All In Vein


American-Red-Cross-Logo-VerticalA few posts ago I had mentioned how humble bragging is a pet peeve of mine. But for the sake of writing a blog post and telling a story, there’s really no other way to talk about it without saying what I’ve been doing so let’s get to it.

Since last year, I’ve been making regular blood donations to my local chapter of the American Red Cross. It started at a time of need and but decided to make it a regular part of my life shortly afterward. Plus, you get unlimited chocolate chip cookies and orange juice – the only time it’s acceptable to consume such a combination – when you’re done.

The process is relatively simple and expedited if you fill out the questionnaire online prior to your visit, otherwise you’ll be sitting at a computer in an exam room doing it. The questions range from recent places traveled to medications taken to sexual activity – mostly revolving around prostitution and homosexual experiences, an immediate disqualification if any answers are “yes.” The latter has been a controversial practice for some time.

In the exam room, you’re verbally asked even more questions – name, address, etc. – to ensure that you’re in the right state of mind. They also check blood pressure, heart rate, and poke your finger for a sample to test for iron content. Once that’s done, you sign the form and off you go to the chair where they ask you one last time your name and address.

And that’s when my problems started.

Before they begin, naturally the nurses have to find a vein. I usually stick with my right arm since it’s my dominant and can squeeze the heck out of that little foam-rubber propane can they make you squeeze every 10 seconds after the needle is in your arm.

But there was a problem last night.

When the nurse started to check for a vein, they couldn’t quite pinpoint its location. Veins will move and it seemed my was dancing like The O’Jays during this exam. It was that difficult to locate. But after a few more tries the vein was found, site marked with a pen, area prepped with iodine, sphygmomanometer tightened, propane can squeezed three times, and needle inserted.

I’ve never looked at the needle. I don’t want to see it.

There’s a little discomfort when it’s inserted but it goes away once it’s in the right place. They’ll know this because the blood will immediately start flowing down the tube and into the bag. But there was no blood last night.

The nurse asked if they could move the needle around a little bit and see what was going on. I agreed since they had a little difficulty finding it last time. After a few minutes of trying, a second nurse noticed and asked the first one if she could help. He agreed and asked if she could try, to which I said yes.

She couldn’t find it either, and my arm was getting a little tender with all the poking and prodding.

Enter the third nurse. She came by and asked if she could try. By now with all the previous insertions and relocating of the needle, things were becoming much more uncomfortable. Then she moved the needle a little too deep there was so much pain.

I winced and said that it hurt – there’s only so many ways I can pretend to hide my discomfort and I had had enough.

“Do you want me to keep trying or pull it,” she asked. I answered without hesitation.

“Pull it.” It was then that, for the first time, I saw the needle and it’s a pretty good size. I’m not sure why I looked, maybe just because I getting a little anxious and wanted this to be over.

And so it was. The needle was pulled and all the nurses who tried to get blood from me apologized for not being able to get the job done. The site was cleaned, bandaged, and I was on my way.

I was truly disappointed. According to Red Cross literature, one donation can help save up to three lives and last night I wasn’t able to do that.

I’ll be back to try again but much like my dental appointments, of which I still have a few left to fulfill, I need a break for the time being.

Hopefully then we will have success and my efforts will not have been in vein.

Yeah. I went there.

 


 

Just because it didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it won’t for you. Disaster or not, the American Red Cross is always in need of donors and blood of every type. If you’re a regular donor, thank you. If it’s been a while since your last donation, schedule an appointment online or through their app. And if you’ve never done it before, see if you meet the criteria and if you do, schedule an appointment to get the ball rolling. Thanks.

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2017: My Year In Review


Happy New Year, all two of you! Glad you’re still around reading my infrequent posts.

I’ve decided to go ahead and keep my tradition of Year In Review posts going for yet another year with  pictures of the most memorable things that happened. Let’s go!

January 2017

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I rang in the New Year right by going for an early run/walk. Seeing the sunrise on January 1st was pretty metaphoric – highly recommended. Personally, I think sunsets are overrated. Sunrises are where it’s at.

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I bid a fond farewell to my Yamaha Zuma 125 which was damaged beyond repair in my accident of October 2016. Bummer.

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The family went to the Norton Simon Museum. Seeing actual brushstrokes on canvas by the likes of Picasso and Van Gogh is nothing short of mesmerizing.

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Took the kid to another Dodger Fan Fest where organist Dieter Ruehle played the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore Show since she had passed away a few days earlier. Very nice.

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I reminisced on the inauguration of Barack Obama (seen here at my employer at the time in 2009). Now we have to deal with daily shitstorms of tweets and a strange obsession with Hilary Clinton from our current “leader” as well as ending everything 44 did while in office. I’m not bitter. I’m pissed. And please remember to vote.

February 2017

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I celebrated one official year with my new employer! (The last list of anniversaries has me as being hired in August 2015, though.)

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The family had a group birthday outing to Benihana to celebrate all of our birthdays since they fall so close together. It’s a nice experience but I don’t think the prices justifies it – even with a $30 birthday voucher it was still over $100!

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I saw this couple wandering near the office and held one of the reptiles for a moment. Some people are freaked out by snakes but I find them amazing creatures, and it was cool to hold one this size.

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Speaking of the office, I didn’t realize how close I worked to some of the locations used in the classic movie It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Here are some then-and-now shots, literally walking distance from the job.

March 2017

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Ann’s real birthday!

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Anthony’s real birthday! I’m officially the father of a teenager (and yes, it’s everything you’ve heard it was).

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I took Anthony to a Breakfast Club Cruise-In at the Petersen Automotive Museum. So many great cars.

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We went to the beach in San Clemente after outlet shopping. Note the length of my hair. Ahem.

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In another non-blogged story, I found this little hummingbird outside the office lying on its back with feet in the air and wings spread out. Thinking it had died, I picked it up and looked for a place to put it. Then I noticed its eyes still moving so I stroked its little chest for a bit and it perked up, rolled over and stood in my hand as you see it here. I also removed the feather stuck it its eye. I then placed it in a planter outside the office. Hopefully the little guy (or gal) turned out okay.

April 2017

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Grand Prix time! The office is almost deserted on Free Friday for practice and qualifying.

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I participated in a local Beach Streets event, my first one ever. It was a lot of fun, plus the exercise didn’t hurt.

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In March, a twist of an ankle during a playground football revealed a fracture, but that didn’t stop Anthony from enjoying a Las Vegas vacation! We had a blast and visited quite a few places.

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The flower display at Bellagio was spectacular.

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Nelson Ghost Town is as picturesque as you want a place to be, but load up on gas before you go – there’s none for miles and it’s very remote.

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And because Anthony likes Tanked! we had to visit the place where it is filmed.

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Standing on the bridge overlooking Hoover Dam. Strangely, despite my acrophobia, I didn’t mind being up here. And that hair…

May 2017

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We visited JPL and just nerded out. Also, Anthony spotted Kevin Sussman, aka Stuart from Big Bang Theory, while we were there and took this selfie with him. He’s real good at that it seems.

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While riding my bike on lunch, I came across a nice VW van that looked familiar. Some quick research confirmed it belonged to comedian and Long Beach resident Gabriel Iglesias. So I sat and waited for him to return to it so I could get a picture with him, and hair…uh, here it is.

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I discovered a Friday farmers market near the office. It’s a happening place.

June 2017

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A coworker upgraded to the iPhone 7 Plus and wanted to know how Portrait mode worked so I willingly posed for them.

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The Dew Tour skateboarding event returned and I took tons of action shots. Parking wasn’t an issue – I walked from the office.

And Ann and I celebrated 24 years of wedded bliss!

July 2017

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I finally took the leap and got my long overdue dental work started. You can read about it here, here, and here.

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A new family member! The Kitten Formerly Known as Prince became Benny, or Bento as I call him. Notice Monte in the background not having any of it, although now they are best buddies.

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You just can’t prepare yourself for some things, and the passing of a friend is one of them. Ray was just 44 when he passed away in his sleep of a pulmonary embolism and it was a shock to all of us. I miss him dearly, especially our discussions about our beloved Dodgers. Vaya con Dios, amigo.

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Pow! Wow! Long Beach returned and I spent my lunch hour visiting the local murals and speaking to a few of the artist, including “Bryan” Blue seen here with his work in progress.

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Promo shot for my new album. Not. Hair level: near the shoulders.

August 2017

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The Great Partial Solar Eclipse! Hair official longer than Ann’s.

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My second biking event, CicLAvia ran from my hometown to San Pedro. Read about it here.

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Dodger game.

September 2017

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Look! Another Dodger game!

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Ray.

October 2017

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I took over Depeche Mode’s Facebook page for a day which included attending a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live! You can read about it here.

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Year 8 of the Long Beach Marathon Bike Tour and Year 3 of the combo 5k went in the books.

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Local wildfires made for an eerily beautiful backdrop but the air quality meant not going outside for an extended period of time.

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Our annual family picture at the local pumpkin patch! We started in 2004.

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Yeah so…Halloween at the office went a little something like this.

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My Dodgers made it to the World Series!

November 2017

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We went to a local event and saw some planes up close. That’s Anthony and his grandfather who, at age 80, will still run circles around you – even after a quadruple bypass years ago. The plane in the background is the Boeing C-17, one he helped build.

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Anthony wanted to see firsthand what the Black Friday fuss was about so we took him to Target. This was the line to get in.

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He wasn’t impressed.

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My Dodgers lost the World Series but stocking up on merchandise from their amazing season at deep discounts was fun. Wait ‘til this year…

December 2017

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I stood where Jim Morrison stood.

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I took a few vacation days and did a little photo essay of Los Angeles or the Theatre District at least. Going solo, I had all the time in the world to take well over 350 shots and not worry about driving (Go Metro!). Images sans descriptions can be seen here or feel free to scour my Instagram account for them. The highlight was getting kicked out of a theatre I wasn’t supposed to be in but hey, if you give me and open door…

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I bid a fond farewell to Pat DiNizio, singer/songwriter for The Smithereens, who passed away suddenly. While not a household name, this New Jersey band rocked with the best of them and put on one hell of a live show. We’ll miss you, Pat.

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I got to meet legendary DJ Richard Blade at a book signing for his autobiography World In My Eyes. This guy got Depeche Mode their big break in L.A. and has hung out with just about every mover and shaker of the ‘80s New Wave movement. If you love music from that era or interested how he got started then you must pick up this book. I’m the proud owner of a signed First Edition!

And that hair. Mine, not his.

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Last and most recently, I took Anthony with me on another photo excursion to Los Angeles while on Christmas vacation. This is a view from the observation deck of Los Angeles City Hall and it’s one of the coolest things you can do while visiting the city. Bonus: totally free. Just pass through a security checkpoint manned by LAPD’s finest and head up to the 26th floor.

That’s a wrap. What’s on the slate for 2018?

  • Surviving this joke of a presidency if we don’t get nuked first
  • Getting my rear back in shape, although running is getting more difficult (which I attribute to the added weight)
  • Not a lot of traveling, just staying local
  • Trying new things
  • Enjoying the last year of my 40s

Oh, the hair. Did I mention that at all? The reasons for letting it grow are simple:

  • Because I can. Most guys my age are either dyeing what’s left of theirs, bald, or shaved.
  • I don’t work for the Walt Disney Company where grooming standards are ridiculously strict (yeah yeah, it’s all for show). My employer is filled with creatives, most of whom are very much into individual expression via colored hair, tattoos, dress, art, etc. We’re free spirits so being different is part of our culture and perfectly acceptable.
  • I’ve never done this before so I thought I’d give it a shot.

And there you go. Happy 2018!

The Simpsons Quotes in Daily Life, Vol. 1


I follow a few Facebook fan pages that are dedicated to The Simpsons and the other day, they were asking what everybody’s favorite quotes were.

It was then that I realized that not only were some of them my favorites but also used in the daily life of my family. (And believe it or not, Ann absolutely hated The Simpsons when I first met her.)

Granted I don’t watch many of the new episodes because the show seems to have lost its luster and goofy innocence over the years, and I’m a proud owner of Seasons 1-8 on DVD – the only seasons that matter in their entirety with a few episodes from Seasons 10-12 being just okay.

So it’s come to this: I’m compiling a list of quotes from the show that we seem to use on a daily basis or when the situation allows/is perfect for them. And for the next few days (or as more are added), I’ll be posting them here in an effort to keep me away from my iPad and sinking into Candy Crush Saga oblivion.

I actually bought more lives and power-ups the other day. Hey, it was a Black Friday sale and 86% off. LEAVE ME ALONE.

Ahem. Here are the first five quotes from the list which are in no particular order of preference.

1. Sweet merciful crap!

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Situation: Homer’s reaction to seeing his car decorated with assorted creatures from the sea. A fellow blogger has also taken a shine to this quote over the years.

Family Usage: Pretty much the same kind of situation or if, say, we wake up to a pile of shredded paper towels that a little black kitten we all know and love tore up while we were sleeping.

2. Uh-oh, something’s gonna die.

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Situation: John’s reaction when he sees Homer, dressed in hunting gear, arrive at Cockamamies to pick up Bart.

Family Usage: This one comes in handy whenever Anthony says he’s going to do something outlandish like attach his GoPro to something and shoot a video as he skateboards.

3. Remember, we’re in the Itchy lot.

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Situation: When the family arrives at Itchy and Scratchy Land, where nothing can possib-lie go wrong, Homer reminds them in which lot they parked. There’s only two and both are equally huge. Thank goodness for the signs.

Family Usage: On the rare occasion when we go to Disneyland, this quote will make itself known and it’s still funny because it’s true. By the way, they are adding even more parking in an effort to accommodate the upcoming Star Wars Land. Talk about too many people.

4. I can’t believe you don’t shut up!

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Situation: Apu’s interjection to Homer when he keeps giving him romance advice.

Family Usage: Too many: when one of the cats keeps caterwauling for no reason, whenever Donald Trump is on TV blathering about the NFL or some other piece of legislation he’s introducing that will get shot down, etc. This one comes in handy.

5. Like, you know, whatever.

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Situation: In an effort to leave the old Lisa Simpson behind and be accepted by the cool kids while at The Flandereses vacation home, Lisa tries to change her style and adopt new vernacular.

Family Usage: We tend to use this in more of a dismissive yet agreeable way.

Ann: Does spaghetti sound good for dinner?

Me: Like, you know, whatever.

And that’s the first five of who knows how many. I’ll keep adding them to my list in Evernote and posting them here. Stay tuned!

Romantic Comedies


Holy mother of effs, I’m getting old(er).

The family — I refuse to use the currently popular and obnoxious term “fam” — was out decorating for Christmas Saturday night, mostly concentrating on the positioning of our new laser light display.

We’ve been looking at them for some time now and found them on sale at OSH so we caved. And for $20 I have to admit they are pretty spectacular.

The colors, man! The colors! Plus we’re feeling exceptionally lazy this year so we’re only putting this up with a few strings of lights. Humbug!

While all of this was going on, our beloved neighbor* was in his frontyard listening to some music through his Bluetooth speaker. I didn’t really notice it until Ann said something.

Ann: The jackass** is listening to that Sam Smith chick-flick crap that you’d hear in those romcoms.

A beat. I heard what she said loud and clear, but I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant by the last word.

Me: What?

Ann: He’s listening to crap you’d hear in a romcom.

There it was again.

Me: (looking bewildered) Uh, say that again?

Ann: What, romcom?

At this point, if this were a phone conversation using a wired GTE Phone Mart landline, I would have tapped it several times on the nearest hard object to make sure I was hearing things correctly then continued.

Me: Yes.

Ann: A romcom? Romantic comedy?

Me: Is that what it means?

Ann: Yeah, I heard it on the radio the morning.

Keep in mind I don’t listen to morning radio — I’m a Spotify guy and hate blithering morning jocks trying to elicit a laugh at any cost. I’m not entirely surprised they’d use such a stupid term.

Me: Oh okay. Well, don’t ever say that around me again.

Ann: What, romcom?

Me: (shuddering) Yes.

Deal.

Here we are taking a break from the decorating in Season 24 of our own little romc…uh, romantic comedy. Hats off to the kid, now taller than Ann and almost eye level with me, for taking this picture.

You all decorated yet?

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Footnotes:

*Sarcasm **Absolute truth

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Composed on an iPhone 7 Plus app using the WordPress app because I’m feeling exceptionally lazy tonight.

The Ol’ College Try


IMG_2739A few months ago when I got an email stating that my company was interested in starting a softball team, I jumped at the chance to join. I figured hell, this would be a heck of a lot of fun and a way to bond with coworkers from other departments.

Besides, I’m always willing to prove myself to a group of younger adults who think they are all that and a bag of chips.

Anyway, when it was given the green light, I decided to go out and find myself a mitt since the last one I used is MIA. I bought a nice Rawlings at a good price and was ready to go.

I broke it in a bit and had it ready for our first practice and team introduction. And I should have known then that things wouldn’t be the way I thought. More on that later.

The season consists of 10 games. Due to scheduling conflicts and other last-minute, once-in-a-lifetime obligations, I played in two of them, the second one being last night with four remaining on the schedule.

I quit this morning. Now let me go into details as to why.

Too Many Rules
I’ve never played in a softball league before so I’m not 100% familiar with their rules but it seemed to me there were too many. For example, the count starting at 1-1 which is done in order to speed up the pace of play. At the same time, you’re kind of under pressure to swing at the next pitch that looks good – even if it’s not. You can also strike out looking which is super-fucking-embarrassing in softball, slightly less embarrassing than missing the ball on a tee. There was also a walk rule where guys took second base on a walk issued after four straight balls. Girls only got one base.

Time Limit
Here’s another one I get but took getting used to. Games ran an hour no matter what, regardless of score unless, of course, the Mercy Rule was called. In last night’s game, in which we scored one run and the opposition scored…more than that, I got one AB and because I was rotating in left field, was on the field only once. The rest of the time I sat in the dugout and watched the opposition cremate us for three innings. It was ugly, and it wasn’t the first time I’d seen this (and remember, I only played in two games).

Teams In Wrong Division/Ranking
If last night’s game was any indication, it’s obvious that some teams sign up in a lower-ranking division just so they can slaughter the competition. Our team was made up of players with varied backgrounds, some with none, in effort to make it a fun learning experience. The others should have been as well. But when they have guys that are 500 pounds and literally hitting the ball out of the ballpark (because they’d never make it to first base with a single), there’s some serious bullshit going on.

Winning Is Fun
I realize that this was all done in fun but when you factor in the division thing I mentioned above and the fact that they’ve yet to win a game, it becomes more frustrating than amusement and it’s no longer worth the effort to show up. I didn’t even break a sweat during last night’s game in the brief moment I was actually on the field. And if I could describe last night’s game to you, it would be like this.

I wish I was joking about that. My only AB produced a long fly ball to right field, the hardest and farthest hit ball from our team all night. It got praise from a few former teammates to which I replied, “It was a long out. That’s it.” Frustrated, I left immediately after the game was over while the rest of the team stayed and socialized. “Embarrassing” was what I muttered to another former teammate as I walked to my car. We had scored one run.

The Outsider
As I had mentioned early on, practice should have been an indication of how things were going to be. Many of the players worked together – currently or in the past – in the same department and already knew each other, so for them rapport on the field was easy to build. As a result the team seemed to break off into little cliques, none of which I belonged to. (And as a general rule, nobody likes proofreaders because we’re inherently nitpicky about mostly everything.) So I felt like I was on my own from the beginning, which isn’t the best way to start a season.

To add to this, I have not been in the best state of mental health this week. I’ve been battling something that has been making me want to cry at any given moment, but it’s nothing I can tell you about because I don’t fucking know what it is. I’ve been moody with bouts of overwhelming sadness, and being in an environment where I felt like an outcast wasn’t helping matters. While I’m better now, I didn’t feel the need to subject myself to any more misery so removing myself from the team seemed like the only viable option while I get my head back on straight.

I wish the team the best of luck for the remainder of the season.