A Hobag Looks at 30*

 * bonus points to any weirdos who get this reference!

Two weeks ago another grain of sand dropped through the hour glass of the days of my life and I hurtled into a new decade:

I welcome my 30’s at the stroke of midnight on September 14, 2014 from the creaky bed of an old motel in rural New Hampshire, where I was celebrating a friend’s wedding. My brand new husband was in bed beside me. At midnight he gave me a beautiful jewelry box and some pirate themed temporary tattoos. I took a selfie (fully clothed, despite how scando this looks) and we promptly fell asleep.

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I was a little drunk. And a lot happy. It was perfect.

I’m now two weeks into the other side still just as happy, though thankfully slightly less drunk. For the present moment, anyway. I may be old but I still know how to get down. In fact, from all I’ve heard, the 30’s are quite the cause celebre.  Allegedly, women in their 30’s are generally more financially secure, gain more respect in their careers, have more self confidence and have better sex. And I’ve learned that the older you get, the easier it is to avoid fads and fashions, a lesson that helped me skate through all of Summer 2K14 without even being tempted to wear a crop top. Victory! So if this means I’m looking at a decade of self-confidence, great sex and fully covered midriffs, well I am ALL IN. 

If you’ll recall, in prep for the big 3-0 I made a big ‘ol to-do list, as I am wont to do, with 30 goals or items to achieve between September 14, 2013 and September 14, 2014. How’d I do? Let’s check the list!

1. Run half marathon HAYLLL YES! COMPLETED 4/26/14

2. Pay off one credit card…put a dent in the other. YES! COMPLETED 10/4/13

3. Get a bikini wax NOPE.

4. Take photoshop or other online design course NOPE.

5. Submit something for publication. YAAAAASSSS. COMPLETED 5/30/14

6. Visit each of the 5 boroughs of NYC (I’m coming for you, Staten Island!) NOPE.

7. Do a pull-up (yes, just one. Aim high.) NOPE.

8. Find a regular volunteer program NOPE.

9. See a play on Broadway NOPE.

10. Watch The Sopranos 1.5 SEASONS. (Unpopular Opinion Alert: That show is a snooze.) 

11. Learn to shuffle cards NOPE.

12. Stop biting my nails UGH NOPE.

13. Take a trip with my mom NOPE.

14. Read outside of my comfort zone (i.e. biography, poetry, graphic novel) NOPE. WHOOPS. 

15. Visit Storm King OBVZZZZ. COMPLETED 10/6/13

16. Get Acupuncture NOPE.

17. Roast a chicken NOPE.

18. Grow a vegetable to a point where it is edible i.e. don’t kill it NOPE.

19. Zumba NOPE.

20. Host a classy, adult dinner party NOPE.

21. Add at least one more state to my list YES! Unblerghed but B&I took a trip to Maine 9/12/14. Trust me, it happened. 

22. Solve my stomach issues GROSS BUT NOPE.

23. Trapeze class NOPE. (What even was this one?!) 

24. Reconnect with an old friend (I already have one picked out! Lucky person!) HALFSIES? I’ve been emailing with my very first childhood friend Becky but we’ve yet to reconnect in person. I’m giving myself a .5 for this one. 

25. Decorate our apartment NOPE.

26. See the cherry blossoms in DC NOPE.

27. Take out my navel ring (GREAT ONE, Liz!) NOPE.

28. Make an IRL blogger connection COMPLETED sometime in December, blogged about 3/17/14

29. Hike 5 new peaks NOPE.

30. Skinnydip. ANDDDD NOPE.

 Officially, without loopholes or fudging the rules, I completed 6.5 out of 30. That’s slightly over 20 %, if my math is correct…which it usually isn’t…but I used a calculator so I’m feeling pretty confident. By the standards of the Common Core and most other methods of grading and judgement, 6.5 out of 30 is an epic failure.

But eff that noise. I’m chalking 29 up as a roaring success.

29 was the year I got engaged and married. The year I ran a (fast!) half marathon. The year I ate a lot of hard boiled eggs, attempted to wear red lipstick and went to a nude beach. The year I first shacked up with my boyfriend (then fiance, then husband!) and moved to Park Slope. 29 was the year I got paid to write an article – for Vogue (…ok, dot com, but whatever)! 29 was the year I saw friends get married, change jobs, move cities and get unscandalously knocked up. At 29 I drank too much wine and spent too much money on organic food and always kept my fingernails painted bright colors and totally pulled off ankle booties and almost always wore the same chambray button-down and learned – and then forgot – the difference between brie and Camembert cheeses and got 2nd place in Fantasy Football and finally found a pair of sunglasses that fit my lanky face and tried Pilates and instagrammed my food and spent time with my best girlfriends, laughing til our stomachs hurt.

29 was great. It was SPECTACULAR! I may have technically failed at most things I set out to attempt, but I’m still giving myself an A+.

So what is on my list for the next year? I have but One Before Thirty-One: Stop Making Lists.

If I’ve learned one thing about myself in the last 29 years, it is that I need to be a little kinder to myself. No more creating arbitrary to-do lists and then beating myself up when I don’t check off every box. No more panicking over things left unfinished, milestones yet reached. No more worrying about where I should be, more focusing on where I am.

No mas!

At 29, I did only 6.5 items on my list…but then 6.5 bajillion more, without even trying. Imagine what great things I can do at 30 without all that time wasted worrying over things not done?

There are things I’d like to achieve, sure. I won’t just be sitting about waiting for the world to present me with adventures. I’d still like to hike more, to move up in my job, to quit biting my nails, to run more races. I’d also like to keep writing – perhaps not more but better. Which may mean a little less of the usual business here. Blogging is fun and exciting and I love the attention, sure, but at the end of the day it’s really just a hobby. And one that’s maybe not as fun as it used to be. I can’t tell you the number of Thursday nights into Friday morning’s I’ve sat stressing and scrambling for “funny” content for fear of letting someone, anyone (probably just myself) down. As much as the world loves and SURELY NEEDS yet another weekly roundup of me covered in random food stains, I’d like to think I can do a little better than that. I’m not abandoning the awkwardness of it all, but just going to see what I might be able to do if I spent just half of the time I put into photographing avocado blobs into writing or reading smart content.

I hope you’ll still come along with me.

But, BUT! If none of these things happen, if I don’t write a word or hike a peak, if I never ever roast a chicken as long as I live- that’s OK. I can trust that my time will be spent elsewhere, doing other meaningful things I haven’t even though up yet.

I do think we can all agree, though, that though no one ever sees it, what with the no-crop-tops rule and all, it’s really, really, REALLY time to get rid of that belly button ring.

So here’s to being 30. And chill (ish). And THRIVING. 

xoxo Liz Ho

 

 

 

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30 Before 30: Run a Half Marathon!

America, guess what?! I did it! First (and hopefully not last) half marathon is in the books and I can check one more thing off my 30 Before 30 List. Just 26 items & 5 months to go. Yiiiiikes.

Not the point! The point is I did it and it went way better than I imagined it would! The morning got off to a rocky start, with chilly, damp weather and a potentially dramatic incident involving a lost shipment of porta potties but by the time the starting gun went off at 8:30 AM it was bright, breezy and perfect weather for running. Which was a relief both athletically AND sartorially as it initially looked like I might have to do 13.1 sporting this HOT get-up.

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Thankfully that fashion faux-pas was averted and after some hemming and hawing about what sort of layering/sleeve situation I was going to go for, I made a game time decision to rock just a tank top (and bottoms, obviously) so I looked like a sexy sporty gal instead of an adult Morton Salt Girl slash homeless fisherwoman.

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Ok maybe “gangly and weirdly chipper sporty gal” would be a better descriptor but today is about CONFIDENCE not self-deprecation so let’s go with sexy. (In case you’re curious, this tank top was a gift from my BFF Maureen. In the card she said it would help me combat my STS aka “Sweaty Torso Syndrome” and she was right! What a great top. And an even better friend, one who also sent me tulips to celebrate finishing my race. She’s basically my guardian angel.)

ALSO in case you’re wondering if I yelled mid-run “Hey! Brian! Take my picture!!! While I’m running!” the answer is obviously. Do you even have to ask?

The race itself went totally superbly great. The course was perfectly flat and scenic, taking us under the Verrazano Bridge. The course sort of just looped around on itself so you ran the same path up and back, up and back, which could seem dull but worked for me – I was able to pass Brian 4 times, which helped keep me motivated and gave me something to look forward to and the flat, blank landscape of the course allowed me to completely zone out and just RUN.

At mile 4 I wanted to quit, by mile 7 I was ready to start training for a full marathon and by mile 12 I was just ready to get it over with.

So how’d I do? Awesome! My initial goal was to finish in 2 hours and I smashed that, crossing the finish line at 1:53:04. I placed 110th overall, out of 264 and 19th out of 67 finishers in my bracket of women aged 20-29. This was much better than I could have hoped for and I’m so proud of my accomplishment. I didn’t feel too bad after the race either, minus a horrific stomach ache (TMI as always, but any other runners out there deal with major gassy cramps during/post long runs?! I was dying!) and sore hips and hamstrings. We met some friends for celebratory beers & BBQ and then I passed out by 8:45 PM. It was delightful.

I’d DEFINITELY do another half marathon and would love to try to improve my time and work on pacing myself to run more smoothly and consistently. As for a full marathon? No. Not yet. Mostly I don’t want to put in that much time training and, despite the speed, pride, etc, I struggled through that 13th mile, I don’t think I’m ready to double that.

I’m mostly just surprised by how much I enjoyed this whole process. I don’t know why I decided I should run a half marathon, I just kind of got the idea in my head and decided it would be a good thing to do before I turned 30, and somewhere along the way I came to love running.  I’ve dabbled in jogging in the past, first just as a tool to stay svelte and then as something to do with Brian. He ran competitively in college and running is as much a part of his life as breathing or eating cheese or quoting Liz Lemon is to mine. When we started dating, I’d run with him because I wanted to share that with him and I wanted him to think I was a cool sporty person and sometimes I enjoyed it but other times I just got frustrated that I couldn’t keep up with him and worried I was holding him back and would get weird and dramatic – “just leave me here! This isn’t Saving Private Ryan! I know I’m slow and holding you back and I’m sorry. I never should have come with you today. I’m ruining everything!” – and that was just no fun for anybody.

When I started training for my race, I was in so-so shape. Essentially I could run the 3.4 mile loop in Prospect Park without stopping, occasionally adding on an extra mile here or there, if I was feeling particularly fit. I trained for three months, doing short runs throughout the week and one long run on weekends, adding on a mile per week. Every single week I had a one mile indicator of how much stronger I was getting. It felt awesome. I realized this morning that I could now run the 3.4 mile loop in Prospect Park 3.85 times without stopping. Boom.

Two of my cousins got into running right around the same time I did and we’ve been chatting together about how empowering it is physically pushing yourself to new levels. I usually shy away from that sort of self help-Oprah Winfrey-feelgood nonsense but I can’t help myself. I’m an empowered lady. Hear me roar! Or something.

I also realized that, in addition to empowering me (how many times will she say empowering?!), running calms me.  As you all know, I have some issues with anxiety and a, shall we say, overactive brain. Somehow when I’m in a good running rhythm, my brain just stops racing. I was telling this to a friend recently and she asked me what I think about when I run and I had to tell her I don’t know! I daydream. I sing along to songs on my phone, imagine dancing to them at my wedding or let them pull me back into nostalgic reminiscences. I mentally draft essays I never get around to writing. I focus on my breath, my feet, one step after the other.

I was in kind of a low place earlier this year, emotionally, and I’m feeling worlds away from that dark space. Yes, the weather and general passing of time have a lot to do with that, but I truly think the running did too. I know running isn’t for everyone, I wouldn’t push it on anyone, but I can not more wholeheartedly get behind anything than the importance of physical activity – whether it’s sprinting or Zumba or yogilates or powerwalking. It’s basically free Xanax! Y’all know I love TV as much as the next guy but I think all of us can and should spare a few hours of Hulu Plus per week in favor of getting those endorphins.

Ok now I’m getting a little self-righteous where I just meant to be celebratory! I think this is as good a place as any to cut the rambles. I’ll be back tomorrow with a few more words on running – a friend asked me for my advice on learning to love running, so I thought I’d share some more practical tips, now that I am super totally an expert on all things track and field.

HA!

Thank you all for your sweet encouragement and support while I trained for this little shindig and for not being too harsh on mo while I ramble about running. I know there is nothing more boring than listening to someone talk about their exercise routine (looking RIGHT AT YOU Crossfitters) so I truly appreciate you tuning in. You’re all gems. Gems, I say!

 

Xo! Liz

30 Before 30: Oh, we’re halfway there!

Last Friday, March 14 was both Pi Day and my half birthday (equally momentous holidays!), meaning I have but 6 months left until I hit the big 3-0. I thought this would be an opportune time to check back in on my epic 30 Before 30 list to see how I’m doing.

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If you’d noticed I hadn’t discussed this in months and suspected it was a ridiculous thing that I started for the attention and then forgot about and surely won’t finish, well, you’re mostly right. I am still working to check off these noble goals but, for better or for worse (pun!), this whole getting married situation seems to be taking up the majority of my time and resources, both emotional and (OH MY GOD WHY IS THIS WEDDING SO EFFING EXPENSIVE?!?!?!?) financial sooo certain things have taken the back burner and probably won’t be finished by 9/14/14. Does this make me feel guilty and lame and like a failure? Obviously! I mean, what doesn’t?  But that is a problemo for me and for my therapist. Who I just broke up with because he kept bringing up weird stories about the holocaust (literally) when I tried to talk about my problems, so now I’m at square one and need a new therapist BUT that is a whole different story for a whole different day, why did I even go onto that tangent?

“Why Did I Even Go Onto That Tangent?” will the the name of my one woman show. Get your tickets now!

Also, quickly, I can’t even lie to you guys: I know this is so pointless and silly and age is but a number and 30 isn’t even old and Sex and the City something something BUT the fact that I’m managing to squeeze into marriage just a few days before my 30th birthday (28, to be exact!) (and 5 months from yesterday holy cats, there’s so much to do!) does make me feel kind of relieved. So ridiculous I KNOW but I never pretended to be anyting but exxxxxtra ridic so there you have it. The truth is out!

Ok with out firther ado, I’ve ado’ed enough already, let us check in on my 30 Before 30 progress, shall we?

LIZ HO’S 30 BEFORE 30! 

1. Run half marathon

This is the biggie and I’m excited to share, I’ll be doing this one! I am running the Henry’s Hope Verrazano Half Marathon on Saturday, April 26! I’ve been training like a beast – ran 9 miles yesterday, boom – and have been enjoying it so much.  I’ve come to really enjoy running. I can feel myself getting stronger, faster, healthier and better every day and running helps me to calm my brain when my thoughts start a-racin’. No jokes here, I’m very proud of myself and can’t wait to run 13.1 in a few weeks!

2. Pay off one credit card…put a dent in the other. COMPLETED 10/4/13

And then acquire new credit card debt after buying way, way into the Wedding Industrial Culture? Yikes…probably!

3. Get a bikini wax

This has not yet happened. I might save it for the honeymoon…GROSS but probably true.

4. Take photoshop or other online design course

Nopers.

5. Submit something for publication

Sort of? I made a friend who works for a website and he asked me to write something for him (his idea! cool!) and I have sort of started but not really so yeah…slaying it.

6. Visit each of the 5 boroughs of NYC (I’m coming for you, Staten Island!)

I went to Queens last week! I’ve been there before but still, let’s get excited. Brooklyn & Manhattan I check off on the daily and I’ve been to the Bronx before but should probably do it again now that I’m making a whole thang of it. As for Staten Island…yeah. Who wants to come with me? We can get meatballs and spray tans!

That’s what happens on Staten Island, right?

7. Do a pull-up (yes, just one. Aim high.)

I’ve done like…¾ of a pull-up. I’m working on it.

8. Find a regular volunteer program

Oh god, I haven’t even thought about this. I’m a horrible person.

9. See a play on Broadway

I almost did this! My friend Nick sent this EXTREMELY confusing email about getting tickets to see this play All the Way, starring Bryan “Heisenberg” Cranston and I figured it was a great opportunity to check this item off my listicle AND become besties with Walter White but just 6 hours before showtime I realized that what I read as Nick buying us all tickets meant he just bought himself a ticket and the rest of us were on our own sooooooooooo long story long, I did not attend said play.

Back to the drawing board!

10. Watch The Sopranos

UGH. I’m halfway through season two and just…can’t. I think it’s kind of boring! I feel like I should love it, it’s so widely regarded as THE prestige TV show that started this era of prestige TV shows and I LOVE prestige TV shows and also saying the word “prestige” a lot, apparently, but I just can’t seem to get on board with this one.

So now I must decide if I power through for the sake of the list OR if I just quit and chalk it up to a loss.

So much TV, so little time. What’s a gal to do?!

11. Learn to shuffle cards

I’m working on this! I think there’s a video somewhere? I’ll find it, stay tuned.

You wait with baited breath, I’m sure.

12. Stop biting my nails

Chomping on my phalanges as we speak so…no.

13. Take a trip with my mom

What I meant by this was a like, a vacation-style trip somewhere new but again, with this wedding scenario bleeding us both dry, we’ll probably not make that happen.

BUT we have gone on several shopping trips so technically that counts, right?

It’s my list, I’m saying it counts.

Maybe we’ll trip on acid!

JUST kidding.

14. Read outside of my comfort zone

Ok help me! I continue to read the same sorts of books I usually do which would be categorized as “Upmarket Women’s Fiction” or “Ridiculous Postapocalyptic Teen Romances” so I still need some help here.

Would y’all be so kind as to recommend some books in the following genres:

poetry
biography
a “classic”
graphic novel

Thanks in advance, nerds!

15. Visit Storm King COMPLETED 10/6/13

OBVIOUSLY this happened. Did you guys know I’m engaged?!!

16. Get Acupuncture

Not yet but I do have the name of a doctor to call stored in my inbox somewhere so…baby steps.

17. Roast a chicken

Again, not yet but I have been making quite a lot of crock pot chicken dishes so … sort of?

18. Grow a vegetable to a point where it is edible i.e. don’t kill it

Have not even tried.

19. Zumba

See: response to No. 18.

20. Host a classy, adult dinner party

No. But I have hosted a several unsophisticated boozy potlucks SO I’m calling it a win.

21. Add at least one more state to my list

Not yet but Brian promises he’s taking me to Maine in September! He better.

22. Solve my stomach issues

You do not even want to know what is going on down there.

23. Trapeze class

Of course I have not done this. How did I even come UP with this idea?!

24. Reconnect with an old friend (I already have one picked out! Lucky person!)

Not quiiiite yet. But I often compose my email to said friend while drying my hair or running or otherwise distracted so…the suspense builds.

25. Decorate our apartment

Nopers! But now we’re moving August 1 so there’s no point in starting now. I’ll decorate the new place, I will, I will!

26. See the cherry blossoms in DC

Oh god, no. And I think they sprout (sprout?) like next week so this one ain’t happening. Next year!

27. Take out my navel ring

Not yet! Hanging onto the trashy just a little bit longer. It’ll look great when I’m wearing a crop top in Staten Island!

28. Make an IRL blogger connection

I DID do this!! A few months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting the delightful Caitlyn while she was in NYC on business.

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Caitlyn is adorable – she’s one of the first bloggers I became bloggy pals with and she reminds me a lot of my sister…Maggie is younger than me and once lived in Colorado where she worked for Habitat for Humanity and Caitlyn is also younger than me and currently lives in Colorado and sometimes volunteers for Habitat. The similarities kind of stop there and yet I still think of them as kindred spirits so basically if you are an altruistic young woman living in the western US I’ll probably confuse you for my sister. Just go with it.

ANYWAY, Caitlyn and I became blog friends and then facebook friends (huge step) and then she let me know she was comin’ to town for work, did I want to hang out?

Um…yes please!

We met at this super cute tea shop near my office and I was sort of nervous on my way there, I felt like I was going on a blind date. What if she didn’t like me? What if we had nothing to talk about? Did I look weird?

Luckily none of my fears came true and we hit it off and talked about life and boys and blogging and enjoyed yummy tea and macaroons, brought to us by THE slowest waiter in all of the New York City Regional Area and it was just so much fun.

If you don’t yet read Caitlyn’s blog…hop to!

29. Hike 5 new peaks

Spring has barely sprung…I’ll hike when it’s warm!

And if all else fails, I’ll just climb every tiny hill in Prospect Park and call it a win.

30. Blog Challenge!

I actually decided, upon recommendation from a friend that I go streaking, that #30 is Go Skinnydipping! I will share ZERO photographs so y’all pervs don’t even bother asking, but I realized that no one should make it to 30 without dipping in the nude so as soon as it’s warm: it’s on.

So! Not too bad? I’ve officially done 4 things and adding in loopholes and technicalities I’ve done at least 5 more and have plans semi-in the works for a few others so it’s looking like maybe I’ll get to half. I feel like I read somewhere that 15 is the new 30 so if I make it there, I’ll call this a rousing success.

Now if you’ll all excuse me, I have some hiking and waxing and chicken roasting to do. Probably not all at the same time but, we’ll see!

Smooches!

Liz Ho

One Awkward/Awesome Day: Storm King Style

Hola amigos. First, I have to thank you all for the excitement and warm wishes re: Brian’s & my big news. (If you haven’t heard, we ended the government shutdown! JK we got engaged. Eleventy billion times more newsworthy.) We’re supremo excited round these parts!

Secondably, can we all just overlook the fact that I skipped my usual weekly recap last Friday? I have a few lame excuses that I’ll bore you with this Friday, so you can just start holding onto your seat righttttttt….now.

Meanwhile, I wanted to share more cool nooz: have checked another item off my 30 Before 30 List, holla! 2 Down, 28 to Go.

Last weekend, Brian and I visited Storm King Art Center, this amazing, gorgeous outdoor sculpture gallery about an hour north of New York City. Oh, we also got engaged there, so full disclaimer: I’ll start this as a 30 Before 30 / Travelogue post and then suuuper quickly veer into talking about how we came to be betrothed, so you’ve been warned. I really don’t want to become that girl who’s all like OMG I’M GETTING MARRRRRIED but also OMG I’M GETTING MARRRRRIED!  So I figured I could kind of sneak it in a bit? Also I’m aware that I have a short window of time where people still find this interesting before they’re like shut the H up, we get it already, SO I’ll just make the most of this before everyone gets sick of me.

Too late? No turning back now!

30 BEFORE 30: STORM KING; OR, HE LIKED IT & PUT A RING ON IT: BASED ON THE NOVEL PUSH BY SAPPHIRE: BASED ON THE REAL LIFE OF ELIZABETH HOBAGS

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I’m pretty sure I first learned about Storm King a few years ago while lightly stalking the facebook page of a very distant connection who has a cool life and decided it was a Must Visit Establishment if I’m ever going to embody the kind of cultured, hipster lifestyle I so dream of. If you would like to learn more about Storm King, visit their website and/or look at this sad batch of phone photos I managed to snap during the 11 minutes of our trip when my phone wasn’t dead (more on that saga below).

Basically blah blah it’s 1.5 hours north of NYC, you can get a discount if you drive up in a zipcar or you can take a bus. Great scenery. Foliage. Art. Etcetera, etcetera. Highly recommended, the end.

Now let’s get to the good stuff: ME!

We begin with a Lost style flashback to earlier this summer, as Brian and I are making the decision to wonen samen. I’m VERY into timelines, plans and attempting to control every aspect of my life – typically everything still totally falls down around me, but you can’t stop me from trying, world! We’d both agreed that, for us, moving in was a step on the path towards officially locking it DOWN and didn’t want to live together long before taking the next step. Basically, as I explained it to my mom, moving is a horrific nightmare and we wanted to get that whole scene over and done before making any other big decisions. We’d put “post Labor Day” as the basic timeline for when an engagement might occur, so true to form, the moment the clock struck midnight on Labor Day I was on HIGH ALERT.

We’d talked about engagement rings and though I knowwwww that engagement rings are ridiculous and paternalistic and basically just a marketing scheme by big diamond companies, and the path to our fingers is littered with the bodies of diamond miners… well, no DUH I still wanted one. (I seem to be like, equal parts angry modern feminist and deeply romantic traditionalist and have a feeling that the push-pull between these two dualling personas will be a recurring theme throughout this whole wedding planning process. That should be fun for everyone!) I do still maintain that it is absurd to spend a ton of money on an engagement ring (unpopular opinion alert!) but I mean, if Brian wants to buy me some nice jewelry and love me forever, well, I’m not going to say no to that. We didn’t want to go shopping together for a ring, that felt anti-climactic to us, but he still wanted my input on style, so I took an exploratory trip to a few jewelers in late August with my friend Kathleen, who then reported the findings to ole BriGuy.

And then…I waited. Ever so patiently, constantly touching up my nail polish, just in case. 

This was sort of a weird time for me, like, emotionally. I like to be the one making plans, taking control and felt like we were on the brink of a Life Event and I just had to sit back and let it happen.  Surprise, surprise, I think the idea of an “engagement” is sort of backwards and old fashioned – I think it is important for couples to discuss their future as a unit, to make plans together but then when it comes time for the official asking, the man is in charge? Oh hell naw! Butttt then when it came down to it: hell yes!

Brian told me early on that it was very important for him to do this, to propose, to buy a ring, to be the man with the plan and I wanted to honor that – gender parity is important and deciding things together are important, yes, but I guessss that occasionally letting go of the need to be in charge and allowing your partner to do what feels right for them is important too. So I sat back.

And I’m glad I did – in the moment when he asked me to marry him, I could see how happy he was – how happy we both were and it was the right choice for us.

But I’m getting ahead of myself!

Ok that Lost style flashback got long and unnecessarily dramatic. Just a small glimpse into the internal life of Liz Ho. A fun place to be!

So, now it is Sunday, October 6, 2013, skies over Brooklyn are misty and grey but we decide to take our trip nonetheless. By this point I am 99.4% certain that IT IS HAPPENING TODAY! Clues include: it is our only free weekend all fall, Brian has been extra specially nice to me all week and, most convincingly, he had rented the zip car for the day (pickup time: 8 AM!) weeks in advance. Love this guy, but planning in advance is not usually his M.O. I was prepared. I put together a semi-decent outfit, despite the weather and had SPRINTED to the nail salon at 5:01 PM on Friday for a preemptive mani so you can trust my nail game was on point.

We bundled up and picked up our car and the whole while I was giving Brian the old up and down, wondering where he might be stashing a ring. There were no box-sized bulges in the pockets of his jeans or coat…he’d brought along his school bag so I’d assumed it was in there, but he was being super casual and blase about the whole thing. I mean, I was mildly suspicious when he packed a bag in the first place, but it all made sense- he threw in an extra sweatshirt and dry socks, just in case, and tossed in some deli sandwiches, too – and he never acted like he was hauling precious cargo – he let me shove in some clothes of my own and at one point even asked me to hold it for him. I began to attempt to regulate my expectations to a normal level in the event that this was just a regular day trip after all, no life moments to be had, but we all know how great I am at operating in a relaxed emotional state so let’s just say I was buzzing like a bumble bee with a Zac Efron sized coke problem the entirety of our trip. (Too soon? Love you, Zac!)

Adding to my nervous state, my cell phone was once again breaking down. This was my second phone in two weeks, this time with a brand new battery, but I kept encountering the same issues I’d had in the past. Today was NOT the day for a phone break down. Not only is Storm King basically an Instagrammer’s wet dream, there was a chance I’d have to make some SERIOUSLY important phone calls!

So we wandered the park, checking out the sculptures, goofing around but neither of our heads was 100% in the game. Brian was trying to think on his feet of when and where to pop the big Q and, as I just mentioned, I was… let’s go ahead and say mildly preoccupied with both my phone and my naked ring finger. At one point we came upon my very favorite sculpture, this long, winding stone wall curving its way through the natural landscape to a gorgeous lake at the bottom of a wooded hill. We lingered and as we walked away, I mentioned to Brian how much I loved it. Also, at that moment, I managed to get my phone to re-start and pulled Brian back to the wall so I could snap some photos.

Brian was overjoyed with this plan, thinking it the perfect way to get me back to my favorite sculpture without arousing my suspicion but WAIT! We are foiled. Back at the wall we encounter a nice woman snapping a few photos. I strike up a convo and ask her to take our picture with my now functioning phone. She obliges:

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And informs us that she’s on site for a photography class and will be hanging around that wall alllllll afternoon snapping photos.

Thanks for ruining our perfect engagement, woman. I hope you get a big fat F in photo class.

Justttt kidding.

We ambled onward (do you like how I’m making this into like, the longest novel ever written of all time? Forget Infinite Jest, just read my blog!) and found ourselves in a sort of remote, secluded area towards the back of the park, with a few funky sculptures and tons of trees. Brian knew this was his moment, but just needed to distract me long enough to catch me off guard.

Luckily for him, I made it easy just by being my usual attention hog of a self – I spotted a statue of a gigantic head, like Easter Island, and ran towards it, yelling “Brian! Take my picture with this head!” I handed him my phone and struck a pose. Brian took a few snaps and handed me back the phone, and then it went a little something like this:

Brian: “This picture is awesome.”

Me, looking at the phone: “Yeah, it’s pretty good.”

Brian: “It’s really big!”

Me: “Yeah, the Samsung Galaxy has a really large screen (followed by several seconds of idiot chatter about Samsung Galaxy phones)

Brian: “No, I mean it’s awesome and big because it’s exciting, we’ll always remember this as the picture I took right before I asked you to marry me.”

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My memories after that are a little hazy – I cried, there was some one knee action, Brian said the nicest things a human has ever said to another human and I, of course, said yes.

The ring is perfect, a vintage Art Deco ring from 1939, gold and gorgeous and delicate. Brian said he’d had it for a month (!) and had been practicing opening the box so he could get it right.  All other fellas on the planet, good try, but ain’t nobody cuter than this guy. It’s a fact.

We excitedly called our parents, or tried anyway. I couldn’t get my mom on the phone – it turns out she was on a bike ride with her pals and out of service. I wanted to tell her before anyone else, so left about 73 frantic messages on her cell and at home and then my phone died, so I sent a few crazed texts from Brian’s phone. I finally managed to get mine up and running again on the drive home and sent my sister a series of absolutely bananas texts: “WHERE’S MOM?!” “I NEED TO TALK TO MOM! ALSO SIT BY THE PHONE! YOU KNOW WHY!” until my mom called and we got to share the big news. My phone then proceeded to die on regular intervals for the remainder of our trip and despite a super romantic stop at the TMobile store, met its ultimate demise a few hours after we got home, but allowed me just enough time to chat with my siblings, dad and a few pals.

I started making corny remarks about every single thing we did all night as being the first _________ as an engaged couple – our first sandwiches, first drive over a bridge, first bottle of water, first trip to the TMobile store…first time going to the bathroom. God bless Brian, y’all, he’s in for a long life.

And then we spent our first night AS AN ENGAGED COUPLE (!!!) sitting around our house in our underwear, eating Thai takeout and drinking fancy champagne. It was the perfect end to a perfect day – one that felt just right for us. There were no helicopters or flash mobs but just a little bit of adventure, a few mishaps, sandwiches, cheesy jokes, bathroom oversharing and pantslessness. All of my favorite things with my very, very favorite guy. I can’t wait for a lifetime of days just like this.

*** The end! Thanks for reading all of this! I know I tend to shy away from the heartfelt stuff but I can’t seem to help it thee days. #barf! I hope you might let me share, from time to time, our adventures on the marriage train. I promise this won’t become some boring wedding blog, believe me, the world needs another wedding blog like it needs another Mormon mommy blog (zing!) (which is to say millions more, love you, Mormon moms!) but I have a feeling there will be some major shenanigans along the way (aren’t there always?) and think it might be kind of fun to write through the process, especially working through those battling ideologies, as the Liz Ho who hates the Wedding Industrial Complex and the Liz Ho who has had Style Me Pretty bookmarked since her single days meet in the ring to duke it out. Let the next great adventure begin! ***

Another Awkward Week [10.4.13]

Hello, pumpkins. It’s October! It’s also 85 degrees in New York City right now.  Ridiculous!

Is there anything more exciting than talking about the weather?!  No siree. Except maybe this announcement: I have completed the first of my 30 Before 30 challenges, holla! As of this morning, I am only in debt on one credit card! And also in student loans. And most certainly to my mother. But still: baby steps.

I started my foray into credit card debt  while studying abroad my junior year. I know I’m amazingly irresponsible but I still maintain that travel is a worthy cause of debt. Live a little! See the world! I would, however, recommend putting the card away when you return and not breaking it out at the first pair of riding boots that catch your eye. The “I swear I’ll pay it off the second the bill comes” trap is far to easy to fall into, trust me, I’m an expert. I would also recommend not opening a second credit card – especially if it is a specialty store credit card – for me, The Gap – no matter how much of a discount they offer you just for opening. Sure you saved 40% on that chambray tunic but suddenly it’s three years later and thanks to copious ‘members only sales’ and promises of points and bonuses for non-clothing purchases you’re a thousand bucks in the hole with little more than some flimsy cardigans to show for it.

I’d also recommend not moving to New York City or working in publishing but far wiser people than I have done it quite successfully with little to no financial hardship so maybe just don’t listen to me at all when I’m dishing out money advice and/or life?

Long story extra long: I dipped into my savings account (which up until last January was at a standard balance of like $32, but that’s another story for another day) to pay off my Gap credit card. It was scary to write such a huge check, from money I’d worked so hard to save, but it feels like the right move. The interest rates were staggeringly high, and every minimum payment I made felt like a sad drop in the bucket. I still have a long way to go on my other debts but I feel like I’m headed in the right direction. I am pretty flim-flamming proud of myself, I’m not gonna lie about it.

Whoop! One (major!) challenge down, 29 to go…

Is this what responsibility feels like? It’s refreshing! And terrifying. Mostly terrifying. Someone give me back my credit card. I see some pants I need…

No! Let me distract myself with story telling! Why don’t we take a look at what was keeping it awkward this week:

This Feast:

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Did everyone watch the Breaking Bad finale on Sunday?! OMGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG! No spoilers but I will tell you this much: my friend Kamran and I pulled out all the stops on our epic finale party. Or wait, the opposite. Across the interwebs we saw blue cocktails with home made rock candy and Heisenburgers...my own brother even made a blue cake decorated with blue “meth” sugar candy (well, it was more green than blue, such a Todd that guy!).

Kam and I managed to put down some blue (meth!) berry ice cream, three dozen “Pollos Hermanos” wings, a few slices of pizza and half a bottle each of scotch and Pinot Grigio.

Classy and festive. Or lazy and gluttonous. Little of both?

And if you don’t know what any of these things mean, WELL, it sounds like you’ve been wasting your time doing dumb stuff instead of catching up on Breaking Bad so, sorry I’m not sorry. Get your life together, man.

These Gifts:

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Let’s see…the largest of the bunch is a housewarming gift for my friend and her husband who bought their home in oh, May. The smaller in gold and silver is a wedding gift for my cousin who was married on the 5th of July… the colorful package below that one is another wedding gift for my friend Maureen, who was married on the 6th of July, wrapped in birthday paper because I ran out of the fancy wedding stuff. 4 months late and inappropriately wrapped. Regular old Emily Post right over here.  (Also, both gifts are the same, involving the couple’s initials and wedding dates. Both couples are M+M and married within one day of the other so the probability that I mixed them up is about 80 to 1. Just cross your fingers this all worked out.)

The stack of birthday wrapped packages are gifts for my godson and his twin brother on their 3rd birthday, which was just Wednesday so I’m only like 3 days late on that one.

I actually bought all of these on time, but let them linger in my office for months because I’m just the laziest. Or, OR, hear me out guys: it’s strategic and thoughtful. I understand that there must be a sense of sadness after a wedding ends or several months post-birthday or house closing – all of your planning and saving and celebrating has come to a close and you go back to your sad, dumb, boring life with no presents, or parties or cake. UNTIL! Six months later, suddenly, you open your mailbox and, what’s this?!?! A gift?! For me?! The celebration lives on! Once again your bask in the glow of your newly wedded/habitated/born bliss and feel special and loved again.

THAT is why I’m always late. It’s not that I can’t get it together…it’s alllll  a part of my master plan.

You’re welcome, everyone.

Wondering what’s in those packages? Not telling…except this one peek.

These Books:

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Best book EVAH! Got one for my godson….annnnd a copy for me. I haven’t read it in years! What a classic.

My godson Michael is one of a set of twins – they each have separate godparents. It doesn’t feel right to get just Michael a birthday gift, but I felt like I needed to do something special for the guy, since I am his spiritual mentor and all. I realize that I’m not exactly a pillar of Christian morality (whoops) but do think I could teach the kid a thing or two about something that I believe is truly valuable: lit-rah-chaaa. Every year for his birthday I’ll help to build his library, supplying him with my favorite books I read as a young person. Last year I got him The Phantom Tollbooth and this year, the Mixed Up Files. He just turned three, so he likely won’t be diving into these for a few years, but when he’s ready I want him to be prepared with a fully stocked, totally badass library.

I’ll make this kid a bookworm if it’s the last thing I do!

I guess that’s not really awkward, unless you count me reading books for 3rd graders on the subway. I just wanted to show off that, though I send them way late, I DO give solid presents.

Now, time to overshare. You ready for this?

I don’t know if you are.

This Toilet:

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Some BOLD color choices up in this apartment.

Last week when I wrote about my multiple public restroom disasters, my friend commented thanking me for keeping the toilet humor classy and I was so honored. I don’t want to reach too high for the stars, but that’s kind of my goal. To be the classiest inappropriate person on earth. Can it be done? Well, this next story might push the limits but I think it’s important to share.

So. Wednesday evening I was going to a friend’s house in the neighborhood for a ladies’ grilled cheese evening and stopped off at my apartment between work and her place to drop off my things and rinse off, as I’d gone for a run near my office and was smelling like a real peach.

The house I grew up in was pretty old, with a plumbing system to match – flushing a toilet anywhere in the house would set the hot water totally haywire, so you had to be really careful before taking a shower. Any flush action within like, 20 minutes pre-shower could have you shivering in ice water the whole time. Consequently, I never, ever flush if I you knowww before hopping in the shower, even if it’s a number twosie, which is totally never is because girls don’t poop. Except when they do, which is sometimes before they get in the shower. Or so I’ve heard.

I just close the toilet lid, scrub up and flush when I get out.

WELL. Wednesday evening I was rushing around to get to Abbe’s house, my brain a million places at once. Brian was working late, so I came and went before he made it home. I was halfway to Abbe’s house when I got that horrible, sinking anxiety feeling in the pit of my stomach that I’d forgotten something. You know how you can convince yourself that you didn’t unplug the iron or turn off the stove? Well I was suddenly just horribly, devastatingly positive that I’d forgotten to flush the toilet, leaving a delightful surprise waiting for poor Brian.

Now, we’re pretty open (some might say too open) (some would probably be correct) with discussing our bodily functions, but there are some lines that can’t be crossed, you know? Not yet, anyway. We’ve lived together for TWO MONTHS, we gotta save something for the future! If we start seeing each other’s doo-doo two months in, what’s left at two years? Twenty-two? I literally can not imagine…nor do I want to.

I contemplated turning back around but it was too far for just a hunch and plus: what if Brian beat me there? So I did what any weirdo would do and texted him:

“Listen. If you get home ant he toilet seat is down…flush it before opening. Don’t ask any questions.”

Charming.

Guys: this is real life. No one prepares you for this stuff! When you make the decision to move in with a romantic partner, whether it’s pre-marital or post, no one clues you in to the actual HARD TRUTHS of cohabitation. Sure you hear all about splitting finances and chores and making sure you get alone time but NO ONE prepares you for the very real and probably inevitable possibility of seeing the other person’s poop.

Well, now you’ve been warned. Tread lightly. Double check that you’ve flushed.

Luckily it turns out that I had, in fact, remembered, so this whole situation was just an act of unnecessary oversharing, anxiety and weirdness (my three best qualities) but I still think it the creep-o text was better than the alternative. And Brian still seems to be attracted to me (what a freak!) so I think we’re in the clear.

FOR NOW.

You can count on me to always report the most vital of information from the front lines of living in sin…whether anyone actually wants to hear it or not.

Annnnnddddd I think that’s as good a point as any to shut this mother DOWN. It’s Friday y’all. We made it. What’s everyone up to this weekend?

I trust you’ll keep it an appropriate mix of classy and shameful, whatever you do.

xoxo Liz Ho

One (Specific) Awkward Year: 30 Before 30!

Friends! Thanks to all for the sweet birthday wishes, you are some nice people. I’m already feeling older and wiser and maybe just a scoonch wrinklier, too.

In the spirit of making the most of my fleeting 20’s, I’ve decided to become a lifestyle blogging cliche and create a 30 Before 30 List – 30 things to try or accomplish before I hit the big, you guessed it 3-0. Corny, indeed, but I do love a good list and am always up for a challenge or thirty. Plus: think of all the writing material!

Also, I know what you’re thinking: Liz, why don’t you focus on your day-to-day lists and do things like clean your house or mail that wedding gift to your cousin who got married back in July or I don’t know your job, and I hear you loud and clear on that one, and I’ll definitely consider getting to those things eventually, but eh: boring. I need to reach for the stars, here before my AARP membership kicks in. (KIDDING).

I looked to a lot of other blogs for 30 Before 30 inspiration and stole a few good ones, but tried to focus on things that are actually possibly possible in the next 360 days (already losing time! OH GOD!) Much as I’d like to ride nude on the back of a great white shark off the coast of Bali, I just don’t know that it is quite doable on my dwindling time frame.

Some are silly, like getting a bikini wax (why is this even a thing that people do?), some are more intangible like solving my stomach issues and some miiiight be impossible, see “run half marathon” and “pay off credit card debt.” But ALL of them are happening. They are! Before September 14, 2014 the list below will be donezo and the whole world will know my name! Or I’ll still be entirely unfamous but with less debt and a smoother bikini line. Nowhere to go but up, friends!

Now quickly for the wild card: Number 30. I was realllly stretching for material as we got into the high 20’s here and decided it might be fun to take a little audience poll. What do YOU think I should do in this next year? I’m taking suggestions for something that is legal, not weird or perverted, not expensive (unless you’re paying, in which case, I’m all ears) and maybe a bit ridiculous to add to my list. Let’s hear your suggestions – the best one wins!!

And we’re off. I’ll do my best to document what is sure to be a THRILLING year, I sure hope you’ll follow along.

30 before 30

30 Before 30

1. Run half marathon

2. Pay off one credit card…put a dent in the other. (yes I have 2 credit cards. Proud American.)

3. Get a bikini wax

4. Take photoshop or other online design course

5. Submit something for publication

6. Visit each of the 5 boroughs of NYC (I’m coming for you, Staten Island!)

7. Do a pull-up (yes, just one. Aim high.)

8. Find a regular volunteer program

9. See a play on Broadway

10. Watch The Sopranos

11. Learn to shuffle cards

12. Stop biting my nails

13. Take a trip with my mom

14. Read outside of my comfort zone (looking for suggestions, literary pals!)

15. Visit Storm King

16. Get Acupuncture

17. Roast a chicken

18. Grow a vegetable to a point where it is edible i.e. don’t kill it

19. Zumba

20. Host a classy, adult dinner party

21. Add at least one more state to my list

22. Solve my stomach issues

23. Trapeze class

24. Reconnect with an old friend (I already have one picked out! Lucky person!)

25. Decorate our apartment

26. See the cherry blossoms in DC

27. Take out my navel ring (GREAT ONE, Liz!)

28. Make an IRL blogger connection

29. Hike 5 new peaks

30. Blog Challenge!

Boom. Let’s do this thing. Thanks for following along and now if you’ll quickly excuse me, I have a LOT to accomplish. First stop: Trapezing! Or maybe I should just get back to work.

xoxo Liz Ho