Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Maze Runner

So I just spent the last 9 hours straight reading all three books of the Maze Runner series.


I know right. I'm thinking the same. I don't know how it happened. One moment I was watching the movie trailer on Youtube, then the next moment I was extremely confused, and finally there was a happily ever after.

Again, what?

I'm still confused myself. Today, I was supposed to accomplish several things, including dress shopping for prom, math homework, science homework, and a head start on a large english essay. Since I will be dress shopping tomorrow instead, it looks like the essay will have to wait.

Other updates on life include a mild panic attack about the future and colleges and all that stuff after seeing a post about one acquaintance who was admitted to four elite colleges (MIT, Princeton, Brown, and Cornell), and lots to rain today. A lot of people say that rain is peaceful and calming, but for me, rain just stresses me out. It's literally like the sound of impending doom, especially when it's raining really hard. Luckily, after talking to a friend, I found out that I'm not alone in this opinion. Still, I guess I'm just a bit weird, and always will be. But that's ok. I accept and even like my weirdness. It's just a problem when I'm afraid that other people don't. Here I could make a comment about the weird culture of conformity that America has somehow found itself in, but I won't because I can't adequately explain it. I'm still very confused at the moment.

This post has generally been a confusing mess because I'm still reeling from the events in that series. I'm sorry, and hopefully I'll be more coherent in my next post.

Do I dare press [Publish]? Yes. #YOLO


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Because I'm Happy!

Junior year has been rough so far, but I'm still alive, and that's a victory. I've just been trying to get through everything day to day that I haven't noticed that 1/4 of the year has already passed! A lot has happened in that time so I feel like it's time for an update. For the first time in a long time, my general mood is happy, and though this change of mood is attributed to many things, I'd like to point out a few in particular. First of all, thank you to all my friends, who have been mostly, if not always, there for me, whether online or in person. Secondly, I'd like to thank coffee, specifically, the Starbucks Limited Edition Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino. It's just something that I hadn't realized I had been missing in my life, so welcome back caffeine. Thirdly, I'd like to thank swim season for forcing me to get off of my butt and back into shape. Though now I'm always sore, exercise + coffee = a happier Carol. I've been long overdue for a little update on these things, so here we go!

Friday, February 14th – Valentine's Day Party @ Leland HS

Once again, Valentine's Day came and went, and once again, I was #foreveralone. I did, however, enjoy a wonderful food party during my art class, and each person made and distributed little cards for all their classmates. Everyone was appreciated and had a great time, which is one of the few remaining parts of Valentine's Day that is still meaningful. Most of the other stuff has been so commercialized that it's just an excuse to buy things. If you really had a special person, why only show that you appreciate them on one specially set aside day? Obviously, we all know flowers eventually die, but sugar is forever (memorialized on one's body in the form of a muffin top).

Saturday, February 22nd – League III Speech @ Sequoia High School

First of all, can I just say that I'm extremely jealous of Sequoia's campus? It has its own tea garden like some sort of fairytale paradise. Leland, with its impassive walls and abused quad (I'm looking at you, mudsliders), is like a prison compound in comparison.

The tournament itself was pretty successful. Five other Leland students and I made it to the semifinals round in Foreign Extemp, which I'm pretty happy about. Three Leland students were finalists in National Extemp, but none in Foreign Extemp. Still, it's been a great year; I'm glad I do Extemp, and I sure will miss the seniors on this team when they graduate.

Wednesday, March 5th – Celebrating Dr. Seuss's Birthday @ the Library

Look! Some cake! It isn't fake...?

Rhyming like Dr. Seuss is harder than it seems. So moving on, what's up with this cake? By lucky random coincidence, I was at the public library after school before swim practice for my weekly counseling appointment (which have been extremely helpful by the way; if you're struggling through a hard time in your life, make sure that you talk to someone – counselors, teachers, friends, and parents are there to listen and help). As it turns out, they were having a belated birthday party for Dr. Seuss, and there was a huge cake just sitting there on the table. There weren't many people at the library at that time, and I couldn't let the cake go to waste, so I went and asked for a piece. They gave me two. Later, during swim practice, I may have regretted that decision, but it was delicious at the time, and how often do you get free cake? So remember kids, make good decisions, but also keep in mind that you only live once.

Sunday, March 9th – Pancakes and Daylight Savings Time @ My House

This particular day was the start of Daylight Savings Time and the State Qualifying Tournament for speech and debate. Though I was somewhat disappointed that I wasn't going, I was mostly glad that I didn't have to get up an hour earlier to go to the tournament. Funny story is, I was on the alternate list, and when one of the other speakers got sick, a friend called me to see if I could go. Unfortunately, I was not aware of this information, so I actually did not know that I was potentially going. When he called me at 8am that morning, I was still more than half asleep when I answered the phone while in bed. I thought that someone had called the wrong number, so I just hung up. I fully woke up about 4 hours later and made myself a nice pancake breakfast, with whipped cream, strawberries, butter, and maple syrup. It was absolutely scrumptious. On Monday at school, my friend asked me if I had gotten a call (just to make sure that he had called the right number) and when I checked my phone, he had indeed called me. They did find another alternate in the end, so everything turned out alright, and we all had a good laugh about it.

Thursday, March 14th – Sidewalk Chalk Contest @ Leland HS

Should I even try to explain this?

1) It's a giant blue head with a pained facial expression.
2) It's supposed to be hideous.
3) SPOILER ALERT: It did not win.

Basically, my friend Sonia and I entered last minute into the Sidewalk Chalk Contest for our school's first ever Arts Appreciation Week. While other contestants drew intricately detailed fish, swirls, faces, and even an interpretation of the Mona Lisa, we decided to troll and draw the ugliest thing possible. How we ever got comments like, "Oh wow, it's so pretty!" is completely beyond me. I don't know how to explain beyond that. So I'll just leave that there.

Thursday, March 20th – Running @ THE HILL

On Thursdays, we do dryland. It is not fun.

The Hill is a five mile long unofficial course that is occasionally run by the water polo team for strength/endurance/pain-tolerance-level training. About a third of it is regular running on a flat dirt trail, another third is a steep, uphill climb past rich people's houses, and the last third is a downhill road that goes back to the school. Looking back, the run itself wasn't as bad as I had expected, but I am still suffering from the aftereffects. I can't walk properly because of the stiffness and soreness of my legs, but at least it's an excuse to stay in bed for a little longer on weekend mornings.

There are a lot more things that happened in these first three months of 2014, but I either don't remember them, or don't have pictures, or don't remember them because I don't have pictures. I kind of like doing update posts like these, so maybe I'll do them more often from now on. Looking forward to finishing this year with a sense of purpose and satisfaction!

Monday, March 17, 2014

What's Wrong With Whilona?

In my last blog post, I discussed the importance of being assertive and disregarding others' opinions. However, there is an extremely fine line between standing up for yourself and being rude. Today I had an experience with the latter, and while it was quite alarming, I still learned a thing or two that I'd like to share.

During art class, right after lunch, I was chatting with friends, working on a new project, and generally just doing normal art class things. I like the class a lot because the atmosphere is very supportive and people are always commenting with helpful tips on how to make something better. I appreciate the feedback, but if I don't like something, I usually respond with something along the lines of "That's an interesting insight" and thank them for the comment.

The girl that sits next to me (who I will refer to as Whilona) was doing a painting involving random squirts of paint on a canvasboard that were all mixed together. Whilona was never a person I looked up to in artistic talent or morals, and while at times she was annoying, I did not quite hate her. I glanced at her work and mentioned that I thought she could add some more white paint in a certain area (to achieve a greater sense of balance). She muttered something back that I didn't catch, so I repeated my comment. I was shocked when she snapped back with something to the effect of "You know what, I don't care about what you think." Perhaps I should have felt hurt, or angered. But the overwhelming emotion I encountered was confusion.

Was my comment that mean? Was my tone of voice too harsh? Perhaps I said something else that wasn't very nice? The suddenness of it all left me with no response. I shrugged it off and continued in my work. A few moments later however, she got up and practically yelled in my face, "If I want your opinion, Carol, I'll ask for it," and stomped away. I was quite taken aback. I left class ten minutes later extremely confused and also in a bad mood.

I discussed this strange occurrence with another friend not long after. She suggested that Whilona might have just had a bad day and was sensitive to criticism. To me, it still seems like an unjustified overreaction, but at least I know not to ever talk to Whilona in art class anymore. More importantly, I will remember that it is very easy for the moods of others to affect my own mood, so I should stay away from sour people.

Most of all, while it is good to be assertive, doing so does not come at the expense of being polite. The concept of a boss "bitch" is not a standard. There are many ways to say "no" to someone without offending them. The person that you're interacting with who may come off as rude might be experiencing a bad day as well. It is always a good idea to be considerate, and always a bad idea to be brusque. I know I'm not perfect, but I'm working towards that ideal.

Don't be a Whilona.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Life?

Sometimes I like to think about my life. No, not in that weird existentialist way. I've had plenty of that. Just mulling over the nuances of all the situations I've been in, the people I've met, the things that make me, me.

I'll be honest. There are times when I hate to be myself. I'm disappointed that I all I've managed to accomplish thus far in my life is that I've proven myself to be slightly above average in intelligence compared to my peers. There are people younger than I am, inventing cancer detection tests, devising solutions to aid the energy crisis, experiencing life in all its vivid potency, while I sit at home and read about them.

But reading about them won't help. Neither will sitting at my desk, doing nothing day after day because the darkness refuses to leave. But those people had their opportunities, circumstances, and experiences. There is no way that I can compare myself to them. The situation I'm in has all kinds of factors that contributed. The depressed person that I am right now is best dealt with as a separate entity; that's not me, and I refuse to believe that I will ever be just that. Sure, life is full of pointless b.s. but it's not ALL pointless b.s. There will come a time when I will be in a better place, have a better state of mind, and feel a greater sense of fulfillment. Right now might not be it, but it will come.

Part of the reason is that I'm scared. The world is a vast, lonely place. There are kind people, but also mean people. There are many problems, both individual and national. Despite this frightening outlook, it is important to take a step back and look at a the situation from a more personalized standpoint. It's not up to me to solve the world's problems. Everyone contributes. One person might not have 100% of the solution, but if 100 people have 1% of the solution, then that's enough. Which is why I'm glad to have opened up to people about what I'm going through, and in turn, found out things about people that I otherwise would never have known. Establishing human connections, and realizing that one is not the center of a desolate universe, gives me the strength to keep going.

Persistence is hard though. Life will continue with or without me. But unimportance is a blessing. I don't have the obligation to do anything that will change the world. That power is alluring, but terrifying. Without that duty, I can live, and live with purpose and verve. I can live a life all to my own, one that is not clouded with other people's judgements, because they don't need to matter. If a relationship must end, so be it. I don't need everyone to love me. Only the ones that matter. It's my life, and I am will decide how to live it.

I accept where I am right now. I know that opinion may change. But I refuse to give up.

It's time to begin.

This was supposed to be a lighthearted post about pancakes and chalk drawings. Really. Oh well.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Sad Update (Not Really)

So I haven't posted anything for a very long time, and there isn't a good reason for that except for the apathy. Even after "good" days, life still seems to be doing a downward spiral. For example, today was a "good" day, but throughout the day, I still found myself thinking, "I don't want to do this anymore. My life is falling apart, and I want to die." Like always, upon reexamination, I am forced to conclude that I do not want to die. I just don't want to have to deal with of the things around me anymore. Everything feels utterly pointless. I don't trust any of the people around me. Nothing makes sense.

But a few days ago, a thought occurred to me that it's ok if everything's not ok. As long as you don't break the law, you can move anywhere and start over again. What is success to me? It certainly isn't settling down in an average house, working a good-paying, comfortable, but average job, and dying an average death. Adventure awaits, and there is only one way to find it – by defying the expectations of society. A picture on one of my favorite Facebook sites (Humans of New York) shows this woman:

This is her caption: "I decided to leave my life eight months ago. Since then, I've been to Finland with a Latin American ballroom dancing team, toured Sweden with a Greek, met some Canadians in Amsterdam to watch the Olympics, and I'm about to head to Iraq to teach social media to soldiers in war zones."

So what if she doesn't make a six figure salary? She's probably done more for herself than any CEO in history. Given the choice of time or money, I can definitely say that I would pick time. In the end, in the last moments of your life, it doesn't matter to you what anyone else thinks. It matters what you thought of your life. Maybe it is satisfying to know that you've founded a business that has employed thousands of people. Or maybe you'd be happy knowing that you lived life with a sense of adventure. Either way, it's your life, and if humanity really will end someday, doing what makes you happy is the only thing that matters to your own self.

I know that might sound selfish, but the only person that truly cares for you is yourself. So do that. Do what makes you happy. If it means being individual and ignoring society so be it. Maybe this is true, or maybe its just teen-sy angst, but I'd rather be true to myself.

That was a really badly written post that turned out a lot longer than I expected it to.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still depressed, but that's ok because things will change.