When you have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of yourself caught in some unspectacular already-over moment, take it. Especially if you can't quite remember where you were or what you were doing.
I'm pretty sure this one is from the summer of garage sales. I know Button and I did a lot of rooting through other people's cast-offs in the warm months before I moved away to New England. There is nothing I miss quite like a New Jersey summer. Even if my hair was terrible.
I wish I could make a collage of all the happy feelings I've had here in Pittsburgh. I've had the chance to talk, to listen, to walk, to rest, to cook, and be taken care of. To be honest, all us were dreading the amount of downtime we had here. But now that the last show has arrived, it's clear none of us really want to leave for DC tomorrow afternoon. Our time here was longer than we planned, but too short for my taste. Thankfully, I've acquired a rather magical sweater, a book of daily devotionals, and a serious appreciation for Western Pennsylvania. Like Western Mass, it is highly underrated.
Get it in Pittsburgh! We'll see you tonight at the Shadow Lounge!
P.S. Keep your eyes peeled for the recordings we've been making the whole time we've been here (AKA the No More Ribcage Pittsburgh Sessions) with our friends Justin and Drayton from In The Wake of Giants. They're make their way onto the interwebs in the near future, and we promise sounds and such the likes of which you've never heard.
"I've been livin' the dream Joe. Whatever that dream may be."
I wouldn't exactly call myself a Scrooge, but this December has been a rough one. Tour's been creeping up in a semi-insidious way (read about the shows so far here), I've spent more time on the road to various cities or just plain in Boston than I have in my own apartment, and when I do remain stationary, work has been sapping me of my lifeblood. Being that it is my very first retail Christmas, a lot is off-kilter, which mostly means my stress levels are much higher than they should be.
In addition to my regular schedule, the past few weeks I've picked up an extra shift for the cash, meaning I work six days a week instead of the usual five. And five out of those six shifts have been closing shifts. On my day off, I've had shows or some massive errand that takes far too much energy. I have not written much of anything since finishing my undergraduate degree a few weeks ago. I haven't even properly celebrated that milestone. (Cass and I did go out for a beer with our men that night, which counts to a certain extent, but I am more than a little itchy for an epic night of dancing to sweat away all those lingering college woes.) In all, I've been a bit divorced from the whole Christmas spirit this year, quietly acquiring my gifts and stashing them in a Rubbermaid box in the hall closet, avoiding the fact that I get one day off from my life as a cash register jockey/glorified stock girl for family during a time when I am used to at least a week of non-stop family shenanigans. It's hard. The only time I've felt the proper amount of holiday cheer is when it's been snowing. And thus far, at least in my little corner of the world, that's only happened when I've been in Beantown.
Kait and I met up in Jamaica Plain over a week ago for an epic feast and a few cocktails at Canary Square on Tuesday. Now, most people who know me know I am a huge proponent of the mid-week weekend. (Maybe it's because I work for the entire real one, but I'll call that beside the point.) I am rather fond of treating Tuesday nights like Friday nights. So a whiskey sour with a sisterly gabfest and a heaping helping of food is just my speed for such an evening. Our meal was full of cheese and laughter. The burger we had killed me with delicious. The french fries were epic. The beef jerky popcorn was odd, but I ate plenty. And I gave a chapbook to our waitress. Afterwards, I took her through the freezing cold to Deep Ellum in Allston to be the first of our family to meet my man. It was snowing. And freezing. The cold was like magic. We all did a lot of wild gesticulating and emphatic explaining ourselves, had great drinks and a great time. The night rounded out with me singing along to Ryan Adams as we ventured out into the flurry again for the night.
And then there was the snow in Somerville the other day. I ran away to the Bean again (and Charlie's Kitchen in Harvard Square) after a particularly rough Sunday shift (open to close during Consumer Christmas is much more brutal for those working it than I'd been mentally prepared for that day) and spent the night, waking to a morning full of the white stuff. I walked to Trina's Starlight Lounge for brunch the next noon and gleefully let the cold bite my fingers. Snow caught in my eyelashes, it finally felt like Christmas. We had what can only be inadequately described as a homemade pop tart, followed by the works, all washed down with lots of coffee. I kept straining to see the snow out the frosted window. And when I walked back to my car and drove home to NoHo for work, I was so disappointed that the snow globe effect didn't reach past Worcester. The city of my home address has yet to get more than a dusting, and for that matter, I've yet to be out in the snow in my current hometown.
I spent Wednesday watching the white stuff accumulate on my car while I baked my Grandma's Christmas butter cookies in a kitchen that isn't mine. My show in Portland got canceled because of the weather, so I had a bedroom Bloc 11 sandwich picnic and fell asleep watching Die Hard instead of performing.
Anyway, I guess the point of all this rambling is to say that I haven't exactly felt connected to the time of year. Until last night. Work was a frenzied mess, everyone in town out and shopping for last minute gifts. I left my wrapping paper in the employee closet, I've yet to pack, and I was kept up half the night by yelling from the thirsty Thursday bar crowd. However. Even though I'm not in Boston or its outliers, and even though I'm not nearly prepared for the big day tomorrow, I could hardly sleep last night for the excitement of stockings and ornaments and all of my family jammed into my gram's living room. So what if that means I'll have to brave midnight mass in a mohawk. This holiday season has been rough for me and for a lot of my friends, but it showed me that we all work hard, play hard, and have huge hearts. I wish it was possible for me to be with everyone I consider family tomorrow--the friends scattered across New England and the Midwest, I toast you! Here's to us and our crazy year!
Speaking of hearts, Jericha's been making me some goodies lately. My birthday present sheds just the right amount of nighttime light when I'm fumbling through the dark for a glass of water, and my Christmas gift took my breath away in our Christmas-lit kitchen.
The back of the necklace says, "home is where the heart is, for the heart is a house you can hold in your hands." Amen.
In closing, I think Dickensian Kermit says it best.
Happy Holidays everyone, and a Merry Christmas if that's how you're spending tomorrow. If not, go make a snow angel at Harvard for me.
Remember when Fight Club was a cultural phenomenon and you watched it twice a night in your best friend's basement, quoting the lines with one of you as Tyler and the other as Cornelius? Kind of like how you used to divide up the singing parts in TBS songs into "Adam" and "John" and each sing one set of lyrics? No?!
...I mean, I guess growing up in Jersey, I assumed everybody listened to the Long Island bands and wanted to beat the crap out of their imaginary friends. My bad.
Last Saturday I made a pilgrimage to the Boston outpost of the House of Blues to see Grinderman. Now, I will admit to being poorly acquainted with him up to this point in my life--Button and I have surely listening to plenty of the Bad Seeds while galavanting in our high school days, but fuck if I know which albums or how long ago that was--so I had to do the pretend-you-know-all-the-things-the-cool-kids-do dance for most of the evening.
But mostly, I spent the night mesmerized. I'm sure I've mentioned in the past that the physical sensation of live music makes me happier than most things in the world. Rock music especially. The vibrations in the air move my blood faster or something. The bass in my chest sounds like "home" more than the word itself. And this particular instance of live music, I could not tear my eyes away. Some people are just built to carry off a magical kind of stage presence, a conviction I've come to from my years in poetry. But it was at shows that this idea first entered my mind. Performance, though a construct, is something that at its core must be instinctual. To be seen, to see yourself being seen, and to then feed off that energy and use it to create an experience that would not have been possible otherwise is astonishing when properly executed. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that Mr. Cave was made for the stage, and I am glad to have witnessed him.
Take a look for yourself:
In my internet travels this morning, I stumbled across this blog post, chock full of pictures of the man, mostly in his younger days. This photo in particular made me very happy:
I have been cleaning my room for what feels like (and is probably close to) the past three weeks, and it looks like a more color-intensive version of the same. Books and papers everywhere, clothes falling into coffee cups, typewriters strung with paper and stories half-typed. I've cleared away the dishes, but the mess does not get much smaller for all my trying. I suppose this is the way some of us will always live. It's like the mess in my head's just overflowed in the real world. Generally, I've decided to avoid it, choosing instead to melt Rachmaninoff records all morning to make new wall art. If Nick can survive the clutter, so can I.
And then there's this, which just makes the day that much better.
This is one among many hysterical bits and pieces from the Right Honorable Ladies' smorgasbord dinner party last night. I was running on two hours of sleep and could not stop laughing. I wish I'd recorded the stories that were told all through dinner and late into the night; not only were each of them priceless, but the verb choices were impeccable. (I know. I'm a pretty serious nerd.)
My favorite song of the past few days (to be sung along to, LOUDLY, while dancing in the shower, or the kitchen, or the car, or anywhere really):
I think that settles the fact that I need to own a fringe dress as soon as possible. For New Years this year. And then every day.
And then there's this gem, which I found while procrastinating the other day and then subsequently fell out of my chair laughing. I dedicate it to my sisters. And Cass. Cos she hates this song with a fiery passion.
Speaking of procrastination--I somehow managed to turn in both pieces of my final on time, despite going to Boston for Cantab and getting riotously sauced and sleeping maybe three hours in total. My advisor congratulated me this afternoon in our meeting, then asked me if everything was alright. I guess I looked a little drawn. Behind my eyes, there was a waking dream of the night before--so so much booze, Fame playing on the wall of one of the bars we went to, burlesque night hosted by a Nick Cave wannabe in a velvet suit, and my Thriller shoes getting their curse broken. Right now, after a seven hour nap, I feel a lot more like this:
And as my own semi-private happy dance, I named the poetry manuscript after a line of Plath. I am just a big ol' nerd.
A big ol' nerd graduating college in a month. Shit is REAL. I feel really weird about it. But we can talk about all that later. For now, check the new tour dates! Soon I'll be on the road, my favorite of all places. This is apparently what it looks like to live the dream. Who's got the champagne?
I love the shit out of this song before I'd ever swallowed a drop of liquor, probably sometime around sixth or seventh grade.
It makes a lot of sense that my first boyfriend and 2002 Ben Kweller had pretty much the same aesthetic.
And then this is what I'll pretend actually happened to me when I got to legal drinking age, mostly because this turn towards real cold is making me long some beach time like nothing else. As much as I adore fall, I will always be such a sucker for late summer and all that windows-down, bare legs, bare feet, seedy motel kind of adventure.
Like any diligent type-A crazy, I am working til close tonight and then running over to campus for my last Hampshire Halloween. This time of year makes me want to be witchy every chance I get, but besides wearing black boots at every opportunity and lace tablecloths as scarves on the colder days, I don't get much opportunity to be serious about it. Until today. I bought a whole host of deeply discounted Halloween make-up at CVS this morning and happily painted myself up with oily black and liquid glitter and nail polish that looks like swamp slime. "Happier than a pig in shit" is a start, but doesn't exactly touch on how many smiles I've flashed today. Mostly because I look like this:
My costume isn't so complex which is a blessing for my wallet--I owned everything but the make-up and the wings before today--and I will reluctantly admit that it was inspired by a writing session I had recently where I was listening to my favorite album by the Books and realized I needed to dress up as the angel of death.
HIPSTER SCUM. I know, I know. But the effect of the costume is that I look nothing like a hipster. In fact, I look more like I'm larping, which is somewhat embarrassing. I decided not to get dressed twice today, so I've been wearing my costume on errands and got my wings stuck in the bank doors just a small while ago. The people in line seemed horrified at the sight of me. Good thing that's what I was going for.
If you paid the $20 ticket fee for non-students (or if you happen to be a student), I'll see you on the dance floor tonight. And hopefully not impale you with my feathers.
Saturday night after work I ran over to Pearl Street in lieu of joining the annual zombie pub crawl to catch Lynx and Beats Antique on the Blind Threshold tour with Zoe Jakes. Not only did I dance until my legs got rubbery and uncooperative, but I can honestly say that I've never had a show experience like that before. There are days I forget that one of my favorite feelings is live sound rattling in my chest. With two drum kits on stage at once that night, it was impossible to forget. And in addition to the amazing and invigorating experience of the room, there was stunning dancing besides. I had never seen anyone belly dance before, and I'm pretty sure I've been supremely spoiled in seeing one of the more famous belly dancers on the planet do her thing over some of the most fun, original dance music I've come across in a hot minute. My jaw was on the floor half the time for how simply the set-up was: two guys, two drum kits, a laptop and mixer, and the occasional electrified string instrument. Every few songs, Zoe came out in a different costume dripping of rhinestones and self-possession and wow-ed everybody. I know little to nothing about belly dance, but my roommate is an instructor, and I am willing to take her word that this woman knows her shit.
At the end of the night, a hippie chick had given me a glow stick, I felt all warm and fuzzy inside from the music, and both my ears and eyes thanked me for feeding them such delicious things. The following is an episode from the tour's video blog regarding a song collaboration between the two music acts on Lynx's forthcoming alubm, featuring footage from the show I attended. And there we are, in the front row. Bow-throwing back from my Jersey hardcore days still comes in handy every now and again.
Oh, and Lynx played a banjo beatbox cover of "No Diggity". Jus' sayin'.
I am not good at sleeping in other people's beds. I must keep reminded myself of this. I toss and turn and wake them up thousands of times through the night with my restlessness. I am very, very bad at keeping still when someone else may or may not be watching. I've never been able to figure out why this is. Let's blame it on dance. Let's say it's because I was a dancer for more than half my life and they always said things like, "Don't lock back on your knees!" and "Support from below your ribs!" and "Keep your face breathing even when your body is still!" A ballet studio's jibberish. I have been thinking a lot about how the not-sleep from my ballet days and the not-sleep from my now are very similar. Granted there are the obvious things that set one time apart from another--I am eating now, I am healthy and happy and taking good care of my body; the only exercise I have anymore is the three flights of stairs to my apartment; but the insomnia still strikes and my head goes eight billion miles an hour asking questions of me in a very loud ballet teacher voice. I keep thinking, "You're so talented at these things; sleep or dance, it makes no difference. Just apply yourself, silly girl. You'll get there." I catch sight of myself in a mirror and it feels just like five days of class a week again and I am too fat for music and flat-footed with poor extension and less flexibility than I will admit to. I close my eyes and my head is talking to me again and I will never, ever get to sleep. I want to believe I won't always be manic about the things that make me happy. Some days I just want to abandon myself and start from scratch. First position. Relax your back, hold your arms like this. Good. Breathe. Now, second.
blissed out after a pint, a pinot grigio, a bourbon, a surfer on acid, a tequila shot, a vodka soda and a whiskey soda...all the major food groups present and accounted for
Not October yet, but it's still Octoberfest. I got to smell the ocean last night, to eat serious amounts of shellfish with good wine followed by good bourbon and questionable dancing at the piano bar and then sweatier questionable dancing at the sports bar. Fist pumping may or may not have taken place. (You can take the girl out of Jersey...)
There have been so many tequila shots this past week. However, I am proud to announce that I kicked my hangover's ass this morning swimming laps in the hotel pool. What a beautiful way to wake up in the city of my heart. The wind picked up while we lay in the grass this afternoon. I felt every muscle in my body, all of me covered in goosebumps and sore from the movement of the past few days. If I can be sure of anything, it is that I feel most at home in a place that was only mine four months out of a year that's already past. Maybe I can't fall in love with anyone because I am too deeply in love with a place. Just the thought of the skyline has me second-guessing quite a few of my plans for the immediate future but we'll talk more on that in the next few days.
All in all, I wouldn't have had it go any other way.
Line breaks. Dechlorinated water. Fish food. Antique clocks for the new New Jersey kitchen. Shoplifting only from corporate stores. Leopard print. Loving my legs as long as they continue to be good to me. Taking naps. Not sleeping for three or more days. BEER. Playboy and pretzel sticks and tattoo placement. There is the omnipresent possibility of liquor for lunch now--how very odd a prospect. I had only four drinks at the bar last night, but I will venture a guess that they were all four much stronger than they seemed. The only way to know what force there is that may knock you on your ass when you try to stand is to drink everything straight. But I let myself get a little more than silly. A little more than sloppy. Everyone kept saying I had license to, which I did. However, this new club I've joined is an interesting one. I do not feel any different. Birthdays have never changed much for me. Yesterday, I bought a phone charger, had beers at the mall, performed a poem, was referred to by many near and dears as the "belle of the ball" and, for certain, it made me smile. I also told several people I love very much how happy I am for our friendship. They may attribute these revelations to my level of drunk. However, I am not in the habit of saying things I do not mean, drunk or otherwise. If I gushed at you last night about how awesome you are, I meant it with all of my heart, and I would mean it sober too. Forgive me my loud mouth and stumbling. Family are the people for whom unconditional love is not something that is ever discussed, but simply present. Cambridge will always be Thanksgiving, every single Wednesday. And for family dinner with words where the food should be, I suppose it makes sense I was cranberry saucy and dressed as tart as I'm sure I must've tasted.
I have been lazy in terms of writing lately. I am going to continue to be. My novel is due, completed (at least in some sense), this December. I am still kicking unborn scenes around. I need to buckle down. Instead, I'll show you what we looked like in St. Paul.
Breakfast at Mickey's our first morning in St. Paul.
Tackling Sam through a storefront window.
Updating the exhaustive minute-by-minute travelog at dinner before our first bout.
Anddddd I found a carrot flower in my soup. No joke. We sang.
Sammy T and Mike McGee listening intently, probably to that story about Grace Jones and the bicentennial.
My new nickname is Missouri, and my chest lets me breathe easier after a weekend of real talk and quite a bit of honesty. Sam rescued me from the boonies so that I could get my head on straight before leaving for nationals. We did lots of silly activities, including (but not limited to) poetry readings, basement discussions about cream of salad soup, consumption of cheesecake without plates, Buffalo Exchange dressing room fashion shows, and late night long walks for conversations that just can't happen in daylight.
Incidentally, if I ever get knuckle tattoos, my fingers will spell out "REAL TALK". The past week has been stressful--lots of packing, practice, running around like a headless chicken attempting to fly, etc. However, having a place I can run away to in the midst of all of this insanity has been invaluable. Thank you to the Poets' Asylum reading for welcoming me back after several years away, and to all who laughed, cried, and carried on with Sam and I. I am now reminded of how much fun this living thing can be, and that was exactly what I needed.
To awkwardly quote one of my teammates, you are the most of what I know of God, and most of you don't even believe in him.
P.S. Expect to see some updates about tour when I get back from St. Paul. Sam and I have been scheming. There is a press packet and a Facebook page now. Get at me if you have an East Coast arts venue that would want to hear from us during January, or a living room or garage or kitchen we could commandeer for an evening. The show we are planning will rock your socks so hard, they'll be laundered, starched and folded by the time you get them back. Just sayin'.
How is it that July is colder than June? I fell asleep in long sleeves and pants last night, under a comforter no less. I snuggled with a cat. July is not allowed to allow this. I have been writing letters on the backs of "damaged item" tags while working the dressing rooms. They aren't meant for envelopes. They are letters to future poems I know will get written eventually , love letters that say, "I know you are awesome a few weeks from now." I don't have quite the heart to sit down and make these poems (or stories, or chapters of my novel) yet. I am buried in rain. No one ever knocks on the front door, they just walk into my apartment, or yell, "Helloooo?!" in a very confused voice, as if they are coming over unannounced. As of yet, no one has actually come over unannounced. We leave for Minnesota in about a week. I leave for Boston tomorrow night after work. I want lots of vacations, breaks from all of this tornado warning. There was thunder so loud two days ago that I screamed and dropped my phone. The sky turned muddy water. There was no one in the house with me to hear it. Just like there is no food here to eat. A little boy came up to me today and the sidewalk sale and his sister stood in front of him and said, "He has something to tell you." But he just stood behind her and shook his head, tucking his chin into his neck and wouldn't say anything. And then she blurted out, "He really likes your hair." And he nodded, and looked embarrassed. And she looked at me and smiled, said, "Look, she's blushing," and they both laughed and walked away. It was a happy laugh though, much better than the we-only-complimented-you-to-see-the-look-on-your-face-afterwards kind of smile. Lately there are so many things to think about and so little time to do any of the thinking. I cut my hair off again to get closer to the thinking, to let myself know I was still brave enough. I don't feel as brave as I used to when the wind was this close to my scalp. Maybe the razor loses a little bit of its magic every time. I sing a lot of David Bowie to myself when the car radio should be playing. I've taken up praying in French again.
So I had this picture in my save folder labeled "wishful thinking":
And I decided to stop wishing. Besides the bleach, I am on my way. And the bleach can always happen later. As for the tattoos, we'll just say there are plans in the works. For now, this is the wish in progress, with a groggy face.
Other life goals fulfilled this week include making the Hampshire NPS team, submitting poems to a publisher, telling someone off for sexual harassment at work, among various other gratifying moments.
This week only knows how to improve upon itself. Saturday afternoon, Cass and I ran a workshop on the floor of a Manchester office building with Jeanann Verlee, whose new book Racing Hummingbirds is phenomenal. She, besides being a presence onstage and kick-ass poet, is a delight to talk poem mechanics with. Although, my favorite moment of the workshop definitely came from McKendy when he told her, "You can totally pen-fuck that draft if you wanna," while she had his hard copy in her hands.
I still haven't turned my calendar over from March.
As promised, the highlight of my spring break AKA a day trip to the city that was once home to a notorious red light district, a place that has been a breath of fresh air every time I've visited. Cass and I spent the day with our shoulders bare to the sun and big fat smiles on our faces. I've been thinking about the Friendly Toast (one of the best breakfasts in America according to Esquire) and wharf walks and what a good time we had making fun of the people celebrating St. Paddy's in lieu of letting myself sit too long with hospital things on the brain. It seems to help.
The drive to New Jersey after work took too long because I made a detour for gas near White Plains and then let myself dawdle about finding new ways the highways connect to one another. I like the idea that all roads cross if you keep driving long enough, though I know it cannot possibly be true, not even half true. I've lost all the mojo I had for good timing, and every other light turns amber just as I get to the line. I fly through anyway and kiss my hand, then press it to the visor. I never used to do this. It's something I saw for the first time driving with two girls I took portfolio development class with at Old Church when I was a junior in high school. Michelle drove a Honda, or maybe it was the other girl who went to Westwood High. I don't remember. They both had what I thought were much cooler clothes than mine. When we sped through a yellow light one or both of them kissed their palm and pressed it to the visor, saying, "You have to do that, otherwise you're doomed to terrible sex." We then got coffees with our teacher at Rohrs' before I ever even dreamed of working there. A few months later I was counting out the register, always estimating the nickels because adding by fives didn't mix well with the rest of me. Someone found a stack of old Playboys in the trash at the school down the street once and brought them in while I was on shift. We spent a lot of time on the back couch turning the pages sideways and cutting out body parts for collages we tacked up over the sink.
When I am here, this is how it comes back. All of it. All at once. A handful of voices yelling from every party I left early. "I haven't seen you in so long! Where do you go to school again?"
I'm starting a new thing here, a kind of shorthand for the things that make me smile. They will turn up whenever I think that a smile is particularly worth sharing. This featured moment will from here on be referred to as a "magic morsel", "magic" because at work there is an appetizer labeled "magic" that is made with some kind of sorcery-related jalapeno bacon (INSANITY), and "morsel" because I never see that word in print except on bags of Toll House chocolate chips. And even though jalapeno bacon and chocolate chips seems disparate, they are both very important. Anyway. Moving on.
late night at Chinatown Pizza, eons ago
It may be the icy wind chill that feels akin to a large, deadly sharp knife being dragged through the gaps between buildings, but the cause matters not--I have been missing New York. I could not tell you why. Or rather, I would not attempt to pin it down to a single reason. But it is there, shaking inside my chest like a rabbit afraid of freezing. Every time the wind hit my face today while Cass and I braved the cold to run errands, it felt like stepping up out of a subway tunnel to street level and getting blasted by a nasty gust. Whether that is to blame or not for my pining, what I can tell you is that serendipity brought me today's magic morsel, a passage from Kundera (again, I know).
Franz said, "Beauty in the European sense has always had a premeditated quality to it. We've always had an aesthetic intention and a long-range plan. That's what's enabled Western man to spend decades building a Gothic cathedral or a Renaissance piazza. The beauty of New York rests on a completely different base. It's unintentional. It arose independent of human design, like a stalagmitic cavern. Forms which are in themselves quite ugly turn up fortuitously, without design, in such incredible surroundings that they sparkle with a sudden wondrous poetry."
Of course the "p" word shows up, just to mock me for having not written. Reading this on the ouch during dinner made me think of taking Owen to that flea market while I was home for the holidays, how we walked slowly, arm in arm, making sure to look up the whole time we were on the sidewalk so that we'd take in absolutely every detail we could get. And the details one of us neglected, the other would point out. It reminded me of doing drawings in high school and having Meredith scold me for laboring obsessively over one area where all my favorite lines intersected, how she would smile even when giving criticism because she knew how much I loved the mess of it. It's been a long time since I've had a hand blackened with graphite, or been that in awe of a world that's gotten quite a bit smaller as I've gotten older. But a small mess is still a delight. I am holding my breath for the next road trip.