Don’t get too political

Kids in cages

Holding for Central American Immigrant Children 2014

Pay attention to the date on that photo. This is not a new thing. Most of us are only aware of it now because the press has been using this photo as an example of Trump’s new dubious policies.

Conservatives will say that this is just another example of fake news, that the true culprit is Obama, and that the press is just using this as a way to attack their boy Trump. And you know what, yeah. As a lifelong registered Democrat, I’d say that the Obama administration definitely has some ‘splainin to do, but that still doesn’t make Trump the hero of the hour. It’s not like he swooped down in his neon orange spandex and saved the children. Instead, he and his administration saw the problem and found a way to profit from it by making it exponentially worse.

And this is where people stop reading, if the title didn’t turn them away to begin with. It seems like the worse things get, the less willing people are to discuss it. And the thing is, I’m NOT that political on a regular basis. I’m a Democrat in a small town in Alabama, so I guess that’s somewhat radical, but it’s not like I spend my weekends holding up picket signs on the courthouse steps. Under normal circumstances, my participation in politics involves voting regularly and paying attention to the news, and only giving my opinion in mixed company when asked directly, and even then, I try to be diplomatic.

But these are not usual circumstances.

I should be writing my book in this free moment that I’ve found, not scrolling Twitter for the latest bad news, but even if I put my phone down and start writing, the images are still there. The fact that these images are dated, and are probably just being used to sell newspapers doesn’t make me feel any better. It just serves to remind me that we are ALL complicit in the current shit show. It doesn’t matter who started it. It’s up to us to end it.

Politicians work for us, and they will support whatever cause they stand to benefit from both financially and politically. Does that make you feel like it’s all hopeless? It shouldn’t. It should make you feel empowered. Whether you believe it or not, your words have the ability to make those monkeys dance the jig of your choosing, but conversely, they take your silence as tacit permission to carry on with whatever profitable scheme they can envision.

The thing you have to bear in mind is, a lot, if not most of these politicians are raised in upper middle class to wealthy families. They went to private schools, got into good colleges, and lived lives of total privilege, regardless of their ethnicity or political affiliations. Even with the best intentions, most of them are pretty clueless when it comes to the daily lives of the rest of us broke assholes. They may empathize with the plight of the middle class, too poor to thrive, yet too successful to receive any kind of assistance, or the even worse plight of the utterly destitute,but they sure as hell don’t know what it feels like to worry about where their next meal will come from if their state’s welfare benefits are cut in half.

But that shouldn’t matter, because as public servants, they should be listening to what we tell them, and doing their level best to accomplish the goals that we set for them. The problem isn’t that they don’t listen anymore; the problem is that we as a society don’t want to be burdened with the responsibility of holding them accountable. Voting? Who has time for that? Watching the news and spreading awareness? Too stressful.

I get it. I do. I mean, fuck. I’m a single parent working one full-time job and every side hustle I can fit into a day just to make ends meet, but that’s not an excuse to ignore what’s going on around me. Can I afford to donate money to every political cause I believe in? Hell no, but I can retweet the request in hopes that  someone with deeper pockets will see it. Can I spend my whole Saturday marching in the streets? Nope, I have to work and/or clean house and/or cart my kid to whatever thing he’s doing that day. But I can damn sure take five minutes to lend support and encouragement to those who can.

And yes, it’s scary, and yes, sometimes I want to ignore it all and escape. And sometimes I do. But that can’t continue to be our habit. Problems don’t stop existing because you choose not to acknowledge them. I know you know that, even when you choose to say and do nothing. The daily news haunts me, but not nearly as much your silence does.

Vulgar Topiaries Defining My Utopia

penis topiary

A huge labyrinth made of penis-shaped hedges? Check. I frequently muse about the things that I’d blow money on if I had an endless supply of it. The prospect of that is bleak, so my borderline pornographic lawn decor will most likely be forever just a fleeting whimsy. I have lots of those-a side effect of both writer’s brain and being an imaginative person stuck in relatively unimaginative circumstances.

Life may try to keep me in my corner, but nothing holds dominion over my mind, which freely meanders through the macabre to the mundane to the child-like fantasy to the downright dirty. I’m all of these things. Most of us probably are. I think that the only thing that probably makes me a little different is that I own all of it.

I forget that I’m weird. I tend to absorb myself in the attentions of other fellow weirdos. I don’t do social functions of the mundane variety, and I tend to avoid the other moms at the baseball field for fear that I’ll yawn in the middle of some tedious anecdote about how exasperating their husband is, or worse, I’ll just get annoyed and suggest they either suck it up or just fucking get divorced already. I have no patience for women who wait on their husbands hand and foot, and then complain when said husband acts like a petulant child. You hung that albatross around your own neck, sister.

Saying shit like that out loud makes me the person to avoid until they need advice on how to turn their situations around. I never stop being amazed that suggestions like, ” tell that dumb motherfucker to make his own sandwiches” are considered incendiary. How are any of us still in that place? If your significant other treats you like an Easy Bake oven with a special pocket pussy attachment, you married the wrong guy. I suggest a do-over. Or not-maybe try living with yourself for a little while.

I forget that I’m weird until I overhear an old acquaintance or relative speaking about me to someone else. ” She rescued a SQUIRREL! ” * Laughs conspiratorially* ” I know!”

Clearly, there’s a lot they don’t know, but I’m not sure how one goes about teaching empathy to an adult. I’m not sure what to make of a human being for whom the very idea of taking care of an injured baby animal is laughable. It’s a sort of passive evil that I frankly find somewhat terrifying.

I think the only thing that makes me different from some of the other weirdos is that there’s no sense of shame attached to the acknowledgement that I’m simply not like the other kids. Unfortunately, the world tries its level best to conform us all to the same standard from birth onward, and as a result, I see a lot of self-loathing in the weirdo community. It’s a lot to fix, and I’m not sure I would begin to know how, but just know, fellow weirdo, that to me, you will always be the most interesting person in the room, and even if we were surrounded by thousands, I would seek you out in your dark corner and gently lead you into the light where you belong.

Unless you’re like a racist or a pervert or something. Then you’re on your own. 😉

Be the Shepherd

Old Sheperd near his flock

“This old cane is for junk-punching, and I’m not afraid to use it.”

Just a fleeting thought in the myriad of things that bombard me early in the morning. My best friend/ sometimes lover/ I don’t know what the hell you would call us-he’s one of my forever people, I guess. Anywho, he was in a terrible marriage forever until she finally came to the conclusion that she’d been a lesbian throughout their entire 20 year relationship and ended things. It happens. Now, he’s exploring all of the things he should have been discovering when he was 19 and getting married with a baby on the way.

He’s making the rounds with every woman that crosses his path, and I encourage this cautiously, wanting him to have the good experiences while fearing that he’ll be damaged by the bad ones, but he’s a grown man, and even a bossy old bitch like me understands that good or ill, experience is really the only teacher whose lessons stick. The issue isn’t that my friend is a typical male that’s blinded by a pair of boobs on sight; it’s that he’s a fixer. If there’s a damaged soul within 50 yards of him, they inevitably latch on to him like a barnacle, and he seems to enjoy the sense of purpose that comes with being needed.

His latest project is a single mom with two or three kids. She has some sort of neurological disorder, and may very well be addicted to pain killers. To top it off, she also has some sort of slave/master relationship with a guy who lives on the other side of the country who claims to be a powerful warlock. She has a tattoo that claims her as his property, and she seems to take no issue with the fact that he has several other slaves, and she hasn’t seen him in a great long while, even though they have a child together.

I’m sure you can see where this is going, so I won’t get overly elaborate on my friend’s role in that scenario. I just told him not to take her to his apartment and not to leave his wallet anywhere that she might be able to snatch the few meager bills that he has. He agrees that she’s a risky venture, but that won’t stop him from trying. It never does.

And to be clear, this isn’t some judgment on my part regarding the veracity of some dude’s warlock-ness or lack thereof. Nor is it a a judgment on people who enjoy the healthy variety of a slave/ master relationship. Maybe he is a warlock; how the hell would I know? However, assuming for a moment that he actually IS a warlock, that just makes it that much worse. It doesn’t matter what I believe, but it matters a hell of a lot what SHE believes, especially if someone is using that belief to control her or take something from her that causes her irreparable damage.

My friend told me about this girl a few days ago, and I’ve found myself stewing over the situation. This morning when I woke up, this thought blared to me from my subconscious- in the real world, wolves don’t disguise themselves as sheep; they disguise themselves as shepherds. I’d bet money that this motherfucker, warlock or no, has convinced this girl that he can help her as long as she willingly surrenders her power to him. Magic or not, she’s clearly giving something away that she can’t afford to lose.

Personally, I think there’s a reason that there’s no clear evidence of real magic in the world, and this asshole is proof of that. The truth is, I think, that most people would handle that kind of power badly, and that most people, given that kind of power,would become the equivalent of a redneck who strikes it big on the Power Ball and blows his shiny new wad on every gold-plated thing he can find until he’s broke once again and hocking it all at the pawn shop so he can pay the power bill six months later.

But I’m kind of a cynic.

Even as I criticize this unknown man, a voice in my head is scolding me as well, and a lyric from a cheesy 70’s love song rings in my mind- ” It’s the one who won’t be taken who cannot seem to give.” You’ll never pull the wool over my two-toned eyes. I have one blue, one green, and have been asked more than once if I see things differently, and I suppose I do, or rather, it seems like I see both sides of everything all at once, which makes for a shitload of static in my brain at times.

I can see what that man is doing from a thousand miles away, and even though the lizard part of my brain wants to junk punch him and be done with it, the other part of me can’t help but wonder how he got to a place in his life where he feels justified in doing that to another human being. I feel pity for this poor girl and especially her kids, but I also feel anger that she would allow herself to be treated so horribly. Then I’m gently reminded that not all people have that constant, simmering fury that I seem to have been born with. I won’t ever be taken advantage of, but I also find myself being less sympathetic and willing to help than I could be. The lizard is strong in me, and the lizard just wants to watch the world burn so we can write and watch Netflix in peace.

Then I see my friend committing these small daily kindnesses for people. The lizard part of me thinks he’s an idiot, but the other side is drawn to his light, moth to flame. I know, that’s a cheesy and overused expression, but it’s just the fucking truth. He is most definitely the light to my dark, and has saved me more than once from my own dastardly inclinations. He’s a couch I can always sleep on, and if he was sleeping on that couch, he’d take the floor so I could have it, although I’d never take it. I try not to need him, or anyone, that way, but I always need that reminder that there are truly selfless people in the world.

In return, I listen as he vents about all the things that he can’t fix, like his marriage, and I remind him that no one in this world tries harder than him. His response is that it’s important to “do the hard thing”. It’s easy, he says, to do nothing, to stay in your lane, and just tell yourself that you can’t do anything about the situations that other people get themselves into. I’m living proof that he’s telling the truth, because my lane is awfully appealing at times, but then I think of the meals he fed me when he could barely feed himself, of the time he fixed my bathroom floor when I couldn’t afford to pay someone to do it, of the times he’s fixed me just by being him.

And he makes it all look effortless, even though I know damned well it isn’t, and that it would never even occur to many people to do the things he does. He’s the one who teaches me that we are all responsible for carrying the burden, and the “why’s” and “what-ifs” are less important than simply getting the job done. Whatever power you have is meant to be used in the service of humanity, because that’s the only thing that makes us all better. Be the shepherd, even when you feel like a sheep, maybe especially then. Someone always has it worse than you, or at least equally as bad. And never, ever, allow yourself to stay in that place of complacency and complete lack of accountability, because if that life doesn’t turn you into a wolf, it will most certainly make you just another sheep to be devoured.

Redneck Soliloquy

True story-I was eight years old the first time I got falling-down drunk.  A neighbor brought my great-grandfather a quart jar full of homemade muscadine wine, and nearly blind and brittle-boned, he’d been absolutely forbidden by his wife, children, and grandchildren to imbibe even a thimble full of alcohol. By today’s standards, he would’ve been considered a bit of an alcoholic, probably, but in the 1920’s Alabama he came to adulthood in, with no air conditioning and a steady, humid ninety degrees in the shade more often than not, the only question that people had about day drinking in those times was whether you preferred bourbon or scotch. Needless to say, their moral compass was a little different from ours.

In 1906, Granddaddy was a five-year-old boy on a dusty, rural farm, milking cows, tending fields, and churning butter with a lit corn cob pipe between his teeth. If all that hard work and nicotine made him sick, his mother bought cocaine drops from the Sears & Roebuck catalog to heal him. Back then, a little kid getting drunk every now and then may have been frowned upon by the little old ladies at church, but legalities were of little concern when the local law enforcement, if there was one at all, would have consisted of one or two apathetic, overweight middle-aged white men who had their own farms to tend to.

So, when eight-year-old me saw the jar of dark purple liquid that looked an awful lot like grape kool-aid, and asked if I could have a taste, Granddaddy simply gave me an impish grin and unscrewed the lid. Twenty minutes later, my mother was furiously scolding her grandfather, who was laughing hard enough to bust a gut, and I was an inebriated, giggling heap in the middle of the old braided rug on the living room floor. My main recollection of the event was that muscadine wine is fucking delicious.

My grandfather wasn’t much better than his father-in-law, born and raised with that same backwoods disregard for propriety. He’d take us to some trailer out in the middle of nowhere and buy us two grocery sacks full of  cheap little red and white firecrackers, which he taught us to light with cigarettes right before going back in the house to sit in his recliner and watch old Westerns. At ten, I was the oldest and therefore left in charge of the cigarettes. When I asked him how to keep it lit, he simply said, ” Just puff on it a few times every now and then.” At 14, when my best friend hauled me out to the chicken house to partake of some purloined Virginia Slims, she was very impressed that I already knew how to blow smoke rings.

All in all, I can’t really say that I  regret my practically feral upbringing. Would I let my own child drink homemade wine, smoke cigarettes, and light badly made firecrackers unsupervised? Hell no, but even then, I have to quietly admit to myself that he truly is missing out in some respects.

I try to spin them as cautionary tales when I tell him about the past, and I’m not exaggerating, even as I omit how much we loved it. My fond memory of watching a childhood friend catch baby water moccasins with his bare hands becomes the reason I don’t let him wander around country back roads with his friends.  ” No son, you may not drive through the middle of town on a four-wheeler with no brakes. The world is not what it once was.”

The truth is, it never was, or not in my lifetime, anyway. It’s a constant, active choice on my part, every day, to not be the wild thing that I was raised to be. Those crazy-ass white people you see on shows like COPS, falling-down drunk, alternately spitting at police officers and openly weeping as they’re dragged to the ground in handcuffs for shoplifting at Wal-Mart?Those are my people.

I’ve looked on as my dad engaged in an honest-to-God knife fight with a stranger, that only ended when my uncle Jimmy Ray went and got his shot-gun out of the truck, prompting another onlooker to call the cops. That’s right, Jimmy Ray. Luckily, no one was seriously injured, but after that little incident, Uncle Jimmy Ray took all of us kids out back, made a homemade boxing ring with a few fallen branches, and made damn sure we knew how to fist fight. Just in case.

On the surface, a grown man in his fifties with Elvis hair and a hula girl tattoo teaching street-fighting to a bunch of children seems a little ridiculously violent and ludicrous. I have to admit, though, the man taught me a valuable lesson about overcoming fear by pitting me against my much larger male cousin, who puffed up like a peacock at the prospect of beating me down, but who then crumpled into the swing set like a broken doll at the first hit from my tiny hand. Would I organize and encourage an all-out brawl between my son and his cousins? Hell no, but some part of me will always wonder if they wouldn’t be just a tiny bit better for the experience. I don’t condone fighting, or violence of any kind, but sometimes, every now and then, it comes in handy in this world full of bullies to know what it feels like to take the hits and get back up again, swinging.

I’m Trying My Hand at Horror

Scared boy behind glass door

 

Smut will, of course, always be my first love. I have at least three works in progress in my favorite genre, but October always compels me to dip my toes in horror. Halloween is my favorite holiday. I mean, candy and ghouls. It’s a no-brainer. Writing horror, on the other hand, is harder than it looks.

Basically, there just aren’t that many new concepts, because from H.P. Lovecraft to Stephen King, the greats have pretty much covered it all. Usually, a writer’s only option is to try to put a new spin on a classic concept. I THINK I pulled it off? I’ll let you readers be the judge:

https://horror.media/ding-dong-ditch

Also, feel free to donate a million dollars or so too me. I’ll give you a ride in my helicopter.

 

I Need More Hours in the Day

 

I’ve been busier than Annabel Chong in World’s Biggest Gangbang. I’ve been writing like crazy. I’ve published one novel, submitted a short story to an anthology (which was apparently rejected without so much as a “you-suck-lose-my-email-address-and-don’t-quit-your-day-job”), which I’m about to self-publish, along with two other things I’m working on at the same time, one of which is so good, that I may try to pitch it to a literary agent. My brain is in overdrive, and I really should be doing something work-related right now, but I miss my silly little blog.

I also pretty much live on Twitter for at least an hour a day, because there are literally thousands of awesome human beings out there trying to get published, and I want to read everything that every single one of them has written. In the last two weeks, I’ve probably added fifty free book samples to my Kindle. Now I just need to stop playing hashtag games and actually get to reading. I love it, though. Anything writing-related, count me in.

One thing I’m noticing among my Tweeps, is that there’s a lot of advice about how to finish a book, and while I’m far from a successful, award-winning novelist, I think I’ve got the how-to down pat:

  1. Sit down in front of your computer, or yes, even your typewriter, you fucking hipster, or even just with a legal pad and pen.
  2. Write that shit, and try not to worry about how much it sucks. Of course it sucks. That’s what revisions are for.
  3. Finish it and put it down for a little while. I think Stephen King suggests like three months or something crazy like that in On Writing , but I think it’s just whatever amount of time you need to gain some perspective in order to make necessary changes.
  4. Stop watching TV and playing on the fucking internet all the time. No, I haven’t seen Game of Thrones, or any of the other thousands of amazing and diverting things that are out there in the world, chipping away at our time. I’ve all but given up my personal Twitter and Facebook pages. Friends are calling to see if I’ve died. The thing is, if you’re sleeping, eating, and adulting in general, you’re lucky to get three hours a day to just do whatever you want. Personally, I use pretty much all of that time for writing-related activities, and I try to set aside Sunday for goofing off in between washing and folding laundry. I mean, I usually end up reading or writing, but occasionally, I’ll binge watch Netflix, go get coffee with a friend,or just stare off into space, or whatever my brain can handle.

And that’s pretty much it. Better writers could probably give better advice, but I just write smut, so don’t expect too much in the worldly wisdom department unless it involves interesting ways to describe a penis. An even better bet would be to find other writers out there, who love to share their experiences and tips. I’ve gained so much from just chatting with people who love to write. This site, Twitter, Facebook, Tumbler-they’re everywhere, and you will never learn enough from them about what it takes to be good at what you love.

 

My Bad Romance

So, I write romance stories that I publish as erotica, which is kind of tricky for me, because when I think of erotica, I tend to think of stories with light plot that mostly revolve around kinky sex. I LIKE those kinds of stories, but I don’t know that mine necessarily fall into that category.I just have to classify them that way in order to avoid offending those that don’t enjoy reading explicit sex scenes.Personally, I don’t particularly like reading romantic stories WITHOUT explicit sex scenes.Sex is a big part of most adult romantic relationships, and being able to bear witness to that part of it makes it seem more real to me.

I mean, I’ll still read non-explicit romance novels, but the whole time, I’m just thinking that the story would be infinitely better if the characters would just leave off with some of the angst and get down to the fucking already. “Twilight” is a prime example of this. I KNOW; I know, but I read it. I didn’t love it, but I read it.

A lot of grown ass, over forty women that I know consider this to be one of the most romantic stories they’ve ever read. Personally,if I had been in Bella’s shoes, the first date would’ve abruptly ended in a fight over music when Edward said he didn’t like music from the seventies. I would’ve been like, “Yeah, just let me out here on this dirt road in the middle of the shirtless werewolf infested wilderness.” No one who hates Bob Dylan and Neil Young could ever truly love me,and besides that, any guy, especially one who considers himself a musician, who lived in Chicago in 1918 and DOESN’T have fuck awesome stories about sneaking into Vaudeville shows to see Jellyroll Morton, well, that guy doesn’t fucking deserve immortality.

But I digress. The point is, those “romantic” stories are seriously lacking an important level of reality that I think is required in order for the story to really be able to wrap itself around you. People like to say that it isn’t sex that makes a relationship, but for most people, that’s total fucking bullshit. It doesn’t make the WHOLE relationship, but it’s certainly a big part of it.

The thing with sex is that it bonds people closer together, which can be really great or really fucking horrible. I once dated a Republican ( A REPUBLICAN!!!) for nearly a year because he was so great in bed.I was blinded by the “D” enough to ignore his creepy stash of guns and inherently false sense of moral/racial superiority. I should’ve ditched his ass when he said that people with tattoos were “trashy”, but instead, I’m ashamed to say that I briefly turned a blind eye because he took me out on actual dates to nice places, paid for everything,held the door for me, and went down on me often and willingly. Orgasms can really fuck up your whole life, under certain circumstances.

But that’s what makes a love story real. I mean, hopefully, most people make better choices than Bella Swan and I do when it comes to relationships, but even individuals that make seemingly perfect romantic partners have little quirks and imperfections that will eventually make you want to push them off a cliff. For instance,I’m funny, smart, and people tell me I’m pretty, but I curse a lot, I’m a total literature-obsessed nerd, and I play the ukulele for fun. If listening to me try to perfect that weird chord in that song from “The Jerk” for the tenth time in a row doesn’t drive you completely around the bend, then me going on ad nauseum about my favorite books or movies most definitely will.

These kinds of weird and annoying quirks are why make-up sex was invented. Make-up sex really is awesome, and while it may not cure the ills of your bad romance, it certainly makes it worth sticking around for a little while longer, and THAT is the shit I want to read. Okay, so you’re a century old vampire with horrible taste in clothes and music, and you have to continuously resist the urge to murder me, but you’re pretty and your long piano-playing fingers make me see God. Will we live happily ever after? Fuck no, but let’s live in the moment,here.THAT is all  “real” love is anyway – seizing the day by the balls and hoping for the best.

To this, some might argue that books full of kinky three ways and multiple orgasms aren’t reality, either. To them I say, sorry,but that’s just not YOUR reality. Personally,  I’ve done shit that would make a hooker blush. I’ve had three ways, watched other people have three ways because I was too stoned to join in. I’ve been in relationships with more than one person;with both men AND women-one of them was a trans man who I only broke up with because he was a cocaine addict, and I loved most of these people in varying degrees.

I may be kind of slutty, and I may have slept with more people than I can count on all of my fingers and toes, and I may have tried sexual positions that some people have only seen in internet porn, but in spite of what a lot of people seem to think about us slutty types, I can say that pretty much all of those encounters meant something to me.

I find it discouraging that for so many people,  there seems to be a pretty big disparity between really dirty, kinky,  tie-me-up-and-make-me-scream sex and what many people consider to be romance.  If anything,  I’d say that the opposite is true. It takes a lot of faith and trust for many to reveal their kinky fantasies,  and two, or three, or five people that can pull that off without giving in to insecurity and doubt are most likely developing a level of trust that will get them through the tough times. People who help you explore every facet of yourself without judgement are people worth holding on to. That’s real love right there.

How Are Women STILL Embarrassed to Buy Condoms?!

So, I’m watching a little Adult Swim the other night in my hotel room, and I see this commercial for Trojan’s new XOXO condoms…..

xoxo condoms

In case you don’t already know, these are basically a new line of condoms geared towards female buyers, which, okay. I’m not against making things look feminine and decorative. I’ll probably try them out myself. What irks me is, when I was watching the promo video, one of the key selling points was basically, ” Now we can BOTH buy condoms without feeling embarrassed.”

Okay, society, WHAT.THE.ACTUAL.FUCK?

I’m not saying you’re less of a woman if you choose not to shout out your sexual escapades from the rooftops, and yeah, I get that buying rubbers from the leering teenage boy behind the checkout counter who’s giving you that “I know what YOU’RE about to do” expression while the little old lady in line behind you is staring at you like you’re a total hooker can be awkward. I get that it’s weird, but it SHOULDN’T be.

It really just pisses me off when the world at large tries to make me feel bad for doing something that I enjoy when it doesn’t hurt anyone. It makes me want to go into a grocery store, grab the biggest box of Magnums I can find, take them up to the cashier and ask them if it’s possible to order the economy size in neon blue. I mean, I WON’T, because then I’d embarrass the teenage boy, and even though he kinda deserves it for being all up in my business, that’s not how I roll. But, I think about it really hard when he’s giving me that look that I answer with a shit-eating grin and a wink.

Nothing changes overnight, I know, and we’ve come a long way, but it’s still something to work on. Buy the box of pretty girl condoms, but for the love of Pete, don’t do because you’re embarrassed. You’re doing a good thing, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it, ever.