Summer came and went.

It’s 10:27 pm and I should be trying to sleep or at least reading because I’m supposed to have read three books this summer for AP English IV, and I’ve read one and haven’t even chosen a third and this is all due by next Friday; and sleeping because tomorrow is my boyfriend’s first day of school and he has to get up ridiculously early to attend with his mom the preparation of the senior breakfast/parade/thing. Lucky, we don’t get a parade.

I’ve totally abandoned this blog over the summer, which I sorely regret. There’ve been a lot of things worth documenting and I haven’t done any of it.

I left for Raleigh on the first of July, the day after the boyfriend’s family returned from the Bahamas. That wasn’t originally our choice date, by the way; that ended up happening because the prices were cheaper for airline tickets. We didn’t do a lot the first couple weeks; we played some games, watched some TV, wrestled around a bit and were lectured about college visits and thoughts and such things. Uncharacteristically of our summers, we did very little cooking or crafting. We did some, sure, but not a whole heck of a lot in comparison to the past couple summers.

So what did we do? We took an unofficial tour of North Carolina State University with the boyfriend’s eldest cousin and an official tour of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (not even close to each other in date), we swam quite a bit at the general pool and not much at all on the working-week-long beach trip, we stayed up late hours to discuss history and philosophy and several other things besides.

In the last week, I panicked and decided to make crazy quick craft progress. I made a yellow pig log pillow (it is the best thing ever, perhaps there will be a picture in a later post), a popsicle-shaped phone case (ditto on the picture), and a no-sew iron-on senior-themed canvas bag.

We had an airport fiasco in which my first of two flights was so heavily delayed (and confusedly so – first it was delayed, then on time, then early, then delayed again …) that I was sure to miss my connecting flight in Dulles, and so I stayed another night than originally planned and left much earlier in the morning than I’d have liked. The boyfriend and I were allowed to snuggle together (under different covers!!!) in the same bed that night, and it was the best sleep I had the whole summer.

That was on Thursday night and Friday morning. Now it’s Sunday night, the boyfriend starts school tomorrow and I on Thursday. We’ll be seniors in high school and we’re going to start looking at applying for colleges as soon as September starts. We’re looking to apply to all of our schools early so that we improve our chances of getting in.

It’s been a good couple of months … and of course, they felt too short. But believe it or not, I’m feeling pretty okay about it. Confident, I might even say.

 

… Of course, it remains to be seen how long this feeling will last. Good luck to all the other rising seniors out there, and to all the other high school students and college freshmen too.

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Wrapping up the school year.

What a wild ride it’s been this year.

Last year, my guidance counselor told us that junior year was the most important. That’s when, colleges say, you are at your most mature – you are aware of the way high school works and how to act and that you need to be working and not slacking, and you’re not tainted by senioritis yet, et cetera. They get a feel for you.

This year sums me up pretty well, I think. I took Creative Writing, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life, and had three (so far) opportunities to share my writing in front of an audience. I skipped out on history, which was nice. I ran my best mile of my high school career (and can’t we just skip out on gym next year, too?) and I participated in the school newspaper for the entire year. Today, in fact, I earned a promotion for the newspaper for next year, a title I’m ecstatic to have. I also took Sociology this year, which was a fun and interesting course.

I took the AP Psychology and English Language & Composition exams in May, and I felt pretty confident in both of them. I liked all the essays I wrote for English and I very much felt the benefits from all the studying I did for Psychology, which was rewarding.

On the other hand, I’ve had a bit of a battle with depression and anxiety and an (squeamish men skip over the next few words) ovarian cyst, which was really shitty to deal with but eventually went away on its own. Anxiety used to only occur during air-travel time, but it’s been getting worse the past year – although not really bad enough that it deserves treatment, only that it’s been more noticeable that I have such a problem. (Also, if you’d like to read a poem I wrote about airline anxiety, click here!)  Depression has … fluctuated. Nothing unmanageable, though.

I’ve been thinking about colleges, too – and while I was looking at prestigious schools like RIT and USC for awhile, I’ve come to the basic conclusion that there are two places that are good at computer science where I would be happy: University of Texas at Austin and North Carolina State University. Texas, of course, will be my priority; but it would be nice to be in North Carolina for awhile, too.

Speaking of college, another noteworthy thing is that I’ve asked for my letters of recommendation … I have requested three and I might still need another one, because certain computer science things require one from a math or science teacher; which, of course, usually don’t hold me in the highest favors. Darn! The three I’ve asked for are from my AP English Language & Composition teacher, my Creative Writing teacher, and a teacher I had freshman and sophomore year, first for World History and then for Geography & Culture of Latin America and Africa.

Which brings me to – because of my request for letters of recommendation (which according to the schools I want to attend, I might not even need … sigh), I wrote my first resume. It looks pretty awesome, but it’s also fairly brief. It includes the Skyrim mod I made, plus how I taught myself HTML via W3 schools … and a bunch of other odd things.

The summer is quickly approaching, and so are my plans for it. I’m leaving for North Carolina on July 1st and I am counting down the days and making lists of things I want to do. Swim and cook and bake and play games and a million more. As for now, though, I’m  worn out. I apologize for the lack of writing lately and sincerely hope to write more in the summer, just as I did with the birth of this blog.

In A Perfect World

I’d have parents who planned me, who today cared about my ambitions and my activities and the things I do.

I’d have a dad who today, despite the mileage, would make an effort to talk to me; who today, despite the political opinion disparity, discussed something else with me; who wasn’t a lazy fuck and who would want to spend time with me, instead of claiming to want to see me and to play single-player games the entire visit and claim to get their feelings hurt when I want to hang out with Grandma instead.

I’d have a mom who could put away her temporary boyfriend to see the value not only in me but in herself; who could differentiate the person who made her mad and me, and subsequently correctly channel those otherwise normal and natural feelings; who could have a similar temperament day-to-day, and not scare me into walking on glass each day and hoping for luck that I won’t upset her.

I’d be able to learn to drive and not pay $425, while my boyfriend got driver’s ed for free; I’d be able to make friends and not feel alone in Connecticut; I’d be unafraid to talk to people, in groups or individuals; I’d be better at managing my time; I’d not feel like a waste of air for not being anywhere near as high up in the class as some of my peers who treat me horribly; I’d not feel ashamed to ask my mom for lunch money because of the mini financial crisis we’re having; I’d not have to push myself to run the mile every year of high school for gym and feel breathless (not in a good way); I’d be better at comprehending math; I wouldn’t compare myself to everyone and feel like shit all the time; et cetera.

Kingdom Hearts wouldn’t try to ship its game on nine different platforms; the roleplay on World of Warcraft wouldn’t be limited to veterans who have been doing it for 5-7 years and are completely decked out in awesome, and instead be less intimidating for newcomers; Facebook would pick a decent layout and STICK WITH IT ….

The lists could go on. What would your perfect world be like?

The AP Exam: English Language and Composition

So, after being sick last Thursday and Friday, and all weekend long… I returned to school today and had the chore of my AP English midterm. It consisted of two essays in an 84 minute period: an argumentative and a rhetorical analysis.

The thing with an AP class, especially with this one, is that there’s not a lot of STUFF to learn. You’re really just learning three separate skills. A rhetorical analysis essay prompt asks you to read a passage of writing and dissect it and look at what the author has DONE and why they did it, rather than the message of their words. This is most often (and most easily) done with a speech, but sometimes there’s other weird fictional pieces or memoirs in there. Odd stuff, really. An argumentative essay is really easy if you have any opinions at all: you’re given a controversial issue, and you must determine whether it is X or Y and justify your case with evidence. If you want any kind of a strong essay, you counter yourself and then explain why you’re still right. “Some people might THINK it’s X, but it’s really Y because …” et cetera. And finally, the synthesis essay is basically an argumentative essay on steroids with pre-given sources. You have seven or eight-ish sources, one or more of which is an image of one kind or another (usually useless graphs, in my opinion, that don’t contribute to the actual prompt’s purpose), and you utilize them to form an opinion about the issue.

That’s about it. This class teaches you those skills, and not really a whole lot else. Some vocabulary for rhetorical analyses, but if you’re good at dissection, you don’t really need to know what each tool is called if you can use it properly. (It helps, though. Like if you have an assistant to hand you your tools and would rather have your eyes on whatever you’re dissecting …. but this metaphor’s going too far.) The thing this creates is that this class, much more so than the AP Psychology* class I’m taking, is really a class for the exam. Some people debate the credibility of AP classes because it’s literally “teaching to the test” but the problem with this is that these are college courses that not everyone’s actually going to try in.

What I’m getting at is that AP English is a year-long course and if you keep on doing your work and actually exerting effort … there’s no way not to get upper-half grades on your essays. The problem that everyone faces is time. Time, time, time. There’s never enough time, really. And after I finished my midterm this morning, I sat around and watched as people were scurrying with messy handwriting (and thought about all the sample essays we’d read which I couldn’t read because of the dreadful handwriting) and I wondered why we couldn’t type them. The school can easily revoke Internet access to computers on its network. We are a techie generation, after all, and the future’s computers, regardless of what you’re going into. And the thing is, I don’t know how old y’all are (does anyone even really read this blog? If so, you must be irritated by my parenthetical overuse) or how much bearing that has, or how much or how often you write – but I revise in my head. I don’t plan when I write. I just write. That’s the only writing I can do and the only writing I’ve ever been able to do … and go ask my English teachers, they all think I roll out some pretty great stuff. So, right – the point is, everyone in this class probably has the skills that they need. But they can’t finish their essays because they’re stressed for time and their hands cramp up from handwriting and then they freak out because they don’t have enough time and whatever they’re able to scribble out before time’s up is illegible and THEN where are they?

Boy, I can get on a tangent, eh?

Mostly the reason I’m writing this is because I couldn’t find any good posts about it elsewhere. I think it’s an honest thought worth considering. Wouldn’t be too hard to pull off, I don’t think – a lot of classes take their exams in libraries anyway, where the computers are, at my school at least. Imagine those graders down in Kansas or wherever they are (does it change?) – how much easier would their lives be if they could just read a nice typed paper instead of deciphering the hundreds or maybe even thousand or so different handwritings they have to read?

Do discuss, I’m deeply interested in this possibility.

[[** So, our AP Psychology class. Psychology is a great class to take in high school as an elective because it’s interesting and you can and probably will (directly or indirectly) use it out of class. AP Psych is for those students who think they might wanna go beyond school and become a psychologist … or for those who’re really interested in it. The thing is that the class isn’t really hard. At all. The exam is a joke. We took our midterm back in December because Schleer’s a great teacher who wanted us to relax during our midterms week (as much as possible) and it’s so easy. He makes his tests much like the multiple choice on the midterm/exam, so nothing was really a surprise. And the essay questions…? Not hard at all. So the thing is that you can really use the class outside of class and if you’re any smart, well, that’s what you do.
Also, he acts like the class is so hard, but it’s not. He’s just addressing that so many people are lazy fucks who don’t do any school work. In AP Psych, you do indeed have to do the homework. But if you do, it really pays off.]]

Happy New Year 2013

So, we survived 2012.

2013 feels weird. I don’t know why yet. I don’t really have any resolutions, because I’ve been becoming a better person over the past year and I’m on a pretty positive path. I have some goals – find a select number of colleges that I wanna apply to and take the SAT twice or thrice, however many times it takes to acquire satisfactory grades – but all of these are months and months away.

I’ve done a little introspection though and decided that I need to focus more. I’m kind of scatterbrained. I create stress for myself over things that aren’t worth worrying about. I don’t relax enough. And Kenny and I seem to have these weird phases where we’re not close enough. I focus more on reading Facebook and catching up on people who matter very little than I focus on spending time with Kenny and hearing about his day and what he’s done, et cetera.

Spending Christmas with him and his family is really a wonderful experience. They’re so  familial and close-knit. Even with their house in semi-ruins (well. . .) they’ll still decorate. They’ll still get up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Christmas Day to open presents. The togetherness, even if patchy at times, is something so alien to me. And wonderful to be a part of, even for a little while.

This whole year though, I think, has just not been focused enough on what’s important. Not to say that years past (at least for me) ever were anything closer. I think my mom and I have grown a lot closer, even though there’ve certainly been bad patches. I still don’t like her boyfriend and I have my reasons, so I probably won’t, but that’s okay. I can be tolerant, which is all that really matters. I’ve been working on my homework and grades and stuff, but the indifference is creeping on me. Not because I don’t care, but because caring all the time is cumbersome. I don’t sleep enough. Like I said, I don’t give Kenny the attention he deserves. And the saddest part of this, though, is that I don’t really know why I’m acting weird about it. Why aren’t Mom and I getting along all the time? Why aren’t I just doing the homework and moving along? And most important to me, anyway – why am I not giving Kenny the attention and respect and love that he gives me effortlessly?

I don’t know … and that makes me sad. That’s my resolution, I guess. To focus more on what’s important.

Anyway, this is the reflective, philosophic post. Next up is the personal, materially Christmas-oriented post. 🙂

Thursday Thirteen: Things I’m Going to Do With My Kids.

1.) Go around the table at Thanksgiving and say what we’re thankful for.

When I was a kid, we did this every year almost. Since a few years ago I spend it with my mom – always, whether I live with her or not – and I love her but we don’t do this. I usually do it internally or talk about my boyfriend with it. Judging by the nature of this meme, I might blog about what I’m thankful for this year. 🙂

2.) Wake up early on Christmas morning. 

Seriously, how many of you have parents that wouldn’t wake up early on Christmas? I’m going to wake up earlier than they will and I’m going to make biscuits or cookies and hot chocolate. I’m gonna make the house smell like delight before they can feel it.

3.) Help them with homework and keep up with their schoolwork.

I’m a pretty sharp kid. Until high school, I never needed to study, and as such it’s something I had to transition myself into. With my kids, I’m going to keep up with all of their schoolwork and make sure they’re exerting themselves and not lazing away.

4.) Talk to them about their days at school and how they are doing.

I’m going to be interested in their lives. They’re not going to have boyfriends or girlfriends I don’t know about – not because they’ll get in trouble or whatever, but because I’ll be curious. I’ll want to know everything, inexhaustibly.

5.) Sit as a family together at dinnertime.

This doesn’t even have to be in a dining room with a big table in a circle while we all stare  at each other. We could watch a movie together at dinnertime for all I care. And it doesn’t have to be EVERY day – there can be exceptions. But I will want to ensure that I have a family … not a pack of people who sometimes see each other around the house but don’t interact.

6.) Get them involved in activities they’re interested in and encourage them to branch out.

Will they love to write? Join newspaper! Will they have natural leadership skills? Go for student council. Whatever they’re interested in, I’m gonna want them to go for it in life. You can’t sit back and expect things to fall in your lap – you have to go out and search for the life that you want and make it. So … start with extracurriculars.

7.) Give them advice when they want it and try not to pry when they don’t.

I never want my kids to feel like they can’t talk to me. I always want to be available when they want me and stay comfortably away when that’s what they want. When my kids grow up, I don’t want them to be itching to get away from their parents, but to be sad to go. I want to help them and teach them it’s okay to be curious, to ask questions.

8.) Be there for them always and let them know I’m available at all times. 

This is kind of the last one extended, but the point’s still as strong. I want my kids to really love their parents. I want them to know that we’ll care about them.

9.) Answer all of their questions.

I’ll not beat the curiosity out of them with impatience. If they ask something, I’ll do the best I can to answer it myself and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll look for it. I never want my kids to STOP questioning the world and the way it works. I want them to keep that innate curiosity we all once had as young children.

10.) Encourage questions and try to spark curiosity in other topics.

If they ask me why is the sky blue I’ll ask them other questions about space or the sky. I’ll make them interested in knowing things. I’ll make them PROUD to be intelligent, which is something my generation (young as it is) is already losing sight of.

11.) Read them bedtime stories. 

Self-explanatory. My favorite when I was a kid was Harold and the Purple Crayon.

12.) Let them decorate their bedrooms any way they want. 

Who wants a rocket ship bed, or a princess curtain? Who wants to paint their room their favorite color? Who wants a desk with a funky lamp? My kids will do this and more; whatever they want. Let their creativity flow.

13.) Take them to Disney.

When I was a little girl my dad promised he would take me to Disney World. He has yet to keep this promise. My mom works at ESPN, which is owned by Disney, and we get discounts and I still haven’t been able to go. This may be a little-known secret to some of you … but I LOVE Disney, and I will go. I will take my kids and we will get autograph books and every single character will sign. I will take them everywhere. I will drink Monster to keep up with them if I have to and we’ll explore everything.

This is a Thursday Thirteen I’ve wanted to do for awhile. I don’t even remember what sparked it, but it’s been sitting in my iPhone for approximately 160 days and therefore I decided it was time to write it. Here it is. I know it’s Wednesday… I’ll put the link up on T13 tomorrow. 🙂

I hope everyone’s doing well. I miss blogging but I usually have too much to say or not nearly enough to write, and for this I apologize. For those of you keeping track, I’m stressed. I am trying to finish two articles for my school’s newspaper and I’m worried that I will not finish them in time. I have two tests tomorrow that I’m actually not very nervous about except it’ll be a half day and we’ll have much less time than usual to take them. Hm … I’m pretty sure that’s about it. I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year but I’ll probably post about it the closer it gets. I may or may not take another complete hiatus from blogging in November, I guess we’ll see where it goes. 🙂

A Brightening Future

Let us hope that I can retain enough sensibility to write a full blog post on just how excellent I feel, because I honestly doubt it.

Part of this highly elated mood is due to Monster, which I will readily admit contributed but firmly deny whole responsibility.

Today is Columbus Day (which I could probably write a whole different post on and so is only being mentioned for the reasoning for my having-today-off-ness, nothing else) which means I’m home alone on a beautifully chilly October day. I woke up at 8 am to my mom leaving for work (lookin’ gawjus if I may say so myself) and spent about fifteen minutes on Facebook before deciding to Grow Up and do Important Things which meant doing AP English homework that I’ve been putting off all weekend because it’s an absolute drag and mental toll.

WHICH I DID! And then I needed a beverage so I made the split-second decision to get a  Monster instead of the usual Dr Pepper which, like I said, has been partially responsible for this great feeling. I finished the rest of my English homework (in case you’re curious: annotate a thirteen page article about plastic surgery [which I’d give the specifics for but have ALREADY MANAGED TO FORGET, sorry] and a packet detailing the Argumentative Essay for the AP exam] and then continued to some other homework I didn’t even remember that I had.

Between finishing English and discovering that I’d forgotten to do the self-timed 20 minute PSAT math section … I thought, Wow! This would be a great time to fill out that Job Shadow Request form my career counselor gave me like … what, two weeks ago. SO OF COURSE after I finished moar homework, this is exactly what I did.

Now … I’m not sure how much if at all I’ve discussed this on my blog. And if I have before it’s probably been about writing or psychology. The reason I’m not going into writing (despite it being a gigantic passion of mine) is because it is not a guaranteed career. You could be a great writer and not make any money or any sustainable money. So, taking that into consideration … it’s a negative. Psychology is still a viable and competing option … but, it’s more of an intense interest of mine than something I would (ideally, optimally) like to go into for a career. What I’d really like to be is a game developer.

Of course, this is a long shot. It is not likely. It would be GREAT. But it is not likely. So what I want to be is a software engineer. This means programming.

It’s a good thing that I have a thirst to learn because lemme tell you something right now. The only coding language I know anything at all of is HTML. I taught myself HTML with w3schools which is an absolutely excellent source … however, as the name suggests, it’s all about web development. WHICH IS GREAT, really. If you have a passion for it, GO INTO IT, because it is also lucrative as hell and it’s only becoming more and more popular.

But it’s important to mention that HTML is not exactly … programming. I mean, not in my opinion in how I view ‘programming.’ When you’re done you have a website which is absolutely a product and something to be proud of. But the difference (in my OWN PERSONAL OPINION … I hope I’m not wrong and don’t attract a crowd of angry web developers) is basically … an executable. When you program something it’s interactive and you run it and it does X Y and Z commands.

I keep feeling like I’m discrediting or down-talking the value of websites and web development which I’m NOT trying to do. How do you display your product or get someone to download it? Websites!

Okay. Have I made that clear? GOOD.

I’m so excited.

I live in CONNECTICUT which isn’t, as my dad puts it, “a hot bed for software development.” And he’s right. But that’s what’s so great about software engineers and  developers and the like – they are everywhere. Even if I job shadow a hundred (exaggeration) software engineers in Connecticut and I think they’re boring and what they do is boring boring boring and I’m discouraged …. guess what! In order to get to the tier that I’d like to get to, I’ll have to do boring things anyway. No way around it. That’s honestly probably true with ANY career. But the computer industry is only expanding, and that means job security is pretty high. Which means chances are good that in the future when I  graduate from college and have this extensive, expansive, eager-to-learn knowledge and mentality of all things COMPUTER …. I will get a job, and I will enjoy where I am indefinitely more than I enjoy Connecticut.

TOO LONG; DIDN’T READ: I’m sixteen years old and planning my future, and I couldn’t be happier with where I’m headed.