School has finally gotten to be pretty much as nice as I expect for the end of senior year. (Although, I think I was expecting this kind of relaxation for all of second semester, which definitely wasn't the case.) The only stuff I have left is my biography project for English and my Gettysburg paper for my Independent Study. The biography project is going well. I didn't set any specific goals for myself, except maybe to have the book done before Memorial Day weekend, because the paper is due the Friday after that, which is the morning of prom! (I'll get to that in a minute.) I'll definitely have the book done by then, because I only have 200 pages left. Or at the very least, I won't be cramming to read it. I'm really enjoying it, although I am still skimming some parts that are a bit heavy on the irrelevant details. I finished part one and now I'm chiling with Lorca as he explores New York. I get even more excited when I think about the fact that, even though this part of the book has lots of cool literary stuff and lots of explorations of his personality, all of the really cool stuff in his life has yet to come.
As far as my Gettysburg paper goes, I'm still in the research stages. I went in with a really specific purpose in mind, which was a REALLY good idea, because otherwise this research would take another month that I don't have. The basic focus of the paper is on a very interesting aspect of the Battle of Gettysburg which I didn't learn about until last year and which most people don't know about. In short, on the third day of Gettysburg, the main notorious action of which you've probably heard was "Pickett's Charge." For those of you who don't know, it was monumental failure and resulted in terrible Confederate casualities. What most people don't know about (and you'd never hear about on the typical park tour) is that almost simultaneously, there was a cavalry battle taking place a few miles to the east of the battlefield. About 6,000 Confederate riders were engaged in a crazy saber fight with about 2,400 members of the Union cavalry. The Confederate cavalry was led by General James Ewell Brown Stuart, commonly referred to as JEB Stuart, an infamously dangerous, egotistical, bold, and skillful general, who is one of my favorite figures from the Civil War. In this engagement, Union cavalrymen were led by George Armstrong Custer (the recent West Point graduate who we all know from "Custer's Last Stand"), although Custer was only a brigadier general, he was more involved in the actual battle than his superiors, Generals Gregg or Pleasanton. The battle, while very bloody, was really a draw and so has largely been forgotten by history. Most accounts of Gettysburg, even those in highly detailed books, often simply ignore this engagement in order to focus of the Gettysburg "biggies": Little Round Top, Devil's Den, Pickett's Charge, etc. The East Cavalry Battlefield remains part of the National Park Site, but of the nearly 2 million people who vist Gettysburg every year, less than 2% visit it. [By the way, that was the first thing I've written in here that I looked up, everything else is just from my head.]
So why do we care? In every battle, there a skirmishes like this, unplanned confrontations that amount to little other than loss of life. At the end of the year last year, after just having studied Gettysburg in AP US, I had never heard of this part of the battle, although I considered myself a Gettysburg scholar (in training at least). I had visited Gettysburg the summer before and taken a personal tour (a la just me, my dad, and a park service guy) which was amazing, and I had then (and still do to a less extent) a good grasp on the major events of the battle. Certainly, loving the Civil War and living so close the the battlefield gave me a special interest in Gettysburg, so after the AP exam last year, when I was picking a book to read for the end of the year project, I chose Lost Triumph: Lee's Real Plan at Gettysburg -- and Why It Failed. Which was just a book I stumbled upon in Borders, but I was fascinated by the premise, which is basically that Stuart's cavalry didn't just end up skirmishing with the Union riders in the middle of nowhere out of chance. The author's thesis was that Stuart was actually trying to get past the Union cavalry to ride up into the rear of the Union line along Cemetary Ridge. The thesis continued by stipulating that Lee had intended Stuart to meet Pickett's charge from the other side and split the Union line.
Okay, this is getting way too long, so to the point. I've been doing more research on this cavalry battle and I'll be writing a paper with a thesis similar to Lost Triumph. And I've got some research done, I'd say I'm probably more than halfway to the point where I can start writing, keeping in mind that I always do additional research as I go. I find it really hard not to, because you never know what direction your paper will go in until you're actually writing it. Okay, crazy history rant over.
I said I was going to talk about Prom and now I finally will. I'm actually getting really excited about it now. My mom's been working on shortening my dress, which is of course, going to be a long process. But now that I'm less bogged down with school-type worries, I've had time to enjoy the getting ready process again. And, the best news: my Dad said I can take his car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As I probably mentioned earlier, my sucky ex-friend (well, not really) Mike left me out of our friends' limo, so I'm driving myself (and my date, of course). I was really bummed about that, but I've definitely gotten over it. In part, because I decided to take pictures with my friends beforehand, and now I have my dad's car which is new and gorgeous and clean and generally pimped out. Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet! Also, I had my haircut yesterday, and my hairdresser and I strategized about what we're going to do with my hair. We came about with a good plan, which I'm happy with it, although I still have to get some specific pictures to get the back exactly the way I want it. So here's my before prom to-do list, since I love them so much, in case you could possible care.
1. Collect hair pictures.
2. Buy flowers. Jeremy and I are going to go together to order them sometime next week.
3. Buy a purse. I saw some nice red ones I liked in DSW when I bought my shoes, but nothing that I loved. I'm hoping to get that this weekend, when I go on my super-mall trip to King of Prussia.
4. Makeup. I'm going to stop by Sephora on Sunday and buy some stuff and ask for advice (although I do already have some ideas) then I'll come home and play around over the next week to decide exactly what I want to do.
5. Jewelry. I decided on no neclace because I'm wearing halter staps with polka dots and other things that will keep the eye busy, but I need earrings and bracelets. My dress has so much character of its own that I'm having a hard time with this, but I'm thinking silver stuff now.
6. Make mix cds for driving to prom and getting ready.
7. Do a test-drive to the Constituion Center.
8. Pre-prom laying out of things on the night before.
Hmm, I think that's it. Time for me to go pretend to be productive. I've got to finally make my poetry book for Mr. Haney, do wash, and read Lorca. Tomorrow's my last AP exam, and I'm actually excited to see what they ask about. (I probably won't be so excited when I'm sitting in the principal's conference room tomorrow). I feel so ready after today's review session though. Yeah, Spanish!