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Thursday, September 15, 2011
The Lucky One
Mood:  lazy
Topic: Entertainment

Nothing cures a bad case of strep throat like a good ole Nicholas Sparks' novel. It's been awhile. 

This afternoon, I finished reading "The Lucky One," which I just found out, like most Sparks' books, is going to be a movie soon. Great!

The Lucky One is the story of Logan, a soldier who just got back from Iraq. He considers himself an average guy, until one morning, he sees the corner of a piece of paper sticking up out of the dirt.

What he discovers is the picture of a lady, wearing a shirt that says Lucky Lady across the front.

He puts the picture on a community bulletin board, hoping the person who lost it will retrieve it. However, days pass and no one claims it. He takes it back and carries it in his pocket. And from then on, wherever he goes, he gains a feeling of luck. He survives IEDs, wins poker games, etc...

On his return home to Colorado, he goes fishing with a friend who tells him he thinks the picture is his destiny. That he owes the woman in the picture something for all of the luck she brought him. Although Logan didn't believe in destiny, his friend in the boat did. And moments after he spoke those words to Logan, the boat caught fire, killing him.

Logan then decided to find this woman in the picture, sending him on a journey across the country to North Carolina (where else) where this woman, Beth lived and worked.

He applied for a job at her vet clinic, and they soon became friends. He met her son, her mother, and even her ex-husband. And shortly, they fell in love.

But he never told her about the picture, or the real reason he came to Carolina. And soon, her ex husband catches on, and tells Beth that Logan is a stalker and that he is dangerous.

So, who will win the fight over Beth—the ex or Logan? How will the story end? We all know someone is going to die—that's just Sparks' style.

Honestly, this is the first Sparks' book that confused me at the end. The end of the book made me think one thing and then the epilogue was completely different—anyone know something I don't?

It's a good book, but not my favorite of Sparks'. 


Posted by wittywriter7 at 12:01 AM CDT
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Sunday, September 11, 2011
102 Minutes That Changed America
Mood:  blue
Topic: Politics

This morning, I awoke to an alarm I'd set last night. It was 7:30—17 minutes before I had planned to watch 102 Minutes That Changed America. 

I'd seen the previews for the documentary for weeks. The smallest fact that it was being shown at the exact time (8:47 on the East coast) the attacks happened ten years prior gave me chills.

The documentary was made of pure video footage from everyday people, who were in New York that frightening morning.

It started two minutes after the first plane hit, and jumped from video to video—some were newscasters, some were residents, some were moms, others were first responders.

It wasn't anything I hadn't seen before...but I found myself wondering about questions that had already been answered. What time does the second plane hit? Why do I remember those people running; why were they running? Oh, right the towers collapsed. Does the first tower fall before the second plane hit?

My mind had done me a favor and blocked the images from my memory that I was now trying to piece together.

About 45 minutes in, a camera is showing the view from an apartment window. The tower is smoking, the camera woman is talking with her sister...who sounds as if she is also in the room.

And then, she screams. The second plane hit.

And for the first time, I cried for September 11—today and ten years ago.

When the attacks happened 10 years ago, I was 16. I didn't know about Al-Qaeda. I just knew it was scary. And I remember seeing footage of other countries happy for our loss.

Since then, I've thought a lot about that day. On each 11th of September, I think about it. But not like today. Today, I cried.

Today, I wondered what it would be like to tell my child one day about September 11.

One of my editors wrote a column last week about how, for the first time, September 11 meant nothing to her—that it was just the day after September 10.

I could not disagree more. I hope that I never forget September 11, how it changed our country, how it changed me, and how lucky I am to be free.

God bless America.   


Posted by wittywriter7 at 11:19 AM CDT
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Monday, September 5, 2011
Magnetic makeup
Mood:  sharp
Topic: La vie

With all the hype from Tropical Storm Lee this weekend, I planned to stay indoors on Sunday and get something done—particularly a crafty project I’ve been thinking about for awhile.

I got the idea one morning after a usual browse through The Frisky, when they mentioned the idea on this blog: Makeup Magnet Board

A magnetic makeup board! This would display all of my different eye shadows that I usually keep hidden under my sink, while at the same time being useful.

However, a lot of my décor in my apartment are things I’ve made, painted, or put together myself. I often worry that my place looks okay to me, but like “Holly Hobby” to everyone else.

So, if I was going to make this board, I needed to make it right, and take my time—something I have trouble doing.

On Saturday, I went to Hobby Lobby with a list of all the materials I would need. I already had the magnetic board and frame, so I just need fabric or paper, magnets, and glue.

You would have thought this was a life-threatening decision. I spent hours inside Hobby Lobby looking for the perfect paper that would compliment the décor of my bathroom, and then deciding on cute little extras—ribbon.

Once I got home, I cleaned my frame and board. I realized the once bright white frame was a little dull. Luckily, I had some white paint leftover from a previous craft project, so I repainted the frame.

 

While that was drying, I got two empty pill bottles and covered them with the ribbon and paper, to be used as cups on the board for my brushes and mascara.

 

Next, I cut and glued the paper onto the board (being careful to match up the hounds tooth pattern the best I could).

 

And lastly, I glued magnets to the back of all the makeup I wanted to display. Most of it is eye shadows, but there is a blush and a lip palette, too.

 

The two pictures (one in the upper right corner and one in the lower center) are ones I took of my jewelry. I thought it would add something to the board, while filling space.

 

 

 

What do you think? Super chic, or Holly Hobby?

PS. I saw these boards on Etsy.com for $75-$150 a piece. Mine cost me $12. :) 


Posted by wittywriter7 at 12:01 AM CDT
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Sunday, September 4, 2011
The Happiness Project
Mood:  happy
Topic: La vie

Today, I finished a book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time—Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project.”

Rubin is the author of several other books including, “Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill,” and “Power Money Fame Sex: A User’s Guide,” among others.

“The Happiness Project” begins on a normal morning when Rubin is out and about. She catches her eye on a woman, crossing the street, while pushing a stroller and checking her cell phone. She realizes that’s her—just living life, letting the years pass her by, with no real thought or second guess.

And so, in that single moment, she decided to dedicate one year to happiness. She did a lot of research, reading books on how other people define happiness. She planned to start her year in January, with a chart full of resolutions.

She also created her own list of 12 Commandments. While she says everyone’s happiness project will be different, I am really fond of her commandments:

1. Be Gretchen, 2. Let it go, 3. Act the way I want to feel, 4. Do it now, 5. Be polite and be fair, 6. Enjoy the process, 7. Spend out, 8. Identify the problem, 9. Lighten up, 10. Do what ought to be done, 11. No calculation, 12. There is only love.

Starting in January, she followed a set of resolutions—each month had a different theme. While I won’t go into every month and detail, I will say this book was a real eye opener for me. There are many things about my life that I save for tomorrow, or even “one day,” and who knows when that day will come. Why not today? Why not now?

Along with many tips, reading suggestions, and tools to create your own happiness project, the back of the book contains a reading group guide. And boy do I love a reading group guide!

Question #2. The Happiness Project is packed with quotations. Which quotation resonated most with you? Do you have a quotation that has been particularly meaningful in your own life, one that you’ve included in your email signature, taped to your desk, for example?

One quote (among many) in the book that resonated with me was, “The days are long, but the years are short.” For whatever reason, as I’ve gotten older, a year seems to come and go, without me really getting in the habit of writing the correct year on my notes.

Although we, as people, tend to measure things in years, I’ve never really been one to make New Year’s resolutions. While I may not create extensive charts and do hours of research to make myself happier, one thing I can do is take one day at a time and appreciate the present for what it is.

As a writer, there are many quotes that inspire me for different reasons. One, I have taped on my fridge:

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” –Omar Khayyam

Some others I really love:

“If you are going to doubt something, doubt your limits.” –Don Ward

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” –Goethe

“Never give up on something you cannot go a day without thinking about.” –Unknown 

“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared to believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.” –Bruce Barton

“Be yourself. There is something you can do better than any other. Listen to the inward voice and bravely obey that.” –Unknown

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” –Jerry Dunn

I would recommend this book to anyone who feels like the years are passing them by without much meaning at all. In the meantime, check out Gretchen’s blog at: The Happiness Project


Posted by wittywriter7 at 12:01 AM CDT
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Saturday, September 3, 2011
The Help
Mood:  energetic
Topic: Entertainment

Amidst running a ton of errands today, I made a special note to stop by the movie theatre to see The Help.

While I wanted to, and still want to, read the book, I also didn’t want to miss seeing it in the theatre. So, there I went.

The Help (movie) is based off of a fictional book, which is based off of a true story (that was written in a book). Whew! 

 

This story is truly complex. For starters, it is the story of a girl who wants to be a serious journalist (ah, don’t we all?). She revels in a job she gets at the local (Jackson, Mississippi) paper writing a column focused around house cleaning. Although she has friends, she is generally seen as an outcast because she isn’t married or dating, she works, and she just isn’t as wealthy as her peers.

Hrmm…this story is hitting home!

Although I’m unsure of her motivation, Skeeter (the journalist) wants to interview and write a book from the point of view of the help. I am assuming she gains her insight from witnessing her friends treat their maids/nannies poorly because they’re black—separate bathrooms, kitchen utensils, etc.

To Skeeter’s surprise, her venture is illegal, so she must find a way to make the help open up, while keeping their jobs safe.

When the book is released, the town is awkened to an entirely new point of view. But unfortunately, that doesn’t mean things will change for the better. Even Skeeter learns a lot about her family, and their treatment of her nanny growing up.

I’ll leave the ending a surprise. However, I will say this is one of the most emotional movies I’ve seen in years, if ever. Even the guy next to me was crying. But, there is plenty of room for laughter in this film, too. 

 

What I love most about this movie is that is drives home a point that I’ve spent years, as a journalist, trying to prove—everyone, even the janitor, has a story to tell. 


Posted by wittywriter7 at 12:01 AM CDT
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Friday, September 2, 2011
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Mood:  celebratory
Topic: Entertainment

After a grueling workout at the gym tonight, I swung by my nearest RedBox to see what was in stock.

As with any RedBox, it was a mixed bag of choices. I really wasn’t in the mood for a romantic comedy, so I picked a flick I wanted to see in the theatre, but missed—Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules.

The movie is based off a popular book series, which I haven’t read (shocker, right?), but follows Greg Heffley as he suffers from middle-child syndrome. He’s got the bratty baby brother who catches him doing mildly bad things (stashing candy bars for example), and an older brother who thinks he’s too cool for school (lead band member for ”Loded Diaper”).

And so, he is left trying to be the good son, while fitting in with his older brother. A tough task, indeed.

Although he doesn’t have many lines in the movie, his friend, Rowley, is truly the star of this movie—his facial expressions kept me laughing the entire movie.

I'm sure you saw this part in the previews (Greg and Rowley's attempt at a viral video):

Don't Stop

So, will he fit in with his family, or will he be left to fend for himself until graduation? You’ll have to watch and see.

Yes, this movie was cute and funny. But I will say, I’m glad I only had to pay $1 for it. 


Posted by wittywriter7 at 12:01 AM CDT
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Monday, August 29, 2011
Breaking Night
Mood:  accident prone
Topic: Entertainment

I just finished reading Liz Murray's, "Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey From Homeless to Harvard."

As you can tell from the title, it is an interesting book—riveting, and nonetheless inspiring.

Murray was born and raised by drug addicts. Her mom and dad ouldn't maintain jobs, so they lived off the government, often blowing their monthly check within a few days—mostly spending it on drugs, maybe a little on food for Liz and her sister Lisa.

Often, there was no food, and the girls would live off of toothpaste and chapstick.

From the time she was old enough to go to school, Liz often skipped, and was threatened by social workers to straighten up, or she would be put into a home.

Later, Liz's mother broke the news—she had AIDS. Shortly after she was diagnosed, she entered an affair and moved in with her new boyfriend, leaving Liz with only her father.

But soon, Liz was taken into the system and placed in a group home because of her truancy record.

After a semester in the home, she moved in with her mother, the boyfriend, and her sister. There, she continued to skip school and was witness to her mom's alcohol problems, not to mention the disease that was slowly killing her.

It wasn't long after this when the book's subtitle kicks into play—homeless to Harvard.

Liz moves out on her own, faces even tougher situations than I've mentioned here, and makes it to Harvard. Or, as she puts it, she knocks down her brick wall.

Today, Liz has dedicated her life to inspiring others in order to make their dreams come true, also. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves stories, and to anyone who is looking for a little inspiration. 


Posted by wittywriter7 at 3:45 PM CDT
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Thursday, August 25, 2011
2011...so far
Mood:  mischievious
Topic: La vie

It's hard to fathom that 2011 is already half over...where did it go?

Over the last few weeks, I've been making a conscious effort to remind myself of my goals, and perhaps those resolutions that I made so many months ago.

Okay, so I don't really make resolutions, but I'm trying to keep myself in check. Each year, at the end of December, I sit down and take a look at the things that have happened over the previous year.

But why do it just then?

So I took a look today...and it was a great reminder that I've got some things to do before the year is over.

So far this year, I've read 19 books this year. Last year, I read 27 books...can I read at least 9 more in three months to beat last year? I hope so!

I've only been to the movies 9 times. This is something I need to work on...I say "work," it's fun! I need to make more time for the movie theatre.

Clearly, I've been spending a majority of my time writing articles for freelance work or for full-time work because so far, I've written more than 26 of them.

And some other stuff? I gave a presentation at a social media workshop, I fell in love with Justin Bieber, saw Harry Connick Jr. in concert, and survived hours in the dentist's chair.

So...here's to ending 2011 on a strong note! 


Posted by wittywriter7 at 12:24 PM CDT
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011
3-minute fiction
Mood:  happy
Topic: Writing

Earlier this week, one of my coworkers sent me a challenge: write a 500-word piece of fiction that begins with the line, "Some people swore that the house was haunted." and ends with, "Nothing was ever the same again after that."

Here is what I came up with:

The Beliebers 
By Holly A. Phillips
 
Some people swore that the house was haunted. 
 
But I didn’t care. After all, I wasn’t sure how much I believed in ghosts anyway. 
 
It was a simple dare: go to Justin Bieber’s house—the one that was supposedly haunted—steal a single strand of his blond hair, and get out of there unnoticed. 
 
It was a no brainer. I wanted to see the Bieb’s house, after all. But everyone said the noises coming from the house were freaky—blood-curdling screams, deep chortles. 
 
How could it be? The Bieb was so sweet, so innocent. It didn’t make sense. 
 
I had seen my fair share of scary movies. The characters in them did give me nightmares. But it was the masks, the bloody knives, and the small children that bothered me more than anything. Not some silly ghost laughing. 
 
I could picture it now, creeping up to Justin’s house and opening the door…just in time to catch him and Usher in a full-on dance spectacular!
 
So I took the dare, even though it wasn’t a double-dog dare. 
 
And on that Thursday night, just after a fresh episode of Project Runway, I dressed myself in all black. 
 
I felt like I was back in high school, on my way to slap a few fresh eggs on my ex-boyfriend’s car. 
 
But this, this was something a little different. I was going to be in the presence of the Bieb. I was even going to touch his hair. 
 
I locked my door, skipped down the cement steps, and started the short walk to the infamous mansion. 
 
It was cool out, and quiet, aside from the occasional dog bark. I will admit it, walking alone was scary. I started thinking about all of those missing women in the headlines lately. Did they get snatched? Were they in the dumpster ahead?
 
I shook my head and told myself to grow up—since stalking Justin Bieber was so adult-like and everything. 
 
I rounded the corner and saw the house. It stood tall, the multiple roofs were pointed, shadowing over the sturdy brick structure. The yard was dark, but there were a few windows showing light inside. 
 
I don’t know what was more frightening—getting caught by someone in the house or going in when it was empty. 
 
Either way, I was on a mission. I had to get the job done. So I walked faster, my hands in tight balls, one grasping the plastic bag for Justin’s hair. 
 
When I reached the yard, I took a deep breath. This was the closest I’d ever been, yet I had no real plan on how I should get inside. 
 
I stuffed the bag in my pocket and tried to squeeze myself through the iron bars of the gate. If I sucked in enough, I could graze my ribs right on through. 
 
I got to the ground, low, and crawled like a pathetic soldier to the side of the house, where I peaked into an illuminated window. 
 
And then I heard it:
 
“I was like baby, baby, baby, oohhh!”
 
I turned, gasping for breath when I saw him. 
 
The Bieb. 
 
Singing to me as if it was no big deal. He was even wearing the purple letter jacket!
 
Out of nowhere came a group of backup dancers to finish out the song. As it came to an end, the Bieb approached me, taking my hand. 
 
He opened it, my palm facing up. In it, he placed a single strand of his golden hair. 
 

Nothing was ever the same again after that.  


Posted by wittywriter7 at 12:01 AM CDT
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The Final Testament of the Holy Bible
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: Entertainment

I FINALLY finished reading James Frey's latest work, The Final Testament of the Holy Bible. 

I was so excited to purchase this book because Frey's previous works (A Million Little Pieces, My Friend Leonard, Bright Shiny Morning) have earned him a spot as one of my favorite authors.

So, when I got an Amazon gift card for my birthday (thanks, Dad!), I snatched the book right up.

I was shocked and somewhat intrigued to find that this book was printed to look like an actual piece of the Bible—black leather cover, thin white pages with metallic silver paint on the edges. Each chapter was even named someone different, just like the real deal.

The story is one of a modern day Jesus, God, Messiah, etc. A "what if God was one of us" take on fiction.

This Jesus goes by the name Ben. He lives in an apartment in New York. He works as a construction man, has been homeless many times, enjoys the work of strippers, and believes there is no such thing as sinning.

Needless to say, the book is provocative and innovative.

I will admit, it isn't my favorite piece of his work, but I won't deduct points for that.  


Posted by wittywriter7 at 12:01 AM CDT
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