Saturday, August 30, 2014

This is your brain on better PSAs...

Mix Bakeshop
Hibiscus Tea

It's a hopping downtown Saturday night, and I'm trying to think what I want to blog about... Alright, then...

Public Service Announcements, it shall be!

I remember when they introduced the "This is your brain on drugs..." PSA in earnest.  I think, even then, I knew it was ripe for mockery.  Oh, and the classic, "I learned it from watching you!"  I've never done drugs, but I never thought either of those would be a compelling argument to convince someone to stop, or never begin, doing drugs.  So what would?

How about show all the deplorable things the drug trade has caused, culminating with the flood of refugee children pouring across our southern border.  And then remind that middle-class, suburban, white kid (not exclusively, of course) that that shit only happens because they are paying for it.  People are dying and worse, governments have collapsed, all because Americans are willing to buy the drugs that these vicious cartels are pushing.  Put that in someone's face everyday - make that the decision they have to make.  Not, do they indulge in this taboo thing that they think feels great, or listen to people smacking an egg around, saying, "Drugs are bad, mmkay."  But, do they participate in this system that destroys whole countries and murders even children.

Maybe throw in some numbers for some hotlines at the end for help quitting, or help with depression, or social services in your area to address whatever real crap might be driving you towards the escape of drug use.  Just not something else that insults our intelligence.

It's not that I want to see more "downer" PSAs.  All those starving kid commercials, and abused animal commercials - they just make me uncomfortable and depressed and angry about being poor.  Here's what I would like to see...

Instead of showing little brown kids with flies scooping up nasty water with plastic buckets, start in an American city.  In some busy downtown setting, set up a series of stalls like a mini artisans market.  Put up a sign at the beginning that reads "Things you can buy for $20" and have real people walk through...

The first stall looks empty, until you spy the two movie ticket stubs on a little stool.  In the second one is a cup-carrier full with four drinks, and maybe a dollar in a tip jar next to it.  A few more stalls with single or few items, maybe half items, a single shoe...  And then they reach the last stall - and it's full.  A packed larder, stacks of sacks of rice... or maybe just a month's worth of bowls for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  And finally a sign with the organization's name, and a reminder that there's a lot of things you can do with $20, but not all of them can end someone's hunger for a month.

That would be a lot easier to digest.

I guess that's all for tonight folks.  Please, offer up PSA ideas that might actually get you to donate, to stop smoking, to "go green," whatever...  Thanks!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Other people get mani-pedis - I get mini-panis.

12oz Soy Mocha

Can I do a 20 minute blog?  Sure!  Micro-blog!  I feel like I have described all this before, but I cannot recall ever blogging about it, so here we go...

I only learned the term "mani-pedi" fairly recently, because I am not much of a girly-girly (nor a metro-sexual, for that matter).  I've never had a manicure, nor a pedicure.  But I do get what I have come to call "mini-panis" (though, I'm not overly fond of the spelling - looks too much like... ya know...).  A mini-pani is like a junior panic attack.

It's not a full-blown panic attack, with the hyperventilating and the crying and that feeling like your chest is going to seize up like an overheated engine, unable to allow you to take in a full life-giving breath.  A mini-pani is the precursor to the big thing.  It's the agitated state where breath is getting tight, shallow, and I start getting manic.  I start clicking link after link to distract myself from the full-on freak-out floating just to the surface.  If I stop playing Tetris or Sudoku till the 2 or 3 in the morning, then I might have to look at that Thing, the Trigger that is going to set off the hysteria associated with dealing with it.  Or, I guess, not dealing with it.

Like ants.  God, I hate ants.  For whatever reason, ants are my trauma-trigger.  I don't want to diminish those dealing with severe PTSD, but all the anxiety bound up in my childhood poverty is launched forth at the sight of an ant trail.  The other day, we had an explosion of ant scouts in the apartment (seemingly, related to a recent thunderstorm), and I started manically scrubbing the kitchen, well past midnight, trying to head them off.  But they kept coming.  In the bathroom, too.  There were ants in the diaper drawer.

That was the point where the full-on panic attack broke loose.

But up until that point, while I was still in battle-mode, I was battling, too, the shaking agitation of barely holding it together.  And sometimes I do hold it together, and things calm down.  I can uncurl, uncoil the beast.  It takes a while.  It takes a conscious effort and all those good techniques years of (intermittent) therapy and introspection have taught me.  But it can be done.

So, if you are dealing with anxiety, yourself, or especially if you are helping someone who is dealing with it, understand this as the moment of divergence.  Watch yourself, or your loved one, for the signs - the agitation, the change in breathing, the wide or fixed eyes.  Know this as the moment to initiate whatever techniques work, whether it's disengaging or fully confronting whatever the fear is.  And the fear is often something hidden well behind whatever is actually taking place at present.

Dealing with anxiety is a two-fold process.  First, is trying to practice the larger picture stuff that brings down your anxiety base-line, like eating well, sleeping enough, and getting your exercise and meditation - your burn-off, and your cool-down.  The second is knowing what to do in the moment.  And, of course, trying to unravel or address underlying causes of the anxiety.  But in the moment, don't be afraid of the feelings, themselves, when they arise.  Go with it - do what needs to be done for the moment.

And most importantly, remember that the moment will end, and you will feel something else again.

Time's up!

No edits.  I'm out.

Monday, August 18, 2014

We're all made of alphabet soup.

Home, again, Home, again.
Peppermint Chamomile Tea
Yeasty Popcorn

I'm blogging early this week because I suspect I may not get my Out Day this weekend.  Appointments, sick kiddos, that kind of thing going on...  Plus, I need to write tonight, and this is more productive - for all mankind - than getting sucked into Facebook.

And when I say, "I need to write," I mean it.  It calms my brain.  I usually have a journal at the ready, but that has fallen off lately and is too frequently interrupted during the day to be effective.  I feel the difference when I don't get to write.  I need it.  I have written without light, without a pen, using fingers upon the bedsheets, or even upon the air.

That's just how my mind works, one of its quirks...  Maybe there's a label for it.  Depression, anxiety, I know, but maybe a little OCD, too.  I know I have what they call a "ruminating" mind.  As in, I think too much, about everything, all the time.  But is there a more specific diagnosis to be made?  And how many people qualify for some term of medical distinction?

There's a hazard in finding the term that describes you.  As much as it can be comforting to validate your feelings of being abnormal, it can also become your identity.  It can limit your view of yourself, your expectations for yourself, and hinder your personal progress.  And it can do the same when others know you by your diagnosis.  Oh, that's Phil, who's autistic...

When you think about it, that's kind of like saying, Oh, that's Phil, who is thumbs...  We all have thumbs, generally speaking.  We all have brains.  We don't need to put the characteristics of each feature in front of our interactions with the person.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for having a diagnosis, for knowing the lay of the land.  Whenever you interact with anyone, you can't know exactly what you're going to get, but you can have certain reasonable expectations.  But with someone with a mental illness, you could get something drastically unexpected.  So, there's value in being able to calibrate your expectations accordingly, if you are given the opportunity.

And that's our biggest challenge with our son, Henry.  We don't have a diagnosis for his quirks, which leaves us wandering almost blind in dark territory.  To outsiders, he usually looks like a perfectly normal (and especially adorable) 4 year-old.  Even his outbursts likely strike most people as typical 4 year-old tantrums.  Often, when I try to explain his behavior, people don't take me too seriously: "Sounds like a toddler to me!"

But Henry is not quite right.

We were almost lucky that he had speech delays because it got us in the system early.  By the time of his 2-year check-up, he only used about a dozen words, though he should have had about 50 by then.  That got us a referral for an evaluation through the school system, and Henry started meeting with an early intervention teacher.

From the first day, when she showed him how to sign the word "more," his language started taking off.  Not only did he master the signed words quickly, but his spoken words increased.  He progressed so much that by his next evaluation, he didn't quite qualify for more services.  But his teacher advocated for him, saying she felt like he needed a little more help.  She knew something was still a little off.  We had spoken about autism and she said she didn't think that was it, but he was still pretty young.  As she put it, there were indicators, but there were counter-indicators.

Henry is very smart.  He picked up his alphabet and his numbers way earlier than most kids.  He likes patterns, for things to be a certain way - but only so much.  He gets obsessive about things - oh dear god, the doors!  Music and sounds are particularly appealing, we discovered.  He can become super-focused on something, or listen to the same song, or even the same sound, for extended periods of time.  Hours, if we let him.  But he can be affectionate and compassionate and will make eye-contact, unlike most autistic kids.

But how he interacts is... a little off.  He still does "parallel play" where he's playing around other kids but doesn't really play with them.  He interacts better with Oliver, but it's usually Oliver who's directing play.  The other day, a little girl from the apartment complex looked Henry square in the eye and asked, "Do you want to play with us?"  Henry didn't answer her.  He wandered away like no one was there.

[Intermission:  It's midnight... Oliver woke up... he coughed, he chatted, he had some juice, he threw up the juice, he asked for a cup of fruit... now he's curled up on the edge of the little bed waiting for Mommy to get off the computer.  This is why I don't blog from home.]

What has become most obviously "off," though, is Henry's lack of questions.  As Oliver, who will be 3 in less than three months, has become more verbose (he has always been way ahead of other kids his age), it has become apparent what Henry is not doing.  It came home for me when, as my husband went banging and cursing around the kitchen, Oliver asked me, "Is Daddy okay?  Does Daddy have a boo-boo?"  Henry doesn't do that.  He will ask if he needs permission for something - "Can I have the MobiGo?" - but I can't think of him ever asking exploratory questions like, "Where are we going?" or "Why does it do that?"

But our biggest problem is dealing with Henry's emotions.  Oliver will protest and pitch a fit for something he wants.  Henry gets hysterical.  Seriously, he looks like he's having a panic attack sometimes.  And often, he's freaking out over something like wanting me to help him with a puzzle he can already do by himself.  If I say that I have to do dishes right now, he will pull me toward the puzzle table and repeat, "No!  You have to match!" - not with a headstrong toddler look, but with a look of great anxiety.  The day before he put the puzzle together, start to finish, by himself.  But once he gets it in his mind that I need to help him, he can't move forward until I do.  Sometimes all I need to do is match two pieces and then he will take over and finish the rest on his own.  But if he's in that particular mindset, and I insist on my "no," he may likely scream and cry, or become violent and hit his brother - and he will not let it go.  He will shut down, unable to move on with the puzzle on his own, or unable to move on to some other toy.

And most disturbingly, in his nervousness, he hurts himself.  He chews his nails (I heard the audible 'snap' tonight, when he thought he saw a fly in his bed), and he will even give himself little cuts by pinching his skin with what's left of his nails.  All over his body, but especially on his fingers, there are little red sores from him doing this.

So what's wrong with him?  Autism Spectrum?  Anxiety disorder?  ADHD?  OCD?  There's a whole alphabet soup floating around him.  We just want to know what we're dealing with.

We may not be responsible for the topography of Henry's mind - he was born with that.  But the way we deal with Henry, the way we interact - whether we yell, or encourage, or soothe, and show him how to manage his strong emotions - helps to cultivate the landscape of his mind.  We are carving out roads, planting trees and far too few flowers, laying the foundations for what his mind will become.  This is true with any person, but some minds will always require special care and attention.

[Two days later: Out Day.  Mix Bakeshop.  16oz Soy Chai.]


Like I said before, while it's nice to have a diagnosis to illuminate the detour signs, the warnings - "There be dragons here!" - in the end, we have to let people chart their own course and be whoever they are going to be.  No diagnosis can decide who they are unless they - and we - let it.  After all, no "normal" person is exactly like any other "normal" person, so why would we expect someone with an alphabet soup brain to be exactly like anyone else, even someone with the same letters floating in their bowl?  And is there such a thing as a "normal" person, anyway?  I think we've all got some flavor of alphabet soup swirling around upstairs.

For my money, given his love of music and repetition, I think Henry's letters are going to end up being DJ.

Maybe DJ Spews-a-lot.... ;)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Remember that what you're doing is absurd

Sans coffee

In honor of a dear old friend becoming a new parent (of twins!) this week, I thought I would compile some of the unsolicited parenting advice I threw at him, plus some other stuff I remembered afterward.

1.  "Neh" is the hungry cry.  There are other cries that all newborns share - the tired cry, the gassy cry - but that was the most useful one for me.  Go to YouTube for examples.

2.  ShamWow, my firends.  ShamWow.

3.  If someone's parenting advice feels wrong, it probably is.  For you, anyway.

4.  While it is true that every pregnancy/newborn is different, knowing that doesn't really help you when you're new to all this.  Just ask at what temperature/symptom/frequency-or-consistency-of-poop do you call the doctor.

5.  Write it down.  Your memory will be bad even when it's working, so jot down anything and everything somewhere handy.

6.  WebMD will be your greatest frenemy.

7.  Have no ambition beyond sleep-eat-poop.  If you think you can get something done, you almost certainly won't, and this will only depress you.  Give up on trying for as long as you need to.

8.  You are not ready for this level of tired.  You might think you know sleep dep - I sure do!  But you really don't understand the dangerous level of fatigue you will be slogging through for the next several weeks to months.  After my second child, I actually went to the dollar store and bought a pair of readers because I thought my eyesight was starting to go.  I was just that tired.

9.  Walk away when you need to.  Sometimes you will never understand why the baby is crying - or why you're crying - and the best thing to do is put the child somewhere safe while you go outside and contemplate your mailbox.

10.  Remember that what you're doing is absurd.  We live in a bizarre society where we are not immersed in extended family and lifelong friends, living with us or within shouting distance.  In a more "primitive" situation, we would never be parenting alone.  There would be a host of loved ones stepping in to help you raise the child.  They would be there to watch the child, entertain it, while you got some extra sleep or had a bath or deigned to pick up something.  We would never be left for half the day or more alone with a little person who needed so very much.  Even having two parents with only one working is biologically ridiculous to accomplish the task at hand.  So keep that in mind, and look to ways to diffuse the stress throughout the day.  Make a phone tree of friends and family to call every day, throughout the day, just to help you laugh.  It really is medicine to the mind and body.  And, hopefully, they will stop by sometimes, too, to bring you coffee and do the dishes.

One more special note about breastfeeding.  All the recent medical information available nowadays is vindicating those dirty, savage hippies who thought "breast is best."  Turns out, it really is.  Babies who've been breastfed have better health outcomes, physically and mentally, throughout their lives.  It's beneficial for the mother, too, physically and mentally.  (It did wonders for dropping my dress size, too - bonus!).  In America, the recommendation is to breastfeed for at least one year - this is why WIC will provide vouchers for breastfeeding moms through the child's first year.  And the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends two years of breastfeeding, if possible.  Advocates encourage even longer, if you can.  (We're not talking Game of Thrones longer - but to a couple of years old seems to be just fine).

That being said, if a mom chooses not to breastfeed, we need to support her just as much as we need to support moms who decide to breastfeed.  There are a number of reasons a woman might choose not to or be unable to breastfeed, and no one should judge or shame her because of that.  Plus, formula has come a long way and is a better substitute than it was 50 or 60 years ago, when breastfeeding was stigmatized.  Part of the push behind the breastfeeding movement today is to overcome that old stigma, as well as the continuing sexualization of breasts to the point where moms are prevented from nursing in public, or - more distressingly - women feel uncomfortable nursing their newborns.  When women are made to feel like doing the most natural and important things for themselves and their baby is wrong - that's a big, damn problem.

So, this is why we need to be culturally accepting of a mother's choice, and personally helpful wherever we can.  Just making mom a sandwich, keeping her hydrated, rubbing her back, can make a world of difference.  We can also do a lot socially.  Oregon is one of the more progressive states when it comes to supporting moms, including protecting public nursing, having employers provide breaks for a working breastfeeding mom to pump, as well as a sanitary and private location to do it.  No, bathrooms are not acceptable.

And let's just take a moment to love on the dads.  Dads can share all the tasks and emotions that moms get, though the execution of some things might have to be modified.

And let's also give some love and respect to all those who don't have kids, and maybe won't.  You are loved, too, and there's no need to feel left out if you want to come in.  There's a place for everyone in a child's or parent's life.

Okay, there are books and books of advice out there, and my brain still has not recovered from the sleep dep even though my youngest is almost three.  But I will leave you all with one last thought...

11.  Come graduation, they won't remember any of this.

Oh, look at that!

The boys just got home and Henry just threw up... on a ShamWow.  Laundry time!

(Did I mention...?  12. Something's always wet.)

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Ballad of Buttonwillow

Mix Bakeshop
Soy Cappuccino
Anise Shortbread
Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Cookie

It's storytime with Chandra!

Someone asked about a reference I made a little while ago to Buttonwillow, and why I always stop there when I drive up or down I-5.  So cast your minds back 17 years ago (yikes!) to June of 1997...  Graduation night...

For graduation, my mother gave me a AAA membership, which came with four free tows and four free tire changes.  This was a wise gift since my car - my first, my baby, my freedom - was a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle.  It was house paint green and primer grey, with the red and white of previous paint jobs showing through in places.  It was perfectly complete with duct tape and bondo, a driver side window that was permanently cracked open about an inch - no more, no less - and an oil leak.  In fact, when I had first driven it up to my friend's house, all of my male friends had converged around it, and before I had said a word, they asked, "Okay, other than the oil leak, what's wrong with it?"  They warned me to run the heater to pull the hot air from the engine (intensely uncomfortable advice for summertime in southern California) so it wouldn't overheat, and they forbade me from driving more than 100 miles because "something" would happen.

My car had a 9-ball topper for a gear shift, and it was officially named Robespierre, because I had originally called it Turtle, and that's kind of long story why those two names are connected and involves an animated Judy Garland movie.  To everyone else, it was known as RoadTrip.  Roady, for short.

Back to graduation...

I had a pathetically quiet grad night.  I had been named my class's valedictorian, which was a total surprise to me.  They announced my future plans to go to Cabrillo College to study math and become an actuary.  (This was before I understood that an actuary is basically a person who figures out the likelihood of your demise for insurance companies.  That was not the way it had been described to me at the time.).  And I looked stunning that night under my cap and gown, and that's saying something.  I was finally getting happy with my body, now that my adult curves had come in and things had balanced out.  But I spent my night alone at Denny's, after I had said good-bye to family and a few friends.  Writing.  And anxious to leave town.

But I had to wait four more days till my childhood best friend, T (I shall call her), had graduated from her high school.  As I said before, my friends advised me to never travel more than a hundred miles at a time, so they simply refused to let me travel the four hundred miles from the ass-end of the Inland Empire (no one called it the I.E., in my day) up north to Santa Cruz, alone.  So, hours after T's graduation, we threw some stuff in my car, made several last minute additions and adjustments, and headed north to freedom.

At 18, my biggest fear was getting stuck.  Getting stuck in that godsforsaken desert of southern California, getting stuck in poverty, getting stuck somewhere in some situation without the ability to rescue myself.  I was desperate to escape.  All I wanted was to move home - to cool weather and redwoods and the taste of saltwater in the air - and to go to school.  If I could just get through school, get my degree, then I would not be doomed to be poor forever.

It was the middle of the night, creeping up the Grapevine Pass in the same lane as the semis, blasting the "Great, Great Road Tape" on my little portable tape player, trying to out-howl the wind coming through my perpetually open window.  We decided to press on past Gorman since we had gotten such a late start.  We would stop in Buttonwillow, as my older brother had advised.  He had some superstition about stopping there after certain roadtrip misadventures of his own.

We descended the Pass, still in the dead of night, into California's great Central Valley.  We skipped the first town, Metler.  We were only 30 miles from Buttonwillow, and the slow climb had set our time back even further.

Fifteen miles out from Buttonwillow, I blew a tire.

In the dark of night, along one of the most heavily traveled interstates in America, T and I walked to an emergency phone and called AAA.  Thank you, Mom.  AAA sent a tow truck.  My spare was not only flat, but the frame was smashed.  We got towed back to Metler.  The sun was hinting at its arrival.  I watched giant oil jacks undulate against the perfect shade of blue sky.

When we got to the garage, the driver pulled out his one and only tire that would fit my car.  T pointed out that it was cracked all over.  The driver gave us the tire for free and told us to get a new one as soon as we got to the next town.  T and I gassed up the car, got some nibbles, and got back on the 5.

We talked it over - I had almost no money to make this trip.  I had been working as a math tutor and as a "boothie" at the local Renaissance Faire, so I had scrounged together just enough for gas and food, round trip.  We decided to take it easy and try to make it on the bad tire.  And having just gassed up in Metler, we drove past Buttonwillow without stopping.  That was my brother's superstition, anyway.

A mile past Buttonwillow we blew the sketchy tire.

Second free tow used.  Second free tire change used.  This tire was good, though, and set me back $65.  I think it was the second check I had ever written.  We dined at the Denny's in Buttonwillow, and got back on the now morning-bright road.

Less than two miles past Buttonwillow, I noticed I was having trouble passing cars.  Since I knew the next major town was 60 miles north (Coalinga, land of the cow internment camp), I took the next overpass and headed back to Buttonwillow.  The owner of the garage was on his lunch, but he graciously took my car for a quick test drive.

"Yep!  Your transmission's going."

T and I drove into town and called my brother.  Before I can say anything, he asks, "How far'd you get?"


"Okay, be there in three hours."

I parked Roady at a gas station with a note promising my imminent return.  Then T and I checked into a cheap hotel room to wait out the next few hours.  While T was in the shower, I called a friend, who asked which room I was in.  "Isn't that the one where the murder happened?"

T and I got dressed up and played cards.  Three hours later, we wedged our stuff and ourselves into my brother's pick-up and headed back to evil, vile, fucking SoCal.

The next day, when I should have been in Santa Cruz getting registered and advancing my life, I was instead back home with my then sister-in-law and my niece, in full mope.  We were listening to the radio.  They called out the license plate of someone sporting the radio station's bumper sticker.  Some lucky person had won tickets to see Blues Traveler.  Woo-hoo, for you.


But after an hour, they still had not called, so the station offered up the tickets to caller number 10.  Why not?  I called.

I won.

I don't win.  Whenever something is winnable, I do the opposite.  But I won.  I didn't care that the concert was in August during my first week of school 400 miles away and that I didn't have a car that was likely to get out of Buttonwillow, let alone make another 800 mile round trip.  I won something.

So, come August, I cut my classes, borrowed my aunt's car, picked-up my sister, and (after a nap) we headed to the Greek Theater to see Blues Traveler.  Joan Osbourne was the opening act.  She was awesome.  And in the time between the opener and the headliner, my sister and I chatted with the guys in the row in front of us.

They, too, had won tickets.  Or, rather, the big guy with the long hair who looked strikingly like Silent Bob had won tickets on a different radio station.  He hadn't been caller 10, though.  The radio hosts had been taking callers to see who could come up with the worst pick-up line that might actually work on a woman.  His winning line: "You're so beautiful, I'd drink a tub of your bathwater."

But Walker always won, I was to find out.

Blues Traveler came on and were beyond awesome.  I remember at one point, Bruce Willis showed up to play with them.  They blew out the speakers.  John Popper told a wonderful, cringe-worthy joke (which I will not repeat here) while the roadies fixed the equipment.  But the highlight, the profound, life-changing turning point, came during the song "Hook."

I had made a point of memorizing all the words, including the fast-talking (would you call it "rap"?) part, so I was still singing along as half the crowd had dropped out.  Walker turned around, slack-jawed.  "You know all the words?"

I smiled and kept singing.

"Oh my god - marry me."

"Where's my ring?"

He pulled the one off his thumb and I tried it on.  Way too big, of course.  He assured me he would get me another.  And long story short (too late!) he did.

By the end of my first quarter in college, as things fell apart in Santa Cruz, I moved back to fucking southern California.  My fiancĂ© and I lived with his parents, and we both went to school - he was an English major trying to be a writer, and I had shifted to a math/physics major.  This would only be temporary, though, until we could get back to Santa Cruz for the fall.


As with so much of my life, temporary became permanent, and things fell apart in all sorts of ways.  But nothing in my life is how it would have been had I not met him.  The people I know now, my old Borders family from Cali and Connecticut, were people I met directly or indirectly because of him.  And strangely enough, he is now a scientist - I see him on the History Channel every once in a while - and I am the writer.  Trying to be anyway.

If I have learned anything in life, it is that you have to have a clear path of what you want and a clear plan of how you intend to get there.  You cannot let your life just occur from situation to situation.  But what I have also learned, is to let the Universe knock you around.  If you are wandering too far afield, even if it's straight at what you think you want, things tend to shift you towards where you need to be going.  Don't fight it - roll with it.  Ride the tide, like the surfers off the Lighthouse Point.

And always, always stop and pay homage in Buttonwillow.

No time to edit - I am totally getting a parking ticket today.  Have a good week, and bust out your old mix tapes!