Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Loved Ones Far and Wide

engagement pictures, bookstore, photography

It’s all over.

A wedding, a honeymoon, and three wedding receptions are finally done.

It’s a little bittersweet, to be honest.

I’m excited to be done with all the stress of planning. I’m excited to take time to settle into our house, unpack the rest of my boxes, find the perfect spot for our wedding presents, just bask in the everyday adventure of being newlyweds.

But celebrating with our friends and family has been such a joy to me. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how many people love me when I don’t get to see them often, but throwing three wedding receptions reminded Beau and me of how blessed we are. We have so many loved ones we needed three parties to accommodate them all!

While our receptions provided a lovely and needed reminder of how great the people are in my life, seeing my long-distance friends also reminded me of how hard it is to maintain long-distance relationships. I have best friends in Australia and in Canada, in Washington, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Florida. At our first reception, I reunited with my best friend and step-cousin, after almost seven years. This past weekend, I reunited with one of my au pair besties for the first time in more than three years. 

I only show mine and Beau's faces, not those of my friends and family. Les filles de 78!
It’s been just as difficult seeing my best friends who couldn’t attend either reception. My other two au pair besties I haven’t seen since July 2010 and October 2010 (Canadian and Australian, respectively). I haven’t seen one of my college best friends, a fellow French major who taught English in France while I was an au pair, since October 2011 at Homecoming.

Now I live in Small City, and I remind Beau more often than he’d like that we can’t live here forever. I’m slowly turning acquaintances into friends, and I do love his family. Game Night is the highlight of my week, with the occasional Friday night wine tasting coming in at a close second. Our house is the BEST, and the city is charming.

But seeing all of my friends this past month was a stark reminder of what I don’t have anymore. While I do have Lauren and Hardy in Big City, less than two hours away, it’s not the same as living down the street from Lauren. It’s not the same as seeing the au pairs every single day. It’s not the same as spontaneous tea parties and midnight trips to Jack-in-the-Box.

So while I’m glad not to be stressed out with wedding planning, I’m sad that I don’t know when I’ll see all my friends again. It could honestly be years, and that’s hard for me to acknowledge.

Luckily for me, I’m actually spending the rest of the week with Lauren and Hardy! Beau and I spent last night with them, and I drove Beau to the airport this morning. Instead of going back home, I’m working in the actual office all week and hanging out with besties every night. Then Saturday, Lauren and I will cheer on Hardy as he runs a half-marathon! It’s almost like the glory days from when Lauren and I were roommates!

Well… this blog post took an unexpected turn. I didn’t intend on writing such a melancholy post for Wedding Wednesday, but sometimes you don’t realize what you’re feeling until you write it all out.

Linking up with Nancy J, Meredith, and Ashlen for Wedding Wednesday!
Linking up with One Tipsy Chick for The Wednesday Roundup. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sorry, Google Searchers. My Blog is Not Porn

Apr 22, 2014 12:00 AM – Apr 28, 2014 11:00 PM
The last few months have seen an increase in keyword searches about stolen panties. Based on the detailed information I receive from Google Analytics, I'm pretty sure these keywords are from people looking for porn, not for empathy, since they only stay on my blog about 5 seconds before moving on.

Sorry, no, the fucker who stole my panties is a creep and a sexual predator, not the daring hero of some poorly-written erotica. 

Please tell me I'm not the only one with questionable keywords...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Musings

I went to church this morning.

And I almost cried. Several times.

I had forgotten how much joy I can feel in the right church setting.

I had forgotten how light my heart feels when I'm worshiping God, when I can feel Her love pouring over me, when I'm just so happy to be in Her presence.

It's been so long since I've attended church. I didn't even go to church at Christmas. I think the last time I went to church was when I was home for Thanksgiving.

I haven't had a church home in a long time, since I graduated college, in fact.

It made sense at first. Was my French good enough to follow services in France? Plus I woke up so early most of the time, and I just wanted to sleep in on Sundays. In New York and in Toronto, I relied on walking and public transportation on the weekends, which didn't really encourage me. I knew living in Big City would be temporary, and I didn't want to commit to a new church right before moving again. Then I was working two jobs most of last year, and I often had to work on Sundays.

But reading that paragraph, all these decisions that made perfect sense at the time now just come off as excuses to me now. 

Beau and I will probably live here in Small City for at least two years, if not longer. I need to find a church home, and today I took that first step. 

Beau and I attended Easter services at the Episcopal Church. I was raised in a conservative Presbyterian denomination, but I need to find a Protestant denomination with a more liberal theology. The Episcopal Church is a contender.

While I didn't completely follow the entire order of service (there's a lot of repetition, and they use multiple books for reading stuff), I did love the rituals performed this morning. Plus we sang my two favorite Easter hymns!

Next weekend, I'll be a bit busy with our final wedding receptions and my parents visiting, but I hope to try out the Episcopal Church again in May.

I want to feel this joy and peace again. I want to celebrate God's love every day, not just on Easter Sunday. I just hope that I remember how I feel today in a few weeks.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Club Friday: Memoirs of Paris

To contrast my regular life with my honeymoon life, just look at the number of books I've read.

On our honeymoon (including time spent flying), I read four books start-to-finish, I finished a collection of short stories, I read several chapters of a textbook, and I started another novel. In the rest of 2014 (thus far), I finished two books that I'd technically started in 2013, I read two books start-to-finish, and I finished the book started on my honeymoon.

In other words, I need to go on vacation more often because I don't have enough time to read!

photography, bookstore, engagement shoot
We had no problem making out in front of a camera.
Back in November, Beau and I took the first half of our engagement pictures in a used bookstore. Before we left for the next location, however, we took a few minutes to browse their selection. Naturally we each bought something, but it took me a whole four months to find the time to read my book!

My eye was immediately drawn to Paris: A Love Story by Kati Marton. Memoirs set in Paris? Yes, please!

From Amazon: In this remarkably honest and candid memoir, award-winning journalist and distinguished author Kati Marton narrates an impassioned and romantic story of love, loss, and life after loss. Paris is at the heart of this deeply moving account. Marton paints a vivid portrait of an adventuresome life in the stream of history. Inspirational and deeply human, Paris: A Love Story will touch every generation.

I don't normally describe women based on the men in their life, but since Marton's memoirs include detailed chapters on her late ex-husband and her late husband, they must be mentioned. Her second husband was ABC News anchor Peter Jennings. Her third husband was US diplomat Richard Holbrooke. 

A journalist's memoirs are not normally the sort of book I read, but anything about Paris lures me in. I'm SO glad I stumbled across this book at the little used bookstore. Marton seamlessly weaves back and forth between different times in her life, telling thematic stories more so than chronological ones. Yet the overall timeline of her life is easy to follow, and I'm genuinely jealous of how much of it takes place in Paris.  

Anyone who loves Paris, or Hungary (Marton's family escaped Hungary after the revolution), or journalism needs to read this book.

What have you read lately?


*Y'all know the drill. Two Amazon Affiliate links are embedded in this post. I get a few pennies if you shop via my links.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: A Timeline of Events

love, photography, engagement pictures

I think Beau's proposal and our months of wedding planning was our best-kept secret from the blog. My motivation for the secrecy was two-fold.
  1. I wanted to control the narrative of my own story of sex and virginity. I didn't want to force the blog conversation before I was ready.
  2. I thought announcing our wedding by linking this video was HILARIOUS, and so did both Beau and my best friend Lauren. That was actually planned before we even got engaged.
All the wedding madness isn't quite over yet, but I'm at the point where I can start blogging about all the fun details!

I present to you...

Our Love Story: A Timeline of Events

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Puerto Rican Honeymoon: Day Trip to Arecibo

Puerto Rico, honeymoon, Arecibo, maps
Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under CC BY SA. Stars and text my own.

Beau and I arrived back home late late late the evening of April 6th, and honestly, the first few days back at work were ROUGH. We each took off 12 days from work for our wedding, our honeymoon, and our first wedding reception. It's nice being home again, but I miss our lazy days in Puerto Rico. Then again, our day trips from San Juan were far from lazy occasions...

While we spent most of our honeymoon in Puerto Rico enjoying the beach, the pool, and each other wink wink, Beau and I also took two day trips outside of San Juan to see other parts of the island. After spending the second full day of our honeymoon in Old San Juan, and relaxing the third day, the fourth day was the perfect time for an adventure! Beau carefully mapped out our trip to include four highlights:
Camuy River Cave Park, Puerto Rico, honeymoon, caving
Beau is a better photographer than I am
I am not an outdoorsy person. My idea of an adventure is going to a new museum or walking aimlessly through the streets of a big city. But Beau really wanted to see the cave system with the third-largest underground river in the world, and who was I to deny my new husband anything? Luckily for me, the paths in the cave are wide with gentle inclines, just right for caving novices, children, or people who have physical disabilities. 

We showed up to the Rio Camuy Caves Park around 10am. Unfortunately, we arrived at about the same time as a large school group who was given priority over other tourists. We waited more than half an hour before we were finally escorted into the small cinema. After watching the short film on the history and science of the cave system, the underground river, and the sinkhole, everyone lined up to board the trams.

We waited a good 15 minutes before we could board a tram. Then on the tram, we waited another 15 or so minutes before the second tram arrived for the rest of the group. I'm not sure if there was a mechanical error, or if they were trying to place extra distance between us and the school group, but I don't think all this waiting is normal for tourists. 

The tram ride was quite terrifying, and I thought I was going to die, but at least all the trees and plants were pretty. 

The caves were so much cooler than I thought they would be. The beauty and magnitude of the first cavern made me wonder aloud if we should have just gotten married there. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Gleeking Out, or That One Time Glee Retweeted Me

I've been live-tweeting Glee on and off for several years now. It always produces the double-edged effect of losing me followers, but gaining me a large number of retweets and favorites.

Last week was the pinnacle moment in my live-tweeting career.

That might have been the highlight of my week... Well, my work week, at least.

Have you ever had an exciting retweet 
by a celebrity or TV network?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Shoutouts: Belle's Blog is Back to Talk Blogging!

I haven't done a Sunday Shoutouts post in four weeks...

But I have gotten married, honeymooned in Puerto Rico, and celebrated the first of three wedding receptions since then, so I think my absence is explainable! 

Links today will not be restricted to the last week. 

I don't usually blog about blogging, but I learn so much from other bloggers willing to share their secrets. I've appreciated all the tutorials about blog promotion, social media, and more. More than how-to posts, though, I enjoy when bloggers share their thoughts on blogging. I mean... what we do is a little weird, right? Can we just all admit that? First we spill our guts to the Internet, and then we change how we divulge all the gory details of our lives just so more people will read about us. I love blogging, and I love reading blogs, but it's weird, y'all.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Club Friday: Children's Fantasy Fiction by Robin McKinley

When Beau and I were deciding where to take our honeymoon, I had very few requests. Our room had to have a king size bed for, ahem, marital activities, and we had to be near a pool or preferably a body of water so I could spend time in the sun, reading books. That's it. By a stroke of luck, Puerto Rico fit within our schedule and our budget, so we actually honeymooned in an even more exciting way than I'd expected. Even with all of our sightseeing, I found time to read several books!

I packed three secondhand paperbacks and one paperback textbook from undergrad for my beach reading. I also loaded quite a few ebooks onto my iPad, but I obviously didn't want to take my iPad to the pool or the beach. Two of those paperbacks were rereads for me, The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown, both amazing fantasy fiction novels by Robin McKinley.


From the author's website: This is the story of Corlath, golden-eyed king of the Free Hillfok, son of the sons of the Lady Aerin. And this is the story of Harry Crewe, the Outlander orphan girl who became Harimad-sol, King's Rider, and bearer of the Blue Sword, Gonturan, the sword Lady Aerin carried, the sword only a woman may wield, for it will turn in the hand of a man.j

I first read both of these books my senior year in college, when my Little recommended them to me. The Blue Sword takes place in a fantastical, alternate European world. Harry Crewe's world initially sounds vaguely familiar, with military families and codes of conduct for ladies and all that. But quickly the reader realizes that this familiar world is one touched by kelar. As always, McKinley writes strong female characters, although in The Blue Sword, only the protagonist and a few minor supporting characters are female, the others all being male.

From the author's website: There is no place in the country of Damar for Aerin, the king's daughter, who is also the daughter of a witchwoman; and so she befriends her father's crippled war-horse, Talat, and teases her cousin Tor into teaching her to handle a sword. But it is Aerin who rediscovers the old recipe for dragonfire-proof kenet, and when the army is called away to the other side of the country, it is she who, alone but for Talat, rides out to confront Maur, the Black Dragon, the last of the Great Dragons, for centuries thought dead. 

Words don't describe how obsessed I was rereading this. I practically ignored my new husband while finishing this book! The Hero and the Crown is actually a prequel to The Blue Sword, but I highly recommend reading them in published order, not chronological order. While the original novel is inarguably brilliant, the prequel is even better. I loved the adventure and character development, but the emotional journey for Aerin is what makes the book so beautiful. I cried several times while reading this, especially at the bittersweet ending.

What have you read lately? Leave your book recommendations (and links to reviews!) in the comments! Linking up for Book Club Friday.


Note: Post includes two Amazon Affiliates links, just in case I've managed to persuade you to buy some of the best children's fantasy fiction you'll ever read.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Puerto Rican Honeymoon: Old San Juan

I write this as Beau and I sit in the San Juan airport, waiting for our flight to take us back to the mainland U.S. We have five bottles of duty-free rum for the two of us, quite possibly a lifetime supply considering how little liquor we drink. Puerto Rico was honestly the perfect choice for our honeymoon. While I’m sad to be leaving, I’m looking forward to the first of our three wedding receptions this Saturday (not to mention the in-network capabilities of my iPhone!). We did so much during our week in Puerto Rico that this will be just the first of several posts describing our honeymoon!

On our second day in Puerto Rico, we decided to venture into Old San Juan. This is the historic—and touristy—part of the city.

Beau researched the bus system and discovered that while cheap, it’s confusing and unreliable. We took a taxi into San Juan, which is a flat rate of $15 from Condado, where we were staying.

We first visited Fort San Cristóbal, which dates back to the early 17th century. It is the largest Spanish fortification in the New World.

From a historian’s perspective, it was AWESOME. The dungeons featured historic graffiti, beautiful carvings of ships thought to have been carved by an imprisoned captain. The fort itself was in pretty good condition, especially considering it was used by the U.S. military during World War II. The views were stunning, and it was very easy to understand why the Spanish built their fort in that location.

Fort San Cristobal, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, history, vacation
Fort San Cristóbal
From a feminist’s perspective, it was depressing. The exhibits barely mentioned the Taíno natives who had lived on the island before the Spanish conquistadors. One exhibit casually mentioned the need to pay day laborers for construction because there was a lack of slaves. Ugh, the inconvenience!

Yet, from a public historian’s perspective, having interned in a museum and having taken a college course on public history, I understand why museums and historic attractions gloss over the evil parts of history. The average person is more interested in heritage, which is quite different from history. Heritage is how a society feels about its past and thus how a society chooses to remember its past.

Beau did not seem to experience the same moral conundrums that I felt during our entire visit to Fort San Cristóbal. He quite enjoyed playing with his fancy camera and taking beautiful panoramic photos. 


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