31 May 2011

don't turn back, just keep going

I can't believe how many people create blogs just to provide an outlet for all of their thoughts about their lives. Nothing really goes on in their lives, but they just feel the need to pour every thought into the vast void called cyberspace. I hope I am not among them.
I did, however, see in someone's blog something interesting. It said: Everything will turn our good in the end. If things aren't good now, than it's not the end. It's an interesting way of looking at life.
I come here to you tonight to deliver you the list of blogs that have made it past the first level: the ones that I put enough effort and thought into to actually make them count. There are two levels of blog posts: the ones where I say at 11:48pm "Oh crap, I forgot that after I finish my French project and my anatomy cram studying for my respiratory system test and practical, I need to blog. I'll just write down something. It's not going to be great, but whatever." Then there are the "oh my God, this was a life-changing day and I can blog about this!" The latter are more rare.
Nevertheless, here is the list:
beauty is in the eye of the beholder ~ to my mom ~ finding the cure ~ reconciliation ~ the great worldly epidemic ~ large-scale oxford ~ right now ~ nothing into something ~ outsmart yourself
I always try to make my posts valuable to the reader, but sometimes it's a little hard. And sometimes I wish I spent more time writing and revising. The truth is, I never revise anything. Well, spell checking doesn't count. I mean, I don't do rough drafts or any of this "prewriting" foolishness. You think mathematicians sit down and make "sloppy copies" of their problems first? No, they just do the problems. Real writers write from the heart. And hearts don't stop to revise and think "well, I think my left ventricle could have done a little better closing that valve." So I guess my little lesson for the day is have no regrets. Do everything you do with affirmation and believe in what you do.

30 May 2011

outsmart yourself

How exactly can one outsmart oneself? Can it be done?
I pondered this during adult swim today at the pool. You see, I'm reading a book for AP lit summer reading - God forbid there's a summer without work - called The Road by Cormac McCarthy and I was worried it was going to be dreadful because the English department at our school is notoriously talented for choosing horrible books to read. Au contraire, mes amis, c'est vachement mieux que j'avais pensé. It's about the world after an apocalypse, and the only people left are this boy and his father who go unnamed. It's very dramatic and sad, so I can only read it during the day (it makes me sad at night). There was one line from it that I thought really stood out (maybe because my eyes are on ultra duty because we have to find 10 quotes and write them down, explain them, blah blah blah, then say how they relate to our lives [?] - why just read a book when you can annotate rhetoric and literary strategies and analyze quotes! Oh the joy literature brings! It's actually kind of fun. Especially when you have those little revelations and you sit there like "woah! I get it!" and everyone around you gives you dirty glares..
Anyway. The Road. When I first started I was like "oh no, a father-son book about a road. The road, in fact. Probably going to be lame." It's a good book though, even though I probably never would have picked it up in my life if I had not been forced to read it. But here is the quote from the book that I found interesting:
You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.A good chiasmus can send shivers down one's spine (and in the case of AP students, probably a spine ruined by scoliosis from hunching over a computer screen finishing work until the wee hours). It's ironic. We forget things we want to remember, like the sweet innocence of childhood and the memories of summer camps, vacations, and school. We have collective, miscellaneous remnants of memories, but no definitive "hey, remember that?" moments. My dad just said that he feels like the last ten years have blended together and they have gone by so fast.
Yet we remember things we often want to forget, like when we moved here. It was the most emotional and difficult day of my life when we left our house, our best friends, our home, and all of our family, to move to a place I had never been to in my life. While I would rather forget that horrible day, I can recall every detail of it, as if it had happened last week or yesterday. It's permanently etched into my brain.

But the mind can outsmart itself, if the user knows how to do it. Try to train your mind to remember the things you want to remember - make important things that much more memorable, and remember that everything is a once in a lifetime chance to do anything. And try to forget the bad things in the past, the present, and the impending future - if we learn to move on, we will know that we have become better people.

29 May 2011

nothing into something

At the end of the day, after I blog, I always read something on my iPad, like NPR or CNN or Twitter. Yesterday I read a really poignant article about a many who was just released from prison two years ago.
You'd think he was a horrible convict; after all, he's been in prison for 30 years. What could he possibly have done? The answer: nothing. 30 years ago, he was convicted of murder in Florida, only at around age 21. He was sent to prison, and it was prison for life - he was supposed to be released on parole in 2043. But he didn't do it. And only he knew that.
Until 2008, when DNA tests - 30 years too late - came back saying that he did fit the criteria for having killed the man they accused him of killing 30 years prior.
I cannot imagine even going to jail for an overnight, let alone a day, a week, a month, a year, a decade, or even more than a quarter of a century. Especially for absolutely nothing.
But in the deepest of downs, this man found light in music. After 12 years of contemplating death, he decided he was not going to let "them win", and so he became the stronger person. It was in prison that he learned how to play the guitar. He also formed a band with other prisoners and wrote music. His first single, being released on iTunes next month, was written on toilet paper. Others were scrawled on prison calenders and other pieces of paper he could salvage.
After finally being set free, after so many years wasted in prison, he was found by a music producer, and at the age of 51, he started his music career. And he is helping out convicts in Florida now.
I can't even think of someone more inspirational than someone who turns nothing, less than nothing, into something uplifting and beautiful. It makes yo think, what am I doing complaining about the heat, the long line, the fact that they didn't have the right color napkins at the store, when someone else was robbed of their life and did not complain?
I probably wouldn't have been able to find enough strength like this man did. But thankfully he did. He showed me that life is so much more precious than we can ever imagine, and only we can change it for the better.

28 May 2011

better together

I read about a study on NPR about different countries and how "tight" they are.
Basically, this guy in the '60s came up with a "tightness scale" that he could rank nations on based on their cultures. So an example of a "tight" country would be Japan, because it has strict social rules and a stratified culture, and an example of a "loose" country would be the US, because we have an easy-going culture and we don't punish people who stray from the norm.
The study said that countries like Singapore, India, and other countries in Asia were on the "tight" end of the scale. Countries like Norway and New Zealand were "loose".
But either way, generally, both groups can meet the needs of their people. Sometimes some countries have access to more than others and sometimes other policies work out better than others, but culturally speaking, we're all pretty self-sufficient. We meet the cultural needs of each other - we stay together as a people. I have never heard of a country breaking up before for bad reasons, other than the Soviet Union, but it took up almost all of the eastern hemisphere so it was almost inevitable. And even though we are all different, we can keep together. And that's pretty cool. We can be really traditional or really progressive and we can still care for each other just the same.
And right now, unity is something we all need. We can never accomplish much by ourselves; well at least nothing really big. And I recently read an interview from a 25 year old woman who just lost her husband in the tornado in Joplin. She said he jumped on top of her to protect her when the twister came, and he died as the tornado passed - he saved his wife.
Not only is her house and her whole town ruined, but her husband, with whom she was going to have a family, is gone.
It's times like these that we need to stay together and help out people in need. We need to turn to each other and help each other out. Now's not the time to turn away and worry about ourselves. It's the time to look into our communities and think about helping others who are in danger, despair, and destruction.
Good bless the victims of the tornado, and the victims of the other tornado in Tuscaloosa, and the tsunami. In fact, God bless every person whose life was taken away by a natural disaster. Hopefully we can get through these things, no matter what our culture or background is, together.

27 May 2011

stop this train

Today was the day. The last day of school. It really doesn't feel like summer though, which is what everyone says. The thing is, I have only 1 year left of mandatory education, and that really scares me.
But first I have 2 little stories. First, this girl I hate made THE SAME French food I made but mine was at least seven times better and I had pictures, a poster, and recipe cards that were cute and not in Calibri font. I mean, come on. It's the Times New Roman of Microsoft Word 2007. Can we try a little harder. I, on the other hand used MV Boli, which is more sophisticated and fun. I can't stand people who use Times New Roman or any of the Arial fonts (Bold, Extra Bold, Narrow) or something else stupid. It's a bad scene.
Then in history my presentation was the only one with extra artifacts used to enhance the presentation. And my teacher was so engaged and excited and I just knew I nailed it.
But then tonight of course was graduation. No word can be more bittersweet. I went with my friends. And I knew it was sad the seniors were leaving, and I was really sad that some of my friends were leaving. But it wasn't until they tossed up their caps that everything became real. As if no other part of the ceremony mattered but that part. I froze when I saw them, because I have seen it hundreds of times in movies, but never in real life to people that I knew. And that was the start of my senior year. I can't even believe I wrote that because it feels so weird.
I'll tell you the truth, I really don't want to be a senior. I just want to be a kid and have fun and not worry about tests and college. My life sort of reminds me of a John Mayer song called Stop this Train about not growing up.
Growing up is really rough, not going to lie.
The valedictorian, a girl from my French class, talked about remembering the old things, like keeping them in a box, but the box is always with you. We might not be able to stop the train but we can still keep the ticket.

26 May 2011

je m'en fous

Dear readers, how have you been? Personally I am a little bit over the edge and who knows what tomorrow will bring. After I went to get ice cream - again - with some friends, I came home and we started project: make-some-obscure-French-food-for-school. It's inevitable that at least once in your high school French career you will have to make some food item, and me, being the talented chef that I am (I've mastered toast and blended drinks), shy away from cooking. I have only done it twice including this time - once was freshman year, but my partner's psycho mom did it while we stood and watched. Good times in French.
You either have to cook things or make stupid pointless video projects. I've had my fair share of both, but today I had to make clafoutis aux framboises et chocolat (chocolate and raspberry clafoutis, which is like a custard cake thing). And we had to take pictures in between each one and now I've wasted pages of photo paper and ridiculous amounts of precious ink - the printer's gold. It's ridiculous. What happened to taking tests on finals day?
Well, I'm a little bit late for a meeting with my bed, so I'll post something much more riveting tomorrow. i apologize for my lameness.
By the way, tomorrow is graduation, which I'm going to if it doesn't rain. It will prepare me for the absolute ridiculousness that next year will bring.

25 May 2011

thank you, math

Today was the last day of math - liberation! But also we got something special from our teacher. The other day he had all of us right compliments for everyone in the class on the computer and he typed them all up.
My math class is, well, an experience. That's always how it is. I'm not in AP Calculus or even AP Statistics, so I'm stuck with, well, them. And sometimes when all you know about someone is well, bad things, writing them a compliment is hard. It's also hard when you don't even recognize the name or you say "There was a Joe in our class?"
So today we got all of them back and I was pleasantly surprised. I mean, some of them did say "well, I've never talked to you before, but you seem nice" or "you're smart and nice" or even "I think you're on the swim team, but I can't be sure", but you know, when you have a minute and a half to write something heartfelt about someone else, it's a little hard. Especially if you don't even know that person.
But I was pleased with all of them. A lot of them did say "put your hair down" in all caps, because my hair only serves one purpose (to be contained in a hair elastic), and there was this cluster of them that said something about me being a swimmer. Pretty sure they're from the "I really have no idea who this Megan girl is" people. but oh well, I said the same thing, like "I wish I got to know you better". Or at all.
One of them said that she "loved my nails" - I always paint them some color, at least once a week. Don't know it fits in my schedule. Another said something like "you're personality brightens my day like a light on a dark pond." I laughed, but it was nice.
Another said that I was cool, and that's "a good thing to have under your belt". Another said something about my drawings, and some others mentioned me being smart. I guess because I don't talk that much they assume I'm smart. Another said "I bet you're math grade brought up our GPA". I laughed.
Another one said they were glad that I was on this planet.
Then my math teacher wrote this nice note about facing the bumps in the road of life. It sounded like a huge text from my dad after I send out a mass text to everyone when I have a mid-teenage crisis.
You wouldn't expect something like that from my math class - especially from my math teacher. But it really makes me happy, and I'm glad that whoever wrote those things wrote them.

24 May 2011


I was cleaning out my locker today, and I found this in the front of my binder. It's a poster I found on Jason Mraz's blog a while ago, and I really liked it. Read it and really think about it, and it will do crazy things to your perspective on life.

That's all for today. This says it all.

23 May 2011


First, I want to acknowledge my sister's birthday! She turned 14 today and even though we didn't celebrate it today, we will this weekend when school gets out.
We finally finished watching John Adams today - he died - and John was not the only one to go - him and Tom Jefferson died the same day, fifty days after the signing of the Declaration, Abigail (the wife) died from typhoid fever, and Abigail (the daughter) died from breast cancer, and if I was the director I would have left the surgery scene up to the imagination. But I don't write the 7 part documentary.
It was an emotional day in history, to say the least. I never like those kinds of movies, especially since we've known John Adams for like, 5 hours now. And we've known everything there is to know. And then you see them get all old and stuff and it just makes me sad.
It just makes me want to make the most of it now, while we have it.
On Friday the seniors graduate, and then we become seniors for a short ten months. Then we leave. Ten months might seem like a lot. It's not.
But we still have tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
Everything eventually ends. But if things didn't end, new things couldn't happen. We've got to enjoy all of the things we get - and if not enjoy, then at least understand why we are faced with a hardship.
Cherish the old, but embrace the new. Don't forget where you came from, but don't lose sight of where you're going.

22 May 2011

separate spheres

I've still been working on my history project and I have actually just finished. All I need now is to print it out and make it look all fancy and stuff.
The last part I did was the analysis. I had to talk about the differences between my teenage life and my grandpa's teenage life. It sounds like a horrible bore. And it may seem dry. But it's not, because if you think about it, both of them were great ways to live.
My life might seem easier. And I guess it probably is. I have everything made for me and I really don't have to work hard to get things that I want. It makes life seem like a breeze. I get up in the morning and I assume that bread is in the pantry so I can make myself some toast, just as I assume orange juice, cinnamon sugar, and butter are there. And then when I finish, I don't think twice about my mom driving me to school, or about getting home from school in the afternoon on the bus (or sometimes, my mom or dad picking me up). The same for sports and other activities that I might decide to do one day.
Back then, I would have walked to school, no matter what the weather was. And depending on how busy my mom and dad were, if they had a car, they could drive me places. And if bread and butter and all my other commodities were not there, then I would have to do without.
I'm glad that these things came to mind when I was typing. But al lot of people don't realize these things. We always say that old people should learn to adapt to our way of life, but maybe we could adopt some of the things they do into our culture today.

21 May 2011

it's real!

I've been working on a history project due next week. That sounds dreadfully boring, and it seems dumb that I'm really excited about it. But it's not just a history project, it's a family project. My subject is my grandpa, who read this blog everyday. The assignment is to conduct an interview with someone born before 1952 (I don't know why 1952 is the cutoff. A little random if you ask me. but hey, I don't write the rules.) and include historical stuff like views on wars, memories from the Depression, and advances in technology, etc. It's been interesting.
Since my grandpa lives 1000 miles away, email is the new tape recorder for this interview. Which works nicely (cut/paste, if you know what I mean). Today I just got a really long email from him, and it was all of his responses to the questions. I was so surprised he remembered something about everything on the list, even though not everything was needed. He even remembered small details.
The cool thing is, when you learn about this stuff in school it only seems half real. Like a story almost. Like this was so long ago that it doesn't even seem like it happened. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson seem more like ancient legends than actual people. But when he wrote on the page that his dad (my great grandfather) worked on the WPA, I got really excited. We learned about that in APUSH! It's actually real! I even remember when he said "You need to know this for the test!"
And when he said that he remembers the president talking about Pearl Harbor and he remembers where he was when he heard about the Cuban Missile Crisis, and that makes it seem so much more real.
I've never had a relative (well, as in a parent or grandparent) who has gone to war, I'm not a descendant of a famous American. So this was a cool way to connect myself to the place I live in.

Thanks, Grandpa.

20 May 2011

right now

About 6 years ago at this time, I was leaving my home state, the only place I had ever lived, and I was moving to a state I barely knew anything about, more than 1000 miles away.
I was leaving my street, my school, my friends, my family, and my memories. My whole life. And I was leaving my best friend in the whole world.
The thing is, I was leaving and beginning anew. But she was just staying there, living on her same life without me. Like something was missing. I was just changing. And I could never understand how she felt, because I was too busy with my new life to think about it.
We never lost contact, and we are always texting each other or Skyping. But it was a really devastating move, and for years I missed it so much and I hoped nothing would work out so we could move back. But now, while I love home, I love the ATL too. And I love my friends, too, and I don't want them to ever leave.
But unfortunately today was the last day of school for the seniors, and next Friday is their graduation. And even more unfortunately, I know a lot of seniors and I am good friends with a lot of them from some of my classes. I can't bare to see them leave, but this time I'm on the other side of the equation. As they move onto greater adventures, I stay here, wallowing along without them. It's going to be really sad, but mostly because next year, that will be me.
I had to get out of my prolonged bittersweet sadness so I went out to dinner with one of my best friends, one of her friends, and our two guy friends. We were at this fun Mexican restaurant when we started talking about how we were going to be here in a year, worrying about what comes next. We all got a little sad.
But we have to remind ourselves that we still have a whole year, and we can't waste it thinking we have no time left.
And as you might know, there's a conspiracy that the world is going to end tomorrow. And one of them said "well, if the world's going to end tomorrow, this was a good way to spend the last day!" And while it was jokingly, it's true. Take one day at a time, and enjoy it for what it is. Don't take away the potential of a day because you might only have one day.
That's how terminal cancer patients live - one day at a time. They might know their lives are close to the end, they might even know what day they will stop living here. But they still live like they have everything and that they are well.
And we are just kids, going onto something great in a year.
And whatever happens happens. There will be mistakes along the way, there will be setbacks, and sadness. But we can't let it get in the way of enjoying the beauty of right now.

19 May 2011

the epiphany, part 2

I've been thinking about my "quest" for happiness. The word itself implies that I am on some grand and long journey to find some nirvana at the top of a mountain. But sometimes what we find at the top of the mountain is not even close to what we find when we are getting to the mountain. And I have realized that there is no mountain in my journey. The quest is solely itself. There is no prize at the end, other than the culmination of a broader wisdom.
After I finish this, I will take with me the memories of this experience as well as the things I wrote about - the connection I made with myself. But at the end, it will be the end. Journeys of self-discovery yield benefits immediately.
So I guess the name of my blog is somewhat of a misnomer. But that' what quests are about, too; changing your initial views of something. Otherwise, it would not be a quest.

18 May 2011

there's no such thing as a free lunch

Just as an update, this is now my 140th post! We're almost at the halfway mark (only 42 and a half [?] more posts to go . . .)!
By the way, I'm not just saying post because I'm trying to be cool, it's because if I say that this is my 140th blog, than that means I have 140 blogs, not 140 blog entries. But entries sounds like a diary, so I stick to post. So there you go. You learn something new everyday.
Today I'm going to go all philosophical.
Even though in all of my other classes we are doing nothing because school is basically over, we are still going pretty hard-core in history, as if the AP test was tomorrow or something.
We are watching the HBO special on John Adams, but it's more like a movie than a documentary. And sometimes it's pretty graphic (the tar and feathering and the small pox). We've been watching it for three days and I'm starting to wonder if this movie is going to last 90 years (that's how long he lived).
But at the end of the part we watched today, my teacher said that we can't ever know what it's like to not be free, because we've had it all our lives. We were born free, we live free, and nothing ever phases us - well at least nothing like this. How many people do you know think about or talk about the Revoultion or the Founding Fathers? How many people think about what thousands of people died for to give us a basic right?
We don't have to live with foreign military officers patroling our streets. We enjoy the company of each other. We don't live under strict curfews and we don't have to pay unfair taxes to things we have no say in. We live great lives and we don't even know it.
As my teacher says, "there's no such thing as a free lunch." Everything costs something, whether its time, money, or even lives. And we are still living in the wake of the people who died for us. The people who saved something for us. And many of them, while they dedicated their lives to saving the future, never got to see the fruit of their trees.

17 May 2011

times like these

Something I find ridiculous is when people plan out their lives. One time my friend wrote an essay for a seminar she had and she asked me to read it. It was really good and well-thought out. She has known what she wants to be for as long as I've known her and she knows where she wants to go, when she wants to have kids, and even what neighborhood she wants to live in (she knows the street name and everything).
The other day my sister was in school and they asked all of the eight graders to go on this website to create your high school plan and your career plan. In middle school? What is this? I don't even know what I want to be when I leave high school. I don't even know what I'm going to wear tomorrow. Actually, tomorrow's an exception because I do know what I'm going to wer - my white pants with my black flouncy shirt and of course my fancy black patent leather flats. With a nice necklace and a sweater of course. Tomorrow's going to be the "make an effort" day. I have to have one of those every week or else I'll look like a schlep.
The point of these little vignettes is to show you how ridiculous this whole planning thing has gotten. I got it - have kids write out their goals and what not - but really, but worrying about the future you can't enjoy the present. And sometimes we need to plan things. Like getting my passport renewed so I won't be detained in Costa Rica (I don't know enough Spanish to last me that long). But you can't plan things like life. So I find these things ridiculous.
I also find it strange when my friends will say "I've wanted to be a [fill in the blank] all my life". How do you know that? And why worry about what you aren't sure about?
Sometimes we just have to let it roll.
What if you had to do something every day, like blog. That's 365 blog posts per year. What if you had to worry about doing 365 posts in one day? You can't live like that. You need to take one post at a time. Because that's the present, and if you don't enjoy the present, what is there to enjoy?
There are three time periods: the past, the present, and the future. We only live in the present; we can't live in the future or in the past because we have either passed or not yet entered the other. Yet most people only spend time in the past or the future. They have no present. Make your own present.
Don't not think about the past or future; just don't let things that have happened or might happen get in the way of what is actually happening - your life.
By the way, the blog title is named after a Jack Johnson song. Also, sorry for the typos. Spellcheck isn't working.

16 May 2011

making history

August 23, 2010, about 3pm. It was the first day of school, this school year. And it was the end of the day, in my last class period. My day had been filled with mixed feelings of meeting and sizing up new teachers, filling my brand-new binders with notes and syllabi, and trying to find my way around and work out a new route for the year. And besides that, it was about 100 degrees outside. Just think Georgia in the summer. It's not a wonderful time to live in Georgia. The spring is lovely, but the summer is death. It was AP US History, known by the common acronym APUSH, and although I wanted to listen, the drama from the day and the heat had drained me. But suddenly my teacher ran outside of the room and didn't come back. We all looked at each other with strange looks. Why'd he just run out of the room? Where'd he go? Finally, after a couple minutes. He came back and we were too scared to ask what happened. Then he said "take out a sheet of paper and right down everything that just happened."
Nothing was to be heard but backpack zippers and pencil lead scraping across newly printed loose leaf paper. Then he asked a couple kids to read theirs aloud. They all generally sounded the same, but some used more flamboyant words than others.
he told us the reason why we did this was because we were making history and we had just recorded it. I doubt that anyone is going to actually dig for this evidence hundreds of years from now, but the point is the same. Every moment we are here we are making history.
Every moment we're here is important because it gives us one more time to do something, change something, or make something happen. That was all really redundant, I know.
But it's true. Every moment is history. In really intense stories from history, like Lincoln's assassination, every detail was important. And if someone was not there to record it, we would never know.
I'm going to make it a point to be the preserver of history. I always want to have a memory of every moment. I'm not going to be one of those freaks who videos my kid's every step (for the record I am never planning to, nor will ever have kids. Ever. Just wanted to clarify.), but just someone who makes notes of everyday life, because to me that's the most interesting stuff of all.
But first, I need to make some memories. That's what living life to the fullest is.

15 May 2011

large-scale oxford

Today was a cloudy and cold day. But even so, one of the seniors in our neighborhood - seniors make up a large part of our neighborhood - was having a huge graduation party and when me and my brother were outside we could hear the music blaring from their house. They were songs I knew, songs that evoked a happy, party sort of mood.
But still I wasn't very happy. I was actually a tad bit sad. I was actually a lot sad. Not because I was so disheartened that they were leaving, but because it reminded me that I only have one year left.
In some ways I'm ready to "leave the nest", like academically. I'm done with stupid teachers who would rather scrub toilets than teach, I'm done with stupid worksheets and busywork, and I'm done with pointless homework assignments and learning ridiculous things. I also want to travel the world, and I can't do that from my house.
But I also want to stay here because I like living here and because I like my family (most of the time) and because I like my life. I like how things are going and even though it can be hit with some bumps and rough edges, my life is pretty great. And if I had to leave it now I would be sad.
When I was really homesick in Oxford, I talked to one of the "chaperones", I guess you could say, and she said that I must have a pretty great life at home if I miss it this much when I'm away from it.
And I do. I live in a nice house, I don't have that many hardships other than school and I get to do whatever I want most of the time. It's a pretty wonderful lifestyle.
Sometimes I get really fed up with everything, but that's part of what teenagers do. We get really annoyed at everything and then we are fine the next minute. It's how we work. But most of the time I really like living my life here.
And now I feel like I have not done everything I could have done, even though I have had so much time. I wish I could take back the time that I had when I was wasting time doing nothing and reuse it now to do something impact-ful.
But I can't do anything about the past. I can do something about right now and about the future. I can make sure I can do everything I want to do.
A couple days before we left Oxford, everyone started freaking out and they were saying that they never got a chance to do this, or they wish they had done that. And fortunately, the only thing I didn't do was go punting. But other than that I did everything I wanted to do and more.
I'm going to challenge myself - and you, my faithful readers - to create a large-scale Oxford out of your life. That is, to pretend like you are on a vacation and you only have a finite amount of time to do everything you want to do. Not to think too much about the future, not to dwell on the past, but to live in the present - what is right now.

14 May 2011

holidays are life's little pleasures

First I want to start with a happy birthday for my mom! And it was a really nice day and we had all sorts of fun.
Last night we went out to dinner for her birthday and we also went to the AT&T store to get her an iPhone 4! We are progressing technologically! Me and my siblings divided up who was going to do what: I to teach her email and Twitter, my sister did general settings, texting, and the phone, and my brother got apps. We should work at the Apple store in the mall.
So today after we went to my brother's soccer game (which is actually a lot of fun), we came home and had a great dinner and had a lot of fun. But the thing is, we didn't do anything really extravagant, but it was still really fun. And we were all having a fun time and we were all together, which is hard because we are so busy and my dad travels.
Holidays and birthdays are there for us to sit back and enjoy. They are excuses to stop working and have some fun. So enjoy your next holiday or birthday and remember to let the good times roll!

13 May 2011

the great worldly epidemic

So yesterday a small disaster ensued . . Blogger was not working, which is completely NOT OK when I need to blog and so I technically finished my blog on May 12th, but according to the website it is the 13th, so technically it's still consecutive. Blogger clearly does not know how utterly important this is.
So today I had a rather interesting discussion with someone that I loathe in one of my classes. I was sitting with my my two guy friends and one girl friend and some other kid came over to talk to us too. But then he came over to our table and just started talking to us. It was just not what I needed.
So I tried ignoring him, which completely did not work, because his booming and domineering voice infiltrated my brain and interrupted my thoughts. He started talking about how "French is the ugliest language" because they sound ridiculous, which I was going to say nothing to because I knew he was trying to bother me. And the best thing to do when someone bothers you is to pretend like they're not. But then he said that Parisians are really snobby and that they all know English but they hate to use it and that they're all really rude.
I thought he had a bad experience there.
"Have you ever been to France?" I asked him.
He hadn't. So I asked him how he could make a snap judgement like that. How can you know if you've never been? I'm not assuming otherwise, because I've never been to France either. And then he started mumbling something about how snobby British people are too. And I can attest to the fact that they are not, even though I only went to one part of the UK for 3 weeks.
I asked him another question: "Are you a lazy, obese person? Do you eat McDonalds everyday? Do you have a thick western accent and dress like a cowboy? Because that's what Europeans think of us, and no one at this table fits those criteria."
He did this little condescending laugh and folded his arms, almost annoyed that I, a lowly creature compared to his highness, would ever challenge him. No one challenges him.
Then he asked me if I was from Canada and for a second i forgave him. But that was short-lived. Then he said "all the Canadian people say is 'eh'!" They really don't. I listen to Sports Center on ESPN with my dad and the Canadians cover hockey. Not once do they say "eh", and my aunt lived there - they don't say "eh" as much as we think, if they say it at all. That's like saying every other word that comes out of my mouth is "y'all" because I live in the south. I have never said "y'all" in my life unless it was sarcastic. No offense.
I kept on refuting his ignorance, but he just laughed and wouldn't believe me. That's OK. We'll let his girlfriend deal with that.
Then my teacher came by and looked at our table. I asked why he always glances at our group, and then he said "it's because he hates you." Yep, that's why. The kid that cleans his turtle tanks and feeds them. That sounds accurate.
I told him that perhaps it's because there's one too many at our table. And with that, he left. Without any chuckling.
I really got annoyed that people, who are even a year older than me, are so ignorant and so stereotypical. It's ridiculous. You cannot judge an entire race or an entire country based on one thing you might hear from a parochial, closed-minded simpleton. I'm really tired of people judging other people, and not even because of a race or something, but because of their looks, their first impression on you, or by who they hang out with. People are surprising and complex, and not one can be a quintessential representation of the other. I cannot define "an American", but I know that none of my friends are Americans, if you go based on common mis-perceptions from outsiders. I am not even close to what people think Americans are. I'm not obese, in fact I'm underweight; I have never been west of Minnesota; I have only ever ridden a horse once; I don't even own riding boots; I hate McDonalds and fast food in general.
This actually goes for a lot of people I know. Every one of my close friends and family members are nothing like the "American" that many people perceive.
I recently asked a question online to see what the biggest problem facing our world today is, and I personally think it's ignorance and closed-mind-ness. I sometimes think of it as an epidemic, with false ideas spreading as fast as viruses. But here are some of the things people said:
one person said word-for-word what I said (impressive!) and others said stereotypes and how the media portrays people; another said overpopulation, a more tangible problem, and others fall into the general category of faith and religion, which we won't delve into. We can never stop ourselves from judging things because that is how we assess our world. But we can change how we judge people. We cannot live in a happy environment if we are constantly judging people or being judged.
How can we progress if we can't leave the comfort of the boundaries of our own minds?


The following post was written on May 12:
Even when sometimes I can’t find anything to write about, I always seem to find something to write about. It’s one of my worries – will I have anything to say today? I read a book once and the husband told the wife that he was afraid they would run out of things to talk about. But after about 20 years, they never did.
I was logging onto my computer when I saw a very sad article about a young sports reporter who recently died in Atlanta today of unknown causes. I always hate when really promising individuals have their lives cut too short. It makes it even sadder when you hear about their families and how many kids they had.
One of the comments after the article said: tomorrow is not promised. Tell your loved ones you love them every day.
Sometimes we don’t always love our loved ones. Sometimes they really get on our nerves and they might do things that bother us a lot. But at the end of the day, what if we can’t get them back? What if we didn’t have the reassurance of knowing that they would be there when the next day started?
I think we forget about that. We just think that the next day will be better, and most often it is. But what if tomorrow does not come? That’s a little morbid but the thing is, it’s true. It goes hand-in-hand with living life to the fullest. Look at each day as reconciliation. Forgetting and recognizing the things you did wrong and then moving on. We will often get mad about stupid things and end the night with slamming doors.
Remember that we are here for a short while and we must keep our relationships alive by forgiving and giving people another chance.

11 May 2011

t.g.f.t. (thank God for tests)

My AP lang teacher gave us an article one time about learning things by taking a test. We all thought he was ridiculous. How can you learn from a test?
Today I learned (ha - that one was not even intentional) how to learn from a test. Today I was writing an essay about a feminist who fought for child labor rights in the 1910s. And even though I was taking a test, the speech she wrote was so compelling and it really made me think. Usually us kids, we don't have time to sit and ponder questions when we have 2 hours to write 3 essays. But I thought it was interesting. She was talking to women at a convention and she brought up the issue of children in the workforce. She said that the kids would work while we sleep to make clothes and furnishings for the adults. Little 6-year-olds were in charge of working large looms and machines. They were pulled out of school.
A lot of times people will say that they wish they lived "back then" because it was simpler, or because those were the "glory days". But I think I would live right now. I know, there are flaws in our world today, as we had to point out in another essay, but I would not have it another way. Imagine living in another time period without phones or even computers. Some of you probably did - I know I lived without a computer for a while until I discovered the PBS Kids website at age 7 - but now I can't imagine anything without them.
So thank you, test, for helping me remember what I am thankful for - this wacky, quirky, fun, complex society we live in.

10 May 2011

finding the cure

I am so utterly tired of testing. I have had more than 10 tests in the past week - AP exams, finals, state-mandated tests, and other useless tests that are just made because people who run this board of "education" got bored and decided to make up a bunch of tests.
Today was none other than the French exam. Four and a half hours. I should be paid to do this. Listening, reading, grammar, essay, and speaking. It was a grueling, silent French marathon in a desk. Borderline torture.
After that misery, I got an email from SurveyMonkey. They send me surveys when they have a new one, I take it, and they donate the money to an charity of my choice, in this case a hunger organization. Most of the surveys are political. "How do you feel about Policy X?" and "What's your position on the current Y affairs?" Those kinds of questions.
This survey, the one I took today, was all about racism.
We think racism is a thing of the past; some archaic, Civil War era white supremacist idea. But it's still prevalent today.
The only good thing is that the people at my school are not racist. I don't know one racist at my school. Perhaps there are some, but perhaps not. And my classes are filled with people from different countries, states, ethnicities and backgrounds. I even have a girl in my French class who moved here this year from Belgium!
One of the other survey questions was, "How can we combat racism?" I don't really like that they said "combat", but as my teacher says, "that's neither here nor there". Most of the answer choices said to enforce laws more heavily, or make worse punishments for violators of anti-racist laws.
We aren't supposed to force laws upon people. Laws don't prevent things from happening. They can hinder them, but they do not eliminate the possibility of something going wrong. What we need to be doing is educating people. Racism stems from ignorance, and the remedy for ignorance is education. If we can teach people about different people, they will understand each other better. And this leads to a happier world. Imagine if we all loved each other . . .
On Oprah one time, this guy was talking about racism. And he said that if her cut his arm and an African-American cut his arm, and they poured their blood into separate cups, no one could tell the difference between the two. While it's a little graphic, it's completely true.
One of the things that would be great to see is if everyone could accept each other as if we all had the same colored skin, or as if we were all the same. Because essentially we all are the same. We all come from the same place, and we all are humans. We even share common cultures, and sometimes, the same nation, state, or even neighborhood.
We have to find a remedy for one of our world's largest problems. And only we can fix the problem we made.

09 May 2011

shakespeare friends


Today's been a bad day too.

This week I have 4 standardized tests, and tomorrow is the infamous four and a half hour long French exam. And the next day I have the AP lang exam. And the next day I have a Georgia standardized test that all students must take.

I wish I was an exuberant and happy ball of sunshine and rainbows, but only storm clouds lurk right now.

Today as I checked my email for the fourteenth time today I got one from my aunt. She doesn't email me often, but she had a special request. She knew a girl who was reading Julius Caesar and she wanted to show her my JC comic.

You see, sometimes when I read Shakespeare plays, I make comics for them. I've made one for Julius Caesar and I've made one for Macbeth. Except it's not done yet. It probably won't be. But my Caesar one is pretty good, and it helped me study for the test. I got a 96!

Anyway, it took all of one weekend, and I worked for about 10 hours each day. But then it was finished and a masterpiece was born. Here are some pictures of it:

I really was proud of it. And sometimes when you're down, things you are proud of can make you feel a new sense of meaningfulness.

08 May 2011

to my mom

Today was Mother's Day. And we went to a really nice brunch at our country club. They had everything you could imagine and it was really amazing. But other than that it was a really rough day.
And rough days are what test moms like mine everyday.
When their daughters have problems, some moms don't know. Some don't care, or some are not supportive.
My mom always knows, and she always knows how to help. She's always there for me for everything. If I'm having a bad day, she'll help me out and listen to what I have to say. If I'm having a great day, she'll listen to everything I say, and sometimes I have a lot to say, and she always laughs at my funny stories.
If I forget something at home and I need it for school, she always comes through and all I have to do is go to the office and get it.
If I do something wrong, she never stays mad at me forever.
And a lot of times she makes me fancy things for lunch at school, like pasta with pesto and soup.
She always encourages me to do my best and she helps me reach my goals.
My mom is the best mom I know and I never tell her "thank you" as much as I should, or let her know how much I love her and can't do without her.
So if you're reading this mom, thank you for everything since I've been born. I love you and I could never live without you.

07 May 2011

happiness in print

Good evening, folks! This morning I took the SAT for the second time, we got my shoes for Costa Rica (and conveniently here is the link to see the shoes, should you wish), and the WiFi is working again!
I have a feeling that this round of SATs were better than last time - the school was nicer than the other place and we got more breaks - 3 minutes to wolf down whatever food you might have brought and then flush it out of your throat with a quick, vigorous gulp of lukewarm water. Yum.
The first part on the "new SAT" is the essay, and it was on a topic I excelled in: happiness.
After all, I come here every night and preach to you about happiness, and sometimes the lack of happiness.
So it went somewhere along the lines of having limits and happiness. When I thought about it, I immediately thought of Walt Whitman and Thoreau and their carefree, limitless lifestyles. They must have loved it. But when I continued to think about it, limits are what keep us happy.
We are people, and people do not really think in terms of infinite in anything. I listened to a lecture on it in Oxford and it was over my head. Even in math, the only thing we ever say about infinity is that it exists and that we use this ∞ symbol for it. We can't understand something being infinite or never ending.
So we set limits for ourselves and we cannot break those limits and still be happy. I mean, it's good to break the routine every once in a while, but not too often. Think of Lord of the Flies, a paradise gone wrong. Or think what would happen if you didn't have to go to school or your job. I couldn't even take the snow week in January. That was rough. And yet it had been our dream to do whatever we want and never go to school. But by Thursday, we all wanted to go back.
So yeah, it's important to do different things. But complete freedom and no guidance will leave us lost and confused. And that's certainly not happy.

06 May 2011

the big kahuna: a finished chapter

Well, here it is. Another day in history - literally - come and gone. Today was the AP test for US history, and now we are officially done, except for a project later on.
Anyway, lately I have been feeling pretty unlucky. Nothing seems to go right, and I was really hoping to get further in the drawing contest to win a scholarship. But no.
But today, something sensational happened.
So I was taking the AP test - duh. And we had just finished the multiple choice section of 80 questions. And then we got a 5 minute break in which everyone chatted ferociously about the questions: "ok, that question about so-and-so, whad'ya put?" We were like animals.
Eventually we had to start the grueling 2 hour long essay time. 3 essays, 2 hours. Blehck. The DBQ (document based question; like a research paper with a question and the sources given to you) is first, and we usually have 45 minutes. We are always dying to know what the topic is. And since it's the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War I thought the Civil War would be a good topic for the DBQ. But the College Board wanted to give us a hard time, and for the first time in history (ha ha), the DBQ was on the 1960s and 1970s. They have never gone passed the fifties, I believe. But there's a first for everything, right?
Lat night while I was studying I was watching those presidents videos. And one of the last ones I watched was Richard Nixon. And guess what? It had to do with Nixon. I was so utterly happy. And i nailed it.

So when it really matters, sometimes we can luck out. And that's when we are most happy.

05 May 2011

the mad rush

Hello. Right now I’m studying like a mad freak for the “big kahuna”, which is now less than 7 hours away. I wasn’t freaking out before, but I am now. Just to let you know, this might be the lamest blog post of the year because I really just have to study. But hard work pays off, and in July I will have a happy post about my wonderful AP scores – let’s hope.

So I have been studying sans cesse for these exams, mosty this one because the other two don’t test facts, they just test strategies. But we’ll leave those for next week…

So yeah, I’m sorry for the lameness. But I hope this inspires you to do better yourselves.

04 May 2011

beauty is in the eye of the beholder

It's easy to win; you feel good, so we think that winning is always better than losing. But when we lose, we learn a lesson. We learn many things from losing.

A while ago I entered the a contest for Google, and I found out today that I didn't become one of the finalists. I worked really really hard on it for like 2 months. And I worked every day and made sure everything was perfect. Here is a picture of it:

So I worked really hard. And this time I was hoping to make it to the next round and hopefully win a scholarship. But I didn't. And last year, when the same thing happened, I got really upset.

I knew it was coming. I knew that out of 107,000 drawings mine would not be chosen. But the thing is, I thought it was really good.

And just because a contest and some judges told me it wasn't "good enough" doesn't mean I have to believe them.

Because I am confident in my work. And I didn't make that to win a scholarship, I made it because I like to draw and I wanted to see what I could make out of the Google logo. And I had fun doing it.
So honestly, I'm really shocked and sad that I didn't even become a base finalist. But there is nothing I can do about it now. And I'm not going to say it's "their loss". It's unfortunate, but I can't let the opinions of some judges get in the way of me pursuing what I like to do. If I wrote a song and everyone hated it, but I loved it, would I stop writing music forever? Probably not. It's like when people write controversial books or if presidents make really controversial decisions. Will they stop writing books or stop being politicians? Probably not.

Don't let someone else's opinion get in the way of your pursuing what you love. As long as you are happy with what you are doing, that's all that matters.

That's why if I say I like a Vermeer, and someone else hates it, that's because everyone has their own idea of a good painting, or a good sculpture. Modern artists are not bad because some of their work looks like a kindergartner could have whipped it up in 5 minutes. They like what they do and that's all you ever should worry about.

03 May 2011

reverence for presidents

A couple weeks ago our AP Lang class read part of "Reverence for Life" by Albert Schweitzer. This essay is about having respect for even the smallest and peskiest living things, like bugs and weeds.
As you perhaps know, the day after tomorrow is the "big kahuna" - the AP US History test. And the pressure is completely on because last year I was just hoping to pass but since I got a 5, I have to get a 5 again. Or else I will hate myself.
So I decided to commit the nerdiest act I have yet - I bought the History Channel's special 8-[art feature on all of the presidents. My teacher has these videos and played them in class and I always liked them. So I used part of my iTunes gift card and I bought myself 8+ hours of historical footage. Nerd-alert!
But I like watching them, so it's all good.
They start with Washington of course, and they proceed through like that. I have watched up to Grover Cleveland (his first term, not his second non-consecutive term). And when I watch all of these segments on each president, I realize how hard each decision is - to go to war, to send the troops, to sign the treaty, to intervene, to drop the bomb - or not. And how difficult it is to figure out the right strategy to, say, get the Soviet missiles out of Cuba. Or how to confront the American public about the abysmal state of the economy in the country's worst depression. Or even how to understand the language and nature of politics themselves.
Various sources cite the following presidents as in the top 10 (generally, some are ties): Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Polk, Lincoln (said to be the best), both Roosevelts, Wilson, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan.
The worst are said to be: W. Harrison, Tyler, Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan (dubbed the worst president), A. Johnson, Grant, Garfield, Harding, B. Harrison, Coolidge, Hoover, Nixon, Carter, and Bush (the one we just had). Our current president, Obama, is ranked in 2 polls as around 14 or 15 out of 44.
We say the best are American heroes. They are the glory of the country. We are proud to say Lincoln held the country together and abolished slavery. We are happy to be the country whose president saved the western hemisphere from nuclear destruction. And we are proud to say that our first president held our fragile and vulnerably new nation together and withstood war, conflicting beliefs, and being the underdogs. We were the little nation that could - and did.
But the other presidents in between - the ones when you find yourself saying, "We had a president Arthur? Was there ever a James Garfield? Or a William Henry Harrison? Well, I don't respect you to know the last two - they served for less than a year (Harrison served a month).
But each had his own accomplishment that nevertheless furthered our country. Let's see: James Madison ends the War of 1812. James Monroe comes up with the Missouri Compromise to please as many people as he can - abolitionists and slaveholders. William Henry Harrison wanted to please the American people so much that he gave the longest inaugural address, caught pneumonia, and died in office. John Tyler annexed Texas. Chester Arthur reversed his ways and built up the Navy. Rutherford Hayes pushed for education reform and civil service reform. Lyndon Johnson had an entire domestic program dedicated to helping the poor and disadvantaged. Gerald Ford got us out of Vietnam. George W Bush, who ranks low on many historian polls, created the Department of Homeland Security. Carter, who had a heart of gold but less skill at politics, tried endlessly to get two rival nations to make peace. Even the worst president, historians claim, secretly bought several slaves and set them free in the north.
I have reverence for all the presidents. They put their careers, their lives, and their time on the line so that we can live our lives the way the Founding Fathers hoped our country would be. Some people aren't suited for the job. Some weren't even meant to become presidents and learned immediately that they were to handle a nation for the next 4 years of their lives.
They are men - and hopefully someday, women - who try their hardest to do what they think is right for the country. And we can only ask for the best someone can do.

* Also, today is my grandpa's birthday! He and my grandma are faithful readers of this fine web publication. Happy Birthday!

02 May 2011

drop off your sandbags here

I have noticed that blogs all have a certain tone - sardonic, somewhat self-deprecating in certain blogs, and at times, filled with screwball comedy. Blogs are heartfelt and true, the way writing should be.
Here is the moral of my post: Grievances are better on paper than in the heart.
You see, today has been a mathematical day. First, I vanquished math. Then, I was confused by math. And ultimately, math vanquished me. Now tell me something I don't know.
Here is the good part: I got an A on my math quiz! Hooray! The glory moment I had worked so hard to live to see!
Glory only lasts so long.
In class we got some new foolishness. And apparently there's a test on it soon. So this came with me to my tutor. And as we were doing it, I realized I didn't know as much as I thought I did. And we had to get down to the basics of logarithms to understand it.
But I didn't know what he was talking about. Was this English? Was this even legal math?
I told him I didn't know it. And so we would have to review it. I didn't know the basic properties of logarithms. I can't believe I am doing them but I don't even know what I am doing. I got so mad and sad and I just hated everything.
The Battle of Math at Fort Tutoring had been my defeat. And so fall my spirits.
So I decided that I was going to write down what I felt. And just writing it down, not sending it to anyone (yet...) pulled the negativity right out of me and I felt more at peace and ready to conquer the problem.

You can't fly out in your hot air balloon if you don't drop your sandbags.

01 May 2011


Happy Sunday folks!
A relaxing end to a relaxing weekend. But I have to say that in 12 hours when the first exam starts, that will all change. It's craziness.
Today we finished the day in a most wonderful way - Frisbee! After a day of studying for history, we went outside and played. And even thought I knew I had to study, sometimes we have to force ourselves to go outside and enjoy the nice weather. Because in a few months we can't. You see, it gets to be in the 100s by next month or the month after that, and you can't go outside in such ridiculous weather. We can barely go to the end of the driveway to get the mail before we start sweating. You can only walk outside to the car to drive to the pool and walk outside from the pool to the car. Those are the options.
So we made sure that we got out before the sun released its wrath for about 5 months. And we had a fabulous time. Sweating was never so much fun.
I think too many people think that getting active has to be a chore. That's when it becomes not-fun. But when you play while you are active, it becomes much more fun. That's why kids are usually so fit, because they love to run around. They don't go to the gym and lift weights, but they get a lot of exercise - more than the average American.
And happiness is related to exercise. It helps improve not only your physical health, but your mental health - it is a great way to relieve stress and remedy depression.
If you don't believe me, just go and try it for yourself. Trust me, it works.