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A Concert for Charlottesville

Two weeks ago, my friend Katherine called me on a lazy Sunday afternoon and asked what I would be doing the following Sunday. For once, I actually didn’t have much planned that weekend so I told her I was totally free, and she subsequently invited me to A Concert for Charlottesville hosted by The Dave Matthews Band at Scott Stadium on September 24th.  And it was with that invitation that I had the privilege of going to this night of music and unity.

I was both incredibly excited because this was technically a free concert with musicians that I would probably never get see perform live because of distance or money or impracticability, but also uneasy or perhaps, uncomfortable is a better word. While what happened at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville on August 11th and 12th didn’t directly affect me because I wasn’t there and I don’t live in Charlottesville and I didn’t go to college at UVA, I still felt the subsequent ripples of pain because Virginia is my home, and I know Charlottesville well. Once the dust had settled and the victims started being identified and interviewed. I realized that I played softball as a child with Marissa Blair, the woman who was pushed to safety by her fiance, Marcus Martin. This face I knew from a young age was plastered over the news stations, distraught from the horror of the attack but also fiery with the injustice of everything that took place in Charlottesville that day.

So when amazing and talented musicians come to town to put on a benefit concert and I happen to get invited, I wonder how sincere it is. I wonder if my being there is right. I wonder if we are doing the right thing to honor Heather Heyer or if we’re distorting healing and justice with pageantry.

Honestly, I don’t know the answer to these questions. I do know that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. (Justin Timberlake was so amazing! The Roots were phenomenal! Chris Martin from Coldplay and Stevie Wonder were there!) I do know that I was moved by many of the statements and songs and poems. I do think that every artist that came out on that stage was moved to perform for this specific concert because of a desire to help in whatever way their skills and gifts allowed.

It was a night of authenticity and sincerity while also being more complicated because music doesn’t heal physical wounds or change people’s worldview. I think it’s important to remember when you’re enjoying yourself in your bubble of safety with like minded people that there is an outside. That coming together is wonderful, but you then have to be able to go back out into the world and advocate for change. Many people are doing this. And many people like myself are not doing enough because we don’t know how or are afraid to leave our comfortable bubbles.  But nothing great was ever done or injustice solved by staying in your bubble.

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Fall 2017 TV Show Round-Up!

Somehow the summer has slipped away from me, and it’s fall again. Even though I’m sad to see the warm weather and beach days replaced by cooler temperatures and Halloween candy, fall does bring one of my favorite parts of the year: new seasons for my favorite TV shows! I’m always excited to see what creative minds have cooked up for my favorite characters and worlds. So let’s dive into some of my favorite shows (and shows I’m considering trying out this season) and see where we left off!

The Mindy Project

Tuesdays on Hulu starting Sept. 12

I’m such a fan of The Mindy Project. And I’m sad to see it in it’s final season, but I’m so glad it didn’t get canceled without any kind of closure. Last season was an interesting one with a lot of changes and the deeply felt absence of Danny. But I think the show did a great job of moving past that absence and onto more interesting topics and development of characters. Basically, I don’t know what to expect from the Mindy Project anymore and that’s the best part!

We ended last season with Mindy getting engaged to Ben (seemingly the “Happily Ever After” she’s always been pining for) and open this season with her already married and living that “Happily Ever After” that turns out to not be all that fun. The Ever After part isn’t what makes an interesting story, so where does a show about typical romance stories go from here? I have nothing but high hopes for this final season!

The Good Place

Tuesdays on NBC starting Sept. 20

Okay, if you’re not watching The Good Place then you are MISSING OUT! Kristen Bell. Ted Danson. Lots of death jokes. A healthy dose of cynicism. Absurd happenings. And it’s about the good side of the afterlife…right?

I haven’t felt a connection to a comedy show like this in a long time.  It’s a show about morality and good deeds, but it is SO MUCH MORE. And hilarious. And weird. And like The Mindy Project, I don’t know what to expect around each corner, which is what I really enjoy in a TV show.

I won’t give you a rundown of how season 1 ended just in case you haven’t seen it yet. (If not, go binge it on Netflix now!) If you have seen season 1, then you’re probably just as excited for what season 2 has in store for us!

(NOTE: Between writing this blog and posting it, I got to watch the season 2 premiere and it is EVERY bit as amazing as I had hoped. I am SO excited for this season!)

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Tuesdays on FOX starting Sept. 26

Last season ended with the OMG moment of Jake and Rosa actually being (wrongfully) convicted and sentenced to prison! We’ve had dire season finale’s before (like when Jake and Holt had to go into the witness protection program last year), but there always seemed to be an obvious resolution (aka “Catch the Bad Guy”). But this particular ending feels much more out of their hands since they did their best detective work and still got outsmarted. And now they’re in jail.  So it looks like it might be up to the rest of the team to figure out how to right this wrong and bring them home!

While I have pretty good faith that the Nine-Nine team is up for the task and Rosa and Jake won’t be spending too long in prison (I imagine, 3 or 4 episodes? I think that’s how long Jake and Holt were in Florida.) I do think it could give the show an opportunity to breathe and highlight the rest of the cast. One of the biggest issues I’ve had with Brooklyn Nine-Nine in the last season or so is that Charles Boyle’s character has become something of a caricature of his original self. He offers a lot more than physical comedy gags and being the butt of every joke. Can we bring back a little more heroic Charles, please?

This is Us

Tuesdays on NBC starting Sept. 26

Bring on the feels (and the tears) people! I am so ready for this! From the moment I saw the trailer for season 1 last year, I knew something special was happening. And not a single episode disappointed me. (In fact, I’m not sure if there was a single episode I didn’t cry in!) This is Us is a masterful show of emotion. I’m so invested in all the characters and what their stories have revealed so far. I’m afraid for what’s going to happen to Jack (because Milo Ventimiglia! *swoons*) I’m excited for anything and everything that involves Randall/Sterling K. Brown because he is a powerhouse on that show! And I love Kate like a sister, like myself. I connect with her insecurities on an intense level.

Basically I am SO READY for season 2!

Once Upon a Time

Fridays on ABC starting Oct. 6

Since OUAT season 6 wrapped up the main storyline with Emma Swan and we’re now jumping forward in time AND getting a new main character and storybook characters, I thought I’d save all my thoughts for its own dedicated blog post. Just know that while I’m sad to see so many of my favorite characters go, I’m excited for a new storybook and a revamp on the formula!

Riverdale

Wednesdays on The CW starting Oct. 11

So I waited until Riverdale was on Netflix over the summer to watch it, and OH MY GOSH I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS SHOW! It’s full of beautiful people and a sexy darkness without the supernatural element that was so customary for The Vampire Diaries. There’s murder and intrigue and mystery and plucky heroines trying to investigate and save the day. Basically it’s amazing, and Fred Andrews better not be dead! But whether he is or not, we’re definitely in for another amazing season.

I do worry about it falling into a sophomore slump like many shows do, but from everything I’ve seen so far, I have nothing but high hopes for higher stakes and more interesting stories. 

Jane the Virgin

Fridays on The CW starting Oct. 13

Jane the Virgin has a special place in my heart. I’ve loved it since the beginning and this last season was a rollercoaster. Jane and Michael got married! Michael got shot before they had sex! Michael didn’t die and Jane eventually got to lose her virginity! But Michael died from complications of that original gunshot wound. And it broke all our hearts. Even those who weren’t particular Jane and Michael shippers, I think we all knew the importance and sweetness of their relationship.

Then with a three year time jump, a fling with a sexy boy toy, and questioning whether she still had feelings for Rafael, I was actually a bit exhausted by the end of the season.  I enjoyed the time jump (it was needed!) But it also felt like something that should have happened between seasons and not midseason. Ultimately, it left the second half of the season feeling oddly disjointed for me as some episodes felt like filler while others were incredibly poignant.

I still have high hopes for this season though. Though the new promo leaves a bit to be desired in terms of what’s actually going to happen this season, I love Jane the Virgin for its wittiness and snark and telenovela charm.

 

What about NEW shows coming to your TV/streaming service this fall?

Also if you’re interested in NEW shows this 2017-2018 season, here’s what has caught my eye! (Though honestly, I already consume a fair amount of content. It’s probably going to have to turn out to be a breakout hit for me to add something else to my roster!)

The Good Doctor (Mondays on ABC starting Sept. 25) →  I’m a sucker for Freddie Highmore. He’ll always be the amazing musical prodigy from August Rush for me and so the idea of him being another savant/genius makes me especially intrigued. I also don’t have anymore medical dramas right now since I gave up on Grey’s Anatomy a few seasons back. I never really forgave them for killing Lexi and Mark. And after Derrick died…my heart just wasn’t in it anymore.

The Bold Type (Available on the Freeform app and Hulu) → So technically this was a summer breakout hit, but I wasn’t quite convinced at the outset to watch it, but after seeing several previews and reading about the buzz it was creating, it’s left me wanting to get on The Bold Type train. Since there are only 10 episodes, I’ll probably binge it sometime this fall in hopes of a second season!

The Gifted (Mondays on FOX starting Oct. 2) and Marvel’s Runaways (Tuesdays on Hulu starting Nov. 21) → So I have a thing for kids with superpowers stories. (I blame Disney’s Sky High and Static Shock honestly). Both of these shows have the kids with power premise although they seem like entirely different shows. The Gifted has the mythology behind X-Men and political allegories while still being a family drama. Marvel’s The Runaways seems ensemble and friendship-focused.  I’ll be interested to see how they’re received and whether it would be worthwhile to watch an episode or two and see if I like it!

Kevin (Probably) Saves The World (Tuesdays on ABC starting Oct. 3) → For some reason, I’ve always been intrigued by shows that explore Christian mythology. Joan of Arcadia and The Returned are a few that come to mind. Kevin (Probably) Saves The World has gotten my attention for this reason too as Kevin touches a meteor and then finds himself being able to see an angel who tasks him with learning to be selfless in order to save the world (or something along those lines.) I might give it a chance if I have some free time. We shall see!

The Shannara Chronicles (Wednesdays on Spike starting Oct. 11) → So technically this show isn’t new this season. But I did think it was dead since it premiered in 2015 for one season on MTV and then went on a weird year long hiatus but was never officially canceled. And yet, here we are! It’s now got a new lease on life for at least a season on Spike. I love a good fantasy show and though Shannara is by no means perfect, it intrigued me enough to stick through the whole first season. So I am excited to try out season 2 and see what a new network has to offer!


Any new shows this fall that have you hyped? Something you think I should check out? Let me know in the comments! I might just watch it and review it on my YouTube channel!

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Immune Disorders and Why I Can’t Seem to Take a Sick Day

Let me tell you a little bit about immune disorders.

  1. If you didn’t know…they suck. (But I imagine you could guess that.)
  2. It’s really easy (and almost mandatory these days) to suffer silently from them.
  3. Because you’re suffering silently. It’s difficult to justify taking a “sick day.”

My body is pretty much always in this strange and uncomfortable dance between “okay enough to manage daily life” and “immensely ill.” I’ve learned my body’s signs well enough to know when my immune system has started to get beaten down. Mouth ulcers are a tell-tale indicator. They usually come after an extended period of high stress. I start to get unbearably tired. Like falling asleep sitting at my desk at work when I’ve had 8 hours of sleep or more. Eventually comes the chills and the aching (despite not having a fever) if I let it get far enough.

Because I know these signs, I also know when to start beefing up my vitamin D and C and echinacea intake. I know when to try to start backing off from the stress and giving myself an extra 30 minutes of sleep here and there if I can spare it. Which means most of the time, I only ever get the ghost of sickness. Aching bones and a raw throat for a day, but a dose of NyQuil and a solid 8 hours of sleep later, I usually feel fine enough to go into work the next day.

Which is all fine and good, except that eventually those illness ghosts build up and it’s like three strikes and you’re out for me. I get almost unbearably sick. This usually happens over weekends or holidays or vacation time. It’s like I rally myself throughout the week and then the moment I can relax, my immune system puts down its defenses and voila! Illness strikes.

It’s exhausting. I mean, being some level of sick all the time because your body doesn’t quite understand the difference between good and bad cells and attacks things haphazardly (for me, this mostly results in random and painful inflammation in various parts of my body, hence, the mouth ulcers). But it’s even more exhausting to be constantly managing your level of sickness.

Like what level do I have to reach before I can say, “Okay, it’s time to take a day off and sleep and nourish and try to find a balance in my immune system.” I’m always putting it off though. I’m always thinking, “But what if tomorrow is WORSE.” Why waste your time now if tomorrow will be worse anyway? Or what if there will be a really BAD attack soon and I’ve wasted my sick days on “kind of bad” days?

This is a very real thing for me. In the winters of both 2008, 2012, and 2014, I got really sick. To the point where it hurt to move at all because my joints were so sore and swollen. I’m always worried that something like that will happen again (although since I have had a fair amount of testing since then, I could probably get a doctor to listen to me easier now and maybe find something to alleviate some of the symptoms faster). I’m always comparing the way I feel now to how I’ve felt at my worst. And since I barely took off work or school during those previous episodes, it feels disingenuous to do so now.

I’m like a squirrel storing up sick days (even though they don’t actually carry over year to year.)

I also have the problem of being an extreme HUSTLER. While maybe I could take time off from my professional job without much issue, YouTube is 24/7 and it causes me more stress than good to take a “sick day” from that. So if I still have to do YouTube things, why not just go into work and do everything else?

I am a never ending robot with a Duracell battery. And I am exhausted.

I’m trying to find a way to be okay with taking sick days and accepting that the way I present illness with an immune disorder is going to be different than Average Joe who doesn’t have any immune issues.

That it’s okay to take breaks. That it’s okay to take time now if I need it rather than storing it all for the unknown immune apocalypse. That it’s okay to feel bad if you feel bad. Even if you don’t seem so terribly ill on the outside, it does not mean that you’re “making it up” or “exaggerating” the illness you feel on the inside.

These are still things I’m trying to understand and believe and implement in my everyday life. It’s hard journey. But it’s a worthwhile one.

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Dogspotting Love

Last week on the blog, I shared with you my cat obsession. And this week I felt like I couldn’t leave out my other animal obsession: DOGS!  More specifically, a Facebook group called “Dogspotting Society” which has honestly changed my life for the better.

Social media in 2017 has pretty much been making a slow descent in the toilet bowl of life. In other words, it’s a REALLY negative place to be these days. Between the constant deluge of Trump headlines, natural and humanitarian disasters, and vitriol spewed in online comments, there’s not much hope hanging out on the Internet these days. Compound that with my own insecurities so that I’m always comparing myself to others and their picture-perfect lives, and you’ve got a cocktail for unhappiness.

But…what if your newsfeed was mostly something you enjoyed looking at. Like dogs, for example? What if it was mostly people posting pictures and videos of their dogs doing silly things? What if it was telling funny or crazy or sad stories about what their dogs did recently? What if it was support for when your pup crosses over the rainbow bridge?

Well that’s what I found in Dogspotting Society, and it’s the absolute best! To give you a little taste of the awesomeness, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite photos and trends!

I love the photoshop requests and their results:

I love the memes:

I love how someone finds a cool app like Patternator or Ditty and then we get an influx of posts with everyone’s dogs starring in their own music videos or wallpapers:

I love it when photographers show off their skills and love for dogs:

I love to boop the snoot!

I love the lingo:

I love when people dress up their pups in costumes and how heckin’ concerned they look with it!

I love when people decorate photos of their dogs with stickers and truly show how much they love them:

I love how we get to know many of the dogs personalities through the posts! (e.g. Momo and how he’s ALWAYS WATCHING).

I love seeing pups with (safely) dyed fur and all the cool ways that people groom their dogs!

But most of all I love that a group like this has helped me turn something that caused me a lot of anxiety and obsessive thoughts into something that brings me joy, laughs, and relaxation. Honestly, if we’re going to use social media, that’s really what I think it should be about. It’s created a community for people who might feel disconnected in many other ways in their life, but can come together with others in a shared love of dogs. It’s a wonderful and magical thing to witness. Consider joining the group if you’re up for being friendly and excellent social dog loving. Or if cats are more your thing, consider joining the sister group, Catspotting Society! (I’m personally in both because who could get enough pet posts?)

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Painting with Cats

It’s kind of like “Running with Wolves” or “Swimming with Dolphins” but much less majestic and a lot more messy.

So one of the things that’s been on my “Bucket List” is going to a cat cafe. I always figured I’d have to go to New York City or a more trendy, metropolitan area in order to experience anything like it, but fortunately, some fellow cat lovers opened one right here in Richmond! Hooray! It’s a combination of a cafe “Central Purrk” with an adjacent lounge called “Zoomies.” They charge admission in half hour and hour long increments, and you’re welcome to purchase items at the cafe and then bring them over to play with the cats!

Essentially, it’s Kaitlyn heaven.

But it gets even better because they use the cat-centric space for other fun activities like Yoga with Cats, Movie Night with Cats (where they show movies about cats, of course), and Cat Paint Night. This last activity I had the privilege of attending, and it was all around one of my favorite experiences, and I plan to go back soon!

I first have to point out that I wasn’t going to go to a cat-themed activity and NOT dress appropriately. And by that I mean, I had to wear this super cute cats in space dress. It’s pretty much my favorite thing right now because CATS and SPACE and PURPLE. It’s glorious. (You can get it for yourself at Modcloth if you’re as cat-obsessed as me!)

In fact, it was so much of a hit that one of the cats mistakenly assumed my dress was another cat and pounced on it!

I started out the evening by having a few minutes to pet the kitties and then we jumped right into painting! We had several cat-themed pieces we could choose from and I ultimately went with this cat drinking coffee at the edge of a table one. I modeled mine after sweet Sir Finnegan since he wasn’t there to join in on the fun. (Not that he would have wanted to, but I can dream). I even made sure to add in his iconic “under-the-nose” smudge.

Because we were working with acrylics and you have to wait a bit between layers for the paint to dry, I had ample time to play with the kitties between coats. JJ, this stubby-tailed orange tabby was especially curious and even accidentally jumped into my paint dish and tracked paw-prints over the countertop for a bit. (He was mostly interested in getting to the cups of water we had out for cleaning our brushes which was NOT cat-friendly drinking water!) It was pretty much the quintessential “painting with cats” moment!

After we’d finished our paintings there was also plenty of time for kitty cuddles and to really see the cats’ personality’s shine. Elliot, the only kitten of the bunch, was a fan favorite because of his colorings and his sweet and cuddly personality. I also had the triumph of being able to pet Ozzie (a rather skittish Maine Coon looking cat that was taking some time to warm up to people). And Jaina, one of two black cats at Zoomies, was an absolute doll. She had to show everyone that she was the BEST wheel runner. JJ was probably the most sociable and chill of the cats. He spent most of the evening snoozing on the top of a cat tree right next to me.

Basically it was all around amazing and everyone needs to check out their local cat cafe. Animal rescue groups are doing some amazing things these days in terms of connecting with the community in fun, new ways that’s ultimately leading to more pets being adopted (And less euthanized! Yay!)

So go play, pounce, and paint with your favorite local kitties!