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

Individualistic

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