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?

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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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.

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.

Here We Go Again

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Look, I’m alive! And I’m going to let the internet know about it!

So what is happening? School is happening, obviously. And as usual, it’s terrifying me. I’m too advanced for my own good.
But other things are happening too. I got a position at a paper, which is nice because I can be as dramatic and abrasive as I want to be within reason. And by within reason, I mean I can’t use the word “rape.” The people behind the paper actually get pissed if the content isn’t ridiculous enough.
Meanwhile, I’m overflowing with ideas, which is awesome. It’s funny. I had extreme writer’s block all the time, and once I got to Europe, it just all went away. You guys just didn’t know about it because I got super lazy and started posting on this. So I’m super idealistic right now, and once I stop being so tired and lazy all the time, things should flow very quickly. The columns I want to write but are too serious for The Black Sheep will probably end up on here. I can be serious, I mean it.
Anything else? Oh yeah, now that I’m not going out of the country for a month anymore, I can finally get a fish. So hopefully Lycidas will come into the picture soon, especially because my dad killed my other plant and Norman no longer has company.

Aaaand now I’m exhausted, which is kind of funny because I meant to go into my goals for junior year and twentydom. All I care about right now is taking a nap.
I’ll get better at this, I promise.

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.

Under Pressure

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Something very strange happened to me today.
I had just finished my last final. It was easy. Really easy. All I had to do was translate three short paragraphs’ worth of material: two from Farsi to English, and one from English to Farsi. Straight out of the textbook. Probably the easiest final I’ve ever taken.
I walked out of the room and down the stairs. I went outside, deeply inhaled the scent of warm, wet sidewalk (which I really love for some reason) several times, and started walking towards the bookstore so I could take my textbooks back.
Everything should have felt perfect. I was done with school. Done! And halfway finished with college! Another year closer to becoming a writer. Well, at least writing professionally. Another year closer to true independence and living for myself, because I cannot wait to embrace that cheesy stage of my life. My summer had officially started. I should have felt elated, right?
Wrong.
I felt drained, and the tension in my arms and stomach increased. My shirt started feeling tighter and tighter, and my heartbeat sped up. I was about to have an anxiety attack for no reason at all, and that scared me even more.
Whatever happened to me really troubles me. I am all about reason. I’m ridiculously rational, and even before I was an English major, I was known to seriously overanalyze things. I feel like everything I do revolves around reason. I’m uptight. Sometimes I come across as spontaneous, but realistically, I don’t think I have it in me. I can’t do something without thinking it through first. The only exception to that letting something I shouldn’t say slip out.
I think the anxiety I put myself through over very justifiable worries is ridiculous, even though I can’t bring myself to stop it. This, however… this was just terrifying. All I can call it is a panic attack, because it practically came out of nowhere.
The whole time I was panicking, I kept thinking about how I can’t really comprehend or retain things that don’t relate to writing. It’s like my brain won’t let anything else in or even pay attention to it. I have to be reasonable and at least say I know it isn’t true, but I feel like writing is all I’m good at. It’s all I can really show for myself.
Like school, I’m not really good at school. If I were good at school, I wouldn’t be stressed out about it all the time, right? And people. I’m terrible with people. I can’t even talk to people. And my body. I put shit into my body. I’m clumsy and awkward and uncoordinated, and my stamina is ridiculously low. Possibly because of all the chemicals I have to put into it, because even my brain sucks at doing its job. My own brain, the center of my being, cannot keep me stable. Sometimes I just feel like a huge failure.
With writing it’s different. Words are the one thing I’m really confident about. I can write a story and push my opinion on people without ever actually stating it. I can write a mean paper. I’m really good at analyzing literature. I can recognize the roots in words that belong to different languages. My brain’s a little shot right now, so I can’t really come up with good evidence, so just trust me on this one. I’m a literary genius. I’m not a journalistic genius yet, but I’m catching on pretty damn quickly. Words are my forte.
They’re also my life. All I ever do is think. And my thoughts aren’t really pictures, they’re words. I’ve noticed that words are the only thing that calm me down when I’m really stressed out. I don’t even have to be near a piece of paper or a keyboard. If I start writing sentences in my head, I immediately feel better. I’m not joking when I say I depend on words, because I really feel that way. Words have saved me from feeling sick, pressured, and well, dense again and again.
I think words are the only way I’m going to be able to get through my anxiety. You know, my big anxiety. Not just one little attack, but the fact that I have them so frequently and can completely go off the edge in a matter of minutes. Waking up several times every night from nightmares and not being able to go back to sleep because I start worrying is the big anxiety. There is ample evidence that shows I can’t tackle the big anxiety on my own, not even with medication or anything like that; I can’t overcome this if I’m just Sarra who takes a pill to make something go away. I have to be more than that. I have to be Sarra who utilizes words and channels them into saving her from the big anxiety. I really don’t think there’s any other way.

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.