Posted in California Livin'

This One is for All the Parents Out There, Part Two











You know that part in Pinocchio where he goes to Pleasure Island and sees the boys having the time of their lives and then they start turning into donkeys? That’s what VidCon reminded me of (minus the donkey tails). My Curls got to meet and listen to her favorite Youtubers. Red went crazy for all the obstacle courses. It was a Winter Wonderland, Carnival, and Disneyland all brought to you by sponsors looking to catch this generation’s attention.

I hope you find passion and happiness this weekend!

Posted in Pop Culture, Word Therapy

Friday Favorites: We Survived 2017

The older I get, the more the cliché rings true: Time flies. For once, I am glad 2017 flew by. There is the government and its unending mission to destroy those who need help, numerous personal life changes, and my kids refuse to stop growing no matter what I say. I am grateful, lucky, and happy for many reasons. Below are my favorite movies, tv shows, and books of 2017. Are they are on your list? What were your favorites?

Favorite Movies:

Get Out-Get Out is on the short list to be an Oscar nominee for good reason. Jordan Peele directing, outstanding cast, and a story that will be burned into my brain forever. It scared the hot tea out of me with its brilliance.

It-I watched the miniseries of Stephen King’s It as a kid. I can still see Richard Masur’s severed head in the refrigerator. So when I saw the trailer for the movie version of King’s novel you would think (incorrectly) that I would run the other direction. I was all in for the delightful cast of kids (Finn Wolfhard as potty mouthed Richie made me giggle every time he talked), handsome-underneath-all-that-makeup Bill Skarsgard as insane clown Pennywise, and the dread I knew I would feel watching the film. It didn’t let me down or the full crowd that showed up for the 10 am showing on opening day.

Lady Bird-Greta Gerwig’s story of teen Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson made me want to run home and hug my daughter so tightly. I lost count of all the moments where I said to myself, “That is so going to be Scarlet and I.” Christine’s relationship with her mom Marion (Laurie Metcalf) is complicated, heartbreaking, and most of all, loving. Both actresses Sairose Ronan and Metcalf deserve Oscars.

The Shape of Water-On my short list of directors where I don’t need to see the trailer to want to see their new movie is Guillermo del Toro. Pan’s Labyrinth and The Orphanage are two of my go tos when I am asked to recommend a superb story with a dark twist. The Shape of Water is an adult fairy tale where every scene I felt like I was floating. Each shot is dreamy, Sally Hawkins is our princess, and del Toro’s long time collaborator Doug Jones is the fish man she falls in love with.

The Big Sick-Even when a movie makes my favorite list, that doesn’t mean I will be able to watch it over and over again. But with The Big Sick I know it will be added to the rotation of movies that I will find on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon, stop whatever I am doing, and watch the evolution of the love between Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) and Emily (Zoe Kazan). It is based on the real life story between his wife and him. Its honesty will make you laugh and cry.

Favorite TV Shows:

Jane the Virgin-Still a (mostly) light, funny, and sweet show about writer Jane and her family, Telenovela style. Everybody is a standout but Jaime Camil as Jane’s father Rogelio steals every scene he’s in.

Gilmore Girls-I started bingeing this show about mother Loreli (Lauren Graham) and daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel) over the summer. I needed a show that I can have on with the kids around and something to balance all the dark stuff I watched. It’s portrayal of family is the most genuine one I have seen on television. Writers never try to make Lorelai’s relationship with her parents better to give its viewers all the feels. They also don’t take hard situations in the story lines and provide happy endings. My daughter has gotten hooked with me and I love that she gets to see a young girl who reads everything (just like her) and works hard become a Ivy League college student.

Favorite Books:

Little Fires Everywhere-This story of two very different families who are on opposite sides of a custody battle made me question my privilege and how it influences my decisions. Celeste Ng’s story was touted all over social media by all authors and is a Good Reads choice for 2017.

The Hate You Give-I continue to read, listen, and learn.

The Glass Castle-When I first tried to read this true story of Jeannette Walls I put it down because of how sad it was. But once I read that it was being made into a movie with Brie Larson, I gave it another shot. I finished it within a week, not allowing myself the patience of wanting to find out what happened to her family and their unconventional way of life.

I hope you have a go to list of things that make you happy and you get to enjoy them over the weekend. Thanks for reading!

Posted in Pop Culture

Friday Film: Mudbound

Experiencing other people’s lives and seeing what they go through is essential to growing as a person and having empathy.  Watching movies is one way to do this.  Film is a reflection of our society, whether you are watching a documentary about the The White Helmets or watching a film based on historical events.  So when I told my husband I wanted to watch Mudbound on Netflix and he agreed, I was thrilled.  I had only read good things across the board.  But I was not prepared for the feelings of devastation and conflict I had by the time the end credits rolled.  It has been two weeks since the viewing and I am still torn up.

Mudbound is directed by Dee Rees and stars Jason Clarke, Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, and Jason Mitchell.  It tells the story of two families in the early forties in Mississippi.  The McAllans, Laura and Henry, are forced to take up residency in a home not of their choosing after being swindled out of their dream home.  Henry’s father Pappy (Jonathan Banks) lives with them.  The Jacksons are Hap (Rob Morgan) and Florence (Mary J. Blige) and their children.  The Jacksons work for the McAllans.  The relationship between the two families is amiable at best, with Pappy always showing them who is boss with his racist remarks and orders.  Henry is a weak man who doesn’t stand up to his father and appears to be following in his footsteps.

Henry’s brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) returns from WWII a drunk with PTSD.  The Jacksons’ son Ronsel (Jason Mitchell) also returns a soldier of war but has gained confidence and strength after being regarded as a hero overseas.  When the two men meet and form a friendship, it presents trouble in the obvious ways you would think in the south in the forties.

From the first disgusting and awful word that Pappy uses to address the Jacksons, I hated him like I have never hated a character before.  As the story progresses I could feel myself dreading what was going to happen next.

I suspect it will be a long time before I can think about Mudbound and not want to cry.  Just like with Ta-Nahesi Coates’ Between the World and Me and The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, Mudbound opened my eyes that much more to an awful reality that is part of American history.  I feel anger, sadness, hopelessness, and shame.  A film that can have such a dramatic effect on its audience should be shown in history classes, not just theaters or Netflix.

Posted in Pop Culture

Friday Favorite: Dear White People (Netflix Binge)

Dear White People is a Netflix original show based on the 2014 movie of the same name. The story is set at a college with a group of diverse students. Spike Lee’s 1995 Higher Learning failed to do what Dear White People succeeds at: Showing that your experiences are dependent on the color of your skin without getting in your face and coming across as preachy.

I had read and heard enough about the show that I decided I would make it my next treadmill binge after I finished 13 Reasons Why. Sam (Logan Browning) feels it is her job as a black student and radio DJ to make the white college students aware of their privilege. The show has humor and a bit of soap opera drama. But its underlying message is serious and each episode showcases that. When I read The Hate You Give, Starr had to be two different people. One person when she is is with her friends from her neighborhood and a different person when she is with her friends from her private school. Sam has the same problem when she begins a romantic relationship.

Episode 5 brings the tension to a head on campus. I was aware of what the episode was about but it still upset me to my core. The injustice of the incident frustrates me. And as somebody who didn’t feel her rights were taken from her until this past November, I feel ashamed.

Dear White People also deals with blackface, coming out, and interracial relationships. There needs to be more shows like this. As in, quality programming that educates.

I hope you have a go to list of things that make you happy and you get to enjoy them over the weekend.  Thanks for reading!

Posted in Word Therapy

Friday Favorite (aka Where I blabber about what I love): The Hate You Give

It has been a long 3 ½ months. I’m angry. I feel helpless. Reality is like humidity with its oppression. The first month I stayed strong. I donated. I was an armchair activist to the nth degree. I marched. But as time has gone by I find myself going inward. I still donate when I can. I share stuff that I feel is important on social media (calling your reps, bringing attention to special elections). But with the investigation of Russian’s involvement with the election dragging, it’s hard to stay motivated. What I have continue to do is to stay informed and read. This week I finished The Hate You Give by A.C. Thomas.

The Hate You Give is the story of 16 year old Starr. One night she is leaving a party with her friend Khalil when they are pulled over by a police officer for a broken tail light. By the end of the encounter with the officer, Khalil is dead and Starr is the only witness.

The book is a young adult novel. A lot of popular YA novels have white female protagonists (Katniss, Bella, and Tris just to name a few). Starr is black. She lives in a run down neighborhood that has seen better days. And her story could have come from this week’s news. It is a story that needs to be heard and not denied. The epidemic of black kids being killed by police officers has been around longer than I have been alive. With social media and body cameras these days it has become more high profile. But yet this is the first time I have picked up a young adult novel and read about a teen black girl and what she faces.

I read a review of The Hate You Give and decided to check it out. It is a good book. I cared about the characters. The story made me sad but I wasn’t shocked by the events because I read the news. I hate reading that anybody has to feel afraid when they see a cop. Or that their mom and dad have to teach them how to act around police officers so nothing bad will happen to them. I was brought up believing that they are here to protect us. I don’t believe that all cops are bad. In fact, I know that the majority of them aren’t. But why isn’t that same viewpoint given to people of color?

I want to scream how unfair it is and throw a temper tantrum. But I know that won’t do a damn bit of good. So I will continue to read, listen, and educate myself. I will donate to those organizations that are affected. I am only one person. But if I can change my perspective and hopefully pass that onto my own kids, I know I can keep fighting.

I hope you have a go to list of things that make you happy and you get to enjoy them over the weekend. Thanks for reading!