Tuesday, November 16, 2010

So, did anyone, like, like high school?

Honest question. I pulled out a draft of a short story I wrote last fall. The main character is a 17-year-old Mormon girl who attends a high school in Utah Valley. I've been trying to do some deeper character development with her and pulled out my yearbook from my senior year of high school, which was at a school in Utah Valley, similar to the one I imagine my heroine goes to. My family moved the summer before, so my experience here was brief. High school was not a good time for me. I was not popular. I didn't give a damn about sports or cheerleading or pep rallies. I suffered from severe depression. I hated high school, hated, hated, hated it.

Yet I look through this yearbook, and so many of the kids look so genuinely vibrant and enthusiastic about all the worthless crap of the constructed culture that is high school. And I remember being around kids who really seemed like they were enjoying themselves in that world and I could not for the life of me understand why. How is it possible that people who actually like high school exist in the real world? It's just completely foreign to my experience.

Part of it is that I've always been a somewhat socially awkward person. Social skills were not something I learned from my parents. (I know I'm articulate and verbally prolific on my blog, but if you meet me in person and try to have a conversation, expect frequent clamming up and awkward pauses.) I just did not fit. I've been in very few circumstances in my life, actually, where I really felt like I belonged, but high school was especially bad.

Anyway, I don't think my character hates high school, so I'm trying to get some perspective of what it's like to be a person who doesn't hate high school. As far as where she fits in the social strata, she's not the cheerleader/prom queen type, but she's certainly liked, comes from a middle class family, does well in her classes, etc. Does this sound like you or someone you know/knew? Can you tell me what that's like?

Also, to help me be more "with it" on what's going on with current LDS youth, I looked up the most recent issue of New Era. Did you know that sleepovers are where kids leave the straight and narrow? I don't condone high schoolers drinking and I think most high schoolers probably aren't ready for sex, but banning sleepovers isn't going to prevent that kind of thing. How about knowing your kids' friends, knowing your kids' friends' parents, making sure time at friends' houses is supervised, having an open relationship, instilling a sense of self-worth and goals for the future so they're more likely to make good choices?


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Voting, and an update on me

I voted yesterday. I don't have TV or internet at home so it's been hard to keep up with candidates and issues and current event. My main contact with the outside world is Minnesota Public Radio, but seeing as how I live in North Dakota, this didn't help me in getting information on what I would be voting on. (Yeah, North Dakota has a public radio station I could listen to, but when it comes to quality content MPR kicks Prairie Public's ass!)

I remember when I was a kid there was a kids' voting thing at school where kids got to vote in a mock election to see what it's like and to encourage them to be real voters when they became adults. Parents were urged to accompany their kids to this event. My mom came. We had our little ballots and Mom was teaching us what the process was like. We were in a similar situation then as far as not having a lot of information about the issues and candidates that actually affected us. I grew up in a tiny town in Arizona just south of the Utah border and all the TV stations we picked up came out of Utah. We never had any idea what was going on in Arizona. I remember my mother telling us, "If you don't know who the candidates are, just vote Republican, because you know you agree with the way Republicans think more than Democrats." (To give you the idea of the depths of my parents' conservatism, when they attempted homeschooling for a couple of years, their idea of social studies was to flip on Rush Limbaugh.)

So now I'm all grown up and making my own decisions. I was not as well-informed as I would have liked to have been when I went to the polls yesterday. What did I do? I voted straight-ticket Democrat. I don't recommend this. Normally I try to read up on candidates, listen to debates, etc. and then make a decision, but I've had more difficulty accessing information this year, and frankly, with all the chaos in my personal life, I just haven't been as interested in politics. So I didn't read up on the candidates or ballot measures. I do still feel a civic responsibility to vote, though, and I know that I agree with Democrats more often than Republicans, and that the chances are very good that had I done my research, my ballot still would have looked the same. On the ballot measures, I figured I'm intelligent enough that I could just read them on the ballot and make a decision in the booth. And that's what I did.

As far as what's going on with me, still no internet at home, though I have discovered free WiFi in the parking lot of the local Kmart, so after dropping my son off at school in the morning, I pull in there and quickly check email and moderate any blog comments. With only a few minutes, I don't usually have time to respond individually the way I would like to and I apologize. Thank you all so much for your kind comments on my grandmother's passing. It's been an interesting few weeks. Just when I think I have one fire under control, another one flares up, but we're managing, and on the whole, life is more good than not. I am at peace.


If you enjoyed this post, I hope you'll check out my new blog.