Friday, October 11, 2013

Crazy Hooker to Crazy....Homemaker? ~ If I Can Do It, So Can You!

So this girl walks into a bar...

No really....I walked into a bar. It was a Sunday night. I had just ended things with a boyfriend ~ we did one of those really awesome dragged-out, disgusting, all-night, dramatic, battle-to-the-dawn, epic breakups. I was running on maybe three hours of sleep and my hair was piled on my head like a rat's nest. My friend made me go. It was karaoke night, she had whined to me over the phone. C'mon Jen. Karaoke.

So there I was. A girl in a bar.

We spotted this dude we knew and headed over to the booth he'd managed to nab. They still allowed smoking in the bars back then and through the dark haze I noticed another guy at the booth, this one unfamiliar. He was smoking and going on and on about how he was on leave from Fort Campbell, an Army base about 8 hours away. 

Not exactly sure what about him irritated me. Maybe it was his tone. Maybe it was the whole "ooo I'm an ARMY guy oooo!" It might've been my terrible hangover from the night before combined with breakup puffy-eye syndrome and general fatigue. Can't really put my finger on it. He annoyed the crap out of me.

"Ya know, I'm in the Army, too. 91-W series combat medic. Really not that big of a deal."

Unknown guy was surprised. "Oh yea? What unit?"

"634th FSB out of Camp Lincoln."

"Huh," he said. "That's an Army duty station? Where is that, exactly?"

Ugghhh here we go, I thought. "I'm not active duty. Army National Guard," I said, with force.

He smiled, irritatingly. "Ahhh, a weekend warrior."

I hated him. "Yea, I go to drill on the weekends. Oh and what did you say your MOS was, again? You pull triggers and pins, yes? Takes about 2 days to learn how to do that, huh? I was trained to save lives. I attended training at one of the best medical facilities in the world and am fully certified in both military and civilian medical services. Months of training, testing, and practicals in a fully-operational military hospital. So before you go spouting off about how easy we 'weekend warriors' have it, you might want to stop and consider who patches your butt up when you fall off that high horse."

He smiled again. Dammit. He liked that.

"Can I get you and your friend a drink?" he asked. 

Aha! Now that's what I'm talking about. I could handle insults when free stuff was involved. No shame. 

The moment he got up I grabbed my friend and shout-whispered, "HEY! You can have him! Go for it!"

"WHAT?" she shout-whispered back. "Jenny, what are you talking about! No! I'm not even looking for anything like that!"

Uggggh.

He returned with two drinks. I took my hair out of its falling rat's nest. He told me I should leave it down, it looked really pretty. I put it back up.

We'd arrived late so within an hour, the bar closed. At this point I was all amped up on caffeine and didn't want to go home. Plus I really enjoyed taking out my post-breakup man-hate on this unfamiliar guy. We'd found another friend and decided to go dancing ~ we knew a place about 45 minutes away that stayed open until 2AM. It was there, with my two friends dancing by themselves in the background, that unfamiliar guy kissed me. Eh, what the heck. I kissed back.

He became my very first one-night stand. Rebound? Absolutely. Did I like him the next day? Not really. Didn't know him, so I couldn't really form an opinion. Just keeping it classy.

And then the day came. The day. The woman day. It came and then it went. Nothing. Huh. Crazy. Broke out the stick. Two pink lines. My two dogs, Chevy and Dasani (named her after a water bottle, I'm so clever), found out first. I called my karaoke friend. What was I going to do? 

Sounds pretty dang terrible, huh? Oh it gets better.

I told unfamiliar guy about the baby and he took it well. Said he would be there for me. Then, one night, he called me drunk out of his mind. He was in his parents' driveway, he said, with no way to get in. Yea...that's about all it took for me to slam that door. I was freakin out as it was, I didn't need some alcohol-infused teen-man running around stressing me out. I told him to call me back when he wanted to talk about the baby. 

I was a cocktail waitress at a bar. My boss fired me for being pregnant at drill with my unit on a night he needed me. I'd told him I would be at drill two weeks ahead of time, but the guy prolly didn't hear me through his 7th vodka and tonic. I'd been renting a room from a friend and couldn't afford to continue paying the rent. I had no insurance, no money, no job.

So I applied for Medicaid. And WIC. And got on the housing list. And found a new job working at a dental office. After six months of grueling interviews and applications and proving I wasn't some secretly wealthy pregnant lady, I secured an apartment at a brand-new, low-income apartment complex. I was the first person to live in my apartment. It was clean, fresh, small, and perfect.

But the baby. Still wasn't sure I could take care of a baby better than some rich family somewhere with a huge house and puppies and begonias lining the walkway. I scoured adoption sites and sobbed, picked out people who looked perfect and ready and loving. 

"Jen," my girlfriend said to me on one of my particularly bad days, "you know you can take care of a baby just as good as a rich couple. Look at your mom. Look at mine. They were both single moms without a lot of money. Were you miserable growing up?"

I remember her comments washing over me like sunlight. I didn't have to give up my baby. I could do this. I really could. I would need to work hard. But I could do it. I made a promise to myself, though, that if I decided to keep this baby, I would do so wholly and completely. No screwing around. The baby would come first, always, and I would do everything in my power to ensure she never felt unwanted or deprived of a stable life. I had my mother as the perfect example of what a family can become with a lot of love and a little creativity. I could do this. Right?

My answer came a few weeks later. I was about 6 months along and back on the adoption sites, tears welling up, when *thunk*......*thunk tumtum thunk*.....****THUMP**** .....hi mama. 

Unfamiliar guy was allowed back in shortly after those first kicks. I guess I needed that time to myself...to figure things out, to make some hard choices, to get settled. He forgave me and when he left for Iraq later that fall, he had my kisses on his lips and weekly letters on the horizon.

Our baby was born on a clear January night.


I'll be the first to tell you our circumstances were not ideal. I've heard and felt the sting of judgement many times, sometimes from those I loved and considered friends.  But in case you haven't guessed, that unknown guy stuck around for a little while. We'll be married seven years this January. Married after our beautiful daughter was born. Dating years after we were wed. Going through all the terrible hard stuff in the first five years. We apparently like to do things out of order.


But you see, something started for me in the worst of ways. Girl walks into bar, girl gets knocked up, girl loses job, girl gets on welfare. Aside from Congress, I am the most hated group in America, right??

I chose to dig, and climb, and scratch, and suck up the pride, and lean on those who loved me. I reached out to any resource I could find. I was very blessed. I was also very determined. 

Freaky, life-changing things happen everyday. I've made some terrible mistakes in my life......but working hard at this life I have chosen is not one of them

When you find yourself in a situation saturated with hopelessness and fear, draw on your powers of resourcefulness. Reach out. DO something. Change something. Make a choice. Find contentment or find another path. We each have an incredible ability to create......destruction or peace, joy or sorrow, your call.

I'm tellin ya, tho......joy and peace kinda rule.



Jen 


62 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. I love it!! You are truly an inspiration. You absolutely prove what can happen when you fight and work hard for what you know is right. And look at you now. A beautiful happy family. I am proud to know you.

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    1. Thank you so much Sarah :) My struggles are normally self-inflicted and completely avoidable....but what's the fun in staying sane? :) Overjoyed to have you as a reader !!!

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  2. Jen, You really put yourself out there, no holding back. Our struggles I truly believe make us a little stronger. Power on Girl!!!!

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    1. Thanks Nicole!! I agree with you 100% and although it ain't always pretty, life's challenges are gateways to bigger and better things. There's always a reason, even if you can't see why at first. Thank you so much for reading!!

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  3. My very first one night stand turned out to be my very first (& only) husband as well! I was so excited to be single and adventurous and kind of bad and then... oof - he just never left my side ;) We've been married for 11 years. No baby to bring us together or any kind of struggle really, except that he lived in Canada at the time but honestly our meeting sealed the deal for me as far as believing that everything happens for a reason - I'm convinced that my entire life was leading up to that point. I guess it pays to be adventurous and a little bad sometimes! High fives to us!

    LittleBirdBlogs

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    1. Yes! I love your story ~ it's so exciting to think that at any moment, the next best thing of your life could happen. No prep, no worries...it just happens! Love it! Thank you so much for reading!

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  4. What an amazing, heart wrenching (at first) and beautiful story, Jen. You made it work for you, and that's amazing.

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    1. Thank you Alison :) I kinda feel like the best things in life are often the hardest to obtain....nothing comes without some sort of lesson attached. Makes things interesting, that's for sure! Thanks for reading :)

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  5. Oh man.. I love it. I don't love the "OMG - WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?" Feeling that you experienced, or the comments some people closest to you may have said. I love the fact that you owned your actions and DID IT. The fact that unfamiliar guy decided to stick around, and that you finally actually liked him is icing on the cake!

    I bartended my way through college after getting out of the Army - as a single parent. Imagine, a single mother, going to school all day and working 6 nights a week and having two kids under the age of 8.

    It sucked. But you know what? I got that degree. In 3 1/2 years.

    And along the way, there I was, bartender in a bar.

    And some guy that I remembered from somewhere walked in.

    I pointed at him - he pointed at me. Range walked over to my side of the bar and screamed at me, "I KNOW YOU!"

    I haven't been able to get rid of him since! :)

    Working through life always brings the highest rewards. It makes you appreciate every (well, almost!) experience that you have.

    Sometimes the roads aren't easy. But they are certainly interesting, exhausting and most of all - the best roads to be on. :)

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    1. What an incredible story! I love LOVE hearing stories like yours...so strong. I am in complete agreement....all those moments of pain and tribulation have led me to a stronger, more capable sense of self. I sometimes look back at those days and feel kinda invincible!!

      And then I step in poo or knock over something glass and that whole image just flies right out the window :)

      Thank you so much for reading!

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  6. Wow. Just...wow. I absolutely love these kinds of personal blog posts because it makes me feel like I know so much more about you...yet it takes courage to share something like this.

    I'm so glad you did. Thank you, what a fantastic story. (Stopping by from SITS...SITS also led me to your "Don't Talk to a Pregnant Lady post last week,too! lol)

    Have a great weekend!

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    1. Thank you so much!! These comments are making me tear up a little - what an awesome group of ladies we have over at SITS! So glad you stopped by (again!!) and thrilled to have you as a reader! :)

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  7. Wow! What an amazing story. The crazy part is that it's TRUE! I love your honesty and how you forgave yourself. I especially love your call to action at the end to DO something when all hope seems lost. I agree 100%!!! Your daughter is very lucky to have a mom like you. Visiting from SITS!

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    1. Awww thank you!!! The call to action was the hardest part.....it's so much easier to stay idle and let things "just happen"...I like to think I have some say in how I end up in this life! Thank you so so much for your kind words and for reading!! Both mean so much to me!

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  8. Oh wow, Jen! What an incredible beautiful and inspirational story! Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

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    1. :) :) :) Thank you so much! I am so glad you are part of the SITS community - your comments always make me feel so good!!

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  9. Great post! I really admire your ability to "put it all out there" and be vulnerable and raw. And, I admire your spunk! I like that you've put a face on welfare--not everyone is out to milk the system. And, as an adopted person myself, I admire your ability to go through with the pregnancy. I've written "admire" a lot in this comment--which tells me that's the essence of my reaction to your story. You wrote knowing some could judge you, you had the baby knowing others judged you, you have done a lot in your life in spite of what others may think of you--and you own it. That's pretty admirable!

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    1. Thank you Nicole! I think the welfare thing is possibly the hardest for me...I have so many friends who work hard and have strong opinions against welfare and Medicaid. It can be easy to shrug away some of the real stories behind the state's welfare recipients! And thank you SO much for the sweet words - you have no idea how much they mean to me!! :)

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  10. This is amazing! I had an unplanned baby as well... as a teenager... working a part-time job and living with my parents. My parents broke the news to me two weeks after I told them I was pregnant that they were divorcing and filing for bankruptcy. Now, it's almost three years later and I have a healthy, happy 2-year old and me and his father are still together. We have rough days almost every day, but we're making it and working hard every single day, just like you did and still are. I loved hearing your story!

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    1. Thank you Ashlee! I love writing about things like this because it often allows me to read the stories of others. I cannot even imagine how crazy things must've been for you back when you were pregnant and am so inspired by your strength! Love that you stopped by today and I hope you have an awesome day!!!

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  11. Wow, crazy, beautiful, scary, wonderful story. Thanks for sharing. So glad I stopped to read this! #SITSblogging

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    1. Thank you Beth!! I am so glad you stopped over, too :) Grateful to have you!!

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  12. This is awesome. YALL GO ON WITH YOUR BAD SELVES! Happy SITS DAY!!

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    1. HAHAHAHA thank you so much!! So glad you stopped by today and have an awesome weekend!

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  13. What a great "Beauty form ashes" kind of story! So glad you were true to yourself and made your circumstances work for you!

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    1. Thank you Rabia :) I love that phrase.....such a complement and makes me feel so good!! :) Thanks for stopping by and reading :)

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  14. Thank you for sharing your story! Thankful that your story turned out so beautifully!!

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    1. Thank you Stephanie :) :) :) I am very grateful for how things worked out as well :)

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  15. Loved reading your journey!

    Coming over from SITS

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    1. Yea!! Thanks Alicia! Love me some SITS comment love :)

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  16. This was quite an introduction to your blog, and I loved it. You definitely sound like my kinda gal - your story may not have been a fairytale one but you got your happy ending!

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    1. Thank you Dana - what an awesome compliment! :) And yes, there's lots of shoeless women.....and evil witches who try to feed me things all day.....and sometimes I have to deal with a beast of a man.....but you are absolutely correct, this is no fairy tale....just one happy lil ending :) Thank you so much for stopping by!!

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  17. I feel like I just met you and grew to know you all in one sitting. I love your via on life...the ups downs mistakes recoveries...all of it. Great post, great share and great blog. you've found a follower in me. Happy SITSDay and I hope it's as amazing as you are!

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    1. *gasp*! You have me tearing up at my computer....the family is looking at me like, "what the heck is wrong!?".....thank you so, so much. What an incredible compliment your comment is and I am so grateful you decided to stop by! Honored to have you as a reader :) :) Thanks for making my day!!

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  18. Love this: "We each have an incredible ability to create......destruction or peace, joy or sorrow, your call."

    I'm glad you're in a good place. You've worked hard to get there. Enjoy it!

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    1. Thank you so much! It's so true that we each have the power to change our situation and alter our own fate. No one is powerless. I am so glad you stopped by and thank you so much for commenting! Have a great weekend!!

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  19. Great story, great post. Thanks for sharing something so personal and beautiful.

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    1. Thank you Stacy! :) :) :) So grateful you stopped by and even more thankful you decided to comment. Feeling so loved today! THANKS! :)

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  20. Stopping by from SITS and I'm just totally floored at the power of this post. I can't remember the last time I read something so powerful. You need to make this into a NY Times Bestselling book!!!

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    1. Wow!!! What a completely flattering thing to say!! I have to be honest, I didn't expect this post to be one of my favorites. I wrote it one night when I was feeling exceptionally down by someone's welfare comments on Facebook. I am so stunned by the positive reaction and unyielding support everyone has given this post! It has absolutely made my day, week, month, year....I'll remember these comments forever! Thank you so, so much for stopping by and for reading.

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  21. Hi! This is the way we meet... you being raw and honest and so... awesome! Thanks for sharing your story. Yes, joy and peace do kind of rule.

    Pleased to meet you and happy SITS day.
    xoxo

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    1. Hi Jennifer :) Thank you so much - and thank you so much for stopping by!! Very lovely to meet you as well :) Have a wonderful weekend!!

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  22. Wow! How honest you are. I'm glad it all worked out for you. Thanks for being such an authentic writer.

    Tonya

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    1. Hi Tonya - thank you so much for the compliment! I am so glad you decided to stop by and am grateful to have you as a reader! :)

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  23. Hi, paying you a visit via The SITS Girls, amazing post, glad things are working ou and that you're together and happy, glad for your little child as well.

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    1. Thank you so so much! Love me some SITS Girls comments and love :) Very grateful for the well wishes and glad you stopped over! Have a wonderful Friday!

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  24. I love a good, honest story. I got married after my baby arrived too - he was a massive surprise and has pulled the best out of us. Thank you for sharing this us-you've got a wonderful gift of storytelling! (happy SITS day too!)

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    1. Thank you so much Jenny. I love hearing from those who were in my shoes - too often these stories aren't told or are simply disgraced by the not-so-pleasant ones you read about in the newspaper. I think my story, like yours, is a love story...worthy of being told and read! :) Thanks for the compliment and for stopping by :)

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  25. Love this Jennifer! It's so refreshing to read an honest, from-the-heart post. I totally relate to your story. Dated my husband casually for a month before I "got knocked up." We got married at the JP when I was four months pregnant. It was a stressful time, but we made it work. Funny how things turn out. Can't wait to read more... Oh, and happy belated SITS Day!

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    1. YEA! Thanks Maurissa - I love your story, too. I've had a few commentators share their stories with me after reading this post and I gotta tell ya - there is no greater reward than inspiring others to feel good about themselves. You should be so proud of what you've accomplished because even though it wasn't the "Cinderella" story, it was perfect nonetheless. Thank you so much for reading and for commenting :) Made my day :)

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  26. The honesty in your story is amazing. I found you through SITS and am so glad I did, I had no real idea what to expect and you have just blown me away. I'll be back for sure!

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    1. WOW! Thank you Stephanie!! :) You have no idea how much your words mean to me....the SITS day was absolutely incredible and the support my fellow SITS-stahs have given me is overwhelming and humbling. Thank you so, so much for your kind compliment and I am lucky to have you as a reader!!! :)

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  27. Love the story on how you met your husband. It's sometimes okay when things go out of order. Makes life more interesting and well life.

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    1. Thank you :) I am so glad you stopped by and thank you for reading!! :)

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  28. Wow! How brave you are to share your entire story here! I admire that. And I'm so glad he stuck around. I'm a sucker for some romance. ;)

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    1. Thank you!! It's not an easy story to tell...lots of judgement out there! But it is my story and my life and to be honest, I kinda love that it isn't the norm. We've had so many unique challenges and yes, like you noticed, a lil bit of romance :) I am so glad you stopped by and thank you so much for reading!! :)

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  29. Visiting from SITS - LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! Glad I started here instead of grass-fed beef (not that there is anything wrong with GFB)...this was an awesome and honest post and I love your story. I was sucked in for the entire thing vs. skimming just to be able to leave a half-assed comment (I admit, I do that sometimes).

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    1. Awww thank you Susan! :) What an awesome compliment!!! I'm not going to lie I also sometimes skim along...especially if the topic is something I have no interest in! Thanks for reading and for your sweet comment :)

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  30. Love the honesty. Such a great story - I couldn't stop reading. Now I just gotta know...what former basketball player do you work for?!

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    1. Thank you so much Kristen!! You have no idea how much that means to me!!

      And HAHAHA oh man, if I were to tell you his name, I might lose my job!! Hee hee!! :)

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  31. I found you from SITs. I've read a couple of your posts so far and have to say I've really enjoyed everything. I was particularly moved by this one, and purely from a craft perspective, really enjoyed the way it's structured. I was not expecting it to go quite where it did. Really great. :)

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    1. Thank you so much!! I am so flattered you enjoyed the structure - it's not something people normally notice. I try to make it easy to read, easy on the eyes, and engaging. I am so glad you liked it!! Means the world to me that you took time out of your day to comment. THANK YOU!

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