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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

5 December 2005

At the beginning of this semester, I never imagined that this would be the end of it all – this swarm of finals and make-up classes, sorority events, birthdays, the Rose Bowl. It’s as if the chaos of the beginning of the year settled down and what rose above it was even more madness.

Accordingly, the weather has morphed from generally sticky to temperamentally chilly. Make up your mind, Mother Nature – I’ve started out days enveloped in wooly clothing and ended these same days in T-shirts. Classes were canceled last week, much to my amusement and delight, because of ice. Of course, after years of taking the bus in the middle of blizzards, the ice and cold felt a wee bit trivial. Cara, a good friend of mine, and I celebrated with warm drinks, “Project Runway” (perhaps the greatest reality television show ever), blankets and Christmas music. In that vein, I spent $3.99 on a Santa hat and spent part of Thursday merrily wrapping presents.

And then Friday hit, and all of a sudden it was warming up, and I was panicking and working on my final paper for my literature class, and finals seemed ever-so-much closer.

It’s the end of the semester now, and to be quite frank, I’m different. I may still be confused, I may still be more than a little lost, but my definition of myself has gained clarity and vibrancy. I’m figuring out who I am.

I’ve fallen in love with the band Explosions in the Sky. I realize now that I really, really like math, but I’m just phenomenally bad at it. I’ve broken my cell phone, and my new one is covered with pink rhinestones. I’m slowly becoming a better writer. I’ve finally embraced my love for fashion, and I’m OK with its superficiality. I’ve realized that I really don’t like Starbucks, and that the best cup of chai tea near campus is at Mojo’s (a coffee shop on Guadalupe, that, sadly, is closing soon). Watching football has become my new favorite pastime. I’m becoming more sensitive, more emotional—I’ve developed a conscience. I’m also becoming more spiritual. Through some soothing prayer and late-night Quran reading, I’m finding myself with increasing faith.

I’m still me, though. I’m still stubborn and moody. I still procrastinate. I still want to be happy, more than anything. I’m still on an unending mission to lose weight. I’m still a writer at heart. I still snuggle with stuffed animals at night. I’m still determined. I’m still ambitious. I’m still an English major. I still love diet Coke a little bit too much. I still laugh all the time. I still hate coffee. I still love chai tea. I still love to run. I still love shopping for other people. I’m still ticklish. I’m still very, very pink.

On a sadder note, on the front page of the UT student newspaper, The Daily Texan, the headline about the alcohol-related death of a UT student refers to a friend of mine from freshman orientation – Phanta. I found out on Saturday night that Phanta was found dead in front of the Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity house. We were acquaintances at best, mere Facebook friends. But still, his death is sobering, upsetting.

Phanta, I didn’t know you that well. But, the few times I saw you on campus, the quick conversations, all of that—you were happy, outgoing, and, despite the fact that you didn’t know me all that well either, you chatted with me like we were best friends. My God, Phanta, if I’m feeling like this, I can’t even imagine what your family and close friends are going through. They must miss you like crazy.

I’d like to take this moment to send out my condolences to Phanta’s family and friends. I’m so sad for you.

Well, that’s it for this semester. Feel free to e-mail me at and have a wonderful holiday season!

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