Monday, April 21, 2014

Avoiding physics with a commencement speech and growing pains

So, I'm avoiding doing physics because it's bothering me and I don't feel like thinking about it, so I returned to a piece we were assigned to do in AP Lang before break started. It was to write a commencement speech to the 2014 graduates of our elementary school, based off of the one David Foster Wallace's delivered at Kenyon College in 2005.

I am not David Foster Wallace, but I found myself working on the speech during AP Micro this morning, and then again just now. After some tweaking, and learning our teacher isn't collecting it, I decided to just try and keep fleshing it out. It's still super raw and scattered (I also have no right to give a commencement speech to these children, being only 3 years older than the graduates themselves, and still experiencing growing pains of my own), but I decided to just go for it.

Hi graduates!

Congratulations on finally getting out of this place. You’re done with walking down the hallways in two lines, using “Silent Coyote” and borrowing hall passes to go to the bathroom. You’re done with field trips and midday snacks, coloring books and nap times. It is time for you to grow up. To become the person you were always meant to be, time to find yourself, right?

Actually, not.

Sorry, folks, but if you think you’re done experiencing your growing pains, know that you’re not even close to being done with them yet. That odd quasi-adult, quasi-kid feeling is going to continue. There are times when you’ll get frustrated with it, and want to be an adult, which is probably the only side you see right now, but there will also be times when you wish you were a kid again. And you’re going to question everything you know to be true and it won’t at all feel like finding yourself, it’ll feel like losing yourself but that’s okay. They’re just growing pains.

This speech isn’t meant to demoralize you, but it also isn’t meant to comfort you. Life is gonna get harder, there’s no other way to put it. You’ve been sheltered from a lot of the crap in the world, and you’re going to have a bit of a rude awakening the first time you have an “adult” experience. And the same is gonna happen in four years when you go off to college. It doesn’t get easier, you just start worrying about different things.

You will need to get used to being mature and what that means for yourself. There will be no one to give you a gold star when you put all your crayons away, you’ll have to find motivation to do things within yourself. You won’t always get rewarded for doing things correctly, or punished for doing things incorrectly, but you’ll have more options. In time you’ll find that, as many opportunities as there will be for you to screw up, there will be just as many, if not more, to prove yourself.

You’re done worrying about coloring inside the lines and bringing in a box of tissues every school year, but semester final exams will become more common, failure will become more of a possibility. And your teachers in elementary school have done their bests to prepare you, but they can only do so much. In the end, it’s up to you.

So, again, congratulations on making it out of Bell alive and well, but be prepared for those rude awakenings. Remember that how you react to them is a reflection of who you are. I hope you are not discouraged, but inspired. Everyone experiences their own growing pains.

Good luck.

My apologies for the terrible formatting.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I just watched "Monsters University"

And must say I was a little disappointed... or maybe even really disappointed.

It's a prequel to one of my favorite Disney movies, "Monsters Inc", which came out in 2001. It gives the backstory of how Mike and Sully became unlikely friends in college and how Randall became their nemesis. There was a lot of comedic references to college life, with the producers obviously trying to reconnect with viewers of the original movie, 12 years older after the release of the film.

But despite all the humor, I felt the movie's message was entirely skewed.

[Spoiler Alert: I'm going to talk about details of the movie here, and reveal the ending... so beware]

To give a brief summary, Mike and Sully show up to scaring class and it becomes clear that Mike, although not intrinsically scary, truly wants to be a scarer, and is committed to studying, while Sully, son of a famous scarer, feels as though he can ride off the merit and his scary disposition.

After being kicked out of the program after failing their semester finals for not being scary and not trying hard enough, respectively, Mike and Sully grudgingly join Oozma Kappa, a fraternity made up of misfits, in order to enter the Scare Games, a competition that, should they win, would allow them to rejoin the program. So they begin to work together and figure out how to outsmart the Roar Omega Roar team.

After an incredible show of spirit, OK makes it to the final round, and has to duke it out with ROR in the simulator. In the final matchup, Mike goes in last, needing a record-breaking scream to win. He goes in and tries his best, and the child's scream puts OK in first place and the underdogs win the Scare Games.

And all is well, until Mike finds out that Sully rigged the simulation so that Mike's scare registered as scarier than it actually was. Sully turned himself in, then there was a lot of action and some people (real people, not monsters) involved and drama. By the end, it turned out that both of them were kicked out of school, and get involved with Monsters Incorporated, where Sully later becomes a top scarer and Mike his coach.

So, really, putting it all into perspective, it sends two sort of skewed messages: that you don't have to go to college (which, while it is true, is becoming increasingly less so as time goes on and jobs become more specialized), and that if you commit to something entirely and work for it, like Mike did, it may not work out, because you just weren't cut out for it (which is demoralizing, to me).

All in all, just not what I think Disney movies should portray.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Knowing when to stop

I'm starting to think that most people in this world can be placed under two general categories: people who rely on crutches as a part of everyday life in order to function (dailies), and people who binge in order to escape some kind of trigger (bingies).

I, like most people in my family, fall into the latter category.

The truth is, I'm not afraid of doing stupid things. I'm afraid of not knowing when to stop them.

If you think about it, there seems to be some differences in how functional the two types are in society. If you rely on something every day just to function, it becomes a problem if you can't get a hold of it; but if you use something as a kind of comfort, it becomes a problem if you're using it in excess (which, let's face it, in most cases, you probably are).

But the problem is, knowing when to stop comes into play with more than just vices.

Knowing when to stop is important when it comes to almost everything in life. People live off the mantra that "everything in moderation" is okay, but you never hear that going overboard every once in a while is a good thing.

Sometimes I wonder where this flaw came from. Is it some innate quality of our current culture caused by its never-ending obsession with the new and better. And if so, why are there still dailies? And does it matter where the flaw came from if I can't find a way to change it?

Can bingies become dailies? Should we even want to try?

Friday, April 11, 2014

And I think this is the moment

when I realized I can't stop.

[warning... this is all really incoherent, but I wrote it spur-of-the-moment, so forgive me.]

As much as this year has killed me, and as much as I've hated the fact that there have been not one, not two, but at least five hell weeks my junior year, I really love school.

It's not just the people. And I know that may sound bad, but the point of this isn't to go on about how people make a school. The point is that learning is amazing, and I honestly don't know what I'd do with my life if I didn't have to sit through six hours of lectures and hand cramps and the overwhelming tide of information.

But I also realized something incredibly unfair in it all. I attend one of the selective enrollment schools of the infamous Chicago Public School system. I just took a survey called "My Voice, My School" that I can only assume works to allow students to give feedback on the system that seems to keep beating us down.

But I actually can't complain, because I have the luxury of not being able to truthfully to check "strongly disagree" when presented with a statement on the safety of my community. But things have to change. It isn't fair that I got into the school I did. Not saying I didn't work for it, I really did. But I was prepared, groomed, by the same school system, a gifted program, because I took a test and got in.

And I feel guilty. I feel like I am taking the place of someone else. Because there aren't enough good schools. It's just a fact. Because, I'm sorry, but not everyone can just make the best of their own education. I'm not saying it's all about the best teachers or the newest textbooks or fanciest technology; all I'm saying is, with no budget and a bunch of crappy teachers, there isn't much students can make. Because there's nothing.

The survey really opened my eyes to how lucky I am. But I shouldn't have to feel lucky or guilty. Because there shouldn't be these limited opportunities for a decent education. The fact of the matter is there aren't enough good schools. Really. There just aren't. Every school should "strive to develop students’ critical and analytical thinking skills, and promote diverse academic inquiry by bringing together students from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences," not just the 10 selective enrollment ones.

And maybe I sound like just another selective enrollment student who's hating on the system that granted her a great, amazing opportunity for better learning, maybe I sound ungrateful. But I don't care. Because it's my voice, my school.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

This is just the beginning

Hi my name is Maura and writing is my therapy. When I get everything wrong in my head, getting it down on paper and seeing how wrong it is helps me get it unwrong. When I'm stuck in a rut and my brain keeps going in circles I can't stop, I write it out so I can see it and feel it and find a way out of it. My writing is really more just a translation of my thoughts as I feel them, less of an act of creation and more an act of response.

And I'm really bad at keeping up with things... like blogs and photo collections and stuff like that, stuff that requires little bits of time everyday. I binge-write usually. Anyway, my writing is scattered about different blogs, notebooks and applications. One day I'll compile it all... for now I'll just keep writing.
So... hi and welcome to my brain.