Tag Archive: school


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.

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Confidence

I’m not sure when I turned into this sort of blogger, but I guess it’s better than some of the things I posted in the past.

I was reading a post on Tumblr (while pointedly ignoring my open English text book sitting next to me, naturally) that said, “being told i was smart and above average from a young age was probably one of the worst things to happen to me because now i have a complex and question my entire existence when i dont excel at something right away” (it is taking all of my self control not to go in and edit…).

This was mainly my problem in elementary school. All my teachers were constantly telling me that I was super smart and after a while, it kind of made me despise my peers a little bit. Fortunately, I didn’t handle the transition to intermediate school with much grace and made less of an impression on my teachers there. It taught me the difference between being confident and being a twat.

I lost the status that I’d built up in my mind for myself and I realized that I was just as insecure and stupid as everyone else my age. It took me, probably, until the ninth grade to realize that I didn’t need status to be confident. I started to like learning a lot more and I started learning how to be good at it. I also stopped looking at my teachers as a source of praise and attention and started looking at them as actual people.

I’m not sure exactly how this instills confidence, but I think confidence is something that comes from yourself. It’s the same as how you have to learn to accept yourself in order to be happy instead of looking to others for acceptance. Of course, other people can help inspire you to be confident.

The incident that actually spurred this whole line of thought into being happened this morning in my AP Chemistry class. AP Chemistry is one of the only classes I’ve truly struggled in. I mean, I got B’s and C’s in my math classes before, but I never really tried in my math classes. I slept half the time or only half-finished the homework assignments.

The thing about AP Chemistry is that, not only do I have to worry about keeping my grade up, but I have to worry about the AP test at the end of the year. For a long time, I didn’t plan on taking the exam because I didn’t think I could pass it. I’m still not sure if I can, but today in class when I expressed my anxieties about my ability to get a passing score on the test, my teacher told me that I’m smarter than I think I am and that I can pass the test, easily.

In elementary school, a teacher telling me that would have fed my ego and probably would have made me roll my eyes, for I heard them express the same sentiments far too often. However, when it comes to this subject that I do not excel at and cannot easily get a fantastic grade, this expression of confidence in me gave me a feeling that I don’t often get.

It isn’t the feeling that you get when someone says something nice to you out of habit or because it is social protocol, it’s the feeling you get when someone is honest and genuine toward you. The best kind of teacher is a teacher who can inspire confidence and love of learning in a student. My teacher inspired confidence in me this morning. Confidence in a subject that I haven’t been doing well in for more than half a year and with that confidence, I can learn to love the subject more because I’m less worried about doing well at it.

Well, maybe I’m not less anxious about the test, but I know that I am going to try and that’s what counts when it comes to confidence. Confidence spurs you to action.

The Procrastination Continues

I don’t think it’s likely to ever stop, actually. As much as I tell myself that I’m not going to procrastinate things when I get into college or an actual job, I kind of doubt that I’ll be able to throw off the years of habitual procrastination.

Anyway… I would really love to say that this blog post isn’t going to be just me complaining, but I’ll be honest. This post is definitely me complaining. No matter how much I can cleverly make it sound like I’m just pondering life questions and being philosophical, it’s just me in my bedroom, procrastinating my AP Chemistry homework.

I don’t care how motivated and against procrastination you are; if you were in my AP Chemistry class, you’d be procrastinating. Exhibit A: my friend Kayla. Kayla is the only other girl in my AP Chemistry class, which sounds sad only until you know that there are only seven (soon to be six) people in our class. We’re smarter than those guys anyway… no, we aren’t. The point is, out of all the geniuses in our class, Kayla is the one most likely to succeed. She is literally first in our graduating class. Seriously, when we get our transcripts, we’re ranked out of everyone in our grade. I’m usually around 100 out of 300 and Kayla is always numero uno.

She’s had a 4.0 since probably elementary school and she doesn’t procrastinate. She goes home, her mother sits her down at the table and she gets all her homework done. Always. She was even in my AP Literature class, which was pretty rigorous. She never skipped a day of reading or an essay. Not only does she get fantastic grades, but she’s awesome as well. We watched BBC Sherlock at another friend’s house once.

Little Kayla; practically perfect in every way. Even she procrastinates our AP Chemistry homework. It’s so hard.

Unfortunately, the end of out trimester is in two days. The time to procrastinate has gone and I’ve been working on my AP Chemistry homework all day. Well, all day since I got home from church. There are three biggish things that I have to do, so I’ve prioritized them and whatnot, but now, eight hours later, I’m not even half-way done with the first thing on my list.

I have a whole host of lame excuses for not having it finished. One of those things is that I have a headache that my drugs didn’t take care of this time, which infuriates me just a little, along with not being able to sit up straight because my back hurts from sitting up straight upon request from my physical therapist. Because of this, I took a few hours to nap and then I tried to watch a documentary while I worked, but that didn’t pan out and now that I’ve napped, I’m super tired. I had to wake up earlier than normal this morning after having stayed out late  last night (role-playing a gnome, I might add).

Crap… this is getting too whiny… Now I shall make up something profound.

A lot of different people (teachers, parents) try to tell kids that they have to learn how to work while they’re young so that they’ll have a good work ethic when they grow up. Part of that ideal work ethic is the ability to do something that’s super hard even though you don’t want to do it.

I grew up in a pretty hard-working family. My parents volunteer us for every service project that hear about, which is fine most of the time. However, because of a few different factors (ones that I call genetic factors, just so I can blame stuff on my parents), lethargy is one of the things at the top of the list of things I struggle with the most. My grades in school haven’t always been the best, not because I don’t understand the material (though sometimes that is the case), but because I can’t seem to force myself to do the homework.

This is even worse than me trying to get up in the morning. I hate getting out of bed in the morning. In fact, I schedule fifteen extra minutes in the morning that I use to get myself out of bed. It’s kind of pathetic, but I am not a morning person and it could be worse. Fortunately, since I got into high school, I’ve become slightly better at forcing myself to do stuff. The key is to make yourself interested in the work you have to do. Whenever I have to write English papers or essays, I get myself really excited because it’s the one time that I can (sneakily) incorporate sarcasm into my school work (my AP Lit teacher would frown at me right now and insist that it’s actually just verbal irony and not sarcasm).

I could go on with this, but I’m writing this blog post so that I don’t have to do my Chemistry homework. I swear I’m interested in the stuff we’re learning, but I just don’t want to have to plug a bunch of different numbers into the same three equations all night long.

Language

Are you ready to hear what I’ve been thinking about this time? I think a lot… too much… it doesn’t really matter, though because no one reads this. I regret nothing.

I guess it’s pretty obvious what this blog post is about, seeing as I’ve titled it according to the subject I have in mind, though the people on Facebook who read the title and the first sentence won’t know specifically what I’ll be talking about because they’ll never click on the link. It really doesn’t anger me that they don’t. it just interests me that they have so little curiosity, especially when I make my blog posts sound SOOO interesting. I mean, the reason that the newspaper people put only half of the story on the front page is so that you have to turn to somewhere in the middle to find out the rest and that’s where all the other stuff they want you to read is.

Then there is the distinct possibility that I’m just not as exciting a writer as I imagine myself to be. Anyway, I digress (as usual).

One thing I’ve been thinking about lately is the concept of language. Language and the origin of language has always fascinated me, though for the most part, I’ve been too lazy to quench my thirst. I’ve been trying for years to convince my classmates and parents and friends and siblings and other various people that regulated language is important in the way of comprehension. If we don’t use our grammar rules, then there is a significantly higher chance that someone will misunderstand the meaning of what we write. Finally, today (not twenty minutes ago, in fact) I found a pretty good metaphor to explain the importance of grammar and proficiency in language.

Earlier, before my hand stopped functioning properly, I was practicing my violin. I had (have) a song stuck in my head that we played today in my Orchestra class and I was trying to play every other song I could think of to get it out. There’s something about playing or singing a song that gets it stuck in your head more easily than just listening to it. I’m not sure why I thought it would work since I spent two hours after school practicing the music for The Fiddler on the Roof (which happens to be the musical our drama department is doing this trimester) and more time besides that listening to plenty of other music, but I was attempting it anyway.

Despite a general lack of strength in my left hand (the source of which my physical therapist is constantly trying to locate), I’ve always been pretty good at playing the violin/music in general. Something that always surprises me, however, is when other people can’t understand some aspect of music theory that I find fairly simple. Of course, this happens in other classes too, but with music, it makes so much sense to me and there really isn’t a whole ton of stuff to remember. Music is so structured that you can’t help but understand it, once you’ve gotten the hang of it.

The same isn’t really true of the English language (/any language, pretty much), but for the most part, once you’ve learned the general rules, all the little details become either easy to understand or just easy to use (whilst writing, this is usually done accidentally). Music is it’s own language, really, so learning the rules is necessary in order to function within a setting where music is used to communicate (sort of).

If you have ever played in a musical group or sang in a choir, you’ll know that when people don’t follow the rules, the result is a mess. Even if your experience has been a friend (or yourself) who cannot sing, yet still tries to. It doesn’t work. Communication is impossible, people get confused, everyone becomes less confident, and there is no way you can play in harmony and balance when someone isn’t following the rules.

Every year at the end of the year, our school’s orchestra and band get together with the band and orchestra of our rival high school and we put on a concert. There’s this foundation that sets this up and they also get a guest director from somewhere to come and lead us. Usually they’re from some university or something. Last year, our director was this lady and the first time we rehearsed with her, our concert master got up to give the A (so that we could all tune our instruments) and handed her his violin so that she could make sure it was in tune. She then asked this question of our director:

“Do you still use a 440 A?”

The frequency of an A is 440 Hz. Our director, a little confused, answered that we indeed did. Her confusion was understandable because A is 440. That’s what it’s been for hundreds of years. Then, the guest conductor replied:

“Okay, I was just asking because there are some schools that have started using a 444 for their A.”

At the time, most of us laughed because this was such an absurd idea. It doesn’t matter who you are, you can’t just decide that an A isn’t an A any more.  I can’t imagine a world where people can just decide to change what we mean when we say that a certain note is an A or a B or whatever, but that’s the type of world we live in when it comes to the English language. People use slang words and make up words and just say/write/spell things however they want and they call it communication. Imagine if there was an orchestra wherein everyone’s A varied by just a few Hz. This would affect every note that everyone played because the A is the point at which we reference the tuning of all our other notes.

A few Hz isn’t all that much. In fact, if you play two notes that are only one or two Hz away from each other, you may not hear a discrepancy. When tuning in our high school orchestra, it’s usually pretty much okay if your strings are tuned one or two Hz away from another’s. This can be compared to people who have an average knowledge of grammar and actually try to write somewhat properly. It’s easy to understand each other and it’s pretty much good enough. Unfortunately, there are the people (internet people, I’m looking at you) who don’t even attempt to use any of the knowledge that they learned at school, if, indeed, they’re even educated. Those are the people slumped down in their chairs in the back of the orchestra whose pitches are off by more than a few Hz. Play two notes that are that far away from each other and even those with untrained ears can hear how awful it sounds.

When you’re orchestra is badly out of tune, no matter how fabulously you play all the notes, nothing is going to sound good because music is specifically engineered to sound pleasing because the wavelength/frequency of all the notes aligns and compliments the others and your notes can’t match up with the notes of anyone else because you aren’t in tune with them. If you want to know why music sounds good to us (when it’s in tune, I mean), then check out the Youtube channel of one Vihart. She made a fabulous video explaining it. It’s on there somewhere.

An orchestra can sound pretty good when it’s within a few Hz of each other. There really isn’t anything wrong with being average at using grammar either, but it’s not like we’re encouraged to be a few Hz off. The ideal would be for everyone to have perfect intonation. As I’ve played the violin for longer, the better I’ve gotten at tuning my instrument. I can hear smaller discrepancies and I can tune much more accurately. The same happens after you’ve done a lot of practicing with using proper grammar. You’re more accurate and their is less of a chance of you “being out of tune” or, in other words, misunderstanding/being misunderstood.

Everyone is always clammering about being understood. If you want to be understood so badly, then why don’t you give yourself a better chance and use the grammar skills that have been tossed at you during your duration of public schooling?

Yesterday, I went through my entire iTunes library and erased several hundred songs that I never listen to anymore and then I replaced them mostly with music that I’d never heard before. I literally just looked up a bunch of bands that I’d heard about and then I downloaded their albums. Besides that, I tried to practice my Orchestra music, but in being at my friend, Leslie’s house for a few hours, our Orchestra folders got mixed up (not to mention, everything I have is covered with cat hair. I took my jacket off before going inside and stuck it in my backpack so it wouldn’t get hairy, but it did anyway. Ridiculous), so I practiced my music by memory, which worked rather well except for my skipping the parts that I couldn’t remember. I wrote a little in my screenplay, but mostly I watched Bones. Today, I finished all of my math homework for the week, colored some butterflies, and watched Pride and Prejudice with my mom. I swear, I’ve seen that movie so many times.

Weekends are so boring. We should just go to school every day. Every. Single. Day.

School

I was fully planning on writing a blog post about the first week of school, but here it is, mid-trimester, and I didn’t do it… Whatever, I can still blog about school, can’t I? I’m just going to do this the lazy way and start with first hour and go on.

First hour: AP Literature

For those of you who didn’t know (I didn’t until recently), “AP” stands for “Answer the prompt”. Basically, when we analyze literature and then write an essay about it, our main goal is to answer whatever prompt we are given. If you can’t successfully answer the prompt, then apparently you fail at life.

One thing that absolutely gets me about this class, and every English class I’ve had since the eighth grade, is that no matter what I do, I can’t get the teacher to like me. In mostly any other subject I have, I can usually get my teachers to like me and think I’m pretty clever. I’m not saying that I’m super clever, really, but my teachers like me and I like them. They’re cool, but English teachers just won’t acknowledge me as anything other than average. I don’t mean to sound horribly vain (which I probably am), but I like to think of myself as a pretty good writer and my grammar skills are far superior to most kids my age (as Facebook statuses will attest to).

In this AP Literature class particularly, I’m actually ignored. I made the mistake of hurting my teacher’s ego early on. We were talking about being able to understand any text to some degree by using context clues and we were challenged to try to “stump the teacher” by bringing her any text at all that she could analyze. I took her my book entitled, “The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense”, but contains several passages that actually mean nothing. She conceded pretty quickly, declaring me victorious, but ever since, she’s started to ignore me. I’ll start talking and she talk over me.

I actually like her, as a teacher. She’s one of the most effective teachers that I’ve had for a long time, and she’s actually pretty cool as a person, having lent me a couple reading book, all fabulous. The only time I was able to do something right in her class, was when we did an analysis as a group and she didn’t actually know that it was I who wrote the analysis paragraph. She keeps telling us that she expects us to get very low scores and be very bad at everything for the first trimester because we don’t know what we’re doing, but that’s really not giving us any chance to be good at something because she doesn’t expect us to be able to.

I think she underestimates our intelligence a little bit, which bugs me, but otherwise, it’s a very informative class.

Second hour: Seminary

I’m pretty lucky when it comes to the Seminary classes that I’m put in. I’ve had every single one of the Seminary teachers besides the guy that wasn’t here last year. This trimester’s teacher is one of the most interesting teacher I’ve had. He knows Hebrew and integrates a lot more of his theories into the class along with doctrine, more so than other teachers. I’m not saying that he makes things up, but his theories make a lot of sense to me. I’ve learned a lot in his class and he’s pretty hilarious on a daily basis.

I’m generally a huge fan of Seminary. A lot of things make sense to me and the teachers are all very cool, interesting people. Plus, they always recommend books to me at times when I need something to read.

Third hour: Orchestra

Compared to last year, our class has improved a lot. Our teacher is in class a lot more than she was last year, though she does get to class late daily. This is due to her first two hours being spent at a different school. The music we’re playing for our Halloween concert in about a week is some pretty great stuff.

The thing I’m most excited about is that we get to wear our Halloween costumes for the concert. My friend, Leslie, and I are being Hogwarts students (not specific characters), though Leslie calls us “Hogwartians” which bugs me because it sounds so stupid when she says it (though it is pretty weird conceptually). I was trying to get a scarf knitted for the concert, but I’m only half done so far, so I don’t know if I’m going to make it.

Fourth hour: Social Dance

I’m being forced to take this class due to needing a PE credit, but it’s not all that bad, since I’m actually super good at dancing. We’re learning the waltz right now, which makes all kinds of sense after having to do the Foxtrot for a month.

Fifth hour: Pre-Calculus

I oppose math classes, though I think math is interesting… I really don’t have much to say about this class other than I read, sleep, and procrastinate a lot during it.

Sixth hour: Financial Literacy

I usually get on the internet and read Tumblr during this class because Tumblr is the only sight, besides Pottermore, that the school district hasn’t blocked on the computers. It’s interesting enough, I suppose, and I do sit by some pretty awesome people who keep me entertained whilst we take endless notes on identity fraud.

 

I’ll probably write again when classes change… If I ever get around to it. :)