingly happy. I love that I can go back and look through some of my favorites that are also associated with some commentary. This place tells the better story than Facebook. This place reminds me of all I’ve made it through. What’s an even more stark reminder of that is my former xanga blog, which I do have saved for me, though it is definitely deleted in the online world.

However, this blog is finite. It has a specific start date. It has posts which should probably be transferred back to a draft form. Many of you were not around for the times before I posted pictures, but those times are as much of who I am as the ones I post nowadays. They MADE me who I am.

Would you like to see some?

Going back through pictures of 2005, there is one, ONE picture that contains entirely people I still speak to. Those people? My sisters.

I see this picture and wince at just how skinny I was. I put on 30lbs shortly after this picture. Thirty NECESSARY pounds.

Everyone else in that year’s pictures are former RAs, former residents, group pictures of friends, pictures with old roommates, and filled with people I don’t talk to anymore.

2006 is when more people show up who are still around. That’s the year that April makes her first appearance, where pictures stop focusing on my life in the dorms and starts looking at the things I’m doing separate from Res. Life. This is the year that I partied my ever-loving ass off over the summer, the year that I got bored and chopped 8 inches off my blond hair and dyed it dark brown. This is the year I realized that my grades were good enough, that medical school wasn’t for me, and that the opportunities I had then would probably not show themselves ever again. This is the year I learned to LET. GO. and just live.

This was April’s last day in Springfield. I will not post the picture of the blubbering tear-filled goodbye from later that night.
My stepmom had us take these pictures for my dad for Father’s Day…..or his birthday. One of the two.
I spent most of my summer that year with these two ladies. Edit: I spent most of my summer that year buying alcohol for these two ladies.
And then there was no hair.

There are gaps in 2006. There was the trip I took to Hawaii that is documented in hard copies, though they are in the possession of the high school best friend who is no longer in my life. There is the presence of my dear friend Nic, who while she is in pictures, her online presence is an anonymous one, and I won’t be the one to encroach on that. There are the pictures that I have copies of from my very first apartment with roommates who I grew apart from and to this day still only communicate with one. There is a complete lack of the fact that 2006, though an incredible year, was one of the most emotionally difficult years of my entire life, as completely changing one’s career path will send one into an existential crisis.

And then there was 2007. For quite a while, I considered 2007 to be the very best year of my life. I got a big kid job, graduated college, bought a car, moved to St Louis. I, for all intents and purposes, grew up. But I played. Oh how I played.

My closest and dearest friend in the world.
Step 1….

2008. That year was a transition year. Those transitions are actually fairly well documented over in my archives. There were good times in 08, don’t get me wrong, but there were very, VERY low times. I was head over heels for someone who would clearly never reciprocate. Any friends I had in the city left. I lived by myself for the first time ever. But looking back through the pictures, there are some bright spots. It’s the year I met Ali and JD. It was the year of baseball and beer pong and the first edition of Sunday night dinners. It was the year of do-or-die, essentially, of perseverance, and of learning my own strength.

The next year contains another wave of people I no longer speak to, even though 2009 was not that long ago. But there are still the happy pictures that include a few from the best birthday I’ve ever had. So many happy times.

At National’s Park in DC.
After reconnecting with a very dear friend of mine, we took “prom” pictures at the Capitol. This was one of them. I don’t even know who this guy is, but I’m glad I have this picture.
25th birthday party. Best. Ever.

That birthday is pretty much where my former blog picks up on the pictures. It’s where afterwards you find and read about and SEE trips across the country to see baseball stadiums, friends moving in and out of my life, love, joy, heartbreak, depression. There are Mardi Gras celebrations and New Years and family time and birthdays. You can see my first half marathon and becoming comfortable enough in my own skin to SHOW it off to the world. There are tales of frustration and happiness and determination. There are 30 solid days of posts. There’s meeting and falling in love with the man of my dreams. And through all of it, there’s me.

This little place of the internet is me. It’s my heart and soul bared for all to read, and now for all to see.

Nobody’s Perfect, but You’re Perfect for Me

The other day I was lying in bed with GCB, and out of the blue he said to me, “How come you don’t blog anymore? You used to write about how awesome I was all the time!”

So this is for him.

Reasons my boyfriend is awesome.

1. He’s such a jock. The past few weeks his summer hockey league has been in the playoffs. Last week his game was at 10pm, and he was SO amped after the game (they won) that he couldn’t get to sleep until after 2am. He left yesterday for a vacation while his team was playing for the championship last night which made him nearly delay his flight out so he could play. I totally understand the competitive spirit he has, that desire to actually be out there and play, and I think it’s awesome. It means that he gets me when I’m irritated with my own performance in a race or with a run in general. It means that he’s willing to come out with me and be active (see: Tap’n’Run). It means that he encourages me when I’m struggling to find the motivation to get my ass out the door.

2. He’s also a monstrous nerd. Let’s be honest. I’m a super-nerd. I wear my nerd flag as a cape, rather than choosing to fly it sporadically. I recognize this. He is just as nerdy. This is all made evident by all sorts of things. References to Harry Potter in every day conversation, his level of excitement over a Lego Batman Playstation game, and the fact that his trip to Orlando was specifically in order to attend Star Wars Celebration VI. Apparently I am lucky that he still loves me even with the “large number of passable Slave Leia’s in metal bikinis.” According to Ali and Alison, his jock-dom does not cancel out just how nerdy this makes him, but it makes me feel like my jock-nerd-hybrid lifestyle is comparatively complemented. I like that.

3. He’s family oriented. His sister had a baby girl a couple weeks ago (another A. Marie in the world!!), and we were lucky enough to be able to go over to their house, cook them dinner, and just hang out with their family. He was entirely excited at this prospect. I absolutely melted watching him hold that tiny newborn, and the absolutely love-struck look he gave me as his niece grabbed ahold of his shirt dissolved me into goo. Not only is he willing to do anything for his family, but he’s been such a big hit with mine. My three year old cousin just absolutely adores him, and even asked to snuggle with GCB instead of my aunt when he was ready to take a nap. He sat down and talked with my grandfather for nearly an hour. He made sure to get out of work so he could see my mom while she was in town. And to top it all off, when I tossed out the idea of having two of my cousins come up to the city and play with us all day, he was all about it, suggesting different things that we could do with them. I get to take him out to Arizona in two months to meet even more of my extended family, and I could not be more excited about it.

4. The fact that he brought me a banana and nutella calzone the other day. It was so good I nearly passed out from deliciousness.

5. He and I see eye to eye on both politics and religion. I know that there are plenty of people who are able to overcome opinion differences in these two areas, but the fact that I don’t have to worry about it is entirely awesome.

6. He entertains me. The other day we were trying to figure out what to do for dinner. I suggested that we attempt to recreate a dish from Cheese-ology using just our imaginations. He didn’t hesitate to say yes, and then played me in a best-two-out-of-three game of rock/paper/scissors to figure out which dish to choose to duplicate.

7. He just is. He makes me feel desired and beautiful and smart and funny all at once. He’s hilarious and keeps me laughing on a regular basis. He’s an unwavering support system. He just FITS.

I love you, baby. Come home to me safely.