Short Term 12

A good story, whether it be in a movie, song, book, or show, can have the power to make people feel something.

I recently watched a film called Short Term 12, which follows the life of a head counselor (played by Brie Larson) of a treatment facility for adolescents (one of which is Lakeith Stanfield from Get Out). The movie delves into how Larson's character and the rest of the counselors interact with each other and those that live there. Both groups deal with numerous ups and downs throughout the movie, which slowly reveal to the viewer (and the characters themselves) that common ground can be found between any two people. It was filmed in such a way that I, as a viewer, felt that I was merely a fly on the wall while they lived their lives. Time didn't speed up in certain scenes and slow down in others like movies often do; the movie just was. 

When I decided to watch this movie, it was only after I had spent 20 minutes or so scrolling through Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hulu, looking at their options, and then another 10 minutes or so of watching trailers of said movies until I got to Short Term 12. The music is what got me at first; just by listening to the music in the trailer (and obviously watching the actual trailer itself), I knew that this would probably be a heart-wrenching movie—I was right. I enjoy emotional and/or inspirational movies because there aren’t that many out there. It’s pretty special when you stumble upon a really good one.

The way the movie was filmed, the beautiful soundtrack that I am listening to while writing this, and the impressive acting from both the adults and young adults allowed me to connect with the characters in the film. I was stunned at how each and every one of the actors was able to develop his or her own character and wrap me into the story so deeply and quickly. It seemed as if each little piece of the story was carefully planned out and nothing was in there without a purpose.

Short Term 12 won a few independent film awards as well as one at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival in the year 2013. Honestly, at first glance, the awards are what got me interested in watching this movie; I tend to trust movies that have those antler-like leaves on the movie poster that surround the words like “Sundance” or "winner of" or "finalist". Yes, yes, this makes me sound like a typical movie-fiend-faker, I understand. But, I know from past experience that these movies (at least the ones I've seen thus far) tend to be thought-provoking and leave me feeling something that I can't quite put into words, even after the credits start rolling. I love the feeling after I've seen a good movie, when the screen is completely black and the credits roll and all I can do is sit there, trying to make sense of what I just watched. But even while my thoughts jumble around, thinking up alternate endings and piecing together any loose ends or cliffhangers, I feel a sense of peace for some reason. I don't know why, but this happens when I hit the jackpot in movie-watching. 

In the above picture, Jayden (one of the at-risk teens at the facility) had just shared an original children’s story with Grace (Larson’s character). Grace later informs her supervisor about this story along with their conversation that proceeded it by asserting, “…last night, that girl sat next to me and she cried and she tried to tell me the only way that she knew how.” The thoughts and emotions rumbling around in Grace’s head as she listened to Jayden tell her the story was palpable. I would include a clip of this scene, but I think it would be more impactful to watch the movie from start to finish.

I had to include the clip that the above picture is referencing, because it’s too good of a clip not to. Lakeith Stanfield’s performance as Marcus is so good that it leaves not only Mason speechless (the counselor in the room), but the audience as well. Until this moment, Marcus appeared to simply be a quiet, yet troubled kid. In this scene, when Marcus shares an original rap with Mason, the said counselor, both Mason and the audience are finally able to peer a little bit more into Marcus’ head and better understand the reasons behind why he’s at the group home in the first place.

A lot of the movies nowadays, whether it be in the theater or on a streaming service, are not as substantive as they could be. Don't get me wrong, I love Hot Rod as much as the next person, but it's important to have more movies, books, and TV shows available that can help readers and viewers discover things they didn't know about themselves and/or those around them. I think that it would be fun to write movie scripts, because movies are another medium, like books, that can help people feel understood and simply feel something.

Here's a link to the trailer so you can decide if this film seems like your cup of tea. (If you decide to watch it, let me know what you think about it in the comments below.)

Reagan Fleming


It's amazing how words we read, a sight that we come across, or something we listen to can evoke many different emotions, all remarkably different to each person. 

In the evolution of my reading preferences, I have gone from Junie B. Jones, to Nancy Drew, to Jane Austen, to Anne Lamott and Charlotte Brontë. (I will always have a place in my heart for little Junie B. That crazy kid.) Looking back at these authors, I realize I was kind of an odd kid since I chose to read Pride and Prejudice for fun when I was 12. Half the time, I didn't know what was going on due to the British lingo, but I enjoyed it and finished it nonetheless. I guess I wanted to know why it is said to be a classic. 

My taste in music has also evolved: Obviously I listened to Hannah Montana, JoBros, Aly & AJ, and I just listened to whatever was on the radio. Now that I am in my 20s, I have a very eclectic taste in music (pop/instrumental/electronic/indie/singer-songwriter). Do I listen to the occasional JoBros? Yes. That is called nostalgia, people, and that is totally normal. 

This past year at college, I wrote down my favorite quotes from books, interviews, song lyrics, poem stanzas, etc. on index cards and taped them up around my desk in my dorm room. I taped said index cards as well as pictures of family and friends in hopes of making it feel more homey. It did its job, and it made my dorm room feel more like my bedroom back home rather than a place that I just inhabit.

I have realized that some statements mean something more to us than others. For instance, there are many times that I get excited about something that I am reading, and I recite back to my friends. More often than not, the other person doesn't like or appreciate the quote the way I do. This forces me to tell myself: Hey, you have eccentric taste, my friend. 

This amazes me about books, poems, essays, songs, and other works of art: there will always be a different interpretation for the audience member. In my high school English classes, I LOVED the questions on exams and homework assignments that gave a quote or an instance that happened in a book we were reading, and it asked you to explain what you thought it meant. I always got these questions correct, because as long as you defended your thought process, there was no wrong answer. That's what I love about art: there are no wrong answers. 

Words, lyrics, paintings, etc. all have the power to move people. An author's words have the power to make their readers not feel so alone in the world, even alone in what they're going through. The reader and the author are able to have this connection, simply from having their words read.

This sums up why I am a writer. I know how much other peoples' words have changed me, and I want to do so for others as well. 

Reagan Fleming

Good Grief

Society teaches us that having feelings and crying is bad and wrong. Well, that's baloney, because grief isn't wrong. There's such a thing as good grief. Just ask Charlie Brown. - Michael Scott

Now, if you haven't learned something from the 9 seasons of The Office, then I don't know what you're doing with your life. This show is a gold mine (or as I once said while sleep-deprived: a land mine) of important quotes to remember throughout your life.

Just kidding, it's just a really funny show. However, part of the second sentence in the quote is right on the money: "...grief isn't wrong." Grief is not a bad thing to experience, which is a fact that I have had a very hard time wrapping my head around. It's not (despite how you may be feeling) a warning sign that your life is going down the toilet. Say it with me: grief. is. normal. But hey, not everyone hits the "five stages of grief" at the same time. I sure as heck did not. 

You can't map grief because it's not static, it's a moving target that doesn't ever fully end. - Kayla Jacobs

My sister brought this quote to my attention a couple of days ago, and it was one that really resonated with me. She texted it to me after I informed her that both of my dogs had to be put down. Let me just tell you something, readers: these dogs were adorable. They were small, white, fluffy Maltese, each with their own personalities. Here is proof: 

                                                                                                   Armani (left) & Ivory (right). 

                                                                                                   Armani (left) & Ivory (right). 

What made things way worse, was that I had these dogs when my dad was still alive. Again, Michael Scott stole the words right out of my mouth: "It feels like somebody took my heart and dropped it into a bucket of boiling tears." I feel ya, man. 

My dad died 8 years ago, and I can honestly say that I was in shock for an entire year after his death. I missed him, obviously (still do), but at the wonderfully awkward age of 12, I didn't properly grieve. It hasn't been until recently that I've been able to do so. (Hence the reason why I said that grief doesn't have a set timeline).

I am a writing major and I obviously have taken and am currently taking many writing/English classes. One class in particular that I was so excited to take in my sophomore year of college, was Introduction to Writing. In that class, near the end of the semester, I wrote a detached autobiography (only 3 or so pages) titled, "Daddy Daughter Dates." I was and still am extremely proud of this essay. It acted as a therapy session for me; I took some much-needed time to remember how I was feeling at the time of the funeral, which in turn helped me sort out my emotions currently. 

I decided to post this essay on The Odyssey Online. For those of you who don't know, I am a weekly Odyssey Online writer. Click here for the link to my site. This week, I chose to post something a little more serious and heartfelt to balance out the posts filled with funny gifs. Click here to read it.

Note #1: The cover photo is of me and my dad, and we are totally rocking the 'cheesy sunglasses' look. 

Note #2: Despite being a very smiley person now, I never smiled as a child. When you click the link, you'll see for yourself. 

Reagan Fleming

The Hopeful & The Hopeless: My Interpretation of The Walking Dead

I'm not going to lie: I really like The Walking Dead. 

Last year, during a week off from school due to ice and snow storms, my mom and I made homemade soy lattes and enjoyed The Walking Dead, season 1. For years, my friends and well, Society has told me that this show is worth the watch. I had never been into zombies before, whether it be in the form of a book or on the big screen. (There is one exception to this statement: I have a love of the movie Warm Bodies, but it is basically a glorified Romeo and Juliet). I go on and on about how amazing 30 Rock is, and how it's a show that makes me laugh in such a way that I would designate it as a "howl." Yes, this is true and will forever be true (Tina Fey, you little genius), but for those days when I need a break from slapstick comedy, I can watch TWD. The show does an amazing job explaining each character's story and what they were like before everything went down. Somehow, by the time the credits roll - and this happens after almost every episode - I am left open-mouthed and dumbstruck.

At first, it took me awhile to get used to the raspy growls of the zombies and the constant violence, but the suspenseful plot twists and great acting were what kept me watching every week. Now I have almost 6 seasons under my belt.

My Interpretation:

In the show, there are two types of people: the "walkers," as the zombies are most often called, and the humans. If a walker bites a human and the human dies, the human eventually turns into a zombie. But, spoiler alert: the main character, Rick, is told that the entire population is already infected with a disease of some sort that will turn them into zombies after they die. So, getting bit by a walker just speeds up the process of turning into a zombie.

After watching the first couple of episodes, I began to notice something beyond the constant battle between zombies and humans: two subtypes of humans. Those two subtypes that the humans fall under are the hopeful and the hopeless. It's not something that is stamped on their foreheads, but as a viewer, you are able to decipher who spends most of their time living in which category. Whether it's mentioned in the dialogue or not, each character in the story either acts out of their hopelessness or their hopefulness in the time of crisis (usually when a zombie pops out from behind a tree, ready to eat them). 

Some of the men and women that appeared at first to be the strongest and most dependable leaders in their groups, fell prey to hopelessness of their current situation. Well, who would blame them? Their entire world had crumbled, some family members were lost or dead by the hand of zombies, and everything seemed to be crashing down all at once. However, their poor attitudes didn't just inhibit their happiness; oftentimes, it hindered their ability to fend for themselves and others. On the other hand, some men and women that didn't appear to be the strongest in their groups turned out to be the most helpful ones out of the bunch. They understood that living among zombies was their new normal, and they made the decision to make the most of it and act accordingly. 

When I watched those first couple of seasons where I saw the topic of "hope" more prominently, I also realized that the categories of the hopeful and the hopeless appear in our lives now. Everyday, there are people who have some pretty crappy circumstances or things that they have faced in the past. However, it's how they handle those situations that makes all the difference. If you're constantly re-thinking things that happened in the past, bringing up old emotions that should have already been dealt with, or are going through a tough time, positivity is key. Hope is key. In TWD, it was those who stayed positive that stayed alive, and lived a more fulfilling life. When people (nowadays as well as TWD crew) are constantly focusing on the sad/troubling/awful parts of their life or the things that they are dealing with currently, it influences their own emotional and/or physical health. It can also hurt those around them.

Despite all the crap I've been through, the things that I'm still dealing with, and the problems that I have yet to face, I know that God is the source of my hope. I have been known to live in the "hopeless" category for extremely long periods of time, but I now realize how powerful hope can be within dire times of my life. I utterly grateful for the hope that God provides. Without it, I don't know where I would be right now. I also have to keep reminding myself that God knows what He's doing, and knows what my life will look like in 10, 20, 30 years. I don't.

Okay, okay. I understand that not everyone had this "revelation" while watching TWD, but I did. It caused me to look back on my life, and see how being hopeful has changed my life for the better.

The girl that wishes Daryl and Rick will stay alive forever and ever,

Reagan Fleming

It's More Than Just Good Manners

I have learned that being thankful can make a world of difference in how I live my life.

I heard from one of my mom's friends that she had recently put into practice what Joel Osteen wrote about in one of his many books. That was, to be thankful to God in every season of life, of every part of the day. After I heard her talk about what she had learned, I unconsciously decided to put this into practice as well. I began to thank God for the most random things. I don't remember what exactly, but it probably started out like, "God, thank You for providing money for this gluten free bagel. It's delicious." (The members of my family are health nuts btw). Once I started thanking Him for the little things in my life (even though they sound insignificant), it became clear to me that I didn't even take the time to thank God about the bigger things in my life, the things that I have gotten so used to having. It may sound oxymoronic, but the more substantial things such as being able to live in a house & having the opportunity to go to a university to further my education, I kind of... forgot about. I was so used to living in the house that I live in & going to the school that I go to, that I didn't stop to thank God for these things, even though they should technically be the ones that I am most thankful for.  

Throughout that week, as I began to thank God for the most minuscule things as well as the most sizable ones, I noticed a change in my disposition; I had slowly but surely been noticing myself becoming happier. I discovered that thankfulness changes your attitude about life & everything around you for the better. It's more than a verbal response to someone after they held the door open for you. 

Ever since I chose to become a Christian as a young girl, I had experienced ups & downs like nobody's business. In middle school, there was a death in the family. After that happened, I basically lost my faith & belief that God was who He said He was. It sounds pretty drastic, but my family & I were believing for healing, so when that didn't happen, I was a confused kid. I couldn't understand why He would let something like that happen. But the thing is, I don't really have to know why God does the things He does or chooses not to do some things. There are millions of things that I don't understand nor want to understand (i.e. quantum physics), so I try to let God do all the planning. Obviously, I am not perfect, & I don't have a lot of patience. Giving God complete control has been a struggle. However, everything my family & I have been through has led to a deeper & more personal relationship with God. He taught me that everything works out for His good. I wouldn't wish what I had gone through on my worst enemy, but I have had to keep reminding myself that God knows what He's doing. Through all of the mess, it made me realize that He was a big enough god to handle it all. He doesn't need me to be a perfect Christian where all we talk about is how much I love Him, He wants to know me on a personal level. He wants to know ALL of us on a personal level, & He wants it to be out of love, not out of obligation. 

God actually wants to know me for me & you for you. For that reason, I am thankful. 

Reagan Fleming

Funny Stuff, Am I Right?

Thinking of a topic to write about can be challenging at times. Some days it just comes naturally, and other days I sit at my desk and force myself to type. Today - with all of my homework and daily stress of college life - I am enduring the latter. 

It’s a great lesson about not being too precious about your writing. You have to try your hardest to be at the top of your game and improve every joke you can until the last possible second, and then you have to let it go. You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it...You have to let people see what you wrote.
— Tina Fey, Bossypants

Tina Fey is a comedic actress, but I would say that she is first and foremost a writer.

She has written sketches, a wonderful book, and also co-wrote 30 Rock when it came into being. (PS, that is my favorite show). As far as her book goes, I have never laughed so hard at a book before in my life. I actually listened to it in the audiobook format while driving to and from class. But hey, I loved hearing Fey narrate every chapter, because it made you feel as if you were having a face-to-face conversation with the woman behind Liz Lemon in 30 Rock

[I just imagined having a cup of coffee with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Steve Carell. Oh, the absurdity of their jokes would be unreal. And just the best thing ever. That is all.]

The quote above from Fey can apply to both humor and writing; you can't overthink things. By doing so in the form of her quick wit, she is one of the most genius comedians of today. Through her book and how she portrays her character Liz Lemon, you can tell that she has a dry sense of humor, sort of like myself. *pat on the back* That is mostly why I listened to Fey's audiobook in the first place, honestly. Tina has a dry sense of humor, but that's the point: that's what she thinks is funny, and she goes with it. I just happen to be one of her many fans. 

The main thing that I took away from her book is that comedic timing is everything. But if the timing isn't working out, learn to laugh at yourself.

I have also discovered this through my own failed attempts at trying to be humorous. When I tell jokes (most of which I make up on the spot because I love terrible puns), I have a habit of completely butchering the end; I either a) take an extensive amount of time in trying to tell the joke to the point that the audience doesn’t remember what the set-up of the joke was, or b) I completely forget the ending altogether. Both options cause awkwardness and/or embarrassment on my part. I am known among my friend group as the giver of awful jokes, which is a blessing and a curse. I manage to brighten their day by either making them genuinely laugh, or by turning the laughter around to me as the teller of the jokes.

Here is some evidence:   

    - Me: So, what did the Eagle Scout say to the new Boy Scout? 

    - Person: What?…

    - Me: Can you knot? 

    *wait for laughter*

    (Depending on how long I wait for a reaction, I explain the joke further until they say something like, "Ahh. I get it.") Although, that is not the most desired result.

At some point in your life, you will probably be able to look back at your failed attempts at trying to be funny, and realize that the effort that you put into it or the result that you didn't plan on was even more funny than the joke itself. You have to learn to laugh at yourself. For years I wasn't able to do this, and whenever I did something stupid (such as my voice cracking, me tripping, slipping, falling, or having minor wardrobe malfunctions) I would get extremely embarrassed to the point where I would either cry about it later, or just get angry at the person laughing at me. Thankfully, this only lasted until middle school or so. (Other than the time I slipped on ice and smacked my head on the hard ground. I obviously cried after I knew what hit me, but in this instance it was permissible.) The fact is, if you're too serious about things in life, you'll never fully enjoy it. Like Fey said: "You can't be the kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it." You need to live life and some days you'll be embarrassed about things, or people will laugh at you when you don't want them to. But that's life. And if you don't learn to laugh at yourself, then life won't be as enjoyable as it could be.

Everything is a learning experience as I like to say, even when it comes to telling jokes or writing a book. You need to know who your audience is, and what they actually want to hear. However, you can't please everyone. At some point you just need to write what you want or tell the jokes that you think are funny, and some people may like it while others may not. But if you think about it, it would be a pretty mundane world if everyone liked everyone's works. There would be no reason to write different genres of books or come up with different types of jokes, because everyone would have the same sense of humor. We would all just be people with no distinction from one another. If you think about it in this way, it makes you (or should make you) want to improve your writing and joke-telling skills. It also proves that everyone has different tastes.   

Reagan Fleming

Be Present

There are times in our lives where we want to stop and take a picture or record a video to document certain moments. The saying, "Take a picture, it'll last longer" may technically be true, but lately, the only reason people choose to log their memories is to be able to say: "I was there!" I'm not talking about your wedding day or something else that is equally memorable. I mean, if you didn't have a photographer at your wedding, you may need to ask yourself some serious questions. 

In this day and age, it seems as though everyone whips out their phones or cameras anytime something funny or exciting happens. I have been guilty of doing this as well, don't get me wrong. My over-documenting usually took place at one general location: a concert venue. 

If you know me at all, you'd know that my favorite thing to do in the entire world is to go to a concert. I have always loved listening to music, dancing to it even though I know I'm a terrible dancer, and most of all: listening to a band's live performance. At a concert, you're a part of a large group that is there for the same reasons as you: to listen to a band and appreciate their music. This is why being at a concert, surrounded by music and other music-lovers, is one of my favorite places to be. 

I have something to get off my chest: I am a Jonas Brothers fan. Always have, always will be. (Yes, I'm 20 years old, why do you ask?) The first time I saw them live - yes, I am implying that there have been multiple occurrences - I was in middle school. I brought my little digital camera to record some songs and take pictures of the Jonas clan. For most of the performance, I was busy looking through the camera screen instead of paying attention to the actual performers, because I didn't want to record the back of someone's head by accident. The solution sounds simple: lose the camera. But as a die-hard Jonas fan, having physical proof that I saw them in concert was vitally important. The videos and pictures did turn out well, but the only problem was - even though memory card said that I was at the concert the entire time - I wasn't able to recall what the concert was actually like. My ears were ringing after the speakers stopped producing music, but I was too involved in the recording process that I wasn't really there. However, I do remember thinking that a backup singer was actually Demi Lovato for an embarrassingly long time. That was a letdown.

After the concert, I came to this realization: some of the moments you want to remember the most, you don't need to document at all or as much as you think. It sounds like an oxymoron, but hear me out: When you feel the need to document every single thing that you do, it's easy to get wrapped up in thinking, "What should I caption this when I post it online?" and not truly be present in what you're doing. Instead, be selective in what you choose to share online with others, and keep a mental note of how often you pick up your picture-taking device.

Two summers ago, I saw OneRepublic and The Script live, and I decided beforehand to do the exact opposite of what I usually do at at concerts. I didn't watch the bands from behind my phone the entire time - I was just at the concert, appreciating the time I spent with my friends, and enthralled by the music. Yes, I recorded a few performances, but they were of my favorite songs. Even now, I still remember that I danced to almost every song played, Danny O'Donoghue (The Script's main singer) called an audience member's ex on the phone and sang to him, and most of all, I remember how their songs made me feel: exceptionally happy and carefree for reasons I don't even know how to explain. 

I have since applied this knowledge to outings with my friends, time spent with my family, etc. I don't look for photoshoot opportunities anymore, I just enjoy being with people that I love, not worrying if what I'm doing is Instagram-worthy. If I want to take a picture and post it, great. But if I don't, that doesn't mean that the moment will not be remembered. 

And looking back, these moments (those I don't have pictures of or only have a few) have been some of the most significant times in my life. 

Reagan Fleming

My Big Introduction

Sophomore in college. Junior year homecoming court representative & deemed Friendliest my senior year in high school. Writer. Girl with a pixie hair cut. Singer. Rachel and Taylor’s sister. Mark and Lori’s daughter—all these things describe me, but for a long, long time I believed that this was all I would be remembered by, all I would be known for. I love and have loved experiencing all these things, but I don't want these labels and depictions of me to be the only things that people think of when they hear my name now and in the future. I want to live a life that has substance and is worth something on its own.

(A few days ago in class)

The topic that was being discussed in one of my writing classes centered around the different types of writing, one being detached autobiography. (Honestly I have never heard about this type of autobiography, but I guess that's why I'm here at college: to learn). After lecturing for a while, the professor vented about his views on autobiographies and my age group: You are all too young to write an autobiography. You simply have not lived long enough to have a compelling story to tell. He couldn't possibly mean this as a dig to us; he is one of the sweetest professors, and is also extremely knowledgable in his field. He stated his opinion, and I'm fine with that.

I just don't agree with what he said. 

Every person that I have come across and still have not yet met (AKA the rest of the world) have had to go through things in their life that is worth talking about, worth writing, and worth reading--it is bound to resonate with someone and be impactful. I know I just recently entered my 20s, haven’t been married yet, or even had my first “big girl job," but I have been forced to mature a lot over the years, and I just so happen to have an imagination. I believe that I, like you, have something worth telling. 

  • I guess this blog is going to be a way of explaining who I am, was, and who I am slowly but surely becoming.

Reagan Fleming

If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.
— Anne Lamott