Spring Breakers: Insane, or Brilliant? [SPOILERS!!]

Tonight I got to play with Gypsy (improv group) at The Magnet for the Rundown, which was great fun, if not really amazing, and then after some shuffling of plans, ended up randomly seeing Spring Breakers, one of the new films James Franco is in. I’d listened to the Slate Culture Gabfest discussion of the film, and it kind of made me curious. And I’m actually super glad I saw it. And even more glad that I listened to their discussion of it before seeing it, because I feel like this is not a movie you should walk in blind to.

So first of all, I just want to describe the feel–flashy, lots of bright and obnoxious colors, fluorescent lights, and boobs and butts galore. So many bikinis. The opening scene is just girls shaking their butts and naked breasts with alcohol being sprayed all over them in the ocean and on the sand. And it was such a strange combination of titillating and yet really creepily not sexy at all. Like, it was too ostentatious to be really sexually appealing.

After stealing money from a local restaurant with a water gun and sledgehammer, the ladies go to St. Petersburg, FL to see a world different than what they’re used to. And meet Alien, Franco’s character, who is really into money and guns. And also shorts and cologne, much like this guy.

My favorite scene in the movie, and the moment I really started to believe this film is seriously satire was when three of the girls, dressed in one piece swim suits with generously cut out sides, ridiculous pink masks, sweat pants with “DTF” (Down To Fuck, for anyone not familiar with this phrase) printed on the butts, gently carrying AK-47s, stood around a gorgeous white baby grand piano at Alien’s house, by the pool, with an incredible ocean view. They ask him to play a sensitive song, and he proceeds to play (and sing) Britney Spears’ (an “angel on Earth, according to Alien) “Everytime.” This is perhaps the weirdest scene I’ve ever seen in a movie. The screenshot is used for one of the posters:

Spring Breakers, movie poster


Strange. Also a key that the movie is really not supposed to be taken seriously, in my opinion.

Subsequently, one of the girls gets shot in the arm by Alien’s enemy/childhood best friend. She goes home, and the other two girls seek revenge; Alien gets killed in the process, while the girls go on a shooting spree, leaving many of the gang the enemy is a part of, including him, dead. And then they go back to school.

There was lots of gratuitous violence/showing off of guns & cash, and MANY shots of boobs and butts, which were entirely unavoidable, sometimes boobs taking up the ENTIRE SCREEN. But my take is that that’s sort of the point. The film feels (and I don’t know how to explain this really, or why it is exactly) sexual, but in a dirty, creepy way, as I say. It feels like it’s forcing you to be turned on, if that makes sense? But like, not in a fun way. In a forceful, violent way. And through that violence, for lack of a better phrase, the film jolts you into recognizing how unfulfilling these things are, and how demoralizing the concept of spring break can be. Repetition is used throughout the film and creates sort of a strange alternate universe, particularly Alien saying, “Sprang braake 4eva.” It’s eery. The whole movie is. But I kind of loved it.

Dates with Myself

So I’ve been doing this experiment of sorts, taking myself on dates. When I see something interesting that I want to go to, instead of asking someone else to go with me first and waiting to see if I can get a “date” (friend or otherwise), I just buy myself a ticket and put it in my calendar. And then I go. By myself.

I haven’t really done this before, but New York City lends itself to this attitude. It’s not weird to go to anything by yourself here, and there’s always someone to talk to if you really want to.

Date 1 was Hanna Rosin’s talk as part of her book tour for The End of Men a few weeks ago. I was slightly intimidated, and admit I felt a bit embarrassed at how excited I was to get to see all of my Slate journalism idols–Hanna Rosin, of course, but also her husband, David Plotz, as well as Emily Bazelon and Jessica Grose. I didn’t actually get to meet them all, but I felt oddly star-struck just seeing them, as I’ve read their words and heard their voices on so. many. podcasts.

I really enjoyed the actual conversation and had been reading the book, so it felt fresh and exciting. But I did feel awkward afterward, when other people were just shooting the shit with other people they’d come with. Still, I pushed myself to actually introduce myself to Hanna and David both (and I’ve met Emily at another event), and then I left. Still cool.

Date number 2 was by far the most expensive (excepting the shopping accoutrements of date #3, which I’ll get to)–“Sleep No More,” the renowned performing arts experience that’s been extended because of such intense demand multiple times for, I believe, over a year. It’s a “play,” but one that you can walk through, spanning 5 floors of the McKittrick Hotel, which is fictional. The whole experience is super spooky, though I highly recommend it. More eloquent words have been written than my own about the description, so I’ll skip that, and just suffice to say that I am so glad I went by myself. I felt a freedom to explore this alternate world that I don’t think I could have with someone else. And I got a weirdly intimate experience. It was the perfect solo date.

Tonight, I went to see economics Professor Joseph Stiglitz speak about his book, The Price of Inequality, which I’ve also read. Though the talk unfortunately coincided with the first presidential debate, I got some nice quality time at dinner and then Sephora prior to the event, and it was cool to hear what he and the other speakers said. Not an awkward moment. I got a discount on my ticket because I was under 35 (yes. Thirty-five. I have 9 more years to use a youth discount. I guess I am young, especially in the academic/intellectual world??), and I was definitely one of the younger people in the audience. But worth a try. A nice evening of Shannon time.

That and improv practices, plus some real dates thrown in occasionally, and life isn’t so shabby. My 10K in a few weeks is gonna be killer. But there are more 10Ks. I’m not one to keep doing the same thing anyway. And I’m practicing not getting down on myself for not doing everything perfectly. There is always time to improve.

Man, Life is Boring!

I mean that in a good way. Things are just…keeping on keeping on. Seriously, nothing exciting, but all good things! Improv, work, sleep, some running, a little baking…it’s all good! Trying to actually make a concerted effort to make more food instead of eating out, so maybe if I keep doing that consistently, I’ll actually have some more money! Wouldn’t that be lovely??

Planning my trip to Europe, also going (for work) to Portland and Washington, DC in November, both of which I am super excited about. I get to do presentations and travel a little, go to conferences (which will be awesome! Love conferences!) and just…shake things up, you know? And then hopefully DR in January, then Europe for 3 friggin’ weeks in April/May, which, seriously, I can’t even begin to explain how I excited I am about. THREE WEEKS!! OF NO WORK, and just, traveling! Photos! Fun! Stories! Blogging! Friends! Carefree-ness! Ugh cannot wait.

So there you go. I’m a little frustrated because I was planning on taking a class on Mondays, but that seems to not have worked out; the class was cancelled. Lame. I’m trying to look at it as an opportunity to explore other options, and maybe I’ll start actually applying for school. I am feeling a little antsy, as I do this time of year, when I realize it’s the longest time from when I could possibly start school, and also the time when I’d have to apply for school if I want to go in a year, which I never know it I do. Anyway, that’s what’s up on my side of the world. Like I say. Pretty boring. But excellent :-).

Eve of My 26th Year

It is the day before I turn 26, completing the first year of my second quarter of life on this planet. And I’m feeling pretty reflective.

The past year has been pretty spectacular. I started running, ended the first real relationship that I thought would last, and re-started improv. And I have maintained the improv and running both for nearly 10 months, working on both of them gradually and with very little self-judgement about how quickly I’m improving; really doing each of them for fun, for the enjoyment of the moment. Tonight, I get to play in a Ladies Improv Event, We Might Just Kiss at the theater where I’ve been taking classes. I feel so lucky that I’ve had the opportunities I’ve had so far, and this is certainly one of them. I’m definitely nervous, but also really excited. Improv has I think certainly added more than I could’ve hoped to my life, and I’m so so glad I started taking classes. I’m looking forward to what more it will bring, socially, emotionally and artistically to my life.

Running has made me all around feel better about myself–my appearance, endurance, ability to push myself (but not too much!!) and my commitment to things, after successfully completing a half marathon. I’m pretty friggin’ proud of that, maybe more than I’ve been proud of anything else I’ve done in my life, because it was harder for me personally than anything else I’ve done. It took me committing, sticking to something that I most of the time didn’t really like, and even more difficult for me, not being mad at myself when I failed to reach a goal, but to just get back up and keep going. And I did it! So really really, I am proud of that.

Relationship-wise, I have just been trying to move on and distract. Never easy. I don’t think I’ve done an awful job of it, but it’s hard, and continues to be a challenge.

All in all, though, it has been a great year.  The first year I have felt really comfortable in my adult skin, I think, and settled into the idea that this is what adulthood is.  Not anything spectacular, but maleable.  I can make this something that I like.  And I can like what I make it.  I’ve recognized the importance of patience, and of listening to what makes me happy and responding to that, without judging it.

So Happy Birthday to Me, and onto another year, with more adventures.


Social Running

I took a little break from running after completing a half-marathon in Nashville a few weeks ago. And then I had oral surgery (dental implant), and during a recovery period, couldn’t run. So I ended up going a little over 2 weeks between running 13.1 miles and my next run, of 4 miles. It’s been beautiful–high time for running. Warm but not too warm. Sunny.

I realized something when in Nashville for the half about my running. First, I should note that I rarely have motivations that are not in some way social. Not necessarily directly and in a micro kind of a way, but more about being in a community, being part of something that is social. And I had thought of running as a way to maintain some of my friendships and relationships, a connection of that sort. But I hadn’t realized how much my running habits had, somewhat by nature of the city and community I live in, been social. I trained all on my own. I didn’t have anyone to go on runs with, and the only runs I went on while training were when I was visiting someone.

But I run at a track. And I realized I had been studying the people at this track, and the culture there. The middle of the track has a soccer field, and there is a Polish population north of the park where the track is, and a Mexican population nearby, as well as I believe Dominican/Puerto Rican (really, you can’t go far in New York without there being a Dominican or Puerto Rican population…).

So the Poles and Mexicans often are out in what seem to be pretty organized soccer games, and then there are the runners. The soccer players are regularly accompanied by their wives/girlfriends/children. So there are lots of kids playing around, acting as though the track is no different than any other piece of land. And the soccer balls come flying onto the track with some regularity. It is kind of beautiful, though I have been hit (really hard) by a wild soccer ball, which was somewhat annoying. But I realize that I actually sort of relish the mix of populations. Awesome. It’s what I love about New York. So my running is social. Just in a cultural exploration kind of a way.

Jury Duty!

I’m super bored because I have jury duty today.  And who knows how long that will last.  I’m kind of liking it.  Listening to Justin Bieber’s new song, Boyfriend, writing some post(s???), reading some work stuff.  I just get to hang out!  That seems pretty awesome to me.  Also, this is fascinating.  I am continually impressed with how incredibly diverse Kings County (where Brooklyn is, and where I live, thus, where I am serving my jury duty) is.  It’s really quite amazing.  And we watched this silly little 15 minute video about jury duty, and I just realize what a unique institution our court system is.  Not to be too cheesy, but it’s kind of cool to be a part of that.  Even if that means waiting in a room all day.

Uhm, also, they have Wi-Fi!  So that’s pretty spectacular.  Just wish I’d brought my computer charger.  I’d be all about some laptoping then.

Aaanyway, if I have more sweet stuff to post about, I will do it in a bit.  For now, just listening to this silly song on repeat, and letting the joy of being a teenager seep into my pores.

Lean into the fear

90% of the time, I go to sleep thinking, “I am so fucking lucky.”. It’s not at all that my life is perfect. Far from it. But there are so many amazing things. I’m basically doing my dream job. And who knows how long it will continue to be that, but it allows me to pursue other interests as well, and I fucking love this city. It’s been a little over 3 years and 7 months, and I am still as head over heels as the day I met her. Again, not that there aren’t times when it’s annoying, when I’m frustrated by the lack of ability to grocery shop, or feel annoyed by all the friggin’ people. But overall, this place is magical. Seriously. And I have so. much. I can’t even complain because it’s all so amazing. I get to work with and influence people. I get to make a difference in people’s lives. I get to play with improv. I get to run. Part of me is scared shitless that I will lose it all somehow, instantly, and I fight that shit every day. But I am winning so far. I will not let that swallow me. I have discovered the best way for me to fight is to walk right into it. Improv and running have both been arenas where I’ve practiced this. Some days, I don’t want to do either. And some days I don’t. Others, I just do. And then it feels amazing. I don’t ever make myself. It is always a choice. I always end up choosing to go or do, but it’s recognition that that is a choice for the long term, and not giving into hedonistic, momentary tendencies. And I have learned (over time) to not judge the choice I make. Because sometimes it is amazing to just give in, and sometimes it’s totally okay.

New York City, I still love you!

Things I am doing this month

I made no New Year’s resolutions, so instead, I am making some February resolutions.

  • organizing & taming my articles

I have TONS of articles on Instapaper and Google Reader that I still haven’t read.  It’s hard to keep up when I get like, 200 every friggin’ day.  But I try.  So I want to cut down to those I really want to read, and read the ones I really want.

  • organizing & taming my passwords

I’ve been using LastPass for quite some time now.  If you haven’t used anything to store your passwords, it is pretty spectacular–it securely saves your passwords, personal information, etc in a portable (but secure!!) way.  I have a bunch of repeat websites and want to put everything into folders, as well as change some passwords that have been around for waaaay too long.  Fun times.

  • continuing to run

Running has still been going pretty well, but I need to maintain. That’s all!

  • taking improv classes


  • getting more shit done

This mostly pertains to work.  I just want to be on top of shit.

  • complete and submit my taxes

Nothing more to say here…

  • Visit NC

Next weekend, I’m going to NC to see my family, and pick out bridesmaids dresses for my best friend’s, Rachel, wedding.  Yay (?)! Also get to see one of my cousins, who I have not seen in 22 years.  Talk about a lifetime…PLUS I’ll get to go to a Carolina basketball game.  Spectacular!

  • Tweet

I’m really trying, in earnest, to make this Twitter thing make sense.  I’ve even attached it to my Facebook account (then you know I mean business, right??).  Follow along if you wish….

So. Amazing.  <3!!  If you haven’t watched, you should.  It’s definitely a little deliberate and slow, but hilarious and charming and pleasant.  Brilliant!

  • Clean

The apartment must be cleaned.  I don’t even want to express how ridiculous it is that that has to be on this list.  Whatever.  I buy toilet paper regularly.  That should count for something, right??


I am super excited about this most treacherously cold of months.  I feel so lucky that I have so much to look forward to, and have figured out a way to look forward to it.  Life truly is amazing.

The Weekend Again. Finally

I always forget how much I dislike the cold, and how much it gets to me, invades my bones and soul. Just kidding. Kind of. But I will be super happy when it starts getting warm again, already. How sad is that??

I’ve been struggling a little with getting back to running after both being sick and then when I’ve gotten better, it being so. cold. I’m working through it, and I’m super lucky (yay!) to have a gym on my roof, which I fully intend to take advantage of. For tonight, hanging out with the rommates. Chillin’. Maybe some pictionary man. Can’t wait to play improv games tomorrow with some wonderful ladies!

How to Enjoy Being Stuck on a Train

Real life!! Sometimes you get stuck in a train that for whatever reason, has decided to stop moving. Lesson #1: it’s more fun to be stuck on a train when you anthropomorphize the train. this is true of many things, but also of trains. It’s just having a little trouble today. Running a little sluggishly.

Usually there’s some kind of bullshit explanation that your actual conductor will provide. For example, “There is a power failure downtown.” Thanks, dude! That was super helpful at assisting in my survival for the next hour (let’s hope not…). I think my next lesson is much more helpful. Lesson #2: Ensure your smartphone battery is 100% charged going in. This could be also enhanced by a backup battery, which I have ordered. Conveniently, I followed this advice today, and I’m still at 95% as of this moment. This is something to be grateful for (Lesson #3: find small things to be grateful for). Other things to be grateful for? I have a seat. I am not pregnant. That one for do many reasons, but I feel like being stuck on a train pregnant would suck. And I’d probably have a panic attack that I was going to give birth in the train.

Unfortunately, I have not followed all previously learned lessons, because Lesson #5 is bring food. Always. And I do not have food with me today. Cough drops, yes. Real food? Sitting in my fridge.

Lesson #6: Blog. This is a new one, so maybe it should be noted as *possible* lesson. Seems prudent, perhaps even a good use of time. Maybe?

And look at that! We’re moving.

And I’m sure I’m boring you. But one more. Lesson #7: listen to shitty pop music. This one is sure to delight, even a hungry, tired Shannon. Night, y’all!!