Math Words

Late last night, I fell asleep cradling my AP Calculus AB prep book like a small animal or child. I awoke this morning with my calculator in front of my face and notebook paper crumpled at my side. I spent the hours between 9:30 a.m.-12:35 p.m. frantically attempting to re-memorize the Mean Value Theorem and the Intermediate Value Theorem  and the Extreme Value Theorem and all the other trivial nonsense that slipped in one ear and out the other at some point last semester.

This afternoon, I ran–with my calculator and No. 2 pencil in hand–through the pouring rain from my father’s car to the school’s entrance. When one of my classmates finally opened the locked door for me, together we took the long, solemn march to our inevitable doom: a three hour comprehensive final exam.

When I emerged from the school three hours later, the rain had stopped; the sun shone overhead. It was basically a metaphor for the day’s emotions. When I got in the car with my mother, she asked me how it went. Apparently the extended concentration had drained my cognitive abilities because my response was, “Umm, there were a lot of math words. Yeah. Lots and lots of … math words.”

But that exam and its preparation are worth it because, in exactly 10 days, I will never have to look at my stupid calc prep book again. I’ll take one more exam, and then have clearance to forget everything about derivatives I’ve ever learned, ever. I have fantasized all year about what horrible fate will befall my calculus notebook. I can’t decide whether to put the whole thing in my gerbils’ tank for them to slowly chew apart each individual page bit by bit or to fold a thousand origami swans out of it, make a mobile and set the creation afire in the wind.

For the last two years, calculus has been a thorn in my side, digging deeper into my flesh every time I try to position myself more comfortably. As the end of this dreary, math-infested tunnel looms ahead, I’ve decided to put aside my disdain for calculus and try to focus on all the positive experiences I’ve had during its tenure. Here are some quality moments:

1. Vectors. I don’t remember much about vectors from Pre-Calc except that they have “direction and magnitude.”  That doesn’t really seem important unless you’ve seen Despicable Me. When super nerd Victor changes his name to “Vector,” he does some sick pelvic thrusts in his orange track suit and declares that he has, “both direction and magnitude!”.  Shout out to Disney for the quality math pun. Shout out to my Pre-Calc student teacher for showing the clip from the movie in class. Shout out to me for enlightening some of you.

OH, YEAH! Math jokes.

OH, YEAH! Math jokes.

2. Limits. Again, movie references made calculus bearable. As if I didn’t respect Tina Fey enough already, she slipped some real math into Mean Girls.  The limit does not exist.



3. Retakes. I have retaken every test except one this year. Supposedly, no one is allowed to retake calculus exams, but I found a loophole: math tutoring. I spend several hours in the library at calc tutoring after school each week, struggling with the latest concepts and pretending not to cry. Even with extra help, I still perform on a subpar level when it comes time to demonstrate my knowledge on the exam. Ninety percent of the semester grade is based on tests, so subpar doesn’t really work for me. Fortunately, the calc teachers are willing to let students who try hard–and still fail miserably–give it another go (and another and another and another).

4. My table buddy. I’ve sat next to some really smart people who’ve helped me through derivatives and integrals and mental breakdowns. Right now, my genius Vietnamese friend sits in front of me and teaches me everything. He recently started watching Gossip Girl during class, though, so he’s been slightly less of a tutor and slightly more of an entertainer.

Those are the only positive moments I’ve had during my calculus career. For those of you keeping track at home, there are about 18 weeks in a semester, with an average of four class periods each week, and I’ve taken four semesters of calculus-related classes. This adds up to about one positive experience per every 72 classes. Hopefully AP Statistics will be more enjoyable. (That’s how much I hate calculus–I’m actually looking forward to taking Statistics.)


Oculus: Blind Movie Review

My mother needed convincing. I used some of my best, most thought-out arguments:

Karen Gillian, my hero.

Karen Gillan, my hero.

“Mom, I am 17-years-old. I can handle an R-rated movie.”

“Mom, Rotten Tomatoes says there’s hardly any sex and only mild language! Blood and guts ain’t got nuthin’ on me!”

“Mom, Karen Gillan is in it! … What do you mean, you don’t know who Karen Gillan is?! Amy Pond? Doctor Who?! That Scottish chick with red hair!? You don’t remember Karen?!! Mom, she played an integral part in my life the last few years! How could you not know who she is?! I want to support her. I need to support her.”

Finally, my mom conceded because I’m such a great convincer.

Later that day, I slipped out of the Good Friday church service at 7:35 p.m. and into the crowded theater at 7:51 p.m. I later apologized to Jesus.

When I proudly told the ticket lady that I wanted one student ticket to Oculus, she asked for my ID. I pulled it out of my handmade duct tape wallet, and the lady proceeded to look at it for a really long time, possibly due to it coming  out of a handmade duct tape wallet. To speed up the process, I leaned over, winked and whispered, “I am definitely 17.”

I felt like I could totally handle it.

I felt like I could totally handle it.

With ticket finally in hand, I met up with some of my pals from the Free Press, and we made our way to the best seats in the house.

If I said that I completely watched my first R-rated horror film last night, I would be lying. Because, the truth is, I didn’t watch most of it. Halfway through, I started intently staring at the palms of my hands and the tops of my knees and only looked up when the music wasn’t too intense. Apparently, I’m not very good at scary movies, and blood and guts do have somethin’ on me.

Because I didn’t actively watch all of the film, I’m calling this a “blind movie review.”

Let me start my review by saying the sound effects were great. I was especially a fan of the blood gurgling sounds and the heart racing music. Also, when the demon-possessed dad guy tells his daughter, “I have seen Satan, and I am he,” I thought editing did a fantastic job of layering his voice with creepy ghost whispers.

The movie had a wonderful buildup, which I appreciated. For the first thirty minutes, the film creators really had me convinced that I was gonna make it. I feel as though my 10 dollar ticket didn’t fully go to waste because I was able to watch the first 20-25 minutes just fine.


Bradley Steven Perry

young tim

Garrett Ryan


I enjoyed the storytelling style, with the story jumping between adult siblings Kaylie (Karen Gillian) and Tim (Brenton Thwaites) Russel and their childhood selves, played by Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan. At first I thought Gabe (Bradley Steven Perry) from Disney’s Good Luck, Charlie played young Tim, which would’ve been quite a shift for a Disney star, but I was wrong. Those two are doppelgangers for sure, though.

I thought the plot was clever, paralleling the past with events that occur about fifteen years later. Both in past in present, climax builds with a creepy monster mirror altering reality to prey off of the Russel family’s life force. The mirror’s other interests include killing plants and scaring dogs.

Director Mike Flanagan eased the story into violence, starting with the dad accidentally digging into his finger with a staple remover because the demon in the mirror messed with his mind. Judging from my friends’ later reactions, it got worse from there, but I’m not positive because that was where I stopped watching, actually.

I will now review the times in the second half of the movie where I peaked between my fingers.

When adult Kaylie bit into a lightbulb instead of an apple, I thought the blood was very realistic.

When young Kaylie and Tim’s mom tries to eat her own arm, I thought the blood was very realistic.

When Tim tries to call for help and the demon intercepts the phone call, I thought Brenton Thwaites had very nice eyes.

The movie took a long time to get to the end, and I spend most of the last hour-and-a-half wanting my mommy and some ice cream.

I give Oculus a 7/10 because the movie was horrifying enough (even without the visual effects) that I still had to force my little brother to sleep in the trundle part of my bed for comfort. I also had to take two lighthearted Buzzfeed quizzes and watch one episode of Parks and Recreation  to regulate my heartbeat and dispel most of my unhappy feelings.


I live tweeted the event:

At least I still have my dignity.

The Process

After a horribly long two week hiatus filled with schoolwork and housework and work work, I decided I would just fail my upcoming tests and hammer out a blog post. People say they don’t have time for stuff, but I think if you truly want to do something, time will magically appear for it to be done. In this case, I am magically making time appear by pretending I’m not seven readings behind in AP US History and I’m not supposed to make up an AP Calculus test on Friday and I don’t have unfinished Spanish and Humanities homework gathering dust in my unopened backpack.

Thirty minutes ago, I plopped into a kitchen chair with a glass of chocolate milk and a bowl of homemade stir fry, opened my father’s laptop, logged into WordPress and opened a new post. After starting and restarting introductions to a variety of topics, I became increasingly frustrated and considered watching the most recent episode of SNL instead of struggling with writer’s block. But then, with the chocolate milk long gone and the last remnants of rice sticking to sides of my bowl, I decided to write possibly the simplest post of all: a post about the process I usually go through when writing a post. The ironic part about me writing this post now and today is that it isn’t following my typical procedure hardly at all, but here’s what I usually do:

1. Brainstorming: I try to think of blog ideas 24/7. Whenever any thought has any blog potential, I immediately write it down or put it in my notes on my phone. My memory is horrible, and if I don’t record exactly what I’m thinking exactly when I think it, all I recall later is a vague shadow of what was earlier a brilliant idea. Some of my brainstorming is truly awful, and a collection of the stupid thoughts I have on a regular basis could be a blog post in and of itself.


2.  Timing: According to all the books I’ve read on blogging (just one book actually), timing is everything when it comes to gaining readership. There’s a lot of other stuff involved too, but consistency and regularity especially impact the number of people visiting and returning to my blog. I try to blog on Sunday afternoons, and if not on Sunday afternoon, then at some point during the weekend. I blog every week. Considering I am typing this post on a Wednesday over two weeks after my last post, I will be the first to admit that I am a hypocritical liar pants.


3. Sitting: Sitting is an integral part of the blogging process. I suppose I could blog while standing, but I choose sitting over standing any day of the year. For me, taking a seat and starring blankly at a blank white box on a computer screen really stimulates the creative blogging juices.


4. Eating: I recently added sitting, eating and breathing to my list of professional skills on Facebook. From personal experience I’ve learned blogging without an adequate supply of Haribo gummy coca-colas and microwave noodles on hand is unlikely to produce a decent result.


5. Typing: After eating all the gluten free food in my house, I start typing. That’s how blogging works. Lots and lots of typing and retyping. The most important and well used key on the keyboard is the backspace key. That’s probably a lie, but I am not going to look up which people actually use the most. Probably the space bar if I had to make an educated guess. I use the backspace key more than most people. That’s all I’m trying to say.


6. Tagging: I spend way too long typing, so when I get to publishing, I’m a bit burned out. Because of this, my posts about gerbils are often tagged “pants,” and my posts about forensics are usually tagged “death” or “sweaters.”


7. Publishing: Once I’ve chosen a decent number of relevant tags, I carefully reread my post three times in its entirety and then close my eyes and press the “Publish” button. Then I pretend I’m an average reader and read the post on my blog home page like I’m the stranger trying to understand a socially awkward high schooler’s clumsy prose.


8. Promoting: When I finally decide my post is decent enough to share with my readers (i.e. my mom and my grandparents), I shamelessly promote it on any and all social medias.


9. Fretting: I don’t mean to brag, but I am really good at freaking out. After sharing the weekly part of my soul with whomever stumbles upon my site, I feel a wave of anxiety about what I just put on the internet. I usually reread my post 10 more times and tweak it every other. I’m terrified that I won’t catch a foolish error and be the laughingstock of the online universe. I haven’t seen a meme of myself yet, so I think I’ve avoided this fear fairly well thus far.


10. Lathering, Rinsing and Repeating: The best part about blogging is that it never ends. All it takes is the desire and ability to magically create time.