This is my gym.

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Yeah, it’s awesome.
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Winter’s Bone

I’ve gotten on a movie kick recently, which started off with a visit to a local theater that shows independent movies, Landmark Bethesda Row. The very first movie I saw there was Winter’s Bone, and let me tell you, it is amazing. I had read a lot of hype about it beforehand – Jennifer Lawrence, the main actress (from Tennessee!) gives a “watchful, precise, and quietly heroic performance,” and the film is “close to flawless,” the “American film of the year.“, etc, etc, etc. Even so, I tried to keep  my expectations down. I’d heard a lot of hype about Let the Right One In, too, and turns out I thought that was just a weird Swedish vampire movie with all the excitement sucked out of it (lol, pun).

But Winter’s Bone did not let me down. I found it pitch-perfect. Everything about it was amazing. The acting was fantastic, the story was real and made sense, and it had a ring of authenticity to it that really resonated with me. I caught myself thinking “I’ve been in that house,” or “I’ve met those people.” Let me be clear, I have not actually been in a meth dealer’s house, but the look and feel and sound of the people and environment of the poor South rang true to me.

The movie also made me evaluate my privilege. It happens sometimes that I bump into people who’s worlds are so much smaller than mine, and it’s always disconcerting. Ree, the main character in the movie for example – going to college is probably not even something she imagines as an option. The best she hopes for is to provide for her family in such a way that they don’t go hungry and don’t become homeless. Her dreams are not particularly relevant, and “career goals” is not a phrase she’s likely spent much time on. And having a healthy family life, making a legal living, would be miles above what most of the people she knows have, and so is a goal to strive for, rather than something to take for granted. And by some quirk of fate I’ve landed in a place where my options have always seemed limitless. Going to college was not a question – of course I would go. I want to get a Master’s degree, so I put off getting a job in my career field to pursue more education. If I want to be a lawyer, I can go to law school. If I want to be a doctor, I can go to med school. Same for psychiatrist, pharmacist, politician, engineer, accountant, physicist – all of these careers were (and are) mine to choose from. I’m aware that I have disadvantages that work against me, but compared to Ree, they’re laughably small. And that’s a valuable piece of perspective.

But I don’t think it’s enough to watch Winter’s Bone and think “Wow, I’m so lucky I was born in Nashville and not in the Ozarks!” and then forget about it. Working to make it so that the Ree’s of the world can have a big, boundless world like ours is the only acceptable course of action once you’ve realized that her world is limited through no fault of her own, and yours is limitless for reasons you can’t take full credit for.

You can watch it to provoke thoughts on class and gender, or you can watch it cause it’s a great suspense thriller, it doesn’t matter. The point is – watch it!

Here’s a link to the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE_X2pDRXyY

And a link to the official site, where you can find out where it’s playing near you: http://www.wintersbonemovie.com/

And another thing

Also, I really like this hoodie. It’s awesome! The zipper is the guillotine!

Pretty clever, huh?

Stuff I like from the internet.

I have found a lot of things I want to buy recently. Unfortunately, I am not yet super-rich, and so I am reduced to the internet equivalent of window shopping. Let me share some of the stuff with you!

These adorable toys are part of Poketo’s FriendsWithYou series. They have bells inside them and wobble. I want the long one that looks like a worm!

Also from Poketo are these adorable candles. They come in a matchbook, and they last for five minutes. A set of four matchbooks is only $6 – pretty good, right?

And again from Poketo – these awesome capsule notes. They come with a strip of paper that you write on, then roll up and insert into the capsule. Then you put the capsule into the syringe and deliver it. Cute!

And from White Rabbit Press, these toy animals that transform into their Japanese characters. I love them!

And the last one, also from White Rabbit Press, a take-off of the Great Wave off Kanagawa woodcut by Hokusai, but this time with bunnies!

These things cheer me up, and I hope they cheer you up too.

Soccer in the Circle

I haven’t been posting recently – sorry about that! I’ve been busy with work at my temporary job (which I just learned on Friday will not turn full-time, as the Dean denied the request for funding), and not been feeling so great. But I’m back on my feet, and ready to resume posting more regularly!

This last Saturday I went to watch the US v. England match of the World Cup in Dupont Circle. The event was organized by the same people that organized a snowball fight during the Snowpocalypse, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll come up with next!

Lots of people watching the game!

They had to raise $20,000 for permits and expenses, and with donations from some businesses and individuals they were able to put two giant screens on the circle.

A view of one of the two screens.

A couple thousand people (in my estimation) watched the US/England match with me and my friends. It was really cool to see so many Americans caring about soccer, if only for 90 minutes!

American flag waving above the crowd. The USA!USA! chanting was fun!

I met up with some friends and friends-of-friends at the circle, and we had a good time watching the game. The only downside was, it was HOT! And I hate being hot.

Pals on the circle, trying not to melt in the heat.

So it was a good time, but unless the US is in the final (and probably even then!), I’ll pass on another outdoor viewing experience.

Franciscan Monastery Sale

On Saturday the Franciscan Monastery near Centro Maria had their annual plant and herb sale. I went to check it out with Margie, Sarah, and Anna.

They had tons of plants for sale!

Margie, Sarah, and Anna sniffing a flower.

The monastery was really beautiful. They had a prayer written in a bunch of different languages, including Japanese!

I can read the parts of it that aren't kanji!

The monks also had some of their famous honey for sale. They have beehives at the monastery, and the honey they make is very popular. I was really excited to buy some!I made sure that we got there right when it was suppose to open, and an hour after we got there the honey was all sold out. Luckily I was able to buy it before they ran out!

On the way to the car we saw a woman with five Yorkshire terriers. They were so cute on their leashes! We of course had to stop for some pets.

I want to go back to the monastery again and take a tour. Apparently they have a catacombs with actual bodies!

Go to my Flickr page to see more pictures of the monastery!

What’s been up while the blog’s been boring!

My computer’s screen died, so I had to send it off to Apple and I’ve finally got it back! While I was laptop-less I did some pretty cool stuff. First, I went to some of the National Cherry Blossom Festival events. The National Cherry Blossom Festival runs for two weeks in DC, and during that time the Tidal Basin Cherry Blossoms are at their peak bloom. There are a bunch of fun events to go to – concerts, exhibits, a parade. The first event I went to was the fireworks display on the Southeast Waterfront. There were a bunch of people there dancing to music and enjoying the good weather. I took a bunch of pictures of the fireworks, and I think they turned out pretty good!

Next I went to visit the Tidal Basin to see the famous cherry blossoms in person. It was a warm, sunny day, and about a billion people had the same idea as me. The blossoms were pretty, but I missed the peak bloom by about three days.

The final event I participated in was the Cherry Blossom Ten-Miler. I didn’t run it, but I volunteered at the merch table during the expo. Volunteers get a guaranteed entry for the next year’s race, which is great because the race is so popular that they need to use a lottery selection process. The expo was pretty exciting. I thought my volunteer slot started at six, so I got up very very early and drove downtown. Once I got there I found out my slot didn’t start until nine. So I had three hours to kill, and I ended up walking in to help out about forty-five minutes early. Helping out was fun. I got a sweet volunteer t-shirt out of the deal, so it was a total win!

The Ten-Miler Expo

Check out my Flickr page to see a ton more photos of cherry blossoms, fireworks, monuments, Great Falls MD, and a lot of flowers from around DC.