The Hunger Games--Movie Review


Yesterday I was finally able to see The Hunger Games. I read all three books at the beginning of last year and couldn't wait to experience the scenes I loved on the big screen. 

While it's still fresh in my mind, I wanted to share a few thoughts. These are in a bulleted list, because that seems to be the easiest way to go about it. 

I liked: 
  • The capitol was very close to what I pictured. The costumes and make-up were spectacular. 
  • The cast did well. Jennifer Lawrence (who played the lead, Katniss) was believable and fun to watch.
  • The violence was handled well and was realistic but not overly graphic.

I didn't like:

  • I felt like the movie lacked a clear explanation of the world and the characters. Having read the book before the movie, I was grateful to be able to fill in the blanks, but I can see how someone who hadn't read the books might get confused or feel left out.
  • I loved Gale in the books. Team Gale all the way! I was sad, then, when Gale wasn't presented in the same light in the movie. Some people have argued that Gale wasn't in the books very much, so how can I like him. To that I say, I don't know, but I do. He wasn't in the movie at all hardly, though, and the shots they did show him in (all three of them) were random. (The row full of twelve-year-old girls in front of me at the theater who kept "awww"ing whenever they showed Gale's face didn't help ease my annoyance one bit.)
  • My image of Haymitch from the book was much more of a fat, obnoxious drunkard. Though Woody Harrelson did a commendable acting job, the character in the movie wasn't done as I had imagined. He mostly seemed too helpful and level-headed.
  • There needed to be more set-up or explanation to Peeta and Katniss's love story. I knew from the books how confused Katniss was by Peeta and how unsure she felt about how much she was supposed to (or wanted to) act the part of a star-crossed lover. Though I can see how it would be hard to portray this kind of inner turmoil in a film, to me the whole thing felt random--and would have felt even more random if I hadn't read the book.
  • One of my biggest issues was that they needed to explicitly state how many tributes were left. This happened only once at the beginning, and it needed to happen more to help the audience understand how far along the games were.
So that's about all I can think of right now. My "didn't like" list is longer than my "like" list, obviously. Still, I don't mean to hate on The Hunger Games. Overall it was a good movie and one that I would watch again. This won't, however, go down as the best movie I've ever seen--and it's not one I'm going to rush out and buy on DVD. What I do want to do now is read the books again so I can dive into a suspenseful, first-person, present-tense account of the games from Katniss's point of view. That, and so I can swoon over Gale again. I might be in the minority over on Team Gale, but I know I'm not alone. 

My Grandpa's Tie (A Story of Confusion)


I have yet to go to a family gathering where something ridiculous doesn't happen. Whether it is planned (like taking a bat to my 12-year-old high school Spanish project) or unplanned (like the creation of Egg Roulette), when I'm with my family I know I'm going to end up laughing so hard my sides hurt. 

This weekend was no different. 

After my embarrassing emotional collapse on Friday afternoon, I gathered what was left of my dignity and headed with Jordan, my sister, and my parents to my cousin's wedding (my mom's cousin, to be exact). My maternal grandparents were visiting for the joyous event as well, fresh off a week-long trip to Israel. Papa, as we call my grandpa, was dressed to the nines in a suit with a white shirt and navy tie, complete with his signature diamond tie clasp. 

I love my grandpa. He's one of the sweetest men I know. But he's often confused, as most grandpas are. (Don't worry; I'm not making fun of him. Telling you about his confused face is necessary for the story.)

The wedding ceremony went off without a hitch, and afterwards we were shuffled off to the reception hall, where we sipped punch and eyed the cake and updated ESPN to keep up on the score of the Baylor/Xavier basketball game. At one point, Jordan came up to me and said, "What does your grandpa's tie say? It looks like it says something..." He paused and shook his head. "I don't know. Just look at it. BUT," he said as I turned away, "don't be obvious about it."

Me not be obvious? Please.

I immediately turned to hunt down my grandpa, who happened to be standing directly behind me. "Papa, does your tie say something?" I leaned closer, and I saw it. My grandpa just stared at me, gave me an oblivious smile, and moved on. I ran back to Jordan, clicking my high heels loudly across the tile floor. "You were right!"
"Do you think he knows?" Jordan asked.
"I don't know."

The bride and groom came in after that and cut the cake, and I soon forgot all about my grandpa's tie. Later, the crowd moved outside, and we all stood there holding bubble tubes and waiting for the happy couple. I was in the middle of trying to get a good bubble picture when I heard an uproar from behind me. 

Upon turning around, I saw at least six people--my parents, my aunt and uncle, a few cousins, and my grandma--huddled around my grandpa. I knew instantly that they'd seen the tie. 

"Dad!" my mom said, surprised written all over her face. 
My grandma was holding the tie two inches from her face. Once she realized what it read, she dropped it and said in a scandalized tone, "Duane! Where did you get that?"
"I don't know!" said my grandpa, shaking his head in disbelief between bursts of laughter. "I didn't buy it. Someone gave it to me!"

If you've stuck with me this long, it's no doubt only because you're hoping I will tell you what the tie said. And you would not be wrong. Here is a close-up of the offending clothing article. Read carefully.

How my seventy-five-year-old grandfather happened upon such a ridiculous tie will forever remain a mystery. But I bet my grandma will not feel comfortable letting him leave the house now without first checking to see if his clothing says anything questionable.

And that, my friends, is the story of my grandpa's tie. 

As a reward for reading all the way through, please enjoy this picture of bubbles. 

I look good in blue (7 questions)


Time for 7 questions!

First, as always, is a funny picture, just for kicks. This lovely photo was taken this past weekend, and I have no idea what's going on with my face (blue steel, perhaps?) or...umm...Jordan? Weirdo.

1. What is your favorite color to wear?

Red is my favorite color ever. Sadly, I can't wear red due to my complexion. I blame my mother for this. I do, however, know for a fact that I look good in greens and blues, so that's what I like to wear. (See: the above photo for evidence of how good I look in blue.)

2. You are given the choice between visiting every country and landing on the moon. Which would you choose?

I will never have the desire to go into space. If going into space meant the difference between life and death, I would choose death. I'm not kidding.

3. What is your favorite animal and why? 

Okay, don't send me angry hate mail or anything, but I'm not the biggest animal person. I don't hate animals, but they just don't really do it for me. I don't know. However, I do like going to the zoo and see the giraffes and zebras. I think it's the stripes. And puppies, of course. Who doesn't love puppies? 

4. You are forced to do one of the following, which would you choose? Sky dive, scuba dive, or this: (a large rope swing)

I went snorkeling once in Hawaii and started hyperventilating when I ran into an eel, so no to that. But I've already been sky diving and wouldn't mind going again. As for the huge rope swing... bring it on. (Just as long as it's not on the moon.)

5. You are given the chance to go back in time. Which era would you visit?

I really like toilets and running water, so I probably wouldn't want to go back too far. But if I could, I'd like to go back in time and stay for a while at Downton Abbey. 

6. If you had the power to remove one thing (ie: flies, mosquitos, junk food) from the earth for good, what would it be?

Remove junk food? What kind of question is this? No, it would most definitely be mosquitoes. They love me for some reason, and I know I'm more allergic to them than most people, because my bites swell up at least twice the size of a normal person's and itch like nothing else. I love summer, but I'm convinced that mosquitoes are Satan's minions.  

7. What is one thing you've learned from Pinterest that made you think "GENIUS"!

After finally getting a pinterest after much harassment from my coworkers, I haven't used it as much as I thought I would. So, sorry, but I don't have anything particularly exciting to contribute to this question. Fail. 

B&W Wednesday--A Reason to be Thankful


I took this picture a few days ago when Jordan and I were in Texas with my family, and it just reminded me again how thankful I am that my dad and husband (it's still weird to use that word) get along. I'm so close with my family that I knew I needed to marry someone who fit, and Jordan does so well. It's something I don't want to stop being thankful for. 

Black and White Wednesday

Excuse Me, Officer


Four years ago, my family left Illinois and moved to Texas. I went with them, since I'd just graduated from college and had nothing better to do. Three months later, I got a job and moved to Oklahoma. In the time since the Reese family moved south, in both Oklahoma and Texas we've all observed a notable difference in how people in Illinois drive versus everyone else.

I hold the correct opinion that I am an excellent driver and that everyone else is slow and incompetent. I regularly fly by cars on the highway when I'm only doing 5 miles over the speed limit. This is, in my opinion, unnecessary. But before you start thinking I'm some kind of crazy driver who's just never happened to get caught yet, you should know that during my decade of driving, I have never been directly involved in a negative driving event (unless you count accidentally rear-ending my friend in my church parking lot while driving at approximately 2 mph, which I don't) or a police encounter of any kind. 

Slow highway driving is not the only annoyance I've had to endure. In Illinois, stop signs are more of a suggestion than an actual rule. The act of actually completing a full stop will cause those behind you to honk their horns in frustration while giving you the gesture. In Oklahoma, stop signs are a bit more highly regarded, but I doubt there's any state that respects those red hexagons as much as Texas. There's actually a sign in my parents' neighborhood that says: Complete Stops Free. Rolling Stops $$

As a result of such threats, when I make the three-hour drive south to visit my parents I've had to put aside my frantic Illinois driving tendencies and perform a complete stop at all stop signs. This is especially true once I enter their town limits, where the small-town cops have nothing better to do but lie in wait for illegal rollers. 

On this particular Friday afternoon, Jordan and I were driving to Texas for my cousin's wedding that night. We'd had a late start and were already running behind. I finally turned off the highway, just five minutes from my parents' house. (Jordan was sitting in the passenger seat reading a book.) I pulled up to the first of four stop signs--a T at which I needed to turn left. I looked to my left and right; there was not a single person in sight. Then I put my foot on the brake, slowed down, and (I thought) stopped quickly before turning left. I made it halfway down the street before I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a black police cruiser with its lights on. 

"Crap!" I said. 
Jordan looked up from his book. "What?" 
"I'm getting pulled over!"
"Are you kidding?"

It became clear I was not kidding when an officer opened his door and started walking toward my car. Impatient due to the fact that we were running late, and frustrated because I wasn't completely sure what I'd done, I didn't wait for the cop to actually get to my door. Instead, I leaned my head out the window and shouted, "What did I do?"

At this, Jordan said, "Just wait!"
"But I want to know!" I said. He sighed.
By this time, the cop had reached my window. "You didn't stop at that stop sign," he said. 

"Well, I did." That was my brilliant response. 

"No," he continued while Jordan turned a bright shade of red and tried to hide his face in embarrassment. "You rolled through that stop sign." 

"Well, I didn't. I always stop at stop signs." I sighed. "This is really frustrating." 

He held out his hand. "Can I see your license?"

I signed again and handed it to him. "This is really frustrating," I repeated.

"Thank you, ma'am," he said and walked back to his car. 

I spent the next five minutes asking Jordan what on earth was taking so long. He just kept repeating, "I can't believe you were sassing that cop! What is wrong with you?" I assume he was wondering, for the umpteenth time, why on earth he ever proposed to me. 

By the time the cop began his walk back to my car, the realization that I was going to be handed a $200 ticket was sinking in. I had also been replaying the scene in my mind and knew--even if I didn't want to admit it--that I had rolled the stop sign and therefore deserved the ticket. Added to that was the fact that we'd now been sitting on the side of the road for 10 minutes, and we still needed to change for the wedding. Needless to say, I was on the verge of tears. 

"Well," said the cop, "I watched the video, and you did roll through the stop sign." 

The tears that had built up spilled down my cheeks, and I gave a small sob.

"But," he continued, giving me a kind smile, "that's neither here nor there. I'm just going to give you a warning this time."

At this news, I began an all-out wail, of which I am now greatly ashamed. 

"I'm sorry!" I said between sniffles as I angrily swiped at my cheeks. "It's just that I've never gotten pulled over before and...and, well I never thought I was going to be one of those girls." At this, he chuckled. "But, but I guess I am," I finished lamely. 

"It's okay," he said, handing me a pen and pointing to the line I needed to sign on the warning ticket. "I know being pulled over by a cop is nerve-wracking."

"It is!" I started wailing again. "But I'll never roll through a stop sign again. I promise." I signed my name while I sniffled and repeated this a few more times like an idiot as if I was worried he'd doubt my sincerity and decide to give me a ticket after all.

The cop tore off my copy of the ticket, handed it to me, and said, "Have a better day," before walking off. He waited for me to start moving before he pulled out behind me, and I had to endure three more stop signs with him directly behind me. I'm sure he was laughing to himself as I counted to fifteen at each stop and drove 5 under the whole way. I made it home without any further incident, unless you count me continuing to cry while Jordan told me how ridiculous I had just acted. 

"I would have given you a ticket for sure," he said, shaking his head. "I can't believe you sassed him and cried, and he still didn't give you a ticket." 

The worst part is, he's right; I should have gotten a ticket. I'm not proud of how I acted. Apparently I'm one of those girls who cries when they get pulled over; I'm apparently also of the type to talk back to the cop. I don't know why I only got off with a warning. Maybe it was the fact that I was from out of town or because I didn't have any hits on my record. Either way, I'm lucky to have gotten a free pass. And now I know firsthand just how serious Texas cops are about stop signs. Complete Stops Free. Rolling Stops $$. As in, a $200 ticket.

Don't mess with Texas, people. 

Sittin' on a porch swing (7 Questions)


It's 7 questions time yet again!

This is a chance for you to learn something new about me! Get excited.

First, here's a funny photo of me (just for kicks and completely unrelated to the questions)

This is not me, obviously. I don't have facial hair. This is Jordan. I am hiding behind him, and those are my arms. 

(You probably could have figured that out on your own. I don't know why I explained that.)

Moving on.

1. You're given the choice between a life with love and trials or loneliness and ease. Pick one.

Love will always come with trials, and I don't think loneliness is ever easy. So with that said, I'd choose love. Who wants to be lonely? Alone, sometimes yes. But lonely? Negative. 
 2. Would you rather live in Narnia, Hogwarts, Middle Earth, or Neverland?

Are we talking Middle Earth pre or post Sauron? Because that dude was scary. And not to be mean, but I'd rather not run around with tiny Hobbits. If I could be guaranteed the ability to fly, I would hit up Neverland. But then again, I could fly on a broomstick at Hogwarts...
Ah! This is too hard. I basically want to stay in a normal, non-fantastical world where I don't have to worry about winter and rings and you-know-whos and just read about that other stuff. Don't judge.

3. Think of your dream home... what style is it?

A ranch house with a porch swing where I can read all day long. And inside there are built-in bookshelves and a reading seat by a big window, where light streams in and everything is sunny. Oh, and the house has a large kitchen.

4. What's currently your favorite song or album?

Right now I'm obsessed with Lee Brice's "Woman Like You." But country music in general is my favorite.

5. Who was the last person you hugged?

Jordan is the only person I hug on a regular basis. I'm normally not a hugger. By that I mean I will avoid a hug if at all possible. My boss gave me an awkward side hug one time when I ran into him and his wife at ihop one Saturday morning. That was weird.

6. You have a ticket in your hand, where is it going to take you?

Honestly, right now the only tickets I'm thinking about are the ones I need to buy to fly to Chicago this summer. But if I could go anywhere, I'd fly to England. I've never been but always wanted to go.

7. Who is one blogger you KNOW you'd be BFFs with in real life?

This is a difficult and strange question. I don't really like to follow blogs of people I don't think I could be friends with in real life, but saying "everyone" seems like a cop-out. How about I tell you who I want to meet in real life:

Emily Anderson of The Anderson Crew. She has 6 children. Six! She's funny and creative and seems so, I don't know...together, I guess. Of course, I know she's just like anyone else, but is it weird to say I've had a dream about meeting her? Well, weird or not, I have. So that's that. 

Link up with Gentri Lee if you want to answer the questions too!

What is it with boys and pictures?

I've been annoying Jordan with pictures for almost three years now. Pictures of us at dinner, in our apartment, walking to the mailbox. You know, the exciting parts of life. But despite my attempt to get him to understand that I am obsessed with pictures and will always be this way, he still rolls his eyes and sighs and acts squirmy when I pull out my camera.

To his credit, he does usually let me take the picture, but it's only after I remind him that he loves me and that this is the only day in our lives that will ever be this day again. (This worked extremely well on our honeymoon; I just kept saying, "But this is the only honeymoon we'll ever have" in a dramatic voice, and he crumbled like a graham cracker.) So this whole time I've been assuming it's just him who's weird about the whole picture thing because he's shy and because I am loud and have embarrassed him many times in public.

My illusions were shattered this weekend when my brother Daniel was here visiting. We fed him and took him to a Thunder game and played games and in general showed him what a good time you can have in OKC. And--this being the first and possibly only time my brother will ever come to visit us--I busted out the camera for the purpose of solidifying these precious moments forever, never thinking that my own brother--who is not at all shy--would get squirmy. 

Still, though their initial reaction was a roll of the eyes, both Jordan and Daniel were good sports about it, and they eventually took the picture with minimal grumbling.

But...awkward much?

Note: this picture was taken after I gave them a fair amount of warning. This is the pose they chose to assume after hearing me say, "Okay, stand together and smile." They are neither standing together nor smiling in a non creepy way.

I glared at them and told them to regroup. What emerged is clearly not a great picture either--for Jordan, anyway. (He's going to kill me for saying that and also for posting this in the first place.)

Then at the game, I wanted my brother to take a picture of the three of us. He has the longest arms ever, so I figured this would be easy for him. Not so.

Daniel managed to cut his own face off while thoughtfully including a nice shot of Awkward Lady sitting a few seats down the row. I suppose technically she's not really that awkward in this picture (except for the fact that she looks kind of sad), but her husband was (awkward, that is, not sad), so that makes her awkward too. Awkward Man sat next to Jordan and kept shouting unintelligible things at the players. Normal shouting and cheering is encouraged at basketball games, but when you're sitting 10 rows from the top of the stadium, shouting an individual player's first name over and over just isn't necessary.

Anyway... in conclusion to my original question about boys and pictures, my findings are thus: boys neither like taking pictures nor being in them. Nor are they able to take a decent picture without coaching and/or a second attempt.

Being someone who loves pictures of all kinds, this is something I cannot fathom. If I'm honest with myself, however, I admit that I knew this about boys and pictures. And I suppose I should accept it, but I can't. The camera is here to stay, so the boys in my life better just get used to it.

(And yes, warning was given for this picture too.)

Black and White Wednesday

Polishing Your Prose, Part 3: 4 Recommended Writing Books


[Catch up on the entire "Polishing Your Prose" series HERE.]

Whether you're currently a writer or simply aspire to be one, it's important to always be working on your craft. A successful writer not only reads books within the genre in which he or she is writing but also reads nonfiction book on writing to further help think outside the box and "polish your prose," so to speak. So this month I'm taking a step back from practical tips and recommending 4 books you can use as solid resources for helping you write better.

(These are in no particular order.)

1. On Writing Well by William Zinsser

"You won't write well until you understand that writing is an evolving process, not a finished product." (84)

About the author: William Zinsser is a writer, editor, and teacher. On Writing Well is one of 18 books he's authored on the subject of writing. 

About the content: On Writing Well is largely considered to be one of the best nonfiction books there is. It was originally published in 1974 and has since sold over one million copies. Zinsser's conversational style is engaging and easy to follow, and he writes on a number of topics, starting with the simplicity of word choice all the way to why and how we should view nonfiction as literature. I borrowed many of his principles for my post on removing the flab, and I almost never go a day without using a Zinsser quote in one of my edits. This is an excellent resource that I believe no writer should be without. 

2. Stein on Writing by Sol Stein

"This is not a book of theory. It is a book of usable solutions--how to fix writing that is flawed, how to improve writing that is good, how to create interesting writing in the first place." (3)

About the author: Sol Stein is an editor who has edited for numerous best-selling and critically acclaimed writers. He's written nonfiction books on writing as well as screenplays, TV dramas, and nine novels. 

About the content: Like Zinsser, I use quotes and examples from Stein in many of my edits. He writes on plotting, suspense, characterization, dialogue, and flashbacks, just to name a few, and every chapter contains numerous examples of bad and good, breaking down each to show how to go about implementing these tips into your own writing. 

If I were to give critique to this book, it would be that Stein occasionally comes across as arrogant, using examples from his own work, his students', or clients'; he rarely, if ever, fails to remind readers that these are award-winning or in some way best-selling authors that he knows personally. It's mildly annoying, but the information is so solid that I am able (for the most part) to ignore his narcissistic comments. I am quick to recommend Stein on Writing to anyone who asks me for a writing book, simply because there is a wealth of information there that would be useful for a writer at any stage.

3. Make a Scene by Jordan Rosenfeld

"Many writers understand one element of a scene, but not how all the elements work together, inform each other, and create a narrative that is compelling and capable of maintaining a reader's attention." (1)

About the author: Jordan Rosenfeld is a contributing editor for Writer's Digest magazine as well as a freelance writer and author. Her articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in numerous publications.

About the content: Rosenfeld clearly does not have as impressive a resume as the other three authors on this list. But I wanted to include this book because I do feel it would be helpful for the beginning writer. By that I mean, I wouldn't recommend Make a Scene to someone who was already well versed in the language and structure of story arch and scene development, fearing they would find it too simplistic. Again, however, this book would be excellent for a beginner who wants the basics of creating a powerful scene. 

The chapters are all about scenes: launching a scene, ending a scene, dramatic scenes, action scenes, flashback scenes; even scene transitions are addressed. Rosenfeld includes bulleted lists within each chapter that she calls "muse points," which would be helpful when revising your own scene. 

My critiques for Rosenfeld--and caution to any reader--are twofold. First, the grammatical style she uses is inconsistent at times and confusing in others. The other concern is with the examples she uses from published novels, which are not always helpful or completely applicable. Still, her lists and writing tips are clear and concise and would be useful for a beginning writer.

4. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King

"You want your manuscript to be as strong as it can be before you have it worked on. After all, why pay for editing you can do yourself?" (Introduction to the Second Edition)

About the authors: Renni Browne left mainstream publishing in 1980 to found The Editorial Department, which is a national book-editing company. Dave King is a contributing editor at Writer's Digest. 

About the content: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers covers everything from show and tell to dialogue mechanics in a way that's easily accessible and engaging. They occasionally use examples from works they've personally edited, but it doesn't come across in the self-gratifying way of Stein. 

At the end of each chapter is a checklist of notable questions to ask yourself about your writing. These questions range in topic but are always well suited to the chapter in which they are found. At the end of each chapter is also a short section that contains exercises to get you thinking. Browne and King have included an appendix holding their answers to the exercises in case you get stumped. 

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers would be an excellent addition to any writer's library. This is not to say that having this book will allow you to skip the editing process completely. There is, after all, no substitute for a professional editor to offer an unbiased opinion and constructive critique. But this book offers practical advice and a clear path of action steps to follow to make your work as polished as it can be before you send it out to the world.

 Next month I'll be back with part 4, which will discuss dialogue. 

My Favorite Running Gear: Socks


I'm back to introduce you to TWO pairs of wonderful running/exercise socks. I used to have a big problem with blisters. It wasn't pretty. This was due in part to the fact that I needed new running shoes, but it was also partly because of my socks. 

For Christmas I received a bunch of useful running gear, but nothing that was more useful to me than a few pairs of socks I have since come to love. 

Sock #1: 

{Find here}
UPDATE 5/6/13: I recently ran my marathon in these socks, and I had no blisters. Not one. So, I basically try to wear these on every single run because they are amazing.

Sock #2: 

{Find at HERE}

Now, this isn't to say that Nike is the only sports outfitter that has quality running socks, but I'm just going off my personal experience. I've worn both these socks on long runs of 8+ miles and have had no blisters thus far.

UPDATE 4/29/12: I wore the above socks during my half marathon and had a blister explosion. So I think maybe 8 miles is the cutoff for blister prevention in these. Just sayin'.

2012 Reading Goal Announcement


My original goal was to read 15 books this year. Thanks in part to my recent decision to finally dive into the Harry Potter series, we're halfway through March and I've already read 10 books!

So I'm officially announcing my revised goal for 2012: 30 books

Ambitious? Perhaps. But that's what I'm about...Ambitiousity. 
Well, that and making up words. Be impressed. 

Also, I added a Goodreads tracker on the right side of my blog so you can easily stay updated on my reading goal. Click on the image to find me on Goodreads so we can compare books!

Patterns of Sleep (or, Ways I Annoy Jordan While Sleeping)


When I first considered the fact that I would soon be sleeping in the same bed as someone else, I wondered if I was an annoying sleeper. I honestly had no idea if I snored or flailed my arms about wildly or kicked my legs or threw my pillows or sleepwalked. I had only a few facts from which to assume that I did none of these things. 

  1. My throat usually wasn't sore in the morning, so I probably didn't snore.
  2. On family camping trips and friend sleepovers, no one had ever complained about me snoring. 
  3. My pillows were all on the bed in the morning, so I felt safe in thinking I didn't throw them.
  4. The sheets were, for the most part, straight and neat when I woke up, leaving me to assume that I didn't flail my arms about or kick my legs. 
  5. I'd never accidentally cut myself with a knife in the middle of the night, so I could only postulate that I had never sleepwalked to the kitchen to dice myself some fruit for a late-night snack.
Today, March 14, is ten months exactly of sleeping next to someone else (almost) every single night. During that time the proof has been consistently mounting against me, forcing me to arrive at the unfortunate conclusion that despite the evidence listed above, I am an annoying sleeper. An annoying, narcissistic sleeper, to be exact. One night I woke up, rolled over, and said, "It's hard work being me." (Dream me obviously knows what's up.)

I'm also a highly critical dreamer. A few months ago I had a dream--nightmare, really--that someone was chasing us. Jordan claims I woke him up in the middle of the night to say, "You're not very good at hiding." As I blamed him for Dream Amanda and Jordan's inability to escape their pursuer, he was quick to inform me that he was very good at hiding. Whatever that means. I have since wondered if that knowledge should make me suspicious or grateful.

Over the past 3ooish days, I have woken Jordan up in the middle of the night with all sorts of crazy words, shouts, and, perhaps most bothersome, actions. Specifically, flailing of arms and stealing of pillows.

Sometimes, I'm told, I sleep with one hand resting on my forehead, almost in a thinking pose. (I was going to take a picture of me fake sleeping while doing this pose and call it a "dramatic reenactment" like they do in cheesy TV commercials, but I realized that would be awkward and dumb, so you'll just have to imagine it for yourself.) I don't know why it bothers him so much; he says it's because when I move my arm around, it makes a noise that wakes him up. (It took about a day to realize he's an incredibly light sleeper.)

In the morning Jordan will turn to me and say, "You did it again last night."
"Did what?" I ask.
"Your crazy arm thing."
I, of course, never remember doing this, but he tells me that he tries to move my arm down because a) it looks uncomfortable and b) sometimes I hit him when I raise my arm and/or I make a rustling noise when I move it around. 

Two nights ago, he said that after a few failed attempts to take my hand off my forehead--during which time I repeatedly moved my arm back to its original position--he tried to literally pin my arm down underneath him so I'd stop waving it around.

Right after this happened, he said, I gave a snort and rolled completely onto his pillow, effectively pushing him almost off the bed and stealing his covers all in one motion. He poked me in the shoulder to wake me up, and I began laughing so hysterically he couldn't tell if I was laughing or crying. He got annoyed and told me to stop laughing, which made me laugh even harder. Then I got up, poured myself a drink of water, and walked calmly back to bed.

I did not immediately remember this scene upon waking and had to verify it all with Jordan, who confirmed that yes, I had tried to steal his pillow after he attempted to pin my arm down with his butt, and yes, I had become hysterical with a disconcerting combination laugh/cry.

A few times recently I've woken up complaining about a sore throat. To my regret, I've discovered that though I might not snore, I am a heavy breather. Jordan's demonstration of my loud night breathing is hilarious, though maybe that's only because I'm not awake at two o'clock in the morning to hear it.

These are just a few of the many examples I have for all the strange things I have said or done in the middle of the night since we got married ten months ago. I find no end to the comedy; Jordan doesn't find it quite so endearing, for obvious reasons. But the fact of the matter is that I am not the peaceful sleeper I thought I was. At first, this saddened me. But I've since come to embrace it.

I can't say whether I was always like this (because there's been no one to tell me otherwise) or if having a consistent bed buddy has brought the crazy night habits out of me. But it's ridiculous all the same, and since I'm sleeping, Jordan can't technically blame me for it. This fact alone makes it all the more hilarious. Maybe that makes me a horrible person, but if that's the case, I'm sure in time I'll come to embrace that too. Until then, I'll just keep unconsciously annoying Jordan while I'm sleeping. 

My Favorite Running Gear: Shorts


After receiving a few positive responses to my running playlist post, I decided to dedicate a series to highlighting the clothes and other accessories I have for running. I like knowing what other people recommend so that if I ever want to buy something myself, I can have a better idea of what I'm looking for.

Shorts are up first because when I started thinking about it, I realized I've had a hard time finding shorts I like. Some aren't tight enough around the waist and end up sliding up as I run, resulting in an awkwardly uncomfortable wedgie. 

I know this is a real thing because it happened to me while wearing these: 

Women's BCG athletic shorts. I think I paid $5 for them at an athletic outlet store. My conclusion: Good shorts for sleeping. Not good for running. I got half a block down the road and knew they were going to be trouble. 

Conversely, some shorts are too tight and dig painfully into my stomach. Which is why I don't wear these on long runs anymore unless all my other shorts are dirty: 

I suppose this is what I get for not returning this pair to my college soccer coach after our season ended. I was all like, "Oh, I'm just going to 'forget' to turn them in." And now I'm like, "Self, you're an idiot. And a thief."

Fortunately, I have found a solution to my short dilemma (no pun intended). As a famous blonde-haired girl would say, these shorts are not too tight, not too loose. They're just right.

Nike Dri-FIT Tempo Track Running Shorts (find them at HERE.) 

Price: $32.00
Drawstring waist. Inner pant liner.

They're the right length for me too: not too short that I feel like my butt is hanging out but not too long so I feel like I'm wearing basketball shorts. If you're looking for a solid pair of running/exercising shorts, you cannot go wrong with these. And while thirty-two dollars is more than I would normally want to spend on running shorts, these are worth it, especially if you catch them on sale. 

Do you have a pair of exercise shorts you love?

[Stay tuned for part 2 of the "my favorite running gear" series.]

I didn't go to preschool


I'm joining a blog linkup, because today I'm a procrastinator who complains about how much I have to do but chooses not to do anything about it.

The rules are thus:

A) Post a funny picture of yourself. 
B) Answer the 7 questions. 

So first, funny picture of me: 

I suppose this is funny less because of me specifically and more because of what happened to cause this picture. I was with a group of friends staying in a beach house on Hilton Head island, SC, and let's just say this dishwasher only needed ONE cap of soap. 

The importance of reading directions, people.

1. If you could only eat savory or sweet things for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?

Sweet. Specifically, vanilla cupcakes and mint chocolate chip ice cream. 
And fruit counts as sweet, right? I wouldn't mind eating strawberries forever. 

2. Would you rather live in the ocean (underwater), in the sky (on a cloud), or in space?

On a cloud for sure. I would never EVER want to live in space. Space is scary. It's dark and large and has black holes and exploding stars. No thank you.

3. Desert, Mountains, Plains, or Tropics?

I want to know who would say desert. Maybe dessert :) 
But seriously, moving to Oklahoma has made me appreciate the plains. Talk about gorgeous sunsets.

4. Would you rather live with chronic pain or the worst pain you can imagine for 24 hours?

I think the worst pain you can imagine for 24 hours would be much better than chronic pain. I'm pretty sure chronic neck pain for your entire life would be terrible. I also like to think I have a high pain tolerance, but I'd rather not test it out.

5. If you had to repeat one of these again, which would it be? Preschool, Elementary, Jr High/ Middle School, High School, College.

First, I didn't go to preschool. It's probably because I was way too smart for those fools. (Or because my parents just never thought about it.) Middle school was the worst thing ever to happen to me, and just thinking about going back to Monroe Middle School is making me want to start crying. (Not really, but seriously.) 

So, I have to go with college. I totally had boy friends (as in, friends that were boys) for the first time ever! It was great. I was able to become a new person and leave my lameness behind.

6. Tribal, Floral, Stripes, or Polka Dots?

Up until a few years ago I would never have said stripes. But I've recently become a fan, so I'll go with stripes for this one.

7. Are you right handed or left handed? 

 Left. And just because that might mean I will die sooner (from the oppression, of course), that doesn't mean I don't live a much more awesome life than right-handed people. Because I do.


On Marriage, part 2: Love & Respect Review


[Read part 1 HERE.]

When Jordan and I got married, we received two copies of a book by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs called Love & Respect. I decided the double copy was a sign that we should read this book during our first year of marriage. 

I'd never seen Jordan so excited about anything (note the sarcasm). 

Thankfully, I was eventually able to convince him that this would be a good idea, and we began our weekly reading. It took us just about 7 months to complete the entire book, reading one chapter per week every Sunday with a few scattered between where we forgot to read or were out of town.

I didn't do near as good a job writing down my favorite quotes and taking notes as I wanted to. Even so, I did want to write a post about the book itself and what I found helpful.

The basic love and respect theory is that when considering what men and women need from a relationship, for women, it's love; for men, it's respect. And this isn't necessarily just a marriage relationship. It could be a friendship, a sibling relationship, etc. 

Dr. Emerson talks about what he calls "the crazy cycle," which is basically when two people get into an argument that starts spinning out of control. You wonder why it got so heated so quickly. The answer is because either the woman was acting disrespectfully or the man unloving, so the woman's response was disrespectful or man's response unloving... Thus the cycle.

This isn't, of course, to say that women don't need respect or that men don't need love. But both sexes are, for the most part, wired toward one or the other and respond negatively when that desire isn't met. 

It was interesting for me to read this book through the lens of Jordan's and my new marriage, because we agreed that the stereotypical male/female relationship discussed in this book was us--almost exactly sometimes, which freaked me out a little bit. (Not everyone is going to fall into these categories so easily, however, which is likely a reason why not everyone likes this book.)

But Love and Respect forced me to look closely at how I respond to Jordan and what it is specifically about the things he says or does that makes me upset. I realized that many of the conflicts we have begin, at least on my side, with feeling unloved. 

For example, one thing the book talks about is how women generally want to share problems with their spouse but aren't necessarily looking for a way to solve the problem. There's actually a chapter titled "Understanding--Don't Try to 'Fix' Her; Just Listen." When I read that I was like, oh yes. 

It often happens that I want to tell Jordan about this or that issue, but when he tries to give me practical steps to take to solve the problem, I get annoyed and say something like, "No, what I really want you to do is just listen. I don't want an actual solution." 

To him, that sounds insane. He emphatically pointed to the place in the book where it said: "To 'just listen' is not his strong suit. He is better built to analyze, give answers, and 'fix' the situation." But it goes on to say that women need emotional release in the form of talking to "realize" their problems. Up until that point, I hadn't been able to get Jordan to understand this, and he hadn't been able to explain to me why he always tried to fix my problem instead of just listening to me. When he is able to sit quietly while I talk it out, it makes me feel loved. And the same is true for him in that I don't understand why he acts the way he does. I'll give you another example.

When an argument or disagreement starts to escalate, he completely shuts down. He goes into the other room, shuts the door, and wants to be left alone. This frustrates me to no end, and I end up following him around, demanding that he speak to me so we can resolve the issue. 

So when we got to the following part in the book, we wondered who had been spying on us: "During tense exchanges...he has little appetite to deal with it... In an attempt to calm himself down, the husband will stonewall--become quiet, say nothing, or go off by himself... The wife may see her husband's stonewalling as unloving, but he is simply trying to do the respectful thing." (60)

It was good for me to realize this, and since reading that, I've been trying to honor his request for a bit of silence. I like to talk things out, but it seems to work better when we can both take a step back and I can let him breathe for a minute. He, conversely, has been working on allowing me to discuss the issue so I can find resolution. 

Those are just two examples of practical advice we've gotten from this book, but there are many others. And not to bring up my mom in every single post I write, but seriously, people, this woman has good advice. She told me one time: "You have to remember that you're a team. If he does well, you do well. And if you do well, he does well."

Her point was that we should want each other to do well, and we need to help each other be the best person we can be. Hurting him by being disrespectful might feel nice in the moment, but it is really only hurting myself, which hurts our team. And just as an ending thought, I would be remiss if I did not mention the importance of viewing marriage through the lens of a relationship with Jesus. Here's a great quote from the book that made me pause:

"Whatever I do for my spouse, I do it to Christ as well." (279) 

I'd heard something similar before, but it's become even more real now that I'm living it. Marriage is more than just a union of two people who fell in love. It's also a tool used to flesh out our weaknesses while learning to rely on the One who brought us together in the first place. 

Of course, this book should be read with a grain of salt. Not every situation will fit any one relationship, and some of the "result" stories are, to put it simply, silly. It's repetitive at times, but I think reading it over a 7-month span helped separate the repetitive sections more than reading it in a week's time would. It's also a bit cheesy, as most Christian self-help, inspirational-type books are, but overall Jordan and I both enjoyed the book and found it to be a helpful start to understanding each other more and thinking carefully about how we respond to each other on a daily basis.