Death & Marriage

A few days ago, I learned of the death of my boyfriend’s stepfather. He really never referred to the man as his “stepfather”, but his mom’s husband or simply by his first name. It’s fairly obvious to me that they were never close and maybe were never going to be.

Anyway, the news was particularly shocking because it was sudden and unexpected. Apparently it happened while they were out of the country on vacation late last week. I remember chatting with his mom just last month about how excited she was for the upcoming island getaway. From the sound of things, it seemed like his heart just gave out (he was an older gentleman).

While dying of a heart attack is unfortunate, the news hit me like a ton of bricks as I immediately thought about his mom and what she might be going through right now. I feel absolutely terrible for her. Losing your spouse is devastating, especially during a vacation, which is supposed to be happy and relaxing.

I spent much of the other day in a funk as I thought about how much she must be hurting right now and how she probably feels really lost and so overcome with emotion that she’s unable to process everything going on around her. Not only does she have to make funeral arrangements, but she also has to make arrangements to have her husband transported back home. I would be inconsolable.

I never spent much time with her late husband (I’ve seen him maybe 3 times total), but he seemed like a nice guy and I could tell that he made my boyfriend’s mom extremely happy. It seemed like they were a were so in love and lived a very fulfilling life together (even if it wasn’t a long one). To my understanding, they just got married at the end of last year and dated a few years prior to that.

My heart is broken for his mom. To make matters worse, I believe her birthday is later on this week and then come “the holidays”. Those tend to be the roughest times of the year for those who are grieving. I want to give her all of the love in the world, but I’m not quite sure how to without overstepping.

Aside from being alerted of the news via text (I believe his mom may have contacted him from a place with limited reception), The Teacher hasn’t spoken directly to his mother, but I’m sure they’ll be in touch soon once she arrives home.

This entire situation also put a lot things into perspective for me regarding my relationship with the Teacher. He’s never been one (or at least since I’ve known him) to take his health 100% seriously. He’s the kind of guy that rarely goes to the doctor (even if he’s really sick). I believe the last time he’s been to an actual doctor was when he broke his leg several years ago while in the military and hasn’t even regularly been back for follow-ups despite having to have actual metal placed in his leg. I often kind of laugh off his refusals to go, but now more than ever, I need him to go. We’re both in our 30s now and if we’re talking about marriage, I’d like to have as long and healthy of a marriage as I can.

I’ve never been one to like going to the doctor, but as I get older, I like to be more proactive about my health. A lot of things can be managed or even prevented by simply going to the doctor. Hopefully in time, I can convenience the Teacher to take his health seriously enough to go as well.

Life Has Been Grand

I can’t believe it’s been six months since I last blogged! I guess life just got away from me these past few months and I didn’t make it a point to slow down and update it.

surprise

For the most part, life has been good. There have been several changes and additions to my life that I feel very comfortable with.

Home Sweet Home

Living with The Teacher, has been amazing so far and we’ve managed to compromise and create routines to keep us both happy and engaged in the experience of sharing a home. For example, we make it a point to have dinner together every night unless one of us is out of town. Regardless of how busy or tired we are, we always sit down over dinner to spend time together. We also make a point to have at least one formal date night (in the sense that we’re specifically going out or staying in with the purpose of spending dedicated and uninterrupted time together)

We have also done well with tending to our “alone time” for hobbies and decompression. With The Teacher, his “alone time” is usually spent playing video/computer games, reading and grading, while mine has been binge watching shows that I know he has no interest in, taking walks and on very rare occasions, writing.

We’ve definitely grown a lot as a couple over the past six months and I look forward to growth continuing.

New Ride

After months…well, YEARS of living in fear of being stranded during my long-ish commutes, I finally bought a new (to me) suv It’s a Candy Apple Red 2017 RAV4 SE with black leather seats and a sunroof. It’s been a pretty fun suv so far and I’ve wanted one for a few years now. I purchased the RAV4 on somewhat of an impulse on a random Monday I took off from work for rest and relaxation. I had been casually researching suvs online and came across the RAV4 in my search. It was reasonably priced and had all the features I was looking for, so I drove 45 minutes out of town to test drive it and ended up buying it. I initially told no one that I bought it until I pulled into the driveway to surprise The Teacher with the news later that afternoon. He was quite surprised, especially since he had been nagging me to buy a new car over the past year.

Mental/Sexual Health

I’ve had some ups and downs over the last few months mental health wise, but I’ve started to pay more attention to my triggers and have found healthier ways to distress (like reading, writing, walking, resting). For instance, I’ve made it a point to take at least 2-3 days off per calendar month and so far, I’ve done well with that promise to myself, which has given me some much needed mental breaks from the chaos that is my job. I try to make it a point to have at least one of the 2-3 days spent doing very little planned activities. I’ve primarily tried to make it a point to stay at home and relax when I can.

My sexual health has been a tad bit better lately as I think my hormones night be trying to settle down (fingers crossed). I still find myself spotting more than I’d like (which is annoying), having the occasional and unexplained mood swings, cramps and occasional breakouts, but I’ve learned to live with them and have adjusted some of my self care routines to address some of the side effects. The peace of mind knowing that the probability of an unplanned pregnancy is highly unlikely, seems to set me straight whenever I get discouraged by the side effects (especially because we weren’t being careful early on). I will say that it worries me a bit that when it comes time to remove the implant (in a little over two years), will I struggle to conceive (should I want to), because I’ll have hit the age of being considered a “geriatric pregnancy” and complications will ensue.

Bonding and Family Acceptance

Over the past six months, I’ve been able to spend more time with getting to know the Teacher’s family. I’ve grown to really like them and from what I can tell, they seem to enjoy my company as well, which is a relief. About a year ago, I was nervously on my way to meet his father for the first time and now we’re on a first name basis. About two weeks ago, we spent the weekend with his mom and I really got to spend a lot of one on one time with her, which was lovely.

The Teacher has also spent more time with my parents and even came with me to a mini family reunion on my mom’s side of the family around The 4th of July. My family was very welcoming to him and he seemed to genuinely have a great time. I know meeting someone’s extended family can be particularly scary, because you really have no way of knowing (or controlling) how they’ll feel about you.

The Future

Lately, we’ve been invited to or involved with numerous milestones from friends. Weddings, Bachelor/Bachelorette Showers, Baby Showers, Engagement Parties, etc. For each milestone, it sort of makes me wonder what reaching those milestones might be like or if it’s too soon for me to even consider thinking about them. There was a time where I couldn’t realistically envision any of those things happening to me, but now they seem somewhat attainable.

Recently, The Teacher has shown a heightened interest in a ring that I wear infrequently on my right ring finger. The ring is silver and a bit on the plain side. Each time I wear it, he’ll comment on it, remove it from my hand and examine it closely. Sometimes he’ll playfully toss it around, which has made me warn him not to lose it. His response, “Well, I’ll buy you (another) one”. Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but he rarely shows interest in the other jewelry I wear–even pieces that he’s given me. This also isn’t the first time I’ve worn rings, I’ve worn them here and there since we’ve been together.

Update : My speculations were true! Last night, The Teacher told me that he plans to give me “another kind of ring” around our anniversary (in four months). His reasoning? He says the two year mark seems like the perfect time. He also said he wasn’t really going to keep his plans a surprise much longer because he needs my help on selecting the right ring 💍 .

Welp, hopefully I do a little better about blogging and less time stuck in la-la land.

 

The Transparent Sweet Home

I’ve been fairly neglectful in writing lately. Part of it has been due to being legitimately busy and the other part is just due to my inability to organize my thoughts enough to get them on the page. Whenever I’m frantic or anxious, this becomes the most difficult task.

The last couple of weeks (months?) have been wonderful. I turned 33 (last month) and despite The teacher being out-of-town on business, I managed to bring it in with a bang with my crew.

fake happy

My birthday seems to always be an excuse to completely let loose. While I really missed the teacher on my big day (he had flowers delivered to my job on the day of, I guess as a way to ‘make it up to me’), I would be lying if I didn’t say it was somewhat freeing to be out with my friends without having to worry about how late it was getting, how crowded wherever we ventured off to was, etc. I love The teacher with all of my heart and soul (I really do), but he occasionally gets anxious around larger groups of my friends, even though he’s met them all several times and they all openly love him too. I can understand his anxiety, as I often don’t like to surround myself with large groups of people I either know through someone or people who I don’t know very well to begin with, but at times trying to find the balance in catering to his needs, my own needs and my friend’s needs can be tricky. I’ve tried to be respectful of this whenever we do go out, but at times, I feel like I have to “clock watch” (which he usually assures me that I don’t even though I know very deep down he’s freaking out and is trying to be nice, which I appreciate, but he doesn’t have to do). I then feel bad for my friends, because I haven’t been as “present” with things these past few weeks and I’ve always said I wasn’t going to be that person. More on this later though…

waiting

One of the things occupying the majority of my attention and energy has been house hunting (renting). Several months ago, the teacher and I decided that we were at that point of our relationship where we were ready to move in together. Of course, neither one of us was over the moon with our current dwellings, so we figured we’d even the playing field and find a new place together.

I’ll admit, when we had that initial conversation over a romantic dinner, I wasn’t quite sure how this was going to go…Not the actual living together piece, but getting to the point of actually finding a place in our time frame (which has shifted up to an earlier date since the initial conversation). The real estate market here is brutal, even for rentals. Here today, gone tomorrow. Sometimes in even hours! It doesn’t leave much room for lingering around on a decision and the Teacher and I both have a bad habit of over thinking and being indecisive.

For starters, we never really had a transparent and open decision about our specific needs or preferences in a house. We both have this really bad habit of people pleasing and compromising in order to not be “selfish”, but what this mentality does when it comes to something as serious as the roof over your head it starts to make you feel like you’re settling for something you may or may be happy with in the long-term and it builds up resentment that will eventually come out in perhaps not the most appropriate or tactful way. Don’t get me wrong, we spoke about basic preferences (price, number of beds/baths, yard space, one-mult story, etc), but we never emphasized more meaningful needs such a work commutes, proximity to POIs, room size (as in, what we planned do with any additional rooms that were not our bedroom) and so on. We ended having an open discussion about it one night and we’ve worked better as a team ever since.

Another thing we kind of messed up on was not legitimately starting the search until maybe the middle of last month and even then the Teacher was somewhat hesitant because he felt like we were “looking too early” for a late April/early May move in (which I get), but the more we looked, the more we noticed how quickly things were going and this became frustrating.  We were also “off task” fairly frequently. A few weeks ago, we planned to sit down TOGETHER to look up homes online and after an hour of semi-serious looking, we decided that we were more interested in each other than researching homes. We obviously didn’t decide on any homes that evening.

shhhhhhh

A week or more passed and we continued to search, but separately by sharing home postings through various home shopping apps/websites. What about this one, how about that one? We probably exchanged over ten emails to one another everyday just on houses. I also tried to make more of an effort to reassure him that it was perfectly ok if he didn’t like a house and that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we skipped over it.

And then there were all of the back and forth emails with the owners/management companies with follow-up questions they failed to disclose in their listings and the possibility of showing the home during a time that was convenient to BOTH of our schedules.

Another week passed and he took my reassurance a little too literally and started being ridiculously nitpicky (which hey, if you’re going to live somewhere, you should like it, right?), but almost to point of not keeping an open mind and considering our looming deadline. This actually agitated me to the point of addressing it once he asked to cancel a showing of a home we had agreed to tour HOURS before we were due to meet with the owner (I think this was our very first “argument”, even though there was no yelling and we mostly came to an agreement via text message).

we don't talk anymore

It got to a point where I stopped aggressively looking for a few days and allowed him to just send me things that he liked. I turned off all of the house hunting notifications on my phone and unsubscribed from the daily email updates. I wanted him to see how hard and time-consuming house hunting can actually be when you’re putting in actual TIME and ENERGY to do it (Yes, I need to work on not being passive). I think he got the message.

welp

Finally, two weeks ago we had an appointment for a home viewing for a home that we both mostly liked. The teacher wasn’t crazy about the commute (the home was about 7 minutes from my apartment, which meant an additional 10 minute commute for him), but he managed to keep an open mind about it all as we toured. Seeing the place in person and walking around from room to room discussing (hypothetically) how we would use that space was surreal. After the tour, we took the weekend to openly and transparently discuss our options and decided to apply for the home and we GOT IT. WE GOT THE HOUSE.

yasssss gif

To say I’m excited is an understatement. Knowing that we’ve found a place to live with about two weeks to spare in our deadline takes a huge weight off of my shoulders. We took another tour of the house the last week we dropped off our deposit and knowing that this time we were ACTUALLY going to be living there meant so much more.

It’s now crunch time as we start preparations to move! There’s so much to do and the month is already flying. Because the Teacher’s lease ends about two months before mine, he’s going to formally move first (at the end of this month) and I’ll move some things of mine that we’ll both need in the interim (washer and dryer, a mattress my family is giving us, a t.v. for our living room, some kitchen items, etc). I plan to formally move all of my things by the end of May/first week of June, giving me about three weeks to clean up my old place before I turn in my keys.

All in all I’m very excited, but I know we still have a lot to do. I also know we’re both going to have to work on being more transparent and timely in communicating our preferences (when necessary) and compromising on things that don’t always need to go our way (he told me he didn’t like the toilet paper I buy, I told him I didn’t like stepping out of his shower without there being bathmats on the floor–who raised you???).

come at me bro

 

We don’t tend to have this issue very often now, but then again we’ve never lived together either. A lot of our minor stumbles and misunderstandings so far have just come from neither one of us having experience living with a significant other or simply not being all that transparent in preferences. Sure, we’ve both lived with friends, roommates and family, but never with a love interest. This will definitely be an adventure for the both of us.

Prevention, Precautions and Side Effects

Some months back, I had a failed IUD experience that really traumatized me to the point of avoiding contraceptives in general. I shared my concerns with my boyfriend and he was extremely supportive and understanding of my decision.

Of course, several more weeks flew by and some of the hesitation of it stared to fade and we started discussing being more “careful” in general. In speaking to my Gynecologist, she suggested Nexplanon, which is an form of BC implanted in your arm. I admit I probably didn’t do as “deep of a dive” as I probably should have when considering this method. I just knew it was 99% effective. My main concern was the cost, which at the time of my consideration, would have been $350 after insurance .

what me

Yeah, no.

In speaking back to my Gynecologist via email (I actually go a Gynecology clinic that is housed under the umbrella of the hospital I work for and we have an app where you can communicate with your healthcare provider), she informed me that if I waited until 2019 to get the implant, it would be 100% free due to some coverage changes with my plan regarding contraception. Free.99 is always a win in my books!

yasssss gif

In the meantime, I still felt a bit funny about not being as safe as we needed to be, so I spoke to my Gynecologist once more, who suggested going on a combination BC pill until  I had the procedure done.

I’ll admit, going on “the pill” was absolutely the last thing I wanted to do when I started, but mostly because I had heard of all of the unpleasant side effects. I started taking it in late October (it was suggested I take it the first Sunday of my period–I guess for tracking purposes) and concluded my last pack in early January. During my time on the pill I experienced:

  • Extreme mood swings (even outside of “that time of the month”)
  • Frequent headaches and migraines
  • Constant fatigue
  • Increased depression and anxiety (I have already been diagnosed and take medication for it, but i felt worse while on the pill)
  • Frequent Agitation
  • Some weight gain (despite not changing my diet or exercise routine).
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Breakouts (in the beginning)
  • Decreased libido

Some more positive side effects that I experienced were:

  • Regulated periods (my periods have always mostly been constant, but the pill made them a bit shorter and easier to count on a calendar–prior to taking any BC at all , I tracked my periods with the app Flo. I still use the app to this day just to log symptoms I’m feeling and to keep track of the length of symptoms).
  • Lighter cramps during my period
  • Forced me to get up at a decent time every single day since the pill strongly suggests taking it at the same time everyday.

All in all, taking the pill wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, it was just inconvenient as hell and I felt like I was in a constant state of agitation. Like, constant. There’d be the rare occasions where I would take the pill later than intended and a handful of times where I left the pack at my boyfriend’s place (oops).

covering mouth

When the new year finally rolled around, I was excited to be just days away from getting the implant. Goodbye pill, hello convenient stick it in and go BC!

The appointment for the implant was mostly standard. My vitals were taken, my doctor explained some of the risks with the implant and asked me to sign a consent form to proceed with the procedure. Easy! I laid on the examination table, she gave me a numbing shot in my arm (which stung a bit at first), then she asked me to turn my head and a minute later she was finished inserting the implant in my arm. It couldn’t have gone more smoothly.  I excepted there to be some huge complication like I had with the IUD.

Before I left the room, she explained that there may be some swelling, bruising and minor pain in my arm over the next week or so. She suggested I keep the compression band aid wrapped around the incision spot for at least two days and also suggested that I finish the last week of my BC pills. Again, she mentioned possible side effects, but the only two that really stood out were: irregular periods and spotting. Gross. She closed with the reassuring statement of,  not every woman experiences this.

Several hours later the numbness of my arm wore off and I started feeling throbbing pain. It felt uncomfortable to naturally allow my arm to rest or dangle freely, so I propped a pillow under my arm (my left arm) for support. That and some ibuprofen seemed to help. The pain seemed to continue through the weekend, but faded by the start of the following week.

By mid week, the pain had mostly gone away, but my arm was a bit bruised, tender and felt funny if I moved it around too much or too quickly. I had also finished taking my pills mid week and with completing the “pack” brought on what I thought was my period…but this was not my period, oh no. This was “spotting“. This lasted for about a week and grew a bit heavier each day until my actual period started and came in with terrible cramps.

Now, I’ve always experienced painful cramps, but these were different. No amount of OTC pain medicine seemed to eliminate them (and I was taking the max amount each day) and they lasted the duration of my period (as opposed to the first 1-2 days like they normally do). And speaking of my period, it lasted a whopping 11 days. Granted, the flow wasn’t as heavy as normal, but it was consistent enough to be annoying. It was also annoying because I had no indication of when it would end. Once Ms. Flow made her departure, the spotting returned for another week and a half! Omg.

All throughout the messy red wave, I experienced a tension or cluster headache and sometimes a migraine just about daily. I’d wake up with one, it would linger throughout the day, I’d go to bed with one and start the entire cycle all over again. I was fatigue to the point of barely having energy to do simple household chores or even focus on basic tasks at work, and just didn’t feel “well” in general. While my mood was mostly stable during this time, the severe cramping, frequent bleeding, headaches and extreme exhaustion were kicking my ass. After about three weeks of this, I addressed it with my doctor, who basically told me to pop some ibuprofen and “ride it out” for 3 more months because apparently it takes your body time to “adjust”.

concerns

I read up on the experiences of many women who had gotten the implant and I’d say about 85% of them experienced the same symptoms and they did not go away for whatever duration of time past 3 months that they choose to keep the implant “installed”. Some women who kept the implant in for the entire 3 years claimed that none of this ever went away. That was super encouraging news. Greatttt.

My period and any lingering spotting finally went away (at least temporarily) maybe the last day or so of January and has “stayed away” ever since (according to flo, my period is almost over a week late). I’ve read that, that doesn’t mean those symptoms aren’t coming back and they could come back unexpectedly and for longer periods of time. There is literally no way to know when or if they’re coming back. All I can do is stay prepared. I hope I’m one of those lucky few women that either stop having periods or have them with longer time in between.

I’ve only had the implant now for a month and a half. These are the side effects I’ve experienced so far:

  • Frequent headaches and migraines
  • Spotting
  • Longer than usual period
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Elevated blood pressure (which I’ve had to now address with my Primary Care Physician)
  • Minor and infrequent arm tenderness (near the implant site)

One positive outcome from the implant has been the freedom of not having to remember to take a pill every, single day at the same damn time. It’s in and to my knowledge, it’s working as directed–I’m 99% sure I am not pregnant dispute my period being “late” since the algorithm of flo has no way of knowing my body is literally in a tailspin right now and my entire cycle has been thrown off.

As the my doctor suggested, I’ll assess how I feel after the 3 month mark. If the symptoms have “settled” or “stabilized” , I’ll continue on and keep it on a bit longer, otherwise, I may consider having it removed and going back to the drawing board.

(First) Anniversary

This past Sunday was our (first) dating anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since our first nervous and shaky first date. At the time, I wasn’t sure if he was nervous or just shy in general, but since that first date, we’ve had many conversations about it and he was most definitely very nervous. Fast forward to a year later and we’ve had some amazing times together.

We decided to celebrate the dating anniversary, because it was a milestone for both of us, but also just an excuse to do cheesy and romantic things together (though, I don’t think either one of us needs a specific reason).

Sunday morning, we woke up around mid-morning because the teacher had some special event “planned” that was also a “surprise”. He referenced this surprise the other day when he asked if I had any specific phobias outside of snakes and spiders (which he knew) and when I told him I didn’t and asked why he was curious, he just left me with, “It’s a surprise that’s part of our anniversary plans”.

overwelmed

The entire ride to the “surprise” I kept wondering what it could be. The Teacher is not typically a mysterious person or even a “plan in advance” person. He’s always been mostly transparent and “fly by the seat of his pants”.

Anyway, we pulled up to the venue, which happened to be a local arena where many sporting events, concerts, shows, etc take place throughout the year. As we pulled into the line of cars trying to enter into the parking lot, I asked him if we were there for a sporting event (hockey or basketball). He laughed, parked, and walked me towards the entrance of the arena. There were swarms of people, but literally no advertisements of the event until after we got through security and then we saw:

cirque du soleil

No way! I had always wanted to go to a show, but never got around to it! I was definitely pleasantly surprised. The show (as I assumed) was wildly colorful and imaginative. It held my attention the entire time (which now a days seems difficult to do).

Post surprise show, we stopped at our first date spot, which was a local brewery not far from the arena. Like the year before, it was drizzling quite a bit and was a little chilly, but this time we didn’t have to stumble through all of the “get to know you” questions. We laughed as we recalled certain things we talked about, how crowded the brewery the year before and how amazing it was to return as a happy couple.

After a few quick beers, we traveled to another “early on” date spot just down the street. We visited this Mediterranean spot last spring (April, maybe?) after taking a stroll through a beautiful garden right around the corner. Again, it was nice to return to the restaurant and the food was still just as yummy as I remembered.

After dinner, we went back to his place to exchange anniversary gifts (we exchanged lists of gift ideas because he is a list person). As we entered his apartment, I felt a rush of anxiousness and fear. No, not over the gift I was giving him (a fancy watch he could wear when he wears suits), but what I wrote in his anniversary card! In a nutshell, I wrote some sentimental ramble about how much fun we’ve had in getting to know each other and closed it with, “I love you”.

Yes. I wrote in this card, “I love you”. Mind you, we hadn’t verbally said this to one another by this point, so writing that in a card was potentially risky! I’ve basically felt this way for a few months and felt that our 1 year anniversary was appropriate to just let it out. I thought long and hard before writing that message and genuinely felt in my heart that he felt the same way (he had pretty much been talking around it for months and his actions communicated it as well), but perhaps he was just as afraid as I was to say it?

Well, we read our cards at the same time (silently), sitting side by side on his couch. Upon opening his card, I noticed he had actually filled up the entire inside portion of the card with his “letter”. The Teacher almost never writes anything in cards and the past few cards that he’s given to friends or family were cards that I bought and insisted that he sign (he would just sign his first name). I’ve always been a sentimental person and appreciate writing people notes and receiving notes in return. I never took offense to this and assumed he wasn’t a card person (even though my primary “love language” is affirmation)

I read through his note, which mirrored mine about all the fun we’ve had. He also mentioned that our relationship had been his most serious relationship to date, how he enjoys regularly waking up next to me (even though I steal his covers) and last but not least, he closed it with a statement about how he had been holding in something for a while that he finally needed to let out: “I love you”.

charlie puth hearts

No way. We both chose the same way to communicate our love of the other. How crazy is that? I imagine (like me), he was also very nervous to write that, but also relieved when he saw I felt the same way too. There was definitely a collective sigh of relief after reading each other’s cards. It felt like this tremendous weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve had to forcibly refrain from saying it!

The anniversary day went well and was a lot of fun, but my favorite part of the day was reading his card. Knowing that you’re genuinely loved by the person you love is indescribable.

Into The Future

Life has been relatively great lately. I’m finally getting over the plague I dealt with basically the entire month of January. Slowly, but surely.

Work has been (at times) a bit chaotic, but I’m starting to notice the chaos is basically coming from leadership never being proactive and always being REactive to situations. It drives me insane, because I’ve always prided myself on thinking about all possible outcomes as I navigate any situation (especially work related). Reacting to every little thing dramatically sends bad vibes throughout the office. Lately, it’s been triggering my anxiety a bit, but I’ve tried to do a little better in this new year about setting “boundaries”.

I’ve decided that:

  • I refuse to work OT unless it’s absolutely necessary – this does not make me a bad employee, especially if I manage my time well (which I do)
  • I refuse to volunteer for everything
  • I’m taking more of a leadership role on projects and various other opportunities to showcase my skill set
  • Instead of doing someone’s job for them, I’m instructing them on how to execute a task and wishing them well–this is huge for me, because I’ve spent the last few years almost taking on aspects of everyone else’s job
  • I refuse to be “available around the clock”, especially on PTO days. I am allowed to have a life outside of work and I plan to do just that.
  • Speaking of PTO, I am setting myself a goal of taking 2 days off a month, with at least 1 true “vacation” (The Teacher and I are planning a vacation in April for a few days).

Speaking of the Teacher, things are continuing to go well with us. He still continues to be the sweetest and most loving person ever. It’s been hard for me to truly trust people and let my walls down, but he’s been extremely patient, supportive and loving, so my walls are just about gone. I feel very comfortable talking to him and being myself even if that means I’m dealing with depression or anxiety and he’s a lot more open about his own struggles with depression and anxiety as well. I think sharing those struggles with depression and anxiety has really helped us bond that much more over these last couple of months. Having the emotional support of your significant other is such a wonderful feeling and having them understand what you’re going through on an emotional level is invaluable.

Speaking of months, we’re coming up on our 1 year dating anniversary. In less than a week! Dating anniversary (not relationship anniversary). It’s hard to believe an entire year has flown by so quickly. I’m not entirely happy with myself for being kind of coy and stupid at first with the Teacher, but I think keeping an emotional distance, really thinking about our connection (and maybe what i wanted) and taking our time to get to know one another has really built a strong foundation for our relationship and has actually added true meaning and purpose to it. Anyway, we’ve been talking about celebrating the anniversary, which is the same week of Vday (ours is on Sunday). We’ve decided to do something “big deal” on the day of (he suggested going to the brewery where we had our first date and then going out somewhere “nice” from there) and then having a relaxing night IN for Vday, with takeout/ or making dinner and cuddles. I have a feeling that he’s probably buying a lot of shit for both the anniversary and Vday. I’m not entirely crazy about people spending lots of  money on me. He spent quite a bit of money on me for Christmas. Like, tons (granted, i spent a lot on him too, but that’s different 😉). Not only did he get the 3 reasonably priced items I asked for, he got me tons of other things too. He asked what my work address was today 👀. Either he plans on doing a B&E or maybe sending flowers or something? I’ve never received flowers at work actually, that’d be cool, but absurdly expensive 🤦🏽‍♀️.

Another thing we discussed last week was moving in together. This has vaguely crossed my mind a few times over the past month or so, but he brought it up over dinner last weekend in conversation and suggested we start looking for places since our leases are both up in July.  That’s a huge step in a relationship, but one I think we’re both ready for. I also think it will save both of us money, as we’d be splitting rent as opposed to paying two separate rents and commuting back and forth to each other’s places (we live about 15 minutes worth of a highway trip away from one another).

Speaking of relationship stages, I spoke to my ex briefly this afternoon. Our conversation started with him updating  me on how his family (who lives up north where the temps have been -48 or some shit  this week) was doing. The conversation somehow then went left and he spent an hour talking about all of these failed relationships and dating experiences he’s had since we broke up.

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Part of me felt sorry for him (because he is a good person), but in speaking to him, I see a pattern of him crashing and burning when it comes to love. His idea of love doesn’t involve a great deal of logic. He acts mostly on infatuation. It’s like he’s not patient enough to let something grow organically, which is important in building something. It’s like he’s in love with the idea of love. Love doesn’t always happen at “first sight”. It’s not like the movies. It’s not always perfect and just because it isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean you need to throw in the towel so soon. I’ve definitely learned my lesson after going through a whirlwind romance with him. I hope to never do that shit ever again. It’s not healthy. And it took a lot for me to move past it and fully heal.

He told me about dating some girl a month after we broke up only for her to break his heart and dump him two days before his birthday and how he had to go to therapy to deal with “feeling lost”. He told me he “loved” this girl 🙄. I admitted to him I also had a similar experience when he and I broke up (which he’s long been aware of–except, I didn’t “love” him). He apologized for causing me pain, I accepted it and reminded him that I have no resentment towards him (which I don’t). Life lesson learned. He also admitted to regretting the way he ended things between us. TBH, I don’t care anymore. I’ve healed. I’m over it. I’m happy. When he asked how I was doing, I wrestled with being transparent about my own love life, but decided to be honest and let him know that I’ve been in a long-term relationship with a guy that makes me truly happy. He seemed genuinely happy for me, which is mature of him, because I guess that might have been a dick move of mine to tell him that, especially after he spent twenty minutes complaining about his own love life.

Oh well. Such is life.

Outside of that, I’m just coasting and trying to remind myself to practice more self-care this year. I’ve done just ok so far, but I can do better.

 

That time I decided to be grossly sentimental

I can’t believe Christmas is less than a week away. This year has just flown by. There have been both GOOD and not such great times, but it’s been a YEAR, that’s for sure.

Because I was emotionally incapacitated this time last year and literally did everything in my power to NOT be in the Christmas spirit (bah-hum bug), I’ve been trying to “make up for lost time” this year. Plus, being in a happy and healthy relationship has pushed me into being a bit more in the holiday spirit than usual. It’s nice to have someone there to share all the little sappy holiday season things with.

In my usual over the tap manner, I decided I needed to do something super sentimental leading into December. On our Thanksgiving stroll (last month), The Teacher happened to mention that growing up, his family had an advent calendar. He went on the explain how excited him and his sister usually were each day they got to unwrap a little treat as they found themselves one day closer to Christmas and how he “missed those days”.

So insert a mental health day off and several hours later, I created an advent calendar for him (for this year). I loaded it with his favorite treats, a Christmas trivia fact (and answer) for each day (he’s a HUGE trivia fan) and a “what I like about you” statement for each day (things that he probably already knows I like about him, but things I wanted to emphasize).

 

advent calendar 1

I made the calendar out of a hanging shoe storage thing (bought it new–would not have used a “used” one for this)

 

advent calendar contents

Each day includes a small treat (candy for some days, airplane bottles on Saturdays (of his favorite liquors), socks on Fridays, full sized candy on Sundays), 1 Christmas themed trivia question with an answer (because he loves trivia) and 1 “What I like about you/something you do” card. Every single thing about this calendar and its contents was VERY calculated and carefully thought out.

 

calendar edited

He’s standing in front of the calendar the night I gave it to him. Upon receiving the calendar, he immediately hung it up. He seemed genuinely touched.  He was very excited (but I intentionally cut out his face). Because we had plans after he put up the calendar, I didn’t get to take a photo until we got back later that night. I made him take this photo IMMEDIATELY after he hopped out of the shower–haha.

Since receiving the calendar, he’s mentioned how excited he’s been each day to get up and open up his treat bag, which makes my heart smile.

socks

In addition to candy on Fridays, he also receives socks. He’s mentioned that he liked Batman a lot as a kid (and maybe a little now as an adult).

But one of the more touching things from the advent calendar has been knowing that he’s been saving all of the cards/facts from each day and remembers what each card says and will reference them in conversation. Some of the trivia cards are actually Christmas related facts about me that he may not know (like my favorite Christmas movie (Christmas Vacation), favorite Christmas song (This Christmas – Donny Hathaway, etc) and he’s actually remembering these things!

What I like about you cards

His collection of cards and box of candy from the other day. My handwriting is terrible LOL

For me, so as long as each treat bag brings a smile to his face, I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do (to spread Christmas joy and to remind him of how very special he is to me).

And maybe the calendar has helped, because prior to the calendar, he didn’t seem particularly concerned with being in the Christmas spirit. Wasn’t concerned about a tree, putting up decorations or hanging up cards he’s received.

Christmas table

The “Christmas table” (at his place — I actually have a tree up at my place–well, until my cat decides to knock it over, I guess)

He still doesn’t have an ACTUAL tree, but now at least has a “Christmas table” with decorations, cards and our wrapped gifts to one another that we plan on exchanging in a few days. Baby steps!

I have to say, that out of all of the cheesy shit that I’ve done, this has probably been my favorite. It was a fun project and a creative way to show The Teacher that I care.

I Thought I Would Be ELATED.

So I caught up with my ex yesterday…

A year ago, I was EAGER for the day when we would catch up and he’d essentially not be in the best spirits or “got a taste of his own medicine” (by ending things), because I was bitter and heart broken. I imagined myself as Demi, belting out how I was SORRY, I’M NOT SORRY for being better off without him (it is a hot song though, I’m not gonna lie).

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Obviously, time heals wounds and over the months I’ve gotten better, gotten over it, and learned some valuable life lessons.  I’m fine, but hearing that he perhaps is going through some “bad times,” (in regards to his love life) didn’t give me the satisfaction that I thought (a year ago) it would have and I felt like a shitty person for even telling him that I was doing, “REALLY well and was HAPPY” (though I didn’t necessarily reference my current love life, but we’re facebook friends still and I’m sure he’s at least seen clues or references of The Teacher and might have put two and two together by this point) .

It’s been a crazy year since we parted ways. Some ok times and some really bad ones…but I think I’m on the road to being ok. I’m glad to hear that you’re doing well though.

I thought when this moment came, I’d be elated to know that he felt some OUNCE of heartache, sadness or emptiness that I STRUGGLED with for MONTHS after we broke up, but if anything, I felt genuine empathy and a bit of sadness for him. I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone, especially this time of year. And while, I’ve moved on (and I am happy), there is still a part of me that wants genuine happiness for him too. Though we didn’t work out romantically (and now I can see that we probably weren’t as ‘perfect’ for each other as we both thought while dating), he’s a good person and deserves to find his peace and happiness too. He’s also continued to treat me with respect and not like a terrible ex, which I appreciate and I’ve tried to do the same with him.

I chose not to elaborate on my love life, but instead offered support and words of encouragement. I hope that he finds peace or some glimmer of hope that eventually things will look up for him. I hope that he finds that special someone that loves him in a way that I was unable to and treats him like fine china.

I have to say that I’m extremely proud of myself for getting to this point. This is HUGEEEEEEE progress!

Thankful.

Well, I’m happy to report that I made it through all of the anxiety ridden Thanksgiving festivities this year. When I last wrote, I was gearing up to spend the holiday with the Teacher’s family (I previously met his father and step mother, but would be meeting several other extended family members and his actual MOM). To say I was a wee bit nervous was a bit of an understatement!

Let’s start from the beginning…

Before even heading out-of-town to visit his family, we (well I) made dinner plans with two of my best friends from high school. The Teacher had previously met one of my best friends (that lives locally) the same weekend he met my parents, but hadn’t yet met the other BFF, who lives out-of-state. When I found out this friend of mine would be in town, I jumped on the opportunity to introduce him to the Teacher. It’s been important to me lately to introduce The Teacher to every important person in my life so that he gets an even better idea of who I am and what the people who matter to me the most are like. Of course, by this point, anyone who I’m relatively in consistent contact with has either met the Teacher or at least knows who he is (and that he exists).

Dinner went over well as I thought it would. He seemed to get along effortlessly with two of my OTHER favorite people, which made my heart smile. I remember sitting back quietly observing the three of them (all guys) having a conversation like they’d known each other for years and it just made me warm and fuzzy inside. They all genuinely seemed to have a good time and it was great (later) to hear (from them) that they liked the Teacher and it was great to also hear that the Teacher genuinely like them as well.

charlie puth hearts

The following day we were off to his childhood home for Thanksgiving. While I wasn’t entirely nervous to see his father and step mother (since I just met them last month), I was a bit nervous to meet his mom. Throughout the entire time we’ve dated, the Teacher hasn’t said a great deal about his mom, outside of the fact that she was significantly younger than his dad and at times seemed to struggle with being “independent”. It was hard to visualize this woman who gave birth to this wonderful man. Was she a good person?? Would she accept me? What all did she know about me?

I remember at one point semi early on in dating one another (I think when we were more casually dating–but still seeing each other frequently enough for things to be “going somewhere”), having a conversation where he admitted to alluding to his family that he was “dating someone”, but failed to really provide a great deal of specifics outside of that (I’m starting to notice a pattern with the Teacher’s lack of details/substance in his description of the people in his life lol). That’s fair and I remember not being offended by his comment. I was actually relieved that he hadn’t said much about me. At the time, I doubt I had said much about him (if anything) specifically either. I guess we’re both guarded in that way and choose to keep our “love life” private until we feel it’s serious and stable enough to include the other people in our life. Of course now we’re in the “free fall” stage of literally meeting every friend, family member/loved one, neighbor, co-worker, pet, etc in the other person’s life….yeah, that’s been uh…eventful to say the least, but mostly great.

Anyway, on the ride down to meet mom, he explained to me that his mom was a “good person” and was “very nice”, but paused and frowned a bit when describing her now fiancée. Let’s call him Bill.

I have to be transparent in saying this though…Bill seems to be a nice guy, but he’s very…how to do I put it? Conservative? Southern…old? A little set in his ways…possibly a Trump supporter? He *may* say something stupid in those regards…

So…indirectly what he was trying to say is that Bill possibly had some “deep-rooted” backwoods racism brewing and the idea of his step son–who he probably already doesn’t quite ‘understand’ bringing home his black girlfriend would probably be enough to send him to glory on this fine holiday?!

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Check. My heart sank a bit when he said this, even after he told me his mom was absolutely not that way (even went as far to say that his mom was very liberal–how that even works, I’m not sure). My nervousness swiftly changed to internal rage coupled with activated defensiveness on justifying who I was as a person.

The plan was to meet the mom at the movie theater and then dinner after, because apparently that’s what the Teacher and his mom do whenever they get together. How was I supposed to make a good impression in the dark? When we walked into the lobby, I nervously trailed behind him as he strolled up to who I assumed was his mom and Bill and the introductions began. His mom seemed genuinely happy to meet me, but perhaps also nervous?  Bill didn’t say much, but smiled and shook my hand (probably thinking in his mind, “I don’t like black people, but I’m trying to be on my best behavior for my soon to be wife”).  Shortly after the introductions we took our seats in the theater. We were there to see: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, which in my personal opinion was all over the fucking place plot wise, but then again I wasn’t the BIGGEST fan of the first one, so who am I to really comment?

Dinner followed the confusion of the movie and by this point my nervousness (and defensiveness) had semi worn off and my hunger kicked into high gear. It was going on 8 o clock and the Teacher and I hadn’t even had anything to eat that day! WTF?! His mom opted for a Thai restaurant where we dined on spring rolls, Pad Thai and plum wine. Speaking of wine, I gifted his mom with a bottle of her favorite wine after The Teacher let it slip out that his mom recently had a birthday AND what her favorite wine was. Brownie points!

Throughout the dinner, his mom seemed to keep a steady conversation. She didn’t grill me on anything and naturally let me elaborate on things in my life as I felt up to it. Of course, she did the mom thing and told embarrassing stories about him and how she “owed” me “naked baby photos” of him the next time I was in town, since The Teacher told his mom how my mom the previous weekend (while having him over for dinner) showed him all of MY baby photos! There was one moment where the Teacher got up to use the bathroom and his mom shared with me how much he had spoken about me (to her) for months and how she was very eager to meet this “lovely lady” in his life.

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After dinner we ventured back to his dad’s house for the evening to retire to bed before having to be up bright and early to great the rest of his extended family for Thanksgiving. In my mind, I felt like things would be ok meeting wise, but for some reason after laying down for bed I started to get fairly anxious and had a full-blown anxiety attack while laying in bed. I haven’t had an actual full-blown “I feel like I’m having a heart attack,” anxiety attack in several months. My body temperature climbed quickly, my heart was racing–almost beating out of my chest and I couldn’t breathe. Luckily, The Teacher (who was laying beside me during all of this) managed to help me through it and assure me that things would be fine with his family the following day. He stayed calm, held me in his arms and kept speaking in a really calm and empathetic voice. He stayed up with me for a good two hours before I relaxed enough to attempt to go to sleep. While I was partially embarrassed for him to see me in such a vulnerable state, it was good to have him there as comfort as well.

The following day went better than expected. His grandfather, aunt and cousin all arrived promptly at noon and we had a few hours of wine and cheese nibbling before dinner. I had a chance to casually speak to his aunt, grandfather and cousin, which was nice. I especially enjoyed speaking to his grandfather, who seemed to share a similar sense of humor with The Teacher’s father and The Teacher! Now I see where his goofy nature comes from.

Dinner-food wise was interesting, and here’s where our cultural differences stood out, big time. Thanksgiving for my family has traditionally been: Turkey (maybe also a ham depending upon who decides to host), BAKED mac and cheese (the baked part is important), green bean casserole and/or greens, sweet potato casserole, HOME MADE cranberry relish (NOT the stuff out of the can), stuffing, some sort of roll and an assortment of pies (maybe cakes if someone brings one).

The Teacher’s family had the following: Turkey w/ gravy, mashed potatoes (also with gravy), I can’t remember the green veggie (maybe green beans?), carrots, mashed rutabaga?, cornbread pudding? something else that was tan/neutral color?, cranberry sauce in the SHAPE of the can And two pies: pumpkin and pecan. It wasn’t bad, just an adjustment from what my family usually has. I didn’t ask for seconds.

After dinner, The Teacher got a call from his sister, who lives across the country on the west coast. From my understanding, she isn’t necessarily “estranged” from the family, just never makes it out to visit (though she does keep in touch). Somewhere along the conversation he told her how he brought along his “girl pal” to “meet the fam” and then went into some ten minute ramble about how great things had been and how happy he was (d’aww). Of course, he probably knew I could HEAR him (since I was sitting right beside of him during all of this) and eventually told me his sister said, “hello”. Like his mom, he hasn’t said a great deal about his sister (aside from what I’ve said before), though his mom did share that they were relatively close (as siblings) growing up and even shared some of the same friends (as they’re about a year and a few months apart in age).

Later on that evening after the extended family left and his dad and step mom retired to bed, we spent a few moments to ourselves goofing around and watching netflix before bed. It felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I had done it. I managed not to completely fuck up meeting his family and to celebrate, we managed to have relatively quiet love-making much later on that night. Now, the first time this happened, it caught me by surprise because I just assumed none of that would go down out of respect for his parents, but to be honest, there’s something wildly intoxicating about it (and to his credit, he did ASK if I felt comfortable considering the environment we were in this time before proceeding). Maybe it’s the fact that we could potentially be caught with our pants down (literally) or who knows, maybe his parents know and because we’re in our 30s, they don’t care? I’m not sure if I’d be so willing to try that in my parent’s house though. Not that they’re super strict or anything, but they’re both very light sleepers.

We left to head back home the following afternoon, but not before The Teacher took me on a nice romantic walk around the water front across the street from his dad’s place.

Lake 11.23.18

Lake 2 11.23.18

On our walk, he told me more about growing up in the area and even pointed to a few houses where friends of his in the neighborhood used to live.

I have to admit that when I agreed to join the Teacher for Thanksgiving, I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into, but to my surprise, everything seemed to be fine, or at least as fine has they could have been considering. His family seems mostly accepting of me, which put some of my anxiety to rest. This Thanksgiving was definitely better than last year’s.

Next on the agenda is figuring out Christmas. The Teacher has already started to coordinate when/how we plan on linking up all while attempting to spend an appropriate amount of time with our own families. Luckily, my grandfather lives about twenty minutes away from his dad’s place and that’s where my family typically spends Christmas day, so maybe something with work out with that. We’ll see.

Does Your Family Know I’m Black?

As time inches closer to the holidays–primarily Thanksgiving, plans are also starting to form. I’ve never thought much of Thanksgiving as a whole. Wait, that sounds terrible. I mean, growing up my family always celebrated it, but beyond high school and into my college years it’s all sort of been ad-hoc and conditional. Some years I just visited extended family out of state, other years I’ve had local “friendsgivings” and twice now, I’ve spent it watching netflix while eating Boston Market or something similarly shitty. I did a combination of the last two options last year (though the majority of it was a blur). I guess I hadn’t thought much about this year until this past Sunday when The Teacher asked if I would come home with him to spend Thanksgiving with him and his family this year. We were riding back to his place from having a triple dinner date at his friend’s place and had just spent a lovely weekend cuddled up together doing cheesy solo couples shit, perhaps he just felt “popping the question” was appropriate?

After agreeing to the offer, he went on about how excited he was. His eyes lit up like fire works on the fourth of July. While I’ve already met his father and step mother (and I’m cool with them), he mentioned that this time I would be meeting his (actual) mother, grandfather, aunt, uncle and maybe a cousin or two?

Whoa. whoa. whoa there, buddy.

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I was under the impression that this would be an intimate sophisticated adults Thanksgiving with just his dad and step mom where we all got wine tipsy while watching cheesy holiday specials after gorging ourselves on loads of carbs. You know, a lazy-ish Thanksgiving of sorts. You mean I’ve now got to meet more of your fam-a-lam-a-lam-a-lam?

As he rambled on about these loosely thought out plans (when we’d leave, what we’d do the day we got there, whether or not we’d be bringing something, etc), I thought about whether or not his extended family knew much about me (I at least know they know OF me) and if after meeting me, would accept me? I probably haven’t said much if ANYTHING up here, but The Teacher and I are in an interracial relationship. Yes. While this doesn’t SEEM like a huge deal in 2018, it could be to those who may not agree with it, or well, (don’t agree with) me specifically and I’m always aware and on high alert about it. I don’t entirely live in a bubble. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t care about what someone else thinks about my relationship, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that ongoing negativity would potentially piss me off over time.

The Teacher is extremely open-minded and welcoming. He’s a very warm and kindhearted person. He’s loyal, silly, intelligent, adorable and probably one of my favorite people to be around whether we’re actively doing something out or being lazy and binge watching netflix in. He checks all of the boxes and then some. He’s never said anything remotely insensitive or racist (nor does he seem to associate with anyone who is insensitive or racist) and is always fully aware of who and what we are and ready to “go to bat” for anyone who has a problem with it. He’s also extremely public about our relationship and is quick to introduce me as his girlfriend to any and everyone (though most people he introduces me already know who I am). In our conversations about cultural differences (mostly me explaining things some black folks do–like how I had to explain to him just last night that I do not want him getting my hair wet each time we shower together–especially if we have to go somewhere immediately after– because it’s a literal PROCESS for most black women to wash, dry and style our hair), he’s always been respectful and accepting. I can tell that if he has a question, it comes from a genuine place of wanting to understand and not one of malice or mockery.

I occasionally forget about “reality” and find myself immersed in our own little world of just “us”. Of course, I never forget that I am a black woman and he is a white man and regardless of how “in love/like” we might be with one another, the world around us might not always be so welcoming or kind, especially as we become more serious in our relationship and skeptical people realize this is no phase or fetish–yes, people in 2018 would probably think that. They might also wonder why neither one of us is dating someone of our own race. The world can be a cold place. Luckily, our friends, immediate family members and people who matter the most to us seem very accepting of our relationship. I was relieved that his father and step mother seemed to really take a genuine liking to me and welcomed me with open arms, considering the very first time I met them was also the weekend I stayed in their home, in a bed, with their son. The entire way there I wondered…did he prep them? Did he tell them I was…black?  How did THAT conversation go?! After all, I am the first black girlfriend he’s had and maybe the first girl he’s been serious enough to “bring home” like that?

guess who

“Guess Who (2005)”

Before he met my parents a few weeks ago, I don’t explicitly remember ever telling my parents that he was white. In fact, until somewhat recently, I hadn’t really told them many specific things about him at all outside of the fact that he was a Teacher and he treated me well. Oh, also that he sleeps A LOT. I guess I didn’t feel like I needed to? As long as he treats me well and makes me happy, does it matter? I’ve been in interracial relationships before, so I guess I didn’t see it as being a “let’s sit down and have an open discussion”, thing. Besides, I had shown them photos of the Teacher prior to the meeting and of course after finding out that we finally became facebook friends, my mom “facebook stalked” him, as she typically does with boyfriends of mine and told me his whole ass class schedule for the year (after googling the high school he works at) Ok…?

As my relationship with the Teacher progresses, I keep waiting for the day that we face an extreme instance (or four) of someone openly disrespecting or discouraging our relationship without any regard for one or both of us as decent human beings. I halfheartedly expect this from older people–who may or may not have as much experience with interracial dating or even being around people of other races, but I’m pretty sure even people in my generation are this stupid too (just look who we have in the white house after all).

I think my concerns/premonitions are justified here. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have to worry or care about what a total stranger, family member or friend thinks of the man I love, but such is life, I guess. Hopefully Thanksgiving goes over well.