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.

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.