Well, basically I had one of the most incredible weekends ever. I ate a lot, ate some more, got to eat rhubarb, got to eat dumplings, went to the Gay Pride Parade, ate sandwiches and tarts in Central Park, took a nap in Central Park, listened to Michael Jackson in a taxi, and had the opportunity to tour Teen Vogue headquarters in Times Square – I was a little starstruck, so I couldn’t speak without sounding like an idiot the whole time, and all I could get out was “thank you so much,” “thank you,” “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” and “this is incredible.” I just hope I can end up in that building again someday – maybe every day.
And oh my god, I’m leaving for Europe in four days.
My baby computer is back from my local PeachMac with a brand new battery and that means my technological issues are now sailing smoothly. No pages have frozen and there have been no random shutdowns. I really like this new battery. I really like my computer. I really like having a fully functional computer again, especially because my new battery was completely free (thanks, Apple Care). In honor of my baby computer’s recovery, I’ve decided to keep things very positive and elaborate on some things I really like.
This might as well be a peek into my soul.
1) Lomographic film
It’s a little pricey, but I think it’s completely worth it. Well, film is usually a little pricey. Let’s just say it costs more than Kodak. The film comes in a variety of speeds and even comes in 120 mm.
I have a few rolls on me, but I’m saving them for Austria. If I’m going to use film over there, I might as well try to make the pictures look as beautiful as the actual place will be.
Look at the colors! And I used a shitty scanner.
Whenever I have these, I conserve them because they smell so good and I think it’s kind of ridiculous to spend $6.50 on a packet of 30 makeup-removing wipes every week or two when I can just use water and toilet paper (I don’t wear much makeup, so I can get away with that.)
These towelettes really do the job, though. That’s why I save them. I need them for the nights I actually decide to wear a lot of makeup (by a lot of makeup, I mean mascara – hey, it’s a bitch to remove).
Plus they have white tea in them so they smell amazing and feel nice and cold. Perhaps the temperature of the wipes has nothing to do with the tea, but I like to think it does.
When I was little, I didn’t think I would ever wear lipstick because the kind my mom wore smelled weird and chalky. Within the last few years, however, I’ve really grown to love lipstick because despite its appearance, it’s actually pretty low-maintenance, which is perfect for somebody who doesn’t like to put a huge effort into her appearance when it comes to makeup (me). Lipstick is so classy and womanly and people never really think about how it only takes about ten seconds to put it on.
4) Word Warp
A few years ago, my mom bought me a puzzle book from Starbucks that was decked out with cartoony illustrations of birds and bugs and several different types of word games. That book is what first got me hooked on the anagram. I filled the puzzles out quickly, and have been searching for a replica of the anagrams I solved in that book ever since. The closest I have come to that is Word Warp.
The objective is pretty simple: a number of letters is provided, and you have to form as many words as you possibly can from them. There is a time limit, but you can get rid of that in the settings. And for a logophile, it is extremely addicting.
7) Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide
The spectrum of characters in Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide is fantastic. Immaculate, even. There’s Cookie, who’s half-boy, half-cyborg. And Lisa Zemo, the girl who suffers extreme allergies but then gets on new allergy meds in the third season and becomes insanely hot. And Vice Principal Krubbs, who only wears white suits, is obsessed with flamingoes, and decided to become a vice principal after quitting his job as a vice cop because the profession still had the word “vice” in it. And Dr. Xavier, the 8th grade math teacher with a thick Russian accent who makes her students wear “math smocks” and preaches her very own aphorism, “without math, we are cavemen eating mud.” And Gordy, the janitor who is constantly outsmarted by a weasel that lives inside the school. And don’t you even think that I forgot about Coconut Head.
This is, undisputedly, the greatest show ever. I only wish my middle school experience could have been similar.
I will now bid you farewell using Coconut Head’s visage.
This is Stellenbosch. It’s beautiful, right?
After leaving Phinda, the four of us (me, my sister, my dad, and our friend Schalk, who lives in Stellenbosch and therefore showed us around) drove back to the Durban Airport. Our flight to Johannesburg actually got delayed for five hours because there was a crack in the plane’s windshield. It was okay, though, because we found another flight (shout-out to OneTime Air) and British Airways gave us a refund (shout-out to British Airways too, because that was really nice.) So that only left us an hour behind schedule.
And what did we do on our first night there? Oh yeah. We ate, and then we got drunk at a bar called The Mystic Boer. Well, they got drunk. I kind of took one shot of something that tasted atrocious (oh yeah, it was Patron!), looked around the room and saw lots of guys, and it made me miss mine. I am obstinately loyal, and all I really wanted to do was go back the hotel because it had heated bathroom floors and the bed… oh my god.
I slept beautifully, especially because I didn’t have to wake up at 5:00 the next day. And then I got to have coffee and French toast and fruit and yogurt (Bulgarian yogurt is the best yogurt ever, by the way) and I was so happy.
Then we went out to this place that um, has a bunch of cheetahs… I forget what it was called. All I know is that I got to pet a cheetah and his name was Joseph and I foolishly took a Doxycycline pill without a Tum so I felt really sick. Also I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures in the cage.
We thought the cheetahs there were drugged because they were so… calm. They weren’t, though. Cheetahs keep their activity to a minimum when they don’t have to do anything that involved running because running at high speeds takes up so much energy for them. Except I don’t really know how they’d get much running done in a fenced-in area.
Cheetahs also have a wonderful sense of humor, I’ve discovered.
And yes, I have to represent my country.
Stellenbosch (and greater Stellenbosch) is famous for wine and Stellenbosch University. I’ll start with the wine.
From my observations, Stellenbosch is South African wine country. And the wine is pretty good, which is saying a lot, because I can’t really drink alcohol without making a funny face and feeling shivers run down my back.
Personally, I think the cheese was better. South Africa is renowned for cheese as well. Heaven!
A giant wine bottle obviously means that my sister needs a new profile picture.
After all that, we just went back to the town and walked around a little. I think Schalk drove us around the university too. Lots of white buildings.
We made a few friends, too – part of it might have been fate, but most of it was my dad’s lack of restraint when it comes to talking about himself around people he just met. But it turned out well. We ended up going to Cape Town that night with them to see our new friend’s son’s band 3rd World Spectator play a show at a restaurant. It was pretty fun. I got to try pizza with bananas on it, which is actually really good. I knew it would be, too. And the band was great. They can do a mean cover of “Where Is My Mind?” by The Pixies, and I really like their song “Ambulance.” And then I sat by a fire and fell asleep sitting upright, which was a great new accomplishment for me. Ha!
The next day we actually went to Cape Town again (because we had actually planned it far in advance instead of mere hours before), so that means I’m out of Stellenbosch pictures and tales. Actually I have one more. We ate Indian food with all the people we met, and it was a really good time. I do have a picture of that.
Well, that’s all I’ve got from Stellenbosch. I need to go to bed – I’m kind of in trouble because of something my puppies chewed up. And I have tons of Austria things to do tomorrow, so I need to fall asleep within the next hour. The internet just loves to distract me.
Anyway, I’m out. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back tomorrow!
Here’s the book I made my dad for his birthday if any of you are interested in looking through it.
And yes, that does mean I managed to work through the Blurb software. Hope you like it!
My immune system has weakened over the past week. That means I have the flu, and that means I have spent the majority of my day in bed finishing up this photo book and watching Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix (but mostly watching Avatar). I have finished arranging the book, though, so that means I can return to posting, and that means I can finally sum up my days on safari – and that means you get to see lion domestic violence.
Here is the lowdown: The pride we saw the night before has two adult males in it, and they’re brothers. The older brother is in charge of the pride. Under lion hierarchy, any additional adult male is ranked under not just the leader, but also the lionesses and the cubs. You know how Scar is an outsider in The Lion King? It’s kind of like that.
On this morning, however, the younger brother decided that he wanted to be in charge. He challenged his brother and won, making him the new leader of the pride. All the lionesses and cubs were supposed so follow him now. Except that didn’t necessarily happen. One of the lionesses went back to the old leader, and they had it out.
Anyway, the photos:
The cubs kept sneaking up and trying to watch the fight. Then the old leader would roar at them and scare them away. I thought they were adorable. They’re just like humans!
Then we drove away because we were afraid to keep following the lions. A girl in our Jeep was so afraid she was in tears. I don’t blame her, though. If that happened while I was on my very first day on safari ever, I would freak out too. The game driver got a transmission saying that two male cheetahs we saw earlier that morning had made a kill, so we headed in that direction.
On the way, I finally got to take a decent picture of a giraffe.
And we saw our new friend Hal.
I just think cheetahs are really great animals to photograph. It’s like the cheetahs at Phinda knew exactly what I wanted. The next time I saw a cheetah, it would be in captivity.
Well, that concludes all of my safari posts, and that means I am about halfway through my trip. I’m dead certain that I’ll be stuck in bed all day tomorrow too. I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of my photos and experiences from the trip.
Goodnight! I’m going to watch some more cartoons now.
Photos from day four:
I know I’m getting kind of repetitive with my safari posts, but the good news is that I only have one left, and it’s a really exciting one that includes lion domestic violence. And I’ve got some videos of it, so you’ll get to hear what I heard and understand why I believed I was about to die.
Tomorrow will be much better. I promise!
I think it’s fair to say that I suck at computers.
I only know my way around a handful of programs on my computer. I can write a paper using Microsoft Word even though I hate it because it will randomly shut down. However, I have managed to cope with that, and just save my document every time I complete a sentence – or even half a sentence, actually. I know how to transfer photos to my computer and upload them to the internet. I can do about eight things in Photoshop. I haven’t made a Powerpoint in years, but I do know how to do it – it won’t look snazzy or have stupid word art or anything like that, but I can get the job done. I can make songs play on iTunes and Spotify. I can use the Finder. I can open the internet. I can take stupid pictures of myself on Photobooth. That’s about it.
Under normal circumstances, I would be pretty impressed with myself. I am an English major, after all, so mainly I deal with books and libraries. A lot of the time I can’t use outside sources, and when I’m allowed to, they can’t come from the internet. Microsoft Word is really all I need. It doesn’t really matter that I only half-assedly know my way around a computer.
Except that isn’t true. Somewhere along the line, I realized that I like journalism and had been reading, tearing apart, and making magazines my whole life. This meant that I needed two majors, and my journalism major is why I feel bad about not being able to do much with a computer. Journalism isn’t like English. Journalism isn’t just a bunch of analytical papers written on Microsoft Word and maybe a slideshow here and there when a group project is assigned. Journalism isn’t sticking my face in a book for days and then figuring out everything I need to write on three pieces of paper at the most.
No, journalism is more than that. It’s writing and pictures and video and audio (which is what I happen to be worst at) and publishing these things beyond a final draft that lands on a teacher’s desk or a post on Facebook. And it’s still more than all that, because it’s all of those elements working together. Print and the internet are merging more and more every day, and I can’t complete a multimedia project without asking for help. How am I supposed to be a journalist?
This is relevant because I’m making a Blurb photo book for my dad, and guess what I have to use for that? Software. I’m not saying that Blurb is difficult to use, because it isn’t. Even I can use it. I don’t know if, say, my mother could, but I can. It isn’t hard, but it’s tedious. And then I’ll get frustrated every five minutes because something I don’t like is happening. I’ll click on a picture and the whole book gets zoomed in way too much. Several of the layouts that are available happen to be the inverse of what I think would look best, and it makes me wonder if there is actually a way I can inverse the template and I’m just too incompetent to find it. Or the entire program will freeze and I can’t close it because my mouse will be doing that pinwheel thing that happens when something is loading. Command+Q and control-alt-delete don’t work either, so I have to resort to my tried and true method of escaping computer issues: pressing the power button a few times and holding it down.
But that isn’t the worst part. My computer battery has either reached old age or resorted to a state of insanity. If my computer is not plugged in, even when it’s at full charge, it will shut off without warning. Sure, I’ll think to myself, that’s a bit of a grievance, but I can live with that. But no, it got worse. Now my computer will shut off while it’s plugged in, and that is a bit of an issue.
I don’t think I can solve the issue by myself because if it were up to me, I would have thrown my computer out the window by now. It might not be the right thing to do, but I can’t help but feel that way.
I guess I need to get a new battery. I will have to take my laptop to a Mac store and get it fixed, because there is no way I can do something correctly by myself. And if I’m ever going to finish this photo book, I’m going to have to have a functional computer.
I have to leave so I can fix this. My computer shut down once while I was in the process of writing this, and this only took about 20 minutes.
Here is a comic.
On the third day, the traveler Sarra witnessed a monkey giving another monkey a hand job and two male buffalo fighting over what must have been a classy lady. And then Sarra saw a pregnant zebra, and she found it amusing. And then Sarra drank coffee, and it was good.
And then Sarra was almost attacked by a monkey, and that was not good.
I hope my impression of the Book of Genesis is okay. I’m just trying to switch things up a little because I want to have a lot of fun writing this post. Writing is always fun, but uploading pictures on here is pretty tedious… There must be an easier way to do this. But it is very important to me that you find this post enjoyable because the third day was one of my favorite days on safari minus the part about a monkey threatening to jump on me. And I have a video of my reaction, so hopefully you can sympathize with my fear a little. I tend to have strange fears. I saw some very interesting things on the third day and we finished our big five sightings. (The big five are what the five most impressive animals to see on safari are referred to. The animals on the list are the lion, the leopard, the elephant, the buffalo, and the rhino. There’s also a little five and an ugly five, which really amuses me.)
We started off the day by spending another sunrise with lions.
Then the lions started lying around, so we drove off to look for other animals. Probably buffalo, honestly. On the way, we encountered one slutty monkey. Or at least the monkey was a good friend for grooming the other monkey’s junk. But yeah, it looked hilarious.
*Note: This was the last time I ever saw monkeys without cowering in fear*
Then we stopped by a watering hole and looked at hippos for a few minutes. And I actually got a picture of a warthog, which is kind of hard to do because they’re really shy and run away from everything.
Then we ran into a herd of buffalo and watched two male buffalo battle it out.
After that, we stopped for coffee. By the way, I never mentioned that the coffee I had while I stayed at Phinda was the best coffee I’ve ever had in my life. Maybe it’s just because I’m in college so I’m mainly exposed to mediocre coffee, but I drank at least two cups every day, and I usually… never do that.
Here is the pregnant zebra.
It was decided among the adults that we switch to a different area of the reservation. So we moved. And the change scared me, because it meant that we were surrounded by monkeys.
A while after I was scarred for life, we got in the Jeep again.
And we found an elephant.
Then we saw a leopard, but he was sleeping. We later found him eating a dead giraffe – he didn’t kill it; like I said yesterday, leopards will scavenge.
After that, we drove out into the darkness and looked at the stars. Being far away from a city and the light pollution that comes with it meant that I saw more stars than I have ever seen in my life during the nighttime game drives. I learned about some constellations that are only specific to the Southern Hemisphere, but that is for another post.
I really have to work on this blurb book for my dad and make actual progress before he comes home so he won’t be angry with me. I’ll be back tomorrow, but chances are I’ll actually be back later today because I hate the photo book software I’m using. I hope you liked day three as much as I did!
I never think any big events in my life are going to happen. I didn’t ever see myself graduating from high school or moving to Athens or accomplishing some huge task. I did it last week with Bonnaroo.
I’m currently doing this with Austria, and I’m becoming scared because I just realized that I’m leaving in 18 days. 18 breakfasts. 18 nights where I’ll wake up at odd intervals. 18 (well, probably fewer) showers.
I’m trying to pull together a list of things I need for this trip. Ideas. Plans. A level head. A plug converter. My big bottle of Ibuprofen. It’s hard to find Ibuprofen in Europe, so I’m going to bring a huge bottle and deal it. Just kidding. I’m going to share it, and that’s how I’ll win peoples’ hearts and friendship over there.
I’m getting nervous because it’s hard for me to imagine what my life is going to be like over there because, well, I’ve never been to Austria. I hardly know any German – I’ve been slacking on studying it. It might get really cold there. I’m going to miss people and there won’t be anything I can do about it. I’ll be a whole ocean and several countries away. Mostly I’m afraid of ending up alone. What if nobody likes me there? I’ve got some bad qualities.
The one thing I have complete confidence in is the literature class I’ll be taking. I’m great at English and I’m very passionate about words if you can’t tell. I know I can say something impressive and be able to bond with people who get starry-eyed over the same writers, books, and punctuation marks that I do. I think I will make a friend in my literature class. I need to, actually. I can’t be reserved like I normally am since all of this is going to happen over a span of six weeks instead of a semester. I’m got to give myself a crash course in branching out to other people, and that happens to be one of the things I’m worst at.
I just end up fantasizing every time I try to construct a controlled thought about Austria. Instead of thinking about how to make friends, I think about things like how often I’ll be able to eat gelato and how I want to rent a bike and ride it around Innsbruck every day I’m there. It’s funny that I’m thinking this way, because usually I’m very rational. Actually I’m never rational when it comes to thinking, because that’s how anxiety manages to take over me so easily.
What is good advice for studying abroad? What is a good way to make people like me? Does anybody have any recommendations for where I should go and what I should see in Europe, particularly Vienna and Germany? Or anywhere that’s close to where I’ll be? What kind of food should I try?
Any advice – or any statement that will calm me down, really – would be much appreciated.
Firstly I’d like to apologize to those of you who actually read this for taking so long to get around to these posts. I’ve been exhausted, at Bonnaroo, and exhausted again. (I will save Bonnaroo for another day, and it’ll be easy because my camera died so I only have two pictures from the whole trip.) Now that my jet lag is finally over and I’m not passing out at 9:30 every night, I’m confident I’ll be able to churn the rest of my South Africa posts out, which is good, because I have a lot of ideas.
I felt the most incredible sense of wonder on the first morning I woke up to go on safari (I only went during the afternoon on my first day because we had to drive from Durban to Phinda). I was bundled up and looked like a ninja, and had amazingly woken up right before 5:00 A.M without feeling very tired. I don’t think this could ever be possible in or west of the time zone I reside in. Having jet lag was very good for me in the sense of waking up early.
Doesn’t this lens just make the most incredible difference?
After we set out and I got “Circle of Life” stuck in my head, our game driver took the group out to find some lions. Lions don’t really do much during after morning except sleep. That is, until it gets dark and the pride goes out to hunt. During the day prides chill out together and get into arguments sometimes (I have argument pictures, and I was convinced I was going to die).
After that, the lions started going to sleep, so we drove off and ran into a zeal of zebras (cool group name). Apparently zebras fart constantly… probably from all the grass. But I was told that when a zebra gets scared or is being chased by something, it farts and runs at the same time. Also they make zebra jerky. Those are my fun facts about zebras for you.
Our stop by the zebras was pretty short because the word on the street was that a cheetah and her cubs were eating an impala that she just caught.
Cheetahs are actually pretty low on the food chain because they’re small. Sure, they can run really quickly, but that takes a huge amount of energy and cheetahs can only run at high speeds for short distances. Cheetahs are different from other big cats (well, lions and leopards for certain) in that they refuse to scavenge. They kill everything they eat themselves.
Glory and cuteness spam coming up, guys.
LOOK HOW ADORABLE THEY ARE. I MEAN REALLY.
After sitting in the jeep and ogling over the cheetahs for about 45 minutes, there was a radio transmission saying one black rhino and one white rhino were nearby. This is the white rhino. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I did triple-check.
After that, we went back to where we were staying. The better things happen during the morning and around sunset, so that’s when the drives are. Plus it gets hot.
Anyway, here are some big lion cubs being adorable. I have to work on this photo book for my dad now, so I’ll be back once I get that finished.