Black Friday Sucks

Black Friday Is SO Overrated

Sincerely, a broke, Thanksgiving loving, college student.

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The year is 2008. Facebook is on the rise, YouTube is slowly becoming a Thing, and no one could stop talking about the Jonas Brothers. It's November, and I watch as my parents hustle around Costco, buying up every deal and pushing me aside in the shopping cart to make room for the turkey. I remember the ride home, surrounded by gigantic rolls of toilet paper, packs of fried onions, and the sense of excitement for the upcoming holiday.

The day comes, we have a feast laid out, and seeing as how we had just moved to Southern California, there was only one other family in the vicinity that could make it to Thanksgiving dinner without having to drive an excess 300 miles. My mom had toiled since the morning on the food, and my dad had stocked the fridge with Heineken while also fiddling with the karaoke machine. Around three hours before the designated Thanksgiving Dinner Time, we got a phone call.

"Hey, we're so sorry but we don't think we'll be able to make it tonight. We're at J.C. Penny right now and there's a really good deal on winter boots so we're probably going to wait it out. Save us some leftovers!"

The crushing disappointment on my parent's face sealed the deal for me. Black Friday was the scum of the earth.

"Black Friday", even the name was vile. Who's idea was it to follow such a nice sounding holiday like "Thanksgiving", a beautiful day with slightly dubious origins that nevertheless celebrated being thankful for what you have, with an event so sinister sounding that it might as well have come from a Halloween movie? Black Friday. There have been deaths on Black Friday. 10 so far, and 11 injuries counting.

All for what? A TV that's 50$ cheaper? A Cuisine Art Mixer for 25% off? You don't even bake that often Karen, don't delude yourself. Worst of all are the people who are literally stabbing other people for a frickin parking spot. Go on any other day and that Walmart parking lot would be empty and all yours- go on Black Friday? Get impaled.

Okay, maybe I understand in the dark years without Amazon, or Ebay, or TaoBao, or whatever, there was a kind of draw to Black Friday. It was like Christmas but for adults. You had to buy your own presents, whatever but now, in the age of cyber shopping and one-day deliveries, I don't understand it anymore. They even have a thing called Cyber Monday! And I just got a notification from Amazon that they'd be having "Black Friday" all week next week.

So, this Thanksgiving, resist the urge to pack up your car with camping supplies and travel the exotic location of Macy's to sit out in the cold for 42$ off a portable grill and enjoy the holiday inside, in the warmth, surrounded by food as it should be. And if only if, you're full and happy and fat, and you feel a slight twitch to shop for a 12 pack of cotton Nike socks, pick up your phone or computer, and go to town. You've earned it.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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My First College Gal Pal Road Trip Was Amazing

Every girl should have one good girls trip.

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In some way or another, everybody has a list of things they want to do in their lives before it's all over. After all, we're human. There's adventure to be had in every life. One thing I have always wanted to do before I grew too old and grey was go on a road trip with my gal pals to the beach. A couple weeks ago, I achieved this memorable milestone, and it allowed me to open up to new surroundings and experiences.

On this trip, I went with two of my friends from college, Kait and Lindsey, to visit my roommate Elizabeth in Virginia Beach. This was pretty big for Lindsey and I because neither of us had been to Virginia Beach before. Thankfully Elizabeth and Kait knew their way around the city, so we never got lost on our way to and fro.

Like most vacations, my favorite parts probably took place at the beach. I'm always at utter peace stomping through mushy sand or leaning down to splash the salty water that tries to knock my short self over. We took pictures and did something us college girls rarely have time to do especially in school: Relax.

The four of us did not live up to the crazed stereotype of girl trips in movies. Although I finally got a chance to sing along to Taylor Swift in a car ride with my friends, so that's always a plus. We played "Top Golf" one day, and by some miracle, I actually won the second game by a fair amount after much humiliation in the first one. We visited some of Elizabeth's family, and I finally got to meet her giant dog Apollo (I call him 'Wolf Dog'). Everyday was another chance to ask with enthusiasm: "So what are we doing today?"

Our trip wasn't like the movies where we all cried or confessed our deepest darkest secrets. Everything the four of us shared was laughter and this calm feeling of being at home, in the chaotic peace of each other's company. We understand each other a little better due to finally seeing what we're like outside of Longwood University. After this, all I can say is that we're most definitely planning the next one!

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