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




crown




trophies and medals

24 October 2005

I ended the last entry of my journals by saying “so long.” It did not take that long. All I expected was to have a decent amount of time to do important stuff such as thinking about nothing while doing nothing. But before I knew it, I was doing unimportant stuff such as thinking about everything while doing everything. Time continued and even continues right now to take in big gulps of seconds, minutes, hours, days and weeks. But something at this part of the year is very different in that chronological process.

Yes! That time of the year is finally back. The time when winter-people at last get a chance to weigh heavy on summer-people, the time when buzz about Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings start taking over campuses across the nation, the time when quite a few students (like myself!) find themselves perfectly positioned in a “do or die” situation and the time when everybody starts claiming that that time of the year is finally back!

To begin with, the weather here in Austin has been the most prominent factor demonstrating this transition. Precisely one month ago, the thermometer spurted out figures as high as 107 degrees Fahrenheit. Today that same thermometer gently oozed forward the lowest figures of the day at 45 degrees Fahrenheit. To sum it up: a total change of about 62 degrees has taken place within a month. In other more technical words: “I’m freezing. I’m freezing. I’m freezing!”

If dark clouds of ambiguity still remain after reading the last schrill (schrill, by the way, is a combination of scream + shrill = schrill), let me put it another way: I am not a cold weather person, period. I shiver at the name of cold. I shudder at the thought of cold. I wiggle at the name of cold. I wobble at the thought of cold. In short, I freeze way ahead in advance in anticipation of the actual cold weather.

My distorted perception of cold weather aside, the weather in Austin has apparently taken a turn for the better. The days are accompanied by nice, clear and sunny skies with upper-70s while the nights are a little cooler. Overall, the weather is perfect to roam around the UT campus.

I usually have a gap of about a few hours in between my classes in the morning and accordingly spend most of my mornings either trying to be all over the UT campus or either in the sun somewhere around the LBJ Library and Museum area (on the east side of campus).

Once upon a time, I was informed (at my orientation!) that “it is extremely dangerous to return back to your own dwelling without completing all classes of the day” (perhaps because of the fear of laziness and of not returning to remaining classes of the day). And so I don’t. Anyway, my ventures of the day usually start with my first class and after that comes the much awaited mini-break. I am very fond of this part of the day because I get to spend some time outside even though I usually spend time working on homework and assignments (with the exception of power naps).

In any case, the time spent around my current favorite area of the campus is wonderful. As mentioned earlier, the LBJ Library and Museum area is the honorary recipient of my free time. (Or should it be the other way?) A look at the campus map indicates this portion to be the least occupied. Likewise, more open space, green grass, tall trees and soothing fountains (as well as a few more unwanted squirrels!). Apart from these reasons, this area also is arguably among the very special places that provide the opportunity of an almost panoramic view of the campus. UT Tower, Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, McCombs School of Business building and almost all other campus structures are visible from where I usually sit. In short, the great weather, great view and great mini-break simply make everything….great!

Spending time outside on campus was the first thing allowed by the change in time and conditions, which obviously is great. A second thing at this time of the year (which is even greater) is the ongoing circulation of BCS buzz everywhere. I was about to become a die-hard opponent of this ranking system in college football when they eventually got it right in the very last nick of time. We are finally where we deserve to be: at No.1. Texas is at the top of the game. And nothing right now is more pleasing than to have that winning feeling and to know that everything of this sort is happening in your very freshman year. It, of course, is such a great great feeling and honor to be a part of this prestigious organization.

A super football team in hunt of a national championship elevates that same feeling to an even greater level. I precisely remember how close I was to missing the deadline to get the Longhorn All Sports Package (LASP, by the way, is the best and low-priced way of obtaining tickets to all regular season home sport events). That, undoubtedly, could have been the mistake of the century. Thankfully though, I have been a part of all of the home football games and have had the chance to see the Texas Longhorns perform exceptionally. And I am very sure that the Longhorns will continue to march down the road in the smoothest fashion and play for the BCS championship on Jan. 4, 2006, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Hook ’em Horns!

Jubilee or absolute bliss might be the two feelings one might feel after being in my position. And partially rejoicing and cheering I am. But like every other single story in the world, this journal would be incomplete without a twist in the plot. And here is my twist: I am in the middle of a “do or die” situation at this time of the year. Like a few others, I find myself perfectly positioned to either do or die. The tiniest omission of specifications in Sociology 302 might take me down. One extra word might lie between the actual grade and my desired results. Only a small pop quiz in that class might be the difference between life and death. Only a small deviance might keep me from retaining that glory. Same is the case with Classical Mythology 303. The blasphemous act of forgetting about the succession myth might take me down. One wrong name might lie between the actual grade and my desired results. Only a missed lecture portion in that class might be the difference between life and death. Only a small error might keep me from retaining the glory. But as I mentioned in my last journal, THIS DAY WE FIGHT! And fighting I am. I have the option of either doing or dying and I have chosen to do. (All other classes are going fine by the way and are set for A’s.)

All of the above confirms that that time of the year is back. Yes! That time of the year is back: the time when winter-people at last get a chance to weigh heavy on summer-people, the time when buzz about BCS rankings starts taking over campuses across the nation, the time when quite a few students (like myself!) find themselves perfectly positioned in a “do or die” situation and the time when everybody starts claiming that that time of the year is finally back! But wait…time out…stop…think…is it really that time of the year and is it truly back?

I am a freshman at The University of Texas at Austin. A new fresh winter season is in the process of taking over the charge from summer. Texas is ranked first in the nation for the first time in many years. Instead of the other case, I am also positioned to get what I want in my classes. Everything is new and different and not the same. So, is it really that same time of the year?

I take my words back, re-phrase it and say: it is not that same time of the year. But everything is new, fresh and never encountered before. This view is better and more optimistic. Isn’t taking the fresh and optimistic look a better idea? What do you say?

—Zaid

z.hassan12@gmail.com

P.S.: Tragically this time of the year is very different for many in the earthquake-struck region of South Asia. Heartfelt condolences to all of those affected by the disaster and prayers from everybody from this part of the world. Read more about the South Asia quake.

—Thanks.

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