Monday’s Favorite: Orange Is the New Black

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Hi everyone! Hope you are enjoying the summer and had a good Father’s Day. I’ve been loving the warm weather and have been using my downtime as a chance to do some serious Netflix binge-watching.

For those of you who have a Netflix account, you probably know Orange is the New Black came out with Season 2 last Friday. A quick summary of OITNB: the show centers around Piper Chapman, a wealthy New Yorker who has landed herself in Litchfield Prison because of a crime she committed ten years ago. Piper helped her girlfriend transport drug money (It was only one time!!). The plot follows Piper as she acclimates to prison and navigates the intricate relationships between all of the inmates. We also get to know a large supporting cast of prisoners and the circumstances of their imprisonment through a mix of current scenes and flashbacks.If you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend you start now.

SPOILERS AHEAD*** Don’t read if you haven’t finished Season 2

Season 2 is just as exciting, shocking, and jaw-dropping as the first thirteen episodes. Jenji Kohan, the show’s creator, outdid herself.

Some of my favorite parts:

1. Where is Chapman? Season 1 ended with Piper beating the crap out of Pensatucky. All of the viewers questions– Is Pensatucky dead? What happens to Piper?– are left unanswered in the first episode of Season 2. We see Piper being transported out of SHU, loaded onto a bus, and boarding an airplane as she desperately tries to ascertain where she is going. She sees the Chicago skyline and realizes she is going to a jail there. Chapman is virtually ignored until she sees Alex in the prison– she had no idea where she was going or why she was there until she finds a familiar face. Kohan shows viewers how prisoners are treated as “less than”. Piper is treated like dirt and her rights are ignored. She is transported without an explanation and has no way to protect herself. Kohan makes a point about how vulnerable the prisoners really are. Later in the season, the Litchfield inmates are subjected to unsafe conditions when their showers start spewing sewage. This is another instance where the women are unprotected and have no way to advocate for themselves. Kohan really lets OITNB fans see how badly the inmates are treated– like they are less than human.

2. Piper’s Perjury: When Piper is in court to testify against the drug lord, she sees Alex before she is called to the stand. Alex urges Piper to lie and say she didn’t know the man; she says he is dangerous and will retaliate. Initially, Piper tells Alex that she will tell the truth no matter the consequences. However, Piper lies on the stand and says she never met the drug lord in an attempt to protect both Alex and herself. When Alex testifies, she tells the truth about the drug lord and is let out of jail. Piper chooses to lie under oath: another crime. Piper demonstrates that she doesn’t trust the system to imprison the drug lord. I think it’s interesting Piper chooses to do the wrong thing instead of the right thing– she keeps making bad decisions. Kohan is showing viewers that Chapman is responsible for her current predicament; she chose to do the wrong thing with Alex, and she chose to do the wrong thing in trial. It is her own fault.

3. Morello’s Backstory: I love seeing what the inmates were like before they ended up at Litchfield. This season, I really liked Morello’s backstory. Morello is one of my favorite characters; I love her sass, her optimism, and her over-the-top accent. She seems so fun and happy that I was wondering what she did to end up in jail. While we don’t know whether she was imprisoned because of her mail fraud scam or her obsession with Christopher, it didn’t really matter. Morello– who I thought was the most “with-it” inmate– turned out to be a stalker. I truly believed she was planning a wedding with Christopher, but instead, she was delusional and he only went on a single date with her. She even went so far as to break into Christopher and his fiancé’s house, stealing the prison van in the process. My heart hurt for Morello when we saw Christopher testify against her in court but I was heartbroken when I saw Christopher berate her in prison. Morello was humiliated in front of Nicky and the other inmates. I’m not sure how to feel about Morello now. Everything I that I thought I knew about her was actually her fantasies; I’m not sure what to believe. Kohan is a master at creating nuanced and complicated characters, and Morello is no exception. I’m excited to see what unfolds in Season 3

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4. Poussey: Poussey has been my favorite character this season. Her smile is infectious and her commitment to avoiding corruption is admirable. Even when all of her friends join Vee in her illegal cigarette (and later heroin) selling scheme, Poussey refuses to yield to the pressure. Poussey gets attacked by Warren, threatened by Vee, and ignored by Taystee, but she stays true to herself. She will not join the corruption ring no matter what she loses. I think Poussey is the hero of this season. She is so strong in her convictions, and her decision to do the right thing is admirable. She’s not afraid to stand up to Vee and fight back. She also doesn’t hold a grudge; Taystee and her other friends abandon her, but she allows them back into her life once they realize that Vee is bad news. She’s also really funny  and I love her and Taystee’s scenes together. I hope we learn about Poussey’s crime that landed her in Litchfield– it is mentioned she dealt pot, but I want a flashback that shows what happened. She’s also a hilarious character and I’m so glad she was featured more prominently this season.

These are only some of my highlights from OITNB Season 2. I’m in awe of Jenji Kohan and how conflicted she makes me (and other viewers) feel while they watch the show. She portrays the inmates as real people: they have good and bad qualities, and I’m torn as to how I feel about them. She is also incredible at creating cliffhangers and is the master of twists and turns. I never know what’s going to happen to the prisoners, and that’s part of the incredible journey that is OITNB. I don’t know how I’m going to wait another year for Season 3.

Have you all seen the new season? What did you think about it?

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My Break From Soccer; Writing 101 Day 4

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m participating in the Writing 101 challenge—I’m excited to push myself to write more, generate more content for my blog, and be with a community of WordPress users. I would totally recommend it for anyone who gets writers block or is new to blogging and wants to get more involved. Today’s exercise is to write about losing something that used to be in your life and isn’t anymore.

I have been playing soccer since I was seven years old. I can barely remember a time when I wasn’t heading off to a game, practicing my passing skills in the backyard, or watching a game on ESPN.

Killin' it on the field and with my hairstyle...the pigtails were a hit.

Killin’ it on the field at age 8…the pigtails were a hit.

My last game was my senior year of high school—we lost in the semifinals of the state tournament. Soccer was a huge part of my life. I met some of my very best friends by playing on the same team as them; being a part of a team gave me a sense of belonging from elementary school through high school. I loved the camaraderie and looked up to each of my coaches. Sports gave me the chance to let out my competitive side, set goals for myself, and work with my team to achieve those goals. Besides that, soccer was a family affair. My parents, grandparents, and brother came to all of my games and carted me around to all my practices. We all stayed for overnight tournaments, and the parents of my teammates became my second families. Playing my last game was heartbreaking to me. I knew I would not be playing competitively in college, and thinking about playing intramurals without my teammates or family to cheer me on didn’t sound fun.

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Last game of senior year…no more pigtails!

After spending a year away from the sport, I realize how much I miss it. Seeing my former teammates play on their new teams, and watching my high school team play, made me wish I was back on the field. There’s truly nothing like the feeling of winning, of working your hardest and meeting your goals. I didn’t realize how much I loved soccer until it was no longer in my life. Thankfully, I can play again. I am going to sign myself up for intramurals in the fall and make some new friends who love to play as much as I do. I’m grateful that I learned my lesson by taking a year off from soccer and that I am able to return to the game. It is true—absence makes the heart grow fonder. This experience has made me appreciate my family and friends even more. I don’t want to lose them and regret anything; I’m determined to strengthen my relationships before it is too late. A negative experience has transformed into a positive situation, and I am grateful that I only lost the sport for a year instead of losing someone or something I love forever.

Rainy Day Blues

The Northeast is in for some pretty terrible weather for the next few days. Try telling Mother Nature that it’s summer– it was only about 60 degrees today and poured for hours. Certainly not beach weather! Instead of letting the weather get me down, I look forward to rainy days for a few reasons:

1. Cute rain gear! Rainy days give me the opportunity to flaunt my bright blue rain jacket and favorite mini-umbrella. I love my North Face jacket; while it was pricy, it is well-made and has lasted me for awhile. I also have a pair of Hunter boots that I splurged on using my summer paychecks. They’re very sturdy and I’ve used them as snow boots too. Instead of bumming it on a rainy day, I like to pick out colorful (and appropriate) clothes to brighten up the day!

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2. Reading a good book: There’s nothing better than spending a rainy day curled up on the couch with my favorite book and a hot cup of tea. Today, I finished Where’d You Go, Bernadette. The book is written from the perspective of Bee, Bernadette’s daughter who is trying to piece together her mother’s sudden disappearance. It isn’t a typical novel– it strings together emails, phone messages, and other tidbits that help Bee understand and track down her mother. The book is laugh-out-loud funny, and I totally recommend it. Bonus: it takes place in Seattle, the ultimate rainy-day city.

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3. Naps: Pretty self-explanatory…who doesn’t love a little siesta? Rainy days are usually accompanied by cooler temperatures, which make it easier to fall asleep. The clouds make it darker, and the sound of rain splashing on the pavement and against the windows is great background noise. I love snuggling under the covers and taking a power-nap to energize me for the rest of the day– be careful not to sleep for too long, though, or you’ll just end up feeling drowsier. Image

 

4. Rainbows: They don’t always appear, but when they do, they sure are special. Looking for rainbows is my equivalent of looking for a four leaf clover; when you finally see one, the search was worth it. Even if there isn’t a rainbow, everything looks prettier the day after it rains. Colors are brighter, flowers are bigger, and the sunshine is brighter.

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The rain isn’t so bad. There’s plenty of things to look forward to, even if it’s just the next nice day. What about you all? Do you guys love anything about rainy days?

A little bit of summer’s what the whole year’s all about.

Finals are over, everything is all moved out of my dorm, and I am finally settling in at home. It’s officially summertime! Since I just finished my first year of college, summer is especially exciting to me right now. I’m able to spend time with family, hangout with friends, and visit all of my favorite spots. It’s been a stressful school year; between homework, community service, and my friends, I barely had time to think! It was an adjustment getting used to school, and I’m glad to relax in the familiarity of my home. I’m so happy to be back in my cozy room at home (no roommate or cinder block walls!), shower without flip-flops, and eat something other than Sodexo dining hall food.

This summer, I plan on maximizing my three months off. I made a bucket list of things I hope to achieve before I head back off to school come September. I want to read 50 books, go hiking at a local mountain, eat dinner at ten new restaurants in my hometown, and go to the beach as much as possible. I’m looking forward to my family vacation to a beach house that we rent out every year. It gets a bit crazy with all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins, but there’s no one I’d rather go with. I also am trying to get another job (I already work as a secretary now) to keep myself busy and earn extra cash…I never knew how much money I could spend until I looked at my bank account after a year at school. I also need to learn how to cook! Next year, I live in a townhouse with 9 other girls. We have a full kitchen, and I’m determined to make most of my meals at home. I’m asking my mom and grandmas for any recipes or advice they have…hopefully I don’t burn the house down. Last but not least, I’m going to make all new decorations for my dorm room. My townhouse also has two common rooms, so my housemates and I will need to get together and figure out how we will decorate those spaces too. If anyone has any tips for decorations, feel free to share! 

I’m so excited to see what this summer has in store for me. Hopefully it doesn’t fly by too fast! What about you all– do you have any special summer plans?