Bucket List (edited July 21, 2017)

Guidelines for the bucket list:

  • Ideas that excite me
  • Recurring desires
  • Things that I can do stuff toward
  • Can add, edit, or remove items at any time
  • Are in no particular order
  • Are by no means obligations but rather picture of my ambitions and imagination and rainbows and ponies and idk seen through clouds on a subtly windy day
  1. Read 50 books in one year
  2. Write 70 pages that I’m proud of
  3. Finish a cohesive collection of writing
  4. Finish writing a novel
  5. Publish a poem in one of my favorite journals
  6. Publish an essay in one of my favorite journals
  7. Write and produce a play
  8. Write a piece that scares me in a good way
  9. Learn how to make and manipulate garment patterns (make three variations of each?)
  10. Design and make a dress
  11. Learn to cook a week of meals
  12. Learn to cook bao zi, jiao zi, zong zi, man tou, cong you bin, jian bin the way my mother makes them
  13. Eat a whole foods, plants-based diet (for at least a year, and maintain)
  14. Learn to give a genuine compliment
  15. Finish CS50X and consequently learn some C, Python, JavaScript, SQLite, CSS, HTML
  16. Figure out how to program by doing cool stuff (make one project that I initiate and implement)
  17. Learn C++, Java
  18. Do the splits
  19. Do a single pirouette without falling over
  20. Do a double pirouette
  21. Do a triple pirouette
  22. Developpe above 90 degrees
  23. Become strong enough to do all the combinations in ballet class that we’re supposed to do on demi-pointe on demi-pointe without falling over
  24. Learn modern (take a class for at least two semesters)
  25. Read a non-L’Elegance du Herisson book in French
  26. Read L’Elegance du Herisson (one of my favorite books and my favorite translated book in the original language)
  27. Become proficient in French
  28. Become proficient in Chinese
  29. Learn American Sign Language
  30. Learn another language (take advantage of whatever opportunities come my way)
  31. Choreograph a dance
  32. Get to know my town (Explore two other neighborhoods for at least one hour each, visit the other library, visit a park for at least an hour)
  33. Get to know another town or city (Walk around exploring the streets for at least two hours, visit the library, visit a local restaurant or food-related establishment, visit a park for at least an hour)
  34. Live in Senegal (for at least six weeks)
  35. Live in France (for at least six weeks)
  36. Live in Vermont (for at least six weeks)
  37. Live in Oregon (for at least six weeks)
  38. Live somewhere rural (for at least six weeks)
  39. Live in a city (for at least six weeks)
  40. Live somewhere on the West Coast (for at least six weeks)
  41. Live somewhere in the Midwest (for at least six weeks)
  42. Visit California
  43. Visit Denmark
  44. Visit Finland
  45. Visit Sweden
  46. Work in an environmental science research lab
  47. Write for a periodical publication (for at least four months)
  48. Learn to type with the Dvorak keyboard (with at least the same speed as with the U.S. keyboard)
  49. Learn to improv
  50. Write and give a speech with at least 100 people in the audience
  51. Be confident making up the moves up as I go (while dancing while people are watching)
  52. Get a job being paid to do something I’m excited about
  53. Produce a short film
  54. Visit the town where I was born
  55. Find a writing group/ community
  56. Find a community interested in sustainability
  57. Read at an open mic
  58. Do a reading (poetry or other writing)
  59. Make lasting friendships in college
  60. Get to know office staff in college
  61. Get to know a professor in college
  62. Host a themed party
  63. Coordinate an event
  64. Be cool enough to have an author website
  65. Be okay with talking to people
  66. Wear an outfit that displays my dream level of sophistication
  67. Read the entire Bible
  68. Grow a garden for at least two years
  69. Be content with my wardrobe
  70. Become financially independent
  71. Stop being so busy
  72. Learn how to listen
  73. Learn how to speak
  74. Become the boss of my insecurities rather than the other way around
  75. Learn the confidence to say what I think
  76. Find a good reason for this blog’s existence

in which I start on senioritis and high school student expectations and end on colleges and the uncertainty of life

I wrote this before I received college admissions decisions. I don’t think this will be the last time I write about the topics in this post.

Senior Year Again, A Revised Rant/ Response to What Other People Said It’s Like

There are certain attitudes which people will generalize to something called “everyone” and it most nearly always doesn’t apply to actually everyone. So here are some of my thoughts on my experiences.

In mid-December of my senior year in high school, I was starting to see senioritis sinking in. I thought back to when I had never-ending ambition to buckle up and get work down to make progress on my understanding and mastery of course material, back when I thought I was going to fail AP Chemistry because I wasn’t smart enough and I thought it might have been a mistake for me to sign up for the class. I have prided myself on being a diligent person who doesn’t take shortcuts and who cares about the intrinsic process of learning. It’s hard to really be that with some of the strange structuring of the school system and dishonest behavior of peers dragging me down emotionally, but I was starting to think that all ideals are aspirational–things we work towards but can never achieve, things we can approach but never reach, like an asymptote. In December I was getting tired and thinking that there are better things for me to do than some of the things I’m expected to do as a high school student. And sometimes there are things that can’t be done. But I don’t think senioritis is a right.

Back when I started writing this post in December, it was a few days after one day when a portion of one of my classes blew up over senioritis. They argued with the teacher that they should be allowed to indulge in senioritis, that they needed a break after years of school. I actually kind of get that, and I myself have seriously considered taking a bridge year between high school and college so that I don’t have seemingly nonstop school. However, I think that there are some disordered habits within much of the student body which contribute to the problem. Students should be relaxing throughout the years of school, balancing deep work with deep relaxation, hopefully taking a day off each week. Though actually we have so much homework and school piles it on for AP courses during the summer. Summer’s too short, summer work’s too much. Some students find themselves thinking they’ll starve themselves of sleep and make it up during the weekend. That’s not how sleep works…though school also starts too early for me. I see people with caffeine dependencies and people with the mindset of just getting through this and making it until the weekend, and I wonder, how did you fall into this? Yet I myself sometimes fall into these places that are hard to get out of.

Some teachers keep saying that the problem is because people are telling us what to do. One teacher said that we shouldn’t be taking so many APs, especially on top of so many time-intensive extracurricular activities, but that then again parents and counselors and colleges are telling us to take on so much and build up a resume for the colleges. Another teacher commented that probably most people joined a club she advises in order to pad their resumes. I find these ideas ridiculous. One, if you ask pretty much any college representative (or at least the ones I have heard from), they are looking for commitment, depth of involvement, and basically meaningful things that tell about you as a person. Since when do laundry list items satisfy any of those things? Since when does getting volunteer hours for selling raffle tickets–or bringing in canned food that my parents paid for and picked up–make me look like a good person? Since when does it make sense to sacrifice your life for a college that will be so much harder that you won’t have the motivation to even get through that? I believe that college work is harder than high school work if you’re doing it right (but not busier–for me, that would be impossible). College requires more responsibility and personal motivation than in high school–so why would you fake having what it takes?

On why I am taking so many AP classes: I am taking four AP courses. That is not a lot compared to some people I know but I don’t think I can handle more than that and still find the time I invest worthwhile. There are only so many classes available and the most challenging ones in my school are APs. I want to take challenging coursework so that I won’t be bored–and I have been bored and underchallenged in school courses throughout much of my life. I used to think school was supposed to be easy, but it started getting boring in high school. In a way, AP courses seem to underchallenge me, or perhaps it is just my high tolerance for challenge, or perhaps it is my habit of overpreparing for projects and assessments–in some courses, I was surprised to hear my classmates freaking out about the difficulty of the content and assessments which I found stressfully difficult only when I fell behind or did not do the required preparation. The main strain was on time because sometimes it’s just not possible to get all the necessary work done if you only have so much time.

About doing more activities so I can look good for college applications: Literally, when I was recruiting members for the environmental club while trying to found it, I told someone I knew and she was like “Yeah, I’ll join. I need more clubs.” I’m not sure if she cared about the environment. She didn’t go to a single meeting, though I didn’t talk to her about it anymore because I was looking for enthusiastic and motivated members, not filler material. But the whole “more clubs” is pretty generic, like do you even care? When I was in ninth grade, my school counselor recommended to me and another ninth grader that we join at least ten clubs. This is how many clubs at my school I have attended meetings for:

  1. Debate Team
  2. Art Club
  3. Environmental Club
  4. Poetry Out Loud
  5. Endangered Species Club, which I joined in 12th grade because of its relationship with the environmental club
  6. Literary magazine, for which I attended an info meeting but the club didn’t happen
  7. A somewhat obscure philosophical and political discussion club, even though I didn’t actually join…I just observed the club a few times for a writing assignment
  8. Economics Club, if going to one meeting and deciding that I wouldn’t commit counts

Anyway, I already have lots of other activities. I wasn’t interested in any of the volunteering clubs, not because I don’t care about other people because I didn’t think those clubs’ activities were an effective use of my time. So maybe I would have looked like a better person if I had more regular community service commitments. I also claim to be interested in STEM but I don’t have any clubs involving science or engineering–does that mean I’m wrong? I wanted to join Robotics in eleventh grade but I couldn’t add it into my already busy schedule. I also wanted to audition for the musical but didn’t have time to even get involved in the production. Some people think I am being pushed into STEM because of its reputation for having stable careers or something like that, and because I have a clear interest in the arts and humanities. However, I like math. I like computer science. I like using the tools of math to solve scientific problems. I don’t want to think that there is a conflict between my many interests anymore.

I wasn’t always so enthusiastic about STEM, I think partly because I was trying to rebel against my parents and expectations in middle school. I actually considered joining some of the STEM academic competition clubs in ninth and tenth grade but I decided that I didn’t want to spread myself thin and instead I wanted to focus on ballet. I didn’t have a deep interest in science in 9th grade. It has felt to me as if people keep assuming that you’ll know what you want to be in 9th grade. Like when my physics teacher in 9th grade said if you want to be a playwright maybe you shouldn’t take AP Chemistry because it’s a waste of your time. I thought I wanted to be a playwright in 9th grade (not that I had written any plays). The thing is, once I started being challenged in science classes, I realized that I actually enjoy science. It became difficult and intellectually fulfilling, just like writing.

I read the guides online about how to get into those colleges and how you need to start from 9th grade. Which is why I was getting worried, that I didn’t quite make enough accomplishments in writing or whatever. I was just trying to live? I was just trying to do what I loved to do, which was to read and write, at the time. And maybe I haven’t been doing that as much now, because I’m not actually good at it. That’s kind of why I haven’t been writing so much–I figure I might spend time on things that I can actually do good at. But now I do want to get into a top school because of the challenge, because I really need to stretch and grow. But if I don’t get there, I can do an easier school, a less challenging program, and find a way to make the most of it. Because I have been doing this in school for much time and I can keep doing life. So life. So life so life so life.

This whole college obsession thing is kind of ridiculous I guess. Like in middle school there would be those parents who purposefully get into conversations to exchange info on their kids–SAT scores, etc. And now it’s college admissions–applications, acceptances, rejections, and it seems kind of weird. I mean I get it to some degree, this feeding off information and knowledge–it’s why people like trash gossip, not just the constructive kind of gossip if there’s such a thing, but this horrible trashy stuff like you would find on nerd E-news if I even know what that would be like.

I don’t know what school I want to go to or really what major I want to do or whatever. I’ve been thinking there are places I want to go to school. But really I want to get into a school that was at multiple points my top choice. I evaluated it practically and it fits with my goals and interests. I want to get in early so that I won’t have to worry about what school I’ll go to or about going to one of my second-tier choice schools. But who knows really. Because really it doesn’t matter because no matter what (even if I get rejected from every school) there will be a place to go, a choice, a life, a journey. And yes, I’ll have to keep on going–keep on keeping on no matter what. And what’s worth it is that I’ve been starting to live, albeit in a crooked way. My crooked neighbor, see my crooked heart.

teenager

I don’t know where my childhood ends, and I don’t know where my adulthood starts. I remember a timed writing assignment in fourth or fifth grade on my favorite childhood toy with a prompt that implied my childhood was in the past. I remember thinking when I was ten or eleven, and still distinctly considered myself a child, that teenagerhood was a disgusting category all its own–completely different from childhood and adulthood, and a completely unfavorable experience for pretentious kids who want their lives to be knockoff reality TV. To me, being a teenage girl meant shopping at Aero and Abercrombie, meant wearing clothing that was uncomfortably tight, meant swearing and approving of middle school stairwell makeout seshes, meant starting and engaging in all kinds of drama, meant exclusive clique-iness while claiming that my friend group was in fact very inclusive, meant making fun of the freshmen in high school once I was done being a freshman in high school, meant making my parents spend all sorts of money on a new Vera Bradley item each month, meant makeup and curled hair and gossip. After I turned thirteen, for a long time I rebelled against accepting the notion that I was a teenager, and I found further reason to do so when I could only remember hearing the term to describe me when my dad spat “such a teenager” when I espoused contrarian views or got into fights with my parents.

It wasn’t until one day when a friend told me that I was about seventeen and that was a good age to start trying to enter discourse that adults were engaging in, that it sunk in. I’m seventeen, I thought. I’m really seventeen. I realized that I was not only a teenager but nearing the upper end of the teenager years, that soon I would be an adult, and that I felt way too much like a dependent kid, and that maybe it was partly because I was being treated like a kid. Half a year later, I read Hamlet in my literature class in senior year, and saw parts of myself in Ophelia, who was much older than I was. Ophelia’s father told her she was a baby and that she should listen to him because she didn’t know what to think on her own. A line that I remember is her saying, “I do not know, my lord, what I should think.” I read a post on the Adroit Journal Blog where the author argued that Ophelia is a quintessial teenage girl because of the way her own thinking and feelings are erased by the men around her.

Sometimes I feel like my teenagerhood consists of the time after I realized that I was seventeen and almost eighteen and therefore a teenager. I think I called myself a teenager before that–I remember specifying that I was a teenager (or a high schooler, at the very least) on the About page of this blog when I started it, and probably in another post. By calling myself a teenager, I was trying to show how much I wasn’t a teenager, I was trying to show that I could think what I thought were adult thoughts and live what I considered adult concepts like minimalism and sustainability too. I didn’t like Aero and Abercrombie or Forever 21, I didn’t like fast fashion and fast food. I liked Everlane and Sezane, I liked Gregorian chant. It bothered me when I wrote poems about teenage romance and existential crises, because that seemed too immature to me.

I have since changed my thinking on what it means to be a teenager. I still feel weird associating the term teenager with me sometimes. When I showed my school counselor a mood board I put together for a college application, she said she liked it because it showed that I wasn’t just a top student but also a teenager who liked to have fun. One day last year my wellness teacher said something about being a teenager–he was giving a quick statement on distracted driving, and just said that teenagers are part kid, part adult, and that we can be kids with our friends in the cafeteria, but we had to be adults when doing adult things like driving. And I think maybe that was the best explanation of teenagerhood that I hadn’t been given until then, really.

The idea of teenagerhood I had been given was that teenagers are bad and rebellious and angsty and annoying and immature. I never really fit in with the people around me, and I hadn’t had the best experiences with the older kids when I was younger since some of them were nice but the others just kept to themselves and seemed to think they were too good to associate with younger children (I don’t think that’s the case anymore, now that I’ve been on the other side and have been too anxious or nervous to talk to people that I felt no negative feelings toward, including those younger than me). My dad used the word “teenager” in what I took to be an insult, and I think that underscored my urge to prove I was absolutely not a teenager.

In some ways I might be right about my teenagerhood starting late and seeming so short. Because for so much of the time before, I tried so hard not to be a teenager, to not have the middle ground between child and adult. I wanted to keep the best things about childhood while also taking on the responsibility of adult, while skipping the confusion and mistakes and immaturity that teenagers can fall into. But I think by trying to navigate the path from childhood to adulthood, and struggling while doing so, and trying to define for myself who I am while others created their own interpretations of me and my age, then I was effectively being a teenager, albeit a teenager who hasn’t fit in many other teenagers. And I think there’s something I have liked about adulthood, or at least my idea of adulthood–that although the world is bigger and scarier than it was in childhood, there won’t be high school to squeeze me into such narrow notions of what it means to be a human being who is interesting and interacts with others.