Sunday, August 19, 2012

Movie Review: Tiny Furniture

It’s been a while since I shared a post of Indies I feel are amazingly worth watching. I've been busy, and working a lot blah, blah; I’m happy to report that this weekend I ended my relentlessly long Indie drought with a few irresistibly witty and exceptionally funny films that I couldn’t wait to blog (and rave) about. I know my Fan-tic (my attempt at a play on the word frantic) rants are quite transparent when I find films that I absolutely love, however, once in a great while I do happen to find films that drives love to entirely new heights of euphoric Indie ecstasy. For me, that film is most definitely Tiny Furniture.

I’ve been meaning to watch Tiny Furniture for so long, I can’t even recall, but I could never find it in theaters near me since it was a limited release. I mean, the film was almost a ghost for so long I almost forgot about it; I’ve never had such a hard time gaining access to an Indie that I was super stoked about checking out. Then cometh the big uproar of praise for its director/writer/creator Lena Dunham after her new T.V series Girls (BTW I’m so addicted to this show, and if you haven’t caught an episode, you are seriously missing out) won massive acclaim resulting in an Emmy nomination, and poof! I was finally able to grab copies of the film everywhere I turned. I can honestly say the wait was worth it. From the opening scene to the very last, I laughed uncontrollably, I awed, I screamed from mortification (seriously. You’ll understand when you see it), I laughed -this time louder than before-again, and awed some more. It was so refreshing, so witty, so honest, and so well done I can’t even stand it. Lena Dunham is a friggin' genius, and speeding to the top of my favorite writers list.

Enough of the gush; here are the specs.

Tiny Furniture was written and directed by Lena Dunham, and stars Dunham (Aura), Jemima Kirke (Charlotte) , Amy Seimetz (Ashlynn), and Laurie Simmons (Siri) and Merritt Wever (Frankie).

Aura, a freshly graduated liberal arts major, is having quite a difficult time trying to gain a sense of identity and figure out what she wants out of life. Amidst her inner struggle, bruised by a failed relationships, and feeling overwhelmed by her lack of direction, she decides to move back to her family’s TriBeCa loft to allow herself time to figure things out. She starts work as a hostess at a local restaurant where she then meets and falls into what appears to be an accidental relationships with two obnoxiously self-absorbed men; it soon becomes apparent to Aura that figuring out life is only half the battle, compared to the larger charge of figuring out what she wants/needs from herself.

I know that a lot of people might view this film as whiny rich girls complaining about nothing, but I really enjoyed how realistic, and completely exposed the characters are. Dunham didn't try to mask Aura's selfishness under the typical euphemisms  of self discovery, she just simply allowed the characters to be displayed as they would in reality; immaturity, longing, flaws and all. The layers of this film are so rich, and well done, and I really loved, loved, LOVED it. Thumbs up to Lena Dunham! 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

WW Resource: Higher Ground

If you are looking for adventure, time to de-compress, or have a love of all things outdoors, I think I may have found some info that you’ll really be interested in. The program is called Higher Ground, and was emailed to me by our Caregiver Support Coordinator.

Higher Ground is basically an organization that offers weeklong therapeutic sports camps for Veterans (and their spouses/caregivers/supporters) with TBI/PTSD/Poly. Some of the outdoor adventures include: winter sports, fly fishing, rafting, and paddle sports; but more than that, they offer an opportunity to break away from our everyday struggles and connect with groups of other Veterans and their spouses who are fighting the same battles that you may be fighting. I’ve heard great things about it so far and have just submitted our application.

The best part in all this- ALL costs are covered for both the Veteran and their spouse, and the camps are demographically oriented to the needs and location of the Vet and spouse. Not to mention they also provide an additional three years of follow up and activities openings, resources at home to cover any unmet needs, and have a reintegration budget to provide goods and services needed to continue a healthy recreation lifestyle. All in all, one hell of a program for qualifying participants. If you or your warrior is interested and want to know more about the qualification requirements, check out their site and apply here

Take care, and live well! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Warrior Wife Resource: VA Caregiver Support Program/ Services

I’m not sure if maybe my head has been in a fog for the past year and a half, but for some reason I didn’t correlate my taking care of my husband while he struggles through PTSD and TBI, to be being considered as caregiving. Sure, I’ve heard myself and other women in my shoes be referred to as the caregiver , but somehow I just shrugged that title off as simply a way to identify me in relation to him as a veteran. For some reason, I just didn’t consider myself as a caregiver in a literal sense (please refer to the above mentioned head in a fog). So as I’m sure you can imagine and to my utter surprise, when finding out two months ago after yet another routine visit to the VA with the hubby, that not only did the VA consider me (and other wives) as caregivers, they also have special services in place to support us as caregivers, and provide us with resources to elevate some of the day to day stressors we experience.

I think now is an appropriate time to say WOW!

Now I must admit, I haven’t exactly had the best relationship with the VA- both the hubby and I have had problems with our local VA in the past, which have recently been rectified- however, this program in particular, as well as the caregiver support coordinators who run it, have significantly helped to turn my impression of the VA around. I applied to become the official caregiver of the hubby under the Post-911 Veterans charter; a program/new law that will provide assistance to primary family caregivers of eligible post-9/11 Veterans and Service members. Within a couple of days I received a call from the support coordinator, and was immediately placed in rotation to begin the review and evaluation process. The entire process should take no longer than about 45 days (if you comply with the deadlines), and is pretty simple to complete although it does require you completing (including certification) a caregivers course through Easter Seals.

Here are just a few benefits that come with this program once you have been approved:

         Travel Expenses (including lodging and per diem while accompanying Veterans undergoing care)

        Access to health care insurance (if the Caregiver is not already entitled to care or services under a health care plan)

 Mental health services and counseling

 Comprehensive VA Caregiver training provided by Easter Seals

  Respite care

  Monthly stipend

In addition to the great benefits allotted to caregivers, the support of the program leaders, and endless supply of resources to me is worth its weight in gold. If you or someone you know are interested in this program, contact your local VA and ask if they have a Caregiver Support Coordinator. If you need additional information, contact 1-877-222 VETS (8387) or visit VACaregivers to find out who’s eligible.

Take care everyone, and live well. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Birthdays, cocktails, book signings, and a dark knight oh my!

Last month was filled with many surprises, celebrations, loads of fun, and one very big milestone; I turned 29! Ok…maybe 29 isn’t a milestone for most, but for me its extremely important as it memorializes my official last year of my twenties. I am usually thrilled to pieces around time for my birthday, but this one evoked more irrational nervousness than thrills and cheers. Now I don’t know if it was the few gray hairs I found framing my forehead or the crack of my hip one morning as I got out of bed, but the thought of 29 was really giving me the blues, and no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t shake it. I guess it’s because I know 30 is right around the corner, and whether I like to admit it or not, 30 is scary (please refer to above mentioned irrational nerves). So to prevent me from falling into full-fledged Eeyore, my closest Jane’s and I decided to ring in this birthday right by celebrating the 29th year of my escape from the womb for an entire week straight.

It started with a book signing of one of my favorite authors, cupcakes, and a Melting pot. I’ve never been to a book signing- despite what my mother may argue- so I was ecstatic to hear that the bestie (Otherwise known as Jane S.) would be escorting me to a short reading and signing of one of my favorite bestselling authors Jennifer Weiner to promote her new book The Next Best Thing, and kick of my week of celebrations. By the by, the cupcakes and treats were flowing by the dozens- WIN!

 I had so much fun; Jennifer was funny, and personable, such a sweetheart, and to my surprise took the time out to speak to me directly and give me some much needed advice regarding writers block and getting published! I left that signing feeling energized, inspired and quite hungry as all the jumping up and down in excitement was quite the work out. By the way, in addition to signing my ENTIRE collection of her novels, check out the swag Jennifer gave me after our little talk as a thank you and keep your head in the game token.

Officially the coolest reader at the beach with my JW beach towl!

Did I mention she also personally commented on a picture I posted of her, the bestie and I at her book signing via Facebook???! Yeah…that happened. Because you know, were best friends now. True story.

After the book signing fun Jane S. decided to take me on a tour of the local hot spots of the area, which lead us to The Melting Pot in Downtown Pasadena. I’d actually never been to The Melting Pot, so the whole experience had me giddy and ultimately hopping around like a kid in a candy store. But really…could you blame me, look at the dessert platter that comes with a luscious pot of dark chocolate/caramel dipping sauce; Yummmmmmm.

Next on the agenda was cocktails and a dinner date I had with another close Jane of mine- Jane C. We went to Newport Beach to dine at one of the most creatively decorated restaurants I’ve ever been to- The Cannery. The food was Ah-Ma-zing, the ambiance was stylish, and the cocktails were divine.

Check out the blown-glass Jelly Fish lamps!

Next up was another book signing with my Cuzzo of another of my favorite authors, Chuck Palahniuk to promote his new book Invisible Monsters Remix . Not only did I have a blast, (oh and Chuck- yep, I call him Chuck now, we’re tight like that-tweeted a picture of me and the cuzzo to commemorate the evening) we all had the opportunity to see this amazing writer in a light usually reserved for only his nearest and dearest. It was so amazing, so ri-don-culously amazing. And there’s video to prove it!

I'm the one in the tan-ish top that almost ninja kicked this woman that was trying to tiger block me (that will make sense after watching).

Next was my date with the hubby and ladybug, the beautiful rolling hills of Malibu, and a Dark Knight (my condolences to all family members of Aurora. My heart aches for all of you). It’s hard to express happiness on a day stricken by tragedy. I tell you, I don’t know about this world sometimes.

The Dark Knight Rises was incredible and was everything (and more) that I expected the epic conclusion of its trilogy to be. Tom Hardy as Bane, was so close to the comic book depiction it was almost scary, and Anne Hathaway (whom I’m convinced I will be friends with one day) was the perfect vision of Catwoman. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend you get off your arse and check it out. YOU WILL LOOOVVEEE it! Best of all, the day of my actual escape from the womb was filled with love, from my two favorite people ever.

I seriously heart these two so much

The fun didn’t stop there, oh no sir, there’s more. The day after my birthday Jane S. and C joined me and the Hubby at one of my favorite spots- The House of Blues Anaheim Downtown Disney-for dinner and 29 celebrations. 

My girls!

We got there at about 8:30ish and had seats outside, so to my utter surprise and delight, when I looked up to see the firework show from Disneyland which is attached to the strip we were on above our heads, my birthday celebrations felt even more special and totally tailored for me (please don’t kill me delusions- a girl can dream if she wants to). It was so much fun, and probably one of the best times I’ve had in a long time; I was even more shocked to receive an unexpected, um...birthday dance (???), from a total stranger to top my night off.

 The entire night we laughed louder than usual, and cheered to our hearts content. I’ve never felt so special. I can’t say the nerves are completely settled about my impending 30’s, but it helps to know that no matter what’s going on in my life, I have the most amazing group friends that I know I can count on to cheer me on, and help keep my irrational Eeyor moments at bay.  True Story.

Yep...we're total G's don't cha know.