I’m sitting here, a little off, not quite sad, but… well, kinda reminiscing, missing certain things from the past.  There’s a word I’m looking for, and I can’t grab it, lol.  It’s on the tip of my tongue, edge of my brain, whatever.  It’s right there.  Nostalgic.  That’s the word for what I’ve been feeling.

A few years ago, I had sisters.  3 of them.  I had a brother too, but him, I still have.  Though there’s SO many days I almost wish I didn’t, lol.  I don’t have friends in my life right now.  And I don’t have my sisters.  I didn’t lose them all at once, it was one at a time.

The first, my half sister that I raised as a baby, a toddler, a child.  She’s not even 10 years older than my oldest son.  She is the perfect princess.  We got along so well, we were the best of friends, until she hit her early twenties and met her (now) husband.  That’s when she became so judgmental it was ridiculous.  She lived the perfect life.  The first of us to graduate high school (me and my brother got our GED’s).  Then came the perfect courtship.  The perfect wedding that I was only invited to in order to please my mother.  The little girl I raised left me out of her wedding party.  And still, she judges everything I do.  After her perfect wedding came buying the perfect house, and a pregnancy.  That ended in tragedy, which somehow made her MORE holier-than-thou.  Then the perfect one had a perfect daughter.  And still, she judges me.  I’ve never seen or met my niece.  I loved that girl with all I had in me.  I taught her to drive.  I taught her to love music.  I took her to concerts.  We share memories, both wonderful and horrible.  And for some reason, she hates me.  She’s the reason we were violated by our probation officer – she turned us in for a decision we made, a decision that was made to help us stay clean.  She turned us in, almost guaranteeing that we’ll both be going back to jail.  And still?  Part of me loves her.  Granted, a larger part of me hates her.  But mostly?  I’m hurt.  I feel betrayed and wounded.

Then, there’s the second.  Not a sister by blood.  She’s the younger sister of my ex-husband.  I kept her in the split, lol… Her too – I took care of her as a young child, 5 and 6 years old.  I held her as she cried when her dad died when she was 6.  And then she moved away… and I missed her like crazy.  At about 11, she started coming to spend summers with me and my ex.  She became my mini-me.  I got her counseling when she was raped.  I was the only person she talked to about it.  I cried with her.  When her mom sent her up to visit at 15 and said she didn’t want her back, I started legal proceedings to keep her.  When it came time for college, she wanted to go to college near me.  So we did the college tours, the applications, the fees, the forms, all of it, her and I.  And she got in to her first choice.  And I made sure her fees were paid.  We shopped for (and I bought) everything for her dorm room.  I was so proud of her.  She was only 15 miles away, I saw her 2-3 times a week, plus her coming home on weekends.  Everyone called us a lesbian couple without the sex… the closeness was unbelievable.  We were best friends.  Her boyfriend moved up, she moved out of the dorm and in with him, and things changed a little, but not much.  It was still her and I.  We were planning her wedding, for years.  I made a decision or two that she didn’t approve of, and all of a sudden, she wanted nothing to do with me.  She didn’t approve of my lifestyle.  She was planning her wedding, on her own now, without me.  Back “home”.  I didn’t even get to see my baby girl, my little sister, get married.  I was in jail when she got married – but it didn’t matter, because I couldn’t have afforded the plane ticket there, and she knew that.  I was supposed to be her maid of honor.  I miss her, too.  I’m angry, I’m hurt, I’m sad.  Now, her and the first (whom she hated for judging me so harshly, for being so cruel to me) have become friends.  And they sit and judge me together.

But then there’s the third.  And that’s the one that finally made the tears spill over, stream down my face.  Shit, I wasn’t gonna cry writing this.  I swore I wasn’t going to.  But her?  My Bob?  That one I don’t understand.  That one  breaks my heart in two.  My half sister, the only one I still consider my sister.  She’s just about a year older than my older son, it’s a bit of a strange relationship, I guess.  But God, she gets me.  She always has.  She’s about 14 years younger than I am, but that’s never mattered.  Her life is hard – so hard I hate to see her have to live through it.  We didn’t need words sometimes.  I could be at the end of a 30 hour shift, trying to type to her in Google Talk – I would look back and have NO clue what I was trying to say, the typos were so intense, nothing made sense – but I could call her and ask her WTF were we talking about… and she could tell me.  She knew about our addiction – I don’t know if she knew how bad it was, but she knew about it.  She has plenty of her own issues – we’d both talked through them so many times, hers and mine.  They call her a cold hearted bitch, just like they do to me.  They don’t understand that we hold it in because we have to – we have to be strong until it’s safe to break.  And it’s not safe to break in front of most people, especially not our family.  She has the same father issues I have, and some of the same mother issues.  She’s my Bob.  We could sit and talk or type or chat for hours.  We could laugh at anything and everything and nothing.  We held each other up.  She was the ONLY person in my family who knew of (and read) both of my previous blogs.  And with her?  I don’t know what happened.  I don’t understand why she gave up on me.  I miss her so much more than the others – they judge her just as they do me, they shun her as they do me.  It was just her and I left out of the four.  I wrote to her when I was in jail – I never heard back.  I emailed her a few weeks ago, and got no response.  I just want my Bob back.  I’ve lost so much – and losing her is probably the worst.  I don’t care about the material things, and to be honest, most of the people that I lost – well, they showed their true colors when they turned their backs on me when I needed them most.  I just wish I could understand why she gave up on me.  I know I fucked up – everyone knows I fucked up.  But don’t I deserve a second chance?  Don’t people deserve a second chance?  Why aren’t I important enough to get that from her?  I thought I mattered enough to her that she could see past my screw up, that she could support me in my struggles to better my life, better myself.  I believed she would stand by my side no matter what.  And it hurts like hell that she’s not here with me.  That I’m going to press publish on this post, and she’s not going to read it.  Because Bob has always been my first reader, my critic, my best friend.  I miss her like crazy.  And I don’t know how to, or even if I can, get her back.  We didn’t have much of a Christmas this year.  We bought for our boys, a little something for my brother (because we take care of him, no matter how bad he screws up – we don’t give up completely on him – though he’s on our shit list right now), and did little stocking stuffers for each other on “Little Christmas” (Jan 6th).  But I bought a little something for Bob – cheap, but in keeping with tradition.  I just wish I knew how to get her back.

So… there were 4 of us, then 3, then 2… and now it’s just me.  Guess that matching sister tattoo we’ve been planning  isn’t gonna happen.  We had tshirts made every Christmas for awhile – custom ones, with a saying, a lyric, a memory, something, along with our names and the year.  I have one hanging in my closet, and instead of making me smile like it did when we bought it, it brings tears to my eyes.

“…and held tight to a promise, only sisters understand…”              

 Bon Jovi~Blood on Blood

“…well if you could see inside my heart, then you would understand… I never meant to hurt you, baby I’m not that kind of man…”                

Bon Jovi~I’d Die For You



Me – The short(ish) version…

I really need to choose a topic for my posts… otherwise they’re probably going to wind up following my typical train of thought.  A to Q to V to R to C to D to L to M… well, you get the point.  I jump around so fast I can barely keep up with myself, so expecting others to would be asking a bit much, I’d think.  But here I am typing my third post, and I haven’t even really bothered to tell anything about myself (other than the fact that I have issues).  So I guess that’s what I’m gonna write about today.  The whole getting to know me, who I am, why I’m here deal.  THIS will be the post that will probably cause most to take off running and screaming :).

So here it is.  These are just the basics – I’m sure as time goes by I’ll go much deeper into each one.

I’m 34 years old, a mom of 2 boys.  One is 18 (the big boy) and is out of school, living with extended family.  He was what you might call a “problem” teenager – serious addiction issues, on probation, in and out of placement – though he’s been like a different kid the past 6 months.  Clean, staying out of trouble, etc., now, he just needs a J-O-B.  The second is 14 (the little one) and lives in a group home for terminally ill/ severely disabled children (that’s a whole series of posts in itself).  I live with my wonderful fiancee, Jeff.  The wedding will be as soon as my (oh-so-long-overdue) divorce from my ex (a 16 year abusive marriage) is final.  The only positive out of that marriage was the 2 wonderful boys.  Both boys have no contact with their biological father, and consider Jeff their dad.  Jeff and I were teenage sweethearts who lost contact for 17 years then reconnected thanks to Facebook… and have been back together ever since – almost 3 years now.  It’s rare to get a second chance with “the one who got away”, I know how blessed we are to have been given that shot.

That was the easy part.  Here’s some of the more… well, intimidating (for me to write about) stuff.

I’m a recovering addict.  And by recovering, I mean working on getting clean, but not quite there yet.  We’re currently (sort of?) homeless, living in a hotel.  That’s because we lost almost everything – the beautiful home we were renting, our car, the majority of our possessions, our enormous rent/security deposit, and our credit for defaulting on all our payments when we were arrested for drug possession and spent 3 months in jail.  That’s only the material aspect of it.  We lost a lot more than that… custody of our (then 17 year old) son, our dog and 2 cats, and relationships with the majority of Jeff’s family and a good portion of mine.  Started this post… Friday afternoon?  It’s now Sunday evening and I’m just returning to it.  Gonna just keep going as if I never stopped.  We were lucky enough to get off with just time served and probation, but we violated probation (another story in itself), and are still waiting to find out the outcome of that.  Knowing the possibility of a multi-year prison sentence is hanging over my head complicates things quite a bit when it comes to anxiety and stress.  But all of that isn’t ME.  It’s not who I am.  It’s something that I did, that I will eventually need to deal with the legal consequences of.  Right now, the temporary consequences are severe anxiety and borderline fear of leaving my hotel room.

I’m not a junkie you’d cross the street to avoid.  I’m someone you’d smile at in line at the grocery store, my son may have gone to high school with your teenager.  Your younger child may be one of the volunteers in my son’s special needs classroom.  Until fairly recently, you’d have bumped into us at Home Depot on a Saturday morning, picking out flowers for the front garden, or a new paint color for the living room (not much of a need for Home Depot trips when you live in a hotel).  Maybe not EVERY Sunday morning, but some – you might sit next to us at church.  We’re a couple, deeply in love with each other, trying to help each other through one of the most difficult things we’ll ever have to accomplish, all while trying not to fall apart ourselves.

It’s truly amazing what the combination of a chronic pain disorder and an innocent prescription for an opiate pain reliever from a well meaning doctor can lead to.  Cross that with a high tolerance for medications and an addictive personality, and this is where it can lead.  And it’s not just me – I can’t tell you how many women I met during those 3 months in jail that were leading perfectly normal, law-abiding, everyday lives, and then came the opiates.  But what do you do when the pain is so bad it leaves you unable to function?  Unable to care for your kids, or hold down a job, or keep up with the house?  You all of a sudden have hope when the doctor says “here, this will help with the pain”… and it DOES help.  All of a sudden you can get up in the morning, without tears.  You can get the kids ready, go to work, clean the house, be a MOM again.  And then you notice that they’re not working as well as they were – so you tell the doctor.  And he increases your dose.  And over, and over, and over again.  Until you’re at the maximum allowed by law, and it’s not enough anymore.  Or the doctor decides that after writing this prescription for years, that you’re taking too much, or he’s being hassled by the DEA for writing too many prescriptions, and he cuts you off.  At this point you’re physically addicted, and not having the medication not only means that pain is back, but you’re sick as hell, going through withdrawal that most people wouldn’t wish on their worst enemy.  That’s when, all of a sudden, unless you can tough out that withdrawal, you cross the line from being someone who takes prescribed medication, to a drug addict and a criminal.

But underneath, I’m still me.  I still love to read, I still love to cook, I still need to write.  I love taking care of my man, sitting around bullshitting and laughing with my older son.  I love cuddling with my kitten.  There are things I want to do again, but the anxiety is holding me back some right now.  Shopping (not that we can afford that right now, lol), walking, driving – that used to be a stress reliever for me.  I’d get in the car, blast some music (depending on my mood), and just DRIVE the pain, the fear, the frustration, the anger, whatever it was, away.  Now, I’m terrified to get behind the wheel.  I do okay when Jeff is driving (sorta) but I’ve become a man’s worst nightmare – a female backseat driver… you know – hon, slow down a little – why don’t you get in the right lane – babe, RED LIGHT (50 yards ahead).  It’s amazing he doesn’t blindfold me and put duct tape over my mouth before letting me get in the car (then again – that might attract some unwanted police attention, ya know?).    I’m afraid to leave the house (read:hotel room, but house just sounds better, lol), so what I do is limited.

And it’s all an endless cycle of my fear holding me back, but the more I let it hold me back, the stronger it gets.  Xanax has become my new best friend – but that’s not the solution I’m looking for.  I’m tired of trying to escape the feelings I don’t want to feel.  I want to be able to deal with them, like a healthy person does.  I don’t want to bury them under a new medication to become dependent on, or addicted to.  What good is it to get rid of the opiates if I turn into a xanax zombie?  None.  But when my heart is racing, I can barely catch my breath, I’m sweating, my thoughts are racing so fast they scare me, that’s what helps calm me down.  For now.  But I’m not going to let it be forever.

Jeff and I both have health issues completely unrelated to our drug use – but let’s face it, using certainly doesn’t HELP our health problems, it more than likely worsens them.  With me, it’s a mix of autoimmune disorders,  psoriatic arthritis and back injuries.  With Jeff, it’s back injuries, osteoarthritis, and liver problems.  Part of getting it together, for both of us, is to get our health on track.  It’s hard to be honest with the doctors about your symptoms and treatments when you’re using.  And if we can’t be honest with them, they can’t do their jobs.

We’re tired of just surviving, covering up the pain, and getting by.  We want to live, to thrive, to ENJOY life again.  We have a ton of shit stacked against us.  But, we have quite a few things going for us, too – we have each other.  While I may not love myself like I should, I love the hell out of him, and want the best for him.  And while he may not always care enough about himself, he’d lay down his life for me – so we help motivate each other.  We’ve been told by many (and will be told by many more) that we’re more likely to cause each other to relapse than to stay clean.  And that statistic may be true.  But we’re determined.  We got out of jail, and thought we could return to our old lives, old hangouts, old friends, old habits, old… hustles, and stay clean.  We were wrong.  Then we thought we could just use “casually” or “socially”.  We were wrong.  So this time, we’re doing it differently.  We’re in a methadone program for the short term, to help us through the beginning.  And we’re changing our lives.  Our friends, our location, everything.  It’s terrifying.  But it’s also so exciting.  A chance to start over, where everyone around us doesn’t know our recent history.  Where we’re not constantly bumping into people we used with, or bought from, or are avoiding for one reason or another.  A whole new beginning.  –And I’ll throw in here, that I know there’s no such thing as a WHOLE new beginning, because no matter where we go, we’re bringing ourselves with us.  And we’ve already proven that we can be our own worst enemies.  Damn, I hate when cliche’s are so freakin true.  But we’re starting over without our recent past constantly being thrown in our faces.  We don’t know many people (maybe 5?) where we’re going.  And I love that idea.  As fresh a start as is really possible.

And this time?  We’re gonna do it right.

I’m all written out – this was a hard one.  I’m gonna start looking for some of the blogs I was so totally addicted to previously and do some catching up…  Maybe I should save that for tomorrow, lol… I tend to get lost once I start clicking through blogs and I’ll be at it all night.

For now, I’m gonna curl up with the kitty and wait for Jeff (one of those nights – car sorta broke down 1/3 of the way home from the city 60 miles away, refused to go above 25MPH, but he somehow managed to coax it home).  Can we be done with drama for the year now?  I realize it’s still January, but still… last year was enough drama for a decade, so enough is enough.


So I know that I don’t completely suck…


My dashboard refuses to change my “tip” at the top of the page, insisting that I update my “About” page so my readers can learn more about me.  Couple issues with that.

First? I have no readers (that I know of, and I’m pretty sure that’s accurate).  I’m okay with that – I haven’t done anything to get this blog out there… and it’s only day 2.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t mind becoming the next big thing as a blogger – writing is always how I’ve wanted to make a living anyway.  I’m not sure how much I’m going to push the blog – whether I want it to become something big (could I even do that?), or just keep it as an online journal to help me to work through all of my issues.

Second?  I’m not sure how much I want my readers to know.  No offense to anyone reading this, really.  If you’ve come back to read more after your first few visits and aren’t leaving me troll-like nasty comments, my guess is we’d probably get along really well if we chatted, or maybe even met in real life.  But my life is very compartmentalized.  Am I going to 100% bare my soul here?  I’d love to.  But I’d also like to allow certain (VERY EXTREMELY LIMITED) friends and family members read this blog.  And there are parts of my life I’d rather not share with them.  If I’m that honest and open, then photos aren’t an option, locations and names will need to be changed.  My life is complicated – and while I realize most people’s lives are, mine’s a little more so.  If you keep reading, you’ll see what I mean.  Think Lifetime movies.  Hell, there are days you’d be better off comparing it to Jerry Springer.

So for now, I’m NOT going to link this blog to my real life Facebook page.  I’m not going to give the address to any friends and family.  I’m going to take some time, think it through, talk it over with my man, and NOT make a split second decision that will eventually turn around and bite me in the ass.  That’s one of my specialties.  I tend to trust to easily, too quickly, to overshare – and then learn (most often the really hard way) that, oops, no, I should NOT have trusted that person.  I do have a hard time trusting people.  A VERY hard time.  But when I find someone I feel like I click with, someone that’s “like me”, someone that could be the friend I’m looking for, I tend to close my eyes and jump in with both feet.  The landing usually hurts like hell.

Until I decide who I’m going to share this with in the real world, there’s so much I need to leave out.  Despite my tendency toward procrastination (okay, I’m being very nice to myself here, highly unusual for me – I am the QUEEN of procrastination, lol), this is a decision I want to make fairly quickly.  I don’t want to be filling these blank white pages with bullshit, just to be able to say that I’ve written for the day.  I want my writing to mean something.  Possibly (hopefully to others), but especially to me.

I don’t really have a direction for this blog (other than personal growth), but that’s not surprising, since I don’t quite have a direction for my life yet, either, lol… Hey, I’m only 34.  I have plenty of time to decide what I want to be when I grow up.  Well, I know what I WANT to be.  I want to be a writer.  I’ve had some short stuff published online.  I’ve even had a short story published (in print) in an anthology. I’ve won a few writing contests.  So I know that I don’t completely suck.  My counselor tells me stating things like that is something along the lines of self-affirmation – to me, it just seems like BRAGGING, and I feel wrong doing it, like I’m being a snobby, (shit, wtf is the word I’m looking for here – better than you, sort of condescending…)

More Later.


Well, so much for a daily posting.  I figured I’d slip somewhere around the 30 day mark, not day 2.  But I did WRITE yesterday, so I’m giving myself credit for that.  Not gonna beat myself up over a technicality.  That’s pretty much an entire post, I just never finished it.  Breaking my own self-inflicted rule of not re-reading what I wrote, I couldn’t have just put a “see ya later” and a bow on it and called it a post.  I had some more to go on that topic.  I guess the best thing to do is pick up where I left off up there…   

So I know that I don’t completely suck.  My counselor tells me stating things like that is something along the lines of self-affirmation – to me, it just seems like BRAGGING, and I feel wrong doing it, like I’m being a snobby, (shit, wtf is the word I’m looking for here – better than you, sort of condescending…)

Wow.  All the words I can come up with here are… well, they’re GOOD.  They’re qualities I want to have, yet when I’m talking about me using/showing those qualities, I mean it in a negative way.  Self confident.  Self assured.  But isn’t there a word for OVERLY self confident?  Yes!!!  Cocky.  Cocky is how I think it would sound.  I really must be crazy.  I’m making a statement.  “So I know that I don’t completely suck.”  And I think that sounds snobby?  Cocky?  Braggy?  Overly self confident and self assured?  I really do have issues, don’t I?  Because if a friend said that to me, I’d be all over her, reminding her of any and every little thing she’s ever accomplished that proves she DOESN’T suck.  Coming down on her for talking about herself like that.  Making her say it in a COMPLETELY non-negative way.  Instead of “don’t completely suck”  I’d insist she say something more positive.  MINIMAL would be “I’m actually decent”, though I’d prefer to hear her say something stronger, like “I’m good – even some professionals agree!!!”.  (I probably wouldn’t be like one of those annoyingly energetic cheerleader-y life coaches.  I worked for one of those once, and many days you could hear the entire team swearing under their breath that if they heard her say “fabu-licious” one more time just because someone completed a basic task, we’d add laxative to her herbal tea.)

Talk about a double standard.  I know I’m not the only one that holds themselves to a standard they would never expect others to be able to reach.  Why do I find it so much easier to beat myself up than to build myself up?  This isn’t news to me, it’s not a surprise, nothing new.  Yet I still haven’t learned (or bothered to apply what I’ve learned, maybe) how to build myself up regularly rather than beat myself down.  I know that I’m not stupid.  I’m capable of  grasping basic (and even some complicated) concepts.  It’s just the ones that have to do with body image, self esteem, you know, silly little things like loving myself and being comfortable with who I am.  Oh, there’s a lot of work to do, and a lot of writing here to go along with it, lol… but for now, I’m going to end this.  Jeff is almost home, and besides, it’s long and rambling enough.  I was going to just save as a draft and come back later, but let’s face it – I’m pretty sure tonight’s going to be a repeat of last night.  Within the next… oh, 30 minutes or so, there is no way in hell I’m going to be coherent enough to write anything worth reading, let alone sit up straight.  If, for some reason, that’s not the case, there’s always the next blank page.

I did it…

Write about the most precious thing you’ve ever lost.

I was going to use one of those “inspire me” on what to write options for my first post.  But this (above) is what it gave me.  And to be honest, shit, that’s what my counseling session focused on this morning, so I’ve had enough of that for today.  Digging deep and dealing with your pain is a good thing, no argument.  BUT.  Sometimes enough is enough, and you know you’ve reached your limit for the day/week/year/lifetime.

And damnit, I STARTED A BLOG.  Granted, I haven’t told a single person about it.  I’ve only written ONE post (and haven’t even completed it, let alone published it).  I haven’t linked to or reconnected to any of my old blogosphere friends or accquaintances that (some of whom) I miss like crazy.  But with all I’ve been going through and dealing with, writing has scared the living shit out of me.  Because once I start, I can’t stop.  The feelings (that I’ve been running and semi-successfully hiding from) come out, my fingers can barely keep up with my thoughts, and shit gets real.  I go back and reread a paragraph only to find something  out about myself that I never knew.   Because until I wrote it, I didn’t admit it, or accept it, or realize it, or whatever.  Writing is my release, my therapy, my breath at times.  And lately, it’s terrified me.  Of course, there’s the usual what if I suck, no one wants to read what I write, what if I fail (because in addition to this lovely little blog here, I’m also going to be working on my first novel.  There, I said it.  Well, wrote it.  But it’s been stated, so now it’s real).  But there’s also what writing does to and for me emotionally.  It opens me up, sometimes rips me raw to the point of barely being able to see the screen through the tears.  But they’re tears of healing, usually.  They may be painful, they may be joyous, but overall, they ARE tears of healing.  And I have a lot of healing I need to do.

I’ve blogged before, under two different “personas”.  The first is one I’d rather not delve into, it was a very difficult, painful, and horrible time in my life.  The second one was one that was a little more about moving on, healing, getting past the past.  But there was still so much cover up.  We wear makeup to cover the flaws in our skin, clothing to conceal the flaws in our bodies.  I covered up a lot in that second blog.  Both times were fantasy… I wrote what I WANTED to be.  How I WISHED things were.  Not reality.  Oh, but I pretended that all I wrote was reality.  Don’t get me wrong, there were some really raw posts that were truly honest.  But I held so much back, I left so much out.

And that’s not what this blog is about for me.  I’m 34 years old, finally growing up.  Since I last blogged, I reconnected (thank God for Facebook) with my one true love, and we’re close to celebrating 3 years together, after 17 years apart.  And he’s helping me rebuild myself after so many years of being beaten down.  He’s teaching me to believe again.  And he’s made me realize that not only does HE deserve a healthy, whole, real me, SO DO I.  I deserve so much more than I ever thought I did.  And this blog? Is going to help me get there.  To the point where I DO believe in me again.  Not just little once in awhile glimpses, but really believe in me.  That I can do what I set my mind and heart on.  That I’m beautiful, intelligent, caring, capable, sexy, strong, determined, and WORTHY.  Not fat, hideous, stupid, cold hearted, weak, incompetent, and unworthy, as I’ve believed for so long.

I wanted my first post to be positive… not about loss.  There’s plenty of time to write about that.  Today?  I’m trying to be positive.  And so far, I’m succeeding.  So now I’m going to do the hard part.  Hit publish.  And I’m going to do it the way I learned that I NEED to do it if I want it to be honest.  I’m not going to go back to the top of this post and reread it.  Because then I’ll change it.  I’ll make it what I think would be more “acceptable”, what would make people like me more, whatever… but I’d change it.  In order for this to be effective (for me, at least), I need to leave it raw.  So – please excuse any typos that autocorrect missed, because I can’t trust myself to go back and fix them without changing other stuff too!!!

Oh – and privately… J – this is for you.  You’ve been encouraging me to write for so long, you understand what it means to me, you love when I do it.  Thank you.  Because without you, I don’t know where I’d be.  But I do know that I never want to find out.