Yesterday it rained in the afternoon, so I decided to bring the dogs outside to enjoy the slightly cooler temperatures with a good game of fetch.  After nearly an hour of retrieving, Trooper decided he was hot and done.  He walked over to a puddle in the yard and laid down and splashed around in it.  He couldn't be convinced to get up and play fetch anymore.  That's when I decided to grab the camera.  So, may I present:  Splish Splash!
I was trying to keep my voice down, because I wanted to keep going through the mechanics of the disagreement.  I wanted to stand there and make it exuberantly dramatic.  But I didn't, because there was someone in the aisle with us.  A young college girl, picking up school supplies for the summer semester.  She kept stealing glances our way, trying to figure out if we were actually having an argument, or if I was just being silly.

The truth is, Joel loves to catch me unaware as I debate over a decision that some might roll their eyes at.  You see, I haven't learned to be imperfect yet, but he's teaching me to roll with the punches.  He's teaching me to just shrug and not take myself so seriously. 

Because in MY world, it has to be perfect.  It has to go according to plan.  And when it doesn't, a tremor of anxiety runs through me and I become irritable and/or visibly upset.  I used to get upset - and he may argue that I still do - when he points these things out to me. 

I could bring up the example of how we each determined how we should be going though Paris' Louvre.  How I fumed and pouted until he gave me the map, and allowed me to lead.  How we walked every square foot of the Louvre that day.  It's one of our more famous examples of how we both like to control situations - but I'm much more set on it than he is.

I can deal with things that are unplanned or unexpected, but if it is *I* who has a plan in mind, and that plan does not go, well, as brings a raincloud right on over my head.

The longer I date Joel, of course, the less and less this becomes an issue.  Sometimes I have my bad days, sure.  But I'm becoming better at it (at least I'd like to think so).  I'm rolling with the punches more. 

So when he caught me yesterday afternoon, having a white girl dilemma about what kind of cash box I should buy for an upcoming garage sale - should I go with the $10 box with no room for bills on the top drawer? or should I go with the $17.99 box with the roomy dividers on top and space below for assorted items like checks - when he caught me doing it, I was embarrassed because he was totally right.  And I knew he was.  I'm only going to use this cash box once.  Just get the cheap one.  But I still felt like I had to prove my point, so I made it a little more dramatic than it really was, just to pretend I hadn't learned my lesson and changed my mind.

You might be surprised to learn I'm not an only child - I'm the eldest of two girls.  Sometimes I don't act like the older sister, and I totally know it. 

In the end, I picked up the $10 cash box.  But I held my ground on the price labels.  Doesn't everyone know that the best way to label garage sale items is with masking tape?  DUH.  ;)

I explained my multiple reasons for my masking tape decision, right there in the aisle.  And then it was his turn to pretend I was being silly (even though I was picking up the cheaper item!  on my own!), and our voices carried through the next few aisles, I'm sure, as we continued to poke and prod at each other's mental sweet spots.  We know each other well.  We walked out hand in hand from the store, cash box and masking tape in hand.
I am loving this quote, as I sit in solitude in my office in a near-empty building working on my dissertation.

" should be happy; for what (you should ask yourself) would a solitude be that was not vast; there is only one solitude, and it is vast, heavy, difficult to bear, and almost everyone has hours when he would gladly exchange it for any kind of sociability, however trivial or cheap, for the tiniest outward agreement with the first person who comes along, the most unworthy. . . . but perhaps these are the very hours during which solitude grows; for its growing is painful as the growing of boys and sad as the beginning of spring. But that must not confuse you. What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours - that is what you must be able to attain. To be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grown-ups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and important because they looked so busy and because you didn't understand a thing about what they were doing."
So, I realize this blog has become less and less about my dogs, and more about me.  Which I guess is okay, seeing as how I'm the one who suffers - hard core - from Labradoris.

Here are some recent pictures of Trooper (5/23/10).  He's 1 year and 2 months here.  He is SO TALL.  I need to get a picture of Cosette and Trooper standing together to show you exactly how tall he is as a reference. 

Ain't he pretty?
I haven't disappeared anywhere.  I haven't gone anywhere cool.

I am just writing my dissertation, and desperately spreading my survey link around to working professionals.  Data collection needs to happen fast - and my writing has to be even faster.  It's a good thing I know how to type correctly!

Did you know the best way to learn how to type correctly (i.e., not looking at the keys) is to work on a computer typing program and cover your hands with a towel?  Yep!  I'm very thankful that my elementary schools knew to do this.  We'd spend 45 minutes every day on our little computers with towels over our hands.  I quickly became proficient and I've never been so thankful.  It's a hard skill to learn, and I know a lot of people who hunt and peck - or at least look at their hands when they type. 

Did anyone else learn a different way?
Here are a few photos from my trip to Atlanta, GA in April 2010.
Between January 20, 2010 and April 18, 2010, I lost approximately 33 lbs (not counting the 15lbs lost through September-December without much conscious effort). 

Let me just stop for a second and say:  WOO HOO!!!

Between April 18, 2010 and May 11, 2010, I gained approximately 6 lbs.  Within those 24 days or so, I stopped working out, started stressing out, began eating badly again, and had my endocrinology system adjusted via medication (still be adjusting by my medical group) which is slowing down my metabolism.

I'm 26 years old.  In September, I will be 27.  I can't procrastinate with this any longer.  I need to, have to, will, AM getting back on the weight loss train and getting off at healthy central.  I do not want to be in my thirties and forties repeating this same conversation over and over again.  I get tired of hearing it from other people - why would I want to hear myself say it?  (That said, sorry you have to hear it from me!)

So, here are my weight loss goals:

May 12-May 24:  down 7 lbs (no foreseeable problems here - I can drop weight quickly when I make major changes like I need to do)
May 25-June 7:  down 4 lbs
June 8-June 28:  down 7 lbs
June 29-July 26:  down 6 lbs
by August 15:  down 4 lbs

Matching these goals will be put at exactly the weight I was last at as an undergraduate (before my disastrous senior year which I think I've talked about before - in terms of weight gain). 

Here's where I'm starting from, today (sorry for the crappy pic):
But, here's where I started from (August 2009 - 42 lbs above where I'm at today):
I don't even recognize myself.  Isn't that sad?  I look so bloated and big.  In my mind, that's not at all what I looked like!  But, it made me realize that I needed to look at myself and my life very differently, and when we were in Singapore, I was very inspired to ratchet up my efforts to be healthy.  I didn't want to grow old and have a useless body after being fit and athletic for so many years.
May 10 2010:  Today I prospected my dissertation!  =)
Last night we watched "The Boys are Back" with Clive Owen.  What I thought would be a emotionally-laden film filled with gut-wrenching moments turned out to be a carefree examination of the loss of a mother figure and the transformation of a father figure.  The melodramatics were spared by the events being viewed through the eyes of a six-year-old and the father's (Clive Owen) distaste for his new situation.

The film dealt with divorce, another sticky subject for movies to run across; however, the real enemy role of the divorce situation was very matter-of-factly placed on the father's shoulders.  There were brief mentions of fights, and some steely glances from the ex-wife of over six years, but mainly the real touchiness came from the older son's sadness that his dad had left him years earlier to be with his new wife and son.  Much like the death and the funeral scenes early in the movie, this situation was also approached in a straightforward manner that doesn't illicit tears on behalf of the viewer.  

The plot - though based off a true story - felt almost too formulaic and choppy for its own good.  The director spends so much time laying down the sequence of scenes that the viewer has a difficult time relating to the characters through their various grievances.

What it DOES do, however, is provide many moments of smiles and knowing warmth from being around children.  There's a scene in the movie (and the trailer as well) when the father hears a horrible noise coming from the hotel bathroom, and races in to find his young son with goggles on and tub overflowing asking, "Can I do it again, Daddy?  Can I?"  There's also a scene where the father is very busy getting ready to leave, and the son comes in to the room.  The father says despondently, "You've got those on the wrong feet!" to which the little boy replies, 'But these are the only feet I have?"

In addition to the heart-warming moments interacting with the children, what stands up with a head above the crowd for this film is the cinematography and music selection.  I squealed when I saw on the title screens that some of the music was by "Sigur Ros" - they are absolutely one of my favorites (embedding is disabled by request on YouTube, otherwise I would provide a link).  In addition, one of the first songs of the movie is "All the Wild Horses" by Ray Lamontange (see below), which only two weeks prior to my viewing I had found and been obsessed with, listening to it over and over.  The movie is based in Australia, and the sunlight pouring over the fields and the house, soaking up in the boys' hair, is almost too much to deal with - it is that beautiful.  My photography self only wishes that I could be transported instantly there to be bathed in the same sunlight.

Overall, the movie was a pleasurable experience despite having rough transitions and a more formulaic plot.  The rich coppery sunlight, the interesting camera shots, the music, and the affection with the boys more than made up for any production deficits.   
From a recent trip to Chicago...