Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?
Bought a house, planned a wedding, attended a bridal shower as the guest of honor, published work in an academic journal, visited Montana and Jamaica, survived back-to-back blizzards that dumped 4 feet of snow outside my home, directed a show in City A, went to a rally on the National Mall. And there are more firsts, I'm sure, but those are the ones that immediately jump to mind.

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions and will you make more for next year?
My resolution for 2010 was to focus on what is important. Namely, I wanted to stay focused on my relationship with Penn and my own health and sanity and not worry too much about all of the major things I was working on and planning all year long. I'm pleased to say that I did accomplish all of the things I hoped to accomplish this year. Last year I wrote, "I want to make significant progress on my dissertation. I want to move somewhere that makes me as happy as my current home does but has more space. I want to teach my own course. I want to plan a beautiful, fun wedding." And I somehow managed to do all of those things! (Well, whether or not the wedding is beautiful and fun remains to be seen, but it is planned and that's what matters.) I'm also pleased to say that Penn and I are still happily together and considering all of the major life changes we put ourselves through this year I think we managed to get through the past twelve months with a minimal amount of snipping at each other.
After all of the major changes planned throughout this past year, my resolution in 2011 is to see everything through to fruition. I want to get married and I want to finish my dissertation. Two major things, but getting married is almost a guarantee, and I think finishing the dissertation is doable if I force myself to buckle down and do the work.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nobody I spend time with on a regular basis in my day-to-day life, but a few people I keep in touch with on Facebook had babies this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No, and I am so incredibly thankful for that.

5. What countries did you visit?
Jamaica was the only country other than the US that I visited this year. That was such a fun, relaxing vacation.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
A finished dissertation, a marriage certificate with my name and Penn's name on it, a positive pregnancy test (Penn and I have talked a lot about it and we're about as sure as we can be that we'd ideally like to get pregnant in the summer or fall. Obviously we have very little control over that, other than control over when we try, but that's the game plan unless our lives change substantially in some way over the next few months

7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory and why?
November 5th, the day we bought our house. Tied to that, I don’t think I’ll ever forget the feeling of walking into the house for the first time and getting an overwhelming sense that it was supposed to be ours. I had been in the basement looking around and I walked upstairs just in time to hear Penn asking the realtor, “So, what do we have to do to make an offer?” and I knew he felt the same way I did. I will also always remember the back-to-back blizzards of early February since that kind of intense snow is so unusual here and probably won’t happen many other times in my life.

8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year?
Publishing a book review, teaching two college courses on my own, getting a successful review of my show, doing a pretty good job of dealing with the stress of planning the wedding and dissertating and buying a house simultaneously.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not spending enough time on the dissertation. It was always on the back burner and I worked on it only when I could find time. In 2011 everything else is going to go on the back burner instead. I read a quote that said that your dissertation will be finished six months after you decide it’s the most important thing in your life. So beginning in February of 2011, the dissertation is the most important thing in my life (other than Penn, of course).

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had that weird 24 hour bug the day after the 4th of July. I still don’t know what that was, some sort of stomach flu. Oh, and then of course there was The Great Shopping Cart Debacle of 2010. I was bruised and sore for a couple of weeks, and seven months later I still have a scar on my shoulder blade from that fiasco. We are so dumb.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
The house, absolutely (it seems like this survey is set up in such a way that it becomes repetitive every year; this year it’s all about the new house, apparently).

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Penn, for putting up with me when I got worked up over stupid wedding or house details. I tried not to freak out constantly all year, but sometimes it was inevitable. He never once tried to kill me, even when I was annoyed with myself.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
A couple of members of Penn's extended family are appalling and depressing. Fortunately we don't have to see either of them on a regular basis and the things they do that are so appalling don't affect us directly--people we care about, but not us--so it's (perhaps detrimentally) easy to just ignore them 99% of the time.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Buying the house, obviously. I almost had a panic attack when I saw the amount of our twenty percent down payment, but in the end I was so proud of us for being able to pay off so much of the house right away.

15. What did you get really, really excited about?
Picking out a wedding dress, going to Jamaica, moving into our house

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?
The Black Keys "Sinister Kid" (Penn was on kick with this song for weeks back in late summer and early fall), Usher's "OMG" (this will always remind me of Jen's bachelorette party and wedding in Missoula)

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
A. Happier or sadder?
Probably about the same. If anything I'm happier, definitely not sadder.
B. Thinner or fatter?
Thinner, but barely. I wanted to tone up for the wedding, but I've been dropping and then regaining the same five pounds all year. Oh well! That's why my wedding dress has a corset.
C. Richer or poorer?
Well, we own a house now but had to spend a good amount of our life savings to get it (which is what the savings were for, of course). I figure we probably broke even.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I wish I had worked on the dissertation more often.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
I wish I'd spent less time lounging around in bed in the mornings. I need to get better at getting up when Penn gets up instead of lounging in bed with a book or blogs on my phone and finally getting up an hour or two later. Unacceptable!

20. How did you spend Christmas?
I spent my first Christmas in my new house, just me and Penn alone. It was great, we ate a ton of food, opened presents, lounged around, went to a candlelight service at church. It was perfectly relaxing and a nice, low-key time to be alone together.

21. How will you be spending New Years?
Penn's friend D drove down from Philly for the night with his girlfriend J, and we're all going to go into City A to meet up with Nic and her husband and a few other friends. We're going to a Gogol Bordello concert at a club. We went to the same club for New Year's Eve two years ago and had a great time, so I'm hoping tonight will be just as fun. Also, I am NOT doing Jello shots this year. Ugh.

22. Did you fall in love in 2010?
Still happily in love with the same man I've been in love with since 2008 and hoping that will never change! (Aw, cheesefest!)

23. How many one-night stands?
Zero. Always zero.

24. What was your favorite TV program(s)?
Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, 30 Rock

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate at this time last year?
I don't hate anyone. I don't think I can work up that enthusiastic of an emotion. In my opinion it takes way too much energy to hold a grudge and hate. Having said that, there is a woman in my department that annoys me so much that I have now developed what I call a zero tolerance policy toward her, meaning that I try to avoid her as much as possible and do not speak to her unless she speaks to me first. I still don't hate her, though, I just find her obnoxious. Luckily our paths don't cross often.

26. What was the best book that you've read? A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (I read that one during the week of the blizzards when we were without cable or internet,and I found it completely mesmerizing).

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Honestly, I haven't paid that much attention to music this year. I did just get Penn's old iPod Touch, though (he bought himself a Nano and is now using that instead) so I'm hoping to pay more attention so that I can download more music this year.

28. What did you want that you also ended up getting?
A house (that's the biggie, of course), my own class(es) to teach, a Kindle (I LOVE the Kindle), a really, really awesome Canon Camera

29. What did you want that you did not end up getting?
Honestly, I think I've gotten about pretty much everything I wanted this year. I'd like a few new things for the house, but that's about it.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
True Grit, definitely. It was awesome!

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 28 and I bought a house. We signed the papers on my birthday and then came over to the house and drank a celebratory bottle of champagne. It was one of the best days I've ever had.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Nothing. Seriously, everything is going exactly to plan. I'm unbelievably blessed.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
I get up in the morning, put on workout clothes, and then since sometimes I don't get around to working out until late in the afternoon, I pretty much wear sweats and spandex all day unless I'm going to campus to work or tutoring. I need to improve on this next year, too!

34. What kept you sane?
Penn, my basset, my journal. The usual.

35. What celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Jon Stewart. I don't have crush on him, I fancy his brain.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Penn and I Rallied to Restore Sanity, so I suppose it was anti-politics that stirred me the most.

37. Who did you miss?
My parents and my siblings. I always miss them the most. I miss having Kiki as a daily part of my life, too. Talking on the phone just isn't enough sometimes.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
The kids (well, "kids", they're mostly 19-21) that I worked with on my project this summer. They are good people.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
RELAX. Or, as Penn would put it, "No worries, mate." I'm still working on this, but I'm trying to learn it.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
"She keeps it simple
And I am thankful for her kind of lovin'
'Cause it's simple

No longer do we wonder if we're together
We're way past that
And I've already asked her
So in January we're gettin' married

She's talkin' to me with her voice
Down so low I barely hear her
But I know what she's sayin'
I understand because my heart and hers are the same
And in January we're gettin' married

And I was sick with heartache
And she was sick like Audrey Hepburn when I met her
But we would both surrender

True love is not the kind of thing you should turn down
Don't ever turn it down

I hope that I don't sound to insane when I say
There is darkness all around us
I don't feel weak but I do need sometimes for her to protect me
And reconnect me to the beauty that I'm missin'
And in January we're gettin' married

No longer does it matter what circumstances we were born in
She knows which birds are singin'
And the names of the trees where they're performin' in the mornin
And in January we're gettin' married
Come January let's get married."
-January Wedding, The Avett Brothers

Thursday, December 30, 2010

30 Things to Do Before I Turn 30

As I mentioned last year, I've decided to make a list of 30 things to do before my 30th birthday this year. I won't turn 30 until November of 2012, but I just think it makes more sense to do these lists in larger increments as I get older. Either that or I would eventually have to start filling the lists with complete minutiae. By the time I got to a "60 Things to Do Before I Turn 60" list I'd have to be accomplishing more than one task per week, and that's just ridiculous. So I have made the executive decision that the working list for the next two years is 30 Things to Do Before I Turn 30.
I found it challenging to make this year's list, mostly because of item number two. I have a feeling that becoming a parent will change my priorities entirely, so I can think of plenty of things I would like to do now but I imagine that I may laugh at this list in two years, when I anticipate life will be very different. We'll see!
Here's the list:

1. Finish the PhD (I try to leave major must-dos off this list and limit it to things I would just like to do for fun or because they will make my life easier/better, but I'm putting this one on the list because it is my #1 priority over the next couple of years.)
2. Become a parent (Actually, this one might be my #1 priority...honestly, it's sort of a toss-up. I feel like the pending occurrence of #2 will lead to the forced accomplishment of #1. I hope so, anyway, or else I'm terrified that task #1 will fall by the wayside. Not so terrified that I'm willing to put off attempting to become a parent until I've finished the dissertation, though, because ultimately my biological clock trumps all other considerations since that's the one thing I really can't control at all. I'm 28, my husband-to-be wants an entire hockey team of children, it's time to get crackin'. [Note: I am NOT on board with the hockey team idea...and I think he's joking...mostly...])
3. Convince myself that it's okay not to write a full-fledged journal entry every day. Notes of highlights and lists are better than nothing when life is busy. Print and bind the past four (wow) years of journal entries.
4. See at least ten live productions (concerts, plays, etc.)
5. "The unwillingness to give a hearing to contradictory viewpoints, or to imagine that one might learn anything from an ideological or cultural opponent, represents a departure from the best side of American popular and elite intellectual traditions."-Susan Jacoby. In the spirit of this quote, I'm going to attempt to read--with an open mind--something I'm inclined to disagree with. And I'm going to try to find at least one part of the book that I can agree with. (Yes, this was on last year's list but I really do think this is important, so I put it on the list again.)
6. Figure out a way to store my pictures that is organized and allows for easy viewing but isn't completely dependent on Facebook. (This and the next few items are things I didn't get around to last year but would still like to try to accomplish.)
7. Go on a 20+ mile-long bike ride.
8. Finish a Seasonal Reading Challenge on Goodreads. (This may be impossible, but I want to keep trying!)
9. Visit Monticello.
10. Take the Meatball to a local basset hound event.
11. Take a trip to Las Vegas with Penn.
12. Watch a Supreme Court hearing.
13. Take advantage of Restaurant Week and try at least one well-reviewed, trendy restaurant that I normally wouldn't be able to afford.
14. On a similar note, try at least 15 bars/restaurants that I have never been to before (restaurants tried on vacation when I have no choice but to try new places don't count).
15. Take a trip to Pittsburgh and see Penn's college campus.
16. Go to the local fish market.
17. Adopt a second dog.
18. Ski Taos or Telluride with Penn.
19. Get the fireplace repaired so that we can enjoy the fireplace in our den.
20. Get new chairs for the living room.
21. Remodel the pink bathroom (or at the very least paint the untiled portions of the wall a color other than their current peachy-pink).
22. Cross at least one new country off my list.
23. Cross at least one new state off my list.
24. Get myself a football jersey so I can fit in when we support Penn's favorite football team at the bar.
25. Obtain a membership to the neighborhood pool. (Apparently only 300 families can belong to the pool at one time, so basically I have to wait for someone to die or decide to sell a membership).
26. Buy or otherwise acquire three pieces of actual art for my home. (Real art, not something mass-produced)
27. Throw a party in my backyard.
28. Buy a four-door car.
29. Plant a small vegetable and/or herb garden in the backyard and attempt to grow some of my own produce.
30. Make the list of 35 Things to Do Before I'm 35.

28 Things to Do Before I Turn 28 Recap

I have been wanting to post my recap of last year's list and my new list for this year for almost 8 weeks now. I finally, FINALLY had time to do it today. It feels good to get this (admittedly self-imposed) task off my plate just in time for the new year.

So, here are the items I completed from my 28 Things to Do Before I Turn 28 list. I didn't do as well as I did with my 27 Things list, but, as you can probably tell, Penn and I have been pretty busy this year.

1. Write a book review and submit it to an academic journal. Not only did I write and submit my book review, I actually managed to get it published! It was published in October and I can now look myself up as an author in journal databases, which is pretty damn awesome.
2. Find a dentist here and make an appointment to get my teeth cleaned. For real this time! I did it, and it was a good thing I did because I had a cavity. I'm being especially good and went to the dentist in both January and November this year. It's not exactly every six months, but it's better than I was doing for the past 5 or 6 years.
4. Buy a printer. So, I don't technically have a printer yet, but I put one on our wedding registry, so at least I am attempting to own a printer. That counts, right? If no one purchases it as a gift I will buy it myself.
5. Attend at least six live productions, not including concerts (classical music counts, though; I feel bad making this highbrow/lowbrow divide here but the fact is we attend concerts almost monthly but spend much less time going to plays/opera/the symphony). Things I saw: War Horse, Oliver! (both on my trip to London), Itzhak Perlman/Beethoven's Fifth Symphony (Perlman played and then conducted), The Bluest Eye, King Lear, Richard II, Henry V, Da, and Hamlet
7. Cross at least one more country off my list. Scotland, Jamaica
8. Cross at least one more state off my list (only 17 more to go!). Montana
15. Take advantage of Restaurant Week to try a well-reviewed restaurant I normally wouldn't be able to afford. Penn and I went to a local Brazilian steakhouse and it was amaaaaaazing. I know the meat was the point, but I can still taste this delicious cheesy bread we had there.
16. Go to one of the historic local jazz clubs. We tried one club for Penn's birthday and then went to a different one a few months later when I got a Groupon. Both experiences were great.
17. Read the Dark Tower series. I joked to Jon he had to read the Harry Potter series or we couldn't stay together so he retaliated by insisting I read the Dark Tower series. He's about to finish Harry Potter, so I figured I should humor him and attempt to fulfill his request. There are seven books in the series and I'm reading the last book right now. I had promised myself I would finish the series before our wedding. I'm not quite sure if I'll finish before then since I'm on page 75 of 800ish pages, but I think I'll come close. I may have to finish the last few chapters post-honeymoon (since I'm not dragging that behemoth of a book around the world with me).
19. Eat here, here, and here. I've been to the third place twice now, and the chicken place has become part of our standard restaurant rotation because it's across the street from the liquor store where we buy kegs for Penn's kegerator. Sooooooo good.
21. Buy new ski clothes so I can quit wearing the ski pants I've been wearing since the '90s, then ski at least seven times this winter. It was an awesome ski season this year. Penn and I hit the slopes practically once a week all winter. As excited as I am about New Zealand, I'm sad we'll be missing so much of the east coast's very short ski season.
23. Go here. I went with my sister when she visited in March and enjoyed it very much.
24. Buy a new comforter for the bed. I also registered for this. I registered for a duvet, actually, since I love those things. I'm hoping we're gifted it, but if not I will definitely be updating our bedding when we get home from the honeymoon. It's time for a change!
26. Take a trip to Philly and research a bar for my dad. I actually ended up doing this with my dad when he visited in April. He and my mom rented a limo and took me, Penn, and some of our friends to Philly. It turned out that the bar was not so much a bar as it was a strip club, but it was still a really fun night (I was aware that there were going to be pole dancers but thought it would be more like a burlesque bar. But no, STRIP CLUB. The women didn't get topless, but there was plenty to see. In my dad's defense, he didn't think it would be a straight up strip club when he decided to take us all there.)
28. Make the list of 30 Things to Do Before I'm 30. This was pretty much done 8 weeks ago, I just didn't have time to edit and post it until now!

So, that's 15 of 28 things. More than half! Not bad considering everything else I had to juggle all year long. Let's hope I'm even more successful with 30 Things Before 30.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Wrap-Up

Penn and I are watching Lord of the Rings on TV right now and it is making me SO EXCITED to be in New Zealand. It looks so magnificently beautiful. Two more weeks and we'll be there! Penn has been in charge of planning the itinerary and it looks like he has put together a great trip: hot springs, cave tubing, speed boating, fishing, exploring Milford Sound, bungee jumping (look at YouTube videos of the Nevis bungee in Queenstown; that's what we're going to do...if I don't pass out in terror before I can jump, which is entirely possible).

Anyway, Merry Christmas! This year was the first year of my life that I didn't spend Christmas with my family. Since we needed to save Penn's vacation days for the honeymoon he couldn't travel to be with my family, and I couldn't imagine doing Christmas without him, so I stayed here, too. I thought it was going to make me really sad, but actually, it didn't. I had a really great Christmas. Penn and I decided to celebrate alone, just the two of us. We went up to his family at Thanksgiving and we'll see them again at the wedding in a couple of weeks. Plus Penn's mom came down last weekend and did early Christmas with us (she got Penn a deep fryer for Christmas, you can imagine how excited he was about that!). So, since we have seen his family recently we didn't feel obligated to drive the two hours to see them. Also, we liked the idea of starting our own traditions in our new home, so that's what we did. Last night I carried on my family's usual tradition of Christmas Eve fondue. I did the meat fondue (which is easy: get a really good quality steak, chop it up into bite-sized pieces, skewer it and stick it in corn oil to cook) and I got Grandma's recipe for the cheese fondue, too. It came out perfectly. It was wonderful having my kitchen smell exactly like Grandma's kitchen, and very comforting to realize that I can carry on her tradition and someday pass it along to yet another generation. After dinner Penn and I went to the late-night Christmas Eve service at church. I had always wanted to do that, but growing up it was never part of our tradition because we always went to my grandparents' house instead. The church service was really nice. There was a soprano soloist with an amazing voice who sang a couple of Christmas numbers, and we sang Christmas carols, including "Silent Night" by candle light at the end. I enjoyed it.
This morning when Penn and I woke up it was snowing! The snow was just flurries and it didn't stick, but it added to the Christmas atmosphere as we ate our cinnamon rolls and opened Christmas presents that my parents sent us. My parents and grandparents were way too generous, as usual. They gave us some money to use for the honeymoon--hooray!--and the best gift from Mom and Dad was Kindles for both of us. We've both spent a large part of today playing with our new gadgets. I think Penn has downloaded something like 40 books already (mostly public domain classics)!!
I spent part of the afternoon in the kitchen making us a Christmas feast. I told Penn several weeks ago that I would make him whatever he wanted for Christmas dinner, and he requested a pork knuckle. Yes, a PORK KNUCKLE. Apparently he ate one in the Czech Republic and loved it, and he wanted me to see if I could recreate it. So I embarked on a culinary adventure that began at an Amish farmers market and ended with ham shanks simmering on my stove for three hours this afternoon. I also made mashed potatoes, my mom's cheesy squash casserole, a salad with my other grandma's salad dressing, crescent rolls, and a cheeseball. I figured it was a wise idea to make plenty of sure-to-be-delicious side dishes just in case the schweinsaxe was a bust. Luckily it came out pretty good. It did get slightly smokier than I expected, and it turns out that as far as meat goes it's just a bit too fatty for me to completely enjoy, but Penn really liked it and I was happy tasting a few bites and then loading up on squash and potatoes. Yay successful Christmas feast! While our meal was cooking we went over to our neighbors' house for a while. They have a daughter slightly younger than us with cerebral palsy ("among other things," according to my neighbor). Normally the daughter lives in a group home in a nearby town, but she was home for the day so my neighbor wanted us to come over so her daughter could meet our dog. So we went over and had a glass of wine and introduced our Meatball to their daughter. I was so proud of my hound. The woman is in her early twenties but she can't really talk and she has the mental capacity and interests of a five- or six-year-old child, which meant she didn't entirely understand how to be gentle with the dog. We were all trying to help her be careful with him, but she would sometimes tug on his leash and grab at his ears and I kept having to boost him up onto his hind legs so that she could reach him from her wheelchair to pet him. And my dog was so incredibly sweet and patient. He let himself be poked and prodded and yanked around and he didn't so much as yelp. And it was so fun to see the daughter's eyes light up and hear her laughter as she played with Meatball. I was humbled, and incredibly grateful for my own healthy life, and so proud of my sweet dog.
All in all it was a great Christmas. I do miss my family, but I'm hoping we'll be with them again next year, and for now I am more than satisfied to be here. We're supposed to get hit with a snowstorm tonight and tomorrow, so I'm hoping to spend the day hunkered down with leftovers and books. Right now there's a slice of my neighbor's pumpkin pie with alcohol-spiked whipped cream calling my name, so I'm off.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

21 Days

Three weeks from right now I'll be a married woman. A married woman who will hopefully be taking full advantage of the honeymoon suite at the reception hotel with her husband (which, let's be honest, probably means sleeping because we will be exhausted and we have to fly 30 hours the next day(s) [My mom was so buzzed and exhausted on her wedding night that she fell asleep before, uh, the marriage could be consumated, a fact my dad still brings up teasingly almost 30 years later. I'm going to do my best not to follow in her footsteps on that one!]).

I have an urge to write a contemplative post on the verge of this major life change, but my life has been such a whirlwind lately that I haven't had time to sit down and get my thoughts in enough order for a proper post. Honestly, this entire year has been a whirlwind. The last time I remember feeling like I had time to truly relax without places to be or tasks hanging over my head was on our trip to Jamaica. That was seven months ago! And that trip was only a few days long. Since that time I have been going non-stop: heading up a major summer project, dog-sitting and living at someone else's house for almost a month, teaching summer school, prepping and teaching a fall course, accepting every private tutoring job that came my way, hosting house guests for my bridal shower and various other random weekend events, house hunting and buying a house, taking trips for weddings and conferences, planning the wedding, working on the dissertation when I can squeeze it in. The three-week honeymoon is MUCH NEEDED.
I started working on my 30 Things to do Before I Turn 30 list way back on my birthday six weeks ago and haven't even managed to post that yet. I hope to get it up eventually, but maintaining this blog is at the very bottom of my to-do list. When I don't have any sort of regular routine (and I really haven't for months now) it's the last thing to get done. One of these days when there aren't so many (admittedly pretty awesome) special events going on in my life I'll be able to keep up with this thing again. I hope.

Which brings me to one of the reasons I'm most excited about my wedding: I am excited for life to have a regular life again. I have loved my year of being a bride-to-be, but I'm ready for everything to go back to normal. And that's ultimately how I feel about marrying Penn. It feels like the most perfectly normal, absolutely right thing to do. I feel great excitement for the wedding day. I'm almost bursting with anticipation these days (especially since it's the Christmas season; there is a natural feeling of anticipation in the air anyway that compounds my feeling). I like imagining what it's going to be like to have all of our friends and family members from different times and aspects of our lives together in one place for one crazy day. I keep trying to remind myself that all of this, all of the giddiness and stress and hopefulness and joy that has gone into planning this wedding, will happen only once in my life and I need to savor the feelings and not attempt to rush through them to the next step. But the truth is that the reason I'm excited for the wedding is not so much for the wedding itself, but because when it is over Penn will be my husband. We will be formally bonded together for life. I can't think of someone I would rather face life's challenges with, and I can't think of someone who could better help me appreciate its joys than Penn.
I can't wait to put on that dress and veil and stand at the altar of our church and promise Penn and 100 other people that I will be faithful to him until death. I can't wait to eat mashed potatoes in a martini glass and drink and dance and laugh and pose for hundreds of pictures. I can't wait to explore New Zealand and lounge on the beach in Fiji. But, mostly, I can't wait to come home and finally, officially be Mrs. _______, with all the domesticity and normality that entails. I want to continue to fix up our house and cook dinners and go to our jobs and make budgets and take road trips and walk the dog and have babies and cuddle them and yell at them and walk them to school and cry at their graduations and weddings and watch the seasons change through the picture window in the living room and grow old with my husband. I don't need anything more than that. That life is the most spectacular life I can imagine, and I can't wait to start living it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Future of America

I'm proctoring an SAT practice exam right now for my parttime tutoring job. I just finished grading my students' essays. Here are some of the things these high school juniors apparently believe, judging by the examples they provided in their essays:

1. Romeo and Juliet were not allowed to get married to each other, and so to punish their families they killed each other.

2. There is a European nation. Just one (and no, that wasn't just the kid leaving off a critical s in his rush to finish the essay, he repeated the phrase "the nation of Europe" many times).

3. Martin Luther King, Jr. Gave his "I Have a Dream" speech during the Civil War.

4. Barack Obama faces racism due to his race. (As opposed to racism based on his...yeah.)

5. "100 years ago people used to wear colorful clothing in America known as the "hippies" era. They danced to jazz and rebelled against social norms." (Wrong, and then wrong again.Also, oh my god, sentence structure!)