I Capture the Castle

I had another Friday night all to my lonesome last night.  Tim was on a trip at Central, so I took him some delicious Jimmy Johns, and then retreated homeward to see what Netflix could do about my insatiable need for a good romantic movie.  I scrolled through the list of movies in the Romance genre and start to feel more and more hopeless.  I didn’t want to watch anything with Julie Roberts or anything with a rating of less than 2 stars.  I think I set my standards way too high.  Why is it so hard to make a good romantic movie?

I finally settled on I Capture the Castle. I liked the looks of the English setting (in a dilapidated castle surrounded by untamed grassy hillocks), the English people (beautiful pale skin and big luminous eyes), and the premise – a writer (the awesome Bill Nighy) using the proceeds from his great literary work, Jacob Wrestled, to take out a 40 year lease on castle.  He moves his wife, two daughters, and son into this castle, attacks his wife with a butter knife and quits writing for 12 years.  The story picks up again when 2 Americans, who have inherited the castle and the surrounding land, come into the picture.  The 2 Americans, conveniently enough, are young, handsome, and rich.  The oldest daughter, Rose, immediately sets her sights on the elder brother, Simon, and his well-endowed bank account.  As she is maybe one of the prettiest people I have ever seen, he of course falls in love with her almost immediately, and they become engaged.  The most interesting person in the story is Cassandra, the 17-year-old who is narrating the story by way of writing in her journal. She is wise beyond her years, beautiful in a more interesting way than Rose, and is also in love with Simon, after he gives her her first kiss.  The person who really should have given her her first kiss, in my opinion, is not her soon-to-be brother-in-law, but Steven, the Greek-god/house boy who has lived with the family for a decade.  He is in love with Cassandra, but she sees him only as a friend.

The story comes to a head when Cassandra tells Steven that she doesn’t love him, but loves Simon instead. Cassandra also tells him that Rose doesn’t love Simon, but is marrying him for the money (money that would save her destitute family).  Several weeks prior, Steven had witnessed Neil (Simon’s brother) and Rose kissing, and he suspicions that Rose and Neil really love each other.  He goes to Neil, explains that Rose doesn’t love Simon, and that Cassandra loves Simon.

Of course, Neil goes to Rose, who truly does love him.  They run away together and live happily ever after.  Simon is still in love with Rose, however, despite how poorly she treated him (the power of a pretty face, I guess?), and Cassandra is still in love with Simon.  And Steven is still in love with Cassandra.  I’m happy that at least one set of people in the story have a happy ending, I guess.

I wish situations like this would only occur in movies (or in the books on which the movies are based), but I know that’s not the case.  No matter how little sense our emotions make in a sane reality, we are often powerless to change them.  I remember that when I fell in love with Tim, an older woman in my congregation invited me over the have French-pressed coffee.  I knew from the outset that it wasn’t just about drinking fancy coffee – we were going to have “a talk.”  This was a woman I greatly respected and whose opinion I treasured.  She was worried about the direction I was taking – falling in love at 19 with a boy who did not fit in the mold of a typical Witness.  I mean, he dyed his hair blond at one point!  And he had sideburns!  I remember telling her that the conversation was too late.  There was absolutely nothing I could do at that point to alter my feelings for Tim. It would have been physically and emotionally completely impossible for me.

No matter how little sense people make when falling in love, I can understand it and appreciate that pain and struggle. Love doesn’t make sense, and it’s messy and complicated.  It’s also an intricate web of physical, emotional, and mental connections that cannot be teased apart.  I’ve never believed in evolution, and the fact that human beings love is more evidence of some outside force influencing humanity.  Why would we evolve with the capacity for love?  It’s not for the propagation of the species – people can procreate without love, and it would probably be more beneficial for the human race if love was removed from that equation.  It would be much better for the species if people bred for the improvement of the species than for love.  Love gets in the way of survival of the fittest.  Love just doesn’t make sense in the context of evolution.  It only makes sense, to me at least, in the context of a God who enabled humans to experience something magical and painful, something that can help us transcend the commonness of daily life.  Love helps make life meaningful.

Yoga my head into the ground

I had a very positive day yesterday.  I started off on the right foot by drinking two cups of delicious fresh ground 8 O’Clock Columbian roast, one cup of twiggy Traditional Medicinals Dandelion Root tea and by eating rolled oats with cinnamon, raisins and ground flax.  I was bursting with healthy energy, so I headed to the gym and did 35 minutes on the treadmill, working up a shirt-drenching sweat.  Tim put all sorts of excellent hip-hop and electronic music on my eyepod that kept my energy flowing – stuff like this awesome song with the best bass beat ever:

I always play my iPod on random, and a few Kid Cudi tracks came up, and maybe even some Robyn?  Anyway, it was a mix made to train my body and soul.  After the treadmill action, I headed out to Ultimate Fitness to catch the 11:15 yoga class.

Sara had us do all the usual poses – mountain (where you get in touch with the earth), tree (where you try vainly to balance on one foot whilst keeping the rest of your body on one plane), cobra, downward dog, etc. She tried some intermediate moves too; she had us do boat, or at least I tried to do boat. You do this pose by sitting on your mat, with your legs stretched directly in front of you. You scooch your hips back, so that you are sitting on your sit bones and not rolling back on your butt. You place your hands behind your back for stability and then lift both legs off the ground. It sounds so easy, but it’s insanely hard for me. I can only lift one leg at a time, and I can’t even keep the one leg off the ground for more than 10 – 20 seconds. Sara makes it look as if it’s the easiest thing in the world. It’s just insane.

Fortunately, she closed with savasana, the corpse pose. In this pose, you lay on your back, with your legs flat to on the ground, knees and feet pointed upward. Sara walks your mind through your whole body, relaxing each muscle as your thought touches it. Once you’ve relaxed everything, from the skin between your toes to your inner ears, you focus on your breathing. You imagine your breath coming into your body like waves coming on to the beach. With each exhalation, the wave retreats, taking with it some of bad things residing in your body. I was telling Tim today, that yoga is the kind of thing that works well for those who believe in it and probably not at all for those who don’t. I guess I’m a believer because it always makes me feel better when I go, at least until the day after. I might have pushed myself too far yesterday, because today I am pretty much sore EVERY WHERE. But, I still feel positive about it because I can feel myself standing straighter, and I feel much more tuned in to my body. It feels less like a mysterious package surrounding my brain and more a part of me.

After yoga Tim and I went to Major Art and Hobby where I got my Prang watercolors and brushes and erasers and rulers for my Architectural Drawing class that starts on the 16th. Major Art and Hobby always seems very poorly stocked to me. Maybe it’s my Americanized custom of always seeing plenty of everything. But, despite appearances, they had everything I needed, sans cold press watercolor paper and a masonite drawing board. The paper will come in this week, and I found the board at Hobby Lobby – it looks exactly like the drawing boards we used in high school. I can’t wait to slap some paper on that board, tack it down with masking tape and have at it.  My drawing desire was re-awakened Saturday morning when I drew up simple plans for a tea box the Bennzy Boos is going to make for us. I forgot how relaxing it can be to draw rulered lines with a pencil on paper with a nice tooth. Ahh… the little things in life.

After Major Art & Hobby, Tim and I hit up Great River, had a couple of pints, headed to Evergreen for a T-square (they were closed), and picked up some wings at BWW for supper. I tried the mango Habanero sauce, per a friend’s recommendation. It is pretty sticky but very delicious. It took about an hour for my lips to return to their normal color. We watched Zombieland while eating supper. It was actually a pretty unsettling movie to watch while eating chicken wings. As I was ripping chicken flesh off the bones – orange, sticky sauce all over my face and hands – on the television, human beings were ripping entrails out of fellow human beings, while projectile vomiting black mucusy syrupy disgustingness. Besides the aforementioned graphicness, the movie was actually pretty funny in many parts. The Bill Murray scenes alone make the movie worth watching. Woody Harrelson was my favorite character – nice and insane. I didn’t like the girls in the movie – the idea that they could snooker those two guys so completely multiple times seemed t0o far-fetched to me.  I think it’s definitely worth watching, but it’s no Shaun of the Dead, not by a long-shot.

Today has been a very mild day so far, which is what I needed after all the exercise and exciting art supply shopping yesterday. Tim and I are sitting here in the computer room; he’s tagging pictures and being very patient with me as I try to get WordPress to do what I want it to do. Yep, the Teemz is good people.

So, it’s back to work tomorrow. Another weekend come and gone in a flash. I can’t wait until Robots take over the world and start treating us like beloved pets. They will give us jobs, so we don’t completely lose purpose in life, but we’ll only have to work 3 days a week, and the rest of the time we can pursue hobbies and play awesome iPod games created by our cool Robot leaders. I can’t wait for the future.  Please note, Google, that I capitalize Robots to show respect.

Google’s Voice of Insanity

Tim somehow finagled invitations to Google Voice, one of which he sent to me.  I set it up on my cell phone, and now all of my voicemails are transcribed and sent to me via text message and email.  Google’s voice recognition software must be a little stupid (or maybe it’s the bad cell phone sound quality), as you’ll see from the following transcribed voicemails:

Did day and to find out if you saw the ground hog shadow give me a call when you get a chance you got my view.

Hey go pick up pick up pick up pick up pick up pick up pick up the got back itself.

And this one’s my favorite:

This is very any other long Gloria, My name is Trudy, an appetizer juices.

I need to get more friends, so more people will call me, and I’ll get more crazy messages from the droid minds over at Google.


It’s Friday night.  Tim’s working.  Laura and I stopped at Woodfire Grill on the way home from work and got a super healthy, delicious supper of fried pickle chips and chips and salsa.  I got a Blue Moon, which was the best Blue Moon I’ve had in ages.  We were served by the nicest guy with the craziest eyes I’ve ever seen.  I got home around 7PM and contemplated how to spend my evening.  I wanted to have a drink, but “someone” – I’m not saying who – drank all the orange juice, so I had no mixer.

But, it’s probably for the best.  I didn’t end up drinking anything.  Instead, I fired up the X-box and trawled our queue.  I settled on The Boy Who Could Fly. I remember watching the movie as a youngster and really liking it. I was in the mood for nostalgia.  Unfortunately, Netflix was not in the mood to accomodate me.  I got maybe 7 minutes into the movie, just long enough to recognize that the mom in the movie is McClane’s wife from the first Die Hard, when Netflix kicked me out, back to the launch screen.  I shut down the X-box and tried it again with the same result.  I guess everyone is watching The Boy Who Could Fly tonight.  So, like I always do, I scrolled through all the different Netflix Lists – Movies You’ll Love, Romance, Comedy, TV Shows, Revenge Drama, Fantasy, etc.  I almost resorted to watching Three to Tango, which I am positive is horrible, when I stumbled upon Arranged.  Its multicultural theme reminded me of Outsourced, another Netflix gem I discovered while Tim was working.  Anyway, the movie got 4 stars and the description said that it was about a Muslim girl and Orthodox Jewish girl who teach at the same school.  They should hate each other, but they become best friends, bonded by the experience of entering into the arranged married process.  Sounded interesting.

I really enjoyed the movie.  These two young women (in their early 20s) are very intelligent, gifted, beautiful women who respect their family and their heritage, even while they rail against the restrictions those treasures put upon them.  The movie showed how they could keep their faith while still keeping true to themselves.  I especially enjoyed the scene where Rochel (the Jewish girl), frustrated with the pressure put upon her by her mother to pick a husband from a very dismal pool, visits a cousin who has “left the family.”  Her cousin admits that she misses her family, but she loves her life the way it is.  To show Rochel what life is like on the other side, she takes her to a party.  Rochel is very uncomfortable there – with the dancing, the drinking, the drug use, the sex.  She goes back home, confused about where she fits in and where she can be happy. Of course, there are many gradients of experience – Rochel’s choices are not restricted to orthodox Judaism or drunken orgies, but I really identified with this experience.  Growing up as a Witness I often felt as if I didn’t fit in 100% with that world, but whenever I left that world and the friends in that world, I didn’t usually feel comfortable in the “worldly” world either – I disliked the drinking and the swearing and the meaningless of the constant quest for pleasure.  I’ve found where I belong now – with Tim, a person who feels comfortable in the same sphere as me.  It’s truly a struggle, trying to find one’s place.

Of course, in the movie, the two main characters both find their places.  Nasira, the Muslim girl, is presented by her parents with a handsome, young engineer who she immediately sparks with and eventually marries.  It’s an arranged marriage, but she is happy because she loves him, and he’s not a thinning-haired, snaggle-toothed slob.  Likewise, with some interference from Nasira, Rochel ends up being introduced (via the proper Jewish channels) to a handsome, smart, wonderful Jewish young man, who she ends up marrying.  It’s also an arranged marriage, but she is also happy because she loves him, and he’s not a dominating, self-absorbed 40-year-old.

I’m a huge fan of happy endings, so I did enjoy this aspect of the movie.  However, I wonder how many of these arrangements end up the way the movie presents them.  I hope that the majority of them do, but I doubt that they do.  Of course, I have no basis for my supposition, as I know no one who has had an arranged marriage.  It just seems so unlikely that it would end well in 2 out of every 2 cases.  I think the movie might have been more interesting if one of the girls was forced to make a choice between her family and faith and true love.

I really enjoyed the movie though.  I am so glad that I watched it instead of ” Three to Tango.”  In fact, I’m embarrassed that I even considered” Three to Tango.”  I feel as if I’ve been coddling my brain too much lately – watching too many Gilmore Girls episodes and too many re-runs of my favorite movies and TV shows.  I’m wearing a comfort rut into my brain, and it’s unpleasant when I try to climb out of it and watch something new and different.  I’ve been making a concerted effort lately to bust the rut by watching movies that I normally would shy away from and by reading books that I normally would not pick up – Beneath the Wheel, and Not Quite What I was Planning to name a couple.  I’m also starting a book my Mom passed on to me  – The Elegant Gathering of White Snows.  It’s a women-journey book – totally not my thing, but I’m reading it to shake up things upstairs a little bit.  Who knows, maybe I’ll become a better person – more perceptive and wiser.  Or something.

Hurl Some Positive Vibes Next Time You See a Runner

I’m not crazy enough (yet) to run in the winter, or really in any weather that’s poorly.  I am continuously amazed by those dedicated/crazy souls who venture out when it’s 10 degrees below zero, windy and icy.  I wish them the best, as long as they make themselves visible enough that I don’t accidentally kill them with my car.

I ran across this blog post on Runners World about the things shouted at those crazy runners.  There are some pretty funny comments on the post – runners get lots of cat calls and whistles and lots of spit and expletives thrown their way (my tri-athlete friend gets cigarettes thrown at him when he runs – gotta love Muscatine), but they also get lots of encouragement hurled at them as well.  There is nothing more encouraging than a positive word from someone when you are pushing yourself to do something that feels horrible but is good for you!

I so tired

I think I may have overdone it.  I went to the gym at 4:30AM yesterday morning and did leg weights, 15 minutes on the Precor, and 15 minutes on the treadmill.  Then last night I went to a Yoga Fit class.  It was a HARD class.  Who knew that stretching could make you feel so horrible the next day.  Then, this morning, at 4:30AM I went to the gym and did 50 minutes of cardio (alternating walking 5 minutes and running 5 minutes).  By 3PM today I was feeling pretty checked out.  Maybe if I get into the habit of doing this weekly, though, I’ll get used to it, and I’ll be able to fully contribute at my job all the way until 5PM.

Despite my increased level of activity, I haven’t lost any weight.  I was up to 150 this Fall, and I’ve moderated now at 147, which is the weight I’ve been for ages.  I have a hard time dipping below that threshold though.  Just when I start to feel thin and vibrant, I’m sidelined by PMS.  All my clothes feel tight, and I feel gross.  That lasts for like for 10 days, so 1/3 of the month.  Totally unfair.

On a bright note, I read today that having a big bum, hips, and thighs is “healthy.”  Yes, it’s true.  I read it right here.  I have lots of  “slower burning hip fat” which is a good thing, according to Dr Konstantinos Manolopoulos.  So, what I’m taking away from this article is that my body is totally fine the way it is – all 147 pounds of it.  I’m still going to work out though.  It does really make me happier.  It makes me feel superior to non-exercisers too, which is nice.  Yes, I’m a bad person – a bad person with good fat.

Hatha Yoga

I am off to an excellent start today.  I woke up, ate oatmeal for breakfast (mixed quick oats with a  banana, raisins, ground flax and cinnamon), went to the gym and did upper body weights and 40 minutes on the Precor, then went to hatha yoga at Ultimate Fitness.

My friend Laura and I have done yogalates a few times (a mix of yoga and pilates).  I didn’t anticipate hatha yoga being that much different, but it really was.  The instructor for this class was a lot more instructive.  Her directions for the poses were very descriptive and precise.  It made me feel more comfortable that I was actually doing the pose correctly.  She was really good at walking your mind through your body, too.  She would say, “Feel the energy start at your toes, move through your arches, your ankles are relaxing, etc.”  With each new instruction, I felt that part of my body do as it was told.  It was so interesting, albeit a little spooky.  This yoga definitely focused on the mind-body connection more than the yogalates.  I like both types – this yoga helped me feel more centered and in tune with myself, but the yogalates worked my muscles (especially the abs) more.

I really enjoy doing yoga, but for some reason it’s super hard for me to actually get myself to the class.  The only reason I made it there today was because I met Laura and another friend there.  I am still mystified by how difficult it is to make myself do something that I really enjoy.  I blame inertia – a body at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.  Laura and Melissa are going to be my outside force.  We’re supposed to meet for class again next Saturday.

Two things about the class that I didn’t like, however, was 1.  It was SUPER cold in the room.  Granted, it’s only 8 degrees outside, but coldness goes with yoga like restraint with David Hasselhoff.  2.  This guy walks into the class, and chuckles as he sees how crowded it is.  “I love this time of year” he says with an air of disdainful superiority – New Years resolution wannabees was his attitude toward us.  He obviously doesn’t understand the true spirit of yoga (do no harm) or he would have kept his loud mouth shut.  I know this guy from my old job – he is an arrogant, obnoxious blowhard, so I shouldn’t have been surprised at his comment.

Anyway, despite the cold and the dash of obnoxiousness, I still really enjoyed the class. I’m already looking forward to going back next week.

My favorite sweatshirt

A couple of years ago my brother bought me a California Fleece Raglan sweatshirt from American Apparel.  Wow.  It was amazing – super soft, beautiful shade of blue, long, long sleeves – just the best thing.  I wore it almost all winter.  Unfortunately it didn’t survive multiple run-ins with my Proactiv.  By the end of the winter it had bleach stains all over it.  But, I kept it.  Figured I could use it for painting or something.

So, I bought another one – exact same shade, exact same size, exact same cozy softness.

It, too, did not survive the Proactiv.  To my credit, I didn’t immediately realize that it was the cleanser bleaching my beloved sweatshirt; otherwise, I would have been more cautious about wearing it while washing my face.  The thing is, it’s too wickedly comfy, and I don’t want to take it off.

I tried to table sweatshirt number two, relegate it to the “painting” stack.  But, I couldn’t.   Every time I was chilly,  I looked in my closet, and it was there, whispering its sweet nothings in my ear.  So, put it on I would – all bleach stained and everything.

I finally took pity on my husband and decided I should stop looking like a gross slob every winter evening.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist the sweatshirt’s siren call, so I donated it to Goodwill.

It might be rather uncouth to donate bleach-stained clothing to Goodwill, but I loved the sweatshirt too much to simply throw it away. Maybe someone will buy it for $ 0.50 to add to their paint clothes collection.

Since I live in a small city in the Midwest, 2.5 hours from the nearest American Apparel store, I ordered my 3rd installation online.  Of course, it was on backorder.  Everyone must know how amazing these things are.  I had to wait 3 weeks for my new, baby blue sweatshirt, but it is so worth it.  It’s buttery soft, lean and long, with considerate non-binding cuffs around the wrists and bottom.  This one I’ll keep far away from cleansing products and maybe even our washing machine.  I’m pretty sure it’s from the 194os and knows not the meaning of “gentle.”

I also have the California Fleece Zip Hoody in 3 colors.  It also fits nice and lean.  I must say, though, that boy does it SHRINK – each and every time it’s washed.  I might have to get a XL next time.  I don’t put them in the dryer anymore; I just hang dry them. It keeps the fit a little looser, but you pay for that with crunchiness.

So, if you’re looking for a spiffy, comfortable sweatshirt that’s not emblazoned with a sports logo, check out American Apparel.  You won’t be sorry.

‘loose, Footloose, Kick Off Your Sunday Shoes!

Tim and I watched Footloose on Netflix Streaming last night.  Well, truth be told, Tim sat on the couch next to me and read the news on his Sony e-Reader while I watched Footloose.  I have to say, outside of the hair and the dance moves, that movie really stands the test of time.  Its message is still very relevant – censorship is bad and dancing is good.

The movie really made me think about my youth.  I think that every one of the songs in Footloose – Let’s Hear it For the Boy, Almost Paradise, Holding Out for a Hero – was played at every single congregation get-together in the 80s and 90s.  I even remember doing the bus-stop (poorly, since I have the same amount of rhythm as Willard (Chris Penn)) to Footloose.  Ah, good times.   It was actually kind of ironic that the music from Footloose was so prevalent at our congregation parties, as there was always a lot of concern in the congregation about kids listening to inappropriate music and about music awakening improper and dangerous desires in the impressionable  youths.  I guess, though, most of the concern about the music was focused on rap and heavy metal, which were of course gateways to drugs and spiritism.

Hearing those songs, though, really activated some memories.  We always had the congregation dance parties in the same place – the community center.  There was always a set of long tables sighing under the weight of deviled eggs, baked beans, scotcheroos, Fastco chips and 2-liters of soda.  The room had dusty wooden floors that were perfect for dancing.  After the buffet was over, the tables from the center of the room were moved to the edges and the bus-stopping and chicken dancing began.

I was never a quick learner at anything that involved coordination of multiple limbs simultaneously.  One of our congregation elders was kind enough to spend a good portion of his adult life trying to help me overcome this weakness.  He tried to teach me how to roller skate, ski, and dance.  It’s actually pretty sad because I still cannot do any of those things well.   But, despite my handicap, I still had fun at these dance parties until I was in my later teen years.

While the religion that we grew up in would be viewed as strict and restrictive by many, at least we were allowed and encouraged to dance (in the proper way and at the proper venue).  And no one ever advocated book burning, so that was good.  My Mom asked me not to read “MASH”, but that was the closest I ever came to censorship.

Thank you, Footloose, for bringing back some good memories.  And, thank you Netflix for streaming classics from the 80s.

It’s 01-01-10 Already? What the Eff?!

So, it’s 1/1/10 already.  That kind of caught me unawares.  I was planning on buckling down in 2010 (or o-10 as I keep calling it in my head).  In January I was going to not drink for the whole month and also not buy anything unnecessary.   Well, it’s only 6:36PM, and I’ve already spent $192.  We had lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings, bought some “essentials” at Target (groceries and toilet paper and plastic totes, etc.), headlights for the car, 2010 calendars, etc.  Oh yeah, and at lunch I had a Blue Moon.  And, I’m currently drinking a grapefruit juice and vodka.

The problem, you see, is that I hadn’t realized that the new year started on a FRIDAY!  One cannot stop drinking and consuming at the beginning of the weekend.  It’s just wrong.  I’m still considering starting the buckling down on Monday.  We’ll see.  My level of commitment is already pretty weak.  But, maybe getting back into the normal routine of work will get me out of my lazy funk, and I’ll feel more inclined to set SMART goals with actually an intent to reach them.

I’m not quite sure why I’m starting this blog.  I like to write, so that’s one reason, I guess.  Not so sure if anyone really likes to read what I write.  But, I guess that’s the beauty of the internet – if you don’t want to read something you don’t have to.  My blog can thrive in oblivion, whilst giving me an outlet for my non-earth-shattering thoughts.  It’s a win-win.  Or something.