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.

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).

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

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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.

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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…

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!

Week of June 23rd

I did put up a points update. This week, though, I’ve been visiting my grandmother in Charlottesville, VA and really didn’t do much except go to fancy dinners with my family and shop around with my mom for Israel stuff. I did a lot of reading in the car trips there and back, but still haven’t finished anything.

Also the boy and I are starting our own YA fiction series; I think we are going for a sci-fi genre. Finding the time to write creatively is going to be a struggle, especially since I am leaving the country for three weeks and he works about 90 hours a week. And once August rolls around, I will be slammed with schoolwork, projects, and just trying to survive. I think balance in life can be hard, and, speaking personally, I have a tough time knowing whether I like being busy or being lazy. When I’m lazy, I crave challenge. And when I’m incredibly busy, I crave an hour surfing the internet, watching television, or reading for fun.

It’s no secret that The Sunny Drug Corporation is sort of a description of my personality. I struggle with being happy on a regular basis, so I create goals to feel as if I am constantly achieving something. My therapist (yeah I’m admitting that) tells me that my goals are unachievable and I need to concentrate on the little goals. I think my points system is helping me do that. Instead of wanting to lose fifty pounds in like three weeks, I’m just working on exercising for an hour.

And sometimes I don’t like to admit my true goals. For example, I’d like to be classier (but with my cursing mouth I don’t know how possible that is). And I’d like to make more money. The last one I definitely don’t like to admit out loud, because it goes against my true beliefs. I don’t think we should rely on money for happiness. I don’t think money should be the ultimate indicator of success. But……being able to pay my bills and get a little something extra now and again would be great.

I’m going to find another way to make money, be classier, and honestly….just be happy.

Wash, then Dry

Points earned lately = +1 for making buttermilk pancakes. And, literally, that’s it. I’ve kind of forgotten that working all day has it’s downside in that I don’t really have time to read or write, and exercising afterwards might make me suicidal. And working on the weekends is the toughest of all because you know everyone else is at the beach, and the irresistible urge to take down your Facebook profile creeps in, like it did that time you were in the hospital for Halloween. 

But, you know, work is work. You get paid for it. And no matter how much I want to frolic with the animals, read about magic, and explore places in the Triangle, I want a washer and dryer more. (I’ve taken to wearing my clothes about eighteen times. The laundromat is a scary, scary place where I live; the university constantly emails police reports about psychopaths hiding behind washers, waiting to mug those who come in alone or with knock-off brand-named products. Trust me, that is a LOT of people in Greenville.)

So, I sit in wait. For the day when I can feel like real people again. For the day my clothes are clean, my house is organized, and the big pile of laundry doesn’t come alive and talk to me in my nightmares.