Veganuary

My news feed on Facebook is filled–well, memes of course, but also with people breathing out 2016 and embracing their goals of 2017. There are people who are celebrating that they didn’t smoke during the last year, and they will continue on, people who are quitting smoking this year, people who are declaring their exercise regiments, their upcoming sobriety and so on. All of which are met with well wishes and support because good for them for trying to better themselves!

My personal goal for 2017 is to write a page a day (at least), but also to participate in Veganuary. Veganuary is where you go vegan for the month of January. This is not the first time I’ve attempted to go vegan, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Though this time, I am purely doing it for the month of January, and I will go onto why. However, I’m intrigued, as I always am, by the amount of aggression I am met with when I decide to change something about my diet that isn’t simply taking out fatty or sugary foods.

I’ve been (mostly) pescatarian for the last nine years, which is vegetarian though with the addition of seafood. There have been some more recent slip ups, however, it’s something I’ve been been happy with. When I decided to do this, I had a fair amount of people who didn’t understand why I would do this, and would try and get me to eat meat. My parents didn’t really understand it either, my grandparents thought that meant that I still eat chicken (and they’re not the only ones, though I’m not really certain as to where the logic of that comes from), I had a few people try to literally wave steak under my nose to tempt me into eating it, and my ex’s family even once invited me over for dinner, knowing my dietary choices, and put meat in everything before telling me the salad was safe, though then putting chunks of ham in it.

I once wanted to test out whether or not I had a dairy or gluten sensitivity, which involved cutting both of those things out for a couple of months and then slowly introducing them back into my diet. Again, people lamented, would try and tempt me with cheese and the like.

Since telling some people that my goal is to go vegan for the month of January, I’ve had quote the backlash–people trying to tempt me with things I’ve said I wanted to try, people telling me about local cheese farmers, and even one person saying, “What’s the point? You’re not going to get anything out of it.”

Don’t worry, having been pescatarian for nine years, I’ve gained a thick skin when it comes to people commenting on my dietary choices.

However, I’m ever curious as to why it is that people feel the need to do it. They support people who want to make healthier dietary choices, just so long as it still includes meat, eggs and dairy. Firstly, I’m not really certain as to why people feel that they have the right to comment on what I eat or experiment eating, at all. And secondly, they don’t bother to actually listen to me when I try to tell them exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing. They just hear that it’s not what they’re doing.

So allow me to illustrate why it is that I’m choosing to participate in Veganuary 2017:

  1. Environmentally friendly
    I’m huge on trying to help the environment, and in my current position, there’s little I can really do other than being conscious of what I buy and from where I buy it. However, I do know and understand that the meat and dairy industries are extremely wasteful, and raising livestock in the manner of factory farms is extremely harmful for the environment.
    I’ve had people in the past tell me that protesting eating meat/dairy doesn’t make a difference to protest by cutting out meat–after all, I’m just one person. However, due to many people taking on less meaty diets, the meat industry has been steadily decreasing by 10% since 2017. I can’t find the statistic now, unfortunately, though I will say that I recall reading that in 2014, the meat industry lost 14% of profits due to a movement called Meatless Mondays, where people just don’t consume meat one day a week.
    This is important because it takes an excruciating amount of water to raise one cow, one chicken, or one pig. Then farms have to deal with their waste, which contaminates underground water reserves that many people rely on. The Meatless Monday website reports that it takes an estimate 1,850 gallons of water just to produce one pound of beef.
    Many people forget that the dairy industry will use ample water as well, since it does have to keep those cows, goats and sheep raised. And let’s not forget the eggs!
    I am of course, talking about mass-producing farms/factory farms. There are many farms with ethical and sustainable practices, and I am grateful to say that I worked for one. However, especially with my upcoming lack of work, I can’t afford to support those farms. So in the mean time, I would like to start my year with a protest to the big industry.
  2. Get back on track to a healthier lifestyle 
    I’ve gone through a  rough year–every one has. Though when I go through a rough time, I find that I forget how to eat. Especially with moves and breakups. I find that all my abilities go into survival-through-the-stress mode, and I simply forget what it was that I used to cook, how I used to eat. I know that I used to be a healthy eater, but I can’t remember what kind of thought I would put into planning a meal.
    So forcing myself to think about what I’m eating is a really good way to get back into that. I used to have a great interest in nutrition, and still do. I just have to remember that spark. By eliminating something from my diet, I then have to be a conscious shopper, cook, and consumer. It means that I’m paying attention to ingredients again, and I’m not buying insta-foods either. I’m cooking in bulk, and I’m remembering what it’s like to have home-cooked food again. And I’m making sure that I am having eclectic meals that will ensure I’m getting the nutrients i’ll be lacking, which sparks creativity. I do love to be creative in the kitchen.
  3. Personal perseverance  
    It’s just good to have goals, and the more challenging they are, the better you feel when you’re done, especially when it’s something for a better lifestyle. Knowing you can do the touch stuff can help someone set harder goals and aim higher. Right now, after this last year, I feel like I need to accomplish some of those touch goals.

So when someone talks about going vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, any of those things that is against the norm regarding food, be supportive and recognize that they’re trying to better themselves. Help them come up with recipes, find alternatives, and just be a friend as you would trying to help someone cut back on smoking or alcohol. Be supportive.  Don’t be a jerk.

The Implications of My Recent Ridiculousness

With everything muddling around in my brain, I keep trying to figure out what my best options are. I can continue with my plan for Durham, which was my top choice of the schools I applied to. However, it means I have to wait until next October before I can start school. I only wanted to go to school here because at the time tuition was going to be cheaper (except now it’ll be £900 more next year, which means it’s no longer cheaper that the other schools I was looking at) and because I wanted to be closer to Granny. She’s no longer here.

If I go back to the states, with a little luck, I can be back in school for winter quarter, spring quarter at the latest. I could start at Western and transfer to another school when I’m more stable. I would have more options for student loans and I would be eligible for scholarships.

However, if I leave here, I don’t know that I’ll come back to the UK again. I don’t have a reason to. I mean, I have a couple of friends, of course, and I have extended family, but I’m not particularly close with my family. I don’t know that I’d make the journey across the pond again.

The other thing to consider as well is my location. I am so very grateful to my boss/land lord. He’s been so supportive and fantastic. However, after January, there will be very little work, if there’s anything at all. Where I’m at is a tourist village and it mostly shuts down in the winter. If I can’t find some work, then I don’t have anything to do or any way of supporting myself from January to April (the village begins to wake up again at Easter).

As it is, I’m working three days a week, and spending a lot of time contemplating my situation, trying to decide if I can make it through the winter and just keep on with my goal to go to Durham, or if I should not waste time and go to school somewhere in the States.

I miss the days when I had a set plan I was working towards. I really did mess this all up. I was so close, too.

Searching for the Moon

I’ve been in hiding. I’ve been hiding from WordPress, unsure how I should write about everything that has been happening with me, or whether I should write about it at all. In the end, this blog is about my journey as a mature student navigating her way through to a higher education. This blog was started before I had my first class at the community college, and part of the journey is who I am as an individual. So yes, I will write about what has been happening in the last few weeks.

A week and a half ago I found out that my partner had been cheating on me. This is the person who wanted to travel to the UK with me, be my support and so on. So, four days before our anniversary I bought him a train ticket to the airport and he went home.

I spent the next couple of days of course heartbroken, but also in deep contemplation, and experiencing a lot of anger. I altered my plans because we couldn’t find a place to live because he wasn’t a student. So I put off school for a year so we could work on getting settled over the winter. I altered my plans because I thought we were building something together.

I felt lost. I wanted to give up school altogether and just go home. I felt stupid for thinking that I should be trying to better myself, that I was ever going to be anything more than I am, which at this point is a waitress floating from disposable job to disposable job. My compromise to myself was that I would go home and try and get into Western Washington University, if for no other reason than because I needed to finish something.

Two days after he left, I received a text from my uncle letting me know that my grandmother here in the UK was in her final hours. At the very beginning of this blog I wrote an entry explaining why I started looking at schools in the UK, my grandmother being the main reason for it. I wanted to be close to her. So when I found this out, I got in my car and drove the four hours (plus an hour and a half of getting lost) to the residential home she was in, and was able to hold her hand as she passed on. I was the only one there, and really didn’t know what to do. My mom booked a hotel nearby for me, and I went and hid out there for the night, falling obnoxiously ill with a cold.img_4733

The next day I went to Warwick, trying to find some inspiration for what I should be doing. I figured that being in Shakespeare country should do the trick to get my head back in the game. But, again, I was simply lost. As I mentioned before, my reasoning for wanting to be in the UK was because I wanted to be near Granny, and now she is gone. My partner is gone. I am alone. Between the hurt of my partner’s betrayal and the mourning of the most inspirational person I have ever known, I was a wreck. I wasn’t eating, and I couldn’t even focus on the history that was around me. I was just wandering, and every now and then dropping into pubs or coffee shops to get out of the cold, and just staring at whatever I ordered.img_4731

Finally I booked myself another hotel and just hid out until the next day. I turned the heat up in the room, took a bath, watched television, wrote, and ordered terrible food at the restaurant. I needed it.

The following day I was feeling a little better, and went to Stratford-upon-
Avon. Again, I fell into the same lethargy as before, unable to focus on what was around me. And I could only find hour parking that I had to pay for, so I made my way back to North Wales after my parking ran out.

It was a beautiful drive. The leaves are late in turning and falling, it would seem, and so I drove through the hills and woods, enjoying the sun and the orange, reds, brows and yellows. Fall is my fimg_4729avorite season, which essentially helped my mood. That is until three stupid pheasants decided to cross the nice windy road. I hit one of them, which was terrifying. I’ve never hit an animal before, in my 13 years of driving.

I couldn’t stand the idea of being in the village, so I went further into the hills to see a friend of mine when I got back into North Wales. I hadn’t seen him since the last time I was over here for Christmas, right before I got laid off from my job which started me on this whole journey. It was nice seeing him, and what’s more, he was the first person that I could fully talk to about everything, face to face. All my family and friends have been very supportive, but they’ve all been over a screen. It was nice to just let everything out face to face with someone.

This was on Monday that I came back to Wales. I didn’t really think things could get any worse. However, as the whole world knows, it did get worse with the announcement of the winner of the presidency. This is something for another post. However, I will say that I cried. And what’s more, I continued to shed tears as I read horror stories of the harassment my friends were getting for not being white, for not being straight, for not being cis, for not being a man. These are amazing people who offer the world so much, and the world just can’t accept them for existing.

There’s more regarding the implications of everything that’s happened in the last week and how it influences my education, but that too will be for another entry. For now, the icing on the cake so far (who knows, there might be another layer of cake coming!) is that my car won’t start. We bought the car with the intention of my partner using it as something to keep him occupied. Now it won’t start, I can’t seem to jump it. So now I’m stuck. I should have gone grocery shopping when I had the chance the other day.

However, after having a very long day in which I was feeling very sorry for myself after a night out last night, I made plans with my hilly friend to go and try and find a place that the clouds weren’t so we could catch the Super Moon tonight. It was after I hauled myself out of bed and through the general cleaning rituals that I discovered my car only wants to click when I try to jump it.  It won’t start. I really was looking forward to searching for the moon.

One Month On

We have officially been here for one month: and by here I mean in the UK. Things are very different than what I thought they would be after the first month.

Of course, we are not in Durham, or Newcastle, or anywhere near, but are in surprisingly sunny North Wales. I say surprisingly, because Wales is not known for its sunshine, but rather the lushness of grass brought on by onslaughts of constant downpour. Though so far, we have been lucky, despite the sudden drop in temperature.

However, as mentioned before, I am working, have a place to live, and have a car. Having a car is liberating. It feels a lot more worthwhile. During my time off, my boyfriend and I travel about, looking for things to do, or just checking out places to walk. We went to Aberystwith last week, and regularly go to Caenarfon and Bangor, and of course, our favorite, Criccieth.img_4611

I’m still attempting to continue on with my studying. I have just finished my second book that is on the reading list for first year English students at Durham, and am half way through the third. I’m slowly taking notes, taking down quotes, and writing out reflections in hopes that I won’t have to do too much extra research in order to remember what I read this time next year. But so far I have read The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, V for Vendetta by Alan Moore, and am half way through Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (which, by the way, I thought Jane Austin wrote this book).

I feel bad because I basically read the first book that was supposed to be read, and the last book on the list, and I think that I figured out the direction of the course and essentially the theme of it. I basically just read the ending. Oh well, I will be ahead of the game next year anyway.

I’m still gearing up to get involved with NaNoWriMo in a week. I am still plagued by the worry of my supposedly doomed hard drive. My goal was to have my last NaNoWriMo novel completely edited and in the process of being critiqued by Alpha and Beta readers by now. However, since it is hopefully being retrieved, I just worry. I find it’s creeping into my ability to write as it is. My computer has been somewhat restored, with a third of the memory (I used to have a terabyte for a hard drive, and now only have 350 GB), and through the school I was able to reinstall Word. However, my friend’s friend, who is working on my broken hard drive also has my external hard drive, and thus I am struggling to trust saving my documents onto my computer. It’s definitely influencing the amount of writing I’m doing, as well as where I write.

Thankfully, I am in a fantastically inspiring country side, and my creative juices can flow a little more freely come this NaNoWriMo.

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Digi Again

Finally, I’m back on a computer. I’ve been trying not to get too attached to this, as I hear tell that the guy that fixed my computer–or at least put in a new hard drive–put in a 350 GB hard drive instead of a 1 TB drive, and will be sorting that out later this week.

Any way, the news on my computer is that my old hard drive is completely fried. He was unable to get my files off it. However, he did say that I could look into some companies that will do it, though it could cost my hundreds of pounds. “You’ll have to decide whether or not your writing is worth it or not,” he told me.

Whether it’s worth it to me or not. A writers writing should always be worth it.

Currently, the hard drive is with a friend’s friend who is happy to work on it and thinks he can manage to sort it out and retrieve the files for me. So he has that an my external hard drive. If he can’t manage it, then yes, I am absolutely going to find a way of coughing up the hundreds of pounds to get this done. Where there is a Will there is a way, and there most certainly is a Will.

However, I have lost a great many of my programs such as Word 2013 which I have absolutely no idea how I got to begin with (though the repair guy was more than happy to hook me up with Word 2007, it seems archaic after the luxuries of 2013), Scrivener (which I actually paid for, though never really used), my video editing software, and so on. I’m sure with time they will come back to me, as will my files.

In the meantime, I am working on recreating the Windows settings that I had before. I had some really amazing artwork as my background that I got from a fellow blogger (though am embarrassed to say I don’t remember which one) that I sorely miss. But! I am thrilled with my creative replacement idea!

I have gone through and found as many images and quotes and prompts that have to do with writing that I can. I have put them into one file and made them a rotating background. So now, every time I turn on my computer, I will see a different background telling me or inspiring me to write. I’m hoping it’ll work.

But I do want to say thank you to everyone who had suggestions for things to do regarding my computer horrors. I appreciate your support and knowledgeable input!

Computer distress!!

As soon as I posted my optimism about getting writing projects done, my computer goes black, and starts clicking. The keyboard lights up and turns off again, lights up and goes off again, all the time an audible clicking. 

Every writer knows the horror of a computer malfunction, when everything they’re working on is on the device that’s going insane. 

I’m looking for help right now. After turning the compter on and off, plugging it in and unplugging it, I still only get this screen:


It somethis will repeat the text down the page, but so far nothing else. 

How do I save my writing?

Coming to Terms with Being in the Village

It’s been interesting being back in this village. I have lived here before, and as the seasons go on, it gets a bit grim. Work stops, people go home and stop visiting, and those who remain either spend all their time in the pub or stay indoors just trying to conserve their money and stay warm.

However, there are a few benefits of staying here for a few months. One of which being that I think it will only inspire my success at uni when I go this time next year. The other is that I can read all the assigned books for next year, and get a head start on it.

However, the other thing that I’m looking forward to being able to participate in is NaNoWriMo. I had given up on that, since I was going to be fully in school and working. But now that I’m just working, and I know the work isn’t going to be abundant, it gives me time to work on my writing, as is always the goal.

I’m tempted to continue on with my story that I started for CampNaNoWriMo, but I think that there is more that I have to experience to be able to make that happen. We shall see. It’s strange what I come up with as the days get closer to the start date.

That being said, I am almost finished editing my NaNoWriMo project from 2014, which was the first one I participated in while writing this blog. Once that’s done, I’ll be looking for Beta readers. It’s rather exciting! Once I get through a round of that, then I’ll try and find my publisher. I’ve got a good feeling about this particular story.

As for being in the village, the weather has been surprisingly nice, and warm. Today we are going to be going for a walk, somewhere. Not sure where. But as long as the sky is blue, we should definitely be taking advantage of it.