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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.

27 Songs

Tomorrow I turn 27 (yikes!), and since I’ve been doing a birthday post every year since my 24th birthday, I decided I should keep the tradition going strong. In the past I posted 24 Lessons in 24 Years, 25 of My Favorite Things, and 26 Goals for my 26th Year, and this year I’m sharing 27 of my favorite songs. This doesn’t come close to showcasing all of my favorites, but it does cover some of them! 🙂

This list is very random and in no particular order. If we share any favorites let me know in the comment section below. ❤

1. Let Me Roll It – Wings

2. Zodiac Shift – Flying Lotus

3. Riders on the Storm – The Doors

4. I Am Woman – Helen Reddy

5. Femme Fatale – The Velvet Underground & Nico

6. Where I Wanna Be – Shade Sheist

7. Feel it All Around – Washed Out

8. Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding

9. I Follow Rivers – Lykke Li (The Magician Remix)

10. Modern Love – David Bowie

11. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – Nina Simone

12. Kinder Blumen – Real Estate

13. Sun King – The Beatles

14. Soul Eater – Dirty Art Club

15. Jack-Ass – Beck

16. I Say A Little Prayer – Aretha Franklin

17. Paper Planes M.I.A

18. This is the Day – The The

19. Sea of Love – Cat Power

20. Let’s Go Away for Awhile – The Beach Boys

21. Everybody Loves the Sunshine – Roy Ayers Ubiquity

22. All Your Yeahs – Beach House

23. Crimson and Clover – Tommy James & The Shondells

24. Truth Hurts – Lizzo

25. Girl from the North Country – Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash

26. It Was a Good Day – Ice Cube

27. New Person, Same Old Mistakes – Tame Impala

Catch-all is More of a Hodge-podge

I think that if I started this blog all over again I’d name it hodge-podge. Originally I thought of it like a catch-all dish that accumulates little odds and ends. Bills, bobby pins, loose change, buttons, political stickers, gum. It’s astonishing how many of those catch-all dishes I actually have in my apartment. They start out being useful, but quickly become piles of both important and unimportant things. I end up avoiding it all until it’s time to clean my catch-all dish out and start over again.

But this Catch-all has become more of a hodge-podge. It’s like the area of my apartment where I’ve placed shoes, empty picture frames, books, and my old violin I’ve been meaning to donate. It’s my go-to spot for big things that don’t go together but have nowhere else to go – which is kind of like this blog.

As much as I want to pinpoint a specific direction for Catch-all so that I can actually try to reach an identifiable audience, it’s becoming clear that it’s just not going to happen. (And it must not be what I truly want to happen.) There’s no specific audience for this blog because there are so many different things that I enjoy writing about, and that’s likely never going to change. Making Catch-all into anything other than what it is now wouldn’t be true to me. So for now and for the unforeseeable future, it’s just you, me, and the other folks who happen to like what’s on Catch-all too.

At my day job I work for an organization with a massive audience, and I produce content for their digital platforms. It’s so strange to indirectly have access to a vast, but well-defined audience, and then come home and work on stuff for my own tiny blog and not know who I’m even trying to reach. It’s not only strange, it’s discouraging. I’ve been working on Catch-all for five years, and while it’s been fun for me and has taught me a number of skills I wouldn’t have otherwise, I’m struggling with finding a logical reason to keep it going.

But logical is the key word, because I do want to keep blogging despite there being no tangible results. It’s fun for me, it’s my hodge-podge, my Catch-all, and I guess I’ll keep at it until it isn’t fun anymore. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 If you have a blog, are you ever discouraged? What keeps you motivated to keep writing and posting? And do you have any general advice for someone with a website or online presence? Let me know in the comment section below!