(This is from a prompt in the book “No One Cares what You Had For Lunch” sold here)

Age 3: I am standing outside my house in Cedar Falls, Iowa and our dog has just run away. I see a weird patch of something on the gravel of our driveway and am suddenly convinced that my parents ran over the dog and are just telling me he ran away.

Age 5: I finally get a bike. My parents do not believe in training wheels and my happy moment soon comes to a crashing halt—literally.

Age 7: My Mom sits in our living room in Bettendorf, Iowa and tells me and sister #1 that she and my Dad will never get divorced. They have not gotten divorced.

Age 8: We move to Homewood, Illinois. I vow never to call this new place home.

Age 10: Sister #2 is born, and she is unfortunately a girl. Her first name is my middle name, for the rest of my life I will be questioned if her middle name is my first name. It is not.

Age 12: My parents tell me we are moving to St. Louis, Missouri. At school, I do not want to tell my best friend, Sarah. I tell everyone else, and she gets mad at me at recess for keeping a secret. I run away from her until she corners me. I tell her I am moving that summer, and we cry.

Age 13: I vow never to call this new place home. My first day of school is a disaster. Every bad thing that happens between now and age 20 is blamed on my parents making this move.

Age 17: I get my first job as a sales associate at the ½ Price Store (now Gordmans). I soon realize retail is hell.

Age 18: I struggle mightily in college, going from an A student to a C student. I promptly give up on the notion that I will become a kindergarten teacher. I figure I’ll get my B.A in English and figure something out. That “figuring out” takes a lot longer than expected.

Age 19: I stumble upon NaNoWriMo and, after 10 years of attempts, finally complete my own novel.

Age 21: I discover vodka; we become good friends.

Age 22: I get a seasonal job after graduation and meet Rich. I have a huge crush, but have absolutely no confidence. When he asks me out, I don’t realize it and invite the rest of the people we work with. Our mutual friend has to explain to me that he wants to go on a date. I proceed to FREAK THE HELL OUT. We begin dating and have been together ever since.

Later this same year, on sister #1’s birthday, we find out my Grandmother has had a “mini” stroke. She is never the same.

Age 23: I move in with my boyfriend. My parents take this better than expected. I decide to go back to school to become a certified high school English teacher.

Age 24: My Grandmother dies. Even knowing that she was miserable, I still cry every time I think about her not being here.

Age 25: For about a week, I cry every night praying to God for ONE GOOD THING to happen to me. A paying job literally falls into my lap for my student teaching experience the very next week. My faltering faith is reaffirmed, though not enough to go to church.