Monday, March 30, 2015

On This, The Tenth Year

On our one-month dating anniversary, we went to prom together. I wore my hair up and a pink princess dress. We rode in a black limo with glowing lights on the ceiling, and we held hands and imagined they were stars.

On our two-year dating anniversary, we got all dressed up and went to dinner. Our waiter gave us a lily from one of their floral arrangements, and then we drove out to the lake like we used to in high school. Just to lay in the back of the truck bed and eat peppermint patties and gummi bears, and look at the real stars.

On our third dating anniversary, you bought me a huge bouquet of pink and yellow lilies. I took them back to Oklahoma with me, and they lived on my dresser for weeks, and looking at them made me smile and miss you at the same time. It feels like some other lifetime that we spent so long so far apart.

A few months before our fifth dating anniversary, you dropped to one knee in the middle of my living room. We decided to savor that moment for ourselves for a few hours, before we called everyone we loved. Elliott kept trying to eat my engagement flowers.

Just after our sixth dating anniversary, I peeked. I held your hand around the wall of the church, but I needed to see you before I walked down the aisle, and so I peeked and didn't say anything. You got choked up when you said your vows, but I couldn't stop smiling at you as you held my hands in yours.

On our second wedding anniversary, we got cupcakes from the bakery that made our wedding cakes, and went back to the bed and breakfast we went to after our wedding. We sat on the floor with our plates resting on the cooler we'd brought from home, and cut those enormous cupcakes in half so we could share both flavors as French music twinkled in the background.

And as our fourth wedding anniversary comes closer, I think about this: that today, I've been yours for 10 years. That I hope for ten … no, fifty … no, A HUNDRED more years of laughing with you, being silly with you, holding you and having the most wonderful life with you.

To many more!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Harry Potter and the Spanish Translation

It took me four months, but I am FINALLY done reading Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal.

When I said I wanted to read the first Harry Potter book in Spanish, I knew I was undertaking quite a challenge. I had taken Spanish on and off throughout middle school, high school and college, and always found that the classes came fairly easily to me, but you know what they say: if you don't use it, you lose it. I lost a lot of my espaƱol vocabulary over the past five years.

I'd been practicing using my Duolingo app for several months, though, and was feeling a bit more confident going in. I bought the e-book from Pottermore and downloaded it to my Kindle, because I knew I would be looking up a lot of words that I didn't understand, so I wanted to be able to do that with just a touch.

And at first, I found the reading really difficult because, despite learning a lot of the verbs in the present-tense during my Spanish classes, how often are books really written in present tense? My knowledge of the past-tense versions were rusty at best, non-existent at worst. I found myself using the translation button like eight times per Kindle page, and was frustrated at how much time it was taking.

A few days after I started struggling through La Piedra Filosofal, I had dinner with a girl who had majored in Spanish in college and is fluent herself. She said that she had read some books in Spanish before, and that it was easier and more helpful for your own Spanish skills to just keep reading and use context clues to figure out what the missing words were. I started using the translation function less after that, and it started to go much smoother. I still ended up translating maybe once or twice per page, in the beginning, but the closer I got to the end, the less I felt like I needed to lean on that. I tried to read out loud when I could to practice the words. I managed to learn a lot of new words and re-learned a lot of old forgotten ones.

At the end, I still didn't understand every word, not by a long shot. Thank goodness I was so familiar with the story that I could figure out what was going on even if I didn't know the words! But it was an interesting experience. One that I don't plan to attempt again soon.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sports Sports Sports

Every year during March Madness, Matt starts a family bracket pool, and the two of us plus his dad, his sister and our brother-in-law compete for the "Get Outta There" trophy that currently resides on my husband's dresser.

I spend exactly no time watching basketball unless Matt and I go to a game together (so … I've seen approximately five or six games in the past 10 years, and one of those was the Harlem Globetrotters). I know very few of the teams or who is any good, so I normally just pick whichever team I've heard of before for my bracket, and I always pick Oklahoma to go far (BOOMER).

(This worked out well for me one year, since none of our family had faith in OU and then the Sooners made it far and I was the only one who had picked them to win. But most of the time, I am in last or second-to-last place.)

Anyway, on Saturday morning Matt was checking up on the tournament scores, and as usual, told me I was losing by A LOT. What else is new.

Then he said, "Your tie-breaker score is awfully low for a basketball game too. You don't see many basketball games where the teams only get 30 points."

And I started laughing maniacally because — NO SHAME — I had forgotten, whilst filling out my bracket, that this was for a basketball tournament and had picked my tie-breaker score based on what a good football tie-breaker score might be.

Are you participating in any March Madness pools?

Friday, March 20, 2015

I Don't Know Lots of Things About World War II

Perhaps this is presumptuous, but despite not being alive yet in the 1940s and 1950s, I thought that I had a pretty good grasp of the goings-on during World War II. Through high school and college, it was one of only two historical periods that I was interested in (the other being Tudor England), and I didn't care at all about any of my other history classes.

Thankfully I've become more interested in other time periods since then, because there's a lot of interesting stuff that's happened in the world, but WWII still fascinates me. And there have been a few good books and movies that I've experienced lately that have shown me just how little my pool of knowledge is. There is SO MUCH that I didn't know, and, I'm sure, still so much to learn.

"The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II" by Denise Kiernan
I started thinking about my knowledge — or lack thereof — when one of my book clubs chose to read "The Girls of Atomic City" a few months back. The book is about the compounds at Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the women (and men) who worked to build the Atomic bombs that fell at the end of the war. Only they didn't know what they were working on, they were just recruited for these high-paying government jobs and knew they were contributing to the war effort, but the project was kept so hush-hush that no one ever talked about what they were doing. I found it fascinating because I really had no concept of the Manhattan Project and what the U.S. was doing through most of the war (though I did watch Bomb Girls on Netflix? and it was kind of sort of similar, except in Canada?). Most of the people in my book club didn't like "The Girls of Atomic City" and tore it to shreds, but I thought it was interesting, even if it had some weaknesses. (I agreed that there were too many characters and that they were difficult to distinguish [there was a summary of characters, places and events at the beginning for reference], but thought the overall view of the Project was very interesting.)

The Imitation Game
A few weeks back, Matt and I went to go see The Imitation Game at this little local theater by campus, and sorry to yell but IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS YOU SHOULD DO SO IMMEDIATELY. It was fantastic. Benedict Cumberbatch is so good. Everyone in it is so good. It's about the code-breakers at Bletchley Park in England, led by mathematician Alan Turing, and how they were trying to crack the Enigma machine that the Germans were using to communicate with their military. It was deemed to be an impossible task, as there were some 190,000,000 possible settings for Enigma and the settings were changed every night at midnight. The movie was wonderful, funny, fast-paced, heartbreaking and smart all at once. Now I very much want to pick up the book that it was based off, "Alan Turing: The Enigma." (Catherine has also suggested the show The Bletchley Circle, which is on Netflix, but I haven't gotten around to seeing it yet. Also, I have since read about some inaccuracies in the script, but it was still a beautifully done movie.)

"All The Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr
I loved this book. Loved loved loved. Marie-Laure is a blind French girl who evacuates Paris during the German occupation to live with her uncle. Werner is a German orphan that is recruited into the German army when it's discovered that he has a talent for fixing radios. Two teenagers growing up in war-time with such different expectations for life.

I loved the main characters. I loved the secondary characters. I loved that the good guys were flawed, and that the bad guys could have been good guys, depending on your perspective. I loved that this book gave me such a unique glimpse into the German armies: prior to reading "All The Light," I had this idea of what a Nazi was, and what that person must be/believe, and this book completely threw me through a loop; the idea that there were people fighting under the German flag that may not have agreed with any of the things the Nazis were doing, but that were afraid to refuse to fight for their country? It was a fascinating perspective and an excellent read, and it made for a GREAT book club discussion.

What historical periods are you obsessed with? Have you read any good historical books — fiction or non — lately?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Is Life Without Chocolate Even Worth Living?

I think chocolate is making me break out.

I know that this is a fairly controversial statement. Some doctors say that what you eat has no effect on the oiliness or dryness of your skin, and other doctors say that what you eat absolutely affects your face.

My mom and my sister have always complained that they can't eat chocolate because it makes them break out, and my mom has gone so far as to tell people she's allergic to it. And Past Allie always thought this was silly, because I've never heard of a few pimples counting as an "allergic reaction."

But you know how much I love Nutella? I started noticing that every time I eat it, within a day or two I get huge cystic acne flares. I thought it was because Nutella is quite oily, and decided maybe I shouldn't buy it anymore. But my skin was still flaring up every time I ate regular chocolate too.

This was kind of mind-boggling to me. I've been a Proactiv user for years and years because I had bad acne as a teenager, and when I tried to stop using it as an adult, my skin freaked out again, and so I've been back on it ever since. I figured adult acne was just my cross to bear. So the idea that maybe I could control my skin a little better by cutting out chocolate was intriguing.

AND TERRIBLE. I decided I should try an experiment to see if my skin clears up when I avoid chocolate, and on the first day, I came home and wailed to Matt that I didn't think life without chocolate was worth living. (He was obviously super thrilled with this assessment of my life.)

I just discovered Japanese green tea chocolate! How can you take this deliciousness away from me?!

Since then, I have managed to go two or three days at a time, but I keep forgetting that I'm not eating chocolate and then accidentally eat it. (On Sunday I scarfed two Andes mints at Olive Garden before I remembered that Andes mints are chocolate. Gah. Life without Andes mints isn't worth living.)

I am still interested in the results of this experiment though, if I can ever display enough self-control to actually avoid cocoa for more than a few days at a time. I'm half-scared that my skin will be perfect sans chocolate and that I'll have to give it up forever, and half-scared that it won't have any effect and that my skin just sucks.

Do you think the things you eat affect your skin? What couldn't you live without?