Thursday, October 28, 2010

CONTEST: Owl Earrings!

Okay I have a contest for you all! My rad friend Kaleigh runs an Etsy shop called Unexpected Expectancy. She's given me reign to give away two pairs of OWL EARRINGS to two of you lucky readers. Given how trendy owls are these days - I mean, have you seen Hungover Owls? that owl movie? heard that crap owl-named band that I can't even post about here? - it seems pretty apt to start wearing some self-adornments. I myself already own an owl ring purchased in Chicago last year, and how sweet are these in brass and gunmetal:

I was going to join my love of film and owls together into the contest, but had trouble coming up with very many "owl scenes" in movies myself. (But how good is the owl scene in Dumb & Dumber - how good???) So the contest is this: link me to a picture of either the cutest owl(s) ever or the most hungover owl(s) ever. First two people to do this AS WELL AS leave their e-mail address gets to snazz up their wardrobe with the brassy or gunmetaly version of the earrings!

Also, you should check out the other creative jewelry she sells, too - I love this brass key necklace (keys, duh), this librarian glasses necklace (again, duh, right?), and this really beautiful bronze feather ring! The other great thing about Unexpected Expectancy is that each month, Kaleigh gives 10% of every sale to a different charity. For the month of October, 10% will be donated to the Animal Protective League.

Full-disclosure-wise, Kaleigh came to me as a friend about this contest, but after I'd already agreed to it, she said she'd be sending me a little surprise. Totally would have done it for nothing!

I feel like dudes should totally get in on this if you're reading to - the holidays are on the way and if you have a sister or girlfriend or even mom that would totally love these, get in on it!

Post me some owl pics, now!

EDIT: We have our winners Liz & Cupcake! Thanks for all the awesome owl photos, I love owl photos!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

'Cause you're the storm that I've been needing.

A picture from the fun times in Coney Island this summer; the weather's since turned cooler.
This week marks the calm before the storm. A good storm, mind you.

On Friday, Jesse flies in from the Best Tour Ever for an evening at Pee Wee Herman's live Broadway show. He was lovely enough to get us front row tickets!

Saturday morning we jet to Chicago for two evenings of the Best Tour Ever, as well as hang time for me and some of my favourite friends! Not to mention the husband, who has been truckin' away on this tour for a good three weeks. I can't wait to see some Valencia, Say Anything, and Saves the Day - and Motion City Soundtrack!! Given that it's the Halloween show and Chicago contains some of their most awesome fans, there will be some traditional MCS dressing up, though I've not been privy to the plans yet. I do have a costume of my own I'll be packing...

I'll be back in time for the work week on Monday, but Monday also signifies the beginning of November. And I've got BIG PLANS this November! I'll be participating in my first ever NaNoWriMo - which means "National Novel Writing Month." I'll be writing nearly 1700 words every single day in the hopes of reaching at least 50,000 words by November 30th...50,000 words of a NOVEL. If you're embarking on this quest as well, feel free to friend me on the website, my username (as always) is jessicaxmaria.

You could be hearing right now a gleam of the near future's SENSATION! The top of the bestseller lists! The instant-classic yet to be written! Or, not. Most likely not. But at least I'll have something to work with after November. Something malleable, something to edit. I'm quite excited and motivated.

My blog posts in the month of November may be short and sweet, as you can probably understand. Though I may do plenty of updates from the road - updates from the Best Tour Ever - as I'll be sure to have my computer handy for plane and train writing! I wish I had a light, sleek MacBook Air just for this month! But, it cannot be at the moment. No worries, my November means traveling, seeing my dude, hanging with friends, and writing - four of the best things in my life.

I aim to have an adventurous month! Anybody goes to the MCS shows? Participating in NaNoWriMo?

PS Stay tuned tomorrow for a fun contest with prizes!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Way it goes.

It was a particularly emotionally draining weekend. However, through all the somberness, there was the light that breaks through when friends gather for one another. There was laughter and silly jokes and memorable stories. There were many, many hugs. I can only hope that my friend's pain continues to be eased as the days pass. For now, I look for the positivity in all things. The brighter spots in life. And I wish to one day own the same amount of strength and poise my friend does.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. As we were. As we are no longer. As we will one day not be at all.
-- Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

It's hard to sit here at work when my best friend is in pain and grieving hundreds of miles away. It's all I can do for now. Feeling helpless. But I sit here and mentally send my love. I can see it whirring through the winds now, reaching for her and her family. It's all I can do for now.

Monday, October 18, 2010

And you'll ask yourself.

I am never really alone. I enjoy constantly being surrounded by my friends, the city, the noises, the smells. Of course, there's always room for alone time when needed, but sometimes after a scary movie, you're at home by yourself having just said goodbye to your friends and you grab the cat as you head to bed and you're lying there with the lights off and trying not to think of things like Bloody Mary because you catch a glint of the mirror in the room - sometimes then alone time isn't all that fun.

But let's not talk about my Saturday night.

On Friday, Erica, Kelly, and Amber joined Sam and I for a Ladies Evening (also known as "Girls Night"). We cooked, we feasted, we wined. The conversation grew louder and the theme of the night quickly became "fake gagging," as we told each other gross-out stories and pulled up grotesque pictures on our phones. Like we ladies do.

My weekend also included a book club meeting and debating opinions as we are halfway through this book, as well as getting a new countertop thanks to Jim's parents (total kitchen makeover coming soon!), many couch-movies, a bit of football with fun friends (some from far away), and a five-mile walk through Central Park for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. Donation is still open if you'd like to give to the team! I also walked and donated a couple of weeks ago for my employer's breast cancer walk, and it's been nice to see all the awareness being raised in the media and nearly everywhere I look this month.

How was your weekend?

PS [Edit] allusions I made previously to a contest have been deleted because I don't think I'll be able to hold it tomorrow, something came up. Perhaps later this week or next. Thank you.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Back then our bones wouldn't break.

A myriad of activities kept me busy the past few weeks. Really, I thought when summer winded down I would have a great lot of time to spend writing. However, plans are just a list of things that don't happen, right?

Now I can divulge in a few of the details; the changes in life that have brought me to where I stand today. I'm happy, slightly more scatterbrained than usual, and constantly trying to organize my surroundings even when it seems there's not enough time in the world. New York continues to take hold of my life every day - no, it never slows down. And I enjoy every minute of it. The friends that fill my life are the best, and I'm finding that I wouldn't trade a slowed-down life for them any day of the year. I'm now 27, and I see no reason why aging seemingly relates to having any less fun.

Surely, my life when I first moved to New York was different - I lived at 120 miles per hour, so to speak. I reveled in watching the dawn break over the skyscrapers and dancing for hours though my feet protested. Since then things have evolved as time makes us do. I got a fabulous job, married the man who surprised me over and over again, and I tend to see the dawn in the hours when I wake up and not when I go to sleep. The pace remains high, but with different avenues to race down. I assume it's what living in New York is for everyone, and though my rent is higher than other places, I understand I pay extra for living in the greatest city in the world. And I'm surrounded by the best people in my world, right here in this little island and its burroughs.

Back in September, the girl I drove a u-haul with in 2006 moved from our apartment in Brooklyn to a new, beautiful neighborhood in Queens. Erica, my virtual sister and companion in exploring the city, the nightlife, the shows, the stores, the subway... has moved away - no longer a whisper-yell of "hermana" across our rooms (whether we had walls or not) - but still a ventricle in my heart that beats across the burroughs. New York connects us all, with places easily traveled, and "activities" that keep us together. Though locations have changed, nothing in our friendship has deteriorated, in fact probably just the opposite has happened.

And in the apartment, Jesse and I have welcomed two wonderful individuals, Samantha (Sam) and Jim. Yes, we live with another couple! Sam and Jim are two fantastic people we've met over the last few years that have become damn great friends. Sam may be the most positive, loving person I've ever met. She works at an animal hospital, and I think those assets just come naturally to people who decide to work with animals all day (see also: nurses). Speaking of, she also brings along her cocker spaniel pup Melly, who is adorable, and to which Pee Wee still casts a condescending eye, but for the most part they get along splendidly. I am currently working on a "Melly and Pee Wee" photoset to share soon. Jim takes improv classes and fights the good fight of a desk job through sarcasm and wit - you should probably read his tumblr and follow him so that he starts writing more funny stuff, because at this point he just thinks nobody reads! He's hilarious on stage at the Upright Citizen's Brigade theater and just as a friend to talk to. Sam and Jim have been great fun to have at #410, and I know I'll have more stories to share about the apartment in the future.

In more news updates, Jesse just recently left for his Best Tour Ever. I'll be meeting up with him a few times on the road, namely in Chicago, the East Coast, and Austin. I'm especially excited for Austin - not just because it's the last date of the tour and I get my husband back - but also because I am flying there with Jiscilla and we are visiting our best friend Christy. It's been a couple of years now since Christy left Manhattan for Austin, and I'm excited to visit her in her own personal Great City.

Finally, I should give you the last big update, and another reason I've been unable to really pay attention to this little spot on the internet lately: I got a promotion. I'm now a business manager as opposed to just an analyst (or "transponster" as my friends knew my previous title). It's something I'm quite proud to have accomplished, and it's reinvigorated my career-thinking.

And now, I'm just spewing it all out. Well, I'd tell you to expect more frequent updates, and I'd honestly mean it and intend to, but I never know where I'll end up tomorrow or next week or next month; what might spring up and take hold of me and bring me joy or sadness or something inbetween; the leaky faucet of my fingers today may get clogged with a writing (or sharing?) block next week. But for now, you should know that I'm happy in this fast-paced world of love I live in.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

You know, you'd like to think you're both in all this pain.

An anecdote from a moment in my life the past week --

A couple of nights ago, I curled up in bed with my cat. The husband was out meeting friends, and I excitedly turned on Netflix and settled in for a movie called Broken English. The film has been on my radar for a long time because Netflix said I would enjoy it, it had something to do with France, and it stars two actors I really like - Justin Theroux and Parker Posey.

And I was enjoying it - I really was. It opens in New York and I recognized so many blocks I've walked, eateries and bars I'd been to, and a movie theater (of course). Parker Posey's character was developing well and I laughed and sympathized with her. We would be friends, I'm sure of it, I told Pee Wee as he watched on with me. Posey's suitor in the film, a French dude, was a bit too-good-to-be-true, but I let that slide (I often do for romantic comedies, so why not in this indie romance?).

The story moves to Paris, and like most films that involve Paris, I was whisked into the romantic-whimsical feelings of that place I've never visited. I enjoyed the moments Posey's character had with her married best friend and travel companion, played by Drea de Matteo, and I relished in her solo experiences in a foreign city.


And then the ending hit, a few minutes after a moment of true revelation to Posey's character, and I almost threw the remote control at my television. Firstly, because it should have ended at said revelatous moment (I'm so angry I'm making up WORDS! And, also, I don't want to be spoilery.) and secondly, BECAUSE IT STOLE ONE OF MY FAVOURTIE FILM'S ENDING.

Literally, the last two lines of Broken English (2007) are NEAR EXACT to the last two lines in Before Sunset (2004). Those last two lines are perhaps my favourite ending lines in any movie, ever. Richard Linklater's closing scene is beautifully filmed, and I remember the cuts, the slow zoom-in, the looks on the actors' faces. The Oscar-nominated script for Before Sunset was written by those actors Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, as well as director Linklater. Those last two lines run through my head at least ONCE a week.

You know when you have those moments where you get so frustrated and you just want to drop everything, run outside and scream, or let go of all communications to anyone and run away, or just set out somewhere with no idea why - just that you want an adventure because your life seems so far from adventurous right then? In the aftermath of those moments, that's when I repeat those last two lines because they embody some sort of calming beauty to me. (I realize it may be just me.)

The last ten minutes of Broken English indeed left me incredulous, especially since every minute leading up to those last were pretty good. Not great, but good. That ending ruined it. And it ruined it in a much sadder way than The Town's ending ruined the whole (...I pondered to myself after calmly turning off the tv, setting down my remote, and turning off the light to sleep). I thought, perhaps, regarding The Town, I had been too harsh the first time around. But then I watched the movie again. Only to find more examples of craptitude, and I sadly must dismiss that movie's story/writing as well.

Back to me laying in bed on Monday night, eyes wide open, still angry. I rarely read movie reviews before seeing a film, so as not to cloud my head with expectations, and so on Monday night I grabbed my iPhone in the dark and quickly searched "Ebert - Broken English." And I skimmed it for the most part, but here, too, I rested on his last two lines:
There is a very good movie named Before Sunset that begins more or less where this one ends. Which tells you something right there.
Ebert knows.

I believe I can forgive most of Broken English because it was good to a point, and it was only the debut effort of director/writer Zoe Cassavetes (yes, of those Cassavetes). Though I truly have no desire to see it again. And! I can only recommend to any one who wants to see it to NOT waste their time and just watch Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. I forgive Netflix, too, because what else do you suggest to the American girl who has either seen or queued every single French movie you have to offer?

In similar news, if you like Louis CK, go see Hilarious. If the internet, psychology, and making BFFs on the internet are in any way interesting to you, see Catfish (though personally I'd have waited for DVD). If you like comedies that are smart, funny, not corny, and not afraid to be risque, I'd recommend the good jokes in Easy A. And finally, if you enjoy not-of-this-world (but delicious) dialogue, dark and hypnotic directing, and can get past the fact that the story revolves around the very website you may have come to this post from - I'd recommend The Social Network. But, for the most part, just don't see Broken English.

So, how was your week?