Tessa’s Dad’s Click

@Tessasdad is another great person I’ve been following on Twitter for some time now.  He is a stay-at-home-dad and blogger.  After you’ve read his click you can find more on his blog here and follow him on Twitter here.

April 4 of 2009 was all at once the happiest, most exciting and anxiety-producing day of my life.

It was the happiest because I got to fall in love instantly with my beautiful daughter Tessa.

It was the most exciting because I waited nine months to finally meet her, hold her and tell her how much I loved her.

It was the most anxiety-producing because now that Tessa was here, I was a father for real now. I was a first-time father a month away from my 37th birthday. I was also a first-time father that was going to be a stay-at-home dad. Most scary though was that I was a first-time father who wasn’t really confident he was cut out to be a good father.

All sorts of voices were in my head trying to convince me that this was a huge mistake. “You’re too old. You’re too selfish. You’re too used to being able to do whatever you want. You don’t know how to be a father. You don’t have any idea what a good father is. How can you be one?” Over and over these things ran through my head – until later that day when I saw Tessa’s head turn at the sound of my voice.

At first I didn’t think I saw what I thought, but my wife, Deb, noticed it too. She commented about how Tessa had been listening to me for many months now and knew who her Daddy was.

It kind of hit home then. Tessa and I were starting out fresh. There was no history, but only today. All she knew was that her Daddy was there to hold her, soothe her, kiss her forehead, and change her diaper. We were starting our first day together and with me being a stay-at-home dad, we were going to get to know each other really well, really soon.

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OpinionatedGift’s Click

I met OpinionatedGift through this blog and Twitter.  He left a nice comment, I clicked on his blog, read and instantly knew he was good people.  I have so enjoyed reading his thoughts and opinions over the last year.  He is a really good friend and someone I have a lot of respect for.  He was among the first group of people I asked to write a click story for me.  I’ve tried not to pressure him too much, but remind him every now and then that I’m still waiting for his click.  He always tells me he’s still thinking about it.  Last week I read the following post on his personal blog and I thought…that’s it.  I emailed and asked if I could share it here.  He kindly agreed.  You can follow him on Twitter here and read his blog here.

Twelve years ago this week I was spending my days going through my father’s apartment with my brother. Dad had shot himself on the 9th and his body was found by his oldest friend in New York on the 12th. Twelve years ago Wednesday.

Twelve years ago I was sifting through grief, memory and questions questions questions. Not the ones you might think. The fact is, when I got the call from my brother that the police had called him from Dad’s apartment, I knew what had happened. I’d hoped I was wrong. But I knew.

Mom said it best that night when we called to let her know. “He was always so sad”. It was true. He was also scared. Whatever the combination, he had a dim world view.

I loved my dad. He was basically a good man who never really dealt with his anger issues, his alcoholism or his strengths. A talented actor, he’d packed us up from Tucson Arizona, sold the Ford Falcon and got us on a train to New York City and went straight into substitute teaching and social work. His career as an actor was essentially small productions in holes in the wall (before the moniker “Off Off Broadway” was coined.) and extra work in movies.

As a kid I would listen while he would lament the vagaries of the business and how hard it was…and it instilled in me the belief that the business was indeed brutal. It didn’t stop me from wanting to be an actor. It didn’t stop me from thinking I could do better. But these things are insidious and the sins of the father are often visited upon the son. His beliefs did become mine and even when I achieved some pretty good if minor successes, my joy would be tainted by fear of the success not lasting.

Now to be sure, being an actor isn’t easy. It can be brutal, but I can see very clearly as I look back how my own thoughts and feelings that were inherited affected the way I approached my career and subsequently the way my career developed…or didn’t as it turns out.

Twelve years ago fears and doubts overtook my father to the point that he no longer was able to reason. This man who raced down the street with me…encouraged me to take the training wheels off my back when he knew I could. The man who when he saw I was floundering in my efforts to audition for the High School of Performing Arts bought a gazillion plays for me to look through and helped me find the right pieces and even coached me. A man who as a social worker had saved or improved as best he could, so many lives, wasn’t even able to remember a simple meditation technique because anxiety had overcome him.

He’d been given Buspar and started to take it, then stopped. 12 years ago it got so bad that he sat at the edge of his bed and ate the barrel of a .357 magnum. He left a note that was really more of an excuse than anything else. Fears of a cancer that didn’t exist.

Two weeks later, the girl he wanted to marry, a dancer from Japan was finally allowed back into the country. He’d become convinced it wouldn’t happen after months of legal back and forth. Fear of being alone and abandoned convinced him that his life wouldn’t work out as he desired. So it seems he decided to just stop trying.

12 years later I still wrestle with loving him and hating him. Remembering his capacity for compassion for everyone while he seemed to only have pity for himself. I am sometimes on the edge of forgiving him. And then I remember having to tell my daughter what happened. I remember how as she is now almost 20 years old, she can’t play chess because that’s what she used to do with Grandpa. I can’t quite do it.

For the past 12 years, for about 3 weeks before and after the anniversaries, he shows up in my dreams. Sometimes as if he’s never been gone, sometimes as if he’s only been on some trip in South America or something and we all just THOUGHT he was dead.I forget about it…forget it’s that time of year…sometimes even the days of his actual death or the day he was found go by entirely unnoticed. Sometimes not.

Twelve years later I can watch Dirty Harry make one line comments about his Magnum and still get a kick out of it. But when Heroes first aired and there was an episode with half a skull being cut off and brains removed, I get completely worked up.

I wrestle with fear too. And it’s not hard to see how it keeps me from acting. Clouds my thinking. I’ve made a decades long struggle of shifting from “can’t” to “can”. It hasn’t been easy.

Twelve years ago I cremated my father. Twelve years later I’m still cremating parts of his legacy so I can rise from the ashes.

Jack M’s Click

I’ve been following Jack for a long time on Twitter.  I was super excited when he surprised me by writing the following story just for me!  You can follow Jack on Twitter here and read his blog here.

I’m in Labour!

The title of this story was what my wife told me during an early morning phone call while I was away for work in Perth, Western Australia. At the time of this story, my wife and I and our eldest daughter were living in Adelaide, South Australia.  My wife, Lisa was heavily pregnant but wasn’t due for over 3 weeks. I had been away for 4 days and I was due to fly home that afternoon.  With a little over 3 weeks left to go I thought no problems with the schedule.  How wrong was I!

Here is the story of my mad dash home the day my youngest daughter, Lara was born.

12.45am Perth time, February 8, 2005.

I had just jumped into bed after a long day working.  My usual pre-bed routine was to put my phone on vibrate as the usual east coast phone calls would start coming in at about 7am local time.  My head office was in Brisbane which is 2 hours in front of Perth time.  As I wouldn’t be rising until after head office started clicking into gear, I always kept my phone on vibrate during my Perth trips to avoid any early morning wake up calls, especially tonight, having gone to bed so late.   I was lying there and I had an urge to actually put my phone on ringer.  Not sure why I had the urge, I took it off of vibrate, just in case.

At 1am, I am still awake. My phone rings.  I have a different ring tone for my wife so instantly I knew it was her calling.  Glancing at the clock I also knew it was 3.30am in Adelaide.  It doesn’t take a scientist to know what this call is about.  I answer the phone expectantly.  Lisa informs me that she is in labour.  I don’t recall the exact specifics of the conversation but I am sure we discuss whether it is real or not as with her first pregnancy, Lisa had a few falsies.  I think they are called Braxton Hicks (someone can correct me if I am wrong).  It doesn’t take long for Lisa to convince me that this is the real deal.

Shit! I gotta get out of here and get to Adelaide, pronto!  By car it is 2,703km or a 4 day drive.  Too far to start driving.  The baby will be celebrating her first birthday by the time I get there. By plane and as the crow flies the distance from Perth to Adelaide is approx 1,750km flying over the Great Australian Bight, Spencer Gulf and Gulf St Vincent.  Quicker option but I know flights don’t leave Perth in the middle of the night.  I hang up the phone from Lisa after telling her I am coming home and secretly wishing she keeps her legs crossed.  I call QANTAS and explain the situation.  There is a flight leaving Perth at 6.25am which will have me back in Adelaide at 11.45am.  Now I hope there are spare seats available.  There are!  I am then informed that I have to purchase a new ticket as because I was within 24 hours of my flight I couldn’t make any changes.  Not in the mood for arguing, I do so.

I do the maths quickly in my head.  Ok, she’s in labour at approx 3.30am Adelaide time.  I arrive in Adelaide at 11.45am and then add on 30 mins for cab to the hospital.  Ok, I can get there at 12.15pm.  That’s less than 9 hours after going into labour.  She can hold on.  Our first daughter, Michaela was in labour for well over 22 hours.

I’m a chance to make it.

I call Lisa and tell her the news.  She is on her way to the hospital with her mum and Michaela.  I talk to Michaela and tell her everything is going to be ok.  She sounds excited, even after getting woken in the middle of the night.  She said she’ll look after mummy.  What a good girl.

Now what do I do?  By now it is 1.30am and I have the flight in 5 hours.  I decide sleep is a must as it is going to be a very long day.  Remember I still hadn’t slept since the night before.  I quickly pack my things so I am ready to fly out the door when I wake.

Did I sleep?  Of course not. I am excited.  Nervous. Scared. On edge.  Disappointed I’m not there.

I get up and send a few emails to work and to people I am meant to be meeting in Perth that day.  Don’t try contacting me. I’m rushing back to Adelaide and explained why.  So that took all of 5 minutes.  I remember flicking on the TV and watching some infomercials.  That’s some quality TV.  I quickly switch it off.

I then recall a time in 1994 when I was in Darwin, eager to leave asap.  I arrived at the Darwin airport at midnight, 12 hours early for a flight to Brisbane in the hope I might get an earlier one.  As it turned out, I did.  I was put onto an international flight which was stopping over in Darwin.  I landed in Brisbane 4 hours before I was due to depart Darwin.  I was also upgraded to first class which was amazing but I digress.  So I get my gear together, check out and go to the airport.  I dropped off my hire car and proceeded inside to a ghost town.  There was no one there so that was a bad idea. Then I remembered that the international airport was separate to the domestic.  I decided against trying as I had dropped off my keys and knew that it was a hopeless cause anyway.

So I waited.  Slowly the airport buzzed into life.  I still hadn’t slept.  I checked in and got my boarding pass.  Mid deck!  Damn.  Being mid deck means an extra few minutes waiting to deboard the plane.  It could be costly.

While waiting to board the plane I call Lisa for an update.  She is big time in labour and this is the real deal.  I hope I hid my panic!  I didn’t panic.  I don’t think I did.  Maybe I did.  Who knows?  Passengers who overhear my phone call wish me well and are all hoping I make it on time.  Lisa also explained that Michaela would be taken home by our friend, Belinda.  This is good as the poor thing is probably really worried and a bit of a fish out of water.

We board.  So slowly.

We get the safety instructions.  So slowly.

We taxi. So slowly.

We finally are in the air and for the first time, I am out of contact.  I have no way of knowing what is happening at the hospital.  It is the most anxious, slowest 3 hours of my life.  I fight the urge to go to the cockpit and explain my situation to the pilots in the hope they might put their foot on the gas and break the sound barrier for me.  They probably wouldn’t believe me anyway, mistaking me for an impatient businessman eager to make a meeting on time.

I think I drifted off to sleep. If I did, it would have been for seconds at a time.  I refuse the early morning flight breakfast. I’m too anxious to eat.  I keep checking my watch.  The minutes are going so slowly.  Different scenarios are being played through my mind.  When we land do I push my way to the front of the passengers waiting to deboard?  Do I run like a mad man to the taxis?  I imagine that I make it to the hospital on time, arriving seconds before the baby is born.

Finally we land.  We are on time. Yes!

The taxiing to the terminal goes slowly.  I could run faster than this.  Actually anyone who knows me back then knows this is not true but adrenaline does amazing things when you call on it.

The passengers in front of me deboard so slowly.  I want to punch each one of them in the back of the head for being so slow.

I finally make it into the terminal and I turn on my phone – in those days the Adelaide airport is a shed and you have to disembark and walk across the tarmac so no mobile phones are allowed.  My phone springs to life and I receive a text message from Belinda.  I debate whether to read it or not.  Curiosity gets the better of me and I do.  I can’t recall exactly what it said but it went along the lines of:

“Congratulations. You have a daughter.  Born at 9.01am weighing 7lb 5oz.  Lisa and baby are well”

My heart sinks.  I am so disappointed that I wasn’t there for not only the baby, but also for Lisa.  Every mother wants her husband with her during this amazing time.  I hold my emotions and get in a taxi and I head to the hospital.

Suitcase in hand, I rush into the maternity section.  To my surprise, Michaela is still there, waiting in the waiting room with Lisa’s mum.  I drop my bags and fall to my knees and hug Michaela and then burst into tears.  The emotion of it all has finally caught up with me.  I wasn’t expecting Michaela to be there. I am glad she is.  I apologised for not being there with her.  She hugs me back and is excited that she is there for the birth of her little sister.  She had been so excited that at the age of 7, she was finally getting a real life playmate.

We go in and see Lisa who is recovering from a C Section.  I start crying again and tell her how sorry I am that I wasn’t there.  Lisa is a fragile thing and I know she needed me there at the time that she needed me most. I had let her down.  She looks beautiful and is happy.  The baby is not there with her in recovery so it is time to go and see my new daughter.

Michaela and I go to the nursery and that is where I meet Lara for the very first time.  I look down at the most precious little girl. So beautiful.  So perfect.  I pick her up and cradle her in my arms.  She’s tightly wrapped in a pink blanket and is wearing a little white bonnet.  She is sleeping soundly.  I am so happy and I cry again.  This time it is tears of joy.  I tell her something which she wouldn’t understand.  It is a promise.  I promise her that I will always be there for her and I will never miss an important moment in her life.  I feel like I let her down by not being there when she came into this earth.  The least I can do is make sure I am there for her whenever she needs me in the future.

So far so good.

I missed the birth of my second daughter, Lara by 3 hours.  This was the story of my journey home and what happened that morning. Hopefully she will read this one day and know how sorry I am that I wasn’t there for her during her first few hours.

Guest Poet-Lauri

The following poem is written by one of my tweeps!  You can read Lauri’s blog here and follow her on Twitter here.

Life is Random

By: Lauri Halterman (aka @grnladybug)

The sky is crying,
the whole world’s a mess;
I think I’ll put on
a white frilly dress.

Dance and spin
on the window sill;
sing to the birds
like a whippoorwill.

I scratched my toe
on the curb today,
saw it bleed
then wiped it away.

Added a Band-Aid
to keep it neat;
then peeled it off
to take a peek.

I wonder why
I can’t remember,
the things I did
last December?

Yet May is here
and I can see,
all the things
that used to be.

Gather you up
in a big bear hug;
thanking the stars

that shine up above.

Life is random
and so am I;
some days I laugh
and some I cry.

Happy Song

This week @lesleehorner has been very low key.  It’s actually an interesting story.  For a long time now my intuition has been telling me to spend less time online.  I think you guys know this about me by now.  I’ve written about it before.  When I try to do it on my own, I can’t seem to resist the urge to just “check” my email and pages.  The checking usually turns into chatting, replying, tweeting, and updating.  By the time I am finished my 5 minute check turns into an hour or more of playing.  On Sunday, I had popped onto the blog and thought my Sunday Quote had not published.  I was frantically trying to post a new quote when suddenly the internet just stopped working.  Mark went to troubleshoot and realized the router had just died.  What a coincidence?  I still have internet access but not on my own computer and the set up is complicated.  So my goal for the week has been to spend no more than 30 minutes online per day.  Luckily I had scheduled the entire week’s worth of posts except for today’s before our problem occurred.

So with that in mind, I’m keeping it short.  I went to the gym on Monday and listened to my Ipod while on the elliptical.  It’s when I am working out that I realize just how much music touches me.  I don’t have extremely sophisticated taste in music.  I mostly enjoy what’s popular.  I like a catchy tune and sweet lyrics.  I recently added a few new songs to my collection and one of them is currently my favorite.  It’s odd to say it, but as I listened to it during my work out Monday, I experienced pure bliss.  It was like my entire body was smiling.  I allowed myself to forget about everything else, including where I was and what I was doing, and just get lost in the song.  So for today, in honor of simplicity, I decided to just share my current happy song.  Catchy tune, cheesy lyrics, enjoy!  (And if this is not your happy song, I suggest finding one and letting yourself escape in it for a few minutes!)

RowdyJRT’s Click

RowdyJRT found me and my blog through Twitter.  She commented on a post and sent me the following click story.  I really enjoyed reading her story and it speaks to the idea of “when God closes a door, he opens a window.”  (Or however that goes.)  You can follow RowdyJRT on Twitter here and visit her website filled with cute products honoring her furry friend here.

I always enjoyed the thoughts of being a Grandmother, never once did I associate the idea as being old.  I never pictured it to be as dysfunctional as it has been for me.  It wasn’t the story book tale that I always pictured it to be.

My first Grandchild was born in Sept 2004, we didn’t know about her until March 2005.  In fact we didn’t even know her Mother as it was just a one night fling between our son and this girl.  I didn’t get to bond with her as most Grandparents get to experience.  Her Mother kept her away from us, claiming she just couldn’t be separated from the child. I could understand her Mother’s point, especially since we lived 2 hours away from her. I know I wouldn’t have been able to send my own child that far from home, and that is what kept me from harboring a lot of resentment.

I still felt robbed because I didn’t get to experience the “hey Mom I’m going to be a Daddy” and follow the pregnancy until birth.  That feeling of being robbed continued for the next 5 years, always being told that our G-Daughter would be allowed to come for a visit only to have the Mother back out.  It was always one let down after another.  I finally just stopped communicating with the Mother and figured if it was meant to be we would have the child in our lives at some point.

I remained out of the picture from March 2008 until April 2010.  Her Mom emailed me and said that she now realized it was wrong to keep her away from this side of her family and that it wasn’t fair to any of us.  We arranged a date for her visit, Easter weekend.  Finally, at long last I was going to get to enjoy my sweet little Granddaughter.  I started thinking it wouldn’t happen and that it was just a repeat of all the other times that she changed her mind.  However, much to my surprise they actually brought her here.  She climbed out of the vehicle with 2 backpacks full of clothes, toys etc.  It was so funny watching her drag them across the drive and up the steps. The excitement on her face will remain engraved in my mind forever.   As I had mentioned, the last time she was here was in 2008 and it was a few hours, she was just 3 yrs old at the time.  I was very surprised that she remembered us, as well as our home. but she is one smart cookie.  Plus I’m sure God had worked his magic on her so that she wouldn’t forget us.

Finally, after 5 long years, she was mine to love on, to play House with and most of all start our bonding process.  She didn’t cry after her Mom, it was as if she had been coming here all her life, I know God had a hand in it all.  She was here for the entire weekend, the first night she kept me up until 3 am and although I was super tired and having a Lupus Flare, I didn’t regret a moment of it.  When sleep finally came I cuddled up to her the entire night, every so often waking up to check on her.  I would then lay there thinking how wonderful this was,  yet still in a semi state of shock that it was really happening.  I thought perhaps I was just dreaming about her and none of this was real, but when I laid my hand on her little chest and felt her heart beating I knew it was real.  Oh and does that child ever SNORE, that right there should have been enough to tell me it was real 🙂

As for her Daddy, my youngest son.  He has been in and out of the picture since she was born.  He managed to get into enough trouble and ended up in prison.  She will be 7 before he is released.  I have a picture of her and my son on my monitors desktop.  It was from her last visit here in 2008, she saw the picture and said I know him, he is my Daddy, again more of Gods wonderful work.

When school is out she will be coming here to stay a week at a time on a monthly basis.  I’m looking forward to these longer visits with her.  I’ve started  a “what we will do list” so I can keep us busy.  On that list is quite a bit of baking so I expect both of us to gain 10 pounds per visit.

I really wasn’t completely robbed of being a Grandmother, I do have 2 other Grandchildren, both boys, from my oldest son. I got to experience the “we are pregnant” and followed both pregnancies through birth.  It was exciting to be there for the birth of my Grandsons.  The boys are 1 year and 3 days apart in age.  The youngest one came as a huge surprise to all of us.  My son and his wife were already having financial problems and a second child, although a blessing, made their matters worse.  I kept their youngest baby for 8 months so they could get back on their feet.

I was lost when he went back home. Letting him go home was probably one of the hardest things I could ever do, but I knew at some point it was going to happen. I had him 1/2 his life, I got to see all the “firsts” the teething, crawling and those wonderful first steps.  My world as I knew it was rocked.  I had nothing to manage my time, other than my fur-kid, a spoiled Jack Russell. Again I felt as though I had been robbed. I wondered why being a Grandmother had to be so dysfunctional.  I sank into a very deep depression, started feeling sorry for myself.  I thought life was over for me and all that stress allowed the Lupus flares to take control of me.  Not once did I ask God to help me through my difficult time.  I guess I just forgot about God and let the Devil control my issues.

I only mentioned my Grandsons because the little girl came back into my life when I was at my lowest.  It was just a few days after my Grandson went home that my Granddaughters Mother emailed me.  She asked if I wanted to start having my Granddaughter on weekends.  It was God’s miracles at work, he didn’t wait for me to ask him.  That is how God works, he takes on our problems, he is always working in the background, even if we forget to ask him to help us.

Out-Numbered’s Click

I’ve been following @OutnumberedIsMe on Twitter for some time now.  I read his blog from time to time and it falls into the category of blogs that make me laugh out loud.  He is a much-loved personality in the blogosphere and Twittersphere so I decided one day to send him a request for a click story.  He quickly replied with a yes and sent me a few links later that day.  This was, to me, the most moving in a personal way of those he sent.  It truly caught the essence of the “click moment.”  So thank you, Mr. Outnumbered, for allowing me to publish this post and for the talent, humor, and generosity you send out into the world.

For my family…

The bathroom in my bedroom has a window right behind the toilet.

This morning I was peeing and staring out into the yard.

I spotted a bumble bee crawling across the roof.

Spring.

The seasons can signify many things. I suppose it depends on who you are.

For most, I would imagine they bring hope, change or inspiration. Perhaps all three.

But not me.

I don’t think I’ve ever needed the Spring as much as I do now.

The sun is like an awakening of sorts. Its bright light can change everything in an instant. There’s something about the warmth, the light, the smell of green.

So I’ve heard.

I’ve needed a change for quite some time. So long, that it’s hard for me to explain. It might be easier for me to speak in metaphors. I’m not quite ready to talk about all of this. But I need to let it go.

Suppose for the past 30 years you had been walking in the cold, gray, Winter. What if you’d watched countless seasons come and go but the Spring had always eluded you?

What if most days seemed as if they were filled with dark clouds and rain? So much rain. Imagine the Winter never left and Spring never came.

What would you do?

What could you do?

I can feel the Spring today. I can feel it for the first time in a long time.

For 30 years, I’ve carried a huge burden with me. I’ve harbored a lot of anger. I’ve tucked years of resentment so far down in my soul that I had forgotten it was even there.

But it was there.

Hardened.

Rotten.

Resentment has been the foundation for a wall I’ve built so high that I couldn’t even see over the top of it.

Concrete. Brick. Mortar. Repeat.

Mom, Dad, Wife, Children, Friends.

All on the other side.

My parents got divorced when I was 9. I remember the night they told me. I think that was the beginning. That night I locked the door to my heart and threw away the key. I wouldn’t ever talk about it again. I wouldn’t bother anyone. I wouldn’t listen to anyone.

I wouldn’t do anything.

I spent the last 30 years avoiding contact. I did whatever it took to stay at an arms length away. I wouldn’t let anyone even remotely close for more than a moment. I was afraid.

What could a 9 year old boy be so afraid of? What could a 39 year old man, with a job, a house and a family, be so scared of?

It’s simple.

I was afraid of being disappointed. I was afraid of being let down. I was afraid that it would happen all over again.

I was angry at my Father for leaving and I resented my Mother for letting him go.

It’s amazing what the mind will do to preserve one’s own sanity. Or maybe it’s just tragic.

I would take care of myself. I would wedge anything and everything between me and anyone who wanted a piece of me.

I would use alcohol, pills, food, whatever it took to numb the pain. I would self medicate for 30 years. I even used this blog. Especially this blog. It’s the perfect form of contact. It’s indirect. It’s not real. It’s safe because you can’t get too close to me…

Until now.

I’m changing.

I can feel it. For the first time, I’m starting to let go. I’m turning over the reins to a power greater than myself. I’m letting the resentment go and I’m inviting the ones that I love back in. I’m putting trust in faith. I’m having faith in trust.

These past few weeks have been hard. But not nearly as hard as all of the weeks prior. Over a thousand weeks gone for good. So much wasted time.

I must do this. I will not waste any more time.

I’ve taken some big steps to make things right. Things I’m not ready to talk about right now. Not here.

Today I felt the Spring for the first time in a long time.

It’s never felt so fucking good…