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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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?

Ode To Babies

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Before I get carried away writing this, I need to establish that I am not a baby person. Being near babies freaks me out. If baby anxiety is a real thing, then I definitely have it. If I hold or touch a baby, it will immediately start fussing or crying – I call myself the anti-baby whisperer – and it terrifies me. I don’t want to have any kids, but I feel like if I did have a baby, I would go into anxiety overload because I wouldn’t be able to give it what it wants or make it like me. Some people are great with babies; then there are people like me.

Around 10 months ago, a baby came into my life. It’s a more intimate relationship than most of the baby situations I know of, which are limited to my aunt and uncle having two babies in the past five and a half years and all the teen moms I stalk on Facebook. No, this baby and I shared a father – that’s right, I am 20 years old and have a 10-month-old half-sister.

Our relationship was pretty stunted for many months, because the majority of time I am away at school, and she is two hours away at my dad’s house. I don’t think I existed in her memory for the first six months of my life, because, well, I wasn’t there for it. What’s a weekend-long visit home to someone who hasn’t even developed a long-term memory yet? So for a really long time, our relationship kind of went like this: I thought she was cool because she is smart, but I hated it (key word: panicked) whenever she cried or became upset around me because there was absolutely nothing I could do about it except tell someone she liked a problem was going on; she didn’t really know who I was, and if I held her or something she got scared.
Note: I will say that she liked me shortly after she was born. This might have been because I tried to communicate with her by imitating her facial expressions.
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But then something wonderful happened: winter break. I had three and a half weeks off from school, and that meant I actually had time to bond with the baby. Almost every morning (um, okay, afternoon) after I woke up, I would just go to her room and hang out with her. Mostly I watched, because that’s what I’m best at  when it comes to babies. Watching her try and learn to walk and grasp the pronunciation of many syllables made me think of how difficult being a baby actually is.

If you ever get the opportunity, I recommend observing the interactions between babies and animals

If you ever get the opportunity, I recommend observing the interactions between babies and animals

Think about it. I will admit that when my half-sister was born, I was extremely envious of her because she got to sleep all day long and I didn’t. She didn’t have to worry about school for a few years. All she had to do was chill at home and play with toys and enjoy having such a short attention span.
But I was wrong. You know what babies spend the majority of their time doing? Trying to be just like you and me. This whole time, I have been envious of someone who dreams of accomplishing tasks I find fairly simple, like speaking, writing, and eating without having someone force a spoon down my throat.

Don't mind me, I'm just being a genius

Don’t mind me, I’m just being a genius

Babies just want to be people – they are incredibly aware of what separates themselves from the rest of us, and they are constantly trying to change it. Babies are always babbling not to amuse us, but to communicate with us. I think they know most of what they’re saying is complete gibberish, but they’re probably telling themselves that after so many mistakes, real words will start to come out. It’s fascinating. It’s science and psychology and – yes, I’m going to say it – Paradise Lost and Songs of Innocence and Experience in real life. Babies have the luxury of being completely innocent, but they cast it aside for knowledge because they want to be like the older people they aspire to be like one day.

Babies are driven little geniuses that should not be taken lightly. 

But the best part is that she doesn't mind my camera

But the best part is that she doesn’t mind my camera

My Elementary School Didn’t Teach Religion and I’m Not Going to Kill Anyone

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It was two in the morning and I couldn’t sleep. Naturally, I decided to resort to the internet.
Then this pops up on my news feed:
Screen shot 2012-12-19 at 3.42.54 PMMike Huckabee set me off. I couldn’t believe he was saying this. Actually I couldn’t believe he was using a massacre to bring up yet another religious debate. I could understand why people were expressing their opinions on gun control since this was a horrific shooting, but bringing religion into this was taking it a little too far.
And then I got a little more upset, because right under that link, I read a comment that said, “Agreed!!!”
Oh, that pissed me off. I could go off on a rant about what Huckabee said, but I’m not going to because I want to stay neutral and I don’t know anything about his childhood.

My anger at Huckabee’s statement is not necessarily a political one. I’m upset about what Mike Huckabee said because my childhood proves otherwise.
My elementary school never enforced any set of beliefs on its students. There were children who weren’t raised religiously at my school. There were also Christians and Jews at my school, and everybody got along. We were good kids. Despite not being educated in Christianity (I’m just going to assume Huckabee is pushing for that particular religion being taught in schools because, well, he’s Mike Huckabee), everyone I know who went there turned out fine. And do you know why? Because my school taught a certain value heavily.
Peace. For the majority of my academic life, there was some part of the lesson plan that was designed to guide students away from violence and remind them to embrace the many differing facets of the world. There were so many concepts of hate that I had no idea still existed until I got to high school. On my second or third day of freshman year, I heard somebody use the word “beaner” for the first time and thought, “these kids are terrible.” I had no idea racism was still so bad. I had no idea people could disagree on things so heavily.

Since my high school was Catholic, every student had to take multiple religion classes. But did it make a difference on our actions? I don’t really think so. We were still people, and teenagers at that. Who were we to carry on sinless lives? People at my school had sex. I’m sure a baby or two was conceived there. We had parties. My school was known as the druggie school. A girl got raped at my school, and a few years ago, a student was expelled for threatening to bring a gun to school and shoot our principal.

Is it because we were taught about Christianity? No. It’s because we are people. Sin is inevitable. Even the Bible says so. Remember that, Mike Huckabee? These things are going to happen regardless of what the school system teaches. Anyone has the potential for violence, no matter his or her set of beliefs. Activities that fit under the sin category are going to exist no matter what. They always have, and they did in the days before religion was around.
Of course, people also have the potential to be good, and that definitely isn’t limited to what set of beliefs they adhere to or what kinds of things they are taught in school. Just because people aren’t educated in religion doesn’t mean they’re horrible people.
If you don’t believe me, then you should visit a Montessori school and see for yourself.

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.

 

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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