A Revelation.

Did you know that you have to brush a dog’s teeth?  No?  Well, you do.  I originally thought that such action was reserved for yippy dogs named Princess but, nope, it’s even for those of us with pound puppies that are decidedly bigger than a breadbox.  You’re supposed to do it every day.  At a minimum, a couple of times a week.  Otherwise, their teeth get scale-y.  And gross.  Turns out, that’s a big reason that your dog’s breath stinks.  Because you don’t brush.  And that makes you a bad dog owner.

I took Alice and Matilda to the vet yesterday for shots, and while discussing Miss M’s anxiety (yes, in addition to tartar, my dog has social anxiety) the vet told me that I’d need to bring her in for a thorough teeth cleaning.  That was well-enough, until I learned the best part:  the only way to clean a dog’s teeth and gums is while she is under general anesthesia.  Which makes your bill go from about $100 to $500.  $500 for a cleaning.  That doesn’t include any necessary extractions.  Those could be an extra $75 per tooth, depending on how easily they come out.  Luckily, according to the money vacuum with a vet’s license, my dog’s teeth are not rotting out of her head.  But they could.  Without a cleaning.  A $500 cleaning.  Which I should provide.  In order to stop sucking balls as a pet owner.

So, I did what any miser would do: I came home, and tried to brush the schmutz off myself.  I learned a couple of things:

1.  Dogs don’t like Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Toothpaste.  They prefer heartier flavors like Chicken or Filet or Catshit.

2.  Dogs cannot spit.  This is perhaps logical to you.  You probably read my first item and said to your computer screen: “Oh, no, she didn’t….Dogs can’t spit!”  Well, while I know that now, I didn’t this morning, and I was wrist deep and 10 minutes in before I realized that there was no toothpaste on my carpet and that my dog had to be swallowing it all.  (Please don’t call PETA on me.  I only used the teensiest bit.)

3.  When combined with the saliva in a dog’s mouth,  Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Toothpaste  creates an unheard of mass of rabid-looking foam.  This makes it hard to see what you’re doing and makes your dog squinch up her face like a human who’s just done a Snakebite shot.  For a second, I thought she’d eaten a can of shaving cream.

4.  Dogs don’t like to have their teeth brushed.  And if a dog doesn’t like having her teeth brushed, you won’t be brushing her teeth.  Have you ever tried to feed a toddler something they don’t want to eat?  Like, strained peas or, say,  Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Toothpaste?  They purse their lips in tight little knots and squeeze their eyes shut, turning their heads from side to side erratically in order to avoid the rubber-coated spoon.  Brushing a dog’s teeth is EXACTLY the same as that except for the fact you’re straddling and trying to restrain them yourself instead of letting the highchair do the work.

It’s true, I’m grossed out by my dog’s teeth right now.  They DO really need to be cleaned.  But holy shit, $500?!  If veterinary care is any indication of what healthcare would look like with direct competition from providers for your business and without frivolous lawsuits and conglomerate insurance companies, then I’m not convinced Obama-care is the answer.  I love my dog, but that doesn’t stop the bile.  It turns out that I lump veterinary care in with medical care, dentistry and automotive repairs, convinced that each is a pile of costs that’s been artificially inflated to take advantage of a consumer’s ignorance.

I will, of course, be getting her teeth cleaned.  But not before a run to PetCo (where the pets go…) to see if there is some toothpaste more suitable to her highness’ refined palate or inability to deglut.

A Glimpse, A Peak

I started this post wanting to share my trip to Zion (the national park, not the Jewish Holyland), and as has been happening to me so often lately, I ended up in a completely different place.  I began thinking about my trip.  Then I remembered that I needed to post a hike announcement for my MeetUp.com group.  So I opened another window and began researching hikes.  I chose Crystal Peak and wanted to compare its elevation gain to my first ever hike which in turn got me thinking about how I started hiking, which lead me back to this post, which has nothing at all to do with a national park in Utah.

If you’ve been peeking in on me from time to time, you might know that I’ve developed into rather a hiking enthusiast over the past few years.  I acquired this hobby with a girlfriend while living in Seattle.  Together, she and I spent a summer bouncing around the Olympics and Cascades. Getting up at ungodly hours, we’d pile into her Mini with water and peanut butter sandwiches and hit the trails while they were still fresh with dew.  I needed a reason to stop hating Washington and she wanted to get out of the house, so we bombed over trails as if shooting cans off a line of fence posts.

Before that, I’d never been much of a hiker, which finally, today, struck me as odd, considering a number of different things:

1.  Nature 0; Nurture; 1—-I grew up in Upstate NY, just minutes south of the Adirondack Park and its famed 46 high peaks.  There was a wealth of hiking to be done both north of me in the park, and south of me in the Catskills.  My parents though, were never the outdoors-y kind of people.  We didn’t have a “camp” to go to in the summer and it would have been hard impossible to imagine my mother in the woods, Diet Pepsi can in hand, fighting mosquitos  and other wildlife.  While both parents were products of the 60s and my Dad definitely a left-wing liberal, dirty hippies they were not.  We were an intellectual family; readers, thinkers, NERDS.  Physical activity in terms of interaction with nature was limited to lawn-mowing and walking to the mailbox.

2.  You Can Lead A Horse—My first real boyfriend was from a family of hikers/fishers/campers/backpackers.  His mom (to this day one of the nicest and most spritely people I’ve ever met) bought me my first fishing pole on the day that I graduated from high school.  She was well into her 50s at our first meeting, and had decided not too many years before that she wanted to be an ADK 46-R.  By the time he and I broke up a year and half later, She was only about 8 peaks away from completion.  I never went on a hike with her, although she must invited me any number of times.  I couldn’t say why.  Perhaps I was too busy discovering nasty ways to have sex with her son, or was carrying, unknown, my own mother’s idea of ‘roughing it’ (room service at the Ritz).  Either way, somehow, the experience escaped me then too.  Another near miss.

3.  Blame It On The Fever—A few years later, in college, I’d actually GO hiking.  And not in a small way either.  Along with another boyfriend and his uber low-key roommate, I would climb Algonquin, the second highest peak in New York State.  I had a backpack full of black and white film and bronchitis.  Between my hacking, productive coughs and the fact that EVERYTHING on that hike was picture-worthy, we probably stopped 150 times.  But, we made the top.  I remember specifically the feeling of summiting.  Of looking at the brass bench mark at the peak, and quietly congratulating myself on my accomplishment.  It amazes me now, to remember that feeling, to know that I had it, and to realize that contrary to every descriptive of my personality, I didn’t continue to seek it out actively.

 

There are any number of things that I love about hiking.  I love that it’s done on a Saturday, and any calories burned are bonuses.  I love the feeling of getting somewhere, working hard to meet a goal; each moment on a strenuous trail–legs burning, breath heavy–builds to the payoff of making it to a place that many people will never see because it’s too far from their couch.  I love the idea that my body CAN, that it is more capable than other bodies.  I love the smell in the fall and discovering an easy trail that allows for some running.  There’s no TV and there’s no time limit.  A day spent hiking is never a waste.  It begins with an early start and ends with sound sleep.  It’s natural and quiet and it connects me to the world as the bottom of my Merrell’s connect with the pine-needly path.

I’m a late bloomer, but no less committed for that.  Happy, for once, to have an obsession for something that’s not bad for me.

 

I’m Eating Peanuts Off The Top Of Your Head

The day I left for college, I had a hard decision to make.  As my parents made for the minivan, I took a hard look back into my room.  I changed my mind for the 150th time. And then I changed it back again.  There might be a fire.  Your roommate could steal him.  Your roommate could let OTHER people in the room who may steal him.  You might be THAT girl.  He could get lost in the move.  IT JUST ISN’T SAFE.  And so, for the first time EVER since I’d acquired him, I turned around and left Flower the WatchBear.  Left him facing the doorway of my room, guarding it, keeping watch for my return.

When I was but a tyke, my Dad traveled a lot for work.  He flew places on “business” and carried a briefcase full of “paperwork”, making sure that “plants” had “quality assurance”.  We’d talk to him on the phone to say goodnight and goodmorning, and to bargain for new King Farglebargle stories upon his return.  Sometimes we’d pick him up from the airport, and others, we’d lay still in bed, determined to be awake in order to run down the stairs for hugs and presents the second that his key hit the lock.  Because that was the best part:  The presents!

Before he’d even taken off his coat, we’d prise the briefcase from his hands, fighting over which of us got to spin the dials of the number lock to reveal what surprises were inside.  Sometimes, he’d make it to the kitchen and we’d clamber around his knees in Pee-Your-Pants excitement.  Oh-So-Slowly he would raise the lid, keeping a straight face, chatting with my mother, as if he didn’t notice how impatient we were to collect our treasures.  Most of the time, it was airline peanuts.  He’ sweet talk the stewardess into giving him some extra packets.  Sometimes, when the trip was longer or particularly unique, the spoils would be larger…one of them, I still have.

The WatchBear was imported to me from Flynt, Michigan.  About the size of a large, two-slice toaster, he had coarse black fur, stood on all fours and pointed his nose stalwartly forward.  Dad unveiled him one evening when I was small (and I swear the gifting immediately preceded an excursion to the IceCapades, though this has never been confirmed or denied).  We sat on the narrow stairway and I was formally introduced to him.  He’s a WatchBear.  An antidote to that thing BREATHING in my closet.  A guard against the grasping hand under my bed.   Protection from everything I couldn’t see in the night and insurance for a night without nightmares.  I immediately named him Flower***.

I slept back to back with that bear until the day I left for college.  He watched so I could sleep, kept an eye out for shadowy menaces and ill-meaning spirits.  He was a soothing presence and kept the anxiety at bay.  He had traveled with me for nearly my entire life.

That morning, he gazed back at me from his perch at the foot of the bed.  His plastic nose was gone, and there was evidence on the bottom of his feet of the day I decided his fur needed a trim.  Around his neck, there were patches of multi-colored thread, minor surgery performed over the years by my mother and her sewing needles.  Leaving him was no small decision, but the risk of something harming HIM was too great for me to chance.  I stalked down the stairs and took my place in the Voyager, arms empty.  “He’ll be guarding that door until you get home Rosebud” my Dad said as he backed out of our driveway.

My Dad has given me no shortage of gifts over the years.  His early travels inspired an impressive postcard collection as well as a thoughtful array of little treasures, tiny and medium-sized trinkets picked up simply because he thought I’d enjoy them.  McDonald’s breakfasts before school when we were older, after he’d already worked a 12-hour night shift and looked tired, but still glad to do it.  Two hour drives to my college because I’d forgotten a basket of laundry.  A graceful and quiet sympathy extended after my first heartbreak.  A punishment pass after I nearly put the car in the living room.  A stupid joke to keep me from passing out before walking me down the aisle on my wedding day.  From my earliest memories, my Dad has been around in any and every capacity I’ve ever needed.

This post is for my Dad.  Because I can’t be home in person to take him out for lunch and a scotch or two.  And because he is (sorry everyone else) The World’s Best Dad.  Even though he still sneaks M & Ms with diabetes.  And collects old vacuums out of dumpsters.  XOXO

 

***When it comes to WatchBears, gender rarely has as much to do with naming as sheer childlike spontanaeity.

If Only It Were That Simple….

 

Author Dan Andrews wrote a prompt for the Trust 30 challenge that I don’t find to be much of a prompt at all.  It was kind of a self help book boiled down to a couple of paragraphs.  Regardless, I signed on, and certainly don’t want to cop out.  As such, I took a portion of The Prompt and realized I already had something in the archives that I wanted to say about it.

 

In regards to the kind of person I want to be, I have the following to say:

I want quiet–quiet in my head;

a hush when I close my eyes.

I want to lay my head down and drop to sleep without the agony of the day’s playback on repeat.

I want to feel effortlessly kind, and less a fraud.

I want buoyancy in place of the lead weight in my chest which I think must be my heart.

I want to sigh in contentment at this day’s end, and, instead of rancid ennui, look to the next with optimism and genuine curiosity.

I want pleasing things to feel pleasing, and I want to look at my world with real and unclouded joy.

In Which the Universe Reminds Me Who’s In Charge

I just wrote a pretty fucking good description of neurotic, Jen-style Writer’s Block.  It was the best thing I’d written all week.  And it came out easier.  There were flights of phrase that I was really proud of.  I hadn’t meant to write it.  I was doing my 750 Words and it just kind of evolved into a pretty good piece.  I had started by trying to answer today’s Trust 30 prompt, and quickly realized that I was going to ignore it in favor of sudden inspiration.  I was going to post it.  You were going to love it.  There were going to be scads of comments.  It might have made me famous***.

I once caught a fish *THIS BIG*.

Then, I went to the bathroom.  Upon my return, I entered my ‘security word’.  My fresh words popped up on the screen, and after 1 second, popped off.  I sat there for a moment, puzzled.  I checked my open windows to see if they were just re-loading.  They weren’t.  I pressed clicked on my Edit tab to make sure I hadn’t just done something that needed UNdoing.  Nope.  I refreshed my screen.  Nothing.

GONE.  They were all gone.  All that was there was the first word I’d posted.  I got up.  I swore out loud.  I swore on Twitter and Facebook. I contemplated punching the wall.  I stared in disbelief.  I swore some more.  And some more.  When I remembered to breathe, I attempted to recreate what I’d just written.  Only to find that my red-burning anger and shock had completely erased my memory.  Insert annoying blinking cursor here.

I hadn’t saved because I hadn’t expected to be writing.  In my life, I’ve ‘not saved’ only ONE OTHER TIME.  In college.  A 35 page English paper (something to do with the Restoration) and I’d waited until two days before it was due to start it.  The feeling is roughly the same.  A sucky, sinking, slightly nauseas sensation residing in the stomach and midchest.  It pools there and soaks, reducing to a burning, lamenting refrain and the dull headache follows straight after.

And so I breathe.  Actively, at first.  There’s nothing I can do.  The Universe has a plan.  It sucks, but isn’t earth ending.  There’ll be other days.  And besides, this isn’t wildly different in tone or spirit than what I’d had on the page and lost.  Writing to replace writing as therapy.  It’s a deeper well than originally thought. Wooooo-sssssssaaaahhhhh.

In the interest of closure, my three dreams:

 

1.  That I wrote on a typewriter (with spectacles and khaki jodphurs).

2.  That I was on my second Passport book because the first one had no more room for stamps.

3.  That I had never lost the retainer I received after getting my braces off in high school.

 

***awesomeness of post may be slightly exaggerated for dramatic appeal.

I’d Like Some Actual Face…Hold the Book

THE PROMPT:

A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My favorite quote of all time is Alan Kay: ‘In order to predict the future, you have to invent it.’ I am all about inventing the future. Decide what you want the future to be and make it happen. Because you can. Write about your future now.  (Author: Cindy Gallop)

 

I was originally going to write a post talking about how I don’t believe in all the “invent your own life” stuff.  That I think it’s affected and presumptuous and more than the slightest bit brash considering how large the Universe is.  But then, I got a FB message from one of my best (like BEST) girlfriends and all I could do was wish to be closer to her to share in her current joy.  So what I ended up with today was a sort of written pity-party.  Sorry about that.

 

 

There’s a claustrophobia to this place, an austere anxiety that can be felt by just locating it on a map.  The Tri-Cities, WA popped up and developed over the last 70 or so years around the Hanford site, which is a nuclear facility in the early stages of shutdown, clean-up and closure.  Coming from Seattle, a driver will, within three hours, view astounding panoramas of Mt. Rainier, climb up, over and through Snoqualmie Pass and then watch as all trees, mountains and color disappear into the stark, rolling and sunbleached land of Eastern WA:  The high desert.  With the promise of world class vinyards (an industry that’s a fairly young 20 years old) and sunshine for most of the year, he will drive into Richland, into Kennewick, into (god-forbid) Pasco and feel a little sick in the stomach.  It’s a let down.  Kennewick is a growing suburb (stupid, since the government money that was pumped in is now gone) built on top of the ruins of Richland (a product of the nuclear boon after WWII) and both (along with the surrounding rows of grapevines and apple trees) are staffed and populated to a large degree by the uneducated and unskilled migrant farm workers.

It’s barren and boring and long since past redemption.  There is no coastline or urban center, no theatre, no mountains.  The libraries are run like coffeehouses and the best steak? Applebees.

Believe it.

Close friends are no fewer than four hours away and any plane trip requires multiple layovers in larger, more equipped airports.

I can’t think much about The Future when I’m so surrounded and suffocated by the view from my balcony RIGHT NOW.

Today I woke up in good spirits, and the past three days have found me in a rather manic state, full of devilish mischief.  These days are few…oh so few…and far between.  They’re punctuated by the rolling hills of the blues, and are nowhere near as long.  They’re precious, these days, when a smile comes easily and adventure is possible.  I covet them, try to take care to enjoy when I recognize them on my doorstep.

The trouble is, enjoying them also means sharing them.  Given my location, there’s not much chance of that.

The laundry list of faces I miss rolls past and away.

In this mood, I’d kidnap DE for a hike and some champers in celebration of her engagement to one of the true knights of this realm.  I would fly to the eastern end of Long Island and wrap my arms simultaneously around baby BAM and his mother, crying tears of wonderment at how she and I had made it THERE.  I would travel to Kentucky to hug my brother who is just back (and for good) from his second tour in Afghanistan.  I’d be at a beach, or on a Go-Kart track, at Caffe Lena or Marshall’s or East Berlin, CT.  I’d be anywhere, doing anything, as long as it was with people in my life.

Everyone’s life is moving moving moving.  My Facebook feed marches on in a relentless roll call of news.  Things I can’t participate in drive past my eyes and each one aches a little bit more than the last.  The melodrama builds and the black clouds roll in and the isolation of this terrible place weighs down.  Sitting next to each other, the hugs that I would give out but for distance and the distance itself compound each other like little magnifying glasses.

So?  The Future?  My future had better have people in it.  People who I can get to within an hour.  Who I can hug whenever I feel like it.  Who I can look in the eye when I’m saying “Congratulations, the baby is beautiful” and “Really!?!  Where’s it going to be?  What will you wear?  Is there a theme?!  Let’s go have martinis!!”  My future will not waste these days anymore in solitude.

I’m A Walking LIFE Suit

THE PROMPT:

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name;—— the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Can you remember a moment in your life when you had life in yourself and it was wholly strange and new? Can you remember the moment when you stopped walking a path of someone else, and started cutting your own?  Write about that moment. And if you haven’t experienced it yet, let the miracle play out in your mind’s eye and write about that moment in your future.  (Author: Bridget Pilloud)

God.  Really?  Everyday is strange and new.  Is that what that means to have life in me?   Because, if it is, life body-snatched me at the very beginning.

All of my days are absurdities, ventures through a crazy world of prickly unease and vague yearning.  You think I’m kidding.  I’m not.  Daily interactions with people are like little mini-dramas playing out in old-time-y newsreel past my eyes–and I never really get the hang of it. Most words out of my mouth are like little plays—How To lists of the right thing to say, read out loud, but unnaturally.

Floods of questions flit past and then attach themselves to their subjects.  How did I end up HERE?  Where did the day go?  Remember that time that was just similar to this?  Did I just say the wrong thing?  Oh shit, I did.  I just said the wrong thing.  Is this for real right now?  Is this what I worked for?  What WAS I working for?  Am I talking to myself?  Did my lips actually move?  Did they see it?

Everything is alien to me, and while it’s not the most comfortable of all existences, I can’t say that I don’t enjoy it.  It’s hard, sure.  The beat of my drum is irregular and harried, and sometimes, mournfully slow.  I learned a long time ago that the harder I try to calibrate it to the pulse of others, the more I’m tampering with and unsettling what was MEANT TO BE a personal and private music.  Fitting in throws me off, gives me headaches.  Mostly because I wasn’t made to blend.  Square peg, you know?

It makes sense, thinking about it now.  It’s in the way that I feel life’s knocks more deeply, that I’m more affected by things, influences, stimuli.  My reaction time is slower, my recovery time longer, molehills into mountains, a travesty around every turn.  I haven’t the time to get USED to anything before I’m off absorbing, daydreaming, wishing, aching, naming again and again in a relentless forward push. I KNOW that the strange and new are where it’s at.  I search them out.  Choose them in spite of the risk of meltdown.  If I’m already jumping out of this airplane, why not do so in style with back flips and 360 spins?

This is the human condition.  It’s MY condition.  If it weren’t odd, If I did recognize my surroundings, I’d be moving backwards.

Aladdin’s Cave

Trust 30 Prompt: Write down one thing you’ve always wanted to do and how you will achieve that goal. Don’t be afraid to be very specific in how you’ll achieve it: once you start achieving, your goals will get bigger and your capability to meet them will grow.  Author:  Colin Wright

 

I’m coming off of a pretty long stint of Not A Fucking Word, and so when I saw all this stuff about Trust 30, I was excited to dip my toe back in with some baby steps and canned prompts.  Even though I’m a dollar short and more than 15 days late, I went to the website and signed up without a second thought.  It wasn’t until after I’d confirmed my participation, that I read the first prompt.  I immediately began developing a mental bucket list, and continued that way for about ten minutes before I realized that I’d been staring blankly out of my window in a reverie of pipedreams, as my cursor flashed on a blank and mocking screen.

A list scrolled, like the opening of Star Wars.  Visit India and Spain.  Learn to throw a pot.  Ride a bullet train.  Stand on the Four Corners.  Get lots more tattoos.  Cultivate a real garden.  Go to “just-one-more” Paul Van Dyk show (mental note to write a memory about that) and dance all night.  Hike the 46 Adirondack peaks…..Blah.Blah.Blah.  I could write thousands of words on all the things I want to do and see and be.  My inner life, were I to lay it bare before you, would resemble a third-world market bazaar; foreign and thrilling, sensual and repulsive.  Beaded handicrafts glint under woven tapestries while toothless and sun-browned faces shout the day’s deals on freshly filleted pigeon and eel; where urchins dash between bodies, picking pockets.  I am constantly wandering the stalls, searching out little treasures, sampling the wares.  Darting between vendors and digging through woven straw bins.

The variety is astonishing.  There are no patterns.  My fancy is struck by whim.

I am, simply, a collector.  A collector of moments, of memories, of notches in bedposts.

I’m a sucker for road trips and hay rides and leaps of faith.

I am a cynical romantic (or a romantical cynic, depending on the day), convinced that the purgatory of everyday disappointment is somewhere adding up, that I am paying off in boredom and ennui the debt to my future happiness.  There can’t, (of course!), be joy or peaceful contentment without their equal opposites for comparison, so with each sad let down, I am dysfunctionally thrilled to see my Suffer-O-Meter spike–and I get “that-much” closer to an unfocused, unknown ideal.  Every moment, or collection of moments is the payment for another.  The Universe as an accountant.  Penance.  It’s the time your friends went to that AMAZING show, but you had taken an extra shift at the bar which pays for that tiny moment with the snow tickling down through the streetlights when you smiled and felt Okay.

Each experience has the opportunity to dazzle.  At any given moment, I could be transported…transfixed–rooted to a minute to which all future changes can be traced.  I scan the world for opportunities to feel that…each new thing a shiny yellow taxi, paid for by a mysterious doorman.  Destination and resulting feeling? Unknown.   So I jumped off that bridge, ran that race, kissed that boy.  I took that detour, ate those mushrooms, tried out for cheerleading.  Just once, a blind date, and twice, rather bad car crashes.    It’s the reason I say yes to the odd, the convoluted, the regional/local.  Hiding, LURKING somewhere amongst that mass of DOING potential, lies the corner I’ll turn, the switch I’ll switch, where I look back after a few more steps and realize:  “I’m Happy.  THIS is it.  I’m finally HERE.”

The universe keeps us honest, tempers those impish delights with If-Onlys and Almosts and Not-So-Fasts.  It throws in zingers to stun and stagger–cosmic checks and balances.  I believe in the miracles and so I endure the abrasions.  They’re merit badges.  Receipts for dues paid.  Scar tissue.

And so, to answer the prompt:

I realized not so very long ago that all of these things, in themselves are unimportant.  Alone, they are just small stories.  Vignettes.  Some rather boring and banal, others mini-epics.    But in the context of my life?  Of my psychology?  Together, summed, they are IT.  There isn’t ONE particular thing that I wish to do before I die, there are SCADS.   And in trying to narrow the field to one goal, I’ve learned that there isn’t one.  The goal is roughly the total of my efforts.  Did I do enough?  Did I not slack off?  Did I revel in delight and share my whimsy?  At the final accounting, when I pull out my North Face and remove my filled journals, I want there to be enough of them to nod certainly over.  So I’ll say Yes.  And I’ll go.  And do.  And say.  And see.  I’ll reach out, and try out.  I will actively participate.  What will I do?  As much as I can pack in.