Tag: perks of being a wallflower

2012 Favorites

Happy New Year!  My neighbors are lighting a million fireworks so I’m still up despite coughing my head off.  I thought it might be fun to give you some of my favorites of this year.  Here goes

Favorite 2012 Book

1.  Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson- Should be no big surprise to anyone as I’ve been pedaling this book to everyone I know (and everyone else has liked it to.)    It is a ‘regency romance’ in the style of Heyer or Austen.  It is a juicy story of Marianne Daventry as she tries to train herself in the ways of good society at large estate of Edenbrooke.  Along the way we get a highway robbery, kidnappings, miscommunications and tons of romantic dialogue.

edenbrooke

2. Other books I loved this year- I read 50 books this year and some of my favorite are Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart, I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella, Going Solo by Eric Klinenberg, Boomerang by Michael Lewis, The Joy of Hate by Greg Gutfield, and the somewhat trashy but enjoyable Chicago Stars series by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Favorite 2012 Music-

1. Chris Mann- Roads- The standout on season 2 of The Voice (much better than the winner who I can’t even remember his name!).  A great debut album.  If you like Josh Groban or Andrea Bocelli you will like Chris Mann.   He has a light opera voice  but isn’t afraid of a modern song like Viva La Vida

2.  Phillip Phillips- Home- Probably my favorite single of the year.  I must say I didn’t think his album was as good as the single but I still love this song. The winner of the last season of Idol made me wonder if I should watch the show again.  A folksy, earthy song that I could listen to again and again.

Favorite 2012 Movies-

1. Perks of Being a Wallflower- I’ve mentioned it a couple times on this blog but this movie really spoke to me.  It is set during my high school years (the setting could have been my high school) and I could relate to every character.  Dark, sad, tragic, funny, bizarre, disturbing, intriguing and everything else.  I liked all the performances and even little details like the music were perfect.

Written, and directed by Stephen Chbosky as adapted from his novel, it is one of the rare instances where I think the movie actually improves upon the book, which is written in the tired cliche of a letter-format.   I loved Emma Watson who does a convincing American accent and all of the teens felt like teens with authentic problems, parties, attitudes and romances- something so rarely seen in the teen movie genre.  I felt so inspired after seeing this movie for the first time that I went home and wrote a chapter of my book.  It made me want to write, express myself, and be creative.

I will say that this movie is not for everyone.  It is challenging but I found it exhilarating!

2. Les Miserables- The much hyped live performance version of the broadway musical adapted from the Victor Hugo novel (which I have never been able to get through btw).  I first saw Les Mis when I was 14 years old and went to NYC with my choir group.  I knew every song, every line of dialogue and for once my high expectations were completely met. I was blown away.

I then saw the show again in 2006 with my Aunt Kate when they did a revival and it moved me once again.  I love the story of the merciful Jean ValJean hunted by the ruthless Javert who seeks only justice.  I love the music and aside from a bit of over-the-top antics from the Thenardiers I thought the movie totally nailed it.  I loved the performances, cinematography, long fading shots, singing (with the exception of Javert), staging etc.  I loved it.  It brought me to tears and I wanted to see it again almost immediately.  I liked almost every single choice they made.  Definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen in years.

3.  Other movies I liked- Friends with Kids, The Hobbit, Bully, Pirates: Band of Misfits, ParaNorman, and Brave.

Favorite Television 2012-

Such a weak year for television.  All the reality shows are getting tired including once reliables like Dancing with the Stars, Pawn Stars and Project Runway.

1. Downton Abbey- I got on the Downton Abbey bus early in 2011 but really loved both seasons this year, although I’m still traumatized by the recent Christmas episode!  Still, Dame Maggie Smith’s scenes are worthy of note alone.  There are so many well developed characters and the dialogue is always sharp.  I’m a believer in soap so I don’t really mind those elements.

2. Drop Dead Diva-  My favorite show this year. Drop Dead Diva had a great season with a huge ending that has me dying to know what is going to happen.  They got slightly less ridiculous in the cases presented and the romance between Jane and Owen felt believable.  With the return of Fred in a slightly altered form next season proves to be great.  A campy, silly show but done so well I love it!

3.  BYU TV- I’ve been enjoying BYU TV lately especially their shows American Ride and The Story Trek.  American Ride is a bikers version of American history.  Interesting and entertaining.  The Story Trek is great.  They literally go door to door and try to get interviews, hearing everyone’s story.  It is great what they come up with.  I like that I can turn on BYU TV and always find something enriching and clean.  It is not overly Mormon, just squeaky clean and fun shows.

4.  Other standouts- Go On about a widowed radio sports jock who goes to a grieving group, Up All Night about a couple struggling to raise their little girl in yuppie LA, Portlandia making fun of all things hipster, The Mindy Project basically the tv form of Mindy’s book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, which is another favorite book of the year and I thoroughly related to. I also enjoy Bunheads written by the writer of Gilmore Girls and has the same crackling dialogue.  Plus, it has Sutton Foster in it who is divine.

So there’s some of my favorites of 2012.  What are some of your favorite books, movies, music, TV?

Outside the Utah Box

I don’t know about you but I’m always looking for something outside the box.  Something different, unique, and fun (and right now, cheap!).  Knowing NaMo is coming up I particularly wanted to fill this weekend up with a lot of experiences, make it jammed packed!  (I’m going to be starting at a screen for probably 12 hours a day including work and NaMo so got to be careful to keep my sanity as I write.

It all started on Thursday I met my friends Emilee and Rachel M for a silent movie at the Edison Street Events.  It was a really unique place.  A traditional Wurlitzer theater organ that was originally built around a chicken coop and then expanded.  The building is obscure and hidden away and I’m not sure how I heard of it but they were doing a screening of Phantom of the Opera (1925 version) with live organist.  This is not an ordinary organ but literally the pipes completely surround the room.  The keys are different too with sound effects such as drums and screams that are not in a normal organ.  The screen is small but I was completely immersed.  The organist was AMAZING!  and never missed a beat of synchronization with the movie.   He also included sections of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical which was a lot of fun.

I will definitely go back.  Next up they have a Harold Lloyd screening, followed by Laurel and Hardy.  So great!.

http://www.edisonstreetevents.com/silent-movies/

On Friday I continued the fun (btw I worked 53 hours last week so it was not a complete fun ride…) by going to see my friend Etsuko’s Middle Eastern Dance recital.  I am the worst dancer ever and I am not saying that to be modest.  I really have almost no natural sense of rhythm or timing.  Because I am so bad I appreciate anyone who is willing to dance in public and perform.  I would never have the guts.

The recital was gorgeous and exciting with sword balancing, belly dancing and hip moving.  I have never seen that kind of dance so that made it more fun.

3rd person from right is Etsuko.
They had some professionals there along with the students and they were pretty great

After the recital I went over to my sisters and we decided to go to a movie.  Its funny because we are both movie goers yet have not been to a movie together in over a year! Crazy how that happens.  I had been telling her about Perks of Being a Wallflower because I knew she would love it, so we went and saw and no surprise she loved it.  ( I was so sure that I bet $100 she’d like it! Good thing I got to keep my $100).

It is not a movie for everyone because of its darker elements but I’ve seen it twice and loved it more the second time.  The characters are so well developed.  They feel so authentic, like I can actually picture people I knew in high school saying those lines and experiencing those things.  I definitely want to read the book as the movie is written and directed by the author.  It is definitely an outside of the box kind of movie and those come around so rarely I’m grateful when they do.

Saturday was more subdued but still a lot of fun.  I slept in (didn’t get home until after 2 after chatting and shopping with Anna) and then went to the local NaNoWriMo kick off party in South Jordan.  It was a little chaotic but I got to meet 2 other writers who had both done the challenge before and they gave me some tips. I feel pretty confident in my ability to finish and write something I will be proud of.    The guy was writing a fantasy novel and I can’t imagine inventing a whole world and characters in one month.  I feel overwhelmed just telling my own story, but I guess they are both hard in different ways.

After the party I went home and then called my friend Sarah to see if she wanted to hang out and she did!  I love it when you call someone spur of the moment and they are free.  Doesn’t happen very often any more but makes me super happy when it does.  We went to this yummy sushi place that is like 2 steps from my house (hurray new find!) and then watched an old staging of Macbeth (to get ready for book club next week) by the Royal Shakespeare Company (from 1979 with Judi Dench and Ian McKellan).  The filming looked dated and was a little hard to get past but the play and performances were amazing!  Again, it was just fun to watch something out of the ordinary, something I might normally have selected.

I know this is a bit of a rambling post but I’m always hearing people say ‘Utah is so boring’ or ‘There’s nothing to do here’.  Look at all I did in 3 days in Utah for under $20 total, $30 if you count the sushi.  I’ve often wanted to make a blog of 52 weekends of fun in Utah, where you profile new and exciting things to do every weekend in Utah, give reviews, have a calendar of events etc.  I think wherever you live it just takes a little bit of digging to find a wealth of fun, unique, exciting things to do with your time.

And think a little outside the box.  Try something new. You might hate it but isn’t that what makes life exciting? If we are totally predictable and never do anything different than we will never grow or develop.  I say that as a fairly predictable, but accepting person. I know what I like and usually go for it but every now and then I push myself and decide to grow a little.

Anyway, stop saying Utah is boring and get out and do some of the great things we at our fingertips!

https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/in-defense-of-utah/

 

 

 

Rachel Eat Pray Love Day 1

So I know I say things like this all the time but it doesn’t make it any less true- today was one of the best days of my life!  It was so wonderful!  Its hard to believe that I ever contemplated doing anything else and that I could be the same human being that was so miserable on Tuesday.  I wish I wasn’t such a spazz and had a constant, even tone to my days but alas that’s just not my style.

The one thing about an insanely hard week with a seemingly impossible deadline and a near-panic attack is that everything can only go up from there and boy did it.  I’m so glad I decided to spend the money (and it wasn’t too bad actually) and treat myself to a weekend  of rehabilitation and rejuvenation.  I needed it so badly!

For starters I finished the month end in time!!!!  I still can’t believe it!  Hurray!  Heavenly Father really does answer prayers and help you do the impossible when you have faith.  Seriously.

So done with my Friday free (hurray!)  I set out for a massage at my gym.  (Would have asked my dear friend Jill but she had to take a 9 to 5’er for insurance 😦 ).  Anyway, got a one hour massage and it was heaven. Seriously if I was rich I’d have a massage every week.

zen achieved

Oh I forgot I got to the massage late because I was cleaning my car because my folks are using it this week and guess what I threw into the recycle dumpster?  Yes, my keys.  It was quite the endeavor to get them out climbing up on a laundry basket that was in the dumpster and hurling myself into the cardboard.  It actually hurt and I have bruises but I got the keys!  Nothing was going to get me down!

found the keys. Dumpster diver extraordinaire!

After the massage I got the car wash and then headed to the hotel.  I am staying that the City Center Marriott in Salt Lake. I stayed here once before when in 2007 I along with 4 of my friends celebrated the last day of a job I hated and the beginning of a happy Rachel.  It is honestly one of the happiest memories of my life. So, naturally I have a special fondness for the hotel and its luxurious accomadations (amazing robes, tons of pillows, soft sheets, thick curtains etc).  Just look at the pillows!

Is that not heaven

They weren’t ready for me right away so I went off to have some lunch.  At first I walked the wrong way and so I asked these businessmen if they knew of any good lunch places. “There’s Carl’s Jr” they responded.  Isn’t that rude?  For all they knew I was a visitor to their city.  I would never do that.  Anyway, nothing was going to get me down so I headed the other way and went to wells fargo to deposit a check and asked the teller if he knew a good place “The Robin’s Nest” he said.   It was just around the corner so I went and checked it out.

I figure in lunch places it is always a good sign when the line is long and the tables are full.  This was the case at Robin’s Nest.  Everything was delicious from the bread to the orzo side pasta.  I got the gobbler (turkey ‘thanksgiving’ style sandwich with cranberry relish, mayo, lettuce ect).  The half was huge and the lunch combo came with drink (fresh squeezed lemonade no extra), orzo pasta or chips and a dessert bite (I got the lemon square although everything looked fabulous).  I heard Bobby Flay say that ‘delicious’ was passe as a food adjective so I’m not sure what word to use.  It was scrumptious.  Perfect lunch.

Love a good sandwich

Once I checked into the hotel I read for a little bit on my fluffy pillows and then napped for about 30 minutes.  Feeling great I headed up to the pool/hot tub and had a great swim.  As a Masters Swimmer (I was going to say competitive but I don’t know if last in every race really counts as competitive) I naturally always wear training swimsuits.  So, it is nice to occasionally swim just for fun and wear a suit that feels a tiny bit more attractive.   Is that terrible to say?

Love this photo. Feeling pretty!

At the pool they had this sign that made me laugh.  Kind of a challenge to the whole weekend in a way!

Oh you better believe I’m swimming alone and dining alone, going to the movies alone, whatever. I’m having a spectacular time alone and breaking all the rules!!!

After a refreshing and relaxing swim/soak I came back and read some more and worked on my novel.  It’s just a silly thing I’ve toyed with over the years.  I am going to finish it for the national novel writing month in November.  If I don’t I have to do a polar bear swim! (Its a bet with my friend Abby).

Next up I went headed to dinner.  My friend Heidi had recommended The Copper Onion to me and as it is minutes from my hotel I thought it’d be a perfect fit.  Boy was she right.  I have never been to such a nice restaurant in my life.  Everything was beautifully presented and tasted sublimely good.  Best restaurant meal I’ve ever had.

I decided to try different things.  Be bold and daring because that’s the kind of day it was!  So here are the courses:

For appetizer crispy pork belly salad with pickled vegetables.  I’ve always wanted to try pork belly and it did not disappoint.  The salad was rich, decadent, salty, sweet, spicy (pickled jalapenos).  So good!

pork belly salad. Yum!

Then I got the duck which I’ve never had before.  I’ve always heard it was too fatty and I hate eating chicken fat.  Figured wouldn’t like duck fat any more than chicken.  But this was perfectly cooked.  The fat was completely rendered out with a crispy skin, cooked medium rare.  Then underneath the duck breast was duck confit (holy cow yum!) and a baby portabello mushroom that was the best mushroom I’ve ever had.  All accompanied with a butternut squash puree that was like butter and a mixed green salad with roasted peppitas.  (Salivating yet? Wait until you see the photo).

Most amazing entree I’ve had at a restaurant. Can’t wait to go back and try more things.

Then for dessert I had a chocolate pudding that was divine.  It was rich with a crunchy topping and whipped cream.  It had sea salt or something sprinkled in to counter the sweetness.

chocolate pudding. This costs $4. Isn’t that insane?

I cleaned my plate in every course but the great thing is I didn’t feel stuffed or even overly-full.  I felt perfectly satisfied.  The food was not overflowing like at chains but it was all delicious and memorable, which I’d take any day over quantity.  I got all of that delicious food plus a drink for $40.  Doesn’t that seem like a pretty good deal?  You’d pay triple that in New York or San Fran.

The thing I appreciated the most about the restaurant was how accommodating they were to me as a single diner.  I’ve tried to eat at nicer places by myself and felt literally singled out and that I was an inconvenience for a busy waiter wanting more tips.  This is why I usually get take out not because I’m afraid of being alone at a meal but because it isn’t a pleasant experience as a rule.

Tonight was totally different.  First of all The Copper Onion has a bar (a suggestion I often give single diners as it easy to find someone to talk with and does not feel so isolating as a big empty table) with a separate bar menu but they also have what they call the counter.  This is like a separate bar area that faces the chefs.  It was so much fun seeing everything get made and smelling all the dishes!  My waitress was wonderful. Kind, accommodating and extremely knowledgeable about the entire menu (she was partly responsible for my bold orders!).   See the smile on my face!

Happy Rachel (I also wore eye make up for the first time since the surgery. Hurray!)

The meal was sublime and when I finished it was 6:50 and as I walked past The Broadway theater next door to the restaurant I noticed that Perks of Being a Wallflower was playing at 7.  Perfect timing!  The Broadway is one of the only independent theaters in Utah and while many of their choices seem a bit dreary for my tastes this was a film I’d been wanting to see.

It is definitely not for everyone but I loved it.  Its funny, sad, different and the dialogue is perfect.  I think it is one of the few movies I’ve seen that gets the feel a high school experience right.  Most movies about teenagers feel like the show Glee that is mostly starring 30 year old actors in high school.  This was much more authentic.  I don’t know if I totally bought some of the darker elements but still very emotionally satisfying to see something original and different.   I felt inspired!

Here’s the thing that made today special.  I have obviously lived alone for many years of my adult life.  I’ve gone to movies alone, eaten alone, even went on a cruise alone, but I don’t’ know if I have ever spent a day with basically no companionship and had such a spectacular time.  It is really gratifying to know that I can be that happy all by myself.  I think I have to remember that when I’m feeling lost and out of control.  I have the power to feel happy all by myself even without all the luxurious trappings to prop me up.

I feel proud of myself.  I did something that  nobody else I know to my knowledge has done.  I spent the whole day by myself and had a spectacular time. Granted most everyone I know doesn’t even have that option but still its nice to know I can do it.

Even more than that, its nice to know I can relax like a real human being.  Feels like forever since I’ve relaxed. Since Hawaii for sure.  And how great to have achieved my Hawaii zen right in my own hometown for pennies on the dollar of what I’d spend on any trip, anywhere.  What a freeing concept!  I look forward to many more adventures!  It’d be great if some of my friends joined me but also great to do it alone.  How freeing is that?

Most importantly I feel like I can conquer the world again.  I wish I didn’t get the anxiety and I am getting better at dealing with it but I’m grateful in a way for it because it forced me to take action and create happiness for myself.   I learned that making a decision is a freeing experience and then planning for joy is the only way to really get it.  Rarely is it presented to you for free.

I’m grateful to God for giving me this day.  In the world of billions of souls going about there day He proved once again this week to me that HE KNOWS ME and HE WORKS MIRACLES!   I can’t wait to hear Him speak through His prophets tomorrow.  I will have notebook in hand and am confident I will receive instruction and inspiration.   I am so blessed. I am so grateful. I am so inspired. I am so HAPPY!