Monday, December 30, 2013

The Good, The Bad, & The Annoying: Christmas 2013

So this Christmas was a bit of a whirlwind.  I was only on vacation for six days.  Two of travel, and four actually at home.  It turned into seven days, but more on that in a moment.  I hadn’t been home in a year; the previous Christmas trip was longer and more leisurely.  But here’s what happened this year.

The Good: Seeing People

I got to see so many people I wanted to, although not all of them. The first day back I got to work with Kali on our screenplay.  Which is gonna be awesome sauce by the way.  Look about for something in the next five years. Then was Platte family Christmas so I got to see my KSNRLS Justene and Dani (which was very exciting, but I'm not going into detail on that).  And all my cousins.  The following night my darling Rachel spent the night since her house was still sans power from the storm.  And we worked on a puzzle, because we’re super freaking cool like that.  Then on Christmas Eve, I got lunch with my biffle for riffle Meredith, before I headed to my dad’s for their Christmas festivities.  I got to see my stepmom’s family for a bit before they jettisoned off for church.  Then my auntie Dawn and I got to chat for a long while and then some.  Then I went back to my mom’s Christmas Day and worked more on the puzzle before leaving the next morning. Holy busy, Batman!

The Bad: Weather

From the very beginning, weather doomed our trip.  Well traffic getting out of Birmingham doomed us first. But through Kentucky and Indiana (which is the suckiest state ever btw) we had rain on and off.  Not drizzle rain. Fierce wind and gale rain.  Then once we hit the Michigan state line, and I swear it started right at the state line, we had intense fog.  So we’re dealing with the fog and then we get off the highway and the road is icy. Deceptively icy.  And anyone who has ever driven in this will understand.  The icy is so thin that the road looks clear, but it’s actually incredibly slick.  So is was pretty nerve wracking for poor Colette, who was driving at this point. Well then, the first night actual night of the trip we got hit with a lovely ice storm.  Here’s some photographic evidence.  It was nasty.  Some of my plans had to get canceled.

This is our front yard after the first day of the storm. It would proceed to get much worse.

Our Driveway. Needless to say, we didn't get to use our vehicles that day.

The Annoying: Illness

Sadly, the Pollitt family was passing around the flu.  It was only a few hours into the drive back that Colette got sick.  And a few hours later when I felt weak in the stomach.  She did really well through the tip. Didn’t get any vomit on my car!  We luckily had some plastic bags so all the sick was contained.  But it was rough going.  We were both very relieved to get home.  I slept 12 hours and only woke up once.  I was super weak the next day and didn’t work, thus making my vacation a week.  But I would have been ok without that last day.

That was my Christmas trip.  I got some amazing presents (yes, I realize that's not the point of Christmas), and I hope everyone liked what I got for them.  It was a nice trip.  I just wonder if it’ll be a whole year before I’m home again.  Because I’d like to experience some nicer weather if I'm going to be back in the Mitten.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Resolutions 2014; AKA How I Plan to Fail in the New Year

It’s that time of year again.  Everyone looks into gym memberships.  Buys new organizational tools.  A new schedule and calendar for keeping track of things.  Yes, it’s almost the new year.  And like everyone else, I’ve set myself with some resolutions for the next year.


1. Physical Health

Part A: I would like to lose ten pounds by my birthday. Since my birthday is the 2nd of April, that gives me three months to lose it. So averaging 3.5 pounds a month is the key, which is incredibly doable.

Part B: I’m going to try and workout more regularly. I’ve set myself to this in the past, but never stuck with it.  So I’m starting off small. Once a week.  Twice if I want to be REALLY optimistic.  Whether it is walking Tasha or doing my yoga workout video, something will be done at least once a week.

Part C: Drink less.  This resolution part kind of sucks, because alcohol is really delicious and I just got a ton of it from Christmas.  But since alcohol is essentially drinking all your calories, if I want to ease up on the caloric intake, cutting the alcohol would be a good start.

2. Financial Situation

I’m currently working two jobs.  And while I’m in a good place right now, I work almost every single day, which is incredibly exhausting.  So I need to find something else.  For my own sanity and immune system, which is gonna hit its limit soon.  I’ve decided that I will send ten resumes or fill out ten applications a week.  Then the next week, not only will I fill out ten more, but I’ll also check up on the previous ten.  I want to work in my field, and DAGNABIT, I’ll make it happen.

3: Personal Growth

Part A: I want to have a novel finished and prepped for shopping publishing at the end of the year.  If it happens prior to the end of the year, I’d be ok with that.  But the end of the year is my deadline for writing.

Part B: Even though I have limited time, I want to spend more of it with friends I don’t see very often. I’m hoping I’ll be able to start scheduling Sunday Doctor Who viewings with my friend Karen who wants to watch it.  In general, there are people in my life I want to communicate with more, so I want to make an effort to do that.

So there you go, my resolutions in all their parts for my new self in the new year of 2014.  Essentially, I better drink up fast to get rid of that alcohol before the 1st. And I need more hours in a day, so I can sleep and still get stuff done.  Best of luck to everyone else in their new year endeavours!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

B is for Betrayal

So a little while ago, something pretty huge happened that made my living situation complicated, and my blood boil.  It upset me so much that I actually lost sleep.  I wrote this blog and kept from posting it, hoping that things would change and get better.  Well they didn’t, so really there is nothing to keep me from posting this.  So here it goes...

The deepest circle of hell is reserved for betrayers.  I wish I could end that with “and mutineers,” but unfortunately this post does not include pirates.  With the exception of this intro.

It has recently come to my attention that I’ve been lied to.  Not about something trivial but about money.  My money and how much I’m paying for my living situation. As someone who just had to get a second job to afford life once student loans come due, I’m pretty furious.  Which is why I’m awake at 3:30 am writing this post, because I couldn’t fall back asleep since I was thinking about it.

When I moved down to Birmingham last summer, I moved into a house with five other girls, which was purchased by one of them.  We shall call them Leaseholder and Roomies hereafter.  We (the roomies) made it clear that Leaseholder would use our rent to pay the mortgage, minus insurance and taxes.  Not an unreasonable position to make, since you can get in trouble for paying someone else’s taxes.  We were told that the mortgage (minus insurance and taxes) was X amount.

In reality, it’s X minus 600 dollars.  Leaseholder lied.  To her own friends.

Not that big of a deal when you consider splitting it by 6.  But two roomies moved out and the amount was still X, which was now being split by 4.  When we moved in, our rent was just under 200 dollars, plus utilities.  When the first roomie moved out, it went to 225 (for one roomie and myself who lived in the basement without an egress window...EEK) and 250 for those roomies who had their own room.  And when the second roomie left, it went to 250 for everyone, plus utilities.  Still looking at basic numbers isn’t bad when you consider what apartments, especially in a city like Birmingham cost.  But power and electricity for a house is a crap ton more than an apartment, especially heating and A/C.

Since this information has recently come about confirming the actual cost of the mortgage, new information has also arisen.  So the remaining roomies pay 250 bucks each per month, and the additional amount due is supposed to be paid by Leaseholder.  But since the actual price is significantly less, so she pays a fraction and puts money away for “household expenses.”  Based on the entire situation over time, Leaseholder has a bank account with approximately $3000.  But any household expenses we’ve needed taken care of were done by her dad or a friend of her dad for no cost.  And serious fixes have gone untouched, including frayed wires on the side of the house currently covered by a thing of Tupperware and eaves that are overflowing and could cause roof damage.

One roomie discovered the lie and crunched the numbers.  After asking for a meeting, Leaseholder sat down with that roomie, but not with everyone else.  She admitted that she lied, but showed zero remorse.  The night before Leaseholder typed up a written letter (instead of actually talking face to face with everyone) justifying her actions.  Unbeknownst to me, but other roomies were aware, that Leaseholder can actually afford the mortgage payment herself.  I was lead to believe if the roomies moved out she would be unable to afford it.

Writing this all now, I see her point.  Houses are expensive.  But here’s my problem: lying to your friends.  If Leaseholder had come up to us from the beginning and said she wanted to pay less but put some money aside for expenses, I would have obviously agreed.  That way I wouldn’t be responsible for having to chip in if something happened.  But the fact that she lied, and then continued to facilitate the lie absolutely pisses me off.

We asked for the house to be sprayed to deal with bugs and for the Tupperware cover to be dealt with repeatedly.  Leaseholder kept saying she didn’t have the money to take care of it.  Which we now know is complete crap.

Granted, I didn’t know Leaseholder before I moved down here, but I’m incredibly hurt.  I’ve been overcharged and lied to about it, and she has showed no remorse nor offered to pay back the money owed, which is at least a few hundred dollars. I don’t have the crunched numbers in front of me.  

And here’s the absolutely shiny cherry on the sundae of crap.  I don’t (so far) qualify for student loan deferment.  I need to talk to the loan agency, but if I can’t get a higher paying job in a few months, my savings will be obliterated and I’ll have to move home.  But I really can’t afford to move out so I’m stuck living here.

I have created a life here in Birmingham.  I have a boyfriend, and friends, and volunteer at an amazing organization.  And I could have to leave that all behind. Now I’ve been lied to as well.  Things aren’t so good for me right now, and it’s pretty upsetting.  Which is why I’m awake at 4 am writing about it.

So yeah, that’s the skinny.  In reality, if things had been open and honest, it would be a completely different story.  Things have continued to be an unpleasant living situation, which I am currently trying to remedy.  Something good to close this, since it’s kind of a suckfest, I was able to get a lower payment on my student loans that is very affordable.  So that’s something I guess.  Now to handle the rest of the crappy stuff….

The Project for Awesome 2013

I didn't get this post up as quickly as I wanted, or even during the project, so there's my goal for next year. Get it up during the actual project....anyway, moving on! 

The Project for Awesome was created by the Vlogbrothers (John and Hank Green) as a challenge to take over youtube for a day full of charity videos on the featured page.  While youtube may have changed since the inception of the project, the only change we've seen is that the project has grown more awesome!  The Foundation to Decrease World Suck is actually a recognized charity organization (tax deductible!) and has basically the best name ever.

I chose to address sexual violence in my video and specifically the Birmingham Crisis Center, which is the place I volunteer with currently.

This was my first year submitting a video with the project. I can't wait to make alterations and submit and even better video next year! 

For more information on the Project for Awesome, go here.

And if you feel so inclined to donate to the Birmingham Crisis Center or just want to learn more about the organization, go here.

Can't wait for next year! As we say in Nerdfighteria, don't forget to be awesome!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Thanksgiving Video

Here's what I could come up with for what I was thankful for this year.  Obviously the list could go on and on.  Also warning, I apparently forgot what a vocabulary is because I consistently use the words awesome and amazing. I'm going to make everyone cringe.

What were you thankful for this year?

12 Movies, Because I'm WAY Behind

I know my blogging has been lackadaisical lately.  I blame the fact that I have two jobs (sorry).  But I noticed that my movie blogging was even more behind.  I’ve seen plenty good movies, just haven’t posted about them.  Get your slushies ready!  Here it goes...

#35: Side Effects

The film starring Channing Tatum and Rooney Mara as married couple Martin and Emily Taylor dealing with his release from prison for insider trading.  Emily is struggling with depression and goes to Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) for help.  She continues to struggle and continues taking a variety of medications, the most recent that gives her problems with sleepwalking. Banks then consults with Dr. VIctoria Siebert (Catherine Zeta-Jones) on Emily’s past issues and how he can make progress with her.  The side effects of her medication become the main question of the film.  I give it a 8.5 out of 10.  The movie had amazing cinematography and an absolutely fantastic main cast.  The thriller aspect of the movie was done so brilliantly that when the film was often obvious, it still wasn’t. Absolutely fantastic film, I deducted 1.5 for some easily guessable moments and the small amount of time Channing Tatum was on screen.

#36: For a Good Time, Call...

While I might be buzzed off my gourd writing this, but the film is awesome. Katie (Ari Graynor) and Lauren (Lauren Miller) are old college frenemies who find themselves in difficult positions and forced into living with each other. Katie operates on a sex line, which Lauren soon discovers. Eventually Lauren convinces Katie that they could operate their own line and make it a profitable business.  The film is witty and hilarious. I give it a 9.5 out of 10.  There were a couple moments which to me could have been done better and the length was short, but overall the film was a joy to watch. And kept me in stitches from laughing. Even though the film is about a phone sex line, it has an amazing message about sex.

#37: Man On Fire

This film is about a bodyguard Peasey (Denzel Washington) who gets hired by a family to protect their daughter Pita (Dakota Fanning).  The family resides in Mexico City where abductions are abundant and return of life low.  One day as Pita is coming out of her piano lesson, she is snatched.  The family tries to ransom for her, but when things go south, Peasey goes on the warpath.  Had I not known the film wasn’t directed by David Fincher (director of Se7en and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), I would have believed it was his work.  The cinematography was fantastic.  I give the film an 8.5 out of 10.  The pace of the film dragged far too much for my liking.  Clocking in around two hours, the film could have cut at least twenty minutes out and made it far more bearable.  This is what Taken with Liam Neeson would have been, if Liam Neeson liked to take things slow.  Overall great story, but takes some time getting around to the action.

#38: Iron Man 2    

I hadn’t seen this movie for a really long time, and then fortunately one night while working on homework the first Iron Man was on followed by the second.  The sequel continues on Tony Stark’s life as Iron Man and his ego the size of his house.  Someone else has harnessed the power that he possesses and his planning to use it against him.  Two villains are featured in the story including the aforementioned Ivan Vanko (evil scientist also known as Whiplash, played by Mickey Rourke) and Justin Hammer (played by Sam Rockwell).  Not to mention, Stark is dealing with some health concerns that could derail him as Iron Man forever.  Overall, I give the movie a 7 out of 10.  It didn’t hold my attention as much as the first movie.  And I felt Sam Rockwell was underused as a character.  He’s a fantastic actor and I wish he could have been given more time in the film.

#39: Iron Man 3    

I was very excited to see this film in theaters, and I was not disappointed.  Tony Stark’s story continues as a terrorist called the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is wreaking havoc, and that havoc lands on Iron Man’s own doorstep.  A guy from Pepper’s (Gwyneth Paltrow) past reemerges with new technology he’s keen on sharing.  Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) is messing with some serious firepower, and Pepper could be at risk.  Tony’s life is upended and he is reminded how much of Iron Man is about his wealth and how much is about his heart.  I give the movie an 8 out of 10.  The film was genuinely funny.  I spent so much of the movie cracking up.  I’m fairly certain that the release for the film got pushed back because the release was in May, but the film had so much Christmas in it.  There were things that could have been done differently, but overall, it was a great addition to the franchise.

#40: The Host     

While I may get crap for having read Twilight, the Host, Meyer’s more adult novel, is markedly better in my opinion than her more popular series.  The book is about an invading race of aliens that believe they need to take over the world because humans are too violent and are killing themselves as a species. Melanie (played by Saoirse Ronan) has just been inserted with one of the aliens, and that entity, self named Wanderer, is tasked with finding a pocket of rebel humans trying to get away from the invasion.  Melanie is torn between the resolve of the alien and her own personal love for her boyfriend Jared (played by Max Irons).  When she makes it to her human community, it becomes an internal struggle between the two souls.  Overall, I give this movie a 7 out of 10.  Since the book is mainly an internal debate, that is hard to translate to film.  There were pivotal parts that were missing.  But as the wise uncle Jeb, William Hurt is phenomenal. It’s a decent representation of a decent book.

#41: Star Trek Into Darkness   

I’ve always been more of a Star Wars gal, but when I saw the first Star Trek, I was pretty twitterpated.  I can’t wait to watch some original ST, but since I have so many other shows to watch, I had to settle for the films instead.  The original gang is back, including Captain Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto), Sulu (John Cho), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Bones (Karl Urban), and Chekov (Anton Yelchin).  An internal threat brings destruction on the Federation, and the Enterprise is charged with bringing him to justice.  John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a mystery that Kirk and his crew are about to unfold, but what will happen in the process? Since I haven’t seen the original, I don’t know how well it compares.  I give it an 8 out of 10.  I thought it was fantastic and the cast was brilliant.  The only downside to me is that sometimes the story seemed weird or off or something.  Probably just me. But I thought Benedict was amazing! And would watch it over and over again just for him.

#42: Friends With Kids

This is a great story of how a group of friends copes with changes.  One couple has just gotten pregnant, another couple is newly married, and the two remaining individuals are still dealing with singledom.  This ensemble cast includes Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm, Jennifer Westfeldt, and Adam Scott.  As both the first two couples are immersed in responsibilities with children, the two singles decide to revolutionize relationships and parenthood.  They decide to have a child together even though they aren’t together.  As time goes on and relationships are altered, you find out which relationships are solid enough to make it.  I give the film 7.5 out of 10.  The ensemble is what made this film.  These actors work so well together.  But at the same time, the film gets predictable.

#43: Safety Not Guaranteed  

While this movie is not perfect, it contains so much poignancy that it almost is.  Kenneth (Mark Duplass) is trying to go back in time to change something, and he takes out an ad in a magazine to find a companion.  Employees at the magazine (Jake Johnson, Aubrey Plaza, and Karan Soni) get sent to find out his story and see if he’s really a nut job or if there is more than meets the eye.  The amazing story unfolds and leaves the most thoughtful point: you cannot move forward if you live in the past.  I give it a 9 out of 10.  The movie is amazing but has moments that could have flowed a bit better.  Overall, an amazing film that leaves you with a nice profound appreciation for your life.

#44: Bachelorette  

This movie is a great illustration of how karma is a bitch.  Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Katie (Isla Fisher), and Gena (Lizzy Caplan) were the mean girls in school.  They pretended to be friends with and toyed with Becky (Rebel Wilson) all through high school.  Becky has asked them to be her bachelorettes for her wedding.  As the girls head to NYC for a bash, all the things that could go wrong for the girls do go wrong.  Karma really takes over and tries to teach the girls a lesson about how you should treat people.  I give it a 7 out of 10.  It was interesting to watch and had a more original concept than some films out today, but it wasn’t phenomenal.  A good movie to Netflix on a girls night in.

#45: Sideways

I had wanted to see this movie for a while because it is about wine and has a great cast.  Jack (Thomas Haden Church) is about to get married and his best man Miles (Paul Giamatti) decides to take him for a wine tour for his last hurrah.  While Miles is content to taste wine and enjoy the country, Jack wants to sow his wild oats...yeah.  Miles and Jack end up meeting up with two waitresses Maya (Virginia Madsen) and Stephanie (Sandra Oh).  Miles already had a crush on Maya, but Jack immediately hits it off with Stephanie.  I give the movie a 6 out of 10.  I was slightly buzzed off wine when watching it, but I felt the movie was far too long and I don’t see why it was so acclaimed.  The two main male characters are kind of assholes. There were certainly moments, but it was only ok.

#46: Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is my least favorite Shakespeare work I’ve ever read.  But since I’d never seen the Baz Luhrmann edition, I thought I would give it a try for the sake of my friend who really likes Baz. Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes play the elusive lovers, supported by an amazing cast including Pete Postlethwaite, John Leguizamo, Harold Perrineau, Paul Rudd, and Brian Dennehy.  While I admit that you can tell it’s a Baz Luhrmann film through and through, it’s still Romeo and Juliet, so it still sucks.  I give it a 5 out of 10. I can handle the cinematography and the cast, but not the story. I really can’t do it.

I’ll hopefully have a Catching Fire movie and book review up soon, so enjoy that popcorn and stay tuned!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Book Club: November

For November, I continued the Olympia Heights series by Amy Strickland.  The second book is The Weight of the World and the third book is The Blood of Athens.  While I finished the second book a while ago, I finished the third book last night and I am anxiously waiting for the fourth book because the third left a teaser for us.  Which is just RUDE. Anyway...I wanted to get this actually posted during November. Womp womp.

From Olympia Heights Website

The Weight of the World takes place six months after the culmination of the first book.  The focus of the novel is the upgrading of powers for the gods, and Devon (Aphrodite) doing what she normally does (being sexually promiscuous obviously) and getting pregnant with Frank (Ares).  As she and the group deal with the oncoming birth, strange things start happening around town including a giant ladle falling from the sky and two bears attacking Diana (Artemis) and her new boyfriend. Emotional tensions are running high in the group since Nick (Poseidon) is seducing girls from Valerie’s (Hestia) abstinence club.  Now that June (Hera) and Zach (Zeus) are on the outs, he’s been spending time with Minnie (Athena), which doesn’t go over well with June.  And on top of all that, someone is catching their behavior in the act and publishing it online.  Drama and hijinks ensue, forcing the club to figure out how to work better as a team.

From Olympia Heights Website

The Blood of Athens starts up with part of the Pantheon preparing for a trip to Greece, which to them is a much bigger deal than the other students.  The trip takes a turn for the tragic when dead bodies start cropping up through the country.  While part of the Pantheon is trying to enjoy the homeland, the other part back home is dealing with its own issues.  Zach and June make some interesting choices, and the mortal ally Jason has someone making threats that could unravel the group, whose powers are still advancing.

More information about the author Amy Strickland can be found here at the Olympia Heights website and at her blog here.  Hopefully next month’s book club will be both a book and movie review as I take on a Catching Fire comparison!