The Juggling Act

“So, what are you reading these days?”

Every so often, a friend will ask that simple question. Simple and dangerous. Like a dragon deep within its cave, I have to smile in anticipation at an adventurer who does not know his peril.

“Well, I’m getting into a book on the fall of Richard Nixon. Oh, and there’s that new translation of The Iliad. And of course, Missy and I found a really fun modern fantasy series to go through at bedtime, we might have another hit there. And speaking of fantasy, there’s a novel  a co-worker finally got me into …”

No, I’m not just throwing out the coming attractions. This isn’t the to-be-read list, though that particular reading mountain is also impressively high. At any given time, I’m usually juggling anywhere from three to six books. It kind of works out a little bit like a literary version of Mambo No. 5: “A little bit of Asimov in my life, a little bit of history by my side ….”

I know I’m not alone. We’re out there, taking our meandering path less traveled. We’re often the kids who had to be told “No more than five books, OK?” on each library trip, knowing that we’d cart off half a shelf if given the chance – and devour it all.

And invariably, we get two questions from more tightly-focused readers.  “How?” Quickly followed by “Why??”

“How” isn’t something I’m sure I can answer. Like any skill, it seems to be a mix of inclination and practice. It’s not really multitasking (thank goodness) where one to-do interrupts another, lowering your productivity at both. If anything, it’s more like having multiple foods on your plate at dinner: you don’t have to finish your mashed potatoes before starting on the steak, but can alternate bites of both as you like, letting the flavors reinforce each other.

And maybe that’s part of the “Why?” as well. At its heart, this narrative whirlwind may be the most liberating experience I know.

We go through a lot in a day. Everything we touch shapes us, so that we’re not quite the same person from hour to hour, or maybe even minute to minute. Our mood shifts, our energy level shifts, our ability (or desire) to engage with the rest of the world shifts.

And as our life balances and re-balances, the sort of inner world we need may change, too. Like grabbing an umbrella for a rainstorm or a T-shirt for a sunny day, it’s nice to have options. (“The forecast is hopeful and curious, with a chance of random silliness: Yes, this is a great Connie Willis day.”)

It also keeps the stories fresh. We’ve all had the experience where even a favorite book can get a little fatiguing if you KNOW you have to finish it up before you can move on to another story you’re curious about.  Giving yourself the freedom to move from tale to tale as the inclination takes you (with careful bookmarks, of course) can keep all of it fresh and exciting.

It’s also a great reminder that nothing happens in isolation. Like that dinner plate I mentioned, it gives you a chance to combine and compare, bringing out themes you didn’t expect. (This happens to writers, too, by the way. Isaac Asimov once mentioned that the idea for his Foundation series happened when a Gilbert & Sullivan illustration got him thinking about what he’d read of the fall of the Roman Empire.)

So go ahead. Let the worlds collide. It’s your literary universe, after all.

 And when someone asks you that Simple Question – remember to let your inner dragon smile.

A Puzzling Situation

Click. Clack. Click. 

“Hu’p?”

In Missy’s enunciation, that usually means “Help.” And in Missy’s room, with those sound effects, it usually means her favorite puzzle is once again underway. 

In more than 12 years as Missy’s guardians, Heather and I have watched her work a lot of children’s puzzles – ones with planets, dinosaurs, pirates and more. But nothing has equaled the popularity of the Llama Llama puzzle, where the pieces have been handled so many times that the colors are becoming more of a suggestion. 

It’s not that Missy’s a fan of the show. To my knowledge, she’s never watched a single episode. But the Llama Llama puzzle may be unique in the realm of board puzzles. Even by the forgiving standards of that field, its pieces are …. shall we say, highly adaptable? In fact, a given piece may have four or five different spots where it could easily fit without bringing the process to a halt. 

And so, it’s quite possible for Missy to work the puzzle for an hour or more without creating the same picture twice. Mind you, only one of those combinations creates an “actual” picture. The rest of them are a bit more surrealistic, with Llama Llama’s head oddly disconnected from the rest of his body, or a toy train beginning in one corner of the puzzle and continuing in another as though connected by some bizarre hyperspace tunnel. 

But in a way, it doesn’t really matter. One way or another, with or without help, Missy finds her way through. And the answers she finds are indisputably hers. 

That’s truly satisfying. To her. To me and Heather. And maybe to anyone who’s had to assemble a life experience from inconsistent parts. 

Plenty of people have advice on how your picture should look, of course. After all, they know the “right way” to do it. It worked for them, so it’ll work for you, right? 

Now, there’s nothing wrong with learning from the experience of others. That’s how we pick up a lot of things from parents, teachers, employers and even the occasional Muppet. (“Why, yes, Cookie *does* start with C!”) But there comes a point where someone else’s lessons can only go so far.

And sooner or later, we all have to wrestle with the puzzle pieces for ourselves. 

The result may look odd to someone else. Chaotic. Out of order. Certainly unconventional.  But they’re not you. We all start in different places, work through different perceptions, feel the call of different songs. Our lives don’t neatly fit the same box.  

If the picture you build isn’t hurting someone else, chances are you’re doing it right. If it’s removing pain and adding to the world’s beauty, you’re doing it very right indeed.

And if it’s a little weird in the process – well, I’m certainly not in a position to argue.

Llama Llama has now been reassembled for the 1,237th time. (Source: U.S. Department of Imaginary Figures.) His toy box is upside down. His hooves are far enough apart to require a map. But it’s still a scene of celebration.

An answer has been found. Tomorrow’s may be different. But with patience, creativity and a memory of where “edge pieces” go, it will be one that eventually works.

All is well.

No need for Llama drama.

All the Cut-Up Ladies

If life had treated Missy differently, she would have been a first-rate chainsaw ice artist.

Pure speculation, of course. In the real world, Missy’s developmental disabilities and cerebral palsy don’t make her the best match for outsized power tools. (A fact that my wife Heather and I are grateful for during occasional temper tantrums, I might add.) Nonetheless, the potential is clear.

To start with, Missy likes to play it loud. She doesn’t like being surprised by noise, mind you, but if she’s got her hand on the volume … well, as the song goes, it’s time to “Take it to the Limit One More Time.”

Second, Missy does love to create. With crayons and markers. With paint. And most especially these days with collage, where she’ll draft Heather into cutting out ladies from magazines, and then grab a glue stick and some construction paper and POUND POUND POUND everything into place.

Third, and most important, Missy doesn’t see her art as forever.

Oh, Heather and I have saved a lot of it and even hung some of it up; that’s what good guardians do, and there’s a lot of good memories bound up in every piece. But it’s not unusual to see Missy taking one of her works apart again. She’ll start removing stickers, ripping off foamies, or – especially after she’s been working for a while – simply jamming together ladies in a glued-up indistinguishable pile that owes more to stress release than creative impulse.

At the end of a typical art blizzard, the kitchen table will have vanished beneath an onslaught of  construction paper, glue, and cut-out photographs. Within which may be three or four actual art pieces.

And that’s OK.

In fact, it’s wonderful.

Because at the end of the day, art isn’t about having something for the ages or even for the scrapbook. It’s about the joy it brings you in the moment, however temporary and fragile that moment may be.

We forget that. Easily.

Oh, a lot of us used to know it. Ask a little kid to draw, or dance, or pretend to be something, and they’ll typically tear into it with gusto. Ask a co-worker to do it, and what are you likely to hear nine times out of 10?

“Oh, I can’t draw.”

“You don’t want to see me dance.”

“Trust me, I’m no actor.”

We know what expertise looks like, or think we do, thanks to Hollywood and the internet. And so, if we’re not good at something right away, a lot of us stop. Why bother?

That’s sad. Partly because – unless you’re a born genius like Mozart – you have to pass through a lot of “not-good” and “less-good” to reach the level of “good.” But even that overlooks a more important fact: “good” isn’t the object.

Joy is.

My piano playing will never be mistaken for Scott Joplin or Elton John. But it gives me pleasure and it even entertains my friends from time to time. That’s enough.

I know people who create pictures that will never see a museum. Or write poetry that will never climb the bestseller list. It won’t make them immortal. But it does make them happy. It brings out a necessary piece of them.

And if no one else ever sees it, they’ve still had that moment.

Seeing those moments, living them, appreciating them – that is a true art. No matter how the moment is spent.

And if you happen to spend those moments with a chainsaw, know that Missy is with you in spirit. And with an awful lot of glue sticks.

Getting Your Duckies in a Row

The yarn almost clotheslined me as I entered the front room.

“What on Earth?…”

“Sorry!” Heather called out, laughing. “I forgot you’d be walking through here.”

Heather had been busy with our 9-year-old niece, the ever-inventive Riley. Together, the two of them had strung two sharply angled lines of yellow yarn from the bay window to the floor, securing them at each end with packing tape.

“It’s for Ducky,” Heather explained. Riley picked up her ever-present toy duck – the fuzz long since worn smooth by years of loving – clipped him to a coat hanger and hung it at the top of the yarn.

ZOOM! Riley laughed. Heather smiled. I stared agape. They’d built a zip line, sending him as smoothly to the ground as any Colorado rock climber could ask for.

As God is my witness, I didn’t know Duckies could fly.

I suppose by now I should be used to the ingenuity of our younger relations. But that’s the thing about imagination – it keeps creating its own wonder and appreciation. For a moment, you get a flash into someone else’s thinking and it expands your own.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never been that good with my hands, but I’m especially impressed by life’s builders. Particularly in a situation like this where you have limited materials, and manage to create something useful.

That’s not a bad example to have as we head into the primary season.

OK, don’t run and hide. I know that we’ve had election reminders, advertisements, and soapboxes on every side – on the screen, in the mail, on the doorstep, all over the media – and it’s only going to get more intense as we shift from the primaries to the general election. This isn’t a soapbox for one particular candidate … not at the rates they’re offering, anyway.
So why bring it up here? Because like invention, elections are an attempt to get from the ideal to the real with the materials you have.

And sometimes those materials are more limited than we’d like.

We’ve all seen it in so many elections. Nobody gets everything they want. We all have our ideal candidate with just the right resume who would touch all the right issues in just the right way to establish justice, prosperity, and half-price banana splits at Dairy Queen.

And then the actual candidates appear. And they’re … people. Ones with … well, maybe some of what we want. But we start wading through this one’s history, and that one’s attitude, and the one who trips on their tongue every three sentence. Sooner or later, someone says it: “Are these really the only choices we have?”

I am convinced that we could have the reincarnations of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Fred Rogers walk into the room and we’d still find ourselves asking that question.  Even at its best, politics invites criticism and challenge; at its most vicious, it can make a Broncos-Raiders game look like a tea party.

We’re not getting everything we want. Any of us.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t build something with what we have available.

And that’s what all this is about. Building something that makes this a better place for all of us.

Sure, you still have to use your judgment. Not all materials are equally useful and some may burn down the house entirely. But if we focus on what needs to be built – if we keep the hope that something CAN be built, and work toward it – even a limited tool box can make a difference.

It may not look like much. It may be totally improvised. But if we keep working at it, we just might surprise ourselves with the results.

And that would be just Ducky.

A Moment Made

Some of life’s great truths have the staying power of Keith Richards and Bob Dylan combined. Which is to say, they’re not pretty, but there’s no getting rid of them.

One of these truths is that the new guy will always get the “fun” stuff.

A second is that the news always happens, regardless of any calendar dates or holidays.

Put these together, and you’ll understand why, about 20 years ago, I was heading into the newsroom of The Garden City Telegram on Christmas Day.

Mind you, the world wasn’t burning down – well, no more than it usually is, anyway. No apartment buildings had exploded, no planes had crashed on Main Street, no eccentric billionaires had decreed that every resident of southwest Kansas was getting a lifetime cash award. (Darn it.) But there would still be a newspaper on Dec. 26, and so the rookie got to come in and keep an ear on the police scanner in case anything happened … and to work on a short feature in case nothing did.

Appropriately enough, I spent the time talking to my colleagues of the moment – namely, the others who by choice or circumstance found themselves working on the holiday. Truckers. Ambulance workers. Police officers. All the folks who quietly keep the gears moving, even when life seems to come to a halt.

For most, it wasn’t a day lost, but a day postponed. There would be time to celebrate, to observe, to enjoy … once the job was done. A time claimed rather than found, a moment to be made rather than simply reached.

I still appreciate that.

After all, it’s a lesson Heather and I came to know very well.

***

Christmas Eve in Garden City. Our first as a married couple. A friend had invited us to a candlelight service, one of Heather’s favorite things in the world – only for one of her chronic illnesses to have a brief flare-up that evening. We didn’t have to go to an emergency room, but we clearly weren’t going anywhere else, either.

Young husbands do many things out of desperation. Which is how I happened to sit at our piano that night by candlelight, playing carols from the hymnal and reading appropriate sections of the Christmas story.  Since Heather couldn’t go to the candlelight service, I brought the service to her.

We weren’t where we meant to be. We weren’t where we wanted to be. But together, we made the moment.

And a memory that still endures for both of us.

***

We imbue dates with a lot of power. That can create a sort of magic where it feels like everyone around you is acting in a common purpose, to a common goal. But if for some reason you’re disconnected from the revelry, that approaching holiday can become awkward instead of wonderful, something that everyone else gets to enjoy while you stand to one side.

And like that, “Christmas is coming” starts to sound less like a carol and more like a threat.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Christmas isn’t about Dec. 25. It never was. It’s about setting a time aside to recognize unexpected joy and quiet love, to treasure those who are closest to your heart and focus on what’s truly important. To see those around us as people deserving of kindness (even if they do have horrible taste in sweaters).

That’s a moment that can be claimed at any time.

Or even at every time.

May that moment always be with you, whenever you choose to make it. May it comfort you with a warmth that will last and endure.

If we’re truly fortunate, it might even outlast Keith Richards.

One in a Gillion

One In a Gillion

 

Inspiration hit as soon as Gil saw the old flood photographs. Caught in the moment, he hurried to the piano and struck up his latest composition:

Going on a flood trip,

We grabbed a surfboard,

Surfed all the buildings …

Not bad for 7 years old, right?

It’s been a while since Mister Gil visited this space. That’s because it’s been a while since Mister Gil visited Colorado. My young nephew is a denizen of Washington State these days, which makes random drop-bys about as common as a Seattle Mariners World Series win. But recently, lightning struck – his parents were back in town for a reunion, which meant Gil would be staying the night with us.

Which meant, in turn, that I would be discovering Gil’s many, many talents.

Such as improvisational piano.

And kitchen dancing. (“Uptown Funk” remains a favorite.)

And ciphers of many sorts.

And spur-of-the-moment jokes and puns. (Well, he is my nephew.)

And card games. (I’ve grown rather fond of “Garbage.”)

And … well, anything else he puts his mind to, really. It doesn’t matter if he’s done it before. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t even matter if he’s heard of it before. If it can be managed by an 7-year-old’s hands, feet, or imagination, Gil will give it a try.

I’d call it a fearlessness, except Gil doesn’t know there’s anything to be brave about. It’s just all stuff to try. In that, he’s wiser than a lot of adults, including his uncle.

Down in the kitchen, I have recipes that I want to learn to make one day.

In our guest room is a guitar that I keep meaning to get back to.

Of course, there are the beginner’s drawing tools in my desk drawer. Not to mention the novel that I really will get going on one of these days – promise.

It’s easy to plead time, or exhaustion, or any of a dozen other reasons. Sometimes they’re even legitimate. But for many of us, I think the gap between a Mister Gil and grown-ups like Uncle Scott comes down to two simpler things – habit and focus.

Habit is the behavioral version of Newton’s First Law: we tend to keep doing what we’re used to doing. At 7, Gil is used to doing … well, everything. But the rest of us have comfortable skills, useful routines, boundaries. Talents at rest tend to remain at rest.

And that, in turn, is largely a product of focus.

Have you ever asked a very young child what they want to be when they grow up? Odds are you’ve heard something like “I want to be a firefighter … and a doctor … and a princess … and a tree.” And somewhere along the line, we encourage them to pick something, to find what they’re good at, to concentrate on that so their skill will grow and expand.

By itself, that’s not a bad thing. Every skill needs concentration and discipline if it’s to develop, and no one has time to master absolutely everything. But too often, a corollary comes with it. If a skill doesn’t come easy, or if it’s one we’ve not tried, we learn to draw sharp borders.

“Oh, I can’t do that.”

“I’m no good at that.”

“That’s not my thing.”

No one has to like everything, of course. But like a child in front of an unfamiliar dinner, we’re often too unsure of what we’re seeing to risk a new taste.

It’s OK to try.

It’s OK to learn something you won’t master.

It’s OK to dabble, to play, even to discover you’re not good at something … and that you enjoy it anyway.

That, too, is a joy.

By the time this sees print, Gil will be back in Washington. But I think he’s left a little bit of that fearless discovery behind. All I know is, I’m going to have to dust off that guitar pretty soon.

After all, “Flood Surfing” won’t play itself.

A Mountain of Choices

I came home from work one day to find I had no kitchen table.

In its place loomed a minor mountain range of paper and glitter glue and washable paint, covering every inch of the wooden surface and possibly a few nearby air molecules to boot. I smiled and shook my head, reading the signs as surely as a billboard.

Missy the Artist had been at work again.

Regular readers of this column will remember our developmentally disabled ward Missy, whose creative impulse can seem somewhat akin to placing pepperoni on a takeout pizza: namely, that if some is good, more is better, placed with as much vigor and energy as possible. But her approach to, say, collage or painting, is actually a bit more subtle than that.

First comes Step One: The Early Deliberation. At this stage, Missy has surveyed the canvas – er, pardon, the sheet of paper – and decided exactly where each element needs to go. If assistance is needed, she will then indicate this sport to my wife Heather with great determination, so that glue may be placed at the proper location, followed by the proper piece of cut-up magazine. Failure to match this precision will be met with a disgusted “Noooo, here!”

“Here?”

“Nooooo! HERE!”

This continues through the first couple of dozen gallery creations. Then, at Missy’s discretion, an unseen line will be crossed and we will enter Step Two: What The Hell.

At this point, precision and planning take a back seat to enthusiasm. The object becomes to create as much art as possible, as though it were going to be made illegal in the next 15 minutes. It’s entirely possible that a stray hand on the table may find itself painted blue and purple, wrapped in glitter tape, and adorned with cutouts from Glamour magazine.

“Lookit! Look!”

The funny thing is, the method seems familiar.

It’s the approach of a sports team as the season gets late, when carefully-applied draft schemes and lineup theories give way to simply surviving the final few games.

It’s the approach of a cast and director when trouble arises on Opening Night, and a solution has to be improvised in real time.

And it’s the approach of so many of us with our Issues of the Moment, whether personal or political. The world is busy, life keeps happening, and at some point, the ideal solution gives way to the pragmatism of getting something done, even if it’s not perfect.

And that’s OK.

There’s an old saying that “the perfect is the enemy of the good” – in other words, that insisting on the absolutely perfect can keep you from seeing something that’s perfect enough. Call it paralysis by analysis, or writer’s block, or gridlock, the end result is the same: frustration that only really lifts when we can take a breath and simply try something. Because not only is “something” better than nothing, it’s often pretty good on its own terms.

When I perform art triage on Mount Missy, sure, some items are too chaotic and tangled to be displayed or stored. But an awful lot survives. Some of it even thrives on a wall or a refrigerator door. And whether its origin was deliberate or frantic, all of it is there to be considered – and some of it, from every stage of creation, is pretty darned fun.

So go ahead. Push on. Make the choice that works. Let the mountain range rise.

And when you’re done, start soaking up some paper towels to clean the table.

Seriously. That glitter glue is stubborn stuff.

Never Silent

I’ve started and stopped this column about half a dozen times so far. I doubt I’m alone. Some things, some events are just hard to wrap your mind around.

And when it comes to the murders at Charlie Hebdo, that may just be an understatement.

Understand, I’m used to people who don’t get freedom of the press. Especially this week. This week seemed to abound with folks who flunked Civics 101, reaching its peak in County Councilman Kirby Delauter of Maryland, who became a figure of national ridicule for telling a reporter to never publish his name without his permission or he’d sue. In response, the paper’s next editorial not only used his name in virtually every sentence, it used the first letter of each paragraph to spell out K-I-R-B-Y D-E-L-A-U-T-E-R.

It seemed like a perfect time to smile, laugh and remember a few basic truths. To get silly in a good cause.

Then the news out of Paris came. And it stopped being funny anymore.

I had never heard of Charlie Hebdo before the attacks. I know the type, though. Satire always carries an edge, ready to skewer the sacrosanct and roast the untouchable, whether with the neatness of a rapier thrust or the messy vigor of a chainsaw.

It’s meant to shock people, often to make them step back and think. And it invariably makes enemies. Among reporters, there’s a saying that if you never offend anyone, you’re not in journalism, you’re in public relations. That goes double in satire, where targets are mocked deliberately and openly in a day’s work.

This time, the laughs were answered with blood.

For anyone who creates, this is the fundamental fear. And it’s one that can be fatal in more senses than just the obvious.

When ideas carry punishment, something important dies. When saying the wrong thing can get you fired, arrested, or even killed, the fences start to go up. The bravest fight on, perhaps, but most simply keep their heads down and watch their step. And self-censorship is the most insidious kind of all.

Kill one artist and a hundred more quietly die with her.

I’m aware that calling Charlie an “artist” may be a bit much for some, like putting Mad Magazine in the ring with Pablo Picasso. But freedom of expression and the press doesn’t just protect the elegant. It guards the crude, the irreverent, even the outright repulsive. The problem with saying “No, not him,” is that everyone has a “not him”; protecting those is the surest way to ensure it doesn’t become a “No, not you” someday.

All of which can sound awfully abstract when gunfire starts to ring in the streets. But it matters. Now, more than ever.

Now, a world has to show that fear will not win.

Not by declaring wars, or announcing new laws, or the dozens of things that societies often reach for in the wake of a murderous attack. But by continuing to speak. To laugh. To shout. To risk offense. To show that our voices will not be silenced, that our ideas will not be locked in a drawer and forgotten.

In a way, it’s Kirby Delauter all over again. How do you respond to a demand for silence? Speak even louder.

Delauter, of course, is still a civilized man. He apologized and withdrew his words. I doubt we’ll get the same courtesy from the Charlie shooters or those like them. But that doesn’t matter. The tactics remain the same. Hold the line. Stand the ground. And never let the walls rise.

This is about all of us, polite or obnoxious, French or American, left or right or center. This is about an idea, even a dream.

And it does not die here.

On the Other Hand

As I watched Missy reach for a marker and color in a picture, something struck me. I braced Heather about it later.

“Is Missy left-handed?”

“Yes,” my wife said smiling. “I didn’t realize it either until we started painting together.”

I had to chuckle. For a moment, despite no blood relationship, Missy and I had become kin.

No, I’m not a southpaw. Not exactly, anyway. It’s more like I found the cast-off parts of a left-hander and a right-hander in a yard sale and bought the mixed kit. You can call it partial ambidexterity if you want – or you can just call it a total mess. I’ll probably agree either way.

All I know is, I can write slowly and clearly with my left hand – or fast and messy with my right.

I’ll hit a baseball right-handed. But I throw it from the left.

The little bit of clumsy stage fencing I know starts with my left hand. But my rare attempts at clumsy basketball layups start on the right.

Having a foot – pardon me, a hand – in both worlds does have its advantages at times. I’ve never had to fumble at desks and drinking fountains made for a right-handed universe. But I’ve also been able to play a killer game of air hockey, flipping the paddle back and forth to the confusion of merely monodextrous opponents.

It’s kind of fun, actually.

Especially compared to the life I could have had.

When I was little, I had what my folks described as a bilateral syndrome, possibly an offshoot of my epilepsy. You could draw a line right down the center of my body, and past that line, my hands would lose their coordination.

A lot of work with some very patient people finally erased the line. They built up my dexterity – maybe a little too well, looking at the results. But I’m not complaining.

After all, it fits me so perfectly.

As I’ve grown up, I’ve realized there’s rarely just one right way to do something. Politically, that’s made me a moderate (and yes, shot at by both sides). Practically, that’s made me a curious person, eager to see what someone else might think or how someone else might approach a situation.

The results can be surprising, just as when I pick up a guitar the “wrong” way. But it can also be illuminating. At worst, I notice a detail about someone that I’ve never known before. At best, I pick up an angle or an idea that makes my own life a little easier. (I still owe a lot to the teacher’s assistant who taught me how to write papers back-to-front for instance, starting with my destination and building from there.)

Life doesn’t seal itself into neat boxes. And I’m glad for it. It means a little more work, but a lot more fun.

That’s never wrong. Even when it’s not right.

Now that I think about it, I haven’t tried any serious drawing in a long time. The next time I sit down with Missy, I may have to follow her lead, see if my left hand has another surprise it hasn’t told me about.

It may end up a mess, of course.

But if it doesn’t, I’ll have to thank her for giving me a hand.