A Smashing Blog to Read

Because the call me Smashley

True or False: Introvert edition — February 8, 2015

True or False: Introvert edition

My husband busts on me a little bit about being introverted, but mostly because he, like many people, doesn’t quite understand what introversion is and isn’t. I can’t blame anybody for that, because I didn’t quite get it myself until I was in my mid-20s.

When I take personality tests, I rate right down the middle between introvert and extrovert. I suppose I’m an outgoing introvert. For people who don’t really get what “introvert” means, an “outgoing introvert” must sound like a contradiction, which is the first FALSE I can think of. Being an introvert means that I recharge my battery being alone, or being alone with one person who I’m close enough to that we can either talk or not talk and feel comfortable. I can even recharge with a group of people like my close family or very close friends. Once I had breakfast at a busy restaurant with four friends and felt utterly rejuvenated: At the time I said to my friends that being with them felt like coming home.

I read an interesting article tonight about ways to love an introvert. I agree with a lot of it and would call those points true, but first I have to pick apart what I think is false. I mean, the second sentence is complete rubbish:

Where extroverts are social creatures, introverts are most certainly not.

The author wrote a sloppy introduction to an otherwise pretty spot-on article, and if I were his editor I would have red-flagged this and asked for clarification. Saying that extroverts are social and introverts are “most certainly not” is essentially saying that introverts are anti-social. FALSE. I am most certainly social and introverted. In some situations, I feel socially awkward, mostly because these days I worry about not meeting my husband’s expectations. I genuinely enjoy getting to know people; I’m very interested in knowing more about my people. One TRUE thing about the Lifehacker article, in which the author totally contradicts his statement I’ve quoted above is:

If you label introverts as [shy or anti-social], then you obviously don’t understand them …. Most introverts love to meet people. It’s just that while extroverts enjoy small talk, introverts would rather discuss deeper issues in a more intimate setting.

Last weekend, we went to a party … actually we went to two parties in a row! At the first party, I knew exactly four people — the hostess-slash-guest of honor, her husband, my husband, and a guy I’ve met once. At one point, the three guys took off to do something manly or carry heavy things, and I was left alone at a table with a youngster. She was pretty clearly feeling awkward, and I was sitting there telling myself, “You’re the adult, start talking to this kid! Why don’t you know what to say to her? It’s your responsibility to put this girl at ease. What should you say?? Think, think, think … how do you break the ice with an 8-year-old you’ve just met?” Eventually, I had the idea to bring up the universal topic of food! That broke the ice and we were soon friends, but those few minutes have lingered in my mind. With that in mind, I think the following is mostly TRUE:

Don’t leave them hanging at a social event.

Writing this has helped me realize so much about how I need to communicate with my husband! Yay! And I happily call one last point from the article very TRUE:

Explain how you perceive the world differently …. Introverts love to listen, so why don’t you tell us all about it? We would both benefit if we learned from each other.

At the party last weekend, the husband-of-honor told me that he holds back around me because I’m an introvert. FALSE. I’m not scared of people or different personalities or extroverts. I process internally, and perhaps to some slowly, but I still want to know you.

A Timeline of Insomnia — December 8, 2014

A Timeline of Insomnia

Sometimes I can’t sleep because I can’t slow my thoughts. Sometimes I can’t sleep when I’m sick or in pain. Most of the time when I can’t sleep, it’s because I’m worried or anxious. In a short span of time — say, the last four weeks — I’ve battled insomnia because of all of the above.

A few weeks ago
7:00 a.m.
My phone’s clock got a little messed up (OK, fine, I change the clock to sometimes to get more lives in Candy Crush), and I dreamt that I had fallen asleep on the couch around 11:00 p.m., and then got up an hour later and washed up and went to bed. My husband actually woke me up around 7:00 a.m. and told me to go to bed, but I thought it was about 4 a.m. When he woke me up later to tell me he made waffles, I thought it was about 9:30. He came in again at what I thought was 10:00, and I finally got up after 30 minutes of dozing. The reality was that I actually got up at 2:00 p.m. That’s when I discovered my crazy swollen face.

2:00 p.m.
After I showered, I tried to eat the waffle my husband made for breakfast. Eating was incredibly painful. My face was crazy swollen. I had no idea what was going on. I finally palpated the swollen area, and immediately I whispered and gestured to my husband that I had to see a doctor. I’d lost my voice several days earlier, so communication was painful, in more than one way. He called around to try for an appointment, and finally I suggested a clinic around the corner from us by way of handing him my iPhone with the clinic’s info pulled up. He called, and they were ready for us and less expensive than the triage clinic he’d called.

5:20 p.m.
The doc at the clinic suggested that I fill my prescriptions at a Target pharmacy because the most expensive meds were heavily discounted there. The first Target was closing 7 minutes after we arrived, but the pharmacist called around for us. My husband got us to the next Target in minutes, and I had three prescriptions in hand — plus a chai latte — by 5:20.

6:30 p.m.
At this point, I hadn’t really eaten all day and had tons of drugs to take. My pain was awful, I was scared by the diagnosis and sad and miserable. Keep in mind, I could not speak — my throat was so swollen that the doctor ordered me to not even whisper for a week. My husband picked up some tomato basil soup for me from our favorite Italian restaurant (he’s not a total saint; he got himself a giant thing of lasagna, too!). I took my first round of meds and naively settled down with my soup.

I took one sip of soup and burst into tears. The doctor told me I had a peritonsillar abscess, which meant nothing to me. But attempting to swallow a savory soup with lots of pepper and flavor and acid with a raw abscess felt like I was stabbed in the ear with a downward trajectory to the throat. It’s just an area that can’t be soothed. The reality of my condition began to settle on me.

I tried to eat a couple of things, but everything hurt. I was bawling in pain, made worse by the fact that crying made my throat and sinuses hurt even more. Messy, horrible pain. My husband made me some mashed potatoes, which I could swallow enough of to get some food in my stomach with all the medications. I knew that I had to eat enough to take the meds. I also knew that I had to take the meds to feel well enough to eat.

10:00 p.m.
I went to bed, but an hour later I got up and took some cough medicine. Although it helped with the cough, it didn’t help me sleep. The next three hours I mostly spent obsessing about my situation.

I went to bed again, but spent the next hour making mental notes of which med did what to make sure I always have the optimal combination in my system. I slept for about 10 minutes, but I woke up coughing.

At this point, I couldn’t keep my mind off of three things, which kept me awake: The searing pain of that little rib muscle that is only used to cough on my left side that was overused over the last week, the painful swelling in the right side of my face and neck — meaning that sleeping on either side was uncomfortable — and the ever-present song stuck in my head when I wake up. The song changes, but the fact that I always wake up with a song playing in my head does not.

The next three hours went something like this:

Dun dun dun dun, dun dun dundundundun fight you bruins bold,
Go Bears!
Dun dun something something green and gold,
Go Bears!
Dun dun da dun Is the second verse different from the first?
Go Bears!
Are the rhymes the same, or is
Go Bears!
It just the one verse over and over?
Da da da dun, dun dun dun dun dundun dun dun DUN!

(Here is how it actually goes:)

Yes, I woke up with my school’s fight song stuck in my head. With my alma mater on my brain, then I started composing responses to some of the nastier comments I read on Facebook about the whole Big 12 conference getting shut out of the college football playoffs. I saw a lot more vitriol than I care to consume, and part of me wanted to log on the next morning and come out swinging. So, in my mind, I retaliated in the same fashion that I replay a heated discussion or uncomfortable confrontation in my mind and get to say all the things I wish I would have said.

First on my mental list was to shut down the fan-bashing. With pointless, ill-conceived, and clearly an uneducated comment, an acquaintance of mine from high school took to Facebook to accuse the fans of the Big 12 for the conference’s “comical” out-of-conference games.

Thanks for the note, buddy! I never would have thought of that on my own. P.S. You watch too much ESPN.
Thanks for the note, buddy! I never would have thought of that on my own. P.S. You watch too much ESPN.

Because it’s us, the fans, who made the rule that disallows a conference championship, which then led to being force-fed a season-long “one true champion” campaign, only to have feckless conference leadership refuse to back any one team and present co-champions?! The fans are frustrated, and I’ve seen otherwise lovely people get nasty for all the world to see because of it. If I were the least bit confrontational, I’d share with this individual — who clearly watches too much ESPN and knows too little of the Big 12 fans and its conference rules — a more educated perspective, but I’m passive aggressive and take to my own blog, which no one will ever see. At least I can hopefully sleep better feeling vindicated to actually write it down instead of only obsessing about it instead of sleeping.

The next day
5:30 a.m.
More medicine, and then I checked my Twitter feed to distract myself from anxiety about the swelling in my throat that was beginning to impede my ability to breathe and swallow. I read the Our Daily Bears blog and checked the Baylor subreddit, too, because both are usually pretty chill, but I saw I accidentally read one TCU fan’s comment about how “unlikable” Baylor fans are for “storming the field after every win as if they didn’t expect to win.”

In these quiet morning hours, I mentally composed another confrontational message (again, I’m too non-confrontational to say these thoughts to the offender, but just passive aggressive enough to immortalize them for my own jollies on my blog). In calmer moments, I wonder: Shouldn’t other fans accept school traditions they don’t get? I mean, Texas A&M (with all due respect to my niece and many alumni friends) still observes 100 percent of their anti-University of Texas traditions, despite the fact that they will never play UT in any sport ever again. No one cranks about that except me giving my niece some fair natured teasing!

For the record, bitter old horney frog: We’re not “storming the field” like we didn’t expect to win, we’re observing our traditions. We begin the game with students on the field. We end the game with students and fans on the field. In my day, we went onto the field to pray with Coach Teaff and the football team after the teams play their school songs. Then the Golden Wave Band plays the Tennessee Waltz, which is really beautiful to hear on the field.

Before any other cranky horn frogs can bitch about us “storming the field” to hear an irrelevant song, let’s review some more facts. Baylor University was chartered by the Republic of Texas, those very folks who were grateful to and benefited from the volunteer army from the great state of Tennessee. We get to play the damn Tennessee Waltz to honor the volunteer army the same way we play the national anthem, so shut it. C’mon down to the field and give it a listen, because you will agree that it’s beautiful to hear.

Also, why so mean and bitter, horny toad?! The Baylor-TCU rivalry is long-standing, and to my mind, friendly. We invented homecoming for y’all, after all. Granted, traditions are SO MUCH MORE FUN to observe when you win. But you know that, too, horny frogs! You’re just as marginalized as Baylor is as small church school. Baylor and TCU have a lot in common, now more than ever. Let’s be friends and build the Big 12 up instead of tearing each other down.

Two rounds of meds in, the day is easier. My symptoms are reduced, but the pain is not. I sleep. I’m a slave to my next round of meds.

Twenty-five hours later
I’m more confident about what I can eat. Eventually, I sleep sitting up. Laying down is too uncomfortable.

I tried to sleep on a pillow, but it was too painful.

Eighteen hours later
The swelling has significantly reduced. The antibiotics are awful, but the peritonsillar abscess is definitely reduced. The Baylor fight song is finally gone from my mind, and I’m able to focus somewhat on other things.

I nap.

Later, I sleep again upright on the couch.

Three days without significant sleep. I don’t recommend it. From now on, I’m going to the doctor sooner instead of waiting because meds help. Sleep is crucial, and I’m grateful for the help that allowed all my healing sleep.

Twelve days of Christmas
Despite my illness, I dragged myself to stores to buy gifts for my husband. I wrapped them over several days. I had stocking stuffers, but honestly I was too sleep deprived and sick-tired for an all-out Christmas.

Once I felt better, I baked with the idea of distributing baked good to our families. Too bad I had no energy to pack or ship my precious baked goods to Jeff’s family. I didn’t factor that energy need into my plan to shower my husband’s family with lovingly made treats.

I was lucky that my family decided to celebrate our Christmas in the new year. I was super happy that my first married Christmas would be at home, alone, with my husband. His cousin’s family welcomed us on Christmas Eve, and sharing the evening with their whole family was wonderful before we attended a gorgeous candlelight service at church. We are incredibly blessed!

Happy new year
My husband had insomnia recently. I talked to him about anything happy I could think of until he finally drifted off. He’s a much better sleeper than I am, so it seems odd that he needed my help!

Although I’ve had a great deal of anxiety about getting laid off and getting married, this new year signified something in my mind, like I should have resolved all my own unanswered questions and single-handedly created a family budget, complete with joint accounts and easy-to-use envelopes that would make Dave Ramsey weep with joy. Instead I’m still struggling with some questions I’ve asked myself and trying to figure out how to be married financially. A couple of nights ago, I couldn’t stop thinking about these topics, and therefore didn’t sleep until about 5 a.m.

Being that tired definitely affects my work, so I’ve set some new goals for myself about sleep. If I’m feeling anxious at 11:00 p.m., that’s a sign that I’ll be wound up at 1:00 a.m., which means sleeplessness or fitful sleep until morning. If I have any resolutions this year, it’s about addressing sleep. Without good sleep, I can’t be productive. Without being productive, I cannot bear myself.

Embrace — January 5, 2014


Change — even change for the good — is challenging. I face a lot of exciting, terrifying, thrilling, scary, happy, major change this year. Respectively, I am excited, terrified, thrilled, scared, happy, and out-of-my-mind anxious about it all. A friend of mine used to tell me to “surrender” to difficult situations, but recently a friend suggested a motto for 2014: Embrace.

The change in attitude may be subtle, but “embrace” is so much more positive than “surrender.” I get that we all experience situations in which change feels like ocean waves that roll over us. Those are experiences for surrender — hold your breath and duck. But some, if not many, situations are better when we don’t merely duck, but instead plant our feet, turn toward the tide, and lean in.

“Lean in” or “embrace” is a motto I want to adopt this year, but my initial challenge is choosing the particular wave to embrace or lean into. I’m trying to get my proverbial ducks in a row, but I find myself quite distracted by Downton Abbey. 🙂

I’m working on a new website with a new portfolio. My personal blog will have to stay personal — I have to stay true to my audience of one: Future Ashley. But I will incorporate a new design and new portfolio into the new site.

Anxiety paradox — May 22, 2013

Anxiety paradox

Have you ever tried to call someone who you wanted to talk to and the number didn’t work? It’s pretty sad. Likewise, have you ever had a number for a person you really wanted to call but were too chicken to? Also pretty sad. Tonight, in a fit of bravery, I called both numbers.

One number was a bust, but the other resulted in an amazing experience. I have a friend who I have known since we were very little who is a truly gifted person. She is brilliant at thousands of things, many of which relate to humanity. She had a keen eye at a young age, and her observations have influenced me ever since.

The other important thing about this person is that when I was in a crisis, she was very generous with me. We met, she listened, she related, we talked about stuff to get my mind off my crisis, she completely supported me. She set me on a path of self-realization without even realizing it! (But that’s second borns do. We get work done with no expectation of acknowledgement.) I am so blessed to  have reached out to her in a day of need. Today’s call was inspired. I take no credit for it, but I relish in the blessings from it!

If you can relate to either sad experience, I give you a desktop from Reddit.

I’ve got a playlist coming, and a massive update about my therapy. Let’s not be sad; let’s be thankful for our blessings.

More thoughts on hard work — May 6, 2013

More thoughts on hard work

Sorting through panic disorder is hard work. I do feel like other aspects of my life suffer when I’m focused on just the one part.

I’m glad of the work, though. Lately because I can talk to my mom about stuff that I didn’t ever think I needed to talk to her about. Honestly, I never expected to have a how-your-traumatic-cancer-affected-me conversation. Although, I suppose all my blogging about my panic disorder is just that. Law of unintentional consequences, I think. I do not ever, and have never, intended to diminish or over-shadow my mother’s terrifying fight against cancer. In my mind, my mom is the strongest person I know. She fought. I was inspired and mortified by her and all those folks fighting with her at the radiology lab and in the transplant ward. What my mom overcame is miraculous. My mom is miraculous.

The benefits of hard work — of miraculous work — are cool things like unexpectedly being able to walk more, allow loving people into your life, seek therapy, pursue a career dream, travel, and generally have more to give.

OK. so all that sentiment is because I went to therapy today, and I learned a bunch and was encouraged to look at my triggers. Therapy is incredibly helpful. I’m grateful for it.

Honestly, I was just distracted by a Gatsby trailer, so let’s wrap this up. Panic = sucks. Mom = awesome. Work = hard. Therapy = helpful.

I love a lot of people. You’re one of them.

Really, exposure therapy? Really? — April 29, 2013

Really, exposure therapy? Really?

Enchanted Rock, Texas

This is an incredibly emotional post to write. I’ve been composing this for several days, and I hope that writing about it will make it less emotional to discuss.

My therapy has moved into so-called “exposure therapy,” in which I face symptoms of my panic attacks and other panic-inducing situations. It’s pretty scary, but it is pretty powerful stuff.

For example, I’ve hiked Enchanted Rock a dozen times over. When my boyfriend suggested that we check it out on our Hill Country vacation, I was pretty eager! We headed to Enchanted Rock State Park Tuesday with water, snacks, sunscreen, good athletic shoes, and bug repellant. One thing I didn’t even expect to bring was my newly developed fear of heights. This fear is, like I said, new to me, so it is frequently unexpected.

I got crazy vertigo going up E Rock, which triggered panic events. It was totally unexpected, disappointing, humbling, shaming, and kind of exhilarating. (That is to say, several times going up I got seriously freaked out by the heights and steepness of the incline when the wall of rock appeared.)

Going down the rock, we traversed great distances. I couldn’t really bear to look down much to opine as to best paths to travel — which was extremely frustrating because I’ve been trained to pick out hiking and bouldering paths! It’s an instinct that was over-run by sheer panic.

At one point, after following a series of boulders down a steep incline, we realized that we couldn’t climb over the boulders to join the trail. Seriously, we could not. It was a fine idea, but there was no way the two of us could’ve climbed those rocks without equipment that we didn’t have.

About this time, I had one of the two worst panic attacks of my life. One of my major triggers is my irrational fear that I can’t get home safely. And on that rock, I was convinced that I had no way home off the rock. Sheer will, tenacity, and a carote chop were all the skills availed to me. And, I suppose, a great deal of trust in my boyfriend.

For a panicked person such as me with a wacky, recently developed fear of heights, hiking 1850 feet is an accomplishment.

Unfortunately, I don’t have more pictures as I dropped my phone into water. This picture is one I took at a plateau in between panic attacks.

Turning tenderness into empowerment — April 1, 2013

Turning tenderness into empowerment

I’ve been wearing a fancy pedometer for three weeks with much success. I’ve raised my steps goal, and seen a couple of wildly successful days. Saturday, I walked more than 7,000 steps! Unfortunately, most of those steps were while wearing unsupportive wedge sandals. Sunday, after attending an amazing church service and eating a huge Easter lunch, I was emotionally and physically overdrawn.

Upon waking this fine Monday morning, I was feeling sore and tender. By “tender” I mean emotionally sensitive and physically in more pain and soreness than usual. My whole person was just tender.

I got myself to work, worked on my to do list for the week, and started checking things off. At noon, I had therapy. Today began our exposure therapy, in which they make me have panic attacks in order to be less afraid of having a panic attack. It’s so much more complex than that, but it’s the gist. Re-training the brain.

I was not too anxious in advance of today’s exercise (but now that I know what they’re like? Another story.), but I didn’t do well. Exposure therapy basically exposes me to panic-like symptoms. Today we attempted to deal with a symptom that isn’t even one of my major ones: shortness of breath. I was to breathe through a straw — a coffee stirrer — while holding my nose for 30 seconds. I don’t know how long I lasted before I had a panic attack — I’m guessing three or four based on the following exercise.

My therapists, who I have officially come to rely on, were so generous with their time and compassion to make sure I did not take away a sense of failure from this exercise. I’m supposed to fill out questionnaires for 30 minutes and have therapy for 60. My questionnaires took less than 30, and my therapy took just less than 90, I think. Ordinarily, I would have carved out some time to give myself a good cry over my failure to conquer the tiny straw. Today I pulled myself together.

I met my steps goal, went home, and got on my bike. Shortness of breath beat me once, but I was determined to enjoy a bike ride. I even crossed an major intersection TWICE! I was so short of breath at one point that I thought my heart or lungs would explode, but I kept going.

About 10 minutes after I got home, I did some hatha yoga. I equal parts love how my body remembers to slide into the poses correctly, I also noticed my (VAST) weaknesses. 

I’m still feeling tender, but I have so much to look forward to! My work is exciting, and I am taking a vacation! 

I wish Future Ashley and everyone else reading this blissful, successful endeavors. 

What cancer gave me — March 20, 2013

What cancer gave me

If you review my blog, you’ll notice a gap in public posts from the last quarter of 2008 all the way through the second quarter of 2010. I have a couple of reasons for that, but the most significant one is that in January 2009, my mom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Generally speaking, if you can avoid it, I’d suggest you do so. But if you can’t, here’s what I got from cancer:

  • A serious sense of humor. It’s not the oxymoron you think it is. When my mom was going through the worst of it (bone marrow transplant), she told me that I was the funny one. My job was to keep the family laughing. I took that job very seriously, at any expense. I find my sense of humor has been permanently changed. I can, and do, find humor in everything. People can be disarmed by the ease with which I joke about serious or taboo topics. 
  • Perspective. A lot of little things used to really get to me. I can more easily identify little things from the big things. With some notable exceptions. Stand by for that explanation.
  • Rock solid faith in my family. From the oldest to the youngest, my family pulled together when my mom was sick. My youngest niece was pretty young, but totally fearless — of hospitals, of her grandmother in a neck brace using a walker, of her aunt developing a brand new sense of humor, of everything her mother was going through. Even my late grandmother, suffering from Alzheimers,  was very supportive when my mom told her about the cancer.
  • Panic disorder. This one’s my favorite. I described it vaguely here, but the reality is that panic and anxiety grew to control my life beginning shortly before I knew about my mom’s cancer. My first panic attack was about ten days before I knew my mom was sick; although my mom’s cancer was pretty fully developed by that point, we didn’t know it yet. From that first panic attack, the anxiety cycled exponentially. I developed fear of heights and driving, severe social anxiety, and agoraphobia. A lot of little things bother me in a panicky way, but those are irrational things. The big, more logical things, are much easier to deal with.
  • A new lease on life. Since my mom’s cancer — I realize I’m describing everything in terms of that — I’ve experienced everything just a little differently. I push myself more than I ever have. And I love it. Although it’s hard to beat back feelings of panic, my current euphoria is a high worth riding.

My experience in a very brief nutshell.

Yay Team Me — March 17, 2013

Yay Team Me

This post is a few weeks old. The facts stand.

After watching Craigslist Joe, I decided to hop onto the volunteer section of Dallas Craigslist. I found a volunteer opportunity for a study for anxiety and panic. OK, I thought, I’ll take the survey and whatever! I’m following my inspiration and throwing myself out there. Joe was quite overwhelmed by the humanity and generosity he discovered, and I was hoping for (but not expecting) something great.

Days later I got a call and had a phone interview about the anxiety and panic study. I really liked the person on the phone — a PhD candidate at a local university. I qualified for the study, and before I knew it, I’d committed to 12 weeks of 90-minute therapy sessions.

Answering personal questions in writing before you ever speak to the person reading your answers is somewhat uncomfortable. Answering personal questions is uncomfortable. Thinking about answering personal questions is uncomfortable! But the anxiety surrounding all of that? I survived!

My friend asked me about how I’m doing in the study, and I think I said something about having hope. In fact, I have a lot of hope because I’ve learned a lot.

I’ve avoided a lot of situations as a coping mechanism. I generally avoid confrontation. Specifically and greatly, I don’t stand up for myself or call people out when they are mean. Therapy is arming me, once again, to  face fears realistically. I’m much more empowered to deal with panic-inducing.

In which my bank forgets the Uniform Commercial Code, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and basic humanity — January 28, 2013

In which my bank forgets the Uniform Commercial Code, Fair Credit Reporting Act, and basic humanity

I kind of skipped a chapter in my crazy car drama. Let’s catch up with some highlights of this really complicated situation:

  • Bought car from Highline Autoplex of Plano, which was more of a one- or two-man shop consisting of an old dude and his grandson, October 22, 2012. 
  • Dude fails to register car or transfer title before temporary plate expire, December 2, 2012.
  • I contacted dude. He refers me to Moore Transport Services of Richardson, December 7, 2012. I begin my pursuit of answers from Moore.
  • Receive first contact from Independent Bank in Memphis, Tennessee, December 22, 2012 – a collections letter.
  • Verbally request loan details and copy of the cars title, December 26, 2012, and again intermittently by phone, email, and certified letter.
  • After weeks of prodding, Moore Transport Services finally files registration and title with the state of Texas, January 12, 2013.
  • Independent Bank of Tennessee hires someone to steal the car, January 18.

“Wait!” a reasonable person would ask at this point, “Isn’t there some kind of system in place that protects people from having their cars stolen all willy nilly?!” Yes, dear reasonable person, there are several measures in place to protect consumers. Most of us have heard of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, but even before that, the UCC should have kicked in. Specifically, when your loan is assigned or sold, the lender has to contact you and tell you how and when to pay your debt. Also, specifically, a lender’s first contact with the consumer can’t be a collection notice. None of those are true with my experience with Independent Bank of Tennessee.

I’ve had plenty of hindsight advice — much of it incorrect or helpful, but some of it very helpful. Most notably, “You didn’t do anything wrong!”

I practically begged Independent Bank of Tennessee to provide me with any relevant information, but I still don’t have remit-to information or official notification of my account number today, three months and one week later.

Two phone calls from Addison P.D. later, a manager at Independence Bank started responding to my phone calls. Thursday, the manager answered my call and had a few avenues of questioning. One was that the bank hadn’t provided me with the details of my loan. Two was that one of the bank’s “local investigators spoke with the dealership” and confirmed that “he” didn’t receive my payments. I pointed out that improbability; the “he” who sold me the car had heart surgery and wasn’t working any more. “He” did refer me to another entity in another city, which completed my transaction THREE MONTHS LATER. I’m confident that Moore Transport Services in Richardson did not receive the three payments I made to Highline Autoplex in Plano.

The third path of questioning regarded my repeated requests for information, which were easily proven and didn’t last long.

I got my car back. Independence Bank of Tennessee waived all fees, charges, late fees, and other absurd, consumer-gouging costs. Thank God.

Grand Theft Auto is more than a video game — it is apparently how Independence Bank of Tennessee starts its relationships with its customers.