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.

Science Fiction and Wheel of Time Review

I put up another series of lists!

This time they are all about my love of science fiction books. The first list I added is courtesy of Librarything, which is a wonderful site where I keep track of books, and talk to other community readers about their love of books. One of the groups I am a part of on Librarything is a science fiction group. They have compiled a wonderful list of science fiction books which members of the group agreed were some of their favorites. That list can be found here. I also added NPR’s great science fiction list. This list has been shortened by NPR to a list of winners, but I hate leaving out nominees just because people didn’t vote for them.

Also, I thought I would give a review of the science fiction series I am reading right now: The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan.

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When I picked up the first book in the series, entitled The Eye of the World, it was more from desperation than anything else. I was without a car, without a computer, and the only book I had to read was completely about my unending, terrible thesis. I have to admit, I looked at the cover of the book and chuckled to myself. It’s a man in full warrior garb riding a white horse in front of a full moon. Come on.

However, if anyone could capture an audience with just a few pages, it would be Robert Jordan. His prose is both full and flawless. You go through a thousand words without even thinking about anything, even turning the pages. Although the world Jordan creates is simple (the maps are very linear), the actual descriptions of each environment are complex and rich with colors, sounds, and smells.

The characters in the Wheel of Time series started a bit archetypal. The main character, a boy named Rand, is in the throes of his teenage years, is attached to his rural home, is shy and afraid and only mediocre with a sword. As he makes his journeys, he grows into a more confident leader, as any main character should, and does anything to protect the girl. A Warder (or warrior), strong, stoic, quiet, and the bad guy: power to rule the Earth.

However, to me, some of the peripheral characters are much more interesting and inspiring. Mat and Perrin, friends of Rand, are complete opposites, one encompassing mischief and sweet naiveté, the other logical and slowly working through an alien universe. The powerful Aes Sedai, Moraine, who has magical powers which are used for evil in ancient lore, but which are constantly used to save our main characters. And, my personal favorite, the strong and stubborn Wisdom (woman tribe healer, you could say), named Nynaeve, who wants to look after her village members, but has never experienced much herself.

All in all, the first in the series (not the prequel which was written later) is successful. I have a good time reading it, I can’t completely guess what is going to happen next, and, as I reach the end, I know I will pick up the second in the series.

If anyone has any books they would like me to read and review, or if I’ve already read something and you want an opinion, let me know! I love talking about books, and since it isn’t part of my job, I do it for fun 🙂 Have a good day readers.

 

UPDATE: After reading ten books in this series, I realize that this review does not even scratch the surface of how amazingly complex these books are. The first couple of books in the series are an innocent account of young people venturing forth into a complicated world. As they become more accustomed to their lives outside of their small village, they realize they all have a destiny much greater than their old lives. Most of them have integral parts to play in the ending of the world, especially Rand, who is fated to die at the hands of the Dark One. (This is not a spoiler- they say it all throughout the books).

There are multiple cultures, with people who have diverse styles, ways of speaking, and customs. There are interwoven threads of dozens of stories, and there is no omnipresent narrator, meaning that the characters are on their own, struggling to find their way through numerous problems. Although I have read some reviews that complain about the romantic relationships in the series, I think they aren’t taking into account the anthropological perspective (of course I say this.). Every culture has a different concept of love and a “normal” relationship with a life partner, and I think this series encompasses the difficulty of living life no matter where you are from. Around the sixth book there are so many plots and subplots, that I think a lot of people stop reading at this point. I would encourage whoever is reading this series to stick it out. Things start to fall into place, and everyone’s place in the story starts to become clear. If you start getting confused about the characters, I would recommend look at the Wheel of Time wiki, which I now know exists.

The only thing that hasn’t changed: Nynaeve is still my favorite character!

Man Booker Prize

I have updated my Book Lists to have some Man Booker Prize lists! Keep an eye on the longlist section because it will be updated as I get more information on the nominees.

Pulitzer Prize Lists

I have added some new pages onto the blog!

You all know I love lists…so my book list page has a bunch of lists about the books I’ve read. If you click on the book review tab you can see some of the books I’m reading and what I’ve written about them (these are usually past posts). Or, if you want some award winning lists I have added some of the Pulitzer prize lists so that you can see what you’ve read! These are also under the book list tab on the menu.

Hope you enjoy 🙂

Israel, Fantasy, Billy Budd, and Native Americans in NC

My total “goal points” still only equal 2 considering that instead of eating healthy food last night, I came to Raleigh to see my bestest friends and drank a shit ton of beer (the added point is for not watching any TV yesterday). Also ate something that was basically “bread with sauce” and can be considered the greatest invention in history. And, no, I will not retroactively add points for things I did last week (although I seriously considered it); I will be good, and honest, and um…I dunno…just not a shithead. Continue reading for more literary thoughts below: 

On a more productive note, I am spending my day reading, mostly because I don’t have a car now that someone has taken it to work…. and because I don’t have any money to go anywhere, anyway. My research at the Office of State Archaeology got pushed forward until tomorrow, so there’s no work for me to do today except read. 

I’ve been trying to brush up on my history of Israel before I visit the country, so the first priority is this:

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Which I have to admit is really wonderful book. It is easy to read, and starts at the beginning of the Zionist movement, meaning it encompasses almost all of Israel’s tumultuous history. My favorite part (of course) is that the book mentions key archaeological sites, and how they relate to the political climate of Israel through the centuries. I am still in the beginning stages of Palestine’s growth, but am steadily moving through the 1920s.

The second book I am reading is about the occupation of Native Americans in North Carolina. It is a famous book in my field of Southeastern Archaeology; mostly because it encompasses a long temporal range and, yet still is able to make the movement of people through North Carolina fascinating and easy to understand. This book is particularly for my thesis, but if anyone is native to North Carolina, it is a great way to start learning about its prehistory, and the archaeology associated with the state.

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So now for the fun stuff. I think I might have mentioned that as an undergraduate, I majored in English before I majored in Anthropology. I always wanted to be a creative writer (don’t judge me on these blogs- these are casual, assholes). I still creatively write, but if I am being honest with myself, what I really do is just…read.

As most English majors know, being snobby about literature is required as part of the curriculum. They beat it into you that only the studied, recognized authors are the ones that matter, and even as a halfway-independently-thinking adult, it is still hard to break the pattern of only reading classics. To be fair, I have always just enjoyed the classics more. Even as a kid, I read classics before the popular stuff. There are a couple of reasons for this. As a kid (and today), I am a morose. I am cynical. The depressing plots are the most interesting, and, dishearteningly, the most philosophically relatable. For example, I am now reading some of Herman Melville’s short stories, the most notable of which is Billy Budd.

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When Herman Melville wrote Billy Budd, he wasn’t just writing about the sailors on the ocean to stick with a theme. He was really writing about isolation, about being misunderstood and misconstrued and, eventually, forgotten. Melville had a good reason to be writing about this stuff, guys. I mean, he was basically booed from the stage for everything he wrote. Yes, even Moby Dick, that wonderful whale tale. He was constantly being criticized for his writing, and I think some of his friends were even getting sick of his brooding, sullen characters.

Who can’t relate to being poor Melville? Haven’t your friends cut you off for being brooding, sullen, and mad about your greatness going unrecognized? Okay, well maybe yours haven’t, but that’s just because you haven’t hit your mid-twenties yet. Don’t worry, it will come.

So, the last book I’m reading is kind of by accident. My friend lives in a house with roommates, and they have kindly furnished his room for him. In this room lives a tiny little bookshelf full of obscure science fiction and fantasy. I have recently been caught up in the genre entitled “Obscure Science Fiction and Fantasy” and was immediately excited about this find.

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Apparently, they have the whole series just sitting there, waiting for me to read it. Which I am certainly doing. The writing is phenomenal. And I don’t mean in a genre-y sort of way. This guy can write. His descriptions are rich and interesting, and I find myself finishing chapters without even thinking once about the time. Science fiction/fantasy is one of those genres that gets a lot of flack from the surrounding literary community, and as I grow older, I am constantly wondering why. Once I finish this series (which I think is like eleven books), I will definitely give a more in-depth review.

If anyone has any books they want to recommend, and I mean ANY! I am always up for something new. Feel free to post any in the comments.

Fritz Paintings, Pride and Prej, and Other Things

We are almost into March, and, so far, I have only kept a couple of my resolutions. I’ve been reading a lot, sticking to a budget (more), cooking more, taking more pictures (as you will see in a second probably) and have actually started my triplicate paintings of the animals. The exercising and the writing have taken a back seat, which is not smart, considering those are the two things I want to accomplish the most. I keep telling myself that once we are financially secure it will be easier to a) stick to a schedule and b) have more energy but if anyone has some Adderall….now would be the time to hook a sister up. No, just kidding (insert hazy winky-face here).

As far as reading goes, I’m on my tenth book for the year (sixty-five more to go!). I’m reading Pride and Prejudice because someone swooned over the movie once and told me the book must be amazing. Seriously, I am not a fan of Austen. If you want some real women writers, look at Woolf or the Bronte sisters. Those bitches were cra-ha-zy! Therefore, their writing is infinitely better than Miss Austen. But since I’m in it, I have to finish. I’m OCD about that kind of thing. As I’ve said before, you can always follow my reading for the year here as well. The other books I’ve read this year are:
1. Tess of D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
2. Richard II by Shakespeare
3. Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott
4. Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande by E.E. Evans-Pritchard
5. America: The Book by Jon Stewart
6. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
7. Daisy Miller by Henry James
8. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff
9. Under the Black Flag by Erik Christian Haugaard

Check ’em out sometime. (Except Under the Black Flag…I found that slightly disappointing and somehow..don’t ask me how…sexist).

And, because you asked (and if you didn’t, what the hell) here are some pictures of things I’ve cooked!

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches with Cornbread

Chicken Parm with Spaghetti

Cajun Sausage and Rice with Cornbread Sprinkled with Brown Sugar

And as final proof of my awesome resolution-keeping, here are the VERY beginning stages of my picture of Fritz:

I promise when it’s done I will show the finished versions…they are going to be awesome: I want to make them pop art and cartoon-like with neon colors and intricate backgrounds. Just wanted to prove I was doing something after work.

And, as if that weren’t enough pictures, here’s a parting one of Wybie taking a cute, little nap. Until next time! Oh, and don’t forget your submissions for SDSF!!!! I’ve only gotten a couple so far. Don’t be shy, submit!