this is a post about simone biles

I’m sure anyone who has been paying any attention to the Olympics knows this story by now. Celebrated gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from the team competition just as it began, and has since withdrawn from the all around individual competition as well. At first it was assumed to be an injury, but Simone and her team later confirmed it was for mental health reasons. She explained that while attempting to perform her vault, she got “lost in the air” while flipping, and didn’t trust herself to go forward after that. She thought it was best for her team and for herself to withdraw.

I considered this a very logicial decision, and a brave one. The Olympics only happen every four years, and with the limited time span of a gymnast’s career, it could possibly be Simone’s last. She put that aside because she was worried about her safety and because she didn’t want to fail her team, and in doing so, she serves as an example to other gymnasts and athletes who are often told to push through even when it could be dangerous for you. She’s a fantastic gymnast, and I’m sure she will continue to have an amazing career. I think she made the right decision.

Some people really didn’t agree. And it’s been making me FURIOUS.

There are hundreds and thousands of appalling comments on social media–most of them, frankly, from people who probably couldn’t even do a cartwheel. While fortunately the vast majority of people and ALL other gymnasts have been supportive of Simone, the nature of social media means the nasty comments feel inescapable.

“She’s a QUITTER”–this sounds like an insult a child would use. There’s nothing wrong or shameful about stepping down from something that isn’t right for you. And there certainly is nothing wrong or shameful from stepping down when you know there’s risks involved. I’m not even remotely close to Simone’s level tumbling wise, but I have experienced the feeling of losing yourself “in the air” or in space while performing a trick or dance move. It’s disorienting, it’s terrifying, and it’s dangerous. Gymnastics is a dangerous sport, and the amount of both physical and mental strength and focus required to perform on the level that Simone and the other Olympic gymnasts do is IMMENSE. She could have seriously injured herself on the vault she did do, and could face even more risk performing something like her floor routine.

“She let down her team/her country!”–every single member of Simone’s team supported her publicly, because as gymnasts, they understand what she is going through. The team went on to get silver, which is PHENOMENAL at an Olympic level. To see anyone act like it isn’t is just ridiculous. Most people couldn’t even compete at the Olympic level in any activity, never mind be talented enough to get a place on the podium. Beyond that, no one owes random American fans watching the Olympics anything, frankly.

“This generation is weak! As an Olympian you should be able to handle the pressure!”–There is no shame in suffering from mental health issues. There is no shame in struggling. This is not weakness. It is not weak to admit when you need help. Elite athletes are under a lot of pressure when competing as is, I can’t imagine what it feels like to compete as an Olympian. I hope there are psychologists on call. People saying things like this cite stories like that of Kerri Strug, an Olympic gymnast who vaulted on a broken ankle at the 1996 Olympics, as an inspiration, as an example of how you shouldn’t give up. When the truth of the matter is, it’s horrific that she was made to do that vault on a broken foot. Her coach failed her. The judges failed her. It should have never happened.

“Gymnastics isn’t even a real sport/I could have gotten gold easily!”–So do it. Go on. Show me your Olympic level gymnastics skills, random commenter on the Internet! Can you even do a back roll? I couldn’t help but notice that most of the people making comments like this have been men. These are men who have no respect for gymnastics because they associate it with women and femininity, because it is often considered a female-dominated sport. They immediately dismiss anything women excel in as inferior. They are also probably the kind of guys who say things like “women’s soccer doesn’t get as much funding because they just aren’t as good as men.”

There have also, of course, been some racist comments so disgusting I can’t even repeat them here. Obviously unacceptable.

I have the utmost respect for Simone Biles. I have the utmost respect for her whole artistic gymnastics team, and for every single Olympian out in Tokyo right now. She should not be shamed for making a decision that prioritized her health and safety, and it shouldn’t take having experienced being “lost in the air” to understand that.

Movies I watched in 2021 (Part 4)

At it again! Here is the last part if you missed it.

The Woman In The Window: This Netflix film is based on a novel of the same name, which I have not read. It stars Amy Adams as an agoraphobic woman who spends her time spying on her new neighbours until she witnesses a crime in their apartment. Things start getting strange when denials from the police and her neighbours cause her to question not only what she saw but her reality and her sanity. This movie got some mixed reviews, but I like a mystery and there’s a lot of great actors in the cast (Amy Adams, Wyatt Russell, Anthony Mackie, Gary Oldman) so I gave it a shot. And it was fine! I guessed at least one of the twists, but I don’t think that makes it a bad movie. I wouldn’t rush to watch it again, but I watched the whole thing and the performances were very good. It wasn’t a stand-out of this genre, but a fine watch if bored and it’s a genre you’re already into.

Raya and The Last Dragon: I love a good Disney movie, and would have watched this one sooner if theatres were open here. Alas, it was $30 extra on Disney Plus, and I didn’t feel like paying that, so I had to wait until it was available for free on the platform. I’m really glad I watched! The story follows Raya, a warrior princess who sets out to seek the legendary last dragon, hoping to restore the kingdom. I thought this movie was a TON of fun. I loved the main character, Raya. She was tough and stubborn and made mistakes, but she was also a cool and confident princess who wanted to do the best for her kingdom. I also deeply appreciated that they didn’t throw in an unnecessary love interest for her, she had enough going on. The animation in this movie was BEAUTIFUL. I especially loved the designs of the dragons (and that there were dragons in general! I just really love dragons) but in general it was absolutely beautiful to look at. I could see kids being obsessed with this movie, but even as an adult, I really enjoyed watching it.

In The Heights: You know what else I love? A MUSICAL. I’d been looking forward to this movie since it was first announced. I’d never seen this show onstage, sadly, but had heard some of the songs and knew it would be a good time. The movie tells the story of a pre-dominantly latino neighbourhood of Washington Heights in New York City, following a few days around a blackout. Among many others it stars Anthony Ramos, who I knew from his role as John Laurens in Hamilton (which is written by Lin Manuel Miranda, who also wrote In The Heights). Reader, I loved it. I love a movie musical that isn’t afraid to be a musical, that isn’t afraid of spectacle and tricks with camera work and perspective and scene changes and elaborate dance numbers. I loved the music–every single person on the cast is EXCEEDINGLY talented and deserves all the applause, and the energy in the music is so much fun to watch in general. One number brought me to tears. Other numbers had me laughing. If you love musicals, or dance numbers, watch In The Heights.

Luca: We are back to Disney, this time with the latest Disney/Pixar release! For some reason the Pixar releases aren’t being released with the extra price on Disney Plus, which both annoys me on behalf of the creative teams, and pleases me because it means I can watch them the day they are released. Luca is set on the Italian riviera–already a win for me, who comes from an Italian background–and follows a young fish person? humanoid aquatic creature? who longs to explore on the surface. He discovers that he turns into a human when on land, and so befriends Alberto, another sea creature living as a human on land. The two of them run off to the nearby human town, where they meet a young human girl named Giulia, and team up with her to race to try and win a vespa. This movie is adorable and funny and joyous and heartwarming. It just made me feel good inside when I watched it. I loved the setting (there’s some extra comedy if you understand Italian), I thought all of the characters felt well fleshed-out and fully rendered, I enjoyed the message of the story, and the friendships between the characters. Again, the animation was beautiful, in a much different way than Raya and The Last Dragon‘s animation was beautiful. I would definitely watch it again and recommend it.

Crimson Peak: And now for something completely different. This movie was released in 2015, and I’ve meant to watch it for a while. I love the work of the director, Guillermo Del Toro, and I love a period piece. What was deterring me, for years, was that it’s a creepy ghost story. I’m not inherently against ghost stories, but I can get really freaked out sometimes. I ended up having a work-related excuse to watch it, and so powered through while in my bed alone–with my phone to block the view when necessary. The movie follows a young woman named Edith (Mia Wasikowska), an aspiring writer and heiress in 1901 who falls in love with an English Baronet, Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). When she moves to his dilapidated mansion in England with him and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain, who I did not recognize right away), she soon discovers that the siblings, and the house itself, hold dark secrets. The movie also stars Charlie Hunnam, which I mention because I love him. This movie was very good. That may sound strange to say considering I had to watch through my fingers at certain parts, but I don’t think that ultimately took away from the quality of the movie for me. It’s less of a ghost story, and more of a story where there are ghosts (both literal and figurative). The performances were all excellent, and the costumes and aesthetic were AMAZING. I would never expect less from this director, who puts so much thought and detail into each and every one of his films. Frankly I think the trailer is kind of misleading, and I think it’s less of a horror and more of a classic gothic tale. If those appeal to you, I’d give it a watch.

Theatres open here in a limited capacity on July 16th, and I am bursting at the seams to get into one (wearing a mask and being safe). Hopefully next time I write one of these, I will have seen Black Widow in theatres.

Doing a Quiz, Part 3

I can never resist answering questions in quiz form apparently, so here is Part 3 of my friend Paul’s “Captains Quiz.” Here is a link to Part 2, which has a link to Part 1!

I haven’t won yet, but it’s the journey that’s important isn’t it?

THE 10 QUESTIONS

1. You and a stranger are stuck in an elevator for three hours. After how many minutes would you tell them your name?

Approximately ten minutes after it’s confirmed we are stuck in an elevator together, once we know it’s going to be a while. Might as well know the name of the person you’re stuck with.

2. You’re the first person to enter the movie theatre. Which seat do you choose and why?

In a row a few rows above the middle of the room, in a seat in the dead centre of the row if possible.

3. If you were to navigate a giant maze with one celebrity, who would it be and why do you think you’d work well together?

I’m going to say Jason Momoa because he seems nice and also he is large so if there was an emergency I know he could carry to me to safety.

4. Eggs can be cooked in many different ways. Pick one and build a meal around it. What is included in that meal?

Scrambling eggs and putting them in rice along with mushrooms, peas, baby corn, and some chicken, with teriyaki sauce on top!

5. Select the task you’d be able to complete the fastest and explain why:
A) Blow up (with your mouth) and tie 3 balloons
or
B) Pop 150 balloons with a thumbtack

Absolutely B. I have never, in my life, successfully blown up a balloon.

6. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is a talk show hosted by Jerry Seinfeld. Using the same format for the title (Ex. Poodles on Patios Getting Crumbs), what would be the name of your talk show?

Dancers on Decks Getting Deep.

7. Arthur is an animated educational television series for children. What are 5 television shows you watched as a child?

Magic School Bus, Bill Nye The Science Guy, Popular Mechanics for Kids, Incredible Story Studios, Country Mouse and City Mouse.

8. Pillows provide support and help keep our upper body aligned during sleep. What is the strangest place you’ve ever fallen asleep? Tell the story, if there is one.

Honestly the weirdest place is probably just a plane, which isn’t even that weird. I find it really difficult to fall asleep anywhere that isn’t a bed, I often even struggle on couches. I remember flying overnight to England (as a grown adult) with my parents to visit my brother and falling asleep with my head on my dad’s shoulder and my legs on my mom’s lap. They were displeased.

9. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” is a song by the band, Tears for Fears. If you could be in charge of anything, what would it be?

I was going to say the internet, but that seems like too much responsibility. Maybe just specifically what job I get and when.

10. Your closet is a portal to a new “location” (think: wardrobe to Narnia), where does it lead to? What do you see?

I think it would be fun to visit a magical fairytale fantasy land of some sort, as long as I could get back. I don’t have a specific one in mind (not Narnia, the time differential is too complicated) but maybe with fairies. And dragons from a safe distance.

BONUS QUESTION

1. Please enter the correct 6-digit passcode to successfully escape this quiz.

372273

Guess who’s double vaxxed

My original appointment date for my second vaccine was August 31. I was disappointed in how far away it was, but it was still closer than that of many other people I knew, so it was fine.

Luckily, my area recently allowed people to accelerate second vaccine appointments, and I was able to rebook my appointment for July 1. That’s a full two months earlier! It was the same location as the first vaccine, so I knew what to expect and was all set.

On the afternoon of July 1, I put on a cute top and my favourite pants–because I haven’t had a lot of opportunities to wear nice clothes in the past year–and was driven to the centre to get my second vaccine shot. It was very efficient. I felt like I flew threw the line. My first shot was Pfizer but the second was Moderna, and they asked me at every checkpoint if I was okay with this. I said I was. I had a nice chat with the nurse who did my shot while I got it done, waited the mandatory 15 minutes, got my sticker and receipt, posted some excited pictures to instagram, and headed home fully vaccinated.

My arm was pretty sore already, but I was mostly fine. I had no side effects after the first shot other than a day of a sore arm, so I didn’t anticipate any this time around. I thought I would just have to sleep on my right side for a night and otherwise it would be fine.

This was not the case.

About 2 am, my arm was so sore that I couldn’t sleep. I took some tylenol, brought up a bottle of water, and went back to bed. When I woke up properly several hours later, I had a massive headache and was shivering. It wasn’t a particularly chilly day, and I was under my duvet, but I was shivering. I went downstairs and had some water and some milk, already feeling a bit nauseous. I was still shivering, so I put on warmer clothes, dragged another blanket onto my bed, and then did the obvious: I texted my mom. She told me to check if I had a fever and to take another Tylenol and try and sleep. My temperature was 38.1, which is basically on the cusp of what’s considered a fever, so I decided to indeed take the tylenol.

Two minutes after I swallowed it, I was running to the bathroom where I threw up twice. Never a fun experience. Brushed my teeth, decided I was not going to risk trying to swallow another pill, and proceeded to bury myself under my blankets in the dark and try to nap.

After a while I dragged myself downstairs to continue drinking water and I managed to keep down a piece of bread, although still nauseous. I wrapped myself up in blankets on the couch and decided to watch some TV, needing a change of scenery from my bedroom. I watched one episode of the Netflix show Sweet Tooth, which I’m watching right now. I decided I needed something that required less focus once that was finished, so I watched two episodes of Bones on TV, a series that I’ve already seen in its entirety. For some reason I find watching a show about murder and forensic anthropology very relaxing.

The rest of the day was taken up by finally taking a tylenol, watching some youtube, napping further, and managing to keep down two oatmeal cookies. By the end of the day I still wasn’t feeling great, but it was an improvement compared to that morning. I had more energy, was no longer feverish, and could get to sleep soundly.

I felt much better this morning, although I still had a headache upon waking up. I suspect that was mostly to do with me not having eaten much yesterday (my body: “we need food to run!!” me: “well I gave some to you and you THREW IT OUT”). I had a small lunch and felt fine. I’m not shivering or feverish anymore, and my body feels a lot less sore overall.

Yes, I got the vaccine and felt sick and miserable the day afterwards. But it was ONE DAY of feeling sick and miserable. That’s nothing compared to what I could experience if I got COVID-19, or what a member of my family could experience if I got COVID-19. Getting vaccinated is important, it’s necessary, and it is absolutely worth a day of being sick in bed.

I don’t have any set plans for when the two weeks are up and I am considered fully vaccinated. My hair is ridiculously long right now, so I’ll be scheduling a trim. I’ll be waiting anxiously until movie theatres open here–I cannot express how excited I will be to watch a movie in theatres again. I want to see my friends, I’m already plotting out plans with one of them. I also desperately want to travel, but I’m not sure where and I’m not sure when I will feel 100% comfortable doing so. All I know is this feels like a step forward, and I’m so happy we are finally, slowly, getting there.