The Beauty of Britney Beards

Pause. Time out. I’m taking a break from telling stories to highlight one of the most important people in my life.

Britney Beards.

You see, I had to work to get this friendship. His real name is Chris but his karaoke name is Britney Beards.

Every night when I first started going to Empire I found him to be one of the most interesting souls I have ever seen. I wanted to be his friend. Problem was, HE WOULDN’T TALK TO ME.

Who doesn’t talk to me? THAT GUY.

I would be chilling outside on a picnic table and he would appear out of thin air and would stand and smoke a cigarette. I would smile and say hello. I would try to catch his eye or find a way to start a conversation but as quickly as I would think of something to open with he would be gone.

This went on for a looooong time.

Then karaoke happened.

I think we all need to take a moment to give Nick the credit he deserves for bringing people together. He is going to be my next post.

So I’m at karaoke and Chris somehow ends up in the seat across from me. The beauty of karaoke is it brings all walks of people together for the common good, to see who has the balls to get up in front of a crowd and sing their ass off.

I’m a good singer, Chris is a GREAT singer (later on I would learn he is a professional karaoke host.) We would take our turns singing songs and congratulate each other on a job well done. We started to chit chat and bond and he was funny and smart and everything I knew he would be. It was the end of the night when I decided I was going to force him to be my friend. I was so sly about it too. I said “Damn it Chris, you’re going to be my friend. From now on when you see me you have to sit with me.” and he said “Okay!”

I have such a way with words.

From that moment on we have spent every evening together. He is THE BEST. Truly one of the funniest people I have ever met. He finds the best memes, starts incredibly awkward and uncomfortable conversations on purpose (and then would walk away while the entire group had a meltdown. Fucking Lucas and the ass shaving, I’ll never forgive Chris for that one, it lasted about a month), and is a master masseuse.

In the months since I have brought Chris out of his Empire shell (I take credit. One day Chris was doing what he does best and someone said “Where did you even come from?” and he was like “Julie!”) he has become a key part to everyone’s night. He has this thing he does where he can pop every knuckle in your hand (I hate it, everyone else loves it), if you have a headache or sore back (or elbow like Dex) he will massage it, if you need a laugh he will pull up a meme that will make you forget your worries, and on the days it’s too cold for me to sit outside he will stay inside with me even though all the rest of our heathen friends are outside smoking.

Men don’t mind that he gives them kisses on the cheek and makes awkward sexual comments to push the boundaries, women want his magic fingers. He always compliments me even though he isn’t the type of person who feels comfortable complimenting people. He knows how I crave attention so he always takes the time to find something positive about me and will give a compliment in the sweetest way, sometimes I even get a high five. It makes my night.

He tortures Grayson, helps Crystal when she has a migraine, has cured MANY headaches for me, has gotten me through some rough times, and keeps me warm on the days I try to brave the elements on the patio (he puts off a ton of body heat and often gives me his jacket.)

When I sat down to write this I thought it would be more eloquent and dramatic so forgive me if I am not doing this man justice. He is one of the best friends I have ever had, has become an integral part of everyone’s night at Empire, and the first question my husband asks before a night he goes out is “Will Chris be there?” because a night out just isn’t a night out if Chris isn’t there to enjoy it with you.

Buddy, I don’t know if you’re going to read this (you will, I’m going to make you) or what you will think of it (I have an idea, “Aww! My Julie!”) but I wanted the world to know they are missing out on the kindest, most unique, hilarious, delightful person they would ever be so lucky to meet. Thanks for being you. I love you, appreciate you, and miss you on the days you’re not there. You’re mine for life.

Cops, They Love Me

That’s my cop face. I would be a hot cop.

Like REALLY love me.

I was totally lacking insperado this afternoon and was just farting around until I decided what I wanted to write when I passed a cop on the other side of the highway who had someone pulled over for whatever.  Now, I’m driving in the opposite direction with a median separating us and everyone going my way slowed down.  Not me.  That’s stupid.  First of all, the cop is on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HIGHWAY and secondly – HE’S BUSY.

Now I know my friend Shelly said her bro once passed a cop who had someone pulled over and said cop took the registration and ID of the guy he had pulled over and chased her brother down to give him a ticket.  Total douche move.  If I was the one pulled over and my personal info was taken on a high-speed chase, all hell would break loose.

My point is that this cop today was on the other side of the highway with a median between us.  Everyone slammed on their breaks.  Not me!  Hells to the no!  I went all NASCAR on their asses and weaved my way through the traffic.  I’m so badass.

This reminded me of a story so very, very bad I just have to tell it.  In my defense, I attempted to be responsible.  It was NOT my fault.  Nope.

Okay, so this was right after 9/11.  I worked for an airline in Syracuse, NY.  During those first few post 9/11 months, the airport was loaded with employees, police and the National Guard.  We all became friends.  One National Guardsman let me borrow a CD called “Porno Sonic”.  I never gave it back.  It was narrated by Ron Jeremy and was all porno beats.  He should have known better.

We also all frequented the same bar after we got out of work.  I’d actually have pilots who would call in (the overnight crews) ask “Is this Julie?” and when I said of course (because why wouldn’t they recognize my voice over the FAA dispatch?), they’d always ask where I was taking them.  I always had the same answer.  I also made sure they had a cab.  That bar was basically a straight shot to my house.

So this one day, I’m hanging out at our bar and there’s this one cop who has the hots for me.  Big time.  He’d been after me for weeks and it was just never going to happen.  Nope.  Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t let him buy me drinks though.  After all, it’s rude to turn a drink down when it’s being offered.  It’s all about common courtesy.

I do like to drive responsibly and I keep my eye on the time and always switch to water by 12:00 (we never left there until around 3:00AM) and I was starting to feel a pretty solid buzz by then.  It was going to take a swift vomit followed by a McDonalds run to avoid THAT hangover.  I was about 22 so don’t judge.  Remember when YOU were 22?  Right? Right.

Well Mr. McCoppy Pants is INSISTING I keep drinking.  He’s INSISTING he will pay.  I flat out told him I’m going to get tanked and I will not party with a bunch of off-duty cops and then drive home.  My step-father was killed by a drunk driver and I’m sure we’ve all made our mistakes but that 2AM ride home is precious to me and I prefer to get home unscathed.

This is where it gets cool as hell horrible.  Mr. McCoppy Pants makes himself a phone call.  He and his officer buddies are all hanging out with me and my co-workers and friends (I knew the bar owner and all the employees – I need to look them up on Facebook, thanks for the reminder) when all of the sudden two police showed up at the bar. Their assignment?  ME.

It was about one o’clock in the morning.  I had at least an hour to kill and like I said, we usually sailed past two.  We were the elite – the airline employees after 9/11.  Their mission?  To guard me.   I now had no excuse to stop drinking.  I was told those exact words.  Save for the fact that alcohol poisoning was not in my future (but let’s face it, I’m Irish and Polish.  It takes A LOT to put me down.  Just sayin’), I got drunk.  Flat out drunk.

Don’t blame me.  I was young and the police TOLD me to.

I’m fairly sure Mr. McCoppy Pants was awful let down when I high-fived my way out of the bar with my two rookie cops.  On the way out, I asked them what the game plan was.  I figured one would drive me and the other one would follow so the driver could get a ride back to the other car.

NOPE.

I imagine had I thought of that, it would have happened but their idea?  Sandwich me.  I was like royalty.  With one car in front and one behind, they escorted me home with lights blaring above.  Frankly, I hated every second of it.  It was without a doubt one of the coolest stories I have to tell, but their lights made me dizzy and they wouldn’t stop off at McDonalds so I had to do the vomit followed by whatever leftovers I had in the fridge so I could fight the potential hangover headed my way.

The next morning I had to get a ride into work because I still had a buzz.  Yep.  I was a gate agent and I boarded the 6AM flight after about three hours of sleep DRUNK (I was 22).  I remember slamming water and it just amped up the buzz.  My co-worker Lisa said to me “NO! No, Julie!  You can’t DRINK WATER after a night like that!  It’ll just stir up all the shit and bring the drunk back!  If you’re thirsty, just get a glass of ice water and stick your tongue in it.”

So that’s what I did.

After lapping up ice water like a drunk puppy who just had a Presidential police escort home from the bar, I successfully boarded 48 people on a regional jet to Newark.

I am shamefully (because I’m assuming you think I should be) AWESOME.

Why I Go Out Every Night

So I’m fairly sure I have people in my family or friends on Facebook who have noticed that I have a pretty extensive social life, I think it’s time to tell you why.

My whole life I’ve thrived when I was around people. I love to talk, I love to listen, I LOVE to sing. Most of you know my hubs and I were briefly separated in part due to my social life but at the time I was drinking heavily, that’s pretty well known. After we got back together I stopped going out completely. That was all well and good because the kids were still fairly young so I could focus all of my attention on them.

As the years went by I started having massive agoraphobia and anxiety issues. I couldn’t go to the store, I couldn’t go to my neighbors parties, I just couldn’t function in society. I was on SO MANY PILLS and I lost all of my confidence and creativity, I even stopped blogging.

After my dog passed it got worse, I was officially alone in the house. Everyone was at work or school all day and while I am one to sleep late I wasn’t sleeping so late that I wasn’t alone the bulk of my day. There were times I was overwhelmed with loneliness and sadness, my only friends were those I had never met on Facebook who I adore and am still friends with to this day.

About a year after Tribute died I asked if we could get another dog. I was so lonely I said, and Ryan was so amazing and we got Lex the next day. That was great for me. I put ALL of my time into raising and training him and I started going to the local dog park. I was feeling better.

I continued going to the dog park for a while but even then I got anxiety. He has a lot of energy and when fights broke out he was like “YAYYYY I WANNA FIGHT TOOOO!!!” and I would stress out. I started taking him on the off-hours when nobody was there. Once again, I was getting back into my antisocial ways.

Then one day last March I wrote a very long post in my local Fort Mill moms Facebook page about how sad I was, how lonely. How I don’t remember what a tribe feels like and I am so scared and awkward would someone please help me?

I got about one hundred replies. I was so overwhelmed. I started scheduling lunch dates with some amazing women (I love you Stephanie!) and met about seven women. I also was bold enough to ask if anyone wanted to try the local karaoke we had on Wednesday nights at Blue Olive, THAT is where my life began.

Singing is everything to me. The first time I went I met a wonderful lady and we listened and talked but I didn’t sing. I went back two weeks later and met my now sister, Dee. Holy moly did we click. The karaoke host, Nick, welcomed us in and made us comfortable and I was talked into singing a song, it was a disaster. Won’t go into that.

So after that Dee and I decided we would go every Wednesday. My confidence grew, we started meeting people, we started making friends. Life was great.

Fast forward again a few months and Blue closes with the promise it will open again soon (still waiting Sal, get a move on.) I felt lost without a home base. Nick the karaoke host said he bartends on Monday’s at the pizza place we go to in Rock Hill, Empire Pizza. So to Empire I went.

Here is where it morphed into nightly. I snore. Loudly. It was summer time and there weren’t any house rules, kids can do as they please with sleep and play, we never saw them. Ryan mentioned how he wasn’t sleeping well because my snoring like a freight train was waking him up. My suggestion was that I stay up until 5:00 when he wakes up, then I will go to sleep. I already went to bed at 2:00, I prefer staying up at night and sleeping all day so lets give that a shot. The stipulation was I had to go hang out on the picnic tables at Empire drinking my Diet Coke until the bar closed because sitting alone on my couch from 9:00-5:00 while Ryan slept and the kids gamed was just as emotionally damaging as it was in years past, I had to surround myself with people and I HAD to have that experience to be able to get myself to stay up that late or I would be so bored I would take my pills early just so the night would end.

It’s a situation that works for the family. The kids don’t want to hang with their parents, they want to mess around with their friends, my husband wants to sleep. I sleep from 6:00-3:00 and we do homeschooling when I wake up. The kids are getting straight A’s, my husband is sleeping through the night, and I am SO FREAKING HAPPY. I have friends, good friends. I am a regular, I have confidence, I sing boldly and without abandon. In the months since I started going I’ve also started hanging out at my brother Dex’s house from 2:00-4:00. That just helps me all the more. I listen to music (you guys, I like country now), I watch LetterKenny, I listen to the different animals in the woods behind the porch we sit on.

I’m happy, my kids are happy, my friends are happy, and my husband is happy. It took getting used to for all of us I think but I am with people we all trust to keep me safe, I don’t get hit on or harrassed, I only drink water or Diet Coke, and I have good, wholesome fun.

So for all of you curious lurkers on Facebook seeing pictures of my social life thinking “She’s abandoned her family and is hanging out with girls and a guy!” *GASP!* Just know I am with people who are now a part of my family. I don’t just see these people at the bar, Dex in particular. He came over for Christmas with his mom, he took my kids fishing for the first time, and he is about to take the whole family to the shooting range for our birthday so we can see what it’s like to shoot a shotgun because he is taking Jake turkey hunting for his fifteenth birthday. He is my brother, regardless of DNA. He is the uncle to my kids. He loves Ryan. EVERYTHING AT HOME IS WONDERFUL.

So there you have it. I left out a lot of details believe it or not, I know this was a long post. I felt like it was long overdue. Since I have started this new lilfestyle I am off antidepressants, take half the bipolar meds, take one Xanax where I used to take four, and barely need sleeping pills. I’m happy, I’m healthy, and I’m fulfilled. I also have my creativity back which is why I have started blogging again. I thank all of you for reading and I thank you all for your continue support.

#EndRant

The Time We Stole The Coats From The Car

SO.  This one time, when I was roughly eighteen I went out with my two brothers, my then boyfriend, and my dad to an eighteen and over club to hang out.  Of course it was winter, since it’s winter nine out of twelve months in Syracuse, NY we all had our coats on. Walking into the club we took them off to show off how awesome we all looked (we’re a great looking group of people – I have good genes) and we put our coats in a pile at a table.

I must say I had reservations about doing that but I was assured I had nothing to worry about so on we went to drink (I looked 21) and dance and have a grand old time on our Saturday night ritual.

Roughly two hours later we went back to the coats, I think my boyfriend wanted a smoke, only to find them gone.  In a panic we all spread out to go look for them. Someone asked the door guy if he had seen them and he said he hadn’t.  We then decided to take the search outside. Well that didn’t take long! The very first car we saw, parked RIGHT OUTSIDE THE MAIN DOOR was full of coats!

We talked about ways to get in there, smash the windows?  Jimmy the locks? Then my brother discovered something – the doors were unlocked.  The thieves must have been working quickly and didn’t want to have to worry about unlocking the car every time they jacked a coat.  After popping the trunk we found all of our coats sitting right on top and helped ourselves to them. We were young and dumb and pissed so we also helped ourselves to a few others (I got a great leather jacket out of the deal).

I thought we were done at that point and were going to get in the getaway car my dad had ready for us all warmed up and ready to go but no, my brothers had a totally different idea.  Again, they were punks and we were young. One brother brought a knife out and slashed the tires and the other kicked the windows in. I must say that was pretty badass, he jumped off the ground and his feet went through the windows and he didn’t land on his ass.  He was a total ninja.

NOW we jumped in the getaway car and sped off.  I can’t remember for sure but I think one of my brothers told the bouncer someone had vandalized a car on our way out.  Ballsy. From what I understand, the bouncer was actually in on it so it was good that my brothers run fast or this story might be way longer.

Now comes the part that cracks me up.  We were all pumped. Adrenaline flowing through us because we basically committed a crime (Statue of limitations has passed, I can totally tell this story lol) and we headed to a nearby gas station to buy some beers.

My father is a pretty straight edge guy.  Been my role model since birth, I’ve never seen him do a thing wrong.  He didn’t touch that car he simply drove his punk kids away from it, happy to have his coat back.  That made what he did once we got to the gas station that much better – he jumped in a parked car next to us in the parking lot and stole their car lighter from their car because his was missing.  I don’t think there will ever come a time when I won’t find that absolutely hilarious.

So there you have it!  The time we stole the coats – our own coats.  Needless to say we never went back to that club again, we found a new one to frequent and we learned to keep our coats locked up in our cars and just dealt with freezing from the walk to the car to the club.  Ahh…my childhood. Thank God for therapy!

That Time I Met the Guy From Train

Okay, so you all know I lost a little over one hundred pounds using the Wii Fit.  If you don’t, there’s a link at the top of this page that will direct you to it. Well back when the story launched, I became VERY popular.  At that point it had only been sixty pounds but the Wii Fit was new so this was a huge story. I was interviewed by both local and national news channels and was featured in TV segments, radio interviews and had a ton of print press on how I did it and all that good stuff.

So one day I was asked to join our local Fox News morning show for some weird cooking segment that had absolutely nothing to do with the Wii Fit (I still talked about it but cooking?  Weird.) and being me I naturally said “Umm…Yes.” and a week later at six AM I was shuffled into the Fox headquarters to be prepped for my interview.

This is where it gets awesome.  Being completely vain and arrogant as I usually strive to be, I assumed I was the star of the show.  There I was sitting in the green room with this dude who I thought looked like a janitor who I assumed was put there to entertain me while I waited to be introduced.

Janitor guy and I chatted it up a bit and I thought he was super nice and when I was called on set he was still sitting on the couch so I thanked him for keeping me company and proceeded to go ahead with my interview.  Seconds after it was finished I was pushed in the back hurriedly and told I needed to get off set and out of the building as quickly as possible. I saw a crowd of people around the janitor hustling him on set and I jumped up and down asking why everyone was so interested in the janitor. I said it just like that.  The janitor.

I have never had anyone look at me the way the guy in front of me did.  I was clearly the dumbest person he had ever met. Pointing at the janitor sitting on the stage holding a children’s book was Pat Monahan, the lead singer from Train.  Pat was my janitor. I was SO PISSED. If I knew he was the singer of “Soul Sister” I would have been humping his leg or at least asking for a picture because I love the shit out of that song and have even sung it at karaoke a few times.  I can’t help jumping up and down squealing like a teenager every time I hear it.

So off I went, head hanging low because I was not in fact the star of the show and feeling like a total idiot for assuming the lead singer of train was a janitor sent to amuse me.

At least he succeeded!

Family Doesn’t Have To Be Blood

Me with Ryan, Dex, and Dee

“Family isn’t an f word” – Deadpool

What does family mean to you? Your children, parents, spouse – but what about the friends you make who aren’t your blood but have become such an integral part of your life you have adopted them as your own?

Living here in South Carolina my husband and I don’t have any family here. All of mine are in Syracuse, Ryan’s are all over the place. I’ve felt for years like something was lacking. My kids don’t have cousins, they don’t have aunts and uncles readily available like I did when I was growing up and that hurts my heart.

Ryan and me on NYE

For years I was very sheltered and afraid to leave the house until one day last year when I realized being a hermit was so unhealthy I NEEDED to get social. I posted in my Fort Mill mom group asking if anyone would go to karaoke with me and that’s how I met the woman I now call my sister, Dee. She is an inspiration to me and if you’re interested in health and fitness check out her YouTube channel or Instagram page. She swears one day she will teach me how to twerk. Best of luck doing that sis. She supports me and empowers me and every time I get to spend time with her we always have a blast. We are the perfect Oreo cookie, expect stories from us and our karaoke nights out and fitness stories will follow. I’ll likely have her guest post and will include her in on my fitness stuff.

Me and my sis at the Empire Christmas party with Nick, I credit him for bringing all of us together. If it wasn’t for his karaoke I wouldn’t have any of my family!

When our karaoke bar shut down I needed a new spot so I started hanging out at Empire Pizza in Rock Hill. I’ll likely be telling stories of my nights there because fun stuff happens nightly. Because of Empire my family has expanded greatly. I have so many close friends who I hang out with as I drink water and sit on a picnic table listening to music and being generally dumb.

One person who came into my life at Empire is my brother Dex. He has become a very protective big brother which my husband loves. He says if I am going to be out while he is asleep he takes comfort in knowing nobody will dare hit on me or mess with me because my brother will make sure nobody comes near me. I swear Dex has a five second hug rule before he says “That’s enough, give her space.” You’re going to hear A LOT about him because I spend the most time with him as we are both night owls who love having music trivia nights. He is as close to blood one can get without sharing DNA.

Me and my brother on NYE

I have other people in my life I consider family now too. There’s Mama Peg, Nick, Chris, Crystal, Tuck, and Tatiana and countless others. I have formed a tribe so large and empowering that I finally after all these years here in South Carolina I feel like it’s REALLY home, you know? Dex and Mama Peg spent Christmas with us and we all had the best time. Ryan and I rang in the New Year with Tatiana by our side (She also helped us decorate our Christmas tree this year!)

Us with Dex and Mama Peg and Dex this Christmas

We’re a ragtag little group down here but what we all have is each other. My kids now have a feeling of family they haven’t had since their grandparents moved and I have a sense of security now that’s pure and wholesome and good. What does family mean to you? Is it blood or is it bonds you form with those you meet? Let me know in the comments! I love learning about you! Hopefully you’ll enjoy all of the stories I will be sharing about my family here. They have my heart.

Me with Tatiana on NYE