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.

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.

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.]]

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.

Direction

Two things on the blogging agenda today.

  1. Addressing my feelings on growing up, maturity, and getting a sense of direction.
  2. An apology for my lack of ability to blog without having a vacation.

Being on vacation gives me a lot of thinking time since I’m not as well disciplined as I’d like to be and complete my work. Adding to that new-found thinking time is the fact that I have a real hard time getting to sleep. But my inactivity is not a topic of discussion today … so let’s get to the meat and potatoes.

Over the past few months, I’ve been heading in a very positive direction with my life. I’ve been getting all of my homework completed on time (mind you, this is during school and not over vacation time) and been raising my grades steadily. I’ve been working in the library during my study halls and have over 30 volunteer hours. If I get to 50 hours by the end of the year, it’s a half credit I’ve earned. Furthermore, over the summer, I plan to take a college course version of Algebra II so that when I return in August/September of 2012 for junior year I’ll be taking Pre-Calculus alongside my boyfriend – as I was meant to. (Because of my move in February of 2010, my Algebra I course during 8th grade was disturbed greatly and I had to retake it freshman year instead of progressing to geometry.) Additionally, I’m taking two AP classes next year. One is in English and the other is Psychology.

In other words, I’ve gone from a freshman who barely does any homework and spends all her time playing games, reading things on the Internet or watching television to a sophomore who’s planning for college a year early and investing almost all of her time into work and planning and work and planning. It’s happened subtly but feels like a huge change – a huge improvement, for me.

Already, I have two careers I plan on going into. Psychology and Game Design are my interests. Since I work in the library voluntarily during my study halls I’ve been using them for reading books about my interests and it’s been a really fun experience, but at the same time it makes me question myself. Many of the best people in the video game industry have been in the industry since it originated in the 1980s or shortly thereafter. Nearly all of them made games of some sort when they were younger.

It’s pretty much now or never, I feel. Did any of you get enlisted in things when you were younger – piano lessons, ballet, sports of some kind or another – and resent the hell outta your parents for it? Do you ever appreciate it later on? What if you are on your own for taking initiative for these things?

And it’s not so easy as piano lessons or taking ballet. Where does someone go for education on video games? I’ve scoured the Internet for some internships or part-time jobs but I haven’t found anything in Connecticut – and everything I HAVE found requests “prior experience.” How do you go about getting experience from something if you have nobody to teach you?! Where do you even begin?

All of that said – I feel comfortable just knowing that I have direction. That I know what I want to go into ideally and that my two biggest focuses may even integrate. I already have two colleges picked out that I especially wanna go to and am incredibly excited for the future.

I think the problem a lot of kids have is uncertainty. They don’t know what they want to do, what they might be good at, and because of it they act like they don’t care. It’s not necessarily that they don’t care but that they have no idea what they’re doing and don’t want to fail, don’t want to face themselves with their own rejection.

That is to say, SOME people face that kind of a problem. The majority of kids in my school just honestly don’t care. They skip class, start trouble for no reason. The kids that I described above are hard to differentiate because they hang out with the stupid kids, the kids that purposely create trouble and get suspended and act stupid in class, but they aren’t themselves very dumb. They actually do show some effort, though often minimal.

But now my topic’s gone completely off the blogosphere.

So my other thing was my inability to blog, which I kind-of sort-of explained already above.

Basically, with these positive differences, a lot of my time has been gnawed at by homework, reading about possible professions, research for projects and spending time with my boyfriend and mother. My mom and I have gone through some tough times lately, but at the same time I think they’ve brought us closer together and I am grateful for that positive effect.

So that’s the summary of it, really. Busy times. The seasons are changing. Spring is coming … sort of. ‘Spring’ in Connecticut is some freaky hybrid of winter and summer instead of being its independent season; days up to 90 degrees, nights down to 30. It’s so odd. But lots of running back and forth and homework and writing and doing all sorts of things.

Can’t make any promises about the frequency I write with, because things have just been so irregular lately. But luckily, because I’m so on track of things lately, I expect it to become easier. We’ll see once school starts again. 🙂 See you all another day.

The Present and The Future

If you’ve been reading previously, the problems of the previous post have been resolved. Again, I find it unethical to reveal any details besides that.

As a sophomore in high school I’ve completed the PSAT earlier this year and got my scores back recently via email and have been using this fantastic website, College Board. It’s quite the impressive website with several sources for colleges and SAT planning, etc.

I don’t have a lot to write about today, but I did feel the need to stop by and write a bit. So my life is pretty boring right now. Focusing on schoolwork and midterms.

I’m also really excited about college and have thus been planning for extracurriculars to take up and maintain. So far I think I’m going to be permanently be joining Book Club and I might join the school newspaper too.

More to come later this weekend. Happy Friday everybody!