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Put Some Real Clothes On and Get Your Damn Hair Out of Your Face!

February 26, 2013

If you follow me on twitter or talk to me on a regular basis, you might have noticed that I recently finished watching the entirety of Lost. I know, I’m a little late to hop on that bandwagon, but all the seasons were on Netflix, and all I do now-a-days is watch shows on Netflix, so why not? I’m not going to go into too much detail on what I thought about the series; this post isn’t about that (but if you want to talk about it another time, I’d be more than willing to oblige). Instead, there was something about the two main female characters that always bothered me. When trekking through the jungle, they’d usually have their hair pulled back. But no matter how sweaty or sticky they seemed to be, there were always two clumps of hair loose from their ponytails, one on each side of their face. And it’s not like the strands weren’t quite long enough to fit in the pony tail… And they never seemed to want to brush it behind their ears. So they always had this gross clump of hair in their face. Observe Kate, for example:

Getcho hair outcha face, guh!

Getcho hair outcha face, guh!

Why in the world doesn’t she have that shit pulled back? Is it more dramatic if she has stringy-ass bits of hair dangling in her face during a stressful moment? So this got me thinking about all the other times I’ve wondered about similar unrealistic female portrayals in television and movies. So I’m going to write about a few.

Part 1 – Your Hair Is Annoying Me

Refer to Example No. 1 above. I don’t understand how Kate is supposed to function as a rational human being with all that hair in her face (Oh wait! It’s because she doesn’t function like a rational human being. Because she sucks.) Get that gross hair out of your eyes so you can properly track people or whatever. I understand that maybe sometimes that hair will come loose, but just shove it back behind your ear. You’re sweaty enough that it’s gonna stay put for quite some time. Or rip up an old cloth and make a bandana to wrap around your head. Only the guys seemed to understand the usefulness of a bandana in this show! And here’s another example:

KatnissWhile I’m a huge fan of what some people have unfortunately started calling “the Katniss braid,” Cinna should have known better than to send that poor girl out into the arena without a bobby-pin or two. I can’t complain too much about Katniss’s hair though, because she does a pretty good job of keeping it out of her face throughout the games. But if Cinna had just maybe started that french braid a little bit higher up to include those little pieces… That is my No. 1 updo for keeping my hair out of my face when I don’t have a bobby pin for those small strands/bangs. Or, again and better yet, get that girl a bandana!

Black WidowHere’s another good example of questionable hair styles for someone who is supposed to be kicking ass. So I know Black Widow is a stupid-awesome assassin and stuff, but I bet you she’d be even better if she had her hair pulled back. When you have all that hair flying around everywhere, it starts to get all tangled and gross. If you’re sweaty (which despite all the kick-flips and running she does in the movie, she never seems to be), that rat’s nest is gonna want to stick to you. And then you get all itchy and bothered. And your hair gets in your face! Maybe that’s why she decided to cut it all off for the Avengers Initiative (even though I still see flaws in the short do). 

You see this mistake being made in all sorts of Hollywood movies, not just action dramas. Actually, I think the most annoyed I’ve ever been concerning a girl’s hair in a movie is Blake Lively’s character, Bridget, from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (yeah, I know… leave me alone). I mean, Bridget is supposed to be this super awesome soccer star, and while I guess she’s trying to be hot for that cute guy or whatever, her hair is down whenever she’s practicing or running. Take this clip, for example.

Oh yeah, the team is running on the beach! Look at all the other girls with their hair pulled back like normal people. Aaaaaaaand here comes Bridget trotting along with her hair loose and blowing in the wind. And now she’s just going to collapse in the sand and still somehow look attractive even though in reality she’s probably sweaty and gross. And you know she’s going to have so much sand to wash out of her hair later that day. Ugh, just thinking about that makes me cringe.

Anyway, I could probably go on forever about this. But first lemme point out a few girls who got the memo. (Note: Having bangs is completely acceptable as long as they don’t obscure your vision in any way.)

Hair-Doing It Right

Doing It Right

Part 2 – Put Some Real Clothes On

I guess I understand the motives behind making female superheroes scantily clad, but really what are they trying to achieve from that? Is there some sort of advantage to having a square cut out of your jumpsuit right at the chest area? Is it so your cleavage can breathe? Do high-heeled boots train you to balance better? Does a shiny, black, skin-tight pleather jumpsuit make you sweat out all of your demons? Because these things sure as hell aren’t making you a better fighter or whatever. Take Trinity from The Matrix and Catwoman from The Dark Knight Rises:

Picture2CatwomanShiny leather from head to toe, not to mention heeled boots. I suppose it doesn’t really affect their ability to move quickly, because they seem to do that just fine in the movies, but that shit can’t be comfortable. I can honestly say that I’ve never put on a leather/pleather jumpsuit, so perhaps I’m mistaken, but this get-up just doesn’t seem ideal for anyone. And maybe I’m just clumsier than most (and I don’t really think I am), but when has running and fighting in heeled boots ever seemed like a good idea? I’m sure a kick in the face might hurt a little more if you take a stiletto to the chin, but that person still has to be able to keep balance on the other heel to kick you in the first place, especially since she has a very good chance of breaking her ankle. Now, I understand that some people are infinitely more skilled in the art of wearing high-heels, and I’m sure these ladies have a lot of experience wearing them, but they are still not the ideal shoe to wear for anything remotely athletic. Unless you’re Beyoncé… I bet Beyoncé could kick your ass in six-inch stilettos.


Now, let’s talk about spandex. I am all about some spandex. Or really just stretchy fabrics in general. If you’re looking to do something remotely athletic, I’ll put you in Lululemon, no questions asked. You can run and stretch and be oh-so comfortable, especially if it’s moisture wicking. If I was some sort of badass heroine in a comic book or movie, a comfortable “work” outfit would be ideal. However, sometimes you need to sacrifice a little comfort for something a little more sturdy. If I’m in a line of work where people shoot at me a lot, I’m probably not going to be prancing around in a spandex suit. I’m going to have as much kevlar covering me as possible. And some comfortable boots.

Katniss outfitThere’s a reason SWAT teams wear helmets and bullet-proof vests; you’d think these women would’ve noticed. Now, I guess this isn’t ideal if you’re trying to use seduction as an advantage, but I think you could try to be a little creative with your armor to accomplish that. So maybe this isn’t the best (or least dorky) example, but take Lightning from Final Fantasy 13. Maybe not too terribly seductive, but she is wearing a mini-skirt. But look! Sturdy boots, some weird shoulder pad (yes, singular – she only has one), leather gloves; she’s well on her way to being relatively well-protected. Never underestimate good, sturdy leather! And let me revisit Katniss for a moment. Even though her hair was still in her face, Cinna gave her a very appropriate set of clothes to go into the games with. Sure, she doesn’t have any sort of armor (I’m sure she wasn’t allowed any), but she has practical shoes and pants for trekking through the woods, a plain black shirt, and a lined raincoat. If you know what potential hazards you could be getting into, dress for success! I guess I’m not a fan of the impractically-clad seductress. I’d just rather be a badass.


Hollywood and comic books and television and everything else pop-culture oriented needs to think more about their female characters and dress them accordingly. Because I don’t like when their outfits/hairstyles don’t make sense. And everyone should try to appease me as much as possible.

Smells Like Christmas Spirit

December 6, 2012


Ah, Christmas! There’s no time like Christmas Time. There’s no cheer like Christmas cheer. There are no Bloody Marys like Christmas Bloody Marys. There’s no glitter-induced anxiety like Christmas glitter-induced anxiety. This time of year always gets me thinking about the things that matter most, like family, friends, presents, parties, alcohol, cold-weather attire, presents, eating gluttonous amounts of food, days off from work, wondering if it will finally snow (or be 70 degrees like it was last year), leg warmers, presents, holiday specials, presents, watching It’s A Wonderful Life on television and remembering back when I played Zuzu Bailey in the JJP production (97? 98?) and was awarded Most Promising Performer, thank you very much (“Every time a bell rings, a motherfucking angel gets its wings!”), and presents.

ImageIt is my understanding that this holiday is about showing people that you acknowledge their existence by giving them presents. Usually the price and thought behind these presents vary in degree according to how much you like/want to impress its recipient. For example, I am a horrible gift picker-outer for my friends, so I usually end up baking stuff for them. It may not seem like much, but I think they appreciate it for the time and care I put into each confection, and also it’s edible and delicious (you’re welcome). My sisters, on the other hand, are incredibly easy for me to find gifts for. The problem is I don’t want to spend


too much money on them, mostly because I don’t want to overdo it and I like saving my money so I can buy things for myself. Gift giving is incredibly difficult for those of us that want to make sure we’re not wasting our money to get you something you don’t particularly want. There’s nothing worse than getting that half-assed, “Oh, thank you, Grandma! I’ll add this frog figurine to the hoard of other frog things that you obviously decided I needed to start collecting since you give them to me every single year.”

ImageI think the problem lies in communication. People try to be all coy about what they want: “Oh, it doesn’t matter. I’m sure I’ll love anything you get me.” Not true. Instead of trying to seem all nonchalant and accepting, why don’t you actually be helpful and tell me what the hell you want! And don’t give that bullshit about it not meaning anything if I don’t pick it out myself. How about I get you a hand grenade and a toilet plunger? That means I love you, right?

So, every year since I was old enough to properly format documents on a word processor, I have typed out a list of the things I want for Christmas. My mom asks for it, so I make it. And since day 1, it has always started with a Grand Piano and some type of car (priorities). As I get older, the list becomes grander. And I’m always very descriptive. At first, I just used names and pictures of the things I wanted. Then I started getting a little more detailed; I began adding item numbers, ISBNs, hyperlinks, etc.

ImageThis year, I decided to strictly use hyperlinks since it saves much needed space (quantity is key). Most of the items will need to be purchased online anyway, so I might as well take the reader straight to business. I try to make it as user-friendly as possible. There’s a precise art to Christmas List making.

I just finished the third update of my list, so I think I might as well share it here. Be sure to take notes.

Merry Christmas to me!


Pure Barre! LTB – Easy as 1, 2, 3! (Yeah right…)

September 20, 2012

Today marks the anniversary of the very first class I took at Pure Barre New Orleans. I remember it like it was yesterday… It was a Tuesday 5:30 class taught by the lovely Alli Craig. I was a little nervous because I felt incredibly unprepared for what was ahead of me – I owned absolutely no athletic apparel except shorts (and we all know you can’t just wear shorts for Pure Barre), I was out of shape from having a rather lazy summer, and I was surrounded by strangers. Having arrived way too early, I found my anxiety rising with each tick of that red clock. The suspense was terrible! What if I was bad at it? What if I didn’t understand what the teacher was saying? What if I break my ankle and have to be rushed to the hospital where they’ll tell me they have to amputate my leg and – yes, this is how my mind works. All this irrationality was completely unwarranted of course. Once that warm-up music started playing… man, I was in the zone!

PB Nola, ftw!

From that moment on, Pure Barre turned into my escape from the stress of school, work, and the world. The loud music, the driving tempo, the motivation of the instructors – it’s the perfect combination to get my energy up and my muscles working. And I’m not alone! There are at least 20 other people in class with me, all working to achieve the same goals: tucking a little deeper, lifting a little higher, squeezing a little harder. As an instructor, I find that the clients are my biggest motivation to take things to the next level. If they don’t come out of forearm plank, I certainly can’t either. Even if I’m absolutely exhausted from a long day at work, if the people around me are working to their limit, then challenge accepted! I’ll just have to work to my limit too! It’s this sort of driving, motivating community that brings me back to the barre each time. I love when I’m teaching and I tell everyone to “push their heels an inch higher and take their hips an inch lower” right before that final 10-count in thighs. I can see the determination in their eyes, the setting of their jaws, as they fight through those last seconds. They know it’s almost over, and they will push through the shaking and the fatigue and give it their best.

Training with Ashley, Alli, and Mandy
(PB Corporate, Denver, CO)

Whenever someone asks me about my favorite part in class, I always say that it’s the very end – that moment when you give your last big exhale and slowly roll up out of your stretch. In that moment, all the fatigue from class mixes with an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. After surviving a Pure Barre class, I feel like I could conquer anything I set my mind to. It’s an exercise that builds strength in your muscles, but more importantly to me, it builds strength of mind, strength of character. You always hear about football being 10% physical and 90% mental; I’d say Pure Barre is the same (and we’ve had Saints players take class before – it’s hard for them too). I finish a class and suddenly the problems in my life don’t seem so daunting. I can take a deep breath, clear my head, and focus on one issue at a time. I feel more confident and driven to achieve all the things I see ahead of me. If something else troublesome is thrown my way, I just go back to the barre to de-stress and motivate. And what better motivation is there when you can actually see the change in your body and feel the strength you now possess.

Pure Barre isn’t just an exercise class: it’s a way of life. It’s that 55 minutes of the day when you can focus inward and do something for yourself – because how can you expect to take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of you first? After just one year of Pure Barre, I am physically stronger, more motivated, exponentially healthier, and overall happier. I am a proud Pure Barrista! Now who wants to LTB with me?


We Can’t Be in Love Like the Movies…

June 6, 2012

I don’t think many people would classify me as a “romantic”. In fact, I wouldn’t even classify myself as such given the fact that I’m incredibly cynical and astronomically self-conscious when it comes to any sort of potentially romantic situation. Despite all of this, I still seem to find the time and interest to watch romantic comedies and romantic dramas. I don’t always enjoy these types of movies (actually, I usually end up wanting to vomit after most), but there are a select few that I legitimately enjoy for one reason or another. Now, I’m no expert on the matter, and sometimes I tend to have the emotional range of a teaspoon, but today I’d like to discuss a few Romance/Rom-Com films and why I think they are either adorable or incredibly stupid… And let’s add some quotes for good measure.

Movie 1 – You’ve Got Mail

Synopsis: Back in the days when AOL was still relevant, this charming film about small-business children’s bookstore owner Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) and big-time corporate Fox Books chain owner Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) presents the terribly romantic idea that a person you might see every day of the week but never really notice could be the love of your life. The two meet in an online chat room (remember those?) for over 30s in New York, immediately hit it off, and continue to correspond each day through email, finding themselves become more and more attached to the phrase “you’ve got mail,” despite already having a significant other. Little do these characters know that they traverse the same streets every morning to get to work and that they both happen to be “in the book business.” What will happen when Kathleen’s small children’s book store, The Shop Around the Corner, starts losing business to the giant Fox Books chain store that’s opening in the same neighborhood? And will Joe ever be able to convince Kathleen that he’s not the corporate jackass that she originally thinks he is?

Spoiler Alert?

Analysis: I don’t remember how old I was when I first saw You’ve Got Mail (it came out in 1998, so I was at least 8 years old), but I know I was relatively young. As you may have picked up from my tone in the synopsis (or maybe not – tone can be tricky sometimes), I absolutely adore this movie. It comes on television a lot (I think usually on Bravo), and I always find myself watching it. The story is a little hokey I suppose, but I enjoy the characters and the way they develop. I find it extremely and emotionally satisfying the way Kathleen starts off hating Joe (really, how can you hate Tom Hanks?), but slowly begins to change her point of view about him. It’s one of the few romantic comedies that I find myself quoting (and people usually don’t get the reference – what else is new?). The characters are pretty standard for a Rom-Com – quirky with an unusual ability to spit out witticisms on a whim – but Tom and Meg make them seem incredibly relatable. And the film is lacking in those incredibly stupid scenes where some sort of hijinks occurs in order to squeeze out a few laughs (e.g. someone somehow getting stranded somewhere without their clothes, some furry animal attacking the main male character’s face, breaking something seemingly important and going through all sorts of trouble to get it fixed or hide it, etc.). And did I mention Dave Chappelle is in it?

Quotes: “The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.” – Joe Fox

“’Joe’? ‘Just call me Joe’? As if you were one of those stupid 22-year old girls with no last name? ‘Hi, I’m Kimberly!’ ‘Hi, I’m Janice!’ Don’t they know you’re supposed to have a last name? It’s like they’re an entire generation of cocktail waitresses.” – Kathleen Kelly

“Kevin, this is possibly the most adorable creature I’ve ever been in contact with, and if she turns out to be as good looking as a mailbox… I would be crazy enough to turn my life upside down and marry her.” – Joe Fox

Movie 2 – The Notebook

Synopsis: One of those Nicholas Sparks films where boy (Ryan Gosling) meets girl (Rachel McAdams). Girl’s parents are stuck up assholes and don’t approve of boy (again let me state that this boy is RYAN MCDREAMY-FACE GOSLING), but they end up falling in love anyway. Then, like, the girl goes off somewhere, and the mom keeps the boys letters, so the girl thinks the boy forgot about her, and then the girl falls in love with a much more impressive man who has money and status and stuff, but still finds herself thinking about boy, and blah blah blah, something about Alzheimer’s.

Analysis: It was way late in the game when I finally watched The Notebook two years ago. It started coming on ABC Family for some reason, so I thought, “What the hell? Let’s see what all the hubbub is about.” So I watched the movie… What a complete load of B-S and a waste of 123 minutes. Why were people crying during this movie? Because Rachel McAdams’s character is a fickle little bitch? What is the appeal of this love story? Honestly, I was hoping girl would go back to big fancy city man with the money. She loved him after all. What would life with boy given her? Since this love story is basically a flashback of a story the boy is telling the girl once their old and married with kids and stuff, we learn that she gets all that, but how is this young little immature knit-whit supposed to know that?  And nobody was surprised to find out that the old lady was actually her and the man was telling their story. The romance isn’t even that clever or interesting. It’s like listening to that Taylor Swift song where she talks about short-skirts and sneakers, except reverse the genders and make it 41x longer. Ugh, let me just go ahead and give you that quote everyone knows:

Best part of the whole movie.

Quote: “So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, you and me, every day. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life for me? 30 years from now, 40 years from now? What’s it look like? If it’s with him, go. Go! I lost you once, I think I can do it again. If I thought that’s what you really wanted. But don’t you take the easy way out.” – Noah

(I actually don’t mind this part of the movie because he just ends up yelling at her and making her cry. Stupid bitty.)

Movie 3 – Emma/Pride & Prejudice/Sense & Sensibility

Synopsis: I’ve clumped these films together because they’re basically the same type of movie; Jane Austen-based films occurring during the Georgian Era focusing on societal issues, specifically through the point of view of a strong female lead. If you want an actual plot summary for each… well, just go to Google.

Analysis: I’m not entirely sure why, but there is something incredibly appealing to me about these films. Basically acting as representations of the Georgian society’s gentry class’s desire to create advantageous unions between a family with only daughters (thus giving the family the inability to pass on any sort of wealth once the patron has passed as prescribed by law) and the heirs to some wealthy houses, these movies attempt to bring love into the picture, making them completely unrealistic (Emma might be the exception since her marriage is actually quite fitting with her and her eventual husband’s status). I guess it’s the pretty dresses and the coats with tails that make me love these movies so much.

Life was simpler then…

I think every girl in the world swoons over Mr. Darcy, (and who’d blame them with 10,000 a year!), but I think there’s something about the language, the formality of social interactions, the chivalrous nature of society that I find entertaining. I mean, I want to go to a ball in a big English manor house and dance around the marble floors with a man whose income could guarantee I’d live a more-than-comfortable life if I am able to win him over. With Elizabeth and Darcy, there’s the whole “I hated you, but now I realize I love you” thing. With Elinor and Edward, it’s the “you’re secretly engaged to a knit-whit, but I love you” thing. And Emma and Knightly have the whole “We’re best friends, and I just realized that I love you” thing. Is it strange to find these things appealing? No, because I think everyone can at least appreciate that last one. Isn’t your significant other supposed to be your best friend anyway? I know that’s a really hackneyed storyline for a film, but it doesn’t make it any less appealing, especially when there are carriages, parasols, and the English countryside involved. If given a time machine, I’d have a hard time keeping myself from traveling back to such an era. My 8th grade history teacher, Mr. Lester, gave me and the other girls in my class this advice: if we ever gain the ability to travel through time, never go backwards. You will be stripped of most (if not all) of the rights to which you have grown accustomed. The same goes for minorities (basically anyone who isn’t white, male, and Protestant). The future will most likely involve more opportunities for your sex/race. Plus there were a lot of shifty health related issues back in the day. But I digress….

A more awesome version of Pride and Prejudice.

Quotes: “I do not wish to call you my friend, because I hoped to call you something infinitely more dear… I rode through the rain! I’d – I’d ride through worse than that if I could just hear your voice telling me that I might, at least, have some chance to win you.” – Mr. Knightley

Did I just agree to dance with Mr. Darcy?” – Elizabeth

“I daresay you will find him to be very amiable.” – Charlotte

That would be most inconvenient since I have sworn to loathe him for all eternity.” – Elizabeth

“What do you know of my heart? What do you know of anything but your own suffering? For weeks, Marianne, I’ve had this pressing on me without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature. It was forced on my by the very person whose prior claims ruined all my hope. I have endured her exultations again and again whilst knowing myself to be divided from Edward forever. Believe me, Marianne, had I not been bound to silence I could have provided proof enough of a broken heart, even for you.” – Elinor

(Side Note: I don’t actually like Jane Austen books. I’ve tried to read the three mentioned above, and I just can’t make it all the way through them. I enjoy the movies more than the books. That’s probably the only time you will ever hear me say that.)

Movie 4 – Say Anything…

Synopsis: Underachiever Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) finds himself romantically drawn toward overachieving Diane Court (Ione Skye). Diane, who is a little bit socially inept but very intelligent and hard-working, is surprised to find herself equally drawn to Lloyd. Having just graduated from high school, Diane is offered a fellowship to study abroad in England. Lloyd continues to woo her during the summer before she leaves, but her father turns out to be a bit of a problem. He disapproves of Lloyd and encourages Diane to break up with him, thinking she could do much better. Diane’s father also falls under the investigation of the IRS because of some sort of tax stuff concerning the nursing home he owns (yup, he owns a nursing home…). Diane struggles between the wishes and convictions of her father and her growing romantic interest toward the absolutely adorable Lloyd. What will Diane decide to do?

Analysis: So I’ve seen this movie a few times, and no matter how many times I watch it, I just can’t seem to grow to love it. Everyone tells me that it’s one of the most romantic movies ever, and it’s so great. Honestly, it just bores me. The only thing I like about this movie is John Cusack, because duh! I’ll admit that the story is pretty endearing: a girl has a difficult decision to make regarding her future, whether it’s staying by her father’s side during his times of trouble or getting to finally celebrate youth and love before she has to leave in the fall. I’ve never been in this situation, but the way these difficult situations are portrayed in the movie seem pretty legitimate to me. This is one of those movies that I wish I liked (sometimes I even say I do like it if it comes up in conversation), but I really just can’t get into it. It’s slow-moving and not that satisfying. Despite all of this, I still wish a young John Cusack would stand outside my house with a boom box lifted over his head playing Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”.

It’s my belief that “In Your Eyes” is about a guy who falls in love with a girl who has laser vision.

Quote: “She’s gone. She gave me a pen. I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen.” – Lloyd Dobler

Movie 5 – Love Actually

Synopsis: This is a movie starring all of your favorite British actors and actresses (plus Laura Linney), recounting their tales of love found and love lost. There are way too many stories to go through, and I’m incredibly lazy, so just go watch the movie yourself if you haven’t already seen it.

Analysis: I’m not sure I’ve ever spoken with someone who has seen Love Actually and didn’t enjoy it. It’s another movie (like You’ve Got Mail) that I can watch countless times and never get sick of (probably because there’s so much going on). Even though each person has their own story to tell, all the stories are somehow connected with each other, allowing you to enter this little microcosm and connect with each relationship. Some of the stories are very upsetting: cheating spouses, recently passed spouses, falling in love with your best mate’s fiancé/wife, being unable to commit to any romantic relationship because of the constant attention required from a disabled family member. Then there are the stories that are adorable: a little boy falls in love with his classmate from America, a man learns Portuguese in order to finally understand the woman he loves (and she in turn learns English for him), the Prime Minister falls in love with his “chubby” secretary (actually, that romance is probably my least favorite), a guy goes to America and gets lots of ass because of his plucky British accent (well there’s your synopsis I guess). It shows both the ups and downs that come with love, whether it’s platonic or romantic. It’s got those quirky characters every romantic comedy has (at one point Hugh Grant dances around what I can only assume is Number 10 Downing Street), but their quirks aren’t really any different than a normal person’s (I would definitely dance around Number 10 if given the chance). It’s encouraging, even for the tragic tales, because even if you’ve loved and lost, there is always someone there who still loves you. There is always a support system of family and friends around to help you through the tough times. Just thinking about the very end of the movie puts a smile of my face.

If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Quote: “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.” – David (Prime Minister)

Movie 6 – Pretty In Pink

Synopsis: Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) has a big crush on popular dude Blane McDonough (Andrew McCarthy). When they start dating, they receive all sorts of pressure from their respective social groups. Blane is a “richie” and has a douche bag friend named Steff (James “Dr. Daniel Jackson” Spader) who constantly points out that Andie doesn’t belong in their circle because she lives with her unemployed dad and works at a record store and is definitely way too New Wave for their world of posh sport coats and button down oxfords. Andie’s best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer) is in love with her, but always plays it out as a joke for some reason and wears hip outlandishly patterned shirts and those circular-framed John Lennon sunglasses. Yadda, yadda, yadda, stereotypes, and jealousy, and teen angst, and 80’s hair. Eventually, Blane and Andie end up making out in the parking lot of the school.

Analysis: I hope disliking Pretty In Pink isn’t a crime against humanity (as some people make it seem to be), because there isn’t really much of anything I like about this movie. It’s your typical teenage drama where cliques and societal norms are the antagonists. In the end, everyone learns a little something about themselves and the world, and even the sympathetic supporting character gets a hopeful ending. Maybe it’s just something about 80’s romance-genre movies that I don’t like. I will admit that Pretty In Pink is a lot better than some of the teen romance films coming out today. All of those seem to be produced by Disney and usually involve singing and dancing. At least Pretty In Pink depicts its included societal issues in a serious way.

Really? How could Molly resist that fine piece of meat?

Quote: “You said you couldn’t be with someone who didn’t believe in you. Well I believed in you. I just didn’t believe in me. I love you… always.” – Blane McDonough (Now let’s go make out.)

Those are the only movies I’m going to go into in this post, but just in case you wanted to know more of my likes and dislikes, here is a list of some more movies:

Winners:  Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Harold and Maude, Casablanca, When Harry Met Sally, (regrettably) Ever After, (why not) Gone With the Wind, (sometimes) Titanic (but expect me to enhance the film with my personal witty remarks), The Princess Bride, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, My Fair Lady (though I like to think this less romance and more mutual fondness), (500) Days of Summer, While You Were Sleeping, My Best Friend’s Wedding, There’s Something About Mary, Cruel Intentions (you know you love it too), Never Been Kissed (guilty pleasure), The Wedding Singer, Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, and anything else involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.

Losers: Dirty Dancing, Moulin Rouge, Shakespeare In Love, Jerry McGuire, Romeo + Juliet, Pretty Woman, Grease, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Failure to Launch, He’s Not That Into You, Love And Other Drugs, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Sleepless in Seattle, A Walk to Remember, Memoire’s of a Geisha (except the cinematography and score are absolutely breathtaking), Tristan and Isolde, Sex and the City: The Movie, and anything else stupid.

I’m not saying that I have the best taste in movies, and I’m not saying that just because I think a movie isn’t very good means that everyone else has to think so too. Some of the movies I’ve listed under “Losers” are highly acclaimed films, while some of the movies under “Winners” aren’t really anything to brag about. I won’t make any sort of snap judgment about you if you like one of the movies I don’t (the only thing that gets a snap judgment from me is if you like Twilight) or hold it against you. Also, a lot of winners and losers are absent from the list because I just couldn’t think of them (I Googled “romance movies” and went through the ones that the sites gave me). I also haven’t seen a lot of romance movies, as it isn’t really my first genre of choice (that would be Sci-Fi/Fantasy), and I didn’t want to present any sort of judgment on well-known films that I just haven’t watched yet (again, unless it’s Twilight – I haven’t seen any of those movies, and I have no problem judging them). So what’s your favorite romance?

The Dark Side of Hakuna Matata

March 28, 2012

I must admit that I am one of those twenty-somethings that still watches and thoroughly enjoys Disney Movies. I watch them because not only do they remind me of my childhood and all of its innocence, but because gosh darnit! those songs are so freakin’ catchy! My mother has given me multiple accounts of when I used to sit down to watch a movie with her (e.g. Robin Hood, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc.) and pretty much recite the entire script as well as provide a bit of the acting. Those of you who have ever watched a movie with me (one that I love) will notice that this little tidbit about me hasn’t really changed. There’s something terribly satisfying in singing “A Whole New World” at the top of your lungs, or referring to someone as “the pink of perfection”, or dreaming about living in a sweet-ass treehouse on a deserted island, or getting extremely disappointed when you find out in third grade history class that Pocahontas doesn’t end up with John Smith and that talking willow trees didn’t have a hand in the British colonization of America! But it’s these sorts of things that stay with us all through our lives. We feel a connection to others when we understand their references, whether if it’s by quacking to cheer someone on or by giving a shrug and a hakuna matata to someone who feels they should apologize…

Which was why my mind was utterly blown a few weeks ago when I realized the true purpose of the phrase “Hakuna Matata” in The Lion King.

So maybe I was a little slow in figuring this out, but for years I thought that Hakuna Matata was this great thing that lets you enjoy life as a free spirit and eat bugs and look at cool waterfalls and all that nonsense. I’ll admit that I hadn’t actually watched The Lion King for a few years before it started coming on ABC Family recently (I think the last time I watched it was my Sophomore year in high school French class, and I don’t think that actually counts), but I know all the words to every single song in that movie! Okay, maybe not “Be Prepared,” but cut me a little slack. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that “Hakuna Matata” is/was their favorite song in the movie. And why shouldn’t it be? It’s incredibly catchy and sung by a meerkat and a warthog! Duh! Of course everyone is going to love it! It’s not until you put the term into context (which apparently I hadn’t ever done until recently) that you discover the true nature of the phrase. Once you figure this out, you realize that Hakuna Matata is as much as the enemy as Scar. It’s so unassuming since it has such a catchy name and tune, but it’s what essentially alters Simba’s mind to think that forgetting his past and giving up his kingdom is a great idea because, hey! No worries!

Hakuna Matata?

First of all, I think we should go back to the very origin of the phrase. In Swahili, “Hakuna Matata” translates to “no worries,” as I’m sure many of you already know since it’s in the song. What you might not know is that this phrase is connected with Ubuntu, an African humanistic philosophy that places an emphasis on the connectivity of humans. I think Nelson Mandela illustrates the idea very nicely in this interview by saying:

“A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu, but it will have various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to be able to improve?”

Umm, sorry Simba, but I’m pretty sure there was no “enriching” during your Hakuna Matata phase. Instead of Hakuna Matata meaning “no worries for the rest of your days,” it refers to the “no worries” that comes with understanding that not everything is in your control. It is a phrase to put things into perspective and helps you to realize that everything happens for a reason. Things don’t always go according to plan, but don’t worry because life goes on. This is a very beautiful way to think of the phrase.

Moving back to The Lion King, it’s important to understand that Timon is kind of an idiot. If you’ve ever seen The Lion King 1 ½ (which everyone should because it’s hilarious – I own it if you need to borrow it), you’ll know that Rafiki is the character who actually introduces Timon to the idea of Hakuna Matata. After leaving his home, Timon journeys across the savanna looking for his dream home (he sings a song about it) until he finds himself lost and sitting under Rafiki’s baobab tree. Cue the omniscient monkey and his fortune cookie advice. When Timon describes his dream home, “a carefree place where I don’t have to hide or worry,” Rafiki tells him that he seeks Hakuna Matata, and in order to get there, “[he] must look beyond what [he] seek[s].” And since we all know that Timon is an idiot, it’s no surprise that he translates this into literal terms, essentially just looking off into the distance until he sees Pride Rock. Rafiki had the right idea though. He was trying to tell Timon that in order to achieve “no worries,” he must look past all the bad things in order to be at peace in his mind. Rafiki meant it to be spiritual advice, but we all know that Timon has the spiritual capacity of… well, a meerkat!

Yes, this is an incredibly stable individual.

Knowing this, the whole Hakuna Matata lifestyle that Simba experiences in The Lion King is understandably explained. So here’s the problem: The Lion King 1 ½ came out after The Lion King. There was originally no explanation to why Timon or Pumba lived by the misunderstood motto. And poor Simba, just seeing his father die and nearly dying himself… No wonder he took so quickly to the phrase. For him, it was an easy way to forget his problems and live in the present. I don’t necessarily think living in the present was bad for him, but remember that his mother, his best friend, and the rest of the pride are left with Scar as a king. Simba’s innocence as a young cub insures that he doesn’t see his uncle as a villain, nor does he truly understand his responsibility to the kingdom. Timon and Pumba’s interpretation of Hakuna Matata just makes this worse. When the characters first meet the troubled Young Simba, Pumba, the slightly more Ubuntu one, tries to explain to him that he has to put his past behind him (“You gotta put your behind in your past…”) Timon then opens his mouth and the following dialogue occurs:

Timon: It’s “You got to put your past behind you.” Look, kid. Bad things happen, and you can’t do anything about it, right?

Simba: Right.

Timon: Wrong! When the world turns its back on you, you turn your back on the world.

Simba: Well, that’s not what I was taught.

Timon: Then maybe you need a new lesson. Repeat after me: Hakuna Matata.

Not great words to tell someone in Simba’s position. So Timon continues to rip away the ideals taught to Simba by his father, and share with him a false definition of Hakuna Matata. But then again, we’ve already established that Timon is an idiot, so… Simba is in such desperate need of reassurance that he lives by this idea until he grows into a man.

If that's not the awkward adolescent phase, then I don't know what is.

When Nala arrives, it all comes crashing down on him. Scar as the raving lunatic king who has brought ruin to the pride lands came as a surprise to everyone apparently. Don’t they know that Jeremy Irons does his voice? How could they not have seen this coming? Did no one else notice the menacing scar over his eye and the fact that he’s the only black-maned lion ever? Simba simply can’t handle this new realization. He’s put his “behind in his past” and tried to live a carefree life… by not caring about anything but himself (and Timon and Pumba). You’d think this would take him a little longer to piece together, but Disney being what it is, instead of spiraling into a pool of depression and anxiety and probably other psychological disorders, Simba learns that he can learn from his past and reclaim his kingdom.

[So I realize that Mufasa was already guiding Simba in the ways to rule the animal kingdom (i.e. the continuous cycle of predator and prey that is refashioned as “the Circle of Life”), but what now? Simba is so incredibly inexperienced, I’m surprised he’s successful enough to bring a sequel (but that’s not what this post is about, so I’ll spare you a lecture on inexperienced and immature monarchs from history).]

You must see the problem in the Hakuna Matata lifestyle that Timon and Pumba introduce to this poor lion cub. They’ve taken an incredibly humanistic and empowering phrase and turned it into a giant pile of selfish horse crap. Of course I don’t blame Timon for this; he’s incredibly thick and has his own problems to work out in the beginning. And Pumba just follows Timon’s lead. So, who do I blame? Rafiki. That’s right. The baboon. I understand his attempt to make people realize themselves what they must do or what they’re looking for, but it creates an impossibly large problem for the rest of the characters. A problem that he could not really have foreseen, but for an omniscient monkey, you’d think he’d be able to read people better.

No, please! Let's all take advice from the omniscient monkey. He's not crazy at all!

So what do you think about that catchy little song now?

Enough said.

Life-Style Changes

October 21, 2011

Recently I’ve been attempting to take better care of myself both physically and mentally. I’ve been trying to eat better foods, exercise more often, get to sleep early, and surround myself with positivity (which I realize sounds cheesy but bear with me and just go with it). Since I started college, I’ve been neglecting my health and just eating and drinking whatever I want without thought of repercussions. I suppose this was okay for the 18 year old Anna, but the 21 year old Anna is starting to worry about old habits dying hard as she grows older. Yes, I am very aware that I’m not really old yet, but I fear that if I don’t make a life-style change now while I have the ambition and time (and metabolism) to do so, I won’t ever do it. With my family’s history of heart disease, arthritis, and who knows what else, I need to get in shape now or face the consequences in the future. So here’s some stuff I’ve been doing!

First, I’ve been trying to eat healthier. My first three years of college were full of afternoons and evenings where I’d go out to eat somewhere with friends. As fun as this was, I now have neither the metabolism nor the income to do such things anymore. So New Orleans restaurants and I have sadly decided to separate. I still go out to eat occasionally (usually I get really intense cravings for certain things), but now-a-days I’ve been cooking my own meals. They’re usually made of random ingredients that I have lying around in the fridge or pantry, but I have been pretty successful in making some pretty delicious things (at least I think they’re delicious). I’ve been trying to fit more vegetables into my diet too, so they’re usually at least semi-nutritious (depending on what I cook them with).

Starting my new job has made my attempt at healthiness both harder and easier for various reasons. Depending on the day, I usually work a good chunk of hours where I sit at a desk in front of a computer and type my life away. This would be the opportune time for me to snack on something, but since I’m not at home, I usually don’t have anything readily available. I have been bringing granola bars or dry cereal with me lately and it sufficiently quenches my hunger until lunch or dinner. I’ve also been eating relatively light lunches along with my snacks in order to stretch out my food intake during the day. So far, I’ve been doing an okay job of this… until I get home and see that container of left over Cream Cheese Icing in the fridge… Also, my office often has leftover food from conferences and such, usually desserts, and I can’t help myself when it comes to free food!

Next, I’ve been working out more. In the morning before I go to work, I go to Tulane’s rec center and work out for about 35 minutes, and then get ready for work. This works out (haha, get it?) pretty well, especially since the shuttle I take downtown (where work is) has a stop right in front of the gym. This usually causes me to have semi-bad hair days, but I think the health benefits outweigh my lack of straight hair (I usually end up putting it up anyway). I eat a little bit of yogurt before my gym workout (just so I’m not running on empty), and when I get to work, I drink my coffee and eat some oatmeal. This usually holds me over until I eat lunch around 11. What’s especially good about working out so early is that there is always something for me to watch on the tv! (Boy Meets World, ABCFamily @ 6-7AM).

After a long day of work and/or class, I head over to Pure Barre. So you may be thinking, “What in the world is Pure Barre?” Well, let me just tell you! It’s a workout that was developed with ballet, yoga, and pilates in mind that uses “isometric movements set to fantastic music,” or so the website says. It’s super-duper hard, but man does it provide results. I’ve been at it for a month now, and I can see the definition of the muscles in my legs and seat that definitely wasn’t there before. It’s absolutely horrible while you’re doing it (the legs are the hardest for me), but I always feel really good afterwards (like I could conquer the world since I just conquered that horrible abdominal exercise). I also have a strange appreciation for today’s pop music from it as well. Every time I listen to the radio, instead of making me want to dance, it just makes me want to tuck and lift. I would recommend it to any woman who wants to make a major change in how her body looks but more importantly feels. And don’t worry if you can’t do all the exercises right off the bat (I know I definitely couldn’t); you get better over time. Just remember to keep that seat tucked!

The final thing that I’ve been doing is surrounding myself with positivity. No one likes a negative Nancy, so I’ve been trying really hard to take my cynical and sarcastic attitude and keep it locked away from social situations. I’ve also been a tad bit more proactive recently (and if you know me at all, you are probably aware of how apathetic I can be). I’m still pretty uncaring, but I can at least make my own decisions now. I am also more responsive to people that I feel are stepping over me (literally and figuratively). At shows or festivals, I have found that I have become more like my older sister when it comes to people bumping into me or trying to push me back. She is the queen of regulating, and though I haven’t really gotten bold enough to start that, I at least have the capacity to keep people from knocking me over (literally and figuratively). I need to stand up for myself after all!

I think that’s about it for now. Maybe if I start doing anything else, I’ll write an update. Baby steps, right? It’s just a little strange that I’m writing about this now since I didn’t go to the gym this morning, I won’t be going to Pure Barre later today, and I will be eating a huge hot dog and drinking copious amounts of alcohol tonight. But hey, it’s Homecoming weekend and my family is coming to town!

Allison and Anna’s Guide for the Triumphant Extermination of Roaches and All Things Roach Related

September 30, 2011

We don’t mess around.

If you do not know my sister (or if you didn’t read this blog post), let me tell you about her main fear in life: roaches. She’s absolutely terrified of them. I’m not a big fan of roaches myself (frankly I find them to be some of the most vile things that live on this earth), but I can still muster up the courage to take one out if there’s no one else around to do so. However, if there is someone around who is not completely helpless against those gross creatures, I usually let them take care of it as I stand very far away. There are a few things that I think are very important when it comes to roaches. Please continue reading as I outline the five key points of Allison and Anna’s Guide for the Triumphant Extermination of Roaches and All Things Roach Related. (Disclaimer: These rules tend to be somewhat graphic regarding the description of squished roaches and other various killing techniques. Please use caution in reading on if you are very squeamish or very sensitive to roaches. Please do not continue reading if you feel any sort of remorse when it comes to killing roaches, because frankly, I don’t understand you, nor do I have any desire to talk to you or know you.)

Rule #1: Make sure it’s dead.

This is the most important rule of all, which is why I’m listing it first. I think we’ve all had experiences where we’ve gone to squish a roach, and it continued to crawl around with half its guts gushing out. I think it’s best to use the “Double Tap” method here (also very helpful in killing Zombies), but by “double tap,” I really mean “double squish.” Not quite sure if it’s dead yet? Better go for a third or maybe even a fourth. You can never be too careful. Roaches are tricky little buggers.

Rule #2: Be resourceful.

All hail.

Over the years, I have come up with some pretty resourceful ways to kill roaches. When it comes to protecting my sister from them, we were sure to be very careful in choosing the materials with which to kill them, because chances are if a roach has touched something, Allison will never, ever, EVER touch that thing EVER again. Here are some helpful examples/anecdotes.

Once my sister was being attacked by a vicious roach, and I was the only one near her to come to her aid (it was really super early in the morning, she didn’t want to wake up my parents, and my room was the closest). I examined the situation, and told her to bring me something for smashing. Thinking on her toes, she grabbed the Everything Saints Book (a very colorfully illustrated book on the different Saints and their patronages) off a nearby bookshelf. It was an ideal choice, because it was a book that she will probably never have needed to pick up again. Thus, I vanquished thine enemy with the holy justice of the Everything Saints Book, and peace was restored to the hallway.

Utilizing your surroundings is key in making sure a roach is good and dead. I have experienced many roach attacks while in the bathroom, and the easiest way to dispose of them (in my opinion) is to squish them with a heavy shampoo bottle (an old one that you never really used that your mom probably bought at the dollar general because it was on sale), scoop them up with that Mardi Gras cup you use to rinse out the bathtub after you’ve scrubbed it, and dump that mamma-jamma in the toilet. But don’t flush just yet; remember Rule #1. I always find it to be absolutely necessary to grab the most toxic cleaning agent in the closet and spray as much of it in the toilet as necessary (I keep spraying until I start feeling light-headed from the fumes). Now it’s safe to flush.

When I was a junior in high school, I was the only child living in the house (sisters Marco and Alli were off in Auburn getting college edumacated). This meant that I was left at home for a few hours each day until my mom and dad got home from work (my mom works at a school, so she was usually home pretty early, but she also liked to go out with the teachers on particularly tough days). During these times of loneliness, I felt particularly vulnerable to roach attacks. I do not enjoy killing roaches, and I won’t do it unless I have to, so when no one else was home, I devised a way to easily trap a roach and just wait for my dad to come home and kill it. The best tool for this? That little plastic top that comes on a pile of 50+ blank CDS. Once you have it trapped, just put a few books on top to make sure the little bugger can’t escape. Then you play the waiting game. If it’s a particularly long time that the creature is trapped, it starts getting really slow and sometimes dies on its own (but who wants to wait that long – someone just come and kill the damn thing!).

The hat that will live in infamy.

Next comes an example for which I was not present. Allison was at home, and everyone was out of town that weekend for Jazz Fest.  Her friends Carmen and Ashley were on their way to pick her up, however, and she wanted to be sure to pack a hat for the fest.  She reached into a monogrammed bag for her treasured Auburn hat, but when she pulled the hat out, she found a super huge roach sitting right there on the Auburn emblem.  She screamed, dropped the hat back into the bag, grabbed the bag, ran to the side door, and threw the bag and all its contents into the driveway. She then proceeded to run over the bag several times (a great example of the “double tap” technique).  Ashley and Carmen arrived at the house, obviously curious as to why there was a bunch of crap all over the driveway.  She told them the story, and (after laughing and calling her a lunatic) Ashley said that it was a waste of perfectly good stuff just because a roach was on it.  She got the bag and the hat, and she truly thinks that one day Allison is going to forget that incident, and she is going to give the hat back to my sister.  She’s already tried, and it didn’t work.  Allison will never forget.

Rule #3: Clean up after yourself.

We all know that roaches love food, so it’s sort of a given that having dirty dishes hanging around the house is a sure-fire way to attract them. I understand that sometimes you’re in a rush or your feeling particularly lazy and don’t feel like cleaning (I feel like that all the time), but just think about it for a second. If you leave out that dirty bowl of food, you’re basically saying, “Hey roaches, I left you this little snack. Bon Appetite!” If you want to cut roaches out of your life, cut the crap around the house. It’s as easy as rinsing them out and putting them in the dishwasher (if you have one). There you go. No big deal. Threat potentially averted.

I refuse to put a picture of an actual roach in this blog, so here’s a picture of a unicorn instead.

Rule #4: Chase it down.

I know, I know. If I’m so disgusted by roaches, why would I ever want to chase them down? Well, duh! If I don’t find it and kill it now, I’ll probably wake up in the middle of the night with it crawling all over my face or find it a week later staked out in the pantry amongst all my food. Roaches are notorious for being quick little buggers that can easily shake your attacks and crawl under something dark and hide, especially if you’re reluctant to get close to them (like I am). But the fact of the matter is that thing is still terrorizing your living space and needs to be taken care of. It all goes back to Rule #1 – MAKE SURE IT’S DEAD! Because if you don’t, it’ll come back to terrorize you more.

Rule #5: Watch your step.

I find that most people tend to kill roaches by taking off their shoes and swatting them or by simply stepping on them. If you’re like me, the idea of doing this is mortifying. I don’t want nasty roach guts on my shoes? I don’t want to have to wipe them off once I’m done. I don’t want to have to remember not to touch the bottom of that particular pair of shoes because I killed a roach with them. That’s why I try to find things that I’ll never touch again to kill them with. However, sometimes you’re walking outside at night time, and it’s really dark around you, impairing your ability to see the ground. What if you step on a roach by accident? My first advice for you: turn on a friggin’ light. When exiting a house, make sure the porch light is on (and has been on for longer than five minutes to be sure those things are long gone). Look at the path ahead of you, to make sure there isn’t any sort of impending doom waiting for you further down. My sister used to make me look outside for her before she left our house at night (because she didn’t want to see any roaches if they were there) and map out the best possible escape route. Or I had to scare them away.

It’s also very important to be quick on your feet. It’s all about your reflexes; you have to train yourself to respond quickly to tiny movement that appears near you in the dark. If you see a rustling bush next to you, you’re going to react in case it is a mugger or rapist or something like that. So why not have a reaction for a tiny black thing that scurries under your feet? Remember to step lightly, and you will have less trouble getting out of the way quickly. Or doing that little hop maneuver. You know the one.

So those are the five basic rules in roach killing/avoidance. I’d love to hear about other techniques that are used for minimal confrontation and maximum killing. If you have any, drop them off in the comments section. I hope this has been a learning experience for those who wish to broaden their knowledge in roach eradication. Exterminators: you are our heroes. Keep up the good work, and remember – Constant Vigilance!


May 6, 2011

I’ve been thinking about my family a lot lately. I’ve known them all my life (because I’m the baby!), and they’ve shaped me into being the person I am today. They’re such a big part of me that I wanted to share a little of that part with you. If I had the proper outlet, I could probably write an entire book about some of the crazy memories we’ve shared, but since I only have WordPress, I’ll just give you the introduction.

This is Tommy Richards, my father. He’s quite the amusing fellow, taking corniness to a new level. I’m really very extra sure that my sense of humor came from this guy. He’s a workaholic, so he hardly ever uses his vacation days. He’s one of those people who has to do everything themselves because it would be too expensive to have someone else do it or it wouldn’t be done properly (another characteristic I must have inherited). He drinks O’Doul’s on weekdays and doesn’t eat sweets. He’s been telling my sisters and me that “Sugar is worse than cigarettes!” for at least ten years. He got an Xbox a few years ago for Christmas and likes to play shoot-em-up games like Halo and Call of Duty. His first shoot-em-up game was Goldeneye for the N64 (my have we progressed!), and he would always be more than willing to play Area 51 if there was an arcade around. One of his favorite things to do is come up with inventions that would change life as we know it. I think I speak for my sisters when I say that the “Johnny Vac” is our personal favorite. I won’t go into details, but I will tell you that it involves a toilet and a vacuum… He’s a very intelligent man, and I think I owe a lot of my personality to him.

This is my mom, Ludie Richards. She’s the greatest mom ever. She always (usually) supports me in everything I want to do. From kindergarten through senior year of high school, she sent me to school everyday with a lovely, nutritious lunch. She cooks dinner every night except on Fridays, and she doesn’t watch any other channel more than the Food Network, except for maybe The Food Channel, which we recently acquired through a digital cable package. She raised me to appreciate Irish punk music and alternative rock to the point where I already knew the words to Black 47 songs and the soundtrack to Trainspotting and Empire Records by the time I was 10. She used to have super long hair, but a few years ago she cut it to her chin. Personally, I like it better short. She always tears up during emotionally uplifting movies like Finding Forrester, Billy Elliot, and Pollyanna (some of her favorites). She also loves music festivals. When she goes to Jazzfest, she never sits down. She’s either intently enjoying one band or walking around to discover a new one. When she talks on the phone with her sister Vaughan, they usually get to a certain part of the conversation where her voice gets really quiet so people won’t hear what they’re talking about. She usually sports a pair of converse high-tops or chucks as a casual look. People tell me that I get more of my features from my mom. You can really tell when you compare pictures of the two of us when we were really young.

This is Allison, my eldest sister. She’s five years older than me and about 5 inches shorter. But don’t let her height lead you to think that it reflects her personality; when it comes to that, she’s 10 feet tall! She’s not afraid to put you in your place if you’re doing something wrong and will argue you into the ground if she has to in order to prove a point. I’ve always admired her eloquence when it comes to speaking with adults and other people in a professional or formal setting. She’s also a fantastic writer (I have her proof-read most of my papers). One of my favorite things to bring up about her is the way she used to dress in high school (snake-skin pants, glittery tops, and the like), but then she usually pulls out the card reminding me how I would dress myself to match one solid color with the same solid color (e.g. navy blue t-shirt with navy blue shorts). She’s deathly afraid of roaches and nearly has a panic attack whenever she sees one (even if it’s on tv). She and I have very similar interests so whenever we start talking to each other, the conversation usually turns into a discussion about dragons or Lord of the Rings (to get an idea, read this blog post). She has a cute little puppy name Toby who has an underbite (he is her son).

This is my sister Margaret. She is a social butterfly. She could show up anywhere alone and have made ten new friends by the end of the night. I suppose she would be considered the “cool one” out of the Richards Girls. She loves going to music festivals and concerts and is the go-to girl if you wanna go somewhere to have fun. Her hair is super straight! I have tried curling it multiple times, but it always falls flat within five minutes unless I plaster her head with hairspray. She can also open her eyes as wide as a lemur (as seen here). She’s the sister who looks more like my dad, but people often think she and Allison are twins (personally, I don’t see it). She likes watching romantic comedies (which I don’t really get), but also digs the same stuff Allison and I like (i.e. Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and anything dragon/ninja related). She’s definitely the most athletic Richards and probably the healthiest. My fondest memory of her is when we were trying to beat the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (it’s a family event), and she couldn’t for the life of her beat the Shadow Temple boss Bongo Bongo. She went on a Zelda hiatus for like a month because it stressed her out so much. One day she finally picked the controller back up (after much persuasion by Allison and me) and beat that sucker in like a minute only losing half a heart or something crazy like that.

My family is one of the most important things in my life. I know it’s a little cheesy and everything, but it’s true and I don’t think I say that enough. I always get really excited when they come to visit me because they’re so much fun. And I’m not really one to get homesick, but every time I go home I realize how much I missed it. After the stress of school or some completely insignificant drama between friends, sometimes the best thing in the world is the feeling of going home.


April 21, 2011

To start, I would just like to point out that my cousin Trudy inspired me to write this particular blog post. She recently started a new fashion blog (That Anonymous Girl), and I am a huge fan of it. I was looking at a bunch of the photos she posted, and I thought, “I wish I could wear that stuff.”

If you know me or have seen me around campus, you probably know that I’m not the most fashionable person in the world. My standard outfit consists of what my friends like to call my “Anna Suit”. It consists of leggings with gym shorts on the bottom and a t-shirt on top. I wear this pretty much every day. It’s comfortable and easy to pick out. I know, I know. I’m a walking fashion icon, but I’ve really been trying to refine my wardrobe for the past year.

This particular refinement has been a little difficult for me. As a poor college kid, my preferred way of spending my money is on delicious food (because honestly, how can you not when you live in New Orleans). Recently, however, I’ve been buying things from various stores online. Because I’ve done this, I get a mailbox full of emails from stores every morning with new sales and new seasoned fashion lines or whatever. This is nice… but I usually end up deleting them all because I’ve already spent my measly work-study paycheck on another item (or food). My standard morning involves me waking up and deleting emails from Ann Taylor Loft, The Gap, Urban Outfitters, The Limited, J. Crew, and Ralph Lauren. Frankly, I’m not really sure why I get emails from Ralph Lauren because I’ve never bought anything from them before, nor do I have a profound desire to do so. I also don’t pay much attention to the Urban Outfitters email. This isn’t because I don’t like Urban Outfitters; it’s just one of those places where I’d rather go to the actual store (which we have in New Orleans) because I’d rather try things on (a lot of the stuff looks funny on me/skirts are too short). J. Crew is one that I usually just look at and dream about. Way too expensive. Plus I don’t think I’m WASPy enough to wear some of the stuff they sell.

Really the only ones I truly consider are LOFT and The Gap (because sometimes The Limited makes things too shiny). I like the classic young professional look. That’s what I’ve been trying to add to my wardrobe lately. My previous wardrobe had a very young look to it, and I figured that since I’ll be going out into the “real world” some time soon, I should probably not look like I’m still in high school (not saying that I was particularly fashionable as a high schooler either). I also like LOFT and the Gap because it’s affordable when things are on sale (because I’m the cheapest person ever – a $45 item is about $20 more than I’m willing to spend). These looks are relatively easy, and I don’t have to work too hard on them. And don’t even get me started on ideeli, which might be the greatest thing that has ever happened to online shopping (and Gilt Group, which is a bit more expensive).

The harder looks are the ones that I see in the emails I get from Who What Wear (one of the more cleverly named fashion blogs on the web). This blog shows the everyday looks of fashion icons that frankly I don’t think I could pull off that well. These are the trendy looks that I wish I could sport. My cousin is very trendy and writes about these types of looks a lot. It’s one of those things where I look, but I don’t really actively pursue. I don’t have the proper mind-set to want to look trendy every day. I can’t look at my lacking wardrobe, throw items together, and work the streets like I’m on the runway. I think part of this comes from my need to be comfortable all the time when I go to class. That’s very important for me, especially since I usually like sitting indian style in my desk. I also prefer sitting on the ground to sitting in chairs (unless it’s a super awesome comfy chair), so most of those trendy looks would get dirty.

There are a few celebrities whose style I really wish I could effectively imitate. The first is Zooey Deschanel (whose Twitter handle is @therealzooeyd – follow her, she’s fabulous). Her classic-looking style is something I absolutely LOVE! Once I have real money and sophistication, I am totally going to try to attain this look. Polyvore gives some awesome examples of her look. These are a few of my favorites (click to get the full breakdown from Polyvore):

The list goes on…

My next celebrity style icon is Emma Watson. I don’t like some of her styles (mostly because I couldn’t really pull them off well), but I’ve seen many that I wish I could imitate. The ones I like are sorta reminiscent of Zooey’s style.

And of course I can’t forget the iconic Audrey Hepburn. Call me old-fashioned, but I love her elegant and sophisticated look. I can’t really say much about it because I don’t really know much about it, but I can give you examples of things I like!

So I’m not really sure what to do with myself even though I know what types of clothes I like. I guess I just need to start looking for them? If anyone wants to point me in a certain direction, please feel free to do so. I need all the help I can get! And don’t forget to visit Trudy’s blog That Anonymous Girl. Just click the link!

Enjoy the little things…

February 14, 2011

Last week while I was watching the movie Zombieland (starring Academy Award nominee Jesse Eisenberg and outstanding actor Woody Harrelson), something struck me. I think some of the best advice I’ve received in life has come from that movie. The various rules that Columbus (Jesse’s character) maps out for the audience are pretty important for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, but they also can come in handy in real life (before the Zombie Apocalypse occurs). For example: Rule #1 – Cardio. People should stay active, whether it’s for running from zombies or just staying healthy and fit. Rule #8 – Get a kickass partner. Everyone needs a right-hand man for back up as well as companionship. Life can get pretty lonely sometimes, and it helps to have someone who kicks ass just as hard as you do by your side. (Look at the end for the complete list of rules.)

With this in mind, I began thinking about Rule #32 – Enjoy the little things. The movie puts a pretty heavy influence on this particular rule, and I think we should too. Whether you live in a world infested with the undead or maybe just need a little ray of sunshine to illuminate a particularly dark day, it’s the little things that can lift your spirits and get you through the trouble. They’re probably the easiest form of happiness you can attain, and most of the time they’re free. Looking back, I’ve always enjoyed the little things in my life the most but never really realized how much happiness they bring me. So I decided to make a list of some little things that get me through the day (in no particular order):

  1. Freshly Sharpened Pencils – Because who doesn’t love that faint smell of wood and graphite as you twist it along that sharp blade. My pencil sharpener is a particularly good one too, so it gets my pencils extra pointy. I write most of my notes in pencil, and I can’t stand the way my writing looks if it’s too thick because the tip of the graphite is too stubby. Sharpened pencils bring actual joy to all the homework I have to do, and lately I’ve had entirely too much. There’s comfort in a good pencil.
  2. Singing in the Car – I can be sad, angry, happy, or annoyed and instantly feel better when I get in my car and drive with a good song on the radio. I don’t really do that much driving now a days, but whenever I drive home to Mobile (and back), I always have to listen to something that I can sing along to. It keeps me entertained without taking away my focus from the road. It’s a very peaceful experience, especially when you’re driving alone. If other people are in the car, I try not to sing as much or as loud as I would if I were alone because, I’ll admit it, I don’t have the prettiest voice on the planet, and I don’t really want people to have to suffer. My current driving playlist that I pop on when I get in the car is a combination of Dr. Dog and Modest Mouse. I listen to it on shuffle so I get a pretty even mix of the two bands. I chose these two bands because I know that no matter what song comes on next, I won’t be disappointed with it. My driving playlists have to be as such because it’s dangerous to fiddle with your iPod when you’re driving. Safety first!
  3. Blankets – Okay, so I know blankets can sometimes be vital to life (like if you live in the tundra), but here in New Orleans, it’s usually warm enough to go without. I absolutely love when my room is cold because I can grab a blanket and snuggle up. Blankets are very comforting: they’re like big warm hugs that last for as long as you want them to. And blankets are a luxury for us as well. Some people are freezing, and they need blankets in order to stay alive. Plus they can serve multiple functions. Is it a warm, beautiful day outside? Well get out of that cold room, spread your blanket on the ground, and bask in the warmth of the sun. I feel all warm inside just thinking about it!
  4. Reading FoxTrot on Sunday Mornings – Okay, so I haven’t really read FoxTrot in the Sunday morning newspaper for some time now, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t stopped enjoying it. I just don’t get the newspaper anymore. FoxTrot was always one of my favorite comics (it’s the perfect balance of nerdy-cool), but it only was published in the Mobile Register every Sunday (which made me sad). I’ll admit it: even at the age of 20, I don’t really care for reading newspapers, but the Sunday Morning Comics never get old (except maybe Garfield and some of the lamer ones). Even though I don’t get to read FoxTrot in the newspaper anymore, I’ve recently started following Bill Amend (the mastermind behind it) on twitter (@billamend). Definitely an entertaining guy. Look for him.
  5. Listening to Music While Walking to Class – I suppose this is sort of related to singing in the car and the comfort of hearing music. My last blog post was about walking music, so you can read that for more insight into this concept (except the walking songs aren’t really up to date with what I’m walking to these days). I just love having music in my head when I’m walking to class (or anywhere really). It’s sort of like having a soundtrack to your life. My mood can change entirely (usually for the better) just from the type of song I listen to while I’m walking. It’s very therapeutic, especially if you’re walking to a big exam or a particularly boring class.
  6. Porch Swings – There’s one porch swing that I like in particular. It’s the porch swing on the left side of Cudd Hall (if you’re looking toward the building) on Tulane’s campus. On lovely spring days, it’s an ideal spot to wait for your next class or do a little last-minute studying. Last semester (Fall 2010), I had a big block of time between my morning lab and my mid-day history class. Instead of going back to my room for an hour (or sometimes less), I would go sit on my favorite porch swing and read. It was such a delightful experience. To break it down even more, I can safely say that I like both porches and swings, so the two together are ideal.
  7. Bubble Wrap – Such sweet, sweet satisfaction.
  8. Book Smell – Whether it’s an old, moldy one or a brand spankin’ new one, I absolutely love the smell of books. I’ve always been a pretty avid reader, so I guess I created an association between awesome books and the general smell. My sister got a kindle last year, and I just couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to hold a strange metally thing in their hand rather than paper and binding. Of course I understand the convenience of kindles and nooks and such, but I would just much rather have a book in my hand.
  9. Juice Boxes – From Elementary School to High School, I always got a juice box in the lunches my mommy made me (and she made me lunch every day). That little cardboard container of 100% juice was a staple in deciding the success of my day, mostly because I would feel incomplete without it. Now that I’m a big kid in college, I still love juice boxes. My mom sends them to me all the time. My friends have also come to love the utter convenience of delicious juice in a disposable container. And they’re good for you too (if they’re 100%)!
  10. Old SpiceAnother smell that I really like (and there are a lot of them) is the smell of Old Spice. It doesn’t matter the specific type of Old Spice; it all smells awesome to me. If I’m ever standing/sitting next to a guy and he’s wearing Old Spice, I can’t help by want to tell him that he smells really good (which I often do depending on how comfortable I am with the male in question). I guess that’s sort of the point of wearing a good smelling deodorant though, so good work, Old Spice.

So those are a few of my favorite things. They may seem insignificant, but they really make my life so much better. Maybe you should start noticing the little things that brighten your day (or even a particular moment). It’s always important to follow Rule #32. And don’t forget to keep all the other rules in mind:

  1. Cardio
  2. The Double Tap
  3. Beware of Bathrooms
  4. Wear Seat Belts
  5. No Attachments
  6. The “Skillet”
  7. Travel Light
  8. Get a Kick Ass Partner
  9. With your Bare Hands
  10. Don’t Swing Low
  11. Use Your Foot
  12. Bounty Paper Towels
  13. Shake It Off
  14. Always Carry A Change of Underwear
  15. Bowling Ball
  16. Opportunity Knocks
  17. Don’t Be A Hero
  18. Limber Up
  19. Break It Up
  20. It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint, Unless It’s a Sprint, then Sprint
  21. Avoid Strip Clubs
  22. When in Doubt, Know Your Way Out
  23. Ziplock
  24. Use Your Thumbs
  25. Shoot First
  26. A Little Sun Screen Never Hurt Anybody
  27. Incoming!
  28. Double-Knot Your Shoes
  29. The Buddy System
  30. Pack Your Stain Stick
  31. Check the Back Seat
  32. Enjoy the Little Things
  33. Swiss Army Knife