It’s the End of the Year…

And I don’t know what to think. I guess I accomplished a lot this year. But didn’t everybody? It’s kind of hard not to accomplish a lot in a year. I don’t really know how proud of myself I should be, as a result. Should I still congratulate myself? Others have done amazing things, such as saving people’s lives, or done notoriously difficult things, like quitting smoking. Or maybe they made it on Broadway, or got cast in their first major role in a film. I don’t care, really. But I do know that my most impressive accomplishment this year was the fact that I passed my Grade 3 piano exam. Never mind the fact that eight-year-olds do it all the time. It’s quite surprising that I even passed it in the first place, given my current level of negligence in practising.
I nearly failed that exam.
I SHOULD HAVE failed that exam.

Oh, well. Moving on, I guess.

As I write this in the late hours of the night (or early hours of the morning??), on December 31st, 2017, I can’t help but wonder if New Year’s resolutions are even helpful. I mean, most people fail at them. So I guess the only way to not fail would be to only have one New Year’s resolution: to fail at your New Year’s resolutions. But then you have a paradox, because in not failing, you have failed to achieve your goal of failure, which was a failure in of itself… I should really write stories about thoughts like this instead of making you read them in my little corner of the internet. Not that anyone reads this thing… Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to be anonymous. It was never my goal. This blog is linked on my social media accounts. People can find it if they wish to. But somehow, I doubt they will.

I know someone else who has a blog. She’s my age. She keeps hers way more anonymous than I do, however, and her blog is much more successful because she has picked a niche and stuck to it. As if I could do that. I suck at even staying on topic within my own paragraphs, within my own blog post. Which brings me back to my point: Should I be proud of what I have accomplished this year?

I’m very ambivalent about the response. Not that I don’t care… I simply don’t have an answer. In some ways, this was a good year. A very good year, in fact. I achieved straight As in school for the first time ever (which may surprise those of you who know me personally). I participated in a fashion show as a designer for the first time ever, and though it was just a high school event, it was a great experience I learned a lot from. I started a novel, breaking my (lingering) qualms over fiction writing. I discovered a love for writing dialogue. I completed three full sketchbooks and 90% of a fourth. I submitted to a literary magazine for the first time. I submitted to my school’s art show for the first time (and trust me, that can be scary when you go to an art school). I did so many wonderful things. But yet…

Here are some of the nastier things about this year:

  1. I put on weight. Not in a healthy way though. Not at all.
  2. Did I mention the lack of exercise?
  3. Did I mention the lack of sleep?
  4. I spend too much time on the Internet nowadays.
  5. I suspect I have spent more time on YouTube this year than I ever have before.
  6. Still haven’t killed my nasty procrastination habit.
  7. I panicked in front of an audience for the first time this year…

And many others. I really want to start getting in more exercise. I want to kill my procrastination habit as well. It doesn’t make me happier. It doesn’t help me get anything done. And it’s a complete waste of my time.

My relationship with procrastination is much healthier than some other people’s, though. I know someone who once left an entire summative to the night before. He had to come up with a ten page research document and a twenty slide presentation. How he managed that, I do not know.
I suspect he plagiarized most of it.
But is that okay? I do procrastinate as well, but I do understand when to pull back and WORK. I have to. I hold myself to stringent and unrealistic expectations of perfection which I almost never attain. But I wouldn’t call that unhealthy. I’m just ambitious, I guess.

This year I learned that while I have the capacity to be a natural leader, I’m not interested. Not really. I’ll do it if I feel that no one else wants to, or that the current leader is, well, inadequate. Because I can do the job. And I do it well. But in all honesty? I prefer to do my own thing. Strange for an extravert to say, isn’t it? Don’t worry, I also like to not-so-quietly critisize others. I don’t pull any punches.

But it really sucks that there is so much misunderstanding around introvert/extravert types and what it means. I am an extravert. But I do not hate being alone. I quite enjoy it, actually. I need my alone time. But I also need social interaction. I crave it. I’m the one who initiates conversations with long lost friends. I love people. But I don’t understand why people seem to think introverts hate people. That’s not the definition of introversion, it’s more like… social anxiety (but don’t take my word for it). I know introverts who love people and social interactions. But they do need their alone time. It’s simple. Extraverts are energized by social interaction. Introverts are energized by quiet time alone (or with a few quiet people) and are generally drained by social interaction. Get with the program, people. Saying that introverts hate people is like saying that all people hate running because it makes them tired. That might be true in a few cases, but it’s not a generally true statement and should not be proclaimed as such.

And… I managed to deviate from the theme of this post again. But here are a few of my goals for 2018:

  1. Exercise more regularly. Join a sporting club or something.
  2. Reduce time spent procrastinating.
  3. Draw something every day, no matter how small or sketchy.
  4. Engage in personal writing at least twice a week.
  5. Figure out a few career options (instead of blindly having no idea what to do).
  6. Finish composing one of the gajillion songs I’ve started.
  7. Develop basic dance skills (I currently have none).
  8. Learn Excel spreadsheet stuff.
  9. Read more non fiction.
  10. Submit to four literary magazines.

And there you go! Some of my goals for this year. I know I will most likely fail at some of them, but they’re nice to have anyway. Gives me a place to start. And maybe this isn’t a goal, but more of a promise to myself: I will get to know myself better. I will engage in thoughtful self reflection. Because now is  the time, right? When you’re young and teenage?

Anyways, Happy New Year! (If you celebrate it
– Rebeeks

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On Fiction Writing

Sometimes I don’t understand why, deep inside me, there is still an impulse to write. Why am I doing it? sometimes it actually doesn’t make sense to me. I always start a lot more poems than the number of poems I actually finish; why, I do not know. Or actually, I do know. To me, inspiration is something which is fleeting as the wind. It comes and goes like the wind. Sometimes I wonder how actual writers, real published authors, overcome this. But maybe they don’t. John Green did just go like, at least 3 years without publishing a book.

A few months ago I decided I sucked at story-writing and almost gave it up completely, but I couldn’t. I always tell people I am primarily a non-fiction writer, which is true, and I wear that self-appointed label like a badge of honor. Why shouldn’t I? These days, all people seem to care about is fiction. And I do love fiction as much as the next person, but I love my essays too much. I’m afraid I’m a bit of a literary narcissist. I spend way too much time writing about my life, my experiences, my joy, my sorrow… I know my life is complicated, and I do like giving myself a voice. But I realize there are others, other people, other problems, other complications in this world. I’m just not necessarily qualified to speak of any of them. And so I know the non-fiction genre, unpopular as it is, has a lot to offer. And it has a special place in my heart. But I still find it quite impossible to give up fiction.

Perhaps it is good that I can’t give up fiction, but it does cause me some issues. I am not confident in my ability to make up and tell a good story. At all. The last time I tried, I came up with eight pages of rambling nonsense. And as we all well know, rambling nonsense is not conductive to telling a good story. At all. My characters are flat and there is generally a glaring absence of plot. But for some reason, despite all of this, there is a tiny voice in my head telling me not to give up.

Well, it’s actually not one voice. It’s voices, plural. I swear there are sometimes characters in my brain clamoring for me to tell their stories. I am not making this up. One, it actually drove me crazy for about two weeks, and I was forced to sit down and take extensive notes on this character and her family. I haven’t started telling her story, yet, though. And I think deep down I fear that if I give up fiction, I will irretrievably lose a part of myself, the part of myself that is a storyteller at heart and loves bouncing story ideas off other people. That has been a part of me since my earliest childhood. Where is the confidence I had, back in fourth grade, back when I thought I could write mystery novel? What happened to the sixth grader who thought she could win short story contests? I admit I’m scared. I’m afraid of failure. I’m afraid of becoming incoherent and messy in my writing again. I hate being messy and incoherent. But what do I do?

For the first time in almost three years, I am writing a story. It may be a short story, it may be a novella, it may be a novel. Who knows? But the effort counts. I am not saying I haven’t written fiction in 3 years. I am saying that I haven’t done it for myself, with passion, with actual belief in what I am doing and the story I am trying to tell, in 3 years. It’s a lot. With that time gap my adventurous self is returning. I am trying new genres; I’m experimenting. I’m going all out. I don’t hate writing fiction. I’m trying to regain the confidence to be able to look past my shitty first drafts, the confidence to even begin those drafts. I hope I find it again, because deep inside, I miss my inner novelist.

Poem

I thought I’d share one of my poems today.

What Talent?

Inspiration doesn’t come when you call it.
Not even remotely when you need it.
Oh, no. It runs away from you. It stutters. It stalls.
It finds good excuses – oh, sorry, good reasons
To not help you out.
I’m sure it says (or is saying),
“Oh, look, she’s tired, I won’t bother her with good ideas” or
“She has two weeks to finish that; she doesn’t need my help”
Which is really annoying.
Or, maybe you just infuriated the Greek muses.
Really, who knows?

And when your creativity finally shows up—
Oh, when it comes, it’s always at the most inconvenient time
Such as, in the bathroom or
At three in the morning
Or during that really boring science test—
I mean, ideas are great and all but you sort of need to pass that—
And creativity doesn’t always flow like water, but no,
It drips and abruptly stops or
It is a crashing tsunami that quickly washes away,
And then you’re just stuck there thinking,
“Why,
Why do I even do this art thing with my life?”

The problem is, the making of a creation
Is a long and drawn out process that involves
Sitting at your desk and yelling
“Ideas! Come to me!”
(Which may be why the Muses hate you in the first place?)
Or you know, even days when ideas appear while you’re otherwise occupied
But disappear before you grasp them,
And, it involves piles of messy drafts
And mounds of vile work
And days of adjusting details to unattainable perfection.

The worst part?
Your friends might come over and look at
Your painful hours of exertion and tell you
That you “were hit with the talent stick too many times.”
Talent stick? What talent stick?
It’s not like someone invisibly walks around and
Randomly bops people on the head with this huge stick marked “TALENT”
And doles out talent (Because why not?)
And this person is like “You’re going to be this amazing singer” or
“You’re going to be this amazing painter and—
Yeah. No.
Life doesn’t work that way. Sadly.
It takes time and work and so much effort
To do something presentable
And so, when people tell me that I’m talented,
Sometimes, just sometimes,
I look at them like, “What talent?”

My Relationship with Computers

I have an interesting relationship with computers. I love them, I hate them, and sometimes they annoy me to death. I had one computer that had some many issues that once one of the issues got fixed, something else would stop working.
That was hell.
My current computer is quite annoying as well because it isn’t as slow as some of the older computers but is advertised to run faster than it actually does. This is also where I learned that having more cores on your computer does not necessarily mean that your computer runs faster. Remember that. The salespeople are not necessarily well-equipped to properly help you. Or maybe they’re simply biased. I suspect its a combination of both.

Earlier this semester, I had one available slot left in my timetable and I opted to take computer science, which is A. an elective, B. an elective offered to people in the grade above me, and C. headache inducing. Do you think I’m crazy? Sometimes I myself think I’m crazy for taking the course. When people hear that I’m taking that course, a common question is, why?

If I’m going to be completely honest with myself (and you), I first have to admit that it was a split-second decision. I had planned on (maybe) taking this course, but as a grade 10 student. This summer, when I went to summer school, I took math. It was a very intensive course and I did not want to take anything related to math this year. And what did I end up in? Computer Science (or, as they call it, Introduction to Computer Studies), which is basically another version of math. Great. It was either that or take Grade 10 math, which I would do under no circumstances.

I actually like the course though. It’s a really different approach to teaching. We learn (very, very basic) programming and it’s not the “Follow the instructions and you’ll do well” kind of class. No. It is literally “Here is the problem. Solve it.” I both love and hate this approach. It is totally appropriate for a class where you learn coding. Basically what software does is solve problems for you. But someone wrote that software. In order to have the program solve problems for you, you need to understand the problem yourself. You need to be able to break down the problem into its parts before you build the code. Then, you need to understand the logic and how to do things sequentially.

The funny thing is, the more you write code, the more you start thinking like a coder. It literally changes the way you do things. I find myself wanting to simply write the word “else” instead of otherwise or something do that effect, because that is how conditional statements are communicated to the computer. Huh. If I wrote an essay like that, my teacher might ask quite a few questions. Namely, “are you sane?”

I honestly don’t think I am.

-Rebeeks

Thoughts on Getting Accepted to CHS (Part 2)

About 6 months ago, I wrote a post about what I thought about being accepted to Canterbury. Now, a week after my first day at CHS, I can write down my thoughts about actually going to the school. 

  1. I have to wake up super early to go there. Living 26km from your high school is never a good idea. Unless, of course, that high school is Canterbury. It takes me about an hour and a half  to get there in the mornings by bus, even though it’s a 20 minute drive from home. The first two buses I take aren’t that crowded though, would is a godsend. And it gives me time to write these posts ( or read or do my homework).
  2. I love the vibe coming off of the school. The murals are awesome (like, who wouldn’t want paintings on the walls of their school?) and you can literally feel the creative energy emanate from, well, everyone.
  3. There are to types of people in my lit class. The people who really like English and the people who actually love writing. I don’t even know where I am in these two, so, moving on. 
  4. I’m not getting censored anymore (finally!). The last time I had a teacher who didn’t censor us was three years ago. About two years ago, for some reason I wasn’t allowed to write a story where a character commits suicide. Something about it being too dark, although it’s not like we were reading our work to six year olds (or to anyone else for that matter).
  5. Computer science is a hard course. Especially since I’m taking it with grade 10 students (which is really intimidating). Do not take a grade 10 course as an elective during first semester. Or try not to. You won’t die, but it might be in your best interest to reconsider. That damn course is so fast paced…

So yeah. Things I’ve learned. But also, there is so much to do in high school, and there’s something for everyone. (Unfortunately, I don’t have time to do it all. That sucks.)

-Rebeeks

Thoughts on Getting Accepted to CHS

I’m going to be a CHS lit art student next year. I feel really good about that. I really wanted to go there. But really, it means a lot more to me that just the arts program.

In so many ways, going to CHS , in my life, is very symbolic. It symbolizes going full circle, in a number of ways. I started school in that neighbourhood. I’m going to finish in that neighbourhood. That’s insanely cool, considering the fact that I live 20km away now. I’ve always belonged there. Going to JMSS wouldn’t be the same. It’s true, I’ve met at lot of people this year. And JM is my home high school, and all my new friends are going there. Some of them are actually sad about the fact that I won’t be going to high school with them. And I’ll miss them terribly. But honestly? I’ve only known them for a few months. And I don’t belong with them. It’s true. The energy is just, so different in this part of town. I don’t like this energy. It stirs up something in me that would rather stay asleep. So, I belong at CHS. I’ve known it since the day I first set my eyes on it. A bit cliché, but true. Plus, as to all my other friends, we’ll still keep in touch, right?
You know who your true friends are when, even 2 years after there’s no chance of you seeing each other again, you’re still in touch daily. Even more so when your friends accept to send you handwritten letters. (For the record, we gave up on handwritten letters after I got email, but it still touches me how nice my friends are.)

Another one of my friends, one I haven’t seen in a while, is going to CHS as well. I’m kind of (okay, scratch that, I’m really excited) to see her again and go to high school with her. Again, going full circle. We both have other close friends now, though, so it’s going to be awkward, but hey, I’m convinced we can make it work. So many people come together there, and I’m happy to be a part of that. New friends, old friends, and hopefully I’ll meet some new people. High school is going to be AMAZING if I can make it work. And I’m convinced I can.

I’m also really happy I get to take Lit at CHS. I’ve wanted to take it since grade six, so in a number of ways, it’s a dream come true. I’ve always loved writing. That’s part of the reason why I started this blog. So yeah, I better start taking this blog more seriously.

The Rebeeks is Back!

I haven’t blogged in like, three months! And I miss it terribly! But the fact is, lately I’ve been very preoccupied.

First of all, I’m applying to CHS for Lit art and I’m kinda freaking out. I mean, what if I’m not good enough? My friends keep assuring me that I am, but I’m freaking out just the same. What if I don’t have what it takes? Also, writing an autobiography is a lot harder than it seems. Especially when you need to do it in under 500 words.

CHS is amazing. I can really see myself going there. I love the atmosphere, especially the paintings on the wall… Their e-newspaper (is that even a word? If not then it is now) is great too. Too bad I can’t read any of the stuff from last year. This year’s stuff is pretty interesting. But why the heck did they call it The Wallflower? That makes no sense to me whatsoever. Anyways, I love the place. And I would love to be in a full-time writing program. Writing is in my blood… Although it probably doesn’t seem like it here since I don’t blog that much. But hey, I have a life too… Although my life is kinda boring… But hey, forget I ever said that.

English class is bugging me this year though. It’s been bugging me for a while. The last time I was really allowed to explore my limits was back in Grade 6. The teacher honestly didn’t care about what we wrote, as long as we were expressing ourselves. That was also the last time I got to experiment with violence in my stories. Last year, when I approached my English teacher about a murder scene, he objected, saying that the Principal wouldn’t be too happy if she read it, blah blah blah… Since when does the Principal’s opinion on a student’s work matter? I wrote the murder scene anyways, but did it so that it was accidental murder. Sometimes, you have to reject what the teacher says/thinks in favour of a your creative license. That story would not have been complete without a murder. And for some reason, the teacher didn’t seem to notice that I’d ignored the rules.
I can’t wait to be able to explore again… that is, if I make the program.

Also, I can’t wait to escape the harsh reality of my school, which I absolutely hate, and do not want to graduate from. Wait… that does not sound like what I meant. Let me rephase that. I wish I could graduate from my old school. All CMS ever did for me was irritate me. It continues to do so, except that my French/Art/History teacher is great… For once, history, which I normally hate, was interesting and FUN! Although I’m not too fond of the art projects. But she can teach. And she’s really supportive. She’s pretty awesome.

I feel like no one at CMS truly understands me though, which makes me somewhat depressed. I wish people were more willing to understand me though. I feel like I’m asking too much of people though. But I will never completely adjust, which is just as well, since I’m only spending a year here anyways. I will never adjust to the fact that there is no Strings program. I love the viola and I miss it terribly. The teacher who was making band bearable left to teach at my old school, and has been replaced by some other teacher who never ceases to frustrute me. She’s overly optimistic, doesn’t understand anyone, and is not willing to give me more time to properly learn the flute. I’m more of a nuisance than a student. I’ll bet that she’s failing me already.

Well, that’s all for today. I hope to be back soon (not in 2 months!).

-Rebeeks