Posts Tagged ‘school’

The Best Of Times, The Worst Of Times. By Kat Fierce

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

“Best years of my life,” says my mom. “I was senior vice president and played Maria in West Side Story!” As she reminisces, she’s standing at the stove cooking me a plate of vegetables. She’s more enthusiastic than usual. I’d guess starring in her high school play far overshadows the pleasures of cooking broccoli. “My favorite part was Klompen Dancing. Enjoy these years, Kat. They go by so fast and you’ll never get them back.”

An aside for those of you growing up in most of America: Klompen Dancing is where people dress up in traditional Dutch outfits and “klomp” their wooden shoes on the pavement; sort of like stomp but with pointy hats. It’s about as cool as it sounds. I spend most of my dinner wondering if I’m adopted.

My suspicions are settled when I talk with my father, who offers an opinion more in line with my own.

“Awful. Just awful. You have no idea who you are. Adults rule your life and you’re not allowed to do anything you want.”

I tell him I’ll have an easier time finding myself if he extends my curfew. I’m nothing if not an opportunist. He says, “Nice try.”

Since I don’t get to stay out until 4AM, I spend some time thinking about what they both said. I realize these polarized opinions also run rampant through my school. As for me, I’ve pretty much skewed towards the suck side of the scale, and know loads of kids who share my sentiments. On the other hand, a quick walk through the halls and you’ll find the opposite opinion written over the turd-eating grins of the very merry cheerleaders, and the like. As my mom and dad said, when it comes to high school, people seem to love it or hate it. (Granted my parents aren’t the only living post high school folk, but I don’t know too many other adults. All of my friends are my age. Sue me.)

But since when did my parents know everything?

For those in the “best four-years of your life” camp, aren’t you setting the rest of your existence up to be downhill from graduation? Everything in your adult years (and there are a lot more than four) will live in the shadows of cheerleading for the Mighty Wolverines or whatever. Just imagine a thirty-eight year  old journalist saying, “Being an independent, successful editor-in-chief of this incredibly popular magazine is alright, but it’ll never beat doing back hand springs for acne faced football players.” It’s a little ridiculous. Yet, it seems like my mom considers high school her peak. And everything that follows is worse than dancing in a Dutch costume. Like I said, I’m not looking to be anything like my parents.

On the other hand, if you expect something to suck, it probably will. (Or the saying I prefer:  Expect suckage and ye shall get it.” That’s an official Kat Fierce proverb. Feel free to cross-stitch it on a pillow or something.) Here’s what I mean. Say, hypothetically, you get invited to a party. You’re excited, understandably. You love you some shindigs. That is, until you hear rumors that the event is widely known as the worst party of the year. (For some of you this may be the prom.) Reluctantly, you attend anyway. You’ve already RSVP-ed, so what can you do? Like walking into class Monday morning, you totally expect the night to suck. Since it’s hard to dance and complain at the same time, you go find a porch or a quiet corner and look for the first person who’ll agree to get the hell out of Dodge. Hopefully they’ll have a cool car.

Now, say your crush shows up. Looking for you. But you caught a ride. No point in spending the night staring into your cup. Unable to find you, your crush gets into a conversation with another chick. They agree to go on a date. It goes well. Well enough for him to forget it was you he was looking for in the first place. What could have been your amazing night, turns into the joys of watching them cuddle during lunch every freaking afternoon forever and ever. All because you convinced yourself the night would be a snooze long before the sun set. In short, you never gave it a chance.

Granted that’s a total worst case scenario. And the moral here isn’t, “High school is just one big party. So get on the dance floor and give it all you got!” That’s lame. (Super lame. It reminds me of those crappy posters math teacher’s love to put up. Like, “Geometry! It’s not just for squares!”) The point is, you can’t label any part of your life as the “best” or the “worst.” It just “is.” Let the cheerleaders dread graduation and the goth kids whine “four years of soul tears.” But are we gonna let their perceptions be our reality? Can I get a, “Hell no?!”

The reality is, high school is what you make it. Maybe you make some friends. Maybe you make an A in ceramics. But whatever these four years render, it should be nothing more that your minute-by-minute, original experience; prefabricated opinions be damned. By expecting nothing you open yourself to everything. So, you know, kiss the boy! Audition for the band! Get on the dance floor and give it all you got!

(Just, do me a favor. Don’t quote me directly on that dance floor bit.)

Pitying The Popular. By Kat Fierce

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

You don’t have to spend too many days in your first semester of high school to learn one inescapable truth: The second you’re shoved onto campus, it’s four years of sink or swim.

You make the soccer team or you don’t. You pass algebra, or say goodbye to your summer. You successfully pass your friend a note in history, or prepare for an afternoon in detention. Ready or not, jump in and start paddling.

But while most of us struggle to keep our heads above water, one chick (and perhaps a few of her best cronies) seems to cruise by the rest of us easily like she’s navigating a glittering yacht. We’re down here doggie paddling for dear life; her dad buys her a roadster. She lands dance team captain; my coordination lands me face first on the lunchroom floor. Any effort we make to survive this four-year sentence, is effortlessly eclipsed by her seemingly limitless fortune. Rich in boyfriends, parties and admiration, the popular girl makes the rest look like teenage hobos in her passing wake.

And I couldn’t feel more sorry for her.

No, really. Here’s what I mean.

Unlike rock stars or artists or any famous chicks who gain their admiration from something they actually do, this short skirted ring leader enjoys most of her fame thanks to one thing only: being popular. Sure, she may be on the cheerleading squad or date the “it” guy or parade some other clichéd role that nobody in college could care less about. But her main claim to fame is supported by a social structure that’s doomed to evaporate as soon as the last notes of “Pomp and Circumstance” fall silent on the graduation stage.

As we all know, you can’t put popular on a college application. You can’t score a record deal with a homecoming crown. Go for broke now, babe, because popularity is a currency destined for bankruptcy once you cross over high school’s border for good.

Of course that doesn’t mean all popular girls are otherwise vapid and only capable of looking “cute” at parties. But if you already enjoy the fame of the majority of your classmates why strive for more? Would you? For example, say your biology teacher promised you an A for the semester. No quizzes, no labs, you don’t even have to show up. Would you exhibit an ounce of effort? Of course not. (Ok, maybe you would Hubert, but I’m talking to the 99.9% of the rest of us.) Your parents are happy. Your GPA just gave you a thumbs up. You’re good to go. In a weird sense that’s a bit what it’s like to be the most popular girl in school. It’s the equivalent of an automatic A in friends. Why learn to play bass? Why audition for a play? Everybody already loves you. Why aim any higher when your world already validates your social success? Hell, if I had a choice between typing this essay or having six hundred classmates crooning over my hotness, you’d be reading something else.

Granted, this is a tad oversimplified. (And if your high school is absent of this cliché consider yourself lucky to be able to enroll in band class without getting a water balloon thrown at your head.) Every archetype has its exceptions and plenty of girls score a harem of friends by being genuinely likeable and nice to others. Those people will always find companions based on their merits, as well they should. The particular star of this little rant is the snobbery wielding princess who calls people freaks for dying their hair purple and taking an interest in photography.

The one who forgets it’s we, who make her popular, and bites the hand that feeds her fame. Just as you can’t have light without darkness, intelligence without stupidity, she can’t be the star of Anytown High without supporting actresses. Without us, she’s nothing. And when we move to higher callings, her glittering titanic popularity will hit graduation’s iceberg, and she’ll have to learn how to paddle like the rest of us.

Sink or swim, honey. You’re a little too old for water wings.