My Guide to 2018

I am a bit late on this but I thought it would still be a good idea to go over my year in smaller tidbits. It was a year of personal growth and change, and while many seem to despise 2018 I could not have asked for a more incredible year. Here are some highlights.

Favorite Movie: Minding the Gap – Bing Liu’s masterful documentary struck a cord with me I could never quite shake, as its chronicles of skateboarders transitioning into adulthood are joyous and heartbreaking. I used to skateboard when I was little, and so I understood the motivation these three people felt. It was a way to break rules and to rebel from what was expected of you, or to challenge yourself in new ways. The underlying motivations for skateboarding turn to their home situations and also towards domestic abuse, creating a powerful portrait of life in America. A must watch. I gave it a 9.7 and I think that is modest if anything.

Runner-up: First Reformed – Paul Schrader’s haunting tale of a Reverend having a crisis of faith is the most topical and relevant film to come out in 2018. It is slow and intentionally still, creating an austere sense until it breaks its own rules. Amanda Seyfried is most impressive, as she plays the woman who can most understand the two men who are at the focal point of this story. Please do me a favor and see it. It is truly special.

Favorite Book: When Breath Becomes Air – A book I picked up off of my uncle’s shelf quickly turned into one of the most searing and poignant books that I read this year, as the pain, trauma, and delight of a neurosurgeon in his final days was a beautifully rendered story. It is tough and heartbreaking, but it finds a way through sheer determination to find its voice, and for Paul to get the auto-biography he always deserved. A book I loved and I think others will as well.

Runner-Up: A Storm of Swords – While I am still not finished with this book, George R.R. Martin continues to amaze me with his deep and empathetic take on characters most of us would have looked away from. This was the first in the series to dig deep into many of the villains of this story, and it makes for incredible reading and deep emotional thought. Certain scenes killed me, and the major deaths in this story keep the incredible shock-value, but what I was consistently amazed by was Martin’s care for everyone in the story.

Favorite Moment: NIRCA National Championship Meet – It is hard to overstate how incredible my experience was running in freezing cold Shelbeyville, Indiana with my club track team. All of our hard work came to fruition, and we had a blast while doing it. I can not thank my team enough for all they have given me and I hope to get to go to more incredible meets in the future.

Defining Change in Character: Openness – So much of my time before 2018 I spent my time in a bubble, resulting in stereotypes about people who live outside of my own. After spending a year away from home and traveling the midwest as well as meeting people from all over, I had the incredible opportunity to meet people from the furthest corners and reaches of the midwest and beyond. This has allowed me to be much more open to new experiences and new people, and my slight fear of breaking my bubble has turned into exuberance to discover others.

What will define 2019: Resolve – 2019 looks to be a year that will be hard, with a lot of goals set and plenty of things to achieve. My hope is that by the end of 2019 I can be in an even better spot than I am now, and that will take strength and resolve to get through it. I know I, as well as you can, but it will take time. To an amazing 2018 and an even better 2019.

Minding the Gap, Boogie Nights, and Donald Trump

Yesterday was a movie day, as I sat in my new apartment taking in Ann Arbor. I watched two both of which were phenomenal.

  1. Minding The Gap (Hulu) – Bing Liu’s debut feature is one of beauty and heartbreak in the American heartland, a story about himself and his two best friends. Skateboarding brings them together, but it is domestic violence that makes their connection all the more stronger and horrifying. Zach and Kiere, the two other subjects in this film along with Bing share a certain amount of anger, and often do not know how to express it. Skateboarding was their sweet escape, but as they grow up, they must realize who they need to become. It is beautifully filmed and told, with old skateboard footage and candid interviews that are honest and true to their subjects. This is the movie that Liu was born to make, and it comes out as moving as any film I have seen this year. 9.7/10
  2. Boogie Nights – Paul Thomas Anderson has made some of the most fascinating epic films, with There Will Be Blood being one of my favorites. His 1997 film Boogie Nights, covers the porn industry from 1977 to 1983 through the eyes of Dirk Diggler. While the movie covers the adult film industry, it focuses on the business side of pornography and brings out the characters of the people in it. Anderson always leaves a sense of dread, that behind these seemingly perfect lives is something more sinister waiting to come out. Burt Reynolds (Burt Reynolds!) is a standout as Jack Horner, the film maker determined to make adult films that mean something. 8.8/10

While I would like to just talk about movies today it seems the world has forced me into at least an article recommendation for the Cohen-Manafort fiasco. Frankly, I do not know how much of it I find interesting anymore, but my hope is that at the very least justice will be served. This more clearly puts Trump in the line of fire, and it will become significantly harder to keep calling this investigation a “witch-hunt” so long as two people in his closest circle are convicted. Conservative columnist Bret Stephens tweeted out the following, “I’ve been skeptical about the wisdom and merit of impeachment. Cohen’s guilty plea changes that. The president is clearly guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. He should resign his office or be impeached and removed from office.” I could not agree more. If you are looking for a great explainer article, look no further than this one from Lawfare.

Also I will be away from tomorrow until Sunday and will not have my computer with me. I will not be writing anything during that time and will write as soon as I get back on Sunday evening. Have a great rest of your week everyone and happy El Tráfico week!