Please, congratulate me on my engagement!

I got everything I ever wanted this past week. On Sunday, Jake and I went hiking. He found a pretty waterfall and hugged me from behind. He pretended he was trying to point to something in the water and asked if I saw it. When I couldn’t see anything, he wrapped his other arm around me to show me the ring and asked if I could see it now. Ignoring the ring, I turned to hug him.

Jake: “Will you marry me?”
Me: “Yes. I will. I love you.”
Jake: “I love you, too… more than anything, not just the normal amount.”

He didn’t get down on one knee. I wasn’t entirely surprised, having known that he wanted to make it official before Thanksgiving. After I said yes, he called into the woods for “Steve” to come out, asking if he got the pictures, because he knows how much I hate the falsehood of staged proposals and he can’t even take a marriage proposal too seriously. It wasn’t Disney, but it was still perfect, because he’s perfect for me.

I called my Gramma to ask if I could bring my fiancé to Thanksgiving breakfast. She completely missed the change in title and went straight to fretting about not having enough time for breakfast and dinner, until I interrupted her to ask that she repeat what I’d just said. She started to congratulate me, then abruptly stopped, saying that you’re not supposed to congratulate the bride.

Me: “Why not?”
Gramma: “I don’t know. They just tell you not to.”
Me: “Who?”
Gramma: “People. They say you’re not supposed to congratulate the bride.”

Naturally, the librarian in me was curious about the origins of this old wives tale and had to do some research. It didn’t take long to find a pretentious wedding site, adorned in classic floral, detailing the long forgotten edict stating that congratulations are indeed considered tacky, when directed at the bride, for they suggest she’s “won” something. While it’s completely acceptable to share this sentiment with the groom, verbatim, even the Emily Post Institute emphasizes the risk of implying that a bride is to be congratulated on “catching” a husband if one forgets the more proper sentiment of “best wishes.” Alright… aaaaand? Why is it appropriate to congratulate Jake on his prize, but not me on mine?

As this blog will attest, I spent years wading through the sea of crap that is the modern dating world and I sure as heck didn’t do it for the joy of being stood up, having my career insulted, my faith mocked, and being solicited weight loss pills. No. I was searching for a husband. I was praying for someone kind, funny, hardworking, intelligent, opinionated, affectionate, strong, and moral and I found him. My whole life, I’ve never felt like the most important person to anyone, and little did I know that that had all begun to change a year and a half ago, when I sat across from a complete stranger I’d met on a free online dating site that was primarily utilized in procrastinating and assuaging my own boredom. Now, I get to spend the rest of my life with the most important person to me and my very best friend. I’ve gotta say, I absolutely hope all of my friends, family, and blog readers will stumble when it comes to this etiquette – which is particularly strange, since it stems from a time when a woman’s primary purpose was to bake and breed – and congratulate me, because Jake is absolutely a prize worth celebrating.

I’ll never be his #WCW.

The first time I told Jake I loved him, it went a little something like this:

Me: “You make me really happy.”
Jake: ::silence::
Me: “Does it freak you out, when I say stuff like that?”
Jake: “What? No.”
Me: “Would it freak you out, if I told you I loved you?”
Jake: ::laughing:: “No.”
Me: “I love you.”
Jake: “I love you, too.”

In the beginning, neither of us was particularly eloquent when it came to sharing our feelings. Jake told me he loved me, in the simplest of ways, with no flowery language. For a few months, that left me feeling pretty insecure and I tried my hardest not to demand clarification, cuz you know, we all hide our crazy.

tumblr_inline_nv3ym4dgog1t03rdh_500

The one time I did ask if he really meant it, it didn’t go over so well when Jake got defensive and stuck his foot in his mouth.

Me: “It’s just… I always say it first. You only say it back.”
Jake: “You never give me the chance! Every eighth word is ‘I love you.'”

tumblr_ncidtcal021sgl0ajo1_500

For realz yo, Jake is at the top of the list of people who are not allowed to speak at our wedding.

Over time, however, I came to realize that Jake truly meant what he said, despite how simply he said it. I didn’t have this epiphany because of the right frequency or combination of words, either. Instead, I concentrated on looking for other evidence of his feelings … and it became blatantly obvious that he loved me.

The night I called Jake crying, because being an adult is hard and he abandoned his hunting trip to be there the next day was probably the earliest proof. When he told me he couldn’t wait to spend the weekend together in another state so he could introduce me to all of his friends was further confirmation. Of course, when he scheduled a ski trip to celebrate the end of my Gardasil shot regimen, which meant we could finally have sex… coupled with the very fact that he waited eight months to get laid, I was convinced. I knew without a doubt, that Jake loved me, even though he’d never shared it via cute text messages, a “no, you hang up first” back and forth, or through the most modern and ubiquitous medium: social networking.

giphy1

That’s right, y’all. In the year and a half that Jake and I have spent together, the most public validation of his feelings he’s given has been by letting me change his relationship status after three months. Now, as an active Facebook user, I’ve posted  many a status and photo with the world, about the fun we have and jokes we share, while managing to keep the emotions light. Jake has never protested, and has made it clear he doesn’t mind… but he’s also never returned the favor. In fact, unlike my high school friends who share little “this song describes our love” links on each other’s wall, Jake saves all of his appreciation for what we have for me and me alone.. and you know what? It feels far more genuine.

When I see that girl from high school tell her husband how wonderful he is, assuming it’s not a birthday or anniversary, my first instinct is always to wonder why I’m reading something so personal. When those sweet, misspelled text message screenshots show up in my feed, I cringe at being included in such intimacy. That feeling increases tenfold when I look at photos of the actual engagement or a video of a pregnancy announcement. It’s like public affection is the sixth love language and the sentiment doesn’t really mean anything unless it’s seen by 236 people from high school, that summer working at the water park, and the sorority you rushed but ultimately decided not to join. After all, if he says he loves you and your family in North Dakota who you haven’t seen since you were nine didn’t read it, did he really even say it?

On the contrary, Jake’s private little Eskimo kisses, his hand on my lower back when we’re in public, his hugs from behind while I’m cooking, the way he grabs me for a last cuddle before I go to work, are solely for me. He’s not showing off for the aforementioned 236 people when he insists I stay in the car while he gets gas. He’s simply showing me that he loves and cares for me. None of my friends or family will ever know, until they see it for themselves… and that’s okay. I will never be Jake’s #WCW, but I will never wonder if the only reason he expresses his love, in his way, is because everyone is watching. There are still times when I ask, point blank, if he loves me more than anything. He gives me the assurance that of course he does and because no one else can hear it, it means that much more.

 

Reigning in My Crazy

If you haven’t been following me since I was a graduate student, you might not be familiar with the fact that I can be a little high strung. Okay, so maybe that was also apparent when I started dating Jake… and then when I started sleeping with Jake… or when I got my new job… or when I realized how much I hate my new job. Know what? Not that big of a mystery. As much as I’d love to be able to, I simply cannot describe myself as a laid back person.

sheldon-hyperventilating-big-bang-theory

I want to, at least occasionally, be the girl who’s up for anything, who just goes with the flow when plans change… and I have been at times. I was that girl when I talked Gail into getting tattoos on a whim. I was that girl when Gail called in the middle of the night to tell me Terry was stuck in a ditch two hours away and I went along for the ride, entertaining her by reading aloud from satirical reviews of Fifty Shades of Grey. I was that girl on all those impromptu nights out with Catherine. I was even that girl when Jake wanted to go on a weekend ski trip in February, with little notice and having never skied. Lately, though… lately I just haven’t been able to muster up the gumption to be that girl, at all.

You see, I wouldn’t say that 2016 has been bad. It’s just been in a constant state of change. When I was 21 years old, I moved for the 10th time in two years. Every time someone knocked on the door, my heart leapt out of my chest, because I was certain my ex-husband had gotten us evicted again. After I left, things settled down a bit, but life wasn’t exactly what I’d call “steady” as I worked two jobs and attended graduate school. When I graduated, I was promoted to half time librarian and my pay at the library nearly doubled, but I was still dependent on my substitute teaching check. The harrowing world of dating wasn’t exactly a balm to my nerves, but I was no longer a student, so it was still an improvement. Then, I met Jake and was promoted to full time Supervisory Librarian. Finally, I would have the chance to settle in and get comfortable… except that’s not what’s happened at all.

Jake is wonderful and everything I’ve ever wanted, but his work schedule and the distance have been an endless battle. I thought his quitting the oil field might free up some time, but until he gets a job in the city, he spends his weekdays in another state working on the Granger Ranch. As for me, $50,000 a year in one of the cheapest states in the country sure has been nice, especially with all that health insurance, but… I hate being a manager. Here I am, almost one year from the announcement that I’d been promoted and everything was falling into place and I’m back to my “please let me get the job” prayer mantra.

tumblr_inline_nadct1xhvy1reeei1

Life certainly isn’t as stressful as the days of packing up all of my belongings in four hours, before the landlord calls the police. It’s not even as stressful as working two jobs and relying on the Almighty for health insurance. A surprise middle management position, major relationship milestones, months of illness, a year and a half of schedule conflicts with the love of my life, Jake’s unemployment, and now both of us applying for new jobs, however, does not a laid back Belle make… and I’ve gotta admit, my crazy’s becoming harder and harder to hide.

A few weeks ago, I lay on Jake’s bed, distraught:

Me: “Everything’s in flux and it has been for so long. I just feel like there are no constants anymore.”
Jake: “I’m a constant.”

The only reason he gets away with putting his foot in his mouth so often, is because when he does say the right thing, he nails it.

The next weekend, Jake walked through the door as I announced:

Me: “I’m getting an elective C-section.”
Jake: “Please stop reading those articles.”

After a weekend of arguing about C-sections versus natural birth, I ended up in tears and Jake finally asked the obvious question.

Jake: “Why are you so upset about something that’s not even happening for at least two years?!?”
Me: “Because you told me just last week that you’re absolutely opposed to elective C-sections and I agreed with you. Then Catherine and Laura both told me that natural childbirth will rip you in half and to definitely get a C-section. You have such a big personality and you’re so opinionated that I figured if I started arguing about it now, I’d have a better chance of winning!”

tumblr_inline_odbcvh226f1qafrh6_500

Jake: “Okay, I promise you that when the time comes, I will consider all of the options, if you’ll promise me that you’ll stop reading those articles.”

He also has the patience of a saint.

My irrational fear of eventual childbirth all started when my (former) OBGYN brushed off my birth control side effect concerns, despite my months of pain. Fortunately, though, I had better luck with my new chiropractor… after my hip popped out of place the morning of Jake’s birthday… because I bent over to pick up a pair of shorts.

8ncezo

One of the things no one ever really talks about, when they’re busy glorifying living alone, is how much it sucks to be hurt or sick and not even have the luxury of company. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something about being alone that amplifies any and all ailments… though apparently not nearly as much as finding out that I didn’t get that job I wanted.

I admit, the day I found out that I didn’t get the Cherokee job, I hit a breaking point and had something of a meltdown. While Jake is great at being supportive in person, he’s simply at a loss when his verbal skills are the only arrows in his quiver. Through a haze of pain, I babbled incoherently into the phone about hating my life, which I’ll admit was needless melodrama, but days earlier my hipbone was tucked behind my tailbone while I grimaced through a fishing trip. I’ve been under a lot of stress y’all.

Here I am, though, with an empty uterus and realigned spine, declaring that I will take the rest of 2016 in stride!

I will stop working myself up over Future Belle’s problems!

I will do my best to accept that the ever changing landscape that is my life these days, will ultimately lead to something good!

I will stop taking advantage of the fact that Jake is experienced in the management of high strung, over-achieving women!

I will reign in my crazy and I will force myself to enjoy my favorite time of year, because I will be that girl who goes with the flow!

imsuperchillallthetime

How Alcohol Poisoning Reminded Me How Good I Have It

Jake and I had a great day on Saturday. We went to a festival in Springfield, ate fried food and candied nuts, watched Netflix, and then walked around the park to make up for the calories we’d consumed. We had a pretty low key night ahead of us, when I checked my phone to see that Catherine, Laura, and Gail were calling me out for a night on Catherine’s patio. I’d promised I’d come, even last minute, if they sent me the invite and Jake, in all his good ol’ boy charm, was game, especially since Gail’s Terry would be there, so he wouldn’t be the only cock in the hen house. Conveniently enough, we’d just been to the liquor store and were more than prepared for this BYOB with whiskey and coke and the small bottle of Strawberry Smirnoff I’d bought to mix with Fresca… only I’d forgotten the Fresca.

fangover-drunk-sookie

I remember a great deal of the night. I remember Jake arguing politics with Catherine. I remember sitting in the grass with Laura, talking about her marriage. I remember making fish sticks when we got hungry drunk and walking around the block. I remember teasing Gail about her newfound veganism and Terry about their five year engagement. I remember playing on Catherine’s daughter’s swing set. I’m so glad I remember all of that, because I had a great time… until I didn’t.

You see, I also remember judging my shots without a glass and drinking straight from the bottle. I remember wondering why I wasn’t feeling it more. I remember feeling good and drunk and then thinking I really didn’t want to be any more drunk, but that I didn’t have to worry, because the bottle was empty anyway. I remember Laura realizing this and making me stick my finger down my throat… Jake trying to carry me inside, after Laura’s failed attempts to rouse me… and throwing up. I remember that last one the most. The rest of the night was just a blur of pain and humiliation… and apologies, because y’all, I am a grown ass woman. I have no idea what I was thinking. I haven’t even been close to that drunk since the summer of 2011, when Gail, Malik, and I decided to mix shrimp and peach vodka to celebrate my new apartment. Even then, I had an excuse in the fact that I’d lost about 60 pounds and had no concept of my new tolerance. I’m 29, not 19. I don’t even get drunk enough to be hungover anymore, let alone lose the ability to stand or speak. I’m not that girl. I chase chick beers with water and ibuprofen, not vodka with vodka… and thank goodness Jake and my friends know that…

tumblr_n45i65kqpc1rli1a8o1_r1_250

… because through all the misery and mortification, what I remember most clearly was Jake and Laura working to get me inside and clean up any mess in Catherine’s house, all while assuring me that I didn’t have to apologize and it was okay, that I’d be okay, because losing that kind of control is terrifying. Ashamed, I begged them not to laugh at me or tease me. Laura spoke in motherly tones while cleaning up vomit. As I dry-heaved, Jake held my hair, rubbed my back, and told me over and over again that I didn’t have to be sorry or embarrassed, because he’d done far worse. The two of them sat in the kitchen sharing their own cringe-worthy drinking tales as I fell asleep on Catherine’s couch.

I woke a few hours later to find Jake in the kitchen and told him I wanted to go home. After 30 minutes of gathering my stuff, we headed out, before Catherine, Gail, or Terry woke to witness my shame. Jake helped me up the stairs and onto the couch, where he was once again unbearably sweet to me as I recovered from just that short trek.

Me: “I’m so sorry. Thank you for being so nice to me.”
Jake: “You don’t have to be sorry.”
Me: “Will you be nice to me tomorrow, when I don’t feel good?”
Jake: “I will always be nice to you.”

Still drunk, I showered and changed as sunlight filtered through the window.

Me: “I’m so sorry. Are you going to break up with me?”
Jake: “I wouldn’t dream of breaking up with you.”

That afternoon, Jake came into the living room to find me with a throw-up bowl in my lap, texting Laura a thank you.

Jake: “How are you feeling?”
Me: “Bad.”
Jake: “Well, the good news is, you don’t have to worry about how many calories you ate, yesterday.”
Me: “I’m embarrassed.”
Jake: “Oh, I’ve been much more embarrassed. Do you remember what you drank to make you so sick?”
Me: “All of the vodka.”
Jake: “Were you just drinking straight from the bottle? Did you think you were a saloon owner in an old western?”

93997-waco-kid-drinking-gif-blazing-fwvg
There is no way I would’ve had more than a fourth shot, had I been using a shot glass, let alone a sixteenth.

Gail texted to ask what time I’d left that morning and I realized that Laura hadn’t told anyone about the events of the previous night. She’d kept my humiliation private. Jake spent the rest of the day watching Harry Potter with me and taking brief breaks to check on the Cowboys game, as I failed to keep down pretzel sticks and water… and wondered how I got so lucky to have such amazing people in my life. Those two are both getting homemade peanut brittle this weekend.

Being Single is Hard

I’m not single and I haven’t been for quite some time. I met Jake last June and I wouldn’t have called myself single past August or so. As Jake and I move closer and closer to marriage, shopping for rings and spending more and more nights together, though, I’m starting to realize how much harder it was when it was always just me.

bddf2560-2c89-0132-094e-0eae5eefacd9

I’ve shared, previously, the number of blogs, articles, and comments I’ve come across on the difficulty of marriage, which are usually followed by new parents telling me I ain’t seen nothin’ yet. I have a lot of friends who have been sharing this article on the difficulty of parenting on Facebook and I applaud the author for choosing not to discuss how easy everyone else has it… because that’s all I ever hear about being young and on your own. I don’t know if everyone is simply looking at their past through rose colored glasses or if young, single people feel pressured to insist that their lives are fulfilling in every way, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard or read a discussion on how truly difficult it can be to be alone.

Now, I’m certainly not pitying those enjoying the single life and the freedom that comes with it. I had a great time going to movies alone and enjoyed many all night Vampire Diaries marathons over the sound of a whirring sewing machine, when I was single. When Jake visits his parents or goes to Wellston for a few days, I even try to remind myself to enjoy the last chances I’m going to get to be, well… a little bit single. It’s a great time… but it’s also a tough one and no one ever gives anyone credit for the strength it can take…

… to be the sole earner.

giphy2
As a single woman with an advanced degree, my entire adult life has been something of a financial struggle. In college, I was married to a man who refused to work, so perhaps I had a skewed view, but everyone remembers those years as the Age of Ramen. After I received my bachelor’s degree, however, that stage had already ended for most of my classmates and not because they got jobs, but because they got married.

As I entered graduate school, more and more of my high school acquaintances were choosing to stay home with their babies. These women posted funny YouTube videos about how their friends without children knew nothing of responsibility as I worked 13 hour days and came home to finish a research paper while eating off brand spaghetti rings, because who am I, the Queen? I still don’t buy the name brand. I paid for everything on my own, from my rent, electric bill, and groceries, to the rare nights out with Gail. Student loan payments, car trouble, chiropractor visits, that time my phone was stolen, my $70 asthma inhaler, trips to the vet… they all fell to me, while my peers showed off their new houses and $300 highchairs and longed for my stress free life.

As a successful young woman, I can’t discuss money when sharing my desire for marriage and family, without giving people the impression that I just want a man to take care of me. The women I’ve mentioned above had their own financial hardships. I understand that, I do, but they weren’t solely their burden or responsibility either. When you’re on your own, you’re the only one available to talk yourself out of that designer purse or that second drink, because you’re the only one funding the inevitable emergency. At the end of the month, it’s just you and whatever remains in your bank account. While this is a really great learning opportunity, it’s also really scary. It’s almost as scary…

… to be the sole everything else.

multitasking
American culture has grown strangely proud of poor time management skills, with everyone from stay-at-home-moms to childless professionals competing to see who can claim the least amount of free time. Never was this more apparent than when I rushed home from a substitute teaching job to take my dog outside, before heading to the library, where I worked circulation until 9:00. When I’d get home at 9:30, it was often to an apartment that looked like an F1 tornado had hit it.

When you’re living with another person, it’s easy to take for granted the things that get done with little to no effort on your part. When Jake and I are married, whoever gets home first will start dinner. If one of us has more free time in the week, we’ll help the other out by doing the laundry, vacuuming, or mowing the lawn. If the Internet goes wonky, there will be two people who could potentially take the morning off to wait for the service call, and two people to compensate for any lack of income that might cause.

When it was just me, every day, working two jobs, I was lucky if I had the energy to microwave dinner, let alone clean up the kitchen or do the laundry. Thank God I didn’t have a lawn. Two years ago, a day off of work to wait for a service call could ultimately have been the difference between being able to afford that Internet or not. Even something as simple as company has become a given, now that I’m in a relationship. It’s easy to forget all those times I ran to the drug store sick or went home after a bad day to an empty and lonely house, now that someone’s available to pick up the prescriptions and cuddle up to during bad Netflix movies. It’s almost as easy to forget how hard it is…

… to have to face the unknown solo, with a smile on your face.
Zetus lapetus, dating sucks. If there is one aspect of being a single twenty-something that none of us feel compelled to talk up, it’s dating and that’s because no one looks back on it fondly… unless they just didn’t do it for very long. I remember getting ready for what was unsurprisingly another dead end date, with Gail’s help, a few years ago. She told me how, although she loves Terry, she sometimes misses that feeling of anticipation and excitement. In hindsight, I’ll admit, there were times when it really was exciting. Toward the end, however, it was just… emotionally exhausting.

The entire time I dated, I felt like I wasn’t allowed to admit that the one thing I wanted more than anything was a loving husband and children. I didn’t want them immediately or solely, but it was a goal of mine to be well on my way by the time I was 30. For some reason, I was supposed to leave something so important up to “fate” or “timing,” while being told my career goals were only subject to effort… even though the former was dependent on how one random person felt about me and the latter hung on how several very specific people felt about me. As a result, not only was I terrified that I may never attain what mattered so much to me, but I felt like I wasn’t even allowed to discuss it, for the sake of all womankind.

Not every woman shares my priorities. Some focus more on career or travel or general life experiences, but most people want to eventually find someone to love and care for and with whom to make all the big life decisions. There was a time when making all of those decisions by myself was freeing. Eventually, however, what I yearned for was a little less uncertainty in the world, some assurance that I would eventually put down the roots I wanted with someone I wanted. In your twenties, there are a thousand unknowns in your existence and when finding someone is no longer one of them, you feel a little more grounded, because you’re not facing the other 999 alone.

giphy3

I look fondly on the time I spent single, because I made a genuine effort to enjoy it while I could. I had a great time thinking only about me and bettering myself and my career. My Gramma once commented on how exciting it must be to have my whole life ahead of me with all that freedom and all those decisions yet to be made. She was right. It was and still is very exciting. It’s also a lot to take on alone, because no matter how many amazing friends and family members you have, it’s not the same as being in a committed relationship. I don’t doubt that being newly married, having young children, or raising teenagers is stressful. I imagine every stage has its battles and tears. I just get really tired of hearing about how the post college, pre-marriage stage isn’t one of them… because going it alone is, quite often, really very hard. I hope I never forget that.

Why we aren’t looking at porn…

Jake and I engage in a lot of good natured bickering and teasing on any given day.

Me: “It’ll work! We’ll tie the rings to his collar and point a laser down the aisle!”
Jake: “There is no way I’m tying expensive jewelry to a cat!”

Occasionally, Jake sticks his foot in his mouth and genuinely offends me.

:: watching American Horror Story – Jessica Lang sprays perfume under her dress::
Me: “What did she just spray on her vagina?”
Jake: “Probably Binaca. You should try it, sometime.”
Me: “Excuse me?!?! Did you just say ‘It smells like fish in here’?!?”
Jake: “NO! That’s not what I meant! I meant because it will burn!”
Me: “So you want me to burn my vagina?!?! That’s your defense?!?!”
Jake: “I was kidding! It was a joke!”

It’s rare that we have anything resembling a fight. He gets annoyed with me when I take one of his games out of the XBOX One and set the disc aside. I get annoyed that he’ll lecture me on this, while leaving his headset in the floor, where I can step on it or the cat can chew it up. He stands behind me when I cook, making what he thinks are helpful (read: patronizing) comments until I tell him he can cook it himself and he apologizes… then continues to instruct me on how to cut an onion. I hate folding laundry and Jake hates searching through the basket for underwear. I refuse to spend money on new linens, when I know we’ll be able to register for them in a few months and he’s tired of drying off with ten-year-old threadbare beach towels. We may not fight, but we are two adults who’ve lived alone for several years, so I’m anticipating a dozen more small annoyances and probably three or four genuine arguments in our first year of marriage…

new-girl

… but pornography will not be one of them.

– cue societal head pat ::here:: –

I know, I know. Aren’t we adorably naïve? Everyone watches porn. It’s healthy to watch porn. It’s healthy for couples to watch porn together. One Google search will bring numerous articles about how entirely harmless pornography is and how it can actually benefit your relationship. HuffPost even attempted to write an article defending the trend, without looking like they were actually defending the trend.* Well… I call shenanigans, because I also found articles on the health benefits of gummy bears and donuts. If someone wants to justify their choices, they will and the determined ones will find citations.

Before Jake and I started having sex, I clarified that I understood that an adult needs an outlet. Since he wasn’t getting that from me, I required neither denial nor confirmation that he was looking at pornography. Once we were sleeping together, however, I wanted to be the only one sharing that kind of intimacy with him. I wanted to be the only woman he saw naked. In turn, though it was only on rare occasion I watched porn myself, I promised to give it up as well. Jake agreed.

I do have a moral objection to pornography, but humans are both curious and sinful creatures, so I admit, I’ve watched it. Even then, however, I would go through phases, and not by chance. The cycles always ended, because I would begin to recognize how pornography could be addictive… how people could spend more and more time viewing to get the same response… how imagination could stop being enough. Furthermore, after Jake and I started dating, I understood that if I regularly watched porn, there might come a time when reality couldn’t hold up to the fantasy. Unlike my cheesy romance novels, these clips held no other appeal or purpose. There were no relatable characters in a story of boy saves girl, building up to a few raunchy scenes in the midst of their unrealistic, yet compelling, drama. It was just one quick high after another, with no fantasy world present to remind me that this isn’t what sex looks like.

tumblr_mbyfbn048f1qfsabpo1_500
This is.

Just a few weeks ago, there was a news story about a teenage boy arrested in Shetland for distributing child pornography. I’ve likely substituted this child’s class and now he’s a sexual predator, because while sexual curiosity is still a healthy and natural part of human development, the ubiquity of the Internet has tainted it. This is true for teens in a shocking and disturbing way, as quoted here from PsychCentral:

“In the absence of any context, and without having learned about or known healthy sexuality, children may experience depictions of sex as confusing and take the images they see to be representative models of adult behavior. They are thereby introduced to sex before they are ready through images they do not understand, which often involve sexual deviations, and sex detached from relationship or meaning, responsibility, and intimacy.”*

Fortunately for Jake and I, we came of age when finding porn online meant exposing your curiosity to your parents, because the computer burst into flames from all the viruses you inadvertently downloaded. When we were teenagers, getting a hold of porn was tough, probably more so for Jake, being three years older. In fact, just the other day, he was telling me about the VHS tape that circulated his high school. One VHS tape was Jake’s first exposure to pornography… and I’m quite comfortable with that, because we agree that as recently as 15 years ago, porn was probably more or less psychologically, if not spiritually, healthy.

While I’m certain that I would never be comfortable knowing Jake sought sexual stimulation from women other than myself, that’s not the reason we’ve recently reaffirmed our decision not to look at porn. I’m just not convinced that any kind of healthy relationship with pornography is sustainable in the year 2016. Sure, some people use it to enhance creativity in bed, but there are other ways to get ideas: friends, romance novels, sexual health literature, blogs… none of which risk developing an addiction that can cause either of us feelings of rejection, betrayal, depression, abandonment, isolation, loneliness, or humiliation.*

A police chief in New York first exposed himself to child pornography while preparing for a sexual abuse awareness program he taught to children. Over time, he developed a genuine curiosity and interest, because that’s how the human brain works.* I know, I know, we’re not talking about child porn… but who seeks out radical and disturbing porn from the start? No one. Exactly no one Googles “gang bang” the first time they ever look at porn. They start the same way everyone does, with a clip here or there… only to realize that the same old vanilla stuff has gotten old. Pretty soon, they find themselves on RedTube watching what they’re pretty sure is not an actual gang rape, because porn addiction works the same way drug addiction does, according to this peer reviewed study.

“Neural differences in the processing of sexual-cue reactivity were identified in CSB subjects in regions previously implicated in drug-cue reactivity studies.”

I’m not denying that there are individuals and couples who currently have a psychologically healthy relationship with pornography. I’m simply saying that they’re putting themselves and their relationship at risk, in a world where porn is so readily available. I’m saying, why court trouble? As I mentioned in my last post, I hear about how hard marriage is all the time. We have a lifetime of ridiculous and legitimate disagreements ahead of us. I’ll piss him off and he’ll make me cry. I’ll be passive aggressive and he’ll be a stubborn asshole, because neither of us is perfect. We don’t need the battle that is pornography, so we’re making the decision to abstain from the beginning, to choose only each other for our sexual needs. Now… if only I could cut an onion in peace…

d-1

He’s only crying, because someone’s criticizing him.

Citations

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sandra-lamorgese-phd/is-porn-healthy-or-harmful_b_8515402.html

http://psychcentral.com/lib/teens-and-internet-pornography/

http://www.psychguides.com/guides/porn-addiction/

http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/23/justice/new-york-police-chief-arrested/

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0102419

Why Everyone Needs to Stop Telling Me Marriage is Hard

Maybe it’s just my Facebook friends or the blogs I follow, but it seems that the Internet has devoted itself solely to telling me how hard marriage and motherhood will be, lately. Just the other day, Lacy told me how it irritates her that so many people “glamorize” motherhood. Um… I must be reading a different Internet or talking to different moms, because from what I understand, birth looks like this…

alien-gif

and motherhood looks like this.

tumblr_o69pofhaxi1s1v3r1o1_500

I had my IUD inserted Wednesday and after two months of Summer Reading in a library full of unattended rabid babies, I was tempted to ask the doctor to shove a whole fistful of Mirenas up there, just for good measure. Add in that Facebook post about your four-year-old threatening to throw her dinner plate across the kitchen, those memes about how moms never use the bathroom alone, and passive aggressive remarks about your baby daddy’s XBOX usage and I’m rethinking my entire position on parenting. People make parenthood sound miserable, because all they do is bitch… and the same goes for marriage.

Jake and are getting married. We’re not engaged, because his job is in flux and his hours suck, but we’re no longer speaking in terms of “if”, but “when.” While he still speaks in the hypothetical to his parents, his sister has invited us to attend a marriage seminar at her church, with her and her husband. We’ve discussed dates and venues and argued about how insane it is to suggest an open bar for 200 people, because I’m apparently dating one of the Windsors. No money has been put down and no rings have been bought, but we’re in agreement that it’ll likely be official by the holidays… and that’s wonderful… or at least it would be if I wasn’t constantly hearing comments and reading articles about the impossibility of marriage.

I know, I know, these comments are generally coming from good people who mean well and 80% of the time, I’m more than happy to look past a person’s words or actions and analyze the intentions. Then, why does it get to me so much this time?

It’s just all so generic and… cliché.
I’m getting countless marriage related Facebook ads. I don’t know if it’s because my relationship status changed approximately a year ago or if it’s the fault of all those times I’ve Googled barn venues while bored at work, but nearly every suggested article is about engagement, weddings, or marriage. There was also that one about joining the “cat lady” subscription service, which felt like an implied threat, if I don’t get married yesterday, but generally they all have titles like “7 Things to Discuss before Getting Engaged.” Spoiler alert: children, religion, money, sex, location, family relations, and career should all be discussed before planning to spend the rest of your lives together. Zetus lapetus, I should light a candle at Mass for HuffPost, because I nearly saved that talk about my absurd student loan debt for the honeymoon!

Wait. No. We brought up religion and career before we met, family and kids and location on the first and second and third dates, sex on the sixth, and finances after three or four months… because we aren’t complete morons.

giphy2

What the fuck do people think we’ve been doing for fifteen months? Is it really so preposterous to think that in lieu of spending the first year having sex, we’d choose to actually get to know one another, discuss our goals and values, introduce each other to friends and family, and really assess whether or not we could build a life together? Must people actually be told that they need to discuss these things? Does anyone actually find this advice helpful?

It would’ve been nice if someone had told me that birth control could make me sick enough to Google how to cope with chronic pain. I’d have liked a heads up that him turning me down sexually doesn’t mean I disgust him, before I burst into tears while naked in bed about how I’m bad at sex for not understanding these things. It would be great for someone to write an article on how to explain to your future mother-in-law that you’re not inviting your own mother to your wedding. I’d love a how-to guide on letting him take the lead in a traditional relationship without occasionally feeling like I’m being steamrolled. An article with that combination of information wouldn’t appeal to the masses, though, because not everyone needs the same things. 

People assume everyone needs the same things.
Gail and I have been through some frighteningly similar life events, from marriage and divorce to lost babies to money, dating, and career struggles. Interestingly enough, however, these things have shaped us into very different people with completely different needs. Gail needs to know that she is always in control of anything pertaining to her. She needs to be asked not to do something or have it suggested that she might benefit from a specific choice. I need to know that I’m with someone who will take charge and make a decision. I need to know that he cares enough to tell me that I need go to sleep when I’m blubbering from job stress in the living room in the middle of the night. Gail needs to know that she is still in control of her life and I need to know that I’m with someone who will take an active part in our lives. The concepts aren’t mutually exclusive, but our priorities drastically differ… and that is okay. 

tumblr_m1urjpmfpn1qch6abo1_500

I have several friends who will openly admit that they wear the pants in the family, others who insist that both people are equal, and some who believe the man should be the head of the household. None of them are wrong. Just because one perfect view of marriage means the woman works 70 hours a week and the man stays home with the kids, doesn’t mean the opposite is archaic and degrading. We’re all so quick to point out that there is no right way or wrong way to parent, but no one ever says this about marriage. They just talk about how hard it is in general terms, because everyone has different needs and therefore different struggles. I’ll never have to worry about crying in frustration, because Jake won’t put down the XBOX controller and discipline his kids or help me around the house, but I will cry after a ridiculous fight over the fact that I threw out a carton of expired milk without even tasting it first. My marriage will not look like anyone else’s marriage, so they really can’t give me advice about the ways in which it will be hard.

I’m divorced.
It’s actually pretty cool that everyone in my life seems to have completely forgotten about the four years I spent married to Lord Voldemort, but it’s still one of the primary reasons that receiving generic marriage advice gives me such a burning desire to be a patronizing asshole right back. Oh, he left a glass by the sink?

giphy3

You know what my ex-husband left?

My ex-husband left…

  • … a lawn full of dead pets after he burned our house down.
  • … me alone while I miscarried.
  • … my dog chained to a wall for a week, while I was on vacation with my mother.
  • … a window unlocked after our divorce, so he could break in and steal things to sell.

I could go on, but I’m not actually trying to belittle anyone else’s marriage struggles. Yes, being treated like a house elf for twenty years is a legitimate problem, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to trivialize the pain I suffered. I know that marriage is hard, but the broad reasons cited are usually ones I’ll gladly face if it means my pets are all alive and well at the end of the day. So, if you don’t want a copy of the fire report, while we compare marital woes, then…

635969533070509067-1407615159_tumblr_m2qbq9dd211r31ngfo1_r1_500

But… again, I know these comments are generally coming from good people who mean well. There were things about their own marriage that genuinely surprised them and they want me to be prepared. That is so very kind of them and I hope they’ll invite me to the marriage seminar at their church, lend a supportive and non-judgmental ear when we do have struggles, and tailor their advice a bit more specifically to the situation and people involved. Most importantly, I wish they’d just celebrate when we do get engaged and married, because  I research for a living, so I promise I’m getting plenty of the doom and gloom marriage prep material. We’ll have problems one day, I’ve no doubt, so let’s be joyful while we don’t.

 

A Readiness to Marry

Jake lay on the bed, his back toward me. A few minutes later, he rolled over to see me quietly crying.

Jake: “What’s wrong?!?”
Me: “I’m not going to see you for three weeks!”

w3alywo

Fuck all those people who told me you get more emotional as you get older. Fuck them for being right. It’s disgusting.

Jake’s job really sucks, right now, with a two weeks on and one week off schedule. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I got to see him for a few days out of the month, last month. We saw each other in the middle and then at the very end, only speaking on the phone in between. The times we have seen each other have frequently been shared with his family, such as when we went to the rodeo for Memorial Day, when Jake helped his sister brand cattle on our anniversary weekend, and when we spent the Fourth of July in Wellston helping clean up after a storm took out her barn. Jake just doesn’t have enough time to do all he needs to on his week off and would rather take me along than miss out on time together.

Of course, I would selfishly rather he skip all those non-Belle activities and spend more quality time with me. Therefore, a bit of the time we have together is wasted on me fighting with myself (and sometimes a super understanding Jake), because I can’t help being upset that we don’t get more alone time and more time in general. After a long weekend together, the moment he leaves is just… heartbreaking. I spend the whole day on the brink of tears.

I liked being single, y’all. I had so much fun having my One Tree Hill marathons, while crafting in a t-shirt and panties. That’s one of the reasons I’ve stated for why Jake won’t be living with me, before marriage. This is the last time I get to do these things, in excess. I’m trying to take advantage, too. I’ve been spending the time alone working on my photo album projects, having girls’ nights, watching Army Wives and old teen movies and… it’s just not fun anymore. I try to remind myself that five years from now, I’ll do anything for a week alone and it’s just not working.

anigif_enhanced-31248-1456311419-3

While Jake and I don’t live together and won’t until we share a name, there have been a few occurrences when it’s been easier for him to stay with me for a week than drive back to Wellston every night, just depending on his job location. These snapshots of married life have really shown me what it will be like, particularly when he has a rough schedule. I know that not every night will be a romantic night out, that sometimes Jake will come home from work with just enough energy to shower and go to bed. I’m aware that during these times, I’ll be the one doing most of the domestic chores, including buying him new underwear and t-shirts. He’ll criticize my Diet Coke intake and we’ll argue over how that compares to his beer intake. I’ll have to sit through more damned Ben Stiller movies than I ever anticipated. But… he’ll be with me.

In February, I told Jake that I imagined I’d say yes after a year of dating, based on our progress at the time. I was right. If he asked me tomorrow, or more likely after his job settles a bit, I’d pull out my calendar and choose a date right then. I hate weddings. I’m sure you’ll read all about how and why in the next year, but I am not a wedding gal. I just want Jake. I’ll sign his prenup, stating that I’m not after the family ranch. I’ll argue with his mother over cake toppers and flowers. I’ll do the drama where I tell my mom she can’t come. I don’t care. I just want to get to the part where I get to see him every day, sign his name with mine, and spend our lives together.

A few years ago, I tried to explain to Gail why living together before marriage just wouldn’t work for me. I theorized that cohabitating for a marriage bound couple might deprive them of experiencing a true readiness to marry. By going halfsies on commitment, by taking on some of the duties and most of the perks, the remaining benefits could become muted and vague and wouldn’t necessarily outweigh the added responsibility of forever. When I have a bad day and long to curl up with Jake on the couch, while he plays with my hair and doesn’t ask a single question; when I wake up alone and wish he were there to roll over and kiss me on the forehead; when I eat dinner in front of the TV and would prefer to be at the table with him; I know I was right. If I experienced these little luxuries every day, I wouldn’t yearn for them as a part of marriage. As much as it aches right now, I’m really quite grateful that I’ve gotten the chance to truly recognize the readiness for marriage… and I wish the day would hurry up and get here.

cbwkl

My heart belongs to a guy whose job is kind of up in the air.

Me: “I got your anniversary present.”
Jake: “Oh yeah?”
Me: “Yeah. It’s a t-shirt that says ‘My heart belongs to a librarian.’ I got a matching one that says ‘My heart belongs to a guy whose job is kind of up in the air.’

I once refused to date anyone who worked in oil. I also refused to date anyone under 6′ tall, losing his hair, and who didn’t like cats, but the oil thing was actually pretty reasonable. You see, growing up, my dad worked for the electric company; which meant that during storm season, he was gone.

jonathantornado

I remember how stressed out my mom always was during those months. She worked full time as a nurse and the same weather that called my dad out, called her out. She was never the disciplinarian or very organized, so it was overwhelming for her to be left on five acres with two kids. It sucked for my brother and I, too. If we had a spring recital, my dad probably wasn’t going to make it. When he was home, he was either sleeping because he was so exhausted or screaming at us because he was so exhausted and we were too little to contain our excitement that dad was home. I don’t want that and when I was dating, I wasn’t willing to purse a relationship that would lead to that.

For those of you who didn’t spend your free time hanging out at oil rigs in high school, I’ll sum the industry up for you. The highs are high and the lows are low. So, as an adult, I’ve gotten to see family and friends spend wildly for years, only to turn around and try to sell their fifty thousand dollar cars, when things take a turn. The only people who succeed in oil, are those who acknowledge both extremes and prepare. Those guys do exist… but they’re usually over 40 and saw the results of the last downturn.

When Jake came along, his online profile said that he was a Fluid Engineer and this wasn’t what he planned to do for the rest of his life. He had a degree and a job and apparently aspirations for more. He didn’t judge me for only being a half time librarian, at the time, so I figured it was only fair to give him a shot. Obviously, I’m glad I did.

Me: “I love you.”
Jake: “I love you, too.”
Me: “You’re everything I need and want… only shorter.”

tumblr_nfbh8x5zg11txly86o1_500

While I’m thrilled with all that is Jake, there’s much to be desired in all that is Jake’s career. His schedule has been wonky for months, meaning that sometimes I think we’ll get to see each other daily this week, only for him to leave the next morning and return five days later. When we do see each other,  it’s not uncommon to watch one twenty-minute Netflix show and go to bed. A couple of weeks ago, I finally broached the subject.

Me: “What’s the goal here? This sucks, but if it’s leading you to a career you want, fine. I support you, but what do you want?
Jake: “I guess… I guess I just wanted to work hard for a few years, while I’m young, save a lot of money and then be able to do what I want with my life, without having to worry about whether or not it will support me and my family.”

He went on to tell me that he enjoys teaching people who want to learn, but he knows there’s no money in that. He’d like to save the money he’d need to live debt free, purchasing his first home outright. Though he’s been demoted from Fluid Engineer to truck driver and now to solids control, which is just manual labor, he wants to see if oil picks back up by the end of the year, as the higher ups have said it will. If not, he’s willing to get out and pursue something different… which is good because he’s working 12 hours days and ends them far too exhausted to enjoy life. One night, as we cuddled in bed at 9:30, because he had to leave my place at 4:00 in the morning, he kissed my shoulder and told me…

Jake: “I promise this won’t last past the end of the year. I know it sucks, but I won’t be making terrible money.”
Me: “I don’t care how much money you make. I don’t want to be alone all the time, when we’re married.”
Jake: “You won’t be.”
Me: “What if oil goes back up, you get the office job you’ve always wanted, and you’re home every night, then it falls again? We’ll have small children and I’m not telling them daddy won’t be at their birthday parties.”
Jake: “Those guys are different, babe. I’ve planned financially and I won’t get myself in the same place they are, having to keep up with all of their debt. If that happens, I’ll be able to to get out.”
Me: “Good. If I had to choose between you being home every night at $40,000 a year, or being two weeks on and two weeks off at $200,000, I’d choose the former. I don’t need $80 manicures and designer handbags. I need you. I’d rather you go to the kids’ recitals with me than drive them alone in a Lexus.”

The next morning, Jake woke at 3:30 and drove an hour to Kingston, to do 12 hours of manual labor on a rig. I remember being married to a man who fabricated jobs and reading the Facebook posts of women complaining that their husbands work too hard. Oh, how I’d have given anything for that problem. Today, knowing that when I get home, Jake will be there, likely with just enough energy for conversation, I can do one of the things I love most. I can say that I was right. It’s a great problem to have a man who carefully plans for the future. It’s a great problem to have a man who works too hard to ensure his financial security. It’s a great problem to have a man who’s not above doing manual labor, despite his degree.  So, I’ll keep my end of the bargain and be supportive. One day, I’ll forgo the new car for the one with 40,000 miles on it. I’ll save the expensive massages for late term pregnancy. I’ll continue to paint my own nails. In turn, I’m confident Jake will keep his end of the bargain and be there when we’re married with children, because he’s never let me down.

20160526_184508

He thought I was joking.

 

Normal: I Never Thought I Would Be Here

In a country where divorce has become an inevitability, it’s no surprise that, as a society, we’re pretty damned reluctant to admit how much it screws us all up. As a divorcee, with divorced parents, I’m not throwing stones, here. My childhood, though, like that of half of North America, is split into two points: before the divorce and after the divorce.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I have no illusions that my life would have been improved by my parents staying together. Those two… it was like if Archie Bunker of All in the Family had married Annie Wilkes from Stephen King’s Misery. Sure, there were times when they were good together… or more accurately good separately, but zetus lapetus, all I remember after age seven was hate and insanity. The most obnoxious thread in any divorce discussion is the erroneous claim that these marriages shouldn’t have ended. Had my parents not been allowed to part, I’d have been orphaned in a murder/suicide by age twelve. I’m not really exaggerating. Despite divorce sometimes being the best option, however, that doesn’t mean those involved aren’t damaged from it.

3ed6673b748b2e9208e960af20a81decI literally cannot watch this movie, because she reminds me of my mother.

Before my parents divorced, I was… normal, for lack of a better word. I was ornery and a bit bossier than the other kids in my class, but I didn’t get in a lot of trouble at school or home. I never wore the cutest clothes or the most complicated hairstyles, but I was dressed in clean and matching outfits and I fit in with the other kids, well enough. Then, everything changed and I was too young to understand why. The other kids didn’t like me, because no one was making sure I was bathing or brushing my teeth. I was putting on weight, so I grew defensive and mean. I got in trouble constantly, because I acted out in class, wishing more than anything that I could be the petite teacher’s pet or the cute blonde girl who was good at sports. I was the smelly, chubby kid, who was always sitting out at recess for one reason or another. Of course, at age eight, I didn’t understand that this was the direct result of my parents’ distraction during their divorce. I thought something was wrong with me.

131753-katy-perry-geek-video-gif-imgu-te1h

I get it, y’all. I don’t hold a grudge for any of this. If anyone understands the consequences of choosing the wrong person, it’s me. My parents tried… mostly… sometimes? Regardless, I still had my Gramma, food in the fridge, and plenty of material wants provided by said Gramma. I’m not typing this while weeping over Sarah McLachlan’s Angel (or I wasn’t until I got the craving to listen to that song… fucking emotions). What I didn’t have, however, what affected me most deeply, was the sense of normalcy I enjoyed for the first seven years of my life. I’m not being dramatic when I tell you that I never got that sense of belonging back, even after the dust settled.

I started showering, wearing deodorant, brushing my hair… but those formative years of being outcast and bullied, set a precedent. If I wasn’t going to fit in, it would be because I chose exclusion. I eventually made friends, many of whom were equally defensive, and gained a sense of inclusion from the refusal to conform, but it wasn’t the same as feeling truly accepted, even if my friends or those looking in saw no difference. With a still unstable home life, it’s no surprise that I clung to a true outcast, mistaking him for a kindred spirit, instead of a man who was being rejected for having no good in him. I married him at 19 and I have never felt more alone. If being chubby and unwashed and bad at sports made me feel excluded at age 10, being morbidly obese and plain and married to a sociopath at age 20 made me feel like Will Smith in I am Legend. Like, literally, I had the dog. That’s it.

the_20omega_20gif4

Y’all, I never thought I would be here. After Gail’s and my shockingly similar divorces, I was pretty convinced that all of the “happy” people were… lying. I don’t mean that in some catty way, mocking the Facebook statuses and family newsletters, so much as I mean that I never witnessed true happiness. I assumed the people complaining about their relationships on Facebook were being tacky and the ones who weren’t just knew better than to air their dirty laundry in public. I didn’t want everyone to be miserable, but of course they were. 

Then… I lost 90 pounds, graduated with my master’s degree, started my career, and life was good. Things were really working out. I was headed in the right direction. I had great friends and coworkers. I felt like I actually fit into society, for the first time in nearly 20 years. Sure, I hadn’t met a good man, but… how many of those were really out there? Why would they want me with all my mouthiness and baggage? Still, I prayed. I asked God to help me to get over myself so I’d see a good man when I found one. I asked for a man of strong character to love me and take care of me and let me love and take care of him. I prayed for someone who would bring out the best in me and for whom I could do the same. I wanted a good father for my children and even bargained, promising it would be okay if I couldn’t get a full time job, if I could just get him; because more than anything, I still yearned for the traditional family unit comprised of a husband, wife, and kids… “normal.” I knew many women who were fulfilled and happy without these, but I would never be one of them. I followed up said prayers with bad date after bad date, often crying to Gail about how it was “never going to happen,” while making self-actualized blog posts about why people wouldn’t want to date me… and along came Jake.

Just shy of one year ago, I headed out on what would undoubtedly be just another funny blog post. Instead, I met a guy who more or less looked like his picture, opened the door for me, paid for an actual date, laughed at my jokes (even the unintentionally offensive ones), and was charismatic and fun. I left to take my Gramma a birthday present and told her it wasn’t love at first sight, but I liked him, he seemed to like me, and I’d go on a second date if I ever heard from him again.

One year later, I make no exaggeration when I say that Jake is everything I never knew I needed and wanted. He’s responsible, independent, adventurous, funny, intelligent, unbearably obstinate, considerate, attentive, generous, affectionate, impossible to offend, driven, hardworking, charismatic, rational, even-tempered, and good to his core. He both tells me and shows me that he loves me. He makes me strive to be a better person, while encouraging my passions and relationships. He gives me a sense of stability I never knew I was missing. He has strong, healthy friendships with good people and so much love for his own family, that I know that being with him will never make me feel excluded, isolated, or worst of all damned. I still don’t believe in soulmates, but I do believe in answered prayers. Is it sappy to say all this? Does this completely defy all of my claims that emotions belong with the last Horcrux and feelings are for the inside? Sure. But sometimes that’s what gratitude looks like.

post-49541-thumper-twitterpated-gif-imgur-jztn