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Seniors of CPS: Natalie H.

What’s your favorite memory from CPS?

“I’ve had so many good days at CPS… I have a lot of positive memories, but one I remember specifically was in Chemistry in sophomore year. I had been in G block, which was notorious, and ended up leaving because it was really rowdy, and then I went to [E] block. I didn’t know anyone because it was early sophomore year, and I didn’t really talk to anyone at that point, I was just there, studying–I was very studious back then, I was a lot more stressed. I sat on the edge–you know how there’s like, the big ‘U’ [of tables]? So I was sitting on the edge and I just studied. And then I started talking to the person next to me, who ended up being Jonathan. I didn’t really know him at all. We’ve talked about it before and I was like ‘I didn’t know you existed,’ and he was like ‘I thought you were scary because you used to fence.’ And it’s crazy because he’s like my best friend, now. So we started talking and then one day he was like ‘Can I see your calculator?’ and I was like, ‘Sure–’ this is a testament to the nerdiness at CPS. A second later he was like, ‘What’s 7+4?’ and I was like ‘11.’ He put it in the calculator, 7+4, and it spat out, like, 15 or something. He was like ‘Ha ha, you’re wrong!’ and I was like… who is this person, how did he do that? He had programmed something, but it was just this absurd moment, and from that moment on we were so rowdy. We just could not stop giggling. Like, you remember in AP Bio–he had to leave at least 5 times on different days. It’s something now that we have when we’re in a science class together–it’s not every class, it’s science classes. We can’t sit next to each other or even look at each other because we just start breaking out laughing. I’m sure you have that with someone, where you just can’t keep it together…. then I was excited to go to Chemistry because I had a friend, and I didn’t really have that many friends before. And then in junior year I started hanging out with his friends and then there were more good memories. But that’s the one I really remember.”

Who’s the most influential person in your life?

“Probably my mom. It’s my mom and dad. But I think my mom. The thing is, I say my mom but then there’s moments when my dad will be the person I need to talk to, so it really is both of them. I’m just really close to them. I’m very lucky to have a good relationship with my parents and I think they do a really good job of balancing accepting me and also pushing me. I’m very happy that I don’t have one of those strained relationships where, you know, daughters don’t talk to mothers–I really am never gonna have that. I don’t think I’d be the person I am today without them. I know it’s cliché, but I just wouldn’t. If I didn’t like my mom I’d be so sad, you know?”

What’s something you do to relax?

“Definitely exercising. I fence and I started swim this semester but corona didn’t let that happen. I’ve fenced for nine years now and it’s been really great to have that throughout high school…  It’s such a different skill set from, like, thinking about math or bio, or something really intense. It’s just like, do the pushup! Easy but hard at the same time. It’s difficult in a different way.”

Tell me about your pet(s).

“Oh my god. I have two dogs and they’re giant. They’re great pyrenees but they’re also fat. Great pyrenees are known for being big and these ones are overweight, so that’s the story of that. Their names are Hansel and Gretel and they’re very stupid but we love them anyway. They smell really bad. They really are the sweetest dogs and they think my parents’ bed is their bed… We didn’t realize when we were getting them. We were like, oh, golden retriever–big dog, you know? We didn’t realize that we were ordering pigs, and that’s what they are. Straight from the farm. They smell just as bad, but they’re very sweet. That’s them. Then I have two cats. One’s name is Gigi, which is after the Hayao Miyazaki film, Kiki’s Delivery Service. She has a black cat named Gigi, so I was like, ‘I’m gonna have a black cat named Gigi. So we went to the place and he looked just like the cat from the movie and I was like ‘Oh it’s perfect!’ The thing was, this cat didn’t really like people. We went to visit him and he was hiding under the desk. We should have not gotten him but I was like ‘Yes, I need that cat, I’m gonna make him love me.’ I have not [succeeded]. He is still very skittish and very afraid of everyone. We brought him home and he hid under the bed for the first two months. He goes out and kills things during the day and then comes back and kills things at night. Anyway, I was trying to coax him to love me and at one point I realized, ‘Oh, I can’t change people!’ In the end it was a really great lesson because I learned don’t date someone who you need to change or be friends with someone who you feel like you need to fix. Because it won’t happen. But he’s the softest cat ever. You need to be lying down, like, corpse style and he’ll come up and purr. And then the other cat is Tibbs, and he’s a jerk, and he’s tubby. But he’s soft too, and he’ll let you pick him up. Gigi won’t let you pick him up. We used to have a fish, but it died. I’m never gonna have a fish. I’m sorry if you have a fish and you like it, but fish, birds, hamsters–they’re useless pets. They’re not for me.”

What are you most proud of?

“I don’t know. I don’t really think about that one a lot. I feel like I think more about happiness as opposed to pride. I guess… I like my fashion sense. It’s kind of funny but I actually am proud of that. Like, the clothes I’ve amassed. I’m proud of the fact that, like, I used to buy all the crap that I wanted but then I spent all my money and I was like, ‘Crap, I don’t even like this stuff!’ Now, I don’t buy it unless I really love it, and it’s a great skill to have. I’m proud that I control myself. I realized I actually have a lot of money because I don’t spend it on anything but clothes and I don’t buy clothes all that much. From all that babysitting.”

What is something you want to leave behind at CPS?

“Not that I assume that I’m not ‘wanted’ in spaces around campus, but just not assuming that people would be open to talk or get to know me. It’s hard to bring the junior retreat vibes back to campus. I sort of want to bring to college the junior retreat vibes and leave the assumption that, how do I put it–the assumption that people are sort of stuck in their cliques, I guess, or that it’s a waste of time to get to know new people…”

What’s a story you tell that no one believes?

“It’s not really a story, it’s a fact, but my middle name is Medill. No one ever believes it on the first time because it sounds so much like ‘Middle’ but it’s ‘Medill.’ And that’s that. I don’t really have another story because I think something about the way I tell stories makes them sound unbelievable anyway. Or maybe not unbelievable, but when I’m telling something I think that I exaggerate a lot and it makes my stories so exciting. I think since I’ve set that baseline people are like, ‘oh, that’s Natalie!’” (I told Natalie that Medill is also the name of a journalism school at Northwestern University). “My family started that. Yeah, my family was in Chicago and somewhere back somebody started the Tribune. That was, like, Joseph Patterson Medill, I think was his name? They had two daughters and one of them was one line and the other one was my line. I can’t remember which one it was. Or no… I can’t remember how it goes. Anyway, I think it was him who invested in or created the school. It’s like, darn, if only I had wanted to go into journalism! But I didn’t. I was touring, and I was like ‘Oh cool, Northwestern, pretty place,’ and then they bring it up, like, ‘Medill School of Journalism,’ and my mom was like ‘I told you this!’ and I was like ‘What? This is weird.’ Anyway, that’s that. My family was in Chicago, and now we’re not. No one’s there anymore. That is kind of crazy. I don’t tell it a lot.’”

What’s your favorite place in the world?

“I used to go to Wyoming every summer because my grandmother had a ranch in this town called Dubois. It’s the furthest town from the railways, so it’s apparently where all the bandits went. I don’t know, I think one [bandit] showed up at some point, but I don’t know if that’s really true. That’s the lore. Actually, I have a poster of the town, it’s not of the ranch, but I’ll show you really quick…. This is the big tree, and there’s a bridge and a river around here… This hill… had this beautiful red rock and really orange dirt and this sage that’s different than California sage; it smells different. It’s just really, really beautiful. It’s crazy because Wyoming… not a lot of people live there, there’s like fifty people in the town of Dubois. It’s different than Jackson Hole.

I don’t know if you’ve been to Jackson Hole, but [Jackson Hole] is quite a bit richer and is a big destination for a lot of [tourists]…. [Dubois is] even a different vibe from all of that, it’s so removed from everything I knew growing up in the Bay Area. It’s so untouched by industrialization, I feel like. It’s almost like going back in time, because it’s just like nothing except for cabins. It’s just nature, which is insane. That’s definitely one of my favorites, it’s what comes to mind. I love the Bay Area too, but I live here, so it’s different.”

What’s your favorite book of all time?

“I think it’s kind of a tie between The Great Gatsby and The English Patient, both books I read at CPS. I read the English Patient last semester in Steel’s seminar. It’s gorgeous, it’s so heartbreakingly beautiful, and it’s so interesting because it’s about morality and religion and love and shame…. The whole course description was ‘Falling from grace.’ Like, the whole genesis story of Adam and Eve in the garden, eating the apple from the tree of knowledge, like is the fall good, or is gaining knowledge bad. Like, how far do you go until you can’t go back to innocence? I found that super interesting, and it kind of has those themes in it. She’s a great teacher, so she made me love it. And then the Great Gatsby… actually, we can keep it to one.”

If I asked you at age 5 what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would you say?

“I wanted to be an underwater archeologist for a long time. I don’t anymore, but I find it so interesting. I got into this craze with the Eyewitness book about the Titanic. There was one point where I knew every fact in the book… I could recite the book; it was insane. I was just so interested in it. So I wanted to be able to go and explore underwater cities. And there’s that one that’s this whole city that’s underwater in, I think, the Mediterranean. I think that’s so cool, just discovering ancient cultures or shipwrecks. Just seeing what was there. I wanted to be, like, the underwater Indiana Jones. Then I realized I’m terrified of drowning, so it’s not for me. I do not want to die in a submarine. They seem gross, too. I don’t think you can shower.”

What’s something you want to do before you graduate college?

“I want to learn how to play tennis better, because I like it but I’m not very good. I started fencing and that was all the time, so I feel like it would be a fun thing to take into being older. I feel like fencing at a point… like, I’m gonna get too brittle to do it. Like I can’t have someone hitting me. So tennis might be better.” 

What’s your biggest regret from your time at CPS?

“My biggest regret. Regert. You know that tattoo that’s like ‘No regerts?’ Um, biggest regret. I can’t even think of one. That’s a deep question. I think it might be waiting more time than I had to to start hanging out with the friends that I have now. Or thinking that I couldn’t branch out freshman and sophomore year. Having the false assumption that people in our grade wouldn’t want to talk to me, and kind of realizing in junior year that that’s not true and that there’s a lot of really fun people in our grade that I still want to get to know. That’s part of why this quarantine is so sad because I feel like these months could have been a time when we all kind of got to know each other in a new way. But it is what it is.”

Who’s your favorite musical artist?

“Ooh. It changes a lot. I feel like for everyone it changes a lot. I kind of have favorite songs because I listen to a lot of music, which I feel like everyone our age does. Right now I’m really liking Joni Mitchel and James Taylor and that sort of acoustic guitar sound. It used to make me really sad but I’ve kind of found a new meaning and appreciation of it in this time. I’ve been listening to a lot more nostalgic stuff. Say Joni.”

What’s a skill you wish you could have?

“I don’t want to say playing tennis because I already said that earlier, but that’s what’s coming to mind. I want to do a different one. I kind of wish that I was a good painter. I feel like, whenever I go to museums, paint is my favorite medium; I think it’s so beautiful… I do wish that I could paint with oils really well. But I do not invest the time, so that’s really on me.”

If there is one thing that you think everyone should know about you, what would it be?

“Probably just that I’m, like, nice, I guess. I don’t know if ‘nice’ is the right word, just like, I’m kind. I think I’m kind. I don’t have a problem with this but a lot of my friends will tell me, like, ‘When I first met you I was so intimidated by you.’ For some reason I have that effect on people. It doesn’t really bug me because we’re friends now, and I don’t really mind if people are intimidated by me, you can’t do anything about that. I guess people should know that I’m actually nice and not just serious, or whatever the impression is.”


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