Author: Oryza Astari

Resolved: A New Year

The other day, I was driving to the mall with my family in the car. There were two left-turning lanes and I was in the rightmost lane. When I made the turn, I noticed that the car to my left was swerving towards me. At the same time, the driver on the opposite side of the road was also swerving towards me. I was staying perfectly in my own lane when my extra-cautious, backseat-driving mother exclaimed, “Watch out!” as she pointed at the drivers to my right and left. I flinched from the loud noise but didn’t swerve or change what I was doing. I stayed in my lane, let out an exasperated sigh, and muttered some expletives under my breath. No one was hurt and my car wasn’t scratched, but it was quite an experience. If you follow me on Snapchat, you’re probably familiar with my many rants about the crazy drivers in my city. Now, I’m not saying that I’m an excellent driver (I’ve had a couple of fender-benders and I didn’t pass my driving test on …

For when you are in need of affirmation

A Love Letter to Myself Dear Oryza, They say that comparison is the thief of joy. As a person, you’ve learned that comparison is the name of the game. As a child, you grew up understanding that good behavior is modeled. You listened to the plethora of stories about your cousins, your parents’ friends’ children, even strangers whom you’ve never laid eyes on, who modeled what it means to be a good child. You learned that not only will you never be that person—that it’s impossible to escape your own being—but that you’ll spend most of your life trying to be someone that you’re not in an attempt to make your parents proud. As a female, you grew up with no sisters and were told by society that your worth is defined by the attention given by the opposite sex. You will soon learn that sisterhood, in all its forms, is genuine and real, as are patriarchal and heteronormative power structures. Nevertheless, you still get stuck in the inescapable trap of comparison every now and …

If at first you do not succeed… maybe you were not meant to.

I don’t know about you, but this past week didn’t feel like a short week at all! Even though I got an extra day off on Labor Day weekend because of Hurricane Hermine last Friday, I still feel restless and exhausted. I just wrapped up my first month of teaching and I’m halfway through the first nine weeks of school. Honestly, though, it feels like I’ve been doing this for a lot longer. I’ve experienced a lot of growth in the short four weeks that I’ve been in the classroom on my own, and most of that growth happened this week in particular. Some background: I teach 8th grade science, which is considered a “high accountability” position, as my students have to take a state end-of-course exam. The exam covers materials from 6th-8th grade, so after I finish teaching 8th grade material in the fall (Earth & Space Science, my favorite!), I spend most of the spring semester reviewing 6th and 7th grade standards and preparing my students for the test. The exam is scored similar …

One Week in Florida, Five Weeks in Tulsa

A lot has happened in my life since my last blog post. I currently have 3 drafts on queue that were all unfinished and written at different times in the past six weeks. When it comes to blogging, I’m not gonna lie, I treat it like a college paper sometimes. Grammar has to be as on point as possible (not perfect because let’s be honest English is my second language and I struggle with prepositions), and I’ve got to have a nice intro and ending. If I could find a nice metaphor or imagery throughout it, even better! With blogging, I don’t have a deadline, and I sometimes don’t have to turn it in. So if I start to forget the purpose or “end message” of my post in the middle of writing, I usually quit. If I had learned anything from the past few weeks, it’s that I can’t write or live my life like that anymore. The word that comes to my mind that perfectly describes the past six weeks is humbling. Truly humbling. But before …

Cheers to You (and Your Teachers), Greenville

For almost half of my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to call Greenville home. My family moved to this charming small town from the bustling metropolitan of Jakarta in December 2004, six days after my eleventh birthday. Since then, we have moved three times, I was educated here from fifth grade to four years of undergrad, and we never stopped commuting. One of my favorite stories is discovering that my fifth-grade teacher’s son attended Furman at the same time as I did, though he was a year older. It’s the little things like these that remind me of Greenville’s endless small-city perks that have made such a large impact in my life, one that admittedly I neglected to realize until just a few days ago. Today, I’m preparing to embark on the next phase of my journey. For those who don’t know, I have accepted a position with Teach For America in Jacksonville. I passed the Florida Teaching Certification Exam yesterday and I’ll be teaching Middle School General Science. While I know that I wasn’t an …

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar?

It is an unfortunate circumstance of the world that we live in that the number of books about women and/or written by women in our usual college curriculum are few and far in between. Unless you’ve taken up a specialized major like Women’s Studies or Gender Studies, or you’re taking a class on feminism, it’s rare that you read a book by a woman at all. I began this semester a bit disappointed that my political theory professor took out Hannah Arendt from the syllabus, knowing that no one else teaches Arendt and the rare opportunity to read her work was a major influence on my interest in the class. Nevertheless, my bookcase from my four years of college is dominated by male (white, European, Christian—alas) authors. Given the rare circumstances that females have the opportunity to speak about our experiences, to finally give a dimension of reality that is oft neglected in an academic setting, we get passionate. This, I think, is a reasonable response. But what I find especially striking is the side-chatter of …

Here’s to Starting Anew (Over)

Plot twist: Oryza creates a new blog. But the word “creates” implies that this was totally intentional, that presumably I wanted to start something new. So, let me start over. Oryza lost her blog. First, let me share with you three lessons that I learned the hard way: Every adult in existence who has ever told you to save and backup all your work was right all along. Following their advice earlier, rather than having someone tell you on the other side of Customer Service that you should have done that, would hurt a lot less and probably save you from looking dumb when you’re in a public place, you’ve learned that you just lost your website, and the person on the other line just got hired at GoDaddy and has no idea how to fix your problem. Nothing is free. The word “free” is just a marketing tool to entice you. Somewhere in the annoying, boring, mega long Terms & Conditions (which you should all read from now on) says that you’re going to have to …