Tag Archives: Opinion

Hey Mr. President, I’mma do me

I just want to make a quick comment about this election. First of all, no, I didn’t vote. I didn’t like my choices enough to vote one way or another, and I don’t believe in voting for the sake of voting. Voting for one candidate because you don’t want the other candidate to win doesn’t make sense to me. But this post isn’t about why I don’t vote (this post, however, is). I can say that if I had voted, I probably would have voted for Hillary, simply because I think she would have done a far better job of actually running the country than that other buffoon (who I still can’t believe was even an option in the first place).

That being said, I know many people are outraged by the outcome of this election. But I have to remind myself at the end of the day that, even though we all have to follow rules and regulations of this country as determined by the federal government (which includes the president), I still get to live my life on a day to day basis and determine how I’m going to act. That includes being a good person, being a positive role model to my students, being a good sister, and a good girlfriend, and a good daughter, and a good friend to all of the people that matter in my life. Even just being a good person overall, morally and ethically, being kind to strangers and being forgiving when it’s due. Accepting and understanding that we are all human, which means we are all flawed. And that’s okay.

This is what truly matters at the end of the day, and I’m not going to change who I am and how I live my life simply by who is holding office in that big white house. And you shouldn’t either. Yeah, it sucks how ridiculous and absurd this election has been from the start, and yeah, the results are even more laughable. And yeah, I’m sure certain things in our lives will be affected and will change at some point when those new laws are passed, and the whole country might go to shit one day because the guy running it can’t even figure out how to buy a proper hair piece. But the only thing that really matters to me at the end of the day is continuing to live my life the way that I do, trying every day to do whatever I can for my family and friends and those around me. Because if you think about our nation’s history, we’ve been through a lot worse. We can overcome these new obstacles because we find new ways to triumph when times get tough. Overall, our nation is filled with brilliant people of all walks of life, people who can think outside of the box and can take situations that may not be favorable and make them into something better. So yes, while I remain stupefied and shocked and angered and (most of all) disappointed that so many of my fellow Americans voted for such an idiot, I’m not worried about the fate of our country. That seems a bit extreme. We still live in one of the greatest countries in the world; we’re not living in a third world country, I don’t feel scared for my life when I leave my house everyday or even when I come home at night. I get to go to my job everyday, work hard making a difference in the lives of young minds, and come home to a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and the relaxing atmosphere of being at home in my own safe space. A lot of people don’t have that, even in this country, so I’m grateful for the things that I do have in my life.

I’m trying to be more positive overall in my life, and that includes this situation right here. I could very easily jump on the bandwagon with all the haters and just be bitter and spew filth from my mouth. But instead I’m going to try and look at it in a positive light, because getting angry over something that I have zero power to change is pointless (because, after all, the election is over now, we had our chance and this is what most of us wanted, apparently). At the end of the day, our country has been through a lot worse. This is not the end of the world. Because, one way or another, we will come out the other side of all of this. We may be different when we reemerge, but we’ll still be intact. Life isn’t perfect, but we can all still find ways to make it wonderful, regardless of who’s in the oval office.

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Filed under Opinion, politics

I don’t vote

I was stopped at the post office today, just passing through on a quick run to drop off a few packages for my LuLaRoe business, by a guy outside asking people to update their voter registration. In a bit of a hurry, I kindly and quickly said “no thanks, I don’t vote” and continued walking. Apparently he wasn’t satisfied with that response, because he replied with “what about the 19th amendment?” To which I answered “I don’t like my choices” and walked inside. When I reemerged from the building on my way back through the parking lot to my car, he said to me “well what about all the local elections, the judges and the school board and all the people responsible for teaching your children?” (this guy was clearly not giving up). I firmly replied that I teach children, so I’m going to focus on that. I did tell him that I appreciated him asking, but I feel like his persistence just brings up a very good point that I believe I’m not alone in feeling. Or maybe I am and I’m the only person that has it wrong, but either way, it’s my prerogative and it’s my basic human right as an American citizen to vote or not vote. It isn’t anybody else’s choice to make but mine.

I’m sure there’ll be plenty of people reading this who follow politics on the daily and vote every time there’s an election, whether it’s local, state or federal government, but I’m just not one of those people. And I really don’t care who has a problem with it or not, because again, it’s my decision to make as an individual living in this country. It’s my freedom to choose whether or not I want to vote.

I also want to point out that I’m not one of those people who refuses to vote and then, when people are elected that I don’t agree with, sits there and complains about it. No, I realize that if I’m giving up my right to vote, I’m also giving up my right to complain about who wins. I’m not that much of an asshole.

Up until this point in my adult life, in the years since I’ve turned 18 and have been eligible to vote, I have not agreed with any of the choices for president. This is only the third presidential election that I have been of age for. The first two were obviously when Obama was elected and reelected; both times I did not agree with his win, and both times I also did not like the opposing candidate. So for me, voting for one guy because I don’t want the other guy to win, even if the guy I’m voting for isn’t someone I  want to win either, really doesn’t make sense to me. Sure, maybe voting for the lesser of two evils is the right thing to do, maybe it’s not. All I know is that until I am presented with at least one option that I truly feel confident about voting in to office, I’m not going to participate. It’s just not a good use of my time. And as a very busy middle school teacher, I can’t afford to waste any time on things that I don’t agree with.

For example, where the upcoming presidential election is concerned, I think Donald Trump is a buffoon and I certainly don’t want him running our country, but does that mean that Hillary Clinton deserves my vote? Probably not, and that’s why I’m not voting. I’m simply not satisfied giving my vote to either candidate.

That being said, I understand the point this nice gentleman is trying to make about how I should still participate in local and state government. However, again, I am a very busy schoolteacher who also runs a business of her own on the side, so between all of that, and all of the things that actually pertain to my day-to-day life and responsibilities, taking the time out of my busy life to vote for people that, again, I don’t really know that much about, really just doesn’t seem to make sense to me. In my opinion, and again, this is all my opinion which, by definition, cannot be wrong, so please don’t tell me that I’m wrong in saying any of this (especially considering the whole “freedom of speech” thing). I’m a language arts teacher, I know what opinion is versus fact. Everything that I’m saying right now is opinion, not a fact, you can’t prove it right or wrong, it’s simply how I feel, and you’re allowed to feel differently, that’s why they’re called opinions.

Anyway, now that I’m done ranting about opinions versus fact, my opinion is that my one vote is not going to make enough of a difference in the long run. In the grand scheme of things, whoever I could possibly vote for in the local and state government is probably not going to make a difference to the point where my vote is necessary. I realize that sounds pessimistic and ignorant, because if everyone had this attitude and everyone said “oh, my vote doesn’t count it’s really not gonna matter whether I vote or not” then nobody would vote and then change really wouldn’t be able to occur. I already get that. But all I know is that, at the end of the day, I’m a teacher, I’m teaching kids and I’m making a difference and impacting the world on a smaller level. I’m causing change to occur on a smaller level, and that is the most that I can contribute to society.

I also refuse to vote blindly just for the sake of voting. If I don’t know who I’m voting for, or I’m uneducated about the candidates, I would rather not vote than vote blindly just for the sake of putting in my two cents. And honestly, between working 40+ hours a week and trying to have some time for my friends and family on top of all that (because I need to have a life and not lose my mind), I don’t have the time to dedicate to educating myself about the candidates. There are so many people running for so many things I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I see signs every day when I’m driving around, re-elect this person or elect that person for a slew of miscellaneous titles that I’ve never even heard of. So, because I’m uneducated about who they even are, let alone what they’re running for, I elect to not vote blindly. And I’m sorry, but I’m also not going to take time out of my very busy schedule to educate myself on people that, honestly, don’t affect my day-to-day life. I don’t really feel the impact of what they do, and maybe one day I will, and maybe that’s the day that I will change my outlook and I will actually care about voting, but until that day comes, I’m going to focus my energy on the things that matter to me and the people in my life directly. For me, to have the biggest impact on my life and the lives of people around me, I need to be a little selfish in that respect and focus on what I’m doing and how I’m trying to make a difference in this world and for me that means teaching my sixth graders about how to be good people and showing them by example how to live a good life and be moral and have ethics and hopefully one day they will be able to go out into the world and they will be able to create change in whatever way they see fit.

Whenever the topic of politics comes up, especially in regards to people (seemingly) being ignorant and not voting, there’s always going to be controversy, there are always going to be people who don’t agree, and there are always going to be people who want to argue and say that you’re wrong. You can tell me I’m wrong all you want, it’s still not going to change how I think and how I live my life.

I will also say that I appreciate the people who do pay attention to this nonsense, because those are the people who are voting and hopefully putting into office people that deserve to be there. Maybe one day my priorities will change as I get older and I will actually care about this stuff and pay attention more, but until that day comes, I’m happy with how I live my life, even if others think I’m living in a bubble (because it’s a damn awesome bubble). I really couldn’t care less about voting at this point in my life, so thank you sir for offering to update my voter registration card, but I’ll take a hard pass.

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Filed under Society

12 tips to cruise stress-free

Kevin and I just got home from our first cruise together (and his first cruise ever, shocking, I know). While this was my 3rd cruise overall, it was the longest I’ve ever taken, and my first time on Norwegian Cruise Line. My first was a 4-day Bahamian cruise on Royal Caribbean for my friend Karen’s 30th, and while that trip was a blast simply because of the company (how could you not have a great time with 4 of your friends, especially when all of you are wearing shirts with the birthday girl’s face on them?), I definitely thought NCL was a better choice than my RC experience. I’m not sure what Norwegian cruise ships are like for 4-day trips, but if the shorter trips are anything like the 7-day was, I highly recommend NCL for all your cruising needs. And I’m not even being paid to write this review (although, Norwegian, if you’re reading this, I’ll take payment in the form of a free cruise, thanks).

honduras view

View from the top: Roatan, Honduras. You can see our ship off to the right, in port.

I would choose Norwegian over any other for the food alone. We only ate at the buffet for breakfast and lunch (when we weren’t eating lunch in port), which was still good as far as buffet food goes. We ate dinner exclusively at the two complimentary restaurants on board, Versailles and Aqua, both of which required resort casual attire, had a nice ambiance, and featured a nightly changing selection of delicious appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Compared to the dining room included on my RC cruise, the atmosphere and food itself was of a higher quality.

The entertainment was also very enjoyable, and there seemed to be plenty of options for everyone on board. But this isn’t a post about how awesome Norwegian Cruise Line is (although it was for us). This is simply a compilation of all my tips on how to cruise, and do it in a way that will save you time, money, and aggravation. In no particular order, here are 12 tips to cruising stress-free:

1. Make sure your room isn’t directly under a high-traffic public space (like a dining room). I didn’t consider this one ahead of time, and we ended up a floor directly below the main buffet room. Which was convenient when we wanted to eat breakfast, but the early risers scraping chairs across the floor while we were trying to sleep in was definitely annoying. There’s always going to be some noise you can’t control while you’re trying to sleep, but this is at least one variable you can research and try to correct.

2. Book excursions & make dinner reservations before you leave for your trip. Most cruise lines will have at least one main dining room with complimentary dinner, and you want to make sure you claim the time slot you want, otherwise you’ll get stuck with a shitty dinner time or worse, there won’t be any more available reservations & you’ll have to eat dinner at the buffet. Which I guess is cool if you’d rather eat food that isn’t as fancy or delicious. It’s also a good idea to book excursions ahead as well to save yourself the hassle of standing in line once on board the ship. This also ensures the excursions you want don’t book up before you get a chance to sign up. Keep in mind this doesn’t guarantee they will happen (we had 3 of our pre-paid excursions canceled & had to re-book once on board), so keep a few backups in mind as well.

3. Book the Ultimate (unlimited) Beverage Package. We got lucky that NCL was running a promo when we booked that gave us the option of booking UBP free (although Kevin is still convinced it was factored into our fees somehow and was never truly free). But if you plan on drinking anything other than juice or water (and this even applies to soda), you’ll want to consider adding this to your booking. It may seem like a lot of money per person per day, but those drinks add up fast on their own. You’ll be glad you did when you’re going up to the bar every half hour for “just one more” delicious drink of the day; I wouldn’t want to see our drink bill if we were paying out of pocket, I might faint.

4. If you get motion sickness, keep a pair of Sea Bands on or nearby at all times. These things saved my life. Not literally, but they definitely made my cruise enjoyable, without the drowsy side effects of medicine.

5. Pack clothing for all occasions. At the risk of over-packing, make sure you have a variety of outfits & footwear. Obviously bathing suits are a must. Beach/pool towels are unnecessary (and will just take up valuable luggage space), as the ship provides them. Bring a few nice outfits for dinner, and a sweatshirt for those cool, windy nights on the top deck. If you plan on doing water excursions, like snorkeling or dolphin encounters, bring a rash guard and board shorts to throw on over your bathing suit. I also recommend water shoes or Teva sandals (or something similar) for these as well. If you plan on hiking or doing tours with a lot of walking, bring sneakers & socks. Bring a small backpack or beach bag for any excursions off the ship. You’ll need a place to stow towels, water, cameras, change of dry clothes, and anything else you might want on shore.

6. Take bottled water with you when you board. You will need plenty of it in each port and on your excursions, and cruise lines allow you to bring your own on with you when you check in. You may feel like a nerd walking in with a case of water, but you’ll be glad you saved yourself the money later. I spent $3 on a case from Walgreens & we drank all 24 over the course of the week. Times that by roughly $2-$5 a bottle you’ll end up paying if you wait & buy as you go, and that’s a lot of dough you’ll save for more important things. Like souvenirs.

7. Bring a waterproof camera or phone for excursions you’ll get wet on. Whether you splurge on an expensive waterproof phone case or buy a $20 disposable water camera, make sure you have some way to capture memories on water excursions. If you want to go above and beyond with your photography, I recommend a Go Pro (especially for things like ziplining & cave tubing).

8. Bring reading material. Whether it’s a few books or magazines, or the novel-length instruction manual for the new gadget you just bought, bring something to occupy the downtime you will have at the pool, on the beach, if it rains, etc.

9. Make sure you have plenty of small bills. While it’s not always necessary to have the local country’s currency (most countries accept USD), it is a good idea to have $1s, $5s and $10s, and not just a stack of bigger bills. Even having a wad of $20s can be inconvenient, because if you plan on doing shore excursions, or need taxi rides, or plan on ordering food/beverages off the ship, you’ll want smaller bills to tip the drivers, tour guides and waiters who provide you their services.

10. If you have a full day at sea, get up early enough to snag a lounge chair by the pool. We had two full days at sea, and wanted nothing more than to lay by the pool, soak up the sun and some fruity drinks and relax. Cruise ships ask guests not to reserve pool chairs for more than an hour (as a courtesy to other guests), but no one follows this rule, which ends up screwing over good people like us who try to play by the rules. The first sea day, we barely found chairs that were together, and they were off on the side, away from the pool and near the basketball court (not the ideal deck location for sunbathing). So on our last day on board, our second sea day, we got up a little earlier and dropped our things off before heading to breakfast. This way, we were able to get a good spot on the top deck above the pool and away from the chaos, but still close enough to feel apart of the action and take a dip when it got too hot. We also only left our things unattended for about an hour while we ate breakfast and went back to our room to freshen up, so we were still able to “follow the rules” and be courteous to the other guests. Nothing more annoying than trying to find a place to lay out only to have them all covered with towels that no one ever comes to claim. People can be quite selfish, so keep this in mind and find a happy medium when it comes to claiming your chairs.

11. Whatever your budget, add an extra $100-$200 per person. When you book your cruise, the cruise line will let you know (at the end of all your paperwork, in very small print) that there will be a daily service fee per person charged to your account once on board. This helps take care of the housekeeping and waitstaff that will take care of you once on board, so I’m totally fine with it. However, it isn’t paid up front, so be prepared to provide a credit card for these fees as well as any other on-board charges that you may find yourself spending. All ship purchases that aren’t included (like souvenirs, extra drinks, taxes, etc.) will be charged to this card, so make sure you budget for this when saving for your trip. It’s also customary to leave an additional tip for your cabin steward (as you have the same person the whole trip who makes up your room and provides daily ship info and leaves you fun towel animals), but this can be given directly to that individual, and in cash.

12. Be prepared to gain 5-10 lbs. With the amount of food and drink you will consume (and it’s all so delicious, you will want to try it all), it’s not uncommon to gain extra weight while on a cruise. Unless you are one of those super health-conscious people who makes use of the ship’s fitness center, don’t worry about the few pounds you’ll walk off the ship with. If you’re really that concerned about it, try to cut back on the extras you usually eat or drink before you go, as well as when you return home again. As well, take the stairs on the ship as often as possible, and only use the elevators when absolutely necessary, such as boarding and disembarking (with all your luggage). Once your body recovers from the overload of food and drink that it’s not used to and goes back to it’s normal diet, you should be fine.

Whether you’ve been on a cruise before or if this is your first time, these tips will all help when booking and planning, and when it comes time to actually set sail, you’ll be cruising stress-free and at ease.

ship pano

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Filed under Travel, vacation

That’s it, I’m moving to the sun

I don’t know how I ever survived as  Northerner. Because I fucking hate the cold.

Even by Florida standards, winter is freezing and miserable for me and all I want to do is curl into a little warm ball under my bed covers and stay there until spring. Which is technically only a month or two away (perks of living in a warm climate state), but still, a month or two too long. My 17 years of actual winters in Pennsylvania have done nothing for me; almost 9 years of living in Florida have completely erased that.

Being cold and “surviving” through winter makes me want to do nothing but sleep or stay in bed all day. Which doesn’t bode well for me, considering I’m a (somewhat) active member of society, at least in that I have a full-time job I have to actually get out of bed to go do on a daily basis. If only my school participated in virtual classes, then I could just teach in my sweatpants from my couch. Damnit, how do I get that job? Stay focused, Julia, that is a whole other topic.

As I was saying, I can’t stand it when I can’t get warm. I absolutely hate it. In fact, even as I type these words on the keyboard, my fingers are numb and my toes have lost the feeling in them. I’ve quickly realized there are many everyday actions I’ve taken for granted when it’s warm, because when it’s cold, I hate my life.

Some things I hate when it’s cold:

Putting your bare feet on hardwood floors.

Curling up on a leather couch.

Sitting down on a toilet seat first thing in the morning.

Sitting on vinyl kitchen chairs.

Because all of these objects are freezing, and all of these actions yield less-than-pleasant feelings.

My apartment possesses all of these things.

You know what else I hate? Heating units that don’t properly warm your apartment. Instead, they warm the living room where they are located and leave every other room in this joint a walk-in freezer. Thanks a lot, wall unit.

I really don’t know what I’m going to do until spring.

Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer though, so maybe I’ll survive. Otherwise I’m moving to the equator. Or the sun.

winter-f-u-c-k-cold-weather-demotivational-poster-1262901961

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Filed under Entertainment, Humor, Opinion, Uncategorized

How to get past “not wanting” to write (if only I knew)

There’s nothing worse than being afraid of the thing you live to do, the thing you exist for. Writing may not (yet) be how I make my living, but it always has been, and probably always will be, who I am, an integral part of my existence. I couldn’t ever see myself not being a writer, unless someone paid me never to write again, and even that would probably never happen (c’mon, I’m not that easily bought. I hope).

But writing means sitting down with my thoughts, and that is pretty terrifying. I have several projects going at the moment (ADD at its finest), and while working on them (and one day completing them) is something I want to do, it’s also something I don’t want to do. Because writing means dredging up the past, and reliving the bad parts is just not something I’m eager to do. I know it’s a part of healing and letting go (and it’s definitely a necessary part of my writing process) but bringing up memories of the things you’ve done and had done to you, and the people you used to know isn’t always easy or fun.

I often wonder what would happen to me if I didn’t write. Would my thoughts just back up into my brain until they explode? Would I go on living my life exactly as I have all along, unchanged? I’m constantly in a battle with myself over what to do: to write or not to write. Obviously the answer is to write, so I guess the better question is to ask: how do I go about doing it in a way that isn’t going to completely destroy me? How do I write about the things that used to tear me apart inside without letting it tear me apart inside now? How do you keep the old you from seeping back in and taking over the new, much less stressed, much less anxious, much less neurotic you?

I’m hoping I find the answers to my questions. Because to not write is to not be who I really am. To not write is to deny myself the satisfaction of doing what I know and love. To not write is to deprive you, my devoted readers, of my hilarious and sarcastically-delivered stories of randomness and idiocy. And let’s face it, that would just be criminal.

Now it’s off to tackle the thing I love and hate more than anything in this world: writing.

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Filed under Advice, Entertainment, Opinion