The anticlimactic end

After five weeks of GCSE exams, I would expect to feel more excited than I do at the moment. After 5 years of education in the same school, I would expect to feel something greater than what I do now. However, my own feelings are non co-operative and I even sense a hint of boredom approaching. Is it a case of delayed reactions or is finishing a key stage of your education not so important? After all, if all goes according to plan, I have plenty more years to go.

Perhaps, it is a completely opposite case of advanced reactions. I celebrated the end before it came? What with counting down to the finale with each completed exam, my final exam may have been just another step and although it was the final one, it did not get any more recognition than the first because my mind had got so used to taking steps. Had the exams been compacted into a single week, I think I would have felt more emotional at the end, relieved and excited, but because they were spread over weeks, all the feeling diffused in between. Maybe A-levels will feel like more of an accomplishment…

I can’t believe I am already going to do A-levels. It feels like only this morning I was practising for my weekly spelling tests, but in reality, it has been a long time since I’ve done one of those. It has been a long time since I’ve been in a playground. Teenagers do not go to the playground at break time. It has been a long time since I’ve lined up in a straight line, crossed my arms and placed a finger on my lips. Teenagers are not so docile. It has been a long time since I’ve used a pencil to write, carried a lunchbox, worn plimsolls, frozen when the whistle blew for the end of break or sat on the carpet. Those were the good ol’ days… Years go by so quickly and things change so fast. I can already feel the wrinkles hiding under my teenage skin, bidding their diminishing time.

I was talking to an elderly lady on the bus this morning and she was telling me about the importance of buying the right pair of shoes to maintain a good, healthy back. I found myself wondering if she felt like only that morning she had been practising for her weekly spelling tests. Trust me to get all reflective and go into deep thinking over something as trivial as finishing exams…

Exams are over! School is out! I am using exclamation marks to compensate for my lack of enthusiasm!

This will be one of the longest summer holidays I have ever had and to ward off feelings of boredom or unnecessary over thinking, I will read all the books that I had no time for during the school year. So, recommendations please!

The Procrastinator

I am not poetic. I have not a poetic bone in my entire body. All that seems to change when I have things that must be done. I wrote this poem whilst (or instead of) revising for an upcoming R.S exam and coincidentally it just so happened to be about the act of writing poetry, which I would not normally do, whilst (or instead of) revising for an upcoming R.S exam.

I call it: The Procrastinator

The Procrastinator

Is that what I am?

Or am I just allowing myself sufficient time to think?

I’m just pushing it off.

I’m doing it when the time is right.

After breakfast

Then, lunch

Dinner-

That was two days ago,

That is procrastination.

If you say so.

Who has the right to label the actions of the lazy?

Who has the right to label the lazy?

Only the lazy.

Even then,

The labels

Will

Take

A

Very

Long

Time

In

Coming.

They will arrive at your next birthday.

Can you push off your own date of birth?

Yes.

No.

If you can find the will

To act,

Then you will find that the date will not move.

They fight against the procrastinator.

Imposing numbers

Names of gods

Forced into squares

As the unstoppable

Tick, cross or absolute red ring

Approaches without

A warning

Without a notice

Without hesitation

No flexibility

No mercy

No consideration

Deaf to the pleas of

The procrastinator.

Procrastinator meet time.

He waits for no one.


What do you think of the product of my revision alternative? Don’t worry I have a positive feeling about that exam, but we all know what I am going to blame if I fail.

I type this whilst (or instead of) revising for an upcoming history exam.

Going through exams…

My life is currently full of exams; hence, my (hopefully noted) absence on the blogging scene. It’s not for lack of time as ‘study leave’ leaves me with more hours than I need, but it is because I fear I will use up all my words and creativity on a blog post and then during the exam I will be all dried out. That would be a problem.

I take a very relaxed approach to my exams, or at least I think I do as I have no one to compare myself against, unless I include the brief conversations I have with other students who seem frazzled, are running on energy drinks or coffee and are lost if it is not on their revision notes. I revise but at a slow pace. Too little revision will make me feel unprepared and lacking in confidence and familiarity with the exam material, whilst too much revision will make me feel anxious. I hope I’ve got the balance right and that I get the results I’m hoping for.

It helps to remember that exams are not the whole world, that if I fail it will not signal the commencement of the apocalypse and that I should try my best, but there is no real way to completely get rid of nerves. Strangely enough, I find that the only exams I get nervous before are the English papers, not science which I find harder or any other subject, only English. It is one of my favourite subjects and yet I feel most nervous when it comes to it. Maybe it’s because I truly want to do well and I have such high expectations of myself and so I feel more pressured. Maybe it’s because I always do well in English and as the questions can be slightly unpredictable, I fear that my passing streak will somehow fail at the crucial moment.

I had my English Literature paper this morning and I feel extremely positive about my performance. I wrote more than I usually do, I used ‘bigger words’ than I normally do and even had time to read over some of my work. In less humble words…I aced it!  I hope so anyway. Last night I could not sleep without thinking about To Kill a Mockingbird, zooming my unconscious state into non-existent extracts in the book. Within those tense hours of sleep, I was late for the exam, I ran out of time during the exam and I took the exam at home but was unable to concentrate because of my parents’ persistent shouting. Does this happen to anyone else or am I completely alone in these unusual nocturnal behaviours?

On Thursday, a poetry exam I will sit.

I really hope it will be easy.

Wednesday night, the anxiety will hit;

My stomach already feels a little queasy.

It’s an afternoon exam so I get to wake up late!

But that just means amongst the nervousness and apprehension, I will be stuck.

As you can probably tell, my ability to write poetry is not too great.

Fortunately, I am only analysing them, so, wish me luck!

The End

Today marks an end. A chapter in my life has closed and as much as I would like to put a bookmark in it, nothing can stop natural progression. I’ll miss that old chapter, and I’ll remember the general contents, although the exact words may evade me. My favourite characters will be remembered fondly and may be carried on with me to the next chapter and others will die as an idea within those pages but all will have an impact on the rest of the book; my life.

Analogy over and done with, let me return to the basics. Today was my last day of school. I have been in this school for five years. Five years are a long time. I will return only for exams that will end in mid-June. I will see my classmates only in states of nervousness and then we will depart onto bigger things, farther apart.

It seems strange that I won’t be waking up at 6.45 each morning to wear the same uniform to take the same journey to get to the same school, as I have done for the past five years. I’m glad to be finished but also sad. I didn’t realise how much I loved my school until I was leaving it, how much the teachers cared and how the students weren’t all that bad after all (most of them).

I’m not going to get all emotional in text, I was incapable of shedding a tear today. So, as everyone was bawling, even the known sociopath, I was taking pictures of their teary moments. We showed the entire school a video montage of out time, gave small speeches and left the teachers with one last surprise. Ellen’s Dance Dares!

If this new phenomena has not yet trended near you (Antarctica?), the rules of the game are simple: sneak up behind people, dance, don’t get caught and catch it on camera. Being the daredevil I am, I got behind two teachers and busted a few moves, and being the darling angel I am, they did not see it coming. The result was a hilarious collection of unsuspecting teachers going about their normal, daily routines and a band of sneaky, hoodied-up leavers waving, bopping, shaking and anything else that would classify as dancing. Unfortunately, we failed to get the headteacher. She was never around when the camera was out, or perhaps she was watching us on CCTV and knew to stay away.

It hasn’t really hit me yet that I am leaving. I still remember being in my first year and watching the year’s leavers say their goodbyes, thinking that they were so lucky to go and that I still had ages left before being set free. I did that every single year for four years and now it is my turn, but, I just feel like holding onto the chains, even as they loosen to let me go. I really am going to miss my school.

If I’m not going to cry, the least I can do is write to express what sadness I must be feeling. I know I am sad, I just don’t feel sad. I say I’m sad. I just don’t feel sad. It must be because I know I’m not really leaving. I shall, not by choice, be popping round for exams from time to time and then, any feelings of sorrow will be overshadowed by nervousness and panic. Even then, I’ll still pass by every once in a while. I hope.

*Exams coming up. I might have to use my computer for more productive activities. Pray I do well. The future of many mentally unstable people depend on it.

Time Will Fly.

It always does. When you want everything to slow down so that you can just take a moment to breathe, that breath is your last one before time is up. Only yesterday you calculated that you had a month left, today it has miraculously reduced to two weeks and tomorrow it will only be a few hours. Why does time do that ? It should stick to the rules. I can’t keep up with it because as soon as I get close it speeds up and as soon as I try to manage it, it rattles about like a caged bird until I have no option but to release it and give up.

Three weeks left. Then, I will be finished in the school that I have been a part of for the last five years. Then, before I can blink, I will be faced with four weeks of exams, I will go to a new school, I will go to university, I will grow up, get married, have kids and die. That’s how much I think that time will fly. Whilst I am living through it, there may be moments where I am bored and feel like time is dragging along but I am sure that when I am older and look back at this post, this moment in time, I will have to agree with my broody younger self.

Is 24 hours the same everywhere? Do people in Australia have a different 24 hours than people here in the UK? What about in space? What about a thousand years ago? What about in a thousand years time? I think 24 hours felt longer when I was younger, when I had less things to do and to worry about. It will probably feel that way again when I am retired, and I am finished doing and worrying about things. Until then, 24 hours feels much too short.

I do it with flair

As the end of the school year draws closer, particularly for my class of seniors, it comes naturally to start the reminiscence and remember the old days of braces, big nerdy rucksacks and best friend squabbles. Oh what larks we had! (Peak times, innit?)

It started off just recalling teachers’ catchphrases and habits that although we made fun of at that moment, we were sure we would all miss. When would you ever meet another person who promised to shove Tipp-Ex down your throat if you didn’t put it away?

After every teacher was done with and all their words quoted and exhausted, it was our turn to pick out each other’s catchphrases. These were words that we were known for, often repeated and were predictably ours. I’m cool like that. Yeah bro. FML.

Many people had more than one catchphrase, some were digged up from old times and as for me; I had none. Seventeen girls sat in a circle, knocking their heads together, and they came out blank. What does Yasmine say? Understandably offended, they assured me that is was not for lack of personality, I just say so many things and do not repeat myself often. As a form of appeasement, their compliments were void. Surely, I must say something more than once. I can not be the only girl without a catchphrase.

Then, finally, not because I was whining, someone came with a suggestion. A phrase that I do not say often, but I do recall saying once or twice, and had not even remembered until that moment: I do it with flair. What a curious catchphrase. It sounds pompous, obnoxious and all types of swottish but I have said it.

My friend (or so she calls herself), once commented on my manner of walking, resulting in my self-conscious tiptoeing and retarded, robotic movements. She told me I walked funny and once someone tells you that, it’s hard to walk the way usually do. So, in need of reassurance, I asked around and learned that I do not drift, I walk with purpose. “What do you mean?” I asked, eyebrows furrowed with a puzzled look on my face. You walk as if you are going somewhere. Tired of cryptic answers, I went to my teacher and she briefly summarised that I have good posture. Really? I went back to my friend and I told her: I don’t walk funny. I do it with flair.

So, what is everybody’s catchphrase?

Cambridge Excursion

Yesterday, in an effort to inspire the youth to aim higher and motivate them to take their studies more seriously, my class was taken on a school trip to see Cambridge University. Our lack of initial enthusiasm was evident; the coach journey was two hours long (I slept both hours) and we all just really wanted to go home as we had just completed a science exam that morning.

Cambridge University is always regarded as one of the most prestigious educational institutions, inaccessible to many. However, upon seeing it, my classmates were sorely disappointed and it was nothing like they had expected it to be. When asked, they had envisaged the university to be one ginormous ancient castle resembling Hogwarts. What we did not know was that the university is actually comprised of thirty-one smaller colleges scattered about the town, some fairly modern in comparison to the older buildings of much more impressive architecture.

The town is small and old-fashioned, with cobbled streets and narrow alleyways, and the main mode of transport is clearly cycling. Parked bicycles littered the pavements and there were very few cars. I suppose for university students who have little money to spare, bicycles are convenient and practical with everything being within a small distance.

We saw no cloaks and nobody walked around with a pile of books but you could feel the brains working as soon as you exited the coach. Even their pubs have an intellectual touch; one was named The Sir Isaac Newton! So affected was my friend that she started speaking in a ‘posh accent’ at the top of her voice, attracting stares by everyone that passed by.

They must really love Sir Isaac Newton in Cambridge because his mathematical bridge was pointed out to me by a rather enthusiastic student. It is a curious looking bridge and the story goes that Newton built it without the use of any screws, nails or bolts. It was taken down, however, when they tried to rebuild it the same way, they were unable to and had to fix the wood together with nails. Even Cambridge myths have an intellectual theme to them.

Newton's Mathematical Bridge

We were given a talk about the university and the application process and it was informative and frightening at the same time. I don’t feel completely discouraged, just a little nervous about the future. I learned that they don’t really care what you wear to an interview and that they will never ask you to define a banana. At least that’s what they want you to believe….they could just want to catch you off guard.

The admissions man was hilarious and told as that Oxford, their rivals, are a university whose existence they ignore; they are there but we do not talk about them. He labelled them the Voldemort of Cambridge University. I asked a student and she replied “what’s Oxford university?” Apparently, the main cause of this split is competition between sporting teams, particularly rowing and they feel extremely sore about their consecutive losses to their rivals.

I doubt I will ever apply to Cambridge University; my Daddy will miss me too much and there are plenty of universities here in the capital. I wouldn’t mind though, in fact, I think I would quite enjoy living on a campus and attending lectures. If I study medicine, my time at university will be much prolonged… I can’t wait!

I highly dislike…

I’m confused. I hate being confused, not knowing what’s next, not knowing what should be next or even what I want to be next. I like knowing where I’m headed, having a plan, organising it and going over it in my head until the plan is projected onto the inside of my eye lids. If I close my eyes, I want to see my plan. Uncertainty is not good, having too many uncertain options makes my head ache. The state of confusion is one of the least popular holiday destinations in my brain and I journey though it as quickly as I can.

I have to make decisions. I hate making decisions, making choices that can affect my entire life when there is hopefully so much of it left to affect. There are some things that you can’t turn back on, or if you do, their effects do not completely disappear. Choosing what to wear to school is hard enough, and I have a uniform!  Whose crazy idea was it to give teenagers the freedom to think and decide for themselves? Did they not realise the detrimental effects it would have on them? The stress? The anxiety? The moaning blog posts?

I have to listen to people’s advice. I hate listening to people’s advice, not because I don’t want or need it, but because I never know who to listen to. I hate not knowing who to listen to. When I give up trying to make those decisions, because I am confused and the uncertainty is giving me migraines and making me age faster, the people who I go to for advice all tell me different things. Some just tell me what they think I want to hear, others don’t give me a clear decision (do what you think is best) and the rest are more prone to changing my mind than I am! Nothing is more infuriating than being told to do what makes me happy or to follow my heart. My heart is no co-operating, it’s too busy beating.

A lot of hate for one blog post, don’t you think? No, I am not getting married and no, I am not blowing things out of proportion. If it makes it more credible, replace ‘hate’ with ‘highly dislike’.

I highly dislike applying to sixth forms. I highly dislike not knowing which school I want to go to. I highly dislike waiting for replies. Funnily enough, I quite enjoy going for interviews. I find it fun to talk to a stranger about myself and for them to at least pretend they are interested. However, that does not make up for my dislike towards the rest of the process.

So far, I have applied to five schools. The Royal Mail sent me back one application because it didn’t have enough postage. How was I supposed to know that stamps had different values or that you would ever need more than one? They don’t teach you such important life skills at school. I have received one offer and I do not highly dislike the school, neither does my mum, but my teachers advised me not to go there because they know of a few students that did not do as well as they expected.

I have also received a rejection, not in those exact words. They decided not to give me an offer, which is a diplomatic form of rejection. I am not fussed by it, it just means one more off my list. Another, probably my first choice, I will not hear from until April and even then, I have heard a few horror stories about it. Then, lastly, I applied to a grammar school with exceedingly high grades, which even if I do get accepted to, I may not decide to go to because the atmosphere does not seem very friendly and I do not want to spend any more years in a girls’ school. I’ve had enough of female ‘bitchiness’ as my mother calls it.

See my dilemma? I don’t know what to do. People are not telling me what to do. I am a teenager. Choices should be reserved until adulthood. Life should have a rewind button.

The hugging procession

Every single morning, it is customary in my class to walk into school and hug every girl lining our lockers’ corridor, starting, of course, with those nearer to you and moving along, skipping she who you may be arguing with.

I am well-known for not taking part. Fortunately, I am always the first to arrive which gives me great reason to avoid the ritual and when I am offered my daily hug, I am teased by my lack of enthusiasm and very minor co-operation. Apparently, I remain stiff and simply lean an inch forward. What can I say? I’m just not the hugging sort- I accept hugs (at times enjoy them) but I do not reciprocate the action. It is not a lack of confidence, just personal preference and laziness on my part.

However, my inability to hug does not make me an unfriendly or cold person, it just means that I express myself in a different way, through different means and with different body parts. So, today as my friend quickly dragged herself along the line of uniformed bodies, stopping and hugging, my turn came and as she opened up her tired arms for an habitual hug, I stuck out my hand and offered it for her shaking. I did the same for the next few people and was pleased to see my friendly handshake trending among a few other class mates.

My new initiative has come at an excellent time, what with all of us awaiting interviews for school admissions. A debate ensued on how to give the best, firm handshake and before I knew it, I was standing in a sea of interlocked hands. Apparently, I shake hands like a fairy; I am not yet sure if I should take offence but if I were to, the time has passed for a witty comeback.

Tomorrow, I will rebel against the hug and shake hands, as I will the next day and the day after that. This will continue until it becomes an established daily action and all around me do the same. It is hard to break such an old tradition but as soon as one person starts, others will follow and slowly, little by little, the shake will be school-wide!

Out with the hug! In with the shake!

My Life In a Box

Everyone’s got one and if you haven’t, now is a good a time as any. It’s a box, that is bigger on the inside but not in a science-fiction (Doctor Who!), kind of way, as it holds random objects that string together to tell your entire life story. They may be things that do not make sense to anybody else, like an inconsequential pencil, or they may be pretty self-explanatory, like a photograph, but every single item is a part of what makes you the person you are.

For a long time I’ve had a few objects lying around, waiting to be boxed, like sentimental treasure in a chest and today, whilst shopping in the jovial mood of the holiday season, I found what I was looking for. Ready-made and with no need to cut, paste or paint, it is the perfect vessel for my relatively short history and as I grow older and things start to speed up, I would like to be able to take a moment to sit down and escape into years past, compressed into long minutes.

To date, and in no particular order, my box includes:

  • A Barbie photo album that was given to me by a classmate when I was seven years old, as a going away gift after a year-long experience, living in Algeria. I can’t remember the girl but I have a whole class photograph in the first pocket and I know that she is in it. Forty children with the their arms neatly crossed, wearing school aprons, accompanied by a strict looking teacher who would shout at them daily, striking with her menacing cane.
  • A battered copy of “Adventures of the Wishing-Chair By Enid Blyton“. It was probably bought at a car-boot sale, it smells old and the pages are browning but that is only a sign that it has been used and loved.
  • An old retainer that is surprisingly odour-free in a small, neon orange box and a mold of my top jaw. Until last year, ever since the loss of my beautiful milk teeth, I had been cursed with the most crooked and crowded set of teeth unimaginable. Fortunately, thanks to years of NHS dental care, I can now smile with confidence although I still have to sleep with a set of see-through retainers.
  • A leopard print mask that my mum made me for our school sleepover by sticking a piece of felt on a plain mask. It looks a bit like a sleeping mask but all the girls loved it and thought that my mum was a crafty genius.
  • A folder full of certificates: academic awards, leadership course, BBC school report, contributions and three medals for collecting house-points. The one I most proud of and which I received three days ago is a Thank You certificate from Save the Children for fundraising. It was a class project; there are only seventeen of us and yet we managed to raise over £10,000, through a lot of hard work and pestering.
  • My very first passport. I must be a new-born in the picture as I was about two weeks old when I first travelled in an aeroplane.
  • A poem, entitled: Rhyming isn’t so bad. I don’t recall ever writing it and the handwriting is a bit different from my own, but it does seem familiar. I can imagine a 9-year old Yasmine proudly reciting it to anyone who would care to hear.
  • A small note from a Mexican woman called Diana, who stayed with us a few weeks. My mum met her through the internet and despite my fears that she would be an axe-murderer who would butcher me in my sleep, she was lovely and we had a great time showing her around London.
  • Two birthday cards from the same school friend, for the same birthday. One is homemade and the other is shop bought with the image of a monkey. They’re addressed Aphrodite, which is a name she sometimes calls me after a book character.
  • A Thank You card signed by every one I met during my work experience at a solicitors’ firm and the I.D card I wore.
  • Year 6 school report
  • 2005 class photo
  • Card paper, with the typed text, “my name is Yasmine- this is a picture of me”. Underneath, in a messy lopsided scrawl, is my younger self’s attempt and an unflattering drawing with no nose, jazz hands and a triangular-shaped body. According to my laid back mother, she was a pushy parent when I was little and I was sent off to nursery already being able to read off flashcards much to the teachers’ dismay.

My blog, as you can see by the links, is like my box. Many items, lead to a blog post and if I look back at it, I start to remember past events. However, in case of the unlikely demise of the internet, it is best to stick to something tangible.

I can see myself, 60 years into the future, revealing the contents of Grandma’s special box to an attentive audience, each item triggering a briefly forgotten memory and leading to a story, starting, “when I was younger…”

Do you have a memory box? No? Make one.