I saved a bee

Record scratch: you might be wondering how I got here.

Okay, as pretext, last night when it was raining, I let the dog out and she started throwing around with her mouth what turned out to be a cold and wet bee that landed on our patio rug. I shooed her away, mostly so she wouldn’t get stung and when I made her go out right before bed, the bee was still there, and surprisingly still alive so I grabbed my new planter and put it over the top of the bee so the dog would leave it alone. Plus, it was only 48 degrees out there, and wet, and I felt very bad for the bee. So I remembered from the internet, or Girl Scouts, when you see a tired and hungry bee, get it some sugar water for strength. So I did that on a tiny little pink spoon Baskin Robbins gave to my kid the other day so he could taste the sorbets. And the bee drank, or was trying not to drown, and so I put the planter back over him and the tiny spoon and went to bed. I figured it would at least keep him from getting wetter and possibly would create like a greenhouse warming event thing in there for him. And the planter is kinda shaped like a hive from Winnie the Pooh so I figured I was his new luxury Airbnb host and I could charge him a cleaning fee when he got better in the morning if he didn’t already fly out the drainage holes before I could could deliver the bill.

Well this morning came, as expected, and I pulled his little, plastic hive-mansion up and he was still there, and somehow still alive. The bad news was that 40 thousand ants had crashed the place and were all sipping from the sweet sugar water like they were at some kind ant sugar water rave. I will also be charging them my Airbnb service fee.

So I got a scrap paper and airlifted the bee out of there and onto the patio table in case the ants, all hyped up on the juice, decided to zombify the bee from the inside out, using his body to cause chaos and destruction, or however it happens on those bug documentaries.

I should probably stop here to mention that I am in a current escalating situation with the ants prior to, and concurrent with this newest bee update. As in, they are taking over my home this spring, causing my cat and dog to have to eat refrigerated kibble on a highly regulated and enforced schedule, the kids are vacuumed off after eating dinner, or candy, or a chip. Backpacks are emptied and hung outside until next needed, etc. And I just found out that ant queens live 30 years. Listen up, “Ant Queen”, 30 years ago I was driving my Honda CRX to school through quiet neighborhoods at 7 AM with the windows down singing “I Will Always Love You” at the top of my lungs. Get on my level.

Back to the cold bee.

So I put the little, nearly frozen bee up on the patio table for safety, ie the dog and the thousand strong evil ant army, and I got him some new sugar water and spoon that the ants had not sipped from, and I watched him struggle like he was a House of Wax victim but what more could I do?

That is until I took the dog for a walk and noticed all the dandelions the rain encouraged. So I picked a couple and brought them home and presented them to my new bee friend. Oh god, I sound like the lady from the Bee Movie. It’s not like that, I swear. I should delete this whole post now. I’m an absolutely not weird Bee Movie way, I put the flowers next to the bee. And he sat there. Like his insides were made of molasses. Or zombie ants. And he was like that the rest of the day.

Being a bee savior is very stressful, by the way.

I decided he probably needed to get warm and got to googling how cold is too cold for a bee to deal with his issues outside and not have to be brought into my house. Google told me to lovingly let the bee warm up on my skin. That’s not happening, sorry Bee Movie. But if you’re not a human lady in a relationship with a bee, the next thing to do is to put a facecloth in a shoe box with water droplets and breathing holes. That still sounds like a bee in my house once he warms up and busts through the shoebox, but he was cold and I felt awful for him, so I put him in a jar like a firefly, and i gave him a warm washcloth and a water droplet and the dandelions I got him and terrifyingly brought him inside.

I should mention here that I am paralyzingly phobic of bees, and wasps and the like. Like, on my future Wikipedia page, this will have its own bullet point. But my little bee started warming up! And he climbed on his dandelion and started rubbing his face and whole body all over it, and about fifteen minutes later I heard buzzing against the tinfoil on top of the jar and I screamed in panic and opened up the back door and somehow rolled the jar outside, the tinfoil falling off and the bee flying off into the sunlight finally peeking through the gray clouds. Hopefully he finds his way back to his little hive and tells all the bees how nice I was to him, my description, what I sound like, my face!!! and they leave me alone forever.

Anyway, I saved a bee and it was exhilarating and stressful and he better leave me a positive review on yelp.


My sister died 18 years ago tomorrow. And i still vividly remember when it was 18 hours ago, 18 days. And the thing of it is, that very specific mindset feels as relevant now as it did then. 

I had dreams those first few days, dreams where i swore she was talking to me, and maybe she was, who would even know, I’m not a ghost expert, but the dreams felt different, hit different as the kids say. They were so real. And Julie told me in those dreams that she could only come see me for a week. A week is all she had. And I’m not sure if I’ve dreamt about her since, so maybe there’s truth in there, I don’t know. I remember the day she died, the day i found out, the day we all found out, it was a Sunday. I had considered calling her the night before but I didn’t because my husband, fiance at the time, and I were watching a movie and my phone was plugged in all the way across the room. And i was still a little mad at her for reasons that no longer matter. She died on a Sunday and there was an awards show on and I watched it but I don’t remember anything about it. I just kept thinking that it wouldn’t be true if we didn’t pass the 24 hour mark. And then the next day happened so the goal line changed. 48 hours. If she could just wake up before 48 hours passed. And then 48 hours passed. And then a week. And then I convinced myself she was in the witness protection program and she would knock on my door one day with a different name and a wink. She hasn’t shown up. 

18 years. That’s an entire adult. One of us could’ve birthed a child that day and they would be an official adult tomorrow, able to vote and everything. 

And I’m hesitant to write about it, to post about it in any capacity because i feel responsible for the mourning process of a whole bunch of different people which is ridiculous, but that always felt like my job. 

I spoke to her for a long time after. I mentally introduced her to all my coworkers, i laughed at inside jokes with her at the grocery store. When it felt like everyone around me was falling apart except for me, i rolled my eyes with her, begged her to hear me. Probably because I was falling apart, but all the positions for the role had filled up quickly. So I assumed my usual role and consoled and listened and pretended it didn’t affect me and I wanted so badly for everyone around me to treat me the same. No pity, no sorrow. If I could go back, I wouldn’t have told anyone about it. Because now it’s a “thing”. It’s my life altering, Wikipedia bullet point. People will ask “do you have any brothers or sisters?” And I do. I have a wonderful brother who I love dearly, and if I stop there, I deny the existence of her. If I mention that I HAD a sister, then I feel guilty for making someone feel bad for asking a simple question. So sometimes I say I have a brother and a sister and leave it there but then you have to pray the questions move on so I don’t have to perform the awkward, past tense dance. A lot of times I’ll throw my sisters-in-law in there to muddy the waters. 

People don’t really talk about the loss of siblings, except us siblings that have lost and feel like we have to whisper our pledges to each other in cathedral basements in robes and masks like we’re in a secret society.

Which feels unfair to even bring up. I’m a parent. I would burn the city to the ground if I lost one of children. And I am so lucky to still have both of my parents, happy and healthy and alive and I’m not ready to even consider losing either of them. My nephew isn’t as lucky. So it feels selfish to demand time to grieve, recognition to grieve as a sibling, even though I have a deeper connection to my inner self with my sibling and my relationship with how i developed as a person than i do with either of my parents or my children. But like, that’s still a me issue that I do not want sympathy for. It’s been 18 years. A whole adult.

And I realize writing this is in itself begging for attention, “look at my tears!” she cried on social media. I guess I write it, not for me, but for others, a bat signal to those lost siblings, to anyone reading this far, for myself to publicly grieve like I’m looking for likes (I’m not and i know I’ll regret this tomorrow). But mostly, anyone reading this, please make those phone calls that you assume you can just make tomorrow. Please reach out to me if you need to grieve in secret (bring your robes, I’ll teach you the handshake) but the absolute most important message of this entire self-indulgent rambling, change the batteries in your fire alarms right now.

TLDR: change the batteries in your fire alarms right now. 

Send it to the Internet

Full disclosure, I could just be nearing an episode like a Victorian lady whose family would then send her off to the shore for a rest but I am almost at a point of my life of going back full analog, I type out on a laptop to a blog on the world wide web.

Maybe it’s the pandemic. A lot of it is the pandemic. A year and a half ago, an already decades long obsession with social media grew almost necessary to keep mentally healthy in lockdown, to know that my friends and family were okay. Zoom happy hours and Instagram pictures of mask designs and stock-piled wine and Twitter trends to constantly keep up with COVID outbreaks and whether the country was going to fall into fascist rule.

Maybe it’s that when I was watching Cobra Kai, I thought about how lucky Johnny Lawrence was when he didn’t know what Facebook was. Maybe it’s that while I was watching Money Heist I thinking about how nice it would be to be locked in a bank without any way for someone to get a hold of me. Or know where I am. Or what I’m doing. Without knowing what my friends are doing that’s better than what I’m doing. Or which ones think that masks and vaccines are for the weak. I’m tired.

Maybe it’s that about 2 and a half months ago my friend died. My internet friend that I met in 1993 on a Prodigy bulletin board for Kids in the Hall. My internet friend, that turned a real life friend and had been with me on every social media site up until now. Because now that she’s not there to laugh with me, the internet doesn’t seem fun anymore. And it keeps moving on and changing and I don’t have it in me to figure any of it out anymore. I don’t want to know how reddit works. I don’t want to learn Discord or Tik Tok or Spotify or whatever else. I don’t want my kitchen timer spying on me to send me deals on Facebook for the Nerf gun my kid said he wanted at dinner.

I want out. I want to go back to my flip phone and cds. I don’t want to sit on the couch scrolling other people’s lives for hours. I don’t want to keep being reminded that my friend is gone. I want my life back.

Am I having a midlife crisis? Maybe, but I feel kind of excited at the thought of going off the grid and I know how that sounds. If I were watching me in a movie, I’d think, “Uh oh” but I don’t feel on the verge of a breakdown. Not when I’m off social media anyway. What the pandemic taught me is that I’m happiest locked in a house with my family with no social responsibilities and nothing to take pictures of to post to Instagram and Facebook for the serotonin dose from 3 likes. Imagine what I could accomplish if I wasn’t constantly on the internet.

I just wish it was as easy to let go of it all. The thing of it is, is that I care deeply for my friends. I want to know that they’re happy and okay and that I was online to wish them a happy birthday, but I need a break. Maybe a rest at the shore.

Listen to My Story!

There is a story that is out there, acting like a grown-up, getting read aloud like some sort of literature. And I wrote it. I wrote a story that someone out there, who I don’t even know had to read. Aloud. Professionally. Probably more than once, that poor woman.

I knew this was coming at some point, but when I woke up this morning and saw the notification on my phone screen that it was real, it was here and real, everything stopped. And then I avoided it.

Okay, so I have been writing a book. You’ve likely heard this from me for about 5 years or something. I mean, I’ve been tinkering for like 5 years, I’ve been actively writing this book for about a year now. It started out as me just writing down things that happened around me that I thought were funny. And I was on a PTO, which is like a PTA but not as official or something so a lot of my stories revolved around the fun (and trouble) we got into in the PTO. And then I started talking to people here in Colorado who had similar experiences to some of the more dramatic stuff and I decided that I needed to fictionalize it all and write a whole stupid book about it. Except now my book has gotten bigger than that. Now it’s about friendships and whatever.

However, I was asked if I could condense some of the PTA stuff into a few thousand words that could somewhat come together as a story for this podcast. So I did AND SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T EVEN KNOW ME HAD TO READ IT! How crazy is that? I feel so powerful.

I also feel a little like an impostor which is why I just stared at the notification this morning and then ignored it for a couple of hours. I mean, if I had to read my own writing, that’s one thing, but to hear someone else have to do it made me feel secondhand embarrassment for some reason. I eventually listened to it and I feel good. It sounds normal not in my own voice. All of this is not selling the podcast is it? Okay, ignore this paragraph.

So a woman, who is named Julie Niblett, who I didn’t have to guilt into anything, read my story, amazingly by the way, and it exists out there like a real thing. And you should all listen to it!


“You have controlled your fear. Now, release your anger. Only your hatred can destroy me.”

I’m tired. I am so relieved that Biden and Harris won, and I am tired. I am tired of fighting with people who don’t want to do anything more than fight. I woke up this morning so tired because it wasn’t over. Day 4 or something and it wasn’t over. 

And then it was. And I cried. And they werent the tears I cried 4 years ago Oh god, not those tears. The tears of 4 years ago were of pain and of fear. Today, they were tears of relief. And then they were tears of glee. Glee in that I don’t have to watch a train I’m on falling off a cliff while armed guards wearing beards and wrap around sunglasses spit and yell at the passengers who dare scream. 

And then I cried because of Kamala Harris. I cried because, as a woman, she represents us. As Gen X, she represents us, and for the ladies of color, she very importantly represents them. And no one knows struggle more than a woman of color. And this cry we cried today, it’s so different from the one four years ago that came from the window of my neighbor, a black woman. A wailing cry that broke my heart. 

No. Today is different. The cry and then the breath. And then the party. The joy! The girls in Nevada who are celebrating because their mom is set to be deported in a few months. The joy of the lady in NYC whose great grandfather fought for voter’s rights in Florida. The joy I feel that I don’t have to fear for my children’s futures. I don’t have to fear that my kids won’t live to see their futures. 

And the block parties all over the country. Filling the streets and dancing. We haven’t been this happy in YEARS. They’re saying it looks like V-Day. 

And apparently these are things I have to tell my beloved dad who has somehow bought into this whole cult of personality situation that terrifies me. I mean, we all have that uncle, but my dad?? 

My dad is the person I will start a war for. My dad has raised me to be the kind, empathetic, parent that I pride myself to be. My dad who I will not allow a bad word spoken of. My dad has gone to the dark side and I’m like Luke holding him up and begging him not to take off his mask. Or something. If those two had a better relationship it would make a better analogy. Just go with it. 

How did we get here as a country? I know where I stand, I need a government that cares for everyone, especially the vulnerable, but that’s clearly not what over 70 million people need. Like my dad. And what is it? Because I can’t think of anyone that would be a worse person to represent my country than Trump, and yet, here we are. My dad is way more Biden than he ever has been Trump, yet he’s leaving MAGA-like hate comments on my posts and I toggle between hoping he’s been hacked and also hoping I can figure out why he’s feeling the way I did 4 years ago. And he’s making these ignorant comments and my friends are on attack. And that’s my dad and I cannot let it happen. 

I’m fine with blocking randoms, but I have to protect my dad. And he has vastly opposing views. And I have to understand how he’s gotten here. I’m done with fighting. I refuse to engage with magats. No more. Today was a day for zen and continuing from here on out. But then my dad came in and I’m here. Any other family member is for the wolves, but my dad who I would take a bullet for…. You’re killin’ me, Smalls.

BCWP: He doesn’t reply…

First post of the Book Club Writing Prompt, which is an awful name, do not put me in charge of naming anything. I randomly opened up the book I just finished reading and chose the first sentence that popped out at me as a starter sentence.

(The Girl Before, JP Delany, pg 328) I will start a 15 minute timer and see what dribble comes out.

He doesn’t reply at first, letting the question hang in the air

– JP Delany, The Girl Before

He doesn’t reply at first, letting the question hang in the air, the thick, musty air. The whole house felt too heavy, too dark, too humid and stale. And he just sat there, looking at Melissa, Melissa looking at him, a standoff of wills.

“Can I open a window or something?” I tried not to say out loud but the air and the awkwardness was threatening to crush me. “You know, I’m just going to take this to the car, don’t mind me.” I stammered as I stood up and grabbed a half filled box from the table next to me.

“No, stay, Nancy. I’m obviously the one that’s making this whole thing weird right? You’re feeling weird? Nobody else in this room is feeling weird, just you?” Sam had that same cartoon voice he always had, the same jokey cadence to his voice, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t kidding. And it terrified me. His eyes bearing into my soul.

So I ran out of the house. I didn’t know what else to do. Stephanie followed me outside. “Kind of intense in there, huh? He’s just having a bad day, I figured I’d give them a minute, you know?”

“Steph, I don’t know if we should leave Melissa alone in there.”

“It’s their marriage, they don’t need us butting in.”

Okay. Timer’s up. It’s boring but it’s actually able to fit into a scene I’m working on on something else so, I’ll fix it up and consider it progress. Hopefully tomorrow’s little 15 minutes is longer and more fun.


5th grade was a really important year for me, I’m learning. Except I’ve known it. The books I read in 5th grade have stayed with me for a long time. I remember exactly what seat I was sitting in when I read The Bridge to Terabithia. I remember what seat I was sitting in when I read Where the Red Fern Grows. I remember making the diorama for The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I do not remember my 5th grade teacher, but, looking at the list of books we were reading, I do think she might’ve been going through some soul searching. And good for me.

There has always been one specific book that settled itself so deep within my soul and yet, I couldn’t for the life of me remember the title or author or any detail google-able enough to light my path. All I could remember was it was about twin brothers and one gets locked in a shed in the backyard of some house and when he comes out, he’s significantly older than his brother. And it has perched itself on the edge of my brain like a dream that slips out of focus as soon as you realize you’re thinking about it. I had spent years looking it up, asking everyone I knew if they had ever heard of it and I ended up with no leads, no one that had ever read such a book, nothing. A ghost book. Maybe it was a dream.


I asked my Facebook friends. No one, as expected, had read it. I was about to give up and declare myself the new author of a cool book I knew I had read but no one knew of. My own Yesterday. And then a friend named Nissa, who I imagine has read every book ever written by this point goes, “Is it Singularity by William Sleator?”

I doubted it. For one thing, I didn’t recognize the title. I didn’t recognize the author. I know I had never seen the cover.

The only other brief fleeting feeling I had was that the cover was blue and someone with a badly drawn face was naked, which didn’t make a lot of sense to be on the cover of a book I was reading in my 5th grade classroom, 4th desk from the front, 2nd row in on the right. The description of Singularity sounded vaguely like the book I was remembering, but like, vaguely? I didn’t remember a toothy eel or whatever those Saved by the Bell looking boys were trying to make me look at, but there was a lot about this thing I couldn’t remember, so I bought it on the off chance I could close that chapter and move on.

And then I forgot about it.

Until yesterday when I was putting my kid’s Harry Potter book back on his bookshelf. (Side note: Thankfully we already own all the HP books and I don’t have to make the moral decision to financially support that woman’s horrific viewpoints or make my kid stop at book 6. Anyway) I saw Singularity sitting, dusty on the shelf and having just finished a book, I knew what I had to do. I had to finish what my 5th grade self had been yelling out to me subconsciously for 30 something years. I decided to read the book to find out if this was the thing I couldn’t let go of, but could never find.

It’s a funny thing that where you were at at the age of 11 can be exactly where you’re at when you’re 43. It was the year that I knew I wanted to be a writer. I have written poems and stories since I could pick up a pencil, but when I knew was in 5th grade. When I wrote a book about witches that my teacher turned in for some contest. And I won. Only a couple kids from my school were able to go, and I was one of them. The Young Writer’s conference. I didn’t go, but that’s for another day. The point is, I knew. I heard my dream crack into focus that year. The same year I fully realized my love for reading. The same year I read Singularity by William Sleator.

And here I am. 43 years old. In the middle of a pandemic, locked inside my house for the past 3 months, even though we’re officially allowed to leave. Here I am. 43 years old. Thriving in quarantine, reading a book for young adults about a boy who voluntarily locks himself in a shed for a year or 3 hours depending, and thrives.

Here I am, having read a book that has haunted me for 30 something years and was as completely enjoyable today as it was 30 something years ago. Here I am, remembering that I really, really want to be a writer. Here I am, happy that my brain saved every tidbit of that book that it did.

Except I could’ve actually lived without this.

The Back Garden

Day 2. You know how Picasso or whoever went through his Blue Phase? Maybe this period will be known as my House Phase.

Something about this picture, the white picket fence? The tree? Something about it reminds me of the warmth of being completely lost within the pages of To Kill a Mockingbird. Like, I feel the same feeling about this picture that I had when I was reading that book when I was 15 or however old I was. Normally white houses give me the creeps, like a feeling of trapped angst. It’s like a past life trauma or something. Texas Chainsaw Massacre, wasn’t that house white? I don’t know. They all look like you’re going to walk into them and it’s going to be dark inside, and you’ll be surrounded by a smell; that mixture of urine and stale cigarette smoke, and like, mildew. The kitchens all have that white painted wood cabinetry with cut out embellishments and the paint is so thick that it almost feels sticky. I hate the very thought of it.

This house doesn’t give me that feeling though. This house makes me feel warm and childlike. I want to wander in that back garden and pretend I’m in a forest. I want to explore and pretend that I’m in a different time.

This art project is probably not going to improve my drawings all that much, but it is forcing me to slow down. To stare at an image again. To figure out what that image wants to tell me. And I love that it’s giving me a chance to explore that in a medium that I am not personally invested in the outcome of. I highly recommend it if you’re trying to figure out a way out of a creative block.

On to the art

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

The Art Challenge

Everyone is doing some kind of learn a new hobby thing right now, and I’m finishing my novel right now. But I feel like I need a creative outlet that is not writing, and not sewing because I just made a gazillion masks and I need a smidge of a break on that. And more thread.

You know what I can’t do that I’ve always wanted to? I cannot draw. I mean, I can pick up a pencil and make some lines on a paper, but my skill level hasn’t improved beyond 6th grade. So I’m doing it. Everyday, I’m going to look at a picture of something, and I’m going to draw it. Maybe I’ll do it for a month, maybe I’ll get bored of it after 3 days. BUT, I’m going to attempt it. And then I’ll blog about it so I can look back and see if I got any better. Or get a good laugh. Hopefully that gets me out of my head enough that I’m able to write my way out of a very serious issue that is popping up in my novel that I absolutely do not know how to tackle yet. The reason I ever started writing is because I had these very vivid images in my mind when I was a kid and I wanted to put them out into the world somewhere and I couldn’t draw what I was seeing. So I would write it down in exacting details, just to get it out of my head. And then I fell in love with it.

So, today is day one.

I found this picture of a red house in a field. The colors in this picture lured me into a feeling, like that creative bubbling feeling, so I decided I would draw this. Looks easy enough.

Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash


Nailed it.

Day 62

Day 62. 62 days ago was the last day I went out in public. I went out on my weekly Saturday brewery lunch with my mom. We knew the day before that schools were starting remote learning, but we went out to our normal lunch. Probably well aware that it was the end. Before that we met a dog. My mom was in the middle of adopting a dog and we met him at a farm a couple miles away. I do not live at a farm, unfortunately. That’s kind of an ultimate dream. In theory. Because in reality I’m a city lady. But we went to a farm and met my mom’s future dog.

That was 61 days ago. 61 days ago I was super nervous because I had chaperoned a middle school trip to the Buell Theatre in Denver and I had standing reservations for my grandma’s birthday party coming up. News of the shutdown was rolling in, but I still felt foolish telling my family I had to cancel because I didn’t want to get grandma sick.

62 days. Only like 2 “fights” with my husband which is miraculous because this might be a record! I really think we’re better as a family. Which makes me feel awful because I read something that said this was Ayn Rand’s dream scenario, and while I know NOTHING of Ayn Rand’s writing, I know that people absolutely HATE her take on stuff so, I’m super worried about how easy this thing has been on me. I worry that my desire that everything STOPS potentially puts me in Ayn Rand territory.

I worry about my friends that have to work with the public. Whether for moral issues, financial issues, health insurance issues, mental health issues. I want all of you to get not only hazard pay, but paid insurance. Like zero out of pocket.

I am super proud of my teacher friends that are holding it all together so that I don’t necessarily have to.

I am PRAYING for my nurse friends. PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOU’RE ALIVE!

And yet here I am. Day 62. And my daily distraction is my awful haircut. Because I cut my hair a few weeks ago. Or days. Or months? And it is a situation. And all I’m focused on is maybe cutting it more and making my hair into Debbie Harry hair or Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag hair. Currently, my hair looks like 2008 Kate Gosselin hair, minus the chunky highlights. Also, it should be noted, I am not a stylist. It won’t work. I’ll cry even more.

But then there’s the realization that my normal “summer mood” is basically my current “lock down mood” and I’ve come to realize, they are the same thing. I cut my hair now because I have the safety net of seclusion. But what if I’ve always had this passion for bad hair. My privilege allows this. I am in a place that allows me to Tiger King my hair. Or Debbie Harry it. Or Fleabag it. What’s the worst thing that will happen? Now? But what about later? What would happen in the event this was normal times? Would I be immediately shunned? Immediately put into a box? Is this even something I care about now?

And yet, Day 62. I’m worried about my hair. I’m worried that I want to sound too much like some celebrity who is posting a bunch of social media nonsense to stay relevant. I am not relevant. I don’t want to be relevant.

I am happy. I am content. I know this gives me privilege. I feel awful about it.