Thursday, March 31, 2016

Three Things: Beautifully Basic Chores

Some of my favourite times are when Sheldon and I are doing the most normal activities. I am not a huge fan of dinner dates in fancy restaurants. Not that Sheldon and I have really ever been to a fancy restaurant together. I can't be myself as much in those settings. I like when we are going through the motions of daily life together. We are sort of "playing house" in anticipation of getting to live together and spend every day together. There were times when being together was a rare treat for us, so when we get to spend time doing basic chores or doing errands it feel like a luxury. Here are three of my favourite everyday things to do with Sheldon. They are things that sometimes seem like a chore when you have to do them alone, but for some reason I love doing with Sheldon. 

1. Grocery Shopping: This is one of my favourite things to do with Sheldon, because it feels like a game. We are very frugal and we always thinking about ways to get a bargain and choosing one item over another. I also love to shop and don't get to often, so buying a bag of chips or a gallon of milk is a treat.

2. Driving Places: Driving around is when we just get to sit together. We talk over things or we sit and listen to the radio. Sometimes one of us will read to the other. Ever since I moved back to America I have become a fan of riding around in cars. It is soothing to me. Warm, safe and dry. 

3. Cooking Together: Making dinner is by far one of my favourite things to do with Sheldon by far. The coziness of our respective, small kitchens. The smells and the harmony of working toward creating a dish. I have often said that there is almost nothing sexier than watching a guy cook you food. When we prepare food together I feel safe and glad. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Movies With Radical Tone Shifts

WARNING: This post contains three spoilers for movies that were made in the 60's. 

Yesterday I talked about getting overly existential on the bus. But that wasn't the only thing we did on the bus. After we devoted a good hour to existential-window-gazing we entertained ourselves by watching the movie Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman on my laptop. This is an old film from the 1960's, which I would classify in a special category of Films Which Lure You into Thinking They Will Be Lighthearted Throughout, But Take an Unexpectedly Dark Turn. 

The whole film appears to be fun comedy about the trials of prison life as seen by Paul's character Cool Hand Luke, who is brazen, cavalier and "cool". The majority of the movie is humorous prison life episodes: Cool Hand Luke bets the camp that he can eat 50 eggs. Hilarious! Cool Hand Luke and the gang ogle a woman washing her car. So funny! (Actually, blatant sexism) But then the end of the movie is tragic. You are left feeling like, "How did we go from Paul Newman stuffing his face with eggs to Paul Newman getting shot in the neck in an abandoned church in the rain?!"

Another film in this category is The Great Escape starring Steve McQueen. SPOILER ALERT: This movie starts out fun and lighthearted. The gang at the POW camp are resourceful and cunning as they plot the escape. Many fun times occur, involving Steve McQueen's character implacably bouncing a baseball in solitary confinement. Or one character surreptitiously emptying pocketfuls of tunnel dirt through his pants legs into the prison yard. But in the last ten minutes the mood of the film changes. One minute Steve McQueen is zipping across the European countryside on his stolen motorbike and the next minute almost every major character gets gunned down in a field.

Then of course there is West Side Story. This may not count, because it is a musical and may be better considered under that light. But here too we have a joyful, lighthearted first act in which Natalie Wood as Maria sings a song about "feeling pretty and witty and gay" in a shop full of fluffy dresses. Fast forward to a major shoot out in the grungy streets of New York City.

May I also complain about something that has always bothered me about this movie? Natalie Wood is super old! She is portraying a 15 year old, but she was 33 at the time the movie was made. I can never get over this when I watch the movie, which is otherwise great. I have the same problem with Olivia Newton-John in Grease. She was 30. I guess I should try to be happy for them, especially since Hollywood favors younger actors so much.

OK, getting back to the topic at hand:

I think that the genre of Films Which Lure You into Thinking They Will Be Lighthearted Throughout, But Take an Unexpectedly Dark Turn is becoming obsolete, because modern audiences can't handle the shift in tone. Take me as a representative of my generation. See how upset I was that I couldn't predict the whole tone of the film? We have become a viewing culture which expects our films to fall neatly into one of a few categories. If the movie is funny then it is a comedy. If it has spaceships in it then it is SciFi. But a movie that is funny and sad? Whaaaaat? That's not what the package indicated!

Our generation wants the package to tell us everything about the contents so that there are no surprises. Think about how movie trailers these days give away almost every good scene of the movie. They want to lure audiences into seeing the movies by showing the best cards in their hand. It is not surprising in a culture where we have access to any genre, any music and any movie we want. Because we have the power of infinite choice we must make sure everything falls cleanly into one category.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Travel Out of Your Comfort Zone

We spent the whole night on the bus. From 7 in the evening to 7 in the morning we travelled on a Greyhound from Sheldon's family in Missouri to Wheaton. I liked the very first part of the trip when the sun was still out and we sat watching Missouri zip by out the bus window. I thought of the Simon and Garfunkel song America. The song's title suggests what it is about, but in addition to being about the country, it is also about the sense of melancholy that comes with travel. 

Both Sheldon and I experience a profound heaviness whenever we undertake a journey home or back to school. It makes sense, because travel means going somewhere new, but it also means leaving and goodbyes. Travel gives you time to think about your life in the context of the hugeness of the world. It can make you feel small. When you are home your life, your job, your friends are the centre of your day, but when you are displaced from all of those things your life looses a lot of its meaning.

So do we tend to get a little overly existential on the bus? Absolutely. But it feels good to spend time feeling that way every once in a while. We devoted a good hour to existential-window-gazing, but then we entertained ourselves by watching the movie Cool Hand Luke starring Paul Newman on my laptop. More about that tomorrow. So Today I have decided to make my drawings centre around our bus trip and the lyrics of the Simon and Garfunkel song.

Everybody knows that there are some hard parts to bus travel: Cramped seats, gross toilet, weird fellow passengers, strange smells...But there are some nice parts as well. Let me see...Um, I already talked about the looking out of windows part...I know! It was nice to be with Sheldon the whole time.  He is a good fellow to travel with, because he is not like me and does not get irritable after five bus-bound hours. He also is great at packing snacks. He brought cold pizza, leftover Easter ham in dinner rolls, assorted vegetables and dried fruit. What a guy.

Another thing I like about the bus? I become a member of lower middle class America for a day. You know the saying "We're all in the same boat"? Well, we are all in the same bus: me, a white girl who goes to a crazy expensive white school; the single black mom with her tired eyes and her wriggling two-year-old; the Mexican guy with the huge turquoise ring who talks super loud on his phone in Spanish--we are all in the same bus. We are part of the same exhausted trickle of folks getting off the bus at one in the morning. I don't often get out of my white suburban bubble. I have to say it is not exactly comfortable for me. But I also think it is good for me to remember that the rest of AMerica doesn't look like Wheaton, Illinois.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Weekend Wedding Update #2

We took a big step in the wedding planning department today: We started our Wedding Registry. This was big, because it is one of those wedding things that baffles me. What does one put on one's registry? How big is it? If you choose expensive items do people think you are too greedy? If you ask for things that are too cheap, then you are stuck with them for the rest of life. 

Part One: The Registry
We got the scanning device and received a brief crash course in its usage. Then we were set loose in the store. First: Kitchen Stuff. We should get a blender. Which blender? This super expensive one? Would we use all those attachments? No. This blender is too pretentious. Ok, what about these? No. Not classy enough. How about we get a set of flatware? Ok. This one? No. The tines on the forks are too far apart. This one? No. The stems are too wide. 

This is the way the whole trip goes. By the time we get to Bathroom Stuff we are exhausted. I have a headache and Sheldon is droopy. We have managed to scan a total of 14 items. Not even close to the clerk's suggestion that we scan up to 300 items in order to give our guests enough to choose from. But we cannot go on. The process of making so many choices and having them all crammed in front of us, awaiting our judgement was too much. 

My favourite thing on our registry so far? The vacuum cleaner. I threw caution to the wind and opted for the most expensive, most impressive vacuum cleaner. Sheldon's favourite thing? A thing called a ream cutter, which cleanly chops through massive stacks of paper. We put it on our list just in case someone wants to blow 2000$ on a book-making tool for us. We are doubtful. 

Part Two: The Strategy Session 
In other wedding news we also had an important Strategy Session headed up by Sheldon's mother. It was kind of like those scenes in war movies, when the military folk sit in a dark room and talk about the war they are fighting. They usually look at shocking images on a screen operated by a severe, uniformed person. They also have glasses of water in front of them to keep time hydrated during the difficult hours spent war-mongering.

Ok, so our meeting was slightly different. We were sitting around the kitchen table in the morning light. We were also plotting about cake and bridesmaids dresses, not bombs and nuclear weapons. Although Sheldon's mother is remarkably organised and driven, she is not quite as intense as the type of straight backed, tight-lipped army ladies that turn up in those movies. She helped us map out the way the day of the wedding would look. Our hope is to have an outdoor picnic-style meal followed by a sunset ceremony and cake afterwards. It felt good to know how the day would look, so that we can now start on planning the details.

Sheldon's mother was insistent upon our desperate need to GET GOING on the planning. She even gave Sheldon a special binder in order to help him map out the months leading up to the day. 

As of right now I feel OK about the wedding. Some stuff I am actually looking forward to planning, like colours and invitations. I will keep you guys posted next week! 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Three Things: Watercolour Scenes from the Train

We took the train from Chicago to Kansas City today. For the first hour we sat looking out of the windows saying very little. We were enthralled by the scenery. First we watched the city pass by and fade from Harlem, to Brookfield and into smaller and smaller suburbs. We have been in love with a graphic novel artist called Chris Ware, who draws beautiful miniature landscapes of the the Chicago suburbs in amazing detail and colour. We felt like we were flying through a Chris Ware novel. For my Three Things Series I tried to capture some of the beauty in the following three scenes (plus one bonus!). 

It was a pretty make-shift art studio on the train. I used a Uni-Ball, black pen and watercolours, which I wetted using a little bit of water from a water bottle in a used coffee cup. I balanced my notepad on my knee and tried not to get pain all over the train-issued pillow. We are now sitting in Sheldon's childhood home with his parents. Just chatting. Bed soon. Goodnight. 

1. Telephone Poles

2. The Pit

3. Houses and Street

Bonus: The Farmhouse

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cinched Waist

Super short, super random post tonight. I love the feeling of having something cinch around my middle. I don't know why, but it makes me feel cozy. 

A belt, a pair of loving arms, a scarf, a wide elastic band...I love it! Sometimes I tie a scarf around my waist while walking around the house just to feel comfy. 

I don't like constricting jeans waists. Those hurt. But one time I went to a museum where we got to try on Victorian clothes. I tried on a corset and was like, "Yes. This is awesome."

 Perhaps it is like how babies like to be swaddled, because it makes them feel safe. Lately I have been wearing large blanket scarves over my jackets and cinching it with a belt as outerwear. I get to be cinched all day long. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Nap Time

When did naps become the most delicious thing? When came the shift between the nap as a form of torture and the nap as blissful? Remember when the prospect of lying down for an hour and SLEEPING was the worst? I do. I remember that we used to be allowed a book or two in bed. The worst punishment for bad behaviour was taking away the books for nap time. Then I got to college and began to think of a nap as a treat. I would plan them out in advance like an addict dreaming about their next fix. 

On Sunday I woke up early and went running before church. By the time church was over I had turned into an angry, tired ogre. I crashed in the car ride home. Poor Sheldon found himself chauffeuring an unpleasant, hungry, tired beast instead of his beautiful, charming fiancé. Of course he remained gentlemanly throughout and pretended not to notice how my hair had turned into gnarly horns and I spoke only in grunts. 

Sheldon: What did you think of the sermon today, Lucy Rose?
Ogre: Graaaarggggg...
Sheldon: Is that so? Good thoughts. Would you like me to make you some lunch at my apartment? 
Ogre: [Beats chest with taloned fists, lifts head and howls] Ahhrooooohhhh!!!
Sheldon: Lovely. I'll make us some tea as well. 

My dad is the opposite. He wakes up from naps feeling grumpy. His does have a remedy though. Before he settles down a hard day of he sets out bait for himself. The bait is meant to soothe his savage breast and coax him into docility. He has a piece of chocolate, orange juice and some coffee. It is like a potion in a fairy tale which transforms The Beast into a Gracious Ruler of the Peaceful Kingdom. When I wake up from I nap I feel like my head is in a cloud of fog, but the ogre in me has subsided and I feel relatively human again.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Weekend Wedding Update #1

I am getting married in four months. July 22nd to be exact. I am slightly terrified. In fact I have had a series of nightmares about the wedding almost every night this week. Yikes! I have to do something about this. I have to blog about it, in order to get all my angst out. Sooo...Welcome to day one of The Weekend Wedding Update! This is a new segment which I will be starting on my blog every Saturday. It will be a time for me to fill you in on how the things are going. I think this will help me to feel like the process of planning a wedding is more of an adventure and less of a burden that is looming over my head like Damocles' Sword

Here is a descriptions of a typical Lucy Rose Wedding Nightmare. 

It is the day of my wedding. I have arrived at the park by the river which we have chosen for the ceremony and reception. Even though it is a dream, everything is actually pretty accurate to life. The pavilion is full of people. I look down at myself. I am wearing a blue dress. It is crepe-y and powder blue. It has poofy sleeves like the girl in Napoleon Dynamite. The fact that I am wearing a blue dress instead of a white wedding one makes me feel a little concerned. I also have very long hair which is entangled with little wilted flowers and is kinda messy.

It is at this point that a lady rushes toward me. In my dreams this lady is usually an amalgam of Sheldon's mom and my Matron of Honour, Lisa. Basically some female who is deeply entrenched in the planning side of things. She runs up to me and starts asking questions about things like, "Where is the cake? What are we feeding everyone? Do we have a pastor?" It this point in the dream I start to panic and realize that I am not wearing beautiful bridal makeup. I am actually wearing the make-up of the night before and it is melting off my face. Also we have apparently forgotten to plan everything. 

Then I wake up hyperventilating. The people in the dreams and the settings are all very real. As well as the feeling that I have forgotten to plan some crucial elements of the wedding. It also plays to my anxiety about being the most gorgeous bride in all of history. I want to look my absolute best on The Day, but in the dream I am wearing a tacky dress and my makeup is hideous. 

When Sheldon hears about these dreams he says, "Don't worry, Lucy Rose. It is not going to be like that. We are not going to let any of those things happen." I am glad I am not alone in this process. I have many people supporting me. I have to remember that I am not the only person getting married here.

Our Status Thus Far:
Three of the hard parts of wedding planning are done: The Date, The Location and The Guests. These crucial components are very difficult to pin down. But we have done it! Hooray! 

Stay tuned for next week's Weekend Wedding Update!

Remember when we got engaged

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Three Things: Running Tips


There are ways running can be less terrible. Hmm. That sounds so defeatist. Especially after all of the glowing praise for running I gave the other day. Where did this poor attitude toward running come from all of a sudden? Confession: I wrote that post about reasons I love to run on a day when I didn't go running. Today I am writing to you after having gone for a long run earlier this afternoon. I hadn't gone for several days so my body was shocked and confused. "What are we doing out here, Lucy Rose? The sun is shining, all we want to do is lie down in it and sip tea! What are you trying to make us do?!" Honestly, it was rough. But I made it through and the minutes afterward felt so good. So, for those of you who need some inspiration to get outside and run, here are three things that have helped me, both now and when I was beginning.

1. Make a Plan
This seems like a no-brainer. But I think while some people may plan to run, but they don't actually plan the course of their run. There are a few key benefits to be gained by choosing a route and time limit ahead of time. Firstly, you can decide how long you want to run and map out a way to get that desired mileage. Secondly, you have an end in sight. Rather than floundering around wondering if you can stop yet or finding yourself in random side-streets, you can pace your run according to a knowledge of your route. It is much easier to endure something strenuous if your know it has a finishing point.

2. Sing a Song
This was something that my older brother taught me on the very first run I went on. He was on the track team at our school and in the eight grade. He was hot stuff to little fifth grade Lucy Rose. He even broke our school's record for the mile! Everything he did was cool and I wanted to do anything he wanted to do. One day he went for a run. I wanted to come with. Amazingly, he let me. But I had a really hard time keeping up. I lagged twenty side-walk squares behind him with a terrible stitch in my side. He told me that when he was in training for track they always had to keep running through the pain. But if I needed to I could walk and put my hands above my head. He also told me to pick a simple song and sing it over and over in my head. The song would help me create a rhythm for my breath and steps, which would help me to keep a steady pace. So I sang Jesus Loves Me over and over. It helped! But you can get a little sick of your song after a while...

3. Pick a Buddy
Another seemingly obvious one. And it kind of ruins the whole solitude thing, if that's what you are going for. But running with another person is so helpful for keeping the pace, not giving up and even pushing you to a speed or distance you otherwise wouldn't have achieved. For me it can also be a welcome distraction from the pain.

Bonus Running Tip: If you are going to run alone write an emergency contact number in Magic Marker on your upper arm or somewhere on you body that is visible. That way if you get in an accident people can know who to call. Don't worry about looking weird. You'll be running so fast that people will just think you have a wicked tattoo.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Inspired to Run: What I keep running

"I love the feeling of perspiring and respiring...I loved the feeling of being fast." This is taken from a conversation I had with one of my English professors today about why he loves to run. He also mentioned that he runs for solitude--as a break from his highly social position and an opportunity to recharge. I have similar motivations to run, which I shall enumerate below.

1. Feeling Fast
I remember thinking to myself when I would sprint late to school, "It is incredible that my body can move this quickly. I don't need anything like wheels or and engine in order to go several mph!" I was fascinated by this ability that most of us humans have. There is something exhilarating about feeling fast. In one of the last scenes of the last Narnia novel, The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, several of the characters get to experience running over stretches of hills and fields without feeling fatigue. I always picture this when I get a rush of pure joy of speed.

2. Being Outside
This was another thing my professor mentioned. It draws me to running as well. It is a way that I get to commune with nature. I get to breathe in huge gulps of air and wind through forest paths. No, I don't get too up close and personal with flower buds and twigs and things, but I do get to be in nature for a prolonged period of time.

3. Playing Mindgames
I sometimes think of running as of a strategy game I am playing against myself. I am trying to convince myself to run faster than my body thinks it can. I use a series of internal motivational speeches to coax myself into running up to that tree. Ok, now to that rock. Now run all the way to that signpost and so on. If I am running around a track repeatedly then I design a system of which circuits I will run fast, which moderately fast and which slowly.

4. Learning a Place
I mentioned this a little bit in yesterday's post. I used running as a way to get to know my new town when I was a kid. I ran all over and pretty soon knew it like the back of my hand. I do this almost everywhere I travel: I go for a run in the new place. Even if I am only there for a few days I wake up early and run around before the activities of the day begin. It gives me a sense of where I am and what else is there. If it is an urban place then before I go running I ask a local person if there are any places to avoid. I love the way this can make me feel less like a tourist and more like someone who lives there.

5. Joy
I find joy in running. This goes along with what I was saying above about running over hills in Narnia. Running gives me energy. Wind whooshing by my ears is amazing. Sometimes I listen to music which in itself gives me a boost while running. The twenty minutes after a run are the best. Your heart beat is stabilising, your legs tingle and you can feel a stream of lovely endorphins trickling through your veins.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Motivated to Run: Why I started running

Your lungs are imploding. Your nose is streaming. A mixture of sweat and rain is trickling its way down the middle of your chest. Your shins throb each time they thud the pavement. You feel like cursing. But then you realise that the only person you could curse at is yourself. You chose this activity. No one forced you into it. You are on a run. 

Why do some people do this to themselves? What is the appeal of putting your body through this ordeal? Today I want to talk about how I got started running. 

I started running when I was eleven, two weeks after moving to the Czech Republic. I could not speak the language, yet I attended the national public school in my small town of Frydlant nad Ostravici. One day during tělesná výchova or P.E., we ran races. I was the second fastest girl. After class the teacher asked me in broken English if I wanted to be in a race against the other middle schools in the area. I said yes. When you don't speak the language of everyone in your school you tend to be slower than everyone else. So it felt pretty dang good to be fast in something. 

That weekend I ran. I ran more than I ever had before. On Monday morning I woke up early and ran before school. All day I waited for the teacher to tell me about the race. Nothing. I woke up early again on Tuesday and every day that week. On Friday I got enough nerve to ask my teacher about the race. She said it had already happened and she had asked the other girl--the one who was faster than me--to race instead. Rats. 

Even though I didn't have any particular reason to keep running, I did. I ran after school. I ran along the river Ostravice, which my town is named for. I ran into the mountains that surround our town and on forest trails which were covered in pine needles. Running became a thing that I could be good at. I needed to have something like that, because of how stupid I felt during school. I did the same with reading, if you recall from this post. I clung fast to non-verbal ways of expressing my worth or skill. Drawing was another retreat for the same reason: it required no language. 

Another reason I liked to run was how it helped me to get to know the layout of my new home. The more I ran the more I knew where everything was. I never actually got to be faster than the other girl in my class. But I got to where I could run farther than her. Eventually I did race against other schools. I did well, because I was the only one who ran on their own time. Everyone else did it because their teacher made them. Every time I raced against other kids I could tell that I was the only one who loved it. 

So what about you? Do you run? Why do you run even when your body protests? Or do you hate to run?