Monthly Reading: April

I hopped right back on the reading train this month, and even finished both before the end of the month. I did kind of take it easy, though. I read two books that were pretty light and didn’t involve a whole lot of mental work.

The first book I read was Lara Casey’s Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life. Lara Casey is amazing, if you haven’t heard of her. She is the genius behind Power Sheets and Southern Wedding magazine. She is such a positive and has the most beautiful personality, and I really enjoy following her on Instagram–seriously, she has the cutest kids.

 

Anyway, I first heard of her through one of my sisters who uses Lara Casey’s Power Sheets every year. Power Sheets are a tool for you to plan out your goals for the year. I tried them for the first time this year, and I went a little more in-depth about them in my resolutions post.

Her book was very uplifting and made me think, “hey, maybe all my dreams can come true.” So if you want to take a deep-dive into discovering what it is you really want out of life, you should check out her books and maybe even order some Power Sheets because they are seriously life-changing.

The next book I read was one that I had started almost a year ago, but never finished. I feel kind of stupid talking about it, because I feel like this person’s audience base is, like 12, but I’ve been a fan of his since I was that age, so I guess it’s alright.

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I read Shane Dawson’s book, It Gets Worse. I seriously love him so much, and have been watching his videos since I was in middle school. I’ve always enjoyed his twisted sense of humor, and I relate a lot to his body issues. This book really allowed me to see a whole other part of him that I never get to see in his videos. It’s definitely not what I would call a “light” read, but it isn’t a difficult read; it just takes you to some dark places. But at the heart of it all, it is Shane in his truest form, and I loved every page.

That’s it for this month’s reading! I hope you enjoyed. I’m ready to dive back into some long fiction books next month, especially because I WILL BE A COLLEGE GRADUATE!

Keep reading, guys!

 

Photos from: (http://laracasey.com) and (amazon.com)
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Monthly Reading: January

As I mentioned in my resolutions post, I want to read two books a month in 2018. I’m currently subscribed to Book of the Month, which I love, but I’ve gotten a little behind with my reading so it is on hold for now until I catch up. Both of the books I read in January were BOTM books and so far they haven’t disappointed.

The first book I read was Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong.

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Goodbye, Vitamin, by Rachel Khong.

It was kind of a coming-of-age story but about a young woman named Ruth in her twenties instead of pubescent teenagers. Ruth is at a junction in her life where she is dealing with a recent breakup as well as family issues that lead her to move back in with her parents. It is one of those books where you don’t realize the big picture until it’s over. I had a firm grasp on what was going on throughout the book, but it wasn’t until I finished it that I was like, oh shit, I get it now. It was a beautiful story and nothing at all what I thought it would be when I first received it.

The second book was Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

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This one was definitely my favorite of the month. Recently, Jessica Knoll has become one of my favorite authors (I wrote about her debut novel, The Luckiest Girl Alive, and I’m eagerly awaiting her next novel) and this was a book that she had recommended, so when I saw it as an option, I went ahead and ordered it from BOTM even though I already had an impressive stack of novels yet to be read.

Eleanor is such an interesting character, and I loved every second I got to spend in her head. She is complex and endearing even though I’m certain I would dislike her very much if I ever crossed paths with her in real life. Eleanor is a creature of habit, but throughout this book, she takes measures to examine her past and try new things and meet new people. She reminded me that it really is never too late to change the course of your life. No matter what has happened to you or impeded the plans you had for your life, you can overcome it with enough perseverance and gumption.

I highly recommend both of these books, and I hope this kind of post is something I continue throughout this year (as long as I keep my resolution to read more).

Holiday Break Rewind

Happy New Year!

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I’m so happy to be back, and I’m ready to kick 2018’s butt! I am well aware that I’m saying the exact same thing a million other people say once January comes around, and just like them, I’m full of good intentions.

Better follow-through is one of my resolutions.

While I start to get back into the swing of things, I figured I would start back with what I was up to during the last couple of weeks months.

Since my last post was in November, I’ll start with Thanksgiving. I spent it with my family in North Carolina. Yes, all those people are related to me. It’s a Catholic thing.

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It’s not often that we are all together, so we had a fun little photo shoot before digging into some turkey and pie!

Here is my family. You know what they say, families that color-coordinate together, stay together.

 

At the beginning of December, Georgia had some unexpected snowfall, which was inconvenient, yet beautiful.

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I turned 23 in the month of December, but I don’t have any pictures to share. It was a pretty relaxed birthday this year spent with my friend, Cassandra, and the love of my life Adam Driver. He was too busy with press for The Last Jedi, but I was able to at least see his beautiful face on the big screen.

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Right before Christmas, MAC was reunited. Amberlyn flew in from Denver, and was able to spend a few hours with me and Cassandra before we all went home for the holidays.

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We met in Decatur at the Highland Bakery. It was such a nice restaurant with good food. Plus, the company was pretty decent too. Pictured below is my shrimp and grits. I’ve lived in Georgia my whole life but this was my first time trying the dish.

 

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Excuse the shadow of my phone. I need to get better at being a foodie.

 

As my siblings get married and essentially LEAVE, traditions tend to change. So instead of having Christmas morning with them, we all get together Christmas Eve to exchange Secret Santa gifts and have a big family dinner. Then, all of us single kids spend Christmas morning with my parents.

 

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with family and loved ones. Here’s to 2018. May it be less crappy for all!

 

 

September Music Round-Up

It’s September, which if you’re a student like me, then that means you are probably starting to feel overwhelmed and nearing a panic attackRecently, music has been a crutch of sorts for me to throw myself on, praying it will hold me together. Well, that and wine. Lots of wine.

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So in true procrastinator spirit, I have abandoned my homework and other daunting assignments, and I compiled a list of songs that I have been obsessed with this month instead. Now, take this with a grain of salt, because I am no music expert. I have pretty lame taste in music. But that’s okay. Because as long as I am not in the midst of a full-blown panic attack, I’d count it as a win.

So without further ado, here is the cluster of music that I scream at the top of my lungs on my way home from class and work.

1. You Don’t Do It For Me Anymore – Demi Lovato

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Demi Lovato is my ride or die when it comes to singers. I mean, aside from my queen, Adele. Like I love her. One of my favorite pastimes is Kitchen Karaoke where I pretend I can sing pop songs. Her voice is amazing, and she blows me away again and again with the control she has over her voice. She has a new album coming out next week, and I am so ready for it.

2. Bodak Yellow – Cardi B

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I’m kind of slow at keeping up with hot music trends. My friend, Cassandra, over at Sequins & Sass played me this song, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. Another one of my tried and true pastimes is pretending I can rap.

3. Too Good At Goodbye – Sam Smith

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Need I say more? It’s Sam Smith. You know it’s beautiful. You know it’s great. You know it will make you cry buckets of tears.

4. These Heaux – Bhad Bhabie

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This song made its way into my playlist as a joke, but it’s actually kind of amazing. Again, I like to pretend I can rap. But seriously, give it a shot. Blare it. Love it.

5. Younger Now – Miley Cyrus

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Like Demi, I have loved Miley Cyrus for a long time. Even when people thought she was crazy, I was still there. You can say what you want, but Miley was born to perform. She also has an album coming out next week so basically I’m in music heaven right now.

6. Woman – Kesha

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Kesha’s whole album is pretty great. I was definitely surprised at how real it was, compared to the music she did in the past. This song is another great one to sing scream while speeding driving at a perfectly safe speed down an empty road. There is something really empowering about yelling “I’m a motherfucking woman” at the top of your lungs. You should definitely try it.

7. Tell Me You Love Me – Demi Lovato

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Refer to #1. I’m super pumped for this album. I wanted to spare this list all of my Demi love, but while you’re at it, check out “Sorry Not Sorry”.

8. I’m a Rebel Just For Kicks – Dunez

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This is just such a fun song. It transports me to another place entirely where I’m rocking bell bottoms and crop tops: Coachella. Just kidding, but yeah this song is great.

9. What About Us – P!nk

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P!nk is another amazing singer. Her voice is so rich and distinctive. Enough said. She’s great.

10. Walking the Wire – Imagine Dragons

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This song feels like it belongs in a movie during a montage or something. It’s just a good song. I’m not a huge Imagine Dragons fanatic–like I don’t religiously listen to their music or anything, but I  can’t deny that they’re great musicians.

11. Look What You Made Me Do – Taylor Swift

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I’m a bit of a basic bitch when it comes to music. I love T. Swift. Unless she murders my dog or something, I’ll probably always listen to her music. I don’t think this song will have a super long shelf life–I’m about sick of it–but for a couple weeks, it played on repeat.

12. …Ready For It? – Taylor Swift

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See #11. This one is on the rocks for me because I still haven’t figured out how I feel about her “rapping”, but again, I’m a basic bitch when it comes to Taylor.

13. Attention – Charlie Puth

I liked this song when I first heard it on the radio, and then I’ve recently been really into it. It’s just another fun one to sing along to.

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So that is my music round-up. I’d like to make this something I do regularly, so keep a lookout for next month’s.

Logan Lucky: A Review

It’s been described as a redneck Ocean’s Eleven or “Ocean’s 7/11”, but as catchy as those names are, they don’t measure up to the subtle genius that is Logan Lucky.

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Logan Lucky is Steven Soderbergh’s latest film starring Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as brothers who, with the help of a motley group of characters, decide to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway. I have been following this film from almost the beginning. And by beginning, I mean ever since I found out Adam Driver was going to be in it (because I am low-key high-key obsessed with him and keep up with all of his projects). Also, it was filmed in Atlanta, so I had some personal ties to it.

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Anyway, for those who are not obsessed with Adam Driver and therefore know little to nothing about this movie, it was made very differently from other popular heist films. First of all, it was not made under the heavy influence of a major Hollywood studio. Soderbergh financed the film himself so that he had full creative freedom over the entirety of the project. He is a director who wears many hats, according to Tatum, who has worked with the director many times in the past. I’m sure you’ve heard of Magic Mike. Soderbergh does everything from directing to making sure he gets the exact shot he needs, and he is even the one at the end to tie it all together in the editing room. To ensure there wasn’t unnecessary spending, he cut most of the marketing and press expenses, which meant there was not a huge press junket for the film and there was minimal marketing aside from social media.

The economics surrounding the film were enough to lure me in, aside from seeing Adam Driver on the big screen again. And if that wasn’t enough, Soderbergh threw in the hat from directing in 2013, so I knew it had to be pretty good if it pulled him from retirement.

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Now on to the film itself, I absolutely loved it. However, I went into the theater knowing that it was going to have an “indie” feel to it since it wasn’t going to have that overpowering Hollywood studio touch. For me, that made it better. There was an actual story that was being told. It wasn’t just a spectacle for the sake of being a spectacle where laughs are forced down your throat. It was subtle in its humor, deadpan sarcasm from my favorite actor.

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The actors were incredible. The West Virginian accents threw me for a loop but became endearing as the film progressed. Adam as the one-handed Clyde Logan was amazing, as always, but I doubt I would ever find a performance of his less than phenomenal. I am not as well versed with Channing Tatum’s repertoire as I am with Adam’s, but I was pleasantly surprised to see such a real character portrayal from him. He was a delight on screen and deserving of the heart strings that he pulled. Daniel Craig was a fire-cracker. Even as someone who is not familiar with his role as James Bond, I was still amazed at the reckless energy he exuded as Joe Bang. He stole every scene he was in, which is a lot for me to say considering that meant I wasn’t looking at Adam Driver. Riley Keough played the Logan brothers’ sister, and she was just as fierce with her spit-fire knowledge of muscle cars and highways.

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The only performance that irked me was Seth McFarlane’s. It just felt like Seth McFarlane pretending to be an annoying man with a fake British accent and a bad wig. I feel like there are two types of actors: the ones who pretend to be someone else and those who become someone else. And surrounded by actors who so flawlessly became their characters, McFarlane stuck out like a sore thumb.

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Despite it feeling like an Indie film, it still was just a damn good heist movie. Even though as an audience member, I knew the premise of the film, I was still surprised with how it unraveled. As a viewer, you think you know exactly what is happening until you realize that you don’t. It was unsettling at the end, like clashing notes on a piano, but then once I got my bearings on what was actually happening, it left me with an excitement that carried me through the rest of the evening. I walked out that theater wanting nothing more than to turn around and see it again, to find the things I might have missed, to stare at Adam Driver’s beautiful hair once more (Ok, I’ll lay off the Adam Driver love).

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For those who may be expecting a plot-driven Hollywood blockbuster, it might have a slow buildup. The storytelling of the film is truly beautiful. As I’ve said a million times by now, it is subtle, but utterly engaging. When films try and force a reaction out of me, it yanks me right out of the narrative. It truly was beautifully written. In fact this is the writer, Rebecca Blunt’s, first script to be made into a movie. There were some theories that she is perhaps a ghost writer or doesn’t exist at all, but I like to believe that female screenwriters can write a kick-ass script right out of the gate without being accused a fraud.

So with this review/history of Logan Lucky, I urge anyone who reads this to go see it. If you get nothing at all from the film, well, at least you get to stare at Channing Tatum for 2+ hours.

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What I Learned by Traveling Alone

Recently, I went to Denver, CO to visit one of my best friends who moved there for work. Not only had I never been there before, but I also had never traveled by myself before. I’d only flown twice before in my life and both times I was surrounded by my family. It’s pretty hard to get lost when you travel with a small army of 9 people (including the in-laws) everywhere you go.

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Before I left, my mom drew me a map of the airport, explaining exactly where I should go and where to find my gate. It was helpful in theory, but as soon as I entered the airport all of her well-intended advice flew out the window, and I practically threw my boarding pass at a very kind employee who pointed me in the right direction. Security was pretty quick, but I did have to get patted down because I stupidly wore bobby pins and pants with an excessive amount of zippers.

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So I guess Lesson #1 is when in doubt, ask someone for help and Lesson #2 is don’t wear pants that have zippered pockets because then a lady will rub your crotch with the back of her gloved hands and test your fingertips for explosives.

Once I made it through security, my next stop was finding my gate. I got distracted by the bar on the way there, but then decided that maybe a cocktail at 11 A.M. wasn’t a good idea especially since I already felt like I was going to vomit with the anticipation of boarding by myself.

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Lesson #3 is to never turn down the bar. It’s been a week and I am still regretting not grabbing a drink to make flying more enjoyable. Instead of a nice cold rum and Coke, I got an iced coffee and a muffin that I couldn’t finish because my stomach was in knots. Again, a quick shot of something would have fixed that rather quickly. Don’t make the same mistakes I did.

Since I am a freak, I got to the airport super early and ended up sitting at my gate for almost 2 hours. But honestly, it was probably for the better since my gate changed. I had to go in the complete opposite direction of where I was, which brought me past the bar yet again, and yet again, I turned it down. Please refer to Lesson #3, NEVER TURN DOWN THE BAR.

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Lesson #4 is to always check the screens around you to make sure you are at the right gate in case it does change. When my mom was prepping me, she said that gate changes rarely happen, so of course when I am flying alone for the first time, my gate changes. Lesson #5 is to wear comfortable shoes because whether or not your gate gets changed, you will be doing a lot of walking around the airport. And maybe wearing those flats that are cute but give you horrible blisters is not the best thing to wear.

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Lesson #6 is to try and be the first group that boards the plane. My mom told me I would be Zone 1, but I was not. So Lesson #7 is don’t listen to your mother. Just kidding, moms notoriously have pretty great advice; mine just happened to be striking out that day. If you board first, you have the luxury of having your baggage in the compartment above your seat, and you get to get all situated before everyone else boards. I was not that lucky. Both times, to and from Denver, I had to have my luggage put somewhere random on the plane and people were already seated in my row. Lesson #8, if the compartment above your seat it full, try to put your luggage in front of where you are seated because otherwise you will have to wait for the people behind you to get off the plane when it lands before you can get your bag.

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Once I landed in Denver, it was just a matter of following signs. I thought I was doing so well. Since my friend was still at work when I arrived, I had to take an Uber to her apartment. It seemed easy enough, so once I was outside I ordered my ride. And right when the car was a minute away, I realized that I was at the wrong exit on the wrong floor. Lesson #9 is to make sure that the dot that represents your location is near the pick-up location. Seems self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised. Luckily, I had a nice driver who waited for me to find him.

Finally, Lesson #10 is to have a good time. Once you’ve made it to your destination, don’t let the little things get to you. Take advantage of the fact that you’re in a new place and just enjoy yourself.

Who do I think I am? I traveled once by myself and I suddenly think I’m Dora the Explorer. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed these off-kilter lessons I learned about traveling.

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