Hog Island + After Dark | SF 2017

Last time on SF 2017, I spent a lovely day exploring the California Academy of Sciences at my own leisurely pace after an evening and morning of being very hangry. With a day of museum-ing behind me, the hanger was beginning to settle in yet again…


Before I set out for San Francisco, I asked for recommendations for food, knowing that I would be overwhelmed by options in one of the great food cities in this country. While my friends kept their recommendations for me unique, the only place multiple people urged me to visit was Hog Island Oyster Company over in the Ferry Building. In fact, about 5 people recommended that, despite that lines, despite the hype, despite how it had become a tourist trap, I must visit Hog Island and eat oysters.

Yes, there were lines, but I have to give a shout-out to the hostess who seated me at the bar and kept a seat next to me open so that my boyfriend could join me (over an hour later!). She is the real MVP. (So is Ben, who put up with me [h]angrily miscommunicating with him over the phone about when he would show up. Thank you for being so patient with me!)

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Yes, $14 for a bowl of clam chowder is a little nuts, but it was the best clam chowder I’ve ever tasted. I ordered this when I sat down and tried so so hard to leave some for Ben to try when he was able to join me after his work obligations let him go. The little itty bitty bit of soup I left for him was long-cold but still really tasty.

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The oysters were good. I don’t think I was actually as wow-ed by them as I was by the chowder, but they were really good and definitely hit the spot as I had been craving them for some time. I can never keep track of what each type is when the server describes them to me, but I slurped down every single one happily.

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From the Ferry Building, Ben and I wandered along a few of the nearby piers and stopped at Pier 9 for a little impromptu photoshoot. Comment below with your guess for how many takes it took for me to get my Gene Kelly moment, because it was a LOT. (The lamppost had no place for me to put my foot, so I was engaging my whole body just trying to stay up there…)

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We parted ways so that I could meet up with one of my friends from high school, David, who I haven’t actually seen since he showed up at my high school graduation. “Catching up” was funny because when he asked “Wow, how long has it been, what do we need to catch up on?” I said, “Well… everything.” While we hung out plenty in high school, it was always in a group setting and never in a particularly personal one. This was the first time we got to talk one-on-one and the first time we were talking about our own lives rather than something [high] school-related. It was really nice and if I wasn’t already happy that David reached out to me out of the blue, I ended the evening feeling so grateful to have him as a friend because he’s really fantastic. In fact, I was a little sad that I was learning this so late and knowing that we wouldn’t hang out for a long time. (Hopefully not as long as the gap between now and high school.)

Fun fact: David makes these awesome build videos where he DIYs really cool stuff. Highly recommend checking them out!

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David and I hung out at the Exploratorium: After Dark, which is another weekly, Thursday evening adults-only museum event. I don’t have many photos because I spent most of the time taking video (which I will hopefully be able to show you all sometime soon?) but it really is so much fun as an adult to visit a museum without a lot of children running around. Especially for a place like the Exploratorium, which is made up of mostly interactive exhibits, it’s nice to not feel like you are taking away from some kid’s fun day in order to play with the toys available. The science at the Exploratorium is actually really interesting and very solid. Christine‘s Yelp review of this place was right: it’s a really good date spot, so I realized afterwards that it was funny to be here with a guy friend who I was getting to know on a personal level for the first time. (It felt a little bit like a first date, especially with the walk around the Embarcadero after!) But the Exploratorium was really awesome, and I can’t wait to share the footage I got during my time there.

Exploratorium: After Dark
Every Thursday, 6-10pm
$15 general admission; $10 additional for tactile dome admission
Pier 15 (Embarcadero Green Street)
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 528-4444
https://www.exploratorium.edu/visit/calendar/after-dark

Must be 18+ to enter

When After Dark ended, David and I walked to the bar where Ben and his co-workers were sampling whiskeys before calling it a night. I went to bed grateful for the delicious seafood in my belly, for the fun hands-on science I got to play with, and for reconnecting with a really amazing old friend.


Do you like adults-only days/hours at the museum? I know that the Exploratorium and the California Academy of Sciences both have one every Thursday in San Francisco, but I’d like to learn about similar events at other museums in other cities!

Where is the best seafood you’ve had? I attempted to go vegetarian when I was in middle school, but if I were to try again I could not give up seafood for sure. Tell me where you love to eat seafood! Especially where I can compare clam chowder and oysters. (My favorite are $1 oysters!)

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California Academy of Sciences | SF 2017

After working very hard, Ben had the opportunity to present a talk at a tech conference in San Francisco last month. We were all so proud of him for reaching this great career milestone, but I got even more excited when he extended the invite to stay in his company-expensed hotel room with him! I had a lot of fun the last time I visited and didn’t want it to be another dozen years before I got to return, and there were things I had been mentally adding to a to-do list since leaving San Francisco in September, so I was all too happy to take a few days to unwind and enjoy the city by the bay.


Wednesday evening, I flew out west, my first time flying with Virgin/Alaskan, ready to feel the effects of the time change during my stay but determined to be chill and relaxed in an attempt to get over my burnout. (Spoiler alert: I remain not great at chill and relaxed.)

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I landed later than expected land got to the hotel… completely starving out of my mind? I was really hangry because I had a large, late lunch and had zero interest in eating before my flight, despite the fact that my flight departed at 6pm. (You ever try working up an appetite looking at a Chipotle while a giant burger sits in your belly?) So, unfortunately for Ben, I landed really cranky from hunger, and by the time I got to the hotel, I had no interest in doing anything but curling up to hangrily sleep. (Fun fact: We were back at the SF Marriott Marquis, the same hotel we stayed in over Labor Day weekend! It was nice to be back among familiar surroundings.)

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Thursday morning rolled around, and Ben, in a noble attempt to placate my by-now really unreasonable hunger and crankiness, took me to the hotel breakfast buffet so that I could fill up on as much food as I could muster. I felt a lot better after stuffing my face for a while, and Ben was able to fully relax knowing that his talk was done and his girlfriend was not glowering while struggling to stay upright.

Since Ben still had work obligations, we planned to not really see each other until the weekend, so I had planned full days for myself to enjoy solo during the weekdays in SF. He went off to work and I took myself to the California Academy of Sciences.

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The California Academy of Sciences is a pretty spectacular institution. You can visit a planetarium, aquarium, and natural history museum all under one roof!

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I spent some time walking around and getting my bearings before being drawn into the Osher Rainforest, a 90-foot-high rainforest housed in a stunning glass dome. From there, you can experience three levels of rainforest life while butterflies fluttery by around you.

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As of about a week before I visited, they just installed a little cocoon box so you could see moths and butterflies emerging from their chrysalises. It was literally a brand-new addition to the rainforest exhibit here, so it was exciting to see! Also, I really love butterflies and how at peace I feel with them fluttering around. When I was growing up, one of my favorite place to visit was the Bronx Zoo, which I called the “Butterfly Zoo” because I only have memories of being in the butterfly house there and spending all of my zoo time in there.

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A blurry shot of a bird we saw eating a butterfly. It was a messy eater and bits of butterfly wing almost landed in my hair…

After you get to the top of the dome, you take an elevator down, down, to see the flooded rainforest and the flora + fauna that live there. This is also where you can get a closer look at Claude, the famous albino alligator.

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From there, you can proceed further to the aquarium portion of this museum. I have loved loved loved aquariums since I first watched The Little Mermaid and the one at the California Academy of Sciences is no exception! There’s just something really magical about being eye-level with the wonders of the water, lit by blue and violet lights that just make everything seem calm and peaceful, if only for a moment.

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When I finally emerged from under the sea, there was still so much more of the museum to explore! I appreciated that there was a whole section dedicated to earthquakes and San Francisco + California earthquake history in particular. There is an earthquake simulator that you can stand in to experience magnitudes of the two big earthquakes to hit the city in 1906 and 1989.

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I liked that this emergency kit included Chinese canned goods!
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I loved these notes because you really can’t trust the public to submit notes like this. Especially when the bulk of your visitors are field trip students.
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We had an illuminati squad here…
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“I play Pokemon Go every day”

The Tusher African Hall is one of the first things you’ll see upon entering, and it’s a quieter area where you can learn about African wildlife and the history of human evolution. At the end of the hall is a penguin tank, where you can watch an African penguin colony in a man-made habitat that was built to closely resemble their natural habitat off the coast of South Africa. I was able to catch the 3pm feeding session which I’d recommend if you want to see the penguins in action and ask questions.

As I went up through the museum, I visited the gems and minerals exhibit (where I learned a lot about the different ways that minerals manifest in our world), the naturalist center (which is a really awesome hands-on activity center that I highly highly recommend bringing kids to for an interactive way to learn a lot about a lot of different things housed in the museum), and, at the very top, the living roof, which powers the entire Academy and more.

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If I was fueled a bit better, I could’ve spent more time here, especially if I had someone to share all these amazing exhibits with. Alas, my hangriness started to kick in and even I had had my fill of exploring this awesome museum by myself, so it was time to head out and fill my belly once again. On Thursday evenings, the Academy actually hosts Nightlife, a weekly adult program for grown-ups to drink and explore the museum without kids running about and with a different theme each week. However, I had made plans to do a similar activity on the other side of town over at the Exploratorium, but I’ll tell you about that next time…

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Fun fact: These seahorses were a part of the original Academy building

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Admission: $34.95 for non-member adults, different pricing options for seniors, students, youths, and children. Tickets for the planetariums sold separately.

California Academy of Science
Golden Gate Park
55 Music Concourse Drive
San Francisco, CA, 94118
(415) 379-8000
http://www.calacademy.org


Do you like visiting museums when you visit other cities? I used to think it wasn’t a great use of my time, but especially for this trip, I really relished the opportunity to walk at my own pace, read every single placard like I love doing, and learn new things! My favorite thing to do is to sit and soak it all in. Museums are one of my favorite things about humanity, so to take in these monuments to history and achievement and science is really moving for me. In aquariums, especially, I like being able to sit in front of the largest tank in the joint and people-watch and fish-watch.

What are you favorite thing to see in science museums, natural history museums, and aquariums? I can’t really pick, but aquariums have a special place in my heart because I’ve loved the ocean since The Little Mermaid, and I do love watching jellyfish. I swear I can feel my blood pressure lower and my heart rate slow when I watch jellyfish pulsing through the water.

March Recap + Favorites

Can you believe today is the last day of March? I know the months seem to fly by faster and faster, but it really seems like the single-digit days were just yesterday and now it’s the 31st!

March is usually when things pick up in pace for me, as spring tries to spring and activities are on the uptick! So here’s a little recap of how my month went:

I started the month with a sleep study It was a bit strange, but I’ve been having a lot of sleep issues for the past few years and thought it was high time I asked my doctor about them. The sleep study was definitely interesting, so let me know if you’d like to hear more about that experience!

In general, I re-prioritized my health. I have been making my doctor’s appointments instead of putting them off, and even though I am missing time at work (that I make up by coming in early and staying late), it’s good to know that I’m getting care, especially because not everyone is currently insured and able to do so. I’ve seen several different doctors this month and will be seeing many more with the appointments I’ve made, and this is mostly to maintain good health and as follow-ups to past appointments. I do think it’s important for me to think of these visits as health maintenance, rather than think of visiting the doctor as something I only do when I think something is wrong. Prevention is key! I have also been exercising and I gave up fried foods for Lent, so it’s been a healthy month!

I visited San Francisco! I will be putting up recaps from my time there shortly (I swear!), but I made solo trips to museums during the day, caught up with friends for dinner, and was able to support my boyfriend after he gave his first big conference talk. I also got to see Christine (and meet her boyfriend!) while I was out there, my first time visiting her in SF since we became friends!

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Um, it snowed for the first time all winter in DC. We’ve had an unseasonably warm winter this year. Like actually warm many days, and no where near as brutally cold as it usually is. It’s been comfortable for us as humans but very worrying, especially given that the cherry blossoms seemed poised to peak weeks earlier than usual. Then it snowed and dipped below 30 for the first time in weeks and we were all very scared for the cherry blossoms. I only wish we got more snow, as the initial predictions for this Stella were much higher than anyone experienced. Oh well! It looks like that is all DC will be getting this winter and we’ll have to wait until the next one.

I met Danny Boyle at an early screening of T2 Trainspotting. He was such a sweet man, honestly, and I really have a renewed respect for him and his films after hearing his Q&A and being able to meet him. I haven’t seen all of his films yet, but you can bet that will change soon!

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I got to see the Instagram-famous cherry blossom + Super Mario pop-up bar! This was an awesome Instameet, so we were actually able to sample the cocktails free of charge an hour before the bar opened to the public. This bar is as cool as they say, and here’s my friend Andy‘s video to prove it!

Fun fact: I actually met Andy for the first time over 2 years ago and hadn’t seen him since until this Instameet! He’s an amazing photographer and vlogger and overall dude, definitely check him out on Instagram.

I was able to experience Yayoi Kusama’s Infinite Kusama exhibit and the Hirshhorn. The same week, I got to see another Instagram-famous DC happening and it was pretty spectacular. As stressful as it was to be rushed through the infinity rooms (20 seconds to try to take in… infinity?!), I really enjoyed this exhibit and really hope I can come back before the exhibit goes to the next city.

You know what, here’s another one of Andy’s videos because I just have not edited my videos or footage together yet!

Christine and Phil visited DC! The weekend after my SF trip was Christine’s birthday, and then the weekend after that, she and Phil actually came to my city and visited DC! It was so great to be reunited with Christine and to spend more time hanging out with Phil.

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Reunited and it feels so good!

I attended the second Women in Tech Summit DC in a row. Last year was the first year of the DC Women in Tech Summit and I was able to come back for another year, this time at the new(ish) Washington Post building! (The last time I was at WaPo, it was for a hackathon in the old building. The old building is now completely gone!) It was fun to see some great women in tech that I haven’t seen in a while and also to just be surrounded by so many awesome ladies and supportive men. It’s hard not to feel motivated and inspired after events like this.

I saw my first Wizards game! And they were playing the Nets, so it was my first time seeing Jeremy Lin (and his terrible hair), too! This was a work outing and it was a lot of fun, minus the part where I didn’t know where the free food + drinks were for a long time while watching the game alone (because everyone else was eating free food and drinking free drinks).

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The Wizards are currently the #3 team in the NBA Eastern Conference! The Nets are the lowest ranked team, so we beat them easily. Probably because of Jeremy Lin’s hair.

I watched the Hamburg Ballet’s production of The Little Mermaid at the Kennedy Center. The tickets were on sale so I had to snag one for myself, starting a pattern of me seeing ballets at the Kennedy Center solo. This one wasn’t quite my cup of tea (I wasn’t a fan of the choreography, as it was distracting…? and was so abstract that it was difficult to suss out the actual story) but I still really enjoyed seeing these incredible dancers. This production in particular had a lot of male dancers, and I was reminded at how stunningly athletic male ballet dancers are. (Two words: six-packs.) (Everywhere.) It’s fun to take myself to see a show every now and then, and the Kennedy Center remains one of my favorite venues to do so!

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I was also crazy close! Maybe too close, the dancers occasionally were out of my field of vision…

I am seeing results after working out for 2 months. I always heard that it takes 6-8 weeks to see any semblance of progress when it comes to exercise. About 2 months ago, I decided enough was enough, I need to stop struggling to lift things and open that heavy glass door to my office building. (Look, it’s really heavy and sometimes the wind catches it, which makes it harder to open and… I mean you get the picture, small arms, heavy door.) I got a ClassPass membership back in January, which I’ll be telling you guys all about really soon here on the blog, and have also been doing some very casual/haphazard strength-training and running at my office gym so that I can eventually accomplish those resolutions I set at the beginning of the year. This past week, after a day where I somehow squeezed 2 intense workouts into one day, I got home and could see tiny signs of progress! It was really exciting to not only look stronger but to feel a little bit stronger, too. (That being said, I still huff and puff up the stairs and I struggled with a heavy glass door this week, so I have a lot more progress still to make!)


To wrap things up, I wanted to share some things I’ve been loving this past month:

Jidenna’s album, The Chief: I have been waiting for Jidenna’s debut album for a long time, ever since I saw him open for Stromae. That was almost 2 years ago and I’m really enjoying the album. I highly recommend having a listen because it’s very likely you’ll find at least one song you like, given how flexible Jidenna is with the genres that he plays around with on this album. I watched his music video for “Bambi” when it was still just in the tens of thousands of views on Youtube and I’ve had the song stuck in my head ever since.

Jordan Peele’s Get Out: This movie is as good as the hype. I was too scared to see any of the press screenings, even with Annie telling me it was sooooo good and that I have to see it. STILL I was much too scared to see it, until she sent me this article where the author is a self-professed wimp but didn’t find the movie too scary. Ultimately, I went when Annie invited me and my boyfriend to see the movie with her and her boyfriend, because we don’t get to see the two of them that often and they were really close to where we live. I was SO NERVOUS to see it, but it really is a tour de force and you really should watch it. It’s masterfully done and, you know what, not really that scary! In the traditional horror movie way. (Maybe it’s scarier because… the horrors of the movie are not too far from reality.)

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The March Disneybound Challenge: I’ll be posting up my annual March Disneybound Challenge recap but this was a lot of fun! This year was different because Leslie actually posted a day-by-day challenge guide, so I was able to lean on that for inspiration rather than thinking of something from scratch every day. I did feel like it was harder to break that guide to go with outfits that I had that didn’t fall neatly into them, but overall, it was good to have some structure to the challenge. Also, I got to see some really incredible outfits on Instagram and this challenge reaffirms how much I love the Instagram Disney community every single year. These folks are amazing.

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A little preview of some of my #disneyboundchallenge posts on Instagram

How has your month been? Any highlights to share?
What are you looking forward to in April?

The Inkblots (2017)

I enrolled in college as a psychology major, not because it was a way to be undecided without bring actually undecided but because I really enjoyed psychology. While I didn’t take psychology in high school, I self-studied for the AP Psychology exam and got a 5 because I absolutely devoured the material. My dad works in psychology and is the person who exposed me to the field. As a result, I’ve long had a deep interest in the workings of the human mind and the rigorous scientific study of it. (The scientific method is your best friend, folks!)

The Rorschach test is pretty famous. You probably know it as the symmetrical ink blot that shrinks show to people, drawing conclusions about their mental state based on what these crazies see in the amorphous shapes. You may even know the name from the character in The Watchmen, whose mask shows a symmetrical, always-changing pattern of black shapes.

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This guy right here.

Author Damion Searls set out to write The Inkblots:Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing because there was no definitive Rorschach biography, despite the huge impact that his inkblots have had on psychology and pop culture. I’ve known about the Rorschach for a long time, primarily as a pop psych test that is fun to do and fun to get results from, but ultimately not that reliable. I learned that this perception of the inkblot test comes not from the original test that Hermann Rorschach spent his life developing but from generations of people not giving the test correctly and letting politics get in the way of psychology.

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The first half of the book is a great biography of Hermann Rorschach. First of all, look at him: he looks like a combination of Karl Urban and Brad Pitt and he lived during the golden age of psychology. His contemporaries were Freud and Jung, two of the biggest names in psychology to this day, and wrote letters to Tolstoy. He was just this extraordinarily brilliant mind who placed high value on art and the human part of the human mind. While many psychologists and psychiatrists of the time saw patients as just patients, Rorschach never lost sight of the humanity of his work. Born into a family of artists, he was extremely in tune with how art affected people and how perceptions reflected the condition of the mind.

Honestly, it was really inspiring to read about this man who was likely a genius and definitely ahead of his time with his approaches to the study of the mind, interacting with patients, and using art for therapy. Searls paints a very flattering portrait of Rorschach as a man who was raised at the juncture of an artistic family and Russian thought, a man whose brilliance was only magnified by his great compassion for the minds who needed his help the most, a man who was able to see patterns and draw conclusions that would not be confirmed until decades later when science was able to catch up.

It was a bit of a shock when he passed away halfway through the book, to say the least. By that point, I had become so attached to Hermann Rorschach, his loving family, his patients and his colleagues, and of course, the inkblots that were the culmination of all the experiences of his life (as highlighted by the book). Turning the page and finding that Dr. Rorschach had suddenly died hit hard, and as a reader, I was left scrambling to pick up the pieces while the inkblot test remained in motion, just as the world was left trying to figure out what to make of the inkblots before Rorschach was able to publish about them.

If you thought Rorschach’s biography was fascinating, the timeline of the Rorschach inkblots as they relate to psychology over the decades was incredible. I have been really enjoying these non-fiction books where I can explore a field over time, like cellular biology and quantum physics, and The Inkblots is no exception. Learning about how the Rorschach test became a test, was changed in execution and perception as it traveled from one practitioner to another, from one clinic to another, from lecture hall to student, and back around again… The politics that surrounded the 10 inkblots as different camps emerged in the attempt to uncover the best way to utilize the Rorschach, how best to help patients, how best to get accurate results.

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Card I of the Rorschach inkblots. What do you see?

I closed this book with an enormous newfound respect for Hermann Rorschach, whose brilliant mind was tragically taken from the world with his early death at a time when he was poised to change it drastically. I also took away a new respect for the Rorschach inkblots in their design and original intent and execution. The inkblots seem very random, but in fact, Rorschach agonized over perfecting their abstract forms. And he got incredible results showing those inkblots to patients and to other clinicians, who were seeing the same amazing results. It’s just that, over time, as people were not trained properly in how to administer the inkblots, the reliability of the test went way down, and so did the esteem of these humble inkblots.

I highly, highly recommend this book if you are a lover of science, psychology, art, and the nexus of the 3.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Gifted (2017)

I’ll be honest, when I first saw the trailer for Gifted, I was sold by one thing: Chris Evans. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of his, not only as a known beefcake (is this a term that people use? I don’t know how else to describe the pop culture status his physical attractiveness has garnered him without using “beefcake” or “Dorito” so…) but also as an actor and a person.

Basically, Chris Evans is bae. I don’t like the term bae, but that’s what he is.

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I was also drawn by the premise: A young math prodigy whose mother passed away is being raised by her uncle, who is desperately trying to allow her to live a normal kid’s life rather than the accelerated genius path that he saw his sister experience.

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And then my friend Annie gave me this testimony after seeing an earlier screening:

OMG STARR! The Gifted screening was sooooooooo goood!!! You’ll cry like a baby and Chris Evans was so hot. Chris Evans was distractingly hot.

I mean, if I merely was interested in the movie before, I super wanted to see it after that glowing, personal review from Annie. So, off I went with 4 tickets to see the movie alone, because I did not want to work too hard to find people to sit next to me while I sobbed over the movie-induced and Chris Evans-induced feels.

TL;DR This movie really was good. It was heartfelt, the story was well-told and well-paced, and the actors were excellent at conveying subtle and complex emotions. Chris Evans, McKenna Grace, and Lindsay Duncan shine. Chris Evans is, indeed, distractingly hot.

I really loved watching this movie. It tugged at my heartstrings without it feeling gratuitous. It wasn’t as predictable as I thought it’d be, and I really enjoyed exploring the different character dynamics within the film. I don’t have a lot to say, actually, but I just thought this movie was very simply well-done. I’m sorry I can’t say more about it, but I just…

… walked out of the theater feeling really good. Satisfied. Content. And wiping tears from my eyes.

Gifted is in theaters April 7th.

Thanks to The City Vault and Fox Searchlight Screenings!