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Meg Says Read This: Dear Mr. You

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One of my favorite reads of 2017 also happened to be one of the last books I read this past year. Let me start off by saying, I’ve always been captivated by Mary-Louise Parker’s acting skills. I think it’s  phenomenal how she can play such a variety of characters, and make the audience believe those traits are a part of her core. I remember when Dear Mr. You, was first being marketed back in 2015. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to read it because I was fascinated by the premise. Now that I have? I can’t shut up about it. I’d been in a bit of a reading rut, fiction hadn’t captured my attention as quickly as usual, and I didn’t want to read something technical, so I grabbed this book from my stack of “to-read” on the shelf. Instantly I was blown away by MLP’s ability to weave such beautiful words together. She truly is a master of the art of story telling. This book is written in a letter format that basically reads like essays, or short stories. There’s a variety of topics covered – dating, insecurity, adoption, friendship, learning yourself. Sometimes, she writes in such a raw and vulnerable way that hit me so hard, I had to take a break with tear streaked cheeks. Not in a heartbreaking way, but in a beautiful way that was totally recognizing the special qualities or difficulty of certain moments in life. This was definitely a thought-provoking read, at times comical, and all around it felt very genuine and sincere. If you’re looking for something that’s refreshing, and a little different than I highly suggest you check out Dear Mr. You. 

If you’ve ever felt like you’ve lived a dozen different lives in your time on earth, and sometimes it’s mind boggling how they all could roll into one another and be the map of one single life – than I think you’ll appreciate this book. If you’ve ever snapped at a stranger who meant you know harm because you were literally at your wits end and they were the unfortunate soul to cross your path? You’ll appreciate this book. If you’ve leaped head first into romantic adventure knowing whatever fate you crash into has to be better than to sit on the sidelines wondering? You’ll appreciate this book. If you feel like you know what you want to do in life, and you’re taking all the wrong roads to get there? You’ll appreciate this book. If you’ve connected with random passerbys and your interactions resonate with you years later, you’ll appreciate this book. If you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing with your life, and some days you’re hanging on by a thread? You’ll appreciate this book.

Mary-Louise Parker writes in such a way where sharing her experiences so openly, even if they’re not all specific events you could name – sometimes, they’re the observation of significant interactions – makes you examine the interactions in your own life. Who is your emergency contact? What do you want so badly out of this life that you will scrape by to achieve those goals? What makes you find the magic, on the days when life looses its sparkle?

Dear Mr.You is poetic, soul-searching, gut-wrenching, insightful, and truly just a work of art that aspire to harness just a sliver of the talent it took to create. If my gushing hasn’t convinced you already, just go ahead and give this one a try.

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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!)
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Listen to This: “Praying” by Kesha

First of all – Happy Friday everyone! Second of all – I apologize for the lack of frequent posts recently. Things have been a little crazy over here, but I have a few things in mind I’d like to share with you. One of them being Kesha’s “Praying.” The whole Rainbow album is hands down – fantastic. But there is something extremely special about this song in particular. “Praying” was released in July, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it for a bit. The first time I heard it, I got chills and started crying. I’ve yet to listen to it, without tears coming to my eyes.My top adjective to describe this song? Powerful. Kesha is a powerful force, as a human, with her art, with her strength. I keep thinking about the metaphor of a Phoenix rising from the ashes. But really…Here we have this woman who has been through the ringer, and a lot of it in the public eye. I read an interview the other day where she talked about her time in in-patient rehab for her eating disorder, and how her time with the piano when she worked on Rainbow, she kept singing it to herself to get her through. I know music has an entertainment value, but it’s also an extremely influential tool in spreading your message. It’s amazing that someone who could’ve let her first single in years be fueled with rage and hate – yet…I think this is a song of grace. This woman has found peace. Can you hear the honesty in her voice? Do you hear the vulnerability? Because I think it’s all there. But I also think this is someone who has been through hell (as the lyrics referenced,) and has come out on the other side…though all of our experiences shape us as people, she seems to have evolved and come out on top despite the ultimate attempts to drag her to to the bottom. “We both know all the truth I could tell” Kesha sings. Light has been shed on parts of her battle, but I’m sure there are countless details we will never know. I just really believe in the raw authenticity of this song. It’s like an anthem – an anthem for those who have struggled with all kinds of traumatic experiences. Abusive relationships, mental illness, assault, the crappy cards we get dealt in life sometimes. I just think the message here can really resonate with listeners, and I have so much respect for Kesha for using her voice, her unmistakable talent to create this. In a time when others create “revenge” songs. Here we have this woman speaking her truth, and she’s doing it with poise. This song in itself shows such an evolution from the artist who brought us “Tik Tok.” When I think of Kesha, and I think of her art, her strength, her courage, her ability to be so real I just feel so proud of her. That probably sounds weird coming from someone who doesn’t personally know her, but she’s shared enough of her story with us to know that she’s come out on the other side of a very dark time, and she is glowing.

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Meg Says Listen to This: Dashboard Confessional throwbacks

A few weeks ago I went to see the Taste of Chaos tour with some friends. That night brought on an onslaught of memories to my days and nights of teenage angst. Dashboard Confessional headlined. It’s not the first time I’d seen Chris Carabba preform, but I have to say he is really on his game these days. He transitioned from one song to the next and fit so many in, I was shocked. I loved that he went back to his first albums, and really got into the old stuff. The little emo kid inside of me was having a time warp party.
The lawn was closed, so we were all upgraded to seats. Our gang took over a center row, and while we waited for the show to start we reminisced about our younger years listening to these bands. I don’t think I quite realized, up until that moment, how utterly connected everyone sitting in that amphitheater was – in an invisible way. As we shared stories I found so many of us were those emotionally sensitive kids, going through a really hard time in our teenage years. These songs were the soundtracks to each of us holed up in our rooms, or awake in the middle of the night thinking about someone across town. I remember how desperately sad I was at some of my lowest points – the kind that’s hard to see around, the kind that makes you doubt there’s a time ahead of you where you won’t feel like that. As I looked around me at all the people singing their hearts out along to these songs. Lyrics we hadn’t sang in years, readily available in our minds- I realized something that gave me a shiver. All of us who’d hit those low points, who knows what happened over the last 15 years but we’d made it. Here we were, in a different spiral of days. And I smiled because I should always remember the present moment isn’t all we have left. Emotions are ephemeral (an old favorite vocab word), life keeps evolving and changing. Even with all that nostalgia swirling around, it was impossible not to love every minute. I’ll admit though, there were a few moments where I could feel myself slipping into the feelings associated when I hear these songs. “Ender Will Save Us” and “Best Deceptions” were two of those songs for me. They  just hit just the right spot in my tender heart, and I had to laugh before I cried. If your teenage days lacked the joy of DC as a soundtrack, here’s a listen now:

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Read This: “Now I’ll Tell You Everything”

The first book I read this year was kind of a bizarre experience. In January, I finally got my hands on a copy of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Now I’ll Tell You Everythingwhich is the final novel in the Alice McKinley series. Just like the author promised, years ago, readers find out…everything.

Be prepared, NITYE is a long one, but considering it’s the last and it has to take you through Alice’s college adventures and give glimpses throughout the rest of her life, it ought to be! I’ll admit, I haven’t read the last few titles in the Alice series, but a younger version of me still hanging out in my heart, just had to know what happened. Did Alice become a psychologist or a counselor, did she marry Patrick, what about Liz and Pamela and Gwen? How about Lester, was he a bachelor forever or what? And Alice’s dad and Sylvia what about them? Where did everyone move off to – what were they like in college? Who became parents, who kept in touch? And it was easy to get sucked right back into the story. Some of the plot points I was expecting, and then others were sweet surprises. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book if you haven’t read any of the other Alice books, but if you were a fan at any point in life, I think you owe it to yourself to see how Naylor wrapped everything up.  It was kind of bittersweet reading that last chapter. I’ll admit a few tears leaked out. I kind of felt like some part of my childhood was wrapping up, even if I’m not a child anymore.

When I was in middle school, my mom was awesome enough to drive me to a meet and greet Phyllis Reynolds Naylor was having at a Barnes and Noble in Florida. She signed one of my books, and took a photo with me, and I thought it was one of the coolest days ever. I remember reading on her blog when I was younger, that she did try to write ahead, “just in case” something were ever to happen, so fans would know how she wanted the series to end. (I always thought that was such a nice gesture.) Back then I tried to imagine where I’d be in my own life when I’d finally find out how Alice McKinley ended up. In a way, it made me feel more like a “grown up” then a lot of things in life have, but it also let me connect with the awkward tween who first identified with Alice and all of her embarrassing moments growing up. They seem like such a staple. I remember being so excited when some girlfriends borrowed the books from me after a sleepover. I felt like the books would help them through some things (as all the best books do!)

If you haven’t yet, check out in the final edition of Alice’s journey! As for you, I’m curious: did you read the Alice books when you were younger? Did you relate? Let me know!

And as a little bonus, here’s a photo flashback to when I met her at that B&N: