You ever catch yourself in a moment when you’re thinking too deeply and you know it’s going to lead to trouble?
You ever stop and wonder how it got so far? How you let yourself lower the bar?
I sometimes do. It’s sad but true.
People are weird. They do one thing, then say another. Treat you like a friend, then don’t even bother.
You’re being pulled down a path, against your will, time keeps going yet standing still.
Where’s this thing taking me? Why don’t I have a choice? Why have I lost my voice? Why can’t I stop this ride?
You want to pick up the phone and call but you can’t. Why won’t they call first? Why aren’t they thinking of me? Have I disappeared completely? I’m not trying to hide. I’m right here. I’ve been here all along.
What’s going to happen when too much time passes by? What will it be like then? When you’re so far you’re a stranger and no longer a friend? How can I stop this ride?
I didn’t choose this. I never wanted it to be this way, yet here we are. Are we going to let this slip away, two planets a galaxy afar? Cold as ice and dead-eyed stares, awkward text messages, no one cares. There’s no warmth anymore, if there ever was.
Twenty years is a long time for nothing. We threw matches in a pool, waiting for one to light, but someone forgot to add fuel, and now it’s a lot of wasted time and past midnight. Is it time to go home? Did we ever leave? Were we ever really here to begin with?
I tried so hard, all these years, to fit in and be what you wanted me to be. But I’m expendable, the first to get cut, first to be forgotten, yeah, that’s me.
Did you hear me? Can you see me? Am I make believe?
Those sentiments are likely to be shared by many.
2020. What can be said? It’s been a helluva year. From the pandemic to the election, it’s been a roller coaster of a ride and many are begging to be let off, myself included.
The coronavirus, or COVID-19, or also referred to, in some quarters, as the “rona,” has ravaged the planet and the US is not sitting very pretty. Folks didn’t take the shelter-in-place seriously, summer failed to flatten the curve as so many had hoped, and hundreds of thousands have died and many more have been infected at least once, some even twice. Half the country is still taking it very carefully, dutifully wearing a mask every time they go out, using hand sanitizer after touching any type of surface, and social distancing.
Unfortunately, others are not taking it so seriously. They are refusing to wear a simple mask, using excuses such as they can’t breathe (they can), and it interferes with their rights (it doesn’t). They parade arrogantly and unflinchingly around crowds of people, breathing on everyone, spreading germs without even bothering to protect anyone else or themselves.
Personally, I find it rather selfish to refuse to wear a mask. Masks aren’t complete protection, nor are they perfect, but they do help and are much better than wearing nothing at all. Still, many hate them and refuse to wear one, even for a short period of time. Masks are not my favorite thing either. I still forget and have to go back to my car to grab it. They’re stuffy, ill-fitting, and uncomfortable. However, I do wear one anytime I’m in public. I also wash my hands constantly (I did before but even I could up the ante) and use my hand sanitizer spray. It’s only a temporary inconvenience for me and I would be devastated if I caught this virus and gave it to someone else.
Unbelievably, there are people who deny the virus’s existence. They behave as though it’s completely made up and just a hyped-up conspiracy. Regardless of verifiable science and hospitals full-to-bursting and many, many dead, they still think it’s all a lie. I had someone on Twitter the other day tell me that people in motorcycle accidents are being written up as Covid cases, which is completely unbelievable. The sad part is that so many actually believe it’s a conspiracy and don’t protect themselves and then get sick and die. Or, worse, get sick, infect others, and die. It’s becoming too common and even though I do believe the media gets it wrong sometimes, I am not one of those who subscribe to the belief that everything in print is fiction.
The ‘rona isn’t the only craziness we had this year. The other insanity was the US Presidential election.
The election can be summed up in two words but it is entirely more complicated than this: Trump lost. Despite the cries of an unfair election, despite the wails of fraud and illegal votes, regardless of all Trump’s attempts to overthrow the decision of more than 80 million Americans, Trump lost and that’s that. Social media blew up and depending on which side you were on, you were either extremely satisfied or extremely upset and crying. For me, I was one of the former group. I apologize to anyone who rooted for Trump and voted for him and wanted him to win but there’s one irrefutable fact: Trump was not only tearing the US apart, he was glad it was happening. And, not only was he glad it was happening, he was pushing the destruction along faster. He is far too emotional to lead. He runs hot and cold, depending on his mood and if someone disagrees with him. He only caters to half the population and is not a president for all. He doesn’t care for the environment, actually rolls protections back, and is allowing public lands to be sold to huge corporations and destroyed. He hires criminals and countless members of his cabinet have been tried and convicted for crimes. Trump himself is a criminal. He refused to share his taxes because in the last ten years (or more) he’s only paid around $750 in taxes and allows his children to write off millions and avoid paying taxes as well. He declared a national emergency to build a stupid wall and even that was a complete failure. This only names a few of the reasons he was a terrible president. I could go on but I don’t want Trump to dominate the blog, as he has dominated the country for the last four years. I will breathe a sigh of relief on Inauguration Day when he’s finally irrelevant and Biden is sworn in. It’ll be nice to have a grownup in charge again.
Has 2020 been all bad? For me, no. I admit, I am in the minority here. So many have lost loved ones and have had a difficult time dealing with the quarantine. With traveling being restricted and this year being one of being a homebody, it’s true most have struggled this year. Many are unemployed and worried about paying bills and rent/mortgage.
But for me, 2020 hasn’t been all bad. I am working from home now, which is glorious. This entire year, I have been able to simply walk into my home office and turn on a computer to go to work. It has saved me money, time, and resources. Working from home has also been good for me, mentally. So much stress has been relieved. I no longer have to get up super early, shower, dress, and fight traffic to the office. My car hasn’t racked up miles from the back and forth. My fur kids have been happier as well. My dog and cats are now so used to me being home that they’re a little freaked out when I leave. Working from home has truly been a blessing and I only hope the company makes it permanent.
Also, 2020 has been the year of school. I started back to school in August of ’19 and it’s been going very well. I recently transferred to a new school and will finish my Bachelors in IT Cybersecurity within the year (I hope!). A Masters degree is still solidly on the table but I won’t make that decision until I finish the Bachelors first. I am learning a lot and excited for what the future may hold.
To wrap it up, 2020 has had its challenges but overall, not the worst year ever, at least for me. The worst year of my life was 2012 and as long as things don’t go that way again, which they won’t, then it won’t ever be that bad again. No year can top 2012.
If you find yourself struggling because of 2020, remember to remind yourself that it will get better. Even the worst years go by and become a thing of the past (I’m looking at you, 2012). True, things can happen to make life extremely rough, even unbearable, but all things end. Change is the only constant and whatever bad things happen, remember, good things happen too. It’s easy to forget about the good stuff because we tend to take them for granted. I know it seems easy for some random person on the internet to say this; I just got finished blogging about how things haven’t been terrible for me in, of all years, 2020. However, I have had some bad years. Very bad years. I understand suffering and loss and pain. I have been betrayed and lied to and manipulated and humiliated. I’ve moved multiple times because I’ve lost my home and it took me a long time to come back from that. What little family I have is far spread out and we aren’t exactly close. I have had some hard times but I have also had some good fortune. I love my friends, my animals, and for the most part, my life. If you had told me this eight years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it. Eight years ago, I was sure I would be dead by now, by my own hand. But I’m not. I’m still here. And if I can survive a hurricane of humiliation and terrible luck, completely on my own, then anyone can. It is possible and you only have to do one thing: keep waking up and fighting through another day.
Keep on, keeping on, friends. 2020 is almost over.
If that saying doesn’t make sense to you, you’ve never experienced a pandemic before.
2020 has started. Boy, has it ever. The world is currently in the midst of a pandemic called COVID-19, oft referred to as the coronavirus, the novel coronavirus, amongst other things. It has become the number one meme on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, basically any social media outlet. It has swept the planet from a single case in Wuhan, China, to the entire world in the span of about five months and it is here in the US wreaking havoc on our nation’s elderly (and even not elderly) people. It has killed thousands of people and infected many more. It is also scaring the living shit out of a lot of people and making life difficult and downright unrecognizable for the rest of us.
The CDC and our government have recommended a mass closure which means all businesses such as restaurants and basically any place where more than a few humans can gather, are now closed until this thing is over. No restaurants, bars, gyms, hair dressers, etc… nothing like that can be open right now. People with the capability are being asked to work from home, which I am currently doing. I worked from home all last week and it was pretty great. The people in charge are also asking us to stay home and try to avoid going out, whenever possible, to avoid getting sick. So, people are holing up in their homes, watching t.v., and turning to social media for both entertainment and socializing while we wait this thing out.
It’s been interesting to observe social media during this thing. Some people are handling the shelter in place rather well. They’re baking cookies and making the best of it during this difficult time. Others, not so well. They’re stuck inside with others and since they’re not used to spending so much time with other people, namely their families, they’re starting to unravel a little bit.
Myself, I am in the former category. As an introvert, I relish in my alone time. I spend most of my time alone anyway, so this has been business as usual to me. I’ve gone out only a few times but otherwise, I’ve been home, minding my own business and riding out this wave of illness. It’s almost as if my depression and self-isolation have been training me for this time when I would be forced to spend time in solitary. This truly has not been out of the ordinary for me at all, with the exception of one thing.
Going out in public is now an ordeal. I once could slip in and out of a place relatively quickly, easily, and quietly but now you have to prepare beforehand. Restaurants are now closed, which means I can’t actually go in and sit down, I have to get it to go. That’s what I typically do anyway but on the few occasions when my friends and I would meet, we can no longer do this. Yoga is gone for now too, which also sucks. Yoga really helps with my back pain and I’m now going to have to discipline myself to do it at home. Going to the grocery store is probably the worst. If I want to pick up a few things, maybe I’m craving some fruit or something, going to the store is an entire situation all on its own.
First off, when the people first heard that they would likely be asked to stay home and ride this thing out for a few weeks, the people did what they do best in these situations: they panic. I have only gone to the grocery store a few times and I’ll remember those times for the rest of my life. People are walking around with face masks and handling items with gloves. Shelves are near empty as people ravage through the supplies, buying way more than they need. Toilet paper is completely gone; to find any of the white stuff is like finding a four-leaf clover. Maybe even rarer. Hand sanitizer is another one that is extremely hard to find, even more difficult than toilet paper. You can’t find it anywhere, in any physical location or online. Scrolling through Amazon after searching for hand sanitizer, expect to see the words “not available” on pretty much every item. There was a man who recently had an article written about him because he and his friend went out and bought all the hand sanitizer they could find right before it was fashionable to go out and buy it, and then they tried to sell it at an inflated price on Amazon, to which Amazon promptly shut them down. And rightly so. Those men were gouging people and deserved to be shut down. I’m sure those weasels simply sold their items on Craigslist or something but it was still disheartening to see humans going out and trying to take advantage of a sickness that is killing so many when there are so few preventions going around. Makes me ashamed to be a human. Crime is beginning to spike, as people who are currently out of work are running out of money. The stock market continues to fall, is now lower than it’s been in a very long time. The government is talking about sending money directly to taxpayers, to assist with these difficult times as we adapt to this new, temporary normal. The hardest hit country as far as deaths so far is Italy but the US isn’t far behind and will likely catch up. People are not taking the shelter in place seriously and so the virus continues to spread. Unfortunately this government shut down began right around spring break and the beaches were still open and full of young kids splashing and playing without a care in the world. We should expect the next few weeks to be much of the same and many predict we won’t see any change until May, maybe even later. Kids are not in school and likely may not return until the end of the year, possibly not even then. The list of strangeness goes on and on.
I wish more people would stay home so we can slow the progression (or flatten the curve, as we keep hearing from medical professionals) of this thing. Mostly I just want to go to the store again without wondering if I’ll find what I need or worrying about what’s happening at my place when I’m not there. People are hoarding and behaving like selfish assholes. This isn’t surprising but I just wish it would stop.
Rest easy and stay healthy, to the few who are reading. I hope you are well-stocked with toilet paper, wherever you are.
I opened this blog on a whim and saw that it’s been (almost to the very day) a year since I last wrote anything.
Blogging is difficult. It’s difficult to come up with something to say. As a person who really strives for the best, I tend to trash a million ideas because they aren’t good enough to devote time the time and energy to.
Another year is winding down again. Last year I wrote something similar. Another spring has come and gone, another summer, another fall. Snow has already fallen this season and the promise of some today. Right now, the sun is shining outside and the temperature is mild. Should reach the mid-40s today, so maybe we’ll only have a few flakes, just enough to crisp the edges of the lawns.
I try to blog about what I’ve done and what significant things have happened to me in the past year. Painful or pleasant, I try to get it all down. A recap, if you will.
This year has been a tornado. The best thing to happen to me this year? Europe. I did some traveling this year and flew to Europe for the very first time in my life. My first stop? Paris. Paris, the city of love and lights. My friend J went with me and she and I had a right and proper girls’ trip overseas where we traveled and shopped and saw all the touristy sites and ate all the good food, drank great wine, and had just an amazing time.
Paris is an incredible city and everyone should see it at least once. We arrived in the morning and had a whirlwind day of walking the city. Our first stop was a bakery to purchase breakfast. I wanted to go into a real French bakery and use my French (oui, je parle un peu le Francais) to order food. I did all right too but that might be because so many Europeans speak English. So, if you’ve always wanted to travel overseas but have been hesitant due to a language barrier, fear not; they probably speak English.
After breakfast, we walked the city. The public transport there is second to none. I’ve been to New York and even their subway system is a mess compared to Paris. In one single day, J and I were able to decipher and use the Metro to see the Louvre, the Moulin Rouge, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe. We walked the Champs-Elysees and saw the stores that are far too expensive for us to shop in. We walked the Louvre and saw the infamous Mona Lisa (something I’ve always wanted to do). We only had a single day to tour Paris (a planning thing that I now regret-Paris deserves far more than a day) but we managed to fill it with so many gorgeous sites. The Parisians are fabulous, friendly, and helpful. We missed seeing Notre Dame and after it caught on fire, I definitely regretted skipping it. If I went back, I would spend a few more days there and see the magnificent church, as well as the Palace of Versailles. Paris, I promise I will return to you one day.
After Paris, we had a long layover in Munich. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to leave the airport and tour Germany, which I also regret. I wish we had slated at least a day there. I can attest that the airport in Munich is the cleanest and quietest airport I’ve ever been to.
We left Munich and flew to Rome. We spent several days in Rome and toured the city. We saw the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica, Piazza Navona, the Spanish Steps, and the Sistine Chapel. It was incredible to stand under Michelangelo’s awe-inspiring Creation of Adam and see all the colors and intricate details of his work. And that was the first full day we were in Rome. We shopped, ate, and walked all over the city. The food is incredible and the people are simply amazing. We also took a train to Naples and saw Pompeii. We joined a tour and saw the ruins of this once great city that had been buried in volcanic rock and ash. We saw fountains that people once drew water from, we saw pots people once drank from, we saw the stone roads that people once walked and pulled carts on. We saw the majestic Mt Vesuvius looming over the city, an ominous reminder of what it’s capable of. Pompeii is too incredible to describe and the restoration of it has been nothing short of unbelievable. And it hasn’t been fully uncovered yet so who knows what else lies in wait to be discovered? I hope I’m around to find out. I’d love to go back.
After Pompeii we took the train back to Rome. The train system there is a little overwhelming to be honest and I’m glad J was there with me to help me navigate. The tickets are in Italian and not many people at the train station speak English to help you. The train station itself is large and stuffed with people milling around, a true assault to the senses, if you’re an introvert like me who doesn’t care for large, crowded places. But the experience was so wonderful, I’m so glad I didn’t skip it. Pompeii is not a place to be skipped over. It deserves a day for you to walk and marvel at and experience how they lived and what life was like for this once great resort city for the Romans.
It was sad to leave Europe. If I had the money and resources, I would go more often, perhaps even live there. It’s an amazing place filled with great food, people, and sites. A person can breathe there, in the sense that it doesn’t have the same sense of political dread that America has. But that’s a post for another day.
So, what goes up must come down, right? Well, I experienced a tremendous loss in April, about a month after Europe. The loss of my beloved 14 year old dog, Carmody. Carmody had been my buddy since 2006, (she was not a puppy when I got her) when I found her from an animal shelter from the blue period of my life. She was such a wonderful, smart, happy girl and I miss her and think about her every day. I will never stop feeling terrible about the way she died and will always believe she deserved better. I tried to save her and she ended up dying anyway. I can’t talk about her right now, I’m not in a place in my mind and heart where I can do it without sobbing hysterically. I will never forget her.
The next piece of 2019 is I started school again to finish my IT degree. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for some time but hadn’t been in a place and time that would have made it feasible for me. I am now and am now entering my fourth class and getting straight A’s and feeling pretty good about my chances of graduating. For me, this is my third attempt at college and hopefully this one will be the charm. If I don’t stumble and get frustrated and quit, like I’ve done before, I’ll graduate and finally have that expensive piece of paper that makes me a little more marketable to the workforce. Thankfully, this time I have a much better support system to get me through the tough times. Along with studying IT, I’m also learning how to code and trying to learn and teach myself as much as I possibly can. I’m a girl alone in the world and I need a safety net, should something terrible happen to me. I love computers, I’ve always been good with them and had instincts and so this feels right to me. I hope I’ll be able to blog about the graduation experience sometime soon.
My second, and hopefully final tremendous loss for a while, was the loss of my 18 year old kitty, Beatrice. Beatrice is different from Carmody in that her death was natural and expected due to a few illnesses that happen to cats as they age. She had been receiving treatment for thyroid issues for several years, had heart issues, and this year, been diagnosed with advanced kidney disease. Once your kitty has kidney disease, there isn’t too much you can do. There are medications (which she was on) and foods you can give (which she was also eating) and remedies you can try but ultimately it has no cure and will eventually take them, whether you want it to or not. She died on a Thursday, in the morning, and I was with her to pet her and love her and between tears tell her I loved her and will miss her and treasure her always.
Losing Carmody and Beatrice marked the end of an era of my life, and losing two pets I’ve had for so long only five months apart was harder than you can realize. Those two, especially Bea, had been through things with me that no human was. They were with me through my marriage and divorce, through several moves, and finally the house I’m in now. They were with me during the darkest points of my depression, braving it in a way that no human would have been able to endure. I was so lucky to have them with me on this journey. I was so lucky to have two girls that were both endlessly sweet and loving and faithful. An animal’s love is deep and unchallenged and without strings and I believe that humans are undeserving of such a thing, being the flawed and potentially cruel creatures we are. But I was so lucky to have them in my life with me. Now I have two boys, a dog and a cat, and although they will never replace the girls I lost, they bring a love and laughter to my life that is different yet just as fulfilling.
Losing Beatrice was two months ago. Carmody was seven. So much loss in such a short span of time. And yet I’m still here. Every year, even with its loss, trends upward ever so slightly. It’s like watching a grid of the stock market, it has its peaks and valleys but a little at a time it tries to move upward. That’s kind of like life, in a way. You trudge this path, sometimes with people, sometimes alone. Some days you feel on top of the world, happiest of happy days. Other days, you are at the bottom of a crash, scraping beneath the bottom of the barrel. If you’re lucky, you’ve had people with you, family and friends, to help soften the blows and get you through the tough times. If you’re like me, you’ve endured most of your life alone, going through tough times completely alone and misunderstood, no family or friends to be there to talk you off the ledge. After doing the math, I’ve determined that I’ve lived just as much of my adult life alone as I have with someone. And honestly, even when I was married, I don’t consider that ten years to be completely not alone. Just because you’re in the same house as someone else, doesn’t mean that person is really with you and understands you. I spent much of my marriage alone too. I’ve come to the determination that I’ll probably always be alone, in one way or another, even if I manage to find someone who can tolerate being around me for more than a year. I’m not sure I was meant for a relationship, at least not one that’s long-term. My mind and soul can’t be tamed by one person alone. I grow bored when I’m with a good one and anxious when I’m with a bad one. I can’t find middle ground. I have yet to find someone who can both understand and challenge me in a way that will keep me intrigued and endeared. Unfortunately, my standards are incredibly high and I’d rather be alone than with someone who doesn’t get me. So, I’ll be alone. And I guess that’s okay. Being alone isn’t much different than being in a marriage. There are times when I really want someone around and times when I don’t.
What’s the moral of this story? I don’t know. Just keep on, keeping on. I believe I’ve reached a plateau in my life and I’ve crossed only a small portion of it. I’ve climbed some hills and tripped over some rocks but for the most part, the vast expanses of my mind, for the moment, are flat and endless with only a wide horizon to be seen from a far-off distance. I don’t believe my journey to be unique in any way. Many have tread this path and many more will after me. And until that day, should it come, when I encounter a person who gets me and can see right through all the rough edges and tough exterior, right through to me, then I’ll try to keep walking until I can’t anymore. If that doesn’t happen before I can no longer be here? Well, I’ll be in good company after I’m gone.
RIP my sweet girls. I’ll love you both forever and ever.
Another year has come and gone. Another spring, with its new blooms and promise of new life. Another summer, both hot and exhilarating. Another fall, with leaves of fire and crisp evening breezes. Winter is now coming and even though it’s only November, it already promises frigid temperatures and the white stuff a little too early.
The year has been a docile one for me. A lot of quiet evenings due to too much time on my hands. Now that my life is more in order than it ever has been, at least in the physical sense, time is the result.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Alone time is great for unpacking your thoughts and putting them in order. It can help one reprioritize and figure out what the next steps are. Usually people who have a lot of thought unpacking to do are those who have had a metric ton to store away. We tend to store away extra furniture we don’t know what to do with. The trick is remembering it’s there and doing something with it before the bugs find it and start destroying it, one nibble at a time.
I’ve been unpacking the same room for six years.
Mental unpacking can also be slow torture. This may be why so many people avoid it. Unpacking means confronting unpleasant things. The things that happen to us, things that are done to us, things we do to others, and things that change our lives forever. As a student and lover of psychology, I always come back to the why. One thing that’s taken me six years to realize is that we don’t always get the why, no matter how hard we search for it. That’s when we have to try to move on. It can be hard moving on when there’s no explanation to a why, like trying to walk with a broken pinkie toe. You can still walk but that toe will constantly nag you.
Six years ago I went through a divorce and the beginning of a long hibernation. The divorce was sad, the end of something always is, but it wasn’t the reason I went into long hibernation mode. My hibernation mode for the last six years was due to someone else. A man I was with during my separation that I fell very much in love with. If I’m to be honest, and where else can I be honest but here, I’ll admit that me falling for this man was very much like sinking into the Mariana Trench. The deeper I sank, the darker it got. And it’s taken me six years to get to a point to where I might see some light at the end of the tunnel.
Six years. But I am not out of the woods yet.
That’s how hard I fell.
Love can be a great thing. When it’s happening to you, the world is softer, brighter, happier. When you’re with that person, and you think the feeling is reciprocated, there is nothing quite like it. Those sweet conversations until the wee hours of the morning. Those little gestures, like making a meal or tiny kisses for no reason, are both treasured and cherished all day. Learning new things about that person and trying to use that information to make them happy becomes a goal. I cherished every single moment I was with him and really believed it would go somewhere if I worked at it. I had known him for years, and never did he display the type of behavior that would indicate what would befall my future. I truly believed that I had found a good man with a kind heart and warm soul.
Boy was I wrong.
The feelings were not reciprocated. Turns out that for most of a year this man put on a very good charade, Oscar-worthy, in fact, and once he found a new girl (and by girl I mean just that; a young girl of 21 and already with a kid when he was in his thirties), he had no problem ghosting me out of his life. Ghosting is a new term for simply disappearing from someone’s life without any explanation, warning, or goodbye. And that’s exactly what he did. After ten months of seeing him almost every single day, going on dates, cooking and eating meals, gifts, holding hands, grocery shopping together, truck rides, parties with other couples, long conversations about nothing and everything, he simply disappeared. Gone. As though we never existed. I got one text that said he had a new girlfriend who was now living with him and that was it. He never even bothered to give me my stuff back.
After that, life didn’t get any easier. I lost my home and my car died. I had just moved into a house I was renting only to be asked to move out (due to the landlord’s own divorce, seems the fever was contagious) less than a year later. Then, several of my family members died all within a year. My aunt in early 2013, my uncle a few months later, another aunt about a month later, another uncle a month after her, my own mother in October of 2013, then my cousin a few months after her in early 2014. 2013 and early 2014 was the time of death for certain. At the time, I was living in a tiny, 500 sq ft apartment with my dog and my cat and trying to survive day to day. I was broke and terribly unhappy. I look back on it now and still wonder how I made it through. At the time I did not have any friends or family I was close enough with to talk to and was literally down to my last few dollars and shreds of sanity. I contemplated suicide every day.
I went on like this for months. I turned into a zombie. I even attempted to date someone and it lasted almost a year but I never really scratched the surface there. To be fair, neither did he. I think we both needed each other for the same reasons and once the well had run dry, we were both more than happy to find the exit. We’re still friends to this day and I have no ill feelings toward him. I have only had one other relationship in the last six years and it ended two years ago. I have dated no one else since then. Nor do I have the energy to, right now.
During the last quarter of 2012, all of 2013, and most of 2014, I basically existed. I was an empty shell, left to rot on a filthy beach. I was alone a lot. I couldn’t write anymore. That passion had left me the way he had. I tried to write but the words wouldn’t come. It was like calling an old lover who answers the phone but won’t speak a word, only the sound of their breath on the other end of the line. I contemplated constantly about what I did wrong and how I deserved to be tossed aside like a piece of garbage without one single word from him to offer closure. Fits of tears were not a daily occurrence but an hourly one, making work difficult. Long, ragged, hysterical bouts of sobbing were had a couple of times a day, usually at the beginning and end of the day when I was not at work. These hate-filled sob sessions always left me feeling more angry, bitter, cynical, and empty than ever before. Sometimes a good cry will clean you out the way you toss food gone bad from the refrigerator. I never felt cleaner or better after those cries. I only felt myself sinking deeper into a dark depression, with terrible thoughts I’d never had before. Dark, angry, murderous black thoughts that would leave me feeling both terrified and ominous. It took every drop of energy to get through each day, from sun up to sun down. Dragging myself to work, failing my desire to not think about it anymore, to just get over it the way so many people seemingly have. Nothing to come home to, no one to talk to, no plans after work, no people in my life to help soften the blow. When a person has no outlet for these thoughts, they become filled with bitterness and despair. The fire simply burns until there’s nothing left but ashes and the faint smell of smoke.
The only saving grace I had didn’t come until around mid 2014 when my friend came into my life and we started making plans and doing things together. What began as a casual friendship turned into the life vest that kept me from drowning in a turbulent sea. I finally had something to look forward to and a reason to not simply give up. She was the open window where the fresh spring breeze comes in, turning a stale, moldy house into one that’s bright and airy.
I began to surface from these depressions more and more often. At first, it was only occasional. After a long season in the dark, the light is not only hurtful but scary. How can I trust this person? Do I really want to risk going through another loss? Why should I even try to have a friend when it’s just going to crash and burn, the way everything else does? And as I held my breath in anticipation of the other shoe dropping, I found the other shoe simply wasn’t dropping. During those early outings of meals and museums, I kept thinking, today’s the day she’s going to decide I’m not worth the trouble. She’s going to stop returning my texts and move on. Find somewhere else to dig that’s a little less rocky. But she didn’t. And still hasn’t as of this writing. She’s my best friend and the best human I’ve ever known.
As I previously stated, I’m still not out of the woods yet. I don’t think I’ve unpacked all my furniture. There’s still some big pieces with sheets slung over them in the dark recesses of my mind. I’m not sure I ever will. As I also stated earlier, I am obsessed with the why and to this day, I still haven’t received one. I doubt he’s given me a second thought in six years. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him though, in one way or another, and whenever I do, I still feel that sharp pinch of hurt in a place that hasn’t yet healed. A bruise on my soul that’s turned from bright purple and blue to a faded yellow but still very much there. I’m a slow healer and the fact that when he disappeared he not only obliterated my sense of self but also my one passion-writing-makes it even worse. I had one thing going for me, one thing that made me different and unique and he took it from me, the way a rapist will tear away not only a girl’s virginity but also the naive belief that people are basically good inside. If any good is to be learned from the last six years it’s that I can be painfully alone without other humans for very long periods of time which will come in handy if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse. I won’t deny it’s stripped my sanity just a little bit but I haven’t murdered anyone so there’s something to be said for that.
If you’ve read all this to the end, thank you. Thank you for hearing the journey I’ve endured the last six years and thank you for being patient. I’m not sure if there’s any wisdom here, probably not, but I hope at least one person reads this and can at least relate. We are all floating alone in our own sea, but occasionally an island appears and offers at least a temporary escape from the isolation. All I can say is don’t stop swimming.
We’ve said goodbye to 2017.
It’s been a busy year for me personally and a scary year politically. The latter is for another post.
For the personal part, I bought a house last year! It was time. My credit finally reached a point where it was good enough to pursue. And after a lot of searching, both external and internal, I finally found one that I liked enough to write a check for. It’s not the end of my rainbow, my rainbow ends somewhere in the country with some land and a little farm, but for now, it’s exactly what I need.
My new place was built in 1900 and is in a shotgun style. It’s a rare double decker and was completely rehabbed the year before I bought it. Tall ceilings, transom windows, and plenty of character of old.
There are big plans coming down the pipe for this cute little place of mine, namely a wine cellar, a walk-in closet, and some redecorating the half bath, but it’s on its way to getting there. I’m looking forward to blogging about it in the future.
Also on the financial front, I’ve started investing for my future and my nest egg is getting bigger every month. It’s a thrill watching money go in, knowing where it’s going to be in a couple of decades. The only person watching out for me is me and I don’t plan on working until I die.
I lost my cousin Nathan not long ago. This was particularly difficult for me because we were very close growing up. Unfortunately, our paths went in very different directions as we grew up and his wasn’t in a very good way. He’s now one of the many who have been lost due to overdoses, something that’s a real problem in this country. I think about him often and miss him. I hope, wherever he is, he found the peace he so desperately needed in his life.
This girl has made a promise to herself to start doing yoga on the regular again. I was pretty active in it for a while, before the place I went to decided to drive their prices up so I quit going. My friend Mander went with me and also quit going because of the price hike. They have since started a new monthly price structure and I’ve re-upped my membership. This is something I need to do for myself so I can finally do that dancer pose I keep telling myself I’m going to do. By year’s end, this will happen. And not the easy dancer pose either. I’m going full-bendy.
Also, this blog needs some attention. As do my books. They’ve been neglected long enough, due to the instability my life has had these past few years. Now that things have settled down a bit, this is going to change as well. At least, I hope.
Let’s hope this isn’t the first and last post I write this year.
Happy New Year! Cheers.
Well, the year is almost over. 2016 has been a year for a lot of change and learning.
I last blogged in April and I know that’s terrible. It’s been over six months since you’ve seen a blog from me. I feel awful. It’s been a busy year. That’s not a good excuse but it’s the one I have.
The book writing continues! The first draft of my untitled trilogy is almost complete. It started in 2011 so it’s been very slow going but I’ve run into a few road blocks as far as this novel goes. I’ve had to rename some characters and change the plot around a bit. Of course, there was also the gap between 2013 and 2014 but we don’t need to talk about those years.
Also, I can’t believe Trump was elected. WTF.
We’ll let this one go for now and I will communicate more as the book matures.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and a wonderful Christmas as well.
So it’s been two weeks since my last post. I’m getting better!
While my own stories have kept me busy, I’m finding I still have some time to fill. So, I have decided to begin offering proofreading services to authors.
I’ve been around the writer world for several years now and feel I have a lot of experience and wisdom to offer. I was once in your shoes. My path has taken me down a more modern, self-publishing avenue, however, a manuscript, regardless of where it’s going, still deserves to be proofread. If you’re neck-deep in the large and often intimidating world of online writing, publishing, and conferences, almost ready to drown in everything the publishing world has to offer, feel free to send me an email at email@example.com and ask me about my proofreading services. I’ll do my best to make the process quick, easy, simple, and fun.
Why should you choose me?
I really can’t answer that question. Only you can. I can, however, promise you that I’ll read your manuscript more than once and give it all the attention and love I give my own. I can promise you I’ll catch tiny nuances, write them down, and tell you about them. I’ll look for spelling, grammar, typos, continuity, and tell you about anything that doesn’t make sense to me. I have a quick turnaround time (depending on length, of course) and my pricing is competitive. I’ll take a sample chapter and proof it for you and you can decide whether or not you want to work with me. If not, we part friends. If so, then you’ll get all my hard work, dedication, and experience for a lot less than most proofreaders out there. I’m relatively new to the world of proofreading so I don’t have a huge clientele, which is an advantage to you. I’m not too busy for you.
If you’re interested, feel free to hit me up. I don’t have a preference as far as genre, however, I’m most in touch with thrillers, mysteries, horror, and fantasy.
Thanks for your consideration.
So, it’s been three months since the last time I blogged. That’s not as bad as a year. But it’s not great either. I deserve a bit of credit.
Not much new to post. Work on the current wip is slow and not steady. I feel sporadic bursts of energy to work on it. Unfortunately, the story is so much like another book that’s been published, I’m tempted to just trash the whole thing and begin anew. I absolutely hate this idea, however, it will feel cleaner to me and also be the path least likely to bring the comments “Oh, this book is fanfic from that other book.”
No, it’s not. The book my book is similar to was published in 2013 (and I’ve never read this other book). I began writing my book in April 2011 (lots of written proof here on this blog).
I don’t want to have to defend my writing. It’s also a little disappointing that my work is so unoriginal that it’s almost identical to this other book.
I no longer criticize George RR Martin and how long he’s taking to publish his next much anticipated Game of Thrones book. He’s been quoted as saying that he’s suffering from a bit of writer’s block as well as the desire to make it perfect. I can completely understand this now.
Writing is difficult and life gets in the way. My life has gotten in my way plenty of times in the past four years. I am my own worst enemy here.
Also, on a more personal note, I have some changes in my life coming up soon which will probably keep me from blogging or writing. Not that anyone would notice. Change can be both good and bad simultaneously, and I do hope this one is good.
Take care, all. xoxo
It’s been a year since I’ve written a blog post.
I logged in to WordPress (half-fearing I wouldn’t remember the password) and saw the site had completely changed. New buttons, features moved around, layout completely new. Where am I?
I feel a little bit of shame and regret because of my laziness and lack of blogging. There was a time I was somewhat diligent about it. Then I thought; what have I been doing other than writing? And the shame I felt at that answer was even darker than the shame I felt at my absence.
New Year’s resolutions are ridiculous. They don’t work. I heard a statistic the other day that said only 8% of “resolutions” are actually kept. That says something about humanity.
So, I’m not making a resolution. I’m not calling it that. But I would like to promise myself to blog (and maybe write) more and social media less. I don’t know if I can accomplish this feat, however, I would like to try.
So I went to Marcon this weekend. This con took place in Columbus, Ohio at the convention center. I was asked by the one and only Griffin Barber to attend this con because he told me he would be making an appearance there (along with the magnificent Alistair Kimble) and since it had been several years since I’ve seen these two, and the con is only a short drive, I decided to attend.
I almost didn’t. Unfortunately, this con fell on a busy weekend and I almost blew it off due to other plans. It’s a con that’s somewhere between small and medium and it isn’t really a con that falls into my genre. Also, and this is the most unfortunate reason, because I’ve fallen so far out of the writing world that I didn’t really feel as though I belonged there. I’ve fallen out of touch with my writing and wasn’t really sure I was up for a couple of days surrounded by writers and their questions about how my work is going. Work on The Storm and The Other Sky is just under steady, I’m sad to admit, and talking about it exhausts me. I didn’t want to be the downer of the group.
I’m glad I chose to go. Turns out, it was exactly what I needed. Being surrounded by my people again (writers), hearing about their projects, and hearing a few words of praise from Griffin about a story I wrote really did wonders for how I feel about my writing. The drive home that night after saying goodbye to my friends was the first time in a long time that I started thinking about writing again on a regular basis. After a few years of believing that the bulb had burned out permanently, it turns out all I needed was for someone to flip the switch.
As a writer, you never really know if your work is affecting anyone unless they tell you. It’s a very lonely job. Usually, you only hear the complaints. Your work is too violent, too wordy, too long, too this or too that. You don’t often hear the praise. For some reason, when people love something, they keep it to themselves. But people love to spread around what they hate. So, you’re sitting in your office, slaving over every last word you’ve written, wondering if you are the only one who really gives a crap about any of this.
I’d forgotten how great it feels to chum around with writers and talk about the craft. Now that I’ve been reminded, I won’t forget that again.
Thanks Griffin and Alistair, for throwing me the life jacket.
I know, I know…The Storm isn’t out yet.
2012 was a super crappy year for me but 2013 has been worse. I won’t bore you all with the details but take my word for it; this year has been magnificently terrible.
I’m working on it. I hope it’ll be out soon but at this point I’m not making promises. My excuses are lame ones. I’m aware of this. I wish I could elaborate but I don’t dare make it public. I don’t want pity. I just want my life back.
I appreciate your patience. I hope I still have a few readers left when the book finally does make it out. If not, well, I guess I deserve it. Perhaps one day I’ll share my troubles, however, today is not that day.
Lack of content. My site haz it.
There are many reasons behind why The Storm isn’t finished and why the blog hasn’t been updated in so long but unfortunately those reasons are very personal and unloading them here would be highly unprofessional and quite honestly, would piss some people off. As much as I love to piss people off, I made promises that I intend to keep.
2012 has been a very, very difficult year for me, personally. I got divorced, had to move, and basically begin again. I dated someone that meant a great deal to me but the relationship ended. I’m not putting the blame anywhere, it is all my fault that nothing has been accomplished, however all these things have had an effect on me emotionally, psychologically, physically, etc… and my brain had to shut down somewhere. And so my muse went to sleep.
I hope 2013 brings more writing time. I want to bring The Storm to those faithful readers who have been requesting it. Right now, my mind, body, and soul is still healing from the roller coaster ride it has been riding for this whole year. Hopefully these experiences can breathe new life into my work. If there’s one thing I can attest to, it’s that I’ve certainly learned a lot about humanity this year. And most of it ain’t good.
Hang in there. And thank you to those who have not lost faith in me. I appreciate you and you know who you are.
I’m just popping on the blog to let everyone know that work continues on The Storm (it is a very old novel and due to its age, it’s needed a lot of work and attention) but that it’s going well. It should be ready for release in a few months. The cover has already been designed and I’ll release that shortly before the release of the book.
Sorry to everyone for the blogs being few and far between, however, I have been going through some pretty serious life changes and haven’t been able to dedicate the time I need to get a serious foothold on the work.
The next book, tenatively titled The Other Sky, is also moving along well. I’ve been keeping busy.
I hope everyone is enjoying this awesome weather we’ve been having. I certainly have.
This is a delayed post (I clearly suck at blogging) but I wanted to get this out there on the site before too much more time has passed.
This has been a tough year both professionally and personally. My mom was in the hospital for the first half of the year and is now in a home for people with Alzheimer’s, so spending time with her has become a full-time job.
Amongst other things.
Anyway, this post is about the good people. The ones that aren’t full of lip service. Thank you to everyone that has bought or sampled one of my books, has told a friend about them, blogged about them, tweeted about them, or just complimented them. It all helps.
In this big world of disappointments, it’s easy to forget that not everyone sucks.
My sincerest thanks and I hope to keep writing for you in the future.
I was told I needed to do it like this, so here I go:
MY NOVEL, THE DARK LAYER, IS NOW OUT THERE!
I’m actually very excited about this book but I’m very reserved by nature so lots of times people think I’m not excited when really I am. If I won the lottery, I’d probably be like, “Oh, really? That’s cool-one less thing.”
Don’t take my reservation as unenthusiastic-I believe in this book and think it’s pretty darn good. And it too can be yours for the low, low price of $2.99. Whatta deal. You get all my ass-busting at clearance prices.
And, it’s way different than anything else floating around out there in IndieLand. It’s not about vampires, zombies, or the apocalypse. Those things are cool but my story is different. So, if you enjoy a cool horror read that’s more psychological (although the blood runs freely) and character-driven, sample it and see if you might enjoy passing an evening or two with Annemarie, Thomas, Jackson, and the rest of the cast.
I worked very hard on this book. I hired a proofreader and worked with a pro book cover designer. There is hard work and quality in this project. So, for those who have reservations about supporting the indie community, I hope to put those fears to rest. Indies are no different than regular authors; some are hack jobs and some aren’t. Of course, I’m not perfect but nothing is.
I’m thinking of running a contest with this book. I’m thinking a gift card reward might be good since it seems to motivate folks. I’ll post the details later.
Anyway, check the book out and I hope you enjoy it. If not, well, I’m sorry. You can beat me up, I guess.
Links are under the “Books” tab from the top or in the post about Carmody. I’m also still running the ASPCA deal through the end of the week, so there are still a few days left to donate to a good cause.
Take care, y’all.
This is a delayed response…
The winners of the CoffinHop contest on ginapennfiction.com are…(drumroll)
I hope you both are enjoying your Amazon Gift Cards.
Thank you both for participating in the hop.
I’ve been in editing mode for the past couple of months, trying to get The Dark Layer ready for release (many apologies to those wanting to read it-I can’t have it being inferior in any way, which is why it’s late). Finding bad commas, missing words, continuity errors, plot holes, etc… My eyes were crossing but I was getting work done, dammit!
I wasn’t prepared for this story at all. I was content to be in editing mode. At the time, I didn’t even particularly want a new story. I’d been working with my older story for a while and had reached a sort of modus vivendi with it. But this new one made the old one look like a tree sloth taking a nap. It was so perfect! The plot flowed seamlessly. I began to sketch characters in my mind, I saw spectacular scenes in my head, lines of engrossing dialogue. Never, ever before had a story grabbed me so completely or so wholly. I began thinking about this new story all the time, its perfect image burned into my mind and everything started forming so well. The story made sense, everything about it felt parallel to me, as though I was born to tell it, even a possible sequel had been entertained. I jumped into the idea with temerity, my brain an anoesis, that I literally had to take long walks just to pull myself together. For me to be this excited about a story was so unlike my usual self. The feeling was so ferly to me. I couldn’t wait to write it.
But then the story abandoned me.
Literally overnight, the music stopped. My quarter was used and the ride was over. I begged for another go but the stingy old whoremaster that runs the merry-go-round told me to get the fuck off. She even had the intrepidity to pop the happy ballon that had been so carefully tied to my wrist. I walked away, dragging the string along beside me, listening as the story cajoled until I could no longer hear its song.
Sorry to the folks that have been asking where The Dark Layer is. Unfortunately, I’m having issues with the cover image so I’m trying to figure out what to do with that before I can continue. It should be up very soon. I’ll be sure to blog when it’s there.
I’ve been holding out on writing this post for quite a while.
Part of me said to write it would be a mistake; I’ve still not stuck my entire foot in the water of the indie pool, only my toe. Scared, I suppose would be the reason for that, because I don’t like branding myself “indie” or “traditional”. If an agent offered to rep me I wouldn’t say no-I think a lot of indies feel the same-and yet sometimes I feel that I would hesitate before saying yes. The writing world is changing, after all, and not for the betterment of agents. Unfortunately, the problem with agents and publishers, is that they tend to back what’s safe instead of what’s good. Money makes the world go round, don’t you know.
There are advantages to both sides of the coin (traditional & indie). When I stop and think of the advantages of being traditional, it sounds very appealing. No stigma, placement in bookstores, professionals backing and believing in your work and talents, etc… And yet I can still remember the very moment I first learned about independent publishing. At a Writer’s Digest thing a few years ago, this had been. It was a magic feeling of…possibility?
I guess I’m writing this to remind myself that being an independent isn’t as bad or lowbrow as people think, particularly the writers that are vehement about going down the traditional trail.
1.) Rebel – Going indie appeals to my rebellious nature. I don’t immediately dismiss good advice or things that are “popular” just because, however, I do tend to think and consider a little longer than most. I move slower than normal, which annoys the crap out of a lot of people, and I always arrive in my own time. My mother, who was in labor with me for well over a day, will testify to that.
2.) Freedom – Not much needs to be explained here and no matter what side of the fence you’re on, you understand this. There is so much more freedom in being an indie and I’m not just talking about the choices you make for your bookcovers. Your career is yours to cultivate as you wish, like an exotic breed of rose in your own private garden. I don’t have to worry mightily about how something might look to the public. If someone says something I don’t like, I don’t necessarily have to bite my tongue (although sometimes I do, I will admit). I’m allowed to write what I want, say what I want, do what I want. There’s no publicist, agent, publisher, or anyone else there to slap my wrist over a public faux pas. I realize the flip side to this as well, of course I do, but the feeling of not only having wings but being allowed to use them is priceless.
3.) Community – There is a sense of community in the indie world that you just aren’t going to get in the Hollyweird world of traditional publishing. I imagine it’s the same for those who toil under the indie flag in the movie-making world and also the indie music world as well. We’re all in this together. I can recall not so long ago that a traditional author insulted an indie writer and the indie community put the smack down so hard that the traditional author had to issue an apology. Yeah. I kind of like that. Don’t fuck with us. Cause we fuck back.
4.) Trust – It always surprises me how authors are willing to hand over a manuscript that they’ve worked, sweated, cried, and shed blood for rather easily to an almost complete stranger with the “agent” or “publisher” title, and yet we revere our phone numbers and our weight the way KFC locks up the recipe for their tasty fried chicken. Even more perplexing when you consider how many times we’ve never received a formal rejection for a submission, which means our hard work is floating around in the universe of the Internet, for anyone to steal.
5.) No Contract – There is nothing legal binding me or the brilliance in my brain to any particular person or publishing entity for any amount of time. I know we have to click “agree” before uploading our work to Amazon but I think most people know what I mean. I can pretty much quit writing if I so choose-not that I want to-but I like the option of the ability to stop should I go Hemingway and slip a few cogs.
I’d love to hear some thoughts on this. Hope you read to the end. Thx.
I want to pause a moment and reflect on the tragedy in Zanesville. As a fellow Ohioan from the Cincinnati area and writer, I simply cannot help but say a few words about this event.
“Of all the animals, man is the only one that is cruel. He is the only one that inflicts pain for the pleasure of doing it.”
– Mark Twain “The Lowest Animal”
“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” ~~Mark Twain
“There are no wild animals until man makes them so.” ~~Mark Twain
Not really but I thought it would be a hilarious title to the blog.
I was recently interviewed by Jason Darrick of Fear In Words fame. You can read the interview here.
If you say: “I can’t read scary books!”
Here’s my response: Fine, then don’t buy my books.
Yes, you read me correctly.
Don’t buy my books. I don’t want you to. If you can’t handle reading outside your comfort zone, or trying something different, then I’d rather you didn’t buy my books. If the words on the page are going to scare you that badly, then don’t buy or read my books.
I’m totally cool with that and I won’t hate you if you don’t read them. We can still be friends.
There are a lot of authors out there that will feed on that type of resistance. Those authors will pressure you, argue with you, try to sell you.
That’s not me.
I see how some authors are. They tweet endlessly about their books. “All ___ books are now only .99!” “Try the sequel to ___!” “Need a good #paranormal read? Try ___!”
That’s not me.
I’m not speaking disparingly about authors I follow on Twitter. They’re marketing and that’s cool. I’ve done it and and will probably do it again when The Dark Layer is released. But the ones I do speak disparingly about are the ones who only use Twitter as a marketing tool. No one wants to follow a used car salesman. And that’s what you sound like.
I’m not going to beg you to buy my book. To me, that’s demeaning and desperate and unattractive. If you follow me on Twitter, I’m going to assume you do so because we’ve clicked in some way and/or we’ve chatted each other up once or twice. Maybe you followed me for a short while to see if you get a follow back because you feel having a high follower number makes you look popular. If so, you probably unfollowed me in a hurry.
I don’t auto follow back. If you choose to follow me, I’ll read your tweets to make sure there’s some substance there and then, if I see something I like, I’ll follow you back. Sometimes right away, sometimes after a little time.
I’m not your typical indie author. I have an agent in mind that I would love to represent me. If she doesn’t, that’s cool, we can still be friends. But mainly, I write books that I would like to read. I write because it’s what I was meant to do. I write to entertain myself and hopefully a few others. What I don’t want, is for a bunch of people who enjoy YA paranormal romance to buy my book because I’ve practically begged them to do it and then hate it.
Unless, of course, those fans also enjoy adult contemporary horror.
If you don’t like horror, then don’t buy my book. It’s a waste of your time and mine as well.
But if you read the description and think it sounds interesting, give it a try. If you’ve read my blogs and see that I write relatively well and you enjoy my voice and style, give it a try. You never know, maybe you’ve just stumbled upon something. That’s why sampling was invented.
If you say you can’t read scary stories, when in truth you are judging all horror based on the two you’ve read, then you should probably rethink your stance. That doesn’t sound like a book lover to me and you’re not the type of fan I want.
I don’t judge all YA based on Twilight and YA writers should be grateful.
I’m in this for the long-haul. I want fans that are in for the long-haul with me. If you enjoy cold spots in houses, heavy footsteps coming down stairs, supernatural experiences, and fun, then come along for the ride.
If you would rather put your eye out with a hot poker than read a scary tale, then don’t buy my book.
See how easy that was?