Category Archives: Big Picture

A Ghost Returns

EXT. YOUR HOUSE – EVENING

A dark late spring evening. The sound of crickets fills the air. It’s interrupted by a DOORBELL.

You open the door to reveal CHARLOTTE, 25, standing in the doorway with a bouquet of flowers and giant puppy-dog eyes.

CHARLOTTE

Hi. Please don’t close the door. I’m sorry I went away. I guess I ghosted you, as the kids say. And that’s not cool. There was a lot going on that I wanted to just process on my own. I couldn’t quite figure out how to put what I was feeling into words. I just felt that there were bigger issues, you know? The whole world is on fire. I felt powerless. So instead of making something, I drowned it all in wine and popcorn and reruns of Parks & Rec and trying to figure out the “next step” in my career. It’s not much of an excuse. A lot of good things have come out of this trash heap of an election. A lot of good writing at least. I guess it’s also easy to feel small when there are so many voices out there, voices that are more articulate and knowledgeable and passionate. I lost some of that last bit along the way. Passion. Anyway, I know that for this thing to work, I need to open up more. Not be so afraid of the words. And I’m ready to do that. There are always things I’ll hide away just for me, and you can understand that. But I don’t want to run away from this. That’s not fair to you, and it’s not fair to me.

A beat. You consider this.

CHARLOTTE (cont.)

Can I come in? This vase is really heavy and I’m getting chewed up by mosquitoes out here. You should probably empty that kiddie pool. Standing water leads to West Nile Virus. You’ve seen those ads.  

 

BEDA 2016

What I Learned From Blogging Every Day in April | BEDA Day 30

30 days, 30 posts. I actually freakin’ did it.

I started this project out as a way to get myself writing again, knowing full well that I would probably quit halfway through, as I have with almost every challenge I’ve started over the last few years. I thought that even if I made it halfway through, 15 posts in as many days is still quite a feat. 6,000+ words in two weeks is nothing to shake a stick at, unless you’re doing NaNoWriMo.

And yet, even on the days where I felt zapped of all creative energy, I wrote. I knew a 100 word post about my weekend was better than no post at all. I got the words down on the virtual page and sent those words out into the world. Sometimes I got 2 hits a day, sometimes I got hundreds. The traffic didn’t really matter to me. As long as I could cross “write a post” off my to-do list for the day, I was happy.

So what have I learned over the past 30 days? A few things, actually.

I can always find something to say.

I’ve always struggled with self-confidence (who hasn’t?), especially when it comes to meeting new people. I tend to hang back in conversations or not introduce myself to people, thinking I have nothing interesting to say. If anything, this project has shown me that I can always find something to add to the conversation. My thoughts are valuable and worth sharing. Even if I have some trouble translating what’s in my brain into conversational English, I’ll eventually figure it out. This is all easier said than done, but I’m working on it. It all takes practice, and I think BEDA was a great exercise.

I don’t always have to fit into a niche.

Everything I’ve read about “the business of blogging” encourages writers to stick to a genre of content and not stray too much, lest they lose precious eyeballs. That definitely works if you want to build your blog into something huge, but when it comes down to it, I’m writing for me. It’s easy for me to stick to travel content when I’m only posting a few times a month, but that gets a bit mundane when I have to post something every day. And when it comes down to it, I’m not a travel expert. I’ve traveled a lot, and it’s one of my favorite things to do, but I still don’t really know how to pack a carry-on. I’m allowed to write about the gender wage gap or tiny houses if I want. When it comes to this site, I’m my own boss. And that’s incredibly freeing.

I need structure.

Generally speaking, my writing output has gone way downhill since I graduated from college. When I was in school, I had deadlines every week and professors to hold me accountable for them. Now, when I want to write a new script, I have no one to answer to but myself. Being your own boss can be great, but I’m a pretty lax manager when it comes to deadlines. With this project, I knew I had to get something out every day, and if I didn’t, my inability to follow through would live on the internet forever. When I go back and watch videos from my failed VEDA attempts, I get pretty embarrassed. I didn’t want to feel that way again. Maybe letting my inner critic drive this project wasn’t the healthiest move, but it helped me get it done. For once I wanted to whole-ass something and throw myself into a creative project as much as I could with a full-time job. And that’s exactly what I did.

As for the future of this blog, I don’t really know what’s in store. I’m going to keep posting at least twice a month, but right now I want to focus on other writing projects. I dusted off an abandoned pilot script a few weeks ago and would like to at least finish a draft of that. Going back to the theme of structure, I’m also hoping to et back in the classroom this summer and start some new projects.

I think I’m coming out of this project with a better sense of who I am as writer and as a person. Sitting down to write every day forces you to reflect and spend some time in your own brain. Sometimes it’s fun, and sometimes it’s terrifying, but it’s always worth it.

Of course I have to thank you all for reading and supporting me through this project. Whether you left a comment, favorited one of my Tweets, or said something to me in person, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only person reading these words. I hope you’ll all stick around for…whatever I have in store for the future.

BEDA 2016 completed. Someone buy me a drink.

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5 Things I’m Looking Forward to This Summer | BEDA Day 27

Summer is nearly upon us, my friends. While I’m more of a spring gal, I still look forward to all the travel and outdoor fun summer brings. Here are five things I’m particularly looking forward to this season.

  1. Vidcon! Vidcon is always a staple of my summer. It’s become this annual pilgrimage where I’m reunited with old friends, surrounded by likeminded people, and have the opportunity to learn new things about the always #changing face of #newmedia. While the conference has grown substantially in the last few years, there’s still something great about spending 3+ days with people who share your passions. I’m incredibly excited to go back for my fourth year.

  2. A Return to LA – I’m planning on spending a few days in LA ahead of Vidcon to catch up with friends and eat a ton of In-N-Out. I have a bit of a fraught relationship with the City of Angels, but I always enjoy my visits. I know I’ll be spending at least some of my 36 hours in town listening to Kanye in my rental car and drinking iced coffee from Intelligentsia, so it’ll be just like the summer of 2013.

  3. Central Park Hangs – Central Park is a bit of a trek for me in the winter, but I’m so looking forward to spending plenty of weekend afternoons there this summer. I bought a picnic blanket last year and used it all of two times, so I’m determined to get more use out of it in the coming months. I also have a ton of reading to catch up on. Maybe I’ll actually finish The Catcher in the Rye this year (don’t judge).

  4. Shakespeare in the Park – This is the year, guys. One of these weekends, I’m going to wake up super early, bring my aforementioned picnic blanket to the park, and camp out outside the Delacorte for free tickets to one of the Public’s productions. I’m particularly excited about the all-female production of The Taming of the Shrew running in May and June. Donna Lynne Champlin is in it. What more do I need?

  5. Governor’s Ball – So I did that thing a few months ago where I bought a pass without asking any of my friends if they planned on attending. As such, I’m facing the prospect of going to (what used to be) the New York version of Coachella by myself. The lineup is way too good for me to pass up, though. Between The Killers, Haim, Chvrches, and Death Cab for Cutie, I’m pretty much in musical heaven. Now to find someone to tag along…

What are you looking forward to this summer? Let me know in the comments!

Image via Theresa Thompson on Flickr

You’d Better Vote | BEDA Day 19

The New York Presidential Primaries are today, and I’m incredibly excited to hit the polls. Nothing makes me feel more adult than participating in the democratic system. I’ve voted in both presidential elections and local school board elections, and I always try to read up on the candidates ahead of time to make an informed choice. Of course, this makes me a bit of an outsider among my generation. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who just don’t plan or aren’t paying attention to the election at all.

First of all, kudos to you if you’ve actually been able to avoid all coverage of this year’s circus of an election. And second of all, that’s bananas. You’d better vote.

I’m not going to get too political or tell you who to vote for. That’s not my beat. I’m not really one to push people towards any particular candidate (especially since I have mixed feelings about all of this year’s options).

A representative democracy doesn’t work if its constituents don’t participate. You want things to change? Show up at the polls. Call your representative. Rally for a cause. Sure, things are broken, but we can still make our voices heard. We in the United States are so privileged to have a say in our government, even if the people we choose to lead it don’t always do what we want. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?

I encourage you all to take a little time, read up on the candidates, and show up at your polling place. And if you’re not registered yet, get on that. Even if your state’s primary has passed, there’s still plenty of time to register for November’s general election.

You’re not allowed to complain about the winner if you didn’t vote. Get out there.

Photo Credit: Theresa Thompson

vidcon tweet 2013

How to Survive Convention Season | BEDA Day 17

Summer is an exciting time to be a nerd. We have more time to catch up on the movies, video games, and books we’ve been neglecting all year. Summer also brings something many nerds like myself look forward to all year long: Convention Season.

San Diego Comic Con, GeekyCon, Vidcon, Anime Expo, PAX Prime, Dragon*Con…a nerd can rack up some serious frequent flier miles in the short summer months. Attending lots of conventions in a short period of time is awesome, but how do you avoid feeling totally burnt out by Labor Day? As a (somewhat) seasoned con attendee I’m here to share some of my tips and tricks for avoiding TCSE – Total Con Season Exhaustion.

First off, pace yourself. Try not to attend two conventions back-to-back if you can avoid it. Give yourself at least two weeks between conventions to recover and ready yourself for the next round. At each con, don’t run from one panel to the next. Take plenty of breaks just to sit down and get away from the crowds for a few minutes. Go to Starbucks and get a cup of coffee or go take a power nap in your hotel room. If you schedule your breaks well you won’t miss anything important.

On a similar note, SLEEP. Sure, you want to party in your friend’s hotel room all night, but you probably won’t have any fun at the con if you’re a zombie the next day (unless you’re cosplaying as that chick from iZombie). No amount of coffee can measure up to a good night’s sleep. Try to get at least 5 hours of sleep in a bed. Your back and your brain will thank you for it.

Pack accordingly! You will probably be on your feet for most of the day at any given convention, so comfy shoes and clothes are necessary. If you’re cosplaying, keep an extra pair of shoes in your bag in case your platforms give out on you or your ankles need a break. Also, bring plenty of snacks that will hold up well in your bag. This will save you money (food on the floor can get pricey) and will keep you from trying to eat the person in front of you in line Walking Dead-style.

Know where you’re going. Read up on the host city ahead of time and find out where the nearby hospitals, pharmacies, restaurants, police stations, etc. are located. If you don’t have a car, figure out how you’re going to get to and from the convention before you even get on the plane. Program the number of a local cab company and the convention center’s security department into your phone. You never know what’s going to happen while you’re away, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible.

Finally, set a budget for the whole summer and for each specific convention. Between registration, hotels, flights, and all the awesome stuff sold on the floor, cons can get pretty pricey. Figure out how much money you plan on spending ahead of time and keep track of how much you spend when you’re there. This way you’ll get what you want out of the convention without having to hitchhike home.

What are some convention season tips you’ve picked up over the years? Let me know in the comments. Have a safe and fun convention season, and I’ll see you this year at Vidcon!

studying college freshmen tips advice

Five Unconventional Tips for College Freshmen | BEDA Day 16

Congratulations! You got into college! You’re probably looking for some advice for your freshman year, right? I’ll save you some time and tell you that a lot of these posts will offer the same advice: set ground rules with your roommate, introduce yourself to new people, consider joining Greek life, pack light, etc. While this is all great advice, I’ve come up with some of my own tips for college freshmen and first-timers over the years. As a recent grad, I consider myself an semi-expert in the field. Emphasis on the “semi.”

1. You DO need to bring your giant teddy bear.

Most articles providing college tips will advise you to pack light, as dorm rooms are pretty tiny. While this is a good idea, it’s important to bring along some of the comforts of home. It’s nice to come back to your thousand-year-old teddy bear and pictures of your friends after a rough exam. Pack things that will make you feel comfortable in your new space, however large and embarrassing they may be. 

2. The weirder the club, the better.

Your school will probably hold an activities fair within the first few days of the semester. Here you can get to know some of the organizations on campus and sign up for their mailing lists. Activities fairs may sound lame, but they’re definitely worth attending, if anything for the (almost guaranteed) free food. Get on the mailing lists of the weird clubs, like the paranormal investigations group or the lightsaber dueling team. You’re bound to meet interesting people here, and even if you don’t join the club you’ll leave the first meeting with a few new Facebook friends.

3. STUDY.

This seems obvious, but so many students write academics off freshmen year. DON’T DO THAT. The grades you get this year do affect your GPA and lay the groundwork for the rest of your academic career. If you build up a solid cumulative GPA this year, you’ll have something to fall back on when have to take harder courses as an upperclassman. Bio 101 may be grueling, but it’s worth it to show up. You may actually learn something.

4. Don’t force a friendship with your roommate.

Unless you’re going to the same college as your best friend from high school or you found the perfect roommate online, it’s likely that the person sleeping in the bed next to you will be a complete stranger chosen at random by university housing. Maybe you’ll have a few things in common, but you probably won’t be best friends forever. This is okay. Focus on living (somewhat) harmoniously with this person rather than forcing them to be your friend. Give your roommate some space and, above all, COMMUNICATE.

5. Be genuine.

College is a time to start fresh and leave your high school self behind – or at least that’s what I’ve been told. Some people see this as an opportunity to craft a new persona far from who they actually are. When meeting new people, be yourself, and be genuine. You don’t have to come up with new stories to make yourself sound cool to the people you meet your first year of school. Cliche as it sounds, the right people will think you’re awesome just the way you are.

Do you have any unconventional tips for freshman? Let me know in the comments! Best of luck next year, future freshbabies! 

Disregard Misogynists, Acquire Funds #EqualPayDay | BEDA Day 12

Today is Equal Pay Day, a day in which women around the world work to raise awareness about the gender pay gap. In case you were wondering, the gender pay gap is real. Period. End of Story. We should not be debating this anymore.

In the United States, women make $0.79 for every dollar a man makes. That gap widens for women of color, mothers, and transgender individuals.  Ask your friends, ask your coworkers, ask your mom: they’ll probably have some personal experience with income inequality. Sure, we can populate higher-paying industries and negotiate all we want, but this problem is not going away. It’s a thing, and if you don’t believe me, go read this article on elle.com immediately.

As someone just getting started in her career, reading about the wage gap and seeing it in action is incredibly disheartening. Somehow, my work is less valuable because I’m not a man. It is worth less for reasons I simply can’t change. Why is that? Because maybe I’ll pop out a kid someday? Because I’ll eventually have a man to rely on to feed and clothe me (God forbid I marry anyone else)? Or is it simply because I’m not wanted in the workplace?

What makes this all even more bananas is the fact that it is SO EXPENSIVE to be a woman. We get charged more for products that are literally just painted pink. I cry every month when I have to hand over $10 for a box of tampons. Once you add clothes, hair, and makeup it all gets kind of absurd. These things sound frivolous to complain about but it all comes down to a higher cost of living that our salaries can’t always cover.

So, what can we do about this? Personally, I’m working on being more confident in the workplace. Sticking up for yourself is hard, especially when you’re an anxious mess who has no idea what she’s talking about half the time. I’m working on the whole “fake it til you make it” thing and I know I’ll get there eventually. On a more global level, though, we can all help by speaking out about income inequality. I urge you all to have a conversation with your friends and family about this issue, and not just today. We need to take the stigma out of talking about money, and this is a good place to start. If you want to go even further (and you should), you can urge your representatives to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Not sure who to call? This site has you covered.

I know I’m subjecting myself to every awful reaction the internet has to offer by posting this, but let the yell all they want. I can’t just sit here anymore. It’s high time we fixed this.

 

Remembering Names is Hard | BEDA Day 10

Happy Sunday, blogees! I like to consider myself a pretty sharp person, but there’s one thing I’ve been struggling with recently: remembering people’s names. I can talk about shows in detail til the cows come home, but names seem to go in one ear and out the other. It was bothering me so much, that I just had to make a video about it.

On a different note, I’m not entirely sure what I’m doing with this whole YouTube thing. I still love making videos but the game has changed so much since I started vlogging in my dorm room five years ago. I don’t really have a niche or a brand. I’m personally fine with that, but it makes it hard to tell people what my channel is about. If anything, I guess my brand is “comedy vlogs about travel and 20-something life.” That’s kind of vague, I realize, but it’s as close to a genre as I’m going to get.

Enjoy this delve into my slightly dysfunctional brain. I hope you’re all having wonderful weekends!

Five for Friday | BEDA Day 8

I’ll be honest with y’all, today has been hard blogging-wise. I’m kind of hard up for ideas and don’t have a ton of time for a more in-depth post. So in light of this general Friday-ness, here are five things I’ve been digging this week.

Floss Gloss Nail Polish in Honey

Image courtesy of Floss Gloss

I’m an adult with a full-time job, so naturally I decided to throw some glitter nail polish on last night. I like to think I did it in an attempt to manifest the party for this weekend, since I’ve been a bit of a hermit this past week. I picked up Floss Gloss’s Honey last year at the BUST Craftacular Primped event, but I hadn’t actually used it until last night. I’m kind of obsessed now. It took a few coats, but it looks really nice even without another color underneath. Unfortunately, Honey is sold out on their website, but Floss Gloss has a ton of other fun colors to check out. The best part? All their nail polishes are 4 Free (formulated without Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Toluene, Formaldehyde & Formaldehyde Resin) and cruelty free. *throws glitter*

Sephora’s Love Note Shopping Event

Head’s up, makeup hoarders: if you’re a member of Sephora’s Beauty Insider loyalty program, there’s a sale going on JUST FOR Y’ALL now through Wednesday, April 13th. VIB Rouge members get 15% off with the code ROUGENOTE, VIB members get 15% off with the code VIBNOTE, and Beauty Insiders get 10% off with the code BINOTE. I already stocked up on some dwindling products this morning. So much for saving money this weekend. (P.S., don’t forget to shop with Ebates* for 4% cash back!)

The Path

Image courtesy of comingsoon.net

If you know me, you know I have a (totally healthy) fascination with cults. I find them incredibly interesting from a psychological point of view and have a tendency to fall down a Wikipedia rabbit hole researching cults gone awry. When I first heard about The Patha new series on Hulu about a growing “movement” in Upstate New York (why are they always in Upstate New York?), I knew I had to check it out. The show hasn’t disappointed so far, bringing great performances from Aaron Paul, Michelle Monaghan, and Hugh Dancy. Hulu releases a new episode every Wednesday, so I can’t properly binge it, but I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here.

A Few Good Reads 

Bookmark these articles for your weekend reading pleasure.

I Am Begging My Mother Not to Read this Blog: “Sucks to be you, Jyn Erso”
The Financial Diet: “I Don’t Care If They’re Chic: Capsule Wardrobes Stress Me Out
New York Times: “Going From Show to Show No More”

New Blog Features 

If you haven’t noticed (which you probably haven’t), I updated my “About” page and added an FAQ! If you’re new around here, I’d suggest giving them a look-see. I also added Disqus to make comments a little easier.

Speaking of comments, what are you excited about this weekend? Let me know below!

Photo Credit: kev-shine on Flickr

5 Amazing Podcasts for Your Commute | BEDA Day 5

As a fan of funny people talking in my ear on my way to work, I’ve really been enjoying the Podcast Renaissance. So many smart, funny people are launching their own shows on a range of topics. Not only do these shows make me laugh, they are also incredible educational tools that showcase the work of talented up-and-coming writers. My cup (or really, my Overcast feed) runneth over. Here are 5 podcasts I’ve been obsessed with lately.

The Ensemblist
Want to know what really happens behind the scenes at a Broadway show? Ever wonder what life is like for the ensemble members #werking it in that big musical number? The Ensemblist podcast, hosted by Nikka Graff Lanzarone and Mo Brady aims to give listeners “an inside look at all aspects of being on Broadway.” The show features interviews with seasoned Broadway professionals and newbies alike, with each episode focusing on one aspect of the business of show, such as the unions, being a parent and a performer, and live TV musicals. Each episode usually clocks in at less than 30 minutes, which, incidentally, is perfectly timed to my commute.

You Must Remember This
Guys, WHY did it take me so long to listen to this show? You Must Remember This, hosted by Karina Longworth, tells the secret history of old Hollywood, one episode at a time. I’m a huge nerd for Hollywood History, so I pretty much lost my mind the first time I listened to an episode. This season focuses on the Hollywood Blacklist, a direct result of the Communist witch hunts that took place after World War II. These stories are fascinating and still incredibly important. I’m loving this series so far.

Can I Pet Your Dog?
This podcast from Renee Colvert and Allegra Ringo was basically made for me. Each episode features these two funny ladies talking about their unabashed love for dogs. They also invite awesome guests like Noel Wells, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Lesli Margherita on to talk about their favorite dogs. Most of the time I just want to talk about dogs, so this show is perfect. Also, it’s part of the comedy and culture behemoth that is the Maximum Fun network, so you know it’s good.

Scriptnotes
I’ve been a Scriptnotes fan for going on 3 years now, and it remains one of the most consistently awesome podcasts in my feed. Hosted by screenwriters Craig Mazin and John August, Scriptnotes features conversations on the TV and film industry, writing craft, and basically everything interesting to screenwriters. When I was completing my undergrad program, the podcast was a great supplement to my classes. Now that I’m out of school, each episode keeps me up-to-date on the biz and motivates me to keep working. So thanks for that, John and Craig.

Spirits
Okay, so I’m obviously biased because this podcast is hosted by two of my friends, Amanda McLoughlin and Julia Schifini. However, I’d probably still recommend it even if I didn’t know them. In this podcast, Amanda and Julia enjoy some adult beverages and talk about mythology, legends, and lore. They only have a few episodes under their belts, but I’ve learned more in these episodes than I ever knew before about the myths and legends of Greece, Ireland, and the Philippines. Plus, they’re both hilarious. If you support them on Patreon (shameless plug), you’ll receive drink recipes catered to each episode. Yum.

What podcasts have you been loving recently? Let me know in comments! I’m always looking for new shows to add to my feed.