Color Therapy

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The week before finals my first semester of freshman year, the dining hall right next to my dorm made a major and marvelous change: every table was covered with gigantic sheets of paper and adorned with Crayola crayons. It was great because most (if not all) of us hadn’t colored at the table since we were ordering off the kids menu, and for a few minutes, we could take our minds off finals and scribble next to our plates.
You see, Bolton was on to something – finals, obviously, is the most stressful time of the semester because it kills students’ brains. And coloring is brainless – that’s part of why it’s so empowering. Even though some people say that coloring books kill creativity, they’re great for therapy because you don’t have to make any decisions grander that what color crayon you’re going to use next. You don’t even have to follow the rules. Your parents didn’t care when you didn’t color inside the lines, did they? No, because they wanted you to be happy, so they hung your masterpieces on the fridge or even framed them regardless of whether you filled the lines in neatly or scribbled all over the page. And that made you really happy.
Coloring is therapeutic for me because I can feel myself pushing my problems out through the colored pencils. For 15 minutes, I can cast whatever I’m worrying about (so, you know, everything) away and just focus on getting a job done, and nobody is going to assess my performance because well, criticizing how somebody filled out a coloring book is kind of ridiculous. Maybe you’re super anti-coloring book and hating everything I just typed, but you know, coloring works for me. It really does.
So, what did I think when I came across a Lisa Frank coloring book that’s selling for a dollar last night?

  1. LISA FRANK. MY CHILDHOOD AND THE DOLPHIN STATIONERY I LOVED.
  2. I can’t believe Urban Outfitters isn’t selling this same book for $15 yet.
  3. Okay, but really, this is the only coloring book in the whole dollar section, and I think I’m supposed to take it home with me and use it.

I didn’t even flip through it until after I got home, and do you know what I found? Leopards. Puppies on a giant heart in a checkerboard dimension. Angel kittens in angel kitten heaven.
And then I saw it: a cow and her baby. This was the first page I was going to color, and it was going to make me feel better.
And you know what? It actually did.

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Ode To Babies

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Before I get carried away writing this, I need to establish that I am not a baby person. Being near babies freaks me out. If baby anxiety is a real thing, then I definitely have it. If I hold or touch a baby, it will immediately start fussing or crying – I call myself the anti-baby whisperer – and it terrifies me. I don’t want to have any kids, but I feel like if I did have a baby, I would go into anxiety overload because I wouldn’t be able to give it what it wants or make it like me. Some people are great with babies; then there are people like me.

Around 10 months ago, a baby came into my life. It’s a more intimate relationship than most of the baby situations I know of, which are limited to my aunt and uncle having two babies in the past five and a half years and all the teen moms I stalk on Facebook. No, this baby and I shared a father – that’s right, I am 20 years old and have a 10-month-old half-sister.

Our relationship was pretty stunted for many months, because the majority of time I am away at school, and she is two hours away at my dad’s house. I don’t think I existed in her memory for the first six months of my life, because, well, I wasn’t there for it. What’s a weekend-long visit home to someone who hasn’t even developed a long-term memory yet? So for a really long time, our relationship kind of went like this: I thought she was cool because she is smart, but I hated it (key word: panicked) whenever she cried or became upset around me because there was absolutely nothing I could do about it except tell someone she liked a problem was going on; she didn’t really know who I was, and if I held her or something she got scared.
Note: I will say that she liked me shortly after she was born. This might have been because I tried to communicate with her by imitating her facial expressions.
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But then something wonderful happened: winter break. I had three and a half weeks off from school, and that meant I actually had time to bond with the baby. Almost every morning (um, okay, afternoon) after I woke up, I would just go to her room and hang out with her. Mostly I watched, because that’s what I’m best at  when it comes to babies. Watching her try and learn to walk and grasp the pronunciation of many syllables made me think of how difficult being a baby actually is.

If you ever get the opportunity, I recommend observing the interactions between babies and animals

If you ever get the opportunity, I recommend observing the interactions between babies and animals

Think about it. I will admit that when my half-sister was born, I was extremely envious of her because she got to sleep all day long and I didn’t. She didn’t have to worry about school for a few years. All she had to do was chill at home and play with toys and enjoy having such a short attention span.
But I was wrong. You know what babies spend the majority of their time doing? Trying to be just like you and me. This whole time, I have been envious of someone who dreams of accomplishing tasks I find fairly simple, like speaking, writing, and eating without having someone force a spoon down my throat.

Don't mind me, I'm just being a genius

Don’t mind me, I’m just being a genius

Babies just want to be people – they are incredibly aware of what separates themselves from the rest of us, and they are constantly trying to change it. Babies are always babbling not to amuse us, but to communicate with us. I think they know most of what they’re saying is complete gibberish, but they’re probably telling themselves that after so many mistakes, real words will start to come out. It’s fascinating. It’s science and psychology and – yes, I’m going to say it – Paradise Lost and Songs of Innocence and Experience in real life. Babies have the luxury of being completely innocent, but they cast it aside for knowledge because they want to be like the older people they aspire to be like one day.

Babies are driven little geniuses that should not be taken lightly. 

But the best part is that she doesn't mind my camera

But the best part is that she doesn’t mind my camera

Major Discrimination

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This past weekend, I went to an art major party with my roommate. It was a pretty great time – I dressed up like a little kid on Christmas morning and everybody loved it, and they served hot chocolate with whipped cream vodka that was incredible.
There was one thing I hated, though.
My roommate got into an argument with a couple of guys who had decided to pick on her for being an art major, because apparently majoring in something liberal like art indicates stupidity. First of all, these guys didn’t even go to UGA (or any school as difficult as UGA), so who are they to question her intelligence? They weren’t smart enough to get in. They were being friendly in that douche bag way, but as soon as she answered the ominous “what’s your major?” question, they retracted any behavior that could be identified as civil.
These guys don’t know who they’re dealing with. My roommate is far from stupid. She’s good at about just every subject in school – math, literature, science, philosophy, you name it. She even got a full scholarship to a local college for physics, which she turned down because she’s wanted to pursue art her entire life. Oh, and did I mention that she’s a creative genius? Because she is. And she’s not a single major, either. My roommate is a double art major, which means she works her ass off. Half the time I don’t even see her because she’s working on multiple projects and doesn’t have time to come home. This week she stayed away for two and a half days consecutively to finish projects in both of her majors.
These guys would never know that, though, because they refused to believe that someone with an unconventional major is still intelligent.

She isn’t the only one who faces the stigma. As an English major, I don’t feel like a lot of people take me seriously. Even my own grandmother doesn’t understand why I don’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer. Whenever somebody asks me what I’m majoring in, I never say only say “English.” Unless I’m around another English major, whom I fully know will accept my decision, I always say I’m a journalism major first. If I say I’m an English major, whoever asked me the question in the first place will respond with something like, “wow, that’s interesting,” or ask me, “oh, do you want to be a teacher?”
Then I have to mention that I want to be a writer, and that makes things even more uncomfortable.
But if I say “I’m majoring in journalism… and English too,” I suddenly become so much smarter. Not only am I pursuing a career that people take more seriously, but I am also demonstrating my intelligence and time management skills by completing two degrees in the time it takes to get one. By adding journalism to my answer, I become fascinating, as opposed to what I’m sure people think when I say I’m just an English major.

Stupid. Unrealistic. Screwed when it comes to finding a job or making it in the real world.
And to be honest, part of the reason I’m double majoring is so I can have something to fall back on, because I don’t want to be a teacher and I can’t see myself churning out novels.
But it’s only part of the reason. I’m majoring in journalism because I’m nosy and love knowing things that other people don’t. I love writing and sharing what I write, and I love magazines – that’s they key here, love. And love is exactly why I’m majoring in English.
I may hate school (okay, not really, I just hate being overwhelmed, which happens a lot since I’m a double major), but I love what I’m learning about. I love writing and stories and words and pens and paper and mechanical pencils. I love learning about the greats in both spheres. I complain about school a lot, I do. But when I’m writing something I’m really proud of or falling in love with a book, I feel more certain about what I’m doing than I ever have before. It’s what I love, and more importantly, who I am.
As cheesy as it sounds, college is a time to make greater progress in discovering and defining who you are – not who others want you to be.
So what if my roommate and I aren’t majoring in something “more useful” like science or political science? Have you major-downers out there ever thought that people major in a certain subject because they love it, and not because they’re too stupid to major in something more conventional? Just because there are a lot of science-related jobs out there doesn’t mean there aren’t any art-related jobs or english-related jobs. Besides, nobody ever said whatever profession we ultimately go into has to directly reflect what we majored in. We could go to grad school – we both are, actually.
I’m not going to be a doctor because I would be miserable as anything else other than a writer. Plus I’m really clumsy, so I would probably injure somebody severely in the process. And do you know what? I’m okay with not being a doctor or going into science. I got myself into college, so I’m going to do what I love. And you should do what you love too. This is your one big shot, so take it and immerse yourself in whatever you enjoy most.
I’m an English major, and I’m proud – and it’s not your problem.

 

The Freeman’s Journal

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This is for all the Ulysses nerds out there.

  1. I made this. I wrote all the stories, compiled all the images, and conducted the layout all by myself without breaking a computer or anything.
  2. This was my final.
  3. I am proud of it.

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My Top 10 Literary Influences

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I promised I’d make things up to you, and I think this list might just do the trick. Also I have a terrible habit of coming up with great things to write about right before something (or in this case, lots of things) is (or in this case, are) due.
But I am a huge literature nerd, so I think this is appropriate. I rave about books all the time anyway, so I think I should share the pieces of literature that influenced me the most.


10. The Inferno, by Dante Alighieri

I skimmed through The Inferno in high school (I was a senior. Can you blame me?), but put in a much greater effort when it was assigned in my super-hard-and-intimidating-mythology-class-that-a-valedictorian-from-my-high-school-was-in. It paid off. If I hadn’t thoroughly read The Inferno, I might have not decided to emphasize my English major in radical religious literature.

This book also influenced me because Dante had nerve. Even though his majorly unrequited crush on Beatrice was unrequited and kind of creepy, Dante was gutsy as hell (ha!), and I really admire that. It takes a lot to criticize your own religion.

9. The Natural Order of Things, by Antonio Lobo Antunes

If you know me in real life and have ever heard me rave about Portugal, this book is why (this book is Portuguese). I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with Portugal, and I’m really hoping to go there in the near future.

This book isn’t exactly famous (at least not here), so I guess I should explain it a little. From what I remember, the story spans over several decades and has about eight narrators. It’s also one of the only postmodern books I actually like.

You should read this book – I’m not very fond of the ending, but this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Top five, definitely. It’s brilliant. Look at it, at least.

8. Ulysses, by James Joyce

This book was… an experience. I hate it and love it at the same time – it’s brilliant, but it’s just not fun to read. If you know me, then you’ve probably suffered at least 10 doses of my complaining about it. I once had a teacher who said Ulysses is a book that nobody should have to read for the first time. Now I can say that I agree with him on the whole concept of losing my Ulysses virginity. But it would be wrong of me to say it isn’t incredible. I’ll read it again later in life. I don’t think I was developed enough this go around. Joyce put an incredible amount of thought into Ulysses – nearly every word is an allusion. I hope I can have a pinch’s worth of that talent one day.

7. Cathedral, by Raymond Carver
This isn’t my absolute favorite Carver story – “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” has that spot – it was a close race, though), but it is the very first one I read. There are some works that just strike you and have so much power. For me, Cathedral is one of those pieces. Carver’s realism is just so good – if I didn’t enjoy it so much, I wouldn’t have purchased a complete anthology of his work which happens to be over 1,000 pages. Yeah… I kind of have a long way to go with that one. But I love his work! I actually tried to be Carveresque with the last short story I wrote, and it actually happens to be my best. Thanks for inspiring me, Ray.

6. The Oven Bird, by Robert Frost

I have a huge fascination with the Fall. *See numbers 5, 2, and 1 for further explanation* But this poem actually influenced me in another way too. On the day I toured UGA, I sat in on an English class that happened to be taught by my current poetry teacher (I did this on purpose). Want to take a stab at the poem we learned about that day? Yes, that’s right, The Oven Bird. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but that poem is part of the reason why I took the Milton class and most of the reason I am in the poetry class I’m taking. Robert and Susan shaped my life, guys.

And that is why I am going to be my poetry teacher when I grow up.

5. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck

When I was 16, I went to Iran to the first, and as of now, only time. I found this book on my mother’s shelf and brought it to read on the plane. I had read and loved Steinbeck before (The Grapes of Wrath actually almost made this list), so I thought it would be a good choice. I was actually thrilled to find this, even though it’s a giant book. I ended up depending on this book while I was on vacation because I was parched for contact with the English language. I read it feverishly.
And oh, how I loved this book. It got me into the Fall before I even realized it!

It’s kind of funny how my taste in literature has worked out.

4. Howl, by Allen Ginsberg

I can’t think of a writer more irate and pissed than Ginsberg was, and I love him for it. Now obviously, I love this poem. I’ve seen the movie, and I’m a little obsessed with it. I listen to Ginsberg on Spotify. I have a book of essays on the poem, for god’s sake. I would have written a huge essay on Howl, but we didn’t even cover it this semester. I’m actually really upset about it. I hope that one day when I’m really pissed, I’ll remember to think like Ginsberg and just spin a beautiful web of poetry out of my anger.

3. It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini

I was in a pretty dark place when I stumbled upon this book – and the cover art is what caught my attention, so that’s why I hate the phrase “never judge a book by it’s cover.” Covers are meant to attract readers! That’s how it works!
You probably think I’m lame since there’s a movie of this book, and it’s pretty cheesy. Well I read this book years before news of a movie reached me (I’m so goddamn indie, I know).
The reason I like It’s Kind of a Funny Story so much is because I relate to Craig so much – not just because of depression, but also because of the crazy expectations he puts on himself and his masochistic thought process. And once I realized that Craig could become better, I decided that I could overcome my mental instability too.

2. Paradise Lost, by John Milton

I think I’ve made it pretty clear that Milton is my homeboy. A semester ago, all I blogged about was this poem. I have a fish named Lycidas. I’m referencing Paradise Lost in a paper that’s due next Tuesday.
But I really do love Paradise Lost. Once you read it, everything changes. I can see a Miltonian interpretation of almost everything I read because of it. Ulysses, Portrait of the Artist, the huge amount of poems I’ve had to read this semester, you name it. Oh, and Paradise Lost solidified my decision to emphasize in religious literature, so there’s that too. And it’s beautiful. Don’t forget that.

My nerd is coming out. Sorry, guys.


1. His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman

These books, guys. Yes, my top choice is a trilogy. I can explain.
Three years ago, when I was taking adolescent literature at Harvard nerd camp, I had no idea how much these books were going to shape me. I came to these books much later than I should have – by this I mean “I saw the Golden Compass movie months before I ever read the book.” And I didn’t think the film was that great, because I don’t think anybody did, but I really loved the story. I’d still watch the movie today even though it’s disappointing, out of order, and inaccurate just because I’m such a huge Philip Pullman nerd.
These books have shaped me tremendously. They have made me laugh, fawn, smile, throw The Subtle Knife at a wall, and shed some of my hardest tears. Although I didn’t know it until a few years later, they sparked my interest that turned into my major concentration. In the years since I read them, I’ve made efforts to get other people to read them in the hopes that they would be as struck as I was. I got The Golden Compass on a class curriculum in my very Catholic high school. I lent copies of the trilogy to friends – and sadly, lost a book or two in the process. I took that Milton class just so I could understand the books better. I even read these books and Paradise Lost at the same time. I think it’s safe to say that these books influenced me more than any other pieces of literature.

Look, I Have Goals!

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Oh, the I’m-back-at-school-and-have-no-motivation-but-extreme-anxiety-and-I’m-always-tired blues are here once again. They’ve actually been here for a while. How long ago did school start? Three weeks? Okay, then I’ve been in a funk for two weeks.

Despite how intensely I hate schoolwork, things are going pretty well. Actually, scratch that. School is terrifying me. But outside of school? Yeah, things are good. I’ve become addicted to Gossip Girl, so that should fill any void I’m feeling in my life. I joined a paper, so people besides my Facebook friends are reading my work. My highly offensive and hilarious work that will probably come back to bite me one day. Whatever – clips are clips, and I finally feel like there’s some purpose in my life.

So if things are going well, then why am I making new expectations for myself? Well, firstly it’s because I’m 20 now, and there are things I’ve just got to learn to do, like cooking. There’s so much more to food than just heating it up and putting sauce or cheese on top, and since I’m such an avid fan of Real Simple already, I’d like to get to the point where I can actually follow a recipe without fucking something up.
I’ve also been anxious as hell because I already feel like I can’t keep up with school. I kind of suffer from this scheduling problem where I don’t consider the consequences – and the workload, in particular –  of the classes I sign up for. I just love to make things complicated, and working on two degrees at once is becoming an issue for the first time. What becomes a priority? How can I choose between my two great loves? And no, I’m not copping out and declaring a minor instead – I was born to be an English major… it just happens that I was born to be a journalism major too.
If I can get off my ass and sort things out, school won’t be as much of a problem. My anxieties are easy to fix. All I have to do is act now. God, I sound just like my dad. I didn’t mean to ramble on so much.
Anyway, here are some things I’m aiming to do:

  1.  Be more organized with my tasks, and keep an actual day planner instead of scribbling some odd words in an unlined notebook. I actually already started this and went against my own advice – I’m using a free UGA planner, and it makes me feel like the biggest freshman. But don’t worry, I’m going to pimp it out and make it match my “wrong neighborhood motherfucker” notebooks.
  2. Learn to cook something of sustenance and start eating more super foods. I’ve warmed up to eggs in the past year, but I need to keep expanding if I want to have more energy. Oh, and since I’m 20 years old now, I should probably start liking vegetables.
  3. Build up some muscle in my arms. Hey, I’m tired of not being able to lift things! Something tells me street team might be able to help me with this a little.
  4. Write something every week. Thankfully, this won’t be an issue since I’m writing for a paper now and will get kicked off if I don’t turn anything in.
  5. Own my points in class discussions. I don’t think this will be so hard if I read Joyce’s work more closely, look over the poems I’m assigned more than once, and try to make myself open to any interpretation. Also I should remember to bring magazines to class so I don’t look like an idiot in mag writing.

I’m feeling good about these – and I’m not stressed, like I usually would be, and that’s amazing. I didn’t just set goals that will help me out tremendously. I set realistic goals, and I didn’t set an insane amount of them.
I’m fairly confident I can do this, and that makes me feel safe. It makes me feel great.

Street Team Secrets

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Never did I think I would be one of those annoying people handing something out at the Tate Plaza. Even though I walk by that place almost every day, I still only associate it with flyers for events I have no interest in attending, co-ed honor fraternity booths, and the annual Abortionplex. Now that I’m writing for a paper, though, I feel obligated to help out with anything as much as possible (could that be passion and dedication I’m feeling?), and one of those things I found myself helping out with was distributing papers on Friday.
And you know what? It actually went pretty well. I thought it would be difficult to be one of those annoying Tate stalkers, but it was actually one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. And I liked that, because easy things are just so much better.
Here’s what I learned (sorry, I can’t make the bullets work today):

Freshmen will always take whatever you’re handing out, especially this early in the year – they just don’t know any better! It’s also useful to scan the area for people who show signs of social anxiety or easy intimidation. They’ll take whatever you’re handing out so you’ll just leave them alone and they can reach their destination. This also works well with high schoolers who are touring campus, but beware of families if you’re handing out something that might offend a conservative mother.

Don’t approach anyone who is talking on the phone or has a full set of hands. You’re wasting your time and being a great inconvenience. Also, make sure you don’t approach the couple that is fighting and possibly breaking up. It’s just a little awkward.

If you’ve got a great manipulative skill, like charisma or flirting, take full advantage of it. It’s not like you’re using your powers for evil.

Wander around a little. Walk up to a congested place and try handing out things to people in that area. There’s this bus stop right next to the Tate Plaza that’s always crowded with people waiting for the Orbit bus, which isn’t always reliable because everybody on campus happens to ride that bus. It turned out to be a good place to hand out papers, because lots of people were waiting.

Approach anyone who looks bored. This is an especially good idea if you’re around a booth. Make a deal with the other people handing out things! Give them your goods in exchange for theirs. Everybody wins!

Be nice than you’ve ever been before. Say thank you to everybody who took something from you, and still try to be nice to anyone who turned you down.

Know your demographic. Don’t go around handing out satirical newspapers to old women.

Try approaching a potential recipient with a compliment. Say something like, “I like your shirt. Would you like a paper?”

Walk uphill and pass out your stuff to everyone who walks in the opposite direction. The hill advantage is fantastic because people can’t avoid you and you can take them by surprise.

That’s all I’ve got right now because I kind of feel like eating cucumbers and watching TV. But really, that’s all I’ve come up with so far. I really like street teaming, so I know I’ll be handing out papers to unaware prey in the Tate Plaza again soon. And do you know what that means? It means I can come up with more and better advice.
This picture amuses me.