What No One Tells You About Getting Old

*Disclaimer: yes I know I’m only 30. I’m not that old so please don’t read the title and immediately start saying stuff like “oh you don’t know nothing yet. Just you wait.” You know why, because this post is specifically for people who say that kind of shit when someone younger than them says something about getting old. You, are on my list of slightly annoying humans.*

Alright, now that that’s out of the way. I have come to realize that there are two very specific things that no one warned me would happen as I start to get older.

I have been 30 for about 9 months now and for the most part it’s been going pretty good. There are the typical getting older things that I prepared for.

My ability to understand new technology has ended. I give up. I had to ask my daughter how to add my bitmoji to a post on SnapChat and you would have thought I asked her how to save a word document the way she looked at me.

My taste in music has basically been stuck in the early 2000’s since I left middle school. Occasionally I find a new song I like and play it to death but the classics will never get old. *cash money taking over for the 99 and the 2000 begins playing softly in the background*

I have never been able to do any of those new fancy dances. That started with that stupid dance for “It’s Going Down” by Young Joc at junior prom and it has only gotten worse from there.

I’ve long ago lost track of all the new slang. Most of the time the words just annoy the mess out of me. This originally started with the word “swagger” and has only gotten worse from there.

I’ve basically been a little old lady trapped in a young persons body my whole life it feels like. And I’ve been okay with that. But lately my body has been catching up and it too has been saying

Just a little too frequently for my liking.

Example number 1 of how my body is getting too old for this shit:

I used to be able to eat anything I wanted without and consequences. It was a beautiful thing that I did not appreciate until it was too late. My metabolism basically drove off a cliff after I got pregnant. A lot of that may have been genetic as I come from a family of big beautiful women. Recently, however, it has not just been the weight gain or difficulty losing it that has been the issue.

All of my beloved sugary, fatty, deep fried favorites are literally causing me physical pain or at the very least extreme fatigue. I literally have a conversation with myself before eating any type of sugar to acknowledge the torture that will come.

And if it’s a slice of bread, just know I will be struggling not to sleep for the rest of the day. I like naps but I have to work.

The Venn diagram of all the foods I love that are bad for me and all the foods that make me feel like crap is now officially a circle.

And unlike this nifty Gif I found the circles just stop once they overlap. (Fun fact. If you spell it as vin and not venn you just get a bunch of Gifs of Vin Diesel).

Example number 2 of how my body is getting too old for this shit:

I don’t heal like I used too. Cuts, bruises, and random scrapes take for ever to heal. A hang nail can be painful for several days. My body seems to have just given up on fixing itself. It’s basically saying “well friend, it’s all down hill from here so why even try.”

Basically:

I got into a car the other day and hit my shin in the glove compartment. It bruised immediately, swelled up and it hurt to walk. It took a solid two weeks to stop being tender to the touch.

I had blood drawn 10 days ago. I immediately knew she had messed up and it was going to bruise. I looked like I was shooting heroin for a solid seven days and like someone had grabbed my arm a little too hard for the remaining two. Today is the first day without any bruising.

Here is a incomplete list of things that have caused me physical pain in the last nine months:

Walking up stairs

Exercise (but not like oh feel the burn it’s working pain. No. Injury)

Sitting for too long

Sleeping for too long

Leaning against something for too long

Resting my leg against a coffee table as I do a puzzle

Picking up my nephew

Doing my hair

So basically

And the “this” I’m referring to is daily living without injuring myself.

Part of me worries all of this is actually signs of some medical issue. I had my yearly check up. My A1C is back below pre-diabetic levels for the first time in years, my thyroid is good, my liver is good, no cervical cancer or STI’s. My cholesterol is a little high probably thanks to that month of keto I did (mmmm bacon). But for the most part all the basic tests came back with good results.

Which leads me to conclude I’m just getting old and this is what happens but no one tells you. Thanks guys!

I’m going to go sign up for life alert now just to be safe.

I Downloaded Tinder…Again…

Tinder Phone

(Dislcaimer: Some slight sexual language ahead)

After being in DC officially for a month, I’ve decided to put down the “hookup” apps (Grindr, Scruff, Jack’d, etc.) and decided to go into the more traditional “dating” app route (Tinder, Match, etc.).

I can hear the Straights already; “Wait, I thought Tinder WAS a hookup app?”.

And yes, for straight people it is, but in the gay community, Tinder is used more to actually get to know people. Well, at least that’s what I use it for. You know, try and find friends, go on dates, etc.  However, yes it can still be used to hook up, but Tinder tends to move more slowly.  So when you have apps out there like Grindr and Scuff where you can literally tell if a horny guy is standing next to you, primed and ready, why would you use Tinder to hookup when you have that?

Anywho…

I’ve been using the “hookup” apps to kind of get my feel for the type of guys who were in my area.  I mean, I was using them in Charlotte for the last three months I was there, and it worked out pretty well, so i figured why not continue.  But in DC….I was not ready.  And this is an understatement. In a phrase, these apps in DC is major sensory overload and the way my personality is set up, it became very hard for me to deal.  You see, in Charlotte, where the gay community is vastly smaller than DC’s, you would maybe have about 50 guys (if that) close by on a good day.  Which, they would still message you, but it was manageable.  In DC, there’s probably 1000s of guys (exaggeration) within a mile (maybe closer), that are spamming your inbox with “Nice”, or “Hey handsome”, or “Damn you sexy”, or “Looking?” and it gets to be a little much for this timid, anxious Southern boy who just wants to browse around and admire guys unnoticed, you know.

With apps like Grindr, anybody (that you haven’t already blocked) is able to send you a message whether you want them to or not. There isn’t any “swiping” or “matching” so you basically are like 1 meal on a grid of 100, looking like a buffet of dick and ass just waiting to be devoured.  And let me just say, if you want to be devoured, go right ahead, I’m not judging. But, to add to it, you also have a general idea of the vicinity that someone is located in, which sounds scary at first, but it’s not. It’s pretty much a normal thing.  But yes, you’re bound to get some kind of message in your inbox that leads to you having to make a choice.  That choice is either to respond to Horny McHorndog, or ignore. Being that I’m not the typical sexually frustrated man that just wants to get off, I tend to ignore, or explain that I’m not there to hook up, and a lot of times people will get the point. But I’ve had my fair share of jackasses who were determined and didn’t take no for an answer. Obviously you can block these people, but this could still seem a bit scary or frightening, but then you remember that this guy is literally begging a stranger for sex on an app and then you get over it.

So yeah, I came to the realization today that my personality can’t handle this and does not belong on these kind of apps in this city. I need to slow it down, like, A LOT. So Tinder is the solution,  for right now until I get tired of it. Maybe I’ll bring back The Tinder Experiment (lol).

Honestly, if I could stay sane without any interaction with humans I probably would ultimately just keep to myself, but even I need some kind of face to face interaction at some points. Most people reading this would probably be like, “why don’t you go out to a bar or something?”. The number one reason is MONEY! Life ain’t cheap yo. lol.  But no, going out to a bar would be fine, but I don’t take random compliments or flirting very well (I’m very aloof and oblivious to strangers), and I end up just looking at people all awkwardly (I’m a mess).  I’m most comfortable when things are planned out in advanced.  It’s a part of that slight social anxiety thing I have.

So with that said, hello Tinder….again (groans).  Maybe this go round you can help with some lasting connections; Or maybe I’ll just delete you in a month just like every other app…

There has to be an easier way…

The Anxious Case of Malcolmin Button

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So for most of you who really know me, you know that I suffer from social anxiety. I used to mask it a lot by just calling it being introverted, or shy or whatever, which I am introverted but a tad on the extroverted side (when I’m in a “safe space”) and a lot of people tend to not understand how that works. So when they see me out here on Instagram living my “best life”, they think “oh, he’s such an outgoing guy. What does he mean he’s ‘shy'”. Well, it’s a very multifaceted thing, and it has layers. So I’m going to try and outline how my brain works for you all.

Anxiety affects people in different ways. My anxiety plays on some of my biggest insecurities. Be it, how I feel about the appearance of my body, my teeth, if I actually sound like an idiot when I talk to people, if I’m talking to much, if I’m actually interesting… The list goes on and on; and the basis of my being introverted is because these thoughts run through my head consistently when talking to friends, family, people I’m meeting for the first time, etc., so it causes me to shut down, and stay in my safe space.

Well, having social anxiety in a new city is not great at all, lol. And when I moved, I knew this would be a big thing that I’d have to encounter because even though I do have associates here that I can hang with, the dynamic of those friends/associates are totally different than what I’m used to. Another anxiety fueled thought I have regarding this is “those guys have their own circles and I don’t want to intrude…”. And I’m sure that’s beyond the truth, but I just can’t help it. My anxiety causes me to feel like I’m a burden to people sometimes.

So, with that said, I made a decision a week or so ago try and be better about my anxiety. Basically, I want to try and manage it better; and for those who follow me on Instagram, you have probably noticed, I’m doing a lot more than when I first got here. And I won’t lie, the first two weeks I was here, I was a hermit. So much so that I lost 5 lbs because I didn’t want to go anywhere at all. Didn’t want to eat out at restaurants (the social gathering pastime), or go to a bar to party. But that is totally different now as I’ve been getting my feet wet being social with new people.

This is how I’m working to fight my anxiety:

1. Talking about it

Be it a therapist, or a friend, or even some of the new people that I’ve met, I’ve been super open about my social anxiety. One reason, is because I don’t want people to feel rejected or dissed when I do certain things regarding social situations, and two, it lets people get a better understanding of how I operate. Talking about my anxiety with people sets the stage on how comfortable I am when it comes to making certain decisions down the road.

2. Having a pet

OK this one depends. I know that everyone is not a pet person, or can afford a pet, but I thank whatever magical being responsible for my dog Sora. She’s very outgoing and playful and loving and she just makes getting out and doing things very easy. Even if I’m not necessarily being social, Sora has to go on her long walks. She loves seeing the other dogs in the neighborhood and enjoys the people too! So walking around with her allows me to get out of the house and enjoy the world outside which, in turn allows my mind to focus on other things and not my anxiety.

3. Doing things even though I don’t want to

So I was invited to a new friend’s place for a game night over the weekend. Knowing of my anxious tendencies he was understanding if I didn’t want to go, but he was also very pushy about it. Saying that I needed to go and meet people and whatnot (which, I mean, yeah ok). However, I was invited like on Monday, and the thing wasn’t until Saturday, and my brain was already processing the “questions” about how will people react to me even being there. I did go though, and I had a good time.

4. Not being afraid to say no

OK so I know this sounds contradictory, but just as much as you should let yourself step out of your comfort zone, you should also respect it. So when I find myself trying to “do the most”, I have to realize that I am an introvert that suffers from social anxiety first, and that I need to slow it down a bit. Take it back a few notches. Because when my social battery is completely drained, paired with the anxiety of being social, I tend to blow up and it’s not pretty.

5. Having friends who respect my anxiety and help me with it

Having understanding friends is key, because they should understand what you need when you need it. I know I touched on this before, but friends should be helpful when you talk to them about it. They should help you overcome it, as well as help you when you need to slow down a bit. This will be key in forming new friendships here in DC, and I can’t wait to get out there.

So yeah, these are the main keys of how I’m trying to overcome my social anxiety, and I feel like it’s working. For now, at least. I hope to continue to not look at this as a “problem” per se, but more so as another layer to my awesome personality. I may always have anxiety, but I am not going to let it run my life.

Help!! Life is Driving me Crazy!!

I’m going a bit stir crazy from being stuck in the house since Friday due to not so hurricane anymore Florence. I’m working on my second puzzle, watched countless hours of tv and movies, taken several naps, eaten my body weight in hurricane snacks and played several card and board games with the family. It was only a matter of time before a blog post came along.

My daughter and I just finished playing “The Game of Life.” First of all, why does this game have a whole name and not just “Life.”

Anywho, I have played this game several hundred times since I was a child. Even though they’ve updated the game and cards, the premise is still the same. Hop in a car, spin the dial, go around the board collecting money, paying for things, getting a job, attempting to live your best life before ultimately retiring while you wait for everyone else to catch up.

Now that I’ve lived a little bit of actual life as an adult…I have a few bones to pick with this game! I’m also adding it to the list of things that seriously set me up with unrealistic expectations of real life adulting.

Here they are:

(I’m sorry there are no funny GIFs to accompany the list…my internet is on the fritz due to the storm and my data sucks)

1. You automatically start off with a car. This is not real life for the vast majority of people. Somehow in the game of life, however, everyone stars out on the same playing field with a whole car. And it doesn’t end there…

2. Everyone starts out with $200,000! Again, not realistic for 99% of the world. It’s safe to assume this game starts out fresh after graduation as your very first adult life decision is to go the college track or career track. I’m not sure I know anyone who finished high school and had $200,000 in the bank whether saved or given to them. My fri bad aren’t rich. I got a lap top when I graduated. Not $200,000. So let’s see, so far in this unrealistic life I’ve got a fully functional car which I did not have to pay for using my $200,000 in cash. Sweet!

3. Career or college track. So this one isn’t so bad. It’s pretty realistic for most people to go one or the other. Going to college track means you get to pick from special, higher paying college track jobs. You also have to pay $100,000 in tuition, which again, not super unrealistic. However, thanks to that random $200,000 you happen to baby lying around you can pay for it outright, don’t have to take out loans, don’t have to work your way through college and can afford to eat more than Top Ramen every day. Sweet!

4. Next stop: pick your career! Again, pretty reasonable. Most people have some sort of choice as to what job they have. Even if that choice is between two jobs they hate or don’t want to do it is a choice. We won’t knit pick this one too much (hmmm knitting. I haven’t done that in a while. I’ll add that to my list of things to do before I go insane in this hurricane). So I ended up being a veterinarian making $100,000. I’m not sure how much a vet actually makes a year so I’ll take the games word for it. I checked out some other cards though and realized this game is ridiculous. They have teachers make $100,000 and athletes making $50,000. We all know that’s a lie. I will say, maybe the game has it right on this one though. That’s definitely how it should be.

5. I only have to work for thirteen years!!! There are a total of thirteen pay days on the board. Assuming I make $100,000 a year and not every two weeks that means I’m only working for thirteen years before I retire. Sweet!

6. Action!! So as you go around the board you pick up action cards that either cause you to earn money or pay money. I had to give Taylor $20,000 for stealing a stapler but earned $40,000 for making a smoothie. These actions are beyond absurd but such is the game of life I guess.

7. You have to get married. There is no way around it. The board demands you to stop and pick a spouse. I have a current obsession with Kaycee from big brother so I decided we were getting married. If this game is going to make me live in a fantasy world where I managed to get married a year after graduating from college with a job paying $100,000 a year then I figured I might as well go all out and marry my current girl crush. Pretend life is good people.

8. I appreciate that it gives you the option to have kids or not. It may force you to get married but it doesn’t demand you procreate. Sweet!

9. Retirement. Every one gets to retire. No one works until one day they go home after the end of their shift and pass away in their sleep because they could never afford to not work, or they had to continue to work because their social security check wasn’t enough to make ends meet. Nope. You just pick wether you want to spend the rest of your life in a fancy mansion retirement home or a cozy cottage retirement home. Sweet! Also, if you are the first of your friends to retire you get an extra $400,000 just because. Double sweet!

10. Remember those action cards?!?! I hope you held on to them, because you get a smooth $100,000 for every action card you earned. Just imagine, if after you retire you got $100,000 for every memory you made along the way! You also get $50,000 for any kids you chose to have. Isn’t the game of life grand!

11. What’s missing?!?! Well, during this round of the game of life, me, my wife Kaycee and our daughter lived in my car the whole time. Yep. I never bought a house. There were chances to do so but I was never lucky enough to land on a spot in order to purchase one. Maybe this part is pretty realistic. But heck, since they were giving away cars and money at the beginning they could have at least hooked me up with a free apartment or something.

So yea…clearly I have spend entirely too much time in this house and the typically soothing sound of rain is actually driving me insane. Someone save me please!!!

Apple Cinnamon, Pumpkin Spice, Leaves of Red Orange and Gold, and Everything Nice…

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This Is an ode to my favorite season…

Fall…

Where football starts and the terrible heat of the Summer begins to fade.

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Fall…

Where sweatpants are common clothing choices and nobody will bat an eye if you show up everywhere in them. (Well, maybe in DC they will because….DC)

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Fall…

Where you can take a leisurely walk in the city or park and not feel like you’re about to suffer from a heat stroke or sweat every pound off of your body.

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Fall…

When the leaves put on a show over the span of hundreds and hundreds of miles just so you can travel a short distance to witness the beauty of nature.

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Fall…

Where pumpkin spice and apple cinnamon rules your sense of smell, and you feel all warm and cuddly inside.

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Fall…

The feeling of a crisp breeze that blows on a slightly warm day, letting you know it’s got your back.

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Fall…

The memories of waiting for your parents to rake the leaves into a big pile, just so you could jump in it.

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Fall…

Halloween

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Fall…

Thanksgiving

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Fall…

Hanging around a bonfire with some of your closest family and friends with a beer…or sitting around a campfire roasting hotdogs and marshmallows

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The greatest things are here when fall comes around. You can’t deny it.

It’s the best season there is.

Bar none

Completely

Without a doubt

Number 1

*Take that, take that* #PdiddyVoice

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I Love Myself…Now What?

“You have to love yourself before anyone else can love you.”

First of all…this is absolute bullshit. Let’s just put that out there.

Oh yea, I’m in that kind of mood. You might as well strap yourself in and enjoy the ride because I honestly have no idea where this is headed.

Anywho, as I scrolled through Pinterest looking for quotes to summarize how I feel right now, I repeatedly came across some variation of the bullshit mentioned above. As someone who has spent a lot of time repairing herself after others have come in like a bull in a china shop, as someone who has tried every time to put those pieces back together into something soft, and beautiful and not jaded by the selfishness of this world, as someone who does in fact love them-self including their flaws and quirks and oddities and imperfections, as someone who knows the world is out to make her hard when she is meant to remain soft…as that person I CALL BULLSHIT ON YOUR LOVE YOURSELF QUOTE!!

Why? Because it’s simply not true. Every day people choose to love others who are broken and do not love themselves. Every day people choose to be in relationships with people who do not have it all together and do not love themselves. Every day babies are born, and have no idea what it means to exist let alone love yourself, yet anyone within an earshot or their cries has the natural inclination to love and protect and nurture that tiny human…who does not love them self. Ok. I know that’s extreme but hopefully you get my point. People who do not love them self receive love, in all forms, all the time.

I have decided that this is another one of those things that people say to single people when that person is being extra vulnerable and the other person doesn’t know what to say. They mean well, but it’s actually quite harmful. What you are saying is…you aren’t there yet, you aren’t ready, you don’t deserve it yet, you aren’t perfect. As someone who has been told they are perfect and amazing, yet still no one wants to actually be with them…it’s infuriating. So for the record, don’t call me perfect. I’m not. It will only make me want to throat punch you three times in a row.

So here’s the thing. I’ve done the work. I love me some me. Yea some days I annoy myself, I get on my nerves, I question myself and my worth, I feel broken, I feel stupid, I feel unworthy, some days I look in the mirror and see a goddess, some days I see a monster, but at the end of it all I love who I am, who I was, who I will be, where I am going, what I am doing, and the way I choose to be in this crazy world. I’ve got that part down. I love me despite it all…

So if I go off this crazy logic, it should be raining men right now!!! NOT! Alas, here I am, with no one to love. AND BEFORE YOU GO THERE yes, I have my daughter, I have my family, I have friends , I am beyond blessed…BUT WHY DOES THAT MEAN I CAN’T BE GRATEFUL FOR ALL OF THAT AND HAVE A MAN!

I seriously wish someone would cut the bullshit and just be honest and not try to spare my feelings. I wish someone would just be like look Ashley, here’s the issue, your awesome but your breath stinks, or sometimes you have psychotic breaks and turn into the devil and no one is actually telling you, or that super hard blink thing that you do it’s just to much. No one wants to deal with that. Whatever it is just let me know. But this “it’s not you it’s me”, “Jesus hasn’t sent the one yet,” “your just so amazing and it scares people”…all that that shit is for the birds.

I know this. I have an intense, burning desire to love and be loved. Some days it’s a little less intense because life chooses to dangle hope in my face like a carrot and I get tired of trying to reach it. I don’t know how many more times I have in me to try to bite that damn carrot. I’m sure I’ll keep trying though.

Choosing me is hard, every time, but I do it. I just hope one day someone else won’t find it so difficult. Hope, however, is a terribly painful thing to have.

Happy Birthday Harry

It is no surprise to anyone that I am a huge Harry Potter fan. Those who aren’t fans may consider me a super fan but I’m a fan in that I have a tattoo, several clothing and jewelry items, and watch the movies often. I also fantasize about a Harry Potter themed wedding. I’m not so much a super fan in that I don’t dress up on a daily basis, or stalk the actors, or quote the movies and books in normal conversation. I’m kind of like an average super fan. Just enough for it to be quirky.

Anyways, today is Harry Potter’s birthday!

The actual character, not like the date the first book was published or the date the movie came out but just literally the characters birthday. And it makes me happy.

I’m not sure I’ve ever gone into detail as to why I love Harry Potter so much. Other than the fact that wizards and magic are just generally awesome, Harry for me is like an old friend who showed up in a time of need and while we may not be as close as we once were, he’s always there and always provides a source of comfort.

I must confess, there was once a time when I was anti Harry Potter. I judged it without knowing and had this Christian engrained mindset that anything having to do with witches and magic was obviously the devil incarnate. I am ashamed of this, but I have made peace with it and Harry has forgiven me.

Things changed when I was in my senior year of high school. I took whatever the name of the library class was as an easy grade. I was 17, pregnant and not really in the mood for most things. We had to read a book and write a report on it. I scanned the shelves and landed on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Call it fate, call it divine intervention, call it what you want but I found the book and never looked back. I read the book and instantly fell in love. Harry Potter transported me to another world. Where I wasn’t 17 in high school, fighting with my daughter’s father all the time, sick of watching TV, gaining what would be 100 pounds, and feeling more and more lonely as the days past. Harry Potter provided me relief and a break, comfort and peace in what would be the beginning of the rest of my life.

I met Harry, at the same time I made friends with a classmate who would be murdered later that year. I realize now I feel the death of people I don’t completely know the same way I experience the death of book characters whom I love. As if the world has lost someone amazing and I didn’t get the chance to fully know them. I grieved him and I continued to read.

I read through all of the available books (at that time it was through Half Blood Prince) in about 2 months. I even forced my social studies teacher to finish the library copy early and turn it on so I could check it out. He didn’t yell at me for reading in class.

And then I waited. The last book came out when my daughter was a few months old. By this time, her father and I had broken up for good, most of my friends were out doing whatever 18 year olds who aren’t pregnant and don’t have babies do. I pre-ordered the book, stood in line with my sister because my mom forced her to go with me, and waited for midnight. I remember this being the first time I felt like a bad mom since she was at home and I was out doing something that I wanted to do. I got the book, I went home, and I read until 4 am. I finished the book in two days Reading during a family reunion to make up for time spent in the car when I couldn’t read (stupid motion sickness). I came home, locked myself in my room and read until I was done. I cried. I laughed. I took a break and screamed when I thought Harry was going to have to die. I cried some more and then cried again in happiness when everything ended as it should. I grieved for those who didn’t make it. I closed the book and life went on. I felt different. I grieved that the story was over. I remembered there would still be movie premieres and that made me happier. For anyone who reads this and thinks “that’s it. She’s crazy”… well…

Or be offended. I don’t care.

It’s kind of hard to explain what Harry Potter meant for me at that time of my life. I won’t say it saved me from any deep dark thoughts as it has for others but it did comfort me. And that’s what I needed at that time. For that I am eternally grateful.

As time has gone on, I’ve noticed that for some reason Harry Potter has been a way for men to try to get in good with me (didn’t think I’d make it through a post without turning it into a commentary on my dating life did you!). Something they didn’t understand or care about but somehow I convinced them to watch it with me and then they realized it might be a good way to get into my pants or something. I’ve had to stop that. I’ve decided to keep it sacred for me. To only offer this piece of me and time spent with me to people who care. To not encourage just everyone to watch and read it because they may not appreciate it. And for the most part, to not really explain my love of it to anyone and just take whatever jokes they made about it as they came. One day, someone will appreciate it and they will also let me have a Harry Potter wedding because they love me! Or at least hints of Potter (maybe?!?)

But yep. That’s it. Today is Harry Potter’s birthday. I’m about to start my period so I’m a little emotional for no reason

And regardless of what life throws my way, I can rest safe in the knowledge that Harry Potter and all its magic will be a soft place to land if I need to recenter…