30 November 2009
Anyway, Melanie over at you are my fave posted why she wants to live in Denmark. Apparently there was a sweet episode of Oprah that talked all about Denmark and how awesome it is. Here are some reasons:
1. 1/3 of the population mainly bikes for transportation
2. Women get six months to a year maternity leave
3. Homelessness, poverty, and unemployment are rare
4. They eat fresh food from the market daily
5. University is free
6. Marriage is focused on the relationship, not the big wedding
7. Everyone heads home around 3 or 4 in the afternoon (family is a focus)
8. Clean and simple homes (I would have a hard time with this one).
Okay, so it's socialist. Is socialism really so bad? (I had to do another Google search to find out.) And you know what, I kind of like some of the beliefs of it. Well, one in particular - "a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals". That's really the only part I like. I mean, maybe I like other things in it, too. But I got bored and stopped reading.
Anyways. Denmark sounds awesome. And you don't hear a lot about Denmark in the news, which is a good sign in my opinion. No one is doing anything horrible there, basically. Which sounds good to me.
I turned to the Lonely Planet (my most trusted travel resource) to get some more information about this country.
Um, HELLO?! Look at the first picture I saw:
Okay, so it's a lego-model. But it's BASED on some street in Copenhagen.
Second - I watched a short video that I can't embed - by Sally O'Brien, who wrote the guide to Copenhagen. She says, "Copenhagen is stylish, well-organized, frequently cloudy or rainy, full of good-looking people, and obsessed with their next meal." Um, awesome! She also says the best music to describe Copenhagen is jazz (drooling now).
The CIA Worldbook (used this every week in high school) says that 87% of the Denmark population lives in urban areas (sweet). 99% of the population is literate. This place is beginning to sound like home...Also, Vikings lived there originally. SOLD!
Check out the official country website (does America have one of those?) here. (Answer: no.)
But in general, I've felt warm and fuzzy lately. It's this time of year that does it to me - the holidays. I love seeing people around town, shopping for gifts or even at the grocery store. It may sound cliche but I do honestly feel as though there is a different feeling in the air. People are smiley and they give money to charitable organizations and they go to parties and drink. Drinking probably helps a lot for some of them.
I love Christmas shopping. I play a game when I'm at a store (any kind of store, although stores in the mall work better than, say, a Walgreen's or a grocery store): I look at any one item and try to think of who I know that would want it. I've realized lately that I know a LOT of people. I was at a store today (okay, okay - it was Justice - picking up something for my future (!!!!!) niece) and I saw a cow-print notebook, and I thought - hmmm. Paula would love that.
Paula being a friend from high school that I think I have seen twice since graduation.
And if I could afford it, I would have bought that notebook right there and sent it to her...except she's in London right now and it would probably cost a lot.
Anyways. I love this time of the year. Pete and I made an advent calendar, a la Jordan Ferney. We got out my planner and used a red pen and decided that every day of December, until December 24th, we were going to do something Christmasey. I'll post about that at a later date. But we're going to get a CHRISTMAS tree this week and decorate it! And we're going to watch Christmas movies and bake cookies and make decorations and buy presents and wrap them prettifully.
I love this time of year.
This is the first year I won't be celebrating Christmas day with my family. I admit that in years past, it's been like I wasn't there. I dated a guy for almost two years and HATED that I wasn't with him on Christmas. I spent a lot of time on the phone with him on the 25th. Looking back on those moments makes me sad. I wish I had spent more time with my family.
The first two years of our relationship, Pete and I celebrated Christmas with our families separately - both of us in Illinois, on opposite ends of the state. His family meets up in Cairo; mine outside of Chicago - but it comforted me knowing that we were at least in the same state, as opposed to across the country or even the world.
[Marina City on December 24th, 2006]
One of my favorite Christmas moments was in 2006. We were driving up to Chicago on Christmas Eve, and on the way up, I said that we should drive around downtown and look at the Christmas lights. Mom and Emme (my sister) didn't want to, but dad said we could. So after we got into Westchester, IL around 9 PM, dad and I said hi to the grandparents and headed downtown. I loved spending time with just him. It was magical driving around downtown. It was dead. We had the entire Millennium Park area to ourselves (probably because it was FREEZING), including the Bean.
[Dad and I, on the terrace that overlooks the ice-skating rink in Millennium Park]
[Just us in the Bean]
We walked around Millennium/Grant Park for a bit and then drove around the city. It looked so peaceful. I love just driving around cities - even St. Louis, which I know like the back of my hand and is so familiar, it seems like I could never see anything new.
[Beautiful lit-up city!]
I love how Marina City is all lit up in that above picture. Those are parking lots on the bottom, and apartments up on top. My sister and I always called those the corncobs when we were little (okay, okay - I was calling them that up until this last October, when I learned their actual name) and always said, "Dad DAD DAD DAD DAD LET'S GO BY THE CORNCOBS!"
[It really was just us and like five other people... Love this view of the Jay Pritzker Pavillion]
Dad and I snuck up on the stage at the Jay Pritzker Pavillion. Okay, it wasn't really sneaking - there weren't any guard rails or anything - but that's me in the above picture, in the middle of the stage. It's funny because looking back on this experience, I've seen so many artists there that I LOVE - like the Decemberists and the Sea and Cake and Fleet Foxes...
I'm not going to lie. It's going to be weird not spending Christmas with my family this year. A couple of Easters ago, I went down to Cairo and when I called mom to say, "Happy Easter!"I totally lost it on the phone. And my family doesn't even celebrate Easter. We used to go to church and we always had an Easter egg hunt (usually just the four of us), but that was about it. There was no lamb. We never went up to Chicago for Easter, because why go all the way up there for two days?
But I was sad to not be with my weirdo, crazy family. And if that's how I was at Easter, I can't even imagine how Christmas will be. And don't get me wrong - I LOVE my soon-to-be-official-family, the Wissingers and the Stouts. They have all been amazingly wonderful at welcoming me into their family and just...making me feel at home. I am SO excited to be a Wissinger. I cannot emphasize that enough :)
Something to think about….
Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately two thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle-aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.
4 minutes later:
The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.
This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.
The questions raised:
*In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
*Do we stop to appreciate it?
*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?
One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made...
How many other things are we missing?
This story really just gives me the shivers. I had read it a couple times before I posted it, and I just checked it again for grammatical errors and was again graced with goosebumps. What a sad and lovely story. I like to think that I see beauty all around me, but this - I would have probably been one of the 2,000 busy people that simply rushed past.
Especially at this time of year, it's hard to slow down and take it all in. This narrative inspires me to do just that. School's ending, Christmas is coming, I've got a wedding to plan...but...but but.
Beauty conquers all. Oh, and love.
25 November 2009
In celebration of my project (that I should probably start working on), here are a few of my favorite videos of stop-motion animation.
Video #5: (this one is not 100% stop-motion - but if you like how it looks, go rent The Science of Sleep
And of course, my favorite Christmas movie:
22 November 2009
How old was your mom when she had you? 31
How many siblings do you have? 1
How many people live in your household? 2
What is your zip code? 63116
What year was your first car made? a 2001 station wagon? maybe 2000?
What year is your current vehicle? 2004
How many piercings do you have? 2
How many tattoos do you have? 1
How many creamers do you take in your coffee? 0; I don't drink coffee.
What time did you wake up this morning? 11:14 (yikes)
What is the latest you’ve stayed up this week? 3ish AM (yikes again)
How old were you when the Challenger blew up? -2 years old
What year did you graduate high school? 2006
How old were you when you got married? will be 22
How old were you when you had kids? n/a
How many kids do you have? 0
How many pieces of jewelry are you wearing right now? 1
How many different houses have you lived in? Officially four, but unofficially, like, seven.
What is your average electric bill? maybe $60 or $70? Just started paying them in July...
What is your lucky number? 2?
How many windows are in the room you’re in? 2
How many TV’s are in your house? 1
19 November 2009
- Fine - This is the word women use to end an argument when they feel they are right and you need to shut up. Never use “fine” to describe how a woman looks - this will cause you to have one of those arguments.
- Five Minutes - This is half an hour. It is equivalent to the five minutes that your football game is going to last before you take out the rubbish, so it’s an even trade.
- Nothing - This means “something”, and you should be on your toes. “Nothing” is usually used to describe the feeling a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards. “Nothing” usually signifies an argument that will last “Five Minutes” and end with “Fine”.
- Go Ahead - At some point in the near future, you are going to be in some mighty big trouble.
- Go Ahead (With Raised Eyebrows) - This is a dare. One that will result in a woman getting upset over “Nothing” and will end with the word “Fine”.
- Go Ahead (Neutral Expression) - This means “I give up” or “do what you want because I don’t care” You will get a “Raised Eyebrow Go Ahead” in just a few minutes, followed by “Nothing” and “Fine” and she will talk to you in about “Five Minutes” when she cools off.
- Loud Sigh - This is not actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A “Loud Sigh” means she thinks you are an idiot at that moment, and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over “Nothing”.
- Soft Sigh - Again, not a word, but a non-verbal statement. “Soft Sighs” mean that she is content. Your best bet is to not move or breathe, and she will stay content.
- That’s Okay - This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can make to a man. “That’s Okay” means that she wants to think long and hard before paying you back for whatever it is that you have done. “That’s Okay” is often used with the word “Fine” and in conjunction with a “Raised Eyebrow”.
- Please Do - This is not a statement, it is an offer. A woman is giving you the chance to come up with whatever excuse or reason you have for doing whatever it is that you have done. You have a fair chance with the truth, so be careful and you shouldn’t get a “That’s Okay”.
- Thanks - A woman is thanking you. Do not faint. Just say you’re welcome.
- Thanks A Lot - This is much different from “Thanks.” A woman will say, “Thanks A Lot” when she is really ticked off at you. It signifies that you have offended her in some callous way, and will be followed by the “Loud Sigh.” Be careful not to ask what is wrong after the “Loud Sigh,” as she will only tell you “Nothing”.
Okay - it's not 100% me (ha. backpacks, Megan). The five minutes thing - well, I really do try to only take five minutes. I don't have problems with being ready on time. But when I'm reading, crafting, doing Sudoku...that's when the five minutes problem kicks in.
The loud sigh and soft sigh aren't entirely me, either. However, when I do loudly sigh, and Pete is around, it's usually because I'm looking at something cute/romantic/dreamy online and then get sad/upset/irrationally angry that we don't have that thing/place/whatever. For example - I look at pictures of Paris and I sigh heavily. Or I look at pictures of cute dogs and I sigh heavily. Or short wedding dresses or a pretty hat or or or or...
16 November 2009
Mark the mailman first came into my family's lives when I was in 7th grade. He was sweet, handsome, and always willing to stop and chat, for a few minutes or even longer. He always has this AMAZING smile that just lights up the block (I say block because I've encountered him more times outside than inside) and makes everything better.
He brought me my high school acceptance letter. It was Mardi Gras in Soulard, which falls on a Saturday, and the neighborhood was jam-packed, especially because the parade used to go down 12th street (my street). But he showed up to our house (later than usual) with that special R-K logo-ed envelope. Mom and I had been sitting on the front steps of our house all day, watching the parade and waiting for the mail. My other girlfriends had called - "did you get in?!" and it was KILLING me, knowing that they had and I was still waiting to find out. Mark waited until I opened the letter and then jumped up and down with me and mom and gave me a huge hug and said congratulations.
A couple of months later, I was graduating from grade school. The day of my big graduation bash, I was sitting outside, on the same front porch, waiting for the guests to arrive. My grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins were coming down from Chicago and mom had planted me outside to be the first the greet them. Mark came up with our mail, noticed the giant party tent that was pitched in our backyard, and said, "what's all that for?" I explained that I was graduating the next day and today was the party. He smiled and said that he remembered his eighth grade graduation and how fun it was, but how long ago it seemed. Then, after putting our mail in the mailbox, he reached into his wallet and gave me $40. "Remember to always be how you are, right now," he said. "You're a great kid. Don't change." Then he gave me a hug, said congratulations again, and continued on his route. I was in awe. I couldn't believe that our mailman had just given me $40.
We have a huge Christmas party at my house every year for needy families. We receive our families through Midtown Catholic Charities, which is a fabulous organization in St. Louis that some parishioners from our church run. We get two families consisting of 12 or 14 people, and then send out invitations to, like, EVERYONE my parents know in Soulard with the wish lists from the family. Come to the party, bring a gift for them. My sister and I and our friends sort the presents out (one family in the play room, the other in the guest room) and then have piles for each designated family member. My dad has a very sophisticated listing system for which neighbor gets which family member, so we never have too many for one person.
Anyway. Mark began to come to our parties every December. He delivers mail all over Soulard, and since the majority of the people coming to the party were from Soulard, well - he started coming! Everyone loved seeing him out of his work environment. We could have entire conversations with him. He brought his gorgeous wife, Faith, to the parties too. And if he couldn't come that evening, he brought a huge stack of presents for the families during the day on his mail route.
When I was in high school, he saved one of my neighbor's lives when he walked up to the front door to put the mail in the slot, and saw him (Clark) lying unconscious on the floor. He broke into the house and called 911 and if he hadn't been there to do that, well...
He helped paint another neighbor's house. He's dog-sat for some people around, too. He lives up in North City, near Crown Candy, and he ran for alderman a couple of years ago. He didn't get the vote, but he had a huge party to drum up support and a ton of people from Soulard went. Apparently it was tons of fun. I wasn't 21 yet so I couldn't.
The reason Mark has been in my head lately is because I ran into him last week. I usually go home on Sundays to visit with mom, dad, and Louie, and since mail isn't delivered on Sundays, I don't see him. But last week there was a gas leak in our alley and the Laclede Gas guys had to be let into our house to look at something and I was the only one available to unlock the doors for them. I found myself at home for a few hours and as I was about to jump in my car and speed off to work, Mark's mail truck pulled up.
"Girl, I heard you are getting MARRIED!" he said, giving me a big hug. "That's crazy! I'm so happy for you!" We talked about marriage and having kids and my ring and his sons (who are now 11 and 8?! WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? I REMEMBER BOTH OF THEM BEING BORN!) and Faith. It was really great catching up with him.
"So - you just make sure you invite me to that graduation party of yours, okay?" he said, as he started heading up towards John and Steve's house, the first on our block.
"Oh, you know you're getting invited to the wedding, right?" I asked.
"I can't wait," he said, as we bumped fists. "Good luck with school!" he continued, wandering off.
10 November 2009
Yikes! Only eight months left until the big day :)
I know that it seems really far away, but it seemed far-er away in June and wow, June doesn't feel like it was so long ago.
So, here is what we have figured out so far:
1. Church booked
2. Officiant booked
3. Reception site booked
4. DJs/DJ equipment booked
5. Wedding dress purchased
6. Bridesmaids dresses picked out/some are purchased
7. Wedding Invitation designer :)
8. 90% finished with picking out a photographer (I am SO excited about this!!!)
9. Everything ordered to make save-the-dates
10. Some church readings picked out
...I think that's it. I have a couple of hair accessories I like that I can't decide between. I'll post those later this week and ya'll can tell me what you think.
One thing that I have gotten excited about as the months have passed, surprisingly, is the flowers. At first I was convinced that we would carry fake flowers, or something creative, like button flowers or balloon flowers or fabric flowers but as time passes, I really, really want beautiful, real flowers. Weird. Guess I'm more of a girl than I thought.
So, how are you? Tell me about your life these past few weeks. I've missed you all!
[photo by Ryan Gladstone]
Not only that, but I got an iPhone (yay!) and I've been checking my email/twitter on that and spending less time online, which is weird. I haven't been clicking around as much and following links, which is something that usually inspires me to blog.
Anyway - there's really no excuse. I'm sorry. But St. Louis has had beautiful weather since the end of October (we had something like 17 out of 31 rainy days here) and I've been taking advantage of that, too!
Pete and I aren't Halloween people, so we took a walk at dusk and had a little photoshoot. Then we went home, watched Shaun of the Dead, and ordered Thai food. It was a good day.