WAKE UP, Darling!
I feel compelled to inform you upfront, this is a long read for a blog post.
But it's inspired. By some force other than myself.
I literally leapt out of my cozy bed this morning, on fire about penning this post.
I barely had the patience to responsibly brush my teeth, wash my face (and hands, of course!) and
feed my cats. So here I am. Brushed. Washed. And with felines with full tummies.
If you have been reading any of my writing over the past decade, you know I love to be lighthearted and focus on the positive and that I can find humor, albeit sometimes very very dark humor, in pretty
much any situation. I try to blend wit with my wisdom. Or sometimes just provide entertainment, because it entertains me to entertain you!
But today I'm not in the mood for funny imagery from vintage magazines or clever artwork (my own, of course!) or ironic phrases.
For those of you who know me, or anything about my life and my passionate soul, you know I can
rant with the best of them. And that's what I'm in the mood for today...a good RANT. So let me climb upon my soapbox and get at it.
Warning: Do not bother fact checking me on any of these numbers or "facts" I toss out ...they are educated guesstimates because I'm not taking the time to look up numbers, and I'm not running for political office. So who cares.
Additional Warning: I'm going to be using the F word a lot, probably, because, well, again, I'm not running for political office, and I'm pissed...so who cares.
Okay...Here We Go!
This morning I heard another clip of our nation's president/leader...from another speech containing misinformation and/or ridiculousness. This time he was saying that the American people are full of "vim and vigor" and want to get back out there...back to the America we all know and love. He is now waxing poetic about how wonderful it would be to have all of us "back at it," back to "normal"...and at church on Easter Sunday. Ok, as the cool kids say...or were saying when it was cool to say it, which it's probably not:
I cannot even.
Easter? Church? Oh right. Hooray! Let's all pretend everything's fixed and dye eggs together! Just so our economy keeps churning out crap. (Sorry, when I mentioned I'd be using the F word a lot, I really meant all expletives!)
I'm not going to address the whole global, human issue of "we are one"...and this pandemic
being the great equalizer of the rich, poor, black, white, Muslim, Christian, etc. Because it's a virus that will kill you no matter what god you do or don't believe in, no matter what color your skin and no matter what your bank statement balance. If you even have a bank account.
The democratization is a fact. This virus showing us that the "boundaries" we create or want to create to define our countries and belief systems are all just meaningless constructs when it comes to a rampant disease. We are not separate, as much as some of us want to believe we are. And I see how many good things could come from this in our global/ human evolution...but other people are ranting on about that, and you can read what they're saying.
Right now, I'm going to focus on our country...the USA.
Okay fellow citizens, listen up, please:
THIS IS NOT ALL BAD. OUR SOCIETY WAS OUT OF CONTROL...PEOPLE WERE GOING INCREASINGLY BATSHIT CRAZY AND OUR PRIORITIES WERE OUT OF KILTER AND SOMETHING HAD TO KNOCK SOME SENSE INTO US. THIS VIRUS IS OUR WAKE UP CALL. IT WILL EITHER ALLOW US TO ANNIHILATE OURSELVES DUE TO OUR STUPIDITY AND THE SELFISHNESS OF SOME WHO ARE NOT KEEPING THEIR ASSES INSIDE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, OR IT WILL BE OUR WINDOW FOR CHANGE.
I know I am not the only one thinking this way. Or knowing this to be true. I have been saying this privately...to myself, inside my own head and heart, and to some of my inner circle of friends and family since the day this began. I've even already mentioned this idea in previous articles. There is a much bigger picture here. There are so many positives that can evolve from this. Not many of us want to see that though. Because we are a society that lives on fear and money and manipulation. And as humans, we see all death as "bad" and most change as "bad" and we live in fear, fear and more fear. We live in our heads and our egos run our lives...rather than living in our hearts and letting our old-fashioned common sense run our lives. Now is the time to look inward. And to look outward, at the bigger picture. If I know one thing from personal experience, it's that we love to hang onto our victimhood. Onto our sadness. Onto our suffering. No one really wants to hear someone saying, THIS IS HAPPENING FOR A REASON. GET OVER IT. STOP FEELING SORRY FOR YOURSELF. LOOK AT THE POSITIVES.
Isn't it funny how humans get so defensive about their panic and pain?
So...this situation is not simply "bad"...and this is why:
First off, let's go back to our president's aforementioned statement...and let's
talk about our health.
VIM AND VIGOR? Our country has one of (if not THE) highest rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc etc etc. We are not a healthy nation. Our grocery store shelves are overflowing with boxes of poisonous, chemical laden crap, for the most part. It's not even food. It's a science experiment. Our government allows things to be sold here as "food" that are not allowed in other countries. We are poisoning our own people. And most of them are not intelligent enough to know. Or they don't want to know.
If you've traveled to other countries, you know that the stereotype of the fat, lazy, (rude) American did not spring forth from nowhere.
We are, for the most part, not full of "vim and vigor." (Does our president even look especially vigor-filled to you?)
We don't strive to teach our children – or our adults – about nutrition or anything else "preventative" in nature.
And why? Well, let's see...because big pharmaceutical companies make a lot of money off of medications to treat disease. And the people who run and/or invest in those companies and make money off of medicating our citizens don't pay for their summer homes in the Hamptons by selling people simple, healthy, whole foods and vitamins, or by telling them to get up off of their Netflix-binging asses and move their bodies. Traditional doctors currently maybe get one or two classes in med school (maybe I heard someone once mention a whole semester? probably not!) related to the ways in which proper nutrition can help their patients.
When my husband had pancreatic cancer at the tender age of 40, we had to hire our own nutritionist, and pay for it entirely out of pocket. And after he recovered from his Whipple Procedure surgery (google it, it's one step below open heart surgery), he was fed green jello and white bread.
I will never forget going in for a follow-up visit with his oncologist (a truly lovely and brilliant gentleman who was the f*cking HEAD of gastroenterological oncology at one of the most famous f*cking cancer hospitals in the entire f*cking world), who, when we broached the subject of nutrition – looking for guidance as to what my husband should be eating post-surgery, and with cancer cells most likely still stealthily circulating in his body...said with a lilt in his voice,
"Go have a Fribble!"
(A Fribble being the name that Friendly's, the chain restaurant not known for their healthy fare, has for their ice cream shakes. I mean seriously. His Harvard educated brain suggested a f*cking Fribble. Filled with sugar...which suppresses your immune system!)
I almost lunged at the man and murdered him right on the spot. But the whole "terminal cancer" diagnosis of my beloved had me a bit numb.
So this is what we're dealing with.
We are, by and large as a society, overweight, unhealthy, overmedicated, lazy, and brainwashed to believe all we need to do is pop a pill or two or three to fix our physical woes and pitiful self-care.
And if we just take those pills, we can keep eating the crap that fills our grocery store shelves. And feed it to our children. Which I for one truly believe should be considered child abuse.
Speaking of OUR CHILDREN...
Our children are for the most part anxious, stressed out, depressed, unhappy and with increased feelings of isolation and of not being understood. They take rampant selfies while at the same time their self-esteem is plummeting due to their obsession with how many "likes" their photos and post are receiving, and comparing their rather normal lives to those "fake-fun-perfect-exciting" lives being portrayed on social media. It tends to make them feel diminished. And competitive. And dissatisfied with their normal, imperfect, unglamorous REAL life. Our children are killing themselves in droves. And who can blame them? What kind of world are they living in, and what do they have to look forward to, given our country's craziness. And I'm talking "pre-virus."
I heard last year that suicide in teens and young adults has surpassed alcohol, drugs and "fast cars" as the number one way our young people die. So many people are shocked. I'm not. I raised three children. One of them died while driving a car too fast. After he'd been illegally drinking alcohol. I'm sure it could have happened without the alcohol. Because teenage boys are famous for feeling
inextinguishable. And thereby, tend to lean toward risky pursuits. Recently I watched a documentary about Gloria Vanderbilt and listened to her speak about her son, newly graduated from college, jumping off the balcony of their NYC apartment many years ago, right in front of her eyes. As devastated as I've been by my son's "moving on"...I cannot imagine how I'd have kept living had I watched him commit suicide before my eyes. It was hard enough to keep waking up each day as it was.
There is almost always something worse than what you're going through.
Parents are working like mad...two jobs...kids in daycare...for what? Mostly, to pay for the house they think they need to own and pay off, that is probably larger than the amount of space they could comfortably live in. For the new car, the vacations, the latest iPhones for the whole family. The "stuff" they think their kids need to have or dress in. Maybe to avoid being bullied...to "fit in."
And now, people are being asked and in some cases forced to stay home, and their kids are home from school, and now many parents are losing their minds and yelling at their kids and
stressing about them getting their schoolwork done. Some of these same parents, when they were working like crazy and stressed to the hilt and not spending much time at all with their own children, were complaining about how busy they were and feeling guilty about not spending time with their children...and now, voila'! ...they're forced to spend time with their kids, to get to know their own children and be there for them and not just pawn them off onto someone else every day...and now they need substances and anti-anxiety meds to deal with it all.
Wake up, fellow citizen of these United States. We were already in deep sh*t. With our priorities in the Vitamix blender. This stuff that's going on? This is a gift. In disguise.
I chose to stay home with my kids after my husband died. It was a gift. I had life insurance money and could focus on them. I was fortunate in that regard. I was able to focus on myself, too. Which included leaving the house and doing things for my own mental well-being. I could have taken a job, but I chose not to. Because I didn't want our grieving children also dealing with a constant barrage of babysitters and daycare. It was stressful, grieving and single-parenting three grieving children...but as many of us who have been through it know, we only get one chance to watch our kids grow up. And if you can't or don't want to spend time with them...then why have them in the first place?!
SO PARENTS...I know you may be stressed, but THIS TIME IS A GIFT. Use it. Connect with your
children. Bond with them. Be calm and don't drug yourself. Be an example of peace and inner strength. Missing a month of school is not going to ruin your children's lives. If they fall behind with their schoolwork, so be it. The time you spend doing things OTHER than schoolwork with them is what they will remember about this time...and what will SHAPE THEIR LIVES, in the long run.
Kids learn more sometimes (most of the time!) from life experience than sitting in a classroom with a textbook education. Following the fucking rules. Be the PARENT. Give YOUR child what he or she needs right now. Take back your parental backbone! I no longer have young children at home, but I learned about taking back my parental authority years ago. You can do it too!
NEXT UP ...OUR PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM
(Note: This is about the SYSTEM, not the teachers, who are also just victims of the system...many amazing teachers are punished or even fired for not following protocol and trying to teach outside of the box...in ways that engage more students. And some teachers sadly leave their jobs, because they can no longer teach within a system that doesn't match up with their values as an educator. It's heart-breaking! Teachers need more respect, more pay, and more love. Maybe now people will begin to see how vitally important and rare those loving, intelligent, creative, courageous, rule-bending-boundary-pushing teachers are. And how worthy they are of a much higher salary!!!)
Our public school system is based on people over a century ago needing to train factory workers...it was created to churn out masses of brainwashed, obedient "workers" who have been trained to obey orders and not question authority. To jump from one task to another when signaled (you know that Pavlovian bell-ringing between classes?)...to have stamina and rise and shine early (no growing child – especially adolescents – should have to be at school before 10AM– nothing good usually comes from a 7:45 start time!) and get behind a desk or machine and do repetitive tasks. I had three children go through our American public school system, outside of the well-meaning and often wonderful teachers and staff, for the most part it is dysfunctional, stifling, and contains an element of shaming if you do not fit into the f*cking box. At its core, the system is set up to kill children's creativity and uniqueness. It rewards academics and good grades and good National testing grades (so the school maintains good standing and gets a big old gold star...and possible funding) and athleticism and tends to not reward THE ARTS and creative thinking and having an actual f*cking opinion.
I met my husband at a well-known and wonderful art college. We spawned, naturally, three wildly creative children. Artistic pursuits, writing, acting, and out-of-the-box thinking was the norm.The school system (s) we were part of attempted to medicate all three of my children. I wouldn't let them. A friend of mine, also blessed with creative children, joined me in the warrior cry, "STOP MEDICATING OUR CREATIVE KIDS!"
A lot of creative kids seem to also fall into the "special ed" category. Because they learn differently and no one knows what the hell to do with them. Special Ed rooms are frequently in the basement of the school building. Or in a spare closet-come-classroom. They may as well make those children wear dunce caps. Interestingly enough, children who don't fit into the mold of our education system are some of the most brilliant and kick-ass-take-over-the-world kids out there. And we have so much to learn from them. And their amazing brains and varied ways of processing information and thinking and problem solving . And I weep for them in our current American education system. And I have indeed wept for them in the past. I could make a career out of trying to remedy this broken and blind and sometimes blatantly cruel system we have. But I can't do it alone. So maybe this virus can!
Our public school system is no longer working and is based on an old and currently irrelevant paradigm. Our children, especially our brilliantly creative children...the ones who will be designing
the next chair in which to sit your oversized ass, the next edition of your overpriced sneakers, and the software program for your newest f*cking laptop are suffering. Spoiler alert: Football players are not going to save the world. Straight A students are not going to save the world if they got those As by memorizing information and are not creative thinkers. Grades mean nothing. They stress kids out and make them break into their anxiety-ridden parent's medicine cabinets to partake of their prescription meds.
At the last yearly school meeting, a month before his death, my youngest son was chastised for not reading whatever boring-ass books were being prescribed by his very nice high school "advanced English" teacher...meanwhile I was explaining that he was at home reading Shakespeare, Kerouac, Hitchens and college level books on psychology and philosophy. That didn't matter. It wasn't in the rule book.
To that I said a silent, "Thank you and go f*ck yourselves."
(Ok, I'll stop there because I could go on and on about our schools and special ed and all of it. But this isn't meant to be a piece all about THAT. Watch talks by Sir Ken Robinson and Seth Godin and Dr. Shefali Tsabary if you'd like to hear more...they are amazing...and also my equally passionate soulmates in regard to this topic.)
So, referring back to the comments of our great leader (cough cough...no that's not the virus, that's my sarcasm tickling my throat), my point is....
WHO THE F*CK WANTS TO GET BACK TO "NORMAL?!"
Who wants to really get back to "THE AMERICA WE ALL KNOW AND LOVE."
The America we supposedly all know and love is not so hot. I feel blessed to have been born in this
great and beautiful country. I am white. Middle class. American. I know I am privileged. The only thing that could have made this trifecta any better would be if I'd have been born a man. (But really, despite the constant battle for things like equal pay and to OWN our own bodies - what a shocking idea! – being a woman rocks!) I have never wanted to move to another country. But in the past year or two I've seriously considered moving to another country! In fact, as I've grown and gotten to know my true self better since my husband's death, I've wondered how it is I wasn't born into a fiercely outspoken and passionate family in some "romance language" speaking country. Or at least a place where people belly-dance and cook with salacious spices.
But no, I was born in New Jersey. To polite, pale and mostly well-behaved people of northern European descent. So I just pretend I'm half Italian or Spanish or Portuguese or Middle Eastern...and live my life accordingly. ;)
It's become the norm for our citizens to be stressed and over-worked – comparing ourselves to others, feeling alone, separate, victimized, angry, unsafe, uncared for by our own government and country. Independence is a wonderful thing. But being "on our own" as our base way of operating is not healthy for our hearts, souls and health.
We are brainwashed by the media to believe we need to fit in, wear the right clothes, have the right hair, go to the right college, buy the right house in the right town, send our kids to the right school so they can go to the right college and get a degree that is either going to be rather meaningless in the long run, or put them into eternal debt. Or both. But hey, at least they'll have that piece of paper. And be able to impress people. And we'll have that bumper sticker for our f*cking SUV. To show what acceptably well-behaved, rule-following parents we've been. Last time I checked, the number
of people who actually work in the field that matches up with their college degree is not very high.
Instead of leading fulfilling lives of their own, many parents often seem to use their kids as trophies – bragging about their accomplishments and degrees and awards. Kids feel pressured to strive and excel and get an A in every f*cking subject. Since when did someone decide that we are all supposed to be good at EVERYTHING. But hey, we need to make our parents proud. After all, they worked so hard and gave up their fun in life just to raise us and give us "the best." Even if the best didn't include much of their most most precious resource: their time.
Once I stood in a neighbor's driveway, talking with the woman who was helping take care of this neighbor's elderly mother. This woman went on and on about her adult children...their amazing, high-paying careers and their accomplishments. She was glowing. She didn't talk about their happiness. Mostly their impressive achievements. She was also kind of oddly bragging about the fact that she and her husband were still working, post-retirement, no doubt paying off the parent college loans.
All I could think was, "When does it end?? You and your husband worked your behinds off and gave up living YOUR life, and now you're in your sixties and still working to pay for your children's impressive degrees...so that they can now work THEIR behinds off, and probably have kids and do the same. When does anyone get to really LIVE?"
There is a great speech by the brilliant and witty philosopher Alan Watts – you can find a lot of his stuff onYouTube – in which he talks about work and life and money and laughingly points out something like, "It's all wretch and no vomit." The "living" and "the reward" is always going to be "some day." Rather nauseating analogy, I know, but so true. We're brainwashed to follow the American Dream (a term coined, I believe, by some home insurance company in one of their ads in the 1950s or 60s)....work hard in school so you can work hard in college...get a good job...marriage, house, mortgage, kids, keep buying new stuff, upgrading, impress the neighbors, look perfect, work-your-bottom-off, and then...retire with a bunch of money. Which you will, all too often, be too sickly/tired/overweight/ unhealthy/ tapped out to actually enjoy.
I don't think I've heard many people claiming to be having the hottest sex of their life in their 70s or 80s or 90s...while at their beach house on Maui. After a day of surfing with their girlfriend. Wouldn't that be awesome though! haha
Personally, I've always just wanted my children to be happy. Or at least content and have peace within themselves. I don't care what they do to allow themselves to cover their basic expenses and beyond. Degrees and awards and high-paying corporate jobs or anything that impresses "most people" have never impressed me. Heart and soul and inner peace and free time and freedom impress me.
Ok, moving on...
So clearly, I for one don't even WANT to "get back" to the country I know (but don't love all that much as it stands.)
I currently am one of the many Americans without health insurance. I know. I'm planning to change that soon. Maine is terrible when it comes to health insurance. I was so much better-insured when I lived in Massachusetts. Of course, the Bay State has other problems. But the insurance rocked! I also live paycheck-to-paycheck, like many people do. Some by choice, some not by choice. Except no one is paying me a paycheck right now. I'm in charge of creating a business and of putting out work that is of value to others...I am responsible for my own paycheck. So I have to produce things of value. On my own. And hope people will value my time, experience and wisdom...and pay me accordingly.
I have never really held security as a big goal in any area of my life...because I know it's an illusion.
There is no such thing as security "out there" in the world. The only security we have comes from within.
IN CONCLUSION (I could keep typing all day/night but I fear some of you have already fallen asleep, so I will continue on this rant in a forthcoming article or book, perhaps!)
We are a nation of people with physical health issues up the wazoo, yet we put little time or effort into educating our citizens about preventative measures. Instead, we pump them full of pills to treat the symptoms. Health insurance (and healthcare in general) is exorbitant and mostly had by people who can privately afford it, or who feel forced to keep working at jobs that make them stressed and anxious and unhappy and depressed...just because their employers provide them with healthcare as a "perk." So basically we have a whole lot of unhappy people stuck in jobs they dislike just to have healthcare. What's the statistic on the number of Americans who dislike their jobs and slug through work each day? 70% or something? I forget, but it's very high. Ironically, the stress that stems from working at a job you dislike and/or don't feel appreciated at makes you more likely to develop a disease.
We are a nation of people with mental health issues up the wazoo...yet, again, we put little time or effort into educating our citizens about the myriad ways nutrition, exercise and many other factors can affect our mental health! The list of "disorders" grows longer every year. If you have anything that is causing you to not feel or act happy or content, there is surely a disorder that you can blame it on or turn it into. Not to say their aren't people with chemical imbalances, but it is being proven that many mental health issues are based on our biology...the mind/body connection. How so many people cannot see or understand the OBVIOUS connection between mind and body baffles me beyond belief.
We are a nation of people who cannot even f*cking BE WITH OURSELVES. And this current "virus situation" with quarantining and social-distancing and self-isolating is clearly showing that. People, for the most part, just cannot be with themselves. They need to binge on movies or tv shows 24/7 and/or use substances to keep them in their usual state...detached from their inner self...comfortably distanced from who they really are. And why would this be? Well...because to spend time with yourself and not go insane or spiral into depression, you have to actually LIIKE YOURSELF. And most people do not like themselves. They don't want to know the real them. Or they know the real them, and they don't like to face that person. If you don't like or love yourself, you cannot truly like or love others. And a lot of Americans clearly don't love themselves.
We are a nation of people who generally seem to take some weird sort of pride in being SO F*CKING BUSY... running around like chickens with our heads cut off...working more hours or second or third jobs so we can put another addition onto our already spacious house or renovate the kitchen one more time or put in that hot tub or buy that new car. Because the one we have with the dent is getting embarrassing. I mean, what will the neighbors think?
Who cares what the f*cking neighbors think!!!!!!!
I have something to confess...I have a SUPERPOWER. I have been through some of the worst losses in this human experience. Twice. Two off-the-charts-devastating, life-as-we-knew-it destroying, heart-stopping, I-wish-I-were-dead-too kind of losses. Not to bore you if you already know this, but I watched my young husband die of cancer before my eyes...leaving our three young children fatherless...and thirteen years later, I watched my teenage son as he lay in a hospital bed, on a ventilator, after a car accident left him brain dead.
I am not special. SO MANY other people have been through losses like these. Completely devastating. For a mother, especially, losing a child is the worst thing you could imagine. Except
there is no way you can imagine it. And even if you have children, and are a mother, you cannot imagine it. Because your brain cannot even go there. It's simply too excruciating.
But when things like that happen to us, we have two choices:
Rise or fall. Sink or swim. Live or die. Spend years in bed crying or cry as needed but then get your ass up and create a new life. Focus on the positive. Learn from your trauma. Learn from your losses. Learn from your mistakes. Learn from your grief. Learn from your guilt, blame, shame, etc.
For those of us who know what it's like to have to rethink, reimagine, and re-create our entire world...all while also dealing with grief and death...all of this current chaos and change and drama and trauma and illness and death is nothing new. Nothing we cannot handle. Nothing that is going toss us into a depression or cause us to come unglued. We have already, if we have learned our lessons from our losses, found our center.
We've got this.
Because we've got PERSPECTIVE.
So listen to those of us filled with wisdom about surviving "life-altering-traumatic-events."
Learn from us. I say this in all humbleness and thankfulness for all I've learned, going through the life experiences I've been seemingly *unlucky* enough to have gone through. Because as I listen to people losing their minds...all I can think is how thankful I am to have the inner strength and resilience I do have.
It's a blessing...and I want to share it with everyone who is feeling weak and devastated and confused right now.
I truly wish I could hug everyone (and possibly also shake everyone!) and say,
"Breathe. Open your mind and your heart. Be extra loving and gentle with yourself and your friends and family and especially, your children. Don't lose your temper with those precious confused souls. Show them your faith in the ultimate goodness of life. Show them your resilience. Even if you have to fake it for a while. It's not all bad. This is happening right now for a reason. You will learn from this. You will come out stronger. You can make this one of the best things to happen to you in your life. You don't believe now, but it's true. And yes, people will die. People you care about or love may even die. If not now, from this, they will die another day, another time, from something else. And you will still need to deal with death. It's difficult. Very. But the Universe is a mystery. And there is so much opportunity for so much good to come out of what so often appears to be so bad. So wrong. So unfair. So...Smile. Laugh. Be grateful. Make the most of your time at home. And...Breathe. "
And, as the brilliant Oscar Wilde (I think!) once said, "Life is far too important to be taken seriously."
During all of this free time, being "stuck" at home, instead of binging on Netflix and watching and rewatching and re-rewatching the news, spend some time imagining who YOU want to be when you emerge from this...and what kind of change YOU want to help create in our rather broken society.
Get to know the real you. Love the real you. Celebrate the real you. Say goodbye to that facade you may have been putting on for the world. To fit in. Find some peace. Spread some love.
I'm sending so much love to everyone. I hope you'll share my words with others. Or at least with others who have a decent attention span. I can't believe I just spent part of the morning and most of the afternoon writing this. If at least one person reads it in its entirety, I'll know my time was well-spent. So share if you feel moved to...I know that so many people need so much support right now. And for some, this is the absolute worst thing they've ever been through.
Much Love and virtual hugs ~
ps. This lengthy submission is undoubtedly not without typos...and there may be repetition of certain points about which I am known to become passionately carried away. Please. Cut me some slack. I'm being held hostage in my rented house by not only the virus, but my two elderly and very needy cats. :) I'm also living with a family of sub-letters, made up of two stressed out parents and two elementary school aged children. So I'm getting a good view of all sides of things at the moment. :)