Tag Archive | life

Drive me sh*tless

driving“Please go wait in the car with the 700 license plate”. The words ring in my ears as I stand in front of one of the driving school’s bright blue Renault Clios, wondering what my instructor (let’s call her Ma’am) means by “in”. In the driver’s seat? The passenger’s seat? The trunk, that safe refuge where no one would find me? Surely she can’t mean the driver’s seat, we’re in the middle of town and I have no idea how to drive. Uncertainly, I hover around the passenger’s door until Ma’am rounds the corner of the building, grins sadistically at me and tells me that I’m on the wrong side of the car. Alright, I reason with myself, she may just want to show you how things work, she’ll be the one driving you to a parking lot where you can take you first few tentative tries in first gear.

“Take a right out of the driving school’s parking lot and then go around the traffic circle to the third exit.” WOAH WOAH WOAH LADY I don’t even know how to shift, and you’re throwing me into oncoming traffic? Do you have any idea how at risk your life is right now? Heart thumping, I breathe in sharply, say a prayer to the Great Cookie in the Sky and rev the car into first gear. Once I make it to first gear on the crowded street without stalling, I offer Ma’am a proud smile, but she’s having none of it. “Second gear.” My face twists with anguish as I try to remember the steps I learned on the driving simulator, which was more like Grand Theft Auto than anything you’d ever experience in real life. Now fully engaged in the traffic circle, the car groans, sputters and jolts when I shift, prompting a frown from Ma’am. Some douche in a Mercedes flips me off, whom Ma’am replies to with a slew of choice curse words yelled out the window.

The rest of the lesson continues in this fashion — me trying something, Ma’am lecturing me on the awful thing I just did and patting her car to make sure that it doesn’t have PTSD from the maneuver I just attempted. Frankly, after nearly taking out a horse-drawn carriage, a bike and a group of children, I’m the one who needs checking for PTSD. As I pull back into the driving school after two hours of trial and error, Ma’am finally relaxes. Her hands have left a damp mark on the seat that she was clutching, but she assures me that I did fine for my first day. She’s not particularly convincing, but I nod and offer her a quarter-smile, hoping my face doesn’t betray the immense fear I’m feeling.

Back in the safety of the passenger seat of my own car, I recount how I’m a natural at driving to my dad, who nods proudly and tells me he knew I would be. I don’t have the strength to tell him about the moment I was going 90 km/h and veered into the other lane, Ma’am only saving my life by grabbing the steering wheel and yanking the car away from the oncoming truck. I’ll disclose that particular incident later, preferably when he’s had a few drinks.

Ladies, gentlemen and aliens, I’m learning to drive. If I don’t ever post to TMCT again, you can all guess how I bit the dust.

Live long and prosper \V/
Yours sincerely,
The Mostly Confused Teenager.

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Music and Me

musicThe setting… CT’s horribly long and difficult math test:
“The distance in between two points in a plane is V(X2-X1)+(Y2-PRINCE ALI, MIGHTY IS HE-Y1). Crap, what’s the question again?”
The result of my best friend putting Prince Ali in my head right before a math exam… An F.
Ok so maybe I would have still gotten an F without having a extraordinarily repetitive song playing over and over again, turning  my cognitive functions (aaaaah, functions! They’re following me everywhere!) to mush, but the idea is there! Thanks Washington, love you tons. And no, I’m not criticizing the government (although I risked not getting my passport on time to go do a college tour in the States on Wednesday because you couldn’t get your shit together about Obamacare), I call my best friend Washington. Deal with it.

I started listening to music when I was a little girl and my parents would put on CDs of classical music during dinner. Yes, CDs! I feel so old. On special days we would get to listen to a jazz record, at which point my brother and I always got super excited and would run around the house as if we were on drugs. The unfortunate corollary of this jazz disk was the fact that we couldn’t actually sit still while we ate; we were obliged to dance around in our chairs, shouting the words to Ella Fitzgerald’s “Let’s do it” (um..) at the top of our lungs.

For a long time, jazz and classical were the only kinds of music that I knew. The only other novelty came from the numerous musicals that we watched after dinners on weekends (I know Annie’s Tomorrow by heart. HA. You don’t feel bad that I do and you don’t? Oh, well, I stand corrected). Then came the era of the boom box. When we got it for Christmas one year, it was like a gift from a higher power. It could play CDs, tapes and the radio. We were over the moon. and that’s how I got my introduction to pop music. Actually, the first song that we ever heard on the radio was a Lady Gaga song. Harmless, say you? Think again. It was one of her more… um… ribald pieces. I’ll let you imagine my mom’s face when we ran up to her, two little kids, and yelled “I WANNA TAKE A RIDE ON YOUR DISCO STICK”. Yeah, it was that bad. From then to basically today I have avoided talking about music with my parents.

Since that awkward time, I’ve branched out into other types of music. For a while I listened to only music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s because I had to supply it for my mom to sing to in the car. I have over three hours of Queen, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles (among others) on my phone, and I still listen to them fairly regularly. I’ve discovered the genius of Tom Lehrer, the awesomeness of Imagine Dragons and the Artic Monkeys, the catchiness (made up word alert!) of Coldplay and Green Day… And I can only hope that my horizons will keep expanding. Isn’t that a weird turn of phrase?

Music is something that lets me escape, transfer my thoughts to the song and/or melody instead of concentrating on the depressing details of my teenage life. This being said, I oftentimes find that a song is directly applicable to something that I’m going through. Ah yes, the “I am the centre of the Universe and everything is about me” syndrome. But nonetheless, if I’m feeling sad I may be unable to listen to a happy song and vice versa, it really all depends on my mood.
I sense that I’m hitting a writer’s wall here so I’ll stop while whatever shred of dignity I have left is still intact.

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

Maths and Me

Maths and I have never exactly been best friends. How can I put this…  I am to math as Tim Tebow is to the position of QB (another example: I am to math like Taylor Swift is to relationships.)

Yeah, it’s that rough. I mean I’ve never had a problem with it in in of itself until the 8th grade. My parents always made me learn the notions in advance so that I wouldn’t then have any problems in class; it’s sort of as if they predicted my future math problems 😉 In 8th grade I missed several months of school and when I came back I realized that math no longer came easily to me and that I actually had to work, hard, to understand the notions. And of course, as a naturally lazy person, I didn’t like having to work to achieve my goals.

Last year I changed schools to come to the EABJM, where I am now. I quickly realized (through miserably failing my first test) that the level of my supposedly good school was nothing compared to what I was encountering here. In France we have 3 sections, S, ES and L and quite basically the people who have an average of 8/20 in math are not supposed to do the scientific program. Unfortunately it’s the only way to become a doctor so I’m forcing myself through it. I am the reason why there are too many people in my section and class. Am I making any sense at all? Ugh, I’m soooo tired.

So now I’m taking private lessons with a teacher from the school and while I silently curse my old junior high for screwing up my mathematics education I nod and repeat what she tells me. Then, on Tuesday, I saw math in a whole new light thanks to her. I’ve always seen it as a very concrete thing: the numbers on the board, the formulas to follow religiously. Suddenly it dawned on me: all of this was invented! In Ancient Whatever some dude sat down and said “I decree that 2+2=4. Also, because I’m too bored to think of anything else, 2×2 also equals 4. Bam, mathematicianed.” They say you don’t have a lot of imagination if you practice math as a living (do they? Really CT?) but that’s in reality excrements of an uncircumsized male cow! Suddenly the numbers were jumping off the board in front of my eyes, dancing in perfect unison. It was magical. Of course when I recounted this to my best friend she asked if I was high, at which point I responded that I couldn’t remember, which probably wasn’t the best thing to answer.

I’m still struggling past the domain of algorithms but I hope that now it’ll get a little bit easier. [My inner voice is telling me to prepare myself for disappointment]. But hey, if math is hard, so is life. I’ll just have to deal accordingly.

I can’t help but think of how ironic this whole situation is, seeing as how my dad is a mathematician who’s official title is “director of numerical algorithms”. Huh, didn’t see that one coming did you? You did? Oh, well then.

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

PS: I haven’t posted in two days! Aaaaaaaaaah the daily blogging ritual is broken!

The French and School: a Match made in Hell

School is school. Now you might be thinking ‘geez, this one has a knack for stating the obvious’, but as the awesome Attempting Reality demonstrated, school can be very different depending on which country you’re in. And while Attempting Reality (who I love, check out her blog!) presented a more elogious description of her school, mine will be a bit more, let’s say, ranty.

There is one master key to French schools; and that is academics. Yes yes I know, academics are the key to most (I won’t say all, who knows, I might be wrong, though I find this to be unlikely) education systems, but the French, as they do with a lot of things, go over the top with it. On average, we have class from 8:30 to 4:30, although in my old junior high we went from 8 to 6. It was rough. I mean it doesn’t give you much time to enjoy life, and that’s what our teenage years are all about right? Like, YOLO people! Oh dear God, I may have just rendered my whole argument invalid by saying YOLO. And of course now I have the Lonely Island song stuck in my head. Anyway, back on topic. A study showed that we spend around 847 hours per year in school, as opposed to the 774  hours that constitute the European average. And yet our education system ranks far lower? Um, hello people? Wake up? Please, copy Finland, I beg of you.

Oh homework, I hate you so. There’s so much of you I can’t even keep up anymore. We’re supposed to spend a minimum of 4 hours a day on homework, and if you get out at 5, it gets difficult. Over the last school year (sophomore year) I pulled around 20 all-nighters, and on most nights didn’t go to bed until 2 am. It’s not healthy! Jobs after school are unheard of. And you can forget about extracurriculars, who has the time? We squeeze them in as bet as we can, after all there’s no getting into American college without ’em, but they’re a blow to the homework designated time. I should point out that none of these extracurricular activities are school operated, we have no football or baseball teams, no Friday night games, no Spring musicals. As far as french thinking goes, school is for intellectual studies only. This also means that there are no social gatherings like Homecoming or Winter Formal, much to this teenager’s sorrow (yeah, I’ve seen movies and read books. Everything happens at the dances). Quite basically, we’ve got no school spirit.

Now since we’re so focused on becoming corporate lawyers and Wall Street bankers, everything is fiercely competitive. We are ranked, cataloged, and watched closely for the duration of our scolarity, from the age of 6 ’til we’re done. And then comes the stupid part. At age 16, at the end of sophomore year, we are forced to make a life changing decision, one that will follow us for the rest of our careers. And really, once the choice is made, there’s no turning back. We have to choose in between 3 (I know, not a lot of choices) programs: S (scientific), ES (economic & social) and L (literature). They didn’t want to let me into S because I don’t have the grades in math, but I fought back hard. I want to study biology, not math! You can’t make me study economics when I’m going to become a doctor! The system is rigid and blind to individual needs, and that’s what makes it difficult to succeed. Apart from college counseling, which is particular to the EABJM, we get no guidance. You either shine or you fail. And you have to get your claws out (isn’t that a weird turn of phrase?) to get where you want.

Concerning the actual school system, we have only 3 years of high school that culminate in the grueling and infamous baccalaureate, or BAC for short. And contrarily to the american system, we don’t get to choose our classes. We have a core curriculum that we are given, so there’s no AP junk, mixing grades or anything. We move from classroom to classroom as a unit, never truly separated from each other. Since I go to an  international school, I’ll be taking the BAC OIB (with international option). Also, my school likes to torture its students by forcing a lot of tests on us: last year, the british IGCSE, next/this (oh gosh, it’s that time of year already!) year the american SAT and in ‘terminale’ the french BAC. We’re being prepared for ‘prepa’, which is a 2 year ordeal wherein you have no social life whatsoever, thus no development. All I can say is; college is the easy, more expensive way out for me, and it is going to be a breeze!

Now as much as I hate the french school system with all my might, I do love some aspects of my everyday school life. I love the exhiliarating feeling of flying towards the subway station in the morning, knowing that if I miss the next one I’ll be late. I love seeing my friends when I enter the classroom. I love grabbing some takeout chinese food and rushing to my friend’s house to watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother before classes begin for the afternoon. I love guessing what tie my Physics teacher will be wearing (Snoopy? M&M’s?). I love spending all of my money on Starbucks (seriously, 5 bucks for a Chai Tea? Come on Seattle, get your sh*t together) when the day is done. I love accompagnying my friends to their subway stop even though I then have a longer trip back. I love homewor- oh wait no I don’t, I’ve gone too far 😉

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

Losing, Winning, and Helping

What’s so important to us about sports, and personally, baseball? I’ve never really watched it before, mostly because I live in France and it’s on at 2 am here. I mean, I followed the scores, standings and such but apart from watching the occasional Mets tragedy with my dad, I never set out to sit through a whole 9 innings staring fixedly at a screen, willing Ike Davis’ ERA up a few notches (yeah I know, not so effective). And before I had someone to watch the games with me that late, I never really found the conviction to force my eyes to stay open and down enough comfort food so that that could happen (if my body isn’t exactly bikini ready, I blame baseball).

But starting, well, last year, it suddenly felt really important to actually watch the games live. Let me explain. In September of 2012, my sophomore year of high school, I changed schools so that my parents would be pleased (did I mention; ugh?) While I’d never felt academically challenged before, always top of my class, the EABJM posed new problems that I was utterly unprepared to deal with. See the EABJM is a bilingual school in Paris with an extraordinarily hard curriculum. Going into a place with all these genius kids made me feel, frankly, stupid. The things they deemed easy I struggled on for hours. I slowly sunk into a quiet depression. And so, in my despair, I turned to the thing I knew the best: baseball. It’s funny that a Mets fan would turn to them for comfort right? It’s also funny, no, let me rephrase that; ironically stupid, that a teenage girl in a difficult situation who needed as much sleep as she could get started watching games at 2 am (that is, when she wasn’t pulling all nighters).

But while I was floundering like a distressed child in a sea of future PhD candidates, so were the Mets. It’s a rather simple metaphor: the Mets are, well, me (involuntary shudder) and my classmates are every other team. Except maybe the Cubbies, Astros and Marlins.They just suck (sorry to all the fans out there, I know what it feels like to have my team continually suck, believe me). But what was important to me wasn’t that they were losing, it’s that they were there, unchanging, like I’d always known them to be. After a particularly hard day, which was, to be honest, everyday, I had a game to look forward to. Save off days, but you get my point.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: life is a social experiment. No matter how much you try to convince yourself that you’re the only thing that’s important and that you don’t need any other people, it’s not true. Smiling at someone’s accomplishment, jumping up and down ecstatically because the Mets walked off until your dad tells you to shut up and go to sleep (yeah, my dad values his snoozing time), those are the things that make life worth while for me.

And so, with a foolish grin on my face because we won, I’m going to sleep a happy, idiotic, crazy girl. Because when you get accustomed to losing, whether in sports or in life, a victory is just that much sweeter.

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

What would life be like if we had fur?

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I have two animals in my house; Cooper, a five year old golden retriever, whose full name is Cooperstown Hope, because we hoped he would be an amazing baseball player (turns out he’d rather lay on the ground and cuddle with the ball) and Lucy, a nine year old tabby (pictured) who was named after the character in Narnia. I was 6. Don’t judge me. Anyway, as I stare at Lucy stretched out on my bed and Cooper flopped on the ground like a mop, I can’t help but wonder, what would life be like if we had fur? Not like the thing coat of hairs we have now, but actual fur.

Unfortunately, I think first of the panting that possesses Cooper on hot days. Why can’t my mind be a little romantic once in a while? Our dog seems to perpetually be drooling and panting. Oh, I’m not painting a very nice picture am I. He’s a sweetheart and the most adorable dog ever. But if we humans went around drooling on everything because we couldn’t sweat out our pores? Ugh, no thank you.

Keeping clean would also be an issue. For one thing, we’d have to wash more often. For another, it would take a heck of a lot of time longer. And as a naturally lazy person, I object. Maybe we could lick ourselves. Like cats. No, no, that wouldn’t be good for kissing afterwards.

The upside would be that on cold days we wouldn’t get cold. No extra cloths equals no extra weight. Then again, humid fur…  not nice. Can you imagine being humid all day? Why, you’d have to carry a hair dryer around with you! And hair dryer equals extra weight. So once again, ugh.

After laying forth these points, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d rather not have fur at all. Oooh, but it would be so soft!

If you have an opinion on the matter or if I missed something, drop me a comment below 🙂

Live long and prosper \V/

Yours sincerely,

The Mostly Confused Teenager.

PS: I got the bedspread when I was little. I haven’t gotten another one. *bright smile*