personal, time capsule

*Junior Reflections!

What a year! I haven’t been blogging lately because I was crushed under a mountain’s worth of homework and activities. Now that AP exams are over, it’s time to dissect this year, one piece at a time. An overarching buzzword to describe this past school year: fatigue. I have thoroughly enjoyed everything that I have done, from AcDec to UIL science to schoolwork (yes, I enjoy school), but there is such a thing as too much. I constantly felt the burden deep down within my heart of overloading myself. Maybe six AP courses were too much to bear in one year! However, I can’t imagine myself in a different lifestyle in terms of my academic load; I can’t stand being bored in class, filling in inane worksheets and completing using bubble maps or outlines or annotations. Perhaps I would have toned down my involvements outside of school–only through the agony of junior year have I figured out the ineffable, inherent beauty behind reading endless articles on

An overarching buzzword to describe this past school year: fatigue. I have thoroughly enjoyed everything that I have done, from AcDec to UIL science to schoolwork (yes, I enjoy school), but there is such a thing as too much. I constantly felt the burden deep down within my heart of overloading myself. Maybe six AP courses were too much to bear in one year! However, I can’t imagine myself in a different lifestyle in terms of my academic load; I can’t stand being bored in class, filling in inane worksheets and completing using bubble maps or outlines or annotations. But perhaps I would have toned down my involvements outside of school–only through the agony of junior year have I figured out the ineffable, inherent beauty behind reading endless articles on The New York Times, drinking a cup of tea on the balcony, munching on a five-dollar picnic on a breezy lawn, or stargazing on the high school track. The beauty of life lies in its simplicity.

I’ve met some truly wonderful people this year. AcDec has proved to be even more rewarding that I would have thought. The ironclad bonds that I have formed with my teammates and coaches will last a lifetime; in the deepest of despondencies, I found laughter, joy, and hope through our various shenanigans. For this, I missed Area C (a local classics competition) and prom, but AcDec was definitely worth it. There’s something about a week-long “hotel arrest” that creates friendships and memories any other activity will never even begin to attempt. Within school hours, I sought refuge in the Davenportian cove on a daily basis. Those dim lamplights harbor me from my worst anxieties and fears, my problems and conflicts on the outside world. Inside lies a comforting, motherly warmth, stocked with wit, sarcasm, and empathy. I’ve been shaken to my core time and time again from the conversations, some more profound than others, that took place in WC105. Nothing else has made more of an impact on my transition into adulthood.

Friendships: some wither, and some grow. It was only natural that I strike up new camaraderie with completely new peers and lose the kinder that lighted my past few years. I not only kept up but also strengthened my relationships with most of my peers, and this provided solace for the torturous path of high school. One remarkable shift is my detachment from the drama of my peers; this change has improved my mental health and my outlook on the future. Fewer love triangles and catfights mean less myopia obscuring my vision of the world around me.

Some lingerings of apprehension about the summer ahead haunt me: I’m doing a lot. Research daily for 8 weeks, once-a-week hospital volunteering, Camp CAMP… I am not afraid to let some of these commitments grow in order to more passionately pursue a few interests. There need not be a sampling plate of amuse-bouches, but rather a hearty steak to dine on. Regardless of what I manage to do, I remain optimistic about where I am heading.

personal

Dallas Arboretum Spring Break 2016

Hello, Internet!

I haven’t blogged in a while (i.e. two months), so here’s a happy link as a form of my dearest apologies: https://youtu.be/vSlWDlXCelk

Yesterday, I visited the Dallas Arboretum for the first time in ages. The last time I’ve been was when I was in kindergarten; time flies so quickly! Starting from parking, we could notice a difference–a brand new, five-story parking garage was built across the street, and a tunnel connecting it to the arboretum was built as well. Inside, the arboretum showed off even-more grandiose features, such as elaborate water features and terracing. The neat and prim order of all the different flowers and hedges and trees gave me an otherworldly sense, a fantasy of perfectionism. It felt good to indulge in such beauty for a morning, but if I were a garden, I would be unpruned, wild, natural–just like how I am free-flowing, outgoing (only with the right people), and spontaneous as a person. However, I still hope to visit the Dallas Arboretum throughout this year as quick respites from my upcoming year from H-E-double hockey sticks!

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Bonton, Take 2

Recently, I visited Bonton Farms again (for the original blog post on Bonton, click here). In the last seven months, a lot has changed; I feel like I’ve been swept under the feet!

This time, our (HPHS Student Council’s) visit was much more organized; the farm has been absorbed by a church organization, and this Saturday was called “Restoration Saturday,” in which some regulars split a group of around 70 sleepy volunteers to walk the goats, clean out the pigpens, lay out hay for the upcoming winter in the barn, and harvest the vegetables, which were sold to local chefs. I chose to help out with plucking leafy greens under the direction of our fearless team leader, who owns a farm!

Much has changed; there are now turkeys (!!), wall art was added, and covers for the garden were put up. Even in the garden itself, there seemed to be more plants ready to harvest; months before, the sea of green was merely a plot of dirt. It’s refreshing to see some positive change, especially in this food desert; I can’t wait to see the effects felt years after I stepped onto this farm.

While I was working in the garden, I talked to a radiologist who accompanied her son on this service opportunity; chatting with a doctor (and kale connoisseur) for this future doctor was pretty cool. She was very agile, quick-minded, and inquisitive–character traits I’d like to develop more in 2016! Working with her, her son, and our team leader, we made our way through the aisles quickly, sampling a few plants along the way; the mustard green-collard green hybrid exploded my mouth and nose with spice, a sensation I’ll never forget.

In the very beginning of the day, the coordinator Darren told us that we were to leave Bonton with a new relationship built–it doesn’t matter what else one did (or did not do), everyone was to make a new friend by the end of the day. Needless to say, I think I accomplished that task!

After the “day” of service ended, we headed to the rec center down the street, which functioned as the community living room. All the children were in the gym, playing basketball or football or making Christmas crafts. The adults were starting to eat lunch, and laughter filled the air. As each member was to donate a toy, StuCo amassed a roomful of toys for the local children, who will receive these presents in a special Christmas Day dinner. I wish all of them and my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

-MX

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Bonton Farms 

Hey, guys!

Today, with the rest of the StuCo family (who I don’t know too well), I visited a community farm in SE Dallas, one of many “food deserts” in the nation– an urban area in which there are almost no grocery stores or sources of fresh fruits and vegetables. With the help of a $30 mil. federal grant, the neighborhood of Bonton has been transformed; nearly 1300 people have moved into new developments (as seen in the background of the first two pictures), and two lovely fellas, Darren and Regina, helped start this community garden. There is also a new recreation and civic center within walking distance of Bonton Farm-Works that offers a space for events and an after-school program.

There were college students and local young adults watering the crops on such a hot day! It’s evident that everyone in the community appreciates the garden and its positive ripples, the “good vibes” felt throughout the neighborhood. Every few days, the children come to Bonton Farm-Works to help water the plants and, more importantly, feed the animals. Although we did not meet any of those children today, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to observe such positive synergy in a quickly-improving part of town!

The produce includes Swiss chard, radishes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, cabbage, and many herbs. All of the harvested plants and eggs are sold each week at the White Rock Farmers Market. Click on the farm’s Facebook page to learn more.

Now time for some pictures!

BELOW: Some lovely goats and dogs! Many adults brought along their children to see the goats and chickens (which you will see later).BELOW: This one’s my favorite!  BELOW: Chickens (around 200 of them)! These are able to roam freely throughout the day and are actually heritage-breed, not the kind that lays eggs in closed warehouses for shipment to large supermarket chains. A chicken at Bonton take 25 hours to lay an egg, and by the time they are mature, the farm should collect 8 to 9 dozen eggs A DAY (compared to 17 dozen a week now). 

Proud to be here! Thanks for the fulfilling weekend and best wishes, Bonton!  

~MX