16 Things I Did and Learned in 2016

It seems strange to think that a year ago tomorrow I made my first post on this blog. According to my count, this is my 41st post, though I might be wrong. I tend to get sidetracked while counting. While I did not manage a post every week, I apparently only missed 11 (I think), so I’m going to call this New Year’s resolution a success!

This year has had all kinds of ups and downs, so I will be calling this post…

DRUM ROLL PLEASE


16 Things I Did and Learned in 2016!

  1. Travel every chance you get. I’m normally quite devoted to my own little patch of Maine life, and I hadn’t gone beyond Boston since I was 7. This year, I took a travel course to Newfoundland, which was filled with hiking, camping, and a ton of time spent looking at rocks. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I also ended up driving to New York with my friends, Billy and Judy (the cutest couple ever, I might add), to visit our friend, Dawn. This was my first ever time driving out of state (though oddly enough, I had driven in Canada during my travel course), and my first time traveling beyond Boston in 14 years. Bottom line: TRAVEL!
  2. Plants make you happy. Plants clean the air. Plants keep you responsible. Plants make it look like you have your life together. I have a ton of plants, and sometimes I can actually convince my friend’s and family that my life is in order. If you can’t keep plants alive, I suggest and aloe plant or a Christmas cactus. If even these seem too daunting, I recommend investing in a convincing fake plant. It’ll be our little secret.
  3. Don’t cling to a mistake, no matter how much effort you put into making it. I know this bit is a tad confusing, so let me fill you in. Back in September, I ended a relationship I had been in for over a year and a half. For some reason, I was blind to all the lies this individual had told me. My friends and family had warned me and pointed out the inconsistencies in his stories since we had first started dating, but I had turned a deaf ear. I just wanted to see the best in him, but eventually, the constant lying became so unbearable that I had to notice it. And it hurt more than I thought it could. This person, who I thought cared about me, couldn’t even bring himself to tell me the simple truth. So, I ended things. It was one of the most liberating experiences of my life, regardless of how hard it was to come to that conclusion. Now, I’m enjoying being myself and not having to worry about what is a lie and what is not. This is one mistake I’m glad to be rid of.
  4. Pay for the people behind you. My latest obsession is paying for the people behind me at toll booths along the Interstate. I don’t like paying for people behind me at drive-throughs only because I try to be careful with money, and you never know when the person behind you ordered $20 worth of burritos. Find some kind of act of kindness that works for you and make it a habit. It will make you feel like a good person.
  5. Try a new workout. My first big activity this year was Skype workouts with my lady friends. Judy, the tiny fitness guru that she is, decided to convince the lot of us to try some Tone It Up workouts. Since none of us really lived close to the others at the time (spring semester), and none of us had any motivation, we decided to work out via skype. It was a blast. Unfortunately, we stopped after I left for Newfoundland. We are planning on picking it back up again next year though! I also picked up racquetball for a while. I loved it. Unfortunately, the people I play with have rearranged their priorities and no longer want to play against me (looking at you, Pa, Sam, and Alex). Another new activity for me was longboarding. I had learned a little about it from an ex who owned a long board way back when, but I hadn’t had one of my own to practice with until this year. I quickly learned to skate back and forth to class and school as well as all over the local fair grounds and even a biking/walking trail in town. Next challenge: learn to stop effectively and maybe survive a big hill without getting pebbled lodged grotesquely far under the skin of my palm…
  6. No matter how hopeless things get, just keep on trucking it; kind of like a tank. This is my senior year of college. All I have left between me and my degree is one semester of student teaching. There were a lot of times when I didn’t think I could make it through this degree for a variety of reasons (stress, less-than-enjoyable professors, life problems, etc.), but I just kept moving forward no matter how hopeless it seemed. my theme song for times like these has become “If You’re Going through Hell” by Rodney Atkins, specifically for the lyrics “If you’re going through Hell / Keep on going, don’t slow down / If you’re scared, don’t show it. / You might get out before the evil even knows you’re there.” Just remember to keep on going.
  7. Brag. Yeah, we all know that one person on Facebook who only ever talks about their accomplishments, but bragging about the good things in your life or the challenges you have overcome allows you to express the joy that comes with accomplishments, By expressing it, you are validating yourself, and that is important. Just don’t be a jerk about it. Don’t rub your accomplishments in the faces of those less fortunate than you. Don’t go commenting on other people’s posts about how hard/great life is (looking at you, moms who say things like “just wait ‘til you have kids…” on other peoples’ posts). Don’t turn success into a competition, and don’t undermine the accomplishments of others. Celebrate together!
  8. Keep a blog. Starting and maintaining this blog has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. So just do it. Make it about anything. Tell me about it so I can go read it. Do it now.
  9. Spoil yourself. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Take some time to soak in a hot bath. Buy yourself and ice cream cone. Take a day off and just watch Netflix. Take a drive to some place you haven’t been to yet. Do something that is just for you. It will help you remember that, when it seems like the world is out to get you, you can always count on yourself.
  10. Spoil those you love. This one is easy, too. Do something nice for the people you care about most every now and then. Take them out to eat or to see a movie. Send a letter or even a heart-felt Facebook message. Put some extra thought into their birthday present or make them something unique. Do something nice for the people you love. You never know when they will need a reminder of how much you care.
  11. Pick up a new hobby. This year, I learned to play Magic the Gathering, Alex (yet another of my closest friends) decided that he was going to teach me to play, and so I learned. It is a card game that requires a distinct amount of cognitive activities. First, there is the order of actions you have to do during your turn. Then there is how to play each card and whether or not that card is actually useful in your situation. You also have to consider the way the cards in your deck interact with one another. You can’t forget to pay attention to how your cards interact with the cards your opponent has played (can I kill them? can they stop me from killing them? wha…). Finally, you have to be aware of the gloating grin that forms when the other player is about to annihilate you. Confused? Me too.
  12. Take pictures with your friends. This isn’t really something I’ve learned or done this year. It’s more of a massive hint to my friends to let me shove them inside the photo booths at the mall because I want more pictures of us being silly together and the photo strips you get from the booths are so much cuter than a selfie on Facebook. Everyone who has gone to a mall with me and not taken pictures in a photo booth with me really needs to. Or else.
  13. Start a book club. I apparently did this on accident by bringing an old series of books (memoirs, really) into my house. My father got his hands on them, and now my entire road is trying to borrow them. I recently started reading the first one. I recommend them, assuming you can get your hands on a copy. The series is “At the Old Farm” by C. A. Stevens. It chronicles the many adventures of a group of cousins who all ended up living on their grandfather’s farm in Saco, Maine. The first book, when Life was Young, was published in 1912, but the events all took place much earlier than that. Find a book that the people around you can all enjoy (family, neighbors, friends, etc.), and start a book club.
  14. Love and be loyal. This year has brought some challenges for me and my closest friends. Between stressors in our personal lives and conflicts that have occurred between us, my friendships have seemed a little rocky at times. However, we never let that break us apart. I won’t go into details since that is none of your business, but I will say this: don’t give up on those who haven’t given up on you. When someone had proven that they would have your back even when your world is falling apart, you have to learn to get past whatever challenges your friendship. When a friend (or family member) has shown that they are in it for the long haul, it is up to both of you to get past it. You could spend a lifetime regretting losing one of the best people you have ever known, or you can spend a day or two resenting some disagreement you had or a mistake they made. Get over it because you may never find another person who will have your back the way they did.
  15. Don’t write a post with a preset number of comments. Seriously. This is so hard. I always just pick the number after I have done the writing. This “16 Things” crap is not worth it. The things I do for you readers! ;P
  16. Be kind. Avoid being rude to people (yes, even the server who forgot to bring you extra mustard). You don’t have to say the mean things that you want to (unless they really deserve it). Remember, you can be a sassy person without letting your words destroy others. Hold doors, give compliments, and smile when someone does something kind for you.

Well, that’s all for this year, folks! I hope you enjoyed the mumbles from this puffin (why yes, I did just reference my blog title), and please feel free to join me for more random and hopefully-entertaining posts in the coming year!

Here’s some Mariah Carey to jazz up your New Years!

I hope your 2017 is just as fabulous as you are!

 

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Christmas Traditions

Hello everyone!

This is my second-to-last post of 2016! Things have been crazy in my house as we prep for Christmas, the holiday of choice for my family. The only reason I have the chance to write this blog post is because I have locked myself in a room and conveniently been forgotten about by my family… for now.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite Christmas traditions!

1. Decorating. In my family, I am the only one who really feels any joy in decorating for the holidays. Because of this, it is my job to hang over 90 feet of icicle lights along the roof, set up the outdoor ornaments, set up and decorate the tree, handle any decoration requests from my family, and perform any necessary repairs on the decorations. Notable decorating adventures this year included: climbing on the roof to hang large Christmas balls and lights for the first time instead of moving a ladder along the side of the house (so much easier); completely dissecting and rewiring the outdoor angel pig my family is in love with (it was like an elaborate organ transplant and took about as long); and almost having a totally normal Christmas tree.

15609193_1387348377955892_1290297463_o2. The Abnormal Christmas Tree. Because I am the primary decorator in my household, I sometimes experience a degree of spite when it comes to my decorating duties. This is especially pertinent to the Christmas tree. This, combined with the vortex of twisted creativity that swirls through my mind, results in some… nontraditional presentations of the yearly tree. Please note that we are not allowed to have anything other than a tree cut from the woods behind out home for Christmas. This year, we were actually going to have a normal tree. With no strange or spiteful twists. My father decided to help me cut down a very large tree to harvest the bushy top for our Christmas tree. All was going according to plan until the top of that tree collided with a tiny cluster of saplings in the large clear area we chose to drop the tree into. The back side of my tree has been shaved.

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This is the front of the tree…

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And this is the view from the side. You can see that all the lower branches along the back have been sheered off…

3. Holiday Garments. I have had the same Santa hat for as long as I can remember. I stuffed a jingle bell into the tip of it when I was very young. Ever since then, I have only added to my Christmas costume. It now consists of a festive sweater, holiday-pattern leggings, and more jingle bells than any sane person should wear at one time. The other notable holiday accessory is my father’s singing and dancing hat. We found out early this morning that his old hat—a Santa hat with antlers that would ounce up and down while blaring “Grandma got Run Over by a Reindeer”—was no longer capable of movement. Thankfully, my mother managed to find a candy cane-striped elf hat that flings its tip around while blaring “Peppermint Twist.” While it is not the same, it will suffice in the absence of the reindeer hat.

4. Family Christmas Party. Like any other family, we have a family Christmas party where my aunts, uncles, and a selection of cousins and family friends gather for food and general merriment. There is usually a game to be played, and this year, my mother and I have planned it. As I am posting this before the Christmas party, and I have family who read my blog (thank goodness for those tolerant souls), I will not disclose the nature of the game. However, I will try to leave a comment explaining it after the festivities has passed. I simply cannot wait to have my loved ones here! And to stuff my face…

5. Friendsmas. Basically the same as any other Christmas party, but open to my squad and our friends. This year, we are inviting more people than last year, and having tacos! I have also taken the liberty of procuring a fun holiday game for my friends to play. Again, it is a surprise, so I will try to post what it was in the comments after Christmas.

6. Christmas at Midnight (or Whenever). My all-time favorite Christmas tradition also happens to be the one that has been around the longest. Ever since I could remember, my family has celebrated Christmas at Midnight (or Whenever). The only rules are that we have to be asleep until 12:01 Christmas morning and that we can have no alarms set. This means that whenever we wake up Christmas morning, we get to dive head first into our stockings and start tearing open whatever gifts we have received. Yes, my family is really just made up of a bunch of over-grown children, wince my younger brother is 19 this year… Regardless, it is an amazing experience. My favorite thing about this event is that we are not told to “go back to bed.” The excitement of waking up Christmas morning is never put off and dulled by waiting until 7am. We are allowed to feel that innocent and childish glee as soon as we open our eyes. And that glee is felt by everyone. My 19 year old bother, 21 year old me, our parents, and even my aunt who usually drives over as soon as we call her Christmas morning. The magic of Christmas lives in my family because we all feel that same joy at the same time. I recommend you try it.


Well, those are a few of my favorite Christmas traditions. Sorry for not having anything fresh and creative for you to read, but I am just too excited about having my family and friends together to focus on anything besides the good feelings that fly around during the holiday season!

I will attempt to have a regular, less holiday-ish post either nest Saturday or the first Saturday of the New Year.

So, wherever you and whatever you celebrate this time of year, I hope you feel this holiday magic just as strongly as I do!

Eye Glass Horror on a Snowy Day (and Other Misadventures of Me)

Well, it is snowing here in Maine. We have gotten several inches since this morning. Being trapped in my house means that I have no creativity for this blog post, so I will describe the terror of having your glasses fall apart when you are, for all intents and purposes, blind and useless. I will also update you on my recent life.

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It all started this morning as I was exiting the bathroom. I reached up to adjust my glasses, and a lens that has been popping out (usually in controlled environments, such as while I was cleaning it) fell to the floor and disappeared. My mother helped me find it, and then she decided it was an optimal time to have my father try to fix it…

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(AF=as fudge)

So began my adventures as a helpless and blind-ish individual. Of course, I chronicled this experience on Snapchat.

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After about 5 minutes of no glasses, my eyes decided they hated the strain of trying to make sense of the world around me and rebelled by starting a headache. My  was still hard at work trying to fix the one thing that keeps me functional.

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Unfortunately, he dropped one of the very small screw that holds my lenses in my frames. So began a hunt of epic, yet micro, proportions.

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As the snap suggests, I was totally useless when it came to finding the screw. All I could do was watch the blurry shapes of my parents as they tried to find that microscopic and annoying piece of metal. I was worried I would have to be blind for the foreseeable because I didn’t know where my spare glasses were…

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As you can tell, this was quite the emotional experience for me.

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My mother had a collection of different-sized screws that broke open in her purse. Thankfully, they managed to round up a few. It was just a matter of waiting for my dad to test them and find the right size…

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Of course, there was the possibility of not having glasses that functioned. My mind began wandering. I think a seeing-eye parrot would be pretty cool.

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My loving father managed to fit a crew into my glasses. The lens is still at risk of falling out, but at least it’ staying in place for now. Thank goodness for awesome parents! (Love you guys)


Now, a quick update on my life. Not that you asked for it, but sometimes I like to think my readers care about my mundane adventures.

I have finished my last fall semester at college. This included several papers, a massive multigenre project, and hours of typing. All I have left between me and my degree is a semester of student teaching! I have been placed at my old high school and my mentor teacher is one of the best English teachers I have ever had the pleasure of learning from! I cannot wait to join him in the classroom for this final adventure in my college experience!

On a different note, I saw Rogue I this past Thursday. Awesome movie! You have to go see it! KT-S0 is my new favorite droid. I’m adding some pictures of a light cosplay I did with my Star Wars buddy, Jake.

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I also attended the Barnes & Nobel Harry Potter Holiday Ball on December 7. I made sure to wear all my Slytherin Garb, and I had a blast with my Gryffindor girl, Judy!

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Last but not least, I finished decorating my house for Christmas. I am the chief decorator, and this year greeted me with many new challenges. One of them being the need to completely rewire my family’s favorite ornament: A light-up angel pig. I had to open up his wire frame and string brand new lights all through his interior. It was essentially a organ-transplant of massive scale. He now sits proudly on the peak of our house, serving as a reminder to all that some pretty cool (and pretty weird) people live here.

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Now, I am having a Star Wars marathon with my folks and best friend, Alex. It’s been too long since I’ve watched any of the first 6 episodes…

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My next post is due on Christmas Eve, so I can make no promises about me remembering to post it. I will do my best though. If you don’t hear from me before Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate this time of the year), may the joy of the season blossom in your soul!

The Girl and the Bush, Part II

The first installment of this story can be found here.

Carolin didn’t say much on the walk to Mitch’s pickup, and neither did he. Carolin was used to being alone by now, and she could tell he was too. Carolin hadn’t seen another person besides Daniel in months, and he was dead now. How long had it been since Mitch had seen another person?

At the truck, Mitch climbed out of the bush costume. He opened the hatch of the cap and tossed it in the bed. Then he opened the tailgate and climbed in after it. “I just need to remember what pack I put it in…” he twanged to himself as he unzipped and rezipped tan and camo bags.

Carolin glanced at the small space created by the cap and the truck bed. Mitch had made himself quite the little home in there. The bags were packed against the sides of the bed, leaving room in the middle for a twin-sized mattress. The wall of the cap had all manner of things taped to them: maps, pages from books, and pictures.

“There!” Mitch’s southern accent boomed triumphantly. Carolin refocused her attention on him to see another bush-like suit in his hands—a ghillie suit, as he had called it. “It’ll be a bit big on you, but it will help if you hide from them rotters out there if you have to go away from the truck.”

Carolin reached into the bed towards the suit, but before her fingers could grip into the cloth leaves, Mitch yanked it away. “Now you understand that you only get the privileges of this suit if you agree to come along with me, right?”

Carolin hesitated, withdrawing her hand. “How do I know I can trust you?”

“You don’t,” he said with a sly grin. “But isn’t that where the fun comes from?”

Just then, Carolin heard a snap in the woods to her. She turned to see a zombie meandering past the truck, about 10 yards to the right. As soon as she set her eyes on the thing, it turned and looked at her, its own eyes weeping puss.

“So, what’ll it be?” asked Mitch knowingly.

A scoff was all he received from Carolin as she threw a leg up on the tailgate and rolled into the bed. Getting into a stranger’s vehicle was just the way things were now.

***

            “This was not a great plan,” Carolin said. She was sitting cross-legged on the mattress, listening to the small horde that had gathered outside the truck. The two of them were safe in the shelter of the cap, but it was still unnerving to see the faces of hungry, rotting corpses smearing across the glass of the hatch.

“We ain’t stuck in here, if that’s what you mean,” smirked Mitch from the other end of the mattress where he was clicking bullets into clips. “I just needed to reload.”

“You can’t possibly be thinking that we are going to be able to get around to the front of this thing by shooting out the back,” remarked Carolin. “The zombies clearly have the upper hand in this situation. It just isn’t worth it!”

“Nah, little lady.” Mitch’s foreign voice made the double t’s in “little” sound a lot more like d’s. “This baby is practically brand new. We got sliding windows!”

Carolin watched with a quizzical expression as Mitch scooted behind her. She turned just in time to see him slide open a window that led into the back seat of the truck. Did all trucks come with little windows like that? She had been an SUV driver in the good days. The thought of her old explorer with puppy stickers peeling off the back of the passenger seat brought a smile to her face, and then it was gone.

Mitch slid through the window. It was a good thing he was one of the long and lanky southerners, like in the old cowboy films her mum had watched, and not one of the short and fat ones like in the comedies her father loved. “Come on now, girl.” He laughed, poking his head out the small window. “You ain’t gonna want to be back there once I get this baby rolling!”

Carolin placed her hands along the bottom of the window, ready to hoist herself through. She paused for just a second. One of the pictures had caught her attention. it was a little boy holding a baseball in two hands, offering it towards the camera like a cat would offer its owner a dead bird.

She shook her head from the momentary daze. With a swift tug, she slid through the window and into the cab.


Hello, my favorite reader!

That’s right, I’m talking to you!

I did not get much quality writing done this week (unless you want to count the twisted mess of failed comedy I wrote for one of my classes—pretty sure I bombed that assignment because it was so not funny), so I decided to treat you to my experiment with a follow-up story. Let me know how you liked it!

I literally just realized that I only have four more Saturdays for blog posts, and that’s only if I actually manage my time well enough.

I have a ton of homework between now and the due date for my last assignment ever for this degree (It just so happens to be a 15-20 page paper on sound as an expression of rebellion in the punk rock genre as exhibited in Green Day’s new album, Revolution Radio). Between now and Thursday December 15, I will be slowly drowning in projects and papers galore.

Wish me luck!