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Fox and Cat

2012 has been a busy year. Apart from the inception of this blog, there have been many significant events – in the world and abroad – both excellent and awful. Fortunately, the former far outnumbered the latter in mine and my loved ones’ personal experiences and for that I am extremely grateful.

I generally try to avoid discussing my personal life, but there’s one special new development I’m excited to share here: After seven years together with my significant other, Cassie, I took the opportunity this past Saturday to ask for her hand in marriage. Surrounded by impeccably-dressed friends, beautiful Christmas decorations, and delicious food at our annual holiday dinner, my sentimental, meandering toast quickly – and nervously – transformed into a proposal.

For anyone who is interested (and I record it here for posterity’s sake), I thought I would provide the speech I had prepared and practiced. Guests who witnessed it live will notice I skipped some doom and gloom. Frazzled nerves allow little time for thoughtful reflection and do awful things to your mouth’s coordination. More importantly though, I just couldn’t wait to ask Cassie the big question. She was radiant and surprising her (and everyone else) was just too much fun. So, here it is:

“I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you all here.

It’s been an eventful year, full of new relationships, new friends, new homes, new jobs, new babies, new stages of life, and always new adventures. Unfortunately there have been and always will be difficulties and horrors lurking in the darkness. This year we have seen our fair share of them. But gathering here with you, I am filled with renewed hope and optimism. I hope you are, too.

In preparing this, I was thinking about all of those new events and developments and realized that nothing of great significance had happened in our lives this year, Cassie. Can you think of anything? Nothing? Well, like I said, I am especially happy you’re all here so you can help me change that.

Cassie, over the last seven years, you have been my best friend, my confidant; everything I could ask for in a companion in life. I love you. And today, I was wondering if you would like to be my wife. Will you marry me?”

She said “Yes” immediately! I dropped to one knee and presented a silver ring fashioned in the shape of a fox. I love them – especially arctic foxes, who mate for life – and I wanted Cassie to always have a special token that reminded her of me. She threw her arms around me and needless to say, there was much rejoicing.

When everything was said and done, our guests’ food lay abandoned and cold on the table in service of enthusiastic applause, handshakes, and embraces. “Grief is the price you pay for love,” as they say and we later mourned the frigid feast. But this was a fantastic experience and it went better than I could have hoped. Cassie and I are extremely excited.

Thank you to everyone who was there in person and in spirit, who had a hand in stoking the forge of our relationship, and who helped us celebrate this occasion with love and well wishes. I hope your kindness and friendship is repaid many times over to you in the future. 2013 is shaping up to be another excellent year. We can’t wait to see you there.

The Shoes, “Time To Dance”

On a completely different note, I picked this one up from my brother, Brendan, and have been meaning to post it for some time.

There isn’t much to say about this excellent music video that wouldn’t ruin the dark, disturbing, strangely enjoyable experience. It is one of my all-time personal favorites, the song is awesome, and I think it is some of Jake Gyllenhaal’s best work. It’s nothing too brutal, but there’s a little bit of Patrick Bateman in his performance, so be prepared for that. This thing’s more of an extremely danceable short film than a music video, so get comfortable; it doesn’t actually get to “Time to Dance” until about 1.5 minutes in. Once things get moving though, it’s off like a rocket with some killer (ha!) sights and sounds, as well as a bizarrely inspiring message. Behold, the healing power of music and dance!

Just be sure to keep dancing, or Jake Gyllenhaal will murder you.

TED, Jeffrey Kluger, “The Sibling Bond”

Beware: I am about to gush at length about the bonds of brotherhood.

As the oldest of three brothers, this TED talk felt enormously relevant to my own experiences and hit very close to home. I can say without embarrassment or reservation that my relationships with my brothers are among the most rewarding and important in my life. Though we’ve grown apart physically as we’ve gotten older, it is impossible to forget or ignore the genuine brotherhood between us whenever we are together. Deep-seeded philosophies, aesthetic beliefs, and practical outlooks on life unite us.

We’ve never been dependent on one another, and there have always been petty conflicts, but there is an almost palpable respect and appreciation that has become especially apparent as we’ve moved on from the safety of college and education into the realm of adulthood. As we’ve aged and cultivated our own experiences, we’ve conveyed those experiences to illuminate new ideas and paths. I know that my brothers, wherever they are and whatever they are doing, will always be among my best friends.

And I admit here that I think our cohesiveness is at least partially a testament to quality parenting as much as it is a testament to mutual appreciation among like-minded persons. In other words, it’s not an accident that we share this bond. Our parents always encouraged group participation, but never to the point of diluting our individual personalities. Friends and family joke that we are essentially clones of one another, and despite the negative connotation, I have always taken that as a compliment. My brothers continue to impress me with their unique abilities, attitudes, and goals and inspire me to be exceptional.

On a lighter note, it’s funny to note that each of us does accurately exhibit the differing characteristics Kluger identifies, and I’m sure this is the case in many families. It’s just especially humorous because with three brothers separated in birthdays across only five years, it becomes obvious that each sibling does indeed exhibit some very stereotypical behaviors. The eldest is definitely the serious, test-subject leader, the middle is definitely the aloof, quiet achiever, and the youngest is definitely the humorous, head-strong entertainer.

I realize my thoughts on this talk have been all over the place – sentimentality is largely to blame – and I’m sorry for that. I hope it hasn’t proven insufferable. When it comes down to it, I simply hope that I have been an inspiring example to which my brothers can aspire and a close friend on which they can rely. Honor means a great deal to me, and luckily I’ve had the honor of being raised alongside two of the most impressive young men walking the earth.