Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Writer's Block Wednesday: A Hobbit-Themed Questionnaire! (part 3)

Part 3 here, of the Hobbit-Themed Questionnaire that I found on tumblr...and only one more week to go after this :)

(Previous installments: Part 1 - Part 2)

Dori: Tell a funny customer service story.

Honestly? It's been a long time since I worked in customer service...though I will say that if sales counts (as I did have to deal with customers, of course) I had a few doozies back in 2009. For example, people who would get angry with me when I quoted them something and they came back 3 months later and the item was sold or the price was no longer good. Or the time it took me about three business days to make one of our customers understand that no, we could not ship their order via FedEx, as it was coming from our German warehouse and FedEx (for some reason) doesn't ship within German borders (i.e. from one German address to another).  And then there was a person from whom I had to request *four* copies of a PO before they had everything correct on it.

So yeah, none of those are really "funny" per se. And they're more "dealing with customer" stories than "customer service" stories. Ah well :)

Nori: Are you the center of attention in your circles, or do you rarely speak?

Um...I don't *need* to be the center of attention, or even necessarily *want* to be...but I'm definitely not the type to "rarely speak" ;)

(Though I have to admit, I also like being on stage - singing, I mean - so I guess that's basically being the center of attention?)

Ori: When was the last time you felt completely unprepared for something?

Oh gosh...this past Friday night! I auditioned with a new band last week and they invited me to come sing live with them on Friday...three of the songs I was singing I've not sung live in many many many years, and though I had lyrics I had no music stand so it's not like I could even see said lyrics :-/ I still had fun though :) Not sure if it will work out because it's a house band that plays every Friday and Saturday, and I *do* travel a lot, but hey, we'll see! If it's meant to be it's meant to be, and all that.

Oin: Have you ever had a dream about the future that came true?

I...don't really know? I've definitely had deja vu! Weirdly enough, waaay back in like...2007...a time when Steve and I weren't even in any sort of communication with each other, and hadn't been for nearly two years...I had a dream that I was camping with him, my ex-high-school-boyfriend/friend *E*, and several other guys from our high the dream, *E* had to leave the camping trip, but he was supposed to come back and never did.

I think there were several other parts to it, but those are the most important bits and pieces, because in 2009 I went on a camping trip. With Steve. And *E*. And several other guys from our high school. *E* had to leave to go to work for a couple of days or something; he was supposed to come back, but made his excuses and never did. There were some differences in the dream and what actually happened, of course (shoot, many of the details I don't even really remember)...but this is the closest I've come to "having a dream about the future that came true".

Actual camping trip with Steve and *E*, July 2009

Gloin: Have you ever held a grudge on someone else's behalf - i.e., you weren't the one who was wronged, but a family member, friend, etc?

Ohhh definitely. Mostly with my sisters, but with some other very close friends as well. What can I say, I hate seeing the people I love get hurt - especially when those who hurt them won't just leave them be, even after the damage is done.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Confessions

I confess...that yeah, it irks me when I to go the DMV and despite being unfailingly polite, the people who work there still act like I'm some sort of bug that they want to squash...but can't.

I confess...that I used to be really into NASCAR, and although I definitely still think that it's fun to *go* to races, I no longer remember why I actually used to care about it so much.

I confess...that Steve and I whined about how NOTHING HAPPENED on Walking Dead last night for far too long after the episode was over ;)

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday Funday: North Carolina/Zombie (?) Style

I'm an annual passholder for the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina...and I had some free passes that needed to be used by the end of Steve and I took a random day trip today :)

(I have to be honest, I *really* wanted to bring my Cersei gown and take some pictures, but unfortunately my wig was in such a dire state that there was no reason to even bother trying. In the end I was glad that I didn't bring it, because it was *crowded* there today.)

We didn't make reservations to get into the house early enough, so instead we spent our first hour and a half or so wandering the shops and eating lunch at the Stable Cafe (never a disappointment!). I tried a glass of the Biltmore wine with my lunch as well, but I have to be honest...their wines are kind of awful. No matter how many I try, I'm never impressed. Sad, because I'd really like to be able to promote a local-ish winery the way I promote local (and local-ish) breweries...but in this case, it's just a no-go.

After that I practiced with my DSLR in the gardens/conservatory. I hadn't had time to even touch the thing since our trip to New Orleans at the beginning of November last year, so to say I'm rusty is probably still giving me too much credit ;)

After my little "photo tour" of the conservatory, we made our way to the winery for the free tasting...buuut there was a line, and we could tell it was at least a 20 minute wait. Not being super fond of the Biltmore wines anyway, we decided to head down to Cedric's Tavern for a drink before coming back to Greenville.

However, even that one drink turned into a bit of a hassle :-/ Steve ordered an old fashioned, and with as much as we travel we have never paid that much for an old fashioned. Not in New Orleans. Not in Vegas. Not in Charleston. Not at ski resorts in Idaho and Montana. Nowhere. Seriously, it was over $20! I had a beer that was $5.50. At lunch my glass of wine was $8. The menu listed the most expensive liquor as $17 (for a shot, I'm guessing), but that was Scotch and an old fashioned contains bourbon. Needless to say, after paying that bill we were none too happy and ready to get out of there.

It's all good though, because there's a new Walking Dead episode tonight, and you [should] know what that means...

(Hey, it *is* Sunday Funday, after all!) Pin It

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ice & Fire Con is sold out, you say? ;)

I feel like it's been forever since I posted anything about Ice & Fire Con...but it hasn't even been a month!

(And to be honest, I was even promoting it when I went on my ski vacation in Montana a couple of weeks ago!)

I know, I know, the majority of the people who read this blog (if there are any of you out there at all who read it on a regular basis, that is) probably don't give a hoot about Ice & Fire Con. But what can I say, it's taken over my life these past five months, and that's not showing any signs of letting up ;)

Shortly after my last update, we actually sold out of all Stag tickets - and very soon after that, we booked all of the Ravenwood accommodations! We are still offering our Saturday tickets for $30 each, as well as partial weekend tickets (which grant access on Friday 4 PM to 10 PM and on Saturday 10 AM to 10 PM - which are the same hours for the day tickets) for $45.

However, at the moment there is a [probably fleeting] opportunity to get a full-weekend package, as, sadly, one of my roommates is no longer able to make it :(
The total cost is $215 and includes the following:

- Full weekend admission to Ice & Fire Con  
(first unofficial event begins at 11:30 AM on Friday April 26th; registration starts at 3 PM that day - and the convention runs until 1 PM on Sunday April 28th)
- Accommodations for Friday & Saturday night in my cottage
 (you will have roommates - myself and my friends - but you won't have to sleep on the floor, we have plenty of beds!)
- Breakfast on Saturday & Sunday mornings
- Friday night pub dinner
- Saturday night feast

The ticket amount ($100) would need to be paid immediately, but the remaining amount isn't due until April 5th :) And I can also offer Thursday night accommodations in my cottage (as I'll be arriving around 8 or 9 PM Thursday night) for an additional $35, so just $250 total.

Of course this spot is first come, first serve, so please contact me ASAP at ageeksaga (at) gmail (dot) com (or if you're friends with me on Facebook, feel free to message me on there) if you're interested! Everything will be done through the convention (all exchange of monies etc.) so it's all legit and whatnot, obviously :)
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Writer's Block Wednesday: A Hobbit-themed Questionnaire! (part 2)

As I mentioned when I posted part 1 of this Hobbit-themed questionnaire last week, it originated on tumblr...but I preferred to post my answers here :) So - on to the next five questions!

Dwalin: Tell about a tattoo you have, or one you would get (if you're squeamish, pretend it's henna).

Well...I have several tattoos...but I know I'm not done getting them ;) I really *really* want my next one to be the words "Clever Girl" in the Jurassic Park font, sort of like this:

Of course it would likely just be black letters with a white line, rather than white and red, and JUST the words, not the whole picture ;) Somewhere on my back because I *really* want to fill my back with tattoos. Yes, completely, but that's another story for another time, I suppose.

Balin: Has anyone ever saved your life, or have you ever saved someone else's?

No one has ever physically saved my life, but I suppose you could say that I've saved someone else's. Back in August 2008 my sister and I got stuck in a riptide at Myrtle Beach. It was freaking scary. We swam along the beach line like you're supposed to for so long that even I was getting tired - and I was in extremely good physical shape. My sister, on the other hand...not so much.

Thankfully we are both pretty strong swimmers, having had lessons for years when we were little and having grown up with pools in our backyard...but it still wasn't quite enough. I had to hold on to her and eventually drag her to shore. I still don't feel comfortable swimming in the Atlantic (and probably wouldn't in the Pacific either - the Caribbean is a different story).

Bifur: Tell a story about a scar or other injury (the funnier the better).

Truth be told, I have plenty of scars, but no funny stories. I'm a pretty big clutz, but most of my scars/injuries have been pretty commonplace. Which is a good thing, except for the fact that it gives me no amusing way to answer this question ;) I will say that, having worked in the restaurant industry for many years, I have more than a few burn scars on my hands/arms. And my hands are still calloused enough to touch hot things without it even bothering me. Which probably isn't a "good" thing, per se ;)

Bofur: What was the last random act of kindness you witnessed/engaged in?

I honestly have no idea. I certainly can't recall witnessing any acts of kindness at all, let alone random ones. (How would I know if they were random, anyway?) As for engaging in one...well, I'm sure I've performed acts of kindness, but again I'm not sure I could call them random :-/ I hate to be the jaded cynical type, but I am the jaded cynical type, and especially lately I'm finding it hard to believe that completely random acts of kindness actually occur at all.

Bombur: Name one thing you're really good at cooking/baking, or would like to be.

I'm not much of a baker. It's not that I *can't* do it - it's just that I'm not a big fan. Most actual baking recipes - the ones where you're baking from scratch, I mean - are just too finicky. But I'm pretty darn good at cooking, if I may say so myself ;) As for one particular thing...can I just say chicken? I only ask that because I cook it a lot in a ton of different ways and Steve is always commenting on how my chicken is never dry or undercooked or's always "perfect". But then he's my husband, so maybe he has to say that?
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Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday Confessions

I confess...that I need a weekend from my weekend. (Seriously though, this past weekend was NOT enough time to recover from Montana. At all.)

I confess...that because I work in finance, working on bank/post office holidays makes for very slow and boring days at the office. Sigh.

I confess...that I want to actually post about my travel woes from my recent Montana trip, but I think that the best way to do it is going to be via video blog. Keep an eye out for that; I'm hoping to get it recorded within the next week.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Tara's Hardcore Walking Dead Drinking Game...with Super-Hardcore Additions!

Okay, I know that there are probably tons of Walking Dead drinking games out there...but I'm a viewer who joined this game a bit late, so they say, and so came up with my own version. From scratch, mind you, though I'm certain that if there are Walking Dead drinking games out there, they include some of these - or at least variations of some of them.

Now, when I started forming this drinking game, it was based on drinking beer...which meant that I was taking hearty swigs, and not of Miller Lite or Bud Light or Coors Light or anything else cheap and watery. So when I say "take a drink every time..." you should *probably* choose the type of drink you take (sip, swig, shot, whatever) based on *what* you're drinking...and on how well you handle your alcohol ;) I am not responsible for how you feel at the end of this game, should you choose to play it...capisce?

Also, assume that there are spoilers for all aired episodes throughout this post.

So without further ado...
(and just in time for the weekend, heh)

Drink every time...

~ Rick does something ridiculously noble/heroic (note: it has to be BOTH ridiculous and noble/heroic, not that those two things are mutually exclusive at all when Rick is involved) ~

~ Shane creeps on Rick, Lori, or Carl ~

~ They encounter a horde of zombies ~

~ Daryl does something [surprisingly?] awesome ~

~ Carl wanders off/they lose track of him ~

~ Lori makes THAT FACE. Don't play with me, you know what face I'm talking about ~

~ A character we've met as a human turns into a zombie and we actually see it happen and/or see that character as a zombie ~

~ They call T-Dog 'T-Dog'. And if his real name is actually used, finish your drink! (Seriously though, why can't they use the guy's real name???) ~

~ You find out that someone is keeping a zombie or zombies around as a pet, for experiments, whatever ~

~ The main group has to change locations because ZOMBIES! (or because the CDC blows up. or because it's not safe. or just because whatever reason Rick and/or Shane has given them) ~

~ Andrea tries to be badass and fails (i.e. "the Dale incident") ~

~ Michonne side-eye glares at someone or something. Just like with "the Lori look", you should know what I mean, here... ~

(note: this particular situation also counts for the zombie pets, so technically you'd have to drink two!)

~ People in the group have a pointless serious talk (that inevitably leads nowhere) ~ 

~ A woman is shown cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, or any other task that apparently only women can do in the post-apocalyptic world ~

Now if you're really brave...try these Super Hardcore Additions on for size ;) and drink every time...

~ Rick or Lori says (or rather, drawls) Carl's name. because come ON ~

~ Someone smashes a zombie's head in/shoots a zombie in the head/chops a zombie's head off/etc. etc. etc. - and yes, I mean every. single. time. That's what makes this a super hardcore addition, folks ~

~ Someone calls/refers to a zombie or zombies as the following:
Season 1: Geek/Geeks
Season 2: Walker/Walkers
Season 3: Biter/Biters ~

~ And shoot, since we're going for the "faces that the same characters make over and over and over again" theme, for good measure, drink every time Dale does his weird bug-eyed thing ~

~ In fact, you might as well drink every time that you predict that a character will die and they do. Or don't. Just drink, okay? ~

And you know, drink responsibly, and all that stuff. You wouldn't want to be dead to the world (heh, see what I did there?) when the zombies come a-wanderin', -bitin', -roamin', or whatever else they do.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Writer's Block Wednesday: A Hobbit-themed Questionnaire! (part 1)

I found this little meme/questionnaire on tumblr, and I thought it was interesting enough to take up a few of my "Writer's Block Wednesdays" :) ...especially considering the theme of my blog and my love of all things Tolkien! So, without further ado...

Bilbo: What was the last unexpected adventure you had, and did you enjoy it?

Well...I guess it depends on the extent something must go to in order to be considered an unexpected adventure? I guess I'll assume that the best answer is the totally random trip that I took to Atlantic Beach, NC last summer. The guitarist from the band that I was in - Tad - came over to my house so that we could burn a DVD of one of our shows...several shots of Fireball Whiskey and many many Jager bombs later, somehow we had decided that it would be a good idea to leave the next afternoon and meet the bassist from Juno for a two-night beach trip. Shoot, the next afternoon I kept hoping that Tad would text or call me the next day and say that he didn't want to go...but he didn't, so go we did ;)

Don't get me wrong, it was an amazing time - and as I'm the type of person who usually plans vacations out months (or even YEARS) in advance, it was cool to just get up and go for once :) It was the only time I went to the beach simply to go to the beach, all summer.

Thorin: Have you ever been motivated by revenge, or had someone take revenge on you?

Ohhh I've thought about the whole revenge thing, but I've never gone so far as to bother trying it. I suppose maybe people have tried to take it on me? Enough people have attempted to screw me over, anyway. But I guess at this point I can at least safely say (::knock on wood::) that if they've tried it, it probably hasn't succeeded to the extent that they'd hoped.

Gandalf: What kind of advice to people usually ask you for?

It's probably a tie between travel and relationship advice :) The former not just because I travel a lot, but also because I used to be a travel agent...the latter, well...let's just say that I'm the type of person who will tell you the truth and nothing but the truth in regards to relationships...even if it's something you may not want to hear.

Fili: Do people ever confuse you with anyone else?

Well...assuming that it doesn't count when my mom calls out either or both of my sisters' names when she's trying to catch my

Kili: What was the last thing you were "too young" (or "too old") to do?

The last thing I was considered "too young" for - not by everyone, but by some people - was being a manager at Disney World. I personally didn't think I was too young - I was certainly mature enough and driven enough to do the job and do it well - but some of my co-workers definitely didn't feel the same way about me. They assumed that because I was only 23 (and I'd literally *just* turned 23), I couldn't handle the job, or that I would allow...I don't know, some sort of "party hardy" lifestyle that they *assumed* that I get in the way of me doing my job properly/well. Needless to say, I showed them ;)

As for being too old...well...let's just say that I was skiing at Big Sky Montana this past weekend, and while I'm not too old for skiing at all, I'm definitely too old for the long days and daring runs that I used to pull back in high school!

Like that peak. Steve skied it...I physically could not. Sad.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday Confessions

I confess...that I'm glad I gave myself a bit of a break from the internet/social media this weekend...but at the same time, I should have just not allowed myself to use it at all - for at least a couple of days ;)

I confess...that I'm really tired of the number of Living Social/Groupon/Flash sale website emails that I receive. Some of them I didn't even sign up for myself; I can only guess that my email was automatically added because I was already receiving offers from a similar entity (i.e. I receive Groupon local deals, Groupon "local" travel deals, and Groupon deals on physical items? I did *not* sign up for the latter two).

I confess...that this last one isn't even a confession. I just want to say that we finally got one of those running water drinking things for our pets and I *love* it. Three of the four cats won't even use it but it still helps a LOT with how often we have to fill up water bowls :)

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Book Review: No Plot? No Problem by Chris Baty

Having participated in NaNoWriMo and really enjoyed it, when I stumbled across No Plot? No Problem! I was definitely intrigued. I'm usually not big on reading "writing guides", but NaNo opened so many doors for me that I figured I had to give this one a try :)


One of the major complaints in the Amazon reviews for this book is that it's less of a writing guide and more of a pep talk, with all too much push push push about participating in NaNoWriMo. To an extent, I have to agree with these reviews...but at the same time I get the feeling that these people picked up No Plot? No Problem! without having any idea who Chris Baty is or what NaNoWriMo is. I think that if you go into this guide knowing that it's about NaNo, the constant mentions of it and the peppiness won't be so bothersome ;)

Honestly, this 50,000-ish word pep talk by Baty definitely made me more anxious to pick my NaNo novel back up and finish/edit it...and some of the advice given in No Plot really is decent advice, especially if you're reading it before participating in NaNoWriMo or simply setting off on your own 30-day writing spree some other month of the year. Sometimes it's not a bad idea to lock up your inner editor, to get out of the house to write, to force yourself to disconnect from the internet so that you're not distracted, and above all, to give yourself a deadline.

That said...I still have to disagree with some of the advice given in No Plot, even as it pertains to writing a novel in 30 days. Locking up your inner editor is one thing; quoting songs or writing absolute nonsense just to meet word count goals is quite another. I give it 2 stars as a writing guide and 4 stars as a motivational book, which of course averages out to a flat 3/5 stars...with the added caveat that it's best to utilize it only if you plan on writing a novel in 30 days/participating in NaNoWriMo.
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Writer's Block Wednesday: Why I Love Sansa Stark


If you haven't read all five of the published ASOIAF novels, don't read any further. Unless you want to/don't mind being spoiled, that is ::shrug:: 

I feel the need to start this entry by mentioning that I've read some absolutely amazing meta about Sansa Stark, and I've come across some awesome people (on the internet, at least) who love her as much or more than I do. I know that no matter what I say - no matter of what any of us Sansa lovers say - people are still going to not understand her, dislike her, or outright hate her. But there's a huge difference between finding her chapters boring and thinking she's a complete idiot who caused every bad thing that happened ever in the series ;)

In fact, I didn't like Sansa at all when I first started reading Game of Thrones. I've come so far, of course, that I can't even really remember or place why I felt that way...but I have to admit it. I did. My first and best guess is that I didn't care for Sansa thanks to Arya's harsh view(s) of her - because when I was Arya's and Sansa's ages, I was the tomboy who didn't seem to fit in.

The weird (?) thing, though, is that the more Sansa hate that I saw circulating on and tumblr, the more curious I became about her. So then I re-read most of the scenes in which she was involved. And again and again I stumbled across all of that aforementioned amazing meta. I doubt it took me more than a couple of weeks to go from disliking her to being completely enamored with her.

And this is why:

The first arguments that usually come up about Sansa are how badly she treats Arya, how she lies about what happened with Joffrey on the Kingsroad, and/or how she's "weak and girly" whereas Arya is "strong and resourceful".

Now, if you've ever had a sibling - and most especially, if you're a girl who has a sister or sisters - you likely know how awful siblings and sisters can be to each other. To be completely honest, the interactions that we see between Sansa and Arya throughout the first novel are friendly and polite compared to the way my sisters and I often treated each other. Seriously - I locked my middle sister out of our garage one time because she was pestering me, and she banged on the window so hard, screaming for me to let her in, that said window shattered and a piece of glass almost sliced open my jugular. Another time, she was saying awful things about me while riding in the back seat of my car while we were in high school, so I turned around and punched her in the face, breaking her glasses. This same sister and I used to tell our youngest sister that she was adopted and no one loved her. And years later we were on vacation and the two of them got in a verbal fight that turned physical. We still don't know which one of them drew first blood.

Yet I loved my sisters then, and I still love them now. We laugh about these awful things that happened - though it probably helps that, admittedly, they were few and far between. Still, they happened, and so did many other arguments in which we called each other various versions of fat, lazy, untalented, stupid, etc. etc. etc.

Now, does it really really suck that Sansa lied to Robert about what happened between Joffrey and Arya? Absolutely. Does it make her look bad? Of course it does. But put yourself in her shoes (as best you can, considering). Sansa was eleven years old. Can you look back to that age - or even that age and the several years surrounding it - and swear that you never chose the side of your friends or significant other over that of a sibling, if indeed you were ever put in a situation like that? I doubt it.

And if you really try to see this from Sansa's point of view - Joffrey isn't just her friend, he's her betrothed. She is supposed to spend the rest of her life with him. And Robert isn't just her future good father - he's the freaking king of the seven kingdoms, and he's sitting there asking her who is telling the truth - his son, the crown prince, her future husband - or her little sister, who, while in her rights to defend Mycah against Joffrey, still should have thought twice before doing so. If you can honestly say that you would have told the truth in this situation, had you literally or even figuratively been in Sansa's shoes, more power to you, because I'm one of the most honest and up front people I know and I'm not even certain *I* would or could have taken Arya's side in this case.

As to Sansa being "weak" and Arya being "strong" - I'll keep this short and simple. If Arya had remained in King's Landing after Ned's death, would she have survived like Sansa did? NO. Of course, if Sansa had been in Arya's situation, she wouldn't have survived either. They both have their own, very different, strengths, and they have both utilized those strengths to the best of their abilities - well enough so that they are alive when half of the rest of their family is not.

Of course, no matter how much I say about Sansa and Arya and how they are simply two different people and that they actually didn't treat each other all that badly as sisters go, I understand that everyone is entitled to prefer one over the other. The thing is, while I prefer Sansa, I don't hate Arya - because you don't have to hate one of them in order to be a fan of the other. Just sayin'.

Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there in regards to Sansa's "sibling" rivalries - "sibling" in quotes because next up on the list of reasons Sansa sucks is often Jon Snow. This, I really really don't understand.

Picture it: Sansa was raised in a family with four siblings who were all her full brothers and sisters. On the sidelines is a half-brother who, so far as she knew/knows, is proof of that one time her honorable father really fucked up (pun intended). She adored her mother - no, scratch that, she practically worshiped her. Catelyn was, in Sansa's eyes, everything a Lady and a mother should be. And Catelyn clearly, clearly, despises her husband's bastard son. (And not for no good reason, either, but that's an entirely different story and argument.)

Yet Sansa was also raised to be kind, graceful, dutiful, and above all courteous. She and Jon have basically no interaction in the books (or the show, for that matter). Which is why I just don't get how people use this as an excuse to dislike her. At one point or another the reader sees several of the Starks refer to Jon as a bastard, yet when Sansa thinks of him like this it somehow proves that she must have been awful to him? When coupled with her thoughts of Jon - musing, for example, over how sweet it would be to see him once again - and Jon's thoughts of her - are always either neutral or, more often, positive - to think that they had a terrible relationship makes even less sense. Though he makes it clear that she was perhaps a bit cooler to him than the other Stark children were, he never seems to feel any sort of hatred or even dislike for her. When offered Winterfell after Robb's death, he plainly says that it rightfully belongs to Sansa, and it didn't seem to me as if he said that with animosity.

Essentially what we have here is a "brother" and "sister" who, upon first impression, have no reason to care for each other - but they do, in their own ways. Maybe not as Arya and Jon care for each other, but again, there is simply no evidence that Sansa mistreated Jon or that Jon even felt that she mistreated him. And if Jon doesn't have a problem with her, well...hopefully by now you're picking up what I'm putting down.

But then I know that there's always a next argument in the case of ASOIAF fans vs. Sansa Stark, and I know that the next step is usually, "Well, Sansa is an idiot for falling for Joffrey."

Oh really, is she now? Let me see a show of hands - how many of you have fallen for someone who presented him or herself as being basically perfect (attractive, whatever the modern version of chivalrous is, rich, powerful, etc. etc. etc.)...and then turned out to be a total jerk and/or nutcase? Because I haven't even dated that many people, and I've still ended up with a few doozies.

Yet again I must reiterate that when Sansa met Joffrey, she was eleven. There are very, very few (if any) eleven-year-olds out there who would have been able to see through/beyond Joffrey's pretty, shiny varnish to the monster within. And keep in mind how Sansa was raised, which was to believe that the best thing that could happen to her was to marry the son of a lord - specifically the eldest son of a lord - and be Lady of his keep and mother of his children. And then she is told that she will have all of that...and more. She will be Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, and not only that - the crown prince is at first glance attractive, at first meeting polite and doting. I know people two and three times Sansa's age who've fallen for total assholes, and obviously these modern day assholes couldn't offer their significant others a frakking kingdom, for God's sake.

And isn't it interesting that just like in real life relationships, once Joffrey shows Sansa his true colors by breaking his promise to her and having her father killed, she quickly realizes how mistaken she's been, she immediately stops thinking that he is physically attractive, and she even considers killing him at the expense of her own life!

Unfortunately, it seems easy for readers to ignore all that in favor of the misplaced accusation that Sansa - either mostly or all on her own - caused Ned's death, anyway.

Now, this makes about as much sense as saying that Catelyn's capture of Tyrion was the only cause of, well, any and everything people say it's the cause of - Ned's death being one of them, but the biggest one being the entire War of the Five Kings.

So I hate to break it to you, but it seems to be a pretty major theme in GRRM's writings that no one character or action caused any major event.

Did Sansa make a mistake, going to Cersei and telling her that Ned was planning on whisking her and Arya back to Winterfell? Well, duh. But since when are eleven-year-olds not allowed to make mistakes? When I was eleven I wore elastic waist band pants and glasses half as large as my face, and when my dad mentioned that we may have to move from Connecticut to Chicago so he could take a better job, I bawled my eyes out to every single one of my close friends. And that is all that Sansa was doing - she was enjoying herself in King's Landing, Ned told her they had to leave but didn't really give her any sort of reason to make her understand or believe that this was likely a life or death situation, and she saw Cersei as a beautiful and composed queen who could possibly convince Ned to stay.

And then when they finally told Sansa that her father had been plotting treason, she stood up for him. She insisted that he would never do such a thing - especially not knowingly - and at eleven years old she knelt in front of the entire court and begged for her father's life. Despite the fact that doing so could have caused her to be labeled a traitor, imprisoned, tortured, and/or killed. And not only does she do it, but she does it with a meekness and courtesy that is beyond admirable. (A meekness and courtesy that Arya never could have captured, by the way, and Arya being the one to do this would have caused entirely different problems.)

We all know what happens next - Sansa is promised that they will spare Ned's life, but they - or, more specifically, Joffrey - don't.

From that time on, Sansa is nothing more or less than a prisoner. She is verbally and emotionally abused, beaten, and sexually assaulted - and yet she remains sane. Not only does she remain sane, but she is perceptive and she learns from what she has experienced and does experience...yet at the same time she doesn't change or devolve from the true lady that she is.

She saves Ser Dontos. She is sisterly to Tommen and Myrcella. She puts up with Sandor - more than puts up with him, she shows him courtesy and kindness and compassion time and time again. She even prays for him. When Cersei abandons the women she invited to Maegor's during the Battle of the Blackwater, Sansa reassures them.

Even later, when the Battle is over and the Lannisters have won and Sansa is replaced by Margaery as Joffrey's betrothed - at the risk of her own skin, Sansa warns the Tyrells (well, Lady Olenna and Margaery, at least) about Joffrey's nastiness. And when they offer to wed her to Willas - a crippled man who is something like twice her age and who she's never met - she sees the positives in and the good that can come from the match. Even when Dontos tells her that the Tyrells only want her for her claim, she thinks that she can still be happy, that Willas can - will - still grow to love her. This isn't Sansa idealizing a bad situation - this is Sansa believing in the inherent good in people, though not to the disastrous extent that her father did because unlike him, she learns from her mistakes.

Sadly - yes, I mean that, I'm going there, sadly - the Lannisters catch wind of the Tyrell plan to whisk Sansa away and marry her to Willas.

And so they force her to marry Tyrion.

And I'm really, really tired of hearing people say that Sansa is shallow for finding Tyrion physically repulsive. I'm tired of hearing people say things like "hopefully she'll experience character growth and someday see how awesome he is", "her revulsion to Tyrion is based solely on his physical traits", "Sansa supposedly covets honor and chivalry and it's ironic that she's blind to the fact that Tyrion possesses these traits in spades"...and on and on and on and on it goes.

I'm sorry, but it is not shallow to not want to marry a man whose family is responsible for killing half of hers. Sure, Tyrion seems nice enough to [some of] us ASOIAF readers (myself not included, but again, another story for another time)...but Sansa doesn't get to see into his head as we do, and again, she's experienced some tough lessons and actually learned from them. She has absolutely no reason to trust him.

Yet Sansa consistently notes that Tyrion is kind to her. She is courteous to him almost all of the time, yet she refuses to be dishonest, to outright lie to him and act as if she will ever be attracted to him. Let me reiterate - of course she's put off by his physical appearance...she's twelve when she is forced to marry him. If I was forced into a marriage with someone who I found physically repulsive, I wouldn't be too happy about it either, no matter my age - and I doubt anyone else would claim the opposite.

Add to that the fact that Tyrion is above all else a Lannister - and it's the Lannisters who are at war with her family, the Lannisters who killed her father, the Lannisters who have allowed or even ordered her to be beaten, the Lannisters who have verbally and mentally abused her.

Still, Sansa doesn't have much of a choice, and she also completely realizes that Tyrion is the better option - over Lancel, that is, who is the only other option they give her. Lancel who may be "more comely" than Tyrion, Lancel who is much closer to her age, but Lancel who was also cruel to her during Clash of Kings. Therefore, forced with such a "choice", Sansa picks the lesser of two evils. Several times throughout the wedding chapter she reminds herself that Tyrion "isn't as bad as the rest of them" - that he saved her the day Ser Boros stripped her naked at court, for instance.

And when she refuses to kneel so that Tyrion can place the Lannister cloak over her shoulders? This is often labeled a "poor Tyrion" moment, when really we should be fist-pumping over Sansa's courage and strength. She may have to play this game and allow herself to be married off to Tyrion Lannister, but she doesn't have to consent to it. And even though she has every right to commit this one small act of defiance that is allowed her, Sansa still feels terrible when she realizes how embarrassing it was for Tyrion - because she's just that good of a person.

Of course, once she's officially married...she has to have sex with him. Or at least that is what Sansa knows is supposed to happen - and the fact that it doesn't does not make Tyrion some sort of hero. It simply makes him not a rapist. Which I guess is better than nothing by Westerosi standards, but I'm beyond tired of people acting like TWELVE/LITERALLY JUST TURNED OR TURNING THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD SANSA *owes* Tyrion TEH SEX. Um...why? If someone can give me a logical, well-researched answer that doesn't involve comments like "Tyrion was nice to her", "she's his wife now so it's her duty", "well in medieval times girls got married and had sex that young" (no they didn't by the way - not that young)...well, I'll consider said answer that doesn't use any of these excuses.

Yes, I know this is Westeros, not 21st century planet Earth, blah blah blah. But some basic tenants of humanity are just universal - i.e. you shouldn't go around forcing people who don't want to have sex with you to have sex with you. Especially if they're essentially children. Readers hate Ramsay Bolton for raping. They hate Gregor Clegane for raping. They hate to read about any person or people from any army in Westeros raping. They hate when the Dothraki conquer cities and rape the women from those cities. Well, guess what? Sansa doesn't want to have sex with Tyrion any more than any of those women wanted to have sex with Ramsay or Gregor or some random Westerosi knight or some random Dothraki man. Maybe the full-on violence of it isn't quite there in regards to Sansa and Tyrion, but mark my words: it's still the same principal.

Before I step off my soap box, one quick note: I don't dislike/hate Tyrion any more than I dislike/hate, for instance, Arya or Ned. I'm just tired of any of them (along with all others mentioned in this post) being used as good reasons for hating Sansa. Capisce?

I can't believe I'm finally nearing the end of this, but before I go, one last quick argument against Sansa that I'm hoping to debunk. That being "Sansa is stupid because she trusts Littlefinger"/"Sansa trusts Littlefinger and is therefore stupid."

Um...have we read the same books? Case and point:

*** “He saved Alayne, his daughter, a voice within her whispered. But she was Sansa too … and sometimes it seemed to her that the Lord Protector was two people as well. He was Petyr, her protector, warm and funny and gentle … but he was also Littlefinger, the lord she’d known at King’s Landing, smiling slyly and stroking his beard as he whispered in Queen Cersei’s ear. And Littlefinger was no friend of hers. When Joff had her beaten, the Imp defended her, not Littlefinger. When the mob sought to rape her, the Hound carried her to safety, not Littlefinger. When the Lannisters wed her to Tyrion against her will, Ser Garlan the Gallant gave her comfort, not Littlefinger. Littlefinger never lifted so much as his little finger for her.” (Sansa, A Feast for Crows) ***

During her time with Littlefinger, Sansa cares for her cousin, who, let's not lie, is nothing more than another weight for her to bare. And yet she barely even complains about it.

She learns to run an entire household all by herself - at thirteen/fourteen.

She is humbled by the fact that she is now just Littlefinger's bastard daughter - another lesson learned, and one that will make her an even better person.

As the above quote proves, she does not trust Littlefinger. She knows better than that. She is continuing to do what she must to survive, as she dreams of one day returning home. To the North. To Winterfell. Because Sansa is a true Stark. If nothing else I've said convinces you of that, this passage surely should:

*** "The snow fell and the castle rose. Two walls ankle-high, the inner taller than the outer. Towers and turrets, keeps and stairs, a round kitchen, a square armory, the stables along the inside of the west wall. It was only a castle when she began, but before very long Sansa knew it was Winterfell. She found twigs and fallen branches beneath the snow and broke off the ends to make the trees for the godswood. For the gravestones in the lichyard she used bits of bark. Soon her gloves and her boots were crusty white, her hands were tingling, and her feet were soaked and cold, but she did not care. The castle was all that mattered." (Sansa, A Storm of Swords)

She misses her home. She remembers every little detail of it. She wants to recreate it, and I don't mean that just figuratively. It's another lesson that she has learned - that she belongs in the North, she belongs in Winterfell. Nowhere else.

I know that I could have written ten times more than I just did, and I still may not convince a single person to love Sansa as I do - or to even like her, for that matter. What I really want, above all else, is for people to give her a chance. Or a second chance. However you want to refer to it. After all, how often are first impressions casually adopted and, inevitably, prejudiced?

Besides, I'm pretty sure that true ladies and true knights would give Sansa a chance.

She did, after all, almost push Joffrey to his death.

(Silly Hound, for keeping her from doing so...)
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