Category: Nostalgia


Even though I’m not graduating until the end of this month, a lot of my teachers have been taking care of end of the year things. One of those teachers is my orchestra director. Her brilliant end-of-the-year idea for this year was a “banquet” of sorts.

At this banquet, we got to eat food (fortunately) and listen to everyone who qualified for the State Solos & Ensambles String Instruments Competition… and the duet that my friend and I did at the Region Competition… Everyone else might have received a superior rating and gone on the state to receive  superior ratings, but Kaitlyn and I still got a superior rating…. just because it was a 1- instead of a 1….

I’m not actually in any way disappointed by this rating because last year my ensamble got a 3-, which is like saying, “Meh, you were okay.”

Anyway, we used this banquet as our awards assembly instead of doing it all at our final concert because our director really hates crying in front of 150 people. This had to have been my favorite awards assembly. I actually got a nice amount of awards that I’ve been working hard for four years to deserve.

outstanding

 

The bottom piece of paper was an award given to me by the viola section called the “Best Faces Whilst Playing” award. This is why I never put videos of me playing my violin where my face is visible on the internet. It doesn’t really look pleasant…

The next award is a result of my lettering in Orchestra for this year. There was actually a lot of stuff I had to do for this one. The requirements were to take Orchestra all three trimesters during the year and then I also got those three little boxes at the bottom of the picture. One of them is the lettering pin, the other three are a bronze, silver, and gold star. I had to have repeated the requirements for lettering for every year I was in high school. This meant that I had to remember back over four years to all the things I’d done with the orchestra, which is what spurred this series of posts.

The Director’s Choice Award was given to a few of the students who had consistently shown up early to events to set up all our chairs. I always show up to things early, so I just always helped set things up.

The Certificate of Excellence was for participating in the Solo & Ensamble region competition.

The Outstanding Senior Musician Award was actually something that my classmates voted on. There are only five seniors in our Orchestra, so it wouldn’t have been too hard to get the majority of the votes, but I still feel pretty loved by those guys. We’ve been in Orchestra together since the sixth grade and it’s going to be hard to go to different colleges than ALL OF THEM next year. It’s actually kind of amazing how many different colleges we’re spreading ourselves out amongst.

For being a graduating senior, I got the pendant in the bottom left of the picture. I also got a letter from our director, but I stuck it on my bookshelf and didn’t want to go get it. It’s nice to go to an awards assembly where you actually get awards, you have no idea.

It’s a little hard for me to remember all the things I’ve done in Orchestra, but I’ll try.

I don’t remember a lot about the first year I played because I was learning after school and I didn’t know any of the people there. I don’t really remember any of the people who went except for a few who are definitely not my friends any more. My second year playing, I had to retake beginning orchestra because they wouldn’t let a 6th grader into the 7th grade class.

Between 7th and 8th grade, we lost a lot of our grade, though there were still probably ten. 8th grade was when Orchestra really got fun because we got to mix in with the kids who were a year older than us. This meant that the difficultly level of the music jumped up a step. The younger kids definitely struggled, but it ended up making us better players and we were used to hard work when we got to high school.

Our first year in high school was a little weird because our director was really sick and didn’t make it to school almost half the time and we were left to fend for ourselves. Fortunately, we had a few really awesome seniors who could handle us and we still learned a lot. My junior year was also really awesome because we had a few really fun seniors and the sophomores were willing to work, but still really fun. Our director probably didn’t think so, but we did a lot of crazy things.

This year has been a little bit different because our director has focused so much on taking us up a notch that we haven’t really had time to have fun together. There were also about a million and a half sophomores this year, which greatly out-numbers the five seniors and eight juniors. It’s been fun nonetheless. Orchestra is the only class that I’ve really felt ownership over. At the beginning of the year, I felt really at home in the school in general because I was a senior, but that faded away as I’ve had to focus on school, but in Orchestra I still feel like this year is mine. The feeling has been intensified by the fact that I actually got awards at an award assembly thing. I just never get that.

If you want to read the rest of this bizarre blogpost series, you can start HERE.

 

First episode —> here.

During the last three or so weeks, I have had the privilege of working with some of my fellow students as student director of the school play. I did get to do a little directing, but for the most part, I assisted the actual directors in whatever they needed me to do, whether that be filling in for an actor who couldn’t make it to the rehearsal or jotting down notes to be used later. It was a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I wanted to be involved with the play when I heard what it was going to be, a rendition of The Hound of the Baskervilles, original by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, though I was originally anticipating Sense and Sensibility, which would have been SO AWESOME. I wouldn’t have been okay with anything less than Sherlock Holmes, though.

Anyway, the combination of getting to hang out with a bunch of my friends for nine hours every week, not having to ride the bus home, and getting to help put on a fantastic production was worth all the time I spent away from my Chemistry homework. It’s really interesting, though, that I’m almost not sad to see this go. It was a lot of work compressed into a very short amount of time, during a period of my life where I was experiencing a lot of stress from school that I’ve never experienced before. It was a lot of fun, but I’m glad that it’s over now so that I can have physical therapy on days other than Mondays. Not that Mondays were particularly horrible or anything, but there is this old guy who goes to therapy on Mondays at the same time as I have been and he disrupts the flow of the physical therapy place just enough that I feel less… relaxed, in a way. He’s probably super nice, but… whatever.

Not to mention, during the play, I got to work with our school’s new drama teacher and a very knowledgeable friend of his. Everyone loved our last drama teacher, including me, but there’s just something about our new guy that I like a lot. First of all, we just call him Chris because… I don’t know, that’s just his name and we’re allowed to call him that. I’m always a fan of teachers who let us call them by their name because I feel like it lets them accept the students as capable almost-adults and I really like it when teachers treat me like I’m an eighteen and a half year old senior rather than a fifteen year old sophomore.

Our former drama teacher was really cool and he knew a lot about teaching through experience and how to run the auditorium, but Chris seems just as capable to me and his fresh perspective has already helped our school in a way I never thought was possible. Our auditorium is so extremely old and… let’s just say “poorly built.” Having been performing on it since I was in the sixth or seventh grade, I have gotten used to the fact that it’s impossible to project any sound at all off that thing. In order to make the sound travel to the back of the house, we had to cram almost 100 orchestra students onto the stage with a sound shell behind and play our absolute loudest. Yet Chris and his friend, Tim, set up a pretty simple sound system that allowed our actors’ voices to be heard loud and clear in the lobby without even having to tape microphones to their faces.

I guess you’d have to be a performing arts student at my high school to understand what a big deal it is to be able to hear anything at all in our auditorium, but believe me, this feat is no small accomplishment.

Also, spending a lot of time backstage just felt so comfortable to me. I did a lot of moving from end of the stage to the other, making sure that people had what they needed and being there in case something happened that I could help with. It just seemed like a completely different environment to me. I spent a trimester in the stage tech class my sophomore year with our former drama teacher and it just seemed like a strange place where I stayed out of the way and only did what I was told. It could just be that I was a sophomore, unfamiliar with the whole high school thing, but Chris has turned our auditorium into a place that feels more like a home than the well-oiled machine that it was when I was a sophomore.

There was a huge class and everyone had a specific job they were in charge of doing (mine was sweeping the stage…. fun stuff) and the stage was a place to be respected and continually tip-toed around. The drama class seemed to be filled with serious-type people who didn’t really accept outsiders into their little world.

It’s a little hard for me to explain without going into a tedious amount of detail, but there you go.

Yesterday morning, I took the AP Chemistry test, the only test I’ve ever felt anxious about, believe it or not. The ACT didn’t seem particularly important to me because my brother got a decent score on it and he doesn’t care about anything. I’m not allowed to talk about it, really, but I think it went better than every scenario that my anxiety thought up for me during the weeks leading up to it. Today in class was a completely different atmosphere than it was. Before, we were studying and preparing like mad and now, for the last month of school, we aren’t going to be doing anything rigorous at all. We’ve already learned everything that the text book had to offer, so all the learning we’ll be doing will be purely experimental.

This does mean that we’ll have to go to school an hour early every Tuesday and Monday, but we get to bring food and we’ll be potentially setting things on fire or blowing things up, which is enough to excite our class into waking up at whatever time our teacher wants us to. Going to school an hour earlier doesn’t really bother me as it actually means that I get to sleep in fifteen minutes longer than when I have to ride the bus.

Anyway, I’ve talked about AP Chemistry a lot in past posts, so I won’t go into great detail, but it’s been an incredible journey. Hopefully I won’t totally chicken out of Chemistry classes in the future. It’s an awesome field and I’ve always had this crazy dream of being a scientist but I’ve never had the guts to pursue it until now. Pretty much my only dream at this point is to get a job where I can wear a lab coat all the time. I don’t care what field of science it’s in. I’ve been doing Chemistry for two years now and it’s been super duper fun, but I also can’t wait to get back into doing other types of science. Human biology was fun, so maybe I can mix that in with my Chemistry and hope it’s soluble (lame chemistry joke).

This may seem like the blog post where a series of blog posts reminiscing about the past would start, but I worked my way backward chronologically. There is no real reason for it, but the first post is here if anyone’s interested.

I remember a lot of things about elementary school. More than I remember about middle school for sure.  My memory becomes more fuzzy as I progress beyond elementary school, for some reason.

My kindergarten teacher was a frightening woman. She retired after that year, so it may very well be that she’s dead at this point. Anyway, I remember getting into a lot of trouble because I didn’t want to focus. I know that a lot of people have this problem, but my particular brand sprung from the fact that I already knew how to read and write. I was one of the unlucky children whose birthday fell just after the deadline for school, so I’ve always been six months to a year older than many of the kids in my grade. Counting and such things was easy for me, though after I get up to sixty or so, the words I’m saying begin to get muddled and I often forget where I am and what comes next. That hasn’t changed in the least. It is particularly annoying when I’m knitting and have to count the stitches. I’ll get most of the way through, forget where I am, and then I have to restart several times.

I wasn’t too good at math, but I somehow got it into my head that everything was a race. I was always the first one to finish my work or other such activity. This afflicts me now with bad handwriting and an inability to do anything slowly. I probably get lower scores than I could because I just can’t stop to check to make sure I’ve got the correct answer, I just go with the answer that I arrive at first. It really is quite horrible, but 13 years of public school has only ingrained the habit.

I still remember what we did on the first day of school in my first grade year, who I sat by, and what I first said to my teacher. I sat next to Aaron Young and Jake Tolman and we colored a picture of a school bus with children. I told my teacher my name and I told her that I hoped she would make her class interesting. It almost makes me want one of my teachers to make us color something on my last day of school so that it will make something of a circle. The first grade is something of a lonely memory for me. I really loved it and I learned a lot more than they would let me in Kindergarten, but I don’t remember having any friends. I mean, everyone in the class stuck together for the most part, but I only remember attaching myself to the big groups of kids on the playground who were playing games.

The second grade became a bit less lonely, though I still don’t think I really had a close friend. That teacher was also somewhat scary, though I know her now and she’s really friendly. Unfortunately, I was always getting into trouble with her because I discovered chapter books and wouldn’t put them down. One thing that always bugs me about the second grade was that no matter how many times I reported bullying, myself as the subject or others, I was lead to believe that it was my own fault and that I had to deal with it. This ended up being good for me, as I learned really early on how to deal with bullies, but I have always believed that no matter what stupid, horrible situation you get yourself in, you can always go to someone for help.

I, for one, feel safer knowing that there are policemen and administrators and such people. Whenever I have a health class, some lady always comes to the class to teach us about bullying and the ever-present problem that it is. Reporting is always listed among the solutions and I just feel like my teacher and the administration wasn’t doing their job. Now, ten years later, the same kids are bullying the same victims they had back in elementary school and I think it sucks that adults whose job it is to prevent such things were so ineffective at prevention. Bullying sucks so much that I don’t even want to get into it. I’ll be writing all night and I have Chemistry homework.

Anyway, my situation vastly improved in the third grade. I had a few close friends that I was actually socializing with, though I’m not sure I did it with any degree of grace. Not only that, but our class had only 14 people in it. We were crammed into this extra room that they had been using as storage and for our teacher, we got the principal. Because of his principal duties, we were given a lot of responsibility. We were given a lesson and then some unsupervised time to finish the assignments on that lesson. We had a schedule every day that we stuck to, even when our teacher couldn’t show up to class.

This sounds like a horrible, terrible idea now that I look back on it, but we handled it so well that I’m a little suspicious that my memory of it isn’t tainted by how cool I thought I was. Nevertheless, I remember doing a lot of individual studying and more than a few fun activities. For this extra, little class, they had pulled the smartest kids out of the other classes because there wasn’t enough room for our grade to fit into two classrooms. The result was that it took us a lot less time to learn the things that the normal kids were learning and because of the flexibility of our teacher, we got to do a lot of activities that would never have happened with a normal class.

I remember there were a lot of days we stayed after school to do an activity that we’d earned. We got to run around the building (which wasn’t allowed) and we got to play outside when there wasn’t anyone else out there. We even went hiking at one point. We did so many things for no other reason except that they were fun and we learned so much stuff that I wasn’t aware of. This year let me love school like many other kids my age didn’t. They still thought of school as bondage, while I was free to do so many things.

The next year was a little bit of a let down. I was once again in a normal sized classroom with a rather large sized class. Not to mention I was at a social disadvantage again, having been kept away from most of my peers for a year. I spent the year making new friends and getting into more trouble, though less than I did in the second grade. The four grade did agree with me in that there was a focus on reading that hadn’t really been present in my other classes. We read so many great books that I still love to read. Some of them were books that were definitely not our general reading level and I loved that we weren’t reading books based on what normal kids could understand at that point.

The fifth grade was possibly the best year besides the third grade. They once again didn’t have enough room for our grade, but this time, they made a split class, half fourth graders and half fifth graders. I would have guessed that it would slow us down quite a bit, but it most definitely didn’t. I remember a lot of the class time involved my fifth grade classmates set to learn something while the teacher worked with the younger kids. For the most part, this was done while we were learning grammar. Perhaps this is the reason why kids struggled with grammar, but I had made a new friend who was as avid a reader as I was. We spent the entire year getting 100% scores on every grammar assignment we did. Not to mention, the short stories we had to write were fantastic and more than a little bit genius.

For math, another teacher would work with the fourth graders while our teacher worked with us. In no way helping my inability to work slowly, every exercise was a game and involved candy for the winners. I learned how to subtract numbers with decimals so well that I could win every time, which meant a lot of candy for me. Not only that, but for some reason, I developed a long-abiding love for long division. I don’t get to do it a lot now, but I still think it’s the coolest. We did a lot of basic math problems with really long numbers, so much so that I rarely do simple math with a calculator. If I’m working on an assignment or a test and I come across a problem that requires adding or subtracting big numbers, I don’t waste time putting my pencil down to grab my calculator. Most of the time, I’m moving fast enough that I’ll have the problem worked out in the margins of the page before I even think about it.

Science, however, was my favorite part of the fifth grade. If you’ve read any of the episodes previous to this one, you’ll know how much I adore science. The fifth grade was one of the first times where my teacher took us outside and actually showed us science in action. We collected leaves and rocks, we predicted the weather, we built our own tools. Sometimes we just walked outside for the heck of it, appreciating photosynthesis or re-enacting cowboys v.s. indians battles.

It set me up to being disappointed in science classes until I got to Earth Systems in the ninth grade, but it gave me enough curiosity about everything to keep me occupied.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I didn’t transition well after elementary school, but I think it was mostly because learning is viewed differently the closer you get to high school. Suddenly all the teachers want to do is make sure you know the stuff you’ll need to know to make it to high school and survive. There were few who were actually teaching because what they had to say was interesting.

I wish kids could experience learning for the sake of learning more often. If they could look at a class with how much stuff they could know in mind rather than what kind of credit requirement it will fill or what kind of grade they could get out of it, they would be much more motivated to succeed. The motivation of a grade, a half credit, and a step toward graduation is compelling and all, but it could possibly be instilling a hatred of learning on those who experience it.

Next episode in the series.

Start from the beginning of this very incoherent series here.

Intermediate School is sixth and seventh grade for me. To be honest, I really don’t remember a lot of stuff that happened during this period. None of the subjects were really that exciting and none of the teachers particularly liked me. Sometimes, if I’m trying to understand how normal people perceive going to school every day, I just (try to) remember what the sixth and seventh grade were like for me. It really wasn’t all that special and the few specific moments I can remember about it were things that were made awesome by the people I was hanging out with.

One significant thing I remember is from my seventh grade year. During the second trimester, I was a library aide for the hour after lunch. I normally spent my lunch times in the library anyway, so this trimester was very relaxing for me because I didn’t have to leave the library when the bell rang like everyone else. The other library aide and I divided the library into two parts so that putting the returned books away wouldn’t take so stinking long. Kaitlyn took the reference section and the section of books organized in the Dewey Decimal System while I was in charge of the fiction section. I particularly liked this because the books were in order of last name and actually looked like a decent set of bookshelves while the other section looked like… well, it looked like what it was, a bunch of scrawny, starved-looking books that had no particular average size or solid color scheme.

We got pretty darn good at putting books away so that it only took us fifteen minutes to put the fifty or so books on average back on the shelves. Our school librarian was also the librarian for the middle school, so he left right after lunch. This meant that the only supervision we had was the lady who worked in the copy room next door. She usually had a lot of work to do, so we were on our own.

Mostly we just sat there reading or doing homework, but it was so nice not to have to do anything for an hour. I feel like some of my class periods now are like that, but if I had space for it, I would have added in a study period. It would have come in handy for this year. AP Chemistry gives me so much homework that sometimes I’m a terrible person and work on it during Seminary. It isn’t that I don’t have time to do it at home… but I kind of don’t. I get home around 6:30 these days. Between eating dinner and doing whatever my mom wants me to do (and goofing off on the internet and blogging), I usually only have an hour or so for homework and this stupid Chemistry homework takes forever.

Anyway, that’s about all I can say about intermediate school. I seriously don’t even remember who most of my friends were besides a few people. Sometimes I wish I could remember better because I know that I went to the same school as tons of my friends now and they sometimes say stuff they remember about me from intermediate school, but I can’t remember if I knew them or if I even liked them.

One of the other classes I remember well was my “Integrated Science” class… whatever that is supposed to mean. I remember it because, when I got to highschool, that teacher had switched and taught my Human Biology class. There were a lot of things that he did the same and it reminded me of that class. I remember getting nosebleeds in his class a lot, strangely. Always during tests too. I got sick a few times in there as well. Perhaps my body was telling me something?

I absolutely adored Human Biology as well as my teacher. He’s a pretty cool guy. When I got to highschool, I could tell he liked teaching that level a lot more than he liked teaching thirteen-year-olds. Not to mention he really likes science. When my friend Kayla and I had to do Human Anatomy and Physiology for the Science Olympiad, we went to ask him if he had any reference material for us to study and he got really excited about helping us because he wasn’t teaching human biology any more and he said that he really missed it. So we went to him when we had questions and he would spend all this time explaining things to us.

Actually, the Monday after our State competition, he was talking to my chemistry teacher about something and Science Olympiad came up, so he asked me how we did and I was just telling him about all the cool, parts of a dead guy we got to see and he geeked out pretty hard. For some reason not very many people were excited by actual brains and kidneys and stuff. I’m not sure why people don’t think that’s awesome.

One more thing, seeing as I’m already way off topic; whenever I type out high school, sometimes Google Chrome tells me that it isn’t grammatically correct and that I have to type it like “highschool.” So which way is used when? I’m a little confused. You don’t write the word squished up like that when you type elementary school. Elementaryschool. See, Chrome says it’s wrong…. Maybe I’ll ask my English teacher tomorrow…

Next episode  in the series.

The first “episode” in this series can be found here.

Just for the sake of clarification, in our school district, sixth and seventh grades are combined in what we call “intermediate school”, Eighth and Ninth grades are “middle school” and Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth are high school. That’s kind of different than what most school districts do.

As it was for most every other kid on the planet, middle school (or junior high school) was rough for me. I went through the same transition as everyone else did, though I don’t think some of the kids my age have finished transitioning yet.

In the eighth grade, I had what I like to call the “hipster attitude.”

The hipster attitude is that attitude that makes you think that everything you do needs to be different from what everyone else is doing. I liked to read, so I read in situations where people would definitely not be reading (in my case, school dances or assemblies). I was also rather a know it all. When I knew about something, I made sure people knew that I knew it. It was probably a really obnoxious stage for my teachers because it was a little bit grating how I treated my classmates and associates.

Despite the reading thing, this was probably the only year where I purposefully tried to make friends with questionable people because I knew they were doing things that set them apart from the rest of the kids. They weren’t positive things, but I really didn’t care. I got bad grades (bad grades for me are like B’s and C’s… because I’m such a rebel), I wore giant hoodies, I did everything I could to rebel, though now that I think about it, I barely nudged up against the line. I didn’t do drugs or swear or sluff class or even openly disagree with my teachers. I was just pretty much a jerk to people. I don’t think they remember that now, but I certainly remember it and I feel horrible about it.

Anyway, things looked up in the ninth grade. I embraced my nerd side, which had been hanging out around the edges. I realized that learning was cool, teachers were actually real people with interesting ideas and things to say besides what was in the text book, and I realized that people didn’t have to know that I knew stuff for me to be smart. For the longest time, I thought being smart was a garment that I had to wear when it’s really just succeeding at life. Sometimes I like to know things about something someone is talking about and not saying to. I just love knowing that I know stuff and that I can make connections to things and people.

After I figured out that learning was cool, I inserted myself into the group of friends I have now. We sang songs during lunch every day, we sat around and read, we talked about the ideas that we had and all the things we had experienced and I just remember loving it so much. I loved it in the way that I was happy for once in my life. The last several years of my life had been about becoming okay with everything that was never going to be alright.

That’s the true key to happiness. It isn’t about succeeding and it isn’t about being okay with what or who you are. It’s knowing there there are things about you that you hate and knowing that in some respects, you’re never going to be okay and then shoving that all into the bottom of your bag and enjoying yourself despite that.

I’m definitely not perfect at it, but I’m aware of how much I try to become good at it. It seems like hundreds of times a day, I take a moment to think about everything that isn’t okay, everything I hate about living, everything that doesn’t make me happy; then I push it away and move on to the next fun thing I get to do. Sometimes that thing is decidedly not fun, like AP Chemistry class (which I love dearly). The things I have to do in that class are ridiculous and hard and I’ve been struggling all year, but it’s so great. I think of the people I get to do it with and I think of the new understanding of the physical world that I will gain when I finally understand what we’ve been learning for weeks.

I always have a hard time understanding why people are always complaining about how hard or boring something is until I stand back to look at it and realize that it is hard and boring. Then, I realize that I love it because it’s boring. When I’m doing something boring, I let my mind wander away and I just think about things. Sometimes I like just thinking about nothing. Boring things have always been restful to me. Hard things, on the other hand, are invigorating. a few hours ago, I finished ten book assignments and a practice test for AP Chemistry. They were hard and they were time consuming. I’ve been sitting in the same spot all day trying to finish them. It was so awesome. Every new equations I had to balance presented another puzzle for my mind to shift through and now that I’m done, I have four pieces of paper covered in writing that tells me that I’ve accomplished something.

Becoming happy about life for me was to learn to love all the stuff that sucks about it. That’s one of the reasons I’m writing this series of blog posts. It’s because feeling nostalgic sucks so bad, but I love it. I love looking back at everything in my past and hurting because it’s over, but happy that it happened and that I have those memories to play back whenever I want to. If you can learn to love the things that you hate the most about life, suddenly life becomes filled with all the things you love.

Every feeling of happiness you have will be tipped with pain because life is so tedious and dull and altogether not worth it, yet it’s so worth it that you won’t want to wait until you wake up the next morning to face another horrible day and you won’t be able to wait until the day is over so that you can go to sleep and dream those crazy dreams that don’t makes sense.

Next episode in the series.

As can be deduced by the title, this isn’t the only post. The first is found here.

Switching schools never really brought out the best in me, but this switch was probably the most worrisome. Every year since the fifth or sixth grade, my teachers had been telling me that high school was going to be horrible so I’d best get used to everything being hard. I’ve always hated when adults used fear to control children. It’s nice for those kids who take reality checks in stride and adjust their behavior appropriately in preparation, but those of us who are… prone to overreacting, take those warnings and feed them until they become huge, ugly monsters that scratch away at you from the inside until you have nothing left inside but suspicion and paranoia…

You think I’m exaggerating, but I can’t walk down a sidewalk within a mile of anyone else without shouting “STRANGER DANGER” in my head a thousand times a second.

Anyhow, I went into my first year at the local high school thinking that I was going to be living in Hell for three years. It didn’t take very long for me to discover that I’d been constantly lied to. With the exception of my math classes (as always), I was in love with high school. There were so many things I liked about it, I wasn’t sure if the rest of public school hadn’t been an elaborate joke. Fortunately, I don’t have to do it in reverse order or I think I would go mad.

For one thing, the environment was a lot more relaxed than middle school. They don’t make as big of a deal about being late, which may not be such a great thing, but it takes away a little of the feeling of being rushed. Not to mention if you get the teachers to like you, you can get a lot of your tardies… ignored. Not to say that they like it when you’re tardy, they just don’t take down your name there in the hallway and make you come up with a reason for being late. In middle school, they gave us “points” when we were late to class and if you had a certain amount of points, stuff would happen.

I wouldn’t imagine it to be the same for every high school, but I guess that’s the advantage of living in a less-populated area. There aren’t as many kids in my high school as most and it’s awesome. For the most part, they don’t make you do getting-to-know-you activities at the beginning of the year or trimesters because we’d had the same people in our classes for four years at least, so we didn’t need to reacquaint ourselves with each other. Of course, I still find myself staring at someone I’ve known for six or seven years and not remember their name for the longest time.

One of my favorite things about my first year of high school was being able to take classes with the higher grades. Even though they weren’t that much smarter or more mature than the kids my age were, they were still better behaved and a lot of them were interested in things I am interested in. There was a fantastic new pool of friends for me to discover.

It just felt friendlier on the whole. That first year, half of our school building was being totally rebuilt and they didn’t have some of it done.  This meant that there were no maps available for the incoming sophomores (only the top three grades go to our high school). It wasn’t as bad as the year before when most of the construction was happening and some of the hallways were completely inaccessible  which meant that the kids would have to take wide detours to get to class, but it was still pretty horrible, especially for the person who likes to memorize her schedule and where her classrooms are a month or two in advance. Fortunately, the seniors and juniors at the time were more than willing to help us little kids find our classrooms. I managed to figure it out, though I’m not sure how. I’m pretty sure I just walked around the building until I found a room with the correct name over the doorway.

Another thing I liked about my first year of high school was that I quickly developed a reputation. I was the girl who read things constantly and (a little later in the year) wrote things. I was also one of the privileged few sophomores who got to be thought of as not stupid. As a senior now, I know how badly the sophomores are labeled as morons because I do it sometimes too. To be fair to myself, though, there aren’t a lot of sophomores who aren’t always doing something dorky.

Having more freedom to choose my classes was also a great thing because it started me down the path of taking the science classes that I would find interesting, the english classes that wouldn’t drive me nuts, and the multi-media classes that would fill in all my elective credits. Not that Orchestra wouldn’t have done it for me. You’re only required to take three classes for your fine arts credits and I took that many every year. Looking back at all the random computer classes I took, I’m surprised I had enough room in my schedule to get all the other credits I needed to graduate. Of course, I do have oodles of friends who graduated early… most likely because they didn’t take a hundred thousand extra elective classes.

That first year was very good for me. I made connections with people that would benefit me within the next year and a half and I learned a lot of things about how life works so now I can solve problems effectively, though somewhat sporadically. I swear, I succeed at stuff by stumbling around doing things without really knowing why I do them.

Next episode in the series.

This is (obviously) a middle post in a series of posts. You can read it if you want or you can read from the beginning… Whatever you want. The first post can be found here.

My junior year was pleasant, though very difficult. There’s just something about the idea of having an easy senior year that causes droves of 11th graders to take every hard class they would conceivably need to take all in one year. My sophomore year was easy that I accused every teacher who was ever hard on us because “we’re preparing you for high school, which will be much harder.” Then I did my junior year and I don’t call my former teachers liars.

Not only did I have to do math classes, which were so hard for me, but I also had to take Chemistry (not really all that hard, but there was a lot of work involved) and AP Literature. I didn’t HAVE to take them, but I did because I’m a conformist.

I started my junior year in an awkward state of being (more so than my normal state of being, I mean). I had had the worst summer ever, which is saying something because my summers are usually really boring and involve me sleeping way more than is healthy because I’m just so bored. As way of proof, I had such a horrible summer that, instead of gaining five pounds or so because of inactivity, I actually lost fifteen pounds. I stayed up late coloring to music (no joke) and then woke up at around 7am to sit out on the couch in the living room with a blanket, staring at a wall. I was in therapy for a couple of months before school started again and I stayed in until sometime in November. I really don’t remember anything that I did during that chunk of time, but I have a feeling that I don’t really want to know or perhaps there isn’t anything noteworthy that happened.

In any case, I remember the best part of the year being the second half. At that point, I had nearly the same schedule as my bff Leslie. We would go to AP Lit in the morning, we had separate US History classes (she took AP, but I wasn’t insane enough for that), then we went to Orchestra together, Chemistry was after lunch, then I’m pretty sure I had Seminary and Financial Literacy, but I don’t really remember what classes she had.

When Leslie and I were in the same class, we pitied the teacher. Leslie and I talk… far too much. We have a hard time not sharing our thoughts. We are a great team when it comes to learning because the things I struggle with, she understands and vice versa. Neither of us have ever been very good at raising our hands before speaking and we tend to joke a lot. I remember that our Chemistry teacher got after us for reading during class. Not to mention, we probably drove him nuts with our constant joking, but he was a pretty humorous guy, so it was pretty much fine.

We drove our AP Lit teacher mad because she wanted us to focus and we didn’t want to. Our AP Literature class was very interesting, filled with all the most intelligent people in our grade and the one above us. Not only did we know a lot about a lot of different things amongst ourselves, but we were also sarcastic and debate oriented. I really feel sorry for kids that get stuck in classes with us. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to observe debates like we have. None of us are shy about pointing it out when someone was wrong and we weren’t really cowed when our own mistakes were pointed out and we were loud.

This group of people also mostly sat together at lunch, so that half hour was always interesting and eventful.

Junior year was the year Leslie and I figured out all the things we are going to do in the future. We’re doing everything from a trip to Europe as soon as we can afford one to writing a trilogy (which is, like, halfway planned and super awesome).

It just seems like I spent my whole junior year feeling good because I still had a year between me and graduation. I don’t dread graduation for the same reason as many of my classmates. They are afraid that they aren’t ready or that they are going to fail at being adult, but I dread it because it’s going to take a whole lot more work than I am currently doing. I’ve really loved high school and the freedom of time that it gives me. I haven’t really accomplished much with that time (I mean besides ending the year with a perfect 100% grade in US History), but I don’t feel like I’ve wasted it at all. I adequately appreciate the time I enjoy, though I wish it wouldn’t go so quickly.

Speaking of my grade in US History, we had this student teacher for much of the year. He was pretty cool, though he didn’t laugh at my leprechaun jokes (he’s a ginger). I really liked our normal history teacher, but they were both pretty cool.

I think my junior year will forever be the year that I did some random stuff that caused me to decide to do some other random stuff during my senior year that would help me decide what I want to do in the future. It kind of sucks that I can’t remember anything else about it, but the stuff I do remember was fun stuff. I can’t really remember anything super stupid that I did… Not thinking about it at the moment, anyway.

People put a lot of effort into remembering specifics. They write diligently in their journals, recording dates and names and anything else they would possibly want to know later on, but I’ve never been much to do that. I remember things in big chunks and with overall feelings attached to them.  Occasionally I’ll remember something specific, but I usually forget about it, which is supposedly a good thing because it means you’re living in the future.

A lot of people say that senior year is the most memorable, which may or may not be true. It is right now for me, but that’s most likely because I’m still living it and it’s foremost in my mind, but I think that a lot of important things happened in my junior year that affect me now. It was also a completely different experience than senior year, partially because of how hard it was compared to this year, but also because of all the people who graduated early. My best friend, Leslie, Spencer, Ali. A whole bunch of people that I spent a lot of time with. This year, I sit in a completely different part of the lunch room with a whole different set of friends. They’re fantastic and I love every minute I get to spend with them, but it makes me feel like my junior year happened to someone entirely different than me. I wouldn’t say that I’ve changed very much, but I feel different. I feel like a lot of things have distanced me from the person that I was.

Not that this is bad, but it kind of feels sad anyway.

Next episode in the series.

Another post in series with other posts where I talk about all the things I remember from being in the public school system. Episodes one and two can be found here and here.

When I was a sophomore, I kept hearing the seniors talk about how their senior year was supposed to be the best year ever and that they were going to do a bunch of crazy stuff to make it so. Quite honestly, I didn’t believe them because, compared to junior high school, I was having the time of my life. How on earth could senior year be better?

Those seniors were right. I’ve managed to make this year the best year I’ve ever had in school and it kind of sucks that the last year you have is the best because it feels like you could have been having this much fun in school for all those other years but you weren’t.

One of the greatest things about my senior year has been the lack of math class. I’m not going to brashly claim that math is the worst subject ever because it isn’t. I really enjoy doing math… as long as it isn’t fifty problems out of the book every night for the rest of my life. A lot of it is kind of interesting, but there’s a ton of it that I don’t understand and we focused on that stuff a lot in my math classes and I just hated not being able to do any of it. It’s a really stupid reason for me not to sign up for a math class, but that’s what influenced my decision .

I didn’t think I would have to take any hard classes at all my senior year, but they make you take a math or science class, even if you don’t need it to graduate. Thank goodness they did, because I was looking for a science class to take when AP Chem was offered to me on a silver plate. I might not have taken it if I hadn’t needed to take a science class.

Anyway, not having a math class has been beautiful because I used to dread going to math so much. The last math class I ever had was my first class period and it made me almost hate going to school… almost.

Now that I think about it, all of my favorite things about senior year I sort of stumbled on. I needed elective credits so I took CTE (Career and Technology Education) classes to fill it. This brought me to Digital Photography, which was fun, 3D Graphics, which I adored, and 3D Animation, which I enjoy a lot more than I thought I was going to. We don’t even have to build most of the stuff ourselves, we just have to learn how to manipulate it… also, every Friday we get to watch a movie and we always watch “making of” clips from movies like Up and LotR.

Speaking of Lord of the Rings, my first English class of the year was Fantastic English, a class based entirely around the Trilogy. It was a really small class, so we were allowed to do a lot of crazy things. We drank so much hot chocolate in that class that I started to actually like hot chocolate. I don’t even remember why I used to hate it.

The whole environment just seemed better this year. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always felt really good about the years where my age group is the oldest. Maybe I just feel a little more in control, but also, the teachers just treat seniors better. Well, they treat the seniors in all of my classes better. The classes I took were also classes that not all the seniors were taking, so I wasn’t getting stuck in classes where the class morons would sully the atmosphere.

I always had lunch with all of my friends, though they didn’t all sit in the same place, so it was kind of hard at first to decide where to sit. I packed my own lunch, so I didn’t spend half of my time standing in line. Lunch time has always been really relaxing for me and just sitting with a bunch of people that I like for a half an hour is a good way to spend any half hour.

I also did a lot more extracurricular stuff. More so than I’ve ever done. I played in the pit orchestra for the school musical, I did Science Olympiad, I went to one Speech and Debate competition, and I’m currently the female student director for the play we’re doing this trimester, The Hound of the Baskervilles. All that staying after school and practicing and studying takes up a lot of my time, but it also means that I ride the bus very infrequently. The bus has always been my worst nightmare. At school, I’m at the top of the ladder and I can usually use that to my advantage, but on the bus, those little monsters won’t listen to anything.

I’ve legitimately watched kids exchange drugs on the bus. Not to mention, no matter the weather, those kids will put their windows down. I’m forced to sit in the back of the bus, so I get wind from every window that is open, no matter how far up it is.

I really wish school could have been more like senior year early on. I think kids would have responded to it more favorably. Of course, it’s such a great time because the kids have finally figured how how to be sort of responsible and act almost like adults. Again, the teachers treat us better because we’re finally becoming less annoying. I swear, in the classes where my teachers still treat me like a kid, I feel less inclined to behave and focus.

I’m referring to Orchestra class. It’s a mixed class group and the majority of us are sophomores. I think there are like five seniors. I have such a hard time focusing because we aren’t allowed on tangents. I think getting a little sidetracked is good for a classroom because we can have just the tiniest break from whatever we’re doing.

Not to mention, I was usurped from first chair by a junior. It isn’t so horrible because she’s super nice and she’s a fantastic violinist, but I definitely feel more motivated to practice and improve my playing so that when we audition for chairs, I can have a chance at catching up. It’s been really good for me, though. I’ve improved more this year than almost any other year. Even when I was in the 8th grade playing with 9th grade kids or as a sophomore playing with seniors in the group.

This year was the year for figuring things out. I found that I liked doing different things when it came to doing a bunch of things in a relaxed environment. Not to mention, every class I took was my own choice. There was only one required class and all the others were a matter of what I happened to feel like taking. I’ve always like English, but the class I have right now isn’t particularly enjoyable. I’ve always reluctantly liked science, but all the classes I took had an element of challenge that didn’t agree with me like small challenges normally do. It’s like I could sense how in depth and difficult science is beneath the surface and I’ve always been afraid of doing hard things.

AP Chemistry broke the ice for me to like science. It’s unimaginably hard, but I’ve been succeeding, for the most part, and the hard work feels so good. I’ve learned that I can do hard things and it won’t kill me. This may sound weird, but I feel like I’ve learned that I can actually do something exciting and fun with my future. I’ve never thought about life after high school in that way.

Next episode in the series.

This is the second installment of a series of blog posts that I plan to do between now and the end of May where I talk about things I remember from public school/high school. In this post, I am going to talk about my experience on the Science Olympiad team during the last six months. You can read the first post here.

It honestly doesn’t seem that much time between when I signed up for Science Olympiad in
October to now, the eve before our state competition. I want to write a little bit about it before I go to state because I need to organize my thoughts before I turn off the lights and lay awake in the dark where my mind finds the most horrible outcomes of a situation and turns them against me.

Before:

Even though we’ve only had two regional competitions, I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. I did procrastinate my studying quite a bit, but I picked it up before it was too late and I did better than I thought I was going to (as an individual, anyway, I wanted to rock everyone else’s socks off, but it didn’t happen that way). The thing about Science Olympiad was that it was less about the effort of a team and even less about the effort of a pair of people and more about what I could do on my own.

I learn things on my own well enough, I watch documentaries and read Wikipedia articles for
kicks, I just rarely learn anything overly useful without prompting. I honestly didn’t think I would do any studying for Science Olympiad. I’m just not a person who studies, but as my previous post will tell you, I’ve never done anything that really required me to apply myself (besides math, where I didn’t apply myself at all). The thing is, I’ve always loved science, even though it was a little upstaged by my passion for English. English was my main thing where I sat down and wrote words down on a page or typed them into a computer. Science has always been what I do when I’m sick of sitting down. English is something you learn, something you apply, but Science has always been something you do.

That may not make any grammatical sense, but for once, I don’t care. There’s always been a curiosity inside me that I can never quite satisfy. Perhaps I grew tired of my family always
questioning why things happened and never finding an answer. It may be one of the reasons why I hate rhetorical questions as well. With science, there are no unanswerable questions. You can experiment over and over to find the answer. It may not be a perfect answer and it may not even be the right answer, but at least we’re looking for it instead of throwing questions onto a page to think about but never engage.

The more I think about it, the more excited it makes me feel. I’ve never been an adrenaline
junky and I always try to cling to safety. English, to me, is a safety blanket. I understand what is going on with words and language and communication. I don’t need to think a whole lot about why the words do what they do, I just need to let them lead my thoughts into a place where theories are made and hypothetical situations reign.

Science is my risk. It’s hard and I always risk failing. There are things that I need to understand and there are lines and walls that will always remain impervious to prodding (unlike the english language, filled, as it is, with exceptions and accommodations  and can never be justified away.

Science makes me feel like I can take chances and do things that are hard, even though I’m a lazy person who is likely to give up. Science makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something that no number of finished novels, sitting on my harddrive, can make me feel.
As I talked about in my last post, achieving even a small amount of success in science gives
me the confidence and the audacity to try hard things. Hard things that I never even imagined myself doing. Science is my secret love affair.

Tomorrow morning, I will be on my way to my final competition, after months of independent
work. Work that I am proud of for having made myself focus on something that I would need to apply in the future. I’m horribly nervous, but I feel like I can keep my cool for this. I’ve always been a good test-taker.

After:

My love of Science persists and grows larger. In a second, I’m going to dive right in, but I’ll just say that State Science Olympiad was the exact opposite of what the Regional comps told me to expect.

We had to wake up early and drive for forever to get to The University of Utah, but the drive was not annoying at all. First of all, no one wanted shotgun because that meant you’d have to sit in the front seat with our coach and no one wants to do that, so I had no opposition in claiming shotgun. I hate riding in the back seat because I like to see where we’re going and the front seat is always much more comfortable. Everyone else in the vehicle fell asleep, but my coach and I had a series of conversations about television and heart attacks, which was fun. Teachers are the best conversationalists, I find, so it’s interesting that students don’t ever want to talk to them.

We arrived and were stationed in the Jon M. Huntsman Arena, which is just this massive circle. When I first walked in, I felt like I was standing at the edge of a cliff. We found the area we were supposed to sit in and then everyone who had an event time in the first round left for their events. I didn’t have an event at first, so I just sat in a seat and started next week’s AP Chemistry homework. When I left for my first event, I was completely lost. Unlike Westminster College and Weber State University, the sites for our Regional comps, The University of Utah is MASSIVE and not at all navigable

As a side note, the way people in Utah tell directions is by the mountains, which run north to south along pretty much the whole length of Utah. Whenever we leave Utah, we lose all sense of direction because we don’t have the mountains there. Unfortunately U of U is right on the side of the mountain, so it was like the mountain was surrounding us and I couldn’t get myself oriented. Fortunately, there were maps everywhere, so I reached the building I was supposed to be in within fifteen minutes of leaving “home base.”

I met my partner, Kayla, in the hallway outside the room we were supposed to be at and we sat for a little while talking about her first event. One of our test coordinators let us into the room so that we could get situated (and he also gave us pastries). The event was Anatomy and Physiology and our Region experience was not comforting at all. We had about 60 stations and we had, like, one minute to answer the questions. The State competition only had 10 stations and we had 6 minutes for each.

Our first question wasn’t very encouraging, so we just guessed, and the second station wasn’t much better, but I knew a few elements of the question from watching that movie Hawking (the one about Stephen Hawking)(I tried to explain how I knew the information, but Kayla didn’t know who Stephen Hawking is… seriously, we’re at a SCIENCE Olympiad and she doesn’t know who Stephen Hawking is…). The next station made us as giddy as kindergartners. We got to look at the cross section of a REAL, HUMAN KIDNEY. The event coordinator even told us that we were allowed to touch if we wanted to… which we did… more than was probably necessary.

Next was a question that we surmised the answer to, even though we didn’t know anything about the filtration rate of blood. There was a sphygmomanometer and stethoscope sitting next to the station, so Kayla took my blood pressure while we were waiting to go to the next station. The event coordinators laughed so hard when they saw us.

The next station was about a disease and the treatments. Kayla’s CNA class helped with this one and we provided a pretty good answer, but I couldn’t help answering the question of treatment for the patient with “A hot shower and a good long nap” after Kayla was finished.

The next station was A REAL, HUMAN GI TRACT. We were allowed to see and touch the rugae in the stomach and stroke the small intestine, which was so amazing. We did the same with THE REAL, HUMAN HEAD…. well, it was half a head, but still. Some guy had donated his body to science and science had cut him up for our amusem…. uhh… education… We may or may not have poked his brain, tongue, and nasal cavity…. He also had a crazy eyebrow. They seriously just took a dead guy’s head, cut it in half, and stuck it in a container so that we could identify parts of the brain. It was the coolest thing ever and we were geeking out so hard, you have no idea.

My next event was Forensics, which didn’t really go well because we didn’t have time enough to get everything done and we didn’t really know which suspect to accuse, so we just accused two of them because of evidence found on both. My partner, Kendall, and I aren’t really sure we did all that well, but it was really fun, even if it was overwhelming. I feel like I would have had a blast if I were given enough time to methodically go over all the evidence and work in a lab that wasn’t filled with so many other people. My main thing was that I didn’t have to carry our forensics kit back up the hill. Kendall carried it for me and we chatted as we walked up the hill, even though my next event was way out of the way.

The only time I’ve ever talked to Kendall was when I needed to tell him about our event because he’s a sophomore and I’m a senior and we don’t run in the same circle of friends at all. Come to think of it, the only reason I know things about him at all are because his dad is my AP Chemistry teacher and our Science Olympiad coach  I doubt I’ll ever communicate with him again, even though we do have 3D Animation for fourth hour together, but he’s a pretty intelligent guy and he’s not so bad, even if he’s a squishy, squishy squashmore. Anyway, I digress.

My next event was Circuit Lab, an event that I’ve been preparing for for only three weeks. It’s funny because my partner, Jason, and I both decided to do the event because we both have dads who work as electricians. Unfortunately, our Region competition went horribly. We didn’t know how to build a circuit and we didn’t know enough to solve any of the theoretical problems. We did take 4th place out of 32 schools, but we didn’t know anything. So, for the three weeks I had, I studied like mad for this event. Unfortunately, Jason didn’t have time to study, so he wasn’t a whole lot more knowledgeable about the event this time.

I was totally ready, though. We finished everything we had to do in plenty of time and I knew how to answer all but two of the problems. I don’t think I got all of them right, but I feel like I have a chance of getting a majority of them right. Not to mention, I could build a circuit now and we were able to do more on our practical lab portion than draw pictures of bunnies and stick figures saying witty jokes about electricity.

Last of all, Jason and I walked across campus (yet again) to our Chemistry lab. We were so confident about it because our Region event went super smoothly. This time, however, none of the answers we got match the table we were supposed to be matching things to. We followed all the steps the way that the example problem told us and we titrated our basic solution correctly, but we just couldn’t make the numbers work. In the end, with five minutes left, we just guessed on every answer on our score sheet. There were probably ten multiple choice questions that I just circled random letters for and we identified the substances with the ones in the provided table without any evidence to support the answers. We’re probably going to place really low, but we feel like we still have a chance that we got all the answers correct by guessing.

We hitched a ride on a golf cart back up the hill to the Huntsman Arena and back to the rest of the team and then we went and got food.

It was so much fun and, even though I didn’t eat anything all day long until around 4:30 this afternoon (my hands are still shaking), I felt fantastic and I still love science, even though it has taken a lot out of me during the last six months. Now I have to focus on the AP Chem test that will take place in less than a month. I’m not freaking out yet, but I know I will. I just hope my teacher has a lot of materials for us to study, otherwise, I won’t know how to do anything. I’m also going to make him tell me how to figure out the titrations lab thing or else it’s going to bug me for forever.

I know that no one could possibly make it this far into a blog post, but I have over a hundred blog posts and almost no following at all and I keep blogging. I’m pretty sure that I do this for myself mostly. If you did happen to make it this far down without killing yourself because of my inability to write concisely, I applaud you, but I question your sanity if you can read through this and not quit.

Toodles.

P.S. If you want to know my event placings, you can go here.

Next episode in the series.

Due to my insane desire to earn a “gold star” (fulfill the lettering requirements) in Orchestra, I found myself reflecting on my junior year of high school. The one that happened last school year. Mostly, I needed to remember all the music related activities I did because I can earn points for them. I thought of a bunch from my freshmen and sophomore years and, obviously, this year was easier to remember, but nothing stuck out to me about my junior year, which I thought was really odd. I have really loved high school and I figured I would remember more of it. So, I decided to go back through my Twitter feed to see if I’d posted anything useful. I tried Facebook first, but I have no informative posts on there, for some reason.

Naturally, my Twitter feed is pretty useless. Not to mention disjointed. It has reminded me of things that were happening a year ago, though. I remarked a lot about things that weren’t really interesting to me then, but have since become important to me.

One year ago, I was very sure about my future. I was going to major in English because that was the only thing I could conceivably be interested in long-term. Now, one year later, I am seriously considering changing my major to something related to Chemistry or at the very least do a double major with English. I’m realizing that I avoid thinking about my future as much as I can. I’ve never been the type of person to look at things with a long-term perspective.

I’ve always been what those in the NaNoWriMo circle call a “pantser.” I fly by the seat of my pants and just make things up as they come along. For some reason this has always worked well for me. Every English paper I need to write comes about in half an hour to an hour of sprint-writing. I usually get perfect grades (except for in English 1010…).

This year, however, I’ve involved myself in every extracurricular activity that I could that requires preparation and anticipation. It’s been horrible and amazing. For the most part, it just irritates my anxiety, but I wouldn’t be doing them if they weren’t immensely fun. I wasn’t going to go into detail, but now I feel like it, which means this post is going to be SUPER long and no one is going to get to the bottom. Actually, I’m going to make this a series of blog posts. It’s about time I get this out of my head.

The first thing I got myself into was AP Chemistry. I had a fantastic time in Chemistry my junior year and my teacher was one of my favorite people. He kept telling me I should do AP Chemistry, which I signed up for without hesitation. After all, I was finding AP Literature easy, so AP Chemistry couldn’t be that hard, right? Normal Chemistry was a cinch, so AP Chemistry couldn’t be too complicated, could it?

AP Chemistry was probably the first sign I had that I had been babied my whole public school experience. The work was so intensive that, if I weren’t so prideful, I would have quit after the first trimester. We started out with nine people in the class. Two were gone by the end of the first week and we lost another only halfway through the trimester. At the beginning of the second trimester, we lost another and one became the teacher’s assistant to avoid the work. There were four of us left. Quite honestly, I don’t remember a lot about that first trimester. I was just barely keeping it together and the other people in the class weren’t really interested in bonding.

During the second trimester, the four of us who remained became a strange brand of friends. I’m not really sure what kind of friends we are. Kayla and I are in Orchestra together. We were pretty good friends before AP Chem, so I think we would have been good friends anyway. There’s just something about all the hard work we’ve done together and being the only two girls from the beginning. We aren’t as smart as the boys, but we get by well enough. Edward runs with the same group of friends as I do, but we’ve never been… chummy. In AP Chem, though, we make nerd jokes that Kayla and Jason don’t really understand. Jason and I would not be more than acquaintances if not for AP Chem. He’s more of a popular guy. He’s into sports and things, but he’s also my partner for our Science Olympiad team and we’ve become closer friends through being both really good and really bad at our events.

The four of us and our teacher have a fantastic time in class, joking, finding science interesting, and teasing each other. The environment just helps me not be stressed about how much I truly suck at it. For once in my life, I’m not naturally good at the subject. It isn’t even like math where I just do not try at all. I try so hard to understand the concepts and I do, eventually, it just takes me a lot longer to get it than the others seem to. For once, I’m not the smart kid, I’m the one who gets the worst scores consistently. The thing is that… I just really like it. Things don’t usually hold my attention like Chemistry does. Not even English and I LOVE English.

It’s weird that this whole experience doesn’t seem disheartening to me. I think that’s what happened with me and math. I find math interesting, actually, but in ninth grade Geometry, I didn’t quite get it and everything just got harder and I got discouraged and gave up. I settled for B’s in math because those were the grades I could get without having to apply myself very much. That isn’t happening with Chemistry, though. The further we get into it, the more the stuff I didn’t understand before gets applied and I finally understand what it’s for. I’m still behind the other people because they can look at a problem and tell me how to get an answer and spout equations like none other and I just stare at the problem.

I’m really not sure how well I’m going to do on the AP Chem exam, but every time I express doubt, my teacher and classmates encourage me and I feel like I have some sort of a chance. Of course, I should be studying for said test right now instead of blogging, but I’m in a mood.

For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m standing outside a door that is beginning to open rather than like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff. I feel like AP Chemistry has propelled me to this pathway and I feel like I can do things. For my whole life, I thought I would grow up and only do the things that came naturally to me, but struggling through Chemistry has shown me that I can do anything I want to do. I can accomplish hard things if I want to and I’m finding that I want to.

People say that you can do anything you want all the time, and I knew that I could do anything, but I never thought I was motivated enough to do hard things. Now that I want to do the work and dive into the hard things, I feel like I have options. It’s a feeling that I can’t really describe. My randomly signing up for AP Chemistry gave this to me and I will never regret that, even if I fail the AP exam and end up a loser, alone with a crummy job that provides no challenge or interest to me, I won’t ever regret the things I’ve learned and I won’t forget the people it brought me close to.

Next in the series.