The Death of Ivan Ilych

        We are reading this book in English class, and it is just awesome. It brings raises the question of what I would do in the face of death, either of myself or of those around me, and it comes at a coincidental time. A few days ago my dad received a phone call from his brother in China, saying that my grandfather wasn't doing so well. As a result, my dad is going to frantically fly to China in a week. After sobbing to BD on the phone, he suggested that I go with. I gave it a lot of thought. I'd have to miss about two weeks of school, and that would leave me with a lot of work to make up in several difficult classes. Eventually I decided that BD was right. Two weeks of school and plane ticket money should not be more important than being able to see my grandfather for the last time. After all, most of my teachers seem pretty accommodating. I am sure that I could get lengthy extensions and I could have them email me pretty often with notes and such. Most of school is a waste of time anyway. I wake up obscenely early so that I don't get enough sleep and so that it is counterproductive. Some classes of my classes, such as AP Economics, Physical Education, and AP English, are altogether useless, boring, and/or redundant. The only classes that I really feel I need to be there for are AP Physics C, the math class I assistant teach for, and perhaps Advanced Math Topics.
        I brought it up to my dad, and he is open to me going but also suggests against it. Then my mom got wind of it, and, as I knew she would, instantly started attacking me. She said that I had already just seen him over the summer, and I was going to fail out of all my classes, and that I am only thinking of myself and not of all the extra money they would spend. She also said that I am a huge burden, and if I went then I deserve to pay for my own college tuition. Of course, she topped it off with, "but you have to make your own decisions, I'm not going to say anything." I honestly didn't know what to say to her. This is the same woman who blatantly told my sister that her grandpa is going to die soon. I don't understand how a human being could be so cold-hearted, and I am utterly ashamed to be her offspring. The rare times when people don't actually give a fuck about human compassion, they at least attempt to disguise it. I know it would cost about an extra $1000, but I wish she would at least give it some consideration. I wonder if she really believes that I am being incredibly selfish and didn't think about it at all, and am going to make a vacation out of hanging out with my grandfather day in and day out at the hospital while he has ten different tubes coming out of him attaching him to beeping machines. My mom doesn't make any sense whatsoever. This is fucking life and death we are talking about. I don't know what to do or say anymore.


American bigotism.

"When I was in high school, my peers and I were more focused on our own town and community than a global impact, like you are today. Recently I was in China, and I was told that their students are much more higher achieving than American students, that they were more advanced and prepared for global advancement. I looked around in their classrooms and examined their education during my stay. While they may be more academic, I knew that if I stuck any of the students from my school in their Chinese classrooms, they would be successful. They have their math, but I know that American students surpass them in every other aspect. You have character, and your service to the community shows that you are ready to compete in a global economy. You will not let them steal your lunch. The fact that the Chinese government invited us educational administrators from America shows that they know that they are no match for us. On my flight home, I was certain and confident in the ability of our students to continue to be at the top of the world economy."
- a paraphrase of the bulk of my high school principal's National Honor Society Induction Ceremony speech

        Most of the room was silent throughout his speech like they were supposed to be, and some remainder of the room was clearly trying not to laugh out loud and making satirical comments. I have to say that I was of the latter portion. I am disgusted and disappointed in the lack of tact and critical thinking of my own school administrators. Honestly though, this is what most of my town believes. That is not to say that China's education system does not have significant pitfalls; I'll be the first to admit that. Yes, it is very focused on academics and does not leave much room for any other personal development. This is something that nobody can deny. However, was this really the time and place for a high school principal to give this kind of a speech? He was trying to instill his opinion on who he thought could handle it, the "smarter" portion of the school (even though NHS means nothing.) He never even stopped and thought about how to be more objective, or make it more relevant to NHS at all. It became his pedestal for propelling forth his notions, and not about congratulating the inductees.
        Moreover, this speech embodies the elitist attitude that America has developed over its short stint as a world power. Every media outlet is suddenly bagging on China because it is suddenly a threat to American world power, for anything from "human rights" (which basically means anything) to "Communism" (even though China is more capitalist than the U.S. and remains Communist only in party name.) Also, my principal's confirmation bias proved to him that the invitation to China was China's admittance to its inferiority. What he did not stop to think about was that in China, people have a different attitude from that of Americans. They are constantly learning and growing and looking to others for ways to do that. As a whole, Americans find something that sort of works, stick with it, and refuse to try anything else. China has so many problems, but at least they try to fix things, and when they do, they do it for the long term and not for an election cycle. America may be a world power now, but that will cease to be the case if the common thought is that there is no improvement necessary.
        Overall, my principal is entitled to his close-minded opinions. I simply did not appreciate his sharing of them at the NHS induction. Many of my peers are likely on the fence about issues like this, and they do not need some authority figure presenting a unilateral viewpoint the way he did at a formal ceremony. I wonder if anyone took that speech seriously, but I am afraid that many in the audience must have. Awkwardness only skyrocketed when the principal finished, and the elected NHS president rose to give his speech. He is Chinese.

Small Update: People are satirizing this speech all over Facebook. This relieves me greatly.



        I had quite an emotionally charged conversation with DC today about how unfair the college applications process is, how arbitrary it is, and how much about people it really neglects. Honestly I think the American one is one of the broader and better ones, but still it is so flawed. A girl paid over $300 per hour for ACT classes, and got the same score as I did and I feel like my score means nothing and I don't have anything that sets me apart from the rest of the pool. DC has everything that a college applicant could want, and yet she is still comparing herself to someone else who gets every leadership position in the school due to popularity. Some people really do just get it all, and don't leave so much for the rest of us. Even at her level, there is still so much to worry about. Everything is a gamble, and we all really take a college decision as a reflection on their own lives and worthiness.
       I think we all just need to take a step back, especially those of us at the top, (not trying to be narcy or anything but just statistically speaking,) and realize how fortunate we really are. I know it's cliche, but I just have to remember those people who couldn't get a 35 no matter how hard they tried, and no amount of expensive tutoring could get them there, and it doesn't even matter much of the time because they can't afford it.
       Also I am thinking that while I am stressed, it is easier for me to maintain a more realistic and even a little bit more optimistic of an outlook. This is because in the past I had never really believed that I could go to an amazing school. I hoped that I would get into U of I. It's not a bad school, but nowhere near the kinds of schools I am looking at now. My SAT score really opened so many doors for me, and my ACT confirmed it. I think it was my SAT that made me realize that I'm not average. The standardization let me put myself into perspective, and I couldn't let what I had go to waste. I am so fortunate to be able to even think about applying to a few ivy leagues, and now my dream school is a totally different caliber than it would have been before. I'm still going to worry incessantly and compare myself to others, but I am happy to be a relatively competitive applicant from my school. Sometimes I feel that I am just a mediocre minnow in a sea of glittering narwhals, but when I'm hanging with the narwhals I have to remember that I lose perspective.

Who would have thought that I could achieve what I have today?



too much sass lately

        I have been really sassing everyone lately. The most recent example was yesterday, when I let D know that I particularly detested a friend of his. The topic arose when I found that he liked and commented on facebook pictures of her butt. She is the biggest attention whore I have ever known, and her only friends are boys. The thing is, she is beautiful and has a bangin bod and a charming personality. It's hard to see beyond the surface, for boys especially. I do admit that I am indeed jealous of her in these respects, and it just upsets me that everyone seems to encourage her asinine behavior.
        Some funny background on her: Last year she posted a picture of her crotch with three boys around it on facebook. It was captioned something along the lines of, "after too many vag slaps!! ;)" Her mom and sister commented saying how un-ok that was, so she later took it down. Her ex-boyfriend, even while he was dating her, would complain loudly and incessantly about her vagina. He had several complaints about it, including odor, and he would also do so in front of children. Whenever he wanted to refer to it in a public place, he would make a flapping motion with his arms. (Now that is just BAD but ridiculously hilarious.) She has not had sex, but has received oral sex from many people, including a boy she didn't like though she knew he had been in love with her for years. Afterwords, she kissed his stomach all the way down to his fly, then went, "teehee, just kidding, I don't do that kind of stuff!"
        She actually goes around bragging to people that she doesn't do physical favors for boys, even for people she dates for a really long time. This is probably a big reason D vehemently denies that she is a skanky. She says things like, "I'm not like other girls," like she thinks she is better than other people because she doesn't do things for boys. WHAT THE SERIOUS FUCK. This is so pseudo-feminist that it is anti-feminist. It's one thing to not do it because you don't want to, but it is completely different to claim that you are doing so because you are a "superior" person. Not to mention, it is plain old RUDE to always take and never give. She is beautiful, but she knows it all too well.
        Anyway, now I am being reprimanded for disrespecting him by disrespecting his friend. Nothing is said about him disrespecting me by commenting and liking another girl's butt picture. I couldn't care less if he just appreciated it, of course that is natural, he is an 18 year old boy for chrissakes. The commenting on it and stuff is unwarranted and he knows I am insecure and this really just reminds me of how replaceable and unimportant I am. D says that she is allowed to post whatever she wants on facebook. This is very true, but I honestly don't believe that this means I am not allowed to have an opinion on what she posts. I guess I have to go back to hiding my opinions lest he hate them and stop talking to me. I understand if he is upset with me, but really this shouldn't be such a big deal, and he can't just hate on me like this without reflecting on what wrong he has done. Of course, he doesn't do anything wrong so what am I talking about. I just hate so much having to cover my feelings up, and when I don't tell him my feelings I feel like I am keeping something from him and I also have to make up fake feelings so that I don't act like the cynical brat I really am. I am always apologizing because I hate the fighting and the not talking, but I don't believe I really should be doing that.
        If he wants to break up with me he should do so,  and if he really wants to make this work he should start acting like it.