Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How to Fix a Terrible, No-Good, Awful Day

I am officially a hater of Tuesdays and Thursdays. Not through any real fault of the days themselves, but rather due to 7 1/2 hours of class followed generally by about 2-3 hours of work. Today's stress load was only exacerbated by the fact that I found out about a semi-large homework assignment only hours before it was due (leaving me literally only about an hour and a half between classes to complete it), the fact that I got six points marked off an "Opportunity" (the Education Department's laughable new jargon for an exam) that shouldn't have been marked off, and a particularly depressing group activity in my second-to-lass class, when I was placed with two of the most dominant personalities in the classroom. Any one of these things would not have been a big deal on any other day, but Tuesdays and Thursdays just can't hold much more stress than they already do--it's like shaking up a Dr. Pepper bottle right before opening it and hoping it won't explode: it just doesn't work. Something had to be done. I came home a cranky mess, with a buzzing brain and a serious craving for ice cream. Matt said he wanted a Fat Boy. So we cooked up a plan--in the fifty-five minutes left to us before our dinner group started, we would go on a high adventure out to Richmond to find the mysterious Fat Boy factory, which I've been hearing off and on for the six years I've been a Logan-ite.

We set out to find it, without a map and with hardly more than an address. After a wrong turn that led us down to a bunch of cows, we finally found the mystical factory of fun and Fat Boys and bought ourselves a box of 50 Fat Boy rejects for only $14. Yes folks, you heard correctly--$14 (including tax). I now have 48 Fat Boys stacked back to missing back on our freezer door, just waiting for another no good, awful day (i.e. Thursday).

So there you have it folks: the perfect recipe to destress your day--a whole lotta sugar and a really amazing bargain.

Oh, and we went to the gym after. That didn't hurt either :)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Change It Up - Westerns

This week's Change It Up Challenge begins with a confession--I am a selfish movie watcher. While Matt is benevolent and broad-minded in his movie-watching tolerance (as evidenced by the fact that he watched the 4-hour version of Jane Eyre with me this weekend without complaint), I am downright stubborn in the types of movies that I will watch with a pleasant attitude. Among other types of films, I currently refuse to watch any war movie, most horror movies, and Planet Earth documentaries. I know, I'm highly uncultured.

Matt has always loved Westerns and has been trying to convince me to watch them for many a moon...one time he even succeeded by bribing me into watching Silverado with my sister Sarah and her husband Jared (which inevitably involved lots of ice cream and a free dinner to boot, so how could I say no?). I somehow got horribly lost within about the first ten minutes and spent half the movie trying to figure out what was going on. The second attempt was only a couple months ago, when he put in My Name is Trinity after lobbying for it in my family's annual Christmas white elephant gift exchange. I was dead asleep about twenty minutes in.

But, as it so often does, my guilt for my behavior started to catch up to me...Matt has watched almost nothing but chick flicks with me for about the last six months, so I figured it was time to give him a break. I saw that True Grit had finally made it into the discount theater here (which Matt has wanted to see since it was released), and I decided to be self-sacrificial and suggest that we make a date of it. So hand in hand we went on Friday night, ready to be wowed by wild outlaws and beautiful belles. What we ended up with was a mostly-entertaining flick with a strong female lead (always a plus), an appropriate mix of suspense and comic relief, and a story line that even I could follow. What we also ended up with was both of us closing our eyes during some overly-graphic violent scenes, when a man's fingers get cut off and his partner gets a shot in the face at close range. I've also always hated the way American Indians are portrayed in such films, and this one was no exception. But, for a Western, I had to say it's the best I've seen. Out of all two and a fifth that I've actually viewed, that is.

Change It Up Successful? Well, I feel less guilty now, so that's always a success. And Matt has finally watched a legitimate man movie, so that's always good. As for whether I'm permanently changed in my attitude toward Westerns...well, I'd have to give them a heck of a lot more of a chance to find out...Matt will be happy about that at any rate :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sneak Peek

Shhhh....here's a sneak peek at one of the pictures from our bridal/groomal session. Love it!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Change It Up - Fail

For my eight or so faithful readers out there, No, I have not forgotten about nor given up on my Change It Up Challenges. Last week I had a valid excuse - I was on spring break, which therefore meant that I was on spring break from all of my blogging responsibilities as well :) . And this week, I had actually planned a Change It Up Challenge, but I backed out of it at the last minute. You see, this might come as a surprise to some of you, but I have never before gone in to get a manicure. I did go in and get fake nails one time (which made me vow that I would never do such a silly thing again when I painfully had to rip them all off without acetone about 2 1/2 weeks later), but other than that, I have never had my natural nails done. The last time I painted my nails any color period (other than clear) was 9 years ago, when I was 15. I painted them navy blue for my sister's wedding and thought they looked so ugly that I vowed that I would never paint my nails ever again.

Well, my bitter loathing against nail polish on my fingernails had apparently subsided quite a bit, considering that I was planning on going in and getting them done for my bridals yesterday. But I didn't end up going. Why? Well, the reasons are mysterious, even to me. I technically had the money to do it, but I kept reasoning that I didn't--that there were too many other important things to spend it on (a weak argument, considering that I dropped another $35 at Borders buying more books that will only be added to my To-Be-Read Stack, that has grown dangerously high and now contains perhaps close to 100 books). I reasoned that I didn't have the time, even though I somehow managed to scrape together enough minutes to watch a couple episodes of What Not To Wear and play Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. But I guess overall, the reason that finally won out was this--well, there were two: I figured that they wouldn't really be seen in the pictures anyway (partially true), and two, they're not really "me." Why would I go and spend time and money to get something done to me that I never had really done before, and would probably never do after? Long story longer, I didn't go, and I'm not sorry about it. Except I feel like a bum for opting out of my own challenge this week.

So sorry, you eight readers out there, for cheating you out of the pleasure of reading my CIU Challenge two weeks in a row. I am scum. I grovel at your knees, begging for forgiveness. Pretty please forgive me??

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book #7 - Stargirl

Title: Stargirl
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Pages: 186

Stargirl is quirky, peculiar, and nothing like the rest of the students at Mica High School; she plays the ukulele, she cheers for the opposing team in addition to her own, she carries a pet rat with her wherever she goes. And she falls in love with the quiet, behind-the-scenes Leo Borlock. After a sudden rise and sickening drop in popularity, Stargirl and Leo finally fall into the magic of first love. But despite Leo's returning of her affections, he is disturbed by her strangeness and finally convinces her to do the very opposite of what makes her so special: conform. What follows is the story of one man's lesson learned a decade too late, and the girl who taught it to him so profoundly.

This book is a miracle, a warm breath of spring air packaged into a mere 186 pages. This book speaks to the soul as it artfully delves into the mystery of identity, the beauty of individuality, and most of all, the courage it takes to be different. I feel like Stargirl will live on forever, her legacy waiting to touch generations today and generations to come. My heart overflowed as I read this simple but powerful story, and I had to cut off the tears more than once as I meandered through the depths that Spinelli has created with such simple language. Though categorized as a young adult novel, Stargirl is a book that all ages should read, to re-discover once again that it's okay to be different.

Good quote: "Star people are rare...I think every once in a while someone comes along who is a little more primitive than the rest of us, a little closer to our beginnings, a little more in touch with the stuff we're made of...you'll be lucky to meet another" (177).

My Rating: Five Stars

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring Break?

Sorry that I haven't posted in awhile, folks--I am officially on spring break. Although you'd never know by looking at what Matt and I have done this week...basically our week has just been one crazy-long wedding to-do list. People keep telling us to enjoy all the stress of it, but I personally won't mind when it's all over. At least we've gotten most of the big stuff out of the way and done with.

But check out how cute---Matt felt bad because I felt pretty sick after my doctor appointment yesterday, so he took me to a candy store so we could find some Charleston Chews (my favorite), took me out to Winger's for some hamburger love, and then did not put up any fight or emit any sarcastic responses when I said that I wanted to watch America's Next Top Model and Shedding for the Wedding. Now THAT'S true love.

And speaking of love, we really loved the way our engagement pictures turned out--I'll try and post some of those on here as soon as we get all the edited ones from Chelsee (of Chelsee Hanna Photography). So I'll keep you posted.

Until then, Matt and I decided to take a one-hour fun trip to the used book store on Main Street and to Marie Callendar's to pick up some Banana Cream Pie. Peace out!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Change It Up Challenge - Journal Writing Prompts

I still remember my first journal--a hot pink binder with my name written in calligraphy, given to me by my dad, who always taught me that I should record down my thoughts. I was six. I've been keeping a journal ever since. Through the years, I've gone through journal phases--times when I wrote every day, times when I went several months without writing, times when I recorded more ideas, times when I recorded more events, journals where I focused on describing people, journals where I focused on describing myself...long story a little bit longer, I am not new at all when it comes to journal writing. So why did I choose to do it at as a Change It Up Challenge? Well, mostly out of guilt. I was super good on my mission to write nearly every day and include a lot of details, but since coming home, I've written sparingly. When I hit the two-month mark of not writing, I decided that something had to be done.

Borders going bankrupt came at a good time for me, then. Last Friday, Matt and I spent a couple hours browsing the forlorn-looking bookshelves, trying to decide what was worth salvaging from the picked-over masses. I had almost convinced myself that I had hit a reasonable price limit when I ran across a book by Stephanie Dowrick called Creative Journal Writing. I promptly placed it on the top of my armload and proceeded to the checkout (well, after browsing all the cooking magazines, which were 40% off).

It was the first book to be eaten up when I got home.


Just kidding. The truth of the matter is that this book has taken the coveted top spot on my Leaning Tower of Books Stack next to my bed (side note about this Leaning Tower--at the beginning of the school year, there was maybe one or two books there. It just goes to show you that even as a poor college student, there's always enough money for books. At least in my world I convince myself that there is). Babbling aside, I start reading this book and the guilt intensifies--I've let an entire TWO MONTHS of my life go undocumented. I am scum.

So to force myself back into the habit, I started doing a prompt-a-day in my journal. Some entries have been more insightful than others, and some have just been to fill a page. But something really curious happened to me this week in the process--all this junk that I've been ruminating about every hour, every day for months now has all of the sudden decided to just simmer quietly on the back burner of my mind instead of boiling all over the place on the big front burner (another side note--I hate how there's only one big burner on our stove. On our literal stove, not on my mind stove, although I guess there's only one big burner there too). Before, when I had journal-writing as more of a habit, I didn't seem to have as much on my mind, or at the very least, I didn't dwell on the same things over and over and over again. Since stopping, it was like a drain getting clogged with handfuls of hair and soap scum and having no Drain-O around. I now know that my journal is my Drain-O. And it's felt pretty great to un-clog.

Change It Up Successful: Very much so. I'm now motivated once again to start recording things down. Thank you Borders!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book #6 - Peony in Love

Title: Peony in Love
Author: Lisa See
Pages: 284

Peony in Love is a story set deep in 17th-century China, where tradition, folklore, and superstition rule the upper and lower classes alike. Peony is sixteen years old and obsessed with the famous opera The Peony Pavilion, which is based around two lovers who are destined to meet but only do so in a dream after two reincarnations. In the opera, the young maiden dies of lovesickness and goes to the afterworld to pay the price of her misdeeds, forever wandering and searching for her lover. After meeting in further dreams, the love between the maiden and her lover grows so strong that it brings the young girl back into the living world to have a second chance at life.

Peony's father makes arrangements for Peony to see the opera in person for the first time on her sixteenth birthday, just a few months before she is to be married to her betrothed husband, whom she has never seen nor met. While viewing the opera, Peony sneaks away for some fresh air and meets a poetic stranger on her family's own pavilion. They spend the three nights of the opera together on the pavilion while the rest of the family is engaged with the performance. After brutally suffering from the idea of her fate to be married to someone not of her own choosing, forever parted from her beloved poet, Peony eventually withers away and dies of lovesickness. Her spirit flies to the afterworld, where she discovers that the necessary rites had not been performed upon her death, dooming her to wander forever, a hungry ghost. What follows is the tragic but hopeful tale of the power of love, even beyond the grave.

This book was phenomenal. The fantastical elements made for an imaginative, artful tale that seemed to break my heart with each page. Lisa See has a gift for making her prose seem like poetry, and each line is delicious in itself to read. One of the ways I know I've found a great book is when I wish I were reading it instead of doing whatever else that I'm doing...this book sucked me in from page one and didn't let me go until the last line, when I was finally able to breathe easily (and happily) from a satisfying ending. I was sad to come to the end, because it meant that there was no more left. And that is something that hasn't happened for quite awhile. I would highly recommend this book for anyone not afraid of some pretty out-there ideas, and for anyone willing to believe that the power of love truly does not end with death.

My Rating: Five Stars

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Present

Last night I remarked in my journal that I've been working on becoming more present lately, a habit that yoga is helping me a lot with. So much of my life is go, go, go that it becomes easy to just scurry around and think about whatever task looms in my near future instead of savoring the tender moments God seems to send me nestled between stressful events. Since Matt and I started our "Photo Walks," I've started noticing the little beauties in nature more, like this incredible sunset from last night. It was so amazing I made Matt come outside with my camera and take pictures of it (since I was heading off to work). Oh, how I'd love a really nice camera so that I could have more fully captured all the colors!!

One of the journal prompts I did this week (more on this coming up in the CIU Challenge #4) was about just writing in the moment. So here's a short excerpt from that:

It's hard to be present when so much is on my mind--hard to notice the warmth under my Braves blanket but the coldness of my un-socked feet, hard to notice the hum of the bathroom fan...even hard to notice the subtle hunger building in my stomach. The room is messy, with a stack of books higher than my bed leaning against the dusty nightstand. Someday I will have the time to read them all.

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