Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 7

This week is a twofer because I'm in love with Matthew Macfadyen. Okay, not really, but he does have that quality that can lead a girl to sigh. It might be the voice.

So, they may have made several dozen versions of the book, but I have to say that this is one of my particular favorite movie renditions of Pride and Prejudice. It's not perfect. It's not strict to the novel, just like so many others aren't, though it does get close enough for my liking. And the actors do a brilliant job of bringing the written characterizations to life. Keira Knightley is brilliant, as always, and deserved the Oscar nod she received from this performance. (Yes, I'm a fan.)

Besides, who doesn't love the story of boy meets girl, boy and girl don't get along, boy and girl start to get along, boy and girl have some conflicts, boy and girl realize that they love each other, boy and girl risk losing each other due to social convention, boy and girl get together and live happily ever after? No one, because it's classic. And I'm willing to risk using a run-on sentence to say it.

The other is Little Dorrit. I caught this on PBS this spring and LOVED it! Yes, a Dickens' classic al a miniseries, but worth watching to the end. It's one of those lovely tales that weaves the lives of its characters skillfully, with a quaint community feel mixed with intrigue and a happy ending or two.

Watch out for "Golam" aka Andy Serkis as the all-too-creepy and manipulative Rigaud. Eddie Marsan has an endearing quality as Pancks and "Gavin and Stacey" co-creator and alum Ruth Jones as the silly Flora is delightful.

In case you haven't noticed yet, I'm a fan of the historical drama (and an Anglophile). Please forgive me if they pop up from time to time. A little Austen here, Dickens there - it can't hurt.

Matthew Macfadyen is Darcy in the first and Arthur Clennam in the second and probably one of the best parts of both films. He's kept mainly to mainstream British films and television, but if you don't know who he is, you may recognize his face from Frost/Nixon. He has a nice range and that's definitely part of his appeal. Check out more of his work. I suggest the spy series "Spooks" (also known by American audiences as "MI-5") and Death at a Funeral, a hilarious comedy (which is being re-made for American audiences - why can't they leave well-enough alone?).

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

In memory of Julia...

It was four years ago this week.

So strange that time moves on after someone has moved beyond the restrictions of the clock, into the ether, or whatever lies beyond, and leaves the rest of us behind to continue to seek answers that they have already acquired.

My friend Julia died four years ago. It was in the height of a two year period that I went to eight funerals. Two were highly significant to me. The first was my grandfather's in November of 2004. The other was Julia's.

She was only twenty years old. In that time, she'd experienced both wonderful and horrific things that shaped the person that she was. She was sweet, and kind, and generous. She loved her nephew and was on her way to finding a peace after a bout of contentiousness between herself and her parents. But a series of events pushed her over the edge, and a depression that few knew the depths of ate at her until she finally decided to take her life.

And the ones who loved her that she left behind wondered in astonishment what each could have done to change what she did, to stop her, change her mind, or take away her inner pain.

I think anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one probably gains some measure of morbidity. After the loss of both my father and grandfather, Lord knows I certainly did. But when Julia died, it took the wind right out of me. There were no morbid thoughts. Merely regrets. What didn't I see? How could I not realize?

With most funerals you fill your mind with thoughts of how sad you are, but that that person is in a better place. With the funeral of someone who has committed suicide, your mind is shocked and absorbed with the impossible to answer to the question, "Why?"

I really miss her. I'd known her from a distance her whole life. But in the last couple years, we'd gotten to know each other. She was one of those people you could have a conversation about almost anything with. She had a depth to her that few people at her age have without the accompanying condescension and pretension. Julia was real. It was evident that she wanted to make the world a better place. If only she'd given herself a chance to really do that. She was so thoughtful and everyone that knew her was profoundly touched by her. So, maybe she did.

Julia, wherever you are, you are truly missed.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pushing the car uphill - not really.

You will not believe what this bonehead (me) did the other night.

I went home on my lunch break (like I always do) and come time to go back to work, the car ran out of gas. Now, I knew it was a touch below "empty", but I thought it would be enough to get through the night and get some in the morning. No such luck. And I was having such a good night too. I heard on a radio commercial many, many years ago that the "E" stands for "Eh, still got quarter of a tank." They lie.

It hadn't been on "E" long. I thought for sure I would be fine because I don't live that far from the store. Live and learn.

Anyhow, I had to call a manager and they sent someone for me. I got $4 worth of gas to last me until morning, and the sweetheart who came to get me pumped the gas and put it into the car for me. I was forty-five minutes late, but I was ahead of schedule anyway so I wasn't worried.
Still, it was wholly embarrassing. I'll be fine one moment, and the next it will pop into my head, and I'll wince a little. I know I'm not the only one who's ever done this (and won't be the last), but I know better. And I did it anyway.
Just like cupcakes. I know I shouldn't eat them. I know better. But I'll eat them anyway.

On a completely different note, I am super pissed that Quinn is lying to Finn on Glee about her pregnancy. What the hell?! This won't bode well for the Rachel-Finn love connection.

See for yourself:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 6

After my asking for thoughts on a feel-good movie for the week, my sister made two recommendations: Elmocize and The Princess Bride. I've opted for the second of the two.

I cannot tell you how much I love this movie. It has everything a person could want in a feel-good film - comedy, drama, action, and a man with an accent bent on revenge. "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

And the sweetness of Andre the Giant wins me over every time I curl up on the couch to watch it. Plus, I get caught up in the passionate romance between Buttercup and Westley. (Yes, I'm sighing.)

One of my personal favorites, and of course, a cult classic, The Princess Bride is a highly entertaining way to spend a rainy afternoon or a wintry evening.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chicken or the Egg?

What came first? The third shift or the crazy?

Before I quit at the store the last time I worked there, I came up with this question about those who brave the midnight hour and work until past dawn: "Are third-shifters strange because they're on third shift or are they on third shift because they are strange?"

It's a strange sort of reality, being awake when you should be asleep, asleep when you should be awake. And working when it should be a crime to work.

Why can't we live on one of those planets that has a forty-hour day, one in which the spin on the axis requires a little more time, more like a leisurely stroll than spinning wildly through the solar system (not really, but you know what I mean)? If that were the case, then there would be no need for a third shift. Everything would be done. Awww. How nice.

I occasionally have had bouts of insomnia and when I saw the dawn breaking, I would just be depressed for the time lost that I could've been sleeping. Now, I see the sun coming up and it fills me with relief. I made it through another night with the weirdos. Okay, they aren't really all that weird, but the strange sleeping pattern doesn't lend well to a sane disposition. Imagine zombies that have acquired horrible smoking habits and without the impulse to eat the living.

At least I don't stock shelves. My body would be rejecting me if I did. I admire those that can.

Unfortunately, I'm off tonight and the next two nights, and I won't be able to sleep at the normal times. Ho-hum. What are you gonna do? It's a job. Could be worse. I just keep telling myself, "It's just for now. It's just for now."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The point of walking...

I was on my way to work last night when I saw a sight that I find amusing at the expense of someone else's pride (they just don't know it).

There was a guy, probably in his twenties, making his way down the sidewalk. His gait was horribly awkward (and not in a possibly-physically-disabled-but-not-quite-sure way), and he was wearing the ever-popular (though I can't think why) "wife beater". Yeah, I know I shouldn't use that appalling term, but I have a point. I'm calling that particular walk the "beater step". It's midway between a cool swagger and a drunken stagger.

Walking, like driving, or riding a bike, or flying, is a mode of transportation. It gets you from Point A to Point B - as simple as that. But it seems that it must be dressed up with some pseudo-dance move to somehow make this guy special, make him stand out. I'm guessing that he has to do this in place of a piece-of-junk car with flashy rims.

This isn't the first guy I've noticed doing this. Every once in a while, one will pop up. Makes me think that maybe there's some kind of conspiracy going on to confuse me in my more paranoid moments. But that's just more of my inner-crazy peeking around the corner.

Speaking of inner-crazy, I had a minor bout of insecurity at the job. Seems I don't think or move as fast as I used to. I know, I know. Get over it, Sam. You'll be a pro again soon - God-willing.

But I have to say, I feel really exposed right now because I'm just now remembering some things that got lost since leaving the store, things that I naturally did or followed the process of. It's a strange sort of vulnerability that I didn't think I'd experience by returning to the same store and the same job. When you start a new job at a place you've never work before, doing something you've never done before, you expect that. But because people know me, I keep thinking they are probably expecting all of this to just come back as if I'd never left. So, I kind of shuffle my feet and make awkward expressions, coming up with excuses that I don't really need. Everyone there is pretty patient and saying, "Don't worry. You're doing fine." Am I? Am I really?

This constant need for reassurance is annoying even to me. I can't wait until I'm back to "good" and not just "okay".

I need sleep.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sure, I see it now...

I just read an article online about toxic friendships. And my eyes are opened.

You see, dear readers, I always prided myself on my friendships. I chose people who I believed were worthy of my time and efforts. Looking at this article though, I have to admit that I've come across a few bad relationships with girlfriends. And I ask myself now why I didn't see that before.

Namely, I was the one putting forth all the effort in the friendship. That is by far my biggest pet peeve now, but at the time, as frustrating as it was, I was willing to do all the work for the sake of the friendship. Now, I let friendships run their course. If the friend isn't willing to meet me in the middle, forget it. I can settle for an acquaintance.

In recent years, I've come the farthest with letting go of the emotionally draining, I-think-she-stole-my-life-force-out-of-me friendships. To listen to problem after problem, depressing detail after depressing detail, without so much as acknowledging anything I might like to share, is like digging my own grave. Oh my God! Do these people really believe they are the only ones on the planet, that they're the only ones with issues? Or are they purposely trying to drive the people around them nuts? Good Lord! Go smell a flower or something. Eat a brownie. Anything but continue on and on and on about how your boyfriend/husband/ex-boyfriend/ex-husband/father/stepfather/mother/stepmother/boss/neighbor/mailman/dog-walker is screwing with your head and you need to move or change your phone number or pretend you don't speak English or whatever.

I could've used the book the article is about a long time ago. Where was it then? Even now, I catch myself with friendships that I question the motivation behind. It's always with my girlfriends too. Never the guys. Strange how that is. I guess they really are a whole other species (yeah, I'm learning that too). Even with my gay male friends, while the drama is ever-present (though in waves), I still feel I have an equal footing with them. I'm not afraid of the sucking vortex that some of the relationships I've had in the past have ushered into my life.

Wouldn't the world be an awesome place if all our friendships were fully heartfelt and they were as excited to be in our lives as we are to be in theirs? [Insert sigh here.]

You can read the article here.

By the way, the job kept me an hour late because I couldn't put two and two together. Not good when all I do is count all night. (I keep telling myself, "I'll get there. Don't worry." I have only been back at this for a week.)

Here, this makes me happy...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 5

Good God! I forgot Cinema Therapy, yet again. This will be a bad habit. Just warning you. So I'll give you a two-for-one. They actually go together.

First is the original Cheaper by the Dozen (1950), with Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy as the happily married Gilbraiths, and Jeanne Crain as the oldest of their expanding brood. All of the characters are particularly lovely, but you just have to love Clifton Webb as Frank Gilbraith, the overbearing, yet oh-so-dear father. And even though you might be sad due to the ending, you'll find that the overall theme of the film of family and togetherness will make you want to watch it again and again.

The other movie is the sequel, Belles on Their Toes. While you miss the hilarious antics of the family patriarch, you'll love the continuing story of the Gilbraiths and their mother, whose efforts are aimed at breaking down boundaries for women. Furthermore, the love story between Ann and her doctor suitor, as well as the boys' funny attempts to break up Ernestine and her annoying boyfriend will keep you in stitches (yes, I used the cliche).

While you will still enjoy the second without seeing the first, I'd recommend picking up Cheaper first so that none of the references in the second are missed. Plus, both are wonderful films and some of my favorites.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Revenge of the Blubber

Funny how I thought that I could just start working at the store again, and no one would notice that I had gained weight - a lot of weight.

Most people were polite - one of my managers said, "Oh, you look so different." My response: "Well, I just highlighted my hair." "That must be it." (I'll come back to the highlighting fiasco.)

But I forgot just how ghetto my store is. One of my co-workers decided to be oh-so-blunt: "Girl, how did you get so chunky?!" My excuse is the lack of activity, which is conveniently true, in conjunction with eating whatever I want (and I mean, whatever I want). Another was, "Man, you've gained a lot of weight." Thanks. I think I'd like to thank Ben and Jerry for that one.

I thought I'd be safe in my little office on third shift. No one would notice me. I'd be back, but without the excess hassle. Ugh. Totally wrong. So now, there really is no pretending that I didn't get fat. I have to accept the fact that people I have a history with are going to notice.

On the upside, I think all the added movement is working to my weight-loss advantage. Most people gain weight on third shift. This is due to sleeping issues more than anything else. (There's some statistic about this, but I've managed to forget it.) I don't have this problem. I get home and within a half-hour, I'm asleep. I might get up a couple times to pee, but otherwise, I don't seem to be having any trouble sleeping during the day. And I've been eating more after I get up, but I'm still adjusting to eating lunch at 2 AM. Suffice it to say, I've been eating less overall. With the comments by my "beloved" co-workers, it might be time to get serious about the treadmill. And the healthy eating.

So, now the highlighting. I haven't cut my hair since March, and it's driving me a little nuts. At the same time, I've been hesitant to go get it cut. (I have trust issues.) Anyway, the roots were ever-present, so I picked up a box of Colour Experte (from L'oreal - love the stuff). I did the overall dying first, per the instructions. The highlighting was more tricky. The last time I used this particular dye, the highlighter applicator was this wand that looked like a giant mascara brush. It worked out really well. They still have that, but they also have another applicator that I thought I would try. I have to say, it was actually harder to work with, and the highlighting didn't turn out as well. (Note: It doesn't help that I got caught up with something and had the mixture on a "hair" too long and then it was extra light.) This particular applicator made it harder to get close enough to the scalp, so some of it looks weird. But, now that I'm seeing it everyday, it's growing on me and I actually like it. I just do a pseudo-part to compensate for any strangeness.

So, the first week of work was fairly painless, only minute amounts of hurt pride. I'm re-learning my job pretty efficiently, and I think I'll be fine on Thursday when I go back and work by myself (which is still a scary thought so soon after coming back). I'm just grateful I survived relatively unscathed.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Analyzing the specimen

I don't know why I find it mortifying, but I do. Peeing in a cup and handing over to another person is downright weird. And not the good kind of weird. It's the I-can't-wait-to-leave-the-room-and-try-to-forget-this-experience weird. Not quite traumatizing. Not quite part of the norm.

So, the proof that I'm not a junkie of any kind and don't partake of the occasional joint has reached the personnel office at the store. My sister said she's surprised they do a pee test there instead of the more accurate hair follicle pulling test (which probably costs too much for the low-price giant). The hotel my brother-in-law works at used to only use the hair test. After having a very high rate of positive returns, they decided to quit that. They couldn't find enough qualified people who weren't smoking weed. A compromise had to be reached. Now they just have crappy staff.

Today is the ever-dreaded (not really) orientation. Since I've already worked for this company before, and done the job that I will have, I thought that I might be able to forgo the ritualistic Wal-Mart propagandizing that an afternoon watching WMTV and doing computer modules subjects their staff (sorry, associates) to, but no such luck. So, as of 2:30 PM (central time), I will be a Wal-Mart associate again. As my friend Sadie would say, "Well, slap my ass and call me Sally." Yeah, I almost didn't think this day would arrive (and for a long time, didn't want it to), but I've reconciled myself to this. It's not a forever job. Just a for-now job. And that's okay.

I had a chance to watch Glee last night. Diggin' it. I figured keeping the momentum from the pilot going would be tough, but this crew seems up to the challenge with this episode. You can watch it below. Their performance at the assembly is hilarious!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cinema Therapy, volume 4

After yet another hiatus, I'm back with a pic that makes me ever so happy whenever I watch it: Love, Actually. Yes, this weaving tale is complicated, both serious and silly, and is all-around lovely.

And Hugh Grant is the Prime Minister. So, what's not to love?

Probably the best part about it is that it's one of those movies that interweaves very realistic elements of life with the humorous into the story (for example, the recently waning marriage of Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, as well as the heart-warming friendship between has-been rock star Bill Nighy and his ever exasperated manager).

With a tag-line like "The Ultimate Romantic Comedy", you don't know what to expect: either a Judd Apatow, minutely raucous if not raunchy film, with some romance, or something too tame for words that talks itself up as both incredibly romantic and comedic without being either. This film is heartfelt, and very funny.

Back when this came out in 2003, I was still chafing from a failed relationship, and while it wasn't needed to talk me down from a very high ledge, it was a bit of a comfort.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Among other things... a little Swank.

This just in:

It's official. Sam has a job. Some big to-do at the store held things up (and by "to-do", I mean they don't have their act together - nothing new). I'll know more of the details tomorrow.

In the meantime, I've been reflecting on the last couple of weeks (the time since the interviews), and I have to say, I've been remarkably cool about this whole waiting game. I think this a mark of my evolution. The new Sam does not fret. What will be will be. A serious cut in worrying is making my life a whole lot more pleasant. Who'da thunk?

Perhaps the philosophy that worrying solves absolutely nothing, instead just causes more unnecessary suffering, is to be adopted. I guess I can cross that off of my life's "to do" list.

(Note my use of "to do" and "to-do", both in the same post. This is me attempting to be amusing, though even I think it's kind of dumb. Do you ever have those moments where you say something that was meant to be a joke or witty, and it completely flops, and you are the only one chuckling while everyone else is looking at you with either confusion or one of those scrunched up faces that clearly says, "I can't believe you bothered to say that"?)

On another note, my grandmother's recent dive into all things internet related is scaring me a little. When the web was first really gaining speed among the population, back in the mid to late 90's, she warned against it, relaying some message Bible-beater related. I think the technology scared her. Now that she finally got a computer and has been using it everyday, checking out all that this beautiful thing called the world wide web has to offer, I'm terrified. She's already told me about a few things that she would swear is true but is clearly a scam. My thoughts go from zero to "Oh my God! Gramma, don't give them all your money!" in two seconds or less. I'm trying not to worry about it because anything costing more than thirty dollars makes her suspicious.

So now, on to the good stuff.

I have been informed that I was nominated for a Swanky Blog award. I must thank armyblond, who was sweet enough to nominate me.

Per the protocol for this award, I am to nominate this blogger in return, as well as up to nine more blogs and inform the bloggers in their comments section of this nomination.

Sharing the love with (in no particular order):

Be sure to give them a look-see.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The view from Afar

I received my first issue of Afar magazine yesterday. Turns out it's actually the premier issue, so I was pretty stoked. While I haven't read the whole thing yet, I have to admit, I was pretty impressed with what I did read.

First of all, the founders are committed to good foresting practices, which is always a good thing. Secondly, their concept for the mag is a really good one - experiential travel. There's plenty of Travel & Leisure and Budget Travel out there to cover what every other travel mag does - they scratch the surface, but don't offer nearly as much about the adventure that traveling really is. I love this concept. Thirdly, they are looking to expand already, with a full-fledged website, line of books, and a foundation in the works. Said founders, Greg and Joe, no doubt, are keeping pretty busy.

Interested in your own copy of Afar, check out the website here.

I don't know what's going on yet with the dawdlers at Wal-mart. I was told an orientation was in the works, and then they had to key interviews into the system before scheduling an orientation, and now, I've just learned, they finally called my references. I should be freaking right now. Is thing actually going to happen? But I'm not. If it turns out that things don't work out, so be it. There has to be someplace out there that wouldn't be completely opposed to hiring, even if that place is McDonald's. I guess it's alright to come home smelling like french fries. I'm just really tired of fretting. F- it!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to square one, or how Sam defeated her bruised ego.

So, I have to admit something...

I'm going back to work for Wal-Mart. (I can hear the gasps and tongue-clicking from here).

It came time to be brutally honest with myself about the occurrences of the last couple of years, and it wasn't pretty.

I started my business back in 2006, not because I had a passion for it, though I do like to travel (it was a business marketing wholesale travel packages), but because I was mad at the stupid store. I felt betrayed at the time, not that it was anything personal.

Okay, here's the breakdown:

In January 2001, I was a junior in college, and I started working at Wal-Mart for no other reason than to make some dough. Back then, I was working another part-time job in school-age child care (which I really liked), and was going to school full-time. Then I picked up the Wal-Mart job, a full-time position. I was very quickly burned out, tapped out financially, and decided to use this as an excuse to quit school instead of the store (which, looking back, was the biggest mistake I've made yet).

By November that year, I was a department manager, which was another horrid mistake. I became emotionally involved with this place. It was definitely a disillusioning experience.

Every time I tried to step down from the position, my very persuasive and charismatic store manager would talk me off the ledge. This happened at least twice. Finally, I acquired a full-time job at a bank as a teller, and as the schedules conflicted, I was released from being a department manager.

I continued on at the store as a sort of "odd job" girl, doing this and that, staying busy because I could cover certain things for other department managers when they didn't have time and because that store is fairly psychotic on a daily basis anyway.

After being at the bank for about a year and a half, I got into the cash office (or accounting dept.). Finally, finally, I was in a position I actually liked. Soon after, I quit the bank. I was in the office for over two years when they switched the whole program and a number of people were going to be moved out to the floor. I was devastated. If I didn't take a part-time position, I would have to go back to the floor or as a cashier or as a customer service manager. Ugh!

This little opportunity came along around the same time to run my own business from home. Looking back, I was looking for any excuse to quit that place, and I took it.

Look, I liked the product I sold (and can still sell if I choose). I thought there was a lot of opportunity there. But the truth was that the organization I was with focused nearly all of their attention on network marketing (getting people to start their own business) instead of retail marketing. Even the business to business marketing was annoying. Then that organization decided to drop that product altogether and go with something else (a very quick way for the founders - with thousands under them - to rake in millions - and we're talking a matter of days). It was an unethical situation.

I tried going it alone for a while, and I tried and I tried and I tried. It was so draining, and I didn't want to admit some horrible failure. But that's what it was. So here I am, all this time later with nothing to show for it.

I shredded my 720 credit score (God knows what it is now). I ruined my work history. I lost my car. My relationships have been strained to the breaking point. And it ended up being all for nothing.

So, here's where I got honest with myself:

I finally asked myself what it was I really wanted. Absolutely positively. In very certain terms.

What do I want? What do I want?

1. I want to travel. That's why I started that type of business. So, that's definitely on the list. I want to go everywhere (I'm imagining Tina Fey saying "I want to go to there".) Here I am saying, "Let's work on that". Paris, Dublin, Goa, Buenos Aires, not to mention a ton of other places. They're officially on the list.

2. I want to write. Ever since I was a little kid, I knew that's what I wanted to do. I've been incredibly inconsistent with it (and that I will definitely work on), but ultimately, I keep gravitating towards that. So, I'm structuring a novel. In the works, so check.

3. I want to find a way to be of service. I'm coming up with little ideas that will hopefully sprout into bigger ideas. My mom mentioned a few months ago that she was disappointed in herself that she didn't instill a sense of duty when it came to volunteering. When we were kids, she was going through a lot, and I think we still turned out relatively decent. I don't hold it against her. But I think that I will feel a lot more fulfilled when I'm making a contribution to society other than paying taxes, voting, and showing up for jury duty.

4. I want to take off the depression weight. At least thirty pounds of it. Yuck! How did I let this happen? Oh well. I can do it. I've always noticed that when I'm happy, I'm smaller. I'm guessing this has to do with a huge number of hormones that I don't know the names of, but they all probably have at least six syllables.

So, after an extensive job search that was both depressing and disappointing, I think I found the right job at the right time. And ironically, it's at Wal-Mart.

There was an opening in the accounting office at the store I used to work at. Apparently they are having a hard time finding people who don't lose large amounts of money.

As much as I dreaded the thought of going back, after the interview process and all the anxiety that comes with applying for a job I left because I thought I had something better, the people I used to work with are welcoming me back with open arms.

I know. It's Wal-Mart. There can't be a huge lesson learned from there, and in all honesty, I don't plan on staying forever. But I feel very lucky that this happened. Is there some kind of cosmic force at work. I'm not holding my breath, but I am sighing with a sort of relief.

At any rate, I'll have plenty of writing material.

So, I'm starting at square one. This is Sam starting over. Better I got through my mid-life crisis now. I feel like the rest of my life awaits. And instead of being overly depressed, I'm ready to get going, wholly optimistic, and, I think, in a frame of mind that is finally being honest with me.

I don't know if my story will be one of those inspiring pieces that will spread by word of mouth until I'm relatively famous for being a prodigal Wal-Mart worker (God forbid). But I do know that I feel like a ton of weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

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