Thursday, March 23, 2017

Day 1543: No Rest for the Disney


Apparently I'm only stopping by to write blog posts for my creative writing class because I favor sleep over more writing at the end of the day. Ironically enough, this blog post is distinctly about how we don't need sleep...sort of. 

A few weeks ago we read an article on sleep for class, and while I'll admit that I completely forgot to read it for the class period we were supposed to read it for, I did go back and read through it afterwards, and I'm glad I did. The article, How to Sleep debunks some of the myths about sleep in an informative and somewhat comical way. As a college student, I can definitely say that the amount of sleep I'm getting probably isn't what I should be getting, but to read an article about sleep itself made me think about more than just my current schedule. 

In the article, James Hamblin discusses how much sleep we actually need, if caffeine really works, and my personal favorite part - if we can train ourselves to need less sleep. Hamblin tells the tale of a high school student in San Diego who stayed awake for 264 hours. He did it for a science project, and while I know for a fact that I wouldn't be able to stay awake for 11 days, I'm almost sold on the idea of training ourselves to need less sleep. Why? Disney World. 

If you've ever spent a day or two at a Disney Park, you might be familiar with the early mornings, exhausting afternoons, and long nights. Honestly, my motto generally is that there's no sleep at Disney World, because typically there's always something going on that you'll want to experience. So, instead of resting on our "vacation," we head to park opening in the morning and stay until we're the last ones out of the park at night. Then we go back to the room, catch a couple of hours of sleep, and get up to do it all over again. 

Of course, at the end of the article, he wonders how one might break the cycle of sleep deprivation, and in our everyday lives, that might be possible. We might be able to turn off our phones long before we go to bed, sleep at regular times each night, and drink less caffeine in the real world, and there's our solution. But in all honesty, I just don't see that happening at Disney. We need to be on our phones to post all the exciting pictures from our day, there are no "regular hours," because when Animal Kingdom opens at 7 and closes at 11, but Epcot's hours the next day are 9 to 9, you go with the flow, and with all the Starbucks locations now open in the parks, caffeine is all too easy to find. 

So sleep at home. Save the sleep deprivation for Disney World. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Day 1529: Reading For Fun


Our prompt this week for Creative Writing Seminar is to write about something we've been reading lately, or have read, outside of class that has either inspired us or put us off. If I was lying, I'd probably go on some rant about how much I enjoyed reading The Martian this past summer and how it really impacted me emotionally and reminded me just how much I love reading (although, is suppose, that wouldn't be all that distant from the truth). However, as Pinocchio taught me, I must not tell a lie, and that means that I have to be honest about the fact that I haven't had a lot of time for reading lately. Aside from my regular schoolwork, all my spare time has gone to rehearsing for Knights on Broadway, which leaves in just a couple of days to perform in Florida, or practicing my pieces for my recital, which is quickly approaching in just over a month. So yeah, not a lot of time to spare. Unless I learn how to dance while reading. That could be fun. 

I suppose I do  have that giant and ever-growing stack of books that resides on the bottom shelf of my bedside table, which features novels and memoirs I've been intending to read and may finally dig into sometime this upcoming summer (that's probably wishful thinking though). Still, even as I think back to what I've read over the past few years (which, as I said, isn't much), nothing really stands out to me as important in some way. Actually, it's almost as though I can't remember any book I've ever read (except, apparently, The Martian and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?). So no, I suppose I don't have an answer to the question about which book I particularly enjoyed or didn't enjoy, and maybe that says something interesting in itself. 

A significant portion of my life has been spent reading, and there are days when I want nothing more than to curl up on my balcony or in a comfy chair with some tea, a blanket, and some excellent music just so I can spend an evening reading the latest hardcover or paperback I've picked up. However, with being a full time college student, recently those books have been more in the realm of Shakespeare plays I'm reading for my independent study rather than something for fun (not that Shakespeare isn't fun). It's still reading, yes, and I can definitely still curl up with a blanket and some tea, but there's still a difference between reading for enjoyment and reading about the typical range of your average Bb Trumpet. 

It is important to note, however, that I typically bring books with me when I'm traveling. I almost always buy a new one before I leave, because there's always ample time for me to do nothing but read while sitting at an airport or on a plane. It's like time automatically set aside for reading. Unless, of course, I manage to finish my book before I even get on the plane. Then we have a problem. Coincidentally, I've also been known to do some of my best writing on planes, so perhaps I should be reconsidering my life choices and spending more time at airports and less time on the couch in my living room. The goods news here is that I'll be traveling within the next 48 hours (I'll actually be in Florida 48 hours from now), so perhaps I might actually get some reading and writing done then. 

None of this has been a description of a book that's influenced me though, mostly because I still can't recall most of what I've read in the past couple of years. It's amazing how your memory will fail you like that. So I'll just go with a blanket answer - it's not as much about what I've read recently or in my life as much as it's about why I've read. Reading (and writing) have been important parts of my life for almost as long as I can remember, reaching all the way back to reading a children's book called The Ghost Family Meets Its Match in my parents' closet every other week (the library wouldn't let me check it out more frequently than that), and all the reading that has shaped me into the book-loving English major I am today. Plus, there's definitely something to be said about all the wonderful books that inspired Disney movies over the years, because yes, this is still a Disney blog and I have to relate it somehow. Just think, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, Tangled, or Cinderella wouldn't exist if not for the fairy tales they're based on. Even films such as 101 Dalmatians and Mary Poppins are derived from the pages of a book, and those films have definitely inspired me throughout my life, so there you go. 

Which means that the answer to the initial question, about what I've read that has impacted me in some way, lies somewhere in between The Ghost Family Meets Its Match and Mary Poppins, although to be fair, I've never actually read Mary Poppins

I should probably get on that. 

Have a magical day! 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Day 1512: A Significant Moment



It's time for another blog post focused on my Creative Writing Seminar, although since I haven't had a chance to write another blog post since the last piece focusing on the class, it's almost as though no time has passed at all. Regardless, this week we've been challenged to discuss an important moment in our writing history, and, for me at least, there are few moments that could top the stirrings of Everyday Disney back in late 2012.

Prior to January 2013, and really prior to later that year, blogging had never been my strong suit. The most I'd written in the blog post category could be found in the expectations section of any number of high school syllabi, and that meant that even the first few months of constant blogging were pretty rough, although that's not why starting Everyday Disney takes the cake on my list of significant writing moments.

Like many of my peers, I can definitely recall moments as a kid where I'd make little books out of blank paper and a few staples or where I'd seek out a spare notebook from the depths of my basement to scribble in. I'd typically write stories about dogs, probably from the dog's point of view, but what can I say? I watched a lot of Air Bud as a kid...and I really wanted a dog. I suppose one could suggest that these early days were important because it gave me an opportunity to explore my imagination, but in the overall scheme of things, that just wasn't the most significant part of my writing journey, and that's okay.

Fast forward to my high school years, where, amongst all that horrible blogging, I discovered not particularly that I liked writing as much as it just came naturally to me. I can still recall sitting in an Intro to Business class, of all places, happily typing away at a paper or letter we had to write for an assignment, and my friends, who sat on either side of me, commenting on just how quickly I was moving along. I figured they just meant my typing, because I've always been notoriously fast and loud at typing, but in reality they were talking about the actual writing I was doing. In a trend that would continue throughout the remainder of my high school years, where my peers would struggle with what to say on an in-class essay or any essay in general, I'd quite contently work my way down each page, writing, writing, and writing some more.

By the start of my senior year, I was locked in an internal debate about what I'd major in when I headed to college the following fall. I knew I was good at writing, and I knew I liked writing, but I also knew that music would be a good fit for me, and history was constantly knocking at the door as well. But trying to achieve a triple major sounded like a horrible idea, so I did the best I could and dropped the official major for History in favor of focusing on English and Music. That decision wouldn't have come, however, without Everyday Disney.

To this day, I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking in the last few weeks of 2012 that made me so eager to write a blog post a day for an entire year. It was a lot of work, I'd be going through a lot of changes, the internet at my house was slower than a turtle on a bad day, and I had no prior experience with blogging. Little did I know that there was one day to fix at least a few of those problems. Blogging every day was, at first, really difficult and taxing. It still is on some days, especially now as I head into the fifth year and frequently struggle with coming up with brand new topics that I have yet to cover, but the more I blogged, the easier it became. Because of the consistency of writing a daily blog, I was able to keep writing even when it seemed like my muse was floating away, and that's a lesson you can only learn through continuous writing. You have to push through it, and I wouldn't know that without my daily blog. In addition, I've gained writing experience, found a voice of my own, expanded my vocabulary, learned what it means to write professionally on a regular basis, meet deadlines, and continue to pump enthusiasm into posts even when you're writing them at 11 pm on a Monday night and all you want to do is go to bed.

Was Everyday Disney the only important moment in my writing journey? Goodness no, and to be honest it doesn't have all that much to do with creative writing specifically, because there are plenty of other elements at play there, but when it comes to my writing as a whole, I'm incredibly thankful that 17-year-old me decided to start a daily blog about Disney...even if I'm behind for what seems to be the hundredth time.

Until tomorrow...or the next Creative Writing Seminar blog post,

Have a magical day!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Day 1493: A New Challenge


I write...a lot. 

For my wonderful regular readers here at Everyday Disney, this probably isn't much of a surprise anymore. You know quite well how I am capable of rambling on for what feels like days about some Disney-oriented topic that probably didn't require a five-page explanation. Alright, so perhaps my blog posts aren't that long, but in the four years I've been writing here, I have discussed my writing more than a few times, and really, things haven't changed much. I'm still writing for Everyday Disney, as well as The Odyssey Online, multiple classes, video scripts, in a personal journal and, for the most part, anywhere else I can find a spot to jot down a few ideas or a quick story. 

But as we start a new month and as I write the first in a new series of blog posts (which I'll explain in a moment), I've decided on a new challenge for the month of February that will encourage me to actually keep up with daily blog posts, tie in my coursework with Disney in a whole new way, and will be, I believe, rather interesting.

I'm going to count every word I write in the month of February, and here's the how and why: 

As I round out my final year at St. Norbert College, I've returned to working toward a degree in English with a Creative Writing Emphasis and am enrolled in a creative writing seminar. It's more or less an extension of a fiction workshop course I took last semester, which reminded me why I love writing in the first place. This semester, we're required to write a few blog posts in addition to our regular writing exercises, which I took as a brand new challenge, figuring it would be fun to really intertwine my coursework with what I'm already doing here. 

And as for the first blog post topic? You guessed it - writing. 

When I really sat down and thought about my writing though, I realized that much of my writing style has been, at least in some way, shape or form, influenced directly by Disney or through some connection to the company. In particular, through reading Anne Lamott's bird by bird, I've noticed a few direct examples of this. 

I write like I'm directing a film. Lamott notes that, when writing, she'll frequently imagine a scene as though it were on film. What would the background look like? How would the characters be situated in the scene? What would they be wearing? What would the lighting be like? In all reality - what would it look like if it were a movie instead of words on a page? When I read this, I couldn't help but smile because thank goodness someone else does this too. Working as a videographer and photographer on the side, I'm always picturing exactly how everything would look as though I were in the Disney studios creating a storyboard to make my work into a movie. 

I also rely on the details, similar to the way Disney-Pixar so carefully creates the shadows and reflections that make films such as Finding Nemo or Cars so realistic. I do my research and ground my works in reality, even if the characters and events of my writing are completely fictional. If I'm writing a piece I want to set in Ireland, I'll search the internet until I find the exact location I'm looking for. If I'm writing a piece on a car salesman in the 1950s, I'll search out that perfect name for his wife, what suit he probably would be wearing and what car he'd be likely to drive. I'll do research to the point where, if you read my piece, you'd probably believe that I'd been to Ireland or actually lived as a 1950s car salesman in a former life (spoiler alerts: I haven't been to Europe and I'm fairly certain I wasn't a car salesman...I think). Anne Lamott discusses this too, only for her the topic is gardening, and she works to insure that her writing is as accurate as the apples that are growing on a tree in the fictional backyard, despite the fact that she has fake flowers outside her own home. 

I write with the knowledge that it won't be the final product. Mickey Mouse, as you may or may not know, wasn't Walt Disney's first hit character, meaning Mickey Mouse wasn't the first draft. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was, and he was stolen from Walt along with his workers just before the creation of the mouse we know and love today. But Oswald taught Walt important lessons, and served a purpose of his own. Our first drafts don't have to work out, because they're just paving the way for the spectacular drafts yet to come. Reminding myself that even the creators of Tangled and The Lion King probably had, as Lamott notes, "shitty first drafts," keeps me going through the day. Maybe I won't get it right in the first draft, or the second, or the third, but if I keep working at it, eventually I'll find my own Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, although, perhaps I should aim for Mickey in this metaphor.

The point here is this, because this blog post is getting much longer than anticipated - my writing is constantly evolving, but no matter how far off track I get, I'm always grounded by the habits and strategies I've picked up along the way, the most important one of which is writing a lot. As I tally up the words that make up blog posts, articles, assignments, and journal entries throughout the month of February, I'm excited to see just how much I'm writing, and to reexamine what I'm writing as time goes on, because I'm sure that, as always, it will be quite the adventure.

Expect to see more blog posts from my Creative Writing Seminar in the future. Each will be tagged with #sncEngl425 if you want to hone in on just those posts - or if you're one of my classmates and don't feel the need to listen to my sometimes lengthy spiels about Spaceship Earth.

Have a magical day!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Day 1475: Carrie and Debbie


It's not everyday you see hundreds gather with lightsabers and umbrellas at Disney's Hollywood Studios for a lightsaber and umbrella vigil, and it's even more rare that I'm able to be there to capture it all since I'm only at Walt Disney World for select days of the year. I haven't had the opportunity to attend a fan event since the D23 Expo in August of 2015, but as magical as that was, there was certainly something special about January 14 and the gathering at Disney's Hollywood Studios. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, on a Saturday in January, fans gathered at Hollywood Studios to celebrate the lives of two of the world's greatest: Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. The mood throughout the day, at times, was somber, but for the most part was filled with the spirit and energy the two women were so known for, and it was incredible to see their legacies directly portrayed through only a handful of their most dedicated fans.

Since I'm frequently found with a video camera in hand, I made a special effort to create a Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds Tribute Video, which you can watch above. It features some of the fans I met while at the event, sharing why Debbie and Carrie are so important to them. I was a bit nervous at first, worried that I wouldn't get enough people to make up an entire video, but I eventually relished in each word the fans spoke into my camera, and as I spent an evening editing it, I couldn't help but feel an immense sense of pride. I was getting to edit this video, and no matter how big or small the scale of it, these fans, like myself, felt a connection to Carrie and Debbie, and for the first time since their death, I felt comforted in the fact that we aren't alone, and they most certainly won't be forgotten. 

I encourage you to watch the above video, not for me, but for the fans and for Carrie and Debbie. Share it, and let's continue to pass the lessons they've taught us to future generations. These women may have left us right when it seems we need them most, but that doesn't mean they aren't here beside us, because the force is strong, and we are the future. 

Have a magical day!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Day 1471: Carrie Fisher Tribute



It's only been a couple of weeks since we all lost the wonderful Carrie Fisher and her spectacular mother, Debbie Reynolds, and the wounds are certainly still fresh. This Saturday, however, fans from near and far will be gathering at Hollywood Studios to celebrate the lives of these amazing women, and there's plenty for you to get involved in if you're in the area! 

You can find all the official information on the event HERE on the Facebook Event Page, but here are just a few of the highlights: 

Throughout the day guests will be DisneyBounding their favorite Carrie and Debbie characters, from Princess Leia to Kathy Selden, and you're welcome to join in too! Wear a DisneyBound (being mindful of the costume rules) or dress in your Dapper Best for the event! A group photo will be taken at 2 pm in the courtyard of the Chinese Theater!

Group Rides on Star Tours and the Great Movie Ride are scheduled during the day as well. It's suggested that you get fastpasses for these experiences as well, but something tells me that riding Star Tours with a bunch of Carrie Fisher fans would be pretty entertaining! 

Participate in the Group Viewing of 'Star Wars: A Galaxy Far Far Away' at 3:30 in front of the courtyard stage. Again, this sounds like it would be pretty excited when surrounded by fans just like you! 

Finish off the evening with a Lightsaber Vigil! Similar to the event held at Downtown Disney at Disneyland recently, the lightsaber vigil will take place in front of the courtyard stage, with Disney presenting favorite Carrie moments on the courtyard screen! Help us pay tribute to Carrie and Debbie in the best way we know how! 

Luckily, I'll be attending select portions of the tribute event to celebrate Carrie and Debbie and to help film a tribute video! Information on the filming and how you can be a part of it will be available on the Facebook page and I will share that information here as well when it is available! 

I hope to see many of you on Saturday as we celebrate the lives of these women gone too soon! Let's make it an event they'd be proud of! 

Have a magical day!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Day 1470: A New Experience


It's not everyday that you get to conduct an orchestra, but that was my day. Despite a snowstorm that has been wrecking havoc in Wisconsin and roads that were less than favorable, I was able to drive about an hour to Sheboygan to conduct the Youth Symphony, thanks to one of my professors here at St. Norbert. 

A few months ago I conducted the concert band as a part of my conducting class (and also as a favor of that same professor) and he soon after asked if I'd ever thought about grad school for conducting. I had to be honest, because I have considered it, but never especially seriously, especially after several faculty changes at St. Norbert and a semester of conducting class that left me less than motivated. My professor took me under his wing though, and over the past month we've been working on Beethoven's Symphony No. 1, which he's been working on with the Youth Symphony for their upcoming concert. After weeks of listening and singing the parts myself and practicing in my bathroom, I got up on the podium and led the ensemble - and had an amazing time doing it! 

I suppose that a few months ago I wasn't entirely sure if I wanted to pursue conducting in grad school. I wasn't even sure I wanted to go to grad school, but conducting those kids last night reaffirmed my love of conducting, and while I definitely still have a long ways to go, I'm excited about the prospect of attending grad school in the future for conducting. I have no idea where that might lead me in the future, but I do know that wherever it is, I'll continue to keep a motto of mine: whenever you feel like taking a step back, take a step forward instead. It definitely put me outside of my comfort zone to get up on the podium, but I learned a lot and gained valuable experience in the process, which just goes to show that taking that step forward, just as Walt always suggested we "Keep moving forward" will go a long way in making our dreams come true.

Have a magical day!