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.

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The Point System

Even though I’ve just moved, I’ve been kind of down in the dumps. I miss my boyfriend, I miss my dog, I’ve gained weight, and I haven’t really been accomplishing all the things I’ve imagined for myself. I thought the time leading up to this summer would have been productive: I was exercising and eating right (for the most part), I wasn’t drinking excessively (and that cigarette above is not really a cigarette, I swear), I was reading as fast and comprehensively as I could, and I was spending more time with my friends.

Unfortunately, the health setbacks have put me into the all-or-nothing mindset- I can either be healthy or I can be thin. Of course this isn’t true. It’s just a tendency of mine to think this way when I’m anxious. By the way, it was Nutrisystem that fucked me up. Sure I lost 10 lbs in a week and a half, but I paid the damn price. And now it’s all back, pretty much.

Anyway, in an effort to make myself more productive and feel better about my interaction with the world, I am creating my own point system. Productive things I do will give me a point (or more) and unproductive things will set me back. When I reach 50 points, I will reward myself. Books, probably. We all know I’ll go buy books. Bigger accomplishments earn me more points. And these accomplishments aren’t just material productivity. I am considering anything an accomplishment that puts me in a more peaceful state of mind- anything that helps me create balance or gives me more self-confidence. I am tired of obsessing over the flaws in my physical appearance. That shit is tiring! And…wait for it….unproductive.

Boo. Yah.

Taryn’s Productivity Point System

One Point For…
Every Hour of Creative Writing
Every Hour of Exercise
Every Hour of Visual Artwork (Including Photography)
Every Book Completed
Every Day of Only 1 Hour of Television
Every New Recipe Cooked

Five Points For…
Every Finished Short Story + 1 Revision
Every Finished Visual Art Piece
Big School Project Completed
Every Day without a Negative Thought
Every Thing I Build for the House
Cultivating a Garden
Every Month I Go Without Weighing Myself
Every Dinner Party Thrown (notice the key word here- dinner)

Ten Points For…
Every Story Sent in For Contest or Publication
Every Overall A in a Class
Every Craft I sell on Etsy
Every Month I exercise every single day

Lose One Point For…

Every Day I Judge Someone Negatively
Every Day I Judge Myself Negatively

And there you have it folks…my little, personal point system. I realize that doing things like this doesn’t help everyone become productive, that it doesn’t make everyone feel good, but, in a weird way, this type of organization gives me something to strive for. In every other area of my life, I am incredibly messy and unorganized- but I love to give a little order to chaos when I’m feeling down.

If any of my friends want to participate with me, that would also be awesome! Just let me know and I can even take pictures of the things we accomplish and put them on here.

Bucket List for Fools

I used to have a bucket list in its own journal with hundreds, if not thousands, of things on it. Most of these accomplishments were centered around becoming published, adopting lots of animals, making money, and traveling. There were a few wishes here and there which were unconventional, like learning more than four languages or seeing a giraffe in the wild. And there is what I would like to call the “fool’s list” which I decided to put in my post today. I’m not quite sure what was going through my mind at the time I added these to my list, but if my previous adventures are any indication, idiocy..idiocy was what was going through my mind.

1. Do a favor for the mob– I hate to say it, but this one still makes sense to me. If I scratch your back, you’ll scratch mine, right? What could go wrong? Also, I’m Italian, so I would feel guilty if this wasn’t one of my life’s goals.

2. Punch a mascot -Whether my good ol’ college mascot of the Demon Deacon (wtf kind of mascot..) or an actual famous mascot, they always seem as if they deserve a punch. Or kick to the groin. I just want to hurt one.

3. Fast for a week -This one isn’t so crazy, but for someone who likes food as much as I do, it seems a little ridiculous. I definitely want to try this sometime, though. People say you reach a new spiritual level and you feel clean afterwards. I wonder if that’s just something skinny people say.

4. Walk over hot coals -Trained professionals I’ve seen on television can do this. Why can’t I?

5. See Lady Gaga in concert -I guess I really am a masochist.

6. Smoke peyote in a traditional Native American ritual – I put this one on here because it’s awesome, and everyone should know about it in case there are any rituals coming up they want to invite me to.

7. Get a tattoo on my face -I’ve been thinking a pink elephant lately, or maybe a tiny little bee to commemorate my nickname. I probably won’t ever do this, but I do want another tattoo at some point.

8. Write an erotic novel -It’s good to delve into your own sexuality every once in awhile. Just be forewarned, if I ever write an erotic novel, you won’t know it was me. Maybe.

9. Build an apocalypse shelter -I might not live to see the apocalypse. Then again, I could. And I think that’s something you’d want to be prepared for.

10. Become famous, earn millions, guest star on cartoon comedies, and drink expensive champagne every night – Come on, don’t tell me you didn’t have this on your own bucket list.

I would love to hear your own ridiculous bucket list additions. Comment here or send me an email and I will post them on a separate edition.

Indiana Jones and Captain Jack Sparrow

I have been on hiatus for a month, and now I regret it. There are too many things to talk about, and it’s all spinning in my mind like a small, unfocused tornado. The most important news is that my dreams of becoming an archaeologist are on their way to becoming true! I was accepted into the MA program for Anthropology at East Carolina University. Which means, I am officially a pirate. Think Indiana Jones meets Captain Jack Sparrow (minus the facial hair and a few other key components) and you’ve got me!

That’s right, I’m a badass fighter.

Anyway, it’s great news because my dreams seemed to be shrinking on some distant horizon, and I didn’t see any way out of my current situation of aimlessness. But now I have nothing to do but be busy, busy, busy. I have to find a place to live in Chapel Hill in June (when our lease runs out) and then finding a place to live in Greenville, when I go to hit the books. Oh yeah, and they have to be places which will accept three animals. Easy.

As far as New Year’s Resolutions go- I am still not exercising and I am behind on my book list for this month. It’s all well and good though; I am not giving up on any of it. I want to be skinny, and I want to be skinny at graduate school, and I want to be skinny at graduate school while reading one of my 75 books.

I want Jud to look at me and say, “Damn, my woman’s hott.” Because I’m a feminist like that.

Just wrote this post so everyone would know I still plan on keeping this blog. I swear.

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!

Obsession

I think that there is a common thread between all human beings: everyone has that one obsession that is borderline creepy. That one thing they do, either for attention or for the sheer pleasure of it which somehow seems a little wrong or just…..let’s face it: wrong.

I thought, in all fairness to those who read my blog, I would share mine with you today.

Now, I know I am not the only one who has this…problem. There are whole forums devoted to those who share my obsession, and who flaunt it as if it was normal (and as if it fit into their daily schedules of work and family and the gym. Well, hate to tell you, but we all know you’re lying about that). And, I have to admit, once Judson moved in with me and college was over, and I couldn’t procrastinate any more for the life of me, I had to stop. Which is probably why I’m writing about it now: because it’s damn hard to stop and no one ever really wants to, especially when they’ve had a few beers and it’s staring them in face just saying…play me!

Sorry, a tangent.

Anyway my obsession?

The Sims:

That’s right: I took pictures of my sims freaking out. Exactly. I told you it was bad. This is just one from a series of pictures I took while attempting to do a legacy. If you don’t know what a legacy is, just imagine a bunch of nerds (like me) taking pictures of their sims, giving them personalities, and writing stories about them. Look, I told you it was going to be bleak.
The one thing no one ever told me was: hey, this shit is time consuming. Sure, it’s fun to get a little buzzed, sit in front of the computer and play God for oh like eight hours straight, but the next morning you still haven’t finished your paper, your friends think you are dead, and, in the end, you’re just some cracked-out nerd.
Luckily for me, my friends understood. My friend, Sydney, and I used to “media-whore” together; media-whoring was a series of nights during which we listened to music, watched television, played video games, read, put a clear bag to our lips, and finished
homework all at the same time. It took immense concentration, and little bit of hate for our bodies.
College was a hazy time for us needless to say, especially because media-whoring was pretty much solely done after 3 a.m. and in a fit of hysteria to finish work. Anyway, I digress. It didn’t diminish my obsession.
And one finds that as new deadlines and goals spring forth, they think their obsessions are hidden for good. Unfortunately, as I sit down to write or paint or I start running through my neighborhood, I find myself thinking: “Shit. I could be playing Sims right now.”

Schedule

I am starting to paint my new triplicate of the animals! I want it to look a little monster-y with bright, neon colors and their names framed around their portraits. I painted some of Fritz’s yesterday, and will post them up here as I get them done. As a little teaser, I found something online that is done in kind of the style I’m going for:

I also decided my new schedule today. I’m one of those people who doesn’t need a schedule, but when I have one I try to stick to it. Especially since I am going to try to lose weight, I need a strict eating and working out schedule because I am notorious for not eating enough to keep my metabolism going. I’m hoping the schedule will also help me complete some art and writing projects, among other things.

Here’s the schedule (shut up, bitches, I know it’s boring):

  • 6:30 AM- Running
  • 7:00 AM- Breakfast and getting ready for work
  • 9:00 AM- Work
  • 10:00 AM- Snack #1
  • 12:00 PM- Lunch
  • 2:00 PM- Snack #2
  • 3(or5)PM- Come home from work and hang out with the fandamily
  • 6:00- Cook dinner
  • 7:00- Paint or work on another art project
  • 8:00- Write
  • 9:00- Read
  • 10:00- Clean and get ready for the next day of running, arting, writing, reading, sex…I mean, sleeping.

Again, I know it’s a boring-ass schedule. But, there are a couple of writing projects I really want to focus on: the sci-fi series Jud and I are writing for adults, a series for young adults (full disclosure soon), a poetry project I’ve had in my mind for years, and a series of short stories I’ve already finished but which need to be revised. It sounds like a lot of work, and it is! But it’s about time to put in the effort because I’m sick of just sitting here without the recognition, respect, and hookers and blow that I deserve. Wow, don’t worry, I was kidding about the hookers.

And, hopefully, as my artistic confidence rises up and up and hits the ceiling, opportunities will come my way. I know that writing is what I am meant to be doing. I’ve known it since the fourth grade. And, yeah, judge this blog all you want. But I hate to break it to you: it’s a damn blog. I’m writing here like I’m talking to you, not like I want you to put me up for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Oh, and another thing: visiting the ANT department at ECU soon…hope they never read this blog.