Monday, January 2, 2017

Question of the Month with Michael G. D'Agostino

... And I'm back after a nice (almost) month-long blogging break in which little work got done, but good holiday times were had. More on that when I rejoin Celebrate the Small Things this Friday. 

Today, Michael poses a rather serious question to kick off 2017: What was your "growing up" moment? For example, his moment was dealing with the aftermath of his parent's divorce. 

Image: Ashraf Selah

Instead of a moment, I'm going with a "growing up" year: my junior year of high school. There was no tragedy, no death, no first boyfriend break-up. Instead, I made a goal: a straight A report card. Why? First, my older sister was perfect (in my eyes) so I thought I should follow suit. Also, this was the year colleges would consider heavily. Since I was hopeless with any coarse that involved physical movement beyond opening books and writing, i.e. gym, typing, or computer science, I chose the following schedule:

AP History
AP Biology
German II
Chemistry II
Advanced English

Sounds like a hoot, doesn't it? These courses quickly became the homework-generating equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest. I'd come home and jump right in, take a break for dinner and washing dishes, followed by more studying until around ten or eleven at night. Similarly long sessions were needed every Saturday and Sunday. Total weekly homework time: six hours every day except Fridays. Six. Sadly, this is not an exaggeration. But, it was my choice. I picked the schedule. I wanted the As. 

The school year lasted 180 days, spanning late August to early June. When it was done, I had that straight A report card in my hand, but all I could think of was all the things that hadn't happened during that tortuous year. No movies seen with friends. No dates. No social activities of any kind. 

I remember sitting on our couch, peeling the paint off a pencil with my fingernails, relishing the fact that I was not studying anything for the moment. Movers were working around me, packing up the house as we were about to leave my home of eleven years for a new town. One mover winked at me and said, "I bet you're going to miss all your boyfriends, huh?" Considering the reality of my school experience, I just glared at him.

The upside? It was an endurance test and I passed. When big goals came up in the future, I would think back to this pivotal year and realize, that yes, I can do this: graduate college, get a job, go back to school for a Ph.D. in math, get another job, have a baby, raise this baby while pregnant and my husband is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and write a book.

Image: SBT4NOW

So, while I would not recommend this academic ironman experience, it has served me well. Click here to read about other's "growing" moments.


  1. As hard as that time was, as difficult as it was, it obviously made you stronger and tougher. :)

    Wishing you all the best for 2017!

  2. Sure shows what you can do when you put your mind to it. 6 hours a day though, damn that's a lot haha

  3. Wow, what a challenge to set for yourself. And to be successful! Gives you a wonderful foundation on which to stand and face other challenges.

  4. My daughter did that throughout high school and received a great academic scholarship. I know she can do whatever she wants and she does too. You are something special. Happy New Year.

  5. That sounds like a "touchstone year." I'm sure, as you mentioned above, that with each new challenge that came your way, you were able to tell yourself, "Remember when I made straight As for the first time?" Good for you.

  6. That is an extreme selection of classes. I think the harder ones are more motivating. I didn't get my first straight A's until my first semester in 11th grade and that was the toughest six classes of my career.

  7. Thank you so much for your kind words on my blog. I can see that you went pretty deep as well. A test in endurance is one I fear many adults would have trouble passing these days, but you did it and came out a better person. And what a life you've lived. Thanks for sharing this. It's enlightening.

  8. That took a lot of hard work an dedication to get all A's in a class load like that! I'm sure the discipline you learned doing that has served you well throughout your life.

  9. You had a lot on your plate that junior year! Those A's are something to be very proud of. If you can do that, you can do anything! Happy 2017.

  10. That's a good list of courses, in particular the math, and the German too. I used to be quite good a speaking German when I was younger (I haven't practiced much recently), but I didn't worry too much about the grammar. Some of it was rediculous, for instance the "hypotetishes konjunktiv"; "wenn die Haifische Menschen wären" and stuff like that. I never bothered to learn it properly >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  11. Your junior year sounds a bit like my sophomore year! I had such a rough time academically, because my boneheaded guidance counselor insisted I take certain courses and then not drop ones I was struggling in. He made me stay in Regents-level chemistry and Course II (geometry) classes, when I would've had such an easier time in grade-level classes. (At least at that time, our school had honors, Regents, grade, and school levels.) As it turned out, I left NY after that year and didn't get the almighty Regents diploma anyway, so it wouldn't have mattered if I had dropped down to grade-level. Those tough classes meant I even failed my AP European History class in the first two semesters, since I wasn't able to put all my focus on my best subject.

  12. Wow, that was a hefty schedule. I took some AP classes, too, but I don't think I ever had 6 hours of homework every day. It's awesome that you were able to get those straight A's!

  13. Yikes! The closest work load I've had to that was during my sophomore year of college with 12 total credit hours of western civilization history and literature. It sounds like it was a good growing experience for you.

  14. That sounded like a challenging school year. I hope you had study groups and homework groups to work with! Good job with getting the As.

  15. That's a very important lesson in general. While it's important to set goals and strive to reach them, it's also important to LIVE!


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