In The Face Of Shit

Saturday Night Live (SNL) is arguable one of the most important shows on television right now. The following is a paper I wrote for school explaining exactly why.

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It‭’‬s important to be able to laugh in the face of shit.‭ ‬Many have expressed great frustration concerning recent events that have happened in the United States,‭ ‬and although not literally speaking,‭ ‬feel as if facing‭ ‬these events is like facing a whole bunch of shit.‭ ‬On one hand there are the numerous political and social conflicts that have enveloped the United States in the past couple of months.‭ ‬And on the other hand,‭ ‬there are the television shows,‭ ‬spoofs,‭ ‬and comedians who make fun of these current affairs,‭ ‬most notable Saturday Night Live‭ (‬SNL‭)‬.‭ ‬This is not the first time in history in which serious problems with lethal consequences have been met with comedy and humor,‭ ‬for humor has a beautiful way of acting as a‭ ‬weapon that allows people to combat adversary.

‬During the Great Depression,‭ ‬which was the longest period of economic decline in the history of the United States,‭ ‬thousands of individuals took refuge in theaters and the movies to enjoy various forms of entertainment,‭ ‬one such form of entertainment being screwball comedy.‭ ‬Screwball comedy is a film genre that made its debut in the early‭ ‬1930‭’‬s and became popular in the early‭ ‬1940‭’‬s‭ (‬Weinman‭)‬.‭ ‬It is no accident that this time line interestingly enough follows the height of the Great Depression as well as the slow recovery from it.‭

Screwball comedy was created partly in rebellion to what became known as the Hays Code,‭ ‬a set of moral guidelines for motion pictures being filmed from‭ ‬1930‭ ‬to‭ ‬1968.‭ ‬While people of the Great Depression,‭ ‬particularly those of the lower class,‭ ‬wanted a way to express their frustrations towards the economic turmoil taking place,‭ ‬the Hays Code set strict rules as to what could and could not be shown in a film‭ (‬Weinman‭)‬.‭ ‬Screwball comedy was filmmakers‭’‬ way around those rules,‭ ‬as obscene jokes,‭ ‬sexual tensions,‭ ‬and social class critiques were hidden enough below the surface of the film to avoid censorship but still poignant enough to let audience members understand the underlining joke‭ ‬being made.‭

One of the most common elements of a screwball comedy is a romance interest in which two people who seem to be complete opposites overcome their differences and eventually fall in love with each other‭ (‬Weinman‭)‬.‭ ‬These individuals not only demonstrate polar opposite personalities but also take on what was considered role reversal for the‭ ‬time,‭ ‬where the woman in the relationship was from the upper class and it was the man who was from the lower class and struggling financially.‭

The‭ ‬1934‭ ‬film‭ ‬It Happened One Night was one of the first screwball comedies made and features a wealthy heiress‭ ‬who meets an unsuspecting reporter who was fired for drinking on the job.‭ ‬This contrast in social class appealed to the general public during the Great Depression because it often showed upper class individuals struggling to deal with the harsh realities‭ ‬that the lower class faced on a daily basis,‭ ‬giving them a lesson in compassion.‭ ‬It also allowed those from the lower class to feel as if they were upper class material without having to worry about being scrutinized for their desires.‭ ‬In essence,‭ ‬screwball comedy was a tool used during the Great Depression to protest the economic struggles many lower class and middle class individuals had to face.‭

The Great Depression ended in‭ ‬1939‭ ‬to meet the height of World War II,‭ ‬where the power of comedy continued to help relieve the pain of those suffering,‭ ‬including those suffering from one of the most well-known genocides of today,‭ ‬the Holocaust.‭ ‬Cabaret was the form in which comedians made their audiences laugh in the midst of people being sent to concentration camps.‭ ‬In Munich,‭ ‬cabaret performer Weiss Ferdl became known for a comedy routine in which he would bring pictures of prominent Nazis onstage and ponder aloud,‭ “‬Now should I hang them,‭ ‬or line them up against the wall‭?”‬ (Knepp‭ ‬6‭)‬.‭ ‬Other jests made at the Nazi regime included asking audience members from the Gestapo if they understood what was going on in case the show was going too fast for them.‭ ‬Or even outwardly mocking Hitler himself by breaking a black hair comb in half and taping the halves above the mouth in order to imitate Hitler‭’‬s infamous mustache.‭

Either way,‭ ‬people were not afraid to use comedy to make fun of the grim circumstances at the time.‭ ‬Associate editor for the magazine Maclean‭’‬s suggests that making fun of Hitler was a way of,‭ “‬cutting him down to size‭”‬ (Weinman‭)‬.‭ ‬By making light of a genocide that would ultimately result in the death of millions of people,‭ ‬individuals living during the Holocaust were cutting the devastation they faced down to size.‭

If the people in the Great Depression‭ ‬were facing extreme poverty while victims of the Holocaust were facing death,‭ ‬it begs to ask the question as to how comedy was able to provide any type of relief to anybody during those times.‭ ‬The answer partly lies in why a person might find something funny as well as the way our brains processes instances of humor.‭

Before looking at the science behind humor,‭ ‬it is important to distinguish between laughter and humor,‭ ‬for the two terms are often used synonymously even though they are distinctly different.‭ ‬Laughter is the physical response a person has when they find something funny,‭ “‬It‭’‬s like a punctuation mark‭”‬ (On The Brain‭ ‬1‭)‬,‭ ‬while humor is the intellectual capacity to find something funny.‭ ‬In short,‭ ‬humor causes laughter.‭

The prevailing theory of why we laugh is called the Incongruity Theory and it postulates that the cause of laughter is,‭ “‬the perception of something incongruous‭—‬something that violates our mental patterns and expectations‭”‬ (Morreall‭)‬.‭ ‬With this line of thinking,‭ ‬the comedian‭’‬s job‭ ‬then becomes a matter of leading their listeners down one path and at the last minute turning them down onto another path.‭ ‬So when Weiss Ferdl would bring those pictures of Reich leaders onstage,‭ ‬he made his audience believe those were just pictures,‭ ‬but‭ ‬when he gave the punch line,‭ ‬surprised the audience by making a joke about the Nazis.‭ ‬Regardless of whether the subject of the joke is itself serious of not,‭ ‬the act of thinking in one direction and then being cleverly led in a different direction is what‭ ‬people find amusing and subsequently compels them to laugh.

‬Laughing has a similar effect which sugar and drugs has on a person‭ ‬-‭ ‬it makes an individual aroused.‭ ‬While studying the effects of laughter during psychotherapy,‭ ‬Carl Marci MD from the Harvard Medical School found an increase of activity of the nervous systems of patients who laughed during their session‭ ‬-‭ ‬this nervous system which controls an individual‭’‬s blood pressure and heart rate,‭ ‬indicating an aroused state.‭ ‬Being aroused by humor in turn‭ ‬evokes feeling of happiness and relaxation,‭ ‬and in the face of adversary happiness and relaxation can provide much needed comfort for an individual‭ (‬On The Brain‭ ‬2‭)‬.‭

Even more intriguing from Marci‭’‬s study is when he found that this nervous system‭’‬s activity would not only increase but double when both the patient and psychiatrist laughed together in their session.‭ ‬This observation speaks to the social implications humor and laughter has on a group as a whole.‭ ‬Laughter is contagious because it encourages‭ ‬others to express similar feelings‭ ‬-‭ ‬it encourages empathy.‭ ‬Even the most popular sitcoms on television take advantage of the contagion of laughter by utilizing taped laughter.‭ ‬Taped laughter are tracks of prerecorded audience laughter inserted during a scene that is intended to be humorous.‭ ‬The tracks give a social cue to viewers and invites them to laugh along with the show.‭

The same concept of empathy can also be applied with watching shows in a group setting.‭ ‬When people living during the Great Depression went to the movies to see screwball comedies,‭ ‬they were doing so in an attempt to have the burdens of reality lifted off their shoulders,‭ ‬and while laughing at a man‭’‬s masculinity being challenged with another‭ ‬100‭ ‬people,‭ ‬was able to take solace in knowing that they were not alone in their woes.‭

Neurologically,‭ ‬when a person becomes aware of humorous stimuli from the outside environment,‭ ‬the cortical and subcortical networks of their brain begins processing the stimuli and various regions of the brain ultimately decide whether they find the stimuli convincing enough.‭ ‬It should be noted that,‭ “‬While these processes are generally intimately intertwined and difficult to separate using imaging paradigms,‭ ‬they are dissociable‭; ‬humorous intent can be recognised even when it does not provoke amusement‭”‬ (On The Brain‭ ‬3‭)‬.‭ ‬This means that a person can find something funny even if they do not laugh.‭ ‬A person may not laugh at Ferdl‭’‬s jokes about being persecuted by the Nazis,‭ ‬but if they find it amusing they can still reap the rewards of becoming aroused from it.

‬If our minds define humor as something that doesn‭’‬t fit with our expectations and arousal is an effect of when that moment of humor becomes clear,‭ ‬it is not surprising that people living through the Great‭ ‬Depression and the Holocaust used comedy as a form of therapy in the face of incredible circumstances.‭ ‬Comedy is intended to make people laugh but that doesn‭’‬t mean it‭’‬s always reassuring.‭ ‬As director of the‭ ‬2007‭ ‬comedy film‭ ‬My Furher‭ ‬-‭ ‬The Really Truest Truth about Adolf Hitler explains,‭ “‬There is a saying,‭ ‬‘Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,‭’‬ I think the same goes for those who can’t laugh at history as well‭” (‬Weinman‭)‬.‭ ‬Comedy therefore is a defense mechanism that can not only be used to fight against adversary in the past,‭ ‬but to also fight against adversary happening right now.

‬SNL is an American sketch comedy and variety show currently in its‭ ‬42nd season since premiering in‭ ‬1975.‭ ‬This late-night show features various celebrities who perform comedy acts meant to poke fun at contemporary culture and politics.‭ ‬Considering the recent string of events that have taken place in the political sphere of the United States,‭ ‬SNL is now what screwball comedy was to the Great Depression and‭ ‬what cabaret was to the Holocaust‭ ‬-‭ ‬it‭’‬s comedic relief in a time of uncertainty.‭ ‬SNL not only gives people a way to laugh at everything happening in the world right now,‭ ‬it also gives people permission to laugh at it.‭ ‬While it doesn‭’‬t actually solve any‭ ‬of the problems at hand,‭ ‬and at least according to the Twitter accounts of some particular individuals,‭ ‬people do get offended by the jokes,‭ ‬SNL made millions of people laugh just from last week‭’‬s episode alone.‭ ‬It‭’‬s important to be able to laugh in the face of shit because doing so ensures that tragedy doesn‭’‬t get the last laugh.‭

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Sources:

Knepp,‭ ‬Robin.‭ ‬Laughing Together:‭ ‬Comedic Theatre as a Mechanism of Survival during the Holocaust.‭ ‬2013.‭ ‬Web.‭ ‬10‭ ‬Feb.‭ ‬2017.

Morreall,‭ ‬John,‭ “‬Philosophy of Humor‭”‬, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ‭(‬Winter‭ ‬2016‭ ‬Edition‭)‬,‭ ‬Edward N.‭ ‬Zalta ‭(‬ed.‭)‬,‭ ‬URL‭ = ‬.

On The Brain.‭ “‬Humor,‭ ‬Laughter,‭ ‬and Those Aha Moments‭”‬.‭ ‬The Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute Letter‭ (‬Spring‭ ‬2017‭)‬:1-3.‭ ‬Web.‭ ‬10‭ ‬Feb.‭ ‬2017.

Weinman,‭ ‬Jaime J.‭ “‬Hitler Is Hilarious.‭” ‬Maclean’s‭ ‬120.7‭ (‬2007‭)‬:‭ ‬50.‭ ‬Biography Reference Bank‭ (‬H.W.‭ ‬Wilson‭)‬.‭ ‬Web.‭ ‬9‭ ‬Feb.‭ ‬2017.

Title Image: www.theindiemusicchannel.com

When A Beautiful Thing Yields An Unfavorable Result

 

At this point you are probably either extremely happy or extremely somber.

If you did vote for Trump, congratulations – I am sincerely glad that you got to elect somebody into office who you believe will lead this country in the right direction – that’s one of the beautiful basic rights we have in the United States.

If you did not vote for Trump and are truly horrified by the outcome of this election, I want you to know two things:

  1. We are fortunate enough to live in a country that allows us to live our lives the way we want, and to believe in  what we want. And ultimately, no persons, no president, no celebrity, absolutely nobody, can make those decisions for us. At the end of the day we get to make those decisions for ourselves. And,
  2. If you are truly opposed to a Trump presidency, then at this point the best thing you can do is be extra mindful of being kind and compassionate and respectful moving forward. Do not bash Trump supporters on social media, do not say that you’re not proud to be American, do not joke about moving out of the country. Instead, conduct yourself in a manner that shows that you disagree with Trump’s words and behaviors. If you really want to oppose Trump, show the world that not all of us are like him.

Taking a step back to look at the big picture and ignoring the actual outcome, I think there is a larger issue that is starting to rear its ugly head around the corner. And that larger issue is, what does it take to make a winning campaign.

This election if anything was just purely exhausting. Everybody was tired at the end of it, both the candidates and the voters. Which to me is really sad because the presidential election is supposed to be a symbol of our country believing in the right for people to have a say in who our government leaders should be, which is something many people around the world don’t get to have.

And yet this time around the presidential election was something nobody was looking forward to. There were many people who saw this election as choosing the lesser of the two evils, instead of what it should be, which is choosing the better of the two leaders.

From day one, this election was going to be significant – for the first time there was a real chance that the first female president was going to be elected. And then on top of that, what nobody had expected, a non-politician candidate entered the race. And not just any non-politician candidate, a non-politician candidate with a “say-anything that comes to mind” mindset.

As the election moved forward, words were said, punches were thrown, tweets were posted. And then moving further down the line, more words were said, name calling behavior ensued, social media became a battleground for opposing sides. Until finally, down to the final month, unkind words and personal insults became the norm.

And that right there, is the ugly head of the precedence that has been set forth from this election.

This election sends the message that to attain the most powerful position in the White House, instead of promoting good causes, you should play up on people’s fears. Instead of offering solutions to important issues, you should use Twitter to attack people. Instead of telling people how your experiences have prepared you for presidency, you should make offensive comments about their personal lives.

I think both candidates at some point, to at least some extent have been guilty of these negative behaviors during this past year – arguable some more so than others. But the point is that this negative behavior became the norm during the election process.

And if we can behave this way during the most important election process for the country, what says we can’t behave this way everyday?

A presidency lasts four-years, but a precedence lasts a lifetime.

If You Don’t, Somebody Else Will

I remember what my mother said to me when I told her that I wanted to use the summer to work on personal projects instead of getting a job. She said, “Hailey, if you really want to do it you’ll find the time and energy to do it on top of working but a part of life is realizing that you have to eat.” (Please refer to Fact Of Life #2).

That was basically her way of gently yet firmly saying that it would be unacceptable for me to not get a job for the summer.

(And yes, she was correct in her judgement on that one).

As somebody living in the “technology era”, I can get just about everything I could possible want/need through a laptop, computer, phone, and/or app. We live in a world in which we have access to tools and resources that even ten years ago would have only been accessible to a numbered few.

For example, Adobe Creative Cloud. For about $20 per month per application, you can have access to various Adobe Creative Cloud applications ($10 per month for the Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC applications).

In case you don’t know, Adobe Creative Cloud is a tool used by professionals and is considered one of the top tools for the creative fields.

And you as as an individual, whether you are somebody who wants to experiment with that kind of application or somebody who needs to use the application for work, can have access to it in your own home for less money than you would make while working three hours at a minimum wage job.

The point I’m trying to make is that with all the resources available now a days, quite a few of them which are also free, there isn’t an excuse as to why you can’t do something.

Pushing past all the B.S. personal excuses you make to yourself as to why you can’t do that project or work on that idea you have, if you really want to do something you will find a way to do it.

You won’t think about how busy you are because you’ll be too occupied with moving everything around in order to fit it into your schedule.

You won’t think about how tired you are because you’ll be too motivated to work on it.

You won’t think about how you don’t have the resources because you’ll be too distracted with finding a way to get the things you need in order to make it happen.

If you really want to do something, you won’t let anything stop you.

There is one ultimate, no questions asked, hands down, zero excuses reason as to why you should never not do something you’re truly passionate about. Even if you don’t think it’s going to turn out well. Even if you’re unsure as to how it’s going to turn out. No matter what it is. No matter the size of it.

You should always do it because,

If you don’t, somebody else will.

~Hailey Hoyat

(And I don’t know about you, but that thought scares the sh** out of me).

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Housekeeping Note: Fact Of Life #5 has been added to the The Facts Of Life page. Check it out.

Also, if you are a student I want to make you aware that you can have access to all of the Adobe Creative Cloud applications for $21.99 a month (as opposed to the $51.99 that you would have to pay if you weren’t a student). Hint: That’s a huge discount, take advantage of it.

The following is a link to information about Adobe Creative Cloud in case you may be interested. Adobe Creative Cloud

Image is from blogs.adobe.com

Magic For Muggles

On July 20, 2007 I distinctly remember spending the good part of the evening plus about half the night at the Barnes & Nobles that was down the street from me.

Now you may ask, “Why in the world was an 11-year-old who was celebrating her birthday spending over 6 hours in a Barnes & Nobles?”

The answer is that I was in that Barnes & Nobles for the same reason 300 other people were in that Barnes & Nobles – to wait for the release of the final book in the Harry Potter Series – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

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en.wikipedia.org

I admit I am not a die-hard crazy fan of the Harry Potter Series. Not because I don’t like it, just because I never really got that into it. I will always appreciate a Harry Potter movie but would I choose that over a Columbo or Murder, She Wrote marathon? Meh….

What I really appreciate though, and something that I’m coming to appreciate more and more as I continue to go through my college career, is how Harry Potter came to be.

To lay it all down on the table because honestly this could take up an entire book, J.K. Rowling overcame just about every imaginable obstacle to become one of the most successful and influential writers in history. She lived in poverty described by her as, “poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless” (Wikipedia, 2016), she went through an abusive relationship, she was diagnosed with clinical depression, she considered suicide, her mother passed away, she raised a baby.

And on top of all that, she wrote the first Harry Potter book.

Rowling’s ability to persevere through all those obstacles is nothing short of incredible.

But there is one thing that stands out to me more than anything else.

In 1995, when Rowling finished the manuscript for the first Harry Potter book, literary agent Bryony Evens agreed to represent Rowling in finding a publisher.

The manuscript was submitted to 12 publishing houses who all rejected the book.

Let me put this another way – 12 publishing houses passed up the chance to publish the highest grossing book series in history.

(To be honest, I don’t know if 12 is exactly the correct number. I’ve seen 12 and 9, sometimes even 6. Either way, I’m sticking with 12 for as far as this post is concerned).

It was the 13th publishing house, Bloomsbury that took Rowling up on the book, and at the time even they cautioned her to get a job because there was a good chance she wouldn’t be able to make a living from selling children’s books.

(Just so you know, Rowling is now considered the wealthiest author in the world).

The thing that speaks to me the most is how after 12 publishing houses rejected her book, rejected the thing Rowling had put her heart and soul into, she still found the confidence and stubbornness inside of herself to keep submitting her book for review with the help of her agent.

And as it just so happened, that confidence and stubbornness needed to risk a 13th rejection was exactly what was needed to get her first book published.

Just imagine if Rowling had given up after that 12th publishing house.

Remember Fact Of Life #15: All ideas are stupid until they finally work, and then everybody wants a piece of the pie.

In conclusion, there are two things that Harry Potter reminds me to do:

  1. To always believe in magic, and
  2. To always believe in my ideas no matter what anybody else says

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Housekeeping Note: All information was taken from the below links.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._K._Rowling

http://www.ranker.com/list/best-selling-book-series-of-all-time/jeff419

Valkyrie And The Freedom Writers

O.k., so two stories this week. One about a Nazi and another about a teacher.

First, the Nazi.

Valkyrie is a 2008 movie based on true events during WWII. It tells the story of a group of high ranking officials in Nazi Germany who attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944. This assassination attempt was the last assassination attempt on Hitler before the Allied Powers came to win WWII.

The group gets the idea to use Operation Valkyrie, Hitler’s national emergency plan, to gain control of the country and bring down Nazi Germany. In the end their attempted assassination of Hitler fails, order is restored to the Nazi Regime, and all those involved in the assassination are executed.

One of the officials involved with the assassination, Henning von Tresckow, says in the movie, “We have to show the world that not all of us are like him. Otherwise, this will always be Hitler’s Germany”.

Now about the teacher.

Erin Gruwell is a teacher best known for The Freedom Writers, a name used to refer to her students who used writing to tell their stories.

Gruwell began her teaching career at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach California, teaching low performance and “at-risk” students. Among teaching her students about the Holocaust, which the majority of her students knew nothing about, she asks each of them to keep a journal. The compilation of their journals leads to the publication of The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them, as well as the forming of the Freedom Writers Foundation.

In The Freedom Writers Diary Gruwell says, “Don’t let the actions of a few determine the way you feel about an entire group”.

…………………………………………………

Last week the largest mass shooting to date in modern U.S. history happened in Orlando, Florida.

49 people were killed and many more injured.  And now today I see headlines everywhere that the Senate has blocked 4 more gun control laws.

I admit I don’t know a lot about politics, sadly to say, nor do I know a whole lot about ISIS, and I think that if you don’t know all the facts about something, you don’t have a right to point a finger at somebody or something.

(It is o.k. to say that you cannot speak on a subject because you do not know enough about it).

What I do know about is what I’ve experienced in my life. For instance, I know that my family comes from three different cultures from around the world. I know that the host families I had when I traveled through Europe made my experience more meaningful than any 5 star hotel ever could. And I also know that the international students whom I met last semester at school were some of the kindest people I’ve ever met in my life.

There is a difference between the individual and the whole. Terrorism does not come with a religion, ethnicity, culture, or a race, and therefore you cannot allow those who commit acts of terrorism to speak for the entire group. If you do allow those individuals to speak for the entire group you are letting them win, for only more hate will perspire in the world from that kind of mentality.

What you’ve experienced in your life is what you know best about. And what you know best about is what you should share with the world.

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Housekeeping Note: Gruwell’s personal story about teaching was made into a 2007 movie called Freedom Writers and stars Hilary Swank as Gruwell.

 

The Importance Of Journaling

People who say they journal everyday are either lying or are immortal.

I’ve tried journaling before and it always lasted for about 2.5 seconds. And then before I know it, the journal is being used as a coaster.

Part of my problem is that my mind moves 10X the speed that my hand can write, so trying to write down everything in a journal is just frustrating. Another frustration is that I always come back to an idea at spontaneous moments and so there’s no good way to delegate real estate that will keep everything organized. And writing in pencil and constantly having to erase gets messy very quickly.

So instead of traditional journaling I do my own kind of “journaling”.

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First I keep a quote book. Whenever I come across something someone said that really rings with me, I write down what was said, who said it, and in what situation I heard it for the first time. I have quotes recorded in that book from sophomore year of high school. Yet no matter how old a quote is, I could tell you exactly where I was and what I felt when I heard that quote said.

That’s the power of words.

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Another thing I do is keep a sketchbook in which I draw out my ideas. Some pages are all words while other pages are all drawings and many pages are a mix of both. If you were to look inside it, at least half of the pages you would not be able to figure out at all what I was thinking. And that’s sort of the cool part about keeping a sketch book in particular. Only you have the full answer key as to what is happening on each page. Most people can piece together even broken up phrases and notes. But it takes much more to piece together a drawing or sketch, especially if that drawing or sketch is an idea you have.

Moral of the story: whatever medium works for you, keep a documentation of what you find important. Because regardless of what form that documentation takes, that documentation tells a story and remember,

 

“Everybody has a story.”

  ~Vikki Pruitte-Sorrells

(10th Grade English)

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Housekeeping Note: Apologies for the absent\late posts. We will be back on track starting this Monday.

The first notebook (my Quotes Book) pictured above is a notebook I was given sophomore year of high school from my English teacher as a congratulatory for participating in an oration speech contest.

The black sketchbook (my Idea Sketchbook) pictured above is a sketchbook from Barnes and Nobles.

Fact Of Life #8 has been added to The Facts Of Life page. Check it out. (linked below)

The Facts Of Life

No Chasing Allowed

Money can be a really scary thing sometimes.

It’s scary to be in debt or to not have enough money or have to constantly worry about such issues.

One of the many things my parents have taught me well is how to manage money. We never had a formal sit down talk about it or anything, but like many other things we learn, I learned through observing. And what I have learned from observing my parents, are what I believe to be very important lessons in handling one’s money.

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Money is a Fact of Life

It’s sad to think that good intentions can be foiled or limited by something as materialistic and silly as money.

I had my first experience with that harsh reality with the robotics team at my school. We started the team from scratch Fall of 2014 and the competition we were doing was the cheapest college robotics competition you could ever do (robotics is an expensive hobby).

Even so, the first question the team’s adviser asked me was, “How do you plan on getting the money for this?”

What I learned from being on the front lines of fundraising for the team is that money is easy when you’re not the one having to worry about it. But when you are the one responsible for it, all hell breaks loose.

Also, it is scary and massively intimidating to have to sit in front of somebody and ask them for money. You feel small and bad that you’re having to ask and it’s just an all-around intimidating thing to do. And that’s why fundraising is so difficult and why you should have mad respect for those who do it.

Everything Comes at a Price

The chair of the engineering department told me this once when working out the team’s budget for the year. He said that the department will help fund part of the team but in return we must do something for the department. That something is STEM outreach in the community to help expand the department’s image.

Everything comes at a price, and you must be careful that you are able to wake up even.

It’s a Give-Take Kind of Relationship

The logistic of making sure you have enough money is really to start saving; and saving means prioritizing. If you buy this, you cannot buy this. And if you need this, you have to take money from the things you don’t really need so you can afford the things you do need.

It takes a lot of self-discipline to be smart in the way you save, but it is a crucial life skill to be able to prioritize (and the sooner you start, the better off you’ll be).

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It’s Not About the Money

A friend of mine who goes to another school, went through a similar experience as me when she was also starting a new group on her campus. Their group needed about $2500 for that pilot year. About $2000 of that budget went to buying necessary supplies. The other $500 went to being able to go to competition.

Now, going to competition was not mandatory per se. But she knew that if their group did not bust a move in their first year, the school would lose interest in supporting them and the students who showed initial interest would no longer be interested in the group either. She believed so much in the group that going to competition became mandatory for them in her mind. And therefore making sure they had all the needed supplies also became mandatory. They had to meet their budget line.

The group was able to raise $1300 from local and university sponsorships. It was a month before competition and they were still $1200 short from making their budget. So what my friend did, and one of the things that reassured me that she was among the greatest people I know, is she wrote a personal check for $1200 and sent it to the university as an anonymous donation for the group. And then she started looking for hotel accommodations.

Logistically speaking, in the grand scheme of things $1200 is chump change, but to a college student that’s a considerable amount of money. Especially when you consider that that money wasn’t going towards something that was directly for her, like for her to study abroad or a new computer or anything.

When I asked her about it she said that giving that money in one swoop of the pen was easy because having the group meant that much to her. When she graduates she won’t think about the money she gave; she’ll think about the group she started from scratch and how that group will still be around after she leaves. She’ll think about the legacy she would have left at her school, and that to her was priceless.

Moral of the story in one line: it’s not about the money; it’s about the investment that the money goes towards.

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Quality, Not Quantity

It is very important to get the most out of your purchases.

Casey Neistat, the film maker I mentioned in an earlier post, had to max out his only credit card in order to buy the very first computer he ever owned. It was with that computer with which he started making his own movies and videos. He now has his own studio in New York in which he makes the movies he wants to make on top of the other zillion things he does.

Now, I’m not telling you to go out and buy that yacht you’ve always wanted because you’re willing to commit yourself to using it every weekend.

But what I am saying is to ask yourself honestly before you buy anything: What are you going to use it for? Are you really going to use it? And what are you going to gain from it?

And before making that purchase, make sure you have some damn good answers to those questions.

No Chasing Allowed

Whatever you want to do, never go into it for the money – you will not make it because that “selfishness” will come through in your work and nobody likes a fake.

You’ll be a fake because a writer’s ultimate job is to write, not to make money. You’ll be a fake because an actor’s ultimate job is to make films, not to make money. You’ll be a fake because a musician’s ultimate job is to make music, not to make money.

The ultimate goal in life is to do what you love, not to make money.

Focus on doing whatever you’re doing really well and the money will come to you.

Money is not something to chase; it is something that comes when it is well deserved.

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Housekeeping Note: The mason jar pictured above is a jar my ex-roommate and I started keeping in our dorm. We called it the Semester Jar, and what we would do is put our spare change in the jar throughout the semester. At the end of the semester, as a treat or when we needed a break from finals, we would use the money collected to get pizza or something of the sort. It was our way of saving.

The wallet pictured above is the Plaid Magic Wallet from Charming Charlie.

The Extraordinarily Normal

Casey Neistat is a film maker and Youtuber. I watch his vlogs and would like to bring up something he mentioned in one of them. He was doing a Q&A and somebody asked him what the most interesting part about going to the Oscars this year was. Now, keep in mind this was the year of the “White People’s Oscars” and also the year Leo won his first Oscar. So there were a lot of interesting moments to choose from.

The moment he chose was when he went backstage and saw a whole bunch of the Oscar nominees lined up. All in their breathtaking gowns, crisp tuxedos, high heels, shining shoes, standing in total grandeur, about to attend one of the greatest movie award events in the world…….

All waiting to use the bathroom.

The moment struck him because it was funny to realize that these stars, who are beyond famous, idolized as Gods and Goddesses, have to use the bathroom just like him, just like me, just like the President, and just like you.

They set an alarm clock because just like you they will oversleep if they don’t; they have gotten speeding tickets just like you when they’ve disregarded the law; they get dressed the same way as you, and they shit the same way too.

Which makes you wonder. Maybe we’ve been looking at this all wrong. Maybe the point is not that they’re extraordinary, but rather that they’re normal.

So then what’s the difference between them and us? It ain’t that hard to figure out. The difference is in the word. Extraordinary. Exxtraordinary. Extra-ordinary. Extra. Extra work… extra dedication… extra discipline… extra sweat… extra heart and soul. You see where I’m going with this?

They’re not extraordinary people, they’re normal people. Their work is extraordinary. That’s what we truly idolize about them.

Everybody is normal; the question is what do they do, what will YOU do, that is extraordinary.

It’s easy to think you don’t have something to contribute; the intimidating part is when you realize that you do have something to contribute, and let me just say, we all have something to contribute.

That’s when the road becomes jagged, no longer black and white, no longer a straight shot. But it also becomes colorful, and exciting, and fun, and full of adventure. The road has a much larger fee, it takes a lot of extra things to travel it, but it leads to a much better destination.

They seem like Gods and Goddesses, but what they really are, are normal people doing extraordinary things.

The Two Kinds Of Bitches

There are two kinds of bitches in this world. There are the “F*** you” kind of bitches, whom nobody cares for. And then there are the “Thank God you exist, because you are the perfect bitch, at the right time, in the right place, and for the right reasons”. Those people are blessings in disguise. They will be the first ones to help you whenever you fall, because they believe in compassion and giving back to others. They will be the first to knock you down when you step a single foot out of line because they also believe in justice and fairness. Those people are blessings and it is those kinds of people whom I strive to be like.

You’ve probably never heard somebody put the world in that kind of perspective before, and if you have, remember, you heard it from me first.

So I guess now would be a good time for me to introduce myself. My name is Hailey, commonly known as Hails.

From my vantage point, the world is like a big chocolate chip cookie…and I’m one of those chocolate chips.

Just kidding.

Just kidding.

Totally joking right there.

I actually believe the opposite. I have come to the somewhat harsh, but truthful, realization that I am just an everyday “normal” going through life in the huge universe like the rest of you 7.2 billion people.

With that said, the most interesting thing I have to say about myself for now, is that I am normal. O.k., so maybe that’s not exactly interesting – what I should say is that that is the most important thing about me right now.

It’s important because at this moment I am a college student, just like the other 20 some million college students in the U.S., and just like those other 20 some million college students, I am at a pivotal point in my life. I am experiencing changes in my interests, changes in my body, emotions, self-image. I am doing things I never thought I would ever do, and not doing things I always thought I would do.

The point of all this, is that as I am experiencing all of these changes, so are the other 20 some million college students in the U.S. This is important because during times of personal change, the road is rarely smooth, and it is easy to become bogged down by the thought that you are the only one going through the mess you’re going through. It is important to realize that you are never the first one, nor will you be the last, to have this problem. It is important to realize that you’re normal.

This is the first blog post I’ve ever done and I wanted to make it short and sweet. I don’t know exactly how this whole blogging thing is going to go, but for now I’m enjoying the thought of being able to share my two cents (whether you asked for it or not).