Banner Week!

For a while I've had little to write about. Well, you know how they say life shows up in threes? Whoever they are - they are right. This week was a banner week.

I. Big Red
I haven't really spoken of Big Red for a while because there wasn't much to put on  paper screen. Big Red's story is a bit convoluted for those who haven't been following so I'll give you the shortened version as best I can. Here's the lightening fast wrap-up of what's happened with Big Red since we arrived back in our Steel Town in the summer of 2008:

  • He gets hired within a week of our return, making a really great flat-rate salary at an Audi/VW dealership. Turns out the dealership sucks big time and he works with a bunch of chauvinistic cheating pigs.
  • He leaves dealership to work in an independent shop - sigh of relief. This place is a little further, but worth the commute. Turns out his boss begins to cheat him so that he won't have to pay Big Red. Huge bummer.
  • He leaves the small shop and takes a break from being a mechanic altogether; quits working, stays home for 8 weeks and finishes our basement over the holidays.
  • When it's time to look for work, he's weary of going back to any kind of shop so he gets a job as a parts delivery driver making $8/hr. While the money is tight, he's home before me, and his demeanor completely lightens up; he's the happiest he's been since we've been here.
  • Then the mother of all job opportunity arises. He has a chance to go work for an independent shop, one where they specialize in taking care of vintage race cars. It's a dream. He begins the job in the summer of 2011. We all breathe a collective sigh of relief and I write about it here. And then the worst things happens: the dream becomes a nightmare. Big Red is treated like crap, referred to a "f*@king monkey" in front of clients. He comes home many nights dejected and confused. He begins to spin into a darkness I've never seen before. This job lasts six weeks. Just when we think everything is lost and there's no hope, yet another way out turns up - a job at a Toyota dealership where his friend works. He jumps on it and begins in the early fall of 2011.
  • Big Red's spirit brightens and things seem to mollify themselves. But no, of course not, that would be too easy. Turns out this dealership is no better than the previous one. There's plenty of brown-nosing mechanics getting fed work. What becomes clear as day is that dealerships just SUCK. It's an environment that breeds corruption because income is on the line. Takeaway the variability of income, and I'm certain things would be better. But that'll never happen. Big Red begins to look for a way out.
  • Through the most unconventional turn of events, through a friend of a friend who knows his mother, Big Red is told to "call" Mr. W. Mr. W is the owner of a small shop that caters to vintage race cars, among other race cars (open-wheel). When my mother-in-law gives me the message, I'm nervous because I know that Big Red's palate has been soured with his experience last summer at the other race shop. Nevertheless it's another chance. I give the message to Big Red, he's understandably skeptical. I encourage him to call anyhow. He does. Meets Mr. W, and realizes that Mr. W ain't like the others, and actually refers to what he does as "a craft." Big Red is over the moon. They negotiate a salary, yes a freaking SALARY, and Big Red begins work on April 2!
What's the moral of the story? Risk. You must be willing to take risks. Had Big Red snuffed the invitation to call Mr. W because he was afraid to encounter the hell he had previously, he would have missed out on the chance of a lifetime. And folks, this really is the chance of a lifetime. Working with Mr. W will allow Big Red to travel and do unique amazing work. It's the piece of the puzzle that's been missing since we moved back. I am beyond excited for him, and more than anything relieved. When I hurt, it's my own problem and I can fix myself. When my husband hurts and I'm left helpless because there isn't a damn thing I can do, I feel useless. There are few things worse than seeing someone you love, to the moon and back, hurt so deeply. Likewise, there are few things better than seeing that same person happy.

II. 20+ lbs.
This morning I weighed in and I've crossed the 20 lb. threshold. I'm down a total of 21.2 lbs! I am ECSTATIC.  Yes, I still have another 18 to go, but I'm more motivated than ever. I've kept up with the P90X, but I have made a few of my own modifications. I did not like the Kempo so I'm substituting that for a day where I take long run (5-6 miles), or I hop on the elliptical. It's going incredibly well, and I'm damn proud of myself. My battle with food continues to be won, and it's actually becoming less of a battle. Earlier this week one of our math teachers had pies for "Pie Day" (3/14), and offered up some to those of us eating in the lunch room. While I could of just said no and skipped it altogether, I quickly realized that it wasn't necessary, but that I'd have to exercise restraint on how much I took. Look, I love food and that's never going to change. I can still eat sweets if the craving hits, I'm just much more aware of what I'm eating and how much of it I'm going to eat. I took a sliver of key lime pie and a sliver of peanut butter pie. I enjoyed every single morsel, my craving was satisfied, and I didn't undo all my hard work.

III. New Website
My photography is slowly growing. I don't have a large client base by any stretch, but word is quietly getting around. I've known for a while that the next step in growing my photography business is to put together a website. I'm not ready to invest hundreds in some flashy set up, so I've been scouring the internet for free options. This week I found one through www.wix.com. I don't own my own domain just yet, and am planning to take that second leap this summer. It isn't terribly expensive and it's something I'll definitely take care of. Until then, my photography business can be found at: http://www.wix.com/ilenemarshall/photography. I will continue to update my galleries, hopefully getting some students to do some senior portraits soon. I'm proud of what I've put together and while I know it's relatively simple compared to the super-professionals out there, I'm quick to realize I'm not a super-pro. I'm a full-time teacher with a budding photography business. For now, I think it's a great start.

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