STOP! ‘Roses’ 2010 in Review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads this blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,800 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 24 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 37 posts. There were 39 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 24mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was November 20th with 81 views. The most popular post that day was Deeply Rooted: Advice from Herbie, New England’s Oldest American Elm Tree.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and WordPress Dashboard.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for harry ron and hermione, rolie polie olie, hermione and ron, harry potter cast photo shoot, and harry hermione and ron.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Deeply Rooted: Advice from Herbie, New England’s Oldest American Elm Tree January 2010


Sorry, I Can’t Hear You Over the Sound of How Awesome I Am February 2010


They’re There: An Assault on Grammar & Word Choice March 2010


No Speed Limit on the Information Superhighway May 2010
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The Book Read ‘Round the Twitter-verse! May 2010


Take 5: 2010’s Most Overrated Films

Last year, Paranormal Activity had audiences all across the nation screaming in terror.  Having always been a sucker for the horror genre, I believed the hype and committed to an hour and a half of laughable scenes that made me roll my eyes at the current state of our society.  (They obviously have a very thin skin, those poor saps.)  Ever since, my trust in public opinion and the five-star rating system has wavered tremendously.

Now, as my filmmaker boyfriend builds me into a burgeoning movie buff, I have come to see the things that constitute true cinema, as opposed to those that only qualify as spectacle.  And as 2010 comes to an end, my opinions decided to hop on the countdown list bandwagon.  The films listed below, though all enjoyable in their own right, garnered an abundant amount of praise.  Such intense over adulation can only lead to inevitable disappointment, hence why I’ve come to consider these blockbusters to be a tad overrated, for everything that’s overhyped creates the potential for letdown.

**Spoiler Alert: The following blurbs may contain information regarding key plot points. If you haven’t seen a given film, skip that one and go on to the next!**

5. Inception – With amazing effects and shifting architecture, Inception’s greatest optical illusion may still be Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s striking resemblance to the late Heath Ledger.  Upon second viewing (or mere contemplation), viewers will begin to notice numerous plot holes that cannot be filled. However, the fast-paced progression and confusing nature forces the audience to ignore the things they cannot readily answer, pushing forward so they do not lose their place.  And though the film proves to be entertaining and thought provoking, I simply hope this speedy style of storytelling doesn’t become Hollywood’s new way of glossing over less than perfect writing.  However, leaving the ending entirely ambiguous was the only way to proceed, for a concrete finale could have very well killed the magic of the film overall.

4. Black Swan – Once again, we find ourselves faced with incomprehensible confusion, culminating in what must be Natalie Portman’s most demanding, provocative role of her career thus far.  However, her Oscar-worthy performance still cannot overshadow the overly sexual, “in your face” atmosphere that pervaded the entire film.

Black Swan depends on the visceral imagery and perplexing plot line to distract audience members from the fact that one cannot and will not ever figure out which moments were real and which took place solely in Nina’s (Portman) mind.  The only scary thing about this film (other than Portman’s toes) is how moviegoers everywhere are afraid to speak their mind.  I have yet to find one person who adamantly hates this film, finding only those who claim this movie has “blown their mind” and that “you must see it for yourself.”  Unfortunately, Black Swan has blown most minds to bits, casting dissenting opinion to the shadows for fear of looking dumb due to confusion.

3. Despicable Me – Everyone keeps boasting about the endearing super villains, adorable children and silly aliens, claiming this to be one of the greatest children’s movies of all time.  Not just the year – all time.  Unfortunately, Steve Carell’s voice infuses his stale comedic style into an already bland atmosphere that makes this computer-animated film less appealing than most.  Why the exhausted concept of a reformed bad guy has won the hearts of so many still baffles me, especially when there was no shortage of animated pictures this year.  (Insert unyielding praise for How to Train Your Dragon here.)

2. Toy Story 3 – While families flocked to theaters across the country (with children who weren’t even alive for the first two installments), we 20-somethings headed to the movies floating on a cloud of nostalgia.  However, I grew wary of this film’s actual intent when Andy’s mom insisted on wiping his room clean and erasing him from the house when he was only going away to college.  (He’s got to come home for break eventually, and if he’s like those of us who grew up along with him, he may just be moving back in after graduation, too.)  Yet people have spent the last six months praising a film that rubs our faces in how much it stinks to be an adult.  What’s next, Pixar – Up 2: Carl Kicks the Bucket?

1. Shutter Island – Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a man haunted by the memory of his dead wife in this stunning, visual thriller.  Wait, that sounds familiar… Thankfully, DiCaprio makes a delightful deranged widower.   Unfortunately, the wonderful imagery cannot quite cover up the ridiculously predictable plot.  Having heard the end brought about a “shocking twist,” my mom, sister and I made the trek to the theater in search of a good ol’ surprise (and Mark Ruffalo).  Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of moviegoers have never seen a movie, nor had a thought of their own, in their entire lives, for anyone could have seen that DiCaprio was the very psychiatric patient they were searching for within the first 20 minutes.

It Was Only Just A Dream…

Yesterday, I heard Carrie Underwood’s “Just A Dream” for the first time.  The lyrics and images flooded my mind, infiltrating my subconscious and clouding my dreams.

With the picture of Ms. Underwood’s dress morphing from white to black tucked behind my eyelids, I dreamt that I had just returned home after serving in our country’s Armed Forces.  Injured physically and emotionally, I wept throughout the entire dream as I watched the life I once had crumble right before my very eyes.  Nothing around me felt the same and neither did I.  And though I inevitably woke from this nightmare, I cannot help but be changed by this extremely realistic feeling of sadness and desperation.

But what must life be like for those whose reality has morphed into a nightmare from which they can never wake up?  My imaginary experience simply acts as a miniscule glimpse into how thousands of men and women end up feeling, whether they take on the task of defending our freedom or are related to those overseas.  They willingly sacrifice the lives they’ve known forever to fight wars that their predecessors began.  They face humanity at its ugliest so we can continue to live our pretty little lives.  They give their lives so those they leave behind may envision a brighter future for the next generation.

Though I know very little about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, I know that my dream (which seems trivial compared to the real thing) shook something up inside me that will never quite settle the same way again.  To imagine how someone can live with such visions and depression seems incomprehensible, but Ms. Underwood’s tears of sorrow for her lost love triggers overwhelming sadness in the hearts of everyone who has ever loved anyone.

Below, you will find the “Just A Dream” music video.  Perhaps, after you watch and listen, these jumbled thoughts and feelings I’ve just unloaded will make a bit more sense.  And above all else, support our troops!

We’re All Flying “Han” Solo

Why Validation Must Come From Within

As I grew up, I began to realize that the concept of actually growing had been lost on my DNA.  Even now, as a 23-year-old woman measuring just less than 5’, the short jokes get tossed about like a football.  (Cue traumatizing “Monkey in the Middle” memories.)  However, this then hurtful teasing eventually taught me the greatest character-building lesson of all – to defend myself and embrace my personality, humor and talents regardless of how petite the packaging appeared.

We live in a world fixated on conformity, so to find children who highlight stereotypes and ostracize others based on their interest or appearance simply comes naturally as they mature.  How one handles the situation often indicates whether such experiences turn out to be successful life lessons.  And for Katie’s mother, grace did not come into play when her daughter’s choices were under fire.

The entire fiasco began when Katie came home from school upset one day, only to confess that her male classmates teased her about bringing a Star Wars water bottle to school for lunch (though how they’ve managed to neglect her matching Star Wars backpack, I will never understand).  As her mother, Carrie Goldman, explains, Katie happens to be quite an avid Star Wars fan, but refused to carry the bottle any longer after the boys claimed Star Wars was not for girls.  When faced with a child breaking into tears, most mothers would console their child and teach them that they are special for there never has been and never will be another person like them in this world.  Most teach children to love themselves and embrace their differences despite the potentially overbearing opinions of others.

Instead, Katie’s mother hopped on the Internet to tell Katie’s story and solicit the help of strangers all across the globe.  Though she simply intended to find a few female sympathizers, Ms. Goldman seems to have underestimated the universality of childhood teasing.  And while it appears we have another heartwarming story of people coming together on our hands, we are actually witnessing the extent of the dangers the Internet poses to this young generation that has never known a time without Wi-Fi.

The Internet, you see, provides a forum for instant gratification.  With social networking now an integral part of our daily lives, we need only hop on our computers or Smartphone to gain access to a world of strangers looking for the exact type of approval and validation our dear Katie desires.  Instead of finding people who accept Katie for her differences, Ms. Goldman has simply found hundreds and thousands of people who are exactly like Katie, emphasizing a power in numbers and sameness, not the strength of individuality.  How will Katie ever truly appreciate her personality if she seeks those just like her every time she feels shunned by her peers?

Generations upon generations of children have survived such relatively harmless teasing, and all have emerged stronger and more self-assured than when they began.  Never once in this whole entire ordeal have we learned that validation must come from within and that self-confidence can only come to be when you are fully satisfied with yourself.  And to even attempt to equate such teasing with the severity of bullying as it has appeared in the news as of late has no concrete bearing, for children are bound to clash.  Tolerance and acceptance begins at an early age, and much bigotry comes from the unsavory values of one’s parents.  Promote confidence and independence throughout your child’s formative years and have faith in your efforts as a parent, for every child is different from another.  And while Dec. 10 now also stands as “Support Star Wars and Geek Pride for Katie” – a judgmental name in and of itself as it implies Star Wars attracts only “geeks” – not every child will find their mother scouring the Internet for support.  The rest of today’s youth will simply have to learn to love themselves the old-fashioned (and seemingly antiquated) way.

Photo courtesy of Chicago Now

The Line at the Ladies’ Room

A photo exposé on exposing yourself.

Stereotypes creep into society’s psyche in dozens of ways.  Like rumors, we are never entirely sure how they come to be, but they spread like wildfire despite their validity (or lack thereof).  And while no one, not even women, can argue with the fact that the line at the ladies’ room always has been and always will be (except in extreme circumstances) longer than the line for the men’s room, the reasons may not be what men would assume.

Men tend to complain that women take forever in the restroom because they spend many wasted minutes primping their hair and reapplying their make-up.  But, if that were true, then how can one ever explain the line?  We are certainly not waiting half outside the door just for a space in front of the mirror.  And judging from the perspective of a woman who wears hardly any make-up and has the most low-maintenance haircut in history, I cannot explain why it would ever take me just as long to escape from the depths of germ central as those women slathered in face paint when I barely even cast a glance in the mirror as I exit.

No, gentleman.  Our narcissistic behaviors have no bearing on the lines.  Instead, we have no choice but to wait thanks to the general lack of restroom maintenance.  While men do not mind standing around with their business dangling for all to see, women prefer privacy.  It’s the craftsmanship of said stalls that keeps the ladies waiting for another.

Let’s take a little stroll through some of the most well-made public restrooms I’ve come across recently, shall we?

For our first example (above), we have a stall from Toys ‘R’ Us.  As you can see, the toilet paper dispenser hangs about two feet higher than the toilet.  While most adult women do not have gorilla arms, such design becomes even more laughable when you remember that this is a toy store – a place where children run amuck and occasionally need to use the bathroom.  Sure, a great deal of mothers would be right there to help their child through such a difficult time, but what’s the point of potty training if they still cannot go alone?  Luckily, someone was nice enough to leave a roll sitting on top of the sanitary napkin disposal for those who didn’t realize they weren’t Stretch Armstrong until after they sat down.

Our next example (above) will make you want to slap your forehead multiple times.  First, we see that the hook on this Panera Bread handicapped bathroom stall seems extremely high.  (If you cannot figure out my logic here, you are just as horrible as the genius who hung that hook in the first place.)  But once you turn to look at the toilet paper dispenser (below), you will realize that our mysterious handyman struck twice.

For those who don’t notice the distance before they go, reaching shall be quite the struggle.  And if you are indeed handicapped, such a struggle may very well leave you stuck.

The next, a stall in Best Buy (below), simply makes one wonder how anyone could possibly get in the stall and close the door.  You see, the door only opens until it collides with the toilet, but you cannot even squish to the side for the toilet paper dispenser is right there, big and in your way.  Even the smallest of women, (read: me), cannot squeeze in, leaving those even just slightly overweight to wait for the only handicapped stall.  (Helpful tip: put the toilet paper dispenser on the OTHER side of the toilet!)

And last, but certainly not least (because this is solely a sampling), we find the largest gap between stall walls one could probably find without forfeiting all privacy.  Located in Sears (below), you will notice that you can see my mother’s entire ear.  Unfortunately, that was also the only available stall because, as you can see in the upper right corner, the store used caution tape to block off the other stall.  And, if that gap doesn’t satisfy a Peeping Tom’s delight, there’s always the door’s lock to give you a sneak peek behind closed doors.

Disclaimer: To all the men that might be reading this, please do not get your panties in a twist.  I’m sure your bathrooms are nowhere near pristine condition, either.  However, I cannot gain access to the mens’ room (nor would I care to), so I cannot quite speak on your behalf.  My main goal is to simply draw some attention to the lack of thought that goes into designing many a ladies’ room and the repercussions of such shoddy work.  We do not like having an audience as we go about our business, and we’d like to keep it that way.  (Oh, and it’d be nice to reach the toilet paper and have somewhere to hang our purse, as well.)

Want more? Read ‘Learning in the Loo: The Line at the Ladies’ Room, Part Deux‘!

(Photos by Anna Papachristos.)

The Art of Eliminating Earwax

This page is my best friend.  It is the letter I send to you, dear reader, my anonymous pen pal who knows not my return address.  It is the ear that listens to my every word, considering each worry and emotion without judgment or interruption.  It is the journal in which I write feverishly, chronicling my daily life and spilling my deepest secrets.  This page is the therapist who will never require hourly compensation.

You see, ears no longer hear what emanates from the mouths of others.  Hitting someone’s head against a wall would cause more sound to resonate within the confines of their skull than any syllable to come from your lips.  People of today’s society hear only what they want, tuning out bad news, ignoring the inconvenient and disregarding reality in lieu of this fantastical utopia their minds have conjured to help buffer the horrible truth of our dwindling community.  With so many aspects of our world falling to pieces right in front of our eyes, instinct tells us to shield ourselves from such atrocities.  However, the more we try to hide from our troubles, the greater they become.

Our first lesson in listening came many years ago, when our parents taught us never to run from our problems, but to face things head on.  Yet now, even those who raised us have plugged their ears, leaving the younger generations to try and rectify our crumbling economic and governmental pillars.  They are the mess-makers; we are the maids.

But while we are a generation whose combined therapy bill amount must rival that of the national debt, the true problem doesn’t lie within the decisions rendered by elected officials, but by the lack of communication skills we have been breeding into the collective consciousness.  Though many enter the field of communications, making said topic the basis of their study and livelihood, we continue to live in a society where a single opinion – the mere metaphorical act of “stepping on someone’s toes” – can launch a world of chaos.  Though “communication” and “community” share a common root, most fail to listen to one another, increasing hostilities instead of harmony.

When you say you’ve heard what someone has said, the implications of your statement can be rather vague.   Anyone can hear someone speak, aware that words are pouring from their lips, but they often neglect to pay attention, letting the syllables flow in one ear and right out the other. “But there’s none so blind… as those who will not listen,” according to Sweeney, one of many vessels who speak of universal truths in Neil Gaiman’s American Gods (p. 43).  When we fail to listen to another’s thoughts, feelings and concerns, we fail to see the commonalities that make us all human, the traits that unify every single being down to their very core.  If we cannot hear the words of our brothers and sisters, we will never see the injustices, we will never right the wrongs. We will never learn to band together and we will never attain even a small fraction of that mystical concept called peace.

Sketch by Alyssa Papachristos.

What May Be Gone Tomorrow

Today will be the only (insert date here) of your lifetime — in the history of the world, even. Each day is unique, each minute, each second. They pass with the blink of an eye, yet there will never be another moment exactly like this.

Some fill each moment with excitement, while others become enveloped in despair.  Some moments are filled with tears, though others are filled with laughter.  Some moments are accompanied by music; others are awash with silence.  Yet my biggest fear is a moment filled with nothing.  Moments filled with empty wishes for the day to be over or the storm to pass leave us longing for the eventual despite the fact that we can only be sure about the here and now.  So much can happen between this very minute and that moment you’re longer for, so much that you can never be quite sure it will arrive.

What we must do is fill each and every moment with something – a laugh, a scream, a tear, a hug, a kiss.  But most importantly, we must fill each moment with a piece of ourselves.  Whether we are here tomorrow or gone for eternity, the seeds we sow now are what will live on long after we’re gone.  We may not be able to fill every moment with something distinct, but we can constantly work toward something worthwhile.

All we can hope and aspire to during our brief time on this earth is to leave something or someone (even just one person) better or happier than they otherwise would have been without our presence.  Even the simplest of smiles or the kindest of words can take deep roots, for such gestures may brighten someone’s day and instigate a domino effect of positivity.