More Than Me (and You)

In 2006, Katie Meyler, a 23-year old from New Jersey, got a job in Liberia teaching adult literacy. While she was there, she heard about West Point, one of the most notorious slums in the country. She started making friends with people there and, being a big kid herself, became friends with kids in the neighborhood. Over and over again, she’d ask them, “If you could have anything in the world, what would you want?” And over and over again, they’d say, “We just want to go to school!

Katie posted their stories on her MySpace page, which was cool at the time, and friends and family started wiring her money. When she started sponsoring more kids in school, a lawyer friend encouraged her to start her own organization. She was afraid she wasn’t enough – smart enough, educated enough, pretty enough. But then her best friend looked her dead in the face and said, “Get over yourself. It’s not about you!” So she named the organization More Than Me.

From Teaching to Saving Lives, More Than Me

One of my favorite quotes, hands down. It combines education, the selfless spirit, and an overall fantastic organization. I learned of their story through Givology and got to interview them over social media a few months before they became Ebola fighters and amongst TIME’s people of the year.

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A Smorgasbord of Quotes (Part 2)

Lighthouse

What are quotes without a generic photo to accompany them

The second half of quotes (see Part 1 here) that I’ve saved in my Google Keep. These date back to when I first started using Keep back in sophomore year and go to early this year. (Most evident through the works some of these quotes come from.)

Vlogbrothers on Racism:

While I think statistics and data are really important, I also think it’s important to listen to the voices of people who have been affected by racism. Data is cold in a way that humans are not, and to really understand these statistics and their impact on the real lives of real people we need to find ways to listen to those people.

W.E.B. Dubois:

I was a little thing, away up in the hills of New England, where the dark Housatonic winds between Hoosac and Taghkanic to the sea. In a wee wooden schoolhouse, something put it into the boys’ and girls’ heads to buy gorgeous visiting-cards — ten cents a package — and exchange. The exchange was merry, till one girl, a tall newcomer, refused my card, — refused it peremptorily, with a glance. Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil. I had thereafter no desire to tear down that veil, to creep through; I held all beyond it in common contempt, and lived above it in a region of blue sky and great wandering shadows.

[…]

After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world, — a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness, — an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife, — this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of opportunity closed roughly in his face.

Trich email lists:

We ALL know that it doesn’t matter how long we stop for or how embarrassed and insecure trich makes us feel, it’ll ALWAYS be there. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade or seem like a pessimist but we HAVE to be REALISTIC. That’s the only way we can get through trich. I stopped pulling for a little more than half a year. That’s a really fucking long time when you have trich lol. But all it took was for me to pull one hair…one hair and all my hard work to go to shit. I’m not saying you can never stop pulling because obviously you can, I’m saying most likely than not, it will come back and make up for time lost. Boy, if I could show you pictures of the damage I’d done! It was bad. But now I know what triggers my trich, what I should and shouldn’t do if I want to maintain not pulling. Now I know that it only takes one damn hair to ruin everything I’ve worked hard for. So now, when I get bored, I find something else to do. I don’t let the feeling (a feeling that WILL pass if you give it time I might add) get to me. That’s what you need to do and stop worrying about finding a cure because as of now, THERE IS NO CURE. Work with what you got and I promise you, happiness and relief will come from there.

I don’t even remember the source:

“Trillions of frames get caught by your eyes that get deleted. Most of your life is 1 player snapchat.” -Deep thoughts by Finbarr Taylor

Writing advice (Posted this once during NaBloPoMo):

Write 50 words . That’s a paragraph.
Write 400 words . That’s a page.
Write 300 pages. That’s a manuscript.
Write everyday. That’s a habit.
Edit and Rewrite. That’s how you get better.
Spread your writing for people to comment. That’s called feedback.
Dont worry about rejection or publication. That’s a writer.
When not writing, read. Read from writers better than you. Read and Perceive.

More Paul Graham:

Don’t ignore your dreams; don’t work too much; say what you think; cultivate friendships; be happy.

Not the Iliad (Despite what the internet says):

The gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment may be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again

Of Mice and Men:

“Funny thing,” she said. “If I catch any one man, and he’s alone, I get along fine with him. But just let two of the guys get together an’ you won’t talk. Jus’ nothing but mad.” She dropped her fingers and put her hands on her hips. “You’re all scared of each other, that’s what. Ever’ one of you’s scared the rest is goin’ to get something on you.”

Mussolini:

War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put men into the position where they have to make the great decision-the alternative of life or death. Thus a doctrine which is founded upon this harmful postulate of peace is hostile to Fascism.

Atlantic articles about the email equivalent of Snapchat:

There is sadness in this, certainly; there’s also an implied nostalgia. But there’s something powerful in it, too. Not only does a service like Pluto have obvious privacy implications—it’s hard to have your privacy violated when there is no record to do the violating—but it also makes a statement about how we want to conduct our communications in the first place. Do we want them to be on the record, or off? Do we want them to be permanent, or ephemeral? Do we want an Internet that is, as we are, able to forget … or one that insists, always, on remembering?

On the difference between guilt and shame:

“Guilt says I’ve done something wrong; shame says there is something wrong with me.

Guilt says I’ve made a mistake; shame says I am a mistake.

Guilt says what did was not good; shame says I am no good.”

Bradshaw (1988).

From another blog:

If you’re doing it for someone else, even if you enjoy it, you’re more likely to do the least amount required, to focus on satisfying the requirements set by someone else, rather than really digging in to it. We’ve all had that experience in school.

You can make the claim that kids don’t know what’s best for them so we need to force it on them. That they’ll appreciate this in the future. There is some truth to this statement (I won’t let my two year old reach her hand in to a fire no matter what), but you have to admit, based on your own experiences in the world when you are forced to do something against your will, that we are complicating, if not ruining, the joy of learning for millions of students every day.

The Ox-Bow Incident:

“You think I’m crazy, don’t you? It always seems crazy to tell the truth. We don’t like it; we won’t admit what we are. So I’m crazy.”

From SuperMemo:

Myth: Hypertext can substitute for memory.

An amazingly large proportion of the population holds memorization in contempt. Terms “rote memorization”, “recitatory rehearsal”, “mindless repetition” are used to label any form of memorization or repetition as unintelligent. Seeing the “big picture”, “reasoning” and leaving the job of remembering to external hypertext sources are supposed to be viable substitutes.

Fact: Knowledge stored in human memory is associative in nature. In other words, we are able to suddenly combine two known ideas to produce a new quality: an invention. Hypertext references are a poor substitute for associative memory. Two facts stored in human memory can instantly be put together and bring a new idea to life. The same facts stored on the Internet will remain useless until they are pieced together inside a creative mind. A mind rich in knowledge, can produce rich associations upon encountering new information. An empty mind is as useful as a toddler given the power of the Internet in search of a solution. Biological neural networks work in such a way that knowledge is retained in memory only if it is refreshed/reviewed. Learning and repetition are therefore still vital for the progress of mankind. This humorous text explains the importance of memory: It is not just memorizing

One last Paul Graham quote:

There are simply no outside forces pushing high school to be good. The air traffic control system works because planes would crash otherwise. Businesses have to deliver because otherwise competitors would take their customers. But no planes crash if your school sucks, and it has no competitors. High school isn’t evil; it’s random; but random is pretty bad.

Personal notes:

  • I suck at sticking to schedules
  • Board meeting, StuCon meeting, District administration meeting all coming up within 2 weeks.
  • Trich has been and will be giving me a bad hair day for the next few months.
  • Is it bad that I wish that I could function on less sleep?

Elitism

I don’t deny that the best groups of people I’ve worked with have had people of comparable intelligence to me. I don’t deny that I like being with people who are similar to me (hence all the Asians I surround myself with.)

However, in this search for more challenging and stimulating environments, I feel like I’m trying to dig in too deep within a specific demographic and not reaching out. (Again, that the most fundamental human flaw is our inability to relate with one another.)

Bellaire is known for being a diverse school, but instead of bringing people of different backgrounds together, it tends to give everyone their own niche to burrow into and never come out.  (Also how I like to describe the tumblr community.) Yes, there’s exceptions, but we’re far from being a perfectly integrated school.

Back when I was in elementary school, we only had one class with 22 students in every grade up to 3rd grade. We all knew each other (a virtual impossibility nowadays) and were ridiculously close. Sure we all had our friend groups, but it was impossible not to talk to anyone.

In 4th grade, our class doubled, and 22 new people came. In hindsight, 44 people wasn’t a lot for a grade, but it was a big deal to me. It was weird seeing people and realizing that I had gone the entire year without talking to them. From then on, the class size kept growing exponentially until, well, Bellaire.

Part of getting stuff done is being willing to get past the bureaucracy and elitism, which is why politics is both a nuisance yet super important at the same time.

It’s hard to decide whether I really want to climb the social/corporate ladder or if I’m even capable of doing so. One of the only things I remember from reading Class Rules was that the people in the lower social classes were the ones who embraced life the most– they had acknowledged their place in society and were perfectly content with it. There were no social subtleties to deal with, and they had their own communities to live within.

…I really need to stop writing inconclusive posts.

Convenience and Comfort

In our age of convenience and instant gratification, we are told that comfort is king, when in reality comfort is a lie. It’s funny how we race so hard to get from one place of comfort to the next. It’s how we are conditioned to behave in our society.

We believe life is best lived when we are lounging on the beach just watching the waves, but maybe life is better lived when we’re swimming the sea, working against the raging current.

6 Things Holding You Back from Making a Difference, RELEVANT Magazine

Over any extended school break, I always get two contradictory feelings:

  1. This is how life should be. Who needs school?
  2. I’m so unproductive. At least school gets me to do something, even if it’s just homework.

However, I realized that even if school is a raging current to swim against, it’ s not the right one.

Hard problems call for great efforts. In math, difficult proofs require ingenious solutions, and those tend to be interesting. Ditto in engineering.

When you have to climb a mountain you toss everything unnecessary out of your pack. And so an architect who has to build on a difficult site, or a small budget, will find that he is forced to produce an elegant design. Fashions and flourishes get knocked aside by the difficult business of solving the problem at all.

Not every kind of hard is good. There is good pain and bad pain. You want the kind of pain you get from going running, not the kind you get from stepping on a nail. A difficult problem could be good for a designer, but a fickle client or unreliable materials would not be.

Taste for Makers, Paul Graham

For one, I wouldn’t even call schoolwork hard for the most part, but rather time-consuming. Also, the end goal of school is the ends to a means. Once you reach a goal, there’s nothing more to strive towards. To be honest, this serves as antimotivation most of the time, considering that the original goal was getting good grades anyways.

Ok. That’s all.

Irreparably Broken

When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.

Looking for Alaska, John Green

Nearly three years ago, these were the words that stunned me into a state of utter awe for two straight days and started my worship of John Green .  Looking at life as a remorphing of energy instead of a series of irreversible events was too fascinating a concept for my 7th grade brain to process. Nevertheless, it was enough to make Alaska my favorite book, which still holds true today.

Nowadays, I see this quote as the guiding theme in my life whenever my life feels as if it’s falling apart. Although I (hopefully) will never mess up in life nearly to the degree that Alaska did,  each problem I have still weighs me down, and dealing with it is a huge mental ordeal. Brute acceptance along with a willingness to move on seems to be be the ideal disposal method, yet something called emotions makes this much easier said than done. Our brains refuse to forget the memories that bring the most pain, instead leaving them to haunt us at the most unconvenient times.

However, I can’t imagine looking back on life a few years from now and not remembering any kind of suffering. What fun is telling people that you lived life without the richness and depth of struggling? Where’s the process of self-growth and overcoming obstacles?

In the end, the hazy promise of a better life story keeps me going throughout life. Whenever I’m stuck in a awkwardly awkward situation, whenever I’m sure the world (or at least one person in it) hates me, whenever I want to shrivel up and detach myself from reality,  the comfort of knowing that I understand another facet of human nature and that all pain is temporary allows me to carry on with life, or at least go to sleep with the hope that the next day will be better.

…This was totally published before midnight… on the west coast. 

“Things that ar…

“Things that aren’t like me. I’m not even sure what that means; I’m not sure how you know. I mentally try to add up all the things I’ve done in my life,but no clear picture emerges, nothing that will tell me what kind of person I am — just a lot of haziness and blurred edges, indistinct memories of laughing and driving around. I feel like I’m trying to take a picture into the sun: all of the people in my memories are coming back featureless and interchangeable.”

-Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver

“Because that’s…

“Because that’s the thing about depression. When I feel it deeply, I don’t want to let it go. It becomes a comfort. I want to cloak myself under its heavy weight and breathe it into my lungs. I want to nurture it, grow it, cultivate it. It’s mine. I want to check out with it, drift asleep wrapped in its arms and not wake up for a long, long time.”

Lola and the Boy Next Door

Yes, I’m feeling fine. No, I’m not depressed. I just have a post written on a related subject that I want to sleep on before I hit publish.

And I completely agree with this quote, although I couldn’t ever write it as nicely as Stephanie Perkins.

(Honestly though, I just wanted to try out the quote feature on WordPress :P)