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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 ❤ 

Dogs, Doodles, & Other Things

It’s been a few months since my last post, and I finally felt like checking in again. After losing my dad, I didn’t have the energy or desire to work on Catch-all, so I posted a few times and took another much-needed break. But as time has passed, and I’m finding joy in things like blogging again, I’ve decided to give Catch-all another shot.

Since my last blog post, a couple of major things have happened. I married the love of my life in a small ceremony at Griffith Park in Los Angeles, and we entered a new chapter together in this ever-changing and always unpredictable book that is life. Towards the end of December we adopted two adorable little dogs, who were found as strays together and never claimed by a guardian. They’ve both brought so much joy into my life and I like to think of them as gifts from my dad.

Here’s Joni and Murphy healing after being spayed ❤

Last February I wrote about Lady Bird and how that film reminded me of “the sloppy hopefulness of the spirit I once had.” I wanted to be excited again about the uncertainty of life and the joy of doing the things I love, but instead of making time for my hobbies, I let things get in the way again. Losing my dad was a sudden and painful reminder of the briefness of life, and after some time had passed I reminded myself that it was time to focus on the things I enjoy doing again.

Drawing is something I did for fun and to relax, especially in high school. After college I slowly let it slip away until I didn’t draw anymore. I used to spend hours discovering new bands and listening to music, but music steadily became less of a part of my life. Interior design was a love of mine since childhood, and I would read design magazines and decoupage furniture and paint the walls of every apartment I moved into. That stopped too. Going to the movies and watching old films was something I always made time for, but this past year I felt like a barely watched anything. And working on this blog was enjoyable and rewarding for a number of years, but that changed as well.

Because I’ve lost my dad, someone I thought would always be there, I look at and experience everything a bit differently now. I always knew life was short as a general concept, but now I feel the reality of its shortness, and the pain of it, deeply. I understand that everything really could change or be over tomorrow—even in the next minute. So I plan to cherish each moment and actually spend time doing what I love, rather than just thinking about doing it. In the coming months I hope to be posting on Catch-all more often, and writing about what I’ve been watching or listening to. And I hope you spend time doing the things you enjoy too.

Until next time,

❤ Julia

Screens and the Time We Spend Staring at Them

As I’m writing this I’m in front of a screen, and since you’re reading this you’re in front of a screen, and screens, screens, screens, screens.

Lately I’ve been spending too much time on Instagram. Being on the app is a part of my job, and I certainly don’t mind getting paid to look at my phone—but recently I’ve felt consumed by it. Even after work, I come home and succumb to the endless scroll. It relaxes me, and I escape into it. My physicality dissipates and it’s just me and my eyes and my brain and my finger, scrolling though images, liking some, sharing memes, watching videos. My eyes, my brain, my finger, and my phone.

In this world of scrolls, time doesn’t exist. Nor do responsibilities, or consequences, or the pain of the present. Just dog videos, pretty photography, and my friends’ babies.

During my last semester of graduate school I was a teaching assistant for an introduction to television course, and I spent time talking to undergraduates about what they watch and how they watch it. I had been thinking about Twin Peaks (as I usually do) and the fact that I fell in love with a show from the early 90’s that existed before I did, only because Netflix made it available to me. Without Netflix, I likely would have never seen the show (my favorite show of all time), simply because it wasn’t a part of my small universe.

In one discussion section I asked the students to think about how much TV they watch and on what platforms. I also wanted them to include web shows, because what qualifies as “television” nowadays is up for debate. Through this exercise, I began to think of my own relationship with “watching things.” I say “watching things” because I slowly realized that the “shows” I watched were on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, but also Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram. Are the three-minute long clips of my boyfriend’s cousin’s kids playing together a show? Maybe?

I went down a weird spiral a few months ago when I started to think about what it means to be human, day-to-day. And I thought about my days, and what they look and feel like, and soon realized just how unnatural—how inhuman—my human life is. I spend most of my day in front of screens. I bet you do too.

Take a moment and really think about the screens we spend time in front of, and just how much of our time. TVs, computers, tablets, phones, and more. All these fucking screens everywhere and they’re so ubiquitous that I almost forget they’re there.

So what’s my point? Damn, I think I may just need to spend less time on Instagram.

Vote Like Our Future Depends on It (Because It Does)

If you’re reading this and you’re a U.S. citizen, then you should know that the midterm elections are tomorrow. And if you know that the elections are tomorrow then you should be registered to vote and you should be voting.

So you’re voting right? Or even better—you voted early?

I’m still not quite in the right frame of mind to write lengthy, well-crafted blog posts, so instead I’ll link you to a few really great articles I think are worth reading and some election gifs to post tomorrow, because why not?

Articles to read, digest, & share:

Roxane Gay’s piece for The New York Times, “You’re Disillusioned. That’s fine. Vote Anyway.
  • “If you remain disillusioned or apathetic in this climate, you are complicit. You think your disillusionment is more important than the very real dangers marginalized people in this country live with.” – Roxane Gay
s.e. smith’s article for Bitch Media, “The Intimidation Game: Donald Trump and the GOP’s History of Voter Suppression.”
Jeff Wise’s essay on Medium, “The Midterm Stakes: A Brief Primer

VOTE, then Tweet: 

As Simple As Good Weather

I’m not sure when the next time I’ll write about media or pop culture is, because lately all I can think about is how I feel. Feeling good, bad, tired, anxious, happy, confused…all the damn feelings.

In coping with said feelings, I’ve been working to tune into what makes me feel good and focus on those things. Luckily, a lot of things make me feel good. Taking a nice shower, talking to a loved one, watching a funny show, listening to music—I can count on all of those things turning a moment of darkness into something lighter.

But you know what I’ve realized is the ultimate cure for my sad, weird, or anxious feelings? BEING OUTSIDE IN GOOD FUCKING WEATHER!

I’ve been told many times throughout my life that I don’t know what “real fall” is because I was born in the wrong part of the country. And a few years ago when I was in New York in November I realized all those people were right, that definitely is REAL FALL. But you know what? I love the fake fall that happens in Southern AZ and CA even more.

No, the leaves don’t change colors, but the relief of cool weather after a hot summer is unbelievably satisfying. Fake fall has always been my favorite season, since in Tucson it means that the temperature will drop below 90 degrees for the first time in many months. And in Los Angeles it means that the weather is literally (YES LITERALLY) perfect. As I’m writing this it’s 67 degrees outside and I have my balcony door open and can watch the sun set over Griffith Park. Yes, that’s my idea of perfect.

No matter how shitty I may feel about whatever’s going on in my life, this is what makes me feel better. Always. And although I can’t count on the weather being good every day, in Los Angeles the odds are in my favor.

Happy real or fake fall, y’all!

A Few of My Favorite TV & Movie Gifs

I love a good ole’ goofy gif, so here’s a collection of a few of my favorite film and TV-related ones. I know that it seems like I’m really phoning it in for this week’s post, but I promise you that I put a lot of effort into *curating* this collection of gifs.

Star Trek 

PS: I love Captain Kirk.

Troll 2

Broad City

Hausu

The Golden Girls

The Room

Insecure

Vanderpump Rules

Labyrinth

Portlandia

Key and Peele

Twin Peaks

New Girl

Queer Eye

Difficult People

Arrested Development

Curb Your Enthusiasm

The Office

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Summer—Sometimes Fun, Mostly Terrible

Not that anyone’s keeping track, but I’m back! I said I’d be on a blogging hiatus until September, so here I am. Although I’m back, I won’t be able to keep up with my original goal of posting every week. Instead, I’ll post whenever I feel like it! So that may mean more than one post some weeks, or no posts for two months. You’ll just have to wait and see.

I had a lot of fun this summer. I took trips both short and long to Tucson, San Francisco, San Diego, Seattle, Buffalo, and Toronto. It was also the worst summer of my life because I lost my dad. It’s not something I feel comfortable writing about yet, but I imagine that some day it will help me to share my feelings here on Catch-all. Again—we’ll see.

So I’m back, but inconsistently. Hopefully I’ll share some stuff that piques your interest soon. In the mean time, resist, have fun, and do yo thang! ✌️💕

Going on a Summer Hiatus

Hey, hi, hello!

Lately I haven’t had much time to dedicate to Catch-all, nor have I been all that excited about working on it. I’ve been blogging for the past five years, and up until recently it never felt like a chore. Blogging was always something I did as a hobby, but the fun of it has dissipated. I’ve decided to take a break, but not give up entirely on Catch-all. I’ll be back by the end of the summer and will hopefully feel refreshed and excited about working on it again. Until then, I’m going to focus on a few other projects I’d like to get started on, and spend more free time reading, watching movies and TV, and doing other things that make me happy.

I’ll still be on Instagram and Twitter, so you can follow me there — and come back to Catch-all around September to see what’s new in this neck of the woods!

As always, thanks for reading!

❤ Julia

Looking Back on My Trip to Iceland

Last June I was lucky enough to travel to Iceland and embark on one wild adventure. My boyfriend’s family brought me along on their family vacation (again, I’m unbelievably lucky) and I got to see and do some very cool things. I’ve spent nearly a year writing and then re-writing about my experience in Iceland, but nothing I’ve put together seems to capture the magic of being in a largely untouched place. So instead, I’ll let some of the photos I took throughout my trip speak for themselves.

For the record, even the photos don’t do the island justice so you’ll just have to believe me. Long story short, Iceland is fucking cool and if you get the chance, GO THERE! It’s extraterrestrial, beautiful, slow-moving, quiet, remarkably cool, and undoubtedly magical.

Flying from Reykjavík to Akureyri

Akureyri Airport

Whale watching in Húsavík

Reynisfjara Beach in Vik

Petra’s Stone Collection in Stöðvarfjörður

Just outside of Reykjavík

Somewhere in Iceland…?

Eldhraun lava field

Our hotel room in Rangárþing eystra

Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon

Suðursveit

Hornafjörður

Skógafoss

Gullfoss

Dettifos

Goðafoss

Around Reykjavik

 

Watch “Earthlings”

After years of avoidance, I finally watched Earthlings. 

If you haven’t heard of it, Earthlings (dir. Shaun Monson, 2005) is an animal rights documentary that’s inspired countless viewers to re-think their relationship with animals, capitalism, and the world at large. The film, which is narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, is broken into five parts covering the use of animals as pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and test subjects. Even as someone who’s knowledgeable about animal abuse, I was utterly shocked by what I saw happening to the animals in this film. It’s certainly not easy to watch, but it’s necessary viewing for those who don’t wish to blindly engage in the exploitation of people and animals.

I’d like to note that this film does compare the horrors of human slavery and genocide to our treatment of animals, which I don’t personally support. The oppression of humans and other animals is certainly connected, but I think it’s only appropriate to let the victims and ancestors of those atrocities draw such conclusions.

Please watch Earthlings with an open mind and a willingness to acknowledge that our treatment of animals is not only horrendous and wrong, but has far-reaching repercussions.