I just finished reading the two other recaps I’ve written, and to be honest, I don’t know where I’m going with this one. Even 2016 seems so long ago that I had to check the date again to make sure I was reading the right piece. The thing about looking back at old writing is that I didn’t realize how miserable I was last year until now. At this time next year I might be saying the same thing, but overall, I think I had an amazing year.
I don’t remember anything from January, February, March, April, or May. Maybe that’s because school was still in session. Although, I do remember spring break because I went to Turks and Caicos with my best friend from camp, and Cuba with my mom.
In April, my summer plans miraculously lined up. Last minute, I decided to apply for a writing for television program at The School of The New York Times, sign up for the teen tour I was excited about in Thailand, and book a paid internship at TADA! Youth Theater.
The first activity on my agenda in June was the 2-week writing for television program. This program was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I guess before this I knew that I wanted to write for television, but at this point in my life, I have never been more sure of anything. When I received the syllabus, I was shocked to see that my teacher would be Lara Shapiro, the writer and director known for The Americans, an award-winning TV series on FX. What I did not know was that I would have another teacher, who would work with us for the majority of the program. This teacher is named Santino. Although he is still a graduate student, he imparted more knowledge on us in those 2 weeks than any other teacher could have.
Santino tried to teach us writing skills, but he also taught me life skills. He constantly said that his job was not to teach us, but to love us. He said that the two skills necessary to succeed in life and in television are to be curious and have empathy. A writer needs to have empathy even for the most antagonistic villain that exists because a villain is truly just a person with flaws, flaws that provide justification for everything they do. This realization made me love television even more. It has allowed me to see people I dislike in real life as characters with flaws who are making choices based on the circumstances life has provided them with. Television is a way to feel connected to people who are real and who are not real.
After this program, I went on an 18-day trip to Thailand with Rustic Pathways. On my way to the airport, I realized that I was actually insane for signing up to go across the world with a bunch of strangers. Luckily, Rustic Pathways put me in contact with another girl on my trip, so at least I would have someone to talk to at the airport. I was genuinely shocked when this girl turned out to be exactly like me, and we became best friends. I made other friends on the trip that I hope to go on another teen tour with this summer. My biggest fear after the trip was that I would lose touch with the people I met, and I’m still afraid that it might happen. It’s scary to not have a reason to see people you love because you may never see them again.
That’s why I’m scared to leave high school and go to college. I’ve gone to school with the same people for 13 years, and once I graduate, I may never see them again. I even want to see the people I don’t like. I want to remain in touch with everyone, and be able to grab coffee 10 or 15 years from now without it being weird.
After Thailand, I went to Cape Cod for a week, but it kind of sucked because it rained most of the time and we had to go back early because my grandpa almost died.
After Cape Cod, I began my 3-week internship at TADA! Youth Theater, another endeavor I entered without knowing anyone! I did not know very much about TADA! before I started, but basically they have one-week theater camps for ages 6-8 and 9-14. In the span of one week, the kids write their own musical and perform it for their parents on the last day. Even though I don’t love kids, I thought it would be a fun experience because kids love me, plus the stipend was an additional bonus.
When I interviewed for the job, I was told the hours would be from 9-2:30. On the night before, I found out I would actually be working from 8-5:30. But I was getting paid, so it was okay.
I was put with the 9-14 year olds, and assigned to work with another intern. She was in college and had worked there before, so I felt unqualified compared to her. To make matters worse, I sat in the circle with the kids after I finished check-in on the first day, and the two teaching artists thought I was one of the 9-14 year olds. I went up to introduce myself after the game was over, and they were shocked to find out that I was 16. Apparently I look much younger. It took me awhile to get the hang of the job. In that same week, there was a stapling incident in which I stapled all of the wrong script pages, so nobody could follow what was going on. I try to avoid stapling incidents going forward, although I have encountered many others since then.
Unfortunately, I was with the 6-8 year olds for the next 2 weeks. That was when I realized that it’s bad when little kids like you because they tend to act extremely immature and cling onto you physically until someone tells them to stop. It was still sort of fun, and I even had a starring role in the musical on my last day.
The only issue came during my last week. At that point, I realized that I might not be getting paid. This was after I discovered that the college intern was not being compensated at all for 5 weeks of working there, and she needed the money more than I did. Still, it was my money, and I was determined to get it. A deal is a deal. It said there would be a stipend in the job description, and the head of the company mentioned it to me when I first interviewed. I finally got the courage to talk to my boss about it.
Unfortunately, he decided to play dumb, and tried to tell me that my school was paying me, not the company I actually worked for. I knew this was a lie, so I talked to my internship coordinator. Weeks later, she straightened it out, and I got my stipend in the mail. That’s something I’ve noticed this year. I always stand up for myself.
So the busiest and best summer of my life came to an end as I started my junior year of high school. I thought school couldn't get any harder, but trust me, it did. I’ve never felt so behind in my entire life. Everyone seems to have stepped up their game, and people who I thought were stupid now suddenly appear smart. It’s frustrating because I’ve always felt like I was somewhat good at school, or at least average, but now I feel as though I’m below average and I don’t know what’s going on.
They say that junior year is the most important year of high school. At least, this is the time when you're supposed to be getting the best grades. I’m not. I have the worst grades I’ve ever had. Even though I’ve always been bad at math, previously I’ve been able get As with help from a tutor. This year, however, my tutor quit because she couldn't keep up with the material and it’s been an endless cycle of trying to find someone who can actually teach me what’s going on. As you can imagine, I don’t have an A in math this year. I would have a C, but thanks to my teacher’s rounding up, apparently I have a “solid B.”
Although math is tragic, my worst class is women’s history. I am interested in the subject, but the irony is that I signed up because of the teacher without knowing that she was planning on retiring next year, and would be replaced by an egotistical maniac of a teacher from the west coast. I’m not lying when I say this teacher is batshit crazy. On the first day of school, she explained that she didn't greet us when we came in because she wanted to demonstrate that she has power over us. She has tried to make every assignment difficult for me by literally laughing at my ideas. Now, all I have left to do this semester is write a research paper. It is in pretty good shape and I hope she likes it. More importantly, I hope she grades based on what I’ve done in class, instead of her personal feelings toward me. I’m extremely nervous that she’s going to f*** up my transcript.
This is what I hate about getting ready for college. Junior year has turned me into that stereotypical monster of a teenage girl who only thinks about college. Everything I do has to be for college, but not just any college. I think I’ve had this particular school in mind for a while, but I’ve been longing to go there ever since Santino mentioned it in my television writing program. We were talking about film schools, and someone mentioned the University of Southern California, and we all agreed that if you can get in there, you will be guaranteed a career in the industry. Ever since then, going there is all I can think about. Unfortunately, their screenwriting program is the most prestigious in the world, and they only accept 4% of applicants. So basically getting into USC’s School of Cinematic Arts is like getting into Stanford. But I can’t lose hope. I realized that I’ve been really negative recently, and in order to be a better person, I need to be radiating positive energy. Even though my grades aren’t where I would like them to be and maybe I don’t make the cutoff for film school, dwelling on the past or what I could have done isn’t going to help.
Although I’ve been disappointed with school this year, my English teacher gave me hope and encouragement. The first assignment this year was a personal writing draft based on a poem. After turning in the draft, we were supposed to correct any mistakes and turn in the final piece the next class. Apparently my writing was so good that I had no corrections. He even went up to my parents on curriculum night to tell them how good of a writer I am. I thought my most recent in-class writing was my worst, but he commented that it was my best yet, and continues to tell me that I write with great depth and clarity. I have always sort of known that I could write, but I didn’t know if my writing was good enough for anyone to recognize it. Now that someone finally has, I feel validated in my work. I think I have a special talent that not a lot of people possess. I just need to hold onto it and then I can get into film school.
The moral of this year is that life can be great, but only if I work at it. I don’t just mean working hard at school. I mean that if I want something, I need to go and get it instead of sitting on my lazy ass. If that means taking a risk by signing up for a bunch of summer programs where I don’t know anyone, then I need to go for it. If that means making plans on the weekends instead of wallowing in my loneliness, then I need to do it. Life is work. Happiness is a choice. It’s a choice that is affected by the decisions we are making at every moment. Maybe I have to consciously think about those choices more than others do. And that’s okay. I have my strengths and weaknesses.