I beg to differ

Don’t Test Me

This past semester, I have had:

  • 7 Government tests + 1 final
  • 7 Physics tests + 1 final
  • 6 AP Calc tests + 1 final
  • 8 AP English tests + 1 final
  • 11 AP Psych tests + 1 final
  • 7 AP Bio tests + 1 final


Total: 46 tests + 6 finals = 52 tests

With 90 days in a semester, this averages to about one test every two days. I wonder how much more I could be learning in those testing days…..

And I’m sick of constantly limping from exam to exam.

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There’s an albatross around your neck

My AP English 4 class recently had a discussion assignment where we had to examine the Romantic poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. As I was reading it, it seemed so familiar. Soon, I came to the line “Instead of the cross, the Albatross/ About my neck was hung,” and I realized…it alludes to one of the songs from my favorite bands, Bastille!

The Weight of Living, Pt. 1:

Dan Smith, the frontman of Bastille, often draws inspiration from the texts he used to analyze as an English Literature major for his songwriting. He masterfully remixes them into upbeat and catchy tunes that reach the top of the charts worldwide. The messages behind the metaphors are so universal that listeners don’t need to know there was a literal/historical background to them in order to understand and relate to the songs.

In this song, the albatross bird represents a “weight of living” – a burden or consequence that, like the mariner’s deed, stemmed from good intentions. The singer is encouraging the person in the song to “let it go” and “[shrug] off the dust and the memory” and move past his mistake. It’s a reminder that even in the darkest times, even when the cause of your downfall is yourself, there is always hope. 🙂

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Candid Thoughts on Candide

“Optimism,” said Cacambo, “What is that?”

“Alas!” replied Candide, “It is the obstinacy of maintaining that everything is best when it is worst.”

Candide was my summer reading assignment for AP Literature and Composition. Here are some thoughts I had while reading it:

1) The most jarring quality about the descriptions in Candide is the use of black humor. Although it is meant to reflect Candide’s constant optimism, it leaves the reader feeling horrified and disgusted. It is especially effective in the description of war-torn towns and violated peoples.

“Candide resolved to go and reason elsewhere on effects and causes. He passed over heaps of dead and dying, and first reached a neighbouring village; it was in cinders, it was an Abare village which the Bulgarians had burnt according to the laws of war. Here, old men covered with wounds, beheld their wives, hugging their children to their bloody breasts, massacred before their faces; there, their daughters, disembowelled and breathing their last after having satisfied the natural wants of Bulgarian heroes; while others, half burnt in the flames, begged to be despatched. The earth was strewed with brains, arms, and legs.”

Although it is extremely difficult to elicit a physical expression on me while reading, I made a disgusted face when I read that.

2) Every time Candide says, “I wonder what would Pangloss say if he was here?” all I think of was – WWPD: What Would Pangloss Do. That would be a great alternative title to this book.

3) I mentioned to my friend how Martin was my favorite character because he made the most sense to me. “You know he’s the foil of Pangloss, right? Extreme pessimism.” Oops. (I’m not that pessimistic, I promise!)

4) El Dorado reminded me of Calypso’s island from Greek mythology. Getting there is a chance occurrence. You can stay forever, be happy with the prosperity and abundance of the land, but you won’t be with your loved ones. However, once you leave, you can never return. It’s the perfect life that can’t be, and it highlights all the terrors of normal life.

5) I loved how short and to the point this book was. Voltaire wastes no time on a boring introduction; by the end of Chapter 1, Candide is kicked out of the palace and the adventure begins. He embeds social commentary flawlessly throughout Candide’s experience. I won’t pretend I understood everything that happened, but I did appreciate all the wit and hilarity.


You Gotta Get Up and Try

A lot of what I have learned through high school, and especially in the last year, can be summarized in the phrase “you never know unless you try”. Many of the awesome opportunities I’ve had would have never come to be if I did not step out of my comfort zone (like the Gryffindor I am). I spent too much time over thinking and doubting myself, even when I was “sure” of what I wanted to do. But, I believe that trying something that makes you uncomfortable or seems challenging can help you grow as a person.

For example: my summer internship. I wasn’t sure if asking the Girl Scout Board if anyone’s company had an internship available was something I was allowed to do. But someone was more than happy to help me, and they offered me a unique project. When I arrived at work the first day, I didn’t know what to do, but I went through the motions until found my niche. I ended up having an amazing experience that I gained so much practical knowledge about business from. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in my short, but worthwhile internship.

And this blog! I used to think blogging was only for housewives or recipe bloggers, and that as a student I wouldn’t have anything worth sharing. This blog turned into a chronicle of my time in AP English 3, and I can’t wait to share what happens in the future. Plus, I couldn’t have won “Best Overall Blog” at the OC Blogging Awards last June if it were not for the effort I put into every post.

Putting a sincere effort into a seemingly insurmountable task is difficult. The worst part is that the constant doubt and the fear of failure are all in your mind. However, I encourage to take a chance once in a while and push yourself to do the best you can. This may be: taking an AP class, applying for a new job that looks interesting, or just asking someone of higher authority a simple question. Whatever it is, you CAN do it. I won’t guarantee that it will turn out the way you expect it (because life never turns out that way), but I will guarantee that it will make you a better person. Just give it a try!

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I Don’t Know…yet

As an upcoming senior, the single question I have received most this summer has been, “So, what do you want to major in/do in the future?”

And the truth is, I don’t know.

“What’s your favorite subject?” I like biology a lot. and chemistry. and English. and Spanish. and then there’s my extracurricular interests, which I love. My junior year has made me realize that I can like any subject when I have a great teacher. I am thankful that so far in my high school experience, I have had awesome teachers that make learning anything fun. The downside of that (that I’ll gladly accept) is that I don’t know what my passions are. All I know is that I like learning.

I can’t believe the time has come to pick a major and start worry about college applications! I still feel like the thirteen year old I was when I entered high school. A word to the freshmen: don’t think you’ll have it all figured out by now. You’ll probably be more confused than ever.

I think older people should stop telling kids that “when you find your passion, you’ll feel it” or “when you step on to the campus of the college that’s for you, you’ll know”, because that’s not always true. Senior year is hard enough with all the decisions we have to make, it doesn’t help to overlook the struggles you went through (however long ago). I know plenty of others facing indecision and confusion as to what major to pick, because school/life hasn’t given them enough exposure to the plethora of career paths out there.

But that’s okay, summer is still young and there’s plenty of time for more research. Check back on the Class of 2015 in two months (we will most likely be crying). We’ll figure it out…somehow.

I should go start summer homework now.

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Dear Parents

A minus

Dear Parents,


Your child’s report card comes home. You glance through, and horror of all horrors, it doesn’t have straight As. There are two Bs for your child’s hardest classes.

All your life, you’ve taught them that Bs are bad. Bs are unsatisfactory, substandard, and caused by negligence by kids. How could they think of bringing home a final report card with a B?! They’ll never get into a top college now. They’ll never be successful. They shouldn’t have been so careless.

You say you’ll be the good parent – you won’t yell at them. You’ll be “understanding”. You’ll talk to them about this horrible mistake. The both of you will reflect over your child’s mistakes so that it never happens again.


“________, your report card is here.” You fail to see your child’s smile as they come to tell you how proud they are of their hard work.

“And even though I got a B in this class, I learned so much and -”

“Why do you have two Bs?” you cut across sharply.

Your child’s smile drops.


Let’s reflect upon your school year, you say. When did you slack off? Was it that one month you were too involved in your extra-curricular activity? Why didn’t you work harder? Why didn’t you get an A? I bet _________ got an A. Were you distracted? Why didn’t you ask me to get you tutoring? What could I have done to help? This is an important year of your high school career! This will affect your college admissions!

Your child and you go to sleep angry at each other over what should have been a celebration. Your child wakes up sad and guilty.


If handling this situation could be graded, you’d be given an F.




The ex-Straight A student


Parents, there are three things I’d like you to know:

1) If your child has done hard work, and is proud of it, you should be proud of them, too. No ifs, ands, or buts.

2) An A grade is not normal. It is not average. It is not easy. It is not what everyone else gets. Especially not in AP and honors classes.

3) Appreciate the good. Yes, your child got a few Bs, but they also got a lot of As. They took challenging classes. You saw them working hard all year. Reward them for that. Definitely don’t make them feel horrible for it.

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All Good Things Must Come to an End

Hello my wonderful readers,


Today was the last day of my AP English 3 class. Sad face.

We were supposed to turn in this blog post last week, but I couldn’t get myself to write this until right now.

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I think I’m clever…round 2

It’s been one interesting year, for sure. I’ve learned, laughed, thought, written, and published so much. As I told Mr. Z earlier, I never knew coming into this class how different of an experience it would be from my previous English classes. That’s definitely a good thing, though – this was my favorite class after a long time!

I never took multiple-choice test to end a book, I wrote more of what I wanted to write (on here) than I wrote essays, we held discussions through Twitter, and sometimes in class, we discussed the rhetoric of FOOD very seriously.

Blogging has been extremely fun, and I want to thank you all as my readers for reading, liking, and some even commenting on my posts. All of it has given me invaluable encouragement that I greatly appreciate. I learned a lot about my opinions and how I could present them to the world. I learned how to remix two different ideas to make them more relatable and entertaining. I learned (through you all, my followers) that people want to hear what I have to say! And that feels amazing.

So thank you 🙂

I plan to keep up with this blog through the summer, whether it’s for more marginalia of Show Your Work!, or my experience in a collaborative reading of Smarter Than You Think, or maybe even my actual summer reading assignment: Candide. I hope that I will also be blogging for English class next year.

Whatever the case is, I hope you enjoy your summer!
…There is one last thing, however. If you have enjoyed reading my blog so far, and/or you think my writing has improved over the course of the year, please let me know! I would love to hear your feedback, no matter how little. If you don’t have the time, that’s okay too.


HB Tech Fest Review


Yesterday, May 29, 2014, I had the privilege of attending and briefly presenting at Huntington Beach Tech Fest. It was an awesome, 80s-themed experience for students and teachers alike. I learned so much about social media and technology!

The event started with a social breakfast. We were organized into teams to complete “quests” for points. I found that this was the only activity lacking throughout the day – I submitted a few quests before the keynote, but totally forgot about them later. I met a lot of teachers from other schools, some of them who surprisingly knew who I was…through my twitter handle!

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My nametag…I think I’m clever

The morning started off with an introduction by Mr. Chris Long, the organizer. Then there was a wonderful keynote by Amy Burvall, co-creator of ‘historyteachers’ music videos on Youtube, and Theory of Knowledge teacher at Le Jardin Academy. I have been following her on Twitter for some time now, so I am familiar with her work…but even the people who had never heard of her were captivated by her talk on “MTV: mobile, transliterate, visible”. During the talk, I was busy moderating the @HBTechFest Twitter account by following the #HBtechfest tag and retweeting key points. Funnily enough, when I looked up from my phone, half the audience was looking at their iPads, computers, or phones. It wasn’t that they weren’t paying attention, they were just listening and tweeting!


My first drawing made with Paper

Mrs. Burvall creates amazing hand-drawn slides with an app called “Paper” by 53. See her slide notes here.

Next was my presentation with Mr. Ziebarth. We discussed our networked reading of Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work! with @Braddo on Twitter (post on that here). I received a lot of positive feedback from teachers 🙂 which was enough to make my day.

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Believe it or not, seeing teachers share your work is super encouraging

We split up into groups to read, annotate, and discuss different chapters of the book. I even received my own free copy of Show Your Work! 😀 THEN, as a lovely surprise, we all got onto a Google Hangout with Austin Kleon! Austin was very straightforward and humble when he answered questions – he wasn’t afraid to admit his shortcomings and doubts, which I thought was admirable.

selfie with austin kleon

#selfie #collannotationsgang

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Straight-faced but he’s really fanboying inside

Even @Braddo joined in on the fun!

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After that was a karaoke lunch full of 80s songs. (Side note: Weirdly enough, I knew most of the songs on the day’s playlist because my siblings were born in the late 80s, haha.) I got to interview Amy for the tech fest video! and there were Twitter cookies! and delicious MTV cupcakes! and Mr. Z did not one, but TWO karaoke songs! Yeah, lunch was fun.

I was conflicted on what session to attend next, but finally decided to stick to Amy’s Remix{ED}. I’m glad I did! Her presentation showed so many examples of remixes, a lot of which were HILARIOUS. Then, we created our own cut-up poems & mashup monsters.


Overall, HB Tech Fest was unforgettable experience that was WAY better than the day of school I missed. I hope it inspired all the attendees to transform education into a much more interactive and fun experience!


Thank Yous (because it is that nostalgic, end-of-the-year time):

Mr. Ziebarth, for being a great, creative teacher that lets us use tech in the classroom. I have learned so much in your class!

Mr. G-O, for introducing me to the potential of Google services way back in freshman year, and for supporting me.

Mr. Theriault, for encouraging me to apply for English Honors 2 (also way back in freshman year) and for showing me how fun English class can be.

Mr. Long, for inviting me to Tech Fest and letting me take over the @HBTechFest account.

and finally, Mrs. Amy Burvall and Mr. Brad Ovenell-Carter, for liking my work and having awesome conversations with me over Twitter. I hope we continue to chat 🙂

All of you are amazing teachers!!!


Why I Hate your Twitter Feed: Subtweet Culture

“Subtweeting” is a passive-aggressive form of ranting/complaining about other people (without mentioning their name) that takes place on Twitter. And it makes me lose faith in humanity.

In the beginning of the year my English class made Twitter accounts because Mr. Z does a lot of online activities such as #litin6, #showyourwork, online class discussions, and we can get participation points for posting on the class hashtag #zapfv. In the beginning, my Twitter was strictly for school use. Eventually, my friends found my profile. They followed me, and with no reason not to, I followed them back. This was when I got my first-hand experience with subtweeting.

You might be thinking, “if you don’t like someone’s tweets, then don’t follow them!” and that would be an easy solution. But the truth is that some of these people are my good friends in real life. The sad reality is that sometimes, the only way I know what is going on in their lives (if we don’t talk often) is by seeing their social media updates. When I first saw subtweets by a close friend, I grew concerned and asked her what was wrong and how I could help. It so happened that there was nothing I could do to help her because her problem involved someone else. So the next times I saw subtweets by any people, I dismissed them as useless and attention-seeking. It’s more of a boy-crying-wolf situation than an I-don’t-care-about-you mindset.

People turn to Twitter to rant about personal things they would rather share with the world for attention than discuss and resolve with their families and friends. This baffles me. Why scorn your enemies who are on Twitter and can see your complaints about them instead of just saying it all to their face? It only fuels hatred and starts “twit fights” (but that’s a story for another day). You say “HA!” but you didn’t show them at all.

Admittedly, blog posts (like this one!) and other forms of reflective media could be considered massive subtweets because they are inspired by the people and situations in our lives. But most of the videos, op-ed articles, poems, and blogs I have read ignite valuable consideration and make me ponder. Seeing subtweets makes me sad. Plain sad. Expressing your frustration at the world once in a while is one thing, but using twitter only to competitively deride your foes in 140 character-bursts is sad. That frustration and anger can be used for to express something valuable – songwriting, poem-penning, or mural painting. You have so much potential, and believe or not, anger can increase your creativity. Don’t waste your days stabbing your keyboard for immediate relief.


Ten Things I Didn’t Know When I Started Junior Year

I either didn’t know it, or didn’t fully realize it.

1. Literary analysis does not equal language analysis. They are completely different and that’s why there are two different AP classes for them. (OK, so I learned this like two days ago…)

2. Teachers take so. many. selfies.

3. Everything does not need background/summary. In the AP Language and Composition Exam, your thesis can be your very first sentence. “Just get to the point!”

4. I’m a really good note-taker.

5. Sometimes teachers are so active on social media that you tweet them about the homework instead of emailing them. (This is a sign that you have a really cool teacher.)

6. Interviews are not as scary as they seem. Just be prepared.

7. It’s really important to develop good relationships with your teachers and mentors.

8. Show your work. In math class, of course, but also in Chemistry and English class. and life.

9. American literature just isn’t my plate of cookies. (because I don’t like cups of tea)

10. Everything is a remix. Nothing is original.

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