On My Thoughts

My Last Semester, Some Thoughts

The first week of my last semester of undergrad is officially complete.

In just 17 weeks, I graduate. But I’m trying to avoid soul-suffocating, action-inhibiting panic at the moment, so I’m not going to dwell on thoughts of graduation. Instead, I’m going to focus on how far I’ve come and what I still have left. Procrastinating stress? Yep. But I wouldn’t want to end my college career any other way.

It’s hard to even believe this is my last semester. A statement I’m sure is overused by any graduating senior around this time, but I can’t help it. It’s true. Somehow, I’ve completed 11 semesters and entered into my twelfth. (There’s a Doctor Who joke here somewhere, I’m sure. Get back to me on that one.)

When I entered college way back when, during that first hot, sticky summer semester of 2014, I had no clue what I was doing. I had no idea who I was. I didn’t know what I wanted. But I thought I did. I was so certain of things I should have been questioning.

Let’s start with my original major. Rather, majors. I entered pursuing a double major situation: one in statistics, and one in graphic design.

Spoiler alert, I’m graduating with neither.

How on earth did I pick that combination? A great question. A decision which stemmed from a chaotic fusion of every piece of advice about college I had ever heard. Study what you love. Study something that will allow you to pay off the cost of your education. A STEM degree is the only thing worth getting. Follow your passion. If you do something you love, money will follow. Find something with a large, unsaturated job market. Get something broad, so you can apply it to as many jobs as possible. But have a niche, so you provide value.

First off, that’s bogus. All of it. The only thing that determines your success is you. And everyone giving advice is only speaking from their point of view. You need to find your point of view. You need to find your interests. You need to find what you’re good at. You need to decide what you value, what your priorities are. You need to ignore everything everyone else says, and focus on the voice inside of yourself.

Which is incredibly hard for high-achieving, desperate-to-please, eternally over-eager high school students who, for the most part, have been told what to think for their entire school careers. But honestly, I’m off track. That’s a discussion for a later post. I’m trying to say when I graduated high school and entered college, I didn’t have my own point of view. And it was detrimental in so many ways.

Looking back, I probably shouldn’t have entered college when I did. I should have taken a year off and gone in seek of my own sense of self. But I didn’t. It’s okay, though. I still found myself.  I just had to do it the hard way- through failure, through fights, through tears and distrust and anger and hatred and apathy.

You would think after the first tear-stricken phone call home, I would have realized what I was trying to do was not for me. But I didn’t. I thought I just wasn’t trying hard enough. I thought if I just struggled enough, sat at my desk for long enough, success would reveal itself. If I poured enough self-hatred into myself, surely my totally-hidden-but-definitely-there talents would manifest and I would quickly become a skilled statistician.

For two years, I struggled with coming to terms with being a disappointment for the rest of my life. For two years, I completely ignored my actual talents. I would get four As and an F, and call myself a failure, because those As weren’t valuable to me. Yeah, I loved the classes. Yeah, I was surprisingly good at them. Yeah, I could get As on assignments without spending any time on the material. But I viewed them as filler classes because the emphasis around me was strictly on statistics.

It took me two years to realize that, while I hated myself because I would never be as good as those succeeding despite them spending little-to-no time on the statistics material, in another realm of study, I was the one succeeding without much effort. I had something I was good at. I had something I was a natural at. I had something I loved. Advertising.

And I had ignored it, because no one around me seemed to value it.

But in those classes, I was the one near the top of the class. I was no longer the person sitting dumbfounded during lessons, wondering how other students even knew to ask such higher-level questions. I was now the one capable of tackling the material as in-depth as I could imagine. I was able to answer other students’ questions, a huge change from my previous experience in the statistics department.

I began to embrace my previously-deemed ‘filler’ classes. I excitedly tackled assignments with an unstoppable fervor. The work I had been doing naturally, but mindlessly, before, I now did with purpose. Despite the opinions of those around me, I placed my own value on advertising. I placed my own value on me.

I dropped statistics. I dropped graphic design. I dropped countless people who could never see past their own flawed and limited ideas of me. When I chose advertising, I stopped defining myself by my weaknesses, and instead recognized my strengths.

And an incredible thing happened: I no longer felt like puking before each class I attended. I no longer had to down Tums or makeshift tea remedies to calm my stomach whenever I thought about the next day. I no longer spent six hours staring at a wall instead of my open textbook whenever I tried to study. I no longer had to take tests with a shaking hand, dropping my pencil over and over, afraid those next to me could hear my heart about to beat out of my chest.

I gained a form of confidence I had never experienced before. I started to rely on myself. I trusted myself and my thoughts. People around me were still unsure of how my skills could translate to any type of worldly value, but I stopped letting it bother me. I refused to apologize for my skillset, my interests, my talents. I knew their opinions didn’t matter, because the only one who could determine the value I produced was myself. And for once, I was at peace with myself and my future.

I’ve come a long way from the girl plopped into a new college environment only a week after graduating from an engineering academy. I did not have any sense of self then. But I found it, after a failed class, a withdrawn one, multiple Cs and many more tearful nights. And I found it in advertising.

Some might say a degree in advertising with a math minor doesn’t seem vastly different from a stats/graphic design education. But I promise, it is. Because I chose it, for myself. Because I fought for it, by myself. Because I learned to make decisions for me and by me, which is the most valuable thing I can say I learned in college.

When I first started, I had no clue a degree in advertising even existed. And now, I can’t imagine myself graduating with anything else. Advertising just fits. And I know I’ve found a home for myself in this insane, hectic, inspiring and challenging program.

I don’t know where I’m going to end up after graduation. I’ll figure that out as I go along. Because now, I know I’m armed with the sense of self I need to be able to make the best decisions for me. And I know I can take this new confidence and apply it to any aspect of my future.

The next 17 weeks will be an opportunity to continue working toward something I actually, truly enjoy. And even though I’m not studying abroad in Segovia like I had originally planned for this semester, or even if the spring break trip to Chicago got canceled, and even though both of my bathroom light bulbs are still out, I know this semester is still shaping up to be a fitting end to my undergraduate career. I know by the end of this, I’ll be able to go out into the world armed with my own point of view and my own skills, and share the value I’ve found during my time here.

 

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On My Thoughts

An Ode to 2017.

2017.

No other year has lit the fire of our souls so viciously that the entire world has been moved to action. The fiery breath of resistance has risen in our throats. Our flaming words have transformed into blazing screams of rebellion. Screams which cut through the darkness, lighting up shadows and revealing what hides there.

2017 has been a promise of change, a small voice to the world saying, “I’m working on becoming better. It won’t be bad forever. Do not worry. Be strong.”

A voice of resistance. A voice of strength. A voice of solidarity. A promise to upturn what was once acceptable. A promise that the rules of the game are changing. A promise that responsibility will be given, and it will be held. A promise that consequences won’t be forgotten or ignored.

As a world, we have survived hurricanes, fires, assault. We have found our voices to stand up against what society has accepted, and we have found the strength to tear it down. #MeToo. We have collectively decided what has once been doesn’t have to always be, and we have the power to do something about it.

2017 has been a year laying the groundwork for the fight yet to come, preparing us and strengthening us and promising us that change is within our grasps. It has given us challenges, and it has given us growth, but now that growth must be applied to new conflicts. We still have a long evolution ahead of us, but 2017 has started us on the path.

The power of change has been placed in our hands.

2017, too, has been a huge stepping stone for me. I’ve been scorched and strengthened in the heated forge of 2017. These are a few things I’m thankful for, which have helped sharpen and shape my year and my future.

Ed Sheeran re-entered the music scene with Divide, an incredible, emotion-packed album. “Castle on the Hill” quickly became one of my favorite songs. And “Eraser.” Because “to the next generation, inspiration’s allowed. The world may be filled with hate, but keep erasing it now.”

I fell unapologetically hard and fast for new fandoms in a way I hadn’t since my early high school years. Thanks IDH 3930 and Jenna, for the absolute life-consuming delights of the X-Men and Sherlock. (In that respective order.) I can, without a doubt, say my life is changed forever. I’ve never resonated with characters so much as I have with Sherlock Holmes and Charles Xavier. (Honorable mentions go to Erik Lehnsherr and Irene Adler, of course.)

I would also like to thank the world for the continuing character development of all my Agents of Shield favs. I was also going to happily say at least no one important has died since Lincoln, but then I remembered Mace and Radcliffe. So I’m going with: Hunter actually returned? It’s Christmas. Speaking of, we got The Defenders this year, which gave us a hilariously heartwarming friendship between Jessica Jones and Matt Murdock. 2017, you’ve been good.

We also got the introduction of Bill Potts in Doctor Who. And Chase Stein in Hulu’s Runaways. Granted, he’s semi-bordering on a 2018 character, but whatever. I’m putting him down. I was also introduced to the The Imitation Game’s portrayal of Alan Turing for the first time, which is just about the most inspirational movie character I’ve ever watched. I’ve had a lot of characters help shape my outlook on life this year, but these have all been the most prominent.

There are a few celebrities that have also considerably shaped my life in 2017, as well. Yes, I am aware I started with fictional characters before mentioning anyone real. If you’re surprised, you shouldn’t be.

I think James Mcavoy and Benedict Cumberbatch are a given, but there are others. Charlize Theron. Lara Pulver. Michael Fassbender and Martin Freeman. Dominic Cooper, who, in all honesty, should have been a 2015 favorite via Agent Carter but it took two years and Fleming for me to connect the dots. Better late than never. Emma Dumont. Priyanka Chopra.

I also discovered Elizabeth Olsen was the sister to the Olsen twins? My world is changed, honestly. Thanks, Shine. I don’t know how I didn’t see that coming.

We also have Phil Noto, whose art has shaped the way I will forever view comics. Ian Fleming and Charles Bukowski are sitting nice and fine in the author category. I was also introduced to Youtubers Asia Jackson and Lucy Moon this year, and I’m so thankful for that.

I traveled to New York with one of my best friends. We got to see Jimmy Fallon, and we didn’t even freeze to death. I got to see the Met Museum for the first time in my life, and came face to face with an actual column from the actual Temple of Artemis. Middle-school me officially died in that moment, fyi. We visited Chuck Bass’ Empire Hotel and we sat on the Met steps. We were basically Queen Bee royalty.   

I spent a lot of time with my sister. For the first time in years, we were in the same place at the same time and able to reconnect. We got to share about 78 dinners together, give or take a few. Whatever that number is, double it. That’s approximately the number of coffee study dates we got to have. After years of separate schools, 2017 granted us the chance to finally be together.

I traveled to Arizona with my family. I watched a storm roll into the canyons, and felt the wind on my face. I hiked up a mountain and climbed some rocks. I visited the home of Frank Lloyd Wright and marveled at his architecture and design.

For the first time, I didn’t let a math class consume my summer. Please take a moment to appreciate this miracle.

Have you taken it? Okay, proceed.

I got my first promotion, technically. I started my last year of undergrad. I realized I actually, really, unapologetically love my degree, and that I’m luckily not even half-bad at what I get to do.

I got two Snapchat geofilters accepted, and they somehow have a combined 2.9 million views? What? That’s crazy. Thank you.

I took my dream course and wrote papers about superheroes for an entire semester. Fifteen whole, beautiful weeks were spent reading comics and watching superhero tv shows and movies. And not a single minute was considered a guilty waste of time. Watching Days of Future Past four times was labeled paper preparation, not procrastination. Thank you, 2017. That is just about the best gift you could have given me.

That gift is second only to 2017’s gift of growth. Because no year promises more growth than one which holds the ending of a seven-year relationship. And grow I have. 2017 has provided me with such a tremendous platform for change, both mentally and physically. It has shown me the strength of female friendships, and their importance. It has shown me that I’m allowed to be confident in myself.

This year has laid the groundwork to allow me to fly as free and unencumbered as I can possibly be in this upcoming year. It has reminded me of who I am and who I can be. It has reminded me I am never the expectations others have of me, but rather the ones I have of myself. I am not their ideas of me. I am me. 

So thank you, 2017. You’ve given me more than I could possibly have asked for. You’ve given me the gift of unrivaled potential for this new year and have paved a promising path for me in 2018. I know change is coming. I’ll be ready.

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On The Future

30 Before 30: A Reflection

It’s that time of reflection again. And no, I don’t mean New Year’s. I’m a firm believer in making decisions to change your life any time, not just once a year.

But when you’re trying to find the time to solve 61 math problems, write three papers, prepare a presentation, study for two tests and still make it to class and work on time, it’s not always possible to squeeze in some introspection without feeling guilty. Luckily for us students, winter break offers the perfect opportunity to re-examine our lives and get ourselves back on track.

So, in an effort to pretend I even have a track to get back onto, I’ve been looking inward. Inspired by Lucy Moon’s 30 Before 30 youtube video (which I highly recommend, by the way) and Lavendaire’s Current Me vs Future Me, I sat down to outline where I am now compared with where and who I want to be.

I started by compiling a list of 30 things I want to do before I turn 30. It’s funny, because in the video, Lucy mentions she’s 22. And I’m 22. So we’ve both got eight years to knock off the things on our lists. Let’s see if I can do this.

  1. I want to learn at least one language fluently, preferably Russian or Italian.
  2. I want to learn how to run in heels. Sometimes I just want that extra oomph when wearing a killer outfit, but I always hesitate to sacrifice the mobility of my Converse.
  3. I want to learn how to Irish tap dance.
  4. I want to officially learn how to box, more so than just googling moves and practicing on my own bag. I want to join a boxing gym and find a home in it.
  5. I want to learn how to successfully do that running-up-a-wall-and-flipping move that I first saw Ryan do on Quantico. And then Daisy did the same move on Agents of Shield. Yeah, I want to do that.
  6. I want to master baking the perfect macaron.
  7. I want to learn how to ride a motorcycle.
  8. I want to perfect a smoky eye look and confidently work dark eyeliner as a day look.
  9. I want to get a master’s degree in a topic undecided as of now, and finish my art history minor in the process, since I’m a bit sad I’ll be graduating without it for my bachelor’s.
  10. I want to spend more time reading and growing my mind. I would love to read at least 26 books a year. I want to be more active in the literature and comic communities.
  11. I want to become more film savvy. I want to watch Bette Davis’ entire film career. I want to watch a list of noir or neo-noir films. I want to watch all of James Mcavoy’s movies. I want to catch up on years of classic films I missed out on, like Casablanca or Singing in the Rain.
  12. I want to find authors and artists that I resonate with. People whose work will stick with me for years to come and I can say, without a doubt, shaped me.
  13. I want to write and publish at least one book.
  14. I want to write a television series or movie script.
  15. I want to make, design and publish a magazine.
  16. I want to have a story published in a literary magazine or a newspaper, and have a real byline.
  17. I want to attempt standup comedy. Whether online or in person, I want to put myself out there. At least once.
  18. I want to volunteer in a soup kitchen.
  19. I want to contribute to childhood education, and do what I can to help better it. I have an idea for a project, and I want to work toward it. Every kid deserves the chance to learn.
  20. I want to visit Scotland.
  21. I want to visit Italy. I want to stand there and wonder at the magnificent works of the Renaissance. I want to go to Venice.
  22. I want to be on the rooftop of a tall, towering building in the middle of a huge city. Bonus points if it takes place during sunset and into the night, watching the lights twinkle on and the city come to life as the sky darkens around me.
  23. I want to ride in a hot air balloon.
  24. I want to own a motorcycle.
  25. I want to purchase a Phil Noto print. Maybe at a convention, maybe online. But an original Noto piece would be something I eventually want to own and cherish.
  26. I want to live in a one person loft, with large windows allowing natural light to flood in and a staircase I can wrap garland around during the holidays.
  27. I want to find style icons and inspiration. Everyone says the first step in finding personal style is to outline what you love about your favs. So first, I gotta find some favs.
  28. I want to whiten my teeth.
  29. At some point, even for a tiny bit of time, I want to have purple(lavender, really)-tipped hair.
  30. Finally, I want to find a perfume scent that is entirely me in essence.

Mostly, I just want to work toward not being in the same spot as I was last year, every year. If I can complete these 30 things within these next eight years, I’ll know I’m not wasting time. Certainly, I’ll be doing more to better myself than I have done the past 22 years. And I know growth will follow.

Because I haven’t been doing much of anything in my life so far. Full of ideas and not so full of action, I need to throw perfectionism out the window and get to work. Right now, I’m lazy. I’m unproductive. I disappear off the face of the Earth for weeks at a time, and have a terrible habit of never replying to messages. If someone tries to talk to me in person, I rarely know the right thing to say. I eat too much sugar and don’t exercise enough. I’m a bit of a mess, and that’s an understatement.

Current MeAfter working through Lavendaire’s Current Me vs Future Me process, I came up with an image of who I want to become. I want to give all I’ve got, and accomplish all I can. I want to be able to confidently lead conversations, even if I’m not particularly interested in what a person is trying to say. Staring silently at them and thinking “why are they even talking to me” isn’t going to cut it as a response anymore. (As it shouldn’t.)

I’m going to walk into rooms and confidently know I can belong anywhere.

Future Me

I’m going to know in my heart that being alone is A-Okay, not something to be ashamed of wanting. If you’re reading this: hey, it’s cool if you want to read a book alone at a restaurant. You should never have to sit with people you don’t want to, to avoid hurting their feelings or disrupting the norm. And one day, I’ll be comfortable enough with ignoring society’s conventions and ideas of politeness to tell them, “I appreciate the offer, but no. I’m not going to sit with you. I know you see me sitting here alone and think you need to take pity on me, but I’m perfectly happy with my book, so thanks, but no thanks.”

One day, I won’t hesitate to stand up for myself. I will allow my tongue to be sharp, and I won’t stop myself from telling the harsh truth if need be. If someone ignores my contributions, I’ll speak louder and make my ideas heard, not retreat into silence. I’ll understand that my voice is the strongest asset I have. And I’ll use it.

I’ll pick the battles I fight with care, but I will fight them. And I’ll only back down if I find out I’ve been wrong, not out of a fear of confrontation.

I will be strong, in mind and spirit and body. I will be confident. I will fully understand myself, and know how to utilize both my strengths and my weaknesses. I will be driven and determined and disciplined.

I will write frequently, and read even more so. I’ll express myself without apology. Perfectionism and high standards will not render me inactive, but rather be an editing tool once I’ve spilled my heart onto the page.

I’ll take care of my body. Exercise more. Be able to complete a pull-up. Eat much, much less sugar. I will be healthy, and strong.

Maybe future me will have eyebrows shaped like Elizabeth Montgomery. Arguably a less important goal, but hey. It’s a goal.

As it stands, I have a lot to improve. But I know I have everything in my power – my mind, and myself, mainly – to do so. I’m making baby steps, and one day, because growth is a constantly evolving process, I’ll be making a new list after having achieved all of this. And I’m excited to see who and where I am when that day comes.

 

 

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On Marvel, On Movies

Captain America: Civil War Review

This is honestly more of a character analysis and collection of my thoughts than it is a review, so please expect spoilers.

I loved this film. Captain America: Civil War followed Cap and Bucky’s story well enough and long enough to definitely be considered the third Captain America movie, despite the huge cast pointing otherwise. I thought the many action scenes were fluid and all of the character motivations were clear. The acting was superb and brought life to all of the characters, many of whom who went through some extreme character development.

One of the defining moments of this film was Peggy Carter’s funeral. The second I realized they were giving Cap’s “No, you move” quote from the comics to Peggy, I was elated. I mean, it was a very summarized version, but the very fact they gave a quote so representative of his values to Peggy is astounding. It solidifies her as the source of his strength, someone he can always count on to remind him of his beliefs and help him hold his ground when he’s feeling weak. You can’t stop me from saying that even after she died, Peggy was still changing Steve’s life. I think this quote also goes on to define the rest of the film, as well. It’s saying that no matter what, you have to stand up for what you believe in. Even if your friends are telling you you’re wrong, even if the whole world is against you- you need to stay strong on your beliefs. That’s basically what everyone in this movie is doing. Tony and Steve both believe they’re doing the right thing for the world, and they’re both acting on their own judgements. It’s because of this that I say I felt there was an undercurrent of respect present throughout the entire movie, despite it being a war between friends. Steve, while he disagrees with Tony’s ideas, can in no way disrespect him because he’s doing the very thing that Cap admires. He can respect Tony’s position without agreeing with it. Same with Tony. He thinks Cap is incredibly selfish and stupid, but he can’t argue that he isn’t doing what he believes in. No one person can fault the others for sticking up for their personal beliefs, especially when you consider where each character is coming from personally.

Steve has just lost Peggy- his strength and compass, as well as a very deep connection to his past. So when the news comes out saying Bucky caused the explosion, you can be sure that Cap isn’t going to accept it sitting down. He’s going to be out there searching for the truth, figuring out what really happened, and fighting not to lose the absolute last person on Earth who knew his past self. It’s selfish to sacrifice the team for just Bucky, but Steve has been completely selfless for so long that it’s time he fights for himself. Bucky Barnes is the man who fought side by side with him in World War 2, who was there when his parents died, who checked every alley way to make sure Steve wasn’t getting into trouble. He can’t lose Bucky, especially not after just losing Peggy. I think most of those on Iron Man’s side realize that. Rhodey also recognizes the other part of Cap’s hesitancy to sign- after the events of Winter Soldier, how could anyone prove Hydra isn’t a part of the United Nations? His stance is understandable. No one can fault him for his perspective, just like no one can fault Tony for his.

Personally, I’ve never really been an Iron Man fan. At least, I wasn’t until I watched this movie. For the longest time, I thought his character lacked any gravitas or understanding of the seriousness of situations. I hated his arrogance and his obnoxious attitude. His self-inflated ego disgusted me. It wasn’t until Iron Man 3 that I started to warm up to him slightly, but that warmth quickly extinguished during Age of Ultron. This movie changed that. I genuinely liked where his character went and developed during this film. He definitely appeared more serious, and he was doing what he felt needed to be done, which is honorable. I don’t necessarily agree with his methods, but I liked seeing him take responsibility to amend his past. His response to the meeting with the embittered mother was heartbreaking, and it makes so much more sense why he would side with the Accords. I loved seeing that he realized it wasn’t all about him, but rather the team. He was even able to admit he was wrong and go to apologize to Steve- something that never would have happened previously with his character.

I can’t even blame him for attacking Bucky. He just watched his parents get strangled to death, and Tony’s response is 100% natural. That fight was terrible for both parties involved. I do think he’ll eventually forgive Cap, given enough time, judging by his reaction to Steve’s handwritten letter. And I doubt he’ll help the government find the escaped ex-Avengers, either- instead, he’ll probably try to rebuild the team from his side with the resources he has. Personally, I can’t wait for his reunion with Steve. I’m hoping there will be apologies and forgiveness from both sides, and maybe even a significant scene in which Tony returns the shield and everyone decides to move forward. I genuinely loved the characterization and growth Civil War provided him, and thoroughly enjoyed his angle of the film.

I also really appreciated Black Widow’s characterization in this movie. I was so afraid they would mess up her friendship with Cap, because I think they make a really great team and their personalities contradict in a way that makes their relationship very interesting. Plus, I think they both need each other just a little bit- and it’s nice to have someone (let alone the man of honor Captain America himself) trust Natasha. When I found out she was going to be on Iron Man’s side, I was worried. But the way it was written, her personal stance makes perfect sense. Of course the spy would go along with what the government wants. She knows that at the end of the day, she would still be able to go undercover, extract information, complete missions, and not leave a trace that she was there. Siding with the government is brilliant- she gives them what they think is the upper hand, but she knows if a situation arises she can still pull all of her own strings. Her signing the Accords is just a formality so they trust her. Of course, her helping Cap to escape puts a damper on any trust they may have given her, but it was a great plan to begin with. She, too, followed her beliefs (or rather, her gut instinct) but knows how to fix it when she “played the game wrong.” That line also goes to show how thought out all of her actions are. One of the biggest things I loved is how, after the funeral, she went to comfort Steve not to change his mind but because they’re friends. She more than most knew how much Peggy meant to him, and she didn’t want him to be alone. I loved how she kept looking out for him throughout the film- she may have been on the other side, but she wasn’t going to let him be unprotected. I’m honestly so thankful that they didn’t sacrifice Nat and Steve’s friendship for the plot.

And Black Panther? Black Panther was perfect. Everything about him being in the movie made total sense. His motivation was perfect. His no-nonsense attitude being a stark contrast to Ant Man and Spider Man (and basically anyone else equipped with the power of one-liners) was perfect. I went in with very little knowledge of his character, but I’m genuinely excited to watch his solo film and find some of his comics to read. I loved how the second he realized he may have made a mistake, he paused to gather and analyze all available information before going out to find the real culprit. He was introduced in this movie and yet there was still a lot of character development, it was amazing. I really enjoyed watching his character play out on the big screen.

The large cast also gave way to a multitude of interesting character dynamics. I loved nearly all of them, but I especially liked the connection between Wanda and Vision. I love how they’re putting their comic book relationship into the movies, it makes me really happy. I also love the relationship between Tony and Peter. Any storyline where Tony “adopts” a fatherless boy and actually succeeds in the dad position is heartwarming to watch, especially knowing how estranged his own relationship with his father was. I can’t wait to see how the Peter/Tony experience plays out during the Homecoming movie. Steve looking out for the youngsters is equally as moving, as well. From watching out for Wanda and striking a conversation with Peter, you can tell he really cares for them. I love it even more since he lied about his age to enlist, so he can understand where they’re coming from with being kids at war. All of these characters were so incredibly interesting to watch and I’m quite excited to see the dynamics between them grow with upcoming movies.

But as much as I liked Civil War, it wasn’t perfect. My first complaint is that I wish there was more communication involved. Obviously, I understand that if they had all sat down and talked it out, there wouldn’t be as much of a story. But I feel like Steve and Bucky should have been screaming much more frequently/loudly that Bucky was innocent, and the UN should’ve listened to them. Secondly, I felt like the “multiple winter soldiers” storyline was a little bit of a letdown. It was a really interesting setup, but the soldiers were really only there to advance the plot forward which, to me, seemed like a waste. Considering how deadly they were and how determined Cap and Bucky were to actually get to them, they could’ve held a little more importance than simply dying in their sleep. I also thought it was slightly awful that Tony went and recruited a 15 year old into battle. I know Peter’s got superpowers and can hold his own, but it felt very poor on Tony’s part- especially next to Steve’s constant worrying over Wanda still being a kid. Speaking of Wanda, why did no one mention Quicksilver? One of the last things the viewers see is her brother dying, and no one says anything about it? That felt a little poor, as well.

The biggest thing I hated in this movie was the Sharon/Steve kiss. Despite Sam and Bucky’s hilarious responses to it, I felt like it was in the completely wrong movie. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sharon, and I love her paired with Cap. They make a really great team. I know I could even like them romantically together, given time and proper setup. That kiss honestly had neither. The last time we see Sharon, Steve’s completely written her off as just another person who has lied to him. He knows she was doing her job and he won’t necessarily blame her for doing so, but honesty is something he values in his friends, so in his head he wrote off any romantic involvement with her. Fast forward to the funeral, and Steve is mourning the loss of the woman he loved and who was the source of a lot of his strength. Sharon walks up to the podium to give a eulogy about her aunt, and all of a sudden she’s “back on the table” for Steve. I know the writers probably didn’t mean to just replace one Carter with another, but that’s what it felt like. The relationship felt rushed and the kiss felt sudden. I would’ve preferred them not to kiss, but to have their friendship grow throughout the story, culminating romantically in a later movie. At least that would have felt natural and not like Steve was just replacing Peggy. On the other hand, I know he wishes he could’ve made a move much earlier with Peggy, so I could believe that he doesn’t want to make the same mistake with Sharon. The kiss just felt very badly placed, in my opinion.

Also, Hawkeye. Please stop doing things. Everytime you step outside I worry for your safety. The second they introduced his family, I became so afraid that he’s going to just die and his kids are going to grow up fatherless. Please be safe while out on the line, Clint.

I was left with a few questions even after watching the film twice, though. I’m pretty sure I missed something because I’m trying to figure out how Cap knew that Bucky was the one that killed Howard and Maria? Was it shown in Winter Soldier? Did Cap just have a serious hunch after those events and realize Hydra probably would have wanted Howard picked off? But if it was just a hunch, why would he give a definitive “yes” answer? Is it because he just likes to take responsibility or did he actually know for sure that Bucky killed Howard? It was such a sensitive situation and I just want to know the full details!

I’m also wondering if Spiderman would have actually sided with Cap, given the full details of the situation? His mindset of “take responsibility even if it’s not necessarily your fault, and always do the right thing no matter what” seemed to be much #TeamCap than Tony’s. I’m really curious if he would have been on Cap’s side without Iron Man’s money or influence- or honestly, if he wouldn’t’ve been involved to begin with. He has homework, after all.

I’m also super curious as to what’s going to happen with Scott? How does his ex wife’s strict no-prison policy work now that he was just in a maximum security containment center? Did he lose visitation rights? Does the fact he’s a superhero now and was doing superhero things play into it at all? I worry about him! I just hope he and Cassie still get to spend some family time together despite his decision to participate in the fight.

And where the heck is Pepper? Hi, Marvel, yes, please don’t end her and Tony’s relationship! They had such a great dynamic and worked well with each other- plus, I can’t picture anyone else putting up with Tony. And after all they’ve been through, especially during Iron Man 3? Come on, Marvel. Don’t write her off. Please. Plus, it sounds like Gwyneth Paltrow would be down to reprise her role! Balls in your court, Marvel.

This question isn’t particularly important- but with Cap still alive now, does that mean Marvel’s going to set him up for death during Infinity War? I don’t have a source on this, so take it with a grain of salt, but I vaguely remember rumors saying they had filmed at least two funeral scenes for this movie- was it just to confuse fans? Will they still use one later? Guess I’ll always be fearing for Steve’s life even though he lives at the end of this one.

And to end this review, I just wanted to include some of my favorite lines of dialogue from the film.

“I could do this all day.” I love this reference to The First Avenger. Honestly, if you’re looking for a quote to define Steve Rogers’ character, this is definitely it. It shows his spirit and determination, and I love how the Captain America films have come full circle with a nod to his earlier days.

“You killed my mom.” While not necessarily the coolest quote, this line is an incredibly striking reminder of Tony’s hatred for his dad. He really just didn’t care at all about Howard, but his mom was one of the most important people to him. I love how this line calls attention to that.

“Hank Pym told me to never trust a Stark.” Okay, this was amazing. I loved this connection to the Ant Man film, and Scott’s quote is absolutely perfect to describe his relationship to Tony. Hank never trusted Howard, so why would Scott ever trust Tony?

“Step right up…” This was perfect reference to Clint’s carnival past life. And saying it to Tony as if he was the ring leader? Heart breaking.  Let’s be honest though, all of Hawkeye’s lines were golden. (But what’s new?)

“That thing does not obey the laws of physics.” This was a simple quip, but it made me laugh out loud in the theatre so it deserves a spot here. I loved Peter’s humor, and I especially loved how he handled being a 15 year old in a battle with people like Vision and Scarlet Witch.

I know this is pretty long review, but I had a lot of thoughts I wanted to include. I absolutely loved this film. I think Winter Soldier is probably still my favorite Marvel movie, but who knows, maybe after a few more watches Captain America: Civil War will rise to the top spot! I thought this was a really great film that captured the essence of the Captain America series while balancing a huge cast with ease, and I genuinely can’t wait to see where all the characters go from here on out.

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On Marvel

Style Breakdown: Jemma Simmons

Spoilers for Season 1 of Agents of Shield below.

I’m going to be honest, I wrote most of this blog post a while ago. Like, a very long time ago. I believe Season 2 only had about two/three episodes when I was working on this originally. Yeah. Pretty bad. I never posted it because a) I didn’t have anywhere to do so and b) there were a few unfinished sections. Well, it may have taken two more seasons, but I’ve finally gone through and finished it.

So when you’re reading this, keep in mind that this is Season 1 Simmons fashion. All of my statistics are for season 1 only. (Yeah, I actually did my own statistics and then I didn’t even publish them. #ShakingMyHead over here, I swear.)

The point of this style breakdown is to have something to refer to when choosing a cosplay outfit- or even if you simply want to wear a regular-day look inspired by our favorite scientist. It’s pretty versatile. And honestly, it’s just pretty neat to break down the types of fashion a character wears throughout a season. It’s cool to see the change! (Don’t be surprised if a Season 3 Simmons Breakdown shows up later- because her style HAS changed slightly, and I really want to record her growth and progression.)

If you don’t know, Jemma Simmons is Agents of Shield’s genius biochemist who has won over the hearts of basically everyone who has watched the show with her love and enthusiasm for science. Her outfits have been the perfect mix of “fieldwork ready” and “comfortable and safe for a lab environment.” Her style is smart, sophisticated, and trendy while remaining professional. I’d suggest wearing these looks whenever you need confidence in your own brainpower or you just need to stay positive.

The Breakdown:

Dresses: Never
Tops: Blouses, Sweaters, Blazers, Collars
Pants: Blue or Black Skinny jeans
Shoes: Converse or combat boots
Jewelry: Simple, Dainty, thin Necklaces, Small wristwatch
Colors/Patterns: Darker, muted colors/Small Repeated Shapes, Stripes

First and foremost, Jemma NEVER wears dresses. Ever. It makes sense, since she’d want her legs to be protected in the lab from any accidental spills. (If she even makes mistakes, really.) She’s also constantly on the move, and dresses usually don’t cater to that type of lifestyle. Imagine climbing up the tree in F.Z.Z.T just to have everyone below seeing her knickers. It’s just not gonna work. A quick Season 3 aside: this no-dress trend has continued. I don’t want to spoil anything without proper forewarning at the beginning, but even on a fancy date she just wears a dressier top.

Usually, Jemma is seen wearing darker, more muted colors. She’s worn a few white or brightly-shaded button downs, but they’re usually paired with (and covered by) a darker-toned blazer or sweater. Honestly, the brightest thing Jemma wears is her lab coat. Aside from that baby pink blouse she wore in the pilot, the vast majority of her outfits are usually just the darkest hue of a neutral color. A lot of blue. The later it gets in the season, the more black is worn.

Here’s where you’re going to kill me. Remember how I made this big deal about having done my own statistics? Well, my data is missing. I had my numbers written down in a notebook when I was originally working on this, and now I have absolutely no clue where that notebook is. (I have a lot of notebooks, okay?) But never fear! I still have some form of my research, because I previously handmade two pie charts based on the results. It won’t be as precise as having the numbers involved, but we can work with it.

Basically, I counted up every single outfit Jemma wore in Season 1. And I counted each time a certain pattern or style appeared. Then I divided the two, and wha-la! Fashion research, complete. The following two pie charts are done to the best of my ability.

tops

As you can see, she wears a heck of a lot of polka dots. If I remember correctly, most of these dotted outfits showed up in the earlier parts of the season. The statistic also includes smaller, repeated shapes as well; one blouse had small hearts instead of dots. She often wore solid colored tops, especially after Shield fell. Very rarely did she wear stripes or mixed patterns, but it did happen on occasion. If you’re going to nail her style down, your safest bet would be wearing small, repeated patterns- but don’t necessarily shy away from something patternless!

Now to talk about style of the tops themselves. This is where Jemma gives herself the most fashion freedom. The absolute #1 thing you can wear to give off a Jemma-vibe is a nice, buttoned-down, collared blouse. That’s the core of nearly every one of her outfits. It’s rare that the blouse is worn on its own though, because she usually pairs it with either a blazer or a sweater (pullover or cardigan.) Most of the time, it’s a blazer. She has a very lovely navy one that matches basically every blouse. Hi, me from the season 3 future again: this is also the blazer she wears at the beginning of Season 2 when she’s merely a figment of Fitz’s imagination. That means she must have worn it a lot, if that’s the automatic outfit he associates her with.

Sweaters are also very big for Jemma- usually they’re pulled over the top of a blouse. Even the ones without a blouse underneath are more often than not collared. This category also includes jackets, although she only appears to have two. A leather jacket makes a brief stint, but the one she wears most often (although still quite infrequently compared to everything else) just looks like a plaid, soft, regular zip-up. This only appears after Shield has fallen.

Also after that timeframe, she begins to wear regular, plain shirts. Nice shirts, but the important thing to note is that they’re not collared. There’s a little bit of detailing above the chest, but that’s it. This was a rare (and dark) time, so if you’re modeling her fashion I would steer away from this as an option. The collared, sweater-ed, blazer-ed tops are so Jemma-esque that wearing anything else wouldn’t be immediately reminiscent of her style.

Her pants have been skinny jeans every episode, alternating between a blue and black pair depending on the occasion. Blue is usually worn while on the Bus or in the lab, whereas the black pair is for fieldwork or special occasions (like giving a talk at the Academy!) Occasionally, she can be seen wearing a thin belt as well. 

Shoes are a bit trickier to nail down since there are so few full-body shots of Jemma. There are two pairs that viewers are clearly able to see: a pair of maroon converse (also seen in her Season 1 promo pics) and a pair of black, lace-up combat boots. If she wears any other shoes, I wasn’t able to see them.

shoes

These two pairs are really cute and functional, again, for both lab and field settings. And luckily for those wishing to mimic her style, it’s relatively easy to obtain either pair without breaking the bank.

Her jewelry can be described in one word: delicate. She is guaranteed to have a watch on her left wrist. You can’t see it all the time because of her longer-sleeved sweaters and blazers, but it’s there. 

watch

The one featured most often has a semi-rectangular face. If you’re looking to nail down her look, I wouldn’t forget a wrist watch!

Jemma wears necklaces as well, but they’re only seen when wearing a lower-cut blouse. Each necklace has a really thin gold chain with a single charm in the center. Nothing too extravagant or showy, just simple and special.

necklace

She wears the U-shaped necklace in a lot of episodes, so perhaps it’s something from Fitz, her parents, or her time at the Academy? I’m taking the fact that you can see the chain of her necklace in the bottom left, inset image as proof that she wears necklaces with nearly all of her outfits, even the ones that cover her neck completely. She also has a pair of silver stud earrings that she has worn in every single episode. Nothing that could get caught in any dangers the field or lab possess, of course. 

That wraps up the first of hopefully many Style Breakdowns! I feel like the overall purpose of the post was still achieved despite being an outdated mess. I hope this analysis does our beloved scientist justice and helps describe Jemma’s style well enough so anyone can copy her look! Time to go rewatch all of Season 3 and see how our girl’s style has evolved.


Feel free to tell me in the comments if you liked the breakdown! Any and all opinions are welcome. It was pretty fun to sit down and define a favorite character’s fashion, and I sincerely hope this post was helpful!

Also, the character of Jemma Simmons, Agents of Shield, and the photos/screenshots used in this post are the sole property of Marvel. The only thing I did was make two pie charts and take notes on her fashion!
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On Growing Up

Keep On Fighting.

I’ve been trying to write this first blog post for a while. My initial goal was to introduce myself before publishing any other posts, but after months of writing and rewriting, that wasn’t going to work. So I went for a different angle, and tried to introduce the blog itself. I tried to talk about what I have planned for it and what I wanted this space to become. But I just don’t think I can talk about the goals of this blog without first talking about who I am. This blog will end up being a collection of my innermost thoughts, feelings, and ideas on a large variety of topics. How can I expect these personal posts to matter to anyone, including myself, without first being honest with who I am? I can’t, so here’s my best attempt at an introduction.

Hi. I’m a nobody. I’m not special. I’m not successful. I’m unfocused. I’m a twenty-something looking at those younger than me succeeding where I haven’t, wondering what’s wrong with me. I constantly drop the ball. I like way too many things and I’m not good at any of them. I have a multitude of ideas that I’ll never actually do anything with. I start projects that I don’t complete. Am I lazy, or unmotivated? Possibly both. I have lost all drive and energy that I once possessed. But I ache to do something great for this world, and to be a good person. I feel like I have it in me- even though there’s no recent evidence to prove it. How can I be great when every past failure in my life points to the contrary?

When I was younger, I was unstoppable. I never considered what people thought of me, and I didn’t care to fit in. I liked different things than kids my age, and my friends were not the kids in my class, but my teachers. I did my homework on the ride home so I could use every second until bedtime working on some crazy project idea I had. I have memories of stepping off the bus and giving my mom a list of supplies I needed so I could complete my goal. My brain was firing at so many different angles, at all times. There was nothing to stop me. I was young, I was driven, and I was successful- at least in my eyes. “On top of the world” is the only phrase fitting enough to describe my childhood.

To li’l me, liking everything was a no brainer. I could go from engineering a working wishing well (with water!) out of legos one day, to writing a book about a third grade detective the next. It wasn’t weird to me that I liked every subject at school- history was just as exciting to me as science. I could never pick a favorite. Why did people keep asking me to choose? Everything was amazing. Learning itself was amazing. The kids around me hated school, but I didn’t care that I was different.

People told me I was special. They would congratulate my parents, and tell them how lucky I was to have “both sides of my brain working.” That meant nothing to me at the time, although I was happy to have people give me praise. As the attention grew, so did expectations. And that’s when I started to take notice, because I hated to let people down. And for some reason, people liked to take my successes- and subsequently, my failures- into their own hands. When I failed previously, it was a learning experience. Now I was letting people down, and it was my fault they were upset. I couldn’t handle teachers asking me if I was sick simply because I got a question wrong in class. I couldn’t handle disappointing my parents with bad grades. Suddenly things that I once took no notice of started to affect me. I stopped raising my hand at school. I started praying to God to make me “normal.” I didn’t want to have whatever it was that made me special- so I stopped trying, stopped doing, stopped standing out. I didn’t want to be smart. I wanted so desperately to be average, so that I wouldn’t disappoint people I looked up to. I started overthinking everything I did or said to avoid mistakes.

This continued into high school. I hid parts of me to different groups of people. To the engineers and STEM folk, I hid my artistic side. They saw art as a joke, something for people with no futures. While in my art and english classes, I hid my love of math and science. For them, the thought processes STEM used weren’t valuable or wanted. I tried to blend in to two different groups, but in doing so I lost parts of myself. Blending in with the art people lost me bits of my math/science skills, and in trying to blend with what the STEM side wanted, I lost bits of my creativity. In trying to conform to mediocrity, I lost whatever I had that once made me special. It’s like I was on this fast-paced train to success during my childhood, but then I hopped off and started destroying the track ahead of me.

It’s time for me to stop destroying my future. I messed up, I did. And now I am very, very afraid that I will never be great.

But am I supposed to accept that? Accept that once ago I could have done something with my life, and now I have to move on knowing I will never be as good as I once was?

I can’t do that.

I accept that it happened, that I did spend a good portion of my life giving less to the world than I should have. And I lost a lot of my old abilities in doing so. It sucks, but I can’t rewrite the past. I have two options ahead of me- I can start planning a life in which I accept that I’m average. I can resign myself to the fact I will never do the great things I once could have. This is the easier option, but as life usually has it, it’s also the weaker one. And I’m tired of being weak. I’m done with accepting the easier option simply because no one will notice me if I fail. It’s time for me to stand out.

It’s time for me to fight.

I wasn’t strong enough to stand up to the pressures of being successful, and I may not be strong enough now. But I refuse to let life move on and leave me behind, not when I still have so much inside of me to give. I’m still that little girl who begged her dad to teach her multiplication years before I was supposed to learn it in school. I’m still that little girl who picked up The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe as her first book. I’m still that girl who refused to accept “No” as an answer, who believed she could do anything, who worked hard for her ideas, and who didn’t hide the fact she loved everything. Everything she once was, I still am. I just have to uncover it.

I’m not going to be afraid to stand out anymore. I’m not going to overthink my actions or spend energy to fit in. I’m tired of wasting my life doing that instead of embracing and learning myself. If I’m not successful afterwards, then that’s fine. But I sure as heck won’t accept where I am now without fighting to get myself back. I know I can succeed, because I can still feel that little ache of greatness, or my younger self, or something, inside of my chest, begging me to let it out.

So this is me, making a change in my life for the better. I wanted to start this blog to help find and strengthen myself. It’s an exploration of who I am, a collection of my thoughts, plans, and ideas, and an archive of things that give me strength. I’m not going to overthink everything I write down, I’m just going to be me. And it may be hard, because I haven’t been 100% me in a while, but I will do it. This blog is going to expand and grow as I do. Hopefully, this journey will lead me – and anyone who wants to join along – to becoming who I want to be as a person.

I promise not every post will be as self-centered as this one was. I needed to write that down and get it out of me so I can move forward without being held back by expectations. I don’t believe I should have to choose what to focus on, but if you’re popping in and want an idea of what types of posts are in store, here’s a little idea: Superheroes. Disney. Rants about the world. Stories of overcoming struggles. Plans for the future. Personal insights on the way things work. A belief in the impossible. Hopefully a fun and interesting journey with an endearingly-annoying protagonist? I’m done limiting myself, so no idea is off the table for where this blog may go.

So hi, I’m Jessica.

I like things.

Who are you?

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