One Hundred and Eighty

A week from today marks three months since I quit my job and everything changed.

Before June 1, 2015..I couldn’t tell you the last time I was legitimately, not-faking-it, seriously happy. I mean, y’all know. You’ve read this blog. How many times have I talked about my depression and anxiety and the toll it was taking on me?

(Answer: Three or four, I think).

Friends, I write to you from the other side…. and it is amazing.

Disclaimer: I’m not “cured” of depression and anxiety. That doesn’t happen. Nor do I want it to. It’s part of who I am and I’ve learned how to live with it.

The thing is.. now? It’s the most under control I’ve ever had it.

It’s ridiculous almost, how much one bad thing in one part of your life can take hold of the rest of it and completely bring you down. And I fully believe that one thing was that job.

So much has happened since the day I walked out of that office and breathed a huge sigh of relief because I never had to return to it. And now, I’m going to catch you up on (almost all of) it.

First of all, I only really had a week in there where I wasn’t sure what I would do. It was that first week after I quit, and it ended up serving as a little vacation, as much as you can call it that. I slept in a few days, but mostly I spent it trying to figure out my next move. Plus I went to that interview within two hours of quitting (that didn’t end up panning out but softened the blow of freaking out about income until I heard back haha).

Luckily, within the second week, I had not one but two amazing friends who stepped up and offered me things to do part-time. I’ve thanked them both about 100 times but probably will continue to, because they saved me a ton of stress in this interim. One of those jobs potentially could end up becoming full-time and I would take it in a heartbeat, because I’ve loved what I’ve been doing for them.

Not long after that, I got a three-day-a-week baby-sitting job through a friend of a friend. And then recently, I got a couple more regular baby-sitting gigs.

I got a part-time job running social media for probably my favorite restaurant in the city.

And soon, I will start work with one of my athletes from Special Olympics as a CLS worker, helping get him out of the house and involved in the community, working with him on budgeting and getting to appointments, finding employment and going back to school and just spending time with him.

I have said at least five times that I am basically Kirk from Gilmore Girls – which if you don’t get, I’m sorry, but this video should help some.

There’s been a little stress about the job and about money off and on, but I’ve managed to get every bill paid, even if they were a little late once.

I’ve gotten by, cutting back on things I don’t need while not becoming a hermit. I have paid much more attention to any signs I see about earning money — during a particularly stressful week, I saw a couple lost dog signs in my neighborhood offering rewards and thought about dedicating a few days to nothing but finding those dogs because that made all the sense. And money.

Here’s the thing though. That stress? Nothing compared to the stress I felt when I was at a job that made more than enough to pay my bills. Weird how that works.

What else… I have gotten a ton of stuff done for youth group-related events because I finally have time to work ahead. I got to go on a week-long trip with them to Montreat, which I am so grateful for because of the impact it had on every single one of us who attended.

I have become about 5 times more involved in Special Olympics, which I’ll discuss in another post soon.

A friend from elementary/high school got in touch with me early on this summer to join a group that focuses on accountability with getting healthier. It’s proved an awesome motivation for me and I can’t thank her enough. I have regularly hit up the gym, so much so that I need new workout clothes because mine fall off me. I’m not really a fan of my current situation, holding up my workout pants while I run, but it’s a damn good problem to have.

Everyone notices a difference in me overall. I was miserable before and it wasn’t hidden. At least 3 friends have said how much better I am to be around these days and I agree. I am happier to be around myself too.

The other night someone asked “So how are you? Are you ok?” And I said, with no sarcasm or irony or anything – “I am the happiest I have been in a very long time.” And I meant it.

As of June 2, 2015, I was venturing into the unknown, more excited than scared. I had no clue where any of it would lead. But going into it with the attitude that I would be OK and I would get better has made all the difference, because that’s what has happened.

I can’t say it enough, or really even in the right way I don’t think, but the support and love I’ve gotten since I made that decision almost 3 months ago have helped me maintain this new (old) way of living and looking at things. I am very blessed to have the friends and family I do.

Besides those that love me helping me in basically every way they could, keeping busy has been most helpful in preventing me from sliding into the sadness that could have come out of that decision June 1. There’s not a day that goes by I don’t have something to do that is either helping pay my bills or making me happy or both. And it’s usually both. Crazy, right?

When I wrote about my decision on Facebook, it got almost 200 likes and a ridiculous amount of comments. ALL of them supportive. One that stuck out especially to me was from a good friend’s mother: “You will be surprised where you are lead. It will be awesome.”

I was and it is. And I can’t wait to see what’s next.

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“My life is in shambles”

Not really, it’s just in boxes. But the above is what I keep saying, jokingly, as an excuse for just about everything.

Didn’t you just wear that shirt the day before yesterday? Yes. But I have no idea where any others are. My life is in shambles.

Why were you late today? Because I had no idea where my shoes were and had to look for them for 20 minutes. My life is in shambles.

So.. yeah, I moved.

The lease was up and The Roommate is getting married and it was time to move on.

I haven’t had to move in almost four years. The whole process sucks, big-time. There’s the packing and the lifting and the address changing and the cleaning that spot in your room you haven’t seen since you moved in because your entertainment center was in front of it and who can move that by themselves?

It’s not like it snuck up on me, we’ve known for a while that our lease was up in January and after Wedding Season was over, I had weekends available to go look at new places. Namely, a condo.

I found one in November that I loved. It was perfect – perfect size, perfect location, perfect price….so we start the process of making me its owner. And then the bank got involved.

Long story short, the loan process can be a bitch and it’s complicated and unless I came up with $18,000, I wasn’t gonna get this place.

Seeing as how you didn’t read a post or receive a phone call that I won the lottery, the condo didn’t happen.

So, just a few days ago, I moved, as planned. Only the destination was a little different.

I write this from my “new” bedroom at my “old” house. I’m back with the parents – from now on known as Roommates – until I save up a bit of money and pay down a few things and find another place I like as much as that other one I found.

I got a job out of town a month after I moved home from college post-graduation. And spent two years there before I got back to Louisville. It was at this time, I SHOULD have sucked it up and lived with the parents and saved some money.

But I didn’t, because

I found an apartment, that I could barely afford but it was mine and I paid all my bills on my own and that’s what you do as an adult, right? Yeah. Until you can’t afford it because you pay your bills on your own and you make plans to move in with your BFF so you guys both can afford to live AND have somewhat of a social life.

So, again, long story short, I’m doing now what I should have done in 2008. Accepting the help of living rent free and getting some other things in order before I find something that can be all mine. I’m damn lucky to have parents that are allowing me to do this and I hope they know that I don’t take a second of it for granted.

Wanna see my new digs? Those of you familiar with the ‘rents place will recognize the space I’ve taken over as the home theater – also known as the room where you watched movies and made out in high school. Or that room with the cool secret door. Or the cave. All of the above.

room1

room2

I wake up every day looking directly at either John Wayne or The Three Stooges.

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And there’s a clock down here that goes off at 47 past the hour.

Livin’ the dream.

But yeah, that’s what I’ve been upto. And between that, the holidays, my girls being home for a long break, and some other major changes that simultaneously make me nervous and very excited, my writing here has been severely neglected.

I have so much to tell you, so much to show you.

Stay tuned.

That time of year again

I sound like a broken record with you guys – I have more things to do than I have hours in the day to get them done – but it’s so true.

Speaking of records, found Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” on vinyl for $2.99. No record collection would be complete without it…

I digress.

This post isn’t to tell you how behind I am on things or how busy I’ve been or how I forgot what sleeping in looks like or whatever. It’s to remind you of what I’ve got coming up.

Last year, I started preparations super-early. It was our first year to participate and I wanted to make sure we did everything right and good and quick and awesome.

What am I talking about? The Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

It’s almost exactly two months away and while we already have our T-shirts ready to go, there’s little else that’s been done to prepare. And I have big goals this year, friends. Big.

Like, more than $2,000 raised big, which shouldn’t be hard because we did it last year. And more people on the team. Or involved in another way, or made aware of this deserving cause, what they can do about it and who they are helping.

In the year since the last Walk, some things have changed. Just about a week after last year’s event, my grandpa passed away. My grandpa, who was there mentally at 94, who had been taking care of my grandma since they’d met almost 70 years before.

The days that followed, as I said before, are some of the hardest I’ve experienced. In addition to losing such an important person to our lives, we were also having to watch as my grandmother went through the pain of losing the person who had been her world for decades.

For a short while, she remembered he was gone, and was so very sad, as we all were. But then she stopped remembering. She’d ask where he was and as much as it hurt to see her go through it all over again, we’d tell her he was gone.

And that was almost worse. She’d think she hadn’t been there, that she didn’t get to say goodbye, that it just happened out of the blue and he was perfectly OK before that. It was so hard to see her like that, to keep reassuring her that she was there, she was holding his hand.

Soon after, we stopped telling her what had happened. When she asked where he was we said we didn’t know or that he was out. It was easier, less damaging to her psychologically to keep putting her through that heart-wrenching grief every single time she asked.

Since then she’s started thinking he’s in another part of the assisted-living place where she lives. She thinks she saw him just yesterday or she’ll see him later or when she goes home.

In the last few times I’ve seen her, she hasn’t mentioned him at all.

If you’re new, here’s what you need to know. My grandma, who turns 90 very soon but doesn’t look a day over 80, has Alzheimer’s.

She’s who I walk for, and I’m not alone. Last year a team of 13 of us walked to end this horrible disease, the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and one that makes the sufferer and those who love them feel so helpless, because there’s little you can do.

With my grandma, we’re luckier than some. Usually we see her disease most when we’re answering the same question a few times in a conversation.

Sometimes we see it in ways that make us laugh, because you have to laugh at things sometimes. It is the best medicine, after all, which is why I will continue to try and get a giggle or two from her every time I see her.

Her most recent hilarity? When Mom reminded her that she has a pretty big birthday soon, she’s gonna be turning 90.

Grandma: “90?! I don’t look 90.”

I say we’re luckier than some because I know it can be worse. I know there’s a point in this disease where loved ones become unfamiliar. And while I haven’t heard my grandma say my actual name in a long time, she has called me her granddaughter. And she knows me. And I’m so grateful. And I’m soaking it in as much as I can, storing the laughs I get out of her and her little sayings and funny comments alongside the
memories I have of her from when I was little, like when she’d read to us the story about the Gingerbread Man or her little purse for her coins that looked like an owl.

My grandma’s still in there, and I’m lucky for that. But I’m still walking for her. For others who aren’t so lucky, for the hope that one day, we’ll find a way to slow this down or get rid of it completely.

We walk Sept. 8. In our purple shirts we made in her honor. For others who are supporting the Alzheimer’s Association and those who love someone who’s sick.

I’d We’d appreciate anything you can give, whether it be company along the walk (it’s on the riverfront downtown), prayers, moral support or monetary. The money, the time, the love, the prayers, they all go to a good cause. To beautiful people like this little lady, who I’m proud to have as a part of my family.

The best day

It’s my favorite day all year. My family and several of my friends get together the first Saturday in May for betting, eating, drinking, cigar smoking, cornhole playing, volleyballing, chilling and yelling at the television once every hour.

It’s the Kentucky Derby and I love every second of it. The weeks leading up to it are some of the most fun you can have in this town and given the choice between going to the track on the day or spending it with people I love, well…that’s an easy choice.

This year, I had every intention of photographing the whole day. Walking around with my camera, practicing my candid photography and stuff for upcoming weddings and such that I will be shooting.

But then I had a Lilly. Or four. And it was more fun to just sit and relax and talk to my friends and family and play a volleyball game or 8 or watch people race in humongous pairs of underwear or play wiffle ball baseball as the sun went down.

I did take a few photos, mainly of cigar-smoking, an annual tradition paired with Mint Juleps (for some brave souls) after the race. The first ones, though, are continuing our tradition of beautiful, America’s Next Top Model-caliber shots, as art directed by my sisters and cousins, and, for the first time, Anna’s boyfriend, Vince. He’s the one with the finger in his belly button for our “Abercrombie Shot.”

The next blog will have a slideshow full of amazing sports action photography, which I can take no credit at all for. I was playing. So I just provided the camera.

But for now, here are mine..

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I look forward to the first Saturday in May like it’s Christmas. And I’m already excited for next year’s party. 364 days and counting…

Yep, still looking for a car

I wish I could tell you I have a new car. I’d like to tell you that it’s gray – or blue or black or red – and cute and affordable and has low mileage. And that when I bought it, with no one’s help, I’m the one who haggled with the car salesman and never let on that I even wanted the thing.

Alas, none of the above is true.

I partially blame Kia, who in their commercials, tells me that if I have a job and $199, I could get a car. Well, I have a job. And $199. I went to Kia. And still, no car. Speaking of Kia though, Fritz called me back this morning and swears he has a bunch of good stuff in my price range – and they’re 2009s, no less. Bet a million bucks one of them is a van that may or may not have been wrecked.

I haven’t called Fritz back, mainly because when I got the chance to – after work – he was already gone for the day. The other reason is because I feel this lump in my stomach every time I think about having to start the negotiation process all over again – or maybe the lump is the BLT from Subway I had today. Wasn’t that great. Bleh.

TANGENT ALERT – When I lived in O-town, there were about four choices for lunch: Hometown Pizza, Dairy Queen, McDonald’s and Subway. I got Subway all the time and once decided to deviate from my regular order of a turkey sandwich and order a BLT, and to order said BLT over the phone – they delivered, how crazy is that? Never deviate from your usual. It can only end badly.

BLT means bacon, lettuce and tomato. No, I don’t think you’re dumb. I’ve just found that I need to explain myself sometimes, EVEN WHEN THE INGREDIENTS ARE IN THE NAME. So. I order over the phone and say, I want a BLT on white bread.

Ok. Easy enough. Then she asked me what I wanted on it – you know, a normal person would believe that meant besides the three ingredients already implied by the order of a BLT. So, I said, “just mayonnaise.”

Imagine my surprise and utter confusion when I unrolled my sandwich after it was delivered and found that it contained only bacon and mayonnaise. What. in. the. hell? I still don’t get it. I guess once you get past the B, those other two letters could mean anything, and they just didn’t want to chance getting them wrong.

“Could she mean Bacon, Lima Beans and Tabasco Sauce?”
“I don’t know, just stick with the bacon. Oh, and she just wants mayonnaise, don’t forget that.”

Yeah…

What was I talking about? Buying a car? Oh. Still haven’t. And every time I get in the Focus I sit there for a second with my eyes closed and say a little prayer that it lasts just a little longer, I just need to save a little more money. I ignore the fact that stuff keeps happening to it.

The latest? Heat’s broken. Well. I say broken, but it still kind of works, when it’s turned up to the highest level. I now blink about 80 more times a second when driving home in the cold because if I don’t, I think my contacts would dry out and fall right off of my eye.

I check Cars.com every day, hoping there’s some crazy car salesman out there who has a 2008 Kia Sportage automatic with less than 30K miles that they wanna just see if they can sell for the exact amount I can spend.

I’ve branched out and resigned myself to the fact that I may never own an SUV, at least not until I win a contest where one is the prize. I am looking at cars, a few different models, in fact, but I’m still being kind of picky.

Did I mention there are other parts of car shopping that suck? Like financing? Yeah.

So I’m basically where I was the last time I talked to you about car shopping, which is nowhere, except that I’ve found a couple more Web sites to look through.

And I’m practicing my zombie look before I go talk to anyone in person again. Be proud, Dad!

You CAN read my p-p-p-poker face

Recently added to the list of things I can’t do – which already includes waking up before 6 a.m., hiring a reporter, calculus, watching any more of the Saw movies and singing Ashlee Simpson songs alone at karaoke – is car shopping.

I’ve owned two cars in my life, the first bought as a Christmas present for me the year I turned 16 – it had 109K miles on it and no automatic anything and the CD player didn’t work when it got cold – and the one I drive now, which I paid half of when my parents helped me buy it in ’04. I should note that my current ride was purchased after 2.5 years at college with no personal mode of transportation and lots of bumming rides. My parents went out and picked it out, brought it home and said, ‘do you like this?’ and we went back to the dealership and bought it.

Dad did all of the negotiation that time. My only involvement, besides driving the thing, would be contributing the little bit of money I’d saved from working at Hallmark, Victoria’s Secret and the front desk at Southwest Hall for a short time until I was fired for falling asleep for .85 seconds one day at FIVE IN THE MORNING.

I didn’t pay much attention to Dad’s negotiation techniques because I thought the lil’ Focus would last forever and even when I went back to get another one, it wouldn’t be that bad, Dad would help me out or I’d have a boyfriend or husband to do the negotiations on my behalf, I’d just supply the money and/or the credit.

Fast-forward to yesterday. I’m 25, single, and my poor little Focus has just about crapped out. It’s up to 110,000 miles, it has a crack in the front and the fuel pump had to be replaced this summer. The check engine light has been on for 3 weeks and there’s a stain on the passenger side door from where a former roommate – who I will only refer to as the DEVIL INCARNATE because we have not spoken since the day I moved out of where I lived with her in McLean Hall at Western and she’s the meanest person alive – attempted to push a full cup of coke out of an almost closed window while drunk. Oh, and the other day, the handle broke on the driver’s side and my dad had to take it to the shop, driving AND holding the door shut with his other hand.

Yeah. It’s time.

So yesterday, we started the process of shopping – my youngest sister and I both need cars and we started at the Kia Store because I really want a Sportage. Correction – I want a BRAND NEW Sportage, but let’s be realistic. I haven’t gotten my tax refund yet, or sold my car, or taken a good look at my financial situation for the next few months to know if I had the slightest wiggle room on a monthly payment. Like I said, started the process.

We met a nice man named Fritz who just so happens to have a daughter that’s mentioned in the sports pages of the paper I work for on a pretty regular basis. He was nice – and not in that slimy way that car salesman are, actually – and I test-drove two Sportages, the first of which he should have never let me in because I liked it a lot until I found out it cost almost twice as much as I could spend.

Then, after my sister test-drove a smaller car, I got sucked into trying out the other Sportage, the one that was my favorite color, in my price range AND was a manual transmission which is fine because I can drive stick. What’s the problem there, right? So I drove it. And liked it. I’d prefer an automatic because driving stick sucks in stop-and-go traffic and after the test-drive my left foot already hurt because it wasn’t used to being bent that way while I drive. But for the price and the color and the fact that my Focus HATES ME right now and is conspiring against me, I was interested.

But hey, guess what. You don’t act interested when you like a car. And you don’t act uninterested. You act like a zombie.

No, seriously. You do. Which is foreign to a girl like me, who needs an Ace Bandage to cover up that giant heart on my sleeve. If you’ve known me for longer than 38 seconds, you know exactly how I feel when I feel something – sad, mad, happy, uncomfortable, whatever – because it’s written ALL OVER MY FACE. I’m emotional. Sue me.

So. As Fritz listened to me say I couldn’t do this unless the payments were X amount – not even $5 higher – he proceeded to offer me a decent amount of buckaroos for my current POS, sight-unseen. Then, he tried to get me to sign stuff, saying if he could get the payments where I want, would I sign? Would I buy a car today? (DID I MENTION IT WAS THE FIRST DAY I WAS SHOPPING???)

Being the inexperienced car-shopper I am, I looked at my dad, who was looking at his iPhone and he made a face at me and said “You’re an adult, this is your money.” That, kids, is not what I wanted to hear. I wanted him to say “Fritz, unless you can knock three thousand bucks off that price, we’re walking” or something else bad-ass like that. But he didn’t. And then, I did the apparently worst of all things to do while car shopping, I SHOWED EMOTIONS. Because Fritz was basically telling me I was kind of too poor to buy this car but they could maybe work it out but I needed to be realistic and drive a van or a grandma car or a car made in 1995 to afford it with my stipulations.

I put my head on the table – go ahead and judge me, but it was depressing to hear I couldn’t buy a car yesterday even though I WASN’T GOING TO BUY A CAR YESTERDAY.

Every time Fritz walked away to “work on the numbers” my dad told me to stop being so obvious about how I was feeling. Because when you are buying a car and they tell you you are gonna have a hell of a time trying to buy the one you want with your current finances, “you are NOT supposed to put your head on the table and cry.”

I didn’t cry.

We went one other place yesterday, and I think I did better that time, mostly because they only showed me cars I had no interest in – i.e. looked like a boat or was a car I know someone drives that is twice my age. Plus, both of the guys we dealt with at the second place had less personality than a rock, so it wasn’t hard to act like I was ready to leave the whole time.

I’ve looked at the money and the possibilities and I’m gonna wait a couple months before I go back out with intent to buy – thank God for Internet. But, next time I go, I will remember the following rules (and you should too if you want to get it right):

• When it comes to facial expressions and any sign of outward emotion, be a zombie.

• Say no 99 percent of the time. Don’t even accept anything to drink, then they will know you’re tough.

And finally, and maybe most importantly:
• Work out a code with your dad ahead of time so when you look at him and blink three times in rapid succession he understands that means “HELP ME OUT HERE!”