Tuesday, March 31, 2015

on spring break, summer + planning

GUYS SPRING BREAK STARTS ON SATURDAY (well technically Monday but we all know the weekend counts) AND I AM PUMPED.

It feels like it's been, like, ten weeks since I last had a weekday off, when in reality it's only been a month. (A month?!) And technically, I guess you could say with state testing and all that good stuff I've had a couple of days off, but not really. It was kind of those in-between periods when you're just like "yes? no? break? homework? what?" and don't really get anything done.

But the state has finally decided to recognize an official break from school, and I am pleased to announce that...well, I already announced when my spring break began.

Spring break is kind of weird. It's one of those things that different states/countries schedule kind of whenever. I know some people had it last week, some people had it two weeks ago, some people have it in two weeks. Some people's lasts for a week, some people's for two.

Mine lasts one week, and it begins on Saturday. In case you didn't know already.

(I am JUBILANT. If you haven't read any of my other angsty posts in which I complain about school for 50% of my word count, you should probably know that February/March were NOT good months for me, in terms of school.)

Anyway, unfortunately, for spring break, I will not be sitting back and relaxing. My dad decided to take my family + my grandparents + my grandma ALL to Yosemite National Park!

He said that he's going to rent a 12-passenger van and we won't be allowed to use our phones and stuff, which stinks, because I just added 10 new songs to my playlist when I should have been doing homework and I need time to adjust to the raging guitars of Fireflight. (I'm trying to get myself used to rock music, mostly because it seems like all the cool indie people listen to rock, so I'm like, yay! rock! but I really like Skillet and Fireflight).

Anyway, family time! Fun!

Actually, I'm pretty excited. Yosemite isn't my favorite national park that I've been to (ZION IS LIKE THE BEST NATIONAL PARK EVER), but I haven't been there in a couple of years so my perception of it will probably be different. Hopefully for the better. All I remember is that A) I tried my first-ever slice of Spam there when I was like nine or something, and B) the squirrels there are vicious. Like seriously vicious. They run around inside restaurants and stuff and it's really quite scary.

I am excited. And unfortunately, I decided not to beg my dad to let me bring my laptop because I know that I need some time away from it. It's not that I'm addicted to it; it's just that I'm starting my third draft of edits on my book (I finished the second draft. It's almost as bad as the first one, which is part of the reason why I'm not celebrating so much, because isn't the point of edits to make your book BETTER?) and I see things better when it's on paper. Like, in front of me. I think I'm going to print out the first couple of chapters of the book and edit it on my lap in front of me. I'm also going to print out some plot articles and bring a notebook, because heaven knows my plot needs work. Also my characters.

Also basically everything about my book??!!

I'll also probably be doing some homework or studying a driving handbook or lugging my Euro study guide book things along with me so I can study for the AP Test. The AP Test is on May 8th. It's only a month away, and there's a lot of material to cover. A lot. 

No matter! It's still spring break, and I won't be sitting in a desk!

Then there's the whole matter of summer. After spring break ends, it's crunch time except for Memorial Day (which is a paltry Monday, and I'll probably have some test the next day and will be studying) and I have my first-ever AP test and then there'll be finals in June and I'll be freaking, freaking, freaking out because my grades are all pretty borderline. (And don't even get me started on college. Sophomore grades actually count. THEY ACTUALLY COUNT. You can't even begin to understand how badly I am handling this fact of life.)

Anyway, back to summer. During summer, I will be extraordinarily busy, mostly because (I'm making a list.)

  • AP summer homework
  • SAT classes (I know, I know, I took them last year, but I didn't even need them last year, Not sure why I took them, because I'm taking them again.)
  • Driver's ed (I ranted about driving the other day. It was really spectacular and everyone told me I should be worried. This calmed me down somewhat. Thank you, Ally R. and everyone who told me that it isn't as bad as it seems.)
  • Tennis camp. (I'm determined to get good.)
  • basically, life.
  • Writing. Blogging. THIS.
  • Other Stuff.

So, since I'm anxious for it to be summer, and since I don't want to waste one bit of my summer because it is SO PRECIOUS, I have been making plans. Tons of plans, ideas. I think my brain needed something to do besides study trigonometry (which, by the way, seems easy when you first start it and then turns on you once you get deeper into it). I made a list of what I wanted to do, and then now I'm going to have to go back, add stuff to it, and then delete all the things that I can't do. Because I've learned that I have to be realistic now. I'm very realistic now, a lot more realistic than I was before.

Facts Of Life That Are Very Real: (things that I'm addressing to myself, not to you, despite the second person)
  • These Grades Count So You'd Better Study Your Tush Off.
  • When You Start Driving Your Dad Will Have To Pay 2X The Amount Of Driver's Insurance. Plus Your Living Expenses. Plus Your College Tuition, Room, And Board, Which Is Why You Must Learn To Be A Little More Outgoing And Get Hired As A Resident Assistant In College So You Save More Money.
  • You Think That High School Means You Grow Up, But In Reality It Means That You Wish You Were In Elementary School Again.
  • You Only Live Once So Try To Get Into UCLA While You're At It.
  • Salted Caramel Frozen Yogurt Is Delicious, Especially When It's On Sale.
Which, by the way, I have a whole rant on college coming soon, so stay tuned.

This is fun.

I actually think this is a legitimately intriguing post. I hope you enjoyed it. I know I enjoyed writing it. 

Because really, I am freaking out as much as this post entails, but I think part of every student likes freaking out about this. It's kind of like sitting through a suspenseful movie. Except you're the protagonist, the odds against you are higher and meatier than any Chicago gang mob, and you're not sure you're going to come out of this alive.

Like one of my teachers would say,

Good times. Good times.






Thursday, March 26, 2015

on driving

Hello children!

How're ya doin'? How're ya feeling about this week?

I'm going to be really honest with you, THIS WEEK WAS NOT THE BEST EVER.

There are tests and quizzes almost every. single. day. and trust me, it gets awful really fast. Plus, the AP test is coming up for AP Euro (well, actually, it's in May, but considering it's almost April and that it's my first AP test and it covers a whole lot of stuff? It's coming up soon). 

Plus, there's a bunch of stuff that I'm worrying about. Not really worrying, exactly, but just kind of being like "what? this is happening? oh. I need to do this? Oh. Right. Eh."

Do you ever feel like that? Like the rug's just been pulled from under you and you're belly-flopping right onto cold tile and awesome stuff like that?

Yup.

There are several factors into this rug-yanking thing, but one of them is driving.




SAY WHAT????

I recently turned fifteen and a half, and in my state, that automatically means you're eligible to test for your learner's permit, like after you've completed all the online courses and stuff. 

I haven't done any of the online courses things yet

AND I AM STILL FREAKING OUT.

Even though my sixteenth birthday is in September and I'm not going to get my license until junior year, I still have to think ahead, you know? I have to take the permit online course, then I have to take the permit test, then I have to take driving lessons and generally driver's ed, and then I have to take and pass the test.

Guess whose summer isn't going to happen? (*raises hand*)

I remember when I was a little kid and I thought that driving was so complicated, and why did we even need a GPS when we had that little blinking light to tell us when to turn? (Little did I suspect that the driver actually has to turn on the little blinking light in order to let other cars know where he or she is going to turn. Needless to say, I will fulfill all low expectations of Asian women drivers.)

First off, the whole permit test thing. I've been talking with my friends about this--a lot of them are older than me, and a couple of them have their licenses already--and apparently it's a bunch of flimsy stuff that you read through and all that things, and they all assure me it's easy.

I have no doubt that it's easy. Reading stuff online is one thing, but actually being out on the road is another. For example, when you're coming out of my neighborhood, you turn onto this slightly busy street and I'm deathly afraid that I'm going to mistime the turn so I turn way too soon or way too late and I end up crashing into incoming traffic and THEN where will I be?

Heaven. Hopefully.

You know? This is the stuff I think about when I'm lying in bed.

OR I'm deathly afraid that I'm going to be one of those super slow people who goes twenty-five on the freeway or when I'm turning I'm going to wait until there's, like, a five-minute pause in between two cars and turn then and never get anywhere on time because I'll be too late.

If I'm honest, I think I'll be a good driver. I'll be a very careful one. The first couple of months in the car, nobody will be allowed to talk, the music will not be on, and it needs to be DEAD SILENT.

It's funny, because I honestly thought that the first time I drove with my driver's license or permit, I'd turn up all the music and roll down the windows and sing to Andy Mineo, like all, "YOU CAN'T STOP ME!" and then party around town.

From the way things are shaping up, though, I suspect that it will be exactly the opposite. I probably won't even give my mom the opportunity to be a side-seat driver because I'll tell her that I might crash if she talks to me.

(How do people multitask again?)

Dude, I'm hopeless.



Saturday, March 21, 2015

INDIAN WELLS + RUNNING MY FIRST EVER 5K + STUFF THAT WENT DOWN TODAY


Last weekend was a bit of a crazy one.

We'll start with Sunday because the pictures were uploaded in that order.

SUNDAY!

Do you remember me telling you guys about how my tennis team is training to run a 5k?

Well, we did it on Sunday!

It was actually kind of fun. I don't like running, but when you're running in a giant group with a bunch of other people and they make a big deal out of it, it's pretty easy to withstand. 



The sunrises have been really pretty lately :-)


The starting line...

I basically only took a couple pictures because, well, it's a run. There's not much to take pictures of. People running?

Holla.

I finished in 26 minutes and 38 seconds (it's 3.1 miles long), but I think my biggest achievement was that I didn't stop once during the run. The course was fairly flat, so I was able to keep it up, and I finished ahead of the rest of my team...minus the coaches, who are really good runners.

Praise the Lord I made it through. 

SATUDAY!

Rewind a day before to Saturday, where we went to this tournament located in Indian Wells. It's technically called the Paribas-Something Open, but everyone just calls it Indian Wells. After the Open tournaments in Australia, France, and here in the US, and Wimbledon (in England), Indian Wells is the next-largest tournament. All the well-known people are there. You know, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams...the list goes on and on.

Professional tennis tournaments are actually really kool for several reasons, one of which is that there are several different matches going on at the same time. There are 6 or 7 stadiums of tennis matches going on, along with a bunch of practice courts, so the crowd gets spread out a little bit. Stadium 1 is the largest and the only one with assigned seating; the rest of the stadiums are first come, first serve, which means if you go early, you can sit right behind the players.

It's kind of surreal, to be honest, because these are the players that you see on TV, and they're quite literally ten feet in front of you, and they're playing, and you're all like YEAHHHH and next time you watch TV, you can be like, Hey, I saw that player! 

It's not like baseball or soccer or football where you're just one in thousands of people concentrated in one stadium. Spectators actually get pretty close to the court.



There was a tunnel that ran under the street.


First match we saw. I forget what the person's name was, but he was ranked in the top 30 and his last name starts with an F. I think he's Italian. As you can tell, my brain is not working right now.


He won!


This is Stadium 1. It was sweltering hot, but we went to watch Nishikori because he's Asian (as many Asian tennis players as there are, there aren't very many good professional ones). He won!


Look at all the people!

I wasn't a huge fan of Stadium 1. Crowds just aren't my thing.


A bogus part about professional sports is that the food is SO STINKING EXPENSIVE. Since the restaurants in there have monopolies over basically everything, the people can charge whatever they want and we still buy it because there's no place else. This slice of pizza (it's a Costco-sized one, thank gargoyles) cost $6.

At least I didn't have to pay for it, haha.


Frozen lemonade is seriously the best thing ever.



This was Maria Sharapova VS somebody else...(I never remember anyone's names.) Sharapova's my favorite women's player, but the funny thing was, she and her opponent were wearing the same exact thing except for their visors. Since we were so far up, sometimes it was hard to see which one was which. 

Another match--it was Sara Errani versus a Chinese player--had on the same exact outfit. I don't know, maybe their sponsors thought it would be funny to play a trick on the watchers and have people dress like twins? Maybe it was Twin Day?

Who knows what goes through the minds of salespeople, really.


I "took a picture with Maria Sharapova." You just need to zoom in a little.

After we watched a nail-biting match between Ferrer and someone else (Ferrer won in tiebreak, but we didn't stay until the end), we went to this Korean restaurant with our friends.


It was actually a pretty fun day, and nobody thought that my dad was my boyfriend, thank gargoyles. I learned, though, that I can't stay in one place for more than one set, mostly because it gets boring sitting there in the sweltering heat watching the two same people battle it out. I think that's mainly the reason why I don't like sports--I get kind of bored.

I call it a gift, but in this case, it was a curse because I had to stay with the group.

---------------------------------

Today was interesting.

Today is Saturday, in case you weren't sure or it's Sunday in your time. It's 9:17 p.m. right now, and I've just had a slightly weird day. (Like always. It's kind of normal for me now.)

It was fairly uneventful, except for a few things. When I was working at the Snack Shack, we couldn't figure out how to make a properly hot Cup O'Noodles and I somehow got the cash register stuck and the thing wouldn't pop out (luckily, an adult came in and helped us). And tonight at Denny's, there was a slight blackout of maybe thirty seconds. It was interesting. One minute the lights were on, the next there weren't.

I'm too tired to recount all the stories, and I have to make my Spanish flashcards and do worksheets for Chem, but rest assured that A) it was fun, and B) all's well that ends well.


Thanks for reading! 













Friday, March 13, 2015

ninety-degree fridaze

So basically, I have fifteen minutes to give you a rundown of my life, past, present, and future.

PAST: Just finished up a week of school. Considering my past couple weeks of school, this one hasn't been too bad. Just a couple quizzes, a two-day AP Euro test, and lots of graphing for math. Oh, and catching up on my writing, because I recently realized that my outline for my second draft didn't flow, so I had to rewrite that and start over again. But this time it's fine, because it's much better and I'm sitting at 11.3k in four days. Yup. I think I just became Cait. Not sure how I did it, and I'm pretty sure that all I wrote is a whole lot of nothing. I'll probably cut 75% of it later.

And in case you were wondering about what happened after I wrote this post, the party was good. I think it kind of finalized stuff for me:

  1. They're currently in a separate sphere and world, and I'm in a separate sphere and world, and that's kool. Sometimes our spheres and worlds will intersect, and that'll be kool. Most of the time, they won't, though. And that's kool too.
  2. They haven't forgotten me. I'll never forget them...unless I fall off a cliff and get amnesia. 
  3. All my awkwardness that happened before? Some of it was still there, but I've learned to live with it. Probably I will never be fully comfortable with them, and I don't know why, but that's fine with me, since no matter how hard I try or they try I can't change anything. I think it has something to do with the fact that they've seen me at my low middle-school points and I keep remembering those points whenever I see them and I start to worry about how I look in their eyes. And like I said before, I CAN'T CHANGE THAT. Nobody can change that. That's just the way it is--life isn't perfect, and it never will be, so I should start getting comfortable with that fact. I've started worrying less, though, which is good.
  4. We're getting older. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting younger, but we're getting older, every second that goes by.
  5. It was fun.


PRESENT: I have fifteen minutes before people start arriving for Bible study. I've just completed tennis, and I hope my mom picked up the registration confirmation packet for the 5K...

FUTURE: This weekend is seriously one of the busiest I've had so far. Here's the rundown:

  • Friday (today): We're hosting Bible study & I'll have to do homework because I won't have time later.
  • Saturday: We're going to this MAJOR professional tennis tournament that's called Indian Wells/BNP Paribas Open, but I'm calling it Indian Wells since that's how it's commonly known. We'll be going with three other families that we've met through my brother's tennis academy thing (yes, there's a tennis academy, and no, it's not as fancy as it sounds, quite honestly). I'll spend the WHOLE ENTIRE DAY there and it will be like 100 degrees. Somebody, please get Elsa powers, because I might just get heatstroke.
  • Sunday: I'm running a 5K at 8 in the morning! (But the stinky thing is, we have to get there before they close the roads at 7.) Then I'll leave right after and head to church, where we're having Communion lunch until 2-3ish, and I'll have a couple of hours to rest before I head to an FCA function from 5-8 pm.
THE VERDICT: I'm insanely busy right now. But I actually really like busy, except when it cuts into my personal time and then it's all like, HEY, LIFE, BACK OFF, WILL YOU?

I'm also having this Exit Exam thing next week. I have no idea why I'm taking an Exit Exam when I'm only a sophomore, but hey, the government must have its reasons, right?

*shakes head*

*sighs*

Actually, THIS VIDEO really helped me to be joyful, or else I'd be grousing and complaining all night long.




Saturday, March 7, 2015

sixteen saturdaze | sweet insecurities

guess what the temperature is right now.

I dare you. Guess.

All right. It's ninety degrees out.

No joke. Ninety degrees.

For some reason, Earth thinks it's summer in the West Coast, when it's dead-on winter in the Midwest and the East Coast. 

It's hot, guys. Majorly hot. My body thinks it's summer right now, especially because it's Saturday and I'm home alone with a ton of stuff to do--including a SWEET SIXTEEN BIRTHDAY PARTY TO GO TO! Holla!

Which means, let us rewind for a second.

Sweet Sixteen?

Sweet Sixteen?

I've finally gotten to the age of Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles? (Ironically enough, I have seen neither movies, and both star Molly Ringwald in them. Huh.) I've finally gotten to the age where a lot of my friends are turning sixteen soon and some already have? What is this? WHY AM I NOT LIVING IN HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL RIGHT NOW? (And, sadly enough, there was a time when I thought High School Musical accurately portrayed high school.)

And yay, I just got cream cheese on my laptop because I'm having an onion bagel for lunch. Don't judge. Also, my breath will stink, so you should probably stay away from me for a while.

Anyway, back to the subject.

My friend turned sixteen back in January. It's one of my old friends, one I know from sixth grade. We went to the same homeschooling school, and I left in eighth grade to go to public school and she stayed. She's still there, and she invited a lot of people that I know to her party.

To be honest, I'm a little freaked out. One, because she's so much older than me. She was born in January and I was born in September. (Fall babies, shout your names! Young children, lift your hands! Teensy tenth-graders, raise your voices!) Two, I haven't seen her in a while, and in a sense, I'm a little different than what I was in eighth grade. I'm more sure of myself, positively. I'm less naive. I get sarcasm. I can laugh at myself.

But at the same time, when I go to the party, I'm going to be a little scared. My middle school years were not my best years--I didn't get sarcasm and was socially awkward. (I mean, who wasn't?) And sometimes, certain types of people still bring that quality out in me. It's nothing that's their fault; they're just cooler than I am (not trying to be self-deprecating; it's just the truth) and I feel it. Like you know how all the cool kids kind of have their own cool language when they talk they all get the insinuations of everything and everything has different undertones when they talk and they can read between each other's lines? I've gotten better at translation, but I still don't understand all of their coolspeak. 

In a sense, I'm a little anxious, A) because I'm afraid I'm going to revert back to my old ways and feel trapped in a box, like I did before, and B) because I'm afraid that I'm going to be too different, or she's going to be too different, and I'm going to do something wrong that will label me as a "public school kid" and they'll be like, Oh, Rachel went downhill since she went to public school.

You know what it's like when you don't see someone for a long time and you meet up with them and they're like, Wow, you're different, or you're like Wow, they're different. I'm pretty sure she's kind of the same, but I know that I'm different, not in a sense that I've gone downhill, but in the sense that she's a Christian who doesn't go to church or school with me and I'm all like WHAT DO I DO NOW. Oh, and she's seen me in my awkward years. Holla. 

Like, how do I relate to her? Does she still see me in the same way as she did when I was in eighth grade? I'd say some things now that I wouldn't necessarily say back in eighth grade--not cussing or anything bad, just a little bit more...not daring, per se, but more open. I don't quite know how to explain things, but one thing is for sure: I am more confident. I guess that's good. 

And what about all those other people that I knew back then? I wasn't particularly close with anyone at my old school, and I don't really feel a supertight connection bonding me to them. But no matter what, they're still some of my old friends and it'll definitely be different because they'll have inside jokes that I won't know, and I'll have inside jokes with them from, like, seventh grade but there'll be new people there who don't know the old inside jokes...

It's all very confusing, this seeing-old-friends business, and I don't even think it has to do with being a teenager and growing up. I think it's just life in general: when you see someone you haven't seen in a while, neither you or they are ever quite the same, and it can play off badly. Or awesomely. It's kind of hit-or-miss.

 I hope I don't do anything rash/dumb/dumber than that/dumber than even that. I hope that I'm myself there and that I can be comfortable. I hope that she has an awesome birthday and that I won't eat too much food or be too awkward and that I won't mess anything up. 

Happy sixteenth birthday, [insert name here]! 




Monday, March 2, 2015

Gargoyles, WUT? 2-YEAR BLOGAVERSARY?!!!!!!


WHERE DID THE TIME GO?

Actually, it seems like a lot longer than 2 years ago that I started blogging! 

I came onto the Internet scene when I was 13. (Read my first post here.)

*sighs nostalgically*

I used to post a lot of erratic, long, somewhat boring posts that really had no streamline or filter to them. I've had to delete posts. I've had to rein in my feelings and ramblings in a bit. I've struggled with having followers, and now I'm blessed with 22 of them. I've realized that for this blog, I really don't care about followers. It's just a place for me to vent, for me to look back and track where I've been and how much I've grown. 

I found a whole community over at Go Teen Writers. I've found Internet friends of my own and seen them grow as writers and bloggers. (Shout out to Elise, who was the person who introduced me to blogging! O. Williams, who commented on our Pix & Portraits blog--I remember when you had that Picture Window background, lol! TW Wright! Wild Horse! Mary Burroughs! Athelas Hale!)

I created several other blogs. A couple of them petered out. I learned how to concentrate my efforts and how to be a better writer. I joined a collab blog. I think I really started improving my writing when I created my blog, entered a few GTW contests, and realized that I wasn't as hot at writing as I thought I was. 

I remember my Sunday Serials. They absolutely stink. I read the beginning of TRAPPED the other day, and I honestly couldn't believe how awful my intro was. I didn't plan or edit any of it; basically, you're seeing pieces of stale bread on my blog. I really hope my current writing is a lot better than that!

I started public high school. I quit piano. I got a smartphone. I played on the tennis team. I made friends. I became JV tennis captain. I made plans. I cut those plans. I got a job. I learned that I stunk at that job and that I needed to adjust. That's all just in real life.

On the Internet, I've written lots of stories. I've deleted posts. I've submitted posts that have been published. I've been accused of plagiarism. (It was a funny ordeal; nothing too serious.) I've been attacked by spammers. VampireStat tried to fool me a couple of times. I've done a blog tour. Some of my work has been featured in a magazine.

I've learned a lot from everything. And I'm glad that at least I learned some things. I think it'd be awful to be at a place where you learn nothing because you think you know everything. Dear God, help me not to be one of those people.

All I can say is...I'm happy where I am right now, and I'm looking forward to where God will be moving my Internet "career." What career that I actually have.

Thanks for reading this and helping me celebrate my second blogaversary!