I’m getting married!

That’s right: I’m getting hitched. After 10 years with Ryan, we’ve finally decided to say I do. And I am so excited.

Towards the end of 2017, Ryan and I began looking ahead to this year and talking about how we would be celebrating a decade of dating in 2018. We loved the idea of getting married on our anniversary, so we first decided we would go get a quick courthouse wedding on our anniversary and call it a day. Then we realized that our anniversary was on a Saturday, and we weren’t willing to give up that date – so we’re having a teeny tiny ceremony in a park with our families.

Ryan did propose, and we did get an engagement ring, but both of those things came after we started planning for and booking things for the wedding. We even picked out the ring together, which turned out to be a surprisingly fun activity for the both of us – we learned about moissanite (which, by the way, I totally recommend as a beautiful alternative to a diamond), stone shapes, styles of settings, and more. And now I have this gorgeous ring on my finger and I get to tell the world that Ryan is my fiancé and I can’t wait to marry him!

Took this picture just a few minutes after Ryan officially proposed

Everything is super non-traditional with this wedding, which totally suits us. It’s made the planning process a little difficult here and there, but overall we’re just excited to be getting married, we’re excited to have a fun weekend with our families, and we’re excited to spend the rest of our lives together.

I’m also excited to be taking a shorter, simpler last name. Brandenburger has done me well, but I’m ready for a change.

Weight Watchers & 911

It’s been a while.

I’ve successfully finished training and gotten certified as a 911 desk operator at the Orlando Police Department. It’s a huge accomplishment for me and I’m very proud.

I’m also Stressed. As. Hell. And tired. Exhausted, really.

With finishing training comes required overtime, and it’s definitely going to be an adjustment for me. That is for sure. But I’ll be ok… I hope. I’m looking forward to bigger paychecks so that we can finally start to maybe get a head a little on finances instead of living paycheck to paycheck. Ryan has been looking for a job for a couple of months now and we’re hoping his search will soon be successful so we can bump up our income even more… we have goals, damn it! We want a house and a puppy and we want to get those things the financially responsible way!!!

In other news, I joined Weight Watchers a couple of weeks ago. Finally. I’ve been trying to get my weight under control for a while now but it just kind of leveled out at a weight that is not comfortable. I’m tired all the time and clothes aren’t comfortable and I don’t want to be this size, so I joined Weight Watchers — the only thing that has ever worked in helping me lose weight. I’m already down about 4 pounds, which goes to show how wonderful Weight Watchers is.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of this year pans out. Hopefully I can settle into a routine soon and gain back some sense of peace and normalcy. I think that would be great for my mental health! I’m on the midnight shift this month, and then next month I switch over to the evening shift, which will be my regular shift for the next six months — so hopefully that will help me get back in control of my life. I’m kind of tired of doing nothing but sleeping and working.

That’s all for now. I’ve got about 11 more hours to go on this shift and then I get to go home and sleep! I’m excited. To sleep. What a life.

Appalachian’s Log

Yesterday morning, I dropped Ryan and his best friend, Christian, off at the airport to fly to their starting point for their trek on the Appalachian Trail. They flew into DC and got to walk around and see a few sights before hopping on a train to Harper’s Ferry!

They’re about to go on the adventure of a lifetime and hike 2200 miles in five months. It’s going to be awesome.

To document this incredible experience, Ryan started a super awesome blog and I totally encourage you all to check it out. He’s only been gone for one day, but his photo map already has some really cool pictures and I can’t wait to hear more about his experience on the trail. Go check it out!

20-Year-Old Man Found Guilty of Sexually Assaulting Woman, Sentenced to Six Months

This is the headline we should be seeing about Brock Turner’s recent outrageous sentence to only six months in county jail and three years of probation for his brutal assault on an unconscious woman in 2015.

Instead, we are seeing headlines and articles touting Turner as a promising Stanford Swimmer, an easygoing guy, a smart kid with a bright future who merely made a “mistake” one night.

mistake. Sexually assaulting a woman behind a dumpster was merely a mistake. A temporary lapse in judgement. A minor transgression that should be forgiven and forgotten.

Except that it isn’t that simple. Brock Turner’s assault on his victim may be a mistake, but that does not give him or anyone else the right to justify his actions. Brock Turner must still pay for his mistake, just like everyone else.

Brock Turner’s smiling, clean, professional photo has been plastered all over these articles, citing his pre-Olympian swimming statistics and ignoring the fact that Brock Turner’s one “mistake” has altered the life of his victim in a way that cannot be undone. Brock Turner is a criminal, and he does not deserve the respect of these positive photographic representations of himself.


Ask yourself this: when a verdict or sentence is reached in other brutal crimes and is then reported in the media, what photograph is used to represent the perpetrator? The mug shot. The dirty, emotional, raw, honest portrait of the criminal. That is what should have been used to represent Brock Turner in all of the reports on this case. That is what we use to represent criminals.

Brock Turner got off easy. Unlike most others who commit heinous crimes like his, Brock Turner will be released and will have the opportunity to work on himself and improve his life. I can’t say I agree with the disgustingly lenient sentencing, but I hope for the sake of everyone that he can accept responsibility for his actions and use this rare opportunity to improve himself.

The father of the convicted wrote a long letter to the judge to spew on about Brock Turner’s character, his academic and athletic achievements, and how this “twenty minutes of action” has changed his life forever. This does not excuse his terrible actions against the victim. Brock Turner’s past does not entitle him to leniency.

The victim in this case has suffered over a year of trauma, reliving the night of the attack and will have to endure this trauma for the rest of her life. She has years and years of post-traumatic stress, therapy, nightmares, and more to look forward to. She has been given a life sentence to suffer through for Brock Turner’s crime against her.

And we’re hearing about his swimming times? His GPA? His achievements? This is unacceptable.

Brock Turner may be white, he may be smart, he may be athletic, he may be young, he may have attended Stanford — but these things are not relevant. These things do not excuse his crime.

Here’s what is relevant: Brock Turner is a criminal convicted of sexual assault.

When life gets real

I’ve been in a massive slump since graduating with my bachelor’s degree about a month ago. I’m not sure why. I graduated without any real plans or direction, but a clear understanding of what my goals and passions are. I’ve had a creative block, which is frustrating, as I’ve been desperately trying to relieve some of this slump stress with a project, but it just hasn’t been happening.

Throughout college, I didn’t have a career in mind. If we’re being totally honest, my main goal in life is to be happily married and raise some wonderful children — which is funny, because I’ve always been pretty independently ambitious. I still am independently ambitious. But I feel that my life goal is to achieve that family life. One of my biggest dreams is to host a holiday for family members (extended and immediate) at my house and just have a grand old time. But the point is, I started college without a clear career in mind and ended it in the same way.

Luckily, I am not completely clueless. I know that I have a passion for serving others, especially those who are going through a rough time or who need help. This passion has led me to my volunteering at Crisis Text Line as a crisis counselor — a job that certainly can cause stress — and finding that working in these situations gives me so much life. I don’t even know how else to describe it. When I am helping others in such dire situations, I feel alive. And I think that’s something to be considered when it comes to choosing a long-term career.

So after stressing about what I was going to do with this bachelor’s degree and how I was going to pay the bills and eventually contribute to this family dream of mine, I started applying for jobs. Despite now having obtained this degree I found myself feeling unqualified for almost everything I came across, but I applied to jobs that I felt I could either excel at and be happy in, or that I felt would feed that passion to serve others.

One of those applications happened to be for a 911 telecommunications specialist position — a 911 operator. I had actually thought about being a 911 operator for quite some time but wanted to finish school before making any sort of full-time, long-term commitment. Well, two weeks after filling out the application, I received an email letting me know that I was a candidate and should come in and take the CritiCall test, which is a public safety telecommunications exam. It’s kind of like a preliminary qualification exam; it weeds out the people without the basic skills necessary to work in this field.

This morning, I took that test at the local sheriff’s department office. I was nervous and excited and so, so nervous! I had almost a week to think about it and spent the whole time being pumped up about it and worrying about all the different aspects of the test. Would I be able to type VINs fast enough? Can I multitask as well as I think I can? Do I even know how to read a map?

I finished this test in about an hour, and when the test administrator informed the recruiter that I had finished, she was pretty sure that I had probably just failed the test — most people take at least an hour and a half to take it. She printed out my results and came in to talk with me about them and the next steps in the hiring process. She seemed totally blown away at the fact that not only had I finished the test in an hour, but I managed to completely surpass the minimum typing speed required by 1500 kph and earn the highest score she had ever seen. I got a 99% on this exam. The minimum requirement to move forward is a 76%. She was very impressed, and I tried to contain the part of me that wanted to cry with excitement while still letting her know that I was happy and excited and totally into this idea. She told me about the next steps in the hiring process, how she thinks I’d be a great fit, and how after two years I can move around into any other part of the sheriff’s department, mentioning specifically their Victim Advocacy program, which happens to be another career I’ve been considering. It was such a positive experience for me.

It seems so silly, and in the grand scheme of things, this test means so little. But after a month of feeling very down in the dumps and like I had no direction, this made me feel a lot better about myself and my future. The hiring process is going to be long, but I am excited and confident about it.

Here’s to the future, y’all. We can do it.