Tuesday, September 12, 2017

show us your books: august 2017

I added a reading tracker to my bullet journal which really made me set aside time to read daily (I told you, my love of checkboxes runs deep). However, I had about two weeks post-Harvey where I didn't care about my bullet journal or reading or anything, and it shows. Here's to better habits with what's left of September.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo - I am a total TJR fangirl so my expectations for this book were sky high. It was fine. It kept my attention well enough, but I didn't love it like I love her other books. It was missing the fun little details that make the characters relatable and it was about a movie star who was not relatable at all. I don't not recommend it, but if you haven't exhausted all of her other books, go there first. I just didn't care enough about any of the characters in this story for much of it to stick with me.

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl - Issa Rae created Insecure on HBO and her book is about her upbringing, dealing with her Sengalese parents, being black, and some awkwardness. Truth? I liked it while I was reading it but I don't remember much about it. It wasn't told in a linear way, which probably affected my perception a lot.

Holding Up the Universe - I was in the mood for something kind of mindless and easy and this book was perfect. I finished it in three nights. If you don't mind teen angst and want some faith in the next generation restored, it's a cute story. A girl once called "America's Fattest Teen" and a boy who can't recognize faces become an unlikely couple (spoiler alert, but it's a teen book, so what did you expect?). I appreciated the lack of terminal illness, I can say that for sure.

Columbine - You should not read a book about a national tragedy while your city is being pummeled with a natural disaster. This was not a good choice on my part and as such, I had to force myself to get through the last 50 pages. If you know next to nothing about Columbine, read this. I was in middle school when it happened and didn't realize how much I didn't know. It talks about the events leading up to the shooting, humanizes the victims, compiles what is known about the parents, and talks about how the investigation was full of mistakes and the media got the whole story wrong. Eric and Dylan weren't bullied, did you know that? I learned so much reading this, even though it was hard to get through. It was very well done, even though it was emotionally draining at times.

I need to start keeping notes about books since I always forget how they made me feel when it's time to write these posts... Linking up with Steph and Jana.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

add it to my list: august 2017

Hi again.

I have to admit, I feel like more newscasters in my life have been wrong than have been right. I thought I was wasting my time grocery shopping on Thursday and I didn't really think I would miss work Monday. I thought some roads might be impassable. I didn't imagine boat rescues and tents on rooftops and a convention center filled with people and other shelters at capacity all over the city.

And then Harvey came and while I'm still optimistic, my heart hurts and I have spent the past few days worrying about my family and friends and glued to the news. I don't have the desire to tell you what make-up or TV show I have loved lately but as the water recedes, I will need to know about all of those things from you. So please tell Bre and me what to add to our lists. As native Houstonians who love this city, I hope you understand when today, all we want to share with you are things that are Harvey-related that you may want to add to your list.

This poem that is wonderful and amazing and everything I love about Houston (favorite line: you can fill up our bayou/ but you can never rain/ on our parade). Please read it.

Facebook can be used for good. During this storm, I have been able to track flooded areas, find out who is safe, and give others peace of mind. That said, when this is over, I'll go back to my silence.

Look out for those around you. Whether it's providing an emotional push, your time, your money, or help cleaning up in the aftermath, people are scared right now. Being there is invaluable.

If you have the desire and the means to donate to Harvey Relief, here are some places Bre compiled and I would recommend:

My personal favorite and where my charitable dollars go - The Houston Food Bank (Every dollar is THREE meals, y'all)
http://www.houstonfoodbank.org/ >> The Book Group is matching donations to the food bank up to $2K so if you decide to donate to them, do so now and email your receipt to info@thebookgroup.com. I did it last night!

Mayor Sylvester Turner's Harvey Relief Fund - where the mayor is directing corporations to send major gifts, but anything helps:
http://ghcf.org/hurricane-relief/ 

JJ Watt's Fund (though there is no indication of who is running this and where proceeds will go)

Thanks for listening and for asking how I am and for sending good thoughts to my city. We're gonna be okay. Now please, go see what one another loves and give Bre and I some time to get back to you. We're both really excited to add some fun things to our lists!




Monday, August 28, 2017

harvey, from a houstonian

I've spent the past few days watching Harvey take over Houston. Roads I travel down daily are being navigated by boat. People are being told if they take shelter in their attic, they need to have an axe so they can cut themselves through the roof. 911 was over capacity. Nevertheless, we persisted.

A shelter was set up to give people a place to sleep and a warm meal and they were allowed to bring their pets. Because after going through the ordeal of saving myself from my flooded and destroyed home, I sure as hell wouldn't leave them behind.

This tweet that suggested that an image of a police officer rescuing two children from waist-deep flood waters take the place of the confederate statues that need to come down.

The fact that people are being rescued from their roofs via helicopter and brought to safety in the middle of a freeway. The freeway is too flooded to use for cars, so it's being put to a new use.

Hundreds of people braved closed roadways to take their boats on rescue missions for strangers.

A furniture store became a temporary shelter full of mattresses and hot meals (and they let you bring your pets, too).

People wonder why we didn't evacuate. There are just too many of us. Over two million people on a limited number of freeways over the course of two days (and it actually started raining on Friday, a day early) would have led to far too many of us being stuck in this. So we did what we could - depleted the bread, milk, and canned goods from grocery stores, stocked up on D batteries, and hunkered down. And a whole lot of us are okay. We're the lucky ones.

I'm in awe of how the community came together. The news people were phenomenal in telling people's stories and delivering updates without being overly dramatic. Space City Weather kept people calm and informed as the worst of the rain happened. Technicians for the power company kept the majority of the population with electricity. The first responders ran on fumes to help as many people as possible and the amount of help from other cities is amazing.

But still, my heart hurts. I know it's just stuff at the end of the day but if everything I worked for in my adult life was gone, I would feel a true loss. I can't imagine how lonely it must be to be scared on a rooftop or calling for help that takes hours to come while I had no access to news to see when the next band of rain was going to arrive.

All I could do was watch and hope I wasn't affected. So far, I wasn't. Thank you to anyone who reached out somehow to check on me and my family - that truly meant so much. I love this city, despite its sprawl and concrete and mosquitos - it's my home. I hope that the way we react to Harvey and the way we treat each other helps the rest of the country see why.

I couldn't let Harvey pass without some thoughts. I'll be back with silliness tomorrow for the Add it to my list linkup.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

threes

Is Thursday still the day no one blogs? I prefer to make my schedule Tuesday and Thursday, but if no one writes, does no one also read? I think Steph started this forever ago (maybe influenced by Stephanie?) and I saved it as a draft. Thanks for an easy post as I make my list for hurricane-preparedness (more below). Fellow Houstonians, stay safe!

Three things I'd never give up
- Dessert
- My cat
- Caffeine

Three favorite ways to eat vegetables

- Roasted zucchini
- The cauliflower at Coltivare (come to Houston, I'll take you)
- In a sheet pan dinner. They are just so easy.

Three shows I watched faithfully from beginning to end while they aired
- Gilmore Girls
- Friends
- Ugly Betty

Three places I want to visit inside the US

- Seattle
- San Diego
- Portland

Three places I want to visit outside the US

- Italy
- Greece
- Ireland

Three things I always have with me

- Lip balm
- My wedding ring (um, it doesn't come off)
- A hair tie or bobby pin

Three things that are always in my car

- Trash (just paper, but I'm a mess)
- At least three "dots" worth of gas on my gas gauge (I am weirdly afraid of running out)
- Something to return to a store or something that needs to go back into the house

Three most recent phone calls were to/from

- A coworker
- My dad
- Andrew

Three books I read and loved in college

- Nickel and Dimed
- Black Like Me (this is where my love of sociology started, clearly)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (what? I took AP classes so no college English and this came out right before my last semester so it totally counts)

Three most often used makeup products

- Mascara
- Eye liner
- NYX Matte Not Flat powder

Three things that make me laugh

- Cat gifs
- My husband's terrible puns
- The Office, but only during the Michael Scott years

Three things on my actual hurricane preparedness list
- Water
- Queso
- Pirate's Booty (priorities...)

Three things that happened this week
- I had food poisoning for the first time ever, three hours from home. It was not a fun ride home but I'm grateful it didn't strike Andrew, too.
- There was a drug dealer living at the end of my street and I saw the SEVEN police cars sneakily come down our cul-de-sac to bust him (!!!).
- I spent four and a half hours at a coffee shop with friends having brunch and working on our bullet journals like a bunch of crafting squatters (but it was so fun).

Three things I want you to know
- Bullet journaling is a whole thing and I didn't want to fill my regular account with it so I started a second instagram account for all things bullet journal related - @brunchandbujo if you're into that.
- A tropical storm is headed to Houston and if it affects me seeing Coldplay tomorrow or seeing my cousin in town from Phoenix on Saturday (or you know, floods people's homes and causes damage), I'm going to be really mad.
- Tuesday is the Add It To My List linkup with me and Bre! Link up with us and share your current favorite things. The other day I said I liked something and Andrew said "Better add it to your list..." so I did. And I plan to share it with you, provided I don't float away this weekend.

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.

Screenings

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.

Panels

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.

Perks

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.