Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lunch Crisis!

Let me tell you, lugging a 12-pound softball bag to school every day for a week is nobody's idea of fun. Especially when the load is accompanied by a 46 pound backpack, a small lunch bag, and exhausted shoulders from lobbing softballs for two hours after school.

So is it any wonder that I sought to consolidate by tucking my lunch in with my cleats and glove? Of course, you respond. It's perfectly sensible. However, when one forgets to take the lunch out of the bag when one leaves it in a certain PE teacher's office to be collected at 3pm, the plot thickens.

No matter, though. I begged a few friends to accompany me on the cross-campus trek to retrieve my wayward lunch. It was then that disaster struck. The door was locked! Now I was stuck on a Tuesday without a lunch right before a math quiz.

Having coerced a senior into buying me a decaf mocha during 4th per, I was not absolutely starving, but the fact remained: I needed food. And unfortunately, given the time, the only food available was - *gasp* - that's right. Cafeteria food.

I told myself it would be OK. I could get some overpriced, substandard, but filling Chinese food (orange chicken, I believe it was) and not collapse from exhaustion.

Then, it happened again. "Sorry, we're out of chicken."

I cringed, not believing I could sink this low. "Can I" I choked. Five second later, IT landed in front of me.

The cheese was mangled, displaying the thin layer of once frozen tomato sauce. The crust was puffy, belying the insubstantial air bubbles beneath the surface. When I turned IT over, the bottom crust had the consistency of an uncooked shortbread cookie full of partially hydrogenated soybean oil. (Fun, huh?)

I took a bite. It was greasy and disgusting, but I didn't collapse in math.

I guess we must all be thankful for the small things in life. Like not being poisoned by cafeteria food. Really puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Freshman Finals!!!

"Wow. This is the first time you guys have ever taken real finals."

This ominous quote was uttered by a particularly observant senior to a class of freshmen on the first day of official first semester finals. Needless to say, it did not calm my nerves as I anticipated the horrors to come.

Luckily, my first "final" consisted of watching a movie. Thanks to the first-per. teacher who knows what's important in life! (If anyone wants to snag this class for next year, it's Video Production.) Unfortunately, this film turned out to be possibly the most depressing piece of footage I have ever viewed. SPOILER WARNING. PLOT DETAILS FOLLOW. In a nutshell: A pair of sarcastic just-graduated high school misfits, (Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch) decide not to go to college. The dark-haired one falls in love with another misfit guy 12 years older than her after helping him get a girlfriend in the first place. Her best friend, both concerned and annoyed at the amount of time Enid spends with her new "friend," grows farther and farther away from Enid. Eventually, Enid loses a college scholarship and her boyfriend, and, her life ruined, is seen boarding a bus to - we never find out. Exactly the movie that leaves you pumped up and ready to spend two hours taking a science final.

After a leisurely half hour spent with friends frantically recounting study habits and speculating on just how much the teachers would delight in giving us all F's when we failed each and every test (as we were all positive we would), I crossed the quad with two friends to the first hurdle.

Freshman biology is a relatively easy class, but of course I overstressed and overstudied for a final comprised of all previous test questions. Unless one didn't study, has amnesia, or possesses a particular aversion to paramecium, the final was not difficult. Accurate stress factor: 4 out of 10.

As the Supreme Dictator of All Finals (that would be math) was scheduled for Thursday, Wednesday night was spent somewhat like this: worry. study old quizzes. fret. study old quizzes. freak out. calm down. study review sheet. study social studies to take my mind off it. firmly tell myself that I have to study if I want a good grade. study everything. Reason that I've been studying for a week, so I have nothing to worry about. Remind myself that overconfidence is the pitfall of all test-takers. (I just made that up, but it sounded genuine at the time.)

I don't even remember what the weather was like on Thursday. Because my English final was all vocab, I breezed through that final and set my sights on the goal. (2/10.) As soon as I walked into the math classroom, I could tell something was out of the ordinary. (Besides the fact that my entire college and after-college career was to be decided in that very room, I mean.) (By the way, that was a joke. I am not actually that overly anxious.) Rearranged desks always put a feeling of unease in the air, but the multiple choice went all right. All in all, I was only worried about one proof and one algebra problem when the test was over. (9/10.) Exhausted, I thanked the Supreme Being of Schedule Making that I had PE next and could unwind by watching another movie - this time it was one of the "stupid", not the "depressing" genre. Oh well. (0/10).

About French, what can I say? Only that a certain celebrity whose first name resembles that of the capital city of said country could probably get an A on it. This was due in part to the fact that the students wrote the final questions. The only remotely challenging section was that of culture. (a.k.a. In Mahgreb (Francophone North Africa), do they praise the Lord for their food before or after the meal?) I was thankful for this respite from "killer" finals and used the extra study time to study for social studies. (1.5/10.)

After having heard from multiple people that a lot of the questions centered on the Enlightement, I brushed up on my philosophers and had a good time trying to remember why Phillip II declared war on Queen Elizabeth I. (Maybe he thought he could beat her because he had a greater number after his name.) (6/10).

All in all, most of my finals were not hard. Some even bordered on - dare I say it? - easy. Math was about as hard as I'd expected, and the rest were easier than I expected.

Congratulations to all on surviving the week! And for those who are sad finals are over (you know who you are), there's always Spring finals!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

New Year's Resolutions: A Study in Societal Impact

New years' resolutions, just like school rules (some would argue) are made to be broken. A firm "I will start studying for tests three days in advance", seeming a perfectly achievable goal during those relaxing days of Winter Break almost always dissolves after the first test, especially if the result was not ideal.

The categories of resolutions have been fairly standard this year. Present was the academic resolution (from a freshman: "I will stop procrastinating - doing homework in the morning is not a good idea.") The athletic goal made an appearance as well (from a freshman: "I want to make CCS."). And then there's the "aspirational resolution" - a resolution regarding an ability over which one doesn't actually have much control, which, technically, brands it a wish. (From a freshman: "To be able to see my true friends and never let them go.") Of course, if one fails to acquire this ability, there's always the safeguard that "it wasn't really a resolution." Milestones to be achieved through work are easy to make and easy to break. However, they also provide a high level of satisfaction. A sophomore from Mexico emphasized the opportunity to turn over a new leaf ("I'll try to erase my mistakes and start all over, be a better person and not fight with my sister.") A respectable but, again, difficult resolution to follow through on is "to be nice to people I don't like" (from a freshman).

But, taking a close look, what really is New Year's? The only reason January starts on this day and not on May 23 is because of Pope Gregory XIII, who decreed in a papal bull that this reformed version of Julius Caesar's calendar would be the norm. (Ironically, he decreed this on February 24, not at New Year's.) As put by a Jordan eighth-grader, "Every day is a new year, from that day one year ago." Why do we set so much store by this particular day? The answer is the same as the reason why celebrities are famous: we decide what events, things, and people are important. If we all decided not to buy movie and concert tickets, never watch TV shows, never Google celebrities, and generally ignore them, their status would disappear. A celebrity, by definition, must be famous. So if we decided to make the year start on July 4th, our year would start on July 4th, no questions asked (well, there would be some questions, but it would catch on eventually).

A new year, whatever its real societal significance, does give people hope for new ways, new promises, and renewed appreciation for life because people so designate it. Plus, it gives us all an excuse to sit around and drink Martinelli's.