It's been awhile.
I miss writing, and I miss time. My whole summer has been a race against time, sometimes it's a losing battle. There have been nights of which I've cried, others where my mom had, others where my dad had. Both of them are stronger than I'll ever be.
I'm seventeen years old, this Saturday eighteen. Last year I had not a clue of what to do with my life. This year I have a job at National Geographic, am ASB Treasurer at high school, and am attending Corban University on track to be a music education major. I still have no idea how my family and I will ever afford the heavy tuition bill that is soon to face us, but I trust in God and that the battle is his to fight. I'm simply going through the motions, and am engaged in what I hope is his plan for me.
This summer was insanely stressful. Work has flooded my dad and I, and we stay up for nights some weeks just to make the deadline; one of those times just being a few days ago. I had to miss school last week for two days just to transcribe what was ninety minutes of production background talk. We have never before completed ninety minutes of transcription in twenty four hours, so this is a huge milestone for both of us. I also missed my ASB treasurer induction, which greatly upset me, but I was given a choice; miss a moment of my life of which I'll never get back, or three hundred dollars. We get paid 2.50 a minute, and I am working completely undercover from my dad's sister who sends my dad the films from Maryland and takes all the credit. Her boss doesn't know that my dad is working for her, and Carly doesn't know that I am working for my dad. That's the beauty of working at home on the computer; our identities are hidden entirely.
It took us months to figure out a system that worked for both of us. My dad employed me in May, and then I greatly underestimated the importance and the rigor of this job. Carly sends my dad films that have the main cast being interviewed from TV shows such as The Incredible Dr. Pol, and documentaries that can vary from various foods and their history, to the perspective of Park Rangers who work at Yellowstone National Park for almost 365 days a year. 95% of the time, they are interviews. The other 5% are what I got last week, which was just set up talk that had to be transcribed. The instructions were simple: Type everything you hear. (And put a time code in every 20 seconds.) That includes every noise in the background, or words murmured by a director, producer, or interviewer under their breath. It seemed easy, but being inaccurate or misinterpreting words, or looking up words, especially in the late hours in the night, is rather difficult. Some people have accents, some stutter and yes, every stutter and extra word they utter has to be written down. The hardest one by far was a food interview with a man that spoke Japanese, and we had to look up many words or play back segments until the end of time just to somewhat understand what this man was saying. The longest I've stayed up to meet a deadline was forty eight hours straight, but we have thus far never failed to send it in on time.
At first, it took us twenty four hours to transcribe an hour of audio, and that was on a film of which most words are easy to understand. I transcribed about four to five minutes per an hour, my dad about two to three. Now we are both faster; my dad can transcribe up to five minutes an hour and I can on the easiest films do ten. We can now transcribe that same twenty four hours of film in twelve hours. The only difference between my dad and I was accuracy. My dad was a signalman in the Navy and has a very keen attention to detail. I on the other hand have a top typing speed of 90 wpm, but that only helps us out if the words are clear and audible for most of the film. We transcribed and edited the material on our own, and sent them in separately, even though sometimes the quality between mine and my dad's work was clear as day. He would get rightfully pissed at me for not catching words, putting in the wrong word, writing down what the wrong person said (sometimes the interviewer and the interviewee sound near identical, especially if they are both males) or screwing up on time codes which I'm glad to say I no longer do. Even though these are films, we rarely receive the film itself and just the audio of the film, so identifying the people if they sound alike can be difficult sometimes.
But after many weeks of almost getting it right, my dad finally figured it out. Instead of us both typing, I would type and send my dad the rough draft of the film, and he would edit. Even though the editing can take hours and the transcribing even more hours; overall we get way more accurate and save a lot of time. Because of our improved accuracy, we have recently gotten even more work and are starting to give Carly a name for herself. And believe me, standing out at a place like National Geographic Headquarters in New York is far from easy.
But we've had other lows such as my mom being demoted from work because of a fuck up from a supervisor. She might get her original cashier position this week, and then transfer to another work place, and I pray that it goes smoothly for her. Our boss will transfer on September 12th to another project, and my dad and I face the possibility of losing our jobs. We are both just praying that our boss spreads word about our accuracy this summer so this is not the case.
With our hard work, we managed to pay the first $500 for my first three college courses; General Psychology, Intro to Politics, and Concert Choir. The only problem with my schedule is, I unknowingly registered for a five day schedule and because I am not yet licensed, one of my parents have to drive me to college every day, putting a ton of pressure on them that I feel very bad about. It is especially difficult if my dad has to do it, and we have work. I can't miss college, especially Psychology on Fridays because we have a quiz at the start of class every week. I have yet to get my results of the quiz I took this Friday about the variables of an experiment; but I already know it's a hundred percent after the time I've spent on it, and how I was the first to put my pencil down. I was the first to have my books ready on the first day of class, which cost us over three hundred dollars. I am very fascinated by psychology and politics, and I'm very, very happy and excited about being a college student at a Christian university with people as passionate as I am.
This June, I was nominated by our American Legion to participate in Girls State, thanks to my dad for researching it out for me. Girls State is like a government and political education camp where delegates have a strict dress code, and get to run for office and participate in a huge ceremony at the end. The experience changed my life. I've met such amazing people who I hope to stay in contact with. I went from being reserved and only talking to my roommate, to opening up and crying my eyes out on the day before we left as some of us told personal stories about our lives. I thought about my dad; how the death rate for a signal man was 80% and how all odds were against him, how he grew up with his five siblings in poverty, how his father was an alcoholic and lost his belief in God after being diagnosed with Polio at eighteen, and therefore losing his dream of becoming a star football player. He could only live his dream through his son, my dad, who scored four to five touchdowns a game in middle and high school. But some way some how, he got screwed over too and didn't make it to Varsity because of favoritism and politics at his high school. Neither of his parents told him about college, told him he could still achieve his dream, or gave him the support he needed to continue on with his life such as what he is doing for me, because of his family circumstances and the attention going out to his older siblings. And nothing has changed; we as a family have always been the black sheep of the family because we are much poorer than they are, much more overweight than they are, and overall our interests and beliefs often contrast with their perspectives. I recently had a "family vacation" to the beach with Carly flying in from Maryland and the family renting out a beach house when all hell broke loose; our van almost broke down with the dogs inside on the way there; and we drove back home for three hours in utter disbelief and panic. When we arrived in a different car without the dogs the next day, there was a disconnection with the family that was much stronger than usual. Is it because my brother Joshua and I are no longer kids but teenagers, and are no longer entertaining to them? Is it because I have put on another fifteen pounds this summer from doing nothing but sitting at a computer, typing my ass off, and cramming down Snickers and Hershey kisses just to stay awake at night? (Or it just may have been that I got the "Freshman Fifteen" a year early since I am a college student now?
) They (not my immediate family of course) would probably disown me if they found out I've ever smoked, despite the hypocritical fact that most of them have done it too, along with drinking alcohol, when they were my age.
At Girls State, I found acceptance from amazing, intelligent young girls that will have bright futures and promising careers. I was the defense attorney for a mock trial, and our team won the case. One attorney was so impressed, she introduced herself to my family and told them she came to the closing ceremony just to see me (I nearly fainted when she said that!
) During elections, I originally wrote a speech to be attorney general, but lost to a girl who I am absolutely certain will become one some day, as her father is a lawyer. She amazed me. Another girl, Sydney Roberts, who is a state debate champion, won Girls Nation Senator and went on to become Girls Nation president and meet Barack Obama this July. Hearing her speak passionately about GMOs and other world issues deeply impressed and inspired me, and I am very sure she could become the first lady president if she desired to. But what I did get to do, was write a song during follies to the tune of Queen's "We Will Rock You" to "Girls State Rocks You" and to see all of these very intelligent girls just lose themselves and stand up and clap with me during the performance melted my heart. I lost the election one day, but the next day was another election and another chance to be something. I ran for Supreme Court Justice and got my name on the ballot without a speech prepared, but by talking to everybody. By promising that I will do my best if I get elected and get the amazing opportunity to return next year as a junior counselor. I didn't make campaign posters or advertise like other candidates did, but somehow at the ceremony Saturday morning, the results came in and I got to be one of seven Supreme Court Justices with a kick ass black robe and sitting next to girls like Sydney Roberts. I also received the HUGE honor of being nominated First Citizen by my county and counselors. Just to be on the same stage with these girls was amazing in itself.
Overall as I've said before, this summer has been a race against time. Some days I have to make sacrifices whether it be hours of sleep, days of school, dates with my boyfriend, time with my brother, (who is almost fourteen already!!
) or family events that I miss. This job has matured me in a way nothing else would of. I'm learning to love myself and to love my body not because I like the way my body looks or anything, but because God has created me and everybody else in this world in his image. It seems that life gets easier the more I put my trust in him. I'm a lot happier, and care a lot less about what my classmates and teachers think about me than last year and years before. I care about what my parents think, what my closest friends think, and what my God thinks. But still, to think I am a legal adult this Saturday is so unreal. To think that I came from not speaking much ten years ago to singing onstage at Girls State in front of lawyers and future politicians blows my mind. I started college first before starting school, and I'm loving both. It's so great to be back. My school may be small and only focused mainly on football; but my counselors really care and have worked so hard to contact my college and put my schedule together, which was a project that they have been working on since May. My same counselors made it possible for me to go to the University of Oregon for two weeks my sophomore year on a $1500 scholarship. I'll never be able to thank them enough or repay them for helping make my dream of attending college a reality. I'll be turning eighteen this Saturday, and thanks to Girls State I'm most excited about voting this November, which I've already applied to do. I'm especially excited about being part of changing Oregon's history with voting "Yes" on measure 91, which means ending modern day prohibition on a substance that like alcohol in the 1920s, shouldn't even be illegal in the first place. This is coming from someone who was once so afraid to try it and do something different, and despite the bad rap it gets, I don't regret that decision. Voting yes will mean 31 million dollars for schools, drug rehabilitation programs, and tax revenue. All sounds good to me.
Oh yeah, and my favorite event of the summer was getting to see Quiet Riot in the first row at the county fair for seven dollars a ticket!! I was right next to the amplifier which nearly deafened me. But the guitarist imitated Jimmy Page and constantly pointed at me and made eye contact with me, (it must have been the Led Zep shirt I wore.
) Also I'm really, really, really getting into Pink Floyd and psychedelic music by The Doors, The Zombies, The Black Keys (I want to see them so bad on Halloween this year when they come to Portland!!) and just psychedelic music in general. And no matter how old I get or what career I have, I will forever be obsessed with rainbows and colors (and I think my new favorite song is Any Color You Like by Pink Floyd...it's such a trip. Which is why I'm voting yes on measure 91.