I Got Your Resolution Right Here

img_7351Are you in need of a good, old-fashioned New Year’s Resolution? Are you in the market for some change? You need a kick in the hiney? A life re-charge? Well friend, look no more. Like the title says, I got your resolution right here. I’ve actually used some of these myself!

  1. Don’t use the word AMAZING at all. All year. Re-discover other adjectives!
  2. For every hour spent in front of a screen, read a book. You’ll be surprised.
  3. Visit every museum in your city. Do it! Art is out there, just waiting for you to look at it. And some of it is even free! You have 365 days to do it. That’s more than enough time.
  4. Look up more often. You never know…
  5. Sparkle more. Duh.
  6. Pledge to stop posting inspirational quotes and pictures on your Instagram feed. Your friends are too nice, so I’ll tell you. They’re annoying. They’re obvious. And, they’re usually misquoted which makes you look stupid. So Just post a picture of a flower that you took yourself. It will be more appreciated.  
  7. Stop being passive aggressive. I’m totally not saying that you are. I mean, I’m so sorry if you thought I was talking about you. But if you think that you might be, passive aggressive I mean, and it’s totally cool if you are, then try to maybe say what you mean. But you don’t have too. Whatever. We have all the time in the world to wait for you to spit it out.
  8. Call bullshit when you hear and see it. No explanation needed, but honestly, things won’t change if you just wait for other people to do all the hard shit.
  9. Walk more.
  10. Be nicer.

Goodbye 2016, Hello Future

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Original artwork by Alicia K. Brooks 2016

I think I say this every year, but I absolutely cannot stand the end of the year. I guess I should clarify. What I can’t stand about the end of the year -every year- is the looking back. The nostalgia. The tendency for people to live in the past year and pat themselves on the back for being a part of it. Well, good on ya. But I’m bored now. I lived through all those pictures the first time. You can save it. Thanks.

Social media has made every day a year in review. There is Throw Back Thursday, and Flash-Back Friday. There are daily posts about what you looked like last year, or as a kid, or during the summer. Or last month. Instagram has lost its INSTA. It’s more of a “Live in the Past-agram”. I know YOU might be enamored of what you used to look like, but it’s rather annoying for the rest of us. It reeks of desperation to be looked at and liked. Living in the past just robs you of today.

December is the worst of it. Here come all of the pictures: Here is what I’ve  accomplished! What I’ve eaten! Who I’ve loved! Where we have traveled! Here is how long my hair is now! My kid has grown this much! While the temptation towards nostalgia is great, I’d rather look forward. Not back.

And this year it is even more important to look forward. 2016 was a shit show of the stickiest shit ever. Not just for me personally, but for the world. Brexit. Big Fat Baby Trump. Bill Cosby a confirmed rapist. Gun Violence. There is no need for me to recap all of the nastiness. We lived it. We know.

For me the end of the year is a time for regrouping and figuring out the next step. Where do I want to live? What do I want to get done? Who do I want to meet? What do I want to accomplish? After I figure out the questions, it’s time to sit down and get concrete answers. New Year’s resolutions usually don’t pan out because folks don’t consider the actual “doing” of said resolution. For instance, to state that you want to lose weight is fine, but you won’t get very far. Instead why not say you will work out for an hour, five days a week? Why not make concrete goals that are not easy to wiggle out of?

So… here’s to 2017! Let’s do it right! Let’s make it about standing up for those who cannot. Let’s make it about accomplishments and the road we take daily to make them happen. Let’s make 2017 the year we say, “Look at what I’ve DONE!“,  instead of “LOOK AT ME!

Zen Habits: New Year, New Now

94150-live-in-the-now-gif-Waynes-Wor-dW2TI am not the type of person who dwells in the past. I don’t hold on to my successes or failures as badges of honour or disgrace. I just try to keep moving forward. The end of the year is always a tempting time to look back and take stock of where you are and what you’ve done. And that’s fine I guess, as long as you don’t dwell on it. Looking at what you have done is not the same as doing something. I like to look forward.

Choosing to live in the past only robs you of today. I know that sounds all “New Age”, but it isn’t. It’s really simple. The ONLY important moment is the present moment. You cannot undo the past, and you certainly cannot mold the future, therefore the only thing that truly matters is…NOW!

The idea here is to enjoy the moment. I could easily do a recount of my year and look back at all I’ve done and seen. It was a huge year and I did a lot. But looking back does nothing. Instead I want to enjoy the fruits of my labors, which is the now. I’m here in beautiful Seattle with my fella. I have a great job and I’m pretty happy. My right now is pretty great, and it would be a shame for me to waste it by looking back, or worrying about the future. A life lived in perpetual planning is not really a life. I’ve known people plan for futures that they were nowhere near to achieving. Why live a fantasy life in your head when you could live your real life instead? Hey, that rhymed!

Where ever you are in this coming year, I challenge you to live in the moment. Enjoy yourself where ever you are. Sure, you might get sick or have to do things that are not enjoyable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fully appreciate the small moments a day holds. Sights, sounds, smells, emotions even triumphs and tragedies, all of these things are worth noticing and living through. When I am having a bad day, I ask myself How can I enjoy this? Just asking the question has a calming effect and grounds me in the now.

You only have one shot at each day so try to make the most of it. Don’t dwell on the past – good or bad. Don’t worry about the future, it is coming no matter what you do. There will always be unknowns, and for me the unknown is the fun part. I guess good ol’ Sophocles said it best, “Tomorrow is tomorrow. Future cares have future cures, And we must mind today.”

Best Movies of 2011

It’s that time of year again. The time of year where we all tend to look back and pick “The Best” of anything and everything. I’m not kidding. I swear to something really important to you, that just today I came across a list of the Top Cupcakes of 2011. Okay, I didn’t actually see that, I just made it up to make a point. But now that I think about it isn’t  a half bad idea. But I digress. This particular list of best stuff isn’t about tasty treats or pancakes or video games. This is Alicia’s Blog therefore the list is about… you got it, movies. 

I picked 11 for 2011 (clever, I know). Now, I haven’t seen Hugo yet, or The Descendents, and I am sure they are both list worthy but I can’t include them since I haven’t seen them with my own eyes. 

  1.  Tree of Life– I have been a Malick fan since I saw “Badlands” back when I was an impressionable teenager. I was blown away. And I was blown away by Tree of Life as well. I give the man credit for making such beautiful movies that are still able to tell a story. I know a lot of people “didn’t get it” and even left before the first thirty minutes were up. To those people I say “Ppppppbbbttttt!” (That is the sound one makes when sticking out ones tongue and making a raspberry.) If you couldn’t sit through a film that asks you to think for yourself then go home and just watch Dancing with the Stars. You do not like art. Oh, and you probably missed the part where a dinosaur steps on this other dinosaurs face. Yeah, it was so good that it had dinosaurs in it.
  2. The Beaver – I know I will be crucified for this one, but Mel (call me Crazy) Gibson or not, it was a remarkable film. It is directed by Jodie Foster, and she costars as Mel’s long-suffering but loving wife. Mel Gibson gives a remarkable performance. Check it out then tell me I was wrong. 
  3. The Trip – It stars comedian Steve Coogan and his friend Rob Byrdon as themselves. They take a trip and review restaurants along the way. The movie is funny and a little unsettling. If you like really awesome impressions of Micheal Caine and watching people eat incredible food, then this one is for you. A little gem not many have heard of. 
  4. Midnight in ParisYet another great romantic comedy from Woody Allen. Owen Wilson plays the “Woody Allen” character in this fun little movie. He is engaged to a superficial and horrid woman (played by Rachel McAdams) and discovers a door to the past while vacationing with her and her family in Paris. I don’t know if it’s because I always fancied being an expat in the 1920’s and getting to hang out with Picasso and Zelda – but this movie was absolutely pitch perfect. 
  5. Moneyball – Yep, I’m on team Moneyball. I loved this movie, and not just because it is about the underdog. And not just because it takes place in Oakland, Ca. And not just because Brad Pitt is awesome in it. I liked it because it was a simple story of faith and redemption. Everybody likes sports movies and this one does not disappoint. It is certainly Brad Pitts year. Again. 
  6. Hanna – There is only one word to describe this movie: BADASS. A teenage girl who was raised as assassin by her loving dad is unleashed on the word at large. Eric Bana is in it doing that broody thing he does in movies, and usually that would be rad. But this movie is all about the little girl. You like watching teenaged girls kick ass? Then forget that piece of poo movie “Suckerpunch” and watch this instead. It’s awesome, and Cate Blanchet is in it. Can’t miss. 
  7. The Skin I Live In – I have two words for you: Pedro Almodovar. That should be more than reason enough to watch this film. I won’t try to explain it, because it just doesn’t work that way. It’s beautiful, harsh and horrific. I loved it. 
  8. Rise of the Planet of the Apes – This mainstream movie was good enough to make me forget that they actually cast James Franco as a super smart science guy. I am a HUGE fan of the original movie and I was very critical of the prequel going in. Well, I  loved it. The apes were awesome, and Andy Serkis was pretty incredible as Caesar the ape.
  9. Melencholia – I put off watching this movie until last night because I dislike Kirsten Dunst THAT much. But, I also knew the film was directed by the always weird and always startling Lars Von Trier. His film “Breaking the Waves” changed the way I look at cinema and the way I look at love. This movie was his meditation on depression and the end of the world and it rocked. Maybe it’s because I understand what its like to be a depressed bride, or maybe it’s because the film also star the ultra awesome Charlotte Gainsbourg but the movie is great. It might be a good one for those of you who hate Von Trier, or haven’t seen any of his films yet. It has all the female suffering, social failures (i.e. marriage, jail, community) and crazy of his other films but it isn’t as hard to handle. 
  10. The MuppetsOkay, I am cheating a little here. I haven’t actually seen this movie yet. But, I am the biggest fan of the Muppets and I already know I will love it. And I want people to see it, so I am cheating and putting it on my list. If you got a problem with that, please take it up with the management. 
  11. Cave of Forgotten Dreams – I know, watching an old German film maker go exploring an old French cave sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry, but rust me. When the film maker is the quirky, smart, talented Werner Herzog then you know you will get something original. The cave is about 30,000 years old and no access has been granted to film makers prior to this. It is astonishing, and you should see it.

2012 – Looking Forward: “The Year of Cage”

Usually I am the first person to trumpet the words, “Last year sucked. This year will be way better.” But I can’t really claim that this year. I think 2011 was pretty darn good, and in the last two weeks of said year I find myself happier than I have been in a long time. I know the trend, the common response at the end of the year is to look back and take stock of what you have done, but I am not going to do that this year. Nope, I am going to resist the temptation to list all the crazy, (Cain, Gingrich, Bachmann, AND Perry all running – who left the doors of crazy town ajar?) amazing, (OWS, I actually completed NaNoWriMo) and downright absurd (Rebecca Black sings about days of the week and becomes famous) things that happened this year. Instead, I am going to jump in my time machine and look forward to 2012. Come with me!

Jan. 1, 2012 – I ring in the New Year while singing karaoke in Prague. I kiss my fella and raise a glass to toast the new year. I also look incredibly fabulous in a floor length purple Halston style gown.

Jan. 3, 2012 – I wake up groaning at 6:22am and head back to work after my winter break come screeching to a halt.

Jan.11, 2012 – It’s my Birthday! I go out to dinner with my friends, and see a movie.

Jan. 14, 2012 – My Birthday Party! Through a miracle, I find karaoke on this night and dedicate it to myself. I sing all night while consuming many cocktails, none of which I purchased for myself.  And, I look incredible again.

Jan. 15, 2012 – I don’t leave the house. I stay in bed all day and watch movies to cure my hangover. My always sweet fella surprises me with Phó. I do not look incredible.

Jan. 20, 2012 – I remember that I vowed to read at least 60 books this year and stop playing Angry Birds.

Jan. 28, 2012 – The day I stop writing the year as “20112”

Feb.8 – I cook a birthday dinner for my man. He is happy and thinks I am rad. Later this week I will try to throw him an understated, adult Birthday party which quickly turns into a night of drinking and debauchery.

Feb. 14 – Valentine’s Day. I make a card for my guy and take him to the movies.

March 16 – I realize that my plan to wait out the New Year rush at the gym was a good one, but I could probably have gone back a month ago.

March 17 – I go back to the gym.

April 3 – The secret plot i am hatching for a new career is coming along smoothly and I start getting motivated.

April 27 – I find 100kc on the ground and do not look for the owner.

May 8 – I go to the park at Riegrovy Sady and read for three hours. It’s Spring in Prague, and therefore time to be out in the nature.

May 22 – I buy an outfit for the two weddings I will be attending next month.

June 12 – Leave for Cesky Krumlov!

June 13 – Attend Allie and Davey’s wedding with my guy. We have a great time, and I am surprised by seeing a slew of old friends. I sleep happy.

June 16 – Attend wedding number two in Prague!

July 27 – Summer Olympics begin

July 28 – I realize that I have little to no national pride and resume playing Angry Birds

August 4 – I land in the USA where I am on a road trip taste testing sandwiches across the country. (What?! It could happen…)

September 7 – I eat a sandwich that is so good it disrupts the space-time continuum. I blog about it, and then quickly delete the post out of pure selfishness.

September 27 – I wonder what I am still doing in America.

October 1 – I start planning my Halloween costume and vow it will be “dope”.

October 23 – I re think my “dope” Halloween costume when I notice that I haven’t done any shopping or planning for it. I decide to dig out that old French Maid outfit and that’s that.

October 31 – I end up going as a Zombie French Maid and feel less like a slutty 25-year-old in her underwear on Halloween.

November 1 – NaNoWriMo begins and I am off to a great start!

November 30 – I complete another consecutive National Novel Writing Month! <Streamers are thrown and I get a book deal>

December 2 – I start watching a bunch of “end of the world” movies to get tips on what not to do. 

December 3 – I try to track down Nick Cage as he is obviously the only person who will survive the Mayan Apocalypse. I vow to become his accomplice and sassy side kick.

December 22 – The world didn’t end, but I am now friends with Nick Cage and feel all the better for it.

December 25 – Christmas Day! All is well and I am happy. I Skype with Nick and he sings “Deck the Halls” dressed up as Santa Claus for me.

December 31 – New Year’s Eve and I look incredible yet again. I vow to make THIS year count and no more procrastinating. Nick Cage just smiles and laughs, he knows me better than that.

 

Thank God That’s Over

2010 sucked. I will not be sad to see this year fade into memory. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I had me some bad luck in the past year. I won’t go into detail but I was beat up, beat down, broke up with, laughed at, visa denied, fucked with, lied to, depressed, dead cat… the list goes on and on. Like I said I won’t be sad to wave goodbye to 2010. It was basically my own personal BP oil spill. This is not to say there were not some positive things in the past year, but those positive things were the direct result of my perseverance and will. I discovered that I can play the Ukulele. I developed some friendships that will endure for sometime. I lost about 20 pounds. So… there is always a little light.

Which brings us to 2011. I am not one for making resolutions. When I do they tend to be things like “Sparkle More” and I am always successful. It’s hard not to be successful when your resolution is completely abstract. But without resolving to do so, I think 2011 is going to be a good year. It is going to be full of change and frustration like every year is, but I think it will be easier. After having such a hard time I am kind of immune to the Universe fucking with me. I have somehow managed to come out of it not only alive, but better for it. 2011 is a chance for me to leave all the shit behind and just move forward. I have a pretty great life here in Prague and the focus this year will be living it – in the NOW, not in the past. I have some goals for the up coming year, but mostly I just want to be happy. I survived a lot, the very least I can do is reward myself with kindness.

2011 will be dedicated to me and the things I am passionate about. That means singing and ukulele playing in public. And public is going to be more than just being bad ass at karaoke. I will go to some open mic nights and get a show someplace. I am very confident in my singing ability, so I just gotta get a little better with the ukulele. Then there is my other passion – writing. I will continue with this here blog, but I want to get back to fiction as well. It has been a while and I am a little rusty. But, that is what practice is for. And that’s it really. I want to spend time becoming an even better version of me. I mean I am already wicked cool, super cute and funny – but why stop there?

2011? Bring it. I will make you my bitch… in a friendly non threatening way.

The Year We Make Contact

It seems that everyone with a blog must do an end of the year-New Year-What-Happened-What-I-am-Gonna-Do-Next-Year-Wrap-Up Type thing. And, looking back 2009 was (to quote Ol’Blue Eyes) a pretty good year. Or was it. Other than the Democrats taking back the white House with an historic election, all I can remember is a lot of death and destruction. Michael Jackson – the King of Pop, and arguably the most famous person in the world – died. As well as Farrah and The Swayze. Swine Flu hysteria hit. Tsunami’s and plane crashes killed thousands of people. North Korea let us know they still have nukes and they will test them when they want to. And Oprah quit! What the hell 2009? What’s with the doom and destruction? If the best thing you could manage to give us was ‘Twilight Mania’, then I say bring on the new year.

I recall celebrating last year with my friend Rob, and he said that 2009 would start off rocky, but end on an up note. And it was rocky. Personally, I had a tough year. I felt like I fought my way through most of it. I got fired. I had my work papers revoked. I had more than four jobs and that’s just the work side. But, I think my wise friend Rob was right – it is indeed the end of the year and things managed to fall in line. I just wish they would have thought about doing that a little earlier than December. But, hey…who am I to complain. I am here, in Prague LEGALLY. I have a great job, great friends and a fella that I am pretty much crazy about. I also (finally) have a new flat to call my own. No roommate hassles anymore.

So, what’s to look forward to in 2010? Well, I for one have some awesome plans. And by awesome I mean both ‘cool’ and daunting. First, like everyone does this time of year, I have had to take a look at my health. I am doing pretty damn good. I look about 10 years younger than I am (so I am told) and I am doing ‘alright’ where my weight is concerned. But I could be doing better. I will be 36 years old in a few weeks and I have to start thinking about the big picture. I don’t think people smoke in the big picture, at least not when they are old enough to know better and don’t have an actual addiction. I smoke about two times a week and I don’t really ever feel the need to smoke. My boyfreind (who is a fairly heavy smoker) asked me why I smoke if I have a choice not too. I don’t have a good answer so…I am gonna stop. Right after my Birthday.

I am also going to start eating (gulp) more vegetables. I hate vegetables, but if I want to continue looking and feeling hot – then I think I have to try and befriend broccoli and cauliflower. Dear lord, help me. I could stand to lose about 20lbs, and that ain’t gonna happen eating gummie bears and beer.

My BIGGEST plan for 2010 is musical in nature, and I am pretty jazzed about it. As most of you know, I like to sing. I sing once a week at karaoke and each week someone says the same thing to me: You have an amazing voice! Are you in a band? (no) Well, you should be.

And I should be. My friends keep telling me that they would come see me, and I know I would do well. The problem up until now has been that everyone I know who plays anything here already has a band or two. No one has time for me. And, I don’t play any instrument well enough to accompany myself. It was then that I decided to learn the guitar. I thought it was a perfect solution until I remembered that my hands are too small to make the chords (same with the piano). So, what’s a girl to do? Well, my fella sent me a YouTube video of one of my favorite songs – Rich Girl, by Hall and Oates – and it was sung by a girl playing THE UKULELE! It was a “lightbulb moment”. I wrote to my mom to see if she still has the one that we got in Hawaii 20 years ago, and she does! So, ladies and germs I am going to learn the ukuele and I am going to start having my own little shows here in Prague. Damn Straight.

Watch out 2010, cause I’m a comer.