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Showing posts from 2015

In the Shadow of Death

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You're probably familiar with Psalm 23, "The Lord is my shepherd".  It's one of the most commonly quoted psalms for Catholic and Protestants alike - I probably know the King James version as well as my preferred Douay-Rheims translation.  One of my favorite hymns, and the one I plan to walk down the aisle to whenever I am married, is "The King of Love", which paraphrases the words of Psalm 23.

There is one phrase that never quite rang true to me, until this week:
For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me. In the King James translation, that's even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

And in "The King of Love", the verse runs
In death’s dark vale I fear no ill With thee, dear Lord, beside me,Thy rod and staff my comfort still,Thy cross before to guide me. The shadow of death...what on earth does that mean?  On one leve…

Quick November Update

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Time for another round of "What's going on in Rebecca's life and why hasn't she posted for so darned long?" otherwise known as Intelligent News Gathering, November Edition.
Hosting: At the beginning of the month, Iris and I hosted a belated housewarming party!  It was such fun - parts of both families, some of my friends, and lots of hers, who I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know.  When the conversation gets deep and philosophical around 10 PM and the last guests don't leave until midnight, that's a good party!
Working: Fortunately, I have multiple projects that have all managed to pile up on me, all needing to be done by Christmas.  Happily, I'm getting paid for all of them, but sadly, I'm basically streamlining my schedule so that I can come home from work and make the most out of my evening hours.  It's going to be a crazy few weeks, so I'm afraid you won't be seeing much of me on this blog until Christmas time!
Praying: I'm in th…

Library Card

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I'm still surprised I survived for three months without a library card!  Thankfully, I'm familiar enough with the city that I felt up to exploring the local branch of the Ann Arbor District Library last night.


I'll have to poke around more in the daylight, because the building is very interestingly designed.  It's modern-art-y but in a fairly tasteful way; very open and brightly lit with big windows.

I only had an hour, and a project to get finished, so unfortunately I didn't get the chance to look at their book selection.  I basically just found a comfy chair and used the wifi!  But happiness and joy, I can check out and return books interchangeably between branches; this location is just ten minutes from work, and there's another one close to my apartment.  So that makes life easier!


It seems I'm officially a resident of Ann Arbor - had to show proof of residency to get the card.  And now that I have a library, I feel more at home in my adopted city!  Thi…

Poetry for Veterans' Day

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In memory of all those who have served our country, I want to share with you a few favorite poems by the great poets of the First World War.  This Veterans' Day holiday was first called Armistice Day, and celebrated the end of the Great War, which brought so much devastation to the world.  There are more that I would love to include, but here are a few moving examples from war poets.  Take the time to think and meditate upon the sacrifices and suffering that these men and women have endured.

Prayer of a Soldier in France - Joyce Kilmer
My shoulders ache beneath my pack
(Lie easier, Cross, upon His back).

I march with feet that burn and smart
(Tread, Holy Feet, upon my heart).

Men shout at me who may not speak
(They scourged Thy back and smote Thy cheek).

I may not lift a hand to clear
My eyes of salty drops that sear.

(Then shall my fickle soul forget
Thy Agony of Bloody Sweat?)

My rifle hand is stiff and numb
(From Thy pierced palm red rivers come).

Lord, Thou didst suffer more f…

First Steps on a 33-Day Road

Tomorrow is really exciting, and a bit scary.  Tomorrow happens to be a very special day, but not as special as the one that will follow thirty three days from tomorrow.  If you happen to know what I'm talking about, or you are an amateur numerologist perusing your liturgical calendar, you are now nodding your head and smiling a little.

Tomorrow begins a very important journey for me.  On December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I will renew my consecration to Jesus through Mary.  If you've seen me at all in the past year, you'll notice that I wear a silver chain bracelet on my right wrist.  That chain is a visible, concrete reminder of a promise I made to our Blessed Mother that I am hers, her slave, handmaiden, and child, now and forever.  I've given her my whole life and all that I do, all my stress and my prayer intentions, all my hopes and fears.  She is my Queen and my Mother, always!

Perhaps you're making the Consecration too, this year, in prepa…

7 Housekeeping Rules I'm Glad My Parents Taught Me...

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…even though I ignored them until I moved out and THEN discovered just how much sense they made. 1 Turn around and look at the kitchen before you leave it!
Any dishes you missed?  Stray spoons?  A hotpad you could put away?  It makes life easier in the long run.  Thanks, Daddy.
2 Shake the crumbs out of the toaster when you’re done.
Yes, it does get nasty when you don’t do that for a week…or two months.  Sorry about all the complaining, Mommy!
3 Open your windowshades and make your bed in the morning.
Okay, I haven’t thoroughly gotten into the habit of this yet, but I’m definitely starting to see the value of coming home to a lit, neat-looking room.
4 Saturdays are for cleaning.
Oh, how I hated this custom as a child…now, I’m so happy for Saturdays because I can catch up on all the chores that just can’t get done during the week.  And then I can start off the new week with a clean, neat apartment, which somehow makes life so much easier!
5 Wipe off the table after a meal.
Enough said.
6 First in…

ING October

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I needed a clever way to give y’all an update on my life as an Anachronistic Millennial.  Thus was spawned


In which I give you all the current “ings” of my life!
Reading: A coworker lent me two fairly new books, which I have to admit is a little out of my usual style!  The first was The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why, a non-fiction study of disasters and how they affect the human mind. It was an absolutely fascinating work – the author, Amanda Ripley, delved into everything from psychology to physics.  The other was a recent Pulitzer Prize novel, All the Light We Cannot See.  This was occasionally a rough read, since it takes place during the traumatic times of World War II, and sometimes gets a bit graphic.  Not my favorite style—this new fad of first-person present tense can be irritating—but on the whole, the work was a well-woven series of vignettes with a feel of realism.

Watching: One of my coworkers had an ensemble part in a local production of Mary Popp…

Sight, Sound, and Solace

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When the chaos of the world's evil begins to encroach, it's time to grab hold of the nearest lifeline of beauty.  Inextricably linked as it is to order, beauty in all its forms is the best stress relief.  For me, one of the best sources of true leisure and calm is a symphony concert.


I'm an auditory learner, not visual; so while some would see colors and shapes in the instruments' sounds, I sense rather than see threads of sound, weaving together a tapestry of texture.  The conductors' hands seem to take on a life of their own, gently grasping or sharply tugging on a strand to fit it into the pattern of the whole.  As my eyes dart around the stage, my ear is picking out layers, and eye and ear work together to connect part and whole.

Each instrument and its sound has a particular character, and I love them all.  The trombone is at its best in its nobility, the violin as a dance partner, the clarinet when it's showing off at a party, the French horn when reassur…

Stand Up

Imagine yourself in a room - sitting in your chair, rows of people around you.  Some of them you know, some of them you've seen in passing but never spoken to.  There's a man at the head of the room speaking.  You're taking notes, sometimes spacing out, but most of the time trying to pay attention to his words.  You glance at the clock frequently, and mentally plan your afternoon when the class gets out.  Typing, the clock ticking, pencils and pens scritching, the drone of the teacher's voice, occasional sounds of walking, laughing, talking in the hallway, perhaps another teacher's voice filtering in from the adjoining room.  These sounds are joined by a sharp, repeated popping sound, which gets louder and closer.

You have no idea what the sound is until the door is slammed open.  There's a person standing in the doorway; black ski mask, dressed in black, carrying a gun.  The people around you start to gasp and scream, but fall still when the gunman's voice…

To Granny

Hi y'all!  Sorry I haven't posted much for a while.  I've had a few writing gigs - my new monthly post at CatholicMom, a guest post for Erin, and I just finished up a meditation for next year's Daily Gospel Reflections at CM.  These have absorbed most of my recent creativity!  But now that those are done, I have one more major project, and then my brain is free to write whatever I want on this little blog!

This post is a special one, dedicated to the one person who probably reads my blog more often than I do, the best grandmother I could ask for.  (And not just because she spoiled me when I was little!)  Also, it's dedicated to my parents, who are quite enjoying their new gig as grandparents to a little blonde troublemaker.

While watching and reading the Pope's words during his visit to the Americas last week, there was one theme that struck me repeatedly: his emphasis on memory.  This came out in his address to Congress, where he focused on history as essentia…

Announcing a Guest Post!

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Over at Will Write for Tomato Pie, Erin has kindly invited me to write a guest post - so go read about my "Word Addiction!"

Rebel in the Real World

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Hello y'all!  I'm absurdly excited about my first post over at CatholicMom.  Click on the pic and check it out!

Tolkien's Adjectives

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While thinking about adjectives tonight (more on that later) I decided to find an online word-cloud generator.  I popped over to WordItOut, and copied out all the adjectives from a section of the first chapter of Lord of the Rings.  Couldn't do the whole thing, although I have ambitions.  But, just for fun, here's a word-cloud of Tolkien's adjectives.  The size is randomly generated, not based on repetition.  Some things about the randomness amuse me - "enormous" is in the smallest font, but "grey" is grey-colored, though "dark" is printed in white. Oh and by the way...yes, I'm a nerd!


CatholicJobs

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Working on a movie review for y'all, but I wanted to share this quickly.
Several times as I was telling people about my job, they asked where I found it, and I was surprised to discover that a lot of people don't know about CatholicJobs.com.  I spend two months trolling it this summer, but unfortunately, they don't give frequent-applier points.  This site was a lifesaver for me in my fresh-out-of-college career search!
CatholicJobs is super easy to use - here's the homescreen:
I usually searched for jobs by category, because I was trying to keep my options open as far as location and specific job type.  Below is a screenshot of the category "Publishing/Journalism" which is where I spent a lot of my time!  Because of my interests, I also regularly checked the Clerical/Administrative page.  There are a lot of options, and it's a great resource if you're really interested in putting your talents at the service of the Church.  I recommend rechecking every…

Home on a Saturday

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This is the weirdest experience of my whole life.  Okay, maybe not, but it's awfully close - I had an entire Saturday with no plans.  No homework to do, no wedding planning, no travel, no family or friends nearby, no urgent tasks.  There were a few things that needed to get done (some necessary shopping, a little apartment cleaning) but really, I had hours to waste.  Lord knows I needed the rest after last weekend's wedding frenzy, and the last six weeks of non-stop running to get moved up here.  But I've been vegging out all week, and need to "recalibrate" as my dad puts it.
So today's been a mix of boredom and spurts of energy.  I got up for morning Mass at the parish I think I'll join; came home and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with my roommate.  I baked a pineapple-blueberry dump cake, then went out for a slow shopping trip for a few necessary items.  After a late lunch, I've done basically nothing except shift some stuff around in my room so I …

Remember, and Never Forget

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Memento, homo, quia pulvis est, et in pulverem reverterit.

When important things happen in the world, my dad always reminds me to remember.  Remember what you saw, what you felt, so that you can tell the story to your children.  He's told me to remember so many times - when we watched the last shuttle launch from NASA...when the Chilean miners were rescued...when I attended the canonization of St. John Paul II...when 9-11 happened.

Remember.  Where were you?  What were you doing?

Not forgetting is different than remembering.  Remembering, calling to mind an experience, is an active thing, while "not forgetting" just means filing it away in the back of our heads to be pulled out later.  History is built by little people.  The great ones provide the impetus, but each one of us is deeply vital to the story of God's work in the world.  History is not only a story of actions, but also consequences and reactions.  How will our children understand their world if we don't…

Small Success Thursday: Wedding Edition

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It's time to get back into the swing of things!  Writing prompts help me a lot, so here goes for this week's edition of Small Success Thursdsay, hosted by CatholicMom.


After a year's worth of planning and preparing, my friends' wedding was successfully pulled off.  The end result was remarkably smooth, thanks to a large crew of friends and family who put so much time and effort into the day!  There were so very many little pieces that all had to "click" in order for the big pieces to happen...and they did, thanks be to God.  But there were always the problems that come up, large or small, which led to some very grateful praises of Divine Providence when they were all solved in time.  So here's to the workings of God for which I was not responsible!

Disclaimer: the wedding was held in Virginia; I am from Indiana, the groom is from Texas, and the bride was from Ohio.  Which means that this entire event was long distance and engineered from hotel rooms and C…

On the Occasion of Your Wedding

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Four years ago, I remember passing by the Christendom chapel one evening and observing a young man and woman standing outside, chatting.  Today, those two are getting married - my dear friends, Brian and Lindsay.  I wrote this while still in the last few weeks of wedding prep, but it's scheduled to post at the time their wedding Mass begins in that same Christendom chapel.

I've been with these two the whole way. Brian and I teased and pranked each other freshman year, mutually adopted each other sophomore year, went on double dates junior year, tolerated each other in Rome, and grew a solid friendship senior year. I gave him the big sister speech the day he took Lindsay out for their first official date. I sat next to them as they held hands in the dark at the school play. I helped him comfort Lindsay when her grandfather died - at the Marian overlook where Brian would later propose to her. I watched him grow in his love for and devotion to Lindsay, and I know how joyful he i…

A Year Yesterday

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In honor of National Dog Day...

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Here's a little scripture (Douay-Rheims translation) for your enjoyment:


Unpacking

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Before: After:

Yes, most of those are double-stacked.  And please ignore the fact that there are still 7 or 8 boxes of books left to be unpacked!

Shelf Spotlight: The Watson Chronicles

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How many books are on your "I've been meaning to read that" list?  This one has been at the top of my list for at least a year, and it took me until this week.  Luckily, I'd packed it in my emergency reading kit!


The Watson Chroniclesby Ann Lewis
"Holmes turned the platter, inspecting the plum pudding as he would a cadaver at a crime scene."

It's challenge enough for a writer to find his or her own voice; it's even harder for an author to match her voice to another's.  Especially when you get into the nerdy world of Sherlock Holmes fans, which is a cult with an obsession rivaling that of Trekkies.

In The Watson Chronicles, sequel to her earlier work Murder in the Vatican, Ann succeeds in matching style and voice to Arthur Conan Doyle's originals, while bringing a fresh perspective to the beloved character of Watson.

Perhaps my best part of The Watson Chronicles is Ann's ability to reach past Sherlock's veneer of misogyny and misanthr…

Life Update

Hello!  Sorry for the long silence over here.  It's been a crazy week, between funeral prep, packing, a trip to the State Fair, visiting my grandma, attending the funeral, driving to Michigan, and settling in at my new apartment and job.  So yeah, I've been growing up with a vengeance in the last few days.

There's been ups and downs, all lessons learned for the future.

Sunday, after driving up, I attempted to iron a blouse for my first day of work.  It melted in 0.75 seconds.  So now I can't use the iron because it has very interesting blue melted gunk on the soleplate.  Thanks, polyester.

And I wore the wrong shoes to work the first day.  See, my office building is about a mile long, and the chapel is at the other end.  I didn't expect that the walk to noon Mass was going to be quite so...penitential.

I keep getting lost on the way to and from work, although I'm rather proud of myself because I keep finding my way back.  I'm telling myself that I'm a…

Shelf Spotlight: Audiobooks

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Hello y'all! I thought I'd still do a quick shelf spotlight, even though this weekend has been insane.
Since I'll be living in Ann Arbor, I've started to find ways to cope with the long drives home to Indy. On a test run down to my grandmother's house this week, I discovered to my surprise that audio books do indeed have a place in my life. I've been resistant to the idea for a long time, because I could never find an occasion where I wanted to listen to a book rather than just sit there and read it myself.  But while I'm used to driving now, I just get bored in the car.  After a while my own head gets dull, the radio is irritating, and music only keeps me functioning for so long. Hence, audio books! Thank heavens for a tablet and Martha's multimedia port. I'm picking lighter reads so I don't risk distraction, so at the moment I'm working my way through a set of children's stories by Terry Pratchett.  Next up is the Chronicles of Narni…

New Apartment

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Hi, y'all!  Pop on over to The Starving Inspired for a video tour of our new apartment in this foreign country called Ann Arbor.

Facts I have picked up recently - it's not blue and gold/yellow, it's "maize", and it's EVERYWHERE.  Also, the town is colloquially known as A2, there are college students everywhere, I plan to stay indoors on home game days.  And I'm pretty sure I won't be able to find a good tenderloin.  I'm telling you, this is a whole new world, y'all.


Small Success Thursday: Indiana State Fair

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We're not Vulcans but we bleed green.  I'm a fourth-generation, 10 year 4-H member, and only by one generation did I escape going to the state fair at 6:30 AM to take care of show cattle.  Minus cows, besides the ones we eat for lunch, the Indiana State Fair is an annual summer tradition for my family.

I'm convinced Indiana has the best state fair ever.  There's always so much going on, but it's still got the old-fashioned down-home feel of a real 4-H-based fair.  We usually go during the week, to avoid the weekend crowds, and this year we landed a double-header of half-off tickets plus absolutely perfect weather.  It was cheerfully sunny and not too hot, with just enough of a cool breeze to keep us from sweating like the proverbial hogs, whose barn we skipped anyway.  
As a thank you to my dad for all the sweat and mileage he's put into moving us around this summer, and as a birthday gift for my mom, my sister and I took them to the fair instead of the other w…

Requiescat in Pace

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Vince Gatto was the grandfather I'd never had.  We got to know him when my family and his wife started the Spaghetti and Spirituality program at Holy Rosary - he'd spend the whole day in the church kitchen cooking the pasta sauce.  An old radio would play on the table while he'd tell us stories.  
For his whole life, he lived behind Holy Rosary - Mother Superior at the Latin school would knock on his bedroom door when she needed a server for morning Mass.  As a young man in Korea, he was shot and left for dead, barely escaping with his life when the enemy soldiers nearly finished him off as he lay on the ground.  He was one of the first members of the Indianapolis police diving team.  That man had so many crazy tales to tell, it's a wonder he'd survived to be as old as he was!
He'd always greet me with a smile, lighting up when I came over, with a gruff "Hey, sweetie!"  He'd kiss me on the cheek and hold my hand while he asked how I was doing.  A…

How I Think I Write...

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Shelf Spotlight: Death Note

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Welcome to this week's Shelf Spotlight!  This is a drastic genre switch from my last few posts, but that means you're getting a good feel of what's on my bookshelves.  (Of which I need more.)

This week, I'm working my way through a manga series.  I'm not usually the biggest fan of manga, but if I find one that I like, I'm not opposed to it.  A good friend lent me his complete collector's edition set of Death Note, a mystery-thriller manga that seems to be one of the most popular, at least in the United States.  I'm trying to finish the books before I move, and I'm smack in the middle of one of the most complicated murder-mystery plots I've discovered yet.


When an highly intelligent, bored young man receives the power of the death gods...what will it do to him?

There are a few drawbacks because as usually happens with manga, Death Note was originally published as a serial or at least as a dozen smaller manga, so the plot structure gets a little…

Meditation

Sometimes at adoration, I pray by writing to Jesus. It helps me focus on speaking to him rather than trying to control my thoughts as they wander all over creation.  I thought I'd share with you what I wrote this First Friday - it's just stream of consciousness but sort of the Ignatian method, where you put yourself into the Gospel scene and try to imagine it and talk to Jesus.  Here goes:"Could you not watch one hour with me?"I'm kneeling beside him in the garden, watching him wracked with grief and pain. His body tense, shaking, next to me. Tears from my so - powerful king. And the sweat of blood - it scares me, but I dare not interrupt his thoughts to ask if he's alright, if he needs anything.  "Father..." the cry of a son, full of love and pain and pleading. Father...I cry out too, begging that he be saved from whatever is tormenting him so terribly. The wind rustles the trees but the night is still. I dare not leave him to wake John or one of t…

Small Successes: Baby Steps

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Linking up with CatholicMom again today!

Moving out is quite the challenge.  For some silly reason, I expected the process to be basically like going back to college.  Not so much...there are ties being severed in a way I haven't experienced before.  It will be a very difficult transition, but I think I can make it.

A few small successes this week as I get ready to move - just baby steps, but they're helping the list get a little shorter.

Martha (my new-to-me VW station wagon) got blessed this week!  The old blessing has some lovely phrases in it.  It mentions the holy angels surrounding and accompanying the car, and asks that "just as by Your deacon Philip You gave faith and grace to the man of Ethiopia as he sat in his chariot reading the Sacred Word, so, point out to Your servants the way of salvation."  And maybe it's all psychological, but I have felt better driving Martha now that she's blessed.  Driving solo in a new vehicle, which was very difficult…

Emergency Reading Kit

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Remember those awful conversation-starters like "If you were alone on a desert island, what three books would you want to have with you?"  Here's a new one:
If you were facing the most challenging transition of your life so far...what books would you want in your Emergency Reading Kit?

I've included practical books, spiritual reading favorites, a little Shakespeare, fiction favorites and newbies, fairytales and poetry:

I chose books that I knew I would want to be readily accessible, no matter what else I unpacked.  They're essentials for the mind, heart, and soul, to keep me sane through the first few weeks of this life-shift.  As I'm thinking about it, there are more I should have included, but this will be a good start for now.  Here's a breakdown of my Emergency Reading Kit.
Practical books: Betty Crocker's Cookbook is a family favorite, with all the essential, basic recipes I could ask for.  There's a lot of love in this book - it was a gift from …

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Life Update

Just a quick update for those of you keeping tabs on me here!  In a week, with the help of St. Joseph and my parents and numerous other kind people, I managed to get a car, a roommate, and an apartment.  The apartment process was agonizing, but luckily we had a lovely saleswoman helping us.  My roomie and I are excited about our little two-bedroom flat in Ann Arbor, and I'm trying not to go nuts with all the college dorm sales at Bed, Bath & Beyond and all the other shops!  I have to keep reminding myself that a lot of things can wait until after the first couple of paychecks.At final count, I packed up twenty-three boxes of books.  Yes, 23.  Somehow Arabic numerals seem more innocuous?  Pretty sure I could build an emergency shelter out of the fiction alone.  I'll post soon about my Survival Kit, books that I've set aside to help me keep my sanity during the first month or so.The other major project on my plate right now is wedding planning for my dear friends, Brian …