Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!!!

For the past few weeks in English, our class had a B.R.A.W.L. as a way to connect to the global conversation. What is a B.R.A.W.L. you ask? Well, a B.R.A.W.L., found here on Mr. Theriault’s blog, stands for Battle Royal All Will Learn where students learn how to develop their own discussion questions and then prepare and answer those questions in front of the class in hopes of beating the other team. This is similar to a socratic seminar, but not quite. It is far more intense like a debate, but more laid back and less refined as there’s no right or wrong answer. Continue reading

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From the Heart

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If you were to ask me nine months ago if I would ever have a blog, I’d laugh at your comment and simply walk away. Little did I know that blogging would be so fun and different from what I had expected it to be. Sure, coming up with an idea and writing it down in one sitting isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but I’ve learned to adjust to it and actually enjoy it more than shopping and drawing combined. In a span of nine months, or an entire school year, I have learned so much from blogging than I ever could have in a thousand-paged textbook.

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Patience, My Dear

Patience truly IS the best virtue. As Aristotle once said, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” It defines a person, patience is the ultimate test of life. This virtue is timeless, and is dependent on oneself. It is universal, it is boundless. What limits patience is how one sees it as, as a good virtue or a bad one. One can choose to wait to enjoy life’s rewards, or choose to waste precious rewards. Sure waiting forever isn’t exactly the best way to waste precious time, but in the end, the rewards are better and totally worth it. After all, good things come to those that wait.

A Cluster of Ideas

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For most of our short lives on this beautiful earth, we are waiting for something. Waiting in line for movie tickets, AP test scores, that one cute person from second period to reply, etc. You’d think after knowing that waiting is such an important element of life, people would be more patient. That’s not true at all.

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The Importance of Imagination

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As a child, I never really considered how important imagination was until now. It’s a childhood profession, it comes naturally. I remembered playing for hours with nothing but myself, the surrounding area, and my growing imagination. I was the young heroine who saved the world countless times, a princess of the secret kingdom of fairies, the astronaut who explored the vast universe, even the crazy inventor who made the first hovercraft. Whatever we wanted to be or do, we did it. We had complete control of the world within our heads. Continue reading

To be Immortal

“Immortality. We all want to be remembered: We want to do things that will make people say, ‘Isn’t he wonderful?'”

The Fountain of Youth. Just one sip of the precious liquid will grant the drinker eternal mortality, immortality. The ability to be young and pretty forever, to never have to worry about premature aging, to always have tons of time to do whatever; it is the epitome of one’s existence. Many eons ago, man has been trying to achieve this mystical phenomenon and has miserably failed. The “Fountain of Youth” does exist, just not in the typical “deep in the subtropical rainforests of South America” corner of the world, and believe it or not, it’s right under our noses.

“People are more intrigued by the story of looking and not finding than they are by the idea that the fountain might be somewhere”

Explorers and scientists alike have been searching for the Fountain of Youth for generations and have not found it with any success. Some have given the grueling search with little to no progression and claim that the magical spring was just another child’s tale that never existed, said that it was lost forever due to human industrialization and expansion. The thing is, however, is that they have the wrong mindset of what the Fountain of Youth truly is, and look for it in the wrong places. Beyond the perception that it’s merely a tiny little spring out in the middle of uninhabited wilderness, the Fountain of Youth is your legacy―your life’s hard work paid off. In the highly competitive world today, we all strive to make a name for ourselves, whether it’s to be the best, the most hard-working, the generous, or the worst. Thus, the moment you make a name for yourself in the world, you will live forever. Yes, you will still age and die sooner or later, but after your death, all your accolades and blunders will live on and be remembered the moment your name is brought up. You had left a huge impact in the world and possibly rewrote history, and hence, you had taken a well-deserved sip from the Fountain of Youth. From that moment on, you’ll be remembered long after.

We all want to be remembered for something, whether it’s discovering cures for deadly diseases, winning a Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the most wealthy and successful person to ever exist, or simply beating the world record for eating the most burritos in a day. By the end of the day, we want our names to be engraved in everyone else’s mind, to have it on the tip of their tongue, and to hear it being passed around from gossiping lips to the keen and restless ears.  To be remembered for a long time is pretty much fulfilling the meaning of life. The Fountain of Youth has no specific location as it’s an object you cannot actually grasp between your hands, you have find it on your own. And when you do, you and your legacy will live on forever.

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Yours Truly,
Joanna

Once Upon a Dark, Dark Dream

I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream.

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The Scientific Tale of Two Dresses

The original image is in the middle. At left, white-balanced as if the dress is white and gold. At right, white-balanced to blue and black. (Photo Credit: Tumblr)

The original image is in the middle. At left, white-balanced as if the dress is white and gold. At right, white-balanced to blue and black. (Photo Credit: Tumblr)

Is it black and blue? Or is it white and gold?  Unless you live under a rock, chances are you know all about “The Dress” and its apparent magical color-changing abilities.  Celebrities are tweeting about it, couples are breaking up over it as color perception totally determines one’s compatibility with one another, and normal people are strangling their best friends, and this man got the dress tattooed on his leg in the midst of this apparently important debate of the year. Continue reading

What’s in a Name?

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Photo ©2009 by Emily Rose (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)  / added text from original

I love my name. If you were to ask me how I felt about my name back eight years ago, I’d tell you the complete opposite. At age seven, I hated my name. Hated it with a cold, hard passion. As a child, I constantly questioned why my name was Joanna. To me, It was hideous. The pronunciation of it was like the screeching sound chalk makes on the blackboard, my ears bled every time i heard it. Yep, Joanna “is” a great name. A great six-letter, three-syllable, commonly mispronounced name that rhymes with banana. I swear, for most of my life, I had many of my friends AND teachers who called me “Joanna Banana” every time they saw me.  They STILL do. It was and still is annoying as ever. My seven year-old self dreamt of having the name Jessica, Allison, Lydia, Kylie, Jennifer, Vanessa, Kendall, Arden, Emma, or Kate; just ANYTHING but Joanna.  Even Hermione, I wouldn’t mind being named after one of most amazing characters ever known.  Of all the names in the world, why Joanna? No one else had my name, and that just made me ever more unpopular in school as no one remembered me due to my “unique” name.

Scenario: (may or may not be exaggerated to some extent)

Classmate: Hi! My name is _______. What’s your’s?

Me: My name is Joanna. Nice to meet you.

Classmate: You have a really weird name. I never heard of it.

Me: Well do you want to go play on the swings with me?

Classmate: Nah. I’m gonna go play in the sandbox with Sandra. Bye…Janice.

Me:…Bye.

The Next Day…

Classmate: Hi! My name is _______. What’s your’s?

Me: …My name is Joanna. Nice to meet you.

Classmate: You have a really weird name. I never heard of it.

Me:…Bye.

Well, that girl. We obviously never became friends. I don’t even recall her presence after the incident.  Nonetheless, I still hated my name with much resentment. It wasn’t until middle school when it hit me and when I realize the beauty of a name. In class, there were so many Michelles, Katies, Katherines, Sophies, Jacobs, Kevins, and Brandons, and it constantly became irritating whenever someone asked for a Michelle when there were like five of them. Two of them had the same last time, and everyone soon lost track of who was who. Throughout the whole school, there were only two Joannas. As a result, most people remembered who we were, as there were only two of us. It was then when I appreciated my name. It was different, yet it made me me. I wasn’t another Emma of thousands, I was a Joanna. It was long, but the sound of it on my tongue is like music to my ears. Even, if the the teachers mispronounced my name, long gone were the grimaces and glares. Instead, replaced with smiles and politeness.

A name is more than an identity. It’s a origin, a brand, and a marker of success. Be happy and embrace your name like it’s a superpower. After all, it makes you YOU.

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Photo ©2011 by Alan O’Rourke (CC BY 2.0)

Yours Truly,

Joanna

The Stars at a Glance

Summer nights were the best. They still are. The whimsical ballad of the cricket, the gentle caress of a breeze, the luminous pavement bathed in moonlight below my window, the clear night sky like a black canvas with intricate designs and patterns strewn across the surface—all things that remind me of home. Of life. As a child, I have always found it breathtaking to look at the star-studded night sky; constantly sneaking out of bed just to have a quick glance, naming all of  the constellations I knew by heart.

It was an impressive experience every time, to have a clear glimpse of the night sky beyond the clouds and the glaring lights of the city. Looking at the stars have always made me wonder if the skies were always like this—this elaborate. This magnificent. The stars have always provided another outlet for me, one where hopes and dreams were assured of rather than deliberately crushed. Crushed by the cold, brutal phenomenon known as reality. Let’s face it. Reality hurts. We will never be able to live up to our expectations, and reality just seems to crash down on us.

Ever since my freshman year, I had no time for anything anymore. For two gruelling semesters, I followed the uninterrupted cycle of juggling homework, quizzes, exams, projects, and five-page essays with my “supposedly existent” life.  I barely had time to hang out with those I loved. I had to study for two exams while writing a four-page essay for English in order to fulfil the mantra of success and happiness in life through education. Work hard, then harder. No pain, no gain. Eventually, I grew distant from many of my friends, even my parents. So thus, I threw away my life and plowed through my studies like a good student should. As a result of my constant studying, I got straight A’s, stayed at the top of most, if not all, of my classes, and kept my six-year 4.0 GPA streak going. My parents praised me like they always had for the past six years while my “friends” congratulated me with strained smiles and hidden glares.

As the report cards and praises, both genuine and fake, became a constant everyday matter I dealt with, I soon quickly lost the interest of getting good grades. Getting an “A” on a test wasn’t the same anymore. It was just another sheet of paper with my name and red ink scrawled all over it. However, I still studied and got good grades, it was the only thing I knew to do after throwing my life away in exchange for hopes of a fortuitous life in later years to come.

One night in May, while I was burning the midnight oil to study for a Biology exam, windows open and AC/DC’s “Back in Black” blaring in the background, my lamp burned out. This was completely frustrating as I had just opened the textbook to start studying. As I stood up from my seat to replace the lamp’s light bulb, I noticed the moonlight flooding into my room through the open window. The moonlight was painting the carpet, bleaching the walls, and reflecting off the giant mirror—all setting the entire room in an eerie glow. Hidden memories of my childhood instantly flashed through my eyes as I rushed to the window. I looked up into midnight sky and saw the familiar faces of my childhood from above.

I quickly pointed out the constellations of Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, and Cygnus, as they were my some of my favorite constellations. As I looked onward, I found Cassiopeia, Boötes, Hercules, Scorpius, Lyra, Sagittarius, and Draco.

Not this Draco.

I had so much fun in finding the summer constellations of the Northern Hemisphere that I forgot that it was getting late and that there was no way that I would be able to study. Content with myself, I decided to wing the test and go to bed, hoping that last-minute studying in class tomorrow would help in any way. The next day, I had gotten a B- on the exam. My parents were quite upset and my “friends” shrugged their shoulders, but you could see their smiles behind their frowns. One might think that I was upset, but on the contrary, I was pretty happy—whether it was an “A” or a “B”. Besides, by the end of my freshman year, I had the highest grade in my Biology class and got a 4.2 GPA, why should I fuss about that B-? After that incident with the stars, I realized that was more to life than just studying, that success and happiness did not just result from school. There are other ways to achieve success and happiness through other means. A few days later, I left my group of “friends” and made some new ones instead. I started to go out more and reestablished connections with my family. I had more fun and less stress. I got my life back. I finally did. Thanks to the stars. To my childhood.

We focus way too much on the things that are unnecessary, such as school, social media, and pressures our friends and family put onto us. We should just be letting go and enjoying whatever life occasionally throws at us. Life is simple, only you make it elaborate. If you have trouble in letting go: simply look at the stars. Remember your childhood days.

Yours Truly,

Joanna

The Fear of One’s Self

Between you and me, there is a lot in common between the two of us than you would think. For example, we’re both humans, we cannot live without our daily caffeine intake, and we love our weekends (and Netflix) way too much. However, we also share another thing in common, something far more complex than our likes and dislikes. This “thing” is something we usually don’t acknowledge at times: a fear of not being special. Continue reading