Vaccines

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I like to say I know a bit about getting vaccines. I’ve had to get shots for the nerd camp I did at Harvard and last year’s trip to Thailand, and I’m sure I’ll get a few more before I go to Africa with my dad and sister in May and ship off to Austria. Actually I don’t think I need any for Austria. I got that immunization form faxed over to the University of New Orleans within a day of finding out I needed to. Plus I’m a doctor’s kid, so I’m pretty used to having to get shots. My father is paranoid about my sisters and me contracting various diseases.
Want an example? Hepatitis. Oh, my father is obsessed with hepatitis. You’re getting a pedicure? You have to buy your own nail kit. They don’t clean their utensils at those kinds of places. You’ll get hepatitis. (Just for the record, I agree with this statement. My dad did a great job with ) Your friend has tattoos? He needs to come to my office so I can test him or you can’t see him anymore. And I guess my dad has complete faith that I’ll never do heroin, so I have been spared the lecture about getting hepatitis from drug needles. Is my father’s obsession with hepatitis annoying? Hell yes it is. But the thing is that he’s right. Hepatitis B and C aren’t fun to deal with, and they can take anywhere from months to years to treat depending on how bad the cases are. Plus there’s that risk of dying from the disease. Can’t forget about that.
I guess I’m about to make you squeamish. I wonder if I haven’t gotten an important vaccine. Well, I guess not. Actually I haven’t gotten all of my hepatitis vaccines yet – I’m due for my second one pretty soon, I’m guessing. Polio. Meningitis. Whooping cough (that one hurts like a mother.) Influenza (not necessary, but I’m in college, and I got a terrible flu bout my freshman year and did not want to repeat it last fall.) Gardasil, the HPV vaccine that’s supposed to lower one’s rate of cervical cancer. And this isn’t a vaccine, but after I got my appendix out, my IV got inflamed, and that was scarier than any shot I’ve ever had.
Here’s what I know about getting needles stuck in my arm – and hand, because that happened to me once. First of all, and most importantly, you need to find some sort of distraction if you’re afraid of needles like I am. Lots of doctor’s offices have TVs in them, so I’d start there. No TV? Look up. Count the tiles in the ceiling, look for odd shapes, whatever. Or you could close your eyes and repeat a mantra. Mine was “The Oven Bird” by Robert Frost and the first eight lines of Paradise Lost. And if you can, make sure whoever is sticking that needle in you is good at it.
What else do I know? Getting blood drawn hurts way less than getting  a vaccine. And yeah, no matter how much needles terrify you, you should probably get your shots. It’s kind of better than dying.

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Lycidas

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I’ve noticed that there are a lot of poetry enthusiasts here on WordPress. I find it absolutely stupendous. It’s really nice to fawn about literature without being scoffed at or called a nerd. Plus I feel like I’m taken more seriously here than I am in the real world.
Great poetry enthusiasts of the internet, I am approaching you because I am in need of advice. I think it would be really clever to get a fish and name it Lycidas, which is a poem Milton wrote about his colleague who drowned. (Is that morbid or disrespectful? I really like the poem.) The thing is that if I’m going to name a fish after one of the greatest poets of the English language’s work, it needs to be esteemed. I want this fish to be Elizabethean as fuck.
I’m also going to need a fish that won’t be too difficult to take care of. I can’t get a fish, give it one of the greatest names ever, and then end up killing it. I would never forgive myself. I mean, I’m still upset with myself for almost killing my plant. Lycidas is also going to be in the care of somebody else for the six weeks I’m spending in Europe, so I really don’t want him to be a high-maintenance fish.
Betas are easy to take care of, right? They used to intimidate me when I was little because I heard about how intense male betas get around one another. I think a beta might make a good Lycidas, but I’m no expert on fish.
Any suggestions, poetry enthusiasts of the internet? Do you think the beta would make a good Lycidas?

National Poetry Month Appreciation Post

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I know I’m getting horribly off topic, but April is National Poetry Month and I’ve been geeking out about it hardcore. (It’s my blog, I’ll post what I want!)
I’m lucky because my school is taking National Poetry Month just as seriously (well, probably more) as I am.  UGA has set up lots of poetry readings, book signings, and colloquiums on campus and around Athens for all the literature and poetry nerds in the area. So yeah, I’m pumped. Now I don’t really know how many events I’ll be able to attend since journalism is starting to take over my life (and my news writing professor won’t let me cover speeches on language or literature, which sucks), but I’m really excited about one particular lecture: on Friday there’s going to be a colloquium on The Aeneid. Yes, Vergil’s Aeneid. And I know that I won’t be able to let it count for one of the speeches I have to cover, but um, that’s not important because I know this colloquium is going to be incredible. And it’s going to talk about the role of ships in the poem, which might help me out with my Milton class (Satan is compared to ships a lot in Paradise Lost.) It’ll also help me out because I’m trying to make my own emphasis for my English major (radical religious literature), and I really think knowing a good bit of mythology and mythological epics would help me out. So yeah, I’m really looking forward to this lecture. I know, I’m a huge nerd.

I’ve found a few ways to celebrate outside of school as well. You know, since I’m a nerd. I found a book on Howl yesterday in the UGA bookstore, and maybe somewhat impulsively purchased it. This book was on a table dedicated to National Poetry Month, by the way. Just throwing that out there. I couldn’t not notice it, okay?

I’m a big Ginsberg fan if you can’t tell. I wouldn’t say he’s my absolute favorite poet, because, well, I have problems with choosing favorites. I like Raymond Carver and Elizabeth Bishop. I actually appreciate T.S. Eliot now, thanks to the American lit after 1865 class I took a year ago. And of course I’m fond of Milton, because oh my god he was a genius.
But yeah, Howl is great, so I’m really looking forward to reading this. Hopefully I’ll enjoy it more than those two people on Amazon did.

I’m going to try to watch a few movies based on poems too. There’s a Howl movie, and I like it. I’m trying to think of what comes to mind. I’m not sure if there are many movies on poetry. I guess the Romeo and Juliet from the 90s, which is awesome. I wonder if anybody would go for a poetic movie night. I know I’m not the only giant literature nerd here. (Trust me, I’m friends with others.)

And maybe now that I have my energy back, I’ll actually aim to finish a poem for once. It could work. I’ve got more material to write on now. I might as well try, you know?
Hopefully journalism won’t completely take over my life.
Dual degree problems? Dual degree problems.

Borders

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One thing that sold me on studying abroad this summer is how close Austria is to so many countries. UGA’s travel writing professor, who is teaching the class this summer – and hopefully I’ll get in during drop/add – calls Austria the “hub of Europe.” I don’t really like the word “hub,” so I’m going to try to avoid that term. (It’s just not a very euphonic word, you know? It’s boring.)
I’ve always been good with maps. When I was little, my parents and I would play a game where someone would name a country and I had to say which continent it was in, and I was damn good at that game. At 5, I knew things my 17-year-old sister still doesn’t know. The schools I went to before high school really pushed geography. I’ve labeled maps, pasted countries made out of construction paper together, and put puzzles where every piece was a different country together. And even though my high school curriculum covered very little geography (which wasn’t exactly a huge issue for me since geography has always made sense to me),  I have had to make a few in high school for my AP history classes. Well, I didn’t physically draw the map of Europe for my European history class. That one I filled in while riding an Amtrak from Boston to New York.
Anyway, back to the point I was discussing in the first paragraph. Here’s a map of Central Europe, just so you (and I, since I definitely don’t have it memorized) can get a clearer picture of it.
 Look at how many countries Austria brushes up against! I knew I’d be close to Germany (Innsbruck, where I’m staying, is an hour away from Germany) and some hours away from the Czech Republic, Italy (which isn’t in this map but borders Austria), and Slovenia, my latest obsession. I didn’t realize that so many countries are packed into Central Europe. (Actually that’s a lie. I’m fully aware that Central Europe’s demography has changed drastically since World War I. An easier way of explaining this? The pre-WWI map was way easier to fill in than the post-WWII one because I didn’t have to worry about all the names overlapping. So let’s just say that I forgot that so many countries are packed into this area. Literature and journalism are taking over my life, after all.) I’ve always wanted to go to Hungary – the name amused me when I was little, I’ll be honest, and I can just pull so many puns out of that one – and Croatia caught my attention a few years ago. The March issue of Conde Nast Traveler actually has a short story on Croatia, and oh good god that place is beautiful and so green. And Slovakia? I forgot that borders Austria.
So what’s the point? Well, I’d like to completely exploit the fact that I’ll be living somewhere so close to all these countries for six weeks. I can see places, watch people, eat different kinds of food, and get lots of stamps on my passport, which will make me feel really awesome about myself – I have this thing about passport stamps, okay?  My passport is completely naked! Oh yeah, and I want to get shot classes from each country I visit. Central Europe would be a nice start to the collection. I’m in college, okay? It’ll be awesome.
So here’s to chaotic long weekends in other countries, new passport stamps to fawn over, and yes, new shot glasses.

 

Some of My Favorite Babies

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This is Spiderman Pajamas Baby. I can only present you to her through prose and photographs, but if you were to come across her, she would be thrilled to meet you. I met Spiderman Pajamas Baby in a village outside Chiang Dao in Thailand. (But I think that’s somewhat obvious. Doesn’t this picture just scream Thailand?) She made me want to smile, squeal, and cry all at the same time. I’m not a big fan of babies unless they’re animals, so hopefully my approval of Spiderman Pajamas Baby emphasizes how wonderful she is. Anything makes Spiderman Pajamas Baby happy: a bit of water running out of a spicket, the new faces of travelers, the packs of puppies scampering around her village, bananas. Spiderman Pajamas Baby’s happiness is ridiculously contagious and reflects off everybody around her. Marvel! She’s excited about these bananas!
 And here I present you with a photo of her taking over my stepmother’s heart!
Meeting Spiderman Pajamas Baby also depressed the shit out of me, for lack of a better phrase. Her teeth were rotting out. She was dirty. Seeing how excited she became over getting to wash her hands and face a little made me wonder how often she gets to use clean water.
We wanted to help Spiderman Pajamas Baby. We wanted her to be able to go to school, have access to medical care, and get enough to eat.  We couldn’t, though, and it breaks me. I don’t really know why. I think it had something to do with contacting the villagers; maybe they didn’t like us after all. Or maybe they don’t need help at all. I can’t say, and I really don’t know the answer.

I know I can’t provide an answer to why we couldn’t get in contact with Spiderman Pajamas Baby’s family and ask if we could help her out, but I can introduce you to some of my other favorite babies, the piglets two villages over.
Piglets act like puppies, so you can think of that too.

Sprichst Du Deutsch?

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Once upon a time, there was a lazy little fuck who bought some German-English dictionaries because she signed up for a study abroad program in Austria. Being a post-Fall human, she had a tragic flaw – she took forever to get around to accomplishing things she wasn’t getting graded for. Perhaps she procrastinated on learning German because English is a Germanic language – this girl was an English major, you see, and a damn good one at that. The truth is that this girl was either too lazy to get off the couch and watch Regular Show and Degrassi some other time, too busy stressing over her assignments for her journalism classes, or actually reading Paradise Lost and exercising for once. She was mostly on tumblr, though.

Obviously this girl is me. Is learning German hard? I don’t know if I’ll be very good at enunciating certain syllables harshly. I had a huge issue with that during my first few semesters of Persian class. I kind of sucked at rolling my tongue, which apparently occurs in the Middle East.
Enough about Farsi, though. I’ll be done with my language classes forever in four or five weeks unless I decide to take Old English since I’m a nut for roots. And do you know what will be a deciding factor in whether I take Old English? How my experience with learning and speaking German goes.
Now that I’m finally back on track, I can continue to worry about learning a little German, and whether my abilities will be any good in Austria and Germany if I get to go for a weekend.
Is German a hard language to learn? From my experience, I have a much easier time learning languages that share English’s alphabet. Spanish in elementary and high school was obviously a lot easier than Farsi in college. Plus there’s that whole “learning languages when you’re older is harder since your brain isn’t a sponge anymore” dynamic. But I’m smart, right? I’m pretty smart for a lazy person. I’m like a year ahead in English. Maybe I’ll actually crack one of these books open tonight even though the last time I did, I had a nightmare about being able to read Old English even though I knew more about it than anyone else in my AP English class, because my dream took place two years ago.
I’ll do it. The letters look funny in the Say It Right in GERMAN book, so at least that’ll amuse me.
And what a good call! I opened the book to the dessert section!

The Pilgrimage

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I think it’s fair to say a fair bit of my taste in music is inspired by classical composers. I’ve been playing piano since I was 5, and when I got old enough to make more conscious decisions on what pieces I wanted to learn, I always begged for classical music – Debussy, Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, Field, you name it (but those are my favorites.) Fantasia was one of my favorite movies as a child – okay, it still is, and especially now since I appreciate the music so much more. My taste in other genres of music reflects my history and growth with classical music: I can’t stand anything that sounds dissonant, I’m a sucker for musicians who use the piano heavily, like Ben Folds and Elton John, and most of what I listen to sounds, well, pretty.
It only makes sense that I make a classical musicians pilgrimage to Vienna while I’m in Austria. Vienna used to be the place to be for classical musicians. Mozart and Haydn, Austria’s most famous classical musicians, worked and lived there, and even Beethoven lived in Vienna for a while. And he left Paris to do this, so that must mean Vienna was an important city for classical musicians. I have to go to Vienna.
I really need to research Vienna more, because it’s become a city of my imagination. In my mind, Vienna is a myriad of domes rising from brick roads that were built to string quartets and symposiums, and a wave of arias that flows as smoothly as the Danube. Apparently Austria is not covered very often in books or magazines. My local Barnes & Noble didn’t have a single travel guide on Austria. I searched through my dad’s collection of the past several years’ issues of Conde Nast Traveler and Travel & Leisure and found one issue containing a story on Austria – a feature on Vienna. I didn’t get around to reading it, though, because I made the mistake of taking a sleeping pill and ended up in another universe.
If anybody has any recommendations or pointers for the pilgrimage,  I would appreciate it more than an Adventure Time marathon, and that’s not because I’ve probably already seen every episode. I’d really like to go to Vienna without getting tragically lost or missing out on something incredible. I imagine I’ll stay in a hostel, since I’m planning on going with a group, but that’s all I’ve got right now. I still don’t know the best way to finish these things either. I just hope someone is reading this.