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Small handwriting sample of C.J.'s First-Year Student Journals, link to journals home page


trophies and medals

10 October 2005

Until next time…” were my parting words that wrapped up the “glorious” and “world renowned” installment of my first freshman Web journal [consult editor here and check whether “The Great American Journal” would be a more appropriate title for my work!!!]. I did not expect in any way, however, that the intermediary “until-next-time” period would bring so much more to my life. Additionally, my opening phrase and prediction, “What Starts Here Changes the World,” turned out to be very accurate as (at least!) my world did change in this rather small period of time. Least important information aside, a few of these life-changing developments include: annihilating first ever midterm exams, inevitable demolition of Sooners by my Longhorns, and most important, an insurmountable amount of increase in my popularity around campus as well as around the world (examples include heartening e-mails from such dignitaries as Plato, Homer, Socrates, Locke, Thoreau, Jefferson etc)! All of these events (the midterms, our football triumph and inspiring e-mails) came at a very interesting time and turned out to be great sources of learning and experience: a time adequate enough and perfect to teach me my first invaluable lesson at The University of Texas at Austin.

The completion and submission of my first journal on Monday, Sept. 26, resulted in generating feelings of great achievement and accomplishment [consult editor here & check whether mentioning that I also did “The Robot” & “Moonwalk” would be a good idea!!!]. These feelings elevated me to an entirely new level of pure joy and sheer confidence. Likewise, nothing appeared to obstruct this high-flying Zaid for about a day or two until the eventual intrusion of evil midterm exams. And those very feelings of joy and confidence evaporated as quickly as they had trickled down. A hesitant and cautious look at the planner revealed what some would argue to be a schedule more intense than Mack Brown’s Longhorns: three exams in four days! That very look on that very dreadful schedule was enough to draw open my mouth so wide that I eventually had to pick it up from the floor. That was it – the indication of a clear beginning of an eternal grumbling and whining process. And that whining and grumbling process went on and on and on and on (and went even longer than the Energizer Bunny!).

The thought of attempting to tackle sociology, Arabic and mythology in such a short time was very devastating. The exams included all material we had covered in class until that part of the semester. The mind-boggling Arabic vocabulary, perplexing mythological figures and complex sociological definitions continued to keep me in a state of shock over the weekend and Mr. Zaid was unable to take any action whatsoever because of this confusion and fear. Any sort of help from this turmoil seemed to be the remotest idea in the world. I was desperate. I really was frustrated. The dark clouds of midterm exams seemed to be eternally placed over my soul, my actions and everything else I possessed. That was it – I was about to become the first casualty in the War against Examorism at the very start of everything. All hope was fading, dreams were shattering here and there, achievements were about to be overturned and this soldier was ready to embrace the annihilation, when came rescue in the form of the following:

Ashley and Noelle:

Hold your ground, hold your ground. Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers [replace this by words “my fellow Longhorns”]. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day. THIS DAY WE FIGHT! [a roar here would be great…]. By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West [replace this by “students of Classical Mythology” CC303 class!] and fight

P.S.: OK, OK. I guess I went too overboard and made this too dramatic but hey…no blaming here…at least this should get us pumped up for the quiz…J…I am not attaching anything with this e-mail because I am bummed out now after searching for this perfect quote for 45 minutes and now a complete state of laziness has taken over me. So stay cool, wait for my next e-mail with the mythology notes and glorify and marvel at this wonderful e-mail and great quote in the meantime.

- Aragorn [I mean Zaid…] J

Yes. That was it. The perfect form of help and it could not have come at a better time. That was it. It is amazing that I sometimes read e-mails in my “Sent Mail” folder and how even things of such sort can help in really bad times. That was it. The momentum started to turn as soon as I came across this e-mail I had sent to two of my fellow classmates in classical mythology class before a quiz. That was it. After re-reading the aforementioned e-mail again and again, the battle plan had finally begun to change. This wounded (but not downed!) soldier was beginning to regenerate with hope, rekindled dreams and the passion to fight back [consult editor here and ask to “arrrghhh” or roar in any way possible to generate the same feelings!]. And his resurgence process was complete with re-sharpening of pencils, re-alignment of head and brain and re-loading of backpack with such ammo as hardcover books and chocolate cookies. And when everything was said and done, his ultimate journey began when he walked into the distant horizon toward the Flawn Academic Center (previously known as the Undergraduate Library and located right by the UT Tower…) to face all the challenges. And he lived happily ever after.

What actually happened is that the soldier visited the library once and twice and thrice and this went on until his exams. Basically, that soldier or I [check with editor to make sure it is understood that I had metaphorically equated myself with “the soldier” and that everything else is clear!] ended up spending a lot of time preparing for my midterms and literally did this day and night. The result: some very Longhorn burnt-orange eyes, drowsiness, cough, cold and all other possible symptoms available on this planet. Anyway, I am still waiting for the actual grades and am unsure at this time whether this soldier did good or bad. The results and everything else aside, the midterm exam process led me to an important question: Why? [Check with editor here and explain that I’ll come back to this point at the end of this journal].

Apart from the story of my midterms I really wanted to talk about the OU-TX game, Mr. Young’s triple-threat capabilities, the damage our defense did to Rhett Bomar on Saturday and fumble recovery and Rod Wright’s elegant touchdown run. However the limitations of time and space as well as laziness prevent me from doing so.

I have talked about midterms, brushed up on the football subject and only one topic remains to be discussed now: the insurmountable amount of increase in my popularity around campus as well as around the world, the biggest example of this being the heartening e-mails from people like Plato, Homer, Socrates, Locke, Thoreau, Jefferson, etc. I would have loved to write about and discuss the contents of the e-mails I got from these individuals but have been prohibited by each of them to do so. Although all of them did want me to tell everyone that they are enraged at the copyright and distribution rules set by publishers particularly because they have not received any amount of share they deserve for their own intellectual work. Also, Mr. Homer yearned to meet his counterpart Homer Simpson and spoke very highly of him. On a more serious note and putting aside the talks of my popularity, all of the e-mails and responses I got were simply great and very encouraging and many thanks to all who wrote.

One e-mail that stood out the most included a message that truly was a source of inspiration and became my most valuable lesson learned at The University of Texas at Austin as of yet. The following e-mail was sent from Ithaca, New York, on Oct. 7 by D.L in response to my first journal and was titled, “And here’s my favorite Rainer Maria Rilke quote…”

"You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.  Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answers."

And this perhaps is the theme and message of this journal – living the questions now in patience. Most don’t ask questions, those who do sometimes run out of patience and deviate from the right path in frustration. My midterm exams and our victory over OU are two very recent examples of this. I did ask the question why, how patiently I lived through that question? Only time will tell. Similarly, our football team constantly came up short in the recent games against Oklahoma and many asked the question why? Perhaps Mack Brown lived through such questions patiently (worked hard) and is reaping the initial benefits now.

How successful have I been in conveying these thoughts? Perhaps I should also wait patiently and see!!!

I got very confused at one stage of writing this journal. Maybe I was asking too many questions of myself. Wish me luck!

So long,

P.S. Next journal goes online Oct. 27. Send me an e-mail if you have any criticisms, complaints, concerns or comments…

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