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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Look, I Have Goals!

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

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

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

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

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

Victory!

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Last night I turned in early yet again because all I could think about was how exhausted I was and revising something that I’m writing. Determined to top four and a half hours of sleep, I popped a whole sleeping pill in my mouth, grimaced because it started dissolving before I had swallowed it, and plopped into my bed.
When I awoke, my first thought was, “fuck, it’s 4:30 and I’m awake.” My alarm went off five seconds later.
Realizing that I actually had gotten a full night’s sleep for the first time in a week gave me an added surge in my energy. The window didn’t feel too chilly, so I could wear a tank top, I hadn’t lost any sleep, and I was about to drink some tea and enjoy my breakfast. You know how I love my breakfast. I wouldn’t even need a cup of that wretched coffee!
Since I wasn’t a zombie, class went better than usual. I aced my Daisy Miller quiz, and even though I fully expected it since I’ve read the story before, I still felt a brightness as I looked at the 20 with the smiley face in the 0 scribbled on the top of my page.
Evelyn said she would go to the lake with me tomorrow. I haven’t done much with any locals aside from talking to creepy older men in bars and impressing our housekeeper and Joyce, so I really want to go. We can talk about things I actually care about: food; literature; places; our families. And why shouldn’t I befriend a local?  We have common interests, and I haven’t really been able to bond extensively with many people here. Well, girls at least. It’s so much easier for me to talk to guys here. They like food, and good food at that, and they don’t give a fuck about counting calories. I should probably hang out with more guys.
After my class ended, I walked around the city for a while. Aside from a store where I could buy tweezers and a gelato stand, I had no destination in particular, and that was really nice. I haven’t managed to find a portable keg like the one I saw somebody wearing the other day, but I did see a Mozart shot glass, and that amused the hell out of me. I want to say I walked past a few useful places too – a bike shop, a Thai restaurant, places that sell sunglasses. Even going out was okay, because the dollar drinks for today actually tasted good and I befriended some guys who really like food. Maybe I’ll go eat with them one day or something, because they are the only other people I’ve encountered who are as excited as I am about a Thai restaurant being here. And I ate a grilled cheese sandwich.
All that’s really been on my brain is editing and producing. I really want this story I’m working on to be good. I mean, it is good, but I really want to make it the best it can be. I’ve been rereading it relentlessly – learning about Hemingway’s revising techniques is getting to my head.  At the same time, I’m really excited because I’ve never thought about writing so much. Sometimes all I want to do here is separate myself from everybody else and expand my ideas, edit my story, and churn out some reflections to post on here. Sorry if this post didn’t really have a point. I’m just in a great mood. I’m finally starting to feel like an active writer.
If I go to the lake with Evelyn tomorrow I’ll put some pictures up. I don’t really feel like the pictures I’ve taken so far are very blog-worthy.
And for now? A shower, a little The Sun Also Rises, and ideally, some more writing and editing.

Norman

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There comes a time every semester here when some students will walk around campus holding specific plants, and whenever that time has come in the past, I have been extremely jealous. “Why does she have a plant? I have to figure out which class this is,” I’d think to myself.
The first time I encountered Plant Day was during my very first semester of college. I heard somebody say that a certain introductory English class here had an assignment where students would have to take a plant home, watch it grow, and write about it. I thought that was an awesome assignment, and then I got bummed because I would never be able to write about a plant growing for a grade (I AP’d out of English 1101 and 1102, so there was no way I’d ever be in one of those plant classes.)
I tried to think of other ways to get a plant. I took a plant biology class the next semester, but I never got a free plant. It didn’t occur to me that I could just do the assignment I heard about on my own for months.

It happened to me in September. It was Plant Day again, and I finally decided to go up to somebody and ask what class the plant he was carrying around was for. He said ecology. I had already taken both science classes I needed for my degree, and I was not exactly keen on taking one as an elective, especially since I’m double-majoring, so yeah, I kind of can’t waste my credits. I decided then and there to get my own plant.

A few days later, I walked out of the local Wal-Mart with my plant, which I had placed into a pot that was a little wider than the plastic one he came in (the pot is more for decoration.)  I named it Norman. I would have bought a pack of seeds, but autumn was approaching and I didn’t want to kill anything. Plus this is one adorable plant. I sat him outside in the warm air, and marveled at the realm of botanical responsibility I had entered.

Me and Norm in his winter clothes during Christmas break

Norman’s growth was pretty, well, nonexistent for a few months. I didn’t think he would get any bigger at all, actually. After the semester ended, I brought Norman home to Macon with me for Christmas break. It worked out really well because Norman fits in my car’s cup holder perfectly. We drove towards home and the holidays excitedly.
I figured he’d die of loneliness at my dad’s house, so I took him to my mom’s. She was really excited to meet him – she was one of the first people I told about him, actually. My mother took excellent care of Norman. It was during one of my last days on break that she pointed out how well he was doing at her house – Norman had grown an extra leaf. My mom wanted to keep Norman, because he was obviously happier in Macon with her than he was in Athens with me. But no, I was selfish. I brought him back to Athens, where he resumed his old life: stable, yet complacent.
Little did I know that my decision to bring Norman back to school with me would almost kill him.

Two months later, spring break arrived. I decided to leave Norman in Athens for the duration of my absence. He really doesn’t require that much water, and I assumed my roommate would water him if he got too dry.
He didn’t.
When I returned to Athens, Norman’s soil was dry and flaky. It even looked like some had disappeared – I have no logical explanation on how that happened. My other ideas don’t make that much sense.
The first thing I did when I saw Norman in such a frail condition was stick him under the faucet. There wasn’t enough dirt in his pot to support his drooping stalks, so I went outside and put some soil from a dead plant’s pot and put it in his. Norman needed support: his stalks were hanging over, and some of his leaves fell off when i touched them. That terrified me.

For days I paid a ridiculous amount of attention to my plant. I gave him too much water at first – so much that the top layer of his soil looked like it was covered in either mold or rhizomes, I’m still not sure. Then I decided to make sure he got as much sunlight as he could so the excess water would get dried up. That worked a little.
Then I decided that maybe by having a companion, Norman could return to his health. I bought a pink hydrangea and named it Happy, and sat her next to Norman on the table on my porch. Happy was different from Norman – she required lots of water and actually produces flowers. Despite their differences, Norman and Happy have a beautiful friendship. They always sit next to one another and I water them at the same time. I think Happy’s presence actually improved Norman’s health, because he has started growing again. Now my baby Norman has six new leaves and a wonderful pink friend. And best of all, I didn’t kill my plant.