BB20 Finale

I’ll be honest- this was a pretty boring season of Big Brother. There were two alliances in the house, and they were more or less loyal to each other throughout the game. Other than Kaitlyn, Fessy, and Tyler- none of the HOH’s took shots at their own team. Plus, one side of the house was so unbelievably terrible it was almost sad to watch. Quick review: Kaitlyn nominates Swaggy and gets him evicted, Bayleigh tells Rachel about her power, Haleigh told everyone she was the hacker, Rockstar told Tyler the answer at the Veto, and Fessy evicted Scottie. How many mistakes can one group make?! So no- I don’t feel bad for them, and it makes complete sense for the season to be unbelievably boring because Level Six members were basically the only ones winning competitions. The only non-Level Sixer that I felt bad for was Haleigh because she was smart, capable of winning, and could have had a phenomenal game had she not gotten caught up in the disaster that was her alliance.

In my opinion, Kaycee and Tyler had great games. I definitely think Tyler should have won, as he was basically Paul 2.0 but with less intense lies. Kaycee really turned things on at the end of the season- she won competition after competition and her social game became quite apparent. However, I firmly believe that she would not have gotten where she is without Level Six, which was basically orchestrated by Tyler. He was aware of everything going on in the house the entire time and ensured that the votes always went his way. Kaycee was just going along with it. Did he lie to Scottie, JC, and Sam? Yes. But Scottie never voted with Tyler, Sam only stayed as long as she did because Tyler vouched for her, and JC was doing the same thing to Fessy. For as much “game respect game” talk there was- clearly that was not the case.

Regardless- the most dramatic part of the season was when Julie started calling herself Julie Chen Moonves- sending a clear message to the network and the world. At this point, I imagine her future on the show is unstable at best. The true success stories are that Swaggy and Bayleigh are engaged and happy as ever, Tyler and Angela moved in together, and Haleigh and Fessy are dating. Which means BB20 created the same amount of couples that Bachelor in Paradise did. Maybe BIP should take some notes…

What did you think of the season and the outcome? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: Everything, Everything

First and foremost: I am reviewing the book, not the movie, since I have not yet seen it. Overall, I ended up giving this book 4 stars, BUT if I were still a teenager, I’d give it 5 stars. It’s often difficult to get back into the swing of the young adult genre now that I feel I’ve grown past it both intellectually and literally. However, I try to keep up with what my students are reading so that I’m able to make book suggestions and engage them in conversation. This book was also one of the most popular summer reading choices this year, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Note: from this point on there may or may not be SPOILERS, so if you do not want to read them, STOP HERE!

The reason that my teenager self would give this book 5 stars is because I’ve always been driven by a great love story, and this book definitely excels in that category. The characters are opposites, they care about one another, and their love seems meant to be. Despite their attempts to remain friends due to the precarious lifestyle Maddy is forced to lead, they clearly cannot help but to fall in love with one another, breaking a slew of rules along the way. They mainly communicate through email, which results in Maddy spending a lot of time on her computer, and she often stays up late. This places a strain on the very close relationship she has with her mom, which is reminiscent of teenagers abandoning their friends when they start a new relationship. She is intrigued by his wild sense of adventure, and he is intrigued by her intellect.

One of the most interesting aspects of Nicola Yoon’s YA Romance stories is that she always adds a familial twist. This goes beyond the classic arch of a forbidden love like that of Romeo and Juliet. In Everything, Everything, Maddy and her mom are best friends and spend nearly all of their time together. The rest of their family is dead, and no one else can come see Maddy because she is so sick. Throughout the novel, Maddy wrestles with guilt over her interactions and meetings with Olly because she knows her mother has given up so much for her, and she is putting it all at risk for a boy. However- at the end of the novel we learn that Maddy has been a victim of Munchausen by proxy all along. Her mother is so distraught from the death of Maddy’s father and brother that she can’t bear to lose Maddy, and locks her up in a way that convinces everyone else it’s for her own protection.

The reason I gave it 4 stars is because I almost felt like the ending was a cop-out. Yes, it brought some attention to the mother’s issues, but it was too easy. The characters didn’t have to grapple with being in love while one of them had SCID. The characters didn’t even deal with the Munchausen by proxy because it came to light so late in the story. And of course I felt that it was too easy that Olly moved to the city and despite having no contact with Maddy didn’t find love with someone else. It was all just wrapped up too neatly and real life isn’t like that. However, I understand that it is generally the process of a young adult novel to have an ending without too many questions, so I can’t really fault it for that.

All in all- if you like reading YA novels, then Yoon is definitely an author to check out. This book was delightful and the majority of my students have praised it as well. Have you read this book? Did you like it? Let me know in the comments! *Side note: if you are interested in learning more about Munchausen by proxy cases- check out the Mommy Dead and Dearest documentary on HBO! It was quite compelling.

The End of Tucker/Jordenna/Bow’s Potential

This has been a roller coaster of a week for Bachelor Nation. ***IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED THE BACHELOR IN PARADISE FINALE, STOP READING NOW***

I’d like to break this down couple-by-couple, rather than moment-by-moment because I think it’ll make more sense. Please note that my opinions are not facts and they are based on what I know from the show and social media. I do not know these people personally, nor have I ever had any sort of contact with them in the real world. With that in mind, I’ll try to be sympathetic and understanding.

Anneliese and Kamil: I’m starting with these two because I want to get it out of the way. The two of them got either another terrible edit, or are actually this terrible in real life. Either way, I think everyone knew it wasn’t going to end well. I truly hope that Anneliese finds love for real so that she can stop coming onto the show. Not because I don’t want to deal with her, necessarily, but because I truly don’t believe this is the process for her to find a love that lasts. The entire interaction between them at the Tell All was absurd. First, she says everything is great, then he dumps her, and then she claims to have tried to end it two weeks prior. So is everything great or is it over? You can’t have it both ways. And, Kamil- seriously? You waited until you were on TV to end things…you know this doesn’t win you any brownie points in Bachelor Nation, right?

Chris and Krystal: I’m glad they’re happy. I’m glad they found each other. I hope they make it work in their own crazy way. Shockingly, they are the least dramatic couple.

Kevin and Astrid: These two are so good together. She is patient and understanding through his issues, but doesn’t let him walk all over her. Not that he wants to. I’m so glad to see Kevin’s growth throughout these shows and his willingness to let Astrid in and show how great he can be. I also think his transparency about needing to go back to his therapist and having brought baggage to paradise was refreshing and needed. This show is not great about connecting the drama to the real world consequences, so his honesty was definitely appreciated in Bachelor Nation.

Joe and Kendall: I am so happy these two found their way back to one another. I know people are quick to blame one or the other, but at the end of the day, this show was filmed in 3-4 weeks. Of course there are going to miscommunications, fear, and complications! Joe was terrible at expressing how he felt in a direct manner, and Kendall was afraid of commitment with someone she just met. It makes complete sense. Either way, the good news is that they’re still together, they look incredibly happy, and Joe is headed for Dancing with the Stars!

Jordan and Jenna: …..where to even start with this one. First, I feel terrible for Jordan. He had a great showing in paradise and everyone watched him fall head over heels for Jenna. It was truly love at first sight. He was giddy around her and she honestly brought out the best in him. I thought they were going to be the epic love story of paradise, until Reality Steve broke his news. Jenna is a liar and a manipulator. And yes, I believe it. I think it’s true, and if it’s not then the truth will eventually come to light, but for now, there’s no doubt in my mind. The reason I’m so quick to believe Reality Steve is that he would not have posted it if he didn’t do at least some research into the validity of this. Steve gets information from all over the place all the time, but he doesn’t post everything unless he can verify it, because that’s good journalism. Also- he’s not an evil person and does not want any of it to be true, but he posts it because Jordan, and Bachelor Nation, deserve the truth. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll give you the short version (but you should really go look it up): basically, Jenna was cheating on Jordan this entire time, claimed (in text messages to another man) that she didn’t even like him and that it was all to boost her business. In an interview with Reality Steve, Jordan explained that when confronted, she gave a myriad of excuses, such as “you know how I am when I’m drunk,” and claiming she needed to check her messages, and stating that she may be mean sometimes, but she didn’t think she said that. Jordan expressed that she did not do anything to show him that the texts weren’t real. If that wasn’t incriminating enough, a friend of Jenna’s got in contact with Reality Steve to tell him that yes, the texts were real, but they were a lie and that Jenna was playing this other man for business support and that she had truly fallen in love with Jordan. Either way- it’s terrible. Jordan has refused to say any mean things about Jenna and reiterates his love for her, but he has chosen to leave the relationship because he cannot continue to be fooled. The majority of Bachelor Nation has been outspoken about supporting Jordan through this. Jenna claims to have gotten a lawyer to prove it wasn’t her, but we’ll see where this goes.

Finally- Colton for Bachelor. Honestly- I wasn’t on board at first, but I really don’t think this will be a terrible thing. He’s a likeable guy, he means well, and he wants to find love. If he’s conflicted along the way, it’ll only make for more watchable television. Also, I think the girls are going to fall head over heels for him very quickly. I only hope that by the end he finds someone who’s right for him, and that ABC can be subtle but funny with their virgin bachelor jokes.

What are your thoughts on these couples? Did any of the past weeks revelations surprise you? Are you excited for Colton to be the Bachelor? Let me know in the comments!

Commitment

Lately, I’ve been focusing a lot more on trying to reduce carbs and sugar from my diet. This is mainly stemming from a very real fear of becoming diabetic and some blood work results that reinforced this fear. For me, it’s about replacing carbs with more veggies and fruit, which isn’t actually all that difficult for me because I love veggies. Last week, I made zoodles with chicken sausage, onions, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. I boiled the sausage, and then sauteed everything together, until the tomatoes burst. It was filling and delicious. Additionally, I bought some coconut oil to replace the use of olive oil during the saute process.

For this week, I made chicken thighs with artichokes and a side of  Mediterranean bean salad (pictured below). Although it’s topped with feta cheese, the bean salad has a spiralized cucumber base, when it easily could have had a quinoa base. Not that I’m saying quinoa is a bad choice- it’s certainly better than basic white pasta- but adding the little extra vegetable in there was an easy and delicious choice. I also bought some wild caught salmon, which I plan to cook later in the week and top with an avocado salsa. Basically, I want my meals to feel light and refreshing instead of laying heavy in my stomach. However, I want them to be filling enough that I’m not rummaging around for a snack later on. (But when I am- I have some fruits, veggies, and cashew butter on hand to help me out!). I also made a homemade veggie dip using mayonnaise, plain Greek yogurt, and a spice dip mix.


I have been toying around with the idea of vegetarianism and veganism, and while I don’t think I’m quite there yet, dropping the amount of carbs and sugar I’m consuming will hopefully take me into the right direction, even if it’s not the perfect result. Besides- it’s about the journey, right? I listened to a short podcast about commitment this morning, and how nothing will ever change unless you commit yourself to change, which is definitely something to think about.

Anyway, on the fitness front, I’ve been going running/walking. I’m actually making progress! Yes, it’s slow. No, I’m not where I want to be. But to feel myself getting better is great encouragement. When I first started out, I couldn’t even run a quarter mile without stopping- a huge blow to my former athlete ego. But even within two weeks I’ve been able to do that, and get my mile time down- not where I want it to be, but at least it’s on it’s way down. All I have to do now is continue to run and stay active. Plus- I joined a soccer league, and feel decent about my performance. I haven’t let the fear stop me.

Here’s hoping that I can stay on the good vibes train and commit to being the healthiest me! Hope your start to May is going well, too!

Fumbling

A short poem about why I am annoyed by dating apps.

 

Heyy

will they even respond

Not too much.

what should i say

My career is…

do I care about their life

Yes, I love it.

is this even worth it

My hobbies are…

i am so boring

I like _________ TV shows.

i am too fat anyway

My dream is…

what would i even say in person

I don’t know.

i am not smart enough

what if they do not like me in real life

this is too much work.

 

Repeat.

Evicted- It’s Not O.K.

I’m currently reading Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond, and I’ve gotta say: it’s a heck of a lot more compelling than its title suggests. Desmond tells the story of various renters and landlords in Milwaukee, though it’s relatively apparent that these scenarios take place all over the country. In short- it’s heartbreaking. But there are a couple of things that I just can’t seem to shake, after all, these are true stories, and this book was published in 2016. This is happening today.

I uncovered my first unsettling realization in Chapter 15: A Nuisance. It tells the story of a woman living in an upstairs unit with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend is abusive. The woman downstairs hears the violence and struggles with what to do. She pities the girl, but also feels “repulsed by her weakness” (187). At some point, she decides to do something about it and runs upstairs and yells at them from outside the door, calls the landlord (to no avail), and finally calls the police three times until they show up and take the man away. So far, justice has been served. But in the harsh reality of the world, of course it cannot stay that way.

The following day, the police call the landlord to inform her that “the Milwaukee Police Department has responded to nuisance activity at your property…on at least three occasions within a thirty-day period,” that should they continue to be called to the location, the landlord would be charged, and finally, that she needed to respond with her plan to end the nuisance calls at her property (188). The only accepted plan was that, pending another call, the tenant would be evicted. Yes, you read that right. The woman in the upstairs apartment has two options: be abused or be homeless.

Later in the chapter, Desmond writes: “In the vast majority of cases (83%), landlords who received a nuisance citation for domestic violence responded by either evicting the tenants or by threatening to evict them for future police calls” (191). How can anyone, especially police departments, think this is okay? Women should be able to call the police if they’re in danger, without the fear of being homeless as a result. As a society, we should be working together to prevent domestic violence and to support the victims of such a painful crime. Not throwing them out in the streets. It blows my mind and dampens my hope for the world that anyone with a conscience could leave these women with such bleak options.

Desmond also breaks down just who this is affecting: “In white neighborhoods, only 1 in 41 properties that could have received a nuisance citation actually did receive one. In black neighborhoods, 1 in 16 eligible properties received a citation. A woman reporting domestic violence was far more likely to land her landlord a nuisance citation if she lived in the inner city” (191). Though I’d never let my students say this…this quote speaks for itself. Most educated human beings understand that racism is alive and well in this country, but for those who don’t: let this quote be a wake up call. We need to do more to protect the women in this country, but we can’t pick and choose those women. We can’t only care when it’s a woman from a “better” neighborhood. We can’t only care when it’s a woman who has white skin. All women need to be supported.

The next alarming realization occurred in Chapter 19: Little. A couple is looking for a place to live after their recent eviction. They have three kids and one on the way. They have many issues with finding a place to rent, but the most prominent one is their kids. Landlords turn away potential renters due to children for a variety of reasons: noise, destruction, Child Protective Services, etc. And look, I’m a teacher, I run a day camp, I get it: kids are not always easy. But does this mean they should be homeless? They’re the future! What can we expect for the world if we aren’t supporting the ones who can change it? If there’s an issue- then maybe that’s a different story. But to turn away a tenant just because they have a child…that cannot be morally sound. I do not want to live in a world where people would rather have a child on the street than a couple of issues to deal with at their property.

I haven’t finished this novel yet, but it’s already inspired me to want to do more. I don’t know what I can do, or what can be done, but this aching feeling isn’t going away anytime soon.

March..?

Wow- February FLEW by. I was basically sick for the first half of the month, but so many great things happened! The Eagles WON the Super Bowl, had an amazing Victory Parade, I went to 2 Flyers games, visited one of my best friends from college, and I saw Kinky Boots on Broadway! Most of these are once in a year experiences- and they all happened in one month!

The great part about my new passion planner is that there are two pages for monthly reflection at the end of each month, and it showed me that I actually made progress in some of the areas I said I wanted to work on at the end of January, which surprised me because it happened without me even realizing! The two things I wanted to work on were branching out socially and exercising consistently- and at the end of February I wrote that I felt my social life was great and I started an exercise routine. Crazy how a little reflection can make you feel some pride and progress in your life!

So, there are a few things I want to focus in March: maintaining my exercise routine now that I’ve started one, improve my reading habit because I’m wayyyy behind for the year (I’ve been watching too much TV! Re-watching Jersey Shore, starting Vanderpump Rules, The Bachelor & Bachelor Winter Games- clearly there’s a lot going on), and I’d like to spend more time outside- though I’ll admit I wrote that before the crazy snow storms started up again!

For me, maintaining the lifestyle that I want means sticking to my morning and nighttime routines, so that’s definitely something I want to work on, not just this month, but for the rest of the year to be the best I can be! However- I know that it’s also important for me to break those rules every now and then and have some fun!

Here’s to a great month- I don’t know how we’re already halfway through it!

Kass<3xo