Posted in adventure, family, fun, happiness, health, inner peace, kids, Life, motherhood, People

Heavenly

I know, I know- it’s been weeks now since I’ve written a word here. Well, to be honest, it’s been weeks since I’ve published a word here. I’ve now written three complete posts that I opted not to share with the world (more on that later), and I am worried that you guys might think I am off on a bender or murdered or something.

Truly, nothing could be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is, I’ve just been ridiculously happy lately. Ever have times when it just seems like all the stars have finally aligned in your favor and it is just smooth sailing? I mean, it’s kinda rare, right? But that is precisely what the Gods have seen fit to bestow upon me these days, and I am 100% here to receive it.

The night before last, I was taking Lucy the Lab for a stroll- it was 7:19 (I remember glancing at my watch) and the sun was still shining…I had a tank top on and was enjoying the warmth of it on my skin- for some reason I have really been into soaking up the sun recently, something I never remember doing much of before. Anyway, Lucy was happily sniffing and snuffling her way through every shrub and flower on the street, I was happily taking in the sun rays and stretching my legs, and behind me, Camryn was happily chatting away about the Pokemon she was catching. That’s when it hit me- I was completely content. Not just in that moment, although that was a perfect moment. But just…in general. There is not one part of my life that is giving me trouble right now. Everything is good.

Now, if I wanted to nit-pick, I’m SURE I could find something that wasn’t good enough- my house, for instance, is never ever ever ever clean enough. But, shit- I am really trying. Every day, I put some effort into it in some way, and that somehow winds up making it feel more acceptable to me, you know? Because before, there were days…okay, weeks, even- when I would just get off work and lay on the couch and HATE the mess but feel unable to do a single thing except hate it. So, even though it’s not great, it’s still better.

And the thing is, I don’t want to nit-pick. For once in my life, I just want to recognize this miraculous gift of delightful happiness, and enjoy it. I’m not even doing that weird thing where I realize I’m happy and then panic and try to figure out how I can trap that happiness and make it stay forever. Nothing scares happiness away faster than my clingy ass trying to dig my worried nails into it and demand that it live here forever now. That’s not how happiness works, I’m pretty sure. Right? I mean, let me know if I’m wrong.

Last weekend, on a five a.m., coffee-fueled whim, I ordered a trampoline. My 8 year old has spent more hours huddled in a dark room with her eyes on a screen this summer than I care to tally up. Not only does this make me feel like a lousy mother, but it makes her…act differently. She gets weird and grouchy and withdrawn. I’ve been trying to make sure we do lots of outside things in the afternoons, but it doesn’t feel like enough. The world that I grew up in- leaving the house the minute the neighbor kids were up and spending the entire day outside, riding bikes, skating, doing God only knows what- that world doesn’t exist anymore. At least, not around here. I thought a trampoline would be a good idea.

So, I got a trampoline. A really, really big trampoline. It got here yesterday, and Cam’s dad came by and put it together last night. We still need to put up the safety net, but I can assure you, we did not let the absence of that stop up from bouncing for a good two hours last night. The best part of all is that Aisley happened to be home, so it was both my kids and myself, jumping and laughing until the sun went down. The trampoline was not a good idea…it was possibly the best idea EVER.

So, what is it, exactly, that is making life feel so damn perfect right now? Well, I think trying to figure that out is where I generally go wrong- I think the tendency to examine and analyze and dissect things kinda ruins them. But I’m sure all the sunshine and walking and time spent outside isn’t hurting. I’m positive all the fruits and veggies and water and exercise is helping. The effort I’m putting into work and my house has to be part of it. Oh, and did I mention I’ve been kind of seeing someone? Yep. That is definitely not hurting my attitude at all…but I’ve decided to keep that mostly to myself for now (hence the unpublished posts I mentioned earlier). I figure I’ll know when it’s time to share more- not like me to keep quiet, but there you have it. I am capable of change. 🙂

So I’m off to start another (hopefully) excellent day. Enjoy these pictures of us jumping on our trampoline for the first time ever.

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Posted in anxiety, Depression, family, happiness, kids, Life, love, Mental Health, mental illness, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, women

It’s Not Just About Me

I come to you this morning with my messy pony-tail and my ratty old robe, having not left this house once since around 3 o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, and only then because I had no choice. I was out of kitty litter, and the house was starting to smell pretty bad. The only reason I even noticed this was because I shielded my tender little eyeballs from the sun and ran a bag of trash out to the cans in another one of my weird surges of efficiency earlier that day. When I came back in, the smell about knocked me over. Apparently, sitting in the reek all day was fine, but discovering it after a brief moment of fresh air was unacceptable. So, to the store I went.

Of course, I went to the store in my beat up old sweatshirt I’d slept in, didn’t bother with my hair, and had a face so free of makeup that it looked as if I’d left my eyelashes at home on the bathroom counter. I have absolutely colorless eyelashes, I tell you. Anyway, it follows that I ran into a “friend” from Facebook in the produce section at Target. I say “friend” in quotations because, although we have interacted quite often, and for some length of time, this was our first time meeting in real life. At least she recognized me. I was about as mortified as I am capable of being at this point, which is to say, not much.

Here’s the thing. My anxiety has been strangled into submission by pure stubbornness, it seems. But left in its wake has been something I can ONLY describe as depression. Like, I have never been so disinterested in everything before in my freaking life. I’m even bored with the idea of being depressed. Like seriously, what the fucking fuck? Can I just pull it together for five minutes or WHAT? I’m sure it has everything to do with my period showing up Sunday, and that the minute my hormone levels start rising or falling or whatever they’re supposed to do, I’ll feel marginally better, but…my God, I’m OVER IT.

I’ve even been grouchy to my pets. It seems like Lucy (my black lab) is forever nudging her head into my lap, probably sensing that I desperately need some kind of support. And I am forever perfunctorily patting at her ears for half a second before pushing her away irritably, telling her “GO!”

I watched this little video snippet yesterday of a mother reading aloud a little thing she wrote about the fleeting nature of childhood- the way our babies turn to toddlers, then children, then adolescents and so on. And how, at every stage, we think we have so much more time…but really, we don’t. Take it from me, with my 21 year old and my 8 year old who were both, somehow, born like a year ago. It feels that way, anyway.

That video jarred something open in me. You know, I’ve been so incredibly busy being self-obsessed, trying to figure out not only what is wrong with me but how to fix it, that I had completely forgotten that I am shaping the life experience of others. Namely, my small daughter and my pets. I wasn’t thinking about anyone else because I was thinking so much about me. You know, I don’t have forever. Camryn won’t be small for too much longer, and Lucy…well, she’s 7 already. For a Lab, that’s up there in years. I may not be Camryn’s whole world, but I’m a huge part of it, and for Lucy, I AM it. I have no right to push her away when she needs a pat or a little reassurance that I’m okay.

So, just like that, I changed my attitude. On my lunch break, when I jumped in bed to take a little snooze, I patted the bed and invited Lucy up there with me- a rare treat- and we snuggled for 30 minutes. It didn’t escape my notice that she yelped a little bit in pain when she attempted to leap up onto the bed. I don’t have forever. I am her person. She deserves my love, even when I don’t feel very loving.

Cam, who’d spent the day with her dad, came home to find a big sign I’d made for her- big bubble letters of her name, decorated with flowers and vines, and various declarations of love. Just a little dumb thing to let her know I was thinking of her.

Here’s the thing- it made ME feel a thousand times better. Loving on my dog, playing with the kitten (who, incidentally, has the best, loudest, juiciest purr you’ve ever heard), petting the more stoic and reserved Frankenstein (my black kitty), taking a moment to do something sweet for my kid…I did it for them, but it helped me. I forgot how that worked. I forgot that when we think of and do for others, it takes us out of ourselves and fills us up with something wonderful.

So, I’m a mess- there’s no getting around that. I’m a mess that is always working towards a solution, though, and I am proud of that. But I figured something out yesterday at least- I’m not going to find happiness searching the very place where all the trouble is originating. That happiness I want is not inside my head. It’s over on the couch as we speak, snoring way too loudly for a dog, waiting for me to stand up so she can follow me anywhere I happen to be going. It’s in the little body in my bedroom, drooling on my pillow, waiting to see what adventures this day holds. Yes, I’m a mess. But I have the best tools in the world to lift me up, out and over. People and creatures who love me far more than I probably deserve.

Today, that is more than enough.

Posted in anxiety, Goals, inner peace, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, motherhood, Musings, People, women

Raising my Standards

anxiety

I want to tell you something: If you are new to this blog, say, within the past few months- you have not gotten to see a very accurate picture of who I am. For whatever reason, my normally somewhat simmering anxiety got the heat turned up underneath it and started boiling over. During that time, since December I’d say, I had a lot of stuff happen that I couldn’t really control. I have been shaken down to my core, and that’s the truth. My self confidence plummeted, and I often have felt like a passenger in my own life, not really at the wheel, sort of at the mercy of whatever too-strong emotion wanted to drive that day. When your mind has turned on you, it is a very, very scary thing. I have not felt strong, or capable, or well at all.

But I have been working hard to deal with it. I have doubled down on therapy, listened to podcasts about overcoming anxiety, bought lots of books about it, I’ve had acupuncture and meditated twice a day sometimes. I take deep, deep breaths and I talk myself down, and I try really hard to talk sense into a mind that is…well, panicking. Creating fantastic scenarios of terrible events that are unlikely to ever take place. This has been the focus of my life for too many weeks now. And it is EXHAUSTING. I have heard things like “There’s nothing for you to be anxious about” or “You just need to get over it” or “Maybe just don’t focus so much on it” and quite frankly, I’d like to send out a big FUCK YOU to those people. Because anyone who has dealt with it knows that THAT IS NOT HOW ANXIETY WORKS. DUH. Do you think I enjoy this shit, Barbara? No, no I do not. The way my brain is wired, the hormones and chemicals that make up the little ecosystem or whatever of ME, make me a little more prone to slipping off the edge, and believe me when I tell you that I do not have time to be crying, curled up in the fetal position in the corner.

I am a professional. I have a job I work 40 hours a week at and the handsome paycheck I receive every two weeks goes to support my little family of children and pets and myself. I am a mother. I am a single mother at that, taking 90% care of my 8 year old, and by that I mean: I pack the lunches, wash the laundry, run the baths, keep the house, do the shopping, read the books, oversee homework, dry the tears, play drill sergeant every morning, drop-off, pick-up and try to fit quality time in there as well. That doesn’t even include taking care of myself, balancing the books, paying the bills, or feeding and caring for this freaking menagerie of animals I have.

So, even when I am so anxious that I want to sit in the tub with the shower just spraying me in the head, I DO EVERYTHING ANYWAY. Life does not stop just because my thoughts are running wild and my heart is pounding so hard I can hear it in my ears.

Do you know what that means? That I am so incredibly, amazingly strong. That, even with my mental health in the shitter, I am still KILLING IT. I am a motherfucking warrior. I don’t think the people who give me shitty, condescending advice would survive one 24 hour stretch in my mind the way it’s been lately. But it would be fun to watch them try.

Anyway, I am still not 100%. But things are getting better, and I think I might understand a little better where all this ultra-anxiety is coming from. One long, stupid word: Perimenopause. My spell check is telling me that is not a word, so maybe I spelled it wrong, but you ladies of a certain age know what I’m talking about. That’s right- my lady business is starting the long, arduous process of closing up shop. My estrogen levels are plummeting, and my brain is going haywire, and all I can do is hang the fuck on. It’s taken my “normal” anxiety and turned up the volume to like 457.

So no, I am not where I’d like to be. But I can tell you this- I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I am not just surviving hour by hour anymore, which is amazing. I am feeling my fight come back, and oh lord, how I need that fight right now. Without my spunky nature, without my ability to find the silver lining, to overcome every obstacle life throws at me…I am just not me. I lost myself pretty thoroughly for a minute there.

But I am back, and I am DETERMINED to wring every bit of good out of this bullshit I am dealing with, and turn it into something great. And that means it’s time to raise the bar a whole lot. I am going to self-care the shit out of myself, and I don’t mean bubble baths and pedicures. I’m talking about meeting life head on and DEALING with all the little problems I have let slide while I’ve been freaking out, and taking my life back to where it was…and then going way past that spot. I want to be happy. I deserve to be happy.

So, from here on out, I will be posting what I am doing to make that goal a reality, and sharing why these things are necessary for ME to have the life I want to have. I might not have a choice about whether this anxiety stays or leaves, I might not be able to control my hormones and chemistry (completely), but I do get some say in how much I allow myself to be slowed down. And today I am choosing to blast right through the barriers.

Stay tuned!

Posted in adventure, Blogging, escape, family, fun, Goals, Holidays, kids, Life, motherhood, Musings, random, travel

The World’s Quickest Trip

I know, I know- this is a weird time of day for me to write a blog post. I don’t even know if anyone will see it, but I want to get my trip recap out of the way because I have something I want to post tomorrow that has nothing to do with this, and my brain is funny that way.

So, we got a later than intended start on Friday afternoon- instead of leaving the coast at 2 like I’d hoped, we didn’t get on the road until 4. A considerable difference when you have a 6 hour trip ahead of you. Nevertheless, we were all on board and out the door two hours late, it is what it is. Also, didn’t factor in the colossal number of pee breaks my eldest daughter would need, and the hunger issue. Basically, we finally made it into Tahoe and our room at almost eleven Friday night, and we were SO TIRED.

Saturday was the only real time we had, and we made every second count. Up for our free breakfast at the lodge at seven in the morning, I was totally impressed with the spread offered at Granlibakken (the little baby ski resort I’d booked us at). This was not your standard hotel fare- this was REAL food. Great coffee, piles of bacon, sausage, breakfast casseroles, cinnamon rolls, blintzes, fresh fruit…basically, anything you could dream up was available. I really liked that part, and I am not even much of an early morning diner.

Camryn with a banana smile at breakfast this morning

We went straight from breakfast to our private snowboarding lesson, just one instructor for all three of us girls. Let me be straight with you- I had no real desire to learn to snowboard. That was strictly my daughters’ idea. I would have been quite happy skiing, but I thought, what the hell- kids want it, I want to be with the kids, I’ll try something new! Funny, then, that Camryn called it quits within 15 minutes and Aisley quit after 30. So I was more determined than ever to succeed, and I’m proud to say that I did. Well, sort of- I learned how to board down a tiny hill, and how to stop falling and how to stop without falling over. I also learned that snowboarding is probably not for me, and I am okay with that- at least I gave it my best shot.

Yeah, this was BEFORE the snowboarding happened. We were so young, so full of hope.

After the boarding debacle, we went up to the room, changed into our suits, and hit the hot tub and heated pool. We got super lucky- everyone was so busy playing in the snow that not a single soul was in the gigantic hot tub. We had the whole place to ourselves, with a gorgeous view of the snowy slopes behind us. We even went in the sauna for a while.

And this was after snowboarding. Look how I’ve aged since that morning. 🙂

After that, we cruised into town and grabbed lunch, then went back to our room and rested for maybe an hour. Then it was go time again! We all got cleaned up and drove to the other side of Lake Tahoe to take Aisley on her first casino adventure. We had a ball! Cam stayed with her dad at Harrahs arcade while Aisley and I roamed the casino, and I showed her how to play the slots. I won 35 bucks straightaway on a video poker machine, then we found a super generous machine where we stayed for like an hour. I walked away with a hundred bucks extra, and Aisley won and lost about two hundred altogether. She still left 20 bucks richer than she came, so that was cool.

Finally, I waited in the long, long line at the buffet while Aisley went with Cam’s dad to gamble for a little longer. The wait was worth it, though! Crab legs for DAYS, I ate. I’m not kidding, I killed two full plates of crab legs, not to mention prime rib, sesame balls, and who knows what else. When everyone else was eating desert, I was working through a bowl of butter and more crab legs.

In line at the buffet, on the 18th floor

We all got back to the room, passed out, woke up, ate, and headed home. It was a short trip, but it was good. There were a couple little bumps in the road, personality clashes and bullshit, but… I’m choosing not to focus on that. From my perspective, it was a great time, and if anything I learned exactly how to make it perfect the next time around. And it was good enough that I definitely believe there will be a next time.

So that was my two night, one full day trip. I made it home safe and sound, and I’m excited for the what’s next! Stay tuned! I’ll be spilling my plans tomorrow.

PS: I am SO freaking sore today. Holy shit.

Posted in anxiety, Depression, family, health, kids, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, motherhood, parenting, People, random, women

Anxiety is Boring

Well, it makes me boring, anyway. Trying to figure out something to write about has been damn near impossible…hence, my longer-than-normal absence from my trusty old blog.

I don’t know what to think, you guys. None of my tricks are working. Now, don’t get me wrong- I have moments every single day where I feel just fine. But when you think about that, it doesn’t seem like a very good deal, does it? I have MOMENTS when I feel okay? As opposed to “normally, I feel fine, but sometimes I do get anxious”. Yeah, basically, I am feeling anxious more than I’m feeling okay, and that is not normal for me. I don’t feel normal. I feel pretty awful, honestly.

It got me thinking about a lot of you bloggers that I follow who struggle with mental illness daily and keep on writing. I have such a huge amount of respect for that, now. Because when you are feeling the opposite of okay, when the thing you are struggling with is the very thing you are thinking with…it is HARD. Much the way chronic pain just wears you down, chronic mental anguish is exhausting. And it’s so weird- even when I am feeling so-so, I’m tensed and ready for the next wave of bullshit to knock my feet out from under me.

I was doing better- as a matter of fact, I had just bravely proclaimed to myself that I was DONE with this anxiety. I yelled at it, out loud, in the shower one morning- had a firm conversation with my anxiety that I was tougher and braver and smarter than it was, and that I would not be falling for its lies any longer. I went on and had a brilliant day, and I thought “Of COURSE I can do this! What was I thinking? I just needed to make up my mind!”

And then Cam came home from school that very afternoon, and she went directly to bed and fell asleep, and…kids get sick, right? But my anxiety saw an opening, and it went in full force. To be honest with you, my hands are shaking right now, and that was Thursday that it happened. She had a slight temperature, and she’s been under the weather since then- not eating much, etc. Last night her ear hurt. Her fever is gone. She is getting better, not worse, but my anxious, fucked-up brain cannot be reasoned with. My logical mind knows that this is cold and flu season. That kids are exposed to every kind of virus and bacteria and nastiness you can think of on a daily basis at school. But my anxious mind flies straight to the worst of the worst. It’s cancer. It’s meningitis. It’s…you fill in the blanks with whatever your worst fear is. It’s all so far-fetched, yet I feel it in my sick little soul.

Sigh…what can I do, though? The only thing I can think of to do is to keep on working through it. Keep on going to therapy and figuring out ways to not let my fear rule my life, or, even worse, freak out my children. It’s hard. I check on her too much. I probably took her temperature about seven times on Friday. And it’s so funny to me- in many ways, I am one of the strongest people. I have lived through so much and come out the other side relatively unscathed. I don’t know why this is happening to me right now, and I don’t know how to make it stop.

But I can promise you this- I will keep trying to figure it out. I will keep working to resolve this knot in my gut, and this mess in my head. I don’t know what other option I have. But any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

Posted in anxiety, health, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, motherhood, parenting, People

A Different Kind of Storm

Another storm came the evening before last, only this time, it wasn’t happening outside of my house, in the sky.

This time, the storm popped up out of nowhere, inside of me, in my head.

I had another panic attack. Another really, really bad panic attack. Over 24 hours later and I am still not myself. My stomach is in knots and I feel afraid and shaky, embarrassed and ashamed of my uncontrollable mind. I had to call off work yesterday because I hadn’t slept at all the night before, and to be honest, I still have barely eaten since this all started.

I am doing everything right. I have been exercising every single day, eating healthy, praying, meditating, working hard and treating myself well. To know that I can go from the very top of my game to an utter shaking mess in a matter of one single, illogical, triggering thought…well…that is terrifying. I don’t know any other way to look at it.

I remembered everything my therapist told me the last time this happened. I told myself all the things I knew, all the logic and facts and practical wisdom I had- I threw all of it at this monster, but it pinged off his skin like nothing and continued to advance. When I am in that state, there is no safe place I can go, no way to escape, because the feeling is inside of me. You cannot outrun yourself.

I am so upset with myself for things that happened during this episode that I almost wasn’t going to write about it. I don’t want to tell the truth. I am ashamed of it. But I will tell you this- my panic started over a very minor injury that happened, not to me, but to my daughter. It should have been something we put a band-aid on and forgot about. Instead, we made two trips to the ER and didn’t make it home until 5 in the morning. The doctors were kind to me- they could see that I was not okay. But the idea that my panic can spill out onto someone else that way, that frightens me. I didn’t reach out to anyone, didn’t pick up the phone and call a friend, give them the chance to talk me down. I put my poor kid through so much because of MY fear, and that fear was so BIG, I couldn’t help it. I literally couldn’t help it.

And now the question is- how long until it happens again? Because once is an anomaly, once is…just a weird glitch that happened, and whatever. But this is twice now since December and I can’t imagine going through this again. Or regularly. I can deal with, I guess, my average daily anxiety. But this panic- no. I can’t. I won’t. I will find a way to fix it. If I have to just steam-roll it with pure stubbornness, I will.

But today, I am just so tired. I don’t want to feel like this ever again.

Posted in Blogging, family, happiness, home, inner peace, Life, mindfulness, motherhood, Musings, People, random, women

So Much Good Stuff

Sunrise on Saturday morning from my front porch

I want to give a little run-down of my weekend, but of course, I’ve waited too long to write and now I have no time left.

I ended my Friday night with selfies with my cat, Frankenstein.

Suffice to say, I had the loveliest of weekends. Why, you ask? Well, on this particular weekend, there were several factors that added up to contribute to the loveliness. One of the things is that I have gotten quite comfortable with my daughter being off with her dad from Friday evening until late Saturday afternoon, so I can really enjoy my time alone. And this weekend, it really was time alone- I went to bed at like 7:30 Friday night, slept like a log, woke up in the morning, did some writing, meditated, basically…I did whatever felt good to me in that moment.

My screamin’ soup with way too much garlic bread. Yum. I miss that soup already.

I made a big pot of soup which I shared with my ex when he brought Cam home, and if we did anything exciting Saturday night, I can’t recall what it was right now. Sunday morning, I got up early, did all the same things I did Saturday except I added in my weekly “luxury bath” where I dump in dead-sea minerals and essential oils, glop on a face mask and soak until my skin prunes up. Ahh. Not too shabby. Around 10 or so, I woke Camryn up and we headed to Carmel beach to walk Lucy, stopping at the best donut store on the planet first for a massive bag of donut holes.

Cam, in free-fall

Carmel beach on Sundays is kind of our new thing. You can let your dogs roam freely on this beach, and it is truly dog paradise. There are at least 50 dogs- probably more, just running around, sniffing each other’s asses. God, I’m glad I’m not a dog. Anyway, if you are ever out this way and need a dog fix, this is the place for you. Seriously. Camryn just lost her freaking mind when she saw a Basset Hound yesterday. I think she might have scared the dog a little, but in all fairness, it’s pretty easy to have a dog-related meltdown when you are surrounded by that much fur and happiness. I had a similar reaction last weekend brought on by a Newfoundland. They are just incredible.

The Newfoundland that made me lose my shit.
Just a surfer, and a breathtaking view. No big deal.

So, we took a healthy stroll before heading home. Once we arrived home, I took a short nap, and after getting out of bed around 2:30, I had some coffee and started kicking ASS. I cleaned house for a solid two hours, tackling things that I’d had no intention of getting into when I’d started. After things were neat enough, I did my second day of the 30 day Yoga with Adrien challenge on YouTube, and let me tell you- she is GREAT. I am really liking this whole yoga thing, much to my surprise.

Cam and I worked together to finish her homework packet after dinner, and she was SO proud of herself for figuring out her math (thank God she did, because this new math is freaking confusing) and I showed her how to check it with my calculator- with every right answer, she was more pleased with herself. Finally, after a quick trip to the store, it was time for her bath and reading.

At the end of it all, in her fresh jammies, with her hair in a bun, she said “Well, mom- for once I finally accomplished something.” I know she meant her homework, and of course it wasn’t the first time she’s ever finished it…but it might have been the first time she did it and felt proud of her work. I know how good that feeling is. I’m glad she got to experience that feeling- I was feeling it too last night. That sense of accomplishment that comes when you strike a good balance in your day. Just enough play, just enough work.

My future home. Seriously, is this out of control or what? What a view they must have!

I had a huge sense of accomplishment when I went off to bed last night. It has carried over into this morning, and I hope it bodes well for the week. Happy Monday! Get out there and kick some ass!