The Engagement

It was quite an exciting Thanksgiving break. Joe and I are getting MARRIED! Oh man I have been waiting for this for like…years?

The Story:

Thanksgiving morning my family decided to do a breakfast since my dad and I worked that evening. It was a really sweet morning spent with Dad, Pennie, Mami, Grandma, Mimi, Falynn, Evan, and of course Jessica (because Jess comes to all our family events) Joe told me his flight arrived into Austin at 11:40 and he asked me if I would pick him up from the airport.

Around 11:00 I start saying goodbyes to everyone so I can make it to the airport on time. Things get kind of hectic when you have to say bye to two grandmothers and a great grandma. There are pictures that have to be taken and long squeezy hugs…I was just so ready to get to Joe. Somewhere in the business of things Jessica picked up my phone and walked me out to my car.
 

She said “So, You aren’t going to the airport. Here is your phone and here is a map. Think First and Third Anniversary”

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My first reaction was “What? This is happening right now?”

Followed by “How long has he been here?!”

Jessica said “I don’t know he wont tell me anything because he is a JERK!” haha…poor Jess.

I knew exactly where to go. There is a beautiful overlook of Lake Austin, the skyline and the 360 bridge that Joe and I have been to on the anniversaries that he has been able to be home for. It is a beautiful place to stargaze.

Driving there I am freaking out. I knew this was coming but I did NOT think it would be then. I had assumed it was going to be sometime Friday. In all the excitement I missed my exit and had to turn around…I probably looked like a crazy person driving.

I get to the cliffs and start hiking to the top. I am so glad I wore my riding boots because I almost wore heels…and that would have been a disaster. Joe has made me do that once before and I think we both fell. I get about half way up and Joe’s brother Jim pops out from behind a tree.

I said “Hey Jim!”

He said “Hey! This way is closed.”

Me: “Its closed? Which way do I go then?”

Jim pointed to a smaller trail on the outside of the cliff. I follow the little path over to where Joe is waiting for me. I walk up to him telling him he is really sneaky because he should have been at the airport. I give him a hug and then we just look at each for a minute.

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He finally gets down on one knee and says a bunch of stuff that for now…I’m keeping to myself. It is too sweet for me to share for a while I think. I like the secrecy of it. No…surprisingly I didn’t cry. He teared up a bit though 🙂 PS…that smile…come on. *swoon*

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It all felt so magical. The weather was absolutely perfect. It was sunny but cool and a little breezy. Joe was proposing and my hair was being blown behind me like the wind knew was was up. (yep…that sounds totally cheesy but it happened) The cliff was a little bit lower than the main area. Joe said that area was to crowded for him. Our spot was just enough room for the two of us.

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In the excitement of it all I didn’t get the greatest picture of my ring up at the top of the cliff…soo…its a little blurry. I’m hoping maybe we can take some of our engagement photos up there.

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Here is a better photo though:

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He did good. Yeah? I had no idea what to expect but it’s perfect!

We made some phone calls and then went to see my dad at work to show him. He was surprised and excited. Then we went back to my grandmother’s house where all the ladies were still talking.

The second we pulled up to the duplex Alison (Joe’s sister) came running out to see us. They live in the unit next to my grandmother. I am SO impressed with her because she knew about the engagement for a whole week and I saw her every. single. day. since Joe told her and had no clue she knew anything. She had to listen to me freak out about the possibility of not getting engaged and the fact that there were 10 engagements on my Facebook and Twitter feed in that week.

Mom was really excited for us. I had talked to her the night before telling her I was hoping for a ring and that I went and got a manicure and everything JUST so I was prepared.  Chandler Cole and Kennedy were pretty excited too. They all want to know when we are getting married!

We went in to see the grandmas and there was lots of hugging and they all cried I think. I think Pennie took some video. I bet it is some great stuff. The twins were thrilled. Evan wanted to know what time the wedding would be. Joe decided 3:45…Evan thought that would be fine. My Falynn was excited about us getting married but I think the idea of her sister moving to Germany was a little much. That girl has a heart of gold and loves Joe so much I can’t wait to see what their relationship looks like as the kids grow up. We did a toast with some bubbly and then we were off to see Joe’s family.

Joe didn’t tell anyone but Alison and Jim but his mom had one of those mom feelings that it was happening. She was prepared with champagne (thanks to Obama winning the election she had no reason to toast to the President)

The rest of the day was a sweet time of calling and texting friends. We had Thanksgiving dinner with his family, watched some football and then I was off to work where I pretty much just stared at my hand the whole time.

Friday we had a small engagement party with some friends. Nothing too crazy. A fire, smores and champagne. A good good time with really good friends. I can’t wait to celebrate being married with them!

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Lots of people are wondering about the plan..so here it goes

We will be getting married in early March. We are hoping to set a date by the end of the week. Woohoo for playing on the Army’s schedule. The wedding will be between him graduating BOLC and going to Airborne. Once he is done with Airborne we head to Germany April 1. WE yes…we are both going to Germany. Crazyyyyyy. I am really excited. I will be taking next semester off school to work and plan the wedding and then finish school over in Germany while Joe is deployed. Just call me Army Wife. (AHHHHHH)

It is all real now. I could not be more excited. I am sorry if the next time you see me I am just vomiting wedding talk. Tell me to talk about Jesus or something. I’m sure my brain would appreciate that and so would your ears. Three months to plan a wedding is not a long time but we’ve got a great support system and I have no doubt that it will be one of the sweetest days of my life.

I can’t wait to be Joe’s wife and start our adventure in Germany!

My Musical Aside for November

For those of you who don’t know, I drive about 1,000 miles a week (minus 500 miles). Naturally I spend a ton of time in my car listening to what awful radio I can get without an antenna. Recently I have had all the Rianna and FUN I can get so I stumbled upon the classical radio station.

Classical music has been very painful for me to listen to for the past three years.

Three years ago I put my horn down

Three years ago I moved home from a school I absolutely loved.

Three years ago I stopped studying the only thing in life that made sense to me.

I went from playing, listening, reading, learning, eating, breathing music twenty four hours a day to studying pre calculus, Texas government, and spanish on top of working thirty hours a week.

Since I stopped playing horn hearing classical music made me cry. Like full on ugly cry occasionally. Even movie music would get to me. I work at a movie theater and some of the scores would stab me in the stomach.

I was going through my books a couple weeks ago and found notes from my professors at Baylor. They were incredibly complementary on my musicianship. As a musician you don’t take compliments very well and it is easy to beat yourself up when you get criticism. These notes got me thinking about how much I really miss studying music.
Reflecting on why classical music puts a lump in my throat, I started to realize that I don’t play enough music for myself. I miss the satisfaction of practicing something for hours on end to finally nail it ten times out of ten and know it sounds good. I miss the frustration of transposition and the joy in finally getting it right. I miss working finger patterns and the sore feeling of exercising the muscles in my lips until they are numb. It was good and fulfilling.

All this means to me is I need to do something like this again. There are times in learning a new musical instrument that you get discouraged and you hit what feels like a wall but is actually just a plateau. It is hard to continue to move forward and feel like you are getting better. I have finally reached a place where I feel like I can (sometimes) say I play guitar. I love the calluses that have consistently been on the fingertips of my left hand for the past six months and the achey feeling in my hands after trying to push my limits. This is good. I am more motivated than ever before to keep playing guitar. Yes, I sing at church a couple times a week but using your voice is just not the same as working your hands and your mind together to create music that started off rough and playing it until its right.

Now I don’t cry when I turn on the classical radio station or hear amazing scores in movies or watch The Punch Brothers play Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3.

Now I smile, close my eyes, and take it in. Hoping some day I can feel as good about playing a string instrument as I did about playing French Horn.
Don’t get me wrong. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I was still at Baylor studying counterpoint and spending fifteen hours a week in a practice room. However, I know that my place is here now. I just need to make good use of my time and prioritize my heart and dedicate the right about of energy to what makes me feel put back together.

The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse

I was given the awesome opportunity to read Michael Gungor’s first book The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse: A Book For Creators before it hit shelves yesterday.


This was one of the most encouraging books I have read on creativity (number one is The War of Art…go read that too!)

Now, I love Gungor. Their music inspires me and this book gives an insight as to why it really resonates with so many people and to top it all off, Michael Gungor is a phenomenal guitar player. So, I may be a little biased but at least I’m honest 🙂
If you are anybody, you should read this book. We are all creators in some way and Michael Gungor does a great job encouraging you, yet still warns you, that good art can be made but it demands a fight.

The book is divided into three parts: Art, Roots, and Soil

Art: tackles the meaning, use, beauty, and struggle of Art.

Roots: stresses the importance of where our art comes from and that fruit is telling of the tree.

Soil: explores faith, doubt, hope and love and the effects of those four nutrients on our creativity.

Gungor emphasizes the importance to being connected to yourself, your community, and God  When we are disconnected we become creatively sterile. There are times when we, as artists, need to get away and reconnect with ourselves and that is when colors seem brighter, words seem heavier, and music makes sense again. As a musician I can say I don’t do this enough.

This book resonated with everything I have been thinking, reading, and writing about this semester in school too. Sort of ironic how that happens huh?

In my World Poetry class we have been talking a lot about the impact of poetry on the world. We have argued if art can have an affect on history or if it is just an after thought. My favorite idea is that art is telling the story of what is going on in the world and in the hearts of the people living real lives that experience real things. Poetry, Music, Photography, Film, Short Stories, Buildings, Gardens, they are all simply barometers. I don’t know that any of these things can alter the course of history, but they sure are telling of the weather of hearts of those who create them.

I would definitely suggest this book to any person that creates anything from film to food. It is a quick read and really motivating. We all need a reminder of why we do the things we do and for Artists…this is one of those books.

Go buy a copy here!

Or on iTunes

Shameless Sunday Self Promotion

Some of you may know, I am currently working for the Austin Film Society. We were asked to write two blog posts for their blog Slackerwood. Rumor has it that the intern with the most views on their blog posts get a really cool prize. Help a sister out? And check out Slackerwood for some great movie reviews and film happenings in ATX.

Here is my most recent from a Movie Maker Dialogue I attended.
http://www.slackerwood.com/node/3125

This one is from the Cinema East screening of Somebody Up There Likes Me
http://www.slackerwood.com/node/3003

Click away friends!!

Long Distance Relationships Are The Worst

So, long distance relationships are the worst. Let me just tell you. Joe and I have managed to have a semi successful long distance relationship for the last 4.3333 years and it has not been easy. I pine for the day that the long distance-ness ends.

Lately I have had lots of friends find themselves in long distance relationships or relationships that have the potential to be long distance within the coming months so I thought why not offer some tips out there for you people who fear the LDR?

First of all, I am no expert…just one lady trying to get by, and mind you, my relationship has had to play by the Army’s rules (boooo) so this is what has worked for us. It is not fool proof and long distance relationships will probably not work for everyone. I would never wish it on anyone because lets face it. It totally sucks.

The beginning of our relationship involved daily letters written to Joe during basic training. No talking for six weeks except for the written word. What was I thinking dating a guy for a month and then going cold turkey, old fashioned, writing letters for two months? Beats me.

Looking back on it that was such a romantic time in our relationship (not that we have a romantic-less relationship now ha). There is something so powerful about actually writing someone a letter. Nothing like it. The excitement I had running out to the mailbox every day was something we don’t get to experience enough these days. At one point my parents told me to stop checking the mail every day because they didn’t like their mail…so I did any way and put the mail back into the mailbox after shuffling through the envelopes to see if Joe had sent me a letter. It is even sweeter to write letters when you are not forced to. So, Write Letters.

Technology is the greatest invention ever. There are phones that let you talk face to face, web cams that you can plug into almost any computer, and a ton of different ways to connect through web cams (oovoo, Skype, Google video chat, Facebook…and a bazillion others I probably don’t even know about). Use this to your advantage. Sometimes its just good to see each other move in real life. There were times when Joe and I would just do homework with the web cam on. Video Chat is the best.

I don’t know a single girl that doesn’t like random flowers. SO GREAT!  Boys…send flowers. (Proflowers.com is the bomb)

I always enjoy making Joe random goodie boxes. Us West Point Girlfriends are pros at this. Flat rate boxes are aaaamazing. You can stuff it full of baked deliciousness, toys, pictures, kool-aid packets, school supplies, magazines, snack packs, clothes, Halloween/Easter/Christmas candy, and US Postal Service will cost you $10 to send the medium sized box anywhere. Genius. Girls…send boxes!

Schedule time together. Watching the Cowboys game weekly wile texting each other about the game is one of my favorite things ever! It happens less and less now that our schedules don’t allow us both to sit down and watch the game at the same time. But one of us is usually sending the other updates on the score. I’ve also heard of people watching movies at the same time or eating dinner together over video chat.

Joe and I talk on the phone pretty much every day even if it is just to say goodnight. Now I know what you are thinking, how do you have so much to talk about that you can talk every day? We live incredibly exciting lives. NOT. Sometimes it is okay to not have anything to say. Some days just aren’t that exciting or you may be really tired and not want to think about a single thing much less hold an intellectual conversation about the book you are reading and how it is tearing apart your spiritual life (do find time to talk about that one though. Maybe after you sleep. Fostering your spiritual relationship is important). Don’t feel bad about hanging up the phone but make sure you hear each other’s voice a few times a week.

On the subject of talking on the phone, typically the first thing I ask Joe when I call him is “How was your day?” followed by “What did you do?”. Probably the best piece of advice I can give is do not do anything or put yourself in any situation that you would not want to tell your significant other about when they ask “What did you do today?”. You have got to trust each other. If you do not trust each other the 30, 50, 270, or 1700 mile distance will defeat you. Trust them and if they are not trustworthy…you may have some rethinking to do.

You will soon have a love/hate relationship with the countdown app. Some days when the little red dot has any number higher than 30 in it I sometimes want to throw my phone across the room. BUT then there are days like this and that makes everything better. It is fun to see the countdown actually go down.

The day that boy leaves and two weeks after is the hardest on me and my little heart. This last time especially. Joe was home for 60 days this summer. I was SO SPOILED (Thanks Army!). The week leading up to him leaving all my life plans sort of fell to pieces (we’ll save that story for another day) and needless to say the day he left for Missouri, left me crying all over the place. Friends are your best defense during these days. The day Joe left two of my best friends (Holla Jess and Britt!) did not leave me unattended for long. They spent the day laying on my pull out couch, watching movies, eating chocolate, drinking wine, and letting me cry whenever I wanted. Ya’ll, I have the best friends ever. They cook me dinner and keep me busy (Love you Michael and Alison!). Jessica frequents my room with my favorite Starbucks coffee of the season (because that makes everything better) two weeks after Joe leaves or I get home from visiting him because she knows I just need her to lay in bed with me while I be a girl and wallow in the right lobe of my brain obsessing over the eighty five days I have left until I see him again. I don’t know what it is about the two week mark…but it gets me. Every. Time. Stay close to your friends. Don’t sacrifice having friendships because you don’t want to make your boyfriend mad. Your friends are all you’ve got when he is gone so he can deal.

There are a million and two other things that have made my little high school sweetheart relationship become the awesomeness that it is now but this was just a little push for those of you fearing the distance. You can do it! It is not easy….it is really freaking hard but it is not impossible. Plus, there is nothing like seeing that person for the first time after 56 days….or less…or more. The butterfly nervousness and the anticipation of that first kiss is something only you get to experience and it makes all the time you get together even more of a blessing.

Haiti: One Year Later

Today marks one year since the start of our week long mission to Haiti. The past few weeks the thought of what I was doing a year ago was something I could not keep myself from dwelling on.

A year ago I was frantically packing my backpack and checking things off a list to make sure I was prepared for Haiti.

A year ago I was praying with some of my best friends that we may be lights in Haiti.

A year ago I had no idea what the next seven days would hold and that what I would see would change my heart forever.

A year ago I had no clue that I would feel this empty a year later.

Our mission trip was immediately devastating and rewarding. Poverty was thrown in our face but we got to love on some kids and see lots of good other people were doing in Haiti.

We loved on kids every day, carried bricks down a mountain, prayed over people, and mostly just learned about the country.

What are we doing now?

Man this is the hard part. What do you do after you come home from a place that desperately needs people and prayer and encouragement and knowledge?

There are days I am impatient because the line at Starbucks is too long and I’m going with out breakfast so I won’t be late to work. There are days that I really don’t want to study I just want to watch TV or mess around on Facebook.

WHO CARES? Some of these people don’t eat for days and have to walk miles for clean water. Many do not get the chance to go to college.

No one warns you about forgetting.

That is the thing about short term missions. I know HELP One Now has a great relationship with the communities they shared with us in Haiti and I actively keep up with what they are doing there. I know that our money and the time we spent there helped them continue their relationships and the ability to bless the children in the various orphanages and different families in Jean Alix’s community. But what am I doing now?

The first six months after re-entry all I could do was talk about Haiti. I told my friends, my family, random people I would wait on at work. You said two words to me and it was word vomit about all the craziness going on in Haiti.

Now, some days I forget I even went.

I know, terrible person over here. But seriously, how many people out there go on mission trips and sometimes forget to remember and tell people about what was there?

Some of the best conversations I have ever had with people back home started with me telling them about what is going on in Haiti. We can not forget to talk about it. We can not forget to pray about it. We can not forget to do something about it.

I wish I had the ability and the knowledge to go back and really give back something more life giving. There is only so much you can do in seven days.

Usually us Americans go somewhere and ultimately take. Haiti did more for me and my heart than I ever did for it. This is so backwards.

My fear is that the kids we spent all week with in the village see so many faces come and go and build houses and make promises of coming back and then never do. I want to go back just to say “I wasn’t kidding when I said I would come back and hug you and encourage you to keep working and learning and loving your country”.

I know God will provide for them. But as humans and as Americans the natural instinct of “I can do anything” creeps up and steals your mind away for a while in hopes of making your own plans.

Maybe some day God will present me with the opportunity to go back. But for now I still struggle.

Sovereign God,

Thy cause, not our own, engages our hearts,

And we appeal to thee with greatest freedom

To set up thy kingdom in every place where Satan reigns;

Glorify thyself and I shall rejoice,

For to bring honor to thy name is our sole desire

Lord, use us as thou wilt,

do with us what thou wilt;

but, O, prompt thy cause,

let thy kingdom come,

let thy blessed interest be advanced in this world!

O do thou bring great numbers to Jesus!

let us see that glorious day,

and give us to grasp for multitudes of souls;

let us be willing to die to that end;

and while we live let us labour for thee

to the utmost of our strength,

spending time profitably in this work

both in health and in weakness.

It is thy cause and kingdom I long for, not my own.

-The Valley of Vision

Music and Minnesota

Sadly the summer is coming to an end. Between summer school, interning at AFS, work, and having Joe home I have been going non-stop since we got home from New York.

In the busy-ness of summer I did get to do a few of those things that I’ve always wanted to do…but never thought I’d actually get to.

In the past two weeks I have actually crossed off two big things on my bucket list.

Number One: Lead a worship service by myself.

Yep I did that. I love my church and I love worshiping on Sundays with them but leading it all by yourself is a whole other monster. Usually I leave that to Michael and I just get to sing harmony or lead on an occasional song. It may seem like no big deal to some of ya’ll. I can tell you Joe is one of those. He kept telling me “You’ll be fine! You’ve been ready for this for a long time”. However, I do not agree. I had been playing my guitar everyday for close to two months in preparation for that day. It was so rewarding and definitely something I will continue to strive for but practice is what prepared me. Sometimes we just have to jump in full force and quit saying we want to do things or we hope to do this and just do it.

For those of you that know me, music is my passion and there is no greater feeling than playing music over people in the presence of God. I am blessed to have people like Joe, Michael, and Randy to push me to do the things I love even when I have a million other life things going on.

I lead worship, hands were raised, Jesus was praised and I would do it all over again any day. If anything the experience boosted my confidence. For those of you trying to do anything that seems a little out of reach and you think you aren’t prepared…you probably never will be. You have to run at it head on and not give up.

Number Two: I went to Minnesota!

Oh my how beautiful it is out there.

I unplugged from everything for a week and really tried to be present during this vacation with Joe and his family. I read a few books, got a really great tan, learned how to ski and enjoyed being far away from all the hustle of life. No plans was the best. My favorite part was watching the sun set every day. Killer view up there yeah?

Spending days on the lake with nothing better to do was more than this girl could ever ask for.

Hunter dog loved it too.

Some of the best pizza ever!

Fire, Smore’s, and Sunset. Yes please.

We went horseback riding too!

Another one of my favorite things was sailing. I don’t have any photos of us actually sailing but I love this one.

I’m looking forward to many more memories and summers spent at Ottertail. That will be our last visit for a few more years due to Germany but it was pretty great time.

Hello August

Hello August.

You are a funny month. Full of mixed emotions. You sneak in and take away summer. We look at you and think “Wow, summer is gone and over half my year is gone.” We find ourselves feeling like we have slacked off on everything we said we would do this year and start resenting all the time spent doing meaningless things. We feel a sense of extreme discontent with the passing seven months. School is about to start again. The ease of the summer and less busy times slips away and stress weighs down our minds as we realize there is so much left to do. Then justification sets in. “Well it’s been a busy year so far. There was this and that and…” After some more thought, Hope makes it’s way around. There are still months, weeks, days left in this year. So much can still be accomplished. If we just pull it together, we wont feel this again in four months. But then we look back at all that we have done and feel somewhat accomplished. Moving forward again. Anticipation of fall comes around and an excitement for warm colors and cooler weather creeps into our thoughts.

You are a funny month. Convicting and hopeful. Disappointing and inspiring. A catalyst for what’s to come.

Hello August. Glad you came around.

Hum your tune July and June

What a busy summer! Writing gets hard when life is so crazy but what’s new right?

Summer started off with a bang. Joe graduated from West Point! I think that was probably one of the proudest moments of my life. 

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I’ve been anticipating that hat toss for FOUR years!

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I’m so glad I got to be a part of all of Grad Week. I feel lucky to love Joe’s family.

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Graduation Banquet. The last West Point formal. I feel so so so lucky to have had so many opportunities to travel up there and be a part of the West Point traditions and making these great memories with Joe.

 

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Joe’s Grandfather commissioned him. I promise you…I was about to ball my eyes out. BUT then it started to rain!

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Then it quickly went away.

This was probably the best birthday yet.

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We spent the next day in New York City. Joe and I decided to check out Coney Island for the day.

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Now he is home and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Even with all my busy-ness it is so nice to be able to call him to come watch a movie or something. We are also knocking some things off my summer bucket list. Like watching the original Star Wars….yes…I have never really seen them. Don’t judge me.

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I am so proud of Joe and everything he has done. As hard as West Point was on our relationship, I would not trade it for anything. We are who we are because of our experiences and I can not wait to see what adventures will come from them.

I’m sad to be closing the West Point Chapter but looking forward to what is ahead. This next year will be wild.

A Month and a Half Later

Well I’m back!

I’m sure you are all thinking I failed my visual communications class because I didn’t do my entries for the visual journal thing BUT you are wrong! I actually was required to use Tumblr. However, I did move all the posts to my nifty little tab up there. So if you are interested in what I’ve been seeing and thinking take a look here!

In other news, life is crazy as usual. I made the decision to leave Pluckers after working for them for over two years. It was one of those decisions that I just knew one day was the right one. I’m now working full time at iPic Theaters and I LOVE IT! I love the management and the people I work with. I also love being around film all day and getting to see movies for free is a nice perk too 🙂

School has been so much better since I left Pluckers. More sleep + more study time = happier Whitney and happier grades.

I have a whole list of things I want to blog about but now that I’m all caught up with school hopefully I’ll actually start writing!

 

Yay for Summer! It’s right around the corner!