Dec 29, 2013

Ireland is a great country to die or be married in.

(I'm not dying or getting married, for the record. That's a quote by Elizabeth Bowen.)

Oh my gkdayoiehdlksi!
Ahem. Sorry. I'm just so excited!

This story starts a few days ago when I had my friend Ally over. I was telling her about how I really wish I had been accepted back into the program to go to China again as a head teacher. My biggest worry about going back was Jack, my dog. Or, he was my dog. I was worried if I went, he wouldn't remember me while I was gone or something pathetic like that. Turns out, it didn't matter that we lived in the same house. He still forgot who I was, and so now he is my mom's dog and currently living with them.

So since my biggest concern ended up being a moot point, I really wish I had been able to go back to China. It's been about two years since I came home. Which is really strange to me, now that I say that out loud. That's two full years I haven't left the country or traveled at all really, aside from going out to visit mom and dad (and as lovely as that is, it's not really traveling). I just miss it. If I ever had the opportunity to move to China again, I'd take it in a heartbeat. Really, it doesn't even have to be China. I'd move anywhere out of country if I were given the opportunity.

Alas, here I sit, going to school and working and climbing and doing good things with my life, but none of it is really something I'd consider all that adventurous.

Fast forward a couple hours, Ally was asking me about what my New Year's Resolutions are. I never used to make resolutions, until last year. It's not that I don't have any areas to improve in (ha. I've got a ways to go) but it's just that I never really made good goals, so I never cared to actually fulfill them, even from the beginning, which kind of makes it like I never set the goal in the first place, right?

Anyway, at the beginning of this year, I had one resolution, and that was to climb a 5.9 by the end of the year. Have I achieved this? No. But I've gotten way closer than I was when I started. And I still consider how far I've come a success. So this is just a goal to adjust and reset. This has given me 4 resolutions for 2014.
1- Lead climb by the end of the year. At my rec center, you have to be able to climb a 5.9 in order to take the lead climbing classes, so this definitely encompasses my past goal. But on top of climbing the 5.9, I also have to take the lead class, and then pass the assessment and actually climb. So it's more, but still along the same lines. And definitely attainable.
2- Do a CSI ride a long once a month. This will involve actually setting up the appointments to do ride alongs, and since cities have restrictions on how often you can do a ride along, I'll have to find probably 6 cities all around here that will let me ride along with their crime lab. Also probably very doable.
3- Fill my journal. Earlier this year I started a journal in a composition notebook, and it was the first journal I ever started that I don't anticipate my kids reading or someone finding and reading or really even going back through and reading myself. This is because it's not written in English. If Chaelomen or Berserk got a hold of it, they could read it, but I don't see that happening. And it wouldn't be the end of the world if they did. There's nothing terribly secret in there. It's just nice to not feel like I need it to have a clear and concise purpose, I can ramble and jump topics all I want. Anyway, I want to actually fill it this year, as well as a second notebook's worth. Since this one is almost a third used.

And this last goal I have is the reason I'm so excited right now :)

4- Get a stamp from the 6 populated continents in my passport. (Thanks to Sarah for the idea) Don't get me wrong-- I definitely want to go to Antarctica, but the only way I know to get there is going to take quite a bit of saving. And I doubt I can get a stamp going there. There's still going to be quite a bit of saving for visas to get to Australia and flights and blah blah blah. It actually might be more than I can conceivably save, so I might not make this one. But I already have North America and Asia both stamped in my current passport. So I just need 4 more. One trip every 3 months. I like that. It appeals to me. It makes me feel better about not having left the country since China.

If I can't make enough money for all 4 trips that I want to (I'm thinking of going to Cairns, Madagascar, Chile and Ireland again) then I'll extend this resolution to 2015. It's tricky, because I need to get a visa for Cairns and for Madagascar (and if I were going anywhere besides Ireland or London, I'd need a visa for Europe, too. which is kinda sad, since those are the two countries I've already been to, but also not sad, which I'll get to), but the visa to Madagascar is free if you're staying for less than 30 days. And though you don't need a a technical visa for Chile, you do need to pay for a Chilean visa reciprocity fee. So that, plus the ETA (an electronic visa) for Cairns will be about 300 total. Which isn't terrible, I think I can handle that. So then it's just trying to find flights, which if United doesn't go there, I really just need to save up money to buy a ticket, and that's what might push this goal into 2015.

To start accomplishing this goal, I'm going to go back to Ireland for my spring break this semester! Whaaat. Yes. This is true. What can I say, I'm a badass, pending standby availability to fly out.

It'll be nice. I'm staying at a hostel (Jacob's Hostel, specifically) which is a 20 min bus ride from the airport. I'll be right in the heart of Dublin, and the entire week I'm staying in Dublin, I'll only have spent about $150 on the hostel. Including breakfast. I love, btw. I'm excited. I've already been to Ireland before, I'll be returning almost to the date 7 years later (which is also really weird to think about), and though I kinda wish I could go somewhere I haven't been yet, I wasn't really in Dublin for all that long. And that was 7 years ago. It's not on my current passport. But I did get to travel all around Ireland and do the really cool things-- kiss the Blarney Stone, tour castles, eat in a castle while watching a play, do the St. Patrick's Day Parade, see a bunch of the country-- so I won't feel bad that I won't be doing all that stuff this time around.

Also last time, I went the the marching band, but my best friend at the time couldn't come, so I was kinda just hanging out with people I was sorta friends with, but not really.

This time it's currently just me going. It's like I'm an adult or something. I'll just be hanging out around Dublin and the hostel, maybe seeing if they've got a cheap tour I can take. Make friends with a local, maybe. I've gotta hit up a pub! I'm way excited. Gonna use my passport again! What. I mean, come on Berserk and Mom. What is holding you guys up? ;)

Dec 10, 2013

And for this, I will travel in darkness for what seems like days.

Goodness. I feel like I haven't blogged in forever. And not even for a good reason. I've just been busy with school and so obviously, instead of actually doing my school work, I've instead been wasting my life away on facebook and iwastesomuchtime and all those good old sites. And this post isn't even all that exciting, it's just one really really long confession. Probably not the first of its kind, either.

I think the biggest mistake I've made this semester (and actually it's probably the biggest mistake I've made in years, if not longer) was thinking, "Wait, since I'm still a chem major, none of these classes are actually important for graduation." I did just stop at thinking that. I believed it with my entire heart. If I'm only taking linguistics classes this semester, it doesn't really matter how I do in them. And I find the subject interesting, but I don't care about how my grades look, I just want to learn the material. And I understand the material fine, so what do I care if I don't do the homework. I'm getting 100% or more on all my tests, so skipping the busywork is really really ok with me. Yeah... Maybe if the homework was only work 5% of my overall grade, that would have been an acceptable thought process but alas, homework is worth quite a lot of my grade in all of my classes.

So that leads me to the end of this semester, thinking about what kind of a GPA I'm looking at this semester, thinking about how much effort I've put into my classes, and for the first time in my life, I'm actually really disappointed in myself. My grades have slipped terribly this semester. In fact, they've been slipping since college started, but it's been drastic this semester. And why? Because I didn't feel like doing homework because it would take up some of my time. Time that I wasn't spending on doing important things. I have actually chosen to not do homework so I could instead listen to music and play sudoku on my phone. And I'm really sickened to think of the consequences this has and will bring to me.

Recently, I've been thinking back to high school. There were plenty of things that I did in high school that I didn't actually enjoy, but I did them anyway. I did my homework well before it was due until senior year, when I started to slip just a little because I had a ton of cop out classes. I stuck with marching band for all 4 years, even though I wasn't enjoying it anymore after the first year. I spent 3 years working on my EMR even though I hated being an emergency responder. I woke up for early morning seminary almost everyday for 4 years but I liked seminary. Just not the sleep deprivation that went with it, despite being really incredibly ridiculously sleep deprived all the time.

I am amazed at all of the self discipline I had. I don't know that it was healthy to spend so much time doing so many things that I really didn't enjoy (I mean, at least 85% of my memories from those 4 years are during seminary, school, band, or doing EMR things), but I do think it was good character. And this last semester? It's embarrassing and shameful to the point that I actually don't want to discuss what kinds of things I did wrong, just because in the moment, I didn't really feel like it.

This is actually something that has taken a really serious toll on my self esteem, and I can name exactly why, thanks to an awesome church leader who gave me The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens when I turned 12. I currently still have that book packed from the move, so I can't remember the habit that addresses this specifically, but it compared your self worth to a bank account, and the "money" that you put in or take out is promises. If you keep a promise to yourself, that's a deposit and you increase your self worth. If you break a promise to yourself that's a withdrawal and it decreases your self worth. The bigger the promise, the more it effects you, but little promises add up quickly one way or the other.

I think a semester at school creates a lot of different promises that can affect this if you choose to let it (and I would hypothesize that most of us default to accept these promises). Each homework assignment would be a promise. Each test would as well. Study sessions, getting good grades, attending lecture, taking notes. All of this is important. Maybe not everyone thinks like this, actually, but I know I do. Some of these things are little promises-- lecture, notes, homework-- and some are bigger-- tests, projects, grades.

And this semester, breaking so many many promises has really killed my self worth, to say the least. But I think it's been good, in a really backwards way. My first semester at school I got straight A's. The next semester I had A A A B B C. That summer I had A B B. I took the fall off. I don't remember what my grades have been since, but I trust you can see a pattern. I've actually checked it in my transcripts and my grades have been dropping slowly but steadily since I started. The thing was that I never cared. They were always good enough for me.

I would call this semester, especially in terms of GPA, rock bottom. I don't have my final grades yet (I haven't even finished finals) but I do know that I'm not looking at something pleasant. And for once, whatever I get won't be good enough because I know I can do better. I'm better than D's and C's. I'm better than B's. As humbly as it can be said, I'm pretty smart. My biggest problem with chemistry is actually having to study a little and do some of the homework problems before I really understand it and can do really well on tests. It actually wasn't until I was talking to Chaelomen and he pointed out to me that most students have to study like crazy to understand these concepts and pull good grades that I realized I was so gifted here. I could have been a straight A student for all of my college career.

For probably the first time since I was a junior in high school, I actually feel like I'm gaining some self discipline back. I'm looking at my GPA and I know I can raise it to be a 3.5 or so, and I'm thankful that I haven't completely screwed myself over, but I wish I had known when I started college that I was better than this.

I guess with this change of heart, it's now about finding the silver linings. I've already royally messed up this semester, and with not hitting this point until finals week, there really isn't anything I can do to fix that. But I'm pretty sure that I at least haven't completely screwed up my financial aid, so I can still do classes next semester. Though this was the thinking that got me in so deep, at least I'm not failing anything I need for my degree (and there's even a vague vague possibility I won't fail anything). The classes I've done worst in during my college life are ones that I can take again to replace the grade. I'm not only excited for my classes and to learn, but I'm excited to do well in them and spend my time studying for them and doing the homework and really improving my GPA.

Right now, I'm really just grateful that I haven't messed up my future completely. But I've come dangerously close. I think part of the problem is that I keep forgetting why I'm going to college. Lately I've just sorta been viewing it as this thing I unjustly have to do because "a bachelor's degree is the new high school diploma" and I've really lost the desire to do well so I can have a career. To help combat that, I think I'm going to make it a point to go on more ridealongs. I've been on the one, and it was one of the best nights of my life, so I want to make it a point to go those as often as I can, even looking into other cities. That should help me get through the times where school seems like a long and daunting process.

I've also found the coolest of websites (more cool to me than or that lists all of the crime scene investigation jobs currently open in the US. Just finding that and seeing the applications makes my dreams seem a little more real. And then I might also couple that with checking the salary it pays and looking at apartments in the local area I'd be able to afford on Over preparation? Probably, considering I don't have my BA yet. But it's also some very real motivation.

Mm. Yes. To my core, I'm trying to become a better person. Someone with more integrity and intrinsic motivation. And I might be ready for this ride.

Oct 25, 2013

Life tastes sweeter when it's wrapped in debauchery.

Yes. Yes, Rocky Reads. Tonight, after the dance. I even have the review partially done and saved as a draft right now! This is totally happening.

But first!

Last night I remembered that the schedule for classes next semester came out this week, so I spent a couple hours looking through that, deciding what to take. I was planning on doing calc, analytical chem, arson and explosives, and field testing of drugs. Turns out, for no apparent reason and even though it's kinda like the lab for arson and explosives, they aren't offering field testing of drugs this spring. Which is kinda unfortunate, but doesn't throw me off too much, and I'll take it next spring instead (it's only offered in the spring).

So I was looking at what times all the classes and such are offered, and who teaches what, and checking out ratemyprofessors and all that jazz, and the schedule I'm going to try to end up with is not the most ideal. I was hoping to have Farmer for analytical both lecture and lab, but the time he teaches lecture is super late on TR, which completely messes with my work schedule now. I suppose I can change my work schedule; ask to work Mondays instead of Tues/Thurs, but I really don't want to do that, actually. I probably won't be working Tuesdays anyway next year (probably not come December, even), but I would really like to keep working Thursdays if possible. We'll see; if the lecture I'm currently hoping for fills up, then I'll go with Farmer. He's awesome.

Moving past analytical, there's only one arson and explosives class offered, and I'm excited for it, but it is so inconveniently offered at the same time as any of the calc classes being offered by professors I'm willing to take. Fortunately, I don't actually need to take calc right now. I've already taken it, and I got a D, which is not good enough to graduate on, but it is good enough to use as a prereq, so I can put off taking that until it lines up nicer with my schedule.

Unfortunately, not taking calc or field testing of drugs puts me down under 12 credits, and I'm kinda hoping to be a FT student. I mean, I only work part time. If I also only go to school part time, what will I do with all the rest of the time I have. :) Too overwhelming of a possibility.

So I started looking through some other classes, and assuming nothing fills up before I register for classes, I'll take analytical chem with Hill (who is also the criminalistics department chair) on MW, analytical lab with Farmer on W, arson and explosives on T, and then a couple random for-the-fun-of-it classes: drugs in the criminal justice system with London (who was also my intro criminal justice professor, and he's awesome) on TR and a rock climbing training class for the first half of the semester on T with a few additional Saturday classes/climbing outings.

This makes my schedule incredibly odd. Haha. But I kinda like that, just a little. I'll have class on:
    6:30-9:15 (for the first 8 weeks)
    8:00-5:00 (but there's only 4 of those, also during the first 8 weeks)

I'm a little concerned about how sparse everything is. Only one class on Monday and Thursday? Such a long break between several of my classes? In the past, this has not been a good indication of attendance. But I think knowing that going in will help. There's nothing like being caught off guard about something, and I know that it might be a little bit of a struggle to get there, but I'm going to try to be a better student (something that I've been working on this semester, too). Plus it's helpful that I live so close to the bus stop. There's a ton of stuff to do on campus, I can study for any of my classes, do my homework, etc etc. If I don't really feel like being productive, I can run to the 16th Street Mall for a couple hours, or go hang out in the Boiler Room like I did my first semester and watch TV in there. I know a bunch of people on campus, so I can meet up with them. Another nice bonus is that the classes where I've got particularly big gaps, I'm kinda really excited for.

I might have a 3 hour gap between drugs in CJ system and rock climbing, but I know I'll be willing to stick around for rock climbing. It also helps that that class goes for 3 hours, so we'll be doing a lot of stuff in that one and if I miss it, I'll miss out on a ton of information/practice.
I might have an hour and 45 min break between analytical chem and lab, but that will be time well spent doing my write ups and pre lab and post lab.
I might only be coming in for analytical on Monday, but I need that class and it's not ridiculously early, and it's not ridiculously late.
I might only be coming in for drugs in CJ system on Thursday, but I love that professor and I still think drugs are super interesting, and I love the CJC field.

There might be a lot of things going against me, but I've also got a lot going for me, so I think I can make the semester work out well.

Ooh, and this is what I think is coolest. Analytical+lab is 5 credits. Arson and explosives is 3. Drugs in CJ is 3. All of that is 11 credits, and I was kinda hoping to only have to take 12 credits, but adding another class meant likely having to take 14, maybe only 13 credits if I took a dance class (which I still might do if my one lecture fills up and I have to rearrange things, therefore making it so I can't do the rock climbing class). But, this rock climbing training is a 1-3 credit class, so if I get there and I only want the 1 credit, I don't want to do extra outside-of-class work or whatever, I can only have 12 credits. If I love it though and want to dedicate more time it, I can totally take 14 credits total. It will be nice, because rock climbing is one of my hobbies, and now I'm going to get college credit to do it. And another nice thing is that it's only for the first half of the semester, so about the time I start to get burned out on classes and I want to drop one, I'll be done with it and my schedule gets lighter.

Man. I hope this works out. If it doesn't, I'm sure I'll enjoy whatever classes I end up with, but this would just be the coolest ever.

Oct 17, 2013

You Shall Pass!

I had two midterms this week (both yesterday, conveniently) and they actually went pretty well, I think.

So I was always under the impression that I'm an introvert. For my entire life, I've always believed that. Until like 6 months ago, when I was reading a couple buzzfeed things that people had posted on facebook. One of them was something like "20 feelings that only introverts will understand" and the other was "20 feelings that only extroverts will understand." I read the introvert one first, and understood most of the feelings. Then I was curious so I read the extrovert one, and you know what? I understood most of those, too.

And that was when I decided people are probably not always one or the other, but have episodes of both characteristics.

That was also when I decided that I'm actually way more of a social creature than I realized. It's not necessarily that I'm an extrovert, though. It's not like I desire to go out and talk to random strangers on the street and make friends with people I just met at concerts or whatever. And I do know people like that. It's kinda amazing, a little. But I do like to spend quality time with my friends, both one on one and as a group, and I also like getting to know people who I'm around frequently. Like during class.

Which is what's been cool about school this semester! In previous semesters, I always had multiple classes with the same people because my science classes have a lab with them, and there's always at least a little bit of overlap with the people there. Plus, being in lab with people (especially chem labs, in my limited experience) is a lot of waiting around for reactions to happen. So also a lot of chatting with the people around you and getting to know them. With not having any science classes this semester, I didn't think I'd have that.

But oh, was I wrong. I have two linguistic classes this semester, and there's quite a handful of people who are in both of them. That's been really helpful with getting to know these people, because we have more things to talk about. Which has been good for class, because all these people are like, "Hey, we should do a study session for the midterm in semantics." And then I actually study for my tests (a first for me) and before they happen (another first haha).

On top of that I've got this one random kid, Dante, who I sat by the first day of semantics, and he was like, "Wanna be my sign in buddy?" and ever since, we've been study buddies and I even went over to his house to do my homework, which I then had finished well before it was due (another first!) and it made for a nice relaxing weekend with no homework obligations or procrastination. I was amazed. I might pick up that habit more often. Maybe.

Anyway, after semantics, I usually walk over to health with Dante and we talk, which then helps me get engaged in talking to the rest of the kids in that class. And in ASL, there's a bunch of kids who were in my ASL 1 class last semester, so we're all friends and we talk to each other. In fact on of them, I've noticed, will sign to me and we have like real conversations in sign language, but the other girls he sits by, he specifically doesn't sign to them. He talks to them and is super friendly and all, but if I try talking to him, he signs back to me because he knows I'll understand and we both like the practice. It's cool.

And all of that is how I end up studying and actually being prepared for my midterms and tests this semester. It's fantastic. I'm pretty sure (as I usually am, really) that I will pass all my classes, and that I did well on my midterms, and I'm excited.

PS, I hope you guys like how I came back full circle, there, to tie in my tests again at the end. Yes. :)

Oh also. Since I'm done with tests and such, I had time to read The Blade Itself, so I'll have a Rocky Reads up for that tomorrow, probably. :) yay! I'm a terrible person for ever writing such promises. Haha.

Oct 7, 2013

Let's Start Over

Well. Happy October! This is my favorite month, I think. I love the cooling weather, I love Halloween (easily my favorite holiday), I feel like this is the point in the school year where everyone's getting a handle on classes, so there's more opportunities to hang out with my friends. October is just a good month. Plus, on Halloween night, I'm going to go to the Ender's Game midnight premier! I am so excited for that. I hope it's beautiful. I don't expect it to be as amazing as the book (which, as I've mentioned several times before is my favorite book I've read to possibly obsessive degrees). I do expect it to be entertaining and well done. And I hope it captures some of the beauty of the themes in the book. I really really hope it's more true to Ender's Game than it is to Ender's Shadow. That's really, probably, my deepest desire there.

Can I just say that I really dislike that google reader doesn't exist anymore? It was such a convenient way to keep up with blogs, and without it, I almost forget that I have a blog. As evidenced by my lack of any update for the past couple months. But I've also been pretty busy.

Late August, I moved out of the house. I'm now living with my friends Alli and Trey, who are married, and it's been nice. We live in a town home that's pretty close to my bus stop, and not terribly farther away from work than I was at home. So that's nice. It's a ton of fun living with someone who I've been friends with since 3rd grade. We cook fancy meals together on the weekends when we're both home, and every pay day we buy pico ingredients and make that. It's a lovely tradition.

The only thing is that Alli and Trey are married and only have been for a year and a half, now. This is their first house together (they were previously living in Trey's parent's basement) and they only moved in here like a month and a half, two months before I joined them. So I feel like they should still be living together, just the two of them, enjoying that. But instead, here I am like, "I need a place to live, please!" Meh, I just wish I made enough money at my job to have been able to afford an apartment by myself. And really, if my job were full time, I would be making enough. But with such few hours, I don't have that luxury. Plus I'm also going to school, so. Eventually I'll move out and be out of their hair, and until then, I'm very grateful to them for putting up with me being here.

Speaking of school. I know, I know, I know. I've changed my mind countless times. Why believe me now? I know I decided I wanted to be a linguist. I said I was changing my major and going to be a writer or interpreter or book editor or anything, really. And I'm taking both semantics and intro to linguistics this semester at school, and they're really interesting classes and I'm good at both of them, and I love them both. But I just can't do it. About a month ago, I had a friend over and I was helping him with his chemistry homework, and it was so much fun, sitting there trying to help him understand, working out different problems with him. He absolutely hated it, he says that chemistry is of the devil, but I loved it. Working through these problems was truly fun for me. I want to go into forensics. I want to be a crime scene investigator. I just don't want all the millions of classes that come with the chemistry major and criminalistics concentration. Biology, physics, math math math math, and not a lot of the CSI classes.

I was looking at a bunch of different majors that are offered at Metro, just considering my options. How long until I graduate if I do this? How long if I do that? What if I major in ling. with a double minor in psych and criminalistics? What if I only have one minor? What if I major in chem with concentration in crim, and a double minor in psych and ling? What about blah blah blahblahblah. Basically, I was just looking at how many different ways could I go about combining chemistry, psychology (since I'm almost done with that minor), linguistics, and criminalistics. Not necessarily having all of those together, but combining any of them and seeing what it looks like. If I have the criminalistics concentration, I'm looking at lots of classes every semester until spring 2016, no matter how I pair it. But that's not actually the worst (despite me stressing how much I liked the thought of graduating in a year). It's not the best, either, but I like taking classes and learning and all, so why not?

Actually, I'm sitting here looking at my options, and I found that I can drop all the biology and extra physics classes and extra math and everything if I drop criminalistics as a concentration. If I take it as a minor, then I don't have to do the strictly conceptual aspects; I can actually take an arson/gun/explosives class next semester and a "drug testing in the field" class. I went and talked to my adviser (actually I don't think he's my adviser, but he was gen chem teacher and he's an adviser, so I talk to him) and he was helping me out with all that. I was asking about doing a BA in chem, then maybe having a triple minor in psych, ling, and criminalistics. He thought it was endlessly entertaining that I wanted to take so many classes, but as it turns out, Metro doesn't recognize multiple minors. They do multiple majors; you can have 2 majors, each with a concentration, and then a minor. So you can theoretically have 5 areas of study, but you can't do a double minor.

This means that I would want to major in chem, officially minor in criminalistics (since it would be the most helpful for the career I want) and then unofficially minor in the other two. Just take the classes because I like them and want to learn about it all. Which is a kinda cool deal, and a little bit what I'll do.

I'll do my BA in chem, minor in crim, and then I'll fill in whatever classes I really want from ling/psych/whatever else until I'm taking however many credits I want per semester. So I can still take Latin and I can take psychology of addiction and even do a ceramics class. I do have to take calc again (which I'm also planning on doing next semester) but I'll just actually be disciplined and go to class and pay attention while I'm in class. As a bonus with that, it won't be condensed into a summer semester, and I actually won't ever have to take any more summer classes. My classes will all be nice and chill until I graduate. Almost 100% classes I want to take and am looking forward to (calc is the only exception) and if I want to, I can get away with only 12 credits each semester. It'll be beautiful. But I won't blame any of you for taking bets as to how long until I change my mind again haha.

Just a couple other things to wrap up:
I think Sara and I are done with our Burger Rating Adventures. We've kinda decided that Five Guys is the best (my mistake when I first went there was not ordering enough toppings, but you really can't go wrong if you get your burger "all the way"). We'll definitely still have to hit up the rest of the restaurants on our list, but as for how official it will be? We'll take pictures, we won't give it an official rating, but we'll let all ya'll know how it was. This will just be a "when we get around to it" kind of thing, though. But until further notice, consider 5 Guys to be the best burger in the Denver/Thorntonish area. :)

Rocky Reads will continue, I promise. I'm trying to balance school and homework right now, but I have a ridiculous amount of free time where I'm actually just watching New Girl with Alli or on the computer. So I'll stop being lazy, and I'll go back and reread whatever chapter I'm on in The Blade Itself, and I'll get on that again. As a side note, though, I did go back and I started reading Game of Thrones again! I'm almost caught up to where I first left off with it like a year and a half ago. Which is exciting, imo. Books are so beautiful. Alas, I don't have a time line for when I'll get back to Rocky Reads. Maybe next week, but I've got a couple tests/midterms coming up this week and next, so no guarantee there. Before October ends.

Webs in the Making isn't forgotten, either. I know I haven't written chapter two yet, but that's because I'm not sure what I'm doing in chapter two? I used to talk all this through with my friend Ally, but our schedules are fairly opposite of each other currently, so we haven't gotten together to talk about that yet. I know what the overall story is doing, it's just figuring out whereish I want to take it right now and thinking about pacing and when to bring in other story lines (if I even do, because this is the novel I wanted to write, and if I put all of it on a blog, would it really be worth it to try to get it published? That's a real question, please feel free to answer it with what you think :) ) and all, so. I'll get together with Ally this Friday, though, so maybe I can get that up on Saturday or Sunday!

I feel good, though. I'm going to do all my homework Wed, then I'll have Thursday free to go grocery shopping and work, and Friday night we're going to play True American (which is a game from New Girl) and then work again on Saturday, and that's it for my plans. I have plenty of time to read TBI and work on my story blog and read more GoT. Life is good.

Oh, except when it's not. Feel free to skip this last part of my blog, I'm just going to sit here and complain about things that have not been terribly awesome, recently. My life is going well, and I'm happy for the most part, but things have been a little rough.

It's not that anything all that bad has happened recently, but. The other week, we had to put Maggie (the family dog that we've had since I was in 6th grade) down. It was really sad. She deteriorated really quickly, but I'm going to call that a blessing, actually. She was happy for her entire life, right until the very very end. I remember when we had to put Lacey down, and that was a lot harder. But only because I wasn't living at home anymore with Maggie, so she wasn't as prominent a part of my life. But she was still a good dog, and I miss her.

I also miss mom and dad. And Jack. They all moved to the other side of the country, and though this isn't the first time I've lived far away from them (ah, China. How wonderful you were), this is the first time that it's permanent. And it's not bad, this was not a bad thing to happen. It's just different, and something to get used to, you know? Getting used to phone calls to catch up instead of going over to the house and also bumming some food while I'm there.

But it's kinda a little more lonely. And there's people I can talk to about it; I have friends. Haha. All of my close friends I feel like I can talk to and it's fine, but I only really have 3 maybe 4 people I would want to talk to about this. Because I'm looking for a specific reaction. I just want a, "Yeah, that sucks," and then to move on and maybe go get some frozen yogurt or something. And that's not the reaction I'll get from most people if I tell them, because generally I'm friends with people who are more sympathetic than that.

At church last week, someone was just talking to me and he's like, "How are you? Did you have a good week?" and I was actually in a good mood-- I had just given a fantastic lesson-- so I replied cheerily, but still, "Yeah. Actually no, not really." (I did have to think for half a second. You know, just giving the standard reply, then realizing the standard reply wasn't true) and I could tell by the look on his face, that if I went on to tell him what all happened, it would end with his pity. Oh, I'm so sorry, here let me give you hug and feel bad with you and do you want to talk? Do you want to cry? And I'm ok. Really. It's kinda rough, but I'm adapting and it's just not the kind of attention I want. So instead of elaborating or telling people what's wrong, I just don't tell them. Haha. Eliminate the possibility for their pity. But that's a little bit of a lonely path.

What sucks most is that I've told most of my people that I want to. But the person who I haven't really been able to talk to about it a whole lot is the person who I wanted to tell most. He's just busy with his life, and that's not wrong of him, I'm certainly not mad at him, but it's hard. He has school to focus on, and he has a relatively new girlfriend that he wants to hang out with all the time, and he's kinda looking for a job, and he has other friends he wants to hang out with and all. And all of those are good things to have. He's really not doing anything wrong, and I don't fault him.

But he and I were really close once, not too long ago. We used to hang out all the time-- that was it. We were never anything more than that, but it was nice to have a friend who was so easy to get along with and for who the relationship was so natural. I've had 1 other friend that I had such a natural relationship with, and it was nice to get another. Plus, he served as a link to help me build friendships (which were almost starting to stand on their own without him being around) with other people at church as well. But he's just busy, and having this girlfriend, he doesn't need my company so much anymore. Which isn't wrong-- he still likes me as a friend, we still talk on the phone occasionally. But not for very long. I want to tell him about all this, but we haven't hung out at all since it's become a problem. The dynamic changed, and maybe someday it will go back, but it also might not ever, and that sucks, because he was a good friend.

The end. That's the good and bad going on in my life. But I feel good. I feel like things are going my way.

Aug 12, 2013

Jul 30, 2013

The world may never know.

Why am I such a slacker?

I only have like 3 paragraphs left in my chapter I'm reading for the Blade Itself right now, and yet here I am, not reading it and instead posting a link to my new blog, which I want to start writing for.

:) As I type this, it doesn't have any posts yet, but I'm just trying to find a story I want to tell. So if you check back here at all, say, tomorrow, it'll probably have something. Yay, everyone! I have my first chapter of the story written! Just finished it. Go and read!

Please leave your comments with what you like as well as what you don't like about my writing. This is about trying to become better, and if there's not criticism of how I write, then I'm never going to improve. So please, tell me if there's anything I write that doesn't make sense, or is rushed, or too jumpy, or too drawn out. Whatever. I'll do my best to fix it. A book that I read told me the audience is always right. If something doesn't make sense, I can't argue as the writer that it really does. I'm just wrong, and I need to fix it.

Anyway, check it out!

Jul 23, 2013

This happens almost never, but it happened once to me.

Alright. It's time for a million updates on life. Things are starting to slow down, just a little, but I want to blog about my life before I start right back into Rocky Reads. So this post is intended to be written so that you don't have to go all at once. There's several things I want to hit on updating, and I'll make a heading for each of those, that way you can have a reasonable place to break if you need to.

I just want to say that I love my job. I've almost worked at the rec center for a year! It was actually 11 months 3 days ago, which is the longest I've ever held a job. And I still love it. I still get to teach Climbing 101 on Thursdays, and I get to teach Parent/Tot on Saturdays. And until school starts up again, I'm also teaching a class for 7 and 8 year olds on Monday. It's a lot of fun, actually. This is the second session I've done, and I have 2 kids who were in the first session and wanted to stay for the second, and I also have a couple new kids this session. And it's really cool. They're all awesome and improving on climbing, and I'm slowly learning ways to help actually teach kids and adults how to climb and improve their skills. Plus, my bosses are all pretty bamf. I have a fantastic story about being stood up for climbing by a group of kids twice in a row. This actually something that's only happened twice, and both times I got to be the one working. And this story really highlights exactly how awesome my bosses are.

Alas, I started typing it, and it looses something if it's not told in person. Or maybe I'm just too lazy to type it all out. It's pretty long. Whichever reason you want to choose. :) But ask me about it sometime! It's awesome.

CLIMBING! I miss climbing. Unfortunately, my friend that I was taking climbing all the time doesn't actually have the money anymore to be able to climb with me. So I haven't been able to go in a while. But I did take another friend climbing for the first time in her life, and you know, she did way better than I did my first time. :) Which isn't to say she's good (and I mean that with all the love in my heart), but she had a ton of fun. That's the first time I've ever taken anyone climbing and they just straight up wanted to climb more on a regular basis.

She made it probably 30 feet up the wall, which is almost to the top, and I think she could be really good at it. But we climbed for a while, and she was super impressed by my skills (which I think is funny, since I'm not super awesome at climbing. I'm pretty average, I'd say), and by "we climbed" I really mean that I climbed one route on the auto belay and she climbed two routes, about 1/4 the way up one, and almost to the top on the other. She did climb the one of them twice, and the second got up about 2/3 of the way. But she was so tired, he arm muscles were just not doing it anymore.

Getting tired from climbing is a weird experience. It's not that you're physically panting and can't continue or something, and it's not even that your arms feel too tired to pull you up the wall. There just hits a point where your muscles aren't doing it anymore. A move you literally made 5 minutes ago will not be a move you can make now because you don't have the grip strength. It's funny. But Christina-- the friend-- got super tired like that, so we stopped for the day. I go over and start putting away the equipment we borrowed from the rec center-- my tag, her harness-- and she comes over to give me her shoes, and glances at her phone to check the time and she just stops. "I've only been climbing a half hour?! That's terrible! I need to work out more before I come back." Haha. It was hilarious.

Then I got the usual slew of questions about what muscles should you work to strengthen your climbing muscles? And straight up, I have no idea. I built up my climbing muscles by climbing more. I worked myself to exhaustion the first week of my class, and after that I just had a lot more upper body strength. That said, I'm still pretty weak, but I improved, and I honestly don't know what exercises will help you with climbing, aside from just climbing more and letting that be your exercise. So sorry.

Not mine, no worries. Haha. Though wouldn't that be a way to announce my engagement. (Side note: I had a marriage defined to me recently as betting someone half your stuff that you'll love them forever. I thought it was fantastic.)

A couple of my friends got married last Friday and their reception is this Saturday, which I'm going to. Now this is particularly exciting because I have found someone to be my plus one!

I've been to many weddings, all alone, and most of them have actually been kinda really sad and terrible? I mean, by nature, weddings are these giant celebrations of love and that's beautiful and everything, but it's all about couples. Primarily the one couple that's actually making the vows, but all the things you do at weddings are done better in pairs. Dancing, uh. Eating cake...

Hm. Alright, maybe weddings can be done as a single; maybe the reason I've never enjoyed them before is because I was never particularly close to the bride and groom nor the other people at the wedding. But the people I've always tried to hang out with before at weddings all had dates, so I was just the awkward 3rd wheel, there. And this wedding wouldn't have been a whole lot different. Almost 100% of my friends have a date. They all have boyfriends/husbands/girlfriends/wives, and though I love hanging out with them, it's always paired off. Alli and Trey. Sara and Brandon. Kayli and Billy. And that leaves me as an awkward 3rd wheel if I'm sitting there trying to talk to them. This is a problem all the time, but it's usually not terribly obvious. But weddings, being romantic in design, will most certainly aggravate the situation.

Now I do have one other friend who is boyfriend-less. So every time in the past that we've had everyone hanging out together, if everyone got too coupley, at least we would have each other. But I kinda always wanted that to be my last resort, and this friend almost sees it as a pride. She tries to make it like we're so awesome because we're single and we don't need someone else and it's actually incredibly obnoxious, and honestly I would rather just spend the evening alone than have to spend it with her. Thankfully, instead of having to bare a night being her "partner in crime" or whatever, I just found a date to go with me.

I'm excited. I had to buy shoes so that he can buy a tie to match them, because my dress is just plain black, so if he only has to match that, we're going to be boring. Haha. Hopefully I'll have pictures later.

So every Thursday, I go to Old Chicago in Superior to hang out with a group of Deaf people and ASL students and we all sit there signing to each other all night. And it's fantastic and I love it and I'm getting pretty good at ASL. There is still so much more for me to learn, but people always tell me that I'm really advanced for having only taken ASL 1. Like, it's not just students who tell me that, but also the Deaf people. Such a compliment. I love it.

One of the coolest things, actually, was last week when I was talking to some girl who I hadn't met before. I can't remember her name. I honestly thought she was Deaf from the way she was using her voice, but it turns out she can hear fine. Maybe she has a Deaf parent or something where she learned to voice herself like Deaf people do. Ooh, she might be a CODA [child of Deaf adults]. Anyway, she was talking to me asked how long I've been studying ASL, so I told her only one semester, and she said that she was really impressed because most ASL students always voice what they say. They speak a lot, especially if they don't know the sign for something, which is particularly bad for two reasons: 1- it's considered super rude in the Deaf culture, and 2- there's not a direct translation from English to ASL, so if you speak while you sign, then you probably aren't signing with good grammar.

But yes. It was a nice compliment. There's this other girl named RaVen who is Deaf, and she was telling a story a couple weeks ago and it just went 100% over my head. My reception is getting better, so I can follow more stories that people tell and tell more stories myself, but this was not one of those nights. I just had no idea what she was saying. And when she finished, she asked if I understood what she said, so I told her no, which she suspected, and then she told me not to worry, because back when she first learned sign language, she wasn't very good. And she improved to where she is now, so she said I can, too. :) It was cool. She and I are actually going to go camping in September. I'm really excited.

So I suppose I never actually wrote a whole lot, but I miss it anyway. I'm considering starting a blog where I write short stories that span over several posts. These stories wouldn't really be planned out, it would just be me taking maybe one day a week to write out a little bit of plot and seeing where the story goes. Actually, that's the way that Stephen King and Dean Koontz both write their books.

The only problem I see with this way of writing is that I wouldn't be going back to edit the earlier parts of my stories, so the plot might have some continuity errors (depending on how often I update the story) and my prose might not always be beautiful. But I still think it could be fun.

Would anyone be interested in reading that if I started it up? I'll start it up eventually regardless, because if I want to be a writer in the future, then I should start having a set schedule of writing now, right? Get into the habit? But I'll do it happier and sooner if anyone is interested in reading my writing.

I need to go to more concerts. On my list:
Five Finger Death Punch
Rise Against.

I'm willing go alone-- I've done it before-- but is anyone interested in joining me at any of these concerts next time the bands tour to Denver?

Random Numbers
I think this will be my last section. I've been getting so many texts from random numbers I don't know. It's a strange problem that I can't really say I've had before. It's really ridiculous how many texts I've gotten recently. Some from people I do apparently know, some from wrong numbers, some who never reply to me, and one who I didn't know, but I think they were texting me on purpose.

A couple highlights:
The other week, someone texted me, and all it said was, "I'm sorry" so I replied, "I forgive you. Who is this?" and never got an answer. Which might worry me a little haha.

There's this guy who started texting Sara pretending to be with the CBI and saying that she's in too deep, and she wasn't really playing along, so I texted them and we had a fun conversation about some fake victim and tests that were run on her and us being suspects and needing to get out now. It was random, but totally awesome. I suppose I was the random number in that situation, actually.

Today I got a text from someone saying, "Is this Phil? This is Newly." So I said, "Phil of the Future?" and they just replied with, "I must have the wrong #" haha. So I said, "Yeah, sorry." But I'm glad they replied at all. Made me laugh.

Such a strange problem.

Not that I would call it a problem problem, though. They are almost always either someone I know (like from church) and just don't have the number for, or they don't text me back. The one time they wouldn't say who they were, it was like two years ago and they were doing that Cat Facts thing. I think I won that, though, because the Cat Facts person gave up texting me before I freaked out on them.

Thus ends my giant update on life. I'mma try to read more of The Blade Itself tomorrow! Yay :)

Jul 12, 2013

But I just want to read. :(

Oh man. Moving is a lot of work. I suddenly forgive Jason for never updating anything while he was moving. Not that I was angry or bitter, I just always thought it was funny that he would play warlight, and aside from that I would never hear anything from him.

Now I totally understand.

I will continue reading soon. I've been cleaning out my room and throwing away approximately half of everything I own. Which is not something I've done for at least 3 years, and apparently I accumulate a ton of crap. But I really haven't had a whole lot of time between work and cleaning and helping my friends move and whatnot to read. At all. The Blade Itself, Game of Thrones, What Every Body is Saying. None of it. Someday soon, I know it, I will start up again.

Anyway, either after mom and dad sell the house or once Sep hits (whichever comes first), I'm moving in with a couple friends, so that'll probably be in a monthish? Maybe two months. I'm excited. Moving forward with adulthood and all that, finally. After all these years of talking about moving out, I'm actually doing it haha.

But for now, I'm off to finish cleaning. I just wanted to not abandon ship, here.

Jun 29, 2013

And we have a winner!

Alright! We have a winner, life-plan- and major-at-school- wise.

I'm definitely going to be changing to a linguistics major with a minor in psychology. Why? Several reasons:

First, and I can't really stress how important this is, I can graduate (with incredibly full loads, but with classes that I think I can handle just fine) in 2014. Yes! This time next year, if all goes according to plan, I will be entering my last semester of school. Wait, it's still June. I'll be working through my last summer semester. Still awesome!

Second, I really do like studying languages. Not just foreign languages, but English as well. You should all see my hardback copy of Ender's Game. It's annotated like nothing else with motifs, characters, word changes (like when Ender refers to himself as Andrew right at the very beginning, or the exact moment he starts calling Bonzo by his first name instead of his last). I once spent an entire Saturday morning trying to figure out the rules of Eastern Street Slang (from Mistborn) and how I could translate it to English and vice versa. Just for the fun of it. Same with my EG annotations-- that's not for class; it's because I can.

Third, I'm good at English. I'm good with foreign languages. And for this major, I have to take 2 foreign language classes above the 2000 level. Which means taking Intermediate French 1 and 2, and then being able to stop before I get into the annoying grammatical parts of foreign languages.

Fourth, look at this list of things I can do! Teach English. Teach a foreign language. Teach ESL-- abroad or not. Publish books. Review books. Write books. Interpret. Work for the government. Consult in law and medicine. Be an actress. Basically, everything I've ever even partially considered doing would be an option, here. Forensics isn't happening to quite the same extent, but I could still work for the FBI or something. And I really believe that I will go back to school and finish my chemistry degree if I decide I want to continue more heavily in that field.

Fifth, I don't have to retake calculus! What? Yes, that's a real consideration. Let's not actually call it a "consideration," though. Let's call it a perk. I would do it if I had to, but the fact that I can skip it is nice.

Sixth, I'm not an English major. And I like that. Linguistics, while being super soft, is still a science. It's studying languages and how they morph over time and change in different contexts (I might dare to say it's a harder science-- just barely-- than psychology). I'm super excited about that. If I wanted to stay in a slightly more "scientific" career, I could become a linguist and make hypotheses about language and test them.

I'm pretty satisfied with this. Another nice bonus is that with this path, I can take the classes I need in whatever order I want. With chemistry, you have to take gen chem before analytical and organic, and those before physical. You have to take gen bio before microbiology and genetics. All these prereq's build on each other so it's a really delicate order of when you can take what classes you want. There's still a little freedom-- would I rather take analytical or organic chem first, or both at the same time-- but with linguistics, I basically have two prereqs that I haven't done yet, and I'll be taking both this fall. It's intro to linguistics and a logic class. And then I can take every other class I need for the major.

I'll miss my hard science classes. I'll miss physics and chemistry and criminalistics. But if I miss it enough, I'll go back for it later. For now, I just want to be done with college and have one of these many awesome careers that are possible for me.

With that, I've added two classes to my "easy semester" this fall. I'm taking intro to linguistics, dynamics of health, ASL 2, semantics, and psychology of adolescence. :D 15 credits! Then 18 credits planned this spring (which I know I've done before and wanted to die, but this will be in a field that comes easier to me, so hopefully it'll be fine. but if it's not, I know how to drop classes and I can take an extra semester later. I can handle change farther down the road if need be), 9 credits the summer after that, and finishing up my last semester with 18 credits. Then graduation! In fall 2014! Whaaat. So excited.

Jun 27, 2013

Now I'm really going to sleep.

I was just on facebook... don't judge. But someone's status update said they were writing a blog about what they had previously status-updated about, and I thought I'd go read it. I don't have this person's URL, so I went Carebear and Frik's blog to look it up (I didn't, as a side note, finish reading the blog. It was not as interesting as I thought it might be. Maybe if I had gotten farther. Or was closer to this facebook friend).

So, I was checking out the blogs that Carebear and Frik have links to, and they have that thing where it shows up in order of most recently published. Which is in part how I found this blog I was looking for. But mine shows up-- not only on theirs, but also on Guildylocks' and Scooter's-- as not having been updated since my mid-school crisis, which was 3 months ago.

It's still fine on Mom's, but she's the only one. Any ideas?



Well, I know I said two more chapters today, but it was a busy day. I got a dress for Audrey's wedding and ate a meal and bought some cookies... and watched Footloose.

I really tried to stay up and read the next chapter, so I could at least get one more up, but I'm literally falling asleep while reading. And when I do that, I start to dream and fill in the gaps. It makes for really confusing stories.

So I'll just have to do some reading of The Blade Itself tomorrow.

Somehow, I think you'll all find it in your hearts to forgive me. :)

Jun 25, 2013

RR Fencing Practice

In Fencing Practice, Jezal is a cocky douche, but totally loses all confidence when he meets West's sister. Think you're ready? Then join Rocky as she reads The Blade Itself.

Time for the second chapter for today! I'm going to try to do two again tomorrow, and then see about doing one per day after that-- with my days that I work off. It's hard to read a book "one chapter every two or three days" because there's no strict schedule, so if I don't actually do it, who cares? I might be able to make myself more disciplined for my 2-3 day plan if more people were following this, but alas.

I liked this chapter. It made me laugh. It starts off with Jezal practice fighting West, which he loses terribly because he gets over confident and has poor balance on his back legs. While his trainer Lord Varuz is sitting there chewing him out for all the things he did wrong in the battle, Jezal briefly wonders about what would happen if he just gave up fencing and never touched a steel again, which he has apparently thought about a lot. But that would make his father sad, and he'd probably lose his allowance, and blah blah blah. Basically this was a GIANT father's-will-forced-onto-his-son moment. Usually, this has the son hating his life more and more until he snaps and chooses his own path, and then the father loves the son anyway. Basically that's how I've seen this set up go in every book/movie/show I've ever seen, except one (The Way of Kings, Brandon Sanderson. Fantastic twist, there). So I'm interested to see how this becomes more of a problem, and what Jezal does with his apparent disinterest in fencing. Stop he stop being a spoiled brat and and accept that he'd rather do something he loves and make it on his own instead of pleasing his father?

To sum up, I'm super interested in this one little part of the story (seriously, it was not even a full paragraph) because this is remarkably similar to a problem I'm facing now. And I want to see him follow whatever path he does, then see how happy it makes him. That way I can learn something and consider my options better. This is a good character conflict; a lot of people can relate to it. Good move, Abercrombie.

Alrighty. So Jezal is walking back to camp with West who has his sister in town and he was going to show her around. Yes, was. He instead gets orders to go to a meeting, and pawns his sister off on Jezal. The entire time back to camp, Jezal is being an extra-douche. He's just acting really superior and obnoxious. He thinks himself better than the messenger who came to talk to West, he thinks himself above West's family (though not West himself, since he proved himself by being an awesome fencer and joining the King's Army), he just basically thinks he's better than all the "common folk". And there's a guy who dropped a paper and is now chasing it around in the wind that Jezal just watches with amusement. Now, I suppose that's not the worst thing, but the paper blows right past his feet and Jezal just watches as this guy runs past, bent over, trying to get it. Blarg. When West gets the paper and gives it to the guy, Jezal is actually upset that his fun was just ruined. Man. What a douche.

A little later, as he's going to West's house to pick up his sister, he's literally just sitting there thinking to himself, "Don't let her be too ugly. Or dumb." He'd hate to have his day ruined that way, being seen in public with someone unattractive. He stops just outside his house (or actually it's more of an apartment) to eavesdrop on the two of them arguing, and she's got a deepish voice, so he almost just turns around and makes up some excuse for why he couldn't be there, but since someone's coming up the stairs, he can't get around without being seen. So he just embraces the fact that he's going to have to spend the day with someone short, fat, and inappropriate for a female (she's witty and swore while talking to her brother, which is only how boys are supposed to be).

All of his doucheyness makes it particularly delightful that when she opens the door, he thinks she's gorgeous. She definitely has unconventional looks-- she's not thin, her skin is darkened from the sun, her eyes aren't blue-- but he doesn't even care. She's most certainly not fat, and he can't remember why girls are supposed to be pale upon seeing her, and her eyes are dark and bright. He loses all his charm and it's kinda fantastic. West is just kinda sitting here watching him be totally intimidated by his sister, and it's hilarious. Jezal tries frantically to think of clever things to say, which is not really working out for him, and he just generally thinks it's funny to see Jezal and Ardee (the sister) together. Haha, right before he leaves to his meeting, he tells them not to do anything he wouldn't, and Ardee just--

"'That would seem to allow virtually everything,' she said, catching Jezal's eye. He was amazed to feel himself blushing like a little girl, and he coughed and looked down at his shoes.
West rolled his eyes, 'Mercy,' he said, as the door clicked shut."

Haha. It made me laugh out loud. They spend most of the rest of the chapter walking around as Jezal tries to show her the city, but she already knows everything about it. She's not being obnoxious about it, though, and she stands close to him, which isn't something Jezal is objecting too, but he thinks it would be super awkward and bad if West saw them so close together. He tries telling her a couple times that they should act more like friends here and less like a couple, but she just keeps talking about all the different things they're seeing and doesn't really let him get in on the conversation a lot.

Then randomly Glokta comes up. Ardee knows him because apparently Glokta and West were quite close, which totally makes sense. I mean, they were only having a legit conversation about it the night that Glokta kidnapped Teufel. The two of them used to be really close friends, and Glokta came to visit West and his family one summer. Jezal is super awkward the entire time Glokta is there talking to Ardee, and the chapter ends pretty quick after he leaves.

Abercrombie does a cool parallel between fencing West and showing Ardee around. He references how Jezal was off balance for both of those and in the end of the chapter, Jezal straight up thinks about how he feels like he lost a fencing war twice today, and that Ardee was a tougher component than her brother. Fantastic. I feel like I'm falling into a trap, though. I just love how much Jezal was thrown off by Ardee, and I hope she sticks around and we see more of her. But I'm pretty positive that's what Abercrombie wants me to feel. Which means I'm worried I'm walking straight into his trap, and he's going to do something terrible with Ardee and Jezal D: Oh dear.

Good chapter, though. I'm intrigued that we keep seeing Glokta pop up in Jezal's chapters. It allows up to get a different perspective on him, because we've only seen him in his own head or with this prisoners-to-be, and so seeing him out among peers and normal people gives a really interesting view of Glokta. He's so friendly. It's odd, but good I think.

Oh! And I totally forgot! While Ardee and Jezal were looking at statues, they totally saw one of the Magus that Logen is trying to find! Whaaat. Now that I read in this chapter, actually, I think Jezal mentioned it back in his chapter. He runs past them, and if I'm remembering correctly, he though the Magus was dead. Hm... Interesting...

For the hundredth time he entertained the notion of giving it up and never holding a steel again. But what would people say?

RR The Wide and Barren North

In The Wide and Barren North, Logen must, yet again, fight for his life while semi-trying to protect his new friend. Think you're ready? Then join and Rocky reads The Blade Itself.

Wait. Before I continue with anything, my first thought upon reading this chapter's heading was going immediately to Game of Thrones. Am I the only one? Hm. Maybe it's because I was just reading Game of Thrones earlier this morning, then decided to do some Rocky reading.

So, I have never been more confused about where a character was before in my life. It's been a few chapters since we've seen Logen, so I assumed he wasn't where he was when we last left him-- which is true-- but I spent quite a while being confused. He's waiting around in the wide and barren North, waiting for this Magus to show up, right? Ok, so he's up north. But then, a single paragraph later, he's talking about how he had to move from where he was in the forest to get to this bog/marsh and wait here, even though it didn't seem like a good place. He knew it was where he was supposed to be because, "to the South the spirits had said." What?

It took me nearly half a chapter to decide that he's farther south than he was in this forest, but still in the north. Which means... where has he been all this time? Geographically speaking. He started out by some river, then moved what I assumed was north (where it gets colder) to the mountains, then decided that he had to go south to get somewhere with food. And that's where he talked to the spirits. Who tell him to go south. More south, I assume. But he's still north. Ok. Right? Right. He just started out incredibly far north. But I just. Why is it so warm where he is for being so far north? Maybe it's summer. Maybe I need to just accept things and move on.

Ok, so he's sitting here is this marsh area, foodless (except the meat he brought with him from the forest, which he is currently using the last of to make a lovely stew) and waiting for the Magus to show up. He's got a sad little fire going when a young, sickly, sad sad boy comes upon him. It's not the actual Magus-- that's why it's taken so long for him to find Logen-- it's the Magus' apprentice, named Malacus Quai (which, I don't know if this is significant, but quai means dock in French). They sit and talk for a while about how terrible of a seer and outdoorsman Malacus is, and Malacus is talking about how he hasn't eaten in days, and just sits there staring at the stew Logen made.

So Logen give it to him. Malacus can't believe his generosity, and he checks to make sure Logen has already eaten. Logen hasn't, but he can see how much Malacus needs this food to live, so he tells him he has and then lets him sleep. In the morning, Logen eats the fire's spirit (I'm serious. I don't even know what this means. But he eats the fire's spirit so he can later make a fire again, and really all I can imagine is this thing from Howl's Moving Castle, which is fantastic but probably not correct) and they set off to the Great Northern Library, which is about four days south of where they are. Malacus brought a spare horse with some food and shelter with him as he came to get Logen, but he lost all that in the storm, so there was only the one horse. As he should have, Malacus said he would walk since it was his fault that the extra horse was lost, but Logen takes one look at how sick he is-- burning with a fever, in need of food right now or else he'll die-- and offers to walk himself.

It's really magnanimous of him, really. Especially because his boots are torn to shreds (much like one of my pairs of converse. You should all see them. It's sad. I should just throw them away and get new ones) and he can't even use Malacus' shoes because they're too small. But he doesn't make Malacus feel guilty or anything. He just walks next to him as Malacus talks his ear off, and I really get this sense that Logen like Malacus. He's taking care of him. And I really have to wonder how much of that is because he wants to find the Magus and how much of it is because he misses his family and his boys and just wants to have someone to protect again. It's a nice dynamic.

Oh but wait. The chapter's not over. They're walking, and suddenly they have at least 3 bandits attacking them-- there might be more in the trees and Logen instantly goes into survival mode. He knows the odds are not in his favor, but he fights anyway, with all that he's got. It's brutal. He spits the fire spirit at one of the bandits' faces, burning him to death, and he stabs another through the chest, and just basically demolishes everyone. And then there's a fourth guy who was firing arrows from the trees, and he takes him out as well. He's not really particularly focused on protecting Malacus (which makes it super lucky for him that he's still alive at the end of the chapter), but he fights with everything so he can live to the next day. In the end, all the bandits are dead, the horse is gone, and Logen has a nice cut down his arm, as well as some cuts in his head. And his sword is broken. But he and Malacus are alive, and they resolve to get the boot of one of the bandits for Logen to wear and then see if any of the bandits had food. The end.

This was a really good chapter to get a better sense of who Logen is, what kind of person he is. And I come to the conclusion that, though he's killed a lot of people and was once called the most feared man of the North, he's not a bad guy. He's not a killer or a criminal. He's a survivor. He wins-- thoroughly (as originally used to describe Ender). It's not that he wants to kill all these bandits, it's almost the opposite. The one in the trees who was shooting arrows was just a boy, maybe 14 years old. But in order to continue living, he had to kill all of them. He adjusted to a kill or be killed attitude, and did some terrifying things that shook Malacus up. But even as scared as Malacus was, he also knew that Logen had to act as he did or else he would be dead now.

The prose in this book is really fantastic as well. I'm rather enjoying it. There's a cool image that Abercrombie writes where Logen is looking at himself-- counting the new wounds he's acquired-- then he looks our at the bandits that attacked them, all of their lifeless bodies. And in the next sentence, Logen is both reflecting on all the people he's killed and noting the blood physically dripping from his hands. It's a subtle line, but it's beautiful for that. Time to see how Logen and Malacus get on with life.

His hands were covered in blood. He grabbed one with the other to stop them from trembling.

Jun 23, 2013

The best commander...

since Napoleon decided to attack Russia in the dead of winter.

So I like Warlight. But oh my. I am not good at it.

Which is particularly evident now, trying to play a real time game, 1v1 for the world. My best defense is running away and making this person I'm playing against chase me down if they want to win.

Though, in my defense, this guy is particularly good. It's intimidating, really.

He's won all the single player games in as few moves as you can, except the Crazy one, which he still won in 26 turns. And he's won 60% of his 1v1 games. I wonder if he knew, going into the game, how inexperienced I am. Did he check my profile before joining? Meh, not terribly important. I probably wouldn't have if he had joined the game first. But maybe that's part of why I'm not awesome at this game.

Doesn't matter, I like it anyway. But I think it's about time I go surrender. I'm not winning this.

Here's the game if anyone wants to see how terrible I did.

Jun 20, 2013

RR Teeth and Fingers

In Teeth and Fingers, terrible things happen in a very short time. Think you're ready? Then join Rocky as she reads The Blade Itself.

Hello, world. I fell behind a little on Rocky Reads, but I think I'll do two posts today to make up for lost time.

My first thought upon reading this chapter's title was, "Oh no. Is removing teeth and fingers how Glokta's going to get Teufel to confess? D:" That's literally what I wrong in my Rocky Reads journal. Emoticon included. And you know, I was only half right, which is really cool. I like that I only had 2 or 3 pages I tried to predict, and I picked a relatively good (if not a bit obvious) prediction, and I was still partially wrong. Props to Abercrombie for taking what I expected to happen and just saying, "No."

Basically in this chapter, Glokta starts his confession session with Teufel. Teufel recognizes him and we find out officially that Glokta was tortured-- though it was pretty obviously implied before-- but what's really cool here is how much we learn from this little bit about Glokta. We get a nice description of things that are wrong with Glokta-- his missing teeth, mirrored from top jaw to bottom jaw so that where he has one on the top, he doesn't have one on the bottom and vice versa, making it impossible to chew anything; his inability to stand while peeing; only being 35 and needing help to get out of bed in the morning. Pieces of Glokta's past are starting to come together. He was in the army, he was tortured (though by which side, I'm not really sure) and yet none of this is something we learn from Glokta himself. It's all had to be said by a third party, someone who recognizes Glokta. And some pretty important people are recognizing Glokta, he seems to be sorta famous.

(Also, I think it's painted really well exactly how crippled Glokta is, because it wasn't until this chapter we learn his age. From all the descriptions of how he walks, even knowing he has a bad leg and was tortured, I assumed he was in his 50's. Finding out he's only 35 was a really fantastic way to emphasize his handicaps.)

What I like most about Teufel being the one who's talking about Glokta and helping to reveal his past a little bit is that it speaks volumes about Glokta's character. He's very much in the present. He focuses on the pain of his injuries, yet he doesn't let that stop him from living his life. More specifically, he doesn't dwell on the past. He doesn't think about how he got his injuries or dream about what could've been. He thinks about what he's doing now and how it will affect him in the future. There's no sense in worrying about why he's crippled as he is or what could've been if he wasn't in the King's army or whatever, so he doesn't. He focuses specifically on things he can change. That's the "Teeth" part of the chapter that I just didn't anticipate, but I really liked it.

Aaand then he goes and starts chopping off Teufel's fingers of his left hand, bit at a time, until Teufel agrees to confess. It's a terrible thing to do, but I can't say I'm actually angry at him. And honestly, part of the reason I can excuse his acts here is because the first half of the chapter was about all the terrible things that were done to him. So I feel like it's justified almost. And he's also got orders to get a confession out of Teufel. And Arch Lector is probably already on the way to get Teufel's confession, which if Glokta doesn't have, then he'll be sent to Angland as well.

I mean, no doubt this is not an awesome thing to be doing, but the way Abercrombie presents everything that's going on is done really flawlessly. He never asks me to excuse Glokta for doing this, he never even hints that what Glokta's doing is justified. Yet here we are.

The writing style for Glokta is amazing, too. There's a lot of really beautiful or funny and witty quotes.

Every day is its own little hell for me. Every day. So tell me, can you seriously believe that anything you might say could scare me?

Jun 13, 2013

Rocky Reads Playing with Knives

In Playing with Knives, we meet another POV character named Jezal who is kind of a punk, but I think I like him anyway. Think you're ready? Then join along as Rocky reads The Blade Itself.

More point of view characters! I love these kinds of books, with many POV characters who seem to not have a lot to do with each other, but then they end up all being really important in the book. It's seriously one of my favorite things to happen in books.

So when this chapter opens, we meet Jezal who is playing poker of some sort with four other characters. He's totally awesome at cards and wins everyone else's money-- even the one kid (Brint) who can't actually afford to be losing this money, but he wants to fit in so he plays anyway. All these guys are in some sort of army together. Jezal is cool. He's obviously that guy who doesn't really care about anything, and he's good at everything. He knows Brint can't afford to lose his money, but Jezal plays his hardest and takes all his money anyway. Then vows to blow it on alcohol and girls.

We've got a real stand up guy, here. Brint runs off to try to save what of his dignity that he can (which is none), and the rest of the guys basically tell Jezal he's being a douche. They tell him that he knows Brint can't afford to lose, and he just says that Brint shouldn't be playing if he can't afford it. In his own douche bag way, he's kinda trying to teach Brint a lesson. And getting a ton of extra money in the process. Anyway, the rest of the guys try to call on Jezal's sympathy and tell him that Brint just wants to fit in, and don't you remember what it's like to be the new guy?

Jezal gets all hard and defensive, because he remembers very well what that's like, but he's cut short as he realizes he's late for his training with Lord Marshal Varuz, and he runs off to that. Varuz is quite the stickler for stance. He's pretty physical, too. So for the next little section, we get to see him beating up Jezal in training. Anytime Jezal doesn't hold a position perfectly (which is all the time. I mean, really, this is training. if he could do it perfectly, he wouldn't be here), Varuz forcefully corrects him. He stabs him, hits him over the head, jabs him in the stomach, with sticks... It's pitiful, really.

I mean, here I am looking at Jezal thinking about how cocky he is, and now we see him somewhere where he's not the best at what he's doing, and his trainer is drilling it into him that Jezal is not the best. It's a good lesson to learn, but Veruz is being so overly superior that now I feel sorry for Jezal. He could certainly learn to be a touch more humble, but this is a little bit overkill, imo.

Actually, come to think of it, Jezal reminds me of Dave a little, one of my Chinese kids.

After training, Jezal goes and gets really incredibly wasted. And while in this state, he stumbles upon a kidnapping! Not just any kidnapping, though. It's Glokta and Frost and Severard kidnapping Tuefel! Whaaat. Being incredibly drunk, Jezal can't do a whole lot about the kidnapping, but the rest of his poker friends try to help out Tuefel (though they don't know that's who it is). And Glokta's just like, "Hey! Hey! It's you, West! How are you these days?"

Yes. Apparently they used to be in the army together, pre-cripple days. So the poker guys all end up letting Glokta carry on with what he's doing, and the chapter ends.

Now can I just say for half a second that I love that Jezal is super drunk, right, and he comes across some really important and grounding scene (the kidnapping) and he's still drunk. He still is having a hard time balancing and not being sick at the end of the chapter. That's fantastic. It usually doesn't happen in books, movies, TV shows, whatever. Usually, if any of the characters are drunk, they'll be stumbling and acting really dumb one minute, then something happens-- another character gets really bad news, whatever-- and suddenly the drunk character is instantly sobered up and can handle the situation just fine.

I mean, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. Maybe that does really happen in real life. I don't really have any kind of personal experience with it. But I did take a psychopharmacology class, and no where in it did we talk about how a sudden increased level of drama helps the liver process drugs quicker. Not once. So I appreciate that while he's trying to fight, he hasn't suddenly become a master swordsman. He has to deal with two problems here: fighting some kidnappers and having a terrible lack of coordination.

All that aside, this is a good chapter. I actually really like Jezal's character. I like Abercrombie's writing style quite a lot here. It's a unique style, and it's not really my favorite that I've ever read (at least not when in Logen's perspective), but I think it works really fantastically for Jezal's perspective.

And I'm really digging all the completely different personalities that are coming to play here in the book so far. It's cool. It leads me to wonder, though, if all of these personalities are going to come together to be fighting for one cause as the book goes on, or will they all stick to their own paths, or are we perhaps going to be introduced to the villain of the story and not know until later? Will anyone that we've met so far (or will meet, POV-wise) be on opposing sides? I'm intrigued.

Oh. Also super curious about what happened between West and Glokta. Yes. I hope we find that out someday.

Yes, the money was certainly useful, and there's nothing half so amusing as humiliating one's closest friends.

Jun 11, 2013

Rocky Reads No Choice at All

In No Choice at All, Logen heads south and finds a purpose! Think you're ready? Then join Rocky as she reads The Blade Itself.

We're back to Logen! And I'm kinda excited, he's doing things! Or at least, he's starting to do things!

Let me back up and summarize the chapter really quick.

Logen battles the mountainous environment up somewhere called the High Places. We get a little background information on him-- his family has died due to a Shanka attack. All of them. Wife, kids, parents, many of his friends. Only him and the boys he was hunting with were left alive-- and now he has to decide what to do. Go north and die or go south and live to fight another day... He goes south. There really isn't any choice in dying.

So down south, in a much more forest-y  environment, Logen feasts on deer, has a fire, and calls on the spirits, who he says don't give good advice, but at least they're company. Now, I wasn't expecting what came next. Haha. It was fantastic. The spirits are like, actual bodies! They come up-- only 3 of them-- out of the shadows and sit there around the fire talking to Logen for a little while, telling him about what all is going on in the rest of the world. They tell him the Magus of the Old Time is looking for him. And they also tell him that their numbers are dying and after a year or two there will probably be no spirits to come to him if he calls on them.

And the chapter ends with Logen being sad about not having his friends with him and deciding to go find the Magus to see what's up and why he's looking for him. Yay!

Oh-- quick side note-- I thought it was hilarious that Logen in the beginning is really thirsty, so he decides to eat some snow. Which works. The reason I find this hilarious is because I've considered doing the exact same thing :) Only problem for me is that I was down in Denver and none of that snow really looks acceptable to put in my mouth. It's all super dirty. That, and I'm not actually dying of thirst.

So, I'm really excited that Logen is going somewhere where he'll be meeting up with more people. It's not that his story has been boring or anything. It's not that it's been lacking conflict. It's not even really that Logen's not been taking action. In fact, because of all this, Abercromie's kept my attention with Logen's story line up to this point.

There's a little list of types of conflicts your character can experience. I don't know them all. Man vs Man, Man vs Nature, Man vs Society, Man vs God, Man vs Self, etc. One of my favorites is Man vs Man. In my opinion, it's the most exciting. Logen dealing with the High Places is definitely a Man vs Nature, and he started with a Man vs Man. So he's had conflict (which is what drives a plot), and I've been with him up to this point. But I'm glad that the story is going to go forward faster here and I'm excited to see where Logen goes.

You carry on. That's what he'd always done. That's the task that comes with surviving, whether you deserved to live or not.

My friends are jerks.

So I'm reading Game of Thrones right now as a leisure book. I started reading it once about a year ago, but I don't remember a lot of what I read so I'm starting it over.

My friends all watch Game of Thrones on HBO. They just finished the 3rd season, which goes up to half way through the 3rd book.

One of my friends (the same one who kept telling me about things in Harry Potter that I hadn't gotten to yet) just told me that a very important character dies at the end of the first book! She told me who it was and why they killed him. Which also revealed a big secret about one of the kids in the book.

Why? Why would you do such a thing? I literally stopped reading Harry Potter for 6 months after being spoiled about everyone who dies. I just don't understand why she'd say such a thing and ruin the author's build-up.

Obviously I will eventually find out the secrets. But way to take all the tension and fun out of reading it myself!

I should have known. She's one of those people who reads the first book in a series, then instead of reading the rest of the series, goes to wikipedia and learns the rest of the plot that way. Wtf.

As a future writer or book editor, I really hate that kind of person.

Jun 6, 2013

RRTBI: Questions

In Questions, we meet Inquisitor Glokta, who beats confessions out of people and is not particularly liked by his superiors. Think you're ready? Then join Rocky as she reads The Blade Itself.

Well, we just met a whole slew of people. None of them having anything to do with Logen. Yet, at least. The POV character for this chapter is someone named Glokta, who is kinda bitter and injured. He's limping around on a cane and his left foot always causes him pain, so that probably explains why he's not such a stand up guy.

Oh, and his job is to beat people senseless until the confess to crimes and rattle off names of whoever else was a part of it. I mean, that can't really be good on your morale, so it probably adds to the bitterness.

Anyway, Glokta's sitting here interrogating Salem Rews, who was evading the King's taxes, and he keeps getting interrupted to talk to his superiors-- once by Superior Kalyne who is upset about Glokta being so independent/subordinate and Glokta has to pay him off, and once by Arch Lector Sult who also doesn't really like Glokta but likes his results and wants him to beat a confession out of Sepp dan Teufel. A confession for what? We don't get to know, Lector refuses to say. That means it's super awesome and devastating, whatever it is.

Glokta eventually gets back to Rews, and he-- after some persuading-- admits to the crime, as well as lists off people who were with him. On this list, Glokta tells him to add Sepp dan Teufel. Dun dun dun. Rews gets sent off to Angland, where Glokta doesn't think he'll last more than 6 weeks, and Glokta tells his people, Practical Frost and Practical Severard, to get ready to go arrest Teufel tonight.

The chapter has a lot of internal dialogue. It's kinda cool, I think. When we're with Logen as POV character, he doesn't really talk to himself in his head. He sometimes mutters under his breath, but more he exclaims out loud when something awesome or terrible happens. Like, when he was falling toward the cliff to his doom, but then caught on to the root, he shouted out in joy. Just, "Ha!" Little things like that. But Glokta on the other hand, is really snarky and witty, but he doesn't really say a lot of things outloud. He responds to people with sarcastic comments in his head, then actually says something appropriate to them. It's cool. And from his internal dialogue, we can sense that Glokta doesn't like what he's doing.

He and Rews were actually friends, once. And after he beats him up and gets him to sign the confession, he just sits there thinking about what he's doing. Beating Rews didn't make his leg hurt less. Getting him to sign the confession didn't make his front teeth grow back. He did all these horrible things to no gain of his own. And he can't figure out why he's doing it. It creates a little self-loathing on his part. Not enough for him to stop what he's doing, at least not yet, but enough that you don't just straight up hate Glokta.

Though I'm super curious. How in the world are Glokta and Logen going to connect? They seem like two completely different stories right now. I'm intrigued.

Is this where I beg for mercy? Is this where I crawl on the ground and kiss your feet? Well, I don't care enough to beg, and I'm far too stiff to crawl.

RR The Blade Itself: Survivors

In The Survivors, Logen is alive! And he needs supplies to continue surviving. Think you're ready? Join me as Rocky reads The Blade Itself.

My, this was a short chapter. Are all of them this short? If so, I might have to step it up and start reading and reviewing two chapters at a time. We'll see.

The Survivors starts off with Logen having survived the fall into the water. He's alive (though a bit beat up), and trying to keep himself that way. To accomplish such, he wants to go up to the mountains where he'll hide out from the Shanka. But, mountains are cold. Especially at this time of year. And Logen will surely die, what with his lack of boots and coat.

He heads back to camp, hoping the Shanka aren't still hanging out there (they aren't) and gathers his boots, coat, and a backpack full of supplies that will be handy. And his pot! The kind for cooking, not the kind for smoking. Deciding that his boys are probably all dead or will be soon, he abandons everything else, naming himself and his pot as the only survivors, and heads for the mountains.

I want to say that his boys are not dead. I mean, they've all got names! Threetrees, Dow, Forley, Grim, and the Dogman. There might be more boys, too, but those are the ones that were named specifically. They can't all be dead, right? Right? I find it likely that as Logen is hiding out in the mountains, he'll run into one of them. I mean, they're probably all trained to survive, and great minds think alike? It's likely enough that Logen will stumble upon at least one of them, isn't it?

I suppose I'll find out tomorrow. There wasn't a whole lot to this chapter. I guess mostly I think that at least one of the boys is still alive because that would drive the plot forward. And I'm a little obsessed with plots moving forward, thanks to that happening oh so terribly slowly in another book that I'm reading.

You have to be realistic. Have to be, however much it hurts.

Jun 4, 2013

RR The Blade Itself: The End

In The End, we're introduced to Logen Ninefingers as he battles for his life. Already. Think you're ready? Then join me as Rocky reads The Blade Itself.

I read that when book editors and publishers are forming their opinion of a book, they give the author, at a maximum, 300 words to have established a character, a setting, and a conflict. And that 300 words is being generous. Some only allow 150 words. If that doesn't happen, the book gets tossed aside and they move on to the next one.

Abercrombie most certainly had nothing to worry about. The End is the prologue of this book (which I think is fantastic, The End. But, it's the beginning. It's before the beginning. Love it), and it starts off fast paced.

When we meet Logen, he's just been separated from his boys (or it's actually also possible that he's one of the boys and got separated from his leader. I'm not positive which, but I think Logen is the leader, and he's missing all his boys now), one of which-- The Dogman-- was with him until two seconds ago. This all happened in the first two sentences. But Logen doesn't have time to try to find anyone, because now he's being hunted by two Shankas-- who sound much like neanderthals.

Holy. This book literally started a paragraph and a half ago, and Logen is already being hunted! He kills the one Shanka who's smaller, then fights with the second much larger Shanka, and they find themselves hanging off a cliff, Logen holding onto nothing but a root, and the Shanka holding onto nothing but Logen's leg. As his hands start slipping, and the Shanka is sitting there still fighting him, Logen decides his best option is to let go, kick out, and try to land in the water below him. The Shanka then lets go of Logen, and falls into the rocks, almost certainly dying, and Logen plummets down to the water, where we're left, not actually sure if he's still alive.

I have questions. Oh man. This was a good intro. First, why is it called The End? The end of what? The end of Logen's life? Is this like, the end of the story, but it was put at the beginning to draw you in and entice you to read? Is it the end of the Shanka? The end of the world? Who is the Dogman? Are the Shanka fighting Logen for any particular reason-- did he provoke them-- or are they just fighting him because he's there? Did Logen live?

I think he lived. Or at least, I'd like to think he lived. Most stories don't start with someone you're supposed to get to know and possibly like, then kill them off. (That said, that's exactly how The Mortal Instruments starts off. You're given two point of view characters, and one of them dies before the chapter ends. Though I guess you were never actually intended to like that particular POV character.) And Logen is someone that I want to like. As he's sitting there, hanging from the root over his doom, he thinks about his life and how worthless it's been. He hasn't improved anyone else's life, he hasn't made a difference. That's his big flaw so far, and now that it's something he's realized, he has the potential to want to change. It's possible that will be the drive for the character from here on-- he wants to make a difference in the world.

This is a good flaw and drive for his character to have, because it's something that people relate to. I can't count the number of times I've said, right here, that I want to change the world and make a difference. And I can't count the number of times someone's agreed with me after I said that. I immediately feel connected to Logen because he has realized that his life hasn't been anything worth bragging about. And though he hasn't actually consciously decided he wants to amend that, I trust that's mostly because he's kinda really likely to die right now. Good start to the book. I look forward to seeing how the rest of it goes, and if Logen, as part of the prologue, will actually be carried through to the rest of the book.

And in case it needs to be said, please don't answer any of my questions. Don't correct my perception on anything I've read yet. Don't even tell me if Logen's the leader or one of the boys.

Once you've got a task to do, it's better to do it than to live with the fear of it.