Monday, January 31, 2011

mozzarellllllaaaaa! geeellaaaato! brrrreadsticks!--derek, they don't serve breadsticks in italy!

~courtney and derek

In May Matt and I are going on the vacation of our lives. We'll be in Italy for nine full days. We are for-sure going to Rome and Cinque Terre. We are figuring out the rest (though Florence and Venice are our current top contenders). We have just under four months to do so. :D

This is a huge deal for me because a) I have wanted to visit Rome ever since my freshman year in Latin class (which was 15ish years ago) and b)I have been as far out of the country as exotic Vancouver Canada. Don't get me wrong, Vancouver was pretty cool. We went to Butch@rt Gardens, visited a house of miniatures, and the McD0nalds had pizza. Cool, right?

After college I was going to (begrudgingly) take a trip to France. That whole freed0m fries, the French-don't-like-us thing was going on then, and we decided to change our plans. So, no international travel for me then, either.

And then, while we were engaged, Matt suggested that we take a trip to Italy, and that it be our "thing we do before we have babies." I told you about it a while ago. and we're leaving just shy of a year after I wrote that post!!

So on Saturday, after weeks and weeks of trying to pin down the details (seriously, the four of us have been talking about this since, like, August, and we've been doing the nitty gritty part of it since early December)--we FINALLY BOOKED OUR TICKETS! Ironically, when we've met up to discuss Italy we've eaten sushi, mexican and now, when celebrating our ticket purchase, we had americana. Ha!

Anyway, I am SO EXCITED to go! And despite our hilarity on Saturday night (e.g., when Derek said he was going to learn to "Talk Italian" and Courtney and I told him that he needed to learn how to "Speak English" first), which included saying the names of Italian foods while gesturing ridiculously, it's kind of still not "real" to me yet. I'm pretty sure it will be when my credit card bill comes :)

But enough about Saturday...

So, what suggestions do y'all have for places we should visit? Rome and Cinque Terre are non-negotiables, but the rest are subject to change! Just don't be offended if we don't go where you suggest--we want to do more than just see Italy--we want to experience it--and that, to us, means going fewer places and "hanging out" longer!! Also, any travel tips? Or places you'd suggested within Rome or Cinque Terre? Any and all suggestions are welcome and appreciated!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

"drea-ea-ea-ea-eam, dream, dream, dream"

~everly brothers

Last night I had a dream. Matt and I very quickly bought a house. We hired movers. And we moved in.

This house had a kitchen that was all wood. I'm not sure about the actual walls or the floor or the ceiling, but the cabinets, the countertops, the backsplash were all wood. And on top of the cabinets were four big black metal boxes. One was above the sink. It had a silver hood like a commercial oven, and said "Bi0therm" on the side. If you got on a step stool you could see that at the until had water trickling out. The purpose of the other three units wasn't entirely clear, but they were all attached to the one over the sink. And in my dream I knew that it was some kind of a device that took all of the outputs from people (sweat, pee, skin, exhalations, etc) out of the air & house and processed them.

There's something fuzzy I remember about proximity to my job (which was not the job I have) and something about rearranging my office or desk, and a few other vague recollections. The other I remember is telling Matt that the kitchen needed windows or a mirror. And seeing that there was one of those retractable mirrors like you'd find in a bathroom (with the crisscross metal that expands and contracts) made entirely of wood. Except it didn't have a mirror, it was just the frame.

And then I woke up.

Annnnnnnd I looked it up on ye olde trusty, and lo and behold, my dream was about precisely the thing that I told Jennifer about yesterday--that I feel emotionally drained, and in need of recharging. I know some people truly don't believe in interpreting dreams, and I get that. But when I remember them, I never cease to be amazed by how my dreams reflect my waking life, and/or how they provide me more insight on my reality.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"It made me feel like a good little C@tholic."


I was being slightly sarcastic because, um, I'm not C@tholic, I'm a Meth0dist. But at the same time, it gave me insight that I'd never really had. Matt's family is (mostly) C@tholic, so I've gone to mass with them before, but there ends my forays into that particular church's practices.

However, this past weekend I prayed a rosary. And accidentally took communion at a C@tholic church. But I'll get to that...

Matt's fantastic grandmom, Martha, passed away last week. She was 83. We got to see her on New Year's day, though, and that hour with her was worth every second of the 7 hour round-trip drive to and from Mary Alise and Michael's house, and worth every penny of the ~$44 we paid in tolls. We broke out the ip@d and showed her pictures of her newest great grandchild, little Alexis R0se, born the day before, on New Year's Eve. And we got to spend time with Matt's aunts, too.

When we spoke to her, all I wanted to do was hold Grandmom's hand. So I did. When we told her that "we were in the area" so we came to see her, she quipped that she didn't think three-and-a-half hours away was exactly "in the area." Her mind was absolutely sharp as a tack. But she was tired. And in pain. She planned out her entire funeral mass, down to the last detail. Monday evening there was a viewing, during which we prayed a ros@ry. Earlier that day I was given one of Grandmom's ros@ries. She had, oh, probably at least a thousand of them stashed around--okay, maybe not a thousand, but definitely hundreds. Some made of plastic beads she had made for her prison ministry, some of glass beads and some of wood. They found a lovely blue ros@ry that also had information about the origins of the ros@ry and was kept in a plastic & lace case. It's what I held onto as I listed to everyone pray.

For the funeral mass, five priests/fathers/monsignors lead the service. There were at least ten others--I think they called them Eucharistic Ministers--were in attendance as well. The homily was wonderful. I thought it was pretty great that Grandmom instructed the priest to tell jokes. He said he couldn't bring himself to tell actual jokes, but that he would make us smile. He did.

I have never met anyone (including my own Granny, or any pastor or priest, or any friend or worship leader) with more conviction than Grandmom. She was SO dedicated and SO giving--I think I could write for days about all of the things she did. She flew to Fatima like 27 times. She started a prison ministry. She learned how to play the guitar so she could go to seminary--they required that you know two instruments, and she only knew one. I might be slightly off on some of this, but the take-away is that she gave and gave and gave. She was very matter-of-fact and decidedly a product of another time in our history, and her faith was not a mustard seed--it was the fully blossomed mustard-seed plant, the biggest bush in the garden.

I will never forget the first time I met her, and she made us dinner, and we folded napkins to put into the programs for a service. I will always remember how the word "Fatima" sounded when she said it. And, although it's sad that she's no longer with us here on earth, it makes me smile to think that she finally got to meet her Maker face-to-face. I am also so grateful that I got to spend time with her, that Matt made a point of introducing me to her as his girlfriend rather than his fiancee (and proposed the next day!), that we got to see her at Thanksgiving, and that we drove up to see her on New Year's Day. I am thankful I got to know her, and thankful to know she is at peace.

Oh and, because I thought Grandmom would like it, when the time came for Communion I went up to the front, crossed my arms in front of me and waited for the Priest to do something signifying I had been blessed so I could move on. And suddenly a wafer was being placed into my mouth. I knew I couldn't spit it out, and I knew that turning away in that split second wasn't going to be cool either (not that it would've worked, anyway) so I ate it. And I felt really, really bad because I'd been trying to do something that Grandmom would've appreciated, and instead I inadvertently did something disrespectful! Fortunately, George (Dad Fry) told me I did all of the correct things and it wasn't my fault. Whew!

And when telling Matt's Meth0dist uncle the story (we were talking about that as all of the C@tholic stuff was happening) he laughed, told me he was pretty sure G0d didn't mind, and that's when I told him I felt like a good little C@tholic, taking Communion and praying a ros@ry. It made us both smile. :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"I would really appreciate it if you would reschedule your trip to Italy."

~my Granny

In May, Matt and I are going to Italy. We have a three week window when we're going, and we have been planning this for months. We're about a week away from booking.

Today, my Granny called to tell about the mythical family reunion. I call it mythical because we've been trying to plan it for two or three years now--no, three. this is the third Memorial Day we've talked about having it. And allegedly it is happening this year. And my dream trip, the one I've wanted to go on since high school, happens to be at the same time, so my Granny wants me to reschedule.

This? This was okay. I mean, it's not unreasonable to ask.

But...then she followed up with how she hadn't heard from my cousins yet. She'd called all three of them and asked if they were available then. So I said "well, what if they can't come? What are you going to do." And she said she would cross that bridge when she came to it, but that really, the only reason she was planning this was for them, and that it really isn't worth having the reunion if the three girls and Aunt Jackie (who is the wife of one of my grandfather's brothers) can't come.

Which, I'm not gonna lie, made me feel suuuuuuuper unimportant. For the record--there is no need, none at all, for anything to be scheduled around me. But I'm supposed to rearrange my life knowing full well that I am not even a blip on the importance radar? BOO, I say. boo.

oh, family. love 'em. le sigh.

note to self: be very conscious of how you treat your relatives when you're old and gray. you don't want your granddaughter thinking this of you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

i don't really have anything clever to say.

but I am blogging anyway.

after my many-many-many-month-long period of having been under-rested and over-worked, and after hearing that all I did was talk about being busy, or wondering where my environmental discussions went, I kind of went on an unintentional blogging hiatus. You can see it in my stats. I only even got to 100 blog posts last year because I did my "october is awesome" series. Compare that to the previous year, where I had 206.

clearly, I did not have the time or, really, the desire to post much. especially when it felt like someone might say something less-than-positive in response to any given post. and it was never my "regular" readers--it was joe schmoe who follows it. and don't get me wrong, I LOVE my joe schmoes! but occasionally even a well-intended comment hurt my feelings.

and let's all get real here--no one likes having their feelings hurt.

plus, I was stresssssssed out. I would would work 10 hour days and come home to edit for hours on end. I totally did it to myself. I did. and that? it's changing. :)

I always try and make resolutions. They don't often stick. So I'm making mine nice and vague. :) You ready?

Sometime between now, and, let's say then end of 2012, I'd like to...

1. Go to Italy.
2. I'm not sure how to word this one. I'll just keep it to myself for now. You can ask if you want. You might even already know. In any case, I'll share eventually.
3. Read more. See how that's nice and non-committal?
4. Charge more for photography (already done).
5. Time my photography more intentionally. That is, have entire weekends where I have ZERO photography. Ideally, at least one or two per month. Also, stick to my guns about only having a maximum of two weddings in any thirty day period. I want quality. Not quantity.
6. Spend more time doing crafty things. Crafty things that are not on a deadline. Like knitting scarves or crocheting blankets, or making that paper flower wreath I've had in my head for a while now. Paint! Decorate! Etc.
7. Do things with greater intention. I tend to be haphazard. I need to fix this.
8. Tell more stupid jokes. (you are welcome in advance, friends!)
9. Apologize less.
10. Cook more.
11. Get more sleep.

and if I had a 12th, I would say "blog more. about whatever the hell I want."
and also maybe let things be more like water off a duck's back. :)

All do-able. All things that would improve my quality of life. Let's see how they go. :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"I could NEVER be on faceb00k!"


after he said this I laughed so hard I fell over, continued to laugh until I cried and then made Matt help me up. I almost wish there were a picture. almost.

Matt is taking two online classes. THERE ARE NO LECTURES (which is totally unfair, ps) (although I am glad for him that he doesn't have to drudge through it) (but dammit why did I have to spend 3+ hours per week watching them?) (enough parenthetical asides....). However, part of Matt's class is posting on message boards. This week, his first week, for one class he had to introduce himself and post one other time. For the other class people had to introduce themselves (many used the exact post from the other class) and then he's required to post on three different days.

Well, guesssssss what? People are responding to his posts. They're asking about things like how *I* have cats (but Matt does not), and how he has so many engineers in his life, and how he isn't much of a reader, but I am. (ps, some of the guys in his class think their wives might like to have a reading contest with me, ha!)

but anyway, this whole e-convo stuff is making him crazy. like, literally laughing-hysterically crazy. :) because he's not used to people responding to his every response or asking questions. because Matt doesn't have faceb00k. So unlike the rest of us who have had creepy-b!tch-from-high-school or strange-guy-who-used-to-have-a-crush-on-you or old-friend-from-ten-years ago comment on our status, Matt thinks it's all crazy. And it is. But we're all mad here...I mean...I'm mad, you're mad....right? :)

In any case, it's totally cracking me up how foreign it is to him! Anyone else know people without FB that think it's nuts?

Monday, January 10, 2011

I do not live in a house of "bedmakers."

But I'm so excited about our new arrangement and new chest of drawers that I might have to become one!

For quite a while now I've been eyeing this piece of furniture. I hadn't ever purchased it because it came in a very pretty blue, a lovely red, a white and a super dark black-brown color. I don't love red for decorating, the blue wasn't right for my bedroom, I didn't want white and I prefer cherry colors over the dark ones. I look at this furniture every time we go to Ike@. And then I decide not to get it.

Until now.

On Saturday, after lunch with some of Matt's teacher friends, we headed to Charlotte to meet up with my friend and Kaydee sister Karen, who was visiting someone in Charlotte. She's why I joined the house and she's a totally awesome human being. :) Anyway, after we ate a loverly appetizer with them at an Irish Pub Matt and I went to Ike@. You know, just to look. Although I did have the go-ahead to buy a new dresser if I found I liked (and that wasn't a billion dollars) because we had realized that I just didn't have enough drawer space.

And then we came upon that eight drawer dresser in a new color! A new color that we BOTH love. Which is unheard of for us. We bought it immediately. We did not have to drive home with our knees in the dash, and Matt didn't have to use the GPS to tell him the speed he was going. WHEW.

On Sunday, when I came home from church, Matt surprised me by being halfway done assembling the dresser! By the end of the night we'd cleaned up some of the clutter, re-positioned our bed and put the dresser against the wall. It was definitely a happy accident--I mean, I'd been talking about maybe rearranging our room, but hadn't decided to do it. trip to Ike@ and one moment of failing to measure in advance (we were off by only 6 inches though!) and, um, yeah. We had to rearrange or else it wasn't going to fit.

But you know what? It makes our bedroom feel huuuuuuuge. And I don't care if it's "bad fe*ng s*hui" to sleep with your bed in line with the door--I love it. It works. And although the bed isn't made, and although it was too late to finish tidying up--I love it so much that I'm gonna share pictures!

the newly-assembled and filled dresser (with things to-be-relocated on top!)

the bed from the doorway. (excuse the nightstand craziness--it just got thrown there when I moved it at 1130pm last night)

and, the best part? it's cat-tested and Gobi approved. :) He was a little freaked out when he came over and everything had been moved, but before the night was over he was all cuddled up in his spot right above my head. And even Hazel seemed less restless last night!

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