Thursday, September 26, 2019

AGAIN, BUT BETTER, External Processors and Commonplace Books

                    person writing on a book

Today I'm going to use Christine Riccio's debut novel, Again, But Better, which I finished the other day, as a jumping-off point to a discussion of how we process the books we read and apply that found meaning to our lives.

Again, But Better, Barnes and Noble's YA Book Club Book of the Month for August, is a contemporary romantic comedy about studying abroad and traveling, coming of age, taking chances on relationships and life and experiences, and setting your own standards for success. It delves into difficult familial relationships in the context of near-independence, the tension between dreams and practicality, and a complicated crush. Oh, and Christine threw in a splash of magic for good measure, which Made the story for me.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads, and Highly Recommend it, especially to late highschool and college-aged readers.

Shane Primaveri, the leading lady in Again, But Better, approaches life-processing in much the same way I do. There are two kinds of people: external processors and internal processors. Internal processors process their lives and experiences inside their own heads, but external processors, like me, need to take experiences out of our heads in order to process them correctly. 


Taking experiences outside our heads can happen in conversations, in journals, in blog posts, and even in social media posts and Youtube videos. 

Speaking of Youtube videos. Christine Riccio, the 29-year-old author of Again, but Better was a wildly popular Booktuber before she ever set about to write a book of her own. She started her channel in 2010, and filled it with book reviews, bookish comedy, and much more. She is considered to be both the OG Booktuber and the most famous. Here is her channel.

Here are my three favorite Christine Riccio videos:

The Reading Slump Case Study (language warning)

Did you watch them? GO WATCH THEM. Have you watched them now? Okay, you may continue reading this blog post now. As you can hopefully tell, this lady is a Personality. She's also an external processor just like her main character. Shane Primaveri talks a lot, blogs, and journals physically in little notebooks she calls "horcruxes" (a reference to the horcrux/journal Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets).

Throughout Again, But Better, Shane sorts through her emotions and comes to realizations and decisions that drive the story through this process of externally processing her experiences. For me, this is So Relatable. Actually everything about Shane is relatable. She accidentally knocks over chairs when she stands up too fast, she plays Angry Birds, she has a crush on a guy with a girlfriend, and so much more.
                                     Image result for horcrux journal

Every time I read a book, I do a little journal entry on it. It's my way of processing my reactions to the story, what thoughts and emotions it elicited, and what my conclusions are on its messages. This practice grew out of something I had to do for all of Dr. Grewell's literature classes: Keep a Commonplace Book.

A Commonplace Book, traditionally, is a personal book of notable quotations taken from other books. It can also include observations and drawings as well as quotes from other mediums, but it is not the same thing as a journal. For my classes, I had to select a notable quotation from each day's reading and comment on it. This, by the way, is a fantastic method of ensuring that your students do the reading. Or at least skim. It was my favorite assignment every semester, which is why I've modified the practice and continued to this day in the form of what I like to call call "Literary Journaling".

Keeping a Commonplace book or Literary Journal is something I highly recommend because it ensures that you don't simply read for blind entertainment, which I tend to think is both dangerous and a waste of time.

I would back up this statement, but I don't think I actually need to. I think we're all quite aware, on some level, that entertainment without thought is a waste of time, even if we're not willing to do anything about it. Some of us need to waste a little time for our general mental health. That's okay. But I think we're also all aware that there are plenty of morally or intellectually dangerous systems of thought out there that we don't want creeping into our minds and hearts when we're not paying attention. I'm talking about stuff like racist attitudes, materialism, demonic influence, religious concerns, and more. I have no issues reading a book with problematic elements, but I'm also going to spend a long time afterward thinking through those issues and landing in a good place in my own mind and heart.

When I do an entry, I tend to identify what bothered me about the book and why, what hit me right in the feels and why, what I found problematic philosophically, what I found insensitive, what shocked me and why, what I found profound, and in many cases, how I want my life or viewpoint to change as a result of what I've read.

Again, But Better for example made me want to write more. It, along with the author's personal writing story, wound up making a poignant case for not letting your dreams go. It doesn't advocate tossing wisdom and practicality out the window in some bid to win the dream-job lottery, but it does argue against choosing a life-path that will cause your dreams to die. It is a solid encouragement to all those artistic souls out there to have the courage to continue doing your art, even if it is just a hobby, and not to value arbitrary definitions of "real life" and "success" to such an extent that you give up everything that brings you joy and makes you unique. The book also has a lot that is healthy and good to say about an appropriate balance between familial wishes, romantic relationships, and success and happiness in life on ones own terms.
Also journaling!

How do you process your life experiences? The books you read? Do you journal or keep a Commonplace Book? Have you read Again, But Better? Leave me a message in the comments section!

Monday, September 23, 2019

SHOCKER: Abby Is Still a Weird Theater Kid

                     Image may contain: one or more people, tree, outdoor and nature
^This is a photo I took of the cast meet and greet for Jupiter Theater Company's Winter season, in case anyone was wondering. No one was looking except Jon and Nick. I just wanted to catch the mood and the pretty lights. Apologies to everyone involved.

I mistakenly assumed that my career in theater would end in college.
But the weird world of theater is like a whirlpool. It just. Keeps. Sucking you. Back. In.

I never meant to enter that world in the first place. My college's theater group, Eden Troupe, was holding auditions for a late fall production of It's a Wonderful Life: The Musical. It was my sophomore year. I was taking 18 credits that semester. I had absolutely no time for extra-curricular activities, but a "friend" dragged me to auditions anyways pleading the need for moral support.

My moral support audition turned into a call back, which turned into the singing role of Tilly.
I don't think I slept for three months.

As often happens with theater, my friend group became the cast. I spent most of my time with George Bailey and Clarence and our mutual friend Ellyse, who roped me into spending hours painting detailed sets to Taylor Swift's, then newly released, 1989. As much as I loved being onstage, I loved being backstage even more. I loved creating a separate, magical world an audience could live in for a couple of glittering hours.

I remember sitting in the shadows backstage during a show waiting for one of my scenes and watching this wide-eyed kid, one of the Bailey children, a four or five-year old, just standing, inches from the curtain, still as a statue, peering through a crack of light, completely enthralled with the stage and the magic of that night.
I think I cried.

It was the first and only time I've ever been paid for a performance. Eden Troupe is meant to be non-profit so there are rules as to how much money it can make from a show, but we oversold our projections and made too much on Wonderful Life. It couldn't all go into the Eden Troupe coffers, so every member of the cast got five dollars. I have never felt richer in my life. I still have that five-dollar bill.

The next semester I stage-managed a super-minimalist show called John, His Story, which launched me into stage-managing that semester's second show: Henry V, my first ever Christian Fernandez Theater Experience, and my first ever Shakespeare production ("first ever" items listed in order of importance).

Now the thing to note about a Christian Fernandez show is that any and all involvement in said show is At Ones Own Risk. You Never Know what you're getting into. Sure, I'll be your stage manager turned into, Sure I'll paint that Agincourt battle scene from this Age of Empires screenshot you've provided me across these four pieces of backdrop. And Before I Knew It, I was applying fake blood backstage to the faces and arms of battle-hardened warriors and trying to tell it apart from the real blood, of which there was an inordinate amount. I've come to realize that real blood, bruises, sprains, and more are par for the course in Fernandez shows. But like #worthit.

I meant this to be the end of my theater career. It should have been the end. I left school after sophomore year for financial and emotional reasons. But what have I said?

One Does Not Simply Walk Away from Theater. 

Enter Elisabeth Wilk.

The Fall of what would have been my junior year but wasn't, Elisabeth Wilk (along with Graham Jackson) directed Six Characters in Search of an Author by Louigi Pirandello. The play was post-modern in every way, and I ended up with a meta-role that was Stage Manager (the character) and stage manager (the position), rolled into one.

Now, I don't regret the experience at all, but this play was Brutal. The subject matter and the emotions the cast lived in those few months were Hard. I exited that play feeling proud of my performance, particularly that gut-wrenching scream at the end, but Quite Ready to leave acting alone for a bit and focus on all the brokenness in my own heart and life that I'd just unearthed.

But Then.

I made the mistake of just getting a Teensy Tinsy bit involved in Jupiter Theater Company's summer production of As You Like It this year, directed by non other guessed it...Christian Fernandez. Alllll I did was run around in a merry-man costume for a trailer. That's it. And then, of course, I saw the production.

But that was all it took.

A couple months later I was sitting on Elisabeth Wilk (now Kamakawiwoole)'s couch, filming silly audition videos for three different minor roles, of which I received Jacquenetta in Love's Labour's Lost and a couple weeks after that I was explaining to my husband that I was going to be seeing these two other men and getting pregnant by one of them. He was very supportive.

I have been OFFICIALLY sucked back into theater. And not just any theater. This is NOT ONLY Shakespeare, but Christian Fernandez Shakespeare. And NOT ONLY Christian Fernandez Shakespeare but Elisabeth Kamakawiwoole X Christian Fernandez Shakespeare.


Love's Labours Lost is a play about a bunch of princes who've taken vows and passed laws against having anything to do with women in order to focus on their bookish studies for a while. LOL.
Enter Some Women.
These silly princes promptly fall in love with said women and run around trying to hide it from each other. There's intrigue and drama and sonnets and Latin and Napoleon and a Whole Lot of Shenanigans.

My character is a little country wench in a scandalous and station-complicated love triangle.
I Love Her, and I'm going to do my best to make the audience fall for her too and cry for her by the end of the play. *Spoilers*

We had our first full-run through of this play on Saturday, and I Am So Excited. We have such a talented and quirky and crazy cast. It is going to be a FREAKING RIOT. For more information and announcements regarding showtimes and tickets follow Jupiter Theater Company here.

That's all for now, everybody. Tune in next time to hear Abby say: Why Am I Bleeding? I have a Completely Non-Violent Role. FERNANDEZ!!!

Do you have experiences with the all-consuming whirlpool world of Theater? 
Leave a comment! 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

B&N YA Book of the Month: Riots and Race Relations

                 Image result for i'm not dying with you tonight

Barnes and Noble hosts a YA (Young Adult Genre) book club on the second Thursday of every month at all locations across the country. I found out about this two Sundays ago when a manager at the One Loudoun location encouraged me to come after I got him and half his staff chasing a misplaced copy of  Fawkes by Nadine Brandes across the store for half an hour. It's not my fault. I just asked about it, and then they were Committed. It was terrifying and thrilling to watch. Guy Fawkes was Not getting away from these agents of literary justice.

Wow bunny trail.


This month's Barnes and Noble YA Book of the Month is ***drummmmmmrollll***

I'm Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal.

After receiving said invitation from said dedicated manager, I was like...okay. I will come to the group. But I am not attempting to read this book. You can't make me. Not in half a week. Not with everything else I've got going on.

Three days later I did a little research just so I would be mildly prepared for discussion. This research involved skimming blurbs online, watching Booktube reviews, and READING THE ENTIRE BOOK.

What can I say? I just sorta Checked to see if the library had it, and they did, and One Thing Led to Another....and you know how it is.

Kimberly Jones is African American. Gilly Segal is Caucasian, but grew up in Israel. They met, became friends, and decided to co-write a YA book about race relations. This Sounds Good Already, Right? I'm Not Dying With You Tonight follows on the heels of books like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which have really defined the ever-growing contemporary YA race relations canon. More on The Hate U Give later.

                                           Image result for i'm not dying with you tonight

If you take a look at the cover here, you'll see that the authors' names correspond with the artwork depending on which way you orient the book. If you hold it with Kimberly Jones's name right-side-up, then Lena's face is also right side up along with her bold, red version of the title (as in the photo).
But. If you hold the book with Gilly Segal's name right-side-up, then Campbell's face is also right-side-up, along with her peach script version of the title. I like this cover. I like it a lot. Like all great book covers, it communicates So Much about the story and how its authors present it.

I'm Not Dying With You Tonight was inspired by the riots that took place in Baltimore in 2015. It alternates in perspective between Lena, a fierce, confident, fashion-savvy, type-A girl who knows what she wants out of life and Campbell, shrinking violet, new girl in town, runner, and the only child of a broken family. Lena and Campbell go to the same school, but until the night in question, they're nearly strangers.

When a fight breaks out after a football game, Lena and Campbell find themselves trapped in a concession stand together as the fight escalates into a riot that spills into the streets of the city. Just watching the escalation--thoughtless words, pent-up anger loosed, misunderstandings, accidents, retaliations of greater and greater violence, destruction of property, trampling, and looting--is a terrifying study in human nature.

I think what really got me were the reactions and assumptions of two different people to the arrival and involvement of police officers.

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to be trapped in the middle of a riot, trying to get from point A to point B, and in some sort of danger because of the color of your skin, whatever color it is, then this is the book to read. I was on the edge of my seat fascinated at how it all unfolded, and seeing the scene through two completely different pairs of eyes lent a whole new level of chaos and compassion to the story.

What I appreciate most about this book is that it shows without telling. It's not a sermon or an op-ed. It's not even a complete story. It's just a window on a landscape. It presents two different, equally valid and equally flawed lines of thought that have to make some semblance of peace with each other. It depicts the riot not as a randomized incident but as a volcanic eruption that had been building in the hearts of the people involved for some time.

Because Segal and Jones don't attempt to offer any answers, this book is in a unique position to present facet upon facet of the problem without (I think) oversimplifying. This is in contrast to Angie Thomas' The Hate U Give, which, admittedly, I haven't read yet (I Know, SHAME). But I Have Watched the Movie. Twice. Apologies to Angie Thomas if I judge her work too harshly by its film adaptation!!


I did really appreciate The Hate U Give. It made me think in ways I never have before. It made me want to pay more attention. It elicited so many good conversations. But. Because it did what books are generally supposed to do, and gave a complete story with a complete message, it, by necessity, had to oversimplify the issues, and because of that, the story and its message felt a bit contrived and a bit forced. Maybe the book was better.

However. When you start to stack these stories on top of each other. Take The Hate U Give with On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, and Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds and Black Enough (various authors) And I'm Not Dying With You Tonight, and Anything else you've read and want to add to that pile, you start to get a better picture.

That's what I'm encouraging today: Listening to people tell stories. Stories are Such a Precious and Unique way to get inside someone else's head. Even if they're wrong or half-right or just a little bit right or just a smidge off the mark, you Still learn So Much by sitting down and listening. And who knows, maybe you'll start to see the world in a way you never thought you would or wanted to. Not listening is really the only excuse we have for not understanding because people are talking and talking in articulate, talented and riveting ways.

The way I figure, if you can read Watership Down and somehow come to a deep understanding of the subtleties and inner workings of Rabbit Society, then you can certainly read to better understand a different race, class, culture, subculture, worldview, etc. etc. etc.

What's Watership Down, you ask? Oh dear, we have so much work to do.

All that to say, I give I'm Not Dying With You Tonight four out of five stars (liked it a lot, recommend) and would for sure read another book by Segal and Jones if they give it another go.

Let me know what you think! Have you read any good books lately that took you completely out of your own shoes and put you in someone else's? I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment!

P.S. I plan to keep up with reviews of Barnes and Noble YA Books of the Month from here on out; so stay tuned!

Friday, September 13, 2019

A Love Story That Happens to be Mine


I'm writing this because I still, even now, struggle to believe that Jon and I are real.

It still. Feels too good. To be true.

I think I just really believed it wasn't going to happen for me. I believed that so hard that I haven't quite admitted I was wrong yet.

So I'm going to tell me a story, and you're welcome to listen in.

Jon is pretty much your textbook jock. Football team in high school, then construction instead of college, then the firefighter/EMT gig, which was his dream for years. My initial take on him was that he was a nice guy. Lots of muscles. Not too much depth or substance. Attractive, not interesting. Vanilla with Pecs.
That's what I thought.

I'm like. A super nerd. Math team in high school. Graduated from the nerdiest of all nerd colleges with intellectual arrogance to spare. I thought I wanted to be with someone just as nerdy as me. Someone who would talk Plato and Nietzsche and Dickens. I thought anyone who couldn't do that wasn't good enough for me. Wasn't smart enough for me. Wasn't interesting enough for me.

Turns out it's Waaay more fun listening to Jon tell me everything that's wrong in an episode of Grey's Anatomy or Chicago Fire, how many bones are in a human foot, or what exactly happens when you shoot someone up with Narcan. See, Jon is a a total nerd too. Just a completely different kind, which I love. Turns out it's way more fascinating to be with someone different than you, someone who knows all sorts of stuff you don't and sees the world in a completely different way, than someone just like you.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Jon and I met at a Fourth of July party four years ago. We played football in a pool with a watermelon. I thought he was cute, but I didn't talk to him. I saw him a year later at the same party. He was setting off fireworks. That time I thought he was pretty. darn. attractive. And I talked to him just long enough to find out where the bathroom was. Classic Abby.

We had our first actual conversation at church just before he left for Maine on a work trip. I saw him notice me, and I told myself I didn't care, and it didn't matter. He spent the next year wriggling into my friend group. I spent the next year seeing other people.

Then someone I really liked broke up with me. And when my friends gathered around to support me, Jon was right there, seeing his chance. For the next couple months he was just someone to talk to. Someone to lean on. He became one of my best friends. And then one day he was like, Look I know I have no chance with you, but you should know how I feel. He told me how he felt like it was just something he had to get off his chest.

And I was mad. I was mad because the timing felt awful what with the breakup and some other confusing nonsense with male humans. I was mad because I loved talking to Jon and texting Jon and sitting with Jon in church. I just really didn't want that to be all ruined just because he had to go and catch feelings.

A few weeks before I had tried to set him up with a cute girl at a coffee shop, but he wasn't having it. I tried, guys, I tired.

But Jon did an amazing job making it clear that he had no expectations from me. He didn't need me to give him an answer. He didn't need me to like him back. He made it really clear that he wanted to be my friend, first and foremost, that I wasn't responsible for his emotions in any way, that no matter what, our friendship mattered to him, and that he wasn't going to walk away just because he wanted more and didn't get it.

And I was so thankful because I genuinely thought I would never want to be more than his friend.

Now I just want to clarify something real quick, men. There's a right way and a wrong way to go about a situation like this, and Jon did it the right way, but I've had a couple guys in my life do it the wrong way.

The Wrong Way
You tell the girl you like her; she says she doesn't like you back. You either don't believe her or decide you can convince her otherwise so you Lie to her and tell her you're totally down to just be friends, and then you proceed to treat her As If She Is Your Girlfriend. You talk to her like she's your girlfriend, you express physical affection like she's your girlfriend, and you put her in a position of having to either constantly remind you that's she's Not Your Girlfriend or capitulate out of sheer convenience. You might get your way for a while, but trust me, this just isn't healthy for either party.

Jon's Way
Jon, on the other hand, meant what he said. He was down for being my friend. He didn't push me to hang out. He encouraged me to join group activities sometimes, but mostly he let me come to him. He let me be the one to initiate (or not initiate) physical affection (I'm talking about stuff like hugs not stuff like kissing). Jon did a lot of just talking to me. Showing me who he was. Showing me I was wrong about who he was and what he had to offer. That's what changed things.

Oh and it also helped that a bunch of older, married people started coming up to me and telling me what an absolutely amazing person he was, and I Should Be So Lucky.

It wasn't one thing that made the difference. It was everything. It was every reason I could think of not to be with him torn down and a thousand completely opposite reasons built up in its place.

So, finally, I quit being an idiot and told him he could ask me again.

And he did.

But I still made him wait a month to kiss me, because I really wanted to be sure, and I'm really thankful we did that. Our relationship is stronger for it now. We still look back on that month super fondly because when you're not kissing, hand-holding is the sweetest thing in the world, and you'll never quite get that back. I'm so thankful for those memories.

A lot of people have commented on how fast Jon and I got married. But the thing is, he spent so long tryna, and I spent so long tryna not, that by the time we got together, it was already over. All those big important conversations had been had. Every reason we could possibly imagine for Not being together had already been dismantled.

But when my girlfriends ask me how I "knew" Jon was the one, now that's something else. The answer is I didn't. Marrying him felt like the most natural thing in the world, but I'm someone who's always going to fret and question and wonder if I'm doing the right thing. The idea that you can be sure of something as infinite and independent as another human being just doesn't make sense to me. Jon is The One because I married him, and he married me, and we both made promises. That's it.

I will say this. I will say this one last thing:
I always knew that if I was going to marry someone I had to love that person in the same way that I loved Africa--not as something small enough to fit into a human body, but as something as vast and varied as a continent. Not as something standing in front of me, but as something I could live inside. Not as something I could memorize, but as something I could explore for a lifetime and never fully know.

Jon was the first person I ever loved like Africa. And there was a moment when I realized that, and maybe that's the moment I "knew". I don't know. But since Africa was never quite real to me, neither is Jon. Not yet.

Ask me in a few years if I believe I'm married to Jon Libby yet. I'm genuinely curious when me and reality will catch up with each other.

Monday, September 9, 2019

A Short Rant About Not All Men

                   woman wearing black top standing near yellow wall

I have been catcalled more times than I can count in the past week. Yelled at from moving vehicles, mostly. Honked at. Startled. Today I was walking in a pair of slacks and a loose t-shirt that covered my butt. I was reading. And someone yelled NICE ASSSSS in the most lewd voice I can think of. Yelled. I couldn't even tell where the voice was coming from, just that it was male.

I'm no supermodel. This happens to pretty much every woman I know regardless of clothing, weight, attitude, etc. Some of us are more likely to mention it than others, but it happens all the time.

I don't walk in bad neighborhoods. I wear casual clothing that is appropriate for my professional job. I don't swing my hips around hoping someone will think my ass looks nice. 

It's not all men. I know it's not all men. I know there are good men out there, I married one. But there are so many Sucky, Sicko, Horrid men that a modest, married woman can't walk on a sidewalk in a decent neighborhood with her nerdy head in a book without getting harassed. 

Now I'm sitting here feeling a bit sick. Feeling a bit slimy. Shaking a little. Definitely angry, in case you couldn't tell. And I'm thinking about how when women like me speak up about things like this the response is usually: Well what were you wearing? Probably just a bad area. IT'S NOT ALL MEN. 

No one said it was all men. When I say: I don't like toxic men, it's like saying: I don't like wormy apples. 


No, no they're not. I agree with you. Not all apples are wormy. Not all men are bad. I prefer my apples not wormy and my men not bad. I LOVE masculinity. I think it's awesome. I just don't like the toxic kind. And for the record I don't like toxic forms of femininity either, and I'll spend my life doing my best to be a not-toxic person And You Should Too. Cool? Cool. 

Let's just stop pretending this isn't a problem. Let's stop pretending that the attitudes that lead SOME men to think catcalling is okay can also lead to Much. Worse. Things. And you might not buy the whole one in three women are qualified to say #metoo statistic, but in my general experience it appears to be pretty true. One time I grabbed three of my girlfriends at random and asked, and sure enough, one had been raped as a little girl. And that's scary. And horribly, horribly sad.

Honestly, it doesn't matter what the statistic is. It doesn't matter if you think "rape culture" isn't a thing. It doesn't matter if you think "toxic masculinity" isn't a thing. For those of us who love someone who has been raped. For those of us who have experienced a toxic man (or fifty) first hand. For those of us familiar enough with the problem to see it everywhere: our hearts cry out to be heard and believed.

Please someone believe us. Please someone help us stop the evil men in the world. The ones who rape little girls. The ones who touch us while we're at work. The ones who yell slimy things from car windows. Please stop saying it's not real and just do whatever you need to do in your little corner of the world to make it safer. I don't care if that means changing your ways or just being sure to teach your sons right. Please just don't deny that this is real. 

And while we're at it.

PLEASE CAN WE STOP PRETENDING THAT PORNOGRAPHY ISN'T PRETTY MUCH THE PROBLEM HERE. Please can we stop pretending that the majority of men don't look at pornography and at least begin to forget that butts and boobs belong to human beings with souls. Some act on that in different ways than others, but it is the natural fall-out. I'm not saying I think all men who look at porn are evil, but I truly believe that pornography is the root that easily grows toxic masculinity. Pornography is the root that grows rape culture. Pornography is the root that grows every form of the dehumanization of women on the spectrum: from catcalls to violent rape. And if you deny "toxic masculinity" and "rape culture" are legit, you can't deny how widespread pornography is. 

If you are male but you are convinced you are not a toxic male ever in any way, And You Don't Use Porn, then I believe you. I believe you have a healthy attitude toward women. I believe you have nothing to worry about, and you can leave this post feeling totally not called out because I wasn't talking to you at all. Go in peace.  




That's all I have to say about that I guess.

Leave a comment if you would like to share. If you want to discuss. But while I don't like squelching free speech, I do reserve the right on this post in particular to delete comments if I believe they might prove hurtful to someone else. This applies both to my blog itself and to any social media. Thank you for being respectful.