listen to this, meg says listen to this

Listen to This: “Everything Now” by Arcade Fire

So, the latest album from Arcade Fire, Everything Now has been out for a few months now, and guess what? I still can’t stop listening to it. All of the songs are great, but especially the title track because there is just something so magnetic and engaging about it. It has this great beat that makes me have to keep myself in check so I don’t have a lead foot when I’m jamming out in the car, but even beyond that…the lyrics are something fierce and loaded. So basically the whole thing is incredibly. I’m bummed I didn’t see them on this tour because every clip I’ve seen looks like pure magic. When you need a song that stirs something in your soul, I think this is one of those. I bought Taylor Swift’s album this weekend, and I had to take out EN to put it in, and immediately I was ready to switch back. There’s definitely something special about this album. I felt like I could relate to so many chapters of life, but also the current one without drowning in nostalgia. I don’t know how they accomplished that, but it’s mesmerizing. I would share some lyrics here, but then I’d be sharing the whole darn song because I just can’t pick. Except, “Every song that I’ve ever heard, Is playing at the same time, it’s absurd” is hands down one of my favorites. That is exactly what my brain feels like sometimes. If you need something to tap your feet along to, tap along on the steering wheel, sing scream because the song is so full of passion – then listen to to this one. And if you’ve already heard it, by all means – listen again. This is a song that I’ve found is somehow impossible to overplay, and that’s a bit hard to come by. Check out the awesome music video below!

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meg says read this, Read This

Read This (Again): The Opposite of Loneliness

Screen shot 2015-11-11 at 10.08.54 AMAlright guys, one of the first posts I remember interacting with people in person the most about after having shared it here, was when I first read The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. I’m going to share that originally post again, (I’ll just include it below.) But I also want to write a little about what made me want to share it. A few weekends ago, the Southern Festival of Books was held in Downtown Nashville at the Nashville Public Library and the War Memorial Auditorium. Some of my favorite authors were there, and some I have yet to read their books but I instantly wanted to after hearing their panels. The writing processes, the leaps of faith, the points of inspiration, or the internal struggles people are managing that all come through in their stories, completely fascinate me.

Yesterday, I read a quote from Tom Hanks. “God gave all of us burdens, and some of us typewriters.” Have you read more true words? He has a point. (Partially talking to myself here because there are things I’ve been neglecting to write, and the words are screaming to get out. I believe when that happens, we owe it to ourselves to write those stories, those words, even if another pair of eyes never sees them.)
Anyway, years ago I read Marina Keegan’s words for the first time, and they struck a chord so deep in me, that I feel like some of the passages settled inside and have remained there. I often think of her words. I’ll be in the midst of a great moment with friends, (the kind when you realize how wonderful it is, while it’s happening) and I’ll think back to her Opposite of Loneliness essay. There are other occasions this happens too, long car rides, or late night adventures that make it feel as if youth will never fade. Maybe it’s weird? But I don’t think so. I think it’s just the work resonating with a reader, and don’t you secretly wish that the words will resonate with someone when you write them?
So, I was attending this book festival with one of my most favorite girl friends in all the land. We met the weekend before college started, when we were both eighteen and knew immediately we were kindred spirits. Of course, in the beginning we bonded over our shortness, and Gilmore Girls and One Tree Hill love, the thrill of making pina coladas in a blender, or creating ridiculous matching costumes for date functions, and how the bookshelves in our dorm rooms housed some of the same wonderful YA authors. But later on of course that friendship transcended into so much more. Good times, and not the best of times, but all things that strengthened our bond in the end. (I write all of that because Keegan’s work made me think a lot about the relationships we have in our lives, and what becomes of them.) So after attending a few author panels we went outside where there was an array of vendors – book sellers, local authors, food trucks, etc.
I paused in one tent, and I felt myself take in a sharp breath when my eyes crossed over The Opposite of Loneliness. Originally I’d checked it out from the library, and I don’t know why I didn’t own it yet. Except because obviously I was meant to find it that day. I immediately started gushing about it to my friend. I need to add because I just love the friendliness of people, and anyone who’s willing to talk to a stranger about books (because when we’re talking about books are we really strangers?) The guy next to us overheard me rambling about Big Little Lies and asked if he should get it for his girlfriend? Of course he should because it’s such a fun read and it doesn’t matter if she watched the show because reading their characters from the page is a great thing!
Anyway, back to my story….I knew I couldn’t leave without it, (and a copy of a biography on Harper Lee called I Am Scout, that I’m so excited to read.) When I went to pay for it, the man asked me if I’d heard of The Opposite of Loneliness before, or what struck my interest in it? I explained how I’d read it a few years earlier, and her words had stayed with me ever since. We locked eyes in that moment, (and not in a weird way, but in the way, where you and this person you’d never talked to five seconds earlier, had a complete understanding transpire in an instant.) He told me he felt the same way, and that’s why he knew he had to carry it in his selection. He went on to say, how unfortunate it was that she died in a car accident and we aren’t able to see what more she would have written, what she would’ve become. I swear in that moment, I had to hold back my tears in the middle of Church street. We agreed we’re lucky to have the words from her that we do. I know, it’s such a small moment but to me it meant so much all at once. I mean, it’s my favorite thing on the planet to do…encounter people you share a niche interest with, and even for a moment in time can bond over. Our conversation spread from there, as he asked what brought me to Nashville, and what area of town I was living in. He then went on to tell me about a Motown Monday music night at a spot near me, and a funk night on the weekends, and some other gems I wasn’t totally aware of yet. It was just an all in all great interaction and I felt like it deserved to be written down.
Now, if I can connect with a stranger on a Saturday over how incredible The Opposite of Loneliness is, and what a shame it is that Marina Keegan’s life ended so soon…then if you haven’t read it yet, isn’t that reason enough?
meg says watch this, Watch This

Watch This: May It Last

78dec2d0ddd91b437ce46410b79e6f6cMy oh my, I don’t even know where to start with the Judd Apatow’s incredible documentary on The Avett Brothers, May It LastWhen it was first announced that the film would have a one night showing in theaters nationwide, prior to the release of the film on HBO in January, I was still living in Florida. The closest theater playing it was about two hours away, and it was a Tuesday. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to swing that, but the temptation was real. Well, I moved to Nashville Labor Day weekend, so it turned out that I was lucky enough to be about fifteen minutes from a theater playing it last week. From reading tons of posts of praise across social media, I knew I was in for something special, but I wasn’t prepared for how amazing it was. As a viewer in the audience, it felt like these people invited you into their homes (well, they did literally,) and gave such an intimate glimpse into their lives. The rawness and realness that is portrayed in the film is just something entirely unique. I have chills just trying to write about it. There are so many scenes in the film that made me love them even more than I did, prior to seeing it.

When Scott and Seth’s mom talks about how Scott didn’t trust her supervision skills of Seth when they were younger, and had an irrational fear of him being kidnapped and would insist on accompanying them anywhere. The boys talking about when Scott when off to college, they would record song ideas on one another’s voicemails, and mail cassette tapes back and forth. Finding out that Bob played for them in a parking lot, and basically did not have prior stand up bass experience! (Um, wow.) The emotional discussion of Hailey’s health journey after being diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and the way the whole crew rallied around one another. Them talking about how that was a real moment of figuring out faith, deciding what they believed. Seth and Jennifer talking about becoming parents. The discussion of divorce. The poignant moments following the recording of “No Hard Feelings” and the discussion of the elephant in the room. The emotion in that scene was so intense, that it almost seemed palpable. I almost felt uncomfortable as if we were seeing something we shouldn’t have permission to see because it was such a vulnerable conversation.
The scene where the boys are working through the lyrics to “Wish I Was” was  one of my most absolute favorite moments of the film. It was incredible to see how this stream of poetry just falls from their mouths in literal seconds. Their ability to bounce ideas off of one another and make it work so seamlessly is incredible. Following the transition from this scene, you could hear whispers throughout the theater. I have a feeling it was over the awe inspiring brilliance of the moment. I mean, Seth and Scott Avett are both masters of the craft but it was so intriguing to watch how obviously this is what they were born to do, music is the language that they speak.
There’s a time early on in the film where Scott is being interviewed as he drives. He discusses how growing up, and to this day, they all just thought that everyone would want to know their feelings on things, that they were supposed to share them, and that people wanted to hear them. That’s just the way they operated. (In that moment, I felt a sense of kindred spiritness. I mean, hey…that’s probably why I write this blog because I have an innate need to share my thoughts and feelings on the things I care about.)
One of the coolest parts of the film to me, was that person after person in one-on-one interviews, (so not overhearing someone speak it before them) touched on how special the relationship between Scott and Seth is, and that they don’t see brothers who have that connection like that often. Plus, the fact that they can work together the way that they do. This was extended to what an experience it is to work with the band, and how close and cohesive everyone is as a whole. Key terms that kept being repeated were the kindess, respect, and love shared across the board.
I think fans of The Avett Brothers have caught on to this because it’s obvious there’s something extremely special about this group of people. If you’ve ever seen them live, then you know they are literally opening their hearts up on that stage, and pouring it out. But the really cool thing is that now the rest of the world can see what makes this group so unique.
When watching May It Last, it’s not like “oh this will be a cool movie to see” it’s more like a journey or experience you are taking, or joining in. As soon as the film ended, I thought to myself “I can’t wait to see that again.” (Funny enough that’s the exact same reaction I have every time one of their concerts comes to a close. It’s why people travel across the country and see them play three nights in a row.) This film made me laugh and cry, and I can’t tell you how many times I caught myself grinning from ear to ear as I stared up at the screen (that was if my mouth wasn’t hanging open in awe over whatever new thing surprised me.)
PS: Encore dates have been added at certain theaters, so check out the list and see if there’s a showing near you!
(If you’re not convinced yet, you can check out the trailer below!)
meg says read this, Read This

Read This: The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas’s debut novel The Hate U Give has spent  about 24 weeks on the NYT Bestsellers list. That’s not a coincidence. If you haven’t ready this story yet, you’re missing out. I suggest you settle in for the roller coaster of emotions you’re about to experience when you finally dive into this heart wrenching, powerful, giant chunk of truth you’re about to devour.

I honestly believe this is one of those books that everyone should read, a book for all ages. Don’t let the category of “young adult fiction” turn you off (though, let me just say if it does? Get over it!) It’s a punch in the gut and a squeeze in the heart, but Thomas doesn’t shy away from anything. I wholeheartedly agree with John Green’s “stunning.” Seriously. (It’s heavy for a beach read, but anything is a beach read if you bring it with you right? I was just glad to have my sunglasses to shield my ugly cry.)

Starr Carter is just a teenager hanging out at a party, catching up with old friends, when a fight breaks out and everyone scatters. She catches a ride with a childhood buddy, and next thing you know – they’re getting pulled over by a cop. There’s so much aggression and tension in the situation even though neither of the teens were doing anything wrong. The situation escalates, and next thing you know Starr is holding the lifeless body of her friend as he dies in her arms at the hands of a cop.

Thomas explores such a tumultuous terrain in the story. Starr at first doesn’t want people to know she was involved. She doesn’t want the media attention. She doesn’t want her friends at school who don’t really know the reality of her life, to judge her. She starts to question everything around her. Whether her friends actually see her for who she really is? When I say Thomas explores a variety of terrain I mean – she goes down paths that lead to questions about applying stereotypes, preassigned notions to people or their actions. Do you think about what might lead a kid to sell drugs? One who doesn’t even do drugs himself? The options people have based on their living situations, but the desire to turn their lives around. Think about the undeniable link of family and the lengths that people will go to to help each other survive, at all costs. There are a lot of things to consider here, things to think about without making snap judgements and I think Thomas leads the reader through these – gently, but with the rush of reality. The wave of emotions – fear, hope, uncertainty – you pull for these characters, you see how they get backed into corners at time and feel stuck. You understand the decisions. Then there’s also the media portrayal, odd details that are emphasized even if there’s nothing to back them up – and then all of the pertinent information that’s excluded.

We live in wild times. Countless people have lost their lives for absolutely no reason. Maybe you have your own thoughts about this before hand. I think that by allowing you to get to know characters, their backstories, their families, their aspirations, their struggles – Thomas adds a layer of compassion that hopefully opens readers’ eyes to multiple sides of a story. Hopefully it makes them consider angles they haven’t before.

The Hate U Give made me cry, but it’s probably not for all of the reasons you might think. I cried because here was the story of a girl who had lost so much, got caught in the middle of an awful situation, wanted justice for her friend, wanted those she loved to be remembered for the amazing people they were. I cried because Starr finds her voice, and Thomas makes you feel like you’re standing next to her in the street as chaos rises all around them. I cried because maybe the Carters are a fictional family, but this story is real and it’s happening around us right now. I cried because it sucks that anyone has to experience this. I cried because it’s a shame that we’re having to fight to remind people the importance of human lives. That we’re all equal. I cried because it’s 2017 and why are we still here? But we are. And it’s important not to pretend that we’re not. It’s important to understand where people who are different than you are coming from. It’s important to remember that at the end of the day, despite differences in circumstance, socioeconomic status, etc. – we all have feelings, we all have friends and family, we all have more in common than different at the end of the day.
I most definitely, 1000% recommend this one. Read it, share it, talk about it. Go in with an open mind. Think about it.

The Hate U Give is now being made into a movie (with an amazing cast,) but I would definitely recommend reading the book before you watch!

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Meg Says Read This: Scrappy Little Nobody

scrappy-little-nobody-9781501117206_lg2017 has been off to an interesting start. I mentioned before I started reading A Game of Thrones which is great, but I just really needed to read a book that would make me laugh. Books can expand our horizons, provide an escape, a distraction, and some books can entertain us. In comes Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody as my first read of 2017. I laughed out loud reading this, continuously, hard, and sometimes until tears sprung in my eyes. Oh, Anna did I need those laughs. But also her book made me think a lot about our preconceived ideas of celebrity, and Hollywood. I can’t imagine being in a film at Sundance, and your peers having no idea, or worse just not caring a bit about it! Kendrick shares stories from her childhood, (I loved the one about how she got her first Broadway gig), her dating life, apartment living, how she still gets star struck, and everything in between. I was surprised to learn that Happy Christmas was filmed in eleven days, on an $80,000 budget, with  no script! And I guess, like Kendrick, I thought once you were famous people probably followed you around and basically made you keep yourself (and your house) together – surprise! They don’t. Kendrick writes with such ease, and honesty that it feels like it’s a friend telling you about her life. I felt like you could feel her anxiety about certain situations, or the frustration with  nothing productive happening on press tours (even if they’re necessary.) If you’re a shorty, petite girl I think you could really relate to this too. She touched on a lot of points, of experiences I’ve had all my life. (At 5 feet tall, with tiny feet, and still being able to wear clothes from first grade when I was in fifth grade – I felt like I’d just use my noise level and energy to make up for my lack of size. Anna Kendrick sounds like she totally got this!) She talks about insecurities, but also about the things she knows she should just say “screw you” about if someone has a problem. She sounds like she really takes pride in her work, and invests in the relationships she develops with her coworkers but she’s super open about the time she’s not on a job she’s at home chilling in sweatpants, watching Netflix, eating take out. She sounds like the rest of us doesn’t she? (Adulting, hmm…)  Kendrick mentions multiple times that she hopes while reading her book, the reader feels less alone – well girl, I think you more than accomplished that task. I would definitely recommend this book. It lifted my spirits a little, and it reminded me that although our paths might look different, we’re all kind of floating around in the same boats.