My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

When you were a kid, you had two favorite times of the day: lunch, and when the bell rang at 3:30pm. Lunch was pretty special though, even if you were stuck at school. Lunch time led to the grand unveiling of what your mom or dad packed you in your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle lunch box.

As you learned yesterday, I was a bit obsessed with the crime fighting, pizza-eating, numb-chuck swinging turtles.

If you were a child of the ’90s, chances are, it was probably garbage. Sweet, delicious garbage. These days, my sister-in-law packs organic granola bars and sliced gala apples for my niece and nephew, but I remember my dad throwing whatever I had picked out at the grocery store into my backpack, and that was totally normal. In fact, if your lunch box *didn’t* contain at least one or two completely processed snacks, you were probably looked down upon. Like, who do you think you are, not bringing a bag of fruit snacks laden with red dye no. 6 to school?

The best part about ’90s snacks, was that most of them were designed to be some sort of activity for us. We were constantly “making” our own pizzas, or wearing chips on our fingers. Although we probably grew out of most of these treats (I said probably!), we can still reminisce, right? See if you can remember finding some of these technically edible gems in your lunch box:

1. Lunchables

Lunchables,_turkey_and_american_cracker_stackers

Lunchables gave you the culinary ingenuity to do whatever you wanted with your ingredients. Stack your crackers, cheese, and deli meat up like a leaning tower of junk food, make pizzas out of fudge and M&Ms, shove Reese’s in your mini burgers — the options were infinite.

2. Little Debbie Swiss Roll Cakes

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I loved whenever my dad took over lunch-making duties on those rare occasions that my mom was busy. Instead of just packing the “one” roll, my dad would put in the WHOLE SNACK PACK. Two Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls?! I mean…how can you have a bad day at school when you’re chocolate wasted?

3. Nilla Wafers

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For some reason, you always fooled yourself into thinking these were delicious, when in reality, Nilla Wafers are just tasteless, vanilla-scented pucks.

4. Ritz Bits

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Crackers with peanut-butter or cheese? GENIUS.

5. Bologna and Kraft American cheese sandwich

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Nitrites be damned. This sandwich was everything.

6. Fruit Rolls Ups

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Fruit Rolls Ups were like sheets of strawberry-flavored plastic, but you could artistically express yourself with them by making strawberry plastic pizzas and tie-dye hearts.

7. Bugles

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Placing bugles on our fingers and curling our hands at friends like we were witches was the only proper way to consume Bugles.

8. Handi-Snacks

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I’m still not sure why we needed a red wand to make cheese and cracker sandwiches.

9. Shark Bites

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Shark Bites were definitely the most superior fruit snack (aside from Welch’s strawberry fruit snacks, but that’s because they tasted like Starbursts). What was better than popping chewy little multi-colored predatory fish in your mouth, one by one? Also, never, ever Google image search “shark bites.”

10. Dunkaroos

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I just recently came close to spending $13 on imported Dunkaroos from Canada. Seriously. I really miss these guys, even though I figured out you can basically get the same thing by purchasing Teddy Grahams and Rainbow Chip frosting.

11. Fruit by the Foot

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Fruit by the Foot was like Fruit Roll Ups, but longer and a little bit more pretentious because you could spot “strawberry seeds” sometimes.

12. Gushers

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I belonged to the minority who didn’t like the “explosive flavor” these gummies provided. Call me vanilla, but I kind of like my fruit snacks to have a balanced amount of juiciness.

13. Hi-C Ecto Cooler

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Ecto-Cooler was essentially the same thing as “Shoutin‘ Orange Tangerine” but we liked it more because we could say “ecto-cooler” and associate it with Ghostbusters. And it was disturbingly green.

14. SqueezIts

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In order to drink this “juice,” you had to squeeze the plastic bottle, but the effort was well-worth it because it was basically like drinking Skittle water.

15. E.L. Fudge Keebler cookies

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I’m pretty sure Keebler has stayed afloat in the packaged cookie game solely because their fudge and shortbread cookies are on point and always will be.

Now I’d be completely, 110% lying if I said that I don’t eat and/or drink any or all of these from time to time. In fact,  as I am typing this at work, I’m polishing off a packet of Fruit Gushers.

Yep. I definitely still think the “juiciness to chewiness” factor is way off.

But still 110% tasty.

So what about you guys?

Do you remember enjoying any of these snack-attacks during your lunch or recess break?

What isn’t on my list that you remember packing in your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle lunchboxes?

Happy Wednesday!

Since we’re almost over the hump of the week, I thought I would do something a little bit different today. This is one of those super-random blog posts that I figured might be fun and also spark some great comments from you guys since I always love learning more about you!

The questionnaire provides 25 prompts to reveal “25 Things You Didn’t Know About Me,” and while longtime readers probably already do know some of these things, there are a few random nuggets thrown in that may reveal some new stuff. Feel free to play along in the comments section of this post and have fun with it!

25 Things You Don’t Know About Me

  1. I’m happiest when…1.) I’m hanging out with my family and friends 2.) I’m reading a great book 3.) I’ve made someone laugh or smile
  2. …Especially if it involves…1.) The Milwaukee Brewers, 2.) Great food 3.) Doing absolutely nothing together10367122_10100433488439342_1590496733671690307_n
  3. I’ve always wanted to…visit Italy. It’s at the tippy-top of my bucket list which will hopefully (hopefully) be crossed off very soon. Mi amore :)
  4. My family and I…are some pretty crazy characters who support and love each other unconditionally. And always, always have a lot of belly laughs and fun together.
  5. I was a terrible…go-kart driver. When I was 13, my family took a trip to Estes Park and one day, we all decided to go go-karting. I decided to be little miss speed demon and while on my last run of the track, I slammed (SLAMMED!) into the side barricade, sending the protective tires and hay bales in every which way. The go-kart track attendant was more than a little PO’d at yours truly, but in my defense, I was only trying to turn around so that I wouldn’t get yelled at for going around the track one last time. And that’s what those tires and hay bales are there for any way, right?
  6. My first job was…working at a shoe warehouse. It was hot. It was sticky. And it was A LOT of work. But I still tried to put my best foot forward (I mean, you didn’t think I would let that pun-derful opportunity slip me by, did you?)
  7. I could probably eat ice cream every day. There should not be a “probably” in this equation.10329189_10100403469467602_7814414441383554681_n
  8. I stole…candy once from the grocery store. I was five and didn’t quite grasp the concept of the “fill your bag with candy from these large bins, weigh and then pay later.” I still feel guilty every time I eat a gummy worm.
  9. I was born on the same say as…Melissa Joan Hart (aka Sabrina the Teenage Witch) and Siri Cruise.
  10. My all-time favorite film is…a toss-up between Field of Dreams and Father of the Bride.
  11. I do a mean…Kermit the Frog impression.
  12. I’m still mad…that the Brewers didn’t make it to the World Series back in 2011. But this year is THE year. I can feel it.
  13. I met my husband…in college. Actually, I’m single as a Pringle, but just between you and me (it’s in the vault?), there is someone who I have secretly crushed on ever since college, someone who I love dearly and is my best friend. Someone who I could definitely see as my husband one day.
  14. I always knew I wanted…to become a librarian (or work with books in some capacity). Bookworm to the nth degree.
  15. I’m not afraid to…jump out of a perfectly good airplane.1461043_10100295367444922_1481298755_n
  16. I make the best…Chocolate-chip cookies. Ask anyone. I’ve got references.
  17. I have almost…no dance ability whatsoever. I mean, I can dance. If this is what you call dancing.
  18. I always cry when…I see those holiday Hallmark commercials. The family all coming together over turkey and pie…just bring me the tissues already!
  19. I’m (now) a…Coloradan, but I will always be a Wisconsonite at heart. mountains
  20. I’ve lived in…Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia and now Colorado.
  21. I wish my folks…didn’t live half-way across the country.
  22. At 5, I was deeply in love with…The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and jelly shoes.
  23. I believe that if everyone exercised a little bit more kindness, the world would be a better place.bekindtoothers
  24. I can’t stand…the smell of tuna. Or the taste. Blech.
  25. Whenever Seinfeld is on, I’ll watch it. Best. Show. Everrrrrrr.

Okay, friends. Your turn.

Answer one or all of the following prompts from the survey (or choose your own!)

I’m happiest when…

I was born the same day as…

At five, I was deeply in love with…

I could eat_ _ _ _ every day

I make the best…

flip

I went to college in a small, Wisconsin town that got hit hard by weather extremes.

In the fall, the summer winds would quickly cool and sharpen, ripping into your cheeks on your way home from class, leaving them red and finely shredded, almost as if you had applied blush with sandpaper.

In the winter, the roads and sidewalks would be covered in piles of wet slush, little bombs of slippery ice-dirt and road salt that would explode onto your pants and shoes, leaving nasty stains when they dried.

In the spring, the snow would melt away, leaving soggy grass everywhere. I’d see that grass and think it was pretty solid, but my foot would just sink into it, cold little mud bubbles rising around my shoe from all directions, soaking right into my sock. It felt like I was walking on a peat bog covered in smushed worms and last year’s dog poo.

Nope.

It wasn’t pretty.

My roommate Ashley and I were left with just two choices:

1. Try to predict and adjust for the weather. You know the drill: wear lots of layers, carry umbrellas on sunny days, build a collection of waterproof boots and start using phrases like “bunker in” and “venture out.”

2. Ignore it completely.

Well, we chose to ignore it. And we faced the consequences, let me tell you.

We got wind burn and had sleet slip down the back of our tee shirts. We would get massive dirt soakers and permanently stretch our socks peeling them off of our feet at the front door. We got dry legs, we got bone chill, and friends, we got rain hair hard.

But eventually, we got good at the art of ignoring it all.

In fact, I would dare to “venture out” and say that we were the queens of ignorance, the top dogs, the master of our unpredictable weather domains.

While I did indeed have mad skills, my roommate was the best of the best at ignoring the weather, the biggest proof being that she wore flip flops all year round. And in a northern Wisconsin town where “winter is coming” and “winter is never leaving” were phrases that were heard and uttered and believed on the regular, that was saying something. Wind, snow, rain, it didn’t matter one iota. “The toes need to breathe,” she’d say matter of factly.

Breathe.

She’d emphasize the point with a sturdy lip and a firm slipping on of the flip-flop. Then, she’d slap on her heavy backpack, give me a wink, and trudge out into a blizzard, navigating ice patches and slush piles like a pro.

Sure, there was the occasional bad day that came with being chronically unprepared for Mother nature’s worst blows, generally involving a dirty-puddle splashing all over your feet from a passing truck or maybe being unable to feel your toes until you put them in the toaster oven for twenty minutes. But we made it through.

And come on, there is something really nice about wearing sandals when you shouldn’t be wearing sandals. It’s liberation from shoe shackles, freedom from the oppressing sock, and a violent rebellion against those frostbite warnings Al Roker preaches on the weather channel.

People of the world, let’s face it: if we can come together to take down the shoe, then really, nothing can stop us.

AWESOME!

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Hello friends.

I’ve got another great (and quick) read for you this week!

On Saturday, I was able to hit up my all-time favorite bookstore, The Tattered Cover, and spent some quality time perusing the shelves. I went in with the intention of only purchasing one, maybe two books TOPS.

Ha! Like that was ever going to happen.

The conversation I had with myself went a lot like this:

Me: I will only buy one book.

Me: I will only buy three books.

Me: Okay, okay. I will only buy 9 books.

I have a serious problem, guys.

A book-buying problem.

It’s gotten so bad that I have run out of space in my apartment, my floor acting as a make-shift bookshelf, paperbacks and hardcovers strewn about every which way and in every corner.

But hey, if that’s the worst of my problems, I’m pretty lucky.

One of the aforementioned books that I picked up was Just My Typo written by Drummond Moir. I’m usually not a big fan of non-fiction but this book tickled my interest. From the sublime to the ridiculous, Just My Typo is a hilarious collection of typographical errors, slips of the pen and embarrassing misprints which, like any typo of any kind, should never have happened, cannot be excused, and must not in any way be glorified.

But man am I glad that they did. And were.

 It was a quick read, but I have to admit that several parts had me laughing out loud. Typos of all kinds, all through the history of the written word. They range from awkward (oh, I am so glad it wasn’t me) to downright hilarious (still happy it wasn’t me). The grammar nerd in me found it equally cringe-worthy and hilarious!

There were only a few down sides to the book that I found:

1. It did become kind of repetitive, the errors and typos seeming to sound the same after the first few chapters.

2. Some of the errors were hard to figure out, even for a word-obsessed gal as myself. There was one instance where the typo was in the wrong title of a Dickens’ novel. I love me some Dickens (and no, that is not a euphemism for anything), but I didn’t quite get the error right away.

Besides those few misgivings, I found this book to be a fun and enjoyable read.

I mean, who doesn’t like reading about others’ mistakes, right?!

Be sure to check out Just My Typo and let me know what you tink!

I mean, think! ;)

 

unputdownable

I wouldn’t call myself a gullible person. Sure, I’ve fallen for some pretty ridiculous things before; apparently plugging your nose while screaming at the tippy top of your lungs does not do anything for airplane ear-it is aka the incessant popping of one’s ears (I wish I could say that this case of gullibility which caused me to make a complete and utter arse of myself happened a long, long time ago, but no. It was this past April.) But I know better now. I really do. Or at least I think I do.

As an adult (a term I don’t seem qualified to use when I’m still replacing meals with ice cream sundaes and jamming out to The Spice Girls), I’d like to think that I’ve developed the ability to recognize “fake” things, but apparently, that’s not the case. A few weeks ago, I ran into a word online that I was convinced had been mistakenly typed by the author, and began immediately devising a sassy comment I could use to correct the error before finally realizing that the word did, in fact, have a credible definition. My colossal disappointment made me wonder if there are other terms out there, just waiting to trick unsuspecting English/grammar nerds like myself. Here’s what I found:

Unputdownable (adj.): unable to be set aside

Unputdownable is the kind of word that would come out during a petty argument, when one person chastises the other for reading Fifty Shades of Grey too many times, and the other, in a fit of uncontrollable rage, attempts to defend herself but breaks under the pressure and blurts out “THE BOOK IS UNPUTDOWNABLE” instead of “riveting” or another socially acceptable adjective. Put another way, it’s the kind of word Ross Gellar would use when trying to describe an archaeology thesis, causing the rest of the Friends group to crack jokes and question his PHD. However, the joke would be on them, because unputdownable is a legitimate term according to Merriam-Webster.

Spaghettification (n.): the process by which an objects is compressed horizontally into long, thin shapes

This word means exactly what you may think and, contrary to how it looks, was not invented by a five-year old trying to explain what he’s doing to his Play-Doh. In fact, that could not be further from the truth. Spaghettification is an astrophysics term that describes the stretching and splitting of one’s body in space, particularly, near a black hole. While the term has been around for a few decades, it didn’t really catch on until Stephen Hawking’s mention of it in A Brief History of Time. Who knew the word your child was mumbling while rolling a piece of clay between his hands was actually a key physics term?

Friendlily (adv.): in a friendly manner

If you think about it, almost any word can be made to look fake by simply turning it into an adverb. Sure, it may not roll off the tongue, but it’ll be grammatically correct, meaning you can whip out the dictionary and slam it on your teacher’s desk when she tries to take points off your essay for “word choice.”

Cattywampus (adj): in disarray or disorder

Also known as catawampus or kittywampus, cattywampus actually has nothing to do with a cats-themed campus or a cats-related disease. In fact, it bears no relation to cats at all. Cattywampus describes something that is askew, as in “Wendi slept with wet hair and woke up with her bangs all cattywampus.” Did that sentence make sense? I don’t know, but anyone hearing the term for the first time would be more intrigued with your use of the word than how you used it.

 Widdershins (adj.):(adj.): in a left-handed or wrong direction; counterclockwise

Though the first definition is a bit obsolete, the second is still used today to describe something that’s going counterclockwise. As in, “my mom saw the state of my room and has been pacing widdershins in the living room all morning.” Not only is it fun to say, but it sounds a few centuries old, so using it will easily make you sound old-fashioned.

What exactly makes a word look fake, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the way it looks. Maybe it’s the way it sounds. Maybe it’s the way your grammar teacher looks at it when you show her your essay. Whatever it is, I’m sure there are more out there other than the ones I’ve included in this list. So tell me: what are some of your favorite “fake but not really fake” words that you know?

13538873Hey guys!

Happy Friday!!!!

Since it’s technically the start of two whole days of freedom aka the weekend, I wanted to give you something fun to fill your time.

I don’t know about you, but one of the things I LOVE to do on the weekends, or any day that ends in a “y”, or during my lunch break, or while brushing my teeth, or as I wait for my waffles to waffle up, or….well, I think you get the picture. I am a living, eating, breathing book machine.

Basically.

Anywhoo, I just finished reading a real goodie, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan and am telling you, nay, begging you to forgo your trip to the movies this weekend and pick up this baby instead.

EVERYONE SHOULD READ THIS!!!

I am actually so super excited to write this review… I HAVE SO MANY THINGS TO SAY!

Because I have so many thoughts, let’s do this bullet-point style.

-To begin, this story was so positive and mood-uplifting! I never felt that horrible dread you feel sometimes when you’re reading: that loss of faith with the author where you ask the horrible question “Is the author going to screw this all up?” All throughout reading the book there were moments where I felt the exciting jolt of panic… “Oh no! What’s going to happen?!” but I never once worried that the story would end badly. In fact it was only when I turned the last page and read the last sentence when I felt a pang of sadness. It’s over already? IT’S OVER?!

- I LEARNED SO MUCH. Okay, as a person I love to learn new things, but the truth is that I don’t read very much non-fiction. When you read any book, you more often than not are constantly learning new things through the decisions of people, by taking on new perspectives, but in this book I actually learned new facts and things! I don’t want to say I am a genius after having finished this book, but let’s just say I would blow the socks and shoes off of any Ken Jennings contestant on Jeopardy. I’ll have “Who’s the shnazziest nerd?” for $2,000 Alec.

- There were so many great uses of setting in this book. Wowzapants. From places like Hogwarts and Spy Kids to the Google headquarters and even a knitting museum, this book never felt stagnant. It was fresh and exciting and the settings all felt so legitimate.

- The best way I can describe the idea of this book is “National Treasure for Book Lovers”. I absolutely LOVE the National Treasure movies! I mean, you’ve got your action. You’ve got your adventure. You’ve got your mystery and history lesson ala Indian Jones. And of course you’ve got your Nic Cage. What more could you ask for? Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store was just as exciting and fun, only with books thrown into the mix. I know, right?!

- The characters were so complex! And there were so many of them! I loved the number of different secondary characters that were constantly being introduced but yet at the same time, the writing never made them feel unnecessary. In real life, we have people that we need for certain things, but only interact with very little. This book had lots of different levels of interaction with people, which was new and great. Also, the characters were all super complex and fascinating. None of them felt flat or 1 dimensional.. they were all real people and were constantly surprising.

- The collaboration between old and new. Between older people and younger people, older technologies and newer technologies, older thinking and newer thinking. Sheer brilliance!

- Speaking of technology, THE TECHNOLOGY. There was such an amazing use of different technologies in this book, but best of all they were all plausible. There are some movies and books where a character pulls out a tool that is specifically designed to solve the exact problem at hand and it’s so unrealistic…those tools can’t exist! But everything used in this book was real, and it made me feel like this adventure actually happened. That I could walk into a bookstore one, rainy Saturday afternoon and be wisked away on an adventure on this magnitude. Sigh. A girl can dream, no?

- Finally, the main character. WHAT A MAIN CHARACTER! Clay Jannon is exactly the kind of lead you want in this type of story! Constantly clueless BUT TRYING HIS HARDEST, absolutely hilarious, genuine and earnest. I had such a blast reading this book. And the best part? I know I’m going to love rereading and rerereading this book. It was so well crafted and had me in smiles and laughs every time I picked it up.

I give it the ultimate recommendation!

Two Wendi thumbs WAY up :)

But don’t take my word for it; go to your local library right meow and check it out (pun intended)!

And after you’re done reading it, please feel free to let me know that I was right ;)

Happy reading, friends!

Last week I received an email from educational company, Webucator that asked if I would write about what I thought the best skills and aptitudes were in order to be successful in the “real world.” As someone who has been there and done that, I jumped at the chance to share my advice and thoughts about the working world.

Guys, I want to say that life post-college and graduate school is all daisies and ice cream sundaes, but it’s not.

In fact, life post-college and graduate school can be hard.

Way hard.

You go into school with an idea of what you want to do with the rest of your life, a goal, a plan, a dream job. You study hard, you get excellent grades and build up a stellar resume. All things that just help to get you one step further in landing that position as a lawyer/doctor/writer/teacher/professional ice cream taste tester (I’m still waiting to hear back from Ben & Jerry’s about my application).

After four (or five or eight) long years of all-night study cram sessions, teeny, tiny dorm rooms, and all-you-can-eat Ramen, you did it. You finally graduated and got that diploma! You got that degree!

It’s something to be very proud of, for sure.

But now what?

All of a sudden, you are faced with an abundance of unknowns.

Where will I work? What will I do? Where do I look? How do I even start? How am I going to pay the looming student loans that are ever so sneakily sneaking up on me?

What if I’m not good enough?

What if I fail?

All of these are things that went through my head at one point in time or another.

I had an idea of what I wanted to do, who I wanted to become, but it was getting there that was the hard part.

When asked about which skills are important in order to be successful in the work place, I can list off a few.

Quite a lot, in fact.

Communication.

Multi-tasking.

Being a team player.

Adaptation.

Creativity and a thirst for knowledge.

Being technology-savvy (or having the ability and drive to learn).

All of these things, and many more are, in my mind and experience, skills that help make you a better and more well-rounded individual.

The one thing however that I really, truly believe is crucial, is necessary, in order to get a job that you not only are qualified for and good at, but that you enjoy and are passionate about?

That one thing, my dear friends is persistence (and a strong faith.)

It took me two years, two very long years after I graduated college to land my first “big girl” job. I spent all day, every day, looking, searching, applying and yes, being rejected. One thing I learned very quickly is to not take rejection personally.

This is a lot easier said than done.

Trust me.

I shed many a tear (and ate many a cupcake) over interviews that weren’t meant to be, emails with the standard “While we were fortunate enough to have had many wonderful candidates, we decided to go with someone else who…yada yada yada…” and phone calls that just reiterated the fact that I should have just become a professional Sherpa.

The second thing I learned was that looking for jobs, applying and putting yourself out there was and is a full-time job in and of itself. You have to be vigilant. You have to go full-on Beast mode on that mother. Just do it. And keep doing it.

A third thing I also learned was that while you may have your degree in Journalism for example, that doesn’t mean that you will get that dream job of being a writer for the NY Times right off that bat. You might not even get a job writing at all.

I just recently graduated with my Masters in Library Science and am working at a consulting firm, doing research for universities. While I enjoy the people that I work with, and it helps pay the bills, I can’t say that I am really, truly happy with what I do.

But you know what?

I’m not giving up.

We all have to go through “those” jobs sometimes before we get the opportunity to do what we really want to do but that doesn’t mean that you will be stuck filing papers or waiting tables forever.

Be persistent.

And have faith.

Because you are smart, creative, and have a really bright future ahead of you.

Now what are you waiting for?! Go out there and show your potential future boss who’s, uh, boss! :)

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