30 April 2011

the guide to unhappiness

Today was a wonderful day! We went shopping, out to lunch, and I even got a book about gnomes! What could be better?
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

the review - in advance!

Sometimes I wonder what will happen when my blog ends. Will I miss it? Will I create another blog when this one has finished? Sometimes I wonder if my blog will turn into a book someday. I wonder if I will include every single post in it.
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.

banana pancakes
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.

the epiphany
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

late math teachers, surprise tests, and wisdom teeth (which will remain in my mouth)

Prepare yourself for a rant.
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

you can't stop the beat

My new favorite book is The Great Gatsby. I like books with ridiculous amounts of symbolism where not many things actually happen. Examples include Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Namesake, The Awakening. You probably recognize most of them because they are classics and we have to read them for school. All I ever read is assigned reading from AP Lang, articles from NPR and The New York Times, and various vignettes in my anatomy book, from the pathway of food through the colon to urine formation.
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.

Speaking of weather, at the moment Alabama is under a "severe weather" warning. There's a big storm coming, and since I happen to dwell geographically close to Alabama, we are hit with this orage also. We had a bad one the other day, as you might remember from my banana pancakes post. If not, go read it.

I believe that weather is completely based on our emotions. If we are elated, it's sunny. If we are sad, it's raining. Or, if this little proposition doesn't work, I have another explanation. If we are sad, angry, etc., sunny weather will remind us to appreciate the short life we have. We aren't here for long - when should we spend it sad?

And this is why we have storms: we always get too caught up in our lives to remember what really matters. We live in our microcosms and we forget about everything that is going on in the world, like a war, the dilapidation of a country, a group of countries undergoing revolutions, and the "background" - world hunger, poverty, gender discrimination, abysmal economies. How much do you pay attention to world affairs? Other than the CNN updates I get on my iPad, I don't. We are too consumed with our own lives.

So how do storms help? Don't they just destruct things? That is entirely the point.

We are all humans, right? And basically we are all different. In every single possible way. Even identical twins are different. We are entirely different from one another. But one thing that we can't change is death - it's inevitable - and nature. Nature is the most powerful physical force in the world, and storms are something we can't manipulate. The farthest we have every come in meteorology is being able to tell what the weather will be tomorrow, and the next day. In every other science we have learned how to manipulate the physical world - even in space - and use it to our advantage. I just recently read an article about how scientists are creating rain in the desert. Even this isn't too crazy, but when we think about it, it is as revolutionary as the printing press was of the fifteenth century.

We don't like to think of ourselves as primitive. We just don't.

But we have not learned how to manipulate the weather because it is to strong for us and we can't outsmart it. Japan, for example. We can provide reports upon reports of data on seismic waves and scientific explanations about how and why it happened. But we can't stop it.

I mean, if we could control the weather, then Japan would not be in the news as much as it is now.

The weather, especially storms, remind us that we are all humans and we are not invincible. They bring us down to earth and keep us grounded. Or, in the case of tornadoes, they don't.

I hope we never have the capability to control the weather. Because what will become of us then? When we have defeated our planet?

Take storms for what they are. They're here to help us, whether or not you want to believe it.

26 April 2011

war of minds

As soon as the sidewalk divided and turned into evenly laid mahogany-colored brick, not a voice was to be heard. Only the slow tapping of shoes on the cold stone.
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

banana pancakes

Today, it rained.
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

it's the easter beagle, charlie brown!

Happy Easter! I hope that you had a wonderful and restful day celebrating the most important Christian holiday.
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

light a little candle, say a prayer

It seems like the 100th post was so long ago, but really it was only 2 weeks ago. But today is another important day, well at least for Christians - Holy Saturday.
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

it takes all kinds

First of all, it's Friday! But not just Average Friday or Mediocre Friday..it's Good Friday! The best Friday of them all because that means it's Easter Eve Eve which is close to one of my favorite holidays..and it's not Christmas!
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

happiness by the numbers

Hello there.
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

me time

Hello, readers. I have recovered from my fit. I feel much better and I hope that tonight won't be like last night - I was studying for anatomy and then I fell over and was too tired to get up so I fell asleep and when I woke up it was 4am and I went to my bed. Great story.
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

we wear the mask

I'm going to be honest. I am writing to you in the middle of a homework meltdown.
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

the epiphany

Brace yourself. Prepare for your mind to be blown. Today is another one of those days. One of those "Aha!" days. Actually it wasn't that spontaneous. It was a gradual coming-to-terms sort of thing. So we all know I'm never going to major in math or become a mathematician. We actually know that math has never been my friend. But since I need to do well, I am seeing a math tutor at a great little place that specializes in math. I go a couple times a week. We work on algebra and other things and homework from class. I wouldn't call it fun, but it's not as bad as I imagined it would be. I never feel frustrated there. So this morning I woke up an hour later than usual, giving me 25 minutes before school started. I would obviously be late. And then my cat decided to jump into the sink and eat the syrup from my sister's waffles and he got it all over himself and the floor. So we had to give him a bath before school. And this made me even more late. So when I got to class, we were just starting this thing on an LCD projector. It was this 3-dimensional graph thing that had an x-axis, a y-axis, and a z-axis. What's a z-axis? Where did this absurdness come from? So my teacher said that instead of ordered pairs, there are ordered triples, like instead of (0,5) it would be something like (0,5,8). I know. Mind blown. So then comes the actual graphing procedure. We plot the points and then we draw the box. Can I elaborate? No. That's because that is all we were told. "How do we know where to draw the box?" The answer: you just draw it. Now isn't that a great answer. We all looked at each other with the same utterly perplexed expression which said "what is he doing" and "I give up" all in one look. We all just decided this was ridiculous and with that, the bell rang and we left. A very efficient class, I must say. So today I went to see my math tutor. I told him that we were doing 3D graphing with a z-axis and he looked at the sheet and gave me some examples. We had to start at rock bottom, since that's where my teacher left off. I completely didn't get this. What is this for? When do we use this? What's the point? What does all this mean? I always need to know why and what I am doing in math. I won't do it if I am just mindlessly calculating; I need to know that I am doing something that is real, and I need to know what it is. And my class does none of that. So I talked to my tutor and he gave me an example: (5,7,8). I used a sheet of blank graphs - the only tangible evidence that we do work in that class - and I plotted the points. "Then what." He looked at me. "Graph it." "I don't know how. He didn't teach us how." With that, the lesson began. He told me to use a ruler and draw two lines through each point - one parallel to each axis that it is not plotted on. Then a box shape will appear. At first I didn't see it. Then he showed me it will look like a box and another behind it, like 2 trees in a picture. So I drew out what it was supposed to look like, and I only knew this because of perspective I learned in art. Then I saw the base of the box. I plotted the other points that formed the box, and I drew more lines. And the points all fell where 2 lines intersected, so each box would be perfectly straight. In class we never learned that. We just drew random boxes and hoped they were right. They never were. My teacher's weren't even right. I felt so accomplished when we finished the first one that I wanted to try one by myself. (1,7,9). I got a little discouraged at first because I didn't see the box. It was invisible. Then I imagined a box in my head, and started to draw what looked right. Then I saw the base of it and started drawing upward. I finally finished the box. But I was still missing something. I didn't know what x, y, and z actually did. What happened if y increased? z decreased? And with some thinking and trial and error I found out what each was and wrote it on the page: x is depth of the box, y is length/width of the box, and z is height. I asked him if my box was right and if what I wrote about the values was right. "Looks good to me." "Really?" "Yes." It was absolutely wonderful. I finally understood math. I actually produced something by myself that was math related and it was right. I discovered something that I never would have before. I found out that I never hated math, despite how natural "I hate math" sounded to me. I never hated it - I hated being chronically confused and perplexed by it. And it just so happens that was all the time. I really don't hate it. I don't love it, but I actually liked getting it right. So I did more of them and I kept getting them right. And nothing was more rewarding. After that we went to my new favorite place, Which Wich, for dinner and we all had delectable sandwiches and desserts. Then I came home and reveled in my success. I finally realized that math is something that I don't hate anymore. It's something I will always have trouble doing, like a dyslexic having trouble with reading and writing. But instead of seeing it as an insurmountable, terrorizing wave of doom, I see it more as a puzzle or a challenge, like a crossword puzzle or a circus trick. I have ranked in the top 10 in the country in a national French exam 2 years in a row. I've gotten all first places at a swim meet. I've gotten a 5 on an AP exam, and I have gotten an A on an anatomy test, the hardest of all science tests. But what I am most proud of is that today I have broken down the wall that separated me and math, and now we are getting along. Yes, happiness can even come from math.

17 April 2011

read articles to discover happiness

Happy people tend to live a long time, right? I have yet another example of someone who lived a simple life and a long one - the 114 year old man (actually, the world's oldest man - the world's oldest person was a woman of 122 years) whose tips I will share with you soon just recently passed away. However, he revealed in an interview some of the things he does that he believes helped him live such a long life. First, he said that it is important to "embrace change" because "every change is good." When we think about it at first, that sounds hard and ridiculous, but really it's true. Everything happens for a reason. And we can't stop it a lot of times, so we better just accept it. He also said service to others is great because "the more you do for others, the better shape you're in." And lastly he said that we all should work for as long as we can because "the money comes in handy" and because it keeps your mind awake and you don't lose your purpose. Staying busy is always the sign of a healthy person. Why would we want to live as long as we can? Because living is fun. And because life is a gift, and we want to get the most out of a gift. Also, this man lived to hear Civil War stories as a kid from someone who fought in it. He was a teenager in early modern America before the Great War. He was drafted to the war and he lived through the second war, the Civil Rights Movement, the decades to come, and today's day. He lived in a time when African Americans were not even considered citizens and he lived when an African American became president. He lived before the time of refrigerators and TVs and he lived to see the iPad, SmartPhones, and laptops. And that's cool. As an aside, I found a list of the most welcoming countries. Here they are, 1 being the top of the list: (1) Canada, (2) Bermuda, (3) South Africa, (4) the US, (5) Australia, (6) Spain, (7) France, (8) the UK, (9) Malaysia, and (10) Germany. I was surprised about number nine. So if you are considering moving to one of these countries, you're in luck!

16 April 2011

life really is good

Today when I was looking at books in my bookshelf I came across a book I bought at the Life is Good store in Atlanta. It has short little words of advice on how to be utterly happy your whole life through. Here are some of the best ones:

Not all who wander are lost.


Everything is a once in a lifetime experience.


Takers may eat well, but givers sleep well.


If you don't go, you don't see.


The best things in life are free.


Keep growing.


The pursuit is the reward.


Better to light one pumpkin than curse the darkness.


The work will teach you how to do it.


There are always flowers for those who want to see them.


Sometimes nothing is the right thing to do.


Laughter has no foreign accent.


The little things in life are the big things.

At the surface, these are just trite little phrases that everyone throws around at some point or another. But if you actually think about each one, they are completely true and yo think, "Why woulnd't everyine live like that?" I'm not going to "explain" these because I feel like they should speak for themselves. I hope Life is Good has showed you, like me, that, well - life is good.

15 April 2011

make it happen

Good evening. Actually, good morning - it's past midnight. I was watching Project Runway, and it can get pretty intense in the end. I was just thinking while I watched the show that everything is a chance to do something great. It just depends on what you do with that chance. You can either grab for the next rock, or fall off the cliff. Every morning that you wake up without any real worries allows you to do what you want. It's up to you to take advantage of every moment - even the ones when you are bored or unoccupied. Think of something you can be making better. Think of something you can start. Something you can think about and turn about in your mind. Boredom is a gift - it gives you time to think about things without being bombarded with outside influences. If you have a chance to impress someone - do it. If you are in Paris and you only have a week, see as much as you can see. If you only have 24 hours to live, live it up. Life is too short to think about analyzing your next move. Sometimes, you need to follow your intuition and go for it. Make it happen.

14 April 2011

thank you, gatsby

Since today was somewhat uneventful, I'm going to focus on a small lesson I learned from The Great Gatsby. It's on the first page of the book and it's a strong way to start out the book, I think. Here is the quote: In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." It's important that we remember this quote and its message. We are much more affluent than other people are. And we have to realize that we are. Sometimes we say "we are a very affluent nation/state/town [whatever you say]". But we don't really realize what those words mean. It's like the difference between hearing something and listening to it. I can hear people talk; it sounds like multiple tones of sound that sometimes pause. But listening to someone is much different. The same is true with reading and processing. I guess since we all live in places where for the most part everyone has a car, a house, a fridge, a TV, a job/school, clothes, food and water, we don't even think that somewhere in the world someone doesn't. Think smaller. Think your group of friends, or your family, or your job. There's usually some pretty average people, some absolutely over-the-top overachiever perfect people, some slackers, some annoying people, some incompetent people, and some who put us all to shame with their prize-winning skills. There's almost always someone we envy, for whatever reason. But the thing is, we might only know one half of the story. For instance, in a book I read, the main characters were all jealous of one other girl - she was pretty, kind, athletic, smart, and artistic. Everyone loved her and she was nice to everyone. But the girls later found out that she was the woman of the family, since her mom had died, and she had to do more chores than any of the girls combined. When we think about it - when you think about it - you are more fortunate than every single being on earth, in some respect. Maybe you are really attractive. Maybe you have amazing athletic skills. Maybe you are really smart. Maybe you are a really great entrepreneur. Whatever it is, you personally are the best at something. You might not think it, and that thing might be small, but it's true. I believe that every single person has the exact same amount of advantages in life. You may completely disagree. But that all depends on what you consider valuable. You might say billionaires have it the best - but perhaps they came from broken families and worked their way tot he top. Perhaps they don't even have good friends or good health. They might be depressed or sad. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum are the poor and hungry living in the world's worst conditions. They might have nothing of material value - but they might have an amazing family who supports each other, a great work ethic, and an amazing amount of courage, hope, and optimism. And those things count just as much. Judging people is something natural that people do. It's how we assess our surroundings, our peers, and ourselves. But sometimes we are too quick to set our thoughts in stone. We might miss the main idea. We might think the homeless person down the street has nothing - we might judge what they wear, how they talk, how they carry themselves - without even knowing they are homeless. We might even pick on the prettiest, the smartest, the most talented person we know because we are envious of them. But what we see might not be all there is to the story. "Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had." These are strong words, and they are important for us to remember. And as we know, "advantages" could be anything from money to looks, brains to talents. Being judgmental is actually one of the chief causes of conflict in our world. If you look at world history, yo can see that many - if not all - wars could have been prevented with mutual understanding. Let's try to move towards a world that not only accepts, but understands.

13 April 2011

small world

Who knew that anatomy could be such a great source of happiness? I surely didn't. But today when we were practicing for our anatomy practical on the digestive system, no one expected to have so much fun. Basically it consists of a diagram of the organs, with lines pointing to them, and we have to match the cards with the words onto the Velcro on the lines. In under 30 seconds. So we had to practice so we wouldn't take more than 30 seconds. I got 25 my first time. And then I started to get pretty good. And then my teacher told us the record: 14 seconds. By now, I was completely motivated to win. This was ultimate competition - go big or go home. So I got a little competitive as my times dropped. And eventually I got to 16, then 15, and then - 13! I had beat the record! And everyone and his cousin was staring at me. I must have looked really incredibly, oh-my-God-what-is-wrong-with-her ridiculous. But it was the funnest thing in the world. By the way, I eventually got down to 12 seconds. 12.59s to be exact. Also, tonight I went to the premier of one of my friend's documentaries on the French exchange program. This focused on the one in 2009, and it has taken him this long to finish. It was about American and French stereotypes, the "American life" and how it can be something you don't expect - he is a Sikh - and how the two countries have been united throughout history, religion, and now exchange programs like this. He did a Q&A after that and it made me appreciate the movie even more than before. He said there was more than 30 hours of film and it probably took over 1000 hours to complete. The film was amazing and as professional as documentaries I have seen on TV. It was absolutely incredible, and this summer - after he enters it in some more international festivals - he will put it online, and I can send you the link. I also got to see all of my best friends there and my favorite teachers, like my lit teacher from last year. She's sort of like my mom at school. His film was really just an eye-opener and it made everyone - the Frenchies, the Americans, the adults, the kids - feel like our world might not be as small as we think.

12 April 2011

playing the game

Happy Tuesday! I hope you are enjoying the week so far and that you aren't going to lose it before Friday comes. I found out something valuable today when I was talking to my friend during lunch. Except we don't go to the cafeteria because there are too many people, we just sit in the art hallway. But anyway, back to my story. So I was telling my friend about my college visits and my new favorite - Hoya! - and I told him that I saw someone from school there (that we both know) and how ironic it was. But he said it wasn't because this kid really loves the school. And my French teacher went there too. But what I didn't know was that she is a qualified alumni interviewer for this area. And the reason why he was so nice to her, that he would stay after class and help her, that he became president of the club she sponsored, was to get in a good word and secure a spot at his dream school. This was two years ago, and we don't have her anymore. But he still maintains the relations. When I was a freshman, I was just a naive little fool who thought everything was puppies and rainbows and A+s on every test. I have long since changed my ways. Not to say that I'm cynical and a failure, but I understand the game. I just came in a lot later into the game. What's the game? It's the somewhat sleazy, under-the-table, secret-alliance-formation game in which those who have devious minds, pretty good grades, and a lot of motivation can stomp all over the weak and go all the way to the top. I've never been like that. I never think that telling one of my best friends about one of my favorite schools (thus getting her interested) would hurt me - until it does. And I don't think twice about helping someone else out with their side of the debate - even if we're opponents. It's a sad type of niceness, and it can be a curse. But realizing that not all people are out there to feed all the hungry, clothe all the poor, and open their homes to the homeless will help you. Sometimes we can think the best of people, and we should. I naturally believe that humans are good people with good intentions (the majority, that is). But we can't let ourselves believe that people won't step on us if we show a weak spot. People will exploit our flaws, and that's reality. It's a little sad, but sometimes we have to play the game to understand the game. It's like when you get in a car accident because someone else messed up, and you were driving perfectly fine.

11 April 2011

ice cream with the frenchies

Happy Best Monday ever! In addition to getting an A on my anatomy test (yes!) our whole French class went to get ice cream at this vintage ice cream place really close to our school. It's because the French exchange students are here and this is their first day at school. So we wanted to show them what we do in school - skip and go out for ice cream! I was so excited because I love that place and because it was really warm outside. We all walked there together and it was the best school day ever. I got to hve my favorite milkshake and everything was wonderful. And the funny part is my teacher wasn't even allowed to do that. We sort of snuck out. But really, high school is about memories. You don't want to walk away from it with no memories at all. Work hard, but have fun. I'm glad we got to do something like that, because good grades will carry you through college, but good memories will carry you through life.

10 April 2011

spring cleaning

Happy spring! The weather was so nice today, but a little bit hot (almost 90 degrees!) so I decided to do a little spring cleaning. My room is usually pretty neat and tidy, but there are always multiple piles of things all over the place. It's an organized mess. There's a big stack of National Geographic Traveler and Seventeen, which lies below the pile of books I feel like reading and then never put away. My desk houses only papers that I've left there and other useless junk that I don't need. I can only use my computer on it because there's no room for anything else. I decided that today I would clean everything out. I dumped out probably 20 pounds of papers, pamphlets, notebooks, notecards, pieces of nothingness that I've collected, ticket stubs, pictures, magazine articles and cutouts. Let's just say it was a hot mess. Normally I don't care about this at all. I like my organized mess. But I decided that things were going to change. So it took most of the day, but I finally finished. It turned out really nice. I can actually open my drawers. I can use my computer and write things without having to move anything. It's great. I eve used some of the hundreds of paint chips I've stolen from Home Depot to make a desk mat. I put my plane ticket from Oxford in it, as well as a Menchies sticker, a Vanity Fair vintage post card, a Library of Congress book, a picture of an Impressionist painting, and a Georgetown brochure to remind me to reach my goals of awesomeness. It felt really great to clean up everything and start anew. It feels like a whole new room. And everything has a place. Even if it's under my bed in a big stack of more foolishness I won't be able to throw out. I'm somewhere in between a pack rat and a hoarder. It can get a little ridiculous after a while. I encourage you - I challenge you - to go through your own foolishness and make your house, desk, or room as nice as it should be. Who knows - perhaps it could be fun!

09 April 2011

small slices of family

We're now entering a new phase of blogging. It's the triple digits. When I logged into Blogger today, it said "100 posts". I'm so happy. I never thought I would keep up with it like I am. I guess since I force myself to do it everyday it's become routine. Today I got a lot done actually. I went shopping with my mom, which is always a fun time because we always go to fun stores and have a great time. The weather was also really amazing too. It's about 85 degrees and sunny. Perfection has been reached. We also tried out this new restaurant and I had this strangely shaped pasta with meat sauce. It was hard to eat but very good. And I also went out to get frozen yogurt with my friend and we talked about spring break and other ridiculous things for a couple of hours. It was really great to talk to someone that wasn't my family because sometimes we get on each others nerves (we often do this. We actually regularly do this.); which is normal. It's important to distance yourself from the people you love every once in a while, or else you'll explode on each other. Sometimes families live too close to each other too much of the time and they will get bored of seeing each other and they will push each other's buttons just to relieve boredom. It's natural. But if you get away from the people you see everyday, you will learn to appreciate them. It's the "absence makes the heart grow fonder" thing. Also, here is an interesting article I found about sleep patterns. Click here to read it.

08 April 2011

the big kahuna has come!

And now, in front of a live studio audience, the very first ever:

100th Blog Post Spectacular!

(brought to you by UltraClutch Hairspray)

Just to emphasize the importance of this day, here is a picture I made on my iPad on the plane this morning:

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.

Go shine.

07 April 2011

almost there...

Welcome to the official 99th post! We're making history as we know it! You're probably waiting for the 100th to come and go so I can stop making a big fanfare over it. But the truth is, I'm going to make a big deal about the halfway point and the 365th (uh oh). So here's the deal. Tomorrow we will be back in the ATL and I won't get to tell you about my adventures. However, then we can get back to me analyzing my somewhat vapid life. Love it or hate it. It's inevitable. Now. Today was a rather long day, so let me start at the beginning. First ... (that sounds a little boring, hang on). To commence my busy and efficient day, I started with some English muffins. But there was no butter so we had to wait awhile and my muffins were cold by the time the butter came. Oh well. After that affair we rushed down to the east wing at the National Gallery to see some of the modern art (yes!) and some of the exhibitions. There was a Venice one, but all of them look the same, and there was a Paul Gaugin one. Amazing! In case you are just not au courant with the art world - or general culture - he's a great little French painter. He mainly paints Tahitian (? spelling) women, because he went there for a while. And the most famous of them all, well one of the most famous - The Brooding Woman - came from none other than the Worcester Art Museum! After Gaugin we saw some Howard Hodgkin (I saw his exhibit in Oxford this summer), a little Matisse, some Kandinsky, and even The Walking Man. After a brief snack lunch we went back to the hotel to drive to Baltimore (think Tracy Turnblad from Hairspray!) to see Loyola University Maryland and to see my great aunts (my maternal grandma's sisters). Families can get confusing. So we got to see Loyola for 2 hours and we even got our own tour guide. That's never happened ever in our college touring experiences, and we've become experts at the science. It was a really nice college. They had some real nice study abroads (no Oxford though...), really nice dorm rooms, and great food. Everybody was really nice too - it's helpful to see the types of people you are living with. However, Georgetown still holds first place for me, even though Loyola was really nice (can you tel by the number of times I have said "really nice"?). Then we went down to downtown Baltimore and we got to see the house my dad lived in when he was in the JVC (Jesuit Volunteer Corps). Half of the neighborhood was boarded up. People sat with blankets on their front steps. All of the houses were dilapidated and some looked like they would fall down if you blew on them. The most surprising thing was that this wasn't in central Africa or south Asia. It was in the United States, one of the top 10 nations in the country. And if you go down even four blocks, there are really affluent neighborhoods. Then we finished the night with a visit to my mom's aunt's house for dinner - Uno pizzas which were actually a lot better than you think - and dessert. It was a really fun way to end the night. I even gave them the blog website - perhaps I'll expand my audience to more than 2! Well, that's all for now. Try not to lose your marbles waiting for the 100th post!

06 April 2011

lions, tigers, and only one bear

This is the 100th post eve eve! Talk about crazy! We've only been here for four days, including today, but it seems like we've been here for a lot longer than that. Today was zoo day - we went to the Smithsonian National Zoological Park (? don't know about the name) and we saw pretty much every animal in the entire zoo. What was cool about the zoo was that half of it was inside, like the small mammals and stuff of that nature (ha! I pulled a pun on you!). I'll start at the beginning since that way I won't forget anything, I hope. So when you first walk in there is a sign that says "Zoo" which is fitting since it's a zoo. But it's mad eout of stone and you can sit inside the Os and take a cute picture. And being our DC touristy selves, we took one. It was actually pretty cute. After that, you turn right and you go into the Asian animals exhibit, which as a whole was my favorite. We saw this sloth bear - that's sloth bear, not sloth and bear - and we even got to see this feeding demonstration when the zookeepers talk about the animal. And they usually ask a lot of questions like "why does it have these teeth?" and "where are they normally located?" and my mom knew the answer to all of them. The other zoogoers were a little bit blown away by her knowledge. We meandered down this windy (not like "woah, my hat's blowing away" wind; I mean wind as in "this path winds around town in a circular fashion". Just for clarification.) path to the otters, which were asleep, and this cool fishing cat, which is ironic since cats don't really like water. He was pretty comical since he reminds my of my precious cat who I miss so dearly. After that we went to see the elephants that smelled pretty un-gorgeous and we went to lunch. They gave us reusable lunch boxes that were shaped like animals! Except we had to pay for mine because I'm technically not a kid. I'm in that awkward in between stage. After that we went to see the lions and the tigers (and bears - oh my!), except the tigers were asleep. Isn't that inconvenient? But the lions were really amazing. There were 2 lionesses, 7 cubs, and 1 dad lion. He was so cool. And he eevn let out one of those deep guttural roars. It was epic. Then we got to see the reptile house and the great apes house where the orangutan did something rather special that no one ever wanted to see. Then once we finished we had to walk back to the metro then back to the hotel. It was a long walk. My feet hurt even more than yesterday. But we got to go out to eat at the same restaurant where I got that ridiculously great lasagna. We went with my aunt - the one who came with us to all themonuements and stuff. Well, I'm really tired so I'm going to run to bed. And now: á bientôt!

05 April 2011

la journée des musées

We're getting so close to the big one-zero-zero! This is getting exciting! People will say, "you've been blogging every day since January?" And I'll say, "No, since December 31". This morning we got our second taste of the metro, and luckily we didn't mess it up like yesterday. We weren't on it for nearly as long as yesterday either, and we went to Federal something to get to the Smithsonian Natural History museum. And it was raining. It was also windy, and sideways rain and wind aren't really great weather days. My umbrella did one of those inverted things like when you dress up as someone from Chicago on Halloween. So we got into the museum and it was all wet from a bunch of other people trying to get out of the rain. When we got upstairs to look around, we saw this giant whale that overlooked the biggest aqua exhibit I've ever seen. They had extinct marine animals, arctic animals, and even a crochet coral reef! That led into the biggest human evolution exhibit ever. It had insane artifacts from all over the world and videos from people who went to Africa to investigate these civilizations. After that we got to see dinosaurs and rare gems which was one of my favorites, next to the evolution one. After that we went to the National Gallery, and on the way we got to see this giant sculpture in this park. I knew that it was made by Claes Oldenberg because he does cool sculptures of things that are usually small, but he makes them larger than life. It's nuts. The best part of the NG was seeing actual Monets, Vermeers - yes, it's true - and van Goghs. I almost fell on the floor when I saw the two pictures of Rouen cathedral lined up on the wall. It wasn't Google images - this was it. Claude Monet painted them and I got to see them in flesh. I even breathed on them. But the best part of all was seeing three - count 'em three - paintings by my all-time favorite painter, like, ever: Johannes "Jan" Vermeer. Only the artsy really know about him. He only made 35 paintings, and some of them are not even credited with his name. He was always an enigma, and if you read The Girl With The Pearl Earring, it makes him even more exciting. That's obviously the best one he ever did. But at the NG was A Lady Writing, the one with the lady in the red hat and another one, but I forget the name. It was ultimately surreally epic. But we never got to see the modern art, which I wanted to see the most, so we're going back on Thursday. We walked like 7 thousand blocks to get back tot our hotel and my feet were throbbing so bad I thought the lower layer of my foot would slide off. A little gross, I know. But it's all good because we got to go to Bertucci's! Best place ever! I chowed on like half of the pizza because it's just so good. Then we came back and they delivered Haagen Dazs ice cream to our door. Don't you love that? Then we went swimming until all hours and came back to crash. Now I'm going to crash. I'll see you ...

04 April 2011

the day of advantageous ironies

Good evening mes amis. Right now I'm really tired but I will still come through because that's what I do. It was actually 85 degrees in the capital today even though it's not normally really warm this time of year. We were sweating. And that's not really what you want to feel when you're crammed in the back of a cab with more people than a car can hold. Today we visited the Capitol building and I took about a million pictures and then we saw the Supreme Court building. We also walked by the Library of Congress, but then we decided to go inside. Which was the best decision we made all week. I always thought the LOC was just a library with some random texts that no one knows about and only important politicians can go in there. I was wrong. It was a wonderful musebrary (museum and a library). And the architecture was the offspring of John Ruskin and the Romans. It also had a tinge of Ashmolean and Worcester Art Museum. It was just breathtaking. And it was sort of small, yet sort of bigger than I thought. It's difficult to explain. Anyways, so I got to see the library of Thomas Jefferson (eep! Not only is he my favorite president, but he's my favorite historical figure) and I got to see an original Gutenberg bible. Like a legit one. It was even in Latin. Hot off the presses (ha!) - actually it was printed 500 years ago, so now it's cold. It really is, they keep that display case in the 50s. After that, we went through the metro which was an experience for all of us, especially my kid brother and perhaps sister because they're not city kids like I was. The city is in my blood. But we got all confused in the ticket booth so this huge person who had yellow dreds and nails longer than my fingers came over to help us out. She seemed annoyed. Cityfolk get annoyed with us "farm families". So we took that to Dupont Circle where we went to CVS to get my sister some Zyrtec. We then proceeded to administer the 3 tablespoons of liquid foolishness in the middle of the street. As if we didn't stick out enough. Then we went to this really great pizza place and the waiters were so nice that I wanted to take them home with us. We were in a rush to get to Georgetown, because we were going on a tour and stuff. The cab we took there was pretty sketch. But Georgetown wasn't. We were late to the information session - no surprise there - and ironically I saw one of my friend/acquaintances from school. Which is really ironic because he's one of the only people I've ever known who doesn't want to go to college "in state". It was rather ironic. I have now officially decided that Georgetown is my new favorite college and that I am going to get in because I'm sort of awesome in some ways. Math is not one of those ways. But anyways, I don't know why I loved it so much - it was just that click and then I knew this was the place to be. Then we went out to dinner with some of my dad's friends, and ironically his wife went to GU (I'm getting tired of typing Georgetown so I'm just going to abbreviate) and she is an interviewer! I got all the inside deats. Now I'll ace it and I'll have it in the bag! Huzzah! Well, I'm pretty cashed so I'll report on the days findings tomorrow. Until then, keep it real.

03 April 2011

première presidential post

We're moving closer and closer to the 100th post! This is getting a little crazy! This also marks the second out-of-state post (well, the second set). We're at the nation's capital right now, just a 5 minute walk away from the White House! Madness! We had a great day touring around the city. I have never felt so touristy in my life. I never felt like a tourist in Oxford, and I won't in Costa Rica either. But being a tourist is fun. Today was the do-everything-you-must-see-in-Washington-DC-day. We did all the monuments you could possibly see. First we saw teh White House (don't know if it was the front or the back). I couldn't even believe I was seeing it. Right there. And we walked down the road some more and came to the back (or was it the front?) of the White House. And in this garden you could see some tulips that formed the shape of a 1 (don't know why). Then we proceeded to the Washington Monument, and I wanetd to go inside but tickets are sold out all week. Bummer. Then we walked to the World War II memorial which is ridiculously amazing. Not only the acrhitecture, but the living history literally surrounding you. They also had all of the states on pillars and Georgia and Massachusetts were right next to each other. Ironic. After that we walked a long way to the Lincoln Memorial, where we saw some of my dad and mom's friends (they're from one of the colleges I like; also the one my parents went to). The memorial was incredible. It was so insane and I couldn't even believe that I was there. And the view of the Washington Memorial is even better from there. After that we went to the Korean and Vietnam War memorials. It was a little intense. Especially Vietnam. People were very quiet as they walked silently through the path lined with walls (in which were engraved the names of every single person who died in the war for our country). And we did all of this with my knowledgeable aunt who lives in DC (she used to live in Massachusetts, then Canada, and then India. Now here.). She's no stranger to the blogosphere and she is an avid reader of my Adventures blog. Our feet were realy tired, so we walked back. After we did that we went out to dinner with one of my dad's childhood friends and his family. It was really fun and we had dinner at this really great Italian restaurant. You can't go wrong with Italian, especially lasagna and gelato. That's the stuff. And we talked and laughed the night away as we feasted on Italian delecacies. Then it started raining as we left and we went back to the hotel, where we went to the pool with the nice color-changing hot tub. People ask me how I find time to blog. I really don't find time, because if I tried to find the time it wouldn't work. I have to make the time. My days are not 24 hours long, they are 23 hours and 15 minutes, because it takes approximately 45 minutes (sometimes a half and hour when I slack off) to blog. And if I set aside that time, I know that nothing can interfere with it. I force myself to blog. But I like to, so it's almost like forcing yourself to watch TV. Assuming you like TV. That's called will power. However, right now the only thing I can will myself to do is finish this post and vais au lit. Donc, I will see you all tomorrow. Indirectly, at least. PS- Blogger is tweakin' like mad so spell check's not working. Sorry for the typos.

02 April 2011

spaghetti bolognese, frozen yogurt, and bowls of rice

H E L L O . Today I got a package from the place that I'm going to Costa Rica with and it had some travel insurance, a travel guide to Costa Rica, and a journal (yay!) to record thoughts and such. I got even more excited for the trip! Today I went to the nail place with my mom and I got a pedicure. It was utterly wonderful. I was still sore from my cirque audition on Thursday and the massage felt so good. Then after that we went to Menchies which is just the best place ever and after that we went to Macaroni Grill for dinner, which is one of my favorite places to eat. Today is also the day that I got my first donation for my hunger campaign, Bowls Half Full. It was for $50. Now we are 1% closer to reaching my goal of $5000 for world hunger. This post is sort of food related in that today I got to have two of my favorite foods ever - menchies frozen yogurt and spaghetti bolognese. And we've also moved one step closer to defeating world hunger. The $50 from this donor can feed one child through school meals for a whole year. We get to enjoy the wonderful delicacies of food and some people don't even get to have the bare minimum of food. If you are reading this right now, I would like to thank you for your donation and your service to humanity. I hope my generous donor has inspired you to act as well. Good night and see you later!