Hi, I Have Tendinitis

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I don’t know how school manages to get even more overbearing each semester, but it definitely does. This go around, it’s a little different. I’ve got the typical situation – I don’t have time for anything, my majors are conflicting like crazy, I’m so stressed I can’t think straight or sleep – but I guess this semester really wanted to take things to the next level. Now I also have physical pain to deal with!
I’m in two writing intensive majors, I know. But the thing is hand cramps and arm pain have never been a problem aside from the essay portions of exams, and even then, the pain goes away after a while. That is just not the case here. Something very specific here is turning me into an old lady.

It’s comm law. No, not common law – this isn’t England. Communication law, the hell class for all journalism students. Comm law is like AP US history (or government, but I never took that class because I wanted to take journalism and chorus instead) on crack. You know what else comm law is like? An abusive boyfriend. You drive yourself into exhaustion trying to be good enough for this class, and then it just turns around and slaps you in the face. Well yeah, enough about that. The point is that this class is terrifying and intimidating, especially to a control freak like me. And when the professor said we should spend five hours preparing for each class, I took it very seriously. This class took over my life.

Comm law even made it into my Instagram feed

Comm law even made it into my Instagram feed

I had a comm law test last week, and I was so ridiculously afraid of failing it that I started preparing for it the first week of school. Yeah, you know, five weeks in advance. And I didn’t just study: I put myself through hell. There would be days when I outlined my readings for three or four hours. And by outlining, I mean going back through everything I had already highlighted and writing it down. And in the week before the test, I made a bunch of flash cards, so I wrote down a bunch of the stuff I had already written all over again.
The result looked something like this, so I actually had to give up on studying:

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But then, you know, my test was last week, and once I got that out of the way, I thought I could just refrain from using my hands and arms for a while. I thought that once they were done being dramatic and hurting all the time, I would be able to write again, although nowhere near as hardcore as I went in the first month or so of school.
Yeah… that didn’t happen. Even when I wasn’t using my hands and arms, they were still hurting. I had an advising appointment last week, and I happened to look down and realize my right arm was swollen and didn’t look like the left one. The next night, I went to buy groceries and experienced an attack of arm pain that was so bad I had to go home. And you know what? It was Valentine’s Day, and I wanted to go out and sing karaoke that night, but instead I lay in my bed and cried for a little while because of my arms.
Then the next morning, I woke up and my pain was magically gone. And it stayed that way for a few days – then reality (school) got in the way, and my hands were getting sore from activities as light as holding a highlighter for 20 minutes or using a keyboard (it’s actually taken me two days to write this blog post).

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This is when my arm turned into a balloon

I know this sounds really stupid, but I feel kind of helpless. I mean, this is really interfering with my life. There is absolutely no way I can survive without using my hands – I mean, people use their hands for everything! Isn’t that something that separates us from animals, at least to a degree? I have to use my hands to read and write and take notes and hold my books. Without my hands, I will fail school unquestionably. But then there are other things that have become so much harder too, like washing dishes, carrying groceries, and texting. And I don’t know what I’ll do if it hurts to use my hands to use utensils or hold my food. I am not about to endure food-related trauma at the expense of tendinitis – eating is just way too important to me.

But yeah, I’m totally going to a doctor, because as silly as it is, I really cannot afford to deal with this.

Lack of Focus

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I have a nasty habit of being all over the place – well, I guess you’d call it more of a personality trait than a habit, but my point still stands. If you need better evidence, just take a look at the majority of papers and drafts I’ve gotten back from my professors. Somewhere there is a “lack of clear focus” or “these ideas aren’t tied together” scribbled in the margin. To be honest, the only situation I’m really good at fixating in is anxiety attacks, and I certainly don’t want to make a life out of that.

Journalism school terrifies me sometimes because I feel like everybody has a trademark: there are the fashion-obsessed, the foodies, the music junkies, the editors-in chief, and the technologically savvy mass media people, and they all have outlets in which they represent themselves accurately and wholly. And then there’s me, the one who blogs almost anything from recycled homework to rants about stupid people and ideas she really doesn’t agree with. And I don’t know why, but I feel like trademark people just have everything together and are taken way more seriously because of it. Just thinking about it frightens me (go anxiety theme). My fingers are even trembling right now.

But I have to stop thinking about things like this, because I don’t think I can ever be one of those one-track people. I can’t even pick a single favorite color or food. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a trademark. It’s a quality I envy and don’t think I can ever have, just because of my history, genealogy, and influences.
Everything about me is a multiple. I consider myself multiracial to a degree, or at least multicultural – if I can’t qualify as multiracial because I look white and middle eastern is technically white on every standardized test I have ever taken (even though I check both “white” and “other”), then I’ll just settle with spicy. My home life is split in two. Ever since I was six and my parents split up, I’ve had to live under a joint custody. My shrink says I’m a dichotomy between an old soul and a child. I’m a double major because I couldn’t decide whether I liked literature or writing stories more – I like words! Why can’t I just like everything about words?

One hundred percent of me agrees that I’m not cut out to be one of those one-track people, and at least now I am entirely agreeing on something. I like too many things. I like words. I like eating. I like humor. I like sleeping. I like clothes. I like music. I like traveling. I like playing psychologist. I like taking pictures and recording things. I like people (well, sometimes). I think most of all I like liking things. It’s way easier to narrow down a list of the things I hate: bees, brussels sprouts, not being warm enough, being the tallest person under the umbrella, and numbers. See how much easier that was for me?

I don’t know if dualities are the way to get noticed in the real world and the future, but I guess I’m going to have to deal with it, because even though not having a clear focus makes me look really juvenile, I kind of like not having a trademark.
So from now on, I’ll just sell myself as someone who likes everything excluding that list above, because god forbid I will ever write a story about something like beekeeping.
I’ll work this.
Or, I guess I should say these.

This isn't in focus either. Get it?

This isn’t in focus either. Get it?

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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Freeman 44 (1)

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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.

Confessions of a Luddite

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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.

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.