Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Newsies On A Mission

If you came into my house this past week, you probably would have noticed me loudly singing songs from Newsies. Since last Tuesday, I've been singing and singing and singing "Carrying The Banner" and "Santa Fe." I really can't help it. If I'm not singing one of those songs, I can hear it playing in my head. I know for a fact that some of my siblings have been just the slightest bit aggravated or amused when I suddenly burst into song. The little boys laugh. Sunshine rolls her eyes. Super-K groans and wonders why I'm singing again.

But it's just that I looooove Newsies. It's one of my favorite musicals (and I've only seen it 3 times...and I'd never heard of it until this year). I don't quite know why, but it is. I thought it was awesome when I found out that Christian Bale played both Jack Kelly and Batman. :-)

Last Tuesday was my Special Night (Special Nights are a really cool thing at my house. Every Tuesday, one of us kids gets to choose one food and one drink and gets to stay up late and spend time with Mom and Dad.), so I stayed up and watched Newsies on VidAngel. I don't care if it was a box office flop - apparently there are more "fansies" than you'd think - I like it so much. I like Jack and Davey and Spot and, well, quite a few of them! I grin all through the movie because I love it so much.

I hope to see Newsies on stage sometime - that would be so cool. Though I think it would be different not seeing Christian Bale up there with his cowboy-esque outfit and smile where he sticks out his tongue between his teeth. But I'm super excited, and, if not this year, then someday I'm going to see the stage version.

I've heard that some people have tried at some point to do the so-called "Newsies leap." I can barely do the splits any longer than 10 seconds, so I'm not even going to try that. I'm bound to tear something. ;-) I wouldn't care to land in the hospital by trying it (oh, goodness, I'm so punny. Awful, I know).

The coolest things about Newsies, I think, is that the kids have dreams and don't lose sight of them, they take care of their own, and they don't give up. And they're awesome. And they're rebels with a cause. And they dance and sing and...oh, man, I'm getting all squeaky just thinking about it (my voice gets squeaky and I shudder when I'm excited...odd, yes)!!! So, I hope you can see how much I like Newsies. They're cool. Aaaand you can watch them on VidAngel for $1, which is cool too.

And you might like it, you might not. But I'll probably keep singing "Carrying The Banner" for at least another week or two or three before it fades...and then I'll watch the movie again, and the siblings will groan because they don't like it much, and I'll start singing again. Oh, well. At least I like it. :-D

Whenever I talk about musicals with my friends (I'm glad some kids still have taste for musicals these days, ya know?), I somehow fit Newsies into the conversation. They've never heard of it, so I'm thinking I'll have a Newsies movie night sometime...

And while I rinse dishes and put them in the dishwasher, I'll keep on singing "Every morning/we goes where we wishes/we's as free as fishes/sure beats washing dishes/What a fine life/carrying the banner/home free all."

And I object to not singing songs from Newsies...

...On the grounds of Brooklyn.



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Get The Latest Issue of Teen Photographer Magazine!

Hey, everybody! Just wanted to tell you that the latest issue of Teen Photographer is out! In this issue, you'll learn how to photograph fireworks (just in time for the 4th of July!), see the difference between a real photographer and a person who takes photos, find props to add to your stash, learn three simple photography tips to enhance your images, and more!

I hope you have a wonderful 4th! ♥


To get your FREE issue of Teen Photographer, click HERE.

Monday, June 27, 2016

On Working at The Merch Table (and learning to use a card reader)

Hey, everybody! Can't believe June is coming to an end. I'm not too excited for the hot weather, but I'll survive. ;-) This past month has been pretty busy and crazy, in a good way, and I really want to share one particular day I had this month.

I worked at the merch table for a band in our city recently, and that was a great experience! One of the band members showed me how to work the credit card reader, shook my hand, thanked me for helping out, and left to get ready for the show. So, there I was, standing at the table, all by myself. I felt pretty awesome. A few people came by pre-show to buy CDs, and I got the hang of the card reader and counting change. After the show started, I was allowed to sit in on the show, provided I returned to the table just before intermission. It was a really cool concert, let me tell you! The band was like Piano Guys minus the piano. I ended up buying a couple of their CDs after the show, and they signed them for me. :-)



However, during intermission, I got back to the table, and I look up and all of a sudden there is a HUGE line of people in front of me. I'd memorized the "spiel," so when they asked me how much the CDs were, I'd say "Well, these 2 are $12 each, this one's $15, BUT we have a great deal - if you buy 2 CDs, it's $20; if you buy 3, it's $30." Most of the time, they raised their eyebrows in surprise and proceeded to buy 2 or 3. A pair of girls slightly older than me got to the table, picked up one of the CDs and shrieked, "Oh my goodness! Taylor Swift's on this one! We have got to get this one!" Then they glanced up at me, and I'm hiding a grin because I have no idea why they're so excited about Taylor Swift. "How much is this?" Proceed with spiel. Met with "Oh man! We can get two of them now! Which one?! Oh, this one! Yeah! It's got (name of song I've never heard before) on it! Yeah, we'll take these two!"

So, yeah, that was pretty entertaining to watch. And I upsold 'em. *mischievous laugh* ;-D I had no idea I was such a good salesgirl.

Then it got crazy. I mean crazy. I told you there was a huge line. And that I was all by myself. So here I was, sliding cards and taking cash and handing out change and shooting out the deal we had and answering questions and...Well, I was not prepared for so many people all at once. I have a new appreciation for the people at the merchandise tables at the concerts I go to.

Well, I got another volunteer to help me out, and together, we sold a bunch of CDs. It was a bit less hectic, although the card reader misbehaved quite a few times and some people had to pay cash (we did a little happy dance every time a credit card went through the first time!). After the concert, the band members sat at the table beside us to sign CDs, so that was a huge rush too. Everyone wanted to buy a CD (and 9 times out of 10, they ended up with 2 or 3). It was like a flood. It was loud. It was crazy. But we sold albums like nobody's business.

I'm really introverted, so that whole experience was pretty overwhelming for a while. I had to actually talk to hundreds of people. That was a feat in and of itself. I had to smile happily when the card reader didn't want to work, though inside I was going crazy hoping they wouldn't get upset at me. I had to count out change (we had to break a lot of bills, which was a bit annoying - I wondered how people could have such huge bills and not a single 10 or 20.) - and sometimes I counted twice since I didn't want to shortchange anyone. Thank goodness I didn't.

So, I had to overcome that whole thing. After the concert-goers had had their CDs bought and signed, I leaned over and told the other volunteer, "Hey, let's buy our CDs from each other!" So, I gave her the spiel and she bought two and I swiped her card and we laughed out loud since the card actually went through. Then she turned and gave me the spiel and I bought two and she counted out the cash and stuffed it into the bag, zipped it up. Then we went around the table, grinning from ear to ear, and the band members signed our CDs and thanked us for helping out. We shook hands, took each other's picture with them. Then they packed up their instruments, thanked us one more time, and left the venue.

And I was exhausted, let me tell you! I couldn't believe how many CDs we'd sold that night! And how many people there were! And how awesome it was that, as simple as it was, the band member taught me how to use a card reader. So, I went home a couple hours later, very happy and very tired.

But if you asked me to work the merch table at a concert, I'd do it again.

Even if the card reader misbehaved.


Monday, June 6, 2016

My TeenPact Experience, Part 4

This is the last post in this series, though I'm sure there will be many more TeenPact references to come.  I hope you've enjoyed this series on what I've experienced and learned as a TeenPacter!


To end this series, I'm going to start with something I've learned about TeenPact elections.

All my life, I've wanted to be important, loved and accepted.  Doesn't everyone?  But I've realized that just because I didn't get through the primaries until this year doesn't mean that I wasn't well-liked or accepted by the other TeenPacters in my party.  And it doesn't mean that I wasn't good enough or hadn't tried hard enough or hadn't met enough students for anyone to want to vote for me.  I blamed myself for being fake, for not even trying to be brave, for being too shy.  And, as you've read in my previous posts in this series, I had made myself believe that no one would like me for being myself.  I put that lie in my head, walked into TeenPact and owned it.  And afterwards, I knew I'd done it all for the sake of being popular and accepted.

In the first part of this series, I wrote about how TeenPacters have a "game" of sorts.  When I first started going to TeenPact, I was so worried that I'd play the game wrong.  If I didn't play right, no one would vote for me.  If I didn't play right, no one would recognize me and ask me "For what purpose do you rise?"  If I didn't play right...On and on!  I was so afraid of the game that it consumed me. But the game is just an imaginary, silly game.  It's unwritten.  It changes.  It's not about popularity or being voted for in the elections - it's about having fun with suspending rules to make the PD talk like Kermit The Frog, or having the clerk read bills in a Speedy Gonzalez voice.  It's about poking fun at speaking con.  It's about debating a bill to make the state a constitutional monarchy, and amending it to appoint the Program Director as the king (and then, after Rendezvous, crowning him with a paper crown and giving him a coffee mug with The King written on it).  The game isn't an imposing threat that if you mess one thing up (and you don't even know what that one thing might be!), you'll fail miserably.  The game is purely fun and not real.  I just wish I'd known that sooner.

So, this year was the first time I stopped fearing the imaginary game.  I stopped caring about being fake to be liked, and started caring about being real.  And if people liked me for who I really was, well, I'd have some new friends.  And perhaps it wasn't just about me coming out from behind my mask and taking charge of my real self.  Perhaps it was actually my slogan that got me into General Elections.  Perhaps it was actually what I said during Rendezvous that allowed me to meet new people.  Or maybe it was so many things combined with my mission to stop being an awkward fake person and start being an awkward real person that brought a whole new light to my TeenPact experience.

All I know is that, this year, I didn't regret anything, cry afterwards, or kick myself for saying something dumb.  Like Lecrae says in his song, Broken:

Ain’t a soul on the planet
That’s better than another
And we all need grace in the face of each other

So I'm done with putting on masks for the sake of making friends.  If I do that, I won't be making the right friends: the ones who accept me for who I am.  I'm not Taw, Paprika, the PD who can play Devil's Advocate, or TeenPact President Fitzpatrick (of the #thanksFitzpatrick and #thanksFitzpatrickthe2nd fame).  I'm myself.  And that's good enough for me.

TeenPact, thanks for teaching me about chewy fruit and good-for-the-environment candy, for giving me fun memories that will last forever, and for getting to know awesome staffers, interns and Program Directors!  But most importantly, thanks for helping me find myself.


TeenPact has taught me to be a leader not just in my TeenPact life, but also in my daily life in general, and has greatly impacted me in my walk.  I recommend the classes to anyone and everyone in their teens!


Other Parts Of This Series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Friday, June 3, 2016

My TeenPact Experience, Part 3

I learn a lot when TeenPact rolls around.  The alumni track was really good this year.  The American Criminal Justice System is much more interesting than you'd think.  I had to write a 1,500-word essay about it, after all!  In the time it took me to research and write up my essay, entitled "How To Reform The American Criminal Justice System," I consumed loads of facts, stories and statistics.  I don't know when I'll ever again have to talk to someone about the 2.2 million people currently in prison, but if I do, I'll have lots of facts to back me up!


Our PD this year was, in a word, amazing.  He could play Devil's Advocate like nobody's business.  He asked questions that made us think about our opinions and why we believed in them.  "Not that your ideas are wrong, but you want to be able to back them up if someone asks you the why behind them." He said.  I still wonder if he put forth some of his own opinions when he played Devil's Advocate though. ;)

One of the things that has impacted me the most about TeenPact this year was how real I was.  I was more open with the people in my Rendezvous group.  And I'm not open with people.  But this year, when the staffers in my group asked about anything we needed to get off our chests, I didn't feel like staying quiet.  I didn't want to hide behind a mask anymore.  I didn't want to worry about whether or not one of them would judge me.  I didn't want to bother with hiding.  So, I opened up a little and found that one of the girls I know empathized with me...she knew exactly what I was going through.

When I got out of General elections, even though I didn't win, I had no regrets.  I didn't regret coming up with a dumb agrarian slogan, didn't regret trying to make people like me, didn't regret making a fool of myself, didn't regret putting on a lot of masks for everyone, didn't regret losing in the primaries.  Because I didn't have to.  Things were different this year.  I was different this year.  I had a great slogan courtesy of my Mom (thanks, Mom!), met lots of new people by just being myself, found that I had a lot more in common with some people than I'd originally thought, and got into the General elections.  And I didn't regret anything I'd done at TeenPact this year.

I made it my mission during TeenPact week to be myself.  Truth is, sometimes I don't know who that is.  But I believe TeenPact, its staffers, its program directors and its students have helped me learn day by day, week by week a little bit more about who I am.

And who knows?  Maybe next year, I'll be a senator.

Have you been to TeenPact?  Tell me in the comments section about how TP has shaped who you are!

I hope you enjoy this series of posts about my experiences at TeenPact!  Thanks for reading!


Other Parts Of This Series:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 4



Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My TeenPact Experience, Part 2

Hey, y'all!  Hope you enjoyed my previous post in this series!  Here's Part 2!


I knew a lot of the students this year.  Some of them were staffers now.  I smiled, shook their hands, gave them hugs if I knew them well enough.  Our PD seemed familiar to me.  Turns out, through a slightly awkward conversation, I realized I'd seen him on TeenPact Memes.  He's famous there, I guess. ;)

After catching up with my TeenPact buddies, I met a few new people...Most of them were first-timers.  I told them that, if they liked the first year, the Alumni Track would be even more fun.

I spent months writing up my essay (the previous year, you had to write two 500-word essays on interventionism.  This year, it was one 1,500 word essay on the American Criminal Justice System), planning my bill topic, and coming up with the slogan.  No more dumb agrarian slogan.  This year, I'd be myself.  This would be my slogan.  Well, not quite because...

See, every student knows Taw's name.  So, they also know that I'm his little sister.  If I had a dollar for every time I met a student or staffer who said, "Hey, you must be Taw's little sister!"  I can't tell you how rich I'd be.  But connections are good.  Especially when you have a big brother who's been elected to every position.

So, this year, my slogan was "Vote For Me.  I'm Taw's Little Sister!"  Yup, that was my slogan.  I loved it.  It was funny because everyone knew who Taw was.  And, oh, the laughs I got when I said it!  A candidate standing next to me when we were in the primaries liked it a lot.  Every time after that, when we started talking to each other, he'd say "Vote for me.  I'm Taw's little sister!"  And I laughed too.  Pretty good slogan compared to my agrarian tree hugger slogan two years before.

Primaries...Students nominate others and/or themselves.  Every candidate in your party stands in a line.  You all get asked questions, like "What would you do (selfishly...no giving it to charity) with a million dollars?"  And then you get really deep questions, like "What kind of fish would you be and why?"

I said I'd be the humuhumunukunuku─üpua'a.  More laughing (mind you, I was laughing too).  One of my friends, a staffer, exclaimed, "Say that again!"  One of the students said, "I can't fit that many syllables into my mouth!"  Ah, it was a good feeling.  Being myself and loving it.  It's nice to have a good laugh with everyone when you say you'd like to be the Hawaiian state fish. And humuhumunukunuku─üpua'a sounds so much more impressive than simply saying Reef Triggerfish. :D

Another part of being myself was reassuring other students - first-timers and alumni alike - that they should run, or that they'd do great, or that it'd be lots of fun.  I like to focus on helping other people feel comfortable, especially when I'm feeling just the same.  Those butterflies I told you about in my previous post?  Well, I'm not the only one who gets them.  One girl, she got elected Senator.  She sat next to me the last day, fretting about her speech, telling me she'd probably make a mistake, or just stand there and freeze.  I told her she'd do great, that I knew she would.  She gave a little laugh and said she'd totally campaign for me next year - do anything to help me out since she didn't want to run again.  She delivered her speech, and sat down next to me, breathing out a sigh.  I complimented her and she grinned.  I like that feeling of making people feel good about themselves.

So, as you can probably guess, I didn't get elected this year either.  But there's something I have to tell you.  For the first time as a TeenPacter, I got voted out of the primaries!  I made it to the General elections!  I was so, so happy!  I could hardly believe it.  I finally got to stand where my friends - and big brother - had stood.  I got to answer questions about which donut I'd be, and what our party stance was!  And there I was, more content than I'd ever been at TeenPact, standing in front of all the other students.  Lined up with all the other Senatorial candidates, answering every question with a huge smile on my face.

And, yeah, the other students laughed with me when I announced my slogan.

Have you been to TeenPact?  Did you get into the elections?  Tell me about your TP experience in the comments below!  

I hope you enjoy this series of posts about my experiences at TeenPact!  Thanks for reading!

Other Parts Of This Series:
Part 1
Part 3
Part 4