#415: The Long Countdown

red and green mistletoe decoration

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(I’m pretty sure I’ve written a blog post titled “The Countdown” before, so I’m using this as an alternate title, because I wanted to write about a similar topic!)

When it comes time for December to roll around, there’s always the inevitable countdown to Christmas. It begins at 25 days and strolls slowly down to 0, and when 0 hits, you start to feel the magic of the season a bit more intensely than before. It’s not something that happens every year, but when it does, it’s special.

This long countdown is going to also be about a different kind of countdown, more of a count up I guess. On another website, I’ve been doing daily posts, a certain kind of series of posts one day at a time, and I realized about a week or two ago that they would line up in such a way that the one hundredth post would also be on Christmas. So instead of the usual Christmas countdown, where we had an advent calendar or a written countdown somewhere, instead it was monitored by this series of posts. While I was the only one counting down in this way, it feels nice to have a countdown going that you can always keep track of. It keeps you motivated about Christmas, and it makes the season that much better by virtue of the fact that you have something to always be looking forward to. Whether it’s giving or receiving presents, you have the benefit of being around other people this time of the year, and you get to share in their collective joys and happinesses in a way that’s unique to Christmas.

I don’t know if I’ve written much about this holiday here, but hopefully I have. I know I’ve been doing this for over a year, so it’s somewhat likely.

#401: The Dog

dog wearing green fur coat

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Angus is such an important part of my life. I realized that recently when I went to the visit the apartment on Monday, after taking the day off of work to pick up some more of my things and some clothes for the week. I realized how much this dumb dog means to me, and how much I love him in spite of the fact that he causes us terror and unrest from time to time. He’s a spectacular boy, and I missed seeing his face around the apartment. I was worried I would never be able to see him again, or that things wouldn’t work out for us. I’m glad that that’s not the case, because I almost mourned the loss of that connection the most. You should never separate someone from their most beloved pet.

When it comes time, I plan on giving Angus a big hug. I don’t want to ever leave him again. He means too much to me.

Having a dog means being able to appreciate the little things. It means sticking up for the little man, no matter what, even when he’s a big butt and makes your life difficult from time to time. It means coming home to take him out in the afternoon even when you don’t need to, just because you’re worried about him and want to make sure he gets to pee when he needs to. You know his habits, you’re aware of how he acts when he’s alone for too long, and you want to make sure he’s alright. Angus is a special dog, and I don’t know what life would be like without him around. When he jumped up on me on Monday, I felt a special connection, I felt like I was about to be missing something.

#392: The Small Dinner, Part 2

people walking on the street

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Shopping like that has become sort of a tradition for us, even though we dislike the holiday of Black Friday and despise how it treats workers. We just like the aesthetic of walking around really busy public spaces and picking up new things there. I like saving money, I like spending money, and I like buying new things that are useful for me.

We weren’t able to stay out for long, though, because Alex had work the next day and Angus needed food. He’d been by himself for awhile and I felt bad for him, especially on a day when I normally would be around to stay with him, considering I have it off for the holiday. Next time, we’ll consider bringing him with us to the family gathering, maybe for Christmas this time. It’s definitely something to think about, but we haven’t committed to it because bringing Angus anywhere is always an adventure. He’s a big lard, and he likes exploring everything, and he likes putting stuff in his mouth that he shouldn’t put there.

(This post has turned into an Angus post, and for that I am sorry. I wasn’t expecting it, honestly!)

But basically, Alex, Bella, and I go shopping on Black Friday and the day before as a way of releasing all that stress. It’s nice to just walk around and see everything, as we don’t usually just wander in places. It feels normal to be able to wander on Black Friday of all days, because even if you don’t plan on buying something, something will likely show up in front of you with a great sale that you just NEED to purchase. I feel that urge in my soul and of course I relent to it, because I’m the kind of person to do that.

#391: The Small Dinner, Part 1

people gathered inside house sitting on sofa

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Not every dinner needs to be an event, but when event dinners come around, I never feel ready for them the way I should be. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I have some random issues related to eating that prevent me from getting all the food I need in my system when I need it. Sometimes that flares up when I’m sitting at the table at Thanksgiving, but it didn’t happen this year, thankfully. It’s just difficult to prepare for, even when you know it’s coming.

Having dinner can be such a relief, especially earlier in the day, when it’s taking place during the afternoon and you get to have a few different plates full of food and dessert as well. The options are endless.

This Thanksgiving, we had a fairly small dinner party. It was just six of us, and while normally that would be a bit small for our usual gathering of people, it was nice to just relax without having to listen to people shout and talk over each other and their dinner table. Having a small group meant not having to worry about that obnoxious stuff as much, and instead we got to just sit and talk with each other about work, dogs, and other things related to all of the above.

(As I write, dog hair is getting on my new laptop because Angus is a huge mess and it’s impossible to be near him without somehow absorbing some of his massive hair onto yourself. It’s just inevitable.)

Thanksgiving this year was great, and I appreciated the size we had. My youngest sister, Alex and I went Black Friday shopping shortly afterwards, and we picked up this laptop at Best Buy. I’m thankful for the ability to have a new laptop, and I’m thankful for the world itself.

#389: The Retail

woman carrying christmas presents

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Buying a laptop made me think about what it’s like to work on Black Friday, a terrible time for anyone who’s ever had to endure that brand of torture. Also, in the Discord server I’m in, there were people talking and sharing about their annoyances related to working these next couple of days. While I’m glad I no longer have to work as a retail worker, like in my time at Target and Rite Aid, I don’t get paid over holidays like this because I’m technically not working. The same goes for over winter break, because I’m technically a part-time employee.

Working as a part-time employee of Rite Aid sucked, and I hated retail. I’m not the kind of person who likes working with other people, and I much prefer having the option to just seclude myself and do my work separately from everyone else. Now that I have a new laptop, I feel like I can actually work from home a bit more reliably too, even though my current job doesn’t necessitate working from home. I wish it did, though, as I would love to be able to complete work here, and I would be so much more relaxed. I would wake up on time, do everything on time, and relax without worrying about having to get up from my apartment!

Unfortunately, the people who are working during Thanksgiving and Black Friday have to be there regardless of their whims. These are some of the bravest, most valiant people going today, and I believe in them. They have to deal with people at their most barbaric and voracious, hungering for sales with coupons in hand. Holidays be damned, they’re focused on those sales over everything else.

This season in general is hell for retail workers, so I sympathize with them immensely. Give them respect and please be patient with them during this season.

#375: The Console

accessory buttons console control

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Back when I first started playing video games, I would always request consoles for Christmas. It became an annual tradition to wake up and see some new video game console under the tree, whether it was an Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Wii U, 3DS, DS, whatever, you name it. There was always something there, and I made it a habit of requesting consoles because it opened up the amount of gaming opportunities I had in front of me. Whether it was playing Call of Duty online with friends on Xbox Live, or whether it was playing Assassins Creed: Brotherhood online multiplayer on my PS3, there were tons of new things for me to do that were opened up thanks to having new consoles at my disposal. I didn’t use them all as well as I probably should have, but in the end, it’s the experience that matters.

The first console I was given was the Nintendo 64, and I remember my uncle giving it to me when I was around 5. It became a huge part of my life almost immediately. I was whisked away into the world of Super Mario 64 and made it my mission to beat the game, even though I never officially completed it as a kid. I had high aspirations, but those Bowser levels were super tough back then. I remember also playing lots of racing games with my dad, who loved the opportunity to bond with me back then. Cruisin’ Exotica, for example, was a family favorite, along with the other Cruisin’ games. I remember my dad loving the main theme song. We also played this off-road racing game, whose name I forget. But basically, racing games are in my blood for that reason.

Those were fun times, but my dad and I didn’t play much together after that. Not until Wii Sports, which he tried his best at.

#349: The Brother

people girl design happy

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I grew up with three sisters, two full and one half. I learned a lot from them, mostly about emotional intimacy and sentimentality and taking other people’s feelings into account. That’s one of the benefits of growing up in a household with sisters. I always felt like my dad was an outcast in the house, on so many fronts. He never connected with us on the same wavelength, and he always seemed to be off in his own world in his office. For that reason and many more, I didn’t have the same connection with my dad that I did with the rest of my family. I know I’ve avoided talking more openly about family issues on this blog, for whatever reason, partially to preserve their own privacy, but considering how this blog really only serves as an online journal for my thoughts, I think it’s fine to bring them up here. It’s not like anyone really reads this blog consistently other than my mom, my girlfriend, and myself.

I remember wanting to have a brother really badly. That’s something I definitely remember about being young, is wanting another boy to have around and play games with. Fortunately for me, when Bella was young, her and I had a strong bond and we spent a lot of time playing games together and discussing life. Bella was basically the brother I always wanted, just as a sister instead. The difference is really nonexistent, which is the lesson I learned from all of this when I was young. There’s really no difference at all. Being a good big brother became my priority, whatever that meant. She helped me by introducing me to some of the students I would be teaching during my student teaching year, through her theater friends. I’m grateful for everything.

#330: The Toilet

bathroom interior

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So, our toilet has been broken for about six days now. We’ve had to walk down the hallway and use that one. It’s not a bad walk or anything, and it’s all inside, but still, it’s deeply inconvenient and annoying to have to risk seeing people in public while having to go pee. It’s a step in that direction that I don’t really need in my life, if that makes any sense. I’d rather not see people while I’m walking down the hallway, and I’d rather keep to myself. In the middle of the night, when the rec room and gym are all dark, it feels even weirder to see them. I like the stony silence of the hallway, but I hate the walk. The walk is definitely the worst part.

There’s also the fact that I can’t go there when I’m in a hurry. In the morning, when I’m getting ready for work, or when I’m just rolling out of bed, I don’t want to have to run somewhere else instead of just using the toilet in my bathroom attached to my apartment. Crazy how that works, right?

The other annoying thing is that the apartment place hasn’t really been answering us about this issue. They’ve just been petty about it and have kept to themselves, rather than actually finishing what they’re supposed to. We haven’t called the maintenance hotline yet, but that’s supposed to be only for emergencies, so we’ve avoided it mostly for that reason. In this case, though, it’s become an emergency, and it’s about time it gets fixed. When the time comes for it to get fixed, we’ll probably give hell to the office afterwards for taking so long to do this. I’m hoping that we have a somewhat reduced rent due, if that’s at all possible.

#318: The Sausage, Part 3

the grill man

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I also realized recently that I haven’t written about Ango much on this blog since my last post, which was over a couple weeks ago. Since then, it’s been mostly video games and work and things like that, without much of a focus on what’s really important: the dogs and other pets in our lives.

We took Ango to the vet a few times recently, once to get him checked up and the other time so that he could get tested for heartworm again. He’s still showing light signs of heartworm in him, but that could just be from the test, and it likely is because he’s not showing any of the symptoms of having heartworm. He’s not lethargic or anything like that, not even close. This dog is a bundle of wild energy whenever anyone starts moving around.

For example, yesterday morning I woke up and walked out of the bedroom to find Ango panting at me from the couch. It had no discernible purpose to it, just that he felt like panting and needed to get something out of his system. He’s so funny and lovable that it’s impossible to stay angry at him for long, especially because he doesn’t hold grudges. He’s just a dog, after all, and he wants love more than anything else.

Being a dog owner has been a wonderful privilege and experience, though a bit on the expensive side, while we talk about going to the vet. The good thing is that we shouldn’t have to take him back in awhile; he’s good to go and doesn’t need anything else for at least a few months, I think. I always feel a bit worried before we go to the vet because of that. Who knows what they’ll say about him this time? Hopefully just good things.

#317: The Sausage, Part 2

barbecue bbq beef charcoal

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Speaking of celebrating, Ango is rapidly approaching the 100 mark on his home tracker. By the time this post goes up, hopefully he’ll have made it without any issues or problems. He’s been a really good boy so far and hasn’t made a stink about being left alone in the apartment, even though he has every right to. I feel bad whenever I have to go to work for 8 hours, because I know he’s probably just sitting and waiting for me to come back. It’s like that Spongebob meme where Patrick tells Spongebob that all he does when he’s working is wait for him to come home so they can play again.

But Ango’s big 100 day achievement is not made any less important because of the fact that a majority of those days were spent lounging with me on the couch during the summer. He didn’t seem to mind those days and he enjoyed having constant company, but that doesn’t cheapen the fact that he’s still lasted almost 100 days without wrecking the apartment. He’s just as capable of wrecking the apartment while we’re around as he is while he’s home alone. The only difference is the degree of surveillance he’s under, which in this case was still very little, actually.

I just took a break from writing this blog to give Ango some head rubs. He loves when I grab his head lightly and tug behind his ears with all my might; he just seems to gravitate towards those types of rubs, the more eager and energetic ones. I love when he really leans into it and waits for me to finish so he can give celebratory licks. I love when he puts his head down, as if to say that he’s really enjoying this and needs to savor it while it’s still happening. He’s such a silly boy.