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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Hunger Games

I just finished reading the Hunger Games trilogy last night. Let me start off with this: what a fantastically engrossing story. Wow. I definitely got sucked into that one. I had dreams about it the night after beginning the first book. I started my dad on them too and he quickly passed me up and read them all before me.

I had been told by several people that the third book wasn't very good. Some told me to not even bother reading it - ha ha, yeah right. Like I'm not going to finish a series that is that engrossing. I loved the first two. I liked the third. Yes, the third one built up and up and up and you thought there was going to be this huge finale, then there wasn't one. Not a dramatic, flashy one at least. I like the way it ended, for the most part. It pulled a bit of an Ender's Game ending on us, turning the tables until none of us knew which way was right anymore. I think that's exactly what the author wanted us to feel. It worked. It worked well. It left me wanting more, not in a disappointed way but more like I was wishing there was another book.

Everything in the love triangle ended the way it should - that's all I'm going to say about that. I loved the characters overall. They were each distinct and strong. Katniss was intriguing as a character and narrator.

I guess the biggest reason I liked the series was that it seems like something I would write. I love writing in 1st person, inhabiting a character's mind and exploring their world. The Hunger Games let me do that. I can only hope that something I write could be as successful as this series is.

I can't wait for the movies, though I'm curious how they are going to make them not R-rated. They can't give them that kind of a rating because their primary audience is teens and pre-teens. But I'm super excited to see the stories come to life. If done right, I can see the movies being even better than the books.

My brother Mike, the lawyer/businessman...and airplanes

This past weekend my mom and I flew out to Washington D.C. to watch my brother, Mike, graduate from American University! He got a JDMBA. Way to go Mikey! It was a blast to hang out with him, Alexis, and Ryder for a few days. Entirely too short, but wonderful.

We visited the Jefferson memorial, which I hadn't seen before. It's now one of my favorites. A very inspiring fellow. And we went paddleboating on the Potomic! We bought FBI t-shirts (something I've always wanted - it seems only right to get it in D.C.) and did a lot of playing with Ryder. We rolled down the makeshift slide in their living room, constructed using the inflatable mattress my mom was sleeping on. And we shot hoops too - Ryder at two and a half years old is already a better basketball player than I am, no joke. That kid's got skills.

This trip also included some of the most interesting airplane experiences I've ever had. On our flight from Denver to D.C. I sat next to a young man about my age. His name was Paul, and he had never met a Mormon before. I found it rather fun to explain my beliefs and way of life to him. He was a really neat guy - we talked the entire 4 hours of the flight! It was great. He's an inspiring entrepreneur, already running his own business and meeting with goverment officials. Wow. And super friendly. I definitely wouldn't mind being as driven and successful as he is. I'm pretty sure he's the first person I've ever really had to explain my Mormon-ism to as well, growing up in Utah and all where we're very common. I definitely enjoyed that experience.

On the way home was an infinitely less enjoyable experience. I've been known to get car sick, but it's been years since I've actually vomited. Well, the airplane was experiencing a lot of turbulence, and I was in the back of the plane. Four hours of being jiggled around like so much jello left my stomach less than happy with me. As we went in to land I started sweating and getting dizzy. I thought to myself, I should get one of those barf bags just in case. As luck would have it, no one on my row had one. That's when I passed out. The next thing I remember I was doubled over in my seat feeling significantly better. Then I heard my mom freaking out from her seat on a different row: "Jenny! Jenny! Are you okay?" And I saw the small yet very disgusting pile of vomit that made it's way onto my copy of Mockingjay, my pants, a bit of my shoe, and my backpack on the floor. Welp, there's a first time for everything. I can check "vomiting on a plane" off the list things I've never done before and will, hopefully, never do again. In Denver I loaded up on Dramamine and then spent the next flight, the drive home, and the next 12 hours in and out of consciousness. I still got slightly hot and dizzy when the second plane landed too. Sheesh. Oh well. The weekend was entirely worth it.


Well, I heard from BYU about the Theatre and Media Arts Masters program, and....

I didn't get in.

I kinda had a feeling I wouldn't, deep down inside, simply because I didn't quite fit the requirements for one of the tracks and my interest didn't quite fit the other track. Oh well. It's good, in the end. I was a little bummed, but now I am starting to see all the great things I can do in the next year while I apply to other programs. I just need a job. Honestly, one of the biggest reasons I was bummed about not getting in was that I would have to give up my job at Independent Study. I loved that job. We had a going away party last week for all of use who are graduating and leaving - it was sad...I miss them already.

So now I come to work with my mom every day, working on a video project for incoming freshman and helping my mom with CRT testing. I'm being paid for these jobs, probably not as much as I should be. But it's actually very fun - I love the high school atmosphere. The Student Body Officers for next year are a great group of kids. I could definitely see myself working in a place like this down the road.

I just don't like not knowing where I'm going. I will, soon enough, but not immediately. And patience is a virtue I have always struggled keeping a firm grasp on. God's just giving more of a chance to develop that virtue, right? Right. I'm am open for suggestions on what i should do for the next year, so please feel free.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Summer Begins

And now the famous question: what now? What will Jennifer Anne Hardy do next? Well, I began my summer with a well-deserved awesome California road trip with fellow graduates Stephanie Abraham, Cori Hoffman, Megan Knell, and Katelyn Dot Scott - my forever roommates. And I fully documented it! It will soon be video that I will add to this post. It was EPIC fun.

And here's a list of the things I have done since:

I bid farewell to my Independent Study co-workers, hopefully only temporarily. I got booted because I graduated, and since I have not officially been accepted into the BYU grad program I can't continue working there. Sadness. I miss those silly, wonderful people.

I have been spending most of my daytime hours at my high school, Highland High, in Salt Lake. Every year since I graduated from there I have made a video introducing the school to freshman. Last week I started working on the video for this year, and I have been helping my mom (who works at Highland) with CRT testing (which she is in charge of).

I gave in and finally bought The Sims 3. Yup. I started this addiction way back when I was like 10 or 11 or something and I have successfully bought the first Sims and all its expansions, The Sims 2 and all it's expansions, and now The Sims 3. Don't worry, I only bought it with the personal determination of not becoming a social hermit. Real people are still more important to me than simulated people, though I do find myself becoming rather attached to my Sim girl who wants to be an International Super Spy and has since childhood, and the mother who paints and writes on the side, and the child music prodigy. Fun stuff!

Speaking of video games, I'm also working on beating Chrono Trigger on my DS. I love this game so much, it's not even funny. I could play it over and over (and I have). I could beat it now, but I'm determined to do all the side quests too. NERD ALERT.

I have also delved deeper into the world of Bollywood. Oh, how I love it! I have literally considered moving to India to make/study films, not just a glancing thought but an actual search for schools and jobs. Yes, it's mostly just a fun idea. But lately I've decided that if I'm going to study film history I'm going to be the world's foremost expert on the musical subgenre, meaning I need to get to know Bollywood even better. So hey, I'm working on my career when I watch them! So far my favorites include Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Om Shanti Om, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham, Kal ho Naa Ho, Jab We Met, Dil Bole Hadippa, My Name is Khan, and Chak De! India. I've started by watching Shahrukh Khan and am slowly working my way through his filmography. After him, I'll probably move on to Kajol. She's my favorite Indian actress. Then Rani Mukherji. Then Kareena Kapoor. I've already dabbled a bit in Shahid Kapoor. Hrithik Roshan will find his way in there too. There's just too much to discover! Every summer I find a movie or film movement to latch onto - last summer it was the 80s and Crossing Delancey. This summer? BOLLYWOOD!

Speaking of movies, the summer movie season has begun! Yay! My dad and I saw Thor, which I thoroughly enjoyed - just a good summer action hero movie. I love superheroes. I'm so glad Marvel is making all the Avenger movies. I love watching them intertwine and cross into each others stories. The Marvel Universe rocks.

Speaking of the Marvel Universe, I gave blood for the first time last week! I had my Marvel bag with me and everyone liked it. It wasn't a scary experience at all. And apparently I have really fast blood - I filled the bag in record time! It was definitely a good experience and I will go back as soon as I can.

Speaking of superheroes, I have been watching the new season of Doctor Who as well! I love that show more than I can say. The new season started off with a literal bang, and I am eager to see how it all turns out. Such an intriguing show. I LOVE IT.

I have also read the first two books of the Hunger Games series and am working my way through the third. I will save my review of the books until I have finished, and then I will discuss my thoughts. They are extremely addicting - I really do like them so far, but I have heard the third one isn't up to par or something, so we'll see. I love reading books for fun! NO TEXTBOOKS! Next on my list of books to read is Tale of Two Cities.

I haven't been able to play with my friends as much as I would have liked - they all live about 30-40 minutes away from me, so hanging out is a bit more of a challenge than it used to be. But, we have had a Bollywood party and birthday celebrations and other such fun things. Hopefully, there will be many more fun things with friends in the near and distant future. Katelyn and I plan on going to each other's Young Single Adult activities. Oh, and Lucky Mather gets home from his mission in the next few weeks - YAYAYAY! I'm excited to see him.

Pretty fun summer so far, huh? :)

Monday, May 2, 2011


Welp, I finally did it—I got a B!!!! Yeehaw! (I’m trying to be excited about it, though I am truly kind of bummed). Econ 110 at BYU? A joke. Really, an introductory course should never be that difficult. It wasn’t even that material that was hard. It was the tests. Our teacher and TAs never prepared us adequately. But, the good news is that it’s OVER! It’s done, it’s finished—the end, finito! And that’s the best part. And I'm going to have a mediocrity party where we celebrate our shortcomings. Because we came here to earth to learn and to live and to break our hearts - to feel and to experience everything we can.

So there it is, folks—Jennifer Anne Hardy is, in fact, human.


Why don’t they call any of the actual ceremonies ‘graduation’? I mean, there’s commencement, then convocation, but no straight-forward graduation. It’s probably an ancient tradition like those robes and hats we wear for reasons unknown to most of the graduating population. Commencement was nice. It was long, and the speakers, excluding Elder Scott, were rather dry, but it was fun. Sitting there next to some of my best friends from the past 4 years in my cap and gown, the tassel swinging in my face, was very fulfilling.
By that point I had just dropped off my research paper—the last homework of my undergraduate career. I sat there, homework free and sleep deprived, and just smiled. Convocation was even better. More of my friends from the film program were walking than I knew, and my speech went really well. In fact, I loved giving my speech. It wasn’t boring or super serious, but it was meaningful and I put a bit of me in it. In fact, I think I’ll just post it here:

The Frog is Stayin’

I am honored to be speaking to you this morning. My name is Jenny Hardy, and I am graduating in Media Arts Studies. I would like you to think back to when you submitted your application to BYU. Why did you do it? Why did you want to go to college in the first place? Why did you pick this school over all the others to apply to and attend? Maybe BYU blue runs through the veins of your family, like it does in mine. Maybe you’ve never wanted to go anywhere else. Maybe you came for the unique spiritual atmosphere, to gain an education that is both spiritually strengthening and intellectually enlarging. Or maybe it just felt right for you to be here.
Now I want you to think back to when you applied for your major—why did you do it? Why did you choose to be a dancer, a filmmaker, a singer, a songwriter, an actor? You could have done anything—why this?
I had many reasons for coming to BYU. It was far enough from my home in Salt Lake to be “away” without actually being away. My three older brothers graduated from BYU. I loved the idea of taking religion classes. And, there was no way I was ever going to the University of Utah.
I chose to study film because as a small child I became thoroughly smitten with movies and their power to express ideas. I was the kind of kid who had Fred Astaire for an imaginary friend. I watched movies, I made movies, I devoured movies. The film bug had bitten me and I had mighty dreams. I wanted to change the world. I wanted to help people feel joy and excitement. I wanted to change the way people look at movies, to help them see that they are more than flickering images or entertainment alone. Movies are lives that we are allowed to step into, experience, and then leave feeling better off than we were before. So, I packed my bags and with my cheap camcorder in hand I set off to make my mark.
But as I started working my way through, semester after semester, I found it wasn’t all giggles and roses. It was hard work. I found my motives questioned from every possible angle and I did not have the same confidence that I had when I was 10 years old and writing the next Academy Award winning screenplay. I inadvertently put that 10-year-old in a box somewhere, out of sight and earshot, and struggled through.
A great philosopher once found himself in the same situation. His name was Kermit the Frog. In The Muppets Take Manhattan, Kermit and his friends move to New York City to make it big on Broadway, but things don’t go as planned. Every door is slammed in their faces, and, one by one, Kermit’s friends leave. They forget the dream. And now I would like you to watch Kermit’s reaction to his troubling circumstances. (Then I showed a movie clip where Kermit says the following:

"Look at all those people out there. Lots of people. But my friends... my friends are all gone. Well, I'm gonna get 'em back. I'm gonna get 'em back! 'Cause the show's not dead as long as I believe in it. And I'm gonna sell that show. And we're all gonna be on Broadway. You hear me, New York? We're gonna be on Broadway! Because, because I'm not giving up! I'm still here and I'm stayin'! You hear that, New York? I'm stayin' here. The frog is stayin'!"

“The frog is stayin’.” This poster from the Foundation for a Better Life hangs on my wall. Is it silly to be inspired by a frog? I don’t think so. I mean, look at him!
After all the challenges BYU brought me, I rediscovered myself. I found that, in addition to actual filmmaking, I loved mostly discussing film, writing about film, and learning how film works and what it teaches us about life and ourselves as people. I am now going on to graduate school to continue my study of film, and that 10-year-old self I put in the box all those years ago—the one with the dreams of being a screenwriter and changing the world—is coming with me.
And now, more inspiring words from Kermit: “Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices? I've heard them calling my name. Is this the sweet sound that calls to young sailors? The voice might be one and the same. I've heard it too many times to ignore it. It's something that I'm supposed to be. Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection. The lovers, the dreamers, and me.”
I look at Kermit and I see us, each of us with many things we want to achieve in our lives. We entered BYU to learn, but I would like to suggest that what we came here to learn was not limited to our specific major, our chosen emphasis, or our eventual career, but something much more universal and eternal. We came here to learn how to keep going when it gets rough and to trust in God that it will all work out. Sometimes, all we can do is look back to the beginning of whatever road we are on and hold on to why we took that road in the first place.
Life after graduation holds new and bigger challenges, as I’m sure you and your parents, friends, and family here today already know. We can give up and shrink away, or we can be the frog that stays.

It was really fun, and I received a lot of compliments about it. My film friends seemed to really like it. Afterwards I got to hang out with my family—so many people came: my grandparents, aunt Jorji, cousins, parents, and brother Scott and his family. Props go out especially to Scott and family for dragging their children out of bed at the crack of dawn to come to my ill-timed 8:00am convocation. Yikes. I had hard time getting there that early. I can’t imagine bringing 3 small children along too. And Mr. Stephen Anderson also gets massive props - besides my parents, he was the only person to make it to both my commencement and convocation. Yay Steve!

After all the convocating and commencing was done we went to the Spaghetti Factory, my favorite, and had a grand old time. I felt supremely celebrated and loved—thank you to all who have supported me throughout the years and held me up when it’s been hard.

I made it!