Where’s Daddy?

“Class consciousness.” Never been truer than for the middle classes.

Now I grew up in nine different houses. Sometimes I got to put candy in the grocery cart, and sometimes not. There were vacations some summers, and some summers were spent under a lazy ceiling fan at home. I didn’t grow up with the security of a trust fund. And I never missed a day of school.

But little rich girl, yours is a different story.

Daddy’s here, daddy has money. 

You want that dress at YSL? Get daddy’s credit card. Unlimited funds at your disposal.

Oh how terrible that you didn’t get exactly that shade of red for your $300 manicure! That incompetent woman, probably Asian.

You can never step out without that delicate gold bracelet on your well fed wrist, or the shiny diamond watch daddy gave.

You get paid to go to college? Why would you ever work hard? 

No, work is for the people without the rich daddies. The scholarships and grants go to the people who work themselves dry.

And you, with the plushy comfort of your life, look down at them, and don’t understand.

People who’re stuck in the middle see misery and dreams of money. The poor in their tents and crumbling houses, and the upper crust, with their seven cars and gilded chauffeurs. The middle classes see both. And they empathize.

Daddy, daddy, daddy!

Why must I see these people around me? I won’t have to *gasp* get a JOB, will I? No daddy!

Take off your Prada glasses, princess, and look around.

The world is a whole lot more than can be bought with daddy’s card.

Books Will Never Judge Your Cover…

I trail my fingers down the leather clad spine, ridged and looped with gold thread. The pages are a buttery yellow, smoothed and soft. There’s a clinging delicate scent, of old ink and new desires. The tale remains the same and yet, it makes some laugh, and some it makes sigh. 

Ah, old friend. We meet again.

A book is so many things. It can be a best friend, a comforter, a confidant, a safe haven, a shining lighthouse, a dream keeper, a parent, a guide, a reprimand, or a teacher.

A book will never judge. It can be held and read and dog eared on any day of the week, in any outfit, during any season, at any particular moment in time.

Books don’t ask for much. Well, except that you do them justice. Take the time to dive into it, make it come alive, listen when it speaks, strain when it whispers. Take what you want, and it will still be there, waiting to be prised open.

Books have a language. A book will never shout. Well, unless it is an exceptionally thrilling one with an exceptionally moving tale. Books are sensitive creatures, concerned with intricacies and intimate connections. They beckon with grace, never with promiscuity. 

A book is a book all the same. You can think what you want, feel how you want around books. They won’t sit a court and judge how you feel. Books support far fetched claims, tall tales, and revolutionary thinking. People can be selfish: they view the world in set ways. Books are kaleidoscopes. They sympathize, and give you new ways of looking at old things.

A book is safe. Unless you read particularly propagandist material, books can act like warm shawls on a freezing night. They reach out, wrap you in the tale, and keep you cocooned. Safe, warm, and content.

Books don’t judge, nag, yell, constrict, or hate.

And sometimes, they’re that much better than people.

My Father, The Mortal

Today, my life changed.

Well, not in the shooting stars or melodramatic turn of events way; rather in a stop and think kind of way.

Today, I realized my dad isn’t immortal after all.

Sure, he’s the hero I’ve always looked up to, the staunch defender of his castle, the infallible, strong male presence I’ve come to associate with safety and comfort and love.

But that doesn’t mean he’ll be around forever.

It’s little things I’ve noticed: how he’s started to forget tiny details, like where he put some papers or which new boy band my youngest sister is currently obsessing over. It wasn’t like this though. He was the warrior, the king. He’d know everything about everyone; he’d come home with Enid Blyton books for me [she was my favourite author] and Justin Bieber cutouts for my sister…

Today, we ended up at a shawarma place – and I felt like the adult. I told him where the place was, how to order, what to ask for, even the right way to unwrap the food. This is not something I’m used to. I’m the one who would be led around and ordered for. 

It’s the small things, but that’s where our mortality lies. I’m starting to notice the cracks. 

Eventually, my dad will grow old – he’ll have white hair and his jokes will become outdated. But what if I don’t want that? I’m not ready. 

Mortality reminded me of Mistry’s short story, “Of White Hairs and Cricket,” where the son sees his father’s imminent old age in a pair of tweezers, and cries.

Live forever baba. Stay the same, and let me stay your little girl forever.

Amen.

6 Issues All International Students Face

Flying to another country where you will live for the next four years can be challenging…to say the least.

You’re excited, upbeat, willing to try new things, and face new obstacles.

Until you find yourself staring at the unnaturally bare walls of your new dorm room, sitting on your suitcase – the one familiar piece of your old life.

Because that’s no exaggeration: your life will change. In a multitude of ways.

International students leave behind their homes, people, pets, streets, secret walkways, and a piece of themselves. They face an interesting transition. These are a few of the things they go through:

#1 The “EVERYONE IS MY FRIEND” phase

You meet a new person nearly everyday as you find your way around campus and the dorms. This gives you the illusion that you’re socially accepted, and/or even popular. You feel like being generous: saying hi to everyone you see, smiling, and waving to people at the bus stop or down the hallway. All your issues seem to be everyone’s issues: you’re all away from home, and trying to adapt like so many insects feeling their way. And so you bond. And bond. And bond some more.

#2 Then it “CLIQUES” in

No, that girl you met last week in the cafeteria doesn’t actually listen to alternative rock. And that guy who called you cute and asked you to hang out sometime; he sidles past when you wave now. Now you see the groups they have. You pacify yourself… ‘college can’t be like high school!‘ And then you realize otherwise. People who knew each other before you knew them stick together. Others have formed new cliques. It all happened so fast, you didn’t even have time to sit and ponder with a thoughtful expression. Cliques can form on the basis of race, gender, nationality, campus, age, music tastes, soda preference, wealth, and so much more.

#3 Ride on the “DOWNWARD SPIRAL”

So you find out you have no ‘real’ friends, and you’ve ignored the ones you had back home and so they probably hate you. Your cat probably wants nothing to do with you either. What could be worse? You shut yourself up in your room and decide that studying is the solution to everything. Except you also know that’s impractical, but you have no real friends, so what do you do? You’re trapped in a whiny social conundrum. Welcome.

#4 Answer your “PHONE” already

Your parents gave you space and time, and more space and more time. Now they want to know what you’re up to. You probably haven’t remembered to call them up in the last few days because of all the issues you were having. But they don’t know that. They’re sitting 3000 miles away fuming and feeling ignored. And so the family problems begin. You feel like slamming your phone and severing contact altogether. Yet you know you can’t, so just sit there and take it. Grit your teeth.

#5 You do have “BOOKS” you know…

You came to college to study. And while orientation is glossy and happy and sunny, you will need to get to studying eventually. Added to the other problems, this realization will hit you the hardest. Didn’t you have your fair share of dreams? Visions of a 4.0 have clouded you over. You think you’ll fail, or die, or get expelled. No, you won’t. Trust me.

#6 How does your “WALLET” feel?

When you moved in, your parents bought you everything: pins to paper to shower curtains. And now you must fend for yourself, mustn’t you? Back at home you’d say “I’m rich today,” or “I’m poor today,” depending on how much money your parents forked out every morning for school. And now…your three jobs have you running around in circles trying to balance it all out. Your wallet is all about you…welcome to the world of adult finance.

There could be a lot of additions, but I think I covered the main ones.

My “X” and I…Or Why Equations And I Don’t Get Along

(Read the whole thing. I promise, it’s worth it.)

Why, I ask, must you have equations? Isn’t it bad enough that there exist letters in a subject, which should only have numbers? I mean, a and b belong to the alphabet; they are numerals of the English Language, not of something that has plus and minus signs. I thought that would be common sense in itself. But no.

     First, you feel the need to scramble those two elements into a complicated mixture of symbols, numbers, and letters, and to top it off, you want to find a solution. Please tell me then: will an equation help you walk to the end of the hallway? Will it help you wash the car, water the plants, feed the cat, hug your mother, eat that suspicious looking piece of cheese hiding underneath your bed, look out a window, or have a conversation? No. I repeat myself: no.

     Well yes, there is always a deeper meaning. Mathematics makes up the world, and all that drama. It might explain a lot of mysteries, but it does not help me write this paper. Yes yes, math was used in the programs my laptop uses or the rate at which I type, or the frequency at which I spit out curse words when I think about equations, but that is a very indirect connection. This is why we have certain sectors of the economy dedicated to people who are good at numbers and that sort of thing. That doesn’t mean arithmetic should be forced down my throat.

     Let’s look at an example of an equation and try to understand just why you think it’s an important element in everyday life.

“x + 2 = 28”

 This clearly means you need to find “x.” I have an issue with this. WHY in all holy hell does anyone need to find “x?” Why is it lost in the first place? If it didn’t have the good sense to stay where its mother told it to, why should I bother to pick up a pencil and look for it? It’s like the problem of the child lost in the parking lot. If it had listened to its mother and stuck to her close, it wouldn’t be left behind when she went home from the supermarket. It would have been in the car with her and all his snotty siblings, going back to their shambles of a hut they call a house.

     Coming back to the point, I reiterate. If “x” was this irresponsible, I don’t need to look for it. I want to practice my arithmetic and algebra, not act as unpaid babysitter.

     Now, to find “x” one would have to follow a set of rules. One would move the “2” to the other side, inevitably making it a negative number, then subtracting it from “28” to arrive at the answer for “x.” Asides from my obvious question of why in hell, I have another concern. Who says, and I mean WHO is dictating these rules? If I want to move the number across the side without changing its sign, I should ruddy well be able to. These rules for equations, BODMAS etc., try to dictate our lives. This should not be the case. Freewill is a concept that has been thrown around since well, since the human race started. Furthermore, it is also one of the rights of a citizen in the USA. The First Amendment clearly states that all persons of a free and just country may have the right to free speech, free will, and free expression. What is math, to denounce the great country of America? The rules go against every rule free man has ever known.

     Were cavemen told how to hunt? No sir. Were soccer moms told how to suffocate their children with over displays of emotion and exaggeration? No indeed! These skills are learnt over time as any great concept is, as life is. Laying out rules as to why and how something should be done doesn’t resonate with my personal beliefs and as a student of an American institution, I believe I should be given the right to practice my faith in good conscience.

     Going back to the equation, the answer is clearly 26; “x” has been found. “x” was hiding in the equation all along. So my question is, why is this little sadistic bastard allowed to play these mind games? It poses a befuddling threat to unsuspecting human minds; why in the world do we allow it to take advantage of us like this? I for one, possessing much bravado and courage, do not allow anyone to take advantage of me in this way. I feel this is a good approach to life: if you let things affect you, you will fall. You will die on broken knees.

x2 + x – 4 = 0

 Let’s look at this one. Here, instead of having to look for one “x”, there have been given two. TWO inane lost children without the common sense to stop drooling on their thumbs and grab their mother’s coat tails instead. And now they have been left behind. And they are crying. And you need to look for them. Well, I don’t envy you your job at all.

     So this is an example of a quadratic equation. Hateful, filthy things. These are the bad dreams that keep you awake at night. This particular one doesn’t even factor and so is a more spiteful SOB. What you must do to locate the ever lost “x”, is to apply the quadratic formula. Now again, why you would do that will forever remain a mystery to me.

     Solving this and finding “x” is one thing. But when you want to create a graph out of this…well we have a problem. I have given you a full background on the worthlessness of equations in general. Now I will tell you why it is also fruitless to turn them into lines.

     What is a graph? Basically bunches of criss cross lines drawn across a page of pretty squared paper. Why would you want to complicate that by putting equations into it? Its one thing if you needed a graph urgently because let’s say, your grandmother was having a seizure and you needed to know the exact amount of time an average phone user takes to place a panicked phone call based on general data collected in a survey by hospitals. Will you at any point ever need that information? I don’t think so.

     Equations in graphs aren’t required for any useful purpose other than to make my life hell. You say you need them for vital things such as forecasting the weather, or checking the federal deficit, or predicting a slump in the business cycle, but do you really? Humans have been living on this earth since time started, and they managed not to wipe out the race. Everyone knows nuclear weapons will be the death of us, not badly forecasted weather. So why even bother?

     I haven’t talked about the sheer stupidity mathematicians do when they bring in more than one variable into an equation: let’s say “x” and “y.” So if the child was inept enough to get lost with a friend who has no way of contacting its mother, well then. What is the world coming to?

     I see no reason for drawing up equations, or integrals, or square roots, or graphs, or strawberry milk. All these things I can live without, and thrive, even.

     There should have been a graph to show how disgusted I am by the concept of math and equations. The more math I see, the worse my day. At least we have a direct, honest, relationship.

*This post was written purely for comic relief. It depicts my difficult relationship with Mathematics. No seriousness intended.

Lean On Me, Fall On Me, Laugh With Me…

There’s a kind of love that I’ve heard about. There’s a girl who’s kept a wedding scrapbook since the age of 10, with bits of lace and newspaper articles talking about your perfect day! When she meets the boy she is meant to, her mind will swim with thoughts of wining, dining, and a lot of sweeping-off-of-feet. Her “Prince Charming” because yes, she does have one of those, will either be tall, dark, and handsome, or fair, brave, and wonderful. 

This is as cliched as I could get.

But in all honesty, I’ve met girls (for I think of myself as such till now) who want nothing short of a moonlit, candle-lit, lamp-lit, electric romance. They need drama, and passion, and if they don’t find these things, they’ll create them. I’ve met girls with “trust issues,” with “dad issues,”, “mom issues,” and “pet issues…” you name it.

What is this: being passionate means wonderfully violent? What?

The kind of love I believe in means laughing everything off – laughing at each other, learning to laugh at yourself. Being comfortable with making mistakes in front of each other. Everybody needs a best friend. This need to be perfect in his or her eyes…no. They’re going to see you, flawed skin and all, but guess what? You’ll still be perfect.

At the end of the day, the person you need is the person you can nudge playfully while walking down a hallway. There’s something about being able to lean on someone’s shoulder when you’re sleepy, or jumping around when you feel childish, or sitting in silence when you feel worse than a clam at the bottom of the ocean.

It’s the small things everyday: the reliability, the understanding, the knowing. Because what’s worse for the human condition than not knowing…there’s something eerie about darkness.

Passionate violence and all that thunder aside, there’s just something about someone who knows you.

You’re girl, daughter, creative being, idiot, intelligent, capable, soft, wonderful, an entity – so many facets to you, sparkling.

He needs to know.

I Built A House Of Grape Vines And Sunshine

Today was a good day.

It was one of those days when the sun poured liquid gold and painted the tops of buildings yellow. I sat outside my room watching how sunshine streamed through leaves, making them transparent, almost. And it reminded me of the days I used to spend at my aunt’s house. I was ten years old, and in heaven.

She had one of those old fashioned wrought iron gates – it swung open to a red brick path. I’d walk to the left, jumping three steps down to the garden. There was an old fashioned orange orchard tucked away in the corner. This was the place I sat in for hours on end, dreaming my child’s dreams. Tree bark felt jagged and smelt musky sour. To this day when I think of that orchard, I smell dusty orange blooms and wild grass.

To the right was a tiny pond. Lotus grew in a flaming pink riot all across the surface. I recall trying to muster up the courage to reach for a mass of glistening leaves and faltering. I knew if I caused ripples, I’d find myself staring into a pair of black eyes – one of the many black horned toads that lived just under would pop up. Standing on the bank was a challenge. Moss green algae caused many near-falls and squeaky yelps.

I was afraid of drowning.

There was a secret path that I believed only I knew of. Grape vines grew rampant on the abandoned white trellis that lay in that grassy patch. I used to pretend it was my home: I lived in a mad fairy world; it was intoxicating and made me heady. Dark green vines intertwined to make fancy carpets for my bedroom floor, leaves coiled and made intricate tapestries, thicket bursting with fruit made windows, and trailing creepers like serpents threaded their way from under my front door.

I’ve never had that feeling of fullness, of being there wholly.

Until today.

Today, was a good day.

Take Me To A Deserted Island…

If you were stranded on a desert island, whom would you want standing by your side?

Calculating the value of people is simple; just put two perspectives.

Walking in to a room with sunshine in your hair and brilliance in your smile is easy. Anyone, and I mean anyone can fake a smile. I’ve met people who led their friends into believing they would die for them, with a single smile. Ridiculous.

So anyway. Picture yourself walking in with a bright smile (real or fake), meeting everyone around you, talking to people you’ve never met before, drinking it all in, living life or whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing.

Crack a joke or two. Be witty, clever, and charming.

Then sit back and watch.

People will start to gather like flies, in droves. Someone will tweak your hair, hug you from the side, shake your hand, or say something funny. Pretty soon, you’ll have a group of laughing, hilarious people saying things they don’t mean, and smiling like their lives depend on it. If an outsider looked in, they would think you have a ton of friends.

“You’re so social!”

“Everybody loves you!”

“You should be grateful for all the people you know!”

Right?

Wrong.

Now picture this in another way. Imagine yourself entering a room with a nervous, or sullen expression. You feel insecure, vulnerable, and there’s no sunshine in your hair. You can’t smile, you can’t talk, and you can’t really “socialize.” Something’s happened: you argued with your parents, failed a class, a relative passed away, anything. You sit back and look around. A friend or two passes by, and you greet them, wondering if they’ll know. They don’t. People look at you with glazed smiles, their gazes sliding over you, uninterested.

How many friends do you have now?

Think about it.

If there’s someone who has been patient throughout, someone who’s seen your worst and best, and still sticks to you like peanut butter to jelly, you take it. A sister, brother, parent, friend, partner, pet, or tree. Doesn’t matter. You love them to bits, and understand how unique this is. I realised this recently: five minutes ago. It’s rare that you find people who care, and care is a strong concept.

The inability to care about people shows a lack of basic humanity – who are you if you can’t help out someone who needs it? Selfishness and fake smiles will only get you so far.

So, whom would you take to a deserted island?

Don’t Forget To Check Your Pulse

Sometimes I wake up hating.

I hate how wide my hips are, how my legs will never be longer, how I’ll look ridiculous in a swimsuit, how my skin isn’t glossy clear, how I need to work for the things I want, how I can’t just shop my days away, how I have worries, how I’m away from my family, how I don’t want to do my own laundry, how I need to study all the time, how other people have it better, and how the universe is just so unfair.

And then I start to think.

What about the girl who lost her mother to cancer a few months ago? All she could see were the bruises, smell the medicine, breathe in the stench of a waning human life. All the security and peace she ever knew blown up in an instant, where death meets life. Her world will never be the same again.

What about that boy who tries and tries so hard every day and still can’t manage that perfect 4.0? He knows if he doesn’t he has to quit school because his family can’t afford to keep him here.

What about that woman at the desk who can’t fit into her jeans because her waistline keeps expanding? A diabetic condition. Imagine how she must hate life for infecting her like this.

What about that middle aged man who’s in a menial job, and knows he can never give his family the luxury they want? Because he never had the opportunity to work or study. He feels powerless, hopeless.

And then what about the people who view the world in different ways? Who never could see colour, or light, or shiny new toys. The ones who can’t hear, and will never know what too much noise sounds like; they’ll never have a favourite band or play the guitar. And the ones who’s minds are just wired different? The ones in “special” schools with lesser opportunities.

I can work, I can hit the gym, I can eat healthy, I can shop.

I can see, I can feel, I can breathe, I can hear, I can laugh, I can love, I can comprehend.

I can.

You can.

Be grateful.

7 Resolutions, 7 People, and 7 Reasons To Love 2013

2013 was the year of so much loss and so much more gain. I got rejected from one college, got into two others, and took a year off. In this ‘gap year’, I learned so much, met so many people, laughed, and cried. Since this is New Year’s Eve, I thought it only fitting to write down all the things I’ve learnt to (and not to) do. A new way of deciding resolutions per say…

#1: ALWAYS SEE THE BEST IN PEOPLE

“Nabay, I’m sure they mean well, and their hearts are in the right place…” – Zara Nadeem

Ahh, my unbiological sister of 13 years. I’ve grown up with you, fought with you, laughed my head off, and cried in front of you with no inhibitions. We’ve had the best and worst times together, and we’ve always known we’ll be friends forever. I’m so sure we’ll call each other in the middle of the night when we’re working girls, complaining about bosses, colleagues, or salaries. And then later, husbands, children, who knows what will happen? The one thing you’ve taught me always with so much sunshine is to always always see the best in people. You yourself deal with people in the cleanest way possible: ignoring their flaws and determinedly supporting them no matter what. Thank you for the lesson, I’ve seen you live it for 13 years.

#2: IGNORE FORMALITIES, STOP HIDING, AND CONNECT

“Why do you want to call and see if she’s okay? Just show up…” – Mehar Umer

Mehar, we became friends rather unexpectedly in Business class. I honestly didn’t think we’d ever end up friends but when we did, it was wonderful. You were always full of energy, happy, and hilarious. Oh, and super well dressed of course. One thing I learnt from you was to dismiss the tiny formalities people make around each other. I don’t know if you remember, but a friend we hadn’t talked to in years was sick and instead of waiting to text her, you urged me to just show up and check on her. Yes, if you need to connect with someone, do it now. No formalities.

#3: DON’T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF

“Sometimes you don’t get A’s and that’s okay. You have to be happy with the learning process.” – Syed Owais Ali

Ahh, Owais. One of the first people I met when I came to Northwestern. You did (and still do) your very best to help and guide all of us who arrived with stars in our eyes. The best thing you’ve ever told me is exactly this. I was crying my heart out because I got rejected from something or the other and was emotionally killing myself over it. You patiently explained that quitting was not an option because sometimes, you can’t get A’s, but it’s not the end of the world. It took you some time to come to terms with that too, and I’m glad you chose to share it with me.

#4: SPEND TIME LAUGHING, NOT HATING

“You waste your energy on disliking people. Stop.” – Areeb

I’m referring to you as just Areeb because you’re the last person I could ever be formal with. When we met, I remember thinking you were loud, hyper, and insane. So just like me. You’re one of the most brutally honest people I’ve met here which has turned out to be a blessing in so many ways. Yes we’ve had our clashes but then we’ve also had the best times in the world. We’ll always be playlist soul mates and whiny best friends. Recently we went out, and you told me I spend way too much time picking out the bad things in people. And that maybe I should stop using my energy to dislike, and instead do something better, like have fun. You don’t know how right you were. I’ve started practicing that, and it’s been amazing.

#5: UNDERSTAND, DON’T JUDGE

“Everyone is an amalgam of past events and current issues, therefore I try not to judge them.” – Rhytha Zahid Hejaze

Rhytha…when I first met you I was quite taken aback. The first thought that came to my mind was “loud, brash, how do I get along with her?” It was quite a confusing time, trying to understand what sort of person you are. A couple of days ago though, you talked to me about judging people and how you always consider their past events and current issues, and then try to understand who they are. So I realized what i’d been doing was judging you all along. And a lot of other people. I never used to be like this you know. Something happened earlier this year which sort of made me bitter; it has stopped now. A lot of thanks to you for that. I feel like I’m becoming my old self bit by bit and it’s an incredible feeling.

#6: STAY OPTIMISTIC

“I take all the negative thoughts I have and turn them into positive energy. This helps me stay optimistic.” – Urooj

Urooj! The face you always make pops into my head everytime I think of you. Remember all the crises I had when we met initially? I worried about this or that, got pessimistic about a lot of things. And then we took a walk where you told me what you do to deal with problems and everyday stress. You thought about things in a positive way instead of letting negatives cloud your emotions or judgement. This is really the best thing about you, and something I’ve learnt to try and practice.

#7: AS LONG AS YOU LIKE YOU, YOU’RE OKAY

“Not everyone can like you, but as long as you like you, that’s okay.” – Rizan Baig

Who hasn’t had to listen to censure or criticism? People can be cruel sometimes, and they can break down the strongest soul out there with words and insults. We bonded on the 24th of August because we found out how alike we were. Worriers to a fault, perfectionists, and mushy. I was feeling particularly low one day and Rizan, you basically dragged me back out of the mire. You told me that I can’t make everyone like me, and it’s more important that I like the sort of person I am. I’ve seen you do this every day. If you find out someone doesn’t particularly love you, you don’t bat an eyelash. You continue being your own person and doing what you have to do. It took me a while to learn and come to terms with this one though. I’ve finally got it now. Thank you for that.

Happy New Year, all of you. And thanks.

Why Being A College Student Sucks Sometimes…

“College is draining the life out of me”

“Why must this be so tough?”

“I’m just stupid and I can’t do it.”

I’ve heard so many people complain about how difficult it is to be in college: the work, the time, jobs, taking care of yourself, and the rest. When you go away to college with stars in your eyes, parents and peers will most likely tell you it’s going to be challenging yet rewarding, hard yet gratifying, complicated yet worth it.

Everyone talks about the academic point of it. But very few look at the other side.

So college is tough on you. It is. What I’ve realized is that nobody is born stupid. Everyone I’ve met has the ability to absorb information, process it, and make something out of it. But what they don’t talk about in all the “CHOOSE US!” university brochures is the emotional stress of it all.

Yes. Emotions. You have them too.

You’re in college, and emotions probably will mess with your papers and readings. You’ll feel isolated, hopeless, in despair. And if you’re in another country, you’ll miss the feeling of home. College will start to feel familiar and homey but a shamble second best version of it. Arguments with friends might play around with the test you have in the morning, or a late night might lead to a missed 8 AM class. 

And this is why being a college student is hard work. It’s time, time, time. You give time to your work, to your friends, to family, pets, exams, papers, food, laundry, social networks, and the lonely kid sitting alone at the back of class. Or your friends might yell, your family might disown you, your pet might die, people might forget who you are, and that lonely kid might swallow arsenic and it’ll all be your fault. And through all this you have to stay motivated, focused, and love what you’re doing for God’s sake.

It’s no wonder they don’t print this in the brochures.

 

Knocking Down The Berlin Wall, Or, Modern European History Blues

I used to think history would come easy to me. I mean, I had the tenacious, for want of a better word, capacity to never forget dates and names and places. And so there I went, signed up for a history course with stars in my eyes.

 And what followed made me feel like I was on a roller coaster, heading sometimes towards an A, and sometimes reaching for the hair net that would characterize my future job in the fast food industry…

Of what I can recall from that class were the essays. Oh, those essays.

Every two weeks, the slightly manic feeling would set in – I would pick my topic and just stare at it for a while. That choice made my question my intellect, sometimes my existence. So, by picking the Holocaust, was I some sort of power hungry dictator with a badly shaved mustache?

If I chose the Russian Revolution, did that make me a Marxist? Or smelly?

The days spent worrying about those essays flew by – and I’d inevitably find myself sitting up the night before the deadline, cup of coffee clutched like a shield, writing writing writing.

 The citations. Never has it been truer: “if your mother says she loves you, check it out…” Every sentence, nearly every thought pulled out of my head needed a citation. Bibliographies (whether annotated or not) and I struck up an uneasy friendship in the class. If I had a thought, it needed to be verified ie as long as someone famous said it sometime, I’d be good to go.

And oh, my love-hate relationship with the research paper. That ten page monstrosity. I had to submit in a research proposal where I was told my thesis was questionable, a first draft in which I wrote too much, and a second draft which made me question life and all its hardships…

But, I handed it in. All of it. So, modern European history. Adieu. It was a pleasure. (Sarcasm also became a good acquaintance)

Don’t listen to what the research paper says…