30 April 2011
The plan today was to study. That didn't work.
So I logged onto my email and I saw an article (you know me and my articles!) about things that can put us in a bad mood. I fall victim to these things, because sometimes I will be happy and all of a sudden a small thing will ruin it. So here are some things to help keep you - and me - happy and resilient.
First, sleeping with the lights on or the TV on can put a damper on your mood. Why? Here's the anatomy logic: melatonin is a hormone that helps you sleep. But it can't be produced with light on. So it never gets produced, and you never get sleep. And that's why you are grumpy the next day.
Second: someone else puts a damper on your day. This happens to me all the time. I will be really happy about a test score, or something from swim practice, or even just in a happy mood and someone else will complain about how miserable life is and ruin my happiness. Just remember to avoid people like that, and remember that you didn't cause it, so don't feel bad about it.
Third: the antics of children, spouses, in-laws, parents, aunts, uncles . . . The things they do that drive us nuts will wreck our good moods. How can we avoid it? We can't. Family is always there, so we have to confront the troubles. If we talk to our family about why they bother us, we can sympathize with each other.
Another not-surprising one: weight. Everyone gets down on themselves about weight. The ironic thing is, if yo are stressed about your weight, or really anything, more fat is stored in your body. This is because your body cannot break food down when it is stressed, so it is converted to glycogen (essentially, fat). Instead of stressing, try exercising. That will work a lot better than stressing.
Sometimes I wonder what happiness is. I know what happiness is not. And it's the things above. Think into the future and think about how these things we fret about now will not matter in 10 years, maybe even 5 years from now.
29 April 2011
Well, I decided that today I will look back and review my blogs instead of tomorrow, because it feels like the end of the month and I think April should be over by now. So here are your hand-picked posts of the month:
war of minds
I write two types of blog posts - the ridiculous, satirical, sometimes cynical and often comical, and the deep and meaningful ones. This one is the latter. It's important to remember what we're fighting for. Because sometimes it's worth it and sometimes it's not.
I had a lot of fun writing this post. It forced me to laugh at my predicament. And life is about facing the bumps with a smile, as Life is Good would say.
it takes all kinds
Another one of my historical reference posts. Sometimes we have to remember not the things we are most proud of, but the things we are least proud of.
A pivotal day in my mathematical career!
thank you, gatsby
This book really is great. Hence the "great" part in The Great Gatsby.
the big kahuna has come!
Well, you know the importance of this: the 100th! The centennial! The big kahuna! In fact, the actual big kahuna, the AP test, is coming on Friday. Madness.
spaghetti bolognese, frozen yogurt, and bowls of rice
I think a class should be required at school and it should be called The World: The Truth. It should be required. Not enough people care about the world as a whole. I asked someone if they ever wanted to do community service in another country and she said, "No, why would i want to help people I don't know?" I almost lost it. We have to help people because we are all people and we are helping humanity by helping others. And it feels good to help people because you have made someone happy. And that's where happiness comes from.
the sands are deeper than your troubles
Yet another historical blog from your very own me. This was about Normandy and the vile of sand from the beach in Normandy where my teacher went.
So that is the list. Have fun. Take care of yourself because you only get one you. Try something new. Help the world.
28 April 2011
Today was a day of angst. Angst after angst after angst. That was probably the best sentence with assonance, like, ever.
Let's start with math. That's where it all begins. So this girl was telling me about how her bus never showed up at her house so she had to walk to school and how her boyfriend was fighting with her. And then my math teacher was being ridiculous and doing things we didn't remember from first semester. And when someone asked for help, he walked away. If you have an explanation, I'd like to hear it.
Then I hoped to find solace in Lang, but instead we had to take a 54-question AP practice test - reading passages, questions, bubble sheets, the whole shebang.
Anatomy, I think. Something good must happen in anatomy. But no. I fell asleep studying last night for the quiz, which evidently ended horribly and I did horrible on the practical and had to listen to another girl complain about how awful her grade on the practical was - by the way, it was a 94.
It must get better, you say. Don't want to be the bearing of bad news, but it doesn't. In yearbook we had sub. He was wondering where the "yearbook leader" was. There is no yearbook leader, pal. It's our teacher. Who's not here. That's why you're here. So he's walking around going "I need to speak to the yearbook leader!"
This is where the day takes a turn for the worse. I went to math to retake my test. We had planned this on Tuesday, but we had to reschedule. So today during lunch and flex (study hall is what they call it now..flex sounds better) I went to take the test. I got to his room at 12:30. he wasn't there. No surprise. I waited for about 5 minutes then I paced the hall looking for him. I looked on his desk for the test and it wasn't there. I went to the bathroom to waste time. 12:45. I started history studying. 1:00. Still not there. I had been in there for a half hour and he never came. I was going to punch someone.
Then at 1:05 he strolled in and asked how long I had been in there. I said sarcastically, "Oh, only 30 minutes." And he said "Oh, good, not too long."
I wanted to throw my book at him.
I had less than 15 minutes to take a test.
But surprisingly, I finished it because I knew it so well after seeing my competent, thoughtful tutor.
After that, I was so emotionally drained that I wanted to vent to my friend but instead we had to write essays in French (timed writing, of course) and take a grammar test. Perfect. And no time to relax in history because I had to give a speech for 20 minutes about the modern feminist movement. Not only do I have to discuss abortion, but homosexuals. Not at all awkward teenage topics.
And after this I got to escape and relax at none other than the dentist. The bane of my existence. I was so distraught I didn't want to get out of the car. And since we were "late" we had to wait 30 minutes and I sat on the floor.
Then a bunch of entirely too joyful nurses came over and asked if they could look at my teeth. No, you can't see my teeth. I just came here so you couldn't look at my teeth. Why else would I go to the dentist? Please people, let's get some brains.
Another lady talked about how her friend is going to Brazil - I said I'm going to Costa Rica - and how she bought Rosetta Stone to learn Portuguese and how it won't match the colloquial Portuguese they speak there and how they deliver Subway to your door in Brazil. I just nodded, laughed, and smiled. That's all you can do.
Then we had to do 2 rounds of x-rays and later a pregnant dentist came over and looked at my teeth. Then she talked in this code that I tried to decipher that went something like this: A-12 right B-9 48 31 5 left 1mm bite DE 63 seal--
But I knew that "seal" meant "sealant" and I was absolutely not doing that. I love when they say "they look great!" when you know everything they said was bad. But worse was the next question.
Have you had your wisdom teeth out?
Those words were like dams stopped the blood flow to my heart. I flopped in the chair. "Um, no."
She had a somewhat worried look. I was about to barf. No way would I ever have teeth extracted from my head. Been there, done that - 8 times.
Then the happy pregnant dentist came out and handed us a sheet with "recommended courses of action" for me. First were the sealants - I was right - then was the dreaded "go see an oral surgeon to discuss wisdom teeth extraction". And as an aside, I might want to have gm surgery. You know, when I'm not abroad or doing summer reading or taking the SAT, subject tests, or the ACT. Because that sounds like fun.
Basically, none of the above are happening. Ever.
So that is the extent of the day. But then something great happened.
I let go and enjoyed myself.
It's actually kind of stupid but I was lying on the floor and I pretended I was swimming. And then my sister videoed it and I looked incredibly ridiculous but it was the most fun I had had all day.
Bad days are often remedied with comedy. So if you have one, watch a stupid video on YouTube. Or read a funny book. Or just act ridiculous.
Have fun. Life's short.
27 April 2011
What I like in Gatsby is the weather symbolism. It's simple, but it's really important and it's great imagery. Daisy comes to Nick house and it's raining, thus the encounter with Gatsby is horrible. But then the sun comes out and they are fawning over each other, completely infatuated and lovesick.
26 April 2011
On our left is a wall, a modest wall, made out of granite. In it are names. Thousands upon thousands of names. Each name reminding us of a loss that shouldn't have been. Some people walk quicker than others, some walk very slowly, reading each name carefully. Some hold back tears.
This is the memorial commemorating the lives lost in the Vietnam War, located in the nation's capital. Some say it is one of the most poignant wars our country has fought. Perhaps since this was not so long ago, and our wounds are still open; even a gentle breeze will agitate them.
Today in our history class this kid got up to present the question he researched. The subject was the Vietnam War.
It was somewhat of an opinion question, so I was curious to see what he would say.
He gave some background information, as one must, before continuing. But when he really caught my attention was when he started talking about the Tet Offensive. Tet is a very important Vietnamese holiday that celebrates the Vietnamese New Year. And on this day, the Viet Cong invaded South Vietnam and began guerrilla warfare.
Imagine if we were bombed on Christmas. Or Easter. When does war go to far? When do we draw the line? When does it stop being "effective", so to speak?
Another thing he said was that the Vietnam War was really a war on ideas. And you can't win in a war against ideas, he says. Because you can't change someone's mind by bombing their country and killing their civilians.
Did we think that we could get rid of Communism?
Try as we might, but we cannot persuade people of things that we know they truly believe in. In a microcosmic way, this works with people. That's why discussing really controversial things like the beginning of the universe, stem cell research, and anything to do with politics is just a bad idea because our arguments are futile. Avoid a conflict if you know you cannot win. And this is not being weak; this is smartly averting trouble.
We really can learn from history. But do we?
25 April 2011
The skies opened up.
And it rained.
We were in the last class of the day when the skies released their pent-up contents. Someone in my class was presenting his question, and there was a big boom of thunder. And I thought it was a bomb, which is completely illogical; but I completely thought it was a bomb. Or a missile. Some sort of self-destructive device. I really did; my first thought was, "oh, why did a bomb just go off?"
Back to the story.
So the kid continued with his speech, and I tried to pay attention. But then an even bigger "bomb" fell (so to speak) and this time it shook the classroom (we're in one of those portable trailer things). But he kept going, and the thunder got really intense. We actually screamed at one of them. But my teacher was so completely unaware it was a little frightening. He just kept on talking about the Vietnam War casualties and how they were climbing; but we were about to have 35 casualties as well if this storm didn't pass over.
It didn't pass over.
With a final clap of thunder, the floodgates opened. The sky poured out of itself and into our school's back "yard". The rain smashed the metal roof of our portable, and at this time my teacher turned on the air conditioning, which sounds like a rusted out combustion engine from the '50s. The poor kid was like yelling at us now - "and Lyndon B. Johnson's 'Great Society' policy also worked to help the poor people get an education!" Good times.
It was about 40 minutes before we had to leave. It would let up.
It didn't let up.
In fact, the most intense part of the storm was the end of class, when we had to walk outside to get back inside the building. It's not a good system.
Me and my friend opened the door - well actually the wind took the door from us and pulled us outside into it's monsoonish mess (I'm convinced that Georgia is like India - a dry season and a rainy season) - and we couldn't see past the stairs. The rain was flying in all directions, not straight down, so even staying on the paths under the roofs was a futile attempt to stay dry. We just had to go for it. And I was already annoyed that I was going to get soaking - literally drenched - in acid rain.
So she took off her shoes - they were good ones - and said "alright, let's go!" And we ran like convicts escaping from prison through the beating rain and down the huge path to the door. It totalled about 2 minutes, but we were soaked. There was no way to stay dry.
But we were laughing the whole time. So much in fact that I forgot I was getting wet and a slushy combination of red clay, water, dirt, and grass caked the bottom of my feet. We got inside and just laughed.
Why is it that ridiculous things that should make us mad can become sources of joy?
It's because sometimes we think we are too mature for ourselves. We forget that humans like to have fun and that sometimes we need to be shown that not everything goes right and it's ok. Like today - the rain showed us all that things can be inconvenient, annoying, and I'm-not-in-the-mood-ish, (and evidently sometimes wet), but we have to go with the flow (literally, don't try to go the opposite direction of the rain - you'll just get more wet) and laugh at yourself a little.
I named this post "banana pancakes" after one of my favorite Jack Johnson songs from one of my favorite Jack Johnson albums, In Between Dreams. The song is not only catchy and rhythmically sound (ha! get it - it was a pun too) but the lyrics remind you to have fun and let loose.
I looked online and found on one of my favorite websites - Yahoo! Answers - things that make people happy. Here are some of them:
comedy movies ~ spaghetti and meatballs (I can agree) ~ Christmas ~ listening to music ~ "watching trains go by" (?) ~ family ~ "being happy makes me happy" (isn't that great) ~ "nutella, crackers, and brie" ~ traveling ~ summertime ~ pets ~ doing creative things ~ ice cream ~ "my life and almost everything in it" (how passionately deep!) ~ singing birds ~ good weather ~ "a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows on a cold winter day, plus a cat in my lap" ~ helping other people (humanitarians unite!) ~ chocolate
A pretty decent list I would say. And aside from some fools who said "nothing makes me happy", everyone pretty much said music, family, ice cream (no other food in particular), friends, and having fun. Rarely did they say money or fame or fortune.
Which goes to show you that happy people are simply happy with simple things. Which in reality, are not so simple at all.
24 April 2011
What makes holidays great is that they are rich in tradition. Some traditions last through generations, and some are so infrequent we can hardly call them traditions.
When we moved here 6 years ago, everything changed. Every tradition we had in Massachusetts was gone. We had the memories, but we didn't continue with the traditions. I am rather sentimental, and so last summer when we didn't go where we always go for the Fourth of July, I was absolutely devastated. For 15 years I went there every year. But not last year.
We would always go over to my friend's house in MA before we went trick-or-treating on Halloween. Then we would all wait for our neighbors and we would go together. And every Christmas and Thanksgiving we would see all of our aunts and uncles and grandparents and sometimes cousins.
That summer in 2005 we came here and I spent my first birthday alone. Well, not alone, I still had my mom and dad and my brother and sister (and at the time, guinea pig). But I would always spend the day with my best friend who conveniently lived across the street.
Old traditions die hard, just like old habits. But we have to build up new traditions too. Like our new Halloween tradition is going to a Halloween party at the country club and going to a cul-de-sac party before we parade around asking for candy. And we have loads of new Christmas traditions. And for Easter, we go to the Easter Vigil and light the special candles.
And we can't forget the Peanuts specials that correspond with each holiday - today we just watched the Easter one - a pastime in the north and the south!
Keeping up with traditions is something that genuinely makes me happy - painting eggs, reading the Advent calendar, eating smores, watching fireworks, "the races" in MA (if you know what I mean, you know what I mean. If you don't you'll just live in ignorance.), Dunkin' Donuts on the 4th, Santa brunch - and it's important to remember them.
The things we do only once, we won't remember those. We remember the things that we loved to do so much that we made it a point to do it year after year.
23 April 2011
And today we went to the Easter Vigil, which is probably still going on now. It goes until 2am because half of it is in Spanish (they can't do two separate ones). We left after an hour and a half. But at least we got to stay for the best part.
My favorite part of this is the lighting of the candles. We each get a candle, even the little kids, and then after the priest brings us all outside, we gather around a big fire and he says a prayer. Then one person begins to light another person's candle and they turn to light those of people around them. And slowly the flames disperse and more and more candles get lit and the dark sky gets a little lighter. We are in the back, so the flames don't get to us for a while. But then we all go inside and hold our light candles. We hold them very still for a while before blowing them out all at once.
That's what I love about it - the candles are a wonderful tradition that bring us all together as parishioners, as Catholics, and as humans. We might have nothing in common with each other, but we are all the same in one way - we are all humans and we are all innately the same. In one way (like religion) or another.
22 April 2011
Today is also Earth Day, which is very important, evidently. And I'm proud to say that the US was the first country to institute a day dedicated to environmental awareness and preservation.
However, I am not proud to say that this nation has a history of longer than 300 years of slavery. And that just 50 years ago, in the lifetimes of some of the people I know, people killed and tortured other people because of their race. And the thing is, those who thought they were superior were actually the most ignorant of all. Who had told them they had the right to rule over all other people? Who even said they have the right to rule over animals and plants?
Today in history we watched a documentary called A Time for Justice. It was short, but it was poignant, direct, and bitterly honest. And graphic. It chronicled the violence in the Civil Rights Movement. Which seems ironic because we are told that African Americans led peaceful protests. And they did; they were not the ones causing violence.
It hurt me to see our country fall to this. It damages our pride to know that our country was once this cruel and caustic for no actual reason. The persecution of a race because they are different is never a reason to persecute. Is this really the United States? Our top-notch country could never do something like this. We are simply too good for that. But the truth is, we did do awful things. And we can't forget them.
I borrowed the title of my blog from Life is Good. And tonight, my school's Multicultural Club sponsored the yearly spring gala. They get local restaurants and students' families to bring all sorts of ethnic foods from all over the world - Europe, Asia, America, Latin America - and they have performers - professionals, students, and even teachers. This year, a kid in my grade played the bagpipes - wearing a kilt. One of my best friends played 3 songs on the piano. A girl from my math class sang a song in Spanish since she is from Latin America. A girl I knew in middle school did an Irish step dance. Two guys did a salsa dance too.
I have gone to the past ones because it is not only fun but it makes me very happy to know that everyone can get along and appreciate each other. I see all of my teachers there, my friends, and their families. And my friends are not just people who look like me - in fact, none of my friends look like me. I have friends from India, Canada, Colombia, Peru, Belgium, Africa, and I have met people from every corner of the world. Well, except Antarctica. Yet.
I wrote an essay in French one time - I never got it back though - and our prompt was about the worst thing plaguing the world today. Most people wrote about AIDS, drugs, violence, war, poverty, hunger (which as you know I support), and malaria. I wrote about ignorance, racism, and misunderstanding and that literally, if we could all feel empathy for each other, we could eventually create a society that is respectful of each other. Mutual understanding and acceptance is the key to happiness. This sounds a little idealistic rather than realistic. But why does realistic have to be something negative? Idealism is just an abstract, optimistic view of the realism of tomorrow.
21 April 2011
Remember a while ago when I said I was going to include Italian words in my posts? And then I never did? Well here are some more:
la spilla - a brooch
la folla - a crowd
il compagno - a schoolfriend (I don't know the difference between a schoolfriend and a friend)
l'uva - grapes
These words are not going to be a regular thing. Every once in a while. Like Fireside Chats. Now let's get to the good stuff.
So after school I always go on my afternoon duties - check email, Twitter, Show of Hands, Home Access (my grades), the works. So I checked on Show of Hands - remember, this is my poll app - and there was one that immediately caught my eye: The key to happiness: focus deeply on the one thing that's most important to you, or experience as many different things as possible? Th answer choices are "depth" or "breadth".
I was completely intrigued. What would America say?
The verdict: breadth. Only by a little. It was a 42-58 breakdown. Almost everywhere said "breadth" is more important, except for Oregon (remember, this is pronounced oar-ehh-GONE, not "organ" with a small slurred syllable in the middle), Idaho, Montana, Utah, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Florida, North Carolina, West Virginia, Vermont, and Rhode Island. Five states - all in the west or Midwest - were on the fence. Females believed breadth was more important than males did, although most males said breadth, and Democrats were much more passionate about breadth than were Republicans. Older people were more into the "breadth" thing, as were people who made less than $50,000 a year.
The rest of us said "breadth" (and actually, as I check it now, the poll has changed to only 6 states, including the "fencers", say "depth"). Why? This is because experiencing different things in life will make you more of a person. Sure, it's great to become an expert in Alexander the Great and know more than anyone else in the world - yes, in the world - on the subject, but when all you know is Alexander the Great and ancient Persia, what else do you have? That is why it is so important to learn as many things as you can and to broaden your horizons as much as you can. That's how you can become a dynamic character in your own story. Just ask America.
20 April 2011
In a continuation of my "We Wear the Mask" post, I thought I would touch on something less personal. I was reading an article about a $100,000 baby nursery (a celebrity one of course) and then I saw a link to something about celebrity post-baby bodies. And there are hundreds of comments on each one - as if people had anything better to do - criticizing and picking out imperfections. In fact, most of the time these people looked perfect.
Everything that celebrities say is quoted, analyzed, pondered, mused. Everything they say is counted against them. Nothing they have is their own because they only have their public self. They wear the mask every day. But the difference is they don't get to take it off. They wish they could, but they cannot. We will judge them too much if they "take it off".
We sometimes wish we could be celebrities - live in fancy houses, drive fancy cars, have millions of dollars - but the immaterial gift of privacy ultimately prevails. I can wear the mask - but I can also take it off. Freedom is not free, but thankfully I have the freedom to choose for myself.
19 April 2011
Which obviously will bring no joy to your day. I apologize.
That whole euphoria I experienced yesterday in math is no more. I only know how to do half of it. Actually only 40%. Because my teacher did not teach us how to do the other part. He thinks not teaching it to us will "challenge" us to do it on the homework. You're dreamin' pal.
This took up part of the night. I also have to study for an anatomy test and I have literally not even skimmed the whole chapter. Tomorrow will be D-Day part one. Part two? The following day when we get to grade our tests.
I was only not reading because in order to do well on his tests you must overcommit yourself to anatomy and pretend none of your other classes exist. That's how you can boast an A on your test. But then books don't get read, history is not covered, math is just, well, you know. And it is so time consuming outside of class. Making tests, reviewing for hours and days and weeks - for just one A. And it's barely an A. Just a 92.
So I decided if I was going to read Gatsby, I needed to read it. Which meant anatomy was not read. And here we are, test day, unprepared. Perfection. The test is in less than 12 hours and I am literally going to fail. Completely 100%.
Tonight I went to swim practice but my shoulder is in an excruciating amount of pain - Tylenol is not working - and so I couldn't swim, I had to kick. My coach knows I had a problem before and that I went to a physical therapist once a week for 2 hours for 5 months. But I got a lecture instead about how I should be doing my exercises and such. I thought that since I can't even lift my arm, exercises wouldn't be in the realm of possibilities. It hurts just thinking about it. It hurts not thinking about it. It hurts when I breathe, move, wink, type, write, you know, everything one must do on a daily basis. And now the pain is radiating to my neck, my chest, my back - soon my toes will be hurting.
I know that to you this sounds like a ranting tirade that you would much rather ignore. But really it is a lesson. Paul Lawrence Dunbar, a Harlem Renaissance poet, wrote a poem called "We Wear the Mask". It's obviously symbolism for the fact that African Americans would put on a symbolic mask to hide their true feelings. The idea is that in the modern world, no one really cares about your feelings and we don't want people to be sad. For instance, "Hi, how are you" really does not mean "Hi, how are you." It means something more like "I'm acknowledging your presence and after this moment I really don't want to talk to you." Something like that.
But we have to let out our feelings sometimes. We can't always wear the mask; we have to clean our faces of the feelings we are hiding behind the mask.
18 April 2011
17 April 2011
16 April 2011
15 April 2011
14 April 2011
13 April 2011
12 April 2011
11 April 2011
10 April 2011
09 April 2011
08 April 2011
Happy, well, today! I needed a great name for this event, but Big Kahuna was really the only one I came up with. Sorry for the lack of preparation. In fact, today is somewhat important. Today is the last day for the Federal government to come up with a budget or else the government shuts down. It's also the day we came home from our trip. It's also the first time we've ever taken a morning flight into the ATL. A day of firsts for all of us!
Now, where shall I begin? Well, I really don't know. It's going to be a rambling type of blog.
Well, I actually rather busy because after one returns from a long journey, one has things to do, like unpacking and sorting out the affairs one left behind when one fled the state. Or one (I'm going to do a little shift in persona and move it to me) - I - leaves her affairs lying all over the bed and neglects them. Hopefully the pile will shrink. Knowing me, it won't.
Today I also decided that I am not going to become a psychologist or any sort of doctor because I will become too attached to the emotional factors of the situation to make any sort of rational decision about anything. So I now know that I will never be: (a) a mathematician or anything of the sort, (b) a doctor, or (c) a mortician. That's nasty business.
Also we got to get our precious cat back from the vets. He was there all week and I missed that precious puppy all week! Sorry for saying "all week" twice. It sounded pretty stupid.
I also studied for the SATs for like the first time ever. I got a cool study app (boy does that sound ridiculously nerdy) that has FREE PRACTICE TESTS. For one of those study crazy AP addicts like me, that's like a lottery win. I did a lot worse than I thought I would but I'll get better. At least I'm a pretty well rounded type so hopefully that's what Georgetown will see.
So you see, really my day was not very exciting. Yet it was the infamous 100th consecutive post. But...
there's always a "but".
... you don't have to wait for big occasions to make something happen. Some of the best times I've ever had were on random days whose dates I can't remember. It's like a prom (not that I would know about such things as prom). People expect so much of it, and sometimes they're disappointed. When a dinner at some place like Bertucci's with some cousins or friends could be so much better.
So the moral of the most grandiose of these posts (thus far) is don't wait for a big moment to make something happen; if you make something happen, you can make your own big moment.