The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2011)

In college, I taught a colloquium course to incoming freshmen to let them know about the resources and opportunities available to them on- and off-campus. We also encouraged freshmen to read a book that was selected every year to be the freshman book of the year, where we often invited the author and other people affiliated with the book to campus in a series of events.

One of the years that I taught this colloquium, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was our book. I was really keen on reading it, as a pre-med student who had just started developing an interest in social issues. (I was becoming, as the kids may say, woke.)Alas, while I worked hard to secure copies of the book for all of my students, and encouraged them to see author Rebecca Skloot and relatives of Henrietta Lacks when they were on campus, I never managed to read the book myself. (I gave my copy to a student.) So, I was really glad to have the opportunity to read a book that everyone loved that year and in the years that followed…

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Me Before You (2016)

The only Nicholas Sparks movie I’ve seen in its entirety is A Walk to Remember because of course. I have never been particularly interested in romantic dramas, though. The romances were often unbelievable, as in, I didn’t… believe that the characters loved each other. Even more frequently, there was just too much emphasis on physical attraction and sexual tension, which isn’t what I’m interested in seeing. (See all of my raging at the MCU movies.) While this movie isn’t a Nicholas Sparks story, I was under the impression that it was the same basic gist. I expected some whirlwind love story, tragedy, crying, romance.

The promotions for Me Before You, the film adaptation of Jojo Moyes’s 2012 bestseller, have been in full force for a few months now. And the comments on the trailers and other promotional materials were all along the lines of:

I cried watching this trailer!

The book made me weep openly on the train.

Ohgod I’m going to be a mess during this movie.

Etc. Etc. Etc. I saw these trailers, and I got it: this was going to be a sweet and ultimately devastating movie.

So, when Annie asked me to come with her to an early screening of this movie, and I agreed because I like Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke, it came as no surprise at all that there was one of these on every seat in the theater:

"Time to take care of you. Go ahead and let it all out." Thanks Kleenex.
“Time to take care of you. Go ahead and let it all out.” Thanks Kleenex.

First, it needs to be said that Me Before You is so great for any of my fandom friends. They had franchise stars all over the place. In addition to Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair, Hunger Games) and Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen, Game of Thrones), we also had Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald, Doctor Who), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom, Harry Potter), and Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister, Game of Thrones) to name the big franchise stars who were in this movie.

Daenerys takes care of wheelchair-bound Finnick, which worries her sister Clara and makes her boyfriend Neville jealous, while his father Tywin worries.
Daenerys takes care of wheelchair-bound Finnick, which worries her sister Clara and makes her boyfriend Neville jealous, while his father Tywin worries.

Right, let’s talk about the movie, shall we?

In case you were wondering if the emotional devastation was hyped up for this movie, just know that I heard people using these tissues throughout the theater during the movie, and that when the lights came up, many people had tears streaming down their faces.

People legit looked like this, my friends.

Did I cry?
Of course, I cry at most movies I see.  I cry at commercials and at cute babies on the train. (Side note: I saw the most precious baby on the metro on Tuesday and I haven’t stopped thinking about her and maybe I am tearing up thinking about her now.) BUT, that being said, I didn’t feel that emotionally invested in this movie. I didn’t quite buy it. The sad moments were pretty cheap shots. Just as you can have cheap shots and gratuitous violence, there was really gratuitous and cheap tearjerking in this movie.

Also, I found the movie pretty funny! The light and humorous moments were really endearing and funny. I wasn’t really expecting that, so it was nice to laugh at the ridiculousness of the characters and their circumstances. Some of the scenes were wasted (for example, the doctor seemed like kind of a wasted character), but in general, I felt like the actors really carried the scenes well and brought emotions to the movie with ease.

Look at these cutie pies.

But my big issue was that I didn’t quite buy it. Emilia Clarke’s character, Lou, is SO cute. (So so adorable! My mom’s favorite rom-com trope: the 傻大姐!) And I understand why Sam Claflin’s Will falls in love with her as she puts herself out there to try to help him enjoy his life again. (Again, she’s SO endearingly adorable.) But I didn’t quite see how Lou fell in love with Will. Is it only because he seems to be more of a romantic than her boyfriend of seven years, Patrick? Yes, he’s not a particularly good boyfriend, but suddenly she’s in love with a man she is paid to look after? They go on a vacation together and suddenly she’s wearing just a big white button-down shirt and that’s it? (If that was supposed to be a shirt dress or if it had shorts under it, I couldn’t tell so it was a Risky Business-style shirt as far as I could see.) Will asks her not to leave him alone in his room and she takes that as an invitation to snuggle up with him in bed??? What??? Emilia and Sam have a lovely chemistry as friends, but I didn’t really buy it as lovers, and I think it did have a lot to do with how adorable Lou is as a character. When Will expresses how frustrated he is that he isn’t able to act on his sexual desire for Lou… I don’t really believe it? Sorry.

But dang they both are such beautiful people.

And you know, the ending is sad and I don’t know what the takeaway is supposed to be. And it has caused quite a hubbub with the disabled community, so you know, I’m not going to say much more about it. If you haven’t read the book, I don’t want to be the person to spoil the ending of this movie for you.

But maybe bring tissues if you’re nervous.

(Random other note: I don’t like the use of Ed Sheeran music in this movie? It was okay (ish) in the trailer, but it felt so weird in the movie, I don’t know why.)

Me Before You is in theaters June 3.

Hot Air Balloons, Lieutenant Dan, and Chaplin’s

This was one of my more eventful weekends that have come to pass, so I thought I’d take some time to share these memories so that I can look back and remember them fondly.

Turf Valley Hot Air Balloon Festival (Friday)

I nearly didn’t go, and honestly, I don’t think I would’ve missed out on much if I opted not to go. I had been excited about the festival because I’ve only ever seen one hot air balloon at a time at fairs and the like, and friends’ photos from the Thursday night festivities. Thursday night photos got me very excited because the sun finally came out on Thursday (that rainy weather streak just hasn’t let up much…) so the bright balloons against the blue sky and white clouds, or in the golden hour glow, were really beautiful…

Look at how perfect this day looks? Photo by Laurie, aka @dccitygirl

Well, my outing to Turf Valley wasn’t quite as successful. It took me an hour and a half to drive over, whereas it usually takes me about an hour to drive to that area. I was planning on parking at my friend’s house, as he lives about a mile away from Turf Valley Resort, but there was so much traffic in this residential neighborhood that I had to just park my car where I was and walk two miles, adding another half an hour to the amount of time I had invested in this outing…Read More »

Pie & Architecture| Spring Break 2016

Last time on Spring Break 2016, we drove away from Las Vegas after indulging in gluttony and finally headed to Los Angeles for my first-ever visit to the City of Angels. We settled into our AirBnB studio in the scary-by-night Arts District and tried to catch up on rest knowing that we wouldn’t get many opportunities for rest over the rest of our trip.

This was also one of the few days that Megan and Don were rid of us. Maybe next time they’ll think twice before inviting us to the bachelor/ette parties right before the wedding AND to dine with them during their honeymoon at Disneyland right after the wedding. It was a lot of face time with us, possibly more than the cumulative time we’ve spent together during the rest of our friendship…

It rained all day on our first day in LA. This was pretty disappointing as I shook a fist at Adam Levine for teasing me with hot southern California days. From what I understand from my friends who live in the area, LA doesn’t handle rain very well. The wifi at our AirBnB studio wasn’t working, and when I contacted our really lovely host, she found out that all of downtown LA’s wifi had been knocked out by the rain. Welp, sorry data plan, I needed a lot of directions.

That also explained why I couldn’t check in on Belly at Pie Hole (review) the nearby pie shop that I was dying to visit as soon as I saw that it was near our studio. We gobbled down a little Shepherd’s Pie and a slice of Earl Grey pie, washed it down with a horchata latte, and braced ourselves for a taste of LA’s infamous freeway traffic as we prepared to head to…

The Getty Center

Ben and I weren’t really sure about what the must-see attractions in LA were, but The Getty Center came up time and time again, so we decided to visit on our first day. It took us 40 minutes to get off an exit ramp that was 1.5 miles away from our destination, but that’s fine, it wasn’t as bad as I thought the traffic would be getting there.


(I also may have had my only celebrity sighting trying to get off this exit ramp, as I maaaaaaay have seen Benny Fine driving past us? But, honestly, it could’ve just been a guy with dark curly hair and glasses…)

The Getty Center is one of the two buildings that comprise the J. Paul Getty Museum and it houses 19th- and 20th-century works of art across several multi-level buildings.

You take a tram up to the museum so that you don’t have to drive up to the ridge, so that there isn’t an ugly parking structure, and for fun!
Despite the rain, the drought wasn’t really helped

DSC00320One of the most famous pieces at the Getty Center is Van Gogh’s Irises, which became the 10th most expensive painting in the world (account for inflation) when it was acquired by the Getty Center.

My big head blocking your view of Irises
My big head blocking your view of Irises

I had a lot of fun getting in the museum mood with Ben and hiding from the rain that just would not let up…Read More »

Mid-May Currently

It’s been a little while since I’ve just taken a minute to talk to you about what I am doing and how things are going, so I thought I’d take this moment right here to do just that.

Appreciating some unadulterated sunshine after experiencing the longest rainy streak that DC has ever seen. (Even though it’s back to rain today… sigh…) Thankfully, while we had rainfall every day for over 2 weeks straight, we did have sun last weekend and the sun was out this weekend. Usually, the weather gives us nice weather during the work week and rain on the weekends, so it was nice to have the sky grant us some sun when it wasn’t pouring. (Yeah, it still rained…)

Feeling proud that I have any spring break posts up at all, to be honest, but all my Vegas posts are now available (all three days!) and the LA posts will follow.

Enjoying my cleaner place, since it has been a long time since I addressed little piles of messes that I have accumulated everywhere.

Tickled that Christine met my friends Tim, Priscilla, and Annie during Yelp’s Spring Break in San Diego! (My dad was also in San Diego, if any of you were able to find him!)

This photo was the happy ending that resulted from much awkwardness and me being a creeper from 3000 miles away.

Settling into a regular routine at work, finally, and really appreciating the wonderful and funny people on my team.

Trying really fairly hard to eat healthier and do the 7-Minute Workout daily as I have regained all of my pre-food poisoning weight and then some.

Grooving to the soundtrack of Hamilton, always, and trying to get Ben as amped about it as I am. (Also, still so jealous that Gretchen got tickets!!)

If you haven’t seen this Ham4Ham, it’s pretty fantastic!

Eating chia pudding every [work]day in celebration of my finally restocking my chia seeds.

Tentatively happy about the sibling reunions on this week’s episode of Game of Thrones. Hugs all around! These episodes needed more hugs and I am glad we got some.

Questioning the numbers and letters that we use to determine our clothing size, what they actually mean (hint: nothing), and why we get so attached to certain ones.

Anyhow, that’s kind of what I’ve been up to lately. What about you?