Hey Los Angeles: Thank You Again,

If the city is actually something in a person’s imagination, then what I see when I look into the face of Los Angeles today is something infinitely more golden, with lemonade spruced on top, percolating through winds from worlds away; even now at five years since JTLA first spawned onto the scene, on days like this I feel as much warmth past the throes of traffic and concrete making up the tiny corner I call home as I did five calendars ago.

While my eyes may perceive things in a slightly different light from how they saw things when the city first daintily glistened as I found myself amid L.A.’s voices, my memories now pick up where my vision might trail off.

I can still remember just returning to Los Angeles, when all I could hope for was finding a way to serve the world that raised me here with everything that I could muster. Eventually, serving became a matter of inspiring others to imagine a place for themselves in the big city’s future, too. From the trails of inspiration I’d eventually wander into tests of my resilience, or experiences which seemed to ask: How does one remain inspired while also remaining resilient?

Over time, I’d find that the balance between being inspired and being resilient is probably about as constant as the balance between the moon and skylight above my brows; every time I look up at the two again, both are just a little different as they take turns filling the abyss.

But if I’m still moving like the clouds above while I stretch my arms across savory grass below, I find my thoughts churning at a speed parallel to that of the clouds’ movement, as I muse at how I just may actually be right in the middle of the universe, at the center of my existence, somehow free or just right up against freedom–perhaps the closest I’ll ever be–when I face the city with warmth emanating from my inner-most being.

This is probably the city’s greatest gift to me: it’s brought me closer not just to others, but to myself. Amid the amalgamation of passersby searching through the shadows in Los Angeles’s abandonment, I find light in a stasis, or from a place where conscience thinks again before marveling at the elements defying odds all around it; if for the slightest difference, none of it–none of this–could be, so I can only conclude more resoundingly then:

Even after all this time, Los Angeles is still one of the greatest cities in the world; as the feats of so many citygoers continue dancing in its iridescence, I’m grateful to stretch my legs back into this existence again, too, to know I’m not alone in it, and to imagine still more possibilities as everything meets its counterpart, its opposite, and yet newer gravity unearthing potential for infinitely more together.

J.T.

Advertisements

Happy Blogaversary: Jimbo Times

JMBTMS_JRG

There are birthdays, and then there are blog-days. Today is the latter for yours truly, as JIMBO TIMES: The L.A. Storyteller completes its fifth year in publication.

On this special day, I could think of few activities more fitting than sitting down to write just a snippet about L.A. for the purpose of bolstering the workshop experience for guests at our free and open day of art, workshops, and engagement with the vecindad.

See the following note for BTS 2’s workshop facilitators, because how can a workshop facilitator deliver a great experience for their workshop participants, if they don’t pause to consider a few key details about those participants before workshop begins?

“Consider a day in the life of Doña Maria and her two children in Los Angeles. By 7:30 AM on Monday morning, Doña Maria serves breakfast for her two children, Carlos and Miguel. By 8 AM, she begins walking her kids to school. She first drops off Carlos (11 years old), the younger of the two brothers, at nearby Lockwood elementary, then Miguel (13 years old), the older of the two brothers, at King Middle School, which is nearly a mile away from home. By 9 am, Doña Maria returns home and prepares to head out to her neighbors’ apartment nearby, where she’ll look after their toddlers for four to five hours. By 2 pm, Doña Maria finishes her shift with the toddlers for the day, and prepares once again to pick up Carlos and Miguel from school. By 4 PM, she’s back home with her boys. She spends the rest of her day preparing dinner, cleaning up after the kids, and setting up for Tuesday morning. Considering Doña Maria’s schedule, at which point in the day might she and her kids be able to access your program or resources?”

These are the questions we have to ask if we’re to deliver critical experiences to our special audiences. The party begins now. Happy Blogaversary, JIMBO TIMES!

J.T.

Okay, Let’s Review this Summer 2019

JMBTMS_WillyW055
Mid-City’s very own Willy West sporting the SkyBlue Los Cuentos; Summer 2019

For summer break this year, we created a list of goals for how to beat Summer 2019. We did this because it’s long been known by educators and other professionals that when summer hits cities like Los Angeles, it can be a challenging time for young people and their families in particular; summer’s heat-laden days and nights without any school in between breaks many of our rhythms, and can lead to issues at home if we lack the best guidance over how to fill the sudden free time. So, The L.A. Storyteller got active with a series of blogs for youth that anyone could do at home with a simple WiFi connection and a dab of motivation:

We called our list of tips How to Beat Summer 2019, Parts I, II, and III, and even threw in a FREE Black & White Los Cuentos Hoodie for students who wanted to go the extra mile with our tips, which ranged from reading & writing activities to exercise, and more! We then followed this list with 10 WAYS NOT TO BEAT Summer 2019, ’cause we know how much kids love to be told what not to do. And also how often it works. Right?!

Following this, we introduced students to our very own outline process for our blog’s schedule with How To Outline Your Summer 2019, in order for youth to try their own hands at planning the days and weeks’ activities. For the more adventurous, outdoorsy young people, we published Secret Agent: How to Discover Your Neighborhood in Los Angeles, which details how to use L.A.’s more popular destinations to think about planning the future of our own sides of the town.

This felt like enough tips for a while then, but suddenly from out of nowhere came the barrage of fireworks leading to the 4th of July. To let students know in case they weren’t having the best 4th of ’em all–that it would still be okay–we published 5 Tips for When 4th of July Sucks.

Then, because I knew that some students still hadn’t put down their Fornite to read about everything else they could do, I published three more blogs to close out the writing series. These blogs featured tips that I felt youth especially needed to read about regardless of what they were doing this summer, including tips on how to get along with the family, how to “stay” friends with the squad, and even how to best deal with relationships.

This made for a total of ten blogs all for young readers this Summer 2019, after which the season would never again slow down for yours truly. This was due to another adventure, which was also one of the challenges on our list I suggested that students try out for themselves: the creation of a podcast. In our first ever podcast together, known as J.T. The L.A. Storyteller Podcast, my friend Ed and I published two episodes to start off a series centered on yet another special project for us, which the whole world and their mom now knows is BTS 2.

Things to do would pick up thunderously with this special day, and in a flicker of time, it’s now been over two months since we first set our sights on making Summer 2019 something special; the event is now just a single week away!

I’m hopeful that by sharing about all these different projects and things to do, a handful of students and families out there learned about different creative strategies for the season that they may have missed otherwise. But I also know that no matter how much I might write, the summer for some students can still be filled with so much going on that even if they really meant to read our blogs, it was still one of those things they just couldn’t get to.

Indeed, it’s like this for many Youngs during the school-year as well, but as I like to tell these and other students during the busy and fast-paced school-year: it’s alright, because of course there’s still the next season to tackle, during which we can try everything we missed before and even more.

In fact, that’s what our 2nd Annual Back to School Party is all about: a culmination of all of our creative efforts this summer as much as it is an invitation to young people and their families to celebrate the possibilities with us. Because no matter how far a person might go or how much time they put in to create something new, there’s still always more to do.

So come on Los Angeles! Go and get your raffle tickets for Back 2 School 2! You and your fams may just be the biggest winners of them all.

J.T.

5 NOs to Remember with Your Fam this Summer

JMBTMS_SALV_1110
J.T.’s Great Tio on Grandpa’s side; San Jose Guayabal, El Salvador, 2018

1. No, They’re Not (Always) Trying to Make Life More Miserable. Think about it this way: with everything going on at school before summer break, it’s likely that you didn’t quite have a plan about how to get through summer break. The same is true for many parents and/or siblings. So all of a sudden, you’re all ‘cooped up’ at home again, and there will be challenges. Sooner or later, someone’s emotions are gonna get high, and then, let’s be honest: someone’s gonna make a mistake. Trips will get canceled. Stuff will get lost, and other things will go wrong, too. But it won’t be just because your family’s (always) out to make life more difficult for you. It’ll be ’cause all the ‘free’ time during summer in Los Angeles can be a burden for a lot of us to get through without fail. Accept it!

2. No, They’re Not the Worst Family in the World. Let’s face it: even if you know it’s not all their fault, there will still be times during summer when it’ll feel like your family just doesn’t get you. And since you’ll still have to live with them even though you’re from two different planets, it’s gonna feel like you’re just stuck with them. But here’s a secret: the differences you have with your family, if you can see them for more than just what makes you opposed to them, can be the things where you learn the most from. Even more than what you learn at school! But it sure doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to settle the differences with your counterparts.

3. No, They Can’t Just Leave You Alone Every time You Want. Here’s a fact: your privacy is a key part of what makes you the unique person that you are. But now here’s another fact: when you live with others, there are going to be times when your privacy will simply not be possible. You’re going to have to learn how to share. I remember when mom would cook lunch for my brother and I, and how I’d be so selfish. I wanted the table all to myself. Or, if I had to share, I wanted the best seat. Little did I know then that getting just my way every time I wanted it would simply make life less interesting. Eventually, I’d not only get better at sharing the table with my brother thanks to learning with him, but I’d also get better at sharing with others in general. And now I love sitting down to eat with my bro whenever we get the chance. (Love you W!)

4. No, They Don’t Just Want to Take All Your Stuff to Leave You with Nothing. Now here’s one that makes enough sense, but which is hard to remember: sometimes you lose things to find other things that you need. Wanna know how I know? Occasionally, when not heeding guidance like the one in this post, I’d get the Xbox taken away for misbehaving, or I’d lose all my TV privileges. At first, I had no idea what I’d do without my electronics. But then, I got creative. And eventually, I got to writing. This would one day turn into JIMBO TIMES: The L.A. Storyteller. Now, you and I both know we can’t get enough of this blog!

5. No, Things Won’t Always be This Way. Although you might not believe it, the fact is that you will not have your family right next to you all the time. Slowly but surely, you will meet other people, and you will find other things to do besides being with them every day of the season. Then, one sunny morning day, you’ll not only be able to find your own way, but you’ll have to.

This brings up one key question for me to ask all the Youngs out there. If you could find the best possible scenario for you to ‘leave’ your family with before setting out on your own life, what would that scenario look like? What would you want for your ma’ or your pa’? And/or what would you want to ‘give’ to your siblings before you could no longer ‘give’ them anything else? If you’re up for the challenge, answer these questions with no less than 300 words, then send it over to yours truly for review. If you think you can do it, then GO! The future is counting on you!

J.T.