Zazu Evolution 2.1

Timeline created by facebooker_2797955617089953
  • Returning Home

    After the hardest year of my life living in Berlin with my family, we (my brother, dad, and I—my mom has been back at work dealing with her own catastrophe since March) come back to Claremont. I love that everyone still knows me, and despite jet lag it feels like a successful and exciting re-entry to my former life. I've planned all spring for this day as the start of my campaign for "success" (in...literally everything, I thought at the time), and I feel like my life has permanence again.
  • Samantha

    Samantha
    Part 3 of my CAS(SA): Now, Samantha is one of the most thoughtful, humble, and sensitive people I know—then, things were different. Ultimately one of my best friends from elementary school (she still feels guilty for "bullying" me, but I have to always remind her that others in my earlier childhood were so much worse). Although she and I would be in 8th grade together at El Roble, she had made new friends while I was away, so we stopped hanging out in school.
  • Caroline

    Caroline
    Part 1 of my CAS(SA): My "oldest" friend: met via parents in preschool (she's also on the spectrum, but never learned to hide it like I did). Bossy and will rant about Greek Mythology for hours—but she's like family. As young kids, we had sleepovers most weekends + planned to get married when we were older :). 4th grade I moved to her school, 5th grade she moved to Providence, 7th grade she ALSO lived in Berlin and we went to school together(!), but 8th grade she's back in Providence for good.
  • Sarah

    Sarah
    Part 4 of mi CAS(SA): The endlessly outspoken and controversial Sarah Hamid. We met at Hebrew School in elementary, but I never really liked her—clingy and obnoxious. If anything, it felt worse when I came back from Germany, and I started mostly agreeing with people at school that she was just an attention whore. The truth about Sarah is that she just cares a LOT and looks for simple answers in the world. She would be there for me in the end.
  • I get started w/ social media

    As part of my plan for returning to Claremont and raising my status there, I decide in my last few months in Berlin to create my first social media accounts—something I had always been committed to NEVER doing. All I knew was that, when Mari explained how "everyone" knew and liked her at our school, it often had something to do with Facebook; my Facebook account would definitely help me become popular and spread my message among a fractured and hurting community at El Roble and Claremont HS.
  • New directions in piano

    After a year with the menace that was Polina Krymskaya (German-Russian demon spawn piano diva), it suddenly feels very easy to get along with Leonore, my American piano teacher who I used to fight with. However, I decide that potential rewards from piano in terms of status/visibility + college apps are NOT worth the effort relative to other activities, so practicing and competing become much less of a priority—just the bare minimum needed now to stay certified and achieve honors each year.
  • Period: to

    Minnesota—looking back

    I return, for the last time, to the summer camp that changed my life more than anything else in mid-elementary school. For the first time, I am older than most of the others there, but it feels okay. After just three weeks at camp, it's off to the cabin on Lake Superior (my favorite place in the world, when I get to be there with Babu) for my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary, with ALL the cousins. Sweet, but I am not as sentimental as I used to be. Too much future to think about.
  • Period: to

    Debate Camp Disaster

    Mom signs me up for a Speech and Debate bootcamp (at CMC!) because I plan to join when I start 8th grade at El Roble (middle school) in Claremont—as my dad still calls it, "Row-blee" It's mostly fine, although I have some issues with the head coach's arrogant style. Then, in the mock tournament, my partner and I lose every round and come in last place out of 44. I now have a vendetta against John & Jake Meany (who head up debate at the 5Cs!) Also every single smartass debate judge....ever
  • Aeris

    Aeris
    Part 2 of my CAS(SA): Nobody was more important in Zazu Stage 2.1 trajectory than Aeris. First time we met was when she crushed me in the first round at debate camp, and she immediately reminded me of Mari (my ex)—confident, brilliant, charismatic, control-freak energy. Later, I would decide Aeris was not exactly like Mari—where Mari always gets EXACTLY what she wanted, Aeris fights for everything she has. Had another shared connection w/ Aeris, too...but not gonna write about that here.
  • Period: to

    8th grade

  • Math: accelerated accelerated accelerated

    Even though I'm not spending time with Samantha at school now, we meet frequently to do Algebra 2 online—an option her mom fought HARD for (so she could have a more flexible schedule for ice skating) and my parents edged in on. After crunching the numbers (lol) we realize that I can be valedictorian if I take AP Calc AB as a HS Freshman—so I ALSO enroll in online pre-calc. At El Roble, I TA for a new math professor (Algebra I) and teach some lessons for her.
  • Da Moisty Bois!

    Da Moisty Bois!
    Returning to El Roble is tough for some of my elementary school friends, given the trauma of what happened last year. But I do spot some of them at lunch—looking a lil subdued—with some new ppl too. They (called the "Moisty Boys" later in HS) felt like a natural friend group, given I knew some of them in elementary school and many were joining Speech and Debate. Mostly white professor families and, once again, I'm "the rich kid" in the group. They think I'm nice, smart, kinda aloof.
  • Jack Xiao

    Jack Xiao
    2 other piano players in the orchestra: Seemee (super sweet 7th grader! Who needed a confidence boost sooooo badly) and the soon-to-be-legendary Jack Xiao—also a 7th grader, but when he plays he blows us all away, and he knows it. Us 3 piano players bond over our collective mistreatment by the DREADFUL Mrs. G....and also breaking an $8000 piano w/o telling anyone. We never get praise, just "Zach and Jack in the back, you're messing up" (Mrs. G never realized Seemee existed)
  • 2/5 teachers are decent

    Mr. Hertenstein and Mr. Dorman are...fine: Dorman (PE) is a welcome departure from the torture I endured in sport-class in Berlin. He's a sweetheart, but we never do more than walk the half-mile and sit and watch videos about healthy lifestyles—crazy stuff. Hertenstein (history) is also a veeeery nice man: from Wyoming and "the shortest in my family" even though he's 6'7 + "the dumbest in my family" given his brothers are both college professors. I quickly become his favorite.
  • ....and 3/5 teachers are TERRIBLE

    Some of the worst of my entire life: Ms. G—failed flautist and professional angry white lady from Bwaahhhston. HATED how she treated the piano section. Mr. Gough—physical science teacher; sooooooooo boring. Instead of actual lessons, he spent class ranting about how stupid everyone was ("some of you had better start considering careers working at fast food restaurants"). I still did well...but WOW he was bad. Ms. Atherton—crazy old mormon English teacher....more on her later.
  • Zachary joins a Jazz Band??

    Zachary joins a Jazz Band??
    Charlie (see current picture—a close friend from elementary school! Big help w/ introducing me to the Moisty Boys!) plays bass, piano, and drums in the El Roble Jazz band. I mistakenly tell my mom about this, and she makes me join. It's so loud and terrible that I walk home with headaches every day, and jazz improvisation is not part of my skill set. Mr. Melanson is a pretty nice guy compared with the other music teachers in my life, though!
  • Starting Speech and Debate Szn!

    El Roble Speech and Debate—with Ms. Davis, least dreadful of all my debate coaches—is actually a kinda ok situation. She tells us Ohana is team captain, and Ohana's team (w/ Madison and Sanjar) is our A team and Nationals team (they went to Nats last year and won 1/5 rounds). I think it's unfair to have that set so early; I'm starting out at El Roble for the first time this year, but I KNOW I'm probably a better debater than any of them. They're kind of my friends though (at this point...)
  • Alexandra

    Alexandra
    Part 5 of my CAS(SA): People did NOT like Alexandra on Speech & Debate...because she was a mess: Fangirling over so much stuff, too much energy, epilepsy, suuuuper-melodramatic...but we slowly got closer over the course of the year, especially given she had become friends with Aeris when both of them were blamed by people at school for events the previous year.
  • Scrimmage

    The first (of sooo many) debate tournaments in Claremont—a 2-round Friday afternoon scrimmage. I sign up to be on a team with Daniel and Phil (two nice dudes I'd just met in the friend group that would become the Moisty Boys), and I speak first in our first round. We lose, and when the judge tells us I get PTSD from summer. In our second round, I give the third speech—I thought hard about how to sell our position and summarize the round, and it works! Our first win as a team, and it's bc of me!
  • Bar Mitzvah Weekend!

    Bar Mitzvah Weekend!
    I forget in retrospect—kinda the most important part of 8th grade was that it was my Bar Mitzvah year! The Bar Mitzvah went GREAT—my whole family + my old and new friends came, I got tonsss of money, my speeches (where I declared my atheism and talked lots about bringing together my community after a tough year) were amazing, and the after-party where we rented out the entire botanic garden w/ all vegetarian food was legitimately fun. Yay! All beautiful + according to my plan
  • First debate tournament

    Daniel, Phil, and I sign up to be partners again for the tournament at St. Jeanes (all the other schools in our league are bougie private) in early December—and we break through! After our fourth win of the day, Phil writes on a sheet of paper that I can see, "you're our secret weapon." Nobody knows me—I'm an 8th grade transfer student—but I start to make an impression with my slow, fun, and funny concluding speeches that address one issue instead of EVERYTHING from the round.
  • Student of the month

    I...actually couldn't remember what I did my 8th grade winter break (though I remembered that it wasn't anything too special) so I stalked my mom's Facebook! She didn't post anything—so I assume we didn't go anywhere actually—but her FB was a reminder that I was December's Student of the Month for the whole school. For me and my parents, it seemed like the perfect validation of my 2013 fairytale story: I was the incredible 8th grade transfer, the savior of a broken Claremont community.
  • Choir Christmas concert shenanigans

    So: Aeris (why does this girl keep showing up in my life!) is choir president, crazy awful Mrs. Atherton is the choir director, and Sarah + Alexandra are also in choir; Sarah had wanted to be president but Aeris was selected instead. Ms. Atherton makes the whole choir learn some VERY intense Christmas songs, which Sarah refuses to do because she's Jewish/Muslism and activisty. Ms. Atherton says that means Sarah gets an F on her class final, which is absolutely enraging...
  • Good riddance 2013!

    So yeah—I think we didn't go anywhere that winter break (maybe money still wasn't so great, given my mom had taken most of the previous year off from work...though 8th grade was definitely the year that I was rapidly becoming conscious of my new rich-kid status) but I do remember a New Year's party with friends and family friends, where we kinda unanimously agreed to be done with 20-unlucky-13. A year of tragedy, for sure, but (I thought to myself) I'd managed to turn things around at the end.
  • Unfortunate info at talent show

    I sign up to play a beautiful piece by Scarlatti at the middle school talent show—I play well, but Aeris is singing and it's INCREDIBLE and she overshadows us all. Backstage, I spend some quality time with her and Alexandra—where I learn they're both self harming and they show me scars to prove it. I'm confused and worried about them, and I vow to stay "pure" and not let them be a bad influence on me.
  • Elvis

    Elvis
    One of the highlights of stage 2.1 of my life, honestly—a sweet, funny, and energetic temporary addition to the family. For all of 2014 and part of 2015, Elvis (a 20-something year old political refugee from Cameroon) came to live in our attic in Claremont. He played soccer with my brother, told us lots of stories about his adventures, and had our full financial + moral support as he navigated legal status, credentialing, visa, citizenship, military, etc. issues.
  • Semester gradesss

    After struggling lots with classes at my school in Germany (mostly art and PE, which nobody takes seriously in the US—thank goodness for me!) El Roble classes feel great, and I'm a star in the classroom. I get A+'s in four of my five classes for the first semester of 8th grade, which ends in January!
  • FEBRULIFECHANGE 2014: Victory at St Marks!

    One consistent theme in my life: something SUPER important always happens in the middle part of February. In 2014, it's my, Daniel, and Phil's stunning performance at the St Marks tournament. We're the only team out of more than 100 to win all five rounds, including one where we beat the 2012-13 MVP guy. Daniel and Phil let me pick up our 1st place team trophy as we get our standing ovation from the HUGE auditorium, and the whole time I can't quite believe it. Never in my life did I expect this.
  • More Ms. G :/

    Mr. Melanson gets removed from his position as Jazz Band teacher because of sexual assault. It's a chaotic moment for everyone in the Jazz Band, but the mood turns from sad to angry when we realize Ms. G is taking over. She makes us stay longer, stops letting us improvise, and criticizes me and Charlie ENDLESSLY. Not fun—and makes me think I just shouldn't do music at all when I start high school next year (nooo why was that what I decided to do...)
  • Van Avery tournament (Nat Quals)

    Ms. Davis apparently tells my mom before the Van Avery tournament that, given how the year has gone so far, she wants to make us her Nationals team if we do well. Somehow, we pull off another perfect undefeated record, come in first AGAIN (I even get more speaker points than last time!), and then she makes it official: we're El Roble's A Team now, and we will be headed for Nationals in April! At CMC, hosted by the Meanys, my enemies :o
  • The Great Mormon Moment

    I think it was at some point in March that Ms. Atherton gave us the reading about Mormons having the highest survival rate in Auschwitz—to "supplement" our reading of The Diary of Anne Frank, no less! Sanjar and I sit together in class, and we already don't like Ms. Atherton (having heard about Sarah's conflict earlier), so we decide it's time to take her down. I realize this could be my moment to have a "cause" people can get behind, so the strategizing begins...
  • Things go well with (or rather, against) Ms. Atherton

    I am indeed able to use the situation with Ms. Atherton and my English class to my advantage: impromptu lunch meetings, bringing it up with people in my class or the choir WHENEVER I see them, coordinated effort to get parents (esp. Jewish parents) to complain. I get Aeris on my side and get her to testify, too. Ultimately, Ms. Atherton gets suspended from teaching for the rest of the semester and put in "phased retirement." I think most people give me at least some credit :)
  • Nationals (+ my birthday)

    Nationals is scheduled for April 25th—the day after my birthday. I spend loads of time thinking of how to post about it as a not-so-subtle brag, and come up with a pretty good framework. Phil, Mark (his twin), and Daniel have a sleepover at my house to do debate prep. Nationals goes pretty well—we're the first team in the history of El Roble to have winning record (3:2), and I win a speaker award! I make a point of walking home (well, skipping, because I'm happy) since Nationals were held at CMC
  • Theatre auditions, despite my reluctance

    I don't want to do theatre ever again...I was at a theatre festival when tragedy struck last year, and I guess there's still some PTSD. But my mom (who was a professional-track actress in middle school) says I have to try out for both theatre classes for next year. It's my first time meeting Ms. Elhai (powerful woman with a great reputation; head of CHS's 800 person theatre department). My first choice is to be part of the play, but I am only accepted for the musical, where they NEED boys. Uh-oh
  • I'm on ASB!

    One disadvantage of being an 8th grade transfer is that I wasn't eligible to be on ASB this year—but I always see the platform that student council ppl get to be famous in school, and I'm jealous. So, I decide to run for Class of 2018 Commissioner of Publicity. I get a sense for who else might be running, and convince them not to (I'm well-known enough given events from last year and my campaign against Ms. Atherton, which I'd like to think helps me out). I run uncontested! I win!
  • Debate League Finals....I lose to Aeris

    At the final tournament for our middle school debate league, we get unlucky with one right-wing conspiracy theorist (white) trash judge—so Daniel, Phil, and I don't win as many rounds as before. However, 1st place speaker is a tie between me, Aeris, and Izzy (St Mark's Captain). The coaches decide to give 1st place to Aeris because she sang the National Anthem (beautifully, I'll admit) at the start of the day. NOT FAIR in my mind at the time though...
  • A memorable end

    At 8th grade graduation, Aeris and I are invited to perform "Yesterday" (Beatles) in front of the whole school—a tribute to the loss(es) that were felt by my class during our time in middle school. We both give speeches before performing, and the whole act leaves several people in tears. We practiced well, and knew this was an opportunity to stand out and make ourselves known/respected as we were starting high school. Opportunity taken :)
  • Leaving for the summer!

    I get mostly A+'s again this semester (convince El Roble to let me join the Renaissance fair even though I received relatively poor grades in the German system in 7th grade)—and now it's off to Europe for the summer!
  • Period: to

    Time in Berlin with dad

    For the first part of my summer in Europe, my dad and I move back into our old apartment from 7th grade at Rüdesheimer Platz in Berlin. I spend my time: -Catching up with old friends (just a bit)
    -Going on long runs with dad to train for cross country tryouts, even though I'm pretty confident about it.
    -Finishing precalc
    -Practicing piano: learning new pieces for the upcoming competition season and a fancy solo concert at our apartment building.
  • My solo concert

    I prepare my pieces well (some very old, some learned in 8th grade, some just learned this summer!) and I think I play well at the concert, too. But I make the mistake of inviting Polina Krymskaya, the nightmare German-Russian teacher from 7th grade, to come and "see my progress." She gets up halfway through and announces to the entire audience that I am NOT prepared enough to be hosting this recital and she's underwhelmed by EVERYTHING. Then, she leaves early.
  • Period: to

    Goethe Institute summer camp

    Right in the center of my Stage 2.1, a summer camp that was EXACTLY what I needed it to be. Honestly, nothing really important happened; Hohenwart (where camp was) was BEAUTIFUL, I was v popular (twice voted "king of the party!") and the best in my class, I passed a very difficult German language certification exam with honors, etc. One notable thing: I met Irina, a wonderful Italian girl who felt like an older sister to me. We were like best friends at camp and still meet up sometimes.
  • Period: to

    Beautiful bike trip from Bruge (Belgium) to Amsterdam

    One of my all-time favorite family trips—along old canals through Belgium and the Netherlands, staying at adorable BnBs and eating amazinggg local food (the waffles and hot chocolate? to die for!) I bike slowly but really enjoy the towns and canals and sea views especially...Eli gets injured, though, and ends up in a cast for two months after.
  • I didn't make the cross team

    Many of my friends (mostly all of the Moisty Boys) have been training with the cross country team all summer, and it feels great to show up to practice the week before school starts and catch up with them! We warm up together, then I meet with the coach and run a mile to see if I'm eligible to join (his proposal, which sounded fine to me!) I'm happy with my low-6-minute mile, but he says it's not nearly fast enough for the team. I'm devastated, and promise to myself that there will be revenge.
  • Period: to

    9th grade

  • Partners with Aeris! (but most of my friends gone)

    Daniel and Phil quit Speech and Debate within the first two weeks of the school year—they're full-time athletes now and busy with cross country. In fact, it kinda feels like everyone found their niches this summer, without me. When I suddenly don't have a partner, Aeris convinces her partner to quit the team (yikes) and we join forces. Other 2 person HS partnerships: Izzy with Ohana (unstoppable, right??) and Alexandra with Aditi, a super ambitious new debater whose brother was HS team captain.
  • Fall musical auditions

    We get started right away in my 100+-person musical theatre class. Each of us has to perform the audition song for EVERYONE—and I get called out by the choir director, who's sitting in (he's also Mormon—ppl say closet gay—and knows about me via Ms. Atherton's family). He makes me do it three times and says it's "the worst audition he's seen in 7 years of watching this." The worst part is that people LIKE Mr. Wilson and I don't feel like I have anyone on my side.
  • Diana

    Diana
    An INCREDIBLE girl and my role model through my time at Claremont High School. Two years older than me, star w/ her speech AND her Lincoln-Douglas (one-person) debate skills. Never sleeps, part of every group imaginable, published 2 books, heads up a nonprofit, already got a grant from NASA, political activist, beautiful musician and photographer.
  • MUN!

    What I'd always list first out of my many high school activities: Model United Nations. It was my mom's idea that I start a MUN club at Claremont High School, given there was not one and I had experience from my school in Germany. I convince a few of my Speech and Debate friends and Moisty Boys to join at the beginning—Phil is vice president, Aeris is secretary, Alexandra is...there. I spend hours preparing for each meeting, and they go well! Mostly college climbers and chaos, but it's engaging.
  • First tournament success (also first LATE night)

    Aeris and I start getting all existential after we "flop" (still a winning record, but we don't advance) at our first tournament. But, at the CSU Long Beach invitational, we make semifinals! In the novice devision, but still—I consider it a good sign. When I get home late Sunday night, though, I have so much homework to do for Monday that I stay up until 4AM (and I have to be at school at 6:45)
  • Sadie's (lol)

    Sadie's (lol)
    Samantha invites me to Sadie's—and dresses me up for the rocker theme! I see my Moisty Boys and new Speech & Debate friends at the dance and spend time with them, though, which I think is tough for Samantha (she's kinda an introvert and no longer a student at Claremont High School, so she doesn't really know people). Had fun in the moment and it was good to make an appearance for appearance's sake, though!
  • 100% on 1st Calc AB exam!

    100% on 1st Calc AB exam!
    I heard AP Calculus trips people up—and I'm technically not finished with Precalc yet (somehow nobody asked). But my teacher, Ms. Chua, is INCREDIBLE (definitely the best teacher from all of stage 2.1: sweet, fun, dependable, organized) and I studied hard enough to get a perfect score on the first exam, which was a recap of concepts from precalc, ironically. Makes me SO happy.
  • Other important Speech and Debate team people

    There are always soooo many people, but: Sanjar and Ohana still a big deal (ofc)
    Aditi, Sharon, Sana, Charlotte, Stephanie, Jillian, Katie, Sophia, Maya: Mostly very wealthy Asian-American girls who came from private schools in elementary/middle school and are VERY dedicated to doing well in Speech and Debate for the CollegeApps. I get along well with this group and start spending more time with them.
  • Fiber Optics Crew

    This eats into a lot of my time—working a crew to prepare for a theatre show. Ms. Elhai awards "Thespian Points" for hours spent working tech for a show, and my tryhard instincts be like LEMME GET THE MOST OF THOSE. Sad. I spend 4 hours per week on Fiber Optics crew through October and November, just to try to make Ms. Elhai like me. I don't think she even notices. My sleep schedule (now settling into 4 hours/night average) definitely notices.
  • Ashton

    Ashton
    (Weird picture bc I've unfollowed him everywhere)....an out-of-district transfer guy who really wants to be included in my "friend group" w/ Aditi, Izzy, Sanjar, Sharon, etc. We just think he's the WORST—he truly exemplifies tryhard energy but never wins anything. His stay-at-home mom volunteers for the team constantly, clearly to get on coach's good side. He always thinks he deserves to do better, but we know he doesn't. Still, at this point, Ashton and I are able to get along when we have to.
  • Debating with Aeris

    "Debate partners? More like life partners!" - something I heard, turned out to feel unfortunately close to the truth with Aeris. Especially at the beginning, it was sometimes really nice—e.g. when we'd crash at her uncle's place in Little Tokyo when we were prepping (how I first discovered boba!) but there was also lots of conflict—me worrying about Aeris's emotional instability and her worrying about my ethical instability (I started wanting to make up evidence in rounds)
  • My speech!

    Although Aeris and I did well in several partner debate competitions in the novice division, it was actually with my speech (an oratorical interpretation of Al Gore's 2008 Democratic Convention address) that I first won awards at the varsity level. A terrible choice for a winning speech, but I was charismatic enough to make it work at the smaller tournaments. I made finals once in Oct and once in Nov—which also gave me a chance to see what sorts of speeches did especially well...
  • Grandma Bea staying with us / in nursing home

    Another frequent guest in our too-large Claremont Village house: Grandma Bea (Jewish grandmother) finds winters in New York lonely, and my mom worries about her mobility (almost 90 w/ many preexisting conditions but still living alone—impressive!). So she sometimes stays in our downstairs room, and sometimes at the Claremont Manor, a boujie nursing home down the street. She was a SUPER intense mom and is an intense grandmother, but I'm inspired by her life as a lawyer and activist.
  • Fall Musical

    Fall Musical
    It's "do your own makeup" for our performance of Matilda—which, well...you can see how that went. Luckily (again) I'm able to make fun of myself—but still kinda awful hazing to go through in the theatre department.
  • La Costa

    My sleep really suffers in December, mainly because of La Costa and Cypress College invitationals back-to-back (we call it speech and debate hell week). La Costa is my worst tournament yet: Aeris and I go 2:4 through some miserable varsity rounds, nobody likes my speech, and the weather is awful too. One upside of La Costa is seeing Diana win 1st in her event and finally get the recognition she deserves as a debater.
  • Cypress

    Where I realize our judges are "hungover college students" who were failing their classes and given extra credit to come judge—and I convince Aeris to let me direct our strategy. So, we focus on being clear, fun, and entertaining more than taking careful notes and responding to every point. This works SHOCKINGLY well, and we're given the win in some rounds that should not have gone our way. We lose in semi-finals, but it's possibly our best tournament so far.
  • Period: to

    Whistler + Vancouver

    We spend the holidays in BC with bougie DC cousins, and it's a lot of fun! Skiing in Whistler not so great (but I'm starting to fall into the pattern of ski-only-a-little-and-otherwise-spa-and-food), then Vancouver is quite possibly my favorite foodie city of all time—something new and spectacular each day. Also a gorgeous cityscape and backdrop, despite dreary winter weather.
  • Gets tougher to hang out with Moisty Boys

    Probably because I'm sleep deprived and overwhelmed, and also because I can't relate to the athlete lifestyle so well, I stop feeling included when I join the Moisty Boys at lunch. I now usually go to club meetings (LOTS of clubs during the week) or just spend time with Samantha and her squad or join Sana & Maya & Aditi in the library doing homework, or see Aeris and her friend group sometimes. Aeris's friends are kinda edgy and think I try to hard / am too wholesome, so that's not great.
  • Campaign against Cross Country

    I said I'd go after coach Rob—and I do! I overhear a few of my friends who work for the school newspaper discussing a new article about the team's name change (the coach doesn't like "CCCP" because it sounds like the communists, but that was the POINT of the name because it was a JOKE) and so the newspaper puts out a brutal story with a gotcha interview with the coach and everything. Apparently (because of other stuff too) he starts getting shunned by most of the team at practices. Awesome.
  • FEBRULIFECHNAGE 2015: Stanford!

    Very similar to my mid-Feb moment in 2014, but: This was a magical night on our trip to the Stanford Invitational, where Aeris and I were the only Freshmen from the entire Claremont HS team to advance to elimination rounds (mostly luck) but then we actually started WINNING the elim rounds. Won our first two before elimination in quarterfinals. There was hella rain and I just remember running around in it in my suit after all was done—the world felt perfect that crazy night at Stanford.
  • Spring musical—dancing yikes

    Turns out Dylan, our choreographer for the spring musical, also hates my guts. He teaches the choreography to us as a class, then has me demonstrate how NOT to do it—and I feel terrible, especially when I try to joke about it and people don't laugh (which means they JUST look down on me...jeez, theatre people)
  • State Qualifiers

    Aeris and I don't do well enough to qualify in varsity debate, but things go better at Speech Qualifiers: she wins 1st with her INCREDIBLE spoken word + singing, and I advance to semis with my Al Gore speech. I just barely qualify for CA state championships (as a Freshman! Woot!) after our league gets extra spots to send people, and several who placed above me drop. Alexandra qualifies when almost nobody else registers for her event, so she automatically places high.
  • McKennaMUN (ppl drop and I don't win :/)

    I get my MUN club to attend the high school conference at CMC. We have many sign-ups from club members at the start, but then throughout February and March club attendance thins out...Mark, Phil, Daniel, and Charlie all quit and withdraw from the conference, even though they can't get refunds, which is awkward. Only 6 of us end up attending the conference, and I find it TERRIBLE in contrast to what I experienced in Europe. I don't win anything, but Alexandra does (to our collective surprise!)
  • Things get tougher with Aeris

    Throughout the spring, I feel like Aeris might be spiraling. She's self-harming more often and becoming increasingly concerned about her weight (at one point, at a tournament, she eats a cookie—the first thing she's eaten all day—and then tells me in all seriousness that I have to punish her for being such a fatass). Our debate prep sessions get testy and she starts blaming me for EVERYTHING that goes wrong at scrimmages.
  • BOSS!

    In the spring of my Freshman year of high school, things felt pretty good—and part of the reason for that was the newest pet (our 5th! Amazing!) My mom's employee found him at a dog park, likely abandoned, and consulted with authorities but could not find any solution. She knew we were thinking of getting a smaller dog to keep Bernie (the big lab) young and active—so she introduced us. Boss was anxious and peed on everything, but still, somehow, we (+ Grandma Bea) fell in love immediately!
  • Theatre publicity

    I start doing more theatre publicity work (no more fiber optics hahaha)—and Diana is the head of most of those crews! It works because publicity is also what I do for ASB. I get lots of thespian points + it's less work!
  • Spring Musical

    We perform The Addams Family (I'm ensemble and they only let me be in one number, but still the choreographer and musical director had to call me out through ALL the practices). 3 weeks of staying past 2AM at school for rehearsal, with school starting at 6:50AM the next day. Not fun—especially because I don't have close friends to spend time with at rehearsal—but we get through it.
  • Samantha leaving

    Samantha tells me she is dropping out of Claremont HS next year in order to just take online classes and focus on ice skating. This bothers me more than I'd like to admit, but I know I have other close friends (I do, right?)
  • Why I'm going :D at the end of Freshman year!

    Lots of good things happening in my life! -Insane recognition at ALL the banquets—I get Best Freshman for S&D, and I get inducted as a Thespian for Theatre, and the majority of my teachers list me as the Outstanding Student for their class!
    -I realize I'll be ranked #1 in my year, because Sharon got a B in AP Bio! I keep up my perfect grades, including in Calculus.
    -After the end of the Speech and Debate season, my life gets more chill, and I kinda sleep enough again, which is awesome
  • Why I'm feeling :D at the end of Freshman year (part 2)

    -I get re-elected to ASB—this time as Vice President for the sophomore class! My rise to the top continues.
    -I'm elected to be publicity director for Speech and Debate (family and friends say it's "ridiculous" how well I've done for myself in the context of that team)
    -I'm excited about my summer plans! Cook Islands (trip that I've planned), then Chinese camp in Vermont, which Diana was very proud to hear I'd signed up for. She teases that I'll be pulling in "all the Chinese girls" now (lol)
  • Probably the most beautiful trip of my life

    Probably the most beautiful trip of my life
    In June, right after school gets out—we head to the Cook Islands (a group of VERY remote atolls in the South Pacific, about 6 hours south of Honolulu by plane) for my dad's 50th birthday. It's unbelievably gorgeous, full of amazing island food and boat trips across mystical blue lagoons + peaceful hikes to the top of both islands, Aitutaki and Rarotonga. We all love it (consensus: Aitutaki is the most incredible place), and decide to go back when I graduate from college and Eli from high school.
  • Period: to

    In Vermont (for MMLA camp at Middlebury)

  • staying with the lesbian aunts

    Before I start at camp, it's ~2 weeks staying with my aunts Felicia and Anore in Burlington. My mom and Grandma Bea also come at the beginning—so it's like a mini family reunion! Vermont's crazy socialist senator Bernie Sanders (who meets with my aunt's union often) is running for president, so that's fun to joke about. I spend the second week with just the aunts, which is fun: they have cats, drink lots of tea, and talk about politics, so I fit right in.
  • Camp starts off great!

    I like my roommate, I like my ultra-beginner class, I like jogging and walking around, I like living on a college campus and eating in a dining hall—all good things!
    -I win an award for most improved student at the end of the first week! My teacher, Wu老师, is the sweetest woman and she just thinks I'm SUCH a genius.
    -I become friends initially with the friend group of Calvin, my roommate (actually, the friend group of the girl he likes).
  • Rebecca: the beginning

    Rebecca: the beginning
    I sit next to a quiet girl in my Chinese class (which meets for ~3 hours every day). She's Jewish, actually (adopted, though) and has never studied Chinese before, which is why we're both beginning learners. We make small talk in class and our chemistry is cute from the beginning. At first, I feel weird being friends with someone who doesn't seem to have as large a presence as I do, but I realize we have a lot in common and our perspectives complement one another very well.
  • I caught feelings!

    I'm in the music building alone one night, thinking about Rebecca as I practice the slow movement of a Mozart sonata, and I realize that, when I think about spending time with her, my heart feels the same way as it once did with Katherine, Miranda, Sabet, and others. And now that I have a crush again after 2 and a half years (the natural culmination of everything I've done well!), I feel like my healing process is complete. I yell out, "I have a crush" and I'm so, so excited.