It’s that time of year (brace yourself)

It is time, now, for the bloggers of the world to begin reviewing their past year of posts, and listing the “Best of”s or maybe “Most memorable”s or “What I’ve learned” or “What I plan for next year.” I am very much inclined to do just that, being that I am a blogger myself and lots of good, noteworthy and educational things have happened…But, being that I am also a future-gazer, I would like to share my plans for 2013 that I chose from the conclusions drawn by the jolly good show that was 2012…

I learned a lot. I gained a lot.

I am also glad a lot is over.

I don’t regret anything, of course. (I’m still just a kid, for crying out loud.) Except maybe the not-talking-to-the-people-I-was-drawn-to, and the not-being-a-bit-more-friendly-to-people-I don’t-know (well, that makes me sound like a snob, but I assure you I am not; I am shy), but I’ve since learned that that’s not exactly in my nature; however, I should also know how my non-outgoing nature might lead people to believe I don’t like them.

A lot has changed. Just by stating that I am almost halfway through my junior year of high school may conjure what I mean. But my age is not the only thing that has progressed. (I’ve also learned that not everything has to do with school, unlike what we kids are lead to believe – I’ve been told that my education is my number one priority and my job at the moment and all that stuff. Which it is…but youth is also full of friendship, adventure, and experience, too…not just school. That’s why boarding school isn’t mandatory and we have weekends, right?) I’ve got a lot to tell you, to say the least.

I will also be revealing my resolutions and such. I think it’s a bittersweet tradition, resolutions. People apply a sort of magic to it, as if the clock striking 12 midnight (or 0:00 in Europe) gives them unbridled willpower and perseverance. I learned that the hard way, being a compulsive goal-setter. I’ve learned that goals must be nurtured and worked at, or they won’t become a reality. They require planning. In essence, one is trying to create a new habit. One can’t do that overnight (literally, as we assume on January 1).

The sweet part is that it’s fresh start. Did I ever tell you I love fresh starts? Anything that paints the world rosy with hope and confidence is my style.

(Shall we replace “Auld Lang Syne” with this little number? I feel bubbly and motivated already. Boy, would I love to start the new year in “pink.”)

I like the convenience of my birthday being right around the new year’s start (that’s right, I’m 17 as of a fortnight or so ago), so I begin a new age and a new year all in one go. So each resolution I make is like a goal for each age. What will I accomplish in year 17?

Sometime in the beginning of 2012, I learned how to read well. Catcher in the Rye was my first well-read book. (And you know what I mean by reading – as opposed to “reading”? Reading and actually paying attention, registering the words and finding a meaning in them. Fiction has “themes” and nonfiction has “central claims.” Otherwise, writing is written around what the writer is trying to say. Seems obvious, but I never noticed until it was pointed out to me last school year.) I realized, which was enforced by AP Lang, that writings always have something central to say, and the plot is the vehicle or vessel to do just that. Holden Caufield has become my little dormant older brother ever since.

I learned, from my English teacher, two valuable, nonliterary lessons in addition to How to Pay Attention in Books and such:

  1. When you feel dumb, you’re learning, or on the doorstep of an opportunity to learn. (Embracing the dumbness is when the learning begins.)
  2. The best way to learn to like something you don’t is to let someone who does like it explain to you why they do. If they have got good reasons, they may point out points of interest you missed in your huffy disgust. Relax and allow the work to speak to you through its fan.

 

I came close to winning an educational trip to Germany by scoring a 97% on a National Exam, but no dice. I interviewed (in German!) and made the interviewing ladies laugh, but hey, I hadn’t even completed my third year of German yet, so that’s pretty good.

January 2012 brought my first ever show in a jazz band. I was very very awkward on stage and I think my performance was lackluster, but it was exciting nonetheless. One must start somewhere, yes?

In February, I bought my own guitar with my own saved money, and it was most rewarding. I officially named the yellowy blond beaut Elsa.

I played my first solo at a show in May (I believe) on “Night in Tunisia” and thought I was the bee’s knees for a few minutes. The I proceeded to play at my first jazz session in town with my band director and two other older and more talented musicians. Once again, I was spazzed and confused, but I did it, and I’m glad I did.

I went to my second and third concerts in the May/June time – Tower of Power and the Skatalites. Both great, great shows. I need to go to more, in fact. Live music is so so much better than recorded. It just is.

I think I set too many goals over the summer, but I decided it would be my last time I would swim competitively. I don’t know why I ever miss it, because whenever I was there, I wished I wasn’t. But once I distance myself from the sport, I look fondly at it. I think I just enjoyed being graceful and athletic in something. Just like I sometimes pine for soccer. I did really like that sport. But it was catty sometimes. (I was quite good at some point, but now I am so out of practice, I would be ashamed to show my face on an organized team.) I don’t know what drew me to sports. I know I can get worked up and fiery, but my temper dissipates quickly and I don’t like competition too much – it’s exhausting and stressful and requires a lot of confidence, which I didn’t, and still don’t quite, have – but I got so so much out of pounding that ball into the far corner of the opposing net. (Yes, I was offense. Not much attracted me to defense. Too much responsibility.)

I went vegan over the summer, too. That was exciting. (Now, I do eat eggs, though.) I only really miss the convenience of animal products, not the taste. Definitely not the smells. They actually slightly offend me now, but not enough to make a scene. It’s weird. I have no cravings for bacon or cream cheese or ice cream (because I have coconut milk ice cream), or what I thought I’d miss. I’m still working on coming up with great breakfasts without animal products, but all I have so far is: cereal, oatmeal, toast or a smoothie. I am working on waking up earlier so I can make something more interesting and actually be hungry to eat it – because when I first get up, I haven’t done anything yet to work up an appetite! But the most important thing I learned about going vegan was that this diet is not about giving up and replacing foods you used to eat, but expanding your diet to include new ideas and foods.

I attended my first band camp in August. Words to describe the situation:

sweaty, tiring, long, hot, work, musical, school, rewarding, friends, new friends, new instrument.

I also obtained a student trumpet from a good friend, and learned to play severely lukewarmly. I can carry a tune, but not enough to play without other trumpets there to drown me out in case I were to suddenly plummet in quality.

Band camp made the transition to going back to school almost seamless because I had spent what felt like half the summer at school already, so going back full time was nothing.

I started junior year with some good classes. My first band class, my first AP class, the ability to eat lunch outside, Shakespeare class, being an upperclassman (thank God), the hardest year of schooling yet. I started looking at colleges and universities, and I am just thankful that I started the search this year, because I would be fantastically stressed next year if I hadn’t.

My AP Lang teacher (since she was also my Shakespeare teacher, she might have told us in Shakespeare, I can’t remember) told us that humans like to trade emotions – that’s why art and music and writing and all the other art forms are still around. Humans are constantly telling each other how they feel, and it is most rewarding when others feel it with you. Isn’t that a neat thought? It’s really neat!

The marching band season was exciting. I had a little xylophone solo with my friend in movement 3 of our show. I think we ended up finally perfecting it in the end, but it made me so proud every time I did it relatively in time. Which was surprisingly a lot!

I spent a lot of time with the string bass and the winter band concert was a good time. I think at some points you could actually hear me playing (along with the horns and woodwinds). I got a bunch of compliments, which helps the hypothesis.

I had a successful vegan Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had a lot to be thankful for, but I still always do. I am always thankful for the opportunity, love, and care that I am showered with all the time.

I’ve started a book group at school – a small gathering with my 10th grade English teacher-, I’ve gotten into National Honors Society, I’ve questioned the worth of my membership in key club compared to the other community service and extracurriculars I do, I’ve opted out of pit orchestra (a band I looked forward to playing in) because of scheduling conflicts, I’ve joined the indoor percussion ensemble at school (playing xylophone), I’ve decided to audition for the county band on mallets, and AP Calculus has begun. As you can see, I was busy.

Just this winter break, I’ve done quite a bit. I decided to write it all down because I knew I would forget what I did if I didn’t. (Which is what happened this past Thursday and Friday, when I forgot to record what I did. Maybe I wouldn’t have forgotten about it if I had blogged about it!!) Most importantly, however, is by chance, my mom and I discovered Being Human on BBC America. We powered through the four existing seasons on OnDemand since last Sunday. (And although he was the most stressful of the four main characters, and I found myself yelling at him the most out of all of them, Mitchell – or Mitcho’ as the Brits say – is probably my favorite. He battled a fierce inner war and I give props to him. If you watch the series, you know what I mean.) All I can say is that series is superbly excellent. No wait, I have more: it is intelligent, it is meaningful, it is suspenseful, and it is all in British English! While devouring  watching that series, I had a cliched epiphany: I thought, “I want to do that. I want to make something like that. Intelligent TV. Who woulda thunk it?”

I instantly felt confused and guilty because I’ve been pushing musicmusicmusic for what feels like a very long time. And I know I will do music the rest of my life, but must I major in it in college? How will I make it my sole career if I can’t even have ONE favorite hobby, but a three-way tie between music, writing, and German?

I’ve just blown my own mind wide open. Now I am at a loss for what to do. I know what I want to do outside of school – music and writing – and I know that one doesn’t always use what they studied in school for their career, and I also know that musicians need not study music in college to be a musician (because music isn’t academic). Now I am pondering.

I’ve known, at the back of my mind, that I will always be a writer somehow, whether by hobby or by profession. It is a strong hobby I have, but it is also more than that. I always return to writing. I feel that I am best expressed through written words. I gather my thoughts better and ideas come more naturally when I am looking at them. Look at the stats:

  • I’ve always enjoyed reading.
  • I’ve always been a good speller and good with grammar.
  • I’m shy, but I write a mean paragraph.
  • I’ve always been more confident in my writing than anything else.
  • I journal almost every night to get my mind loose for sleep.
  • I write lists every day.
  • I wrote letters to Santa, etc. instead of staying awake to meet them.
  • I blog. (duh.)
  • I still write letters to my friend in another school that I met during my first year of swimming.
  • I read. As much as I can.
  • I also compulsively buy books.
  • I truly believe in the power of a story. It is the best vessel for a message.

And add those to miscellaneous facts about me:

  • I have played an instrument for almost as long as I’ve written (since third grade)
  • I pay attention to the music in movies and TV
  • I love music.
  • I always wonder during films and TV, “I wonder how they shot that scene?” or “do actors actually drink alcohol in movies, or do they replace it with water/juice?” or “what if the actor doesn’t smoke but the role he/she plays does?” or “was that as awkward as I imagine it was?”
  • I’ve always been amazed by people who can really act. It is intriguing. Most especially since I cannot, for the life of me, act at all.

Love of writing + love of music + love of a good story + intrigue in acting = TV and Film?

As you can see, I have, indeed, blown my own mind. I hope to get the pieces picked up before the New Year rolls around, but I have uncovered so many things I could do in college and beyond, based on my talents and interests, and that leaves me free-falling at the moment about the immediate future. What should I do now?

I know I don’t want to let go of music, or writing, or German, or creativity, but how will all of them come together? How can I combine those loves of mine to suit a career?

When I figure that out, I’ll let you know. But for right now, I will be on the lookout for solutions.

In the meantime, here is what I resolve to do in the coming year:

Take risks. I want to seize opportunities and harbor no regrets. I want to feel exhilarated every time I come home from school. I want to want to write all my adventures down in this here blog so you all can marvel at how cool I am. Will that always happen? No. Not every day will be fantastic. But I can make most of the fantastic. Or, better yet, I can make them extraordinary.

Since resolutions and goals are strongest when specific, I will set a numerical value to my resolution.

7.

Some say it’s the luckiest number. (I think.) Either way, I was going to choose 5, but realized I don’t quite like 5 all that much, and my favorite number, 9, might be too many, so 7 it is! I’m sure that this won’t interfere with my 20 before 20 because taking good risks will fall under #19 Get more confident and #20 Do some spontaneous stuff.

from Dictionary.com

from Dictionary.com

Dictionary.com defines risk as the “chance of loss” and “probability of such loss” and “may lose” and “type of loss”…But this year, I will reinvent the definition of risk. It will be the chance to gain. Because if I feel that heart-pounding, brain-twisting, energy-crackling desire to try something, I know I will have nothing to lose but an opportunity. I will just be risking a gain. When a risk is good (and I’ve taken only a couple of those risks – I am too too nervous to risk “losing” anything) it feels thrilling. It is relieving to an indecisive individual like me when a quick, risky decision turned out all right.

Oh, and I also aim to post weekly. These extended absences are getting absurd.

Have an extraordinary New Year.

(hope you survived this monster post :D )

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