2015 in Film

It’s time for my annual movie round-up! It feels like another year that went by without me really seeing as many films as I wanted to. That’s always the case, but I know that this year, my schedule got crazy a few separate times (as clearly evidenced by my super spotty update schedule)…

Running down in the order of the list that Wikipedia has, here’s what I’ve seen this year:

  1. The Wedding Ringer (nailed it)
  2. Cinderella
  3. Trainwreck
  4. Furious 7
  5. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  6. Pitch Perfect 2
  7. The Age of Adaline
  8. Mad Max: Fury Road
  9. Inside Out
  10. Jurassic World
  11. Ted 2
  12. Ant-Man
  13. Self/Less
  14. Pixels
  15. The Danish Girl
  16. The Martian
  17. The Intern
  18. Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
  19. The Big Short

Definitely a sparse year in terms of reviews written, eh? Should I be writing reviews for movies that I’m not seeing at early screenings? I just figure those were the only ones of value to most of you, but please let me know if you don’t mind seeing a review after a movie’s release date.

2015 Movies

Past annual movie round-ups: 2014 | 2013 | 2012

What did you see this past year?
Any must-see movies that I missed??

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2015 Resolutions – Abstract

Ah… the tough list. The one that gnaws at me every day of the new year. The one that has more to do with who I am rather than simply what I do. If you thought concrete resolutions were hard to keep, you should see how much harder it is to modify thoughts over behaviors. But I studied psychology – I know it can be done.

Here’s what I’d like to do in 2015:

  1. Spend fewer weekend evenings alone. I spent a lot of time this past year just sitting by myself. As an extrovert, this bothered me a lot. I’m not comfortable spending that much time with myself and only myself. It would get extra difficult on the weekends, because I am so used to reserving my weekends as time to be spent with other people. Spending those Friday and Saturday nights alone was not good for me, so I just have to resolve not to do that anymore.
  2. In fact, learn how to be alone, full stop. The most frustrating thing I learned about my extroversion was that I could never pull a Thoreau and run off into the woods to live alone. The fact of the matter is that I cannot 100% control if I am alone or not; that depends on other people’s cooperation. So, I have to learn not to fall apart if I am alone.
  3. Ask for what I want. I don’t know where I got this idea that dropping hints about what I wanted and then pretending I’d be surprised if I somehow did get it was a better idea than just asking for what I want. It’s not. 2015 is the year when I start being frank and direct about what I would like to see from myself and my life.
  4. Practice my languages. I definitely dropped the ball with my goals here last year, but I need to work on this skillset that I once had. I’ll definitely be trying to dust off my Chinese and French. Will I be able to read a book in a different language by December? Ehhh who knows! This is why this resolution has been moved off the concrete list 😛
  5. Make time for fitness. AKA the most common and cliché resolution of all time? What I need to do is find something that will keep me on track, whether it’s a class or an event. (Another 5K? Ugh… maybe…) I’d love to find a fitness class that I feel obligated to keep up with, so that’s probably my best bet. This could be a concrete resolution, but in general, I just want to carve out more time for being active.
  6. Spend more time outside. Sometime in the past 10 years, I went from being a really outdoorsy girl to being an awfully indoorsy girl. It’s probably a combination of my new fear of the sun, aversion to extreme temperatures, and general sexist suggestions that I stay indoors rather than exerting myself outside. I miss being outside. I miss breathing in fresh air. I miss the warmth of the sun on my (SPFed) face without a window interrupting. There is just this alive energy that you can feel when you’re outside and I miss it. Maybe I’ll start hiking this year, who knows!
  7. Trim the fat. Not only with regards to the above fitness-related resolution. I find that there is a lot of dead weight in my life, in the form of people, attitudes, etc. etc. etc. It’s time to just get rid of all of that, even though it won’t be easy.
  8. Create schedules and stick to them. I shied away from the idea of writing down an hour-by-hour itinerary for my days but maybe I need that. I know that I am the kind of person who needs a lot of structure to work effectively, and maybe knowing that my 11-12 block is for blogging and not for YouTube is important. On a similar note:
  9. Have plans every week. This goes with my concrete resolution of keeping up with my planner; it’s hard to make sure there’s something written every week if I don’t have anything planned. It doesn’t have to be going out or meeting up with people but having things to look forward to in the week is really important for my mental health. I used to joke that having really small rewards like whatever I wanted for dessert on a Friday was all that got me through the week. But it was true. Sometimes the only thing that kept me going was knowing I could get an eclair AND chocolate cake AND mango mousse at dinner in just a few days, so I need to make sure I have similar little rewards for just surviving.
  10. Discipline, discipline, discipline. This will always be one of my biggest struggles but I think the key is creating a system where I have no choice but to do what I need to do. Again, structure reigns supreme in my life, and if I create a sturdy frame for my life, everything else should fall into place.

 

:)

This year feels different. I ended 2014 feeling a bit down, but last night, I struggled to sleep because I was riding this momentum swelling within me. I was so excited about the things I wanted to do and the person I wanted to be that I couldn’t sleep. What was almost as energizing as this feeling was the fact that I was feeling it at all. Just days ago, I was feeling stuck, not sure where I was or where I was going, more than happy to just sleep all of my days away to escape that feeling.

It’s a great way for me to start the year and I feel optimistic that I can change for the better and get closer to becoming the person I want to be.

2015 Resolutions – Concrete

Here we are, 2015!  If I kept a resolution to blog about my resolutions every year, it would be one of the few resolutions I have kept! (My resolutions aren’t all up on this blog, which hasn’t always been active, but they’re out there in the Internet.)

Resolutions: A way for people to acknowledge their shortcomings and flaws as well as the person they want to be.

I do have to say that a lot of my resolutions will be repeated from last year’s list. For some of them, I had already failed by February. I would think about that blog post in June and tell myself that I needed to start, better late than never! By November, I was just painfully aware of my acute failure to achieve some of these resolutions, and I had basically accepted that I would need to include them in my 2015 resolutions. Oh well! Without further ado:

Concrete Goals

As with last year, I’m dividing my resolutions into 2 categories. This first category is of my measurable goals, wherein, by this time next year, I’ll know if I’ve achieved them or not.

  1. Find a new new job. I’m on the job hunt again, as I am learning the hard way what I should have already known and that is how difficult it can be to be in a good place, work-wise. (And also that I do miss being in an office.) I feel like I’m getting to a place where I know where I want to be for the first time since I quit being pre-med, and that’s a really great place to start. I also need to be better about asking for help with this because I am still very lost in the non-pre-med world and I have always been too proud to ask for help but I need it. I need help.
  2. Read 25 books. I failed this goal really miserably last year. Barely read at all. According to Goodreads, I only read a dozen books this entire year. My problem is that I don’t set aside time for reading. The only reason I even read as many as I did this past year was because of the time I spent on a 1-hour train ride commuting to my last job. I didn’t have anything else to do but read, and it became my dedicated reading time. I need to carve out dedicated reading time in my schedule again in order to achieve my sad, sad goal. I’m also going to try really hard to stop wasting my time on books that I just don’t enjoy. I normally devour books in a day or two, but struggling through a book for weeks or months on end doesn’t do anyone any favors. (Looking at you, terrible chapter of Cloud Atlas!) So this goal would come out to about 2 books a month? That seems so doable and yet…
  3. Take more photos. And archive them better. I realized with my very belated Europe posts that my documentation of my trip was crucial in my being able to remember what had happened. This year, I tried not to let photo-taking interfere with me actually experiencing my life, so I have to find a delicate balance here. I have decided to take at least one photo every day and will be documenting via Instagram and Tumblr. This is not only an exercise in documenting my life but, hopefully, will also be a photography exercise in and of itself. I know what I’m doing with a camera, so I should try to act like it.
  4. Edit videos for video documentation. I have wanted to explore video for a while, as a long-time YouTube addict. I have so much footage that I just don’t want to edit because, well, I hate video editing a lot. It is tedious work for me because I’m not good at it but I’m very meticulous about it. I hope I can practice editing this year so that it can go by faster and I can get footage of Europe and more up and become YouTube famous. I’m trying to think of a way to quantify this goal, maybe one video per month? Or one video per quarter? I guess we’ll see at the end of January how I’m feeling about this, and whether it’ll be a monthly or quarterly thing.
  5. Maintain regular blogging schedule. I am really proud of myself for sticking to my self-imposed schedule of posting every Tuesday and Friday. I’ve cut it really close a few times, but I managed to make it! The only problem I encountered with this schedule was that I found myself wanting to post things in between those days (e.g. for holidays, immediate recaps, etc.) but waiting because I knew that I wouldn’t have the energy/inspiration to post for my Tuesday/Friday schedule. I will try to guarantee a post on Tuesday and Friday and supplement with additional time-sensitive posts, like today’s New Year’s Day resolutions post! This might go terribly wrong, but it will teach me that I have to plan ahead.
  6. Get 700+ on the GMAT. I did not seriously consider taking the test last year, now that I look back. I’ve been holding onto my boyfriend’s GMAT prep books for years now and have barely opened them. I haven’t even taken any practice tests yet. This year, I’m going to take the test because this year, I need to apply for school. Not being in a formal educational setting is kind of killing me. I planned on being in school for the next 4-7 years, and now I’ll be school-less for 2 years.
  7. Perfect split. How many years is this going to be a goal…? But let’s get down to business with this one. I am going to set an alarm for myself to stretch if I have to. Here’s the kicker: I know I can do a split right now. I was essentially dared to do one over the summer and I did it. I was in pain for about 2 weeks afterwards, however, so that’s what we’re going to try to eliminate this year.
  8. Learn to code. I feel really motivated, lately, to get serious about coding. Historically, computers and I have never gotten along. They scream at me and sometimes literally fume because they hate me so much. (No, really. You haven’t experienced fear of technology until your vision was clouded by smoke and you could smell burning plastic.) But I need to conquer technology and I think this is the year I will do it. Being able to code my blog (when I move hosts?!) and personal website would be a good concrete marker to look for here.
  9. Keep up with my planner/journaling. I don’t know how well journaling will work out this year (likely not well at all), but I want to consistently keep up with my planning in my planner. I often have gaps from when I just forget about my planner and I’d like to avoid that this year, especially since I have a brand new planner that I just love looking at. As long as I have something written every week (hoping that I have something every week) would be a success here.
  10. Get a new primary care physician. This is more of a to-do for the coming month but ever since that nightmare visit with a PCP who wasn’t my pediatrician, I haven’t listed a new physician for primary care, and I haven’t had a full physical since. As someone who constantly tells people that their specialists should not be their PCPS (ob/gyns are not PCPs, ladies), I feel really uneasy not having one of my own. We recently switched insurance, so now that the dust has settled I should be clear to find a new doctor and get a physical.
  11. Plan at least one themed party. I have been itching to plan and throw a fun party. I love planning events and getting little details right. It’s part of why I love planning those random outfits I keep doing for the occasion. I know I’m not the only one who gets excited when all those seasonal items come out in stores, whether it’s patriotic napkins or decorative cornucopias.
Goodbyee!!
How clever is this??

Please let me know if you have any tips/advice for my resolutions and what yours are this year, especially if we have any overlapping! We can help keep each other on track and be resolution buddies. 🙂
I hope your resolutions go better than mine usually do!

P.S. I am always brutally honest and hard on myself around resolution time, but I know I have actually succeeded with several of my resolutions in the past, especially with regards to small habits that improve my health. I drink a lot more water than I used to, I SPF and moisturize way more regularly than before, etc. If there’s hope for me, you’ll definitely knock your goals and resolutions out of the park!

2014 in Film

It’s that time of year again! I hope you have all been having a lovely holiday season! I somehow managed to get myself to write way more movie reviews this year than I have in previous years, thanks in part to my discovering a decent system for finding free early screenings.

Criteria for this list are as follows:

  1. I saw it between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2014
  2. It was released between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2014
    • Exceptions will be made if they were released internationally this year
      • Snowpiercer was first released internationally last year but was released here this year so this is an exception to the exception
    •  The Wedding Ringer will be on next year’s list (if I don’t forget)

Without further ado, here is my 2014 movie roundup, in the order provided by Wikipedia:

* = early screening
** = not seen in theaters (streaming service/in-flight movie/DVD rental, etc.)
No notation indicates that I saw it in theater during its release

  1. Ride Along*
  2. From Vegas to Macau
  3. Ex-Files
  4. The Lego Movie**
  5. The Grand Budapest Hotel**
  6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  7. The Right Kind of Wrong**
  8. Divergent
  9. The Trip to Italy
  10. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  11. The Fault in Our Stars
  12. Edge of Tomorrow
  13. Guardians of the Galaxy
  14. Snowpiercer**
  15. The Maze Runner*
  16. The Imitation Game 
  17. Gone Girl
  18. Big Hero 6*
  19. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
  20. Into the Woods*
  21. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies*

Total = 21*

*Updated 30 December with a last-minute addition to the party!
*Updated 31 December because I forgot I went to the movies in China!

I’m realizing I missed a lot of films that I really wanted to see this year. It was a really crazy year for me, and seeing movies was one of the things I sacrificed in the midst of all that chaos. (I mean, I had been wanting to see Snowpiercer since last year and I watched it yesterday so…)

Previously: 2013 in film || 2012 in film

(Do I watch fewer and fewer new releases every year, what’s going on…)

I may watch more between now and December 31, but here’s what I’ve got for you all.

2014 in film

What did you watch this year?
What movies that I missed do I have to make sure I see? (I know there are a lot, so I need help prioritizing.)

Quick China Highlights

My trip to China for the new year was pretty relaxed. It wasn’t like my Europe trip, where we were in a different city each day and were sightseeing constantly.

So, I’ll just give you all a bulleted list of some of the highlights of my trip for now rather than an in-depth recap. I’ll also be posting up some other thoughts I had while I was in China before going on to put up the rest of my Europe posts (sigh…) and a couple of travel tips that I’ve picked up along the way (do as I say and not as I do, for those!).

This is going to be kind of… stream of consciousness. Sorry in advance 😛

  • I saw a North Korean on-ice acrobatics troupe and it was amazing. It was also a very unique experience, since you can’t see North Korean performers anywhere else in the world except maybe North Korea. But you likely will never be able to go to North Korea, so China is your best bet.
  • I set off big a** fireworks!! Fireworks are illegal in Maryland, so it was extra exciting for me. Plus, while I did set off firecrackers, these were giant, blooms of green and red fireworks.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y60k_H3A6Sk
  • Chinese New Year in China is a big deal and I got to celebrate accordingly.

    Lunch at 姥姥’s, Chinese New Year Eve’s dinner at 姑姑’s, new year wishes
  • I spent time with my family, who I haven’t seen in 4 years

    My cousins and aunts (on my mom’s side) and I being cheeseballs (we’re matched up with our respective mommies)
  • I watched the 春节晚会 (annual televised New Year variety show) all the way through and then some, due to the multiple multiple multiple re-broadcasts
  • I was able to visit my grandmother’s grave.
  • I set a new record of 5 nosebleeds in 2 days while in Harbin, due to the extremely dry and polluted air.
    (I only had about 3 nosebleeds during the several days that I was in Beijing. “Only”.)
  • Reading Dan Brown’s Inferno before going to the most populous country in the world is not a great idea. (Premise of Inferno: The antagonist decides he will personally address the overpopulation problem.)
  • I went to the cinema and watched 2 Chinese movies: The Man from Macau (澳门风云) starring Chow Yun-Fat and The Ex-Files (前任攻略) starring Han Geng (formerly of Super Junior).

    I didn’t watch the movie on the left, but it’s a spin-off of a popular TV show about celebrity dads and their adorable kids!
  • I kind of got into a show called Sing My Song (中国好歌曲) which is a The Voice-esque kind of show that features original songwriters.
  • It was really warm in Changde, Hunan, which is my dad’s hometown. 26°C, and I was bundled up because everyone in Beijing told me that it feels extra cold in the south because they don’t usually turn on the heat. Heaters were completely unnecessary, as was my puffy coat.
  • It was balls-to-walls cold in Harbin, of course, where the warmest days were about -10°C.
  • The Ice & Snow Festival was pretty impressive (although it didn’t distract me from how cold it was)

    Their dedication to ice and snow sculptures is really impressive.
  • However, it was comforting that I never once saw a single white dude wearing shorts and flip flops. Chinese people believe in bundling up very well when it’s cold, as is the sensible thing to do!

    You can't see in this photo, but I was wearing 5 layers on my legs and 6 layers on my torso.
    You can’t see in this photo, but I was wearing 5 layers on my legs and 6 layers on my torso.
  • I’m not sure why, but I heard Psy’s song “Gentleman” more while I was in China than I think I had ever heard it before my trip.
  • I slid down an ice slide or 3

    Video coming soon! (“Soon”)
  • I seem to be on a mission to see aquariums and TV towers everywhere I go

    Harbin’s Dragon Tower and Polar Land
  • I paid my respects for the new year at a temple, where I totally hit a bell that was hanging in the middle of a giant coin by throwing a regular-sized coin at it and, yes, I felt like I had hand-eye coordination for just a moment!

    I was too busy throwing coins to get a photo, so this photo comes courtesy of the Beijinger
  • I got highlights in my hair again! The last time I dyed my hair permanently was almost 10 years ago, and it left my hair so dry that I was terrified of chemically treating it again.
  • I saw a play in the gorgeous Chinese National Centre for the Performing Arts

    The theater runs underneath this pool, so you can look up and see water and sky above you.

     

  • I was harassed by a shop owner in 秀水街 (Silk Street Market) who insisted I buy a polka dot top that I didn’t want when I wanted to buy some of his OTHER merchandise. I left with my mom buying the top and generally unhappy with the shopowner. XD

Things that did NOT happen during my China trip, much to my disappointment:

  • Completely avoiding squat toilets (ughhhhhhhh)
  • Eating my favorite items from American fast food chains in China
  • Meeting my cousin’s husband
  • Seeing one of my uncles
  • Eating hotpot at a hotpot restaurant
  • Karaoke T^T
  • Have a nice foot soak (but it is winter, so)
  • Get my head massaged while getting a haircut
  • Sleeping through the entire evening when I shared rooms
  • Breathing easily

It was an interesting trip, for sure! Full of ups and downs, my trip proved that I couldn’t live in China as a permanent resident but that it is full of reasons to go back for visits.