Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Back to the Basics

"A motion picture, or music, or television, they have to maintain a certain decorum in order to be broadcast to a vast audience. Other forms of mass media cost too much to produce a risk reaching only a limited audience. Only one person. But a book. . . A book is cheap to print and bind. A book is as private and consensual as sex. A book takes time and effort to consume - something that gives a reader every chance to walk away. Actually, so few people make the effort to read that it's difficult to call books a "mass medium." No one really gives a damn about books. No one has bothered to ban a book in decades."

I read this quote the other day (Chuck Palahniuk, of course) and it not only made me laugh but got me to thinking just how accurate it is. I'm even guilty of it myself, as in today's society movies, TV, and music have completely taken over the media medium and books have fallen by the wayside. Since I've moved to Austin, I've had trouble sleeping and found myself being a lot more high strung then I was in Tyler. People have told me this is typical for a transition period, living in a new place, going through the number of changes I have been. So with my free time I've been trying to figure out ways to cure this problem.

Well after I read this it occurred to me what I use to enjoy doing (even though we were more or less force to do it growing up, anyone remember AR points?) which was reading. Having to write multiple 40+ page papers, give multiple 30 minute+ presentations, and take all those tests we had to in college, I hadn't had the time or the desire to read just for my own personal enjoyment. So I picked up my signed copy of Chuck Palahniuk's "Snuff" and have been reading it ever since. I'm almost done, and plan on starting Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" afterwards. It's amazing how much more vivid reading a book can be then seeing a movie in 3D or watching the newest episode of "Lost" or "American Idol" (which for the record I do not watch either, just using them as an example). Reading a well written, thoroughly researched, insightful or entertaining book feels so much more accomplishing then tivo-ing Desperate Housewives.

Now if you don't have the time to read merely for pleasure because you are too busy reading page after page of dribble for your freshman English class or junior biology exam then I completely understand, but I highly recommend that if you get the chance to pick up a book in the near future, that you do it. It's refreshing, enjoyable, and rewarding. It also helps enlarge your vocabulary, which I can say for a lot of people has continually lessened throughout the years. So here is a list of a few of my favorite books, new and old, in case you aren't sure what you want to read once given the opportunity. Some of these you may have been required to read in school at some point, otheres you may have never heard of, but all I highly recommend for one reason or another. Also, a lot of these have been made into movies, and I must say I've yet to ever see a movie that was as good as the book was, just personal opinion.

Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
Island of the Blue Dolphin - Scott O'Dell
Journey to the Centre of the Earth - Jules Verne
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne

Of course the list of books I've read from my favorite author:

1.) Survivor - Chuck Palahniuk
2.) Choke - Chuck Palahniuk
3.) Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
4.) Lullaby - Chuck Palahniuk
5.) Diary - Chuck Palahniuk

(Currently reading Snuff, and so far really enjoying it)

And here is my list of books I plan on reading in the near future (opinions welcome):

Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
Into the Wild - Jon Krakauer
The Autobiography of Malcom X - Anna Haley & Malcom X
Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
The Lord of the Rings Triology - J.R.R. Tolkien
The Space Trilogy - C.S. Lewis
Invisible Monsters - Chuck Palahniuk
Rant - Chuck Palahniuk
Stranger Than Fiction - Chuck Palahniuk
Haunted - Chuck Palahniuk
Pygmy - Chuck Palahniuk
Fugitives and Refugees - Chuck Palahniuk

Monday, February 15, 2010

I am, who I am, who I am, well... who am I?

As I enter this time in life between college and a career, between leaving an old home and making a new one, a place where stereotypically a lot of 20-somethings experience a quarter-life crisis, a lack of an identity, or a forceful and sometimes failing attempt at trying to make a new one, I value certain aspects of my own personality and characteristics of just who I am that define me as a person.

I'm self-aware, self-righteous, self-deprecating, self-indulgent, self-disciplined, self-reliant, and self-absorbed. I'm obsessive compulsive; I make my bed every morning, label my play lists perfectly, color and style coordinate my closet, never leave trash in my car, organize and re-organize my DVDs; most people are surprised I don't have weird breathing exercises or count things multiple times before I can use them. I'm a neat-freak, I take at least two showers a day, wash my hands too much, and brush my teeth just as often. I'm admitably a metro-sexual, which I thank my always fashionable older sister for. I grew up a complete and total mama's boy, and consider my dad my best friend. I have a freakishly good memory, I know the words to probably over 75% of the 3500 songs on my iTunes. I graduated from Tyler Junior College in May of 2007 with an Associates of the Arts degree in Behavioral Science and from The University of Texas at Tyler with a Bachelor in Human Resource Development in December of 2009 with a 3.4, and can honestly say I did both having never studied a day in my life. I consider myself and try continuously to be well informed on political issues, yet I have never voted. I've broken hearts, and had mine broken, and know that both are likely to happen again before it's all said and done. I have no idea what I believe in religiously, and I don't think that makes me a bad person. I'd rather be honest and open than lie to myself or anyone else and be a hypocrite.I love meeting new people, but most of my best friends have been so since I was in grade school. My idols are Lance Armstrong, Michael Jordan, Chuck Palahniuk, Pete Sampras, and yes, Justin Timberlake. I don't like Christmas. I'm not the Grinch or Scrooge (or Satan) and try to ruin anyone else's, I've just never enjoyed the holiday for personal reasons and that's okay. I also hate Valentines Day. I'm an Aries, and I have no idea what that means. I'm an Organ Donor. Not sure that I have any organs anyone will want by the time it's all said and done, but if they want them then by all means take them. I've lost many people close to me too soon, and I realize that life is a precious gift. I try to live everyday to the fullest, and encourage everyone else to do the same.

I'll be 23 in a few weeks, which amazes me, but I have had an amazing life. I've traveled all over the country, met some amazing and interesting people, had some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for, gone through ups and downs, been let down by just about everyone I've ever trusted, but I'm still happy to have the people I do in my life, and to have gotten to do the things I have. I have no idea who I'll be in a year, a decade, another quarter-life, but I do know that I've been incredibly blessed, and that no matter what I'm going to have a positive attitude and be happy with the person I am. Because I always have been, and always will be, true to myself. And at the end of the day, that's really the only thing you can control.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

New Beginnings

Just over a week ago, and for the past 22 years, I was a resident of the Tyler, Texas area. I had a very good life there, amazing friends, a routine, I was comfortable. I knew where everything was, what I could expect everywhere I went, what my day to day would consist of. I now, since last Saturday, live in Austin, Texas. The first time I've not only not lived in or around Tyler, but the first time I've lived completely on my own and by myself. It's an interesting transition to go through. Everyday since I've been here I've done things completely foreign to me. I explore new places everytime I get in the car. I've given change to homeless people, had my first house guests, even had my car towed. This is the most exciting new time in my life. I will always be thankful for the people and memories I left behind in Tyler, and I will never forget them. But I am so thankful to be where I am, living out my dream of moving to a place where it doesn't matter how much your parents make, or what church you go to, or what you do or don't believe in general about religion, politics, life. It makes me realize that there are so many amazing people in Tyler who aren't living to their fullest potential being stuck in a close-minded place that doesn't allow them to grow and experiment and test their own ideals and ideas on what all there is out there to see and do and experience and enjoy. And no, I'm not saying that everyone from Tyler is close-minded, because I know so many people there who aren't (like me), I'm just speaking in generalities about what most people from that area already know and most likely agree with me on, that it's not always an easy place to be when you don't naturally conform to the so-called "norm" and/or majority. So my advice to anyone who cares to hear it is don't be afraid to take risks, sometimes it's not about where you land in the end but the journey you took to get there. I have no idea what I'll be doing in 6 months, 6 days, 6 hours, but I know that I'm making the best of it with what I have. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Don't be afraid to be yourself, who you really want to be, not what you think people want you to be. Anyways, thats enough of me projecting my own thoughts onto other people. Take them for what you want. Just know that this thing we have called life is a gift and an amazing one at that, so don't waste it.