How I Finally Got Into Podcasts (Hint: Big thanks to ‘Children of Tendu’)

In a first-time event, I’ve posted the same post on this channel and on the website I’m starting to use again, &NY, so if you want to read it over there for comparison’s sake, no one is stopping you.

I’ve never been a huge podcast listener. I a problem with audiobooks and podcasts – I find it hard to follow the story unless the podcast format is distinctly roundtable/Q&A. Up until now, the only podcast I (not even regularly) listened to was the Nerdist Writers Panel.

I can’t listen to them while I’m futzing around on the computer like I can with music because my brain freaks out and tries to pay attention to what I’m hearing and what I’m reading on the screen and it doesn’t end well. (Yes. I did listen to Serial. I would play it every Friday morning when I was working out. No, that still wasn’t enough to get me into podcasts.)


Image via: Children of Tendu tumblr 

That’s all changed thanks to Children of Tendu. The podcast is the most in-depth look at television production I’ve ever stumbled upon. It’s more than ‘how to write a television script’ and more than a synopsis of ‘what a television writer does’. They take you through every single step in one “season” (13 90-minute episodes). I’ve searched the different TV production roles online before and have come up with barely scraps of information. These guys spend three freaking hours talking about every kind of producer credit in television.

It’s hard to quantify how valuable the information the two hosts, Javi Grillo-Marxuach (@OKBJGM) and Jose Molina (@josemolinatv), have freely given to their thousands of listeners. Does that make it all simply, invaluable? It probably should.

Walking around New York City though has been a fantastic time to listen to these podcast episodes. I walked 10 miles last Saturday and listened to a few hours of podcasts, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Learning what a staff writer does – but taking a step back and learning what a writer’s assistant, or how to even become ‘staffed’ or get an agent – is straight up pure enjoyment for me.

I don’t know why I resisted podcasts for so long. I love listening/reading/watching interviews with my favorite people (Grace Helbig, many of the Daily Show correspondents, television showrunners and writers). These podcasts are literally dedicated to giving me that material. An hour and a half podcast with Chris Hardwick and Grace? YES! A roundtable with writers like B.J. Novak or the Better Call Saul writers? PLEASE!

To think, while I spent all those hours meandering around Penn State’s campus for three and a half years, I could have been listening to so many more podcasts.




For now, I have Children of Tendu until I run out of episodes – I’m trying to pace myself with the last few – The Daily Show Podcast Without Jon Stewart; Currently (co-hosted by Hypafriend, John Thrasher!); Nerdist with Chris Hardwick and Girl on Guy with Aisha Tyler. I also have randomly added Stuff You Should Know (how does anesthesia work?), Comedy Bang Bang: The Podcast, and You Tell It! to get my education/comedy bases covered.

An important part of my podcast obsession has been the app I use. We all know the pre-installed Podcast app from Apple is not the greatest. Heck, it’s not even good. So, I coughed over the $1.99 or whatever it was to buy Overcast. You can get the free version, but the paid one is so much better. I put the speed level at 1.2x, just fast enough where I feel like there’s no long pauses, but I can still understand people and they don’t sound like chipmunks.

So, if you have any good podcast recommendations, please send them my way. I’m into any topic and am thinking of going educational for my next few. I tried giving Welcome to Night Vale a listen but found it to be too much.

When working doesn’t feel like ‘work’

Maybe it was because my Monday at work-work was great – the day flew by – or because with every passing day I get more and more excited for Upfronts next month, but writing about television doesn’t feel like work to me. Analyzing ratings and talking about its implications are so much fun for me. 

I’ve gotten a second wind tonight and have cranked out 500 words about May sweeps – and I haven’t even gotten to my point. Sure, this means it’ll require a ton of edits, but that’s why our lovely editors work with us. There’s something purely liberating and freeing about talking about television. Maybe it’s the way millions of Americans use it to unwind from work, and I’m purposely choosing to devote time to working in and for it. And then it hits me again, as it has tons of times before, this is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. 

Sure, it’s the middle of April, the long stretch before the millions of finales (oddly, thankfully, I’ve had time to recharge my batteries as all three of my shows have been on hiatus for a month), but I’m still finding joy in doing this. It’s my second job, one that I want to recommit myself to focusing on. 

If only all aspects of my life were as easy as that lightbulb that goes off when I write a lede. “Oh, I still love writing. All my skills didn’t fly out the window overnight.” 

In the meantime, I continue to neglet other passion projects. It’s easier to think of these grand blogging plans, than to actually execute them. At least I’ve been getting to use my iPad Bluetooth keyboard for a while tonight. 

So, do anything interesting since I was gone?

Time flies really fast. This isn’t breaking news, there’s only 24 hours in a day and while a two-hour exam in school can feel like it stretches on for ages, two hours pretty much anywhere else goes by in the blink of an eye.

I graduated college almost a full semester ago. While my friends go hurdling towards graduation – and all the good (spring days on the patios at our favorite bars) and bad (mega-final projects, papers, and exams) that comes with it – I’m here in New York City. Living here full-time has been an adjustment, but it also still feels like a temporary situation. Maybe that’s because I’m looking to move (already) or that I’m changing jobs (already).

View from the rooftop bar I went to over the weekend with my cousins. Perfect evening!

View from the rooftop bar I went to over the weekend with my cousins. Perfect evening!

But I maintain that graduating early was the best damn decision I ever made. Save my friends and orgs I adored at school, there was no reason to wait around one more semester to finally move here.
Alas, I’ve been in New York for a while now and have become settled. Like, routine, this-is-my-life settled. Boring. I’m loving the majority of my time here, but there’s something mentally draining about waking up, going to work for nine and a half hours, coming home, maybe going to the gym, eating dinner, go to sleep, repeat. There’s little variety – my friends and I save our socializing for the weekends when we have time and aren’t knee-deep in work tasks.
So I’m shaking things up a little bit! Starting with this site. As in, I’m recommitting to it. Regular blog posts about updates on my life and observations in digital media and all of the above. That’s all I have to say for now, but I think it’s a step in the right direction.

Brands and blogs

I follow a little over 1,000 people on Twitter. I’ve unsuccessfully tried to segment these accounts into groups, lists, and categories multiple times. I’d say a third are involved in television (whether they write for TV or about TV), a third are in fashion (brands, bloggers, websites), and a third are miscellaneous.

That is a fairly broad and rudimentary way of organizing everyone.

Within those aforementioned groups – let’s take ‘fashion,’ for example – there’s brands (Kate Spade, J. Crew, DKNY), blogs (Byrdie, Refinery29, College Prepster), and prominent people in the industry (Elizabeth Holmes of the Wall Street Journal, Tom & Lorenzo, and Aliza Licht).

The problem is, well, Aliza runs the @DKNYPRGirl as a person, not so much as an overall Donna Karan/DKNY brand voice. Does Carly, the sole person behind College Prepster, belong in the ‘blogs’ or ‘people’ group? Granted, it’s my list and I could define the terms of each however I want, the trouble is when I encounter those accounts that blur the potential lines.

Then there’s the publishing outlets, Elle, Harper’s Baazar, WWD, W Magazine, and The Cut (of New York Magazine). In turn, these outlets have writers and editors that I follow, and thus the cycle of sorting begins once more – and it’s usually around this point that I think “why am I bothering to do this anyways? They all have on common denominator: I follow them.”

Or, I could simply throw all reason out the window and divide everyone I’m following by people/blogs/etc, but then I’d have Aliza Licht in with half of the BuzzFeed staff, Refinery29 with LevoLeague and The Black List and chaos would reign.

The more I think about this, the more I realize I do this in most aspects of my life. I organize and compartmentalize my books (fiction and nonfiction, then further sorted alphabetically by title), and my clothes (one closet is professional, one closet is casual, then both are sorted by sleeve length, material and color) with such precision that I’ve gotten down to a science at this point. My Gmail labels are for a whole other post.

Why my resolution is to work out less

We are ten days into the new year, and many people are still dutifully hitting the gym or the running trails (if it’s not too cold!) to keep up with their resolutions. Meanwhile, today is the first time in a long while that I can recall not working out two days in a row. And I am completely okay with that.

At school, I’d work out six days a week. M-F, 6:30 a.m., I’d be at the gym ready for my 40 minutes cardio and 20 minutes weights. Saturdays I usually used football games as my workout (easily 10,000+ steps, not a lot of tailgate food). But, I was exhausted. This regimented routine was wearing me down and I needed a break.

Well, I got that in the form of “unemployment,” or, a less severe title: “recent grad.” For the past three weeks, with the holidays and everything, my daily schedule has wildly fluctuated. I’ve started waking up around 7, 7:30, now I’m looking at 8:00 a.m. My workouts has shifted from the bike at the gym to the treadmill at home – in the afternoons. The biggest thing I’ve realized about this, is that it is all completely okay.

It’s okay if one day’s workout wasn’t as intense as another’s, or if I didn’t hit my target mileage. I have become a self-imposed robot that This. Is the Way. Things. Must. Be. Done. But life isn’t like that. I’m learning to be a bit more flexible and get some more sleep.

Hello, 2015!!

2014 was a whirlwind year. As usual, the twelve months flew by and I loved nearly every moment of it. In the past few weeks alone I’ve gone from “student” to “unemployed college graduate,” and I’m spending my final hours of 2014 with two of my best friends.

As we enter the new year, I’ll be actively applying to any job I am remotely qualified for. There is one job, associate account executive, at my top ad agency, 360i (you know their work, even if you don’t know them). I’ve admired 360i for a while, having met someone at the company nearly four years ago. They’re simply the best at what they do. They have a growing digital presence and I think I would fit in with the company and its culture perfectly. I just need to get my application noticed. And then get an interview. And then get hired.

Throughout all my internships, my bosses have said the same things about me: I’m passionate. I’m driven. I’m committed. I can do all the work the aforementioned 360i position requires, I just need to convey that in a short cover letter (which is hard for a chatty person like myself). I think advertising is fun, and I really want to work in the industry – my Dean of Careers at school said I am looking for a job in the ‘digital communications field,’ but I could’ve told you that.

People have been asking “well, if you could work anywhere, where would it be?” And my replies have distilled down to “In house? NBC. Agency? 360i.” It’s that simple. Granted – I would also love to work in fashion, in which case I’d look towards J. Crew or Kate Spate (and maybe transition in merchandising!?), or at a place like BuzzFeed that, beyond the listicles and cat articles, is doing some very incredible work and currently has 40+ jobs open in editorial alone.

But I digress. Anyways, here’s to an even better year in 2015 than 2014. It’ll be a tough one to top, but I don’t doubt there are some great things in store.

On graduation and officially being ‘unemployed’

Time flies, really fast. The past three and a half years have been a blur of exams, papers, classes, projects, waking up unnecessarily early, staying up late for the hell of it, making friends, keeping those friends in my tight clutch, making more friends, joining organizations, liking some of those orgs more than others, branching out of my comfort zone, and overall, turning from a scared freshman who yearned for the comforts of home to a graduated college student who is chomping at the bit to start her career.

Whew. What a rush.

The last two months, particularly, feel like one long week. One long week that I wish didn’t end so soon. As my mom puts it (accurately), “Kristina, you were just hitting your stride.” Yeah, I was. I was finally 21 and finally having a lot of fun with a lot of different, fantastic people. If I were to go back to school next semester, I would probably have a whirlwind four months and never want to leave college.

But I am glad I graduated early. If only so I can from ‘student’ to ‘unemployed’ a little bit earlier than some other friends. IMG_1159

People have been asking me what it feels like to be done, and I’ve been giving them all the same reply: it feels empty. There’s nothing on my horizon. No classes I scheduled months ago. No job I’ll be reporting to at a certain date. It’s liberating, sure, for now. I’m not exactly kicking back with my feet up, but here’s how I see it: it is still ‘the holidays’ for another week. There’s no reason to stressfully apply to every job I see right now.

I’m not saying I’m going to take a two month vacation from reality, living with my mom and ignoring the realities of real life setting in. I’m still actively searching for jobs, but no company is posting a job on Christmas day for an assistant/junior position. My mental deadline is February 1. That’s when I’ll start to get anxious, maybe reevaluate my application process. But for now, I’m just a recent grad in a strange limbo between college and the start the next chapter.

I might not finish NaNoWriMo… and that’s okay

It’s November. To some people that means the start of Christmas season, Thanksgiving, football, Starbucks holiday drinks, peppermint, and an overall enjoyable month. To others, it means all that and a mental marathon for the ages: NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month.

I tackled this task last year and won – barely crossing the finish line – and I have pretty much been on a high for the last eleven months because of it. It has always been my intention to make writing a 50,000+ words in 30 days a personal annual event, but just my second time out of the gate, I don’t think I’m going to get very far.

I probably won’t complete NaNoWriMo, and that’s okay.

If I don’t, it just shows how busy I’ve been in other aspects of my life. I’m job searching, writing and reporting for Hypable, studying for exams, spending time with friends before I graduate, spending time with family during Thanksgiving break before I move out… all these things that yes, this year, are more important than writing a book.

NaNoWriMo means something. It stands for something – and it’s not “I’m going to become a published author.” It’s “I pushed myself, and I accomplished something.” You don’t run a marathon with the hopes of winning. You run to prove to yourself you can do it (sometimes. On that note – I’m thinking about trying to start running some 10k’s and half-marathons. Am I crazy?)

So yes, I have a story, and I have a few thousand words already under my belt, but this month will be used to get the ball rolling, even if it takes me a few months to hit that all-important 50k. I’m still writing extensively. But writing these 400 words for this post were more important that writing 400 words for my story.

I’m writing a feature piece about November ratings sweeps for Hypable that is going to be very detailed and researched. That will be 1,000 words I could have written of a fictional novel that is unlikely to see the light of day.

I’m glad I’m involved in NaNoWriMo – the pep talks and encouragement and community are amazing – but it’s fine if I don’t finish the challenge come November 30.

So much has happened that really nothing has happened

It has been a busy few weeks. But it’s been so busy, that there really hasn’t be anything notable to report on. The first half of October predictably flew by in a blur, and I wholly expect the second half to speed by just the same. I’m getting into the second week of midterms, my birthday is in a couple of days, I just got back from an insane weekend with the PRSSA exec board, and I’m starting to rev up my engines to apply to jobs.

I feel bad – guilty – that I haven’t been updating on here as much as I should. That I’ve been neglecting this part of my life over the past few weeks. But I’m trying to let go of that self-imposed pressure and just do what I can. School is top priority, with Hypable and PRSSA not far behind. Then comes this site and some other things. But at the end of the day – literally, around 10 or 11 p.m., I am passed out, exhausted.

The Penn State PRSSA exec board representatives at the Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the conference.

The Penn State PRSSA exec board representatives at the Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the conference.

It’s interesting. At the PRSSA National Conference I attended in Washington D.C. this past weekend with eight other seniors on the Penn State PRSSA executive board, I really learned something. I learned that it’s important to strive for the job in the industry you want. Not the one you think you should have. Or the first one that comes along, offering a steady job and paycheck in a city you’re just so-so about.

That and you’ve got to be able to write. In high school, had no idea how important that skill was outside the world of arbitrary SAT/AP test scores. But then I started actually getting pretty good grades on my AP Lit essays. And then I started writing for Hypable when it was hardly a year old with a few hundred thousand monthly views. Now it’s three and a half years old, we have over four million hits a month, I’m writing better than ever before, and I feel like I have the confidence in my writing I’ll need as I apply to entry-level positions.

I’ll be taking my senior pictures soon, and we’re getting into the final 50 days of my undergraduate career. As Billy Eichner would say, “and here… we… go!”

You make your own luck (Rabbit, Rabbit!)

I forget what book I read it in – some lifestyle/non-fiction/How To book – but there was entire section devoted to the author’s opinion about luck and lack thereof. He said that we don’t have luck. No one is hit with a lucky stick. Just like no one is unlucky for “just because” reasons.

Shattering a mirror doesn’t give you seven years of bad luck, being born with Mercury in retrograde isn’t good luck (in fact – a planet being in ‘retrograde’ has little to no bearing on life on Earth. It just means we’re moving at a particularly different speed than other planets and have caught up/ surpassed them, so it looks like they’re moving backwards for a hot minute. Or something like that – Astro 006 was a few years ago.)

You make your own luck.

You make the choices that lead your life down certain paths. Drinking to excess will leave you with a terrible hangover the next day. So you feel sick and are late for class. That’s not bad luck – that’s the result of a bad decision. Getting out there and meeting people who can potentially set you up with a job post-graduation isn’t good luck. It’s your hard work and dedication paying off.

Luck is defined (yep, we’re going there) as “success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.” And I wholeheartedly disagree with that. ‘Brought by chance’ simply means someone else’s decisions have affected you, either positively or negatively, in the Rube Goldberg-like machine that we call life.

It’s October 1st. Perhaps ironically, I/we say “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” on the first day of the month to “ensure good luck for the duration of that month” according to British tradition. But me saying a few words today won’t mean I’ll float through the month unscathed. I think of it as more of just a superstition – if I don’t say it, bad things might happen. But since I cannot predict the future nor peek into alternate timelines, we’ll never know would have happened to me if I didn’t.

I got in the habit once, after I read the passage I mentioned at the top of this post (I really wish I remember where I read that), of hushed-whispering “you do not make your own luck” whenever a friend mentioned his or her good or bad luck. But if some people wish to believe in it for their own sanity, who am I to tell them otherwise?

Here’s to a marvelous final quarter, 2014. October, November and December are progressively my favorite months. October is insane, with going out of town next weekend, and already looking toward my next exam week (and – ahem – a very important birthday). It doesn’t help that I’ve got November 1 circled with a big red pen on my calendar – Penn State vs. University of Maryland in football. To say I’m excited is an understatement.