Friday, November 30, 2007

100 more things about me, part the second

51. I really hate having my hair in my face. That, along with my 3.5 head, is why I haven't had bangs since age 6.
52. Another way to squick me out is to force me to stick my hands in dirty cold slimy dishwater. UGH!
53. I have only for a brief period of time ever lived in a place with a functional dishwasher (I'm not including the co-op here, which had an industrial dishwashing machine thingy).
54. Dark chocolate and red wine are two of my favorite things to consume together.
55. I've always liked the name Sam for a boy, but Dan doesn't like that name. Sniff.
56. My sleep is generally restless if I wear socks to bed. Which is unfortunate, because my feet are nearly always cold.
57. Sometimes it is difficult for me to determine my opinion on a controversial or political issue because I have a hard time not seeing both sides.
58. A very small part of me would like to get a tattoo, but I've never been able to think of anything that I would be OK having on my body permanently.
59. I think it would be really cool to get mehendi (henna tattoos) for the wedding but I wouldn't want anyone to feel like I was inappropriately co-opting someone else's cultural tradition.
60. After a bad bout of stomach flu in high school, the first solid food I felt like eating after two weeks of being sick and drinking soup was a grilled cheese sandwich with pepperoni in it.
61. I didn't like fish or most vegetables until college, when I had them prepared in different ways than my mom prepared them. Now, there are very few types of either that I dislike.
62. During the one taekwondo class I took in college, I advanced to yellow belt with green stripe.
63. Someday, I would love to pick and eat a ripe green fig again. I haven't tasted one of those since I was 10 years old.
64. Once, in seventh grade, I fleetingly wished to be 5'10 and thin with gorgeous skin so I could be a model. I got over that pretty quickly.
65. Also in seventh grade, I had a pretty high bowling average.
66. There used to be four moles on my neck, but one disappeared so now there are only three.
67. My toes are somewhat prehensile.
68. In middle school I won the geography bee, beating out a mean-ol' 8th grader. My prize was a globe. They gave me a test to see if I was good enough to compete on a more area-wide level, but I was not.
69. The next year, I lost the geography bee to a 6th grader. I am still somewhat ashamed.
70. Sometimes I wish I weren't so practical. You know those people who buy things on a whim, spur of the moment, hang the budget? Yeah, not me.
71. "Fart" was considered a bad word in my family (meaning, we weren't allowed to say it), and it's probably the only "bad" word I use on a daily basis.
72. I used to eat wild oats off the stalk. It's a lot of work for not very much food, but when they are ripe they're really tasty.
73. I also used to eat raw oatmeal with milk, sugar and cinnamon. Kind of like one might eat a bowl of cereal, only it was rolled oats.
74. Mostly now I just eat steel-cut oats.
75. Another fond childhood food: eating apricots fresh and ripe and sunny off the tree. MMMM.
76. One year I wore these friendship anklets someone made me at camp until they rotted off. Shaving around them was kind of difficult.
77. If I had to classify my religious beliefs/tenets/etc. I would probably put myself somewhere between agnostic and secular humanist.
78. Sometimes I miss going to church, just a little bit, for the community aspects. Not the God stuff.
79. I don't miss it enough to actually go.
80. The least sexy song (to me) is the Sesame Street theme song.
81. I used to meditate in high school, but I haven't done it in a really long time.
82. Overall, I consider myself to be a pretty well-adjusted person (aside from a few specific issues)
83. If given the choice, I prefer even numbers to odd. If odd, they have to be easily divisible by 3 or 5.
84. I cannot imagine thinking in pictures. I am words all the way.
85. If presented with written material or music with lyrics I will read the writing or listen to the lyrics. I am that drawn to language. I can't even study listening to music that has words I understand.
86. I dropped my little sister on her head when she was a baby. Yes, it was an accident. No, she doesn't have any lingering issues. I don't think.
87. Memorizing my times tables was probably the most difficult hurdle I had to overcome during my school career (not counting that awful chemistry class in college).
88. Someday, I would like to live in another country, even if just for a little while.
89. I skipped second grade, and while I don't regret it now, sometimes I think it would have been a lot less stressful for everyone if I hadn't. It took until I was about 16 or so to get past the social and emotional drama that created.
90. They say that having a lot of money can create more problems than it's worth, but I say let me have the opportunity first and I'll give you my opinion on that subject.
91. However, I'm really not interested in trying to become rich. If it happens, sweet. If not, oh well.
92. I really really wish I were more photogenic.
93. I also wish I had straight, white teeth.
94. My sister is both photogenic and has naturally straight, white teeth, but I don't wish I were my sister.
95. My best dreams are the ones where I am flying.
96. Once I spent an entire March 17 looking for a four-leaf clover in our backyard. I didn't find one.
97. I acquired a pen pal in high school by answering an ad in a Piers Anthony newsletter. We wrote letters for years but didn't meet until 2004, ten years after we started writing to one another. He and his girlfriend are coming to the wedding!
98. Of saunas and steam rooms, I am not really a fan.
99. My favorite class in college was about the brain and drugs.
100. Though I like the smell, lavendar makes me sneezy and wheezy and itchy.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

100 more things about me, part 1

Last year for NaBloPoMo I did a "100 things about me" for the last two posts of the month. I'm going to do the same thing this year. Because it's my blog, and by definition kind of narcissistic.

1. I have a lot of scars, but I've never broken a bone.
2. I don't have any tonsils or adenoids. They got removed when I was five.
3. In Advanced Biology in high school, we had to dissect cats. My lab partner and I named our cat "it." I left the room when the jaw cracking part happened because I thought I might throw up.
4. Other than that, I liked all of the dissecting we did, both of cats and other critters.
5. The scariest movie I ever saw was the animated version of "The Hobbit." I think I was three when I saw this, and I had nightmares about Gollum for most of my childhood.
6. I miss being able to climb trees.
7. I lost a shoe one time in the American River. I was a little heartbroken.
8. I didn't learn anything from my high school physics/chemistry teacher.
9. I doubt anyone else did, either. He wasn't a good teacher at all.
10. Another one of my high school teachers was well known for giving out higher grades to girls who wore short skirts and flirted with him.
11. My As in that class were all merit-based.
12. Most scented things (candles, inscence, air fresheners, perfume, body products) give me headaches.
13. I'm allergic to every product Bath and Body Works makes. I have had to give away every gift of B&BW merchandise I've received.
14. I used to write really bad poetry. But then, I bet most people did.
15. The most amusing thing I ever wrote was a radio play about Barney, the Irish Purple Monkey. I still have it.
16. I helped to start both the Fine Arts Club and the speech/debate club at my high school.
17. The only time I ever went to Las Vegas, I did not enjoy myself. It sucks to be 18 in Vegas and unable to do anything.
18. Two different boys have called me from airplane phones.
19. Two other boys have sent me roses for Valentine's Day.
20. Our upstairs neighbors keep their money in a jar on a bookshelf, rather than in a bank. I feel this is unwise.
21. It really annoyed me when the boys with whom I was babysat could whip it out and pee on our walk home from the bus stop, but I couldn't.
22. One year I got three different necklaces and a Hello Kitty jewelry box for Christmas, and it was pretty much the best Christmas ever.
23. I still have one of the necklaces. It's an ivory pendant with a picture of a fawn painted on it.
24. In high school, I played a french maid, a girl who recites Shakespeare, a beauty shop assistant, and Puck in various productions. I did not play Wilbur the Pig, though I really wanted to.
25. Bad things happened to me on stage twice. Once, I cut my hand on a broken porcelain cat (one of the props for a play) and I bled all over the stage and had to clean it up during intermission. I still have a little scar. The other time, I got really sick during the run of the show and I lost my voice on stage.
26. I find genetics and reproductive technology to be fascinating subjects.
27. Somewhere in my mom's house is the stuffed rabbit I got from Victor Davis' Teddy Bear House in San Francisco.
28. I used to be allergic to citrus fruit and coconut/palm products, but I grew out of those allergies.
29. I am still allergic to eggplant.
30. There might be a flask strapped to my leg with a garter under my wedding dress.
31. Then again, there might not be. I haven't decided yet.
32. I used to have all the lyrics to Ice Ice Baby memorized. Don't even ask why.
33. In college, I discovered a really good dessert could be concocted in the dining commons by putting some marshmallows on top of a bowl of rice krispies (or similar puffed cereal), nuking it for 20 seconds, and stirring it around. Instant nonfat rice krispie treat! It wasn't until later, when I made it at my co-op, that I realized what a bitch it was to clean up. Sorry, dining commons dishwasher people.
34. Sometimes I crave the chocolate Costco muffins, cut up into pieces, warmed in the microwave and spread with margarine. Yes, sometimes I ate this in high school. No, I haven't eaten it since then.
35. I think brussels sprouts taste and smell like feet.
36. Two of my favorite words are bromadrosis and phantasmagoria.
37. Two of my least favorite words are moist and panties.
38. The highest fever I ever had (105.5F) was due to cutting 6-year molars.
39. My favorite kind of snow is the big ploofy kind.
40. If you want me to get grossed out and have chills down my spine, make me clean the scales off fish, or rub a bunch of cotton balls on my skin. Eeeegh!
41. I would love the challenge of being plunked down in a strange city where I didn't know the language and be forced to navigate my way around. Kind of like that guy on Man vs. Wild, only it would be Girl vs. City.
42. Dan and I have talked about trying out for the Amazing Race, but we know we're not pretty enough to get on TV.
43. Sometimes I'm still a little afraid of the dark. This is never the case when Dan is in the bed with me.
44. I had a huge crush on one boy for most of middle school. And maybe a little bit of high school. Then, the other girl with my name dated him so I completely lost interest.
45. Having not painted my toenails since September, I believe it is the longest I have gone without polish on them in at least seven years.
46. There aren't any dimples on my face, but there are two on my lower back.
47. When I was 14 I figured that I would never find someone who loved me. Turns out I was wrong.
48. When I give blood, sometimes I try to imagine who might end up with my donation. I also wonder what it feels like to have someone else's blood in your body.
49. My favorite gelato flavors are rose and tiramisu.
50. One of the things I am most looking forward to about our trip to Italy is eating gelato. Yes, even though it's going to be cold outside. I don't care!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wednesday wedding day

Tomorrow it will be four months to the day until the wedding. On the one hand, I feel like we've already accomplished so much, and the rest is mostly details that will get figured out in time. On the other hand, part of me is completely freaking out that everything isn't done already and I so do not want things to be last-minute. Then I think about the people who have planned their entire weddings, start to finish, in four months (or less!). Then I think about how glad I am that we've had a reasonably long engagement, because if we tried to plan everything in such a short period of time I might go insane.

One of the things I wanted to focus on, going into this wedding, was to make decisions with some meaning behind them. We're going local as much as possible with food, doing a lot of things ourselves, and paying people to work so our friends/family don't have to. The big crafty project I'm working on normally requires paper, lots and lots of paper. I'm attempting to complete the entire project using solely recycled material (namely, old calendars). That way, it will look a little different than similar projects done by other people, and also we won't have killed any extra trees. As it is, weddings are pretty paper-heavy - we saved some paper by sending out save-the-dates via email, and I think our thank-you notes will be on recycled paper. Dan's outfit is one he has been planning to wear for his wedding since long before he even met me. So yeah, a lot of the things we're doing are meaningful to us - down to the wine and beer we'll be serving.

I've blogged before about the place where we're getting hitched, but I haven't written much about why it's a meaningful location for me. When we first got engaged I never imagined we'd be able to get married there because I had no idea there was such thing as "member sponsorship." My best friend's parents have been members of the place for the entire time they've known me, 26 years, and I spent many childhood days playing there. It was a little more rustic back then; the door to the men's locker room was right behind the bar, and the bathrooms were just cement walls and floors. We'd spend hours swimming in the lake, and I have a memory of the first time I managed to swim out to the platform and how tired I was when I got there, staying on the platform until I felt like I could swim back. There's a picture in an album somewhere of my sister in a bathing suit and orange life vest, about to go canoeing around the lake with some family friends. When friends had birthday parties, sometimes we'd head over to the club to play on the playground or build sand castles. Several of my friends in elementary school lived in the neighborhood, so we pretty much had free access to the place.

I don't know if I can describe how happy I was when I found out my best friend's parents would sponsor us, to allow us to have our wedding at the club - and not only that, but so much of the things we needed were included in the low member price. We don't have to rent chairs or tables, glassware or plates or silverware. Our caterers don't need to bring coffee urns. Not only are we supremely lucky that we get to use this place, not only is it beautiful (how could it not be, with a lake, and a beach, and a lawn, and the old trees, and the hills behind?), but it's a place that has true meaning to me, something that makes me think of happy childhood days. After hearing about what difficulties my sister had in finding a venue for her wedding, and after tons of internet research to figure out if there was even a place in the county we could afford to have our wedding, I am just so amazingly grateful that our venue worked out the way it did.

Of course, not everything can be meaningful. We picked our photographer because he takes great pictures, we like him and he's giving us a great deal. And our cake is going to be cake that tastes good and doesn't cost $10/slice, because a) we can't afford that, and b) who needs fancy cake? Still, I think we've done pretty well so far. Our officiant is a good friend, our rings will include a symbol that holds meaning for us both, and the playlist for the reception is comprised of great songs that we like, have meaning, and will be fun for dancin'. It may not all coordinate or match or be the same shade of mauve, but it'll be fun and it'll be ours.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas TV shows kind of make me feel like a little kid

While I'm a little annoyed that they played it before it's even December, I just got more than my fair share of enjoyment out of the Charlie Brown Christmas special. This year I got to see bits and pieces of both the Halloween and Thanksgiving specials as well. I'm not entirely sure why this makes me so happy, but it really does.

I also look forward to How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the animated one with Tony the Tiger singing the Grinch song), the Rankin-Bass specials (Rudoph, Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, Frosty the Snowman etc.) and, of course, Ralphie shooting his eye out. Not having cable, there are definitely years where I don't get to see these things. However, I take the opportunity whenever possible. I've still got fond childhood memories of all of these Christmas TV shows and I kind of wonder what adults have been thinking the last 20 years, because I can't think of any good Christmas TV shows/movies that have come out since my childhood. The live-action Grinch movie (the Jim Carrey one) is OK (I know Dan will rend his garments with rage when even reading the name of the thing), and there are a few movies I associate with Christmas (like A Series of Unfortunate Events), but I can't really think of any good TV specials or whatnot. Everything I've seen has been entirely too schmaltzy (and I haven't seen Elf or Bad Santa). Kids these days, they're missing out.

I'm not a huge fan of most Christmas music, but I own a copy of Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack and it goes into regular rotation during the month of December. When the special is on TV, I get up and dance in my living room while the kids dance to "Linus and Lucy" and I totally dance just like they do. I don't care who is watching.

Things that have amused me this week

Loki is now approximately twice Petra's size, but he still tries to squish himself in to the space where she's curled up. Sometiems when he does this he can convince her to give him a head bath; other times he's just trying to annoy her so she'll get up and he can have the space she was occupying. Petra has decided this is her Warm Spot; it's cold out now and there's a heating register on the other side of the door opposite this weird little corner. The heat goes under the door and ends up on Petra. She likes warm spots.

Loki just likes to be where Petra is.

At the grocery store yesterday, I found this alien living amongst the parsnips. I think it's genetically similar to a squid, but obviously it lives just fine on land. It appears to be not entirely sure why it ended up living with root vegetables at the grocery store, but perhaps someone will buy it and take it home to make soup out of, and the alien can secretly creep into the person's room in the night and eat her brains, then inhabit her body and she'll be a Pod Parsnip Person. I will not become a Pod Parsnip Person, because I didn't buy the alien.

Monday, November 26, 2007

a meme for Monday, eight-style

EEK tagged me, and since I've been knitting and crafting rather than reading much this week, I'm going to post said meme.

8 passions in my life

*Reading books that make me think, sigh in contentment, or both
*Eating tiramisu everywhere I travel (within logic, of course; I didn't try to find tiramisu in China)
*Knitting things to keep people warm/things that are useful
*Dipping my toes in the ocean whenever I have the opportunity and contemplating the enormity of just our planet
*Baking things from scratch and having them turn out deliciously
*Dancing at every appropriate occasion, without regard to who's watching or whether anyone else is dancing

8 things to do before I die

*Visit all 50 states
*See the pyramids (both Egypt and Central/South America)
*learn to snowboard
*learn to take photographs I am proud to display
*own some land
*win a blue ribbon at a county fair for something I created
*marry my best friend
*accomplish something I can truly be proud of - not sure what that is yet

8 things I often say

*mmmmmm (in response to eating a yummy dinner Dan has made me)
*I'm naked!
*That's my ____ (insert part Dan has grabbed)
*Oh, the kitties
*Loki, stop!
*I like pie

8 books I read recently

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E Martin
Phantom by Susan Kay
Fledgling by Octavia Butler
Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Watchmen by Alan Moore
Enchantment by Orson Scott Card (reread)

(currently reading Gravedigger's Daughter by Joyce Carol Oates and How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker)

8 songs that hold some meaning for me

"If I had $1,000,000" by the Barenaked Ladies
"What I got" by Sublime
"Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz
"No Rain" by Blind Melon
"Shiny Happy People" by REM
"In My Life" by the Beatles
"Bobcaygeon" by The Tragically Hip
"Superman" by Five for Fighting

8 qualities I look for in a friend

Sense of humor (quirky = good)
passionate about something
likes hugs/is ok with being hugged

8 people I'm tagging to go next


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday Reminiscin' 3: Kitties I have loved

My family always had at least one cat while I was growing up. In fact, there's been a cat where I lived most of the places I've lived in my life. It's difficult to imagine life without Petra and Loki, or without having cats around in general.

My mom had a cat, long before I was born, who was her most favorite cat evar. The cat's name was Ulysses until it turned out to be female (got knocked up) and then the name was changed to Lissa. Lissa was, apparently, the most amazing cat ever to walk the earth - she was potty trained, even (pee, not poop) and my mom loved her so much that years later she named a daughter after the cat. My mom acquired two cats while she was with my Dad before I was born - one named Felta after the school where she worked, and one named Tanka who I barely remember. Felta and Tanka didn't want much to do with little kids, and I think they both died when I was pretty small. Then we got Tai. Tai was a gorgeous little cat, a very dark tortoiseshell who came to us from a family friend, already pregnant (though we didn't know it at the time). When we figured it out, I was pretty excited because I loved kittens. Tai wasn't very old to be having babies, but she figured out what to do when my mom fixed her up a nice bed in an old cardboard diaper box to have her babies in. Being a cat, she decided to have her babies in a place that SHE determined, and one night I woke up to squirming and weird sounds, discovering that Tai had birthed her kittens on my bed on top of my feet. I was six.

Tai's litter wasn't very big, only three babies, but we loved them all. There was a tortie (Pansy, named after the rust-colored spot on her head) and two brownish-gray tabbies (Tiger and Violet). Not long after the kittens were weaned, Tai ate some cat food that somehow some antifreeze had dripped on, and she died. I was very sad. But we still had three kitties to manhandle and love. Tiger didn't stick around for very long, despite being neutered; it was about then that we got a new dog and he didn't like her. So he took off. We were down to two kitties, which was fine. They were both excellent mousers and often left us presents of mice guts on the step outside our front door.

We moved to the next town over when I was ten, and both Pansy and Violet adjusted to a diminished range in which to roam. They also cleared out my mom's yard of lizards and probably a few songbirds. I loved Pansy more than Violet, both because of personality and because Pansy was prettier, but I loved Violet as well. One night in college, I had a dream that Pansy and Violet died, and they spoke to me in the dream to tell me they were fine and happy now. The next day, my mom called to tell me Violet had died (she was 13; it was a respectable age for a mostly outdoor cat).

Pansy lived another three years. She was a Poor Old Kitty when she died, all bones and cold all the time. I loved her a lot and cried when she died. After all, she was born on my bed.

There weren't any kitties in the dorms when I went to college, but my sophomore year I moved into a co-op. One of the people in my house had a kitty named Mia, a big fat gray cat that was probably a Russian Blue. I didn't really love her, but I liked her and she hung out with me sometimes. She liked living in a house with lots of people, I think. When College Boyfriend and several of our friends moved into the Big House together, they got a cat, an orange tabby named Kitty who was probably one of my most favorite kitties ever. He was very special. I helped to raise him from a very small kitten, and he turned into a giant intelligent medium-haired orange tabby who resembled a lion. I kind of hope Leah and Simon's cat Linus turns into another Kitty. Unfortunately, despite my misgivings, the guys who lived in the house thought nothing of letting Kitty come and go from the house. One day he didn't come back. They looked for him for days, in shelters, put up posters, to no avail - either he got hit by a car, or someone else took him in to love him. I hope that second one. He was an awesome cat.

A few years later I moved in with QIR and another friend. QIR had Tasha, dowager princess, a tiny Russian Blue with tiny feet and a weird alien head. Tasha doesn't really like people except QIR very much, but she liked me OK and I did have a dream about her once that led to her return home when she'd been gone for a few weeks. I think I wrote about that before. And then I moved to Denver, and waited about 8 months before getting Petra. She needed a friend, so we got Loki a year later.

My mom has two cats now, another gray-brown tabby (Merlin) and a tabby-tortie type (Ginger). I like them both OK, but since I've never lived with them I've never really developed much of an attachment to them. I'm definitely attached to the kitties we have, and they've been very cute the last few days, snuggling together and bathing each other in a warm spot because it's been so cold out. But someday, I want another orange one. They're awesome.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Saturday Potpourri: A brief history of wine

Today, we received our first ever piece of mail addressed to our new married name that both of us will be taking as of March 29, 2008. Though we won't be able to attend the Old Fashioned Holiday Party (seeing as how we arrive in California five days later), it was still lovely to get an invitation. Thanks, Sara!

I'm coming up a little short today when it comes to posting topics or themes. Dan suggested I write about wine, so here goes.

As most of you know, I grew up in the part of northern California that is considered to be "wine country." The first time I remember really being conscious that all the grapes grown in the area got turned into wine was one fall after the harvest when flocks of starlings kept flying in front of our car, and some of them would land on the road and not really move. One parent or another mentioned how the birds were eating the leftover grapes that had fermented on the vines and were drunk.

Neither of my parents are big drinkers, and the most I ever had to drink before college was a few sips of kahlua. I drank a little bit of wine in college, mostly cheap stuff from boxes or really sweet wine (I believe my first was a white zinfandel, which is the girly punch of wine). I figured I just must not like wine, and would never like it. I do have a memory of a party at the Big House (the house where my college boyfriend, several friends, and I (briefly) lived during the late 90s and early 2000s) wherin we had this big bottle of some sort of white wine and I had two glasses and got really tipsy right before Sara and our friend Christi got there. I didn't like it much then, but I liked it better than the other available options (beer, probably).

It wasn't really until I went to Europe the summer after I graduated college that I really started to like wine. Everyone told me that spending time in Germany would ensure I developed a taste for beer (it didn't, but that's another story entirely), but I did somehow grow a fondness for wine in France and Italy. In fact, it's about all I drank in Europe (other than the aforementioned beer in Munich). That's also when I really started paying attention to varietal, which kinds I liked, which weren't so good for me, etc. When I returned home, I started to really get into wine, going tasting at some of the wineries in the area where I grew up and figuring out which ones were my favorites.

Since then, I've really developed a taste for wine. I know which wines are my favorites (sauvignon blanc,viognier, shiraz/syrah), which ones I shouldn't drink lest I develop an instant headache (merlot), which wineries have the wines I like more than others. I have a deep fondness for Bonny Doon winery, among others in California, but if possible I like to try local wines from various places when I travel. My sister and her fiance brought us back a bottle of white wine from Greece that was awesome; QIR brought a bottle of red from Tuscany in 2002 and we drank it last year. It was fantastic. I'm going to look for the same wine when we're in Italy in January, because I would like to drink more of it.

I started to think about wine and the development of my fondness for it when I was talking to my little sister last week. She's about to turn 21 and doesn't really like wine, though somehow in the last couple of months that has started to change a bit. I told her about how I didn't really like wine until I was about 21, either, and I'm looking forward to going wine tasting with her sometime, maybe when we're out there at Christmas. There's only going to be wine and beer at both our wedding and my middle sister's, so if Laurel wants to get her drink on she's gotta put up with wine. Or beer.

In related news, when we were at the cabin last month I voluntarily drank quite a bit of beer from the Estes Park brewery (called Stinger). I can't explain it, but it didn't have the soapy taste that beer normally puts in my mouth. And when we were in Louisville this past summer, I tried some of Dan's bourbon and didn't get disgusted. I even have a tot or two from time to time of the Old Forester he's keeping around these days. I can't explain why, only that maybe my taste buds are finally maturing. I can't expect that I'll develop a fondness for beer, but I did find one that wasn't completely gross. And bourbon's not so bad. Nor was the scotch Dan drank with his dad the other night (I had a couple of sips). And the 12-year Jameson's Irish whisky I got him a couple of years ago? Yum. I refuse to attempt to like gin, though, so don't even try.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Fitness: Technical difficulties

Monday, I waited all day for the UPS guy, and despite spending the morning doing up-and-around projects, I didn't really exert myself.

Tuesday, I did a full weight circuit and then ten hard minutes on the elliptical at lunchtime. After work, I intended to take the "yoga for athletes". Unfortunately, because of Thanksgiving all of the regular yoga instructors were gone, so every class had a substitute. The yoga for athletes class didn't happen; instead, it was more of an ayengar or something, because the substitute teacher had a baby a few weeks ago and was really excited about doing stuff on her belly. So we held every pose for a long time and there was all kinds of deep stretching. Afterward, I was in some pain.

Wednesday, I went to the gym and did one of their suggested workouts for holiday season; I did ten minutes each on three different cardio machines at almost max capacity, then my normal crunches/leg lifts post cardio bit. We got sent home form wokr at 3 PM which was awesome, and after we got stuff together we drove up to Dan's parents house.

Thursday (yesterday) was cooking all day long. All day. There was a little bit of sitting (during which time I worked on other projects) but mostly, cooking.

Today, there was a lot of sitting. I sat and knitted and stuff all day. I had no energy to go outside to do anything; plus, the high today was 28F.

Dan has assured me he will accompany me to the gym tomorrow when we get home. After all the food we ate yesterday and all the leftovers we ate today, I'm going to need it. My goal (until we get to California) is to work out six days a week, or go to the gym at least two hours three days a week (one hour the other days). There's a dress I need to fit into and winter isn't helping things. I will totally be atoning for these few days of gluttony and this day of sloth. Lucky for Dan, I've pretty much opted against wrath.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Travel Thursday: Non-travel edition

I just have to write about what Dan and I made for Thanksgiving this year.

Some background information:
Seven people attended Thanksgivng dinner, including us and Dan's parents.
Dan's parents bought the groceries and we cooked everything.
We had a great time coming up with a menu.

Our menu? So glad you asked.

Appetizers: Homemade hummus with crushed red pepper and tomato from our garden, with carrots, broccoli and baby tomatoes to dip.
Crescent rolls wrapped around pieces of brie and baked.

First course:
Sweet potato soup, pureed and garnished with roasted pumpkin seeds (pumpkin seeds had salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder)

Second course:
Baby spinach salad with goat cheese, sauteed fennel, pecans and pomegranate seeds, balsamic vinaigrette

Main course:
Roasted turkey (brined for 16 hours before cooking)
Giblet gravy
Mashed potatoes
Parker house rolls
Sage stuffing with hearty bread, celery, dried cranberries, apples, onions
Cornbread stuffing with sausage, celery, onion and bell peppers
Cranberry chutney with apples, mandarin oranges, and a splosh of rum

Pumpkin pie with freshly whipped cream. The pie was made with a hand-processed pie pumpkin

Dan's aunt brought a green beans and peas dish, and his grandma made apple pie. Everything else, we did. The two biggest projects of Dan's were the homemade chicken stock (for the soup, the gravy, and the two kinds of stuffing) and the gravy. He also did all of the turkey, the rolls (from scratch), and the cornbread stuffing (including baking the cornbread). The potatoes were a joint effort. I made the brie rolls, the hummus, the soup, the sage stuffing, the cranberries, and the pie. Much wine was consumed; many leftovers were put in various and sundry countainers. And I am completely stuffed.

I miss my family on days like this. Nowadays, my family's holidays are much more peaceful and fun. But we'll be there for quite a while at Christmastime. And Dan and I had a most excellent time devising our menu, and working together to get all of the elements of our meal together to be done at approximately the same time (the rolls and pie were baked last night). We make a good team.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday Wedding Day: I've been to some weddings

The first wedding I remember attending was that of my youngest aunt. I was about four and was one of four flower girls (my other cousins around my age also had that honor). Each family had a color; my family's color was yellow so my dress was yellow. It was a Catholic ceremony, so there was a lot of standing and sitting and kneeling, and I remember very little of the reception other than lots of balloons and running around with my cousins.

The weirdest wedding I ever attended was that of my cousin who is about six months older than I am. We were both 18 at the time and she and her boyfriend had decided that since their best friends got married, they could do it as well. The church was in a fancy suburb of San Diego; it said JESUS in giant gold letters both on the outside of the big church and also inside above the altar. During the ceremony, much was discussed about Jesus being the center of their relationship, and also people were asked if they accepted Jesus as their personal savior. I didn't raise my hand. My sister and other cousins that weren't of the born-again branch were a little weirded out by the whole thing. We got to eat rubber chicken and they did the dollar dance. Mostly I was just completely blown away that my cousin, my same age, was ready (and willing) to Get Married. Geez. I was having the time of my life in college; why would I possibly want to tie myself down to someone like she did?

I've been to weddings for two of Dan's cousins (one in California at a winery, one in Colorado in the mountains) since we've been together (both were very nice weddings). I've been to church weddings and non-church weddings; weddings with booze and shindigs completely dry. I've been to two other my-cousin weddings (one Jesusy, one where Jesus was not invited) and a few friend weddings. One of them had deer wandering around behind the gazebo during the ceremony, but the reception was just OK (make-your-own sandwiches, no booze, uninspired music). One of the best weddings I've been to (in terms of events and also just overall atmosphere and ambience) was that of my friend Sara, who got married several years ago and I still remember the food, who was there, and how cool the rain sounded outside while we inside were cozy and warm and happy to see Sara and Ron get all marrified. I know it was kind of a bummer for them, since they were expecting to have an outdoor garden wedding, but I can't imagine any day better than the one they had. Plus afterward, they had an after-party at Sara's mom's house, and Sara wore this gorgeous white suit. I kind of drooled a little. I only hope our wedding is as awesome as theirs was.

When approaching wedding planning for our wedding, Dan and I only had the weddings we'd attended to go on when deciding what to do and what not to do. We knew that our biggest priority (other than the actual getting married bit) was to make sure our guests had a good time; that we throw a good party. So no long wait between ceremony and reception. Open bar (wine and beer; we're not made of money!) No long, drawn-out ceremony. I wanted to get married outside, and our venue provides both indoor and outdoor possibilities (can't discount rain; we're getting a tent to shelter the outdoor part in case of inclement weather - our wedding is 2 weeks before Sara's was, calendar-wise). We're not spending a lot of time, effort, or money on froofy stuff that will never be used again - I can't remember many favors I've gotten at weddings that have actually been worthwhile, other than a mix cd and soap, so we're just not doing them. Nothing is being thrown; nobody is being given away, no veils will be lifted, and Jesus can come if he likes but he's not getting an invitation. We've been working for months on a most excellent playlist, as we both have years of experience making mix tapes/cds, setting the mood for a good, fun, danceable party (no DJ to make people stop dancing because he's playing too much ____).

But part of me is worried, I guess. Worried that our plans are less traditional than people expect, worried that people won't enjoy themselves. So much of what I read online about other people's weddings involves what they want or what their families want; is it weird for us to consider our guests? Or are we focusing too much on other people? I had my first wedding anxiety dream in a while last weekend. In the dream, all kinds of little things were going wrong - I hadn't seen my dress since I ordered it, and when my sister pulled it out for me to put it on, the accent color was the wrong color. No big deal, right? Except nobody had made my bouquet, so I had to recruit someone to make it and teach her how to make it while doing my own hair and makeupw. Everyone started arriving, and I was nowhere close to ready - my hair wasn't done; I'd forgotten my wedding shoes so I had to find some other ones that might suffice. The photographer was late and didn't show up until after the ceremony was supposed to start. In the middle of everything, my dad wouldn't leave me alone, giving me a card and insisting I read it while I was trying to get ready and herd cats and whatever else needed doing.

Of course, in real life, stuff will either go wrong or it won't. If my dress is wrong, I'll deal. If the photographer is late, there will be other people with cameras. Someone (me? maybe) will be making bouquets the day before; I don't want much and it won't be complicated. Someone needs to tell my subconscious that whatever happens, it will still be a good day (even if it rains, right Sara?) as long as we're married in the end, and people have a good time. We can't afford a fancy photo booth or a mariachi band that takes requests or a magician or fancy personalized everything. It's not going to be matchy-matchy or Martha-Stewart-y. We hope it will be full of love and joy, with people who love and care about us, and we hope a fun time will be had by all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Literary Monday: Tuesday edition

The other library book I got a week or two ago was The Blood of Flowers, by Anita Amirrezvani. I read it in a few bursts, but once I really got into it I think I read the entire last 150 pages in one stint. A winding good yarn, it was, set in 17th century Iran and centering around the life of a young unnamed girl. A comet bodes evil for the following year, and it seems as though everything that's going to go wrong due to the comet goes wrong for the girl and her family. After tragedy strikes, she and her mother must leave their village and live with distant relatives in a big city. During the course of a year, the girl makes a friend, grows up in more ways than one, and discovers her calling, rug knotting and design, a passion both shared and encouraged by her uncle.

Prior to reading this book, I knew nothing about 17th century Iran or about what life might have been like for a girl growing up in this time. The most interesting aspects of the story involved the cutural and historical details, though some of the events seem a little far-fetched - perhaps to echo the stories told as legends throughout the book. According to the author's note, most of the stories used in the book are retellings of age-old tales, woven in amongst the plot of the book. There's sex, there's poverty, there's description of beautiful Persian rugs and how they come to be. It's not exactly a difficult read, but it was enjoyable and I was satisfied in the end. Not one I'll re-read, but definitely worthwhile for all the cutural and historical stuff if nothing else.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Monday mental health day

Our dinner party last night was a roaring success. The ceviche, black bean soup, fresh bread and Mexican hot chocolate were all delicious; the 4 (!) bottles of wine we had were also delicious, yet also troublesome in that some of the wine got on our fancy tablecloth. Internets research says to use equal parts soap and hydrogen peroxide to get the stain out; it has been soaking in cold water since last night.

One of the bottles we had was this year's beaujolais. We tried it two years ago and found it delicious; last year's vintage was rather disappointing. At the liquor store on Saturday, it was on sale so we decided to give it a shot - and, in my opinion , it was even better than two years ago. We'll have to pick up some more while it's still available. We also got some faux kahlua so I could indulge the craving for white Russians I've had for the past few weeks (I make them with vodka, kahlua and nonfat evaporated milk - you get the creamy texture in the drink without the dairy fat that hurts my tummy). I have fond childhood memories of kahlua; it's the only drink I really remember my parents drinking (other than my dad's occasional Red Tail Ale) and it was a drink that my dad made at home in the ancient Old Granddad bottle on the cherry wood stand my parents got for a wedding gift. I never really drank it until college (I never drank anything until college) but I got to have sips of kahlua after my dad's yearly batch was ready. He and my mom drank it with half and half on ice in wine glasses at Christmas time.

So this morning we had a clean house except for our very messy kitchen, and I decided that rather than having that mess hang over my head all day I would just clean it first thing. Which I did. I washed and Dan dried, and because it had been clean before dinner it wasn't too bad. After that I had the whole rest of the day to work on projects - some of which I did, others of which I couldn't because I spent hours this afternoon waiting for the UPS guy (had a package needing a signature being delivered; the note said delivery between 2 and 5; he came at 6:45). So what did I end up doing?

1. Cleaned kitchen (with Dan's help)
2. Took shower
3. Processed sugar pumpkin (cut in half, baked in pan with water until soft, pureed in food processor in many batches, let sit over cheesecloth-covered colander for about six hours, squeezed remaining water out through several layers of cheesecloth). I will use this pumpkin to make the pie for Thursday's dinner.
4. Organized in Petra's room (that's what we call our second "bedroom" which is too small to actually have a bed in most of the time, so it's really our project/art/storage room). Petra likes to hang out in there, so it is her room.
5. Spent several hours waiting for UPS guy; while waiting I got a good amount done on the wedding project that I'm doing using old calendars.
6. Also while waiting, I watched some of the DVD extras from the Fellowship of the Ring (fancy edition) that I hadn't seen since the fancy edition came out.

Despite my frustration with the UPS guy, I feel like I got a lot done. I really wish he'd come by five so I could have gone to the gym. At least I was mostly active today and didn't do too much sitting. Tomorrow I'm going to have to atone by gymming for 2 hours. That's OK; I need the exercise.

Oh, and when we went to the grocery store yesterday afternoon, we had the oddest list of items ever, I think: lemon, milk, salt, drain cleaner. The last of the salt from the salt container I bought when I moved to Colorado finally ran out earlier this week. That means it took nearly 5 years for us to go through a thing of salt. I guess that means we don't use much.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday reminscin' 3: The year my dad cooked Thanksgiving dinner

Picture it: Northern California, 1986. I was seven; my sister was four. It was late November and my mom was extraordinarily pregnant with our youngest sibling. Some years we went to Southern California for Thanksgiving to visit with my dad's family, but that year my mom was too pregnant to travel. She was due to give birth sometime in the first week of December.

My mom, ever prepared, had done quite a bit of the Thanksgiving food shopping already. I'm not entirely sure how she did it every year, but the years we stayed home and didn't have T-day with relatives, my mom managed to cook an entire Thanksgiving meal in our tiny kitchen with no working oven (we had a stovetop and a large toaster oven; it is, actually, possible to cook a turkey in a toaster oven). Just imagine the work and preparation it took to cook all that food with a toaster oven, baking one thing at a time: pies, stuffing, turkey, all the elements that needed to come together to have dinner done on time. I was just starting in on my personal learning-to-cook journey (I was doing things like baking cookies, six at a time in the toaster oven, but hadn't gotten to the point where I could be trusted yet with a knife). My dad? He didn't cook. Didn't know how.

Two days before Thanksgiving (or, to be more precise, very early the morning of the day before Thanksgiving) my mom went into labor. She knew right away that her labor wasn't going to be long like the other two, so she and my dad called a couple of neighbors so one of them could stay with us, and they woke me up to tell me they were going to the hospital. At the time I slept in a lofted bed, with a homemade guard rail that I knew would hold my weight if I leaned against it and reached down to kiss my mom goodbye. When my sister and I woke up in the morning, our neighbor (the one who liked to mow his orchard nekkid) was there cooking us pancakes in the cast iron skillet. "Your dad called," he told us. "You have a new little sister. Her name is Laurel."

My mom had only been in labor a very short time before my sister was born. Actually, the way she tells it, they called the doctor on the way to the hospital, who told them he was on his way. My mom checked in, filled out paperwork, and got set up in the hospital bed, and was very concerned that the doctor wouldn't show up on time. He walked in, pulling on his gloves, just as my sister was crowning - so just in time to catch her. My sister was the smallest of the three of us at 7 pounds 13 ounces, born with dark brown hair and brown eyes.

A few hours after breakfast, my dad came home. He took my sister and I out into the forest and we looked and looked to find a baby bay laurel tree for the new addition (being hippies, my parents buried our placentas under baby trees for each of us after birth. My Douglas Fir is now about 20 feet tall and no longer mobile, as it's grown through its container into the ground). We finally found the smallest one we'd seen, just a few leaves high, dug it up and brought it home. Then we got dressed in whatever we felt like wearing and my dad took us to the hospital to see my mom and the baby.

The photos from that hospital visit are interesting. My dad holding Laurel with Lissa and I grinning, both wearing really strange outfits (it's late November and Lissa is wearing a sundress and rainboots). I guess my dad didn't pay attention or didn't care what we wore; he just wanted to get us there to meet our sister. I remember my mom loooking tired and happy. I remember Laurel screaming (she did that with great regularity for at least a year; in fact, we have very few baby pictures of her NOT crying - poor colicky baby). My mom would be coming home from the hospital the next day - which was Thanksgiving.

Obviously, with a one-day old newborn my mom was not going to be cooking. I was only seven and didn't know much about cooking yet. So it was up to my dad to get Thanksgiving dinner together - and to his credit, somehow I think he mostly managed it. We didn't have homemade pie that year (we probably had chocolate almond cookies instead), and I think we had green beans out of a can. But I know we had turkey, and yams with marshmallows, and some sort of stuffing. My mom came home in the morning and was in bed with the baby all day, so my dad pretty much did everything. It was also a rainy Thanksgiving, and I think the power went out after dinner so we ate dessert by candlelight. I wish I remember this day better, because I think it was a pretty good one for our family - the first time my dad ever made dinner, and it was Thanksgiving at that, plus, I had a new little sister. She doesn't make nearly as much noise as she used to, and a week from today she turns 21.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday Potpourri: No Girls Allowed

I can't express how happy I am that I'm taking Monday off in order to have a day to just work on projects and other things that need working on. Our house is now clean, and tomorrow we're having friends over for dinner (Menu: shrimp/mango ceviche and chips,black bean soup with chicken sausage, fresh baked bread, Mexican chocolate and sopapillas, all from scratch/homemade). We're making Thanksgiving dinner at Dan's parents' house and finalized the menu last night. I fixed the vaccuum. Monday is going to be just me at home at least part of the day, since Dan's off for the whole week and will spend Monday in the lab working on a project for school.

This week's awesomest thing was observed during our grocery shopping trip this afternoon; I spotted in the freezer case something called Men's Bread. Because everybody knows that one can (and should) make a food product designed just for men (or ladies). Seriously, wtf? Bread...for men. Hm. I guess chicks just can't handle its masculine goodness.

A few days ago, I learned about a disturbing initiative that people here in Colorado are trying to get on the ballot, one that would define a fertilized egg as a person in this state. Because that's a good idea. It sure would make IVF a lot more difficult. Great plan. It's a slippery slope argument, sure, one that could or would eventually lead to the illegality of abortion, and possibly some forms of birth control (hormonal birth control prevents ovulation and sometimes implantation, so if a fertilized egg were unable to implant because one is on the pill, the argument could be made that one is killing a person. Also, an IUD prevents implantation, not ovulation). I don't talk much about my political views on this blog, and I do respect the position of all life being sacred, but personally I'm staunchly pro-choice and would be extraordinarily unhappy were this to get on the ballot here and pass. There's no reason for this other than to take that step toward taking control over women's bodies away from them and into the hands of people who want that control.

While I consider a fertilized egg (and therefore, one that has implanted and started to grow) the potential to be a person, in my opinion, a fetus doesn't have personhood until it is able to live outside the womb (whether that be with medical assistance or not). I know that line is earlier these days than it used to be, but perhaps the easiest way for me to classify it is to say that I believe personhood begins and ends with brain activity. Brain waves detectable? It's a person. No brain waves? Fetus or vegetable, there's no person there. Hell, once upon a time even the Catholic church didn't consider a fetus to be a person with a soul before "quickening" (meaning the mother could feel the fetus moving). Until and unless they make artificial wombs that can grow people from fertilized eggs to viability, I don't think a fertilized egg should have legal personhood - to me, the health and welfare of the mother always trumps that of the dependent fetus. It's her body, it's her choice, and in my opinion there's no reason other than the aforementioned control of women's bodies to classify a fertilized egg as a person.

OK, off the soapbox now. My kitty is sleeping beside me, snoring lightly, and my belly is full of dinner (turkey burgers, potatoes, and califlower crack (tm Monkey). I got to make myself a white Russian, something I've been craving for a few weeks now, and I'm more than happy to be sitting at home, working on projects and hanging out with Dan. I loves me some Saturday.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday fitness 3: I am woe out

Well, I didn't meet my goal for this week: I didn't take any new classes.


Monday I did 55 minutes of cardio (elliptical, bike) and then took an hour long Power Pump class.
Tuesday I took an hour of vinyasa yoga.
Wednesday I did 35 elliptical and my normal cruch/leg lift routine.
Thursday I took a hardcore pilates class at 1 and a spinning class at 5:30 (all classes at my gym are an hour long).

Today, I need to rest my weary bones. I figure 6 hours of working out in 4 days is enough. I was pretty out of it last night after I got home from the spinning class. Also, my everything is a little bit sore. I like every one of the classes I took, which is good because maybe I will be able to get into a routine that mixes things up, so my body gets challenged, rather than doing the same things every day. I like that taking these classes, and seeing how I do in them, makes me feel good about myself and my abilities. I must be in pretty good shape if I can keep up with some of them, right? Despite the soreness, today I feel good, like my body really needed a week of ass-kicking to make up for all the traveling where I didn't have a chance to work out. I feel good, my mood is good, it's Friday and NaBloPoMo is more than halfway over. I think I'm doing OK, overall.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Travel Thursday 3: Bits of tid I can impart from learning them the hard way

Don't try to eat dinner on Labor Day in Scotts Bluff, Nebraska. The only place open will be crapplebees.

A national parks pass will get you in (or get you a discount) to a lot more places/attractions than one might think.

Wyoming has weird weather at all times of the year.

Tourist attractions in many big cities are not worth bothering with (Fisherman's Wharf in SF, for example).

If you're visiting Seattle when it isn't baseball season, the parking areas near the baseball stadium are much cheaper than the ones in the downtown area and a nice walk (not too far).

Don't camp in a campground right next to a major highway or a busy rail line if you have any desire for actual sleep.

Consuming regional specialties is usually a good idea, unless it's old fashioned horehound candy in Salem, Mass. which is just disgusting.

Diners in small towns/cities can provide great entertainment at breakfast.

Any attempt to speak French to locals is better than just addressing them in English and expecting them to accomodate you. Actually, that goes for most countries. It's just common courtesy to attempt to communicate in the native language unless (say, you're a white people in China) it's obvious that you're a foreigner.

Sortie means exit and once you exit the metro in Paris you can't get back in, even if it was a mistake.

Plan ahead for the Louvre and decide what you most want to see, because there's no way in hell you'll be able to see everything in one visit.

Eat bread. And cheese. And yogurt. And chocolate croissants. Drink wine.

Drink sangria. Eat paella. The Sagrada Familia and Park Guell are totally worthwhile, though it's probably best not to take your entire backpack if possible.

You can gamble at Monte Carlo, but will only have access to a few slot machines unless you are wicked wealthy (or at least willing to dress up and pay the entrance fee). Also, the aquarium here is really cool.

Do not let anyone dressed as a gladiator try to jump into your photos at the Coliseum in Rome, because then they will ask you for money.

Eat gelato. Eat tiramisu. Drink wine. Eat local specialities; they are almost always worth it.

Do not, under any circumstances, get stuck in the train station in Bologna between midnight and 4 am, because you will be afraid for your life and unable to sleep.

If at all possible, hike the entire Cinque Terre, even if you are sick and have a fever. You will not regret it.

If you are 12 like me, a lot of German words will make you laugh. Like abfart. Hee.

If you are vegan, expect to find hardly anything to eat. Maybe pretzels.

Do not eat the Mexican food. Eat the Turkish food instead (kebab etc.). Also, when in Rotenburg do not eat the regional specialty. It is gross (giant fried ball of greasy dough covered in powdered sugar or chocolate. The worst gutbomb ever). But do go to the torture museum.

The Museum of Science in Munich is worth every penny of the entrance fee.

Do not attempt to access the Black Forest from Stuttgart. It is impossible. Go to Freiburg instead.

Eat chocolate. Eat yogurt. Eat whatever is grown locally and in season. From Interlaken, do the waterfall hike.

The Sound of Music tour is just OK. But Salzburg is pretty.

Do not, under any circumstances, go to Auschwitz alone, especially if you are already depressed from leaving your traveling companion. Also, they don't sell nonfizzy bottled water (at least, I couldn't find any). Only water with more fizz and less fizz. Also, the pizza is not very good. But the bread they sell from carts on the street is very good.

Czech Republic:
Prague is a beautiful city to explore. Take the time to go down small alleys; you will find hidden shops and galleries that are very cool.

Be careful with the absinthe. Do not, under any circumstances, drink 5 shots of absinthe at your hostel, then go out and eat a magnum (ice cream) bar, then go to a bar and drink 2 more shots of absinthe, and then go outside and vomit all over your feet and the street. If you must do this, please do not wear socks and Birkenstocks, and PLEASE do not pull your camera out and take a picture of it. And if you MUST do all this, please at least change your clothes and socks before breakfast the next morning. UGH. (For the record, this was not me but some guy at my hostel. I will never forget the disgust I felt when I went to breakfast the next morning and he was still up and hadn't even changed his socks.)

England (London):

Don't walk around by yourself at night near King's Cross Station, because it's creepy and weird. In fact, try to stay someplace that is not there.

There is no way you can see all the stuff you want to see in 2 days.

See a play while you are there if at all possible.

Learn a few important words and phrases before you go, if possible. We learned hello and thank you, and while there we learned yes, no, I want it, I don't want it, water, go away. These are important things to learn.

If you are not Chinese you will be hounded incessantly in touristy areas to buy things. People will follow you for miles on the Great Wall. Be prepared for it.

Eat street food if you can see it being prepared. It is delicious.

If eating in a restaurant, especially one with no English menu, it is generally a better idea to see what other patrons are eating and point at something that looks good, rather than just pointing at an all Chinese menu and hoping for the best. You may end up with a dish of spicy peppers and mutton, which, while tasty, made for a very eye-watering meal.

Be prepared to be stared at. A lot. There is a very different concept of privacy (none).

Bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Bathrooms won't have toilet paper and will have only cold water, often with no soap.

If you want a Western toilet (rather than the squat kind), look for a McDonalds or KFC.

People spit all the time, everywhere. Don't drop anything on any floor-type surface and plan to eat it. The 3-second rule is not applicable in China.

If possible, tag-team when bargaining for souveniers. Also, listen to see how much other tourists are paying and try to judge your fair price accordingly. Prices will be incredibly inflated and you are expected to bargain them down to more reasonable levels; otherwise you will be thought an idiot.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wednesday Wedding Day, with Bonus Personality Test Results

Back in days of yore, there was a website that had several different tests one could take to determine things like purity, nerdliness, etc. One of them was loosely based on the Myers-Briggs personality test and it assigned one of 16 personality types (separated into 16 male and 16 female types) along the axes of Independent/Dependent, Good/Evil, Love/Sex, Provider/Taker. Several people on the message board where Dan and I met took this test and posted their results. At the time, my results were Dependent Good Love Provider, and my type was named "Pure Mountain Stream." I wasn't sure what to think of being called "pure mountain stream" because surely, even at the tender age of 21 I was not that naive, nor was I a nun. I remember there were a group of people whose results were Independent Evil Love Taker (for girls, this was "Drama Queen" - and yes, I did google this to find it because the site/test no longer exist - but an entry about it does exist on Everything2). It became kind of a joke, about the Independent Evil Love Takers and what that meant. I do wonder if I were to take the test today whether I'd still be "pure mountain stream" or whether Sparkmatch would tell me I was something else instead.

Today I was looking at something online and remembered that I didn't know my Myers-Briggs personality type. I've taken tests before but I never remember my specific letters. I found another test to take today, and it turns out that I'm an ENFJ, for those of you to whom that might mean something. The E and the F were moderately expressed, while the N and the J were more strongly expressed. The site where I took the test calls the ENFJ personality type "The Teacher" and says ENFJs are only about 3% of the population, so put that in your pipe and smoke it.

So, wedding. I think I need to write down a list of what all has been done, what is in the works, and what remains to be figured out.

Date/Location, deposit on location
Booked caterer, deposit with caterer
Booked photographer
Shoes for each of us
Booked hotel room block
Made and sent save-the-dates
Set up wedding website
Picked bridal party
Picked readers
Compiled guest list
Bought some decor stuff
Picked 2 ceremony readings
Officiant booked :D
Bought stamps for invites/thank yous
Bought materials to make thank you cards
found rental places for kilts/etc.

In Progress:
Playlist for reception
bridesmaids dresses (still need fabric, measurements, to sew dresses)
decor for tables, tent
flowers (will likely be mom's yard/grocery store/wholesale place)
cake toppers (have Han Solo, need Princess Leia in gold bikini)
invitations still in design phase

Still needs doing/figuring out:
rest of ceremony
book wedding night lodging
seating chart (can't be done until invites are sent/RSVPs come in)
rent kilts/etc.
caterer tasting and final menu
buy wine/beer/etc.
music for ceremony
gifts for bridal party
gifts for parents
make/print programs
finish/print/send invitations
find a jeweler to make my wedding ring
find Dan's wedding ring/have his ring made
figure out jewelry/hair/makeup for me
get marriage license

I have a feeling I'm missing something. OK, internets, what else should be on my "not done yet" list? Many of the things on the "still not done" and "in progress" lists will be done during our trip to California in December (caterer tasting, cake, booze/nonbooze purchasing, buy fabric/measure bridesmaids, etc.). Some stuff will have to wait until right before the wedding (like flower-related stuff, marriage license). But I have this haunting suspicion that something is completely slipping my mind - what's not on my list?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fall = Domesticity

I did two hours worth of workout yesterday and came home about to pass out, so I promised Dan I'd just do a yoga class today (I took Vinyasa Yoga at lunch; it was a good class). I had the chance to take a new class after work (Yoga for Athletes) but decided I'd rather walk home while there was still some semblance of daylight and work on some projects.

The first thing I did was to pull out some yarn for a project, but then I realized what a horrible mess my knitting bag was (I had about 15 different yarns in various stages of knottedness, all tangled up and with some needles poked in here and there). The cats watched in fascination as I spent nearly an hour untangling everything. Now I have a pile of a variety of yarns used in a plethora of projects over the past year, and I went through the rest of my yarn stash and mentally started checking planned projects off the list as I inventoried. I proceeded to plop down on the couch in front of a movie I've seen many, many times and start working on one of said projects - even though there are wedding things to be worked on and a sweater for Dan that needs some TLC (and only has a couple of inches so far - it's going to take a while, I think).

For dinner tonight I made a soup from scratch (it was a butternut squash soup with shrimp, ingredients: butternut squash, vegetable broth, crushed red pepper. Cook squash/pepper in broth until squash is tender; puree. Return to pot, add peeled uncooked shrimp and cook on low until shrimp is done. Add some grated fresh parmesan; eat with crusty bread). The fall always has me feeling more domestic - knitting projects because the weather's getting colder and I still haven't replaced all my scarves/hats etc. from last year's storage debacle, cooking soups and stews, baking. On Sunday I baked pumpkin chocolate chip cookies from my own made-up recipe (takes very little butter because the pumpkin is so moist, so the cookies aren't terribly bad for you as cookies go) and I bought another sugar pumpkin to process and use in pie for Thanksgiving. Dan and I are cooking the bulk of Thanksgiving dinner for his family and we've already started discussing recipes and logistics and prepwork and it just makes me all warm and fuzzy inside to think about cooking and baking projects. I'm not ready for Christmas yet (certainly not; we haven't finished planning our Italy trip, the invitations aren't done and I have about 3908409384 knitting projects to do before that) but the deeper we get into autumn the more domestic I seem to feel.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Literary Monday: If you are female, or interested in females, you should read this book

I went to the library on Wednesday last week to find some new books to read. I left with only two, and couldn't help but start reading one of them walking back to work. I stayed up late a few of the nights since then to finish it, because it was fabulous, but more in a "holy crap someone gets it!" kind of way than the kind of page turner you might think. It was, in fact, not fiction at all. The title of the book caught my attention, but once I realized that it was written by someone my age and for/about women my age/in my generation, there was no going back. It was coming home with me. The book? Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney Martin.

I've made no secret on this blog about my history of disordered eating, my body image issues, being torn between two worlds or schools of thought on how my body should look/how I should treat it. Reading this book helped me to realize how very not alone I am in this problem. Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters is part memoir, part theme/topic, and the best piece of writing I've ever read about the pervasiveness of disordered eating and associated behavior, not only the statistics but WHY it happens (and why it's so common). While my personal experience wasn't exactly like that of the author's (I was a ballerina, not a basketball player, so there were different pressures for thinness; my experience in college was very different, though I knew girls whose food/exercise issues got worse in college just as Martin describes), the feelings, thoughts, and behaviors Martin explores, starting in childhood and following through to early adulthood, resonated strongly with me. Part of me is truly glad for my low blood sugar issues, since they've probably kept me from the worst my disordered eating/exercising/body image could have been over the years (iron willpower is one thing, but if you experience severe mood swings and then pass out when you don't eat, being anorexic is more difficult).

Reading Martin's book made me realize just how pervasive the problem is, and what life is like for millions of girls and women all over the world. Of my female friends, I know very few with healthy attitudes toward eating and exercise. The ones who seem to have it worst I recognized as having the personality traits of Martin's "perfect girls". While I see a lot of myself in the personal stories shared throughout the book, I'm also relieved that I've never quite taken things as far as others have. In some ways, I've given up on being perfect because I've realized it's impossible. But it was really scary how much of Martin's book rang true for me, perhaps because we are the same age, but perhaps because, being in my generation, she was really able to hit the nail on the head when she says as (girl) children, we were told we could be/do anything, yet many of us took that to mean we had to do everything. The roles played by our parents, by our upbringings, by popular culture and the media clearly all factor into the dire situation many women in my generation face. I've had many of the thoughts and opinions Martin shares throughout her book, but never have I seen them all written down in one place. If you are a woman ages 9-35; if you date or are married to one; if you have or ever plan to have daughters I highly recommend reading this book.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Reminiscin' 2: Even my memory isn't flawless

Ever since I was a kid, my parents would tell me about how great my memory was. If some sort of challenge arose within the family, whoever was fighting over it would come to me and ask what my memory of said challenged event was. I'm not sure why I got a reputation for having a good memory - I do have some memories of very early childhood (first day of preschool at 22 months, second birthday, third birthday, other things here and there - more "what I was thinking about" at the time of an event than memories of the event itself). For most of childhood and through high school, I also kind of had a photographic memory, at least when it came to written material - I never had to study much in high school because usually if I'd read the material once, I could close my eyes and remember what the particular paragraph or sentence said that covered a test question. But once I hit college, that specific ability started to diminish - I don't know if it's because I got older or because college put too many other things in my head.

Last night I had a dream about my aunt's wedding, or maybe it was people talking about my aunt's wedding. My aunt got married when I was about four years old, I think; we only have a few pictures of the event but I do remember the yellow dress I got to wear, and all the standing up and sitting down and kneeling during the Catholic ceremony. My middle sister was a baby at the time, certainly no more than a year old. I'm guessing it was late in the summer, though I don't remember specifically, but if I think hard about how old the other cousins were at the time it makes sense. So for some reason, I was dreaming about this aunt's wedding, and when I woke up I remembered enough of my dream to be able to make some connections in my head and realize that something I'd connected in my memory for most of my life was actually incorrect. See, I remember another time we were in Southern California for Easter, and I got to wear a pretty dress and wore the same white sandals from my aunt's wedding. My hair got curled (like it had for the wedding) and my cousins and I all played in one of the bedrooms of Grandma's house. We also went to Disneyland on that trip, which I remember mostly because I was excited that we'd won a door prize (stuffed Mickey and Minnie dolls). For some reason, for years I've casually assumed that the aunt's wedding and the Easter trip were the same trip, even though they couldn't possibly have been - my sister is obviously older in pictures we have of the Easter trip; she must have been close to two rather than just over a year. This morning I was thinking about the aunt's wedding and the Easter trip and had a sort of realization that they weren't the same trip. I don't know why I thought for years that they were, other than the hair curling bit and the sandals bit and the playing with cousins.

Sometimes I wonder how many of my early memories are colored by photographs; how many events I think I remember that maybe I don't and just remember looking at pictures. The second birthday memory is certainly suspect; we have several photographs that bolster my memory of who was there (cousin, friend from preschool, friend's sister) and what I was wearing. However, I think I remember how windy it was, and playing outside, and being glad for my blue hooded sweatshirt because the hood kept me warm in the wind. I know for sure that I remember my third birthday because I remember how it felt to be a little apprehensive of Chuck E Cheese, and I remember how excited I was that my mom made my requested butterfly cake. I don't remember my mom being pregnant with my sister (which she was, about 6 months along); it's possible that it simply didn't register with me what my mom's belly meant (or maybe I didn't pay any attention to it at all).

I also find it strange that some of my really early memories are much stronger than memories of events that happened not too long ago. I strongly remember our first trip to Texas (I was 11) but don't remember much about specific trips after that, other than the one the summer I was 18 (because we flew from Texas to San Diego for my cousin's wedding). I better remember the trip to Grandma's house the Thanksgiving I was 8 (and my little sister turned 1) than trips to Grandma's in middle school. So many of my memories are punctuated by sounds and smells and tastes; I have this feeling that the events that happened when I was older didn't correlate with first-time experiences of foods or smells so they just don't stand out as much. I have a very strong memory of the night I lost my first tooth, not because I lost a tooth but because the same night we were at a party for a client of my dad's (a 50th birthday, maybe) and they had champagne flavored ice cream and I thought it was the most disgusting thing I'd ever tasted. I didn't try champagne for years because of the memory of eating that ice cream, thinking it would be vanilla and then getting this gross weird flavor instead. My tooth fell out in the car on the way home.

Dan can't remember much from early childhood, but there are things that we've done together (or conversations we've had) where years later, he remembers and I don't. I find this to be kind of disturbing. Where is my perfect memory; where is my recall? Why can't I remember some things I used to be able to? Is it because I'm 28 and had so many experiences now? Is it because those things just weren't important? Why are earlier childhood memories stronger that more recent ones? I'm not entirely sure, but I'm glad that I'm keeping this blog because it helps me to remember things that I just wouldn't otherwise be able to recall months or years later. I'm starting to feel old.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday Potpourri: I'm done!

Most of the year, I spend eight hours a day stuck in my dark basement cube, listening to the copy machine and pushing paper around. However, for about 6 weeks in the fall I get to travel all over the place (this year, it was Minneapolis and 6 locations around Colorado, oh, and Wyoming, but that wasn't work-related). While it's my favorite part of my job, since I get to meet people face-to-face and do something I'm good at, it's also rather exhausting. I am so glad that I will be sleeping in my own bed (with the exception of Thanksgiving) until we go to California for Christmas (and then Italy! woo!). I always forget how much better I sleep in my own bed with my own pillow and my own person (and kitty) than in a strange hotel room, no matter how fancy it is or how nice the pillows are.

Speaking of Italy, we figured out most of our accomodations today (scored a deal on for Rome, and are going to do 6 nights in hostel dorm beds in Florence). Even though it is our "honeymoon" (though we won't be married yet), neither of us is willing to spend a lot of extra money on lodging; we'd rather spend it on gelato and museum admissions and presents. It was shocking to me how much prices have changed since my trip in 2000 - for one thing, they weren't using the Euro back then (except for banks) and the dollar was really high against all the European currencies. Italy was the cheapest country in Western Europe - I think my friend and I paid an average of $20/night (total) for hostels and one-star hotels, and that was in July during high tourist season. After our research today, Dan and I decided we got a really good deal on our average of $50ish/night (that's both for the hotel and the hostel, total not each). This trip isn't going to be nearly as cheap as the China trip, but we'll still eat most of our food from grocery stores and travel as backpackers, for the most part. I guess we'd rather spend money on experiences rather than have cushy hotel rooms.

Also wedding-related, we went to the gem show today at the Merchandise Mart and I found the stones I wanted for my wedding ring. It will be worn with my engagement ring and I had this idea in my head, but didn't know how it would play out until I found the right stones (a blue-green sapphire and some small dark emerald green tourmalines). Not only did I find some awesome stones that I think will look fabulous, but I also found a gorgeous tsavorite and two padparasha sapphires (these particular ones are a deep reddish-orange) to be made into another ring (for my right hand) or maybe into a necklace. For about 15 total stones (sapphires, tourmalines, and the fantastic tsavorite) I paid $150. Woot!

As for the awesomest thing I experienced this week, it was the dinner I had on Monday night at the resort restaurant in Stepford Springs. I had a phenomenal butternut squash bisque and a crab-avocado-portobella mushroom-veggie napoleon. It may have been the best combination of flavors I ever had in my mouth at one time from a restaurant meal. Both went very well with my glass of Geyser Peak sauvignon blanc. I don't usually consider myself a foodie, but damn, that was an exquisite meal.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Flip-up, I mean, Friday Fitness 2: Don't be like me

This week, the only day I was able to get to my actual gym was Wednesday (because it was the only day I was in the office and in town). Monday I worked out at the resort where I stayed in Colorado Springs (approximately an hour's workout), Tuesday I was too exhausted to do anything when I got home. So Wednesday morning I looked at the class schedule and saw a step class at 5:30, so I decided I'd do that.

I didn't take a lunch on Wednesday, so I left work early and did a full weight circuit (meaning, 10 machines pre-programmed to my own workout), which takes an hour. Then I waited for the step class to start. I've never taken step (or anything like it) so wasn't sure what to expect. After taking the class, my opinion is that a) I shouldn't do a full weight circuit before taking a new class (this is the second time I've done it, the first time was before my first spin class) because by the end I am totally worn out, and b) step is kind of like 21st century aerobics with a prop.

The instructor was perky and cute and looked kind of 80s-ish. The music was remixes of Fergie and Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado. The combinations of footwork done on the step were not something easily done by someone completely unfamiliar with the class and the terminology. Luckily with my dance background I have some experience trying to follow unfamiliar movements and put them together with names in a short time period, but I can imagine the class would be really frustrating for someone who hadn't had experience with that sort of thing before. It was frustrating for me as is. There were a few other brand new people in the class, and I think it was more difficult for them. I felt through most of the class like I should be wearing a neon-colored leotard and a sweat band, and like I should start calling the instructor Jane. I'm not a huge fan of aerobics or jazzercise and this pretty much felt like one of those things, only with a big thing to step on. I can't deny that it was a good workout. I think I would have liked it better if I hadn't forgotten my water bottle; the room was hot and I was parched afterward. Usually when I hamster on the cardio machines I'm sipping on water the whole time, so I'm not used to having my heart rate up for an hour with no water. If there's ever a next time, there will be a water bottle and no weights beforehand.

Yesterday I had a training up north, so afterward I went to Dan's parents house, greeted the dog, changed my clothes and went out for a run. My legs were already kind of sore from the weights/step workout (2 full hours) so I thought running might help me to get my exercise in and also help work the soreness out of my legs again. Part of my run was along a public use trail, paved in cement. It's been a long time since I've run on sidewalk, and after the run my legs quivered painfully in the shower. The run did nothing to ease the soreness; but instead exacerbated it to the point where later in the evening I had to walk like an old-fashioned cowboy in order to get down the stairs to go to bed. Let this be a warning to you, kids: don't do a full weight circuit and a step class for the first time, then run 3. 5 miles on sidewalk the next day, lest you want your legs to feel like they ought to fall off.

Today I took a rest day. My calves had a hard enough time dealing with the one-inch heels I wore to conduct today's training.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Travel Thursday: Places I've been (and where I'd like to go)

When I was a kid, we didn't have much money for traveling. I remember taking exactly one vacation before I graduated high school (at least, one that wasn't just going to Southern California to visit my dad's family). We went to Santa Cruz when I was seven for a weekend; I have vague memories of the boardwalk and playing on the beach in a bathing suit. Usually if we went anywhere, it was a very very long drive down to LA, and we stayed at my Grandma's house and played with cousins. We flew to Texas a few times in my adolescence to visit my mom's aunt and other relatives. The summer after I graduated high school, we went on a week-long family road trip around California, which was mostly uncomfortable with five of us in an un-airconditioned minivan in August. We camped in Lake Tahoe and Sequoia and King's Canyon and somewhere near the southernmost glacier (I think that was in Kern county). We drove through Fresno, the armpit of California, on the hottest day of the year. Being 17 and being forced to go four days without a shower was a somewhat stinky, hairy, and miserable experience, so I insisted I be given some quarters to take a shower in one of the campgrounds - only to determine that trying to shave one's legs in a cold shower proves a bloody exercise.

In my senior year of high school, a project for one of my classes included a time capsule to be opened at least 5 years later. One of the many elements of the time capsule was a list of things I wrote that I wanted to have accomplished or done or experienced by the time I opened it. On the list I wrote was a secret dream I'd been harboring for years - to go to Europe after college, on my own. I worked my butt off in college to earn extra money to pay for my trip, spent four years with the trip in the back of my head, and a few weeks after I graduated I went on the trip. I'd planned it all myself, with the help of a Let's Go Europe and the website where I ended up meeting Dan (and EEK, and QIR, and Monkey, and Cil, and Yank in Texas, and Guateholla). I flew open jaw into Paris and out of London, in between getting to experience Barcelona, Nice, Monaco, Rome, Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre, Interlaken, Salzburg, Krakow, Prague, Munich, Wurtzburg, Rotenburg, Heidelburg, Freiborg, back to Paris and the chunnel to London. Plus some day trips I'm forgetting. It was probably the most amazing experience of my life, and gave me the travel bug, big time.

Since going to Europe, I've mostly traveled around North America. I went to Michigan to visit my Europe travel friend, and we went down into Ohio to the amusement park in Sandusky. I went to Chicago, and DC, and Toronto. I've been all over Colorado, to Wyoming and South Dakota and Nebraska. When I moved to Colorado, on the trip we went to Tijuana and through Arizona and New Mexico. We've driven and taken the train through Utah and Nevada; work has taken me to Boston, Seattle, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis. This summer, we went to Kentucky, passing through Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. The list of states I've been to has grown exponentially since my paltry high school two. But there's still an entire South, most of the East Coast, and a good chunk of the midwest I've never seen. And there's most of Canada, and almost all of Mexico, and that's just this continent!

Precisely two years ago right now we were in China. Our three-week trip included about 10 days in Beijing and a week in Xi'an, with a few days in Luoyang when we went up to the Shaolin monastery. But we barely scratched the surface of China, and haven't been anywhere else in Asia (other than Tokyo Narita airport). We've never been to Australia or New Zealand, anywhere in Africa, South America or the Middle East. There's most of a world out there, actually. So many places to go, and luckily I'm marrying someone with just as much wanderlust as I have. We won't have enough time to do the UK/Ireland trip we'd fantasized about as a honeymoon, but we'll get there someday. And we've got pages and pages of blank space in our passports.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Wednesday wedding day

This whole planning a wedding process has made me feel exceedingly girly. I'm reluctant to admit how much I've been enjoying myself through the whole thing, researching and planning and deciding this big fun party we're going to have in a few months (and oh yeah, getting married too). For a while I thought about keeping a separate blog just for wedding stuff because I didn't want to overwhelm this one with it, thus alienating any reader who could care less about weddings. But it is on my mind, something I think about every time I look at my left hand, every time I go to the gym, every time I surf around looking at wedding stuff on the internets. It's a big part of my mental space right now.

The dress shop where I bought my dress back in August called me today to tell me my wedding dress was in. My heart jumped a little bit when she told me, even though I know I won't be able to see it until we go to California in December. I hadn't looked at a photo of it online in a while, so I went to the website and looked at my dress - at least, what my dress will mostly look like. I'm going to make a modification or two to make it my own. I've started to think about how I should do my hair, whether to pay someone to do it or do it myself (I'm leaning toward pay, since I've never in my life done that. I did my own hair for prom both times). Thought some about jewelry. I've had my shoes since early this summer, and I can't wait to bring them with me to try on the dress.

Those of you who read my post about wedding dresses back in May (or those of you who know me personally) probably know that I'm not a terribly traditional person. I don't care whether stuff matches exactly, or whether the centerpieces look just so, or about having things perfect. My dress is a lot more traditional than what I ever pictured for myself, but I secretly kind of love that I'm wearing a "real" wedding dress from an actual bridal designer. Part of me wishes I'd found the perfect thing on ebay or on clearance or something, so at least I wouldn't have such an expensive dress (though, as far as wedding dresses go, it's really not expensive). But part of me is kind of happy that I got a new dress, made just for me, because I've never had anything like that before and won't ever have the opportunity to wear something similar again.

Speaking of wearing again, I've been thinking about what to do with my dress after the wedding. There's no way we'll have room to store it in a big box, and I can't imagine ever having occasion to wear it again. I'm torn between a few different options - one, keeping it for any potential progeny to play dress-up with. Two, cut it up and turn it into something else.That's a lot of nice fabric. Three, give it away to one of the wedding dress-breast cancer charities so someone else can benefit from it. I'm leaning toward the third option, but I haven't decided yet.

I've taken on a wedding project, something crafty that I can actually do. We're not do a lot of fancy decorations or anything (I think the place where we're getting hitched is beautiful and doesn't need embellishment), but there are a few things we're doing to decorate. The project I'm working on will, to some extent, use up all the old calendars I've been saving for years for just the right thing. I'm sure I'll have to buy some paper as well, so I'm going to look for some stuff that's recycled. I do feel strongly that we should be as least wasteful as possible, and I think that in the case of this project I'm working on, at least someone will want to use it later for another purpose. I'm being deliberately coy because I might write a whole blog post with pictures once I'm done; plus, some of you who read this will be coming to the wedding, and won't some surprises be nice?

Dan is working on our invitations, which is another project I'm really excited about. I won't say anything about them because I bet they're a surprise he'd like to discuss if he wants them to be talked about, but they'll definitely be different than any other wedding invitation I've seen. We also need to get on booking our accomodations in Italy, as that's coming up kind of soon. Woo! We're going to Italy! But before that, we'll have an engagement photo shoot with our photographer in California. I'm hoping it will be a good experience and help me feel more comfortable in front of a camera, since I'm not really used to having my picture taken. I haven't been photogenic since I was a little kid. Any suggestions for how not to look like a total tool for photos?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A movie meme, courtesy my stylish friend Sara

I was maybe going to do a new blog review or maybe tell you about my trip to Colorado Springs, but instead I read Sara's blog and decided to do my own movie meme. I'll italicize the ones I've seen and red the ones I couldn't make it through because I don't know how to do the cross-through. I'll also star the ones I didn't see until I started dating Dan, who is a huge film buff in addition to his other nerditude. I didn't go to film school like Sara did, but I do like movies, so I've seen quite a few of these.

AFI Top 100 Films
1. Citizen Kane (1941)*
2. The Godfather (1972)*
3. Casablanca (1942)
4. Raging Bull(1980)
5. Singin’ in the Rain (1952) I'm a sucker for musicals
6. Gone with the Wind (1939) I always wondered what Scarlett saw in Ashley. He was so old!
7. Lawrence of Arabia (1962) I had to watch a scene or two of this in school one time and I think I fell asleep.
8. Schindler’s List (1993) Saw it in the theater, will never watch again. Too sad.
9. Vertigo (1958)* For a while there, we had a bunch of Hitchcock movies on our queue
10. The Wizard of Oz (1939) Family tradition, watched it every year on TV.
11. City Lights (1931)
12. The Searchers (1956)
13. Star Wars (1977) Um, duh. How could I possibly be marrying a big nerd and not see this movie? But I first saw it as a kid.
14. Psycho (1960)
15. Sunset Blvd. (1950)
16. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) I know I've seen the whole thing at one point (probably sometime when I was younger) but I specifically had to watch the really famous scene during one of my college classes.
17. The Graduate (1967)
18. The General (1927)
19. On the Waterfront (1954)
20. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
21. Chinatown (1974)
22. Some Like It Hot (1959)
23. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
24. E.T. The Extraterrestrial (1982) My very first movie memory; got to go to the movies for my 4th birthday (early 1983, so ET stayed around for a while in the theaters)
25. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)* I think I saw this before I was with Dan, but I only remembered a scene or two, so I'm going to star this one because I *know* I saw it with him.
26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
27. High Noon (1952)
28. All About Eve (1950)
29. Double Indemnity (1944)
30. Apocalypse Now (1979) I've probably seen a little bit of this but never had the chance to see the whole thing.
31. The Maltese Falcon (1941) My parents must have rented this or else it was on TV because I remember seeing it as a kid.
32. The Godfather Part II (1974)
33. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
34. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
35. Annie Hall (1977)
36. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
37. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
38. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
39. Dr. Strangelove (1964) I did take one class in college where there was a film assigned every week, so I saw this during that class
40. The Sound of Music (1965) At one point I could recite the whole movie and sing every song.
41. King Kong (1933)
42. Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
43. Midnight Cowboy (1969) This movie made me kind of sad.
44. The Philadelphia Story (1940)*
45. Shane (1953)
46. It Happened One Night (1934)
47.A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) A few scenes but not the whole movie.
48. Rear Window (1954) This and The Birds may have been the only Hitchcock films I saw before I was with Dan.
49. Intolerance (1916)
50. Lord of the Rings : The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) * Superduh.
51. West Side Story (1961) Every time I watch this I hope and pray that it'll end differently. Every time. (me too, Sara. :( )
52. Taxi Driver(1976) This movie was studied during a class in college but we never watched it. I probably should someday.
53. Deer Hunter, The (1978)
54. M*A*S*H (1970)
55. North by Northwest (1959)* This might be my favorite Hitchcock.
56. Jaws (1975)* We watched this one time but I think we may not have WATCHED the whole thing. It was one time when we were still long distance.
57. Rocky (1976) * See above, but I know I watched the whole thing a different time.
58. The Gold Rush (1925)
59. Nashville (1975)
60. Duck Soup (1933)* Freedonia!
61. Sullivan’s Travels (1941)
62. American Graffiti (1973) Cut my teeth on the soundtrack to this movie.
63. Cabaret (1972) Cut my other teeth on the soundtrack to this one. My mom was a huge musical buff. Great show live; movie was pretty good.
64. Network (1976)
65. The African Queen (1951) I've seen most of it. It did not hold my attention.
66. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) *
67. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) Hit way too close to home.
68. Unforgiven (1992) I may have seen this, but can't remember for sure.
69. Tootsie (1982) On Comedy Central one time in high school.
70. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
71. Saving Private Ryan (1998) It was way too loud in the theater.
72. The Shawshank Redemption (1994) One of the good Stephen King movies. Stand by Me is my favorite.
73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) * We saw most of the movie at my grandma's house one time, so I'm counting it because Dan told me what the ending was.
74. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
75. In the Heat of the Night (1967)
76. Forrest Gump (1994)
77. All the President’s Men (1976)
78. Modern Times (1936)
79. The Wild Bunch (1969) Can't remember if Dan was there or not.
80. The Apartment (1960)
81. Spartacus (1960) Watched this for 6th grade history class.
82. Sunrise (1927)
83. Titanic (1997) I know it's all overblown and cliche, but I like it.
84. Easy Rider (1969)
85. A Night at the Opera (1935)
86. Platoon (1986) Pretty sure my parents rented this too. Don't remember much about it.
87. 12 Angry Men (1957)
88. Bringing Up Baby (1938)
89. The Sixth Sense (1999) But when I saw it, we were 5 minutes late to the movie, so it wasn't until years later and I saw it again that everything made sense.
90. Swing Time (1936)
91. Sophie’s Choice (1982)
92. Goodfellas (1990)
93. The French Connection (1971)
94. Pulp Fiction (1994) I successfully earned an A on a paper for a chemistry class in high school by using the "restart her heart with adrenaline" scene from this movie because the teacher was in love with Uma Thurman.
95. The Last Picture Show (1971)
96. Do the Right Thing (1989) Saw it for a college class, didn't like it as much as I wanted to.
97. Blade Runner (1982) Late night with friends in college. Too much to drink, couldn't stay awake. I should really see it.
98. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
99. Toy Story (1995)
100. Ben-Hur (1959)

Hey, that was fun! I've seen 47 out of 100, and 12 of those not until Dan and I were together. Of course, LOTR came out the year we got together, so I guess that doesn't count toward my cultural education.