Thursday, July 14, 2011

Self-imposed blog exile until August

In the interest of doing well on my upcoming Graduate Record Exam (GRE), I have decided (reluctantly) to exile myself from blogging and working on my stories until after my test date on August 6. I parted with quite a bit of money for a shot at this exam, and I need to obtain a pretty damn good score to get into the psychology graduate programs I've been looking at. I've found it increasingly difficult to sit down and study diligently for the GRE due to the abundance of plot bunnies multiplying in my head.

On one hand, my creative flow is much like the fluctuating nature of the tide. Right now it's at maximum capacity, so I can churn out blog posts and story chapters without feeling like I'm trying to single-handedly drag a moose up a mountain (in other words, I don't have to try so hard). On the other hand, I REALLY don't want to take this exam more than once, mostly because I'm not fond of standardized tests and their costs (which took a chunk out of my food funds).

Also, it's pitting me against the subject I detest the most: mathematics. The last time I took a math course was during my freshman year of college (only because it was a requirement to graduate), and it really was a waste of time since I never had to use it again in my daily life. And now I have to delve right back into it to do well on an exam that will gain me entry into a graduate program that will have nothing to do with mathematics. Except statistics for research studies, but that's a small blip.

It's not so much being unable to do it as it is being unwilling to do it. I can complete math problems below the college calculus level if I refresh my memory enough, but I become fairly hostile while working equations. Especially graphs. I grow very angry for no apparent reason other than the possibility that the sight of graph problems has become a conditioned stimulus for my wrath. This stems back to high school, where I was thrown placed into an advanced algebra class against my will, and in my frustration and resentment, my brain developed a powerful immunity against quantitative reasoning.

Point being, I need to take the rest of the month to work through all the math in my study book because it's going to be a long and tedious (and agonizing) process, and I can't afford to distract myself with more appealing subjects, such as writing and literature. Even history, a subject I've always been neutral toward and admittedly bored with, has better chances of holding my attention at this point.

But as soon as I complete the GRE, I'll be back. I had a line of blog entries in the queue for posting, including one about my sister (since we recently celebrated her birthday) and one featuring my real life tea beverage recipes. They'll have to wait until my exile lifts and I can come back, free from mathematics (hopefully for another few years).

-J. S. Blancarte

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tourists are beach-obsessed zombies on Independence Day weekend

First of all...Happy 4th of July, everyone! Secondly...dear God! It appears that a good chunk of the U.S. population has decided to swarm the Emerald Coast to become gas-guzzling, highway-clogging, beach house-renting, moped-riding, umbrella-toting, seashell-hoarding, ICEE-chugging, swimsuit-squeezing, sunburn-wearing zombies!

The other day I was driving from Destin to Panama City to visit my old college roommate. What should have been a simple hour-long trip turned into two and a half hours of attempting to maneuver around endless vehicles carting wide-eyed tourists as they gawked in awe at the ocean, effectively halting the flow of traffic.

While inching along a particularly congested section of the highway in Panama City, I witnessed a multitude of interesting scenes. I passed by a very rotund man balancing himself rather impressively on a bright pink moped on the opposite lane. Several sets of aggravated parents dragged their screaming spawn across the road in front of my car. Temporarily docile gang members littered the sides of the highway, posing shirtless atop their dilapidated vehicles (I'm not entirely certain what they hoped to achieve by that, but to me it looked like an all-male red light district in broad daylight).

To make matters worse, I realized I'd missed my ex-roommate's street. I blanched at the idea of a U-turn, considering that the opposite lane was now as stuck as mine was and angry tourists were beginning to honk expletives at each other. Sure enough, it took me another half hour to reach a traffic light where I could escape the chaotic scenic route. I took a left at the light and followed the new road to a less busy parallel highway, on which the locals and other remaining sane people drove.

After speaking to my ex-roommate on the phone for back road directions, I finally made it to her house in one piece. Once she opened the door, I believe my greeting to her was, "Do you realize your town is being overrun by horrifying vacationing zombies otherwise known as tourists?"

Apparently, this was a normal occurrence during Independence Day weekend. I imagined Destin to be in a similar situation, and I was just glad I wouldn't be mauled while attempting to find a parking spot at the beach (some of the tourists from landlocked states, such as Kentucky and Utah, seemed to go rabid once they crossed the Florida border).

My ex-roommate and I spent the day catching up, then I ventured back to Destin the next morning. The drive back was notably faster and less eventful, although a Saturn from Texas dared to cut me off, to which I yelled, "Impudent zombie, I will cackle as I drive past your flashing hazard lights when your vehicle breaks down on the side of the road, thereby cutting you off from your uncontrollable thirst for beach-lounging!"


I spent the 4th of July itself on the pier at Okaloosa Island to watch the fireworks show in Fort Walton Beach. The view was excellent, and I could even see fireworks in Navarre and Gulf Breeze in the far distance. My camera is nothing short of crappy at capturing nighttime sequences, but I have a clip of part of the show.

Definitely made up for the sand-and-sun zombie fest!

-J. S. Blancarte