What I Read This Month – January 2018

I’m fully aware that we are eighteen days into February and I’m posting about a book that I had read in January, but better late than never, right? One of my goals for this year is to read more. It’s something I enjoy doing and have not really done enough of in the past year. The goal was to read two books a month, but it seems so far that one book a month is more my pace. While hoping to keep this monthly goal, I want to share the books that I discover and read with you all. I’m going to try and choose different genres so I can appeal to a wide range of readers who are looking for book suggestions. The usual genres that I like are romances and thrillers/mysteries, and this first book that I read definitely falls into the thriller category.

Review for “Dark Matter” by Blake Crouch:

Honestly, such a fascinating story. Dark Matter is a science fiction thriller based in Chicago that follows Jason Dessen, a less than content college professor, physicist, father, and husband. One night he’s enjoying a drink with a friend and the next his life is turned upside down, or more appropriate for this story “an unrecognizable parallel”.

(Read the synopsis here)

I don’t remember how I came across this book, but I’m really glad I did. It had me so captivated with its constant suspense, detailed scenery, and thought-provoking ideas. The question that this story really harps on is: are we happy with the life that we live? What does happiness mean to one specific person? I like that the main character is stripped of his happiness and essentially everything in order to understand what truly makes him happy. How it’s stripped from him and how he goes about discovering it is insane, but what makes this story fun.

I’m the type of person that really dives into a book. If I like the story enough, I get into the character’s mindset and feel the emotions that they are portraying. Dark Matter played on my emotions brilliantly with the notion of what if this happened to me, what if this was possible, how would I cope with such intense and overwhelming knowledge of the idea of “what if”. I’m all for the bizarre when it comes to storytelling because it makes it all the more interesting and this story does not disappoint in the bizarro department.

The one thing that at times I wasn’t a huge fan of was the scientific jargon and explanations. Science plays a big role in this story, however, with the scientific terms and talk, everything that was mentioned was always explained in simpler terms for us non-science folk. I think this is so important for an author to do especially with content that can be so complex sometimes.

Up until the final chapter, I honestly had no idea how this story was going to end. It wasn’t predictable. Even aspects of the story were shocking because I would have never thought of something in the way Blake Crouch did. And I will say this without giving away anything, the finale was the perfect ending to this book. It just tied everything in together so wonderfully.

10/10 would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good thriller and a page-turner.

Start reading Dark Matter today!

Amazon

Barnes and Nobles

Featured Photo Credit: NPR.org

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My Honest Fifty Shades Freed Review

Saw the film today (Saturday, Feb. 10th). I will be honest, I had spoiled some of the film for myself. It was hard not to with so many spoilers going around the past week from screenings and it being released a few days before seeing it. However, it didn’t make me feel any less excited. There is a VERY big difference experiencing something on the big screen vs. off.

To start off, let me get the few cons about the film out of the way. (These are my opinions. You don’t have to agree. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion especially when it comes to films. I respect that.) So, that being said…

The film was totally rushed. This has been a popular opinion I’ve seen and I agree. It moved so fast and skipped so many details. One minute the movie started and the next it ended. That’s how fast it felt like the movie went for me. Also, the flow was a bit choppy at times. It was clear that scenes were edited out for time restraints and sometimes it was very noticeable. It will be interesting to see if the flow is better if a extended, unrated version gets released.

This really was my only complaint. Otherwise, I enjoyed the film for what it was so much! The final installment was done beautifully and despite details being left out, they hit all the major points that I was hoping would be included.

(Ok, so I promised no spoilers, but remember this was a book before the film and I’m hoping most people who plan to see it have read the books. Things I may mention aren’t truly spoilers if you have read Freed. If you haven’t, then I suggest you stop reading this review.)

While this film is very sexy at times, I loved all the action, drama, and thrill, too. I don’t feel like there was more sex scenes in this one. It got hyped up that way, but it seemed well spaced out with the drama of Jack threatening Christian and Ana’s lives, along with their ups and downs of marriage. However, the few sex scenes we got did not disappoint. All I’m going to say is the Ben and Jerry’s scene was my favorite! Like holy Christian Grey!

And speaking of Christian, he was a bundle of emotions in this film and it was great to see that side of him. Angry Christian. Loving Christian. Clueless Christian. Scared Christian. Singing Christian. Dominant Christian. And even drunk Christian! When he comes home after drinking was hilarious. Might be one of my favorite scenes of the film.

As for the drama, there was definitely a lot of it. Seeing Christian and Ana deal with issues that I would hope most couples would talk about prior to getting married was interesting, intense, and even heartbreaking at times. Being in a relationship isn’t easy and I like that we saw their relationship beyond the sex and Red Room so much more.

Jamie and Dakota were brilliant a third time around. It’s crazy how different they are from FSOG to FSF. Jamie’s American accent was ten times better and he really embodied Christian. Dakota killed it as Ana. Ana is so sassy in Freed and she definitely brought that to the character. The scene when Ana yells at Christian for seeing Elena was great! Like damn right Christian fucked up and even he couldn’t fully understand what he did, but Ana didn’t hold back. Dakota was amazing in that scene!

If you haven’t seen it yet, just know the end will make you emotional. Maybe the whole movie will because the whole thing is a roller coaster of emotions. But, what really got me wasn’t just the storyline at the end, but there is a special scene that pays homage to the whole series and it made me sad that it has now come to and end. Ugh! Cue Fifty Shades if Depression.

To wrap this up, if you have enjoyed the books and films for what they are, I think you’ll love Freed. These movies were always made for the fans and not for outsiders aka critics who have never read the books. Not everyone is going to enjoy this story, but then again, this series was never meant to appeal to everyone. But for those of who do find the appeal, enjoy the final ride.

PS. The soundtrack for Freed is fire! Now knowing what songs are in what scene makes it even better, too!

Hello 2018, Goodbye 2017

As one book ends, another one begins with twelve mysterious chapters waiting to be written.

2017 was an overwhelming year of good and bad. Whether it was personal or in the realm as a society, I’m happy to shelve 2017 and ready to start my story of 2018. I love the optimism and idea of a fresh start the new year brings. Right now, we are all sharing our new version of oneself we hope to achieve, our new outlook on life we hope to have, and our new habits to make or break to better our lifestyles. This is all great but as most resolutions do we ever really follow through with them? We are all guilty of saying one thing and doing another. And we swear this year will be different but will it?

Well, here’s my hope that we can be accountable for the changes we want to make this year. Whether we achieve these goals with a day, a week, a month, or a year, let’s lessen our chances of making empty promises to ourselves and others and actually following through.

That being said as Chapter One begins here’s what I hope to achieve:

  • Be better to myself: mentally and physically.
  • Say yes to more opportunities and say no less due to fear of anxiety or self doubt. It’s time to stop holding myself back just because of the uncertainty.
  • Cook more. Did a lot of this in 2017 and want to continue perfectly a good meal.
  • Read more. I love reading but I claim I never have time. I have time I just spend it on my phone. So no more phone before bed.

And on a exciting note, 2018 will not only be a year of making promises to myself, but making a promise to my future husband (it’s my wedding year!) to love him unconditionally through thick and thin forever and always. I know that’s super cheesy, but I’m beyond excited to get married. After eight years of dating and basically living and acting as an old married couple, it finally will be official!

I’d love to know at least one thing you plan to promise yourself for 2018. Let me know in the comments. Happy New Year!

Our Engagement Photo Shoot

Long time, no blog. I never said I was good at this whole blogging thing.

Since it has been some time since I last brought you a little snippet of life, I’d thought I’d share something fun and exciting that my fiance and I did two weekends ago: our engagement photo shoot.

If you’re just stumbling across this blog post and my blog for the first time: Hi, I’m Megan! My fiance, Nick, and I got engaged in May 2016 in Cancun. We have been together for almost eight years and are currently planning our wedding back in the Chicago suburbs even though we live in Texas. Yup, we are having a “destination wedding” if you want to call it that. Really it’s only a “destination wedding” for us two as most of our family and friends still live in Illinois while we decided to say our goodbye to the Land of Lincoln and place our roots elsewhere.

Planning a wedding out of state has been quite the adventure, but I may save all the details about that for another blog another time…back to the purpose of this blog.

When it came to deciding on a location of where we would have our photos taken, I immediately knew where I wanted to go. While living in West Texas, there are plenty of picturesque places to go to like the mountains or small little towns with historical charm to even the pecan farms, there was one place in particular that I knew would be perfect and different.

White Sands National Monument was the setting for our intimate photo shoot. If you’ve never been, you need to go. It is settled essentially in the middle of nowhere (Alamogordo, New Mexico) and has what seems like endless rolling hills of white sand with mountains as the backdrop. It is one of the coolest and most beautiful places I have had the pleasure of visiting. It looks like mounds of snow, honestly, but minus the cold and slush. You can even go sledding, yes sledding down the hills, too. Also, fun fact that Brad Pitt actually did a photo shoot out there not too long ago for GQ. Check it out here: Inside Brad Pitt’s GQ Style Cover Shoot.

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As for our photographer, instead of going with someone local, we actually flew in my fiance’s step-sister who has a keen eye for photography. I’m so happy that she agreed to fly thousands of miles to help us out with this. Sure, we could have interviewed and hired someone who knew the area and had done photo shoots at this location before but having my soon to be sister-in-law was ideal. Having her taking our photos was fun and relaxing. We didn’t have to get to know the person behind the lens. We didn’t have to feel awkward even if I was awkward at times because let’s be honest, having your photo taken sometimes can be.

We arrived out to White Sands in the late afternoon on a Friday. What could have been a not so weather friendly day actually turned out better than expected. The forecast all week showed rain and it did rain a lot, but thankfully it held up and we got a partly cloudy day which was perfect. What wasn’t perfect was the wind. If you know anything about living in the desert is that sometimes the wind can be brutal. It did make it tricky at times trying to make sure my hair wasn’t flying in my face or becoming a total mess, but we made it work.

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Finding the location and choosing our photographer were the easy parts. The attire was honestly the hardest thing for me to figure out. Of course, you want to look perfect and sometimes finding the right outfit can be easier said than done. After much debate, I ended up going with an inexpensive shift dress from Kohls. I essentially wanted a long maxi dress for a more flowy vibe, but shopping for that style of dress in September was difficult. My fault for waiting until the last minute, literally the day before. I was actually very pleased with my choice. The color popped wonderfully against the sand and I kept it pretty simple for my fiance in a white long sleeve shirt and dark jeans. As for hair and makeup, I just did that all on my own. I thought about going to a salon, but at the end of the day I didn’t want to spend the money and just wanted to look like me and not a dolled up version of me. I’m simplistic when it comes to my appearance. Sometimes, especially if you don’t know the hairdresser or makeup artist, it can be tricky achieving the look you want. To play it safe, since I didn’t do a trial or anything, I just DIYed it.

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I believe we stayed out at White Sands for almost two hours at the max. The sun was setting so sometimes it made it tricky to get photos that didn’t have us squinty too much or too much sun glare. And there sometimes the sun worked perfectly in our favor and captured some really beautiful shoots.

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I’m honestly so happy with the way these photos turned out. The best part of all of it was just how much fun I had while taking these photos with my fiance. He knows that I don’t like posing for photos and I know he isn’t super keen on it either, but we made the most of that day.

I particularly loved these shots of my engagement ring. When we got engaged in Mexico, we didn’t have any photos taken. No one captured the moment and honestly, I’m fine with that. I loved how intimate it was when it happened. We aren’t a couple who normally displays everything, except in these rare occasions. But I love that I do have a photo now that shows off how gorgeous my one-karat Blue Nile diamond ring is.

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Now that our engagement photos are complete, it’s time to start thinking about the save the date cards, etc. The wedding planning never ends! I do hope that in some way this blog might help give a little insight into this particular step in the whole wedding planning craze for newly engaged couples. If not, oh well! I had fun sharing this piece of my life with you all.

If you want me to share more about my wedding planning, maybe I’ll work up the courage to write another blog. Let me know in the comments!

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The Many Stages of Every Disney World Traveler Described in Gifs

For any Disney traveler, we all know the many stages of our Disney trips. The highs and the lows. I decided to put together a fun, little timeline describing just that in true Disney gif form.

When you’re finally done booking your Disney trip…

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But then you have to wait and pretend like it’s not on your mind every single day…

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Then your trip is finally here and you do your happy dance…

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When you arrive on Disney property like…

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And start eating all the good Disney Parks food that you’ve been craving…

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Taking your first steps down Main Street…

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And finally seeing the castle like…

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But then you start melting in the Florida heat after ten minutes and you feel like…

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However, you quickly get over it…

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When you hear someone confuse Disney World and Disneyland while in the parks…

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When you’re constantly on a schedule due to your FastPasses and reservation times…

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And you get back to your resort after a long day in the parks like…

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But you’re ready to do it all over again the next day with a new park…

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The feeling that your trip is going by way too fast…

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And when you realize your trip is over and you have to go back to reality…

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Which gif did you feel accurately describes the many stages of a Disney traveler? Let me know in the comments.

disney college program

Why I Didn’t Do The Disney College Program

Disclaimer: Let me make this loud and clear that in no way is this a blog meant to bash the Disney College Program. This is just an explanation of my personal reasons and reflections on why I chose not to proceed with the program.

About nine years ago, I was a wee little college freshman, who didn’t have a lot of friends or felt super motivated in career goals. My university was two and a half hours away, so on top of being disconnected from my family and lost in what I wanted to do, I was extremely home sick.

One day, as I was roaming the halls of the Communications department, I saw a flyer that immediately caught my attention. It was purple and magical and I instantly couldn’t look away. It was an announcement that a Disney College Program rep was going to be on campus that week recruiting interested students. I knew right away that if it involved Disney, I was there. So, I went out of curiosity.

It was a Tuesday night after class. A handful of students all sat in a room as a very bubbly and Disney-Esque recruiter spoke to us. She played a video that incorporated all things Disney and asked if any of us were surprised to learn that Disney was more than just theme parks and Mickey Mouse. I sat there silently rolling my eyes because of course, I knew that it did. I’d grown up with Disney. I did presentations on it in school. I wrote papers. I even gave an informative speech on it which was supposed to be 15 minutes but was told by my professor that what I had drafted was easily a 30-minute speech. Whoops! Once you get me started on Disney, it’s hard to stop me. (I think or at least hope other Disney people can relate.)

Anyways, the Disney rep was super nice and informative and was clearly good at her job because by the end of the presentation everyone in the room was lined up to give their name and their phone number and email so a phone interview could be set up. All I remember thinking was, how cool would it be to work in a place that I love?

About a week later, I did my phone interview. I went to the common room on my dorm floor so I wouldn’t disturb my roommate. I was so nervous. I had done only one other job interview in my life prior to that moment. I wasn’t a fan of phone conversations or interviews. I never feel like I can fully focus or hear or retain everything being said. Phone interviews are just not my thing. [Side note: I’ve done more since then and have got a lot better at it, but still not a fan.]

On top of not liking my interview setting, I was just so inexperienced at job interviews and unprepared for the “what if” scenario questions that the interviewer had prepared for me. Thinking back on it now, I cringe at the thought of that interview. It was bad! I honestly don’t remember a lot of specifics asked because I think I tried to mentally block that memory out of my head.

The only question I do remember being asked was how I would handle a guest getting rowdy with a character if I were a character attendant. My mind went totally blank for that one. I didn’t have a good “Disney response”. To say the least, I panicked. I knew right there and then I wasn’t going to get that role and I was okay with that.

After the interview was over and I was feeling pretty down on myself, I played the waiting game. I had no idea what kind of role they would assign me, let alone if they even wanted to hire me. I tried to keep an open mind when it came to the different cast member roles that I could be assigned, but I really wanted to be working in attractions. So, when I got m email back from the Disney Company that said I had been accepted and I was being placed in Food and Beverage I was SUPER disappointed. That’s not what I wanted. Who wants to work with food and tired and hungry people all day? I sure didn’t.(By the way, this is just how I felt at the time. There really isn’t anything wrong with this role. I have interacted with many Disney cast members in this role who have loved it.)

By the way, this is how I felt at the time about this particular role. There really isn’t anything wrong with working in Food and Beverage. Every role has its pros and cons. I have interacted with many Disney cast members in this role who have loved it. I was just being whiny when I found out this was what they assigned me.

To say the least, I was pretty bummed with the outcome of my DCP interview and assignment. I had always thought about doing the college program, but once reality sunk in I wasn’t so sure anymore. Yes, the role wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t just the role that had me second guessing whether it was right for me or not. I talked with my parents about it. I contemplated back and forth about it and after a few days of really weighing my options, I decided to decline the offer.

Once the opportunity was within reach, I couldn’t really envision myself working at Walt Disney World. Honestly, I was slightly scared that working there would ruin my perception of what had become a place of relaxation, fun, and many good memories for my family. It was a destination for vacation, not a place of employment for me. I didn’t want to the frustrations of work to coincide with something that I hold near and dear to my heart.

Had I received a different role assignment would I have chosen differently? Probably not. When it comes down to it, the cast member role was never really the deciding factor in all of this. It was my fear of tainting something I loved. Yes, I know that’s kind of silly, but I had to go with my gut.

I don’t regret my decision declining an amazing opportunity that I know so many people have enjoyed. I have had many friends who have all worked in various roles at Disney World and Disneyland do it and who wish they could do it again. I’m not discouraging others from doing it either because if you want to, DO IT! My choice not to do it was purely personal. At that time in my life, it was just not the path for me. Instead, I stayed at my university and ended up getting involved with my campus, my sorority, met wonderful people who are now someone of my really good, lifelong friends and I also met the love my of life who will soon by my husband in a year.

The Disney College Program isn’t for everyone. For some, the decision is easier than it is for others. If it is something you want to do, go for it. If it is something you’re on the fence about, assess your situation and options. If it is something you have no desire whatsoever do, then so be it. Just trust your gut.

My advice for people who are about to head to college this fall or are already in college and are thinking about applying, definitely go into it with an open mind. Sure, you might have a role in mind that you’re set on, but know that it may not be the one you get. Be prepared to answer some questions that may be outside your comfort zone, but most importantly have fun with it. It’s okay to be nervous just be yourself. That’s the charm of so many Disney cast members in any role. They are themselves with a touch of pixie dust.

Had I answered my questions with more confidence and depth I may have been assigned a better role or maybe not at all. You never know what is going to happen, but at the end of the day, what’s meant to be is meant to be. Do what you feel is right for you. Every experience is different.

For more information on the Disney College Program and how to apply, click here.

 

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Ten Fun Facts About My Disney Side

We all have a Disney side, so I thought I share mine with you as I continue to grow this blog series. I thought this would be a nice, small introduction of 10 fun Disney facts about yours truly.

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#1: My first trip to Disney World was in 1995 with my family.

#2: On that trip, my sister and I were able to play duck, duck, goose with Disney characters at MGM Studios which is now Disney’s Hollywood Studios right outside where Toy Story Mania is today. We have the entire thing on film!

#3: My last trip to Disney World was in 2014. Wah! (Due to work, moving across the country, and now wedding planning it has been difficult for my entire family to plan a trip together. Maybe soon!)

#4: I have been to Disney World a total of 20 times. Our first trip was only four days and as the years have progressed we now average about 10 days in Disney World for our trips. Even 10 days doesn’t seem like enough.

#5: The first and only time I have been to Disneyland was in 2012 with my fiance.

#6: Up until 2001, my family and I had never stayed at any of the Disney World resorts. In 2002, we stayed at the Coronado Springs for the first time and we never went back to staying off-site again. Port Orleans Riverside & French Quarter, Caribbean Beach, Pop Century

#7: Besides Coronado Springs, I have stayed at Port Orleans Riverside & French Quarter, Caribbean Beach, and the Pop Century resort multiple times.

#8: I have never had a turkey leg. Don’t really ever plan to either. This is the one Disney snack that truly grosses me out.

#9: In 2009, my family was asked as we ate at the Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland to be the Grand Marshals for the 3 o’clock parade at the Magic Kingdom. We all got customized Mickey ears, got to ride in the parade, and all received a FREE sunburn that day.

#10: Disney is great for people watching, but my all time favorite spot is on the second floor a the Electric Umbrella looking down. It’s a prime spot and if I’m ever at EPCOT, you’ll find me there.

And now you know more about my Disney Side.

Tell me in the comments when your first trip to Disney World or Disneyland was that made you fall in love with Disney.