Trends are fickle by nature, but one Spring 2019 trend I can truly get behind is the focus on lavender! The color evokes visual freshness, energy, and levity. As a scent, it calms, soothes, and comforts, forsaking the heavy musk often in winter fragrances. I am very eager to shed the dark color palette that is synonymous with winter in Chicago (blacks, grays, maroons, browns, dark greens, etc.). I’m ready for something new, light, and floral. Please enjoy some of my picks below!


Anthropologie Mallory Lace Blouse in Lavender | $98

Free People Ruched Halter Bra in Lilac | $70

Rag & Bone Cairo Single-Breasted Blazer in Lilac | $550

Jonathan Adler Honeycomb Beach Towel in Lavender | $98

C.O. Bigelow Lavender Salve | $8

Bardot Sheath Dress in Orchid | $129

Madewell 9″ High-Rise Skinny Jeans: Garment-Dyed Edition in Serene Lavender | $118

Adidas Originals 3-Stripes Pull-On Short in Lavender | $30

Rodin Olio Lusso Lavender Face Oil | $96

Loft Slim Tie Waist Pencil Pants in Marisa Fit in Crystal Violet | $79.50

AQUA Hooded Raincoat in Lavender | $98

GAP Lace Bralette in Nostalgic Lavender | $24.50

Sbicca Helena Sandal in Lavender Suede | $59.95

Shade & Shore Women’s Shore Light Lift Tie Shoulder Bikini Top & Bottom in Lavender Palm | $45.98 (total)

Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner in Violet Femme | $25

Free People Send Me A Postcard Dress in Lilac | $550

Alo High Waist Airbrush Midi Leggings in Ultraviolet| $78

Madewell Resin Hoop Earrings in Sundrenched Lilac | $22

Old Navy Patterned Peplum-Hem Shirt in Lavender Gingham | $25


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Yesterday I started Devil In The White City by Erik Larson, and so far, I’m enthralled by it. The book is about end of the 19th century Chicago, the 1893 World’s Fair, and serial killer H.H. Holmes. History and crime! What’s not to like? Plus, I like Larson’s writing. He is descriptive, factual and maintains a sense of drama that isn’t overdone or schlocky. Even 30 odd pages in, I know I’m going to continue to love it and devour it up by the end of this weekend.

This came on the heels of completing John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. A very solid book, though I rather felt it lost steam towards the end. I suppose when your central character dies unexpectedly and suddenly of a heart attack, this can’t be avoided. From my research, it appears Mr. Berendt took some extensive liberties with his characterizations of certain figures in the book as well as the general timeline of events. He glosses over them in a brief author’s note at the end of the book, but it seems to have gotten him into some contentious hot water. In an interview discussing this with a journalist from The Weekly Standard, he comes across as unnecessarily defensive and ornery. Still, it was a very entertaining and breezy read that I would recommend to those that enjoy quirky characters and highly sensational crime drama (aka ME). Also, I did decide to forgo watching the 1997 film version due to bad reviews and poor casting choices. Side note: I will be seeing Us on Sunday. Very excited for that!

In addition to Devil In The White City, I also ordered Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood from Amazon Prime. Marge suggested I consider getting a library card. Not a bad idea, however, I take pride in building my own physical library so that I may revisit old favorites whenever I want, as I have done this year with Madame Bovary and Wuthering Heights. I did recently start Lolita after having read it a few times before, and honestly, I lost interest. The author, Nabokov, is so smart that the process of reading the annotations to understand his references becomes a bit exasperating. I know you don’t have to do that, but I like to try to understand and learn what the references are and in his work, every page has multiple. Reading Lolita, then, became a rather tiresome exercise this time around.

If you have any other recommendations or thoughts on the books I’ve mentioned, don’t be shy! Let me know in the comments!


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It’s been a while! You may or may not have noticed, but I recently enjoyed a much needed vacation out of town. Over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, I traveled with friends to Savannah, Georgia and experienced one of the country’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parades. Upon our exit from the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, I was immediately hit with fresh, warm spring air. That afternoon was spent milling about the glorious Forsyth Park with a John Daly cocktail (you can have open alcoholic beverages outside!) and meeting friendly people around the stately fountain. I also found some time to ham it up amongst the beautiful oak trees.

Later that evening, we had a lovely dinner at The Wyld Dock Bar, overlooking Savannah’s oyster shell-lined channels. I enjoyed a delicate filet of sea bass over broccolini and grits. My only gripe was the incessant intrusion of tiny gnats that the citronella candles did little to deter.

At 11pm, Kylie joined our group straight from the airport just as we embarked on a ghost tour. Our tour guide, I believe his name was Skippy Spirals, weaved us through the beautiful, eerie squares in the Historic District, peppering in some dubious, but intriguing anecdotes about the dark history of Savannah. In between these anecdotes, Skippy told me he is an active ghost hunter, amateur puppeteer, and artist, having previously served as tour guide for many years in New Orleans. Ultimately, he prefers the quieter spookiness of Savannah.

Though we got home around 1am, I chose to sleep on the couch so that I could research the verity of the ghost stories and my cell phone light wouldn’t disturb my friends. I was particularly interested in verifying the ghost story of the Sorrel-Weed House. It goes a little something like this:

Francis Sorrel, the builder of this home, apparently had a relationship with a slave named Molly that lived in the adjacent carriage house. His second wife, Matilda, discovered the relationship in flagrante delicto and jumped off the carriage house balcony to her death or possibly, she was pushed. A week or so after this event, Molly was found hanging from the rafters in the carriage house. Since then, both Molly and Matilda are rumored to haunt the house.

We were shown grainy pictures of “faces” behind the dark window panes and an audio recording of a woman, purportedly Matilda, screaming, as proof. The story is intriguing and dark, but I had my doubts that this was little more than peddling nonsense to eager tourists. Apparently, there is no evidence of Molly’s existence in the Census. There is also evidence that Matilda was known publicly to suffer from depression and so the idea that she was pushed to her death makes little sense. For more information on this, please see my sources below and do your own research and decide for yourself. I will say, the Sorrel-Weed House is very ominous looking in the dark!

On Friday, we had an excellent brunch downtown at The Collins Quarter. I enjoyed a lovely Bellini and beef short rib hash with a poached egg. Afterwards, we went shopping around Broughton Street and I bought a bunch of goodies at Savannah Bee Company, including the rare tupelo honey, some whipped honey, and a set of beeswax lip balms with fun southern flavors like Sweet Tea, Mint Julep, and Key Lime. Our feet were starting to ache from the long days of standing and walking, so we returned back to Maggie’s apartment and cat napped, before getting ready for dinner at Husk with our complete group. We had a delicious charcuterie board, fresh oysters, and I opted for shrimp and grits as my entrée. I can’t get enough of lowcountry food! Before we left, I ended up having a “dance off” with a member of another group, a bachelorette party, and the whole restaurant apparently enjoyed it. Lord knows I got my steps in and once again definitively proved that I cannot dance.

The next day was the day of the famous parade! It was an extremely diverse crowd celebrating Irish heritage. We saw many characters including Savannah’s political who’s-who, multiple marching military factions, high school bands, young Irish dancers, and even an elderly Confederate squadron that shot off their guns periodically. They scared the bejesus out of me and many others. In general, the crowds were extremely friendly and mixed well regardless of their apparent socioeconomic position, skin color, sexual orientation, locality, etc. The only scuffle I witnessed was a LGBTQ woman hurling a Trump 2020 flag into the middle of a square and the white man running over to security, urging them to go arrest her. I was also surprised that I didn’t see more people severely intoxicated. I’m accustomed to many people struggling in the gutters of Chicago on the day of the St. Patrick’s river dying, bobbing their heads in semi-consciousness or vomiting on their shoes. Or jocular type circling one another with boozy bravado. Not so in Savannah. Everyone just seemed buzzed and cheerful!

On Sunday, we were truly exhausted and had to endure two flight delays on our way back to Chicago. I spent the next 12-15 hours sleeping and recovering my sore legs and feet. I then eagerly awaited the arrival of my book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, about the famous murder at Mercer House. More than that, it’s a sort of love note to the eccentrics of Savannah. Actually, on Friday, we had gone through a 35 minute tour of Mercer House (sadly no photos were allowed). The focus was very polite, much more so about the antiques and architecture of Jim Williams, who restored it. The murder (Jim William’s employee and sometimes lover Danny Hansford’s murder) was essentially glossed over, but that was fine with me because it allowed me to do plenty of my own research. I have practically devoured the book in a few days, with only a few chapters left. I’m reticent to watch the film, not only because it stars disgraced Kevin Spacey, but because I’ve heard it’s pretty mediocre and I am not a John Cusack fan. Perhaps I’ll give it a shot. Perhaps not.


When I was a junior or senior in high school, meeting with the college counselor, I remember distinctly telling him, whatever you suggest, I absolutely will not consider a southern schools. He suggested Louisiana State University. You can imagine, I was none too pleased. And yet, this is the second southern city I’ve visited as an adult and I am finding myself more and more intrigued and enchanted by the south. As a lover of history, dichotomy, parties, lowcountry food, and eccentrics, Savannah seems to be the epicenter of this. It’s relative remoteness makes it a very nostalgic city, for better or worse. It’s like an alternate reality there. I’m eager to return again and learn more about the architecture, the Civil War, notable characters, and ghost stories. It doesn’t seem to really matter if they’re true or not. Savannah has its own special kind of special energy, especially at night.


SOURCES:

The Sorrel-Weed House: Haunted By Bad History? (2017, February 14). Retrieved from https://www.ghostsavannah.com/2013/09/the-sorrel-weed-house-haunted/

Uncovering the Buried History of Savannah’s “Ghost Tours”. (2018, October 29). Retrieved from https://www.ttbook.org/interview/uncovering-buried-history-savannahs-ghost-tours


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WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

Yesterday I had the privilege of going to see a popular musical, newer to Chicago, Dear Evan Hansen, at the James M. Nederlander Theatre (formerly The Oriental). I always feel lucky whenever I get the chance to experience theatre of any kind. Based on the book by Steven Levenson, with music and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the story explores the struggles of the eponymous character, Evan Hansen. After the suicide of fellow high school student, Connor Murphy, Evan gets himself into a deep web of lies after a note he addressed to himself for therapeutic purposes is found on Connor’s person at the time of his death.

Evan ingratiates himself with Connor’s affluent family as a result, getting closer to his longtime crush and Connor’s sister, Zoe Murphy, and gaining the attention of Connor’s parents, who begin to serve as adoptive parents, without his mother’s knowledge. Strange as this seems, it makes more sense when we learn that Evan struggles with crippling social anxiety, perhaps in part due to his father’s abandonment of him and his mother at a young age. We also learn that his mother, while incredibly loving and concerned about Evan, is barely around, working full-time and going to night school for a paralegal certification in the hopes of providing for Evan. In addition to gaining a surrogate nuclear family that cater to his emotional needs, Evan also receives the first ever acknowledgment of his existence from his peers, solely due to the claim of being Connor’s one and only friend and champion before his suicide.


The musical peruses subjects that are very pertinent and contemporary, from teenage suicide, depression, dysfunctional families to social media and bullying. Stephen Christopher Anthony, at the helm of the cast portraying Evan, was very vocally impressive, covering a very wide musical and emotional range with apparent ease, strength and control. I was also impressed by the talent of the rest of the cast, notably young Maggie McKenna as Zoe Murphy and Jessica Phillips as Heidi Hansen (Evan’s mother). The latter’s acting ability was very natural and it was her tender song to comfort Evan after his confession, “So Big/So Small”, that brought the audience to tears with its emotional conveyance of the love between mother and child.

Another aspect I really enjoyed was the set design by David Korins and production design by Peter Nigrini. It was unique to anything I’ve ever seen, with moving screens portraying snippets of social media, online conversations, and excerpts from Evan and “Connor’s” emails. It oscillated from a stark display of words in black and white to a claustrophobic aggregation of text exchanges, Twitter profiles, and Instagram videos. This accurately evoked the cyclical experience of today’s “teenage-dom”; intense, despairing loneliness as a result of the overwhelming and dangerous unreality of social media.

What I struggled with primarily, was the story resolution. Evan is the protagonist, no doubt, and it’s very obvious to me that nothing he does is with a malicious intent. That said, his continuous lying and manipulation of the Murphy family for his own emotional gain, didn’t sit well with me. Yes, he finally admits the Connor emails were manufactured, as was his entire friendship with Connor. Even with his confession, we don’t hear much from the Murphy family other than from Zoe a year later that Evan’s meddling actually brought her parent’s closer together. Also completely ignored is the fallout between Evan and his accomplice in the charade, Jared Kleinman, who threatens to expose him. Same goes with Evan’s Co-President of The Connor Murphy Project, Alana Beck, who astutely notices the discrepancies in the emails supposedly written between Connor to Evan.

To me, it felt inappropriate to completely obliviate any real consequences for Evan. He’s not a bad person and I wasn’t rooting against him, but I don’t agree with the message that manipulating people on such a large scale, even without malicious intent, should go essentially unpunished. The pristine resolution lessened the credibility of the story, which until the end, maintained a very authentic complexity, especially in its exploration of broken families and youth today.

For these reasons, Dear Evan Hansen did not resonate with me on a deep level. I’m glad I saw it and enjoyed it for the novelty of its subject matter and set design, but I didn’t evoke the emotions that perhaps I expected it to. The music, while adeptly performed by both cast and orchestra, blends together with the exception of a few standouts, like “You Will Be Found” and “So Big/So Small”. I certainly don’t have the enthusiasm or interest in further research as I did with the last musical I saw, Hamilton, but that’s okay; not every show can be your favorite!


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Good morning all. What a week it has been. I took a mental health day earlier in the week due to my stress levels hitting fever pitch. All of the stress I was feeling was essentially self-imposed, but it was not any less real or painful to me. It’s a pattern I’m familiar with. When I was a kid athlete, I expected myself to succeed, win, and perform well. Always. If I did, I was on top of the world, but if not, I was despondent, angry, angst-ridden or some amalgamation of all those feelings.

I don’t know where it came from, this instinctive need to accomplish and achieve at all times. Certainly, my parents never outwardly expected anything beyond a healthy level of goal setting; rather, they just wanted me to be a healthy, happy, and kind individual. It always came from an internal drive that manifested itself in different ways depending on where I was at in my life. For many years, it was the violent mood swings from playing sports, whether I was on the starting line up or being benched for sassing the referees. It was a decade of endless eating disorder cycles. And now, it’s my need to conquer life and have it all figured out before I turn 30 this year.

And the theme continues. NO ONE expects this from me except for me. And in my “all work and no play mentality”, I found myself run into the ground, unable to utter a kind word to myself, making mistakes from my inability to focus, my shoulders wrenched, my heart beating frantically, and finally, unable to stop the flow of tears.

And then, it all broke and my body was forced to let it go. I finally felt the relief I’ve so desperately needed.

When I went back to the office after taking a day to decompress, I felt nothing but compassion and was grateful to get positive feedback from being vulnerable. It was the first time in awhile that I felt truly great about myself, because in sharing that with others, they felt comfortable sharing their own similar stories or struggles with me. This validation and connection far surpassed the joy of feeling “in control” all the time.

And so, my new goal will be focusing on self-compassion and reminding myself that I don’t need to be “on” or succeeding in the traditional sense all the time. I can accomplish my goals, but there’s no reason it needs to be all right now or on my terms.

I hope anyone that struggles with stress management and lack of self compassion finds some comfort in reading this. You’re not alone!


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On Sunday afternoon, I attended a very fun kind of brunch where your stomach hurts from laughter, large quantities of rich food and mimosas. We celebrated my dear friend Sarah at a newer restaurant on North Avenue, quite close to Wells Street. Two Lights Seafood & Oyster has been around only seven months and apparently, this Sunday was day two of their brunch service. The salmon avocado toast was to die for, with salty cured salmon, soft boiled eggs, red onion, cucumber, cheese, and a sprinkling of watercress.We also split a jumbo biscuit – yum! Their ambiance was effervescent, giving off an almost summery New England feel with its white and gray tiling, sea-foam green chairs, accents of Millennial pink and gold on the wall, and an obligatory neon sign saying, “Reset”. Quite the contrast from the frigid reality outside. We also had a darling server that was dressed like Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future. I’m not sure why that delighted me as much as it did. Maybe because MJF is so closely associated with happy shenanigans, which is synonymous with brunching.


After brunch, I nipped over to the gym after being away for too long. I did a cardio workout then returned home to do laundry and start a new book. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is a novel I’ve read before, but not in a very long time. When I read it now, I can’t help but imagine the 1992 movie adaptation, starring the beautiful Juliette Binoche as Cathy and the stoically handsome Ralph Fiennes as the morose, dark Heathcliff.

Heathcliff, for most literary types, represents the ultimate “bad boy”, a Byronian trope that still very much exists today. Some women gravitate towards this kind of character in real life, in spite of their keen awareness that it’s not good for them. I confess, that there is something attractive to me about those types, whether it’s a Heathcliff or a Stanley Kowalski. The brutish machismo that we ought to eschew as rational women, we find thrilling. Having these characters portrayed in classic film by a young, moody Ralph Fiennes or a muscular, sardonic Marlo Brando certainly perpetuates the trope. I guess everyone has a palate for drama or a “bad boy”, don’t they? At least it’s safest in book form!


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Hello, it’s been a week or so since my last post. Haven’t been particularly inspired by anything; sometimes you just need to live to be inspired.

Friday night became quite the extravaganza I didn’t expect and normally wouldn’t like as I was more or less a sleeping-and-eating machine the next day and my plans to be productive were chucked out the window. But it was fun in the way that only spontaneous nights out are where your company, in this case two of my colleagues, are too sib to say goodnight to. Sometimes I know I need to have the kind of fun that’s expected of someone in their twenties, even if I’m just hanging on to mine by a few short months. I am not suggesting that all fun stops in your thirties. It just evolves. I am looking forward to my thirties very much. I think it will be a very transformational time for me, but I’m not yet sure how.

Anyway, I can’t lie and say I’m not relieved that February has come and gone. It has been a very demanding and difficult month for many reasons, but fortunately peppered in with a number of fun memories, like girl’s night out with Britt and Kylie, Andrea’s birthday party, and Valentine’s dinner with Arie and Zoe. February is a short month, but sometimes it feels endless with the backdrop of the most gloomy weather and that palpable tension that waiting for springtime brings. Even if March is choc full of cold and gray weather, at least it heralds in the promise of April.

I don’t feel my healthiest right now; I’ve still got my winter “coat”, if you will. I know as it gets warmer I’ll walk more and be more motivated to move. I am feeling sustained, or maybe distracted, by my pledge to read at least a book a week. I’m twenty pages out from the end of Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion. There are parts of her prose and storytelling that is spellbinding, but I must admit, certain essays contain language so dense that I need time to unpack it and look up references. Sometimes I just won’t and I will compromise with a vague sense of her tone. It’s intimidating at times, but I don’t feel stupid reading her work because I know it was a different time and you don’t get the feeling she is esoteric for the sake of being esoteric. She’s just smart.

I want to be that smart. So I will keep reading!


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In order to distract myself from a rather awful string of luck at work, I decided to dive head first into Amazon Prime’s four-part docu-series, Lorena, about the sensational case of Lorena and John Wayne Bobbitt. I was first made aware of this by the guys of Last Podcast on the Left in one of their more recent episodes. I remember being a young kid in the mid-1990s and seeing this story all over the tabloids, much like the case of JonBenét Ramsey. At the time, I was short so the magazines at the grocery store cash registers were displayed at eye level so it was hard to escape, even at that age, a feeling of salaciousness that heavily imbued American culture at the time.

With those reminiscent feelings. I was very eager to watch the documentary, which features interviews from both Lorena and John Wayne. If you don’t know what this story was about, I’ve linked to the Wikipedia page here, but will summarize it bluntly. Lorena was the victim of horrific domestic and sexual abuse at the hands of her husband, and in retaliation, one evening in 1993, she cut his penis off and threw it into a grassy area by a florescent lit neighborhood 7/11 in Manassas, Virginia.

The goings on surrounding the event and subsequent trials of both spouses were exceptional media fodder and revealed the trashy side of America. Late night television hosts and comics made their jokes. John Wayne went on to make a grotesque career for himself, after get his penis reattached, starring in pornographic movies and guesting on Howard Stern’s programs. Basically, he was interviewed by anybody and everyone who expressed interest. He later had a botched penile enhancement surgery and was convicted on further domestic abuse charges. He still writes love letters to Lorena to this day.

What the documentary more importantly reveals is how buried Lorena’s side really was. Lorena was born in Ecuador and came to America at the young age of 19; she knew no English. One Vanity Fair journalist that interviewed her recalls how inarticulate she was about her story. Perhaps that’s why media glossed over the importance of having the conversation about domestic abuse, in spite of activism surrounding the case. The “he said, she said” structure of the arguments for both of their trials (Lorena for maiming him, John for raping and abusing her) had come off the heels of the Anita Hill vs. Clarence Thomas sexual harassment case. But still, it seems, American media wanted to focus on the singular act itself as opposed to the reasoning behind her action, perhaps because the editors were men?


Lorena now is happily married to a respectful partner with whom she has a young daughter. She devotes her time to helping women and children and other abuse survivors. I have no doubts that she was brutally abused by John Wayne Bobbitt, who with his disgusting exploitative career, his inability to string together an intelligible sentence, his pile of lies, further assaults on women, and his ridiculous Donald Trump vanity license plates, is probably the lowliest piece of trash on this earth. And he still bothers her with letters claiming he now understands his wrongdoing towards her followed by suggestions to get back together and have a baby so they can make a ton of money on an interview.

Trash.

He’s still harassing her to this day. While Lorena is now more articulate, stronger, and confident, we need to remember that many women that are victims of domestic violence may be broken down, frightened or unable to advocate for themselves until it gets to a breaking point like Lorena or even death. It’s not as simple as, “just leave”. John Wayne has proven he’ll never fully let her go even though she’s trying to move on. She even says after reading some of the letters aloud for the camera, “Just leave me alone. I cut off your penis!” Further proof of what a loser and bully he truly is.

I’d like to think that things have changed since the mid-1990s, but we’re still dealing with cases like Bret Kavanaugh where again, it’s a “he said, she said” scenario and the outcome was in favor of the man. As a consumer, though, we can make choices as to what we consume. And as women, we can band together, something that men are not always as skilled at doing, and advocate for ourselves. There seems to be no other option, fair or not.

Lorena with her daughter.

I highly recommend this series. The case being interesting aside, it’s an important look and dialogue into gender wars and media, in a similar vein as the O.J.: Made in America series.


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Instead of coming home after work, scrolling uselessly through social media or watching endless amount of Netflix, I’ve decided to be more intentional with my spare time. I’m always trying to find ways to continue staying mentally engaged. With that said, my new goal is to read at least one book a week. So far, I’ve been successful, and I’m reveling in it. I know it may ebb and flow depending on my schedule and with the increased social focus that inevitably comes with warmer weather, but consuming a variety of literature is so enjoyable to me and it makes me wonder how I strayed from it so far in the last several years.

I started my project with tackling Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert in three days. I chose this book as my starter because I remembered really enjoying the writing style and fever pitch drama of the story. It didn’t disappoint the second time around! Flaubert’s story of the little middle-class village of Yonville in Northern France housing the bored, desperate housewife, Emma Bovary, as well as other ancillary characters, was as satisfying as I remember. Thanks to Flaubert’s great gift of lyrical description, the story, characters and landscape teem with life and fullness.

Afterwards, I read Maus I by Art Spiegleman, a graphic comic, for the first time, though I remember other high school English teachers taught it to my peers. I’m not sure why I never had it in my curriculum, but I’m grateful that it occurred to me to read it now. It’s a recounting of Spiegleman’s conversations with his father, Vladek, who recalls his harrowing experiences in Nazi-occupied Poland. It’s both charming and terribly sad. I devoured that in a day and have already ordered Part II. In the meantime, while I wait for it to arrive, I’ve embarked on Joan Didion’s famous collection of essays about the 1960s, Slouching Towards Bethlehem. I expect to complete that this weekend.

And onward I go, and I am loving it. I am not discriminate to any type of book, though I typically prefer fiction. Any and all suggestions are welcome, though I indeed to go through my library first!


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On President’s Day, I made a rare excursion to the movie theatre to see a movie I was only made aware of the day before, called Free Solo. Produced by National Geographic, this film documents professional rock climber, Alex Honnold’s, successful ascent to the top of El Capitan’s 900-metre vertical rock face, located in Yosemite National Park.

I never knew what free soloing was prior to this film. I knew, of course, what rock climbing was, having made feeble attempts I can count on one hand to climb an indoor wall at the behest of someone else. Ultimately, I would give up due to a variety of ailments, mainly hand, shoulder, calf, and foot cramps or being insanely out of breath. The next day, I’d be sore as hell in muscles I didn’t know existed and I would vow to never do that again. So, that’s my background on rock climbing. And in spite of that, I loved this movie.

One more technical fact I took away from the movie is the difference between free soloing and free climbing. “Free solo climbing, also known as soloing, is a form of free climbing and solo climbing where the climber (or free soloist) performs alone and without using any ropes, harnesses or other protective equipment, relying entirely on his or her ability instead.” Imagine that. Watch the trailer again. Look at this cliff face:

wut

What this documentary could’ve done is focus exclusively on the audacity of Alex’s goals. It could’ve heightened the drama to a fever pitch to the extent that bigger meaning gets lost. But these filmmakers expertly intermingled Alex’s technical research and preparation for his ascent with interviews from family and friends as well as exploration into his childhood, health, and his other-worldly confidence. We learn that Alex, the human (he is flesh and blood, believe it or not), is compelled by a core need to perform in spite of the very real dangers of doing so.

This film was beautiful, but the majestic views of Yosemite and Alex’s satisfying hero’s journey were not solely responsible. What transcended all of this was the message it delivered. And that message is that humankind is truly incredible and if you’re willing to put in the work, you can accomplish feats beyond imagination. For that reason, I believe everyone should see this documentary!

Also, Alex is brutally honest and I loved this video of him critiquing movie scenes of rock climbing!

SOURCES


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