Putting on a Tourist Hat

I don’t live in NYC anymore but occasionally my family still considers me a new yorker, but it honestly just depends on the day and time. Today for some reason, my siblings and I went on an adventure that was a bit touristy in nature with a friend of ours who lives right outside of the city. It’s funny though because when you come to a city so often you tend to get annoyed by the “touristy” things, but the truth is that sometimes they are exciting things to do in the city if you’ve never done them before.

We went on a boat ride tour through the Hudson, then ventured over to China Town because somehow, before today, I’ve somehow not been there since I was a toddler. It ended up being a great day and we successfully navigated the whole time which was a win in my book!

We also talked about how even in Atlanta there are so many things that we’ve never done but people who come to Atlanta for a short amount of time try to do: like visiting the World of Coke for example.

Typically we make fun of tourists and how cheesy everything they do is, but maybe every now and then it’s good to put on a tourist hat in a familiar city and see what things we’ve never explored before. There are always new and exciting things to be done if you’re up for an adventure.


Always New Firsts

I love how life can always bring new adventures.

I may have not grown up in NYC, but I visit much more often than the normal person. I’m typically here between 3-5 times a year for about a week visit each if not more. And yet, every time I come here there is something new I try or do. I constantly find myself becoming hyper-aware of growing up based on my adventures in NYC and the independence I develop.

I’ve found that kids in the city tend to have a remarkable amount of independence and seem to mature quickly from learning as they go. Sometimes it seems silly to me when I get excited about my first time doing something in the city by myself because I know city kids have been doing the same things for years before me.

Like today for example, I was really excited about how for the first time I was the one to wake up and head to the TSTK line (day of discounted Broadway tickets line) and last minute get my grandma and I tickets for a matinee show.

Then later in the day, my grandma had a first when we ended up entering the lottery to try and get last minute tickets to another Broadway show. She was so excited about watching other people win that I can only imagine what would’ve happened if we had actually won. She wants to do it again just because of how entertaining she found it all!

As we get older, sometimes it feels like we’re more often focusing on the last time we do things, but it’s nice to remember there are always new “first times” that we can experience.

A Chance at Greatness

Earlier today I read this article about the application process to get into middle schools and high schools in New York. It’s crazy!!!

(I’d strongly encourage reading this article before reading the rest of my post because it provides helpful context.)

I remember applying to colleges all too vividly and it was stressful and tiresome and promoted all sorts of self-doubt amongst teens. For students applying to some schools, your shot all boils down to a bunch of numbers – that’s terrifying. From what I can tell, it seems like some kids go through this same process as early as when they’re 10-11 and only just about to enter 6th grade- that seems outright wrong.

Even looking past the equality debates and economic pull for a second (though very real issues as well), what 10-year-old should have to be thinking about how their grades will affect the rest of their life: the odds of getting into a good middle school leading to odds of going to a good high school leading to odds of being well prepared for college. Sure you may think, “Well the child probably isn’t worrying about all of the grades and applications and portfolios; the parents are the ones to really send stuff in,” but what is the likelihood parents don’t start pressuring their kids more and more with each year the academic game gets more competitive? Parents just want their kid to go to a good school, but what has to happen for them to get there?

And let’s keep in mind elementary school “grades” are basically assessing things like multiplication to the power of 12 and a few basic sentences written in a row.

I couldn’t read well until 2nd grade, does that mean I shouldn’t have gotten a chance at a good education?

This article honestly made me consider even beyond this apparent problem with New York City schools. I realized that there are often complaints about the ways that higher education admits students, but how often do we consider all of the k-12 schools who also have application processes? How do they work? How heavily are grades and standardized tests considered? Are children truly looked at holistically?

I’m just throwing out questions because I really don’t know how it works. I had never considered how lucky I am to have gone to the same school for middle and high school. A lot of kids go to a different school every four-ish years of their life because that’s just how neighbourhood schools tend to work. I, on the other hand, switched to a private school when I was going into 6th grade and then got to just stay at that school. I didn’t have to deal with applying to a new high school, or meeting new friends, or getting used to a new school system.

I vaguely remember the application process going into 6th grade. I’m sure my records were sent in and then I remember having an interview where they asked me to solve some basic math problems and take a few “creativity tests.” I only applied to one school. If I didn’t get in and didn’t get financial aid, I would’ve gone to our local middle school despite it being known as, “not a good school.” I was fortunate to make it in and to be on scholarship, but many don’t get that same chance.

My life would be completely different had I not switched schools in 6th grade. Completely and utterly so, I’m certain of it.

I hate that there even exists rumours of “not good schools.” Shouldn’t every child get to go to a great school? School is honestly one of the biggest parts of childhood. We spend 35+ hours a week in school for roughly 180 days a year. That amount of time spanning from age 5-18 (and some kids spend longer than that), adds up to an underestimate of about 16,380 hours spent in k-12 school during childhood. That’s a ton of time!

Obviously, this article I read is focused primarily on how the system to apply to schools is corrupt, but in my opinion, if the schools supposedly “not good” we just transformed to be better, then maybe the application system would self-fix to some extent. Every school has a different culture. Two schools can be entirely different and yet both equally great for the right child. The school application process should be about finding what culture of a school is best for each individual child, not about children competing to be admitted into the select few great schools.

School influences life; there is no questioning that anymore in the age we live in. Being okay with some schools just not being great is like saying not all kids deserve a chance at a great life.

We need all schools to be great.

Full Experience


Just about every winter break I’ve gone to New York to see my family and I just love the culture of the city. There are so many different types of people that people watching is fun anywhere you go, plus there are so many different art installations, and amazing restaurants!

One of my favorite parts is having the ability to walk outside and get places so easily. When I’m there I’m given a key and a metro card and the freedom to explore the city. However, growing up in Atlanta without good public transportation, I’m still not really use to this freedom, so I don’t go far yet.

IMG_6390.JPGThis trip was full of adventures because I got the joy of having my best friend come to the city with us for her first time ever, so we had to give her the full experience.

We ate my favorite egg bagels fresh in the morning and pizza the size of your face for second dinner almost daily. We saw amazing shows such as Black Angels Over Tuskegee, The Color Purple, Chicago, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and Avenue Q. We went to the botanical garden and saw a train exhibit made entirely of natural material. We heard my mom yelling at stupid cab drivers in Time Square. We sprinted down street blocks to img_6427catch subways on time for events. We went to my favorite museum: an interactive math museum. We played Disney Cranium with the conductor for the Book of Mormon. We rushed between shows to see the Statue of Liberty from a distance. And we finished the trip by spending New Year’s Eve on the roof of my aunt’s best friend.  

It was a great and non stop adventure, and I think we really captured the full New York experience.

IMG_4793.JPGIt’s amazing what you can accomplish in just a few days when you have the ability to travel so accessible. Whether it’s a bus, subway, train, ferry, or feet, New York has so many ways to get around and it’s the biggest thing I always miss about the city.


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Getting Ready

(My adorable new puppies!!! On the left is Chewy, named because he loves to chew on things and we’ve decided it’s short for Chewbacca. On the right is Simba, for no specific reason except that The Lion King is awesome!!!)


School started today for many people, but I’m lucky enough to get this Monday off, which means tomorrow will be our first day back.

It’s funny how everyone spends this last day differently. For many, the last day of break means that it is time to prepare and catch up with stuff you know you have to finish before school starts. I’ve talked with people using today to work on lines for drama, finishing up homework, sleeping, planning for tomorrow, blogging, starting their post break diet, trying to stay true to their new year’s resolutions for as long as possible, etc.

Personally I spent today going to bed around 1am in New York (that’s being generous I think) then waking up at 6:25 in order to get to the air port. Then, as usual, there was air port drama, and since it was the holidays everything was especially complicated and people didn’t really know what to do. Finally we (my brother, sister, and myself) got home to find the Christmas present that we were told was waiting for us at home. We got 2 adorable rescue puppies!!!!!!!! Then I looked at my lines for drama some more before acro practice. (I’m going to be so sore tomorrow after 2 weeks of no practice.) And now I am finally home and frantically trying to make myself feel ready for school tomorrow. (Hopefully I’ll get some rest soon…)

Getting ready for things just always reminds me of how unique and different everyone is. So while I know there is no way I could possibly truly be prepared for the adventures of tomorrow, I hope I am able to at least reach an acceptable point of semi-ready. And I wish the same for everyone else as well.

Here we go!

Kindness, Advice, and Laughter


Today in NSLC we spent the entire day in NYC!!! I love the city, but today felt super touristy for me to be honest, because a lot of people hadn’t been there before and just wanted to see Time Square which is exactly where you typically avoid…

But being with friends still made it a lot of fun! The best part though was actually caused because this one kid wanted chocolate milk.

We were in Bryant Park and he saw this coffee stand so he went up and asked for chocolate milk. The lady at the counter said, “We don’t have any,” so he said “Well that’s messed up I just want chocolate milk.” To this her response was, “Wait I’ll make you something.”

So she basically put chocolate ice cream in a latte and added almond milk I think and he came back to us and was “this is amazing!!!” Plus the lady even let him try it before making him pay for it which was really nice along with her already sounding pretty cool for creating this “thing” in place of chocolate milk.

A bunch of the other people with us (there were a total of 12 of us walking around in a group together during our free time in the city) ended up trying the drink and agreed that it was actually really good. So one our way to get pizza we all stopped at the coffee place so other people could buy “the thing”, and the coffee lady was talking to us and she was great!

For starters she was only charging them like half price for the drink which was really nice, but then she was also making conversation with us that was just really funny. She talked about college and  how we should go to NYU, and how she was impressed with how smart we all were. Then she started lecturing one of the guys because someone told her about how he flicked another guys nipple earlier in the term which lead to the quote of the day: “It’s ok to flick someone’s nipple, but you have to ask first. If they say yes, then flick to your hearts desire, but if they say no, then go find some one else’s nipple to flick! Cus one day you’re going to flick the wrong person’s nipple.” There was much more to the lecture and the original chocolate milk guy got about half of it on video while we were all cracking up! The guy even tried to walk away at one point and she was like, “No come back here and listen to all of this!”

She then ended her conversation with us by saying that she never wanted to see any of us on the news for doing anything other then getting awesome awards and recognition.

I don’t even know the name of this person or if she knows how much we enjoyed speaking with her, but she really made our day by spreading kindness, advice, and laughter. I think that may be one of my favorite parts about the NYC actually; how you can meet so many new people in one day and create so many interesting memories. You never know who you may meet, and if everyone strived to be like this lady, a person spreading kindness, advice, and laughter, then imagine how many people’s days would be made better.

Up a Tree


Last night I did not get to blog because I WAS AT OUR NEW HOUSE!!!!!!!!!! We officially have closed on the house, have the keys, and have started moving!! Last night I was there until midnight painting my room with primer which was really fun! The only reason I even went back at midnight instead of 1am with my mom and sister was because I still had a little packing to do, because now I’m in New York city!!!!

Yesterday was my last day ever at the new house and that was a little weird to think about after living there for 9 years. The funny thing was I spent my last night the same way I spent my first night: with just a mattress on the floor. It was kind of sad to say goodbye, but I’m excited to move into the new house!

And I had a fantastic day in New York, all starting with my first plane trip in what seems like forever where something didn’t go really wrong. The interesting thing is this is also the first trip where nothing really interesting in an exciting way happened either. I often say the biggest mistakes can make the best stories, and I guess sometimes without the mistakes and problem the stories just aren’t as good.

I got here and got to read in the park some which was really nice. I’ve finally gotten to restart reading Moonwalking with Einstein which has been super interesting learning about memory stuff. I think one of the most interesting parts is how they describe memory as a test of creativity more than anything. Then my aunt met up with me and we climbed a tree and I told her all about the book and the memory stuff and we talked for about an hour up in the tree. It was great! Plus we ended the night at my favorite restaurant!!

I love being back in the city. Sometimes I really just wish Georgia had better public transportation, so we could just decide to take a walk to a park to read and climb a tree every now and then.

Music with Meaning


There isn’t really one type of music that I listen to. I often joke that most of the time I’m just listening to whatever is playing in the gym that day. Even if you look on my phone most of my music is from Disney or musicals.

Today two of my best friends and I went bowling and then came back to my house to mess around with music. We got this awesome idea to put together a medley of a bunch of different stereotypical graduation songs and then try to find some time our senior year to play it for everyone (after getting a few more people involved to play with us). It would be really awesome if we could actually play it at graduation, because from what we’ve done so far I think it is going to be pretty amazing!!

I realized as we created the medley that the type of music I like is music with meaning behind it. Most songs I often listen to all have a story connected with it.

Like how American Pie will always remind me of Nerd Camp. Christmas Shoes is one of my mom and aunt’s favorite songs, so in the winter when we first hear the song on the radio we always call my aunt and blast the song while singing as loud as we can. Upside Down always makes me think of Curios George and my 5th grade graduation picture DVD that my mom made and the entire grade watched together. Human reminds me of the parody song my family made up about penguins after seeing a video about penguins at the Museum of Natural History in New York around the time when the song first came out.

All of these songs have meaning to them to me because they remind me of a memory. With musicals and songs from movies, they typically have a pretty obvious meaning to them because they are used to help tell a story, so I think that is why I like them so much.

The power of music is just such a cool thing that is always fascinating me.

What Makes SF an Innovation Hub?


How does the geography and culture of San Francisco contribute to it’s world status as an innovative hub?

This was one of our driving question for the day while on our tour of The City. We got to see a lot of breath taking views today of the Golden Gate Bridge (which has the largest suspensions in the world), the top of the twin peaks, and the Red Wood Forest.

What I came to discover today was how much San Francisco is similar to New York City; and I love both of these cities!

Some obvious similarities are that San Francisco and New York are both cities with large, diverse populations, and the city systems both are set up like a grid with lots of public transportation. This leads me to wonder, why is San Francisco called the “innovation hub” instead of New York; what are the key differences?

On the one hand, San Francisco weather is amazing! Cold is like 50 degrees and dying hot is like 80 degrees. I wonder if this nice weather, well despite the strong winds at times, just naturally attracts more people. However, as I said, New York also has lots of people, so it must not just be the great weather.

San Francisco is set up on a grid system which makes it really easy to find your way around, but it is also geographically on top of mountains. It is impossible to avoid steep hills, which is why things like Lombard Street exist where there is a 5 mi/hr speed limit due to sharp turns in the road to avoid too steep drops. It seems like these hills would be annoying to maneuver through town with, and New York doesn’t have these giant hills comparatively, so obviously the geography isn’t stopping innovation. If anything, you could argue that it is creating problems opportunities for innovations.


From what has been described to me, I understand that San Francisco has gone through several different periods of intense population growth. The Gold Rush, the Native American’s coming to Alcatraz, the hippie movement, and recently a period of technology advancements has supposedly triggered a current population increase.

What I really want to know is, “How did this technology movement started in SF?”

This is the question I hope to answer by the end of the week because I think it will lead to an answer to my big question, and I think tomorrow’s visit to the LAUNCH Festival, where a lot of start-up companies are funded, will be a great place to start!

(By the way, #realworld compare and contrast writing.)

What Will Happen?


So I know I only lived in New York until I was 3, but I still go up to the North all of the time and my family lives there, so I’ve heard my share of bad snow stories. Atlanta’s 2 inches don’t compare.

I understand that the city just isn’t prepared for it, and the ice freezing the roads is the bigger problem, but this has happened every year for the past several years where a little snow shuts down the city. You would think we would have learned. Apparently not though since everyone is already freaking out about what may or may not happen tonight/tomorrow with the weather.

Now while I think Atlanta over reacts a little, I still don’t particularly want to go to school in freezing weather. I wouldn’t mind an extra day at home. I kind of love those days when everyone is forced to stay at the house which is one of the reasons I love going to the North for winter time.

What I really don’t like is when we are given busy work because we are missing school. As of now I still have school tomorrow, but it is a delayed start. However, last year when we had a week off we were given a bunch of work to do while we weren’t at school. I don’t mind work, but I do mind meaningless busy work which was a good portion of what we were given. Teachers were told they had to give us work so we were getting assignments from teachers that they typically never would have given us, but they had to come up with some work for us to do.

Then we had google hangouts with some teachers, and yet there were several students having problems because they had teachers giving them at the same time. Some teachers even gave them early in the morning still so we didn’t really get to sleep in while not going to school.

My friends and I joke (but kind of seriously) that the only thing we remember learning over the snow week that was actually useful was learning how to use google hangouts. (Which we then started to use a lot after the snow week.)

I wish we could have been given more meaningful work, or at least less work so we could have enjoyed our time away from school. I hated that week because it was cold, still had to wake up early, had a ton of work I didn’t enjoy or find meaningful, and didn’t get to play in the snow at all.

I’d like to think we as a school have grown since then and wouldn’t do that again (that way at least), but thinking of the possibilities of what could happen when it snows in Atlanta makes me recall these annoying times and makes me not particularly want to miss school.

While most people today keep getting mad at me for saying this: missing tomorrow entirely would really mess stuff up for Thursday (due to no school Wednesday for conferences), so I’m hesitant to say I don’t want school tomorrow. There are really only 3 reasons I want to go to school: 2nd, 7th, and theater.

Our show Welcome to Nightvale opens in a week, and we need all of the rehearsal time we can get, so missing a day the week before is a huge problem.

For 7th (ID) we are suppose to be doing our practice pitch internal Thursday, and since we don’t have school Wednesday for conferences, we really need as much time as we can get to finish the physical prototype and everything else for the pitch.

For 2nd there is a double reason:
1. Mathematical battles start this week and I’m really looking forward to them, and missing a day of math this week would mean that the battles wouldn’t really work; after the amount of times I’ve suggested this idea (I originally played at Nerd Camp) I don’t want them to not work the one time it finally is happened.

2. While I can’t go to band, the rest of the high school band would really benefit from having more practice time before the concert Thursday, so I want them to be able to have their 2nd period.

Who knows what will happen this time around with the weather? I just hope everyone stays safe; the rest will work itself out eventually.

Ok, disclaimer time from the day after: 
I reread post a few days later occasionally, and I realized this one sounded a little more “ranty” then I meant it to be.

I get why we did the work that we did last year during the storm. It was a chaotic time and we had to make quick decisions and didn’t want to get too behind on school work. I didn’t particularly enjoy our first solution, but hey “fail-up”. What I didn’t focus on as much as I was originally trying to was the fact that a lot has happened in one year. When I said “I’d like to think we as a school have grown since then”, I meant that knowing MVPS, I know that we learn from what does and doesn’t work and improve on it for the future. I know I’m not the only one that was a little frustrated during that week last, and teachers were too, and I guess all of the chaos people kept having on social media last night was making me a little annoyed. But when I think about it, it wasn’t like teachers had any time to prepare what they were going to give us to do really. I mean the storm came, we reacted. Cause and effect.

I actually was rather pleased with just having a late start this time because it meant I still got that little “break” and it gave room in case there was ice, but I was also able to be at school for those things that really had to be done today, and now we won’t be seriously behind in anything (hopefully, we did take out two classes today)!

In fact today was really fun! Mathematical battles started and we got to work on some challenging proofs. The coVenture team made awesome progress on the prototype and the room design is just about completely modeled physically!!!! Drama made great strides on the production. And I helped with an interview for new ID applicants and they all seemed pretty great! So I was glad we had school today after all. 🙂