Tuesday, August 22, 2017

better late than never: atx television festival, season six

In June, Andrew and I went to the ATX Television Festival for the third consecutive year. I posted about season four here, and I have a draft of season five that I never published, and I'm bummed not to have finished writing out those memories. I took actual notes over season six, so I thought I might share them.

I find the ATX Festival hard to describe to people. It's for people who really like TV; who talk about it with others and think about it long after a show is over, who are moved to feeling different ways by the music chosen or the way an episode is shot. It's a celebration and appreciation of the people who make it (in front of and behind the camera). It takes place from Thursday afternoon though Sunday afternoon at a few different venues (nearly all in walking distance!) in Austin, Texas. You make friends with people in line and talk to a lot of strangers, in person and on twitter. I love it.

I'm not going to get into the details of festival tickets, but we always get a weekend badge which I think is a steal for what you get. The programming is a mix of panel discussions (with behind the scenes people, actors, or both), screening opportunities, script readings, an outdoor party, a Saturday night main event, and themed events in the lounges with free food. Every year, I have loved a different part.


2017 was the year of the screening for me. I got a chance to watch the premiere of Ghosed with Adam Scott and Craig Robinson and then they chatted a bit about the show. To be honest, I didn't love the show - network TV is not my favorite - but I may give it another try. It was just fun to see Ben Wyatt and Darryl Philbin (had to google that one - he's from The Office) in person. I also checked out Glow (loved the first ep, didn't love the season), Snowfall (liked the first ep but it's still on my DVR), and Loudermilk (definitely giving this a shot when it airs). It was so cool to check these out before anyone else, and at each one, members of the cast were there in person to talk about the show after you watched it. Alison Brie is tiny in real life. Ron Livingston will forever be the guy from Office Space. Fun fact, they screened The Bold Type at the festival and while I didn't go, all the good stuff I heard made me watch it and it's a great summer show. There was also a panel with the season four premiere of Younger and I can tell you that Josh and Charles are just as good-looking in real life. I don't how how Liza will ever choose.


I tend to love panels because they are like podcasts come to life. I love hearing the thought behind different shows and the moderators are TV journalists who ask great questions. My favorite panel this year was with the creators of The Americans. Andrew and I had just binged that and caught up to the current season so hearing about the world of Elizabeth and Phillip and how it's created by a former CIA employee was fascinating. They keep a timeline in the writers' room to make sure they are historically accurate! Panels cover all different things from diversity on TV, how writers got their start from another writer, or the cast of a show talking about the season that just aired. I want to be best friends with Justin Simien, the creator of Dear White People and I wish I liked Julie Plec's shows (Vampire Diaries, iZombie) because I have attended a panel with her each year and she is just so funny and down-to-earth. One panel that was especially good was with some of the cast of Sneaky Pete (the siblings) and they played pivotal clips from the season of each character and then talked to them about it so if you had never seen the show, you would still get it.

One big draw for me this year was a This Is Us panel. It was supposed to be Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore, but a few weeks before, they swapped Mandy Moore for Chrissy Metz, which still sounded great. The show's creator was supposed to be there, too, along with the president of programming at NBC. Well, Chrissy Metz was sick so she didn't come, and the creator had to stay in L.A. to work, so it ended up being Milo Ventimiglia and the president of programming. There was no announcement to this beforehand, and people missed other festival programming so that they could get in line for this. It wasn't the end of the world, but honestly, since This Is Us is such a tight-lipped show, nothing was said during the panel that I hadn't read before. So, that was kind of a bummer, but there was still a ton that I enjoyed.


This year, the sponsored perks were fantastic. The first year we went to the festival, I wanted to go to all of the events and I didn't take time to eat and got hangry. Last year, we realized that we could take breaks and still get our money's worth and we had a good time (and I packed snacks). This year, there were tons of sponsored events with free stuff and we didn't have to pay for many meals. I especially enjoyed a themed breakfast one day with a taco bar and mimosas - all for free. If you made time to stop by the lounge and paid attention to the schedule, there was so much food.

Other things to know

The first two years we attended, we went to script readings: one of the Dawson's Creek pilot and the other of The O.C. They are gender swapped and performed by actors you've likely seen before and were highlights for both Andrew and me both years. This year's was Suits, which we have never watched, so we skipped it. The festival focused on past, current, and upcoming programming. There was a panel with Pete and Pete this year that I would have loved to check out and the main event was a Battlestar Galactica reunion. There is something for everyone; I think the key is knowing if you like to sit in ballrooms and take things like this in all day, and if there's enough for you to justify the (very reasonable but not insignificant) price. This is not a fan fest with photo ops with celebrities. Most people will take a photo in a panel, but if you see a celebrity in a venue, it's common to just say hello, not immediately ask for a selfie. Andrew and I saw Damon Lindeloff walking down the street and as much as I know he would have loved to talk to him about Lost, we just let him go about his day.

After leaving ATX Festival, I have a renewed love of TV. I want to talk about it and think about it and I appreciate it so much more. I want to travel back in time and make my high school self dream of becoming a TV writer. It really is a good time. I'll be back in 2018.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

how i use my bullet journal

I'm a forgetful person, and my brain is a mess of things I could and should do. If there are too many things in there, I get overwhelmed and do nothing. Oh, and I really like office supplies.

That's why bullet journaling is my new favorite thing.

 I took pics with my new pencil bag and used my dinosaur succulent planter as a prop... such a good blogger, right?

When I first heard about bullet journals, I heard about things like keys and collections and future logs. It all sounded really complicated. Plus, who has the time to sit there and draw a grid for a calendar? So I ignored it until I spent an afternoon at Michael's with Bre and she told me all the fun things I could buy if only I started a bullet journal. After going down the rabbit hole of #bujo on instagram and finding a ruler and notebook I already had, I was ready to get started. All you need is that and some pens to see if this system will work for you.

Sections in my bullet journal

The beauty of this is that there's no right way to do it. I don't use a key. Collections is a fancy name for lists of things and a future log is just things that you're going to do... in the future. There are no #bujo graders or checkers so you really can do anything. That was really overwhelming for me, so I just thought more about what I wanted from a planner:

1) A monthly outlook so I could see at a glance what the month was like (basically, a calendar page)
2) Weekly spreads to write in to-dos, appointments, details for upcoming events, and track things like workouts or little accomplishments like chores I give myself
3) A place to keep lists of things I want to remember, by category
4) Somewhere to write what's happening in the far, far future (for example, we are going on vacation in the spring but I need to write down the dates)

The more I looked at other people's journals, the more that creating my own clicked for me.

Planning for the Future

When I realized this was something I wanted to keep up with, I bought a Leuchtturm dotted journal since blank pages make straight lines difficult and lined pages were too distracting. It has two bookmarks, numbered pages, and an index page at the front so I can log what I have on each page rather than flipping through the whole journal.

Yearly outlook on the left (it continues on the next page, and then there's a birthday page) and my year in pixels, so far. Looks like I have had a good amount of good days!

The first thing I created was my future log for the next year. It's a small calendar of the next twelve months with a space to write down any upcoming events. As I make my monthly spreads, I can make sure to document important dates there. I also made a page for birthdays - maybe now I will finally get around to sending cards on time.

I also have a Year in Pixels tracker in the front of my journal. I have a grid that has the next 12 months and a spot for each day as well as a color-coded key. Each day, I give my day a label and color in the corresponding color so at a glance, I can tell how things are going for me. I can likely compare the colors to other things in my journal and get a pretty good idea of what puts me in a good mood vs. a bad one. It will be interesting at the end of the year to see how I rate the majority of my days.

Then, I started on the monthly spreads. I prefer to use two pages so I have plenty of room to write on any date I need to. These can look any way you want. Don't forget that a calendar page should have five weeks on it since there are 30-31 days in most months. Not 28. My first spread was very, very bad.

Unlike my July spread, this one has the right number of weeks. Note the sticker where I wrote something down wrong. The yellow is for blog posts and slightly easier to read in person.

I also added a two-page spread at the beginning of each month where I can write down memories for the month. I have written down something someone said to me that I want to remember, what I did, or how I felt. It's just a sentence or two to document anything worth remembering.

Planning my week

I went a little washi crazy with the spread on the left but it helped to cover a mistake! The one on the right is for the current week, photos taken Tuesday morning.

Every Sunday night, I sit down and work on my spread for the following Monday - Sunday. I like to see the weekend as one full unit and I see Monday as a new start. I like doing them one week at a time because if I don't like the way a layout works, I only have to look at it for a week. I can also adjust my layout depending on what I have happening that week. For example, when I knew I was taking two vacation days last week, my layout was less structured since I didn't think I would be writing many things down. I get all of my weekly spread inspiration from Instagram and then do my own thing with it.

I love color and using pens and washi tape. I am working on brush lettering since this is a good chance to do it. I try to make sure that every spread will still look good if I use a black pen and then an accent color pen and I keep those on my journal's pen loop. If I worked that hard to make my page pretty, I don't want a clashing pen to ruin it! There are all kinds of task managers in bullet journaling, but I don't really use them. I like making a square for any kind of action item and then checking it off when it's done. Some days, I don't have anything to put in for the day so I will use the space as a log of what I did, even if it's just a show I watched or the workout I completed. Again, if I have gone to all of this effort, I might as well use it for something, right?

I also make a small grid tracker every week for habits I'm trying to adopt. There is something about checking off a box that motivates me and gives me a sense of accomplishment. This week, I'm tracking move (aka working out), talking to friends, going to bed by 11, reading, blog time, cleaning for 15 minutes a day, and doing the dishes. Nothing huge, but I feel bad when they aren't all checked off, so I will get up and do that little chore (or go to bed) just so I can check the box!


Try or Buy is for shows and products I hear about (many from the Add it to My List linkup!). The left side of the Blog Post Ideas page are one-time things (like Bullet Journaling) and the things on the right are linkups or posts I can do anytime (like If We Met for Coffee or Currently...). The wine page is the same set-up I use for my monthly memories pages.

I reserved approximately the last third of my journal for lists and notes. For me, this is anything I want to remember - dinner ideas we don't hate, blog post ideas, wines I have liked, things to try or buy, ideas for upcoming vacations, house plans, stuff like that. Some people track books or TV shows, or meal plan, or keep shopping lists in their journals. I prefer not to, but that's the great thing about the system. It's also great for doodling in, writing your goals, packing lists... anything you normally write on a spare receipt or keep in a note on your phone can go in your bullet journal. The lovely thing is that it's all in one place and organized in the way that you work, not in the way that planner makers think you should. I love going digital and having less clutter, but I retain things much better when I write them down.

I know it sounds like a weird instagram fad. I was a total skeptic at first too, but I love the flexibility. I use it more since I actually worked to make it look pretty. I love trips to Michael's to get things to put in it (did I buy stickers that say "gold star adult" over the weekend? Maybe.) and I love never feeling stuck with any part of it since I can always create something else. It also lets me feel a little bit crafty and creative without having to commit to a scrapbook or anything. I am toying with putting ticket stubs and things like that on my monthly memory pages, or getting one of those small, purse-sized printers to capture the things I'm writing about. There's always something new to want to try.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

if we met for coffee, we would have to talk about charlottesville

If we met for coffee, I would want to keep it light and easy, but these days, how can you?

If we met for coffee, the current state of our country would surely come up. I feel that 95% of the people in my life by choice think that the current administration is a joke, negatively impacts them, and that nearly anyone else could do a better job governing us. I would ask you how you're getting your news, and how you retain it. How are you keeping the facts accurate and straight so that when you're confronted with someone who doesn't think 45 is so bad, you can provide actual rationale other than an eye roll or an inability to speak due to blind rage? I feel that the news comes at us so quickly and all of the bad things mount that it's hard to keep anything straight anymore. It's easier just to avert your eyes until the next bad thing strikes, since it's inevitable that something will. But, burying your head and just saying that "he's the WORST" solves nothing, so one must keep up with the latest insanity.

If we met for coffee, the events of this weekend would come up. There are Nazis living life like it's no big deal in America in 2017. The media is covering the domestic terrorist using assault with a deadly weapon to kill someone as the mere perpetrator of a car wreck. That is not okay. That is not accurate. For some reason, because the victim was a female my own age, just trying to do what she thought was right, this murder feels even more senseless. It shouldn't matter if she was like me or not, but the similarity just highlights that it could have been me or you or any of my friends. This might be the way my black friends feel every time we hear about an innocent, unarmed person being shot by police. I thought I got it before, but I feel like I'm understanding it anew. You can be minding your own business or trying to do the right thing and it can all be gone with your name trending on twitter within the hour.

This whole thing has me thinking about the ways in which we talk about race and class in America. We're told as kids to treat everyone the same, since we're all the same inside. While that's great when you're 4, that doesn't carry over to adult life very well at all. When does the lesson come around that decades of systemic oppression guarantee that your friends who don't look like you are being treated differently by society and that in treating them the same, you aren't helping much? I feel a pull to understand more about others' experiences and I see how our human needs are very similar, but the ways in which we exist in society can be very, very different. But, if you don't actively seek out these lessons by making friends who look different from you and consuming media with people who don't share your background, will you ever learn it at all? People who claim to be colorblind are well-meaning, but they are really just society blind if they think that the color of a person's skin doesn't affect anything about them other than their outward appearance.

I would want to ask you what you're doing about the state of things, and what you want to do moving forward if we met for coffee. I was disheartened a few days ago when someone (a young person) who I care a lot about told me she didn't think Trump was that bad and proceeded to tell me that Obama had secret meetings all the time "with Muslims." I asked her why this mattered and she said "because, Terrorists." I tried to calmly explain that all Muslims aren't terrorists the same way that all white Christian men don't bring guns to school and was met with something like "I'm never going to become a liberal." I'm not sorry for who I am or what I believe and I'm not afraid to stand up for myself, but I do lack the vocabulary and patience to make an argument that doesn't sound like an attack or a condemnation. What I want to do for my 45-supporting friends is at least put a face to that liberal name. To show them that those of us who Fox News paints as poor people grabbing at their money and giving their jobs to Latinos walk among them and are good people who just want to spread some of the goodness around.

I'd want to compare notes on how to handle all of this. Is saying something cliche better than saying nothing at all? What are you doing to condemn bigotry and racism, and what else could or should you do? I think it's a thin line between seeking attention from someone else's tragedy and actually lending voice and importance to a conversation. I hesitate to add more noise to the world. I don't know what to do to step up. So I would just have my coffee with you and maybe we could think of something to do, together.

And I would implore you to listen to the latest episode of Pod Save the People where Deray McKesson interviews UVA students and the governor of Virginia. If you feel like the media is sensationalized, there is nothing better than a firsthand account. I'm not finished with it yet, but I have heard most of it and it's just very real.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

currently {august 2017}

I'm working on good habits and trying to prioritize things I enjoy. And blogging is one of those things, even in the form of a Currently post...

Watching: I love baseball season because there is something on nearly every night (we only watch the Astros) and less of a need to find something to watch. But, when not watching baseball, Andrew and I are watching Ozarks and I'm Sorry. I'm loving Younger and The Bold Type this summer. I didn't expect to like The Bold Type but it's a good lightweight summer show. Watch it for the clothes alone.

Trying: To create good habits. I'm attempting to go to the gym (again - this happens every August), plan healthy-ish meals at home, do a better job of picking up around the house each evening, and to follow through on things I want to do. Instead of thinking "Oh, I should look into that..." I'm getting out my phone and doing the research right away.

Reading: Catching up on Show Us Your Books posts and adding things to my TBR and library hold list. Looking for new bloggers to enjoy and trying to make blog time part of my daily routine.

Enjoying: The rain in Houston has made the hottest part of summer not-so-hot. The push for more honesty on the internet. The last of my beloved Coke Zero. The How I Built This podcast. It's my one must-listen of the week since it's  nearly always a company I've heard of, the host is great, and there is next to no fluff.

Noticing: That I'm happier when I'm social. People can be the worst, but good people can make your day. I try to work from a coffee shop once a week and make sure to text/tweet/email a friend daily. Working from home can be really isolating, and I didn't realize how only IMing work people and scrolling my feed and talking to my husband could make me lonely. The effort to reach out or just be around other people is so necessary for me that it's worth putting on real pants when no one is making me.

Buying: Well, I bought brush pens and lots of washi tape so I'm really trying not to buy any more paper crafting stuff. We've lived in our house for three years in September and I haven't really changed much since we moved in, so I'm itching to get more things for the walls of our bedroom, find a small chest to put under the TV in there, and give the upstairs bathroom a mini-makeover. Nothing yet, but I'll update if I do anything worth sharing.

Thinking About: How to entertain my nieces this week. I'm taking vacation days today and tomorrow since they'll be in Houston. They are 9 and 17 now - quite the age gap to try to do something with both of them. The older one is going into her senior year of high school (how??) so I don't know how often I'll see her going forward... I mean once she's an adult, she won't have to spend time down here anymore. I have tentative plans for getting our nails done, shopping, a fun restaurant, great dessert, and maybe bowling and laser tag. Definitely open to new ideas, though.

Cheers to my long weekend with lots of family time. Fingers crossed that I can at least beat the 9 year old bowling, but I wouldn't count on it...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

show us your books: july 2017

Don't you hate it when you struggle through a book, hoping it will get good, at it just ruins your desire to read? That's what happened to me this month with The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley. It just wasn't for me and made me scroll my phone rather than try to get into it. I let it expire back to the library and once I made picking up a new book a priority, I flew through several over the course of two weeks. And they were good ones.

Second Helpings (Jessica Darling Book 2) - Partly due to Alyssa's urging, I kept reading the books in the Jessica Darling series. Had I read these books as a teenager, I think I would have loved them, but as an adult, they are a little slow and I feel like it takes too long for anything to happen. This book took us through the end of Jess' time in high school, and while I want to take a peek at her college life, I accidentally read the synopses of the last three books on Goodreads and have a good idea how things will end. Oops. So if you are interested in this series, consider keeping it off your TBR. 3 stars.

Behind Closed Doors - I saw this all over this linkup and it's a good read. I wanted to stay up to read it and while it was highly unbelievable, I found that the author did their best to make the plot they created plausible. It's hard to describe the plot without giving anything away except to say it's the story of when a seemingly perfect marriage is quite the opposite. It's close to a thriller, but not quite, and I would recommend it. 4 stars.

It's Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool, Too) - If you have read my blog for any amount of time, you will know that after discovering Nora McInerny's podcast, I decided I want to be her when I grow up (though she is only a few years older than me). In the span of a few weeks, she had a miscarriage and both her dad and husband died of cancer. This book is her memoir, and though my life hasn't been anywhere near as hard, the way she explains things and writes makes me feel like she has been in my head; does everyone feel the way she and I do, and we are really bad at talking about it? She tells stories about loving someone with a terminal illness, living life after tragedy, and what it was like to fall in love in the first place. I love her voice and I adore this book - I wanted to highlight the entire thing. I never buy books, but I will buy this one, though I'm waiting in hopes that she comes here on a book tour (unlikely but still). 5 (hundred) stars.

Famous In Love - After hearing the author of this series speak on a panel at the ATX Festival, I added this to my TBR. It was made into a TV show that was on Freeform this past spring, and I thought the author seemed interesting, so I wanted to give it a try. It had a love triangle that reminded me of The Hunger Games and an interesting premise - going from a nobody to the star of a much-anticipated book-turned-movie - that I wish had been dug into deeper. That said, I sped through it and will read the next book, and watch the TV show. It's easy, escapist teen drama. 4 stars.

The Hate U Give - I have seen this book a lot of places and was expecting to love it. I was expecting it to be life changing levels of amazing. For what it is - a book written for teenagers about race, police shootings, educational inequity, gun violence, and interracial relations - it's fantastic. For a 30-something expecting an awakening in novel form, it wasn't what I had hoped for. It isn't the book's fault. It's about a teen girl who witnesses her friend being shot by a police officer and everything that happens to her and her neighborhood afterward. There are likable characters, it does a good job of speaking to teenagers in 2017, it deals with heavy subject matter respectfully, and it avoids cliches (or calls itself out on them). I would definitely recommend it to a sheltered teenager, but as an adult, manage your expectations. 4 stars.

I've added reading time as a daily to-do in my bullet journal and I finally have The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo from the library so I expect August to be a great book month. Excited to see what everyone else has read this summer, too.

Linking up with Steph and Jana.