Vegas Love Story

I was only home a few days when news of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas broke. Amid the many rumors, it was reported that the music festival I attended was considered as a previous target. This made my blood run cold. The stage that I called home for 2 straight days was his intended target. I can’t even imagine.

The Life Is Beautiful festival became a special part of my life in 2015, when I attended by myself. The lineup was INSANE!

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One night when I was checking the tour schedule for Twenty-One Pilots, I ended up on the Life Is Beautiful website. Within a few days, I’d spoken to a friend who lives there and purchased airfare/hotel for myself. He worked at one of the casinos on the strip and told me he’d be able to get a handful of tickets.

Two days before my trip, he became unreachable. When I arrived in Las Vegas, there was no one to greet me. Luckily, another friend saw my Facebook post and just happened to be in Vegas attending a business convention. He was kind enough to pick me up and take me to dinner while I began to sort things out. Long story short, I was able to hang out with him during non-festival hours and met some concertgoers from Utah who hung out with me a bit during the festival. The friend I’d originally planned to see never connected with me.

I’d come down with a cold the day before I left, which only got worse as the festival went on. I’m still mad at myself for missing most of the bands I came to see, but that couldn’t be helped. I did, however, get to ride the zip-line which encompasses most of Freemont Street.

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We’re such tourists. I like this photo because you can’t tell I’m deathly ill. I must have taken SO MUCH COLD MEDICINE that weekend. And in my excited state when I was purchasing airline tickets, I didn’t realize that my departure date and time would cut the festival short. Thankfully, I had the chance to return 2 years later.

I did, however, get to see X-Ambassadors, Awolnation, Lindsey Stirling, Weezer, and Big Data. I was also there when The Killers made a surprise appearance as part of Brandon Flowers’ solo set. I saw Rosario Dawson’s talk from the second row (I love her) and stumbled right into the Duran Duran Q & A by accident when I was attempting to leave, take medicine and get some sleep.

By the last day of the concert, my Utah friends were nowhere to be found. I ran into one of them when I was leaving who said they’d all caught a cold. Ooops… I never told her that I was the culprit.

This year, I made my friend Bill go with me. This was the lineup.

LIB-Lineup-2017

Okay, you’re right, he was pretty stoked to go. And he’s an ex-military GIANT, so I felt the safest I’ve ever been.

The night we arrived we met and befriended Zowie Bowie, apparently the best cover band in Las Vegas. I inadvertently picked up the keyboard player, who was a total sweetheart. It’s nice to talk to someone who has so much in common with you when you’re so far from home.

The next 2 days were spent sequestered at the front of the main stage. (At least for me they were. Poor Bill had to take breaks from all of that standing and being pushed up against by thousands of our closest millennial friends.)

After I got to see Muse from the front row (which was the pinnacle of my concert journey), I decided it was time to relinquish my spot. The third day Bill & I roamed around trying to do everything we’d missed the 2 days before. By about 9:30pm, I’d learned that perhaps 3 days is a little much. I passed out well before MGMT and The Gorillaz made it to the stage.

But my point…

My love affair with Vegas began ironically when I was abandoned by my friend who lives there. I was welcomed by every concertgoer I met with open arms. Everywhere I went, I befriended someone new. I never met a stranger.

I remember standing in the middle of the crowd, watching Awolnation and thinking how amazing it all was. There was no place on earth I would rather have been at that moment. Everyone around me was smiling and enjoying the music… just like me. They loved the band… just like me. The whole atmosphere was so positive and peaceful. It was my musical Utopia.

When I went back, 2 years later, it was exactly the same. Everyone was amazing. Total strangers would make a point to compliment me and each other. We were all connected by the same thread… the music.

And it was beautiful.

I’ve attached my favorite images from the experience. Enjoy!

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Dream A Little Dream

I had a nightmare last night. Maybe it was just a bad dream, but unlike most of my dreams, I actually remembered this one and woke up believing it was real.

First I have to give you a little backstory…

A long time ago in the MySpace days, I was asked to do restaurant reviews for a local publication. At the time, I had just finished reading The Between Boyfriends Book by former SATC writer Cindy Chupack and had pitched an idea to the editor of the Dating & Love section. In the last chapter, Chupack discusses the BAD/GOOD date ratio: how many bad dates a girl must endure in order to get to a good one. My idea was to pick an eligible bachelor at random from MySpace and have him accompany me on each restaurant review meal. I would write about my experiences using aliases. By the second date, I had decided to focus my attention solely on the guy I’d chosen and table the article.

I’d been peeking at this guy’s MySpace profile for a while, so I wrote him. I realized that the head shot on his profile was done by a photographer friend of mine who’d hired me to do the makeup and hair for that corporate website session. The guy was shy and I remembered talking him into letting me put a little product in his beautiful, thick hair to give it a little texture. (To be honest, I didn’t recall this detail until I’d been on a few dates with him, but it was a better story than the whole truth, so I told it whenever people asked how we met. Not that I’m encouraging half-truths, but since online dating was terribly taboo at the time, I rolled with it.)

I was tasked with doing a review for a local sushi restaurant. Knowing myself, and my fear of eating strange things, I knew that I had to find a more adventurous, more culunarily-cultured counterpart. This guy just happened to have a photo posted of him eating something strange and raw with chopsticks, so I used it as part of my opener. I sent him a message asking if he would like to accompany me on my reviewing adventure. He accepted. Soon after, we were seen all over town enjoying dinners, drinks and the occasional hockey game.

He was the first guy in a long time that I looked up to. He was smart and enterprising… owning, running and selling several companies and one restaurant. And he was the first guy I’d ever met who could tell me that he was an “Entrepreneur” without making me cringe and immediately think he was selling Amway. I respected him. He had an interesting life of his own and we never had a boring interaction.

Flash forward to present day.

We’re still in touch. We’ve both been through our share of failed relationships. The last for both of us ended last year. I still see him occasionally, as friends… Friends with a history.

I have no idea what spawned my subconscious to create the images it did last night, but they’re still vivid in my mind and I’m still a little shaken up by them.

Years ago when we were in the heat of our off-again on-again relationship, I never asked him to define what we were to each other. He’s one of those people who isn’t fond of PDA or discussing feelings of any type. When he took me to Puerto Rico, he spoke of a long relationship that recently ended. It was the first time I heard any sort of emotion in his voice, so although I really wanted to, I didn’t pry. He was a bit of a conundrum. I loved and hated it at the same time.

Because we never defined “US,” we found each other getting into other relationships, then coming back to each other. Although I kept looking for signs that I would be the next bona fide relationship, I never was. Instead, I was just the person he sought to fill the space in between. Evidently, this has affected me more than I thought.

Last night I dreamed that we’d been seeing each other just like we used to when one day he decided to tell me that he was in a new relationship, so we couldn’t continue. I was crushed. After all this time, I let it happen again. I could feel my heart beating out of my chest as I held back tears while trying to communicate. This time was different. He actually told me face to face instead of just ghosting me. Everything was the same, yet so different. And I was different. I finally found the words that I needed to say.

I told him “I was good enough to have fun with, but not good enough to be your girlfriend? That’s what hurts.” In fact, that has been an issue all along. I kept thinking that one day he would wake up and see me differently, but he never did. Perhaps he never will.

And although I know how much I have to offer, there’s a chance that some people will always blind to it. I was beating a dead horse, and although it’s my horse to beat, I don’t ever want to feel that way again.

I’ve had dreams that were premonitions. I’ve also had dreams that made no sense at all. But this one, although it was difficult, taught me a valuable lesson. My worth has nothing to do with how people treat me. I was tolerating behavior that made me feel less than, and I needed to move on. And just like that, the pedestal I put him on for so long is gone and I’ve finally found my voice.

Voice

SuperCon

So there I was in a line of the sweaty, costumed masses that stretched completely around the Raleigh Civic & Convention Center. My first thought was that I didn’t bring any sunscreen, my second was that I was going to be extremely close to some of my favorite celebrities and I didn’t want to look or smell like a sweaty mess and I didn’t have deodorant in my ridiculously large bag. I’d packed everything else I could possibly need (snacks, portable phone charger, zip up hoodie for warmth, water bottle, extra t-shirt, cash, memorabilia for signatures…) I’d never been to a convention of any type, but I was a damn-quick study.

A guy dressed as batman, driving a convertible replica of the Batmobile (and probably also sitting in a puddle of his own sweat from what I could imagine) pulled up just in time for a tiny joker to appear and leer at him from behind a telephone pole. I giggled and walked past. It was like I was walking through a film set… or perhaps Bizarroworld. Not typical by any stretch of the imagination, but this was MY typical Saturday.

Once inside I felt lost only for a moment, then, as if by magic I was found by multiple people who picked me out of the crowd. (I’ll admit, I wasn’t dressed in a costume of any sort and I wasn’t slogging around in a t-shirt and jeans so I was probably the sorest of all thumbs in the bunch. But THIS, I’m accustomed to.) After I made my way to a restroom, blotted any dew I’d accumulated and taken a few deep breaths to collect myself, I ran straight into my friend John, who in recent months had begun trying his hand at CosPlay photography. He’d been hired to take all the group shots at the SuperCon so although he was busy, he took a moment to show me how to get where I needed to be… I went straight to where the celebrities are.

I’ve always been most at home with them. I think that’s something I’ve always known. They’re just more interesting than normal people. And I’ve always been drawn to those who set themselves apart.

My list included: Gaten Matarazzo (Stranger Things), Jason Mewes (Clerks, Mallrats, Jay & Silent Bob), Emma Caulfield (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, TiMER), Brian O’Halloran (Clerks, Mallrats), and Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy, Big Daddy, Dazed & Confused). I loved ALL of them. Some interactions were a little more rushed than others. Some remembered me and interacted with me throughout the convention. (I even got to hug Emma goodbye and wish her safe travels. She really is the sweetest! I told her about my friend Jenn who named her second son Xander. She said, “Now THAT’S dedication! And we laughed.)

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And Joey… I can’t say enough about Joey. The convention organizers placed Emma and Joey right next to each other and I can certainly understand why. They are both Sweetness and Light. During the View Askew panel while Jason was walking around being ADHD and Brian was being a comedian, Joey just sat back, calmly answered questions (no matter how off-color they were) and just glowed. She has an aura about her that is definitely old soul, but there’s a sweet vulnerability and a touch of “cool kid” that makes you want to hang out with her. In her Q&A, I asked her who was her role model. She responded without hesitation, Deborah Winger. Now I feel the need to watch more Deborah Winger movies.

But the best part was when I told her that ever since I’d watched Chasing Amy, I’d wanted her to be my best friend, she smiled and giggled and we chatted some more. She then took a stunning photo with me. What I hadn’t noticed was that she had personalized my DVD in response to our conversation. Now I’m the one who’s glowing.

When I first heard about the SuperCon, my friend Madeline had sent me a message last weekend when I went to see Kevin Smith at the comedy club. She told me that “Jay and Dante” would be there, which at the time were intriguing but not quite impressive enough for me to be completely convinced. When I saw that Joey was accompanying the boys, I clicked the purchase button immediately. As soon as I saw Emma was there, I knew my decision was a solid choice.

Madeline had a wedding to shoot in Virginia on Saturday, so I extended my ticket purchase to I could accompany her on Sunday. (Sunday was also Joey’s Q&A, so it was a win-win regardless) I got everything I wanted to do for myself done on Saturday so that I could relax and enjoy everything with Madeline on Sunday. It was the perfect plan.

I say this to myself ALL THE TIME. In fact, I honestly didn’t realize that Maya Angelou said it first since I say so many versions of it to myself every day. And in the past 2 months alone, the things that I’ve wanted to change for so long have begun to change more rapidly than I ever imagined. I haven’t been posting because I’ve been running around getting things accomplished. (More on the rest of that later)

I’ve posted before about how I’d planned to make significant changes to my house, and as time went on, I kept thinking of more changes that would be nice to have. Of course, some of these things will need to wait until I set aside enough money to make them happen, but I got lucky and found a great (and HONEST) contractor who makes every effort to stay under budget. He has a hardworking team of subcontractors who are also decent people and that makes all the difference.

My attention was first called to an imperfection in the guest bathroom floor (which has over time gotten worse) by the worst nosy house guest ever. She was one of those people who overstays a welcome and goes through all of your things instead of asking where something is. She also managed to scar up the cord of my brand new vacuum cleaner pretty badly. I still have no idea how people manage to do that. But I digress… This coupled with a few foundation issues made me decide that it was probably time to call in an expert.

This Monday they came in and tore everything out of the guest bathroom so that the floor situation could be assessed. As it turns out, the problem wasn’t in that area at all. Perhaps I’d just had a string of ignorant house guests and roommates who didn’t know how to properly close a shower curtain. Who knows… but the main issue was that there was a slow leak around the toilet and the floor had been patched 3 times, so there were at least 3 different layers of floor. It looked like a patchwork quilt.

I’d taken that day off and it was interesting to see how everything came together. I picked out my floor tile, fixtures, vanity, but none of the wall tile appealed to me so the contractor told me that could wait until Wednesday.

On Tuesday they put down my floor and began assessing the situation under the house.

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Tuesday night (and with SIGNIFICANT help from Lee Ann & HalleAnn) I found my wall tile, paint color, floor grout color and wall grout color. As it turned out, the tile I wanted was extremely hard to come by. Although some of the Lowe’s stores showed a certain amount in their inventory, they ended up having much less on hand. And although I’d promised Lee Ann a fun night of dinner, watching The Bachelorette, and HGTV-palooza shenanigans at Lowe’s, we ended up staying until close trying to find a store that had this elusive tile style so that my contractor would have it ready and waiting for him in the morning. I was already irked that I’d be sending him to 2 different locations instead of just one, but I had no idea of the wild goose chase that would follow.

SIDE NOTE: The tile mason gave me a small piece of the floor tile so that I could match the wall tiles. Lee Ann’s daughter is 6 and to her, this was something cool to play with. It was an honor to get to carry “the floor tile” because it was so very important to our mission. Her Mom made her carry it with TWO HANDS so that she wouldn’t drop it. You should have seen it. She was absolutely adorable.

Wednesday morning my contractor arrived at Lowe’s to find NOTHING. They couldn’t find my order by my name, his name, my phone number, his phone number… He called me and I gave him the item number, after which the Lowe’s employee quickly regained their senses and found the order, yet not the merchandise. *insert audible groan here* He was able to find a box of 10, which we found out upon further inspection (after they made it to my house) were cracked. We ended up using the pieces for edging. As soon as I hung up with him, I called the next store he was to visit to make sure I spoke to someone with some sense. I did. His name was Bobby. He had 40 tiles waiting at Customer Service for us. When my contractor arrived at my house, I debriefed him & went to work. I came home to this.

My tile mason stayed until 8PM and bought us both dinner. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t happen often.

I also forgot to mention that I have 2 doggie cameras installed. I’d purchased them back when I first got Quincy and he had a habit of chewing up things he wasn’t supposed to chew. Now that he’s all settled in, he doesn’t chew up anything, so I hadn’t been putting the cameras to use… until now. *insert devious grin here* BUT THEY WORKED THE ENTIRE TIME! I hardly ever saw a single soul on camera unless they walked by to grab something from outside, which of course only elevated my confidence in everyone. They really are great, hardworking guys… And they love my dog, which is always a bonus.

I did happen to catch my contractor vacuuming my living room, which I thought was both really nice AND really odd. When I got home, he told me that one of his guys had accidentally shattered the globe on the ceiling fan they were installing for me (as a favor). Then the light bulb in my head went off.

 The replacement will be here on Monday… and I’ve made a friend at Build.com.

The remainder of the tile was put up on Thursday and today everything was scheduled to be grouted. This morning I ordered a very expensive vanity light fixture (because all of the others sucked) and it will go perfectly with everything else I’ve chosen.

Just about every day I’ve gone into my manager’s office to update him on everything going on. His most apt remark yet… “When all of this is finished, you may want to live in that bathroom for a while just to get your money’s worth.”

He may be onto something there.

Let’s Do This!

This is what I say to myself every day when I leave my house. I also say a few sweet parting missives to my dog upon my exit as he stares at me longingly from the front gate. These include, but are not limited to, “Take care of the house.” “Go inside. It’s raining.” “Please don’t bring another toy outside.” “I’ll snuggle with you later.” “You’re a pretty boy!” “I love you!” and “I’ll be home soon, I promise.” But all of this is beside the point.

I also seem to have summoned up a sort of theme music. My phone magically starts playing the Pandora app moments after I walk in. This is a relatively new development and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Since I’m also unsure of exactly what is causing it, I just yell at Siri to make it stop and it does… again magically.

For some reason I began this year with renewed energy. I’m not sure if it was the breakup or some sort of unspoken resolution I sent out into the Universe, but I feel as though with the dawning of 2017, I unloaded the behemoth of all things unwanted and began to see the world through newly-opened eyes. Each day is a gift. I have 2 best friends who are complete opposites. They are two of the most amazing women I have ever met and they continue to inspire and bring out the best in me on a daily basis. They are my co-conspirators, my biggest cheerleaders, and I never question that they always have my back.

Right alongside the things I love and am grateful for are the things I’ve started to see completely differently and want to change. For a long time I’ve been reluctant to do weddings. I just flat out don’t like them. People seem to think that on their wedding day, a makeup artist can simply wave a magic makeup brush and transform them into a completely different person than they were before. That’s always struck me as odd. Mark my words. Nothing will make you question your talent or faith in humanity as much as doing wedding makeup.

Granted, I’ve been lucky to have had some amazing brides, and those experiences alone have been more than enough to outweigh the occasional Bridezilla. However, yesterday I decided to take bridal service rates off my website completely… then exhaled deeply. Three hours later (I kid you not), a bride sent me an email wanting to hire me for a HUGE wedding in about 8 weeks. I sent her a polite response and referred her to a friend who just set out on her own and is building her makeup artist business. Pay it forward whenever possible. Absolutely 100%. This business is completely cutthroat and it’s difficult to know who your friends are. But it all comes back. That’s the one thing you can count on.

I’m actually ahead of the game this week. My taxes are done (these are regrettably a last-minute thing, but I’m working on pushing them earlier and earlier each year. #smallwins). I’ve also secured a loan from the bank that will take care of all of the foundation work (GOOD NEWS! My house will not fall into the abyss on my watch!) and the renovation of both bathrooms. This was all done by Wednesday. I feel as if I deserve an award for adulting super-hard!

Today, a newsletter from a professional organizer was sitting in my Inbox. It contains a plethora of fantastic advice. (Yes, I included the link for you… because I’m good like that.)

AND as if the Universe didn’t have my back enough today, I just got the call notifying me that tomorrow morning I’ll be making David McIntosh camera-ready for Fox.

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Both of these men are named David McIntosh. Which one do you think I’m meeting?
If you guessed the pasty, middle-aged guy… you’d be correct. *sigh*
Always the politicians, never the hot guys.

One day…
I’m waiting Universe…

 

Not Today Satan

Today is the day I find out if my house is slowly sinking into the abyss. I have an appointment with someone who is going to crawl under my house to inspect my foundation and supporting beams. A few years ago someone noticed an indention near the guest tub where the floor had caved in. A few years before that, the tell-tale cracks above a few entrance-ways began to form. Since all of my home repair knowledge came from my father, I believed him when he told me, “It’s just the foundation settling. It happens. I just need to put a jack under the house and jack it up.” To this day, that hasn’t happened. And due to my recent DIY and organization streak, the moment of reckoning is upon me.

I bought my house a year after my graduation from college to avoid “throwing money away on rent.” Because I was young and cared more about socializing, buying cute clothes and learning the newest makeup techniques… that’s where the majority of my time, effort and disposable income were spent. To be honest, I had no business becoming a homeowner. Then again, I’m grateful that I purchased my little pillbox house when I did because it’s about a 15-minute drive to just about anything I need. I’m literally in the middle of everything. Nowadays, people pay a small fortune for a luxury like that.

Some people go through life with a checklist. Car, College, Marriage, Dog, House, Kid(s)… My mother told me that I’d meet my husband in college. That never happened. After I graduated, I looked back, thinking I must have done something wrong. I hadn’t.

My parents had a few very rigid ideas about how I was to go about the business of my life. When I was younger, they never allowed me to have any pets except for the occasional hermit crab, fish or gerbil. I was allergic to cats, but dogs were out of the question. Although I was doing musical theater since age 7, art, writing poetry and music… my parents insisted that I get a degree in “business” so that I would have “marketable skills.” They didn’t want me to be a “starving artist” living under a bridge in a cardboard box, which was how they saw anyone who sought a career in art of any kind.

I’m on my second dog now. The first was a gorgeous Pekingese puppy I picked up at a pet store with an old boyfriend. I told him, “When we tell my parents, you gave me this puppy as a gift, right?” My parents eventually warmed up to the little fur ball. They even shed a few tears when he passed away after 16 years of being their precious GrandDog. Now I have a big fuzzy Australian Shepherd rescue. I think rescue dogs appreciate you more because they’ve been through stuff. Adopting that little fur face was the best thing I’d done in a long time. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be loved unconditionally. This little guy taught me how to love and be loved all over again.

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And as far as that “starving artist” stuff goes… I’ve been doing my best to make Mom & Dad eat those words. I still have my “responsible steady day job” that pays the bills, but I’ve been enjoying growing my side hustle. I signed up for this monthly box designed for female entrepreneurs and found out today that the curator lives in the Charlotte/Rock Hill area… only a stone’s throw away! I’ve been messaging with her since I’d been stumbling upon motivational content of my own. She just started her box business in December and it’s already one of the most sought-after on Cratejoy.

Nowadays people are finding (and fueling) their passions in so many unconventional ways. It’s possible to make a living doing things that the generations before us would scoff at. You just have to get out there and find out what really sets your heart ablaze. And be you, no matter what anyone else tells you, even Mom & Dad.

And Love Yourself.

Love Yourself

Why Not?

I’ve pretty much led with that mantra lately and I think it’s getting me places.

  • Email in my inbox about signing up for Citizens Police Academy? WHY NOT?
  • Purchase awesome new kitchen lights and have electrician install them? WHY NOT?
  • Assist male friend on pilgrimage to find perfect prom dress for cheerleader daughter? WHY NOT? (Duh, I know where my talents lie…)
  • FINALLY get someone to come look at my foundation and get an estimate on exactly how jacked up (pun intended) it is? WHY NOT?
  • Buy the jeans in the size that fits me RIGHT NOW not the size I’m hoping I’ll be 2 months from now? WHY NOT?

Yeah, it’s stuff like that, both big and little things. But it’s the things we tend to get hung up on instead of just taking the leap and moving forward. How many unfinished projects do you have lying around your house? How many times have you put something off and it never got done? How many things do you have like this, hanging over your head, taunting you? And how many excuses do you make when they keep not getting done?

I was in the band and worked full time, then I went to esthetician school and worked full-time. Those were my excuses for what seems like an eternity. I still use them to explain the clutter in my spare rooms or my lack of attention to landscaping. I’m sure there are many things I attribute to all those years of neglecting everything else so that I could be a rock star and get an esthetician license. It’s been 5 years now. I’m out of excuses.

Every once in a while, the Universe will give you a little push. Most recently that push was in the form of my dead dryer. It had been 20+ years since a dryer had been purchased for my house. My old roommate had purchased the first one and sold it to me when she moved out. It outlived the washer by a few years, but the day after I knew it was a goner, I ordered a new one on the Internet complete with delivery, installation, and hauling away the old one.

After 2.5 weeks, 2 new dryers, an electrician visit, a ridiculous amount of Google searches, and the kindness of 2 guy friends who were available on a Sunday, things finally resolved themselves in my laundry room. I have the dryer I want. It works. And I completely re-organized the space with bins so that I can reach everything easily.

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The NEW Laundry Room Organization Plan

Now I’m moving on to other parts of my house. If there’s something you don’t like, WHY NOT FIX IT? If you leave it there continuing to make you miserable, you’re only going to stay miserable.

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I set out this year to improve every aspect of my life. So far, so good.