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?

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My European Grams

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My favorite place

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Typical egg day breakfast

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Nutella banana crepes in Vienna

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I died

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I don’t know grass is trendy in Europe

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Palace gardens in Vienna

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Don’t let looks deceive you – this was fantastic

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Just riding a bus

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Pho in Munich

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Italy

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My friend, the potato

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I just liked the typography

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My favorite

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I got really drunk this night

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I love it

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Can’t you tell I read here a lot?

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Oh my god, eggplant

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Before everything turned pink

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Happy Time Dusche

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The fanciest coffee I’ve ever had

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Italy-boot bottle

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I did not get really drunk this night

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World’s best grilled cheese

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Caprese sandwiches all the time

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I just really love snails

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Who knew?

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They terrified me, so now I’ll terrify you

A Secret Party

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My local friends threw me a surprise birthday party in a secret location today. There was a homemade cake. There were homemade tiny pizzas. We are the only people in the world who know where the secret party happened. I can’t really say much because I don’t want to reveal anything.

It was pouring torrentially when I left my dorm today, so, as you can see, I didn’t take my camera and instead resorted to the camera on my phone.
Just some things I did and actually took pictures of today.

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I ate like an emperor.

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There’s so much more to the Hof Garten than the bar!

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The King and I. Get it?

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Austria is nuts about cards.

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I ordered some chai and got a whole teapot full.

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A view from the location.

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Cornelia and the cake.

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The beautiful darling pizzas.

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Cake.

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Our light.

Confessions of a Luddite Part 2

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Prepare yourself for an ode to Chrome. Oh, and some more Facebook-bashing – I’m kind of in a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love being able to talk to people, share photos, and research others (ahem, stalk them) from my bed. Well, I can do it from other places too, but I usually set up station in bed. Fortunately I can’t do that here because my ethernet cable is pretty short, but I really like this table in my room. It’s like a booth in a restaurant and has nice windows next to it.
Anyway, back to hating things. My biggest issue with Facebook is that it wants to monopolize features from all the other social networking sites. Chat. Memes. Apparently Facebook is getting video chatting soon, evidencing its attempt to win Skype users over. If Facebook can’t copy something well, it just buys it – this opinion is, of course, coming from somebody who knew about Instagram ever since it first came out (I’m so damn cool, I know).  I like having multiple social networking counts. It helps me waste more time, and I can have a slightly different identity on each one. The Facebook Sarra is different from the Tumblr Sarra, the Instagram Sarra, the YouTube Sarra, the WordPress Sarra, et cetera.

I’ll get to my point now. Like I said, I upload an extensive amount of photos to Facebook, and that’s especially true now since I’m studying abroad. Austria is beautiful, and I want people to be able to see what I see. Plus people can know that I’m still alive!
I took pictures at the carnival the other day. If you keep up with this blog at all, you’ve probably seen them. After I got back to my room, I imported my photos to my computer and prepared to upload them to Facebook – a process, that should not be that difficult for somebody who currently has 162 photo albums on Facebook, right?
Not this time. When I clicked “add more photos,” Facebook told me that I needed to install the latest version of Flash Player. “No big deal,” I thought. “Facebook is probably just about to completely change its appearance again or accumulate a feature from another website.” I updated my flash player. I guess it took about five minutes. I wasn’t really paying attention.
Glad that the minor nuisance was over, I returned to Facebook so I could upload my photos. I went to my album and clicked “add more photos.”
Nothing happened. I kept trying for about ten minutes and decided that perhaps I wasn’t the only one facing this issue. Facebook’s help page didn’t really do it for me, though. There was an option where I could actually tell them what was wrong, so I clicked on the link, remembering how helpful Joey from Tumblr was when I randomly got locked out of my account, which really sucked because I put a paper I was writing on there and couldn’t access it. I ended up getting a C+ on the paper. Kind of stung.
Facebook emailed me back, and I have to say I’ve never had better help:

Hi, 

Thanks for taking the time to report this to us. We’re sorry to hear you’re experiencing an issue using Facebook. While we aren’t responding to every report, we may reach out to you for more information as we investigate this. 

To receive more information about on-going issues and updates when we fix reported problems, check out our Known Issues Page:

https://www.facebook.com/KnownIssues

Thanks again for taking the time to help us improve Facebook. 

Thanks,
The Facebook Team

“We may reach out to you for more information as we investigate this.” May. So nothing. 
Since The Facebook Team wasn’t nearly as helpful as Joey from Tumblr was, I just decided to see if I could try and fix this issue myself. For the next three days, I would randomly log on to Facebook and see if the photo uploader had decided to work in my favor. That didn’t exactly work. Then I though uninstalling and then reinstalling my Flash Player might do the trick. Nope. After sending The Facebook Team a slightly caustic report on my struggle, I finally decided that I couldn’t solve this on my own.
I, the stubborn little half-Iranian, asked for help. How did I do it? By posting a Facebook status, of course. I don’t know, I thought somebody monitoring posts or something (I’m sure Facebook is monitored. Can’t you see how much I don’t trust technology?) might see my wonderful little passive-agressive status where I called Facebook a bitch.
Help came in the form of Kevin Lobo Jimmar. I have to say, I had no idea he was good with computers. Or maybe that just reveals how bad I am with computers. He suggested that I enable safe browsing, because sometimes having that “s” after the “http” helps. It’s also a great way to get on Facebook in high school. Although enabling safe browsing did cause a reaction, I still couldn’t upload my photos. I couldn’t even get the simple uploader to upload photos, and I haven’t had to use that thing to upload photos in two and a half years.
Kevin suggested that I download Google Chrome. “Why the hell not,” I thought to myself. I didn’t really have anything to lose but time, and I am an expert at wasting time. Plus it had just started raining, so there was no way I would be leaving my room anytime soon.
I’ve used Chrome before and really liked it, but I never really thought to install it on my computer. Most of the reason I liked Chrome was that its icon looks a little like a poké ball. I’m a luddite, remember? I don’t need two internets! I never really had any issues with the internet except that time I got locked out of Tumblr for some mysterious reason – that was absolute torture.
Once the Chrome installation finished, I opened a window and got on Facebook. I went to my Austria photo album and clicked “add more photos.”
Something actually happened this time. Chrome had fixed what Facebook could not.
My Facebook issue wasn’t the only problem Chrome fixed. The internet is kind of slow here. So slow that one day it took me 20 minutes to check my email. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I have to use an ethernet cable. I’m not really sure. I just kind of thought that Austrian internet didn’t like Americans. Now I just realize that Safari kind of sucks. I guess it doesn’t suck. I just can’t update it for some reason – yes, I tried doing that to fix my Facebook problem too.
But none of that matters now, because as of about an hour ago, I am a Chromophile.
Here’s to having an even better internet experience, something I thought I could only dream of.

Carnival

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I went to the carnival with Evelyn today. Carnival rides are definitely more expensive here. They also last three times longer, which is alarming. Oh, and I almost lost my cell phone on a ride, so I learned something valuable today: don’t go on carnival rides with shit in your pockets. Especially phones. Especially phones that aren’t technically yours. The fair food is way better here, and please notice the beautiful airbrush art. Some lady bitched at me for taking pictures, but I was able to salvage Michael Jackson.
Here are some things I saw and ate:

So cheesy, I know. It was just a really pretty day. The light was nice!

Instagrams from New York

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Well, basically I had one of the most incredible weekends ever. I ate a lot, ate some more, got to eat rhubarb, got to eat dumplings, went to the Gay Pride Parade, ate sandwiches and tarts in Central Park, took a nap in Central Park, listened to Michael Jackson in a taxi, and had the opportunity to tour Teen Vogue headquarters in Times Square – I was a little starstruck, so I couldn’t speak without sounding like an idiot the whole time, and all I could get out was “thank you so much,” “thank you,” “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” and “this is incredible.” I just hope I can end up in that building again someday – maybe every day.
And oh my god, I’m leaving for Europe in four days.

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Flying up

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Part excitement, part me seizing the opportunity to make a funny face.

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That’s right, I got into the Conde Nast building.

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Teen Vogue’s closet contains the most beautiful shoes I’ve ever seen.

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They handed me a Coach hat and Chloe bag to wear while my picture was taken. I didn’t hesitate!

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I had to get one in front of the sign, come on.

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Andrew gave me a souvenir. This isn’t in stores at the moment.

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The pictures are blurry because I couldn’t stop shaking.

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I just really liked this window.

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Yeah, I’m not getting rid of this sticker.

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Rhubarb crisp at The Little Owl.

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Lobster salad. It was oh-my-god good.

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PAC-man dumplings. Genius and delicious.

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Gay pride parade.

Stellenbosch

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This is Stellenbosch. It’s beautiful, right?

After leaving Phinda, the four of us (me, my sister, my dad, and our friend Schalk, who lives in Stellenbosch and therefore showed us around) drove back to the Durban Airport. Our flight to Johannesburg actually got delayed for five hours because there was a crack in the plane’s windshield. It was okay, though, because we found another flight (shout-out to OneTime Air) and British Airways gave us a refund (shout-out to British Airways too, because that was really nice.) So that only left us an hour behind schedule.
And what did we do on our first night there? Oh yeah. We ate, and then we got drunk at a bar called The Mystic Boer. Well, they got drunk. I kind of took one shot of something that tasted atrocious (oh yeah, it was Patron!), looked around the room and saw lots of guys, and it made me miss mine. I am obstinately loyal, and all I really wanted to do was go back the hotel because it had heated bathroom floors and the bed… oh my god.
I slept beautifully, especially because I didn’t have to wake up at 5:00 the next day. And then I got to have coffee and French toast and fruit and yogurt (Bulgarian yogurt is the best yogurt ever, by the way) and I was so happy.

Then we went out to this place that um, has a bunch of cheetahs… I forget what it was called. All I know is that I got to pet a cheetah and his name was Joseph and I foolishly took a Doxycycline pill without a Tum so I felt really sick. Also I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures in the cage.

We thought the cheetahs there were drugged because they were so… calm. They weren’t, though. Cheetahs keep their activity to a minimum when they don’t have to do anything that involved running because running at high speeds takes up so much energy for them. Except I don’t really know how they’d get much running done in a fenced-in area.
Cheetahs also have a wonderful sense of humor, I’ve discovered.

And yes, I have to represent my country.

Stellenbosch (and greater Stellenbosch) is famous for wine and Stellenbosch University. I’ll start with the wine.
From my observations, Stellenbosch is South African wine country. And the wine is pretty good, which is saying a lot, because I can’t really drink alcohol without making a funny face and feeling shivers run down my back.
Personally, I think the cheese was better. South Africa is renowned for cheese as well. Heaven!

A giant wine bottle obviously means that my sister needs a new profile picture.

After all that, we just went back to the town and walked around a little. I think Schalk drove us around the university too. Lots of white buildings.
We made a few friends, too – part of it might have been fate, but most of it was my dad’s lack of restraint when it comes to talking about himself around people he just met. But it turned out well. We ended up going to Cape Town that night with them to see our new friend’s son’s band 3rd World Spectator play a show at a restaurant. It was pretty fun. I got to try pizza with bananas on it, which is actually really good. I knew it would be, too. And the band was great. They can do a mean cover of “Where Is My Mind?” by The Pixies, and I really like their song “Ambulance.” And then I sat by a fire and fell asleep sitting upright, which was a great new accomplishment for me. Ha!
The next day we actually went to Cape Town again (because we had actually planned it far in advance instead of mere hours before), so that means I’m out of Stellenbosch pictures and tales. Actually I have one more. We ate Indian food with all the people we met, and it was a really good time. I do have a picture of that.

 Well, that’s all I’ve got from Stellenbosch. I need to go to bed – I’m kind of in trouble because of something my puppies chewed up. And I have tons of Austria things to do tomorrow, so I need to fall asleep within the next hour. The internet just loves to distract me.
Anyway, I’m out. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back tomorrow!