1. The Rabbit That Changed My Life.
2. Isn't That For Old People?
3. My Hero in Duty Boots.
4. My Big, Red Dog.
5. My Kind of Paradise.
6. Let Me Tell You Something About People.
7. In Walks My Knight in Shining...Baseball Pants?
8. A Month in the Hell Hut.
9. Stunt Groups, Pom Poms, and Nepotism.
10. Oh, So That Wasn't Just Gas?

CHAPER 5: My Kind Of Paradise.

My life is comfortably chaotic 85% of the time; the other 15% reaches the ridiculously tumultuous level. Uncle Mike and Aunt Kathy’s house has always been the one place I could just sink into the wallwork and embrace everything proceeding to happen before my eyes.
Summer is a special time at the Antles’ house; all of the nieces, nephews, & grandkids are out of school, which means the in ground pool with a built in diving board is habitually in use. On the first hot June day in 2010, I hopped in my trusty Grand Am, and continued to brave the dust clouds swarming into the windows on the backroads to their house. Upon arrival, I took note of four additional cars: #1 – Heather and Derrick’s, which would mean the attendance of their two children, Connor and Michaela, joined by their scatter-brained, frothy mouthed yellow lab, Jack. #2 – The Sisters, which entails my grandma and her sister, Aunt Jo, meaning I would leave stuffed like a roast pig. #3 – Aunt Lynne: who would also have Jack and Josh, her grandsons, on board. And, lastly, #4 – Jason: with the princesses of all grandchildren, Sadie Lee. Here we go.
The afternoon consisted of switching between a floating raft and the reclining lawnchair on the patio, due to the persistant splashing from the shallow end of the pool. Aunt Kathy, completely oblivious to the happenings of the children, turned an infuriatingly perfect shade of golden bronze, as I continued to work on my burn. Uncle Mike, snoozing under the umbrella, the Bud Light in his hand easing closer to capsizing, enjoyed the crisp breeze and the Beatles leaking softly through the outside speakers cleverly disguised as rocks. Then, of course, Meemo and Aunt Jo pretend like they weren’t falling asleep in the shade, after successfully administering enough food to feed an army. All the while, five shrieking kids have a fun-filled day in the sun.
Kids screaming, Beatles playing, full stomach, and the warm feeling of both the sun and being with such a loving, crazy family makes for memories I’ll never forget. A day at the spa could not be comparable to the revitalization I get from spending a sunny day at the pool, surrounded by my batty family.

CHAPTER 4: My Big, Red Dog.

I was four when we brought home the little, red, slobbering ball of fluff. At the time, my life revolved around Disney princesses, sunshine, and any cartoon that happened to be on TV, especially Clifford the Big Red Dog. Which is exactly why my new, two month old golden retriever received the name Clifford; Cliffy, for short.
As with most new puppies, most of our family’s belongings were either chewed or torn to pieces. I could deal with some toys being destroyed, but when he got hold of Bunnie, oh lord. He proceeded to eat half of my dearest stuffed animal’s ear off, from which I’m still emotionally scarred. That poor, clueless puppy didn’t get a single pet from me for months, being the oddly stubborn little girl I was, but I was eventually able to move on….grudgingly. He developed quite a taste for entire loaves of bread, and whole pizzas. He became the only golden retriever I’ve ever heard of that was able to jump entirely on the counter, grab food, run back to his pillow, stuff the evidence underneath and succeed in hiding it for days, until the smell finally gave him away. Through all of our fruitless attempts to break him of this habit, including mousetraps on the edge of the counters, shock collars, dad yelling until he was blue in the face, his determination never broke, which was reason enough for us to give up.
Throughout the years, we both got older, him, an old man, and myself a teenager. He became less like the uncontrollable, Bunnie’s ear-eating puppy and more like a grouchy old man, but it just made him even that more loveable. The enthusiasm you were greeted with was ceaseless, the love coming off of him in tangible amounts, every day. It’s amazing how such a slobbery, smelly, trouble-making creature can bring such joy into your life.
At the astounding age of fifteen, unheard of for his breed, we had to make the hardest decision I think my family and I have ever had to make. Clifford had so much arthritis, he couldn’t get up off the floor anymore, but when he stopped having an interest in food, his one great passion in life, we knew it was time to put him to sleep. He died with his whole family around him, telling him how wonderful he was and how much we will always love him; which is exactly the way I would want to go.
My big red dog will always claim the huge section of my heart that has always belonged to him. He is always in the back of my mind, and certainly always carried in my heart, never to be replaced. No puppy will ever have the capabilities to be the next Clifford, but we’ve been able to make room in our hearts next to Clifford’s spot for our one-year-old, one hundred, twenty-five pound and still growing English Mastiff, Layla. It’s a whole new ballgame.

Nature shows never cease to fascinate me, especially watching people going to great lengths just to survive, like drinking their own pee, or sawing off a limb. Although admirable in a dramatically immoral way, a level of my subconscience wishes I was cunning enough to know those random but useful survival tips. Alas, i do not. I would be content with withering away to nothing or freezing to death in a blizzard, as opposed to drinking bodily fluids or mutilating myself. At least it would be a morbidly romantic ending; I picture it going something like this: "Teenage girl meets untimely demise in the great wilderness, starving to death and subsequently got carried off by wolves, but not before she left her final words carved in a tree trunk: I love you, mom, please disregard any contraban you might find in the cowboyboots at the back of my closet; none of it's mine, I swear." (HYPERBOLE.)

The heavy, iron doors clanking open and shut vibrate my eardrums, and the musty smell of damp decay and unbathed women cascade through my nostrils, keeping the impending sense of hopelessness locked up tight in my heart. (IMAGERY.) Food being the one true love of my life, it seems fitting to make this decision as the final choice of my doomed soul. When asked this question, my mind made itself up before I had to even think about it. Meemo's homemade, perfectly crisp fried chicken, accompanied by the artfully crunchy-sweet coleslaw and finished off with the coma-inducing banana cream pie. Any human being's life would be complete with this dinner that can only be described as what love tastes like.

Second chance. Oh, you mean that thing that happens EVERY DAY? That thing that has never quite found a happy medium, either being given out too much, or not enough? Surely you mean that thing that can make or break someone when they do something wrong, like every human being does? (ALLITERATION: THAT THING). Second chances in my opinion are deserved in most cases. It's the third, fourth, and so on that you have to worry about. Mistakes are inevitable, just like blinking; so cut someone some slack.

There she sits. My beautifully worn-out 2000 white grand am, adorned with a small flower bow on her steering wheel. Peering over the driveway like a queen criticizing her subjects. Even though the squeeking that escapes the mysteries of under your hood sounds eerily like a lobster being boiled alive when i turn on your ignition, there could not be a better fit for me in the automobile department.(SIMILE.) You deal with all my driving flaws like a trooper, and don't complain too much about me blasting music through your speakers at an unbelievable volume. (PERSONIFICATION) For everything you do for me, i cannot thank you enough, madnarg.

Patience is a virtue. Mild-tempers are smiled upon. Unfortunately, I possess neither of those traits. Trying to contain my hot temper, and making me be patient at all times is like shoving a lit bottle rocket up someone's rear end and hoping for the best. My opinions are well known, my loved ones aren't messed with, and i tend to take care of things myself in a timely manner, i'm sorry if that doesn't agree with you.

Peoria, Illinois; located smack dab in the middle of Illinois. Not as famous as Chicago, and not as unheard of as that little speck called Glasford. On February 27, 1993, OSF hospital was graced with the arrival of Alexis Nicole Johnson; that'll be on a plaque someday.

Happy. All that I ask is that when I grow up, I'm happy. Whether that is having an awesome career, starting a big, crazy family, or living in a box on the riverfront, I don't really care. So long as I'm surrounded by my loved ones, and my heart is content, what I am, or what i'm doing, makes absolutely no difference to me.

The one who knows me best; the one I communicate with just a single look. Trying to convince someone that you have the very best of the pick of best friends, is like trying to convince someone water is black, so all that I will say is that, my best friend is the perfect fit for ME. They are the one person who make you feel like you're not such a freak in this wonderfully chaotic world. You've got someone right there who may not agree with you on all things, but is supportive, and stands behind you one hundred percent. She is the fat kid to my cake, I really don't know what I'd do without ya, girl.

The off-kilter pecking of keyboard keys is incessant, along with josh yelling at his computer game that he will unfortunately never be able to win, despite his best attempts, fill my ears. The usual weird conversations between Brandon and Ms. Kilgus, followed by the giggling of miss Molli Bevill are like constant white noise. The relentless clicking of mice picking at my brain like nails on a chalkboard make me want to throw each and every one of those pesky devices against the paint-chipped walls.

Energy drinks and I have a very odd companionship. The taste being one of my minor addictions, i can't completely control my consumption of them, which wouldn't be a problem if they didn't make me jumpy as a squirrel. So, having consumed a "Loaded Cherry Nos" this morning, my nerves are on end, and I feel as though I could run a marathon right now. I feel slighty embarrassed that my legs bouncing is shaking the entire row of computers, resulting in several annoyed looks pointed in my direction.

MATTHEW LEIGH ANDREWS, more commonly known as Matt.

BIOGRAPHY: Born and raised near the sweet georgia peach trees, where the southern drawl rolls casually off peoples' tongues, and hopsitality is an over abundance. Never a spiteful thing to say to anyone, and always the first to volunteer his help, Matt is loved throughout this small, lazy town. Losing his daddy at age five, Matt had to grow up real quick, taking full responsibility for his mama and little sister, Petunia Lee. Joshua Michaels is the one person you'll never see Matt without, been best friends since the first grade, you'll often see their matching white pickup trucks parked neatly in the driveway of Matt's classic, white plantation home.

AGE: 18

HEIGHT: 6'5"

WEIGHT: 185.

BODY TYPE: Hasn't had an ounce of fat on him a day in his life, but he sure knows how to enjoy some good home-made cooking.

FACE TYPE: Strong jaw, soft eyes, and a kind smile.

COMPLEXION: Always sports a tan that beach junkies would be jealous of, never without a slight sunburn on the nose, and subtle red freckles cover his nose and cheeks.

EYES: Warm, melted chocolate eyes that see right to your core. Soft and kind, these eyes have the ability to make anyone feel like the most important person in the world.

HAIR: mud-brown, a mix between clean-cut and slightly messy.

CLOTHING STYLE: working jeans, worn in t-shirts, and tattered work boots. On a night out he'll break out the John Deer belt buckle, cowboy hat and nice flannel shirt.

SPEAKING STYLE: Lazy, lilting speech, can talk about anything.

GENERAL DEMEANOR: Open and relaxed, welcoming and kind.

CAREER: farmer

PREJUDICES: alcoholics, seeing as how that's how he lost his dad.

BEST QUALITIES: inviting smile, extroverted personality, kind eyes, and welcoming demeanor.

WORST QUALITIES: over works himself, puts others first at all times, and overprotective.

WEAKNESSES: his mama and sister.

HOBBIES: Horseback riding, relaxing in his cot.

TALENTS: excellent cook, good at building things.