(All my posts are just for fun. If I talk about something medical, ignore it. Never take my advice on anything. Truly.)

Everyone has trouble focusing. We live in a world where there are numerous interesting things to do, and it only takes seconds to get access to those interesting things. As a chronic multitasker myself, I am completely guilty of separating my focus onto three different tasks at once. For example, the other morning I found myself reading, watching television, and answering texts messages at one time. I should probably have been ashamed, but I wasn’t. In fact, I was proud of myself. Here I was, maximizing my time, using different gadgets, and keeping in touch with my family and friends.

The truth of the matter is, we can’t really focus on that many activities at once. The television show I was watching, I had seen hundreds of times before, and the messages I was writing didn’t require much effort. You could say I was only really soaking in the book.

Being a graduate student has affected me strangely. Some mornings I get up, drink a cup of coffee, and immediately get to work. Other mornings, I sleep until 12 PM, go for a two hour walk, clean my house, and never once think about my thesis. (For all of you writing your dissertations, trust me, I understand that I have no right to bitch. But here we are.). It is infuriating, and I am scared every day that I won’t ever graduate or get my writing over with. My focus goes from place to place, and I never really seem to be able to grasp what I am trying to accomplish at any given point.

There are a couple of extreme measures I take to sit down and truly focus:

1. Throw my phone away. Or put it in another room. Whatever it is, I get rid of it. There are too many cool things on my phone: games, social media, good conversations, books, comics, and music. If anything is going to draw my focus away, it will be my phone.

2. Lock myself in the most boring room I can find. Honestly, this is usually some place in the library, or (no one tell my advisor) the archaeology lab in the evening. Unless there are people in the lab, in which case I hightail it away from there.

3. Never open an internet browser unless it is connected to JSTOR, some peer reviewed journal, or the thesaurus. NEVER.

4. If you take ADD medication, don’t skip that day. If you don’t take ADD medication, start taking it now.

5. Find something that relaxes you, yet keeps you productive. I have two go-tos. Incense and tea. I know, you all think I’m a useless hippie. But if your relaxing agent is saying “bro” out loud to yourself or chugging a 40 of Coors, go for it.

6. Don’t underestimate the power of taking a ten minute break. As long as you come back to what you were doing before, your mind can re-set itself, and give you a more long-term spurt of productivity.

7. Ignore your pets. This sounds cruel, but here’s how it goes in my house. I will be sitting around, playing on the computer all day. Or reading a book for fun. My cats will ignore me during this time- they will sleep or play with each other or run up and down the hallways. But the minute I bring up a Word document, they decide it’s time to get in my lap and be incredibly cute. And then I have to make the decision: do I pet them and immediately ruin my day of productivity? Or do I look into their sweet little eyes, pick them up, and throw them onto the floor? Damn them. Damn them to hell.

8. If you are having relationship problems (and I know you all are, so don’t act like this isn’t a thing) stop thinking about them for five fucking seconds. Jesus, as if you weren’t defined by more than just your pretty face and your inability to communicate with your partner.

9. Try to be excited about your work. Again, this sounds like a given, but there are times where I immediately sabotage myself because I am tired of what I am doing. Or I don’t see the point. Don’t feel bad about having those doubts, but try to remind yourself why you were drawn to the subject in the first place. How did you feel at the beginning of your project? (I know you had a schedule at the beginning of your project. How did that go……)


10. If you miss a day, don’t freak out. There is always tomorrow.

What are your productivity tips?


I’m Back!

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I know I am the queen of hiatuses. (Hiati? Nope, that does not sound right.) Usually it’s because of moving or traveling or just pure, unadulterated laziness. In this case, it was a delightful mixture of all three.

I’m not guaranteeing I’ll keep up with this blog all of the time. But, as I say in after all of my extended blogging breaks, I’ll try really, really hard this time. Promise. Cross my heart or whatever.

So, I guess I should let some of you old friends know changes in my life. Judson and I broke up (I know this might be a common on again/off again theme, but this was a real thing. For real. Broken up. I even took him off my About TSDC page. So, yeah, it’s official). Of course I am a little sad about it. More than a little, probably. But I am a huge denier of pent up feelings, and I push them aside with good ol’ Faulknerian alcoholism/walking/writing combinations. As someone important probably said at one point, “You can’t love someone else until you love yourself.” I find this quote complete bullshit, but I’m using it as my mantra while I try to not strangle anyone who mentions Judson’s name to me.

I am also out there, dating, again. I mean, you know who you are (and I like you lots and you know all of this already). It is incredibly fun and rewarding, and I hope that dating continues to come naturally to us. Don’t let my sarcasm, cynicism, and emotional immaturity scare you away.

My parents are fine, in case you were wondering.

Besides relationships, I am still working on this master’s thesis. And by working, I mean avoiding. I write here and there, collect artifact data until my eyes bleed, and drink coffee as if caffeine were air. I read a lot of books. So, um…that means it’s going well right?

I tell myself every day: you are not doing enough creative writing. And that’s the truth of it. I should be pouring over short stories, editing the shit out of them. I should probably even write one now and again. But after forcing myself to exercise, forcing myself to be productive at school, and trying to find a part-time job…yeah. I get tired. And start watching the fantastic television that has been made in the past year. Seriously, they are doing a great job in that realm of entertainment.

But, somehow, through all of this…stuff…I’m super happy. Go figure. Apparently I was meant for challenges. Boredom does not sit well with my mental state. I feel super positive these days; maybe due to denial of my real feelings as mentioned above? All kidding aside, something in my brain is going well. I have good friends, good family, and I really am starting to like growing older. I have a good feeling about this year. Want to see my resolutions? [Oh yeah, that’s right. I still love lists.]

1. Travel to at least two new countries. I would like for them to be in Asia or South America, but let’s get real- I just want to travel.

2. I would like to start sticking to a schedule. This is my resolution every year, but I’ve already been doing it for a month, so gods’ speed.

3. I would like to learn about new subjects completely unrelated to my field. I want to learn languages, become fluent in the basics of astrophysics, and maybe be able to talk about the economy without grimacing.

4. Learn to be comfortable doing things alone. You are 26 fucking years old. You should be able to eat at a restaurant without a make-out partner.

5. Get a dog. Heee.

6. Read more. You only got to like 25 books last year. Shame.

7. Stop worrying about your weight. Shit, you look great! [I have changed losing weight to just becoming comfortable with who I am. Seems more feminist, easier, and, honestly, I lose more weight when I’m not trying to because….*fumes*]

8. Use way more social media. Because it makes me look cool. And because my phablet is completely awesome.

9. Write, write, write, write, write….

10. Follow your intuition, gut feelings, spontaneity.

And last of all, but most importantly,

11. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failing is learning. What would happen if you accomplished everything you wanted easily and without some struggle? First of all you’d be bored. Secondly, you’d be boring as a person. You’d never learn.

I honestly think I can stick to these. They aren’t too ambitious, and if I don’t do well at them, I won’t be devastated. Anyone got some good ones they have already been sticking to? Or if you have any news feel free to comment. I miss all of yous.

North Carolina Passes Abortion Bill Under the Cover of Darkness

I understand that I am not the best person in the world. I get that I have flaws, just like everyone else, and maybe my flaws outweigh others’ flaws sometimes. I learn and grow from my mistakes. I rise to the occasion when I feel strongly about something, and I do not back down if I know something is right. I have a personal creed. I have morals which I follow to the best of my ability, and I have opinions which are applied in my life.

I do not force these morals, creeds,  opinions on anyone else.

I believe abortion should be legal. I believe it is a humans’ fundamental right to be safe, to feel wanted, to feel ready to bring another person into this world. I believe restricting women’s right to have abortions leads to unsafe procedure, desperation, and children in difficult (sometimes deadly) situations. I believe the same people who want to outlaw abortion are the people who do not want to give these born children, who have no choice in the matter, the same advantages they had when they were younger. They do not want to give them the benefits of welfare. They are, in essence, sentencing them to a hard life with no respite and giving them a low-quality beginning. I feel this is a crime against humanity.

I feel that women are being undermined and abused when abortion is not legal. They are having fundamental rights taken away from them because legislators believe they won’t fight back. I believe women’s rights dictate the right to have control of their bodies and minds, without limitations imposed on them by a religion. I believe women do not have to have abortions if they feel it is wrong or outside of their religion. I believe they should be offered the same choice as those who want to have one. I believe when you walk into an abortion clinic it should feel like every other type of doctor’s office. It should be professional, the patients should feel safe, and unashamed. I believe a woman’s life is more important than a fetus’s “life” which is the size of a lentil, has no appendages, and feels no pain.

Enough of my feelings. Enough of my beliefs. Here are the facts.

I have studied science. Studies on embryonic development abound; they are peer-reviewed, they have clear methodologies, they are appropriately followed up with more studies. These studies revolve around fetal development, fetal consciousness, and fetal pain. These studies are not part of my belief system. They are part of science, which is a basis for constructing knowledge, not for engaging with the supernatural (I am using supernatural in the strictest sense of the word). My belief system might be affected by science, but science is not affected by my belief system because my belief system is not based on a way of constructing knowledge, but on a relationship I have with the spiritual world.

Science is ever-evolving, but this does not mean it is wrong. It means it is constantly just more-right, more-accurate, more-detailed. Science states that fetal pain does not start until after 26 weeks. Therefore, a brain cannot process pain until 26 weeks in the womb. Science states that modern abortions are safe. Science states that abortions are common; economics and science state that abortions will still be common even if abortion becomes illegal, however it will be less safe. Science states that abortions happen to women naturally within the first trimester of many pregnancies. Almost every women who is sexually active will have had a natural abortion by the time they die; they might just not realize it. Science states that modern abortion is more safe than child birth, natural abortions, and natural miscarriages because it is more controlled.

Science dictates my beliefs, but beliefs do not dictate science.


I am so incredibly upset today. My home state of North Carolina has given up on women. They have sentenced them to be less-than-men, less-than-human because they are letting their beliefs dictate science. I cannot only blame male Republicans.. I am blaming myself. I am blaming the women around me.

The women in North Carolina need to stand up and be heard. That is all there is to it. We are taking our freedom for granted. We think that because we live in a modern society with modern amenities, that we have everything we could want, that we are no longer oppressed, and that is just ridiculous. Maybe women in North Carolina are scared. Maybe we don’t want to seem like feminists. “Those kinds” of feminists. Well, I’ve had enough of it.

We aren’t “any kind” of feminists; we are human beings. We want rights like everyone else. We want the right over ourselves, which maybe seem indestructible. But, as we learned today, it isn’t. Our most basic rights can be stripped away from us, as if we didn’t have to inhabit our bodies every day, as if we already didn’t have to live in a world where women are used and undersold and oversexualized. We have to take back control of ourselves. The South isn’t an awful place, it isn’t any more messed up than anywhere else, but only we know that. We have to represent ourselves. We have to fight. And, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I plan to.

When Good Television Goes Bad; The Comeback of Dexter

If anyone knows me, they know I am obsessed with television. It isn’t something that I am particularly proud of, but my attention span lends itself beautifully to a good 30 minutes of drama, comedy, or science fiction. But, like anyone else who watches television, I know that there will be a season when my favorite shows start sucking ass. When the writers just start making up new characters, new plot points for the hell of it. No matter what happens next in the series, it won’t make sense, it won’t be original, it probably won’t be funny. We will all still be watching. That’s not the point. We will watch until the show gets cancelled for its downward spiral. But we sure as hell won’t enjoy it. Our favorite characters might end up having sex (finally), but is that enough of a compromise? The whole show for one, expected relationship? In fact, wasn’t it those ups and downs between those people that we relished the most?

A good example of an amazing show gone to shit is Dexter. If anyone has been following the great cinematography and what used to be a great plot from the beginning, they will know the utter betrayal and hurt I felt at watching all season after seasons 4. I literally just stopped giving a flying fuck about anybody. The characters became stupid; and even though I hated Rita from the beginning and loved watching her die, her death took the spotlight off her own character flaws and illuminated everyone else’s. Watching Dexter became watching “Everyone’s going to either be killed or fucked by Dexter.” And honestly, that’s boring.

There is a point to this tirade, and that is this: shows can be turned around, people. If anyone watched the season premiere of Dexter today, I think they will agree that not only does the plot make more sense than the plots of the last couple of seasons (especially last season), but it is kind of refreshing to not have to watch Dexter try and have a love-relationship anymore. It was getting too stupid. Sure, anyone and their mother can get a date, but Dexter? He doesn’t give a shit about that stuff, so why even pretend. I like the fact that now he is being hunted, not by a serial killer (does it seem to anyone else that Miami is primarily made up of serial killers now?), but by a licensed professional who would actually do the exact shit this new character is doing. And I love it. I didn’t expect Dexter to get good again, I really didn’t. I had even told myself, just don’t watch the next season (but see above).

Let’s just pray this last season ends on a high note, and probably not with a happy ending.

Packing for Israel

I just moved to a new apartment a month ago, and it’s way more space than I’m used to. I finally have some furniture (nice furniture!), except all my books have a home on the floor. I only have about two bookshelves and they fit my cookbooks and my art books. That is about it. Too many books. See?

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Books here, books there, books everywhere! The sad thing is that there are about 400 books in my library here in this apartment, and almost all the rest are at my parents house, sitting there, waiting for me to rescue them and put them on brand new bookshelves. If I brought them all here, the floor probably would collapse.

But in the next couple of days I am leaving on my big conservation trip to Israel. Yay! I cannot wait to see all the archaeological sites which are such a huge part of Israel’s history and rise to statehood. I cannot wait to meet all these new friends at the kibbutz, and I cannot wait to handle such important artifacts.

I decided that I would just use my old backpacking pack to carry everything around; it makes it easier for me to carry archaeological supplies, school supplies, and clothes in easily accessible pockets, and also means I won’t be that person rolling a suitcase through sand. Unfortunately…I have so.much.shit. (Although I am incredibly excited about my new travel hair dryer and my camera charger with European plug-in add-ons).



Ignore that big, flowery bag. That shit ain’t goin nowhere except the closet.


Summer, to me, has always represented traveling to new places, eating the cheapest things available (because you are spending all your money on travel), and reading all the things you couldn’t read during the winter because you were too bogged down with schoolwork. This summer has been sort of up and down. I have been going through some huge transitions and it makes me feel completely unorganized. There are still unpacked boxes in my den, I still don’t have a washer and dryer, and now I am about to leave the bedlam for three weeks to go tromp in the desert.

But that is why traveling is so important. It can take you away from those little things in life that were giving you so much trouble, and change your perspective in a minute. You go from worrying about being able to pay rent, cleaning every day, and making sure you exercise every once in awhile to meeting new, different people, hearing stories, becoming a new person in a way. You no longer worry, you just exist, and are happy existing. If I could go to a new country every three months, I would be the happiest person in the entire world.

Of course you get homesick. But that homesickness is also beautiful because it makes you appreciate the home and family you were taking advantage of when you left. Traveling is the best way to become outgoing, it is the best way to understand humanity, and it is (cliche) the best way to understand yourself. Never in your life will you feel so alone or so connected to every human as you will when you are traveling. And coming back is its own reward. You never go back to the way you were before. And it’s a good thing.

Ten Random Tidbits

I like lists. A lot. Lists are awesome and amazing, and….um….they are great. So with that profound introduction here are ten tidbits about me. I know it sounds egotistical (which is what makes it fun!), but if you actually read them, I guarantee there will be some links you want to click–maybe about books or video games or other things you might like.

And if you want to include your own lists at the bottom about you, feel free to do so 🙂 Making lists about yourself can make you nostalgic, help you remember old things you had forgotten, or just help you learn new things about yourself.

Ten Random Tidbits about Taryn

1. I am deathly afraid of tornadoes.


Look at that thing and tell me you wouldn’t rather die in any other way possible. That swirling tissue of connectivity from the sky to the ground is demon-spawn, hell-created, is responsible for almost every nightmare of pure and unadulterated terror I have ever had. Now, I live in North Carolina. We are not known for our tornadoes, although some do sweep by occasionally. But every time there is even a tornado watch, you can find me in my neighbor’s bathtub (they live on the first floor), with my nose pressed into the NOAA website on my phone’s browser.

I am not happy about my storm cowardice. In fact, I love thunderstorms. Give me a good ol’ safe bolt of lightning any day. Put me in a car with hail. Even hurl hurricanes at me during the season while I live on the water. Just don’t mention the unpredictable mass of fear that is a tornado.

At least my cowardice has an explanation. From about 6-8 years old, I lived in Iowa City, IA. Now, there’s a place that knows its tornadoes. We even had a cellar specifically designed to save us from these awful debris-spraying funnels. I think that cellar is part of the problem. It wasn’t no freakin’ cool hideout. It was a goddamned fallout shelter, with bare, stony walls and cans of shit I wouldn’t eat if the zombie apocalypse rained down on me. It smelled like rust and a little like being buried alive. Also, my parents are a little nuts. I’d say nuts in a good way, but not in this case. We lived in a huge, broken-down home near acres of cornfield, and you could see tornadoes coming from miles away. So they used to stand us in front of the tornadoes and TAKE PICTURES IN FRONT OF THEM. What the fuck. Good parenting at its best.

2. I played basketball in high school, and rode the bench like a champion. 

I use the term “played” very loosely. I was a power forward; big and ungainly, with no business running up and down a shellacked death-trap. I could shoot relatively well, but I was too scared to foul anybody, and if I had to dribble the ball- god have mercy on our souls. Fortunately, my high school team was too good to give a shit about me, so I spent most of my hours cheering on a team that led us to nationwide victory; and I proudly had nothing to do with it.

3. My first real kiss happened on the beach, under a full moon, when I was sixteen.

I hate cliches. Which is what makes it so weird that my high school life was just one, giant walking one. It was a perfect, sweet, actual kiss (not the grab-ass you play when you’re in middle school), and was before I turned into a total evil, slut-creature that all eighteen year olds become. Again, a cliche in the making.

4. I am obsessed with casual, online adventure games.

It is no secret that I am a PC gamer. I like other platforms, but I have just always had a knack for PC controls, and so that is where I stay, forever locked into my gaming niche. And I love adventure games. I grew up on Syberia, Sherlock Holmes, The Longest Journey, and Nancy Drew. But with growing technology, a new genre of completely useless, stupid gaming has evolved: casual gaming. And I am addicted.

Look here, here, and here for free games. Yeah, that’s right. They might be point-and-click. They might include little square boxes that pop up when you kit the I key. They might involve vapid characters, useless logic puzzles, and terrible graphics. But, damn, they are the best time waster out there. [I am being harsh on these games. A lot of them have amazing characters and graphics. But, let’s face it, most of them don’t.] (Look here, here, and here for some examples of great characters/graphics). My favorite casual, online adventure games are the ones where you go steadily along, finding items and unlocking codes, until you hit the grandaddy of all puzzles and you are stuck for five hours. You realize you should eat something, do schoolwork, or maybe just take the dog for a walk. But you can’t. Because by God you will figure out how these three separate colors fit together to match the treasure-poster on the wall.

5. The first book to change my life was Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder.

Sophie’s World was far from the most poignant book I read, and it was far from being the best. I don’t say that with animosity or irony; it is just a fact that later on in life, there would be books which would touch me more deeply than the writing in Gaarder’s wonderful novel. But Sophie’s World was amazing because I read it at the perfect time in my life. It was right when I was aching to get out of the country, but was still too young to know what pilgrimages signified. I read it when I was in the midst of teenage anxiety and stress from the unknown, and when I felt like I hated and loved everything in the world at once. Sophie’s World is a wonderful novel about the history of philosophy and a girl navigating through a flexible reality. I felt much like this girl while I was reading the book, and I think I envied the way she was able to escape in the end. I now have a First Edition copy of the book because it represented a turning point in my life, and I own it so that I can be nostalgic about the passion I felt during those quintessential years of change into womanhood.

6. I hate squirrels.

They gross, they obnoxious. I’d have a pet cockroach first. Bam, nuff said.

7. I am addicted to Etsy, but too poor to actually shop there.

Every time I go onto the website, I see things I want. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Do you know what that is like? And they are always one-of-a-kind things which I immediately determine must be in my apartment, must be somewhere near or on me. I love the fact that Etsy has the weirdest shit imaginable for sale. See this, this, and this.

But you know what? I’d buy it. I’d buy it all. Etsy has a penchant for choosing some of my favorite things in the world and turning them into commodities which I require immediately. For example, think Adventure Time paraphernalia, bright colors, and just the adjective “vintage” makes me drool. Also, if I am on a roll, I might as well tell you that things like this, this, and this don’t help either.  In fact, feel free to check out my favorite here: just don’t tell anybody that I was the one who got you onto this addiction.

8. I can’t just do one thing at a time. 

I am probably undiagnosed with ADD. Or some sort of multitasking disease. Judson and I have a debate over whether people can actually multitask. He insists that it is scientifically, and therefore physically, impossible to concentrate on two things at once. Instead, your brain moves from one thing to the other in rapid succession. My take on it is that the logistics don’t fucking matter. I have to be doing two things at once or else I will be bored and useless. If I am doing schoolwork, some sort of noise must be happening. Whether music or the television (usually the latter). And, sometimes, which drives everyone crazy, I read two things at once…well you know, I’ll have two books with me and read like a chapter of each between them. I have to. While I’m writing this blog, I am reading my Israel book, watching TV, petting Fritz, and arguing with Jud about multitasking.

9. I am an INFJ to the fullest extent of its definition.

If you don’t know what an INFJ is, let me just tell you: they are fucking confused individuals. It means that they are incredibly passionate, but insanely logical. They are introverted to the extreme, but have to be around other people to feel fulfilled. They like success, but create challenges along the path of their goals. They like to teach, but they get frustrated when someone doesn’t want to learn. Basically, they are bipolar and sometimes hypocritical and completely emotionally nuts.

They are usually leaders of the free world, sucka.

10. I love politics.

This blog steers away from politics for the very reason that I love them so much. It is amazing I have friends at all. That is how much I love politics. I like knowing about everything that is happening internationally and domestically, and I like to talk about it. And if I get started here, this blog will never come back to video games and books and history and food, it will just melt into a lecture on why bipartisanism doesn’t work and how we are all fucked because we ruin the environment and don’t know how to make money. Anywhooo…..

I will end with this cute picture of a squirrel. Wait…squirrels can’t be cute…