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Saturday, October 11, 2014

An Update on My Life

It's been such a long time since I left this blog, and wow, I actually can't even remember where to start anymore. The last time I posted, it was in 2013, and to be honest, a lot has happened since then. I've tried starting new blogs, exploring what vestiges of my personality can lie in these different blogospheres, but as most good things go, I had to admit that the first blog I started was still the best. (You can have fun trying to look up the five other random blogs I began throughout the year, though. I promise, they're pretty interesting to read.)

At any rate, it's great to be part of all of the action once again (albeit my lack of subscribers, but let's not dawn on that fact.)

Last year was my first year living in New York City. That's right, I managed to move without letting you guys know...but to be honest it's not like it was a giant move or anything. It happened in about mid-July, and I moved in with my grandparents in Corona, Queens. I took to SHSAT later on in August, and then got accepted to...Stuyvesant High School! Being the alma mater of my dad and one of the best science and math high schools in the country, I was naturally very excited.

I also managed to squeeze in a week in the middle of August to volunteer as an Arts and Crafts TA for the Monmouth County Chinese Summer Camp, which was a pretty exciting week filled with little kids, Chinese games, and Asian parent struggles. Then my high school (or, at least, the high school I was planning on previously attending) invited me to their annual Choral and Band Camp to prepare for the upcoming season. I was pretty piqued to join their Women's Choir, but obviously, logistical things got in the way...

And here I am, now! Freshman year was extraordinary -- I got to meet so many great people, many of whom came from really interesting backgrounds. You'd be surprised to know that Stuyvesant's just like any other school. We have our share of jocks, punks, skaters, cheerleaders, Asians, hoodlums, potheads, indies, emos, etc. It just happens that we're all better than the average bear at taking tests... (one of the things my Intro to CS teacher will never let us forget.)

I ended up joining way too many clubs, taking way too many classes, and being a general tryhard in way too many areas my first year. Do I regret doing that? Well...I suppose it really depends on how you look at it. I definitely did enjoy everything I did, but the lack of sleep associated with our high school stands true, unfortunately.

Some of the best experiences I had were in Honors Biology Research, a class I took spring term. The kids in the class became really tight, probably over the struggles of having to complete a full biology project in four weeks (I'm still surprised over how we managed to do so...)

And then there was Key Club/Red Cross, which allowed me to volunteer in some of the most obscure parks in our city, run into random people, meet really famous personalities, travel upstate several times, and make friends with some of the most inspiring people I've ever met.

When I wasn't out volunteering, I might have been in the debate room, on our sixth floor. I may have forgotten to mention that our school harbors ten floors, but we have an amazing English department, highlighted by our Speech and Debate/Forensics Team (but not CSI type of forensics.) I joined Lincoln Douglas Debate on a complete whim, ended up losing a lot of my rounds my novice year, attending Counterpoint Debate Camp in the summer before sophomore year, learning a lot of philosophy and politics, and finally moving up to the JV Team.

I could continue rambling on and on about the happenings of freshman year, but this post has already become pretty disjointed, so I'll save that for my "Timeline" page above, where I'll sort of post what I've been up to.

At any rate, I'm now a sophomore in Stuyvesant. (Woo!) I've noticed that I'm currently in a state of existential crisis, stuck in a rut where I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing half the time, and why. I don't mean I'm about to take off to Africa on a mid-life crisis, but I'm genuinely wondering what I'll be doing for the rest of my life. Maybe it's not such a great idea to be blogging when I've got piles upon piles of homework to complete, but I might as well do something productive with my time.

Well, that's the update. See you all soon!

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Friday, August 9, 2013

CTY Chronicles

As usual, I apologize for not having updated in ages. There is so much going on in the world and I honestly feel overwhelmed sometimes but lately there has been much more downtime. I am not sure whether this is a sign of changing times or if there is really a lack of eventful things taking place around this time of year.

For those of you who I have not yet been in contact, for the past three weeks I have been at a summer camp colloquially known as Nerd Camp. The more official term is CTY, Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth. They offer a slew of programs, from family explorations at various museums around the world to online courses and their most popular -- the summer camp. These take place on sites around the world at dozens of colleges. For instance, Dublin, Hong Kong, Saratoga Spring (NY), Los Angeles (CA), etc. My site had been Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

When I had to choose my sites over five months ago, I was mainly concerned with the courses available. The class I was interested in taking -- Cognitive Psychology -- was conveniently offered at Lancaster, Session II. Further probing brought me to the fact that not only was Lancaster the longest running site in the CTYprogram, but it was also the most tradition heavy. I applied, was offered a spot, and thus my adventures began.

Anyway, I arrived and was dismayed to find that there was literally no wifi on campus. What was a stereotypically wired teenage girl like myself supposed to do at a sleepaway camp for three weeks without Internet? It was in such a manner that I trudged myself through check-in, up the stairs to my dorm, into my room, and through my luggage. Seeing the large and empty expanse of a college dorm (which I was surprised to find was much more vacant than the hotel rooms I was used to) made me wonder if I might have just underpacked -- just a little. After all, I was seeing kids with loaded trunks packing for this three week camp, which even had laundry!

Our next stop was the dining hall for lunch. My parents, as all Asian parents are, were pleasantly surprised to see that the buffet styled dining hall was open to no charge for all families checking in. The food wasn't quite as impressive as I expected, but the Kosher/Internation/Vegan/Organic, aka KIVO, section served up a nice combination of fresh wraps, sandwiches, hotdogs, and a deli for the Middle Eastern cuisine. I noticed quite a few kids wearing the strangest fedoras, top hats, and duct tape paraphernalia. Unfortunately, I was left to the elements after we made a final dorm check after lunch.

Once my parents left, I was literally in a daze. I met with some of the other girls in my hall right before our first official hall meeting. They called me a "squirrel" since apparently all new CTYers are referred to that name. Anyway, I immediately learned that this camp was far from your average summer camp. We started off with some interesting discussions about ourselves, as well as "speed friending" which was basically the Platonic version of speed dating.

After all of that excitement, we still had to attend class. Imagine my surprise when the teachers asked us to call them by their first names! Plus, we sat in a horseshoe shape as opposed to the typical rows in order to promote group discussions. Although there was a pretest on psychology (which practically no one aced, given the fact that no one wants to sign up voluntarily for a course on a subject they already know) I was assuming that was the only graded assignment we would need to complete.

I left, tired and enthusiastic about what was to come. We have a grassy area in front of our dorm called the "Quad" where kids sometimes hang out to play frisbee or tag. At night, however, it's transformed into a high-energy, cacaphonous dance party. With the older kids leading the traditional dances, nerds moving like no one was watching, and voices joining in with the chorus, I'm happy to report that it was definitely a new experience for me. One I'm not quite letting go.

And that was only the first day. As hectic as things got at CTY (and oh, they can definitely get rowdy especially during the second week) I was able to keep tabs on the happenings. I'll try to keep you posted, as well as to share some photos, but I can't make promises yet!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Happy Lunar New Year!

There's been a lot going on lately, as I usually find when the new year starts - and I'm not just talking about the coming of 2013 (though it's honestly been a while into the new year and I'm a bit ashamed I haven't update more often!) As any self respecting Asian should know, the lunar new year had recently passed, bringing on bucketloads of fortune with the coming of 4711.

I was actually a bit disappointed we hadn't been in Chinatown this past weekend to celebrate the new year.
Despite the multitudes of Asians that currently reside in our hometown, the school district refuses to have an official holiday for the occasion, or at least to call off school. It's only by sheer luck that President's Day falls on the same weekend, giving us a well-deserved three day weekend. However, in most cities and towns of mainland China and surrounding areas, kids are off for about three weeks.
In case you hadn't already heard, there was actually a visit to our middle school by a travelling dance troupe from a club in Nanjing, China. The performers were a group of amateur dancers ages 8-16, travelling as a school performance group on international tour. This was one of their many stops they made throughout the year, and it seemed as though they already knew what they were doing. The kids were adorable - their little dances were definitely something to marvel at, as well as their conversation level English. There's just something that you can't pass over about stuttering Chingrish mixed in with the adorable qualities of pre-pubescent innocence. Anyway, the press came to interview us about our part in the event. The Chinese teacher at our school, Mrs. C, had connections with several travelling performance groups from mainland and she was able to set up some pretty neat opportunities for the students to experience culture. This was the second such cultural experience, and the Chinese class was heavily involved, even putting on a school-wide talent show to welcome the new year.

The kids had been with us for about three days. Our parent-teacher groups were able to house all of them in various families throughout town, as well as provide for their food and travel needs. I had the privilege of leading around one of the younger girls - a sweet ten-year-old with the most adorable stash of Hello Kitty merchandise that you can really only find in China - for their stay. They left last Friday, after we conducted a closing ceremony consisting of a gift exchange (plenty of good-luck charms, oranges, and jade pieces), final interviews, and a heartfelt goodbye.

On the same note, our local Chinese school had been featured in the same newspaper. Yesterday was the (postponed) Chinese New Year celebration, drawing in a crowd of local townsfolk, VIP Board of Education members, local company heads, and students of all nationalities. Our school usually organizes an annual dinner party, with raffles, food, games, and a talent show that lasts from 4-6pm. This year, the nor'easter, snow storms, and other winter madness forced the hosting schools to close their buildings for the weekend of the celebration. To make matters worse, the auditorium, our customary stage for the performance, was reserved this week to make room for a Wizard of Oz musical rehearsal. They transported all of the sound systems, lighting crew, and stage crew to...the gymnasium.

Nothing more than a few bleachers greeted us, but at least the show was able to go on. As one of the performers, I came to the high school, for indeed it would be held in the morning of Saturday at our high school commons area, and helped set up the decorations the night before the performance. In a pizza-induced coma, the orchestra feverishly practiced their cantankerous melodies on ill-tuned erhus and dizis, the dance team stumbled as they tried to coordinate on a hardwood dance floor, and the little kids ran through the legs of anyone who was standing with their feet wide apart enough to glance through. In other words, a pretty productive Friday night.

Come Saturday, I was awake at about 6AM, making preparations. There was too much going on to sleep at any rate. My parents prepared the red envelopes that were given to all of the Chinese school students, made final orders for the food (because our usual take-out restaurants were receiving catering orders to nearly a dozen other Chinese New Years in the area and Papa John's pizza was being uncooperative as usual), and reviewed the announcements they'd be making before the culmination of our celebration.

I won't even go into details about the performance. Let's just say, a magic show without the fancy footwork and lighting that goes well is already a miracle in itself. And an orchestra minus surround sound whose songs are heard at the back of the changing room is pretty amazing, too. Someone had brought in a box of Munchkins, so in between acts all of the performers were on a sugar high, pretty reminiscent of the night before. I could barely keep my eyes open for the reporters as they gawked about our dragon and lion "puppets." Nice try guys, but it's for VIPs only.

To sum it all up, we came home exhausted, filled to the brim with mei fun and lo mein, and otherwise pretty satisfied. Despite putting on a performance at the last possible minute, we were able to get pretty much the same satisfying reaction from the community and I guess in the end that's what really counts. So there you have it. Chinese New Year.

(By the way, if you ever happen to go to our new year's celebration and have a few raffle tickets in hand, the red envelope raffles are probably the most lucrative. Either that or the electronics and games for the kids. They were raffling off a set of Pokemon figurines and a Hello Kitty waffle maker, which I literally pulled out my eyebrows begging, but there's no telling whether the goddess of fortune heard. Summary: my brother walked out with the Pokemon, my friend with the lil' kitty.) Anyway, have a safe and happy new year, eat lots of great food and remember to listen to your parents!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

On Donuts

There seems to have been a conundrum surrounding the entire idea of donuts. As Americans, we're normally accustomed to believing that donuts are something of a fattening, albeit delicious beyond celestial boundaries, treat. And that's about it. No one ever thinks beyond the fact that they're donuts. I mean, they're just there.

Anyway, earlier I was at Dunkin Donuts and while browsing through the flavors (because, you have to admit, they do have a lot of flavors, especially at chain stores like Krispy Kreme and Peter Pan), I was wondering why there were so many varieties in the first place. Obviously, there's the different combinations of colors, creme, icings, designs, sprinkles, and who-knows-how-many other embellishments customers just love smothered across their donuts like gravy on egg foo young. Factoring out the cheery marbled holiday designs, there was the simple decision -- what sort of donut do I want?

Now, for anyone who's thinking on terms of glazed vs. jelly, I'm past the fillings and decorations. There's (almost) literally hundreds of batters and doughs you can use to make donuts. Yes, batters and doughs. Correct me if I'm wrong, but from the myriad combinations of cider, sour cream, red velvet, cake, etc. donuts I've seen a distinct difference -- donuts, once thought to be a fried culinary delicacy, seems to be jumping out of that hard-enclosed box these days.

Quoting Wikipedia, "doughnut or donut (pron.: /ˈdnət/ or /ˈdnʌt/) (see spelling differences) is a type of fried dough confectionery or Dessert food. doughnut or donut (pron.: /ˈdnət/ or /ˈdnʌt/) (see spelling differences) is a type of fried dough confectionery or Dessert food...They are usually deep-fried from a flour dough, and shaped in rings or flattened spheres that sometimes contain fillings. Other types of batters can also be used, and various toppings and flavorings are used for different types.” 

In a nutshell, donuts (or doughnuts for the more literally correct) seems to have the connotion of being fried. Not just shallow fried like pancakes or those adorable crepes you can buy off a street vendor along the Champs-Élysées. Real, hardcore, deep-fried balls of dough. If I'm not mistaken, this eliminates the entire line of cake donuts, waffle donuts, and adorable bagel-like donuts that have recently been showing up in donut stores everywhere. 

What's the big difference anyway? Negating the excessive use of oil and calories gained from frying, texture and taste-wise baked donuts have the same variety for which fried donuts are loved. Unless you're a fan of greasy and crispy crusted balls of dough, opting for the baked seems to be the better choice. Although Dunkin Donuts seems to have a tradition of frying all of their donuts, in that past few years many stores have been baking their goods (hence the promise of "fresh baked goods"). 

Besides, what's the one feature we love about donuts anyway? It's their light, fluffy texture, their perfect pick-me-up conglomeration of sugary goodness, and simple, satisfactory puff of air that escapes when you pull it away from your mouth in a bite. Personally, so long as my donuts taste right, I wouldn't mind switching to the baked varieties.

Out of simple curiosity, I've compiled a list of unique donuts from around the world. They say it's a small world, but I believe otherwise.

Over the Top Bagels
Fine, so these aren't donuts. Since when have I ever been able to pass over exotic foods, though, and bagels and donuts are confused often enough (more about that in a future post). With the grand opening of a new Dunkin Donuts in Xi'an, China, they began a line of "Over the Top Bagels" which are certainly over the top, with their flavors including Pineapple , Ham, Tomato & Cheese; Spinach, Roasted Red Peppers, Roasted Garlic Mayo and Cheese; and Caramelized Onion, Cracked Black Pepper and Cilantro.

Mochi Donuts
Found in Dunkin Donuts across China, these treats are made of glutinous rice that is then fried in oil in their distinctive ring shapes. The green one is green tea latte, with "the texture and color of split pea soup." From my personal experience, however, they are more like chewy cakes.

Daiquiri Donuts
Found in Spain, these donuts provide a burst of er, happiness, for any rum/cocktail afficianado. Seems as though they must be pretty popular in the area.

Kimchi Donuts
Yippee, savory donuts! Though I'm typically opposed to such combinations of sweet and savory, these kimchi donuts sound like they might be perfect for an after-dinner treat that isn't too sweet. Slash that, not sweet at all. In Korea, Dunkin Donuts sells varieties of kimchi or lentils curry croquettes, which are really more or less fried balls of dough stuffed with fillings. Not the conventional donut, but a work of art nontheless.

Red Bean Bismark
For the culturally inclined (at least in tote with the Asian subculture) there's no surprise someone would dream of injecting our lovely Berliners/bismarks, yeast based fried donuts, with red bean filling. 

Dried Pork and Seaweed
Again, found in China, these are savory donuts that just need some love. If you've ever been in a Chinese bakery, you know how it looks -- among sweet, delicious sheet cakes and buttercream fantasies, there are small, dilapidated fried buns of pork, seaweed, fish powder, and just about every unlikely combination. Not too surprising to see Dunkin Donuts jump on the bandwagon.

 Donut Balls (On a Stick)
...because anything tastes better on a stick, right? I find these little cake pop-esque creations by a Dunkin Donuts in Thailand absolutely adorable. I can just imagine the faces of the little toddlers who get these as a treat for finishing their veggies. :3

Siam Square
I haven't seen these outside of Thailand. Unlike the usual ring-shaped donuts, these are actually infused with jelly along the length of their rings. I'd say it was innovative, if you eliminate the wonder of why they didn't just infuse the donuts with jelly to begin with...

Waffle Donuts
Armed with a new waffle maker (thanks for the birthday present!!!) I am entirely intent on making these waffle-batter-based donuts. Apparently they have the texture of a Belgian waffle with all of the nostalgia of the flat donuts you sometimes try to make on your own (assuming you have no clue how to bake as I once was).

Be Happy!
What's not to love of these adorable emoji donuts from Russia? I'd buy one!

And finally...

Because we all love kolestrol!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sugar Cookies

As with every holiday season, my fingers start itching for the oven once the first tinkles of bells start ringing in the doorways of the little corner stores of NYC. There's just that sentiment of "Winter Wonderland" and "Frosty the Snowman" that make me want to frost up some snowmen of my own. This weekend, since we had time and I didn't feel like studying for the big Geometry test coming up on Monday (joy, proofs!) I went shopping for new holiday cookie cutters.

Now, I'm no newbie to the tradition of Christmas cookies -- ask anyone in my family and they'll tell you all about the horrors of finishing cookies months after the holidays have ended -- but until this year I'd never made cut-outs before. Not one. Sure, I've made sugar cookies, soft shortbreads, gingerbread, chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, almond cookies, candy cane twisted-colorful-naturally-flavored cookie bars, and just about every gluten-based pastry you could think of that was even slightly related to the holidays, but it never crossed my mind that I didn't own even one tiny little cookie cutter. How's that for a baker?

If you ask anyone for the smells of Christmas, vanilla's bound to come up in the top ten, alongside the more popular pine and cinammon. It's common knowledge -- at least in these parts -- that Christmas cookies are an imperative addition to any holiday season. It's like a Christmas tree without a star, a door without a wreath. Where's the fun in that?

I started out by experimenting. About a minute into the recipe, I discovered I was missing a stick of butter -- no doubt my parents had used it for some other recipe I was unaware of. Plus, the butter we did have was partially used, from other experiments with baking and stuff. I made do with my 2.9 sticks of butter, compensating by removing an entire cup of flour. I'd read someplace that more flour makes for crispier (aka dry and hard) cookies while less flour makes for more moist cookies. Not that I'd want shortbread, of course, but I figured that if anything was right, it was the word of the Martha Stewart commenters.

Anyway, I didn't have any trouble until I found out that creaming the butter was a little harder without my trusty egg beater. While I did use the electric mixer in the past, I simply couldn't find it today, this not being my kitchen to begin with. Figuring that there was nothing to lose, I spun a whisk. It kind of worked albeit in a messy splash across the table in random spurts of buttercream kind of way. Fun.

Next, the egg and vanilla. I was thinking about adding some almond extract for some depth in flavor. In the past, I'd made orange and lemon flavored cookies by adding about 2 teaspoons per 50 cookies. Amazing. Maybe I'll try it out on some spring-themed ones.

Another thing: the dough. It was painful to watch, my whisking the dough so amateurishly. First were chips, then they slowly, slowly, slowly clumped together. I started feeling some impatience when they were still barely coming together and I'd been kneading it for almost half an hour. After sometime, and a bit of heat, it came together and was ready to roll out into the awkward mats of doughy goodness that is the birthplace of Christmas cookie heaven.

My first batch of cutouts was pretty awkward -- and not too pretty to look at. I didn't want to take a picture, to spare your eyes, but the dough had been rolled pretty unevenly - and a few of the tender candy canes broke at the curve. That's something I'll keep in mind -- make your candy cane cookies thicker, or else they'll snap in half at the slightest movement!

Afterwards, I lightly decorated them. No need to be too fancy on my first batch after all. They were perfect in my opinion -- almost the same flavor as chocolate chip cookie dough minus the chocolate chips. A bit bland to European standards, but what do they care anyway? I'll be giving some away this holiday for sure!

Sugar Cookies

Yields about 50 cookies (depending on cookie cutters)

  • 2 cups butter (about 4 regular sticks)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 cups flour (plus extra for rolling out the dough)
  1. Cream the butter and sugar.
  2. Add egg and vanilla.
  3. Mix all dry ingredients and slowly add to butter cream mixture until incorporated.
  4. On lightly floured board or table, roll out to desired thickness. 
  5. Cutout even shaped cookies and bake at 400 degrees F for 7-10 minutes.
  6. The bottoms should be slightly browning and the cookies should be light in color.
Thicker dough tends to make softer cookies, while the thinner dough makes crispier ones. Whatever you do, make sure all of the cookies in your batch are the same thickness!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More Procrastination

It's been a while. And it's been pretty surprising how many ways you can think of a "while." I mean, there's the technical definition off of Oxford's dictionary (which is really the official guide to English, not Merriam Webster's as many of us die-hard Webster fans have been led to believe.) A period of time. Then there's the connotation and whatnot, which pretty much tell you that there has to be some time that has passed, a lot longer than a jiffy, but not as long as forever might feel.

Here was a really good guide to the
whole Zen/Ch'an idealism
Anyway, getting back to the topic, it's been a while since I've been able to blog. Between NaNoWriMo -- didn't think I cheaped out this year did you? -- school work -- lots and lots of reports and essays that I pretty much spend oogling delicious new recipes from Crockpot and Yahoo! Shine -- flute -- because I have more music-stuff to work on before disappearing from the scene forevermore (more on that at another time) -- and my new passion for travel literature, I've hardly had enough time to even get the shuteye I need. Which doesn't exactly help my newfound love for coffee. And along with that, my newfound passion for coffee creamer and Belgian waffle makers.

It's surprising how old you can feel at times. Now, I know I'm a hypocrite to even call myself old when there's barely any life lived yet, but it's just the sentiment that, "Wow, I've been up to a lot." I'd recently been catching up on my Ch'an reading (that's Chinese Zen -- the original zen -- for all you Oriental noobs out there) and one of the exercises involves detaching yourself from the moment and letting the reality of the moment flow over your mind, so that you see things not from the hectic viewpoint, but from the window of an observer. It can get really philosophical at times, which is why I usually refrain from doing it until late night cram sessions like these when I really need a reality check.

At any rate, no doubt you're wondering how life's going. Why, thank you for asking because it's coming along quite fine. Of course, I'm in the middle of a dilemma right now that no degree of family or acquaintance intervention can solve. High school applications have been coming up and there's this really great vocational school that I've been meaning to apply to for a pretty long time. I mean, they've got the all-inclusive nerd community, awesome technology courses, a whole research lab, mentorship, and loads of other stuff that make overachievers drool in their sleep. The catch? They've got a sever lack of humanities -- literally, they've got one English and one History sequence, no APs (not that I mind too much, but I've been looking forward to taking APUSH some time, especially with the quality of the course material around these areas.) Plus, they've recently lost funding for their newspaper, the most important club of any school in my opinion. Where else can students of completely opposite personalities and interests meet for a lively debate? How else are wallflowers supposed to keep up with the news?

I suppose I've been rambling, though. I'm just a bit depressed, because the whole music thing's been catching up with my life. After a hefty argument that got no where, my old piano teacher (who had actually given an astounding amount of help) decided to leave our center for new employment elsewhere. Which means that, rather than taking our lessons at the local music center, we (my family) will be switching over to a private teacher, who happens to be a member of a statewide music association that's known for producing "fine young musicians," or in other words national award winning Chinese kids who bring tears to their parents' eyes. I've seen them before. They're pretty salty.

That's not the worst part, though. About three years ago, I discovered a strange little object. It made a metallic noise when I rapped my nails against it, and it felt cool to the touch. When I picked it up for the first time, my fingers felt electrofied -- possibly because it was really cold in the air-conditioned lobby of the music center. When I brought it up to my lips, I knew a connection had been forged. I'm a proud flautist, and I'm even a bit sad to be (possibly) leaving this behind in the coming years. I mean, sure I'll still play and everything, take lessons and whatnot, but I had this stupid little dream a while ago -- back when I was still doing competitions and stuff -- of performing as the principal flute in an orchestra. Stupid, I know, especially for a student of two years. But it was a dream, and I was a bit sensitive to criticism whenever it was around. Time came that my family decided competitions were too hectic to track over. And in the sweep of a finely inked ballpoint, my stupid little shrill was drawn closed.

But what of the title? That's true, even as I type these words I'm procrastinating. There's apparently a flash fiction piece due tomorrow, some new essays to write, and loads of stories to study. What am I doing in place of my well awaited work? Staring at the menus of Taco Bell and Au Bon Pain, deciding tomorrow's lunch. And yet, as they say, the worst has yet to come. Well, au revoir!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

So it's here again. I'll be doing NaNoWriMo for my third year and (hopefully!) emerge victorious. Tired, fatigued, exhausted, but victorious. And this year I'm going for the ultimate challenge - to publish my second book. That's right. The first passed by in a whirlwind of color. I'll admit, compared to the first and only published work of Harper Lee, I'm a bit discouraged, but that's more past than anything. I'm setting my eyes forward and hoping for a great November!

As far as school goes, I've been pretty well off this year. Our middle school recently ended the much coveted (at least by the Asian-American and overachieverist community) Honors Geometry program. Technically, students can still skip, but now we're treated like any other grade-skippers - forced into a class of upperclassmen, tortured with heinous piles of work, and whipped until we run as fast as we can on our stubby legs up the staircase halfway across the building and into the room. That might sound like an exaggeration, and I certainly don't want to berate the school administration too much, but it's a bit unfair how they make us go to class almost two minutes before the bell. We're lucky we can still catch up - me especially, since John Hopkins had so kindly offered me a discount price on their CTY Geometry course last summer semester, allowing me to take an extra sneak peek at their course offerings. Now if only I had known about such fickle matters at an earlier time...

Anyway, I have the feeling that things are about to go up a notch. That's right, I've got high school admissions. See, most teens (apart from preppy and private school kids who have to attend endless interviews and campus tours before they even hit puberty) are probably lounging away, thinking about how little time left for fun they have. Here in our town, we have a vocational school district. It's not your typical mechanic/farmer/carpenter/marine biologist vocational academy either. These, my friends, are offerings of state-of-the-art research labs, award winning curriculum, internationally recognized standards, and a host of some of the brightest kids in the nation. If you still don't know what I mean, here's a hint - just last year, one of the schools hit the #1 in the nation for math and science. It's driving the school board insane, since they recently spent all that money on educating the gifted and talented, only to see them whisk off to vocational schools, leaving the normals to attend our local district. Kind of depressing, when you put it into retrospective.

Speaking of applications, my parents have gotten this idea that I need to prepare for college. If that includes taking the SAT II, AP courses, and other acronym happy whatnot years before I need to, I'll comply like the good little Asian I'm not. But recently I've stopped getting stressed out. Loads of homework reaching past Mauna Lua and tests scheduled iotas within each other have stopped making my heart beat fast. I've read in some places that for some people, stress gives them an adrenaline rush. Translation: work makes you high. What do you think of that idea?


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