Sunday, March 28, 2010

Birthday surprise: home edition

As if things couldn't get better, my family surprised me at our weekly family dinner with a card that said, "Happy birthday to your bum."  I didn't really get it, but such is my brother's humor.  As I was reading the card, he brought in the gift itself: a Victoria Ghost chair by Philippe Starck.  I'd been drooling over this chair for years (and its armed companion the Louis Ghost), but set the dream aside until I had a permanent home in which to place it.  I got to sit in it immediately during the dinner!

Here's where it sits now, back at my apartment:

[victoria ghost]

At the end of the week, Jax invited us over for what I thought was a casual firepit evening at their backyard.  But I discovered my best friends there, my parents, and friends continued to come during the night.  Turns out Jax had been in cahoots with them -- and that DC had known about this even before our London trip.  So much sneakiness!



On top of that, Jax had strapped little Baby G to her and put together an entirely home-cooked smörgåsbord including two pots of cider and hot cocoa (complete with bar of brandy, Bailey's, and other enhancements), finger foods, and cupcakes:

[birthday cupcakes]

[birthday blowout]

I was grateful not only for the turnout, but also for the opportunity for DC and me to announce our engagement in person.  Before I blew out my candles, I said, "I can't imagine anything to wish for this year, because all my dreams have come true."  And it's true!  Here's to the best birthday ever!  Thanks so very, very much, family and friends!

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Text of an email that circulated my entire contacts list:

DC and I got engaged.  On March 8th.  At 36,000 feet.  Somewhere between Iceland and Greenland.  On the flight back.  From my surprise birthday trip.  To London.  After the first movie (me: New Moon; him: Couples Retreat).  He slipped me a note.  I read it.  Looked up.  Speechless.  Nodded.  He slipped me a ring. And we landed back at LAX: betrothed.

[self portrait, 'Bling']

And some of the responses (quite a few, but not all! Bear with me; I wanted to remember them all in one place):

  • best.  email.  ever. :)congrats.

  • omggggggggggg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! omedetoooooooooooo<3<3 congrats!!!!!!!!!

  • That's fantastic! I love the note-passing story! You're a true devotee of written correspondence, aren't you? I'm so happy for you. Many congratulations and best wishes for a happy future.

  • WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTTT???? OMG, friend Congrats!!!!! I am so happy for you! Why didn’t I see this on facebook??

  • I feel like saying it, wait...SHOUTING it again, CONGRATS! I'm so happy for you! Finally, the details.  I'm writing to you with a HUGE smile on my face.

  • This is WONDERFUL NEWS!!  Congratulations to you and DC.. I have never met the lucky fellow but he must be something to win your love and affection!

  • WOW! Congrats!  So many questions.  Like, How was new moon for instance?  I have yet to see it.  And did they leave it open ended for the next ... Ok, I'm kidding.  But seriously.  Congrats!

  • CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAHOOOO!!!!!!!!  And thanks for the point-by-point description!  I felt like I was right there!! :)

  • What a story!!!  He sounds like a keeper the romancer :)

  • YAY!  Congrats, my dear!!  The second I saw the subject line, I knew it was an engagement announcement!  Yay!  Ok, so I want to catch up with you.  It's been waaaaay too long!  Plus, I need to give you hug and jump up and down with you!  Or something to that effect.  Maybe a drink and some karaoke wouldn't hurt, either. :)

  • I am overcome with joy for you! Such providence is so like Jesus!

  • Wow - congratulations, Jean! Do not know who that is, but if he makes you this happy and brings blessings to your life, amen.

  • i knew it! i'm prophetic. CONGRATS!

  • This friend from afar is wishing your fiancee and you a wonderful and glorious life together. Looking forward to hearing more about the lucky guy (lets not be sexist here.... lucky girl also).

  • Congratulations, Jean!! That's fabulous. Who is DC?  A wonderful blessing. I hope you are well. I'm sorry I've been MIA. Complicated.

  • Wow, Jean! This is wonderful news! Looked on your facebook page for a clue about who DC is, but no dice, so I'm hoping to hear more from you sometime, or maybe a picture? Anyways, I'm thrilled on your behalf.

  • Omg.  I'm so happy for you.  And what a spectacular proposal/engagement.  When is the wedding?!  Ah, too soon to ask, eh.

  • Big kisses from your frenche cousin in Toulouse!  Give me some more news, ++

  • I am really happy to hear this wonderful news.  To be honest, somehow I felt/knew this will come sooner and later.

  • Jean! Congrats on the engagement. D is the man!

  • Congratulations from the deep, dark past, darling girl.

  • Jean-sama! OMEDETO!!! I'm so happy for you dear.. I'm deeply pleased that your relationship has reached a new level and that marriage will bond you closer and happier. you both deserve it!

  • Dear Ms. Jean....soon to be Mrs.
    Congratulations!! We are excited for you. From what I know of him, you two make a great couple. It sounds like plane rides will always be special to you and what a great story when you take your kids on a trip. Blessings on your future together. What a great journey when two people really love the Lord. Thanks for sharing your joy!

  • Congrats! It was not surprising given how I felt you two were right for each other.

  • Congratulations Jean.  You and D make the perfect couple.  I'm so happy to hear the great news.  I can't believe he held on to the ring the entire trip.

It's been about three weeks, and I've regained my ability to compose complete sentences.  We're talking about dates, venues, and details, but nothing has been decided for sure.  We want to keep things simple but don't want to underestimate the time and work we'll have to put into this.   Among other things this will be a huge communication project -- between us and our families.  So far, DC and I are on the same page, which feels good, natural.

I'll keep you posted!  This is exciting!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Birthday surprise: London edition

At the beginning of February, DC casually asked, "What do you think of going to London for your birthday?" 

To which I responded, "You don't have the vacation days!"

To which he blithely said, "Yes, I do.  So... what do you think?"

"I think it'd be great!"

Within a day or so I got an email from him with our itinerary.  So we started to dream.

This was our first international trip together.  But since we'd each spent an academic year in England, it was (and will always be) a friendly, familiar place.  We decided that in addition to showing each other our 'versions' of England, we'd do things that neither of us had done, together. 

Unfortunately, my uncle and another friend would be traveling at the same exact time, so we missed seeing them.  But I did get to meet DC's friends, with whom we stayed the first few nights in London.

I can't tell you how wonderful it was to be there again -- my last trip was 10 years ago!

[westminster abbey]

We stopped a few stations shy of our destination on the way to the V&A Museum, just to say hello to Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and their neighbors.  Lots of crowds and full regalia (even a horsedrawn coach sighting) at Buckingham Palace.  We learned that it was a state visit from South Africa -- but didn't want to wait the 90 minutes (they'd just left to collect PM Zuma at the airport).  Onwards!

[london homes]

[more london homes]

I particularly enjoyed the lace displays and embroidery samplers at the V&A.  I confess to short power naps in the fashion exhibition area -- dark lighting and Louis Ghost chairs were sleep inducers for us!  Then a bit of shopping at Liberty, where I ogled all the eye candy, especially fabrics.  But I decided my interest and skill aren't high enough for me to put down GBP19.95 for a single meter of fabric.


[fish and chips, near st paul's]

The highlight of our days in London were the museums (we also visited the Tate Modern and the Royal Observatory in Greenwhich), pubs, fisn n' chips, and friends.  We also managed a bus ride, which was a nice alternative to the Tube.

[dc and me, represented in shopfronts, greenwhich]

We opted not to stop at DC's university town, since he hardly knew anyone there anymore -- I'd met one good friend in London, and the other is now at Oxford.  So we went to Oxford earlier to spend more time with said friend.  And I'm glad we did!

If one is a visitor or tourist to Oxford, one can see the facades of the colleges, but must sign up for a tour in order to get in (we passed by a lot of "___ College is not open to visitors" signs).  Since JHJ is a student there, we got to see the inside of both New College -- where several of his family members, including his youngest brother, a first year, attended -- as well as his own, St. Antony's.  Each college has its own living quarters, library, bar, dining hall... so the students hardly have to leave.  It's like a whole other world behind those thick, centuries-old walls!  The highlight for me was a quick look into the dining hall that was eyeballed (but in the end, not chosen) for the filming of the Harry Potter films.  JHJ also took us to Turf Tavern, the pub at which Bill Clinton famously did not smoke pot, and, 'American Night' at his college -- beer pong, American music, and a room plastered with American celebrities.

[oxford with jhj]

My birthday fell on the day we were in Oxford, and DC made me close my eyes to receive my birthday gift.  "What?! Isn't the trip itself the gift?"  I opened my eyes to discover the Book of Common Prayer, which I'd been wanting, in my lap.  A nice leather version at that (not the cheaper clothbound one I was going to get for myself).  Spoiled!

Our last two full days were spent in Bristol, where I studied abroad back in the day.  I have kept in touch with one friend there over the years, who stayed at Bristol University through to her Ph.D. in Medieval Literature, and now works there.  She also met her husband there.  What a great history with a place!

Walking around, it seemed like Bristol was a completely new place.  I was totally disoriented as we walked from the train station to city center, so much more than usually so that DC joked, "Are you sure you've been here before?!"  In the couple of days we were there a lot became familiar, but there were many new discoveries as well.  Bristol and Clifton (the suburb where my dorm was) were much bigger than I remembered!

I was able to take DC to Christ Church on Sunday, which was meaningful because this was the first church I ever voluntarily went to as an adult.  I don't even know what entered my mind to make me come there!  But I remember that people were really nice, and I even started taking the Alpha course.  I never finished it, but started exploring church after coming home from that year, and eventually became a Christian.

[christ church, clifton, bristol]

Before leaving Bristol, my friend made sure I got my pint of Guinness!  After that, we went for Sunday roast, which is a traditional British Sunday meal -- DC's first.


It didn't rain at all the entire week we were there, can you believe it?!  Don't let the blue sky fool you, though: it was cold!  In the high 30s/low 40s!  We stayed warm with accessories and all the walking.  I had a wonderful time, not just because it was England, but because with was with DC.  Thanks, love, for the best birthday ever!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Myself again

Will you be suprirsed to read that I've been blogging for over seven years now?  I started in the fall of 2002 on uJournal, which went bust a couple of years later.  I had a couple blogs on Blogger, swtiching between a regular blog and a craft blog (before the labeling system started!), then finally decided to make a fresh start here.

It suddenly dawned on me why I don't blog as much anymore:  it's not fun or exciting to simply post about what I did or am doing or will do -- which is what I've relegated my blog to being, ever since I had a sudden urge to protect and respect the people in my life by concealing their names and other details.  I found myself and my blog reduced to posing stuff a certain way, taking a quick shot or two, and adding in a paragraph or two of text.  Not so fun.  For me or any readers.  So I stopped.

But I've got a new wind, a mind to take this blog back to where it once was, and wherever it is that I'm going: back to myself again.