I miss writing. Has it really been 3-4 years?
The sad state is that I often don’t prioritize writing, especially after a long work day when I can sit and easily scroll TikTok instead. And if I do prioritize writing, I find myself staring at a blank page for about 5 minutes… and then go back to TikTok and the mindless thumbing of the tiny screen.
To combat these bad behaviors, I’ve been brainstorming some approaches to that initial 5-minute blank “I don’t know what to write about” stare with easy-ins that require less effort, less introspection but have a probable outcome of words-on-screen.
Enter stage left: a monthly wrap-up of what I’ve been reading, watching, doing, seeing. Do with this information what you want – I’m just happy to be tap-tap-tapping away on this little Word Press site again. 🙂
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(1) THE LESBIANA’S GUIDE TO CATHOLIC SCHOOL
First up, this is a read that I came across in the freaking AIRPORT. What? And yay! It’s a really great read. I’m not going to lie, I love YA. It reads fast. But I also love getting into the heads of our tweens/teens/young adults. Maybe it’s because I feel like I never grew up myself. Maybe it’s because emotions are SO INTENSE at that age and everything is just in the boldest colors imaginable. Whatever it is, YA is a genre I like to alternate with my non-fiction and more traditional literary titles and, when I saw this yellow book jacket in the Atlanta airport, I had it to have it.
Here’s the deal: it’s well written. It’s compelling. It offers the view of a teenage lesbian who is not ready to come out. She’s Mexican. Her dad has been deported (not a spoiler). She’s a minority in an upper middle class, predominantly white high school. This book offers a perspective that I couldn’t have even ever dreamed of having access to as a teenager myself in the 1980s. Seeing the world through Yami’s eyes adds a whole layer of understanding of what it must be like to live in the world as a young, queer woman of color that I could not have attained in any other way.
Also, it’s an adorable love story! And it’s funny. And sweet. Please read it. Thank you, Sonora Reyes, for bringing Yamilet, Bo and Cesar into my life.
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(2) LAST OF US
I know you know already. Everyone has watched this. We all get the Pedro Pascal Tiktoks (….and Instagram Reels weeks later). It’s already a part of the zeitgeist. But it was SO GOOD.
I just have to add this watch here because it was such an experience and a show that moved me in a way that TV hasn’t moved me in a long, long time. The sweetness of the Bill and Frank love story in episode 3. The extremely compelling acting of Bella Ramsey. The dystopian world scenes crafted so exquisitely in detail that, I’ve read, paid so much respect to the video game (which I haven’t played). I think what affected me the most is that I’m a huge fan of the zombie/dystopia genre. I’ve watched all the movies, read the books. The Stand (as problematic as Steven King can be) is still a top five novel for me and 28 Days Later is a top five movie. I devoured World War z and The Passage trilogy as novels. I was a Walking Dead stan for the first few seasons and Station Eleven is a masterclass in dystopian fiction AND TV. I understand the assignment. And I also understand how hard it is to do it well because, for all those amazing examples, there are dozens of failures (and, yes, The Passage TV adaption – I’m talking to you – as one of them).
So, what the Last of Us did was amazing. A fresh view. Fresh characters and a deeply immersive television experience like no other. Pure magic.
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(3) DO REVENGE
This was a little surprise on a Friday night. Home alone scrolling through the never-ending Netflix options, I came across this little movie with no context other than seeing Sarah Michelle Geller in the screen cap and knowing that I liked Maya Hawke from Stranger Things.
It was such a fun ride: a twist on Throw Mana from the Train/Cruel Intensions/Heathers; a high school dramedy; a revenge fantasy. It was a little cliche but also was not cliche And the outfits alone kept my eyes-glued with very little second-screening as I’m known to do. It also kept me guessing in some ways which I totally didn’t expect. This is a super solid add-to-queue. And perfect for a popcorn movie night. Just let me know what you think afterwards – watching alone left me with no one to discuss it.
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(4) SELENA + CHEF
I have no idea why it took me so long to boot this up on my HBO Max account. I’m a foodie. I love cooking shows – especially ones that feature celebrity/famous chefs. But it was actually the Hailey Bieber recent drama (insert eye roll) that put me in the rabbit hole of Gomez (as well as her Rare Beauty brand hitting my Tiktok FYP hard!). And both? So good!
I might be only a few epis in, but this show actually made me nostalgic for the early pandemic days (is that weird?). Content captured during that time is really quite the time capsule. Apart from that observation, Gomez is such a relatable host and student and the recipes are so mouth-watering. I love the transparency of the kitchen failures as well as the peek into celeb home life. This is also a great easy watch option for when you are looking for something quick with no commitment – it’s like the opposite to Succession.
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(5) NEXT IN FASHION
Enter another palate-cleanser, easy entry show: Next in Fashion on Netflix. They are on season 2 and I adored season 1 from a couple of years ago. Hosted by Tan France of Queer Eye, I still follow both Angel Chen and Minjukim on Instagram with a voracious appetite for their work.
This season, Gigi Hadid joins as Tan’s co-host and all the designers are so delightful and positive. I really appreciate how everyone seems genuinely supportive of one another which gives the show more British Bake-off vibes than Project Runway.
At the end of the day, it BLOWS MY MIND what these designers create in such a short amount of time and I love how they push my views around personal style and statement pieces. I also end up crying at the end of every single episode because I don’t want anyone to go home.
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This Apple TV show staring Jason Segal, Jessica Williams and Harrison Ford is such a sweetheart of a show. I’m desperate that I don’t have any more epis to watch right now because it just put me in such a good headspace after every single watch. I’m a therapy positive person who credits the practice with so much of own personal development (seriously, I would not still be married without our couples therapist!) – so I might have a soft-spot for the narrative. But this show is really great.
If you haven’t seen it, it’s based on three mental health professionals who share a practice and Jessica Williams (who I first fell in love with from the 2 Dope Queens podcast) is the absolute star of the show IMO. She is just so funny and relatable. Then Harrison Ford, OMG, what can I say? He’s precious in this and rocking this out at 80 years old. GOALS! Jason Segal’s family is the centerpiece of the drama as a struggling widower (which, um, why do we have different words for the male and female version of this? That’s prob a different blog post) but it’s really an ensemble cast. And I will forever credit this show for putting the quote “F*ck you, Phoebe Bridges” into my almost-daily vernacular.
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(7) KINDRED (the TV series)
I am an Octavia Butler stan. I’m still blown away that this black, female author of science fiction was not more well known during her career. She is a mind-blowing storyteller, a predictor of the future on the caliber of George Orwell and Margaret Atwood. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover her until 2018 and it was a stupid Buzzfeed listicle that brought her writing into my awareness when Parable of the Sower was featured as a haunting read.
I tore through that book like a box of Cheez-its. It’s dystopian world-view felt like scenes written in a fast-forwarded version of Trump’s America with too many guns and religious zealots. Earlier in Butler’s career, however, she authored Kindred. This is also a science fiction novel with the premise of a black woman who time-travels back to the antebellum south. She cannot control her trips into the past on a plantation and it’s a chilling and uncomfortable read that is beautifully articulated.
Recently, Hulu made a series based upon Kindred and when I found myself suddenly home sick for a week in March, I immediately devoured season 1 in a binge session lasting less than two days for the 8 (?) episodes. Having read the book prior, it took me a little bit of time to get into the series. The book was written in the 1970s so the TV adaptation set in present day with cell phones and NextDoor apps took some adjusting to, as did the re-writing of a few characters which I will not share as a spoiler alert for anyone who has already read the book. But 2-3 epis in, I got into it and found myself looking up the #KindredFX hashtag on Twitter to get a sense of how others were receiving the content. Unfortunately, while it appears those tweeting the series did love it, I also learned it was cancelled! And the worst part? They end it on a cliff hanger that is not a part of the book. So, that could be a reason to avoid, but I still recommend. Maybe someone else, someday will decide it’s worthy of resolution or another interpretation. I feel like it was well done, although no substitute for the book. My net/net: read Kindred and the Parable books AND watch the Hulu show. At a minimum, it’s important to keep the lived black experience on our bookshelves and screens as much as possible.
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(8) THE ERAS TOUR (live streaming on tiktok)
So, this one might be considered a little weird, but I am a Swiftie so I’m not going to leave it out – especially given how many screen-hours that I’ve devoted to this activity since the Era’s tour has started. When the Taylor Swift tour began in Arizona on March 18th, I was prepared for my Tiktok feed to be taken over the next day full if first-hand video accounts. What I wasn’t prepared for was all the live-streaming that was about to happen and has continued since on all subsequent nights of the tour. I think I was home alone the night of March 18th which explains why I was so easily able to end up wasting away in front of probably 2+ hours of the show until I forced myself to bed a little after 12am. It was just so compelling and the only reason I turned her off was that I truly did need to get some sleep. The next morning, I quickly realized that I was not alone and many other Swifties across the country were in the same sleep-deprived state having taken in the 3 hour, 44 song show thanks to volunteers with well-charged cell phones.
The weird part? Or odd part? I have tickets to her show in June here in Minneapolis. I’m going to see this show. In person. And I’m super grateful for that – especially given how difficult it was to even score the tickets. But I’ve clearly crossed a line. I am a permanent resident of Swiftok. I’ve moved from casual fan to a Tay-Tay enthusiast. The release of Folklore in the throws of the pandemic with connections to my favorite band, The National, did it to me and did it to me good and I haven’t looked back with a single second in regret. I love everything about the Folklore album. I love everything about Evermore. I was a fast fan to the Midnights release and 1989 and Reputation were already part of my pop playlists so I anticipate their re-releases with the same level of zeal. I guess what I’m getting to is that I’ve turned a corner that transitioned me into the type of fan that will watch live-streamed handheld versions of a show for hours on end and with no regrets. I’ve watched subsequent nights since that first show, too. I feel lucky when I jump in and get that night’s version of the Champagne Problems speech or special song feature for the eve. And as much as I know we should avoid screen time in bed, the Era’s tour has been a favorite bedtime lullaby on the Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun nights that are live on the tour.
This movie felt like it was everywhere when it originally came out and I remember making a mental note that, maybe, this would be the first big picture that I’d return to the big screen for post-pandemic. But then the mental note didn’t stick. I forgot about it. Somehow I ended up back in the theatre for the big screen watching Avatar 2. With so many regrets.
Then, another solo night alone later, I came across Bros on streaming. I was, like, “Oh, yeah! I wanted to see this!” And it was so, so sweet. I laughed out loud. I might have cried. The meet cute was perfectly executed and I felt like it was such a fresh take on the rom com while also being everything traditional and safe and comfortable about the genre. The Debra messing cameo is perfection. The NYC backdrop is a welcome romantic trop in of itself. This movie had me laughing out loud and the run-time, a little less than 2 hours, flew by. If you are looking for something sweet, a little cliche and more than a little gay, watch it. It’s good.
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So, there you go. March highlights right before we close out April. Maybe I’ll be back again next month. Let me know in the comments if you want more. 🙂 It’s been fun writing this. XO