Life, Thoughts

Some Disorganized Reasons To Volunteer At Concerts

(I’m the kinda person who considers herself too good to be sponsored. Or maybe it’s that I’m not good enough to be sponsored. Either way, this isn’t a sponsored post, and it shouldn’t be a deadly blogging sin to promote good things for good reasons with no compensation. Ahem.)

My new obsession relationship with volunteering at concerts goes back to smack-dab in the middle of the past October. It was then that I learned two things:

  1. tobyMac, my go-to musician, chef of Soul Sauce, king of CCM and crown prince of great graphic design, was coming to a venue not ten miles from my house.
  2. I was not the only one excited for the concert.

By the time I got around to getting tickets, the entire house was sold out. Dang. I thought I had missed the Golden Opportunity Of A Lifetime™, but then God Himself opened my eyes to a very small banner at the bottom of my screen:

volunteer opportunities! click me please!

(Okay, I don’t remember exactly what it said but it was something like that.)

Before I could say Diverse City, I had signed my brother and I up and was ready to jump into things. Even though I had exactly 0.05246% of a clue as to what I would be doing.

Well, let me rephrase that. I had several misconstrued ideas as to what I would be doing. As it turned out, none of them were correct.

I was a little surprised to find out that volunteers don’t do door check, security, or any other services covered by the venue itself. And even though I kind of knew it would never happen, we were not allowed on or near the stage. Bummer.

However, what we ended up doing was very, very cool (and I at least got to watch them taking down the stage afterward, but we’ll get to that!)

I ended up helping the Food For The Hungry folks. FH is an organization that helps third-world communities get back on their feet through sponsorship and prayer. The whole concept wasn’t anything new – I’d been in the audience of another concert and heard their mission from the receiving end.

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My job was to get packets from our tables to the audience. At a certain time in the show, we handed out packets to the people sitting in all three levels of this theatre. Lots of walking, lots of smiles, and lots of packets were filled out. We ended up sponsoring 150 kids that night!

Being an active part in the recovery process for 150 families was an incredible experience, but it wasn’t the only awesome thing that happened that night.

Besides the part in the show where we handed out packets, we were just working beforehand, during intermission, and afterward. This meant we got to watch the show for absolutely free – a “thank you gift” from the people we were working for.

But not only did we get to watch it for free, we also were allowed to stand in a box seat – the only place that hadn’t sold out. We were just 20ish feet away from the stage!

What. A night.

Oh, and I got to watch them taking stuff down. But I think I already mentioned that. I never knew there were cranes above the stage, but apparently they are, and subwoofers are heavy.

After that night of praise and worship and ridiculously awesome music, I knew I wanted to do this as much as possible.

Luckily for me, I joined Loop Volunteers’ mailing list.

Loop Events is an organization that crowdsources volunteers for CCM concerts. They look for people in the area, and whenever a Christian artist comes to town, they alert them and ask for help.

This led me to volunteering for Steven Curtis Chapman when he came in. This time, I worked at the merchandise table. We sold over $2000 of t-shirts and CDs, which pours itself into keeping the tour going and SCC’s charity, Show Hope.

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I got a free t-shirt and got to see him in person. Now, I’m anxiously looking forward to For King And Country in April. Can’t wait!

Volunteer work is always awesome. Volunteer work with perks like free live music and supporting Important Causes™ is even more awesome. Even if you don’t get a t-shirt.

If it’s something you think you might like doing, you should seek out some opportunities. Who knows? You might end up having as much fun as I have.

Ever volunteered at a concert? Favorite bands? Let’s talk music. I’m listening.

Art, Life, Thoughts

A Conglomeration Of Half-Post-Ideas

a conglomeration of half-post-ideas

Last post, we talked about goals.

Ya know, those things we all make, but I never seem to keep up with. Even though I have a chronic inability to complete my goals, I still want to make some. But instead of doing it by month (I’ve learned that I’m not the kind of person who pays attention to dates), we’re going to do it by Macro – Mecro – Micro.

I also was nominated for the Liebster Award, so we’re going to do that. How do you even say Liebster? Leeb-stir? Lib-stair? Lie-b-stehr?

And finally, I want to talk about improvement. Again. I know I talked about it during APADO, but that was 31 posts ago, so I think it deserves another post. Improvement is big deal with me.

*clap clap* let’s just get into it

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The Liebster Award

I’m so glad that Jewel nominated me for the Liebster Award! Jewel is one of my good friends, and I love both of her blogs to death. Thanks, Jewel!

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So, with acknowledgements made, here we go.

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The Questions

What do you want to accomplish by your next birthday? Gah, I can’t spill my goals yet! But I want to accomplish surviving for an entire year. Hehe, just kidding. I’d like to be more fluent in Hebrew. טס עדיין לא טובה בדיבור עברית.

What needs to be invented that has not been invented yet? A bed with spikes that makes getting up in the morning significantly easier…>:)

What is your favorite song? DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE. Can I make a top ten? Hello Future (tobyMac), Take On Me (a-ha), Wolf Bite (Owl City), Love Song (Royal Tailor), Right On Time (Aaron Cole), WaveWalker (Citizen Way), Pompeii (Bastille), The Wolf (SIAMES), Get Down Get Down (KJ-52) and Transformed (Shonlock). And like, thirty million more.

What is your favorite movie? The original Thor. But my favorite thing to watch is Batman: The Animated Series. Like, I’ll pick a few episodes of that over a movie anyday.

When people are told to guess a number between 1 and 10, which do you think is the most common answer? I think…7. I can’t really say why. This is a cool question!

Do you have a bad habit? If so, what? Shhh…I bite my nails. And use the eraser on the end of the pencil when I’m drawing. *cowers*

Soft Pretzels or Hard Pretzels? SOFT PRETZELSSS they always make me think of Six Flags. And they’re amazing.

Would you rather own a fish or a snake? Definitely a snake. They’re way more interesting, and wouldn’t it be neat to own a potentially deadly creature?

What is something you know how to do that you could teach? I feel like I could teach anyone how to be socially awkward, but I don’t think anyone would want to know how to do that. 9_9 So let’s just stick to beginner horseback riding skills, because I do teach those on a regular basis.

If you could be famous for 1 thing, what would it be? I’d want to be famous for making a circumnavigation, possibly because I want an excuse to buy a campervan.

What are the 3 most important qualities in a friend? Loyal (because who wants friends who never back them up?), sensitive (able to tell when others are having a problem), and fun (wanting to do fun stuff instead of just sitting and talking).

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11 Facts About Me

(that realistically no one wants to read but i mUsT fOlLoW tHe rUlEs)

  • I have a bunch of Assorted Unstable Jobs: babysitting, cleaning my dad’s work, mowing lawns in the summer, and professional weirdo.
  • I only drink diet sodas – not because of health reasons, but for some reason I find regular soda really bitter…?
  • I have a really strange obsession with commercials. They fascinate me.
  • I have touched a human brain, and I think I can still smell the formaldehyde.
  • I can’t do monkey bars because I have Chicken Arms™.
  • I have four sisters and two brothers.
  • I really, really, really love peaches. I’m not kidding. Get me a peach and I will squeal.
  • I don’t like documentaries. They’re kinda boring.
  • I can’t stand it when someone is raking leaves and they scrape the tines of the rake on the concrete. It’s like the sound of nails on a chalkboard except three bazillion times worse.
  • I have a lot of t-shirts, but most of them are black.
  • I used to want to be a doctor when I grew up. Now I’m leaning toward illustrator…but who knows, I may still do medical work. Or culinary arts. I’d really love to have a food truck. The only problem is, I can’t cook to save my life.
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Tagging Some Fwiends:

Ava
Bella
Christiana
Enni
Jo
Laura
Mya
NC Stokes
Sam
Sapphire
Serene

(i put it alphabetically, stop squabbling)

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Y’all’s Questions:

(i am texan, i can say y’all)

What was your favorite TV show/movie when you were a kid?
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
What do you think is the best way to start the day?
What is one of your favorite smells?
If you were suddenly put on a stage and told to deliver a speech, what would you talk about?
Do you think Wikipedia is a reliable source?
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received?
What age would you like to live to?
What do you want carved on your gravestone?
Have you ever saved someone’s life?
Opinion on chow mein?

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Okay, realistically, that took much more than I thought and I could honestly make a post with just that. But I feel obliged to actually fulfill one of my promises. For once.

*clap* next topic *clap*

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The Stuff I Need To Do And Get Better At (2019 Edition)

As I start to think about goals, I’m wondering if it’s too late to talk about goals, seeing as we’re already a week into January…but let’s say that it’s for the next year. So I’ll open these…next January 7th?

Macro Goals

(translation: goals that are really huge and untangible)

  • Get better at managing my time. Work with, not against, myself. Use the precious days I have in this season of life wisely.
  • Unlock the motivation I know I have and banish the laziness that cripples me.
  • Be unafraid to speak my mind and talk about important, serious things in all my mediums (writing, art, blogging, etc.)

Mecro Goals

(translation: goals that are still huge, but actually physically achievable)

  • Write three 50k novels in April, July, and November (Nanowrimo ftw!)
  • Come up with a good comic concept and illustrate ten pages of it.
  • Relaunch Steeplechase (!!!)
  • Post at least twice monthly on both of my blogs.

Micro Goals

(translation: very achievable, given I don’t procrastinate too much)

  • Get more practice making graphics.
  • Finish the MAP part I’m still working on.
  • Be more active on the Story Embers forums.
  • Make a post explaining MBTI!
  • Keep up with all my awesome friends over email.
  • Buy a copy of Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.
  • Stay on top of schoolwork.
  • Make myself like photography. Ugh.

It may not as complicated as last year’s goals post, but considering how many I failed, I think simple is best.

I feel like this blog is a never-ending Hallmark drama. Will Tess ever do anything she promises she’ll do? This year might be the year, but that’s what I thought last year, and what I think every time I make a promise…

*exits stage left with an existential breakdown in tow*

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I Talk About Art For 500 Words And You Inevidably Scroll Past

I go through a specific cycle with all my work, but particularly with my art. I’ll get semi-okay at something, and be proud of it for approximately three days. Then I’ll realize it needs improvement. But as that realization turns into bitterness and I try and try over and over again without seeing change, I get to a point where I wonder if I’m ever going to get better.

Then, right as I think I should just stop doing what I love to do – clink! The penny drops, as Richard Williams would say.

And then, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, the cycle repeats itself.

It’s no secret that I battle self-esteem issues, that I feel inadequate a lot of the time, and that my depression takes over my motivation if I let it. I think this happens to all creative people, to be honest. Without the right kind of encouragement, it becomes a monster that controls both your creativity and your confidence.

Every time I get to that part of the cycle, I have to force myself to keep pushing. To keep trying. To make one more crappy drawing in hopes of making a good one next time.

And then, after too much headache and heartbreak, I finally get through it.

In this particular episode of Tess’ Life Gets A Little Bit Better, it all got started with an Action Bible. I got one because I am completely in love with the art. It’s so dynamic and detailed and the shading and it’s pretty much a Masterclass on drawing cloth.

I wouldn’t say I felt inspired, because the feeling is closer to jealousy, but I decided to copy some of the pictures.

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In past, I’ve discounted copywork as a viable form of learning to draw. I had previously thought it was cheating. Or something. Or maybe it’s just that I never found anything that was what I wanted to draw.

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But after doing some copywork, I’ve seen drastic improvement in my artwork. I’ve since branched off from copying again, after these studies I did. But the lines I made, the shading I did, all that – it stuck.

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Here’s a little redraw of the piece I made for an APADO post in October.

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I’ve even been drawing in my journal before bed. I think I’m back on the right track.

So if you’re feeling down – if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel – if your feet are dragging in whatever it is you do…

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…don’t give up. Relief is coming. Give it one more push, even though you think there’s no hope for you. Try just one more time. And one more time after that. And still one more time after that.

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If everything was easy to learn, there’d be no value in it, right?

So prove that you have what it takes. Go give it one more try.

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You’ve got this.

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Thus endeth the Conglomeration Of Half-Post Ideas.

Although it changed gears faster than a 21-speed bicycle, I hope you enjoyed. I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment! Pretty please?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

Life, Thoughts

Goal Recap + 2018 In Review

(Oof. I guess I’ll have to explain what happened to those Nano recaps. Or to my blog in general. Smh.)
(If you’re looking at this in your WordPress reader, it doesn’t have the same effect. Read it on my blog, won’t you?)
(Also: this graphic is possibly the most adorable thing I have ever created. I almost feel guilty for being this aesthetic)

Goals Recap + 2018 In Review

Well.

For now, we’re going to pretend that I’ve been true to my promise, that you’ve been reading the posts I’ve been writing, and that I haven’t up and disappeared for two months. I need to learn to stop promising things I can’t deliver.

The last bit of 2018 has been hectic and crazy – although there has been time for some fun…

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cronching prongles w/ ezra in my sister’s van = fun…?

I’ve been on two trips to see family and been allowed plenty of time to rest after a very stressful Nanowrimo experience (we’ll get to that!)

I would never have guessed that this year would turn out the way it did. In fact, I was pretty certain I knew what I was doing at the beginning of this year. Exactly 360 days ago, I wrote a post called Goals. I don’t think I need to say how different it is from my actual achievements.

Let’s revisit these goals, aka these rash promises. (See? I never learn.)

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January/February/March

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Post at least a dozen posts here on Steeplechase. Hm. My stats say I posted…nine times. I’m going to call this half-done, because I was going strong at about a post a week until March. Ugh.

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Finish my part for the MAP I’m working on (and write a blog post about the process). Okay. I didn’t end up finishing that MAP part until June. But I did finish it, and I wrote a post about it. Half-done.

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Finish plotting my April Camp Nano project. Garsh. What was my April Camp Nano project? I think it was Project Orion. I spent April Camp Nano plotting PO, so…I think this is also half-done.

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Help my team win AAWC. We lost hard, only getting third (last!) place despite my best last-minute efforts. Failed.

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Learn diagonals. This is a horseback riding goal, and I don’t remember exactly when, as Richard Williams would say, “the penny dropped”. I do know that I’ve mastered it now. We’re going to call this an obliteration. Yeet!

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Have a birthday. Ehehe, why is this even a goal? But I had a birthday. And I’m about to have another one. GUYS, THIS YEAR JUST FLEW BY. Obliterated.

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Do more Art Dumps. I did two in February, so this is obliterated! Thank goodness I didn’t set an exact number. HEHEHE.

April/May/June

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Do Camp Nano! Undeniably obliterated. I talked about it in this post, so I’m not going to go through the rigors again. (But that post contains more unfulfilled promises! Yikes!)

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Finish my Wreck This Journal (and do a WTJ tour). Nope. I’m still not done with this. Failed.

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Join another MAP. I joined my second MAP in late June/early July? Not exactly sure. I think I’m going to call this an obliteration, though.

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lolina strikes again

Learn to draw human faces. HAHAHAHAHA no. Still no. Failed.

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Replot Project Orion. Wait. Hold on. Does this mean I wasn’t originally going to replot PO? Huh. I can’t remember. Half-done, because it still doesn’t really have a plot. And at this point I’m wondering if it ever will.

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Hold a giveaway. Steeplechase did turn two years old, but I didn’t hold a giveaway. I barely even acknowledged it at all. Welp, there’s always next year. Failed.

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Aaaand post more on Steeplechase. Did I post at all? Three times? We’re calling that technically “more” so…obliterated. Wow, this feels like cheating.

July/August/September

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Julynowrimo. Undeniably obliterated. And I actually like what I came out with? What? I mean, it’s definitely not perfect, but The Sentinel is the best thing I’ve written so far.

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Ride Traveller. Aka my bike. I don’t think I accounted for the fact that I would get crazy tall? And be too big for him? Um? Yeah, I’m 5′ 9″ now and a 24″ bike isn’t going to cut it. It’s not like I could help it, but this is, unfortunately, another failure.

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Read three long books (and review them here on Steeplechase). I don’t remember if I read three long books, but seeing as I didn’t post on Steeplechase all summer….noap. Failure.

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Learn at least three new riding skills. I can canter in full seat, jump verticals, and use rein contact to my advantage now…hey, I think this is obliterated!

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my favorite freezie!

Take a dare. Well, this goal’s specific. We went to Six Flags a lot over the summer, and I definitely dared myself to do a ton. This is an obliteration. I think.

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Get in physical shape. I’m still not sure where I stand on my physique….? Let’s say half-done, because I was really active, but it’s not like I’m super fit or anything.

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Document it all on Steeplechase. As aforementioned – nope. Sorry. Ugh. Failed.

October/November/December

Plot out a Nano. I tried. But I also learned that I am an undeniable pantser. So even if I’d planned something out, it’s not like it would have worked. I’m going to say half-done, not because I did any planning, but more because this goal was stupid. See what I mean about having no idea what this year had in store for me?

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Write that Nano. I…did? I didn’t write what I intended to write this Nano, but it was something.

I guess now is a perfect opportunity to say why I haven’t posted in like, two months. As usual, I joined the throes of writers racing to complete their novels, but this was an exceptionally gruelling Nano. I had planned to write a sequel to The Sentinel, but after wasting two weeks of Nano being unmotivated, I did a Tess-classic Nanoditch. But even after said Nanoditch, I was still not motivated.

It was to the point where I was bewailing my situation so badly that people had started to give up on me. (As in, “why are you still writing when you insanenumberofwords behind?”) But my mom, MY WONDERFUL MOM, kept telling me that I could do it. I knew I was going to do it or die trying.

The bottom line? I ended up writing the final 33k words in 3 days. I pulled an all-nighter on the last day. I wrote all the way up till the last second, pretty much. But I did it. I’m so proud, but also ashamed, because there should never be an excuse for doing what I did.

Here’s a little video I took at 5am on November 31st, after my all-nighter, with 10k still to write (subtitled):

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Yeah that should describe my mental state for all of November.

I did end up finishing a dumb novel called A Hundred Paper Stars, which is…just another thing to add to my repretoire, and nothing more. Though pointless, it’s pretty fun.

So…obliterated? Yeah, I guess. Remind me never to do it this way again.

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One more MAP. Because of Nano, I’m still working on my “summer” MAP. So failed.

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Get in bed at some sort of normal time. HAHAHAHAHA oh my gosh it’s so funny how I thought I’d be good at doing this by this time! Nope. Not in October, definitely not in November, and not even now. 48930248230% failed. (I was up at 1:30 last night reading my new Action Bible, just to prove a point.)

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Make a Hanukkah tag/blog series. Hanukkah went soooo fast for me. So – uh – failed.

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Actually buy all my family Hanukkah presents. But hey, I actually achieved this! Obliterated!

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Post. On. Your. Own. Flippin. Blog. *cough* APADO *cough*. Catastrophically obliterated.

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Total Goals: 28

Goals Completed: 15

Success Rate: ~54%

wow that’s low

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2018 has been a surprising year in many ways. I’ve done so many things I never thought I would have done, yet I haven’t done a lot of things I thought I really would. And I regret that, because it’s hard to move on from something. Yet, at the same time, I don’t regret it. Because where would I be without moving forward?

Stan Lee recently passed on. That was shocking news for me, seeing as he is one of my heroes. However, I’ve decided that his motto is going to be 2019’s motto:

Excelsior.

onward and upward.

Without change, there is no growth. Without growth, there is no greatness.

Okay, I feel like I’m overdoing my announcement now. But maybe I actually don’t want to reveal my dreams for Steeplechase, or what I’m thinking about doing with it…

Yeah, I don’t think I want to say what I’m going to do with this little blog next year. Although guesses are welcome…

Here’s to an exciting, fulfilling 2019!

merry late christmas and happy early new year to everyone!

Sayonara for now,

Tess

(okay I can’t take it, I’m getting my own domain)

APADO, Review, Thoughts

Challenge: Complete {APADO #31}

(I’m not even gonna bother with my APADO intro because this post is so meta it doesn’t deserve it. Hehe.)

(Also: all the gifs are from when I ran outside to celebrate getting to this momentous occasion. Enjoy.)

APADO 31

All I can say at this point is wow.

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To be honest, I expected myself to fail this challenge. When I went into this, I thought I would end up with about seventeen APADO posts before falling off and being done with the challenge. And I thought I’d have to look at them for the rest of my meager existence. Seventeen reminders that I can’t keep my promises.

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I can’t tell if it’s better to have low expectations and knock it out of the park or have high expectations and fail, but we’re going with the happy medium. I had bad expectations, but I ended up with something pretty awesome (if I can say so myself).

This past month, I posted once a day, every day, on weekends and holidays and all throughout May October.

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To be clear: to me, the day was not over until I went to bed. I used the backlog feature to get the date right on the posts I published after midnight (which was almost all of them, hehe.)

Though words can’t describe how good this feels, a gif or two might do the trick.

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GUYS, I DID IT.

Ahem.

Let’s do a quick recap of everything that went down this month.

This month…

(none of these stats are counting this post)

…I wrote 30 posts, adding up to an estimated total of 22,159 words.

I took 98 new photos (not reuploads of old stuff or things I already had photos of).

And made 11 gifs (not counting ones I lifted from youtube videos):

I broke 100 posts:

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And this blog got 823 views, 175 visitors, 414 likes, and 228 comments.

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I would say I’m speechless, but I’m a bit too talkative for that.

My thoughts on APADO:

I now see why clickbait content farms are the only ones who post once a day. It’s tiring. Just like a marathon, I started to stumble around day (mile?) 13. It’s like my motivation started to slide downhill until I took that glorious Wednesday walk.

Yet, I enjoyed pushing myself. I love the feeling of having a ton of cool posts for people to read. And most importantly, I found my fervor to blog again. I’ve built good habits. And I’m now motivated to post more often, although not every day.

I’m not about to say that every post was perfect, though. In fact, quite a few of them were sub-par.

My (Personal) Bottom Three Posts:

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300,000 Words {APADO #14}

Sin number one: it had almost no pictures. Sin number two: nothing is more self-centered than low-key bragging about how many words you’ve written. C’mon, Tess. You’re better than that…

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A Brief Rant-Review Of Great Expectations {APADO #15}

I don’t think Steeplechase posts get more negative than this one. Wow, I had a ton of roasts to scald this poor novel with. And again, no pictures! Readers like pictures, Tess. They really do.

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A Quick Chat About Flawed Characters {APADO #19}

Oh, I wish I’d put more time and effort into this post! I didn’t say nearly everything I have to say about this topic. Perhaps, in future, we’ll have to have a longer chat about flawed characters.

But – there were several posts that I really, really liked.

My (Personal) Top Three Posts:

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Roller Coasters {APADO #6}

Inspirational message? Heart-pumping roller coaster gifs? Yes, please. AND THE FEATURED IMAGE IS SO FLEEK.

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Taking A Casual Saturday Stroll On A Wednesday {APADO #17}

Not only was this post a ton of fun to make, I ended up discovering something about myself that has changed my view about the world. It’s comforting.

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A Random Letter For A Random Person {APADO #29}

This completely spontaneous idea turned out so neat! Just an update: I’ve been given permission to mail the letter. Once I hunt up a stamp, it’s off to Washington!

The Crowd Favorite:

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Conversations With 13-Year-Old Me {APADO #4}

Maybe it was the past-self-depreciating jokes. Or maybe it was that jamestic gif at the beginning. For some reason, this post got 41 views. As a reference, my record is 91 views (for that interactive birthday adventure which will likely return).

The Unsung Hero:

Scouty {APADO #9}

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Somehow puppy photos weren’t tantalizing enough. Was it because Scouty had already written a post on The Pawsome Press? Still, it has more views than half the posts I’ve written – a respectful 12.

What’s your opinion?

Everyone’s preferences are different. Want to let me know what you thought?

In conclusion:

I’m shocked at how much my blogging game has changed since the beginning of this challenge. I’m now proud to call myself a blogger. I’m happy with the posts I’ve made.

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I wish I could keep posting once a day, but I’m sure there would be a drop in the quality of my posts, knowing how much effort and how many late nights these ones took. And besides, there’s Nanowrimo, and that’s going to be taking up all my spare time.

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But this doesn’t mean I won’t be posting on Steeplechase next month! I’m going to try to do five Nano recaps (one every six days) with snippets, gifs, writer struggles and inspiration. Let’s hope they’re as fun as APADO has been.

Farewell, APADO. You were fun. See ya next year.

(Did I just make a rash promise again?)

Now let’s jump right into Nano.

Sheesh. Talk about out of the frying pan into the fire.

tl;dr: I finished APADO and ended up with some posts I liked and got practice for Nano, which starts TOMORROW guys I’m officially freaking out.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

celebrate2
the last relaxation i’m gonna get before NANO

 

APADO, Thoughts

31 Things To Do Instead Of Trick-Or-Treating {APADO #30}

(Today is the next-to-last day of APADO – the blog series where I try to write a post for every single day of October. My wittle challenge is almost over *snif*)

(I was planning to post this tomorrow but I might be planning a giant APADO recap/vote/thoughts on the challenge tomorrow so we’re going for today. Besides, it’ll give you some time to think about this post.)

(Of course I’m posting this so late that it’ll probably be tomorrow before you see it. Hmmmm….)

(featured image is an edited version of one of my photos)

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(Disclaimer: If you celebrate Halloween, that’s okay for you and I’m not trying to preach at you. I’m just sharing my opinion. Please don’t get triggered.)

I haven’t ever celebrated Halloween. Aside from its roots in druids and demons, it’s a self-centered holiday, and I have no brain energy to waste on it.

Reasons I Don’t Celebrate Halloween

There’s so much darkness and evil in the world, I don’t think we need to add any more. And before you go and say that Halloween is just a fun little holiday, the Wikipedia article backs me up:

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Society has turned it into a fun little holiday, but the roots of it are something I can’t get over.

But on another level, the thing that bothers me about Halloween is that it’s a very self-centered holiday. Kids are trained from a young age to stress out over costumes and then go show it off and ask people for treats. That’s something that I don’t find very wholesome.

To show you what I mean, let’s do some math.

People spend $9.1 billion on Halloween candy, decorations, and costumes a year, according to this source.

Just around $1.9 billion would buy every homeless person in America three meals a day for a year, plus a sleeping bag and a Bible for each of them. And the remaining $7.2 billion could buy 120 private islands in the Bahamas for $600 million each.

That’s.

A lot.

Of money.

Just to please some kids and candy companies for one night of the year.

I feel like Halloween is a sorry excuse for a holiday. It makes absolutely no impact. Even aside from the pagan ideas that are at its core, it breeds selfishness and discontent.

So what’s a non-trick-or-treater to do?

As I was going about my day today, seeing people buying last-minute bags of candy or pieces of costumes, I started to wonder if there was anything I could do on Halloween. I mean, I usually sit inside with the lights off and watch the most obnoxiously happy movie I can think of, but…is there anything more constructive I can do?

I got my mom in on the idea, and we ended up brainstorming 31 different ways to spend Halloween that are more positive and meaningful. They had to be:

  • relatively cheap
  • not associated with giving out candy or dressing up
  • helpful to the community in some way
  • and fun!

So whether you’re like me and you don’t celebrate Halloween, or you’re just looking for something to do instead of trick-or-treating, here are…

31 Things To Do Instead Of Trick-Or-Treating

Earn $31, $3.10, or 31 cents and give it to your favorite charity.

If your grass is still growing, find 31 weeds in your neighbor’s yard and pull them up.

Copy out 31 verses of Scripture. If you wanna be Pintrestable, you could even write out Proverbs 31.

Do 31 “random acts of kindness”.

Buy the #31 shade of nail polish and commit to painting your nails that color. Electric green? Teal glitter? Go for it.

Everyone loves to find a happy note. Write 31 random notes and hide them in 31 random places. Who knows whose day you might brighten?

Spend 31 minutes exercising. Let’s face it, from here until January, the food just keeps getting more delicious…and more irresistable.

Reverse trick-or-treating! Go to the dollar store and find 31 comfort items to hand out a nursing home. 

Do you know any kids who aren’t trick-or-treating tonight, for whatever reason? It’s no fun to be left out. Find 31 stickers and give them to those kids – and make sure you a) tell them how proud you are of them for standing by what they believe or b) console them about their allergies/illness/grounding.

Find 31 nice-looking leaves and make someone a Thanksgiving card by taping the leaves to a piece of cardstock. Don’t forget to decorate the envelope!

Get a trick-or-treat bucket, but instead of filling it with candy, pick up 31 pieces of trash around your park or neighborhood.

As long as you’re okay with hauling around 31 bottles of water, find 31 thirsty people at your trunk or treat or gathering and give them a bottle of water.

Donate 31 cans of food to a soup kitchen or food drop.

Lots of people are buying tons of clothes for their costumes, but how about giving some away? Go through your closet and find 31 items of clothes or shoes and donate them.

Buy 31 tire valve stem covers (don’t worry, they’re cheap) and go on a hunt for 31 tires that are missing their little cap.

Pranksters in your neighborhood? Find 31 of their eggy messes and clean them up.

Go to the mall or the grocery store and seek out 31 items that are misplaced or have fallen on the floor. Pick them up and put them back where they belong.

Find and clip 31 different coupons. (Some grocery stores have them hanging up at the front.) Then, go find the 31 items on sale and tape the coupon to the item. If someone didn’t know it was on sale, they’ll get a chance to save some money.

While you’re at the store, see if you can find 31 loose carts and deposit them back in the cart corrals.

Spend 31 minutes playing with your pet.

Spend 31 minutes with your little siblings or relatives.

Wash or dry 31 dishes for your mom, if it’s not already your chore. I guess you could also do 31 loads of laundry, but that’s kind of ambitious.

Come up with 31 useful coupons for you to fufill and tape them to the refrigerator, to be used by whoever wants them.

Make 31 paper stars and start a vase for a loved one!

Give away 31 of your old toys or stuffed animals.

Bookworm? Here’s a really scary challenge for you. Round up 31 books you’re done with and donate them to your library. Bonus points for putting 31 random notes in them!

Hand out 31 tractates, if your church does that.

It’s not quite Thanksgiving yet, but how about writing down 31 things you’re thankful for?

Strain your eyes and your fingers and make 31 friendship bracelets for your friends.

Make a list of 31 important people in your life and write a letter to each of them.

Spend 31 minutes in prayer. It won’t be wasted time.

The bottom of it all?

Whatever you choose to do this Halloween, I hope you’re happy and safe. If you choose to do anything from this list, though, I’d love to know what you did!

Who knows? You might end up making a new tradition, or at least having more fun than that lame Halloween party you were inevidably invited to.

Maybe, just maybe, we can start a new movement. Spending this night of self-centeredness helping others.

I like to think it’s possible.

tl;dr: If you’re bored tomorrow night, have a go at one of these weird, helpful ideas.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Thoughts

A Random Letter For A Random Person {APADO #29}

(apado is a blog series we all know what it is and I’m just amazed I’ve almost completed it)

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I’ve had a hunch for awhile that people aren’t as different as they think they are.

I mean, I say about thirty times a day that I’m weird, and yet all my friends do the same. So am I really weird?

I wanted to put myself in someone else’s shoes for a half-second. Pretend I was your average person. Feeling compartmentalized and alone, the only odd one out…don’t we all feel like that sometimes?

And then I imagined receiving a letter. A figurative hand that connects me back to the idea that we’re not so “weird” after all.

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Hi. 🙂

My name’s Tess Richardson. I’m about 99.99999% sure you have no clue who I am and honestly I hope you’re okay with that.

I’m writing you a letter because I have faither in the unknown. I don’t know who you are, or what you do, but I feel like this letter found its way to the right person.

I’m not trying to be creepy. I’m not asking you for anything. You don’t have to help the defenseless kittens or disabled veterans. You don’t even have to reply to this letter.

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I just hope that when you read this letter, it puts a smile on your face. I’m not exactly sure how. Maybe the thought that someone’s indirectly thinking of you.

Whatever floats your anvil, that’s cool with me.

I hope you have a nice day, whoever you are. You deserve to. God Bless and I’m thinking of you.

Sincerely,

Tess

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^ random address I found by dropping the pin in Google Maps in a random spot.

Should I mail it?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Thoughts

You’re Not The Victim {APADO #28}

(apado yadda yadda yadda we get it)

(this post is extremely short but inspirational?)

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You’re not a victim.

I know you feel like you are.

Things come your way and push you down and you feel like there’s nothing you can do about it.

But there’s plenty you can do.

The first thing is to decide to not let life beat you.

You’re not the victim. You’re the master of the situation.

So go out and make your own future.

The power’s in your hands.

You are not the victim.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Thoughts

A Productivity T-Chart {APADO #26}

(APADO is my blog challenge that I’m sure you’re familiar with because I’ve been posting about it once a day for twenty-five days. Yay.)
(this is a short friday post™)
(also it’s only five days till Nano y’all, i am officially fReAkInG oUt)

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Contrary to popular belief, spontaneous people can get stuff done. My secret is just to come up with different methods and hacks that make productivity fun.

What I’m doing today is a Productivity T-Chart.

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At the beginning of the day, I wrote all the things I need to do on sticky notes. Then, I used masking tape on my desk to mark off an area for things I need to do and an area for things I’ve already gotten done. It’s really, really satisfying to move a note from one side to the other.

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Okay this is now officially meta.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Thoughts, Writing

Landscapey Stuff {APADO #20}

(How am I already 2/3 of the way through APADO? It seems like it’s gone by pretty quickly. Who knew that posting once a day would be so much fun?)
(Also I apologize for yesterday’s sorry excuse for a post. I was in a hurry. In fact I didn’t even go through that twice. And I’m really, REALLY regretting that. Hehe.)

APADO 20

I don’t think it’d be fair to say that I “do” photography. Do I like taking pictures? Yes. Do I think about taking photos all the time? No.

Really, the reason I take photos is to create a visual trigger for something I could describe in more detail. Be that a place I really love, or good times with friends and family, that’s the extent of my “love” of photography.

(And then I turn around and take photos for my blog and that has nothing to do with visual triggers. I hate it when I can’t make a reason for something absolute.)

I’ve got a folder called “Lanscapey stuff”. (To say that my file naming system is bizarre is an understatement.) In addition to myriads of blurry photos I can’t decide if I should delete or not, it’s got a lot of my visual triggers in it. Today, I’ve decided to pull ten of those out of the vault and see if I can jar my memory.


Back before I knew how to use a camera, I went to the Grand Canyon and had the opportunity to take the photos of a lifetime.

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Unfortunately, hardly any of my pictures turned out to be any good. However, there were a few good shots, like this one.

But do photos really do this place justice? In real life, this place was bigger than any frame. All I could see from one side of the horizon to the other was the canyon, the striped rocks descending down toward the river. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so small.


Icy trees look pretty cool.

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I froze my fingers off trying to capture how cool it was. My hot breath hanging in the air, my hands trembling, but a triumphant smile spreading across my red face as I got a shot that looked alright. That was an interesting afternoon.


I took a camping/hiking trip to Caprock Canyons State Park – a ton of my “good” photos are from that trip. The area is really arid, but we heard that there was a cave where a bunch of ferns grew naturally, thanks to a spring and some irrigating rocks. So we hiked to the unimaginatively named Fern Cave.

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I was not disappointed.

It was at least ten degrees cooler on the enormous rock I was sitting on – just the thing to cheer up a group of hot, dusty hikers. The constant drip of the water off the edges of the ferns echoed off the sides of the little alcove where they hung, swinging in the breeze, growing despite the desert around them.

And I saw a wild frog for the first time. That was pretty neat.


During that same trip, we got so hot in the afternoon that we decided to go drive around in the car for some relief and some wind through our hair. We wandered down a bunch of country roads and by several farms and ended up finding this relaxing tunnel of scraggly oak trees:

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It was so quiet here, I could here my own thoughts.


We also found a dirt road that led out to the middle of nowhere that was sort of anticlimatic but very pictreusque.

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I think the most wonderful thing about this photo is that there are absolutely no power lines – just the ribbon of caliche stretching for a good mile and the tawny brush swaying as the wind tickled the top of it.


But to be honest, God’s beautiful creation is everywhere.

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Like this gorgeous sunset that painted the sky back home one night. Not even the power lines can spoil this one.


I guess all my good landscapey stuff photos are taken while hiking and camping. Go figure. Needle Rock is a neat natural monument on a Boy Scout ranch in Fort Davis.

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Unlike the Grand Canyon, pictures do this one visual justice. But they don’t show the feeling of passing under this spire of twisted rock, the shadow that falls over you as you stare up at it in awe, the sun sparkling from behind it…


Yeah, I swear all my good photos are hiking photos.

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My brother had wandered ahead of us when I took this photo. I didn’t realize until I went back through all these photos that he makes this photo eighty times better. A man, walking all alone in the desert while stormclouds loom over him…

…I promise no more camping photos. Hehe.


Sometimes, a new angle changes everything.

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These icicles look really neat from the underside. Kind of like teeth, I imagine. What’s even cooler is how the ones on the right are bent from the winter wind blowing them as they melt.


And finally, oleander flowers.

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They’re some of the prettiest things out there, and they come from the strangest source. Who would’ve thought that these big, green, lumpy bushes would have nice flowers?


I can’t decide if this was a photography post or a writing post. Maybe it was both.

I suppose I need to start taking my camera more places. Who knows what I’ll find that’ll a visual trigger?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Thoughts, Writing

A Quick Chat About Flawed Characters {APADO #19}

(is-thay is pado-ay, y-may og-blay eries-say at-thay i’m ired-tay of troducing-inay. one ost-pay ery-evay ay-day or-fay the tire-enay onth-may of ober-octay.)
(I’m going to pretend like I actually know what I’m talking about today okay? Okay.)

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As I’m sure you’ve heard a million times, a complex character is a good character. One of the ways that authors flesh out characters is by giving them flaws. But I’ve seen time and time again where a character’s flaws aren’t actually flaws. I’m hoping to shed some light on the subject of flawed characters with some examples and a lot of satire.

But are your characters’ flaws actual flaws?

For it to be a flaw, it has to actually have an effect. If your character has anger issues, they have to actually hurt friendships and make things difficult. Because is it really a flaw if it has no impact?

If you say that your character’s flaw is clumsiness, but all their clumsiness does is make them endearing, is that really a flaw? What about dropping the important object and breaking it? Tripping over a sleeping guard’s foot?

When you give your character flaws, make sure they actually have an impact.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

APADO, Thoughts

My “Torc” {APADO #18}

(thubis ubis ubapubadubo, my lubittle blubog suberubies thubat ubi’m subo tubired ubof ubintrubodubucubing. subo ubi dubecubidubed tubo dubo ubit ubin ububbubi dububbubi.)

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Brandy wears a braided chain / made of the finest silver from the north of Spain…

…or a piece of steel stock from an engineering workshop.

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restraunts, swimming, in the car, photobombing at my sister’s wedding…

I’ve worn my necklace every day since I got it, and I’m still not sure why.

Maybe it’s because I’ve tied the leather cord it’s hanging from so tight that I can’t get it off. I have to pull it off the hitch ring every time I go through a metal detector.

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penny for scale

For awhile, I was calling it my torc. I forgot what it means. It’s something in Russian, because when I got it, I was obsessed with a race of Russian wolves I was trying to come up with for my infamous dogstory.

I got it from a professor at our local university who really took a fancy to our family after he met my older sister. He made it out of some scrap steel and told me, “I dunno what you’re supposed to do with it, but it sure looks cool.”

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oh yeah, this was the journal where I was pretending I had a twin brother.

I wanted the torc to mean something. Maybe a reminder, or a symbol.

So I found a shoelace in one of my drawers and worked up a necklace. Somehow, the shoelace lasted for way longer than it should have, but when it got nasty, I kidnapped a leather strip from a Moleskine notebook and I think it looks alright.

It’s been a year and a half, and I still have no idea what it’s supposed to stand for.

Any ideas?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Thoughts

Today I Found Out… {APADO #16}

(*insert spiel about APADO here*)

(and we’re back to inspirational stuff. honestly i now know why people don’t try to post every day.)

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First thing this morning, I found out that humans need sleep. Or perhaps they don’t, and are just weak enough to crave it.

While studying genetics today, I found out that I’m probably heterozygous for blue eyes. Meaning if I have kids, there’s a good chance one of them will be blue-eyed, thanks to our recessive gene buddies.

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closeup of my eye (feat. heterochromia)

That’s comforting. I’ve always wanted blue eyes, even though I like my hazel/central heterochromia iridium.

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In my government course, of all places, I found out that the CIA and the US Postal Service are on the same legal level – independent agencies working for the Executive Branch.

(Also I discovered that taking a photo of sunglasses that doesn’t have a weird reflection is impossible.)

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At the barn today, I found out that you really should break a flake of hay in half to feed it to two horses. They will chase eachother around over it. Aren’t we all possessive over food?

Maybe I already knew it. But I also discovered something else today.

Staying curious is staying positive and connected to this world. Asking questions, choosing to be interested in what you’re learning, and making mistakes go a long way to making life exciting.

Even if it’s just over genetics.

Today, I found out that not everybody is curious.

But maybe tomorrow, I’ll find people realizing that they’re a lot more curious than they think.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}