a collection of certainly special, uniquely unusual, and equally momentous thoughts: memoirs of me

Friday, January 23, 2015

2014 Annual Movie Review

I saw more movies in the theater in 2014 than I have in any other year of my life, thiry-five to be exact. And just in case you're wondering that's about $437.50.

Not ashamed.

I should also mention that out of the 35 movies I saw in the theater, I went by myself to 9 of them. Also, not ashamed.

Here's my review of them, as I saw them in chronological order and ranked on a scale from 1 to 10:

Enough Said

7- I actually already wrote about my feeling toward this movie here. Suffice it to say that I remember that night hobbling into the theater without crutches and I still remember the lessons I learned from this movie. They were good ones and have served me well this year as I've traversed the dating roads in my life.


7- I saw this film at the IMAX theater at the National History Museum with my friend Susie Baer. It was a short 1-hour film but on a screen that big, was worth the $15. I've never traveled to the Holy Land but seeing the landscapes, the aerial views, and hearing the sounds of that most Holy City, was really inspiring. I hope to walk those streets some day.

Captain Phillips

8- I went with a handful of friends to the Arlington Drafthouse to see Captain Phillips, which was definitely a different atmosphere, especially to see such a high-intensity film such as this. The Drafthouse is one of those places where there are tables and office chairs and you can order dinner while you watch the film. Because of this, the theater isn't quite pitch dark. Maybe this is a good thing because Captain Phillips had my heart racing for most of its two hours. What a movie! It made me never want to step foot on any sort of boat again (especially near Somalia) but I feel I may have to get over that. I was impressed by the acting of not only Tom Hanks, but the actors portraying the Somali pirates. The fact that this film is a true story gets my heart thumping even more.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

5- I mean, this was your typical run-of-the-mill action movie starring Chris Pine. I've always said I don't need a lot from a movie to be entertained and this was about on par. Nothing too memorable, but I will never complain about watching Chris Pine any day.

Labor Day

8- Okayyyyyyy. OKAYYYYYY! I have something to say about this movie. I saw it as part of a double-header on a snow day here in DC. I went in having seen the preview and knowing I typically enjoy Kate Winslet, and then I was thrown this movie with more sexual tension (read tension, not actual sex) than any other movie in recent memory and I was blown away in a good way. I could see why some (or most) people wouldn't give this film a second thought or maybe even dislike it, but not me. I loved, repeat, loved this movie, and I have watched it twice on Netflix recently. Kate Winslet is brilliant. I think it's a beautiful love story of hope and vulnerability. And it made me feel. This movie is about love, real love. And I loved that.

Monuments Men

5- Like I said above, this was part-two of my double-header that included Labor Day. Maybe it was because I had just seen Labor Day or because the movie wasn't that great, but I didn't love it. Such a shame considering it had an all-star cast. There was one scene set on Christmas Day that had me almost crying but that was the only high point. This movie just fell flat.


7- Um, Liam Neeson. Which reminds me, I need to see Taken 3 stat.


7- It would be hard to be Divergent and have to be released so closely after The Hunger Games. Two very similar types of movies set in a dystopian state. I'm not saying I didn't like Divergent, because I did, but it was nothing compared to The Hunger Games. I read the book and I did feel like they did a good job adapting it to the screen and of course I loved watching the male lead, so I'll be interested in how well the rest of the movies do.

Million Dollar Arm

8- One of my favorite movies of the year. Just a really good, feel-good type of movie that leaves you smiling and wanting to do a little more to serve people in this world. Jon Hamm is cast well, the three Indian cricket-turned-baseball players are endearing and entertaining, and the sports to romance ratio in on point. This is the type of movie you can show your family and not worry about it. Definitely a film worth watching or owning.

Belle (2x)

9- This was probably the biggest surprise movie of the year for me. Yes, I had seen the trailer and thought it was your typical Pride and Prejudice style movie, but it ended up being so much more than that. In fact, I still wish I could get my hands on the script of this movie just so I can memorize some of the monologues. The writing is what got me. There was a good deal of romance which will always make me smile, but in the end, this movie was less about the romance and more about the subject of freedom. The freedom to speak one's mind, the freedom to love, and freedom from slavery.


3- I honestly don't remember a thing from this movie. That could have been because I had just started dating someone and he held my hand for the first time as the movie started. I was a wee bit distracted after that.

The Fault in Our Stars (2x)

9- As far as book-to-screen adaptations go, this one did not disappoint. I read John Green's book and finished it with tears streaming down my face and an empty box of tissues, and I ended the movie that way too. Loved the male and female leads (Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley) and the soundtrack also became one of the favorites. I didn't mind that the plot is based around two teenagers who have cancer (I don't need a perfect ending to like the movie) so I was perfectly pleased with this one. "Pain demands to be felt" is now a personal mantra.

The Edge of Tomorrow

8- Where did this movie come from? I was never expecting to see it but then everyone said it was so good so I moseyed down to the theater by myself one night and was thrilled by this movie. Typically I'm not a huge Tom Cruise fan (he drives me a little cray cray) but I feel just the opposite about Emily Blunt. Can I say girl crush? This was definitely one of my favorite action movies of the year.

The Grand Seduction

4- On the other hand, the Grand Seduction was probably my biggest disappointment. Guys, Taylor Kitsch is in it. TAYLOR KITSCH! DO YOU KNOW WHO THAT IS? TIM RIGGINS, OF COURSE! And with a new, sexy hairdo and all-grown-up wardrobe, this movie promised to be somewhat entertaining. BUT I FELL ASLEEP IT WAS SO BORING! Two hours felt like four in the theater. I should also note, I had promised my bestie, Whit, that we'd see this one together, but when she went with some friends to the lake one Saturday with the rest of the world and I couldn't go because I had some sort of appointment that day, I went to see it without her. I came clean the next week and after a little bit of graveling so she wouldn't be upset, we're besties again. Good thing the movie was so awful and I saved her 2 hours and $13 bucks.

Guardians of the Galaxy

7- If you haven't already noticed, I usually shy away from any type of children's or animated movie. They just don't do it for me. I thought this movie would fit into that category because of the animated characters that hold most of the lines. So when Guardians came out and it got rave reviews, I surprised myself that I went for it. What's even more interesting is that I wasn't disappointed. Chris Pratt kills it in this movie and I found it humorous and fun. Definitely lived up to the hype.

The Hundred Foot Journey (2x)

9- Another simply fabulous movie and a feel-gooder as well. I think it was really well done, I found myself falling in love with the characters, and I immediately wanted to eat Indian food afterward. Another one that should be owned and shown to your family.

The Giver

6- I know the book is a classic but I'm not sure the movie will be remembered that way. Didn't love it although I will give credit to Jeff Bridges for his role in the film. I think he was the only one worth remembering.

If I Stay

7- The only decent chick flick I saw this year. It's no Nicholas Sparks movie but whatever.

The Maze Runner (2x)

8- Okay so the first time I saw this movie I went by myself to the theater. Not only that, but I ended up being the only one in the entire theater. Talk about suspense! This movie had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end! I haven't read the books, although they're on my list now, so I was pleasantly entertained by the plot because I didn't know what was going to happen next. I am now happily looking forward to movies 2 & 3.

The Good Lie

7- This movie felt eerily similar to Million Dollar Arm only the boys were from Africa and the leading actor was female instead of male. Nonetheless, an important story to tell and a do-good movie from the start. I have another girl crush on Reese Witherspoon and I liked her in this more mature role.

St. Vincent

7- The only reason I went to see this one was because Melissa McCarthy and Bill Murray were in it. It was fine. A few laughs here and there. I'm not mad about paying for it.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

8- This was the closest thing I saw to a children's movie in 2014 AND I LOVED IT! Maybe that means I need to see more children's movies or something. Whitney and I were laughing throughout the whole thing. But then again, Steve Carrell played Alexander's father and Jennifer Gardner his mother. The comedic timing was perfect in this movie and I enjoyed it so much more than I had planned.

Interstellar (2x)

10- I've said it once and I'll say it again, Interstellar was the best in-theater movie experience I've ever had in my entire life. Do you get that? Did I make myself clear? Love isn't strong enough of a word to describe how much I love this movie. Phenomenal. Just a heads up, I actually saw it again, a third time, in 2015, so that makes me a freak probably.

The Best of Me

4- Hands down the worst Nicholas Sparks movie I've seen to date. The ending??? Stop. It was so bad.

Mockingjay: Part 1

8- I didn't like the third Hunger Games book so what gives me the right to like the third movie? That's right, I didn't like the third movie. I only give this one such a high rating because I still love Jennifer Lawrence. Peeta looks a little shabby in this one, which is hard for me (I will always be team Peeta even if he's shorter than me) so I'm hoping for a good comeback in the last movie. Why oh why do they make us wait a year for everything??

The Theory of Everything

6- I didn't like this movie for two reasons: 1) I realized I just don't love Stephen Hawking, the person. I don't agree with him on most things and I don't love how he treated Jane and 2) More than any other movie this year, I felt like I was sitting in the theater for 5 years. SNOOZE FEST. Seriously people, two hours felt like a literal eternity.


2- I know I said The Best of Me was the worst Nicholas Sparks movie I've seen, well Annie was hands down the worst movie I saw all year. No kidding! Everything felt extremely forced and cliche, the new songs were below par, and the only times I laughed were when they weren't trying to be funny. This was the only movie of the entire year that I'm mad I paid money for.

The Imitation Game

8- Pretty, pretty good Benedict Cumberbatch. I think I can also safely say that this was the first time Kiera Knightley didn't make me roll my eyes. She still has a weird accent, in my opinion, but I think she was cast well. I was most surprised by the strong homosexual agenda toward the end but all in all, a great movie with great acting.


8- I mean, the whole world was waiting for this movie to come out for like a year. The trailors, the news articles- Unbroken, Unbroken, Unbroken everywhere! But I think that was its downfall. There was all this hype that it would blow us away, blow us away in a manner similar to what we felt when we all read the book. And it just didn't do that. Sorry to say, it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. Not saying it wasn't a fabulous movie with some pretty intense scenes and themes, but I wanted it to be a 10 when it was just an 8.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My dear Aunt Laurie

**I originally wrote this post on January 20, 2014, when we thought Laurie had just days to live. She held on for another year and finally lost her 8-year battle with cancer last night.** 

Nine years ago when I was a junior in high school my cousin, Seth, was killed in a car accident. He was texting while driving and was killed after he rolled his car off the side of the road. His passing was particularly hard on me as Seth was only six days older than me and we had grown up together, our houses only 20 minutes apart. It was also particularly hard for his twin sister Kaylee, as it was for the rest of our family.

When I went home for the holidays this year I gathered with that side of my family. My cousin Kaylee was there, as well as her mom and dad and younger brother Landon. But you see, tragedy has struck that family again. My aunt Laurie has cancer. Tumors fill her body and it is only a matter of days before I receive a phone call that she has passed away. She is just over 50 years old and will pass decades before her time, leaving behind the rest of us to pick up the pieces and summon the faith to continue on. She will pass through the veil, leaving behind her broken body and will be reunited with her son, Seth, never to be separated.

Eight months ago my brother and sister-in-law welcomed their first child, Beckham, into this world. Beckham made me an aunt and is the light of my family's life. He is a little bit of sunshine. A little spirit housed in a perfect body, with a happy disposition and a smile that never stops. He has been the biggest blessing for my family. He has softened us. He has brought us together.

I have been close to tears thinking of the crossroads at which my family stands right now. We are all experiencing and struggling with seeing our dear Laurie suffer through her last days on earth. We are preparing ourselves, each saying slow goodbyes. Conversely we are warmed at the thought of new life and perfect babies who come to the earth fresh from our Father in Heaven. One soul beginning it's life on earth, another finishing.

Beckham and Laurie have a special bond right now. Laurie anxiously waits for my brother and sister-in-law to bring him over. He lights up when he sees her and she does the same. There is a special tug on my heartstrings as I see them together. Both so close to the veil but on opposite sides of their mortal existence.

It is times like these in which I am sure of the existence of God. It is times like these when I kneel in gratitude for His plan- a plan of happiness, a plan for families to stay together forever. I imagine the time when we all pass through the veil and are reunited in that Celestial place, never to be separated again.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I made some goals and the goal is to keep my goals

Never in my life has goal setting come easy to me. Does it come easy to anyone? On one hand, I’ve always been one to challenge myself and push myself to do hard things but to sit down and write out goals…well, no.

2014 was different though. I set some goals at the beginning of the year and although I wasn’t very diligent in re-evaluating them every couple of weeks or anything, those goals did sit in the back of my mind and slowly but surely I worked on them. As the year was coming to a close I found myself working harder to accomplish all of my goals and sure enough, on December 14, 2014, I fulfilled every single one of the New Year’s goals I had set. I felt an exhilarating sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. I felt like I had actually achieved something in 2014 and it felt really, really good.  As I look back 2014 was one of the best years of my life. Seriously, it rocked.

So with that in mind I’ve decided to see what I can achieve in 2015. I’ve been rolling some goals around in my mind and with a desire of keeping myself a little more accountable, I present to you my 2015 goals. Now a few of them I’m keeping private. I mean, who really wants to know the intricacies of my dating goals? Or exactly how I’m going to lose the 10 lbs. that needs to come off? No one but me J

Here’s the rest:

Travel: Go on one international trip

This is already tentatively planned: I’m doing Iceland with my bestie Whitney.  If anyone wants to tag along, the more the merrier.

Dating: Patience in the process

I guess I can share part of my dating goals: I want to be more patient. Not just patient that I will get married- I’m not worried about not getting married, I’ve always been sure that I would at some point- it’s more the kind of patience that is required as a relationship is blossoming. More often than not I want the initial dating process to go faster. I want to jump in quickly and I’ve found that sometimes I can sabotage things by doing this. So the goal is to enjoy the process. Enjoy the game, enjoy the getting to know one another, enjoy the butterflies that come when the person texts or calls and asks for a date. Enjoy those little things and be patient.

Spiritual: Prepare and plan for Fast Sunday every month

This might be the hardest goal I’ve set for myself. I have never enjoyed fasting and although it’s extremely hard for me I’ve decided to tackle this one head on. My goal is to fast every single month and do so with real purpose. I’m putting it on my calendar. I’m planning ahead. I’m not making excuses. I figure it’s time for me to really live this commandment so I’m taking this one by the horns. It’s a little hard to admit that I struggle with one of the basic commandments so that’s why by the end of 2015 I don’t want to struggle with it anymore. I hope to see and understand the power of fasting by the end of this year.

Financial: Create and save a 3-month emergency fund

I should admit that one of my 2014 goals was to pay off every cent of debt that I had and boy oh boy, did that one feel good at the end of the year.  I can’t stress enough how great it feels to know my extra money will be going straight into my savings account now instead of paying off credit cards. Getting out of the red and into the black was something that I worked extremely hard on for not just one year, but two, and I’m so excited to start 2015 this way. So the next goal is to set aside and save a 3-month emergency fund. I’ve found that there’s no better feeling than having a cushion of money reserved for emergency use.

Intellectual: Read 12 books

I struggled to come up with an intellectual goal for this year. Last year my goal was the same, read 12 books, and I couldn’t decide if I should change that goal to something different. In the end I decided that I really enjoyed having a goal to read and that reading has become really important to me in the last couple of years so I’m keeping it the same. Read twelve books, get lost in them, read books that interest and excite me, and I’m sure somehow the getting-smarter part will come along.

Health/Fitness: lose 10 lbs. healthily, squat 100 lbs. at 10 reps

2014 started off a little rocky after I broke my ankle the day after Christmas and spent the next three months recuperating. However, it turned out to be the biggest blessing in disguise because since I couldn’t do cardio for several months I turned to weight lifting. Since then, weight lifting has become an exercise haven for me and I can’t get enough of it. I’ve found that my body has transformed in ways that I’ve always wanted but have never been able to achieve through running or other cardio. Now I love going to gym several times a week and look forward to it because I love the feel of strengthening my muscles and seeing them become toned. Not just that, I’ve learned that I can lift heavy weights and the heavier I lift, the more I like the results. No, I’m not planning on becoming a body builder. In fact, that’s the biggest myth out there. Instead, my goal is to be able to squat 100 pounds for 10 repetitions. Right now I’m at 65 lbs. and I know that with a little diligence, squatting 100 lbs. 10x won’t be a problem. The plan is to lose 10 lbs. along the way.

Emotional: Eternal optimism

Last but not least, another goal that is being transferred from 2014: maintain the eternal optimism that I have tried to let permeate my life. This is a lesson that I learned from my beloved mission president and one that has served me well since. I believe in eternal optimism. I believe that faith and optimism go hand in hand. I believe that no trial is too large, no challenge too great that we should resort to despair or discouragement. I think that’s why 2014 was so good to me. I believed in faith, I chose to let faith guide me, I didn’t worry about this or that, I believed that the good things I wanted would come in God’s timing. And you know what? Heavenly Father hasn’t let me down yet.

Here’s to a rockin’ 2015!