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european reading

With the upcoming trip to Europe, the natural thing for me to do is read absolutely everything I can. I'd become sick of travel guides, so, so sick of travel guides (you don't want to know how many I borrowed from the library) but needed to satiate my need to know more. The answer is books, of course (and the internet--but I'll spare you all of my odd search phrases today), thus began my nonfiction kick this past week.

Londoners (Craig Taylor), I found oddly depressing with none of the romance or joie de vivre I expected--at least not in the first fifty pages. I promptly stopped reading after that, deciding I wanted to keep my rose-colored glasses for my actual trip to the city. Paris My Sweet (Amy Thomas) was, as promised in the title, a light confection of a book---and I suspect I will be blaming my ten-pound weight gain on her since she recommends a ridiculous number of (very tempting) boulangeries and patiserries. Thank goodness I will have my cousin to share sweets (and order in flawless French) for me! Tout Sweet (Karen Wheeler) was a little too Bridget Jones for me---what is amusing in fiction is a little more awkward to read when it happens to someone in real life, but I appreciated the perspective of the fashionable Brit (as opposed to hardened New Yorker, the usual protagonist in the "I'm moving to France" type books).

The winner, surprisingly, was I'll Never Be French (Mark Greenside). I cannot count the number of times I laughed out loud during my evening read, startling my husband out of his tablet-watching (how that can make someone sleepy I have no idea, but he has headphones on so I can't complain--better than a tv in the bedroom anyway). I truly enjoyed this book--full of dry humor followed by unexpectedly poignant thoughts of people and life. Typically, these kinds of travel narratives are all "Oh, this truly opened me up to living!" (think Eat, Pray, Love or Bella Tuscany). I think Greenside went beyond that, reminding me to be nicer to people now (no need to travel!) and think about how our interactions with people can change us as opposed to a place inspiring that change (although there is a lot of that too).

So many more books to read--maybe I will go on a Peter Mayle bend next.

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49,640 is the number of words I currently have in my story. There. I'm saying it. I'm writing a book.

It's something I've informed a few people of since January, since I determined that 2014 will be the Year of the Book. I still get embarassed when I say it, still worry that I will fail--that I will never finish or, worse, that I will, and it will be absolutely atrocious.

But it is getting easier, if not entirely easy, to push aside these doubts and just wallow in the joy of writing. To sit in a chair, pry open the laptop, click on the file, and have sentences magically form underneath my fingers. I struggle to describe how it feels--a sentence wasn't there, and then it was. And then a paragraph. And then 49,640 words.

Sometimes, when my mind isn't preoccupied with stories, different ones every day, I wonder what fills other people's minds? How do they entertain themselves in line at the doctor's? How do they lull themselves to sleep at night?

Maybe I'll never be the published author that I've dreamed of becoming ever since I was a little girl, but I think it's about time I give it a fair shot. I'm old enough to understand that even failure in this regard will not stop me from being a writer.

Only (approximately) 20,360 to go.

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long weekend in washington

There were so many "best parts" about being reunited with my family that it's hard to decide which one really wins... There were the ear-piercing shrieks when I entered the living room (they did not expect me to make the 8+ hour plane and car trek to Washington from Tennessee), meeting my aunt's husband and kids for the first time (they've been married ten years, people), seeing my uncle and his wife after eight years, dancing with one and all (from an adorable two-year old to my even more adorable grandmother), laughing--both horrified and delighted--at seeing my husband pull his Gangnam Style moves all across the living room floor... The list is endless.

What happens when one is away from family for so long is a burgeoning appreciation--how wonderful it feels to bask in familial love, something that is easily taken for granted when readily available. These are the people who shaped me--my eating habits (dessert for breakfast, but of course! not one child was told to minimize their sugar intake, how refreshing), my sense of humor (belly laugh at something just slightly funny, not being able to finish one's joke because the giggles have already taken over), my weaknesses (over an hour spent in a single shop--my aunts and grandmother are retail Olympians). Many of my quirks, so different from my husband's, explained in a single weekend.

I can't wait till I am able to once again pull up a chair next to Michael, lean my elbows on the table, and listen to the multiple casual conversations swirling around me. Someone will tease Michael, and he'll dish it right back (one my very favorite things is how he just jumps in a family joke--even my grandmother commented on this), people will start laughing--even if they missed the punchline--simply because it's infectious, and I'll sigh as I lose my internal struggle and steal another slice of cake from the middle of the table. So simple, but such a joy.



Some people love Woody Allen films. Others hate them. And those are just the films, unfiltered by any opinions of the actual person. I'm in the "undecided" camp for both but have to say that I am very, very much looking forward to this next film. Cheeky romance set in the twenties with Colin Firth, who I've had a crush on ever since his Mr. Darcy days, and an adorable Emma Stone--what's not to love?


three years

It's three years of marriage today, and I think we've been doing good on those vows. After our Austin mini-adventure, I'm looking forward to cooking a meal together and uncorking a good bottle of wine.

Sometimes love can be remarkably, wonderfully simple.


a reminder

Three days after our anniversary mini-getaway to Austin, and I'm still basking in the afterglow of shared adventure. The trip was, in a nutshell, amazing. There were the big parts--the fancy dinners and craft cocktails from unique bars (Whisler's, above, is the most hauntingly beautiful place I've ever had the fortune to have an egg white concotion)--but, just as memorably, there were the small delights too--stumbling across two farmer's markets, trying kombucha for the first time, getting lost and finding the most adorable spots, staying out past two am like college kids, strolling around a park and holding hands. Just enjoying being.

I get that the point of a vacation is to slow down, recharge, see new things to revitalize you, but of course I can't help but want to recapture vacation-y feelings in my everyday life. This weekend was not only a reminder of what a gift it is to both give and receive love, secure in a partnership where we continue to grow together (we are both indelibly still, and yet worlds away from, the lovestruck college kids that we once were) but also of how I, how we, want to live--eyes always wide open with appreciation and wonder of all of the little things: the light striking a lake just so, the sun warming the skin, the deliciousness of a food truck treat, the delight in sharing any and all experiences.

Every day is a gift. Thank you, Austin, for reminding me of that.


carpe diem

I've discussed my love of planning in detail. So what happens when I get a call on Friday morning from my husband claiming that all we need to do is drive the three hours to Louisville, details taken care of because his uncle is going, and we'll experience our first Kentucky Derby?

I worry, I hem and haw, I think about all of the fun plans we'd made in town, and then I listen to the excitement in his voice and capitulate. Carpe diem, he says. Why not?

It was a whirlwind so unlike our usual trips. Toss things into a bag instead of making a list days before, follow someone else's itinerary. Completely out of character but also so much fun. There was no time to worry about whether or not I'd brought just the right things, only enough to go from one place to the next and take it all in.

And boy was it an experience. The people-watching, the horse betting, the lazing in the sun while nursing mint juleps... All I'd known of the Derby was from Nora Roberts' Irish Hearts series (the second book is one of my favorites), and while she did a lovely job, there really is nothing like taking in the real thing.

While the Derby itself was wonderful, what was even more so was being able to spend time with Michael's aunt and uncle, two of the nicest people you'll ever meet. They were so gracious about having us tag along, so easygoing and chatty. It was such a pleasure to get to know them better. How thankful I am to have married someone whose family invites us along on their adventures, and who makes me open to opportunities I would not have taken on my own.

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