Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

Last week I randomly came across the trailer for the film The Fault in Our Stars. It's based on a book, which I remembered having seen on a display at the book store, so I knew it was fairly well known. However I didn't know anyone who had read it. The trailer made me want to read the book. I went to Barnes and Noble the next day and bought it.

And then I read it in less than a week.

It's the story of two teens who meet at a cancer support group and become friends. The book really is lovely and beautiful. How can it not be when the main characters are named Hazel Grace and Augustus and they go on a quest to meet a reclusive author who lives in Amsterdam? You'd think the book would be sad because it's about kids who have cancer. But it's not sad, and it's not "about kids who have cancer." It's about two people relating to each other and they just happen to have cancer. Read it, you will not be disappointed. I'll lend you my copy.

How We See Ourselves

I got a letter in the mail today from a friend. I love that I have friends that send me cards in the mail. I also love that I have friends that point out my good qualities. Lots of times we get bogged down in our bad qualities because we live with them and see them everyday (at least I do). Friends see our faults, too, but choose to not focus on them. I know that with my friends I am always thinking about the positive things I see in them, because I love them and want them to know that they're awesome. I just think it's nice to be reminded that it works the other way, too.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Love In the Mail

I received some pretty fabulous Valentine's cards in the mail. Obviously we should always tell the people we love that we love them. But that's hard for some people, so I think it's nice that we have a day where we it's expected to show your love. My mom and sister both sent me amazing cards that said everything they wanted to. I know that my mom and sister love me, but it's nice to get a card that says that. I'm super sentimental so cards and such always mean a lot to me. My brother sent me photos of my niece and nephews and it just made my day. My friend Jess made me a very cute card.

Valentine's isn't just for lovers.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

One Year in Kansas

I've been in Topeka, Kansas for an entire year. This still seems slightly strange to me. I've said it before and I'll say it again--never, in a million years, did I think I'd be living in Topeka, Kansas. But I'm here, and I've made the most of it.

The year has seen a lot of things happen. Slowly but surely I get more comfortable in my job. I know the Bikeways Master Plan and can actually talk with people about it. I presented at Board Meetings and a conference and held public meetings. I was interviewed for the newspaper and the news channel (making the front page of the paper on my bike). I discovered there was a lot I didn't learn in school. I went to Portland for a bicycle design workshop.

I got a cat and she is awesome. Fat and awesome.

I went to Royals games and a BYU basketball game. I went to a Matchbox Twenty concert. I went to Lawrence (a lot) to hang with friends. I ate out and went to movies and met new people. I bought a new car when mine got totaled while it was parked in front of my building. I did two 5ks with my friend Amber. I hosted my ward's Halloween and Christmas parties. I had my own Book Club get together at my place. I dated.

I even found time to travel to Salt Lake and to Denver and to Vegas. I walked in graduation.

It's been a pretty great year, full of ups and downs and awesome moments and learning moments. And I know I'm right where I need to be. For now.

The Princess Bride

There is nothing better than experiencing a favorite movie from years ago, that you've only ever seen on an old VHS or DVD, on the big screen. Last night some friends and I experienced The Princess Bride at Liberty Hall in Lawrence. It was slightly amazing. Mainly because everyone there was clearly a fan, and it was fun to hear people quote certain lines quietly to themselves (which I did, too), and to hear the theater laugh at parts I've never laughed at before. It was truly a fabulous night, made all the more fabulous because we had ice cream afterward.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I Belong in North Dakota

At least according to BuzzFeed and its "What State Do You Actually Belong In?" quiz. Here is my result:

 I actually think this is a pretty accurate reflection of me (however I don't see why North Dakota is the state that represents this). I've been told I come off cold and uninterested when people first meet me, and that I'm hard to read. But I really do love and care deeply.

BuzzFeed has all sorts of quizzes. Spend a an hour or so getting lost in them.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

More BBQ

Lunch at Lonnie Q's today with two friends. Lonnie Q's is a famous east Topeka BBQ joint that is only open for two hours during the lunch period, and two hours at night. Normally there are lines out the door; thankfully today was rather cold and we were able to get right in and get our food in no time.

The food was good, especially the cheesy potatoes served as the side. Lonnie is quite the presence, offering to get me a refill and asking if our food was okay. He let me try the turkey in case I wanted to try it next time. He even said yes when I asked to have our picture taken, because it was my first time and I'm not from Kansas. He's seriously a very cool dude.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow Day Productiveness

Topeka got pounded with snow all day yesterday. I think the official amount was 13 inches. There was so much snow that Topeka Metro and the City called today a Snow Day. What did I do with my free day? I slept in, worked out, did my taxes, made cookies, made granola, attempted to fix the un-painted spots on my wall (it did not go well; I think I made it worse), organized all the random pieces of paper in my desk, took out the trash, did the dishes, folded my laundry, cleaned off my car, watched Jeopardy!, addressed Valentine's cards to friends and family, painted my toenails, and, of course, called my mom to wish her a Happy Birthday.

I do not want to go to work tomorrow.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy 61st Birthday to my mom today! Last year, since she was turning 60 and I knew I was moving away, I threw her a party. This year I sent her a card.

Hope you have a great day, mom!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Annie and Tess

I recently finished reading two books that had two female leads that, while not necessarily similar, reflected similar aspects of being a woman that I found interesting. I always over-identify why anything I'm reading.

The first is Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith (who wrote the lovely and beautiful A Tree Grows in Brooklyn). This is a simple book about Carl and Annie, two crazy kids who decide to get married when they're 20 and 18, respectively, the summer before Carl starts his last year of law school at a college in the Midwest. What's really sweet about this story is that it's the love story that's generally not told--the one after the couple gets married. It really is just Carl and Annie dealing with their first year of marriage, getting pregnant, and wondering how they'll make everything work. There's nothing earth-shattering or exceptional in the novel, and I suppose that's what life is like in general. Right after they get married, Annie says, "But it was so quick! It takes longer to buy a hat than to get married. I don't feel married." This sums up exactly my thoughts on marriage. Annie is quite strong-willed and friendly to everyone. I just really love her. Carl is afraid that if his wife starts reading she'll start having thoughts of her own and then  not need him anymore. I suppose I can forgive this for the time period it's set in, and Carl actually realizes the lame-ness of thinking that.

The other I recently finished is Tess of the d'Urbervilles. This story is really quite tragic (it's written by Thomas Hardy so what do you expect). Tess, a pretty country girl, is forced to make a connection with her wealthy relatives. She unfortunately gets taken advantage of by her "cousin" and ends up with an illegitimate child who dies before he's one. She vows to never get married because she does not feel worthy of it. However, she is pursued by a gentleman at the dairy farm where she works and, against her better judgement, decides to accept his proposal of marriage. When she confesses to him, on their wedding night and after he's confessed to his own "sins", he decides she is not the person he fell in love with and leaves her. He goes off to Brazil and leaves Tess to fend for herself. She's so shamed to admit to anything, for fear she'll sully her husband's name, that she must endure many difficulties. It is really quite tragic to see how tied her life is to her husband's, and that she essentially has no path of her own. She's certainly capable of making her way through life, but she defends and defects to her husband so often that I just want to shake her. Obviously the late 1800s were a different time period than now, but I really just feel sad for Tess.

There were aspects to both Annie and Tess that I could relate to. Their stories are both happy, sad, tragic, beautiful, and incredible. I think that women and their roles and what is expected of them have come a long way and for that I'm glad.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Trivia Champs Again

Saturday was the library's quarterly trivia contest. You might remember that we won last time. We had the same core team from last time. So obviously we won again. Trophy number two for our shelf (we actually have them displayed at the Institute). Good thing the people on our team know random (but sometimes useful) information.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Chinese New Year

Friday night was Chinese New Year. We traveled to Independence to the church's Visitors' Center where they were having a night of celebrations. We learned how to sing "Love One Another" in Chinese, ate Chinese candy, learned how to make origami, failed at using chopsticks (at least I did), and made bookmarks with Chinese symbols/sayings. The missionaries there were very nice and helpful and put on a fun night. I sat next to some kids while doing origami, and as I helped them with the folds and difficulties of making a horse out of paper, I missed my nieces and nephews.

Happy 2014-Year of the Horse!


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