#417: The Celebrant

white black and red person carrying heart illustration in brown envelope

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In my last blog post, I touched on the idea of not celebrating Christmas. I’d like to discuss that a bit more here, as I think it’d be interesting to analyze. Alex and I talked about how, if she moved here by herself and didn’t have family around, she might not celebrate Christmas as much. It wouldn’t be as much a part of her life as it is now, because she has our family to celebrate with. This conversation came up because I brought up how I feel bad for people who have to work on Christmas day, to which she responded that it isn’t all that bad if you’re the kind of person who isn’t religious or doesn’t have family around. She would’ve considered going into work if they let her, considering she would get overtime pay! That’s a lot of extra money, when you think about it; eight whole hours of overtime is nice.

Acknowledging is not the same as celebrating, though; it is perfectly normal for lots of people to acknowledge the times are changing, that we are now within the month of December so that means it’s the spirit of Christmas time. However, these people might not necessarily celebrate it. They might not put up a tree, they might not put up any decorations around their house or apartment. They just treat the season as if it were any normal month. To me, that’s difficult to imagine ever doing, because for so much of my life I’ve associated December with being the overall month of Christmas and holidays and breaks from work and school. Considering I’ve always been on a school schedule, even after I graduated from school, it’s no wonder that school has become kind of a part of my day-to-day existence. You can’t avoid it.

#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.

#412: The Twelve Days

white cumulus clouds

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Coming up, I have twelve days off of work. It’s unreal to think about. I mean, no other break compares to this one; here we have total immersion in relaxation and being oneself again, not just our work-selves. Every so often we forget about what it’s like to be our real selves, the selves that exist outside of our 9-5 jobs. When we’re working, we sometimes lose sight of that identity that exists inside us and doesn’t necessarily enjoy its work. I think the selves that exist outside of our routines are interesting to think about, even though our routines in some ways define us.

When this blog post goes up, though, I’ll be a considerable way through the break, and you won’t have to worry about me bragging about its length for that much longer. I’m really just excited that I have the chance to relax for an extended period of time again. I don’t totally know what I’ll be doing during this time, probably trying to come up with blog posts throughout the many free days I have, which leads me to thinking about this blog a bit more at length.

Since I started this blog, I’ve gotten a job, I’ve been on summer break without pay, and I’ve restarted the job again with a new school year. It’s been a journey so far, and I can’t say I’ve abandoned this blog throughout the whole journey. I like to make sure I stick with something, anything, regardless of what it is, because I want to have some kind of self-assurance and repetition in my life. When I log onto Pocket Camp in the morning, it feels like completing a step of my morning ritual or routine. The same goes for this blog, as it’s a type of habit I’ve cultivated over 412 days so far.

#393: The Passenger Seat

green wooden chair on white surface

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Being in the passenger seat is fun. You don’t have to be the one driving, obviously, and it allows you to relax without worrying so much about where the car is going. I thought about this blog post based on a few things: one, my experience watching my friend Alex play Persona 5 the other day, and two, watching my girlfriend Alex doze off in the seat next to me while driving home a few weeks ago. She’s known to doze off in that seat, especially when we’re not listening to anything special. This past drive home, the one from Thanksgiving, featured Alex and I listening to the most recent Death Blart episode, the annual Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 podcast featuring the McElroy brothers. We are in love with the amazing tradition that is Death Blart, and we look forward to it every year without fail.

Being in the passenger seat means also feeling like you control part of the action, though. Alex is good about not directing me what to do while I’m driving, and I’m usually the one driving in these situations, but I’m the kind of person who becomes a backseat driver. It’s not that I like telling people what to do, I just get excited imagining everything going on and want to share it with others. I noticed that while watching my friend Alex play Persona 5; I was being a backseat driver. I kept telling him what strategy to employ, what baddies to beat up and how to beat them. I wasn’t trying to be obnoxious and in your face about it, but afterwards, when all was said and done, I definitely felt like I could’ve held back a bit and realized that the game is about experiencing it, including all the mistakes you make along the way.

#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.

#167: The Easter Holiday

man standing on brown rock cliff in front of waterfalls photography

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What a weekend, am I right? This past weekend was one for the history books, with a combination of Dungeons & Dragons, Monster of the Week, Telestrations, Heroes of the Storm, Magic: the Gathering, and much more played between groups of friends and family during the past couple days. It brings me so much joy to see people come together and enjoy the small things together.

Easter is that time of the year when I start to feel like the year is fully in swing. The stride hits around June or July, but right about now, as I enter the last leg of the school year, I definitely feel that 2019 has arrived. In a sense, I’m relieved because we’re one step closer to the next presidential election, and everyone knows how important that’s going to be. But on the other hand, I’m not so relieved because I feel old, like my early 20s weren’t very much.

We used to have larger family gatherings involving Easter, and all the other Christian holidays, but nowadays our Easters are just at home with a small group of close family around the table. We eat, drink, and feel merry with each other. There aren’t any more Easter baskets from the bunny to expect when we arrive home; instead, there are dishes we love and people we don’t get to see often. A different kind of present, offered only during the holidays.

This Easter, I sat around the dinner table with Alex and family and we talked about my (relatively) new job, my nieces, and Alex’s job. We tend to talk about Alex’s job and commute a lot whenever we’re together. Also, getting engaged was brought up by both sets of parents, which Alex and I both know is something we’ve heard a lot about.

#132: The Irish Holiday

adventure alpine atmosphere daylight

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(Not sure what this photo is, but it came up when I searched Irish!)

It’s time to discuss the Irish holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, and its connections to me. I don’t really associate much with the holiday, considering I don’t have any Irish heritage in me (I’m pretty sure at least), but there are some parts of it that are significant to me regardless.

Let’s talk about the first one: Shamrock shakes. Indisputably one of the best elements of this entire holiday season, the shamrock shake from McDonalds is the perfect blend of peppermint goodness right into your mouth. I used to get them more frequently when the time came, but there aren’t any McDonalds near Stamford (at least that I’m willing to drive to just to get a simple peppermint shake.)

Also, at CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens, candy is on sale usually soon after the holiday or afterwards. Because I don’t celebrate the holiday much, I can at least celebrate a temporary candy sale when I see one.

When I went to Quinnipiac University, which has an especially large Irish heritage to it, people celebrated the holiday by visiting Aunt Chilada’s (as they would normally celebrate big occasions.) This is also around the time that the college hockey season seems to catch up to itself, which Quinnipiac absolutely looks forward to.

There was a 5k in Stamford over the weekend, complete with celebratory music in the streets and areas roped off for runners and marathoners to jog and sprint down. I went to the gym with Alex for about 40 minutes while all this was happening. That’s about the extent to which I feel comfortable running/walking at one time, so no 5ks in my future, especially not on St. Patrick’s Day.

#27: Gratitude & Sweaters

green and orange squash

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I’m thankful for friends, family, and food. I’m thankful for Alex, my incredible, impeccable, and always intellectual girlfriend. I’m thankful for my few but strong close friendships, the ones that have helped pull me out of the depths of anxiety and depression and onto my feet. I’m thankful for this blog and the platform it’s given me; albeit small, it is just personal-sized, which is all the attention I think this endeavor deserves. Nothing more. I’m thankful for creative writing, fulfilled through Dungeons & Dragons role-playing and world-building and through this blog’s daily writing goals; I have the opportunity to pour my creative juices into something productive and fun, even after leaving my job. I manage to make it work every other day or so, although the blog posts have been coming a bit out of order recently (trying to work on that, but the numbering is done beforehand and WordPress occasionally screws that up). I’m thankful for video games, the escapist fantasy brought through total envelopment in another world, because the current world is too anxiety-inducing to think much about. I’m thankful for game nights with my friends, a perfect constant after all these years of separation, distance, and amnesia. I’m thankful for late-night board games, early morning people-watching from the apartment balcony, and afternoon coffee. Nothing like a warm cup of joe when my energy isn’t at its best.

I’m thankful for cold weather, sweater and snuggle weather. I’m thankful for clothing options that better suit my personal style. I’ll wear a sweater any day of the year, rain or shine, warm or chilly, day or night, just because it feels good. No constriction, only pure comfort. But being a regular sweater-wearer means relishing in the days when choosing a sweater is just the right option. When a flannel is too thin and rugged and a jacket is too much, a sweater can seal the deal and make you feel better. The close, personal warmth it brings can recharge your spirit, granted you’re not outside. Whether it’s the blue sweater made of lamb wool, the green cardigan, or the classic grey look, I always have a sweater on me. I’m thankful for being able to survive these frigid nights writing on WordPress, with a sweater around my chest, rather than suffering outside without a roof over my head. I went into New York last weekend, and I can never look at a homeless person without feeling complete and total pity about the state of the world. Being privileged in life makes a major difference in the ways in which you are treated by others. Give and you will receive, in one way or another. I’m thankful for Alex in more ways than I can count right now.

I’m thankful for the Internet, for the communities I can join in and out of in an instant on websites anonymously. I’m thankful for the friends I’ve met over the Internet, the ones I talk to every once in awhile and the ones I am lucky to speak with every day. I’m thankful for friends I met in person but whose friendships blossomed thanks to instant messaging and emailing. I’m thankful for their advice, suggestions, and constant presence in my life, even when I feel needlessly frustrated. I’m thankful for their random messages of encouragement and enlightenment, always when I need them most; let no one tell you the world is getting “too soft,” when a little bit of softness is sometimes all we need to get by. I’m thankful for those who feel comfortable exposing their vulnerabilities without feeling threatened by the mere presence of emotions. I’m thankful for people who both seek and provide comfort.

I’m grateful and thankful for so many things, and this is hardly a complete list, just the stream of consciousness that came to my head as I wrote. Hopefully it suffices for now.