A Study of High School | Fiction

Today’s lesson will cover the fascinating human subculture of ‘high school’ in our continuing study of life on Earth. In the geographical location labeled “America” on your Earth maps, high school is a rite of passage for offspring. Through extensive observation, we have recorded many intriguing behaviors in this collection of young humans.

A Study in Self Destruction

A near-universal element of high school life is the Pseudo-Telepathic Prism, known as the ‘cell phone’ on Earth. The Prism is a rudimentary enhancement meant to compensate for the shortcomings of the human body, which include limited knowledge and an inability to receive or transmit telepathic communication. The Prism appears to be permanently attached to these young humans’ hands. Removal of a Prism is possible but excruciating, so it rarely occurs.

This is a beautiful example of a species causing its own demise. Giving a human creation the power to destroy humanity was the greatest mistake in human history.

Exhibit A: The Death of Social Interaction

The Prism limits social interaction, which is apparently necessary for continued human existence. We noticed that during the scheduled Feeding and Watering of young humans, many interact with their Prisms instead of each other. Prisms are clever in their thievery. Like consuming ash that looks and tastes like food, Prisms trick humans into believing that texting (which is pseudo-telepathy with written language and pictograms) and Snapchat (the details of which our anthropologists have yet to discover) are filling their daily quota for social interaction while the void of loneliness leisurely devours them. Dissections of young humans have shown there are miniature black holes inside many of them.

Exhibit B: A Scarcity of Self Esteem

The parasitic Prism has an efficient energy source: the self-esteem of its hosts. Self-esteem is the inflated idea humans hold of themselves. It often overestimates self-importance and underestimates or denies the uncaring nature of the universe, but self-esteem may be a kind fantasy. It has been found that high levels of self-esteem are necessary for continued human existence. The Pseudo-Telepathic Prism drains self-esteem. Humans use Prisms in a misguided attempt to fulfill their requirement for social interaction, but the more they use the Prism, the more their self-esteem level drops, removing natural protections and allowing the Prism to siphon self-esteem at exponential rates, making itself more vibrant and attractive and further absorbing the human in a vicious, inescapable cycle. It has been found that lower self-esteem levels correlate with more massive interior black holes.

Exhibit C: Oblivion

The use of Prisms leaves humans in a state we call ‘Oblivion’ where all consciousness is absorbed by the Prism, leaving them weak and vulnerable to any outside factors. This can lead to some amusing situations. For example, one of our anthropologists witnessed one young human so absorbed in their Prism while walking in the high school’s transport channel that they unknowingly stepped in a repulsive bodily fluid that recently exited the feeding hole of another nearby young human. The anthropologists wrote an exciting paper about this particular situation, which I am assigning for tonight’s reading. The Prism frequently leads to more deadly scenarios as well. Death by transport vehicle is a common occurrence among young humans. Even unfettered by the Prism, humans lack the concentration necessary to properly control these unwieldy high-speed beasts, but they still usually arrive at their destinations unscathed and unaware of the fragility of life. When focus is crippled by Prisms, however, humans are overconfident in their control and infantile in their ability to steer. The transport vehicle is piloted only by the blind hands of chance.

Anthropologists predict that it will be the individual destruction caused by the Pseudo-Telepathic Prism that will lead to the inevitable doom of the human race, not climate change or nuclear warfare or asteroids or any other event of mass destruction that humans are so concerned about. Destruction by Prism is slow and stealthy. It leaves its victims existing, but not alive. We watch raptly as humans tear themselves apart. Let them be a reminder of why we minimize self-destructive behaviors through careful surveillance.

A student has just telepathically asked why humans are worried about climate change since it isn’t real. For those of you not taking Interterrestrial Studies, we will provide context: we are certain that climate change will not destroy Earth because it is actually a conspiracy begun by our subterranean allies, the Martians, to persuade humans to flee their planet, giving the Martians an easy invasion. In contrast to popular human belief, Mars is a wasteland not because of climate change, but because of nuclear warfare prompted by mass destruction caused by a stray asteroid. We are, of course, very supportive of the Martians’ endeavor and encourage their quest for a new home because we are tired of them leeching our resources.

The College Admissions Committee and Competitive Bubble-Filling

The humans of high school live under the glaring eyes and iron fists of the College Admissions Committee (CAC). CAC is similar to The Dictator of the Highly Advanced Alien Species in this way. (Long rule The Dictator with a brutal, merciful hand. May many flowers bloom under her rule and may she crush the airways of all who oppose her.)

The anthropologists discovered that CAC lives in the clouds at the peak of a mountain in an ominous castle. They scrutinize and judge the behavior of human youth through their ‘college applications,’ which is a document that contains the essence of a human in various numerical measures of competency and brief written statements that measure the adequacy of one’s personality. CAC uses these “apps” to determine whether human youth are worthy of a successful life. With a bored wave of their hands, the fates of humans are charted, their destinies immutable. With their futures resting in the unpredictable hands of the committee, human youth accordingly conduct every thought and action with CAC at the forefront of their minds to increase their probability of completing the predetermined course to success.

Unlike our Supreme Leader, CAC cannot directly control the thoughts or behaviors of their subjects. Nonetheless, they exert heavy influence. Humans will often choose to study subjects that will “look good on their college apps” instead of something they are passionate about or join many extracurriculars they do not like to increase the value of the numerical measures of competency on their college applications. The All-Powerful Overlord endorses this influence because it stimulates altruistic volunteerism and encourages mind-expanding behaviors. Some anthropologists meekly argue that the oversight of CAC results in a dispassionate generation of humans, floating half-asleep through life doing what is expected and eager for short-cuts. We must pray that the Mighty Ruler has enough forgiveness for these divergent anthropologists and their airways remain minimally intact.

An important numerical measure of competency on college applications is one’s proficiency in competitive bubble-filling. Multiple times during an Earth year, human high schoolers around the country gather in grand, drafty chambers to participate in the national bubble-filling competition. This competition appears to be a test of which humans can sit silently for the longest time and arbitrarily fill the most bubbles on a paper array of circles. Humans who fill the most bubbles correctly according to a predetermined pattern are deemed to be more competent and more likely to be successful than their peers who were not able to properly color in the correct bubbles.

Suggestions for human improvement: Monitor thoughts carefully with telepathy to determine the most competent humans, not the most successful bubble-fillers.

Worship of the Educational Institution

Worship of the Educational Institution, or ‘school spirit,’ is the subtle process of fostering solidarity among humans of one high school and encouraging animosity between different high schools (especially with ‘rivals,’ which require more animosity than what’s typically needed). Worship of the Educational Institution, however, is not as volatile as other manifestations of blind devotion because it is theoretically contained to competitive activities, especially organized physical exertion, or ‘sports.’

Humans are very emotionally invested in organized physical exertion. It usually consists of two globs of humans fighting over a sometimes-spherical object that is not useful, cannot be eaten, and has no monetary value. If one glob succeeds in moving the object to a specific location despite the attempts of the opposing glob to prevent this event, then one-half of the spectators will scream wildly to expel their extreme positive emotions. Our anthropologists are uncertain why chasing spherical objects elicits such a massive response among humans who are not directly involved in the success of the glob in the pointless exercise of moving a sometimes-spherical object to a particular location. We have no plausible hypothesis either.

Because victory of a chosen glob in organized physical exertion is so important to human happiness, humans enjoy proving their devotion to their chosen sports glob. Dedication to a young human’s high school is intertwined with dedication to their high school’s sports globs. This leads to the concept of ‘pep’ or ‘spirit,’ which is the outward demonstration of devotion to a high school and their sports globs. Pep often takes the form of coordinating daily color variations in skin coverings, loudly expelling positive emotion, participating in embarrassing games, or other normally socially unacceptable activities. Pep is a “voluntary” behavior, as humans who choose not to participate are seen as disloyal, uncommitted, or an outsider.

The Great Leader seeks to implement pep among our species in global pep assemblies so we may better display our unwavering loyalty to her Mightiness. Please open your telepathy to Global Communications in one week for further details.

A Sense of Doom

Our anthropologists noticed that humans in high school tend to be very ‘stressed.’ This is a human emotional state that could be described as a buzzing background tone of constant low-grade fear. It is akin to the feeling of increased pressure when our arm-vents are submerged in water. In human youth, stress results in raised pitch in verbal communication, frantic arm flapping, restlessness, a shortening of the distance between the eyebrows, a deficiency in logical reasoning, etc.

Anthropologists hypothesized that stress is highly contagious because it is a widespread condition among humans and the frantic hand waving and raised pitch seemed to jump from person to person. To confirm their hypothesis, anthropologists worked with botanists to create the Human Emotion Detecting Flower by modifying the Highly Advanced Alien Emotion Detecting Flower (used to monitor our species for adequate emotion levels). The anthropologists dispersed this microscopic feat of biological engineering in the air, free to be breathed in by humans and to send all data to the anthropologists telepathically. The results were fascinating. The plants not ingested by humans, the ones left floating in the air, also detected high levels of stress. This means that stress does not go neatly through undetectable threads, like verbal communication; instead, humans exude stress in clouds from their pores. These clouds are then absorbed by other humans, causing them to discharge more stress, perpetuating this cycle.

As stress is such an unpleasant feeling, humans expend a great deal of energy attempting to alleviate it. There are generally two methods to do so. The first method evolves from the hypothesis that stress can be assuaged by removing the source of stress. In practice, this involves attempts to frantically complete all work before enjoying oneself. However, to-do lists stretch indefinitely and work is never complete. In fact, the amount of work increases with available time so there is rarely excess time for enjoyable activities. This method of relieving stress tends to increase it; however, humans who follow this method of constant efficiency and vigilance are deemed to have a ‘strong work ethic’ are applauded for their stress-perpetuating behaviors. The second method, ‘procrastination,’ involves spending maximum time doing enjoyable activities before completing work frantically in a brief window of time. In theory, this minimizes stress most of the time at the cost of enduring incomprehensible amounts of stress for relatively short periods. However, it has been found that procrastination actually induces more stress on account of the procrastination itself, resulting in stress all the time regardless. This is because procrastination is generally seen as socially unacceptable and irresponsible. As both methods of reducing stress are ineffective, we conclude that stress is unavoidable.

Homework

Adult humans are encouraged not to bring work home and to not let work interfere with their “actual” lives (we are uncertain if this is merely a myth or if people truly follow this suggestion). Young humans, in contrast, are required to bring their school work home. Human youth will frequently spend all of their “free time” frenziedly completing their homework and drowning in a sea of paper. Homework often causes sleep deprivation and stimulates the expansion of stress clouds. There are no detectable health benefits to homework.

Anthropologists hypothesize that the discrepancy in ideology between the homework of adult humans and young humans is due to the common belief that unoccupied human youth will entertain their bored minds with unscrupulous behaviors, such as defacing property, throwing raucous parties, absorbing toxic substances, being public nuisances, committing petty theft, or participating in other general misdemeanors. Incredible amounts of homework are assigned to human youth in order to protect the world from their undeveloped moral compasses (which are literal compasses located in the left ankle of fully-grown humans) until they can tentatively be released into the world as adults responsible enough to correctly select socially acceptable behaviors for their free time.

A similar concept is expressed in our species in the grueling thirty-six hours a day feral criminals spend painting rocks to look like beetles for the Earth collection of the World Museums in our behavioral reeducation program. Without any time to conduct illegal or immoral acts, our global crime rate has become almost nonexistent and our World Museums are overflowing with delightful fake beetles.

Sleep Deprivation and Exhaustion

A common condition among human high schoolers, usually caused by homework, is sleep deprivation. Unlike ourselves, humans are required to spend a third of their day in unproductive unconsciousness. Humans seem to despise sleep for its hefty time requirement and love it for staving off sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is an unpleasant state where a human’s sight organs droop closed against their will, their limbs flop about limply, they drift into stupors, and they cannot focus. We believe that humans need the quiet darkness of sleep for a plant, a type of moss, to grow in their sight organs, limbs, and cognitive structures. This symbiotic relationship between moss and human provides the support necessary for humans to function properly. However, it wears down over the day with use, resulting in sagging sight organs, noodly limbs, and a lagging thought process. Even so, the moss theory is a hot topic in the anthropology world. It has not yet been proven by our dissections, although we think that the state of death may inhibit humans’ ability to produce the plants. We plan to conduct live dissections next month to settle this debate.

Sleep deprivation often results in sub-par productivity. Human youth appear to be trapped in a self-sabotaging cycle of skipping sleep to complete homework, reducing their efficiency the following day so they must once more stay up late, perpetuating sleep deprivation. They seem to have a silly notion that one can “catch up” on sleep later as if it were a ‘television show.’ However, one cannot shore up their moss past maximum moss levels to save for a busy day. Moss restoration is required every day and is good for the following day only.

Sleep-deprived humans often crave coffee and tea, which contain a stimulant called ‘caffeine’ that protects against sleep deprivation. We hypothesize that caffeine masks sleep deprivation by temporarily buffering the plant scaffolding in humans. Our anthropologists experimented with caffeine and found that dousing our skin in caffeine may cause pleasant hallucinations of unknown, indescribable colors diffusing through the atmosphere and drifting clumps of puffy fluff because of its unique interactions with our Highly Advanced Alien physiology. This discovery, while fascinating in the realm of science, has had devastating effects on our species as a whole. With the increased popularity of caffeine among our population, there has been rampant smuggling of tea and coffee from Earth since we have not yet been able to synthesize the compound in our labs. The smugglers risk exposure and the endangerment of our entire race. In addition, caffeine may be dangerous. With this mysterious Earthly compound being so new, its long-term effects on our health have not been adequately studied. We cannot confirm whether or not caffeine is safe for Highly Advanced Aliens. We insist you avoid any contact with caffeine before research is complete and to report any caffeine users in your family or community to trusted officials for immediate nutritional reeducation.

Suggestions for human improvement: Hire another human to sleep for oneself, then surgically transplant their moss stores to one’s own body, eliminating the need for sleep.

Agenda for Future Lessons

We will continue our discussion of these fascinating creatures for the following month, after which we will move on to the microscopic civilized societies of Europa’s oceans in our ongoing study of other lifeforms in the Milky Way galaxy. Please get your permission slips for the human dissection next week signed. We will identify liquid stress, the source of gaseous stress clouds. For tonight’s homework, in addition to the reading, please prepare two suggestions for human improvement and reflect on what our species can learn from humanity’s errors.


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What if the Day Were Eight Hours Longer?

Time is, unfortunately, limited. There is only so much you can have. It is also elusive. The slippery thing always seems to slip through your slippery fingers, doesn’t it? There never seems to be enough to go around.

They say you can make time, but can you, really? You can only rearrange time, redistribute it. Imagine that time is a carrot cake. You can give adequate slices to some, slivers to the undesirables, and crumbs to the vermin, but you still only have one cake, or twenty-four hours, to give away. If you need more time for something, you have to cut the time from something else. And unfortunately, things must be prioritized and it’s usually the things you enjoy that you find yourself having no time for.

But what if you could make more time? What if you could bake another cake? What if some gifted magician out there concentrated really hard and snapped his fingers and the day was suddenly, magically, twelve hours longer?

I was listening to a podcast, Ear Biscuits, the other day that posed this question. What if the day had an extra twelve hours? There are some stipulations: You wouldn’t need to sleep any longer and you wouldn’t have to work more. So if you truly had extra time, what would you do?

First of all, even though we don’t have to, I’d sleep more. Because couldn’t we all use some more sleep? The world would be a much happier place if only we weren’t all sleep deprived.

Second, though, I have no idea. There’s a difference between what I’d probably do and what I want to do.

In all honesty, if I had extra time, I’d most likely just work more. I’m like a goldfish, the amount of work I do expands with available time. (Note: The things about goldfish expanding with available space is a myth, but let’s just go with it because I like the analogy.) Even if I ran out of work, I’d probably find more. There’s an endless list of things I could do in order to be more productive. I could double-check my assignments, I could do the next day’s homework, I could study for the test in three weeks, I could read ahead, etc. That’s just how I roll.

However, since this is a purely hypothetical situation that can’t actually happen, let’s talk about the things I’d want to do. I’d probably just do more of the things I already do in my (rare) free time. Ergo, I’d read, write, blog, and draw more. I might even spend time with actual, real-life human beings instead of conversing with my textbooks. (I wouldn’t recommend them as partners in conversation. They’re very dull, very dry, they have poor taste in humor, and they only talk obsessively about one topic.) I might take up a new hobby, go on an adventure, who knows? I’d really like to have time to just sit and think (aka daydream) and people watch. (People can be really entertaining.)

So, in conclusion, this year, I’m going to try to be more efficient at doing my homework and I’m going to attempt to not go overboard with the amount I work, all in order to create free time. Think of it like I’m concentrating my work into a smaller sliver of time, without diluting the quality, somehow. (Except it’s not really true that it’s my New Year’s Resolution. I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. I think if you have a goal or some plan for self-improvement, you shouldn’t wait for the New Year as an excuse to start. That seems a bit like procrastinating. Make your goal happen now. And besides, New Year’s Resolutions are notorious for never being kept anyway. My goal isn’t really a New Year’s Resolution. It’s a goal I’ve had since October, but one I’ve utterly failed at. I just thought I should tie in this post to the New Year somehow because I didn’t want yet another holiday to pass by without acknowledgement.)

And what would you do, dear nonexistent reader, if you suddenly found twelve extra hours plopped into your hands?

Where did you go?

Greetings, peoples of the blogosphere!

It’s been a rather long while, hasn’t it? But don’t worry about me; I haven’t spontaneously combusted or anything, in case you were wondering. Instead, I’ve been slowly drowning in an expansive ocean of homework, from which I couldn’t reach my laptop in order to ensure you that I was, in fact, alive. I did, however, possess an abundance of paper and various writing utensils, so I attempted to write you a letter notifying you that I remained in existence, as I’d hate to worry you. But you know the unreliability of leaving notes in bottles. *Shrugs*.

But while you need not worry about the state of my aliveness, I’m afraid you must fear for my humanity, as recently I’ve felt as though I’m simply a homework robot.

With the semester ending, school has gotten very intense, and unfortunately, when you never seem to have enough time, it’s the things you enjoy doing that must be cut out. I’m afraid that school will not be getting any mellower with midterms approaching, so expect sporadic, unpredictable, and unanticipatable blogging. (Apologies for using three adjectives in a row that mean the same thing. It usually annoys me, but I couldn’t help but highlight the delightful contradiction of expecting the unexpected. It makes me simply giddy.)

I’m planning to post once a week for a while. Probably until mid-January. Most likely on Mondays.

So, that’s it for this mishmash of a post summarizing the last 27 days without you peeps (A Summary of a Summary: homework.).

In conclusion, abrupt goodbyes.

A Rambling About the Purpose of Breathing and Mashed Potatoes

Welcome back to A Stream of Random Thoughts, where I will use a random word generator to generate a random word. After which I will say whatever crosses my mind!

Doesn’t that sound like fun? That sounds like a ton of fun!

Aren’t you EXCITED?!

(Can you tell by my tone that I have once again done WAY too much homework? I’m doing this while I’m trying to figure out my physics in the back of my head. It’s somewhere back there. It just has to emerge as the correct answer.)

So today’s word is…

SNIFF

 

What a wonderful word! I was thinking today, as I was walking down the hallway of my school, preparing to acquire more homework (aka, go to class), that some words are pretty because of what they mean, like bunny or happy or clover, and some are pretty because of the way they sound, like grotesque or ubiquitous or arbitrary.

bunny. happy. clover.

grotesque. ubiquitous. arbitrary.

I AM SENSING SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THESE WORDS.

My mind has exploded. You peeps must be wiping brain matter from your computer screens. Because that’s how it works. My brain explodes on THIS side of the computer, and my brain matter ends up on THAT side. (Look how connected we are. We’re friends. *Warm squishy feels*.) If only it worked like that. Then I could just reach through and steal all the cookies you guys bake without me. *pouts*

My brain is a mush. Bleh. Blech. Blah.

Blech is my favorite.

Has it occurred to you that I haven’t talked about the word sniff yet? So I was planning to go back around in a giant magical circle, but I got sidetracked because, with only slight exaggeration, my brain is a LITERAL MUSH. Bleh. Blech. Blah.

I’m breaking all the grammar rules with these fragment sentences and run-ons and WeIrd cAPitiliZAtions.

Hold on, my friend is texting me about the physics. She said my lab report was fine the way it was. She’s the second person who’s told me that. BUT I LOVE TO WORRY.

Well, back to sniffing. You sniff— I forgot about the magical circle!

Okay. I had to go figure out more physics and help Scorpion with math homework. But I’m back! And so is the magical circle.

But then I left again to wash my hands.

At this point, you guys probably think that the magical circle is way cooler than it actually is. It’s not. I hate to crush your hopes and dreams. I was just going to say that sniff is not pretty at all. It doesn’t mean a pretty thing and it doesn’t sound pretty either.

Sniff, in my opinion, is a rather annoying sound. That great inhalation. The even worse exhalation that comes afterward. Why do people even need to breath? That constant exchange of breath. Yeah, I just breathed in the air that was just INSIDE YOUR LUNGS, random stranger that I’m sitting next to on the airplane. I hate airplanes. And don’t even get me started on sneezing.

I’m just generally against most bodily functions. Blech.

Am I spouting weird mind-thoughts, peeps? My brain is a literal mush. Mushy mushy mush. Like a caveman mashed potato. You, dear reader, might be questioning the random caveman thrown in there. I am too. I don’t know, that’s what my brain decided to think when I actually meant MASHED POTATO. I pictured a mashed potato while I said a caveman.

That’s right. Welcome to my brain, where a mashed potato is a caveman.

How do you mash your potatoes, dear reader? (I always spell potato wrong, in its singular form. I always add an extra e.) Do you buy the boxed powder? Do you imagine the potato as the head of your enemy and aggressively throw it off of a tall building? Do you wash your hands thoroughly, imagine the potato as the head of your enemy, and destroy it bare-handed?

Do you, dear reader, believe that I need more sleep?