My Best Friend, Odie Jones

When I was a 11 I had a pretty serious lung surgery. I was barely in school and was so sad and alone at home all the time. I awoke from the surgery and was informed that they would eventually have to remove the clear thick tube from my back/chest (they literally rip that sucker out of you once you are awake). Everyone was looking at me with pity, cause they knew it would hurt. I remember my mom gave me her hand and kept saying it would all “be okay”. My dad asked me if there was anything I wanted before they removed it. I thought about it and only as the nurse started counting down from 5 did I say ” Iwantapuppy!” “A bichon frise!!” -I know, what a pretentious little brat, I had to name the breed lol.-I probably could have asked for a pony at that point and I would have gotten it.

When I was 12, almost a year later I got my bichon-poodle named Odie. We went to a breeder (this is before I knew how imperative adopting rescues is) and I got to pick out my little guy. My mom is not an animal person and my dad already had our big dog Koso, so neither really wanted another pet (we had Kitty as well) but I wanted a puppy. And if my scars all over my back are any indication, I had earned one.


I remember being SO excited to go home from school the day after we got him, I could not stop thinking about Odie. I just wanted to play with him and hold him. Ky and I fought over which room “the puppy” would stay in. Excited by the prospect of our first pup ( Koso was already an adult dog when we got him) but disappointed that he was a male, Ky and I used to put buns in his hair call him “Odia” until our dad told us to stop lol. Odie was a nervous little thing when he was young. Kitty was sassy and annoyed by his existence and Koso was cool and detached (that’s just Koso with everyone though lol). It feels like it took years for Odie to show us who he really was. A brash little dog full of confidence and love that you would feel, dammit. If Koso was the cool older brother, Odie was the nerdy little one that just wanted to profess his admiration for his big bro. He did not become “my” dog until a year or two later when I started getting sick again and spending all of my time at home. We really bonded then. Before we were kind of housemates but after, he became my “little man”.


For years it was Kitty and me. Then I got close to Odie and at the same time, Kylee (my sister) and Kitty discovered that they loved one another lol. It was a love fest. I think it worked out nicely because Kitty didn’t feel as territorial as she did when we first got Koso. Ky is now a full fledged cat lady by the way, still not in love with dogs. Anyways, it was like all the pieces fell together and our little matriarch of the family (KitKat aka Kitty), fell in love with Odie as well.  A shock to everyone but Odie.


I remember when I was 14, Odie was 2 aka 14 in dog years, and I thought we were bonded by this (lol I know). I also loved how he was a mixxie , as was I (I KNOW. I’m as cheesy as pizza). But the thing that really cemented my thinking that Odie was my doggie soul mate was the fact that his body was kind of broken too. If you remember, I obtained this little guy because my body was, is, and always will be my biggest enemy. When I had that particular surgery, I had yet to have been diagnosed with lupus. In fact, my lung problems have nothing to do with lupus. I’m just that messed up lol. On my 15th birthday 8.3.2008, Odie was 3 years old and he had a really bad seizure, his first one. I thought he was going to die and I ran to the basement and cried. I know…how weak. My dad yelled for me “Mae, he’s scared and he needs you!” I REALLY did not want to see my dog in such distress. It hurt to watch him cry and not be able to help. As much, I’m sure as it did for my family seeing me sick all the time. Anyways, he eventually got better and I held him. We found out that poodles have seizures, it’s a really horrible but it’s common amongst that breed.



Over the years, it happened a few more times and it never stopped hurting to watch him go through that but I remembered what my dad said about him needing me. I know I sure as hell needed him. We depended on one another. So yes, I know a dog passing away is hard for a lot of people. I know I’m not alone. The fact that Odie was the youngest of my babies and my first pet loss does not help. I find solace in that he passed away very quickly, of what no one is sure. All that is known is that he was very lethargic leading up to it. I’m happy to hear that my dad held him and consoled him with cooing chants before he died, but me being on another continent and not being there to support my dog as he struggled just REALLY pains me and I feel so bad. I know it’s not my fault, I really do. I just can’t help but feel like I did not hold up my end of the bargain. Kitty has been in agony since he died but when I came home this week I held her and I think we both understand that we loved him so much and we are there for one another. My family told me that she is doing a lot better so that makes me feel of some use. I just want to end this post by thanking Odie for all he did for me in the past 10 years. I know I would be in so much more pain psychologically as well as psychically if I didn’t have that little guy to come home to every day. I love you so much, and I can’t wait to see you again. Rest in power, Odo.


P.s. Thanks so much to my friends Anna and Katelyn for helping me talk about all of this. It happened so fast, I wrote this for some closure and as a way to honor Odimeyer. Kind of laughing at just how many nicknames we had for Odie: Odo, Little Man, Odimeyer, Odia, Odie Odie Oh.



Selma Lord Selma

*The first movie about the U.S. civil rights movement I ever saw, shown Disney Channel in the early 2000’s*.

When I was seven or eight years old, I discovered something that I had the good sense to be ashamed of even as a child. I “pitied” people who were my color, aka brown. Not just any brown person, brown people of African descent who were raised in the states. My parents raised me to be proud of my ethnicity (half black, half Irish) and I was pretty dang confident, so it was not an identity crisis.  More like a feeling stemming from movies about slavery and civil rights, reinforcing the idea that my people were at an inherent disadvantage. I didn’t necessarily understand the difference between historical (non) fiction and the black people of today (which many can argue, are still at a disadvantage). For the most part, I saw when I saw films with black casts, they were always about slaves, the civil rights movement, or “thugs” (all of which, should be talked about but is that all we are?) Black people have been fighting for basic rights in the country since the day they stepped foot on the land of the free and I just felt like my ancestors weren’t worth much, if that makes sense?  That’s heavy stuff and to articulate it is difficult.  We are told  we are not as pretty, smart, that we aren’t worth anything via subliminal messages day in and day out but this is nothing new, it’s just a different form of dominance.  You don’t have to believe me, it is happening.  Then to think of our family history or lack there of. That takes a toll on a person’s psyche, to carry it with them…. that their people didn’t choose to come here.  As a child, I came to recognize an almost heavy cloud that looms over us, invisible chains that serve as a reminder that we were brought to this country to serve.  The pity I felt was before I realized that we as a community are not paralyzed by our counterpart’s opinions.  Many are fighting the good fight, and work on making a difference every day, the films I watched were indictive of the times in which they took place, I know longer had to believe that this was my future.  The media is powerful. even for a child.


Our grandparents were not afforded half of the rights we have, uneducated and beat down (at least in my family’s case), it’s hard to have the history of your family go only so far back as to days that you were fighting for your human rights. Languages lost, identities destroyed, tethers to family lineages, snapped in half. People say to “get over it”, it happened and “other groups have been through similar if not worse”~ )actual comments I saw on a website), like it’s a competition. But somewhere in that incredibly dismissive comment lies something I agree with. How do we move on if all we see of ourselves in the media, is ghosts from our past? We learn from the past, this is true, but are we doomed to relive it over and over again? I find this to be a plight of both Native Americans (even more so, Native Americans) and African Americans. Our representation being only of the past. If it is in the present, we are shown in such a negative light.  The lasting effect making us feel as if we are not actually here, as if we went extinct. Or worse, like we aren’t important or good enough to warrant modern stories about us. I am using the royal “we” but I do only speak from myself. There are some great films with black ensembles (I know there are some great ones, not enough) but none of them reach the critical acclaim, unless they are period pieces. I have spoken to a few friends who feel the same way, it seems to me, that the younger generations feel it even more than the older gens in the black community who see it as honoring the past.


The media lacks diversity but when they do have a movie with an African American cast or any people of color, they (Hollywood) are sickeningly proud. I picture their smug faces, rewarding themselves for reliving the same events from different perspectives over and over. Knowing that they (The Academy and others like it) are held to high esteem, and that their word is law. I think history is essential to a growing nation but I don’t want to be doomed to relive it ten times over. I hate how the not so subtle message of these films being “back when black people had a reason for protesting”, is thrown so callously. 12 Years A Slave, The Help, Django Unchained, The Butler, Selma, (just in the last 3 years) etc.  With things like police brutality, the incarceration rates, and our education system failing, there are plenty of “issues” we can talk about today.  Also, tons of accomplishments!  Big awards only going to these films.  Black people winning Academy Awards for playing the help or a slave.  How many more of these movies (and I’ll admit that I actually loved all of these films) do we have to pretend are oh so innovative or freeing? I liked Selma. For a long time I was refusing to see it ( I heard the title and rolled my eyes and said “oh Lord”) because this was just yet another movie, set to hold me in a mindset of “this is what it used to be, it is no longer and now you must be grateful”. But I caved as I wanted to give it a chance before I fully rebuffed it. I saw it on Dr.Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday, I also heard some freedom fighters speak and it was a really powerful day.

This brings me to my final critique (for the sake of shortening this post, not my final critique of Hollywood,ever) but why for the love of God, are all the leading females of such a fair complexion? It’s not that Coretta Scott King and Diane Nash weren’t fair, and it’s not that they did not have crucial roles, it’s the fact they weren’t the only women to march at the forefront of the movement. Lighter skinned women are only ever shown leading the charge ( always behind the men).


*Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King in Selma*

It’s ridiculous, and I see this in a lot of black ensemble films. Equivalent to putting only blonde, white women in movies. Women are strong, courageous, confident, intelligent, beautiful, and they come from all different backgrounds. We have no problem showing a darker skinned man with a lighter skinned woman or with a white woman but lord forbid we have a dark skinned woman who is a commander, confident, and/or desirable. No…she always has to be a best friend, frighteningly insecure, and/or seen in an almost desperate manner ( Dear White People, for instance). I could write an entire thesis on shadism within the black community. Easily, I could be one of those people that lives in denial about the shadiesm within my community, but I’m not. It exists and as someone who gets more privilege out of the deal (I mean I’m still black, so not that much more), I have an obligation to speak up. The divide is great, a painful reminder of days when your skin tone got you an job inside or outside of the house, working for the master (the invisible chains never quite come off) and now has manifested itself in to a hierarchy within our community and it breaks my heart. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t have privilege as a lighter skinned woman. Nor am I going to pretend that I haven’t had pain inflicted upon me because of my skin tone, I have, but I know that this is bigger than me and whatever isolated incident that occurred. We are all byproducts of our ancestors’s decisions, just as our descendants will be of ours. Things that are said,pain that is inflicted, and things that hurt then,l hurt now. This pain doesn’t dissipate over time, it evolves with us. Hiding behind the defense of political correctness and indignant statements that we live in a “post racial society”. It’s like a cancer that no amount of chemo can cure, and it spreads.


*Actual women of the civil rights movement*

I know this post was all over the place and then some, lots of ideas going on here and many will not agree with them, but I think of it as, I live in the here and now.  I’m desperate for more stories about not only non fictionalized real black people but complex characters with flaws and redeeming qualities. Well rounded characters who are living day to day.  People of different finical background, religions, and morals. Not so one dimensional. Beyond the Lights for instance, was a severely underrated film (again with the light skinned actress being cast) that really called out the sexualization of “celebrities” in the public eye but got no love from critics because in this film the characters were thriving in every sense of the word. There was an obstacle, climax, and suspense but it wasn’t at the hands of the characters’s freedom. Blackish, a show that is thankfully getting a lot of praise from both critics and audiences, is proof that there are many different kinds of black families out there.

*Anthony Andersen and Tracee Ellis Ross in Blackish*

Majority of people of color, no matter where they live, deal with microaggressive racism every day and to be able to laugh at that is to not feel so alone in this crazy world. Laughter unites people like no other. I do not mean to say no other ethnicity has this dark cloud, I am not saying all African Americans do, and I’m not saying we as people are incapable of succeeding because of it. I am saying that acknowledging is healthy and open dialogue is  essential.  These are my gut feelings, however wrong they may be.  And I’m going to start blogging about them more.  For no one but myself 🙂


Gentrification in Detroit

“Gentrification” is usually used to describe the process of displacing residents from urban neighborhoods that have been targeted for new investment and resources. Rising housing prices mean that many long-term residents cannot afford these “rediscovered” neighborhoods. 

Detroit is truly is like no other city in the world. There is something incredibly resilient about this town. Very few have had the highs and lows Detroit has endured. Yes it’s still standing, just barely in some cases. Some parts are beautiful in their neo renaissance architecture and some look like a bomb went off. But as with many areas that are struggling, there are those that want to come in and save it which is good!  But life isn’t black and white so one wonders what becomes of the 700,000 people (80% black) that already live in the city that needs to be “saved”? So first off the bat, I am not a person that tiptoes around race. Race is incredibly important and if you have had the misfortune of being told to annihilate one’s heritage for the sake of not being racist, aka “I don’t see color”,  then it’s time to resurrect those terms  for the sake of this blog post. To live in a world where you don’t “see color” is to erase large portions of one’s identity and it’s not for you to decide who resonates with their culture or not, but that’s a post for another day. So any who, most of the young people moving in to Detroit are white. That is incredibly important to note as there is a white savior complex that is in engrained in this country since the day we were born, through movies, books, the news. If brown people are having an issue or being “barbaric”, then white people will come in and save the “savages” from themselves. Slavery, colonialism, cultural assimilation, etc etc. Same story, different eras (sometimes the same era).


*Just want to note that I know there are many Detroiters that are finically fine, I have seen beautiful neighborhoods and fancy cars, but what I am about to discuss is not about those Detroiters.  This is not to just bring up negative parts of Detroit but I will not be naive either, this is a city that is rising and with that needs to be evaluated from all ends.*

So now we are in the 21st century where this story is still playing out but not in the same way. The problem with people moving in Detroit from cities like NYC, and creating super expensive shops is that SO much of this city (well like the whole city) is bankrupt. There is a VAST difference between these fancy coffee shoppes and the overwhelmingly impoverished around the corner. Most cities have a rich/poor situation but it is going to be so much more apparent in Detroit. I LOVE Detroit, yes there are movements and people that are willing to make a change and it is amazing. You can FEEl it in the air but Detroit is a huge city, like super big. Almost half of the adults in Detroit can not read, 30% are below the poverty line, and the education system in general is pretty bad. I’m not saying you can’t move there, you can’t want to make a difference, you can’t be white lol. No, I’m not implying any of that. I’m saying gage where you are and what people can afford. Who do you want to attract via your mid life crisis, internal revolution, or whatever reason you packed up and moved to Detroit? Because it seems as though the new shops are hoping to attract tourists and other people like them. The divide between black and white is becoming even more evident as time goes on. It’s suddenly cool again to move to Detroit after the “white flight” in the 50’s and 60’s (when the white side of my family left Detroit). Since then many things have changed and Detroit, along with losing many of it’s citizens lost jobs and incomes went out the window as well.


In my opinion, the biggest issue Detroit has is that we have no places that attract tourists.  Nothing historically is in sound condition (Motown Museum is one of the only ones).  People from other cities don’t want to come here like they do, Chicago for instance.  Chicago which is another city that has risen from the ashes so to speak.  Chicago has very ritzy parts but it also has streets you can drive on, a variety of public transportation, courts that pretend to care about the education of all, and doesn’t have 78,000 abandoned buildings.  But the grass is always greener on the side, it’s not that other cities don’t have problems but it’s the rate at which these problems are fixed (or not fixed) that concerns me.  Chicago certainly has it’s own issues but the contrast between rich and poor is not nearly as evident.

All in good time I would love for fancy little shops to pop up but I liken Detroit’s overall situation to that of an underdeveloped country. It is proven that going to another country and doing everything for them and then leaving will help not help in the long term. You go and teach people how to better themselves and then they make the change, because there absolutely is a pride thing associated with how you make your living, how you survive. Education is the foundation for some much but equally important are the jobs themselves. With no jobs, and fancy shops…it’s kind of a slap in the face. The whole “if you teach a man to fish” scenario is applicable here. I’m not even sure this completely makes sense and I know someone will be offended but I’m learning not to sweat the little stuff. I’m writing because I am witnessing this revitalization of one of the greatest cities on earth and I’m just hoping those who live there now aren’t left behind while everyone admires the great job they have done.


There is so much to be gained while people put together the once (and always) great city of Detroit but if the people just watch as suburbanites and out of towners flood to the affordable housing and drive up housing prices, what are the natives to do? As with Brooklyn for instance, the trendy place for some is a mandatory place of living for others and I just ask that we consider that.  New business is good but what it does for old business, must be evaluated.


Colorless Heroines

Food for thought. Okay so only while sitting in the theatre watching Mockingjay (by myself, not having to keep up any pretenses) did I come to terms with the main reason I no longer consider myself a fanatic of The Hunger Games movies. Of the books, yes but I have pinpointed what’s been bugging me about the movies and it’s not just because I’ve outgrown them although that and all I’ve done with the franchise certainly added to it.  So I’m watching Jennifer Lawrence portray this character whom, when I first read the book I identified with. I was 15 when the book came out, about her age.  I have only one younger sister whom I would have thrown myself in the reaping for, and even though this warrants tons of debate and speculation, I truly thought Katniss was of mixed race. In my head personally, she was half white half native american or native something indigenous of North America. Sure, she could have totally been 100% white but I’m certainly not the only person who thought that she was a mixxie. Perhaps it was me projecting so she was more similar to myself.  So anyways, when Jennifer Lawrence was cast I was pissed. I saw her in Winter’s Bone (loveee that book and movie) and knew she could act but she was too old, too blonde, and this is the one time you would see me write this about a character but Katniss was starving so I pictured someone very slight in this one instance. My childhood favorite actor was cast as Peeta and the hot Aussie in The Last Song was cast as Gale (which I totally thought was backwards because I was hung up on hair color, didn’t know how perfect Josh would be). But yet again I wondered why this tall blonde person was cast as someone who, in my head was racially ambiguous at best.  Sure they tanned Jennifer and Liam and darkened their hair but I pictured District 12 citizens differently to say the least.


When I found out that the casting director/director/studio only opened up submissions for white actresses to play Katniss, I was irate. What the hell? Little did I know that this is a super common thing in Hollywood, but this book was sacred to me, and I felt as if I had been written out of a story I cared so deeply about and stood so firmly for. Then I won the competition and did all that cool stuff, only to return from Hollywood feeling completely disoriented and promising myself to be in an industry where I am completely at someone else’s will , utter someone else’s words, or have someone paint me up again for it was actually a lot like Katniss’s makeup and wardrobe team.  There was a lot of push and pull with me outright refusing to say some of the lines I was fed and fighting to wear my signature red lipstick (after hours of makeup I was wearing my damn lipstick). I am forever grateful for that  opportunity, mainly because it made me realize that I am so vehemently myself and to change would probably kill me.  Little things I refused to say, wear, or do now has me reflecting on that experience so much. I had so much fun, don’t get me wrong but it saved me a lot of time in figuring out the kind of people I don’t want to surround myself. SO, while in the theatre I was almost having a panic attack as I realized that none of the huge franchises I love and support showcase people of color as anything but token characters. In the books and in the films and it makes me sick. Suzanne Collins should have been asked about how they opened up casting to only white actresses/Jennifer being cast in lieu of a woman of color, instead they asked

” Some readers have expressed real frustration that white actors were cast in the roles of Katniss and Gale, who they felt were clearly described as biracial in the book. Do you understand or share any of that dismay Suzanne?
SC: They were not particularly intended to be biracial. It is a time period where hundreds of years have passed from now. There’s been a lot of ethnic mixing. But I think I describe them as having dark hair, grey eyes, and sort of olive skin. You know, we have hair and makeup. But then there are some characters in the book who are more specifically described.”

Such bullshit. There are now talks of The Huger Games theme parks, there are atrocious make up lines “inspired” by the districts, and do you know what the MOST ironic thing of all is? This one series, this series that talks of unfairness, mistreatment, prejudice, and classism in this North American society is centered around an almost entirely white cast. I get that white people have bad things happen to them too. I know that every race has mistreatment thrust upon them in some way, and sometimes it doesn’t even boil down to race but why, WHY is it that even a narrative that so deeply reflects the plights of Mexican Americans, African Americans, Middle eastern Americans, Muslim/Sikh/Hindu/Jewish/, any sort of American that doesn’t fit the mold and ESPECIALLY Native Americans, is yet again served up as a struggle that only the majority of whites are dealing with. There are going to be so many people thinking that this story is beyond race and that I’m missing the point but if it is truly beyond race then why were only white actresses allowed to audition for the protagonist of this tale? Why is Hermione, Tris, Bella, Annabeth, Lena, Rose, Clary, Alaska,Cassie, etc etc etc, why are they all one race? I understand that most of the big authors are white and “write what you know” but why is it the same thing time after time? And for once we can’t blame Hollywood entirely. Now more than ever, We Need Diverse Books. This is about so much more than even just representation.  This is me, a 21 year old woman of mixed race having a bibliophile identity crisis.  It’s more than my favs being problematic, this is about my idols in every sense of the word, my heroines being completely colorless.


Race is NOT Just Black and White.

My friend is 3/4 european white and a 1/4 black (give or take some) and this woman tried to tell her that she does not get to identify as a woman of color at all because she looks white.  My friend had already acknowledged that she benefits from our system, society’s system, as woman who looks white but that was enough for this cretin who wanted to remind my girl that she is what she may not call herself black….so this “adult” and I had a little chat as clearly she was only going to discuss this with a “real” woman of color.  You may read this and think “well that stinks” or “what’s the big deal?” but ask anyone who has two parents that are of different ethnic makeups if they’ve ever experienced this in some capacity. I’m not talking about your great great great great grandpa who may have been Native American. I’m talking about your mom who may be German and Mexican and your dad who is Chinese and Indian. A culturally diverse household in which immediate family members are of different racial backgrounds. People are CONSTANTLY trying to shove mixxies in to these little boxes and it is exhausting.  You don”t get to tell someone that they simply are what they look like. You don’t get to erase the histories of our families because your small minded self can not comprehend the complexities of human genes.  I have heard this crap my whole life and yes, I talk about it because some people still think it’s “no big deal”.  Even discussing this with my parent’s, well they will never experience it so I openly talk about it with friends but even so it’s liberating to swap stories someone else of mixed origins. It goes beyond ignorance, it’s flat out offensive.  My mom says just ignore them (when I go through stuff like this) and there gets to be a point when you are sick of others trying to dictate your racial background.  Race is (literally) not just black and white so get hip with the times, 50 years time us mixxies will be the majority, you wait on it.


Chin Up.

Sometimes it’s hard putting yourself out there all the time in life in general which is why so few do it. You have to be okay with rejection, confident that if things don’t go your way this time there’s always next time, and simply not get deterred from your goals. I never paid much mind to the phrase ‘be yourself’, all your doctor’s offices have posters that say it, teachers remind you of it before an oral exam, and parents say it just because. Sometimes being you isn’t good enough and sometimes being you is all it takes! The most difficult thing about continuously trying new things is that you aren’t just opening your doors to good opportunities and experiences, you let in the bad experiences too. You are exposing yourself to the world and letting them think what they will. You may not get to defend yourself or say otherwise once their mind is made up and you have to accept that. I suppose learning these lessons are essential to growing up maybe not for all but for an individual to leave their mark on the world, so they can become who they are destined to be. To live a somewhat pained existence with a lot of highs and few lows or vice versa is better than to live no existence at all. Just always go for it. What’s the worse that can happen? You don’t get your way.



Story time children!  Gather around.  By now you have all heard of the New York Times Bestselling books/ Mega box office smashing films,The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins/starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth.  I would like to give you all my unique perspective on this entire franchise as I have now been to both the Los Angeles World Premiere of The Hunger Games where I interviewed the cast on the red carpet for the daytime talk show Wendy Williams as well as attended the U.S. Premiere in Los Angeles of Catching Fire this past week.

Entering The Hunger Games World

I read The Hunger Games in 2008 when I was 15 years old.  A librarian recommended it to me as I am and was a complete book dork who devoured novels like it was a contest.  Katniss, the story’s heroine, was 16 with just one sister who was 12 years old, I was 15 with just a 12 year old sister.  The similarities were endless  I was hooked right away.  I remember calling all of my friends right after I finished it and screaming “YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK” but at the time everyone was on the Twilight train (myself included) so for my one- book -a- year -friends this was more than enough.  These were dark times, before I had a  Facebook/Twitter/or a Tumblr, so little did I know, the fandom was already growing.  Fall of 2009 Catching Fire came out (my personal favorite of the trilogy) where our heroine faces her enemies yet again.  Katniss was so incredibly strong throughout the series.  I had come to think of her like a friend, I got really defensive when people complained about her choices.  The novels are in first person so I felt like I was with Katniss from start to finish.  I recall summer of 2010, I had just created a Facebook, just turned 17, and just got a new Kindle. Posting about how excited I was to read Mockingjay, one person replied to my status.  Now every time I post about The Hunger Game series, many people have input!  Yes I just used Facebook, to indicate the popularity of a book.  The Mockingjay release party at Borders (RIP) was on August 23rd,2012 where we played trivia games and got little prizes.  There was hardly any The Hunger Games merchandise you could get at the time so I still have 15 Mockingjay rub on tattoos I stuffed in to my pockets,coveting them as they were the only tangible thing that showed my pride .  At the time there were a lot of fans but nowhere near the amount we have now!  Mockingjay came out at midnight on August 24th and  I read the entire book that evening(on my band new Kindle).  I set up in the spare room in our basement for some privacy and read the night away.  I had no sense of time.  After I finished I just sat there.  It took me weeks to decide I did not like the final book.  The depression set in, as Ms.Collins is a master at making the reader truly feel as if they are with Katniss who really struggled throughout the book.  I did not dislike the realism of the story, I disliked the execution.  I personally felt the book was rushed and sloppy but nonetheless the novels remained some of my favorites.  I still recall getting the alert on my phone that Jennifer Lawrence was cast as Katniss on March 17th, 2011 (I’m good with dates) and being pretty disappointed, despite loving her in Winter’s Bone and knowing she was talented, I was one of the people who thought Katniss was of biracial background. From the book I pictured her as half Caucasian half Native American, oddly specific, I know.  Come to find out later that they only opened the casting of Katniss  to Caucasian actresses was heartbreaking to say the least.  Then there was the backlash that both Amandla Stenberg being cast as Rue and Dayo Okeni being cast as Thresh, caused.  Overall, it was just saddening to see people respond in such foolish and offensive ways.  But these young actors took it in stride.

The Hunger Game World Premiere

Fast forward to the end of 2011, beginning of 2012.  I’m a senior in high school/freshmen in college (long story) and a Tumblr expert.  All thanks to Tumblr, I was now familiar with the ever-growing The Hunger Games fandom and had even created a specific blog for all my “feels,” as tumblr users would say.  Many of us followed the production of the films like we were being paid. The Hunger Games marketing team was clever; they engaged many websites (50 to be exact) that were undoubtedly told these books are the next “Twilight.”  Competitions to win tickets to THE World Premiere were up for grabs! Entering every single one I could, I did not win tickets until one day I was checking my usual sites, Thehob.org, Mockingjay.net, and HungergamesDWTC.net, when I saw a new competition to be special correspondents at The Hunger GamesWorld Premiere on behalf of The Wendy Williams television show.  I entered a video of me talking to the camera about how much I loved the series in addition to showing off my ever growing merch collection.  Fifteen minutes later I got a call from a producer!  They flew myself and a lovely girl named Kara from Georgia, to NYC to be on the show.  They told us there would be 10 of us, where they would pick one winner. I could not help feeling like I was in a game as we were put in a fancy hotel and going on a show where they would choose one winner. Well, in true TV show fashion, they were tricking us! Both Kara and I had won and the other people pretending to be the other eight selected were actually Wendy William interns.


Then they flew us to LA where we had wardrobe, professional makeup, and hair!  The guy who did my hair had also done Halle Berry’s had Tyra Banks’s. I felt so royal!  However, being around an entire crew of professionals for an entire day was tedious and frustrating.


I don’t mean to sound like a brat, but people who tell you how you can maintain/lose weight, prevent aging(I was 18!), and essentially be prettier are not the kind of people I would ever surround myself with by choice.  While we all waited patiently (six or so hours) for what I am not sure, things got a little catty every now and then.  There was also some mocking that of famous people that I nipped in the bud because I hate offhanded bullying comments about anyone, famous or otherwise.  There were about 15 people in and out all day not including us.  We really got the star treatment which was neat.  It’s funny because the first question so many people in that industry asked was “Are you an actress or singer, what do you do?”  And I was like, “I’m just a kid, I don’t do anything.” And right now at 20 years old, that is my same answer.  I remember it was a fight to even get them to allow me to wear red lipstick.  Red lipstick is my signature thing, I’ve had people tell me women of color should not wear red lipstick and I just laugh. Been wearing it since I was twelve!  So if they did not let me, I would have just stuck it on myself. After lipstick-gate 2012 I even had one of the men tell me “you should always stand up for yourself, because you know what looks best on you.” I know, that’s why I did stand up for myself!  This just goes to show you what kind of world we were in. We had to film little tidbits expressing our gratitude and excitement all day. It was fun, but so incredibly forced, but hey that’s the name of the game. Luckily Kara, her mom, and sister were a welcome distraction, as they were the sweetest people in the room besides the producer for the segment, Mike. The end result almost reduced me to tears. It was a lot of makeup and I looked fake (some may say better) but it was a shock to my system as I only ever wear red lipstick! Now I know how people in the spotlight always manage to look so glamorous.  *Ignore the date stamp*, never got that fixed.


Red Carpet Mayhem

The red carpet was INSANE as people were screaming and there were celebrities everywhere!  Kara and I were not really able to interview together as there was no room so we switched off and on!  I honestly was not nervous because in my eyes, they were just human beings I was talking to!  No better or worse than anyone else I know.  Seeing all the screaming fans across the barricades made me really sad because while I got to interview them (which was phenomenal), I kind of just wanted to scream with my fellow fans!  Sounds ungrateful, but I am just not a fancy girl!  So acting poised while the cameras and microphones are on for five hours straight is no small feat.


I am not an extremely talented person meaning my grades are average, I can’t act/sing/or dance, and I have no athletic ability despite being tall. So to be told by professionals that interviewing people is a career field I should look in to had me completely floored!  The reason I could never broadcast journalist is because I am the bossiest person ever.  I hate being told what to do. As a public relations major, I  was more envious of the agents who came up to me and said, “You have 2 minutes with my client,” than I was of their celebrity clients. I don’t need the glamour and spotlight!  Give me someone to boss around any day.  I knew the whole day of filming would make for one 5 minute segment but I did reach my breaking point when they wanted me to ask “Who would win in The Hunger Games?  Miley Cyrus or Kim Kardashian?”. I respected the books so much that I only wanted to ask the questions I wanted to ask (and not the tv questions they wanted)!  At a very young age I was taught the word “no”.  And being in this industry, you don’t get to say no.  You just do as you are asked and if you have not noticed, I am not good at taking orders.

All of the actors were very kind and the only people I actually freaked out at interviewing were Cody Simpson (I had never even heard any of his music so that was an odd reaction) and the director, Gary Ross who I called a God (I love his body of work).  Everyone was wrapping up and Jennifer Lawrence had one more interview to give, we were at the end of the line but there were 10 stations vying for her interview.  Well I now knew the name of the game, I made eye contact with her handler/agent person and conveyed my wanting with my eyes.  In my short heels, I was about 6’1 so that probably helped.  Jennifer came over to us where she was funny and charming as ever!  Josh Hutcherson was adorable albeit way shorter than me (sigh) and Liam Hemsworth was ridiculously beautiful.  So we all headed in where we sat two rows behind Miley Cyrus and strangely enough, next to Cody Simpson where he and his sister kept checking their phones and asking each other what was going on.  I loved the movie because I really understood the changes they made for the sake of adapting it.  Both Gary Ross and Suzanne Collins cowrote the screenplay, so I respected the film as a sort of companion to the book.  We did go to the after party where I saw Miley Cyrus again, Darren Criss (so nice), Willow Shields, Amandla Stenberg, and a large number of celebrities!  After we were flown back to NYC to watch the footage on the Wendy Show and the rest is history!  The Wendy Show offered both Kara and I an experience that money can not buy, and I would not have it any other way!  It was also a a wake up call in some ways, as to how harsh that world can be.

Once in a lifetime opportunity!  I am still blown away that I did all that, and I am beyond thankful but there was some itch in the back of my brain that made me feel like that whole spectacle was not right.  I am a very honest person, so when I say that I was not in love with the Hollywood scene, that is just my personal perspective as an outsider.  I am still ecstatic that all the people at the Wendy Williams show had such faith in me!  But I myself felt like an alien throughout the process.

Catching Fire U.S. Premiere

I met a girl named Angel outside of The Hunger Games after party.  She had won the myspace competition (50 websites had tickets to give away) and asked to take a picture with Kara and I!  Actually quite a few people asked to get their pictures with us because we had sparkly microphones and a camera crew and the whole deal.


So almost a year later I found Angel on Facebook (because I’m creepy like that) and we became total book nerd fans!  Messaging each other exclusively  about books for the better part of 2013!  So when Angel won both a trip to London for the Catching Fire World premiere (where she took her best friend) and tickets to the Catching Fire Premiere in LA and offered to take me, I gladly took her up on her offer!  I would get to experience the premiere like a fan!  You’ll notice I look like a doll at the first premiere with so much makeup and perfect hair while the second premiere is much more relaxed.  I am horrible at hair and makeup but I had fun wearing a look that I felt so confident in.  Much less glam this time around but just as many if not more celebrities were in attendance, my favorite encounters were Josh Horowitz , my favorite interviewer and  getting to talk to Jacquline Emerson who played Foxface on The Hunger Games, and Bella Thorne of Shake It Up on Disney Channel!  I met some other fans who I knew had either recently left the U.S. or weren’t from here because their shoes were so rad and unique around these parts!  Nicole squared are a pair of cousins from New Zealand  who I am happy to call new friends!  Between Kara, Angel, Nicole, and Nicole, this series has presented me with tons of new friends.



Not to mention THE MOVIE WAS PHENOMENAL.  Somehow Francis Lawrence, the director of no relation to Jennifer was able to convey every single moment subtly and directly!  Their were so many lines that were directly from the book but there were also some that were impoverised that I actually wish were in the book, which is the greatest compliment I can give!  The addition of Jena Malone as Johanna Mason and Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair made the story move seamlessly!  UGH.  I am so impressed.  I especially loved that the love triangle that the marketing team seems to really be throwing at us in commercials is not in fact as prevalent as they make it seem in the previews.  At the end of the day it is about a young woman who is forced to be this symbol and inadvertently sparks a movement for an entire nation.  Never forget that, however much the Capitol, I mean The Hunger Games public relations team tries to sell it to you.  Which brings me to my final point:



So in my not so humble opinion, The Hunger Games is the political allegory of our generation.  It is a reflection of many western societies as a whole, but especially the U.S..  I finally figured what that itch was at the first premiere, the feeling that made me so uncomfortable.  While, I have always seen us as the Capitol (us as in the States), I never realized how much the actual The Hunger Games marketing team was identical to the capitol, and we as a consumer nation, are the Citizens.  Jennifer is propped up, scrutinized, and adored.  The interviews, the products, and the insincere Capitol Citizens (aka a huge portion of Hollywood).  We no longer see celebrities as human beings, they are items to be fawned over and observed.  So maybe as you read this you are responding with a resounding #duh. Perhaps it was because I was distracted by the glitz and glam but it took going to my second film premiere to realize this is INSANE.  The paparazzi are bullies and all of the “want, more, need” attitudes are heightened in everyone at the premieres, fans, celebs, and reporters alike.  They may say in their defense. “It’s just the way it is.”  We have had celebrities and the culture of supply and demand is nothing new.  It has been this way since before The Hunger Games and it will be this way after.   But how dare they actually sell Capitol makeup, start to create a The Hunger Games theme park, and have video games where you slay fellow tributes.  They dress it up like it is something to be admired and celebrated.  I myself bought the nail polish last year until I questioned what I was even doing.  Wearing “district make up” is LITERALLY something the Capitol citizens would do.  Who wants to go to a Panem amusement park?!  This is not Hogwarts!  There is no magic, there is depth and despair.  The only magic is in the hearts of all of those that sacrificed their lives for a better world.  And there will never be a roller coaster that gives the rider that experience. I don’t mean to shame the buyers, like I said I bought the make up.  I wanted to show how much I love the series!  But the books are about questioning what we have been force fed, maybe it’s time we do that in real life too.  Selling the makeup might be acceptable  for any other book to film adaptation, but this entire series is about people standing up and speaking out.  We as individuals have the power to overcome that which we don’t agree with.  Katniss took on an entire government, why can’t we as lovers us this series, as people who respect the message Ms.Collins iterated, tell those that are supposedly the driving force behind this franchise that they need to reread the books.  And Spark Movement is doing just that.  Check out our tumblr and posts where we tell Lionsgate exactly what we think about their money hungry ideas.  The irony is insane.  These may “just be books” to some.  In your opinion, I make take this too seriously.  But with all the problematic issues I have seen since this book was even thought to be brought to the big screen, I think we aren’t taking it seriously enough.  The books are reflective of our society but unfortunately so are the responses of those hungry for more games.