Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Moving Up, Moving Out, Moving On

Today I finished up my last day of my junior year. I can officially be considered a senior now, I guess, which is strange to say. I did not want to make this post to be sappy or emotional. I want to provide a reminder to my future self of what this year was like. 

In 2013, my classes were like this:

  • Precalc was okay first semester, but after my teacher left for another school district, she was replaced by the most unqualified person possible. I struggled. 
  • Publications was life changing and I'll probably blog about it later.
  • Spanish was enriching and fun and educational and I am now confident in the language. Too bad the AP program was cut and my teacher is moving to Argentina with her new husband to open a bed-and-breakfast. [She invited us to visit at any time].
  • I aided for my Spanish II teacher who told me more about her divorce, illnesses, and financial state that I cared to know. She was a very sweet but very troubled woman. 
  • My AP English class was beyond amazing. I loved my teacher and everything about the class. I became a mature writer and analytical reader. I made a good connection with the teacher, which helped. She reminds me of someone I would want to be like in the future. We like the same movies, coffee, and even iPhone apps. She and I have had some awesome discussions. We even read with the same mindset. She, along with my yearbook advisers, is one of those underpaid, overworked, greatly appreciated teachers who can change lives. 
  • My ACP Chemistry class was a bore. It was one of those classes that no matter hard I worked, I never got above the A-, B+ range. Frustrating to say the least. I was pretty disinterested, but studied super hard for my grade. It taught me work ethic and about nothing else. Organic chemistry has to be my own personal hell. 
  • Government was one of the easiest classes ever, and had the potential to be terrible. I knew not one person, was the only junior [in a class of seniors], and had no real interest in the class. My teacher [married to the AP English teacher I worshipped] saw my boredom as well as my intelligence, and urged me to take the AP test since the AP course wouldn't fit in my schedule. He helped me prepare, which was a great experience. It ended up being one of my favorite classes. 
My after-school activities were like this:
  • I was a waitress at Tyler's Tender and it was fun and cute and sometimes annoying
  • I was in Best Buddies, where I paired up with Robin, a girl with down syndrome, to be friends and hang out. It was a blast. 
  • I was also involved with theater, National Honors Society, Junior Class Cabinet, Academic Letterwinners, Student Council, and all of the other college application necessities 
  • I took three dance classes and actually improved quite a bit
  • I did hot yoga and have felt closer to death than ever before
My social life was like this:
  • I made almost an entire new set of friends from the yearbook staff
  • I fell hard for a boy but he didn't like me back quite as much
  • I lost a best friend
  • I acted like an actual teenager once
  • I made more friends outside of school [work, dance, etc.]
  • I was bullied for the first time in my high school career
  • I made friends with mostly seniors who are all leaving me 
  • I loved the way things turned out
that is all. peace out 2012-2013 school year, it's been real

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Final [exam] Days

Two more days. Two days of finals and good-byes and emotions and stress and crowded hallways until I can officially call myself a senior. Eerie, right? I don't like it. Most kids are itching to get out of school, but for me, I am hesitant. First of all, I am scared out of my mind for my final exams. My grades are nowhere near they should be [I am notorious for setting high expectations and then failing to reach them], I have yet to write my thank you notes to my teachers [nerdy, whatever], and I just don't want to be a senior. 
There is SO MUCH to do in these next two days of school, and for me, these next couple days feel like a cliff. Every hour until the last day seems to push me closer and closer to the edge. Once I am pushed off the cliff [Tuesday at 2:09] I feel like I will fall into a scary abyss of college applications, summer school, waitressing, and homework for the next 52 days. 
Another reason I am dreading the end of school is how much I will miss my classes and teachers. That sounds awfully nerdy, so call me what you want, but this year I have had some of the nicest, most influential teachers to date. I will probably make a post further in depth, but I just don't know if next year will compare. I have built fabulous relationships with my teachers, which I will miss quite a bit.
As they say, when doors shut, others open, which is the mentality I will try keeping this week.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

conquer finals the Sophisticated way

I like to think of myself as a seasoned student, especially when it comes to finals. I am a pretty bad test taker, so getting as much preparation as possible is crucial for me to do well. In order to prepare, I have tried everything. Here is what works [for me]:

  • MAKE LISTS. Seriously. Physically crossing tasks off a list will make you feel 100x better and productive. If you want to really to it the Samantha way, write down a timed schedule next to your list as follow as planned. It will force you to be productive.
  • Paint your nails. This sounds petty and dumb, but taking a little mani break will calm you and give you some colorful motivation to continue on. 
  • Study in chunks. Study in 20-50 minute increments and take a 5-10 minute break in between. Eat nuts, fruit, and chocolate [in moderation] to keep you focused!
  • Listen to Mozart. Yes, I am lame, but it helps. I have a Mozart Spotify playlist specifically for this purpose. It is calming but not enough to put you to sleep. It actually helps, I don't know why. 
  • Change up your location! I rotate from my room to my library to my kitchen and it helps me from getting bored or distracted. 
  • Study with friends. There is strength in numbers, and it helps to get someone else's perspective or insight to something you may not understand as well. Also, it can result in an impromptu pizza party and who doesn't love that? 
  • Take a deep breath. Instead of dwelling on your stress, just calm down and take it slowly. 
  • Take a walk. Fresh air does well for the mind, spirit, and body. 
  • Build on what you already know. If you already have made flashcards, use them! Go back through old material and try to jog your memory. 
  • Make little stories or acronyms to memorize groups of terms. The stranger they are, the easier you will remember them.
Good luck!
My sister and I made this timed and planned study list for midterms. We both did really well! You can too!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A most rewarding Friday night

Coats were strewn over tables decorated with colorful tablecloths and flowers. Corsages matched boutonnieres and long, flowing dresses were the main attraction. A buffet table was overflowing with catered food and a DJ blasted the latest tracks. No, we were not at a formal Lake Central dance. We were at the Best Buddies Annual Non-Prom, a dance sponsored by the club I happen to be an officer of. The club's purpose is to bring together mentally disabled students and normally functioning ones, creating friendships that may have never surfaced before. The dance also served as a mixer between school districts, as we had about 15 Best Buddies members from a nearby school come to join in on the fun. The program is international, and there are chapters almost everywhere. The dance was a true success. 
I also had a really nice time talking to the sponsor [my English teacher] at the dance. She is by far one of my favorite teachers I have ever had. On the walks to and from her classroom to retrieve decorations, food, etc, we chatted about college and the future and life and The Great Gatsby and existentialism. It was fabulous. 
After the dance, me and one of my best friends snuck five boxes of candy into The Great Gatsby movie [an amazing movie, by the way] and had a great time. Maybe my Friday night was not the most normal of nights, but I felt like a better person and a happier kid at the same time. 

Bridget, Taylor [Bridget's Buddy] and I at Best Buddies Prom

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

slowing it down

AP testing is over, the end is near, and things are slowing down. In a way, it's nice because I finally am making time to do the things I want to do. Of course I'm preparing for finals, but I feel tranquil. Maybe it's the calm before the storm. Either way, I love being able to do things for [I can't believe I can finally say this] pleasure. 
I can finally:
  • go to yoga in the middle of the week 
  • read for pleasure
  • design things that aren't related to school [grad party invites, yearbook theme idea samples]
  • hang out with my friends [study parties don't count]
  • get ahead on my schoolwork that I actually like
  • begin preparing for summer life
  • buy concert tickets
  • plan road trips 
  • blog;)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Acting our own age

Me and one of my best friends are both very mature for our ages. For example, she was house sitting for our school guidance counselor this week. She slept over at the house, took care of the dog, and made sure garbage was taken out, mail was taken in, and made sure the house was secure. A pretty mature job, right? She was lonely and bored, so I came over to the house to do homework and hang out. Yes, we were planning on doing homework after the three hour AP Government exam we took today. Turns out, we were sick of sitting around and doing homework, so we decided to act like normal teenage girls [on a school night]. That's what we are supposed to do, right? 
We drove to Panera bread, visited our friend when she was on break at work, and walked over to Chipotle to grab dinner. We talked and ate and caught up. It was a blast. We ordered the exact same thing and found out how much more alike we are than we had thought. We were so slap happy overtired so everything seemed funny. We decided to drive over to [a very sketchy] Dairy Belle, an outdoor ice cream shack for dessert, regardless of the fact that we were already bloated and sick from our gigantic burrito bowls. We played loud music and rolled the windows down. We sang loudly and had a real "teenager" experience. We ordered the same sprinkle dipped cone [typical] and sat outside in the 90 degree weather to watch the low-riding gangster cars and loud, creepy motorcycles zoom past. I counted 6 winks from strange men. We left soon after. 
I just couldn't be happier with the friends I have now. The people I am friends with now are not those I was friends with at the beginning of the year, but I finally am sure that it is for the better. Today, Liz and I acted like teenagers. And it was great.

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's the end of the year as we know it

The end is near and I can already see senioritis hitting its deadly phase. Most of my classes are with seniors, and I find it hilarious to watch their mannerisms. All seniors, from my 4.5 GPA best friend to the laziest of lazy kids who are failing my regular Government class, are starting to feel the itch to get out of high school.
I have observed some signs that the end is near in these past couple weeks:

  • Everyone is asleep. I literally have walked past classrooms full of seniors who are [I'm pretty sure] have reached REM and have sunk into a deep, snore-filled slumber. 
  • Even the smart cheat. I see extremely intelligent students sharing homework and getting help online, the mannerisms of the typical lazy student. 
  • People are talking more about Senior Banquet than finals. It's funny to see the sophomores stressing about finals and the seniors stressing about what costume they will wear or what award they might receive.
  • Shorts are shorter, arms are more bare, and no one seems to care. Dress code has become completely obsolete. What does a detention matter to a kid who is basically on his or her way to college?
  • Teachers have stopped teaching. At least some of them. I have heard of classes that have no lesson plan for the next 12 days. None. 
  • Even juniors have been catching the disease. Junioritis is a thing. I promise. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

I want to dedicate this post to mothers. Not just my mother [a very amazing, inspiring, hardworking, gorgeous woman] but to all mothers. Mothers who carry pounds of weight with them for nine months. Mothers who sacrifice their clean clothes, nice hair, sleep, and body shape to raise children who will fight with them, scream at them, disrespect them, but learn to love them after they are mature enough to understand. Mothers who get up in the wee hours of the morning to tend to a baby or pack a lunch or make breakfast or do work before their children have opened their eyes. Mothers who work a job and still make time to raise a family. Mothers who are their to give a back massage when you can't fall asleep or drive to pick you up at 4 am from a sleepover when you get scared or upset. Mothers who braid your hair, pack your backpack, and leave little notes on your napkin in your lunch. Thank you to mothers who love unconditionally. Or as my mother would say, to the moon and back. 

My amazing, gorgeous mother and I 

Friday, May 10, 2013

the nonexistent fountain of youth

My grandparents are in town this weekend for Mother's Day, which is a great time for everyone. It means brunch and specialty chocolates and makeup samples. It means hugs and great conversation and the sharing of stories from years past. It also serves as a constant reminder of the aging process and how sad it is to see someone you know and love become older and less capable. I have lost several relatives to dementia, and helplessly seeing a loved one slip away mentally is the hardest thing I have yet to do. Neither of the grandparents that are here have a mental disease like that, but my grandfather is physically losing it and it is plain to see. He dropped the same handful of trail mix three times, all over the ground. He no longer can walk up stairs [his legs are immobile, and he drags them behind him with a walker or cane]. He is incapable of getting in and out of my mom's tall SUV or my dad's low riding sports cars. They stay in a handicap accessible hotel instead of our house. I know it is hard on my dad, who is slowly switching roles with his dad as a caretaker, protector, and a guide. Signs of aging are scary, and remind me every day to live life to its fullest while you can. Instead of continuing my cramming for my AP test [I took English today, Gov is Tuesday], I sat and talked with my grandparents about school and work and life. It was fantastic. The fountain of youth is nonexistent, so let loose a little bit. Appreciate your elders. Value family.
the two most amazing women in my life, my grandmother and mother

tonight marks the start

Tonight marked the beginning of the end of my high school career. At my journalism banquet, the advisers announced which positions would be held by who, and I was chosen to be Editor-in-Chief of the yearbook [a huge honor]. Ever since joining Publications at the beginning of the year, I knew this was the job I would want. It involves creativity, leadership, and a strong interest in the field. I am on cloud nine. After being unable to form clear sentences to my advisers, I just grinned and grinned and grinned. Nothing can wipe the smile off my face. Not my AP tests tomorrow and Tuesday, not mean comments from rude girls at school, not even the rainy weather. I am ecstatic. I cannot wait to prove myself as an editor and create a beautiful book. My senior year is already looking great.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

from the outsider's perspective

I go to a fairly large high school that boasts the best people-watching in all of Northwest Indiana. In my opinion, at least. For lack of a better blog post, I have decided to compile a list of things I observed from afar today on a typical Wednesday afternoon. 

  • a photo of a camouflage prom dress, taken at Saturday's prom
  • talk of an upcoming exchange of baggies filled with unknown substances weed 
  • a hoard of AP Calculus students zombie-crawling out of their AP tests
  • a girl eating a giant tub of chocolate pudding with a plastic spoon during passing period
  • a couple who needed a room. more like a house. or a mansion. it was gross, to say the least
  • more strange substances being arranged for "pick up." 
  • a teacher with a desk full of empty Mountain Dew cans. 
  • rowdy kids harassing a janitor
  • a student who came to class with no backpack, books, pencils, anything.
  • a girl overheating in the coldest room in the school
  • a student stressing out over AP tests to the point where she cried after school for a couple minutes. Oh, wait, that was me. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

When reality hits you in the face

Smack. Reality just punched me in the face. Hard. Around an hour ago, I was thinking freaking out about the future, per usual, when the reality of graduation set in. I have always been more comfortable around people who are older than me, but this year, those people became my best friends. The majority of my closest friends are graduating in less than a month and I can't even believe it. They are buying dorm furniture and applying for housing. They are enrolling in classes and planning graduation parties. They are living and breathing the life of a college student and I am still here. Smack. Stuck in a high school rut filled the monotonous routine of class, homework, test, class, homework, test. Being left without most of my friends next year scared me, and reality gave me another giant slap across the cheek. Smack. No more advice for my senior year classes. No more gossip about those older than me who live in what seems like a different world. No more Thai food, romantic comedy movie nights or hot yoga sessions. No more coffee runs, Chili's dinners, or group texts [okay, probably group texts] but still. I feel like next year will be a totally new experience, and I know I need to stop being such a baby, but it is quite a strange feeling, having the maturity level of a grown adult like I do. I hope my friends and I stay close, but I know it won't be the same. What a day.

Monday, May 6, 2013

May the National Average be Ever in Your Favor

 The final stretch is here and the pressure is on. AP tests started this week, marked by the increase in sweatpants, lack of makeup, and zombie-like expressions of those unfortunate, overworked souls. Those souls that will be me in T-4 days. It's hard to imagine, but with every day, I am becoming more confident, more prepared, and more excited to be relieved from the stress that has been suffocating me for the past few months. Below I have provided a list of [from my past experiences] help and do not help with preparing for AP exams. May the national average be ever in your favor!

what helps:

  • Study sessions with teachers. They know format of the test, they have the answers to your questions. They have practice tests and more resources than you probably know about. USE THEM. 
  • Barron's or 5 Steps to a 5 books. They literally have word-for-word test answers in the practice tests and review sections. I swear to you, make them your Bible. Or Quran. Or Torah. Whatever works. 
  • Study groups! Cramming is always better with fattening Starbucks lattes and a few friends. It helps to bounce ideas and have others quiz you. Flashcards will never be as effective fun. 
  • Eat breakfast before the test! The hunger pangs will distract you. I promise. It happened to me. I wasted three minutes of an FRQ on the APUSH exam drooling over my proctor's granola bar.
  • Be confident. You have been in class, learning the material all year. You. Will. Be. Fine. 
  • Relax a little bit. Watch a TV show about something horrifying that will remind you that getting a 1 or 2 on the exam is not half as bad as being locked up abroad or being eating alive by a Great White
  • Look forward to what will come after the test! I traditionally tip the scale at my favorite frozen yogurt place, but the options are endless. 
what doesn't:
  • Trying to read over as much material as possible. Limit yourself to what you [or your teacher] finds important. Otherwise, you will be overwhelmed and way more stressed than need be. 
  • Pulling an all nighter. You will have a massive brain fart and it will embarrass you. If you don't know the information the night before, let it go. You won't learn it in a few hours. 
  • Panicking. Worst case scenario? You take an extra class in college. It isn't the end of the world. Remember, you are smarter, better looking, and harder working than those who are not taking the test. This test does not determine your intelligence. You are smarter because of your hard work, not because of the score you get on a test that is not made for kids to pass. 
You is smart. You is important. You is going to be okay. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Suck it up like a man, apologize like a lady

Today, toward the end of my nine hour shift at the restaurant, I had a group that was ridiculously mean to me. They gave me a hard time about everything. I hit my breaking point when they tried to use two coupons [not allowed] to take off more than it allotted for [up to an $8 value]. I apologized to them for the inconvenience, but they were only allowed to use one coupon. The lady almost bit my head off with her harsh words and inappropriate volume inappropriately loud for a family restaurant. Of course I was upset and sad, but in the world of waitressing, you come to learn quickly that even when you are right, you are wrong. You apologize for your "mistake" and you move on. And take off both coupons even though you are not supposed to. And give free dessert or whatever. Even if they leave you an $0.85 tip. I have come to the conclusion that in the restaurant business, apologies are given out by the truckload and even if you know you are right you are wrong. Every time. Whenever I am wrong in a situation, I always admit it and move on, but I have a stubborn trademark when I am right, because when I am right, I am right. And I fight for my right to be right until the end, but not today and not any day at Tyler's Tender. I am always wrong. Every kitchen/customer/co worker's mistake is my own and I suck up my feelings like a man but always, always, always apologize like a lady. My paycheck is dependent on tips, anyway. 

my most glamorous evening to date

Today was one of the best days of the year. Definitely top ten. I woke up, went to my hair appointment, where I was asked every five minutes "what prom are you going to?" Today was the day of my school's prom, but I was going somewhere different. One of my favorite model/bloggers Rachel Lynch's anti-prom party, thrown in honor of one of my dearest friends, Rebecca, who interns for Rachel. My dad drove me to Becca's house, where we finished getting ready, and we took the train to downtown Chicago to Rachel's loft. We wandered the city for about an hour in search of chocolate covered strawberries and film cameras. Two cab rides later, we arrived at the apartment building of Rachel Lynch. I was a little bit starstruck, but it wore off quickly. She was surprisingly down to earth, which was comforting. We decorated her adorable apartment with string lights and pastel streamers, attempting to make a "prom" setting, complete with crowns and a photo booth. Her friends eventually trickled in: Kiara [super friendly art teacher, extremely personal, made me feel wanted], Sam [told me that I was gorgeous, but to always be modest], Alyssa [quiet but also very friendly] and quite a few other flaming gay boys and extremely well dressed 20-some girls. It was posh to say the least. We took pictures for the Zine [a fashion magazine project Rachel is working on] and a glass of champagne and a few salt water taffies later, I was feeling more a part of the scene. Rachel's tiny loft was filled with designer clothes she had been sent [she works as a fashion blogger/model] and kitschy little things which made me want to live in a city even more. Sophisticated friends, amazing style, what's not to love?

Me and Becca on the train to Chicago. We sat in the most adorable double seat on the second level and watched the people below us drink out of strangely shaped flasks. 

The goodies we ate at Rachel's. What a sugar coated, amazing night. 

The beautiful guest of honor. 

Me and Becca in Rachel Lynch's famous mirror she uses in her posts quite frequently. Becca's Jeffrey Campbell platforms were ridiculously hardcore. My Joan and David stilettos were more on the basic side. 

Rachel Lynch shooting Kiara Jade in her loft. We took hundreds of amazing pictures, and I just can't wait to see them all!

Rachel, Rebecca, Me, and Kiara. We had such an amazing time together, and I hope I can spend time with them soon. Those three are definitely some of the most amazing people in my life.

Friday, May 3, 2013

State of Nature

The bell for fourth hour rung, and my Spanish III Honors class was in a tizzy. Some were frantically studying for the vocab quiz we were supposed to have, some were socializing, and a few of us noticed that a substitute teacher was no where in sight. We knew our teacher was playing in her mariachi band at a local Cinco de Mayo event, but we did not expect to be left completely alone. Minutes went by, and after some time, we closed the door, shut off the lights, and hoped no one would notice that we were left unattended. At first we were pretty nervous, being paranoid honors students and all, but a little while later we decided to make the best of the situation. We played the elementary school game "Heads Up Seven Up," we filmed a "Harlem Shake Video" and we even created our own version of MTVs "Silent Library" by daring one another to do embarrassing tasks in complete silence. Lucky for you, reader, I filmed all of the teacher-less activities, which can be seen on my Twitter. As leaders of our class, my peers and I kept ourselves under complete control, which I do not believe could be feasible in any other class. Not only did this experience show how responsible and civil teenagers actually are, but it also brought me and a peer closer. This girl and I had been best friends since fourth grade, but have drifted apart this year and barely talk at all. Today, we rekindled a friendship [kind of] and things seemed better for the 90 minutes we shared together. I think being put under the pressure and circumstance of our situation made everyone a little more tolerant, responsible, and even creative. And yes, 90 minutes did go by in our classroom without a teacher ever showing up and anyone ever questioning why we were alone. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Mermaids and ballet

Today in my ballet class, we performed a very traditional "adagio", movements that make up the core of ballet. The movements are in French and they are the basics every young student learns in their first years of ballet. Whenever we perform an adagio, I think of the six year old version of myself, naïve and adorable. During class, I reminisced about my younger years and how easy things were. Everything was hair bows and ice cream sundaes. Barbie dolls and coloring books. Hugs from Mom and sparkly red shoes. Mermaid costumes and frosted animal crackers. Just thinking about it makes me feel nostalgic and happy. Everyone should take time to look back on their past, smile, and let it brighten your day.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

sun, sun, sun

Today was full of sun. Full of bright outlooks that broke through the dark clouds of school. It shined through all that was bogging me down, all that was giving me stress acne and sleep deprivation. It was nearly 80 degrees outside, and everyone was happier, kinder, and more understanding. It's amazing what a substantial effect the medium-sized flaming mass in the sky has on us.
After school, one of my best friends picked me up and we went on a windows down cruise set to the fabulous sound of Lana Del Rey and Noah and the Whale. We went to Panera Bread, ate our weight in salads and sandwiches, and finished our homework with satisfied appetites and minds open to studying as much as possible. It was nice to get a change of scenery.
Bridget and I talked about our plans for summer, and it made me that much more excited/anxious for the next 20 days of school to come to a close. I am so lucky to have friends who give me the opportunity to scarf down a Fuji-apple panini and not be judged or drive me around and listen to the best music. Or even offer to adopt me for a week when my family goes out of town, which she did. I really have the greatest friends. 
I just love the sun.

what a perfectly sunny day
shirt: Urban Outfitters
romper: Target
flats: Steve Madden