So much has changed in the last few months. I am a little overwhelmed by it all, but to be honest, I think it’s all very good change. Not all of it has been easy; some of it has been quite difficult, actually. However, I have this sense that I am doing the right thing and these things are going to turn out well.

One change that was not difficult at all was marrying my best friend. Ryan & I finally, finally, finally tied the knot on July 21 – our ten-year anniversary. It was beautiful, magical, everything I could have dreamed of and more. I couldn’t be more thankful for all of the love and support we got leading up to & on the wedding day.

With our marriage came a name change, and we decided that I would take Ryan’s last name. Changing my name with social security was honestly the easiest task. Now, I’m slowly going through my accounts, work, etc. to get my name changed everywhere else. Brandenburger will be my name on something forever, I’m sure. Slowly but surely, however, more places are using my married name, which honestly makes me a little giddy.

I can’t believe I’m married y’all!

Married life has been treating Ryan & I really well. We went to Portland, Oregon on our honeymoon for six days and it was incredible. We didn’t want to come back! The weather was lovely (even though everyone we met told us about how hot it was outside, HA), the natural scenery was incredible, the public transit was simple to use and could get you just about anywhere… We honestly can’t say enough about how much we just loved Portland & Oregon.

We came back from Portland and got right back to work. I only had two weeks left at the communications center before I left for a new job.

I’ll be honest, here: working at the communications center took an incredible toll on me. I always thought it was funny, because the work itself was fine – though I empathized with my callers, I was easily able to pick up the call, get the information, and move on to the next. I enjoyed training new call-takers and had a lot of ideas about how to improve the job itself, my workplace, and the field as a whole. But mentally, emotionally, and even physically, my health and happiness seriously deteriorated in the time when I worked at 911. The schedule was always unpredictable; in my last week, I had one of my supervisors cancel the morning overtime that I signed up for a few weeks ahead of time so that she could mandate me to stay over for the evening overtime. Too many times I had to miss things that were important to me because someone called out and I got mandated to take their place. And I can’t even blame my coworkers for calling out; we were all worked to our breaking points and if I didn’t get so much anxiety from calling out, I probably would have done it a few more times too.

It just got to be too much for me. I ate like crap because I didn’t have the time or energy to put any effort into preparing decent meals for myself while I was at work. My relationships suffered because I was always tired, and most days I left work feeling bitter and angry and I just wanted to be alone. I sunk into a depression more intense than I’ve felt in years; I had to stick to my exact routine or my entire mood would be thrown off. I felt completely numb, like I was living on auto pilot, like only the essential functions were being supported and nothing else. I increased my anti-depressant dosage earlier this year for the first time since 2014, though I’ve been planning to try to start decreasing it. It just wasn’t working.

And honestly, I’m heartbroken over it. I worked so hard to get that job. I had a dream to be a 911 operator, and god damn it, I accomplished it. I excelled in the pre-hiring tests and interviews. I went through six months of intense training. I was a great call-taker, and eventually I even got to train other call-takers, and I enjoyed that too. I really, honestly, truly enjoyed the work. I had so much anxiety over my last two weeks. I tried to see if I could still cover overtime here and there (I couldn’t) and I considered once or twice rescinding my resignation. And on my last day of work, when I turned in my badge and my uniforms and walked out of the communications center for the last time, I got into my car and I cried.

What I did there was special. What everyone in that center, in that field does is special. It gave me a certain sense of pride to be able to tell people that I was a 911 operator, to be in-the-know on local police activity, and to be able to serve my city.

And that’s why I only applied for city jobs when I finally finished my resume and started applying for a new job. I really enjoy public service. I love being able to help my community – just not at the expense of my own well-being.

Yesterday was my first day at my new job. I’m working in the clerk’s office as the board coordinator for our citizen advisory boards. I’m two days in, and I know this was the right decision. I’ve met some wonderful people and while I’m still feeling pretty lost on most things, I’m excited to keep learning and keep meeting people. I have my own desk, my own computer, a set schedule (Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm, and an hour for lunch), an office full of great people, and I’m so excited for this new chapter in my professional career. I’m also excited to occasionally have lunch with my husband, who works just a couple of blocks down the road from me now.

Overall, life is good. I’m still climbing out of my depression and trying to fix what’s been broken. I’m still coping with my feeling that my time in the comm center feels like it was cut short. But that’s ok. I feel a certain sense of peace with this new reality and I think that’s a good sign that it’s all going to be ok.

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.

A Favorite from QuiltCon

I wasn’t able to go to QuiltCon this past February (though I am enjoying every minute of 911 training, I was pretty heartbroken when I had to send that email cancelling my class registration!), but I have seen plenty of the amazing quilts that were there.

Ever since I saw Chawne Kimber‘s “The One for Eric” last year, quilts with a connection to actual issues (especially social justice) in the world have become near and dear to my heart.

Naturally, this quilt, a message to believe the survivors of sexual assault, stood out to me as I scrolled through all of the incredible quilts displayed at QuiltCon. I am so grateful for the incredible artists in this community taking the time to create quilts that can not only capture the eye, but get people talking about things that really matter.

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Quilts for Pulse Distribution Has Begun!

Pulse quilts delivered for victims of Pulse nightclub shooting

On this day: October 28 Distracted driving blamed for rise in traffic deaths, injuries Lake County man catches massive gator in St.

The Orlando Modern Quilt Guild has begun distributing quilts to the recipients and as expected, it’s been an emotional, beautiful experience! We have over 1800 quilts to give away, with donations coming from all 50 states and all over the world. So proud of our guild!

Summer of #QuiltsForPulse

As the summer draws to a close (though you couldn’t tell, with this obscene Florida heat), I’ve been reflecting on #QuiltsForPulse a lot. The beginning of summer, for those of us in Orlando as well as many people around the world, was marked by an event so tragic, it made history. I have gone through so many emotions and found myself in tears over this more times than I bear to count.

Quilt top that I pieced with donated heart blocks.

Orlando has been fighting to come together, pick up the pieces, and heal.

As avid crafters, the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild here found healing through quilts, and the joy it brings to create quilts for someone who might really need some comfort. When our president announced the #QuiltsForPulse project, we were hoping we could get 102 quilts together — just enough for the victims’ loved ones and the survivors to each get one quilt. To us, it sounded like a huge undertaking. 102 quilts in just a few months!? We were crazy for even considering it! But we were more than happy to take on this project, and we called on the online quilting community to help. 102 quilts? Yeah, it’s a lot of work… but maybe a few people on Instagram would be willing to help. A block here, some batting there, and we could make up the difference.

And then the mail started coming in. And generous companies began donating fabric, batting, labels — you name it, we had it covered.

We still had to make quilts, though. We thought, cool, maybe we can expand to also giving quilts to the doctors who treated patients from Pulse that night.

A quilt that I bound after it had been pieced and quilted by someone else

The numbers just continued growing, the quilts kept piling up, and our list of recipients now covers everyone involved that night — from the victims and survivors, to the police officers, paramedics, fire fighters, 911 operators and dispatchers, doctors, nurses…We are even looking into giving a quilt to our mayor, Buddy Dyer, whose response to this tragedy has been absolutely wonderful. Our list is up to 853 quilt recipients. And we have a quilt for each and every one of them.

In fact, we have more than enough. Our quilt count is up to about 1000 I believe, and we still have piles of blocks and supplies to be used.

One of the quilts donated by the OCSO Communications Center

Just this past week, a call-taker from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Communications Center brought in two quilts, signed by all of the 911 employees, to donate to our quilt drive. This communications center received the overflow of calls from Pulse that night.

Words cannot express the gratitude I have to my guild for organizing this, the online community for their donations, or for anyone who helped at all. I am humbled to have been able to participate in this project.

It’s hard to live in Orlando without constantly being reminded of Pulse. My heart breaks over and over for everyone involved: the victims, the survivors, the paramedics, the police, the hospital staff, the 911 operators and dispatchers, the officers tasked with removing the bodies while surrounded by the sound of cell phones ringing off the hook — families and friends trying to get in touched with their loved ones. I am absolutely in awe at the way our community has come together to heal, and I am honored and comforted to be able to work on these quilts, knowing that they will be given to everyone involved very soon. I bound this quilt today. Others were responsible for designing, piecing, and quilting. We are looking at over 1000 quilts to give away in response to the tragedy at Pulse in June. People from all over the world have donated and my incredible guild has worked tirelessly to organize and finish this massive project. I am so so humbled to be involved. @orlandomqg @themqg #QuiltsForPulse #quilt #quilting #modernquiltguild #orlandomqg

A photo posted by Alexis Brandenburger (@burgab0o) on

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!