NaBloPoMo is (Finally) Coming to an End

Whew! NaBloPoMo is coming to an end tomorrow and as much as I enjoyed the experience, I do have to admit, I am glad it’s over. I did learn a lot though, both about writing, and surprisingly, about myself.

First thing I learned was that posting everyday is not for me. I’m not sure if that’s because I am new to writing or because I just like to take my time. I like to think the idea over in my head and write a draft or two before I post. Having a time crunch forced to me post some things that I didn’t feel were ready for the world to see. I do think a lot of that was because I am new to all of this and I wonder if I were a better writer and blogger if maybe my content would not have been better.

Writing everyday felt a bit stressful but I think if I had prepared myself more I might have had an easier time of it, even being as new as I am. I should have written down some ideas ahead of time and maybe even got some outlines done. That way I could’ve written a few posts of with a bit more substance than, say, general updates on my life.

In the past week I have written a long list of post ideas and most will be tending toward the longform side of things, 1000 to 1500 words or more. Because of that I do expect that my posting frequency will drop conciderably. I am hoping for 4 or 5 days a week for now, maybe less, but that does not mean I won’t be writing everyday, just means I will be editing more.

I’ve also learned that inpsiration really is more about where your mind is then it does about where your body is. Within the first week or two of NaBloPoMo I began to think that because my life was boring at the moment that there would be a serious shortage of ideas to writie about. Turns out that isn’t true at all. I know I said my post weren’t as great as I had hoped they would be but I was able to do it everyday. I was able to come up with SOMETHING and I think that is more than a lot of people could do.

What I learned was that just sitting down to type and playing some good music to help you focus could go a long way. Just keep typing about whatever pops into your head and eventually something worth exploring will come to that surface. If you are having a particularly hard time drink some coffee and turn the music up louder. If you stil can’t think of anything, try alcohol. I guarantee the ideas will start flowing then!

I also learned that I prefer to write either early in the morning or late at night. I also learned that I like sitting at a desk more than on the couch or in the bed. The spare bedroom in our house is the best place because there is no TV in there to distract me. And I learned how to type around people who are uncomfortable with your silence and focus and want to talk to you even though they see you are busy. I eventually learned how to get them to leave you alone too.

I learned that my girlfriend is amazing and very supportive of my writing. There were many days when i felt I just wasn’t in the mood and she pushed me and reminded me that I would hate myself in the morning if I didn’t get some kind of writing done. She listened to all my blogging ideas and complaints and never once made me feel stupid or dorky. She even told me she believes I really should be a writer! That meant the world to me.

All in all it was a good thing. In fact, in spite of the stress and difficulty I plan on doing it again next year! It really was fun and I am proud of myself for getting through it. I encourage all bloggers to give it a try. You will learn something about yourself, I promise you that!

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Black Friday Ain’t So Bad!

I have never participated in the craziness that is Black Friday before. I love shopping and I love getting a good deal but I hate crowds and chaos and Black Friday looked like nothing but crowds and chaos. Then me and my girlfriend got to thinking, we needed a couple of big ticket and we neede to save some money on those items so we decided to join the masses this year.

Normally we spend the day after Thanksgiving resting and recuperating from the stress leading up to the holiday. This morning we woke up at 5 AM, the same time I would be getting up for work if I had to go in today. We got up and I stumbled to the coffee machine, I knew I would need the caffeine. I didn’t plan on being out long but this was Black Friday and everything I had read about the day told me I needed to be prepared for anything.

Turns out though that it wasn’t horrible or crazy at all. Borning I know but since stores are starting the deals Thanksgiving night there wasn’t much of a mad rush this morning. We started out at Target. One of the big purchases we needed to make was for a new TV and I had heard rumors that Target had them for $200! Our old one is 6 or 7 years old and starting to crap out. We got to Target at about 6:30 AM and we were immediatly told by the associate in electronics that all the best deals had been sold out the night before. He said some had been gon as early as 6 PM! I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated.

So then we decided to see what Best Buy had. We planned on going there anyway because the other big purchase we needed to make was for a new camera. We actually don’t have one at all right now but we are tired of documenting precious memories on our cell phones. We got to Best Buy at about 7:15 and saw there was a line forming outside. Apperently Best Buy had been open until 1 AM Thankgiving night but was not opening early on Black Friday. This makes no sense to me but whatever, we grabbed a sale ad and got in line. They were going to open at 8.

The whole expierience there was a bit confusing. There was a cop pacing outside which made me a bit nervous. Then employees kept walking down the line asking us what items we were there for. Not because they could hold anything for us but because they just wanted to get a count of how many people wanted what items. Then they told us that there was color coded lines and in we were there for TV’s to get in the green line, for computers and laptops get in the yellow line, and for cameras and what-not get in the red line. No one followed the line thing.

The people in line with us seemed to be Black Friday pros and were very anxious to get inside. The chatted away amongst each other about where else they had been and what they hoped to buy. Many of them had even been shopping the night before, some had even been at that very Best Buy!

They kept asking every employee who walked out how many of this TV or that laptop were left. I got more and more irritated as opening time approached. They would find out in just a few minutes what was in stock and what wasn’t! We got in and once again a lot of the deals were sold out already but in the end we did find our TV and our camera and we did get a good deal on both.

Afterwards we decided to do something a bit more fun so we went back to Target and bought a nice new Christmas tree. We usually don’t put one up but this year I’d like for us to start. I just hope our cats don’t go too crazy. We only bought a few ornaments because I imagine they are going to destroy the tree everyday until I can’t take it anymore and take the damn thing down. I plan to keep my reciept, the tree wasn’t cheap.

By the time we were done with all of that we were very hungry and tired so we decided to go eat breakfast and then head home to nap. We ordered matching omelets and white peach mimosas and talked about the ideaof having children one day. The holidays aren’t as fun when you don’t have a little version of yourself to share it all with. But that’s a topic for another post on another day.

Today was about starting a new tradition, a tradtion of spending a little time shopping and the rest just hanging out and setting up the tree….for the cats to play with. Also this tradition includes moderate amounts of tasty alcoholic drinks. I recommend eggnog and a bit of rum!

The Customary List of Things I Am Thankful For

Earlier I wrote about the real history of Thanksgiving and while I do hate this holiday for all the reasons I stated in that post, I can’t help but also think of the other meaning of this holiday. Thanksgiving is also about family and being thankful for everything you have….right before you go fight to the death shopping to get each other more stuff!

Normally the holidays are not a happy time for me. When I was growing up they never went very well. When you grow up in a dysfunctional family the holidays do nothing but amplify that dysfunction and remind you that you will never have a normal home life. In my family the holidays meant my mother slowly getting more and more frustrated throughout the day until my step-father finally pushed her too far and a fight broke out. The fight usually resulted in my step-father leaving to go drink somewhere with friends. My own father wasn’t even around.

As an adult though every year those memories fade a little more and newer, happier memories are made. My family is bigger now and a little less dysfunctional. My girlfriend and I, while we don’t have any kids, still feel like we are own little family and we take time to celebrate a portion of the holidays with only each other. This helps to relieve some stress and it gives us time to enjoy and appreciate each other.

I also have my siblings, who are older now and can have a say about how the holidays are celebrated. We are no longer small children who have to sit by and watch as our parents allow their emotions to get in the way of spending a nice day amongst family. Now we can decide what happens and we can make it good for the members of our family who are going to be shaped by the memories we make with them now.

We aren’t going to be spending Thanksgiving together this year because me and one of my sisters have decided to spend it with our in-laws. This way we can all be together for Christmas. This is how we do it every year and we alternate. Next year both of us will spend Thanksgiving with our own family and Christmas with our in-laws.

I will be missing them this year and when I think about what I am thankful for, family is at the top of the list! I know I talk a lot about how dysfunctional and crazy they are I do love so, so much. We have all been through so much and we have survived and we are all stronger and better for it. There really are now words for the pride I feel in the way my family has continually made it through hardship after hardship and still comes out with nothing but love and forgiveness for each other. They are nothing short of amazing.

After that I am thankful for my amazing girlfriend. She my best friend, the love of my life, and the center of my whole universe. If it weren’t for her I’m not sure I would be here. She saved me in more ways than one and she continues to save me everyday. She has loved me at my worst and when I least deserved it. This past year with her has been amazing and I only see us getting better and better. I am thankful I have her in my life and I am thankful she loves me back.

Of course I am also thankful for everything I have in life. I am thankful for the job I have, it pays well and it makes me feel like I am doing a tiny bit of good in the world. I am thankful for the roof over my head, I am also thankful that it is my roof. I am thankful for the food in my fridge. I am thankful I make enough money to be able to not only have all that food but to be able to make heathy food choices that cost a bit more.

And finally I am thankful for everything I have had the opportunity to learn and do this year. I am thankful that I was able to start this blog and learn so much about writing that I never knew. Now I have a place to express myself and also read the expressions of others. I am thankful that I was able to learn and re-learn so much of the math I forgot or was never taught. I know now that I am smart and that I can do things I set out to do.

I am thankful I have so much to look forward to in the future. I am thankful that I have so much to be thankful for! It has been a good year and I expect that it will end very happily in a month or so. I am thankful for that too.

I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you have plenty to be thankful for. And if you are participating in the national past time that is “Black Friday” I wish you the best of luck in that too!

The Real Thanksgiving Isn’t So Happy

Thanksgiving to me has always felt like one of the most, excuse my language, bullshit holidays there ever was, right up behind Columbus day.

Every year I watch as my family and fellow Americans conveniently forget that there was a whole race of people who didn’t benefit from the colonization of the Americas. We like to tell ourselves that this holiday is about pilgrims and Native Americans coming together to share food and be besties and how that was some sort of beginning to a “happily ever after” I believe we ALL know that is a whole lot of bullshit and lies.

Thanksgiving:
A day that epitomizes how wonderful it is to be a gluttonous, fat, lazy American. A day to sit on stolen land eating food we may have never discovered and watch a sport that was copied from the very shores our ancestors so readily fled. Also conveniently situated on a Thursday, meaning most people end up with a 4-day weekend.

– Urban Dictionary definition for Thanksgiving

As little kids the myth of Columbus and the pilgrims and the Native Americans all sitting down to have a nice meal and give thanks to each other is drilled into us repeatedly. As are a lot of myths and lies about history. The truth is this holiday is about the celebration of the safe return of (white) men who went to fight Native Americans. That battle resulted in the killing and enslavement of over 700 men, women, and children! Think about that when you carve into that turkey this evening.

“A day of Thanksgiving, thanking God that they had eliminated over 700 men, women and children.” It was signed into law that, “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots.”

The Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, in 1937 after the killing of the Pequot tribe in Mystic Connecticut

For me, at best this holiday is about the white washing of history and the continued denial of the wrongs done to a whole race of people. At worst this holiday is a celebration of the European invasion which resulted in Native Americans having their lives, their land, and their culture stolen from them. I find it offensive and distasteful and I am ashamed that the whole country just that the genocide of millions of it’s native people’s never happened.

But please do not misunderstand me, I don’t want to get rid of Thanksgiving. What I want to do is change the way we celebrate it. Most people don’t know this but today is also celebrated as a National Day of Mourning. For the past 45 years, Native American and supporters have gathered in Plymouth to honor those who died and raise awareness to the problems still face by Native Americans today.

I propose we all do away with the myths of the past and instead make Thanksgiving about remembering and honoring the people who were here before us. I think we should use this day to remember that America’s history is violent, and bloody, and cruel but it is the true history and we dishonor a whole race of people, who have already been, and continue to be, victimized and devastated when we forget that. When we willfully and quite happily erase their pain and perpetuate myths.

So today, spend time with your family, eat a delicious meal, and remember that there were people who lived on this land before you. Remember that they were murdered and enslaved and forgotten. Remember that their descendants are alive and have to live knowing what they know about the true events of history and knowing they will never have their ancestors land back. Remember them today.

Thanksgiving:
The day white people celebrate being thankful for the land stolen from NATIVE Americans. A day soon to be stolen from everyone by Walmart.
Let us Native Americans be thankful for the white mans food stamps; so we can eat on this day of thanksgiving. Let us also remember the land that we once fed our families from.

– Urban Dictionary definition for Thanksgiving

A Fragile Freedom From Nicotine

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Tomorrow will mark two weeks exactly that I have been free from cigarettes. I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been the easiest thing. The only reason I was able to quit was because I got so sick and couldn’t smoke. Luckily I had enough will power to not smoke after I felt better but even that was mostly due to fear of setting off another coughing fit.

Now I am feeling much better and I find it easier everyday not to smoke. All my coworkers do and in the past that has been the hardest part about trying to quit. At work I am alone a lot because everyone is outside smoking and laughing and having wonderful conversation. In the past I would sit by myself and feel bitter that I was not only hurting from nicotine withdrawal, but also all alone. Being lonely like that for 8 to 12 hours a day can be so hard. I feel like non-smokers will never understand how hard it is to go from having a close group of smoker friends, to being alone and watching them continue to have fun without you everyday.

Thankfully, this time has been different and a little easier. So far I have been ok with being by myself while everyone goes out to smoke. I think this is actually due to my mood turning much more serious and me moving towards being more introverted. That is all due to the weather turning cold and drab. I hate the winters so much and I find it easier to be by myself while my moods are fragile and quickly turn irritable and angry. So, I’m not much in the mood for socializing the way I am when the weather is sunnier and warm. So being inside and writing or listening to music while the others leave to go freeze and poison themselves is fine by me at the moment.

But the feeling of boredom still crops up here and there. In the past I gave in to the craving because of those feelings of boredom and afterwards I would feel low and guilty for having poisoned my body further because I was bored. I felt pathetic.

In my defense though, being bored is a hard emotion to deal with when you have no idea how to deal with it. Boredom, to me, feels a lot like loneliness, and loneliness can hurt like a physical pain. I read somewhere once that boredom is the desire for desires and nicotine numbs the desire and the pain of not being fulfilled. Nicotine gives you something to do and when you have something to do you feel ok. Now, thanks to this blog, I finally have something to do that makes me feel almost as good as nicotine. I say almost because I still have cravings, even when I’m writing.

The cravings are manageable now though. I just tell myself “I know you want to smoke, but I’m sorry but you just can’t”. Saying that makes it ok to want to smoke, but, like a store clerk who has to refuse a customer a discount or a return, my hands are tied. I tell myself there is nothing I can do about the fact that I can’t smoke because the decision came from higher up. I shrug and say I’m sorry but I don’t make the rules.

So at just about two weeks smoke free I have learned that the best way to quit is to start by catching a nasty cold. Preferably cold that comes with a harsh and sometimes violent cough. That way every time you even try to smoke your body will automatically let you know that you are stupid because you will be in incredible pain.

After that you have to have a good bout of cold weather that makes you feel generally in a grouchy and makes you not want to be around other people. Then you have to find something to do that makes you feel good in place of nicotine. And finally after all of that you have to take to yourself like you are a child and just act as if, sadly, smoking is just not an option.

That is the Lisa plan to get you nicotine free in two weeks!

Things I Needed Today

I needed someone to let me know it’s ok to make mistakes. I know that I mess up. I make more than my fair share of mistakes but everyday I try to be better. Sometimes, even when I am wrong, I want for someone to just tell me it’s ok. I want someone to say that they see me trying and it is all forgiven and forgotten. It seems like I only ever get yelled at and reminded about how much I mess up. We all make mistakes but it seems like mine pile up on top of one another until I feel like I’ll be crushed under the weight of it all.

I needed for people to let go of their own feelings and hear my side of it. I try to tell people about how I feel but they only take it personally and get defensive. I am often told why I shouldn’t feel the way I do or what I should’t have done in the forst place that madde the other person do whatever it was that made me feel whatever I do. If I had only not said that or done that or given that look then everything would be fine. I wish someone would just hug me and say they understand and they see that I am hurting.

More than anything, I needed to get away! I wish I could find a place where I could be alone and be sad.I am always somewhere where it is inapproriate to feel things. I need time to feel and express my emotions and I need to do it away from other people who may judge me. I need a place where I can let it all out! I need a place to sob and cry and I also need a place for anger and screaming. I imagine a sort of cave, out away from civilization, and place in nature, where I can be both good and bad. Only out there in nature there is no good or bad, I would just be who I am and there would be no one to tell me to be different.

I guess we all need these things sometimes. I think maybe I just had a bad day today and everything has gotten to me. I hope maybe tomorrow will be better and I won’t need quite so much.

Some Quick Thoughts on the Ferguson Decision

I was supposed to write a post about how I wanted to improve and be more positive this week, like I do every Monday, but this Monday was special. This Monday we all watched and waited for the decision from the Grand Jury on whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missori.

So all day I thought about that and couldn’t write anything. I thought about Mike Brown and what might have been going through his head in those final moments. I thought about Darren Wilson and wondered where he might be and what he might be feeling about all of this. I thought about Mike Brown’s poor family and what the decision would mean for them and their piece of mind. I thought about what the reactions would be tonight whatever way the decision might go. Most of all, I thought about what all of this meant for my country in the coming days and weeks.

Then just a few hours ago it was finally announced that there would be no indictment. I feel so many things right now and it’s hard for me to put it all into words. I can honestly say I’m not surprised, but for some reason I still felt a bit of shock when I heard it. I think I want to hear more of the evidence now that it should be released to the public but I can’t help wondering how it is that an unarmed teenager is killed by a cop and there was NOTHING excessive about it. Just doesn’t seen right.

I guess I’m unsure about whether or not I believed the Grand Jury had come to the right decision. I generally don’t trust our justice system I can’t help thinking that just because they will not charge him does not mean he is innocent. It doesn’t mean what he did was right and it doesn’t mean that our system isn’t broken!

I am closely following what is going on across the country through news outlets and social media. Within a couple of hours many protests have broken out and things may be escalating and turning violent, especially in Ferguson. Now all I am thinking about are all those people out there who are angry and hurt and who feel the system has failed them. I am worried about them tonight. I feel for them and hope they succeed in having their voices heard.

My thoughts are with you tonight Ferguson. Stay strong and stay safe!