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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Lycidas 3: Have Fish, Will Travel?

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Before you read this, please know that despite the absurdity of this post, I am being completely serious.
You all need to know that I adore my fish. I think he’s the cutest thing in the world. I talk to him every time I see him. I even wrote a haiku about talking to him (talking to my fish/probably is not okay/oh well, what the hell).

But I have a problem. As of two hours ago, it is officially December in this time zone. The last day I need to be here is the 10th, unless by some strange turn of events I finish my Ulysses project three days early – and that isn’t happening, because this project is worth half my grade and I want to make an A in the class, dammit!

For me, being on break isn’t just about being back in my hometown and hanging out with my sister and her cat – it’s also about much greater things, like free food, going downtown and begging my friends to get pizza with me, and sleeping until noon every day. The holidays are such a special time, and I really want Lycidas to be a part of my winter break, because let’s face it: if he isn’t, then he will die.

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If only this guy could take care of Lycidas.

Who would be in Athens to take care of my fish? Nobody. And it’s not like I could just give him one of those big fish food pellets that can keep a fish alive for a week, because I will be gone for at least three weeks.

Then there is the whole water question. I have to clean out his tank biweekly because the water gets really cloudy and Lycidas does not enjoy swimming around in a rave from the 80s. And do you know what else water does? It evaporates. If I were away from Lycidas for three and a half weeks, then half the water in his tank would evaporate in my absence. I could ask somebody to watch him for me, but I don’t really know anybody who would be here the entire break.

It may be crazy, but I feel like the best option here is to take Lycidas home with me. There’s just one little issue: Lycidas lives in a filtered tank – he needs those little air bubbles to live. He can last in a vase for 15 minutes whenever I clean his tank, but I don’t know if he’s strong enough to take on sitting in a plastic cup for two hours while I drive to Macon. To be honest, that probably classifies as animal abuse. Plus there’s the whole issue of him dying in my car. You guys know I believe my capability as a responsible person completely depends on my ability to keep Lycidas alive, and since I’ve managed to do so for three months without any trauma, it would break my heart if I killed him when I was doing my best to keep him alive.

Isolated of the gold fish on white

Note: Lycidas is not a goldfish. I just like this picture.

I am truly in a predicament. Do any of you know anything about fish care? What about fish transport? Would it be better for me to leave Lycidas in Athens with some kind of pet-sitter? Or would he have a stronger chance of surviving through Christmas break if I took him home with me? And this isn’t the only time I would be away from Athens for a long time. Even though it’s far off, I still worry about what to do with him when the school year finally ends and I go home for the summer.

What is the best way to handle this situation? Will my baby die if I put him in a plastic cup for two hours? Is it possible for him to handle the stress that comes with long-distance travel? Can I make the possibility of spending Christmas with my fish a reality?

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.

Do I See a Light?

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Despite the fact that I am a somewhat normal human being, I’m not really abhorring finals week this time around.
I don’t know, I actually feel kind of good about my finals. I mean, I got a 90 on my Paradise Lost test. My Milton final should be manageable. I can write, and I write better closer to deadline. I have to turn in 10 pictures for my photo class, and we’re allowed to use pictures we’ve submitted before.
Do you have any idea how awesome this feels? I’m not worrying. I’m eating whatever I want, and it feels awesome (I actually don’t eat that unhealthily when I’m not sticking myself to any sort of regimen, I’ve discovered). I even think I look okay. All of me.
This is crazy stuff, guys! This does not regularly happen to me!
I am making great decisions this week. I might as well get fat now instead of waiting for Austria. Actually, this week can be practice. I can test my stomach’s capacity limits. It’ll be fun! I don’t think eating prosciutto has ever been a mistake for me before, so I’m completely okay. Oh, and I found out about this class that’s going to be offered spring semester that would be perfect for my emphasis (because I’m a huge nerd and wanted to create my own emphasis, radical religious literature): comparative Islamic literature. Doesn’t that sound awesome? The answer is yes!
I’m also going to a party dressed as that fine-ass bitch ballerina ostrich from Fantasia. Let me be honest, I kind of wanted to be her when I was little.
This bitch. Just… wow. I thought she was the greatest character ever when I was a kid. Well, I thought almost every character in Fantasia was the greatest character ever when I was a kid, minus the dinosaur part. It was boring to me.

What else am I feeling good about?
Actually having a little spare time. That’s actually why I’ve been on here so much. I have time to write things! And I’m actually inspired to write about things. That hasn’t happened in a while. Well, I guess a few weeks since I’ve been fantasizing about spending six weeks in Europe this summer so much.
I have time to read too, so I’ve gotten a little more of The Flame Alphabet out of the way (I guess I should be rereading all those Milton poems I had to learn about in the beginning of the semester… Nah). I still like it, by the way.
See how carefree I’m being this week? Shouldn’t I be acting a little differently? I studied for my Milton exam outside at 10:30 tonight. I’m blogging about a cartoon ostrich I idolized about a child when I have a test in a day (and a half, I guess).
I’m feeling great. I’m feeling really great. And I know I’ve picked the oddest time to unfurl my optimism, but hey, at least I’m not pulling my hair out anymore.
It’s nice.

12 Things I Learned in 2012

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Well, the semester’s almost over and for some reason I’m not panicking. For the first time in well, ever, I’m being motivated to do well on my exams and projects by excitement instead of anxiety. In two weeks, I’ll be at the beach, and in two months, I’ll be getting fat in Austria. Thinking about what lies ahead is much more motivating and comforting than worrying about a number on top of a piece of paper or on a computer screen.
I’m in a somewhat cheesy mood since I’m almost done with school. You know, reminiscent, reflective, calm. Kind of like the end of an episode of a TV show or a book. So I thought I’d verbalize (or, um, type) the important things I’ve learned this year because hey, I’ve learned a lot both in and out of school. The things I learned really helped me, and I hope they can help somebody else too.

  1. Make time for what keeps you sane. It’s important. (This is why I’m writing a lot more even though my finals start Monday.)
  2. The people who want to hire you don’t necessarily care about your grades. Now if only my father could learn this….
  3. The AP style likes to make certain words and sentences less appealing.
  4. Talking to people you don’t know isn’t as scary as you think.
  5. Don’t be afraid to take on experiences you normally wouldn’t or talk to people you’d avoid otherwise. This is especially important if you want to be a journalist.
  6. Just because something was written hundreds of years ago doesn’t mean you won’t be able to understand and appreciate it. (Case in point? Milton is a genius.)
  7. Although I hate to say this, there really is a thing as too much sleep. If it’s severely interfering with your life, try to eliminate or reduce whatever may be responsible.
  8. Pills may suck, but anxiety attacks that are so bad I can’t leave the house or drive are much, much worse. Take the damn pill.
  9. Remember that 3-subject notebook you bought at the beginning of fall semester? Well, it will take four classes and one news writing lab to fill that notebook up.
  10. Have at least one guilty pleasure and try to incorporate it into your routine. When you’re down, go to it. (This works especially well if your guilty pleasure is Degrassi. It really just puts things into perspective.)
  11. Pay attention to your body. If you keep having nightmares, you’re probably really stressed out. Analyze your dreams and try to find out what’s bothering you. If you’re shaky, eat more, take some iron pills, and get your blood tested. Even if you don’t have anemia, you’ll be relieved that you got checked out. Also keep cold and allergy medicine nearby, because you will get sick at least four times a year in a university setting.
  12. People are kind of like tennis matches (or whatever game you wish to insert here): you win some, you lose some. Don’t let it bother you so much, because that’s just the nature of the game.

Control-Alt-Delete

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I am a control freak. Every day is a battle between my dictatorial urge to exert complete control over every aspect of my life and my battered, overly stressed psyche. I moderate whatever I can: how much work I do in a certain day, what kinds of food I eat, the amount of food I end up eating, how much money I spend on food, how much time I spend in my room, and when I want to get things done. You should see my day planner – it may be adorable and uplifting on the outside and come with stickers (I know, it looks so harmless here), but on the inside, it’s a sentence for anxiety attacks. I’ve scribbled pages and pages of to-do lists that range from my academic tasks for the week to what I need to buy at the grocery store to certain ways I want to think. They’ve taken multiple forms, too – I’ll draw a calendar next to an obsessive bulleted list to remind myself that my tasks aren’t simply jarred strings of words, but real actions that are chained to deadlines and time. That’s right, I have multiple lists for the same thing. My attempt to become more organized and subsequently think more clearly has only thrown me into an even larger spiral of worrying. My motion to reduce my anxiety has not only backfired, it’s managed to stress me out even more.
Did I mention that I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder? Yeah, that plays a huge part in this.
I’m a worrywart. You probably inferred that from the tone I used earlier in this post. I will worry about anything – I worry about everything, actually: grades, whether I’m marketing myself enough, what I eat, my cholesterol intake, time, my friends, my family, my weight, not getting enough sleep, sleeping too much, my performance, my car’s MPG, you name it. It can take me a matter of seconds to trap myself in a cycle of anxiety, and once I’m in there, it’s very hard to pull myself out. I have to take pills for it – pills that are supposed to mellow me out, which just make me tired all the time, and bipolar pills, because I can’t stabilize myself when I get anxious.
For some reason, I love worrying about things I have absolutely no control over. This category namely includes quarrels within my family (and since it’s divorced and partially Iranian, that happens very often), what other people think of me, and any negative situation my friends get into.
Of course, it’s only logical that I cope with situations I can’t control by taking it out on myself. Here’s where my nature as a control freak comes in. I tell myself that by achieving perfection, I can fix things that I honestly can’t do a thing about. I’ve tried to cope with my school-based stress and ignore the series of intense fights my dad and sister had a few years ago by cutting off a chunk of my food supply. That worked stupendously. Then I’ll bottle everything up and crack weeks or months later. That method helps me out too. Ignoring my anxiety or covering it up with a control-based issue is my go-to method is coping with a stressful or depressing situation.
The thing about my coping mechanisms is that they don’t work. They make things much worse, actually. There’s also the matter that they’re completely inappropriate methods of stress management. Since when has shutting myself away from the world and hiding in my bed helped me get over something? It hasn’t. It hasn’t helped me at all, but for some reason, I am set on doing it every time something troublesome comes my way.
I cannot do this anymore. I can’t! It’s driving me crazier. Even thinking about my anxiety is stressing me out. I have to change. And it’s not just so I can make it past May 7th in one piece – I don’t want this interfering with the rest of my life. I want to be a journalist. I want to travel and write and get paid for it somehow. How am I supposed to get my stories and interview people if I’m afraid of talking on the phone?  I’m afraid that if I can’t tame my anxiety, I’ll be living with my parents or something and not be able to work efficiently. That isn’t exactly my dream.
I have to tackle this on a short-term scale right now because my finals are creeping up on me and I’ve got two projects due within the next week. They’re both for my journalism classes, so that means I’m going to have to talk to people I don’t know and sit at a computer for a long time. I can’t have any distractions, especially not anxiety.
I’ve started by eliminating my sources of stress. It’s proven to be pretty easy so far. With school, it’s getting things out of the way and setting up meetings and interviews for my projects. I don’t have to worry about my Paradise Lost test anymore, so that relieves me a lot, especially because I think I did really well on it. So that’s one issue out of the way. I’ve got some leeway on my projects, and I’m in the process of finalizing setting all my interviews and appointments up. I’ve got one tomorrow, one on Friday… I have to set my other two interviews up, but that shouldn’t be a huge deal, especially because I figured out how to record phone conversations (that one was a bit of a lifesaver.)
Then there’s studying for finals, which I’m actually not too concerned about. But I’ve got all my notes typed up, so I don’t even have to let any senses of impending doom concerning not having studied for my news writing final at all bother me. That’s good.
I’ll get my projects done. I’m typing that again to encourage myself. It’s working, just so you know.
I have to say that the easiest adjustment I’ve made was shutting off all my worries about food. I mean, yeah, food is important. But for these next few weeks, I’m going to try not to worry about what I eat as much. I mean, I’m not scarfing cheeseburgers down for every single meal. And at this point, I really believe that a slice of bacon is healthier than all the stress I’ve endured over the years from fixating on food so much. So for now, all worries concerning food will be shut off, and I’ve made a good start. I drank one of the best iced lattes I’ve ever had today, and I spontaneously took 15 minutes aside yesterday to sit down and have a few scoops of blood orange gelato.
It was definitely worth it.