Thursday, December 24, 2015

Three Things: Christmas Things

Happy Christmas Eve Friends, 
I am sitting in the living room of my dear friends Jonny and Lisa. A few moments ago we were happily chatting and sipping Bailey's when catastrophe struck. A cry was heard from the bedroom. Jonny went to investigate. Baby Nora (age 2) had vomited. Everywhere. It is actually hard to believe that such a small human could contain that much substance. Well, let's move on from this topic. I am sure that Jonny and Lisa would be glad for me not to go too much into the details of their middle child's gastronomical misadventures. Let's talk about Christmas, shall we? I would like to talk about things I love about Christmas. To be specific: I would like to talk about Three Things I Love About Christmas.


Thing Number One - My Family is Together: As you know I live in America while my parents and two of my brothers live in Europe. My oldest brother and I get to fly out to Europe once a year to be all together. It is a very special time. There is no group of people on Earth who have so much in common. The other day my dad was talking about how for me and my brothers there is a very unique relationship. When we are with English speakers we express the English speaking side of our personalities. When we are with Czech speakers we express our Czech sides. But there are very few people on the planet who understand both languages well enough to understand both sides of our personalities. That means that when I am with my brothers I am with people who can appreciate me from several angles. I sometimes lament the fact that key people in my life know me either as only one or the other. Christmastime means that for a couple weeks I will be understood. 

Thing Number Two - Christmas Dinner: We are not a family of cooks. Sheldon's family is. But the Tills cook to survive, it is not an art form that comes to us naturally. So on Christmas day we have a tradition. We choose the food that we all like the most and that requires the least amount of preparation. For instance we used to order Chinese food. Once we went to the only restaurant in the area that served buffalo chicken wings and brought home a huge Tupperware of them three days before Christmas. Lately our favourite option is Indian food from boxes. We hoard boxes of Indian food that we bring from the States and foreign food stores, make a huge pot of rice and have a meal that no one stressed about preparing and everyone enjoys. I like the way this tradition effectively kills anxiety over food on Christmas day, minimises stress and appeals to all parties while still being a treat. 

Thing Number Three - Nighttime: Since I was about thirteen years old Christmas stopped being as thrilling as it was when I was a child. I just lost the magic feeling of presents, expectancy and the other things that make Christmas thrilling and lovely for a lot of people. I don't think I am cynical. I just find it hard to be excited. I always feel that loss when Christmas comes. I am sad that I can't feel magic during the time of year that Christ's birth is celebrated. But there are a few moments during the season that manage to bring back a spark of that feeling They are like pinpoints of light that pierce through my Grinch-like exterior. One of them happened this evening as my family and I walked home from the Christmas Eve service on the town square. The night was absolutely clear and deep blue with a full moon. For a few seconds my heart filled with joy and anticipation. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Home for the Holidays

My younger brother Paul Hugh always wants me to get out of the house when I come home. He seems to be worried that I have become a hermit. "You should go do something", is what he normally says. He is afraid that I will offend people who would enjoy hanging out with me. But the truth is that when I get home over Christmas or Summer vacations I am usually a) super tired after the end of the semester and b) I genuinely enjoy being alone or just with my family. Being at home is exciting to me. I love walking around our small town and looking at colours and shapes. I can linger in the grocery store for way longer than PH, because I have become fascinated by things that I used to find boring. 

Since I have been back in Czech one of my main activities have been getting caught up with Mad Men with my mother. This is a show which only she and I out of our family watch. I waited to finish the show until I got home so that we could watch together. It has been very satisfactory to have a Mad Men buddy. We have been geeking out over it. Both of us consider it the pinnacle of television writing intelligence as well as an exquisite specimen of period drama. 

The other thing I have been doing is eating at random times of day due to jet-lag. My food of choice are sugar waffles with cookie paste and microwave poached eggs. What is cookie paste? It is caramel cookies which have been blended to form a substance of a peanut butter consistency. Does anything sound better? And what are microwave poached eggs? They are exactly what they sound like. How do you make them? I will give you a recipe. I have never written a recipe for my blog. This seems like a good time to do so. Such fun. 

I eat all the time at school, because eggs are one of the only things that I buy for my dorm. So when I am hungry between meals they are often the only food I have. I realise that this makes me sound kind of sad. Don't feel bad for me. If I needed food I would buy it. I purposefully try not to buy food at school so that I make the most of the meal plan that my parents buy for me. 

Well, this has been rather random. I hope you have enjoyed this episode of Lucy Rose Types Somewhat Random Things Onto Her Blog for the Entire Universe to Read. Hooray for the Interwebs! 

I am having technical difficulties involving my scanner and the internet. I will add the drawings for this post tomorrow!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Coming Home from College

Dear Friends,
I am sitting at the dining room table at my house in the Czech Republic. My parents are going to bed. My mother is fixing a snack of microwaved prunes to eat in bed. No comment. Actually...there is no way to not comment on this. Mom, that sounds disgusting. Your husband must love you a whole lot to fall asleep next to a woman chewing stewed prunes. 

My littlest brother is sleeping and my other little brother is at an all-night Star Wars marathon. I am severely jet-lagged. That is why I suddenly got hungry at 9 PM and am eating a small meal consisting of jelly beans, half a Belgian sugar waffle and half a wrinkly apple (Apples are best when wrinkly and brown, in my opinion. That is not a joke. I actually think that.) 

I got here on Saturday. It took the usual 24 hours of travel. Three flights and two hour long car trips. I left the day after finals. Speaking of which, if you have been wondering where I went the answer is that I disappeared to The Land of Finals From Which Few Return Alive. I wanted to stay on track with blogging, but I just couldn't do both finals and my blog justice at the same time. I needed to choose to focus on finals, rather than attempt to do a shoddy job on both. But, don't worry. I am here now and my hope is to continue my commitment to blog every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday without any more interruptions. 

Now we are back to our regularly scheduled program the question is: What should I talk about today?  How about I get you a little caught up on things that happened during finals. 

The first big piece of news is that I quite Improv. I have been a part of my college Improv troupe for a year and a half. I auditioned at the end of my Freshman year, without any prior experience. I was thrilled to get in. Although it took me a long time to feel comfortable with the other members of my team, al of whom were complete strangers at first, I gradually began to really care for them. We have become a better and better group of players the longer that we are together. We named ourselves The Secret Menu. I have loved the way the doing Improv gives me a burst of energy. It allows me to exercise my brain, my interpersonal communication skills and my performing skills. (Also my computer hacking skills.)

So why did I quit? Well, there are a number of reasons:

1) This blog. I really want to give time and energy into making my blog worthwhile.

2) My job at the school paper. I also want to give my skills to making my job at the paper brilliant, without feeling like I am too stretched.

3) My schoolwork. Because of my blog, The Record and Improv, schoolwork always falls to the bottom of the stack. That is not good.

4) Joy. Improv has recently been more of a burden than a joy, because of the reasons I just said. Also, it takes a lot of energy out of me, while it doesn't always give me back as much.

5) My wedding. I know that planning our wedding is going to be hard and take up a lot of time. I want to feel like I can put some time into that without feeling like butter scraped over too much bread.

As a goodbye to my fellow team members I made a small book for each person. the book were cartoons of each one of us as we are in normal life and as we are when we are playing our most common character. For instance I drew a cartoon of my alter ego, whom my teammates call The Duchess. This is an elderly woman with a snooty British accent.

The next bit of news is that Sheldon and I will be apart for Christmas. Now this isn't huge news: we have never been together for Christmas. But this is our first Christmas as engaged people Hopefully it is the only Christmas we will spend as engaged people. This makes it somehow different--more sad to be apart. We were talking about it over Skype yesterday and decided that every other time we have been apart for a long itme like when Sheldon went to Italy for five months or when I was in England and Czech for 16 weeks, we have felt that the separation was good. Us being apart meant that we could focus on things that were, for the time, more important than us being together.

But this time it feels weird to be away. I wish I was with him. He is staying in Wheaton so that he can be available in case of a snowstorm on Christmas day. Although he might get to go home to Kansas City after all, now that it appears there will be no snow. But we decided that it is better if we try to treat our time apart as something valuable and good rather than something that we just have to put up with. We shall see how we do in that regard.

Well, that concludes my news for today. I will be back with you tomorrow and perhaps tell you a bit about my time at home. Have a lovely night.

Lucy Rose

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Three Things - Roommate Things

I was not looking forward to my return to college after Thanksgiving at Sheldon's house. It felt hard to come down off the high of getting engaged and visiting Sheldon's family. But when I walked through the door all three of my roommates greeted me. Seeing them was a complete joy. It was like coming home to a group of sisters. Sara had brought back several make-up items from a Black Frida sale. So we clustered on the floor of our living room and tried on make-up products for an hour. There was lots of remarks like: "That colour looks stunning on you", "Sara is the only one of us who can pull off the copper tone" and "Wow. That brings out your blue eyes in a subtle, beautiful way." It felt like a scene from the novel I am reading called The Red Tent. It is historical fiction about the lives of the Old Testament patriarch Jacob's four wives. The wives form a fierce sisterhood and often spend time lovingly grooming one another in the "red tent", which is the place to which they retreat when their periods come. Today I will share with you three of the activities we do together in our apartment. 

1. Eating Fresh Banana Bread In Towels. Leya makes delicious banana bread out of all of the browning bananas we bring back from our dining hall. One night we started eating it and Hannah was still in her bath towel toga and towel turban. Someone suggested that we all wear togas and turbans while eating our bread. So we did. We sat in a row on the coach in our towels eating heavily buttered banana bread. 

2. Exercising...While Challenging Gender Norms. For some reason all of us like to work out at the gym at around the same time of the night. Usually we all wind up in the gym at 10 PM. When we go together we like to walk over to the side of the weight room usually inhabited by guys lifting barbells. We like to put our coats and keys in the cubbies on that side of the room in order to challenge the percieved gender divide within the weight room--men on the left with the free weights and barbells, women on the right with the stair-masters and bicycle machines. In fact, we even like to lift weights together.

3. Adoring Sheldon. This could sound odd. I realise that. What I mean is that I may be engaged to Sheldon, but all four of us are in love with him. Don't worry we are not trying to reenact the polygamy in the novel I mentioned above. What I am TRYING to say is that all of us enjoy having Sheldon visit our apartment, because of his peaceful and kind demeanour. He usually does some dishes when he comes. Often he comes to make dinner and offer some to anyone else who happens to be around. He is sweet and pleasant. This evening, for instance, my roommates found out that he was coming later in the evening and there was great rejoicing. "When will he get here?! We haven't seen him for two days!" 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My Engagement Story - Part II

It was done. We were finally engaged! We had been talking about it for so long and now it was official. Sheldon put the his ring on my finger. The appearance of the ring was the only part of the engagement that was a major surprise. It is yellow gold with an oval ruby in the centre. The ruby is clasped by tiny gold claws which resemble minuscule golden beads from above. The ruby is surrounded by fourteen miniature diamonds. on either side of this whole oval deal are two slightly larger diamonds. The gems are about half a centimetre at the widest point. I love it. 

My ruby ring is perfect for me for several reasons:

1. I prefer yellow gold over white or rose gold. It feels more old fashioned to me and I am always interested in appearing vintage.

2. The central stone is a ruby rather than a diamond. I love rubies because they are red and I love red. Wow. So deep. But I also love them because my great-grandmother's name was Ruby. Ruby Lee Foster to be exact. Sheldon didn't know this, but I feel strongly about symbols which gradually acquire significance even if the original intention wasn't there initially. I also prefer gemstones because Sheldon and I are invested in conspiracy theories surrounding the diamond industry which would suggest that diamonds aren't all the media had cracked them up to be.

3. I like that they include diamonds. I know I just finished telling you about my distrust of the diamond industry, but that aside, I love sparkle. Most people don't know this about me, because my style is pretty understated and I wear a lot of grey and blue. But I have always been a racoon (maybe a magpie?)--basically attracted to shiny things. Sheldon knows this about me, which is why he included a few small diamonds, so I could have something sparkly to wear every day.

Back to the story. After The Question had been posed and answered we slowly made our way toward the car. Now the pressure was off and I felt my appetite return, my stomach settle and I could enjoy the walk. Sheldon told me his plan for the rest of the evening. We would go get Mexican food and then drive back to my apartment where my roommates had planned a surprise party. I think that Sheldon blew the surprise by telling me this, but remember, Sheldon is not the greatest at surprises.

We were both giddy. We got into Sheldon's car and drove the long way to dinner on purpose so that we could look at a cool factory I wanted to see. We had dinner together at one of our favourite Mexican restaurants in West Chicago and then drove back to Wheaton. We received a text from my roommates asking us to dawdle a little that gave us a chance to stop at Walgreens (favourite store EVER) and buy a newspaper from the day of our engagement that we will keep it forever.

We finally made it back to my apartment where a group of close college friends was gathered. There were only about ten of us total, including Sheldon's younger brother who is a Freshman and my three roommates. They had turned our little apartment into a lovely place of twinkly lights. In one corner were some plastic champagne glasses and cupcakes. Tinsel and sequins hung from the wall as well as assorted baby photos of both of us. Our party consisted of telling the story of how Sheldon asked me to marry him, chatting animatedly and playing a How Well Do You Know Your New FiancĂ© Game designed by Leya. I was deeply impressed.

My favourite part happened half way through. We were standing around eating cupcakes and I turned to Leya and muttered, "This is everything I could have dreamed of. I feel so loved. My only regret is that my family and Jo (my best friend) are not here with me." Leya put a hand on my shoulder and said, "Come here. I need to show you something." She led me into our bedroom. On her empty desk were laid out several sheets of paper. One of them was an email from Jo telling me how much she wished she could be here for this. The others were notes from each of my parents.

At no point in the evening had I felt tears come to my eyes, but when I saw these notes they came. All of a sudden I felt so deeply loved by so many people: Sheldon (duh:), my roommates for anticipating my homesickness, my parents and Jo...

Sheldon and I spent the rest of the evening after the party going through our lists of family members and calling them to tell them the news. It felt so odd to wake up the next morning and look at my ring. I thought, "How can I just go to class like nothing has happened? I became a fairytale princess over the weekend, but the only way anyone would know is if they looked at my ring finger."

As I write this I have now been officially engaged to Sheldon for a week and two days. The magic has still hasn't disappeared yet.

Thanks for sharing this story with me. I want to tell you guys more about our story over the months leading up to our wedding. My plan is to make Saturday my Love Story Day. I will write about how we met, what we are like as a couple and all sorts of sappy things like that every Saturday. Keep an eye out!

Lucy Rose

I haven't signed off like this for a while. I sometimes miss it, because it feels like I am writing you all a letter. I think I might pick it up again.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

My Engagement Story - Part I

This weekend, Sheldon asked me to marry him. I cannot say this was a major surprise. In fact, because Sheldon and I have been talking about marriage for a long time, this was not a surprise at all. In fact, because of the kind of person Sheldon is--a skilled planner and terrible secret keeper, I had a pretty good idea of when Sheldon would propose. I could have predicted the moment down to the exact hour. Some people have asked, "Didn't it bother you that you weren't surprised?" To be honest, no. I know that the reason Sheldon is incapable of keeping a secret is because he is so transparent. The Sheldon you meet on the public street is the real Sheldon. In To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, Miss Maudie Atkinson tells Scout that her father Atticus, "Is the same in his house as he is on the public streets." I have always thought that this quality of consistency and transparency is incredibly attractive. Sheldon has that. Deception of any sort is so against his nature. My FIANCE (So exciting to use that word!) carefully planned the entire day and made it very special. I will describe it to you here. I hope you enjoy. 

After church on Sunday Sheldon picked me up at my apartment to "go on a walk". I put that in quotation marks because both Sheldon and I knew that this walk would contain Sheldon's proposal. Sheldon knew that I knew, but both of us were committed to pretending that the other person didn't. I think we thought we would break some solemn custom of secrecy surrounding the ritual of proposal, if I spoke aloud the words, "Sheldon, I know that you want to take me on a romantic walk in order to propose to me."

We drove to Geneva, Illinois in Sheldon's new truck. First we stopped at an unnamed coffee establishment (unnamed because I do not want to support them by giving them free advertising). Ordinarily this would have been a great treat and I would have gladly ordered coffee, but because of my nerves about being proposed to, I had had a weak stomach all day and could handle the acidic coffee. Instead I went to the bathroom for the twentieth time that day (also a result of nerves) and Sheldon bought tea.

We took our cup of tea to the final destination: The Fabyan Villa designed by modern architect Frank Lloyd Wright in the early part of the 20th century. The villa has extensive grounds and overlooks the Fox River. The first snow had fallen the day before so it was covered in a layer of fresh snow. We walked together through the snow to the outdoor bathroom so I could pee again and then traipsed toward the villa to "check out the architecture". Now, ordinarily I love some cool buildings, but on this occasion it was pretty hard to care about the harmonious simplicity of one of America's finest structures. I was more like, "Alright Sheldon, we all know why we're here. So when are you going to do it?!" Eventually we wended our way down toward the river. By this time I was getting supremely cold. But I knew I had to hold out until we got to Sheldon's ideal spot.

At one point I asked, "Hey Sheldon, can we turn around here? The wind is really blowing in my face." This was downright cruel, because I perfectly well knew what Sheldon was about to do and that he had a specific spot in mind. I guess I wanted to see what he would say. He was like, "Um actually, I had a specific spot in mind and so let's keep going." At this point both of us started giggling uncontrollably. It was as if our charade had reached the height of ridiculous and both of us couldn't hold it together for much longer. It ended up not being necessary to either stand in the cold or maintain our strange facade, because we reached our destination.

We had walked out onto a sort of peninsula on the river. On one side was the grey river and on the other was an frozen inlet of grey water. We stood on a snowy finger of land in between. Sheldon later remarked upon the significance of having four forms of water present at our engagement: water, snow, ice and the vapour from our mouths. Somehow we both think this is significant. We haven't figured out why. You guys will have to tell me if you have any ideas.

Back to the story. Sheldon gently unhooked my hand from his so that he could reach into his pocket. "I need to get something out of my pocket." He pulled out a piece of paper which he had folded into a special pouch. He got down on his knees and asked me to marry him. I said, "Sheldon, I would love to marry you."

Stay tuned, Part II comes tomorrow!