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.

 

Sorry….

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It’s been ages, I know. I feel terrible for staggering so badly and that I at least owe the people who read this some kind of explanation.

School has taken over my life. Worse than usual. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it on here before, but this is the worst semester of my life. School is kind of kicking my ass – well, I’m not doing badly, but I have to work much harder than I ever have before, and to be completely honest, I hate it.

Double majoring is a blessing and a curse at the same time. I love being able to look at different styles of writing from other perspectives. It actually gives me a huge edge in my classes. Then there’s the bad side – because I have two majors, I have to split my priorities. When I’m really busy, I’ll work on something for one class for about 20 minutes and then grab my other notebook. It kind of sucks, especially when four drastically different projects get thrown at me.

But I won’t complain about school anymore today. At least not here.
Since I’ve left this dry for the equivalent of a semester, I’ll try to give you a few updates. There are a couple things I have actually managed to stick to. Here are the more important things going on:

  1. Lycidas is alive and well. I can’t believe he survived Thanksgiving break, and now that finals are approaching (well, one-final-and-three-huge-projects), i’m being sent into a frenzy over how I am going to care for him over Christmas break. I would really like to take him home so he could spend the holidays with me, but I’m terrified that if I take him out of his filtered tank for two hours he will die.
  2. I managed to keep up a few of those goals I made for myself back in August, and I’m happy about it. I went back to using multiple day planners, but it hasn’t really gotten my life back in control.
    The best thing I have done this semester is make a point to write something every week. Ever since I started writing for The Black Sheep, that hasn’t been an issue. Hopefully I won’t be judged by whatever jobs or internships I apply to. And if nobody in the workforce takes me seriously, I can at least applaud myself for having a knack in writing crude humor pieces. You can read everything I’ve written for The Black Sheep (and a story about Thanksgiving, which I did not write but for some reason has my name on it) at theblacksheeponline.com
  3. I tried to be cool and use a link but it fucked everything up. I don’t know why the internet is being so terrible to me right now.
    This is some of my project.

 

  1. I don’t know if this actually constitutes as good graphic design. I just can’t believe I actually made something that looks good with a computer. And I made that cover on Paintbrush for Mac, so you have to be impressed with that, right?
  2. Another good thing I’ve gotten into is working on my culinary skills a little. I’m definitely not a lady-beast by any means, but I am growing. I can make pretty good grits, and I made a salad for lunch tomorrow, which I don’t think I’ve done… well, ever. See? I’m progressing already. 

But… I should probably back away from my laptop. Even though I am trying to apologize and make amends for skimping so hard lately, I’m also procrastinating a little and kind of have two huge projects due on noon on Tuesday. You know, just 3000 words to write, no big deal (okay, I lied about complaining.) But one of those projects might end up on here, because if everything goes according to plan, it’s going to be an awesome story about the increasing popularity of bacon in high-end restaurants, desserts, and culture. Yeah. Hopefully.

Hopefully I’ll have more time to write things soon. And if I don’t and the world decides to hate me, at least there’s always Christmas break to look forward to. Brace yourselves: My Big Fat Iranian Christmas is approaching.

Lycidas Part 2

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The things I’ll do to get out of homework can get pretty weird. In the past week, I’ve cleaned my entire apartment, rearranged my room, stayed at paper meetings until the last three people there wanted to go home, and made a Facebook account for my dog – yes, I have reached an all-time low.  On Monday, while I was developing a case of writer’s block, I decided to finally buy some vacuum cleaner bags because my room was a mess and I was tired of seeing my hair on the floor. (It has a nasty habit of falling out. Ask anyone I know.) Google told me that Walmart was the only place that sold Oreck vacuum bags, so I went there.
In order to access the cleaning section, I had to walk past the pet section, which is interestingly adjacent to the electronics and entertainment section. I peered down an aisle and saw fishtanks, remembering that I had wanted to get a fish for a while. Let me refresh your memory – or, if you didn’t read my last Lycidas post, catch you up – I took a Milton class last semester, and one of the poems I had to read, Lycidas, was an elegy for one of Milton’s friends who had drowned. I thought it would be really funny to get a fish and name it Lycidas, because yeah, fish can live underwater. There! Now you’re caught up! But I had to wait for a while. You see, I didn’t want to get a fish before I went to Austria, because I was worried that whoever I entrusted with taking care of it would accidentally let it die. Inadvertently letting your fish starve to death while you’re in Europe is just not fair.
But I wasn’t in Europe anymore. I wasn’t going anywhere for a while. I decided that I had finally come across an opportune moment for a fish. I had been eating vegetables. I had been cleaning ferociously. I was writing weekly. Clearly I was responsible enough for a fish! And here, in a Walmart, I had come across the coolest fish in the world.
And this is how Lycidas came into my life.
Lycidas is the first animal I’ve gotten since I left for school. The only one. I don’t really count Norman because Norman is a plant. Lycidas is my animal, and mine alone. This means that I really want everything to go perfectly and have been freaking out over a fish. I watch him to make sure he eats his food – he’s a little bad at this; at the moment, I’m not sure whether he’s still adjusting to living somewhere else, just not hungry at the moment, or dumb. Or I guess he could have a tiny appetite. Thanks to Dr. Seuss, I believe that fish have enormous appetites. Or I could be basing that off my own appetite. Anyway, I’m trying really hard not to screw up because I feel like fish are really easy to kill. Oh, and because I now believe that my credibility as a responsible person depends on my fish’s life.
I suppose you want to see a picture. Here is Lycidas in all his Instagram glory:

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I told you he was the coolest. And here is again, once he finally became a little less camera-shy. He had to adjust to his new environment, you know.

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In Defense of the Comma

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I’m an English major. Okay, maybe I need to explain this a little more.
I am a huge English nerd. I’ve always liked words and writing. I even liked grammar, especially because at my elementary school, I learned about the parts of speech by drawing little shapes over certain words. A verb got a big red circle. Nouns and adjectives got triangles that varied in size and coloration. Prepositions got green, sideways crescents (the inside of the curve faced down). Okay, I probably shouldn’t go off on parts of speech right now. I can save that for another day.
Since I’m such a huge English nerd, it’s obvious that I like punctuation. Actually, I love punctuation. I get butterflies in my stomach talking about punctuation. I will save my ridiculously long post on how much I adore semicolons and dashes for another day. Maybe the day after I write about parts of speech on here.
Even though they’re not my favorite, I think people forget how important commas are. I have trouble understanding what’s going on in a sentence that’s missing commas it so desperately needs.
Why is this important, you ask? Could this outrageously nerdy post on commas actually relate to anything non-English majors care about?
As you probably (hopefully?) know, the Associated Press deemed Oxford commas unnecessary. Wrong, even. At the time, I didn’t want to go into journalism outside my school paper and local paper’s teen board, so I didn’t really care. I guess I wasn’t a punctuation activist in those days. Plus I wanted to write books for a living, so I didn’t necessarily need to adhere to an AP stylebook.
Sometime after I got into college, I decided to add that second major. And have I ever mentioned how the Pacific Ocean convinced me that I needed to write for travel magazines this past summer? Well yeah, that happened too. So I actually do need to care about AP style now.
I don’t have many problems with AP style, but I do hate that Oxford comma rule – and it’s not just because I’d forget to take my Oxford commas out and my stories for my news writing lab would get lower grades. I know most people who read this will think, “why is this girl so pissed about something so stupid as commas?” Think all you want. I need my third comma to understand what’s going on.
I’ve included that visual aid to help convince people who aren’t so crazy about words that Oxford commas are important. Without them, the reader is left confused.
It can happen to anyone. It can happen to aspiring journalists and grammar Nazis, and I can say that because it happened to me and I am obviously both.
It happened today. I was reading my news writing book because I haven’t since before I took my midterm and I kind of have a final tomorrow. There was a lot of information. So much information. And lots of lists. So many lists. And there were a bunch of words stringed together without commas and I had no idea what was going on. It didn’t happen just once, either. It happened again and again and again, and I felt like an idiot each time.

I have realized that the fault isn’t mine. Associated Press, you did a terrible thing when you discouraged the use of the Oxford comma.  Did you think it would make the reading process easier? It really doesn’t. It confuses me, and I am a pretty well-read person (I’m not trying to sound facetious or anything, but I am). I know all you want to do is make news content easier for your readers. I know you had good intentions, I do. Maybe this year, when you’re changing state abbreviations yet again, you’ll realize that omitting the Oxford comma from your stylebook was a mistake.

I Bought Another Book

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Do you ever walk into a bookstore or library and become overwhelmed with excitement from being surrounded by so many books? I do.
It’s a serious problem. I find it incredibly hard to walk into a bookstore without leaving empty-handed. I’ve accumulated a huge amount of books this way, and it’s a little dangerous because as an English major (and a double major at that), I don’t really have time to read them. If I don’t buy anything, it’s because I sat on a couch or on the floor for around an hour reading magazines. Basically I can’t go in a bookstore without at least touching some form of reading material. I’m just as bad in the library, where I might leave with a slightly heavier backpack because I got distracted by a book while I was supposed to be printing something for free or buying a snack.
Most of my literary purchases or rentals have come from distractions. Maybe serendipity is a better word here. I cut through the UGA bookstore all the time because it’s the best way to avoid crazy preachers or slips of paper from clubs or fraternities I’m not interested in joining. During my evasive trip through the bookstore, I’ll come across a table dedicated to women writers or National Poetry Month, an author I can’t ignore, a Hunger Games parody, or a book with a bright, appealing cover that screams, “notice me!”
Enter The Flame Alphabet.

Come on, look at the picture of the book’s cover I’ve provided. What strong graphics this cover has! (Don’t look down on me for judging books by their covers, guys. Covers have introduced me to great stories – you just have to make sure you look at the synopsis after you’re completely mesmerized by the cover, you know? There’s a reason books even have designs on their covers, so don’t bash my practice.)
The Flame Alphabet burned for my attention (I know, terrible pun, it’s another one of my specialties) for weeks. Because the book has such a vibrant and visually striking cover (I think the design is cool, okay?), it caught my attention several times. However, I was usually in a rush or set on catching up with all the magazines I enjoy reading, so I didn’t actually pick up the copy of The Flame Alphabet that distracted me every time I walked into the bookstore until a few weeks after I first spied it. The cover had done its job. I turned the book around, read the synopsis, and thought, “damn that sounds good.” A day later, I impulsively charged into the store and bought the book. We hit it off instantly.

I’m only about 30 pages in, so my review could be horribly wrong, but I really like the book so far. (The reviews I’ve glanced over online – I don’t really want my experience reading this to be spoiled by reading a review that reveals the whole story, you know? – are mixed.) As of where I am, I like Marcus’ prose, and I find the conflict really interesting. In fact, the other day when I walked into the bookstore to grab a snack (the bookstore is a source of meals as well as entertainment for me), I saw a copy of The Flame Alphabet sitting on a plastic ledge with a sign that read, “best original plot.”
I don’t necessarily have time to finish The Flame Alphabet at the moment, or at least make finishing it my top priority because I’ve got finals coming up and I have some huge projects due this week. I’m also trying to read it in moderation because I don’t want to leave the book right after I start it and leave the story behind (yeah… does anybody else do that? I’m a nerd, I know.)

Hopefully my excuses for not finishing this book yet are at least slightly working. Come May 7th, I’ll have plenty of time to work on The Flame Alphabet and the pile of impulsive bookstore purchases that’s accumulated on my bookshelf.

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.

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!