Monday, November 30, 2015

All the Figs.

Well, this started a whole thing this morning, this tweet from fellow writer, fellow mom, fellow weirdo, Cari Luna:

Billy just went upstairs to be alone, as if that's actually an option as a parent.

I think about this a lot. Not because I don't love my family, but because mothers are so rarely alone.

I am, by nature, a loner. If you've hung out with me, you might think otherwise. I'm social. I'm not an introvert. I like a party. But an essential part of me being able to think or create is being alone. I hike alone, or with my dogs. I've always gone on long walks alone. I'm fine eating a meal alone, or sitting at a bar alone, even when I don't appear to be trying to do something else, like reading, or texting on my phone. If I'm just sitting there, I'm ok. I'm listening.

When I was a kid, my mother was always doing something. The thrum of the sewing machine was ever-present in our house. She sewed, she painted, she made crafts. A lot of the things she worked on she also sold, so there was a money-making element to it. She was working. 

But I know it bothered her. I know, from her frustration, her irritation, that she wanted time to work alone. Sometimes, just our presence -- coming into the kitchen where she painted, or wrote, to get food or run the sink, or go out to the garage -- bugged her.

We're probably not supposed to be bugged, as mothers. It's not in our list of virtues, our best attributes.

So how are we supposed to get anything done?

Last week, I saw this comment from Miranda July, about her husband's work schedule, and their three-year-old son. No one asks the dads -- what are you doing with the children while you work? How are you managing to work your job and get everything done -- with the children?

Years ago, after a graduate workshop, when I had a then two-year-old and an eight-year-old, my professor asked me how I was getting anything done.

I ignore them, I said.

He answered: That's an excellent way to raise children. And he meant it.

I wish there was a typewriter in front of her.
I'm lucky. I get time away. I have places I can go for retreat. I take the train into the city. I am not working another job (although a lot of the time, this doesn't feel terribly lucky; it feels rather broke). I have a partner who shoulders a lot of the chores, makes lunches, walks dogs, does dishes. But that doesn't mean that I don't often feel like a possum with her children attached.

Because what I'm talking about is a feeling, not a list of chores. Look at the differences between Mother's Day and Father's Day: Fathers get the day to spend with their children, at a barbecue, at the lake. Mothers want a spa day to themselves.

I never wanted to be selfless. I never wanted to be that mother who gives up everything, who exists only to fulfill her children's needs. I cringe at mothers who identify only as "Someone's Mommy." And while I admire the fuck out of Julianna Baggott -- who manages to write in a scrum of children and dogs -- I never wanted to be that either.

I just want to be left alone.

Maybe this has something to do with queer motherhood -- with lying outside the bounds of good and godly heteronormativity where the mother, in her patience, wisdom, and thrift, is "worth more than rubies."*

Or maybe it has to do with my own peculiar artistic temperament, a need to create in a silent storm and then emerge to pack that's loud and laughing, and loves hard. A lot of it is about being good enough, about having enough, and doing enough. It's about guilt, and fear, and perception (both self and other). About having a made bed, a roast in the pot, and a manuscript underway.

It's about the fullness of agreeing to more than one fig at a time.

*Proverbs 31:10, obvi

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Pre-AWP Post: shouting FICTION in a crowded bar

Some of my friends are posting their AWP schedules on facebook, panels they'll be at, readings they're giving, books they'll be signing. I thought I'd take a moment to list a few of the things I'll be doing at AWP.

Deciding the day-of which panels I'm going to. There are a gabillion panels every day. Many of them are interesting. I am not killing myself ahead of time trying to figure out where to be when.

Walking through the book fair like a dazed deer, picking up pens, shot glasses, notepads, post it notes and other swag. Running into people I know and then standing there talking for forty minutes before I get to the table I was trying to find.

Buying Tin House t-shirts for everyone in my family. Hugging every Tin House employee in reach.

Going to the Dzanc table to hug Matt Bell. Because, who wouldn't hug Matt Bell? His avatar is a bear. That says "hug" to me.

Going to the PANK table to congratulate Roxane Gay on being such a fucking rock star.

Shouting I WRITE FICTION to someone at a crowded hotel bar.


Spending quality time drinking and eating and shopping with my dear friend Shanna Mahin, (whose tag line should be, totally a huge fucking deal) and whom by some tragedy of having all of America between us, I have not seen since 2008.

And finally, telling everyone who asks, or even people who don't ask, that yes, my novel THE SCAMP is forthcoming from Tin House Books.
This kind of Scamp.

cute, but no. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Nuance. Pass it On.

Chances are, you made a new year's resolution about money. I didn't, mostly because I didn't make
resolutions, because I'm in a constant state of struggling with improvement. New Year's Day isn't going to magically make me want to go on a diet, nor is it going to make me suddenly realize that I need to exercise. It is going to shine a spotlight on spending, because coming out of the Christmas season, it's pretty clear when you have been spending too much.

I am always spending too much. None of it is lavish. What do I consider lavish? Shoes that are over $100, luxury hotels, wine that's more than $25 a bottle. Some of what I spend is necessity, groceries, household items. Some of it isn't. We all have iPhones. Is that lavish? Maybe. But I have a hard time going backward with technology.

What's bothering me about this is the notion of privilege. Because the word privilege gets tossed around a lot lately. And people get prickly about privilege. No one wants to be privileged. Everyone wants to believe they got what they have because only they worked harder than the person who doesn't have the same thing.

And then I read this blog post from The Feminist Breeder on understanding the nuances of privilege, where the author breaks down what forms privilege takes: beyond the binaries of white / non-white, rich / poor. Truth is, there are many things that might be working to your advantage: race, gender, language, citizenship, class. The trick is not to be a dick about them. To recognize what you've been given, and still, work hard and play fair.

I have advantages. I'm white. I'm not transgendered. I grew up speaking English. I also grew up under the poverty line, in a family where abuse -- physical, mental and substance -- was rampant, and where more than one member struggled, or continues to struggle, with mental illness. The expectations for what I should do with my life were painfully low: they didn't include college. They did include marriage and young motherhood. An hourly-wage job instead of a salaried one. There was a lot of settling. The view was narrow.

Some kids have the whole horizon. A lot of parents pride themselves on telling their children -- especially girls -- that you can be whatever you want to be. If you can dream it, you can be it. No restrictions. This was not my childhood. I was told early that I was not good at math, and that I should consider modest, feminine jobs, like nursing. It was much more important to have something to fall back on. To make a safe plan, and not in the way of making a better living, but in a way that was safe all around. Apply for a job you can get, even if you have shitty grades and a high school diploma. If you do go to school, go for something middle class and stable. Be a teacher, not a professor. Write a column, not a novel.

How did I get here?

Partially, I got lucky. We could have ended up elsewhere. We might have worked lesser jobs, or stayed in jobs where the pay was low. Of course we had advantages. Geoff went back to school for another bachelor's degree in computer science, a move that opened many doors. Are there setbacks? Of course. We spent so many years making just enough money to be approved for credit cards, but not pay them off, that we are still crushed under the weight of that debt. We still live paycheck to paycheck. In between, we dip below zero. We don't have a savings account. You read that right: no savings account. We have a moderate house that costs us too much because we've never had money to put down on a house, because we are always paying off credit card and student loan debt. It's a cycle.

Last spring, I decided to not teach again in the fall. At the time, I was teaching a 2/2 load at Utica College, on campus two days a week, and working, honestly, with prep and grading, four days a week. It earned me a whopping $11,000 for the entire academic year. So I quit. I have the privilege of quitting. Do I miss the little paychecks every two weeks? I do. Because when you're below zero, even a small check helps.

Here's the thing. Lately, I've been acutely aware of others' hardships. I can pay my mortgage. No one is disconnecting my utilities or repossessing my car. The bills are paid on time. There's food in the fridge.

What bothers me is the lack of nuance. The assumption that this is what money looks like. The notion
that I can (and will) spare $100. (When the truth of this is that I will spare the $100, because not sparing it is painful to me when someone needs it.) It's the casual way in which someone mentions, I want money, when they look at our house. Or the way someone refers to Geoff as Mr. Big Money.

None of this is binary.

As Gina Crossley-Corcoran points out, "recognizing privilege simply means being aware that some people have to work much harder just to experience the things you take for granted." In some ways, we are the people who had to work harder. In some ways, we're not. But in most ways, I'm not taking anything for granted. I get it. Both Geoff and I have experienced hardship first hand. Both of us spent time on food stamps or welfare. College was not a given for either one of us. And yes, it was easier for us to break out of the patterns of the working poor. In some cases, because of the advantages we were simply born with.

My point: no one is served by a binary system that simply categorizes people into classes of privileged or not. A nuanced version of it, what Crossley-Corcoran calls intersectionality -- where you might recognize someone as more than just one goddamn thing -- probably prevents anyone from being a dick about it. Maybe it's better if we see and acknowledge the struggles behind anyone's current situation. To recognize that even if you are privileged in one way, there are other ways in which you might not be. Maybe we shouldn't rely so much on a quick surface judgement.

Just me, shopping on a regular Tuesday.
I spend a lot of time jokingly playing into the binaries. Agreeing that yes, since I'm not teaching a dead-end, low-paying adjunct job anymore, all I do is lie around and eat chocolates. That I'm driving a luxury car, and not simply a mid-range sedan. It all goes down easier than me being defensive. 

But I'm tired of it. I'm tired of apologizing for having a husband with a high-skill job that pays well, just like I'm tired of always running out of money. I'm tired of paying off credit card debt from fifteen years ago, and still paying on student loans. I'm tired of assumptions.

Probably, a lack of nuanced understanding is everything that's wrong with how we treat each other as people. No one wants to be pigeon-holed as one thing: old, poor, fat, or even white, middle class, or educated. And if that's all you're willing to see about me, then as my dad used to say, You don't know who I really am.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Days of Miracle and Wonder:* Why I Give Money to Strangers

Last week, I was in Penn Station, waiting to board my train after four days in the city, and a man caught my attention. He was leaning on the wall outside the waiting room. (If you've been to Penn Station, you know there are no chairs outside the waiting room, only places to lean.) He wasn't particularly disheveled. He was wearing regular work clothes, jeans and a jacket. He asked me for change, because he was hungry. He said, I just want to eat.

Of course, I said. Everyone needs to eat.

I had a twenty and some ones, so I gave him the four dollars. I happened to be cash-poor (read: credit-ok)1 and I wanted to hold onto my twenty.

I've been told I'm a sucker. In fact, I've been lightly lectured, corrected, or generally 'splained-to about not giving money to panhandlers. But I did. And most often, if I've got small bills handy, I will.

Here's the thing: I don't know if he wanted to eat. He might have wanted to buy a beer. Or whatever else you might buy with four dollars -- which isn't much. It was enough for a sandwich if he was hungry.

Everyone needs to eat.

As a kid, I grew up on food stamps and medicaid. My clothes were home made, or they were cheap. My junior prom dress came from a thrift store and my teachers pitched in to pay for my AP exams. I never looked disheveled, and I was never quite hungry. But I understand an empty pocket.

But recently, I had a conversation where some big assumptions were being made about people on welfare or food stamps, that they're all just cheating the system. Just getting what they can, for free.

If you've ever checked out of a grocery store with food stamps, there's no swell of pride there while you separate your groceries into what you can buy and what you can't buy. Not much happiness in pulling out a WIC check or a Medicaid card, either.

because douchebaggery like this exists
I answered, I actually know people who are on assistance, and they're not cheating. I was met with some incredulity, until I explained a bit further -- which I won't do here. Because it's a lousy thing to have to explain -- why someone gets assistance. It's not  my place. And honestly, it's not yours, either. But I know, there's a general assumption that people on welfare are also driving nice cars, they're wearing designer clothes, they're using iPhones and they have the top level of digital cable. And here's what I'm telling you: sure, those people exist. And no, they are not the majority. Half of the people who benefit from food stamps are children.2

And I know, you can give a man a fish, right? Or you can teach him to fish. But no one is learning how to fish while still hungry. Recognition is a form or respect; it's a form of love. If I stop and acknowledge someone's pain, someone's hardship, with a couple of dollars, it's very different from telling them how to go about getting their own dollar. All that says is, I know better than you. And if you were like me, you would understand that too. I've given in more organized ways, and less organized ways. I've given more. And I've given when I'm sure the reason the person asked for money was not what they told me.

Before the Penn Station incident,  I passed a man sitting on 2nd Avenue, begging. He rattled a cup, and he didn't ask me for anything when I passed.

He said, Hello Sweetheart, and I turned back to say hello.

He said, I like your smile. He was grinning.

I said, I like your smile too. And truth be told, right then I loved him.

Jesus, disguised as a homeless man
Years ago, a man who panhandled regularly outside The Cathedral in downtown Syracuse, a big guy who usually wore a heavy tweed sport coat and had shoes held together with duck tape, asked Geoff for money, and Geoff gave him five dollars. He hugged Geoff, even while Geoff held a still baby Liam. He told Geoff he loved him.

Love might be the greatest thing you can offer the world, if you can't give it a few dollars.

I know plenty of people who refuse to give money to people who ask for it. You never know what they're actually doing with the money. Who are they to rely on handouts? Why should you just give it to him?

Why should you just give it to him?

On the way to Penn, in the taxi, I passed Saint Francis of Assisi on 31st Street, a small, beautiful
Not the actual Manhattan statue, but very similar.
church stuck in between taller buildings. In the window, the image of Francis, with birds. On the sidewallk, outside the church, a bronze statue of the saint, cross-legged on the cement, with his hand out, asking.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not telling you to give money to strangers, or to anyone for that matter, and I'm not telling you how to. I'm just telling you why I do.

Because you don't know who he is.

Because really, there's a fine line between the man with the cup and the rest of us, you just can't see it. With a handful of different choices, he could be you. He might be your brother, or your mother, or he might be something divine that you're just too tired to see.

* Don't cry baby, don't cry.
1. I'm still reaping years of not making enough money and yes, still using credit cards, for the worst reasons: when I don't have the cash.
2. Source: department of agriculture: of course, with a government shut down, good luck finding any actual information there.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Girl with the Most Cake: Some Issues with Weight

There were several cover concepts for The Conjurer before we decided on the character Dorothea from the title story. At the end of that story, Dorothea takes her dress off and walks into a field naked while a photographer takes photos of her from behind. I wanted a woman like her: young, but round, with long, brown hair.

The Three (totally fucking fat) Graces
There was a joke that if we couldn't find the right stock photo, or the right model, I would have to put my own ass on the cover. I'm not right for it. I don't have Dorothea's long brown hair, and I'm not as young. She's twenty-six. I'm forty. Her skin has something mine no longer has. An elasticity and shine. But whether or not I was round enough was not up for debate. In fact, someone, in the discussion, used the word Rubenesque.

I went back to my hotel room and googled Rubens paintings. In my head I thought of other ways I  might describe my own body: vintage, pin up, French nude. Rubenesque? I thought. That's fucking fat.

I have weight issues. I've had them a long time, and probably the only thing that predates them are my hair issues, which started at -- no joke -- birth.*

College grad 1995. Not fucking fat.
I've never been really fat. I've also never been really thin, although I've been lean. When I was a
teenager, my parents had me record my weight every day. Because of this careful tracking, I can tell you that I weighed somewhere between 125 and 135 for all of junior high and high school. I'm five foot four. That's not fat. That's pretty average. I stayed under 140 all through college.

Here's what I know about weight. You can try to persuade me otherwise, but it's what I've witnessed. If you've always been thin, never struggled, people like you, and they secretly resent you. If you've been average to plump and have to work at getting thin, and then get thin -- people resent you. In fact, people will tell you things like, Don't
2005. Totally fucking thin.
get too thin!
Or, oh, you're too skinny now. When you gain the weight back, people are secretly happy. Unless they haven't seen you in years. These people remember you as thin, and when they see you, the weight hangs there like a weird cloud. Oh, she's fat now. If you're really heavy, people worry about your health, and don't think at all about your looks, and when you lose weight, they're supportive, and they cheer you on, but not because they ever think you will actually look good.

Harsh? Maybe. People are harsh.

I gained weight after my dad died and I moved to Clinton. Before that, I'd been on the South Beach Diet; I was going to the gym three or more days a week. I weighed somewhere between 125 and 130 at my thinnest, and I had lean muscle. I was thirty-two, and I had youth and metabolism on my side. I didn't gain weight all at once. I gained it slowly -- the way people do when they stop going to the gym as often, when they stop caring about whether or not they have pizza, or a sandwich, or a cookie, when you spend days at a desk, or on a couch, or in a bed, convincing yourself that you can keep going, can keep doing anything at all. 

Probably things stem back to an event. I used to tell people I started drinking when my brother went to jail. I could say that I got fat after my dad died. We moved within days of the funeral. I sent my youngest to kindergarten, and my oldest to middle school, where they knew no one. We didn't have a place to live yet; we stayed with relatives until our apartment was ready. Our house was sold. We lived somewhere else now. It took my five years to gain all this weight. Just like it took me all of my thirties to develop a drinking habit.

What I don't like about  my body isn't its size. I love women's bodies, especially when they are round.
Katya Zharkova
What I'm carrying with me isn't just the weight of fat: it's the weight of grief, or struggle. Stress, anxiety, anger. It doesn't feel like who I am. It holds me back. At my worst, I think it's all people see. At my real worst, it's all I see.

I would like to drop pounds off the side of a bridge, where they would either sink like rocks into the creek, or fly away like sudden sparrows, a dip, and then flight.

I will more likely churn them off, sweating. Trying not to cry.

The first yoga class I took in town (I had done some yoga at home for years), I was in a room full of women, doing really difficult Bikram poses. It was hot, and my muscles felt used, charged, purposeful. When we went into half tortoise pose, I put my head on my mat and burst into tears. What is happening? I thought. Oh my God, don't do this here. It was within weeks of our move. I held it in. I got it together. I stood up, and did some beautiful backbends.**

It's still there. Inside. All that shit I swallowed or didn't exhale, or didn't cry out, or even say to anyone. And now it's gathered around my middle. Where I hate it.

This is not me. I don't know where I went.

*Another blog, another day. I can't get through too many issues at once.
** Turns out, this is a pretty normal reaction during yoga.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

You Don't Know Who I Really Am

I am misunderstood a lot. I'm used to it. My tone is sometimes drier, or more sarcastic than people expect. People who don't know me are often surprised that I have children. You're a mom? they gasp. Sometimes, it's hard to know me. I keep stuff in. I'm not always open with my feelings. My mom has always said that if something happened to me -- a divorce, lost job, etc -- she would know maybe six months later. Probably, this is a trait that I got from my dad. He was good at keeping up appearances. Worried that anyone would notice if something was not just right. He had a public persona, and a private persona, and probably a hidden persona too. He used to tell us, You don't know who I really am. 

My point here, is that I'm used to it. For years, a lot of my family, and many of my friends have not
quite known me. In particular, my family has assumed that I write about my brother -- without really taking into consideration that most fiction writers don't write about anyone. What we do is more complicated than that -- it's a pastiche of many things, many people, many traits, bits of conversations overheard, the weird things that happen to people, or the bad decisions they make.

Bad decisions make good stories.  Right? I'm used to it.

But this week, I experienced something new, or something I guess maybe I haven't in a long time: another writer misunderstood my work.

Look, I hate fictional bean counting. It makes me squeamish -- that constant looking for where you might be in a story. It's self-destructive, to the person doing the looking, and it's hurtful to the writer.  Of course I've included details from things I've seen or heard or experienced. How could I not? In fact, I like to think that that exactly what makes me a writer: I notice everything. I'll notice if you have freckles in your eyelids. If you have one green fingernail. If your voice cracks like you have indigestion, or if you have a slightly wandering eye. Everything. And I remember most things too. Conversations, smells, colors. It doesn't matter what I get wrong. If your bathroom was yellow and I remember it as pink, in my story, it's pink, because it's real to me.

People either love it, or they hate it. I don't know how many assholes in bars have said to me, You should write about me. I've had an interesting life. People hear you're a writer, they have suddenly have shit to say to you. Or not. The flip side is Don't you dare put that in a story. 

But I'm not putting anyone in a story. Only pieces. Shards. Tiny slivers of ghosts.

What I'm talking about is craft. The process. Creation. It's like pulling threads from a thousand different raveling blankets and making a rug.

In college, a professor told me that Raymond Carver and Tess Gallagher used to argue about who
would get to steal the conversation they'd heard at a party. And after all, it was lovely Oscar Wilde who said, Good writers borrow, great writers steal.

The story in question is one that I think of as here. In my own backyard. The location is never named, but as I've gotten used to this town, it shows up more in my work. Another story, Flood, takes place right on our street, in a house we considered buying, but really, they could be anywhere. In any upstate NY town, or in Washington State, near my mom. There's something desolate about the rural roads, about the trailers, about a cemetery underneath pines.

Am I stealing? I'm listening. I'm always listening, watching, tasting. And the only way you can stop me is to stay away from me. Maybe that's a decision for some, but I hope not. I don't think of myself as a threat, or even a thief. Only a writer.

P.S. THIS is what you get when you google image search "sexy writer." Right. On.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Where I Have Always Been Coming To

For Christmas in 1991, my mom picked up two books for me. They were both by A.S. Byatt: Possession, which had recently been released in paperback, and Still Life. I hadn't read A.S. Byatt. The books had beautiful covers that felt like satin. I still have them.

I struggled through Possession first. It was heavy with poetry, with historical letters, diary entries, words even, like frisson, that I just didn't know yet. I didn't get it until I read it a second time, a couple of years later.

I read Still Life the following summer, and again the summer of 1994, before beginning my honors thesis. In between, I read The Virgin in the Garden, in an old 70s hardcover that my friend Lena got for me, maybe at a flea market. I have that one too.

My copy of Still Life is covered in my own annotations. I wrote my first really serious paper on that book, my undergraduate honor's thesis. It was on Still Life as a piece of impressionist painting. I spent a long time delving into Impressionism as a movement, and then taking apart Byatt's language to show that what she was doing was similar to what the painters had done in the late 19th century. I used passages like this one:

Anthea lay as though dancing on the hot folded sand, the pale lively hair curved outward on the duck-egg blue towel, on which her lovely profile rested, the skin darker than the tossed gold, the marvelous bones picked out by clear cut shadows and glitter of sweat. Her bathing dress was peacock, rippled green and blue, like waves of an illuminated sea (Byatt, Still Life, from the chapter Seascape, p. 79).

But further, Byatt struggles with representation in the novel, with the representation of things, of being able to hold things up, to show, as it were, and she relates this particular struggle of writing to the work of painting, in the Prologue:

At first [Alexander] thought he could write a plain, exact verse with no figurative language, in which a yellow chair was the thing itself, a yellow chair, as a round gold apple was an apple or a sunflower a sunflower. . . . But it couldn't be done. Language was against him, for a start. Metaphor lay coiled in the name sunflower (Byatt, Still Life, 2).

I wrote again, on The Virgin in the Garden, on the iconography of Elizabeth I, and again, on Byatt's short story "Body Art," in which I discussed the pregnant body as the queerest body of all. Both of these infused with art, with heady language, with odd human relationships, sex, disconnection, but peace, too, and stability in the quotidian, the ordinary.

Me and Dame Antonia, 2005
This is my context. Before I knew it, these books shaped me in a way I couldn't imagine. Before I discovered Raymond Carver, before I read Flannery O'Connor, or Joyce, or Denis Johnson, or anyone else who helped me learn how to write a short story, taut, minimal, withholding like an iceberg. Before that, I had Byatt, who taught me, very simply, to love the sentence. And to love the characters she created: smart, mouthy, gingery Frederica, her soft, golden, doomed sister, Stephanie, poor troubled Marcus, heavy, brooding Daniel, elegant Alexander. I loved them. I still do.

On Friday, A.S. Byatt comes to Clinton to read at Hamilton College. I've been invited to have lunch with her, and some other professors from the department. I've met her before, in 2005, when I saw her read at Arizona State University, and was able to ask her a couple of questions, and have her sign some books.

I don't know what I'll say to her, or what I even want to ask. She led me to George Eliot for God's sake. I read almost all of Eliot (save Adam Bede. Yes, I even read Romola.) to understand Byatt. At one time, I thought of becoming a Byatt scholar, if that's a thing that even exists. Not for love so much, but for volume, for sheer volume of information, for layers and layers of meaning and evidence, buried in every text. She taught me to be a scholar. To love language, and she helped deepen my love of art.

I walked away from scholarship, from the Ph.D. But on Friday, I get to lunch with one of my favorite minds, as a writer, as a grown up. If it's an early 40th birthday present from the universe, I'll take it.

*My title is a quote from Possession, "This is where I have always been coming to. Since my time began. And when I go away from here, this will be the mid-point, to which everything ran, before, and from which everything will run. But now, my love, we are here, we are now, and those other times are running elsewhere."