One second, every day

I'm probably late to the party on this one but one of my favorite apps lately is 1 Second Everyday*, a phone app that helps you take little video snippets of your life and stitch them together chronologically to make a movie. (If you saw the movie Chef, the son used this app in making the movie of his dad's food truck.) 

You might be thinking that the last thing you need is another app or reason to take more photos/movies but I promise this one is easy peasy. No need to think up cleverly worded posts, no fiddling with things at the time you're filming, no need to pose or think about likes or followers. Just take a few frames of video now and then (the more candid and random the better) and later (you don't even have to do it that day) you choose which clip to represent the day and upload it to the app. There's something magical about capturing the lovely, mundane everyday moments as they fly by--and then seeing them in one cohesive movie.

You can also create other projects not based on the one-a-day format. When we went away this long Easter weekend (Australia takes a four-day holiday), I decided to do one to remember our time together:

*not a sponsored post, I just love to spread the joy

Later that same life

This caught my attention and imagination today*: In 1977, Stoney Emshwiller recorded an interview with his future self.  His filmmaker father ran the camera and Stoney "sat in a well-lit chair in a completely black studio and, like some teenaged Johnny Carson, chatted with an invisible older me. During this one-way conversation, I asked my older self tons of questions...then I recorded many different reactions to each possible answer, ranging from polite nods, to joy, sadness, annoyance, surprise, and outright horror."

The result is a poignant, quite wonderful interview between earlier expectations and later experience (and he's crowdfunding to digitally restore the original footage and improve/lengthen the film here if you're interested).

This has me wondering what my 18-year-old self would have wanted to know and what my older self would want to advise if they could actually converse. Here are a few things that might make the clip for me:

18-year-old self to the future me:

  • Are you happy? cute? impressive? 
  • Do you live in a big city with a career? is your life romantic?
  • Did you end up with ________? __________? _________? (I was a fickle 18-year-old)
  • Did you see some of the world? Other countries?
  • How many kids do you have? is it hard, childbirth and parenting?
  • Do you have any regrets?

Older self to young Annie:

  • Go spend more time with your grandparents and parents.
  • Be a better friend to your siblings.
  • Get out in nature more. Look out your window at those mountains and go! You're taking them for granted. You live in a beautiful place. 
  • You LUCK OUT in the husband department. Trust (and choose) the good, kind one who makes you happy. 
  • You'll be surprised how much you love being a mother. Maybe think about having more kids than your original plan. You won't understand this now but you even kind of love childbirth.
  • Aim high in the academic/career aspirations department. Go for it. You want to write? Write. Worry/weight/ponder less, do more. Things have a way of working out. 
  •  Don't try to be impressive, think more about being loving and connecting with people and ideas that you care about
  • Always choose the kind, loving way (and choose those kinds of people as friends, too)
  • Pssst. You know those square little apple computers that your friends have? You should invest in that company. And in like 2005 when you think they couldn't possibly think of another new invention, invest again.
  • Take a stats class. Take 5 of them.  And econ and computer programming and design. You'll be glad. Don't let unfamiliar subjects or intimidating professor scare you off--you'll regret that big time.
  • Don't worry about blending in so much. You're a pretty good chameleon but you'll find your truest friends and feel the best when you show how you really think and feel.

What about you?
(And what would you ask your future self now? what things that I think are important will I scoff at decades later?)

*found via A Cup of Jo and Kottke

My latest movie fix

It was one of those staying-in weekend nights and I was doing a Goldilocks-like search for something to watch, not too this, not too that--something new-to-me and a little different than the seasonal blockbusters and reruns--when I chanced upon a movie I think you might like: Before We Go.  Jake (a very likeable Chris Evans, who also directed the film) is a trumpet player playing in Grand Central Station at closing when Brooke (Alice Eve) dashes past him, dropping her phone. She has missed her train home to Boston and has lost her purse (these are all part of the set up details in the first few minutes) but she desperately needs to get home by 7 a.m. The movie follows the two characters through a night in NYC trying to get her back in Boston in time.

If I had to compare it to other films, I'd say it's kind of like Once or Begin Again (that kind of love story) + a little Before Sunrise (two new acquaintances walking around a city at night) + a dash of Roman Holiday (I don't know, it's just a sweet movie about two people roaming around a city) + a splash of Lost in Translation (it has that kind of sleepy insomnia middle of the night feel).  How's that for an odd and sundry list of movie ingredients?! 

I'm going to guess that this is one of those films that I like better than the critics will. Does it break new ground? No. Do you have to suspend belief a little with the plot? Sure. But I liked it--a lot. It's a different kind of love story and it's smart, lovely, funny, sweet. Maybe I just like sweet, relationshippy movies; if that's not your cup of tea, you might not like this one. But so far three generations in my family (me, my parents, my three kids and Greg) have seen it and genuinely liked it. So there you go.

Rated PG13 (I'd say this is right; I'm suggesting this as a movie for YOU but older teens will "get it" more than younger ones--there's some language and some discussions about fidelity/infidelity and other relationship talk).

It's available On Demand now so if you like to be an early adopter, you can download the movie NOW via iTunes  and others (though I have US iTunes so I'm not sure if it's available in other countries, sorry!)  Otherwise, it comes out in early September in the US and other places or put it on your list for your someday Netflix enjoyment. 

In the last couple of months I've also really liked Far from the Madding Crowd (I know, not a big surprise--I do love me a good period drama)  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (not for your young ones, though, I don't think), Inside Out (of course), and Tracks

p.s. Other Nest & Launch movie recommendations here.

Now it's your turn. What movies have you loved lately?

Here's me, being me . . .

My zentangle. I know it looks like an 8th graders marginalia, but it helps me feel less anxious. Weird, I know.

My zentangle. I know it looks like an 8th graders marginalia, but it helps me feel less anxious. Weird, I know.

Here's part of why blog writing(for me) has been intermittent as of late: I don't have anything interesting to write about. My intent is to draw things from real life: what I'm doing, what I'm thinking, things I want to do or see or make. But right this minute, mostly I'm just thinking FRANCE: what to pack, how to prep the home front for my absence, getting Jordan's room (which is currently scattered about the gameroom) back in order. And mostly . . . GETTING MY BABY BACK!

In the meantime I just have half-conceived, mini-posts rattling about my head. Let me give you a sampling:

Zentangle. Many moons ago I posted a short blurb on the art of Zentangle, and after trying a few tangles online I've made it a part of my daily routine. It's part doodling, part drawing, part meditation. It's super relaxing (some people call it yoga for the mind), and gives me a short creative burst in the middle of the day. I have an artist's notebook where I keep all of my patterns and tangles. I'm still working my way through this book, but I'm considering this one next..

Sleep. I'm just finally understanding the whole "How did you sleep?" inquiry. For the majority of my life I've gone to sleep, stayed asleep, and then woke up fairly well-rested. But now? It's a veritable crap shoot. At times, I have trouble falling asleep. Sometimes I can fall asleep, but I wake up 200 times. My mattress feels too hard. What is it with sleep? And how can I get some?

Football. I really love football until about the last week of October (that would be now). Then it's enough. I'm through. I don't want to sit through any more 2+ hours games. I no longer feel like I can justifiably eat the nachos. I'm ready to settle myself in front of a roaring fire with a good book. But no. Football continues.

Ikea! I went to Ikea yesterday! Ikea makes me inexplicably happy. So much good design lurking in that maze of pathways. It makes me feel hopeful and inspired even. (This hope and inspiration is also made possible by a husband who is truly gifted in furniture assembly. I bring home the boxes. He fits it all together.)

Gilmore Girls. Could I write an entire post on the Gilmore Girls? Yes, several even. Guys, Gilmore Girls is now available on Netflix, and watching an episode in the evening fills the cracks in my heart -- mostly because there is always some nugget of dialogue that makes me feel understood. Do you know entire transcripts of various episodes are available online? For this reason was the Internet created. For instance, in one episode Lorelai is trying to write a letter. But she's stuck. This speaks to me: 

LORELAI: Because my brain is a wild jungle full of scary gibberish:
"I'm writing a letter. I can't write a letter." 
"Why can't I write a letter? I'm wearing a green dress."
"I wish I was wearing my blue dress." 
"My blue dress is at the cleaners." 
"'The Germans wore gray. You wore blue."
"'Casablanca' is such a good movie."
"'Casablanca.' The white house. Bush."
"Why don't I drive a hybrid car? I should drive a hybrid car." 
"I should really take my bicycle to work."
"Bicycle. Unicycle. Unitard. Hockey puck. Rattlesnake. Monkey, monkey, underpants."

And now, all I can think about is Monkey, monkey, underpants.

Happy Wednesday out there.





The Movie List: 100+ Movies for Mid-stage Families

We're always on the lookout for movies we can watch as a family of parents + teens + older kids, anything from feel-good happily-ever-afters to comedies to thought-provoking dramas that are more complex than a Disney movie but still geared for our ages and stages. Are you in the same boat? Well,  this is for you, fellow mid-stage families!

We've been haphazardly jotting down random movie suggestions for years--on an old envelope in my wallet, an index card in the kitchen, our Netflix queue online, and an electronic list on my phone. Lately several friends have asked for our movie list so last week I finally gathered the random jottings into one big list of 100+ movies we've either watched already or want to watch together.

A couple of notes: Keep in mind that my kids are in the older teen range so not every movie on our list will necessarily work for you. I've starred the ones that I think might warrant closer supervision or previewing by a parent. But starred or not, it's always good to take a look at a website like Common Sense Media or Kids in Mind (or even IMDB or Wikipedia) to see if a movie sounds right for you and your family.

You might notice that I've not listed superhero movies or Star Potters of the Lost Ark of the Ring or other blockbusters because, well, of course we're going to see those. These are more off-the-beaten-path selections or forgotten gems from other decades. If it contributes to our movie/cultural/historical literacy, all the better! 

The Funny & The Fun 
O Brother Where Art Thou*
The Philadelphia Story
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
The Sandlot
His Girl Friday
You’ve Got Mail
That Thing You Do
Mrs. Doubtfire
Sleepless in Seattle
Groundhog Day
A Hard Day's Night
Princess Bride
Pink Panther movies*
Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)
Funny Girl
Raising Arizona*
The Fairy Tale Theatre series
Adam’s Rib
Bringing Up Baby
Better Off Dead*
The Brothers Bloom*
Robot & Frank
The Decoy Bride
Follow Me, Boys
Fly Away Home

. . .

The Feel Goods & The Dramas
Mr. Holland’s Opus
An Affair to Remember
Rabbit-Proof Fence
Roman Holiday
The Red Shoes
Heaven Can Wait
The Fugitive*
The Bishop’s Wife
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
It’s a Wonderful Life
An American in Paris
Rear Window*
The Shop Around the Corner
12 Angry Men
Wait Until Dark*
The Shawshank Redemption
Ten Things I Hate About You
Not Without my Daughter
Get Low
Shall We Dance?
Storm Boy
The Help
The Secret Life of Bees

. . .

The Challenges & Triumphs
Field of Dreams
Apollo 13
The Dish
A League of Their Own*
Chariots of Fire
The Karate Kid (the 80s one)
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
October Sky*
Pursuit of Happyness
Akeelah and the Bee
Brian's Song
Whale Rider*
Taking Chance
A Song For Marion
The Astronaut Farmer
Take Shelter
Walk the Line
Rebel Without a Cause
The Blindside*
Life of Pi

. . .

The Literary & The Historical
A Passage to India
All the President’s Men*
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Finding Neverland
Sense and Sensibility
Becoming Jane
The Lion in Winter
Henry V*
Ever After
Quiz Show
Thirteen Days*
Lawrence of Arabia
Young Mr. Lincoln
2000 Leagues Under the Sea
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Gone with the Wind
How Green was My Valley
Our Mutual Friend
Ben Hur
Wizard of Oz
Doctor Zhivago*
The Slipper and the Rose
Hans Christian Andersen
Carrie's War
The Robe
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid*
Empire of the Sun*
Out of Africa*
The Pride of the Yankees
Pride & Prejudice
The Glenn Miller Story
The Outsiders*
The Dead Poets Society*
Bright Star*
Young Victoria
Little Women (several versions)
To Kill a Mockingbird*
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day
Miss Potter
East of Eden
Amazing Grace
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas*

. . .

The Musicals:
The King and I
My Fair Lady
Singing in the Rain
West Side Story
Meet Me in St. Louis
Les Mis
Sound of Music
One Night The Moon*

. . .

The Documentaries:
First Position
Being Elmo
Up documentary series*
Mad Hot Ballroom
Tim’s Vermeer*
The Pixar Story
Fame High
To Be and To Have (Etre et Avoir)
March of the Penguins
Winged Migration
Searching for Sugarman*
Hoop Dreams*
A State of Mind
Anything by Michael Mosley
Redesign My Brain

. . .

The Foreign Films:
Children of Heaven
Les Choristes

Opal Dream
The Red Balloon
Cinema Paradiso*
The Mission
Jean de Florette
Kiki's Delivery Service
My Neighbor Totoro
The Gilded Cage*
The Finishers
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon*
Life is Beautiful*
The Intouchables
Monsoon Wedding

*= might need some closer supervision or pre-viewing by a parent

Okay, your turn! Any suggestions? Go ahead and add your picks in the comments and I'll add them (those additions to the list are in italics). Happy watching!


The angsty-ness & the awesomeness

A few weeks ago, we were all sitting around the kitchen table playing music for each other from our playlists. Somehow G and I started sharing all of our old adolescent 80s music, complete with accompanying interpretive lipsyncing, when we hit on a virtual musical time capsule. Has there ever, in the history of music, been a more teen-angsty song than "Somebody" by Depeche Mode?! It catapulted me back to my little dark basement bedroom in Logan Utah, hugging a pillow and wringing out every overwrought emotion that lead singer Martin Gore evoked. I'm telling you, that guy knew his audience.  And I wasn't even especially angsty in my regular, daylight hours.

After working with teenagers for the last 10-15 years, I've realized that every last one feels different at some point: outside of the perceived crowd, other-than, left out. As Robert Sapolsky noted in his awesomely titled recent article "Dude, Where's my Frontal Cortex?": "One brain-imaging study reveals the neural depths of adolescent pain in not belonging. Put someone in a scanner to play a video game with two other individuals, and manipulate things so that the subject believes they are being ostracized. In adults, this social exclusion activates the amygdala along with other limbic regions associated with pain, disgust, anger, and sadness. But then the frontal cortex kicks in—“Come on, it’s a stupid game”—and the limbic structures quiet down. Do the same with an adolescent and the frontal cortex remains silent and that agonized limbic network of teenage angst wails."

But this hyper-awareness has a positive side, too. Sapolsky goes on to note that "adolescence isn’t always as dark as it’s made out to be. There’s a feature of adolescence that makes up for the stupid risk-taking and hideous fashion decisions. And that’s an adolescent’s frenzied, agitated, incandescent ability to feel someone else’s pain, to feel the pains of the entire world, to want to right all its wrongs. Adolescents are nature’s most wondrous example of empathy, where the forcefulness of feeling as the other can border on nearly being the other.

"This intensity is at the intersection of so many facets of adolescence. With the highs higher and lows lower, the empathic pain scalds and the glow of having done the right thing makes it seem plausible that we are here for a purpose. Another factor is the openness to novelty. An open mind is a prerequisite for an open heart, and the adolescent hunger for the new readily presents opportunities to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes."  

Case in point: when Sapolsky's young daughter performs in a heavy play about Bosnia, he notices the effect the performance has on some teens in the theatre:

"Some high school kids had come to a performance as a group outing for an English class. About halfway through the play, my daughter’s character appears for the first time, cautiously emerging from a ventilation duct in her kitchen where she’d been hiding, unaware that the soldier who had just left the apartment after killing her mother was going to return. Up until that point, she had only been hinted at as a character. The soldier had his ethnic-cleansing to-do list of names of Bosnians in the building to kill, and kept demanding of the mother, “Where’s your daughter? It says you have a daughter.” “I don’t have a daughter,” the mother repeated up until her death. So as the girl begins to emerge from the ventilation duct, the realization sweeps through the audience: there is a daughter. As my daughter began to crawl out, the teenagers in the audience did something you’re not supposed to do in a theater, something no adult with a developed frontal cortex would do. After a moment of hushed silence, two or three voices called out, “No!” Another called, “Go back in, it’s not safe!,” another, “He’s coming back!” After the play, the teenagers clustered around my little girl when she came out of the stage door, hugging her, reassuring themselves that both she and her character were OK. 

Oh, the feels, as the kids say. I try to remember how powerful and vivid those emotional rapids felt and that they're intensified by brain development and hormones and The teen behaviors might keep screaming Dude, where's my frontal cortex? but we parents have enough to spare and share until our kids find their own.

 The whole Sapolsky article is a good read on teen brain development. (Thanks, Tona!)

Okay, friends. Here's what I need to know: What were your go-to angsty songs as a teenager?

Don't you forget about me

Recently This American Life aired a segment featuring Molly Ringwald's experience watching The Breakfast Club with her daughter for the first time. It was an interesting and surprisingly poignant conversation with her daughter (and, later, with Ira Glass) about seeing things differently years later through mama eyes, subjective memory, expectations, and the sometimes surprising messages and moments that kids internalize.

A snippet from the interview: 

Ira Glass: So this is the first time that you saw the film as a parent. Did you see it differently?

Molly Ringwald: Absolutely. I really did. I really kind of felt for the parents.

Ira Glass: For people who haven't seen The Breakfast Club, a lot of it is about the kids being disappointed in the parents.

Molly Ringwald: Yeah. And how alone and isolated and frustrated you feel with your parents. And now I see the movie and I just think, oh, their poor parents. And I think that when it was pointed out to me that the movie just talks about how all parents suck, you know, then I thought in my mind, well, actually that might be kind of good because then she can see that she doesn't have parents like that. And then she can, you know, appreciate us. [Laughs.]

. . .

What actually happens when she discusses the movie with her daughter unfolds both in the way she wanted and in a way she didn't expect. You can read the full This American Life transcript here, in segment three. Or have a listen (starting at 38:48):