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.

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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.

 

Cosmo’s No-No

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In my world, being a magazine major is a legitimate excuse for sitting in the faculty authors section of the UGA bookstore and poring through magazines several times a week. I consider it research, which really isn’t that crazy since I’m trying to see what kind of stories people are interested in and what kind of pieces I’ll be competing with one day. I also like to look for unethical ads and mistakes that magazines make because finding faults in well-established publications is fun and there’s no getting around that.

Cover, why won’t you give me answers?

Last week, the November issue of Cosmopolitan hit the stands. I’m not going to lie. I’m a girl, and since Cosmo is one of the most widely read women’s magazines out there, I research it. I do like the magazine. Don’t judge me for it. But something about the November issue left me really confused. Cosmo-induced confusion isn’t new or anything, and I think lots of girls my age can agree. Cosmopolitan can be baffling at times because the magazine dedicates an entire department to men, treating random facts like groundbreaking discoveries. Sorry Cosmo, but we all know that a man’s testosterone levels are highest in the morning, and the sex appeal of the word “bacon” isn’t that surprising considering how much people love to eat it.
But let me get to my point.

I didn’t recognize the woman on the cover, so I scanned it for some kind of clue. There was no name on the cover. Who the hell was this bitch? Did Cosmopolitan just make a huge mistake? I flipped to the table of contents to see if I could find out who this girl was and why she was on the cover. Nothing.
I didn’t figure out that this woman was Kate Upton, who might be a famous model or something, but how the hell would I know that, until I got to the page that teaches people how to steal the cover look. I didn’t care about what this girl was wearing or how somebody applied her makeup. Why was she significant enough to put on the cover? What makes her relevant? I may hate Taylor Swift more than anything, but Glamour didn’t make any mistakes putting her on the November cover because she is extremely relevant right now and every teenage girl on the planet is going to pick that issue up. Or why not Selena Gomez again? Didn’t she just get busted for a sex tape? That would have been perfect!

Wow! I learned so much!

I was hoping Cosmo would provide some explanation as to why Kate Upton was significant and worthy of a magazine cover that wasn’t something like Sports Illustrated. I flipped the pages frantically in search of the profile on Kate Upton. There was no time to read some fact about men I already knew since I am blessed with common sense. The trend report and Sexy vs. Skanky could wait. I had to get to the bottom of this.
I finally found it – I actually hadn’t realized that I found it until I flipped past it. So I went back. There wasn’t a story here. It was just a busty blonde girl modeling some lingerie and sweaters. Well what was the point of that? There’s something like that in every issue of Cosmo. No, every issue of every women’s magazine. And for some reason, somebody thought this was more important than a profile. Or is there just nothing special about Kate Upton? Is that why Cosmo didn’t even bother to interview her? And no, a few quotes about style don’t count as an interview.

I really hope this discrepancy isn’t here to stay, because I really like reading profiles and interviews. I may think a celebrity is stupid, but then I’ll read a cover story on her and not hate her as much. And I really like Cosmo’s interviews because there’ll be a page showing a survey the cover girl filled out. The November issue didn’t even have that.

Come on, Cosmopolitan. Helen Gurley Brown used to be your editor-in-chief. You’re supposed to help women establish a sense of self-empowerment. Nixing a profile on your cover girl isn’t the best way of doing that.

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.

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.