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August Media Companion

Wild | Written by Cheryl Strayed, film Dir. by Jean-Marc Vallée

I am definitely late to the travel game. I didn't go out of country officially until November of last year. My first experiences of "getting away" was through camping and backpacking. I was inspired to go backpacking after I watched the film Wild directed by Jean Marc-Vallee, starring Reese Witherspoon. I watched this character, Cheryl, overcoming physical obstacles and leaving a troubling past. I wanted to follow in her footsteps. She is a badass. I knew that the film was based off the novel written by the main character, Cheryl Strayed. I wanted to read the book to get an author's perspective, then compare it to the film. 

Overall, I thought the film was a solid interpretation of the book. The differences are understandable and don't change my thoughts of the film. Like any film adapted from a book, the film has to make choices to keep to the 2ish hours mark. Obviously the book goes far more into detail. Cheryl's struggle backpacking in the book is intense. You literally are dying for her to get her new hiking boots because the pain is so excruciating . In the film, Cheryl is played by Reese Witherspoon who is in her late 30s. The Cheryl in the book is 26, but to me, that wasn't a deal breaker. Reese did an excellent job (nominated for an Oscar for a reason) showing the struggle of an addict, the complications of divorces, and the hovering cloud of the past. The chops she brought to the film surpassed the over 10 year age difference. One thing I preferred about the film was the connections Cheryl made on the trail. Naturally the film had to make choices, but it would have been interesting for the film to touch on the Cheryl's interactions more. It was a huge part of her growth. What is so captivating about the film is that it shows the beautiful imagery Cheryl experienced on the PCT. It brings it to life for the readers. The book was the internal interpretation of Cheryl's mind and the film was the external. It was refreshing to understand the thought process of Cheryl. I am so glad I read this book. It was a great reminder for me to find my inner strength and keep on keeping on.

Hindsight | Created by: Emily Fox

I never thought I’d be answering in the affirmative if you asked me if I had seen a scripted show that aired on VH1. I don’t think that I fit into their demographic and I was never interested in their content. Then I heard about a new series that featured a couple of best friends figuring out how one of them managed to travel back in time from 2015 to 1995. I love best friends, and you should know that I am obsessed with the 90s. This show seemed right up my alley, but I went in cautiously optimistic. I don’t know if that helped, but I fell in love with Hindsight. We meet Becca on the night of her (second) wedding. Her guy is cute, she looks happy, she’s got a posh life and a good job. Apparently she isn’t happy though, cut to a nervous breakdown. She hops in the elevator to cut and run, and somehow time travels to the night before her first wedding in 1995.

Side Note: I am fully aware that time travel isn’t travel per se, but bear with me.

Becca is tipped off to where she’s ended up by the overwhelming presence of VHS players and CDs. She goes to find her best friend Lolly who she had fallen out of touch with in the last ten years. She convinces Lolly that she’s really from the future and wants her to help figure out why. Just like with regular (non-time) travel, Becca wants to see what she missed out on. That’s why we travel, isn’t it? To see what we’re missing, to see if we belong somewhere else with other people, surrounded by other things. Travel is the “something else”. This show only lasted one season, which was a real bummer. It featured two strong female leads, passed the Bechdel test with flying colors, and was just culturally aware enough without it being over the top. I recommend it for a quick binge, watch it with your bestie and let it lead you to think about where you want to go, in this life or others. 

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding | Written by Kristin Newman

I’d seen this book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble before and laughed to myself about the witty title, What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding. I'm getting to an age where a lot of the people in my life are looking to or wanting to settle down, and some already have, but I am definitely behind the curve (happily so). I liked that the book was telling me I could do something else. I didn’t pick it up though, then I went searching for it again after we decided on this month’s theme. Lots of books make me want to do lots of things, but this book really really made me want to travel the world more than I ever had before. Kristin’s adventures throughout Europe and South America (she found her happy place in Argentina), inspired my inner introvert to take a solo trip of my own. I never thought that I would want to, I always thought that I wouldn’t be comfortable unless I had a travel companion. She went through a few travel buddies and each trip helped her see the benefits of both traveling solo and with a group. It was fun to see the list of travel dos and don’ts for groups, or for individuals traveling in a group. I’ve been on both ends of those dos and don’ts in my own travels, and some of those memories hit so close to home it made me cringe. 

I think that it’s important to travel. I don’t think that I’ve done nearly enough of it, but that’s probably why I find it so important. Sometime’s Kristin’s trips accomplished something for her, an escape, a search, or just some time away. Sometimes she came home with a better understanding of her life after her journey took an unexpected turn. She said that those were some of her most memorable trips (New Zealand and Israel). 

Sometimes we can get stuck and we need a change of scenery. That change can be a two hour drive or a twenty four hour plane ride, but getting away can make all the difference. And from now on, wherever I end up, I’ll always make sure to “Do the thing you’re supposed to do, in the place you’re supposed to do it.”

The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo | Written by Amy Schumer

I don’t think I’m in the minority when I saw that I love Amy Schumer. I was so excited to hear that she was writing a book, and when it came in the mail I finished it in just over a day. Between her stand-up, tv show, movie, interviews, and Instagram, I thought I had a fairly good idea that I knew who she was. I was so wrong. I actually knew close to nothing about The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo. I loved reading this book and hearing Amy tell her story, her way. I think she is one of the funniest, most beautiful people and it’s fun to find out more about people that you admire. This book made me laugh (a lot), it made me cry (also a lot), and at times it made me cringe (not as much, but still a lot). It made me angry to hear about how she’d sometimes been mistreated, it made proud to read about how she’d worked hard to get where she is and fight for what she believes in. 

I could write forever about every story in her book, about how they made me feel less alone, more ambitious, or stronger in my own way. She scoffs at the ridiculousness of her teenage self through old diary entries, makes lists (I LOVE LISTS) about her bad habits and the things that make her happy, and takes a stand against gun violence in memory of the women that were killed at a showing of Trainwreck in Louisiana, Mayci and Jillian. She lays out plans for her funeral, and it’s so glorious that I may have to defy one of her rules just to crash it. The chapter on “How to Become a Stand-Up Comedian” is probably one of the longest in the book, and it’s the one that made me cry the hardest. Amy Schumer is one of my role models. I look up to her because she is smart, she is strong, she believes in herself and knows what she is capable of and deserves. She is happy, and her stories make me believe that I can be too.

You'll Grow Out of It | Written by Jessi Klein

You’ll Grow Out of It was such a fun read. As I mentioned in a previous Media Companion, I’ve been reading so many more memoirs and collections of essays by brilliant and funny women since we started this project. It’s a trend that I don’t plan on sidelining any time soon because I feel like I’m already so far behind. Jessi Klein’s book came up as an Amazon suggestion and I was sad to see that it was a new release that I hadn’t even heard about. It was another book that I could add to my pile of “track down these people so that we can be best friends”. Jessi is awesome. Her stories are funny, ridiculous, and relatable. She reminded me that even at twenty-five, I’m still growing out of it and will continue to do so. She points things out about being a woman or just a human that made me yell, “RIGHT?!” She introduced me to the Poodle VS. Wolf debate (I have always been and will forever be a wolf). I know a Poodle when I see one and this is the best metaphor to have when people watching, or let’s be honest, just being judgmental. 

I recommend these stories for anyone just looking to for someone who gets it. From shitty relationships, to okay relationships, to fighting your way through the work field, and balancing your life all around. There’s times when she didn’t value her self-worth, and kept on doing so after many people pointed it out (guilty). She got nominated for an Emmy, but still felt like shit as she walked the red carpet. Then she won that Emmy, and you’d think it was impossible to feel like shit after you’d just won an Emmy, but that’s sort of how she felt as she sat in a spare room with her breast pump while her friends went ahead to the after party. I get it. No matter the situation, how mundane or outrageous it was, I understood how she felt throughout her life experiences. Having shared some of the more mundane, it made me feel more confident knowing that feeling like shit isn’t the end of the world, as long as you keep trying.