Graduation, Episode 1

Today there is one question I demand to have answered by someone. That is,

Where did the time go?

In a few hours, I will have walked the long green stage wearing a white flowy camping tent with an empty diploma holder tucked under one arm and by then, my question still probably won’t be answered. All I can say for sure is that High School was one of the best four seconds of my life. To any of my teen readers living in them now, I beg you not to take them for granted. Each second during high school has the potential to drastically change what happens during the millions of seconds after high school, because the teenage years are powerful ones. They are a name for a metamorphosis which takes place in innocent children and warps them into opinionated, passionate, strong-willed young people. High School is the launching pad and really, takeoff only takes what feels like four seconds. That’s shorter than a vine…

Today as I walked across campus for probably the last time, I caught myself walking at the pace I usually would sprint at to get to class, (back before second semester when still cared about being on time). I caught myself in habit and stopped for a moment. It was then when I realized I didn’t need to rush anymore, not on this campus at least. Crunch-time was over, I had already won the race. So I walked slower, more thoughtfully, down my favorite alley which lies between the tennis court fence and the swimming pool fence. I love that alley so much, because when it rained, I used to stand there and watch the water collect in puddles on the tennis courts. On the opposite side and in another time of year, the swimming pool always made me jealous with its chlorine aura challenging the oncoming summer heat of spring. These are things I’ll hope to never forget, and if my memory fails me someday it’s comforting to know I have this.

Anyway, thank you dear reader as always for doing what you do best here. May your Thursday be as great as your Sunday.

Stay tuned for pt. 2

-SJT

(via gregwasout on tumblr)
(via gregwasout on tumblr)
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“Sale” Signs are My Favorite (My College Decision)

(If you’re a friend of family member wondering where I’m going to college and you’re here for the short answer, follow the fl✿wers and keep scrolling honey. If you’ve got a second and love a seamlessly incorporated animated disney expression gif or two you might want to stick around for the long answer. Either way, thanks for stopping by in advance dear reader, have a beautiful day)
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Imagine,  on the horizon, your neighborhood department store you go to normally for all your basic clothing essentials. You walk in. You look out over the sea of colored items on racks and just out of curiosity you peek at one of the price tags.

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You check another shirt, another pair of jeans, another shirt,

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Nothing costs less than $100, and you feel a little lost.

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You dig a little and come to find that the reason for the exploding prices in this warped and god-forsaken metaphorical world is because your ex- favorite department store has teamed up with hundreds of other big stores across the America to raise prices together under one agreement to juice out their consumers. Because they’re all doing it, there’s nowhere to get a shirt around town unless you have $100 dollars in your back pocket. You don’t have that kind of luck.

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You walk outside and press your nose up to the glass sullenly looking at the gum-spotted sidewalk. Cars swoosh by. You stare at the dumb paper mannequin’s inside. It’s wearing your clothes and you hate it in all of its paper arrogance.
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Then, the faintest glow appears in the back of the room. It flickers and fades, although you’re not sure if you saw it clearly. It returns again brighter, and it’s light grows and spreads in it’s corner. It goes out. You were hoping it was a sign. Suddenly, an employee appears walking briskly around the corner with an awkwardly shaped object tucked under her arm. It’s a sign! A neon sign! She sets it down, climbs up a footstool beneath the window in front of you, and installs the thing right above your head. Then she plugs it in and in an instant of a flicker, there it is. You step back to get the full view.

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“Sale items at least 90% off!” you gasp.

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You book it.

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 “WELL WOULDJA LOOK AT THAT!” you say,
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The shirts on the sale rack only cost $3-$10 and feature some of the highest quality basics you could ever need and/or want. That’s all you needed! Imagine yourself grabbing as many as you can hold in your arms and head to checkout, your total comes to $11.

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“Yussss” you think to yourself as you begin walking away.

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As you’re walking, an even stranger phenomenon begins to occur.  You hear raised voices coming from small crowds of people gathering. They’re some of the ones who had $100 bills and credit cards and bought clothes from the expensive racks, but instead come out with what appears to be discreetly ripped and subtly soiled linens. First appearing to be an overpricing problem, now looks like a rip-off scheme. People run back to the counter yelling, “This isn’t what I paid for!”, only to have “No Refunds” signs flashed in their face. There are riots outside, and yet the quietest ones walking towards the parking lot are the those who you suspect are just like you, the frugal winners of the department store race.

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If you figured out at some point that this whole story is my crazy way of making a point somehow, you’re right. Metaphors are fun. Almost as fun as finally using these aladdin gif’s I’ve been saving for months.

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 The Department Store might demonstrate the behaviors of the College Market and the sale rack could represent your own local bargain that is community college or junior college. Why? Here’s my experience, and I’d love to hear what you think at the end in the comments section.

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I found the perfect blouse at this secret sale rack; great color, fit perfectly, was simple enough to go with everything, and was miles below my budget. I found a community college with a lively campus, stellar reputation, and with an incredible film program. As if things couldn’t get any better, the whole box of glittery jubilee is on sale, a 90% mark down from the average private and state school, the kind of sale a girl can only dream of finding in an actual department store.

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It’s the best kept secret in the American Education System, which I think personally is a crying shame. It breaks my heart to think that there are kids under hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt that if given any other option would have gone the community college route, but instead are stuck spending the next decade or more spending their starting paychecks on loan payments when they could have gotten the same if not better education for one mammoth markdown.

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CC’s are nothing fancy or distinguished, but attending one for two years will be just what I need to complete essential general education and get my AA degree in Film Production. During which, I like so many others of my classmates may actually be able to make an income surplus by working through school. Flexible class scheduling is another great plus which would allow students to work a part-time job and gather those real-life adult experiences. Working and saving money will help make the cost of the last two years at a university after transferring several pounds lighter too. From what I’ve heard, being in debt doesn’t sound like any fun, and neither does not being able to drop classes without thousands of dollars go spinning down the drain… yet another plus to cost-effective education.

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This great article that Tom Hanks wrote for the New York Times is one of the factors that changed one of my parent’s minds (I won’t disclose which parent), but I highly suggest you dear reader take a one-click journey if you want to read more on this awesome topic.

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Both Tom Hanks and the input of other’s I’ve heard have made me believe that a thrifted education at a CC is a great option, and the perfect blend of humility and brilliance. I’ve heard some of the best, most passionate professors teach at cc’s because they’re simply more fun.

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My plan is to go to a community college for two years, maybe get an apartment with friends, work part-time and find media internships along the way, graduate with an AA degree in Film Production, go on a mission for my church for 1.5 years, and then finally come back and transfer to a bad-booty Film School and go from there.  The goal is to be debt-free in ten years so that I can be free to travel and work with no recurring green money monster nightmares at night, and Community College will help me get that head start.  I also want the best possible education in my area of interest (Film), and attending a cc gives me a second chance at finding the right film school that I didn’t have a chance to apply to during high school.  I couldn’t be more excited for this chapter of my life that is so close to beginning I can smell the decaf coffee from here.

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If you or someone you love is looking to expand their academic horizons and for whatever reason is hesitant to head straight for the big or Ivy leagues, feel free to pass along this post or any questions you/they might have.

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Stay classy not sassy,
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-SJT

Bays, Biology, and Pygmy Bisons

Okay guys. This one is so important, I haven’t even taken a real shower yet… sitting here in my grimy travel clothes to get some important thoughts out. Let me tell you about a little camp, on a little bay, on a little side, of a medium-sized island, off of a big state called California. Lost yet? It’s the Catalina Island Marine Biology Institute.

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   Ask  yourself, if you had three science teachers who you absolutely adored, and they came to you with a plan to take a school trip to an island off the California Coast to go snorkeling and play with the Sea Lions, would you also stand up and salute the flag of the United States of America? Probably not, unless you were pretty patriotic and into that sort of thing… but you’d probably sign up wouldn’t you? Great! We have some common ground then.
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   Right off the bat we went snorkeling in blueberry-colored wetsuits. Loved it. A few hours later we went out again after the sun went down and when we had gotten the hang of it, we were splashing the water in the dark until we could see bio-luminescent glitter sparkling around our feet and arms. Later, we hiked to see the sunrise and instead of just that, we were given a morning light show featuring every color in the paint palette, complete with a molten-orange sun, which we realized was not the one moving, we were. For the first time, I actually saw the figures in the constellations as described by their names. A belt, a sword, a bull, a dog, there they were like glittering connect-the-dots with a series of confusing yet compelling stories attached. At another point, I thought I was really cool and painted the seascape while my feet contracted hypothermia in the sand. This morning, leaving, it felt like the final scene to a movie. We were piled on the ferry. We waved goodbye to our counselors and as we slowly slipped away, they waved back and dove into the ocean in waves.
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   Don’t you love being humbled by cool things? Nature for example. I feel like a krill or a plankton right now. I am nothing compared to everything, yet I am something and that’s important too. My religion teaches similar lessons, but it doesn’t sink in until applied and here was a prime example. I found peace in a place where I could accept myself and be boggled by Heavenly Father’s masterpiece at the same time.
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   Unbelievably sad on the trip back home, I wrote down some lessons I never want to forget. Mostly these are for me and my future self, but they’re also yours if you want them too.
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1) My she-homies and I were sitting on a bridge during some minutes of free time at some point with our feet dangling over a stream that led out to the ocean a few feet away, and ironically enough, we were talking about friends who we experienced bridge-burning experiences with and whether or not that was a bad thing. On one hand, some bridges have to go sometime, the “friends for a season” theory, and that can be totally okay and on the other hand, sometimes it’s better to work on the bridge and make it stronger.
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2) How important it is to stay busy, and not be idle. If you run out of things to do, leave your comfort zone. Be interactive with the human race. Push what you believe your limits are. Challenge old doubts and set new goals.
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3) Wake up early and crash hard each and every night.
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4) Kind of a weird but solid sea metaphor: Without Plankton, the entire ecosystem would crash and burn. Without the small things we take for granted, we wouldn’t be here. So appreciate them on a greater scale.
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5) Bison. I apologize, another metaphor. There are small Bison on the island, which are still huge creatures but I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. I thought the counselors were having an elaborate leg-pulling fest when I saw one dozing in the quad when we came into camp. They’re pygmy bison though, their structures have shrunk to adapt to a smaller ecosystem. So don’t be like the bison and get trapped on a metaphorically small island, like your house or a small community. Let yourself move and expand. Maybe that means travel, maybe that means reach out to people you normally wouldn’t, whatever the case; give yourself room to grow and build a larger character.
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6) Your 20’s are a time to go and have an adventure. Take care of your body and get good at what you love while not being afraid to learn something new. Mix it with seeking a great education, and don’t be afraid of smaller schools.
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7) Take advantage of all the natural wonders in your community. Earth is a gift, unwrap it.
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8) Friendship shouldn’t have age boundaries. Don’t prevent yourself from building those bridges just because they happened to be born a year that wasn’t same year you were. And if those bridges stay strong, it won’t matter in 10… 20 years, and you’ll be so glad you made friends with a fifth grader on the way to Catalina Island when he’s a rock star Paleontologist and great listener who you’ll be able to call and complain to someday.
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9) Any idiot can take a picture. It takes someone special to sit, watch, and wait and for something beautiful. Those memories will be more useful to you in your brain storage than in your computer storage. Then take the picture, but let the memory of the moment sit with you.
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10) And lastly, sometimes social media can make us feel like we can never be alone. Like when we’re walking by ourselves, and see a stranger coming from the opposite direction, that we need to pull out a phone and pretend we’re texting or calling someone. You know yourself better than anyone, so why not get to know your own mind and strengths before you put them out in front of the world? Work on not just building a self-esteem, but retaining it, so that eventually, you can be sure of yourself in front of anybody.
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Slideshow time! To set the mood:
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Thanks dear reader for doing what you do best here… have an amazing week!
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-SJT
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p.s.
Oh yeah, guess who said yes?utahlogo
   When the family picked me up from the airport they said that a big envelope had come for me while I was gone with a big red U on the front. We got to the parking garage where I opened it and started bawling into my dad’s shoulder. I’m going to college.
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Feminist Film Camp

A few weeks ago I sat down with my college counselor for about the fourth time and something weird happened. She looked me in the eye, and without hesitation or a shadow of doubt, said that she had a good idea about what she wanted me to do in college. As in major and minor. As in future. As in career. As in something nobody had ever had the want, need, or inclination to tell me. But she did. She and her decades (but she absolutley doesn’t look it) of experience in the service of young people and more specifically their academic preparedness for college. I trust her. And that’s why what she said blew my mind, because I believed her. Whereas before I had never believed that someone would sit me down and tell me what to do with my life. Not that it matters, but I’ll tell you because it’s cool.

 

“Film… with an undergrad in business just to be safe”

 

Film. Well that part wasn’t a shock, but at the same time it was. I love it, and the people I know and love know that I love it. But even many of them wouldn’t volunteer the idea to me, for reasons I can’t really guess because it’s my blind dream we’re talking about. But I can get a feel for people, and what they usually tell me without words is “Oof that’s gonna be rough” or “Aw cute, until she decides she doesn’t want to be poor”. But again, my blind dream. And my counselor’s more than just my counselor, she’s my guru. (Yes, that good) And so she knows that when a teenager has fostered a love for something, by paying attention in that class or taught themselves a skill and has just simply made that time to love that time with that thing, whatever it may be, it’s important to not just to encourage it but to support it. So shoutout to my college counselor. And shoutout again when I’m receiving that Oscar.

It’s taken me months to get the energy to post again. It’s draining, this writing thing. Thoughts to fingertips to keys. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s a tough hobby to keep consistent with. It can only really be done when it’s from your being, because math says you can only give what you have and much as I hate to admit it, math is usually right. Math won’t allow me to write about things I haven’t fostered a care for, because the words won’t be there. So giving more of what I have is probably what I’m going to work on, and finding what those things are too. It’s easier with pictures. Anyone with my snapchat or following my instagram could tell you that. Sydneyjoto is kind of a mess there.

WHICH leads me to my next trick topic.

Film camp. More specifically, Feminist Film Camp. It has a better and more official name, which I’m not sure if I can share so we’ll just call it the former. I found out about it several weeks too late and then there was nothing short of a miracle; somehow they let me in. They turned out to be fabulous people who were incredibly talented at each of their varying jobs within the film industry. We met and skyped with movie directors, editors, PR people and went through what must be the process of making a movie because we did. We made a movie and aired it at a real premiere in a theatre. It’s two weeks later and I’m still feeling butterflies from that one. In teams of five, we wrote, directed, acted, edited, and finally produced a piece all while learning from the professionals about ways to do the best visual, audio, and story work possible. Oh and storyboarding. Almost forgot that.

Here are some notes from lunchtime speakers I took in my nerdy film journal 

• It takes both brains & luck
• Have people back you up with a common goal, but never give up creative control, even if that means you have to turn down an offer from Disney. (They have a thing about that)
• The documentarian women making “Code” always just wanted to make a film.
• On choosing a topic for a documentary, “It has to be something really important and topical.”
• Show before you tell, or just show and hope that tells enough.
• Honestly, you have no idea how an audience will take a movie. You’re just feeding your home made food to the kids and hope they like it.
• A director is the one who carries the production with his or her drive alone. The director needs to be the most passionate, the story is their baby and they want to see it succeed.
• You need a team that fills the many gaps of what you can’t do, and in the end work to create something a thousand times better than what you could’ve come up with. Notice how as movies have improved over time, the credits roll longer and longer?
• Editors push the scene layer upon layer, they have artistic license and mad organization skills
• Both creative and technical people are necessary to making movies. You just have to learn how to speak the two different languages.
• Actresses with cool roles really are the role models for young girls. Thanks to CSI, the number of women entering college since 2000 under Crime Investigation or Criminal Justice has dramatically increased
• As women, we tend to doubt ourselves. More women will walk into a job interview thinking that they’re hardly qualified, whereas men typically think “it’s all good I got this”. Know that you have got this as much as the boys do.
• Code, the language of computer code will be more and more invaluable to you in the future. Learn it, and you will almost be guaranteed to use it someday and get paid for it.
• Light is everything. In animation it makes the world seem like a place you can actually go to and visit. It converts kids to Disneyisms and in live-action can make adults cry and laugh or scream sometimes more effectively than just acting.
• A documentary is a hell of a lot of work. But so is a live-action film. And animation. All need smart and creative people and all are necessary to help tell the stories that need to be told.
• When trying to sell your movie, smile. Give gifts. I have seen grown men in suits almost get in a fist fight over a ballpoint pen that said “Sundance”.  Also, the best parties don’t serve caviar they serve hot dogs. People are hungry!

And lastly, favorite quotes:

“Smile. Love the process, and if you don’t, go be a dental hygienist.”

&

“If you love it, you’ll find a way to do it.”

let me repeat that for the haters

If you love it, you’ll find a way to do it.

 

You’re darn straight.

Something else I really love, is finding flaws in society and coming up with my own dumb solutions to fixing them. So I found a way to do that at this camp, with my production team. My problem, my solution. Please pay no attention to the lead actress she’s no Jlaw, but I think the message is something to think about. If you know a teenager or anyone with a picture-posting problem, or anyone really, please feel free to share.

You can only give what you have right? Subtraction and addition? Well here’s a story I wrote about a girl with an Instagram problem, and how I think kids should start viewing the way they view the world, which is not on a phone screen.

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HFRjtwmjbY%5D

Thank you dear reader for doing what you do best here, and I wish you all a wonderful day/evening/morning/birthday/holiday/drive/whatever else awaits you.

All the best,

Sydney

Angels, Cellos, and Corsages

You’d think second semester Junior Year would be a little more arduous, and maybe it is and we’re just numb to it. But the last few months have seemed the opposite and I know that’s a blessing, or maybe just the pleasant calm before the storm that is finals. Whatever the last month or so has been as far as the weight of the universe, it’s been a great story waiting to be told. Finally getting  around to it, thanks for being patient dear reader <3

1. Angels… or Los Angeles.

The kids in my  class in the Media Arts Program at our school were given the amazing chance to head south where the hub of our collective hobby lays, Hollywoodland and Welcome to Heaven where You’ll Meet Los Angeles. We rose a bus, somewhat set up a charging system with the one plug and all our respective chargers, and hit the i of 5 for about three years. I’ll toss a stone across the most interesting parts, as I suppose will go for this whole post. I know you want to get to the pictures anyway :)

Some things: Studio Tours including Pixar and the one with the rainbow and they shot Breaking Bad. Eh, forgot. UCLA and film school (counted how many kids were snoozing with books over their eyes in the library… 25 or something) , La Brea Tar pits (Imagine the smell of burning cabbage soaked in Soy Sauce), Comedy Sportz (Was funnier than your funniest Uncle times four is that a challenge yes. Yes it is. NATE.), Griffith Observatory (The holy conversion site of all Socal hipsters), Santa Monica Pier (They’ve got really nice staff working at Pizza hut), and a How I Met Your Mother Q&A at Paley Fest (Where Neil Patrick Harris wasn’t even present but stole the show anyway as was already expected). Dream to go to school here just kicked up three levels of motivation.

 

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2. Cello… or Monticello. And no you’re probably pronouncing it wrong. Stop saying Ch-ello say Ss-ello. Montissssssselloooo. Good job you, I’m proud. Cause das where I was born buddy-o! Double chest pound kiss the fist kind of love. Mhm.

Mi padre and history teacher does this little crazy trip every other year to get the kids “wizened up in the world” by going to the most remote corner of Utah possible. It’s incredible and you should visit sometime if you ever find yourself out in the four corners area. While there, our group of 20 or so teens and chaperones had the chance to hike and jeep and  bike and hike and hike and instagram incessantly whist whining about sunburns but most of us had no desire to leave by the end of the week. Reasons being, small towns are beautiful and small town people are even more so. Common background is closer, mentalities are lifted and having good, fun experiences are first priory. I was called “cute” multiple times for putting on a seatbelt.

We were adopted a little, and our group took back with us bits and pieces of that mentality. In the academic vortex we live in in this part of California, it felt healthy to visit another high school with simply different mental focuses. A refreshing inspiration set against those bad boys below.

Utah’s like another planet.

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 3. Corsages… or Prom and stuff

Most recently and for once, these are in order. Hair by Lisa, Makeup Bare Minerals, Dress Light in the Box, Super Chill date was M. and I just wanna thank him again for a great night. M is pretty dang rad. We did the snazzy little picture thing at a friends house surrounded by the parent possey wielding Canons and, as a certain grandma of mine likes to put it, we were off like a heard of turtles! The last sketchy picture is a little tough to make out but it’s of this little indoor creek I loved at prom itself.

Tiny dance floor, great people, good solid night of fun.

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All in all, April you’ve been very kind. Thanks boo

-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

21 Things To Do Instead of Social Media

This morning, just a few seconds after waking up, immediately rolled over to my charging phone and proceeded to do what I do every morning; check for new snap chats, Instagram likes, Facebook messages, followers on vine, retweets on twitter, and maybe even a couple notes on tumblr. Then I got up, had some human contact with the fam bam and then went back to it, and the pattern will probably continue throughout the weekend and in between the wee hours in school and between homework assignments. Safe to say, I spend at least a quarter of my day interacting on social media, and I’m sure this isn’t far from other kids my age. So instead of using the virtual world as a cure for boredom, here are some alternative things to do instead you may never have thought of. 

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1.  Visit your local library

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2.   Open one of your mom’s cookbooks and attempt to cook. Remember that failure is always okay.

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3.   Paint something (I’m giving up on you)

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4.   Write a letter to a distant family member. Include stickers,  glitter, candy if wanted.

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5.  Plan a “Super Date” around town. Set aside a couple of   hours to do some service, a scavenger hunt, and maybe even a picnic on a hill. Don’t forget the bikes.

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6.   Research charities you can relate to or share a cause you have a passion for and donate your time/money/old toys.

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7.   Blow the dust off an old board game.

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8.   Go swimming if it’s hot, skating if it’s cold. (Or you know switch it up or combine if you like das cool)

9.   Call grandma and just check in.

10. Go window shopping downtown and don’t buy a thing.

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11.   Give a sibling some special attention

12.   Study a globe or a map of the area you live 

13.  Read those books you got from the library

14.  Go to the gym

15.   Write in a Journal

16.  Give yourself a mini payday by gathering up loose change around the house and take it to the bank

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17.   Map out your future according to long term goals you’ve had

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18.  Go through your parents old CD’s and listen for sounds you might like

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19.  Record daily life using the same awkward hand technique as this here fellow photographer

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20. Go throwback thursday shopping (yes thats bebe joto)

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21. Make Lemonade/Orange Juice and then sell it on the corner. Proceeds to a charity maybe? But hey if you need it to pay off iTunes debts we’re not judging)

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Or then there’s this… you could definitely do this. Unless you’re bald or have lice. I’m sorry but that’s just not good.

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Pictures are from tumblr or mine. 

I hope you guys enjoyed this post and I hope you all have an unusually wonderful monday.