December in One Fell Swoop

December!  Aka- the end of 2014?? already???

well. My computer (Beasley) has reached the point where hospice care was needed and she has officially tagged off her responsibilities to our new friend Ramona.  Yes, I name all my stuff.  But the point of that sentence was to state my excuse for not blogging for the whole month- which was b/c my computer was quite unpredictable and grouchy.

What you missed.

Many a train ride.  There is something almost poetic to me about empty train cars in the middle of the day.  Here’s two common views in my life these days.

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On a not- so empty train ride- a small family of accordion and tambourine carols.  IMG_20141212_163532774

Mocha art and peppermint gifts in Tribeca before a friend moves.

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All blurry and beautiful.  Reminding me again that I still have a crush on this city. IMG_20141222_184748244

wrrrr. Fast forward to finalizing my first semester of teaching, flying home, Christmas morning, and family.

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Yes. This picture was taken Christmas day.  The classic green Indiana Christmas? I’ll take it!DSC_3174a

Selfie revenge- put in on a blog. 🙂 you’re welcome Bri. 🙂

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These days I enjoy the time warp that is ‘home for the holidays.’  It includes things like helping my mom put in a quilt, bowling my first over 100 score, and family family family.  I don’t mind one bit.DSC_3187aIMG_20141226_230759168

To end this post and this year- I will use some internet memes/pins to express myself.

1. my thoughts towards break:

Pooh understands

2. How I feel about being home:

A M E N

3. How I feel about the end of a year:

http://engelta.hubpages.com/hub/Anxiety-disorder-fighting-and-relief

So here it is, my formal, in writing, farewell.  To the year that brought me family East Coast trips, printed diplomas and moments of joy so loud my heart jumped outside my body.  It brought me elephant rides, waterfall climbs, and ginger on chicken.  It was the miracle of landing my first job the Friday before school started and learning to handle kids who can’t use words to tell me they are sad, bored, hurt, happy, or insecure.  And, most of all, it was growing and learning and becoming- from trying and studying and waiting and praying.  The memories make the year- the lessons make my life.

Goodbye and farewell 2014.  You have been all the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And I’m beyond blessed to have shared it with each of you.  See you on the flip side dears.

Collect beautiful moments

Goodbye to My Early 20s

Welp.  It’s happened.  The era that I thought would be the majority of my life has passed.  But I’m still clinging to my mid 20s with vigor.

To mark this momentous occasion I … did what everyone else does when they turn 26 on a week day and have student loans to pay- I went to work.  Parent teacher conferences and all.  And celebrated on the weekends like the grown up I am.

Now, it is traditionally my policy not to celebrate my birthday until after it’s past.  But the Saturday before my birthday I came home from the laundromat to find my mother and friend Betsy in my foyer.  I was so surprised all I could do was moan, “ohhhh. you guys!” Yup.  That’s on film somewhere.  And it took me the whole day to wrap my head around it.  I’m obviously great at transitioning.  haha

But.  Due to this- shall we say- UNEXPECTED surprise my pre-birthday weekend turn out to be much more adventurous than planned.  It included things like- shopping, cleaning my house, rearranging my room, making cinnamon rolls and bread, church, sight seeing, games of blitz, and a broadway.  My guests stayed for 5 whole days and it was very pleasant.  See?

The cinnamon roll maker.

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My only group pic. IMG_20141110_171634717a

Betsy liked Times Square better than she thought she would.  Luckily for her- it was half empty on a Monday night.

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She got some cake boss cake.  Pretty good I think.

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The new shopping center and public space attached to the Fulton Street train stop near the Freedom Tower.  We stumbled upon it and I was so impressed I took a picture. 🙂

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Trinity church as seen from the graveyard.

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Grand Central.  Betsy thought it was very tall. 🙂

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Central park in the fall. ❤  Also, a great place to get waffles and dinges from the waffle cart.  Just sayin.

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Honestly, I’m not sure I ever expected this lady to make it my way.  But, oh, am I glad she did! 🙂IMG_20141111_154402485_HDRa IMG_20141111_155004624_HDRa

Yes. I got this picture with my phone. (and only a few twerks on photoshop). I love it. IMG_20141111_155300698_HDRa

When I turned 23 I had this song on my ipod that started with, “Look at me, I’m 23,” which I claimed as my theme song for the year.  And when I see pictures of myself I still hear that song in my head…  even if it’s less than accurate these days.

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And, lastly, I’m only posting this picture because she said I could.  And because it’s sooo hilarious, Betsy woke to strangers laughing.  Turns out Betsy was wrong, it IS possible to sleep on the train! 🙂IMG_20141111_223121099_HDRa

And, THAT was my very happy pre-birthday weekend.

Then I had my birthday.  Then I celebrated my post birthday weekend.  Which was mostly just on Saturday.  And it included my very first dim sum (if you don’t know what this is, google it) with my friends from grad school and bowling with my friends from church.

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I like these people because they remind me that: 1. I still have reasons to love New York. 2. grad school was real. Sometimes I almost think that it wasn’t that hard.  Or that maybe it didn’t happen at all.  But I talk to these girls- and I remember.  The insanity was real.  And I am so blessed to have survived.  Plus, this is my 3rd birthday I’ve celebrated with some of these ladies.  Which makes me feel like I’ve been in New York… forever. 🙂

And finally, a birthday post would not be complete without talking about my mother.  My whole life I’ve shared a birthday with her.  And more than half of her life, she’s shared her birthday with me.  So graciously.  But this year she turned 50.  And, according to her, “You don’t turn 50 everyday.”  Which is true. Which is why I’m posting this following song/poem for her (the rest of you can sing along). 🙂

Happy birthday to you

happy birthday to you

happy birthday to my dearest, bestest, youngest mom in the whole wide world!!!

happy birthday to you

I love you mom!

October Ends

This month has been of the kind that fly.  And it has flown right by.  I’ve begun to slowly form a routine and fill my life with good things.  Which is important to do when you graduate and life as you know it changes forever.

Here’s what my phone’s photo album has to show for itself this month (plus some of September).

1. City street reflections in subway advertisements with humorously placed ‘grumpy cat’ stickers.

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2. a NEEDTOBREATHE concert.  which was as it should be. (which is- wonderful) IMG_20140927_231551742

3. My part time desk. at school number 2.

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4. A weekly uphill walk in a park that wants to look like fall. IMG_20141001_153302086

5. Evidence we HAD mice.

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6. Colors burl together to brighten my lengthy commute.

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7. Walking in streets with trees and houses.  An oasis in insanity.

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8. Springtime flowers blooming make me miss fall even more.  (Have I mentioned that NY’s delayed season changes make me incredibly jealous of orange and red leaves as of late?)

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9. This sunrise on the morning of my first paid sick day. (On a related note- I recommend NOT eating expired yogurt.  EVEN if it smells good, looks good, and tastes good.)IMG_20141020_065900684_HDR

10. Photos to mark game progress with competitive students (yes, we will be finishing this next week).IMG_20141022_122240336

11. Jeni’s ice cream.  A happy addition to New York and to my life.

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12.  Especially when followed by 30 blocks of walking – wedged between the Hudson and lights scraping the sky. IMG_20141024_190152993

13. Only to be followed a day later by this view.  I must have seen this shot from every angle by now.  And still, I love it so. IMG_20141025_210619850

And that, my friends, leads us to the part where October ends.

Collect beautiful moments

How to Measure Success When You Feel Like a Failure (and other notes on my first month of teaching)

Success is awfully hard to measure as a first year teacher.  They say to expect the worst.  They say you will be tired and burnt out.  Lost.

Because, really, teaching is no joke.  One of my co-workers says that she views teaching as her ‘mission.’  Nun’s have missions.  This is her mission.

Which makes sense to me.  Because- the hours- the foreseeable lifetime of planning, reporting, writing, prepping, and caring that teachers pour into their simple (not so) 9-5 jobs is hardly worth the paycheck if all you see are the dollar signs.  And good teachers never do.  They see kids.  Hugs to see us.  Giggles to greet us.  Lengthy conversations about how many checks they need on their behavior chart before earning a prize.  Repeating.  and repeating. and repeating. and repeating. and repeating the directions.  Tears.  “It’s not fair.”  “My feet are itchy.” (Too itchy to learn?!?  Focus child!) Pulling their own teeth out (or at least trying to.  To which I respond by hiding behind my book and asking if it could just stay in for a few more minutes…).  Commenting on the coloring of my face on warm days in my zero circulation closet of an office.  Screamed at.  Eyes rolled at.  Ignored and told, ‘I’m bored,’ at.

But, in the meantime, a friend reminded me that happiness is measured by our feelings of successfulness.  And I realized that if I want to survive this anticipatedly difficult year, I need to be able to measure happiness in real ways.  Not based on how I feel at the end of the day when my last kid has a meltdown.  But by some standard to hope to.  Some way to ground myself in joy when all I feeeel like doing is talking in circles about the children who run me in circles.  So.  I decided, for now, to make my goals smaller.  Attainable.

Day one of this new perspective.  I prayed for 2 specific events to occur.  1. that Jimmy would come to therapy.  Last week he refused.  In not so many words. I told him this was his one free pass from speech. And I really hoped I meant it.  2. That my session with Opal working on the sound ‘er’ would go well.  Opal has been working on ‘er’ for 4 years.  Not ‘er’ in words like ‘water’ and ‘river’ and ‘return.’  But plain old ‘er.’  All alone.  By itself ‘er.’

And I ended my journaling from that day with, “I’m so thankful God answers prayers.”

Now, sometimes I forget to measure happiness by little successes.  And those days are the worst.  Because I’ve come to realize that life is not about getting a zap of happiness when you’re feeling down and can’t control the world.  It’s about living.  And living requires you to celebrate the little things your life’s about.

“So, whether you eat or drink, (or teach) or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Days Like Today

Today has been one of those days.  When I wear the same exact skirt as my new Muslim friend.  Where I get all my session notes entered before 4.  And stroll the neighborhoods of Brooklyn with a friend and her dog.  Homemade pop-tarts. Jewish Sukkahs.  Streets with so many trees you can’t hear the houses or see the train.  You just walk.  Through this community.  and that.  Teenagers chillin on the porch, late for synagog 100 feet from a man in white waiting for the bus.  Perhaps he’s headed to the mosque.  And, suddenly, you feel connected all over again.

The magic of New York is it’s size.  The diversity that crams together.  The population sampling of the world you pass in just a single day.  And to feel part of it.  To breathe with it.  To sleep on the train and know when to awake, almost instinctively, as if your body counts the stops until it wakes you.  Familiar with the routine.  Familiar with the madness.

But when that routine changes?  Oh the insanity that ensues.  The identity crisis.  Why did I stay here?  Whatever am I doing rubbing so many shoulders this way?

So, in times like this, I need days like today.  When the magic of New York returns with one leisurely walk.  And my heart finds a way to reconnect with my brain.  And I remember that I’m here because I love it.  The shoulder rubbing. The stair hiking. The lesson planning and 1/2 nights of prayer at church.  I’m here because I love it.  Not every day.  And not all at once.  But we all need to be a part of something.  And for now, I’m a part of New York.  And I love that.

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The Proof is in the Pudding

Getting a job is a big relief.  The prospect of poverty is no funny business.  And looking at the last $100 in my bank account is.. scary.  And humbling.

That said.  It’s an even greater relief to finally have all my paperwork figured out and to receive this in an email: “Good news, you can start tomorrow.”

This is me on my first day of school, minus the shoes, obviously. This face says, “Here we go…..”

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So far, at my fancy new job, I have attended orientation(s), met other SLPs and teachers, visited the principal’s office (!!!) (to ask for a bookshelf for my office- no biggy!), and did some rearranging/decorating of my office space.  I had my first fire drill.  Spent two whole days figuring out a schedule.  And saw my first group of kiddos.   Plus, I got my first plant for my classroom from the teacher’s ‘sunshine society.’

And, my life is split between two schools.  And my offices are shared with other people.

School A

“My” office space before everything is moved around.

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My office space after everything is moved (and with the lights on).

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My new plant <3.

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My bookshelf from the principal.  Now just to fill it… by slowly carrying items in bags on the train every day till all my stuff is here.  Fun fun.

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The administrative portion of my office space.

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Yes, my room is a closet between two classrooms.  But we manage.

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Customary selfie at work (today- on my first day with kiddos). This face says, “I think I’m ganna like it here.”  Even if we don’t have any a/c.

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School B

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Yup.  That’s all I have from school B.  I’ve only gone one day.  So, not nearly as much progress has been made there.

All in all, I think this year will be appropriately challenging and rewarding.  It has proven to be so already.

NewYorkish

This week involved normal New York things.   Like carpools to Target with this little lady and her family.  (Who claims, “This is how mommy wears glasses.”

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A trip to the ocean.

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4 interviews, 1 of which involving a walk down this sunny street in Brooklyn.

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And evening DUMBO walks.

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They say that it takes 7 years to become a ‘true’ NewYorker.  Well.  As of this week, I’ve officially been living in New York for 2 years.  I guess that makes me NewYorkish.  Or perhaps we could say I’ve reached an ‘intermediate’ level of newyorkerness?  I don’t know how the 7 year mark was decided but I will say that there are still things about New York that I don’t know.  Like, I can’t really figure out the defining lines between Greenwich Village and East Village and West Village and SoHo and Alphabet City.  And I’m not sure if each of these areas is considered to be part of “The Village” or if this village place has it’s own separate identity entirely.

I also have a hard time knowing when it’s okay to talk to strangers.  As a rule, I don’t.  Which may, in fact, be very “New Yorker” of me.  But, I think there needs to be a balance.  If someone asks for help, when is it okay to give it?  When people are friendly?  When people ask questions? When people are a little bit weird?  How weird do you have to be for it to be okay for me not to want to talk to you?  And, is weirdness an excuse or a legitimate reason to avoid others?  As a whole, I follow my instincts.  And it’s worked out pretty well.. I think.  But as of late, I’ve wondered if I’m ever wrong.  And, if so, how would I know?

That said, my favorite thing about being NewYorkish has been the transition from full-time student to getting my first ‘real’ job.  I’ve decided that you know you’re a grown up when… you’re excited to get a job.

But I have to be honest.  It has not been easy.  Unemployment is rough.  It makes me easily anxious, insecure, and, as a whole, limited.  I realized that I must really be effecting me because I had started to count Metrocard swipes and lived in fear of wasting them.  This was new.  I actually didn’t make plans with people because I didn’t want to spend the money on food and transportation to see them.  Which, is pretty low for me as I NEED to be with people daily.

So, that was a good perspective to have.  It’s not a perspective I like to live in.  But it makes me very grateful for the employment that I have now found.  I suppose I should say this lightly as I haven’t actually signed my contract yet.  But.  The supervisor said the words (and I quote), “You have a job.”  So.  I’m taking that in faith.

So, here’s to something new.  And to another year of growing into my city and into my life.

We Make Our Own Adventures

It is a well (self) published fact that I like to have “adventures.”  I like to call them adventures because it makes life so much more exciting than saying, “Today I went to the park.”  haha

Soo.. while I’m in the throws of “funemployment” (as some people like to call it), I thought it might be time to document some of the (free) adventures I found to fill my time (putting the ‘fun’ in ‘funemployment,’ of course).

1. My friend Lynell came to visit.  She wanted to see what I considered to be, ‘real New York.’  Well.  I don’t know what that means, but I did manage to drag her all around the city for 24 hours.

We visited the highline:

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We walked the Brooklyn Bridge:

Interesting side note:  There is a bridge in Paris that I have seen on Pinterest (obviously, how else would I learn about anything in the world?) where lovers (people who are in love, I presume) can place a lock and throw the key into the river (locking their love together (in Paris) forever).  Well.  New York is not be outdone with romantic symbolism it appears as the Brooklyn Bridge has now adapted (apparently) this similar policy.  However, we do not limit this placement of personal items to lovers and locks.  In fact, you can tie a bracelet, write in sharpie, even leave your luggage tags on our symbolic bridge.  To me it screams, “I was here!  For this brief moment, I’m part of this crazy place!” (and/or, it says, “I love you,” to someone specific).  Anyways.  We didn’t have a sharpie, or a lock, or really, anything to leave.  And I didn’t even take a picture.  But, it was kinda cool so I thought you should know about it. 🙂

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We also went to the Met(ropolitan Museum of Art):

Which I might argue is one of the best art museums in the world, largely due to it’s variety, size, and accessibility to the public.  See, even Lynell discovered she likes art. 🙂

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(Yup.  Just a hooved, winged, Persian palace man.)

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Cuneiform writing!

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Washington crossing the Delaware was much bigger than I imagined.  Larger than life, in fact.  IMG_20140820_110452774a

Lynell with a sphinx.  She’s so excited she can barely smile. 🙂IMG_20140820_111827503a

2. I visited the New York Historical Society.  Largely because it’s $20 for adults and free with my student ID (which is too soon expiring).  The Historical Society is an interesting mix of history, and its possession of random, old artifacts is astounding.  For example, while waiting on the front steps I could choose to stand by Madeline (who, apparently, is a New Yorker after all since the author was a true New Yorker) or.. a (literally) life sized statue of President Lincoln (who is American.. and apparently that is New Yorker enough?).

See:

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He’s so tall I couldn’t even take a selfie with him!IMG_20140820_145405054_HDRa

And, since this museum is has a children’s museum attached (including, a tea room for tea parties, of course) Kai and I took the interactive exhibits very seriously.  This is Kai as an angelic nun.

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And here I am with Fredrick Douglas!

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3. On a final note, I have been ‘back’ in the city for almost 2 weeks now.  Which I like.  Because things like punk ice cream cones and watching the sky through window panes almost never gets old to me.

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Post- Grad

Life after school does exist. It looks something like this:

Part 1: I returned to New York with my friend Amy.

We stopped at Millennium Park in Chicago on the way to the airport.  Unfortunately, I left my wallet there and had an interesting panic trying to board a flight without ID or credit card.  Fortunately, they accepted a picture of my passport, my Kohl’s card, and an intimate pat-down as proof of my security.  (On the plus side, my wallet has been located (minus $50) and is currently in the possession of my parents!)  But. These photos were taken before that fateful moment.

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In my defense- it was a warm day. – Although this photo could be seen as a foreshadowing event.

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Upon arriving in New York we- went to a Yankee’s game.  Because live sports are appropriately entertaining. Image

and Shake Shack.  Because we like it.

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and Little Italy.  (Because it’s even better then Shake Shack!)

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and Chinatown… and more.

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Part 2:  Amy flew home and I stayed to face my next big hurdle- unemployment.

Needless to say, I am a little tired of wearing my interview blazer in this summer heat.  (I interviewed 3/5 of the days this past week.  And.. in my defense.. the public education system here has a lot of hurdles to get through.  — I promise… it’s not because no one wants to hire me… (I hope.))

However, this picture is from my very first interview….

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Funny story… I sent this picture to my mother titled, “here goes nothing.”  I got a text back that said, “who is this?”  Well… Obviously, the person in the picture!  (Yes, I sent the picture to a stranger (a not so brilliant stranger) … not my mother- whoops).

So yes. Lots of interviews.  Which is because 1. I’m unemployed. So that’s a thing.  But also because 2. I’m kind of in a rush because I leave for Asia in a week (eek! 🙂 ).  But my mom says I should enjoy the process rather than stressing.  So, I guess I’m trying to be the first to do that. 🙂

And, finally, can you guess where the following photo was taken?  I promise.. it’s NOT where you’d think.

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(It’s the park reservoir by my apartment! Surprise. 🙂 )

 

And finally… it seemed appropriate.

The thoughts of every graduate

The Countdown is Over

Graduating makes me very sentimental.  If commencement was the Grammys I would have so many people to thank.  But mostly it comes down to

1. My family.  Some of them cheer more loudly for me than others, but they each made the long trip from Indiana to watch me walk across that stage.  That’s how I know they care.
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2. More specifically, my parents.  I’m one of those silly kids who calls her mom every day.  She may not always know what I’m talking about or how it makes me feel, but I usually tell her it all anyways.  And my dad.  Who bravely travels to this loathed city just to tell me he’s proud of me.  I think that’s the definition of good parenting.

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3. My SLPeeps.  The girls in my department.  They are the ones, the only ones, who not only KNOW what I’m going through, but can actually feel the pain and pride along the way.  Here’s to the best girls in the whole wide world.

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(photo credit to the stranger passing by)

4. To God. I don’t have a picture of Him.  But I do have a picture of what He’s done for me.  I think I’m often insecure about claiming God to the public as I’m a rather timid preacher.  But the reality is that God work in my life is more than religious rituals and ridiculous dress codes.  It peace in the storm and grace to keep going.  And I can’t take credit for that.

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5. and finally, you, my readers and askers and prayers and carers.  I, like humans almost everywhere, benefit from the support of people.  So thank you, people, for your support!

 

And now that the Grammys are over, on the with show.

So. Graduation, for me, took place in 2 separate events. The first was on Tuesday and was a ceremony for all the graduates from the Biobehavioral Science Department at Teachers College.  It took place in an amazing Cathedral with intimate (poor) lighting.  Temple Grandin spoke.  And we walked.  We didn’t get diplomas.  We didn’t get caped.  But we did graduate.

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Our gowns had silly sleeves to mark our Masters.  I used mine to hold my.. phone, student ID, lip gloss, camera lens cover, foam apple, and confetti pouch.  Handy.

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At the post commencement reception.  I had an awkward encounter with a first year committee member who informed me that there was a Kosher selection of food off to the side.  Otherwise, it was a nice time in a room full of people I love and the strangers they brought with them (our families were invited).  ImageImageImage

Ceremony 2: Was on Wednesday.  On the main Columbia campus, for all of Columbia’s 16 schools, plus their two affiliate schools, Barnard and Teachers College. It was full to say the least.  That said, it was incredibly fun.  Eloquent presidental speakers, the rumbling of feet on bleachers, and the head of each college pleading the president with sassy superlatives to grant us our degrees.  Embarrassingly intelligent, they called us. Always good looking, they said.  Sacrificing everything. Sleep. Nutrition. Time. Indebted. Indebted to our faculty.  But poorly timed pausing left for masses of laughter for we are each much indebted indeed.  There was confetti.  Every college carried a token to represent.  We got stress-ball apples because we are teachers. The comment was made that we should have gotten these when we started.  Some got inflatable globes or hammers.  Some carried fun fans.  Even an inflatable orca made an appearance.  We cheered mid-speech.  We sang and grooved our way to the granting of degrees.

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(Photo credits- Allison and her phone)Image

(Poor quality phone selfie. Just keepin it real.)Image

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And I was hit by the beautiful ending of it all.  Grad school was as it should be.  The worst and the best.  The hardest and the greatest and the mostest (whatever that means).  But I do know that I’ve never been so crazy, so busy, or so rewarded as I have been in these last two years.  And I know that life changes.  And some of my best days are yet to come. But this day, these days, this time (however I should word it) rank pretty high for me.

Of Note: The content of this blog is about to change (somewhat) dramatically as my identity shifts.  School is, in many ways, especially in grad school 700 miles from home, all consuming.  And now I have time to be consumed with something else.  To figure out how the other half of the world lives.  And where I fit into it all.  Don’t worry.  As the title of this blog implies, I will be taking you along with me through (some of) it.