Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chick Lit Without the Cheesy

Well-written chick lit can be tough to find.  Sometimes I will pick up a book for the dog on the cover or the pink hearts, and instead of being lighthearted and sweet, it will be a chore to work through the book - the writing will be choppy, the dialogue unrealistic and over-the-top, and I usually end up not finishing it.  But other times, I expect to be disappointed by this genre of book, and I am actually surprised by how much I enjoyed it.  It is possible to find a book that can be considered both "literary" and "chick lit".  Here are some examples that I loved reading. (All photos from Goodreads)

Next to Love - Ellen Feldman
I adored every minute of this book!  Set during World War II, it's about three young wives whose husbands are soldiers.  Three very different, terrible things happen to each husband, and the wives must adapt to their new lives while still maintaining their relationships.  I thought it was moving and rather heartbreaking; it details the girls' transformations beautifully.  I was sad to finish this novel!

Bond Girl - Erin Duffy
I was a bit wary of this novel.  The cover makes it look like a trashy read full of illicit sex scenes (which, okay, sounds kind of awesome), AND it involved working in bonds on Wall Street - boring!  But I was very happily surprised.  The main character, Alex, does in fact work on Wall Street; somehow, though, the author managed to write it in a way that was very relatable and interesting to read.  Alex works only with men, and she must fight her way to the top as her male coworkers belittle and ridicule her for being a woman in a "man's job."  This reminded me of The Devil Wears Prada; I really enjoyed it.

Red Ruby Heart in a Cold Blue Sea - Morgan Callan Rogers
This was one of the most amazing debut novels I have ever read.  I loved the setting:  1960s Maine.  I loved the narrator:  a precocious young girl named Florine.  I loved the poetic writing and the plot.  Florine's mother leaves just as Florine is entering her adolescence, leaving her with her beloved grandmother and alcoholic father.  Throughout the book, Florine tries to find closure and deal with her mother's disappearance.  Read this!

The Sea of Tranquility - Katja Millay
This one is a bit more...trashy than the others, but I still really liked it.  Fans of the book "Beautiful Disaster" will love this.  Though the book is very long, it is an extremely fast read.  Nastya is the new girl at school, and she doesn't anyone.  This book explores why that is, and how she somehow becomes attached to the loner at school.  It sounds very cliche and predictable, and in a way, I suppose it was.  But I thought it was a typical boy-meets-girl story with some interesting twists and turns.  I really liked it.

It Looked Different on the Model - Laurie Notaro
This was a hilarious memoir about the author's life and embarrassing mishaps she has had in her marriage, her wardrobe, etc.  I rarely laugh out loud while reading, but I definitely LOLd multiple times while reading this.

Wife 22 - Melanie Gideon
This was a very sweet novel with a cute ending.  The narrator participates in an online survey about marriage (she is wife number 22 to take the survey, hence the title), and she finds herself intrigued by her researcher, though she is married herself.  Some unexpected twists and turns in the plot, and I really enjoyed the survey aspect.

Me Before You - Jojo Moyes
After reading this book, I am super super excited to read more from this author.  Lou is rather bored with her predictable life and relationship; then she gets a job caring for a young, depressed quadriplegic named Will.  When she finds out he no longer wants to live, she makes it her goal to change his life for the better.  I thought this book was amazing, though also very sad.

I Have Iraq in my Shoe - Gretchen Berg
This was a very lighthearted and irreverent memoir that is not meant to be taken seriously, since many parts of it are pretty damn shallow and not what you'd consider "politically correct."  However, I really liked it.  The author runs out of money and decides to go to Iraq to teach English.  The author is also obsessed with fashion and very wary of the unknown.  Funny, embarrassing stories ensue, etc.  A very fun read.

For some VERY light reading, try Elin Hilderbrand.  Always pretty predictable and overly sentimental, but for some reason, I can never get enough of the Nantucket setting.  I know absolutely nothing about Nantucket, but it is definitely on my list of places to visit simply because of the Hilderbrand novels.


A Spring in My Step

Let's not kid ourselves.  Spring is still months away.  But in between blizzards, thundersnow, and roads full of slush, there are moments when I can feel it coming.  Moments when I will take the dog for a walk and not have to wear a hat, when I don't need to warm up the car before leaving for work.  I look forward to those moments, and I'm hoping they will start sticking around.  Looking at springy inspiration on the Internet makes me feel a little better; when I get to put up the Easter egg wreath and outdoor decorations, my entire year is made.

Gorgeous picnic baskets from Style Me Pretty.  I can't wait for the weather to be nice enough to drag my picnic basket and blanket, some lemonade, and my husband out to the park!

Two adorable DIYs from All Things Katie Marie that are perfect for spring!  The baseball wreath (tutorial here) is a great masculine option when compared to a floral wreath; Jared would not be opposed to hanging this on our front door.  I also really love the moss-covered letters (tutorial here) to hang on a fence.  One day!

I am in love with these Swedish Easter trees called Paskris (this one found over at Apartment Therapy).  My grandma used to have something similar on her kitchen table in the spring, and I have been considering making one of my own for an Easter centerpiece.  Colorful and whimsical, and just my style!

Blair's style is always spot-on and super inspirational (from Atlantic-Pacific).  I love an army-style jacket paired with something feminine for spring.

I'm always looking for unique ideas for dying/painting Easter eggs (though they rarely turn out the way I had planned), and oh my gosh.  Super Mario Easter eggs?!  These are the best.

This Deborah Lippman nail polish is called Rockin' Robin, and it is a gorgeous robin's egg blue with flecks of black glitter in it, so it looks just like an actual robin egg.  I adore this.

I would never be able to pull this off; let's just get that straight.  A baker I am not. But it's so beautiful!!! Like the nail polish above, it mixes a light blue frosting with black specks (chocolate frosting artfully spattered onto the cake!) to resemble a robin's egg.

This popular brand of shoes started off in the UK, and now they are starting to become trendy in America as well.  They come in so many gorgeous colors, but I am partial to the light blue for spring, as you may have noticed. :)


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Just One of Dem Days (In Which I List the Ways in Which I Am Weird)

Today started off great.  I woke up late, drank a Mountain Dew, and headed off to Hobby Lobby to buy some paint for a crafty project.  After I got some puppy lovin' at a local shelter, I started to head home.  After pausing too long (I guess) at an intersection, the car behind me laid on his horn and flipped me off.  As he passed me, I looked at his car so I could give him a dirty look or, I don't know, stick my tongue out or something equally as badass.  But instead of seeing a person, I saw an open window, with something big and white flying out of it.  This guy went out of his way to pass me, honk his horn, roll down his window, and throw something at my car as he passed.  Whatever it was hit my driver's side window with a loud THUNK!, and I saw the guy's hand flipping me the bird yet again.

You guys, I pulled over to the side of the road and cried.  And then cried some more.  I could probably cry right now, in fact, just thinking about it.  It wasn't that this little...incident...scared me, though I guess it did a little.  It was that I took it personally.  I took that guy's finger and flying object straight to heart.  I thought to myself, But I'm a nice person!  Why did he do that to me?!  I'm nice!!!  And, seeing his Tennessee plate, thought, Iowans are nice!  Doesn't he know that?!  I thought Southern guys were supposed to be gentlemen!  I was personally hurt by what had happened.  After I got home and chilled out by way of a shower and an episode of Teen Mom, I wondered why I had bothered to feel so terrible about something that, really, had nothing at all to do with me.

After some thought, I realized I do this a lot.  Things that other people might see as benign, random situations for whatever reason tend to hurt my feelings, which are apparently as delicate as a goddamn butterfly wing.  Here are some examples.

When I get honked at while driving, I see it as a personal slight.  Not as a friendly reminder ("Hey!  The light's green!") or as just something people do when they're impatient, but as, Oh.  I am a terrible driver, and this person hates me.

Sometimes my husband will yawn when I'm telling him something.  OR he will yawn when we're watching a movie of my choice.  I usually take this personally, because how dare he be tired, right?  "You don't yawn when we're watching Avengers, Jared!  Why are you yawning only when we watch He's Just Not That Into You, Jared?!"

My mom will sometimes suggest, "Well, maybe you could start going to the gym?" as a response to my asking how to relieve stress, how to make my illness better, how to have more confidence, etc.  Though I know that this is a completely well-intended suggestion, I always question her.  "Why do you say that?  Do I look fat to you?  Do I look like I've gained weight?"  Sigh.  Poor Mom.

When dogs don't give me kisses.  When cats don't purr when I pet them.  Seriously.  I have a problem.  One time, I got bit by a dog, and I was upset not because it hurt, but because (as I cried to my husband later) he was supposed to be my friend!

My sister and I have tastes that are very similar - she likes to say that I copy her - and we like a lot of the same movies, music, etc.  So when she dislikes something that I really like (the show Modern Family, pit bulls, Joaquin Phoenix's movie Her), I'm like, oh...well, my taste must suck.

When someone texts me back, "K."  Enough said.

When a waiter or customer service person doesn't smile back at me during a transaction.  This is the most hypocritical thing ever, because I have worked in customer service for a long time, and I know how taxing it can be to constantly smile (especially when you have the bitch face/bitchy resting face like I do).  Or if I go into The Buckle, if a salesperson doesn't ask if they can help me, I always question my outfit choice.

Kids have never really liked me.  Besides my niece Audrey, though, I've never really been around kids or, to be honest, been much of a fan of them.  However, now that I'm working for a school district, I am around kids of all ages much more often, and I've gotten a lot less awkward around them.  So when I get blown off by a too-cool kid, I am all sad face inside.  On the flip side, though, when a kid really takes to me and wants me to be his partner in PE or her helper during class, I'm like score!  I'm cool!

I don't like it when people don't like me.  Who would've thought, right?  But I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE HATE ME!  When it comes to not caring what other people think, I talk a big game, but really I always am thinking, Please just don't dislike me, okay?!  The few times I dropped classes in college, I was afraid to make eye contact with my former professors in the halls because I worried they were mad.  When I leave a job, I automatically assume that my former coworkers think badly of me - I didn't go into Younkers for like two years after I quit, for God's sake!  Pam Beesly from The Office said it best, really:  "I even hate that Al-Qaeda hates me.  I think if they got to know me...they wouldn't hate me."

Wow, that was just one big list of crazy, all unloaded out there for everyone to see.  The petty worries and anxieties of an extremely sensitive twenty-something.  Is it completely insane to take this kind of crap to heart?  Does anyone else do this??

(This list made me forget about the object-throwing douchebag, anyway.  So that's something!)


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Forever A Lancer

Nearly everything that is dear to me, in terms of places/buildings, gets removed, replaced, or revamped.  The Cheshire Cat bookstore in Clear Lake, the bowling alley in my grandma's hometown, the public library in my own hometown.  Places that used to remind me of my childhood don't anymore.  My old elementary school is no exception.  When they tore it down, I was devastated.  When it was shuttered, but still there, my brother and I would go inside and walk through old desks and lockers, things that didn't have enough value to be auctioned off.  We must have gone there about ten times (one time scoring a dusty old globe, but shh, that's a secret).  But when they knocked it down, it was still too soon.  I still wasn't ready.  I wanted to go back through each and every room again.

The long hallway where the big blue Lost and Found box sat, where I once fell on my ass in front of several upperclassmen.

The kindergarten classroom, which I don't have much memory of besides the shame of stealing two pennies from a counting game.  I had this friend in elementary school, one of those friends we all have at some point, the one who talks us into doing things that we've always secretly wanted to do but never had the balls to do ourselves.  We stole money, we kept giggling to each other, until we were later guilted by our mothers into bringing the pennies back along with an apology letter.  I also remember making snacks as a surprise for the first-graders, a graham cracker with frosting that made it look like a traffic stoplight.  I walked across the room to give it to my assigned first-grader, and I dropped it, frosting side down, on the grimy gray tiles.  I looked around - no one seemed to have noticed - picked it back up, and gave it to her anyway.

The first grade room, where we had a bathtub in the corner that was filled with pillows and blankets for maximum comfort while reading.  That teacher was one of the best I've ever had, and she'd lead us on wild hunts for gingerbread men and teach us how to make butter.

The second grade room was where I had to confess to my teacher that yes, I had indeed pulled my pants down in front of the soccer field at recess.  She had looked at me, lips tight with what I now think was held-back laughter, and sent me and three of my pants-dropping friends to the principal's office.

In the third grade classroom, I don't remember a whole lot besides a few memorable visits from the school guidance counselor.  She talked to us about personal hygiene, and, on a day I was sad to have missed, she apparently taught us about "tooting," according to another classmate.  One day she handed out Starburst to some of us but not all of us, and she stared at the ones who didn't have a Starburst and shook her head sadly.  "This," she had told us, "is what segregation feels like."  Some kids cried.  The aforementioned penny-stealing best friend had reached over and given me her own pink Starburst, a gesture that nearly made the guidance counselor cry.

My fourth grade classroom would be where I seduced my first boyfriend with notes written in Gelly Roll pens, NSYNC songs, and kisses on the cheek up in "the loft" (a giant wooden - treehouse? - of sorts painted was where all of the fourth grade drama occurred).  It was where my particularly sharp-tongued teacher had told me I sucked at drawing, and also told me that she thought I was "probably ready to read 'Are You There God?  It's Me, Margaret.'"  I remember being extremely excited because that, as we all knew, was The Book About Periods.  I also recall a boy in my class saying to one of the girls, "Get in my belly!", a la Fat Bastard (Austin Powers was especially popular during this time), and the girl cried.

In fifth grade, we were especially nasty to a young, well-meaning teacher.  He read us whatever books we wanted, and he always let us sit on the foot-shaped pillows in his room during silent reading.  But regardless, he must have seemed an easy target, because we booby-trapped his chair with chalk dust, passed notes about him, and forced him to read to the entire class a book called 'Wonder', which we knew included lots of embarrassing phrases, like "Green M&Ms make you horny, and the orange ones make your boobs grow."  (The class voted on books he would read, and the girls in our class accomplished this goal by choosing only two books to vote on, 'Wonder' or 'Karen's Kitty Cat Club.'  I am an awful person.)

I spent quite a bit of time in the nurse's office when I was younger, asking for ice packs and searching my body for marks or bruises that I could insist were injuries.  I can't imagine how the nurse put up with it.  Connected were the secretary's office and the principal's office, where we would line up for fruit-shaped hard candies when we did well on spelling tests, and where I once vomited on the desk after fainting at a Christmas concert.

The gym is home to lots of memories.  Roller skating around and around the warped wooden floors with my sister and my dad at night, boombox set up in the corner, and I'd skate furiously over to change the song when "Magic Stick" by 50 Cent came on.  School dances, where my friends and I would sit on a pile of tumbling mats in the corner and talk about boys.  Various PE games that could double as torture (NOT including the parachute, oh God, I loved the parachute), including one my dad - a PE and history teacher - thought up that involved pulling one another's limbs as hard as we could over the half-court line.  Assemblies, magic shows, lip-synching contests, book fairs, volleyball games.  I might miss the gym the most.

The playground outside, where we'd jump off the top of a large wooden climbing thing we called "The Toaster" and every once in a while, pee behind trees, for whatever reason.  Under the outdated, wood-metal-and-tire equipment, we were taught by upperclassmen about "men-es-tration" and how, if a bug crawled into your hair, you could go brain-dead.  Girls-chase-boys was our favorite game, followed closely by talking them into giving us piggy-back rides.

The upstairs middle-school classrooms:  the library where there had once been pictures of Winnie the Pooh painted high on the walls, the language arts classroom where I once got in trouble for laughing loudly at a friend's hiccups, the math classroom where we once made our teacher cry, the English classroom where Read and Feed was our favorite time to socialize instead of read, the computer rooms which were fondly referred to as the Apple Orchard and Blueberry Patch, the eighth-grade language arts room where we wrote our spelling words in shaving cream on our desks and where I remember constantly ingesting bags of Cheddar Chex Mix and cans of Ruby Red Squirt, the science classroom where I remember almost nothing happening aside from dissecting a lamb's eyeball, and of course, my dad's classroom, where he kept old candy from magazine sales in his closet and scared students by smacking rulers on their desk.  In between those were dusty brick walls, enclaves in which a bust or small statue wouldn't look out of place, and of course the boys bathroom (where we often dared each other to hang out) and the girls' bathroom (where we would trade lipglosses in between classes and that always smelled like too much Victoria's Secret Love Spell).

The home ec room was where I was told I "sewed like a drunken sailor" and where I learned (kind of) how to balance a checkbook.  Across the way was the art room, where the door opened with the loudest, most specific noise I've ever heard and where I spent more time staring up at the painted ceiling tiles than doing anything else.  Next to the art room was the boiler room where we'd find our way through the various pipes and machinery in order to get to the eraser cleaning machine.  In the corner was the mysterious "smoker's lounge," in which we heard there was a gold jockstrap hanging on the wall but never confirmed ourselves.

It was rare to spot a teacher in the teachers' lounge; they usually ate at the "teacher's table" down the hall in the lunchroom, where we ate square pizza, turkey gravy over biscuit, and cake made of Jello.  Up the dungeon-like stairs in the corner was the music room (where we had one band teacher after another after another), the ICN room (where we were introduced to the newest and most cutting-edge of technologies LOL), and the shop (where my brother had graffitied "Fletch Lives" on the ceiling and where we had extremely awkward private band lessons).

God, I loved this school.  I apologize for the novel-length trip down memory lane.  :)  Feel free to add memories of your own.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lies Hollywood Told Me About Love

Jared and I do "themed" movie months, in which we try to watch only movies that are in that genre.  This seems ridiculously type-A and weird when I type it out, but it works very well, since we have such different taste in movies - this way, we both get to watch what we like sometimes.  For example, January was comedy month, March will be drama month, and February?  You guessed it.  Romance/chick flick month.  Jared was recently given the option of Pretty in Pink versus Grease, and he threw himself on the couch and moaned, "I HATE February and March!  When's action movie month?!"  (September :) Thank Gawd.)  He ended up choosing Grease (which he had NEVER seen), and he was quite the trooper!  He seemed very into it, though he didn't find John Travolta's Danny Zuko to be as studly as we all know he is.  But while watching it, I was thinking... Hollywood is full of liars!  Obviously, they want us to see a happy ending.  But do they have to give us such bad, terrible advice in the meantime?!  Let me elaborate.

Hollywood says:  Change yourself, and guys (or girls) will love you!!
Examples:  Grease, She's All That, Never Been Kissed (kinda), The Breakfast Club (again, kinda), Clueless, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Cinderella, Crazy Stupid Love (Steve Carell's character)

Look.  I love a makeover montage as much as anyone.  When Andy Sachs gets made over in The Devil Wears Prada, I die because it's all just so glamorous.  And sometimes, ya just need a makeover (lookin' at you, Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman!).  And change can be good!  Especially when you're married and you're looking to change your own negative behavior.  But.  Changing yourself to snag a man?  Nope.  We all love Sandra Dee in her tight black catsuit and her, "Tell me about it, stud."  But this is how she chooses to hook Danny?  Smoking cigarettes and teasing her hair?!  And the worst part is, he totally eats that shit up!  His face when he sees her...It's electrifying!  If I was Danny, I'd be like, "Hey girl.  Don't change yourself for me.  Let's go get you a cardigan and a milkshake."

Also, why is it that a girl can suddenly take her glasses off, maybe let her hair down, and she's suddenly sexy and popular?  This isn't how it works!  It's just not!  I have tried.  And this isn't only specific to chick flicks.  Even in Harry Potter!  Ron doesn't even realize that Hermione is a girl until she walks down the stairs all gussied up for the Yule Ball.  Right?!  How rude.  

Hollywood, changing to make guys like you never works in your favor.  I used to subtly (I thought) change things about myself with each guy I dated.  For example.  In middle school, I had a boyfriend who really dug Jesus.  Like, Jesus was his homeboy.  I decided to start going to church and to youth group events, because I wanted to have more in common with him.  We broke up.  Then, in high school, I dated a guy who dressed solely in preppy clothes from the Buckle.  I did so as well.  I even went so far as to pretend I knew all about Halo and Xbox 360s and shit...simply to make a guy think I was cool.  Also, that Converse and black hoodie trend that popped up in middle school and then again in the first year of college?  Yeah....I was dating a guy who favored Converse and black hoodies.  Yikes.  (I saw Regina George wearing army pants and flip I bought army pants and flip flops.)  This doesn't work.  I hooked the one I've got now by being true to myself.  Which means making lots of fart jokes and impressing him with my Super Mario Bros skillz.

Hollywood says:  Grand gesture = instant forgiveness!
Examples:  Say Anything, Ten Things I Hate About You, Pretty Woman, The Wedding Singer, Beauty and the Beast

To be fair, this scene from Say Anything is unsuccessful because the girl doesn't fall for it.  However, it is still a huge and ridiculous romantic gesture trying to make up for some past transgression.  For example, don't even get me started on Pretty Woman.  I hate it so much.  That guy is such a dick, and just because he climbed up on your fire escape to bring you flowers does NOT mean he should be forgiven!  Likewise, I understand that Heath Ledger was adorable and it would be hard to resist those dimples.  But he effed up quite a few times.  He publicly serenades Kat on the bleachers because he...I don't know.  Smoked in front of her when he said he wouldn't?  I can't remember.  AND THEN.  Kat finds out that he has been getting paid to take her out, and then she finds a guitar in the backseat of her car.  And hey!  All is well.  Unacceptable!

I will say, though, that there are two movie moments that I would have forgiven:  the Beast's gift of a whole library to Belle in Beauty and the Beast (eeeek!) and The Wedding Singer's plane serenade of "I Wanna Grow Old With You."  Sigh.  Robbie Hart.

Also, this.  This is hard to not forgive:

Hollywood says:  A player will change for you!  And a commitment-phobe will suddenly decide to become committed, just for you!
Examples:  Dirty Dancing, Sex and the City, Knocked Up, Tangled, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Crazy Stupid Love, Just Friends, Pretty in Pink

Here is what would happen in real life:  He WOULD have let them put Baby in a corner, because a playa never changes his ways.  Baby never would have seen him again after that summer.  And Seth Rogen would NOT have been a great dad in Knocked Up, Blaine would have dumped Molly Ringwald for a cheerleader (it's okay, she belongs with Duckie anyway), and Flynn Rider would have left Rapunzel up in the tower so he could go stare at himself in the mirror.  Call me a cynic.  Once an asshole, always an asshole.  This does not apply only to men, mind you!  

Also, could someone please tell me why Carrie Bradshaw is such a dumbass?  After Big leaves her at the goddamn altar.  She still goes back.  Really?  And then he sends her a bunch of emailed love letters that he didn't even write!  I mean, come on, Carrie.  I shouldn't care, anyway, because she could have had Aiden.  She chose Big.  Over Aiden.  But seriously.  Sucky people don't generally change (except not Steve, in this case, because I know he never would have cheated on Miranda.  That was a grave error on the writers' part.  Steve is an angel.)  

Hollywood says:  Kissing in the rain is super sexy!
Examples:  The Notebook, Spiderman (admittedly not a chick flick), Dear John, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Sweet Home Alabama 

That Nicholas Sparks sure does love a makeout session in the rain, doesn't he?  This only really works in the movies.  Rain is one of the most unsexy things ever.  Almost nobody looks good in the pouring rain.

Hollywood says:  Sneaking around is sexy, too!
Examples:  Romeo and Juliet, Titanic, Moulin Rouge...there are definitely more, but I can't think :(

In Romeo and Juliet, the fact that they are from two families destined to be enemies doesn't stop them from kissing in elevators and making googly eyes through fishtanks.  In fact, it makes it even hotter.  In Titanic, they run away all giddy and try to hide their frowned-upon affair from everyone.  Hiding things really is not fun, though.  Especially when you're in high school and you're trying to hide the fact that you're in a relationship at all from your parents.  Parents somehow know everything and when it comes to boys in the house, they can sense them.  I once had a male friend over (only a friend, I promise) when my parents weren't home, even though of course I knew it wasn't allowed, and when my mom got home, her senses were suddenly superhuman.  "I smell cologne in here."  And that was all it took.  I was done for.  Sneaking around is definitely way harder (and a lot less fun) than it looks in the movies.

Hollywood says:  Hardship always makes a relationship stronger.
Examples:  A Walk to Remember, Knocked Up, Moulin Rouge, Twilight, Love Story, Dear John, The Last Song

In very strong, committed relationships, couples definitely can get brought closer together because of hard times, like an illness or a death in the family.  But usually, in the relationships that Hollywood shows us, that wouldn't really happen.  Take A Walk to Remember.  Now, I haven't seen this movie in years, so bear with me.  Shane West's character falls for Mandy Moore, right?  And finds out she has terminal cancer and doesn't have much time left.  Most high school students, upon hearing this, would turn the other way and, maybe not run, but definitely walk away.  I know it sounds awful, and perhaps I'm not giving teenage boys enough credit here.  But Shane West must be a saint, because not only does he help her finish her bucket list, but he marries her!  And I have a very hard time believing that Bella would continue to stay after finding out Edward is a vampire.  I know, I know, it's a goddamn vampire love story, it's not real life.  And maybe, if I were Bella, I would have stayed after hearing the news...but I would DEFINITELY have been outta there after Jasper saw my blood and tried to eat me.  I don't care how sparkly his skin is or how intense his gaze.  See ya.  (Actually, I probably would have left after Edward said, "And so the lion fell in love with the lamb."  Because ew.)

Hollywood says:  Stalking is cool and super romantic!
Examples:  Twilight, Say Anything, Pretty Woman, Love Actually, 10 Things I Hate About You, Ghost, Beauty and the Beast, 50 First Dates, Sleepless in Seattle, While You Were Sleeping

Let me break it down for you.
Edward, Twilight - Edward is the stalker of all stalkers.  He watches Bella while she sleeps, shows up unexpectedly in her room, is much much older than her technically, is visibly aroused by her scent.  Do I need to go on?  Team Jacob!
Lloyd, Say Anything - I know that the iconic boombox-above-the-head thing is supposed to be the ultimate romantic gesture.  But this girl lives with her family, right?  And the song blasting out of his boombox under her window is the song they first had sex to, is it not?  This is creepy to me.
Edward, Pretty Woman - I hate Edward.  He pays her to spend time with him AND to change her entire personality and looks.  And he climbs up onto her fire escape.  I would have pushed him over the edge.  Jerk.
Love Actually - There are quite a few events in this movie that could be considered stalker-ish.  The one I'm referring to, however, is when the guy shows up to show very inappropriately romantic cue cards to his best friend's wife.  At whose wedding he was the best man.  You don't do that!
Cameron, 10 Things I Hate About You - I will never speak poorly of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Just know that his character Cameron secretly hired a guy to take out her sister and that he learned French solely to help his love interest study.  Too far, JGL, too far.
Sam, Ghost - This seems unfair, doesn't it?  However, Sam, you're dead.  I know it sucks, but you got mugged in Chicago, and you're dead.  And now you need to let your wife get on with things instead of speaking through a medium to her and just generally stirring up a bunch of shit.  (Though that scene where he slides the penny up the door?  Oh, the tears.)
Beast, Beauty and the Beast - Steals Belle's dad, then trades his captivity for hers.  Originally keeps her in a damn cage.  Nuff said.
50 First Dates - Adam Sandler's character, taking advantage of Drew Barrymore's amnesia, makes it his goal in life to consistently pop up where he knows she'll be, so that they can meet-cute all over again.
Sleepless in Seattle - Meg Ryan flies across the country to meet up with a guy whose voice she's only ever heard on a public radio station.  This would never work.  Come on.
While You Were Sleeping - Sandra Bullock literally watches him while he is "sleeping", and lies to his entire family.  Yikes.

Hollywood, stalking is never romantic.  I had a former boyfriend send me angry text messages for YEARS after we had broken up; one text message involved a picture of his own poop that was captioned, "Chelsea?  What are you doing in my toilet?"  Maybe Hollywood should put that in the next romantic comedy?  :)

photos from here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

A few other Hollywood deceptions:  Cheating is okay, as long as you really like the person you're cheating with (The Notebook, Titanic, Moulin Rouge, etc.); high school is chock full of sexy studs (John Tucker Must Die, Mean Girls); awkward, ugly adolescents quite often turn into hunky, beautiful people (13 Going on 30).

There are a few romance-type movies I've come across that strike me as very realistic, however.  Those would be Like Crazy (shows the ambiguity and awkwardness in a long distance relationship), 500 Days of Summer (gotta show my love for JGL, plus this is an awesome example of miscommunication in relationships), and Blue Valentine (which is hella depressing, but, unfortunately, pretty typical).  Which do you prefer:  the movies where they live happily ever after even though it's unrealistic?  Or the movies that relate to real life but don't leave you feeling the greatest?  

What do you think?  Did I leave any examples out?


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Unexpected Art: A Roundup!

I was looking through my bookmarks, searching for inspiration, and I found a bit of a theme:  many of my "home decor" bookmarks centered around unusual art pieces, most of them DIY.  Now, I love me a traditional piece of art for the wall, especially if it is something that is meaningful to you.  However, the things that tend to speak to me are pieces that people might not consider art:  a glued-together puzzle, for example, or paper banners.  I saw a feature of a beach house in a magazine where they had framed a vintage bathing suit and hung it on the wall - I love that!  This post is dedicated to those unique pieces of art.

(clockwise from left)
Handwriting wall:  This is something simple that still makes a statement.  Instead of wallpaper or a bright color for an accent wall, how about literally writing on the walls instead?  For this project, Elsie of A Beautiful Mess wrote "I love you more than ever" over and over again, turning a boring, stark-white wall into something special.  This is such a neat idea.  The tutorial is shared in the link!
Vintage paint-by-numbers:  My mom is lucky enough to have kept some actual paint-by-numbers that she did when she was young.  I don't have photos of them, but she framed them, and now two adorable paint-by-number dogs hang on her guest bedroom wall.  At antique stores, I am always looking for these, especially animal ones!  I think they're so fun and unique!
Swan Lake wallpaper:  Sometimes no one piece of art can make the statement that beautiful wallpaper does.  I have lusted after this gorgeous swan-printed wallpaper since I saw it in last year's issue of HGTV Magazine.  I have an obsession with birds, and the splashes of pink on this wallpaper make it perfect for an accent wall.  Wallpaper is my favorite - what's tough is finding a wallpaper that Jared likes, too :)
"Hello" plank art:  Nothing is more appealing to me than old, roughed-up wood mixed with modern, bright paint.  This piece of art could be replicated using lots of different things; an old wooden pallet would be cool.
Vintage dog educational chart:  I also have an obsession with old educational or science charts, for some reason.  I like to imagine where they came from, if they once hung in a schoolroom or a vet's office or something!  This chart, featuring different breeds of dogs, is exactly my style!
Rainbow spoon art:  This colorful piece was originally found on Pinterest, and I think it would look awesome hanging in a kitchen, especially on a bright white wall.  It's definitely unique, but not too crazy, and it would be super easy to replicate.  Tutorial shared in the link!
Silver taxidermy:  Faux taxidermy is something that has only recently started drawing my eye.  I would never purchase real taxidermy, of course, and the many colorful/glittery/shiny versions that are out there are much prettier anyway.  This silver one is especially gorgeous!
Green Eggs and Ham print:  This blogger blew up a picture in a children's book to hang on her son's bedroom wall!  I love this idea and all the options it creates - sooo many books to choose from.  Being the nerd that I am, I'd probably choose Harry Potter :)  Or Alice in Wonderland!

(clockwise from left)
"Hello" string art:  This whole photo shows the word "HELLO".  It's a super easy how-to, and very cute:  All you need is a piece of wood, some pretty paint, string/yarn, and nails!  The possibilities are endless!
Moulin Rouge print:  Though my husband does not agree, I think Moulin Rouge is one of the best movies of all time!  And, of course, one of the most-quoted lines is, "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."  This print features that quote and the windmill of Moulin Rouge.  I adore this, but it's not something that can be purchased :(
Lion King print:  This is actually up for sale on Etsy!  I really like minimalist art, especially when it refers to movies, and The Lion King is mine and Jared's favorite childhood movie.
Paint shirt art:  One of my favorite bloggers painted her new home with her husband, and she made some great memories along the way.  Not wanting to get rid of the painted shirts they wore, but not wanting to stuff them away in a box, she decided to frame pieces of them!  This is such a good idea, and it could be done with many different things.  It looks like an abstract, modern piece!

Allow me to indulge for a little while and show off some photos of the "quirky" art I have in my own home!  I really love each piece, and each has a bit of a story behind it.

(Left to right)
"You mustn't be afraid":  I blatantly ripped off this idea from Holly at Nothing but Bonfires; it was originally meant to read "You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling," which is a line from the movie Inception, but I overshot and ran out of room.  :)  SO I ended up leaving it at just "You mustn't be afraid," which I think suits me better anyway.  (I am quite afraid of a lot of things.)  It was super easy to make:  stick-on letters from Hobby Lobby and a single sheet of grey paper.  It sits on my desk, and it reminds me to kind of chill out and man up!  :)

This tin hot dog hangs in my kitchen.  It's just silly and fun, but I had it hanging in my bedroom since I was like twelve, and I love it!

I collect basically anything owl, and this ceramic one currently hangs out above my toilet! I like how it looks against the light-green wall.  

Here is my own faux taxidermy!  A simple pair of gold antlers, purchased from Target for twenty bucks.  :)  My parents don't "get" them, but Jared and I really like their simplicity.  They are pretty versatile too - they can be decorated for all the holidays.  An ornament hangs from an antler for Christmas, spiderwebs for Halloween, etc.  Fun :)

"His 'n' Her" plaques hang above Jared and my bathroom, respectively.  These silhouette portraits are especially fun because the silhouette part is backed by a page from a book!  They are from a small, quirky office-supply-type store at the Mall of America.

Jared bought me this minimalist Harry Potter print from Etsy!  It features Harry's scar and glasses, the Gryffindor colors, and this quote from Professor Dumbledore, "Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."  

I lusted after this light-switch on Etsy for months, and then I happened to stumble upon it in a little vintage boutique.  It resides in my bathroom, and I smile every time I turn on the light!

Instead of a vintage dog chart, I own a "faux vintage" butterfly chart.  I purchased it at the aforementioned Mall of America store, and I pinned it up using multicolored pushpins to give it more of that elementary-school feeling.

These paper pinwheels are tacked above my desk (surrounding my bachelor's degree, which I am - HA! - so proud of).  My mom made a TON of these for our wedding, and these are my three favorites.  I love being able to have mementos from our wedding day as decor in my home.

(clockwise from left)
An antique wooden moon shelf that is a replica of my mom's hangs under the calendar I designed, which features the animals that came to be so important to me during my time working at the HSNI.    I look forward to the beginning of each month, so I get to see which dog or cat will grace my wall for that month!

Sigh.  This...thing.  I don't even know what you call this.  It's the Gone With the Wind movie poster painted onto a small, beat-up wooden pallet.  I got it at the Brass Armadillo during a random shopping trip with Jared; it caught my eye immediately, and I'm so so glad I bought it!  

This miniature gallery wall hangs above our couch, and it is updated or added to quite frequently.  It features our dog Riley, art photographs of different animals, and dogs and cats from the HSNI, amazingly photographed by Love and Luck Photography.  I'm also looking for some antique animal prints to add to the wall.

I had this canvas made at Walgreen's to give to Jared for Christmas!  It is our favorite "family" photo from the shoot with Love and Luck Photography.  (A tip:  If you're looking for a canvas to be made for a reasonable price, try Walgreen's online photo services.  SUPER cheap, and you can always find an online coupon or discount!)

Thanks for going on a little tour of my favorite pieces of art!! :)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Funny Valentine

Romantic Valentines are overrated.  Frankly, I've given Husband more than enough sappy cards over the years.  This year, I'm going with a funny Valentine.  Here's a little roundup of Valentines from around the web that I found pretty hilarious! (right click on photos for their source)

This says, "I love you so much I've saved one of your farts in a Tupperware container."  Best.  Valentine.  Ever.

This is borderline mushy, but I still love it.  From my favorite, Emily McDowell.

Oh, poor Leo and his lifelong quest for an Oscar!!

This is a Valentine to a parent from a child, and it says "I love you with all my butt.  I would say heart but my butt's bigger."  Too true :)

A few unique Valentines using mixed media:

An adorable Valentine's Day box containing flowers, a mushy novel, a sappy movie, champagne, lip balm, breath mints, gourmet popcorn, fancy chocolate, candle, and bubble bath!

And here are some Valentine's I dug out from an old box at my parents' house! ;)

Valentines used to be sooo much cuter!  On the back of the Big Bird valentine, there is a secret, anonymous note...
No idea who this is from, but how adorable :)

Definitely gave these out two years in a row.  Even to the boys.

This is a Valentine to my mom from my brother when he was little.  It inexplicably reads, "Would you like to be in jail on Valentine's Day?"  Accompanied by this sad little drawing:

That must be a sad, sad mother in jail on Valentine's Day.  I don't understand what caused this card to be created, but I sure do love it.


Inexplicable Crushes, Part Dos!

So, remember when I actually used to blog, and I promised to continue my long, long list of crushes for weirdos?  I barely remember it myself.  But I figure I'll keep my promise.  (I was reminded to finish this list because I dreamed about Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad last night.  Not an unusual crush, per se, besides the fact that he cooks meth and everyone he loves ends up dying.  John Coffey - like the drink, only not spelt the same - from The Green Mile also played a starring role in the dream.  Sigh.  I love you, Michael Clarke Duncan, may you rest in peace.)  Here goes!

Tom, the original Barbie Game (photo from here)

In the Barbie Game, everyone loved Ken.  Including a seven-year-old me.  The Ken card in my mom's original game was bent nearly in half from her and her sister fighting to kiss it when they were younger.  If you had the Silken Flame dress, the drama club, and Ken?  You were the shit.  But looking back now, Tom was the true stud of this game.  Girls, after all, make passes at boys who wear glasses, and Tom's sweater/collared shirt combo is very fashionable.  (A plaid jacket and bowtie, Ken?  Really?)  He was the underrated dark horse of this board game.

Bob wasn't too shabby either.  Poindexter, on the other hand...

Jack Black (photo from here)

There's just something about a funny guy, no?  I first really became aware of Jack Black in School of Rock, and, while my eyes were mostly on the badass little drumming boy (I was like twelve.), Jack Black did not go unnoticed.  Even those eyebrows are somehow attractive to me.  There's really nothing like a guy who can make you laugh.

Mr. Feeny, Boy Meets World (photo from here)

Okay.  This is probably pretty wrong on several levels.  But George Feeny is a stud.  When I was reading my list to Jared, he stopped me at Mr. Feeny with a loud, "WHAT?!" paired with a disgusted look.  But to him, my only response is...FEENEH!  Fee-hee-hee-hee-hee-neh!!  Brains plus a British accent plus a dignified mustache?  Whoever holds this man's heart is a lucky woman indeed.  ( <--- That definitely sounded like a Feenyism.)

Bert, Mary Poppins (photo from here)

Bert (when I say it in my head, it sounds like "Beht" like Ms. Poppins says it) was good with children, a spiffy dancer, good with his hands, artistic, and always up to have a jolly 'oliday.  When I was seven years old and thought about my wedding, it was Beht that I was getting married to.  I firmly believed that the reason Bert and Mary never had a real relationship (what was their relationship, anyway??) was because he was waiting for me.

Data, The Goonies (photo from here)

Sure, there was the obvious choice for a crush - Mikey, the adorable asthmatic adventurer.  (Alliteration not intended, I'm sorry.)  And then there was the studly older brother, Brand (SWOON!).  But as a kid, I preferred...Data.  The Asian inventor who made his entrance through windows and was the only one who had faith in his "slick shoes."  He and his little voice were absolutely freakin' precious, and my heart still breaks a little for him when he thinks that machine is printing real money and they're all gonna be rich.  (Also, remember that part in the end when they accidentally left in that reference to the deleted octopus scene?  I never knew there was an actual deleted scene, so I would always think..."Aww, that wily Data, making up dramatic lies about an octopus!  He's so cute."  Yeah.  I was dumb.)

Dexter, This Lullaby (photo from here)

Contrary to what this blog post might make you believe, I am not a woman who is only concerned with looks!  Hence, the literary crushes.  :)  This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen was one of my favorite books when I was an adolescent, mostly because of its male character named Dexter.  Dexter is hilarious and has a very charming way with words.  His vocabulary is impeccable, and he is in a band.  And I love him.

Simon Cowell AND Randy Jackson, American Idol (photo from here)

Everybody loves a guy who's a little bit of a smartass (Rhett Butler, anyone?), even moreso when they're wearing a V-neck that's just a wee bit too small.  Hence, Simon Cowell.  And there is just something endearing about Randy Jackson and the way he hung on to American Idol for so long, after everyone had left him.  I don't even bother with American Idol anymore...nothing in it for me since Keith Urban cut his hair ;)

The Beast, Beauty and the Beast (photo from here)

I was devastated when The Beast turned into a human.  Devastated.  Who would want a scrawny, pale, ponytailed dork over this beastly, bulging piece of man meat?!  Certainly not I.  Belle and I have a lot of things in common, but this is not one of them.  I was all about The Beast.  One minute he's screaming about coming down for dinner, and the next he is feeding birds out of his hands.  (Is this polarity between angry and nice, like, a Christian-Grey-esque attraction?  Hmm.)  I can't be the only one who prefers The Beast!

Other studly Disney characters:  Flynn Rider (insert "Ride-her" joke here, I'm not gonna do it for you) from Tangled, Tramp from Lady and the Tramp, Oliver from Oliver and Company, and Aladdin - of COURSE Aladdin.  I once met the "human" version of Aladdin at Disney World and my Lord.  Those abs.

Jareth the Goblin King, Labyrinth (photo from here)

There's just something there.  I don't even know.  David Bowie HAD to have stuffed socks down those tights for this role, right?  Right?!

And in case you think I am a super freak, here's Jared's list of ahem..unique..crushes:

Luna Lovegood - of Harry Potter fame, of course
Lily from As the World Turns - Jared used to watch the soap opera with his mom, and he thought Lily was a MILF
Ginger Spice - meh, not so strange, given her considerable, um, assets
Too many anime characters to name - sigh.
Princess Zelda - Husband is kind of a nerd, if you haven't noticed :)
Kris Kardashian - Jesus God.  He couldn't even explain this one.
Nala from The Lion King
Lara Croft - Of course.
Bubbles - Yes, from the Powerpuff Girls.  I think it was the pigtails.
Princess Jasmine
Claire Dunphy, from Modern Family
Ellen Degeneres - I am straight, however...I agree with this.
Abby Lee Miller - Yes.  Abby Lee Miller, the bitchy, obese dance teacher from Dance Moms.  I regret introducing Jared to this show.  If he had any objections to my crush list, this eliminates them all.  I mean...Abby Lee.  Wow.

Do you have any crushes that other people might find unusual?  :)