dear pat

10 Oct

dear pat,

this month marks three years since you were killed in afghanistan.

every october since i found out about your passing, back on october 15th 2012 while i was in uganda, i’ve taken the month to listen to green day and think about those easy days in carlisle, pennsylvania.

this year, in addition to the regular american idiot album rotation (you was the first boy to give me a cd, and in this case, it was the noted green day album, american idiot), i’ve also been listening to hamilton a lot. one song in particular.

this song makes me cry now. i think of you and what you would have done had you lived a longer life. what you would have done with more time. and if i will do enough with the time i have been allotted. i like to fantasize that if you had lived, i would have reached out at the end of your deployment, that i would have gotten the whole “white house crew” back together. but realistically that probably wouldn’t have happened. your death shook me. it propelled me to turn my head away from the army and look seriously towards somewhere else, anywhere else. it was your death that made me start researching psychology programs three and a half years before my commitment was up to the army.

i just know i need to make the most of the time i have here, for you, and for myself.

and as i’m wont to do, i took a look through some of my old journals. i also found some old aim conversations i printed off years ago and felt so much embarrassment for the diction and vocabulary of my ninth grade self. here’s my first journal entry of a new journal where i first wrote about you:

img_6404you can also see how i’ve always been a stage 9 clinger (sorry!)!
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and here is baby me (at the end of the table) and you to my left. we’re both pirates at an excellently themed pirate party in 2004.

time is weird. death is also weird. we miss you.

xoxo,
annie

 

our vacation to england and scotland!

7 Oct

dear world,

it’s me again! of all of the ridiculous things happening in 2016 (our presidential election, the continuation of police brutality among unarmed black men, the numerous accidental bombings on “good guys” in syria, the refugee crisis, hurricane matthew, global warming, etc) i still need to first post a few photos from christopher and i’s trip to england and scotland from the beginning of september! since chris and i returned from england, we’ve been nonstop, but i have had a desire to share a little about our trip – especially since i’m away from facebook and some of my friends/family have been asking.

we had a layover in iceland and it was the most gorgeous land i’d ever see. img_5772we had the best time learning about and utilizing all of the public transportation – especially in london. i bought a city map and tube map ahead of time, and we were never lost, and before we even left i ordered two oyster cards preloaded with pounds so we’d be good to go!img_5788
on our first full day in london we headed to the churchill war rooms, since christopher is obsessed with him. i entered without expecting much, and then came to realize that this is a very worthwhile museum! even if you aren’t into history or the like. it’s well organized and insightful and a great homage to a great man.img_5798
did my tourist due diligence by stopping by big ben and grabbing a flake :)img_5803img_5817
love how much my husband loves art. literally the best. img_5828one of the views from the sky garden:img_5834img_5839after a couple of days in london, we headed to kings cross station for our train ride to edinburgh! (and to stop for a photo op with platform 9 and 3/4!)img_5851img_5864img_5865i had chris stop for a photo op on our straight up hill journey to our air bnb in beautiful edinburgh!img_5888our airbnb was beautiful and perfect and i want to go back constantly.img_5895dinner overlooking the edinburgh castle with my cutie in the sunshine img_5920
we took a day trip to see some of scotland, and it was money well spent! here are some photos from our rainy trip up to the wallace monument! (which is relevant since christopher’s last name is wallace and they trace their heritage back to the original OG william wallace!)img_5932img_5940
driving through the smoglands was the most magical experience. i wish we could have stopped so i could have taken a proper photo, but here’s an idea of it: rocky, rising hills, and lush greens and streams. so gorgeous! img_5960
after a rainy morning, the sun came out as we walked through a little highland town named dunkeld!img_5985img_5994
also, dunkeld has great ice cream.img_6008img_6009
here is a view from our air bnb :) a view right over the old college!img_6016
a view of the sea from a high point in edinburgh!img_6017
we went to this awesome indian place that served dishes tapas style. our air bnb host recommended it! it was awesome!img_6019img_6024img_6025

then we headed back to london for our stay in brixton! headed to brixton village for a delicious dinner:img_6054img_6059georgia okeefe had an exhibit at the tate modern, which we of course went to! love an american woman’s work shown in another country! img_6060
the view from the tate:img_6061then we headed to the broadway market in the rain, but that didn’t stop the deliciousness:img_6081img_6088img_6090
the next day was our favorite day in britain – notting hill to meet one of my favorite friends, emma!!img_6104img_6108img_6119img_6128img_6137img_6148
(and we even got to meet emma’s wonderful boyfriend, sam! it was such a treat! especially since she wasn’t feeling well, but wandered around all day with us anyway <3 )img_6151
our final day in london we headed to the ritz carlton for a super fancy afternoon tea!!img_6163img_6165img_6167img_6169img_6180
also, a pretty photo from our final sleeping location:img_6197

of course, i took about a thousand photos, but these are some of my favorites. it was an amazing trip which was enlightening and also a wonderful time to reconnect with christopher – especially after his four months away this summer!

i hope everyone is well, and i’ll post more soon, i promise!

xoxo,
annie

one year of marriage

27 Jun

one year ago today, christopher and i had our wedding and were married in nashville, tennessee! it was a magical week of festivities featuring our friends and family from all over the world. but, guess what else has been magical? being married to your best friend, of course.

i’ve immensely enjoyed this past year. i marvel at how easily he will fall asleep anywhere/on anything, i like getting to hear whatever he’s listening to while he showers (ranges from death metal to podcasts on world war II), i like his insistence of making me eggs in a basket for breakfast, his willingness to listen to my newest “platform” and help me hone my argument for a different audience, and our joint adoration of singing very loudly to songs we know by heart. i love him, and going home to him after a long day is an absolute pick me up (or him coming home to me – whoever gets back from work/med school first lol).

i spend a lot of time not weirdly bragging about our relationship, because it is so special and i want to share my joy with others – a testament that true love and effortless relationships exist, because i keep thinking “maybe this is just a honeymoon phase?” and i don’t want to have to take my words back as we age and face bigger challenges.

but this weekend, on our little celebratory weekend in san antonio, we discussed us. our relationship. and he said he thinks that many relationship problems come from power struggles and an inability to communicate with respect. when i’m upset, i tell him. i don’t wait around for him to guess what is going on with me. when i disagree with him, i tell him. we treat each other with love and respect. he values me and i value him. we’re a team! now that i’ve been married a whole year i feel like i’m able to give advice – and if there is any advice, this is it: treat each other as equals.

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xoxo,
annie

peaceful meadow farm // the new cale estate

11 Jun

hello!

a couple of weekends ago, i visited my parents at their new home for the very first time! they bought a home and 20+ acres out near staunton, virginia. we arrived at like 3 in the morning, so we weren’t able to see the beauty that is the appalachian mountains in western virginia. but, goodness, when we woke up and started walking around the property in our pajamas, i was in awe.

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on the property there are four buildings: the home, a summer-home (which half of it’s walls are screen), a garage/workshop, and this little building called a “cold storage” building where my parents are currently storing wine lol. also – the property is called “peaceful meadow farm.”

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here is the house! (and you can see the cold storage building on the left and back behind the cold storage building is the garage) it is beautiful and was handmade by the previous owner.

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here is a photo i took of the house from one of the few places where i could get AT&T service haha. going to the house forces you to disconnect because you can’t get service and the satellite internet is expensive lol (my parents promptly switched to verizon when they moved out there)

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the opposite side of the house where the fountain and porch area is!

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if you walk up the hill on the land behind the house you’ll see a cow pasture!

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this is just a photo of some eggs before mom made us breakfast lol

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the living room is the most beautiful room of the house (in my opinion). the builder hand laid the wooden floors and built these stone walls and all of the light fixtures and doors are repurposed and it is the most unique, beautiful house i’ve seen. (also my ma <3)

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riding in my mom’s convertible from one of the nearby vineyards!

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our second night visiting we had a happy hour on the top corner of the property. you can see the garage down below, and to the right all of that land is my parent’s. it is farmed by a local farmer! they just harvested alfalfa.

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and here is a photo of christopher being a cutie.

anyway, it’s beautiful and i cannot wait to go back!

xoxo,
annie

the moment i knew

10 Jun

today my handsome husband is starting his BOLC (basic officer leadership course – basically army basic training for officers that is branch specific) before he graduates vanderbilt medical school in may. that way he can graduate and go straight to his residency without worrying about this army requirement. (go bun!)

anyway, talking with him about his BOLC has made me think back to my BOLC, which i attended four years ago. (!!!!! it seems like yesterday, still) besides all of the things that made BOLC so interesting and the memories/friends i gained, what i really have been thinking about was the moment i knew i would be leaving the army as soon as i could.

it was one of the first days of BOLC – the first few weeks are dedicated to common army tasks like qualifying on your weapon, and doing land navigation, and convoy operations (later you move in to branch specific thing) – and i’m not totally sure what the lesson was supposed to be about. maybe professional military ethics? something classroom based. well, the course was taught by the major in charge of all of SBOLC (i think there were three rotating classes at a time) and he posed to us a challenge: to describe ourselves with as many nouns as we wanted.

mine went something like this: “daughter, sister, girlfriend, friend, explorer” or something like that.

well, after our little brain storming session, and also after i complimented one of my classmates on his wedding band (and then was told to “focus on the task at hand” by the major instead of complimenting jewelry), the major stood in front of the classroom and asked to hear what we had come up with. it wasn’t interesting. but after he had heard enough, he said, “if you haven’t included ‘soldier’ on your list you shouldn’t be in the army.” i knew it was meant as a coming-to-jesus moment for people to understand the massive responsibility we were undertaking, but to me (even after four years of west point) it blatantly showed me that being a solider wasn’t part of my identity and i needed to leave.

either way, random major who i will never see again, you’ll be happy to know i’ve turned in my paperwork to be done with my service in may of 2017! woo!

xoxo,
annie

something worth writing about: hamilton

18 May

dear everyone,

HI! i have been sharing my newest obsession/love with everyone i come into contact with. even my soldiers/boss; which is a hard sell since the military isn’t the biggest consumer of broadway musicals around. but i try. and i try because i do think they will love this one, i think everyone will love this one.

that being: HAMILTON.

i’d heard about this groundbreaking musical on NPR months and months ago, then again when the cast went to the white house, and then on one of my friend’s instagram’s photos, and then on the news for how many tony’s it/it’s book/original score/actors/actresses/set/costumes it was nominated for (16!!!). at this point i wasn’t sure why i hadn’t listened to it yet. maybe i was too dedicated to the news cycle on NPR to switch my nearly hour and a half commute every day to this incredible musical. well, one day i decided i was too frustrated with the news to listen anymore. i searched hamilton on spotify, and the whole show was there. and since that day i haven’t listened to anything else. honestly. it’s been about two weeks now, and i’m not sure when i’m going to stop.

hamilton is a very aptly named musical. it is about alexander hamilton and his impact on our great country and his unlikely tale. unfortunatley, before i heard this musical i wasn’t a big proponent of this founding father. due to my history classes, the only thing i remembered about him was that he died in a duel. which i thought was reckless and careless. but little did i know what an influential man alexander hamilton was on our country (or even why he was in that duel). and now i’m in love with him.

a man named lin-manuel miranda created this beautiful world, wrote the musical and music after reading a biography of hamilton one day. of course he stars as hamilton in his own musical (um, swag). and what makes this musical so unique is that it turns the pre-concieved notion of a musical on it’s head. i think most people’s mental model of a musical is something like the phantom of the opera (which i also love), but for some people that isn’t an accessible type of music for the masses. it’s kind of stuffy. BUT HAMILTON, on the contrary, is a musical for america as it is now. it relies on hip hop and R&B, and of course has some of the more traditional chorus styles and beautiful harmonies you’d more expect from a musical. i read somewhere that miranda wanted to show the revolution and rebellion that were inherent in the birth of our nation in today’s terms. that, to him, meant the energy of hip hop and a very racially diverse cast – to mirror our nation today. it is a work of art.

my husband and i now speak in hamilton quotes to one and other and have dropped way too much money on already sold-out shows (thanks stub hub) to see the musical in nyc in january. yes, it was a lot of money, and in a long time, but everyone is trying to see it, and we have to see it, because we know seeing it live will be one of the best experiences of our lives. but thankfully, the music is very accessible (and free) either on youtube or spotify or whatever your music streaming service of choice is.

bottom line: go listen to hamilton. it will probably change your life, and make you want to live your life with more purpose and action. i know i do :)

“i’m not throwing away my shot!”

xoxo,
annie

another month of forgetting to write

29 Apr

hello everyone!

so, as the title suggests, another full month has passed without me writing. for that, i apologize!

things that have happened since march 9 include:

  1. the diet ended! i ended up losing like 8 pounds and felt great. since then, i would like to say i have a healthier diet and outlook on food, but that hasn’t stopped me from allowing pasta and chocolate and pizza back into my diet. (but i do highly recommend the whole30 thing if you want to kick start your health!)
  2. the 2016 cadaver ball! (vanderbilt medical school’s annual ball) it was super fun, christopher and i looked great, and the school even arragnged a snap chat filter for the night. awesome. additionally, it was held at our wedding reception venue, so it was neat to go back there :)
  3. i went to visit tampa and my mommy one last time before she moved up north with my daddy. we went to harry potter world and even rode the hogwarts express (and i had a butterbeer and got the souvenir mug lol)! it was lovely, but i’m happy they’re living in a more temperate climate now.
  4. christopher and i got really into the nashville predators. we went and saw one of their first round playoff games, went to a wine tasting “on the ice”, and currently hold tickets for a second round playoff game at the bridgestone! super fans!
  5. i volunteered with “the mission continues” – a great volunteer organization that allows veterans to continue serving in their community. most recently our platoon revamped and did some cosmetic work on a veteran group home that is part of the nashville operation stand down organization.
  6. kitty (my pff) came to visit for two weeks! well really, she enrolled in an army course on the post that i work at, so i of course managed to get into the same course as well so we could do everything together for two weeks. it was the best, and she is the best.
  7. i took my gre psychology exam… i have to wait six weeks for the scores, and i hope i scored in the point range that i was aiming for. but, it is a big relief to be done studying haha.
  8. christopher’s parents came to visit for a weekend! they are so generous and fun to be around and i was glad we could host them and show them what christopher and i’s relationship and home is actually like.
  9. this one is monumental: i just had my annual dental check up and didn’t have to schedule any fillings!!! the commended my mouth! this year of flossing and mouth washing has paid off. i felt so proud to walk out and not have to make follow up appointments. SUCCESS!

and now you are caught up! i will write something substantive soon.

xoxo,
annie