Favorite Podcasts

I’m going to be honest, this blog post is being written because my sociology professor asked me if I had a list of my favorite podcasts somewhere and I realized I did not. (Hi, Matt!)

I’m currently subscribed to 31 podcasts, although two are election-based and will be over with the November election. I have narrowed it down to 10 favorites, divided up by category. (Yes, that’s a third of the shows I listen to. I just can’t narrow it down any more, okay?)

 

Two Dudes Talking

“Hello Internet” with CGP Grey and Brady Haran

The show that originally got me into podcasts, a semi-regular extensive conversation about YouTube, flags, plane crashes, robots, Star Wars, and anything else they feel like talking about.

“Cortex” with Myke Hurley and CGP Grey

Kind of like Hello Internet, except we’ve replaced the Australian with a Londoner and have a slightly more focused set of topics. Grey and Myke talk about how they get work done as independent content creators.

“Analog(ue)” with Casey Liss and Myke Hurley

Myke and Casey talk about their lives.

 

Advice and Information

“Bad With Money” with Gaby Dunn

This is a pretty new show and it’s fantastic. Gaby Dunn, who I was already familiar with from her work on YouTube, deals with her own money issues and interviews people about their money issues. Roxane Gay was on an episode, so it automatically gets five stars from me (but also, it’s great).

“Dear Hank and John” with Hank and John Green

Hey, I also know these people from YouTube! Hank and John Green are delightful people and they host a comedy podcast about death. This show is hilarious and sometimes actually has good advice, too.

 

News and Pop Culture

“Call Your Girlfriend” with Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow

Every other week Ann and Amina talk about current events, on the off weeks one does an interview with a really awesome lady (and occasional man).

“The Incomparable” with Jason Snell

Jason Snell hosts a rotating cast of nerds who dissect a different piece of media each week.

“Rocket” with Brianna Wu, Simone de Rochefort, and Christina Warren

Insightful and amusing conversations about news and tech.

 

Other

“Top Four” with Tiff and Marco Arment

Marco and Tiff rank their top four things in different categories (or at least, sometimes it’s their top four. Often it’s not, because *someone* is terrible at making a 1-4 list).

“Welcome to Night Vale” with Cecil Baldwin

I have no explanation for Welcome to Night Vale, it’s beautiful, brilliant, weird, and occasionally terrifying.

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XOXO

One week ago, I left for my first, and possibly last, XOXO festival. If you’re not familiar with XOXO, you can read about it here, but I think it’s hard to really understand what it’s all about without attending. It’s defined on the website as an “experimental festival,” which I suppose is true. Every year, XOXO founders Andy Baio and Andy McMillan (who will be referred to as “the Andys” from here on in) make changes to the structure and content of the festival based on the previous year. I don’t know of any other conference that includes free drinks (including creative non-alcoholic cocktails, thank you so much, sincerely, an underage college student), dedicates larges amounts of time and space to socializing with other attendees, and curates an incredible lineup of not just speakers but games (both of the video and tabletop variety), films, and live shows.

The main focus on this blog post is going to be the talks and social experience of XOXO, but I need to take a moment for the food, because oh my god. I’m used to going to conventions where no matter how great the programming is, the food is terrible and overpriced. XOXO had a rotating lineup of specially curated food trucks that all served delicious, interesting, and reasonably priced food. Although it was all phenomenal, I have to give a special shout-out to Perierra Creparie from which I had three crepes in three days, and to Pip’s Doughnuts that were so delicious I am dreaming about them still.

Anyway! The conference started in the most XOXO way possible, which was a friend from Twitter picking me up from the airport and driving me to Revolution Hall. Shout out to Kathy Campbell for saving me the cost of a taxi and also not axe-murdering me and/or stealing all of my possessions.

From that moment until the very end, XOXO was spectacular. The talks were honestly more than I ever imagined. Listening to genuine, heartfelt talks until 5:00pm left me feeling emotionally drained at the end of each day in a way I hadn’t expected. I could write pages upon pages about each talk, but I wanted to focus on the main theme I noticed running through most of them: valuing yourself.

Several talks this year focused explicitly on making money as an independent creator. Gaby Dunn spoke about reading contracts and getting good deals as an artist, without giving away your work or ideas. David Rees broke down all the money he’s made in the past fifteen years and where it all came from. Lucy Bellwood, in one of my favorite talks of the weekend, confessed that amid all her fantastic creative success, her biggest achievement of the year was getting off food stamps.

Even more than the dollar amounts, however, these talks were about valuing yourself as a person and as a creator. What does it mean to be successful as an artist? Does it mean supporting yourself entirely from independent work? Does it mean getting rich off of your art? Does it mean being a “starving artist” and never “selling out?”

No speaker offered clear answers or solutions. Instead, they left me with the sense that it was okay to not know. It's okay to struggle or to make money, it's okay to accept money for art that you make, it's okay to need help. Independence is lonely. We can all help each other.

While the talks alone were excellent, what really made XOXO stand out above and beyond were the social components. The Andys maintain a Slack channel year-round with all past and present XOXO attendees who wish to take part. What this channel meant was that before I even arrived in Portland, there were people I wanted to connect with and meetups I wanted to attend. Over the course of XOXO, I met so many interesting people who, somehow, were all incredibly kind.

I also got to chance to properly talk to a lot of people whose work I followed for a long time. For example, take Myke Hurley. Over the course of XOXO, Myke went from someone I knew on Twitter whose work I admired to the person who I KNEW was the goddamn werewolf but noooo they chose to kill me instead so we all lost instead come ON

Ahem. Anyway.

How can I sum up what XOXO was? It was about independent creators. It was about financial, emotional, and mental insecurity. It was community and connections. It was recognizing how much our fears are alike. It was missing the entire film and animation lineup because I was too busy laughing my ass off, playing card games with new friends. It was feeling so emotional after the talks that I took a mile walk with a friend and only stopped when we found an amazing hill to roll down. It was being inspired and encouraged not in the typical “just follow your dreams!” way, but in the “I’m just a person. You’re just a person. We can do this and do it together” way.

XOXO isn't coming back next year. It might not come back at all. I know that whatever the Andys do in their lives, it'll be unique and wonderful, but I also can't help but to wish that XOXO will return someday.

Even if it never does, I’ll never forget the fundamental lesson of XOXO, the one that the Andys left us with on Sunday: we are not alone.

Empathy

    I’m an empathetic person.

    I’m not trying to claim this as a virtuous trait and compliment myself. I’m saying that I act unconsciously as a kind of mirror, or sponge, for the feelings of people around me. It verges on ridiculously easy to cheer me up simply by directing cheerfulness towards me. By the same token, I am near useless at cheering other people up without concerted effort, as I pick up their melancholy as if it were my own.

    Somehow, I soak up more than just emotion. Sometimes I feel like I am made entirely out of other people’s thoughts and opinions, pasted together into a semi-functional human whose most prominent views are whichever ones I was exposed to most recently. I listen to impassioned speeches and are driven to their causes. I watch beautiful videos and mimic their production styles. I read excellent prose and my thoughts transform into others’ voices, pushing me to write as viscerally as others, even though I feel like a fool for trying.

    This may also be the reason I have so much trouble reading accounts of tragedy in the world. On one hand, people can shut down their empathy. We can read news headlines with blank faces, shake our head at the world, and move on. But when I stop for a moment to think about the people that were harmed, whether it was a terrorist attack or natural disaster or murder or rape or any other atrocity humans routinely commit on other humans, I can’t help but remember their humanity. I think about how I am a mess of emotions and contradictions and memories and I’m so full of dreams and goals and plans I’m fit to burst. I know that I’m not any more alive or important than any other human, which means that everyone else is full of life and love and I can’t stand knowing what crimes have been committed to their bodies, their hopes, their lives. I try not to think about that when I read the news, because I just don’t want to accept pain that is not necessary for me to bear.

    But is this pain necessary? Do we have to feel for other people in order for the world to get better?

Honestly, I think that we do. We have to recognize the essential humanity of other people. There are so many problems in this world that are caused by not thinking about and treating other people as complete human beings.

    This leads me to more questions, personal questions about my own life. Making things makes me happy. In my life the only things that consistently fill me with genuine fulfillment and happiness are creating nice things and spending time with people I love. However, I don’t know if I could live with myself if I didn’t spend a large part of my life helping others. There is so much in this world that needs help, how can I not? How can I not choose a career that allows me to devote as much time as possible to bettering the world?

    I don’t know. Maybe none of us know. Can we figure it out together?

Low-Information Diet

I was inspired to write this blog post by a video from Derek of Veritasium, which you can watch here. In it he talks about constantly consuming news on his phone, and discusses several different ideas like the distraction economy and a low-information diet.

I have a similar problem to Derek: if I spend too much time in a day looking at social media and articles online, I feel weighed down. It’s very similar to how I feel if I eat too much greasy food or go too long without exercising. I feel bad in a visceral way, and the only way to heal it is to get my head out of that digital space-- to work on a project, read a book, or even go for a walk outside.

I do think that being informed is important, and with the 2016 election quickly approaching I think it’s more important than ever. However, there’s a difference between staying informed on important issues and world events and over-saturating yourself with information. For me, the main problem is social media. I am constantly checking different social media apps on my phone. Right now my primary problem is Twitter, because it’s the most interesting and updates the fastest. I use social media and YouTube both as a procrastination tool (when I should be doing something productive) and a distraction tool (when I’m waiting for something).

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of reflexively checking twitter every time I have a spare 30 seconds. I’m tired of being plugged into everything that’s going on in the world. I’m tired of this election (isn’t everyone…?). And so I’m going to follow Derek’s lead and go on a low-information diet… sort of.

I’m not going to cut everything out. Because, to be quite honest, I don’t want to. But I am going to cut back, by recognizing that my time and attention is valuable-- it’s the most valuable thing I have to give. I shouldn’t be giving it to Facebook and Tumblr and random YouTube videos. I should be giving it to the projects I’m working on and the books I want to read.

From now on instead of checking in small bites throughout the day, I will only check social media, videos, and news in three chunks: in the morning, after work/class for the day, and before I go to bed. That may sound like a lot but it’s actually a big cut-down for me… When I’m bored or waiting for something, I will either just let my mind wander, like Derek advised, or practice Chinese on the app I literally have on my phone and is fun but I never do it because I’m always checking Twitter instead.

I like to make things. That’s pretty much my whole deal here. I want to create content that is worthy of other people’s time and attention. To help me do that, I’m going to focus on the content that I decide is worthy of my own.

Flying

Like The Hobbit shouldn’t have, this blog post comes to you in three parts.

First of all, I am going to XOXO this year! From everything I’ve heard, XOXO is a spectacular conference and festival for creators-- artists, coders, podcasters, everyone. There’s a lottery for tickets and I thought I didn’t get one, but it turns out I got in in the second round. It was actually a huge surprise because I thought I had lost my chance, but happened to look at the XOXO twitter, where there was a link to check your ticket status. I clicked on it and to my IMMENSE shock there was an order form waiting for me. I checked three different ways to make sure it wasn’t a fluke! Adding to my incredible luck, between my summer program and my scholarships, I am going to get about $500 back from tuition this semester-- just enough to buy an XOXO pass.

I do, however, still have to pay out of pocket for hotel, food, and flights, and that brings us to part two-- flying.

I love flying. Some people are scared of flights and I totally understand that, but something about the sensation of being in the air makes me smile. I get the window seat whenever possible so I can look out the window the entire takeoff and landing, especially at night. I stare at the lights of the city getting smaller and smaller until we break through the clouds. This time at least one of my flights will be a red-eye, and I’m incredibly pleased that I’ll be able to see Portland from above at night.

And that’s part three: Portland, Oregon. I’m an east coast kid and have never been farther west than Kansas. Portland is, allegedly, the hipster capital of the world. I’m excited to be there for XOXO and to hopefully explore Portland a little bit. I’d love to make it a larger trip and go down to San Francisco, but unfortunately, I’m probably already going to miss a day of class by going to XOXO-- straight there and back for me!

While these are technically three different topics, it’s really all about flying. Traveling to the other side of the country, attending a conference I’ve never been to before, and taking my longest solo flight are ways to figuratively and literally fly: while sacrifices of time and money must be made to go on this adventure, I can’t think of anything more worth it.

I Cry A Lot

Actual reasons that I have cried:

  • I was told I couldn’t eat peanut butter
  • I wanted to see fireworks
  • I listened to Les Miserables
  • I told someone about something sweet I read about (this actually happens all the time, I don’t feel emotional at all reading it and then I describe it to someone else and bam!)
  • I listened to Hamilton
  • I realized someone had spilled some of the soil from my aloe plant
  • I felt sad for no discernible reason
  • I felt angry for no discernible reason
  • I saw a cute commercial
  • I listened to Rent
  • I thought about Rent
  • I thought about Jonathan Larson

Those times were just mostly when I was tired, stressed, and crying for silly reasons, but I also cry a lot from legitimately upsetting emotions-- just at a lot more frequent rate than the average person. Crying is my body’s natural response to whenever I have a lot of virtually any emotion, whether that be sadness, anger, frustration, or fear. And oh boy am I emotional. When I’m tired the smallest little thing will set me off, and even when I’m fully rested it’s not that difficult to really get to me. As soon as I’m affected by anything, the pressure wells up behind my eyes and they start to water.

I've gotten pretty good at holding them back, but if whatever’s upsetting me continues, it’s no use-- those tears are going to leak out of my face no matter what I do. I would guess that I cry (defined as at least one tear leaking out) on average once a week, more if I’m very busy and stressed.

I have strong feelings about crying (surprise, surprise). I always hated it growing up. I seriously ugly cry, it makes me all red and snotty and worn out. But mostly, I hated it because of other people’s reactions. I did not, repeat, hard stop, did not want attention for crying. Crying as much as I did meant you were a serious drama queen who was just being over-sensitive. Yes, I was being over-sensitive, but believe me, I don’t want to be any more than you want me to be.
People get weird when you cry. Mostly, they feel like they have to do something. Crying is an international sign for “I need help,” so people always feel like they need to comfort you and make you stop crying.

It took me a long time to realize this, but most of the time when I cry, I don’t want people to make me stop-- I want them to leave me alone so I can get through it. Sometimes it’s nothing and I just need a minute to pull myself together. Sometimes I am genuinely upset and need a little while to get over it. But, to my surprise, I realized that I don’t actually dislike crying. When I’m really upset, I would much rather curl up in bed for twenty minutes and cry it out, and then read a book or watch tv until I cheer up. It’s the fact that everyone think I’m in a crisis and need help all the time that bothers me so much. I’m a capable, intelligent, independent person-- the fact that water leaks out of my face at an above-average rate does not change that. If I need help, I promise I’ll ask for it-- until then, I’ll watch some Buffy the Vampire Slayer until I remember I don’t need to be crying in the first place

Politics
Can we get back to politics?

Can we get back to politics?

        I would not consider myself a “politics person.” For most of my life, my political knowledge was basically limited to the name of the president and whatever I picked up when my dad listened to talk radio. It seems that everyone considers politics a dirty field, full of corrupt power-hungry people who only want money.

    And yet, now I find myself suddenly quite interested in politics. Well, maybe not politics so much… But that other part of a government career-- you know, the governing? That’s where it gets interesting.

    Part of it is this election: this is the first election I can vote in, and therefore the first election I’ve really paid attention to, but holy god are they always like this? It seems like this is way too crazy to have been happening once every four years for over two hundred years. On one side we have the first female presidential candidate of a major party in the history of the United States, and on the other side we have an television star/billionaire whose campaign and hateful speech preys on the fears of 21st century America. Both of them are so hated by the other side it’s alarming.

    Part of it is the legislation being passed and being contested by the Supreme Court. Gay marriage was legalized across the country. President Obama’s immigration reform was just stalled in the Supreme Court. Lawmakers are frightfully behind the new world of technology, the current system failing to address the privacy and security issues created by the incredible globalization of the Internet.

    Part of it is the government shutdown a few years ago. Seriously, what was that about? Can we stop something that ridiculous from happening again? I live nearby a wildlife reserve where there are a few looking platforms by the side of the road, so people can park and look through binoculars at the land. During the shutdown, they placed barriers in front of it so you couldn’t drive up. I tried to visit certain government websites for my government homework and I was not allowed to access them. Seriously?

    Part of it is the gun control debate that is happening right now. I can’t stop checking twitter, news sites, periscope, searching for the latest updates of the sit-in in the House. My feelings about the sit-in are mostly positive. Was it a publicity stunt? Yes. Was it “just a publicity stunt?” No. It was frustration that bubbled into a public demonstration in response the years of gun violence that went without action in Congress. It was taking a stand and saying “inaction is not an option. Not voting is not an option. Leaving this behind is not an option.” I believe that is was at least partially a “publicity stunt,” but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The Democrats in the House achieved tremendous attention and support from the American public, which as the representatives of the American public, is a great thing to have.

    The bill in question that they were supporting is not one that I personally support: the terrorist watch list is too large and nebulous to be used as a metric for buying guns. Many people are on that list for reasons like being somehow tenuously connected with a potentially dangerous person. I personally support the bill that Senator Collins is proposing, which would restrict gun sales for those on the no-fly list, a much smaller list that requires a real reason to be on. However, I do support universal background checks for ALL gun sales, and funding for a study on the health effects of guns, two other measures that the Democrats are attempting to garner favor for. Furthermore, at this point frustration has reached a point that we have to do something. Denying gun sales to those on the terrorist watch list and universal background checks are overwhelmingly favored by citizens across party lines. Why is the Republican leadership so adamantly opposed to these bills?

    This was an almost entirely unprecedented event in the House. Although sit-ins have been staged before, one of this level of disruption and attention is unheard of. The Republican leadership dismissed it as “immature” and “disruptive.” Supporters, including the hundreds of people who gathered inside and outside of the House, cheered them on “true democracy” and “taking a stand.” Although the legislation itself may not pass, the Republicans unquestionably lost the public opinion on this: it’s hard to defend being against a sit-in led by an actual Civil Rights activist trying to get a vote about denying guns to potential terrorists. The rhetoric is just not on your side with that one. When you add that Paul Ryan turned the cameras off-- which was unquestionably stupid, as it propelled a huge number of people to online streams-- and that the way Republicans attempted to ignore the sit-in came off as callous and disrespectful to the victims of gun violence, they didn’t stand a chance.

    See, I was only going to go through a few reasons why I’ve gotten interested in politics, and then I spent three paragraphs on the gun control debate. It’s just INTERESTING. I used my lunch break today to watch the senate livestream as they voted on whether or not to table Senator Collins’ bill. It was way, way more into it than I was expecting to be, and extremely excited that it didn’t get tabled (by only a very small margin…).

    Part of it is the EU Referendum vote, aka Brexit. Which I’m currently watching live and is NERVE-WRACKING.

 

    All in all, to be entirely honest, most of this is almost certainly watching every episode of the West Wing in the past three months.

 

Josh Lyman owns my heart

Josh Lyman owns my heart

 

Musical Movie Adaptations

Adapting stage musicals for the big screen evokes a similar reaction to me as book adaptations: you know, “the book is better.”

Movie musicals are different and more subtle than the differences between books and their film adaptations, however. Generally speaking, when a book is adapted for the screen, it is (sometimes significantly) cut down and decisions are made about how to visually portray characters and sets. I think book-to-movie adaptations often seem inferior because reading book is entirely too different from watching a movie. Different people experience books differently, but for me, I get certain feelings from different characters. I don’t visualize what they look like, but I can feel how they look and sound. If an actor doesn’t match that feeling-- and they rarely do-- it’s jarring. This is escapable if they movie is done very well, staying true to the books while making the necessary changes to translate to a visual medium (for example, I think Hunger Games is a great movie series). It also works if the movie series is so prolific that the actors feel like the characters with time, even if they originally didn’t (hello, Harry Potter). Finally, and most simply, it works if I haven’t read the book.

Musicals, however, are already a visual medium, and they’re designed for different actors to take the same role as time goes on. It seems like they would be easy to adapt for the big screen, but it seems like they often have huge problems. Musicals are visual, yes, but they’re also designed to be performed on a set in front of an audience. If the actors need to be in a car, they can sit in a fake car and pretend to drive, and no one cares or questions it. One set can represent several different locations as actors move around the stage, and that’s fine too. Some shows, like Pippin, are entirely dependent on the live stage setting. A movie adaptation has to take the story of the musical and make all of the sets and locations look real. I find that even when movies manage to capture a musical’s spirit and translate the difficulty of the stage onto the screen, it is impossible to capture the joy of live theater. Even watched a professional recording of a musical can’t compare: there’s something lovely and magical about live theater that can’t be reproduced in a movie.

So, these are our problems with musical movies. How do different musicals deal with these problems? I’ve seen quite a few stage musicals, and even more movie musicals. Here are some of my thoughts on a few of the shows that I’ve seen both the stage and movie versions. (Minor spoiler warnings for all three!)

Rock of Ages: Ohhh boy. I saw a touring production of Rock of Ages a few months before I watched the movie. I am VERY glad I saw the stage version first, because the movie was awful. Don’t get me wrong, the stage version wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of modern theater either, but it was a ton of fun and a thoroughly enjoyable show. However, none of the fun carried over into the movie. They kept the main plotline surrounding the central couple (for the most part… they even made some frankly unnecessary changes to that), but removed a lot of the rest of the show. Unfortunately, this was a show that wasn’t easy to make into a movie. A lot of the best laughs would have been impossible to pull off on screen. At one point the club owners walk onstage and start talking about how they’ve cleaned out the building. One then turns to a wall of the set, which is still covered in pictures, and says “...Except for all that shit over there.” He then turns to the band, which have been in the back wall of the set for the entire show, in apparent amazement. “And you guys! Have you been here the whole time?!” On stage, it was hilarious. In the movie, it was nonexistent, because how could they have pulled that off? The best character in the entire show, a flamboyant German man named Hans, didn’t appear in the movie. Goodbye, half of the fun. Also, to be clear: it wasn’t just a bad adaptation, it was also a terrible movie in general. Stage: B/Movie: F

 

Chicago: I saw the movie version of Chicago first, which may have helped my perception how good it was compared to the Broadway production. However, I thought that both the stage and movie versions were very good, and that the movie managed to preserve an impressive amount of the appeal of stage musicals. In the show, the full band is right in the middle of the stage, and the characters interact with them. Music and theatricality is a huge part of the show’s plot, so the presence of the band and the casual fourth-wall breaking fits seamlessly into the show. The movie handled this in what I thought was a surprisingly effective tactic: they had all the musical numbers be hallucinations/fantasies of the performance-obsessed main character. They get to keep the glamour of stage sets, the appeal of fourth-wall breaking, and made it plausible by keeping it all inside a woman’s mind. It was a little strange at first, but the performances were excellent and the movie sucked you in quickly. Stage: A-/Movie: B+

 

Les Miserables: Les Mis is a classic musical for a reason. It’s an epic story, entirely sung through, historically featuring some of the most powerful singers on Broadway. Try to listen to “On My Own” and not weep. You can’t. (I once had the joy of watching two of my theater-nerd friends simultaneously sing “On My Own” in two different languages: one in English, one in France. Another friend indicated which one should sing by placing his hand on their head, switching between the two at random enough intervals for it to be both beautiful and hilarious.)

The first version of Les Mis I saw was the televised 25th anniversary. It wasn’t really staged, it was just sung through by the actors. Still, it was an incredible show. Soon after, I watched a touring production live and loved it.

In my opinion, the movie version was… alright. Some of the cast members were perfect in their roles (Aaron Tveit and Samantha Bark, obviously. On a related note, I would like to marry both of them). Others… I love Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Amanda Seyfried in other movies. I just don’t think they worked in these roles, considering what I’ve come to expect from Les Mis performers. (Don’t even get me started on Russell Crowe. Whoever cast Russell Crowe can fight me.)

The movie itself is pretty good, it’s just not the kind of musical that works well on a movie screen. The director was trying way too hard to be “big musical epic” in a way that didn’t translate to a screen. Also, watching completely sung-through movies is a little disconcerting. Stage: A/Movie: B

Am I too harsh on theater adaptations? Perhaps. That doesn’t mean I don’t love them, especially for shows that I really enjoy. In The Heights and Wicked, the first two shows I ever saw on Broadway (I saw them both in the same day #bestmomever) and two of my all-time favorites, are both in the early stages of movie adaptations and I am SO excited. I’ve seen the movie version of Rent approximately seven thousand and twelve times. Live theater will always be my favorite form of entertainment, but movie musicals can be pretty incredible too.

 

Thoughts on Vlogs

I filmed my first vlog last week. It was… Well, you can see how it was.

As you can definitely tell, I’m not very comfortable on camera. I think it ended up being unintentionally harsh to professional vloggers… I promise I don’t actually think there’s anything wrong with them. I just felt so awkward that I was wondering what makes a person enjoy being on camera. I had filmed a “first vlog” in my dorm room several weeks ago, but it turned out terrible because I was uncomfortable and kept my voice so low the camera didn’t pick it up very well (I was worried about people in the hall hearing me). At least this time, I actually got a video out!

Beyond my general awkwardness, here are my thoughts on my first vlog.

1. What’s up with audio recording? I originally captured external audio on my Yeti microphone, which I use to record podcasts. However, when I put my audio and visual files together, the sound was completely off the picture by the end. I genuinely do not understand this. How could they be recording them differently?! Unfortunately, I will just have to figure that out later. To spare myself the headache this time, I just used the audio from my iPhone.

2. The lighting turned out surprisingly well, especially considering that I was using an iPhone. I sat directly in front of my windows and the natural light looked fantastic on my phone.

3. I didn’t want to use my room as a background because I just don’t think it looks very good on camera. Instead, I taped a sheet to my ceiling fan to make a background in front of my windows. I’m not kidding…

In a few weeks, I move into my summer housing, and I’m determined to unpack and decorate with appropriate video backgrounds in mind.

4. I’m looking forward to recording more videos. This is a weird medium, and having my face out there is weird on a level I don’t even understand yet, but it’s one more way to put content out in the world. I’m the happiest when I’m creating more than consuming. I don’t know if making videos will ever go anywhere, but I’m excited to go through this journey for as long as it lasts.

 

Love What You Love

Question: Is this entire blog going to be a series of posts about how much I love nerdy people?

Answer: Yep!

I already wrote a blog post called “Weird People are My Favorite.” Because, you know, they’re the best. But today I want to talk about a specific aspect of nerdiness.

I love it when people love something so much that when you ask them about it, their faces light up instantly. When they hear or see something related to their esoteric geekery and they’re so excited they can’t contain themselves and must go speak to whoever brought it up. There’s a John Green quote about this: “nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff.” Here’s the thing: everyone’s a nerd about something. Even if that thing isn’t something you would think as stereotypically nerdy, everyone has something that they love more than the average person and feel passionate about it. One of my best friends is an unaggressively non-geeky person (in regards to gaming, comics, sci-if, etc.) but she’s obsessed with Taylor Swift and Grey’s Anatomy. I would absolutely call her a Taylor Swift geek because she texts me every single time Taylor Swift does anything that makes news (which is about every other day).

However, in my personal interpretation of this John Green quote, he’s talking about “nerds like us.” Nerds who not only love something, but are unafraid to act like huge dorks about it. I once had a friend who was not only nerdy, he was extremely passionate about what he loved, and would speak effusively about it to me. But when he was in public, or on social media, he felt the need to be “cool.” He had to act chill, unfazed, apathetic to other people, so they wouldn’t “judge” him or whatever he was worried about. When I thought about it, it honestly made me concerned. Why does he feel the need to stifle his authentic self for other people?

Although maybe I should spend less time feeling bad for an old friend and more time looking at how I act. Am I perfectly authentic all the time, regardless of circumstance?

*laughter in distance*

Certainly not. I’m awkward, I’m quiet, I try to blend in a crowd. I’m introverted and not naturally outgoing. I do, however, sing showtunes in CVS and dance down the street and rant enthusiastically about everything and fangirl over the people I love because being a fan is FUN. Loving stuff is FUN.

The way that I find to unlock my fangirl-ness is my friends. I like making friends with very outgoing and enthusiastic people. I joined a show choir that only performs musical theater, for goodness sakes. If there is a nerdier thing to do I have yet to discover it.

This is my one big piece of advice: love what you love. Shout about what you love. Sing what you love, learn what you love, create what you love. If you have trouble feeling comfortable with that, find people who love the same things you do, and talk to them about it. Find people who make you braver about sharing the most enthusiastic parts of you. I promise you, there’s nothing more beautiful than someone being excited about their passions.