Monday, June 30, 2008


My computer is totally down until further notice. I'm borrowing time on a friend's computer to post this.

Stay tuned....

Sunday, June 29, 2008

a day of rest

It's been an absolutely horrendous couple of days at work. I can pretty much sum it up with one patient - a family friend of ours who ended up being Life Flighted out while I frantically tried to track down his family. I've looked people in the eye before and said "Your husband is having a massive heart attack and the helicopter is landing now and here are the directions to where they're taking him and do you want to say goodbye to him before they go?" but I've never said it to a friend. I look people in the eye when I tell them something horrible, but I've never had to look into eyes I know while I was acting in a "professional" capacity. And can I tell you I never want to have to do it again? Ever?

Then my computer developed something that Sasquatch is convinced is a virus. I'm not at all sure he's wrong, since Friday night I couldn't get on at all and Saturday night it's still really weird. The good thing is that this will get his full attention since, at the moment, my laptop is our only fully working computer. The bad news is...well, it's not good. A glitchy computer does not make me happy.

But in a weekend where I've had an eight year old in four point leather restraints spitting at me and calling me a f**king happiness is obviously not a priority.

Friday, June 27, 2008

the winner is...My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Thanks to everyone for all the book and movie suggestions. Now I've got lots of ideas for next week's trip to the library. I'm still on the fence about which Chick Flick to go with, but I'll let you all know what the eventual winner was. (As I write this, people will be at my door in two hours, so I'd better get on it).

So, I'm going to finish off my Week of Asking Nosy Questions with another one. Ready?

What color is your favorite room in your house? Wait. I've got one more. What color is your bedroom? Do you like it? Is there some color that you think would look great, but just haven't gotten around to implementing? Fess up. I'm really curious.

There are several reasons I'm wondering. First is that I love colorful walls. (It goes along with that decorating decree - if you have nice things, go with white walls. If you don't, go with color). A lot of it comes from all those renting years when I had to have flat, renter's white walls. Ugh. Second, I really am nosy and I love houses. I like to walk around my neighborhood at night and look in windows to see what color people have their walls painted. It's a sickness without a twelve step program and I'm deeply ashamed of myself. Truly. Can you hear it in my voice?

But the main reason I ask has nothing to do with either my love of color or my peeping tom instincts. The main reason I ask has to do with something that has been basically consuming me for the last week and that has started down the road to being worked out. It's the thing that is making me think of something as optimistic as paint colors. Stay tuned for the full story next week, but for now the bottom line is this...

We're keeping the house.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Thursday Three

It's baaaaaaaackkkkk....

As I opened my refrigerator earlier this week, I was struck by what I call "Summer Fridge". The contents just look different than, say Thanksgiving Fridge or Dead of Winter Fridge. And this led to
the question of

Summer Fridge Staples

What's in your fridge when the weather heats up and all the fabulous stuff starts getting ripe?

Here are my big three.

#1. Lemonade and Iced Tea. One for the kids and one for me. We also do limeade and pink lemonade and even strawberries mashed up in a pitcher of lemonade. (See #3). I'm a big iced tea drinker and usually have a pitcher of it at the ready. My southern family was continually disgraced by my loathing of sweet tea, but I do love to toss a slug of lemonade on top of a nice cool glass of tea. I'd like to say that I make sun tea, but I don't. I do it the down and dirty way in the coffee brewer. Make it at night, let it cool, and voila! This is especially important now as I'm trying (for the three millionth time) to give up diet sodas. This is gonna be fun. Snarl.

#2. Salad. Two weeks ago it was a big bowl of tabbouli with garbanzo beans and sun-dried tomatoes instead of fresh, thanks to the whole tomato/salmonella thing. Last week it was a corn and black bean salad with a cilantro and cumin vinaigrette. At the moment it's an asian coleslaw with ramen noodles and sunflower seeds. I'm blessed with kids who are salad maniacs, so I try to always have something available that gets better if it sits a few days. I'm still looking for that one magic salad (other than Caesar which doesn't keep) that all three of them adore, but I have a whole repertoire of salads that two out of the three happily eat. I figure if I keep rotating them it all works out.

#3. Berries. Mostly strawberries, but blueberries as well. At the beginning of the week my bottom shelf was completely loaded with strawberries, but the supply is dwindling low by now. My kids are all junkies. A few years ago (the last time there was a crop in this area), we went blueberry picking and came home with about fifty pounds of them for the freezer. For months, every time I turned around I had a kid with blue teeth. We have a friend with a crazy productive raspberry patch. They can't give them away fast enough once they start. One of my projects this week is to try to get together all the orphan blender pieces I have laying around and put together one whole working blender. It's smoothie time at Casa RC.

Better than a diet soda any day. Right??

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I'm taking a general beating lately for a) not asking for help and b) acting like I can do everything myself. And while my gut response is to say a) asking for help is not something that comes easily to me and b) what makes you think I can't do everything myself?? (as long as you don't look too closely, anyway), I see the logic in what I'm hearing. So to prove that I listen when a whole pile of people say basically the same thing, I have another topic that I need help on.

I need something to read. Something gripping but not scary. Light and frothy is fine, but so is dark and intense. No science fiction and no serial killers. I'm partial to mysteries, but they tend to be heavy on the serial killers. I guess you can't have everything.

I went to the library last week and had a terrible time picking anything. I ended up getting a bunch of non-fiction books on my new little fixation (don't ask), but nothing that I really felt like climbing into bed with. And I'm awfully used to reading before I go to sleep, so it's messed me up a little. (That and the fact that I seem to be missing a bunch of books that I all of a sudden am obsessed with rereading). You really can't have everything.

So I need ideas. Read anything great lately? I'm up for anything, as long as it has a recommendation behind it. And I know there are some voracious readers amongst us, with many strong opinions. Let's hear them.

See? I can too ask for help.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

hen party

I'm hosting this week's Chick Flick night and I need help. The hostess picks the movie for the evening, and the group of gals I'm doing this with know me pretty well. They're all completely expecting something of the Hugh persuasion, but I'd like to go a different route. Just because. I know I'm predictable and they know I'm predictable, but I'm on an ongoing mission lately to step out of my comfort zone. And a Chick Flick night without Hugh? Waaaay out of the comfort zone.

Has anybody rented something good lately that you'd recommend? Have any oldies but goodies? I know we've gone down the CF road before, but the pickings are constantly changing. ( And yes, laurie, I can hear you screaming Persuasion from here). It's in the running - or would be if I could find it.

Anyone? This is your big chance to put Hugh in his place.

Monday, June 23, 2008

do not pass Go

I've been reading a very interesting book called Split: A Memoir of Divorce, by Suzanne Finnamore. It's the story of a Marin wife, mom and writer who has it all until her husband comes home one day and out of the blue tells her he wants a divorce. And while it wouldn't be the divorce memoir that I would write, she has a really funny way of looking at things that makes you laugh out loud while at the same time putting your lawyer on speed dial.

One piece has her creating a divorce board game (a la Monopoly) with her mother. In this game you must navigate the various steps of marriage and divorce. As you pass each "milestone" you get to cross it off. Here are all of the passages:







Weekends away



Conflict over childcare

Neglect of wife




Beginnings of the I'm Not Happy speech


Trying to save marriage



Gaslight torture time: Husband denies everything

Ineffectual marriage counseling

More panic

The walkout


Single parenthood


Trying to make it okay

The outing of the mistress




Financial chaos






She describes the game like this: you can play as many times as you like, but nobody ever wins.

I ran down the list checking off all the things that have already been done and putting little mental marks next to the ones I know are coming. Some are pending, and oddly enough it's those that carry me through. I like board games. As a kid, I played Monopoly for hours with my best friend, even having all weekend marathons that always involved stashed money and temper tantrums.

But as an adult, the game lost its appeal. Who needs a board game to go around in circles and never have enough money for rent? I can do that just fine on my own.

I think that could be a major problem in marketing the Divorce board game. Too many of us are already playing on our own.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

who writes these things anyway??

You Had a Fantastic Year!

You Had a Fantastic Year!!!!

Compared to most years, last year was definitely great.

Overall, you're living a much better life than you were twelve months ago.

And nothing is a better mark of a good year.

Here's to hoping next year is even better!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

what? no Yugo?

I'm a Porsche 911!

You have a classic style, but you're up-to-date with the latest technology. You're ambitious, competitive, and you love to win. Performance, precision, and prestige - you're one of the elite,and you know it.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Friday, June 20, 2008

ever forward

Little baby steps out of my comfort zone...and it feels good.

I've just gotten home - at midnight- after a night out. And on a "school night" no less. I'm such a homebody that simply dragging me out the door is a job. Thank god I have friends who are up to the task.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

bunny suicides

I was on the phone with a kind of casual friend and something I inadvertently said triggered her charitable instinct. "My husband will be home for lunch in about half an hour," she said. "Please let me send him over to help you." I was in my backyard at the time, hunting for the newspaper, and I was cranky.

Absolutely not, said I. I positively refuse to be one of those single women who wear out her friend's husbands with her household needs. I. Will. Not. Do. It. I was climbing on my soapbox when something caught my eye in my peripheral vision. I turned around for a better view. And then I looked yet again, aghast.

It was a bunny. A baby bunny. In the air. A baby bunny being tossed from one Lab to another, with each one taking a big chomp and then hanging on until the other one came to wrestle it out of their mouth. Before I knew it, another baby bunny ran across the yard and Dee Dee, the fattest dog in the northern hemisphere, nailed it as it scurried. I had no idea she could move that fast for anything that didn't involve Milk Bones. Now I had two dogs tossing two bunnies, and I, who can take indescribable grossness in humans and yet cannot stand it in animals, was screaming for the kids to stay inside. (I feel that I have to point out that The Most Perfect Dog in The Universe was in the house for the entire episode. Gee. Like I'm surprised. Hello. Perfect).

And as I stood there , after the fact, shoveling dead bunnies into the trash with kids shrieking at dogs who were truly only following their instinct, I regretted my quick refusal of help. Because I've gotta tell you...I could have used it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

the RC experiment

Surfer Dude is absolutely obsessed with a show called The Alaska Experiment on Discovery. We watch this over and over on on-demand, and he is fascinated by the entire concept. I'll admit that it's intriguing. They took four groups of people (two youngish married couples, a father and two twenty something daughters, and a group of three friends - two men and a woman- who had known each other for a long time) and they forced them to survive in the wilds of Alaska for ninety days.

The show starts with them being flown into some of the most desolate terrain I've ever seen, and from there each group hikes to their roughly 200 square foot cabin. When they arrive they find a modest amount of food staples, but they are responsible for hunting or fishing for their very necessary protein. They have no electricity, no running water and not much else of note. They appear to be outnumbered by about 100 to 1 by all of the bears on a feeding frenzy before their winter hibernation. These bears, by the way, bear no relation to Yogi. These bears look like Yogi's inner city cousins.

Game on.

Watching this has made me think of how critical it would be in something like this to be with the right person (or persons). Much like the fabulous friend you have who turns into a side show horror when you take a trip together, it all comes down to getting along. And the show is a wonderful view into how people do - and don't - get along constructively. Sure, there's a lot of work and a lot of angst (and more than a fair amount of deprivation), but it all boils down to communication.

So I started thinking. Who would I want to do this with? Who could I do this with? And this leads me to this question:

If you were signing up to spend three months in very close quarters with one or two other people, three months of hard work and lots of uncertainty, three months of totally depending on those other people (or person) to help get you all through...

Who would it be?

Would it be your other half? A family member? A friend? And why?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

birth day

I've had a really nice birthday.

It all started with the kids wanting to stay here Sunday night instead of with their dad, so that they could make me breakfast in bed. They all got up at the crack of dawn to make peach waffles and apple slices with peanut butter, and to make a really cute card. Breakfast was wonderful, and it's obvious that their dad has done a good job teaching them to make waffles. They made enough to feed a small army and we all sat on my bed and ate waffles with the one fork available. Eventually we simply ate them with our fingers. Walking through the kitchen to throw my syrup covered sheets in the washer, I noticed that the kitchen looked about the way you'd expect it to after the cooking extravaganza, but I didn't even care. It was a great start to the day, and at least the ants in my kitchen were well fed.

Next up I met two of my best friends for coffee and presents and spent a lovely couple of chatty hours. I had barely walked into the house from that and the phone was ringing with a lunch invite that ended up with three ladies and five kids eating Indian food. Every time I got home I was greeted by the houseful of fresh flowers my mom and Stu had gotten for me. And all day long the birthday wishes rolled in - via email, snail mail, phone calls and in person. It was all very appreciated. I felt quite loved.

It's really easy to fall into the negativity trap, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. But something that I've thought for a while now became crystal clear today. Yeah, I'm inching toward fifty. I'm in a state of flux the likes of which I don't think I've ever seen. I'm the one who got dumped for the first time in my life, the old and ratty lawn in a "grass is always greener on the other side" midlife crisis. I'm the one...

...who wakes up in the morning with this odd sense of peace and contentment that just continues to grow through the day. I'm going to be just fine. And that's truly beginning to sink in.

My mom sent me my horoscope from the Los Angeles Times, and here is what it said.

If your birthday is June 16th...

You're able to express your love in ways you never have before, making this a year to forge stronger connections.

The summer brings a fiscal surprise--you earn money for something you didn't even know was a viable skill.

Someone you admire will come into your world in a stronger way in September. Sagittarius and Libra adore you.

Your lucky numbers are 4, 9, 18, 42 and 19.

Works for me.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


I'm going to do something really out of character and take the weekend off. Blogging, anyway. I still have two twelve hour work shifts ahead of me, and it's going to be a crazy weekend all around. The play that Gumby and Surfer Dude are in is in its performance weekend. (I saw it Thursday and it was wonderful. If any kids were ever born to be Oompah Loompahs, it was these two). Sasquatch is in day one of a two day birthday sleepover blowout....and my mom and Stu get here today for a brief one night visit. I'd really love to spend some time with them when I get off work tonight, and it's kind of hard to sit in my dining room and drink wine if I'm hunched over a hot computer trying to be profound.

I'll most likely be back Monday, or Tuesday at the latest. I think I just need to take a little time and breathe.

Friday, June 13, 2008

and the verdict is...

I don't know.

It all went well. They loved the house. We went through every inch of it (including the Silence of the Lambs basement) in the hour they were here. We talked new roof and we talked asking price and we talked time frame. They left to "crunch some numbers". Something tells me we'll be talking more - and soon. I'm not a bit worried about that.

It's the numbers that concern me. I have no illusions of making a killing on this house - not in this market. (It's one of the few things in this divorce that I can really work myself into a fury about. If we had been able to hold onto this house for a few more years and put some money into it, we could've made a bundle. Or lived in a showcase. And I have the comps to prove it). I just want to break even. I can't sell at a loss. I have to have enough money to put a down payment on a new home for the kids (two and four legged) and me. If I can sell this house and still not have enough to buy a new one I might as well stay put.

I have a few intangibles, however, that I think tilt the equation somewhat in my direction. But right now I also have lightning really close and if something were to happen to my beloved laptop I think I might curl up and die. Check back in tomorrow for the saga of the X factor.

Here's a hint. Think love.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

spic and span

I have been cleaning my house for the better part of the last twelve hours.

And ignoring the fact that it still isn't done, I feel pretty good about it. I moved around a bunch of stuff, got rid of a pile of crap I've never liked and just generally puttered around. My mom left her super duper vacuum here and I put that baby to good use. You can take paint off the walls with that thing. (Or clean up after three heavily shedding dogs).

What prompted this? you may ask. This doesn't sound like my "put my feet up and stuff my face with popcorn while I read a book in one sitting" plan, I know.

But I wasn't counting on the absolutely out of the blue phone call from a friend asking if she could bring someone over to look at our house. Someone who is apparently very interested in buying it. Sight unseen. Someone I've never even met.

They're coming today. Cross your fingers. Please.

Did I mention that little bungalow around the corner is back on the market after the sale fell through?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

the fruit doesn't fall far...

My boss slid into the chair next to me today and said

"Your name came up in conversation yesterday..."

(I hear this a lot lately, and I'm not quite sure why. I don't get the feeling that it's in a bad way, I just think that for some reason I'm a topic du jour. And I'm not the thigh master voice, do you hear me? That WASN'T me. I know who it was, though, and if the persecution doesn't stop I may crack like an egg and spill the beans - to scramble the food metaphors).

So I said, warily


(Before I go any further I have to say this: My boss is one of the funniest women I have ever met in my entire life. I mean, this woman is quick. And the whole irreverent tone of our department is set by her example. Just because you're a professional doesn't mean you can't have fun with it. And, no. She's not the thigh master either. But only because someone else beat her to it).

And she said

"Yeah. Word on the street is that the sweet, quiet person I thought I hired is gone, and in her place is a rowdy, "take no prisoners" woman with a big mouth."

I sat there - speechless - pondering my options. She stood up to walk away. And as she did, she called over her shoulder with a grin

"Jesus. Took you long enough".

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

confessions of a ranting correspondent

I'm exhausted.

Totally exhausted.

And I had the day "off". When I come home from work I'm tired. When I have the day "off" I'm whipped. What's wrong with this picture?

Well, let's see. How about we start with what isn't the problem. It isn't about keeping up the house by myself because I'm used to that. It isn't about dealing with the kids because I'm used to that. It isn't about staying on top of all the logistical things because I'm used to that, too. It isn't about the shopping and cooking and cleaning and driving and wrangling and breaking up fights and finding the remotes and wiping up muddy dog prints and doing laundry and paying bills, because that's all par for the course. Granted, I'd rather not do them all on the same day, but rub a lamp. We all have three impossible wishes we'd like granted. Aladdin doesn't live at this address. Never has.

Today my problem has been that I have spent the day running around making everyone else happy and haven't gotten to do a damn thing I've wanted to do. There was a party tonight I was really looking forward to (and it was a lot of fun), but I was so stressed by the time I got there I could barely relax. All I could think of was everything I still had to get done.

My kids still tend to look at the world in terms of "what can you do for me?", rather than "how can I help you?" and in spite of the fact that I'm kicking up quite a shitstorm about this, still just don't get it. When you're supposed to load the dishwasher and your mother comes in the door to two sides of a sink full of dishes and you tell her it is done because you can't fit another thing in and then your mother proceeds to do just that (in about thirty seconds), it doesn't look so good. And to follow that up immediately with a request to go on eBay to buy some new clothes is just plain foolish.

And to top it all off, I found out today that something is being planned for my birthday at Bunco tonight. There's only one problem. I won't be there. I worked my whole schedule this week around a business trip of the FG's, a trip that later fell through. By then it was too late for me to do anything about it. So I'm working on Bunco night and will be a no-show at my own party.

I know in the grand scheme of things it isn't the end of the world. So why do I feel so rotten?

Monday, June 9, 2008

tongue twister

One of our doctors made a very serious mistake this week. With any luck I'm wrong, but I think he'll be paying hell for this for a long time. It's too bad, because he's a great doc and a really good guy, but he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He was in an exam room performing a pelvic exam on a woman in her thirties. As usual with pelvic exams, there was a female nurse in the room with him to provide legal recourse if he was accused of any impropriety. The standard thing for the doc to say, right before they start the exam, is "Okay, you're going to feel my hand on your leg". This eliminates the element of surprise for the patient, and prepares them for the exam.

What he meant to say and what he actually said were, unfortunately, two different things. He said "Okay, you're going to feel my thigh on your leg". When the nurse cracked up (with the patient right behind her) our cute young thang doc still didn't realize what he had said until the nurse, with delicious glee, repeated it word for word. He turned shades of red not even identified yet, finished the exam as fast as possible, and fled the room. Everyone in the unit had heard about it within a day.

Enter another one of our docs - the department prankster. He and one of the nursed fiddled with cute young thang's pager system and, kindly, let everyone else in on what they had done. By the time our poor, tongue twisted guy came on duty we were all clustered in his area trying to look like we were busily working. When he logged on to the voice activated system, it played his outgoing message that would greet anyone who called him. A breathy female voice, channeling every bad porn star ever said:

"Well, hey there, it's your thigh master".

The look on his face as this reverberated through the room was definitely worth the wait. And everything you've read really is true. You absolutely can't afford to make a single mistake in emergency medicine. Because there are people out there who will crucify you for it.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

the big moment

Last night, for (I'm pretty sure) the first time in sixteen years, I walked in the door to an empty house. I worked all day, and when I came home at ten, it was to complete quiet. The boys were spending their first weekend with their dad, and this was the singular moment I've been dreading for about three months. I may complain about the chaos, but I'm awfully used to it being there. I may complain about my kids, but I'm awfully happy being around them.

And you know what? It was fine. Peaceful, even. I can't believe that it went as easily as it did. Thank god.

I'm off to work, and will write more about this later. But all I can say for now is...


Saturday, June 7, 2008

shopping saturday

Who: You

What: Whatever you want.

When: Whenever

Where: You tell us.

Why: Because I can't think of anything to write about.

Here's the game. You have $500 (or the equivalent) and you have to spend it all in one store. Which store would it be? And why?

I'd go for Target myself. Not too exciting, I know, but what don't they have at Target? (We have a Super Target, so we even have one of the best grocery stores in town, too). It's one of those places where you go in to buy one specific thing and walk out a hundred bucks down.

Five hundred wouldn't even be a challenge.

Friday, June 6, 2008

not a happy camper

We are about to get slammed...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

the fat lady sings

Well, the paperwork is at the lawyer's and today I'll get together with her to go over everything. If all goes well - and there's no reason to think it won't - our divorce will be final in August. To prove that the cosmos has a sense of humor, these are the songs I heard on the way home from dropping everything off:

Everybody Hurts, by REM
It ain't over til it's over, by Lenny Kravitz

While it feels like this drama has been going on for half my life, it's hard to realize that this has all happened since the beginning of January. Man. It's been a long five months.

But oddly enough, it's another REM song that's on my brain right now:

It's the end of the world as we know it...

and I feel fine.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

the Hollywood Sequel

Okay, I'm knee deep in divorce/financial paperwork that has to be done by tomorrow and I've just gotten home from a twelve hour shift and it's thundering and lightning to beat the devil so...

Blame Rudee's comment and an email from my two cents, but let's continue on with the theme from yesterday. Who would play your significant other in that Hollywood Blockbuster? You can go with either your real honey or the honey of your dreams.


Oh, come on...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

in the movies

If Hollywood made a movie of your life, who would be the perfect actor to play you?

I'm serious. Who would portray you? We could even do it two ways - who should play you and who would you like to play you? This could be interesting - to read how all of our blog buddies see themselves.

I'll start. Why not?

I see myself as a Sandra Bullock type. Kind of goofy, kind of funny and the perpetually twisted girl next door.

On the other hand, if you de-glamorize Diane Lane and frump her up a bit (or a lot), I could see that, too. The coloring is spot on. And that's a stinkin' cute dog.

And someone at work is convinced I look like Elizabeth Mitchell, who plays Juliet in Lost. He's pulled lots of other people into his little warped reality, but there isn't a speck of resemblance there. Not a bit.

But hey, what's Hollywood without a little fantasy?

Monday, June 2, 2008

night moves

I guess I had built June 1st up in my head a little too much, because at 2 am my body decided to get a head start on the day. Apparently the one hour of sleep I had gotten after I'd finally been able to drift off was enough, because I woke up to a just bubbling under the surface anxiety attack that kept me up for the rest of the night. I'd like to report that it minded its manners and stayed under the surface, but unfortunately I can't.

Then it was off to a truly bizarre day at work. Bizarre, unfortunately, in a sad and unbelievable way rather than funny and wacko. I had one patient twice. Came in, got treated, got sent home, came back in, got admitted, and, as my shift was ending, got an emergency transfer to the big city specialty hospital. I was so stunned to see the transfer team come through with my patient on the gurney that I ran after them into the ambulance bay and cried, "What happened?"

They told me. I'll be up all night worrying about this one. And it's a kid, for god's sake. A little kid. With a couple of stupid, screwy connections to us in a really weird way that just creeps me out.

Probably just as well I'll be up all night, because the on-call shift I signed up for tomorrow is already a given, which means that as I'm writing this right after work, I'll be back in there in seven and a half hours. And I'm wide awake and wired. At least it's a really short shift.

I'm sorry. I've bitched enough. I'm done now.

Sweet dreams.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

the next chapter

and so it begins...