Sunday, January 29, 2017

It's Just Hair: Solidarity

In November two close friends were diagnosed with breast cancer. Both underwent surgery and have now started chemo. Chemo makes your hair fall out. Last night, my dear friend Denise had a head-shaving party. Because if you have to lose your hair because of cancer you might as well make it an event and have friends and family over to give you love and support. 

Denise was not alone in her head-shaving activity - she was joined by her daughters, husband, sons-in-law and friends. 
Denise with her daughter Ashley

I had had my hair cut earlier that morning, an appointment I had scheduled since December (I'm growing my hair out so I get regular trims). Later that night I decided to shave my head too. I have always sort of wondered what it would be like, and now was a great reason to actually do it. If Denise can go through the awfulness of cancer and all the side effects of chemo, and do it with courage and determination, then the least I can do is cut my hair to show my love and support. 

Justin, Ashley's husband, had hair longer than mine

The ladies who shaved - Hallie, Denise, Ashley, Brianna and me

My hairdresser told me it would only take three months for my hair to grow to a point where I could do something with it. At that point, I didn't think I was actually going to do it. We'll see how my hair looks in three months. Right now, it's incredibly freeing to not have hair to worry about (especially in the wind and when wearing a bike helmet). Also, it's incredibly cold. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017


Tonight I headed to the Angelika Film Center in Plano to see Lion, which is nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Dev Patel), Best Supporting Actress (Nicole Kidman), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Original Score. I think all the nominations are well-deserved for this moving and lovely film.

Young Saroo gets separated from his family when he accidentally boards a train that takes him thousands of miles away from his family. He wonders the streets of Calcutta for months before being taken to an orphanage (I really liked the young man who spots Saroo out on the street from a cafe window when Saroo mimics his soup eating). Since no one has come looking for young Saroo, even after posting his photo in a newspaper read by millions, he gets adopted by an Australian couple. Saroo, played by the young Sunny Pawar, is so captivating on screen. When he arrives in Australian wearing a Tasmania shirt my heart burst.

As an adult, Saroo (now played by Dev Patel) is reminded that he is "lost" when he meets several Indian students in a course he is taking. I tried to imagine how difficult it would be to look part of a culture and identity but not have any real place in it. This spurs him to start looking for his home, thoughts of his mum and brother overtaking his thoughts and dreams.

The performances are all great. I especially liked Nicole Kidman in her small role. She tells her adult child about a vision she had as a child and she knocks it out of the park. Even David Wenham, in his even smaller role, makes an impression. The family that Saroo gets separated from feels incredibly close and loving in the scenes they have together in the first half of the film. The family love is strong, so we feel the pains of loss as Saroos is separated from them.

This is an emotional film about family, love and home. I highly recommend it.

Pitbull at Winstar

I left my home Friday night intending to meet up with friends at Harvest House. When I pulled into the parking lot my phone started ring. On the other end was my friend Jessica, telling me I had to stop what I was doing and join her and two other friends for the Pitbull concert that night. So I bailed on my friend and made my first trek to Winstar to see Pitbull in concert.

Winstar is the casino that is just across the border when one travels from Texas to Oklahoma on I-35. I have passed it many times and noticed its historic-buildings-facades (think the hotels in Las Vegas - New York, New York, the Venetian, Caesar's Palace, etc. - but all in one building facade). It's garish, obviously, but it's a casino so what do you expect. Also, it's not actually a building but rather a large "tent". It definitely would not survive a tornado.

The concert was in the Global Event Center, which is really just a large conference room off of the casino floor. I was expecting stadium seating, but it's just chairs set up on the floor. It seems kind of rinky dink, but I guess performers get to keep all the ticket sales since the venue has the casino money to keep them afloat. So they get a lot of acts to perform there.

Folks, I don't really know any Pitbull songs. But I like to dance, so it didn't really matter. He started the show with some Phil Collins, and segued into some Lenny Kravitz and Nirvana. He also showcased the many people he has dueted with - Xtina, Usher, Marc Anthony, J.Lo, Chris Brown. We dance to all of them and had a fabulous time.

Pitbull was born Armando Christian Perez in Miami and is a first generation Cuban-American. I know this because prior to coming out on stage there was a video presentation that talked up Pitbull's life, and how he has turned a negative into a positive. He seems a bit in love with himself. But I think it's all in good humor. He liked to fill the moments in between songs with motivational talk and reminding the crowd that despite differences, music brings us together.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hidden Figures

Oscar noms were out, so I made my way to the movie theater to start checkin' films on the list. The only option to me at the theater here in Denton was Hidden Figures, a film I have heard nothing but good things about and would likely have seen it anyway.

It tells the story of three pioneering women who worked for NASA in the 1960s. NASA is competing with the Russians to put a man in space, and beat us to it. We were working to then have a man orbit the Earth first (and we eventually made it to the moon first). To get a man around the Earth and back, math that wasn't even known yet had to be used. However, computers weren't exactly a thing yet so NASA employed human "computers" - women who double-checked the math manually.

Dorothy Vaughan (Academy Award nominee Octavia Spencer) is the supervisor of the group of "colored" women computers. Two of those computers are Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), a woman who wants to be an engineer and continue at NASA, and Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), a gifted mathematician who gets assigned to the Mercury Mission group.

While I feel like some of the conflict is manufactured, there is no doubt that these women are awesome. And I don't believe racial tensions were exaggerated. When Katherine lets loose to her co-workers after having to go across campus to use the "colored" bathroom, and living with the indignity of having a second "colored" coffee pot brought in, I shed some tears. It was powerful and moving, and sometimes I still can't believe that that is what life was like in my parents' generation.

Hidden Figures is one of those excellent, feel-good movies that you can't help but like. It's not particularly artistically directed, but that doesn't really matter as it's the story that matters. In that, the actors all shine.

Small note: I would have liked to have seen Taraji P. Henson and/or Janelle Monae nominated as well. Octavia Spencer is great, but she's not really playing a character any different than the one she did in The Help (which gained her an Oscar, so....).

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

2017 Oscar Noms

Oscar nominations came out this morning. There were some snubs and surprises, as everyone likes to call them since alliteration is fun. This year there are nine films up for Best Picture and I have seen five of them (so far). I feel pretty good about that. Here are a few random thoughts:

--Meryl Streep, really? I like her, I really do. But the Academy will nominate her for anything. I would have liked to have had Amy Adams nominated here instead.
--Hacksaw Ridge and Mel Gibson - where did this come from?! When it was nominated for some Golden Globes I didn't take it seriously, since it's the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. But now there are Best Pic, Director and Acting nominations for it! The first time I saw a trailer for this film, I found it rather telling that it was marketed as being from "the director of Braveheart",  never once mentioning Mel Gibson's name. He has baggage, definitely. Later on, though, trailers did use his name. I don't have any desire to see this film, even with my previous crush on Andrew Garfield
--fourteen noms for La La Land! Whoa! I like this movie, I really do. A lot. I just find it strange what movies get crowned Oscar favorites. If this film had been released in the summer we would not be talking about it now. That's not a dis, just a fact.
--Lin-Manuel Miranda could complete the elusive EGOT. I'm pulling for him, however I would really be fine if any song in this category won. Those two from La La Land are both great.
--I saw Hell or High Water a few months ago when it had been recommended to me by two different people. I did not care for it, so much that I didn't even bother to finish my blog review of it. I have no idea how this movie became an Oscar contender; critics really loved it, and apparently so did audiences. And even though I didn't like it, I'm always a bit pleased when a film that wasn't released in December gets Oscar traction.
--Manchester by the Sea's early buzz may be fading, as the buzz was just too early. Same thing happened with Up in the Air and The Social Network several years back. We'll find out on Oscar night if La La Land and it's ascent to front-runner status is legit.
--Viggo Mortensen get a Best Actor nod for Captain Fantastic, a film I haven't even heard of. Kudos to him.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Note About the Blog

I started my blog in 2008 while I was living in NYC. This was well before smartphones made Facebook ubiquitous and put a camera in everyone's pocket. My parents and many of my family members and friends weren't on Facebook anyway. So the blog was a great way to let them know what I was doing in New York. I always had my point-and-shoot camera with me, and I'd take photos and compose blog posts in my head while I rode the subway.

The first time I got political on the blog was 2008 and the election. I posted about voting in the historic election while living in NYC, and tried to capture my thoughts on the day after America elected Obama. However, my truly first political post came about a week later. I had discovered that some of my friends had to defend their vote that year to their families, so I wanted to note how I was glad that wasn't a problem for me. In that same post, I chose to comment on the highly contentious Prop 8 issue.

I didn't really get political again until 2012, another election year.

A lot has happened in four years. I am a different person. America feels like a different place. This blog will start having a few more political posts (not that anyone is really reading it anymore anyway). It just feels like such an important time right now. I don't really think my thoughts are going to change anyone's opinion, but I feel like it will be good for me personally to put those thoughts down.

A friend on Facebook today was complaining that it had become a place for political posts. She wondered why people couldn't just post photos of their kids or animals or whatever. I agree that Facebook has become political, and it does create a lot of division. But Facebook isn't going anywhere, and nowhere is it said that Facebook has to be used for purely nice, friendly, non-confrontational posts. It is a social network, and people can post whatever they want; if you're tired of it, either get off Facebook and interact with your friends in real life, or block everyone. People have always been political, and America has always been divided over issues, and Facebook exacerbates that.

So I am going to blog more and Facebook less. My life feels less exciting than when I was living in New York or going through grad school. I will try to keep this interesting and not entirely political. Stick it out with me.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Denton

The weather was overcast but warm for a fantastic turnout on the Square for the Women's Rally. I hit it up with my friend Jessica (dressed as Rosie) and we proudly marched with other women, men, friends and children. Everyone was kind, peaceful, inviting, friendly. My favorite moment was when the entire crowd was silent and we all held up the peace sign. I don't think I've ever felt more connected and part of a community before.


Folks, no one is protesting the results of the election (however, it has been proven that Russia interfered). We know who the new President is. The point of the rally was to show that we will hold him accountable. And we are a force. This was not an anti-Trump rally, even if there were a lot of signs directed at him and his ugly comments about women. This was a march to celebrate women, our voices, our power, our strengths. To show our love and partnership with LGBTQ, disabled, minorities, veterans, and everyone else who feels marginalized. To show that we will not stand for what that man has propagated throughout his campaign. So while not an anti-Trump rally, it is in direct relation to him. If any one else had won this would not be the reaction.

The sign game was spectacular! 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Jazz Game in Dallas

The Utah Jazz made their way to Dallas to play the Mavericks tonight. Last year I went to this game in February when my mom was here. Two years ago, I went by myself as one of my first forays into DART and Dallas. This year I went with my friends Suzi and Garret.

I LOVE going to away games! Anyone wearing my team's gear instantly becomes my new best friend. We wave, nod, yell "Go Jazz!" and give each other high fives. We had a Jazz fan from Salt Lake (he was in town for business and his wife insisted he go to the game and packed his number 32 jersey) in front of us and had a good time with him.

The Jazz have been on a winning streak, while the Mavs have not been. Expectations were that the game would be dominated by the Jazz and they'd pull the win. However, the Mavs came to play! The game went into overtime! It looked like the Mavs might pull it out, but luckily the Jazz came out on top. Rudy Gobert is on my fantasy team and he killed it tonight - he had 27 points and 25 rebounds/1

At the end of the game, we were shown on tv. My mom and sister saw me, and my cousin in Utah caught a screen grab of it!

The Next Four Years

Today is Inauguration Day. And it fills me with dread.

There. I said it. I know there are people who say feelings like this are silly. To give him a chance. To see what happens. That the election was won fair and square and we need to stop being sore losers and work on uniting the country.

And yeah, that's exactly how I'd feel if it was practically anyone else, Republican or Democrat, being sworn in to office today.

This is different.

I voted for Hillary Clinton, and I don't feel shame in that. I know there was talk of "voting your conscience" and "choosing the lesser of two evils", but that was not what my vote was. It was a vote for her and being stronger together, a vote for her policies and her vision for America. I wanted her to win.  

But she didn't.

This isn't me feeling bummed because a Republican won and I lean Democrat. That's like my Royals losing in Game 7 of the World Series with the tying run ninety feet away. It sucks, and it definitely bums me out, but life goes on. There are no consequences.

This outcome, though, there are consequences. I would have been bummed if Secretary Clinton had lost to nearly any other Republican candidate - Bush, McCain, Romney, even Rubio or Paul Ryan. That is difference of policy. The loss would have sucked, and I would have been bummed. But it would not have elicited the feeling of actual sadness that I feel now.

This is something different. This is endorsement of living in fear. Supporting sexual assault. Not caring at all about facts. Misogyny. Racism. Xenophobia. I can disagree on policy, but I cannot disagree on character. And this does have consequences.

I know that life will continue to go on. I will still get up each morning, put my pants on one leg at a time like always, and make my way to work. And I will be okay. I am a white, heterosexual, Christian female with a college degree. My life will pretty much be the same. But for many others it will not be. That makes me sad.

I know there are many that will say Clinton was just as bad. My opinion is that I disagree. This is a woman who spent her adult life working to make things better for families and children and people in general. She had to endure attacks from everyone. Attacks for using her maiden name and not being the correct kind of First Lady. She had had to endure attacks of being ambitious. Of being uncaring.

I believe in an America that is diverse. I believe in an America that chooses inclusion. I believe that no one is pro-abortion, and to combat abortion one needs to look to the cause - sex education, contraception, education, raising women and families out of poverty - rather than make illegal the outcome. I believe the emails were a complete non-scandal and were a deliberate ploy by Republicans to tarnish Secretary Clinton. I believe that access to affordable health care is vitally important to every one, not just those with a non-service-industry job. I believe in taxes, not just hoping for philanthropy from the rich. I believe once we care for those less than us and raise them up then we all rise up. I believe in loving people.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Will This Month Ever End?

It has been January for a very long time. Yes, the calendar says that it is the 19th and we are more than halfway through. But I swear to you, it feels like it has been January for 38 days. 

I attribute some of this to the fact that the month started on a Sunday. 

But that's not the only reason why this months feels never-ending. I was sick the first week, making my days all mix together. Also, I went over budget for the month on about day 7. Still so many days left. 

It's also been cold and rainy and overcast (it even snowed!). That makes me feel like a hermit. And I feel like a hermit because I am being a hermit. 

I am looking forward to February, when it finally gets here. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Frozen Pipes

It snowed yesterday in north Texas. Just a small layer of fine snow. It was pretty. However, the snow also brought some below-freezing temps over the night. And when I went to take a shower this morning, nothing came out of the shower head.

I checked the bathroom sink faucets. Nothing.

I checked the kitchen sink faucet. Nothing.

All signs pointed to my pipes freezing over the night when temps were in the teens. Now, I've lived in Idaho and Utah and never once have I had my pipes freeze. In Texas, since freezing events are not common, and because of the ground, we build our homes on piers and beams. My crawl space is quite large, as I live on a slope, meaning I can very nearly stand up in my crawl space/"basement". So my pipes are just hanging out in the cold air with nothing to keep them warm.

I called my friend Stephanie, my trusted homeowner friend (and all-around fantastic friend). She gave the phone to her partner, Chris, who was well-versed in such scenarios. He told me it wasn't really a big deal. He told me that the biggest issues comes when the water thaws and all the water pressure is built up then released. In order to give it somewhere to go, he told me to open up all my faucets. Then he said to periodically check the pipes and make sure they weren't leaking.

That sounded easy enough. I turned open all the faucets and then just waited.

At about 11:15 I was sitting on my bed, taking photos of Biscuit being cute as she laid in the sun, I heard water starting to run! I went into the crawl space to make sure nothing was leaking - and nothing was! It took a bit longer for the hot water to come back, but it has.

Lesson learned: leave your faucets dripping when it's cold, especially in Texas! I'm just glad it warmed up at a decent time to get my water back without any major, costly catastrophes.

Monday, January 2, 2017


Today is observed New Year's Day for me, so I took the chance to cross another Oscar hopeful off my list, Moonlight.

I really didn't know much about Moonlight other than the fact it has Oscar buzz. Turns out, I kinda like going into a movie not knowing what to expect. Moonlight is the story of one boy, told in three parts at three different ages and times in his life. This boy goes by Little, Chiron, and Black. It's interesting that he defines himself by what others choose to call him other than his given name of Chiron. This boy is struggling with his identity and what it means to be himself. He has few constants in his life.

Casting was integral to this film, and it knocked it out of the park. Even Chiron's friend Kevin is wonderfully cast as his adult self. And that's important. These characters experience a lot, and I needed to be able to "see" that it was still the same person when they interacted. It was more than just the physicalness of the actors; it was their mannerisms and the way each of them showed Chiron's inner self in the same way.

I don't want to give much away, but I think this film was quiet and beautiful.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

La La Land

I saw La La Land when I was in SLC over Christmas. However, that did not stop me from getting up early this morning to catch another showing of it. It's just such a lovely movie that I wanted to watch it to ring in my new year.

Mia and Sebastian are two artists living in LA. She's an aspiring artist, and he's a jazz pianist. They have a couple meet-cutes before really coming together. They have to navigate their relationship while pursuing their own dreams.

That sounds cliche and possibly boring, but the movie is anything but.

For one, it is unabashedly romantic. It's whimsical. It's beautiful. It's full of color. It's funny. And I love all of that. It has singing and music and it is all so fantastic.

I think it is a perfect movie for the new year, with it's themes of how to be a person with dreams and goals and how to be in a relationship. Sometimes those two parts of you can be in conflict. Navigating that can be tough, but it can also be rewarding. I like that thought.

Seriously, go see this movie.

Blog Template by