28 July 2017

5 Things I Learned in Senior Year

Senior year was an adventure. It was a wonderful way to close my high school career. I learned a lot. Including these five things.

1. Traveling alone isn't that bad.
Last July I went alone in an airplane for the first time. I was very anxious, but it ended up being fine. Since then I've flown alone several times, and it gets less stressful every time. Really, flying alone is just boring because you have no one to talk to while you wait. Maybe I'll get better at that part as I fly home for breaks during the school year.

2. Having a marketable skill is really convenient.
Despite my 12+ years of piano lessons, I never expected my musical knowledge to serve me practically. Boy was I wrong. This past year I played piano for assisted living homes, helped out with youth choir at church, began accompanying for Mass, and accompanied for solo contest and honor choir auditions. Turns out, people are willing to pay you pretty nicely if you're decent at playing piano. Who knew? I'm going to see if I can get scheduled to play organ for Mass in college, as the chapel has no piano.

3. People are more willing to help you than you may think. 
Throughout this year, I emailed TAC a lot. Like a lot. Every small question I had, the admissions office would get another email. I expected them to be a little annoyed, especially since some of the things I asked them I could easily have figured out myself. But they were always incredibly courteous and cheerful! This is only one example of what has happened over and over to me. People enjoy being kind if they feel like you really appreciate it. The trick is being kind to them, so they want to be kind to you.

4. You may crave change, but remember to savor your current situation.
I was one of those seniors who got "senioritis". A pretty bad case, in fact. I was so ready to be done with the monotony of high school and move on to new experiences. My family was very patient with my temper tantrums, provoked by sheer restlessness. The two convent retreats I went on really helped me refocus on enjoying high school before it was over. And I did have some fantastic experiences during senior year: helping with youth choir, All-State Chorus, and trips to Chicago and Germany. Looking back, it was a better year than I felt it to be while it was happening. I'm definitely glad I'll be starting college with the new experiences and lessons that senior year gave me.

5. In the end, a lot of things don't really matter. 
It's easy to get caught up in details, fret about the small things, and miss the big picture in life. I am prone to freaking out about little matters and ignoring the things that count. This past year, spending time in voluntary poverty (during my convent visits) and preparing to move away taught me how to take a step back and evaluate my priorities, especially when it comes to possessions. I can safely say that I now pack more lightly, get rid of things more easily, and give things away with less reluctance. Because none of it matters, as long as you've got the Faith, a family, a roof over your head, and food to eat.

Only three more weeks until I embark on a brand-new adventure at Thomas Aquinas College!

20 July 2017

Sword of Honour

     The latest book I listened to was Sword of Honour by Evelyn Waugh. It was my first experience of Waugh's writing, and I greatly enjoyed it. Apparently the book is actually a trilogy of novels, but the edition I listened to seamlessly connected them and I didn't even notice. 

     The plot follows Guy Crouchback (lovely name, I know) and his experience as an English soldier during World War II. Most of the action takes place in a military setting, which is usually boring to me, but Waugh does a wonderful job of being just technical enough--but not too technical--that it's both informative and engaging. My favorite part of the book (as usual) is the array of gloriously diverse characters. Despite the complete absence of physical descriptions, I felt as though I knew each character personally and could picture each one with ease. I was laughing out loud countless times while sitting at my computer at work. The close of the story is not as satisfying as I would like, but I can't think of a single book ending I did enjoy completely! 
     Sword of Honour definitely got me interesting in reading more Waugh. Especially if all his books are so hilarious! It is a great story, with a wonderful balance between plot and character. A must-read for anyone who enjoys British literature!

18 July 2017

The Brothers Karamazov

     I recently read The Brothers Karamazov by the Fyodor Dostoevsky. On the whole, it was very interesting and I enjoyed it, despite the fact that the plot was difficult to follow most of the time. There was a distinct lack of likable characters (only one to my count), but that doesn't usually stop me from enjoying a story, and it didn't this time.
     The story follows the Karamazov family: Fyodor Pavlovich, the dissolute father; Dmitri (Mitya), the military son who follows somewhat in his father's footsteps; Ivan, the atheist and scholar; and Alexei (Alyosha), the kind and quiet would-be monk. Relations among all the members of the family are strained, and there is talk of theft and mental illness--especially when Fyodor Pavlovich is murdered.
     A good chunk of the story is a murder mystery, but with one downfall: you never find out beyond doubt who the murderer is. Woven into the seams of the mystery are many tragic, frustrating, funny, and entertaining encounters between characters. I know this book is considered great literature by many people, but if there is a deeper underlying theme, I definitely missed it. Wouldn't be the first time, either. I'll leave the analysis to the scholars.
   Anyway, this is a book I would recommend to anyone who knows what to expect from Russian literature and is looking for an entertaining and not-too-deep story!

11 July 2017

Matt & Isabel's Wedding

At last, the long-awaited day arrived! I don't have very many pictures, but here are the few I took.

05 July 2017

Shakespeare Camp 2017 - performance day photos

Photos from the Shakespeare Camp performance are here, courtesy of Mrs. Scott!

group photo in the shirts

Tessie doing my hair

shirt signing

Marie getting her hair done (we played the same character)

Getting ready backstage!

Viola and the sea captain

Cesario (Viola) and the Duke

Maria and Sir Toby Belch

Sir Toby and Sir Andrew Aguecheek

Lady Olivia with Malvolio and the Fool

Malvolio in his yellow stockings and cross-gartering

the fool pretending to be Sir Topas the curate

Group picture backstage!

It was an amazing seven years of Shakespeare Camp. I'm so grateful that I was able to have this experience in homeschooling!

03 July 2017

Shakespeare Camp 2017

My seventh and last Shakespeare Camp was as wonderful as ever! This year we put on Twelfth Night. Here is a synopsis of the plot:

     Viola is shipwrecked on the coast of Illyria and she comes ashore with the help of a captain. She lost contact with her twin brother, Sebastian, whom she believed to be drowned. Disguising herself as a young man under the name Cesario, she enters the service of Duke Orsino through the help of the sea captain who rescues her. Duke Orsino has convinced himself that he is in love with Olivia, whose father and brother have recently died, and who refuses to see charming things, be in the company of men, and entertain love or marriage proposals from anyone, the Duke included, until seven years have passed. Duke Orsino then uses 'Cesario' as an intermediary to profess his passionate love before Olivia. Olivia, however, forgetting about the seven years in his case, falls in love with 'Cesario', as she does not realize the Duke's messenger is a woman in disguise. In the meantime, Viola has fallen in love with the Duke Orsino, creating a love triangle between Duke Orsino, Olivia and Viola: Viola loves Duke Orsino, Duke Orsino loves Olivia, and Olivia loves Viola disguised as Cesario.
     In the comic subplot, several characters conspire to make Olivia's pompous steward, Malvolio, believe that Olivia has fallen for him. This involves Olivia's uncle, Sir Toby Belch; another would-be suitor, a silly squire named Sir Andrew Aguecheek; her servants Maria and Fabian; and her fool, Feste. Sir Toby and Sir Andrew engage themselves in drinking and revelry, thus disturbing the peace of Olivia's house until late into the night, prompting Malvolio to chastise them. Sir Toby famously retorts, "Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?" (Act II, Scene III) Sir Toby, Sir Andrew, and Maria are urged to plan revenge on Malvolio. They convince Malvolio that Olivia is secretly in love with him by planting a love letter, written by Maria in Olivia's handwriting. It asks Malvolio to wear yellow stockings cross-gartered, to be rude to the rest of the servants, and to smile constantly in the presence of Olivia. Malvolio finds the letter and reacts in surprised delight. He starts acting out the contents of the letter to show Olivia his positive response. Olivia is shocked by the changes in Malvolio and leaves him to the contrivances of his tormentors. Pretending that Malvolio is insane, they lock him up in a dark chamber. Feste visits him to mock his insanity, both disguised as a priest and as himself.
     Meanwhile, Sebastian (who had been rescued by his friend Antonio, a brigand who Orsino wants arrested) arrives on the scene, which adds confusion of mistaken identity. Mistaking Sebastian for 'Cesario', Olivia asks him to marry her, and they are secretly married in a church. Finally, when 'Cesario' and Sebastian appear in the presence of both Olivia and Orsino, there is more wonder and confusion at their similarity. At this point, Viola reveals her disguise and that Sebastian is her twin brother. The play ends in a declaration of marriage between Duke Orsino and Viola, and it is learned that Sir Toby has married Maria. Malvolio swears revenge on his tormentors and stalks off, but Orsino sends Fabian to placate him. (source)
     I played the part of Olivia for the second half of the play. (We have a custom of splitting parts because so many people sign up for the camp.) I was one of three seniors this year, and we had a great time at our last camp. There are some promising actors emerging from the younger kids! I hope I'm able to come back and visit and/or help with future camps.
     And now, a large jumble of pictures from my phone.

     I'll post pictures of the actual play later!