The life and words of Ashley, Erin, and Michelle

Lights, Camera, Action … February 1, 2010

Filed under: Life in General — Erin Joy @ 10:30 am
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There’s a movie that comes out tomorrow night, and I’m super excited. I’m more excited about this than I was about Avatar. (Oh, wait, I wasn’t excited about that.) Most of you probably won’t see it at your theaters because it’s a movie that didn’t have a big budget (but there were Disney stars!), and it was filmed in Grand Rapids. And that brings me to why I find it so exciting.

This summer, I had the opportunity to be on set for the filming of a few scenes of the movie, The Genesis Code. I had originally signed up to be an extra on a Wednesday, but when I got there on timethey had already started because enough walk-ins had shown up. So, I sat around for the next six hours, watching them film and talking to different people on set. It was an incredible experience, even if I didn’t have my two and a half seconds of fame built on that night.

Having not been in the movie at all so far, the extras casting crew signed me up to be an extra on the following Saturday night before they were offering it to anyone else on set. I arrived at the shoot a half an hour before they told me (because I wasn’t about to miss out and just sit around all night again), and I was the first person to arrive. Even crew wasn’t there yet. Oops. I guess the time that they told me was actually 45 minutes early for the time I needed to be there. Ah well.

Once we were all there and signed in, they moved us over to the other side of Calvin’s campus, where we waited in a classroom for a while. It was interesting talking to those around me for a while. I think that was the best part about being an extra for the movie, meeting such a variety of people. There were a lot of people from the area there, just like I was, to be an extra, but some of the more intriguing people were the ones who were there from out of state. I mean, come on, western Michigan doesn’t really produce the best variety of people to bump into. Most are of a typical Dutch background with some sort of religious beliefs. Those hailing from elsewhere came with a broader perspective on life, and that intrigued me.

Anyways, we spent much of the night walking up and down stairs or back and forth across a hallway, silently “speaking” with other extras in (obviously) the background. Up until that moment, I never thought much of the people wandering as extras in these shows. Now I see them in everything. It’s kind of fun, to be honest.

Due to my clumsy nature, I might have accidentally tripped across the background or up or down the steps a time or two, so if you go see it, make sure you watch for that. I don’t know when I’ll be seeing it, but I definitely know that my striped hat showed up in the trailor. Maybe I’ll have to look later for my green bag. (My coat’s as non-descript as you can get, being black and wool.)

Until then, here’s the web trailer I was talking about:


2009 Books In Review January 5, 2010

Last year, in my own personal blog, I wrote lists of three of this and three of that about 2008. I’ve decided against that this year.

One thing I have continued from 2008 through 2009 was my goal to read 10,000 pages in completed books (excluding children’s books, which have been too numerous to count) within one year.

Inspired by the similar goals of my friend Rachael Clanton, I started at January 1, 2008, and on December 31, 2009, I had reached about 9, 500 pages. I had missed it by one book. How disappointing.

So, I have decided to renew the goal. This isn’t a New Year’s “resolution”, just a goal to accomplish by next New Year’s.

This year, I was not nearly as successful, but I have enjoyed the books I read. One way to motivate myself has been to always read a book before seeing a movie based on it. As a result, I’m sure you’ll recognize a lot of the books I’ve read this year as major movies that have been released.

Another way I’ve managed to motivate myself to read new books is by following along with the Schindlers’ book club. While I might not drive all the way to Chicago every month to attend, I’ve attempted to read many of the books. (That was probably a good thing, as it took me two months to read October’s book.)

As 2009 came to a close, I must admit: I only read about 2/3 of my goal this year, 6,179 pages. I’ve read many more incomplete books and magazines, but I only included completed books.

Considering I haven’t yet met my goal, I am going to try again this year. Perhaps I’ll manage 10,000 in 2010? Who knows? I’ve already completed my first book.

Maybe this next year I should require that they are all in large print so that I can multiply pages faster. Hmmm.

I’ve also recently discovered the BBC book club. (My dear friend Katie sent me a link letting me know that John Irving would be on and discussing my favorite of his books, A Prayer for Owen Meany.) I might try to follow along with that book club as well, but that might be a bigger stretch.

Please suggest any for this following year if you know of any I might like in particular. Thanks to anyone who may have suggested one I’ve read this year.

Here is the list of the books I completed in 2009:

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist
  • He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo
  • New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
  • The Man Who Was Thursday by G.K. Chesterton
  • Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer
  • Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer
  • A Little Bit Wicked by Kristin Chenoweth
  • Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  • Blind Dates Can Be Murder by Mindy Starns Clark
  • Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Crazy Love by Francis Chan
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
  • The World as I Remember It: Through the Eyes of a Ragamuffin by Rich Mullins

My list from 2008:

  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  • Crooked Little Heart by Anne Lamott
  • The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  • The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
  • The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
  • Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Baudolini by Umberto Eco
  • Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (twice)
  • Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Pirsoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  • The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
  • REVEAL by the WCA
  • The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Wizard of Oz 70th October 12, 2009

Filed under: Life in General — ashleybarrett @ 8:01 am
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While strolling through the local Barnes and Noble, I passed a sign announcing 2009 marked the 70th anniversary of the release of MGM’s, The Wizard of Oz.

Like millions of other people, I loved, and still love, The Wizard of Oz. I watched it hundreds of time as a child, and it still cheers me up as an adult.

As a child, however, I missed the whole point of the movie. You know, the bit about Dorothy trying to go home. From the first time I watched Dorothy step out of the amber and sepia farmhouse into the Technicolor world of Oz, I knew I wanted to go there too. But unlike Dorothy, I would never look back.

I’m not sure why I chose the particular day I did. My cousin Tony had come over to play and I remember Dad was going to important man-work in the basement. I was not allowed to play outside. “I don’t even want to hear the door open,” he said.

But for whatever reason, I choose that day to leave for Oz. I put on the Dorothy costume my mother had made for me that previous Halloween, carefully divided my hair into pig-tails and packed a suitcase with crayons, coloring books (something to do while waiting for the tornado) and clean underwear. I tried to drag along my basset hound, Cleo. At eighty pounds, I knew she was too big to fit in my suitcase, but she would have to do.

“Come on, Toto!” I tugged on her collar. She licked my hand and resumed dozing.

Could I get to Oz without a dog? I couldn’t back out now. I stood at the door and looked at Tony. He waved sadly.

“You could come too, I think.”

“I don’t like the flying monkeys.”

At that, we bid farewell. I opened the screen door, picturing my grand entrance into Munchkinland. Until I heard my father stomp up the basement stairs.

I ran out the door as fast as my little legs could carry me.

I always picture this part of the story from the neighbor’s perspective.  On this beautiful, sunny day a chubby, five-year-old Dorothy bursts out from the house next door, her little ruby slippers pounding the pavement for all they’re worth. Before the screen door even shuts behind her, a large, disgruntled man charges outside chasing little Dorothy. He doesn’t even need monkey wings.  In about five seconds he catches her, spanks her and carries under his arm, kicking and yelling, into the house.

I doubt I made it out of the front yard. Worse, my parents forbid me from watching The Wizard of Oz for a year.

Despite my overzealousness, Oz touched a special place in my heart. I think it awakened in me what C.S. Lewis called sehnsucht, the inconsolable longing. A longing I thought could be filled somewhere over the rainbow.

Now I know better. Even Oz, though beautiful and mysterious wasn’t as wonderful as it first seemed. In the book, the Emerald City wasn’t well, emerald. They just made everyone wear green tinted glasses. And in the movie who could forget that famous fake wizard, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

My heart didn’t ache for a talking scarecrow or Munchkinland. It longed to stand in the presence of Jesus. The beauty of his kingdom surpasses even the most active imagination. And someday, I will get there; the inconsolable longing will be satisfied. I’ll look deep into face and will finally get, “There’s no place like home.”

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.

Philippians 1:21-23 (NLT)



Part of Your World [Get a Job Remix] September 28, 2009

Filed under: Life in General,Writing — Erin Joy @ 12:42 pm
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A few weeks ago, I watched The Little Mermaid for the first time all the way through in English. The only other time I’d seen it was in high school French class. I was one of the few girls growing up who didn’t dream of being Ariel or repeatedly watch the scene where she sang with all her gadgets and gizmos in the cave. That’s okay though. I’ve decided to make up for lost time by writing a parody of the song with respect to my current situation.

And just a clarification before you start reading, I don’t hate spending time with all kids. It just gets tiring when you seem to only spend your time babysitting kids, especially when you would rather spend time at a job doing something else. Even still, I’m thankful every day for what income I do have.

“Part of Your World” [Get a Job Remix]

[spoken] Maybe he’s right. Maybe there is something the matter with me. I just don’t see how a world that employs so many people could find me so bad.

Look at this stuff,
Isn’t it neat?
Wouldn’t you think my life’s complete?
Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl,
The girl who has everything?
I’ve got a home,
Friends all around.
How many blessings can one person have?
Looking around here you think:
Sure, she’s got everything.
I’ve got bubbles and puzzles a-plenty.
I sit babies and toddlers galore.
You want Handy Manny shows?
I know twenty!
But who cares?
No big deal,
I want more!

I wanna be where the people are
I wanna be, wanna be with them workin’
Walking around at those – what do you call ’em?
Oh – jobs!

Watchin’ the kids, you don’t get too far.
Ideas are required for writing, working
Scrolling along down a – what’s that word again?

Out where they write, out where they have fun
Out where their sitting days are all done
Imagine me free – wish I could be
Part of that world!

Know what I’d give if I could live out of these pressures?
Know what I’d pay to see loans come to an end?
Bet’cha you can, and they understand
That they’re not stuck living with their daughters
Proper women, independently dreamin’
Ready to stand

And ready to know what the people know
Ask ’em my questions and get some answers
What’s a job and what does it – what’s the word?

When’s it my turn?
Wouldn’t I love, love to explore that world with no kids,
No more babies?
Wish I could be,
Part of that world!


Write What You Know August 24, 2009

Filed under: Writing — Erin Joy @ 12:09 am
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Post Grad

A new movie came out on Friday. I went to see it with Katie and Kristen. It’s Post Grad. I’ve mentioned it before, but I finally went to see it. Alexis Bledel was her usual adorable self, and I came out wondering why I had wished that the lead wouldn’t end up with the fairy tale ending with the choice between the job and the guy. But that never happens, especially in a movie with her and a movie from Hollywood.

However, while thinking about the  movie before I went to see it, I came to a realization: most of the movies I tend to like are about someone involved in the publishing industry.

It’s not something I do intentionally, but I just tend to gravitate toward movies about writers or editors. Sometimes I don’t even realize it until I’ve sat down in the theater after buying my ticket. That’s what happened when Kelsay, Megan and I went to see The Proposal. The two of them accused me of intentionally making them want to see a movie about an editor and her executive assistant, but I had no idea that’s what type of business it was.

On the other hand, I may watch a movie with horrible acting like Suburban Girl just because it is about a naive associate editor trying to make it big in the Big Apple. Well, that, and Megan practically forced me to watch it . . . from 2,500 miles away.

So, it got me thinking: why is it so easy for me to gravitate toward movies (and books) that involve writers or editors? And then it came to me.

It’s because writers write what they know.

All through high school and college, we are told that the key to writing successfully  to write what we know. For a lot of writers, writing is just about everything that they know. The only major business they understand without extensive research is the publishing business, so you see movies about publishing companies as big business. The only major deadlines some of us understand are writing deadlines, so movies like Stranger Than Fiction appear, emphasizing the stress involved with those. When it comes to a movie about someone breaking into the big time, it usually talks about someone getting their first chance as a reporter like in Never Been Kissed or their inspiration as a writer, such as the recent release of Julie & Julia.

I guess that explains why people write them, but I’ve yet to figure out why I tend to gravitate toward them. Sure, there’s almost always one in the theater, but why is it that those are the ones I see? Is it because they aren’t the cartoons and the absolute horror films? Maybe it’s just all the chick flicks that tend to be written about writers. I mean, sure, I’ve seen Harry Potter and a few other book-based movies, but a large majority are about writers.

Whatever it is, I don’t know.

What about you? Do you see a trend in the types of movies you watch? Does this say something about the person watching the films?


Plot Line Life June 18, 2009

Filed under: Life in General — Erin Joy @ 6:30 pm
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Every few months for the past year or so, it’s happened. I don’t know how, but my life seems to become the premise for the big screen.

27 DressesWho could forget the wonderful Katherine Heigel film 27 Dresses that premiered a year and a half ago? It was in theaters shortly before I was a bridesmaid for the fourth time. That following summer, I was bombarded with a streak of eight weekends of weddings, which I was either invited to or asked to be involved in playing numerous roles.

Let’s just say that it has not been uncommon for people to ask me if I have 27 dresses hanging in my closet. In reality, I’m working at finding one of every color of the rainbow. (I already have red, yellow, green and purple and will soon be adding blue to that bunch.)

Unfortunately, none of these weddings has caused me to discover that gorgeous yet cynical writer to fall in love with. On that same page, the next movie came out this February.

People who saw the previews for He’s Just Not That Into You in the fall insisted that I see it because of how much it made them think of me. Gee, thanks. The title alone can be taken as an insult. But, they’re right. Far too often I’ve heard that from my friends. Then I saw it for myself and couldn’t stop laughing. Can you guess which line?

Knowing it was based off a book, and because I have developed a rule for not seeing a movie without having read the book, I found a copy and read it in January.

The following month, I saw it the night after it came out with one of my friends and her boyfriend. (We didn’t see it the night it came out because the last two tickets were sold to the two people in front of us in line.) Aside from the lack of representation for any more reasoning behind the why someone wouldn’t have sex in a relationship, it was a fun movie. I wouldn’t say it put the best light on marriage, but there were many enlightening points made to people like me, the ones who over-dramaticize a single encounter with a person.

Now, it’s happening again.

Post GradThis August, another movie is coming out that, when I saw the preview, I nearly cried. It really is as if someone were following me around to come up with different premises for their movies. It’s called Post Grad.

According to the description on IMDb, the basic plot is, “Ryden Malby graduates from college and is forced to move back into her childhood home with her eccentric family, while she attempts to find a job, the right guy, and just a hint of where her life is headed.”


Aside from the (once again) finding the right guy part, that’s my life right now. Maybe I should keep an eye on the movies to find out what I’m going to do next. Or maybe I should be writing these movies.


Back to the Future May 31, 2009

Filed under: Life in General — Erin Joy @ 12:16 am
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Back to the Future was a classic. The original came out the year I was born. I remembered watching it when I was still in elementary school, and I can still recall scenes as if the movie were playing in front of me. What I find interesting about it now is how many of the inventions it featured that I take for granted that I once thought ridiculous and unlikely to happen.

Back to the Future

Take, for instance, video phones. Watching the movie in the early ’90s, I recall thinking to myself how unlikely it would be for me to ever get my hands on a videophone. It just looked like the rich people had them instead of telephones, and even at that age, I couldn’t imagine myself living in the lap of luxury. That, and I thought videophones were so far off that I’d be old before that happened. Clearly, I’m not old, and I’m not in the lap of luxury.

Even in an episode of Friends, Monica’s rich boyfriend owned a videophone, something none of the regular characters could even fathom owning. It proved entertaining to see everyone pretending not to be at the house when the boyfriend called since a videophone shows so much more than just a regular telephone.

While in both accounts, the videophone screens took up a large portion of the wall in the living room of a house, computers are the route we’ve actually taken.

Several evenings in the past week, I have found myself using the video chat function on Google chat, not even thinking about it. Using programs like Skype, I have sat and chatted with friends who are in time zones several miles away, on other continents, who are just waking up as I’m talking with them before bed, and it’s as if we’re in the same city. I’ve had tours of my friend’s flat in London, meeting all of the co-dwellers in her apartment before I’d had my morning shower. (Talk about an embarrassing first impression!) I even helped a friend rearrange her apartment over 2,000 miles away.

We video chat, and nothing phases us. We record our faces and upload them to YouTube without a thought otherwise about who else will see us. We take for granted the things that have allowed us to better communicate since we were children, and we ought to look back and be thankful for the things that have brought us to where we are and the relationships this has allowed.