Tag: romance

Friday 5: Favorite Love Songs

Hi guys!  I just wanted to share with you my latest Friday 5 video.  This week’s topic is favorite love songs and I have done 6 songs, so you get a bonus!  I wanted to share with my youtube audience my 2016 valentine, which I will post here on Valentines Day.  Consider this a sneak peak.

What do you think of my picks? and What are some of your favorite love songs?

I hope you guys have a great Valentines weekend and feel lots of love.

Nanowrimo Day 21: A Love Story Within a Love Story

nanowrimo2013

So how are all my Nanowrimo peeps doing?  I’m basically finished my story and I’ve wanted to post a section but honestly I don’t feel like any of it is that strong so I was hesitant to do so.  I’ve posted a few of them but it was my first time writing fiction and controlling the voices once they had switched places was very difficult.

I’m still mulling over and will do for some time.  I plan on using it as a concept and then writing more based on the idea and characters I created.  I’ve certainly learned a lot from creating an entire story.

One interesting thing about writing is you can start writing a character that is an aside and the longer you get in the story the bigger the character gets (and smaller in some cases).  Has anyone else seen this in your writing?  Well, I did.  I could end up writing a whole new book about a side character that I ended up bonding with.

The two main characters of my story are 2 women, Marnie and Becca, one is married, Becca, and the other, Marnie, is single.  I wanted to create a love interest for Marnie and as any rom-com will show you nothing is cuter than a single widower.  I don’t know if that is true in real life but ever since Sleepless in Seattle it’s pretty much a mainstay.

Finally, I ended up with a man named Josh.  He’s a single Dad who comes to the rescue of Becca who has kids the same age as his son Ben.  Eventually he gets to know both Marnie and Becca and becomes a friend to both and Santa does a little matchmaking!  At the end of the book he finally tells both girls about his late wife Mary, and their story together.

It kind of ended up being a love story within a love story and I enjoyed writing it.  It’s a tragic love story you might say but I don’t know if any love story is truly tragic.  Love gives hope and a complete human experience or at least so I am told.  I have yet to experience it myself.

There is also something inherently corny about romance.  You listen to anyone’s love story and it seems pretty cheesy but it’s also endearing and joyful, and a Christmas story definitely needs lots of joy!

So, Josh’s love story came together and I’ve decided to share it with you.  As a nanowrimo story it is very, very rough so please be nice.  I’m not sharing it for critique but more to keep you aware of what I’ve been working on.

Here it is

Josh and Mary’s Romance

“If you don’t mind my asking what happened with your wife” said Becca

“Yes, what happened? Can you talk about it?” said Marnie.  She started to talk but Josh was looking at Marnie while listening to her.  She started to tear up and that made Becca cry and Josh as he began to tell the story.

“Well, we met at a coffee shop.  It was about 2 blocks away from both of our jobs. She worked as a secretary for a big wig CEO downtown and I was in the mailroom at an office building- the one with the triangle top and like 20 floors.

It was quite the job making sure everything got where they needed to go.  Sometimes the basement where we would sort the mail would be so hot I would step out to get coffee just to have a break and cool down.

I know sounds funny cooling off getting coffee but that’s what I did. On the other side, Mary was constantly given chores and errands by her boss.  She’d get the dry cleaning, pick up her kids from school, even work at the soup kitchen for her boss and sometimes she ended up as hot and bothered as me at work.

Fortunately her boss sent her to get coffee often at the same time I was taking my breaks and I started to notice her.  She was pretty with black hair and blue eyes that sparkled like sapphires (I know that is cheesy but it is true) and a great smile.

Sometimes she would wear bright red lipstick and it would make her whole face pop out and I found myself thinking of those red lips all day long.

At the time she seemed way out of my league, like someone from a fairytale or the pretty girl in high school who only dated the captain of the football team”

“So how’d you get the courage to ask her out?” Marnie asked..  Just then I came into the room and Josh smiled as he saw me.

“That’s the funny thing is I never could quite do it.  I always worried that she would think I was so forward to ask a girl on a date he had just seen at the coffee shop.  Plus, she always seemed very busy so it was hard for me to catch a moment to talk and smooth into it.

  However, sometimes I would catch her looking at me and she’d smile and nod.  Finally one day she came up to me and said ‘what kind of coffee did you get?’ ‘tall low fat cappuccino with nutmeg and cinnamon.  I actually hate nutmeg and cinnamon but my boss likes it so that’s what I have to get’.

I said ‘why don’t you just get something else for yourself and something for your boss?’

She sighed and said that her boss was a real tool and if she didn’t taste the coffee first and make sure it was up to par there would be hell to pay.

I told her that I had worked at a place like that and it was the worst.  Then we bonded over our bad work stories.  Before you knew it we had talked for 20 minutes and her phone rang.  It was her boss and I could tell she was getting chewed out for taking so long.  ‘I’m sorry.  I will be right there’ she said into the phone.

You could see the weight off a job she hated on her shoulders.  It was like a black cloud had settled over the coffee shop.  I wanted to make things better for her but before I could offer help she looked at me with a sigh and said “hey would you like to go to dinner sometime.  I have a good feeling about you and would like to chat more with you”

“Sure” I said.  “I’d love that.  Tonight?’  I didn’t want to miss a moment to get to know this person and I’d sat enough times in a coffee shop to know that it was a once in a million girl.  It was my chance to make my life happen.

I know I never thought I would feel that way again but lately I’ve been allowing myself to have new experiences and have a window in my heart open for love again.  It’s hard because I don’t want to replace her because nobody will but I know she wants me to love.  She wants me to be happy.  She always did.”

Both Marnie and Becca can’t help but blush at his speech.  After all , he was talking about both of them but he kept looking at Marnie so I felt confident that the idea of having both of them in the room for the date was a good idea.

“So we went on our first date and then dated for a 2 months but too be honest we didn’t even need to wait that long.  We knew it was right.  There was no doubt.

I told my Dad that I wanted to ask her to marry me and he thought I was crazy but he said ‘if you know you know and you have to go for it.  We will certainly be behind you.  At the time I was a poor guy in the mailroom so I couldn’t afford much of a ring.

I was watching the home shopping network and they had some cubic zarchonia rings and I thought they looked pretty nice and I could pay for one, so I bought it and took her to the coffee shop where we had met.  She had the red lips that I loved so much.  At first I got really nervous because I knew she could say no and I couldn’t bear it.

When I got nervous she thought that I was going to break up with her.  She started to tear up and I thought she was breaking up with me and she said “just spit it out.  Just say it!”

I looked at her with surprise and wondered what she was talking about.  Figuring I had nothing else to loose I pulled the ring box out of my pocket and showed it to her.  ‘Mary, this is the place we met and I remember looking at you and your red lips and thinking I could never get a girl like you.

And then one day you talked to me and we vented about our crazy bosses and it was like you weren’t just the pretty girl but your heart was big and you were funny, everything I could have hoped for.” I told her ‘I love you and I will love you forever.  Will you marry me?’  To my surprise she started to cry and took out the ring.

“It’s not a real diamond.  I couldn’t afford it.  I am sorry.  I hope you are not disappointed” I said with hope in my heart that maybe these were tears of joy not ‘I’m going to break up with you tears’ then she smiled, smiled with her red lips and said ‘I couldn’t love it more if it was real diamonds because I love you and yes, I will marry you’.”

I’ve always thought that life was made up of moments, like a collage that we piece together with hopefully enough happiness to make it all worth it.  You don’t know how many times in the last few years I’ve thought of those happy moments and they have made it worthwhile.  I certainly would never take it back, even knowing the pain that would come.  Never”

“So, then you had Ben? Were you nervous about having a baby? How long had you been married?”

“We had been married 2 years and had almost finished our degrees.  Mary had 1 quarter left and found out she was pregnant.  We were so excited but she was determined to finish school out, pregnant or not.

I’ll never forget her crossing that graduation podium pregnant and glowing, for reason than one.  2 months later she went into labor and we had our beautiful baby boy.

She was the one who thought of the name Ben because she had loved the old Benji movies from the 80s with the loyal, kind dog.  After seeing what she went through I told her she could pick any name she wanted as long as it wasn’t something weird like Nature or Canyon.  Thank goodness she had more sense than that.”

“When Ben was about 6 months she took Ben in for his check-up.  Things had been hard but we were managing to stay afloat.  She was doing some tutoring and bookkeeping on the side and I was a marketing clerk at a prestigious graphic design firm downtown.

I knew that Mary had been feeling tired and a little pale lately but I saw all my other friends with babies and they seemed to be going through something similar.  I thought in a few months the worst of it would be over and we would be ok.”

“Then Mary told the doctor what she had been feeling and said that there was a pain in her abdomen that wouldn’t go away.  She was a tough cookie and hadn’t wanted to make a big deal of it but now that it had lasted months she was worried and asked him what he thought it was.  He sent her to a specialist to get some tests and turns out it was uterine cancer, stage 4, untreatable.

We had 6 months to a year to live and so we all the sudden had mere months to enjoy our baby and pile in all the memories we could, at least while her health remained strong enough to do anything.  We went bungie jumping and traveled to New York and saw a fashion show.

It was her dream but when we got home from the trip she went downhill fast and in a matter of 2 weeks she was gone.  When she was in the hospital she had her red lipstick on and she kissed Ben and left an imprint with lipstick on his bald head.  I have the picture here. “

Josh pulled out a photo from his suitcoat and it was a beautiful woman with red lipstick in a hospital gown. She was glowing and holding up her baby with big red lips on the top of his head.  It was priceless.

Kissing

disney-kisses

So dear readers here is a confession-  I have never been kissed.  I’ve never had a boyfriend.  Never been on a date with someone more than twice.  Yes, I’m 32 and a virgin in every sense of the words.  Sigh…

I’d like to say that the reason I am clean is because I have withstood temptation.  Alas I agree with John Bytheway when he asked his singles leaders ‘how do I get in a situation where I need to use these chastity talks?’  How indeed.

I don’t know why.  I think I’m pretty, interesting, creative and a lot of fun, but it just hasn’t happened.  I stopped feeling bad about it years ago and now only have momentary lapses of envy or regret (I’m human…)

I also really admire those that can wait to kiss until marriage.  I think it is a great gift you could give your spouse.  It is not required in my church but I like the concept nonetheless.  I’ve saved those tender moments for my spouse it would be nice if he had too.  Of course that is unlikely at 32 but I still think waiting to kiss each other until marriage is a nice concept and promise to each other.  Its an example that you can work through things together and be strong.  Keep a goal that is really hard.

Like I said, not required but I just think it is kind of nice when possible.

Anyway, I thought I would share with you the kissing scene I wrote for my last book.  Nanowrimo is coming soon and I have a married and single character so its going to be interesting.  I think its a pretty romantic yet clean scene.  Makes me laugh.  I’d be curious for your feedback

The Kiss

Oliver makes as if to leave but then notices my bookcase.  I’ve never met a guy that is interested in my books and I feel instantly excited.

“Have you read all of these?” he asks.

“Yes, every one.  Most of them in college.”  I tell him about Dr. Thomas, being a teaching assistant, how much I love philosophy and the way it makes you think.

“If you don’t mind my asking how did you end up writing checks and entering invoices” he asks.

“That’s the billion dollar question.  I guess I just took what was offered to me and I was fine with it while I was going through grad school but I couldn’t afford to be impractical then.”

“You’ve been to grad school” he says with a start.

“Yes, I did the work study program so I could keep my job and get my degree.  It was great. Even though it was an MBA and not philosophy I loved learning new things every day.  I know it makes me a super nerd but I really miss it.  I wish I could find an excuse to go back”.

“Have you thought of grad school?” I ask.

“Well, it’s crossed my mind but nothing has felt right so far” he says sort of awkwardly.  I figure he’s just tired.  It is after 2 now.  My Mother would definitely not like this scenario.  Oh well, for some reason I didn’t care.

“I wish I could find a school that excited me as much as just reading seems to do.  I hate describing what other people want me to say.  I want to read something and react the way I see it, not some scholar or professor.” He says with more than a hint of frustration.

“That’s true.  I always hated the teachers that spoon-fed me.  Dr.  Thomas was special because he let you speak your mind about anything we were reading.  There was one kid who would argue with him about Marxism for the entire class session and at the end Dr.  Thomas gave him a pat on the back and said ‘it takes a lot of guts to spar against the teacher.  Great job’.  Jamie is a good teacher like that.  She lets her students grow and be creative. “

“She seems great” he says.  “Have you ever read Schopenhauer in your classes?”

“It’s been a while but yes a bit of a pessimist for my taste but interesting” I respond cramming my brain for anything I remember about Schopenhauer but secretly thrilled to be asked about him.

Seeing the excitement in my eyes he goes on “He believed that love was nature’s trick, used to convince us to be together when we’d rather be alone.  What do you think of that?”.

Blushing again. ‘I remember that.  He must have been a laugh riot to have around.  I heard once that he got refused by a huge crush and that made him so bitter.  That must have been some crush”

Oliver looks at me with a wink.  Maybe, I wonder to myself, I should take a hint from the bitter old philosopher and go to bed but I just can’t say goodbye.

Slightly changing the subject I get out my Lincoln biography and show him the inscription from Dr.  Thomas.

“Last time I saw him, Dr.  Thomas told me I was one of his favorites.  He couldn’t believe what I was doing for my career but was proud of me, but truth is I want nothing more than to live up to this person that he saw, a person who he admired for ‘sticking up for the marginalized and fighting injustices’.  That is my dream.  If only I could figure out how God wanted me to do it.  Then I could take that leap.”

I realize I’m rambling and Oliver is staring at me.  “I wish I had a tenth of your ambition.  Your goals.  You’ve got to do it.”

Now I’m feeling more than a little awkward, so I stand up and say “Well, I’ve got to go to the soup kitchen tomorrow (what a nice excuse for getting rid of a cute boy)”

Unfortunately I don’t seem to have dissuaded him much and he is coming towards me.  Before I know it his arms are around me and he is kissing me.  I Rachel Marshall am being kissed by a handsome curly haired man who quotes philosophy!  I try to kiss him back but honestly I’m kind of new at this thing so I follow his lead.  It feels great.  My whole body tingles and is alive.  Who can go to sleep with such excitement?  His lips feel soft and I hope he notices my vanilla scented hair.  Before I know it his hands feel my waist and the sensation is like a jolt up my spine.

Suddenly I am flooded with all of those lessons at church about pureness and chastity.  I guess it’s for moments like this that they drill it into us.

I pull away for a second but he kisses my cheek and I want to die.  Why didn’t anyone tell me how great this was?  Oh wait, everyone told me that.

My head is spinning.  I’d already gone way past the holy hours but I couldn’t ignore all those lectures about a ‘man who really loves you will wait’.

“Wait”  I say as I use all my will power.  “I’ve got to stop”  I realize this is a strange thing to say but how else do you say it?

“Sorry, I just got caught up in the moment” he says still holding on to my waist.

“No, thank you”. Who says thank you for being kissed?  What a dork.  “I’ve just got to go to bed and work at the CHURCH soup kitchen”  I say emphasizing church as clearly as I can.

“Right.”  He seems to get what I am saying.

“Well, I’ll see you Monday then”.  He reluctantly lets go and walks towards the door.  As he leaves I pull him towards me and give him a little kiss on the cheek.  “Thanks for coming over and saving the day with the whole fire and everything”.   Grabbing me he kisses me one more time more roughly than before but it’s the best one of all.

“Goodnight”. He closes the door and heads up the hill towards his car.

“Oh my gosh” I yell out loud.  “AHHH!” I scream and shout and then I realize it’s like 3 in the morning. Better keep it down.

Great Love

“To Be One With Each Other” by George Eliot

What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen
each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all sorrow,
to share with each other in all gladness,
to be one with each other in the
silent unspoken memories?

Lately I must admit that I’ve felt a little discouraged, ok maybe a lot discouraged. I’m 31 years old and have never been in love.  At this point I am beginning to wonder if it will happen.  I never date and when I do go out it doesn’t feel close to a match. Recently I’ve had my faith shaken that I can even read a person.  My trust that human beings are who they say they are has been shattered.

Now I have many people in my life who love me but aside from my parents I’ve never really experienced GREAT LOVE. I’m not talking about the love of fairy tales but the kind where a person wants my happiness more than their own. The kind of love where we start a life together and boldly face challenges.  I know it is not perfect but at least it should begin with excitement and sparkle. It’s someone who is loyal and honest, who isn’t afraid to go through the muddy patches of life by my side. Someone who will be my friend and will KNOW me, and I will KNOW them.

I don’t even know if I would recognize it at this point if I saw it.   The whole love thing honestly feels like Santa Claus in my life.  Something adults tell you is so wonderful but never seems to quite happen.

I don’t mean to be over-dramatic or sad but I really wonder- can you live a full, rich, textured life and never fall in love? Even if love ended poorly it seems I would have at least had a full life experience.

People say you should never marry your first love but at this point I will have little choice in the matter :). I know I have lots of flaws but I think if someone gave me a chance I would be a darn good partner.  I would be loyal, honest, hard working and a great friend.  If there is anything I value in life it is being a great friend.

It does make me ask the question- What’s wrong with me and why does everyone else seem to be able to figure this whole love thing out? And not only do most seem to figure out the love quandary many people do so repeatedly.  I have a friend who has been married 4 times.  How can you fall in love 4 times! I can’t figure it out once.

I used to think it was just my weight that was keeping me from great love but now I’m an athlete and no difference.

I know that God has His own time table for me but I had never dealt with the possibility that He might not have it in the cards for me to experience great love. While I can never lose faith, I do have to acknowledge that it may not be part of my plan.  He knows why but it may not be for me in this life.

And please don’t tell me to try online dating or regale me with stories of how hard marriage is.  I get all of that (and done the online dating many times.  I still have a profile but it is not for me).  I just want to experience great love.  Doesn’t everyone? That’s all I’m saying but I don’t know if I ever will. Sigh…

Anyway, back to the original question- can you lead a full and rich life and never fall in love?  I’m not just asking this to engender pity or sympathy I really want to know can a life be considered fully lived without such an essential life experience?  If you listened to music from any era or read literature or poetry the answer would clearly be no. But what do you think?

I don’t really expect a response on this one but feel free.  I’m just sending it out there as a way to process my life.  There it is my internet friend.  The great question of my life…

great love…I need a miracle!

Nora Ephron

I am woefully late on my tribute of Nora Ephron, one of my favorite modern authors.  While she wasn’t really  a novelist her scripts and essays had a way of commenting on life in a funny and charming way.   Some people might claim her to be a soft writer, overly nostalgic and romantic but to me this is part of her charm.  She gave us something familiar, something to smile at and taught us a lesson along the way. She passed away from leukemia on June 26th. My condolences go out to her family and friends.  I loved her work.

For example, in You’ve Got Mail she taught us the different ways human beings absorb conflict:

One character, Joe Fox says,

“Have you ever become the worst version of yourself. That a pandora’s box of all the hateful things, your spite, your arrogance, your condescension has sprung open? Someone upsets you and instead of smiling and walking away… you zing them.”

While Kathleen Kelly says,

“No, I know what you mean, and I’m completely jealous. What happens to me when I’m provoked is that I get tongue-tied and my mind goes blank. Then, then I spend all night tossing and turning trying to figure out what I should have said. What should I have said, for example, to a bottom dweller who recently belittled my existence?”

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve related to both sentiments.  I’ve even said the lines over in my head while making an expression choice.

Another favorite from You’ve Got Mail that I have to share:

“Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life – well, valuable, but small – and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven’t been brave? So much of what I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t really want an answer. I just want to send this cosmic question out into the void. So good night, dear void.”

And one more I’ve turned to again and again:

“People are always saying that change is a good thing. But all they’re really saying is that something you didn’t want to happen at all… has happened.”

I like when Roger Ebert said “Ephron’s dialogue represents the way people would like to be able to talk. It’s witty and epigrammatic, and there are lots of lines to quote when you’re telling friends about the movie”.  That is so true.  I wish I could pontificate charmingly about books, romance, New York City etc. Perhaps Ephron sets the standard too high but isn’t that the job of writers to elevate the language of the masses?

Not all of Ephron’s dialogue was witty.  In fact, her description of grief in Sleepless in Seattle is one of the most touching passages I have ever read:

“Well, I’m gonna get out of bed every morning… breathe in and out all day long. Then, after a while I won’t have to remind myself to get out of bed every morning and breathe in and out… and, then after a while, I won’t have to think about how I had it great and perfect for a while”

He then goes on to describe an ideal love:

“Well, it was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together… and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home… only to no home I’d ever known… I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like… magic. ”

Who doesn’t yearn for such a relationship?  Perhaps it is unrealistic but that is the type of fantasy I enjoy. More than swords or mystical lands, a fantastical view of life and romance.

When Harry Met Sally is another favorite and most of the memorable  stretches of dialogue are too long to repeat here but they are just divine. Watch it again and you’ll remember how great the conversation is. Some  feel such pithy dialogue is inauthentic but I totally bought the characters.  Sure maybe nobody really talks like that but I don’t go to the movies for realism (or total fantasy for that matter).  I go to the movies for heightened or at least exaggerated realism.

WHMS is probably Ephron’s funniest script, helped greatly I’m sure by a great deal of ad-libbing by Billy Crystal.  Of course, there is the famous scene in the diner with the classic line ‘I’ll have what she’s having’ and the long introductory debate over the plausibility of male/female friendship, but my favorite line probably goes unnoticed by many but it makes me laugh every time I hear it:

Sally: No, no, no, I drove him away. AND, I’m gonna be forty.
Harry: When?
Sally: Someday.
Harry: In eight years.
Sally: But it’s there. It’s just sitting there, like some big dead end. And it’s not the same for men. Charlie Chaplin had kids when he was 73.

It is just sitting there like a big dead end  but at least with this line Ephron made me laugh about it!

I could spend this whole post listing quote after quote.  There are so many great movies.  I love what she did with Julie and Julia turning the insufferable book into a charming story by adding the life of Julia Child.  In that movie she  adapts from the wonderful memoir My Life in France by Julia Child, the most touching depiction of marriage I have seen in a movie:

Paul Child: You are the butter to my bread, you are the breath to my life.

How beautiful is that? It’s perfect.

Paul Child is the ideal marriage partner because he sacrificed his whole life to make Julia’s dreams come true.  An artist himself, he was satisfied to work as a bureaucrat for years so that she could publish her book.  I love this speech in the movie:

“I’m not kidding you; I’m not. Someone is going to publish your book. Someone is going to read your book, and realize what you’ve done. Because YOUR BOOK is amazing. YOUR BOOK is a work of genius. YOUR BOOK is going to change the world. ”

I wish I had someone in my life who believed in me that way.  What a beautiful portrayal captured by Ephron of a beautiful marriage.

In addition to screenplays Nora Eprhon is a fabulous essayist. My favorite is her book I Feel Bad About My Neck. I bought it years ago at an airport bookstore and loved it.  Nearly every essay rings true and is funny without being over-the-top.

“Maintenance is what you have to do just so you can walk out the door knowing that if you go to the market and bump into a guy who once rejected you, you won’t have to hide behind a stack of canned food…I dont mean to be too literal about this but the point is that I still think about them every time I’m tempted to leave the house without eyeliner”

But my favorite essay by far is on parenting.  I don’t have any kids but I still think it is brilliant:

“Back in the day when there were merely parents as opposed to people who were engaged in parenting, being a parents was fairly straightforward.  You didn’t need a book…You understood that your child had a personality. His very own personality.  He was born with it.  For a certain period this child would live with you and your personality and you would do your best to survive each other.”

She goes on:

…One day there was this thing called parenting.  Parenting was serious.  Parenting was fierce.  Parenting was solemn.  Parenting was a participle, like going and doing and crusading and worrying; it was active, it was energetic.  It was unrelenting.  Parenting meant playing Mozart cds while you were pregnant, doing without the epidural…Parenting began with the assumption that your baby was a lump of clay that could be molded into a perfect person who would be admitted into the college of your choice…

and concludes with this profound thought

“Meanwhile every so often, your children come to visit.  They are, amazingly, completely charming people.  You can’t believe you’re lucky enough to know them.  They make you laugh.  They make you proud.  You love them madly.  They survived you.  You survived them.  It crosses your mind that on some level you spent hours and days and months and years without laying a glove on them, but don’t dwell.  There’ s no point.  It’s over.  Except for the worrying.  The worrying is forever”

I’m not even a parent but I found this to be the most touching description of parental emotion I’ve ever read.  I think it is perfect.

Well, that’s a lot of writing but what better way is there to pay tribute to a favorite author.  I’m sincerely going to miss her voice and the way she made me smile.  Thanks Nora!

6 Best Summer Movies

As the readers of this blog know I am a huge movie buff year-round.  Unfortunately sometimes I grow weary of the blockbuster movies that are usually popular in the summer.  For some reason I don’t usually like super hero movies.  I’ve always prefered characters that I can relate to, even in a complete fantasy.  For instance, Harry Potter may be in a complete fantasy world but his character and skill-set are mostly things I can relate to.   The Incredibles is one of the few super hero movies I like because it moves super heroes into a real world setting and it makes me laugh.  Most super hero movies are very show-offy and just for the fluffy special effects.

Christy Lemire, an AP movie critic I follow, recently posted a list of her top 5 summer movies.  I have to admit I’ve only seen 1 of the movies she lists but I thought the idea was a fun one, especially for me given my usual distaste for summer movies.  I had to make a list of 6 because I just couldn’t leave one off.  So here goes:

1. Up- Up is one of my favorite movies. It is the story of an elderly man that fulfills his dream to go to Paradise Falls (a promise he made to his beloved wife) by flying his house to South America.  It is a sweet, funny, endearing movie that never fails to move and inspire me.  Just the first 5 minutes are more moving than 90% of the current romantic movies made.

The reason why I think it qualifies as a summer movie is its focus on travel (I actually saw it in Hawaii and then loved it so much to see it 2 more times in the theater when I got home.).  The spirit of adventure and freedom also feels very summery.  I think without a ‘summer vacation’ you lose a little of that sensation as an adult and a movie like Up reminds you to be a little more bold.

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/pixar/

2. When Harry Met Sally- I love Norah Ephron’s writing, whether in book or movie form I think she is hilarious. Hidden in the romantic banter is nuggets of wisdom and insight.  I could easily pick You’ve Got Mail as that is a favorite of mine but I went with WHMS because it begins with a road trip with lots of conversation. To me that is an ultimate summer experience.  I must admit that usually such trips are ripe with peril for me but the idea of hitting the road and enjoying the conversation of a good friend is very American and very summery.

Perhaps because so many weddings happen in the summer but it seems to me you have to pick one romance in such a list.  People always compare WHMS to Annie Hall but to be honest I like it better.  I think Annie Hall is kind of boring and it did not make me laugh near as much as WHMS.  It just didn’t- let the name calling begin. 😉

For more of my thoughts on romantic comedies check out these posts-

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/romantic-comedies-that-are-actually-romantic/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/romantic-comedy-cliches-im-sick-of/

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2008/05/28/open-to-change/

3. Endless Summer- A summer movie list absolutely demands a beach movie.   I LOVE the beach and fantasize about it on a daily basis.  Endless Summer is a landmark documentary that introduced many people to the sport of surfing.  In 1966 director Bruce Brown follows surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August (perfect last name for a summer movie!) as they introduce people around the world to surfing.  They travel from Hawaii, New Zealand to Africa and Australia.   The idea is that by surfing around the world summer never ends.  What a glorious concept!  What a happy thought!

Having tried surfing myself it is amazing what these athletes can do and what a thrilling experience it must be.  Other good surfing documentaries are Step Into Liquid and Walking on Water.  All 3 films are available as an instant stream on netflix.  It will make you want to go to Hawaii and try surfing for yourself.

4. Inception- I picked Inception because for my money it is the best blockbuster type of movie ever made (was going to pick Raiders of the Lost Arc but this is even better).  It is the puzzle piece of a movie where Leonardo DiCaprio goes inside dreams to attempt to retrieve and ultimately change the behavior of the subjects.  Eventually an inception becomes so complicated that there are over 4 levels of dreams within a dream.  In fact, the final ending it is unsure whether there are even more levels.

I think Inception transcends the action movie genre because it has so many well developed characters surrounding the action and special effects. All of the acting is really good, especially Marion Cotillard as DiCaprio’s wife.  Her scenes give an emotional resonance to the film that is missing in most big budget action films.  I also love Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon Leavitt.

I also like that it is a movie 100 people could see and all feel differently about.  I like a movie that doesn’t spoon feed you a moral or a message.  I’ve seen it probably 7 or 8 times and I still don’t know what the ending is.  To me chatting about movies and books is a very summery thing.  Something you just don’t have time for the rest of the year, so Inception makes the list!

5. 12 Angry Men-  This may seem like an odd choice because it is such a small movie.  The reason it made the list is because heat is such a critical element to the story.  Told more like a play, 12 strangers (all played by amazing character actors) must deliberate on a murder case during a hot stifling summer day.  The more they talk the more heat is used to convey stress, emotion, loneliness and anger.

Henry Fonda is excellent as the stick in the mud who insists on conversation but his performance is really the easiest to pull off.  Lee Cobb and Ed Begley as the most explosive jurors are wonderfully nuanced but ALL of the actors are great.  Its remarkable that a movie set in one room with a mere table and some pencils for props can be so compelling.  Perhaps it is because human beings are compelling enough when written well without all the explosions and special effects.

You feel hot watching the movie.  I’ve always wanted to see this in the theater but haven’t gotten to do so.  I wonder if the power of movie to invoke heat and temperature would be missing in a live theater?

Still, an excellent movie for anyone interested in a good script, great acting and perfectly executed sets.

6. 5oo Days of Summer–  My last choice is another romance.  This movie uses Summer in a more broad sense.  Summer comes to mean the time of a romance; hence it lasting for 500 days instead of 90.   It is an artsy movie without being annoying telling the story of two young people Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gorden Leavitt who have a 500 day romance.  It’s a simple story but told so creatively that it does not feel simple.

First it is told in a non-linear way with days 5 followed by day 453.  This might sound confusing but it totally works.  There are also other creative touches such as a mid-movie musical number and a scene that floats into a charcoal drawing.  I also love the scene where a split screen gives two versions of an evening- what is actually happening, and what the character anticipates happening.  Brilliant.  All of these methods, however, could be incredibly irritating if done in a showy way but they aren’t.  It just melds into the picture and makes sense.  Plus, the chemistry between all the performers is really good.  This is especially important for Deschanel who plays a kind of unlikable character, but she’s so likable it works.

It also has the guts to end in a bittersweet but perfect way.  This is the movie I would recommend for someone that wants to feel summer all year round.

So there is my list.  What would you have on your list of summer favorites? Please share!

 

Ah, Young Love…

So I posted this on facebook yesterday and nobody else seemed to think it was funny, so now I will try my blog (I had just gotten bad news so maybe I was searching for a laugh. More to come on that later).

It cracked me up that this event is even necessary…

This was at our local library and I found it amazing.  Are there really so many teens jaded and ‘down on love’?  Clearly there are.

When I was a teen I had no confidence of finding true love (or even being liked a boy- it still kind of boggles my mind that anyone would go all ga-ga for me).  My main problem was not getting asked to school dances (there were only a few a year and so they were big deals.)  Most of the time I would just ask someone and have a good time. Even if I felt sad about not getting asked I’d hardly call that ‘hating cupid’ or being ‘down with love’.  These are problems that I see for 20’s not teens, but clearly I am wrong, and I find that amazing.

I don’t know if I would want my teenager to find true love.  Are they really at an age where they are ready for it?  Sometimes but boy can it cause a lot of problems too. I wouldn’t want my kid to be ‘down with love’ or ‘up with love’.  I’d want them to just focus on their education and enjoying that time of life.

Teens out there- there is plenty of time to be sad about romance.  Save it for later and enjoy your life!

The Relationship Test

As I mentioned in my last post I am kind of clueless when in it comes to relationships.  I have no idea how people find each other and what makes chemistry with seemingly incongruous people work?  It is the great mystery of my life!

Forgive the randomness and rambling nature of this post, but I found this ‘questions to ask yourself about a relationship?’ It made me think about my own answers (and add a few new one’s myself).  Here goes:

1. Describe yourself in a single sentence- Rachel is an independent, modern, Mormon woman who loves her life, family and friends.
2. What would you cook for me?- I think cooking together is fun on a date. Interactive foods such as pizza or egg rolls are fun because people can individualize them which teaches you something about their likes/dislikes.
3. What would you like to change about yourself? I can be a bit of a stress-out at times and I have hard time letting go of grudges.
4. If you could have three wishes, what would they be? (no wish for more wishes) 1. Summers in Hawaii 2. Finally get below 200 and 3. Meet my Mr.  Sunshine
5. Do you make friends easy?  With girls I do.  I seem to have a hard time making friends with boys.  I don’t know if I have ever had a platonic guyfriend.  Not sure why?
6. What’s your idea of the perfect date? A perfect date would be a good meal, with good conversation followed by a concert (Josh Groban or Michael Buble if the guy is really trying to win brownie points!).  I like most anything on a date but I hate it when I have to do all of the talking.
7. Where do you see yourself in five, ten, fifteen years? Maybe this is sad but I’ve never been much of a dreamer.  I am happy with my life and current goals.  Whatever else happens is great.  If you ask what I’d like see is I’d love to be married, have a home, maybe a kid.  I do have a goal of being under 200 by the end of 2012.
8. Who is your favorite hero of all time? My Grandpa Richards and Jesus.
9. Do you consider yourself a happy person? Yes. I have a terrible horrible day on occasion but most of the time I feel happy and grateful.
10. What is your greatest trait, accomplishment, goal for the future.

trait- I am a loyal strong friend who will move waters to help those I love.

accomplishment- A Returned Missionary, a BA and an MBA, finished an open water swim in August and have lost over 50 lbs in the last 20 months. Take your pick on which of these is the greatest accomplishments?

goal for the future- someday live by the ocean and live the best life I can. Someone once told me that having a goal to be ‘happy in my life’ was hedonistic and selfish.  What is the alternative? I’d rather be a hedonist than a masochist.

I’d like to be at 200 lbs by the end of 2012.  Also off of Victoza and out of danger of diabetes asap.  I’d also like to write my weight loss story even if it is just for myself.  I want to keep doing open water swims, each time improving my times and distance.

11. What do you look for in another person? I would like someone that I have chemistry with, that’s fun to talk to, that is ready to be married in the temple, preferably a returned missionary, preferably with higher education and career ambitions, preferably someone interested in families.

12. Must have- temple wedding, active in my church, attractive smile, someone who loves me (an absolute must!), tries to get along with my family and accepts the time commitments that come with swimming in my life.  I also need someone who isn’t intimidated by my family’s success or our family company. (No Daddy’s credit card comments!).

I also have promised myself that I will show my fiance a photo of me at my high weight and if he can’t love that person forget it.  I am not going to live with the fear that if I gain weight I will lose love.  That isn’t real love.   I’d love to meet someone who has also dealt with weight loss.  Its hard for people to understand if you haven’t lived it what the experience is like.

The Not Must Haves but Would be Nice- As far as  particular job or degree that doesn’t matter as much.  I’d like someone who I can talk to.  Someone who is educated and interesting.  Someone who has read a few books (even if they are not the same books I like.  I have long believed that readers understand other readers).

Someone who likes movies and music would be a plus. Also, a real tightwad would get on my nerves as would someone who is too much of a workaholic (one workaholic in a relationship is enough!).  It would be nice if they liked the beach.  I am not the biggest video game fan but I love other types of games. Not a camper and Not an animal person. I also have a high interest in home school but we can figure that out along the way!

13.  What is my greatest turn off on a date?  Well, aside from someone who is touchy-feely that doesn’t deserve it, I hate when guys make me do all the talking.  I know I will do a lot of it, but its nice to have the date contribute topics. I’m open to discussing just about anything including politics, sports, travel, tv, books, anything. My favorite dates are when the conversation flows freely.

14. What is the worst date I have ever been on?  Tough call.  I’ve been on some doozies over the years. One of the worst was with a guyfriend of mine (one of the few I’ve had) in college (I can’t even remember his name!) who was always complaining about never getting a second date.  To help him out I agreed to set up a group date and go with him (my sister, Seth, Emily and this guys roommate were the other couples).

First of all this guy shows up late and says he is having to leave his roommates party in order to come with us (despite the trip being planned weeks in advance).  Then he brought his homework on the date.  During the beautiful baroque concert he kept complaining about how tired he was, and how long it was…Then in the end he kept trying to pick fights with me.  I remember I brought up the most happy comment I could think of “Isn’t it great that they found Elizabeth Smart”.  And I swear somehow he found something to argue about that.

The entire date  Emily and Megan kept looking back at me with sighs of sympathy.   That was the worst date I’ve ever been on. (and to make it worse he tried to put his arm around me in the van- as if!). Let’s just say after that loooong night I understood why he wasn’t getting second dates.  I wonder if I am a dating nightmare like him and don’t even realize it? He had no idea how obnoxious he was (or at least not much of an idea).

Anyway, I don’t know if you would answer these questions in the same way I have.  For instance, what do you think is my greatest trait or accomplishment?  I fear asking you what my greatest weakness is!  I am sure the list is infinite and could be produced with some vigor.

If you had to set me up with a person what characteristics would you look for?

(btw, when you find that person I am totally up for set ups).

As I said at the opening, dating is a mystery that I do not understand.  Sometimes I feel like love is a little like Santa Clause- this grand fairy tale I’ve been told since I was a girl but I never seem to see.

Oh well, I am focusing on getting 100% better and swimming in my meet on Saturday (first one in 13 years!).  Then I have Slam the Dam next Saturday!

The right person will come along.  I have no doubts about that.  Really.  No doubts.  He may appear differently than each piece of this test but I’m sure Mr.  Sunshine will be all I need because I’m already happy all by myself. I’m not just saying that to sound strong.  I really am HAPPY ALL BY MYSELF. 

The Most Romantic Thing…

So today I stumbled across a poem that is the without a doubt the most romantic thing I’ve ever read…Lately I’ve been listening to music and floating away with fantasy.  I’ve been working so hard and I feel just  maybe I’m ready for something new.  I have no idea what will happen but it is nice to know I’m in a good place.  I feel beautiful, confident and am in the beginning stages of getting a balanced life (not there yet!).  Anyway, isn’t this the best poem?

i carry your heart with me by E. E. Cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Ah….Ok.  Wake up Rachel and get back to regular life! I can’t resist ending  this very sappy entry with what’s for my money the most romantic song ever…Ah again!

A Stupid Fear

Today I would just like to expose a fear of mine that is kind of involved with my current weight loss program.  My hope is that through expressing myself I will be able to deal with this fear and move on.  So here goes…

Relationships have always been a mystery to me.  Sometimes the whole “love” concept feels a little like Santa Claus- like one day I will wake up and realize romance is a big myth grown ups like to tell.  It’s hard because I have never been in love or anything close to it.  In fact, it is almost impossible for me to imagine anyone being in love with me.  I say that with a very healthy self-confidence.  I know I’m beautiful and accomplished, but I still can’t imagine anyone falling in love with me (Doesn’t everyone have a few things they are insecure about? This is one of mine).  Maybe romance is something you can’t imagine until it happens.

Part of what makes this tough is I am admittedly naive when it comes to men.  Aside from my father and brothers I’ve had limited interaction with men.  My friends have always been girls- even as a child or teenager.  My crushes have also been few and far between.  I’m not sure why but it seems I don’t meet men I’m attracted to very often.  Don’t get the wrong idea- I’m attracted to men but I don’t crush often. Even the Hollywood guys that other girls swoon over I rarely find that good looking.

Anyway, I am happy with my life.  I love being single and independent, but I think everyone would like to fall in love at least once in his or her lifetime.  So, here’s my fear- what if I lose all the weight and then meet someone.  No matter what happens there will always be the potential for me to look the way I am now.  How do I know that the future person will be ok with the current me? Does that make sense?  In some ways I wish I could meet someone right now.  If someone could fall in love with the plus size me it would take a worry away.  If it happens after I lose the weight I will probably  be a little anxious about my looks. What if I have a baby and end up looking just like I look now will that be a problem for the guy?  I know things like that are more important to guys but it could happen.  There will always be the potential for me to be a big girl and he has to be ok with that. Basically my fear is if I lose weight, meet someone and then gain the weight back will he not love me anymore?

It’s not like I can do much about this fear except deal with it.  It certainly is not going to stop me from getting in shape.  Love is not something that can be planned or organized on my timeline.  It is up to God and my mystery man out there.  We will just have to wait and see what happens, and I will have to conquer my anxieties and fears.