Sunday, February 10, 2013

That Full Feeling

It was Thanksgiving that my thoughts last made it here. I have had no earthly idea how to update my “goings on” through this means these past few months…and haven’t necessarily had any problem with that. They have seemed too big to be shared in this way. But, as I sat on my porch today and watched a lizard flex its crazy, red gobbler (technical term, obviously) & do her/his lizard thing, I thought differently for the first time.  

There are everyday experiences where I have been floored by the love I am shown—where tears have been brought to my eyes by the words and actions of others, where I have wanted to jump and shake and run because of how others step into my life to show their love for me. But that becomes exponentially present on those not-so-everyday days. Those days where the unexpected happens and the extra doses of love need to fill the empty and confusing spaces—and there are friends, family, even people whom you don’t know, who so strongly desire to step in and do just that for you. I think this post is me wanting to update all of you about the presence of that in my life recently. I am wanting to let these thankful (I wish there was a stronger word) thoughts that have been swimming in my head and in my heart to gather together and have a way to pour out for other eyes and ears and heads and hearts. Because they have been keeping me going…and sometimes it does something unpredicted and wonderful in our lives when we hear about how others have been touched. Maybe this compilation of letters and words and paragraphs can be that for someone outside of myself.

I knew I’d be experiencing new things in this time of my life. I knew it would be unknown and scary and exciting and wonderful and crazy all at the same time. I really did. I never considered though, that the first handful of months into my US-2 experience would forever be marked by the passing of a parent. There is no need to elaborate on the known fact that that is hard and that that is painful. That isn’t what this is for. The transparency about what has occurred, does however, speak important insight into the remainder of these thoughts. I’ve mentioned here how I’ve been shaken by the love I’ve been shown, both by those who know me best and by those who have never even met me. I have been supported and loved in ways that I cannot use the term thankful for, simply because it does not encompass my true meaning of it. I am consistently encouraged by how powerful and overwhelming love can be and how it can move each person differently when they see a space where more is needed.

This is not to say that loneliness has not been felt. Boy, has it. There are times when I feel as though I have a small understanding of what contributes to that. And the reason is that situations like these are uncomfortable for all people. It creates a fear for those around you of not knowing how to ask about it, of not wanting to bring it up for fear of upsetting those directly affected by it, or of waiting for that affected individual to come to you...but I have found that those are the worst for me. I believe that being there for someone does not mean knowing what to say, but rather making yourself available to them in the time where all involved don't know what to do or say. But the simple acts of that care, regardless of all else...that's the good stuff. These moments I'm attempting to share about & highlight here rock that sticky and stubborn foundation of those lonely feelings. It's these moments I'm celebrating here that remind me when it's most needed that while I may be the one who is actually going through this time, that there exists that genuine, genuine handful of individuals who act to remind me that I am anything but alone.

I had a friend write to me in December and tell me that there are times when we need to let those who love us be strong for us. And while I have recently felt so stretched in the “strength” I feel I am capable of mustering, there has been a long line of individuals who have stepped up to give strength that really could not come from me most of the time. I have had the hardest, hardest time trying to express my thanks for the ways this has been manifested. This feeling comes often for me & I try to describe it sometimes as when my lungs feel so full that it’s as if words just want to come pouring out, but there are too many that are fighting to go first, so they just create a swirly, big, full feeling. But, really, none of those words can even come out anyways…they’re not enough. And thank goodness there are gestures and words and actions and thoughtful responses that are too dang big to allow a response. Thank goodness those full lung feelings exist and we can sometimes feel helpless in our gratefulness, that we are shown so much love and understanding that all we can do is sit in the big, swirling wonder that has been poured out on us and try—just try to understand that it’s real. Try to understand that others’ love for us exists in such big ways that even when you can’t see beyond your own pain, sadness, and confusion, that they remind you otherwise. They remind you, not only that more exists, but that you are more. They help you find it and they celebrate with you along the way when you rediscover those genuine smiles, those belly laughs, and those happy tears, and are not fazed amongst the other honest and real times of the opposite.

One of the cards I’ve received during this time was amongst a pile from, wonderfully enough, children I don't know who wanted to show me their care & thoughts. It’s when a little girl writes on a popsicle stick to “feel so much better in life” and “Sarah’s missing a piece of her heart so we gave her ours”, that you have to try to understand what I mean by all of this.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A New Kind of Thanks, a New Kind of Thanksgiving

I spent Thanksgiving here in Miami this year & was able to have an entirely new kind of celebration.

Wednesday night I was able to attend an Interfaith Thanksgiving service at my church, where a number of congregations, from different religious traditions, came together for worship. I was so happy to be a part of it and to have the chance to be thankful for congregations who are seeking to come together in respect and celebration of one another during this time of recognizing thanks. This service was like nothing I had ever been a part of. We had a Native American call to worship, an opening prayer by a local Rabbi, a reading from the Quran on gratitude, as well as songs and messages from various religions and denominations. I loved it. Here is the benediction we shared:

"May an abundance of gratitude burst forth as you reflect upon what you have received. May thanksgiving overflow in your heart, and often be proclaimed in your prayer. May you gather around the table of your heart the ardent faithfulness, kindness, and goodness of each person who is true to you. May the harvest of good actions bring forth plentiful fruit each day. May you discover a cache of hidden wisdom among the people and events that have brought you distress and sorrow. May your basket of blessings surprise you with its rich diversity of gifts and its opportunities for growth. May all that nourishes and resources your life bring you daily satisfaction and renewed hope. May you slow your hurried pace of life so you can be aware of, and enjoy, what you too easily take for granted. May you always be open, willing, and ready to share your blessings with others. May you never forget the Generous One who loves you lavishly."

An organization here in Miami, called South Florida Urban Ministries, holds a Thanksgiving outreach each year that is able to serve over 6,000 families. (Woah, right?) There are a number of locations spread out across the area where people from all over South Florida come to help prepare & deliver meals to families who may not otherwise be able to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner together. I was in awe of how many people came out to help on Thursday morning (and I only saw one of the sites!). There were so many people, that I ended up coloring cards alongside an elderly couple for them to deliver to the families on their list. I think it’s a pretty great problem to have when there are too many people wanting to serve. It was inspiring to me to see that so many wanted to give their time on this day to recognize their ability to serve, and to place their focus on creating opportunities for others to be thankful as well.

Thursday afternoon & evening were spent preparing and partaking in our campus ministry’s international student Thanksgiving celebration. FIU is an international university, so we have a number of students associated with us that were away from family during this break & some who also were able to celebrate Thanksgiving for the first time. We set up the backyard of one of our Wesley houses with a long line of tables and chairs, hung lights all around the house & tree, and finished preparing all of the food. I had about forty people to celebrate Thanksgiving with this year. Gosh. Friends from Nepal, Saudi Arabia, China, Argentina, India, Japan, Brazil, Ecuador, Libya, Venezuela, Ghana, South Korea, Nigeria, and more. Along with our traditional Thanksgiving foods, we also were able to share Arabic coffee & dates, Indian samosas along with mint rice with curry sauce, and Argentinean empanadas that were shared by our friends. We ate, talked, gathered around the fire in the backyard, and even did some dancing! (Introduced the wobble & Cleveland Shuffle to the group, and it was quite an enjoyable time. I know I loved it!)

Never have I had a Thanksgiving like this one. I continue to be so thankful for the new experiences and new friends that Miami is able to provide. I missed being with my family on this day, but am so glad to have been able to spend the holiday having new experiences, meeting new friends, sharing in new cultures & traditions, and embracing one another as family when ours were far away. I am genuinely thankful for this Thanksgiving and all that came along with it. I hope you were as well!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Passionate People

 Passionate people are something to be celebrated. We should celebrate ourselves, celebrate one another, and celebrate the fact that somewhere, in some way, we all care. I’ve been realizing this a great deal lately in various ways, but I’d like to share a bit more about a more specific instance. The Wesley Foundation at FIU has now put on two incredibly powerful weeks, one last spring and one this October, to bring about awareness of human trafficking (sex trafficking, specifically) to the students on our campus.

I had the privilege this year of being a part of the Freedom Campaign—seeing it come to be through planning, preparation, and through the actual week itself and all that it entailed. It was a week of creativity, newfound realizations, indignant responses to such a harsh reality, and hopeful pursuits of wanting change. This week entailed so much. We had artwork put up around campus to both draw in attention, as well as inform about the reality of human trafficking. We had speakers come in to talk about what trafficking looked like specifically in Miami, considering it is in the top 3 cities in the United States where sex trafficking occurs.  In addition, these women talked extensively on the psychological manipulation associated with trafficking. There was a panel discussion where various individuals (from a representative from the Department of Homeland Security to workers from organizations that work with recovery for survivors) from the Miami community came to share their knowledge and experience about their personal relation to trafficking. There was a day when a survivor came in to share about her personal story of being trafficked in Miami and what she is now doing with her life in response to that. There was a documentary, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, screened to give a more comprehensive understanding of the issue of trafficking itself and what it looks like around the world. There was also an outreach event in which the students were able to gather for a training on what trafficking may look like in relation to prostitution. We were able to go out to various hotels and motels in the area and educate the establishments on what to look for and on how to respond.

The week was chalk full of opportunity for learning and for providing an opportunity for the desire for change to grow. Regan, a woman I work with at FIU-MDC Wesley and the one who had the vision for this week last spring, and I just got back from Imagine What’s Next in St. Louis, which is a conference for young adults involved in collegiate ministries. We were asked to come and speak about the Freedom Campaign and share with all present how we both came to be passionate about this issue and the lives behind it, how the week came to be, as well as the influence that it produced on our campus. It was incredible to be able to share about such a powerful week & to seek to recognize that all of us have our own passions, opportunities, and spheres of influence. We were able to share about our particular experience with the intended purpose of inviting others to call to the forefront their own passions, and to evaluate how those excitements could and should be encouraged. We were able to get excited about the fact that caring about something matters, that recognizing that that care exists matters, and that figuring out what to do with that care matters. Passionate people are something to be celebrated. Something that I tell myself so very often is that simply trying is worth so much. I hope that we can all continue to allow ourselves room to care with intensity and to allow ourselves room to figure out what that can encourage us to try.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Realizing Difference in New Ways

 Something I’m not sure I’ve elaborated upon about my time in Miami has been the excitement I have towards the culture and the people here. We need to first sit and recognize that Miami in & of itself is a diverse place. We then need to recall that my placement is with a ministry at an international university where a significant number of students are here from other countries. Lastly we need to remember that my housemates & I are living within the area of Little Havana in Miami, a historically Cuban area and an area with the largest Hispanic population in Miami.

Never in my life have I been able to have so many new friends from all over the world. From my roommates, to the staff I work with, to the students that I meet, to the people I interact with at the store, I am surrounded by difference and uniqueness of background, experience, and understanding in a new way. It’s wonderful, people! Wonderful! Sometimes I feel like an overexcited animal or something when I am talking with some of these people…just calm it down, Sarah. Act cool. But really, it is just a refreshing thing to build relationships in a way that I have never before experienced and be able to learn in a such a new way.

I took a class last semester at App called Race & Minority Relations. We talked a lot about privilege and what that looks like, especially the seemingly unnoticeable instances of privilege. I remember coming to the realization one day that I have never had to wake up and consciously be aware of my race. I have never walked around thinking, “I’m white. I’m white, I’m white, I’m white.” And that in and of itself is privilege. When you are in a place where you have the ability to go around without that subconscious thought constantly reminding you of your difference, that’s huge.

There is a grocery store down the street from us called El Presidente, and I walk to it every now and again to get groceries. If you’ll remember that I live in Little Havana amongst a primarily Hispanic population, you can also take a gander that this grocery store also falls into this. Now, even though I am trying to brush up on my Spanish skills, I have sadly realized that I am unable to brush up on my “I am not going to stick out” skills quite as easily. I go into El Presidente and literally feel eyes on me. I am unable to communicate as effectively as I desire, I am painfully aware sometimes of wishing I wasn’t white, and I feel an overwhelming feeling of self consciousness. I’ve had a startling realization that I have never, never had to feel this way before (minus my mzungu days in Kenya). And that is an example of privilege.

I will never try to compare a feeling of slight self-consciousness at a silly grocery store to the feelings of prejudice, judgment, and discrimination that so many have faced and face because of something as inherent as race. Never. Because I will never be able to do more than attempt to learn about being a minority in that way. I do write about this realization, though, because it really is the first time that I’ve been aware of my “whiteness” and even wished that I could tone down the amount I stick out because of something such as my race. It has been a strange and important recognition for me that I am not only thankful for, but strongly hope I can continue experiencing and learning from.

I think it’s important to take a step back and recognize our privilege—recognize the things that we do not need to think of each and every day. “I just woke up from a bed.” “If my family is hungry I can hop in my car and purchase food without the blink of an eye.” “I am going to college right now.” “I have a skewed power that others do not because of my gender or my race.” Gosh, how easy to forget how big those are. I never want to become numb to those things. I am honestly scared of how easy it is to dwell in power and privilege and simply forget that anything else exists.

I think I’ll end this puppy with a quote from a Rob Bell book that I came across about a month ago that I’ve been pretty fond of lately. It said, “Central to the way of Jesus is serving, which is the loving use of whatever power we possess for the good of another.” I am repeatedly hopeful in the realization that we are all able to both serve and be served despite the sometimes unchosen privilege (or lack thereof) we posses. I am hopeful in the words of the quote because I am reminded that there are some forms of power I hold, some forms of power others hold, and we are able to serve one another, this world, and the people in it regardless.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

South Beach Teachings

My roommates and I went to see a friend’s band play in a hotel lobby down on South Beach this weekend. I’ve never quite been anywhere like South Beach. It brought on an onslaught of thoughts and feelings for me. As I sat outside with my housemates, waiting for another friend who had the car to take us home, I witnessed a handful of moments that simultaneously turned my stomach and put me into a very specific “Sarah mode”.

Last night, in such a new way, I was witnessing women being approached and exploited because of physical and sexual intentions, with men feeling confident in their position to do so, and with the women in a mindset to accept it. It was a very confusing place for me to be. The emotions that I can associate with last night are of simply of utmost concern and sadness. Last night I was reminded in a new and scary way of something that instantly makes my heart race, and one in which I believe I will be living the rest of my life trying to counter. What a sick and infuriating view of masculinity and femininity we hold onto in our society. What a manipulative power struggle and perception of worth that exists.

It becomes alarming and honestly terrifying when we start to deconstruct and manipulate an understanding of one another into what is “right”, “normal”, “expected”, or “natural”. When a decision is made that women need to be this and men need to be that. That women are frail, needing to be led, are na├»ve or lack wisdom and ability, are approached first and foremost for their physical nature, that they can be seen as lesser, as well as greater in varying circumstances. That men must be defined by strength and power, that they are less loving and compassionate, that they are seen as domineering, that they must lead, that they also can be seen as lesser, as well as greater in varying circumstances. That there can be no overlap, interconnections, or spilling over into allowing people to be people…into allow them the opportunity to live out and bless the world with who they are and what they have to offer, without being limited to how they may have been gendered.

All of these limiting, and many times incorrect, understandings are hurtful and restricting. These understandings of power and worth that exist between men and women have serious, dangerous, harmful flaws. Men and women are not the same…because people are not the same. It isn’t about your gender. It isn’t about your sex. It isn’t about the genitals you were born with. Each person on this earth is capable of buckets more than what fits into what it “acceptable” and “understood” by gendered norms. Each person comes to be themselves in so many ways…by who they are, which of course includes their gender, but who they are and who they are capable of being is not confined to an understanding of gender.

Men and women. People. Individuals who are equally capable of having a capacity for wisdom, compassion, insight, kindness, strength, humor, empathy, power, love, initiative. Individuals who all carry a story. Individuals who are all seeking love and goodness in some way. Individuals who love and are loved.

Last night I sat, dumbstruck and hurting, as I watched the interactions between the women servicing themselves on the street and the men who were seeking to be serviced. What is the perception these people have for themselves? What is their perception of one another? I saw a man screaming at a woman as he was trying to drag her down the street, threats spilling all over, false understandings of power being used to scare and dominate as well as oppress and belittle. As they were walking by, I lost it. This human being speaking to another human being as though they were nothing…as though they were so deserving of the way they were being treated. Without even thinking I began to stand up and go towards them, wanting with all that I was to stop what I was seeing. It was panic mode. It was an automatic response. It was me not being able to stomach this treatment, the sick and terrifying understandings that people can hold for one another.

I don’t know what I was planning to do, really. It didn’t matter to me. It just couldn’t be left there as if it were nothing…or worse, as if it were normal or acceptable. As I shot up out of my seat to walk towards them, my roommate grabbed my arm and didn’t let go. She firmly said over and over to sit down, that it was dangerous, that the police were walking over at that moment to deal with it, that I couldn’t do anything about it. What a terrifying realization. I couldn’t do anything about it? But what can be done about it? Because it is not okay. Because it cannot be seen as normal. This isn’t something that can be defined or understood simply. It is big. It is the perception we hold for one another. It is the way we assume what we are each capable of, unfortunately and infuriatingly, simply on the recognition of something such as gender, which easily becomes definitive.

This issue, along with so many others, is big. They’re big & they cause us to feel as though we can’t do a darn thing. But we can try, can we not? We can make changes in our lives that affect our thoughts, interactions, perceptions of those around us. We can recognize the inherent worth that we all hold, especially, for the love of goodness, regardless of our gender. To believe in that for ourselves and for others. We can be responsible for ourselves to vow to try to change these things that exploit, demean, oppress, or lessen people, in whatever way we are able. There is worth in that. I am going to keep trying…and I want us to try together. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Good Feelings

Some good things to share in bullet form:

-The other week I mentioned that I was going to venture out, brush up on some Spanish, and go meet some of my neighbors. It went so well! People are so patient and understanding with my Spanish and it was such a great feeling to be so accepted when I was putting myself out there, unsure of how it was going to go. We have a lovely older couple that lives behind out house named Teresita and Juan who invited me into their house and we chatted for a good while. Teresita speaks no English & Juan speaks only a little, so he was able to help me with some words when I wasn't sure if I was remembering them correctly. I just loved it. I really did. I am so eager to continue building my friendships with them and hopefully being able to get better through practice at my Spanish so we can speak more deeply.

-Small groups at Wesley are starting this week & I am so thrilled for this to begin. Part of what I am so excited about with my position through US-2 & through Wesley is the act of simply helping to bring about a greater awareness of social justice issues & striving to learn alongside the students as we become more knowledgeable about them together. This excitement also stems from the response we got last year at the Appalachian Wesley Foundation from the start of 'Service Through Awareness'. There was a wonderful support of that effort, recognizing that these things are important to discuss and that it is important to try and figure out our place in how to respond, particularly as people seeking out God. I will never forget having a freshman coming up to me last year and saying, "What you are trying to do through 'Service Through Awareness' is one of the main reasons I want to be a part of this campus ministry. So many churches and people seeking after God don't see the importance of caring about injustice and how it affects people's lives, but I just don't understand how that is possible. We need to care about these things." Gah. It just keeps me excited & continues to remind me that it is good.

-My car is back, fixed, & taking some time to calm down and realize we're not going to let it be stolen any time soon. I mean, it is flattered really that it is among the other Honda Accords that are number 1 on the 'car stealing Christmas wish list' here in Miami. However, it likes just being safe in the garage for now. The celebrity life really just is too much for this car. It has also been given a new gift...Chad sent a club in the mail last week. Lookin' right, Honda. Lookin' right. 

-FIU's Wesley puts on this incredibly brilliant event called The Exchange. It happens every other week and international students (and anyone else, really!) are invited to come enjoy lunch and get to know other students. IT IS AWESOME! I went on Thursday and had the chance to sit and talk with a number students from all over the world. I can't wait for more of these. I just wanted to sit and listen for hours!

-That same day I was walking on campus & had someone call out my name to stop me and say hi. I was called by name! On a campus of 60,000 students! By someone I had only met once! You have to try and sympathize with this excitement because this has not happened yet in Miami. FIU is huge. I am still new and feel like my head is in the clouds sometimes. And I got to say hello to a new friend :) This was a concrete feeling of belonging...a reminder that I am slowly making my place here and building relationships with others outside of my co-workers, housemates, and Wesley leadership. What a fantastic feeling it was.

-I excitedly posted on Facebook about Critical Mass, but goodness, what fun! I went along with some friends, borrowed a bike, and proceeded to experience downtown Miami alongside about twenty five hundred other people biking through the streets. We had families and children coming outside to wave and holler hellos at us, cars honking and smiling, etc. I just pedaled along, smiling and taking it all in. What a fun event. I can't wait to be a part of more. If you live in a big city, you need to check it out! If you don't, (or even if you do!) come to Miami and we'll go together :)

-The beach happened this weekend! Wee! First experience at the beach in Miami was quite pleasant. It is so cool that I live so close. I can't wait to continue going back & hopefully trying some new things...snorkeling? Water sports? Surfing? That thing where you stand up on a board and paddle? PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING?! I just want to try it all.

-Two of my great friends, Garrett & Caitlin, are getting married this weekend & I am just jumping around with excitement to celebrate with them as we all come together to celebrate this beautiful marriage that is about to begin. I am thrown on the ground sometimes just thinking about what great friendships are present in my life--about what incredibly passionate, caring, beautiful people I can call friends, who are constantly showing me love and support and care. I am just so excited for this. We get to celebrate two of our wonderful friends and the beautiful, good, inspirational lives I know they are going to live together!

It is just good stuff. I just love good stuff.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What a welcome!

Hurricanes, attempts to steal cars, and more support than I feel I deserve. Let’s recap, shall we?

-Hurricane Isaac:
You see, I have no prior experience with any sort of, how you say, hurricane, tropical storm, or anything in that region of natural disasters. You also need to understand that my roommates & I have been joking about the fact that we are cut off from the outside world currently. We do not have any TV channels, we have to travel to nearby locations and steal their Internet, and our only time listening to the radio is in our cars on the way to campus (more about said car later in the post). This hurricane thing is coming out of nowhere, I’m telling you! People sending out warning messages, schools getting cancelled, hurricane safety and preparation craziness popping up. This is the real deal, people. Our hurricane shutters are in position & ready to roll! We’ll see how this whole thing goes down…

Right as I was leaving for the drive to Miami, I was saying farewell to my wonderful friend Ryan & he made up a great song/rap for me. At one point, he starts spelling out my name & when he gets to R he says “R is for the rain…because she brings the rain”. How right he is. The rain is a-comin’!

-Poor, poor car:
Just your normal Saturday morning—you wake up to a cancelled beach day due to your good friend Isaac (see above), and after getting dressed and brushing your teeth you stroll on out to the street to hop in your car and drive to get some Internet & do some work. Harmless. Oh, but what’s that? Registration and car papers strewn about? Arm rest console items thrown haphazardly into the back seat? All potential hiding places for valuables left open and empty? Woah. I thankfully realize that nothing of worth was in my car & that nothing was taken. I mean, what’s someone to do with written out directions from Boone to Miami, an ice scraper (there’s not even a hope for snow here, y’all…still coming to terms with that one), and a small figurine of a sea lion? Not a whole lot. But then you look over & realize that your ignition is torn to shreds and sitting in pieces on the floorboards. Your car can’t start. And you begin to realize that it wasn’t just a break in, but an unsuccessful attempt to steal the car itself. The rest of the day becomes this blur of phone call after phone call to the police, insurance agency, family, boss, repeat, repeat, repeat.

A great deal of shock and fear came out of yesterday to be honest. It’s an overwhelming day for your mind when it does not stop racing for hours on end. However, the car has been towed to my boss’ house to take a break from life’s excitement until Monday when hopefully I can figure out where it needs to go to be able to work again. Things are figuring themselves out slowly but surely.

-Shout outs:
My mother is incredible. I spoke with her more times in one day than lizards I see scamper when I open the front door. Now that’s a lot! I am so thankful for her & the wonderful, strong, supportive, loving woman that she is. I have roommates that make up songs to sing and dances to dance, who give me hugs and support and care. I have the deepest caring friends who will sit on the phone with me for hours and listen to the craziness that has been this transition. I even have a boss who will drive out to my house while suffering from laryngitis, unable to speak, to help me attempt to unsuccessfully push my car around the corner into our janky old garage. Who are these people? Why are they so great to me? All I know is that I feel so loved, supported, and encouraged. And what more can you hope for in such a crazy transition…plus some unexpected dashes of additional crazy along the way?

Excuse my language…or don’t…but the people aren’t kidding when they say that shit happens. Because wow-ee, does it! But thank good golly goodness gracious that there is so much more that surrounds us. It really is there, even if sometimes it is hiding under all that other stuff.

Waddup, Miami. Keep the excitement coming. Let’s do this thing.