thirteen things no one tells you (& you learn for yourself)

1. you should strive to be good, not unique. (contrary to their name, special snowflakes are everywhere. genuine people aren’t.)
2. once you discover that home is a feeling, not a location, your restlessness dissipates. (you won’t find a reason to plan your next escape.)
3. when you fall in love, your badass armor will crumble. (you will embrace your softness.)
4. it is okay that your parents like you less as each day passes. (they hate everything about you that doesn’t fit their idea of who you should be.)
5. trust your first impressions of everyone you meet. (your bullshit detector gets better as you get older.)
6. do not let people bend your empathetic ear if they can’t reciprocate. (you’re no one’s crutch.)
7. you will tire of the friends who lament about missing you on social media yet don’t keep in touch. (letting them go is easier than you thought.)
8. when someone insults others in order to compliment you, you’re right to be disgusted. (& to decline the intended compliment.)
9. happiness isn’t a constant state. (even the best days have comparatively low points.)
10. your weekend ritual of binge drinking will get boring. (if it doesn’t, your abysmal hangover recovery time will deter you from continuing the tradition.)
11. everything turns out the way it should. (though you won’t see the reason immediately.)
12. you are resilient. (you will bounce back from disappointments quickly because you can’t afford to waste time dwelling.)
13. when you hold yourself (solely) to your own expectations, you will like the person you become. (you may even love her.)

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“No, Brie — I’m not a jack-o-lantern.”

“Sammi is pumpkin?”

Brie squinted curiously at my toothless grimace and reached for the thread holding my lip together.

“No, Brie — I’m not a jack-o-lantern.” I shook my head.

“Owwie. No touch.”

“Correct. Don’t touch the thread. It hurts.”

“Sorry, Sammi.” Brie hugged me carefully, giggling when the stitches thread tickled her cheek.

“It’s okay, Brie. It’s not your fault.”

“Sammi is no pumpkin.”

Raf popped into the kitchen. “Time to go to the dentist, sis.”

“Thanks for picking me up, bro.”

“Of course. There was no way you could drive on pain meds.”

Four years ago, Halloween was on Saturday. Most people were going to Jacksonville for the UGA vs. UF game, so we celebrated the prior Wednesday. After stopping by my friend Kelli’s party, Ames and I headed downtown with two of our Young Dems friends.

Ames was a flapper. Pre-Halloween festivities were the perfect time to wear my cowboy boots with four inch heels, so I was a cowgirl. (The boots were impractical for anything but a costume.) Our friends were a glittery faced Edward Cullen from Twilight and a mobster.

As the night progressed, the boots pinched my feet. All of us (except Ames, who was driving) did rounds of shots at each bar, which numbed the pain. After last call, Edward offered to give me a piggyback ride. As I jumped onto his back, he lost his balance and I tumbled face first onto the pavement.

MY TEETH!” I stared at the fragments of my teeth and blood splattered on the sidewalk. Two teeth were pushed an inch back, digging into my tongue. My lip was split, bleeding onto my dress.

Ames snapped into her lifeguard handing an emergency mode. “Try not to touch your face. Don’t let your tongue move your teeth back any further.”

Ames drove us to the hospital. I left my dentist a rambling voicemail about my busted teeth. Once we sat in the ER waiting room, our costumed crew got weird looks (even from a guy who was there because he got stabbed). Edward apologized profusely, but I couldn’t help laughing (weakly) at his face, sparkling underneath the fluorescent lights.

After I got stitched (and doped) up, I saw that Dr. M left me a voicemail. He cleared his schedule to work on my teeth and was available as early as I could get there.

“Everybody’s staring, sis.” Raf jerked his head toward the onlookers in Dr. M’s waiting room.

“They probably think I got run over by a bus.” I continued watching the flat screen TV across from us. Dr. M always displayed a slideshow (portfolio, really) of his best work on that TV.

Dr. M winced when he greeted us. “Raffy, you can go home. Sam will call you when we’re done. This is gonna take awhile.” He pulled his goggles down and his gloves up. “Sam, do you have any pictures of your teeth before this happened?”

“Yes.” I fumbled through my purse and found my camera. I showed him a close-up that Ames and I took at the beginning of the night.

After taking a “before” photo, x-rays, and shooting anesthesia into the roof of my mouth, Dr. M gravely explained, “I’m gonna pull the two left teeth forward, do a root canal on and put a crown on the front right one, and then put a brace behind your front seven teeth.”

I squirmed anxiously.

“Ready?”

I nodded.

Several hours later, my smile was fixed. One of the dental hygienists took an “after” photo. I wept with gratitude. Dr. M dabbed his brow with a handkerchief and patted my shoulder.

“Come back in three weeks so I can check to see that everything is healing properly.”

“Will do.”

Months later, I sat in Dr. M’s waiting area before a regular cleaning. My teeth looked better than ever. The scratches on my face and lip healed. Two older ladies sat beside me, making small talk.

Tired of reading Shape magazine, I turned to the flat screen with Dr. M’s best work slideshow. The next pair of photos were my teeth before and after he worked on them.

The grey-haired lady gasped. “Dr. M is a miracle worker!”

The bespectacled lady clucked worriedly. “I wonder how that happened to that poor girl.”

The poor girl accepted a piggyback ride from a drunk Edward Cullen impersonator. She’s never trusting a glittery vampire again.

Five things to consider before getting a tattoo

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Monaco, Monaco. 09.09.12.

Five things to consider before getting a tattoo

1. Your threshold for pain (and if you have a fear of needles):

Anyone who tells you that getting a tattoo is quick and painless is a liar (or a masochist).

When you get a tattoo, the artist takes a giant needle gun and drills ink into your body for twenty minutes to over an hour. If you shudder at the pain from a phlebotomist collecting a blood sample, don’t bother. If the sight of needles makes you ill, don’t do it.

If you truly believe that you will rise to the occasion once facing your fear, go for it. But be aware that, typically, you can’t change your mind in the middle of a session. (Nor would you want to — an intentionally half-finished tattoo just looks sad.)

2. How you feel about permanence:

Can you commit to a decision, or are do you often tend to change your mind?

If you’re thinking, “I can just get it lasered off later if I don’t like it!” then you shouldn’t do it. Getting a tattoo removed is costly, painful, and doesn’t restore your skin to its previous, unmarked state.

A tattoo is a piece of art that will become part of you. It should be something that you would be happy to have (and look at) forever because of its significance.

3. The design & size:

Do you want a picture, text, or both? Do you want color(s) or a black outline?

Larger and more colorful designs will be more expensive. Pieces that stretch across your chest and full sleeves take several sessions. Personally, I thought that colored inking hurt less than black inking.

4. The placement:

Where do you want to get inked?

Any place where there’s bone will hurt worse than where there’s muscle. Rib and chest pieces are not for the fainthearted. Aesthetically, pieces like arm bands and knuckle tattoos only tend to work for people who look like The Rock.

If you’re applying for a job that wouldn’t hire you because your tattoo are visible and you want to get a full sleeve, reconsider your placement choice. (Or be okay with the fact that you won’t get hired for that or similar jobs.)

5. Which parlor and artist you want to go to:

This decision is crucial.

A great tattoo artist will meet with you beforehand to discuss what you want. He or she will give his or her input as to what would work best (technically and aesthetically).

Different artists within the same tattoo parlor specialize in certain types of work. Choose wisely and you’ll have an awesome piece of art for the rest of your life.

*Photo was taken by my boyfriend, who took it while we were in Monaco.