The People You Turn Into

What is it about weddings that can turn a person inside out? What happens in a person that makes them either go to the light or the dark side?

If there’s anything I’ve learned about wedding planning (and there have been many lessons), it’s that people change when it comes to weddings. Weddings can either amplify the good nature within people or it brings out the crazy. The complete bat-shit crazy.

Sound familiar? Here’s some of the people you might meet, the good and the bad, after you get engaged:

  1. Butt-Hurt McGee

This person is sooooooooooooo offended that you didn’t ask them to be in the wedding party/throw a shower/include them in your day somehow. In fact, they’re so butt hurt by not being included that they’ll throw shade every which way they can by turning down invitations to parties, not answering phone calls or texts, and even threatening to not go to your wedding.

This person will basically be absent for you during wedding planning. Even if you were close before, they will vanish anytime you call or try to hang out. There’s nothing you can do to make up for the terrible “rift” your decisions have caused the relationship, mainly because the “rift” is made up and not that serious.

Depending on your level of closeness, you can decide to really put some effort into repairing the relationship and addressing the conflict or just walk away.

2. The Nickle and Dimer

This person is so obsessed with the bottom line that they’d rather you have your wedding in a parking lot and ask people to bring their own chairs, booze, and food than try to pay for anything over the budget. They can’t see the end picture because they’re so bogged down with the small details that nearly every decision ends in a stalemate and uber frustration.

No doubt, this was me at the very beginning of wedding planning. I was so overwhelmed with the high price tags of everything wedding-related that I basically shut down and cried every day. The guilt of a big budget followed by millions of decisions made me the human version of a IED. Want to know when the next explosion is? Just say the price tag and KABOOM.

3. Me, Myself, and I

This person has made it clear that your wedding is all about them. Every question they ask is all about them. “How am I supposed to get around town?” “Who is going to watch my kids?” “How could you NOT want to meet my child?” “Can you do this for me?” “Can you do that for me?” “Your wedding locations are really inconvenient for me.” “Me me me me.”

This is the worst person ever. Not only can they not understand that your wedding is about you and your fiance, they make it a point to let you know any chance they get that if you’re not meeting their every need, they’re not happy for you in the least bit. Not until you switch the focus to them, that is. Then they’re overjoyed at the chance to have a me-party during your big day.

4. The Worrier

This person is worrying about everything and they’re not even the one getting married. They will contact you obsessively about every little detail, even ones that have nothing to do with them or their duties. “Has anyone done this yet?” “Where am I supposed to meet you?” “I emailed/texted/called you 1 hour ago, why haven’t you responded?” “Who is picking this person up?” “Why don’t I know everything that’s going on?”

This person is EXHAUSTING. I mean, 100% completely out of control debilitating. If the incessant calls/emails/texts don’t wear you down, then the million and one ridiculous “What if/then this?” made-up scenarios will stress you out so much you can’t help but lose it.

5. The “I’ve Forgotten How to Adult” adult

Normally, this person has everything in their life together. They have/had a job, pay their bills on time, may have a family, and is someone who typically handles their stuff. Yet, somehow wedding planning makes them question how they accomplish the simplest tasks day to day. “How do I get around a city I already live in?” “How do I get myself dressed and looking presentable on the wedding day?” “When and where am I supposed to feed myself?” “How are others supposed to feed themselves?”

This person will frustrate the crap out of you. No matter how many times you remind them that they normally drive themselves around, or that they can call a cab, or that they can hire someone to do stuff for them, they will continue to insist that they don’t know how to do these things. The easiest thing to do with this person is to ignore them until after the wedding.

6. The Ghost

Where has this person gone? You contacted them at the beginning to ask them to be a part of your wedding in some way, and they subsequently ghost you and never respond to anything again. In fact, you have to contact them 5 or more times before they respond, and who knows if they’re actually going to answer the questions you posed for them.

Sometimes your Ghost is Me, Myself, and I. They disappear until you can somehow make it about them again. And when you do, they’ll respond to you lightning fast as though they never ghosted you in the first place.

This person is different from Butt-Hurt McGee. They’re not offended or hurt, they’re just terrible at staying in contact. Even when they know it’s crucial to be around and accessible, they can’t get it together long enough to respond to emails/texts/calls in a timely manner. They simply, POOF, vanish from communication and you don’t know if they’re alive or dead anymore.

This person isn’t terrible, they’re just annoying as f^*k.

7. The “I’ve Lost My Mind and Will Make Terrible Decisions” friend

This person will out of nowhere and with no warning become your worst enemy at a moment’s notice. They will behave like a crazy person, make really terrible decisions (usually fueled by alcohol and a general unhappiness with their own life), and end up destroying the bond you may have had with them.

This person will generally not apologize. In fact, instead of apologizing, they’ll use any excuse to justify their bad behavior and question you for even bringing it up to them like they did anything wrong. This person is T.O.X.I.C. You may have seen some of the warning signs before but chose to ignore them because they never did anything bad to you in the past, and besides, it’s your wedding! Everyone will be on their best behavior, right? Right??

This person may make you question yourself and what you did to deserve this type of reaction. The person may also fuel the fire of other people’s bad behavior because they think they may be able to get away with acting out. Which will then make you question your relationships with these people in the first place.

This is not really the state of mind you want to find yourself in while you’re planning your own wedding. The best thing you can do is sever the tie and move on.

8. The Human Bra

Without question, this is who you want everyone associated with your wedding to be. These people are the most supportive, the most helpful, the most loving and caring people of all. Never hesitating to ask, “How can I help?” “Where do you need me?” “I’m here for you”, the human bra is the person and persons who will support you through the drama and help out when you’re about to lose your mind from all the stupid little decisions that have to be made.

They’ll text you out of the blue to tell you they love you and they’re excited for not just your wedding but also your marriage. They’ll do their best to keep the drama away from you and your fiance, attend all your functions, and never complain. Even if they can’t bring their children even though they want to (because duh, they love them), they say nothing and handle their lives efficiently so that they can help you out.

I’m happy to report that the human bra is everyone on my side. They have gone out of their way to make me feel special and loved and excited for my wedding and my marriage. They’ve even done the same for Timmy, just to make him feel all the love and support that I’ve received. I just can’t get enough of them!

——–

Obviously, I’m exaggerating a bit and poking fun not just at the people I’ve met during my own wedding planning, but stories I’ve heard from friends who had their own fair share of craziness during their weddings. You can only control what you can control. and although some of these personalities have driven me crazy, I’m choosing to focus on the good. The good being my friends, family, and of course, Timmy.

2 weeks. Let’s do this.

♥, VB

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Frustrated Ramblings

I’ve been a little stressed lately. Not because of my life or work or family or friends or Timmy. None of that has been weighing me down, which I can delight in since that’s really the first time I can say that in a long, long time.

No, the things that have been stressing me out have been beyond my control, in the outside world, in the heads and words of the people that share the surface of the earth with me. People I’d really rather just go somewhere else. Away. Because they just suck.

I’ve always been a rather compassionate person, and the older I get, the more I feel. Feel for others like me, but also completely unlike me, and I think that’s a pretty snazzy quality to have. To be able to feel sympathy and empathy, to understand that I’m so small, that I’m just one of millions and billions, that my emotions are what make me different and special and help me to feel connected.

Maybe it’s because I battled depression for many years, and after trying an antidepressant that left me completely numb and absent and disconnected from life, it’s like those emotional abilities have been doubled or quadrupled in the last few years. It’s overwhelming sometimes to 100% understand the sufferings of others, to know that there are injustices in this world that I can do very little about. Yet I’m glad that I can feel these things, that I’m compassionate enough and dedicated enough to the work that I do so I can make any little type of difference I can.

It’s frustrating to see some injustices finally get attention now, things that common sense tells you have been going on forever, but that people have been content to ignore because it’s easier that way sometimes. Things like gender inequality, sexual assault, sexism, racism, bias, etc. blah, blah, blah. Things that mattered a lot to all of us when we were kids. Things that fired us up when we were still innocent enough to see injustice crystal clear.

What happened to people? When did people enjoy ignorance more than knowledge? When did people forget that suffering is awful? When did people become okay with not helping each other out, even when they would absolutely want someone to help them in their time of need? When did people forget what common sense meant?

How did people forget to feel?

At 31 and with chronic back pain that is totally not getting any better, I think about my future as a mother a lot. Clearly time is ticking away, à la My Cousin Vinny style. Pregnancy will be a harsh thing to put my back through in order to feel a love that’s pretty much indescribable. And Lord knows that Timmy would be an awesome dad.

But do I want to have children? Do I want to prepare a child to live in a world where people don’t care if they are hurting? Where people will dismiss their common sense in order to ignore emotions? A world that will allow anyone to be hurt, sexually, emotionally, physically, and then blame that same person for the pain they received?

The more I read the news, the more nauseated I become. Parents being arrested for allowing their children to become independent beings. Because kids who learn to fear the world and learn no common sense, real-world skills totally grow up to be well-functioning adults who don’t make the world more difficult for the rest of us, right?

People up in arms about sick patients being transferred to their city, patients who are citizens of this country, patients who deserve the best care they can get. Even though these outraged people were taught many, many years ago the basics of biology and disease transmission. People who couldn’t have cared less when the same disease was killing Africans because who cares about black people on another continent, right?

People of all races, genders, ethnicities, and education levels being abused, raped, assaulted, and no one truly getting that the fault lies with their attackers, not the attacked. Because who cares about people being violated as long as it’s not you, right?

I am but am still not used to the fact that the work I do, trying to help people get healthy, to lead healthy lives, mentally, physically, sexually, is so fought against by the very people I’m trying to help. The idea of learning how to prevent bad things is common sense, yet people focus on the tiny details that aren’t based in reality. These same people who forgot science as it was taught to us when we were 10 years old. The same people who hate that life is hard yet continue to make decisions and create environments where the default choices are the bad, unhealthy ones.

I understand that I chose a challenging field. Sex education is not something that everyone accepts as a normal part of understanding life. But it is, and if people listened to that common sense voice SCREAMING in their heads, they’d get that what I’m trying to do is help people NOT sleep with people they don’t like because they think that’s what self-esteem is.

I’m helping people NOT get pregnant when they don’t want to be or can’t afford it or don’t have the necessary skills to help a child grow up responsibly. I’m helping people NOT get sick by transmitting or being infected with dangerous, life-altering diseases that can rob them of a future child or even their life. I’m helping people build intimacy within relationships, I’m helping people gain control of their sexuality and have pride in their sexual decisions. I’m helping people understand that love is NOT violence or violation or harm. I’m helping people. Period.

I have found my calling, I know I am fulfilling my life’s purpose, and that makes me very fortunate. I’m so thankful to be on the path I’m on, and only wish that everyone could feel this way. I also recognize those people in my life who have found their niche and are truly rocking their shit out. My friends who are actors, musicians, activists, writers, motivators, educators, healers — you all inspire me. If you are on your path, I support you. I’m proud of you.

I understand that many people haven’t found their calling in life, their true passion, and are therefore miserable little trolls who want to make life harder for everyone else. It’s true, people who are sad and angry want to make others sad and angry in order to feel less alone. But is it really that hard to want to lift people up? It takes less energy to be a beacon of hope than a Debbie Downer.

For those that aren’t on your path, the energy you expend judging others, hindering progress and education, preventing solutions, we all get that you’ve forgotten what human decency looks and feels like. The world would be better served if you searched for your happy. You would clearly be better served if you found your happy.

Happy people don’t lash out, they don’t wish hurt and harm on others, they don’t idly stand by while others suffer. When you forget basic life lessons, how to treat others, how to practice self-control when you feel negative, how not to judge, you make life harder for yourself. You create the exact type of world that you criticize and insult.

And you frustrate me to no end. Because I can’t fix you. I can’t make you learn. I can’t make you listen nor can I make you open your eyes and your heart. I can’t make you want to care.

Which means that I have to do double the good work in order to balance out your negativity. Which creates resentment within me that I’d rather not have in my life. Which makes me pity you because you aren’t experiencing the full, glorious human range of emotions.

So I beg of my rock star friends: Keep doing you. Because when you do you, you increase the happy on earth. You make me proud and you keep my hopes up that there are other good people in the world.

And so ends my frustrated ramblings. Don’t worry, I’ll be back with more fun times and weekend shenanigans.

I am, after all, dating Timmy. 🙂

♥, VB

 

Making It Yourself: Maps on Canvas

I’m not a DIY-er. I’m impatient, not creative, nor do I want to look up 15,000 steps to create something I can easily buy on sale at TJ Maxx. Some people have the craft bug in them; I’m not one of those people.

But every so often (and by often I mean maaaaayyyyybe once every 12 years), I’ll find something that I know I can accomplish with few ingredients and steps. I’ll think to myself, “Now this is a craft someone like myself can do and not f*^k up too badly.” Bonus points for crafts that look like you were trying to slightly f*^k it up anyway.

I can paint the hell out of things, and I like to think I’m pretty handy around the house. Like my desk-turned-into-tv-stand-and-storage, I can definitely do things that don’t require much other than paint, brush, and stapler (I mean desk stapler, not a fancy schmancy one). So why not try to do a craft that involves a painting-like approach?

I bought this map probably 6 years ago with the intention to get it framed so that it looked like an antique. Little did I know at the time that having to custom order a frame for 50″ x 32″ was somewhere in the million dollar range (I exaggerate, but yes, that’s what it feels like when you’re a grad student). And so it just sat. And sat. And sat some more.

world map

We almost threw it out a bunch of times, but I held onto the idea that something could be done with it. Pinterest definitely served as an inspiration because I know I would’ve NEVER heard of Mod Podge anywhere else. So while I had the idea in my head of what I could do with it, I never quite had the motivation until a few weeks ago.

I decided to just say screw it, and let’s make this project a reality. The plan was to split the map into three sections, Mod Podge them onto the canvases, and make interesting yet super easy art. So off I went to Michael’s, armed with a 20% digital coupon, and bought 3 15″x 30″ canvases. Since I’m lazy as hell, I eyeballed the sections and cut, hoping for the best. Don’t do this if you really want perfection.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI took one section at a time because, duh, and Mod Podged the canvases first.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m sure there’s a WAY more precise method of doing this, but I’ve already established that this isn’t the perfect way to DIY a canvas map. I used foam brushes to distribute the glue all over the canvas and down the sides since the map was overhanging (which is what I wanted).

I laid the map down on the canvas and did my best to get out the air. You can see that I sucked at this step. In my defense, this map had been rolled in its container for YEARS, so getting it to lie flat at all was a huge success.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI repeated this process for the other two canvases, sucking equally at getting the air out of each. You can also see that I accidentally tore the Hawaiian Islands, but hey, they’re islands. At least I didn’t tear an entire country in half.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Once all 3 canvases were done, I waited the required time as directed on the Mod Podge bottle (I think it was 2 hours). Then I Mod Podged the top of each canvas with two coats, waiting 20 minutes in between each coat. I took down the entire bottle of Mod Podge with this project (and I’ve used the words Mod Podge more times in this post than I’ve ever said in my whole life).

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI let them cure for two days on my dining room table. Warning: be ready with a wet paper towel in case anything drips on the surface of whatever you’re using. Since I’m also not super precise, I kept brushing Mod Podge onto my table when trying to brush the canvas sides, and luckily was able to wipe it up immediately.

After curing, I hung them and was surprisingly impressed at my ability to not destroy the map. They kinda look vintage, look kinda artsy, and definitely look better than just framing the original map. I also eyeballed hanging them with spaces in between each canvas because I can’t be bothered with a ruler and level.

With the coupon, I spent around $65 on 3 canvases, the brushes, and the Mod Podge. Not bad for a non-DIY-er. Not bad.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

♥, VB

 

 

Crying Through the Om

I’ve been practicing yoga pretty steadily for the last three years for two main reasons: 1) my back is jacked to hell and I needed to find an exercise that strengthened my core without placing unnecessary stress on it, and 2) after reconstructive ankle surgery, my right leg was useless and I needed to rebuild its strength. I like yoga because you have to focus on the present or else you fall out of positions and frustration quickly takes over. You must be in control while also letting go in each pose. It’s very complicated stuff, this yoga.

I remember in college trying to get into yoga with my girlfriends and unfortunately, never succeeded. It was a breathing-centered yoga, and without fail, every class I would hyperventilate and pass out. Wow, that’s a really fun way to pass an hour of your life, let me tell you. So I gave up on yoga.

Until I found athletic yoga that so reminded me of my years as a ballet dancer. The concentration, the ability to improve strength and balance, the competitive side it brings out of me when I see someone more advanced, all while sweating my ass off — it was the perfect combination to hook me in. Over the years, I’ve seen a significant change in my body, in the way it looks, and also how it feels. It’s incredible to feel your body, I mean really feel it, as an adult. It’s totally different than lifting weights or your common cardio.

I know that yoga has restorative properties and can help with stress management, but I’ve never bought into the different breathing, chants, and de-toxifying mumbo jumbo that many instructors spit out like truth. When I hear, “This is really good at helping your liver breathe” I want to hurl the teacher out of the window. My public health brain is always on so don’t try to fool me with your soft, enchanting voice.

I go to yoga to shut my brain off but also to turn it on, to really focus on the pose and nothing but, and to breathe through the discomfort so I can lengthen and stretch. It’s harder than it looks, because you actually have to try to make it challenging. That’s the greatest thing about yoga in my opinion: it’s hard if you want to be harder, but it’s easy when you need it to be. There’s not a lot in life you can control like that.

Lately, things have been rough and amazing. I’ve been dealing with Jake’s loss in my own way, sometimes breaking down, other times laughing at an outfit that would definitely gain his approval (he was a clothes snob, btw). I’ve also been traveling like crazy this past month, in Spain for a week, Baltimore the next week for a conference, then Michigan for a certification program. My car broke down twice, and I’ve been collecting donations for Jake’s son’s college tuition savings plan from our high school class. It’s helped to keep me busy, but has definitely made it harder to process things. Now it’s April, and I look back on March like WTF happened?! Is it really over? We were so looking forward to Spain, and now it’s over. The conference, over. My time in Michigan, done (until October).

How is this ok? For time to move this quickly, and all of the sudden you look up, and it’s been over a month since your friend passed away. A month. I’ve barely had time to keep my head above water, and then a month is gone without me even realizing it.

Last week I got more bad news from an extremely close friend. I won’t say his name because he hasn’t gotten the results back nor am I sure that he has shared this beyond just his close friends, but he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Have you ever had bad news hit you so hard that you don’t even cry? Like, your brain can’t even process the words but it knows it’s bad? After I got the news, I just started to shake uncontrollably. I couldn’t stop it, I just shook, and the shaking didn’t even stop for sleep. I would jolt straight up in bed, shaking, after dreaming about losing another friend. The tears came later, when I left him a voicemail letting him know that I was thinking of him during his surgery, and that I wish I could be there for him and his family.

It’s just one punch after another, and the thought of losing another person, and in particular a person who helped shape who I am today, an individual that I can’t even separate from my adolescence or 20s, is too much for my head and heart to comprehend right now. I’m just trying to get through, hour by hour, but hoping that time doesn’t get away from me like it did last month.

And now we return to yoga. Yesterday, after an extremely invigorating Hot Power class in which I was able to complete yet one more advanced arm balance, we sat after savasana, the corpse pose, at the end of the practice. Savasana was the hardest pose for me to become comfortable with when I first started yoga. It requires you to lie still, and shut your brain off but stay focused. Sound confusing? It is. Letting your brain stay on but not running is the most difficult thing to learn how to do. I mean duh, meditation exists for a reason.

I cried the first time I got into savasana because the silence was the most uncomfortable for me. I couldn’t find a place of peace in it. And that was shameful to me. Why couldn’t I just be silent? What was wrong with me?

Last night, after savasana, we sat up to chant Om 3 times. Here’s what Wikipedia says about Om:

The vibration of “OM” symbolises the manifestation of God in form (“sāguna brahman”). “OM” is the reflection of the absolute reality, it is said to be “Adi Anadi”, without beginning or the end and embracing all that exists.[1] The mantra “OM” is the name of God, the vibration of the Supreme

Depending on the day, I could be okay with joining in and chanting Om with the group. Yesterday was one of those days. I sat, legs crossed, and chanted the first Om.

The vibrations started in my chest, and I immediately choked up. My throat closed up and my eyes filled with tears, and I had zero control. It was like the vibrations were forcing an emotional expression within me. Then the shock of what was happening hit me. What was happening??

The second Om began, and again the vibrations in my chest were almost too much for me. My voice broke, and I couldn’t finish the second Om. I was beginning to panic, in my head, because I wasn’t trying to be emotional. It was just happening. I was able to complete the third Om, only I used a much softer voice to chime in.

Let me remind you, I’m not the person that buys into this yogi divine stuff. I’ve never once given credence to the idea of yoga being a way to connect to the divine, or whatever. I still don’t know if I do, even after that experience.

All I know is that I needed that moment to sit in myself again. I’ve spent so much time the last month doing for others, or traveling, or being somewhere other than super present in myself and the moment, that I forgot what it felt like. To be here, right now, and be okay with being still. And in forgetting that, there came a sadness, a realization that it’s not okay to keep going, day after day, without being still and present. A reminder that life is about controlling and letting go, all at the same time.

Thank you yoga, for being there for me when I need that reminder the most.

♥, VB

One Year Later

Today marks my one year anniversary of moving to Florida for a new life, new job, new future. 6 months ago, things weren’t great. In fact, they totally sucked. Not my job, mind you. My job has kicked ass from the beginning, and this semester promises no different. But everything else was baaaaaaad.

Let’s see, what has changed in these last 6 months? It seems like everything. We’ve swung from one direction to another, and although Timmy and I aren’t fully completely back on track like years past, we are absolutely 100% more committed and more united than we ever could have been without this move. We took a much needed trip that reminded us of the fun we once had together. We had conversations that seemed sometimes like they were on repeat, but they kept us communicating and open with each other. 4 years in, and I see what this person means to me. I want to be a better version of myself now more than ever, thanks to Timmy.

You truly don’t understand what kind of love you’re capable of until you’re tested. And there was test after test after test this year, but the last 6 months seem to have given us a new clarity. We made plans to move forward, separately in order to move us forward together. Does that make sense? I mean, sometimes you have to go on your own path in order to strengthen the partnership. This year, we sacrificed, over-compromised, under-compromised, and now we’ve decided that our best way into the future is to do our own thangs.

We are not breaking up. I repeat, for those that are freaking out or who keep giving us heartfelt lectures on the difficulties of long-distance relationships, we are not breaking up. And please stop. I understand your intentions are nothing but good, but if you truly knew our relationship, you’d understand that we know what is best for us. We are dedicated and still very much in love. And we need this divergent path now for our sanity.

Over the holiday break, I got whooped in the ass by the worst cold I can ever remember having, moved from Lakeland to St. Pete (and not by the movers who no-showed twice!), went home to Atlanta to see family and friends, then started over for the New Year in Orlando. Now that the last 6 months are done, no more weddings, no trips scheduled right now, moving and packing complete, I feel like I can really, truly and completely breathe again.

2014 felt like the restart button for us, in more ways than one. We attended a fancy James Bond-themed party with a no-drama, high-fun crowd and ate our 12 grapes in the last 12 seconds of 2013. A Spanish tradition that my family keeps alive, even when we’re not together, it’s a must-do for me. Timmy and I sneaked our grapes in, and couldn’t stop laughing as we shoveled them in, hoping to get them all down for good luck in 2014.

I cannot be more excited for this year, since professionally I keep kicking ass, and now hopefully the personal side will be better than ever.

This year, I didn’t make any resolutions. I haven’t made any resolutions in years. Everything I’ve ever wanted to improve upon, I work on daily. Sometimes minute by minute, like my patience. I was accepted into a sexual health program that I’ve been wanting to apply to for years now. This year, I’m going to continue to check things off my life list, just like I did last year, and the year before that. If I’m not constantly improving myself, I ain’t happy.

For 2014, now that I have a FIFTEEN MINUTE COMMUTE (omg, I can’t believe I can say that), I feel like, finally, the year of never-ending hardship is coming to a close. Timmy is dedicated to improving himself and working on the issues he feels are important, and I’m going to work on being a better partner by being a better me. Sounds like a plan we can definitely both achieve.

And we must be getting somewhere because just this past weekend, at dinner at our fave restaurant in Winter Park, Timmy looked at me and said, “Your attitude has changed so much since you moved, for the better. And it’s only been like a week!”

Ain’t that the truth.

2014

♥, VB