Little Boxes, Day Four: The Ghost, The Machine

I have to admit, I don’t feel good about this one. It never feels particularly good to walk up to someone you cared for and stab them in the face. However, there are some words here that need to be said and need to be heard. For anyone about to tell me what a heinous bitch I am, I say this: think of all the gory details I’m not including. Anyone who knows the story well enough to voice an opinion would know those, and would thank me for not putting them here. I care enough to grab you, shake you and yell in your face. It’s just not always pleasant.

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Dear Sir,

Most people don’t get a second chance with me. You got a third one and you squandered it. In my stupidly idealistic way, I had hoped that more than a year in the tutelage of someone much nicer than I would have changed you into a better person than the one I’d known before. I had hoped that you’d learned by example. I really felt like you were making an effort. I was also making an effort, trying to watch my tone and be more of a team player, to prove that I have definitely changed. I have a pack of friends who are slowly turning me into a better person because I am trying to take advantage of their abilities to lead by example.

Those are the same friends who were telling me to run.
Run fast.
Run far.

They remember what happened last time, the way you dropped me cold, giving little reason. The way everything changed from good to bad overnight. The way I learned that someone can look at me as you did and then lop me off like an infected limb. It was unbelievably cold. It took three years before I was even really willing to let you prove you’d changed, and what did you do? You lopped me off again. Just disappeared, resurfacing next to someone else and creating a situation you can’t possibly have fully thought out.

I cannot fathom how one human can treat another human this way.

Had things continued well for a few more weeks, I would have sat my friends down and said “I know he’s done wrong in the past, but I think he’s really trying and I really wish that you’d give him a clean slate.” I was going to ask them to give you a shot. I was willing to clean away all of the hurt that you doled out all those times, all of the passive-aggression, all of the self-centered behavior and all of the little things mumbled and then never repeated at an audible level.

I was hoping you would win them over. I was hoping you would win me over. I was hoping you would prove yourself, prove that you had decided to grow up as many of your friends have, giving me reason to welcome you back into my life and bed. I wanted to come home to those arms, but only if those arms belonged to a man this time. No one made a mark like you did. All you had to do was prove that you were willing to do the work. In the meantime, I was content to be your friend and move slowly.

Instead, you found someone who wouldn’t ask so much of you. You found a quick fix. You treated the symptom and not the disease. You have cured loneliness for a while; you have not cured the behavior that causes the loneliness. I have lost the guy who made a mark on me, but you are doomed to a lifetime of being miserable. I point this out in hopes that you will change, not for me (you have lost me for the last time), but for you. So far, misery is one of the few things to which you’ve committed enough for it to be considered a long-term goal.

You have asked why you have trouble keeping friends, and I suspect that this quick-fix mentality is why. Your treatment of others is completely dependent on your mood at any given time, and completely motivated by self-interest. At any moment, without warning, you may lose your patience and say things that can never be unsaid. The other person walks away forever and you are left wondering why.

People who only care for people because of self-interest are doomed to be surrounded by people driven by self-interest, because other people will have nothing to do with them. Until you understand this, you are doomed to be surrounded by people like yourself: friends who will leave you as soon as you have nothing they need or want. A circle of people patching up their empty lives with quick fixes.

I had thought for a while that you’d had this realization. That you had decided to do the work that it takes to reap the benefits of better friendships. However, learning and evolving is not pleasurable or quick. Adults realize that things of value take time and work. You tend to give things a month or two and then give up when your efforts don’t pay off quickly enough.

I liked you enough to give you two more chances than most people get. I sincerely wanted you to live up to your potential. I wanted nothing more than for you to decide to work hard enough to become what I know you could be. I wanted you to prove that you wanted me enough to work to get me. You just wanted someone – anyone – to want you, so you could prove that your recent breakup didn’t prove you to be flawed, undesirable. “Someone still wants me! This breakup means nothing!” You weren’t interested in evolution. You were interested in validation. “Self-Esteem Band-Aid Vagina” is not on my driver’s license or passport, so that must not be my name.

You were given a chance to prove yourself changed and evolved, or at least open to change and evolution. Instead, you have proven yourself soulless, self-centered, impulsive and immature. Harsh words, but those are also apparently words that no one has ever cared about you enough to say. You need to hear them; those words are the adjectives keeping you from getting what you really want. Whiskey works for a while, but deciding to be better is what takes away the loneliness. Deciding to be better is what will surround you with better, more rewarding friendships and relationships. Decide to be better.

-Amy

Little Boxes, Day Three: O, Canada

Dear Sir:

I really did like you, much as it’s possible to like someone I knew for so short a time. I had hoped you’d stick around long enough to meet my friends. I think you would have liked my friends. Pardon the assumption, but I think you could use some real friends. Your life seems to be all surface relationships and mingling; that’s no way to live. It’s not how my people roll, and I think you would have liked my people.

Oh, I know there was a snowball’s chance in Hell of things working out, with you so far away and both of us most likely never being willing to move, but I was willing to see where it went for as long as it kept being worth the trouble. That “worth the trouble” ended up not being very long.

That’s partly my fault for getting naked too soon, but I maintain that this was partly your fault for being delicious. You opened your mouth and I was doomed. You took the gold standard and sent it platinum. The great dethroner of exes. You may as well have placed birthday cake in front of me and told me not to eat it. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

You used the f-word (“friends”) two weeks in, but were too nice to admit that you’d friend-foldered me. Too “nice,” that is. With quotes. Instead, you wasted my time and concern, let me plan a visit which got canceled and semi-accidentally pointed me in the direction of bitchy tweets aimed between my eyes. That was when it became too much trouble, seeing a stranger address me as a rival. I kept waiting for you to live down an allegedly accidental use of the f-word. You never did. You never let me past the moat, telling me everything about everything, but nothing about anything that really matters. I walked away before I cared too much.

It’s unfortunate that we don’t seem to see you in the same way. I looked at you and saw someone all shiny and bookish on the inside, someone who reminded me of my dad, someone who would play Scrabble AND music with me. It seems that you just see yourself as someone too plain for rock stardom. The big secret about rock stardom is that it’s kind of stupid and it hates everyone over the age of 30. Rock stardom is a fickle bitch with fake hair, fake boobs and a taste for Vuitton bags, which you would be expected to purchase. You don’t want anything to do with her. If you lived in Nashville, you might have gotten the memo that who you are is good enough. That quiet version of you, working a desk job and picking out cars by reliability is much more attractive than the one buying drinks for that bitch Rock Stardom. Who you think those sunglasses make you is just a cheap copy of what MTV’s been feeding me since 1981. If all I wanted was skinny jeans and aviators, I could go to any bar in Nashville and swing a dead cat.

I’d also like to explain my disappearance, because I really DO feel like a dick about that. I really didn’t mean to just disappear without explanation, as though your feelings didn’t matter. I’ve had people do that to me and it sucks. I just didn’t seriously think that you’d notice or care if I disappeared, and you never asked for an explanation. Since you never asked for one, I figured you didn’t care much about getting one. I figured that explaining myself would be melodramatic. If I guessed wrong, I’m sorry for that. It was a good time for a while. I wish you had thought so, too.

-Amy

World’s Best-Written Blog. Only not.

Yesterday’s blog ended with me mentioning something about how, in a perfect world, the bedroom would be a sort of no-judge zone. I believe that this is the case for a lot of couples, and it should be, but I also believe that this is all too often not how things are. This also ties into that thing I said a few weeks ago about the virgin/whore problem. I mentioned it in the context of talking about how guys were kind of screwed when it came to knowing the right things to say, but that women were also screwed in a lot of ways.

I apologize for the somewhat “all over the place” nature of this one. It’s hard for me to cover this without listing specific events that may or may not involve people you know. It’s hard for me to talk about this without telling on myself. It’s especially hard for me to talk about this without getting into a subject that would take a 5-part series and spark some debate that would piss me off. I don’t really need any more things in my life that piss me off, thanks.

So, the virgin/whore problem. The quick explanation is the one I gave a friend:

“Guys want you to throw down in the bedroom…but they also want to believe that you’d only ever do that with THEM.” As though only that ONE guy would have the power to bring out your inner sexpot. As though he were the only guy you’d ever been with. As though he is made of magic and you have no recollection of anything or anyone that happened before him. Honestly. The male ego.

If you’re good at something, they wonder if you’re lying about how many people you’ve been with. If you’re bad at something, you will be dismissed pretty quickly. They never, ever really want to hear anything that went down with anyone before them. This is a shame. We women will tell you these things in hopes that you are paying attention and taking notes. You don’t NEED Maxim to tell you what we’re thinking. We will tell you all sorts of things, in excruciating detail. If you’re smart, you’re taking notes instead of judging us.

Also, we’re also telling you these things in hopes that you’ll reciprocate. Hell, make a user’s manual. With video. Whatever works. Ask about our sex toys instead of fearing them. Ask why we prefer those to other ones. A woman who is having a good time during naked time is a woman who will care a lot less about you leaving socks on the floor. It’s a win/win.

Several of you are looking at me with one eyebrow raised. You’re saying to me, “but Amy…don’t you think you’re a little under-qualified for this conversation?”

Maybe a little, say I.

However, the thing about me that makes me under-qualified also makes the virgin/whore problem glaringly clear to me. Men start off treating me like a delicate child, only to have me point out that I’m still 32 and this is not my first rodeo. As a result, the two perceptions collide and men have no idea what to do with me. The virgin/whore contradiction comes through with glaring clarity; they feel bewildered and disoriented and I feel harshly judged. More than once have I been offered the position of one night stand or booty call, only to offer up an inconvenient truth that prompted one guy to have to sit down and apologize for the next ten minutes. He was horrified, as though he’d whipped it out in front of a nun. All he’d really done was touch my hand, and possibly had a couple impure thoughts.

Enough of you know what I’m getting at in that last paragraph. To those of you who don’t know, I’ll just point out that I am not now and have never been a man. That is all.

The Checklist (Part Three: Why Don’t You Just Sprout Wings?)

Yep, I realized that I pretty much TOLD you that you should never write down your checklist. It’s a one-way ticket to season four of Tough Love, right? Alas, one of you asked to see it, so I’m doing just that. I’ve pretty much thrown myself on he mercy of the internet and presented myself as Bitter Undateable Bitchbag already, so what the hell. Maybe someone’s looking for a bitter, undateable bitchbag. Aside from that, I suspect that several of my married friends are secretly chomping at the bit to act as personal shoppers, if only so they can scare the hell out of a new guy when he’s faced with having to meet them. “You know when you meet a guy, we’re going to be watching you on Google Maps to make sure you’re home at a reasonable hour.” The 21st century is so delightfully bizarre.

Thus, I give you: Amy’s completely picky, wildly unrealistic, completely-never-gonna-happen checklist.

That Which Is Non-negotiable:

  1. smart
  2. funny
  3. attractive
  4. effective communication skills
  5. strong moral center
  6. life goals
  7. fire

What constitutes “attractive?” Unfortunately, I’m all OVER the place here. I mean, yes, we can all agree that Johnny Depp is freaking hot, but sometimes all I need is fun hands or a fun nose or a bunch of wrong things that come together in exactly the right way. Or a walk. Or maybe he smells good. Honestly, the only way to make a verdict is to meet him in person. It’s possible that I could even meet Johnny Depp and be like, “dude, I’m just not feeling it…I don’t know why.” Not probable, but possible.

As for “strong moral center,” this translates to “have some principles, some honor and some integrity.” I have no intention of lying to you, cheating on you or being sheisty, and I would hope that you would also be disinclined to act like an asshole. I’m saying that you have to be honest, one-faced, and generally act with the best of intentions at least 90% of the time.

Wtf do I mean by “fire?” I mean Dude should be at least a little ornery. Frankly, I can’t respect someone who’s afraid to take the piss out of me on occasion and he’s going to have to call me on my b.s. at some point. I’m not saying “act like a dick,” I’m just saying “if I ask where you want to go to dinner, please for the love of God have SOME opinion.” Nobody likes a doormat.

Before I forget, I’m at about a 70% “no” on the “do you want kids?” issue. However, I am not above losing/changing my mind and having a kid. It could happen. (*edit: after a couple of brushes of seriousness, I’d like to point something out. You think you know what you want. Then you realize you’ve never been in love. I fully reserve the right to lose my damn mind, fall in love and want kids. How fucking scary.)

That which is hot:

  1. being a liberal
  2. being goth/punk/industrial or of that general leaning
  3. possessing cooking ability (double points if you teach me)
  4. having an inappropriate sense of humor
  5. knowing when to be appropriate (family reunions, etc.)
  6. good table manners
  7. tolerance of my incredibly cheesetastic musical tastes
  8. love for video games, particularly hack & slash, fighting or music games
  9. playing some kind of instrument (My parents would play together)
  10. willingness to participate in stupid art projects/joke bands/stupid performance art
  11. exercise routine
  12. love (or tolerance) of trashy reality tv shows
  13. not caring much about religion
  14. vegetarianism
  15. having friends that I actually LIKE
  16. good work ethic
  17. sensible spending habits
  18. cat person
  19. cleanliness of body and house (but not to an OCD degree)
  20. love for Fall and Winter
  21. willingness to come to the antique store, flea market and thirft store
  22. reasonable amount of hedonism (because I need someone to make me have a good time)
  23. ability to be dependable without being completely boring

Stupidly Specific Things (Really, Amy? Really?)

  1. ability to beat me at Scrabble
  2. love of Halloween decor
  3. love of sushi
  4. willingness to come to the gay bar with me
  5. secret wish to move to England (triple points if you ARE British)
  6. anachronistic love of letter writing
  7. love of tmi
  8. osaying Tila Tequila scares you and actually meaning it
  9. loving a trip to the cemetery, even though you know it’s ridiculous

Things I Hope You Hate

  1. Fox News
  2. new country
  3. that “Reba” Show
  4. direct sunlight
  5. marijuana (I prefer that you REMEMBER what I tell you)
  6. poorly-trained dogs
  7. poorly-trained children
  8. golf on television
  9. Juggalos
  10. necrophilia (ha?)

Things I Do That Will Irritate You (fair warning)

  1. taking long showers, usually twice a day
  2. If you put your hands on my face, I will emit a high-pitched squeal until hey are removed..and then maybe punch you.
  3. hardly ever leting you see my shins in any capacity but naked time
  4. speaking LOLcat at you
  5. speaking in metaphors
  6. telling you how many calories are in what you’re eating

The Checklist (part two: Sexyback)

I don’t seriously expect each of you guys to start polling your female friends and asking them to write down their checklists. I’m working on actually writing mine down (per a request from one of you), but I thought I’d tide you over with something I call “Helpful Hints for Dudes Who Can’t Figure Out Why They’re Single.”

Before you all send me hate mail, I’ll point out that these rules also apply to the ladies and point out that I’d be more than happy to hand the ladies their asses too, except that I’m supposed to write what I know. I’ve never dated any ladies, so my beefs with them are more of the “put some damned clothes on already” variety. I have, however, dated guys. A bunch of you. Thus, I’m going to give you some free advice. Also, I will be quick to point out that I’m so totally, clearly not perfect. If a guy wrote a list of 20 things that annoy guys, I’d probably be guilty of at least 10 of them. However, I’ve also never dated myself, so that’s my “out.” So, guys, let’s get you laid, shall we?

1. It’s about your goals, not your job.
While it’s true that one of the first things our friends ask when we meet a new guy is, “so, what does he do?” it’s mainly just a curiosity thing and a question that’s still considered not too personal a thing to ask. We’re not holding a yardstick up to what you’ve accomplished so far. What we’re looking for is whether you have a plan for the future, a long-term goal that you’re trying to reach. Why? We’re trying to see if we fit into that plan, and we want to know that you’re capable of planning beyond next week. A man who can say, “here’s where I want to be in 5 years, here’s how I’m going to get there, and I want you there too” is sexy.

2. It’s not about your paycheck, it’s about your credit score.
I don’t care if you make less money than I do. What I do care about is whether you have the maturity to live within your means. When a guy has bad credit or 30 grand in credit card debt, it’s a warning sign that looks like this:

“This man cannot handle his business. If you share an account with him, that credit card debt will be YOURS. That bad credit will be YOURS.” With all due respect, my credit score is 775 and you’d better not screw it up if we end up one day sharing an account. A man who is responsible enough to handle his business and will not damn us to a life of finance charges is sexy.

3. Clean your house.
A messy house says a lot of things to a female. It makes us suspect that you’re just dating us because you want a mom to come in and clean up after you because you can’t take care of yourself. A messy house says, “I don’t respect and care for what I have.” It says, “I knew you were coming over, and I don’t respect you enough to care about whether you think I’m a flaming pig.”

When we see you respect and care for whatever material things that you have, it makes us think that you would exact that same care if you “had” us. It’s not enough to buy the objects; you have to dust them, too. Much in the same way that, once you get the girl, you still have to keep her. A man who takes care of what is his is sexy.

4. Show up on time.
When you show up on time, it says to us “I respect the effort that you have put forth in trying to be ready on time, I respect that your time is valuable, and I want you to know that I respect those things.” Showing up more than 15 minutes late makes us think that you’re so immature that you can’t even figure out how long it takes to get ready. It makes us think that we are so low on your priority list that you figured you’d just show up whenever and expect us to be cool with it. A man who values a woman’s time and her efforts to be ready on time is sexy.

5. Stay away from the manipulation.
Guys, with all due respect, you can’t manipulate a woman for very long. Women all have master’s degrees in manipulation because we’re women. In high school, we didn’t solve disagreements with a simple fistfight. We ruined each other. We don’t always USE those master’s degrees (I personally find manipulation terribly inefficient as compared to speaking English), but we have them. Thus, heaven help the guy who, at age 30, decides he’s going to try and be slick. He’s manipulating at a 3rd grade level. Invariably, the woman he’s manipulating finds out, and thinks the following:

1. He thinks he’s slick, and he’s not even close.
2. He thought he was going to get away with that…
3. which means he must think I’m stupid.

Aaaand, scene. You’re finished. Just save yourself a lot of trouble and be honest as often as possible. God knows, if you lie we will catch you and that will be bad. Very, very bad. At best, we leave you. At worst, we stick around and use our master’s degrees in manipulation to make you bleed from every metaphorical orifice. A man who respects me enough to tell the truth and not play games with me is sexy.

6. Sober. Up.
Drinking as much at age 30 as you did at age 20 is not fly, and puts a serious kibosh on attaining goals and keeping your house clean. I thought this was just me, but recent polling of female friends has resulted in a glaring truth: we are tired of you people drinking so much. Getting drunk everyday is not a good look and it makes us think that you don’t have any effective coping skills in place. Also, a 30 year old grown-ass man should not be showing up to work with “unidentified party wounds” on a regular basis. It’s juvenile and makes it hard for women to respect you. I’m not saying that you don’t get to have a drink; there’s nothing wrong with a glass of wine. I’m saying that getting sloppy on a daily basis sets off a woman’s red lights and sirens. A man who knows how how drink moderately and not act a fool is sexy.

Random Quick Tips
1. If you don’t cook, learn at least one thing. Cooking for your lady can and usually will lead to nudity.
2. Use a tongue scraper.
3. Read at least one Jane Austen (or Bronte, if you’re goth) novel, just to scare the crap out of your date.
4. Do not ever, under any circumstances, imply that your lady may need to lose some weight, unless you just really don’t care about seeing her naked ever again.
5. We will never understand why you like action movies and ultimate fighting, for the same reasons that you will never understand Jane Austen novels and Tori Amos.
6. Even a flaming feminist will secretly like it when you open doors for her.
7. Make a plan and stick to it. Planning says “I respect you and your time enough to want to reserve some of it to make sure I see you.”
8. Every now and then, do some of that crap that you hate (hang out with our mom, take us to a costume drama) and pretend to have a good time. We appreciate the effort and your willingness to take one for the team.
9. Introduce her to your friends; it makes her feel like you’re proud to be with her and you want to integrate her into your life.
10. Never underestimate the power of back/foot rubs.

The Checklist (part one: staccato and reviled)

I was having a conversation with a male friend a while back, and he got onto the dreaded subject of “the difference between men and women.” More specifically, it was something of a semi-tipsy, circumstance-biased indictment of the female gender and our use of mental checklists when selecting mates. In fairness, I should mention that my friend was having a rough day and is not actually a woman hater. Or maybe he secretly IS a woman hater and just hides it really well. Not the point.

The point, friends, is the way he spat the word checklist at me in the same way that one would spit “dispicable,” or “pedantic.” Something staccato…and reviled.

“Guys just go along and see how it works out, but women, oh women all have some kind of checklist.”

Now, I suspect that guys also have checklists that are just more abstract than ours, but that’s not the point. The point is that this was roughly the 8 millionth time that a man spat the word “checklist” at me.

I defend the concept of the checklist. I’m not suggesting that we ladies actually write the list down and literally check things off. I’m just suggesting that we should know what we want and not get all hyper to settle just because what we’re looking for has proven difficult to find. I joke about all the things on mine, right down to the impossible and comical “…and he and I will start a dark cabaret band.” I’m kidding, guys. (Unless you want to start a dark cabaret band.)

There are things on my checklist that are damn near as hard to find, not said in jest and non-negotiable. The big two are “smart” and “funny.” Those two things are hard enough to find. Couple that with the third non-negotiable (“I have to want to eat his face”) and what you get is a whole lot of accusations of being “too picky.” It’s not picky. It’s “if you don’t have these things, I really would rather just be alone.” And by “alone,” I mean “busy with work, busy with hobbies, hanging out with my friends, getting a decent night’s sleep and not having to consult anyone before making plans for the weekend.”

Maybe guys hate the checklist because they feel like sometimes they never even get a chance. Like we ladies are going to look at them and go, “hmmm, dog person? wrong answer!” and send them down the bad egg chute like Veruca Salt. All we ladies are trying to do is not waste time, and that checklist is much more flexible than you think. The checklist is our way of policing ourselves, making sure that we at least make some attempt to find the guy we need and want rather than the guy with a good head of hair. The checklist is our way of clearly stating our expectations to ourselves.

Guys, all I’m saying is that it might serve you well to embrace the checklist. Start asking your female friends to write down their checklists solely for the purpose of letting you collect them. Read through 20 or 30, and you’re going to find a pattern of all of us pretty much looking for a lot of the same stuff.

I was beginning to feel guilty about my checklist, like maybe it really was the impossible dream, but then I realized that the important things on my checklist are based in values I was taught growing up. It’s my dad’s fault, because he was all of the stuff I’m looking for…but props also go to mom for making him man up and BE those things.

In Which We Keep It Classy. Again.

I’ve given this some thought and, while I do realize that strangers may see this, I’m willing to take one for the team and talk about this anyway. Part of my job here is to bring up things that make us squirmy. Besides, refusal to talk about this would only contradict my point. We’re all adults here, and it’s time we addressed this.

I’m offended my the expression “suck my dick.” I’ll admit that I’ve used this expression because I think it’s funny when a female says it, but that doesn’t make it OK. You see, telling someone to suck your dick implies that fellatio (is this blog more ladylike if I call it fellatio?) is some horrible, degrading thing that one should only do when one has accepted one’s inferiority to someone else. As in, “I think so little of you that you can suck my dick.”

Fellas, I would encourage you to stop using this expression. Why? Because I would assume that you would want your sexual partners to do this for you. Thus, it would be wise to not run around implying that fellatio is only for people with little other redeeming value. You want more women to go down on you? Stop implying that it’s horrible and degrading. Start implying that it’s a huge favor that you really appreciate and enjoy. Like, use “suck my dick” in the place of “rocks my world.”

“OMG, those buffalo wings TOTALLY sucked my dick.”

OK, maybe not, but you see what I mean. (But if you DO incorporate that phrase into your vocabulary, please get video of people’s faces when you say it.)

GUYS:
A good number of you will say things like, “oh, you don’t have to do that” or “really? because you don’t have to if you don’t want to…” and that implies that you still think that fellatio is something “nice girls” don’t do. I’ll let you in on a little secret. There ARE no nice girls. There are only girls who have hang-ups because of what parents, past guys and friends have taught them. They’re also afraid that you’re going to tell your friends everything they do. Remove these fears and hang-ups. Have a much better time.

A woman who gets your respect when her clothes are on is more willing to do whatever when her clothes are off. Tattoo that on your body as a reminder. Open the doors, pay for dinner and call when you say you will, and you’re well on your way to having the keys to the kingdom.

LADIES:
You know damn well that this is part of your job and should be part of your repertoire. If the thought of doing this grosses you out, maybe you should take another look at WHY you’re getting naked with that person in first place. If you’re naked for the right reasons, you’re down for whatever body parts are available. Besides, it’s so easy and makes them so happy. Get over yourselves.

What you do, what you allow to get ON you, is not degrading unless you make it degrading. Letting a man disrespect you is degrading, and that can happen with all of your clothes ON.

Everybody, I’m glad we had this little chat. I feel cleansed.