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


7 November 2005

In Defense of the Sorority

Bias. It’s a harsh word. Merriam-Webster defines it as “an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially: a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment.”

I’m guilty. So guilty.

And this next bit is where I confess:

I’m a sorority girl. That’s right. And I’m proud of it.

Yeah for Alpha Xi Delta!

And this next bit is where I combat bias:

When I arrived to campus, I scoffed at rush and pledging, vowing to stay away from Greek life. I promised my parents that I would stay away from sororities.


After weeks here, still trying to find my niche, I started talking to Alpha Xi Delta girls and I agreed to visit the house. And to be quite honest, I loved it. I felt at home. I blinked twice and found myself at my first chapter meeting.

AXiD girls, contrary to the sorority cliché, are sweet and smart, with a touch of spunk. They welcomed me with warm smiles, hugs and teddy bears.

And here’s my soapbox—sorority girls aren’t stupid. They’re not drunks. They’re not easy. They’re not catty. They’re not ditsy. They’re not spoiled rich girls. They’re not afraid to break a nail.

Don’t believe me?

Case in point—I’ll reiterate—I’m a sorority girl.

26 September 2005

Things I’ve learned since arriving at UT:

(In no particular order)

  1. Kerbey Lane is only good between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.
  2. You are required to eat queso when you go to Kerbey Lane.
  3. Facebook is not the equivalent of studying.
  4. Wendy’s at the Union is open until 2 a.m. Thank God.
  5. Diet Coke is as necessary as oxygen.
  6. Sweet Leaf Diet Original tea is wonderfully expensive, but completely worth it.
  7. Kinsolving’s dining hall is only open when you’re not hungry.
  8. Grocery shopping at Kin’s Market is twice as expensive as shopping at H.E.B. But since the Market takes Dine-In Dollars, it’s OK.
  9. You can pay for almost everything with Bevo Bucks.
  10. If you can’t pay for something with Bevo Bucks, it’s probably not worth it.
  11. “Sticky tac” can stick anything to a wall. Anything.
  12. Don’t mess with the squirrels. They will fight back.
  13. Always have a bottle of Febreeze handy. Always.
  14. 8 a.m. classes should be avoided at all costs.
  15. Urban Outfitters’ sales rack is gorgeous.
  16. It takes 5-10 minutes to get to class. But it will take 15 if you’re already late.
  17. Slices and Ices has the best pizza. Ever.
  18. The silken tofu mocha-chocolate cake thing from Kerbey Lane is freakishly good (even though it sounds absolutely repugnant).
  19. Laundry is really hard to mess up. As long as you wash everything in cold water.
  20. Season football tickets are a godsend.

Crazy Squirrel Anecdote #1:

For the first time since I arrived here, it was running weather. I pulled on running clothes, grabbed Phoebe (my iPod), threw on my shoes and raced downstairs. I leapt out into the beautiful fresh air.

As I ran down the pavement, relishing in the noise of my feet on the pavement, I saw a squirrel in the distance. I smiled at it–a gesture of goodwill, a white flag to its rodent superiorty.

It growled at me.

Sam: 0
Squirrel: 1

Crazy Squirrel Anecdote #2:

I’m a chronic birthday-baker. And Chhavi, one of my nearest and dearest, celbrated the big 1-8 today. Accordingly, I spent last night baking in Whitis Court, slaving away in that sweatshop of a kitchen, and frosting brownies on the floor of my dorm room (strategically avoiding the fuzz that my new rug is breeding).

Of course, I forgot that this campus is gigantic, and Chhavi and I live on opposite ends of it.

What should have been disgustingly simple–delivering a pan of brownies–turned into a pathetically intricate plot to surprise Chhavi outside of her last class. Our dysfunctional cell phones–thank you, Hurricane Rita–didn’t help.

I brought the brownies with me to my literature class. My classmates lustily gazed at the gooey chocolate frosting oozing onto the side of the pan. The chocolaty fragrance tantalized us, as we struggled to navigate the overly complex UT Web system.

After a David vs. Goliath battle against CWRL passwords (It was gory. Several fingernails were broken on keyboards.), my professor, Chris, suggested we move outside. I was delighted. He sent a student to the CVS Pharmacy store for Diet Coke and water, and we sat near the Harry Ransom Center, eating traditional Arab food – rice and lentils. When our stomachs were satisfied, we circled ’round Chris to discuss the “Book of Khalid.” I wrapped my brownies in my jacket to keep them safe from ants.

As we debate about the narrative style of the book, the girl sitting next to my brownies lets out a scream.

“Sam! The squirrel’s attacking your brownies!”

Shrieking, I leaped up. A squirrel was burrowing in my jacket, dangerously close to my precious brownies.

I ran toward it. It stared me down, unwavering. A battle of wills ensued.

It made some sort of noise–something dangerously close to a growl. I raced up to it, muttering obscenities, waving my hands like a madwoman.

I think the squirrel thought I needed a straitjacket.

It scampered.

“Take that, squirrel,” I thought triumphantly.

It waited around, eyeing my brownies. In an attempt to placate it, we fed it rice and lentils. The squirrel, picky thing, ignored our peace offering. It hissed at us.

Rude. Just plain rude.

As our discussion ended, I grabbed my brownies and glared at the squirrel.

I win.

So, as of right now:

Sam: 1
Squirrel: 1

Take that and rewind it back.

A Reflection on Fear

I’m stalking the news. I can’t walk past a TV or log onto the Internet without pausing to stare blankly at CNN or BBC or the Weather Channel.

I am paranoid.

I’m fascinated by freeways transformed into parking lots by sheer traffic volume, mystified by weather maps. I’m watching videos of tears and broken-down cars, glued to plots of the hurricane’s path. It’s like a drug, an odd sort of depressant. And I’m the worst sort of addict. I’ve realized the detrimental effects of my problem, and even now, I can’t stop.

I am obsessed.

I’m battling jammed cell phone networks. I want nothing more than to hear my mother’s voice, her reassurance that yes, my father has stopped being stubborn, that they are leaving Sugar Land. I want them to get out.  I want to talk to them. They’ve sent my younger siblings to San Diego. My extended family has re-concentrated in Harlingen and Dallas. But my parents, the hardheaded pair of the family, are still in Houston.

I can’t lose them. I love them.

In my battle to declare my independence, I’ve been calling them less. I’ve been short on the phone. I haven’t gone home to visit. I’ve been hiding behind my busy schedule, my homework, sleep, my friends. I’ve been struggling to become my own person, an individual, a self-proclaimed “big girl.”

And now, all I want is a hug. I want reassurance. I want to curl up in a blanket, with a good book – a comfort book, like “Wuthering Heights” or “The Notebook”, and listen to rain and wind–not Rita’s rain and wind–I’d prefer a more conventional thunderstorm.

I want to hear my parents’ voices.

I want to tell them that I love them.

Oh God.

I am terrified.

And to Hurricane Rita – I’d like to declare –

You’re not gonna get us.

SAMEX reunion.  Best friend Alex came to Austin.  She goes to Baylor, and they evacuated for Rita.  Don’t ask me why these things happen; they just do.

There was definite “squeal-age.” 

And listening to “RENT.”  It IS the most glorious musical ever.  The movie comes out during Thanksgiving break.  We are dressing up as Mimi.

And now Sam will continue writing this entry.  Thanks to Alex for the above.  :-D

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