Election Day.

Tomorrow, November 6th (maybe that’t now today, depending on where you’re at in the world) is Midterm Election Day here in the United States. While Midterm and Presidential elections are both important, this is quite possibly the most important Midterm election in the history of the country. Voting is your right, and at this point, it is your obligation. There are probably thousands of political arguments from every side of the octagon on any issue we face.

 “If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it.” Anthony J. D’Angelo

It’s time for as all to unite as a country. It’s time to come out together as one to make tough decisions that make big differences to peoples lives.

Get out there tomorrow and vote.

Remember we’re all people, and that’s what matters.

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Photo Credit: MyPostcard.com

Remember no one is better than anyone else.

Your opinion should not take away the right of others – the same rights you take for granted.

Remember that children should not be separated from their parents except for cases of child endangerment.

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Photo Credit: Google.com

Research shows More people vote in Presidential Elections than Midterms. Research also shows the 60+ crowd as having the highest voter turnout, and the 18-30 crows having the lowest. Less than 20% showed up for the PRESIDENTIAL election. So please. Tomorrow, get out there & vote. Then register to have early ballots sent to you so you can vote ahead of time & avoid the crowds.

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Photo Credit: Fairvote.org

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College.

Honestly, unless it involves graduation, this is a blog post subject reserved for youngsters – the 25 & under crowd if you will.

A few months back I made the decision to return to school. My employer went beyond tuition reimbursement and began offering business degrees at no cost through select universities. I was over the moon with excitement. Dropping out of college is one of my biggest regrets, and after losing my Dad earlier this year, I promised myself I’d find a way to become a college graduate. If not for me, for him.

I went through the headaches everyone endures when returning to college. Applications. Transcripts. You name it. But I dealt with it because I was excited to once again be a college student. 30 of my community college credits transferred and I was left with a course list including math, chemistry, economics, statistics, and many other classes that meant nothing to me.

That’s when I realized I wasn’t at all excited to simply go back to school. I was excited for essays, short stories, and reading literature. I was excited for writing, and I wasn’t going to get that with my free degree. I would get an education that almost guaranteed a fat sum in my bank account when it was all said and done. As nice as that would be, the thought of large amounts of money don’t stimulate me the way they used to. I mean sure, who doesn’t want six figures in their bank account?

Me. If it means I have to wake up everyday and go to a job that doesn’t bring me joy, I don’t want it.

Meanwhile, in the midst of these realizations, it dawned on me that I know exactly what I want to major in. I’ve known since I was 16. English with emphasis on creative writing. There’s a reason I attempt Nanowrimo every year. There’s a reason I own no less than 5 writing prompt books and follow who knows how many writing blogs between WordPress and Tumblr.

I’m going on 31 years old & I’m starting over. This next week I’ll be in the admissions office declaring my major, just like I did at 21. Only this time, I’m being true to myself.

I’ll be 31 by the time classes start, and I refuse to let that scare me. You know what’s scarier than returning to college in your 30’s? Waking up in your 60’s and realizing you sold yourself short.

I suppose I should really start putting effort into these Bujo spreads. They’ll be my saving grace when January rolls around.

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Book Review: Turtles All The Way Down

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Let me start this review by stating John Greens latest novel Turtles All The Way Down is the best book I’ve read in years. The last time a book demanded my undivided attention is all but a distant memory. It was probably Harry Potter or Twilight. Yes, I am that person.

All of Johns novels have the power to pull me out of a reading slump, but this is by far my favorite of his works. The story follows OCD ridden AZA & her fan fiction writing best friend Daisy and their journey to find missing billionaire Russell Pickett, all in exchange for a hefty $100,000 reward. Along her journey, Aza is reunited with childhood acquaintance Davis Pickett, son of the missing billionaire she seeks. If you’ve read any of Johns precious books, you know he writes in a way that is very clear and easy to follow. While Turtles All The Way Down focuses on mental illness and other serious issues that plague the human race every day, clarity is not sacrificed. Like most of his works, I blew through this book in under two days.

One of the things I love so much about Turtles All The Way Down is how relatable it is. The story includes coping mechanisms for death and grief, poverty & social class, mental health, specifically Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and anxiety, absentee parents, poetry and literature, and even a tuatara. John writes of these in a way that seems relatable. Even the rich kids are relatable to someone who has never been gifted financially, all because there is not a single character in this book who has a perfect cookie cutter life. Everyone has something, but no one has it all. And that’s real life, for the most part.

The synopsis will tell you, just as I have in this review that this story is about two best friends on a journey to find a missing rich man, but it’s so much more than that. Yes, that is a piece of the story, but it’s such a small piece. This is a book about a girl and her struggle to cope with everyday life while struggling with OCD. It’s about the struggle of a girl with damn near perfect mental health who comes from a poor family and watches other people, who claim to be poor, drive up in their cars and google things on laptops instead of smart phones. It’s about a boy who does his best to be there for his brother and his abandonment issues when their father goes missing, all the while feeling incompetent and dealing with the same issues himself. It’s a story about a widow who walks through life terrified she will lose the only person she has left in the world.

This is a story about real life and real problems, and I recommend it to everyone.

Book Review: Slaughterhouse Five

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Having read a few spoiler free reviews of Slaughterhouse-Five prior to reading the book itself, I had an idea of what I was getting myself into. A story of war, death, capture, PTSD, and…alien invasion? I hold myself to a goal this year: read 12 classics. This is the first, and I can honestly say I’m at a loss as to how I should review this. Slaughterhouse-Five is the first I’ve read of Vonnegut, though certainly not the last. Vonnegut writes with such raw emotion, it’s not something I’ve experienced in this capacity. This isn’t to say my favorite authors such as JK Rowling, John Green, and Rainbow Rowell do not write in the same fashion. But, something about writing in such a way about war and death for events Vonnegut was individually present for leaves a different taste in my mouth. Slaughterhouse-Five has it all. It is a story that takes its reader as high as outer space, inside a flying saucer, and as low as corpse mines in the aftermath of the desolation of Dresden. It illustrates perfectly what happens when we as humans make mistakes and screw up, both on small and large scales. Many of the situations we find ourselves in are due to ignorance, stupidity, and shameless pride. The same can be said of the causes of war. Labeled as anti-war, this is a touchy subject when it comes to this book in particular. There are hundreds of reviews about this topic. Some say the book is pro war, and others defend the book, claiming it is in fact anti war. My opinion on this is simple. It’s neither pro war nor anti war. This book tells the truth about the ugly side of war: running around with people who despise you, having your shoes stolen, being forced to sleep standing up, torture, starvation, sleep deprivation. The possibilities are endless and not something any living being should endure. Yet sadly this is the reality we face as long as we as humans turn to violence instead of communication. What I liked most about this book was that it made me question everything. What was reality, and what was fantasy? I still don’t know. Obviously the story spoke to me. It took me places I’d never been. So why the 3 Star review? I found some mild annoyances in the story. So it goes. I understand the point of placing this phrase after every death (which was a lot), but that didn’t make it any less irritating. I didn’t connect with any of the characters, except maybe Derby, and even that was only a few times. However, in a book about death and war, I’m glad I can’t relate. This review is all over the place, but compared to Slaughterhouse-Five, it’s as organized as a Masters program thesis.

Book Review: Paper Towns

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 Paper Towns is John Green’s third novel. Published in 2008, it followed Looking For Alaska and An Abundance of Katherine’s. Having read a couple of John’s works in the past, I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting myself into: great stories and characters I’d fall in love with. In that sense, PaperTowns didn’t disappoint. Nor did it disappoint in any other way.
The story follows Quentin who works tirelessly to find Margo, the girl next door he’s known since he was a child. Already infamous for running away from home, Margo always leaves subtle clues behind, eluding to her whereabouts. Quentin can’t seem to keep Margo off his mind after she insists he join her in an 11 phase excursion. When she disappears, he follows clues and his thoughts. He soon questions if she has disappeared for the sake of running away, or something more permenant.
Some would argue this book was predictable, or seemed eerily similar to Looking For Alaska, and maybe that’s true. But I chose to read this book specifically because I wanted something with the same feel as that particular novel. I absolutely adore this book. It’s a short read at just 305 pages. It is also a page turner. I read the book, from start to finish in under two days. There’s something about books being broken into parts that makes them seem shorter.
I recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for an unconventional love story with real feelings and emotion.
I’ve rated Paper Towns 4 stars. The ending did not invoke a strong emotional response. This is not to say the ending wasn’t fitting for the story. It may invoke a response in other readers which it did not invoke in me, and that is the beauty of books.

 

5 Tips That Will Allow You To Travel More

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Photo Credits: Left -Walt Disney Company & Right – Amanda G Schuman

 

    “How can you afford to do all that?”

This is a question I am asked on a fairly regular basis. How can I afford to go on so many vacations? Even more specifically, how can I afford to go on so many Disney vacations? In this blog post, I will discuss 5 tips I put into practice as much as possible so I can get out of town and keep my heart full.

Living in Phoenix for most of my life, you’d think I’d have become used to the unreasonably hot summers, right? I’m afraid not. If you live in the Midwest, which coincidentally is where I’m originally from, the East Coast, or anywhere that snows on a regular basis during the winter months, you know how quickly seasonal depression can tighten it’s grip on you. The same thing happens between May and August in Phoenix. Sometimes the 100+ degree weather starts earlier and stays later. Just the same as with extreme cold, extreme heat keeps most people cooped up inside Luckily, I am very fortunate to live six hours from the beach, Disneyland, and Las Vegas. I am also between two and four hours away from several different locations within my state where cooler weather is essentially guaranteed. Having locations within driving distance is beneficial, but as with everything in the good ol’ US of A, money plays a factor. So, first and foremost:

Tip # 1

Work. Having a job is essential for travel. It doesn’t matter what kind of traveling you do. This year, I’ve done mostly weekend trips. But even if you’re saving up for a backpacking excursion that takes you to the other side of the world while you leave your job behind, you’ve still got to work that job until you’ve saved enough. Personally, I’m a fan of spontaneous weekend trips, but I’m  fan of stability too. I am fortunate enough to have a great day job that offers regular paychecks and benefits. Most importantly? Stability. 

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Tip # 2

Cook at home! This one is even hard for me to keep up on. If I’m being completely honest, some weeks I fail miserably at cooking at home. We have a cafe & food trucks on property. at work, not to mention all of the vending machines I walk pas each day, and group lunch orders. Spending Sundays prepping food for the week definitely isn’t my idea of a good time. But, trust me when I say your wallet will thank you.

Tip #3

Buy Annual Passes I know they’re expensive, but hear me out. My fiancé Jon and I are big on Disney. We love visiting Disneyland  so much that spending the money on annual passes is worth it. A 3 day Park Hopper Ticket to Disneyland currently runs $330 per person. A Deluxe Annual Pass, which does include some blockout dates, but still works great in my personal opinion, runs $729 per person. When we visit, it is on average 3 days at a time. The deluxe annual pass pays for itself in two trips, or about 7 individual days at the Parks and we go about 2x that. Annual passes won’t be worth it for everyone, but they certainly are for us. The good new is most theme parks these days have annual passes. Maybe you feel you’d get more use out of an annual pass to Universal Studios Six Flags. Figure out where you want to spend your time, how often you want to go, and you can determine if an annual pass is worth the money. If not, that’s okay. Some people prefer the beach and you don’t need an annual pass for that.

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Tip #4

Save that money, honey! Jon and I put large purchases on our credit card and capitalize on rewards. When we’re not on vacation, we go into save mode as best we can. We pay more than our minimum payment and try to keep the card frozen. We go on the app and freeze the card, and then we fill a ziplock bag with water, throw it in the freezer with the card inside, and voila! Our credit card is frozen both literally and figuratively. This stops most impulse shopping. Be careful if you try this though because in the world of digital technology, mobile wallets and Amazon accounts make it very easy to spend. Sometimes, I simply put my Mermaid brain on when I spend money. You know how much mermaids spend on a daily average? $0!

Tip #5

Plan. Plan. Plan! When we purchased our annual passes for Disneyland this year, we picked several occasions for Disney trips. Then we looked at our pay schedules so we could pre-pay on bills when possible and take other preventative measures when needed. For example, our grocery shopping trip at the beginning of September was a bit bigger. We spent more to get some extra ground beef and chicken. This way we have extra money in the food budget for our 3 year anniversary trip next weekend, and know we’ll only need to buy sides at the store until October. In addition to these plans, we look at movie release schedules. We have streaming services at home as well as a subscription to The Disney Movie Club. We avoid regular movie theaters unless the visits are planned in advance. If we feel we need to see a movie in the theatre, we go to our local Drive-in. Pricing is $7.50 each for the double feature. We tend to pick up Mexican Food from my favorite restaurant instead of spending money on potentially stale popcorn and other junk. I personally enjoy movies with tacos instead of popcorn. Drive-in theaters aren’t so easy to find these days and may not be an option for everyone. It’s always worth it to check our Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, Redbox, Vudu, and whatever else you may have access to. 

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At the end of the day, it’s all about priorities. Jon and I are in the process of keeping up on our travel, paying down debt, saving for our wedding, and maintaining our household. 

Some nights we aren’t the most responsible when it comes to finances, but as long as you keep your goals in mind, you can make it work. There are some weekends we want to go to Cali to visit Disneyland or the beach but we opt to visit somewhere local instead. Sacrifices must be made from time to time. Some people make more sacrifices than others, The key is making sure they’re worth it. 

Reflection.

I am beginning to feel as though things are finally beginning to settle down. As past posts illustrate, 2018 has tested me to say the least.

Turning 30 is definitely a milestone. I always thought I’d react to turning 30 the way Joey did:

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Image Credit: Google

But, as the big day approached, I decided to look at it positively. Sure I was turning 30, but I live an unconventional life. I live with my best friend and my (now) fiancé. Sure I work in corporate America, yet I walk around with blue hair, piercings, and ink. I do not have children, and doubt I ever will. Most people my age are divorced, though some are still happily married. Almost everyone I know that is my age has a child, or in some cases, several. They have mortgages, multiple vehicles in the family, etc. But I’ve kept it simple. I love my little unconventional family . The lifestyle I lead aided me in looking at turning 30 as a positive thing.

I planned a trip to Las Vegas in December of last year, to be taken the weekend after my birthday. I remember very clearly being excited for the trip. It was January 17th, a mere two days before Vegas and two days after big day. Talking with a friend about my excitement (this would be my first trip to Vegas as a legal adult), I got a bit too animated, which resulted in my falling off a small curb and fracturing my ankle. Did I let that stop me from enjoying my birthday trip? NOPE.

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Splint and all, I got a wheel chair comped from Vdara. We stayed in a condo on the 50th floor. Thanks Airbnb! The trip was perfect, other than my inability to walk of course. But, I am so happy I took this trip. It was on my bucket list, and really, we had so much fun that we are planning annual Vegas trips. I definitely needed the break and spending 3 days very far from sober was helpful.

A few days later, January 24, 2018, I got the phone call that changed my life forever. I can’t explain it, but I saw “Vader” pop up on my caller ID. But somehow I knew Dad wasn’t on the line, and I knew we’d never have another conversation again. I knew I wouldn’t be calling him while I walked home from work. I wouldn’t be making trips to visit him on his side of town. I knew the camping trip we’d taken almost 8 years prior together was the last one I’d ever take with him.

I answered the phone to my brother sobbing hysterically. “Dad is gone. He’s dead.”

I didn’t know what to feel. Relief he wasn’t in pain anymore. Sadness and hopelessness because my best friend was dead. Disbelief because even though I knew it was true, part of me didn’t want to believe it. I think some days, that part of me still suppresses the fact that he’s gone. I’ve picked up the phone to call several times, only to have my heart broken all over again.

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I miss him every day, and that doesn’t lessen. But, I’ve gotten used to the fact that he’s gone. I’ve accepted that he will not be walking me down the aisle in 2020 for my Hawaii wedding. It’s heavy stuff and some days are easier than others.

2018 has absolutely changed me. Instead of playing the victim, I am taking the lessons from this year and moving forward. If I were to pass away at the same age as my Dad, my life is half way over and I have nothing to show for it. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make others happy and attempting to conform to what society deems appropriate.

Moving forward I am focusing on things make me happy. Reading. Writing. Family.

When I was 14 I stated using Social Media heavily. At this point in my life, I enjoy communicating through the written form as opposed to face to face contact, which I do for work on a consistent basis. So here’s to positive changes and doing what I want to do.

This isn’t to say I won’t have discipline. I still have a day job to go to. I still have to write everyday, sometimes by force. This isn’t about not having rules. This is about having rules that align with my goals and living a life that I’m proud of.