The Pitfalls of a Mind On Spring Break

Ahhh, Spring Break. The perfect time for mysteriously disappeared bloggers to return to their sacred work (which they have been shamefully neglecting in favor of their other blog). For me, 10 days of total freedom to simply lounge about, stay up all night reading romance novels, nap an outrageous amount, write a 20 page rough draft…. wait. What did I just say?
Ah right. I forgot. Spring Break is most assuredly NOT about breaking. Instead, it is an excuse for your professors to give you as much homework as possible with the justification that you aren’t going to be doing anything else! Oh, silly professors. That’s supposed to be the point.
So thus you find me, contemplating the enormous mountain of my 20 page Senior Seminar rough draft that I must somehow overcome. I have exactly two pages done so far, and a thesis I am struggling to fully, forcefully bring to life. I’ve also just finished a book over Camus’s life (Elements of a Life by Robert Zaretsky, it’s absolutely phenomenal if you have any interest on Camus) that is making it both much more difficult and yet much easier to plan my paper. It’s probably the most difficult paper I will ever write, because the subject has become so important to me. Camus has changed my life this school year, and I’m grateful to him. It’s been a good change, amidst a welter of confusing, frightening, startling changes. Even more startling is the thought that this is the last essay I shall ever have to write. My academic years are drawing to a rapid, terrifying close. When I return from Spring Break, I will have exactly three weeks left of my academic life. This thought is nearly paralyzing; how can I possibly do everything that needs to be done in three weeks? And I don’t mean simply the tests, or even the paper, I am going to be scrambling to master. I mean, how will I possibly cram all the memories I need to cram into those three weeks to last me the rest of my life? I am contemplating not napping during those three weeks. Well, okay, let’s be real, I’m still going to nap, but at least trying to limit it to only one or two a week. I just know there’s so much I should be doing, but even worse than the panic is the feeling that I don’t even know what those things are. Surely there is a list somewhere that ensures that, somewhere down the road, years in the future,  I don’t stumble across a glaring lack of things I should have done while in college?
I feel like I’ve accomplished shockingly little. This could be because I’ve been so immersed in Camus lately, an extremely active and outspoken man, prolific with his writings. Camus, naturally, kept a journal. I’ve always had this secret terror that, since I never could be bothered to keep a journal, it meant I was not a real writer. I mean, in middle school, I wanted to be an actress. I came very late to my love of writing; at least, the idea of my own writing. I have always loved reading and the written word; in middle school I finished in the Top Ten in the Reader’s Digest Vocabulary competition of Oklahoma (I was the first ignominious one of the top ten to be out, defeated by two similarly nuanced possible definitions of “augment,” a word I will bitterly never misuse again). I discovered in 6th grade, quite by accident during an assignment, a great love of poetry. But when it came to me actually writing, it somehow just took forever to click.
I remember the exact moment it hit me, in the manner of things that are only glaringly obvious after you realize them. I think it was around 8th grade, and I was reading yet another romance novel. And there, in the back, innocuously tucked away amidst the advertisements for other books I’d already read, was a single page that said something along the lines of “Do you love romance? Have you ever considered writing a novel yourself? Check out so-and-so publishing company’s website to learn more!”
That sounds oddly specific, but that wasn’t what it said. But it was something along those lines. Even now I’m struck by the oddity of it; I had never before seen such a thing and have never seen one since in a romance novel. And I have read many, many romances. I remember thinking, why don’t I just do that? I had been essentially training without realizing it for just such a task. There were few things I knew better than a romance novel, and I have an overwhelming hoard of knowledge specific to England during the Regency period. Oftentimes I had thought before, while reading some horribly written novel, that I could do a better job. But somehow that never set the idea off in my head. I imagine that at some point or another, perhaps soon after, perhaps much farther down the road, but at some point I probably would have finally come to the conclusion. But, call me fanciful, it still seems a little like fate that I saw that ad, as if it’d been tucked away there just for me. This is how I reassure myself when I read about people like Camus faithfully keeping a journal full of important, transcendent, insightful thoughts. Perhaps great writers don’t always start out with the ambition to be so.
But, as writers (good and bad) probably tend to do, I have digressed. I was speaking of college and the lack I’ve felt in myself throughout. I used to prolifically write poetry, but in college I seem to have lost the knack. I’ve started numerous novels but never finished one (I am not counting the very short, very atrocious book I clumsily wrote in 8th grade(?) entitled “My Book,” wherein I simply transferred myself and my best friends and family into Regency England and made us all members of the aristocracy). But I have two novels that I have been finally, actually working towards. One is, naturally, a romance set in 19th century England. The other is a retelling of The Princess and the Pea. That’s something else I have an intense interest in. I adore legends, myths, and fairy tales, and some of my favorite books I’ve ever read have been retellings of them. It seemed only natural, after realizing I should write romance novels, that I come to the realization that I could write other things as well. When I was younger I read voraciously of fantasy fiction, and that influenced me greatly as well. I always dreamed of finishing a novel before college, publishing it, and it magically becoming wildly popular a la Harry Potter, and never having to worry about finding a job. I’ve accepted, sadly, that this won’t be the case. I underachieved a little on my dreams.
But this week, I discovered something that I will have when I graduate that I can be very proud of. Each year for the two divisions of the college, teachers nominate a group of seniors. From that initial list, they whittle it down to one person per each division who receives a Distinguished Graduate award. I found out on Wednesday that I was selected as the Distinguished Graduate for the Division of Arts and Humanities. I feel unbelievably honored to receive this award; I won out against some brilliant, dedicated, and involved students. So I’m going to take this honor, this faith in me that all the teachers who argued for me to win this award tacitly bestowed, and I’m going to try and conquer a little of this panic, a little of this fear, this sudden welling of uncertainty about my ability and my purpose and my future, and believe in myself.
So, with that uplifting thought, I am going to tackle that 20 page rough raft. And studying for the three tests I have the week we come back from Spring Break. And trying to figure out what important things I need to pack into those last three desperate, bittersweet weeks.
Well, right after we get back from Louisiana on Wednesday. Leaving tomorrow morning, and I can’t read/write in the car without getting sick. So that means I’ll have hours to nap on the way down there, guilt free. So suck it, Spring Break haterssss! I WILL nap for outrageous amounts of time… at least for one day.

Leka nosht,
Sara

PS I went with Bulgarian today, because I’ve had people from Bulgaria totally looking at my blogs and how cool is that?! One of my favorite soccer players, Dimitar Berbatov, is from Bulgaria. So whenever I see that people from Bulgaria have looked at one of my blogs, I can pretend that maybe, just maybe, in some bewildering, magical world, maybe famous soccer players look at random blogs from 21 year olds in Oklahoma. “Leka nosht” means “good night” in Bulgarian, or at least according to this page. And I will now leave you with a picture of me from Thursday, when I picked up my cap and gown:

cap and gown
And shout out to my Tottenham Hotspurs, who I’m repping in the background!

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Ohhhh, Captain; (PLEASE BE) My Captain

Guyssss, omg.
I haven’t posted in forever it feels like. For a long time I felt like I just didn’t have anything to talk about, now all of a sudden I am simply BURSTING with things to say. I don’t even know where to start. So, I’m going to start with the reason behind the title of this particular post. Up until Thursday night, I lived with a stigma. But no more, I have thrown it off; I FINALLY saw The Avengers for the first time. And it was fantastic. Now I am no longer one of the apparently approximately .05% of America who hadn’t seen it. But why did I take so long, you ask (you asked that, didn’t you? If not, you should go ahead and ask it now so I don’t feel stupid for saying that)? Well, Dear Reader, the reason is simple- I never go to the movies. Like, I maybe go to the movies 5ish times a year. I just don’t do it. I also don’t even rent movies. I’m not sure why; I love movies. I’m not like some incredibly discerning movie critic who will only watch the very “best movies” or anything. I mean, some of my favorite movies of the past five years are kids movies, and one of my favorite movies I’ve seen recently was Here Comes the Boom (look it up if you’ve never heard of it, and turn off your skepticism, IT IS SO GOOOOD). It’s just that, for some reason, I never get around to watching a lot of movies.
So, it’s taken me literally until this past Thursday to watch all of the movies that are supposed to come before The Avengers for optimal plot line making-senseness. In order to do this, my roommates and I also had to rent another movie to watch before The Avengers, and that movie was Captain America.
Guys.
Guyssss, OMG.
I think I have found the man that could turn me into a legitimate celebrity stalker. WHERE HAVE I BEEN WHILE CAPTAIN AMERICA HAS JUST BEEN OUT THERE IN THE WORLD?!?!? How have I never heard of/seen him!!! Look at this picture of the guy who plays Captain America, Chris Evans:
OHHHH CAPTAIN
Oh. Oh my. Ohhh, my. Where are my stalking shoes? If you know me, you know that I love to joke about how much I love certain celebrities (Josh Hutcherson, Damian McGinty, English soccer league, hello). I also joke about hunting them down and marrying them. But obviously, that’s just a joke. I mean, stalking is really expensive. Just think about the travel expenses! And the time commitment… Stalking has to be really hard work. But for that man… oooh, it might be worth it.
*DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A STALKER, THOUGH. I AM TOO POOR, IF NOTHING ELSE*
We watched Captain America first, and then The Avengers right after. We were legitimately over halfway finished with the second movie before I was able to stop myself from making appreciative sounds/comments every time Captain America came on the screen. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone who I found that instantly, overwhelming attractive. All I can say is… that is a fiiiiiine specimen of a man.
But moving on before I get lost in those gorgeous eyes, those chiseled features, the slight scruff, the exquisite tailoring…
What was I saying?
Oh right, I was moving on so that didn’t happen. Seriously though, I’m going to get a hold of myself. Get it together, Sara. Focus.
Okay, I’m good. I’ve moved down the page enough that I can no longer see the picture, so we should be good now.
The next day after my unusual bout of movie-watching, I participated in something at my college called Drover Difference Day. It’s where you sign up for sessions of  all kinds of volunteer work around the town my college is in. To my great shame, I had never done Drover Difference Day in the two years since it started, when I was a sophomore. I was determined that I would participate as a senior, and not graduate without doing my part to give back to the community.
The experience was not what I was expecting.
Already an unfortunate factor was that I had to sign up for the morning session, because I had to ride home from college with my sister(for reasons I actually will get to later). So, I was signed up from 9 to (tentatively) 12:45.  Another mark against the whole experience was that I didn’t know what to wear. For some reason, you’re not told exactly what volunteer activity you’ll be doing. So it can be anything from painting bleachers at the school to pulling weeds in someone’s flowerbeds to reading to children in elementary schools. Those activities call for very different wardrobe choices. But since knowing beforehand was not to be, I just decided to wing it and went with sweats and a t-shirt, and some Converse because I somehow thought that might give the look a little bit nicer touch (what made me think this??? Maybe because it was like 8:20 in the morning when I was making this decision, I guess). So I roll up, half asleep in the freezing cold, to the designated meeting area, expecting to see a sea of fellow student volunteers, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to go forth and rain volunteery blessings upon the community.
You might have guessed, that was not what I saw.
Instead, there were TWO fellow students, and a few faculty members who work around my college. I guess everyone else was smarter than me and decided to volunteer for afternoon activities. I was very grateful, however, when my I saw my third roommate walk up a little bit later. I don’t really see much of her, so I didn’t know that she was volunteering at the same time. But, boy, was I glad she did. After my roommate (her name is Megan Wilkerson, but I call her Wilko and will do so in this post) arrived, we left very quickly and in some slight confusion. Luckily, Wilko had drove and she let me ride with her so we didn’t have to squish into the provided van. They told us something about going to a home for elderly people, so I was expecting to go and spend time with some seniors, and was regretting my slightly hoboish appearance. Suddenly, en route, we see the van just pull over at a random house. We eventually get out, and are immediately told to put on some gardening gloves and start turning over flowerbeds on the side of the house. I still don’t know what was actually in the house, because we never went in.
Just a quick note here, I don’t want it to sound like anyone was rude or mean to us. That’s one thing I love about our school, is everyone is incredibly cheerful and friendly and nice. This experience was just very under-explained and rather confusing, especially since I’d never participated before.
So there I was, standing in the freezing cold with Wilko. Both us came to the conclusion that we didn’t know how to turn a flowerbed and we knew nothing of gardening. But everyone else just plunged in, so we followed, and just began ripping out weeds. Twenty minutes later, I was freezing and my knees were already dying from all the bending over (I have joint problems, THANKS SOCCER). Wilko, who had come straight from class, was wearing really nice jeans and WHITE CANVAS SHOES while grubbing in the dirt. My thin converse, meanwhile, were also getting dirty while simultaneously letting my feet slowly freeze and wither. To top it off, suddenly, there was a spider.
I. Hate. Spiders.
Thankfully, almost immediately after this, one of the nice faculty ladies asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to go to another place, because no one had apparently shown up there like they were supposed to. Everyone was silent, then Wilko (wisely, in my opinion) asked what we would be doing there. The lady told us, “Sorting clothes!” I think I already had my gardening gloves off by the time she finished speaking, and Wilko was right behind me. We asked her if we would be inside, and she told yes. We thought we were in the money.
We were wrong.
We arrived at the place and were directed to what was nothing more than a big, glorified shed, warmed only by two small space heaters. We started hanging up a pile of clothes, which honestly wasn’t so bad, since I was sitting in front of one of the heaters. It was easy work, and went pretty quick. To our surprise, the only other thing they wanted us to do was to fold two bins of clothes they had in the back. This will be easy and I can go take a nap! I thought to myself, unwisely optimistic. I don’t want to go on and sound like I am in any way criticizing this establishment, because I think what they do is absolutely fantastic. But the worst part of the experience can be summed up by saying this: people donate their old underwear. We had to sort said underwear. Wilko, being an absolute champion, dealt with it all and put it where it was supposed to go. I don’t know how she did it. By the end, my hands were so cold I almost couldn’t fold stuff anymore. At least at the other place, I’d had gardening gloves to keep my hands warm. To our intense relief, the lady told us we could leave afterwards, and Wilko and I went back to the apartment and washed our hands thoroughly, and I threw myself into bed to try and revive some sort of warmth in my body.
They say that volunteer and charitable work builds character. I regret to say, I did not feel very character built. I think perhaps I was just too cold to feel anything. That’s not to say I regret doing it, because I’m glad I did. I just wish I felt like I’d done more (and I probably should have complained less). I’m so fiercely grateful that I’ve never been put anywhere near a position where I was so desperate that I needed secondhand undergarments. It occurred to me that maybe I should recognize that simply having to sort them is an indescribably better than having to wear them if I want to wear underwear. It’s so easy to take for granted my freedom to buy myself nice clothes that are completely unnecessary. The whole point of my other blog is to create my own style cheaply, but I think sometimes I forget that, for a lot of people, the concept of style is completely irrelevant. Some people are grateful just to have clothes on their back and a pair of shoes.
So maybe, even though it wasn’t what I was expecting, Drover Difference Day turned out to be just what I needed. And maybe a little bit of character building did seep in under that layer of permafrost I’m pretty convinced was covering my person.
Now, I mentioned that I was going to explain why I had to ride home with my sister from school. Well. Oklahoma was supposed to be slammed by a giant blizzard last Monday/Tuesday. It was supposedly going to be one of the worst we’d ever had, with TWO FEET OF SNOW in some places. Now, all you snowy people in snowy places who are (hypothetically) reading this, that might not seem like a big deal. But in Oklahoma, we’re used to dealing with tornadoes, not blizzards. It was essentially shaping up to be a Snowpocalypse, according to Oklahoma weathermen. So, we left my car at home for my dad to drive to work, since his truck’s heater doesn’t even work. We figured he probably might need one to face a blizzard. Consequently, I just rode up with my sister.
As for the “blizzard,” well, we got one. Partially. As in, the upper western part of the state got one. NO ONE ELSE. We got more rain than anything, and a little bit of snow in the evening. There wasn’t even snow left on the ground by Tuesday morning, however. WORST SNOWPOCALYPSE EVER. Way to go, Oklahoma. Way to go.

Auf wiedersehen,
Sara

PS I went with German because Captain America is the scourge of the Nazis, obviously.