What Exactly is Dating at 21?

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Have you heard of Bumble? It’s a dating app much like Tinder where the user gets to see photos and profiles of people who fit their preferences; then they get to swipe right on those they are interested in and left on those they are not interested in. 

So, for kicks and giggles, I wanted to try it out. I mean, how else do I find interesting people to date in a college/retirement town over summer? Besides bar hopping.

Bumble was my solution. Meeting people online has its risks, I know that. They could be fake, catfishes, bots, or so many other things. That’s not the risk I want to talk about though, I want to talk about dating… Or not.

After all, what do we consider dating for young 20 something youths in the 21st century?

From what I’m told, some people aren’t really into being together in the sense of actually courting one another or getting to know one another. After all, it’s nice to have your freedom and not be tied down by emotion and responsibility. So I’ve heard.

Other people are into dating and that’s great too. They aren’t into hook-up culture or just kind of going with the flow without definitions. Sounds a little more like my preference at least.

My problem comes in that I don’t understand where I fit into this whole schema. I’m not really into hookups; that’s just not my thing. And if you don’t know what that means, leave it at not being into casual flings.

On a lot of these apps though, despite what other people may claim, they are just looking for friends and maybe some casual hangouts. It gets a little complicated to try and figure out what someone else is into.

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I mean, how do you even mention that topic when you just “meet” someone online? Remember now, I’m awkward.

I bring it up now because, well, I met a nice boy on Bumble and we were supposed to hang out. So we made a plan and I figured out what I was wearing, who I would tell, who would drive, etc.

But then came the mental deliberation: Do I mention it? Of course I mention it, not doing so would be foolish. But what do I say? Uh… “Hey, so I don’t know what you expect but…” But is that too much?

It took a lot of back and forth, trust me, but I ended up just letting him know what my intentions were not.

And then I waited for a response.

Then I waited. 

Took a shower, started laundry, then waited…

And waited some more.

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After two hours, he didn’t answer. There was my answer I guess, he wasn’t into the whole dating thing and would simply ghost me instead. 

I shrugged, switched into sweatpants, and went about my night. That’s how it goes for my age group on dating apps at this point, its a hit or a miss. Kinda like some medications… It’s a trial and error. Some won’t work out, you’ve got to find just the right one for it to work out all right for you. 

That, my readers, is how I am navigating dating at the age of 21. Apparently, it’s a little complicated. Less hookup common than Tinder, but still this is how I’m starting with Bumble.

After I go on a date with that nice boy next week. Because three hours later, he did message me back and said what? He respects whatever boundaries I set and he won’t cross them without affirmative consent.

So maybe 21st century dating isn’t awful. I’m still confused and who knows, maybe he isn’t that nice of a person. But I’ll find out by taking a chance and also taking precaution (meeting in a public place, telling someone where I’m going and when to check in, etc) while I do. 

The Last Summer

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And here we are, another Friday. I don’t know how all of you usually spend your summers, but if mine aren’t filled with a couple rereads of my favorite books and discoveries of new ones, then I am doing something sorely wrong.

After all, travelling right now isn’t in my budget and travelling alone isn’t really my thing regardless. So what’s the next best way to get out of town, even if not physically? Our imaginations. Whether you prefer movies, books, video games, or wine, all of it is a chance to get out of our reality for a little while. 

Another word for that, at least in my case: escapism. Usually this word gets a bad rep for people using it as an out instead of dealing with their problems, but let’s be honest, I think that’s just human nature. In my case, escapism is a way for me to get away from the banality of what summer can sometimes turn into. 

It’s also a chance to take solo adventures, learn a few new skills with summer classes, and of course, create my own worlds to escape in. I mean, that’s the fun part of being a creative… Creating.

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If I want to make creativity and art part of my future, if I want to be good enough that it’s the only way to live, I have to practice it. I would like to say that it’s the path to a successful future for me, but I guess none of us can really tell exactly what the means until we get there. 

Not unless one of you can tell the future, in which case if you can, I have a few questions.

Because I’ve been talking to a few friends and I’m starting to get the feeling that none of us are quite sure what path is the “right” one. There are quite a few options after all. 

There’s getting a job straight out of college and seeing where that takes us. There’s freelance or travelling and seeing what this world has to offer before settling down into it as if we know what it all looks like. Then there’s grad or post undergrad studies and depending on what we’re looking at, it could take a couple years. Even then, we still have to figure out what to study or specialize in. Another path per say. 

And these are just a few of the options, I can’t say I know what all of them are. I don’t even know what I would prefer. This is most likely my last summer of wandering somewhat aimlessly between jobs and places and friends that I’ve known at least for a little while. After this, all of us are supposed to be heading in directions others cannot follow, down what at least for them will be path number 1.

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To be honest, I’m only just starting to realize that I don’t have a plan for my blog once that happens. There’s no plan, no telling what my days will look like or weeks will hold. No telling how many paths I’ll settle into. I have no idea where I’ll end up. 

For me, I love falling into fiction and writing my own ways out of this reality. Art in itself is a whole different kind of study in escapism. But this idea of figuring out where we’re headed and what we really need to be doing in order to get there, that’s something that escapism doesn’t really work for. There’s no running from time.

If I play my cards right this summer, I’ll head into senior year with a few extra options I created for myself. From books and extra skills to job prospects and even just a hunch of where I want to go next, one of the few things I can control is what I do right now.

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So who knows, maybe my version of turning a mundane summer into something interesting might just pay off in the long run. Again, if you tell the future, feel free to let me know what you think. Otherwise, I’ll have to wait just like everyone else.

At least we’ve got right now guaranteed. Happy Friday everyone. 

If It Ain’t Broke…

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Sometimes I forget that even though this blog continues week by week and my age keeps going up one by one, that doesn’t mean I’m outgrowing everything I think I am. Habits, friends, tendencies, the usual. Just because we’re growing up, all of us, doesn’t mean we don’t fall back on the little things that used to work for us in the process.

Even if they’re little things that we thought worked for us, when maybe they didn’t. If it ain’t broke… Maybe we need a second opinion.

You see, here’s the thing. They say matter cannot be created nor destroyed and we know that as a fact, at least I hope we all do by now. But when it comes to social laws, are there any that say one thing that grows while another one does not can no longer fit together as it has before?

Because there should be. Either that rule has not been defined yet, or human beings simply cannot refrain from testing this rule again and again until our patience has been tested positively past worn down and weary.

As much as I wish for someone to answer that question, I think I already know what the answer is. But here’s why I’m only struggling with it (again) right now.

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When I was younger, I think grew up in people’s shadows as much as anyone else would. We’re all side characters in someone else’s story after all, whether we try to be or not. Even now I tend to have my head stuck in a book or a fictional world that really isn’t this one and I think I took my role as a reader, or that side character, a little too seriously. Always have.

So when other people that I care about or do things for or support, aren’t supporting me in the way I need them to, I wonder why. Anyone would. But then I negate all the times that I haven’t been that support for other people and realize that maybe I’ve done the same thing to people that love or support me too. After all, we’re all our own main character, we put life in terms of ourselves. Sometimes.

This is a healthy way to think, if we question ourselves when criticizing something and examine why we feel the way we do, or if the logic is one-sided rather than at least trying to see all facets of the story before claiming it to be truth. It’s good to think this way. 

Unless, of course, we then believe that we’re the problem. Consistently. I mean yes, sometimes we are. Just ask my mom about my venting or complaining about my expectations for people—the other person is not the problem, at times my expectations are just a little bit too high. Or simply incorrect.

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Other times though, she also does a really good job of reminding me that my expectations or standards for how I feel I’m treated and valued and loved and supported… Those aren’t expectations at all. They should be the set bar for how I feel in my own life and the people that impact that every moment I breathe.

Just like our habits and our tendencies, even our diets and our preferences, as we grow and figure out who we are the key people in our lives should be growing with us.

Maybe that means they grow apart; some people grow to understand that their relationship is more the check in every couple of months kind. Others realize they’re the ones we go to with the “situations” or to “spill the tea” if you know what that means. If not, check this out.

But whether or not it’s together—sometimes better for each party if it isn’t—growing does need to happen. And if we’re the ones holding ourselves back, we’re also only just hurting ourselves in the process. I can’t say I’ve always been a big fan of change; readjusting and finding new normals is hard. And scary. And exhausting. It’s supposed to be.

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Yet, that’s also where I find the best parts of the story: my story, the stories or lives I’m simply a side character in, and especially the fictional ones I get to be a part of too. Growing is necessary and the in-between, the insecure parts… That’s when almost anything can happen, when something almost always does happen. We just have to be willing to make it.

There are no right times or people or circumstances; do what you can with what you have. If what you have isn’t enough, then go find what you need and go from there.

It’s not about fitting in to what used to work or playing a waiting game, not at all. Life seems—is—a little too short for that. Take what you’ve got, and make a move. Grow. 

That’s all you can do.

Taking Back My Initiative

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It’s been a very odd week here in SLO. After heading home for maybe 8 days, Nick and I got back to SLO on Sunday. Let me tell ya, summers here are much quieter than the school year. I mean, there is space to park outside my house… That never happens. 

So much open space outside is starting to remind me that while I know change happens quickly, I kind of forget about it until it hits me in the face. A couple years back, sophomore year of high school I think, I convinced my parents to let me get a bunny while running errands on the way home from a track meet; after all, we found ourselves in a feed store and still had a cage left over from previous rabbits at the house, so when I saw all these little floofs in a cage running around in the store…

Gotta love impulse buys. Fast forward a couple years, I’ve been meaning to bring sed rabbit here with me to college but I’ve been worried about neglecting her. Beyond that being sad, rabbits legitimately need a lot of physical love and time around their humans if they’re going to stay healthy. Last week, I finally realized that this summer would give me the time to hang out with her and she could cool off from 100 degrees to 70s the whole time too. A win-win if I do say so myself. 

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But the dream didn’t last very long at all. Long story short, she died on Tuesday morning of a fly strike (if you have a rabbit and don’t know what that is, please do check out the link here) and Nick came running into my room at 7am just in time for me to hold her and give her company. My bun, along with all those little moments and hopes I had for our summer together, were gone in under 2 minutes.

It may seem small, but add onto that a 180 with the 6 month old german shepherd mix that my brother and I are dog sitting. I forgot what it was like to have a pet around that–unlike a small rabbit–has so much uncensored energy, let alone his compulsion to steal our socks constantly and take naps with me on my bed. 

Just like that, my plans changed. And I’m starting to realize that I’m tired being the one it happens to instead of the one that makes it happen.

After throwing myself into a different kind of change, my junior year was full of me constantly moving, completing tasks, starting new ones, connecting to this person or that one, trying new things, and more often than not, surrounded by a whole lot of people.

So I figured this wee would be a much needed change. At least I had hoped it would.

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See, my plan for the summer was to work on my writing (crank out another novel, maybe two), teach myself to animate, working on storyboarding and art, painting, etc. You know, actually doing all the things I don’t have time to do during the year. And I’ve done almost all of it in just this week, minus the whole novel part. 

The challenge, though, is finding company to do it all with. Now I have to figure out who is here, who’s free/who would actually enjoy spending time with me, or where I can go make new friends. I mean, the thing about me is that I love my free time as much as anyone else, but spending my free time doing almost anything with the people I love is almost always preferred. 

In good company, any time can be a good time. But I’m also awkward in newer relationships to find sed company; without knowing where the boundaries are, I can’t always be sure if I can call someone at 11pm to drive around town with the windows down and the music up, or pull someone into late night shenanigans to attempt baking some random pastry at 2am because why not.

I can guarantee I’m not the only person who’s like this, especially in college or when our worlds become a revolving door of people and personalities. I told you, this year was the most social year of my entire life and the year ended just as quickly as it started up—while wonderful in the moment, such a thing tends to leave a little whiplash as to what just happened or what we’re left with at the end of it all.

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After this year compared to so many previous years of feeling insecure in my friendships, these changes are hard. Going from group to group before landing on something that feels secure only for summer break to get in the way, it’s exhausting. And a girl gets tired of being tired after a little while, you know? So I decided, maybe I’m going to take a little bit of my control back. I might edit that summer plan a little—take out a novel, add in some extra people with a pinch of my own initiative around personal happiness instead—and see where it takes me.

Before I end up in the “real” world and have a legitimate job tying me down, here’s to taking the wheel back in the last summer of this freedom we’re told that we hold.

Could be fun. Happy Friday.  

Timeless

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Every time I come home, it always reminds me that time keeps moving even if we’re not here to see it. There’s a new building up in a shopping center or a new family moved in across the street. A few less friends to visit and a bright new pergola (fancy overhang) in my front yard, or of course–courtesy of my dad–a new clock to be found somewhere in the house.

Each time I visit, there’s something new to whisper, “time has passed, don’t you see?” Even if it’s just in the way my dog sleeps a little more or the cool air I got used to here over break hit 102 this week instead.

And in seeing all, the small pieces that make up what I see of the world, I wonder what the world looks back and sees of me.

After all, the only thing that matters is our perspectives, our vantage points. You only see the changes if you’re looking. Chances are, you weren’t looking at me.

Nothing about me, nothing specifically, could tell you what’s happened in the last three months of my life. Just so you know, I did pass all my classes; surprisingly so considering the amount of things I was juggling. Truly, I don’t know how I passed a single one of them.

But I did. Just like I spent another quarter in my job and am technically a quarter of english classes away from graduation. I am.

I am so much of what you don’t see.

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The new houses and buildings and people here up in town? Those are the skills, the memories, the hurt, the passion, and the knowledge that have built small homes in who I am. It’s a new complex of professional development built into what is becoming my repertoire, a new attitude around skipping classes or getting sleep because our priorities change over time just like we do.

But none of you can really see that. Nor the friendships built and lost. Trust strengthened or loosened. Threads between my expectations and my reality; they’re thinning as one grows farther away from the other.

Every time I come home, it’s a different girl walking through the front door.

And it’s a shame that maybe some people won’t get to see that.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions–as much as I’d love to catch up with all of the people I miss and want to see, some don’t have the time, the capacity, the opportunity, or even the want. Some of you just can’t.

Sure, I can try to cover it all in a blog post, in this site that has somehow catalogued the last three years of my life. But it can’t catch everything, define the change and the process and the truth about my life for you; nothing can but me.

After all, we’re all liars aren’t we?

Think about it, everything we say or do, it is because we see or know things to be a certain way. But only from our perspective. No two people will ever see the same thing happen even if they are all watching the same event occur.

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The proof cannot come from a testament of what happened or even how we individually change because of it. You would have to look at all of us to really understand what happened, to pieces together each individual change as a collective of the aftermath and the why of what occurred in the first place.

Unfortunately, I cannot fill in what you all see or think unless you tell me. As for you, all you get is me. Take it or leave it.

Hopefully though, you’ll keep betting on me and take it. because as always, things are changing. I can’t guarentee what these posts are going to look like this summer, but I have a feeling they’re going to be a little different.

I can’t tell you what girl is leaving home again this weekend or which one will be back later, but I can tell you that you’ll find out.

Stick around and find out, find out with me, since you know that I have no idea either. And this week has given me time to think about what I can do or where this girl can go over summer to really make the most of what I’ve been given.

I only get this one final summer as an undergrad.

And well, they say we only live once.

Maybe that’s true; but maybe in the mix of perspectives and truths we all hold about a single event we call life, maybe the moments can be infinite.

Let’s find out together.

What Happens in Junior Year…

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You know, every year brings something a little different than the last and I couldn’t quite tell you what I was expecting out of junior year… But it wasn’t this.

First year was all about getting the hang of college and then second year, well, that was for realizing that you never can get the hang of college. So then what about year three?

Junior year has been all about understanding the learning doesn’t quite come from the classroom. That, and realizing the learning isn’t worth anything without people who matter learning alongside you.

I think I’ve gained more people in my life this year than I’ve genuinely been friends with in my entire life. Sure, in high school we knew each other’s names and said hi in the passing periods. But this year, this year is something completely beyond that.

I walked out of the first two days of the week with 16 WOWies and a Co. Every single one of them came into this year with me and I am unbelievably proud of each of them for making it through to the end of this year with me. Between birthdays, reunions, their first finals, scholarship navigation, discovering SLO… Those WOWies and my adings, whom I care about beyond belief. All of these people, they mean the world to me.

So does the entirety of CCE—the Cross Cultural Experience became my family. I’ve never found so much talent, pride, energy, love, culture, and life hidden in a group of people. That’s over 300 students who were knitted into a community that needed them just as much as they needed it.

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And that’s before I was hired as an Orientation Facilitator in Orientation Team. A CCE Orientation Facilitator. Let me tell you, it’s one thing to be a CCE WOW Leader, it’s a whole new ballgame to be a Facilitator. Because that’s where I found 60 more people suddenly in my life and in less than four months, I learned to lead and learn and hope and dance and keep moving right alongside them. In them, I found my Team.

After all, that’s what we were “hired” to do. We were hired to evaluate, teach, mentor and lead all 16 or so of our LITs (leaders in training). All while being students and employees and volunteers who could manage it all. I have never met so many wholesome, incredible, kind, reliable people that I didn’t know existed on this campus until I became one of them. I couldn’t have done it without my CCE team. Those five Facilitators, our Lead and the board members and then the Awareness Gallery; I’ve never held such a passion, admiration, appreciation, and love for such people. Because we did THAT.

We designed the Gallery and I realized just how deep my passion for storytelling runs in my bones.

We built up a community over twice the size of what it was last year because we were right: underrepresented minority students need a space to exist as they are, to find support just to get through the one thing that we believe we are supposed to be do to succeed. Even when not everyone can get there.

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When you provide a space, it’s going to be used. And it will expand right in front of your eyes.

Just like my life did this year. Because there’s one more group that changed everything, my buddy group. Beyonce.

Bey was only a representation of who our group became, but in the space of six months, I have somehow met and grown to love 11 other people more than I have in the entirety of college. And they’ve given me so many reasons to. I want these people to be a part of the rest of my life, if they’ll have me.

Them, and my roommates. Sure, Nick is stuck with me, but I do have another.

And not to jinx it or anything, but I’ve grown immensely with her. She’s the one I look forward to coming home to lay around the living room with every night, reminiscing and spilling tea and supporting… From Slo days to this day, she is one more person I want in the rest of my life. If she’ll have me.

And you, if you’ll have me too.

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Because the only other person who has seen it all happen is you. Every step of the way. It’s been a lot, right? If I get to add you to the home friends who are slowly becoming life friends, and the college friends here who I hope don’t think I’m letting them go just because one of us graduates, I think I’ve got a whole lot of people in this life that make this something worth sharing. With all of you. For what happens in junior year doesn’t have to stay there, I hope it doesn’t.

If anything, junior year taught me that college isn’t about college at all. It’s about life, the ones we’ve lost and the ones moving forward beside us. It’s about experiencing it, not always knowing what it means or what comes next.

That’s what life is. And this year, I sure as hell lived it.

So that’s a wrap for my junior year of college. Here’s to whatever comes next.

Miss Me?

Photo by Aaron Burden

Did you all miss me last week?

Well here’s the thing, I missed me too. I’ve been moving constantly and doing so many different things at full speed that I can’t believe there are only 24 hours in a day. Between evaluating the 23 student leaders I oversee and chairing practicals for them to analyzing literature in the classroom and classic customer service work at the store, life has been busy.

I started this blog three years ago and since then, last week was the single time I have ever not written a post on Friday. The only time. Ever.

There’s a reason for that.

Have you noticed my posts have been getting later and later to the point where if I posted thirty minutes later it would technically be Saturday? Well if you didn’t, trust me when I say that I noticed. And I apologize. At a certain point it got a little hard to keep up. For someone who doesn’t have class on Fridays, it’s impressive what my calendar always ends up looking like.

Photo by Kristopher Roller

But you know sometimes, a girl just runs out of steam. It’s the end of week 10, prep week for finals, in what has simultaneously been an incredibly long and unbearably quick year. Honestly, I have no idea how we got here already but part of my mind and the whole of my body sure as hell seem to know something I don’t. Because all I hear, with every slap of my rubber soles on slick pavement and quick zip of my backpack before we move on to the next thing, is that I am tired.

So I took a break. A single post, one week without me, did you notice? I did.

Little do you know, by not posting on Friday, I got to go meet two of my best friends from home and my brother downtown for all if their bar crawls since all of our birthdays are close together. These are two of my favorite people I haven’t seen in SO long and I missed them; I missed what it was like to have part of our squad back together again.

So we danced, we bar crawled, and danced some more, a bartender smiled at me as if I was the sweetest thing when I asked for a glass of water because I was genuinely thirsty (sorry, don’t drink), and I let the clock hit midnight as we joined in on the nightlife for a while. I didn’t even know we had nightlife here.

I worked the ache out of my bones and the rust off my body by letting go of thinking for a while and instead, I put all my worries on hold. I decided to just let the memories happen while I happened with it and enjoyed the company of the people I love.

I’m lucky to have them in my life, but sometimes I forget that. By making the choice to go out with them the one night they were in town, I got to spend their birthday celebration with my best friends and also see them for the last time as just another boy and girl in love. Maybe to me, with us, it’ll always be senior year. Causing almost as much trouble on the track as we did around a bonfire. Because less than 24 hours later, they were engaged. And suddenly, we’re growing up.

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Time really does fly by, if you blink, you just might miss it. But there’s something about loving people as individuals and understanding how wonderful it is to watch them love each other, to choose to spend the rest of their lives together. Call it idealistic, but I’m happy for them.

Especially because I know exactly what I wouldn’t have known had I not gone out on Friday. I wouldn’t have gotten to my step goal for the day, I wouldn’t have made a bartender smile at me for a simple question he probably doesn’t get a lot, and I wouldn’t have remembered the genuine appreciation I hold for some people in my life.

All that, and well, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post early today. Because in the process of missing that one blog last week, of making the conscious decision to tell myself it was okay to go, I also managed to find something I had been missing for a little while.

Myself.

Sure, going out doesn’t mean I’m refreshed and ready to go. We’re heading into finals week after all. But it gave me a chance to let go of the bar I hold so high for myself and remember that I’m 21, that not everything holds the weight I believe it to. My shoulders can’t always bear that burden. I needed to put it down for a few hours.

So I’m sorry if you missed me last week; thing is, I missed me too. I miss feeling the life around me and getting lost in things without a plan. I miss breaking routines and dancing shamelessly even if everyone is watching. I miss that good feeling you get when you’re with the people you love and you just know that you are fully and 100% present in the moment with them.

I needed that back, even just for a night. Maybe it’s called self care, I don’t really know exactly what that looks like for me. But I’m willing to find out, if you’ll give me grace for a change in style and some honesty while I do so. After all, maybe just a few of you missed me last week.

Trust me, I missed me too. I miss me. Just know that I’m trying to figure out how to find a new normal, so maybe I don’t have to anymore.

Happy Friday to every one of you. And thanks for sticking with me.