Juneteenth Films

In honor of Juneteenth, I’ve put together a list of ten extraordinary films dealing with racism that are free to stream this month. Each is powerful, a cinematic achievement in its own right, and conveys important views about race in this country. Celebrate this weekend by continuing to learn about the Black experience.


Somehow I hadn’t watched Selma, directed by Ava DuVernay (who also directed 13th and When They See Us on Netflix), until two weeks ago. Truly inspiring dramatization of the protest marches that led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This movie is a good example of how art can be used to give the audience a new perspective. You can read about all of the events that occurred in this movie, but it’s hard to imagine much more than the result. Seeing those events acted out really emphasizes the endless cruelty and setbacks Black people had to endure at the time, which provides a better reflection on what Black people still experience today. I liked how MLK was portrayed as not just the hero he is, but as a regular human who had faults, doubts, and fears. This movie was another reminder of the importance of voting. People actually died fighting for that right. (And some continue to do so.) Free to rent on Amazon Prime through June 30.


The Last Black Man in San Francisco follows a Black man reclaiming his childhood home, a now expensive Victorian house in a gentrified neighborhood of San Francisco. Gorgeous cinematography and powerful storytelling. Difficult to compare it to other movies. Gentrification has been increasing at such a high rate that many of us probably don’t think about it that much. But this movie forces us to consider the real effects it has on Black communities. Streaming indefinitely on Amazon Prime.


In the Heat of the Night was one of the first major Hollywood films to feature a Black hero. Sidney Poitier plays a detective who must solve a murder and overcome prejudice in rural Mississippi. The film won a bunch of Oscars and remains on the American Film Institute’s top 100 list. I have a soft spot for movies from the 60s, but they obviously show hardly any diversity, so this one definitely stands out. Though the hero is a detective, the plot treats law enforcement as the complicated system it still is today. Most millenials probably don’t know that the quote “they call me Mister Tibbs!” comes from this movie and not The Lion King. Streaming on Amazon Prime through June 30.


I generally despise YA books, but I have to give credit to The Hate U Give for teaching me something new and not completely annoying me with the first person teenage narrative. The protagonist witnesses the death of her Black friend at the hands of a police officer, and the story follows her fight for justice and reexamination of her own place in life. It prompted me to watch the movie version, which also does a great job of conveying the grief and confusion. What makes this most unique is probably the fact that it features a young, black, female perspective, which unfortunately is still uncommon in mainstream literature and film. Free to rent on Amazon Prime through June 30.


American Son was based on the Broadway play, featuring the same four-person cast. (Wish I’d gotten to see the show live, but unfortunately it ran before I moved to NYC… Otherwise you know I would’ve seen it!) Kerry Washington plays a mother waiting at a police station, trying to locate her missing son. The movie feels a lot like a play, with essentially only a single scene, allowing for a more nuanced perspective on the struggles involved in raising a half-Black son in the U.S. today. The tension builds to a predictable ending, but the frustration, regret, and helplessness she portrays are the movie’s biggest takeaway. Streaming indefinitely on Netflix.


Moonlight, a coming-of-age story about a gay Black man growing up in Miami, was the first film with an all-Black cast to win the Oscar for Best Picture. (Remember the awkward mix-up with La La Land…) It’s a little more “indie” than most of the others on this list, but undoubtedly beautiful. And A24 has been killing it lately, both in the mainstream and independent crowds. Streaming indefinitely on Netflix.


I almost didn’t watch Just Mercy because the trailers alone made me cry every time I came across one, and I felt like I already got the gist from Googling the true story. But I’m glad I did because it was extremely inspiring, though also completely heartbreaking. The plot follows a Black man on death row, who appeals his murder conviction with the help of a young defense attorney. Highly recommend for lawyers, but also everyone else. Michael B. Jordan stars (along with Jamie Foxx), and I want to mention another important movie he is in, Fruitvale Station, which I couldn’t find for free, but is honestly worth renting. I also want to mention that the death penalty still exists in some parts of the country, and that is absolutely barbaric. This movie confirms that. Free to rent on Amazon Prime through June 30.


Mudbound follows a white family and a Black family living on the same land in the Mississippi Delta post-WWII. As you can imagine, racist drama ensues. In addition, the story challenges preconceived notions about race and our role in tolerating or even encouraging racism. Though all of the movies on this list contain some level of violence (no surprise, considering everything that Black people have suffered through in American history…), this one has the most explicit scene. I guess that is a warning, but we are now at the point where if you don’t like seeing or thinking about it, imagine having to live it. Streaming indefinitely on Netflix.


Blindspotting is the funniest movie on this list. But still pretty intense, since the plot follows a Black parolee with three days left on his sentence, who witnesses a police shooting and also has to deal with his white friend who is out of control in every sense of the phrase. A unique take for those who are interested in thinking more about the relationship between law enforcement and Black America. Free to rent on Amazon Prime through June 30.


Written and directed by Barry Jenkins (who also directed Moonlight), If Beale Street Could Talk is based on James Baldwin’s book about a young expectant woman who tries to prove her lover’s innocence when he is arrested for a crime he didn’t commit. Another film with excellent cinematography. Really makes you wonder who the “American dream” was actually meant for… Streaming indefinitely on Hulu.

December 2019 Playlist

It’s been a minute since I last posted a December playlist, so I’ve accumulated quite the collection of Christmas songs over the years, ready to be shared. Of all the music genres I enjoy, Christmas is one of my favorites. And discovering new, old, and very old (as in centuries-old) Christmas songs is a hobby of mine. These holiday gems that get less radio air time (if any) than our modern pop classics are significantly raising my spirits as I get through my first law school exams. Listen below or on my Spotify page. For more Christmas tunes, check out previous December playlists here and here.

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2019 Gift Guide

These days I can barely discern the difference between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Even though Monday is nearly over, all the sales essentially run together and will continue through January, possibly offering better deals later. But I had a long Christmas list this year (for others… And also myself), so I decided to knock it all out this weekend. Here are my recommendations for holiday gifts:


I got this turtleneck in stores in a mixed lavender color, but it must have sold out. Still, it’s so comfy and the grey looks lovely too. Love a collar that could literally go over your head. Everything on Madewell is currently 37% off. I’m definitely stocking up on jeans, as well. Also, they have a lot of cute jewelry on sale, such as these only slightly dramatic earrings.


One annoying thing that happened to me this year was realizing that my plant-obsessed friends finally rubbed off on me. When I moved into my apartment I immediately wanted to fill it with plants. And guess what? A plant habit gets expensive! Especially when the plants are aesthetically packaged in visually appealing planters at shops like The Sill… So I’m stocking up on their bundle deals and their discounted planters while I have the chance.


In my opinion, so much of athletic wear is vastly overpriced, including Fabletics. But every year around this time, their discounted, bundled outfits are an extra 50% off, which is when I stock up. I believe they have the cutest workout clothes and have gotten compliments on every piece I’ve worn by them. You do have to sign up for a free membership in order to access the site, after which you’d have to manually skip each month you wouldn’t want clothes automatically shipped to you… But I’ve found that Cyber Week is worth the hassle.


It has recently come to my attention that some of my friends still shop at Bath & Body Works (!) to buy candles (!!!). This has led me to speak about candles for approximately three total hours so far in 2019. I’ll save you the monologue, but in short, the only candles worth the carcinogens that all candles inevitably emit are good ones. Nest candles fit in this category and are currently 25% off. And all purchases include a free rollerball perfume! Currently lit in my apartment is the divine, unaggressive scent of Sparkling Cassis, which reminds me of studying abroad in Dijon. Anthropologie also has a wide selection, and everything is at least 30% off. My favorite inexpensive candles are Mrs. Meyers soy candles, and my favorite scent (Lavender) is currently 45% off on Amazon for its Cyber Monday deals. A good candle makes a great gift because the recipient will think of you every time they light it!


But for those who are especially concerned about candles’ effects on health and the environment, this diffuser works well for a large room. I discovered the quiet joy of a diffuser at our Airbnb in Puerto Rico, and I’ve since loved having the calming scent of pure lavender (or lemon or peppermint) oil lightly fill the air. It’s also a small humidifier and optional night light. Currently discounted for Amazon’s Cyber Monday deals.

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Even though I’ve blogged about it a million times, I had to include Fresh Sugar again. The only “beauty” product I’ve ever used consistently. I get anxious if I’m ever less than five feet from at least one of these lip-savers. On my way to collecting every color! Rosé is my go-to barely-there color, but I also like Petal and Poppy. In addition, I’m ordering the best Soy Face Cleanser and trying out the Lotus Youth Preserve Moisturizer. Everything at Fresh is amazing and currently 20% off!


I saw this oversized thermal top on Sally‘s blog and then went out and bought it the next day. It is unbelievably soft. Urban Outfitters’ sale has been changing all week, but they are currently taking an extra 25-50% off everything. I got a bunch of gifts here, since they have so many random things. Also bought stuff for my apartment from their furniture department, which I don’t think everyone realizes they have. I got this bedding and am surprisingly into it. And look at this adorable throw pillow!


Don’t get me started on J.Crew, where everything is currently 50% off. So many potential wardrobe additions, it hurts! But let’s discuss current trends in headbands. As someone who’s been collecting headbands for 20 years (I’m what you might call “headband rich”), I’ve carefully observed the rise and fall of headbands and can confirm that we are back, baby! J.Crew has a ton of excellent options, but this knotted tartan headband stands out for its casual glamour.


I’ve been using The Ordinary Peeling Solution for a year and have become quite the fan. It’s basically a low-key, at-home chemical peel. I’ve even read that this amount and strength of the ingredients are illegal in Canada and Australia. So you know it’s doing something. Not only is it effective, but all of The Ordinary’s products are so cheap! (Don’t make my initial mistake of ordering from Amazon because for some reason they are upcharged there.) Great stocking stuffers! Everything at the SkinStore is an extra 10% off.


Ear cuffs must be “in” because I’ve seen them on every jewelry website lately. I really like the bold size and shape of this one. Very versatile. Everything at AUrate is 25-30% off. Lots of beautiful, high quality gold pieces to choose from.


This dress would work well for New Year’s parties. A little glamorous, a little edgy. Everything at Aritzia is on sale up to 60% off, except for The Super Puff.


As cheesy as it sounds, the best gift is a book. When someone gives you a book, you know that they truly thought of you and brainstormed about which of the millions of available options would be best for you. Sadly, I haven’t been able to read anything “for fun” since starting law school, but The Dutch House is first on my list once winter break starts. It’s been hot on the book charts, and I would literally read a grocery list written by Ann Patchett. Everything is 15% off at Barnes & Noble (you guys, a B&N store still exists by my parents’ house!). Avid readers, especially, will say that they’ve never been unhappy when given a book. Unless that book was by Rupi Kaur.


I just replaced my Stan Smiths after two years of more wear and tear than anyone could’ve predicted. Bought the same exact style because they’re classic, yet trendy, and can be worn with literally anything. Attempting to keep them white for longer than one day by not wearing them to a rainy music festival immediately after taking them out of the box… I’m always partial to navy, but all of the colors are cool. They go well with an all-black outfit. Everything at Adidas is currently 30% off.


The first weekend of October was the first cold weekend in New York this season. All of my winter clothes were still at my parents’, who had hung onto them while I transitioned from DC to NYC. So I was without a coat and at Target, when my friend randomly picked up this jacket for me. I didn’t really care if I even liked it or not because I was cold. So I bought it, found out that it’s basically a cozy, loosely structured blanket, and am now extremely happy to own it. Also, I’ve since realized that roughly 35% of the women in this city also own it… I spot at least one person on the street wearing it almost every day. Not sure if this is related to Cyber Monday, but it’s currently on sale.


For New Yorkers, potential visitors, and friends in other major cities: There are currently a bunch of great deals on theater tickets via TodayTix. I just booked seats for Come From Away, which is one of my all-time favorite musicals. Saw it twice when the show previewed in DC and am jazzed about finally seeing its Broadway production. Having looked through the rest of the deals, you can’t go wrong!


Some of you will think this is too obvious to put on a gift guide, but I just bought a S’well Bottle a few weeks ago and was blown away. My entire life I’ve never been one to drink water if I wasn’t working out or really hot. I’d go days without drinking water, which might seem crazy, but I never felt affected by it so my body probably adjusted. I’ve run half marathons without taking a sip of water and felt totally fine. But now that I’m older, I’m making it a goal to stay hydrated, and this bottle is revolutionary in that regard. There are few things I dislike more than lukewarm water, so I actually get excited about taking a swig from this bottle. It keeps water cold much longer than Tervis and the dozens of other bottles I’ve owned. It’s also the perfect size for carrying around in my purse or backpack. I get that Hydro Flasks are having a moment, but those larger bottles just seem like dead weight. All S’well products are currently 25% off.


I recently replaced my Sonicare Diamondclean, which died after six wonderful years, and realized how much I had grown to depend on it. No other toothbrush compares in speed and quality. And if you are still brushing by hand… Why? Wouldn’t you love to just sit and brush your teeth for 15 minutes while watching TV until your teeth feel like you just left a dental cleaning? It’s as extravagant as a toothbrush can be, but currently on sale through Amazon’s Cyber Monday deals.


Buy four pints of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, get two free. Need I say more?


Even though it’s snowing at this moment, I’m still thinking about wearing Jack Rogers, my preferred shoe 75% of the year. At least now is the time to stock up, as the entire site is 30% off. I’m also seriously considering these Jacks slippers, which will come as a surprise to no one who knows me well.


None of these gifts compare to my absolute favorite product of the last seven years. I could go into detail for hours about my adoration for the AirPods Pro and why they beat out all other earbuds in the same price range. But Googling reviews will tell you the same thing. Unfortunately, they are not currently discounted anywhere and, in fact, appear to be completely sold out until January… So this is just a warning to be ready to jump on them as soon as they are available again! I can’t reiterate enough how transformative they are. I can no longer imagine life on Earth without them.

And finally, if you aren’t using Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) for all of your online shopping, get ready to kick yourself. It’s literally free cash for doing absolutely nothing. There’s no catch! Use my link to start yourself off with $25. Most of the sites mentioned are running major Rakuten deals on top of their own discounts!

Cyber Week 2018

In case you need some ideas for holiday gifts or things you don’t need but want to buy for yourself anyway during this glorious week of ultimate capitalism, made even more convenient by technology (our future is grim, people)… Here are some fun things I’ve purchased since Black Friday:

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Love the knot detail and unusual material of this Madewell crepe wrap top. The entire site is 25% off until midnight.

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This J.Crew ruffle-neck top would be festive for work or the theater. Over the past decade, J.Crew has practically monopolized plaid clothing, and I am here for it. Also got this tartan hair tie and stocked up on items for next summer. The entire site is 50% off (extra 60% off sale items) until midnight.


Really into the slightly retro look of this Abercrombie essential turtleneck. They’ve been killing it in the affordable sweater game for the past couple years. The entire site is currently 50% off.


These Jack Rogers Hamptons metallic sandals are 60% off, which is the lowest I’ve ever seen them. Whenever I leave the house, there is a 75% chance that I’m wearing Jacks. I’ve even been known to wear them while snow is on the ground. I recently had to throw out several pairs that were worn out, so I was thrilled to find these! Nordstrom’s sale ends tonight.


This Kate Spade long sleeve PJ set is similar to the one I snagged during their “surprise” sale (yes, they had a surprise sale at the same time as their Cyber Week sale…), which ended Friday night. Pajamas are a good investment for me because I pretty much live in them whenever I’m home for more than ten minutes. (I’ll likely buy more, as J.Crew also has cute pairs.) Kate Spade’s entire site is 30% off (40% off sale items) until tomorrow night. Great time to stock up on small gifts to give throughout the year.

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I’ve been looking for plain, solid gold (but inexpensive) earrings for everyday wear, and these AUrate gold ball studs fit the bill. I don’t yet own any jewelry from this store, but my sister highly recommended it for good quality, simple pieces.


Glossier’s only sale each year is on Black Friday through Cyber Monday, during which their entire site is 20% off. I generally like their makeup products, so thought I’d take this opportunity to try their skincare line, starting with the Phase 1 Set. This starter kit includes their Milky Jelly Cleanser, Priming Moisturizer, and Balm Dotcom. Mostly I’m just a slave to Glossier’s marketing.


The newest edition of the Amazon Echo Dot, which is aesthetically more pleasing than previous generations and reportedly boasts a louder, better-quality sound, is currently over 50% off.


I’ve never used anything like this Revlon one-step hair dryer and styler, but at 60% off on Amazon, it’s worth a try. Anything to cut down the time it takes to get ready in the morning, so I can get even more precious minutes of sleep without rolling into work with wet hair! The Amazon deal is over, but may return later today. Or you can purchase this from Ulta.


The infamous Catan, which I played for the first time on Thanksgiving and am so glad I did, was 40% off on Amazon, but that deal has ended. However, it is currently on sale at Walmart for about the same price, along with another popular board game, Ticket to Ride.

And finally, if you aren’t using Ebates for all of your online shopping, trust me–you are missing out. It’s literally free money for doing absolutely nothing. There’s no catch! Use my link to start yourself off with $10 in cash. Most of the sites mentioned above are currently running major Ebates deals!

Happy shopping (or practicing of more self control than I have), friends!

Notes from a Scream Queen


Have you seen The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix yet? It was a pretty good show, except my roommate has been annoyed by my sleeping in the living room with the lights on and The Office playing in the background for the past two weeks… I wouldn’t say I love scary movies, but I definitely consider getting “scared” a good form of entertainment. Watching scary movies is a group activity (at least for me, since I would never EVER watch one alone, are you kidding me?!) that really brings people together. Some of my fondest college memories are of October in my sorority house, where there would be a huge group of girls watching a scary movie in the living room every single night of the month. Our collective screams were so loud that the neighbors probably thought there was an actual murder happening inside. More recent memories include staying in and watching Sinister on a laptop with some fellow travelers, and of course, my annual pre-Halloween movie marathon. In all of these situations, I am definitely that person who screams when nothing has even happened, which in turn makes everyone else jump. My friends love going to the movie theater with me… Anyway, here are five scary movies that I would like to highlight this Halloween:


It Follows is an all-around brilliant movie in any genre. It leaves you thinking even after the end, and the more you think about it, the better it becomes. A supernatural, murderous entity, passed down from person to person via sex, follows its next victim, but it can only move at the speed of a walking human. The genius of this film is not only its portrayal of certain themes, but the way it maintains the most unsettling feeling the entire time. It’s impossible to tell which era the movie is set in. The characters watch shows on a TV from the 60’s, yet use electronic devices that don’t even exist. Very bizarre. Available to stream on Netflix.


Hereditary is the most traditionally scary and scream-inducing out of all of these. It’s similar to other haunting, demonic coven movies, but this one connects those horrors with the real life scares of inherited mental illness. Still extremely terrifying, though. I can’t remember ever seeing a scary movie with such an unexpected moment as the one that occurs in this film (if you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I’m talking about). There truly is something for everyone. Also need to mention that Toni Colette is amazing at everything she does. Not yet available on Netflix, as it just released this summer.


The Witch is a slow-burning candle of a film. A religious family in 17th-century New England settles into their new farm, after being banished from their former Puritan clan. Evil seems to lurk in the surrounding woods, but only becomes evident a little at a time, allowing paranoia and doubt to take hold of the family. Typical A24, there are a lot of shots of nature to build the suspense. Don’t remember screaming during this one, but I probably did at inappropriate times. Available to stream on Netflix.


Raw is a French film (with subtitles) and is not scary per se, but definitely creepy and at times disgusting. A vegetarian tries meat for the first time during her first week of vet school, and it all goes downhill from there. It’s a coming-of-age story with social commentary and a lot of blood. The full package! If this movie is based on true events in their schools, then the French have even more intense hazing rituals than the American fraternities you read about in the news. Did not scream at all during this. Available to stream on Netflix.


Creep is a fun one. A man posts an online ad with a request to be filmed at his house for a day, and guess what? He turns out to be a real creep! But I won’t spoil how, exactly. Do yourself a favor and watch. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scream (if you’re me). Available to stream on Netflix. And there is already a sequel that is supposed to be good.