The Smallest Things

“life_is_not-28947

“Life is an end in itself, and the only question as to whether it is worth living is whether you have had enough of it.”

~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

I learned a very important lesson over this winter break: when all else fails, it’s the smallest things that make life amazing. Sure, sure, it’s been said before and more than a little bit cliche for my taste but I can’t help it if it’s true.

This is my first winter break in college. The nice–and quite surprising–part is I get 6 weeks off before going back to the daily grind. Finals week, for me, was Hell. Like the typical Freshman I had overloaded myself with 7 classes, a total of 17 units, this semester.

When I got home life was just as chaotic as school was. It wasn’t until I started noticing and doing the “little things” that everything (internally at least) started calming down.

I found little pockets of time for me to attend to myself. I grabbed lunch with my friends, finally sat down and read that book I’d been meaning to since September, I bought a cute dress…. Hell, at one point I rented and rode shotgun in a cherry red ’57 Bel Air for awhile.

 

A shot I took while we were driving into the city.

A shot I took of the Bel Air while we were driving back into the city.

Slowly, over the course of 5 weeks, I slowly began to relax. Now the final week of my break is coming to an end and I just wanted to take time to reflect. It’s been a good 5 weeks, even with the craziness of it all.

I also just wanted to share a few of the little things that made my break just that much better.

1. This untitled song (by Will Currie and the Country French)

Originally made for “The Depressing Episode” on the The Cyanide & Happiness Show this song goes with a short animation about a man with cancer and his pregnant wife. This song, when taken out of context, is absolutely beautiful (instead of just plain heartbreaking). The combination of what seems like soft yearning and rawness in the singer’s voice with the slow piano melody transports me to somewhere… Happy. According to the singer’s Twitter account, the song was never meant to be more than a mood setter for the episode but may be releasing a iTunes version some time in the not too distant future.

2. These quotes/poems

3. This comedian (Bo Burnham)

He’s a different type of comedian. The combination of his humor and music makes for a refreshing type of stand up comedy that I really enjoy.

4. This awesome craft (that I will hopefully complete some time this Sunday)

I’ve always been a creative person so when I saw this on Pintrest it pretty much called to me. I recently got into card making–which helps my creative side break from the monotony of school–but this looked completely different, this looked…. Wicked awesome!

A birthday card I made for a classmate last month.

A birthday card I made by hand for a classmate last month.

5. This book (We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas)

WeAreNotOurselves

This book was quite a read, I only have about 10 more chapters to go. Without giving away anything, I can say that it’s one hell of a captivating story about a family in the 20th century. I highly suggest it.

 

So laughter, imagination, and inspiration… That’s whats been keeping me relaxed through the turbulence of life. I hope that these things can create a little pocket of happiness in your life too. Remember, take one day at a time and enjoy life.

 

It’s the little things that make life worth living for.

Button Poetry

I know I’ve talked about spoken word before but this morning I found the “Button Poetry” Youtube page. I’m not addicted, I swear.

I think I may have posted a couple of their videos on here before but this one is exclusively from them. Enjoy.

 

Alex Dang – “What Kind of Asian Are You?”

Dylan Garity – “Rigged Game”

Denice Frohman – Accents

Patrick Roche – “21”

Kevin Yang – “Srirachapocalypse”

Denice Frohman – “Dear Straight People”

Talia Young – “The Virgin’s Lament”

Jenesis Fonseca – “The Way to a Woman’s Heart”

 Ebony Stewart – “Box”

Anna Binkovitz – “Asking For It”

“Dave Harris – “Sweet Tea”

Patrick Roche – “Siri: A Coping Mechanism”

Ariana Brown – “Volver, Volver”

Ollie Renee Schminkey & Wyatt Kat Fleckenstein – “Small Towns”

 

Extra (not by Button Poetry):

Mike Rosen “When God Happens”

The Secret Life of Flowers

“Earth laughs in flowers”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson 

index

I’ve made a few posts about writing: different forms (such as poetry), interesting words you could use, and even writing exercises. Well, here’s another one.

I’ve talked quite often on Juniper and all the different things I learned there. One of the last days I was there, a girl in our group, Chloe, presented a piece of her writing. It was absolutely beautiful and I hope she gets published someday, but that’s besides the point, that’s not what I learned. Our instructor, Zoe, pointed something out. Chloe had a reoccurring theme of tulips and other types of flowers in her story. No one knew what tulips actually represented: death, happiness, serenity, etc. and we were told to go get a flower dictionary.

Normally I wouldn’t bring this up, but I was reading The Awakening by Kate Chopin and I realized that the last paragraph (almost always one of the most important paragraphs in any book) was telling us more than most people perceive. It was all about the flowers.

This is the last paragraph:

“She looked into the distance, and the old terror flamed up for an instant, then sank again. Edna heard her father’s voice and her sister Margaret’s. She heard the barking of an old dog that was chained to the sycamore tree. The spurs of the cavalry officer clanged as he walked across the porch. There was the hum of bees, and the musky odor of pinks filled the air.”

Most people don’t know this, but the sycamore tree represents curiosity while pinks represent pure love. For those of you who haven’t read The Awakening, this story is about self discovery. I can’t say too much without spoiling the end, but what I can say is that knowing that the symbols for curiosity and pure love is in that final scene really help solidify my theory of what happens (it’s an open ended book).

My point is this: every person who is an writer, in an AP, or in a college class needs to have a dictionary of flowers. So, here you go: Language of Flowers by Charlotte de Latour.

It’s actually a pretty interesting read, well, to me at least. Because I’m a giant nerd. But, for those of you who want the most popular flowers, I’ll provide a list below. Enjoy!

Rose (red)-Love

Daffodil-Self love

Cherry tree-Educated

Cypress-Mourning

Daisy-Innocence

Ivy-Friendship

Poplar (black)-Courage

Sunflower-False riches

Sycamore-Curiosity

Violet-Modesty

 

“By all those token Flowers that tell

What words can never speak so well.”

~Byron

5 Examples of Innovation

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”

~Steve Jobs 

Maiden Voyage

Maiden Voyage

So this week I found a few  great examples of innovation. Ranging from photography to face painting and business cards, these things will blow you away.

 

1. Dreamscape photos

These amazing photos by Jee Young Lee are a part of the “State of Mind” exhibit. I think the most impressive part of these self portraits are that they are photoshop free.

2. Creative Business Cards

These creative business cards are pretty fun or useful. I’m not sure how safe the dried meat business card is to eat, but hey, I guess if you’re in a bind…

3. Face Painting

It’s amazing how the artiest, Christy Lewis, can transform these kid’s faces into these amazing pieces of art. From cartoon characters to a Dia de Los Muertos girl, these designs will be sure to astound you.

4. Watch part Insects

These cool sculptures by Justin Gershenson-Gates are a part of the “A Mechanical Mind” series. Each and every one of these little creatures are made out of used watch parts!

5. The Miniature World Of Snails

These cute pictures of these snails are taken by Vyacheslav Mishchenko. Each one of these great pictures are the result of patience and being in the right place at the right time, which I think is pretty cool!

 

I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did! You can find more here:

1. http://www.boredpanda.com/stage-of-mind-surreal-photography-jee-young-lee/

2. http://www.boredpanda.com/creative-business-card-designs/

3. http://www.boredpanda.org/daizy-design-kids-face-painting/

4. http://www.boredpanda.org/artist-constructs-spine-chilling-insects-and-spiders-from-recycled-watch-parts/

5. http://www.boredpanda.com/snail-macro-photography-vyacheslav-mishchenko/

Earth Day

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

~John Ruskin

Today, for those of you who didn’t know, was Earth Day. In honor of Earth Day I decided to dig up some old photos that really show how beautiful our world really is. I hope you enjoy!

 

Our planet is beautiful, it really is. I hope that these pictures can remind all of you that we should take care of our home, it’s the only one we’ve got. So take some tome off today to enjoy it. Log off, and enjoy nature. Go for a walk, head down to the closest beach/lake/river and take a swim, or just find somewhere quite to sit for awhile. Take it in and relax.

Happy Earth Day guys!

“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.”

~Helen Keller 

AP Testing: Blackmailing Teenagers

“When you are older, the quizzes, the tests, will all mean nothing. The SAT and ACT test students on how well they can take a test, how well they can memorize useless vocabulary. You will always have access to a calculator and if need it be, you can always find equations on Google. When you go out into the real w0rld, that’s when you will really learn what’s important.”

~Frank Thong

images

So we’ve been preparing for AP testing for the past few weeks. Most of my teachers have been giving us practice problems/tests/essays so we will do well. But here’s a question: why are we even taking the AP’s in the first place?

Now, I understand that the AP tests are meant to see if we have actually payed attention to what’s been going on, if we’ve actually learned anything. It’s how we qualify for college credit, which is fine. I get that. What I don’t understand is why some AP teachers force their students to take the tests.

Take, for example, my AP US Government teacher. Now, at my school we only take one semester of Government and one semester of Economics regardless if they are AP or not. On the first day of school my AP Gov. teacher told us that we were going to take the AP Gov. test even though we wouldn’t be in his class during that time. If we didn’t, our Econ. teacher would administer a huge 100 question Gov. test that would affect our grade in Econ. But, if we were to take both the AP Econ. and Gov. tests, we would be exempt from the 100 question test and would get either: a) 100/100 or b) our grade would not be affected at all.

Now, normally I would be okay with this. Except, these tests cost $89 each. Meaning I have to pay $178 to take both tests. I know I can’t really cry about them being too expensive, if it really comes to it financial aid will take care of it. What I can complain about is the the fact that my classmates and I were just blackmailed into taking a test.

“Do it or suffer consequences,” consequences being a (most likely) negative impact on our grade. That’s the very definition of being blackmailed, or am I wrong? Blackmailing is illegal, its ethically wrong, and yet teachers all over the US are telling their students this.

I don’t know about some of my classmates, but I don’t take AP courses just to get college credit. In fact, while that may be a perk, the only reason I do it is because I like the challenge. I’ve been in CP (regular) English and I ended up learning nothing because I already new what my teacher was teaching me. My major in college is going to be International Business, so taking Econ was not only practical but very interesting to me. Learning about politics is important to me as well, I’m going to be voting in the next election and I like being well informed before making my voting decisions.

I didn’t do it to take some test.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little extreme but my point still stands. Teachers shouldn’t force their students to take AP tests. It’s unfair to students who are taking AP’s for reasons other than college credit and application fluffing. And to be honest it can really turn students off of a subject. What does that tell you about the teacher? Does it mean they really care about mentoring and educating students? Or do they have ulterior motives?