Wednesday, May 28, 2014

If You Are Silent About Injustice...

Let me tell you a story: a few years ago, I was returning a bathing suit and Target. The young girl working behind the return counter was not particularly friendly, and was almost reluctant to take the bathing suit back, despite the fact that I had never worn it.  Finally, though, she processed the return, and handed me back my money--this was back in the day when everyone paid with cash.

I take it, and leave to rejoin my mom, who is browsing the clothes section, munching on some popcorn, as we were apt to do when browsing Target back in those days. (Now, I can hardly ever get her to go to Target with me since 'Wal Mart is cheaper.'). Anyway, as I join her, I go to put the money in my pocket, and glance at it to discover that the woman who processed my return gave me an extra $20. Not only did she give me my money back for the bathing suit, she ended up giving me an extra $20.

Let me just remind you that this girl was not that friendly to me, and I was pretty broke as a college student home for the summer. Anyway, can anyone guess what I did?

1) Kept it. I needed that $20.

2) Returned it.

As tempting as the offer was (when is a 'free to you' $20 not at least tempting?), I chose #2. I walked back up to the return desk and told the girl that she'd made a mistake.  She seemed flabbergasted by my response--in fact, she kept asking me if I was 'sure I wanted to give it back'?

Of course I was sure.  I weighed the options--on one hand, I would have an extra $20.  On the other hand, when the registers were closed down for the night, she & anyone else who happened to have used that register would be in trouble--or at least on probation. So, there wasn't really a choice--at least, not for me.

She thanked me profusely, and put it back in the drawer and was, of course, extremely pleasant to me. 

One more story before I get to my point: in 5th grade, there was a class field trip to a water park that we had to buddy up for. There was a group of four of us, and all three wanted to be my buddy. I really struggled to pick a buddy--I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, and I was stressing out that I was put in a position where I would potentially hurt two of my really good friends.  One of the girl's mothers remarked to my mom "Boy, Natalie must really be loving her life right now." 

But, the truth is: I wasn't--not in that moment, not when I was faced with having to hurt someone's feelings.  That was not then, nor has it ever been, something pleasant for me--having the power to choose and hurt someone else has never been a requirement for 'loving my life.'

I don't remember who or how I picked now--I just know that I felt really terrible having to choose.

Anyway, how are these two stories related?  I guess they're about perspective.

In the first story, it would have been really easy for me to look at the situation from only my perspective--and keep the $20 erroneously handed to me by a rather rude clerk.

In the second story, the mother's perception is what she would have felt in the situation, not what I felt.  Like so many things in life, it comes down to perspective.

It comes down to what we feel or would feel (as in the case of the mother), and too often we do not stop to consider what the other person must feel. 

I'm not ashamed to admit that I was a bit of a teacher's pet growing up-- it wasn't something I intended to happen, but when it did, I was thrilled.  Aside from being bullied by Ms. Jackson, I was generally well-liked among teachers.  I did my homework, I did well, and I actually enjoyed being in school. But, I never stopped to think about how other kids perceived this--or whether or not it was fair to them. It benefited me, and therefore I didn't really think twice about it. This is one kind of situation, where a person (in this case me) simply doesn't realize that something is wrong, and therefore remains silent about it.

But, there is another kind.  A more insidious kind. The one where you realize that you are receiving preferential treatment (specifically to the detriment of someone else), and you stay silent, or let it pass.  This is different altogether--you are no longer a passive participant in the favoritism, you are absolutely an active participant.

Recently, I was having a conversation with someone about a course of action they'll take in the future.  I'll spare the specifics, because they're not important--but, it got me thinking about people-- and how many of them operate.

It's often pretty easy to speak out when you feel wronged--when you see an injustice and you're on the wrong side of that injustice, it's usually pretty easy (for most people) to speak up and say 'Hey! That's not fair! Why am I being treated so poorly, when this person over here is being treated so wonderfully?'

This is, of course, not easy for some people--but it is for some.

Rarely is the reverse true.  Rarely does someone who is on the 'good' side of an injustice or favoritism speak up and say 'Hey! Why am I being treated so much better than this person over here?'

In either instance, it's not right--the difference in treatment of individuals in either circumstance is not okay, but we are fundamentally less likely to speak up about it as long as we are on the 'good' side--or, rather, the side that is benefiting. 

For instance, if we notice a bank error that takes money from us, we are on the phone with the bank immediately, trying to get our money back.  However, if we notice a bank error that gives us money, we are likely at home, crossing our fingers that no one notices.  We don't pick up the phone and say "Yes, excuse me, Chase Bank, you've credited my account an extra $125." Or, if we do, the response is nowhere near as immediate as if Chase Bank erroneously took $125 from the account.

Why is that okay?

There are a thousand answers, some of which might even make a compelling case for why it's okay to respond like that.  But, the truth of the matter is: it's not.  It's not okay.

If you are silent while an injustice is occurring (even if you benefit from it), you are no better (or at least not much better) than the person or entity perpetuating the injustice.

Or, at least, that's my perspective on this.  I'm still learning to speak out and up for myself--and hopefully someday I'll learn how to better do that for others.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Isla Vista and Systemic Misogyny (your wives, sisters, mothers,daughters).

With the awful news coming out of UCSB, there has been a lot of chatter. And many people have already expressed outrage and anger at all of the apologists out there. Of course, it is a sentiment that I wholeheartedly share.

For those unfamiliar, there are people blaming women for what this individual did-- basically saying that if only women had given him sex or love, this wouldn't have happened. 

When you break down the logic of these misogynists and rape culture perpetuators, it actually becomes really terrifying.

Let me just take a minute to explain what some people [mostly men] are ACTUALLY saying when they say that women are--at least partially, if not wholly--to blame for what happened in Isla Vista. They are saying the following:

Men are entitled to a woman's body, to sex from women, to affection from women-- otherwise this could happen. [this being murder]. Therefore, women have a responsibility to men to give them sex.

Women, by contrast, are not entitled to walk down the street alone, to get drunk at parties, to wear provocative clothing (all entitlements granted to men, I might add) --at least, they are not permitted to do so with the expectation of not being raped. 

Basically-- women are entitled to NOTHING. We are not entitled to the rights to our own bodies, we are not entitled to the right to our privacy, we are not entitled to even expect our own safety, let alone enjoy our own safety.

There was a study recently that demonstrated that when men look at scantily clad women, the part of their brains associated with tools lights up. That's right-- tools. Things that you use.  Objects. Their brains actually dehumanize them.

This is, of course, frightening. I have had many conversations with men who are content to tell me that men and women are biologically different, and sure. I admit that biological differences do exist. That's how there is procreation, after all. But to say that a biological difference is responsible for the way men view women as objects to be used rather than people to be respected is something I just can't (and won't) subscribe to. No, a biological difference is not responsible for men viewing women as objects to be used--it's that, in society, through government (you'll never win, unless you get the votes of women!), marketing ([attractive] women as tools to sell products),the entertainment industry ('hot' women in music videos to give the audience the idea of success)--men are taught that women are tools, that they are means to an [a man's] end, and that what they want doesn't  actually matter.

Recently, I came across a post on Facebook that said the following: 

"Some girls be [sic] complaining about having kids or having to buy certain things for there [sic] kids. Well a friend told me [redacted] that you can't get pregnant by swallowing, lol keep that in mind ladies."

Followed by a comment from [redacted] that said: "...anal works too plus with both they can't use its [sic] that time of the month shit either."

Because... Heaven forbid women should withhold the sexual gratification of males-- even during times when the lining of their uteruses are vacating their bodies, often causing great pain, the primary concern for a woman should be the pleasure of a male. (Not to mention that the burden of pregnancy prevention is entirely with the female). This, people, is what living in a society where women are treated as commodities produces: careless young men, who see women as present only for their needs or enjoyment. 

If you look at the society in which these things are happening (of course, these things happen all over the world to varying degrees, but for the purposes of this piece, I am concentrating on American culture), it becomes clear that the misogyny present--the misogyny that led this individual to commit these crimes, is systemic. We have never had a female president. Women in this country make 75 cents to every dollar that a man makes. There are few women in leadership positions in the Fortune 500 companies that wield so much power. Despite the fact that we are half of the population, we are treated as second class citizens.

1 in 6* women will be raped. 1 in 4* women will be victims of domestic violence (or relationship violence, etc.)--to think that these staggering numbers are unrelated to the fact that we reside in a society in which women are treated as prizes, as commodities, and as tools for sexual gratification, for marketing, for men to use-- is a gross oversight. 

When thinking of women as tools, it is important to understand the role marketing plays. Specifically, Carl's Jr. commercials come to mind-- we never see a toned, muscular firefighter with a six pack eating a burger by himself, ketchup falling off his burger onto his hardened pectoral muscle as he swiped it up with his finger, and licks it off with a seductive gaze into the camera. 

No. That role is always played by women. In fact, there was a commercial like that with a woman as the star during this years Super Bowl, one of the most watched television events in the entire world. Carl's Jr. paid millions of dollars to place an add objectifying women (because that somehow sells burgers?) that was downright uncomfortable to watch with my father, brother, and grandfather sitting in the same room. 

What message does this send to people watching? Both men and women can see that clearly women exist for the visual gratification of men--and if you can sell a few burgers in the process, why not.

It may seem like I've gotten off topic, but that's kind of the point: I haven't. It's systemic-- men are taught by society (namely other men, as they are the ones usually in charge of government, advertising, financing), that women are objects to be used. 

And if a woman will not allow you to use her. If she asks you to think of her as anything more than a sex object, or marketing tool, then she is to be condemned and hated. She is a bitch. Or she is a prude. Or she is any number of negative things.

Let me just get freaky for a second: the only responsibility we, as women have, is to ourselves. The only person who can use us as a tool is ourself. 

We are not looking to outsource the ownership of our bodies, our desire, our selves. You have done that enough for us already.

So, who is to blame for the shooting? The shooter. And society. And the men who stand idly by as women are used and abused and made to feel Less Than. The men who sit idly by saying women should give sex, that women can't wear provocative clothes and still expect to maintain the right to their own bodies. The men who sit idly by and say and do these things without realizing that women are their wives, their sisters, their mothers, their daughters. Or worse, ones who do realize and sit idly by.

I am reminded of a spoken word poem by Andrea Gibson about rape that ends like this:

"She's not asking what you're going to tell your daughters--she's asking what you're going to teach your sons."

So, teach your sons that a woman doesn't owe anyone but herself any damn thing. And that's just a starting point.

*these statistics are constantly in flux, and it's impossible to know the true numbers because crimes of this nature are largely underreported. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary...

Contrary (adj.): 2. Perversely inclined to disagree or to do the opposite of what is expected or desired. 

Does this ever happen to anyone else?

You're scrolling your Facebook feed, and all the sudden you see it. You see something with which you do not wholly agree!

What do you do?  Do you keep on scrolling, finding things and pictures of cute babies/pets to 'like'?  That would be the wise thing, wouldn't it?  It would keep you from rustling any feathers with your hundreds of acquaintances and their acquaintances. But, then, no one would know how you Feel!

And that, you decide, would be an absolute travesty--a tragedy in its highest measure!  So, you don't scroll, do you?  No.  You click 'comment' and let your opinion be known!

And then in five minutes, the owner of the post comments, and five minutes after that you offer your rebuttal and so on and so forth, etc., etc., forever and ever amen. Then, people you don't even know start chiming in, usually to 'stick up' for their friend, though sometimes to agree with you, which stretches the comment boxes even further down the page.  It seemingly never ends, until one of you forgets about it, or gets too busy to reply/debate/condescend.

Okay, so I posed a rhetorical question at the beginning of this entry, but I already know the answer.  It DOES sometimes happen to you, because it happens on my statuses quite frequently, unless I post some poetic lyric or quote, and even then, sometimes it does.

But, I often find myself commenting on things I don't really care about.  For instance, this past Columbus Day, several people were posting anti-Columbus sentiments, and apparently I just couldn't let it go.

Now, let me be clear: I don't care one way or the other about Columbus.  I'm not some pro-Columbus groupie who thinks we should all celebrate and bake cakes in honor of the man that was Columbus.  No, I don't each year have a Columbus party where you must dress up as the Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria or Columbus himself, or be subjected to ridicule.  Neither, I imagine, do most people

My relationship with Columbus Day goes this far:
1) Awesome! I have the day off work/school!  I'm going to sleep in, then spend all day lounging in my PJs and not wash my hair all day!
2) Man!  I wish I had Columbus Day off of school/work!  I totally need to sleep in, then spend all day lounging in my PJs and not wash my hair all day!

That's it.  Those are the two sentiments I have ever had in my entire life about Columbus Day.  And yet, here I was on Columbus Day 2013, feeling compelled to put my two-cents in on anti-Columbus day posts.  (For reference, my argument was: okay, why not boycott Thanksgiving, etc.?  Also, making an appearance was the argument that people don't really 'celebrate' Columbus Day, along with a cameo by the fact that Columbus was Italian or Spanish or whatever, and therefore the crimes and atrocities he committed were in Italy's or Spain's name, not the U.S.)

What compelled me?  I'm not sure.  In fact, I'm never sure.  Nor am I sure what compels the multitude of people that must comment on my statuses where I express opinions.  I've even gotten better about it... sometimes, whilst scrolling, I just roll my eyes, and move on to the next dog video.

But, when I do it, when I break down and comment on someone else's opinion post, with my contrary opinion that [usually] doesn't mean that much to me, and sometimes even when I manage to avoid it, I can't help but wonder 'why?'

And, I'm certainly not the only one.  Don't get me wrong, there are things I feel passionate about and feel the need to speak out over. In some instances, I've even deleted facebook friends over it (that's a story for a different blog).  But, for the most part, it's trivial stuff that doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things--stuff that doesn't really hold a place in my Top Ten Things I Care About. And I know it has to be the same for other people, because sometimes the things people take issue with on my status updates are extraordinarily trivial.  So, the question remains: 'why?'

Does it have to do with the fact that most of us are no longer in school?  School, for me, was a place where I could answer questions, feel knowledgeable about something, or express my opinion (especially in college, this was the case).  Now that I no longer have that, is it causing me to reach out in some unexplainable oftentimes annoying way via Facebook?  I'm not sure, but it sounds like a legitimate argument.  Is it that I no longer have a valid place to express my opinions/thoughts/ideas that leads me to the comment section on your Facebook post?  Is it what leads you to mine?  Do we just want to be heard?

What do you think?

If this is what is causing this phenomenon (that I have so expertly named 'being contrary simply to be contrary')--Don't worry, my friends, I hear you!  Your comments annoy me sometimes (as I'm certain mine do you), but I hear you nonetheless!

For the most part, I stick to quotes I like from novels or songs, or pictures/stories of my dog Cash and his escapades.  But, now and again, I'll express an opinion about say, cilantro... and you know what I say when I am watching the loading bar at the top of my page, Facebook friends?  Bring it on.

Because if we can't debate about a vegetable or holiday or which fast food restaurant has the best french fries (it's McDonald's, by the way,), then I just don't know what the world has even come to.

Peace, love, debate, and cilantro, my friends.

And healthy teeth.  Another thing to debate about: GoFundMe pages! I've created one for Cash, whose dental work will be extensive-- if you don't want to, or can't afford to donate, I totally understand--but every dollar helps ease the burden: Cash's Pearly Whites

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I Was Bullied by a Teacher: Giving Educators What They Deserve

I want to take a moment today to talk about teachers.  There's been a lot of debate going around over the last few years about teachers, their rates of pay, their worth, their impact. One side says that teachers are waaaaay underpaid, that they work extraordinarily hard and receive very little in return. And, another side argues that teachers are paid perfectly well because they don't do that much anyway.

As with most things, there is, of course, more to it than that. But, that's the general break down of it.

I tend to side with the former camp-- teachers do a lot for children and young adults every single day.  To ignore that is to ignore the fact that many of us are likely where we are today because of teachers, even if it is just one, that has impacted our lives. Sometimes, in no small way.  I've read so many stories about teachers saving a kid's life--or helping a kid get back on the right path, helping kids go to college, when no one else thought that would an impossibility.  Teachers providing inspiration where there is none.

The same people who critique teachers and how "little they do," are the same people who got into college with the help of a teacher or two by way of a letter of recommendation.

In my life, I've had some amazing teachers, that's for sure.  

Mrs. Collier was my first grade teacher at Box Springs Elementary School in Moreno Valley, CA circa 1992.  This woman inspired in me a deep love and passion for reading.  My mom had always encouraged me to read, but Mrs. Collier really took it to the next level.  I can't even recall how, but I know for a fact that it was in her class that I learned the power of a book, and how magical it was to get lost in one.  It was in her class that I read 100 books in one quarter.  That's right, one quarter (not semester).  This is also probably around the time my mom would beg me to go outside and play, and I would insist that I just wanted to read. I remember absolutely devouring Ann M. Martin's The Babysitter Club Little Sister books.  (Despite what the Barnes and Noble cashier said, I know these books exist [i still have some of them], and they were centered around a little sister (step sister, I believe) named Karen to one of the girls in the Babysitter's Club, though I can't remember which one).  Anyway, Mrs. Collier inspired me to become a voracious reader who, in 9th grade, would read before the morning class began, while everyone else chatted.  She inspired a love of reading that still exists to this day--and which likely led me to major in English, and go on to receive my Master's in the same subject.

Yes, I have indeed been lucky to have some amazing teachers who inspired me and really taught me a lot.

In middle school, there was Mrs. Blakemore--she taught science with such passion, that I couldn't wait to go to her class every day (and not simply to pet the class bunny named Darla), Mr. McMahon, Mrs. Kent, Mr. Branstetter (who had more faith in me than I did in myself when it came to math), and Mrs. Jennings.

In high school, my very first teacher on my very first day of class was Mr. Kossak.  He remained a part of my life all through high school, acting as a second father to me.  I still keep in contact with him, and I am thankful for the leadership he gave me back then.

There was also Mrs. Nagy, Mrs. Lofquist, Mr. Williams, Mr. Karlan, and Mrs. Williams (who insisted, after I came to her class after the Senior AP test that I was sure I had failed ["I'll be lucky if I even get a 3!"] that she would be surprised if I didn't get at least a 4. [I got a 5--not without the assistance of Mrs. Nagy, Mrs. Lofquist, and Mrs. Williams, who spent years fostering a further understanding of and passion for the English language/written word]).

In college, I was so lucky to work with amazing professors like Heather King, Claudia Ingram, Fran Grace, Anne Cavender, Ralph Angel, Bill Rocque, Karen Derris, Emily Culpepper, and a myriad of other professors who were so brilliant and passionate about what they do. The University of Redlands was the absolute best place for me, as an undergraduate.  In Grad School, Brad Campbell, John Hampsey, and Kevin Smith proved to be great resources in furthering my studies.

All of these people have inspired me in one way or another--many of them still continue to inspire me, even now.

But, unfortunately, there is another side to this story.  While I have been extremely lucky to have these fabulous instructors in my life, all of whom fostered my love of learning in one way or another, I have had some bad terrible teachers. 

I feel like this notion of a bad teacher falls into one of two categories: it is of the awful, news-making, our kids are not safe variety.  Or, it is of the quiet kind--some sort of nebulous idea of a bad teacher, but no one really knows what it consists of (not following a lesson plan/appropriate curriculum, sitting at the desk eating donuts/jack in the box, 'read the book' as a lesson, showing up but not caring, etc.).  Yes, everything in the parenthetical might be said of a 'bad teacher,' but an actual bad teacher can be so much worse than that--can be so much more damaging than that. 

My story happened before the invention of cellphones with cameras in them--I know, it seems like a lifetime ago now.  But, it was the late 90s, and I was in the 6th grade (Middle School at Elsinore Middle School went from 6-8 grade).  I was excited, I was nervous, I was a bit green, I was scared, and I was insecure.

First, though, a little about me prior to entering the 6th grade: as you might have guessed based upon my previous exaltation of Mrs. Collier, I was an extremely good student.  I got straight A's pretty much throughout elementary school, and scored in the top percentile on my standardized tests.  

So, imagine the surprise of my parents when, in sixth grade, I started bringing home D's, instead of A's. I was going through a rough time with some friendships (perhaps another blog for another day), but the crux of the problem was this: I was being bullied by a teacher.

I know, I know--there's this thing going around about how millennials are so spoiled, and we got a trophy for everything, and it was always the teacher's fault... and no.  It is not always the teacher's fault.  Believe me, I get that.  However, to say it is never the teacher's fault would also be an inaccuracy.  Because, in my two first period classes (Language Arts, and another subject at which I had previously excelled), I began pulling the lowest grades I'd ever seen--and, it turns out, I would ever see again.  And it wasn't my fault.

For whatever reason, Ms. Jackson had decided that she didn't like me.  To this day, I cannot tell you why.  But, at 10-11 years old, I was bullied by my sixth grade teacher, a grown woman, for an entire school year.  She would make me feel stupid for asking questions in class, she would not call on me if I raised my hand to answer a question, and eventually she began to belittle me in front of the entire class.  For some reason, back then, I had this odd habit of talking in a baby voice-- I'm not sure why, but she chastised me for it in front of the whole class.  I was stunned, and always one to easily cry, I had to sit there and fight back the tears, as my classmates snickered around me.  The progress report came to the house, and my parents were completely shocked.  They had never seen grades like that from me before.  

Concerned, my mom called Ms. Jackson, and my mom told this teacher that she didn't understand--how had I gone from getting straight A's in elementary school, to getting D's in her courses?

Ms. Jackson said that that happened a lot with students from my elementary school.  They came in extremely behind, and etc., etc., etc.  Went from straight A's to D's and F's.

At one point during the school year, we had to do a book report on a book of our choosing-- we could choose any project to do at the summation of reading our selected book.  Some students did a diorama, some students did a report, etc.  For my project, I decided I was going to be unique and do an "Interview With the Author."  Of course, I couldn't really interview the author, but I made the report like I was a journalist asking the author questions about her book--it was creative, and it showed that I had read the book.  I even used information from the 'About the Author' page regarding where the author lived, etc.  I took some liberties, sure, but right on the cover page of the report I had written "An Interview with the Author" (Fiction) By: Natalie McDonald.  I received an F.

Then, came the parent-teacher conference, where Ms. Jackson told my parents how terrible I was doing--how the work I was turning in was completely sub-par.  "Like this," Ms. Jackson said, waving my book report around, "What is this?  I can't tell what this is--did she actually interview the author?!"

My mom responded by taking the report from her, and pointing out where I had clearly marked it as 'fiction.' My final grades in both of those classes were D's.

To this day, they are the only D's I have ever received.  After I got out of Ms. Jackson's class, I entered 7th grade, and was met with some brand new teachers--any guesses at what my grades were that year?  Yes. Straight A's.  I was not, as Ms. Jackson claimed, "way behind" the other students in my grade.  In 8th grade, one letter dominated my report card: A.

I still don't know why Ms. Jackson hated me so--I don't think I'll ever know.  Bad grades would have been one thing, they didn't ask me on my college applications what grades I got in 6th grade Language Arts class, but the actual thing that Ms. Jackson did was publicly humiliate a 10 year old girl in front of her peers because she arbitrarily decided she didn't like her.  Or, I don't know, maybe she had a really good reason, I'll never know.  Either way, her actions weren't appropriate.

This is the first time I am telling this story in a public forum, and I am doing so for a very specific reason. The number of good teachers I have had far outweighs the number of bad teachers I've had (I've had more than one, but Ms. Jackson went above and beyond), but no one seems to talk about the bad unless it is in the extreme (teachers committing crimes, etc.).  Ms. Jackson could have done far worse damage to me than she did.  And I am extraordinarily lucky to have parents who believed me--who didn't just think that I was blaming my poor performance on a teacher to get out of accepting responsibility for my behavior.  As far as I know, Ms. Jackson was never held accountable for what she did to me--and I can only hope that she didn't do it to anyone else, either.

My grades suffered that year, my self-esteem and self-worth suffered that year, my psyche suffered that year--and that was due, in large part, to Ms. Jackson.  Luckily, I was able to pull myself out of it the very next year--others might not have been so lucky.  The truth of the matter is this: bad teachers are dangerous.  Which brings me back to the beginning of this post--bad teachers are dangerous, which is why it is absolutely imperative that we treat the good ones in the manner that they deserve.

Obviously, this is still something I think about from time to time, and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a traumatic experience.  But, the truth of the matter is: it hasn't impacted my life in the slightest. 

So, Theresa Jackson, wherever you are, despite your best efforts circa 1997-98, at Elsinore Middle School in Lake Elsinore, California, your behavior and actions had absolutely no impact on my life whatsoever.

And to everyone else mentioned in this blog: thank you.  Without ever knowing my story, every single year you helped reaffirm that it was okay to trust teachers, a sentiment I lost a little bit in the late 90s.