Monday, January 16, 2012

2011 Part 3: Livin' Life for a Living

First of all, sorry for the incredible delay in getting this written. Last week was one of the most ridiculous weeks of work I've ever experienced. Don't get me wrong! It was awesome. I had a lot of fun being that busy, but I was just that: very, very busy.

Anyway, here we go!

So here's the thing about me. I've never had terribly high self-esteem. I don't have low self-esteem either. I don't know. I'm perfectly happy with most of me, and I think I'm fine. But I very, very rarely look in the mirror and think, "Damn, son. Nice."

Well. When I woke up on the morning of April 17, I weighed almost 230 pounds. When I woke up on the morning of Sept. 3, I weighed 188. Needless to say, I was feeling it. I walked Allie early that morning to get the blood flowing, and I got myself ready to go. I had a 5K to run!

I got my running gear on, and I was ready. And for the first time in, well, maybe ever, I looked in the mirror and thought, "Now you're talking. I am looking good today." And then I killed the race -- improved on my time from the previous year by more than five minutes. It was an unbelievable feeling. Such a great day.

And really, thus began what continues to be the most ridiculous time of my life.

The last third of the year turned 2011 from one of the most difficult years of my life into one of the most fun, rewarding and fulfilling years of my life. It all started with that 5K. I blew my goal out of the water, which sent my self-confidence skyrocketing. Shortly thereafter, I hit my lowest weight in more than six years, clocking in at 186 pounds.

It had been years since I felt that good. And oh boy did the good times keep rolling.

Two weeks later, I made plans to visit Raleigh for the first time in a year. I coordinated with Mike and Nick and a few others to get tickets to the N.C. State football game that weekend, and we were going to make a big deal of me being in town. I got a hotel that allowed dogs, and Allie and I made the trek to Raleigh.

That weekend was to be the first time Mike and I hung out in person since we became best friends. It did not disappoint.

I don't need to rehash the weekend. I already wrote about it, so feel free to check out those stories (Part 1, Part 2). Suffice it to say, it was the first of many experiences where Mike and I could only look at each other and exclaim, "That just happened." It was the origin of the desire for the anonymous blog.

That weekend had everything. Old friends I hadn't seen in a while, new friends, lots of dancing, football, Lilly's Pizza. It was the perfect outlet for everything I'd been building toward all summer in terms of getting into better shape and blowing up my energy level. So great.

It helped me to realize I was getting things in order. My life was starting to line up in ways it never had before -- in ways that were really exciting to me. I still didn't have a job, but I felt good. There were promising leads.

Within a few weeks, I decided to try to start dating again. For several months, I dedicated myself to focusing on improving me, and I had done a better job than even I ever believed I could. I'm not saying I was perfect, but I was incredibly excited about the progress and positive changes I made. It was time to meet girls again. And that really picked up in October.

To my everlasting surprise, the dating game has been pretty good to me. I've met some really cool people -- some more interesting than others haha. But it's been a lot of fun. I've never really done this before, and I've always kind of felt like I missed out because of my, you know, serial monogamist tendencies.

Getting back on that horse was something I really wanted to do, but I was actually kind of nervous about it. After all, I didn't have a job, so I had no idea how that whole conversation would go. And even though I almost definitely looked better than I ever had before, I was still anxious because that's just how I roll haha.

All of that has proven to be unfounded though. First of all, mid-way through October, I received a job offer. That was a hell of a week.

I had my final job interview on a Wednesday morning (Oct. 12). That Saturday, Kirk and Liz were getting married in Charlotte. My plan was to drive to Charlotte on Wednesday to get the terrible seven-hour drive out of the way. On Friday morning, I was going to drive to Raleigh because Mike and Laura both had birthdays on the following Monday. We were going to go be ridiculous on Friday. I mean. Sign me up. Obviously. Then I'd wake up early on Saturday morning and head back to Charlotte for the wedding. It was a lot of driving, I'll admit, but it seemed doable. Plus, it was all going to be a lot of fun, so it seemed worth it.


That plan went to shit almost immediately. It rained most of the day before I left. By the time I was done with my interview around lunch time, it was a very gray day. The dog and I hit the road around 3 p.m., which was going to put us in Charlotte around 10 or 11 p.m., while hopefully missing most of the traffic.

Around 8 p.m., I was on I-85 in Virginia, approximately 20 miles before the North Carolina border. It finally stopped raining, and there were no other cars around, so I put on the cruise control and relaxed.

I saw something in the road up ahead, but it didn't look like anything at first. Then, because I was finally driving at full speed, it came up quick. I swerved, but it was too big to avoid completely.

It was a huge tree branch, and it busted both tires and wheels on the passenger side of my car. Thankfully, I somehow managed to retain control of the vehicle and moved over to the shoulder. I called my parents to tell them what happened. I called AAA to get a tow truck out, and then I was stumped. I did the only thing I knew to do. I called Mike. Long story short, I ended up stranded in Raleigh from Wednesday night until my mom could drive to Raleigh on Saturday morning to get me.

A brief aside about Allie. That dog, man. I've never known a dog more laid-back than her. She will roll with ANYTHING. She was a little concerned at first when we had to pull over, but for the most part, she just hung out in the backseat. Then the tow truck came, and she was totally fine in the backseat of my car on the back of the flatbed. The cab of the truck was too small for the driver, the dog AND me. So she just chilled in the back. I opened the windows for her, and she eventually just went to sleep.

Anyway, Mike was nice enough to let me use his car while I went back and forth to the mechanic. It ended up taking days longer than it should have because they did not put the car on the lift to determine exactly what was wrong before they ordered parts. They ordered one wheel and two tires. When they went to put those on, they found out the rear passenger wheel was also busted. The problem was it was already Friday afternoon, so it was going to be at least Monday before the car was ready. No problem. I'll hang out in Charlotte until it's done. I didn't have anywhere to be.

And then I got the call that changed my life. A job offer!

See what I mean? The final third of the year was extraordinarily kind to me. I'd been waiting for that phone call for months. Somehow, it lived up to every expectation I had. Every hope I'd built up for that moment -- wow. I screamed. I sobbed. I ran around the house and did cartwheels. I love everybody.

Finally, the one thing that still stressed me at all -- it was done. The offer came 14 days before I needed to vacate my apartment. Thankfully, the leasing office hadn't rented out my apartment yet, so I was able to sign a new lease. I wasn't going to be homeless!

I'm getting the chills just thinking about that day again. That was the best.

This job, man. It is excellent. In my life, I've never been this busy. I work more now than I ever have before. And I truly love every second of it. I love my coworkers so much. We work so hard together, and we play just as hard together. Haha gah I am SO happy.

Tough to beat October, right? November was pretty ridiculous though. I went to Raleigh again for the UNC game, and we did what we do, man. Dancing every night. Football all day. We tailgated early on Saturday morning for the game. We grilled pancakes and bacon, and one of Mike's friends made spiced wine on the grill, too.

State beat Carolina for the fifth year in a row, and that made going out Saturday night particularly sweet (even though we couldn't leave until we watched that lame-ass Alabama/LSU game haha). P.S. Mike, you all right, man? I mean, really. You OK? Lulz.

We all crashed at Mike's apartment after a ridiculous night of dancing and 4 a.m. McDonald's. It looked like a refugee camp. Mike and Nick shared his bed. Four people slept on the floor, with bags and clothing strewn about. I was asleep on half of a loveseat. Why half? Because Allie was asleep on the other half. Like you do.

It was so, so awesome haha. It may not sound awesome, but I can't even begin to explain how much fun I'm having right now.

That Sunday was Bark for Life! Allie and I went out and met Adam, Danielle, Danielle's sister and Erik's parents. We raised a solid amount of money to fight cancer, so thank you to everyone who donated for that. Team VIVA LA DUCK ended up raising the third-most money of any team at the event. We'll be back again next year, too.

Just two weeks later, I headed to Boston (Part 1, Part 2). Scorpion bowls -- yikes. I don't need to write about all that again. Check out those stories, though. And then what happened. Whew.

October and November were also filled with flag football and softball! Softball was particularly awesome. Almost all the same people (plus a few new ones) from the CAN spring/summer league joined up to play in the D.C. Fall recreational league. We figured we'd get some experience playing together to prepare us for the next CAN season.

Then we went 9-1, winning the regular season league championship. HEY OH. And we have awesome trophies to prove it. Damn that was fun haha. I finally found a spot on the field I really enjoy playing, too. I was always an outfielder growing up. I used to be pretty good, too. But not throwing a baseball for damn near 10 years got to me, and I don't have the arm strength I did in high school and college.

It's really not THAT bad, but there are some guys on the team with legit cannons for arms, so it felt like poor strategy to continue putting myself out there when there were people who could do it better. Don't get me wrong. No one tracks and catches fly balls better than I can. But there's more to it than that, you know? So I tried out playing first base. Oh man. Love it. A lot. I have some room to improve, but wow I loved playing first base.

I can't wait to get out there and play again. The next CAN season is only a couple of months away. I told Dale I'd be one of the coaches with him, so that's going to be really awesome. Legit pumped doesn't even begin to describe it.

So anyway, the holiday season kicked off with Thanksgiving, and I was just overwhelmed with emotion. I have absolutely no problem admitting how lucky I feel on a daily basis. I work hard for what I have, that's true, but I am also truly, truly blessed. Especially after the first two-thirds of 2011 -- for me to emerge on the other side with my sanity and happiness not only intact, but at all-time highs? Wow. Thank you to everyone who played a part in that.

November and December are always nice because I get to see my family more often than usual. Plus, my sister comes home for Christmas, and I only see her like twice a year MAX now because she lives in south Florida.

Plus, the dating game continued to be pretty good to me in November and December. I'll say this, thank God I lost 40 pounds. That confidence and energy boost has just done wonders for me. Let's GO.

The week between Christmas and New Year's at work was slow, comparatively, haha. It was still as busy as I ever was anywhere else I worked, but compared to how busy we usually are here, it was laid-back and relaxed haha. I really can't say enough about how much fun I have with my coworkers. So great.

New Year's Eve! My plan all along was NOT to do anything. I was exhausted from all the travels of the previous several weeks and from working, and I loved the idea of a quiet night at home to ring in the new year.

Well, Carnell gchatted me around mid-day to let me know he was going to head to Evan's apartment downtown and that I should come. I'm so glad he gave me such advanced notice so I could plan my night haha.

The great thing about New Year's is you start drinking at like 6 or 7 p.m., right? By the time midnight rolls around, every one is already feeling really good, and it's almost time for bed haha. We started the night at Evan's apartment and then moved to Local 16, a bar downtown on U St.

Surrounded by a few of my closest new friends, I said goodbye to one of the most ridiculous, challenging and, in the end, incredible years of my life.

I'm so excited I decided to document the last half of the year here. This blog was so much fun these past few months. I have truly loved sharing my stories with you, and I am so blown away by the response. People actually read my bullshit. And not only that, they're excited to read my bullshit. I actually had a lot of people actively badger me about writing this post because they couldn't wait to read it. Do what now. Thank you so, so much to everyone who stops by to read my words. This blog is nothing without you.

Here's a brief list of my favorite blog posts this year:

Beware: Lots of Words Ahead, June 3 -- This is the post that started it all. I held everything in for too long, and I needed an outlet. I needed some accountability. Boom.

Break-ups, (500) Days of Summer and the Art of Moving On, July 6 -- This one is my favorite post that I've written. It is honest and thoughtful, and it's written just a few weeks after a break-up. Plus, I love that movie, and some of the things I wrote have proven to be stunningly prescient.

The Single Life, Sept. 26 -- I finally realized things were coming together for me. And being single was actually really good for me. Who knew, right?

Another Summer's Gone, Oct. 3 -- I always have connected Fall with love. Always. I really enjoyed writing this one because of the happy memories it brought up. Also, foreshadowing like whoa haha.

Employed, Oct. 17 -- Everything I'd been building toward and anticipating in this space, week to week, culminated in that post. For the WIN.

Hey. Thanks., Dec. 7 -- So many people helped me in so many ways. I had to give some thanks for that.

And that's a wrap on 2011. I left out some things, I know. Some of them I left out because this is not an anonymous blog. If it was, whew haha. Some things, I'm sure I just forgot to include unintentionally. It happens. I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did. It was a lot of fun for me to go back and relive this year.

I am so lucky, you know? So many wonderful things happen to me, and I can't imagine why I deserve it. I am so thankful though. I am overwhelmed with joy at the promise 2012 holds.

I was talking to Mike and Nick on the phone (at separate times haha) a few weeks ago, and I remember saying to them, "You know, the past couple of months has been the first time in my life where I really felt like I truly lived like I was in my 20s."

Does that make sense? I'm finally taking advantage of my relative youth and energy, and it feels so good. I can't imagine that's going to be stopping anytime soon either. Life is so, so good.

Let. Us. Go.


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