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Oh, 2017. You made my eyes and ears explode. So much happened in the world of entertainment this year that kept me glued to various screens- my computer, my phone, my television and the local cinema. This year may have been a rough one for some but in 2017, the world of pop culture dominated (hello, #MeToo movement). Listed below are my favorites and recommendations of this passing year.
MOVIES Please note that I haven’t seen “Get Out” (I know, know…), “The Big Sick,” “Lady Bird,” “Call Me By Your Name,” “The Florida Project,” “The Shape of Water” and so many other future (hopefully) Oscar nominated films. And can we reminiscence about one of my favorite moments of the year- the Oscar fiasco (Go”Moonlight!”)?
“Trainspotting 2:” Hands down, my favorite movie of the year (and not just because I’ve had a massive crush on Ewan McGregor for most of my life). Sequels usually don’t hold but man, this movie… “T2” wraps up loose ends in a neat, plaid bow and has a lot of fun doing so. Also, THE SOUNDTRACK (take a gander at “Silk” by Wolf Alice). Also, SCOTLAND (take me back to the U.K….).
“Dunkirk:” The sound. “Dunkirk” must win Best Sound Editing at the Oscars next year. It is deafening (in the best way, of course). Christopher Nolan knows how to make a movie- TEACH ME YOUR WAYS! The stakes are high and he plays with the timeline of war in an interesting way. (My only compliant is there wasn’t enough of Tom Hardy’s lips.)
“Girls Trip:” Sometimes you need something stupid to watch and this is it (okay, stupid is the wrong word). The female friendship woven throughout the movie is heartwarming and feels real. I first saw “Girls Trip” at the theater when I was having an off day- I left with a cramp in my side from laughing so much. Tiffany Haddish absolutely kills in this movie and the other actresses play well off of each other so well.
“Wonder Woman:” Finally. Finally, finally, finally. We HAVE “WONDER WOMAN!” Gal Gadot is bad ass yet adorable. Patty Jenkins is a bad ass and a genius. This movie was sweet. It was fun. It was funny. And there wasn’t any cheap shot of certain female anatomy (that is important! Take note, male filmmakers!). This movie inspired me to start writing screenplays again- 2018, you better watch out for ME!
TELEVISION Please note that there was simply too much good television made this year- “Big Little Lies,” “The Deuce,” “GLOW,” “The Crown,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend…” But I’m finally watching “Game of Thrones” and am finally caught up with “The Great British Bakeoff!”
“Master of None:” Give it up for brown people. In the middle of the new season of “Master of None“, there is this beautiful love letter to New York City and its residents. It’s refreshing to see stories about the little guy- the elevator operator, the girl who works at the corner bodega, your taxi driver. The entire season is fantastic (the Thanksgiving episode!) but this episode proves to the world that there’s no one like New Yorkers. (Netflix)
“The Handmaid’s Tale:” I love this show even though it hurts to watch. The United States no longer exists. The majority of the world’s women can no longer get pregnant. Those who can are raped and force to to bare children to term. With everything politically that happened this year, I watch this show and wondering if the premise of “The Handmaid’s Tale” could eventually become our reality. Nevertheless, the show is compelling and leaves you wanting more. I can’t go enough of this show and am I so excited for the next season. (Hulu)
“Stranger Things:” I waited all year for the new season of “Stranger Things” and binged it within two days. With the exception of the seventh episode (you know which one I’m talking about, this season was perfect. Give me anything with Samwise Gamgee and cute guys named Steve. Bitchin’. (Netflix)
James Corden also killed with his “Carpool Karaoke” segments this year. They are always so much fun to watch. (CBS and iTunes)
MUSIC Yes, yes… I still need to listen to DAMN.
“(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” by Sampha: It was a cold day in the beginning of February when I first heard this song. I was drinking coffee in my favorite coffee shop when the barista played this song over and over again on the loudspeaker. I was hooked. Sampha wrote this beautiful tribute to his mother and their East London home right after she passed away from cancer. You can feel the emotion seeping from his pores as he sings about childhood memories. This is my favorite song of the year.
“Praying” by Kesha: I have to admit something awful. Despite my fondness for glitter, for the longest time I hated Kesha’s music. I was never a massive EDM fan and the bass in her songs would give me headaches. Flash forward to this summer. I intensely followed her legal battles against Dr. Luke and was curious to about her new album, especially when she still had ties to him. The first time I heard “Praying,” I cried. It has real power. Raw power. It is intense with filled with grace. There is a kindness in it that I don’t think I could ever give anyone if I was in Kesha’s shoes. This song has taught me about forgiveness and finding the strength in yourself.
“Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles: My friends know me as a die hard One Direction fan (I wouldn’t sing anything else at karaoke). OD went on a hiatus this year and each member branched out, moving and shaking with their solo careers. While his bandmates followed the pop route, Harry Styles took another direction (haha… puns) and made a record that, when I first listened to it, thought was a David Bowie album. “Sign of the Times” has this gorgeous sweeping chorus, with beautiful vocals and drums. I want to live in this song and in its music video.
“Despactio” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee. How can you not love this song?! Okay, it took me a while to fall in love with it but after hearing it for the millionth time, the song stole my heart (and makes me want to live on a Puerto Rican beach in a teeny bikini). Props for being the most YouTube video of all time and helping to raise Puerto Rican’s tourist interest.
“One More Light” by Linkin Park. 2017 was a sad year for rock and roll. The suicide of Chris Cornell was tough to process but Chester Bennington’s death felt like a repeated punch to the stomach. Linkin Park was a staple in my music rotation during my formative years, a band that I literally grew up with. Reading about Bennington’s suicide this July brought up some unsettling memories. The band released the video for “One More Light” a few months after Bennington’s death in memoriam. It’s with footage of a smiling Bennington interacting with fans- both the video and song just hauntingly gorgeous.
WRITING One of my resolutions for 2017 was to read more books. Despite my weekly visit to the local library, I would spend more time on Buzzfeed rather than flipping tangible pages. Quite frankly, I can’t remember the majority of things I read this year but I do remember this piece of journalism. The photos alone tell a heartbreaking story but dive deeper into the text and learn how the Syrian people continue on despite the war around them. The music flows over the ruins of Aleppo and through the crevices of our hearts.
What are your favorites of 2017, dear reader?
I don’t know where I would be without the internet. I wouldn’t have a career, blogging and creating online content. I wouldn’t be in a relationship (thanks, Bumble!). It’s one of the things I daily take advantage of- the fact that I can visit any website I choose, that I can turn on my iPhone’s data and spend as much time as I want on Instagram; that I have affordable, high-speed access at my finger tips. So, what would happen if this all disappeared?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC- which regulates radio, television, satellite and cable communications nationwide) revealed plans to dismantle net neutrality, which would lead to internet speeds being controlled by few very corporations (this vote will happen December 14th).
Take a step back: what is net neutrality?
To break it down- internet service providers (Comcast, Charter, Verizon, etc.) must treat all data on the Internet the same and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website or platform. Service providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content.
Net neutrality protects websites and their users. If it goes away, that means all your internet date and viewing can be scrutinized by telecom companies. Without net neutrality, providers can program the computers that route that information to interfere with the data flow by slowing down or blocking traffic and communicators that they don’t like, and speeding up traffic they do like or that pays them extra for the privilege. Imagine not being able to check your favorite news site in the morning or not being to access your bank account online. Companies (say your bank) will have to start changing more for access which will trickle down to their consumer- so you would pay more to use your currently free banking app.
What can you do to help? Write to your Senator and Congressman. Call them. If enough constituents voice their opinions, lawmakers will realize that they will not getting reelected if their district doesn’t stand with their decision making. If you’re living in a state and a city where your Senator and Representative oppose net neutrality, lobby your city council to create a municipal ISP that will draft plans to install and roll out gigabit or faster service to every home. Encourage your city (no matter the population and mileage size) to take the Next Century Cities pledge and become a Next Century City.
(And dear reader- net neutrality, as well as a new tax plan are scheduled to be voted on by mid-December. Do your research and voice your opinion! Let’s start 2018 right!)
These past weeks have been difficult ones. Many of us are fortunate to have strong support systems- I’m happy to see the stigma of mental illness falling away as more people open up about their struggles. However, I know that accessible and affordable mental health care is still lacking. Some of us are going through these trying times without the support we need.
Below are some affordable options for those seeking help. I have tried some of these resources. Others we recommended to me. Please note that I’m not a doctor of any sorts. Your mental health is your business and responsibility. There are no substitutes for actually talking with a professional. However, if I can help you steer in the right direction, snaps.
Headspace Last month, a friend invited me to the local Buddhist Center for a free mediation class. I fell in love with the course- I could finally clear my “monkey mind” and focus on more positive avenues. However, the mediation class is only held twice a month and I wanted more practice. Another friend recommended the app, Headspace. The free app teaches you simple ten-minute mediation that cover mindfulness, letting go and relaxation. I listen to Headspace on my phone right before bed. The host’s soothing voice relaxes my tense mind and muscles and allows me to get a good night’s sleep.
Podcasts Sometimes, we don’t want to talk about our feelings but need to feel that empathy and connection. Podcasts are perfect for that. Terrible, Thanks for Asking is this terrific program that honestly asks people how they’re doing. I like listening to each story and being reminded that no one is perfect- no one has it all together- and that’s okay. It’s more than okay. It’s beautiful. The Love Bomb I first fell in love with Nico Tortorella after watching him on “Younger” (and maybe the fact that he looks like an old ex). He also hosts a wonderful podcast about love and relationship- both with yourself and others. It’s the ultimate comfort food. The Hilarious World of Depression is a weekly podcast that talks with celebrities about their mental health and how they deal with the day-to-day. The most recent episode features Wil Wheaton of “Star Trek” fame.
7 Cups of Teas This site connects listeners together. Individuals can sign up for free to give and get advice, video chat and send thoughtful messages to each other. 7 cups is a welcoming safe space where you can find someone with whom you feel comfortable chatting without fear of being judged. The site also features online therapy at a fraction of the price and their message counseling can be done anywhere at anytime.
Campus resources Back when I was a university student, I took full advantage of my campus health center, especially on-campus counseling services. Counseling was “free” to students (students paid for such services in their tuition). My university’s psychology department also offered free counseling in their Master’s programs training clinics (which is a great option when you’re not enrolled as a student). I also checked in with my teachers quiet often and talked to them about college struggles. The hours I spent in some of my professors’ offices are some of favorite memories and most enlightening moments from my undergrad years.
Good luck, dear reader. I hope that you find the help you need.
The quote above is from “Hamilton: the Musical.” Alexander’s young son just died and his wife discovers his affair with her sister. He sings about his guilt, unable to forgive himself for the mistakes he made. “It’s Quiet Uptown” is on constant rotation on my Spotify playlist. You listen to that song twenty times a day and can’t help but think about forgiveness. How we forgive others. How we forgive ourselves.
For most of my life, it has been easy for me to forgive others. However, when it comes to myself, I hold on to past mistakes long after they occurred. Poor financial choices I made in my twenties. Not taking certain key opportunities. For burning bridges and acting inappropriately in certain relationships. Not focusing on my health- especially my teeth and my anxiety.
To forgive ourselves is to accept responsibility for our actions both compassionately and seriously. Forgiveness is a process, one that doesn’t happen overnight. When we can really wrap our head around the fact that we can’t undo the past- the past is DONE- we open ourselves up to more acceptance. It’s now time to turn the page and accept those events as part of your story. They’ve all contributed to making you who you are. Perhaps we can find a silver lining in each mistake, a learning lesson. Yes, it doesn’t excuse you from being an asshole but when you’re constantly living in the past as I do, forgiveness can lighten your mental load.
Forgiveness is about mental toughness and emotional fortitude. To wrap it up in one simple word, it’s about kindness. We are our own toughest critic. I beat myself up all of the time for every single mistake and poor choice I’ve made. I beat myself up all of the time for being human. Humans are not perfect even though in my head, I think that we are. I think that I should be. I give myself impossibly high standards and expectations. But even the incredibly stupid acts are part of being human. Life is a series of mistakes. We go from one to the next, learning, shaping, and molding us along the way.
Forgiveness- it is imaginable. It does happen.
How have you forgiven yourself, dear reader?