that was actually the rough draft of a personal essay i had to write for class

Sprezzatura

Remember forever ago when @gettzi posted that great art of Nursey and his ballerina sister and I said I also headcanoned him with a ballerina sister because I had a whole thing about him and the concept of sprezzatura, which I learned in ballet class and therefore so did he? I finally wrote it.

[Now also on AO3 with both parts in one fic.]


There was a period of about two years, back when Derek was just starting middle school, when he spent two afternoons a week, every week, doing his homework in the corner of his sister’s ballet studio. At first it was because their nanny didn’t have time to drop him off before Naimah had to be at her class, and once they were at the studio, it made far more sense to just stay until her class was over and then head back home together. Derek didn’t mind, did he? He totally minded. It was lame and stupid and… actually kind of beautiful…

Maybe he didn’t mind. Maybe, even after the drop off scheduling conflict cleared up, he still found a reason it would be more convenient for him to go.

He soaked up a a lot of random stuff in those two years. A bunch of ballet French. An instinctive need to count things in eights. An affinity for waltz timing that would serve him well in later ballroom dance situations. An automatic need to correct his posture anytime he thought about a puppet string extending through his core and out the top of his head. And the concept of sprezzatura.

One thing he loved about sitting in the corner was that it was kind of like getting to look behind the curtain. Or at the inner workings of a clock. Ballet took work. And then it all came together.

“Girls,” called the teacher, clapping her hands twice for attention. “Girls, ballet is about grace. We are about to go into the annual performance. We are to give to the audience sprezzatura. I want the appearance of effortless beauty. You are there to present art. The choreography, the music, it should flow through you. The audience is not interested in how many times you had to practice that phrase across the floor. They are only interested in the final result. Your goal is to make it look both flawless and easy.”

He looked it up later and discovered it wasn’t really a ballet term at all. The dictionary just defined it as “studied carelessness,” but Wikipedia gave more background:

Sprezzatura [sprettsaˈtuːra] is an Italian word originating from Baldassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier, where it is defined by the author as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it”.[1] It is the ability of the courtier to display “an easy facility in accomplishing difficult actions which hides the conscious effort that went into them”.[2]

(Of course, it might have been helpful if he’d also noticed and remembered the following line as well:

Sprezzatura has also been described “as a form of defensive irony: the ability to disguise what one really desires, feels, thinks, and means or intends behind a mask of apparent reticence and nonchalance”.[3]

But that was an issue for the future.)

Keep reading

Part 2 of the Heading to College Series! This part covers advice for actually applying to college! Talks about choosing colleges, organizing your apps, actually applying, and other general tips!! Enjoy~

Choosing Colleges: Academics

  • If you have an idea of what you think your career path will be, check out college rankings to get an idea of the colleges you should look into! (US News etc.)
  • Look at the stats for the colleges you’re interested in, so GPA and test scores of those who applied to their schools and those who get in
  • Break schools up into 3 categories: Reach/Dream, Match, and Safety. Reach schools are the ones you REALLY want to go to but maybe your numbers don’t cut it. Match schools are the ones whose admittance records match your own; these are the ones you’ll likely get into. Safety schools are ones where your numbers surpass or are on the higher end of those who get admitted.

Choosing Colleges: Location

  • But academics aren’t everything! Look at the location of schools too as well as the atmosphere and type of focus their students have (chill, competitive, party etc.)
  • I can’t stress on location enough make sure you’re comfortable with the distance all the schools you’re applying to are to your home.
  • Location is also important in terms of the sort of opportunities available in the area. Like, if you’re going to major in Comp Sci, you want to make sure there are CS internships and stuff around the area you’re in. 

College App Personal Statements

  • Make sure your voice comes through, these essays are how the admissions people get a feel of the sort of student you’d be on their campus and the contributions you’d make
  • First personnnnnnn; brag man this is your sales pitch for yourself
  • Keep in mind that those people read thousands of applications, so make yours enjoyable to read
  • You don’t need to write as much as you can, go for quality over quantity
  • Make each college you right for think they’re your dream school. Even if it’s a safety.
  • Remember, you want to go to college but colleges don’t necessary want you. Change their minds.
  • You’re most likely going to write a ton of rough drafts before settling on “The One”; say what you mean and mean what you say!!
  • Sometimes/Most times your senior English class will review statements in class. Get as many revisions from your teacher as you can!

Organization and Time Management

  • Make a spreadsheet listing all the admission due dates for all the schools you plan to apply to. Check it as often as possible. Check out Part 3 of the Heading to College Series for a few downloadable spreadsheets I made!
  • Try to get things done a week or at least a couple of days before deadlines. Give yourself that buffer and you’ll thank yourself when all your friends are writing last minute personal statements.
  • The Common App does sometimes crash/get super slow right before midnight so don’t wait that long!!
  • Know the difference between Early Decision and Early Action. ED is binding so if you get in, you gotta go. It’s strongly recommended to only do on ED school. Most chose a reach bc “there’s less competition” than regular apps but tbh I don’t think the difference is that great. Do your own research specific to the schools you’re interested in! Early Action isn’t binding and you chose to go or not go on the normal date of May 1st.

After Apps

  • Relax!!!! This is the time for you to enjoy hs!
  • Just stay on top of your grades
  • Senioritis is real just fyi
  • Make sure you thank your hs counselor and rec letter writers! They do not get paid for the extra time they put into writing those recs!!!! Show them some love. Gift cards, brownies… anything you can manage for a heartfelt thank you!

Other Tips!

  • If you really wanna push yourself, there are some private college counselors in various areas that you could look into. They are expensive but since this is their only job, they may be able to better help you. They’re also worth looking into if you feel like your hs counselors aren’t being helpful enough (one that comes to mind in CA at least is Elite Ed. Inst.)
  • Check out the social media accounts of the schools you’re interested in!
  • Cappex is a great site to see where you stand for colleges (but still not completely accurate!!)
  • College Confidential is great to see more personal summaries of student who’ve gotten into schools, ask questions, and discover questions you didn’t even know you had!
  • Community college is a great option: saves you a ton of $$$, statistically easier to transfer into universities, less focus on any unfavorable high school grades or something, more time to figure out your path, some schools have pipelines with public colleges
  • If you’re going to get financial aid, the FAFSA opens January of your starting year. 
  • Periodically talk to your hs counselor to make sure you’re on track

More Heading to College Masterposts!

anonymous asked:

I think that Neil would have a hard time with some of his classes, since life on the run probably wasn't great for school and he does more sleeping on his textbooks than reading them. Andrew passes everything easily because of his memory and even though he could care less about school he starts helping Neil study

so i’ve definitely discussed this here (X) with hazel and @imjustababy and it went in a very particular direction ;) 

in any case, i 100% agree with this headcanon. we already know from the text that neil is struggling with his classes because he took an overbearing course-load at first. i wouldn’t be surprised if that rough start sets the tone for a lot of his early studies. 

neil has always been a student of survival - he picks his major according to what would most help him on the run. he considers school as a means to an end in order to play exy. neil starts school around 13 – his mother taught him all he needed to know until then, and he had no need for socialization. it is a tough adjustment, but it is necessary to maintain a good cover. people find it odd when a teenage boy wants nothing to do with “normal”.

within three years, neil has been to eight schools and four countries. every country has a different curriculum, every school has different requirements. the only constant is neil’s plummeting grades. it doesn’t matter much until airzona, when all of a sudden neil is alone and his status on the exy team depends on a D or above in english. he pays off an honors kid to do his papers so he can play. 

that’s not an option now, in his new life. he has to catch up to the other kids because he’s finally one of them. when neil picks him second year classes his fingers shake over the registration list because he can learn anything he wants. he has the time.

he can learn anything but english, apparently.

“i’m already fluent,” he complains, “so what the hell is this?”

neil waves his failed paper in the air, more demonstratively angry than anyone’s ever seen.

andrew sidles over and snatches it out of his hands. he scans through the first couple lines. his face darkens. “you mean, what the fuck is this?”

neil looks at him, a little confused, a lot frustrated. “my essay?”

“it’s more word-vomit than ‘Mrs. Dalloway’.”

neil’s confusion wins. “I don’t get that reference.”

“as evidenced by your failing english grade,” andrew drawls. nicky tries to stifle a snicker in the background. both neil and andrew glare at him for it. andrew smooths out a wrinkle in the corner of the essay and turns back to neil with a scowl. “are you rewriting this?”

neil blinks. “I could for a different grade, but i already said everything i can about it, so, no? i have nothing else to write.”

andrew sighs heavily and reads through the full essay. about midway down he demands, “you used your personal experience as a reference for ‘Lord of the Flies’?”

neil’s face goes carefully blank, “a racquet to the gut was very Roger of you.”

nicky and allison give up on subtle and cackle loudly from the couch.

andrew rolls his eyes and slaps the essay back into neil’s hands. “you’re re-writing this. we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

by “we”, andrew means all of the foxes, apparently – he strong-arms everyone into saving neil’s english grade. certain members complain at first, until wymack comes in at the end and reminds them that if neil loses a letter grade, the foxes will lose their striker.

so kevin sits neil down that night and gives him to most condescending explanation of essay-writing neil’s ever heard. it makes him grind his teeth, grip his pencil, and eye kevin’s jugular vein, but kevin forges on with creative insults about neil’s intelligence and a multitude of comparisons between a formal paper format and an exy play. (to be fair, the exy examples work.)

the next day, renee takes neil to the library and shows him how to pick out actual references – “not your shitty life experience, josten” – and how to properly source it. she’s on first-name basis with ever library aide they pass, and half of the students studying in silence jump up to come thank her for her help on some project they’ve. neil fights down a smile and ducks his head into his book as renee explains how to weave a quote into a paragraph.

dan shows up that evening with all her freshman year english essays. it took her hours to hunt them all down, but she doesn’t tell him that. she shows him the difference between her failures and her passing papers. by the end of it, neil thinks he knows where he went wrong and just what to do to fix it. 

all their help amounts to nothing, however, when neil sits down to rewrite. he has the sources, he has the ideas, and he knows what’s good and what’s bad, but he has no words. allison flounces into his room with  a handle of fireball and a shit-eating smile on her face. she pours them both a shot and chants, “Write drunk, Edit sober!” the next morning, neil has a horrible hangover and five pages worth of rambling that’s actually better than his first failed attempt. so that’s something.

matt painstakingly walks neil through essay editing. aaron edits the final draft.

when neil comes back a week later and shyly shows them a “B+” at the top of his rewrite, the whole team cheers. nicky drags a mini-fridge into the den and plugs it in to the corner. he takes neil’s essay and hangs it up on the fridge with a gold-star magnet. neil feels his chest go tight with gratitude. nicky just ruffles his hair. all of neil’s passing grades go up on the fridge.

(he passes a lot. andrew promised to blow him if he got an A.)

I 100% BELIEVE THAT IF NEIL EVER STRUGGLED WITH HIS STUDIES ALL OF THE FOXES WOULD RALLY BEHIND HIM TO HELP. ANDREW, HOWEVER, WOULD PROBABLY HELP THE MOST - BOTH BY “MOTIVATING” NEIL (;D), AND BY UNDERSTANDING THE WAY NEIL LEARNS BEST. ANDREW WOULD GOAD THE FOXES INTO HELPING NEIL BECAUSE ANDREW KNOWS THAT NEIL WILL TRY HIS HARDEST NOT TO DISAPPOINT THEM.