Portsmouth, NH | Durham, NH
Artsy

Where Are the Girls in Movies Who Know They’re Awesome?

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If you’re a girl between the ages of 11 and 18, or if you have a daughter between the ages of 11 and 18, or if you’re not technically in the target teenage girl demographic but you’re still a fan of young-adult-novels-turned-movies, goddammit, then there’s a chance you’ve seen If I Stay. If you’ve watched any TV in the last six months, you’ve at least seen this trailer. (And then spent the afternoon humming say something, I’m giving up on you against your will.)

Although I’ve technically graduated from the YA demographic, if a movie description sounds anything like “seventeen-year-old (girl name) struggles with (emotional problem) while her family deals with (divorce/death/terminal illness/apocalypse),” I just can’t stay away. So naturally I paid $1.50 to rent If I Stay with my sister last weekend.

YA fiction is my jam. Movies, books, whatever. (I could do without the whole vampire thing, but dystopian wastelands never get old.) I’m all for the dramatic love story. But lately I’ve been noticing a pattern in my beloved YA stories.

Scene – Girl and Spunky Best Friend in High School Hallway:
Spunky Best Friend: “Oh my god, Girl! That guy you’ve been secretly crushing on for years is totally into you!”

Girl: “Me? No way. Not possible.”

Spunky Best Friend: “Why? You’re awesome.”

Girl: “No I’m not. I’m just… me.”

This is almost word-for-word a scene from the first five minutes of If I Stay. And as my sixteen year old sister and I watched, I realized that somewhere along the line, it became really cool for girls in movies not to know how cool they are. Girl is always incredibly talented/smart/funny/attractive—she’s the star of the movie, after all—but she just doesn’t see it. Until a guy comes along and works really hard to convince her how awesome she is. Then she starts to see it kind of.

Much like chocolate cheesecake and prolonged time spent with immediate family, this storyline would be great in moderation. Everyone can relate to not feeling awesome sometimes. And having someone to tell you how awesome you are? That sounds pretty ideal. But the girl-who-doesn’t-know-she’s-awesome storyline is everywhere. Bella from Twilight. What’s her face from Divergent. Even Katniss from The Hunger Games, an actual badass revolutionary, is thoroughly convinced of her own mediocrity for pretty much the entire series. Movies, especially ones that star seventeen-year-old girls, really have the power to shape the way their audience thinks. When I was younger, I would relate movies to my real life all the time. (I still make a lot of Harry Potter comparisons at the dinner table, but that’s probably never going away.) I get that insecurity beefs up the drama, but I have to wonder… where are all the girls who know they’re awesome?

If I ever have a daughter, I would want her to know that it’s okay to be insecure sometimes. Everyone is. And if someone comes along who makes her feel good about herself, then hell yeah, go skateboarding with him in the rain. But I’d also want her to know that it’s okay to embrace your own awesomeness.

Scene – Hannah and Julie in Dining Hall:
Hannah: Dude, he’s totally into you.

Julie: Of course he’s into me. I’m the best.

Hannah: I’m into you.

Jules: If I weren’t me I’d be into me.

Hannah: Want to split a cookie?

This is almost word-for-word a conversation that Julie and I have every few months. (The cookie part is more of a daily thing.) Sometimes I’m the one we’re both into, sometimes she is. I like to think we’re both kind of the Spunky Best Friend. I know we sometimes take self-love to borderline inappropriate levels, but I love us. I really do. I love our friends and our families and our blog and the things we do to make ourselves happy. And even if we’re not actually as awesome as we think we are, we have a pretty damn good time.

So to my future daughter: You are awesome. Acknowledging this doesn’t make you conceited, and it doesn’t make you a bad person. The movies are great, but real life is too. Don’t be afraid to play the shit out of your cello. (The girl in If I Stay is always shy about playing the shit out of her cello. Just sayin.)

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Artsy

Last-Minute Music Recommendations

These people have watched me through most of this process.

Until they start a blog that requires you to post every Monday, I’ll bet most people are not familiar with the pure, unadulterated panic that courses through you when your roommate asks you, “so what are you going to post about today?”

I’ve been living by this biweekly deadline for more than a year now, but every time I get caught with my pants down and no plans for a post, it feels like the first time. So without further delay, I give the very best cop-out post I could muster while simultaneously packing an overnight bag and wrapping Christmas presents.

These are two albums that I’ve been living pretty hard over the past few weeks. They are WALK THE MOON’s sophomore album, Talking Is Hard, and Jukebox the Ghost’s new self-titled album, Jukebox the Ghost.

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Favorites include Portugal, UP2U, and Avalanche

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This song makes me really excited to study abroad.

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College, Goofy

Finals and Pineapples

(Note: I wrote this post last night around 11:45. It’s a little all over the place, but it’s raw and emotional, you know? A glimpse at what finals do to the psyche. This is a psychological exposé, really.)

The semester is almost over! Finals week is an uphill battle, my friends, and one time Julie and I climbed a mountain, which is also kind of an uphill battle, so I thought the picture would be fitting. Also, the phrase “uphill battle” will never not remind me of that Miley Cyrus song that she wrote for the Hannah Montana movie or the Nicholas Sparks one with the horrifically sad ending or whatever. There’s always gonna be another mountain, she’s always gonna want to make it mooooove. (The mountain, I’m assuming. Although she could also be talking about final exams. Pretty sure we’d all like to make them move. To never.)

I did a solid 8 hours in the library today. Can you tell?

(That wasn’t a humble brag, but okay, that was kind of a humble brag. Eight hours. My name is champion.)

In other news, Julie and I took a fiction class this semester. My friend Matt knew that we were taking a fiction class this semester. Matt is also 1) a reddit follower, 2) a Harry Potter fan, and 3) very fond of pineapples. I have compiled the following list and put it on the Internet because someday, I want to show it to my grandchildren.

Things My Friend Matt Texted Me This Semester:

Sept. 9, 11:32 AM: “Writing prompt of the day: murder is legal as long as the weapon is a pineapple. GO.”
Sept. 16, 11:11 AM: “Writing prompt of the day: a Muggle manages to sneak into the sorting ceremony. What happens?”
Sept. 21, 12:22 PM: “Writing prompt of the day: Gordon Ramsay is the new Hogwarts potions professor.”
Sept. 22, 11:34 PM: “Hi I’m Hannah Drake. Fiction writer.”
Sept. 25, 11:05 AM: “Writing prompt of the day: a group therapy session for guardian angels of horrible people.”
Oct. 12, 5:29 PM: “Send me that picture of me sleeping on my shoe.”
Oct. 21, 11:16 AM. “Any car that Tom Cruise drives is in cruise control. THINK ABOUT IT.”
Dec. 12, 2:09 AM “Also, I’m gonna start up a butter company called ‘butter from another utter.’”

So, yeah. Matt rocks. Finals don’t. Pineapples are somewhere in the middle.

See you on the other side, my friends.

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Artsy

Sunday Night Tragedy (Major Newsroom Spoiler)

Guys, there’s only one thing that gets Hannah and me through each week. It’s a glorious hour every Sunday from 9 to 10 pm. We keep this in the backs of our minds and it carries us through the Monday-Friday drudgery, come hell or high water or finals. If Sunday was a never-ending tunnel of procrastinated homework and raininess, which it usually is, then this one-hour block of television is the light at the end of that tunnel.

It’s our favorite TV show. Now, since this post is going to include all of the spoilers, I won’t mention it by name. Let’s call it The Rewsnoom, how about that? Last night, like all Sundays, Hannah and I frantically googled our University’s channel guide to HBO at 8:59. We found it in with seconds to spare and settled into the couch with a bag of M&M’s between us. Then the most emotional hour of our lives ensued.

They killed off our favorite character. Granted, all of the characters are either our favorite characters or our least favorite characters (it’s one of those), but still. This guy was the core of the show. From the first scene when you met him, you knew he was going to mean the world to you.

What you didn’t know is that he’d break your goddamn heart with one episode left of the series.

Yes, you read that correctly. The next episode of the series finale, and we were completely blindsided. Hann and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes and whispered, what the fuck?? The light at the end of our tunnel flickered and died.

(Sidenote: that dramatically-lit picture at the top represents nothing about the show except for the fact that it features the actors. The way they’re positioned makes little to no sense.)

So that’s where I’m at. Coping, I guess. I’ll accept kindly-worded grief cards and fruit baskets to help ease my pain, if you needed any ideas. And if you’re going through some similar television-spurred emotions, I recommend looking at a previous post about the Five Stages of Mourning the end of a TV series. We’ll get through this.

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Sweaty

Fainting Only Happens in the Movies, Probably

I think fate tapped me on the shoulder and said, hey, you should blog about yoga this week. A few things happened recently.

Julie and I got our caricatures done, as pictured above. (The guy was this close on the blog name. If only we’d switched seats.)
I made a scene in my favorite Bikram studio on Thanksgiving morning.
My mom turned to me afterwards and said, “hey, you should blog about yoga this week!”

It’s been a while since I wrote about yoga. (Check out for some old posts about back sweat and inflexibility. Sometimes I’m funny.) I’ve really missed it, actually. I could talk about yoga for hours. Jules could too. Just ask anyone we’ve ever met at a party.

But the real reason I’m writing this post is because I almost died in the Bikram studio the other day, and I’d really like to tell you about it. Other people have told me tons stories in which they faint or come close to fainting. My vision started to go out, they say, everything went black. And this does sound really scary. But, like I said, it happened to other people, so part of me couldn’t help but be like, it’s definitely not that bad. I’m way too special to faint, anyways. Fainting was just never on my radar, you know? As a child I caught a lot of colds, had a lot of anxiety about going to the movies (scary trailers did me in), and puked off of an impressive number of chairlifts, but I never passed out at the doctor’s office or anything. Fainting only happened in movies, probably.

All of these idiotic thoughts were still living in the back of my head when I walked into the Bikram studio at 7:55am on Thanksgiving morning. The room was a toasty 105 degrees, one of my favorite instructors was teaching the 8am class, and I was ready to get sweaty. And fifteen minutes into the practice, I almost fainted.

I say almost because I didn’t actually hit the ground, but I have to imagine that I was close. We were in our second set of this pose, hands-to-feet: (I look just like this, I swear)

And when I released my heels and came back up to standing, the world started fading out. It was like when you stand up too fast and see dark spots, except the dark spots didn’t go away. They got bigger, drifted around a bit, and then they turned yellow.

The world started to go dark, but the darkness didn’t fade in from the corners like it always does in Harry Potter movies when he falls off his broom or something. Shadows moved randomly everywhere I looked. I couldn’t see myself in the mirror, two feet away. I was definitely going to throw up. And even though she was standing less than ten feet away, I couldn’t hear our instructor anymore. Her voice was replaced completely by a loud ringing in my ears and a very anxious inner monologue.

I’m dying. I am definitely dying. This is it, Hann, this is how people die, in hot rooms with weird yellow vision. It’s a stroke probably, or a heart attack, or maybe shell shock. Shell shock makes the least sense, but you never know, right? It’s going to make for a strange headline in tomorrow’s newspaper for sure. But I won’t be able to see it, because I will be dead.

After a few minutes Laura looked at me and said, “Hannah, would you like to go grab a Gatorade outside? You look a little pale.” I nodded and started walking towards the door, past a sea of sweaty, blurry people. I tapped my mom on the shoulder on my way out and said something along the lines of, “heymomcanyoupleasecomewithmeIdontfeelsogood,” like all sophisticated yogis would if they knew they were dying in the middle of the yoga studio. My mom waited five minutes—she had to finish the warm-up series, after all—then came outside to check on my survival status. (She claims she would’ve come right away if I’d actually hit the floor. But I have my doubts.)

Somehow, I survived. This wasn’t the first time I’ve said that I was surprised to be alive after a Bikram practice, but it is the first time I was actually surprised to be alive after a Bikram practice. I really thought it was game over there for a second. Like, red ring of death on your Xbox and your mom said she’d never buy you another, game over. (That’s still a thing, right?) My Thanksgiving dinner tasted like sweet potatoes and second chances.

So, to all my friends who have ever told me stories about fainting, I am sorry for being such an arrogant dumbass. You never knew it, because it was in my head, but I was. And now I’ve learned my lesson. Fainting is fucking nuts.

Final note: finals are rapidly approaching. (Pun intended.) Julie and I probably aren’t sleeping until Christmas. Stay tuned.

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