When America Realized Science Was Cool

When America Realized Science Was Cool

The eclipse was spectacular, wasn't it?
Jessica
Jessica
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This past week, a solar eclipse came across the continental United States, and 14 states saw the eclipse from their own backyards. I, too, was in my yard, with eclipse glasses, watching the two orbs slowly cross paths. The excitement I saw from acquaintances, friends, and family members leading up to the eclipse, however, kind of baffled me. I had a feeling people would be interested in the eclipse, but having a pair of eclipse glasses was literally akin to dealing drugs - if someone found out you had an extra, they would go out of their way to get it and offer you money for it. I should know - because this happened to me on Monday, the day of the eclipse. A love of science and a feeling of compassion led me to staying home an extra 45 minutes before I ran pre-eclipse errands just to ensure a random young woman got her eclipse glasses. And she was getting them from me.

She had frantically messaged me asking if I could give her a pair. She offered me money, even. She wanted to repay me, but in reality, I am not sure anyone could ever repay me. If I had a 1,000 pairs of eclipse glasses, I still would have given them out for free, but no amount of money could possibly give me something in return. In the days leading up to the eclipse, I was so much as directing people where to buy them or what they could do if they didn't get a pair.

But, still, I would be lying if I didn't say I was baffled. This whole thing was very surreal to me - and not because I saw the eclipse. For a moment, more than once, I was utterly confused. I was confused by the young woman who so desperately wanted to get glasses. I was confused by the hoardes of people standing outside their homes and businesses, looking up to the sky with or without glasses, vying for even a short glimpse of the eclipse. I was baffled by that someone was thanking me profusely for knowing what I was talking about. I was seen as an authority.

It wasn't always that way.

It's so weird because I need you to picture what being nerdy used to be like. Being nerdy and enthusiastic and happy to learn about science isn't what it is now. Schoolkids were taken outside to see the eclipse with teachers and aides. Parents went out of their way to find a live stream so they could tell their kids all about it. Science was abound. Science is cool.

When I was a kid in school, I was the nerdy kid. The very same people vying for eclipse glasses were family friends of the people who, on a daily basis, put a target on my back for loving science. The very same people who were vying for eclipse glasses were the family - mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins - of the people who, every day, made dinosaur noises in the cafeteria, as I sat alone in the corner, listening as groups of people mocked my interests. The same people who wanted eclipse glasses were the teachers and principals who did nothing, who let people stomp all over my passion, and let me sit in a corner every lunch period. Who let me not eat my sandwich. Who let me cry into my own arms in 5th grade, playing alone every recess - because nobody else wanted to be there.

The very same people vying for eclipse glasses could have been the people who drove me to the corner of the playground every day.

The young woman who wanted the glasses this afternoon ultimately led me to a choice. Do I take it out on the world? Do I decide to say "I told you so"? Do I decide to spit in the faces of the collective society who decided to let all of that happen? Who, in general, stood by idly, watching me writher in pain every day, retreating more and more, taking solace in my dinosaurs, weather, and rocks? After all, rocks won't judge you.

It seems not. And that's why I could never be repaid. Being kind when people are asking me scientific advice or help, are just making them more like me. And the nerdy kid won't become what you were.

Hopefully, with the eclipse, they've all seen the light, literally and metaphorically. I truly have no desire to speak to these people, not now, not ever - but I can only hope they've had a change of heart. It's nice that there's a kid in school who's being encouraged to look at the sky, the ground, and the world around him or her and wonder. It's nice that science is now seen as something widely accepted and interesting. Science is no longer the weird kid thing.

But if anyone knows it hasn't always been this way, it's me. The misfits, the freaks, and the weird kids have done a lot to get us there, no matter where they ended up.

As for the girl who wanted the glasses, I gave them to her. I didn't take her money. She told me she wanted to give me something back, and she did just by making my younger self feel a little less weird. I told her to just enjoy the eclipse and that was enough.

You can make it up to people like me by saying thanks to a nerd, and I'm sorry, if applicable.

After all, you might have gotten eclipse glasses from one.



Cover Image Credit: Pacificsciencecenter.org

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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The Reality Of Cat Shows

Go in with an open mind, because cat shows may seem totally bizarre, but are incredibly fun and special.

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As a self-declared cat lady, when I decided to attend my first cat show I was hyped to pet all the kitties, and watch them do tricks, or show off their beauty. After attending a few, I know they're totally unique and amazing events that everyone should be attending.

Upon arriving, you will probably need to pay an entry fee, and maybe there's an area for donations for local animal shelters (yes, animal breeders support animal shelters!). You might be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of cats, as far as the eye can see. Having a game plan of cats to visit might seem fun, but just roaming and visiting is a lot more fulfilling, and you may discover breeds of cats you never knew you would love. Usually, cat shows will feature visiting areas for guests attending the show to view, and sometimes pet, the cats. As well as areas where cats are judged and given awards, sort of like miniature stages.

Visitor areas are pretty self-explanatory as you can roam around and look at the dozens of different breeds, of kittens and cats alike. The diversity will amaze you and the cats are all special and loved by their owner. Because cats can catch sicknesses while surrounded by so many other cats, it's important to sanitize your hands before petting, as well as asking the owner if you can pet their cat or kitten. Some may even let you hold their cat, but this would be rare and you shouldn't get your hopes up! While viewing cats, you may find some that are up for adoption and could find a new family member. Some cats are actually people's household pets, and are scored differently from a cat who was bred for its looks!

The competition side is where the cat shows get interesting. You can view any and all competitions, although there will be many occurring at a time. That's because cats will initially be ranked against the cats of the same breed as them, and within those breeds, by gender and color style. Winning best in the breed is the first step to becoming the champion of a cat show. Watch as owners get nervous and excited as the tiny plastic awards go up, showing which cat was victorious. Although all judges can be different, it's fun to see beautiful and friendly cats win awards and look pleased with themselves as their owner smiles with pride.

Later in the day or weekend, one cat will be chosen as the grand champion out of the best in breeds. Usually, fans can vote on their favorite as well, and award a special cat a top prize, although unofficial, for its cuteness and spirit. A hairless cat has won fan favorite at every show I attended!

Go in with an open mind, because cat shows may seem totally bizarre, but are incredibly fun and special. The group of people who participate will love to tell you about their amazing cat and let you in on cat show secrets. A place where cat lovers unite, what could be better?

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