Tuesday, November 24, 2015


I kinda hate when people toot their own horn about kindness.  You know what I'm talking about, right?  Every once in a while there will be a viral Facebook post about how someone bought this for a homeless person, paid for a veteran's meal, gave a tank of gas to someone in need, you get the picture.  All of those things are awesome and I understand the giver wanting to tell their story: it feels good to give!  It feels great to be kind!  I get it.  But, at the same time, it feels a little like . . . I don't know.  Asking for head pats?  Wanting someone to give you props for being kind?  I say all that to preface what I'm about to tell you.  I'm not looking for props or head pats; I just want to share a "what goes around comes around: in a good way" story.

Last week, I was rear ended.  I was having a horrible, horrible morning.  And I very easily could have lashed out at the girl who hit me.  I remember several years ago, I was probably 13 or 14.  My friend's cousin was driving a group of us through the Taco Bell drive-through and accidentally hit the car in front of us.  It was, admittedly, a distracted teenage girl.  But it was also a total accident and she was very, very upset that it happened.  It was in a drive-through so there was minimal damage.  However, that did not stop the guy she hit from unleashing on her.  He let the f-bombs fly and had the poor girl - and all the rest of us! - in tears.  It was uncalled for and that's always stayed with me.

Fast forward to last Tuesday.  I was hit.  I pulled over on the side of the road to examine the damage and speak to the other driver.  Said other driver was a very young girl who was very upset.  She was in tears, calling her mom, apologizing immediately.  I've already said it but, really, I was having a HORRIBLE morning and I was in a complete bitch mode bad mood.  I very easily could have taken that bad morning out on her.  But.  All I could think was, "she could be me, she could be anybody."  It was a total accident and she didn't deserve my outrage or me berating her or anything like that.  I did take down her information, just in case, but I never filed a police report or anything with insurance (it was only a tiny scratch!) Instead, I gave the poor girl a hug and told her a very real nugget of truth: "we've all been here." 

In the moment, I didn't stop to think that I was being kind to her because I wanted karma to come around and hug me or anything like that.  All I could see was a young girl who needed a hug.  All I could think was that could've been me, couldn't been anybody.  And, therefore, I treated her the way I would have wanted to be treated . . . the way my friend's cousin should've been treated all those years ago.

I firmly believe "what goes around, comes around" and that goes for kindness too.  Let's fast forward to yesterday afternoon.

The kids and I were prepping to go to boyfriend's house.  I warned the boys that once we got there, they were going to be responsible for cleaning my car out.  J decided he wanted a jump start on the cleaning so, even though it was only ten or so minutes before time to leave, he ran out to get started.  In the process, he locked my keys in my car. 

Not going to lie: I was LIVID.  LIVID.  I will routinely give my boys my keys to get something out of the car (we live in there: you'll often find shoes or a jacket, a random Barbie, etc.) and always make sure to tell them to bring the keys back to me as soon as they hit the "unlock" button on the fob.

Here's the deal: I don't have my extra set of keys (my ex still has them which, note to self, time to ask for those back! and he wasn't answering his phone.  I'm not even sure he's in town.)  I also don't have OnStar or any of those nifty services.  I called boyfriend in a panic.  My neighbor came over to help me: we both consulted Google.  There really weren't a lot of options.  I called Pop-a-Lock but it was $19 just for someone to come out.  It very easily would've cost me around $100 for them to let me in my car.

Google told me, though, that with the VIN number my local dealership could cut me a valet key for around $20.  I immediately called and spoke with an absolute ANGEL named Kenny at Sunrise Buick in Wolfchase.

I explained my dilemma.  He confirmed they could print the key if they had the mold but then gave the kicker, "I'm going to need your drivers license and either your registration or insurance."

"My registration and insurance are in my glove compartment, locked in my car!"

"I'm sorry, ma'am.  Have you tried Pop-a-Lock?"

Instant tears.  Not even planned.  I told him I had called them but it was going to cost me around $100 and I just did not have the money, not at all, and especially not right here at Christmas.  He listened, very patiently, and asked for the last eight digits of my VIN number.

"I'm not supposed to do this . . . I'm really not . . . but if you can get here before 6:00, I can cut you a key."


I took pictures of my VIN number and also of the car, showing it obviously parked in a driveway, as some kind of proof it was mine -- or at least that it wasn't sitting in a random parking lot or anything like that.  When I showed up at the dealership to pick up the key, he shooed away the picture proof.  "I don't even need that, girl!" 

He cut me the key and charged me a whole . . . $21.97.  Sent me on my way with merely a "Merry Christmas" and "make sure to have yourself a drink!"

Kenny at Sunrise Buick: YOU ARE AN ANGEL.

I still can't get over the absolute kindness this man showed me.  He took me at my word that he car was mine, he heard the desperation in my voice.  I'm not going to lie, dropping $100 to get my keys would absolutely have impacted a portion of my Christmas.  $100 doesn't seem like a whole lot until it's yours and you NEED it.  I swear, y'all, Kenny is an ANGEL!  And I also swear that when you're kind to others, it will come back to you in some shape or form.  I tried to teach that lesson to my kids when we were driving home last night.  I explained what happened to me last week and went on to explain that, most of the time, the kindness isn't returned to you as fast as it was to me.  But it always comes back to you  It always does.  Being kind will ALWAYS benefit you.  It will, selfishly, make you feel good about yourself.  And, sometimes, it'll manifest in others being even MORE kind to you.

I can't end this post without a shout-out to the best boyfriend ever.  I had to call Mark to come and drive me to the dealership.  He didn't even hesitate, even though it meant he was going to miss his class at the gym.  He keeps a bottle of vodka at his place and instructed me to start pouring myself shots as soon as I made it over there.  After I picked up the key and was feeling somewhat better, I told J he owed me the $21 and went on to say, "I was going to use that to go toward a case of beer and some cheap champagne for Thanksgiving!"  Mark went on to the gym and, when he came home a little while later, he was carrying . . . two cases of beer and a couple bottles of champs.  "I wasn't sure which cheap champagne you wanted."  I mean . . come on . . . he's the best! 

I'll end with words of wisdom for the great philosophers, Bill and Ted . . . "Be excellent to each other . . . Party on Dudes!" 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why We Work: Because We're Assholes Together

**Sorry not sorry, this post starts off pretty sappy!

A few weekends ago, I had two different people comment on how happy I seem lately.  One of them has known me for years and remarked on how she feels I'm back to being myself again.  The other has known me in recent years and made the comment that I'm happier than he's ever seen me.  Both are accurate.   Then we went to Chicago and Mark heard the same thing from old friends and even his brothers.  His sister-in-law told me, "In all the years I've known Mark, this is the happiest I've ever seen him."  The truth is, I don't think you realize how much being in the wrong relationship weighs you down -- and how obvious it is to those around you -- until you're out of that relationship.  Then once you find your happiness again - rather in a relationship or on your own, just doing you - everyone around you notices your change, your shine.

I can't even lie.  I AM happier than I've ever been in my life.  A year ago, I would've told you the same thing.  And I completely meant it.  And I would've thought you were DEAD WRONG had you told me I could be even happier because of a relationship.  I was not ever, ever, ever going to be THAT GIRL.  But here I am.  That Girl'ing all over the place.  And not even sorry for it.  Who knows.  Maybe the happiness is also rooted in finding myself again, getting a little bit of Brandi back.

One thing I can tell you is that the reason my relationship has worked up to this point is that we are a lot alike.  A lot.  I know people say "opposites attract," but in our case it's the, well, opposite.  We obviously have our differences.  Who doesn't?  But we have a ton of similarities.  And one of those is a sarcastic sense of humor.  We both love to laugh.  We laugh at the same of things.  And, I'm not going to lie, we crack ourselves UP. 

I thought I'd share a few of our recent conversations as an example of how we "work."  (And reading back on these, I realize some of them make us seem like assholes.  I was going to say I swear we aren't but maybe we are?  Regardless, our sarcasm works well together.)

Me: "I read the comments on Saturday Down South when I'm bored at work."
Boyfriend: "I play Words with Friends."
Me: "Ooooh!  I have the word "jute" on one of my games and I can't figure out where to play it."
Boyfriend: "Well, this just became the best Friday night ever!  Go grab your phone!"
Yeah, we're nerds.

Boyfriend: "Remember when I was going to lose 20 pounds before we went to Chicago?  This is the first diet where I've actually gained weight."
Me: "Well, we can try to drop ten or so before Thanksgiving.  Do you think we could not drink at all between getting back from Chicago and Thanksgiving?"
Boyfriend: "Have you MET our kids?"

Me, a couple weeks after the previous conversation: "You know the whole thing about not drinking so we wouldn't eat and lose weight before Thanksgiving?"
Boyfriend: "Yeah . . . "
Me: "I'd rather be fat that deal with these assholes sober."

Me: "Are you going home with me for Thanksgiving?"
Boyfriend: "Can we talk about this later?  I don't want to commit while I'm drinking."
Me: "Yeah, that's why I'm asking you now . . . "

Boyfriend: "If I do go for Thanksgiving, I'm going to fry a turkey.  Then I'll have to sign autographs and pose for pictures before we can even leave."

 Me: "Did I invite them to Thanksgiving last night?"
Boyfriend: "Only eight times.  And you made everyone take shots too so they'd commit while drunk."

Me: "Do you want me to drive?"
Boyfriend: "No.  You hit things."
* A few days later *
Boyfriend: "Are you prepared to be our DD when we have to drive back to St. Pete after the Tampa game?"
Me: "No.  I hit things."
(There's a 99% chance that I hit his garage a few weeks ago.  In my defense, his driveway is much shorter than mine.)

Boyfriend: "Why couldn't we have met 20 years ago?"
Me: "Because it would've been illegal."
(He was in college, I was still in high school 20 years ago)

*Passing the Hilton, where we went to his company's Great Gatsby party (And, awwww, I wasn't yet referring to him as my "boyfriend" in that post) earlier this year*
Boyfriend: "I fell in love with you in that building.  I mean I was pretty sure I was already in love with you but that night sealed the deal."
Me: "Are you sure it wasn't the open bar?"

Me: "Thank you for being you."
Boyfriend: "Thank you for being me . . . with boobs."

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Defeat Snatched from the Jaws of Victory

Several months ago, Mark tossed out an idea to me. "I think I'm going to the November 1st Bears game and I really want you to go with me." And, so. We planned and we secured childcare, bought tickets, planned tailgating. And, before we knew it, November 1st!

My first Bears game but he's been going to them since he was a boy. I was so excited to experience this with him. Even though it meant getting up before the crack of dawn Sunday morning. 

We pulled into the tailgating lot around 7:30 Sunday morning and got the party started. There were four couples including the two of us, both Mark's brothers, and one of his nephews. Oh. And there was enough food to feed a small army: burgers and chicken wings, smoked sausage, chips and dip, cookies, so many things thrown on the grill. Aaaaand Jell-O shots. There were Jell-O shots. 

We tailgated for a few hours then walked under the tunnel and made our way to Soldier Field. Our seats were seriously so amazing, a perk of waiting until the last minute to buy during a mediocre-to-bad season. 

Cutler had a TD pass to the end zone and we were RIGHT THERE. My boys swore they saw us on TV but I don't know about that. The seats were amazing though. Even though the Bears lost a heartbreaker. Womp Womp. 

We walked around the stadium more after the game with a certain boyfriend yelling, "PAXTON LYNCH! I'm telling you! We gotta draft Paxton Lynch!"

Paxton Lynch is the Peyton Manning-ish quarterback for Memphis and who Mark has pegged as the Bears' savior. 

I have to point out that the weather was absolutely amazing for the game. I was freezing when we started tailgating (two hoodies and a borrowed pair of gloves) but I actually ditched one hoodie during tailgating and the other during the game. I even got a little touch of pink from the sun. 

We headed back to meet our group at our tailgate spot. Ate a little more, drank a little more, aaaaand found out that his brothers and nephew accidentally bought tickets to the Bears game that's in St. Louis on the 14th. Ha! We'd love to go meet them there but not sure how to swing it. My second Bears game will probably be when we go to Tampa in December. 

It was such a fun time with my favorite Bears fan! So much fun that he's not having to work hard on converting me to fandom. And so much fun that as soon as we got back home, I promptly fell right to sleep and didn't wake up until (very early) the next morning ...


Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Friday morning, we loaded up the car, put Wentworth on the dashboard, and headed out. Destination: Chicago!

We were staying with friends, Ed and Beth, outside of the city and just a few miles from Mark's hometown. On the drive, he called a high school friend of his to talk about the game on Sunday. Somehow from there it was decided they would hold a (very) mini high school reunion in Ed's garage Friday night. 
With the exception of me and the guy on the end, these all went to high school together. The last time they were all together was over ten years ago.

It ended up being such a great night! I only knew Ed and Beth when we arrived but I never felt awkward or uncomfortable. They all immediately accepted me and we had so much fun. 

Saturday morning was cold and rainy; just miserable. We had some errands to run (Brandi had no Bears gear!) and Boyfriend has been talking about getting me a gyro from a certain place for ages. 

We each had a Chicago dog and split a gyro at Mickey's. The dog was better than anything I'll get in Memphis but no poppyseed bun, no tomato, and it was missing something else that questioned its authenticity. The gyro was out of this world phenomenal. 

Oh! And we also took sample vodka shots. In TARGET! God bless the Midwest. 

Saturday night was ... SCHWING!

Party on!

When I started thinking about Halloween costumes, I wanted something very "us" and not lame. Wayne and Garth ended up being perfect! And any man who will put on a blonde wig for you is one you keep around. 

Molly Ringwald showed up too ...

And so did Princess Leia and one of those Duck Dynasty dudes!

There was a decent sized group but WE WERE THE ONLY COOL PEOPLE WHO DRESSED UP! What the? It was so funny, though, when people walked in and saw Mark with his get up. I don't know how many times we heard or said, "party on, Wayne. Party on, Garth."
We're not worthy

We went to sleep for a few hours then it was up early for DA BEARS.  I'll talk about that tomorrow.