My Obsessions

I would like to begin by sincerely thanking my friends who have listened to me yap at them for hours upon hours about how they need to join me in making shuriken out of CDs and animals out of balloons. I would like to thank my family for putting up with me explaining how I planned to conquer the next computer game level or telling them, in detail, the plot of my new favorite show’s latest episode.  I would also like to thank anyone who has successfully redirected a conversation with me away from my current obsession. You, sir, have immense skill and patience.  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t obsessed with something. I’ve decided that, if it’s possible, I’m going to compile a list of everything I’ve ever obsessed over, ever:

Ages 0-5

Teletubbies–I loved them. I remember telling my dad that he couldn’t take me to preschool until the morning’s episode’s credits were finished rolling. Po was very important to me.

Hula Hoop–I got a yellow plastic hula hoop for my fifth birthday, and I had to conquer this art form. My parents were required to evaluate the progress of my hula-ing skill by clapping one to 10 times to indicate the success of my last attempt. This obsession served me well in field day hula hooping competitions. I never lost.

puzzles–Fitting together scenes from The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians and Chicken Run occupied much of my time as a five year old. Sometimes, I would accidentally stay up all night, tiling my floor with jigsaw cardboard. I wasn’t interested in anything over 50 pieces though because that’s ridiculous.

Survivor–My parents were also obsessed, but I was a tad bit over the top. I was pretty much in love with Jeff Probst.

101 Dalmatians–I owned like 30 miniature figures from this movie. I colored their heads with crayon to make tribal buffs, and then I made them play Survivor.

Ages 6-10

Dogs–After my parents secretly got rid of my two Yorkies when I was six, I wanted another dog. When they refused, I wrote them a strongly worded, poorly spelled letter about how I would never think about dogs ever again because I would never ever get one, and that was all my parents’ fault.

Bug-Catching

Freddi Fish computer games–these were the best. After I coerced my parents into purchasing the latest adventure episode, I would spend my every waking hour developing strategies for proving that Luther’s uncle Blenny didn’t steal the Founder’s Day Festival’s conch shell. I was only allowed to play on the computer for 30 minutes a day, so I had plenty of time to divulge my strategies’ mechanics to my parents during the other 23 hours and 30 minutes.

Crickets

Kim Possible–Kim Possible was at 3:30 p.m. every week day. I watched religiously, and I played the online games, which are actually still really fun.

Barbie Pet Rescue–This was my favorite computer game in which you rescued kitties, turtles and puppies from barns, wells and playgrounds. There are no competitors in that field really.

Fairies–most of my life has been spent hating girly stereotypes, but for the week in which my mom decorated my bedroom, I loved glitter and pixie dust. I lived in a room covered with my brief lapse of judgement for three, long years.

Hermit crabs

Leprechauns–I totally didn’t believe in them until my kindergarten teacher showed us little leprechaun clothes in her little leprechaun traps, proving that she’d almost caught one. I constructed an entire house out of building blocks, furnished with tiny chairs and tables for the magic creatures to stay. I cut out tiny photos for them to look at while they ate the plate of cheerios I put on the tiny table, and I was sorely disappointed when I didn’t have nearly as much success as Ms. Johnson.

Club Penguin–My accounts on Club Penguin were short-lived because I was a bit of a troll. I would make fun of members for paying money to play a computer game, serenade other penguins and then switch worlds without saying goodbye, and cleverly work around the safe chat restrictions to insult my fellow flightless birds. Moderators could ban access to my accounts, but they couldn’t ban my swag.

RuneScape–RuneScape was freaking awesome, but one time my dad walked in while I was mercilessly slaying an ogre, and he decided that it was too violent for a 10 year old.

The Suite Life of Zach and Cody–if you weren’t obsessed with this show, then you weren’t living.

Ages 11-15

Warriors–These are some good books about cats that live in clans and kill each other sometimes.

Rhett and Link

Anime–I wasn’t obsessed with reading manga, but I spent way too much time drawing characters in the Anime and Chibi styles.

Duct tape wallets

KoreanI was obsessed with Korean because this guy in my class in seventh grade was from South Korea, and I thought his culture was intriguing.

reading

walking my cat on a leash–I dreamed of strutting down the sidewalk with my loyal feline trotting at my side, but my efforts were fruitless because my cat is terrified of the world beyond her front door. The second I got her outside, she would wiggle out of the harness and run to the screen door, meowing pitifully for someone to rescue her from my antics.

Basketball

unicycling, juggling and making balloon animals–Apparently in eighth grade, I aspired to become a clown in a crappy circus or something.

Monk

Sepak Takraw–As far as I know, this sport is exclusively played in Asian countries. I can only describe it as volleyball with feet. This obsession didn’t last long because I’m not remotely coordinated enough to even try to play the game.

Cake Boss

origami–I still fold occasionally, but I used to do it exclusively. In class, after school, before school, during lunch, anytime was crane folding time.

Psych

Rubik’s cube–I can solve 2/3 of a Rubik’s cube because of a three week period in eighth grade. I am also the proud owner of a speed cube, a 3×1 cube and a key-chain cube.

America’s Got Talent

CD Shuriken–Pretty sure that I’m the reason Veritas Christian School specifically bans throwing stars in their handbook. I would cut blank CDs into sharply-pointed stars, tape pushpins on the ends of the points and then throw my creations at people, inanimate objects and wild animals.

Britain’s Got Talent

Gerbils–check out my blog entry My Gerbil Farm if you want to know how that worked out.

Australia’s Got Talent

Hemp bracelet making–yes, I have always been a hipster.

Spinning a basketball on my finger

Age 16

Getting a dog–If anyone wondered, Maltese are the best small dog breed. I know because I spent three months researching them and saving to buy one. I scrapped my plan 20 library books and $500 saved later because I realized I don’t have time to take care of a dog, and I’m going to go to college without my pets in two years anyway.

newspaper–I spend way too much time editing stories, writing stories and working on the online paper. I need to get a life.

Doctor Who and Sherlock–Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are the most brilliant television writers ever, and that is all I have to say on the matter.

Pennyboarding–it’s better than skateboarding.

Reading classics–I got 23 classic novels from a retired librarian’s garage sale, and I have made it my personal mission to read them all before I graduate high school.

Gluten-free–two months ago, I joined the ever-widening ranks of the gluten-free hipster army.

My list could probably keep going, but I realize now that I don’t have time to write down all of my obsessions. I think everyone gets the point: I don’t have a life, and I never have had one. I’m completely okay with that.

I’ve never been grounded, and other advantages of a socially awkward childhood

English is my best subject because when I was little, books were pretty much my only friends. I remember getting excited to go to the library starting in 2nd or 3rd grade so I could checkout my weekend plans. I would begin with a pile of Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Nancy Drew and A Series of Unfortunate Events on my left, and by the end of the day, I would have moved the entire 10-15 book pile one by one to my other side as I completed their 150-300 pages of comfort.  My parents were worried that I wasn’t socializing enough, but in my mind, I had already spent five full school days with my colleagues, and Saturday was my time to be alone. (see Research Shows That I Am Almost Autistic)

I am the one on the far left. I was only person who refused to participate in this dress up tea party.

I am the one on the far left. I was only person who refused to participate in this dress up tea party. I have a profound aptitude for making situations awkward.

I never invited friends over to my house of my own accord until high school. When I asked if someone could come hang out during my freshman year, my mom thought I was joking. It wasn’t that I didn’t like having people around. I liked talking and chilling with people at school, sport practices and at church.  To be honest, I just found the whole “play date” thing to be too much work. Yeah, I wanted my friend to come over and watch Even Stevens with me, but I didn’t want to figure out when my friend didn’t have piano lessons the same day I didn’t have gymnastics. It was much easier to just interact with others during my scheduled activities during the day, and interact with my favorite series’ protagonists at night. The only time I actually invited people over was when my mom decided I needed to have someone over. I was really good at making acquaintances.

After I decided to engage more in the world around me at the age of 14, my parents were excited and optimistic. Several awesome benefits exist to breaking out of a 14 year awkward stage:

1. I have never been grounded. Part of the reason my parents don’t ground me is because they don’t want to discourage me from interacting with other people. Also, when I was younger, being grounded wasn’t much of a punishment. My parents don’t feel right taking my books away, so when I do something contrary to the rules, they just talk to me for a long time about how disappointed they are, which is quite effective because it makes me feel really bad.

2. My parents are very open to letting me have large numbers of people over on a whim. Last year, I invited the entire freshman/sophomore basketball team over for a sleepover later that day. My parents were totally chill about it. They were slightly less okay with the patchwork quilt of Cheetos, chocolate chip cookies and empty pizza boxes that covered the basement floor the next day, but they didn’t object to letting 16 teenage girls into their house for an extended period of time in the first place.

3. I can read pretty fast and comprehend what’s happening. This isn’t so much a benefit of social awkwardness, but an absolute necessity. When I had 15 books to get through during a weekend in elementary, I learned to enjoy speed reading. I still like to read quickly. Some argue that they don’t like to rush through a good book, but the way I look at it, the faster you read, the more books you have time to enjoy.

This is me on the first day of kindergarten. I'm the blonde one.

This is me on the first day of kindergarten. I’m the blonde one.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend avoiding social interaction for long periods of time to lessen parental restrictions and increase reading proficiency. I’m really glad that I grew out of my introversion because usually, older people who don’t socialize live alone in caves and have scraggly beards. I don’t want to live alone in a cave and have a scraggly beard. When I started my freshman year, I decided to forge closer friendships with more people and not just stay cooped up in my room.  I went from a small private school with 10 classmates to a 6A public high school with 400. So many people go to my school that it isn’t as difficult as it was in junior high to find a group of individuals with interests and feelings similar to my own.  I obviously haven’t completely left my younger self behind; however, because I always write my blog posts on Friday nights or Saturday afternoons.

A Typical Day

5:30 a.m: My iPhone alarm “Piano Riff” blasts its way into my dreams.

5:31 a.m: I blindly bat at my nightstand in an attempt to make the reality of waking up at 5:31 a.m. go away.

5:32 a.m: My iPhone alarm “Opening” tries a different approach at awakening me from my slumber.

5:33 a.m: I successfully turn my alarms off, half awake with my eyes closed, thanks to my numerous years of practice avoiding real life.

6:24 a.m: My dad stomps into my room on his way to feed the family cat and asks me if I’m planning on attending school today.

6:33 a.m: I roll out of bed in a state of panic because I was planning on waking up early to do my zero hour AP US History homework.

6:35 a.m: I run into my bathroom and shift my focus away from founding fathers and their personal convictions about the Constitution, to my face and its “just got ran over by a train” appearance.

6:37 a.m: After lathering my face in concealer, I begin to get dressed, and I realize I’m not comfortable enough with my butt to wear the leggings I’d laid out the night before, so I throw on a semi-dirty pair of jeans…again.

6:40 a.m: My dad yells that he won’t take me to school if I don’t hurry up, and I regret not having my own transportation.

6:41 a.m: As I grab an entire package of white cheddar rice cakes out of the pantry as substitute for the lunch I forgot to put together, my mom makes a casual remark about how I should have done something with my hair, but then she quickly says it looks fine after I start to head downstairs to throw it in a bun, so I just don’t do anything with it.

6:50 a.m: My dad drops me off at the front of the school, and I time my entry perfectly so no one will see me and notice that I am the only junior whose parents still take them to school.

7 a.m: I walk into class seconds after the bell resonates through the hallways and pray to god that my teacher doesn’t collect the homework I didn’t do.

7:15 a.m: I BS my way through the class discussion, and my teacher is “very impressed” with my “knowledge” about anti federalists.

8 a.m: I go to Karen Campbell‘s locker, and we cry because the Jonas brothers cancelled their tour.

8:05 – 10:55 a.m: I settle into a rhythm of pretending I know what’s going on in my classes.

10:56 a.m: I walk into AP Calculus AB, and I feel like a dementor just ate my soul.

11:27 a.m: I begin counting down the seconds until lunch.

11:47 a.m: 1200 seconds later, I go to lunch

11:52 a.m: I decide to not actually go to lunch, and I spend my lunch period hanging out with the fifth hour newspaper class.

12:17 p.m: I hole punch handouts, grade multiple choice exams and wash transparencies as a teacher’s aide.

12:21 p.m: I finish my aiding duties and go back to the newspaper room.

1:13 p.m: Sixth hour newspaper begins, and I copy edit the hell out of stories, avoiding my actual editorial responsibilities as an online EIC.

2:09 p.m: My classes end for the day.

2;09 – 3:30 p.m: I aimlessly wander the building and do a teeny bit of homework

3:30 – 5:30 p.m: I dissolve any doubt anyone had about my absolute lack of mathematical abilities at math tutoring.

5:45 p.m: My dad picks me up.

6 – 6:25 p.m: I try to do something physically active so I don’t turn into a marshmallow.

6:30 p.m – 10:30 p.m: I alternate between staring at a textbook to scrolling through my Twitter, Vine, Instagram and Facebook feeds to eating ludicrous amounts of food.

10:31-11:25 p.m: I Google “how to stop procrastinating,” “What should I do with my life” and “do Christians believe that Adam and Eve had belly buttons.”

11:30 p.m: I get ready for bed, decide to try leggings again tomorrow, set five alarms and lie to myself that I’ll finish my homework in the morning.

11:31 -11:45 p.m: I’m wide awake, so I tweet about my insomnia because I’m sure that will help.

In the Corner of Calc Class, Losing My Perfectionism

One day last fall, my pre-calc teacher decided to deviate from her lesson plan and ask us about our career goals, assuming that she would be able to relate all of them back to math.  She told my class to raise their hand if one of the career paths she listed was what they wanted to pursue.  After she asked who wanted to be an architect, an engineer or a math teacher, I was the only person in the room who hadn’t raised their hand.  Glaring at me, she asked me that ancient question to which adolescents must always have an answer:

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“I want to produce my own TV show or write movie scripts,” I responded. (Good luck relating that to calculus)

“Hmmm,” she said, trying to link my type B aspirations to her type A occupation. Then, just when I thought I had stumped her, she generated a zinger worthy of being delivered to such a disgrace to humanity as myself. “Well, there is a technical side to television, so at least you’ll be working with smart people.”

After my pre-calculus teacher insulted my intelligence in front of 30 of my peers that day, I decided to prove her wrong. Obviously, I wasn’t bad at math. Sure, I had a B, but I just must not have been trying hard enough …  Yeah. That was it. I just wasn’t applying myself as much as I should have been. And so, I began applying myself and applying myself and applying myself, and it didn’t work. I ended the semester with my very first B of my entire school career. I immediately blamed my teacher. The next semester, I got another B in the class with a different teacher, and I blamed that teacher too.  Honestly, I think crediting my teachers with causing me to do poorly in pre-calculus last year isn’t completely ridiculous. I eventually quit coming in for help after school because my teachers both first and second semester were incredibly condescending when I didn’t understand or remember what they deemed “basic” ideas or “stuff you should have learned in Algebra 1.”  I had to struggle through the class on my own, and all the while, their comic sans font power points mocked my tribulations.

Fast forward past my summer spent studying for ACT and SAT math sections, and I’m in AP Calculus AB. I got a D on the first quiz of the year. I got a B- on my first test. I got a C- on my second test. Ninety percent of my grade in Calculus is tests. I can’t blame my teacher. When I go to math tutoring after school on Mondays and Tuesdays, she is willing to walk me through the “simple” algebra that I need for calculus and then the calculus after I sort of “master” the “easy” stuff.

For the first time in my life, I’ve been forced to face the fact that even though I study hard and get extra help, I still can’t do well in math. It’s a weird feeling. I don’t think that I’m particularly smart, but I really used to believe that if I gave 100 percent effort, I could turn out at least an A-, regardless of the class. I was a perfectionist. Actually, I still am a perfectionist. Every B, C and D that I receive in Calculus is a swift, hard backhanded face smack to my self worth, but I’m slowly learning to accept my inadequacies. Even though my friends remind me that the calc test on Friday will be “easy,” and even though I can skate by in AP US History, Advanced American Literature, Spanish 3 and AP Environmental Science, I know that my brain literally isn’t capable of processing derivatives and limits. Gradually, I am learning to accept this recent epiphany. I have resolved to continue giving 100 percent and stop beating myself up about the outcome.