Sunday, June 30, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Onward!

I grew up in Kansas and one of the infamous groups Kansas is unfortunately known for is those members of the Westboro Baptist Church. They used to picket at my school primarily during in gay pride events and they are infamous for picketing funerals. I don't want to go into a rant as to what my true feelings are about this group, but that way of thinking is so beyond me that I was tempted to and did read Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church.

I thought it'd be more cult-like and it is to a point, but this person's story was more of how they ban you from relationships outside of the church and all the rules they have for women. It was a bit dull to tell you the truth. I don't agree with nor do I like cults, but I can't deny that they do fascinate me to a certain extent. I wanted more of the insider secrets, but really they just seem like a bunch of crazies; something I already knew.

On the movie front, I was able to add "The Bling Ring."

and "Monsters University" to my list.

Book #15: Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Laura Drain

Movie: #36: Monsters University
Movie #37: The Bling Ring

Sunday, June 16, 2013

50/50 Challenge: "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed

"Wild" is one of the most intriguing books I've read in awhile. Reading someone's true story always peaks my interest a little more because typically it's about someone who has beaten adversity to come out a better person on the other side.

Cheryl Strayed is an ordinary person who set out to do an extraordinary thing. She decided to travel, no hike, for 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. It is the trail that begins near the border of Mexico and goes clear up to near Canada. She didn't trek this whole way, but she went plenty far.

Her journey began after she literally watched her mother die at a young age of cancer. This happens in the first chapter and without even realizing it, I had tears streaming down my face. The devotion and desperation she talks of makes you want to hug your loved ones a little tighter. It makes you want to remember the importance of 'I love yous' and appreciation and affection that we give to others.

Her childhood wasn't a normal one (whose is?) but she grew up on what could be called a farm, but was even less so without running water. Her abusive father cut out on their family when Cheryl was very young, but she adored her mother. And her mother adored her.

After the death of her mother, her spirit broke. Prior to that Cheryl had married her best friend and just early into her 20s she did not know how to adjust to any of it. She went on a spree of drugs and adultery and ultimately a divorce (although it is clear with her writing how much admiration she has for her ex). To find her way back to herself, she decides she needs to hike this treacherous trail alone.

She researches the gear to get, saves up the money, plans her resupply boxes and different paths along the way. Her journey, the physical and mental, is described in such amazing detail that at times I could envision the trail she was on, the feelings she felt. How an amateur hiker set out and stayed committed to this endeavor is something more than inspiring. It's brave and stupid and fantastic.

I read this book in about a day and a half. It doesn't make me want to follow in her footsteps, at least not literally, but the courage and strength and willpower she depicted, it would be silly of me not to want the same.

Book #14: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Is Ya Happy?

I want you to know something and I want you to remember this going forward because I think it's fairly important -- being comfortable is not the same as being happy. Repeat it with me: being comfortable is not the same as being happy.

It's easy to be scared of the unknown. But what's even scarier is that people will stay in a situation that they don't enjoy because they are worried that whatever new thing pops up might be worse. But if you know something isn't making you happy, like if it is a factual thing, then why wouldn't you at least try for something else?

Example: I hate mint chocolate chip ice cream. But I love ice cream. However, if mint chocolate chip ice cream is the only option available to me than I'd rather have nothing.

Do you get what I'm saying?

Maybe not; maybe that wasn't the best example. But what I mean is don't settle for something you don't really want. The saying that something is better than nothing is not actually accurate. You have to base your future decisions on present fact. Ask yourself if you're happy. If I was to ask you that question, how would you respond?

If it falls in the category of "It Could Be Worse" than you are not happy, my friend. You are comfortable or worse, you may be miserable and that is unacceptable. This pertains to anything in your life whether it is work, a friendship, a relationship or just your day-to-day.

If you look at other people's lives and think they're so carefree and fun, newsflash, that can be your life too! Not to get all cheerleadery and inspirational poster, but you don't have to accept another person's decision of what they think is best for you. Be grateful for what you have, absolutely, but don't talk yourself out of extra happiness because you don't think you deserve it or because you don't want to risk it or because you feel happy enough.

I've taken a lot of risks in my life and they have paid off every single time. I still have so much left to learn, but I have gained the wisdom of this: mediocrity is not for me.

50/50 Challenge Update: Lucky Number Thirteen

For book #13 on my challenge list I read "Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by blogger/author Jenny Lawson. Her tales of her growing up in rural Texas with a father who brought home roadkill to stuff and a mom who allowed it without blinking an eye. There were parts where I actually laughed out loud like when describes her sister as Terminator in a cornfield. (She describes it much more witty than I.) And my favorite parts are of her conversations/arguments with her husband because they are so real. However, note to funny writers: please stop footnoting your writing. You're already funny without the added bits. After awhile those get annoying.

Currently, if I told you how many books are on my nightstand and on hold at the library you would think I am exaggerating. But with EW's summer reading list and B&N sending me daily emails for discount books on my Nook, what's a girl to do?

I'm not complaining. I'd rather have a list of books to read rather than trying to get suggestions from people who have no idea what I am in the mood for when half the time I'm not even sure myself.

My next challenge is "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed. I have some book club meetings coming up so I have to kick it in gear to read those too. So goes the pathetic problems of a book nerd. I'm sure if you are reading this blog on some level you can relate.

37 books to go...

Book #13: Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Best Job I Ever Had

The best job I ever had was when I was 17. I was a recent high school graduate, being free and loving life and spending my days as a lifeguard. Sure the training to get to that position was none too fun. I mean early morning, freezing cold, May temperatures weren't really ideal for treading water for five minutes while holding a brick. But when really is an ideal time for that? I felt like I was an extra in "Titanic." I'm sure my lips turned blue.

And why did I have to go through such training that would save people drowning in a lake when I knew the majority of my job was to twirl a whistle and yell at kids not to run on the wet, slippery sidewalk?

What better job is there than being a lifeguard at a small town pool? I woke up at noon to go to work at 1 only to get off at 5, maybe 6 or 7 for late swim, but rarely. While at work, I got to eat popsicles and Charleston Chews and then, get a tan while socializing with my friends.

Of course, I kept an eye on potential drowning parties, but none occurred. Zero. The highlight of my rescue skills was telling people they could only go one at a time on the diving board. And to assure them they weren't drowning. I had little to no responsibility and I got to do something I'd probably normally do anyway.

Not since then have I had a job which I looked forward to as much as being a certified lifeguard even though I'm pretty sure I wasn't equipped to save anyone's life. I knew what I had and even now as I pass through summer after summer, job after job, I still think back to the best job I ever had as a city pool lifeguard. 17 and the livin' is easy...

*girl in photo looks much more prepared than I ever did

Sunday, June 9, 2013

50/50 Challenge: Three Movies, One Week

Sometimes when I plan things I just 'yes' to everything and before I know it I book myself full and never take time to rest. As a result of this, I now have a cold. I feel I never get sick anymore unless it's due to not getting enough sleep. However, the plus side is that I'm usually doing something fun!


Last week I saw three movies in three days. Two of three were great, and the other one was at least short enough to make not be too pissed off.

"The Kings of Summer" is a smaller film that will probably be swallowed up by all the other blockbusters, but deserves a look or at least a rental when it comes to DVD.

"The Purge" was the scary movie that I actually gave a chance despite my dislike for scary movies in general. It seemed like such an interesting, if not unbelievable, premise. But it ended in disappointment. Awful. 85 minutes long and I feel like I spent a lifetime trying to get through the movie only to be uninspired by the ending.

Finally, "The Internship" has been under a bit of scrutiny by the critics by repeating the "Wedding Crashers" formula but so what if Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn brought back their bro times. It works! They're hilarious together and are quick and witty with their lines. Plus, seeing Google is awesome. I am fascinated by that place.

I'm seeing "Man of Steel" this week, one that I've been looking forward to and have "Before Sunrise" on hold at the library because I've never seen it and now want to watch all three. What good movies have you seen lately?

Movie #33: The Kings of Summer
Movie #34: The Purge
Movie #35: The Internship

(photo from:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I Watched 'Requiem for a Dream' and I Hated It

When I was in college 'Requiem for a Dream' came out and I remember one of my friends going on and on about the brilliance of it. Since then I have heard the same about the movie and about director Darren Aronofsky. However, I disagree. Maybe I'm not artsy or intellectual enough to appreciate it, but I feel it is a gratuitous movie that made me sick to my stomach. Maybe that's the whole point. Who knows? Who cares?

It's a movie about drugs and its affect on people, what they drive people to do, how it destroys people both physically and mentally, etc. etc. It's a strange movie from start to finish and really should be used more as a "Don't Do Drugs" campaign for teenagers. It's harsh reality, which film lovers find beautiful and meaningful and raw. I've read blogs about the movie and they find the genius in different screen captures (or other film technology that is way above my head), but the bottom line is: I did not like the movie. At all. I didn't appreciate it or find it relevant. And maybe that makes me look like a girl that doesn't get it; maybe I don't.

One highlight in the whole movie is that Ellen Burstyn gives a remarkable performance as she scared the shit out of me with her portrayal of Sara Goldfarb, a woman who believes she has been chosen for a tv show and wants to lose weight before appearing, so she picks up some pills. Pills that I'm assuming is some sort of speed that makes her have hallucinations about her refrigerator.

Other than that, I don't recommend the movie. I also don't recommend "Black Swan" for which Natalie Portman won the Oscar. My enjoyment of films might vary quite a bit from the mainstream, but hey, you can't please 'em all, right?

Movie #32: Requiem for a Dream