I always enjoy recapping my year through the media I’ve consumed every year. I have always connected specific songs to memories and it helped me track what month it was. In recent years, books have done the same. This year, I’ve felt overwhelmed, but simultaneously inspired by taking in all sorts of media. So here’s my first all-inclusive media recap + some random pics along the way
Kicked off the new year in a fun fashion accessory moment ~LASIK goggles~
Highly recommend LASIK. The worst of it was being bored while I had to just lay with my eyes closed for an entire day. Although it wasn’t much different than any other migraine day. I downloaded 17 hours of podcasts and here were the ones I remember:
How the Green M&M Got Sexy - Honestly I wanted to know and a few months later she was given sneakers, so we miss the miss
Stasher How I Built This - I’ve accumulated a good collection of stashers in the past year and needed to know how it was done
Hannah Einbinder on Mike Birbiglia's Working It Out - Go watch Hacks
Brene Brown with Brett Goldstein at ACL fest - Queue the Roy Kent song
When I wasn’t listening to podcasts, I listened to Skyward by Brandon Sanderson. Very much felt like Enders Game to me and loved a female lead, but not enough to continue reading the rest of the series. I also read Quinta Brunson’s She Memes Well. Proud day 1 Abbott Elementary fan, I was excited when I got her book as a secret santa gift. It inspired me to reflect on impactful media from my entire life and 11 months later we’re doing it all over again for only this year. [woozy face]
Lastly, MOULIN ROUGE. All I have to say is Elephant Love Medley.
Bonus: First farmers market haul (and now a tradition because local California produce is unmatched)
New Job ??!!
Spent Valentine’s Weekend in San Diego, eating a charcuterie board on Coronado beach followed by a wholesome day of hanging with the animals at the ZOO. ~connection time~ reminds me of the wholesomeness of the book I read House on the Cerulean Sea. It was a sweet story about a found family through the lens of a social worker visiting an orphanage of outcast children with interesting powers. Along with The Witcher, this book got me hooked on wanting to indulge/read/watch/ play/write fantasy.
Ended the month with a new job! Dove right in on two campaigns in my first week, which was terrifying but ultimately the best way to learn. I spent a few months feeling overwhelmed, but at the same time it has been really fun to work on something I’ve felt so passionately about for the past 3 years. It’s also exhausting and the most vulnerable I’ve felt in a job, because truly every idea I need to execute has come from a place of care and it’s sometimes difficult to know when to stop thinking about the depressing affairs of diversity in Hollywood.
To share a few excerpts from research I’ve read this year that has shaped my lens:
When it comes to casting the “hero,” the clear choice is the white boy (selected by 52% of all kids), compared to just 19% who cast a Black boy in the role. Hispanic and Asian boys fared worse, with just 12% of kids picking them as the hero. Girls are likely to land roles as the dancer, the crush or the cheerleader, but very clearly not the hero. Just 34% of kids cast girls in that role.
Television - Streaming Episodic Budgets
Compared to broadcast and cable, the digital platform provided creators with budgets that were much larger. Creators of color (66.6 percent) and White female creators (51.4 percent) were more likely to have smaller budgets under $3 million per episode than White male creators (38.8 percent).
White male creators also benefited the most at the higher end of the budget continuum, particularly with budgets more than $7 million per episode (21 percent).
I have random scribblings on diversity in Hollywood that should make itself to a blog post in the future sometime. I just tend to write in it when I'm angsty over cancellations (Los Espookys the latest tragedy)
Cherry Blossom Season
Spent some time at The Huntington because spring and read (some of) Bolu Babalola’s Love in Color - full of short romance stories. Speaking of love - Our Flag Means Death was a new take on a pirate’s tale focused on love. It was fun, fresh, and who doesn’t like Taika Watiti (apparently a lot of people after the Thor press run, but in this house we stan).
OK now Turning Red - I knew I was going to love this the moment I was in meetings where people decided to talk around the topic of periods in relation to the movie. The art was so cute and the boy-band-focused story line was so relatable to my thirteen year old self. Then entered Everything Everywhere All At Once. I think this movie was the first time I entered theaters since Onward in 2020 (don’t quote me on this). It was such an experience. I didn’t know what to expect in every scene which kept me engaged and excited the entire time. I often complain about movies being too long, but I had no complaints on this one. I just loved everything from hot dog hands to Michelle Yoeh real red carpet captures to the rocks. Speaking of Michelle Yoeh - a great Las Culturistas listen:
Motomami, Motomami, Motomami
April skewed my entire Spotify Wrapped for the entire year. It was Rosalia all of the time. I didn’t listen to her before, but just loved every song on her new album from start to finish.
Also watched But I’m A Cheerleader for the first time as I needed more Natasha Lyonne in my life after binging Russian Doll. The costumes and sets were perfect and got me hooked on listening to Silk Chiffon once again.
I was also on the search for any new sitcoms since I’ve outgrown How I Met Your Mother and stumbled across Living Single - which has the best theme song and uncovered my love for Queen Latiffah. I’m still slowly working through the episodes, but it holds up better than Friends (not sorry about it).
I read Olga Dies Dreaming - talk about dreaming and I’m there. Very much inspired by the idea of living in the subconscious. This book wasn’t much of that, but I learned more about Puerto Rican and NYC history - and how much the US fucked PR during Hurricane Maria and how we should continue to fight for them. I recommend following Bianca Graulau for more.
Return of the King (mouse)
First to continue Puerto Rico appreciation - Bad Bunny’s release of Un Verano Sin Ti was an iconic moment. It was the kick off to a summer full of dance music. Here are my top 3 that you didn’t ask for:
Otro Atardecer ft. the Marías
Tití Me Preguntó
Después de la Playa
Now the return of the mouse: Did a full Disneyland day followed by Karaoke, I don't know how, but it was a lot of fun.. Now a Paramount girl, I’ve been watching more Star Trek - Strange New Worlds and Lower Decks mostly. But I wonder if they’re represented in any parks? Or any Paramount properties? I know Top Gun would do numbers on the ride like Soarin x Avatar.
Also shoutout to Netflix for their crazy number of comedy shows in LA every April and May. This year we saw Fluffy at Dodgers Stadium and John Mullaney at The Hollywood Bowl. Shoutout to outdoor venues - I love you.
I saw my first volcano!!
June remains one of my favorite months every year because it is my birth month which I fill with activities.I got time to celebrate myself in LA by bringing my parents to an Ambar Lucid concert and celebrated my brother at his graduation! It was a fun family time filled week.
During my time off I spent time in the redwoods, reading, hiking a volcano (!!! Seriously check out Mount Lassen national park - we don't talk about her enough). And she got me so excited to watch Fire of Love which is on Disney+ right now - go watch now!
For highlight reads - Code Name Verity stole my heart and soul. A story where throughout the narrative you’re wondering who is telling the story, but you’re so engaged in hearing about these two badass women fighting in World War II. It’s adventure mixed with tragedy and will stick with me forever.
Driving through rainy mountains from one airbnb to another I remember listening to the podcast Skip Intro by Still Processing. The hosts talked about the intro songs to shows and how important / meaningful they are now given the ability to skip them on streaming platforms. One example they used convinced me to finally start watching the show Orange Is the New Black because I liked the song Animal by Regina Specktor so much. Conor has been recommending it for years and all he needed to do is play the theme song for me.
Summer Renaissance is her best album. It’s a fact, non negotiable. I love when an album feels distinct form other work. It felt fresh, new, yet still recognizable as Beyonce. The use of sampling made us all open our eyes to house music and the impact of queer black creatives. She understands trends, because she literally makes them. Well, I guess I’ll always want to listen to an album that makes me dance.
I also started listening to Hyphenated with Joanna Haussmann and Jenny Lorenzo. Hearing two Latinas talk about entertainment, weird aspects of their upbringing and life was like the perfect addition of weekly listening I needed. It’s interesting now too thinking how small things stick and influence future decision making. September spoiler: If I hadn’t listened to Hyphenated, I wouldn't have worked on my first kids TV show pitch. It was hearing Joanna speak about being a head writer on a new animated Disney Channel show that made me realize we can tell our stories in any medium. Given I was already watching so much kids animated content lately of course I wanted to spend my time thinking about a show I would love to exist.
Ran a freaking 10K
Time wasn’t impressive but wasn’t last in my age group so that’s good enough for me. Linking the playlist that Conor and I listened to while sharing AirPods, which I'm shocked we didn't drop at some point. I do want to mention that if Silk Chiffon by Muna was not on this playlist that’s the reason why I didn't do better.
Over the vacation while I wasn’t running or eating, I was finally watching the latest season of Stranger Things. It was good, but I feel like I have nothing much to add that hasn’t already been said on the internet. Only that Max is the best character and I’m glad she was truly the main character this season.
Spending time with a friend finishing her PHD opened my curiosity and love for learning again. It was fun to sit in a library bar and philosophize and follow threads of curiosity. I picked up a copy of Figuring by Maria Popova and realized I had been following her newsletter for a few years, but hadn't fully been appreciating the depth.
I think this is when I also finished The Bone Witch - I was looking for a new engaging fantasy, and this hit all of the boxes. Romance not at the center of the story, but a fun side plot. Creepy/spooky elements, but wholesome characters. I don't really know when I read this, even though I recommended it to literally everyone because the only note I wrote for this was:
Enjoyed will check out more
Submitted a Nickelodeon TV Pitch??
Early bonus: a look at our dining area which we painted, hung our Pothos and got a cute little bookshelf for.
Starting in August I did the Hollywood thing and submitted my first TV pitch. Nothing came of it, but it was fun to be vulnerable for a time, like crying before showing tv development friends my ideas. In all honesty though, I loved it. It was fun to think about characters and a world unlike our own. Debating whether or not to embarrass myself by linking it. Maybe one day 50 years from now.
It also meant watching a ton of Nickelodeon shows, listening to an event with one of the creators of Avatar the Last Airbender, and analyzing pilots instead of only seeking entertainment from them. It was interesting to compare older shows, like Rocket Power to newer animated shows like Star Trek Prodegy - there’s a different depth from the characters and plot. Avatar pilot still holds up and is unmatched in any show start.
As for books - I finished Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, but wish I finished Yolk. But the girl I want to talk about is The Magic Fish. A graphic novel a friend recommended that was meant for middle schoolers and Amanda. I loved the visuals, the integration of fantasy stories and a kid growing up in the 90s with immigrant parents. The emotional investment was felt immediately.
Also forced Conor to watch Los Espookys with me after hearing Julio Torres and Ana Fabrega on apparently the only podcast I listen to, Las Culturistas. I’m glad I did because learning that Tati is the one showrunning and directing is the funniest reality we live in.
Also won tickets to the first Primavera Sounds festival in LA and saw my faves live: Lorde, Girl in Red, and Mitski!
She's a fiancé
October just stays my favorite, probably because I always push all fall plans to land solely in this month. For example, I already know my plans for October 2023 and I am HYPE. This year was especially special. I kicked off the month celebrating my favorite person, my sister. Her wedding was the most beautiful, lovely, stress-free day and it’s really all because of the energy she gave to everyone. I happy cried a lot.
I did some traveling, which means lots of airplane reading (and dorky sunset pics). Enter the second in the Bone Witch trilogy - The Heart Forger. I was hooked. It’s rare that I would like the second book in a series more than the first, but this one held up. Now better understanding the bone witch character, it was fully engaged in the storyline digging deeper into her motivations and some of the action happening in the present.
When I got back to LA, I had 3 days to binge listen to a lot of Conan Gray getting ready for his concert at the Greek! JK I had been listening all year, loving every track from the new album Superache. It was my first time at the venue and seeing Conan live. He was an amazing performer. Followed by another big milestone this year was celebrating 7 years with Conor. Everyone (including myself) is surprised when I mention we’ve been together that long. No surprise to anyone, we spent another weekend in our favorite city: San Diego.
As you already know from the top - to celebrate in true style, we got engaged! Cheers to 7 years!! Blog exclusive pic to my 1 reader of right after it happened note I definitely cried.
Of course spent the month watching Halloween favorites including Practical Magic (linking the playlist below because it still slaps), watching The Craft for the first time (sadly unimpressed), watching Casper on the plane (no comments at this time), and a What We Do In The Shadows marathon on Halloween and dressing up like Nadja.
Edit: Came here to also recommend the best show I've seen this year which I forgot to write about because I binged it in a day. We Are Lady Parts on Peacock !! Run don't walk!!
I haven’t eaten any pumpkin yet and don't think I will
Something I watched a lot: Scissor Seven. I think I started on a random episode in early season 2 and watched through fully for the second time. Rohnny Chieng is so funny, and the short episodes are digestible Cartoon Network style, while still feeling meaty. It’s the perfect mix of silly and serious.
Then I listened through Illegally Yours by Rafael Augustin. I can’t even tell you much about my 2 days while listening because nothing much was dont besides listening. I was hooked on his every word. Again a perfect mix of comedy and serious and I appreciate his writing style. You can definitely hear it in Jane the Virgin, which he was a writer on. It inspires me to write, which is perfect as this month is the most I’ve ever written.
Brief mention of tummy problems only to shout out the best grain free tortillas: Siete. I listened to a podcast with the founder. It was bite sized and amazing to hear their story. I forgot entrepreneurship was something I really used to delve into all of the time and now I’m all about entertainment.
Enter what is my favorite show from the year (with some recency bias). WEDNESDAY - The way the show is set up and written through the point of view of Wednesday writing her own mystery novel was absolute perfection and relevant given the amount of writing I was doing. This show is a bit personal too - I have always struggled with relating to characters on TV. The first that comes to mind is Bob from Bob’s Burgers and I just need better representation for myself than a grumpy dad. Enter Wednesday Addams - played by the ridiculously talented Jenna Ortega. Conversationally, I can be very monotone, so it’s always been easy to act as if I don’t care. When I was younger I turned off the emotional side of myself and focused on the weird. I continue embracing the lack of caring about what others think of me (although more difficult as an adult than child). I am rooted in the fact that I don’t live by others definitions, actually always found labels to be limiting.
Hoppy holidays xoxo gossip girl
I’ve decided to write this in reverse chronological order, but posting it still in order (my treat). So here you are! At your end and my beginning. I started writing around Thanksgiving, but by the time I post thing, it’ll really be December.
Starting off with something from Nov, but that I know will carry me through this month: Greta Gerwig on Dua Lipa’s podcast. I just needed to hear everything she said:
About her experience and passion for seeing specifically women directing and writing stories
Writing about what you know and where you grew up
How she writes all of the time every day, even mid conversation
Every step of her career she felt a bit of imposter syndrome (I think she articulates well without using the over-used impasta word like I just did)
One weekend in Dec and it's already solid. Got in my Black Friday orders - great buys at Madewell, jacket from Banana Republic, and Reformation dress from the RealReal. Nothing feels quite as good as new clothes for me.
Saw Elf at an outdoor screening with vegan cinnamon rolls (I ate 2 and have no regrets) and also went back to San Diego to hang out all day with the animals at the zoo. An axolotl was caught (in my heart) and I spent a good hour staring at turtles
The other thing that I will continue talking about all month long is Spotify Wrapped. I always love this time of year as it provides me an easy way to find out what everyone around me is listening to without me having to ask incessantly. So many new artists have been saved. For my own, Rosalia took the crown. But had some old and new faves in there too. I was surprised by King Princess, but I had been listening to the Cheap Queen album quite a bit and then dove right in on the new release Hold On Baby.
Some songs that deserve an honorable mention that weren't on the top 5:
Space Out by Elie Dixon
How Does Your Girlfriend Feel About It by Chloe Lilac
Oh My God by Adele
Feet Don’t Fail Me Now by Joy Crookes
Dancing in the Moonlight by Jubel and NEIMY
Lastly, some December things I’m excited for:
Still obsessing over Joy Crookes (& radio spotify)
Being excited over cute Pokemon while Conor plays the new game
Edit: Here to share an adorable pic of Chewy, Conor and Me!
As I’m writing this, I’m coming from an emotional low that quickly followed an emotional high. This has been a consistent pattern and I finally hit the breaking point last month. Gemini problems, am I right. I’m also coming to you from tummy problems central - the amount of diets I've failed at is tragic and I feel sick eating things that used to make me the most happy. For the majority of days this year I have been in some sort of combo of nausea, physical pain, and migraines.
I have never felt this physically and emotionally exhausted, and yet inspired, passionate, and creative. All of the hours of media and creative works of others have only made me more creative and driven to make an impact, even if grumpy at times. It's felt like more than any other year that in this one everything I read, listened to, and watched felt like it impacted me in some greater way. Maybe I’ve just been too introspective though and giving meaning to everything, while realizing that nothing really matters, except for this: