Tuesday, September 25, 2007


A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine--a funny, delightful friend--took me and another woman to lunch. It was to celebrate the other woman's birthday. I will call the birthday girl Ann, which is part of her real name.

Ann was wearing a darling acid green outfit that she had bought at Dillards. It made the rest of us look like Dullards-who-don't-shop-at-Dillards. I told her she looked great and she said, "Oh, I won't look this good for long. I'll spill something."

I was thrilled to know I was not the only one this happens to. Well, I wasn't thrilled that her acid green was going to sport an ugly food addition but I am tried of being the lone sloppy person and was glad to have company.

I think this spilling is a mystery disease--some phenomenon that propels food from the fork to the front--we both have it. Perhaps there is some vortex that we generate that other people just don't have. We should be proud--being able to conjure up a vortex like that.

And sure enough, she spilled. Just a tiny spot but that's enough. I did too but of course my t-shirt didn't matter, except to my pride.

The next Sunday I was wearing a white V-neck knit shirt and before leaving for my 7:00 am meeting I ate a piece of toast. On the last freaking bite I put a tiny bit of strawberry jam. (maybe I shouldn't say "freaking" when talking about the Sabbath but Ann Cannon, who writes for the Deseret News uses it--in one of her older columns she used it a lot. I've sent her an email, asking if I can access her older stories and if I can find it I'll put the URL here. Here's the one for her recent ones: http://deseretnews.com/site/staff/1,5231,174,00.html)

Back to the jam on the toast,--it was not even half a teaspoon of jam, mind you. When I looked down there was a tiny, and I mean tiny drop of jam. I don't know how a drop of jam that small had enough mass to generate the gravity needed to fall. It should have stayed suspended. I tried to get it out with a wet dishcloth and you know how that went. I had a faint pink spot the size of New Hampshire. I took the shirt off and turned it around, put a jacket on and went to my meeting and then to church. That evening I made popcorn with browned butter and when I undressed that night I looked at my shirt and there were about four spots of browned butter along the hem. The hem, mind you. My vortex must have been slipping. Either that or I am extremely clever and talented, being able to spill in such an unusual place

Then there is the tragedy about our neighbor--a newly turned sixteen-year-old--who had her first date to Timpview's homecoming dance last week. (Anything about a first date can be a tragedy so she was doomed to begin with.) She wore a beautiful dress and looked like a dream. They went to dinner first and she was being super careful because she has that mystery disease/vortex too. In fact her mother, my dear friend who knows I have the disease too--and loves me anyway--cautioned her, cautioned her several times to BE CAREFUL. (My friend, who I will call Cindy, because that's her name, does not yell--so excuse the capital letters but her warning was so pronounced it needed the emphasis. Cindy is so sweet voiced that you have to turn up your hearing aid if you are in Relief Society and she makes a comment. And since our ward has so many elderly people--not me, of course--there are a lot of hearing aids.) Anyway, what happened? Dream-girl spills a streak of teriyaki sauce across her new dress. Of course she tries to get it out with a wet napkin. I could have told her that is futile. It only makes the streak into a spot with napkin worms. She had to wear the spotted dress the rest of the night. A tragedy.

So, for all those out there with the Mystery Disease I want you to feel comforted. Perhaps you are one of the very lucky, even very special people who have their own private vortex. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it. Or, we are the clever ones, not following the tidy pack. We are forging into unknown territory. We are the few, the proud, the unique. We are the spotted.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


So, what do you do when you are blue? Bluer than blue, even?

The first thought is to talk to that person that you married all those many years ago. But--and don't get offended men--men's first inclination is to fix things. I didn't want things fixed today. Well, okay, I really did want things fixed but I just want them to be fixed--I don't want to have to fix them myself and I don't want anyone else to tell me how to do it. What I wanted was for someone to hear me whine without saying, "Quit whining." I just want them to listen to me, plain and simple.

And besides that, I simply didn't know why I was blue today.But I was, so low and sad that I cried a time or two. Okay, three times.

Phil and I also talked today, three times. He had lots of good advice-- if I want advice, he's my man. I didn't want advice, not today. His advice has saved me from total insanity in the past--he is so good to help me understand relationships and the need for me to not feel responsible for other's behavior and about a billion other things that go bump in the night that I don't understand. But today? Not so much.

So, I sniveled around all day, being miserable and then my friend Pam called."Come on over," she said.

I did. And we talked. About cats and movies and Tony Packo's--which I certainly hope to go to someday--and about a dozen other subjects that had nothing to do with my snivelingness and whining and when I came home the blues were gone. Just like that.

The value of a friend. Uncalculatable! Besides that she sent me home with a jar of Tony Paco's pickles and a loaf of zucchini bread and her husband, Bob sent me home with a Sci-Fi movie. No advice, just funny, laughing conversation and goodies.Does it get any better than this? If so, fudge and popcorn would have to be involved.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


The last thing I do before leaving the house on Sunday morning is swipe my nails with clear fingernail polish. I don't have to remove last weeks polish--it's magically gone. Where did it go? Did it chip off, one bit at a time; did it wear off in minute particles? I never saw any of it go; it’s just gone. Surely I’m not the only one this happens to. There must be pounds and pounds of the stuff, flaking or wearing off all over America. Maybe hundreds of pounds of the stuff. Where does it go?

Which leads me to wondering about pencil led—the kind that go in mechanical pencils. When you are down to the last little bit it has to be discarded. How many thousands of pounds of pencil led are discarded each day in America? Where does it go?

Which leads me to wondering about diapers. Wet ones. Those are tossed into the garbage every day, full of water—okay, yellow water but you get my point. Diapers are made to hold the yellow water so how much water is put into landfills every day that stays there? A pond full? Several ponds full? A lake’s worth? Global warming could occur and the seas won’t rise because we’re busy tying up water in diapers that we throw away and that stay on land. Forever.

Which leads me to wondering about people who dig around in landfills. They do this so they can find out what the people were doing, eating, wearing in days gone by. Why didn't someone just keep a record? Wouldn't it be simpler, and certainly cleaner, to just look up the records of a tomato cannery. That way they'd know that people were eating more prepared spaghetti sauce instead of making spaghetti sauce from scratch using canned tomato sauce. Surely someone has records of how many bottles or cans of each kind of product was sold. I think people like to dig in landfills. They want to find buried treasure. Okay, the buried treasure is moldy stuff and rusted stuff but it fulfills they unresolved pirate desires. So, it's a bunch of pirate wannabe's who call themselves some fancy name and get a government grant to dig around in other people's trash. 'They are going to find a lot of diapers, that's for sure.

Which leads me to wondering about those lost civilizations. How does that happen? Homes that people built are covered over and new ones are built on top of them. Do the people in the original homes not realize that their town is being buried? Hello! Wouldn’t you notice if your house were slowly being covered with dirt—and maybe flakes of fingernail polish and pencil led—and then wouldn’t you get out the trusty wheel barrow—or whatever those ancient civilizations used—and haul that dirt away, dumping it in a gully somewhere?

When archeologists stop the local drain-pipe-workers from putting in a new drainage system because they discovered an ancient city built twenty feet down doesn’t anyone wonder why the original city was covered over? Did it happen so slowly that the original people didn't notice they were up to their ankles in dirt? Then up to their knees? Did the wife say to her husband, "This house is just getting too hard to dust. Let's cover it over and build a new one on top." This makes no sense to me.

Which leads me to wonder about Stonehenge and those large bodiless heads on Easter Island. How come no one remembers why they are there or how they got there? Did all the Mom's get together one day and say something like, "We're tired of answering all these pesky questions. Let's not tell the kids about the heads in the wheat field. If we don't say anything maybe they won't notice. If they do ask let's pretend we don't hear them." Maybe they stuck their fingers in their ears and sang, "Waltzing Matilda" when the kids said, "Hey Mom, why are those big stones in a circle?" Maybe the mom's said, "Ask your dad," and he was off pillaging some other town and by the time he got home the kids forgot to ask because they were so bummed that Dad didn't remember to bring souvenirs and so they went into their bedrooms and sulked. Maybe that's why they didn't notice the dirt up to their ankles.

These things are puzzling to me. If I happen to be awake in the middle of the night its questions like this give me something to do.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


It's Sunday morning. We don't have church at 9:00 am today. We have stake conference at 2:00 pm instead. Usually I have a Relief Society presidency meeting at 7:00 am and so today...with no meetings until 2:00 pm I feel liberated. Ah, time to think, to enjoy the Sabbath. But first the grow-boxes in the garden are parched. Would it be a sin to water them on Sunday? I decide it won't, so I do that and then I put the sprinkler on the back lawn.

Phil and I have an ongoing discussion about the back lawn. I think it needs more water as we have trees. He thinks the back lawn needs less water because it’s shady. But he's still asleep and I can do what I want without a discussion so I put the sprinkler on and for once I don't get soaked. It's a miracle. I stand back and look at the beautiful water. I'm satisfied. I love it when I know the back lawn is getting a good soaking. I can almost hear the trees sighing in contentment.

I go out front and get the Sunday paper and sit on one of the lawn swing to read. For once I don't just read the funnies and the ads but the whole thing. I'm deep into an article about a writer in the Arts section when I see an apparition behind the screen door.

"We DO NOT water the lawn on Sunday!" it says.

Yes we do, I think. We are. So there. My trees are so happy; their toes are standing in cool...

"You have FLOODED the kitchen!" he interrupts.

I follow the seething person inside and see that the screen door, leading to the back yard steps, is totally soaked. The kitchen floor is flooded.

I head toward the mop but Phil is squatting by the flood with a towel, mopping up the water.

"Here, let me do that," I offer, half-heartedly.

No answer. He continues to mop. I watch. He's doing a great job. That part of the floor is spotless.

As far as I can see this is a two-fer. My trees got watered and my floor is clean. All without my having to lift a finger.Well, I'm pretty sure mopping the floor on Sunday is not exactly kosher so I figure we're even. Phil might have had a differing opinion but all that manual labor has softened his mood. He looks pleasant.

I know we'll have a discussion--AGAIN--about the amount of water the back lawn does or does not need but for right now he is busy making sure every last bit of water is mopped up.And, gosh, look at the floor. See it shine. Isn't that nice? And I didn’t even have to lift a finger.

As far as I can see this is the perfect way to get a clean kitchen floor.And I even have time for a nap. This is turning out to be a great Sunday.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A story from the past: PHIL’S TURN TO GET UP WITH BENTLEY

Four-year-old Bentley was such a sound sleeper that he didn’t wake up when he had to go to the bathroom. There was a family history of bed wetting—on his father’s side, my pride makes me write—and I knew he’d grow out of it.

I put Bentley in large disposable diapers and called it good. In the morning he had a quick bath. We had it figured out; I wasn’t worried until I mentioned it to our family doctor.

“He’s what?” Dr. Stubb’s eyes bugged out like globs of beached jellyfish. “Putting a four-year-old in diapers is terrible for his self esteem. You buy one of those devices that attaches to his underwear. An alarm will sound when he starts to urinate. It will wake him up and pretty soon he will wake up on his own before he starts to go. It’s sort of like Pavlov’s dogs.”

My face got red. I was a bad mother who was setting up Bentley for low self-esteem? In order to salvage my own self-esteem I imagined Pavlov’s dogs in underwear, waking up to a buzzer and being taken outside to a fire hydrant and so I laughed, hesitatingly. Dr. Stubbs laughed a little too but he also looked like he meant business so I went right to the Village Green pharmacy and bought a Nytone Enuretic Alarm.

“Has changed thousands of young lives,” the box said. We hoped it would change Bentley’s because in 1983 the price—$46.70—was pretty steep. But I was messing with Bentley’s self esteem and honestly I was tired of dealing with diapers anyway so I plunked down the money and we started nighttime adventures that everyone in the house participated in.
We explained how it worked.

“Cool,” Bentley said.

An alarm was strapped on his wrist, a plastic covered wire went up his pajama sleeve and down to his underwear where it separated into two plastic wires with little metal clamps on the end that that snapped together, one on the inside of his underwear, one on the outside. When the metal clamps got wet the charge sent a message to the alarm, which went off with a scream that woke up everyone in the house. Everyone except Bentley.

I hit the floor running because if I didn’t get there soon enough I had wet underwear to deal with and wet sheets. I didn’t want to deal with wet anything in the middle of the night but there was his self esteem on the line so we continued.

“Bentley,” I’d hear someone hollering from other bedrooms. “Wake up! You’re peeing the bed!”

He slumbered on.

I’d wake Bentley, grab clean underwear and rush him to the bathroom. We spoke in whispers; we closed the bathroom door as quietly as possible and sometimes only worked with the night-light on so we wouldn’t disturb anyone more than they already were. I’d help him strip his wet underwear off and tell him to finish going to the bathroom, then I’d give him a quick wash and dry and help him slip into clean underwear. We’d attach the clamps, I’d kiss him goodnight and tuck him back in bed. If his bed was a bit wet I’d put a towel down and change the sheets in the morning. If it was a lot wet I changed them then. This happened at least once, sometimes twice, and occasionally three times a night. The whole process took maybe two minutes unless I had to change the sheets. Then it took three.

One weekend we went to Annabella. Mom, who knew what all moms’ know—which is everything—said, “Don’t give him anything to drink after 5:00 o’clock. He’ll sleep right through the night. Wait and see.”

We waited to see but didn’t have long to wait. The alarm sounded, I drug sleepy Bentley to the bathroom. Not once. Not twice. Seven times. Honest. Seven times. I got to the point that I was putting his underwear on backwards in order to find a dry spot to attach the clamps.

In the morning Mom was all smiles. “Well?” she asked.

I was so sleep deprived I couldn’t speak but my evil twin could; “Seven times,” she snapped.

Mom took one look at the bags under my eyes and bustled off to the kitchen. “I’ll fix breakfast,” she called over her shoulder. She offered no more advice.

This nighttime behavior continued when we got home, except we went back to once or twice a night—night after night, week after week. I felt like it was going to be year after year.

The only night he didn’t wet the bed was once a week when he had swimming lessons at the Orem Rec. Center. I figured the pressure of the water forced the cells to give up that little bit of extra liquid early and he “went” sooner. I told him not to go in the pool and he said he didn’t but you know four-year-olds. At any rate we had a full night’s sleep on Wednesday’s and I was considering enrolling him in a diving class, a water aerobics class and any thing else that kept him in the water every night. The instructor looked at me with a blank face.

“Water aerobics is for ages fifty to ninety,” she said.

“He’ll be fifty in forty-six years,” I said. “Maybe we should enroll him early so he’ll get used to it.”

“The class is at 5:30 in the morning.”

“Oh,” I said, laughing feebly. “I was just kidding.” She didn’t smile. Some people have no sense of humor.

One night, several weeks later—not a Wednesday—I’d finally had it and told Phil it was his turn. I showed him where the clean underwear was and then I went to bed with a smile on my face. At 2:00 am the alarm sounded. Phil slumbered on. I poked him and told him to hurry. He got up and stumbled into the hall, turned on the light, leaving our bedroom door open.

“Bentley,” he hollered—it’s possible he didn’t holler but in the middle of the night normal voices sound like those through a megaphone—“Bentley,” he hollered again. “Get up, son. You’re wetting the bed. Get up! GET UP! Come on now, that’a boy. Come on, Watch Out! Okay, you really should clean up this floor.”

This is not the time for the “clean room” lecture, I thought. Surely he’ll see he left our door open and will close it. He’ll tiptoe Bentley into the bathroom. Surely he will.

He left the hall light on, our bedroom door open and when he got to the bathroom he left that door open, too.

“Whoa, wait a minute,” he yelled. “Let me get this clamp off.”

Just pull his underwear down, Phil. Point him at the toilet and let him go. And close the door.


And what’s the matter with you? I thought. I was wide-awake. So was everyone else in the house. Did I hear him right? He was “helping” Bentley by pinching the end? He had obviously lost his mind. I had lost mine too for asking him to give me one measly night of sleep.

I got up, turned off the hall light, tiptoed into the bathroom and and closed the door. Quietly.

“What’s going on,” I whispered.

“This kid pee’d all over the place.” Phil hollered. “Look! It’s everywhere! It’s on the ceiling, for crying out loud. What’s the matter with him?”

Nothing, I thought. What you should ask is “what is the matter with someone who pinches the end of a little boy’s anatomy while he’s peeing? Haven’t you ever put your thumb over the end of a garden hose? Same principle. Water everywhere."

“Go to bed,” I whispered. “I’ll finish.”

He stomped off, scratching his head and perhaps his behind. Men do that kind of thing in the middle of the night. I didn’t watch. He banged the bedroom door. I hung my head and looked at Bentley. He was wide eyed. I rumpled his hair. “Do you have to go any more?”

He shook his head. He’d probably never go again. He’d blow up like a puffer fish. His eyeballs would turn yellow.

We got the wet underwear off and I washed him. He put on clean underwear while I washed the wall. I stood on the toilet and washed the ceiling and then put the clamps on his underwear and hustled him back to bed, kissed him goodnight and silently promised myself I wouldn’t ask for a night off again. I tiptoed back to the bathroom and washed practically every inch of it. I was almost 3:00 am by the time I was finished. I had zero seconds of sleep; the kids had all been ear-witnesses to a fighting match between their dad and a human sprinkler. I was now wide-awake. I went back to bed and stared at the ceiling, making a few rules involving husbands participating in any nighttime parenting activity. In fact, I wondered if husbands should be involved in any nighttime activity at all.

After a few months, the alarm woke Bentley and he would get up and go to the bathroom. Some time after that he would wake up without the alarm.

We retired the Nytone Enuretic Alarm but still have it, in the back of a drawer somewhere. When Bentley has kids we’ll mail it to him. I’ll include a note of warning for Tricia:

Dear Tricia,

Here’s the alarm we used when Bentley was four and a bed wetter. It comes with this advice: It’s easier to get up and take care of any bed wetting problems, yourself. Men don’t do well with four-year-old’s in the middle of the night. Trust me. Now, if the bathroom walls and ceiling need a thorough cleaning, then you can ask for Bentley’s help but you’ll be cleaning in the middle of the night. Alone. Bentley will have scratched something and gone back to bed.

And your child will probably be traumatized. Some traumas are never forgotten. To this day I wake up twitching if a car alarm goes off in the middle of the night. Good luck.

I love you,


Friday, September 7, 2007


The dog is barking. Always barking. Day, night, in my sleep, waking me up from my sleep, probably while I'm elsewhere. Bark, bark, bark.

Earlier this summer, in order to save my sanity, I decided to play a game about the bark, bark, barking dog. One bark was worth one hundred dollars. Two barks were worth three hundred dollars. Three barks were worth five. I carried a 3x5 card and a pen when I was sitting on the lawn swings and she barked. I carried it when I was in the bedroom and heard her barking. I carried it when I was in the bathroom and heard her and barking. I marked down how many hundreds of dollars would magically be deposited in my bank account.

In less than two days the amount was over $750,000. I only got credit for the barks I actually heard, mind you. If I had marked them all I'd be one of the richest women in the world. I could buy the dog her own farm with her own dog attendant and she could eat steak at every meal. She's a sweet dog, honestly she is, she just needs to be out of her pen more hours than she is. When she gets played with or walked on a consistant basis she is quiet.

So for now, I guess I might start another 3x5 card or else just go quietly insane.

Bark, bark, bark--five hundred. Bark, bark bark--a thousand. I can't type fast enough, she's up to three thousand five hundred. I'll be rich before midnight. I'll take you to lunch. We'll go shopping. It will be fun.

Bark, bark, bark. I'm beginning to twitch. That money is gong to come in handy because I'm going to need therapy--lots and lots of therapy. Bark, bark, bark.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Don't you just hate it when someone tells you what to do? I realize you have to do that to kids so they will learn they shouldn't throw booger balls at their brother, won't pee in Dad’s boot or put beans in their ears, but adults? Not usually, unless it's a teaching moment and the adult wants to be taught. We have something inbred in us (I think it's that "agency" thing) that make us scream, internally, if not aloud, "I WILL DO IT MY WAY." I don't know a person alive who, when told what to do, doesn’t want to rebel, just a little and do the opposite.

And that brings me to Satan's plan. He wouldn't have been able to return even one soul. It would have been total anarchy.

And so, with that said, I am going to go about my day, doing things my way, which won’t be perfect, perhaps won’t even be adequate but I will learn and grow and be who I am struggling so hard to become.

I hope you will too. Do it your way. Well it wouldn’t hurt you to at least listen to your mother. Especially if I happen to be your mother.

PS My sister listened to our mother. Mom said so, “She listens and then she goes and does exactly what she wants to do.” And so she did. She was a great woman; my sister. She’s in Heaven now, doing exactly what she wants and exactly what is right. More power to her, my sister Pat.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Spiders are a fallen insect. The ultimate fallen insect. They have more legs than anything else and then they spread them out so they look like they are taking over the world. And what's with the speed? Ever see a slow crawling spider. Okay, a tarantula. A tarantula qualifies as a whole different species. A nasty, bad one.

I brought friends into the house tonight to get some cucumbers and as they left there was a nasty BIG spider by the door. I freaked and so did one of my friends and the other friend, who weighs about 105 pounds and looks like an angel, took of her flip-flop shoe and said, “Oh for Heaven’s sake,” and promptly departed him for a better place.

Every spider should have such a person assigned to them. Like the spider that just crawled up the wall, behind the computer desk where I couldn’t reach him, even if I wanted to, which I didn’t. He had been riding in a washing machine for four days and he was dizzy as he couldn’t decide which way to go. Up, down, up, down, to the left, up, to the right, etc. He went back out of sight and now my feet are on my chair and I can’t put them down and go to bed because he might be lurking.

I hate spiders. Before they were fallen I’ll bet they knitted baby blankets. I’m going to choose to believe that. Some sweet insect who knitted for infants wouldn’t hurt me. Would he? I’m going now. I'm going fast.

Monday, September 3, 2007


We walked around the neighborhood tonight and the stars are gone. There are a few, we can find the big dipper and some of the planets but the milky way has disappeared. How can children realize the greatness of God's creations if the night sky is practically naked? How can they realize how insignificant they are if there are only a few stars up there.

Wait; maybe that isn’t a good thing. We want the children to know they are wonderful and valuable. But, Moses, after viewing things, said he had never realized that man was nothing and I guess if I understood the scriptures better I would understand that statement. I do know that without the love of the Savior and my Heavenly Father that I would be devastated. Maybe that qualifies as nothingness.

In the meantime--in my nothingness, I miss the stars.

Sunday, September 2, 2007


Yesterday my sister, Julie--who has pneumonia and shouldn't be going anywhere--her daughter, Lezlie, Lezlie's daughter Megan--the fantastic ice dancer--and Adrienne--whose name I may have misspelled--Julie's daughter-in-law came to see us. What fun that was. Everyone but Julie lives in the East so I don’t get to see them very often. Lezlie brought me a very fat, large ceramic frog for my birthday. She used to tell me a Big Mouthed Frog joke when she was a kid and her little face was hysterical—she was very dramatic. I loved to hear her tell the joke and loved her. And still do. So that's one thing, family--immediate family and extended family--is important.

Today, in Relief Society, our RS president, Joan, who lives across the street, gave a great lesson on gratitude. She had us list all the things we were grateful for and the whole list consisted of good things--easy things--nice things. After she was finished it was time for testimony meeting and the last person who bore her testimony talked about trials and how no matter how difficult life gets it will be all right. I wish I could remember what she said word for word. Trials, that make us stronger, bring us closer to the Lord, humble us and make us appreciative--now that's something to be grateful for and it's mega-important. Her words to remember: “It’s going to be all right.”

Patty, one of the sisters in the audience said that if you have gratitude the devil has no power to bring you down into depression. She didn’t say it exactly like that but that’s what my little ears heard and I’m choosing to believe it. So, I’m going to start a gratitude list and hope to be less tempted and less willing to follow the road of least resistance and hope I won’t buy into the doom and gloom as often.

And lastly, lemon meringue pie is important. My husband brought me one on Friday as a surprise and I told him I should learn to make lemon meringue pie but he said, "Don't worry about it, we only eat lemon meringue pie about once a year," and he's right. So, that's something I don't have to worry about and having one less thing to worry about is nice. And important.


I missed posting anything yesterday so this post is for yesterday, even though this didn't happen until last night. I was just too tired to post so I went to bed and read a Maeve Binchy book until I was insanely tired. I have an early morning meeting every Sunday and reading that late was a bad idea. At 4:00 am I woke up and knew I had two glorious hours before I had to get up but couldn’t get back to sleep. For two hours I couldn't sleep and when the alarm rang I woke up, dreaming I couldn't sleep. So, my question is, did I really sleep the entire two hours or did I just barely fall asleep at 5:59? I wish I knew so I could figure out whether or not to feel sorry for myself.