How High School is Ruining My Life

You know how when we’re little we run around saying “I hate school; school sucks” and our parents said “it’s OK it will get better. In high school you can pick your electives and in college you can study whatever you want!” They are liars. Horrible, horrible liars. Not- “if you are good this Easter a rabbit will bring you candy” -type liars but the kind of lying that is meant to make things sound less scary until you are old enough to realize that life is scary and you have to suck it up and deal. Alright, I get it, it’s a necessary evil.

Do you know what’s not a necessary evil? Bad schools. And I’m not talking about under-funded, inner-city schools (although children of the world should not have to deal with them either), I’m talking about schools that are run poorly. If there is one thing I have discovered about the educational system it is that it constantly operates under a layer of organized chaos and that at least 95% of it is entirely due to people who just want money (surprise).

I was going to give you a rough overview of my high school before I get into why and how American High School –and I’m not being clever, that is in fact the name of my school–has effectively ruined my life, but then I remembered it has a fairly snazzy article on the wikipedia page about our lovely administration. Oh wait, they don’t actually mention the embezzlement of school funds¹ or loss of every teacher’s contract for an entire semester. But let’s forget all that for right now, because despite the fact that all of that nonsense probably led to my greatest issue it’s not directly related. (It’s a perfectly good reason to hate the school though; take note of that.)

The real issue was my classes- specifically the classes I did not get to take in Senior year. Specifically Mandarin II. Now, I took Mandarin I in 11th grade and did just fine, so passing along to Mandarin II should not have been an issue. Except we had a problem with the classroom reserved for Mandarin- it was too small. It was in fact so small that it contained only room for 28 desks, even though the class always had 30 students. Still, the administration didn’t want to have to go to the trouble to move anyone around for such a silly reason, so we all smiled and nodded and promised not to complain to the district while every day we did lotteries to see who would sit on the floor.

I didn’t really think that much about it at the time because I always assumed our school was poor and that was why we had crappy textbooks, bad tech resources and no room to do anything. I later discovered that I was quite wrong and that our school wasn’t poor, our administration just had no idea how to budget money into appropriate resourses– oh, and probably the embezzlement thing too. Maybe. At any rate the following year they decided to ake the accepted roll list and just cut the last two students on the roll out of the class. My last name is Weber (if you couldn’t tell, I didn’t make it in).

So you are probably thinking: Who cares if you didn’t get to take the Mandarin class, you graduated right? Why yes! I did graduate, with a 3.66GPA in fact (putting me in the lower 60%) but there’s a teeny-tiny issue with not having that class. Without my second year of a foreign language I was ineligible to apply to a UC (University of California) or a CSU (California State University). Being ineligible for the application to the schools- along with having a below 4.0GPA- prevented me from getting another important aspect of college- Scholarships. So, no matter what I was definitely going to community college for at least a year. No biggie, right? Yeah, well, I did pretty damn good in school considering how crappy of a time I had (more crappy then your average high school experience even) and I think I deserved a nice university life like my friends. But California wasn’t gonna give it to me because I didn’t earn it- because I didn’t take that second year of foreign language.

Do you know what my high school adviser said about all this? Nothing. Because I didn’t have one. The whole school shared a single college adviser and she was in about twice a week- during class hours only- and all she ever did was direct you to college websites, find old college yearbooks and hand out fliers. Oh, and I think she gave us a career aptitude test once, which she told me I cheated on because I got 50% artist/50% computer science as my result. Totally and completely useless. Obviously as long as we didn’t sue and got the hell out of school before the age of 21, they didn’t care what happened to us afterward. At least, not us “average” students. I happen to know for a fact that our valedictorians (they tied with a 5.4GPA…out of 4.0) went to Princeton and Harvard. Good for them. Looks good for the school too. For everyone else, who cares?

This is why my high school sucks and why my graduation was both a relief and an extreme disappointment, but it may not be clear yet how an event that happened four years ago is still ruining my life. Well, it’s four years later and I’m still in college; I’m still a sophomore in college. Why? Well, there are a few complicated situations and a lot of financial issues but the long and short of it is because we moved to Indiana out of the blue (quite literally, I think I was given two weeks) and I just went to the nearest college I could. I won’t get into why my college is good or bad or why my department is or isn’t a total mess but I can tell you this much– a UC or CSU school would have been better. I also would have gotten in-state tuition and State financial aid from California, instead of having to deal with Indiana’s academic system which was extremely confused by the fact that I was coming here at all and wanted to know why. (Oh, you went to school in California? Why are you here of all places?– Because I followed my parents out here because they want to buy a house in a reasonable market and live in a nice neighborhood and start a new life, etc etc.)

So, there you have it. While it’s true that many, many other events have contributed to the issues I am having now– and it’s also true that if the situation was different I could be in an equally poor situation or worse– I have to say that because of the lack of any sort of consideration for actual students that American High School had, I have not had an easy academic career and that is slowly leading into to an equally uneasy adult life that I am not looking forward to, at the moment. It makes me mad when I think about how many other students are probably in similar situations as me right now, simply because my school just didn’t care.

So thanks American Highschool, for ruining my life. Still.

_______

¹Actually, no charges were pressed against the individual(s) involved because of insufficient evidence, I however know that our school was losing money somehow and it certainly wasn’t on the over-purchase of textbooks.

Our house is Ugly

My parent’s house was built in 1973. Only recently has it dawned on me what this means.

Our house is ugly. Everything is wallpapered and carpeted (my bathroom is carpeted) mostly in beige and tan. The non-beige-y wallpapers are multicoloured clusters of tacky pastel patterns. The patterns don’t even match a  colour scheme from room to room. Oh, and my room is painted seafoam green which I’m sure was a lovely shade forty years ago but has faded somewhat and now it’s more of a Dead Sea-foam green. It’s a pretty easy colour to ignore though- you can just pretend it’s beige and get on with life.

The pastel wallpapers are pretty easy to ignore too until you hang anything on the wall or look too closely at the patterns. Move in too close to plug something into an outlet and -bam- your eyes are assaulted by the patterns, now up-close-and-personal and within prime eye-burning distance. Pastels are usually pretty calming, until they start getting together and looking like the milk left behind after a bowl of Froot Loops, which is then splattered all over your house about a million times until everything is covered in it. It’s “abstract”. It’s “vintage”. It’s ugly.

Now I have to be thankful that at least nothing is that nasty yellow, orange and brown combo that the designers of the 70’s seemed to love so much. Then again, this wallpaper may have been re-done in the 80’s when the people we bought it from moved in. Even back in the 80’s the couple would have been in their late 50s, so maybe they redid everything in calming colours (might also explain why everything except the kitchen and the garage is carpeted). If that’s the case, I’m afraid of what it might have looked like before they redid it.

They did do a few nice things with the place though. The sunroom we now have was, I believe, originally a screened porch and is now a fully indoor room with lots of windows and skylights. It’s probably the most open room in the house and serves mostly as a foyer since we use the side door as our main door (the “front” door is hard to open). I can’t remember anything else they did that didn’t eventually break…but I’m sure they did something. Nice folks.

If I had to give the house a style I’d call it country cottage with an 80’s renovation. All of the appliances (save the fridge we just replaced) are late 80’s era stuff. We have things like an intercom system, which doesn’t work and is no longer supported by whatever company makes them, which is also our doorbell/fire alarm/security system. There’s a gasfire place (converted from wood at some point) which we can’t use because it’s collapsing on the inside and a nice porch which has fallen into a state of disrepair due to a bunch of thistle trying to break into our house.

But I’m falling into the negative again. There are many features of the house that thankfully work just fine. The windows have screens, the screen door (and attached cat door) work, and during the winter we have replacement double-paned glass for the screen door. The heat and air work almost 99% of the time and we rarely lose power, even in the worst of weather conditions. It’s a big house, so there’s plenty of room for the cats to stalk around and be cats, but it’s not so big that a weekly cleaning is a huge chore. Most of it is vacuuming and dusting high shelves where cats don’t dust for us. My father insists that my mother and I don’t vacuum efficiently enough, so that chore is his alone. Most of the time I dust so my allergy-prone mother doesn’t have to.

All of this being said, the house is old and ugly and I hate it but I do appreciate having a roof to live under and a family to live with. Living here makes me feel tired, but at least I can sleep safely.

I am stuck on the 50’s!

With the arrival of games such as Fallout3 and L.A.Noire to my boyfriend’s PS3 (and the advent of TF2’s rise in popularity because it’s free-to-play), I have been really stuck on 50’s culture lately. I checked out several books from the library in the hopes of becoming inspired for a story rewrite I would like to do, but discovered that the era wasn’t really apropos to what I wanted (more on that later-perhaps). Instead I was left with tons of books depicting a romanticized world that I’m sure it would have been awful to live through but just looks so damn cool.

But what is it about the era that’s got me so excited? I could think of lots of reasons:

  1. Beautiful colour schemes– the 50’s adored turquoise
  2. The almost comically “futuristic” furniture. Chrome = yes
  3. Seemingly infallible family values (it’s a beautiful lie!)
  4. The positive attitude everything seems to take on
  5. Do-it-yourself mantras that make me feel like working on things
  6. Creative advertising- straight out lies, but with a smile!
  7. Catchy music (not my favourite era, but still good)
  8. Preppy fashions– oh, I want to dress like the ladies from the sexist ads!
Despite making my list and puzzling over which of these things really appeals to me the most, I still don’t know what it is! I guess I’m going through a phase- having a fling with a snappily dressed decade long-past. I just can’t help it though; this techie just wants to go vintage!
(but not post-50’s vintage– all form of taste and style disappeared after 1959)

The 70’s seen from the perspective of a child of the 90’s

When I think about the 70’s the word that comes to mind is “overbaked”. Everything is sort of yellow-ish (because they didn’t use acid-proof paper to store their photos on) and gross and there’s too many patterns everywhere. I start to think of it like this:

So, you have a tupperware– one of the old kind, from like the 50’s– and it’s got leftovers in it that you are fairly sure are still edible. Well, they’ve been back there a while, but you decide to microwave it first and then make up your mind on whether you can eat it. So, you pop the tupper in the microwave and hit the buttons to make it go.

Then you stand there watching the thing go ’round and ’round in circles, bathed in that same icky yellow light that you’re used to seeing everywhere. And you start to notice that the tupperware appears to be melting slightly- but that’s okay it’s old and you can throw it out later. Except as you watch your future meal turning, you notice movement. Yes, there’s definitely movement- the leftovers are moving. The food is boiling.

And that’s when you realize that the food isn’t boiling- it’s the tupperware that’s boiling and the melting plastic bubbles are causing the food to jerk around like it’s alive- and that’s when you decide that you should have something else for dinner. You stop the microwave, gingerly handle the remains of the melting tupperware and, unable to free it from the glass plate, pitch the whole thing into the trash because that’s just disgusting and it’s totally overbaked.

For good measure, you toss the microwave too because obviously this thing is too old to cook food properly. After all, it’s from the 70’s.

The World of Superkyute + The Farrot

Background

Superkyute is a world full of critters and creatures that can be found in the most unusual of places. They live in harmony with the rest of the world. Often overlooked by humans and animals, they keep mostly to themselves enjoying a life of contented existence. They do however co-exist with society and are all around us if we’d only take the time to stop and observe them. Finding one is a rare and exciting experience that is sure to brighten anyone’s day.

Critters- Part One, The Farrot

The main critters known to the Superkyute kingdom of animals are farrots, peehs, beanie dogs, cheezecats, taterbees and dragonfries. All of these animals were named after their obvious resemblance to many common food items. The farrot for example, is long and orange, with thin stripes around its back and a green, leaf-like tuft at the end of its tail [see fig.1]. It tends to be bottom-heavy, and buries underground in gardens with fresh soil. It eats the root tips of  weeds and crabgrass, making it an invaluable ally to your average gardener. If you leave a few open plots in your carrot fields, groups of farrots will nest there and keep the surrounding area free of weeds and bugs. The farrot is quite friendly and will only attack to defend its nests. If you accidentally pull a farrot out of its nest (possibly mistaking it for a garden variety carrot) the best thing to do is let it go so it can re-dig a hole elsewhere in the garden. Marking your garden with farrot stakes or flags can prevent this issue from occurring too often.

The farrot’s only known natural enemy is the Peeh, which we will be covering in the next installment.

Some Thoughts on the Future

If I fail at Digital Storytelling the way I failed at Web Design, what do I have left to fall back on?

What else am I good at?

I picked web design because I’m semi-good at it and I thought that by getting better I could achieve a somewhat-workable balance between doing web design for a career and character design/concept work as a hobby. But then I discovered that the idea of doing web design forever was just depressing because I couldn’t put myself into it 100% and I’m the kind of person that has trouble doing anything if I can’t be passionate about it. So I decided that if I wanted to be 100% passionate about my career I had to pick what I was most interested in. Concept work, character design, storytelling- whatever you want to call it. I never liked the idea of doing what I love as a career, but I like the idea of doing something I hate even less.

But in the event that I suddenly become totally unable to do what I love- well, then what do I do? It’s a pretty depressing thought. I’m not really skilled in much of anything else. My creative abilities have been helping me stumble through every aspect of academia (which is why I’m terrible at almost every aspect of both Mathematics and Science). So, if one day it’s just -poof!- no more creativity, what on earth will I do?

Well, I thought about it long and hard and firmly decided that creativity doesn’t just go -poof!- so I’m safe on that front, but instead what goes -poof!- is something more along the lines of confidence in one’s own abilities. Now, I don’t have much of that to begin with, but I’m going to work harder to improve my own artistic self confidence so I can avoid that -poof!- and get on with life. I’m not really sure how to go about this, but I’m sure that it’s one of those learning experiences that after I’m finished I go “oh, I see what I learned there”.

As a Girl Scout of thirteen years I learned two things that have stuck with me for life: “always be prepared” and “use your resources wisely”. As cliche and overused as these statements have become I stand by them and apply them to every life situation, including my future career goals. I’ve found that as a university student I have resources available to me out the wazoo. Seriously, is there anything that you can’t get help with on campus? I doubt it. As a New Media student I’ve found that there is no greater fountain of resource knowledge than your own academic adviser. At the advice of my adviser (amazing how that works, isn’t it!) I decided to take on a minor in Marketing. DUN-DUN-DUN. Scary, I know.

At this point I want to take a quick break away from what I’m going to do and give you a into what I might have done, if circumstances had been different. I will share with you my secret love for…interior decorating. DUN-DUN-DUN. Oh, wait, sorry- that’s not really appropriate in this case. Well, in short if all other creative things in my life fail me I will probably become an interior decorator. Why? Well, I like colors and customizing things and I like to set a mood using aesthetic principles, so why not? The only reason why I haven’t gone crazy decorating my own room is because I’m too poor to afford to redo it and too lazy to get off my butt and do it in the first place. But I still love to decorate things in any way I can. My grandmother is an interior decorator and I actually picked up a lot of useful knowledge while staying at her superbly decorated condo, when I lived back in California. As it is, I already miss IKEA…maybe I should just move to my fatherland (Sweden, not Ireland) and I’ll be content.

Returning to my original topic, I am in fact not in California or Sweden but Indianapolis, Indiana, which I still haven’t decided whether I sort of like or just hate with a passion. I think the only part of Indy that I enjoy is school…so I think that pretty much sums it up right there. Once I’m out of IUPUI I’m outta’ here, no question. The real question is outta’ here to where? I have no long term goals in that category because I’m the type of person who prefers to float along with the current rather than fight it. Maybe I’ll move back to Texas or California; maybe I’ll set out for Oregon or Seattle; maybe I’ll just forget the USA and move to Denmark or Finland, who knows? Not me, that’s for sure. But for now, Indianapolis. IUPUI. School…Oh god, school…

Sorry I can’t work chronologically at all…maybe I should go back and put things in order?

…Nah.

Trip to NYC: Day 5

Due to lack of internet in some places and lack of energy on my part in most others, I haven’t been online long enough to update anybody on my adventures in NYC except for the occasional Facebook status update. I’ve been keeping track of the important events in a sketchbook, using stupid little sketches and phrases to mark the events as I go along. When I return home, I’ll scan these pages. Unfortunately following my trip to California, my camera lacks a battery charger, so no photos from me this time around. But you know me, I love lists. So here, have a list!

NYC Days 1-5 (in no real order):

-NYC is hot, averaging 90’F with 90% humidity each day

-Minor league baseball is somewhat dull, they have to do a lot to make people excited about it

-I ate peanuts at the park, complete with leaving the shells under the seat in front of me

-I bought a knock-0ff Tokidoki bag from a random street vendor in SOHO

-“There are so many hot Asian guys here; it’s like the closest I can get without walking down the streets of Shibuya!”

- Is 16 blocks a mile? Oh, how many miles I’ve walked.

-I’ve only had Dr. Pepper once since we arrived here. This here is a Pepsi-Cola town.

-Cash-Only, cash-only, cash-only…or minimum $15 credit card charge

-Taxis don’t care if you’re jumping up and down, unless you’re IN the street you won’t be seen

- “I can’t tell if some of the people here are crazy or just really friendly”

-There’s a Chinese take-out place called “U LIKE”, underneath the Chinese characters read “take out” and nothing else.

-I got to eat chocolate (and buy buttons) from the Chocolate Bar. They are located in NYC, Dubai and Qatar- no where else on earth. The chocolate was interesting, but nothing special. The button says “Wear More Chocolate”.

- #26 in the ball game did nothing but practice pitching for every at-bat. He’s my hero.

-I had the best french toast ever, with real Vermont syrup. I tried to sketch it and it looked like a bleeding sponge. The bread was light, fluffy and porous.

-The “Think Coffee” coffee shop cups said “made from plants, not plastic”

-“If it’s made from plants and not plastic, why isn’t it green?”

- UNIQLO is a Japanese fashion store with only one store in the US. It’s really cool.

-I’m pretty sure UNICLO [yoo-nee-clo-wuh]  is supposed to be “unique clothing”

-Apparently in Japanese sizes I don’t have a 29″ waist? Why can’t things fit as easily as just “S”?

-I don’t think half the fire escapes on these apartments could support an actual human being

-I had Fish n’ chips that was made with something other than Cod.

-Cafe Bari has the best sweet peanut sauce I have ever tasted. Chicken Satay win.

- “NYC seems to be the only place it’s OK to be foreign and not have to act like you fit in. Ironic, since it’s the most iconic “all-American” city in America.

-Average stuff here costs more than Indiana, but about the same as California.

-SUV Taxis may be terrible for the environment, but they sure are wonderful for my sore feet.

-The Metro may be great for the environment, but it sure is a terrible experience to go through.

-They recycle here, Yay!

-After all that walking, I got a blister on my finger. The index finger of my left (non-dominant) hand. I will never figure out how or why. It’s just there, being annoying.

-Did I mention it’s hot? Too hot to stay inside the apartment we’re staying in. Yay for stores, cafes and other places with A/C.

-more later…

Mascot Costume Help plz~

My mascot Techne is a cyber-ninja who loves cats and over-sized weapons. Her color scheme is mostly black, grey, cyan/aqua, lime green and orange. Below is my WIP vector of her with her finalized hair and eye colors and a typical set of work out clothes that are easy to vector (ha-ha)

I really, really, really suck at designing cool clothes/costumes for my characters. I found a few cool inspirations for the design, but really I don’t know how to put them together to make a cool outfit.

Here are some links to the outfit inspirations I’ve found:

Blue Peach’s Digital Poster Girl
Pyawakit’s Apple Cyber
Feca Warrior’s from the MMORPG Wakfu

[Cross-posted from my TM diary because I’m laaaaazy.]

It’s not Indecision, it’s just really slow Inspiration…

It’s not even that. It’s really just the fact that the more I learn the more that I like or dislike things. You can’t understand everything fully at once, you have to try it out first. Well I’ve been “trying out” Integrated Media for a year now and I have decided that it’s just not for me. I still like web design and I’m still fascinated by a snazzy interface, but I’m just not inspired to create these things the way I’m inspired to do other things, like create characters and worlds. I just can’t find myself sitting and thinking “you know, if I could make a drop down menu that did this that and the other whatsit, it could be revolutionary”…no, not so much. But I can still pause for a moment and think “if I introduced a character like this into today’s gaming world it could change the way that we stereotype characters forever” or “if I could just bring Reality.Hacked to life, I think people would really enjoy it”. Those are the types of things that I want to share with people; that is how I am inspired.

Why is being inspired so important? Was the creator of the gMail interface inspired to create it? Hell yes. Creativity doesn’t just happen and even if you aren’t aware of it everything that inspires you contributes to your overall creation. This is something that over the last 15 years (probably even before then, but I can’t really tell you for sure) I have discovered over and over again to be true. So why did I try to push that known-truth aside and try to force myself to create without inspiration anyway? The answer to that, my friends, is a mixture of lack of self-confidence and fear of being unable to make money after graduation. I love to create characters and I love to write stories (I used to love to draw them too) but the more my passion leant toward “career” the more and more afraid I got that I was “not going to be good enough” to compete with my classmates in college. I mean, it is COLLEGE afterall- a really big deal, right? Apparently not so much. Everyone I’ve spoken to says “oh yes, I learned this, this and that other whatsit in college, but the REAL challenges came with my first job/internship”. So all I can do is practice, practice, practice and prepare, prepare, prepare. From what I’ve heard, that’s pretty much what school is about. Go figure.