Writer’s Block and Other Slumps

I’m sitting here pondering what to write about.

Correction: I’ve been sitting here pondering what to write about. 

I’ve Googled blog post ideas, and have looked at other blogs for inspiration. Yet, zilch. I’m still waiting for that metaphorical surge of lighting that will push me off a cliff into a creative abyss. 

So, I’m writing about writer’s block, and also just general blocks.

When there’s a road block, you find a way around it: a detour. These detours usually mess up a lot of plans and cause a lot of stress, but somehow, one way or the other, you end up where you’re supposed to. It’s the best example of fate, and I’m a believer (albeit a flimsy one) in fate. So when I write, I always wonder if my writer’s block is supposed to happen. Maybe the universe has this great idea in store for me, but doesn’t want to mess anything up by giving it to me now. Unfortunately, though that could be great, but it doesn’t benefit me immediately. 

I’ve also been in a “research” slump. As freshmen, we have to come up with an experiment we want to conduct during our sophomore year, and the proposal for said project is due sometime in April. In the beginning of the year, I was confident in my idea, but as I researched further and saw all of the issues, I realized I needed a new idea. So, the world came crashing down. I felt attacked by all of the amazing wunderkinds who were on the road to curing cancer at Intel Science Fair, while I was still contemplating whether or not to cite in APA or MLA. I felt severely disadvantaged because I wasn’t a pro at coding, or had little resources in terms of labs. Also, I couldn’t understand half of the titles of the projects.

As of now, I’m still in a slump, but I’m slowly crawling back to creativity and originality.

One reason why is a TED Talk I watched last night. To begin with, I love TED talks. This particular one, which I can’t think of the name, was about a man who used his limitations to inspire his creativity. During art school, he developed shaky hands and permanent nerve damage, rendering him incapable of creating the art he knew and loved. After seeing a neurologist, the man was told to “embrace the shake.” This pushed him to embrace his limitations, and after overcoming them, falling into a creative slump. In order to get out of his slump, the man used limitations in his art. He created beautiful pieces with strange constraints such as only being able to use karate chops, or Starbucks coffee cups. 

So in spirit of that TED talk and my current creative slump, I’m going to attempt to use any and all limitations as a boost. I’m going to spend less time trying to think outside of the box, and instead, make the very best out of what’s inside the box. 

Flashcards, Whiteboards, and Methods to My Madness

It all depends on a white dry-erase board.

In fourth grade, my teacher read us a poem to prove how short a poem could actually be. It was about a red wheel barrow, and I paraphrased it above to suit my needs in this post.

As I go through an average day, I’ve realized a few of the things I use to organize myself.

First, I have a whiteboard. A semi-large whiteboard that hangs above the couch in the living room. I have a set of four, thick, black dry erase markers that I use to write on this whiteboard, and because I haven’t been able to find them recently, I’ve resorted to a brown dry erase marker.

On this whiteboard, whenever I have a busy day ahead of me, or a long night of homework and projects on my plate, or I’m just a little frazzled, I take a few minutes to write everything down. I don’t write all of my tasks sloppily, I take the time write them out with my best whiteboard handwriting possible. That itself makes me think everything is doable, and is strangely reassuring. Then, as I go about my day, I’ll erase all of the tasks I accomplished. Sometimes, I have to erase the remaining tasks that I didn’t finish before I go to bed. Other times, I have nothing to erase.

Besides my white board, I use flash cards. While this is largely for studying, I must confess, I have a strange obsession with flashcards. My friends can all attest to this, I use Quizlet religiously and buy index cards in bulk. There are a lot of different study methods, whether it be writing notes, reading, talking, or even singing. The method that works best for me is flashcards. For some reason, it helps me retain the information. Also, it’s nice realizing that all the knowledge you need to know (for that test, at least) is in those small pile of flashcards.

Third, I have my phone. Honestly, I don’t use it for organization as much as I thought I would. Mainly, I use it for communication, but also productivity. There have been more than enough situations where I’ve had to type speeches or blog posts or history assignments on the phone, or the car, or the bus. Frankly, I have more Google productivity applications than I do games. To specify, I have Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Classroom, and Google Hangouts; and this is a staggering number compared to my one game of Flappy Bird. Other than that, I use my phone to organize my “social life.” If I use flashcards for facts, I use my phone for friends and family.

Finally, I have my laptop. My life is on my laptop. Almost everything is synced to this piece of machinery, and literally, important moments of my life (in the form of pictures) are even dependent on this computer. I have folders within folders within folders, and digital Post-It notes everywhere. Because of that, you can imagine my despair and panic when my laptop stopped working.

Alright, I’ll wrap this up because the Glorious Revolution calls.

I may be slightly insane, but at least I have some methods to my madness.

Loose Ends

A collection of openings, ramblings, and thoughts that never met their end.

****

    This is not, and will not be, a story about teenage angst. That’s just not how I roll.

Wait, never-mind, plot twist. I’m going to tell you how I discovered who I am, and found inner peace. Sort of.

Okay, so here we go. It all started in November of my 12th year on this planet.

I was in 7th grade, and it was that point of the school year where you finally got comfortable with your classmates to a point where everyone sorted into groups and became a dysfunctional semi-family.

Oh, before I go on, let’s clear one thing up. My name is Molly Ambrosi. No middle name.

Anyway, that’s where my problem started. In the first grade, all my friends had middle names and I didn’t. Naturally, I felt awful and when someone asked me what my middle name was, I came up with Madison on the spot. If you must know, that was the name of my favorite character on my favorite show growing up. So yeah, that lasted, but by third grade, the jig was up. I went from Molly Madison Ambrosi to Molly ___  Ambrosi. My M.I. was M.I.A.

But I let it go like a helium balloon.

And, of course, it came back to haunt me as I went to middle school. By the summer before 7th grade, I worked up the drive to find myself a new “middle name.” It would have to be perfect, and obviously, my friends would have to be in on it.

****

     I am the leader of a rag-tag group of Floridians. Well, more like the understudy type side-kick. You’ll understand the democracy soon enough.

I sat in the back of the room, twirling my chewed up pencil, observing the class. It was a very generic class with three Ryan’s, an Alex, and an Alex. I had been with these kids for years and though I was sick of them, I had no choice but to love them. We were a messed up family, but I’d never admit it to any of them. That would be catastrophic to my social life. Anyway, my tangents aren’t very productive, so I’ll move on.

A lot of people thought I was a bad student, that I wasn’t the traditional stereotype of “smart.” I sat in the back, didn’t pay attention, etc. But it’s not because I was a bad student, it’s because no one else could keep up with me. How do I say that without sounding condescending and egotistic? I have no idea, but you have to try to understand me. My story is the classic inner struggle of discovering who you are in a mediocre world.

It started like most things, in homeroom on a really humid Thursday.  The Algebra teacher whose name I don’t recall was trailing off a monotone lesson on quadratic functions that I didn’t really care about.

****

     I sit with my grandparents, overlooking the small village of Puliampatti from our meager front steps. The rain drizzles slightly, as if the clouds are holding back, and the drops of water trail off the adobe walls. For a moment, the air smells pure. But a siren wails, and  smoke floats into the vicinity from the exhaust of a nearby car. My grandfather sighs and picks me up, with his strong arms and callous palms, onto his lap. Grandmother’s wispy voice whisks me away to a place I will never belong in, with a magic I will never experience.

With her voice she brings back memories of birds in abundance flying through the sky with colorful grace and the air of freedom. Peacocks roam the nearby fields, no fear preventing them from displaying their beautiful feathers. I can almost close my eyes, reach out, and stroke the rainbow plume. She recalls running in fields, the birds soaring parallel above her, God’s kites. I awake from this dream as a stray dog attempts to find food in a pile of garbage across the street.

“That’s probably the most color you’ll see in an animal these days,” my grandfather chirps as we watch the small beige dog search for its dinner.

This time my grandfather speaks, his voice as rich as his sun-browned skin, with lines as deep as freshly plowed silt. He brings me to a time of laying on the rooftops and looking at the stars as if they were reflections of the pure world. The night air chills and sends the fragrance of monsoon. As I look to the horizon, I can see the mountains challenge the sky, giants. But alas, I am forced back to the bitter reality when the stench of tractor exhaust permeates the air and horns blare in front of us.

When my toes graze a trickle of rain-water, I am transported to a delusion I wish was reality. I picture running through the grass and mud, the earth caressing your feet, rain splashing on your face and washing away the troubles of the day. Running around in air so pure with the world smelling of soil and jasmine, I can only hope to do such a thing. Now as I roam through this village, where there were once fields that stretched as far as you could see, there are now row-houses and bungalows. The soil has become sandy and dry, as if Mother Nature were holding back her resources for a more worthy world.

Reality hits me.

The rain continues to fall in the small village and the world goes on, not knowing where it’s headed.

****

Looking back on some of these, I actually shudder and understand why I never finished them. Others, I would have liked to see where they would’ve taken me.

Dictionary.me

APA

n. The American Psychological Association, and also the first three letters of my name. Please reference with “RNA,” (ribonucleic acid).

APA-RNA

Blue

n. A cool color whose opposite on the color wheel is orange. There is one particular shade of blue that I find appealing, and if you were wondering, that’s #0f97f8.

Why be blue when you can be #0f97f8?

Cheesy

adj. Of or characterizing the world’s best jokes.

You’re so cheesy, you could be a pizza.

Cram

v. The phase of studying in which nothing else matters. You are alone in the world, with your textbook and a handful of valuable minutes.

I have to cram.

Cyan

n. A color who has no place nor right to mix mint green and blue. Is known to be assaulting to the eyes.

Go away cyan.

Failure

n. An event or occurrence of misfortune and unexpected outcomes that pushes you to achieve more. Please reference with “victory.”

That was an epic failure.

Poetry

n. Beautiful writing that I find it difficult to engage in. Often characterized by deep, metaphorical thoughts. I intend to write poetry well someday.

If I wrote poetry, I’d be an Edgar Allan Poe-t.

RNA

n. Ribonucleic acid, a single stranded copy of DNA in a cell. The last three letters of my name. Please reference with “APA,” American Psychological Association.

APA-RNA

Serendipity

n. Of or characterized by random-ness and happiness. Also the name of my blog.

Other forms: adj. serendipitous

My favorite word is “serendipity”.

Sports

v. To embrace athleticism in one way, shape, or form.

She sports-ed the soccer ball. 

Swanky

adj. Of or pertaining to the characteristic of swank. The sophisticated version of “swaggy.” Please do not reference “swag.”

That tie is swanky.

Try-Hard

n. An individual who is highly enthusiastic about work, and does it to the very best of his/her capability.

adj. Characterizing an individual who puts a lot of effort into every-day assignments and work.

You’re such a try-hard.

Victory

n. An event or occurrence of fortune and success that pushes you to achieve more. Please reference with “failure.”

That was an epic failure.

Wow

adj. Of or pertaining to gigantic glowing trifold board displays, powerful speakers, perfect scorers, and figments of imagination that somehow become reality.

Wow.

Research 

Today, it is snowing.

Coincidentally, it’s also the spring equinox.

Let me rephrase.

Today is the spring equinox. Unfortunately, it as also snowing.

In other news, I went on a field trip to a science symposium during school. There were about 5 or 6 student presenters, and one key note speaker. The students all shared their research, experiments, and even prototypes with us through beautiful PowerPoints and knowledgable lectures. I knew it was the real deal when I was able to describe the PowerPoints as beautiful. 

There were students only a year or two older than me who were discovering new methods of combatting cancer, re-inventing the wheel, and using conplicated mathematical equations to solve national security issues. I was nothing short of inspired.

Besides their obvious passion for their projects, the students also displayed guts. They had to speak on a podium on a stage in a huge auditorium, with their presentations on a gigantic screen behind them. What really amazes me was that, while they all started off nervous and stuttering, as they continued their presentations, they got sucked into their experiments and gained so much confidence in what they knew. My classmates and I even concluded that one girl had an epiphany right there on stage.

The purpose of going on this trip was to inspire our class that we were perfectly capable of doing experiments, projects, and presentations to the same caliber that we saw on stage, and I can confidently say that the purpose was met. 

Tomorrow I’m presenting a project at a science fair with two of my teammates, and my field trip today renewed my confidence in what we’re capable of. After putting so much effort in a project for so long, there’s a legitimate passion for what you’re doing. To share that with others is just surreal. 

And that is why I love research.

Day of Birth

This post has been brought to you via my iPhone.

Today I celebrated my birthday, and all I will tell you is that I am now divisible by 3 and 5.

Every year my mom and I buy a new shirt for me to wear on my birthday, and this year, like every year, I complemented it with a sweatshirt and a heavy winter jacket. Because my birthday is the last day of winter, I tell myself the puffy coats and chapped lips bring out my eyes. 

Anyway. I was sung to about five times during school, blushing more and more each time. There’s just something about pitchy high notes and “cha cha cha”s that make you uncomfortable. But, it was melodious to say the least and though I may have felt like leaving the room, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Because half of my grade had gone on a field trip today, it was a very relaxed school day with little to no work. With three periods of history in the morning, I managed to finish the majority of my work, look at my teacher’s daughter’s baby pictures, and enjoy the first half of Night at The Museum 3. Yes, it most definitely was a good start to the day.

But the arguable highlight of my day came during one of my afternoon classes where I was able to play chess.

Frankly, I don’t know how to play chess. So, the games were ten times more interested because of that. Did you know that the pawns can’t jump over other pieces like in checkers? Then again, I don’t know how to play checkers.

By the third game I was pretty decent, but still very confused.

When I came home, my mom and I continued our tradtion of cutting a cake and opening cute trinkets from Hallmark. 

Currently, I’m heading to a friend’s house to work on a project. It’s the first year that I have a significant amount of work on my birthday and it’s oddly satisfying. 

So, in conclusion, my birthday this year was small and simple. But, I’m beyond content because I was able to spend it with people who make me smile. 

Losing Track of Time

Today I spent a few hours on one homework assignment.

As a result, I figured a good topic for today’s Slice of Life would be “losing track of time,” and specifically, certain activities that make me lose track of time.

My school guidance counselor describes these activities as hobbies, and encourages us to find time for them, but I wouldn’t classify everything that falls into that category as a hobby.

Anyway, I’ll explain what happened today. I came home around 4:30 p.m., and started doing homework at 5:20ish. I picked up my laptop to work on my HTML/CSS assignment for software. In my dad (the computer geek)’s eyes, what I was learning was elementary at best, but to me, it was just plain cool. At first I thought I would be done in an hour, because I had finished the majority of the assignment in school. But that one hour stretched out, and the next time I found myself looking at the time, it was around 8 o’clock. I panicked because I still had other homework to finish, so I wrapped up the assignment, double checked, triple checked, and submitted it. Then, I whizzed through Spanish and now I’m doing my self-imposed homework of blogging. I actually wouldn’t call it homework, because I enjoy it, but you get the point. If I let myself, I’d spend hours on this too, but since I’m limited to one post a day and still have homework to finish, I’ll make this short and sweet.

Wow, that went slightly off track.

Today, I lost track of time doing my software assignment. Sometimes, I get lost reading or writing. Other times its talking to friends or my mom. In all honesty, sleeping is also a good example of this. Then there’s doodling. Also studying.

Out of the previously mentioned activities, the only ones I would classify as a hobby are reading, writing, and “coding.” While the others are all calming and relaxing, I’ll explain why I don’t think they’re hobbies. Doodling isn’t as sophisticated or as worthy of the hobby title as sketching, and I don’t sketch. If I listed sleeping as a hobby, I would get laughed at. And if I said studying was a hobby, well I feel like that seems a little sad.

But, now that I think about it, I honestly lose the most track of time studying. It’s odd because I’ll be looking at the clock every five minutes, but somehow I always spend longer than I intend to, depending on what I’m studying for. Assignments and projects are slightly different, because once you’re done, you’re done. With studying, you have to be really confident in what you know to actually be able to comfortably stop. To give you a non-numbers and non-time related perspective, if I get in the car to go somewhere and bring study materials, when I look up, my parents will have already gotten out of the car at our destination. When I was little that used to happen to me a lot, but with reading rather than studying. I remember bringing my book into wherever it was I had to go. Sometimes, it was a restaurant, and my parents didn’t have the heart to tell me to stop reading. After all, it was reading.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there are just some things that make you forget about everything else, and personally, I’d classify those as stress relievers rather than hobbies.