Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tara's ASOIAF Re-Read: AGOT, Prologue - Catelyn II

* PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL RE-READ POSTS WILL INCLUDE SPOILERS FOR ALL PUBLISHED WORKS IN THE SONG OF ICE & FIRE UNIVERSE. *

With the release of The World of Ice & Fire, I realized just how long it had been since I'd re-read the Song of Ice and Fire series...in fact, I'm almost embarrassed to admit how long it's been ;) But [I think] I'm rectifying that now by not only re-reading the series but deciding to write about my, err, "adventures" in doing so, as well!

Due to the series' strong focus on the numbers seven and three, I've decided to block the books out in sets of either 7 or 3 chapters (or as close as I can, anyway). Therefore, this first post focuses on the Prologue and first six chapters of A Game of Thrones...


Yes, I've read these books several times already, and I definitely needed a lengthy break after cramming many of those times into the same year-long period. Perhaps I hoped that waiting a while would also make a positive difference in how I feel about the show, but sadly, that was not to be.

Still, the books have been my one true love from the beginning, and not three chapters into this re-read I remembered why that's the case. Which is funny, because the first time I ever read A Game of Thrones, it took me quite a bit longer to really get into it; in fact, I didn't care for the Prologue at all and found Bran's first chapter insipid. Needless to say, that's no longer the case.

The thing about reading these books over and over again is that there's really so much information, and every time I read, things jump out at me differently than they did any previous time. For example: the dead direwolf with the antler in her throat. If you go in not having watched the show or knowing much at all about the books, this likely seems like a trivial detail. Of course during subsequent readings I took note of the glaring symbolism; this time around, though, I'm also paying more attention to the characters' reactions to that symbolism. Catelyn, for instance, is especially bothered by it, which brings me to another observation...

If there's such a thing as women's intuition, Catelyn possesses it in droves. She worries about Ned going beyond the Wall, though he assures her that the dangers are minimal as the Others disappeared long ago. She knows when to fight against Ned (insisting that he must go to King's Landing) and when to acquiesce (agreeing that he needs to bring Bran along to hopefully become a companion to the princes). I may not be a *huge* Catelyn fan, but you can't deny the woman has an intelligence and grace that is lacking in many characters in this series. If you doubt me, just read her second chapter in A Game of Thrones...and hopefully you'll get a good chuckle out of her comment about "false modesty", just like I did :)

I know that one problem fans have with Catelyn is her treatment of Jon Snow, which I agree looks bad at first glance...but think about it. You marry a person who is supposed to be the epitome of honor, and then he or she is forced to go away for some time. When your spouse returns, so far as you know he or she has had an affair. The fact that Catelyn is so understanding about a "man's needs" makes me cringe a bit, but I suppose it also shows a depth of character that we living in the real, modern world would find hard to comprehend.

But then imagine that this person brings home the son that is a product of said affair, and raises that child in your home, alongside your children. Yes, this is Westeros, yes, things are different, but can you really not look at Catelyn's situation in this light and think, "Maybe she didn't handle it as well as she could have, but she handled it better than she needed to." Or at least something along those lines!

Of course, I don't think it helps that in this same set of chapters we meet Ned and Jon, and not in the best lights, either. Again, neither of these characters is a favorite of mine, and while I understand why others prefer them, it amused me that this time I found Ned sort of morose and boring, and Jon Snow was a bit, well, whiny. Now that I know what eventually happens to both of them - the decisions Ned makes and what befalls him, as well as how much Jon really grows up in the Night's Watch - it's easier to look at these first, somewhat frustrating chapters in a different light.

I feel there's also an interesting parallel between Jon's first POV chapter and those of Bran and Daenerys. Jon is twice Bran's age but only a year older than Daenerys, and while he may have a lot of growing up to do, he doesn't seem to have their innate innocence. Reading that very first chapter of Bran's was especially difficult, knowing what befalls him so soon, as well as all that comes later - including some of the important, and not altogether good, decisions he eventually makes. (I'm speaking of him warging into Hodor, here. Not good. Not good at all. But more on that much, much later.)

Daenerys had certainly seen some hard times, and the fact that she is essentially being sold into a sort of "slavery" is not lost on her or, hopefully, the readers. But her chapter still reads like that of a child, and I think I see that even more this time than any time before. Of course as we know she has to grow up very, very fast - as soon as she marries Khal Drogo, really, though she *does* end up facing far worse things.

I love how I've read these books several times already and yet don't want to put this one down right now. On to the next chapters! Pin It

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Confessions



I confess...after a chilly but SUNNY weekend, this morning's cold rain is a crappy way to start off the week :-/

I confess...I am having a really difficult time understanding people today. Oh, perhaps because they keep sending me half-stories and random nonsensical text messages! (Seriously though it's been happening all morning, several people have done it, and it's starting to drive me crazy.)

I confess...I'm pretty sure my niece CC would love me more if I chewed gum, because she's pretty much ALWAYS asking me for it. Must get on that.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Throwback Thursday: The Unfortunate Side Effects of Bullying

I suppose that it's a combination of my current circle of friends and my side job that has recently led to me having a lot more exposure to articles about bullying - both reading and writing them. (See "Hey, Female Gamers: Don't let #gamergate stop you!" and "How the 'True Fan' Phenomenon is Destroying Geek Culture".)

This week especially, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been inundated with articles such as "17 Things Former Bullied Kids Do a Little Bit Differently as Adults" (though terribly written, a lot of that one does ring true)  and "Whipping Boy" (a bit meandering and somewhat creepy at times, but a decent story with a good conclusion). One thing that I can't ignore about all of this - both the articles that I wrote/participated in and the ones I've read, as well as the people who've shared them in my news feeds - is how many people were bullied when they were younger...and to be completely honest, at times I've found myself cocking my head and thinking, "Really? S/he was bullied? I don't know..."

But that's not fair of me. First, most people out there had to deal with some crappy experience or another when they were young, and God knows bullying has always been far more prevalent than society would like to admit (at least in the past). Second, it's pretty likely that people who have only known me for, say, ten years or less, probably side-eye me when I mention that I was bullied. (Though that's probably because they've never seen pictures of me from middle school.)

Some years ago - not long after I first started this blog - I wrote about my experiences with bullying. It was a largely positive entry; I was in a really good place in my life at that time. I knew who I was, and I was happy with that.

Sadly, it wasn't meant to last, and recently I'm in the opposite of a 'good place'...but in some ways, I think that's actually okay. It's the difficult times that mold us into better people, isn't it? As my beloved Andrea from The Walking Dead (comics!) says, though...
"'The things we've lost...it makes us stronger.
'Not that it makes those things worth enduring.'"
It's not just the things we lose, though, but the things we experience - especially (sadly) the negative things - that make us stronger...so today I wanted to write about the negative side effects of bullying. Because yeah, it can make you a stronger person. It can make you less likely to intentionally hurt others' feelings. It can make you less likely to "take crap" from others.

But that doesn't mean that it's worth enduring. Because it can also leave you scared shitless about opening up and exposing your vulnerable side to people. It can leave you afraid to talk about any personal issues you may have, and if you do talk about them you're far more likely to be defensive if others don't respond the way you want or expect them to. And I don't know about anyone else (though I'm guessing I'm not alone in this), but when I've been subjected to bullying as an adult (mostly online), it's had a much more negative effect on me than I've let on.

When I was younger, the bullying I experienced often made me question the usual things women question - my weight, my looks, and all that those encompass. I may not worry about those things as much these days (really not much at all, in fact), but that doesn't mean that there aren't other lasting side effects. Mainly that I still crave acceptance more than I would like, and unfortunately I can't let go of how much, especially in today's society, acceptance hinges on how you look.

Worse than that, though, is the fact that the bullying I've experienced has made me so wary and cautious when meeting new people and trying to make new friends. Yes, I'm outgoing, friendly, gregarious, even - but letting you into my 'inner circle'? Good luck with that; it can take years at the very least, and likely it won't ever happen at all, even if you prove nothing short of trustworthy the entire time that I know you.

And my absolute biggest regret is how much bullying - especially the truly nasty stuff that has come at the hands of acquaintances, supposed 'friends', and sometimes even family members - has made me question other friendships and relationships. How it has caused me to shut down when I should have opened up. How it has made me ever suspicious, constantly questioning the way people feel about me and their intentions toward me - and I'm not only talking about strangers. I feel this way even about those who, deep down, I *know* care about me. I identify far too much with the adage attributed to House Lannister: "Everyone who isn't us, is the enemy."

That's right - even as a self-sufficient adult who has a lot going for me, thinking about the bullying I've experienced (both as a child/teenager and as a result of a few shitty people who have gone out of their way to hurt me these past several years) is painful, and at times has made me far more bitter than any person needs to be. It has also caused me to have what are probably ridiculously high expectations of others in terms of how they treat me - I don't forgive easily (I rarely do so at all), and I sure as hell never forget. There's that old cliche, "an elephant never forgets" - well, I'm inclined to believe (not just from my own experience, but from things others have told me and things I've read) that a bullied person never forgets, either.

But hey, if you've been bullied and you've learned how to forget - or, for that matter, forgive - my ears and mind are open. I'm trying. I want to try. I need to try. Yes, over time I've learned a lot, and I've healed some, as well...but I'm only human, and there's always work to be done. Pin It

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Confessions



I confess...so much for being on track with NaNo :-/ Ten days in and I'm over 7,000 words behind. ::sigh::

I confess...I think I'm about done with beer festivals. I go, and I try to have fun, but mostly they're just pretty boring and miserable. I love beer but I don't care to guzzle it, and it's rare that these festivals offer much that's all that different or better than beers I've already tasted, anyway.

I confess...I have a headache and I'm just going to blame it on Monday as a whole.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Two Nieces & a Nephew...

Here's the hard truth: I've never been one for kids. I've always leaned toward the idea of not having any of my own, and the older I get, the more the idea of bringing children into this world scares me.

But I certainly don't hate children, and there are three in particular who have brought me a lot of joy - my 8-year-old niece Savannah, 5-year-old nephew Spencer, and 3-year-old niece CC.

So in honor of the fact that my sister Jenni (Savannah and Spencer's mom) recently announced that she was pregnant again, and because just a couple of days ago we found out it was a boy, I thought I'd share some photos from Fall 2011...the first fall when we had all three of these awesome kids in our lives :)


Savannah and I
Spencie (on the right) with his buddy Jordan
Christy with CC...I can't believe how big she's gotten since this picture!

Hard to believe that this time next year I'll be an aunt to FOUR kids! Holidays just keep getting crazier and crazier ;) Pin It

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday Confessions



I confess...for the first time since I began participating in NaNoWriMo (back in 2012), I *actually* got a decent amount of writing done during the first two days...though not as much as I was supposed to. Of course. ;)

I confess...I'm a bit concerned about the ventless gas fireplace in my home, but so far I'm enjoying it - and assuming that they wouldn't have installed it if it wasn't safe...)

I confess...I usually miss out on the after-Halloween sales, but I didn't yesterday and I'm happy about that, because I got some great items that we can use as decorations at Ice & Fire Con!

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Happy [belated] Halloween!

I've always loved Halloween, though to be fair it's a bit less exciting now that I go to so many conventions and get to wear costumes several times a year...but hey, Halloween also means getting to participate in 'regular' activities in costume! (Okay, so I do a lot of that as well...)

But it also means pumpkins...and roast pumpkin seeds! I had quite the time FINDING a pumpkin just a couple of days ago (it being so close to Halloween was probably the issue...that's what I get for being away from home for half the month), and the one I *did* find had a few, err, imperfections...but I did my best and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. Unfortunately...I had no candles. And then I forgot to buy them. Ohhhh well...



Halloween also means getting to go to work in "costume" (at least this year, it being on a work day)...which for me was a Mad Men outfit! (I was in a rush this morning and literally just did my hair, on top of a dress that I wear on a regular basis...thankfully my new glasses - yes, those are my actual glasses - made it work).


This is actually the first time I've been home on Halloween - in my own home, I mean, and able to receive trick-or-treaters - since 2007. Despite having a giant bowl of candy and making sure everyone only took a single piece (yeah I know, I'm mean, but I wanted it to last)...I still ran out in about 30 minutes. Guess I should have bought $20-25 worth of candy instead of like $10. Oops :-/

I will say that the highlight of my night were the two girls - who arrived with totally separate parties/at completely different times - who asked what I was reading. (It was The World of Ice & Fire, of course.) They literally looked at me expectantly for the answer!

I think that the most prevalent costumes were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Captain America, and Spiderman. Like...for every single other costume, there were two of the above. Which to be honest was really, really cool. I don't care what anyone says, we have the Marvel Cinematic Universe to thank for that. Of course I do hope that these children are getting exposed to the comic books as well, but regardless I think it's great that these beloved characters from my childhood are enjoying so much popularity again.

And speaking of beloved characters...last night I did *not* dress up as one of mine, but I had fun with this costume and I was excited to wear it. The dress was made based on a basic Game of Thrones wrap dress, though I went the lazy route and bought the choker and cloak (and the wig, actually) from Spirit Halloween. (Listen, sometimes my time is more precious than my money...and these were pretty cheap, on sale, anyway.)



Needless to say, it was a late night last night, and I'm still recovering this afternoon :) I can't believe another Halloween has come and gone...but I do know that next year I'll probably make sure to be traveling for the holiday as per the usual ;)
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