Go See “Inside Out”

 I have one proposition for you all. 

That is, that the next movie you see in theaters will be “Inside Out” and you will tote with you anyone willing and capable of feeling emotions. Anyone. (Just because it’s a Pixar movie doesn’t mean it’s just for the kids).

In fact, the concept is an intensely thoughtful one that is sure to blow even the wisest of grown-ups minds. The concept, or at least my interpretation of the concept, is that emotions are so powerful. While at times their shifting and shaping may seem a burden during one’s emotional progress through life, our emotions are equally important and always working for us to help us cope with our surrounding environment… which can be even more unpredictable and burdensome than ourselves.

The emotions themselves are all played as human-esque looking characters: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust (featuring some familiar voices if you watch Parks and Rec or the Mindy Project). Their story is set in the mind of an 11-year-old girl named Riley, who lives her life according to their commands and absence-of, just like the movie implies we all do.

joysadSitting in the packed theatre, thinking through the movie as it was playing, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is really how emotions work? Laid out, it makes sense. Sometimes Joy drives a person to make choices, sometimes sadness, sometimes both or another emotion. This idea of balancing emotions one of the most universal of movie themes I have ever come across because who of us can say that we’ve never been angry or sad or joyous, or afraid, or in disgust?

We all have incredibly complex minds and with those we often forget that it’s okay not to stay positive all the time. In fact, (spoiler alert) sometimes sadness is the best motivator to adjust a course of action to something better for our well-being while the other guys take a backseat. In the end, they’re meant to balance us out and help us grow at our own unique pace.

Because we are all human (I can now confirm this because Dog with a Blog unfollowed me), we each have the potential to act in according to our complex emotions and then when the repercussions subside we can store all those beautiful memories for later because that’s the beauty of being human.

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SJT

And so begins March

hello,

how’s it goin?

(That’s me btw ↘)

March is my fave month. And this march started off with the Oscars where right off the bat, we fell in love with this couple:

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…But especially fell in love with her

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And after doing some googling…

found that Lupita Nyong’o is a truly remarkable human being who is now my new hero.

Then JoTo won a photo contest with this photo depicting “Education Today”.

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Wooooooo

But the day she found out she had won, she then received news of the opposite kind. News that nobody ever wants to hear or have to deal with the repercussions of.

…am I gonna go there? Let it flow…

Sad news that will change his daughters lives because he is no longer in them, and yet he always will be a part of.

This one’s dedicated to you Uncle Mike.

Were it not for that camera, I wouldn’t have been able to capture this beautiful memory of his oldest daughter and my cousin dancing in his honor.

His youngest daughter, and one of my best friends, sang to the tune of her dad’s legacy. If you’re reading this, I love you T and R. Never stop making your art.

There’s a book that I’m reading to L right now called “Each Little Bird that Sings” EachLittleBird1and in it there’s a quote– something like “People die, so we can live on”. I love the perspective there, because with a grey thing like death, it’s hard to keep from looking at it from a downwards angle– like a grave in the ground. But if you look at it like a white thing thats high, higher than the beautiful blue ceiling of atmosphere overhead, it’s easier to turn around and walk on and make something incredible of yourself. I promise you, those memories and lessons will stay so much closer when you can dance and sing about them, always living on. That’s what they would have wanted, and you know it.

This post was something I started the other night just to catch up with my readers and at first I thought it would just be a blurb on all the happy notes March has kicked off with. It was going to be something to get my mind off this. But then it grew into what I guess I’d call my closure, and I just want to thank you dear reader for reading it. If any of you are struggling with loss, I truly hope this helps.

tumblr_mibjscds4p1rtzbb2o1_400And have a wonderful March

Just Thinking About Colleges Tonight…

My history teacher’s a basketball buff. Today in class, he passed around a sheet along with a hat {the black silky kind, resembling that of Abe L} filled with slips of paper. On each was a college basketball team on the roster-thing for March Madness. The point of all this was to 1) have us research a college we would have never probably heard of, and 2) get extra credit points for each game won by our team during this season. I can’t say that I’m happy with leaving bonuses to chance especially because mine is ranked number #16… Southern U {now all you March Madmen groan.

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Can somebody explain the “(23-9)” por favor?!

So I got on my school’s college search website. It’s actually pretty cool how technology can help kids make educated decisions on a personal level, by comparing important factors like majors offered, tuition fees, and campus life according to how I’ve tested during

College Blog
decisions decisions…

personality evaluations.

You wanna know what my compilation came to?

    University of Oregon. Yeah… the Ducks.

I perused College options out of interest and boredom. A dangerous couple.

Then I got frustrated because, well, I don’t want to think about all that. Dorms and majors and fees  and the future…

•••

I want to pig out in my parents kitchen with friends and enjoy my schoolwork while hating at the same time. I don’t want to take my final driving lesson because it means that I’m that much closer to taking my license test… with the little bald man in the passenger’s seat with his nose hairs brushing the clipboard. I want to pick the grass in P.E. class as kids try to draw out the workout by asking stupid questions to the teacher. I want to be there when the last of my brothers graduates 6th grade. I want to watch Downton Abbey and Sherlock Holmes and think I can pull off a fabulous British Accent. I like my backpack and I think it’s funny when the person who has gum in class is suddenly the most popular. I love dem boys {or at least talking about them }. I love babysitting for really nice families. I love being sixteen.

•••

Pop-culture, technology… it all changes and so do the Youth it raises. The teens I mean. We are taught to live in a world we have not yet experienced, a world no one ban predict. So we must be taught to adapt given basic skills and then not-so-basic, which would be developing our talents. And that will determine if our future consists of a cubby-hole career or other.

But for now, I’m going to enjoy my life as it is. Light as a feather and fun. I’m going to take advantage of the benefits of living at home and develop those talents as well as find some new ones. Blogging, yes. You are most certainly here to stay. {As much as my parents dislike it ;) } And those pesky poopy brothers… I hope they know that the tackles and noogies are out of love. Three big buckets-full.

If there are any words of wisdom I have developed in these last few years of developing maturity they are, “Life is good, even when it sucks.”

And with that dear reader, I bid you adios. Because I have a spanish test tomorrow. Your lovely advice to teens everywhere would be much appreciated down below :)

-SJT

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“It’s about a girl who is on the cusp of becoming someone.. A girl who may not know what she wants right now, and she may not know who she is right now, but who deserves the chance to find out.” ― Jodi Picoult

This One’s for You Oreo

Almost exactly two years ago, my family sent me on a scavenger hunt on my birthday. It was after we had eaten dinner, and my brother slipped me a paper. This paper sent me to various spots around the house, where each sat objects needed to maintain a pet guinea pig. A bag of food in the bathtub, a toy behind a chair, a water bottle under the table… until finally it all ended behind the couch in the great room, a cage. I was beyond giddy, squealing and jumping up and down. All that was missing was the guinea pig.

“Can we go now? CAN WE GO NOW?!”

I pleaded with my mom.

“Sure we can go tonight, or we can go in the morning if you-”

“NO! RIGHT NOW!”

I grabbed her purse for her and sprinted to the door.

•••

We pulled into Petco at about 7:30. It was dark and I was humming with that birthday buzz and itch for a sweet baby gerbil to take come.

My 13-year-old nose was pressed against the glass. Three sets of rodent eyes blinked back. One belonged to a black guinea pig, little and black is all I remember. You don’t see many black guinea pigs floating around on chain emails or google images. They’re all brown and white- spotted but too much blow-dryer.

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Some even make it to Hollywood

So I think that’s why I picked Oreo… she was so different.

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Not very photogenic but… different.

Oreo came home that night in a cardboard box on my lap with Petco’s logo on the side, and was put in a freshly made-up cage and pristine water bottle.  That night, I watched her royal cuteness sniff things as I lay on my bed, the happiest 13-year-old in the world.

It’s been two years and in that time. She’s put on a little weight and gotten a sister, Chewbacca. (Yes I did say sister) Chewbacca’s a little different than Oreo. She bites and doesn’t like people. But I didn’t realize until just recently how much she really loves her sister.

Two days ago Oreo got a boo-boo. You might call it a wart or a bubble but I think that’s all disgusting to we’ll just call it a boo-boo. The Boo-Boo started out very small and then became a big problem yesterday. Poor Oreo. We called a Veterinary friend, who highly recommended that we go to an actual clinic and get some antibiotics. So I put my little cookie into a basket, covered her up in a towel and gave her some hay to calm her fluttery little nerves.

There was a poodle with an earache, Finding Nemo in the corner, and Nurses that were larger than life. Gosh I love those ladies. They came over and googled at Oreo but then winced at the Boo-Boo.

We sat in a room with the Doc who basically said,

“This is a pretty serious boo-boo. We’ll use medicine, which might work, or we’ll do an operation which might work a little better. ”

Behind his words I heard, “She’ll just die one way or another.”

We chose the medicine route and Doc took Oreo in the back to clean up the Boo-Boo.

We went back out to the living waiting room and waited. Nemo was still on. One of the Nurses went out to check on Oreo, and came back with a bent frown.

“Poor little Oreo… what a sweet wittle Guinea Piggy!”

She was sweet. Why do you think I named her after a creme-filled-cookie ?

The managing nurse came over to talk to us about the medicine. Doc came out with my basket and my trembling critter under her towel.

Doc told me that she was one of the best guinea pigs he’s ever worked with.

That was a hammer to my heart. I never realized this, but Chewbacca’s a normal guinea pig apparently. Let that sink in.

I lifted the towel.

She had a shaved little bottom with the exposed Boo-Boo, nasty stitches, and yet, she was the sweetest thing. She looked up at me and said, “Mommy, it hurts. I wanna go home.”

I cried the whole way home because if it get’s too bad, the $800 operation might just stop her little heart, so we’ll have to…

I have experienced death passively but I’ve never once held a little life in my hands. I suppose this is what it’s like being a mother. Providing life and love for another who would be nothing but a whisper in the wind without you. It’s incredibly hard to watch that life suffer and sit in the hands of fate instead of in yours. Your loving and protective hands.

She’s a guinea pig. Not a child of someone’s in Iraq or an at-risk-youth in the streets. But I get it now. Why it must be so hard for mommies to let go, because things like this might happen if you leave and then I’ll never be able to forgive myself. All children are sweet to their mothers. And it’s that sweetness that delivers a blow to the heart.

Chewbacca and I have three more weeks with Oreo. But that’s not all. My whole family does too, they love the pigs very much. (Yes dad including you somewhere deep down!) Tonight my little brother made a make-shift hut out of a cardboard box for Oreo because she has to be quarantined away from Chewbacca and the wooden hut they already share. My own mommy shredded paper and cleaned away the boo-boo germs for, as she calls them, her “grand-piggies”.

You, my dear dear reader have got a mommy too and other people who love you almost as much as she does. So please, do your best not to get hurt, whether it be staying away from drugs, designating a driver, or just walking away from the fight. “You’ve only got one life so make sure you live it right.”

This one’s for you Oreo.

13th Birthday

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Mommy loves you Oreo. <3

-SydneyJoTo

Volunteering at a Soup Kitchen

My mom signed us up. At first everyone whined, including my dad. But then we accepted facts as the time came for us to leave the house. I told my youngest brother, “Tonight’s Christmas Eve Eve, and so all of Santa’s little elves are spying on us just checking to make sure that we still deserve to be on the ‘Nice List’. Christmas Eve Eve is very important so you have to be really good at the Soup Kitchen. Okay?” He nodded at a violent speed.

We had close to no information about how the runnings of the soup kitchen worked, like who we would be feeding and how. All we knew was the address, and to bring pulled pork on buns and tell our friends that we had invited to bring salad and dessert. Approx mouths to feed: 55

We pulled into a sketchy, warehouse part of downtown and unload our haul. It was pouring and our crock-pot dripped while we stood outside, knocking on the glass doors of the building we thought was the Soup Kitchen.

I really didn’t know what a soup kitchen looked like. A large cafeteria perhaps with ladies in hair nets and men with beards holding out bowls?

” ‘Naught ‘a th’ sort. “

A woman opened the glass doors with a grin larger than the country called China.

“HELLO! Welcome, Welcome, Come on in! We weren’t expecting you tonight because HQ forgot to tell us you were coming, but here you are!” She ushered us into the kitchen, her big blue eyes were gleaming behind her petite landlady glasses. She began to clear away what looked like thawing frozen meals and then pointed to the tantalizing aroma coming off our crockpot, “And what you have there looks so much better than the frozen sandwiches we keep in stock!” We smiled at each other and at her, then we rolled up our sleeves and got to work; no hair nets required. (Score!)

Salad was tossed, brownies were cut, and well, pulled pork sat there looking amazing; all in a little room that close to nothing like what I had imagined.

There were two long tables, each as long as an olympic ping-pong table. They were surrounded by blue plastic chairs. A christmasy centerpiece was plopped at the end of each table, complete with smiling snowmen and mini plastic Douglass firs set on one end of each. Booster seats hung low on the walls, available for reach. Thank-you cards and hand-drawn pictures were taped in an arch around the entry-way. It was no Best Western, but it was build by love.

As we set up shop, we learned a few things about this Organization,

1) They are an application-based Women and Children’s home for the Homeless. The people we would serve had earned their place here, the goal is to help these families through food, education, safety, comfort, and self-reliance.

2) There’s a learning center for the kids who live here and are tutored there by high schooler kids who need community service hours!

3) Random Drug tests.

4) We would actually be feeding half the number of people we had prepped for because during the holidays, many of these families leave to be with family.

(And a few other neat things which I will remember and slip in later)

We were ready and the doors opened. That room was more full with appreciation and Merry Christmases than oxygen. People ate. I sort-of taught the two little girls who were also volunteering how to toss a salad. Lots of people who had never tried pulled pork before came back for seconds. Almost everyone in the room was smiling, except for the ones with their cheeks full. We made faces at the babies and talked with their mothers. We took shifts eating with the families or behind the counter dishing up. Nothing was scary anymore, and we were all really enjoying ourselves.

Then, those little girls I tossed salad with? One opened up her little violin and played in the corner all three songs she had memorized, including the Can Can. It was adorable. Especially when she messed up and paused, her bow in mid strum, with a stumped and concentrated look on her face. “Oh yeah!” Continue she would. The families who remained clapped to the rhythm, and a few poked their heads in to see where the curious sounds were coming from. One little girl in particular who had long dark hair and huge brown eyes, probably the same age as the girl playing, stood very close and watched intently. I left to do something in the kitchen, but when I came back, the violin was on the dark-haired girls shoulder, and my little salad girl was teaching her how to play. Dark-hair was ecstatic, closing her eyes and playing short little screeches to her heart’s content.

Christmas is about that rosy red thing called love. I pray for you and your family that you find some tomorrow and all the days to follow. And if you can’t find some, give some. Don’t worry, you have this love generator thing called a human heart. It’s very useful when serving soup in a kitchen, which I strongly suggest you try sometime. Musical instruments optional but highly looked upon.

Merry Christmas Guys :)

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We Are Here With You

It’s been rough. Super rough. Rough in keeping my head held together through all this. My hearts in shambles and still aches a week later. There are no words but the ones we know. But this story, these sickening events have made all words run away. I don’t have the will to chase them down and arrange them in a way that’s presentable to my readers.  But one of my favorite bloggers does. I am grateful for her strength, that she can express so eloquently, what sadness and prayers and solemness feel like. It’s sad, and it’s raw. As raw as crying is. It hurts. But it will heal. And all will be well again. I know that God loves all his children, but has a special attachment to his littlest children. He would never lose them to this sort of evil darkness. He has a plan. And we can be happy knowing that. We are here with you. 

 

The Renegade Rulebook

I know my blog has been a bit heavy lately in terms of content, and while many who know me in person know this is the exact opposite of my personality in real life, I am not quite ready to depart from contemplation. I have debated not writing about this, not touching this subject. It is a subject that sent waves of terror through every parent in the country, and quite literally broke hearts across the world. In the last four days, friends from all around the globe reached out to express their sincere sympathies to a grieving country.

It is a subject that I do not know how to write about.

I don’t understand it.

For four days, I was at a total loss of words.  For four days, I sat numb on my couch, surrounded by a mound of damp tissues, and then my sleeve when the box…

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