Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lazy, Crazy, Hazy Days of Summer

With temps soaring into the 90s and my grad school days officially a thing of the past, it definitely felt like summertime here in our neck of the woods over Memorial Day weekend!

After months of hectic schedules, Stephen and I kicked off the holiday with our first trip out to Virginia wine country since last fall. Sitting on the shaded Vintage Ridge patio and sipping a chilled glass of rosé while surrounded by rolling hills was just what I needed to start letting the stress of the past few months fade away. 

Of course, no relaxing day in wine country would be complete without a stop at Scruffy’s Ice Cream Parlor, which helps support animal rescue programs, for a delicious scoop of cotton candy in a waffle cone -- always the perfect summer treat!   

Other weekend highlights included continuing to make progress on my novel (so much easier now that school is off my plate), kicking off my summer diet and fitness plan (now that I really have no more excuses), going out for tapas to celebrate Stephen's new position at work (yes, we will officially be staying in DC for 1-2 more years), and spending plenty of time playing with Molly and Twix (because cuddly kitties just make everything better). 

How was your Memorial Day weekend? Do you feel like summer has now officially arrived? 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pomp & Circumstance

After yet another whirlwind week that included visiting my family in California for Mother's Day and then participating in my university’s Commencement Weekend here in DC, I'm finally getting back to blogging and am excited to share a few highlights!

Hands down, the high point of the past week was spending time with my grandparents in California. Although it's still incredibly hard for me to accept the fact that my Nana has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, sharing a beautiful Mother's Day together meant the world to me. I plan to frame each of these two photos, which I'll give them when I'm back in town next month (even though I later learned that I wasn't wearing the master's hood correctly in these shots). I'll also enclose a card thanking them both for all of the support and love they have given me throughout my life.

After arriving back in DC on Friday, I spent Saturday afternoon getting ready to attend the first of two graduation ceremonies, this one specific to my college. After receiving ceremonial cords and medals to add to our regalia, my publishing classmates and I cheered each other on as we celebrated two years of hard work and friendship. Stephen recorded an iPhone video of me walking across the stage, and thanks to a live stream set up by the college, my family was able to watch online from California. Two of my former Capitol Hill colleagues and friends also came to watch, and as you can see, I even busted out a pair of high heels!

Next up was Sunday morning's university-wide celebration, which was held on the National Mall. Without a doubt, the highlight of the ceremony was an appearance by journalist Brian Williams, who delivered a terrific commencement speech that was as laugh-out-loud funny as it was inspiring. Just as amazing were the clear skies and temperatures in the low 70s, which made for the perfect ending to an all-around fabulous weekend!

Are you heading to any graduation ceremonies or parties this year?

Friday, May 11, 2012

50 Shades of Sickening

With grad school over and a couple cross-country flights lined up, I've been especially excited to get caught up on all the books I've been hoping to read but simply haven't had the chance to dive into yet. One of the series I considered picking up, especially given all the recent hype, was the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, which has been getting tons of coverage in the news, via comedy skits and more.

However, after reading page upon page of cringe-worthy excerpts on various websites, I can definitively say that this is one series upon which I won't be wasting my time or money. From the complete absence of polished writing and editing to the presence of what I consider to be some truly sick, disturbing and not even remotely "sexy" content, I must say that I honestly just don't get everyone's fascination with Fifty Shades.

Image Source: Amazon
Don't get me wrong. I definitely enjoy reading a good romance novel from time to time and think there is nothing shameful or wrong with a bit of playful BDSM content. However, I personally draw the line at clear-cut misogyny and abuse, which these books certainly exemplify. Although there were many passages that bothered me, the one that really pushed me over the edge in complete and utter disgust was the following from the end of the series:


Christian lies beside me, his hand caressing my belly, his long fingers splayed out wide. "How's my daughter?" "She's dancing." I laugh. "Dancing? Oh yes! Wow. I can feel her." He grins as Blip Two somersaults inside me. "I think she likes sex already." 

-- Fifty Shades Freed, Epilog.

Um, I'm sorry, but say WHAT?! This passage strikes me as being sick and deranged on more levels than I can possibly begin to express within such a short blog post. So, rather than going off on what could easily become an endless rant about this and other similarly disturbing passages, I'll just end by saying that all in all, the positive hype surrounding this series completely blows my mind and not in an even remotely good way.

What do you think about this series and its bestseller status?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mission Accomplished

After two years, 14 classes and more papers and projects than I can possibly count, last night officially marked the end of my grad school education! Happily, the evening ended on a memorably positive note, as I closed out one of my favorite classes of the entire program to a round of applause from fellow classmates and also found out that I had received full points on a rather difficult assignment.

After the craziness of the past couple weeks, it’s surreal to think that I’m really, truly done and am now free to begin planning for the next phase of my life and career. I definitely have a few big decisions to make, and while that can certainly be overwhelming and even a bit frightening, I’m also incredibly excited about the new adventures to come!

Super cute graduation card from my in-laws. I love owls! 
Thank you all so much for your kind comments and support following my husband’s injury and my Nana’s diagnosis, too. I’m happy to report that Stephen is feeling so much better and that his shoulder is healing up much more quickly than we originally anticipated. Now that school is done, I’ll also be heading to California later this week to spend Mother’s Day with my mom and Nana, both of whom I can’t wait to see!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week, and thanks for sticking with me throughout the past several weeks of mayhem. It feels great to finally let some of the stress go and get back to doing the things I love with the people I love!