Monday, April 20, 2009

My Little Pink Church

I called my new BFF, the Mayor of Goose Creek on Saturday to see if he knew what time the annual church service at the St. James Goose Creek Church started. Calling him wasn't my original intention, but I emailed him on Thursday and he never responded... what's a girl to do? He told me that I could call him whenever I wanted, so... I did! After the initial greetings, we chatted for a while about history and the next thing I know he says "Pamela, you are a strange person."

Uhhhh. Well, what do you say when your Mayor thinks you are strange?

I asked "Why is that?" and he proceeded to tell me that he believes that he and I are the only people in town that care about history. Well, I really wouldn't go that far. It's just that I have nothing better to do! He asked me why that was the situation and I told him that people just get caught up in their lives and never take the time to think about the past and the people that were here before us. Like the Mayor, I not only think about it, I research it because I find it so fascinating.

The Mayor gave me the contact information for the person in charge of the Sunday service at the chapel and then invited me to come watch the Charleston Symphony Orchestra at City Hall that evening. I told him that I love the Orchestra, but I already had plans for the day and if I had a chance to go, I would definitely introduce myself.

(**Note to self, tell the Mayor that you dig chicks!)

The church service at The St. James Goose Creek church happens once a year and is always the Sunday after Easter. The little pink church is one of my super-secret places and this one, for the most part, still is a little bit of a secret, unlike Morris Island. It's on one of the main roads in town yet most people don't even realize it's there. It's tucked in the woods, safe from the view of passing cars and frankly, I like it that way!

Since I moved to Charleston I have had a love affair with this church. I started going there when I was a teenager for midnight make out sessions with boyfriends. Back then it was just a small road that took you back to the chapel and cemetery grounds. You always had to be extra quiet so you wouldn't wake up the people at the caretakers house on the way in. Now they have re-routed the drive behind the caretakers house, cut down trees to add extra parking spaces and put up a steel gate so you can't even access the road! A couple of years ago I parked outside the gate and was stopped and told it was private property. I pretty much begged the guy to let me go and take pictures. I think I may have actually had tears welling up in my eyes when he told me that I couldn't go back (which he finally did!) This is one of those places on Earth that I am connected to for some strange reason.

For 18 years I stopped at the church randomly and one day a couple of years ago, when I walked through the gate I saw something that I had never seen before... the church doors were open! I had only seen the inside from the postcards I collected of the church and the random photos online. I had longed to go inside the church for so long I could hardly contain myself! I saw that there was a construction worker doing some restoration so I approached him and asked him if he would allow me to go inside. He looked very hesitant and then the begging started. I told him how much I loved the church and promised to not touch a thing. He told me that he really wasn't supposed to and then made me promise to make it quick.

I walked in the church and was absolutely overcome by what I saw and smelled. This 300-year old church was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I silently thanked the British Army for sparing it so that I could enjoy it as much as I have. The only thing I can compare it to is being at Tate Britain and seeing one of my favorite paintings, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche. I could have sat in amazement for hours just looking at every tiny detail. To me, this church is a living, breathing masterpiece and I was finally able to go inside!

I learned of the annual Sunday service several years ago but could never get my crap together to actually go. I was determined that this was the year I was going and I recruited Samantha to be my partner in crime.

The Vestryman that I emailed never emailed me back so I Googled his email address and called him Saturday evening -I'm persistent to say the least! He told me that the service started at Noon and that I was welcome to join the annual picnic lunch after the service. Picnic? I had no idea! Maybe next year!

When I was waiting for Samantha to show up I went outside to my car around 11:45 because I was wearing black pants and kept having to get out the lint brush - ugh! I waited until 11:50 and she STILL wasn't there and I was livid! I couldn't believe that she was going to make me late to something that was SO important to me! I called her and left a message saying that I hoped everything was alright but that I was leaving since I didn't want to be late. Luckily the church is right around the corner from my house... although parking was a bitch! She ended up arriving at the church after the service started. I had to remember that I was in church so I wouldn't cuss her out although I think I told her that she sucked during the sermon.

The weather was so nice. All the windows were open and there was a really nice breeze drifting through. I couldn't help but think about all of the people that sat here before us with hoop skirts, top hats and petticoats! So amazing!

1886 Earthquake

After the service (which was VERY "Jesusy") we grabbed our cameras and went to town. I'm still trying to get used to using this camera and forget to correct the settings. I'll have taken 50 shots and then remember that the automatic zoom is on... uhhh, no wonder I can't get everything into the picture!

We stopped and chatted with the minister for a bit, who was from the Dominican Republic. Apparently, they choose someone from around the world each year to give the sermon since they don't have a regular minister. I actually liked that he was quite personable and didn't give a stuffy sermon - refreshing! Also, I forgot to mention that the Charleston's Men's Choir sang, which was also quite lovely.

After taking many pictures and wandering aimlessly we walked through the sea of picnics and headed back to our cars. Starving, we decided to get lunch at Bucca's and then called it a day since it looked like it was going to rain (but actually never did!)

When I got home I received this email:

----- Original Message -----
From: Michael (The Mayor!)
To: Pamela
Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2009 10:46 AM
Subject: RE: Sunday Service at St. James Goose Creek Church

Did you find out about the Sunday service? Didn't see you at the symphony!


How do you think I would look in a pill box hat at ribbon cutting ceremonies with the Mayor by my side??


Traci and Tonya were out with Teresa and when they came back we watched a movie called "The Uninvited" - I am still wishing for the 2 hours of time that I was robbed of after watching that movie.

I guess weekends can't be TOTALLY perfect!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reunions and Thinking Places

I find it easier to deal with all the crazy things happening in my life if I stay busy so that is what I've tried to do lately. For the first month I was back in Charleston I did nothing except sit around and think. I didn't really have any money so I stayed in the house and I do believe it sucked all of the energy out of me. Normally I would have driven to my favorite spots to contemplate life but couldn't afford the gas! Things are changing and this weekend was full of good things.

Last week I received an even invitation on Facebook from someone who attended my high school. They planned a high school get together of all the classes at a local sports bar. Normally sports bars are not my sort of thing but being that Annabelle and I are the class reunion organizers we were curious about it and decided to go, along with Samantha. We started the evening off by going to Carolina Crust Gourmet Pizza, which Annabelle suggested.

When we walked in the place was filled with kids running around and a very loud not-so-good musician. Samantha and I just looked at each other. Annabelle wasn't with us initially because she had to drop something off at her sisters house or else I probably would have suggested eating someplace else. I asked the hostess if this was kids night and she just looked at me funny. I asked if we could be seated as far away from the commotion as possible and she walked us to the back of the restaurant and told us to pick from the couple of two-seater tables. I reminded her that we had three people with us and she said that there was a party of five ahead of us and we couldn't have that table. She obviously did not notice that my friends carry purses that are bigger than their own bodies and that the three of us, plus purses would not fit at a two person table! After Samantha and I stared at each other in disbelief a bit longer the hostess finally agreed to let us have the bigger table (the table of five never sat at all!) Unfortunately, the dining experience really didn't improve much.

Carolina Crust says it's supposed to gourmet pizza, but really... not so much. It's not even worth writing about - just trust me in case you are in town - the pizza was mediocre at best! The singer was loud and totally lost me when he sang "Angel From Montgomery". He did his own dramatic interpretation of the word "Montgomery" by adding extra syllables to it. It was so bad that Samantha and I sat there and tried to figure out what song it was for the longest. We knew we heard it before but just couldn't put our finger on it! We ate as fast as we could, talked about poop and the art of pooping the entire time and then headed to Bucca's for the party.

When we got to Bucca's we argued about who was going to walk in first. I told Annabelle to go in and then she said that I should since people recognize me. Um, I don't think so! I ended up walking in first anyway and then headed straight to the bar. That's my defense mode when I'm in an uncomfortable situation. The rule is to get a drink and while you wait for the drink you have a chance to take in the atmosphere and see who is there and what is happening around you. We did just that. The three of us looked around at all of the people who have aged 20+ years since we've seen them. How were we supposed to recognize anyone? I didn't have my glasses on so I was no help at all with reading name tags (which we refused to wear!) I told Annabelle and Samantha that we should go to the other side of the bar to get a look at that crowd.

When we walked to the other side I finally saw someone I knew... Sarah, a former cheerleader. She was actually one of the three people that I was looking forward to seeing again. They graduated a year ahead of me so I have not seen them in 21 years! When I saw Sarah she pointed out Cindy who I waved to. Unfortunately she was sitting behind a table so there was no way I could have gotten to her so I decided to wait to talk to her. We continued to hang out and stare at people and nonchalantly point to people and say "That's so-and-so" but not talk to them... well, most of them, anyway. There was only one person from our class that we saw, which I thought was strange.

We hung out with Cyril for a while who managed to take the only photo of us from that night:

Being that we hardly knew anyone we only stayed for a couple of hours. I wasn't ready to call it a night yet so I texted Teresa to see if she was still at the club. I tried to get Samantha to go to Patrick's with me but she wasn't really interested in seeing drag queens, I suppose. I dropped her off at her car and then drove to West Ashley to watch Venus do an entire show of Pink songs which seemed incredibly exhausting. I enjoy watching the drag shows but Patrick's makes me kind of sad. First of all, there's nothing but baby-dykes there. All of these girls are in their early twenties, which is mildly depressing. When did I get so old? And then they have annoying DJ's who play bad music. The sound system isn't that great so there really is no dancing to be had... except for line dancing, which I had no idea people still did!

On Saturday afternoon Teresa and I had plans to go out. Since she is apparently infamous for not being able to choose activities I gave her a list of things I was interested in doing since I coming back to town. I asked her to choose and she managed to narrow it down to one thing... going to the Morris Island Lighthouse on Folly Beach.

Have you ever been to a place where you felt a connection so deep that you can't explain it properly to other people because you are not really sure of the reason yourself? There are a few places like that on Earth for me and no matter how many times I go, I will never tire of them... Morris Island Lighthouse is one of those places. I remember the first time I saw the lighthouse. I was there with a boyfriend doing our nightly walk on the beach with a bottle of wine. We normally went to Station 22 at Sullivan's Island, but one night he suggested Folly Beach. I had no idea there was a lighthouse there and when I first saw it I couldn't stop staring. It looked so haunting sitting out there in the middle of the water. I remember that I couldn't wait to see it in the daylight and I actually went back there the next afternoon.

Since that night I have been to Morris Island many, many times. Mostly by myself when I need to think and sometimes with other to show them my special place. Back in the day it used to be so private and secluded, but now that it's been in the news regarding the restoration, a performance art subject during The Spoleto Festival as well as on many license plates, postcards and bumper stickers everyone and their mother knows about my private spot! These days when you go to the lighthouse there is usually several others there as well.

My thinking place!

When we were walking the quarter mile up the path to the beach I felt a sting on my foot. I didn't even take time to look at it because it hurt so bad. I swatted whatever it was off and kept walking. As time passed I felt the poison of the bite going through my foot but I tried hard to ignore it. It seems if someone gets bit by an insect it's usually me! When we got down to the beach we sat on the fire pit square for a bit to take some pictures. I looked down at my foot and the entire thing was red and swollen except for a couple of inches that were pure white. I looked at Teresa and said "Oh my God! Look at my foot!" and Teresa proceeded to turn to me, held out her camera and said "Does this picture look blurry?"


Here I was with some rare undiscovered insect venom traveling through my foot... they were probably going to have to carry me off the beach after I succumbed to seizures and passed out and she was worried about if her picture was blurry! I told her that yes, it was blurry!

Over the next couple of hours I tried hard not to concentrate on my foot and only on spending time with Teresa. It was a gorgeous day and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. Per Teresa's suggestion I soaked my foot in the cold salt water and it actually made it feel better. I tried to get her to pee on my swollen poison-filled foot - knowing that this helps in cases of jelly fish stings - but she laughed and adamantly protested. I mean, really. I WAS STUNG by something and the pain WAS really bad! Hmmm. I see how it is!

We spent the day walking around taking photos and looking for shells. Teresa was looking for sharks teeth but decided after a couple of hours that sharks didn't come to this particular beach to hang out, which I thought was amusing. We sat and talked and it was just really nice because I enjoy her company so much.

The perfect view.

It's amazing how a day in the sun will make you so tired so fast! We walked back to the car and headed home with our farmers tans and memories of a perfectly good day.

Well, I did at least :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Retail Therapy

I'm in love.

Well, I guess it's more of what I like to call "retail therapy" than love! I'd much rather have the real thing, but this will have to do in the meantime!

I've always wanted a grown up camera and now that I have one I hardly know how to use it. The manual is like a novel and a little overwhelming. I've been reading it on all of my breaks at work and spare moments here and there. I will learn how to use this camera and actually reach my goal of knowing how to take photos without using the "auto" setting!

Tonight I met my long-time friend Chantel for dinner to catch up on life and girl talk, which is always nice! We went to The Glass Onion in West Ashley. I went there before with my friend Steven. I was really looking forward to the chicken salad po boy, which I got before, but they were out of it so I got the meatball instead. Their menu is a bit odd and not your typical food. A lot of it is Southern and fried and mainly seafood - blech! There is not a lot of stuff on the menu that I would actually eat so I remain a creature of habit and order the same thing over and over! I really need to get back out into Charleston and explore the independently owned restaurants since I loathe chain establishments! Having been gone for six years I've lost touch with all that is local. I feel like a stranger in my own city!

Before we went out Chantel gave her kids their chocolate Easter bunnies after they promised to eat only a small part and save the rest for later. We told them that the proper thing to do was eat the bunnies ears first so that is exactly what they did!

Aren't the ears the best part??

Monday, April 13, 2009


Today was my Mother's birthday. I tried not to think about it but it was a lost cause. She would have been 63.

My goal was to go to the cemetery to leave flowers. Not that she was ever able to do it due to lack of transportation, but it was important for Mom to leave flowers on my Fathers grave and I wanted to to the same for her. When I left work it was cold and rainy so I decided that I would wait until it the weather was a bit nicer. It's funny how I love a cemetery on a cold and overcast day to take pictures, but can't be brought to my parents grave to save my life on a miserable day like today.

When I came home I worked on my room a bit. Even though I plan to paint in the near future, I hung the surround sound speakers so I could properly watch a movie. The pink walls have got to go... what was my Mom thinking? It's starting to feel like it's more of my room than my parents and that is a good thing! There's still so much more in the closet to move out of here, but we are running out of places in the garage to put things. We need to have a yard sale and the thought of that makes me ill. I just don't want to be involved with it. Some days I feel like all of this will never be done!

After three weeks at my new job I finally got a desk of my own and I hate it. I am at the very end of a long walkway so there is constant traffic. My days go by slower that they have in the past couple of weeks. I used to kill the boredom by texting T. back and forth all day. I am trying to break the habit of looking at my phone all of the time in hopes of seeing a message from her. Texting her was such a break from a monotonous job! Now every time I look at my phone I am disappointed because the only thing I see is the clock staring back at me instead of the message indicator.

I need to get away... to take a weekend trip. There's no therapy like a long drive!

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Last week I was talking to my friend Edna at work and she asked me if I was going to spend Easter with my family. I paused for a second and then looked at her and said "I have no family." I didn't mean this harshly but there are times when I realize that the dynamic of the immediate family that I once knew is now gone. Several years ago, if I was living in town I would have normally spent Easter with my parents but those days are gone. Aside from my Aunts and Uncles (who are slowly dwindling away!) the only immediate family I have is my sister.

When I said this Edna's eyes started filling with tears. Her mother passed away last month so we have that in common. She told me to come to her house and eat dinner with her family and I accepted her offer with the promise to make banana pudding.

Being the procrastinator that I am, last night I went to Wal-Mart to get the banana pudding ingredients around Midnight. Every time I go to this particular Wal-Mart I leave cursing because I normally have to go to a second store to get the rest of the things I need because they are always out of everything - last night was not the exception. How can a Wal-Mart Supercenter not have bananas? I mean, really... not one single banana! How can a girl make banana pudding without bananas? I was thoroughly disgusted. Had I not needed the items that I had in my cart I would have walked out of the store, but I chose to get in one of the very slow moving two lines that they had open. After a 30+ minute wait I finally checked out and headed to the 24-hour K-Mart because all of the grocery stores in town close early these days. It seems Wal-Mart, yet again, has killed businesses! Since they are stealing all the other stores customers you would think they would have more than two cashiers the night before Easter! And people wonder why we call it "The Devils Playground"!

At K-Mart I picked out the things I needed in less than ten minutes and headed to the check out. This particular store had only one cashier and the people in front of me had two carts full of groceries. If the cashier moved any slower she would have turned to stone! After 15 minutes the manager came up and asked where the other cashier was and cashier #1 said she didn't know. He proceeded to take all of the people behind me and ring them up at customer service. I couldn't follow them because I had weighable produce. Ugh. While standing in line I noticed that the woman in front of me with all the groceries was familiar looking. After long thought I realized she was one of my cashiers at Piggly Wiggly years ago but for the life of me, I couldn't remember her name. I was thankful that I wasn't recognized by her because I wasn't in the mood for small talk.

When the cashier was nearly finished ringing up this couple the manager approached me and said that he could ring me up at customer service. I told him I had produce and he gave me a little nod as if to say "we'll take care of that!" Whatever! By then, I was so tired all I wanted to do was go home... I still had banana pudding to make. It was 2am.

When I arrived at Edna's today I handed her the pudding and told her that it was made at 3am and that I couldn't make any promises for how good it was going to be! As for the Easter get together, I didn't really expect that many people to be there. I think I counted 12, including myself. Before I went I had to talk myself into going. I wasn't feeling social and just wanted to go for a drive instead. But here I had this damn pudding and a promise to show up. Everyone was very friendly, but they were all family and you know how that is... Edna gave me an Easter basket, which was incredibly sweet! I made the best small talk I could with people I didn't know, watched everyone play Wii, ate and left around 4pm. I had plans to meet T. so I called to let her know I was on the way home.

The rest of my weekend wasn't exceptionally wonderful. I spent a lot of time thinking about what happened with T. Although it is getting better, I am still saddened by the relationship that will never be realized. When she came over today we chatted about everything that happened. It was nice seeing her. I'm still trying to understand and also trying to convince myself that she really means the whole "it's not you, it's me" thing, but I don't suppose I ever will get it and will always think it was something I did. I have no other choice but to get past it and move on. It makes me wonder how is it that I can have sexual relationships and not want a thing more with some people while she had the ability to get under my skin so much that the mere sight of her smile or smell of her skin is enough to make me weak and so incredibly pathetic.


In my attempt to get past all of this I started checking out online personal ads to see what the Internet had to offer. I am a good dater. I like meeting new people, even if it is only to make friends. I am convinced that the lesbian population of Charleston is some sort of underground mafia since they are so well hidden. Most dating web sites have the same group of women, all of which I am not attracted to. I'm not even sure if I want to start doing this, but the other part of me is saying "get out there and stay away from your sisters friends!!" I need to meet people on my own so I think I will give myself some time to heal my little broken heart and then see what happens.

Tonight my ex-girlfriend, Kat, called and we were catching up on what was going on in each others lives. I told her that I was going to start dating again and mentioned while I was browsing one of the websites I came across my boss, which amused me greatly. Of course the first thing I did was call my long-time friend and co-worker, Jackie to tell her! When I shared this story Kat started laughing and told me to stay away from my boss since that has never worked out for me in the past (yes, we all remember the infamous Linda!) Seriously, though... my boss is not my type - but she does have a speedboat and I could always use a raise! ;)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Brief Hour...

Love is the flower of life, and blossoms unexpectedly and without law, and must
be plucked where it is found, and enjoyed for the brief hour of its duration.
- D. H. Lawrence

This has been my quote on MySpace for well over a year. It's a good quote, I think, and I honestly believe every word. I was reminded of it today when someone I have been seeing for a couple of weeks told me that she doesn't want a relationship... not even to see me in any way but friendship. Even a couple of weeks into it, I wasn't exactly sure if I wanted one either, but I was willing to wait and see what developed. Her, not so much.

It was probably a bad decision to begin with since she is a friend of my sisters. We have known each other for years but never paid attention to each other before my moving back to Charleston. I guess the fact that I didn't date women back then probably had something to do with it too! When I came back to Charleston my sister, her girlfriend, this friend and I would go out for dinner and I slowly developed a crush, as I have the tendency to do at times. My sister would jokingly say that since we were both single we should hook up... I said time and time again that I was not ready to get involved so soon after ending my engagement with Justin.

One night, after hanging out at the bar, I asked her if she wanted to do something the following day and to my surprise, she said yes. We don't really have anything in common but I had absolutely no concern about that. I was so ready to learn about a world I knew nothing of and I hoped that she was interested in me and my weird fascinations as well. The following day we drove out to the Cypress Campground to take some pictures and I had a really great time. Abandoned shacks and outhouses are right up my alley but I was afraid that she would be bored but she hung in there, which I appreciated.

That afternoon we went to lunch and literally sat and talked for hours. We chatted about life, past relationships and our families as the restaurant shifts changed. I was intrigued. Why hadn't I noticed her before? Soon we were spending every available moment together. I was smitten and I must admit that she is the hardest person I have ever tried to read. I normally know when someone is into me. With her, I had no clue.

Being the incredibly brazen freak that I sometimes am, I decided to lay it out there just to find out where she was in all of this mess. One evening I told her that I was interested in her but I was hesitant because of the fact that I just ended a relationship. Also, I was concerned about her being Traci's friend - I most certainly didn't want to make things uncomfortable for them if this did not work out. We had a long talk about taking things slow and that we just wanted to see where things went. I knew that neither of us wanted to jump into something so soon.

Two days ago I felt a shift and for a slight second there was clarity in my mind about the doomed beginning of our relationship. I called a friend and confided that I thought I needed to end something that has never even really begun... not that I wanted to, but because I knew in my heart that she was not there.

I went home and attempted to take a nap but mostly laid there thinking about what I wanted to say and hoped that she would say something to the effect of "Absolutely not! You are the most amazing person in the world and I will fight to the end for you!" Knowing this never seems to happen in my relationships, I IM'd her on Facebook to tell her I wanted to talk to her.

She answered my IM as if she were expecting me to mention that we needed to talk. At that point I knew it was not looking good for us. So after a long and uncomfortable chat here we are... friends only, again.

Today has been filled with a sadness and confusion. Here again, I opened myself up to someone just to get hurt. When will I learn?? I keep reminding myself of my D.H. Lawrence quote. As bittersweet as it may be, I'm thankful for the many sweet moments we shared where my heart was filled with hope. That is such a wonderfully good feeling! In the brief hour of this doomed relationships duration, I am most thankful that she made me realize that my heart does, in fact, still beat.

I was convinced that it died long ago.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Something Good

Would anyone like a pill?

I have been slowly clearing out my Mother's room to make it more of my own and today I conquered the huge Rubbermaid bin that contained all of her prescription bottles. I put all of the pills into a shoe box and which was practically filled when I was through. There were pills that she never opened, pills that were expired and pills that she hasn't taken in years! Why did she keep all of these?? I also cleaned out her drawers and closets so I have a place to put my clothes. I've learned that you have to put your mind in another place so you don't break down every couple of minutes... not an easy thing to do!

I was thinking today about that song from the Sound of Music called "Something Good" where Maria sings "somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good" because she's all of the sudden met the Captain and has fallen in love. She sings...

Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked miserable past
I must have had a moment of truth

So, Maria finds her happiness but I'm wondering when I'm going to cash in on my moments of truth and good deeds?? I keep trying to tell myself to look at the small good things that happen in my life like the random act of kindness of the person in front of me at the drive-thru paying for my order before taking off, or getting to know a new crush during a wonderful walk downtown, or seeing the beautiful azaleas bloom in the front yard.

The moment I try to stay positive, I get more bad news.

The Uncle that I am incredibly close to was just diagnosed with state three lung cancer. I am now completely convinced that God does not exist and if he/she does, I must have really pissed him/her off in a former life. How can this be happening to my family AGAIN?? We just buried two people in February. Give us a break! I found out during my first week at my new/old job. When I read the email I just started shaking and the more I tried to compose myself the more the tears came. I am sure the other employees were looking at me like I was crazy. Luckily I know other people in the building so I went to see them to cry and vent.

I can't believe this is happening again. I don't know of another family that has had so much loss.

So once again, like so many times before this one... I focus on the positive and hope for the best outcome possible. I stop to look at the azaleas. I open myself up once again to letting someone in. I pause to smell the ocean air that I missed so much. I wake up each day ready for "something good" because it's bound to come eventually.

Dum Spiro Spero (While I breathe, I hope.)