Blogging Existential Crisis: NaBloPoMo Day 30

SNOWFLAKES ARE BACK ON WORDPRESS. MY LIFE IS COMPLETE. 1

This is how I’m feeling:

(no but actually, I’ve had this song on repeat the entire day.)

In other news, this is my second time experiencing the last day of NaBloPoMo. And just like this day last year, I’m feeling remarkably unaccomplished. [post from last year] I wasn’t nearly as invested in it this year, and the only thing I really accomplished was publish a good 8 posts that had been sitting in my drafts folder.

And go through a blogging existential crisis.

I was looking through some successful blogs, and I realized that blogs like theirs had been my original inspiration for starting my blog. And while they had gone about growing their following and joining the blogging community, I had crawled into the hole of claiming that this was a “personal” blog and spending hundreds, if not thousands, of hours meekly writing my own posts.

I suddenly wished that I had one of those successful blogs with a loyal followership and tons of comments on every post and a personalized site with pretty graphics and regular features and professional looking photography and everything. But I just hadn’t spent the time doing that. I ignored most of the advice I heard early on about blogging, namely to have an ideal audience in mind and write about a few topics consistently,  because  1) I didn’t have a particular area of expertise, and 2) that sounded like too much work. Why couldn’t I just write about whatever came to mind?

Now, nearly 2.5 years and 150 posts later,I still don’t have a good answer for 1), but  I can pull out a couple common themes throughout my posts, namely, math. school, and like, high school nerd life. I don’t know. If I have the time, I may give this blog a major revamp and start treating it more seriously. Or I’ll just wallow in blogging-existential-crisis pain. We’ll see.

In the meantime…

Potentially interesting statistics from NaBloPoMo 2014:

Posts: 30

Word count (not including today) (including titles, tags, etc.): 12,975

Difference in word counts from NaBloPoMo 2013 and NaBloPoMo 2014: 3648 (whoops)

Most popular post: Not something I wrote during NaBloPoMo.

Second most popular post: Ditto (hint: it was because of all the sophomores in WHAP)

Most popular post written this month: If you’ve never failed a test, you’re studying too much 11.05.2014

Least popular post written this month: Recommended Reading, 11.19.2014

Most popular day: 11.25.2014 (thanks again, sophomores)

Least popular day: 11.20.2014

Countries reached: 53

Most obscure country: Guernsey

Total ad revenue: $0.00

Goodbye NaBloPoMo, and happy December.



  1. Last year, I published my last post for NaBloPoMo past midnight with a sigh of relief and randomly went to another blog. I noticed the snowflakes falling on their site and became intensely jealous. I spent the next hour figuring out how to get them on my blog, and the next week, I obsessively changed my theme and background, trying to figure out how to make the snowflakes show up the best. This year, they came automatically. (thankfully) 

Stories from Middle/Elementary School: A Glance

I wrote this story in 6th grade. It’s based off a group of people I sat with in 4th grade, but some of the events are taken from 5th and 6th grade. When I submitted this story to my teacher, she recommended that I submit it to the school literary magazine, but I was terrified that people would find out who the characters were in real life, since I had written this as a love story in disguise. Nevertheless, after a lot of convincing from my friends and a secret desire for other people to read my writing, I submitted it. If you have the 2009-2010 Musings from Rogers, you’re in luck. 


 Ms. Lopez: “You’ve had these seats for too long. Time to switch.”

These are the fated words that will decide whom I can socialize with for the next few weeks. As Ms. Lopez looks around the room for potential suspects to relocate, I keep my fingers crossed. I don’t like the people I’m sitting next to, and I’ve haven’t changed seats the entire year.

Ms. Lopez: “Okay, now let’s have Amy, and…how about Fallon switch.”

I glance over at Fallon’s seat at the table closest to the door. My friend Emily is there, and Tom and Andrew, the other two guys, are about as close as you could get to “decent boys:” not too violent, played soccer during recess, and had a few good friends.

Bracing myself, I gather my stuff and walk over to Fallon’s old seat and sat down.

Andrew: “I hope you don’t make me laugh. Fallon made me laugh too much.”

What???

Me: “Why not? Laughing’s healthy!”

Andrew: “I can’t concentrate when I laugh!”

Me: “So…?”

Andrew: “I get problems wrong!”

Me: “But every time you laugh you gain 3 seconds in your life!”

Andrew: “So…?”

Emily and Tom, the other two people at our table, are listening to our conversation and jump in.

Tom: “Ok, would you rather get pretty good grades and live a long life, or get really good grades and live a shorter life?”

Emily, followed by my echo: “Yeah…”

Andrew pauses for a moment.

Andrew: “It doesn’t matter. The world’s going to end in 2012 anyway.”

Me: “True. But still, laughing’s healthy!”

Emily: “You actually believe the world’s going to end in 2012? Wow…”

Our conversation is interrupted by Ms. Lopez.

Ms. Lopez: “That’s enough changes for now. Now let me explain what we’ll be doing from now on.”

Everyone groans a little, but not too much. Just enough to let her know to make it short.

Ms. Lopez: “And I’ll try to make it short.”

Tom raises his watch and starts his the timer.

26 minutes and 39 seconds later, he presses stop.

Tom: “26 minutes and 39 seconds,”

Me: “You actually time her lectures?”

Tom: “Yeah, most of them.”

This is going to be an interesting table.

***

“Hey what did you get for #14?”

We’re working on a worksheet on how to add and subtract fractions after a lecture from Ms. Lopez on the importance of vocabulary in math and how we were the “only year” that the kids didn’t get it. We’re working on it together, talking and laughing along the way. (Andrew still has trouble concentrating).

“I’m not even there yet! You work too fast!”

“No I don’t! You work too slowly!”

“Well, Amy and I are at #12. And Andrew’s at #11. So you do work fast!”

“Slowpokes…”

“Whatever.”

“So…what did you get for #10?”

“Not telling.”

“What’s wrong with you???”

“Nothing.”

“Whatever.”

***

Tom: “Hey what’s that?” 

From my pencil bag, I pull out an origami wallet I had made from a carefully chosen sheet of light blue copy paper to hold my tickets. 

The ticket system was something our teachers had created to get us to do stuff. Whenever we answered the warm up question of the day correctly in class, our teacher would give us a ticket. Each grading cycle, the teachers chose a different currency that a ticket was “worth” and we could exchange our tickets in USD for prizes. We were disappointed when they chose the peso and delighted when it was the euro. (At the end of the year, we ended up with multiple dollars that went unspent)

Me: “Oh, just something I made to hold my tickets.”

(Yes!!! Someone finally noticed!)

Tom: “Whoa that’s so cool! Can you make one for me too?” 

Tom gives me a sheet of wide-ruled notebook paper. Instead of paying attention in class, I make all the familiar folds, and discreetly hand it back to him.

Emily: “Hey that’s not fair. Make me one too.”

Emily hands me a sheet of copy paper. A few minutes late, I give her a completed paper wallet. 

Word spreads, and two weeks later, nearly everyone in my grade has one of these “pocket folders” stored away in their pencil bags. I become popular. I cut up notebook paper to fit my “folder” and delicately cut out tabs to organize all the important 4th grade ideas circulating in my head. 

A month later, the fad passes. I still keep my pocket folder in my pencil bag. 

***

Me (whispering): “Andrew! What are you doing?”

We’re doing a long division worksheet and supposed to be showing all our work. I sneak a look at Andrew’s notebook. He’s randomly doodled all over the page.

He shrugs and giggles.

Andrew: “I don’t know…” 

Tom: “Hey, I just realized, Andrew, you’re the only right handed person at this table. Emily, Amy, and I are all left handed.”

Andrew: “WHAT? How did this happen? This isn’t fair!” 

The rest of us laugh at him. 

***

The next few weeks are a blur.

We build a marble roller coaster together with just a posterboard, masking tape, and the side of a table, debating over design and how to mount the base on the ground. 

We argue over who “stole” the idea of using Comic Sans for our typed (!!!)  science fact write-ups. 

We refuse to tell each other the answer to the daily warm up but then share them so we can get our tickets.

Andrew has to erase a letter from the “RECESS” board because we talk too much in class one day, and we share the shame of being the only table to not receive 5 tickets.

When we grade our math homework in class, we cheer when we got questions wrong and act angry when we get them right. In hindsight, this must have been obnoxious, but it’s hilarious to us at the time.

And we still tease Andrew for being the only right handed person. 

***

Whatever connection I had with that table disappeared once we stepped out of the room. We were only friends within the confines of Ms. Lopez’s room. At least that’s what I thought.

***

I’m sitting in Ms. McIntosh’s class. Tom’s at my table, but Emily and Andrew are at the other side of the room. 

Ms. McIntosh: “I don’t want to see you rushing on your work anymore. We are not playing the ‘imo hurrup n git thru’ game.”

The class cracks up as she writes “imo hurrup n git thru'” on the whiteboard.

However. 

This time is different for me. 

I start giggling.

Sneak a glance at Andrew. 

See that he’s laughing. 

And then really start laughing. 

***

This is just the first of multiple glances that I give Andrew during class every time before I laugh.

And maybe this is just me…

really just me…

maybe…

but…

I had this feeling he glanced back at me.

(It was probably just me, ok?) 

***

It’s the fateful day that we change seats again in Ms. Lopez’s class. 

She moves everyone away from our table except for me. 

I guess we did talk too much. 

I try to get used to my new neighbors, but I know that it won’t be the same. 

Andrew and I still exchange glances at each other from across the room.

At least I think so. 

Or…

Maybe it really was just me. 

What I’m Thankful for

My goal is to make the bulk of this post one sentence. Here goes:

A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany on how lucky I was, to be surrounded by intelligent peers who I could nerd out with for the sake of learning, especially in a school known for its 1) competitiveness and 2) diversity/divided student body, but also make have witty and intelligent conversations, and to have a mixture of good and bad teachers that make learning a wonderful experience, while also learning self-study skills, with the peer network and the Internet to help me, where I only have to worry about my grades occasionally; to have met an people with whom my interactions have varied, but have given me something valuable to devote my time to and receive a intangibly tangible reward (namely, SCHISD and Givology); growing up in a family that has taken care of all my basic needs and leaving me to be able to have non-third world struggles (but to not treat life too seriously) and with whom I’m adopted similar values, including one where we treat Black Friday as an experience, not an actual day to get good deals.

Ignore all the syntactical errors, and happy (late) Thanksgiving.

PSA: Stop Glamorizing Everything

I’m not just talking about how social media allows us to present an idealized version of ourselves.

I’m not talking about fashion magazines that photoshop their models.

I’m not talking about celebrity gossip culture and the dumbing down of television.

I’m talking about the subtle values that have been ingrained into our society and our blindness to changing them.

I’ve had the rest of this post written for a while, but with everything with Ferguson, this felt like the time to post. People keep getting caught up in the emotions and the media coverage, but in the long term, it’s just one battle in the long struggle for racial equality, something that at best will become a line in future history textbooks.

News stations would rather focus on conflicts and natural disasters than the gradual underlying processes of society because it’s easily digestible and easy to cover. Piece together a series of relevant facts, and BOOM. News article. New scientific advances are saved as filler material for “slow” days. (Unless of course it has to do with Justin Bieber.)

The Fault in Our Stars and similar books/movies have been accused of glamorizing cancer. I have a friend who told me, “I WANT TO GET CANCER AND GO TO AMSTERDAM FOR FREE” after reading the book. I was excited for the movie to come out, but when I was watching it, all I could think was, “This was clearly made to be a tearjerker. ALSO WHY IS AMSTERDAM SO PERFECT.”

Even schools are glamorizing themselves. Sports and extracurricular acheivements adorn the websites, while the academic achievements receive barely a line. It’s easy to fill up a page with sports highlights and art projects, while the picture of student smiling at a test tube has already been overused and doesn’t do justice to what academics are actually about.

And adults wonder why students don’t seem to value academics.

A few years ago, Jake Halpern surveyed a group of 650 students in New York about fame.

Here was one of their findings:

[Students were] asked: “When you grow up, which of the following jobs would you most like to have?” There were five options to chose from and, among girls, the results were as follows:

9.5% chose “the chief of a major company like General Motors”;

9.8% chose “a Navy Seal”;

13.6% chose “a United States Senator”;

23.7% chose “the president of a great university like Harvard or Yale”;

and 43.4% chose “the personal assistant to a very famous singer or movie star.”

Our shortened attention spans are notable. When sites like Buzzfeed become viral, yet no one wants to read the hardcore journalism, it’s safe to say something’s wrong. Youtube videos with superfast talking are the only thing that can hold our attention. I’ve had to start playing videos at 1.5x speed or else I get bored.

Can everything just slow down for a while?

*end rant

Edididididiting

When I was in 8th grade, we were required to write a short story as part of English class. We had been warned about the dangers of sharing our work with each other, namely plagiarism, but that didn’t stop us from uploading all our stories to Google Docs and asking each other for edits on Google Buzz. (!!!)

The morning they were due, we were talking about who edited each other’s stories, and after a while, saying “editing” became a tongue twister/

Anyways, with NaBloPoMo going on, I haven’t really been proofreading my posts properly, which resulted in 1) bad writing, and 2) a lot of password protected posts. I went back today and edited the formerly password protected posts enough so that they were presentable. And by editing, I mean “cutting everything unnecessary.” This means that every sentence I write goes through a mental “would I care” filter, and everything that doesn’t pass gets cut out.

This often leads to a bunch of ideas that are only vaguely connected and barely any content.

…Such as this post. Anyways, these were the posts I revived and wished more people had read at the time of publication.

The Outside Perspective

In an attempt to not care about what other people think, I’ve started saying things that in hindsight were a bit reckless. I’ve annoyed a fair number of people around me, and I’ve realized that I’ve said stupid things in the middle of a sentence and still kept going.

And yet, instead of caring for the welfare of others, I wonder, “Don’t I have the right to say this?”

I’ve recently realized how annoying my voice sounds, but I’m not even sure what the ideal is. High pitched? Happy? Super perfect flawless hair? Both the stereotypes of Asians and girls combined in one? I hate seeing myself on video or audio, which pretty much deprives me of any chance for improvement.

Here’s an excerpt from one of my middle school stories that captures my need to be seen, yet my fear at being perceived for what I was doing

I would exaggerate my actions whenever Timothy was anywhere close in an attempt to catch his attention. Laugh a little harder, speak a little louder, wave my hands more, all while stealing glances in his direction. No response.

From what I could observe, Timothy was a quiet person who kept a small group of friends. If anything, I had to get him to acknowledge me by not being outlandish and crazy, unless I wanted to be perceived as an insane 7th grader. On the other hand, he had no reason for noticing me unless I stood out in some way, say, being outlandish and crazy.  (Nevermind actually, like, talking to him.)

It’s easier to not have to worry about what anyone else thinks, but it’s also deluded to completely block out any feedback mechanisms. (cough school system.)

In other news, Ferguson. Whether it was the “right” decision or not, Darren Wilson is still going to have a difficult life ahead of him and it still sparked a national conversation about race, even if the law doesn’t recognize it. I trust the jury to make an informed (not necessarily unbiased) decision, especially since they spent weeks discussing it and understand it better than any of us probably do. I see remnants of the civil rights movement showing through– something unique to the African American experience.

Also, apparently, some sophomores going through WHAP right now found one of my study guides from last year during NaBloPoMo. Wheee I’m famous.

Things I should care more about

  • world news
  • politics
  • Bellaire’s new school building
  • history
  • my health
  • trich
  • my appearance/what I wear

These are mostly societal expectations (ok maybe not the health stuff), but honestly, I don’t really see a reason to care about something unless it directly impacts me and/or is irreversible. For instance, I don’t pay taxes and can’t vote yet. Why should I care about politics? Maybe once I’m 18 and/or have income, but not now.

As long as someone cares about a cause, it’s not imperative that everyone cares about every cause. I have my own set of causes that I’ll devote time and effort towards; other people have their causes. I feel like everyone’s interests will organically organize towards what’s important, whether it’s in a world or community context (“Think globally, act locally”)

I am bad and I should feel bad.

I was going to write a extensive post about how I suck at public speaking and how it’s painful having to actively do something I know I suck at and have other people judge me. Then I stumbled upon this lovely article on Twitter, and it perfectly matched what I was thinking.

It’s easy to say that the only way to get better at speaking is to do more of it, but it’s harder to do so once you see the people around you be charismatic and you’re stumbling in an awkward high pitched voice in the

The only point of solace here is Paul Graham’s “Writing and Speaking,” in which he argues that being able to write out good ideas is more valuable than speaking bad ideas.

(This is one of the few reasons that I wish I hadn’t quit debate.)