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2010 Recap

So, I'm slowly rejoining the land of the living. It's been quite the battle to do so the last few days, but my family has been awesome--from my dad making sure I have enough ginger ale to last me through the day, to watching hours of "The Haunted" on Animal Planet with my sister, to my mom bringing us milkshakes, to Landon propping me up so I could look at "Gilmore Girls" while I try to go to sleep.

This virus isn't letting me go easily, so I'm still quarantined until I'm all better. In the meantime, how about a recap of 2010? (I got the idea of year-in-review through photos from Kit over at A Step into My Life).

January

  • I began my last year as a full-time student. Only one more semester of my masters program to go!
  • Landon, my family and I began the heavy-duty planning for our May wedding. 
  • I apparently didn't take any pictures during January!
February
We bought Landon's wedding ring, which he was super excited about. He's showing off the two rings he said he always wanted: his Clemson ring and his wedding ring.

It snowed at my house in Lexington, SC--a very rare occurrence for South Carolina!

Amber, Landon and I made a super yummy King Cake to celebrate Mardi Gras.


March

Amber took my bridal portraits at Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston, while Mama served as a photographer's assistant. I definitely had a DIY wedding, but loved every minute of it!

Amber, Danielle, Landon and I went to Savannah on a super spur-of-the-moment trip. We had the best time!

Landon indulged one of my odd obsessions when he found an abandoned house for us to explore. Gorgeous light + a healthy sense of adventure = my favorite photographs


April

  • Landon's aunts and uncles threw a tailgate-themed party for us (above). Go Tigers!
  • School kicked into HIGH gear, as my last semester came to a close and I was faced with the final edit of my thesis, 60+ student papers to grade, and three seminar papers to write.
  • Landon, my parents and Amber took over wedding planning at this point because I was insane with school stuff. 

May

We got married May 22! 

We went on an amazing honeymoon cruise to the Virgin Islands with Royal Caribbean. 
  • I started my job at the Art Institute of Charleston as an English and Speech professor.
  • Landon began looking for a job that utilized his Economics degree and had several interviews.
June

Landon and I visited the Firefly Distillery at Irvin House Vineyards on Wadmalaw Island.

We spent Father's Day at my grandparents' house.

Landon and I decided to repaint our bathroom, which was easier said than done!


July
We celebrated 4th of July at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant.


Landon turned 26 and my sister turned 23!

We spent a day on the sparsely-populated Daufuskie Island with my family.

August

Nothing says "Happy Anniversary" (to my parents) like a dinner at Poe's on Sullivan's Island! I hope Landon and I will be celebrating 37 years of marriage one day, too.

September 
Mama and I ran our first 5K, while Landon ran his first 10K.

I went to visit Amb at USC as she began her last semester of school ever!


October
  • Landon got a new job working in a bank. He's finally using that college degree! :)
  • I started my second quarter at the Art Institute.
For Amber's last Fall Break, the entire family went to Saluda, NC.

I dressed up as William Shakespeare for my second 5K, this one in Greenville, SC.

Landon finished his first half-marathon!


November

I cut about 9 inches off of my hair, which caused quite the stir amongst my students, many of whom didn't recognize me with my new 'do!

We ate two different Thanksgiving dinners. And I don't even really like turkey and dressing.

Amber, Mama and I battled the crowds on Black Friday.


December

Landon's cousin, Lauren, got married in a gorgeous ceremony.

All of Landon's siblings threw a baby shower for the forthcoming Baby Davis!

Amber graduated with her Masters in Human Resources. No more school for us!

Landon and I put an offer down on a townhouse, which was accepted. We're just waiting on the financing, title stuff and appraisal to come back!


What a year! I went from being single to being married, to being a student to a professor, from being a renter to an almost-homeowner. 2010 was definitely a year of transitions for Landon and I, but it was an exciting year nonetheless. We're so excited to see what 2011 holds for us!

Savannah

This past weekend, Landon and I went to Savannah as part of our Christmas to one another. We didn't have much planned--we wanted it to be laid back--but we had the BEST time!

We brought a tiny Christmas tree to set up in our hotel room. The perfect amount of Christmas cheer!

The room overlooked one of the squares.

A Christmas candy apple at Savannah's Candy Kitchen. And for my sister: Chickel teeth!

Landon's mom wanted us to look for some Christmas oyster ornaments. We didn't find those, but we found these starfish Santas. Close enough?

At dinner the first night (I use "dinner" loosely since we ate at 4--but I hadn't had any lunch and couldn't wait until normal dinner time!). We got yummy muffalettas and cornbread at Huey's on the River.

The Pirates House Restaurant on Broad Street. We got a private tour of the place after we'd eaten!

Pirate Natalie. Arrrrrrr, ye matey, don't touch me lunch!

Outside of the Pirates House, the oldest building in Savannah. It has historical value AND the best macaroni and cheese we'd ever had--a package of awesomeness!

In the hotel lobby

At Forsyth Park. We covered all 2.5 square miles of the historic district at least twice in two days!

The fountain at Forsyth

Resting for a moment on our afternoon jaunt around the city.

In Ellis Square, just outside of Avia Savannah, where we spent part of our honeymoon

Dear Creepy Santa, I would like the following for Christmas: a house, my Nikon camera to be fixed and three pounds of grape taffy. Thanks.

Onboard the Holly Jolly Trolley Tour. A definite favorite from the trip, but if you want to take a trolley tour from Old Town Trolley after dark, DON'T WALK to their pick-up place. Landon and I thought we were about to get jacked on the fifteen block walk there. But the heart palpitations we suffered as a result of walking through Sketchville were ultimately worth the fun trolley ride (complete with cider, cookies and caroling).

What I Think: Review of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I've decided to include a little review/ critique of all the books that I read (see the full list, which I growing bigger by the day, here) after I'm done with each title. In each review, I'll tell you the things I found interesting, parts that troubled and things that I just didn't like. I'll also include other books that are similar in theme, style or topic if you'd like to discover a new author or two. That way, if you're interested, you'll have my humble opinion to guide you! :)

Without further ado, I bring you my first review on Steig Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Please note that there are a few **SPOILERS**, so don't read this unless you want some plot points laid out for you in advance!

So, I finally finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. When I first decided to put it on my reading list, I was a bit worried because I'd heard that SO many people just LOVED it...which is a good way to get me all hyped up about a book, only to be disappointed when it falls below the impossible expectations to which I've raised it. Mostly, this book lived up to the hype--it was an enjoyable read (though I hesitate to use the word "enjoyable" considering some of the crimes that occur) with unusual characters and a satisfying twist of plot towards the end of the mystery.

That being said, many of my half-time musings still remain: the narrative could have used some serious editing for brevity and for audience: much of the first 100 pages or so could have easily been scaled back so that the reader can access the heart of the story--the investigation into the disappearance of Harriet Vanger--much more quickly. After reading several quick bios of Larsson online, I've come to realize that he, just as the main character Mikael, was deeply passionate about the relationship between truthful journalism and capitalist business. Thus, I can understand why Larsson put so much emphasis on that portion of the plot line, but it still doesn't make for very accessible reading to those of us who aren't that interested in ethical journalistic practices.

The character of Lisbeth Salander was incredibly complex, and I think that she could have easily sustained more of the plot...but then again, I suppose that's where the next two books come in! Larsson, throughout the book, provides a tension between the female victims and the male aggressor; yet, in the character of Lisbeth, he does a fairly convincing job of making that tension more complex. One of the characters describes her as "the perfect victim," and indeed, as a ward of the state and a very petite young woman, many do try to take advantage of her (and, horribly, some succeed). Lisbeth, though, is more than a victim: she, in other situations, is the aggressor, fighting back in her own way against the injustices that have been heaped upon her. Her physical androgyny seems to reinforce these dual (and conflicting) roles that Lisbeth equally inhabits.

Going further with that idea, Larsson creates the juxtaposition between the female victim and male aggressor, but never speculates on why this dynamic is so: is it because of our nature? Our culture? Religious practices? It is true that women--all over the world--do suffer horrendous crimes at the hands of men, and it is also true that the vast majority of violent crime offenders are men, but to me, just pointing that out isn't enough. For the book to combat this gender issue, a solution to this problem needs to be in place, or at least discussed amongst the characters. You may say, "But Natalie, this is a fiction book. Why muddle it with talks of gender politics?" I would reply that the author consciously brings up the gender politics within the framework of his story (indeed so much that the Swedish title is "Men Who Hate Women"), so to see the various arguments through is not a tangent, but rather a logical progression of the discussion he's already begun.

Directly related to that idea, Larsson tries to paint a broad picture of the violence done to women by men, but to truly make someone understand the magnitude and heartbreak of the violence, one has to first humanize it. Larsson only portrays the violence the Harriet and Lisbeth endure, but sweeps over the hundreds (or maybe more) that were murdered by Martin and his father sheerly for their own sadistic pleasure. Of the women tortured in Martin's chamber, and of the women killed by Gottfried (the ones that make the newspapers that Lisbeth and Mikael read), Larsson speaks as if he were writing an impersonal newspaper article. I would have liked to see him delve more into those stories and humanize those victims for us (as he does with Harriet and Lisbeth) so we could better empathize with the victims (and families) of these crimes.

Despite these shortcomings--which might be identified and resolved in the two sequels I haven't read yet--the book was well worth the $5.90 I paid for my Nook copy and worth the hours I spent reading it.

If you liked this book, you might also enjoy:

  • The Body Farm by Patricia Cornwell
  • The Vanished Man by Jeffery Deaver
And feel free to suggest other books that I should put on my list. I'm always looking for suggestions!

Acceptance!

So, the seller accepted our offer! YAYAYAYAY! Landon and I are one step closer to being homeowners, and we are so excited about that.

There are other hurdles to cross, of course, the most immediate one being financing. The banks want an incredible amount of information, so we've been knee deep in our financial information since this morning. This is definitely the non-fun part of buying a house (though, anything to do with math is non-fun in my book).

We've also got to worry about the house inspection, termite inspection and a million other little things. But all this work is worth it to get this:


And in other news, I went Christmas shopping with my mom and sister tonight...and I got to strike several more names off of my list as a result of our work tonight. I'm actually very excited about the gifts I've bought so far and I hope my gift recipients love them, too! Just a few more days until Christmas...

The Fourth Time's the Charm...

We're putting down a contract on another house tonight...and I really, really, really want this one to be The One. We actually looked at a townhouse just down the street (literally 8 townhouses down) back in late October, but were outbid by another couple who submitted their offer a mere 36 hours before us.

That was our first offer on real estate, and our first lesson in how hard buying a house sometimes is. It would be so odd if we got this townhouse because it's as if we've gone full circle, and come back to the first place that we fell in love with.

Plus, it has pretty much EVERYTHING we want in a house: two car garage, a gorgeous view, a huge master suite, upgraded kitchen, a fireplace and hardwood floors.

So, without further ado, I introduce you to our possible new home:
The front of the house. I love love LOVE the blue-ish grey of the siding...obviously, as it matches my car!

My dad, acting as Vanna White's stand-in, showcases the spacious tandem two car garage.

More garage--look at all that storage space for our bikes and...whatever else we're supposed to put in a garage.

The fireplace (gas) with built it bookcases. The way to my heart is through built-in bookcases (and Tiffany), I'm sure of it.

The view of the den, as from beside the fireplace.

 THE KITCHEN! It has the darker wood that Landon and I love, an island, the 42" cabinets, some of which have glass paneled fronts, and stainless steel appliances. Perfect! (There's also space from behind where the picture was taken for a breakfast nook, which I took a picture of, but it was really boring...just walls and a light fixture, so trust me that it's there!)

 The upstairs hallway coming from the master suite, looking directly into the laundry room. The 2nd bedroom is the doorway to the left.

The master bathroom with upgraded cabinets, dual vanity, jacuzzi tub and extra large shower. I would have taken more pictures, but the house has been winterized, and thus, the power was off. I did the best I could with what light I had!

The view from the master bedroom

This is what heaven looks like--a pond on the marsh, complete with fountain. Taken from the unscreened porch just off the kitchen.

The view in the other direction, also off of the back porch.

There aren't any other offers on the house, so we have a good chance of getting it. Keep your fingers crossed for us!! We should hear something within a day or two!