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?

7 Things I Really Like

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My baby computer is back from my local PeachMac with a brand new battery and that means my technological issues are now sailing smoothly. No pages have frozen and there have been no random shutdowns. I really like this new battery. I really like my computer. I really like having a fully functional computer again, especially because my new battery was completely free (thanks, Apple Care). In honor of my baby computer’s recovery, I’ve decided to keep things very positive and elaborate on some things I really like.
This might as well be a peek into my soul.

1) Lomographic film
It’s a little pricey, but I think it’s completely worth it. Well, film is usually a little pricey. Let’s just say it costs more than Kodak. The film comes in a variety of speeds and even comes in 120 mm.
I have a few rolls on me, but I’m saving them for Austria. If I’m going to use film over there, I might as well try to make the pictures look as beautiful as the actual place will be.
Look at the colors! And I used a shitty scanner.

2) Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes

Whenever I have these, I conserve them because they smell so good and I think it’s kind of ridiculous to spend $6.50 on a packet of 30 makeup-removing wipes every week or two when I can just use water and toilet paper (I don’t wear much makeup, so I can get away with that.)
These towelettes really do the job, though. That’s why I save them. I need them for the nights I actually decide to wear a lot of makeup (by a lot of makeup, I mean mascara – hey, it’s a bitch to remove).
Plus they have white tea in them so they smell amazing and feel nice and cold. Perhaps the temperature of the wipes has nothing to do with the tea, but I like to think it does.


3) Lipstick
When I was little, I didn’t think I would ever wear lipstick because the kind my mom wore smelled weird and chalky. Within the last few years, however, I’ve really grown to love lipstick because despite its appearance, it’s actually pretty low-maintenance, which is perfect for somebody who doesn’t like to put a huge effort into her appearance when it comes to makeup (me). Lipstick is so classy and womanly and people never really think about how it only takes about ten seconds to put it on.


4) Word Warp
A few years ago, my mom bought me a puzzle book from Starbucks that was decked out with cartoony illustrations of birds and bugs and several different types of word games. That book is what first got me hooked on the anagram. I filled the puzzles out quickly, and have been searching for a replica of the anagrams I solved in that book ever since. The closest I have come to that is Word Warp.
The objective is pretty simple: a number of letters is provided, and you have to form as many words as you possibly can from them. There is a time limit, but you can get rid of that in the settings. And for a logophile, it is extremely addicting.


5) The Gabe Giraffe
I think this one is self-explanatory. Pardon the messy state of my room.
I also have a bag graced with this giraffe. Be jealous.

 

6) Beluga Whales
They’re smart, they’re adorable, and they’re always smiling. Plus they like mariachi bands. What’s not to love?

7) Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide
The spectrum of characters in Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide is fantastic. Immaculate, even. There’s Cookie, who’s half-boy, half-cyborg. And Lisa Zemo, the girl who suffers extreme allergies but then gets on new allergy meds in the third season and becomes insanely hot. And Vice Principal Krubbs, who only wears white suits, is obsessed with flamingoes, and decided to become a vice principal after quitting his job as a vice cop because the profession still had the word “vice” in it. And Dr. Xavier, the 8th grade math teacher with a thick Russian accent who makes her students wear “math smocks” and preaches her very own aphorism, “without math, we are cavemen eating mud.” And Gordy, the janitor who is constantly outsmarted by a weasel that lives inside the school. And don’t you even think that I forgot about Coconut Head.
This is, undisputedly, the greatest show ever. I only wish my middle school experience could have been similar.
I will now bid you farewell using Coconut Head’s visage.


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.

In Defense of the Comma

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I’m an English major. Okay, maybe I need to explain this a little more.
I am a huge English nerd. I’ve always liked words and writing. I even liked grammar, especially because at my elementary school, I learned about the parts of speech by drawing little shapes over certain words. A verb got a big red circle. Nouns and adjectives got triangles that varied in size and coloration. Prepositions got green, sideways crescents (the inside of the curve faced down). Okay, I probably shouldn’t go off on parts of speech right now. I can save that for another day.
Since I’m such a huge English nerd, it’s obvious that I like punctuation. Actually, I love punctuation. I get butterflies in my stomach talking about punctuation. I will save my ridiculously long post on how much I adore semicolons and dashes for another day. Maybe the day after I write about parts of speech on here.
Even though they’re not my favorite, I think people forget how important commas are. I have trouble understanding what’s going on in a sentence that’s missing commas it so desperately needs.
Why is this important, you ask? Could this outrageously nerdy post on commas actually relate to anything non-English majors care about?
As you probably (hopefully?) know, the Associated Press deemed Oxford commas unnecessary. Wrong, even. At the time, I didn’t want to go into journalism outside my school paper and local paper’s teen board, so I didn’t really care. I guess I wasn’t a punctuation activist in those days. Plus I wanted to write books for a living, so I didn’t necessarily need to adhere to an AP stylebook.
Sometime after I got into college, I decided to add that second major. And have I ever mentioned how the Pacific Ocean convinced me that I needed to write for travel magazines this past summer? Well yeah, that happened too. So I actually do need to care about AP style now.
I don’t have many problems with AP style, but I do hate that Oxford comma rule – and it’s not just because I’d forget to take my Oxford commas out and my stories for my news writing lab would get lower grades. I know most people who read this will think, “why is this girl so pissed about something so stupid as commas?” Think all you want. I need my third comma to understand what’s going on.
I’ve included that visual aid to help convince people who aren’t so crazy about words that Oxford commas are important. Without them, the reader is left confused.
It can happen to anyone. It can happen to aspiring journalists and grammar Nazis, and I can say that because it happened to me and I am obviously both.
It happened today. I was reading my news writing book because I haven’t since before I took my midterm and I kind of have a final tomorrow. There was a lot of information. So much information. And lots of lists. So many lists. And there were a bunch of words stringed together without commas and I had no idea what was going on. It didn’t happen just once, either. It happened again and again and again, and I felt like an idiot each time.

I have realized that the fault isn’t mine. Associated Press, you did a terrible thing when you discouraged the use of the Oxford comma.  Did you think it would make the reading process easier? It really doesn’t. It confuses me, and I am a pretty well-read person (I’m not trying to sound facetious or anything, but I am). I know all you want to do is make news content easier for your readers. I know you had good intentions, I do. Maybe this year, when you’re changing state abbreviations yet again, you’ll realize that omitting the Oxford comma from your stylebook was a mistake.