The University of Texas at Austin wordmark
Small handwriting sample of C.J.'s First-Year Student Journals, link to journals home page
Sam with her pink sunglasses

Sam's green frog, Snuffulupagus

Sam in her favorite shades

9 May 2006


“But she’s the one,
Bright as the sun,
Stops you there,
Right on the stairs,
And falling back,
When stars are black
And stripes on fire.”
—The Appleseed Cast

This is it. This moment, this day, these next two weeks—this is it. This is the end of my first year in college, and, oh my god, I don’t know where that year went.


This time last year, I had just turned 18. I was pretending to study for Advanced Placement exams, but really planning for prom and graduation. I was picking out my dorm with my then-future roommate in our computer science class, I was spending every moment with Alex, one of my best friends (she currently goes to Baylor, and when we’re home, we become one entity once more), driving around Sugar Land as if I owned the suburb, looking frantically for a summer job and waiting so hard to get to Austin. I must have made a ridiculous number of what-I-need-for-college lists and went dorm-room shopping millions of times.

And now, I’ve just turned 19. I’m frantically cramming for finals and scrawling my final term paper. I’m trying to figure out how to move out of my dorm room. (I ended up bringing twice of what was on my final this-is-what-I-need-for-college list.) I’m an English major. I’m already registered for my spring semester. I can’t wait to go home to see my family and old friends. I’m working at the same job I had last summer, and then I’m coming back to Austin for summer courses. I’m dreading going shopping for sorority recruitment.

I’ve watched my favorite football team win a national championship. I’ve seen protests. I’ve seen riots. I’ve been approached by at least 50 homeless people. I’ve gotten lost on the Capital Metro bus routes. I’ve had a few dorm-kitchen-baking-fiascos, a few cooking attempts that quickly turned into disasters. I survived round one of finals. I braved those monstrous lecture halls. I overslept, I underslept. I’ve found the best places for delivery, the best places to go sit down and eat, and of course, Kerbey Lane—that quintessential, always-open, always-tasty late-night venue.  I’ve made incredible friends, been out and about, laughed so I hard I cried, and once in a while, cried so hard that I’ve just started laughing.

Somehow, even after all of that, I’m still me.

I still have long straight black hair and dark eyes. I still love pink. I’m still silly. I still love books. I still correct people’s grammar on a regular basis. I haven’t changed my major since orientation. I’m still taking French, and I still ask myself why far too often. I’m still ticklish. I still have that temper. I still love clothes. I still can’t face the outside world without makeup on. I can still walk for hours in stilettos. I still paint my nails hot pink. I still wear my rings. I still love using dashes when I write. I still like strawberry jelly best with my peanut butter. I still prefer wheat bread and brown rice over white bread and white rice. I still procrastinate. I still love to run. I still have the world’s shortest attention span. I’m still afraid of geese.

I’m still me—quirky, random, me.

I find that incredibly comforting.

Of course, I’m different, too. I’ve grown up. I’ve learned that once in a while (a very long while), some things must be taken seriously. I’ve learned that people have fragile emotions, and that maybe, just maybe, the world doesn’t revolve around me. I’m holding myself to higher standards of writing. Currently I’m retired, because everything I’m writing is so subpar. I’m more well-read. I’m a sorority girl. I’ve taken up finger-painting (perhaps that’s regression). I’ve learned that I actually do have to study. I’ve realized that there are better ways to help people than by succumbing to one political party or being swallowed up by one specific organization. I’ve developed an addiction to chocolate ice cream with strawberries mixed in.

And, it’s almost done. It’s almost over.

This is it.

Ready, year number two? Because, well, here I come.

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