NaBloPoMo #1: A day late and more than a dollar short

…but better late than never?

With yesterday being November 1, we saw the beginning of what is always a huge month in the writing world. National Novel Writing Month and National Blog Posting Month are taking over my Twitter feed and Facebook like nobody’s business.

I’ve always wanted to participate in this, but never seemed to find the time. And yesterday followed the trend. I had intentions of writing something, but before I knew it, I had turned off my computer and, quite frankly, didn’t feel like waiting for it to boot back up. But I did write. In a notebook. With a pen. I KNOW. It caused me to tweet this:

Putting pen to paper is so cathartic!

But I wrote. And it felt awesome.

And then this evening, I saw that Mary is participating in NaBloPoMo. And because she is often the inspiration for a lot of things in my life, I’m going to suck it up and do it too. SO I’ll post TWICE tonight to make up for yesterday.

I’ll go more in depth with what I wrote about last night in the next post, but it was basically about filling holes. One hole that’s been taking over my life lately is my lack of writing, in all venues, not just this blog.

There’s only one way to fill in holes and that is to dump a little shovelful of dirt in at a time, right? Here’s to that first shovel. It’s always the hardest, but before I know it, the hole will be filled in and I won’t have to jump over it anymore.

Ignorance Is Not Always Bliss

Have you ever felt so completely ignorant about something that you were actually ashamed? I’ve felt that way a couple of times in the past year about one particular issue.

One of my assignments for my freelance work recently was to research attractions in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona for a “vacation planner” for an art exhibition happening in New Mexico later this spring. Throughout my research, I learned a lot about the Navajo Nation and Navajo traditions.

It stirred in me this strong desire to travel out west again, to hit places like New Mexico and Arizona. A desire that I had no idea I would feel when I went to Montana last October. But it was that same sense of ignorance and a desire to learn that made me crave the West.

As an educated 24-year-old woman, I know very little about Native Americans. The people who were on this land long before the colonists, the people who lived and loved and worshipped the land.

For those who may not have been reading my blog at the time I was in Montana having my first experience with Native American culture (click the link to read the whole post!), I want to share this excerpt of a post with you:

It was a group of six men called the Chief Cliff Singers from the Kootenai Tribe in Montana. They are led by a man named Mike Kenmille, and his fellow performers tonight were all his sons and nephews. They used a large drum that is, get this…1,000 years old. When they first struck the drum, I got chills. They all play it together and sing and while I have absolutely no clue what they were saying, I couldn’t help but shiver at the sheer significance of it all.

For the second song, Mike told us that he also had his great-nephew there, an adorable little boy I had noticed dancing in his mother’s arms, and brought him up on stage. He told us about how in their tribe, children learn the songs and how to play the drum while still in the womb. As this little boy sat on his dad’s lap on stage, he was mimicking the drumming actions of his father, uncles, cousins and great-uncle. During this song, I teared up. I was on the verge of completely sobbing and I couldn’t really explain why at first. But then I realized why.

I am 23 years old. And this is the first experience I have had with the native people of my country. Their traditions are so strong, so sound and so much a part of their lives that I couldn’t help but wonder what they would have been like had their land not been taken away from them. And why…why in the world did I never have an experience like this earlier in my life?

I would love to get the opportunity to experience reservation life someday and write about it. To learn the history and the traditions and the culture. To get to know the people. To go back to Montana and watch the Kootenai children learn the songs. To understand why it’s so important that Navajo children learn how to weave. After all, their history is, in a way, our history.

I know more about aboriginal Australians than I do about my own country’s indigenous population, and that is unacceptable in my mind. But I think it’s representative of our society these days. People are fascinated by aboriginal Australians, by African tribes, by the Aztecs and the Mayans (if only because they’re telling us when the world is going to end). But not many Americans will seek knowledge about Native Americans.

I’m hoping to be able to change that for myself in the future. Maybe that’s an angle I’ll have to take in a travel pitch sometime soon.

And the Bad Blogger Award goes to…

Me!

I have been atrociously remiss with blogging the past week or so, but life kind of got in the way. So what things have been taking up my blogging time? Well, here are just a few:

  • A breakfast date with my favorite Texans: Last Monday I met up with Mary and Drew for breakfast. They were in town for a family event and before Mary took Drew to the airport, we met at a nearby Denny’s for bacon flapjacks, breakfast burritos and skillets, as well as lots of laughter and catching up. Even if it was only for an hour, I’m so glad I got to see them.
  • Car problems: On Monday when I went out to my car to leave for breakfast, I was not-so-pleasantly surprised to find that someone had knocked my driver’s side mirror off. Soooo there’s been a lot of hoopla with that…calling the insurance company, duct taping the mirror on, searching for the part cheap online, trying to organize a friend of the family to install it for me, etc. Yayyy for ignorant people who live in my apartment building.
  • Childhood purging: On Wednesday last week, I went home to help my mom clean out my bedroom there. This meant getting rid of pretty much all signs of my childhood. Stuffed animals? Gone. Really embarrassing CD collection? Gone. (And yes, that is the Space Jam soundtrack.) Glow in the dark stars on the ceiling? Adios. These are things I wasn’t ready to part with when I moved out in December 2009, but it’s time to say goodbye now.
  • Writing, writing, writing: So I’ve been writing, just not here. I’ve been working on my travel writing course assignments, which have been…interesting. Not entirely thrilled with them so far, but hopefully I’ll be getting better. AND I’ve recently become a writer for Go! Girl Guides, which I am psyched about. My first post for them went up on Friday about how to conquer public transportation, so go check it out! I’m anxious to write more for them and see where this could lead!
  • Reading, reading, reading: They say you should read what you want to write, so I’ve been absorbing myself in travel magazines lately, reading them cover to cover and trying to pick up inspiration, tips and some goals to work toward.
  • Best burger ever: I spent Friday and Saturday with Kirsten. Much of that time was spent watching episodes of How I Met Your Mother, including the one where they are on the hunt for the best burger in NYC. This reminded me that I have been craving a burger for like a month now, so we set out on a mission. Destination? Ray’s Hell Burger in Arlington. Time the establishment opens? Noon. Time we got there? 12:05. Number of tables available? 0. My burger of choice? The New Jack Zing. A cajun spiced burger, cooked PERFECTLY and OH so juicy, pepperjack cheese, grilled onions, charred jalapeños, lettuce, tomato and raw red onions. All on a fantastic bun. Number of paper towels I used? Five. Number of times I refilled my water? Three. Worth it? Absolutely. The best burger I’ve ever had, bar none. I can’t wait to go back.
  • Aussie Aussie Aussie!: (Oi Oi Oi!) Last night, I got to spend some time catching up with several of my friends from my semester abroad in Australia. One of the Australian girls is in the States this week to see her American boyfriend, who was part of my program. They decided to come to the DC area since Dustin, Will and I are all local and we could get a pretty big group together. Another one of our girl friends came down from Syracuse, so we had a decent sized group put together! I learned that I can revert back to my Australia partying style very easily, that Aussie accents sound a lot thicker after three years away from it, and that even after three years apart, some things never change and I still adore these people. It was a lovely night (that led to a not-so-lovely morning) and I am thrilled we all got together.
And of course today was Easter, so there was the requisite family time, which I always love. Hopefully I will be able to get back into the swing of blogging again this week. I do have a lot of things to be working on right now though, so we shall see! 
I hope everyone had a lovely weekend!