FOOLPROOF advice to get a man- Part 2

Alright, buckle up, because we’re going to finish out this list of advice in style! In case you missed Part 1, check it out here.

I got a little crazy with the memes on this one, but what can I say that a meme can’t say better?

Section 3: HOW TO LOOK GOOD TO HIM

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Well thanks, Cheryl, shouldn’t you have gone through this with me first before I started setting up my easel outside his classroom?! No wonder he called school security.

Anyway….

48. Men like to think they’re authorities on perfume. Ask his advice on what kind you should wear.

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49. Get better-looking glasses — men still make passes at girls who wear glasses — or try contact lenses.

“Men still make passes at girls who wear glasses”?! A mantra for the ages!

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50. Practice drinking with your women friends first.

CHECK!

51. If you dye your hair, pick a shade and stick to it.

Remember, none of this “guess who?” stuff!

52. Wear high heels most of the time — they’re sexier.

Sure, until you break your ankle because you’re flat-footed and clumsy af.

53. Unless he happens to be shorter than you are!

Then you’d better bind up those feet.

54. Tell him he’s handsome.

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Done.

55. Take good care of your health. Men don’t like girls who are ill.

Yet…. yet, we want to meet widowers, don’t we?! Make up your mind, McCall’s!

56. If you look good in sweaters, wear one on every third date.

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57. Dress differently from the other girls in the office.

Somehow I think my squeaking into the office in stretchy pants, glasses and sports T’s on Fridays isn’t what they have in mind.

58. Get a sunburn.

Make. Up. Your. Mind! If he doesn’t like ill girls, what’s he going to do when you get melanoma?

59. Watch your vocabulary.

Covfefe!

60. Go on a diet if you need to.

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61. When you are with him, order your steak rare.

Shouldn’t I be getting a salad?!

62. Don’t tell him about your allergies.

No. It’s much better for it to be a SURPRISE.

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63. European women use their eyes to good advantage. Practice in front of a mirror.

Smize. It. Up!

64. Buy a full-length mirror and take a good look before you go to greet him.

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65. Change the shade of your stockings and be sure to keep the seams straight!

I have no idea.

66. Get that fresh-scrubbed look by scrubbing!

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67. If he has bought you any trinket or accessory, wear it.

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68. Use the ashtray; don’t crush out cigarettes in coffee cups!

The horror!

69. Polish up on making introductions; learn to do them gracefully.

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70. Don’t be too fussy.

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71. Stick to your moral standards.

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72. Don’t whine — girls who whine stay on the vine!

Is it by chance this vine?

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Alright, DRUMROLL…. You’ve almost got him!

Section 4: HOW TO LAND HIM

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73. Show him you can have fun on a cheap date — but don’t overdo it!

I have so many questions. Overdo the cheapness, the fun, the date itself?

74. Don’t let your parents treat him like a potential husband.

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75. Ask your parents to disappear when you’re entertaining!

Now…. wouldn’t that be the entertainment? A magic show!

76. Double-date with a gay, happily married couple — let him see what it’s like!

There’s absolutely no way this could backfire.

77. Tell his friends nice things about him.

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78. Send his mother a birthday card.

If you’ve never met her, this won’t be creepy at all.

79. Ask his mother for her recipes.

So you can fuck them up.

80. Talk to his father about business and agree that taxes are too high!

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81. Buy his sister’s children an occasional present.

Yes, get the children to whine to him about missing Auntie Alyssa!

82. On the first date, tell him you aren’t thinking of getting married!

You know, I tried that, since I met Luke as I was getting divorced, and it really seems to have backfired. 5 years later…

83. Don’t talk about how many children you want.

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84. If he’s a fisherman, learn to scale and clean fish.

Pass.

85. Don’t tell him everything about yourself at the start. Hold something in reserve.

Oops.

86. When you’re out strolling with him, don’t insist on stopping at every shopwindow.

I thought men loved shopping?

87. Don’t tell him how much your clothes cost.

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88. Learn to sew and wear something you have made yourself.

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89. Don’t gossip about him.

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90. Never let him know he’s the only one, even if you have to stay home one or two nights a week!

Ed gets it.

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91. Don’t be a pushover when he’s trying to make a date.

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92. Very early in your dating, why not get a favorite song that you both regard as your own?

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93. Find out about the girls he hasn’t married. Don’t repeat the mistakes they made.

Also, don’t go crazy in the process, which I’m sure you won’t.

94. Don’t discuss your former boyfriends.

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95. If you are widowed or divorced, don’t constantly discuss your former husband.

Re: the first couple months…. oops.

96. Be flexible. If he decides to skip the dance and go rowing in the lake, go — even if you are wearing your best evening gown.

Sure, no problem! And doesn’t this directly conflict with #91??

97. Hide your Phi Betta Kappa key if you own one — later on junior can play with it.

In the name of all that is holy, what the hell are we even TALKING about?!

98. Turn wolves into husband material by assuming they have honor.

I’m not a magician or a witch, Sally.

99. Resist the urge to make him over — before marriage, that is!

OK, you’re straight up contradicting yourself, McCall’s.

100. Learn where to draw the line — but do it gracefully.

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101. Remain innocent but not ignorant.

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102. Make your home comfortable when he calls — large ashtrays, comfortable chairs.

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103. Learn to play poker.

Practice your poker face.

104. If he’s rich, tell him you like his money — the honestly will intrigue him!

And you’ll be signing a prenup.

105. Never let him believe your career is more important to you than marriage.

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106. Buy him an amusing or particularly appropriate present every once in awhile. But don’t make it too expensive.

Heh.

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107. Clip and mail him a funny cartoon that means something to both of you.

Yeah, obviously, text him a meme. It’s 2018.

108. Don’t tell dirty stories.

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109. Stop being a mama’s girl — don’t let him think he’ll have in-law trouble, even if you know he will!

Sounds perfectly up front.

110. Point out to him that the death rate of single men is twice that of married men.

Facts be damned!

BONUS ROUND- Section 5: WILD IDEAS — ANYTHING GOES

Yes, for real, this is still part of the McCall’s article, in case you had doubts.

Remember at the beginning of this Part 2 post where I said to buckle up? Well now the frilly sight-seeing part of the tour is over and we’re going on a ride, so BUCKLE UP NOW, and probably request one of those roller coaster protector things for your shoulders because we’re gonna go upside down a few times.

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111. Go to Yale.

Just do it! Remember what Reese Witherspoon said about getting into Harvard law school in “Legally Blonde?”

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112. Get a hunting license.

If you can’t snag him, shoot him!

113. If your mother is fat, tell him you take after your father. If he’s fat too, tell him you’re adopted!

All the best marriages are built on a throne of lies!

114. Stow away on a battleship.

Why not? It’s Tuesday!

115. Rent a billboard and post your picture and telephone number on it.

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116. Paint your name and number on roof and say, “Give me a buzz, pilots.”

If the billboard thing doesn’t work out, of course.

117. Start a whispering campaign on how sought-after you are.

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118. Sink at a fashionable beach at high noon!

As in… drown?

119. Ride the airport bus back and forth from the airport.

What fresh hell activity is this?!

120. Bribe Ferris-wheel operator to get you stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel.

Told you we’d go upside down….

121. Stand on a busy street corner with a lasso.

No one will mistake you for a prostitute.

122. Carry a camera and ask strange, handsome men if they would mind snapping your picture. 

Make sure they’re strange because you want your photo to end up in that cold case file, don’t you?

123. Ask your mother to take in male boarders.

I just physically shuddered.

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124. Make and sell toupees — bald men are easy catches!

I’d rather die alone. Not than date a bald man but… making toupees?! See above gif.

125. Advertise for male co-owner of a boat.

Now THERE’S a good idea in all of this bat-shit craziness!

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126. If you see a man with a flat, offer to fix it.

You’ve got plenty of experience from your regularly scheduled car break downs.

127. Carry a tow chain in the trunk of your automobile.

Are we still on a list about snagging a husband?!

128. Let it be known in your office that you have a button box and will sew on bachelors’ loose buttons.

It is decreed!

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And last but not least. Ladies, for the love of god, above all else ….

129. Don’t marry him if he has too many loose buttons!

So, there you have it! Happy hunting. May you live happily ever after, in Nevada, selling fishing tackle out of your convertible, living under a mountain of lies. True love!

FOOLPROOF advice to get a man- Part 1

Since it’s the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend, naturally I am just above useless at work today. I literally dragged myself out of bed, skipped the shower and I’m wearing my glasses.

I have managed to clear my email inbox and accomplish about 3 simple tasks, so obviously I have spent most of the day browsing online. Not for cyber Monday or anything like that — I have no money — but just going down a delightful rabbit hole of sorts on the joy that is Betches.com.

Which is how I have stumbled upon this GEM. Apparently it’s been making the rounds online, but Adultish Alyssa is going to break it down for you — just in time for the magical, romantic holiday season — because why would I spend my last hour here doing something productive? That’s what Tuesdays are for.

What we have here, ladies (and gentlemen maybe), is some solid, timeless, spot on advice about how to land yourself a husband. ONE HUNDRED TWENTY NINE ways, to be exact.

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Let’s dig in, shall we?

Oh, real quick side note — this is from an issue of McCall’s magazine published in 1958. But trust me, it’s TIMELESS.

Section 1: WHERE TO FIND HIM

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  1. Get a dog and walk it.

YES. I’ve always dreamed of falling in love at the dog park when his and my dog’s poo gets mixed up. This is the stuff of true romance. Also, men hate cats (FACT).

2. Have your car break down at strategic places.

Mind=BLOWN. I had no idea I could schedule my car to break down! How neat.

3. Attend night school — take courses men like.

You know, like the reverse of this article I’m sure. There must be an equivalent course for men? Better yet, schedule your car to break down outside the night school!

4. Join a hiking club.

Honestly, I got nothin. But it sounds like a recent episode I caught of Dateline, so maybe not.

5. Look in the census reports for places with the most single men. Nevada has 125 males for every 100 females.

Ladies — forget your friends, family, career. You need to move where the MEN are, or your life has no meaning!

6. Read the obituaries to find eligible widowers.

ABSOLUTE GENIUS. You can procure yourself a SUGAR DADDY since he’s probably 70-plus!

7. Take up golf and go to different golf courses.

Can we say, cute golf clothes?! YES!

8. Take several short vacations at different places rather than one long one at one place.

This ties in nicely with #5 — you can scope out where you’re going to uproot your life and move to.

9. Sit on a park bench and feed the pigeons.

You won’t look sad, I swear. Nothing hooks a man like a woman who has a way with winged rats.

10. Take a bicycle trip through Europe.

Who’s funding this LIST, Martha?! Furthermore, do you bike on the wrong side of the street there, too, or is that just driving?

11. Get a job in a medical, dental or law school.

This isn’t sexist at all….

12. Become a nurse or airline stewardess — they have very high marriage rates.

Well, I do say! Let’s all join the mile high club!

13. Ask your friends’ husbands who the eligible men are in their offices.

You know, I tried that, and it just really didn’t work out between me and the janitor. Sigh.

14. Be nice to everybody — they may have an eligible brother or son.

And if not? SCREW ‘EM.

15. Get a government job overseas.

I’m sensing a worldly type of theme here, no? And you know, getting a government job, particularly overseas, is SUPER EASY.

16. Volunteer for jury duty.

You might meet your sweetheart — the murderer!

17. Be friendly to ugly men — handsome is as handsome does.

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18. Tell your friends that you are interested in getting married. Don’t keep it a secret.

Men LOVE desperate women.

19. Get lost at football games.

If I’m at a football game, I’m watching it. Fuck that.

20. Don’t take a job in a company run largely by women.

Oops.

21. Get a job demonstrating fishing tackle in a sporting goods store.

Oddly specific.

22. On a plane, train or bus don’t sit next to a woman — sit next to a man.

Throw all your caution out the window! We’re now perfectly fine seeking men out in strange public places and scheduling car breakdowns — at night school!

23. Go to all reunions of your high school or college class. There may be widowers there.

Reaaaaally focused on the widower thing, huh McCall’s? It’s not creepy at all.

24. Don’t be afraid to associate with more attractive girls; they may have some leftovers.

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25. Go back to your home town for a visit — the wild kid next door may have become a very eligible bachelor while you were away.

That lives with his mom. Cool.

26. Don’t room with a girl that is a sad sack and let her pull you down to her level.

… and no one roomed with Alyssa ever again.

27. Get a part-time job in a convention bureau.

Huh?

28. Change apartments from time to time.

Your next hunky landlord is just round the corner!

29. When traveling, stay at small hotels where it is easier to meet strangers.

Remember, all caution out the window! Better to be strangled than single!

30. Learn to paint. Set up easel outside engineering school.

You’ll seem perfectly normal and security won’t be called.

Section 2: HOW TO LET HIM KNOW YOU’RE THERE

You know, if the easel outside his school, breaking down in front of his house every day at 5 and showing him how to use fishing tackle do not work, of course.

31. Stumble when you walk into a room he’s in.

Bonus if it’s onto the fainting couch. How dainty!

32. Forget discretion every once in awhile and call him up.

Every night. At 2 a.m., drunk!

33. Carry a hatbox.

I do believe this would work today. Why on earth would someone be carrying such an item? Intriguing!

34. Wear a Band-Aid. People always ask what happened.

I’m just trying to cover up my psoriasis.

35. Make a lot of money.

Scheduling car breakdowns, international travel, becoming a millionaire! This list is making me realize my full life’s instant potential.

36. Learn several funny stories and learn to tell them well — but make sure you don’t tell them to him more than once.

Men — this one’s for you. Take heed.

37. Walk up to him and tell him you need some advice.

About fishing tackle.

38. Dropping the handkerchief still works.

Totally stealing this from Betches but…..

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39. Have your father buy some theater tickets that have to be got rid of.

My dad was perplexed when I called and asked him to buy tickets for me, but perhaps you’ll have better luck.

40. Stand in a corner and cry softly. Chances are good* that he’ll come over to find out what’s wrong.

*ABSOLUTELY ZERO

41. Don’t let him fish for your name the next time you meet. None of this “guess who” stuff.

READ THE NECKLACE.

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42. If you’re at a resort, have the bell-boy page you.

I guess we’re getting desperate.

43. Buy a convertible. Men like to ride in them.

Schedule it to break down.

44. Learn how to bake tasty apple pies. Bring one in to the office and let the eligible bachelors taste it.

Everyone else in the office can go to hell, right?

45. Laugh at his jokes.

Even if they’re offensive or not funny!

46. If there’s a wallflower among the men you know, why not cultivate him? For all you know, he may be a diamond in the rough.

Certainly not someone addicted to video games, no no, of course not!

47. “Accidentally” have your purse fly open, scattering its contents all over the street.

Tampons, crazy pills and condoms be damned!

Alright y’all, I’ve successfully pissed away the hour, so we’ll have to continue with this tomorrow. I’ll bet you can’t wait!

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5 years (Part 1 of 2)

**Disclaimer: The spacing on this is screwed up and I can’t seem to get it right. Once again, Technology-1, Alyssa-0**

Hello friends.

This is kind of a big day for me. I don’t know what it is about “5 years,” but it seems significant. A lot can happen in that time. It’s half a decade.

Nine years ago today, I got married. My ex and I would be celebrating almost a decade of marriage together today but….

On what would have been my fourth wedding anniversary 5 years ago, he and I were huddled around his laptop, trying to navigate a website about filing for divorce in Wisconsin. I remember half sitting on the arm of the couch, not wanting to be that close.

The next day, we went downtown to file and pay the fee (yup, it’s not free!), and then he left on a plane to California. A new chapter in each of our lives was beginning as we began the 6-month waiting period until our divorce was finalized.

That day before, an “anniversary” spent discussing the logistics of splitting up the remnants of our seven years together, I remember I had put on my vinyl of Bon Iver’s “For Emma, Forever Ago.” A rather melancholy tune was playing:

My mile could not
Pump the plumb
In my arbor ’till my ardor
Trumped every inner inertia
Lump sum
All at once
Rushing from the sub-pump
(Or so the story goes)
Balance we won’t know
We will see when it gets warm
I remember looking at the song title and thinking, “Huh, ‘Lump Sum.’ How appropriate for a divorce.”

You really have to listen to it to get the full effect. I’m actually listening to the album right now, and it’s raining. Too perfect. Melancholy as it is, it brings me an odd sense of comfort. I remember putting it on approximately a year after that day, when I was in my own apartment, the first apartment I lived in by myself.

Screen shot from my Insta, circa Fall 2014
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It’s true. A year later, life was good. But I was still figuring out a lot. I still am.

Once I knew it was over with my ex, I remember reaching out to a friend who recently had gone through a divorce. I remember her clearly telling me that the next year of my life would be the hardest. She suggested taking down all of my social media accounts, since people would start to figure things out and have questions; I’d be changing my name, I’d be deleting tons of photos, etc.

She was right. Although I didn’t take my accounts offline, all of those things were true. Even now, my efforts to delete nearly every trace of my former relationship on social media doesn’t stop things from popping up in Timehop and Facebook memories. Tons of friends and family have documentation from my wedding day, even if I’ve managed to wipe my own account fairly clean.

It’s OK. It’s not exactly like I’m trying to erase my past. Most of the time, on days like today, it just shows me how far I’ve come.

Over these past 5 years, especially in the first couple, I just didn’t understand how I’d gotten it SO wrong. I do take marriage seriously. I took my vows seriously; I wrote them myself. How did I screw it all up? Not the marriage itself — that takes two — but my choice of life partner.

And that’s not meant as an offense to him. It’s just that he doesn’t possess a lot of qualities or interests that I learned were really important to me. It scares me. It makes me feel like we don’t know who the fuck we really are in our 20s, and tons of people get married in their 20s. Some of them are just fine, but I know there are others like me, who wake up one day and are like, THIS PERSON? How did this happen?!

We just didn’t grow together. It happens. I honestly feel like the end of the marriage in a lot of ways is more on me than him. Yes, he left, he “ended” it. But from the time we met, and especially when we moved to Wisconsin, I really set off in another direction with my wants and needs. I also think he had all of these ideals about some path we were supposed to be on, and I wasn’t fitting into that, as I was figuring myself out. I just don’t think he realized how unhappy he was, in general, and I think he sees it now. He seems much happier now, and I’m glad.

Honestly, though, I feel like getting divorced resulted in an evolvement from a former version of myself. Starting over at 30 isn’t exactly ideal, but it’s a lot better than a host of alternatives. Now at 35, I’m very confident about who I am and what I want. I’m still going to make mistakes, but I don’t think I’m going to make them in love.

In general, I’ve still got a long way to go in figuring things out. Things like:
– Saving money (LOL, what?!)
– Budgeting (more specifically, actually sticking to the budget)
– Dealing with hurt feelings
– Handling stress in healthier ways
– Riding a bike without freaking out (still!)
But I do think I’ve figured out love, for myself. Romantic love, anyway; I’m still figuring out how to love myself.

The thing about romantic love is, you’re only half of the whole. It’s more than just feelings. It’s making a choice every day. It’s a partnership.

More on that in Part 2.
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50 Books in 2018: Part 1

Hey there — do I still have readers?! If I do, that’s super swell, and thanks for stopping by! I know I haven’t blogged for literally 6 months (yikes), but it’s Monday, there’s a little bit of time left in the workday and I’m not feeling super productive, so, you get a blog!

About books!

Probably don’t actually fold your book like this. What a tool.

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Books are neat, aren’t they? I like them in the tub, I like them on a train; I like them on the balcony, sheltered from the rain.

I’m proud to say I am a card-carrying library member, and I’ve been getting a lot of use out of it lately because earlier this year I set a “goal” to read 50 books in 2018.

I don’t know where you’re at in terms of reading level/amount, but that is kind of a lot. In fact, when I got out my handy dandy work calculator (circa whenever calculators were invented) to see what that would average per month for a year, it comes to about 4.166666666666.

This is a LEGIT piece of machinery, no?

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At that calculation, if I average one book every 1-2 weeks, I can keep up. That’s not a crazy feat for me… when I get sucked into something, I will read it within a couple of days at times, let alone a week. But you know, life happens, and sometimes it will take me time to get through a book, particularly if I’m not super into it. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t finish a book (well wait, I kind of can…), but I can tell you that when I read “1984” last year, I felt I was being tortured along with the people in this dystopian universe.

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So, it’s basically August now, and according to calculations, I should have read about 29 books by now.

I’m actually on book number 22, so I’m … sort of close? I’m confident I can still meet my goal by the end of the year.

Why this goal, you may ask? Well, if you’re a regular reader, you know I am not big on real New Year’s Resolutions. I think more often than not, they set us up to fail and are kind of arbitrary. I’ve been letting myself off the hook the past couple years by striving for things like this:

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But this year, the idea of setting a reading goal seemed like something I could work toward, and something I would benefit from yet also really enjoy, unlike exercising and drinking less.

So now that I’m close to half of my goal (and yes, I’m aware the year is MORE than half over, thankyouverymuch), I wanted to share some of the stuff I’ve enjoyed, and some I could have done without.

First and foremost, I am way late to the party, but I have discovered Jodi Picoult. It started when a friend recommended “Small Great Things,” one of her more recent novels, and I loved it and discovered she has written TONS. You may have heard of “My Sister’s Keeper” because it’s also a movie, but I haven’t read a book of hers yet that I didn’t like or finish in a few days. Next to Emily Giffin, my favorite author (I own several of her books and just finished “All We Ever Wanted,” her latest — highly recommend), Jodi is a new fav. She tackles relevant, tough issues and examines them from all angles. What’s not to love from a journalist?!

I’m also catching up on some memoir-type books I’ve been meaning to read over the years, from Amy Schumer, Tina Fey and Anna Kendrick. I’m just 2 chapters into Amy Schumer’s book, “The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo,” and I love it already. Girl gets me. I also highly recommend Chrissy Metz’s memoir, “This is Me,” whether or not you’re a “This is Us” fan (and um if you’re not… Okkkkkkkk).

I. Love. Suspense. Murder. Mysteries. Anything by Ruth Ware (“The Woman in Cabin 10,” “In a Dark, Dark Wood,” “The Lying Game”) gets devoured in a day. My friend recommended “Magpie Murders” by Anthony Horowitz, which was like a novel within a novel and very interesting. A little slower, but still gripping.

There has been one book so far I did not care for, and that was “Lincoln in the Bardo” by George Saunders. It’s basically about the death of President Lincoln’s young son Willie (true story) but explores it through a supernatural realm where ghosts in a cemetery hang out “in limbo” and get into all kinds of shenanigans. It was just kind of a chore to get through with the writing style, but to each his own. I’m still glad I read it for something different, and I definitely know more about this chapter in history now, so there’s that.

All in all, it has been a great goal for me. I watch TV maybe slightly less, and sometimes I go to bed earlier because I want to read my book, and then I fall asleep. I’m also happy to support my local library and kind of love used books. Most of them are hardback.

I’d love to hear more book recommendations if you have any! I’ve only got, oh….. 28 books to go!

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Balancing Act

With all the yoga I’ve done off and on over the years, you’d think I’d have better balance.

Alas, I don’t. Particularly on my left side, I’ll last maybe a good 20 seconds in tree pose before I start to lose it.

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It’s basically a reflection of my life. If we made the right side of my body the week (M-F), and the left side the weekend, it makes total sense.

Case in point: In late December, I made a budget. FINALLY. I finally sat down and crunched numbers to see what I can really spend each month to stop racking up credit card debt and live within my means.

Spoiler alert: It ain’t much. After I pay my monthly bills and account for groceries and other incidentals, I’m left with a couple hundred to spend on whatever I want — and that’s not even accounting for money that should be going into a savings account, which I hope to get going later this year. (I know. I’m 34, how have I not been saving this whole time?! Well, I haven’t.)

Part of the problem is the vicious cycle that credit card debt creates. I have to pay more each month to try to shrink the balances on the cards, and then I find myself short on cash, and use the card to supplement – thus perpetuating the cycle.

But I’m trying to stop now! Really. I want to stop using the cards entirely for awhile and just try to live within my meager means. Then maybe I’ll actually have some money available to me when an emergency arises. Wouldn’t that be nice?

So, backing up a bit… I said I created a budget in December, with the intention to start living by it on Jan. 1.

January was a disaster. I went over my “spending” budget pretty quickly, but then in one of the last weekends of the month, I spent an additional EIGHTY UNPLANNED DOLLARS at one bar on an impromptu Sunday Funday. Apparently, I was feeling generous and buying rounds for my friends.

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I hope they enjoyed it because I can’t be doing that shit anymore if I ever want to get out of this mess!

So Feb. 1 is my new start date to give this another shot. I’ve got it all figured out — what I can spend for the month, even what I can spend in each pay cycle. I’ve also decided if I do go out, I’m taking cash out before I go, and if I spend it all, THAT’S IT. No hitting the ATM!

Even though it’s kind of a bummer to face what little I actually have to use as spending money, it’s also great to be aware of where all my money is going and how much I actually have. Even though it constricts me in a way, it’s also freeing. I feel more in control of my destiny instead of just “screwed.”

Life balance is about more than money though, obviously. I think even worrying about money is something you shouldn’t be doing all the time. I’ve had some really great times over the course of my life, and I don’t really regret spending my money to live as I have, but I’m getting to the point where it feels a little unbalanced. There needs to be more of a middle ground between my YOLO-esque lifestyle and buckling down a bit with spending and just general consumption. I don’t really want to burn out before my time, and (un?)fortunately, the awareness of your own mortality starts to really kick in mid-30s.

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Thus far, I wouldn’t say I have any major regrets. But I also don’t want to have them down the line because I never reined it in a little.

But it’s about balance. I can’t subscribe to these ideas of punishing, all-or-nothing diet and exercise plans or even budgeting to the point where you’re only saving and not really doing anything fun now. To me, that’s no way to live. It has to be a give-and-take. I want to enjoy my life every single day, not punish myself until this future date where I’m allowed to live again because I have more money and a smaller waistline. No thanks. I’ll baby-step my way there and I may never get to a certain level. I think I can live with that.

So here’s to improving my balance — on and off the mat!

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Girlfriends

This is my squad.

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May 2016

Next to Luke, these ladies are the closest allies I have in life. I’d say even closer than my own family. They are my family. A little bit about each:

Katie, second from right

Katie and I both went to Ohio University and majored in news editing. We worked on the school paper together and shared some classes, and in our senior year, we rented a house together. Following graduation, we both landed internships in California and then later, jobs in Washington, D.C. Despite my moving to Wisconsin in 2008, we have remained very close and manage to visit each other nearly every year! We were each other’s maids of honor, and we’re able to keep in touch every week thanks to Google Chat.

Sam, far right

Sam was one of the first friends I made upon moving to Madison because I moved into an upstairs apartment in the same building she lives in. We share many fun parts of Madison life, including shows, yoga and various events about town. Knowing Sam has opened me up to some really great music and people, but she’s also taught me a lot about living a happier and often simpler, unapologetic life. We always support each other but also often egg each other on to making some questionable decisions that lead to great times and great stories.

Emily, left

Emily, my ginger warrior, is what I often refer to as a “real adult.” She’s really, truly got her shit together and knows how to live life with admirable balance between great times, healthy living and responsible decisions. She’ll egg you on at times too but typically make more responsible decisions on her end to prop you up in the aftermath. We met through people we don’t even talk to anymore, but we’ve only grown closer, both moving out of the near east side of Madison a few years ago (which is kind of a big deal) and coining the term #northsidelove, which if nothing else, gained some traction by organizers of the North Side Farmers Market. She’s very direct and doesn’t sugar coat advice or take sides — she gives it to me straight but is also one of my biggest cheerleaders and dearest friends.

When I’m rarely with all 3 of these ladies, it’s nothing short of magical, but either way I manage to keep them all a part of my life on the regular.

That’s not to say I don’t have other very close friends, and of course, relationships are always evolving, with people sometimes taking a greater role in my life for any period of time, while others may come and go. And then there are my high school friends, who when I actually get to see them, I have so much fun as if no time has passed and I’m sad I don’t see them all the time anymore. Then there are the people you meet through your significant other, who can also become close friends.

I’m very grateful for all of this. Just writing this now is a great reminder of how many great people I have in my life. Despite that, I’m not immune to sometimes feeling left out of something, or worrying I’m annoying people, or wondering if people are judging me. It happens to the best of us.

When it comes to friendship, even those with the best intentions can inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings, make someone feel left out. If this isn’t something you’ve ever dealt with, if your “circle” is so tight and so perfectly balanced that things just flow all the time without any drama whatsoever — congrats! But I know for me and a lot of people, it’s not that simple.

I’m not talking about Mean Girls here, either.

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Ain’t no one got time for that.

What I’m talking about is much more subtle than that.

I’m going to describe some scenarios here, scenarios that actually have happened to me or that I was involved in, or friends of mine have dealt with.

Scenario 1:

A group of friends decides to go to a Ladies Night event at a local store, with contests and giveaways. One girl sends a message to a few others. Of those girls on the message, one of them considers inviting another friend, realizes that friend’s work schedule isn’t likely to align with the event, and doesn’t bother sending a message. The event happens, social media posts go up, and the friend who wasn’t invited feels left out, wondering why she wasn’t included.

Scenario 2:

A group of girls who regularly get together for dinners are all invited to one of the girl’s birthday party. Upon arriving, one girl in the group learns everyone in the group but her went to a dinner before the party. She wasn’t invited. She feels hurt and wonders why.

Scenario 3:

A group of girls gets together every few months for Restaurant Week. They plan a specific day of the week to go to a meal each time the event comes around. Another girl on the fringe of this group — who is close with some in the group — wonders why she’s never invited. She then gets invited to a baby shower of one of the girls in the group, one she isn’t as close with. She’s very confused about her role in this group.

 

Each of these scenarios really happened, either to me or someone I know. With the exception of #2, I know the people involved well enough to know that any slighting or infliction of hurt feelings was inadvertent, unintentional. But does that make it hurt less for the one who feels left out?

And what’s the solution? That is something I’m not 100 percent sure of. You can’t think of everyone all the time for everything… but are there times we should be thinking of others more?

It’s complicated. When I sit down to make an invitation to a party, it can get out of control fast. I don’t want anyone to be left out, and between Luke and I, we know a lot of people. But certain gatherings don’t work beyond a certain head count. How do you pick and choose?

Obviously, some of that is natural. You’re closer with some people than others. Sometimes other things factor in: Did this person recently invite me to a gathering, making me inclined to return the favor? Are there people in the group who used to date or are not on speaking terms, making it awkward to invite both?

In most scenarios, you’re going to be fine. The major players will be included, and it’s unlikely the others are going to take issue or be offended. But then scenarios pop up like the examples above. When this inevitably happens, the next phase is how the one who feels slighted chooses to deal with it, and how the rest respond.

Scenario 1:

The person in Scenario 1 didn’t sit on her feelings — she told her friend she was hurt. When the friend explained she thought her schedule would interfere, she was reminded that an invite is appreciated regardless, and it so happened that the friend could have gone that day. Lesson learned; they moved on.

Scenario 2:

It’s been a few weeks, and the person in Scenario 2 still has hurt feelings but hasn’t addressed anyone about it directly. Other issues are popping up in the meantime, and she’s questioning how good of friends these women may be and whether it’s worth it to even bring it up.

Scenario 3:

Over time, the person in Scenario 3 has come to accept that a certain group is getting together for these dinners, and that’s OK. As far as the other invites go, she only goes if she feels inclined to, and if she doesn’t, she doesn’t feel bad about it. She knows no one is doing this to intentionally confuse her, so she’s going with what’s best for her at the time.

I’ll let you in on a secret. Every member of my squad above is involved in at least one of these scenarios. So we’re not perfect either! Even among us, feelings can be hurt. As you can see from the actions taken, or not taken, this is where the hard adulting part comes in. In the first scenario, direct communication was chosen. The issue was addressed and the case was closed, and the friend now tries to remember “an invite is always appreciated,” and it generally stuck. In the third scenario, that friend doesn’t feel it’s worth raising a stink. Over time, the importance or any hurt feelings have basically subsided and it’s not a huge deal. It wasn’t worth it to bring it up. And in the second scenario, the friend in question is still trying to decide what to do, if anything.

There are many, many mitigating factors. Sometimes things come up spur of the moment, you invite some people along, you go. It happens. That doesn’t make you a bad person, that makes you someone who is living life, without overthinking. In those cases, if anyone has hurt feelings, they’re typically fleeting. If you know where you stand with your friends, you know. You don’t have to read into everything all the time. And when lines are crossed, you have the option to either confront or chalk it up to a misunderstanding or simple oversight.

But why is that so hard sometimes? As my friend asked earlier today, “What age do I have to reach before things stop hurting my feelings so readily?”

My answer would be: Probably when you’re dead. If you’re like me, you feel things. And let’s be honest, we’re all about OURSELVES, nearly ALL of the time, so of course you’re going to feel that you should be forefront in your friends’ minds. Always. Even if you don’t actually think that, subconsciously, you probably do on some level. It’s normal.

I think a lot of it comes down to trust and communication. Deciding when to trust that it’s not a big deal, you’ll hit the next thing, or that you do need to talk about it. Only you really know that. And on the flip side, if you have a moment of question or doubt, be kind. Make the effort.

One thing’s for sure. Whenever possible, we should stick together. We’ll be running the world someday.

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I’d love to hear from you on some examples of your sticky situations and how you handled it! I’d also like to state that you are ALL invited to celebrate my 35th birthday May 31 at the Bonfire music festival in the hills of Wisconsin.

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The season of RED

Yes, it’s the season of red, white and green, silver and gold…

But mostly, red.

And by that I mean — my checking account.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
Buy some gifts, buy some booze, buy tickets to hear tunes,
Pray that payday is near…

…It’s the most wonderful time of the year?!

Between holiday events and parties, birthdays, Christmas gifts, winter car care and regular LIFE, I’m rather cash-strapped. While Christmas carols rule the airwaves, I find myself humming a different tune, by local favorite The People Brothers Band:

Ain’t it funny how the money goes
In and out my pocket
Round and round and round it goes…
Never gonna stop it.

Stop it.

Here, give it a listen. It’s quite fantastic.

I danced gleefully to this song Friday night at one of their shows, actually. I spent most of my Christmas bonus on festival tickets and a couple gifts this weekend, as well as some social outings, and this morning was a nice little bitch slap when I logged onto my account.

Now, some of this headache is the health care shuffle, and I know I’m not the only one feeling the pain. I had to switch plans yet again because my premium was going to be too high, so this month, I’m paying a double premium as I paid the monthly bill for my current plan for December and I have to pay ahead for January’s premium for the new plan. Now, that’ll all shake out eventually, but right now, it equals BROKER THAN A JOKER.

That’s not really proper grammar… fuck it.

About a month ago on a rainy Saturday afternoon, I logged onto Pinterest. I wanted to get some new ideas for holiday decorating.

An hour later, I was creating a “Holiday Craft Night” at my place because I was so excited to try out some of the craft ideas, and I figured other ladies might want to do the same.

It’s tomorrow. Today, I looked around for the funds needed to buy said crafting materials like:

And tonight I’ll be cleaning like a madwoman because… yeah.

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Here’s the part of the post where I should take a deep breath and spout some crap-  er, wisdom-  about how it’s about who you’re with, not gifts. It’s the season of giving, but it’s about being together.

I got nothin.

But I’d like to end on this note. Here’s something you can do this season that is INVALUABLE yet costs nothing at all — donating blood. A friend asked some of us to share this to try to get attendance up, and I figure this is as good a place as any. Even if you don’t live in Madison, I’m sure you can find somewhere to donate locally.

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Happy Holidays! I hope you’re seeing more green than red… unless you’re giving blood.

 

The case of Thanksgiving vs. Christmas, and giving less f*cks

This is the most wonderful time of the year.

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The significance of celebrating the birth of Christ aside (and tbh I’m not particularly religious), I find Thanksgiving superior to Christmas for the following reasons:

  • More days off.
  • It’s always the same day of the week.
  • No gift pressure.
  • ALL the food.
  • Being thankful for family and friends and spending time together.
  • The kick off of the holiday/Christmas season! Because yes, I love that, too.

It’s funny how much things can change in just two years…. and how much doesn’t change.

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving this year because I do not intend to attempt to impress anyone. You can look back at some of my older posts (here and here) to see the various things that have consumed my thoughts over Thanksgivings past — namely, failing to cook because I’m too hungover, worrying about the status of my home, worrying about my own life status, etc.

(Side note: It cracks me up to look at older posts where I used code names for everyone. Silly!)

So with that, I would like to announce that this is the Thanksgiving of giving zero fucks.

Have some more pie, suckas.

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Now, don’t get me wrong. My parents and my brother and his girlfriend are all coming from Ohio. I ordered a turkey from Whole Foods, so yeah. We’re still going to have a meal. I will bathe, the house will be passably clean and I’m even making a cute centerpiece for our table. It’s not that no effort will be put in, it’s just that I’m not going to worry about details like:

  • My weight and monetary status (we’ll get to that).
  • The house being spotless. People are just gonna fuck it up, anyway.
  • Am I drunk? (hopefully) Am I hungover? (hopefully not)

As of Monday of Thanksgiving week at 3:11 p.m., this is my current status:

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(Those sliders do look good, though.)

Luke is picking up the turkey today, but I still have to get EVERYTHING else. And I’m not even going to do it until tomorrow. I spent all of last weekend (in town) barely thinking about it and doing exactly zero shopping. We did some half assed meal planning, but not really. It’ll come together.

This isn’t really the me I’m used to. I’m a planner. I make an entire perfect plan in my head and even though it doesn’t play out exactly that way, the plan gives me comfort, direction, a goal of sorts.

You know what else it does, though? Sets me up for big-time failure. As of late, I find certain plans to be exhausting. I’ve also found that when I wait, sometimes parts just come together on their own in a way that wouldn’t have happened if all those items were already checked off.

I’m learning.

I’m also learning that if “super planner” me and “pretty much waited til the last minute” me met around noon on Thanksgiving, the results of both ways of doing things would likely be pretty similar, but I’d put money on the fact that the latter version of myself might actually be having a better time.

Now, back to that weird comment about my weight.

I’m pretty happy these days. I’d have to say there are just two major things that plague me that I wish would improve: I’m overweight, and I’m mostly broke.

The fact that I’m the key answer to solving both of those problems isn’t lost on me. I can’t budget my way out of a paper bag. I’m an instant gratification person a lot of the time. I work hard, and I play hard.

Some days, reading the news headlines, I think that is totallllllly fine. Lord knows where this world is going.

But I digress.

Over the years, I’ve had a pretty significant mental shift and a redefining of sorts of what happiness is, at least for me. I used to engage in a dangerous way of thinking that went something like “Things are good, but they’ll be GREAT when…..” As if once I reached certain milestones, then I could really be happy. So what was the present? Just some kind of life placeholder?

I’ve decided that’s no way to live. So, I live. I enjoy myself. I count my blessings and I still strive for self-improvement and I still have goals, but I really try not to beat myself up all the time for not being at a certain level. Some days are harder than others, obviously. Sometimes I do have to smack myself around a little. But for the most part, here I am, flaws and all. And I’m so thankful I’m here.

It’s a constant struggle, though, and one that experiences minor to major setbacks, especially when….

My parents come to town.

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I haven’t blogged about this because, it’s hard, and also because not all dirty laundry needs to be aired, but I will say this: My parents and I had words this past summer. This will be the first time we’re together since. We’ve texted, emailed and had limited phone conversation, so we’re not actively in a fight or anything, but things are still a little raw for me.

Even though I’m so much like them, I’m not like they were at 34. Our lifestyles are totally different. They say they get it, and for the most part seem proud to support me in my life choices, but do they really get it? Do our parents ever really get who we are?

So, last time they were in town, they decided to get really judgy. Their timing was great. Luke and I were moving, our good friends were having a big, fun wedding (which my parents also attended) and it was Fourth of July weekend.

I mean, I’m no expert on judgment, but this seems like a fantastic time to judge someone’s stress level, alcohol consumption and just general way of living. Sure. It’s just annnnnnny other day- where you’re moving, going to a wedding and celebrating our nation’s freedom. Let’s go to church!

The big difference between this time and other times this has happened in the past was where I am with myself and my life mentally. So I basically told them to fuck off, in so many words.

The thing is, my parents in recent years have become my friends — and I feel like they betrayed me when they judged me. They’re not my friends. The judgment goes both ways too (at times), but I kept my mouth shut. So yeah, I can treat them like other parents. There’s “me” and then there’s me. Filters are certainly possible.

But I’m not sure what to expect of this visit.

The thing is, I’m not really nervous. For one thing, my brother and his girlfriend are there, too (and he is the king of giving zero fucks), but also… I’m caring less and less what my parents think. What really matters is that I need to believe in myself and my own life. Luke and my friends play a huge part in making that possible, but I know much of it has to come from within.

So this year, I guess I would say I’m most thankful for the ability to stop apologizing to myself or others about who I am, flaws and all.

I know my parents love me, and I love them, too. They tried to say they just say things out of concern — but the thing is, that concern is coming from a place where life looks different than mine does, or something. It’s not on me to get inside their heads. And I’m done waiting for some special day where I can be happy. I want to be happy now. I choose to be happy now. I hope they’re happy, too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Me, too

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you’ve undoubtedly seen a slew of your friends, family, acquaintances and other social media connections tweeting/posting it:

#MeToo

So,

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Sort of.

According to this article from “W” magazine,

Since the first reports of Harvey Weinstein’s alleged history of sexual assault and harassment came out more than a week ago, countless people have come forward to share their own experiences with sexual violence from people in positions of power. This weekend, to further underscore just how widespread sexual violence is in Hollywood and beyond, Alyssa Milano started a hashtag that has since gone viral.

On Sunday, Alyssa, who appeared on Charmed alongside Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan, shared her idea for the new movement on Twitter. “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet,” she wrote. “Suggested by a friend: ‘If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.'” In the less than 24 hours since she posted the message, Alyssa’s tweet has since been retweeted more than 14,000 times and garnered more than 29,000 likes.

While more than 39,000 people have replied to the original tweet, countless more have simply tweeted “#MeToo” themselves, with or without further details about their experiences. According to Twitter, the hashtag has already been used more than 200,000 times. Among these are celebrities like Lady Gaga, Debra Messing, Evan Rachel Wood, and Hamilton star Javier Muñoz.

It turns out, the movement actually started more than 10 years ago with activist Tarana Burke — a fact Milano has shared.

According to this CNN article, a conversation with a young girl in 1996, when Burke was a youth camp director, about her abuse was “the genesis of the movement — to help young women of color who had survived sexual abuse, assault and exploitation.”

In the last few weeks, the hashtag has spread rapidly not just in the United States, but around the world.

The “W” article makes another really good point, though:

As brave as all of these people are for sharing their stories, however, it’s important to note that survivors of sexual assault and harassment should never feel pressure to name their trauma. Several Twitter users shared this sentiment using the #MeToo tag. “Reminder that if a woman didn’t post #MeToo, it doesn’t mean she wasn’t sexually assaulted or harassed. Survivors don’t owe you their story,” one wrote. “We shouldn’t have to out ourselves as survivors in order for people to grasp the magnitude of how systemic assault & harassment are. #MeToo,” another added.

I think more than the hashtag itself, the use of it has sparked some really interesting and meaningful dialogue among men and women, and what I feel are sort of “side effects.” Three of them primarily being:

  1. A slew of other victims coming forward to name other possible predators. In the past few weeks we’ve seen allegations emerge against, among others, Brett Ratner, Kevin Spacey and now NPR’s top news editor Michael Oreskes. 

2. A lot of conversations about what #metoo means, and whether women feel it’s their “right” to identify with it. I’ll get to more on that shortly.

3. This — Now a movement has started to give a voice to the countless women who can’t speak out, called #hertoo

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So, naturally, I’ve asked myself, where do I fit into all of this? Like the people in many articles I’ve read and in conversations with some friends, I was hesitant to put myself out there with #metoo for a couple of reasons. The first reason was, I’ve never — thankfully — been sexually assaulted. I went through a lot of the same self-talk, self-doubt many people did when #metoo started to spread, things like “Well, practically every woman gets sexually harassed,” “My examples aren’t that bad,” “I feel like I’m just jumping on the bandwagon,” “I’m not emotionally scarred by any of it,” etc.

Then this article came out, calling forth yet another offender: Dustin Hoffman.

(Side note: I fear we’ll discover all of our favorite actors are total letches before this is over.)

I’m going to paste the first part of the article below:

This is a story I’ve told so often I’m sometimes surprised when someone I know hasn’t heard it. It begins, “Dustin Hoffman sexually harassed me when I was 17.” Then I give the details: When I was a senior in high school in New York City, interning as a production assistant on the set of the Death of a Salesman TV film, he asked me to give him a foot massage my first day on set; I did. He was openly flirtatious, he grabbed my ass, he talked about sex to me and in front of me. One morning I went to his dressing room to take his breakfast order; he looked at me and grinned, taking his time. Then he said, “I’ll have a hard-boiled egg … and a soft-boiled clitoris.” His entourage burst out laughing. I left, speechless. Then I went to the bathroom and cried.

The first several times I told this story, I left out the soft-boiled clitoris. When I finally started including it, my voice sometimes broke. But it got easier. When I spoke to a reporter recently and she told me she would have to track down people from the set to verify my account, I felt queasy. What would they say? I could only imagine them shaking their heads: “She didn’t seem too bothered by it then. She sure laughed a lot.”

Here’s the thing: this basically happened to me, the bolded part, only it was more personal to a comment about my body. I’m being intentionally vague, because I have to be. There were disciplinary actions.

What might be most surprising is, the disciplinary action wasn’t brought about because of anything I said or did. Just like her, I laughed. Unlike her, I wasn’t 17, I was a “grown woman,” and I was drinking among others. I remember feeling like “It was my fault too, we were drinking and I was being ‘friendly,’… he just had too much and said something inappropriate. Nothing that one of my male friends couldn’t have said in a bar setting!”

When I found out about the disciplinary action, I panicked. I felt guilty. After the incident, I was OK — I wasn’t even mad! I didn’t complain, I thought frantically. I’m OK, I’m fine.

But it wasn’t OK. And other witnesses decided that for me, and that was that. These witnesses were all men, by the way, and they should be applauded.

Perhaps most importantly, in part thanks to this #metoo movement, I see now that even if the incident didn’t have a strong impact on me, it easily could have had a terrible impact on others had this behavior been allowed to continue, unchecked.

Sometimes it’s not just about one of us; it’s about all of us.

I think my story is, sadly, very rare. I had other people stand up for me when I didn’t stand up for myself.

As I said, I didn’t feel particularly victimized when it all first went down. I think this is in part due to a sad fact that rings true for too many of us: I’m used to it.

I’m used to guys freely making comments about my body, whether I like it or not. In high school my mom had a nickname: thunder thighs. Mine? Tankass. I’m not sure how many people actually called me that, but if one or two did, isn’t that enough?

In study hall sophomore year, a bunch of boys were snickering at the table next to me, when one of them said, “Hey girl, you’ve got some nice DSLs.”

If you don’t know what that means (I didn’t at the time), just look it up.

A guy on the football team I barely knew once told me he enjoyed watching me run around the track during practice (ugh, cross country interval day, amirite?!).

“You’ve got nice, thick legs,” he said.

Whatever that means.

I don’t really have ill feelings about those comments either, at least not anymore. Some of them I took as weird compliments of sorts. Others, (thick legs, what?) were just puzzling. This post isn’t about calling people out… but maybe I should be asking questions like: Is it right? Is it OK?

And what does it do to our psyche? Where does our focus on ourselves go, based on the feedback we’re getting?

No matter my personal thoughts or actions, the time for silence, fear and complacency appears to be facing a shakedown.

It’s about time.