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

Pop! goes the bubble

I’ve lived in a bubble for most of my life–first in an Asian bubble in my old suburban town, then in my current top 1% community. This summer, I’ve had the chance to escape North Texas and headed for a camp down south near San Antonio.

The two weeks I have spent there were at first incredibly scary, as the prospect of a sea of strange faces daunted this little introvert. Out of my emotional destitution, I clung onto my classmates, who also went to my camp, like algae on a rock. I believed that I was inept at making new friends; others counselors’ smiles morphed into jeers in my mind.

However, as I slowly started to become weary of my old friends, my self-induced paralysis lost all its power over me. I started sitting next to new people during lunchtime and introduced myself. Through this, I found out that new doesn’t have to be bad, that familiar warmth can burn. I broke free from my own trap and stepped into the cold water whose waves were greeting me the whole time, nipping at my reluctant toes. The new friends I’ve made are similar to some of my friends here at home, but it’s nice to meet new people nevertheless.

The second week went by much smoother after I learned my lesson the week before. I immediately opened myself up to others and their weird inside jokes (which I also got into). Even though we were all counselors, we had two breaks throughout the day, and through these precious few hours, we got to know each other a bit too well. We shared ramen. We found a bucket of ice cream together and shared with everyone in the dining hall. We laughed. We cried. We learned to love one another.

One moment that I remember right now is the last few moments of my first week. The dining hall was filled up by a tortuous snake of eager counselors ready to feel some real AC. I pulled out a deck of playing cards that I stuck in my pocket since the first day of camp and asked someone I met the day before to play a game of cards with me. She called some of our fellow counselors, and we settled down and started to play gingerly. It wasn’t until fifteen minutes into the game that all the walls between us were finally smashed down; we let loose and ended up staying until the last of the last finally checked out for the week. It’s moments like these that I’ll keep in my pocket… along with a deck of cards.

 

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A Golden Experience

Well, I haven’t blogged in about a month, and I thus apologize! School has been really catching me by the tail, and I will try to make up for my absence in the next week or so.

Last Saturday, my high school invited all alumni who have graduated for at least 50 years to come back to Dallas for a reunion. The old folks were supposed to arrive at around 9:30, and lunch was served at 11, but many started trickling in a hour in advance! The main competition gym was adorned with an exhibit showcasing the school’s history, evolution, and ultimate growth. As there were enough people starting to come, I had the privilege of leading the tour around the school. Many of my guests were well-mannered and made jokes at a pace faster than they could walk–I couldn’t outwit a man 50 years my senior! In fact, the wittiest of them all was the salutatorian of her class! Showing around her and her friends, whom she bumped into, made this experience unforgettable.

Oh my, has ol’ High Park High changed! The students used to be served lunch, ate in the small cafeteria, and headed on to the auditorium (untouched since the 50s) for some postprandial conversations. There were much fewer students, with the average class size of around 430; the high school also only accommodated three grades– sophomores, juniors, and seniors. I’m sure that if these alumni were to visit their beloved high school during passing periods, they would run away in fear of being trampled upon. Those were the golden days…

I enjoyed the tour so much that I took too long–lines were already forming for the fried and roasted chicken and various sides available. During this time, I had no opportunity to rest and continued to serve everyone, even the oldest of the class of 1937. My main job was to refill all the water and tea placed on each table. All of the graduates looked radiant, with florid cheeks glowing in enthusiasm, hearts filled with joy, stomachs full of chicken. 

   After some time, the HP Alumni Foundation president gave a short speech (the perspiration was unbelievable), and Park Version, HP’s elite choir group of around 15 members, sang three songs, including one by the Beach Boys that tugged some tears and elicited the nostalgia that permeated the cafeteria.

If the foundation president is right, then our school district is the only one in Texas or even the nation that conducts such an event. I do hope that I will be able to make this reunion… in 2068!

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REBECCA!

Hey Internet! It’s one of those midnight bloggin’ sessions!

Today’s post is rather personal. I have a friend named Rebecca, and she was in my chemistry and Latin classes. One day, right after a chem lab, she started crying in pure pain and told us that her back hurt like it had never did before. Little did we know that a few days later, she was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer. I have seen her a few occasions after this, but sometimes, she seems very weak and saddened. This saddens me as well.

Some high schoolers focus on what type of club they can find, what type of leadership position they can hoard, and what type of this and that they can do in order to be competitive in the Ivies race. Some high schoolers drop classes to boost one number and fret everyday about numbers. Numbers. Life is more than numbers. Enjoy life every day, and live to your fullest potential. I think Rebecca and her courage has taught me, for sure, a lot about what life really means. She’s taught me to never give up, to always keep a smile on my face, to appreciate what I have in my life, to tear down barriers… she fuels my passion for living in such a depressing world (aka high school). Step by step, Rebecca will go far in life.

Rebecca, you’re probably never going to read this, but your freshdogs are rooting for you! We know you have the great spirit and tenacity to overcome this obstacle in the road we call life. You can do it! We’ll be sure to visit you over the summer. You’re an inspiration to us all!

Click here to learn more about her.

~MX