Throwback Thursday: of Wind and Poetry 10/12

Poetry: a structure in art that needs none; Yet that is always my struggle.

It is a joy but I’ve been without muse as I find myself shallow to amuse,

That which is a life uninspired; quiet and dry and left feeling tired.

Yet why don’t I? Go on, go on, go on:

I appreciate the wind today, Even when it bites.

Counting each blessing With pink cheeks and nose.

The wind is a wonderful thing;

One last time before the frost It awakens what was dead,

Leaves abandon home Yet here they dance again.

Even the shadows sway To the song of the breeze

Everything is alive this day A body of water in peace at bay;

They too receive a gift Of crashing, rolling rhythms, Drowning out city sounds.

Oh clever, clever wind, We are forever in your debt.

Even birds under your power Today they still owe breath.

And as I count each blessing, Your power grows stronger yet.10614_379733685435833_1669890470_n

And I know it is time I move on; Blown away against my will;

Respect and gratitude, always, To that which was my muse.

And I’ll work harder still To chase and embrace; to choose,

Hoping to awaken the strangest of myself soon.

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That Time I Had Cancer…

After the fears, after the tears

I lay still, I lay silent

I see nothing, I see pointlessness

Killers breaking silence

– March 6th, 2014 –

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Life as a hypochondriac is never easy… one small symptom and then another will cause a sense of worry only comparable to a splinter. It’s something small, yet impossible to ignore… endlessly annoying and many times painful, but always there nonetheless.

This problem grew (/began?) in 2011, when I was “diagnosed” with acid reflux. I’ve decided I don’t believe in acid reflux, at least for myself, because I’d like to think it’s simply a mixture of poor diet and anxiety. The regular and always uncomfortable nausea has led to my severe and ever constant emetophobia. (Thanks, internet, for teaching me that one… but it comforts me that I’m not alone.) And every time it happens, I just ask myself “Do I feel sick because I am or because I’m afraid of being sick?” And still I can’t answer… even though I never get sick. Sooo… did I just answer myself? Nah.

From nausea to chronic sinus infections (thanks dad) to tendonitis… I’m prone to complaints, and an easy target for jokes and for not being taken seriously, ever. I get it… I’ve got some drama in me! But if I knew how to shut this part off in my brain, trust me, I would have YESTERDAY… and then some, because the events of last month were sobering on a completely new level.

ImageFebruary 9th: Just minding my own business – in the shower – when I ran my hand over my neck to feel a bulging lump. My stomach dropped, my pulse accelerating, and I felt a sense of doom as my fingers gently massaged over the flexible gel-like bulge.

CANCER.

The word washed over my mind like a tsunami. A countless number of fake conversations ran through my mind as I tried to rinse out my conditioner. Is this real? I’ve never had a LUMP before… lumps are real. Cancer.

I snapchatted a few people and was reassured time and time again that it was nothing. I had coworkers feel it the next day, “it’s just a knot!” no, this was not a knot. A week later and the lump was still there and of the same size. I showed my dad and he seemed only slightly concerned. We all agreed it was a lymph node and my sinus and allergy issues have been acting up lately, maybe it was nothing. I decided to just wait it out and put in to the back of my mind. A splinter.

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March 1st: Coincidence that I had applied for health care at just the right moment? Perhaps… but regardless, I got a fat stack of providers and an insurance card on March 1st and immediately went to schedule my first physical and dental cleaning in years! (Not having insurance as a hypochondriac sucks by the way, just another layer of worry.)

March 5th: My day off, and a beautiful day at that. I had a long list of items on my to do list as I boarded the #6 bus. I love a long bus ride on a sunny day. First, I read Game of Thrones for awhile but then decided to just look out the window at all the beautiful South Minneapolis homes instead. I finally reached my new doctor’s office to go in for my physical. I HATE physicals… but it had been quite awhile and preventative care is free on my plan. So I went in and did this and that and it all sucked like it should. And then the lump came to mind, and I actually had almost forgotten to mention it… but my doctor felt it and suddenly her demeanor changed.

Earlier in the appointment she asked if I’d like blood work done which I, obviously, declined. She then insisted we do blood work and left. I’d never had the urge to cry like a baby quite like that. I’m used to being paranoid, I’m used to friends and family saying, “It’s nothing… you’re fine.” but I’d never had a doctor act quite like that.

The blood work wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I still felt very unlike myself walking out of the appointment. “Is this actually happening?” I didn’t feel like myself. I texted some people, looking for comfort, and ended up going to Marshall’s (the next thing on my to do list) and spending way too much money… still feeling very strange, holding tightly to my receipt thinking, “If I have cancer, I can just return it.” I decided to end the day early, googling Lymphoma on the bus ride home.

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I got off at Walgreens to pick up my new birth control when I got a call from the doctor. I quickly exited the long pharmacy line and started to walk home as she told me that my test results came back abnormal. Red blood count… HIGH. Hemoglobin… HIGH. Hematocrit… HIGH. Platelet count… LOW. Referral to a specialist for further testing… a blood specialist inside the cancer unit. FUCK.

With nothing but two massive Marshall’s bags to comfort me, I called my mom and sobbed what the doctor told me. And I probably said the word lymphoma about a hundred times. I spoke to my dad and my sister too, and they all seemed way too calm about the situation. I cried through the back roads of my neighborhood until I couldn’t cry anymore. I don’t remember what I did that evening, but it didn’t involve food or alcohol or anything, really. All I remember was feeling very unusual, very numb.

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March 6th: “Today my life changed and I’m still in a state of shock and fear. The unknown of the whole thing is the scariest part. My life has been changing faster than I could even notice lately, and the best way to describe what happened today… well, it feels like a huge iceberg has crashed before me, blocking my path forward. Icy and dark.”

I couldn’t get into the oncologist for almost a week, and those next 6 days absolutely sucked. I decided to call in sick and go stay at my parents house for the night because, when I’m sad, there is nothing I want more than to cuddle with my dogs. So I wallowed about for a day and then realized that wasn’t going to get me very far. I had to keep going.

I practiced how to tell my coworkers why I didn’t come in the other day, and how to talk about the subject lightheartedly, and how to sound optimistic. And in reality, being in my same environment with the same people was the best thing I could do. When I wasn’t around them, I turned back into this hallow fearful self that I had never met until now. I was going to be the most uninspirational cancer patient out there. The stress wore down on me as I went to bed every night and woke up every morning with the same loud, thundering heartbeat… never ceasing or stopping. I found some peace in yoga class, but still… my heart raced. All. Week. A constant and hurried thud in my ears and chest.

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March 12th: My oncology appointment! Is it weird to say that I was excited? If there is one thing I’ve discovered about the medical exploration process, it’s that it’s all too tedious. But all the same, I just wanted was to know. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?

The nurse was very comforting and the doctor even said cancer was the worst case scenario and an unlikely one at that. He also observed my lump had decreased in size about 1/8 cm! Things were looking up. I went to have my blood taken and wasn’t worried at all since the last blood test was no big deal. There was even a picture of a puppy to look at this time! But then they took a LOT of blood… and I mean A. LOT. I got very nauseous and lightheaded and it became an embarrassing ordeal involving ginger ale and a hot male nurse. So I officially hate getting my blood taken.

March 13th: Off to my second (or third?) phase of tests! Once again, the nicest sweetest nurse (who tried to hook me up with her son) was helping me prepare for my scan. After the previous day’s blood work, my arm was left swollen, bruised, and in pain, so when I found out I needed an IV for the scan I was not happy. Supposedly, my left arm’s veins are just no good for poking, but I was not about to have her jab an IV into my black and blue arm. I had to beg her to try my bad vein first and was prepared to run otherwise. It all worked out. She injected dye into my blood to help everything appear on the scan – very high tech, very weird feeling.

ImageI was feeling optimistic. Now I just had to wait. But my heart still raced on out of control. It was that night at work when I began feeling a strange, pinching pain in my chest, over my heart.

I tried doing deep breathes to get to bed that night, I put on soothing music, tried drinking water, tried massaging over my heart. Suddenly I thought, “This is it. I’m doing to die. I’m going to fall asleep with a racing heart and chest pain and never wake up.” So I prayed. I prayed for forgiveness, because I suddenly decided I was not going to make it through the night and wanted to be forgiven if this was the end of it all for me.

March 14th: I woke up! First I was relieved, and then I realized my heartbeat ringing in my ears and pulsing through my whole body. There was a work meeting, and I needed to go. I tried to move slowly through my small studio apartment as I got ready, trying to calm myself. Deep breaths. My makeup couldn’t cover the dark circles under my eyes. The same pinching sensation on my chest was constant and uncomfortable.

I took the bus downtown and finally decided I’d give a quick call to the nurse who did my scan to explain the sensation. I had ink injected into my veins yesterday, was I having an allergic reaction? There immediate response was to go to the E.R. and not go to work. I then called the oncologist and they said the same thing… my heart raced on and all my efforts were now put towards staying composed on the busy downtown streets.

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It was a bigger hassle than you’d imagine, but I finally got to the E.R. a couple of hours later, and after being visited by my cousin and mom, I was admitted. They first checked if I was having a heart attack… I wasn’t of course. I then watched House Hunters and tried deep breaths. The pinching sensation wasn’t going away. When they told me I’d need another blood test, I cried. And as he poked and jabbed my bruised and puffy arm, I looked away with no puppy picture in sight to comfort me. But once the results came in, suddenly ALL the results came in.

The doctor came back, with a huge smile on his face. “I don’t get to do this very often… but I’m so happy to tell you you’re COMPLETELY. HEALTHY.” Not only did that day’s blood work come back completely normal, but they found out from the oncologist and the CT scan that it was, in fact, correct. The doctor was bouncing off the walls with joy, and I was very happy for him that he got to deliver such good news… but I still didn’t feel that happy. I still didn’t understand. He then gave me a pamphlet on dealing with stress and told me my chest pain was simply that and would, obviously, be going away soon now that I know I’m… healthy? That’s when I noticed the missed call from my general doctor.

ImageTurns out, the machine used for the intial blood work was, you guessed it, BROKEN. MALFUNCTIONING. STUPID. WHAT? My mom came to get me and we got Taco Bell to celebrate. I called it my last “fat girl meal.” And yes, I was happy… but I was mostly exhausted. My chest still hurt. My heart was still racing. Did the last month just happen for nothing?

Relief slowly began to wash over me and I knew celebrating was needed. I ate my Taco Bell, went home, put on some party jams, poured a big glass of wine, took a long shower, and decided to get all dolled up. I indulged in the therapeutic process of “putting my face on”  and went to visit my coworkers and announce the joyous news… it felt wonderful to feel happy, and for the first time in weeks I felt like myself again.

I still have a swollen lymph node and I still don’t know why. I was recommended to visit the doctor again but, I’m obviously not going back there. They even had the nerve to request I do the test again to see if their machine is fixed… HAH. That was a fun opportunity to tell them my feelings. It also took quite awhile for my racing heart to dwindle. I even get the pinching sensation in my chest from time to time. Having felt chronic stress for the first time, I’ve since stopped drinking caffeine and have been very limiting in my alcohol consumption. I’ve purchase a Vitamix (YAY!) and am eating well and working out.

My life had been put on hold for, what felt like, a century. And moving past it, for the most part, I’ve decided to laugh. Remember when I had cancer? Hah. But in all seriousness, I feel more mortal than ever. Lymphoma is the #1 cancer in the U.S. and can effect people of ALL ages and genders. I realized that my health is important, but most of all LIFE is important, RELATIONSHIPS are important. Friends, family, puppies… we go on day to day doing things as we always do, not thinking that it can change so quickly, and even be taken away.

ImageLast week my dear friend’s mother was diagnosed with colon cancer… and it’s brought on an entirely new meaning for me. Yes, I am completely healthy and couldn’t be more grateful, but this experience has given me a harsh look at a whole other life I could have or anyone I know could have. Why this freak machine had to break for my blood test? I don’t know. And how many other people underwent similar stress and testing because of it? I hope not many. I could sue them… but my time is more precious then ever and I have a lot more important things to do now with the rest of my life.

CHEERS.

Throwback Thursday: How To Develop a Personal Style 11/09

With Spring herein sight… just around the corner…?! I thought it was only appropriate to post a process essay I wrote in 2009: How To Develop a Personal Style. Spring is all about new beginnings, reinventing yourself, or refreshing yourself. This essay was really fun to write and maybe it will inspire you!

Also, I am so overwhelmed with work and personal life that I’ve had no time to post new blogs lately, which makes me very sad. Please stay tuned for my film review of Noah, writings about my health scare with cancer, a vlog on some new beauty products, and my first week with a VitaMix!… maybe this is ambitious but I’m hoping to get to all of that this month!!!!!510b343973f9945cc5611c7d1765b579

How To Develop a Personal Style

People embrace creativity and individuality through countless types of expression; yet with so many ways of expressing oneself, there is still one aspect that every person has in common: physical presence. A person can paint a painting or construct a building, yet their physical appearance still reflects who they are. The way one looks can also transform the way one feels, so having a personal style (along with basic fashion sense) is very important. It is a statement to the world, and sometimes it just takes some self reflection, research, and experimenting to discover how one should dress. Finding a personal style is a process, but by using the following six steps as a guide, one can truly create and develop their own personal style to show off who they are to the world.

1003836_488212434587957_482577665_nStep #1: Study yourself. When deciding the best way to express yourself through clothing, you must have a good understanding of who you are. Personal style isn’t about what’s trendy or cute – it is a self-reflection. When thinking about clothes, be true to yourself and your unique fashion sense, but don’t be afraid to take chances. If you feel like you haven’t found your personal style yet, try to think outside of the box. Caution: Don’t categorize yourself! If you automatically assume you must dress “sporty” or “preppy,” you may not reach the full potential of your style. Thinking back on your childhood is a great place to start in studying yourself. Remember what you were like at your most innocent state and what inspired your imagination. Also ask yourself, “What inspires me now?” The clothes in a music video or the colors in an art piece can inspire someone’s sense of fashion.

Step #2: Study the professionals. Celebrities are wealthy, fashion-savvy, and easy to track, so choose a singer or actress you love and study their look. What is it about their style that catches your attention? If you love it, don’t be afraid to copy it. Warning: Make sure you are looking to celebrities with similar body types! Find celebrities and other experts in fashion magazines like Elle and Vogue. Also try one trend at a time; trends are not necessarily a way to discovering personal style, but it works as a good place to start experimenting with fashion. Beyond the world of fashion and Hollywood, don’t hesitate to talk to your friends who have good taste. (Ask to borrow items of clothing or accessories for a special occasion!)feb8810b8815f5293398c1028b6140cf

Step #3: Plan and prepare. At this point, you should have a good idea about the clothes you like, but it is very important to apply what you like to what is practical. A tip that cannot be stressed enough: work with your body type! Figure out your best features and show them off. A great way to find out what looks good on your body is to look back on old photos of yourself and learn from your mistakes. Also take note of things like eye color and skin tone to find colors that will look good on you. After evaluating your body type and other physical details, pick something to be your signature. A signature piece adds something special to your look and helps you stand out. If you love skirts, wearing a different kind of skirt every day would be a great signature! Other fabulous options include: dresses, heels, necklaces, rings, or even one specific color. Steps one through three take time and thought to fully achieve, but if you put in enough effort, it makes step four a blast.

Step #4: Shop! When shopping, stay focused on the research you have done in the previous steps. If needed, browse through a store’s online catalogue before shopping, or bring in photos of outfits you would like to recreate. A very important tip: try on everything! There is nothing worse than clothes that are too loose or too tight. In addition, find a tailor or learn simple hemming techniques. Nothing fits perfectly, yet a perfect fit is the easiest way to look good. Also remember to stock up on basics; you can’t own too many fun accessories or solid tops. The best places to stock up are stores like Target, Old Navy, and the Gap. (Warning: stay away from the printed clothes at Old Navy and the Gap; they’re cheap and obnoxious!)

Stores like Target, Forever 21, H&M, and Payless are great places to find inexpensive clothes. (Being stylish doesn’t require being in debt!) However, a great confidence booster to your wardrobe is one amazing, name brand piece like a Chanel bag. If you buy one amazing item (or get one for your birthday), take very good care of it and you will be able to keep it for years to come. Caution: don’t wear fakes! It’s pointless. Step four may be the hardest step in this process, so there are a lot of warnings to take note of. Remember! Don’t overdue labels; people do not care where your clothes are from and labels take away from an outfit. Also, don’t obsess over sales! Sales are great, but if you stay too focused on them, you will miss out on other great clothing opportunities. Shopping can either be a very stressful or a very therapeutic exercise, so just remember everything you did in steps one through three, take your time, and remember to work with your body type. There is a lot more to one’s personal style than clothing though, which brings us to step five.

dcaa88ee89def19cb950aa851c0b1772Step #5: Define your hair and makeup. If you love your clothes but not your hair, you have a serious problem! Hair should be unique and bold; it is a woman’s strongest accessory. The most important thing to do is listen to the experts! Most salons will give free consultations and can help find a cut, color, and product regimen that will work well for your style and your type of hair. Even if you love your hair the way it is, experiment with products to achieve maximum health and style. Warning: don’t buy hair products from Target! Target is a great place for clothes, but professional salon products are the only things that should touch your hair. Even if Target carries a professional line, many times they are expired, overpriced, and watered down.

There is a lot less risk involved with makeup; you can try things over and over again and simply wash it off if you don’t like it. If you need extra help, professional salons and department stores will do your makeup for you. Remember: you typically have to buy makeup to have it applied, but it is a great way to get cosmetic advice. If you don’t like to wear makeup, it is still something that makes a woman look put together and stylish. Mascara, bronzer, and chapstick become a great minimalistic package for those that don’t like to be too dolled up. Either way, don’t be afraid to play around with makeup to improve your personal style.

Step #6: Wear your new look and own it! You have the clothes, the hair, and the makeup to show off who you are, so what more could there be to do? Own your new look! If you do not feel confident in your clothes, don’t wear them. Yes, it can be scary to try new things, but confidence is the key to owning your personal style. If this is your first time trying something new, you will most likely receive criticism. Remember: Be critical of criticism. It’s impossible to please everyone and the most important thing about a personal style is to have it be your style. Here are some more simple (yet helpful) tips:

  1. Don’t be afraid to personalize clothes yourself – get crafty and try sewing on a new collar or beaded accents.e46446919247001a7182ac2ed556acaf
  2. Never dress boring! If you’re clothes are simple and neutral, wear colorful shoes or a bold accessory.
  3. Wear dramatic pieces sparingly.
  4. Never repeat full outfits; change the necklace or add a bracelet at least.
  5. Posture will transform the way you come off to other people and will help anyone look more confident.
  6. Even if you are sick or having a bad day, never let it show in your outfit. Wear something comfortable, but still make sure it’s fitted and stylish. Not only will this help your mood, but it keeps you looking great.

 

Now that you have followed these six steps, you should feel confident, beautiful, and redefined. Just remember that the more you try, the more you can get away with. So never get stuck in one fashion box – personal style is developed and altered over time to reflect your unique self. Having your own personal style isn’t everything to life, but its one of the countless mediums of expression that should be embraced by all!

The Grand Budapest Hotel


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First off, shame on me! It’s been too long since I’ve blogged and I swore to myself I wouldn’t do that. But, life happens and now I’m making time to catch up. I was fortunate enough to win tickets to a prescreening of the Grand Budapest Hotel LAST TUESDAY but here I am, finally getting around to talking about it.

 

The Grand Budapest Hotel

 

The title is as quirky as any Wes Anderson movie should be… and I’ve heard it called “the new Wes Anderson movie” more often than by its actual title, in fact I’ve been guilty of this myself. And on that point, I think most movie lovers are either huge fans of his work or avoid it at all costs. I’d like to think The Grand Budapest Hotel is a fun and wonderful time for viewers on both sides of the spectrum. This 100 minute movie is nonstop fun, a pure delight, with a lot of heart.

 

6de59d1ce8f027e722e4f7c69c4ae61e_2The movie follows M. Gustave, played brilliantly by The Dark Lord himself… I mean Ralph Fiennes, as a hotel concierge with a reputation for pure excellence and, well, other things (no spoilers here!) He is then joined by the new lobby boy, Zero, played by newcomer Tony Revolori. The relationship they have as mentor and protege truly carries the heart of this film. Any anti-fans of Anderson’s work might argue that his stories are pointless and unrealistic. And yes, his work is always quirky and over-the-top, but the relationship between Gustave and Zero is very real, relatable, and kind of adorable.

 

8db1b589fe8b7976b76a1d3cc234370dFrom the very beginning, you are engulfed in a hotel of bright pinks and purples, and a little hesitance on laughing about it or not, but that’s exactly the point. The detail work found in this film may very well be the best in Anderson’s career. And what first begins in a hotel quickly becomes an adventure movie all across Europe during WWII. I can’t even imagine how much money was spent on the production design of this movie, but I couldn’t be happier about it, and that’s one of the biggest reasons I love his movies so much. Every single shot is so detail oriented, well done, and stunning… it’s almost distracting. Fortunately, the movie also has delightful characters, a brilliant cast (with the typical Anderson-crew cameos of course,) and a wonderful story.

 

6de59d1ce8f027e722e4f7c69c4ae61eAll in all, this movie made me laugh a lot and gasp a few times (it’s rated R!) But I left with a skip in my step (or a Wes Anderson styled march) and a smile on my face… and isn’t that the point of going to the movies? Wes Anderson uses film to make art, tell a story, and entertain… and the Grand Budapest Hotel has done all of these things wonderfully.

  • Most Awesome Quote: “Keep your hands off my lobby boy!”
  • Most Memorable Scene: A chase that looks straight out of the Winter Olympics
  • Hidden Gem: Saoirse Ronan as Agatha
  • Biggest Surprise: Tilda Swinton… is that you?! And holy shit Willem Dafoe…8db1b589fe8b7976b76a1d3cc234370d-1
  • Filmmaking Fun Fact: Wes Anderson used miniatures for most of his wide shots (am I butchering terms here?), but filmed them     outdoors in natural lighting… the effect is like nothing I’ve seen before!
  • Worth Seeing in Theaters: ABSOLUTELY
  • Worth Buying: DEFINITELY
  • Overall Score: *****

 

Throwback Thursday: a Party Poem 1/09

It feels weird to look back, knowing this was written over 5 years ago at a house party. It’s very strange and a little silly, but I chose this poem because of it’s firm physical influence, which has a strong correlation to my feelings this week. Try not to take it too seriously…

 

This world of vines with stripes
With billowing smoke beneath,
I try to escape but it will not leave.
My eyes they bulge and my shoulders round,
My ears they pulse and it feels profound.
Sounds bounce and wave through my head,
Cinnamon toast crunch. Needing to be fed.
As it enters through the vines and veins of skin
To the stomach lump of my body lying within,
Where there beats a heart in this dark abyss,
Its presence lingers like true love’s first kiss.
And as it lies there beating, a pain circulates,
Through spine of center for which it hates.
I know not of what they say down a stair,
But in mind of layers, levels, it’s hard to care.
And so what do I care? But what I see
Is a world far different than naturally.
Marshmallow pies, marshmallow pies,
It’s high up here, I’ve seen many skies.
Whether it be day, it be dark, it be gone,
It’s honor I give through peace of song,
And here I swing within my mind, my center,
However sound will not leave – only enter.
Stop, stop, it says to me, small sounds say.
But this price of presence shall it pay?

And the Oscar Goes To… (Official 2014 Predictions)

A lot of people love to hate on the Academy Awards, why? Because, to them, it’s a lot of very wealthy and self-absorbed people patting their own backs. But I choose not to see it that way.oscars-2014-ellen-poster__140108193621-575x851

I love movies, and I know the Academy and all of its nominees do too. Sure, there is Kate Hudson (the daughter of Goldie Hawn), or Charlie Sheen (the son of Martin Sheen), and don’t even get me started on Willow and Jaden Smith… but 9 times out of 10, these filmmakers were born into “regular” lives with a simple dream: to make movies.

Maybe it happened by chance or maybe it took a lot of handwork and sacrifice… regardless, I know they love film and so do I. It is, by far, my favorite form of art, expression, and storytelling, and the Academy Awards is a chance to celebrate peoples’ love for film and the talent that goes into them.

This post has been months in the making and one I consider both thrilling and challenging to write. So put your critiquing goggles on and let me know, who do you think will win? Who do you think was forgotten? Any predictions I’m way off on?

Also, I did not have time and/or money to view any of the foreign films, documentary features, or short films. If you’ve seen any of these and have recommendations please let me know, thank you!

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***** VISUAL EFFECTS *****

And the nominees are…

  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit
  • Iron Man 3
  • The Lone Ranger
  • Star Trek Into Darkness

And the Oscar goes to…

Gravity

And the runner up is…

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

la_ca_1217_the_hobbitI’m going to start off by noting, the makers of Gravity will be doing a lot of walking up and down stage come Oscar Sunday. I can’t keep myself from quoting Peter Rosenthal of the Onion, because his satire filled review summed this movie up perfectly. He found Gravity to be “so immersive and visually stunning, it has driven everyone who has watched it violently mad.” Yup… this movie is bonkers (I mean that in the best way possible) and I was not the same, for at least 48 hours, after seeing Gravity. So… visual effects? Yup, you deserve this 133%.

Even still, I’m a sucker for Middle-Earth and was very pleased to see Peter step his game up for The Desolation of Smaug; the dragon was no match for Sandra Bullock floating around helplessly in an infinite abyss, but Smaug is still my favorite dragon to date and one of the best film villains of the year; beautifully done.

Watch the Onion’s review… because it’s right: 

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***** SOUND MIXING & SOUND EDITING *****

And the nominees are…

  • All is Lost (Editing)
  • Captain Phillips (Mixing & Editing)
  • Gravity (Mixing & Editing)
  • The Hobbit (Mixing & Editing)
  • Inside Llewyn Davis (Mixing)
  • Lone Survivor (Mixing & Editing)

And the Oscar goes to…

Gravity & Gravity

And the runner up is…

The Hobbit & Lone Survivor

ff62778905cc710e7524f5e5c6d5490bDid you know that there is no sound in space? Yet Gravity has pulled off the use of sound mixing and editing to scare the living hell out of me. Way to go guys. While I find war movies to be the best platform for good sound editing and mixing, Gravity has once again blown my mind. I’m still giving The Hobbit a fair shout out, because it can’t be easy mixing a fantastic score with arrows flying, axes swinging, and multilingual dialogue… and should I even mention Bilbo running through that pile of gold with a Dragon chasing after him? …just had to have a fan moment there, sorry guys.

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***** ORIGINAL SONG *****

And the nominees are…

  • Happy (Despicable Me 2)
  • Let It Go (Frozen)
  • The Moon Song (Her)
  • Ordinary Love (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)

And the Oscar goes to…

Let It Go from Frozen

And the runner up is…

Ordinary Love from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Disney-Frozen-New-Animated-Clip-Let-It-Go1What an amazing group of nominated songs, but I think Let It Go has this one in the bag. Not only do I sing this song regularly in the shower, but it really achieves above and beyond what a song should be in a movie. A song should evoke emotion, help tell a story or develop a character, and leave a lasting impression. The Moon Song in Her did those same things, but looking back I don’t think it deserves it more than Ordinary Love. And Happy? Catchy tune, Pharrell, it’s about time. Most importantly, I know Frozen belongs on stage and I can not wait for it to be converted to theater.

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***** ORIGINAL SCORE *****

And the nominees are…

  • The Book Thief
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Philomena
  • Saving Mr. Banks

And the Oscar goes to…

Her

And the runner up is…

Gravity

20131205_her_theatricaltrailer2Best Original Score is deserving of a movie where I walk out of the theater, go home, and download the soundtrack immediately. And I only did that with one: Her. This movie is absolutely beautiful and one of my favorites of the year; it left a huge impression on me and would not have done so without its beautiful soundtrack. Quiet and understated, yet powerful. I think the Academy is loving hard on Gravity this year and I won’t be surprised if they take home the gold in this category for its eerie and beautiful score, but I have a full and dedicated vote to the latter.

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***** MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING *****

And the nominees are…

  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
  • The Lone Ranger

And the Oscar goes to…

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

And the runner up is…

Dallas Buyers Club

jackass-presents-bad-grandpa-received-an-oscar-nominationThe makeup and hairstyling category is near and dear to me as a cosmetologist myself, so I was a bit apprehensive to watch Bad Grandpa. I only got about 45 minutes into the movie when I felt I did enough research… and yes, the prosthetics were pretty amazing. Even still, the talented team of artists who worked on Knoxville are not enough for to recommend the movie… to anyone. Dallas Buyers Club is a more respectable candidate but, I gotta say, they didn’t have any prosthetic balls. I think the Academy was way off on this one… they forgot The Hobbit AND American Hustle… I mean, really? Evangeline Lily’s ears? Bradley Coopers curls? I’m a little upset.

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***** COSTUME DESIGN *****

And the nominees are…

  • American Hustle
  • The Grandmaster
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Invisible Woman
  • 12 Years a Slave

And the Oscar goes to…

American Hustle

And the runner up is…

The Great Gatsby

Amy Adams;Jennifer LawrenceI’ve changed my mind on this one about three times… my heart tells me Gatsby, with it’s unique and modern twist on one of the most beautiful decades in fashion, yet my mind is telling me American Hustle. Frankly, I think both movies deserve it because the costumes were all to die for and made me yearn for a different time. Well done.

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***** PRODUCTION DESIGN *****

And the nominees are…

  • American Hustle
  • Gravity
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Her
  • 12 Years a Slave

And the Oscar goes to…

The Great Gatsby

And the runner up is…

American Hustle

the-great-gatsby-image03This is how I’ve redeemed myself from the last category; Gatsby, this one’s for you. Your magic has faded away since last spring, but I have not forgotten the gorgeous sets. Maybe it’s a bigger nod for special effects, but I’m still giving you a well deserved pat on the back. All the nominees are strong contenders, but the period pieces always seem to win over in the end. The sets of Her were an awkwardly futuristic yet realistic take, which I also appreciated completely.

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***** EDITING *****

And the nominees are…

  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • 12 Years a Slave

And the Oscar goes to…

Gravity

And the runner up is…

Captain Phillips

1e2c2d8edddf055ce4d2c8c52d3cd40dWe’re not even half way through and I’m already tired of complimentary Gravity on being… awesome. So I’ll keep it short and sweet: good editing should feel seamless, natural, and help tell a story… both Gravity and Captain Phillips’ post production team supported that “edge of your seat” feeling. Another similarity between films was the enclosed or trapped feeling that would be challenging to edit too, so props. Four guys stuck in a tiny enclosed boat for half the movie? Yeah, that’s rough.

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***** CINEMATOGRAPHY *****

And the nominees are…

  • The Grandmaster
  • Gravity
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Nebraska
  • Prisoners

And the Oscar goes to…

Gravity

And the runner up is…

Inside Llewyn Davis

inside_llewyn_davisAnother head/heart scenario… Inside Llewyn Davis really deserves this win. It’s a subtle and quirky story, and the quietness of the plot really gave space for creativity elsewhere. The cinematography was truly impeccable and very noticeable, but I do believe Gravity will take the gold here as well.

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***** ANIMATED FEATURE *****

And the nominees are…

  • The Croods
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Ernest & Celestine
  • Frozen
  • The Wind Rises

And the Oscar goes to…

Frozen

And the runner up is…

The Wind Rises

full-trailer-for-disneys-frozen-06If you haven’t already read my review for Frozen, follow the link below, but I must disclaim that it was written from an ethical standpoint. As far as entertainment goes, Frozen is the winner x10 here. I’ve seen it twice and, though it rubs me the wrong way from time to time, it was still a blast and something I will probably watch again and again. And as I mentioned earlier, this movie absolutely belongs on Broadway and I plan to see it as soon possible.

Read my review of Frozen here: https://helloquarterlifecrisis.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/maternal-instincts-or-inner-feminist-my-review-of-the-movie-frozen/

As far as the other nominees go, well I honestly didn’t see any of them. I watched the trailers and have to give my runner up prediction to The Wind Rises because of it’s stunning animation. It’s refreshing to see. An English version of The Wind Rises is being released in the U.S. soon and I plan on seeing it then.

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***** ADAPTED SCREENPLAY *****

And the nominees are…

  • Before Midnight
  • Captain Phillips
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

And the Oscar goes to…

Philomena

And the runner up is…

12 Years a Slave

Philomena-6This was a tough call for me, and I may very well be wrong. While I haven’t read any of the original material these screenplays were adapted from, I think both Philomena and 12 Years a Slave deserve it equally. So who will win? We’ll just have to wait and see. All I have to say is, although 12 Years a Slave was a very important and powerful story to tell, that left me feeling a bit weak and crumbly, Philomena’s general dialogue and character development was impeccable. Two beautiful stories told very well.

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***** ORIGNAL SCREENPLAY *****

And the nominees are…

  • American Hustle
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Her
  • Nebraska

And the Oscar goes to…

Her

And the runner up is…

Dallas Buyers Club

HerIf Her does not win this award, I am going to be very upset. Way too funny, clever, beautiful, unique, and so on and so forth… I just really want this to win. Dallas Buyers Club was also very well done, of course, and being a big Woody fan I have to shout out to Blue Jasmine as well. All wonderful screenplays, but Spike Jonze needs this win.

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***** SUPPORTING ACTRESS *****

And the nominees are…

  • Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
  • Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
  • Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
  • Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
  • June Squibb (Nebraska)

And the Oscar goes to…

Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave

And the runner up is…

Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle

wpid-Jennifer-Lawrence-American-Hustle-04J. Law, I’m sorry. I feel like we’re friends, BFFs, even soul mates… and you nailed your character perfectly. A small role, yet so complex. But, Lupita knocked this one out of the park. Her role was passionate and painful, and I hope to see more of her in the future.

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***** SUPPORTING ACTOR *****

And the nominees are…

  • Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
  • Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
  • Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
  • Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

And the Oscar goes to…

Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club

And the runner up is…

Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave

dallas_buyers_club_jared_leto_-_h_-_2013Firstly, major shout out to Minnesota’s very own Barkhad Abdi! A true talent and kind of adorable… but so menacing. You are a fine actor! Anyways, another obvious category in my eyes and something that I feel slightly entitled to. Since watching Jared Leto’s breakthrough performance in Requiem for a Dream, I always felt there would be something great in his future with powerful performances. I’ve been a modest fan of his band and have checked in on him for time to time throughout the years, and this was the performance I was waiting for. He is so deserving of this and he played his character so perfectly.

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***** BEST ACTRESS *****

And the nominees are…

  • Amy Adams (American Hustle)
  • Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
  • Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
  • Judi Dench (Philomena)
  • Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)

And the Oscar goes to…

Cate Blanchett  in Blue Jasmine

And the runner up is…

Sandra Bullock in Gravity

blue_jasmine_465Maybe I’m bias, but I have an extreme obsession for Cate Blanchett. She is everything an actress should be… mega talented, beautiful, graceful, classy, mega talented (again,) and very Elvish. Her performance was kind of perfect and only made me love her so much more. However, Sandra Bullock really deserves a big pat on the back for hyperventilating regularly… who knows how many brain cells she lost!

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***** BEST ACTOR *****

And the nominees are…

  • Christian Bale (American Hustle)
  • Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
  • Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

And the Oscar goes to…

Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club

And the runner up is…

Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave

A disheveled Matthew McConaughey gets arrested in scenes for 'The Dallas Buyers Club' in New OrleansThis could  be the closest race of the night… two amazing characters and two incredible performances. The reason I think McConaughey will win is because, well, he’s really turned it around lately. From Failure to Launch to Fool’s Gold… McConaughey was nothing more than a failure and a fool (see what I did there?) I had no respect for the guy. But he truly became serious, rewrote his own destiny, and gained my respect. I think  he gained the Academy’s respect as well. If you want more of McConaughey, I’d recommend Mud. Oh and, sorry Leo, this isn’t your year… again.

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***** DIRECTOR *****

And the nominees are…

  • David O. Russell (American Hustle)
  • Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)
  • Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
  • Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave)
  • Martin Scorcese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

And the Oscar goes to…

Alfonso Cuaron  for Gravity

And the runner up is…

David O. Russell for American Hustle

1e2c2d8edddf055ce4d2c8c52d3cd40dIt’s obvious that Alfonso Cuaron deserves this award… his movie was groundbreaking and incredibly coordinated in all of its nominated categories. Gravity has proven to be a frontrunner and none of that could have happened without his incredible talent, vision, and direction. He has raised the bar big time.

I loved American Hustle, but I’ve always compared it to Silver Linings Playbook and feel that it wasn’t up to par. Even still, O. Russell has shown his skill and I am anxiously awaiting his next project. The Departed (Best Picture winner in 2006) is one of my favorite movies of all time, and Scorcese’s Wolf of Wall Street was also not up to par in my book. All very talented nominees but I find this year’s winner to be apparent.

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***** BEST PICTURE *****

And the nominees are…

  • American HustleAMF_0798 (211 of 292).NEF
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Nebraska
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

And the Oscar goes to…

12 Years a Slave

And the runner up is…

Dallas Buyers Club & Gravity

Most Loved Movie…

Her

12_years_a_slave_featured1-618x400When I think about what makes a movie deserving of Best Picture, I consider it to be one that is thoroughly well done in all categories while being entertaining or impressionable as a whole. So with that said, it’s obvious that Gravity deserves a major nod, especially since I’ve predicted they take home 6-8 other awards. But do I really believe Gravity will take home the gold? Not quite… sure, the movie was groundbreaking and beautiful (what an understatement,) but I think voters are going to honor a different type of film this year.

While Gravity is very deserving, my biggest struggle has been between Dallas Buyers Club and 12 Years a Slave. Both are especially driven through powerful storytelling and incredible acting, and if you haven’t seen them yet… go, go now. As a whole, I truly enjoyed Dallas Buyers Club more and it had a longer lasting impression on me, but I believe the Academy’s votes will be for 12 Years a Slave. All three of these movies are so deserving and will be the frontrunners for most wins come Oscar Sunday, but there is one movie I really need to commend.

I have a vague understanding for how the Academy works in voting… it’s filmmakers voting for other filmmakers, so I keep that in mind with most of my predictions. And if I was in the Academy, I probably would vote for Dallas Buyers Club because it’s a huge contender and one I find very deserving. But of all the movies this year, Her has been my favorite and a something everyone needs to see. Every piece was in place; a beautiful score, fantastic sets, an incredible screenplay that had me laughing hysterically and crying quietly, perfect casting, and a magical story. Everything was so detail oriented and seamless and downright almost perfect. 12 Years and Dallas Buyers are both important historical stories… but Her is new, unique, special, beautiful. It might be nominated for less awards, but it gave me so much as a viewer. Miracles do happen… maybe they will win! But regardless Her has won in my book.

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So, have you seen the movies? What do you think? Who do you think will win? Who do you think is most deserving? You still have a week to see any final movies… so here are my final recommendations:

The movies you need to see regardless: Her and Gravity (preferably in theaters)

Movies to cover the most bases: 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club

If you like witty: watch American Hustle before The Wolf of Wall Street

If you like suspense: see Gravity before Captain Phillips (although both are great)

If you like quiet and understated: watch Philomena before Nebraska (or skip Nebraska altogether…)

Other movies to see:

If you like powerful acting: August: Osage County (though kind of a downer) and Blue Jasmine

If you want something alternative: Blue Jasmine and Inside Llewyn Davis

If you want something for the whole family: Frozen and The Hobbit

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So print out your ballot (http://www.moviefone.com/oscars-academy-awards/nominee-winner/printable-ballot) and cast your votes, then tell me your top picks in the comments below!

And don’t forget to tune into the 86th Academy Awards on March 2nd!

Jewelry Turned Artwork DIY

Framed Jewelry Hanger

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An affordable and practical way to organize and display your jewelry – particularly bulky or long necklaces that are the most difficult to store and protect! Enjoy 🙂

Budget & Supplies:1654825_596899117052621_708304904_n

  • Frame – $5 from Craigslist (thrifted)
  • 7/8″ White Cup Hooks – $3 from Target
  • Hammer
  • Large screw or hook to hang frame
  • 1 nail (optional)

Steps & Tips:

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  1. Based on jewelry collection, decide how many hooks you need, and plan accordingly
  2. Use hammer to gently hammer first hook into centermost point -OR- hammer a nail halfway down and remove, then replace nail with hook and complete installation (Hammering in the hooks would cause them to bend, so using a nail first helped a lot!)
  3. Space hooks out evenly (at least a 1/2″ apart) until complete
  4. Decide where to hang your frame that is practical and easy to get to on a daily basis, place screw or hook accordingly
  5. Hang jewelry on hooks, interval between “long jewelry” and “bulky jewelry,” as this is more aesthetically pleasing and allows plenty of space for each piece to hang
  6. Carefully hang your frame up and enjoy your new piece of artwork!

I had so much success with this cheap and easy 15-30 minute project that I plan to do something similar for my bracelets and rings… any ideas on how to do this? Also, if you try this project at home post your success stories + pictures below!

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