Saturday, February 26, 2011

Save Me, Nancy Drew

Despite numerous attempts to accomplish something fun - like, for instance, write a blogpost - certain things keep getting in the way. And when it comes to crossing rivers on the road to doing something interesting with my free time, it seems that school is around the width of el Rio de la Plata.

Of course, school has always been a problem of mine (regardless of the fact that I actually enjoy learning, I hate having such a limited spectrum of knowledge to pursue). Addition, for instance, got in the way of the Magic Treehouse. The Butterfly's cycle of life obstructed my pursuit of the My Side of the Mountian series. The capitols of the United States refused to budge for the Chronicles of Narnia (and while the capitols have, in the majority, passed from my memory, I can still name every title in the Narnia series, unlike most people). Even school book reports and reading logs manage to turn wonderful books into terrible ones, and terrible ones into horrendous ones. I understand that sometimes you have to force vegetables into the mouth of a stubborn child, but overfeeding a willing and hungry mouth with broccoli, string beans, and kale is plain unforgivable. Seldom do I actually enjoy school assignments.

However, research papers and presentations present a totally opposite viewpoint. These are the kind of projects I set out on, and accomplish, without giving grades a thought. The ones who inspire such passion as to dull the pain of the lowest of marks. However, this power remains useless, seeing as though the enthusiasm that springs forth also brings forth highest-quality work from me. And now, in AP English, we have embarked upon writing a research paper. I am in near constant contentment (only "near constant", because the teacher continues to give out useless assignments while we are supposed to be doing our research, which doesn't help at all).

Anyhow, the assignment is to find an issue, fitting any spectrum of interest, and make an argument out of it (for example, three of the students in my AP Eng. class have been inspired by recent weather-related 2 hour delays, to promote the idea of later school starts for high schoolers). While the majority of my classmates have decided to follow more contemporary issues, such as stem cell research, or recent political decisions, I was set upon pursuing something lying more in the realms of MY interest, than the TEACHER'S. My inspiration was called forth by a recent debate with a friend, after which, I have made it my duty, and my thesis, to prove that Nancy Drew has positively affected women, throughout the decades, since her first publication. So many powerful women credit the intrepid teenage sleuth as the inspiration for their life choices, as proof that they could do something better with their lives than society originally allowed. I would think it ridiculous not to immediately connect Nancy Drew to Women's Empowerment. However, some would disagree, saying that all Nancy inspired women to be were consumers, and the fact that she was still dependent on men made her weak, and whatever. My research paper is the argument that they are wrong, and that Nancy is amazing (which, honestly, isn't much of an argument, in my opinion).

(Quick note: Even if I didn't choose to follow one of my favorite topics, namely children's literature, I would still chosen a topic outside of the realms of most popular acceptance. I.e., another possible topic was whether aliens actually exist, or not; or whether theme parks are worth the strain they put on the environment).

So, I haven't been posting mainly because I've been spending all my reading time going through my project sources. :)

Wish me luck on my research paper!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Finally, I Speak

I don't believe I fully comprehended the complete neglect I have inflicted on this blog until now: I have not written in almost a month! How terrible. For shame.

However, I cannot fully mourn how I spent the past few weeks, seeing as though they were definitely not misused: Prep for Finals, Finals, Recovery from Finals. Only recently has my heart fully began to beat at it's regular pace again. The only thing I mourn, the only true blemish of this absence from the blog, also forms a blemish on my Transcript; yes, my perfect sea of As is now polluted by a (probably justly deserved, though none the less depressing) B+, dropping my Cumulative GPA to a 3.979. However, I must move on, soldiering forth. I'm sure I'll make it through, permitting my continued adventures in the next three semesters of High School do not permit it to drop any further. At which point I can say nothing of what will happen to me.

Anywho, the rapidity with which I usually read books was seriously impeded not only by the enormous stress under which I was reading, but also due to the very books I was reading.

The first, The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath, proved no hurdle at all. I obsessed over the book to the point of reading it once (the first time I had ever read it) in three hours, and then spending two additional days going over it again, just to be sure of it's amazing nature. I had a feeling that I would like it from the beginning, simply because of the way it was put into my path: Last year, I had been discussing with my mother the enormous pressure I was under, as a student, a perfectionist, and simply as someone who thought too much, and how I felt like I really was going crazy sometimes, due to all of the responsibilities I was juggling. She told me to read The Bell Jar. I'm not sure how much it speaks to my sanity, but I identified with the character of Esther Greenwood immensely, and much of her thinking was familiar to me: in one part, she described all of her life in front of her like an endless, daunting sidewalk, and she just had to take it one square at a time. It looked a terrifying distance now, but at the end of it, she laughed that she once thought it so long. Honestly, that imagery pretty much carried me through Finals.

The second book I read was what prevented me from immediately jumping back online once test scores were all boxed away. Time after time, it has proved unsurmountable; however, I was determined not to fail again. I had to accomplish it. Yes, indeed, after four instances of half-way completion, I finally buckled up, and choked down what I beleive is the second-to-most boring Jane Austen book in the author's entire canon: Emma. It is unbeleivable how, among the set of Austen friends at my school, universally disliked that particular novel is; to the point where the only novel that proved to be even less popular was Mansfield Park. Many times attempted, never accomplished, Emma, had my friends pleading for my retirement from the novel from the get-go. However, after about a week and a half, I did end up finishing it!

Partially, my enthusiasm stems from a long love of Austen; however, I have to confess that my adoration comes out of a less classical corner: the book's plot inspired the TOTALLY amazing 1995 movie, Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd (also known as, one of my Favorite Movies in the Entire Universe). If I loved Clueless, then I could most certainly tolerate Emma. The book, in my opinion, is still not one of Austen's best, but if I gained anything from reading it, it was a completely new appreciation of the movie. The big screen adaption actually does manage to stay relatively accurate, which is pretty cool, and I was easily able to draw correlations between the novel and it's media representation. Honestly, I'm not much of a fan of Gweneth Paltrow's portrayal of Emma, but Alicia Silverstone does a pretty darn accurate model of what she would have been like in the '90s.

[ To those who have NOT seen Clueless: when it comes to accuracy in a modern movie with a classical background, on a scale from Leo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet, to Amanda Bynes in She's the Man (based on Twelfth Night, no joke), the closest thing I can come up with is probably 10 Things I Hate About You (based on The Taming of the Shrew). And yes, I realize those were all Shakespeare, but they're the best examples I can come up with. ]

Anyways, I am now left with a lonely bookmark, and newfound self-assurance in my own powers of perserverance. I think I'll reward myself for overcoming both the obstacles of Finals Testing, and Emma, and watch a movie. :)