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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Insanity, or What Is Otherwise Known As My Life...

I'll be the first to admit that it has been far too long since I last posted a blog, and even longer since I wrote one that was lengthy enough to sum up pretty much even a fraction of everything that's been going on in my life as of late. Well, let me just tell you--there has been a lot happening in the world of Kelly. Some good, some bad, all stressful. Apparently, this stress thing only increases with age, or so I hear. Honestly? I reached maximum level about a month or so ago, and now I'm just creating completely new levels and varieties of stress. Maybe I can get paid for said inventions. Or something. So, where to begin...

My last post gave a (very) brief description/summary of Jamie's wedding weekend. I can't reiterate this enough: it was incredible. It also feels like it happened about a million years ago. Okay, a thousand, but still. In reality, that weekend happened only 2 months ago. Wow, even saying it--with all my knowledge of the truth of that statement--seems like I just have to be wrong. For starters, less than two weeks after I attended and participated in that amazing event--and it was definitely an event--the shit storm that has been my dealings with all things health insurance began--nay, it attacked. I knew that I would be removed from my parents insurance effective the first day of the month after my 26th birthday (read: June 1st, 2012). As such, I arranged to have my insurance through work start exactly on June 1st--or so I thought. Turns out, after calling me a liar for not having a "qualifying event", they required a piece of paper that stated I was no longer covered under my previous insurance. It would have been nice for them to let me know that when I signed up online for said insurance--and specified all of the intricate details. But, you know, saying I was approved and stating that the insurance would become effective on June 1st is almost like the same thing. Oh, I'm sorry--that's actually the complete opposite information. I was especially fond of the multiple ways they made me feel like it was not only my fault that I didn't know it was opposite day on the day I filled out all that information, .but also that I was a complete moron--I think just in general judging by their treatment.  It took 18 days to get all of this figured out, and if they had been left on their own I'd probably still be waiting. They don't exactly strike me as the most intelligent bunch--and "they" seems to include every single employee of BCBSAL. The benefits department of my job went above and beyond to help me out, and once I got in touch with the right people it was literally taken care of in less than 24 hours. Somehow, though, those crafty insurance people managed to remain completely and utterly befuddled about, well, everything. I'm afraid to imagine how their office is run, or how disorganized it must be (read: in my mind, I see rats and trash everywhere, at least 7 coffee pots simply because they couldn't figure out the directions on the first 6, and uber-organzied brain goes black, too pained to let my imagination go any further). Also, the bathroom must be entirely too complicated for them, even in a group. And I pray they all take the bus everywhere, because the thought of them on the road...oh look, my brain is going black again. Perhaps I'm being a little mean, but seeing as how they've written the book on bitchy douchebaggery, I somehow don't feel bad about anything I've said. If you're offended, you should hear what my brain says about them that my mouth has yet to admit to being a part of.

Also, now that I'm 2 months in with my new "insurance", I've come to realize that I've been screwed in every possible way by that "company" since day one--and not ever even sort of in a fun way. I hope they are getting some sort of pleasure out of it, because I sure as hell am not. Oh wait--I actually hope they grow enough brains to go fuck themselves instead, if only because I know they'd mess even that up and hopefully puncture an organ or something. Whew--even I was unaware of how deep my rage ran until right now. Anway, my plan apparently isn't working towards a deductible like most, but instead requires me to pay 100% of every prescription each and every time. So, a prescription (well, the closest alternative, since the one I had previously been on was--no shit--the only one not covered by my plan) that used to cost me $10 was--wait for it--$100 when I filled it a couple of days ago. Needless to say, I'm looking into other insurance plans and companies. If health insurance is going to cost me over $100 a month, I'd like it to actually fucking benefit me, you know, AT ALL. Crazy talk, I know. After that fee and the normal taxes that come out of my paychecks (ie social security and other crap that will not benefit me pretty much ever since all that money will be sucked dry by my parents generation, if not before), my financial situation is bleak. Just as an example, this month marks the first time I have bounced a check in either 5 or 6 years. The negative $73 in my account is my favorite thing to sit and admire these days...especially since my next payday is over a week and a half away. Not only are my parents unwilling to help me out (awesome seeing as how I never ask for money and it's not as if I squandered my money away or anything--I mean, like since I first got a job eleven years ago), they straight up ignored my texts on the subject. You know, the texts I had to send because I didn't get a break at work today and therefore literally could not call and ask that way, especially knowing that, like the other 2 or maybe 3 times I've ever borrowed money for them (read: usually $25, the last time being when I was in college, so at the very least 3 but more likely 5 years ago), the third degree I would be subjected to would likely take at least 20 minutes. Granted, it has been a while since they have seen me (I don't exactly have money for gas to visit them and I've been working nonstop between the store and house cleaning on the side for extra money), but they are well aware of the dark circles under my eyes, the almost constant nausea I feel from living off ramen (when I have the money for even that) almost exclusively for close to 3 years now, and the extra  8 pounds I unintentionally (and somehow unknowingly until a couple of customers brought it to my attention) that I've lost in the past couple of months. I was happy with the 50 pounds I lost 2 years ago and have kept off ever since. But nearing the 60 pound mark of weight loss? Not a fan. Also, I'd like to feel a little less malnourished on a daily basis.Unreasonable, I know. There I go again with my crazy talk. So, they ignored my request (with promise to pay them back complete with a plan and dates of said reimbursement) and let me overdraft. Better known as they let me worry about how I'm going to manage to find gas money to get to work like ever to the point of another loss of appetite (great--skeleton is the look I was going for in life) and have started to actively push me towards actually starving to death. Silver lining? That loss of appetite is coming in handy seeing as how I can't afford food anyway. Silver lining for them? They are able to reinforce their belief that they are, in fact, better than me (a belief they've held since my birth, I do believe) and/or they are well on their way to having to buy Christmas presents for one less person in the future. Okay, so maybe I won't die (the dramatic side of me hasn't lost its appetite)...but man are they going to be disappointed!

BUT ANYWAY. Moving on. Several factors have come together to cause a decrease in the work hours available for everybody at my job. Yes, this means that I'm actually making less money than I used to. I'm pretty positive that it won't last and my hours will be back up soon, but in the meantime I get to play the nice game of juggling my bills and payments. Rent, cell phone, car insurance--not a lot (and excluding gas money) to have to deal with...but totally enough to absolutely fucking break me whenever and however possible. I'm lucky I have a good history and relationship with both companies and my landlord, because that fact is my only saving grace for all three. Seriously. In a perfect world, I'd love to keep up my positive status with all of these businesses--or, getting crazy here, even improve upon it. In reality, however, I just pray that one day in the future I'll be able to surprise them all by being awesome at all things important again. I'm sorry, did that sound like I'm tooting my own horn? Well guess what, I totally am. Regardless of all of this real life, adult, I-totally-am-convinced-I'm-on-a-reality-show bullshit, I still manage to be kind of bad ass. Just in general. I work my ass off at everything I do, split my "spare" (haha) time between two book clubs (and keep the records for both), keep up with a surprising regularity with my best friends from both high school and college, send letters whenever I have access to stamps, juggle all the organization for several parts of my store's livelihood, always manage to have food for my cats no matter what, and continue to improve on my dazzling personality and witty humor/banter on a daily (or at least weekly) basis. Naturally, when I understandably get very tired, I get whiny generally become a giant cunt to people who for some reason continue to stay friends with me and--for whatever reason--love me in spite of, or because of perhaps, all of my crazy. Maybe it's because about 90% of the time, that crazy is of the fun variety. Or of the slap happy, sleep deprived, laugh to avoid thinking about that whole lack of money thing, delirious variety. Definitely one of the two, or both, or at some point they merged to become the same thing. All I know is, my laugh is a little louder these days, and my eyes spend their time open to their widest possible position--otherwise, they will be too close to closed, and then I'll just fall asleep standing up at, say, the register...again--and 4-8 shots of espresso has surpassed my 2 cups of coffee as my must have every day (even as I try to cut back on caffeine). I'm either losing it (though this seems unlikely considering I lost it-- according to the documents--way back when I was 19, or 17, or 15) or I'm circling back to sane at this point. I kind of hoping I'm not under any threat of becoming sane--that sounds way boring and also...who would I talk to or even remotely relate to? All of my friends are totally crazy too. In other words, my friends are completely and totally, unquestionably, forever and always FABULOUS AND THE BEST OF ANY FRIENDS EVER IN THE WORLD.  I'm sorry if you thought your friends were the best ever--or, suck it. Unless your friends have supported you--and somehow wanted to hang out with you whenever possible--through a stay in the psych ward, literally body slamming you to stop you from being a moronic bitch, answered the phone every time you decide to lose your shit at 3 AM and talked you off the ledge you built for yourself with crazy bricks and shit storm wood, point out your awesome qualities when you go beyond denying them to actively running a campaign to erase any knowledge of them from the world--forever, or any of the (quite literally) millions of ways my friends have saved my life and believed in my when I don't even remember what it means to believe in myself--well, if they've done none of these things, let alone all of them all the time, don't even enter this who-has-the-better-friends contest. Or, better yet, totally have that debate with me. I won't just win, I'll annihilate you--twice (you know, for fun...oh, and kind of just because I can). I spend a lot of my life finding new ways and reasons to hate myself. One thing I'll never doubt, though? I am an expert at choosing friends. Yes, I've picked a couple of duds, but comparatively speaking...well, I'm kind of awesome at reading people. And they are 100% awesome at being the absolute best friends that I could ever imagine--and very rarely deserve, I'm afraid. . .

It's funny that I can totally imagine the quick rebuttal, complete with a multitude of reasons and a pie chart if that sort of thing was cool for anybody under the age of 50, of each and every single one of my friends. Their words would be so alike, but undoubtedly sweetened differently with their wonderfully unique personalities. And they would all probably slap me, or punch me "lightly" on the arm (ie totally cause a bruise that would last, say, a month---again). As I get older, and in case you were unaware--26 is the new 85, or 103--I have discovered that there are legitimate ways that I'm worth having as a friend--and not just because I'm one hell of an enemy. I'm loyal (sometimes perhaps too much so), honest but rarely harsh, funny to a degree that sometimes takes me by surprise, more intelligent in regards to a wide variety of subjects (sometimes these subjects are oddly random, and by sometimes I mean the vast majority of the time--yay movie commentaries!), psychologically knowledgeable (especially when it is most important), and surprisingly well suited for a career as a psychologist (though I must admit this one is bittersweet seeing as how I will be hard pressed to find a way--financially most of all--to make this even remotely a reality), and without a doubt a force to be reckoned with that you will undoubtedly never forget.  I'm usually ready with pretty great advice when the circumstances call for it, and I will almost always find a way to be there for any of my friends no matter what time of day it happens to be when they need me to be. Though it doesn't happen as often as it used to (especially in college, when apparently an hour of sleep was totally enough nine times out of ten...which I'm fairly certain I'm still making up for now BTW), my subconscious has this uncanny ability to awaken me from even the deepest sleep when a friend truly needs me. Seriously it could be (and has been) 4 AM after I've gone to sleep before midnight, my phone on silent across the room, and I'll instantly be wide awake and running to check my phone, knowing that one of my friends is in need. Maybe they need to be picked up from a place they are uncomfortable and/or terrified to be in for another moment, or maybe they are having a Kelly moment and "losing their shit" seemingly for no reason, or maybe they need my help (or reassurance) with a big (or small) life decision. Perhaps the world seems to be coming down around them. It doesn't really make any difference how big or small the situation or problem or whatever is to the rest of the world. If for any reason it has become a big deal to them, my subconscious responds; in fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I've slept through a situation such as these, and I was sick in each instance and therefore likely to sleep through a freight train running beside me or a hammer being repeatedly pounded against my head. And I still feel bad about each of these times, regardless of the fact that I was long ago (read: immediately) forgiven by any and all individuals involved. Even those times that involved a person who is no longer a friend of mine or has moved on to "acquaintance" status remain a memory burned into my psyche that I still feel terrible about even now. I'm proud that even the most subconscious part of me is caring, loving, and most of all--loyal.  When I let myself believe it, I know that this means more than anything else that I'm all of these things despite all of the moments of super bitchiness that I've let loose in the past (and present and future). I love because I have been loved. I care because I have been cared for time and again. I'm loyal because loyalty has more often than not (by far) been shown to me. And I love, care, and remain loyal because that is who I am, through and through.

Though I often forget these positive qualities about myself, I do know that they are unwavering in their truth. There are many things I'd like to change--or at the very least, tweak--about myself. But those qualities that make me the friend I am? I wouldn't dream of changing these parts of myself, and honestly can only hope that I retain them to this degree for a very long time or, you know, the rest of my life. Once I die, all bets are off. I'm going to haunt the shit out of some people, but if we're being honest here, my friends will probably be right there beside me haunting the hell out of everybody who deserves it and also (mostly) scaring/pranking those friends who are still among the living. All of this haunting talk reminds me of something that is much more serious (though haunting is serious business). When I was 15 and at the beginning of all of my (ongoing) psychological mayhem--or at least at the start of the manifestations of said problems--I almost immediately  began to believe with a strong conviction that I would die young, and most likely by my own hands. That's not to say I thought I'd commit suicide--in fact, I've never wanted to kill myself though there are (admittedly terrifying) times when I stop being scared and that notion and let myself begin to understand (however briefly) why that could make sense to a person--but I feared, then embraced, and reluctantly forced away any longing for the idea that I would accidentally end my own life. My relapses have resulted in deep scars, a severed tendon in my hand, degenerative muscle and nerve damage in my back....and the list goes on and on (for what I'm aware is entirely too long). It would not be out of the realm of possibility that what may have once severed a tendon could irreversibly sever a vein or veins. This is one of the main reasons I rarely drink alcohol these days, and even less frequently to any sort of excess. Self-mutilation tendencies and alcohol just don't mix; for one, the depressive effect of the alcohol brings out all the demons that live in a dark corner of my mind, and all at the same time. It's overwhelming, to say the least. Also, I'm so much more willing to play against fate when drunk--how close to the vein can I cut?, how many times? , how much blood can I stand to lose?, and so on in an increasingly alarming and depressing fashion. When I do drink, it's typically a glass of red wine (pinot noir or malbec--just saying!) after a long day at work. Socially, I try to only drink (even a little) while in the company of others if I am in a very good mood going into the occasion; this becomes even more important if I plan to drink with the intention of getting drunk. Sure, I sometimes slip up, but I've become so much more self-aware and mature when it comes to this kind of thing. You have to learn your boundaries, and then respect them. I'm only human, and I will make mistakes for the rest of my life. I just hope I continue to learn from them.

At any rate, I still believe I'm going to die (relatively young), though I now think this means maybe in my 50s or 60s instead of in my 20s or 30s. But I no longer think I'll be the cause of my own death, at least not to the degree I believed in the past. I could be wrong, but I think I've grown enough to not go out in such a catastrophic, preventable way. Now I've probably cursed myself, but what can you do? Oh, and side note: I maintain that if I die in a humorous way (falling into a pit of lava, tripping into traffic, etc.) the cause of my death totally has to be inscribed on my headstone. For laughs, you know?

As per usual, this blog started out as one thing and ended up as another, though at least I finished discussing the first thing before I melted into the other(s). Regardless, fingers crossed that the whole money situation gets a little easier (I don't even try to tell myself that it will ever be "fixed", at least not for quite some time) and I can find a happy "solution" to all this insurance crap. Preferably before I drive to their office just to sucker punch each and every employee...twice.

Although, I must admit that sounds like a lot of fun and a barrel of laughs for all. Except for all those that get punched--they may have a hard time laughing about that. But once again, the level of incompetence and douchebaggery they have reached reminds me of one, unwavering truth:

They can suck it. Twice.

Monday, May 21, 2012

One Incredible (and busy!) weekend!

This past weekend proved to be one hell of an adventure, and also jam-packed! Of course, that tends to be the trend for my request off days from work, and nothing shows me just how scheduled (and used to said schedule) and organized my life is these days. I had an absolutely amazing weekend, with more memories made in less than 72 hours than I typically make in an entire month or two, but all of it certainly made me feel OLD. I used to be the girl who closed the bars and was the last one standing at nearly every party, and I could still be found dancing and laughing as the sun came up more times than not during college. Now? I'm starting to feel a little tired by midnight, and I'm downright bratty by 2 AM. When I'm tired, I'm down for the count. It's kind of pathetic, but it seems to be the way of the world for the 26 year old Kelly. The 21 year old version of me is mighty disappointed in my partying self these days, but five years is a long time and is also cause for a good deal of growing up. While I'm fairly confident I was extremely mature and hard working in college, I'm certain that there would be no way that my lifestyle then would fly in my life nowadays. Alas, thus is the way of growing up.

But I digress. From Thursday on, I hit the ground running every day and still nearly failed to get everything done that a wedding weekend requires. Note, NEARLY failed. Thursday, May 17th started out with a full day of work ending a little after 5 PM, after which I had to rush to my hair appointment at 5:30. Luckily, the cut and the waxing of my eyebrows and lip went by exceedingly quickly, so much so that I was all set to arrive on time to my next destination at 7:00 PM downtown. Of course, I failed to fully take into account the downtown Chattanooga traffic and parking situation, so around 7:30 I ran into the Lookouts stadium to meet friends and family of Jamie for a baseball game/birthday celebration/pre-wedding get together. Once again luck was on my side, because the event proved to be very laid back and very much a come and go as you please kind of affair. After the game, which was really fun and relaxing, I went to get a spray tan with Karen and Kayleigh. At 11:00 at night. None of us had ever gotten a spray tan before, so that proved to be way more hilarious of an experience than it probably had any right to be. A little before midnight, I headed home and was more than ready for bed.

Friday, May 18th, I hit the ground running once again to head to my car insurance building to pay my bill and then it was on to Sassy nails for a well-coordinated manicure and pedicure, both done in a French style to best match the outfits for later that night and also for the following day. I had about an hour to pick up panty hose and jewelry to match my evening outfit before I had to head home to get ready. At 4 PM, the rehearsal started...and at 4:15 when I finally arrived, we quickly ran through the next day's schedule. As I feared, I read entirely too fast (and apparently too quietly) the bible verse I was to perfect before the actual wedding the next day. I stressed about it, as per usual, and somehow lost my copy of it to boot. In reality, this proved to be a blessing since I had to hand write it in order to have a copy for the next day which always makes me learn things much faster. I'm way more comfortable with text in my handwriting than typed out or in somebody else's script. Anyway, I left the truck at GPS and piled in with Karen and Kayleigh to head up to the rehearsal dinner at Rock City at 6 PM. About half an hour after we arrived, the storms set in, but that somehow made it even more beautiful and relaxing. The dinner, which consisted of fried catfish and mashed potatoes among other delicious items, was delectable and amazing, as was the open bar available to us. Jamie's dad and Greg's mom put together an awesome video that made me cry, laugh...and cringe, but only during the parts I happened to appear in for that last adjective haha. It was on to the liquor store to purchase 5 bottles of champagne after that, before heading up Signal Mountain for a sleepover at Jamie's.

May 19th, 2012--Amazingly, we got quite a bit of sleep,and after a breakfast that was too delicious to pass up seconds (okay, thirds), Iz and I got out of the way of the hair and makeup for the bridal party. I took a nap upon arriving at my house, then showered at home, grabbed all of my makeup, hair, and clothing supplies for the day, and raced to my parents' house. There I did my hair before heading to MAC at Hamilton Place to have my makeup done. The MAC employee was amazing, and I walked away from that experience the better part of $100 poorer but looking dazzling. Back at my parents' house, I de-frizzed my hair once more and then put on my GORGEOUS outfit for the wedding. We left on time, and I got to the Hunter Art Museum about half an hour early....just in time to sufficiently start freaking out about speaking in public. Also, my voice was starting to go as I had been getting sick for more than a week, so I prayed it wouldn't give out before I did my reading.  Lo and behold, my voice held up, and according to everybody at the wedding, I rocked the speech. I also cried like a little girl during the ceremony, and was more than ready to party afterwards. And party we did! We also had ANOTHER amazing meal, and I personally downed roughly 12-15 whiskey sours at the reception. I'm pretty sure I behaved myself, if only because I actually remember the entire night--and if I'm correct in that assessment, I have only the hours upon hours of dancing to thank for leeching enough alcohol out of my system to allow the adult in me to make an appearance periodically throughout the night. Haha, I'm only kidding--we all seemed to have just the right amount of fun, and Jamie looked absolutely gorgeous. I can't believe another one of my best friends is married. It makes me so happy in that I want nothing more than to see my friends completely and totally happy, and Jamie certainly is at this point in her life. On the other hand, it makes me sad both because I'm not anywhere close to marriage myself, and because a big part of me still thinks of us as 17 years old, carefree and driving down the road towards nowhere in particular, singing at the top of our lungs with the world at our feet. I think a big part of me will always feel that way. Is it possible to feel like an adult and a kid all at the same time? Moreover, is it possible to live as if you are both for years and years? While I actually enjoy growing up, I hope to always feel like a perpetual teenager when with my GPS best friends. My fear is that perhaps they don't feel the same way.

Anyway...we literally closed down the party (and the bar!) at Jamie and Greg's reception. Last call entailed 2 hurried orders of whiskey sours for me and 3 for Karen, among others. We signed their picture and blew bubbles to usher them into married life. There is another aspect of the evening that took some maneuvering, but until that finished product is up and out, I'm keeping mum about it. Relatively early on in the evening, Iz put my hair up in a french braid because I was BURNING UP (as per usual), and it looked awesome--but I do hope that there are a few pictures out there that show me with my hair down! Also, there were several group shots that I was a part of, but the one headed for the GPS alumnae magazine is one that stands out, mostly because many of us failed to even realize that's what it was for until after it was taken (ie I hope I'm not holding a drink in my hand!), and that brought on a strange wave of nostalgia mixed with that weird combination of happiness and sadness that so seems to run my life these days. Back to the night's progression though--after the reception ended, we headed to Hair of the Dog and had a couple of shots and beers and some much needed snacks after all that dancing. Here's where I turned bratty, and unfortunately sulked instead of really helping decorate Greg's car (it must be said, however, that they did a great job even without my help!), and totally weirded out my date I'm sure. Finally, Kayleigh let us crash at her hotel room, which was awesome because how in the hell was I going to get home? Plus, I got to hang out with Kayleigh and Karen and Karen's parents, brother, and sister-in-law the next day as a result AND get some early copies of photos in the process, so yay for that fortunate turn of events!

Then....I crashed. The sickness I'd been side stepping for over a week set in, and I felt awful all day Sunday and part of Monday when I headed back to work. I'm feeling much better now, so maybe I kicked its butt early enough to not have it plague me forever as illnesses are accustomed to do when it comes to me these days! Now, I'm just getting back into the swing of things. Regularity of schedule helps me, for sure.

At any rate, I had the most amazing time this weekend, and I wish Jamie and Greg a lifetime of happiness. I hope we all stay as close and happy as we were these weekend, and have been for more than 10 years of friendship. I love my friends so much, and I'm forever grateful that they've not only kept me around, but also let me in on these special days in their lives.

Pictures to follow soon, and then scrapbooking will follow suit! Good night all!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Bring it 26--I'm Not Afraid of You...Most of the Time...

So a week ago, on May 4th, I turned 26 years old. To be such a random, seemingly anti-climatic milestone, it certainly has brought out a gamut of emotions in yours truly. Of course, part of that probably stems from who I am--loud, stubborn, creative, crazy, sassy, angry, everybody else, only oftentimes 100-fold in intensity (or at least, this is how is feels). Most of the time, like about 80-90% of it, this mix of intense emotions and feelings makes me love the hell out of my life. I have wonderful friends, and a family that I'm finally coming to peace with--well, I'll get to that later. Something about my personality draws people to me much of the time, and I love my life the most when I'm surrounded by friends and strangers and laughing like there's no tomorrow. Perhaps this is the case because, after years of self-hatred and struggling to accept my issues and learning the balance between keeping things bottled up and sharing too much, I've come to realize that every day should be lived as if it's your last--not just because it very well could be, but even more so because this life we're each given deserved to be lived in such a way. Nothing is guaranteed, and never has this been more true than for those of us who have discovered that we were made in such a way that I can be, at times, my own best friend, and at others, the worst of all enemies--sometimes, I'm both at once. I'll say this much for certain-- life with me is, and never will be, boring. Or ordinary, routine, simple. When I enter a room, I like to make a grand entrance; in my hopes and dreams, I also hope that, when I leave a room, people are more than anything sad to see me go.

My 26th year brings with it much more responsibility, primarily financially (but isn't it usually the case that these are closely entwined?), since as of June 1st, 2012, I will be paying for all of my own health insurance (medical, dental, vision). I've paid for all of my own rent, car insurance, cell phone bills, gas, food and entertainment, utilities....well, you get the picture. I've grown quite used to it, and I know that my parents will help me out before they let me starve--after much complaining and making me feel bad about it first, of course. It must be said that I'm grateful in that I'm very respectful of money and very careful with my own (most of the time anyway--haha), and I'm extremely responsible in terms of work, friendships, keeping home--all of that sort of thing. People my age often have a shock coming to them after they get out of school (grad school or whatever it may be) and they have to learn to handle their money years after my brother and I did--all at an age where there is much more to lose than at, say, 15 years old. I didn't have that shock, though that's not to say it still doesn't hurt when a particularly large expense comes up or that I don't yearn to own things or go places that are in no way in my realm of reality for now....or for a very long time. Working all the time and barely scraping by isn't always fun, but that is why I choose to work at a place that I love with people that are amazing and good friends; it is also why I find a way to reward myself with something small with each paycheck (if possible--and usually it is)--a book, a $5 movie, a night out playing pool with friends, more organizational stuff (shut up)...little things, but so rewarding all the same.  Maturity has helped me take each new year in stride (for the most part), but sometimes I truly wish my parents had helped me and Brent out a little more over the years for the fun stuff. I had a stellar education, and they paid a fortune for it, but I wish I'd been able to go to more football games at Ole Miss, or more trips while at GPS. I wish I wasn't still made to feel bad for occasionally needing help; sure, I know that if I really need it (often for food or gas), I'll get help from my parents, but I wish we could skip the making me feel worthless for a couple of hours or days beforehand--especially since it is so rare, and I ask for so little each time ($20 is the average). It makes me want to shout, "Okay! I get it! Money is important, and it's better when it's earned, and y'all shouldn't have to bail me out of a bind ever..."--you get the idea. Except that I think they should sometimes. I work very hard, usually leaving for work before 10 AM and not returning home until well after 10 PM. On Wednesdays, I leave for work at 5:45 AM to arrive by 6 to sort the truck and get my specialist stuff out--most of it before we open at 10 AM. Usually, I end up staying longer than I'm scheduled, because I'm still a major register force in addition to my Key 6 duties (which, did I mention, I love, love, love doing? Seriously, I adore Key 6. I don't hate the register by any means, but I had no idea how much I'd love Key 6 before I started doing it), so I typically have 2 days on the floor (ie Key 6) and 3 on the register--to get everything sorted and out, and also to work on any new projects/tasks each week. I have a lot of help, both in Key 6 and at the register--I could sing Laura's praises all day, every day for training me well on Key 6 and helping me out even now when I need it, and we have some new register people who are stellar, and helpful, and respectful, and willing to listen to me (at nearly 3 years primarily on register, I am by far the most seasoned at it in our store--most burn out after 6 months to a year). These people are all my friends so nobody misconstrue any of this rant as in any way negative towards them OR my job. I love it all, and (for the most part, usually) I'm good at it. The point is, I do work hard.My parents are well aware of this, so sometimes I wish they would both acknowledge my efforts and show that they are proud of me and also...cut me some damn slack when I'm not perfect with my money every second of every day (or, I don't know, when gas prices shoot up seemingly overnight and I simply can't keep up for that week).

I'm well aware, especially at this point in my life, that much of my anger towards them stems from their unwillingness (inability as well?) to acknowledge all of my psychological issues at all. They constantly write them off, no matter what they are. I get it, you don't want screwed up kids, but you got them--and ignoring the issues and belittling them as individuals only creates more problems and exacerbates the ones that already exist. By trying to pretend they don't exist, you've helped make the problems so much worse and infinitely longer lasting. I wish my mom would admit that she had eating problems--pictures and little offhand comments don't lie. The thing is, I'm so much stronger because of my past, and I'm currently at a great place psychologically (both in how I express myself and work through problems, and in terms of medication), and that is almost entirely my own doing. I took the initiative and got tested (and my parents not only doubted the results of several professionals, but still continue to insist that the anxiety, depression, and ADHD don't exist), and I personally seek out emotional help in times of stress. Whether I have the backing or belief of my parents or not, I know what it feels like to see in yourself no other escape than cutting or starving yourself. I know how much it slowly destroys the soul to be your own biggest adversary. And I know how much it rips the heart apart to see the complete and utter sadness etched into the faces and woven into the hugs of your best friends when you go through periods of what seems like bottomless and hopeless relapses and it seems you will never be reached. Though I know it's silly, part of me is--and always will be--intensely worried about what I've done to the spirits and hearts of my best friends, and I will spend every day trying to thank them for helping me, believing me, loving me. I never want them to understand my darkest moments, but I'm constantly looking for a way to let them understand how wonderful it feels when they help me back out into the sunshine. They try so hard, and I love that they believe I am worth it. Regardless of how my parents and other family members want me to feel about it, I DO NOT AND WILL NEVER REGRET MY PAST. I AM NOT ASHAMED OF IT. I AM PROUD TO HAVE SURVIVED IT, AND TO STILL BE SURVIVING IT. I AM STRONG, AND I HAVE MY PAST TO THANK FOR THAT. Sure, I regret moments, things I've said, the way I've handled things--but my demons? No, not even a little.

What completely destroys me however, is the knowledge that--without at least their acknowledgment of the severity and reality of my issues, past and present, and even more so their admittance in their involvement of the issues themselves (not in causing them--that was all me--but certainly in exacerbating them to the extreme)...without these occurrences, I can never truly overcome my issues. I can fight them, and I can win much of the time. Even if everything came together and my parents stepped up to the plate, I'm aware that they are lifelong struggles. I'm not afraid of that. What I fear is that, as they continue to reject the things about myself I most know to be true, I will having a harder and harder time overcoming the itching, ever present feeling that I am not important, that I don't even exist. If those parts of me that so help define me continue to be rejected as true and real, I fear I will believe them in time. Don't misunderstand--I'll always (at least on a subconscious level) know that I am loved, appreciated, and respected by so many. My fear of feeling not real is far scarier than that, and much deeper. I began cutting myself years ago in large part to remind myself that I exist; if I bleed, if I hurt, if I can cry--I am a real person, worthy of all that entails. The deepest and darkest of my depressions don't reside in a sad or angry place; instead, I stumble into a black hole, and I feel nothing. I'd rather feel the most distraught of sadness or the meanest of angry a million times over than to be devoid of emotion. I don't interact with the outside world, and I don't feel part of it. More often than not, I have to physically be pulled out of it; as I get older, I can sometimes do this myself, but often I continue to need help. This dark hole is a rare presence in my life (much rarer than in years past, or even months past), but it remains as strong as ever. Stronger sometimes. I'm always afraid I'll tumble into a dark hole, and be unable to resurface. I'll be alive, but I won't be me. I'll be quiet instead of loud, hateful instead of loving, exhausted instead of exhausting. I fear it, yet I continue to beat it. Even amidst my fear, I have every belief and hope that I'll always beat it--but I know that it is a very real possibility that, one day, I could just be WRONG about that. Like I said, the support or even acknowledgement from my parents wouldn't be a cure-all, nor a guarantee, but somehow I know that if I had it, I may be able to get to the point where I'm never (or very rarely) afraid of that dark hole. Sure, it would still exist. I could still fall into it. But the freedom of NOT FEARING IT--well, I can only dream.

I have no idea how--or why, for that matter--my blogs always go from short and sweet to long and (semi) venting. Apparently, I have a lot to say...ALL THE TIME haha. Of course, this is probably the biggest factor behind the infrequency of my blog posts. They take hours, and while they are intensely therapeutic and helpful, they are exhausting. There are only a couple of people who read this blog at all, and perhaps one or two with any sort of regularity, but those who do must think I'm all kinds of nuts. Luckily, these people know me well, so naturally they already discovered long ago that I'm just a wee bit crazy, mostly in a good way (I hope!), not to mention the fact that I do not readily give out this URL anyway. It is a public blog, and as of right now I have no plans to change that fact, and I never will make it private unless it becomes a HUGE issue for an extended period of time--meaning, if my safety or that of those I love is ever threatened, I would make it private. Honestly though, I have no fears. My life, while unique and interesting to those in my inner circle (and perhaps to others, especially should they stumble upon it while in the midst of their own struggles, similar to mine or not), is not globally (or even nationally) vitally important by any means. Since I haven't posted this URL on Facebook and never intend to (I also ask that nobody else do it either, unless you ask me first and you have it set to certain people) and I've personally given it out to a handful of people (like probably few enough to count on two hands), I have little fear of feeling the need to change anything about this blog as it is. I'm aware that people will lead others to my blog, and that's fine. All I ask is that nobody clue in my family, particularly my parents; my brother is another story, and at one time or another he has known the URL and accessed the blog, and that's never a problem. He may still know it, and if he doesn't, he is always welcome to that information. He and I understand our family and childhood, the world, and each other in a way that is completely unique. I love it and I hate it--but I will always love him. It never fails to amaze me how alike we are in terms of caring for others, and wanting to give back, and in being so accepting, and especially in our shared disdain of the judging of others. We were raised by wonderful, hilarious, insanely smart parents--who sometimes I think may have been better off not having children. They are awesome to their friends, but much of their world is a show. Their best friends have been the same for years--many they knew before any of them had kids--and it's fun and interesting to see them all interact. Thirty years (and 10 and 20 years in other cases) is a long time for any kind of relationship, especially friendships. There is a different kind of love, patience and understanding that sets the stage for such long, true friendships. I respect them in that way, and in many ways, I emulate how they interact and treat their friends with my own precious friends. That all being parents' friends (and let's be honest, my parents themselves much of the time) can be incredibly fake towards the outside world, and I sometimes wonder how much of that (and how often) spills over into the lives of the others. Appearances and their importance are tricky subjects for me, and I fully acknowledge that I'm often naive about such things, but I'm learning. I think all of us will always be learning about so many things--at least, I hope we (especially me) always strive to--and how the world views us ranks right at the top in terms of things that are ever changing and often lead to sticky situations. I work with the public every day, and have for 11 years now (restaurant chains, waiting tables, retail), so I have a pretty good understanding of how fabulous and also how terrible strangers (and family, friends, acquaintances, etc.) can be to each other. People get nasty when they are made to wait for their food, for example, and don't care to hear about the accident with an employee and a slicer in the back, or that you ran out of something, or that others have been waiting for far longer than they have, or that IT'S A GAME WEEKEND IN A COLLEGE TOWN SO FREAKING DEAL WITH IT. In retail, people get angry about the weirdest things, and it's a balancing act that constantly requires revision dealing with the public. About 75-85% of the time, I love people. I've been surprised hundreds of times over by the kindness of others, or their interest in me, or in their ability to bring me to tears with words and actions to loved ones that they don't think twice (or don't think about at all in some cases) about putting on display. Of course, all it takes is that one VERY nasty person to ruin your day, or at least (these days after lots of practice in calming down) your interactions with the next few people you must help after they leave. Again though--the reactions of contempt from strangers who stand up for you without being asked or even expected when others take nasty to a whole new level, well, few things make me feel more special, or important, or in a way, loved. For every awful customer there are 10 wonderful ones, even if it's not readily obvious.

(There have been times that I have been snarky to those waiting on me at various places--usually at fast food drive thru lanes for some reason--and often will turn back around or drive back through the lane to apologize. I'm sure they see me coming and are waiting for rudeness or yelling, and it too often surprises them to hear me admit fault. Being on both sides of such situations, I can truly tell you that words can not describe how much it means when customers do the same for me-- it's the little things people, and an apology can completely change somebody's day for the better, or help them feel important once again.)

Anyway, see what I mean about the long posts? Haha, I can't help it! Really though, I started talking about the public because of the importance of how others view you. Appearances matter, and I'll be the first to admit that. I think we all need to be flexible enough to work with others, no matter where or when. It's important to not offend others, or hurt the feelings of another just to make yourself feel better (never understood this by the way). That being said, I refuse to change the core of who I am or go along with a trend or idea to make life easier for myself or others. My beliefs are important to me, and I will stand up for them, as I think everybody should. But I try not to offend others, and though I know I often still fail in this regard, I'm growing out of this as I get older. Those who first meet my parents (new work friends, for example) love my parents--and who wouldn't? They are fun and exceedingly nice to strangers and those they know alike. Those that really know them, however, are harder to convince when it comes to liking my parents. Some of my friends all but hate them, but these friends are the ones who have had to argue with my parents about how they talk to me, or present me to the world, or most of all how they make me feel about myself. These friends have had to literally pick me up from the floor where my parents words and actions have left me, and they've wiped my tears more times than I can count after my parents succeed in ruining my good mood in under ten minutes. I believe these friends do not hate my parents per se, but instead just love me too much to get too close to them. Their love of and for me far overrides any feelings towards my parents, good or bad. My brother gets this, but he is far away (10 hours in the car, approximately). Also, there are aspects he does not understand, because I haven't let him. For some things, I haven't let anybody understand. I'm working on that though. All in all, my brother and I seem to be overly giving and loving and trusting and respectful (most of the time!), because we want others to feel how we were never allowed to feel--needed, wanted, loved, respected, believed, and understood. I guess I have to thank my parents for instilling all of that in us, even if they did it completely backwards, and typically without knowing they were or meaning to show us any of it.

I feel bad ranting about my parents so much, because they are wonderful people. It's just that the hole they have ripped open in me is a tough problem to fix, and in regards to anything personally psychological, I remain a little kid in how I feel and deal with those subjects. Sometimes, I act like a 7 year old when it comes to them; even as people are telling me to not care or worry about it, I always will. Many of these feelings of inadequacy and self-contempt have roots beginning when I was about 7 years old (or before, in some cases), so that little kid brand of pouting is mixed with very real adult emotions and problems. But only sometimes, of course. I genuinely love going to my parents house to watch DWTS and just catch up on Monday and Tuesday nights (when I can make it). My mom makes something delicious for dinner (and frowns when I get seconds), we drink some red wine, and lounge. It's great, unless it isn't. At 26 years old, now that I'm more friend than child to my parents, I'm glad that they are mine. The pain they caused or helped cause doesn't go away, mind you, but the older I get, the more human my parents become. They had lives before me and my brother were born, even before they met or had dreams of a family, and they both suffered different, but very sad, forms of, well, abuse, at the hands of their parents. Though they got spanked with belts, and my mom still has scars from the fingernails of her angry mother, most of the abuse they received was psychological, emotional, and mental. Oh, patterns in behavior. I'm lucky--and very glad--I was raised by them and not by their parents. My grandparents are cool--well, since I really have little contact with my mom's parents (none with her mom since I was 19) and have a love-hate relationship to say the least with my dad's mom (she likes to make up stories, and we are always the bad kids for some reason) and barely remember my dad's dad, since he died right before I turned 11, I guess I can say they were cool. I have fond memories with and of them, just none in the past 7 or so years. They are strange people, and I commend my parents for turning out even kind of normal.

Anyway, I sort of just realized that I need to make a concerted effort to blog at least twice a month--once a week would be even better, but let's not get crazy here! I just have too much to say, and it would probably all be better expressed in 1-2 hour increments instead of 6-8 hour chunks of time. I'll work on that.

In conclusion, however, 26 isn't so bad so far. We'll see how I feel when those insurance premiums start draining out of my paychecks, but for now--I'm okay. Wiser, funnier, smarter--and all while many think I'm still 21 or 22! As I've grown up, I've become better at doing just that. It sounds strange, but for someone who always so hated change, I've actually come to accept it better, and in some cases, embrace it.

Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Can we somehow come up with a way to have 30 hours in a day instead of 24?

First things first, it's been entirely too long since I blogged--as per usual, haha. This time around, however, the craziest of my schedule is about 90-95% to blame. Here's the thing--I LOVE being busy, I thrive when working on roughly 5-20 projects, I'm so much happier overall when my life is hectic. Once again, this is why I will forever and always be grateful that I was properly diagnosed (once I took the initiative to get myself tested, since my family kept me from doing so for quite sometime---or you know, the first 23 years of my life) with moderate to severe ADHD and set up on a medication schedule. It took very little time--maybe a couple of months to get the strength and dosage quantity ideal for my body, mind and schedule--but I never regret going through 5 rounds of testing followed by a stair step method of trying out the medication to get to where I am today. People hear about the 5 rounds of testing and they outwardly, dramatically groan as if to sympathize with me. I then get to correct them and explain that, not only is this the proper process of diagnosing and treating anything medical and/or psychological, but also that I requested that my doctor test me for as much as he saw fit. On my mother's side, I have an aunt who is severely bipolar with schizophrenic tendencies (the bipolar disorder was exacerbated by improper medication and entirely too much of it from a very young age; the schizophrenic tendencies were created almost entirely by these medication issues--especially after they started being obvious, and the solution chosen for her was to medicate more and more); on my father's side, I have an alcholic aunt (my dad's twin sister actually) who began her struggles at the age of nine. My dad's brother is a whole different story--I'm not even sure what his issues may be, especially since I haven't seen him since I was roughly 12 or 13, by his choice. For sure, he's got some deep-seated repression issues. My mother's mother is very likely bipolar herself, but she's never been diagnosed--I haven't spoken to her since Christmas 2005, when I was 19. She has missed so much--as did my grandfather because he refused, until very recently, to even attempt to reach out to us, citing that "he had to live with her" (ie, my grandmother) as the reason (so yes, he lacked any balls at all). He and I have reconciled (he also now speaks to my mother, whom he didn't speak to in this time either), but I will never trust much of my extended family ever again. The decision to cut ties was pretty mutual, though I have no idea if my grandmother realizes this--she probably thinks she just gave us a big "F you" this entire time. Sometimes, I'm sad when I remember that she missed my graduation from Ole Miss (she grew up right outside of Oxford in Abbeville--in the house I lived in for about nine months in 2005, right before everything went to hell with the family)--as did my grandfather, who is the very reason I'm a 3rd generation Ole Miss Rebel in the first place.
{Side note: I love this story. My grandfather grew up in Chicago, and when it came time for him to pick a university, he wanted to find the most southern school he could find, with the perfect southern hospitality and a less hectic way of life than he was accustomed to in his youth. Naturally, he chose Ole Miss and fell in love with it, which admittedly is pretty easy to do. When my mother was looking around at universities, my grandfather said--only half joking--that she could go to any school as long as they didn't have a tiger as a mascot . She visited and actually really liked Alabama, but her heart loved Ole Miss. When I was college "hunting", I simply stepped on the campus early in the morning to go to the Turner Center to work out--oh, the dedication and drive of my teens!-- and knew I was home.}

Not only that, but my 2os are something they know nothing about, nor have really bothered to ask about in any way. Though my decision not to speak to them was rash, I don't regret it nor do I think I was being immature by deciding to cut ties with them--the words they said to me can never be unspoken, and the emotions behind them make it impossible to believe they used those words to achieve anything other than hurting me as much as they could. I may be stronger now, and their words would not cut so deep if they said them now, but even if it were the case that this falling out happened now as opposed to 6 years ago, the end result would be the same. I've never hated as she hates, and I hope to never hurt anybody as they hurt me.

But I digress! The above stories make up a good bit of why I'm happy I went through such rigorous testing and now, nearly 2 years later, I'm still so proud that I got tested in the first place. My love of being busy would not be possible if I could not stay on task, and the anxiety and depression would creep up much too quickly. Nothing is perfect, of course, nor will I ever be completely free from that anxiety or depression or so many other things, but I can handle them now. I get to win over and over again in the battle for my sanity. Nothing can take that away from me. I can be an individual and not be afraid of who that person may be. Of course, when I fall, I fall down pretty hard. I don't have relapses and episodes every other day anymore, so every few months when I have the feeling that I may relapse at all, I just down completely. I'd rather feel intense sadness or pain or anything that constitutes a real feeling than to feel, quite literally nothing at all. Luckily, I'm getting much better at keeping these at bay these days, and I have incredible friends who help pull me through them when I need help. My friends are wonderful for so many reasons, but if I had to choose a single reason why they hold such a special place in my heart, it is how willing they are to simply listen. Words can sometimes fail us, but that true, patient, loving ability to listen--completely and without personal motive--well, all I know is that for me, that has yet to fail me. It's not that I need to feel important (though it doesn't hurt!), or even special or unique in my pain; I've learned that I sometimes just need to be reminded that I am heard when I need it the most. Sad as it may be, I've accepted that there is a very good chance that I'll never stop needing--albeit, only occasionally--that I am real. That I am here. That I exist. There are worse things to need.

But yes, busy doesn't even begin to describe the chaos I call my life these days. Controlled, well organized chaos that is...covered in post it notes. I thrive on this, and I have people who understand me. People that enjoy my company, and love me. People that don't mind having to remind me that not only am I real, but that they wouldn't want to live their lives devoid of my presence. I wouldn't want to imagine my life without them in it either.

Because of these things, I am grateful. More than anything, these things and people remind me that I've found peace within myself, something I for so long didn't believe existed. And, of course, that even if I'm in a place full of anxiety, there is always a way to find that peace again. I'm capable of reaching it, even if it seems impossible to do so at the moment. I know I can, because I've done it before. I've always had help, but I'm no longer seeking to reach a point of not needing that help. I finally believe that needing others means you are that much stronger, and very, very real.

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 is Shaping Up to be a Busy Year!

Over the past few years, I've learned a thing or two about myself. Most of these things seem to deal with my mental/emotional health, my relationships with others, and the like. But one kind of fun trait I've discovered in myself is my love of organizing, planning, and being busy with a variety of activities (thus, the 4 blogs haha!). As such, I now own 6, yes SIX, planners/calendars. One is my wall calendar (HARRY POTTER BABY!) that hangs on my refrigerator, the second is a tear off calendar full of book suggestions (for fun and for SCI, let's be honest) and coupons for my work as a bonus, 2 are in my phone--one is called "free time" and it allows me to program my activities for the day/week/month/etc. and shows me how much free time I have allotted for each day and so forth (read: not much--by choice!) and the other is the standard calendar that comes on the iPhone (which I really only use to put stuff in so I won't forget it on the random and rare days when I don't have another planner with me or when it's simply faster to key it in there and put it down on paper later), one is a small purse planner that goes through 2013 (the spaces are small, so I really just use it to pencil things in well in advance)--I never thought I'd need to schedule things so far in advance, but getting older lends itself to that haha, and last is my favorite planner of all. It's my "The B Word: You Say I'm a Bitch Like It's a Bad Thing" mega purse planner, and I LOVE IT. For one thing, the spaces are really big so there's plenty of room to write too many details about everything, which I always do by the way. Plus, there's a full month view at the beginning of each month, so I can still pencil things in and add details/comments on the fuller pages; not to mention, there's a "Notes" page for each month, and a comments section to the side of each page (I use it primarily to pencil in money stuff--what bills are due each week, or two weeks by pay check, and my projected "play money" that's left over. For each week, there is an opposing page with an absolutely HILARIOUS quote justifying bitchiness. It's amazing--I just wish they made one that covered 2 years, or at least 18 months! I discovered this same brand of planner last year once all calendars and full sized planners went to $3, and fell in love with it. This year, I bit the bullet and paid more for it--don't get me wrong, I waited until it was half off! HAHA. Anyway, I carry my bitch planner with me everywhere I go pretty much, so I can easily see that 2012 is going to be one hell of a year. I'm not going to list everything, but here's some biggies.

In February, I'm taking the LSAT again. I did well the first time, but if I score roughly 5 points higher on February 11th, I'm eligible for more scholarships! I'm dreading student loans, so any help is fine by me! In the meantime, I'm studying more (of course) and working on the rest of the law school application stuff, especially the personal statement required for each one. Considering the first application (UT) is due ONLY FOUR DAYS after I retake the LSAT, I've got my work cut out for me. (Side note: I'm applying to four law schools: UM, UT, Memphis, and Samford). Not that work will slow down to help me out, naturally, but I've found I work better when I'm busier--it keeps me more structured. I have a lot of work and personal (fun!) days planned for January, so YAY!

In March, I'm going to Washington, D.C. for Jamie's Bachelorette Party, and I can't wait! I'm going to use some of my vacation days so it won't be a rushed experience--I haven't been to D.C. in forever! The following Sunday, March 25th, I'm going to a baby shower for a work friend...or maybe hosting it at my house. Just 3 days after that, Holly turns 21 and I'm throwing her a big party (probably either the 30th or 31st).

April will be nervewracking, as I await responses from the law schools in regards to my LSAT scores/applications. Fingers crossed already! Plus, of course, Karen's birthday is in April, so I've got some present planning to do. Hopefully, my tax return will be in my bank account by mid-February, so that should help all of this a bit--though I'm going to have to put much of it away for a car.

In May, I turn 26...and my life will change a ton. Oh, did I mention I have 2 dentists appointments between now and May, and I have to schedule a gyno appointment as well? Oh, and I've already begun to tentatively plan Kristin's Bachelorette Party, since she got engaged in December and asked me to be her MAID OF HONOR! She said the wedding wouldn't be for at least a year--probably longer--but a good Bachelorette Party equals early, thorough, intense planning starting NOW. I'm totally stoked!

Anyway, that's just a smattering of what lies ahead for me in 2012. I'm so excited to jump right into the madness. It's gonna be a BIG, AMAZING year!