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amalah
Washington, DC
Recent Activity
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This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. The first 50 readers to sign up with Blue Apron with this link will get $50 off their first two weeks! I came home from the hospital late Friday afternoon, just in time to meet the boys at the bus stop. I showered, changed my clothes, and unpacked the plastic hospital bag of pajamas and books and other ward-approved belongings. A few hours later, I made dinner. Chicken and poblano tostadas with roasted zucchini, to be exact. It was the easiest way to feel normal again. I've since learned not to rush back into "normal" too quickly -- the next day I attempted to take all the kids to all the lessons and then run all the errands by myself and nearly broke down in overwhelmed, anxious tears the YMCA parking lot -- but to focus on the little things. Like scrambling eggs, packing up backpacks for camp, folding laundry, making dinner. (Opting for comfort food much? Oh, you know it.) Dinner I can do. Dinner I can handle. Dinner has to happen one way or another, and I feel better and stronger for making an effort to spend 30-40 minutes on it... Continue reading
Posted 15 hours ago at amalah . com
At first glance, the psychiatric ward looked like any other hospital floor, just kind of crappier. The furniture was older and most of it was mismatched. My roommate had a side table with drawers while I only had one of those wheelie tray things they serve your meals on. On the other hand, I had a hospital bed that adjusted automatically with buttons, while hers was so old it adjusted with a weird sort of hand crank. The ward was too nondescript and bland to feel haunted, but ghosts were everywhere. The wall above my bed was covered with bits of Scotch tape and vague, faded squares of whatever had once been displayed there. Photos? Artwork? A manifesto of some kind? Another wall was covered with doodles of interlocking triangles and arrows pointing at the centers. By the sink, the outline of where a towel rack used to be. On the ceiling, the empty track where a privacy curtain once divided the room. The closets had both empty brackets for clothing rods and gouged-out hinges for doors. There wasn't even a toilet paper holder in the bathroom; just a weird metal cubby for the roll to sit in. All the... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at amalah . com
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We spent the 4th of July in Baltimore, then went up to Hershey, PA for the rest of week. The boys only had two requests for summer vacation: Fireworks and Hersheypark. We were happy to oblige. (And yes, of course Noah brought the Declaration of Independence to its birthday party. And Sonic the Hedgehog, because why not?) (My phone died barely an hour into our day at the park, so this is the only documentation of my physical presence.) It's now been a full month since it happened, the event, the attempt, the night it all nearly stopped but didn't. Sometimes it still feels very near and very close, while other times I look up at the sky and see fireworks, or the world whizzing past on a rollercoaster, and it fades far, far away. To a different time and place I have no interest in ever revisiting. Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at amalah . com
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Every night, Jason would call me on the ward and put his phone on speaker so I could listen in on the familiar, boisterous chaos. He'd put the groceries away while the boys squealed and shrieked over all the new cereals and bickered over which box to open first. They'd all try to talk to me at once and the dogs would start barking and someone would say "whoops" and Jason would say "get a paper towel" and I'd sit there on the other end of the line with a big grin on my face and tears in my eyes because I missed it all so much. And then the ping of guilt, because I missed so much of it all. So many morning when I couldn't get out of bed to pour the cereal or scramble the eggs or kiss them goodbye before school. So many evenings when I was irritable and impatient and snappish, when whatever mess required the paper towel would be like, the last fucking straw. I'm done. I'm out. I can't deal with any of you right now. (And then the vicious, downward spiral of guilt, because I'm a terrible mother/wife/friend and I'm failing and... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2018 at amalah . com
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This post is sponsored by thredUP. Raise your hand if you do any of the following things while shopping online: Go on a wild Add To Cart spree only to end up with a mortgage payment's worth of items at checkout, where you get overwhelmed by the decision-making process and ultimately abandon everything. Spend a inordinately long time debating the multiple color/size options on a single item (do I dare buy something other than black? what the hell is a S/M vs. a M/L? if the model is 5'11" and somehow wearing an XXS, what time does the second train arrive in Cleveland?) before getting overwhelmed by the decision-making process and ultimately abandon everything. Scream at your screen that you JUST WANT PANTS THAT FIT AND MAYBE A NICE TOP AND PLEASE STOP TRYING TO MAKE $150 BIKINI BOTTOMS A RELATED ITEM OKAY before giving up and going back to Amazon to look at costumes for your cats instead. Ahem. Yeah, my issues with clothes shopping run pretty deep. It's why I own so many yoga pants that I dislike almost as much as actual yoga. So I very much dig thredUP's latest product offering: curated Goody Boxes that outsource... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2018 at amalah . com
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Let's take a break from the flashback-type posts and talk about today. Specifically, how I am feeling today. I feel really, really good today. I felt really, really good yesterday. And the day before that. I came home from the hospital with several follow-up appointments already made for therapy and my psychiatrist, and a lot of medication. (Well, a lot of prescriptions for medication, technically. Which Jason dropped off at Target on our way back, while I sort of shuffled behind him in the flip-flops I'd been given at check-out [I'd shown up at the ER barefoot], blinking and marveling at all the colors and sane-looking people.) I've dropped all but two of the medications from the daily regimen (because sleep is nice but so is being awake enough to like, function a level or two above comatose) and Jason keeps anything and everything with overdose potential hidden away in an undisclosed location. (He did the same thing with the benzos at first but eventually we stopped that because I never really took them and also I was feeling fine! Totally fine! Nothing to worry about here, folks.) (Back on the ward, we collectively declared "FINE" to be an unacceptable... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2018 at amalah . com
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The game truck was there. Ezra's handmade GAME ON IKE! banner was there. His cake was there. (And it was delicious. A million billion thank yous to Isabel for making it happen.) His big brothers were there. All his friends and grandparents were there. His mom was there. And it was perfect. Continue reading
Posted Jun 25, 2018 at amalah . com
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Every morning, we were asked to set a goal for the day. These goals were written next to ours names on a whiteboard, along with our mood rating, which we ranked from one to 10. There really weren't that many goals to choose from -- attend groups, get your meds adjusted, work an AA step, and....uh...take a shower? Walk some hallway laps? Re-read the July 2016 issue of Glamour for the seventh time? -- and since this was a short-term facility, eventually everybody set the goal of discharge planning. For some patients, that meant dozens of calls to dozens of 30-day rehab centers in search of a bed. For others, a spot in an intensive outpatient program. Or a series of fraught counseling sessions with desperate and/or estranged family members, since you either went home with them or to a homeless shelter. Or not at all, for a few patients who set their goal to "discharge planning" every single day but were obviously not going anywhere. Then there was me. I just wanted to get discharged in time for Ike's birthday party on Sunday. I'd promised him a Sonic the Hedgehog cake. I needed to be there. I needed to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2018 at amalah . com
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Warning: This post is graphic. Help is available for free by phone or text if you or a loved one are contemplating self-harm. I was likely never in danger of dying from the overdose itself. I was more likely to die choking on my own vomit while unconscious on the bathroom floor. Not exactly a glamorous exit off this mortal coil. They send you down to inpatient wearing nothing but oversized paper scrubs and a pair of grippy socks. I wasn't allowed to wear a bra. You can wear approved, non-drawstring clothing after your first psychiatrist consult, which usually takes about 24 hours. A few people didn't have anyone to bring them clothes and spent their entire week in those paper scrubs, which eventually shred and rip and disintegrate. We raided the ward's lost-and-found and found some community t-shirts, which could get passed along to the next paper-scrubbed newbie. Three female patients ended up wearing the same shirt with a vaguely sexist slogan on it, which they shrugged off because at least it wasn't chafing their boobs. You learn fairly quickly to always change your clothes in your bathroom, since your room doesn't lock. Your bathroom doesn't actually lock either,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2018 at amalah . com
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Warning: Graphic suicide talk ahead. Help is available for free by phone or text if you or a loved one are contemplating self-harm. I remember looking at the empty pill bottles on the bathroom floor. First from overhead, then at eye level. The labels blur and I close my eyes. I remember feeling cool tile on my face and relief in my veins. Done. It's done. I don't have to think about doing it anymore, because it's done. I don't remember how I got downstairs to the basement, or how long it took. Did I walk? Stumble? Crawl? Did I stop to contemplate my children's bedroom doors on the way? I don't know. Part of me wanted to get up off that floor, and it did, somehow. I remember Jason roughly dragging me towards the bathroom and his fingers in my throat. The part of me that wanted to stay on the bathroom floor wails and howls and begs him to stop. After that, there's nothing. A dream about a dark, underground bar. There's an old jukebox in the corner. I am dancing and laughing and spill a drink on Michael Keaton, who is also there for some reason. Then,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2018 at amalah . com
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Wow. Wow. WOW. For once, I am truly out of words. Which, as you can see from all the stereotypical-crazy-person scribbling I did in the psych ward last week, literally never happens. (I wrote everything using the same kind of tiny eraser-less pencils you get at IKEA. I find that beautifully poetic, in a way.) I am out of words because you, the Internets, the peoples, the friends in both real and online life, said so many words. Kind, loving, caring and kick-ass words. Which I was not expecting. I don't know what I was expecting. (WHO READS BLOBS ANYMORE, RIGHT?) I suppose more warped depression-think led me to believe that I would hit the publish button and get either 1) crickets, 2) a couple head-pats from one or two people, or 3) a bunch of comments accusing me of Being Dramatic or Attention Seeking or Dooce Did It First or something. (Fun fact! A few weeks ago I talked myself out of calling the Suicide Prevention Hotline in the middle of the night because I worried I was just being super dramatic. Plus Jason had a really early work meeting the next morning and someone had to get to... Continue reading
Posted Jun 12, 2018 at amalah . com
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There's no nice or clever way to say any of this, so let's just get right down to it. On Saturday, June 2nd, 2018, I overdosed on a combination of Xanax, Ativan and alcohol. It was not an accident. You don't swallow a 90-day supply's worth of benzos by accident. You swallow them by handful after deliberate handful. It was far from the first time I contemplated doing just that, but it was the first time I decided to follow the dark thoughts down the rabbit hole. I don't actually remember any the following, but the facts appear to be: After passing out on the bathroom floor for awhile, I somehow managed to make it down several flights of stairs to Jason, who was watching TV in the basement. After unsuccessfully trying to make me throw up, he called 911. An ambulance took me to the ER, where I was intubated, restrained and deeply sedated. (I was also, according to my report, deeply "combative" and definitely nobody's favorite patient that night.) I spent most of Sunday in the ICU, drifting in and out of consciousness. Usually just long enough to claw at the painful tube in my throat and then... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2018 at amalah . com
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Today our littlest biggest ham is 7 years old. He's grown and changed so much, and yet... He's still SUCH a Baby Ike. He still likes that nickname, by the way, and has made me promise multiple times to never stop using it. Once in awhile, anyway. Maybe when it's just us. Just as a reminder that no matter how big he gets, he'll always be my baby. At 7, he's bubbly and social and everyone is his friend. He'll flit from house to house in the neighborhood in search of playmates, until our entire cul de sac is filled with kids riding bikes, scooters and skates. Half of whom I've never even seen before. An epic game of hide-and-seek breaks out. The big kids play basketball until Ike talks them into joining the game, while he also hauls out bubbles and chalk for the little kids and the babies, who are not-so-secretly his favorite. He still stops by his old kindergarten classroom every morning before school starts to give his teacher a hug. Every. Dang. Morning. I asked him how he's going to find the time to hug her AND his first grade teacher next year, and he said... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2018 at amalah . com
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We spent Sunday afternoon in Baltimore at the annual Brew at the Zoo event, where the biggest challenge we faced was that Jason packed up our cooler full of fancy cheeses and crackers but no knives. After a futile search among the food vendors for a plastic knife, Jason said he had a plan and asked if I was willing to eat a corn dog. WHAT KIND OF QUESTION EVEN IS THAT, I ASK YOU. I quickly purchased and consumed a corn dog and BAM. We had a handy-dandy spreading stick for our fancy cheese. (Twenty years in August, folks!) There was rain in the forecast so I figured we'd have to bail on the early side, while Jason stubbornly refused to acknowledge the slowly swirling dark clouds overhead. "I think they're moving away from us," he insisted, as the wind picked up and blew away our crackers. "I think it's going to miss us," he said, as it started to rain. "No, really, I bet this will pass in a minute," he predicted, as we huddled under a small tent with 400 other people who all called for an Uber at the exact same moment, and I watched my... Continue reading
Posted May 29, 2018 at amalah . com
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One the Greater Ironies of my Internet career (or perhaps my Biggest Bullshit) is that I am routinely asked for advice on picky eaters. And I give it to people! When in reality, my track record for non-picky-eater creation is more like one out of three. I mean, Noah will absolutely eat what you put in front of him (thanks to this book, and a lot of occupational therapy), but I guaran-goddamn-tee you that when he grows up and moves out he will exist exclusively on boxed mac-and-cheese and dry cereal. And he will love it. His harrowing post-mommyblog memoir will be titled This Post Is Brought To You By Kale Salad, or How #BlueApron Ruined My Childhood. And Ezra, honestly, was just born a good and adventurous eater. Anything that I might have "done" early on that "helped" and could have possibly gotten up on a high horse about (blah blah homemade baby food blah blah restaurants blah blah exposure) was proven to be a load of shit by Ike. Who got all the same food and exposure and hardcore division-of-responsibility stuff as his older brothers, and who has spent almost seven years' worth of dinners sliding out of... Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2018 at amalah . com
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HOW MY DOGS SEE ME: Wonderful hooman! HI HELLO WOW UR PRESENCE IS AMAZE Beautiful face so haps so haps So good So kind Bet if I just knock glowing rectangle thing out of hand she'll be haps Look now ur hands are free for pets! Am hero! Oh no mad voice oh god oh no I so sry YAY PETS RUBS SNUGS Sometimes bed snuggles :) Sometimes no bed snuggles :( Confusing rules sometimes but ok Eats awful lot of cheese but shares sometimes so ok So much delicious wow how you do that Walk into room wow how you do that HOW MY CATS SEE ME Tyrannical withholder of food Cruel conjurer of inside rain water when we jus lookin for food up where you make food it's not a crime lady Dumb baby voice Food is right there won't give us food Just gave us food now won't give us more food Squishy belly is ok tho Nicer bed than our bed HEY IT'S THREE A.M. TIME FOR FOOD Maybe sort of deaf maybe just ask for food louder please to tidy our poop area peasant just poop outside the box it's okay that's how they learn... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2018 at amalah . com
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On our way out to brunch on Mother's Day, Jason backed his car (yes, the new one) out of the garage without realizing the kids hadn't shut the one of the back doors yet. Whoops. It bent the top of the door frame and messed up the window seal.* That amazing start to the day was followed by said brunch at a fancy French restaurant, where the waiter approached our table right as I hissed at Ike to stop chewing the tablecloth. "Happy Mother's Day!," he said, giving me a knowing look. "Can I get you a DRINK?" (Ike later went on to cry at the table because Jason gave Ezra half of the bread he'd just said he didn't want. When offered the other half, he said he still didn't want it, he just didn't want Ezra to have it even more.) (On our way out of the restaurant, Ike passed a bread basket on the waiters' station and was like, "OH WOW FREE BREAD" and helped himself to a few more slices.) (We tipped very well. Ike eventually settled down and enjoyed his French toast and some chilled peach soup. Ezra and Noah were angels because birth order... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2018 at amalah . com
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It's been a long week. Yesterday I took 40 photos of my cats having a turf war over a cardboard box, but none of them turned out as amusing as watching the actual thing unfold, which was still, like, only barely. But I have determined for certain that Rey is incapable of meowing like a normal, non-dented cat. She follows me around meep-morping like a very high-pitched robot who has a lot of questions about the nature of her existence. "Blorrrrp? Mrrrreee? Yeeeep?" I am in a box. Take me to your leader. She shrieks every time she gets picked up, even when she's come over and given you every indication that yes, she would like to be picked up. "Purrrrrr? Pllllluuuuurrrr?" she hums as she rubs against your legs, but the second her paws leave the ground she lets out a surprised and slightly-panicked sounding squawk. "BRRRRRMMEEEEEEEEEPP!!!!!" Nice upper thigh reflection, self. Sounds that startle all the other pets and send them scattering -- the vacuum, the coffee grinder, etc. -- elicit almost no reaction from her. (She definitely hears them, but simply turns her head curiously in their direction, like ah, yes, another transmission from my home planet.)... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2018 at amalah . com
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A few months ago, Ezra asked if he could dye his hair a fun color. I said sure! Why not! I am 100% on Team Your Appearance Is Your Call So Go On And Express Your Quirky Little Heart Out. (Yeah, I know, our team really needs to work on that name.) Just tell me what color you want and I'll pick up some Manic Panic or whatever. Red, he said. I warned him red would fade to pink. I don't care, he said, but then he got teased by another boy for wearing a pink t-shirt on Pink T-Shirt Day, like way to miss the entire point, you gender stereotyping jackass. So after that he wasn't so sure. He has a guitar recital coming up, and another Picture Day was today, so he decided it was time. He chose a bright turquoise, which I purchased without reading any of the fine print and missed that it promised zero results on hair as dark as Ezra's without bleaching it first. Which, no, not doing that, so I didn't have very high expectations that the color show up at all. I tested a little faux-hawk section first, but Ezra was adamant... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2018 at amalah . com
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(YES INDEED. WE'RE BACK AT IT AGAIN WITH THIS SHIT.) About a week ago, Poppy kept mysteriously vanishing from the backyard, then reappearing in the front, running around in a frothy panic of WHAT DO I DO WHAT DO I DOOOOOO. Unlike Beau, she's never been much of a runner or escape artist, and for the life of us we could not figure out what was happening. The gates were closed and locked on both sides. Jason went around with nails and a hammer in search of any loose posts and I filled in a couple suspicious spots where it looked like she might be digging out underneath. And then yet again, I'd look out the front window and there was Poppy, looking just as confused as I did, like, AGAIN? HOW? WHY? (Or, if she spotted any of our human neighbors, she was invariably right at their feet and offering up her belly for rubs. I'd run over and apologize and explain the current escapee mystery, and then they'd sheepishly assure me that it was okay, they were totally going to bring her back but just wanted to pet her for a little bit first. Everybody really likes Poppy.)... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2018 at amalah . com
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Our official plan was to wait at least until summer before replacing Jason's car. One car really works fine for us, at least when the kids are in school. (Summer camps are a different story, since everybody scatters to different half-day/full-day programs every week.) Jason can usually work from home any day I need the car for meetings or appointments, plus there are plenty of Lyft/Uber drivers around here, and we're honestly walking distance to a lot of things that we don't walk to simply because there's always at least one car in the driveway. Plus, how often do I ever have to go anywhere in person, besides once in a blue moon? Honestly, I'm not that important. The other day I realized we were out of bread, and instead of asking Jason to pick up bread on his way home, I just...walked to the damn store and bought the damn bread. In the wilds of suburbia! Like a crazy person! And I learned the secret to not going insane at Target with the impulse shopping: Remember that everything you buy, you have to carry home. Suddenly that decorative ceramic sheep and three-pound bag of clementines aren't quite so tempting.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2018 at amalah . com
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Last night was Ezra's second violin "concert," an elaborate affair that required fancy new dress clothing and shoes, a super-rushed meal at McDonald's in order to make the required 30-minutes-before-show-time arrival, then waiting around doing nothing for at least 45 minutes with his supportive but super-bored siblings. (The amount and sheer intensity of mobile-phone use going on in the background of this photo is impressive.) Finally, about one hundred or so third graders slowwwwwwwwly took to the stage and extended risers, each carrying a stringed instrument that none of them had never touched before last October, proceeded to play three five-minute "songs," and then slowwwwwwwwwwwly filed back out again. It was not quite the assault on my eardrums I'd been expecting, given how green these kids are (and judging from some truly, painfully screechy practice sessions at home). This was their first performance using the bows (last time they all just plucked at the strings and avoided that classic "dying cat stuck in a grand piano" sound), and while I don't know what "Farmer's Hoedown" is technically supposed to sound like, I am pretty sure I could identify their "Ode to Joy" even if it hadn't been printed in the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2018 at amalah . com
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DUMPLING UPDATE: Rey stole a dumpling! CAR UPDATE: The other driver has been found at fault for unsafe lane changing! Jason's car is toast, but they're giving us way more for it than we ever could've gotten in a trade in! We're even getting our deductible back! This is all very good news! Especially because he was putting off like $3,000 worth of repairs and had been ignoring the Check Engine light for months! Let this be a questionable lesson to us all! The bad news is that my husband now gets to shop for a new car and he is never more annoying to me than when he's shopping for a new car. It will take him months and he will test drive every car on earth. He will look at CarMax listing the way normal people look at Tinder. DUMPLING UPDATE II: Finn stole the dumpling! HAIRZ UPDATE: The only person in the world who is allowed to trim Ike's hair now is my hairstylist. Which sounds like it should be a pain, but she doesn't charge me much and swears Ike is always her best-behaved client of the day. Also, despite the holes in his pants knees... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2018 at amalah . com
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We spent all winter mapping out grand plans for our yard and gardens. We've now spent most of spring waiting for the weather to cooperate and let us actually plant some damn things. If it would just stop SNOWING, at least, or plummeting down to near-freezing temperatures every night. That would be a nice start. On Saturday we had a rare burst of summer-like warmth and sun, and so we opened all the windows, dug out evertbody's shorts and t-shirts, then joined approximately 56,231,000 other Vitamin-D starved people buying ALL THE GREEN AND FLOWERY THINGS at the local Home Depot. The Adventures of Zah In the Enchanted Forest Minivan The kids all whined horrifically the entire time about the heat and the sun and the sweat and the my baaaaack hurts my leggggggs hurt I am too pale and video-game soft for such torrrrrrture. So once we got home and got everything unloaded and watered and debated ideal shrubbery placement all that, it was on the late side so we planned to wake up early on Sunday and get planting. Of course, by the time we got up it was grey and nasty and cold all over again. And then... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2018 at amalah . com
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Hey, how was your week? Ours was POSITIVELY SMASHING. He's fine, Jason's fine, everybody is fine. His car... ...not so very much fine. Jason was driving home from work in a right-turn only lane when a car abruptly decided to pull out of the super-backed-up center lane without looking. Horn, brakes, screech, crash. His car suffered the most damage AND since no witness stuck around, he's automatically at fault for rear-ending the other driver. Which is fantastic! We're also assuming his car is a complete loss (we got it used and it's just not worth that much anymore), which is awesome because it was completely paid off and who doesn't miss car payments? WHO, I ASK YOU? RIP sexy Date Night Car. It's gonna be all beat-up minivan hotness around here for awhile. Continue reading
Posted Apr 13, 2018 at amalah . com
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