Flawlessly from Page to Screen: The Giver

*I’m going to spoil the book/movie, so if you haven’t read the book (shame on you!) avoid this*

the giver by lois lowry book with glasses

I can’t remember when exactly I read it for the first time, but for years now, The Giver by Lois Lowry has been one of my favorite books of all time. Since about sixth grade, I’ve re-read the novel over and over again, still finding new meanings and trying to wrap my mind around the story. My mom had read it alongside me, and we still discuss it often, so when we heard they were making a film based on the book, we were excited, but nervous.

The Giver takes place in a futuristic dystopian type society, similar to a lot of books that are popular today. But it feels different, like it could be happening right now. The entire book takes place in Jonas’ head, which was one reason I was nervous about them making it into a movie; how could they show all of his thoughts and internal dialogue on screen? You can understand from the start of the novel how sterile and lacking this community is. Their discussion of feelings and regimented lifestyle just feels lonely and boring and sad. They don’t even see color because color creats differences and differences lead to conflict, and they are completely unaware of any kind of pain or suffering.

At the age of twelve, children are assigned their career within the Community, and Jonas is assigned to be the Reciever of Memory. The current Receiver, who becomes the Giver, holds all of the memories of society that he uses to assist in decision making, and he must transmit them to Jonas, who has known nothing but this black and white Community his entire life.

In some ways, I could understand why Lowry would imagine a society like this as an answer to all of the problems today, I think a kind of sameness and equality is desirable. It’s understandable that she would want to eliminate pain and suffering from our world. On the flip side, though, the book illustrates the good parts of life we lose when we eliminate everything that is bad.

“Our people made that choice, the choice to go to Sameness. Before my time, before the previous time, back and back and back. We relinquished color when we relinquished sunshine and did away with difference. We gained control of many things. But we had to let go of others,” the Giver explains to Jonas. This is my favorite line in the entire book, and it translated so well into the film.

The film begins completely in black and white, with an occasional flash of color and slowly, like a sunrise, color comes back. Since tbe book is from Jonas’ view, we are literally seeing the world as he had, slowly becoming aware of new good things that previously didn’t exist to him, as well as to new bad things that had previously seemed okay. We see Jonas witness a sunrise for the first time, snow and sledding, dancing and love and we understand the joy and happiness missing from this uber-equal society, each memory is shown in vibrant color, a stark contrast to the dismal black and white of the Community. And then we see Jonas experience war and death and evil and how disturbing it is to him. But the Giver says it perfectly, that in order to have sameness and control we have to give up so many of the things that make life truly beautiful and that give life meaning.

At the end, Jonas decides to cross an imaginary “Border of Memory” into Elsewhere, and all of the memories the Giver has transmitted to him are released back to the Community. It is truly the most stunning and powerful moments in the movie. Jonas crosses the line and a bright and vibrant montage of human life fills the screen, there are people overcoming diversity, people laughing, people loving, people being born and people dying, people accomplishing great feats and stunning shots of nature all over the world. As several characters in the film are seated, prepared to watch the release (euthinization) of Jonas’ lifelong friend, Fiona, the memories return and the emotions just overtake everyone. The release stops in its tracks and everyone is moved to tears, suddenly becoming aware of not only the pain and cruelty in the world, but of the awesomeness of life.

The novel and the movie did an amazing job of highlighting how suffering, although terrible, allows us to truly experience life. It made me think about how truly lucky I am to have everything I do and to have experienced everything I have. I am having a tough summer, but it reminded me that no matter how much everything sucks at this point, someday things will get way better and I will be able to appreciate them so much more.

Not to mention what a stellar cast the movie had–Jeff Bridges as the Giver (who I always think of as Burt Vickerman from Stick It), Meryl Streep as the Chief Elder, Taylor Swift and Katie Holmes– they allowed the novel translate to the exact picture I had in my head. Lesser-known, Brenton Thwaites was a flawless Jonas and played him and his emotions perfectly. The set and the costumes and everything were just as Lowry wrote them and I couldn’t have been happier with it. I will see it again and again, if only to be reminded of how spectacular life is.

Whether or not you actually read it in middle school when it was assigned, I think everyone should read The Giver and then see the movie. Both are worth your time and are works of art.

Hidden in Irondequoit: Atlas Eats

katie at atlas eats

At the start of the summer, Erin told our friend Katie and I about a place her mom had just visited: Atlas Eats. She told us how it was tucked away, a little storefront in a suburban neighborhood and that it had a rotating dinner menu; every two weeks the dinner menu changes to feature the culinary styles of a different region. One week it will be Spanish Cuisine and the next will be French. They do two dinner settings, one at 6 and one at 8:30, only on Friday and Saturday nights. They also feature a small lunch menu and a bakery.

front of atlas eats irondequoit rochester

We were all super interested in Atlas Eats. We added it to our list of places to go and things to do and then carried on with our summer, frequenting our usual bars and sushi restaurants. But last weekend was Erin’s last one at home before moving away for a year (I’m devastated) so we cleared our schedules and made it there for lunch Saturday.

The restaurant itself, at 2185 N. Clinton Ave, is tucked away in a small building complex. It was actually close enough for Katie to walk from her house. You enter through the back door and seat yourself at one of the little tables and someone will come take your order.

atlas eats muffaletta sandwich

 

 

atlas eats menu

table of food at atlas eats

The menu is small but many of the items vary from day to day, so every experience is different. I ordered a muffuletta, which I had never eaten before, but it just sounded so appetizing–chicken cutlets and provolone with tapenade on a ciabatta roll. It was salty and crunchy but not greasy. Heavenly. Erin got a veggie burger (which is made using hazelnuts, so people like me with an allergy should be aware) and Katie got a chef salad. All had generous portions, and mine and Erin’s came with a side of mixed greens which reminded me of the amazing salad I had in Brooklyn last spring.

bake shop atlas eats

I ate my entire meal (woops) and was stuffed, but they also have a bakery section and their bread pudding smelled amazing. Everything is made right there and they feature a variety of different specialties, like brioche and cheesy biscuits.They also sell their own ice cream by the half pint, which was extremely tempting.

flowers at atlas eats

alas eats interior

The whole environment was just so sweet and local-feeling. I liked feeling like a part of the quiet neighborhood. The interior was decorated with maps and clocks showcasing the time in different countries, which was only fitting with their whole theme. We could have stayed there all afternoon.

Katie and I are already talking about going back soon for dinner, right now they’re featuring a Caribbean menu. They also do brunch, which is another meal I’d love to experience there. I’d love to experience brunch anywhere.

Atlas Eats is another little secret spot we’ve discovered and I will be back there soon. Definitely within the next few weeks.

Guide to Building a Post-College Wardrobe

When I unpacked from school, I went through all of my clothes and conducted a major overhaul. There was so much hanging in my closet that I hadn’t worn in years, or that I knew I’d probably never have an opportunity to wear again. Not only has my style changed (and hopefully matured) over the past few years, but moving forward there’s a lot less casual and going out opportunities, and a lot more office settings. Out went all my old high school cheerleading shirts (why are those so hard to let go of??) and  my cheap Forever 12 “going out” skirts and tops. What I’m left with now are pieces that fit into casual weekends, nice nights out downtown or at restaurants, and a pretty sturdy collection of work clothes.

No job I will ever hold (hopefully) will require me to wear a suit everyday. I have one suit for interviews that my mom and I got at JC Penney and I loathe it. I hate the way it feels and I especially hate how frumpy it makes me look. But it’s a necessity. Regardless, my work wardrobe consists of outfits that fit into an office a few notches down from business professional. Dress pants and nice tops, sweaters and dresses are what I’ve collected, but many public relations jobs are even more casual than that.

The key to starting a work wardrobe is finding things you can mix and match and wear a lot without looking like you’re repeating outfits every day (which honestly doesn’t matter unless you work in a fashionable environment because I’m pretty sure no one has really noticed what I’ve worn to work). It’s also important to note that it shouldn’t be expensive. A lot of inepensive stores, like Old Navy and Forever 21, have great items that are super affordable.

professional wardrobe essentials

I started with bottoms. I think if you’re wearing nice pants or a skirt you already look dressier and more professional than if you wore a dressy top with jeans. I’m petite (barely 5 feet tall) so my favorite places are LOFT and Banana Republic, both of which have an amazing selection of professional attire in a petite size range. They also both have outlets and great sales, so my pants and skirts didn’t end up being outrageously expensive, and if you buy pieces that are classic enough, they last for years. I also have a pair of J. Crew Pixie Pants that I bought on Cyber Monday last year, and those come in petite, too. My office right now is a lot more casual than others, so I can get away with them, but in other situations you might need to be careful. A great substitute are the Minnie (or Winnie, at the Factory) pants, which are less like leggings and more like work-pants.

I have a ton of skirts as well. I love the J. Crew City Mini, but they are really expensive for what they are, unless you manage to snag one on sale, which I have. I also have a ton of skirts from Forever 21, one of which looks exactly like the City Mini, but was a fraction of the cost. Skirts are great for summer because they breathe but still look super professional, as long as they’re not too short.

Tops are easier. Old Navy, Forever 21, LOFT, Banana Republic, J. Crew Factory and JC Penney all have great (and affordable) options. I have a decent selection of nice tank tops I really like to wear under a sweater, in addition to way too many button ups that I wear every day in the fall and winter. I love J. Crew Factory’s button ups, but Old Navy has some that I’ve loved a ton, too.

I also have a thing for cardigans, since they’re easy to throw over just about anyoutfit when it gets chilly. The J. Crew ones are nice, but the three-quarter sleeves don’t sit well with me sometimes. I actually really love the ones from JC Penney, and they’re loads cheaper, but give off the same look. LOFT also has great sweaters, which I like wearing over a button up with the collar poking out in the fall and winter time.

Blazers have always been a challenge for me. I have a short torso and short arms, so petites are a must. I have had one gray blazer from the Banana Republic outlet since freshman year of college that I wore all the time and it still fits and works. I got it at an after-Christmas sale, too, so I know it was extremely affordable. I have a few other favorites, one being a fleece blazer from Target that I roll the sleeves on, which is essentially a sweatshirt that I can wear in an office, and it’s fantastic.

Dresses are also a challenge. Unless I have my mom hem them, the only dresses I have that I love and fit perfect are from LOFT. They have the cutest petite dresses that are an office-approprite length that look good just about any time of the year.

Finally: shoes. I’m pretty basic in the shoes department, especially for work. I have a pair of plain black flats from Target, and nude ones from J. Crew Factory that are almost at their breaking point, and I mostly rotate between the two, depending on my outfit. Sometimes in the summer I’ll also throw a pair of wedges into the mix, but open toe shoes are sometimes a touchy subject in the workplace. In the winter, I wear riding boots with skirts and sometimes pixie pants, but I still tend to rely on flats. My mom insists now that I need a pair of “sensible heels,” but I’ve yet to settle on a pair, mostly because I don’t see myself wearing heels to work regularly.

I feel like I’ve pretty much summed it up. It took me a few years to get my wardrobe to where it is, but now I have more than enough outfits on rotate for all of my working needs. I also have an (almost) embarassingly huge collection of necklaces, watches and bracelets that I use to liven up a more simple outfit. The key there is to not go overboard and keep it classy.

And if you wonder what I wear when I work at Athleta, it’s basically my pajamas.

Finding the Right Running Sneakers

asiscs-cumulus-runningDisclaimer: I am not a professional. I don’t run races and I’m not trained in podietry or physical therapy or athletic training or anything of that nature. I just like to run when I work out, and I was tired of it hurting and I wanted to share my findings with anyone who has a similar struggle.

Everyone and their brother wears Nike Frees. They’re cute and you can customize them and they aren’t big, clunky old lady shoes that amke you look weird and like an old lady. I have a pair of Nike Free 2.0’s I insisted on getting a few years ago because everyone had them and they were hot pink! But they hurt. Bad. They’re built to allow full flexion of the foot in order to strengthen the foot and ankle muscles in runners, not for running regularly, especially not on the tradmill like I did.

This summer, I decided that while my Frees might not be optimal for running, I should still be able to wear them while running errands or working at Athleta, right? WRONG. After a day of shopping or even a measly four hour shift at the store, my feet would throb. It would start in my arches and radiate all the way through my ankles, knees and hips. I was so confused about why my Rainbow flip-flops gave me more support than these pricey sneakers, so I did what I do best: excessive Google research.

It turns out that Nike Frees are training shoes. Not meant to be run in, really, at all, aside from training. What many runners suggest is easing into them, first by wearing them to run short distances on grass in order to strengthen the foot while still running in regular shoes for long distances on pavement. They’re equated with Vibram’s Five Fingers, if that’s any indication of how little support they are intended to give. What’s more, Nike has different models of the Free, starting at the 5.0, with the intention of starting there, and working your way down the number scale; each model decreases in support and cushioning, which progessivley strengthens running muscles. That solved the mystery of why these shoes were so painful for me: they were essentially nothing and my muscles were NOT ready for such little support for long periods of time.

So I set them aside and picked up a pair of $35 Saucony’s from Marshall’s that did the trick. They were supportive and cushioned me when I ran and didn’t make my whole body ache after wearing them for long periods of time. But man, were they ugly. What they give in comfort and support they lack in any kind of style. And now, after a year of running, sprinting and lifting in them, they’re worn and I needed a new pair. So I embarked on a search for a pair of running sneakers that give me the support I need without making me look like a 1990’s soccer mom. Kind of a stupid quest, I know, since fitness should preside over fashion, but why should I have to choose?

asics-gel-cumulusWith the help of my dad, I did more research. He has had excellent luck with Asics ovr the years, so I focused on that brand. I noticed the other day that when I run, the outsides of my feet hit the pavement first and then roll inward, which was backed up by the fact that the outsides of the heels on my shoes were worn down. This means that I over-pronate. Rolling inner-foot to outer-foot is considered under-pronating and ideally, a runner runs completely balanced in the center of their foot, rolling heel-to-toe. If you’re not sure what your pronation is, I suggest going to a place like Fleet Feet, which has locations all over, where they can evaluate all of your needs and recommend the best type of shoe for you.

Since I over-pronate, I need something with stability. Asics has a great chart on their website that has the different pronations at the top, and different needs down the side, and then the corrosponding shoes in the center, which helps start the shopping process. This chart can be found here.

From there I looked at different styles recommended for me online, and also tried different ones on in a store. Ultimately, I decided on the Gel Cumulus, which I ordered from Amazon (Prime). Not only are they suited for my running needs, but they’re not huge clomping shoes and they’re cute enough to wear to work at Athleta, as well as to run and work out in. This whole process was pretty extensive and required a lot of time and research, but I think it’s important because good shoes lead to a good workout and a healthy body, and bad shoes just make me miserable.

ETA: I’ve had my shoes for about a week now and I’ve run in them, lifted in them and worn them to work and they are amazing. The heel is cushy and the front of the foot is more sturdy, and most importantly, they feel good when I run and when I’m on my feet for hours. Hallelujah to these Asics!