A New York summer without an airconditioner is a level of hell all its own. I've found myself going to work early so I can bask in corporate coolness, but fortunately the summer news doldrums have hit (apparently on this page as well) so I plan to evacuate, first to Oregon (with Matthew Rose and his beau Kim) and then to the UK until mid-August for work.

If you write in I will intermittently update this page--whenever I get access to a good computer or stop by a cybercafe. Don't forget that the S@IS.fictions page is there if you feel moved to share your summer travel experiences. Readership of these pages is at well over 100 separate visits a week, so don't be shy. We SAISers seem to be a falsely modest lot; frankly, I think we should shed the pretences and reveal all. Go ahead: Kitsch & Tell.

I've just refreshed the Sighs home page, at the brilliant suggestion of Rosa Emilia Moreno, and have read all of the great news from around the globe. I thought it was weird that there had been no new news since October of 1996...my mistake!

It certainly appears that our class has done amazingly well for itself in all categories (love, travel, career,..... ), even though at a recent bruch at Rosa's home in NYC, Mike deLucia, Rosa and I spent the hours detailing the miseries of our lives and jobs...(Beth: I particulalry relate to your "caught-up-in-the-corporate-rat-race-routine- and-I'm-not-sure-why" pitch.

I'm still in NYC, working at Roche, learning a bunch of information and keeping very busy with stuff that is relevant to God only knows, and keeping in touch with a few SAIS-ers. I recently hosted Matthew Scott-Hansen, Jansci Strohmayer and Sophia Verykios at my place in NYC for Matt's Birthday. All are doing well, although they all had to leave on the early side, since I can't hold my liquor and had to retire by 11:00PM. Happily, I have re-connected with Tricia Turner, who I now see when I am in San Fransisco for travel, which is a few times a year. I plan to see Jill Russell, her boyfriend the Marine and their new beach-front home in Monterrey, CA at the end of July. And I'll be seeing Jancsi and Sophia (and a host of others, I'm sure) at their wedding in Athens in September, if not before in London. I wish both Nick Lasagna and Veronique deWeichs deWeinne each wonderful weddings this summer!

Hope eveyone has a good summer, and be sure to call if you travels bring you to Gotham city this summer.

Not that it's as great a story as Craig Jacoby's but I thought it was pretty darned good. (Besides, Adam and I have been dating only 8 months, not 7 years!) What's that, you ask? In case you couldn't figure it out, Adam proposed on Saturday! =) And, in my roundabout way, I said yes.

Here's the story...

On Friday we went to dinner and then to see a movie (my choice -- appropriately, "My Best Friend's Wedding," which is a very good movie -- very well directed and quite funny). Then Saturday found us with various chores -- grocery shopping, he needed a hair cut, etc., etc. Adam had alluded to the fact that we might be traipsing around DC on Saturday, but even some of the best laid plans are foiled by a practical girlfriend insisting that her beau REALLY NEEDS a haircut...

I already had a suspicion that something might be up, so I was prepared. What I expected exactly I didn't know, but I thought a trip out of town was involved (hence the traipsing bit fooled me slightly). By the time the things we HAD to do were done, however, it was already 2 p.m. or so, so we went to my place to grab my camera and he "needed to get something around the corner" so he said I should take my time.

A side bit of info: we had gone to the jeweler around the corner to get my grandmother's engagement ring reset into a pinky ring. Could it have been this that he needed to pick up at the last minute? I wondered...

So I grabbed my camera (Adam said he knew I would want it... hmmm) and a few other things; we had already packed for an overnight trip while at his place (my suspicions were right!) but I needed socks and water bottles (it was hot -- DC, after all, traipsing or no, was fairly sweltering that day).

Then we were on the road. And going. And going. And going. Well, so much for the DC traipse.

Where to? I was so busy chatting I didn't even know what road we were on! You could say we were getting our kicks on 66 (or so it turned out). And, despite traffic (on a Saturday at 3 p.m.?) we made it to our destination -- Front Royal, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley (I think) -- in about an hour and a half. In time to check into the bed and breakfast, marvel at the quaint beauty of the place, relax, and get ready for dinner.

All dressed up and no where to go? Au contraire. In fact, if you ever get to the area, there is a wonderful gourmet restaurant in Flint Hill, Va., called Four and Twenty Blackbirds that has food beyond belief! Phenomenal. Our taste buds were jumping for joy with each course! It was great. But a bit casual and not the typical low-lit, romantic place one thinks of when one plans a proposal. Hmm. Another trick up his sleeve? Indeed.

Dinner was at 6 so we were done by 8, and we continued to drive, and drive, and drive. By 8:30 we reached our destination: Shenandoah National Park's Skyline Drive, and sunset.

After we watched a bit of the display (we could not have asked for a more beautiful sunset!), Adam took me to the side and away from the handful of other sunset-watchers, got down on his knee, and got up the courage to ask me to marry him (as he said, he was trying to think of what to say, but his love for me rendered him speechless, and as I had once told him -- jokingly -- when there's nothing left to say, well, then you get married, no?). He placed the ring -- with his great-grandmother's diamond, which he had had recut in New York unbeknownst to me -- on my finger and waited for my response.

In my own way, I too was speechless -- but as I said, prepared. I reached into my purse (a larger one for the occasion, unbeknownst to my love) and pulled out a little bag with a wrapped box, which he fumblingly opened (he was shaking a bit, but so was I), and inside was a golden watch I bought a few weeks before and had engraved on the back to read, "Adam, Yours for all time, Monica." And after he read it, then I said yes.

So then we hugged and kissed and swatted away the bugs that were attacking us, and then, in a surprise move, he got back down on his knee and said, "You know what, I enjoyed this so much, I'm going to do it again." And he pulled from his other pocket the little box with my grandmother's reset diamond ring, and placed it on my right little finger.

Then he popped another surprise -- a small bottle of champagne he was chilling in ice in a pot in his trunk! -- and we toasted and sipped and continued to watch the sunset. We quickly returned to his car so the bugs would stop attacking us -- and as we were talking a couple of deer nonchalantly walked up and started eating nearby. An omen? Probably not, but it was a wonderful way to top off a wonderful evening.

And that, more or less, is the rest of the story.

As for dates, we just finalized May 10, 1998, here in DC. Also, I am moving by the end of this month, so you can put us in your address book (snail mail, that is) as:

Monica Neal and Adam Hertzman 2102 North Scott Street #109 Arlington, VA 22209

703-875-8165 (MCI, for those who care)

For those who have already heard, thanks from both of us for all the congratulations and thoughtful wishes.

And to all, take care, have a great week, and have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Ciao, Monica (and Adam)