Mercy Street: Virginia is for (Film) Lovers

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Have you heard about the contender for “Downton Abbey” status that premiered on PBS this past weekend? It’s called “Mercy Street,” and not only is it a well crafted and high production value TV series, but it was also filmed in my home state of Virginia! Even more special to my heart though, one of my best friends, Alanna, was a production assistant on the show! I got to watch the television premiere with her and friends on Sunday night, and as we popped bottles of champagne to have a toast at 10 PM during the opening credits, I was overcome with a love for my home state and the creativity that can be accomplished here.

For a long time, I felt like as a filmmaker, if I wanted to be successful, I’d have to go to L.A. or New York City. I felt like quality work wasn’t getting made and workers in the industry couldn’t find jobs unless they were connected to those entertainment hubs. But at the same time, I felt like, surely there’s more to the filmmaking and media world than just New York and Los Angeles, right? Well, Mercy Street gives me hope for that.

I watched as Alanna made the big move to L.A. at the beginning of 2014, but within 6 months she was moving home because she just didn’t feel “right” out there. She didn’t find the opportunities or the community of creatives she’d been hoping for. But when she came back to Virginia she moved to Richmond and started an internship with the Virginia Film Office that lead her to several production assistant jobs through 2015 including Mercy Street and a feature film. These were productions filming right here in Virginia! Josh Radnor (of “How I Met Your Mother” fame) was filming in my state! How cool is that?

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As we watched the premiere together, different people in a our little party would exclaim, “Oh! That’s my boss!” Or, “Ah! I’ve seen that building before!” And it filled me with wonder! Not the star struck Hollywood kind of “awe” that’s usually stereotyped for small town girls like myself. No, it was pride in my friend and my state and what’s been accomplished here over the last year in the film industry.

“Mercy Street” is a promising show from what I’ve seen. It’s set in a Virginia hotel taken over by the Union army as a hospital during the Civil War. You have Nurse Mary, a Northern pseudo-nurse who may have bitten off more than she can chew when she signed up to be an army nurse as her previous experience only included caring for her sick Baron husband. She’s also extremely pro-union and disdainful at the idea of having to nurse Confederate boys in the hospital because she considers them the “enemy.” Then there’s Josh Radnor’s Dr. Foster who’s passionate about the art and science of medicine no matter what side of the war you’re on, but holds some definitive racial prejudices and an almost religious upholding of the new invention—the syringe. There’s also a spoiled but compassionate Southern belle considering nursing, and a surgeon-level trained black man who has to hide his skill.

Some of the lines were a bit stilted and conflated at times, but the characters and overall direness of the situation have me intrigued to watch more. It seems almost impossible that this is a production that filmed in Virginia and hired Virginia extras and crew. Essentially, if I didn’t know beforehand what went into it, I never would have guessed!

So here’s to Virginia! For making a great step into the film world and hopefully inspiring others to bring their productions to Virginia and spur work for actors and film crew. It’s nice to make a statement that Virginia is for Film Lovers just as much as L.A. or New York is. Now let’s keep that statement true!

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The Weirdness of Women’s Clothing

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Women’s clothes are weird. If you’re a woman, you probably already know this. If you’re man…well apparently you have an interest in women’s clothes and who am I to judge? Essentially I’m pretty fed up with women’s clothes. Sometimes I fantasize about burning my bra and running naked through the fields with my only covering being my hair braided with flowers. Then I remember I’m not a nymph or living in a fantasy world. It’s not really even in the realm of possibility.

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No, I live in the real world. And I have to wear clothes. And I live and work in a pretty traditional setting so I have to wear women’s clothes. I also own quite a lot of women’s clothes. Which brings me to our topic today. Women’s clothes suck. Like yeah, there’s the whole issue of women having a much more complicated world of clothing: dresses versus pants, heels versus flats, do you add a scarf or accessories. But what’s really bothersome about women’s clothes is the way they are made.

Let’s talk about sizing. None of it makes sense. There’s junior’s sizing and women’s sizing. And now there’s junior’s plus sizing and women’s plus sizing. Plus don’t forget about petite sizing! And even tall sizing. So that’s essentially 6 different systems of measurement for women’s clothes. That also corresponds to how pieces in each of those categories are made. If that’s not confusing enough add in the fact that pretty much every brand decides how their sizing system is going to run and it very rarely matches anyone else’s’.

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I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t know if I’m weirdly shaped or if it’s just the clothing. For example, I’ll tell you about my own sizing. I typically wear junior’s clothing because that’s what I feel most comfortable in and they tend to have the bright colors that I enjoy at a reasonable price. I’ve been wearing a size 7 in junior’s pants since high school and that still holds true. On most charts a size 7 translates to a medium. But very rarely do I wear anything that’s not a large or extra large in junior’s tops because:

  1. They’re usually too short.
  2. They rarely fit my broad shoulders without making me feel like the Hulk.
  3. They’re usually don’t have long enough sleeves.

So then I recently started buying junior’s 1X’s in certain tops like sweatshirts (because I like them long and baggy) and t-shirts (because I don’t like midriff bearing or super-tight tops). And then one of three things happens:

  1. It fits like what I think a normal top should where my shoulders aren’t squished and it comes past my belly button.
  2. It bags out in the armholes if it’s sleeveless and makes me look kind of homeless.
  3. Somehow it’s longer but still just as narrow in the shoulders and chest area and I feel like a freak. The plus size models they show wearing the 1X’s are much more well endowed than I am! What’s wrong with me?

So then I look at women’s clothes. Tops usually fit better there, but most of the time I still find that I need a large or extra large to feel comfortable. And dresses in women’s…oh gosh! Who even knows? I wear mediums in this one brand I like Apt. 9 that I’ve found at Kohl’s, but I have to wear a 12 (!) in almost anything Lauren Conrad (also at Kohl’s). Interestingly enough in Lauren Conrad skirts, I’ve bought anything from a 12 (which is like a large or extra large depending on what chart you’re looking at) to a medium. And a small in ELLE skirts but a 10 in ELLE blazers. Don’t even ask me what size pants I wear in women’s sizes. I own 4’s, 6’s, and 8’s and they all have the same kind of fit. Do you see!? It’s like Alice in Wonderland of clothing! Nothing makes sense! It’s all topsy-turvy and upside wrong and right side down!

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If a man goes to buy pants and he has a 33 inch waist and a 32 inch inseam, he buys a pair of 33×32 pants. Simple. I mean he has to choose between straight leg or bootcut or pleats or not but that’s essentially it. Women have to think about how much spandex versus cotton content their pants have before choosing a size! Is it low-rise or high-cut?

Now I understand why the standard for women’s sizes is on a shifting scale. I know it’s all about perception and weight and the fashion and model industries. I know that most of our clothes are not made in America and tend to be outsourced to factories where not only are the pay and working conditions horrendous but the quality standards for production just aren’t up to par. (e.g. One time I ordered an extra large dress shift dress from a brand I knew I wore a large in but I wanted to be extra sure it would actually be a “shift” and not an accidental bodycon dress, but I ended up with an obviously mislabeled dress that wouldn’t even fit over my shoulders.) But why can’t there at least be some kind of normalcy involved? Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to feel like a toddler trying on my doll’s clothing every time I went to the mall?

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And I know I’m not alone in this problem. Every dressing room I’ve ever been to in a store has a rack slam full of “not working” clothes outside. I’ve heard the sighs and groans and huffs of frustration when you find something you really like, bring three different sizes but still none of them work. One’s too big. One’s too small. One’s too awkward. Why!? It is an injustice!

Well…maybe not an injustice. But it does feel pretty unfair when the world is already always telling us that we’re not good enough, we’re not pretty enough, and we’re not thin enough. It’s just one more negative tick in our self-esteem depletion box. So how do we stop it? I’m not sure we can really change the fashion industry with force or over one generation, but we can stop the negative thinking. And realize that the weirdness we feel in the dressing room or in front of the mirror at home, is not our own body’s weirdness but the weirdness of women’s clothing. The clothing and the manufacturers and the designers have the problem. They’re not being made for real women who come in all shapes and sizes. We just have to find what is made in our shape and size and forget about the other stuff. Perhaps take up sewing and learn how to tailor our favorite pieces to our own unique size. But never, even let the clothing make us think that we’re the weird ones.

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Hello 2016! What Do You Have in Store?

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Another year is here! Are you excited? Are you scared? I’m a little bit of both! Since my blog has turned into a place of goal inspiration and encouragement, it makes sense that I would do a little recap of my 2015 goals and what I hope to accomplish in 2016. Something to keep me accountable, you know!

In 2015, I kept track of the books I read and movies that I watched. If you’re looking for something new to read/watch, I’d recommend most anything in these lists. I read 52 books (2 over my Goodreads goal) and 88 movies. (SO MANY MOVIES!)

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Hello 2016 pt 2

I found two new series that I devoured this year. One by Charlie N. Holmberg called The Paper Magician Trilogy, which follows a young magician as she trains in her assigned magic trade of paper. This is an interesting world of magic in London, England where magic is confined to certain man-made elements (Fire, Glass, Rubber, Paper, etc.) and magicians are meant to only specialize in one type of magic through a bond. There’s quite a lot of my mystery, romance, and questioning of the laws of magic!

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The second is the Streetlights Like Fireworks Series by David Pandolfe, which follows two teen psychics as they go on a cross-country road trip following their intuition and a few ghost-sightings to solve mysteries in an old Volkswagen bus. Now that I write that summary out, it sounds a little like Scooby-Doo but WAY better! This series holds a special place in my heart because the main character is from Richmond, VA (as well as the author), and there’s a lot of questioning how places make you feel and what and who feels like home. The majority of the series takes place outside of Virginia (especially since the characters actually relocate to the West Coast between the first and second installments), but there’s always this tug of “being from” a certain place. It resonates with me so much because of my own upbringing (and current confinement) in Virginia.

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The one book I would say you shouldn’t read is “Phantom Bigfoot Strikes Again” by Simon Okill. Unless you’re a 13-year-old boy obsessed with bodily functions, you probably won’t enjoy it. If you have any more doubts, watch my YouTube video on how it’s the worst book I’ve ever read here:

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As for movies, I’ll say that this was the year that I saw a lot of old movies that I’d somehow missed while growing up. Home Alone, Meet the Robinsons, Kindergarten Cop, and Jurassic Park to name a few. It was a good year for movies! I watched so many, but almost every one involved a great experience with friends, family, boyfriend, or just a night in of “ME TIME” so I think each one was well worth the time!

This was also a good year for friendships where I felt like I made extra effort to connect with new and old friends. It was a year of nostalgia as I did a lot of things for the first time in a few years like spending more than a few hours at my college homecoming, taking a beach trip, and going to Grand Illumination in Williamsburg, VA. These experiences filled me up with bubbly goodness and started new traditions that I want to continue in the future!

I also tried a few new things on my YouTube channel. I made 31 videos in 31 days for VEDA (or Vlog Every Day in August)! The IMAGINE-Nation really loved being able to ask me questions and get a nearly immediate answer and being able to see a more vulnerable, authentic version of myself as I struggled to make daily videos at times because I wasn’t always in the “mood” for video making.

So what’s in store for 2016, you might ask? If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past 2 years of making resolutions and seeing myself succeed and fail at accomplishing them, it’s that you never know until it’s over! But I still want to start out the year with some goals in mind.

  1. Keep track of my books and movies again!
  2. Keep track of the places I’ve been (I did this in 2014 but not in 2015 and I’d really like to try it again)
  3. Start Color Me Stress Free on my YouTube channel! If you’re an avid blog reader then you’ve already heard about it here and here.
  4. Complete the Yoga With Adrienne Yoga Camp 30 Day Challenge (you should jump on the bandwagon too!) I’d also like to keep regular physical activity on my radar rather than the start-and-stop that I usually do because of time constraints and weather.)
  5. Finally move out. This is a serious one. I’ve been saying I’m going to make a career change and move out from my parents for almost 2 years now, and it’s been a giant failure so far. But this year is GOING to be the year that it works out for me. I’ve been putting in the time and learning from my mistakes so surely at 25, I’ll be able to live on my own!
  6. Make more art! I’d really like to do a weekly or at least monthly feature of some kind of art piece on this blog. Part of me wants to use it as a chance to illustrate whatever my blog topic is for the week, but I also kind of like the idea of just doing some kind of art and talking about my process behind it’s creation. Maybe it’s a doodle. Maybe it’s a giant sculpture! Who knows! I want to let my creativity and imagination flow a little freer in 2016.

So what do you think? How did your goals stack up in 2015? How are you feeling about goals for 2016? If you still need help on figuring out reasonable goals for this year, I made a great guide for you on my YouTube channel where you can learn to create the RIGHT New Year’s Resolution.

I hope that you’re 2016 is bright and beautiful and fulfills your hopes and dreams for the year! I know we’ll all be working hard to accomplish our goals!