Conundrum

It starts with waking up to read my work email in the morning. I don’t look forward to it. There is something about it now that makes me wonder how valuable a lot of what I do really is. I don’t think it was always this way. And I don’t think it has to do with my having less enthusiasm for work email. It’s the email that’s changed. Economy, people worrying about their jobs, tracking everything, measuring and justifying one’s existence, busy work. I don’t know. I just know the quality and quantity of it is painful at times. A distraction from work that matters.

My life will be coming to an end in an unknown amount of minutes, hours, days, weeks, years. If I could find out exactly what day I will die, it would allow me to allocate my resources. 3 months, 6 months? Hmm, perhaps I’m done wasting my time with pointless work. Hello, Las Vegas. Hello, speeding tickets. 5 years to 10 years left? Well then, work is good. Keep on trucking. Benefits, a paycheck – all good. No reason to risk anything.

I’m lucky to have a wife and daughter, two dogs, a job, a house, a car, health insurance. Knock on wood. Life’s checklist is good. I’m lucky. Good too. But what do I do with the rest of my time? It feels like I should be doing more and that I know better than to waste time and worry about trivial stuff. It could all end tomorrow. But one has to survive. Artists and musicians glamorize this situation, as if I should be driving a VW van while lip-syncing to Katy Perry’s “Firework.” I suck at making the most of life. I must have slept through that class in school.

Ah, Ms. Perry, What was Russell thinking?
Photo by Eva Rinaldi – Creative Commons

My garage is full of crap. It’s a warehouse for items I may need once in the next 5 years. It feels like a ball and chain. Stuff weighs a lot. I don’t have the courage to throw it all away. Who knows when I’ll need that spare insulation or scrap of plywood.

I surf the Internet too much. It’s a distraction, has ruined my concentration, and keeps me from doing anything that takes effort, such as writing a blog post. It is escape. I’ve mastered it.

I dislike Yahoo! and its headline stories about nothing. Yahoo! – it’s your brain on cotton candy. “Levi Johnson Poses with Baby Daughter.” At what point is that story worthy of a major headline? Have you ever noticed how many stories are about celebrities’ new hair styles?

Yapoo!

I’m tired of Apple mania. I dig the new Samsung Galaxy commercial poking fun at waiting in line for an iPhone. It’s pitch perfect. I own Apple everything, but now I’m wondering if I joined a cult and they’ll be asking me to drink iKool-Aid soon.

I fear failure, but have nothing to lose, or everything. I’m not sure.

I have ideas. Always have. But I was born without the gene to make shit happen.

This is my conundrum.

We are not granite people

Zion, Aurora Borealis, Orion, Cosmos, Golden Sun, Copper Canyon, Golden Crystal, Espírito Santo, Purple Dunes, Emerald Green, Kashmir Cream, and Lapidus.

This was one of the most interesting granites we found. But even we don’t have the courage to go with a style choice like this. Fear of looking outdated overruled this choice and the fact we’re going with browns, oranges, yellows, etc. But still, this is one cool-looking slab of rock.

We spent Saturday walking granite yards.

It was dirty work and in areas of Los Angeles my daughter has never seen before. Areas with large power-line transformer towers, graffiti, murals on the sides of buildings, railroad tracks, and apartment buildings with cool-sounding names leftover from the 1950s and 60s.

I tossed  in a teaching moment and reminded her how good we have it compared to others. But it was a really a reminder for me, as I’ve been feeling envy of others in Los Angeles lately – the million-dollar home owners and those who can afford exotic granites with names like some of the ones I started this post with.

I should have no complaints about what we have and our good fortune. Driving through LA yesterday reminded me of this. We are lucky to have what we have, despite life  in Los Angeles and advertising constantly screaming that we don’t.

Another thing I realized yesterday is that I don’t like granite. Or, more accurately, I don’t like granite in kitchens.

Looking at large slabs of it is like looking at nature’s artwork. Beautiful, complex, deep – I love a 6 x 10 feet piece of rock. And if we had a kitchen island the size of a slab, we’d have granite. But we don’t even have a kitchen island. And granite when it’s cut into pieces looks busy to me, which makes me an oddball here in LA where granite countertops are ubiquitous.

If you listen to our real estate agent, everyone wants granite and that’s the only thing to put in for the best resale values. But we’re not going to because both my wife and I came to the same conclusion yesterday: we’re not granite people.

We don’t live in a house fancy enough for granite countertops. It’s not us. And we want a clean white kitchen, which is going against the grain of stained cabinets. Busy granite needs a mellow or white subway tile backsplash. We’re more backsplash people. And we want one that looks mind-blowing and is as colorful as an Andy Warhol painting or English garden in spring.

We want something fun. Not something serious and maybe a bit too proper or adult.

This slab is more in line with the colors we’re thinking. Goldfinger (completely random reference to James Bond who probably wouldn’t give a sh** about granite countertops, as he lived he life on the road away from home and ate in restaurants all the time.)

So, we going with quartz,  the number one choice of Consumer Reports for countertops. A nice neutral shade and solid color. And it will be nice and smooth like granite, which we don’t have right now with a crumbling-grout tile countertop.

If I had any courage at all, the quartz countertop would be colorful – orange or red. Or we’d paint our cabinets a color. But that’s not going to happen. We’re still adult enough to realize we will have to sell the house one day, which could be tomorrow knowing how much I want to move every time I deal with some of our neighbors and their demons.  We need to create a kitchen that appeals to a wider range of buyers. Or so conventional wisdom goes.

So, white it is with quartz countertops and an eye-catching backsplash. And though I’m not enjoying the remodeling process this time, I’m doing my best not to sweat it because I know how lucky we are and how many others are not. Kitchens are, after all, just kitchen cabinets and stone. They are not life.

And we want to become adults because?

It would have been nice had someone explained to me when I was young how difficult it is to be an adult. It’s not a cakewalk. Nor is every day a day at the beach. I probably wouldn’t have listened, or cared, but it still would have been nice. All those milestones we dream of as children, 16, 18, and 21, blow by. Then we become adults and can do anything we want, including wishing we were 16 again, but smarter.

Okay, moaning over. It’s just one of those days. Let me explain.

So many questions, so little time. © kbuntu – Fotolia.com

I spent two days writing a post about what happened over Memorial Day weekend with a neighbor. I would love to publish it, but I don’t know if I can make it plain enough to avoid all legal scrutiny and not get in hot water. In a nutshell, a neighbor who has caused the neighborhood and my family great stress went to jail this weekend. I and another neighbor followed the instructions of the police the last time they were here: call if she shows up again. We just wanted her out of the neighborhood. The going to jail part was a surprise and not intended. Now I know why some people don’t get involved. It’s easier and requires less effort and stress.

And if you do get involved, it’s easy to muck it up and experience more stress (I know this firsthand).

I’ve been on the phone with a lawyer about my options to sue since then, and I’ve spoken to a police officer about everything happening in the neighborhood for the past year. My wife and I have had stressful conversations about the situation. Unfortunately, there’s no manual on how to protect your family from people with drug habits.

But there should be.

I went to clinic today and my PFTs haven’t gone back to baseline. Not looking good. So, maybe it’s time for IVs to see if we can nudge them back.

When the nurse was reviewing my records, the conversation went like this: Have you made an appointment with the sinus doctor? No. Have you scheduled a sleep study? No. Have you scheduled a bone scan? No. An oral glucose test? No. And so on.

Working 50 hours a week makes it difficult to spend my weeks enduring medical tests.

A new doctor untrained in the mysteries of CF walked in and surprised me. I’m picky about my doctors and my time. I knew in the initial 30 seconds based on the way she entered, spoke, her mannerisms, and plopping herself on the first chair she could find that I had nothing to say to her. And I told her that, then asked for the regular doc. Nothing personal, I said, as she left. One of the regular doctors I like entered the room and it rained happiness and Skittles. I only had to use a third of the words and effort with her compared to the doctor I booted.

A similar situation happened with a temporary member of the staff. I answered her questions as quickly as I could and got her out of the room as fast as possible. But the visit wore me out, as the longer I’m there, the more the work feels like it’s piling up.

So, all of this and more have added up to remind me why some must turn to drugs in life. The future overwhelms. How much of what we worry about will or won’t happen? I wish I knew.

Remembering the mistakes, forgetting the successes, and the evolution of one’s character

I can remember every failure or mistake I’ve ever made. I could write out a list right now. Give me some ink, a quill, and a monk’s desk, and I could create a scroll that when opened would roll out for miles and miles.

I often wonder if other people face this or have this negative habit.

Say hello to my little friend, Jingles. He’s a genius. © Amy Walters – Fotolia.com

Every day I’m reminded of a few choice errors. It’s hard to predict which ones, but some bad memory comes flooding back. And I beat myself up about it.

The ones that hurt the most are the ones that hurt our family and have kept us from having more in life. But there are relationship mistakes I’ve made too, and those smart sometimes. And then there are the mistakes that have damaged my health. Ouch, thinking about a few now.

This is like shaking a warm can of Coke and popping the top.

I don’t remember very many of the successes. It’s either because there haven’t been very many or I don’t feel deserving of them? I have no idea, but the ratio is skewed in favor of remembering the idiotic and stupid things I’ve done – most too embarrassing to mention.

I try not to think of my first 25 years at all. They’re a collage of mistakes and bad choices and feeling like the village idiot. I’m lucky I didn’t end up in jail or an urn.

I’ve never claimed to be bright. And if anything, I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten smarter over the years as much as I would say I’m just not as dumb as I once was. So, I guess it comes down to degrees of stupidity. I’m less stupid than I was. Barely.

If there is a bright spot, I feel like I’ve improved as a human being over the years. It just took me a long time to get to this point. And I did have to figure out a lot of it on my own and the evolution took a little bit longer than it does for most people. Not that I have everything figured out now. I don’t.

I tell my daughter that the worse part of lying or doing bad things is not always the action itself, it’s the memories of what you did. They last a lifetime and haunt like ghosts.

I’m looking through you, where did you go?

Thanks to the Beatles for the title of this post. I can’t say for sure if I’ll finish writing it, though if you’re reading it now it’s a good sign I did.

You see, I’ve written – or started to write – many posts over the past month, only to let them live out their lives with the scarlet D on them for “draft.” Yes, I’m having trouble getting motivated to write posts and anything else requiring effort in my life. I caught a bad case of “disconnection.” And maybe that’s a fancy way of saying I’ve been a lazy sod.

So, I’ve started a lot of posts. And each of them sounded great in my head before the act of typing away at the keyboard. But my fingers touch the keys and I lose the inertia to continue. A pin pops my motivation balloon and that usually leads to saving the draft and escaping to an episode of Mad Men.

But I’ve run out of episodes, having caught up to the current season. This means I have lost the perfect distraction when posts go south. Though I’m not sure dreaming I’m Don Draper is a healthy thing either when I’m feeling dissatisfied with life, which to some degree I am these days.

Looking forward to living in the sand this summer. © Dmytro Smaglov - Fotolia.com

There is, however, some good news: We escaped to Ventura for a couple of days last week and found a beach house to rent for a month this summer (deposit given). If I had a bucket list, this would be in the top five things to do in my life. The three of us are pretty excited about the thought of beach life for a month and living a couple hundred feet from the sand and ocean. No loading the car up with food, dogs, towels, and a cooler, then driving 35 minutes. Nope. This summer will be opening a door with two dogs on leashes in tow and arriving at the beach in less than a minute. Yes, this may define “heaven” for me.

And I must say that having things to look forward to makes a big difference in my life. And our upcoming time at the beach is just enough to help me wade through the muck of mundane days, doctor appointments, and the uncertainty of life. I think of the beach air and my life feels a little bit better and easier to manage.

[p.s. I owe my friends who’ve left comments a huge apology for not replying. I’ve been consuming more than creating for the past month. Thank you for leaving them. I have read all of them, and appreciate your words and thoughts.]

The sadness of gravity

Returning from space can be difficult.

Home, sweet home

I’ve been back for over 10 days and I’m still not acclimated to life on Earth.

Everything was so calm and cozy in that spaceship – Earth outside, round and blue. Just my fellow astronauts to bother me, but few challenges of every day life and dealing with people to stress about. Nope, just the hum of the space shuttle and the child-like joy of existing in a zero-gravity environment.

Everything I needed to sustain my life was in that confined, artificial space. My lungs felt good with reduced inflammation. My meals were brought to me. My treatments delivered and medicine piped into me. Oh, the quality of service in space.

And then I came back to Earth.

And its gravity. And its heaviness.

Its noises and traffic and people. Its smells, odors and sharp edges.

Its speed. Its weight.

I’ve been discombobulated since my return. I don’t feel in rhythm with my environment. People speak but their lips don’t sync to the sound. Damn Bluetooth lag.

Other than work, I’ve been less than productive. No blog posts. Little reading. And I’ve spent a good deal of time playing Forza 4 on Xbox each night. I’m practicing to beat @Onlyz after suffering numerous losses to him this weekend. Damn British drivers.

I have a bad case of the blahs and I need answers.

What’s the meaning of life, Siri?

Siri?

Are you there, Siri?

Is Steve Jobs really God, Siri?

Do the pearly gates have Apple logos on them? 

Siri, do you know what’s it like to be weightless? To float in space? To be confined for weeks at a time? 

Siri, honey?

Who am I, Siri? What’s my purpose? How should I spend my last days on Earth?

Siri? 

Oh, you’re just the beta version. Good, something to look forward to. 

Christmas doesn’t go as planned (or failing at parenting in the golden age of consumerism)

Years ago, when our daughter first “got” Christmas, Santa, and receiving presents just for being her – I think she was 3, almost 4 – she ran to the tree like a mad wind-up toy, her little legs pumping to get to “the goods.” If it had been a cartoon, a trail of dust would have followed her, along with a scorched wood floor revealing her path to the tree.

What an amazing Christmas it was as she played with her dolls and modeled a Snow White dress in the mirror, admiring her perfectness. As a parent, it was the winningest Christmas of all and the one we dreamed of, complete with big smiles and happiness in abundance.

That Christmas was not this Christmas.

Our daughter, now nine, had her list for Santa: Let’s Dance 3 for Xbox, a Fushigi glow ball (not sure where this request came from), and a soccer ball trainer.

And she had her “parent list”: Disneyland Xbox game and a piano keyboard.

Pretty simple requests, especially compared to the ones she created when younger. We talked to her about asking for fewer gifts. And to her credit, she listened. No long lists this year.

We also discussed the desire for “stuff” and consumerism with her. We watched “Story of Stuff” together. But as you’re about to read, we failed in our mission to teach her not want stuff too deeply. Or the forces of consumerism overwhelmed her. Or both.

Looking at her list, we crossed out one item, the piano keyboard. She’s taking guitar and voice lessons and doesn’t like to practice. How much would she use a keyboard? We figured it would collect dust after a couple of weeks of play.

It had to be pink.

We changed her request to a new bicycle, which she needs since she looks like a circus performer on her small bike with her knees sticking out on its undersized frame.

I spent a few hours shopping at local stores and looking online and found a pink and silver bike for her at a neighborhood bike store, not a chain store, which made me happy. I added a kickstand and silver water bottle holder to match the silver trim.

After she opened her presents, I told her we had one more gift for her and went to the garage to get the bike. She said to my wife, “Is he going to get my keyboard?”

Wow, she really wanted a keyboard, I thought.

When I was a kid, I loved having a bike. I remember all of them. And it was a big deal getting a new bike. So, I expected she would love it and gush with mad excitement.

But what is life if not the crusher of hope and expectations?

I wheeled the bike into the living room. Nothing. No response. Disappointment showed on her face. I wasn’t holding a keyboard in my hands.

I didn’t hear, “oh, Daddy, what a cool bike!” Or, “oh, my gosh, that’s the best present ever.”

I received the same reaction as if I had wheeled a giant load of coal into the room.

Our kids grow up, so do their bikes. The small bike is Cotton Candy and it served us well. I remember my daughter falling off it at the park where she learned to ride. We figured the grass would soften the fall. And it did.

Then came stunned responses from me: You don’t like it? I thought you’d love this. You need a new bike. Look it’s pink. 21 speeds. I don’t know if it can be returned or not.

My wife was stunned too as my daughter clung to her. Then, as I was speaking, trying to get my bearings in the situation, my daughter made a remark that made me feel like a servant when she said something like: “Why is he speaking right now?”

At this point, my friends, you should know to never visit this site for parental advice. Or you can visit it to learn what not to do as a parent. For in that moment, I felt like a failure. Not for choosing the wrong gift so much as for hearing such a queen-like remark from my daughter.

Was this my daughter speaking in that tone? That’s what hurt most – we had spent nine years raising her not to act like this.

When my wife told her how upset she was by the remark, tears followed and she ran to her room. We sat there stunned, our Christmas happiness taking a 180-degree turn to something unexpected.

When the three of us came back together, my wife and I chose not to pounce on my daughter, which at times wasn’t easy. We told her why we weren’t happy with her attitude and reaction to the bike, and used the situation as a learning experience to discuss the pressure she, as a nine-year-old, is under to “want stuff” and base her happiness on “getting stuff” like a keyboard.

We discussed basic manners when receiving a gift, but focused on personal happiness and how companies want us to connect our happiness with products and the newest versions of products. And to her credit she seemed to get it and respond with understanding comments, questions, and apologies.

Soon, her extreme desire for the keyboard faded and she realized how cool the bike was. As winners of the Christmas weather lottery and a 74-degree day in Los Angeles, all of us went for a test ride.

And while riding her first bike with hand brakes for skidding, gears for climbing hills and going faster than she had ever ridden before, she smiled like she did years ago when she rode her first pink bike with training wheels. Christmas joy returned to her face and ours. She looked so happy and proud and joyful in a way I think most parents know only a child can muster. It’s happiness in its purest form, unstrained and untainted by complex thought and hidden motives.

If I think of my memories of childhood, a lot of them include a bike. Now I wonder if my daughter will remember this Christmas and the bike years from now. It’s the most important Christmas for her to date and about more than the bike. It’s about her future happiness. It’s also a warning to us as parents that our child is under constant pressure to consume, to own stuff and shop.

My wife and I have quite the challenge ahead of us. We lost this battle, but we don’t plan on losing the war. “Owning stuff” will be a conversation in our house for a very long time. Just as this Christmas will be a memory in my mind for a long time. Because despite its sharp right turn to the unexpected, it was still one of the best – they’re all good when they could be your last – and I will never forget it.

Memorable Christmases are the best Christmases, even when they don’t go as planned.

Happy Holidays.

The Lost Week

I’m not sure what happened to last week. I lost it. I know I lived it. It existed. It took place. But it was a wisp – gossamer – ethereal.

Even my calendar forgot about last week

I wasn’t drunk and partying with Harry Nilsson in Los Angeles like John Lennon once did. No, I was at home on vacation and the week disappeared as if a magician borrowed my watch and didn’t return it.

What time is it? What day? Where am I?

I had plans for the seven days – a big to-do list – but have nothing much to show for the time.

I bought my daughter a new bike for Christmas, which didn’t take long. I ordered my wife some presents. Just some clicks at Zappos and L.L. Bean. Not very time-consuming and she’ll probably send everything back anyway. I worked a little bit each day, as mentioned in my previous post. But not that much.

Other actions completed: My daughter’s Christmas show at school one night (one song and we sat far away). Bought a new electric guitar and played Rocksmith a couple of times. Installed a wall mount for a TV. Watched a couple of movies. Switched alarm companies. Spent an afternoon on refinancing paperwork so I can build a compound wall high and strong enough to keep vermin out and our dogs in.

With the exception of Skyping with my friend @seanset of Englandshire, I have nothing valuable to show for my time. I didn’t read or write a book. I didn’t write five or six blog posts. I created very little.

I managed the mundane.

Some scientific minds theorize Time feels like it moves more slowly when we’re young because we constantly experience new situations and thus make boatloads of new memories. When we’re older, we don’t make as many and time feels like it moves faster.

I’m not sure if they’re correct, or if I’ve accurately described the therory in two sentences, but it will make do for my purposes because I believe I lived a week without memories. A week without anything worth remembering beyond tasks on a to-do list. A week without surprise.

I’m hoping to change that this week and slow down time by creating new memories. I need to explore new places, plan the days, and make the most of the two weeks I have left in my vacation. I don’t want to repeat this post on January 3rd. I want the first post of 2012 to be titled, “Two weeks I’ll never forget.”

I experience a perfect day

Saturday night, at 1:30 in the morning, as I wedged myself onto the dog couch with a yellow lab at my feet and a black lab on an adjoining ottoman, I realized I had experienced a perfect day.

Yes, with who knows how many days left to go in my life, I did it.

Jackpot. Hole in one. Full-court basket. An elusive occurrence indeed.

It started Saturday with the first day of my three-week vacation from work (future blog post). I woke up with relief that I didn’t have to think about email and projects for Monday. And what a difference that makes in enjoying a weekend.

Great game and the Xbox equivalent of Wii's Mario and Luigi.

I took the dogs on a long walk in 70-degree weather. Other than making the mistake of wearing my flannel-lined pants and having to strip off a couple of t-shirts during the walk, it was April in December, with the sun’s low angle the only difference. And maybe the brown lawns. An no flowers. Nevermind.

I returned and played “Rayman Origins” with my daughter on our new Xbox. The 9-year-old monkey is testing me on video games now. I’m the king of video games but she’s playing with a faster network of nerve impulses from her brain to her hands than I am and it’s everything I can do to keep up with her.

Later that afternoon, we did a parent doubleheader when our daughter played guitar at a recital, followed by a soccer game.

She strummed Silent Night and some other Christmas song I can’t remember because I was doing my best to keep tears from spraying from my eyes like a broken fire hydrant. Something about the experience knocked up my emotional cortex, and watching her up there, dressed up and concentrating, made me feel so lucky to experience the moment it was hard to maintain my composure.

At the end of last year’s soccer season when my daughter’s opinion of her effort didn’t match reality or our opinion, my wife and I had what was one of the hardest conversations we’ve ever had with her. We’re not of the school that we tell our child she’s great at everything-but we’re not about destroying her self-esteem either. However, we gently told her we didn’t think she gave the season very much effort.

And boy did she grumble. And she may have cried a bit. But to her credit, she came back this season and played with more effort and skill than ever before. And it culminated in the last game of the season where she played a great game. She’s not the best player on the team, but it’s about being engaged and trying hard. And she did that. So, we celebrated by going out to dinner and letting her pick the location.

I am a sherbet freak. This is one of my all-time favorite flavors

At the Argentinian restaurant she chose – she likes steak – I stole some of her rib eye and ordered a black and white lobster ravioli in a pink sauce that was mind-blowingly good. I followed it up with a dessert at home of Tropical Rainbow sherbet and Oreos. Perfect finish, a foodie touchdown.

After more Rayman where my daughter and I ran circles around my wife, who spent her youth studying and listening to Tom Petty and Bee Gee records and not hanging around 7-11 stores playing video games, we put our little superstar to bed and watched Friends with Benefits. It was the perfect “I don’t have to think hard to watch this movie” movie, and got me out of the doghouse for choosing Melancholia a few weeks ago.

Then came SNL with Katy Perry hosting and more laughs. And at 1:30, when I went to bed, I realized I had achieved an elusive goal – make each day great.

Saturday, December 10. Check.

Lucky rock

An ocean rock attacked me this summer. I wrote about it here.

This is the police line-up of beach rocks. Which one hit me? Creative Commons: Gastonmag.

Quick recap: I was standing in a foot of Malibu surf searching for rocks and shells with my daughter when the water churned a stone into my ankle. I developed a large painful lump and thought, “what bad luck getting hit by a rock while enjoying a day at the beach.”

I went to the doctor and had my ankle x-rayed. Hematoma was the diagnosis. Good news: Nothing serious. Bad news: plaque in the arteries. “Go see your heart doctor right away,” the ankle doctor said.

And I did, leaving a copy of the x-rays with him for an expert to examine. And I was given orders for several blood tests, which I didn’t get because my teeth were being pulled out or cracking and I was busy paying for my dentist’s new fishing boat.

Now we’re back to the present, almost.

The day before Thanksgiving my heart doctor called and confirmed atherosclerosis showed up in the x-ray. I wasn’t happy about the timing of the call before a four-day weekend. However, I didn’t let it get to me. I didn’t think of it once until today when I went to complete the blood tests, and tonight writing this post.

Instead, I spent the holiday weekend looking for ways to have fun each day and not worry.

A new Xbox is in a UPS truck with my name on it right now because 1) I’ve always wanted one, 2) it will be fun for the holidays, and 3) I’m not sure I can play any more Mario and Sonic at the Olympics games.

More rocks to be identified. Creative Commons: Henkster

Again, the keyword here is “fun,” as in, “it’s better to seek fun out than wait for it to find you.”

And the rock I thought was bad luck? It’s now my lucky rock sent by the universe to let me know about a problem that might have gone undetected until the day I yelled at my Denver Broncos to crush the Minnesota Vikings, felt a pain in my chest, and face-planted into the wasabi cucumber dip. End of my story.

So, let’s toast to the writing of a new ending, the endless pursuit of fun, and a lucky rock.