Crisis

 

Axe Tree

Another image danced across my mind. Or was it a memory?

A very sudden and quick sparkle was followed by the eerie sound of a muffled groan . . . A sound that could have been mistook for that of an axe against a tree stump . . . The sticky sensation of sap running over my hands . . . warm sap . . . with a deep red color . . . dripping from MY hands . . .

I looked at the agent and wondered if he could read my mind. Did my eyes reveal my confusion? My fear?

My heart rate elevated to a rapid pace. It knows I am in crisis mode.    

Blood on hands

**blogger’s note** This is my contribution to @velvetverbosity’s 100 word challenge at http://velvetberbosity.com This weeks word is CRISIS

Here are the previous post’s for this story line:

The room was deafeningly quiet. The only sound was the constant hum that screamed at me from the light hanging above. My elbows were rested on the cold, hard steel table that was in front of me. I could not keep from wondering why they were making me sit in this room. Actually, I could not keep from wondering why in the hell they had picked me up at work in the first place.

Suddenly, the door burst open and the first words from the officer’s mouth were “Mr. Georges, we think that you stabbed and killed that poor girl”

I was shocked at the words that came out of his mouth. How could they think that I had stabbed some girl?  My mind seemed to be frozen in time until I noticed . . .

. . . the credentials hanging from his jacket pocket said C.I.A – as in Central Intelligence Agency.

Since when did the CIA start investigating stabbings of poor girls?

This had to be a dream. A joke. A prank. This had to be something other than reality.

“Mr. Georges, tell me exactly where you were last night at 7:30PM!”

Nothing was coming to mind. Why was I drawing a blank? My mind started to drift back to last night . . . nothing was coming.

I tried to think of what happened yesterday afternoon . . . nothing was coming. I could feel a cold bead of sweat starting to run down the back of my neck.

Flash

At that exact moment there must of have been a power surge or someone flicked the light switch because the light hanging above my head fluctuated. That temporary change to my environment caused a memory to surge into my head. I remember thinking that meeting my ex at the club for one drink would be harmless.

 

“Why did you do it?” That seemed to be their favorite question.

“How come you will not tell us where you where last night”?

The fog returned every time they asked this one. How come I could only remember meeting Sophia but not remember any details of our night together.

I only had a couple of drinks and I am used to drinking many more than that. We didn’t mix anything illicit into our partying last night. Maybe someone slipped me a roofie.

Does that happen to men?

After four hours of interviews it suddenly hit me! I was starved.

The hunger pains started to set in and that did not mix well with the pressure that was starting to develop inside my head. At least 6 years had passed since I had gotten a migraine but I could tell that the framework for a mighty one had already been laid.

I tried to focus on the words that were coming from the officer’s mouth but I could not decipher anything that he was saying.

Images from last night kept flooding my minds’ eye.

Sophia!

Drinks!

Strobe-lights!

Dancing!

A wig!

A girl!

Who was she?

S M A C K – “I don’t think you are listening”?

I tried as hard as I could to stay in my chair. I knew that any attempt to “release” my frustration would be met with quick and decisive action but I exploded.

I jumped from my chair and reached for the officer but they reacted more quickly than I did.

I felt a hand on the back of my neck. It was a very large and strong hand and it forced me back to my chair.

A picture was placed on the table in front of me.

“Mr. Georges, DO YOU RECOGNIZE THIS GIRL”

The wigged girl is a redhead!?!?

“MR. GEORGES, DO YOU RECOGNIZE THIS KNIFE”?

I stared at the knife in disbelief. Of course I recognize it.  I own a knife exactly like that one.

Worse yet is the fact that the tile in the back ground looks exactly like the tile in my kitchen.

This nightmare is getting more bizarre by the minute . . . check that . . . by the second.

I looked up at the officer and I know that he saw the fear and confusion in my eyes.

His cold dark eyes faded out . . .

“Mr. Georges, you do realize that we can dust the knife for prints. Don’t you”?

Another image danced across my mind. Or was it a memory?

A very sudden and quick sparkle was followed by the eerie sound of a muffled groan. A sound that could have been mistook for that of an axe against a tree stump. The sticky sensation of sap running over my hands . . . warm sap . . . with a deep red color . . . dripping from MY hands . . .

I looked at the agent and wondered if he could read my mind. Did my eyes reveal my fear? My confusion?

My heart rate elevated to a rapid pace. It knows I am in crisis mode.    

 

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Lets Go On A Run –

If you have absolutely nothing better to do with your time then you are welcome to come along on the run that I had this morning.

I know that sounds a little confusing so let me explain – Today was a mile stone sort of day. I decided to baseline my weight and body fat % so that I could set some goals for getting both of these back to where I think they should be. I have spent the last 10 months allowing health issues, lifestyle issues, and many excuses to keep me from working out in all of the fashions that I am / was used to.

BTW – 164.8 at 19.4

I had already “forced” myself into a run by leaving my car on the shop over the weekend so that they could do some work – I knew that I had to run back to get it :) and that I did.

I plugged in the iPod, put on my rain gear, pulled a hat down to keep the rain from hitting dead in the eyes and off I went.

As (used to be) usual I let the song deck dictate my pace:

My run started with:

Elderly Women Behind the Counter In a Small Town by Pearl Jam and for no particular reason I just let it play on.

Next up – Church Pew or Bar Stool by Jason Aldean. This was a nice little slow pace so it allowed for a little longer warm up. I just let my wonder back to the good ole days in Smyrna! Good memories.

Fix You by Coldplay appropriately came next – I spent some time thinking of and hoping for the best for that lady from several years ago!

This is what I am talking about: http://dxpepper.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/just-awesome/

Better Man was up next – It just felt like a PJ kind of day.

Something To Believe In by Poison. I watched We Were Soldiers last night and I was flooded with the emotion of what those soldiers went through – I thought of all of the Vets out there – We owe them for so much more then we can ever repay!

“Twenty-two years of mental tears
Cries a suicidal Vietnam vet
Who fought a losing war on a foreign shore
To find his country didn’t want him back

Their bullets took his best friend in Saigon
Our lawyers took his wife, his kids, no regrets
In a time I don’t remember
In a war he can’t forget

He cries “Forgive me for what I’ve done there
Cause I never meant the things I did”

And since it was raining and starting to pour down at this point – Water by Brad Paisley

All aboard! Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaa! Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay Crazy . . . . If you need me to tell you what I thought about for this entire song then you have some “getting to know me” catching up to do.

I wish that I could get this song into this format but I just can’t seem to figure out – The lyrics are very important and moving during this season but hearing Justin Rosolino sing Come Sweet Day does so much more than just reading the lyrics. But here they are:

11 hours and 13 minutes more
‘Til emancipation’s bells will start to ring
‘Cause the law they finally passed
Hallelujah, free at last
So tomorrow makes a man from what had once been property

So come, sweet day
And free me with your ray
For you alone I’ll wait

And finally – my run ended at Honda Car Land with my theme song playing loudly in the ear buds – I feel no shame I’m proud of where I came from
I was born and raised in the boondocks . . .”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skAOb_EUE_M

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Dust

Bloody Knife

“MR. GEORGES, DO YOU RECOGNIZE THIS KNIFE”?

I stared at the knife in disbelief. Of course I recognize it.  I own a knife exactly like that one.

Worse yet is the fact that the tile in the back ground looks exactly like the tile in my kitchen.

This nightmare is getting more bizarre by the minute . . . check that . . . by the second.

I looked up at the officer and I know that he saw the fear and confusion in my eyes.

His cold dark eyes faded out . . .

“Mr. Georges, you do realize that we can dust the knife for prints. Don’t you”?

**blogger’s note** This is my contribution to @velvetverbosity’s 100 word challenge at http://velvetberbosity.com This weeks word is DUST

Here are the previous post’s for this story line:

The room was deafeningly quiet. The only sound was the constant hum that screamed at me from the light hanging above. My elbows were rested on the cold, hard steel table that was in front of me. I could not keep from wondering why they were making me sit in this room. Actually, I could not keep from wondering why in the hell they had picked me up at work in the first place.

Suddenly, the door burst open and the first words from the officer’s mouth were “Mr. Georges, we think that you stabbed and killed that poor girl”

I was shocked at the words that came out of his mouth. How could they think that I had stabbed some girl?  My mind seemed to be frozen in time until I noticed . . .

. . . the credentials hanging from his jacket pocket said C.I.A – as in Central Intelligence Agency.

Since when did the CIA start investigating stabbings of poor girls?

This had to be a dream. A joke. A prank. This had to be something other than reality.

“Mr. Georges, tell me exactly where you were last night at 7:30PM!”

Nothing was coming to mind. Why was I drawing a blank? My mind started to drift back to last night . . . nothing was coming.

I tried to think of what happened yesterday afternoon . . . nothing was coming. I could feel a cold bead of sweat starting to run down the back of my neck.

Flash

At that exact moment there must of have been a power surge or someone flicked the light switch because the light hanging above my head fluctuated. That temporary change to my environment caused a memory to surge into my head. I remember thinking that meeting my ex at the club for one drink would be harmless.

“Why did you do it?” That seemed to be their favorite question.

“How come you will not tell us where you where last night”?

The fog returned every time they asked this one. How come I could only remember meeting Sophia but not remember any details of our night together.

I only had a couple of drinks and I am used to drinking many more than that. We didn’t mix anything illicit into our partying last night. Maybe someone slipped me a roofie.

Does that happen to men?

After four hours of interviews it suddenly hit me! I was starved.

The hunger pains started to set in and that did not mix well with the pressure that was starting to develop inside my head. At least 6 years had passed since I had gotten a migraine but I could tell that the framework for a mighty one had already been laid.

I tried to focus on the words that were coming from the officer’s mouth but I could not decipher anything that he was saying.

Images from last night kept flooding my minds’ eye.

Sophia!

Drinks!

Strobe-lights!

Dancing!

A wig!

A girl!

Who was she?

S M A C K – “I don’t think you are listening”?

I tried as hard as I could to stay in my chair. I knew that any attempt to “release” my frustration would be met with quick and decisive action but I exploded.

I jumped from my chair and reached for the officer but they reacted more quickly than I did.

I felt a hand on the back of my neck. It was a very large and strong hand and it forced me back to my chair.

A picture was placed on the table in front of me.

“Mr. Georges, DO YOU RECOGNIZE THIS GIRL”

The wigged girl is a redhead!?!?

“MR. GEORGES, DO YOU RECOGNIZE THIS KNIFE”?

I stared at the knife in disbelief. Of course I recognize it.  I own a knife exactly like that one.

Worse yet is the fact that the tile in back ground looks exactly like the tile in my kitchen.

This nightmare is getting more bizarre by the minute . . . check that . . . by the second.

I looked up at the officer and I know that he saw the fear and confusion in my eyes.

His cold dark eyes faded out . . .

“Mr. Georges, you do realize that we can dust the knife for prints. Don’t you”?

Posted in 100 Words, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Parenting – Love it? Hate it?

Parenting – I have this love / hate relationship thing going on with parenting. I love that I am a parent. I especially love parenting my kids – I guess I couldn’t really parent someone else’s kids now could I.

I also hate parenting my kids. Does that make me odd?

You see, I want to do the job perfectly. I probably do but . . . there are moments when it just doesn’t feel like I am and that is when the hate part of this relationship is evident.

I probably started thinking about being a parent back when I knew everything and realized that my parents were doing it all wrong. I actually remember telling my mom that I was never going to parent like her . . . come to think of it, I told her that many times ;)

As I grew up, being parent’ed by mine, I started to formulate little “parenting plans” long before I was ever thinking about being a parent. I just knew I was going to nail it someday.

In my somewhat older than being parent’ed years I still find ways and experiences to add to my parenting plans. I found little bits of wisdom in songs that were popular at the time. There are a few songs that stand out and have always gotten me to think about parenting – (pre and post parenting eras)

You probably think that I am going to reference Ugly Kid Joe’s version of Cats In The Cradle. Well, you should know that I am a little deeper than that (not that there is anything wrong with that version or that song).

The first song that really got me thinking of parenting is What a Good Boy by the Bare Naked Ladies. This song was released in 1992 and I was just a mere 21 years old but knew that there was something in this song worth applying to my future parenting style.

Here is a pretty good version if you want a little ear candy to go with my boring writing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLYxPp6O9ow

Here is the part of the song that always led / leads me to thinking about parenting –

When I was born
They looked at me and said
What a good boy
What a smart boy
What a strong boy

And when you were born
They looked at you and said
What a good girl
What a smart girl
What a pretty girl

We’ve got these chains
Hanging round our necks
People want to strangle us with them before we take our first breath

Now when it comes to parenting – those words are so damn true! We are all born with and into societal and parental expectations. There isn’t anything wrong with that unless and UNTIL those expectations contradict with the life that we choose for our self’s. And that is where being a parent becomes a challenge. The trying to develop your child into the person that you want them to be while loving them as they become the person that they want to be . . . . Remember that Love Hate Thing?

The second song is another one that is sure to thrill you. It is Perfect by (yet another Canadian artist) Alanis Morrissette.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9WIM2zZ2nI

Here is the part of the song that always led / leads me to thinking about parenting:

I’ll live through you
I’ll make you what I never was
If you’re the best, then maybe so am I
Compared to him compared to her
I’m doing this for your own damn good
You’ll make up for what I blew
What’s the problem, why are you crying

Actually – you should really listen to the whole song while reading the lyrics. This song is actually a very scary way to parent but . . .  it is a song that helped mold how I planned to parent. My first parenting plan was to make sure that my kids find NOTHING in this song that makes them think of me as dad.

I don’t think that I can count the number of times that I felt as if I just didn’t measure up. How about you? I know that my mom loved me but unfortunately parenting can lead kids to feel this way no matter what! Parenting should be about pushing your kids to do and be their very best. But remember that love hate thing?

When is it too much?

I think we have all seen “the” parent that is just a little over the top and seems to be pushing their kid a little too much. I know that I have. I actually remember it well – It was during the Iron Kids Triathlon – Yeah the KIDS triathlon. Some yahoo dad was literally yelling at his son as the kid was in transition. I mean, some brutally load yelling and was trying to make the point that the kid was going to drop about 12 seconds on his time because he was taking so long. I wanted to punch the dude for being such an ass but then it hit me . . .

. . . While Laura Kate was training for the Iron Kids someone probably thought that I was a yahoo for yelling at my daughter. I wasn’t really yelling but I know that I got real intense with her one time.

Early in the training she was a little afraid of the bike. She had not been doing lots of biking so her confidence was pretty low and she didn’t want to take this sharp curve on the bike path that we were training on. She refused to try – I refused to allow her to NOT try. I wonder if she ever thought . . . that simply wasn’t good enough . . .  to make him proud . . .

Remember that love hate thing?

(In the end she finally tried, took the curve well, and her confidence grew – On race day, when she was entering bike/run transition she yelled out to me “this is the time of my life. I want to do this again and again” . . . aghhhh, the love thing!

 

Finally I am coming to my musical conclusion. I want you to know about another song that contains words of encouragement for a parent. This song contains within one very simple message – the message that my kids, your kids, ALL kids need to hear EVERYDAY!

I BELIEVE IN YOU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-Vxj1cibVg

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A Tough Holiday Season with Cancer

FYI – The #50People process seems to be continuing. The continuation started just like this:

Hi, I have a quick question about your blog, would you mind emailing me when you get a chance? Thanks, Cameron

I followed up with an email that lead to a conversation about me allowing Cameron to “guest post” on my blog – (Yeah, I am big time now!)

I did take some time to let Cameron know that my blog isn’t anything that big and that the posting will probably only be seen by 4 people max but . . . you never know how it might affect those 4 people.

If you are not sure what the #50People process is you can catch up here:

http://dxpepper.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/50peope-lets-do-this/

http://dxpepper.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/look-what-50people-did/

So here it is:

A Tough Holiday Season with Cancer

When the holidays roll around, I always look forward to spending time with the people I love most, celebrating our family traditions, and giving thanks for all of our blessings. When my daughter, Lily was born in August of 2005, my wife Heather and I were already anticipating our precious little girl’s first Christmas and Thanksgiving. However, all of our exciting plans for the holidays came to a screeching halt when Heather was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma just three days before Thanksgiving.

At this point, our daughter was only three and a half months old. Heather had been experiencing fatigue and shortness of breathe for weeks, symptoms that we had at first chalked up to the stresses of early parenthood.  However, the weeks went on and the symptoms only worsened.  After several doctors visits and countless tests, the simple answers began to be checked off one by one.  We began to fear that something was seriously wrong.  Finally, the doctors determined that it was mesothelioma.  At first the diagnosis of this rare and very deadly cancer took our thoughts off of the holidays and straight towards how we were going to be fighting it. Thoughts of thanks went right out of my head and were replaced with anger at the unfairness of it all, and fear at what it could mean for my family.

Despite the devastating news, we still tried to celebrate the holidays; after all there was a very real possibility that it would be Lily’s only holiday season with her mom. Heather’s family flew in for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I dreaded the conversation that I knew we would have to have. After our holiday meal, we sat around the table to discuss our difficult situation.  On top of the obvious stresses about my wife’s health, the mesothelioma diagnosis brought with it a wealth of financial difficulty.  Heather and I had previously both worked full time, but we were now living on my income alone.  The expenses of cross-country travel and medical treatment were unexpected, to say the least, and we were ill prepared for them.  Heather parents discussed with us what we could liquidate to stay afloat during the coming months, and how much they could afford to help us pay for. For years afterward, this was a time that I could not think about without cringing.  I was mortified and embarrassed, and in that moment I truly felt that I had nothing to be thankful for that year.

Now, years later, I can look back on that day with a whole different perspective. I can see now what my pride and fear had blinded me to that Thanksgiving.  We had a family that was willing to do anything they could to help us in our time of need. They had dropped all of their other plans to come out and help us with what they had. We were so blessed to have them, and now I can see how much I did have to be thankful for that year.

It was largely due to their help that Heather and I made it through her intense treatment.  After the holidays, we traveled to Boston, where Heather underwent an invasive procedure call an extrapleural pneumonectomy.  She stayed with her parents during her recovery, while I returned home to work, in the continuing attempt to keep us above water financially. She would have to go through more rounds of treatment involving chemotherapy and radiation in the months that followed, but in the end she came out alive and well.

This year, I am making time to think about that day around our table, where so many others put their lives on hold for my family and me. I will forever be grateful to our incredibly loving and generous friends and family, who made it possible for us to make it through Heather’s mesothelioma treatment.  She has now been cancer free for over six years, and we’ve been able to celebrate seven wonderful Christmas’s and counting together with our daughter.  We hope that our story of triumph over cancer can help all those currently fighting a battle with cancer find something in their lives to be thankful for this holiday season.

You can keep up with Cameron here: http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/cameron/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Redhead

Police Interrogation

I tried as hard as I could to stay in my chair. I knew that any attempt to “release” my frustration would be met with quick and decisive action but I exploded.

I jumped from my chair and reached for the officer but they reacted more quickly than I did.

I felt a hand on the back of my neck. It was a very large and strong hand and it forced me back to my chair.

A picture was placed on the table in front of me.

“Mr. Georges, DO YOU RECOGNIZE THIS GIRL”

The wigged girl is a redhead!?!?

**blogger’s note** This is my contribution to @velvetverbosity’s 100 word challenge at http://velvetberbosity.com This weeks word is REDHEAD

Here are the previous post’s for this story line:

The room was deafeningly quiet. The only sound was the constant hum that screamed at me from the light hanging above. My elbows were rested on the cold, hard steel table that was in front of me. I could not keep from wondering why they were making me sit in this room. Actually, I could not keep from wondering why in the hell they had picked me up at work in the first place.

Suddenly, the door burst open and the first words from the officer’s mouth were “Mr. Georges, we think that you stabbed and killed that poor girl”

I was shocked at the words that came out of his mouth. How could they think that I had stabbed some girl?  My mind seemed to be frozen in time until I noticed . . .

. . . the credentials hanging from his jacket pocket said C.I.A – as in Central Intelligence Agency.

Since when did the CIA start investigating stabbings of poor girls?

This had to be a dream. A joke. A prank. This had to be something other than reality.

“Mr. Georges, tell me exactly where you were last night at 7:30PM!”

Nothing was coming to mind. Why was I drawing a blank? My mind started to drift back to last night . . . nothing was coming.

I tried to think of what happened yesterday afternoon . . . nothing was coming. I could feel a cold bead of sweat starting to run down the back of my neck.

Flash

At that exact moment there must of have been a power surge or someone flicked the light switch because the light hanging above my head fluctuated. That temporary change to my environment caused a memory to surge into my head. I remember thinking that meeting my ex at the club for one drink would be harmless.

“Why did you do it?” That seemed to be their favorite question.

“How come you will not tell us where you where last night”?

The fog returned every time they asked this one. How come I could only remember meeting Sophia but not remember any details of our night together.

I only had a couple of drinks and I am used to drinking many more than that. We didn’t mix anything illicit into our partying last night. Maybe someone slipped me a roofie.

Does that happen to men?

After four hours of interviews it suddenly hit me! I was starved.

The hunger pains started to set in and that did not mix well with the pressure that was starting to develop inside my head. At least 6 years had passed since I had gotten a migraine but I could tell that the framework for a mighty one had already been laid.

I tried to focus on the words that were coming from the officer’s mouth but I could not decipher anything that he was saying.

Images from last night kept flooding my minds’ eye.

Sophia!

Drinks!

Strobe-lights!

Dancing!

A wig!

A girl!

Who was she?

S M A C K – “I don’t think you are listening”?

I tried as hard as I could to stay in my chair. I knew that any attempt to “release” my frustration would be met with quick and decisive action but I exploded.

I jumped from my chair and reached for the officer but they reacted more quickly than I did.

I felt a hand on the back of my neck. It was a very large and strong hand and it forced me back to my chair.

A picture was placed on the table in front of me.

“Mr. Georges, DO YOU RECOGNIZE THIS GIRL”

The wigged girl is a redhead!?!?

Posted in 100 Words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Listening

The hunger pains started to set in and that did not mix well with the pressure that was starting to develop inside my head. At least 6 years had passed since I had gotten a migraine but I could tell the framework for a mighty one had already been laid.

I tried to focus on the words that were coming from the officer’s mouth but I could not decipher anything that he was saying.

Images from last night kept flooding my minds’ eye.

Sophia!

Drinks!

Strobe-lights!

Dancing!

A wig!

A girl? ? ?

Who was she?

S M A C K – “I don’t think you are listening”!

 

**blogger’s note** This is my contribution to @velvetverbosity’s 100 word challenge at http://velvetberbosity.com This weeks word is LISTENING

Here are the previous post’s for this story line:

The room was deafeningly quiet. The only sound was the constant hum that screamed at me from the light hanging above. My elbows were rested on the cold, hard steel table that was in front of me. I could not keep from wondering why they were making me sit in this room. Actually, I could not keep from wondering why in the hell they had picked me up at work in the first place.

Suddenly, the door burst open and the first words from the officer’s mouth were “Mr. Georges, we think that you stabbed and killed that poor girl”

I was shocked at the words that came out of his mouth. How could they think that I had stabbed some girl?  My mind seemed to be frozen in time until I noticed . . .

. . . the credentials hanging from his jacket pocket said C.I.A – as in Central Intelligence Agency.

Since when did the CIA start investigating stabbings of poor girls?

This had to be a dream. A joke. A prank. This had to be something other than reality.

“Mr. Georges, tell me exactly where you were last night at 7:30PM!”

Nothing was coming to mind. Why was I drawing a blank? My mind started to drift back to last night . . . nothing was coming.

I tried to think of what happened yesterday afternoon . . . nothing was coming. I could feel a cold bead of sweat starting to run down the back of my neck.

Flash

At that exact moment there must of have been a power surge or someone flicked the light switch because the light hanging above my head fluctuated. That temporary change to my environment caused a memory to surge into my head. I remember thinking that meeting my ex at the club for one drink would be harmless.

 

“Why did you do it?” That seemed to be their favorite question.

“How come you will not tell us where you where last night”?

The fog returned every time they asked this one. How come I could only remember meeting Sophia but not remember any details of our night together.

I only had a couple of drinks and I am used to drinking many more than that. We didn’t mix anything illicit into our partying last night. Maybe someone slipped me a roofie.

Does that happen to men?

After four hours of interviews it suddenly hit me! I was starved.

Posted in 100 Words | Tagged , | 5 Comments