Anxiety Wars Episode II: Attack of the Nerves

Let’s start with a simple fact that our culture is desperately afraid of.  Ready? Sometimes, life makes you uncomfortable.  It’s okay to pause here and collect yourself for a few seconds.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Alright, though, in all seriousness uncomfortable and nerve-wracking situations are just a part of life and sooner or later, we all go through them.  Take me, for example.  My band Spinning Jenny just played our first show last night in three months.  On top of that, I’ve been battling a cold and my voice wasn’t at its strongest.  Nervous much? I was shaking in my boots.  I must have gone through our songs in my head a million times over.  I – well, let’s just look at a GIF for an example.

Not too pretty, right? RIP chubby Josh Peck.

No matter if your nerves come from a band, sports, your job, social pressure, school, or whatever’s going on in your life, they are going to come.  Now before you start googling “how to suppress nerves” wait a second! Maybe, just maybe, nerves can be healthy.  How? Let’s take a look.

I like to think of my pre-show nerves as my brain looking out for me.  Granted, it’s in a very uncomfortable way (and it’s tough on my poor fingernails) but the thing about nerves is that they keep you sharp.  I was nervous before the show, so I made sure I knew our songs inside and out.  I was nervous about changing settings on my guitar, so those nerves made sure I didn’t forget what I had to do on stage.  As a result, we had an awesome show! Now I’m not saying “Oh, let your nerves run wild! Terror and anxiety builds character!” I am saying, however, that a little nervousness can be turned into something positive and go a long way.  I would much rather be a little nervous and a little more aware of what I’m doing than just waltz on stage without checking over what I need to do.  Everyone is different, and I know that I tend to be a little more anxious than others, but the truth is that no matter your personality you will have to deal with nerves.  And though you can’t do much to control them, you don’t have to let them control you.  Let them make you sharper, let them make you put more work into what you need to do, let them keep you humble.  And just remember, at the heart of everything, you know you got this.  And no amount of nerves can change that.

 

– God bless,

Julia

The Stages of Staying Up All Night In GIFs

Hi! I’ve only been up for two hours! Why? Because I was up all night, baby!

Nope, that’s not how it happened.  But if getting sucked into the swirling black hole of procrastination that is the internet is partying, then yeah I partied HARDCORE.  You’ve been there before.  Enjoy this handy-dandy presentation in GIFs!

“Just one…more…level…” you say to yourself as you force yourself to stay awake.  The world ain’t gonna save itself!

Ah, there we go.  Mission accomplished.  You reward your heroics by going to bed.  “Sleep is great!” you think foolishly.

You snuggle in the sheets all comfy….BUT WAIT

There’s that super important internet thing that you forgot to check! It can’t wait, obviously.  Phase 1 complete.

Man, that music video by that artist you kind of like was awesome! Ooh, suggestions column? Better watch all of their videos just to see if they’re worth listening to.  Somehow you go from this…

(Awesome)

To this…

(BLECK)

To this…

(Better…)

TO THIS

(THE BEST MUSIC VIDEO OF ALL TIME)

Add ten points if you’ve avoided Wrecking Ball so far! So you’ve gotten your fill of music.  Time to see what your friends (and frenemies) have been up to.  To Facebook!

It’s all fun and games until you see somebody’s status that makes you all like…

So you make sure to type “pinterest.com” in the most annoyed way possible JUST SO THEY KNOW THAT YOU KNOW.  Of course Pinterest is the event horizon of the internet, and once you’re there you can forget sleep.

The next few hours are a blur as you become into a raging, pinning, maniac and honestly it’s best that you won’t remember this part the next day.

^ accurate picture of you.

Eventually, something draws your eyes to the clock.  You react appropriately.

Now is the moment of truth.  You must ask yourself a question.  Are you going to sleep tonight?

ARE YOU????

You take a deep breath.  You crack your knuckles.  You look that computer right in the eye and whisper:

FREEDOM

Triumphant over the powers of basic human needs, you enter the final and most fearsome pit of the internet…Netflix.

Of course the next day you wake up like…

But:

– Julia

My Favorite Horror Movie Scenes

Horror is one of my favorite genres of film, and among the many thrills and chills they deliver, some scenes stand out above the rest as that moment where you either jumped out of your seat or covered your eyes in fear.  Ranging from some conventional classic thrillers to the more unexpected, today I present to you (in no particular order) my list of favorite horror movie moments! Spoilers ahead!

*Warning: some of the clips contain scary images and/or strong language.  Minors may want to skip this one!

*You may notice some of your favorites left out.  If so, it’s probably because I couldn’t find a high quality clip to share! Sorry!

1. The Blair Witch Project – Apology Scene

In perhaps the best found footage horror movie of all time, The Blair Witch Project is one of the few scary movies that I’ve seen that still scares the crap out of me.  Chronicling an unfortunate trio of students lost in the woods and terrified by unexplained events, this scene stands out as the most iconic and one of the best.  Heather’s monologue is one of someone who’s completely lost hope and her terror bleeds off the screen.  A true testament to the power of the imagination, this scene lets the audience share Heather’s fear of the alleged witch…whose unseen presence makes her truly terrifying.

2. The Shining – Are You Concerned About Me?

It’s unfair to call this scene my favorite because in a film as incredible as The Shining, it’s impossible to choose a favorite.  Today, however, this scene stuck out to me in particular.  Why? It’s horrible to watch poor Wendy terrorized by her crazy-as-@^#$*& husband, Jack and it’s not even the creepiest part of the film.  However, I chose this one because of it’s hidden meaning and questions.  So Jack starts freaking out on Wendy about his “moral and ethical principles,” AKA his responsibilities as the the caretaker of the hotel.  Big deal, right? He’s just nuts.  Okay.  Well, who exactly are the referred employers he’s signed a contract with, and what does the contract oblige him to? Are they the hotel owners and is he supposed to keep the hotel from getting dusty? In my mind, I can only imagine that Mr. Torrance is alluding to something much more sinister…

3. The Thing (1982) – Tainted Blood

John Carpenter’s super-violent The Thing is tense above all else.  By brilliantly only letting the audience know as much as the film’s characters do, we become as fearful and untrustworthy as the unlucky cast.  This scene demonstrates the peak of The Thing‘s suspense – MacReady (Kurt Russell) is testing the men’s blood samples in order to find the tainted one, which will tell them who is the monster in disguise.  In a scene already this tense, as the characters watch MacReady eliminate the suspects, it’s jump scare is one of the most unexpected and effective I’ve ever seen.  It just gets gross from there, an interesting contrast of red blood and flesh against the cold, steel environment.

4. Psycho – Arbogast On The Stairs

There’s a lot of scenes in Psycho that have been examined over and over, revealing the twisted inner psyche of Norman Bates or highlighting a particularly brilliant technique of Hitchcock’s.  I love all of those, but I decided to pick the one that scared the living daylights out of me and made me wary of climbing stairs.  The anticipation eats away at the audience and when the big scare comes – it’s time to change your shorts.  The fear on the doomed detective’s face as he plummets down the stairs is unforgettable and moments like this make Psycho thrilling.

5. Halloween – Walk Home

The infamous Michael Myers only makes two brief appearances in this clip, but the effect is felt throughout the entire scene.  It only takes one glimpse to put us on edge, and we spend a lot of the clip filled with the feeling of being watched.  After all, Michael Myers doesn’t lurk in the shadows.  He lives right next door.

6. The Possession – Opening Scene

I went into this one blind, and the first scene absolutely sells this movie as terrifying.  We’ve seen the setup before in the horror genre with the villain killing off some poor soul in a spectacular fashion at the movie’s beginning, but somehow The Possession takes the same direction without coming off as familiar.  The rest of the movie’s scares are just as spooky, and as a bonus it’s on instant streaming on Netflix! What are you waiting for?

7. Jaws – A Bigger Boat

The classic “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” scene from the first summer blockbuster is a classic for two reasons.  Firstly, it contains one of the most famous movie lines of all time, and secondly because of the brilliant way it handles the shark’s (visible) entrance to the film.  What makes Jaws so scary is, much like The Blair Witch Project, what is not seen, but what we know is there.  Spielberg tricks the audience into security with Captain Brody’s humorous line, making the audience chuckle one moment before we freak out as the shark bursts from the water.  Genius.

8. Alien – Chestburster

http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/298086/Alien-Movie-Clip-Food-Ain-t-That-Bad.html

The scene that’s been parodied a thousand times is still one of Alien‘s best.  Here, we get a clue that the xenomorph isn’t any normal horror movie bad guy.  It is first and foremost a predator, and a predator’s main goal is to hunt down its prey.  Unfortunately for John Hurt, the alien is lethal even as a newborn.  In one of the greatest movie monster reveals of all time, we meet the xenomorph as it eats its way out of Hurt’s chest and zips away, leaving the horrified crew speechless.  It only goes downhill from here for the Nostromo.

So that’s it for now! Hope you had fun checking out or revisiting some of the best scary movie moments of all time.  Let me know what gave you the chills in the comments!

Happy Birthday, Pop!

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Pictured with my sister above is my grandfather, John Dino DiCarlo, or Pop.  He passed away on June 10th, 2013 and today would have been his 82nd birthday.  In honor of such an amazing man who lived his life so well, I’ve put together a kind of virtual scrapbook — a collection of memories, wise words, smiling faces, and things of meaning.  There’s so many titles that could describe Pop: Catholic, business man, Italian, son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, friend – but somehow, Pop, the name that all his grandchildren called him, seems to sum it all up.  Please enjoy getting to know one of the greatest men I have ever known.  Please press play on the audio track above to hear a song while you read.  The song is by my band, Spinning Jenny, and was written about Pop towards the end of his life.  I think of him every time I play it.

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Here’s Pop and my grandma on their wedding day back in 1952! Their marriage would eventually produce six children, twenty-two grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren!

Pop-ism #1: “Eat that, it’s good for you! It’ll make hair grow on your chest!

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Here he is in his backyard with my cousin! The love he showed to all of us grandkids was incredible.  When Pop talked to you, you felt that love in every word.

Pop-ism #2: “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck!”

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Pop taught me that you’re never too old to be silly.  When I was younger he drove me to karate or dancing and we played games the entire way.  Who Wants To Be A Millionaire was one of our favorites, and he made the occasions when I would hit a million bucks in the final question feel as triumphant as the real thing.

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“Today would have been my Dad’s 82nd birthday. Not a day goes by that we don’t think of him and talk about his favorite things especially his love for his family. We ask him to please pray for us as he looks down from heaven. He was a wonderful father and I’ll keep his memory in my heart forever.” – Today’s facebook status from my aunt.

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Pop, you were one of the biggest role models in my life and I miss you so much, but I know that I’ll see you again.  Love every day, forever,

– Julia

“You are my sunshine

My only sunshine

You make me happy

When skies are grey

You’ll never know, dear

How much I love you

Please don’t take my sunshine away”

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What I’m Looking Forward To In 2014

Hasta la vista, 2013.  It’s time to move on to a brand new year, full of possibilities and promises, opportunities and adventures.  Who knows? No matter what, here’s a list of things, both possible and far-fetched, that I’m looking forward to in the new year.

1. Next-gen games.

Like inFAMOUS: Second Son above, there’s a LOT of exciting next-gen games to look forward to for both Xbox One and PS4.  Stuff like Watch Dogs, Destiny, Titanfall, and others are going to practically ensure that 2014 will be a great time to be a gamer.

2. Finishing high school and starting college

Even though I happen to identify with Chris Traeger on this one, I’m excited to finish the evil that is high school and start a new chapter in college.  Meeting new people will be great, although I “litrally” don’t know where I’m going to go yet or what I’d like to major in…

3. Falling in love

IT COULD HAPPEN OKAY

4. Traveling somewhere I’ve never been

My family likes to go on vacation and this year it would be amazing to go somewhere I’ve never been.  Alaska? Yes, please, but I’m up for anything!

5. Whatever’s in store for my band, Spinning Jenny

Oh a grammy? I’ll take it.

6. Learning more about myself

Another year, more opportunities to figure out who we really are.  And yes, your netflix recently watched category counts.

7. Turning 18

CUZ I’M EIGHTEEN AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT (except everything I just listed)

8. Writing and writing and writing and writing

Have so many ideas I’ll need an entire year and more to get them all written down.  Hey, this is convenient!

– Julia

My Pumpkin For Halloween This Year

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and every year without fail, my family and I carve pumpkins.  Since I have an obsessive-compulsive desire to go out of the box, I try to make my pumpkins different.  They usually end up as a reflection of my geekdom.  E.g., the pumpkin I ended up with this year.

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So Walter White isn’t very “halloweeny.”  I’m going to take his attitude and not really care what you guys think.  Heisenberg does what he wants.

Did I mention that I also painted a Castiel pumpkin? He’s adorbs.

Anyways, what I’m saying is that whether it’s your pumpkin or your Halloween costume, don’t be afraid to do what you want to do.  A close friend of mine was going as River Song (from Doctor Who) before she decided to go as Christine Daae from The Phantom Of The Opera.  Does she sound like she cares about what people think of her or the Halloween costume norms for our age? (these include slutty princess, slutty pirate, slutty witch, and, most bizarrely, slutty whale: http://www.ohgizmo.com/2013/10/08/sexy-version-of-bizarre-halloween-costumes/weird-sexy-halloween-costumes7/ …I don’t know either) My friend is comfortable with who she is and isn’t afraid to dress up as the characters that she loves.  And that’s awesome.  My girl cousin went as Optimus Prime one year.  Also awesome.  I’m not saying that any and all Halloween costumes will be instantly recognized or appreciated.  But if you love something, show it! Even if people don’t know who you are exactly, they’ll respect you for being an individual.  And if they don’t, well…

Are you going as something uniquely awesome this year? Let me know! Share your individuality in the comments! I love Halloween and I’d love to hear your costume ideas!

– Julia

I Want To Be Alone: Why Spending Time By Yourself Is A Good Thing

The Daily Suck

Although I don’t pretend to be nearly as fabulous as Oscar Wilde, I’m still taking inspiration from a quote of his for today’s post.

THIS I have perfected...for My next chapter in Life, I would love Companionship ~ M

Now this might sound unappealing at first.  After all, who wants to be alone? We naturally desire the company of others.  And that’s fine.

To a degree.  *Oh, you knew a big DUN DUN DUN was coming, didn’t you?*

Knowing how to be by yourself is truly a lost art among today’s teenagers (and adults) and that’s bad because it’s so important, not only to ourselves but, weirdly enough, to our relationships.  Let’s take a look.  Or a read.  Let’s take a read.  You know what, nevermind, let’s just take a look.  

Say you’re an average sixteen-year old girl.  After being at school all day, you then head off to soccer practice.  After that’s done, you go home to finish your homework, all while texting your friend or boyfriend.  Finally, because it’s a Friday night, you go see whatever young adult novel film adaptation is showing at the theater with your friends.  Wow.  There really hasn’t been a spare moment in your entire day when you haven’t been interacting with your peers in some way or another.  Now there’s nothing wrong with this scenario per se, but stay at it for a while and soon enough you find that you’re not happy unless you’re with or talking to your friends.  Are a friends a bad thing? Absolutely not.  I’m still working on building my BFF traps to ensnare some (I’ve snagged a few, but they’re unusually rare in my region).  What I’m saying is that this lifestyle can become dangerous to your well-being as you slowly lose your ability to just be alone.  Everybody loves hanging out with friends.  But, like Oscar Wilde says, you NEED to know how to be yourself and not be defined by other people.  What do you like to do, really, when you’re not with friends? What makes you unique from everyone else? I think the most important question is this, however.

What is scaring you about being by yourself?

Seriously, think about this.  From my experience, insecurity boils at the heart of that question.  If you don’t love yourself, then of course you never want to be alone.  Do you love yourself, really? If the answer is no, then look into my virtual eyeballs.

LOVE YOURSELF.

And you can bet your bottom that if Robert Downey Jr. told me to love myself, I sure as heck would listen.  And then scream.  And then pass out.

It’s a simple thing that’s hard to do.  I know.  But you won’t be able to be content with being by yourself unless you love yourself! And I can guarantee that the emptiness you feel when you’re alone won’t be filled by BFF time.  Yes, friends can have an amazing impact on your life.  They pick you up when you’re down.  They make you laugh.  They listen to your problems.  And they stick with you.  But at the end of the day, you are living in your own skin, and you have got to love it.  And that doesn’t mean liking it every day.  Just a healthy “I am happy being me” attitude.  It’s actually really hard to have friends (meaningful ones, anyway) without this mindset.  Nobody likes a Clingy McClinger or a Whiny Whinington all the time.  And like I’ve said in a previous post, you can’t really love someone else until you love yourself.  People are really attracted to confidence (not arrogance), and the only way to gain that confidence is by knowing yourself.  And how do you get to know yourself? (All together, now!) By spending time alone!

So, no, this isn’t a friend-bashing post.  By all means, make those special relationships with others.  But it’s only fair to them and to yourself that you really know who you are.  You don’t want to be a fake friend.  Nobody wins in that scenario.  Just take some time to learn about yourself and appreciate that person! It’s fun, but you do not have to be with someone else or texting somebody or tweeting somebody every minute of the day.  Be comfortable with being alone.  You are a really cool and interesting person.  Allow yourself to figure that out.  And if others or even the people you thought were your friends don’t appreciate you for you, then I send them off in true Oscar Wilde fashion.

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– Julia

Birthday Day Off

The Daily Suck

Hey guys! Just a short message explaining why I didn’t post today.  It’s my 17th birthday and I’ve been out all day: it was my first day of my college class and then I spent the rest of the day hanging out with my family! I had an amazing day and am truly blessed to have such a wonderful family and friends! Normal posting will continue tomorrow! Thanks and see you then!

– Julia

Friday Movie Night: On The Waterfront

I’m kicking off my brand new feature called Friday Movie Night with my favorite movie of all time, On The Waterfront (1954) starring Marlon Brando and directed by Elia Kazan!

Now asking someone what their favorite movie is a tough question and not too many people can choose just one.  There’s hundreds of fantastic movies out there after all and they’re awesome in different ways.  I’m one of those people.  Picking my favorite movie is impossible, especially since I’ve seen tons of them.  But didn’t I just say that On The Waterfront was my favorite? I did, not because I’ve picked it above all other movies to be the best one ever made, but because it was the first movie that sparked my passion for films. 

On The Waterfront released in 1954, starring one of the biggest new actors in Hollywood, Marlon Brando, and directed by Elia Kazan.  It chronicles the story of Terry, a bum who works at the docks run by mobster Johnny Friendly and gets money for doing nothing because his brother, Charlie, is one of the high-ranking members of Friendly’s mob.  When Terry unwittingly helps his brother and Friendly’s men murder a man for threatening to testify against the mob, Terry must battle his own conscience and his growing feelings for the man’s sister, Edie, especially when a local priest befriends him and urges him to fight against the tyranny of Friendly’s rule.  It’s one of the most powerful stories of redemption and the healing power of love that I’ve ever seen on the screen, made no less more powerful by the performances of Brando and the rest of the cast.  Don’t believe me? Check the American Film Institute’s list of greatest movies of all time.  It’s not just me. 

For a movie made back in the 50s, it’s very dark, and portrays the gritty life of the oppressed dock workers and the cruelty of Johnny’s mob very realistically.  The black, white, and grey colors of the film mirrors its characters, with Johnny and his goons as the corrupt and dark black, innocent Edie and brave Father Barry as pure white, and morally torn Terry as the in between grey.  Every part of the film has significance and every time I watch it I catch something that I never noticed before. 

The first time I saw On The Waterfront I was around thirteen or fourteen and had just started to appreciate the beauty of old movies.  This one changed everything for me, opening my eyes to new ways of filming, acting, and telling powerful stories on screen and that’s why I count it as my favorite movie ever.  Not because the others can’t compare, but because I never loved and appreciated movies the way I do now.  I encourage you to watch it more than anything else! I know it’s old.  But as they say “oldies are goodies” and this one is one of the best. 

– Julia