Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Of Vitality and Vulnerability

This is such an odd way to return to this blog.  I don't really want to go into all the business about what has kept me away except to say that my last post marked the beginning of a gradual withdrawal into a void out of which I have only recently emerged.  (Cryptic, yes. But that's all you're gonna get -- for the time being, anyway.)

So what has brought me back?

Over the summer, my blogger friend Wendy died of a heart attack after the Flowers Sea Swim in Grand Cayman.  She was 50. Sixteen years and two days older than I.

Strangely, I only really began to learn more about Wendy after her death  It's just bits here and there that I could piece together from people's remembrances of her on her Facebook wall, but two things are clear. First, she loved swimming. Second, she was a consistently positive influence on everyone around her, no matter how close or casual the relationship. 

It's such a cliché to contemplate one's mortality when a friend dies, often inspiring some sort of beat-the-clock flurry of activity or a commitment to living a better life, whatever that might mean.  Something I have been contemplating for a while now has been what it means to live a vulnerable life.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

If You Like a Ukulele Lady

I don't know why I think this is a good idea, but I'm learning to play ukulele.  My Tagalog tutor had a cheap one lying around that she wasn't playing, and she let me have it so I could see if I liked it before spending dough on one of my own.  (A decent starter uke is about $50-80 bones; this one is probably in the $20 range.)

Actually, this was inspired by the poetry slam I went to the other night.  They busted out a uke for one of the pieces and I jotted down in my notebook, "get a ukulele" -- a note I rediscovered the next day in class when I was talking about deciding whether to lobby for a creative performance as my dissertation project (the uke would be put to use in the performance).  So I went home Friday and spent the rest of the night learning all I could about the ukulele and how difficult it would be to get started.  Turns out it's not too bad.  After an hour or so of tuning and tinkering around, I know four chords (though I can't quite change between them yet), and I'm getting the hang of strumming.  I can already see the cheapness of the one I have, though.  The tuning thingies (I could probably look this up, but I want to get this posted quickly) are made of plastic and don't stay in place when I tune.  That's definitely a problem.  Nevertheless, I think I'll see how I'm doing in another couple weeks before I decide if investing in an entry-level uke is wise.

But let me tell you, I've already got my eye on this little number:

Lanikai LU-21C Concert Ukulele
Part #: 302530
List Price: $119.99
Your Price: $79.00
Inventory Status: Available

And if I go through with this, it will take every fiber of my being not to get one of these (I think you know why):

Thursday, February 25, 2010

To Save 15 Bones

Through a series of mistakes and miscalculations, I ended up missing my bus and had to drive my car in to school this morning and park it on one of the university parking ramps.   Thursdays are my crap days anyway -- I usually arrive on campus around 8am and have back-to-back-to-back obligations until after 6pm.  And just so you know, it is nearly impossible to plan, pack, and lug around the amount of food a day of this length requires, since I don't stay in one place all day.

Today, however, would be even longer -- I caught a poetry slam that lasted until after 7. (It was AWESOME, by the way.  I'm attending a free writing workshop they're putting on tomorrow at the library.) I actually had a short break just before their performance, and I wanted to go home and get some dinner...except that it would cost me $15 duckets to get my car out of the ramp!  Screw that!   They stop monitoring the ramp at midnight -- then I can get the damn car out for free.

But to stay until midnight, I'd still need to go home to get the power pack for my laptop and workout clothes.  So I took the bus home anyway, gathered up all my stuff, and then caught the next bus back to campus.  Despite my ambitions to be productive, I am dead on my feet nonetheless.  I have no desire to exercise, so I'm counting the 30-minute walk to and from the bus stop as my workout.   Actually, being on foot in the cold night air was peacefully invigorating, if that's possible. Though it had "cold and lonely" written all over it, I really enjoyed waiting for the bus alone in the dark. 

The walk across campus to the student union was also pretty fantastic -- though I nearly froze my fingers off to get a photo of the capitol building that even approached being in focus.  Worth it, anyway.

But now, despite drinking down a large coffee, I can barely keep my eyes open except to look longingly at my car, trapped on the third level of the parking ramp for another hour and a half.

I wanna go home and go to bed!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Riot Proof (Or, Scrappy Is As Scrappy Doo)

This is a view from the steps of the Old Capitol building.  Just beyond the trees, you can see two brick buildings.  Actually, you can see the one brick building with all the windows, but the other -- the massive brick blob -- somehow manages to disappear behind the one tree in the foreground that doesn't have any leaves.  This is the building that houses my department and my office.  And it was designed to be riot proof.

That's right.

It was apparently built at the tail-end or right after that period in history when college students paid attention to the world around them, got pissed, and took potentially destructive action. With the exception of faculty offices, you can only see out if you stay near the doors.  Every door in the building is a fire door, so leaving my office to go to the restroom is a workout.  Similarly, the first floor is laid out in a such a pattern with oddly-angled turns such that one becomes disoriented in the building very easily.  Students can almost never find their instructors' offices -- or even the department office at times!  It took me the better part of a semester to match the specific portions of the inside to their outside-world counterparts, and correctly identify which of four unevenly placed exit doors connected them.

During my first year, I don't know how many times I ended up walking 3/4 of the way around the building because I could never be sure which was the shortest path between the part of the building where I was standing and where I wanted to end up.

A perfect physical representation of the problem I have with academia in general.

I took this picture the same day that two emails went out over the grad student listserv "encouraging" more attendance at department seminar.

More concerned about being considered a "great thinker" than they are with doing the kind of thinking (or ACTING, for that matter) that might actually do someone any good.

When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer
                                                          by Walt Whitman
When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

"I love you, Walt freakin' Whitman!"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mornings with Dinah (Or, Serenity WOW!)


The song Dinah was named after -- it captures her little personality so well!

I try to do yoga every morning, and these days it has turned into quiet time with Dinah. When I first started, toward the end of my time in New Mexico, I still had all three dogs.  Even though I wanted them to hang out during yoga time, that proved an impossibility.  I don't know if you've ever tried to lay on the floor when dogs are in the room, but they lose their shit.  "Oh my Gawd, she's on the floor!  Let's go put our snoots in her face!"  Of course, this never happened when I wanted to sleep on the floor with them -- they'd trot off to their respective beds.  But if I got on the floor with any sense of purpose (crunches, yoga), it was like feeding time at the koi pond.

Anyway, I can still hear Dinah's little paws on the yoga mat.  They made this hollow sound that the other two dogs were too heavy to make.  When I'm doing my morning yoga routine, my mind usually wanders off to New Mexico and Dinah's paws.  It's a good way to start the day.

As serene as that sounds, my mind usually ends up in the land of wiener dog races, and I can't help but laugh.  You know how dogs get feisty sometimes and then sprint on an invented loop in the house for what seems like no reason?  Well, when Dinah did it, she'd hunker her rear end down like a motorboat.

If you know what's good for you, you'll press play while you read the next bit.

One day I came home from work when she and Rocky were in mid-chase.  Dinah came flying out of the hallway with the crazy-eye and her tongue flying, with Rocky right on her tail.  As they crossed the living room, I thought they would turn around in front of the coffee table. BUT NO!  Dinah leaped onto the table, over the bottom cushions of the couch, and then  -- turning her body in mid-air -- banked off the back cushions and ran back from whence she came!  EGADS! And Rocky, being more potato-y than Dinah, followed suit only without the acrobatics -- his paws clobbered every. single. surface.

Of course, Boots could see that this was lots of fun and wanted to join in.  But she was even bigger and more lumbering than Rocky. All she could manage was to bounce her front paws a few times in the direction the other two just ran before they turned and were headed back toward her. This effectively turned her back half into a pivot, and she just hopped her front half back and forth barking her head off as the other two dogs whizzed by. 

Suddenly, the claw marks on the coffee table made sense, and the mystery of how stacks of student papers ended up strewn all over the living room was solved.  OH MY GAWD, those dogs were so damn funny together.  They didn't do this very often when I was home -- I certainly never saw the ninja couch turn -- but they obviously spent a lot of their time alone entertaining themselves this way.  I miss them all!

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Voice Like Buttah

“For singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer, beauty is discovered in the midst of the ordinary. Life is experienced in the spaces between darkness and light. Truth is found in the bond between music and word. On one level, the listener experiences these types of connections through Newcomer’s lyrics, which explore life with a progressive spiritual sensibility. In a world that encourages us to move faster and think bigger, Newcomer invites the listener to slow down and reflect on the small things that make life worthwhile. For her, ‘songwriting is not about being clever, flashy or fancy—it is about telling a compelling story in language and music with elegance and clarity.’ The result is a resonant soundtrack for a world that is both sacred and ordinary.”  

Of Porn and Pants (Or, "The More We Change...")

I have been cracking up all morning.  I've mentioned that I consult the I Ching every morning for some lesson to take with me through the day.  Today's hexagram is K'an: The Abysmal, and the lesson is that in times of trouble we should flow like water.  Accordingly, The I Ching for Writers advised me revise only lightly today as my writing might be headed for turbulent times.  You'd think I'd forego the blogging today, but NOPE, it is my nature to push on (hence the need for taoism).  Actually, today's lesson reminded me of another poem I wrote around the same time as Opus.  Even though today's hexagram (The Abysmal) is really two water trigrams, I think you can see how this poem reflects the spirit of today's lesson.  Oh, and that I was clearly a taoist before I even knew what that meant.

I wrote this in the spring of 1997.  I was hormonal -- that's my only explanation -- and an inconsolable, disagreeable mess.  The Cray and I were hiking in the Organ Mountains that preside over town.  Even in the midst of my tantrum, we decided to drop our pants and just stand around for a little bit.  Somehow, the feel of the open air on my undercarriage made me feel a little better.  Then I went home and wrote this. Take note of the third stanza. That's the one that had me in stitches.  I'll explain after.

Of Water and Wind 
Thought of the wind like water today:
a swirling flow
pooling in valleys,
funneling through canyons.
Not blowing to satisfy nominal expectations
like gravity or some other force,
but an ocean:
a constantly changing
ebb of imagination pushed aside
by rocks and other hard things.
It is undertow: not caught up in itself,
but taking in its path;
not disappointed by this side of the rock
or wondering about the other.

Inside: gentle color, 
and unseen lethal force,
the more obvious bearing jags and razors
still not caring one way or the other, but moving
aside and going where it can.

The earth fidgets in its restlessness:
at first a breathy quiver,
and then both explode
into a tsunami of tears and gasps
mixing two that should never have been assigned
separately in the first place
Until, in a spitting foam rage,
they punish and mold land to their liking
to remain so for as long as Hs and Os desire.

The oceans
of water and wind
can always go back to their gentle moves,
but the land must remain until the others decide
to blow off the dust of old carvings for a new path.

They continue to needle and thwart each other;
each change making for new shapes and flows
that are still worth looking at
and noticing
and listing
under beautiful things.

I think it's interesting that my efforts to recover my writer's voice has resulted in multiple returns to pieces I wrote the first time The Cray and I were together as undergrads in Las Cruces. Maybe I should take a moment to state for the record that I don't necessarily think my writing is spectacular, just that I did it regularly and that's what I'm trying to recover.  Cases in point:

"Breathy Quiver." This is my go-to porn star name.  No, not for myself. But in conversation, when I needed a fictional porn star name, that's the one I'd go with.  Okay, I don't know how to explain why I led such an existence that everyday conversation would require a go-to porn star name, but what are ya gonna do?  But clearly, even in a fit of rage and despair, I will still crack jokes to myself and/or reference porn.  Also, I'm almost 100% certain I didn't do this deliberately when I wrote it, but I'm amused by the vaguely pornographic imagery in that stanza too. Oy vey.

The other little nugget in there is the "punish and mold" line.  Sometime around 2000, I found myself on the losing end (the stupid end) of an argument with The Cray about, of all things, Monica Lewinsky.  Rather than simply ceding the point, I flew into yet another inexplicable rage. (Seriously, I don't know why he still talks to me.)  Let's just say that the incident ended with me standing on the futon in our basement room in Seattle and tearfully accusing him of seeking out younger women (he's 6-1/2 years older than me) so he could "shape and mold" them.  Even I couldn't keep a straight face through that one. And let me tell you, he still loves dropping that line on me when I'm acting a-fool.  

A final note before I run off to school: in creating the "porn" label for this post, I realize that means that on some level, I anticipate future posts in which I reference porn -- at least enough to warrant a whole label for it. Of the eight people whom I've notified about the existence of this blog, my parents aren't among them.  Jess, this means this is officially an F-bomb-friendly zone.  

Bombs away!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

81 Days of Tao: Verse 2

Verse 2:
Under heaven all can see beauty as
beauty only because there is ugliness.
All can know good as good only
because there is evil.
Therefore having and not having arise together.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short contrast each other:
High and low rest upon each other;
Voice and sound harmonize each other;
Front and back follow one another.
Therefore the sage goes about doing
nothing, teaching no-talking.
The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease,
Creating, yet not possessing.
Working, yet not taking credit.
Work is done, then forgotten.
Therefore it lasts forever.

Going Public

I wrestled with the decision to share my new blog with others for quite some time. On one hand, keeping it private gave me the freedom to write about anything I want -- warts and all.  On the other, there are some things I wouldn't mind a little help and support with.

So here it is. I have shared the link with very few people.  (Hi there. If you're reading this, it means you mean a lot to me.  I'm glad you stopped by.)

It's become a little overrun with training log stuff, but I hope to get back to the earlier impulse to revel in all things Iowa, maybe more about music (just went to a concert last night, expect a full report on that soon), and generally holding myself accountable for my 2010 lifestyle change.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

81 Days of Tao: Verse 1

With roughly 81 days left in the semester, I plan to ruminate on each of the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching with the hope that I will emerge in May a more balanced, peaceful soul.

Verse 1:
The Tao that can be told is not the
eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the
eternal name.

The nameless is the beginning of
heaven and Earth.
The named is the mother of the ten
thousand things.

Ever desireless, one can see the
Ever desiring, one sees the

These two spring from the same source
but differ in name; this appears as

Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.

I realize the contradiction (and impossibility) of attempting to interpret the tao in words when it defies such definition.  Rather than go stumbling into that futility, I will point to the moments that have held it for me.  It is something between an endorphin rush and that moment just before sleep.  It's looking out across the land, street, neighborhood, and seeing it for the first time after you've traversed it for years. It's the right turn onto Scott Blvd. from Muscatine when I could see the cornfields unfold in the distance and knew that Dinah was waiting for me to return home.  It's when the perfect song comes on the radio -- one you've never heard before, but the one you needed to hear. 

The song at the top of this post is just such a song. The lyric that touched me: "it must taste like peaches eaten by the road side."

On Superbowl Sunday, I stopped at Hy-Vee on my way home from the gym to pick up snack fixins for Laura's SB party.  As I was pulling into the parking lot, three songs in a row came on and I just could not stop listening.  The first one came to me and it was exactly what I needed to hear at that precise moment.  Then two more followed right behind it.  I sat in the car for 15 minutes, snow falling around me and temperature dropping, before I finally went inside to get snack fixins.  Such a wonderful moment.

I think this song captures the essence of this first verse.  The nature of the tao is that it defies definition.  It cannot be expressed, but it can be known.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"How Romantic!"

...said my office mate when I told her I took my time walking back to our office after lecture so I could take some pictures down by the river.

Bridge over the Iowa River

Danforth Chapel

Old State Capitol

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Iowa Winter

I think the best evidence that I can be happy anywhere is the fact that I love Iowa in the winter.  So much, in fact, that I started wishing for snow at the end of September this season.  The first winter I was here was apparently the worst in about a decade -- bitterly cold, lots of ice.  I was fine.  My definition of "cold" certainly got revised, but I adapted well.  I learned how to strategize my snow removal -- mostly to suck it up and clear some away mid-storm so it would be a little easier the next time I'd have leave the house on a schedule.  I also discovered the peculiar comfort that the sound of snow plows in the wee hours of night/morning brings.

Right now a snow storm is dumping 5-9 inches of snow on us.  I was leaving downtown this afternoon when it started coming down in big, fluffy flakes -- my favorite!  The next thing I knew, I found myself down by the train station, so I fired off a few pictures.

I thought the brick apartment building across the street from the station was especially pretty in the snow.  I can only imagine those are also some fantastic sittin' porches in the summer, too.  I'll miss those evenings sipping on tall, sweaty glasses of iced tea and air thick with humidity and fireflies.  *sigh*

I love Iowa.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Night I Leave Iowa

As soon as I knew I would be coming to Iowa for grad school, I immediately went in search of any and all songs that mention Iowa in them. Turns out there are quite a few -- an entire CD's worth. Some are obviously better than others, this one by Abi Tapia being one of the better ones.

I decided when I got here that I wanted to have the kind of experience here that would make me cry when it came time to leave. After three years, I've been doing more crying here than ever before (and not in a good way), and I'm itching to move away ASAP in May...it makes me sad. I don't want to go out like that. Maybe it would be better if I stay through the summer and do all the Iowa things I want to do before I go -- like RAGBRAI, for instance. Or an adventure race with Laura. Then again, I should really try to get a job. Wouldn't it be great to be a park ranger in Alaska or Yosemite? What an adventure either of those would be! Even better to have a tenure-track job waiting for me in the fall? Well, I have time to decide. And no job offers yet, so it's not productive to imagine an entire path with any of that on it or worry about decisions that haven't even been presented as choices yet.

But what a wild blue yonder ahead of me, no?

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Te of Writing

One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog is to un-block my writer's block. This is another one of those things that I attribute to my dissatisfaction with the social aspects of this program and the entrenched structural inequities and epistemic violence that runs rampant in the academy and that it is loathe to acknowledge in any meaningful way. (I'll go into this more directly in another post.)  In addition to unclogging my writing pipes, I also know that I want to develop my writing so that it is performative and embodied.  That is, I need my writing itself to do something (this is political, related to my research, and the "beef" I have with the academy that I alluded to above), and I need the body to be present in my writing.  This last part might be more difficult, but these two goals are what I am focusing on this semester.

To this end (returning to the writer's life generally, embodied writing more specifically), I have done two things:
1. Added links to journaling/writing prompts. I hope to spend 30 minutes each morning doing some kind of freewriting.
2. Enrolled in a course on ethnographic writing that is something of a workshop, complete with guided writing activities. Today was our first meeting. It went well.

She asked us to first brainstorm on different sheets of paper the forms of writing we do, the kinds of texts we produce, and the audiences for whom we write.  After the brainstorm, we paired off and discussed out writing processes, issues, concerns. Then we returned to the room for a bit of freewriting.  Here is mine:

Writing is an embodied experience for me. Though I often think too fast for my handwriting to keep up, I love the way writing by hand feels in comparison to typing. For our brainstorming activity, I switched writing implements three times: from gel pen to pencil to thin pen before I finally settled on the pencil after all. It felt the best on the single sheet that separated it from the conference table. The gel pen always feels good, but today it scratched across the surface in a way that didn't allow the gel to flow freely. The black ink didn't trail behind in the thick lines the way I knew it could on the softness of multiple sheets. And the thin pen. Oy. No matter how many sheets of paper separate its ball point from the hard backing surface, its ultra fine point always seems to scrape across the paper violently – like one false stroke will tear the page. And I never use it to write in cursive. I always use it to print. My printing is something closer to angular than flowing. It's my Deliberate font. But anyway, I ended up back with the pencil. After years and years of strict loyalty to pens all through college, PhD school has returned the pencil to my hand. Even though it's erasable, pencil makes me feel like I'm really writing. Maybe because I can hear it. It's like I can hear and feel the lead being transferred to the paper in ways you just can't with ink. Ink just stains. It seeps. I guess I can hear the thin pen too, but that's the sound of the roller scraping against its housing and the metal against the page, not the actual transfer of ink. Yeah, those gel pens feel smooth and look great, but they don't sound like pencil. Even when you have filled both sides of a piece of paper, the penciled paper sounds (read that as an active verb) – it makes sound, the way it has been warped by the writing. Gel pages are just soaked. And silent.

I admit, I couldn't help but channel an old poem I wrote in the mid 1990s (1995, I think).  It's not too difficult to see how these two pieces are connected:


I like the sound of crispy pages --
ones that have been  
written on
glued on
spilled on.

I saunter-jaunt
through states of mind
with the turn of each 
wobbly-edged page.

Until I find a hungry one.

My blood warps the pulp
with every
letter    comma    word:
paper lapping lovingly 
from my veins.

Watching capillarity
                      caterpillar over fibers,
I forget how to spel

I think this is an interesting first step down the path back to my writing self.  I'm tapping what it is about writing that nourishes me. It's not necessarily the turn of a phrase or brilliantly capturing/expressing an idea, but the very act of writing itself -- putting pen to paper, self on the page. This is probably why Gloria Anzaldua's writing resonates in me and gives me the courage to even attempt to "write the thing that scares me" as my advisor so wants me to do.  (Don't worry, I'll take up Gloria and Aimee and all the rest in future posts.)  For now, I'm pleased to have put words on the page (screen).  It's such a comfort to know that my writer's voice hasn't been silenced forever.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

On the Subject of Intent

It is very tempting to try to say what I plan to do with this blog. I will just say that I intend to take about 30 minutes every morning to write in this space, if only to write something every day.

But since hardly anything ever turns out exactly the way we envision, I will take a taoist approach to this as well. Taoism, like cultural studies and performance studies, resists definition and canonization. I suspect that is why I am drawn to all three. In my life I've found that some of the best things have been the result of having no plan. And so it will be with this blog.

And now my 30 minutes is up, so I will get on with the rest of my day. I have to set a time limit because I have a tendency to burn a lot of time pondering pondering pondering. Perhaps a time limit will make me more productive on this blog and in my day.  I sure don't have a lot of writing to show for these 30 minutes, but that stands as a testament to how clogged up my writing arteries are.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Morning Tao

The last time I practiced with any purpose was in my last year or so living in New Mexico. Those were some wonderful times -- I'd read a verse from the Tao Te Ching and then ponder it for a 3-5 mile run. Actually, they weren't totally wonderful times. I found myself banging my head against walls at home and at work, and taoist meditation was the only way I could find peace through it all. Running through the desert provided some of my favorite memories of my last year or so in the southwest.

And so it is again.

I've managed to dig myself into yet another rut, trying to run out the clock until I can move away. Worse, I've gotten away from the physical activity that is so important to me and have reverted to my emotional-baking soda ways. Just like in the fridge, I soak up all the nasty flavors and aromas of what's going on around me -- which is just a schmancy way of saying that I have this terrible tendency to get wrapped up in whatever junk plagues my social world. So back to the taoism I go.

Tao Te Ching, a text upon which taoism is based, translates roughly to "The Book of the Virtuous Way." More on that a little later, but by way of introducing my relationship with taoism, I will just say that left to my own devices, I tend toward the exact opposite of the Tao. Perhaps at the end of (or more accurately, through) writing on this blog, I will find my virtuous way.

So the morning routine I'd like to establish is this:
  1. wake up early
  2. AM yoga
  3. put the kettle on
  4. sip a cup of green tea while I consult the I Ching and meditate on the day's lesson 
  5. go about the rest of my day
I hope that by establishing this as a ritual I can prepare my bodymindspirit to meet the day in balance.

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    Finding My Way

    I don't know what it was about 2009. I didn't get anything written. I didn't train for anything. I did manage to travel and lay groundwork for some things that are important to me, but in terms of material gains for my effort, I have very little to show for 2009.

    I ended the year angry at the world; I decided to abandon academia altogether for some kind of career change. It would come with a $10K/year pay cut (though still double what I make now), and that seemed ill-advised. Still, it was important to me just to free myself mentally from the dysfunctional existence of what it means to be a "serious scholar." (I started several blogs with writings on why life in the academy isn't for me, but they were so angry they seemed a terrible way to begin.) Suffice to say, I have renewed my commitment to the community college mission and the contribution I think I can make there. I'll leave it at that for now as I'm sure the shape of this will only become apparent as I write.