the Habitation Game – Book Synopsis

Were you hoping to read something from me today? Well, I really hoped you were because I realized I haven’t released my book synopsis to everyone yet! What better way to do that, than right here on the blog?! I hope you enjoy it and are ready to read this bad boy soon! 

Xo, Jaime                                                                                                                                                         

the Habitation Game by J Parker Sticklethe Habitation Game – Book Synopsis

Emily sits, staring at the clock on her computer screen, counting down the minutes until she can leave for the day while musing on how she ended up working for Corporate America. Little did she realize the worst part of her day was yet to come when happy hour obligations put her front and center with the woman who would put the word dead, into Emily’s dead-end job.

As Emily recounts 30-years of roommate relationships, some worse than others – like the time she lived with a nudist, whom she suspects was also a Nazi; to the times she unwittingly allowed an alcoholic, a drug dealer, and a couple of mobsters’ kids to live with her. Nothing could have prepared her, though, for Adeline.

Not only did Adeline manipulate Emily into living with her, but she also moved in with a secret boyfriend and an oppressive personality disorder. The worst part – Emily and Adeline work only three desks away from each other.

As anxiety begins to knot and twist around Emily’s stomach, the fear that she’s made a grave mistake by moving in with Adeline is validated when Adeline’s mood swings start to manifest themselves and secrets of her own past roommates are revealed. At least that’s how Emily sees it when Adeline starts to communicate with Emily using a butcher’s knife instead of a Post-it note.

As Adeline continues to mind-fuck Emily, she is unaware that she is playing with fire. After years of living with crazy people, and months of putting up with Adeline, Emily may have the motive to strike back.

Book coming! 2018! Woohoo! Make sure to follow me here or on Instagram for updates!

Sweet Pie and French Fries

He picked me up an hour later in his first generation Toyota Prius. I’d never seen the first generation of Prius.

On our second date my husband and I went on a six-hour road trip together. I knew very little about him, except that he was dreamy, funny, and that I was infatuated with him. Oh, and that he had to drive six-hours to San Francisco to meet up with a group of friends to go camping at a Phish show – which, at the time, I didn’t understand what that meant. Phish? Who? Camping? What? Jam-band something or other.

After a successful first date of bowling and then late-night fresh, very sweet, blueberry pie with a slightly burnt buttery crust and a giant plate of salty hot french fries (since sweet and salty ARE the best combo) from the all-night diner, I knew I wanted to see him again and again and again. He really sealed the deal when he kissed me goodnight, confidently, on the cheek.

When he called me the next morning, early, on a Saturday and requested a second date immediately I felt giddy and eager. When he said he wanted me to drive with him to San Francisco, stay the night and then he’d fly me home the next night, I said “no, I’m not going to sleep with you, I barely know you.”

He laughed. “I don’t want to sleep with you either. Well, I mean not on this date. We’ll be staying with a bunch of people, sleeping on the floor, but I promise you a great time.” He was just so damn charming.

He gave me 30-minutes to accept his invitation, so I took his social security number, mother’s maiden name, driver’s license information, and more. I called three friends and gave them the list of information. I did a quick criminal record check and stalked his social media for any red flags. At the 29-minute mark I called him back and said, “Okay! But remember, I’m not having sex with you.”

He picked me up an hour later in his first generation Toyota Prius. I’d never seen the first generation of Prius. On our first date we had met at the Bowling Alley, because I’ve learned from past dating experiences that giving a first date your address can be an annoying, regretful, and sometimes frightening experience, and I had driven us to the diner and back. His Prius made me giggle. It was tiny, and round like the cars the clowns drive in the circus. And he’s six feet tall, broad shouldered with big hair, and a bigger personality. To be honest, that car matched him perfectly.

We commenced with the flirtatious small talk:

You look great!

I had a lot of fun last night.

You were hilarious.

What do you mean, ‘you won bowling?’ I clearly won.

You get the idea. Then we were both silent, for a really long time, and it was awkward. We were driving on the I-5 North and the landscape was dry and barren in the August heat. Brown hillsides, power lines, and debris crowded the horizon. street-238458_640 There was a heavy, thick dust that skewed my peripheral vision, forcing me to constantly turn my head to the right, like I had a tick or was trying to avoid looking at my co-pilot.

When it didn’t seem there could be another second of the silence, which had stretched nearly ten-minutes now, he stole a glance in my direction, and with profound gravity said, “I like you.”

“I like you too,” I grinned from ear to ear.

“Before we can go any further with this, I have to tell you some things. I want to start this relationship off without any lies,” he continued seriously.

My mind raced. I started to think worst-case scenarios: Is he kidnapping me? Is he already dating someone – am I the other woman? Is he going to kill me? Did he just break-up with someone? Is he going to leave me stranded in San Fran? Was he going to try and sleep with me? Where was my Woman’s Intuition? Why wasn’t my gut talking to me?

“My dad died six-weeks ago,” he said. And before I could recover from this news and my thoughts that followed, he continued, “and I’m divorced. I was married to my college girlfriend. I haven’t dated anyone seriously since then. I used to be a pathological liar. I told my mom for a long time I was gay. And I’m leaving on a cruise ship for a five-month contract in six-weeks.”

It was so much information. I wasn’t sure what he wanted me to do with all of it. It was our second date. Where do I start?

“You were married? But you’re so young!”

“Yeah, we made a youthful mistake.”

“I’m so sorry about your dad, are you okay?”

“Not really. But yeah.”

“So you leave in six-weeks, huh?”

“Yup. For five months.”

“Hey, there’s a sign for a rest stop, are you hungry?” I was out of questions at the moment and needed an excuse not to talk – food.

So we got off. We were about an hour outside of Los Angeles. I contemplated going home. We ordered some Wendy’s fries and a Frosty each and we sat, staring at each other in silence until we both started laughing. We couldn’t stop laughing.

“Why did you tell me all that stuff like that?”

“Because I want to be nothing but honest with you. I like you.”

I believed him. I liked him too.

To Be Continued…

P.S. Leave me a comment below! You don’t need to leave your email address, promise, I’ll never spam you! Let me hear your story or thoughts! Xo

Isagenix Day Two

It’s not my place to get into the nuances of nutrition and healthy eating – I’m not a registered dietician and I’ve primarily made eating right a mission for myself. So, I’m not going to preach about food and eating correctly or the farming industry, or the benefits of one particular diet over another. Honestly, I just feel overwhelmed by most of it; do you feel that way, too? Ugh.

In the past I’ve done healthy elimination diets, which means canceling out dairy and carbs, nightshades, things that can wreak havoc on the system. But it’s a lot of work, a lot of cooking, a full time JOB! I’ve already got three full-time gigs as it is, so I’m not in the frame of mind to take on that sort of commitment right now. Instead, I’ve opted to take the plunge and try the Isagenix 30-day cleanse. Yes, I’ve researched it, I’ve read the reviews, I’ve talked to all my friends who’ve tried it and I felt pretty confident that I could stick to it and come out feeling good at the end of the month.

While the commitment is huge, the process is actually really simple. No special grocery shopping, stocking up on loads of greens that spill out of the fridge. No special three meals a day plus snacks to prepare. Really, it’s basically two shakes a day, two snacks, and one sensible meal. How hard is that?

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I’ll tell you, it’s day two and I’m craving snacks and coffee. Yeah, I’m a decaf drinker so it’s not the caffeine I’m chasing just the taste and smell and warmth of the cup in my hand. My coffee drinking is more of a hobby than an addiction. So is my snacking. When I have writer’s block or when I’m in the flow of writing I need nuts, or pretzels to just mindlessly pop into my mouth. I’ve cut myself off from all this in order to what? Well, vainly, get rid of the last few pounds of pregnancy weight my body just doesn’t want to shed even after I eliminated sugar and work-out five times a week.

It’s frustrating.

It’s frustrating that my clothes fit, but not comfortably. Instead they pinch and pull and cut into all the wrong places. It’s annoying that wearing anything baggy makes me look schleppy and anything fitted feels snug. And that bloating that happens after lunch? Well, I’m sick of it. I didn’t have these things pre-baby, but post-baby my body has just changed so much. It’s like I’m rediscovering how it/I work.

I don’t honestly know where I’ll end up at the end of this monthly challenge, but I’m hoping for the best. I’ve definitely set some high expectations in my head, which I’m aware is silly, but I just feel a sense of positivity and I want to honor that, because why not? It’s so much work to be pessimistic.

How do I feel right now? Pretty good. Day one was rough. Not because I was hungry, but I had every symptom they tell you might happen. Which basically equates to feeling like you have the stomach flu. Ugh. But day two I’ve seemed to level out. I’ll keep you posted with my honest feelings, because why wouldn’t I?

If you are interested in some awesome foodie info from a vegan, my dear friend and author Michael Chrobak has a wonderful blog talking about the food industry and some great vegan recipes that I’ve tried and approve of! You can find his site at: eatingwrite.weebly.com

In addition, another wonderful resource for nutrition and wellness is my dear friend, Health and Wellness Coach, Kelly Schoger and her company ApotheKelly Wellness. Kelly is a trained and experienced coach with so much amazing knowledge. Her website is truly helpful: ApotheKellyWellness.com

Why am I telling you all this? Why not? This mom can’t be alone in feeling sluggish, anxious, bloaty, and tired, right? I want to feel good all the time for my son, my work, my partner, and me!

A story blog is coming later this week… stay tuned. 😉

Fluff

I sit adjacent to her long, sinewy arm, our legs brushing against each other’s by force of proximity, and I stare into her piercing, icy blue eyes – I’m not going to back down this time. Her character assassination, though disguised as a general opinion of sorts is nothing more than her own insecurity of self worth and value.

“A writer isn’t much more than fluff for entertainment. Anyone can write about anything, it doesn’t take any sort of talent, or skill… you don’t even need an education. It’s not a profession,” I felt her words bunch up my guts like red meat: tough to swallow, hard to chew, regretful.

I smiled in spite of myself, favoring the approach of niceness and I questioned her, “do you read? Books? Fiction? Creative non-fiction? Do you? Any of the great works of literature past or present?”

She stares at me, a smirk passing over her lips that make her eyes dance a little in the light. It’s her tell. I know she’s going to come at me swinging. I’m ready to take a blow, as I see her thoughts passing through her expression. What would she say to cause me injury? Is she so eager to make another hit so early in the conversation?

“No. I suppose I haven’t and I don’t care to. My schedule doesn’t permit the luxury of books. I’m in the business of making money. I suppose that may be an excuse and I could make the time if I thought it were important, but I don’t. Don’t misunderstand me – I don’t think books are important.” She giggles and picks up her wine. I think she may have had enough. Drinking makes her bold and unfiltered and while that can be charming on some it is not the case with Lily.

flowers-2067604_640Lily is an aging beauty. I make-up her past based on stories and photographs. A woman that men adored for her physical attributes and exotic accent, but Lily chose to live life on her own. Her life has been ruled by her fears and anxieties. It feels like a great loss to me. She could have been so much more, a soldier in the fight for humanity, the arts, feminists. She could have been a source of inspiration, but instead she’s a tale of warning.

“We aren’t learning anything new in this conversation, so we should just stop talking about it,” Lily offers as I am distracted by thoughts of who I wish she were.

“Okay,” I too easily agree, regret even, but I know better than to push for more. I know I won’t change her mind, or prove her wrong, but I wish I could point out the masters of the trade and what makes them great. I wish I could find the words that would sway her and make her understand why the world needs writers… my mouth is opening to speak —

It’s too late.

I’ve lost her to other interests. Lily rises from the table, and is moving onto a discussion regarding the inadequacies of individuals that work from home, “a luxury afforded to less ambitious people,” she determines.

I look at her wishing the conversation had not taken place.

I think less of Lily when she makes remarks like this.

I glance at her with a weak smile.

She silently smiles back, her eyes twinkle. I can see she wants to spar.

I decide to go to bed.

I know tomorrow will produce more of the same logic from Lily and I want to point out to her that The Grapes Of Wrath is critical to our country’s history, and how James Baldwin makes us cry as a nation and the influence Ayn Rand has had on politics or Orwell – how can she live in the dark not even considering what these authors left us with?

Not a reader, that’s fine, but to criticize writing as a “lackey’s ambition” is too far. I’m sweating under the covers unable to sleep or calm myself. My frustration turning into anxiety, I reach for my Kindle and pull up a book and I begin to read. My heart rate slows as I lose myself in the beautifully crafted prose of Sedaris. Laughing at the humor of ignorance – or, arrogance? I know I will not change Lily’s mind, but I can write about it here on this page and feel safe knowing she’ll never read what I wrote about her…

Adiós Chihuahua Ojo

My mom’s dog died last week. I know, I know, but don’t worry – she still has my dad and her health. And she’s pretty young, so there’s that too.

It’s interesting how much we rely on our pets: for friendship, protection, emotional support, and as great excuses for not having to do stuff. And let me say this: people are far more forgiving when you say your dog is sick versus when you say your kid is sick. I don’t know why the heartstrings pull so hard when friends or co-workers find out your adorable fur baby needs care, but when your toddler is suffering… again… they annoyedly brush you off with a dismissive, “they’ll get over it.” It’s the power of the fur.

Before you make me out to be a callous human, in case you don’t know, I rescued three strays in 2 years, cared and paid for one’s cancer treatments for another two years before she passed, and am absolutely ga-ga, head over heels for my current two fur babies, who mean the world to me. So, I get it. I also have a toddler.

All of that being said, my mom’s dog died a week ago. He was a 126-year-old, one-eyed, shaman looking, 27lb Chihuahua (Chihuahua mix…oops, they paid for a pure bred). The truth is either the damn dog was sick for all his 18 human years, or my mom developed Munchausen by proxy. I’m not a doctor. I’m a writer, I am in no way qualified to make this diagnosis, but, the dog was never sick until this last year of his life when he suffered from old age ailments. So I’m sticking to Munchausen. Let me explain:

Most individuals who suffer from a condition that requires a support dog, get a dog so they can have a pseudo-normal life – leave the house and live amongst the world. My mom used her “support dog” as an excuse to never leave the house again. Ever.

A little history on the pup: Originally he was a gift from my father. The then two-eyed Chihuahua was meant to rekindle a marriage that my mother had already extinguished and abandoned. She was living in a new home, with new people, and the dog, then just a puppy, was left in my father’s care. Under my father’s watch the puppy lost an eye. I know, I know, “WHAT!?!” but yeah, this is quite common in certain breeds. The veterinarian assured us that the dog, having been so young at the time of the incident, would never know the difference, and he didn’t even feel it since the nerve was cleanly severed. I sound very clinical relaying the information now, but it was a long and traumatic day when I had to drive my terrified, sobbing father, and my mother’s scared puppy to the animal hospital all those years ago. Someone had to stay strong and make choices, like calling my mother at her new home with her new (roommate? Boyfriend? Main squeeze?) partner, and telling her that her puppy had lost an eye.

After the “incident” my father could no longer be trusted with the pup and my mother could not keep the pup at her new family’s home, so ultimately she came back to my father, to care for the puppy, and eventually terminated the divorce proceedings. So I guess the dog did his job? This all sounds a bit sketchy, but for the purposes of time and length, it is a story for another day.

Since losing his eye, my parents determined that the dog needed two parents to care for him full time. Apparently, something not even their high school teenager, new grandbabies, young adult children, their home, or other two adult dogs needed. This one small dog that was missing an eye, but otherwise was in perfect health, was the only living creature my parents needed to give their full attention and time to. My mom spent time making inquiries to plastic surgeons about the possibility of a glass eye. My dad set up wee-wee pads around the house so the dog wouldn’t have to be burdened with using the yard. The pup was also segregated from the other dogs in the house until he was a year old; or perhaps I should say, the older dogs were forgotten, much like their teenage human sibling (not me). For all intents and purposes, the puppy was also segregated from all my parents’ adult children because we didn’t know how to “play” with him delicately, this now 27lb bowling ball of a dog.

It was hard not to resent the dog. He received the care and attention that none of us had or ever would get from my parents. Every phone call or text message received or made revolved around the dogs day, his feelings, emotional health, physical well being. A trip to the vet for gas, bloating, hiccups, wet nose, dry nose, bad breath, soft stool, hard stool, you name it. It was hard to feel anything but severely annoyed. Was the son-of-a-bitch spending my one-day inheritance on his hypochondria? Hahahaha! I have no inheritance don’t worry. But seriously, what the hell was going on all these years? And before you activists weigh-in on the idea of diet, the dog had all his meal specially prepared: boiled chicken breast and steamed green beans with a little olive oil. He wasn’t sick, he was spoiled, literally, spoiled like expired milk, he was no longer a dog but a vessel for emotional pain. Poor guy.

My parents declined to attend birthday celebrations, canceled holiday plans, and rejected every dinner invitation extended by my siblings who lived locally. “We can’t leave the dog; he needs us. He’ll die if we’re not home with him,” they’d plead on every phone call.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, WHAT? Yes.

It had never presented a problem in the past with the number of family dogs we’d had before, but this dog carried the burden of all my parents emotional baggage: betrayal, unhappiness, entrapment, marital obligation, years and years and years of emotional grief and depression; all of which were heftily laid upon the back of one small dog, just like that.

Once joyful and spry like a young dog should be, he quickly became aggressive and mean to anyone who wasn’t my mother. Hugging my mom became impractical, as we never knew if the mixed breed Chihuahua would leap from her lap or arms and take a bite out of us. As my parents were unwilling to leave him at home, the executive decision fell on the parents of my nieces and nephews to not invite Grandma and Grandpa over, or out anymore, since the dog could not be trusted with children, or the children with the dog.

My parents feigned outrage, but truly they could not have been more relieved to be let off the hook. “Think of us as grandparents who live out of state. On the rare occasion we can see you, it will mean so much more,” they claimed. All these excuses and lies in the name of the poor dog.

That dog, living with one eye, became my mother’s reason for not living these past, nearly two decades. “We don’t get to take vacations; we are bound by our sick dog.” Or, “we can’t have anything nice because of our sick dog.” And of course my favorite: “we need you to elope, because of our dog, we just won’t be able to come to your wedding, meet your first born child, our grandson, or see the life you’ve built for yourself in California over the past 15-years, your entire adult life, because of our sick dog.”

Alas, this poor sick dog (he was never sick) has passed away. My parents carried him to the crematorium, watched as he was lowered into the flames, and came home with an urn, engraved with the dog’s name. I imagine my mom has sat holding the urn in her lap for the past week. She has not stopped crying or left the house. And just this morning they both decided not to attend my nephew’s (their 2-year-old grandson’s) birthday party, because their dog has died. They also don’t think that Christmas will happen this year for them; possibly even next year.

The dog, even in death, must shoulder my parent’s burdens. Poor fucking Pepper (oh, that was his name, Pepper).

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The Quickie

 

This is going to be a quickie blog post before I head out overnight to a grad school meet and greet, interview, all of the above day.

I’ve learned a couple of things about myself this past week. One, I know nothing about musicians. I listen to music and really just never pay attention to anything else. I have the same amount of knowledge regarding celebrities – including actors – no knowledge of their personal life or resume. I also realized it’s because I literally don’t care. The more I find out, the less I wish I knew.

I’ve also learned that some people just cannot stay out of the news and I’m pretty sure that it’s a nightmare for them. Maybe they thought they wanted it – fame, celebrity, to be a household name, but I bet they’re pretty regretful at this point. I mean, nightmare. Mine, my nightmare, because I have to write a million stories about you and make them sound interesting, and for you because many of them aren’t flattering.

I learned I am a super-capable and competent adult human. Sometimes I forget that. I’ll look over and see I have a dog and think, ‘my God! How have I not lost you, forgot to feed you, how have I managed to shelter you for so long?’ It’s a legit question. And along those same lines, how on earth did I manage to buy a house? Who am I? It’s absurd. Which is why I probably still wake up from naps feeling disoriented and looking around expecting to see my parent’s couch and family room… do you ever do that? It’s spooky, right?

I learned I love being a Writer, but I don’t love all the things I write. Including personal projects, but more often, the work stuff that pays bills. It’s fine it’s just finding freedom in the restrictive guidelines of a job is really hard. But I’ve been a writer for a long time, and only recently have I really dove right into author groups and graduate level course work and considered professors and published authors as my peers… and I’ve never been happier or more aligned with anything or any people in my life. I have found an interesting, supportive, and amazing world of human beings that really go the distance for one another and for their readers. And it doesn’t matter who those readers are be-it you, or a client, or any audience. Writers just want their work to be good for the reader.

So, that all being said I invite you to partake in this awesome author Holiday Book give-away by a few great writers. It’s simple to enter and you could win up to 5-free books. I’ve entered 6-times and I’ve already read 3 of the books, hahaha! I’m always happy to help promote good work and I think it’s important that we all support each other and our indie, entrepreneurial, start-up endeavors. Enjoy the give-away and good luck! I’ll be back shortly!

Link to website hosting the Holiday Book Blog and Give-away:

https://www.chibeingchi.com/books-and-writing/2017/11/28/online-book-blog-party

Link to register for prizes:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ae36de0d1/?

This is my story. Me too.

It’s awkward, it’s difficult, and it is hard to talk about sexual assault even when you live a life of openness. Victim isn’t an adjective I like to use in any context when describing myself. I prefer quirky, funny, kind, sincere – you get the idea. And I imagine that of the women who have found the courage to speak out about misconduct and assault, feel the same way.

I remember early on in our relationship my husband and I were drinking a couple of beers and holding hands while we sat outside doing nothing. Remember that part of a relationship? When doing nothing was easy? If you’re still in that phase – cherish it. We sat there and after a beer I was feeling saucy and brave and I asked him that awkward question, how many partners have you had? He answered, unembarrassed even though I stared at him with wide-eyed shock. And I have pretty large, innocent looking eyes, so he was pretty brave. When he turned the table on me and asked for my number I started shaking, similar to the way my hands are trembling now as I type this.

It wasn’t because I didn’t know. It was because I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to count the person who had raped me.

Then I wasn’t sure if I should tell my new boyfriend I had been raped.

What would his reaction be?

Would he blame me?

Would he see me differently?

Would I be able to see this relationship until “I Do,” holding onto this secret?

Anxiety was building up inside me, as I awkwardly started ugly sweating. You know, my upper lip started dripping down my mouth, my armpits had a ring that would never wash out properly and I knew I was going to blurt it out. He would be the third person I’d told in the 3-years after it had happened. I told my therapist after 18-months of seeing her. I told a friend that grew up with me and knew my assaulter. And now I was about to tell the man I had just started dating.

“Do I count being raped as part of my number?”

“I think so?” he smiles awkwardly. “No… Wait…were you raped?”

“Yes, but I don’t think it counts. Right? You don’t actually think it counts, do you?”

“I think it counts, but not the way you’re asking.”

“I don’t want to talk about it, so don’t ask me any questions, I just wanted to know if you thought it counted.”

He laughed, nervously. Not because he thought it was funny, but because he was uncomfortable and didn’t know how to handle the information. He’s a good guy, I married him. No one had ever admitted to him before that they had been sexually assaulted. He was naïve.

I was assaulted as an adult woman, by someone I’d known since I was 14-years-old, he was a friend. I had been alone with him so many times before, we had been schoolmates. We had gone out to the movies and dinner never quite framing ourselves as dating – we were always just buds/pals/friends, over the decade plus of growing-up together.

When it happened he was engaged/about to be engaged/had a ring for his girlfriend, so there was no misunderstanding about his actions. And while there had been one regretful kiss, when he pinned my arms down and straddled me so I couldn’t kick or move, then yanked off my pants while I screamed “NO,” there was no way the situation could be misunderstood.

When he was done he cried. He told me he didn’t know what had come over him. He felt he had to prove himself to me.

I did not cry.

I flew home to L.A. and made a list of the things I had to do to prevent disease, infection, and pregnancy. I had to show up to work the next day after landing and pretend I was okay.

I had to pretend when he called several months later from an unknown number and greeted me with a giggle and an “are you feeling better?” that he had the wrong number and that no Jaime existed here. Then I changed my cellphone.

I had to pretend for 18-months I was okay, until a therapist told me it was okay to not be okay anymore.

We come from a smallish town where everybody knows everybody. I couldn’t let anyone know this happened. I would be deemed a slut, a whore, or worse a liar. That is what I had seen happen to other girls and women and I was just too afraid. I didn’t have support of family, and I didn’t know how to trust anyone.

I feel sorry for the man I dated after it happened. I was holding myself together by dental floss. He was a gentleman, and kind, and trustworthy, but I needed to be alone and I needed to straighten out the mess the assault left behind in me. I should have told him that. I was an imposter living a strange version of myself.

I had to deal with my fear, guilt, anxiety, and a biopsy on my cervix, because I was assaulted.

I hate going home and wondering if I’ll run into him, so I don’t go out when I visit. I don’t go to reunions. And I make sure he’s blocked from my peripheral.

This is my story. Me too.