As Owl Days approaches us in the last two weeks of classes, I’m looking forward to speaking to prospective students and parents about why they should choose Rice. I like talking to prospies because they make me feel like an expert on Rice, even though I still need to use Google Maps to find my way from the stadium to the north colleges. Talking to prospies also allows me to reflect on the person I’ve become since coming to Rice, how I’ve grown and developed, what new opportunities I’ve had, et cetera. For example, this is the person I was when I visited for Owl Days:
“I’m at Rice. My host has a freaking rooftop suite with a view of downtown, like, come on! I wish I just went to this school. All these events are tons of fun, but it’s such a chore to have to text my host every time I want to get in and out of a room. I wish I just went here already and was just like a regular student. Like, let’s do it, you know, let’s get this thing going.”
And this is the person that I’ve grown to become in two semesters here:
No, but really. I’m so grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had here that I don’t think I could have had anywhere else. I have met so many wonderful people over the course of nine months that I can’t imagine my life without, I’ve taken so many cool classes and had a ton of exciting experiences, I’ve learned so many lessons about independence and self-reliance, and I’ve come away from this year knowing that other people have read my writing on the R2 blog, which has been a dream and goal of mine probably since I was in elementary school. (Well, I didn’t know about the R2 blog when I was in elementary school, but you know what I mean.) My only regrets are that, like I said a year ago, I couldn’t choose Rice earlier, and that I took 24 credit hours in high school that will never transfer.
Written by Rynd M.
Spring. It’s a time of newness, and a time of change. The world comes out of its grey depressing shell and explodes into a web of color, life, and pollen. Birds sing, flowers bloom, and thousands of beetles walk across Rice sidewalks. The Earth is not the only thing changing during this special time. Our lives at Rice change as well. Clubs elect new leadership, a new guard of student government takes over, seniors prepare to leave the Rice bubble, and newly accepted freshman prepare for the adventure that lies within it. Though a beautiful time, it can be a tumultuous one, with the stress of impending change compounding the general stress of life.
So, in an effort to remind you about the magic of spring, here are a few quotes about this special season.
"Spring is nature's way of saying let's party." -- Robin Williams
"Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush."
-- Doug Larson
“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.”
― Victor Kraft
“The world is exploding in emerald, sage, and lusty chartreuse - neon green with so much yellow in it. It is an explosive green that, if one could watch it moment by moment throughout the day, would grow in every dimension.”
― Amy Seidl, Early Spring: An Ecologist and Her Children Wake to a Warming World
“In springtime, love is carried on the breeze. Watch out for flying passion or kisses whizzing by your head.” -Emma Racine deFleur
Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. -Rainer Maria Rilke
If these hastily assembled quotes failed to brighten your day, then maybe the thought that summer is only a few months away can put a smile on your face!
Written by Joshua A.
Quotes Aggregated From:
I once heard a Ted talk. It discussed a monster that lives inside all of us. A monster that we despise, and a monster that we simultaneously cannot live without. This monster is both the bane of our existence, and also the one thing that makes our existence even moderately successful. Am I just making something up? Conjuring something from the depths of my imagination? No. This monster is backed up by psychological and evolutionary research. This monster has many names, shapes, and iterations. But you may commonly know him as the Panic Monster.
While Panic can cause many behaviors, some healthy, and some very unhealthy, I’m choosing to discuss one of the benefits of the Panic monster. It causes the brusque end of procrastination.
Procrastination: The beautiful method by which we trick our highly logical minds into believing that time doesn’t actually move forward. Where we insist that later is better than now, and that everything will magically fall into place. You continue to live your idyllic life, unbothered by the weight of responsibilities you have carefully trained your mind to ignore.
But though your mind is a flexible thing, able to accept lies and truth and accuse truth as being lies, your responsibilities are not quite as transient. They exist whether you believe them too or not. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and responsibilities don’t change just because you have changed your mind’s perception of them.
But then, when the carefully built charade is close to falling apart, when the tottering house of cards is about to come crashing down, something changes. Remember that monster? Well, it has been asleep. Lulled into a gentle slumber by your mind’s deceptions, the panic monster suddenly awakes to find a structure crumbling all around it. In a rage, it snaps itself awake and advances on the crevices of your brain, shaking them down like an Italian mob boss to a negligent tenant. Unwilling to be sedated any longer, the Panic monster comes into its full glory, forcing itself onto your mind and coercing you to act.
And suddenly you too snap awake, acutely aware to the painful reality that work has to be done and you have no yet done it. And as the panic monster activates your drowsy hypothalamus, sending a wave of adrenaline throughout your bloodstream, you find yourself suddenly able to jump into action, and perform whatever Herculean task you have to complete in this minuscule period of time.
You frantically work, setting aside all distractions, (usually), and devoting yourself to the task at hand, the Panic monster a slave driver, pushing you to work harder, better, stronger.
And then in some miraculous way, (although I don’t know if you can call you miraculous if it happens on a weekly basis), you finish your work, and collapse relived into the nearest chair. The monster has succeeded.
You notice your phone buzz. You look and see that you have a reminder to accomplish the next impending item on your to-do list. But you’re tired. You just finished so much work. You deserve a Netflix binge. After all, there’s so much time left. You have 4 whole days. That’s 96 entire hours! And so you curl up and turn on your TV
And as the light of the TV flickers in your dark room,
Your Panic monster slides back to sleep.
Patiently waiting to be awoken again.
(If you haven’t noticed, I procrastinated on this blog post)
Written by Joshua A.
“Complacency (n): a feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements.”
We all made it this far. We are all at one of the best universities in the nation. Most of us have done a variety of volunteer work, intensive research, various internships and are knowledgeable in more than one field. However, while most of us are this accomplished, a majority of the students still share the same problem: Lack of motivation.
I went to a village in India one summer to help at a local school for underprivileged kids. One would think that finding good teachers or collecting sufficient funds would be their main challenge, but when I reached there, I realized that the problem was a lot bigger than that: it was the mindset of the village children. Most of them just didn’t want to study. Having lived in their small village for 14-15 years, they had grown comfortable with living in poverty. They had accepted the fact that this is what life comprises of and had no will to change the circumstances. On my second day volunteering, I decided to go around the village and talk to the kids and their families. With every stop, the problem was the same. The parents would enroll them in school, but the kids just wouldn’t show up. Begging on the streets or selling things by the roadside was just a lot easier. That’s when I realized how dangerous complacency can be.
We, as the human species have evolved and built this whole world of technology, skyscrapers, sciences, and art because of our need to grow. Our need to fulfill our curiosity. Had we been complacent, there would be no smartphones, no concept of electricity, no rapid transportations, no urban cities, no internet for me to share my thoughts with any number of people with just one click. We grow because we are impatient, there is always scope for improvement and we won’t stop until we reach the end. This is what makes us better than any other living species. While we can apply this to our kind in general, can we apply this to our daily lives? Can we proudly say that we give in our best every day, so we can reach our maximum potential and achieve what we are capable of?
Just like those kids, we all too are only our effort away from what we can achieve. I wrote this post for all those who have so much potential but are wasting it away on TV shows and Netflix. Look around you, there is so much to learn and so much to do. Push your limits because real growth begins only when you step outside of your comfort zone.
You have achieved a lot, and while it is important to take pride in your accomplishments, always remember you are capable of so much more. “The tragedy of life is often not in our failure, but rather in our complacency; not in our doing too much, but rather in our doing too little; not in our living above our ability, but rather in our living below our capacities” – Benjamin E Mays. Go out today with a renewed sense of purpose, and remember to never be lulled into complacency.
Written by Diksha G.
Writing is hard. Really Hard. Debatably, it is more difficult than doing any Chemistry Problem Set or memorizing any Biology PowerPoint. I can say that. I’m a biochemistry major. Writing is mentally taxing. It’s a boxing match that lasts 12 rounds, a test of endurance yet simultaneously a test of skill. You against the paper. You against your pen. And you against your mind. A whirlwind of ideas jostling for your attention, words that refuse to fit the way you want, the frustration of trying to make your metaphor work when it really doesn’t. And when that final bell rings, you collapse exhausted, emptied of everything you have. All you did was type 2500 words in Times New Roman in Microsoft Word. But you feel like you just fought a battle. And after a few moments of glorying in your work, you get up and do it all again. Once again facing a terrifying opponent, a blank page, racking your brain for some sort of halfway decent concoction of thoughts. To put your convoluted musings down to paper in a coherent manner.
As Nathaniel Hawthorne said, “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” And knowing this, I still write. Why? Am I a masochist along with all the other writers in the world? I hope not. “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people” – Thomas Mann. There is something intrinsically wonderful about this struggle. This struggle against my own thoughts, this civil war in my heads that bleeds out onto in a stream of words, inky black dots marrying with the cream paper. Or more likely, hundreds of tiny pixels glowing on my MacBook screens. There is a something inside me that is fighting to be released, to finally be set free and allowed to explore the world. It slowly builds, bubbling up until it can no longer be contained. And though the process of releasing it can be painful, it is a process that must occur. And it is a process that must not only occur me for me, but for thousands of other writers and poets around the world. This inner desire ultimately overcomes the fear of failure and the struggle to create.
And so I force myself to write. Or not really me, but something inside me. Something drives me forward, an unwilling slave. Sometimes I would gladly relinquish this feeling for the peace and comfort and constancy of a Physics Pledge Problem, but I am unable. Instead I gravitate to the uncertainty and potential of a blank page. It may be terrifying, but it is also enthralling. So even when I don’t feel like opening up a new document, or creating a new note, I force myself to. Because nothing good comes easy, and though the process may be painful, the end result is wonderful. At least some of the time.
I don’t know if this was easy reading, but it was damn hard writing.
Written by Joshua A.
“It’s pointless. You’ve only been here for a year and hardly know anyone.” That was the reaction of my friends when I asked them whether I should run for the Student Class President elections. In retrospect, they had a point; my chances of winning the election were worse than of me getting an A in Physics. But sticking to the true stubborn nature of an Aries, I went forward with it anyway.
Were they right in predicting that I’m not going to be elected for the position? Yes. But where they right when they said “it’s pointless”? Not quite.
From the very beginning, we are taught that rejection is bad. Failure is for losers, and no one wants to be the underdog. I used to strictly adhere to that ideology, that is, until the end of my freshman year.
The Student Class President election comprised of the whole grade of 700+ kids voting to choose their class representative for the next year. Now, you can see how it’d be hard for a kid who barely knows 30 of them to win an election like this. But somehow, that didn’t stop me.
My friends, although initially reluctant, quickly hoped onto the idea of me running for the election. We spent multiple sleepovers together working on stickers and speeches. According to the rules, each candidate got two weeks to campaign around schools, which included hanging billboard size posters from every wall in the cafeteria to enthusiastically chanting campaign slogans through the hallways during passing periods. I still remember mine: “Life, Liberty, and better vending machine.”
During these weeks, I got a lot of support from not only my immediate friends but also other people who I’d barely interacted with previously. The sheer amount of people I got to know through campaigning was surprising. This helped me realize that the biggest mistake one can make is to always staying in his or her own bubble. Had I been complacent, shy or lethargic and not stood up for the election, my high school experience would not have been half as dynamic as it was.
At the ending of the two weeks, came the daunting “Election Day”. Excited. Anxious. Scared. These were just a few emotions running through me that day. Throughout lunch, people casted their votes and at the end of the excruciatingly long day, the winner was revealed to be….John Doe.
Words cannot express how defeated I felt that day. I remember numerous people trying to make me feel better, but even with all this support, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed in myself. Was I not funny enough? Was I too loud? What did I do wrong? I felt like I’d taken 3 steps back. However, the next morning when I reached school, I saw that I recognized a lot more faces down the corridor. Students and teachers started to see me as someone more approachable now and I had gone from being the shy girl to someone more extroverted and involved. So even though, this was a failure in my life, I still choose to write about it today because in the long run, it taught me that it’s not failure but rather the fear of it that brings us down. So let’s not be afraid of failing, for failure is just success in disguise.
Written by Diksha G.
Sometimes, artists and writers are told that the way to make our leisure activities legitimate is to turn them into work. In order to become a real writer, the saying goes, you have to write every day. I wholeheartedly hold this to be true, but it’s more engrained than that. When people tell me I’m “talented,” I tend to quip that the only talent I have is the ability to want to write every day, and the discipline, built up over many years, to actually do so. The hunger to be writing, as acute and disastrous as my caffeine addiction, is my biggest asset. I am a real writer not because I treat it like work, but because I genuinely feel more psychologically secure and content when I have spent time writing. My leisure has the consistency of work, which is why other people accept it as legitimate.
Yet there is the looming opposition, the force of finances. While we artists are told to convert our leisure into work, we are also told to discard it, and turn what has become our work into mere leisure. “You should be an Economics major, and get a career in consulting,” as it were, “because you can still do art on the side.” Or, to be more blatant, “You should focus on getting a job and find time to write on the side.” This mantra of on the side, on the side, delegitimizes the claim that art of all mediums is done well when it has become work. Art, in this on the side view, maintains that you can be good at art, and enjoy art, in a minimal timeframe. That if you are truly talented, you can make it work. This notion that art should be a hobby, or a pastime, kind of strips the ability for writers and artists of all types to prioritize the very thing they want to do. And as a result, it becomes that much more difficult to turn on the side, this leisure project, into work, which is a necessary step of improvement and enjoyment.
So: in order to get good at an art form, you have to turn it into work; in order to turn your art form into work, you have to acquire time. In order to acquire time, you have to turn your art form into leisure (to make money). We’re facing a bit of a crisis.
Still, there are some ways to adjust to this crisis-type time frame, strategies for attacking this sort of reality. This is why I’m actually a big fan of things like Inktober, NaNoWriMo, and the accompanying NaPoWriMo, programs that gather writers and artists and poets and create a schedule of accountability for turning leisure into work. You can’t participate in one of these three sort of activities (or any other sort) and expect amazing work out of them. All the same, these programs take time out of the equation when it comes to developing habits. Inktober, for instance, requires one piece a day. Why stop in the month of October? And if a piece a day means the pieces aren’t very good, well, you’ve still gotten in the habit of carving out a slice of time, so keep that time alive.
It’s not quite a perfect solution – we still all must face the gripping questions of financial stability, and the markets aren’t shifting in the direction of elevating all artists to financial glory any time soon. Still, the way to adjusting with any scenario is to put tools in your tool kit. Establishing long-term discipline and habits is a harder task than it seems, and it doesn’t seem as enticing as the possibility that one day, you’ll wake up and be able to write/paint/draw/whatever the next cultural touchstone of a generation. But the long-term strategy, in my opinion, is the way to stay highly aware of the way art is being relegated to the position of the fries that come with your hamburger, and to remind yourself – my art is work, too. I’m the kind of person that orders a hamburger just to eat fries anyways; at least until I can get to the point where I’m exclusively ordering fries.
Written by Erika S.
I first visited Rice in late February of this year for VISION. When I came back home, my twelfth grade British Literature class had just started reading Frankenstein as a part of what felt like a never-ending hellscape of Romantic literature (although in my opinion it was an improvement upon the preceding never-ending hellscape of Enlightenment literature). I had been anticipating the novel with visions of Boris Karloff in my head, but it continued to hold my interest through my sympathy for the creature. In my opinion, Frankenstein was the monster, and his creature was no more than an abandoned child. An eight foot tall child made up of cut-and-pasted corpses, but a child nonetheless. Who wouldn’t sympathize with the creature spurned by his creator who immediately recognized the abnormality in his creature; who wouldn’t want to reach out to the “poor wretch,” whose only family ran in horror when he revealed his true identity?
Well, a few people. I was told by my classmates that the creature revealing himself to the De Lacey’s as a coming-out allegory didn’t make sense, for a few reasons:
So I let it go. I finished the Romantic literature unit, I passed British Literature, I came to Rice. Frankenstein would have to be revisited at some indefinite point in the future, if at all. I chose the introductory English class taught by the same professor whose class I had visited at VISION, and eight months later, I’m reading Frankenstein again. It’s funny for a few reasons:
It’s almost unbelievable to me, considering my previous desperation to express my sympathy. I was once annoyed that my classmates didn’t agree with me, but now I’m grateful. Could you imagine, on top of the stress that comes with being a high school senior in the middle of your college applications, your classmates agreeing with you, seeing how you could sympathize with this creature, since you and this gigantic, shambling mess of rotting limbs have so much in common? Now, I’m grateful that I was made to wait to sympathize with a monster until the time of year when we all embrace the monsters inside of us.
Written by Anonymous
On April 4th, 1968 Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Although he was only thirty-nine years old when he was murdered, King had already completely changed the course of the Civil Rights Movement and re-defined the American conscience. Yet, he paid the heaviest cost for his dedication and passion in bringing about change. Many Americans had been hopeful that through progressive legislation and policies, hate had largely begun to be rooted out in the United States; that after years of oppression and discrimination, a sort of national healing process had begun. But King’s assassination, and events during the spring and summer of 1968, would show just how divided and enraged a large part of the American public was. From riots in Detroit to the anti-war protests in Chicago, turmoil was apparently erupting in every corner of the country. Bigotry, too, was undefeated. Although segregation had been legally ended, many Southerners still violently opposed integration and African-Americans were incredibly limited in their employment, living, and educational opportunities across the country. Even though the laws had been changed, the system itself was still rigged.
The same night of Martin Luther King’s death, Robert Kennedy (who was in the middle of a long, bitter presidential primary campaign) climbed onto the back of a battered pick-up truck in downtown Indianapolis and addressed a huge crowd of anxious supporters. Most of them had no idea of what happened in Memphis just a few hours before. Although Kennedy had planned on delivering his usual stump speech, he realized that the gravity of the situation called for something more meaningful, so he decided to speak off-the-cuff. As the midwestern sky darkened and the crowd hushed, an obviously distraught Kennedy slowly announced that “Martin Luther King [had been] shot and killed”. The crowd’s reaction was immediate and intense; initial gasps of disbelief turned to pained cries of panic and frustration. But, Kennedy continued. The words that he spoke had a profound effect on his audience, and 50 years later, continue to have a profound effect on me. Kennedy mostly spoke of the need for compassion and understanding in the face of bigotry; for the need to bridge our differences and unite ourselves against the expressions of hate and violence that appear so frequently in our society. Whenever tragedy strikes, I find myself going back to these ideas, and I almost always end up re-reading this speech. I guess it serves as a reminder that decency exists everywhere, and that despite what we may see on TV or in the newspapers, most people really do want to understand and accept those who might be different than them.
I really can’t do his actual words justice, though, so I thought I should include at least the last half of the speech for you to read. So, here it is:
“My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: "In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.
So I shall ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, that's true, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love--a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.
We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we've had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.
Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.
Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.”
When tragedy strikes, like it did so horribly yesterday, it’s necessary to remind ourselves of the importance of dedicating our lives to the “love and wisdom and compassion” that Kennedy spoke of. It might seem cheesy or idealistic, but I think that tolerance and understanding is the only real option we have.
Written by Matthew A.
Hey you. Yes, you. Person reading this blog post. You like reading-- you’re on a literary blog after all, so I think this is a fair assumption. So here is my question: when is the last time that you read a book that you chose to read? When was the last time you read because you enjoy reading, and not because you were assigned to read something for class?
I used to spend the majority of my free time reading. Even in high school, I was often found with my nose in a book. I’d read in between classes, before I went to bed, and sometimes (sorry Mom) at dinner. Reading was my primary hobby.
And then, as I’m sure many of you can relate to, I came to college and my course load increased exponentially. It’s the most grating irony of pursuing an English major: you chose the major because you enjoy reading, but then you have to do so much reading for class that you don’t enjoy reading anymore.
You always think that you’ll find time, right? You think that one weekend, maybe, you won’t have a paper deadline or a midterm to study for, and then, maybe, you’ll fall back into reading. You’ll pick up one of the novels you packed to bring to school that’s been gathering dust on your desk and you’ll read the whole thing through right then and there. But that magical weekend never comes and you’re left disappointed.
This summer I started carrying a novel in my backpack again. I set a challenge for myself, to start, just for a week: any time I wanted to reach for my phone to waste time, I’d reach for the book instead. Suddenly, I realized there were tons of moments in my day that I could read a page or two. I could squeeze a chapter in if I was 10 minutes early for work. I would read on the train on my way home. I looked forward to reading, and suddenly my “To Read” pile was shrinking in a way it hadn’t for years.
That’s not to say there isn’t good fiction to be found online-- there absolutely is! But I found that when I opened my phone, that wasn’t often where my fingers were taking me. I’d wind up mindlessly reading whatever articles happened to be on my Facebook feed and (for the most part) being sorely disappointed with their contents. I guess that’s what happens when you let an algorithm make your reading list. Choosing what I was going to read, getting to select the things that I enjoyed, that was the real difference for me. Reading stopped being work and started being an escape again.
So, if you miss reading, this is the advice I would give to you: read in the moments between. Carry a book around or bookmark your favorite poetry site. You may not have an hour to read, but you do have a minute.
Written by Megan G.