Migraines & Me: A lifetime of learning and now, some reprieve

Migraines & Me: A lifetime of learning and now, some reprieve

As a long-time (and I mean this relatively speaking as I have suffered various types of headaches and migraines over the course of my entire life’s memory), chronic sufferer of headaches and migraines, I have had a lifetime of trial and error when it comes to attempting to either rid or avoid a headache and/or migraine. The first head-splitting headache I vividly remember (and there are many remembered headaches) was sometime in the first or second grade when my family attended Korean Heritage Camp (a long weekend filled with activities that introduce adopted Korean children to Korean culture and tradition). Prone to nosebleeds, I got a pretty gnarly nosebleed over the course of the long weekend. Immediately after the nosebleed (which lasted an inordinately long time as I also remember my parents not being sure what to do after I my nose kept bleeding after thirty minutes), I became ill with a nasty headache. The rest of the weekend was basically ruined. This was probably not my first headache, as my mother has always seemed keenly aware of any situation that may give me a headache (even to this day), but it is my first memorable headache. Another nasty migraine happened (again) over the course of a long weekend. My partner and I took a little trip to a small beach town, and by the time we rolled back to our hotel after an afternoon about town, I came down with a migraine that knocked me out through the entirety of the only full day we had. Luckily, I eased out of it by the time the final morning rolled around and we had a nice day and afternoon, but I basically ruined another trip, another weekend, another event. I do not know exactly how many situations my headaches and migraines have ruined for other people, but to the people in my life who have felt short-changed, I promise you, I’ve never once used a headache or migraine as an excuse to get out of anything. I would never inflict so much bad mojo onto myself.

As far as the techniques I’ve tried, not a single one has worked to quell or dispel a migraine, that is, until recently. At the lively age of somewhere in my early thirties, I have finally come to the conclusion that I have done everything completely wrong.

In the past, I’ve always opted for soothing sounds, dark rooms, sleep. My typical migraine strategy included (but was/is not limited to): putting some sort of dense carb into my stomach so that I could down two generic Excedrin with as much water as I could tolerate, and then off to bed I’d go until the generic Excedrin kicked in or didn’t. This strategy never helped to quell the discomfort, and so I kept on living in misery, hoping that this time, it’ll work. It never did. Not once.

Then, I learned that migraines often times come with some sort of aura (a sort of signal or warning sign that a migraine is coming on), and so, as soon as I realized that I had a migraine, I attempted to remember if anything felt strange or if any sense felt disturbed. After nearly a year of paying attention, I’ve found that my aura is a combination of sensitivity to sound and screens. I’ve always been sensitive to light while in the throws of a migraine, but (after my intentional determination to find out what my aura was [if I had one]), I became aware of the specific misery that the light from screens (my phone, computer, television) exasperated the problem in the form of nausea. Daylight and lamp light disrupts me in a way that creates a sharper head pain during a migraine. Screen light specifically made me nauseous, and after an hour or so of feeling sick to my stomach, I inevitably get beaten down with a migraine. This was the first big clue.

The second big clue was when my migraine cleared. I continued to notice that my ears always popped shortly before feeling that sweet sweet relief of the pain dissipating. That made me pay attention to my hearing just before coming down with a migraine. What I noticed was that my ears sort of ached like my ear drums were being stretched. And then I noticed that I would hear a bit of static off and on for a while before a full-blown migraine rose up.

With this new found knowledge and familiarity with my aura theories, I made a few attempts to preemptively strike against my migraines.* My first attempts went well. As soon as I felt as though my aura had appeared (either through static in the ears or nauseated sensitivity to screens), I would go through the routine: down a carb, two generic Excedrin, and as much water as I could tolerate. Then I would go to bed and try to sleep. This worked pretty well, but taking a nap in the middle of the day is not very convenient. Nevertheless, I stuck to the strategy, and it worked most of the time.

And then, I had an epiphany, What if I force myself to stretch? I stretch regularly because it’s just something I do and have always done. But now, I had to stretch for the good of my neck. One of the causes of my migraines is my neck injury. While working as an alterationist, my boss accidentally dropped a steel bar onto my head. It’s a long story that did not end well for my career at his store, but I am generally quite well. All-in-all, my neck needs to stay loose or I will get a headache. Thus, I realized that instead of going to bed and lying completely still, I thought that I’d force myself to stretch.

The first time I tried my new strategy, it worked really well. It worked so well, I couldn’t even believe it. So, now, as soon as I sense all of the signals of my aura, I immediately go through the same routine as before except now, instead of going to bed, I specifically get moving, despite how I feel. If a migraine arises, there’s not much I can do but pass out in bed, BUT, if I feel well enough to walk around, I get up and stretch on my yoga mat, go for a walk, and generally try to stay active while actively avoiding screens. I’ll throw on some tinted shades as well. I’ve also realized that screens, in general, really bother me and so, use the night light at all times, on the darkest setting, and now, I’m going so far as to get a pair of rose-tinted glasses, specifically for screen-time, as screen-time cannot be avoided in my line of work at this point in time.

Honestly, I am not even sure why I am so compelled to write about my migraines and newly-found strategy that actually works as I am sitting here now after deploying this strategy this morning after realizing that checking in on my friends on insta this morning was making me nauseous. Yay! I know that there are many people who suffer from migraines, and so, I am sharing my successful strategy with hopes that perhaps someone out there will find it helpful. I know that all migraines are unique, and so, you will probably have to come up with your own solution, and so, I suppose my real point is that you need to figure out what works for you, and if you still have not found a solution, keep trying. I’ve been suffering my entire life, and it took years to learn about my own body. In the meantime, I hope my strategy is a winning strategy for all of my future migraines, but I am realistic. There’s a chance that a simple change in water will affect my headache frequency, but for now, I am hopeful and ecstatic that my newest strategy is the first strategy to work successfully.

Until next time.


 

*I’m realizing now that I have not given you a sense of how many migraines I fight off at any given time. On average, I suffer one and a half migraines per month. They are, presumably (by both myself and my physician), related to my menstrual cycle. Every once in a while, maybe one or twice a year, I will suffer a stress-related migraine, and about once or twice a year, I will suffer a physical-tightness-related migraine due to issues that are beyond the scope of this here piece.

This Not That

This Not That

|how.odious| Year Two: DAY ONE HUNDRED TWELVE

2017 February 10 [Friday]

Friday Feature

I’m not entirely sure when my love for notebooks grew into a full-on obsession, but it did, and I am. Thus, for today’s post, a little something different. I spent most of the day photographing every single notebook currently in my apartment. It was a nightmare, and that’s enough about that. Instead of going through and talking about how I shot them and why, I will simply get started.

These are the notebooks that traveled with me from The States to South Korea when we first moved here in 2013:

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[pictured above]

Mustard Pattern: Mead, spiral-bound, college-ruled, lined notebook

Puce: Moleskin, book-bound, single-subject, lined notebook

Cerulean Pattern: [brand unknown], book-bound, watercolor paper pad

Crimson: Moleskin, book-bound, strapped, lined notebook

These are all notebooks that either house important information I might need in case of emergency and other such data or are notebooks that have particular writings I thought would be of interest to me in the future. Thus, they traveled all the way from my apartment in Denver, Colorado, USA, when we moved to South Korea. Of course there are many other notebooks that are in storage at my parents’ house, but these were the ones I thought were the most important. So far, only one has proved its worth. We live and we learn, as the saying goes, yes?

These are the notebooks used through 2014:

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[pictured above]

Denim Panda Graphic: Design Lab, mid-fold, lined notebook

Red Orange: Morning Glory, A4, spiral-bound, lined notebook

White Text: Morning Glory, A4, spiral-bound, lined notebook

Lime Mustache Graphic: Pinkfoot, three-quarter-sized, spiral-bound, lined notebook

Wine Text: Morning Glory, half-sized, book-bound, lined notebook

All of these notebooks were purchased during the end of 2013 and through 2014 in Daegu, South Korea. I have always loved notebooks, for as long as I can remember. I have also been quite obsessed with them, but when we moved here to Korea, the obsession became quite real. I’m not entirely sure how many notebooks I bought during our year in Daegu, but these are the ones that survived the trip to Seoul. They were all used for writing, with the exception of the tiny-panda graphic. The panda graphic was used to document the books I read in citation format. My favorite of them is the purple/wine book-style notebook with the text that reads,

Write down your wishes … This magic book is gonna help you

Secret Magic Spells Purebook

Precious memories

Linenote, Idea, Memo, Daybook

Since 1981

Tradition Notebook

Bah … hahahahaha! I love it! I do not believe that any of them were written in once we moved to Seoul in late 2014, but I’m too lazy to flip through each page to find out. I would consider all of them except for the White Text to be full.

These are my used notebooks through 2015:

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[pictured above]

Kelly Green: Ibis, three-quarter-sized, spiral-bound, strapped, lined notebook

Cobalt: Ibis, reporter-style, spiral-bound, lined notebook

Navy: Godo Diary, half-sized, book-bound, year/month calendar, full-page day-timer

2015 was the first year I decided to use a daily scheduler thingy, and I didn’t really use it. I was not particularly fond of this half-sized style, so I did not end up using it much. I liked the idea of it, however. Also, as you can see, I did not do much writing in notebooks because 2015 was actually the year I did ninety-percent of the writing for my first novel, Red & Blue Make Green. Thus, these notebooks were mostly used as diaries and as a place to jot down things. No long-form writing was really done in them. There are a few ideas sprinkled throughout, but it’s mostly poetry, which is kind of odd, and daily goings-on.

These are the notebooks I used in 2016 [some will show up again in the “current notebooks” section, but they were first scrawled in during 2016]:

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[pictured above]

Charcoal 2016: Everyday 25, full-sized, book-bound, year/month calendar, full-page day-timer

Cherry: Ibis, quarter-sized, spiral-bound, strapped, lined notebook

Silver: Paperpack, quarter-sized, book-bound, “1-Paragraph” per page diary

Teal Sushi Graphic: Waru Waru, minature, spiral-bound, lined notebook

Beige Sushi Graphic: Waru Waru, A4, spiral-bound, newsprint, blank notebook

White Sushi Graphic: Waru Waru, A5, mid-fold, lined notebook

I’ve listed the notebooks of 2016 in chronological purchasing order so that I may easily refer to the last two Waru Waru notebooks as also being currently used now in 2017. No matter, I opted for a larger day-timer in 2016 and immediately fell in love with the idea. I didn’t really use that day-timer as a scheduler. Instead, I liked the idea of already-dated pages! So, it’s just a notebook with the dates already written in. It worked out quite perfectly, actually. The red spiral was our trip-planning notebook for our 2016 ETMC Travels: Vancouver Edition. Thus, it holds all of the pertinent information needed for international travel, as well as other such info for the trip itself. Upon our return, the notebook doubled as a scrapbook after I glued in all of the receipts and fun mementos from the trip. The totally fucking awesome silver “1-Paragraph” diary is, by far, my favorite notebook purchase of all time and will be the notebook of choice for every forthcoming trip I ever take. The concept is simple, there’s a date line at the top and then only enough lines to write one or two sentences. It was so incredible to use on a vacation. I mean, no one really wants to sit and journal every single second of the day while you’re trying to enjoy each day. But you can easily jot down a quick note, no problem. Hence, the totally fucking awesome-ness of the silver diary. I absolutely love it! I can’t wait to get my new one for our 2017 ETMC Travels: Sydney Edition! The small blue sushi notebook holds all the little notes from editing my first novel. And that’s probably enough about that. The large beige sushi notebook holds all of the secrets for my fiction writing. The small white sushi notebook holds all sorts of gibberish that doesn’t really need to be remembered for an extended period of time. It’s sort of a catchall for things like Instagram captions, yoga challenges [where I write the name of each day’s posture, etc.], a running list of numbers that coordinate with pictures I want to keep while filtering through my SD card after a shoot, and other such nonsense that doesn’t need to be remembered and documented for all time. Some things get transferred into more permanent notebooks, but most of the stuff that is written in this type of notebook, for which I find this particular notebook to be perfect, is frivolous.

Now, to the good stuff: The entirety of my current Collector’s Notebook collection, i.e. notebooks I’ve either bought or have been given but have no intention of using. Here they are:

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I don’t really feel like there’s a need to go into great detail about each since I don’t use them. I realized a while ago that I had a little problem, and that problem is as follows: I have a really hard time using new notebooks. Obviously, I am more than capable of using a new notebook, but sometimes, when I buy a new notebook for myself and don’t exactly have a perfect use for it, I just won’t use it. Other times, the notebook itself is just too damn gorgeous to sully with my idiocy. Thus, I had a revelation! Maybe I can just be a notebook collector, duh! And so, I am. Case in point, this thing of beauty:

notebook-26

This notebook was a gift from my lifemate on my most recent birthday, AND it is the impetus behind this post. I love this notebook so much that I cannot ever use it. There’s no way I will ever use this beautiful piece of bound paper. I mean, it’s just absolutely stunning. And then, this was when this became not about that. I thought that this post was just going to be a simple photo essay of my notebooks past and present [since 2014], but then it sort of dawned on me that this is a full on documentation of my relationship with myself as a writer. Really, though, I should’ve also printed off all of my digital documents and had them bound by month and year so that I could get a seriously good look at all that I’ve written since moving to Korea.*sigh* I’m not entirely sure what my relationship with myself as a writer truly is, but now that I’ve spent so much fucking time photographing every single notebook in my life over the past three years, I am realizing that maybe it’s time for a nice, long heart-to-heart with myself about my “career” as a writer. Ugh. In the meantime, I bet you’re dying to see my currently-being-used notebooks! I will warn you, though, the notebooks of my present are quite serious compared to those of my immediate past.

Nevertheless, here is a glimpse into my current notebook situation [there are a few notebooks that I’ve intentionally left out because I just can’t get myself to share all of myself, so there’s that]:

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[pictured above]

Aquamarine 2017: Morning Glory, full-sized, book-bound, year/month calendar, full-page day-timer

Black & White: Oxford, study-style, vertical, book-bound, lined, mathematics notebook

Mint Shrimp Graphic: Ibis, miniature, reporter-style, lined notebook

Blush Sushi Graphic: Waru Waru, A5, mid-fold, lined notebook

White Legal: Oxford, A5, lined legal pad

Yellow Legal: Oxford, A4, lined legal pad

Beige Sushi Graphic: Waru Waru, A4, spiral-bound, newsprint, blank notebook

White Sushi Graphic: Waru Waru, A5, mid-fold, lined notebook

My 2017 day-timer is fully used for scheduling my day-to-day to-do list, and it also doubles as a predated notebook. I schedule each week on Sunday nights. I use the monthly calendar to write the actual total of each fiction-writing quota, i.e. if I have a 6000 word quota for a particular metric week [ten days], I’ll write the actual word count, say, 6340, and I keep track of what number each |how.odious| day actually is. The tall, skinny, black notebook is something about which I don’t really want to share because maybe I just don’t want to share my best ideas. So, I’ll just leave it at that. The mint shrimp, reporter-style notebook is used for meal planning and grocery-list making. The notebook itself will soon have no paper in it since the lists are torn out when we go grocery shopping. The blush sushi graphic is a replacement notebook for the white sushi graphic and will most likely be used in a very similar way. The white legal pad is for scratching out shit for nonfiction writing. I use it to take notes while reading research papers and whatnot. It’s also the first place I write down citation info before they are entered into my official references document. The yellow legal pad serves as a place where I note each phase of my fiction writing. I use it as a place to document a sort of timeline to help keep my shit together while writing fiction. I do not use the legal pad for writing ideas or any sort of writing. It’s a mere notepad whereupon notes about my own fiction collect for organizational purposes. Unlike the yellow legal pad, the beige sushi newsprint pad is where the fiction magic happens; new ideas are almost strictly written into it. I also use this pad as a place to work through sentence structure if I’m having a problem with how an idea is coming together. AND … I’ve already discussed how I use the white sushi graphic.

Finally, we’ve come to the end of this truly banal post. I hope, if anything, my notebook collection is somewhat interesting to you. If not, I guess whatever you think doesn’t really matter. So … yea. Thanks for reading! Catch ya later with [hopefully] something much more interesting next Friday. Laters.

Best. Weekend. Ever.

Best. Weekend. Ever.

|how.odious| Year Two: DAY FIFTY-TWO

2016 December 12 [Monday]

 

Here we are now at the final installment of the Mundane Monday Memoir! I am truly going to practice the writing restraint that these posts are meant to fulfill and stick to the program as I sit at my computer with the movie Wreck It Ralph pumping in the background just like it does every single morning these days. If you’ve seen the movie, perhaps you understand my obsession.

Let’s see … this past week has been quite productive as far as physical exertion is concerned. I managed to workout seven days in a row last week through alternating days of circuits, runs and the yoga [of course, this includes last Sunday, which technically isn’t part of “last week,” but the point is merely that I managed to get my butt off the couch seven days in a row with yesterday being the only day off during the past eight days, etc., it doesn’t matter]. Anyhow, I plan to continue this regimen until I just quit, as usual. I don’t have any physical #goals, per se, regarding my size or abilities, except to feel really great physically. I can do the pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, dips, leg-lifts, &c., so it’s more that I just want to be able to keep doing them, ya know? Okay, enough about that.

As far as the non-exercise-related events of last week, there’s not much to tell about what went on during the week. The weekend, nevertheless, is an entirely different story. On Saturday, the lifemate and I pounded out a quick circuit through the early afternoon and then traveled downtown to an area called Anguk to eat a croissant/waffle [a waffle made out of croissant dough] and a burger at our favorite burger joint. The croissant/waffle place was closed, and we’re not sure if it’s closed forever or was just closed for the day. Through grave disappointment, the lifemate impulsively dropped into, luckily for me, a delicious phở place. It was the type of place we’ve been scouring the city for for years … cheap but delicious phở. The phở itself was absolutely no frills, and he also ordered the stir-fried phở, which was absolutely amazing. Both dishes combined cost about 7,000 KRW. Awesome.

Holy ephing ay, I think I’m definitely getting a fucking cold. Dammit!

After the croissant/waffle tragedy and phở excitement, we desired to continue our grazing and headed toward the burger joint. On the way there, I found the cutest boutique ever where I picked up a few new pins [to be pictured at a later date because I’m searching for the perfect new little backpack, and once I find it, I’ll pin the pins to it and post a pic then] and picked out a notebook that the lifemate bought me for my imminent birthday. Then we continued on toward burgers. To our dismay, the burger joint was closed … the forever kind. There was already another restaurant up and running in its place. Boo! Thus, we marched on toward Insadong where we thoroughly enjoy a beverage stall that sells liquor pouches. No liquor pouches. We were 0-3 at this point but were still having a great night. With one last thing on our to-do list for this area of town we hoped with all our might that the lady from whom we buy our incense cones and sticks was still open. She was. So then, we trekked on over to 광장시장 [Gwangjang Market] and grabbed our favorite little snack, 빈대떡 [mung bean pancake].

I wanted the good times to keep on rolling, so we walked toward Dongdaemun. Then, I still wanted the good times to roll so we walked onward toward Hyehwa, and it was totally worth it. There, we found a different liquor pouch man! How fortuitous! We each got one, walked a few Christmasy streets and then finally hopped on the oh-so-crowded subway back home. Phew. Twas a long, cold, oddly satisfying Saturday night.

Sunday was equally satisfying as I had my English student, SJ, over for a day of funtivities. Her parents dropped her off here at our [my and my lifemate’s] apartment at exactly noon. We played cards, Rummikub, and a plethora of video games. SJ and the lifemate took turns playing piano while I cooked poached eggs and hollandaise. SJ also ate her first avocado ever [she sort of liked it but was surprised when it wasn’t sweet … haha]. Later, I taught her how to make an apple pie for her dad [I made her family a few apple pies last year after SJ’s mom gifted me a huge bag of apples from SJ’s mom’s mother’s apple trees, and apparently, SJ’s father loved the pies so much he talked about it all the time, so I thought it would be fun to teach SJ so that she could make them anytime for her dad].

sjfamilydinnerupload12-16
*caption below

Around 1800 we all caught the bus together toward SJ’s house where we met up with the rest of her family [dad, mom and grandma] so that we could all go to dinner together. SJ’s dad picked an incredible duck restaurant that basically blew my mind. After dinner, SJ’s father drove us all the way back home, which was so fortunate because both the lifemate and I were so full we weren’t sure how a bus ride would go. We were home around 2200, and I passed out around 0130. What a weekend.

Now that it’s Monday again, it’s back to the daily grind of workouts, writing, and wonderments. No-Writing November comes to an end tomorrow, which means I’m back in writing mode starting on Wednesday. The lifemate bought me a new congrats-for-completing-my-first-book-but-now-it’s-time-to-get-your-ass-back-to-work-and-finish-book-two computer, which ought to arrive on or before Wednesday, so there’s that, at least, to look forward to. I will also be officially back to my M/F blog posting routine as well. Thus, you will hear from me again here on Friday! Until then …


*photo by: 정소정의 엄마

Treasure Troll

Treasure Troll

|how.odious| Year Two: Day 024

2016 November 13 [Monday]

Welcome to the second entry of the six-part Mundane Monday Memoir. Oh boy, do I have a lot to say! Unfortunately, I am not allowed to write about any of the things I’d like to write about here, today, on my computer. Thus, I shall keep it mundane, as it were, and merely write about the fucking day-to-day of the past week. Disregarding the whole Election-Day outcome in the United States of America, I basically spent the entirety of last week arguing with various members of my family. One member said something like this, “I won’t be bullied by ‘open-mindedness’.” Another member consistently took the stance that I’m a real-life troll all while constantly considering his passive-aggressive nit-picking, substance-less aggression as, “Look. I’m just trying to have a conversation.” The latter is something about which I will write in further depth, but alas, I am not currently allowed to really share these sorts of meaningful insights at this time. Ugh.

Needless to say, although I am going to say it now, it’s been a tough, emotional week trying to “deal with” these particular people in my life. And then this thought sort of hit me when I pondered why these interactions are so difficult right now. Have you ever read the book Spark by John J. Ratey, M.D.? Well, in that book, the author’s general theory is that exercise and physical movement is what stimulates the brain into essentially being “smarter.” Of course, I’m giving a very generalized overview of the general impression I gained from the book as a mere reader of it. Anyway, shit. Okay, fuck it. I’m going to continue despite repeatedly breaking my rule(s). Okay, so anyway, what I took away from that book is a sort of less-physical idea of movement. If you’re not growing, per se, interpersonally, mentally, emotionally, &c., then you’re sort of also not stimulating brain growth. I sort of see Ratey’s idea of “movement” as change and growth, not necessarily in a physical sense. Thus, when I look at the two people with whom I have had recent conflict, I’m not really surprised that we would butt heads so ferociously. The gap between where their heads are at and where my head is at grows exponentially, especially when considering that we don’t even get to see each other that often.

As I change, my family is not seeing this change in real time or even at consistent intervals. As I expect that my family will change and be different people every time I see them, I am shocked by the lack of change. Sure, I see how ridiculously conceited and egotistical this all sounds, cause I’m basically stating that I think I’m growing and getting smarter while revealing that I think that some people in my life are not only dumb but also, getting dumber. But yea, that is what I’m saying. Even though I feel this way, it doesn’t mean I act this way. I’m sure the two with whom the conflicts arose think that I’m a fucking bitch, and they wouldn’t be wrong. Sure, I could be “nicer,” but where does nice get you? Ha! Nowhere, that’s where. Being smart also rarely gets you anywhere. My point is simply that when dealing with family, love is obviously off the table. Obviously I will continue to love you no matter what. What remains then are two options. Your options become enabling through lies or telling the truth.

With the first conflict, I opted for telling the truth, and with the second, I became a “Yes Man.” Thinking back on it now, I probably should have reversed my approach because the person to whom I lied is dealing with a much larger truth. Ugh. I say it all the time, and it’s relevance definitely stings, but you can’t know anything until you know it.

Back to the mundanity, the rest of the week was spent with a family member who came to visit. I did my damnedest to put on a good time, but this person spent 80% of our time together either on his phone or thinking about what he should do with his phone. So, the apathy was palpable. On Saturday, I threw a party to prove to this person that I’m not some anti-social hipster who thinks she’s better off with no friends, and my guest seemed put out, hardly participated, and seemed as though he’d rather be off in some dark corner on his phone rather than having to be so present amongst people who like me. Sunday my guest departed back to his current place of temporary residence. The rest of Sunday was spent recovering from the emotional strain and the physical discomfort of hosting a guest and hosting a long party full of libations and socializing. *sigh. For the record, I had a great time at my party. It was supposed to go from around 1800 to 2400, but no one even started leaving until 0130, and I wasn’t in bed until about 0330. Our [the lifemate and my] apartment was a huge fucking mess, but the lifemate assured me that that’s how he knows everyone had a great time. I hope everyone had a great time!

As a final word, I’ll say, yes some people are really predictable, but when someone surprises you for the better, make that person your friend.