Here We Go Again

Standard

Look, I’m alive! And I’m going to let the internet know about it!

So what is happening? School is happening, obviously. And as usual, it’s terrifying me. I’m too advanced for my own good.
But other things are happening too. I got a position at a paper, which is nice because I can be as dramatic and abrasive as I want to be within reason. And by within reason, I mean I can’t use the word “rape.” The people behind the paper actually get pissed if the content isn’t ridiculous enough.
Meanwhile, I’m overflowing with ideas, which is awesome. It’s funny. I had extreme writer’s block all the time, and once I got to Europe, it just all went away. You guys just didn’t know about it because I got super lazy and started posting on this. So I’m super idealistic right now, and once I stop being so tired and lazy all the time, things should flow very quickly. The columns I want to write but are too serious for The Black Sheep will probably end up on here. I can be serious, I mean it.
Anything else? Oh yeah, now that I’m not going out of the country for a month anymore, I can finally get a fish. So hopefully Lycidas will come into the picture soon, especially because my dad killed my other plant and Norman no longer has company.

Aaaand now I’m exhausted, which is kind of funny because I meant to go into my goals for junior year and twentydom. All I care about right now is taking a nap.
I’ll get better at this, I promise.

Advertisements

A Secret Party

Standard
My local friends threw me a surprise birthday party in a secret location today. There was a homemade cake. There were homemade tiny pizzas. We are the only people in the world who know where the secret party happened. I can’t really say much because I don’t want to reveal anything.

It was pouring torrentially when I left my dorm today, so, as you can see, I didn’t take my camera and instead resorted to the camera on my phone.
Just some things I did and actually took pictures of today.

20120720-001307.jpg

I ate like an emperor.

20120720-001323.jpg

There’s so much more to the Hof Garten than the bar!

20120720-001338.jpg

The King and I. Get it?

20120720-001355.jpg

Austria is nuts about cards.

20120720-001409.jpg

I ordered some chai and got a whole teapot full.

20120720-001421.jpg

A view from the location.

20120720-001454.jpg

Cornelia and the cake.

20120720-001432.jpg

The beautiful darling pizzas.

20120720-001442.jpg

Cake.

20120720-001516.jpg

Our light.

How I Found My Pride After Reading Amber Estes’ Article

Standard

If you have a Facebook account and live in the South, chances are that you’ve read or at least know about an opinion piece written by a University of Georgia student that offends almost everybody who reads it.
Its title? “How to find that perfect husband in college.”

Estes offers sage wisdom on snagging a relationship with a future dynamo such as frequenting the area of campus that holds the law and business schools, taking lots of Instagrams, and dressing “like you’re not trying too hard.”

I, like most of those who read the article, find this advice extremely offensive. And I think we have every right to feel this way. I’d like to think that most of us came to UGA so we could enrich our minds and get a good career. Sure, many of us probably invoke a fair amount of damage to our brains through social alcohol abuse, but most of us are in college for intellectual reasons.

Naturally, Amber’s article has generated a slew of backlash. Occasionally, a comment mocking the offended for taking a “joke” so seriously will surface.

I get that the article was supposed to be satirical. I think most of us do. The problem is that the sarcasm failed, and once you strip Amber’s attempt at humor, all you get is a piece that degrades women our age.
And do you know what that does? It makes UGA look really bad.
UGA doesn’t have the greatest reputation. The students are typecasted as raucous Bulldog fans, belligerent drunks, and members of Greek institutions. In 2010, the Princeton Review crowned us the number one party school in the nation. As a result, thousands flock to Athens each year to include themselves in the wild parties and downtown bar scene they hear about. Trust me, it’s a little overrated.

I’ve seen people who go to other schools use the article as an excuse to mock UGA.

Like with any school, there is so much more to UGA than the Greek community and partying. Some of the most fascinating people I’ve been exposed to are UGA students. I’ve met incredible actors, singers, writers, and artists, brilliant mathemeticians and linguists, and several girls in sororities who stand apart from the “sorostitute” label – one of these girls inspires me incredibly. I might not walk around campus wearing Nike shorts and a sorority t-shirt, but I am going to take The Beach Boys’ advice and stay true to my school.

So why didn’t you, Amber?

 

My First Few Days in ABC Form

Standard

I’m sorry for being so behind. I’ve been exhausted, sick, and busy. Also I have to start getting ready for class in five minutes, so hopefully I’ll get to post after I’m done with school and lunch.

is for alcohol, which everybody but me seems to be bingeing on.

is for bro, because there are tons of them here.

is for creepy older dudes. It seems they hit on me wherever I go.

is for diary. I didn’t bring or buy a notebook, so I’m writing everything in there.

E is for Evelyn, the only other student in my literature class who actually cares. Everyone else is just taking the class for a necessary credit and is highly unenthusiastic. They’re all going to hate me.

is for fried foods, which are in abundance here.

G is for grilled cheese, meaning that I ate the best grilled cheese of my life the other night.

is for heat, because it is hot here. Also the dorm has no air conditioning.

is for ice, or lack thereof.

is for James. Henry James. I’m reading Daisy Miller right now.

K is for kindness. I’ve tried to have superb manners so the people here won’t think every American is rude and selfish. Plus I’m trying to make up for the next letter…

is for language barrier. Hardly knowing any German makes me feel pretty stupid.

M is for muesli, a super-healthy European cereal that I now have the pleasure of eating with yogurt every day.

is for new people and new friends. An obvious one.

O is for outdoor bars. One bar I went to is in the middle of a park and right next to a playground.

P is for pizza, which every other restaurant here is dedicated to.

Q is for questions. “What” and “where” are my most common so far.

R is for rain. It’s been raining a lot, which means everything is about to get colder. I’m glad I packed so many sweaters and pairs of pants now.

S is for sickness, because I’m still not better. Well, I’m almost better. The only issues at the moment are my sore throat and sneezing. It beats pinkeye.

T is for tours and traveling. Tours will take up my weekdays, and traveling will hopefully take up my weekends.

U is for unable, as in, I’m unable to adjust my sleeping schedule to this time zone, and it really sucks.

V is for Vienna, because I really want to go and I’m having trouble finding people who care about Vienna as much as I do.

W is for water. Bottled water, specifically. I have been downing that like crazy.

X is for xenophobe. Okay, the locals aren’t afraid of us, but they don’t really like us. I don’t blame them. We’re loud people.

Y is for yesterday, because that was my first day of classes. I know, I’m running out of ideas.

Z is for… no, fuck z.

Required Reading

Standard

I just looked up the textbook list for my study abroad classes. It was probably the best idea ever.
I love the expatriates, so I’m really glad I found out about this course. And I’m being serious. I was hyperventilating in the theater when I saw Midnight in Paris. Taking the expatriate literature course makes up for not being able to take the travel writing course. I mean, I think it’s a class at UGA too, but I’d much rather take it in Austria. I’m going to pretend to be an expatriate there. Maybe I’ll look into what the expatriates did and ate and mimic them. I’m sure they had good taste in food. I wonder which writers decided to get fat in Europe. I’d like to know who I share that fantasy with.
But! The list! I have to share it because I’m really excited about it.

  • Another Country by James Baldwin
  • Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  • Daisy Miller by Henry James
  • Three Lives by Gertrude Stein

This list looks damn good. Like every other English major out there, I’m obsessed with the Realist and Modernist movements. In case you didn’t know, the writers on this list are associated with those movements. (I think James is the only author here who is really associated with Realism, though. The others are typically associated with Modernism.) I don’t think I’ve ever read any Baldwin, but at least I’ll be introduced to his work this summer. I’m very excited about all the books on here. I mean, I knew the list would have these writers on it, but I’m still just happy to actually read it. Hemingway! Stein! Fitzgerald! And Henry James? I read Daisy Miller in one of my English classes last year (hopefully this book is a collection of short stories rather than just one – I’m sure it is – it has to be!) and I really liked it. I think I read one of his essays. I don’t remember which one it was, though, and I had to read four essays that week, so I get them all messed up.
I really wish this class would have a field trip. I’ve already looked over the calendar, so I know it won’t, but it would still be so awesome. The class should just go to Paris and do a literary tour of the city. Beautiful. Hm, Paris is a little far from Austria. Did any of these writers ever touch base in Munich or Vienna? I do know my anthropology class is going on two field trips. One is to Dachau and the other is to Bolzano, Italy to see some frozen guy. I’m kind of nervous about visiting a concentration camp.All I know about the Italy trip is that I’m going to eat really good food that day and nobody is going to stop me.
My mind is really starting to wander now so I should probably knock some things out for my trip. I still have to submit this form (and I might have to fill out a few more, yikes) and buy a Eurail pass so I can go on the trains and actually go on trips. I also have to get my textbooks, which is why I ended up looking at – and fantasizing about – that list in the first place.
Also I have to start packing what I imagine is going to be a bulky suitcase and get a Typhoid vaccine tomorrow because on Saturday I’m going to South Africa, and boy, am I terrified. Oh, and I have to go to the doctor early tomorrow morning (it’s at 9:30, but anything before noon is early to me), so I need to get my face away from this computer screen so I can actually start trying to sleep since it takes me forever. I think I might actually write about going to the doctor tomorrow because this particular experience will be a first for me, ha.
Do you think I could just buy these books at Barnes & Noble or something since they’re not actually textbooks? I do have to get that anthropology textbook anyway, though, so I’m not totally convincing myself to just run to the mall and buy these books tomorrow.
My summer reading experience is gonna be so good.

Under Pressure

Standard

Something very strange happened to me today.
I had just finished my last final. It was easy. Really easy. All I had to do was translate three short paragraphs’ worth of material: two from Farsi to English, and one from English to Farsi. Straight out of the textbook. Probably the easiest final I’ve ever taken.
I walked out of the room and down the stairs. I went outside, deeply inhaled the scent of warm, wet sidewalk (which I really love for some reason) several times, and started walking towards the bookstore so I could take my textbooks back.
Everything should have felt perfect. I was done with school. Done! And halfway finished with college! Another year closer to becoming a writer. Well, at least writing professionally. Another year closer to true independence and living for myself, because I cannot wait to embrace that cheesy stage of my life. My summer had officially started. I should have felt elated, right?
Wrong.
I felt drained, and the tension in my arms and stomach increased. My shirt started feeling tighter and tighter, and my heartbeat sped up. I was about to have an anxiety attack for no reason at all, and that scared me even more.
Whatever happened to me really troubles me. I am all about reason. I’m ridiculously rational, and even before I was an English major, I was known to seriously overanalyze things. I feel like everything I do revolves around reason. I’m uptight. Sometimes I come across as spontaneous, but realistically, I don’t think I have it in me. I can’t do something without thinking it through first. The only exception to that letting something I shouldn’t say slip out.
I think the anxiety I put myself through over very justifiable worries is ridiculous, even though I can’t bring myself to stop it. This, however… this was just terrifying. All I can call it is a panic attack, because it practically came out of nowhere.
The whole time I was panicking, I kept thinking about how I can’t really comprehend or retain things that don’t relate to writing. It’s like my brain won’t let anything else in or even pay attention to it. I have to be reasonable and at least say I know it isn’t true, but I feel like writing is all I’m good at. It’s all I can really show for myself.
Like school, I’m not really good at school. If I were good at school, I wouldn’t be stressed out about it all the time, right? And people. I’m terrible with people. I can’t even talk to people. And my body. I put shit into my body. I’m clumsy and awkward and uncoordinated, and my stamina is ridiculously low. Possibly because of all the chemicals I have to put into it, because even my brain sucks at doing its job. My own brain, the center of my being, cannot keep me stable. Sometimes I just feel like a huge failure.
With writing it’s different. Words are the one thing I’m really confident about. I can write a story and push my opinion on people without ever actually stating it. I can write a mean paper. I’m really good at analyzing literature. I can recognize the roots in words that belong to different languages. My brain’s a little shot right now, so I can’t really come up with good evidence, so just trust me on this one. I’m a literary genius. I’m not a journalistic genius yet, but I’m catching on pretty damn quickly. Words are my forte.
They’re also my life. All I ever do is think. And my thoughts aren’t really pictures, they’re words. I’ve noticed that words are the only thing that calm me down when I’m really stressed out. I don’t even have to be near a piece of paper or a keyboard. If I start writing sentences in my head, I immediately feel better. I’m not joking when I say I depend on words, because I really feel that way. Words have saved me from feeling sick, pressured, and well, dense again and again.
I think words are the only way I’m going to be able to get through my anxiety. You know, my big anxiety. Not just one little attack, but the fact that I have them so frequently and can completely go off the edge in a matter of minutes. Waking up several times every night from nightmares and not being able to go back to sleep because I start worrying is the big anxiety. There is ample evidence that shows I can’t tackle the big anxiety on my own, not even with medication or anything like that; I can’t overcome this if I’m just Sarra who takes a pill to make something go away. I have to be more than that. I have to be Sarra who utilizes words and channels them into saving her from the big anxiety. I really don’t think there’s any other way.

Praise for Paradise

Standard

To be honest, I signed up for the Milton class I’m taking on a whim. I had originally signed up for English 4000, because it was mandatory at the time, and Poetry, well, because I love it.
Then came the announcement that frustrated the university’s older English majors: English 4000 was no longer a required course for an AB English degree. I was ecstatic: my grade wasn’t going to go down the toilet this semester!
With English 4000 dropped from my class schedule, I glanced through the roster of English classes online. Then I thought, “Hey, why not Milton?” It was still a 4000-level English class, but the number wasn’t really what caught my attention. No, it was my obsession with His Dark Materials. I’m going to have to save my post concerning that said obsession for another time, because if I mention it now, it will overtake this post, which is obviously supposed to be about Milton and the Paradise poems.
On the first day of the semester, I learned that there was an available spot in a photojournalism class I really wanted to take. I’m lazy and get stressed incredibly easily (oh, and I have to limit my course hours so I don’t have to graduate early), so I didn’t want to take five classes this semester. Or any semester, for that matter. I did that my very first semester of college, and I was a little overwhelmed. I would have to drop Poetry or Milton.
I went to the bookstore, because, like the model student I am, I didn’t have my textbooks. Plus I wouldn’t have time to pick up the photojournalism textbook later that day. Obviously, I used this bookstore trip to examine my course loads for the Milton and poetry classes. The poetry class required that I buy nine books; the Milton class only required one. I was taking Milton.
I’m sure I would have adored the poetry class, but I’m really glad with the choice I made. I immediately decided to stay in the class when I walked into the room and saw one of my friends sitting in a desk. That meant I wouldn’t be the only sophomore in a 4000-level English class. We younger English majors who are a year ahead in our classes have to stick together. Will and I make great study partners. We are killing that class. Also we’re making the same scores on everything, which I think is funny. I think everything is funny, though.
There are a number of other reasons I like Milton. Firstly, we have a similar mindset. There is evidence in Milton’s earlier work, which he wrote when he was around my age, that he didn’t feel like he was doing enough with his life and work. Milton was a perfectionist and a worrywart, just like me! His environment was extremely competitive: He was surrounded by scholars and writers, and I think it terrified him a little. He must have put himself under a tremendous amount of pressure. I just liked that we have similar mentalities. It makes me feel a lot better about being in a huge creative slump (which is disappearing, by the way, if you haven’t noticed – I’m writing something every day now!).
I also have this thing for religious literature. I guess it’s because I wasn’t raised with any particular religious background. With an Iranian dad and an American mom, it’s pretty obvious that my parents didn’t have a similar religious background. I did go to Catholic school, but the only religious literature I was really exposed to was a little bit of the New Testament, books in the religion and literature class I took (and everybody in the class got to pick a book, and that’s how I got a Catholic teacher to assign The Golden Compass to his class.). Oh, and the songs I sang in mass for chorus. Aside from the New Testament class I had to take in the 10th grade, my other exposures to religious literature were optional.
I haven’t read much Puritan literature. My AP American Lit class read a few Puritan poems before we had to read The Scarlet Letter when I was in the 11th grade, but that was American Puritan literature (again, that exposure was completely optional since I chose to take the AP English class). Milton was a Puritan, and obviously he wasn’t an American Puritan. And reading an English Puritan’s literature is nice because I can read it without having to discuss the Salem Witch Trials or anything of the sort. It was a nice spin on things. I just really like reading religious literature because I’m free to make an interpretation without anybody telling me how to think or judging me. People don’t know what I’m up to because I’m just reading! Isn’t literature wonderful?

Evidence suggests that Satan was the original troll.

Okay, point number three. I love Paradise Lost. I made Paradise Lost my bitch this semester. Paradise Regain’d can be my little bitch. Or would that be my bottom bitch? I’m not sure. I can’t speak pimp. I’ve assigned myself all this supplementary reading material, like Utopia, His Dark Materials (of course), and the Old Testament, so I can research Paradise Lost and appreciate it even more. Paradise Lost actually helped inspire me to create my own concentration within my English major. Well, reading Dante’s Inferno and Pullman helped with that too.
Paradise Lost is one rich text. Sure, there are the obvious themes of knowledge, obedience, and disguises, but there is so much more. There’s history, sociability, fertility, heroism (well, atypical heroism), teaching, the power of words, and of course, blindness (these are all topics for the essay I have to write during my exam tomorrow, by the way). And there are allusions all over the place. There are geographical allusions, biblical allusions (well, obviously), mythological allusions, even allusions to Milton’s other poems. I read one in Paradise Regain’d today, for example. Milton’s texts are so rich! I’m rolling in literary dough! I just love literature so much!
I’m not so sure if writing about how much I like Paradise Lost helps me study for my exam at all, but at least it makes me eager. I have already planned out my essay, after all (I’m writing about the roles of sociability in Paradise Lost, Paradise Regain’d, and Comus). I’m actually kind of excited to write this essay, because I know I’m going to kill it. Since when do I feel this way about finals? I suppose I did feel this way yesterday.
I have a new theory! Milton’s work is slightly responsible for the route to happiness and stability that I’ve encountered. Yeah, why not? I’m sure I could argue it. At this point, I can argue anything.  And now I really need to end this post and actually do my work, so I’m going to end this as strongly as I can – so I’m going to use the end of Paradise Lost to close this up. Feast on this, lovers of literature.

            The World was all before them, where to choose
            Thir place of rest, and Providence thir guide:
            They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow,
            Through Eden took thir solitarie way.