Monday, March 28, 2011

Amelia Bearhart

I dressed my teddy bear up like Amelia Earhart to get extra credit in history class. I sewed her hat myself, and no those are not Speedo swim goggles... They are legit aviator goggles. My friend nicknamed her Amelia Bearhart, which is pretty ingenious.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rules and Regulations

I just spent about forty-five minutes in English class--and about fifteen earlier in history--learning how to properly format an MLA style research paper. It felt like four years, although in that length of time I probably would have finished my doodle of Percy Jackson (which reminds me: I need to post a list of all the fabulous books I have been reading lately). The biggest thing I took away from the lesson was a renewed appreciation for blogging and other informal, non-structured types of writing. I understood suddenly (although I've no idea why it took me this long) why pretty much everyone else hates writing. They only write when they have to, and when they have to, it's miserable!

Blogging is good. In my blog, I can write however I want, about whatever I want, and it will be whatever spacing I want it to be. I don't have to worry about how I'm going to format my works cited page when I've finished this post. I can use the word "I" if I want to. I can use the words "you," and "your," and "our," and "we." I can have as many or as few paragraphs as I want, and I can block them off like this instead of having to worry about whether to indent them using the tab key or by pressing the space bar five times! I don't have to have a thesis statement at the end of my introductory paragraph. In fact, I don't even have to have and introductory paragraph! I can just jump right into it! I can use exclamation points as often as I like and use as many as I want at a time!!! And question marks: why use one when you can use three???

I don't have to worry about whether every single sentence I write supports, either directly or indirectly, my thesis statement! I can have random, ridiculous sentences that relate to nothing in the middle of a paragraph. Samuel Morse invented the telegraph. Writing is an art, not a science, no matter what you're writing about. I think (also a phrase I'm not supposed to use) more people would enjoy writing if it wasn't so structured all the time. Remember being children, when the best games were the ones you made up as you went along?

Now, just so we're clear, a word on proofreading and revising (my history teacher told us today not to start paragraphs this way): Proofreading is almost always good. In fact, I'm having a hard time coming up with an example of when proofreading isn't good, so I'm just going to go ahead and say it's always good. Proofreading is going back over what you've written and making sure you haven't made any embarrassing mistakes that will make others question your command of the English language. For example, I just tried to spell "embarrassing" with only one "r," but Firefox gently informed me that it was incorrect with a little red line underneath it (which I personally prefer to Word's Auto-Correct assaults). I'm glad I went back and changed the spelling because a mistake like that would have been very embarassing indeed.

Revising is like proofreading for structure. This is also good because it helps you make sure that whatever piece of writing you're working on is as good as it can be. That doesn't mean making drastic stylistic changes to fit some arbitrary style of formatting. It means moving words, sentences, and even paragraphs around so that your audience may understand you more clearly. I, admittedly, don't do much of this on my blog as I tend to simply spew whatever is in my mind into the little post box in whatever order it happens to come out.

I'm the editor of my school newspaper. I may have already told you that, but I'm too lazy to go back and check. If I have, I apologize, I am not telling you again to toot my own horn, I promise I am getting ready to make a point. Here comes my point: Editing is good. I would sooner have many horrible things happen to me than let some of the stories I've seen go to press unedited. I even have to correct according to style a lot of times, because it is a newspaper and it is better if everything is consistent, writing-wise, throughout. Still, I prefer writing and editing for the newspaper to even thinking about this MLA-style essay. Maybe it's because the AP (Associated Press) style is far more practical, IMHO (ooh, an acronym, those are super-extra not allowed), than MLA. But that could just be me. I wonder if the world would explode if we just let everybody write his graduation project paper how he pleases, without having to worry about whether his in-text citations are formatted properly.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Loathsome Diseases

Presently, I have typhoid and yellow fever rampaging through my system. It's okay, a doctor gave them to me. I don't think I'm going to die. Really, this is just like immune system boot camp, or more like a foxhunt I guess, where I let my immune system get a good whiff of a couple of dangerous criminals, so they know what to keep an eye out for while I'm deep in the Amazon jungle. Exciting, right? Well, right now it's not so exciting. Right now, my arm's just a little sore. I have a glittery band-aid, though, so I know everything's going to be okay.

I'm lucky, because I'm old enough to take the typhoid vaccine as a capsule, so I only had to get one shot. It's weird knowing that I'm swallowing germs, and even weirder having germs injected into you. Honestly, I could have lived my entire life more comfortably not knowing exactly how vaccines work.

What was even scarier was the refrigerator in the room. A couple of orange pieces of paper (that wouldn't have suffered from being a little bigger, in my opinion) warned against unplugging the fridge or not closing it all the way because it had vaccines inside. What popped into my head when I read this was like something out of a cartoon or sci-fi movie where some careless employee ignores the warning and an ominous green or black fog monster awakens and escapes, seeking to infect unsuspecting victims. I watched closely to make sure our nurse closed the door tightly. She did. I'm pretty sure.

The anticipation was far worse than any discomfort the actual shot caused me. Therefore, despite logic, I was extremely nervous during medical conversations before the needle. (I could never be addicted to heroin.) When the nurse asked--or "axed," which is a concerning pronunciation error for someone in charge of your health to make--questions about my medical history, I would respond with my best impression of a deer in headlights and ask if this was a pass/fail course or if I had to make an "A." My mother would laugh lightly and then shoot daggers at me with her eyes as soon as the nurse turned around. She didn't appreciate my jokes as much as the nurse did.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Dress to Impress

Lately, I've been trying to find a prom dress.

That doesn't sound nearly as difficult as it is. I could have said "Lately, I've been whacking bee hives for the sport of it," and given a much more accurate description of the problems this is causing me. But then you would have pictured me valiantly wielding a stick of some nature, moronically but heroically battling bees. Dress shopping has yet to become that exciting.

Here's what really happens: I walk into a store and immediately decide that I don't like anything. Then I pick out one or two dresses and carry them around awkwardly while my mother (and/or anyone else who is with me) picks out five or six and hands them to me as well. After about ten minutes, I am not even visible anymore, and what finally squeezes into the dressing room more closely resembles a large, expensive pile of tulle and organza than a human. (Also, I now know what words like "tulle" and "organza" mean. I've become at least 2.7% fancier since I started this adventure.) I usually wind up hating everything or falling head-over-high-heels in love with the one that is so expensive there is no way I can get it and go to college. I hate prioritizing.

Due to the difficulty of shopping in real stores, I turned to the magical world of the Internet where anything is possible. Except, apparently, finding a dress. No, I take that back. I found a ton of dresses online. Several of them were even reasonably priced. But it's never that easy.

It's always a little sketchy when the return policy is written in broken English. Apparently at least half of the dress websites out there are owned and operated by the same company in China. They are able to sell dresses for less because they make each dress the way you order it: your size, your color, everything. A cheap, custom made dress exactly for me? Why, thank you. Wait, what do you mean I can't try it on and decide if I like it?! No, I have to look at the picture on the computer and decide, once and for all, that I want the dress, because once they send it to me, it's mine and I probably couldn't pay them to take it back, according to the return policy (but they might have just meant I couldn't get a refund--there's really no way to be sure). Thanks, China Wholesale.

I started looking on other, more expensive, non-Chinese websites. I'm constantly reminded that I'm fighting this year's "prom style," which is clearly straight, print dresses. I've probably waded through hundreds of pages of these dresses looking for what I'm interested in. I'm not even exaggerating. Hundreds.

Let me tell you, trying to be true to your personality when dress shopping is a mistake. Conform. Go with the flow. Surrender individuality. It will be okay; you will still have a soul when it's over. At this point, I've invested too much blood, sweat and tears to give up, but if you are reading this in time, save yourself. Really.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Another Brick in the Wall

I'm feeling rather disenchanted with school today. It started in first period, and each class after that built up a wave of apathy and depression and just general all-around misery that overcame me. Nothing matters anymore.

Grades are just about the worst thing that ever happened to adolescents. Tell us we're all equal, and then score the value of our brains--our thoughts, opinions, ideas--with a number. If your number is lower than that of the kid at the desk next to you, you're not as good as that kid. You are not worth as much as that kid. You may as well crawl into a corner and cry, because unless you manage to raise your number--your grade--next to that kid, you are dirt. That's what the school would have you believe. Sorry, not buying it.

I'm not usually like this. Okay, maybe I'm always a little cynical, but I'm not usually this bad. I am even capable of realizing the fact that this will probably wear off as soon as tomorrow, but right now, I can't make myself care.

When lunch was drawing to a close, my friend asked me, "What time do we get out of here?" I'm pretty sure he just wanted to know what time lunch ended.

I dejectedly replied, "Never. Not really." The face he gave me was pretty great, but it only slightly improved my mood.

I'm so over high school. I was over high school years ago, but it didn't matter then. Now, I'm really done. I do homework, and it doesn't matter. I don't do homework, and it does matter. I'm tired of playing this ridiculous game. Why do I have to try to achieve some ridiculous score? Grade school is like a bad arcade game that stopped being fun ten years ago but you're not allowed to stop playing until you graduate. Actually, you're allowed to stop playing before that, but then they point at you and shake their heads and tell you that you have no future, and they throw numbers in your face about how hard it is to get a job as a high school dropout. What they don't tell you is that if you hated high school enough to leave, you'd probably hate the jobs they use to get those numbers, too.

I'm not thinking about dropping out. Like I said, I'm just at a teenage emotional low right now. I understand the value of a good education. I love learning. I never want to stop learning. I just want to be done with high school.