So, uh, I’m engaged.
It’s still really weird to say that. I mean, the engagement is still new—Chris proposed on March 30th, so it’s only been a couple weeks, so of course the word “engaged” is still weird.
Not to mention “fiancé.”
But once you get engaged, people ask you a) for the proposal story and b) when/where you’re getting married.
So, I’ll take this opportunity to do that now.
Chris and I headed to Bali for a long weekend the week of my birthday. We like trips and tend to travel when we have the opportunity/whim to do so, so planning a trip to Bali wasn’t necessarily a “sign.”
In fact, nothing about the weekend tipped me off. We ate, we went to the Monkey Forest, we rented a motorbike and road it around the island, seeing what we could see. Chris mentioned that he really wanted to go on a sunrise hike, and as he hadn’t asked or suggested anything else, I agreed to go, despite the fact that we had to wake up at 2:30am to be picked up, driven an hour away, and then begin a two hour hike at 4:00am in the dark with headlamps.
We get to the volcano—Mt. Batur—and meet our guide, who was approximately 15. About an hour into the hike, it becomes extremely clear that the hike is actually a climb. A very, very steep climb over lava-rocky terrain.
I was not amused. In fact, I told Chris about twenty minutes from the summit that I was so exhausted I was going to cry, as well as some other choice words that I will not write down.
By the time we get to the top, we’re tired and sweaty and oddly cold. So we eat our breakfast and wait for the sunrise, which was really, truly gorgeous. Then we start the climb down.
Unbeknownst to me, Chris hike-climbed up that freaking volcano with a diamond ring in his backpack, planning to propose on top of the volcano, at sunrise.
But because I was kind of being the worst, he decided that it wasn’t the right time.
So instead, Chris suggested we go to a swanky restaurant at a very fancy resort on our last day in Bali. I figured he just wanted to go somewhere nice and when we pulled up on our motorbike to the Samaya Hotel, we were both shocked at exactly how fancy it was—so fancy that they took us to the restaurant, which is really, actually named Swept Away (because it’s by a river), by way of golf cart instead of pointing us in the direction of the restaurant and letting us walk.
Anyway, we get to the restaurant and it’s just us. This wasn’t on purpose, just coincidence. We order, have a couple cocktails, eat, and then order dessert. Then, before the desserts come out, Chris says, “So, I got something for you.”
And then puts a miniature Tardis on the table in front of me. I open the Tardis, which contains the ring and then Chris gets down on one knee, at which point I yelled, “Oh my God, what are you doing?”
I sort of blacked out/went into shock, so I’m not 100% about what was actually said, but I think he said, “Will you be my companion?” (a Doctor Who thing—since, you know, Tardis) and then I stared at him and finally said yes (or maybe it was “Sure, okay” because I’m an unromantic jerk) and then said something along the lines of, “Except I want to be The Doctor.”
After I giggled like a maniac and the restaurant staff congratulated us and brought over our ice creams—which they did not comp, in case you were wondering—Chris told me about the volcano plan.
So yeah. That’s the proposal story!
Which now leads to part b of the question everyone asks: when/where are we getting married?
The when is probably late summer/early fall of 2016. There isn’t an exact date because there isn’t an exact venue yet. And there isn’t an exact venue because, well, we got engaged two weeks ago, and, uh, we live in Singapore and have to get married in the U.S. for it to be legal in the U.S.
“But, Bethany, booking a venue, even from abroad, can’t be that hard. You have the Internet.”
This is true. I do have the Internet. The problem is that we’re not sure where we want to get married, meaning the state, not the venue.
We’re considering both Arkansas, where I’m from, and New York, where we met. There are a lot of pros/cons for both places, which doesn’t make the whole figuring out the where any easier. But, we’ll be in the U.S. in about a month and are going to be looking at venues in both places.
Fingers crossed that seeing the venues will help us make a decision.
But that will be another story for another time.
I will be back in the U.S. for a few days on Thursday and, y’all. I. Am. So. Excited.
So I made a list of all the things I’m excited about.
(It’s in no particular order.)
1. Seeing family and friends
2. New York City & Northwest Arkansas
3. Coats & sweaters & scarves & hats & gloves & hot beverages
6. Super Bowl
7. Decent beer selection at basically everywhere
8. Trader Joe’s
10. Buying skin products and not worrying if they have bleach in them
13. Trader Joe’s chocolate lava cakes
14. People who know how to walk in crowds and/or crowded areas
15. Stocking up on Burt’s Bees chapstick. (It’s $8 a tube here.)
16. BEN AND JERRY’S (It’s $20 a pint here.)
17. IP addresses that Netflix and streaming services don’t reject
18. Getting a haircut so that my hair no longer looks like straw.
19. Affordable boozy brunch
20. Good Mexican food
SEE YOU THURSDAY, AMERICA!
I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions.
I always felt it a little strange to set some sort of overarching goal or intention for an entire year. I have no idea what’s going to happen. As long as I’m growing and trying to be the best person I can be, shouldn’t that be enough?
And though I still don’t really buy into the whole New Year, New You business, I sort of let 2014 happen to me.
I want to tell 2015 what I want. I want to make it my year.
So I’m going to voice some of the things I’d like to achieve this year. Most of them are small lifestyle changes, and one is a thing that I have very little control over, but can at least try really hard to make happen. So, here’s hoping that telling the Internet about them will somehow make them more real and/or come true.
Because we all know that the Internet is basically a fairy godmother. And, you know, there’s a slim chance Taylor Swift will see this and end up sending me a present or inviting me to her house or something.
1. Land a literary agent.
2. Do more yoga more regularly.
3. Drink more water.
4. Answer emails from friends and family faster.
5. Focus on joy and positivity.
6. Tone the arms and thighs.
7. Cook more.
8. Read a larger variety of books.
9. Finish writing the manuscript that makes me nervous.
10. Begin writing the book that terrifies me.
I already know 2015 is going to have some great things in store: Boyfriend and I are moving into our first very fancy, very adult apartment in just a few days, I have plans for more books this year, and will be in the States seeing family and skiing and eating all of the chimichangas and pizza that I can fit in my mouth in just a few weeks!
So, here’s to 2015—the year that I want to shape and mold and make mine.
It’s no secret that I love reading.
And I read a lot.
Even though I didn’t quite meet my (very lofty) Goodreads reading challenge this year—publishing two books and moving to another country will do that to you—I made my way through quite a few books, several of which made me feel lots of feelings. Sometimes in large quantities and in public.
Thus, my book superlatives.
Books That I Hugged Whilst Reading. I can’t say enough good things about Landline. Or about Rainbow Rowell, who is lovely. All of her books are wonderful and Landline—which is not YA, just to be clear—is such a good time. It made me laugh out loud many, many times and made me cry a bit here and there, but mostly, it made me happy. There were many times that I had to stop reading because I was so delighted by a sentence or a piece of dialogue that I would actually stop and hug the book. And then would hurriedly keep reading until the next book hug. Islaaaaaa! And Josh! The final book in a trilogy of companion novels (Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door being the other two in the series), Isla was a joy to read. This book made me hug it a whole bunch, mostly out of happiness, but sometimes because I wanted to give Isla a hug. (I realize she isn’t real. But. You know what I mean.) And toward the end, the book ricochets into a huge love fest that had me actually shrieking with glee. My dog wasn’t amused. But I was!
Book That Made Me Weep Uncontrollably on an Airplane. Champion is the final book of Marie Lu’s incredible Legend trilogy. I did not expect it to give me cryface but it so did. For the first three hours of a fourteen hour flight, no less. But the cryface was the best possible kind—and I’m probably a little weird in that this book made me cry so much. But, it just really got me in the feelings, you know? There were a few sections I felt particularly in tune with, emotionally, and Lu so hit them exactly the way I feel them that I wanted to yell YES, THIS IS EXACTLY IT whilst crying at the same time.
Book That Made Me Laugh the Most. This book, y’all. It is so good. And so funny. And so smart. Just so many things. The main character is a genius and precocious teenager who is attempting to understand love, both because she disapproves of her sister’s love life and because she’s trying to reconcile her own. Which sounds kind of deep, but I promise that Love and Other Foreign Words is a hilarious good time.
Book That Left Me Speechless. When I finished reading this book, I very calmly set it down on the nightstand. And then stared straight ahead. Boyfriend was all, “You okay?” and I was all, “I don’t know.” We Were Liars is gorgeously written and masterfully executed. But other than that, I still don’t really know what to say about it.
Book that Gave Me the Worst Book Hangover. I’ve been on a bit of a historical fiction kick lately, and had heard great things about Brazen. It follows the (yes, fictionalized) story of Mary FitzRoy, a fourteen year old girl who is married to Henry VIII’s bastard son, and serves in Anne Boleyn’s court. Since we know what ultimately happens to Anne Boleyn, it’s no shock that Brazen is full of suspicion and rumors and jealousy and confusion and tragedy. But what shocked me when I finished it was how much Mary FitzRoy’s story stuck with me. I think about her often. Because she was a real person who really existed and really went through the events that Brazen chronicles. I just can’t imagine. And she somehow remained sane and strong and stood her ground, and I am basically in awe of her, but also so heartbroken for her and what she had to live through.
Book That I Was Surprised I Related To So Strongly. So, I picked Sweet Filthy Boy up because I was looking for a guilty pleasure to lose myself in for a bit. What ended up happening was that I deeply identified with the main character, Mia, who moves to another country for a lawyer. Which is my life right now. It was like the ladies who make up the writing duo of Christina Lauren were inside my head and could hear my internal monologue about what moving to a new country feels like, how you think about it and yourself, and all of the insane emotions that swirl around inside you when you’re hit with the reality that you’re living somewhere you don’t know at all.
Book That I Recommended Most. This is largely selfish because it’s set in Singapore and I moved to Singapore this year. However, the book is really good! It is fiction, but it provides a good sense of how Singapore operates—for ill and for good.
Book I Wished I’d Written In addition to all of the books mentioned above, I really wish I had written Open Road Summer. It’s about the best friend of a teen country music star. I mean. C’mon. But more than that, it’s beautifully written with laugh out loud moments and punches to the gut and a decent amount of swooning. ALL OF THE THINGS.
I hope that everyone is squeezing as much joy as they can out of the last days of 2014! Have a merry and bright holiday season full of Charlie Brown dancing and boozy hot chocolate!
It’s been a while. How are you?
I’m so glad to hear that! I’m doing pretty well. The move to Singapore has been a little crazy. I’m writing a lot—I have two books on sale now and am working on the third!—and looking for a job. I’ve also traveled some, tagging along with Boyfriend on his work trip to London and then we spent a few days in Portugal.
It hasn’t been a bad gig, I will admit.
What’s that? Oh, no, I actually haven’t done any Christmas shopping because, well, lots of reasons. Have you done any?
Oh, you’re still shopping? How’s that going?
Yeah, I figured. There’s always those people who are kind of hard to shop for. Luckily, I fall into that category myself—or so I’ve been told—and I have some suggestions for you!
*Public Radio Tote
Everybody loves a tote bag! Especially your friend who is into public radio/podcasts. You should get this for them. If it seems like a paltry gift, put some other items in it. No wrapping required!
*Mod Hero Prints
Everyone has a friend who loves superheroes and/or pop culture. Because superheroes and/or pop culture are awesome. And Rogan Josh has a shop at Society 6 full of gorgeous, fun, superhero prints. You can even get them on a throw pillow or iPhone case or tote bag! There are tons of options available, and these prints are really great.
I am a sucker for mugs. You can make cakes in them! You can eat cereal out of them! And, obviously, you use them to drink delicious beverages. The mug pictured above comes from Sweaty Wisdom on Etsy, whose store is generally great. I love also pretty much all the mugs from one of my favorite bookstores, The Strand, (particularly the Don’t F*ck ‘Em mug) as well as this one from Kate Spade, and this one from C Wonder. Mugs forever!
*POP Vinyl by Funko
These cute little figures are a great way to personalize a space be it a bedroom, office, or the dash of your car. There are tons of them, running the pop culture gamut from Game of Thrones to Arrested Development to Disney characters. There is literally one for everyone, no matter what they’re into.
*Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix
Don’t have a ton of cash this year but want to do something for your friends/coworkers/extended family? Get thee to the kitchen and make a gift! You can do cookies or brownies or peppermint bark if you’d like, as those are always crowd pleasers. Last year I made hot chocolate mix and spent approximately $30 on the ingredients and the Mason jars. If you want to dress these up, it’d be easy to add some, ahem, cheer with the airplane sized bottles of Kahlua, Baileys, or Fireball. Easy, cheap, and delicious!
*The Gift of Fire
Well, the smell of it. I love the smell of a campfire and this candle from Henri Bendel is perfect for those cold winter nights when camping is just not in the cards.
*Rechargeable Battery Packs
Rechargeable battery packs for portable devices are pretty much the most useful gifts in the world. You can get them at a variety of places, including big box stores (Walmart, Target, Best Buy etc.), as well as online. Battery life for all!
Books are the best. Buy them for people.
I recommend these ones.
And, if you’re able, swing by your local independent bookstore and show them some love by buying some books.
This book is hilarious and heartfelt and wonderful, and sort of reminded me in its tone and humor of Gilmore Girls.* Probably more for lady readers than most gentleman readers I know, but I wholeheartedly support giving this book to a dude.
*Please note: This story is nothing like the story of Gilmore Girls. Just the tone and the humor.
This sucker mixes elements of science fiction and dystopian and fantasy and a smidge of YA, and it is great. It begins with a couple emotional punches to the gut and is fast-paced, action-packed, and un-put-down-able. (I made that word up. I’m good with it.) Bonus: the second book in this trilogy comes out January 6th.
It occurs to me now that I could probably just write an entire gift guide of books. But I will reign myself in and refrain from doing that here.
ANOTHER TIME PERHAPS.
However, it would be remiss of me to not take this opportunity to plug my own books. I know, you’re groaning and rolling your eyes, but an indie author gotsta do what an indie author gotsta do. Don’t hate the player hate the game. Every day I’m hustlin’. Etc.
So, here goes. My books, Taking Flight and Making Headlines make the best gifts everrrrr! They’re $2.99 each, which is really a deal—two books for less than $5.00. And you get to support an independent author who is currently searching for a full-time job.
It’s Christmas, after all.
INT. DAY—SHE is walking through a grocery store with GRANDMOTHER, a woman who is young to be a grandmother and has a discernible Southern accent.
So, what movie do you want to see on Friday?
Gosh, I don’t even know what’s out anymore.
Begin Again is out. I really loved that and would be happy to see it again. I think Lucy is coming out this week.
Is that the movie with the girl whose brain works at 100%? Where she can destroy people? Uh, yeah. I want to see that.
Done and done.
FADE TO BLACK.
Today is the day I drive away from New York City.
I moved here in July 2010 and am leaving a little over four years later.
It’s weird that I’ve lived here for four years. It’s weird that I’m leaving.
The city is amazing and soul-crunching and cold and hot and vibrant and black and white and such a paradox in so many ways, and it’s the place I’ve needed to be.
But now that it’s time to go on to something else, while I’m sad about leaving, it doesn’t feel like good-bye.
Not at all.
So, so long New York.
I’ll see you soon.