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29 Things That Have Influenced or Inspired Me

I’ve made it a bit of a tradition to post a list on Catch-all for my birthday — which is odd since birthdays don’t matter to me much. But now that I’ve been doing it a few years, I’ve let sneaking feelings of superstition get the best of me and I’m almost worried that if I don’t post one year, something will go awry! So I felt compelled to do this.

I started this blog when I was 22 and today I’m turning 29! Time is wild, ain’t it? Let me start by getting the obvious out of the way and mentioning that my family and friends are truly my number one inspiration and influence — but here are the rest:

  1. Sunsets — anywhere and everywhere, though Arizona sunsets are the most beautiful I’ve seen
  2. The desert — especially the Sonoran Desert…this might as well be a travel blog for Southern Arizona, but it really is a stunning place and I don’t just say that because I’m from there
  3. Tucson — Visit Tucson should pay me! I love countless things about home, but especially the smell after it rains, sunsets, the quiet of the desert, and the comfort of the familiar
  4. Los Angeles — its exciting energy, perfect weather, vastness, and the city’s abundant opportunities and openness
  5. Documentaries as an entire genre — countless documentaries have shaped the person I am and I’m going to make one some day! Just putting that out there (and underlining it) so I have to follow through
  6. Patterns by Josef Frank
  7. Twin Peaks — what about it? Everything
  8. Design Sponge — I wish this blog wasn’t defunct, but I’m still inspired by it and was for many years
  9. Dogs — especially rescue dogs who exude so much gratitude and love. And of course MY rescue dogs, Joni and Murphy ❤
  10. Nature — “nature” is really what I’m saying for a few of these (long walks, fall, the desert) but it requires its own bullet point because I never feel quite as at peace, open, or happy indoors as I do when I’m outside
  11. Folk rock from the 60s & 70s
  12. Midcentury modern furniture and decor — I don’t quite know what it is but damn I love this time period in design
  13. Long walks in perfect weather
  14. Scorsese movies — Raging Bull will forever be my favorite
  15. Fall — not the archetypal fall where the leaves change colors, but the season in Arizona and California when you finally find the relief of cooler weather and a bit of a breeze after a scorching hot few months
  16. Difficult People — this show is smart, funny, and dumb all at once, and I’ll never get enough of it. Unfortunately, it was cancelled prematurely after only a few seasons, but it’s worth watching over and over again. It’s actually time for me to rewatch it soon!
  17. Elizabeth Warren — I’m bummed that she’s not going to be the next president of the United States, but I’m thankful for all she’s done and continues to do for this country
  18. Hot for Food — This blog/YouTube channel/cookbook got me into vegan cooking and I’m forever grateful for that. It’s useful even if you’re not vegan, so I recommend checking it out if you’re into comfort foods but want to make them just a bit healthier
  19. Old Kanye — Old Kanye was SO GOOD — seriously! New Kanye I’m not so into, but his first few albums did have a major impact on me so he’s made this list with a qualifier
  20. HGTV — this is pretty corny, but watching HGTV as a kid and teenager got me even more into design and decorating. I was already the kid who brought home Architectural Digest from the library…HGTV just made it a little more accessible
  21. Road trips — when you aren’t on a tight schedule and feel like you can go anywhere if you wanted to. Even if you don’t, just knowing you can is a reminder that unexpected turns in life are possible too
  22. This blog — It might not seem like Catch-all inspires me all that much, since I barely give it any attention anymore, but that’s just because I don’t have as much time as I used to. Throughout the years, it’s been my online space for creativity and reflection, and inspired me to go to graduate school, move to Los Angeles, and so many other things
  23. Wet Hot American Summer — forever the funniest movie I’ve ever seen and probably ever will see
  24. The Beatles — my first favorite band! I was a Beatles fangirl when most of my peers were obsessing over contemporary boybands like NSYNC and Backstreet Boys, though I did like them too 🙂
  25. Industrial districts — I feel weird that abandoned factories and old buildings are so cool to me (since they grimly represent economic and personal loss), but I can’t help but be intrigued by their history and the look of a bygone era
  26. 2nd hand stores — they’re pretty much the best place to buy anything for your home because it will have a cool story (even though you might not know that story), it’s better for the environment, and is more affordable than something new. Thrift and antique stores make me think about what’s possible to fill a home with, and that every object and piece of furniture likely has an eventful story to tell. The same goes for 2nd hand clothing, which, in my opinion, is much more interesting and fun to shop for than the new stuff
  27. Fleabag — what a brilliant, hilarious, heartbreaking, and one of a kind series. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s writing opened my eyes to what’s possible in storytelling
  28. Changing something about my living space — maybe painting a wall or rearranging furniture. There’s something almost exhilarating about finding the perfect spot for a knick knack you found years ago, or knowing what picture would look so perfect right there. This is also very corny, but once I’ve moved something around I feel inspired to do more in other aspects of my life
  29. Empty notebooks — there’s so much possibility in a new notebook, and much to discover in old ones too. Yes, there are countless ideas I’ve written down that I was excited to pursue and then forgot about, but I consider the act of even putting them in there to be at least somewhat fruitful. Most big, wonderful, or exciting ideas likely started in a notebook

New to Catch-all? Start Here

Social distancing has left me with no excuse for neglecting this blog, so I’m back—for now.

If you’ve landed on this page for the first time because you were bored and cruising the internet, well, welcome! And if you’ve been here before, welcome back. Thanks for returning again and again, despite years of inconsistency.

I started this blog when I graduated from college in 2013. Since then I’ve had a handful of jobs, moved to another state, went to graduate school, and have done all sorts of other “adult” things. Yet I’m still here working on Catch-all because of what it provides for me. It’s an escape and a place to share my thoughts, but it’s also something more. It’s where I put the things I make that have no other place to go. Where my creative ideas have room to be planted; maybe they’re left there for a few years, maybe they die in the unwatered soil, but at least there’s a place for them.

I’ve spent the past decade imagining and then re-imagining what I want to do with my life—trying to figure out what my skills are, or where my purpose lies. I still don’t quite know, but what I have nailed down is that writing (even if it’s just a sloppy journal entry) makes me feel good. I’m more whole and in-tune with myself when I write, and so, I keep doing it. Whether it’s good or bad writing really isn’t the point, just that I’m doing it.

So basically, thanks for checking out Catch-all. I hope you find something that piques your interest:

What I’ve Been Watching While Staying at Home

Like many of us from all across the globe, I’ve been spending most of my time at home, figuring out ways to preoccupy myself while implementing social distancing. Though none of us are sure how long this will last, I’m going to do my part and stay away from people for as long as it takes. And if you aren’t keeping away from others already, read up on flattening the curve and start staying home, now.

Lately I’ve been doing what most of us probably are—looking at my phone too much, having obsessive bouts where I read the latest news on coronavirus and then try to distance myself from it, cooking, organizing, cleaning, and watching movies and TV. Mostly, I’m watching TV.

So here’s a bit of what I’ve been watching…

I really enjoyed High Fidelity on Hulu, starring Zoë Kravitz. The performances are great, along with the fashion, and it’s just a fun show to watch. Now, it’s not perfect, and I’ve honestly never seen the original John Cusack movie (it’s on my list), but the show is enjoyable and has a superb soundtrack. I hope to see more things starring Kravitz in the leading role, because she’s not only a splendid actor, but she’s probably the most effortlessly cool person I’ve ever seen on-screen. I guess coolness like that is guaranteed if your parents are Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz!

Tiger King—a docuseries that’s been all over the internet—is the only thing I’ve officially “binged” so far. While I do have a few issues with how the key players were portrayed in the series, it’s a stellar example of how reality is often (or always) stranger than fiction. The hit show also illustrates just how entertaining and truly captivating documentaries can be, and it appears that the timing of its release also couldn’t have been better. But I can’t talk about Tiger King without mentioning that I think a major opportunity was missed, and I wish the filmmakers did more to to show how terrible (and deadly) captivity is for wild animals. Joe Exotic, “Doc” Antle, and Tim Stark are notorious animal abusers, and so much of their abuse went unmentioned in the series. But you can read more about it, here.

I’ve also been staying up-to-date on Vanderpump Rules (god I love that show), finally finished the series finale of Silicon Valley, and have been catching up and watching more of a few other things. I also rewatched the Linda Ronstadt documentary, The Sound of My Voice, which I highly recommend. Ronstadt’s talent, range, and commitment to doing what makes her feel whole is something I loved witnessing the first time, and rewatching again.

  • Tiger King
  • High Fidelity
  • Vanderpump Rules
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
  • Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
  • Silicon Valley
  • The Sound of My Voice
  • Billy on the Street
  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
  • The Golden Girls
  • Pete Davidson: Alive from New York

I’m excited to hear that Killing Eve season 3 is coming back soon, and now that I definitely have time to check out Cheer and Euphoria, I plan on watching those soon, and more.

What have you been watching while you’re stuck at home? Do you have any recommendations for me?

Favorites of the Decade

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🎉

Here are a few of my favorite albums, shows, movies, and events—both personal and public—from the last decade. I’m surely missing a lot, but everything I’ve listed below certainly had an impact on shaping the last decade of my life. And while I think it’s important to acknowledge the many bad, strange, and horrifying things that happened (or were made) between 2010 and 2020, I’d rather celebrate the positive. What are some of your favorites from the past 10 years?

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (2019)

When marriage equality passed in the U.S.!

Days – Real Estate (2011)

20th Century Women (2016)

Making it through college and having some of the most fun and exciting experiences of my life. I cherish that time with my friends (and the lack of responsibilities) dearly.

Moonlight (2016)

Every Beach House album.

My time with Hayley—a quirky and loyal rescue dog who I was lucky to have in my life for a number of years.

They Came Together (2014)

The Tree of Life (2011)

Attending the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and exploring the south of France and northern Italy. And at times I was traveling solo, which opened my eyes to how independent and self-reliant I can be.

Fleabag (2016, 2019)

LIVE.LOVE.A$AP – A$AP Rocky (2011)

Echo in the Canyon (2019)

Moving to Los Angeles in 2015.

Difficult People (2015 – 2017)

Roma (2018)

Basement Seance – Dirty Art Club (2017)

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (2015) and 10 Years Later (2017)

Lady Bird (2017)

Making it through graduate school and all of the cool opportunities I had there.

Having the first woman ever become the democratic nominee for president—no matter how terribly that turned out.

To Pimp a Butterfly – Kendrick Lamar (2015)

Attending the Los Angeles premiere of Amy (2015)

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)

Big Mouth (2017 – 2019)

Going to the first LA Women’s March after the election, along with over 750K hopeful, angry, and like-minded folks.

Contra – Vampire Weekend (2010)

Spending the entire decade with David, who I’m now married to.

Birdman (2014)

Seeing Paul Simon at the Hollywood Bowl.

Calico Review – Allah-Las (2016)

Youth (2015)

Cosmogramma – Flying Lotus (2010)

When my sister found two little strays roaming the streets of Tucson and no one claimed them. Now they’re our little buddies and I love them so much ❤

Is Adulthood Just Being Busy All the Time?

I can’t tell you how much I want to have the time to work on this blog. To draw, travel, take photos, try new things—but I’m just too damn busy. Always.

I keep thinking that soon I’ll have more time to do some of the stuff that makes me happy (and maybe even relax?) but with each new day comes another task to add to my seemingly endless to-do list.

I’m mostly to blame for being constantly overwhelmed. I take on far too many things, but life’s just getting in the way too. Too much work, too many appointments, getting sick at inopportune times, and the infinite red-tape that makes everything more difficult.

Is this what being an adult is like forever?

David always tells me, “One thing at a time.” And when I have the time, this way of thinking is great. But usually, I don’t.

And I feel guilty for complaining. Most people are this busy (and many are much more so), but I needed to get this off my chest.

Maybe some day this blog will be more than a random dumping ground for my rants or fleeting feelings. Maybe some day I’ll write about movies and TV again, post photos from trips, and ideas about politics or social movements—but for now this is all I have the energy for.

Do you have a method for relaxing when you feel so unbelievably overwhelmed? If so let me know. I need some guidance ❤

Fundraising in Honor of My Dad

Join me & my family in our efforts to support the Liver Life Walk in honor of Kit Van Valkenburg.

My dad died from complications due to his liver transplant in August, 2018. He had been diagnosed with liver disease over a decade earlier, but his doctor believed he had likely been suffering from the disease many years before then. According to the American Liver Foundation, millions of Americans have liver disease but don’t know it.

As participants in the Liver Life Walk, my family and I are hoping to help in the fight against liver disease in honor of my dad, and raise funds to support the ALF’s mission to “promote education, advocacy, support services and research for the prevention, treatment and cure of liver disease.”

Every dollar we raise will make a difference in the lives of the millions of Americans living with liver disease. By making a donation in honor of Kit Van Valkenburg, you will be helping the American Liver Foundation provide critical funding for public education, patient support services, and research.

Even just $1 is greatly appreciated, but if you can’t donate at this time, feel free to share our donation page instead! And be sure to give your loved ones an extra big hug.

As always, thanks so much for reading! Until next time ❤
Julia

A Few of My Favorite Things

  • the sound of a diesel engine
  • warm towels
  • laying on the living room floor at my parents’ home
  • waking up early before traveling
  • eating vegan banh mi’s
  • when the sun’s setting – anywhere, but especially in the desert
  • the feeling on your skin when you get into a hot car
  • the joy of discovery that travel brings
  • the sense of anonymity when you’re walking down a street in a crowded city
  • the smell after it rains in the desert
  • eating popcorn
  • listening to a song I love, but haven’t heard in years
  • the smell of an old dog’s breath
  • a good cup of coffee in the morning
  • being moved to tears by a movie
  • doodling
  • when an idea just “clicks”
  • the early stages of planning something fun
  • the smell of gasoline
  • when a plane finally lands & you’re safely on the ground again
  • finding a cool object at a secondhand store
  • when it’s chilly enough to wear a long sleeved shirt, but not so cold that you can’t still wear shorts
  • driving in LA with my sunroof open when the traffic isn’t bad  
  • looking at old photos
  • giving a piece of furniture a fresh coat of paint
  • the smell of lavender cleaning products
  • the opening themes of Twin Peaks, Golden Girls, & Portlandia
  • feeling productive
  • industrial districts
  • the sound of waves & cool feeling of an ocean breeze
  • the smell of sunscreen
  • midcentury modern furniture
  • how excited my dogs are when I get home

These are a few of my favorite things—what are yours?

I’m Not a Brand

When I started my blog around six years ago, this world of writing and putting my thoughts out onto the internet was so new and exhilarating. Around the same time I also joined Twitter, which continues to be my favorite social media platform because, at its best, Twitter fosters creativity and authenticity. In my mind, Twitter is the cool girl who’s into politics and memes and sometimes makes mistakes, while Instagram is the so-perfect-they’re-unreal prom queen valedictorian star athlete who’s also really great at taking photos. Maybe I’m just jealous of the Instagram chick, but I also don’t want to have to look at her perfect pictures all the time.

Excuse that tangent, but I was just at a social media conference so these things are on my mind. Now, back to the point…

This blog was born out of my boredom and unsureness post-college-but-pre-job (I’m clearly really into using dashes-like-this lately) during the summer of 2013 when the high in Tucson reached 111 degrees Fahrenheit. At that time I wasn’t so sure where the next few years would take me, but I knew I enjoyed writing little blog posts in my downtime. My unsureness remains the same, but in the past six years so much else has changed. I moved to Los Angeles and got my master’s degree. Donald Trump became president. I lost my dad. I got married. And while those are major changes—little things have changed too.

I remember that when I started this blog, I wanted to focus mainly on film and TV, but also tidbits on marketing. I’m still interested in all of those things (my current day job is in the marketing realm) but my priorities and approach to those subjects has shifted substantially. So here’s where branding comes in…

One of my first blog posts (which I must have deleted, because I can’t seem to find) was about branding, but more specifically, personal branding. I bought into the “marketing for creatives” concept that individuals, especially artists, were brands. David Lynch? A brand. Sofia Coppola? A brand! And I thought that if I wanted to be successful, I had to be a brand too.

I now recognize artists like Lynch and Coppola as creatives with a very specific and unrelenting voice and aesthetic. They are human beings, not brands. I’m embarrassed I ever took the time to write an entire blog post about personal branding, because again, PEOPLE AREN’T BRANDS. 

I guess that’s what 22 years of living in a hyper-capitalist country led me to believe? How could I be so simple-minded as to think that my value as an individual relied on the essence of my “brand” or my ability to brand myself? To make every bit of my existence digestible for insatiable consumers? Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but I’m ashamed not only that I was educated to feel this way, but that I accepted it as my fate and even took it upon myself to advocate for why others should think of themselves that way too.

But I am not a brand—and neither are you.

Media Consumption Histories

Sometimes I write blog posts and forget to post them! This is one of those posts. I started writing this in early 2017, completely forgot about it and never finished it, but decided to share it now without making any updates. A lot has changed since I wrote this, but I still think it’s kind of fun to share. Enjoy—or don’t!

This past semester I was a graduate teaching assistant for the Introduction to Television lecture at USC, which required that I ran my own weekly hour-long class. Although the topic each week varied, many of our class discussions returned to the future of TV, and the ways in which digital technology has uprooted and transformed the traditional television landscape. As a result, I began thinking about my own consumption history and that of my closest friends and family.

Living in the information age, technology seems to be propelling us ahead faster and faster, into seemingly complex and unpredictable times. Despite my anxiousness regarding our presumably hyper-tech futures, my approach to technology is not deterministic, meaning that I acknowledge that advancements are impacted by policy, culture, and economics too. Take smartphones as an example; it’s not as though the emergence of these devices suddenly made us isolated beings who stare at screens all day. Historically, we’ve been adjusting to screens for decades, and our isolationism is also a result of social trends. Consider the 1950’s & 60’s, when portions of the population moved to the suburbs in order to literally separate themselves from larger communities. Long story short, cellphones didn’t suddenly make us anti-social.

But enough on technological determinism…

When I think about what has changed technologically since I was born in 1991, it’s astonishing. My parents and grandparents have seen a lot, but the sheer speed of technological change in my relatively short lifetime has been significant. When I was born my family didn’t own a computer. We eventually got one, but used dial-up for several years until upgrading to high-speed internet when I was in 8th grade. I can still remember how amazed I was to access the internet without a dial tone, and it was so fast compared to what I was used to. At that time I was working on a paper for my eighth grade science class on the behavior of dogs, and I felt like I was able to search the internet for information at lightening speed.

I was given my first cellphone my freshman year of high school. In middle school, I used a walkie-talkie to communicate with my dad while I walked home from the school bus. With my first phone I didn’t have any data for texting, and later I could only send and receive 10 texts per month. Either my junior or senior year of high school I was upgraded to a touch screen phone (not yet a smart phone) and one of the “games” it featured was a pair of dice that you could roll by shaking it. I was so impressed.

My family has never been the type that instantly upgraded our household technologies, just because they were available. Our living room TV was a massive, cumbersome box until just a few years ago. I guess our family MO is, if it gets the job done, why change it? But despite the fact that our TV set remained old, my parents still moved forward quickly with my mom streaming Netflix on an iPad for a few years now and my dad asking Siri questions constantly.

What surprises me the most is the way that my dad uses technology. He doesn’t have an email and needs help using Google, but he’ll send emojis in most of his texts to me and my sister. And not just any random emojis, but ones that make sense within the context of our conversation. If you knew my dad, you’d understand how shocking that is. My mom has always been tech-savvy, but even receiving Snapchats from her or texts filled with gifs impresses me. Times are changing, fast.

So where does TV fit into this?

A few weeks ago my internet wasn’t working, so I couldn’t watch “TV.” Like many millennials, I don’t have cable, so I depend on the internet to access Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, YouTube, iTunes, and the various other internet-based ways I retrieve media. My only other option would be to walk a few blocks down to my local library and pick up a DVD (which believe me, I do!) but the fact that I watch TV exclusively online is significant.

There are plenty of people who still have cable, but what happens when millennials get older? How will cable survive if most of us are used to subscription video on demand services such as Netflix and Hulu?

When I go back home to my parent’s house, I get a brief reminder of what TV watching used to be like for me. My mom still receives DVD’s in the mail from Netflix (only a little over 4 million Americans use their DVD service) and even that’s considered old school, despite the fact that Netflix started streaming online only ten years ago. House of Cards, Netflix’s first original series, is about to debut its fifth season, but I feel like we’ve been talking about SVOD originals forever.

See, I told you I didn’t finish it! What was my point going to be? I have an idea, but we’ll never really know. Anyways, with technology (and life itself) evolving all the damn time, it’s somewhat interesting to look back and be reminded that my mom STILL got Netflix DVDs in 2017. 

Until next time,

Julia ❤