Two days to go till Thanksgiving, I know, but I’ve got a lot to do between now and then, so I figure I should write this while I have the time.

Because I have a raging sinus headache/potential migraine, I’m thankful for modern medicine.

I’m thankful to be employed at not only one, but two different places of business. I may complain about getting up early or about running around an ice-cold arena, but I’m truly grateful for my jobs.

I’m thankful that those jobs provide me with a paycheck that has allowed me to finally (finally!) get braces.

I am thankful for my loving family, one who still enjoys being together every chance we get.

I’m tearing up at the thought of writing this, but… I could not be more thankful for Allan. For the way he loves me, for the way he makes me smile, and for the way he makes me feel more confident and secure than I ever thought I could be.

I’m thankful for Murphy, the little ball of black and tan fur who has turned my life upside down and brought with him more joy than I thought an animal ever could.

And I’m thankful for my friends, the wonderful people in my life through the ups, the downs and everything in between.

Allan, my shotgun-shooting, ham-winning fiance, is tired. He gets up early with Murphy every day. Not just during the week, but more often than not he’s up at the butt-crack of dawn on Saturday and Sunday with a wiggly puppy who has no concept of time or of sleeping in. Eventually – hopefully – Murphy will get there, he’ll want to spend the vast majority of his days snuggled up in a ball of himself, blissfully sleeping his life away. But not yet, and it’s Allan who deals with the repercussions of having such an awake dog. And now that our dog is gone for the week, lounging around the beach-side country club home of his grandparents, Allan’s guard is down and he’s barely speaking in coherent sentences. Not that he ever really did, mind you. That boy’s got a Southern drawl for sure, but he’s generally understandable. Without the responsibilities of the puppy, his body has gone into shut-down mode and I have absolutely no idea what he says when he’s talking. But it’s clear that he needs sleep.

Oh yeah, true story about him shooting a shotgun and winning a ham. An eight pound deli meat ham, to be exact. One we have to actually take to Food Lion or Harris-Teeter or something to get sliced. Mildly embarrassing, no? “Excuse me? Can you please slice this ham? My fiance won it at a turkey shoot in Brunswick County the other night. Yep, you heard me correctly. He won it at a turkey shoot. No, it wasn’t the grand prize, but close enough!”

Ok, I have to admit it. I really like the new Britney Spears song ‘3.’ When it comes on the radio, I dance around the kitchen, which amuses Murphy because he likes to see his mama act like a loon. He gets all wiggly and happy and is like, “Yeah! I can act like a fool, too!” It’s one of the many ways we bond. You want another bonding example? Well, while washing my hair in the morning, I bend my head beneath the bathtub faucet and Murphy stands in the tub and licks the shampoo out of my hair. He’s helping and we’re bonding. We’re multi-taskers.

I’m going into the RBC Center tonight, which was unplanned, but I agreed to do it because of my financial situation. No need to send donations just yet, but things are going to be tough at the end of the year. My company shuts down for seven business days, none of which I get paid for. Nearly a quarter of my monthly salary will vanish. Add that to the cost of holiday gifts, monthly bills, braces and A WEDDING, and you can understand my concern. That’s why I agreed to cut my lazy week short, put on my black pants and big, braced-out smile and head to the arena to bar tend.

I’ve been enjoying this week. Wendy got sick and we mercifully cancelled our Monday gym date, so I’ve been able to spend the past few days being lazy with my favorite person on the planet. Usually we’re running here, running there, he’s doing this, I’m doing that. But with the exception of a quick visit with Kristen and a months-overdue haircut, I’ve been able to just be with him. To lay with him and tickle him and snuggle with him and see him smile.

No fear, though, those of you concerned about my weight (namely my mother who doesn’t read this blog): Wendy and I are still planning to go to the gym at least once a week, probably more when hockey’s over. Although Allan says he love my curves (Seriously, he tells me that all the time. See why he’s my favorite person on the planet?), I think I’m disgusting and need to do something about it. And I don’t think you can actually call what I have ‘curves.’ I think they’re called ‘rolls.’

Someone made brownies and put them near the coffee at work. But I walked by them. I saw them, was tempted by them, then ignored them. Without going into too much gory detail about how only two pairs of pants in my closet FULL of pants actually fit, I have decided I need to lose weight. A lot of weight. And I need to do it before September. I have never weighed this much in my life and I’m disgusted at myself.

So, I’m fat, I wear glasses (hooray continuing GPC!) and I have braces. My fiance is a lucky man.

Yes, folks, I did it. I got braces. Below is a picture that’s hugely embarrassing to me: I’m fat, I’m wearing glasses, and I have jacked teeth. The only reason I allowed – wanted, actually – this picture to be taken was to document the BEFORE. It was taken less than 12 hours pre-braces. But the picture below it, the one that’s slightly more flattering, highlights my shiny, new braces. It’s me on my way to the AFTER photo.

I have one thing to say to all of you people who said I’d be ‘a little sore’ after having the braces put on: you lie! There were two solid days where I could only drink (or eat through a straw), where four Advil at a time wouldn’t alleviate the pain, and during which I tried to convince Allan that I changed my mind, crooked teeth were fine with me. Thankfully the pain eventually went away and now I’m left with teeth that no longer fit behind my lips, whistling sounds come from my mouth when I say certain words, and I drool on my pillow at night.

No joke, this is a dream come true. I cannot believe I’m actually wearing braces, that I’m on my way to a smile that I’m okay with rather than hugely embarrassed by. Some day I won’t have to tilt my head to the right to lessen the crooked-ness in photos, or smile with my mouth completely closed if a camera is too close. I won’t have to wonder if strangers think less of me because I never got my teeth taken care of. I won’t feel like my crooked teeth are an indicator of who I am as a person.

There’s a whole lot that gets wrapped up in one’s mouth. I wonder if there are therapists who solely focus on teeth and what they do to one’s self esteem. If not, I should do it. I’d be rolling in the money, yo.



On my way to After

On my way to After