Last year summer started when school ended, but this year, my marker for the beginning of summer has changed to the switch from nice to hot weather. Which in an unfortunate series of events, happened last week.
Ugh, that allusion doesn’t even make sense. Where am I going with this intro? Dude, writing intros is kind of worst. I can’t think of a way to not do one when it’s a collab post. Okay, let’s try again.
Oh my, that’s three sentences.
But I have nothing else to say!
You know what, I’m done with this.
1. Read classics
Two years ago, I walked into Barnes and Noble and discovered that they were have a Buy 2 Classics for 10 Dollars sale. And so I bought twelve of them. (I would also like to mention that I was very much encouraged to do so by my mom. She even egged me on to get more.)
Two months ago, I had only finished one of them (Emma) and had started—but not finished—three of them. Mostly they acted as decoration for my bedroom nightstand. Sometimes they were arranged in rainbow order (oh my, that’s how you know you have a lot of books), and once they were conscripted into being the hiding spot for a clue my friends and I were playing. The one thing the books weren’t doing was the one thing they were made to do—be read.
Then without even realizing it, I had the same idea at the same time as a bunch of other people: I started reading War and Peace. At A Public Space, the writer Yiyun Li created #TolstoyTogether in the middle of March. It’s a virtual book club where they read fifteen pages a day, and they finally finished(!!!) this week.
I was able to finish earlier than they did because a) I’m guessing I have more time on my hands than someone who’s an adult and has more responsibilities and b) if it took me eleven weeks to read one book, I would likely give up. After War and Peace, I’ve so far finished Crime and Punishment, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Middlemarch, and Vanity Fair. The books I have next are Ivanhoe, Tess of the D’Ubervilles, and Wuthering Heights.
After I finish them, I’m planning on doing a post of mini-reviews about all of them because I’ve seen people say crazy things about these books. For example, this one post described War and Peace as an “easy read.” I truly don’t think we read the same book.
Olivia: Okay, I’m so excited to hear your thoughts! I feel like I would never be able to read a book over eleven weeks either. Hence why I’ve failed at every “read the Bible in a year” challenge I’ve ever started.
Lucy: The hiding spot from the scavenger hunt right? I remember that. My mom used to do the same thing, and buy me classics when I was in middle school which I would never read.
2. Actually watch a show
This past week my friend alerted our group chat that his Netflix account (which at least three of us had been using) is going to expire in August because he’s getting HBO Max instead. That means I have three months to hopefully finish at least on my To Watch List. This one is probably the hardest thing on this list because for some reason, keeping up with my movie bucket list and Youtube channels is easy, but finishing a show is difficult. I think it’s similar to how I would give up if it took me a really long time to read a book.
Right now the top contenders are Avatar and All American. Two of my friends are strongly in favor of Avatar, and a third is equally in favor for All American, but I’m not sure how I feel about either of them. I’m going to try an episode of both.
Olivia: I hope you finish them! I’m interested in All American too, but I haven’t started watching it yet. I’m the opposite as you on this- I’ll watch a show that takes me weeks before I ever get around to watching a two hour movie, haha.
Lucy: AVATAR YAY. Okay when I first started watching both of them, I was not that interested but I think both shows get a lot better as you go along.
3. Finish interviewing my dad
I think I got the idea to do this because I read some random article about kids knowing their family’s history. Another part of it was that I would hear different stories, but I couldn’t keep any of it straight.
So starting maybe a year or two ago, I’ve been interviewing my dad. Here’s a funny story I heard for the first time recently:
My dad’s an engineer and for his first job, he was assigned a radar technology project. At the time, this project was still new in China, so the year the paper was successfully published, it was given the second highest rating (kind of like orchestra or marching band) in the country’s annual recognition thing. He said that he became famous because of this To which I said: famous?? You were famous??? To which he responded very confidently: yes, I was famous. Everybody in China who did radar projects in the years afterwards followed my paper.
So yeah, my dad for a time was very famous among radar engineers in China.
Olivia: That’s so cool!! You are related to a famous radar engineer.
Lucy: Your dad has the craziest stories, I definitely want to hear everything else you learn after you finish the interview.
4. Learn to play worship songs on the piano
I’ve been playing piano for a while now, but it’s all been classical music. I’ve never learned how to play pop songs or anything like that. Both my parents and my friends have told me that I should play piano for worship team at church, but my answer has always been no.
But last month, something in me just switched. I wish I remember what the moment was like when I realized I had changed my mind—what the “exigence” was, if you will—but I don’t remember. It was a pretty immediate transition.
There’s only been a few decisions that I’ve made where it just felt right, and this has been one of them. In connection to this, a kind of crazy thing happened just a few weeks later: my piano teacher unexpectedly told me that she was retiring. It was almost as if my hand was being forced. From the outside looking in, it seems too coincidental, but from the inside
So far, I’ve gotten a somewhat solid grasp on four songs (Center My Life, Another in the Fire, This is Amazing Grace, and God Who Stays). I’ve been learning them by making Jonathan send me videos of him playing them, but I’m always confused so every time he has to send follow-up videos and explanations.
Right now I’m waiting for him to send a video of Yes I Will even though I’ve already asked him multiple times now, but me making this passive-agressive comment isn’t even productive because he’s not going to read this. –mentally sends a glare–
Learning the songs has been both aggravating and rewarding. The beginning and the end of the process are exciting because each song feels like a new challenge, but the middle part of actually figuring out how to play the songs is difficult because it’s like I’m struggling to understand a language that I thought I already knew.
All the music I’ve played in the past has been with sheet music where all the notes and much of the dynamics and tempos are spelled out for you. Now I stare at a bunch of chord names and have no idea how I’m supposed to change it into piano music. And I would also like to blame part of this on Jonathan for not being good at explaining things. Dear someone who’s not going to see this, please become a better explainer.
The craziest thing about this so far is that playing piano is actually fun. When I was taking piano, practicing wasn’t unenjoyable, but it definitely felt like a task. I would practice the dictated amount each day, and then I would be done. It still feels strange to just want to play piano.
Olivia: Seeing the word “exigence” gave me AP Lang flashbacks. I think it’s awesome that you’re playing piano for fun now and it’s enjoyable! I also love a lot of the songs you mentioned- especially Yes I Will and This is Amazing Grace.
Lucy: This is so cool! I also thought of AP Lang unfortunately when you mentioned “exigence”. I would want to see Jonathan’s videos too for more ideas, and I really like all the songs you are playing so far!
5. Do my art homework
The art program at my school is kind of intense. Each year, the head of the department usually takes over announcements for one morning and lists all the awards the art department has won that year. When he did this my freshman year, I was so surprised to see that people were actually interested.
I think the main reason is that he does this thing where he compares how many awards or entries my school’s art department received compared to other schools that entered, and people get excited over how the smaller private school I go to keeps pace or even does better than the bigger public schools. Basically it’s just underdog vanity.
If I was to psychoanalyze, I would say it has it do with the fact that my school isn’t very good at sports. Actually, in some of the programs like golf, cross country, and wrestling, people are extremely good, but for the one sport that matters when it comes to pride and reputation and what not–football–my school has been terrible recently. They’ve won exactly one game in the past two years. So even though 99% of students would rather have a stellar football team than a stellar art department, you take all the victories you can get.
Okay, back to the art homework. Over the summer for AP art, we have to do a certain number of sketches and projects. (The difference between the two is size.) They’re not really graded assignments. It’s more for us to experiment and to test ideas out because the teachers don’t want us to have to start from scratch when school starts.
The main thing that I’m planning on trying over the summer is illustrated journalism. I know for most schools that would probably not count as art, but as a rule, the art teachers at my school are pretty weird. As long as it’s good, we’re pretty much allowed to do anything for this class.
The story I’ve started researching is NASA’s Mercury program. The first reason I chose this was because I was so clueless about NASA’s manned space missions. I wasn’t even exactly sure what a “manned space missions” was. (It’s just something that involves people going into space.) I didn’t even know which mission it was that Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon (Apollo 11). The second reason was that I keep learning interesting things about astronauts that I’d never heard of and I was curious about all the other names that we don’t know exist.
Olivia: Whoa, you’re so good at art! Learning interesting things about astronauts while also doing art sounds amazing. :)) Defining football as the one sport that gives pride and reputation as football is so true. My school’s team is not really good or really bad- at least not bad enough to where no one even goes to the games, but also bad enough to get beat by a team this year that had never won a game before.
Lucy: Hahaha my school is the opposite. Football is the main thing we’re good at and there is so much school spirit involved about football, but sadly our art and music departments don’t draw that much attention. Your regular art projects are probably more detailed than some of our school’s AP/competition pieces. I wish we got to do as many cool, open-ended projects as your school.
Is your school good at sports?
Do you have any favorite worship songs?
What’s on your Netflix To Watch list?
Are classics a genre you normally read?
What’s one of the best stories you’ve heard your parents tell about themselves?