Needless to Say, it was an Ideal Moment

(The original of this post came on September 1, 2010 while Melinda, Chloe, Ella, and I were living in Nantes, France. I like this post enough to reproduce it here.)

September 1, 2010

I went on this very long walk by myself this afternoon. I started at home and walked to the big grocery store at the end of our local tram line, stopping along the way to do some reading and thought-gathering. I picked up a few things at the store and then decided to walk back a different route, one I hadn’t tried before.

I got a little bit lost but never to the point of not knowing which direction I needed to go. The walk provided me one of those moments (and a long one at that) about how not having several unfinished projects waiting for me has allowed me to slow down and be mindful.

A good lesson for when I again have several projects needing my attention.

During the walk back, the part when I wasn’t quite sure where I was, I encountered a dirt trail and decided to take it to see where it came out. Along the trail I found an overgrown apple tree with dozens of rotting apples on the ground around it.

Given the number already on the ground, I decided it would be acceptable for me to pluck a couple of ripe apples from the tree. I then continued along the path, now accompanied by the pleasant crunch of biting into a fresh apple.

Needless to say, it was an ideal moment.

While I was out walking, Ella & Melinda had tea with a classmate of Ella’s named Aude and her mother, the two having been invited to their house. This was a great thing because now Ella is familiar with a girl her age in her school. Melinda and Ella reported that Aude and family are extremely nice and that they have even put in a request at school for Aude and Ella to be in the same class.

These simple acts of kindness from people that are complete strangers to us touches me deeply.
Meanwhile, Chloe had her first paid babysitting job and has one lined up with the same girl for each of the next two Wednesdays. And early in the day I had a Skype conversation with a representative from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, the likely result of which will be me doing some partnership work with them.

I also watched the pilot episode of “Get Smart.” Yes, that old American TV spy comedy from the 1960’s.

I can’t quite put in words why watching TV shows from my youth is bringing me such joy, but they are. Perhaps it has to do with reconnecting with a simpler time. The TV shows are just as they were then, untouched and untarnished by time. I think watching them is like having access to a time machine.

The “Get Smart” episode began with Max, the main character, getting a phone call in the middle of a live theatre performance. It made me laugh out loud, given how common it is for people to get personal phone calls in public places these days.

Except the episode is from 1965 and the call was on his shoe phone…

A Mixtape – Matching Speedos

What’s a mixtape, you say?

Historically, it’s a cassette tape on which someone has lovingly recorded a set of songs for someone. Nowadays, we call it a playlist.

In my early 20’s I would spend hours creating 90-minute tapes for friends, quite often a woman for whom I had a romantic interest. Sometimes these included hand-written liner notes.

Nutty, I know.

Imagine my delight a few years ago when I found a website, 8 Tracks, that allows people to upload songs, thus creating a “mixtape.” It enabled me to scratch my mixtape itch. In fact, here’s a link to one of the many I’ve created, this one called “Matching Speedos.”

This is how I describe the mix on the 8 Tracks site: “Back in the early ’70s, my parents bought matching Speedos for my two brothers, me, and them. The Speedos were a pink floral print, pretty spectacular for the early ’70s. This mix of songs performed by brothers is my tribute to those Speedos and my brothers.”

(Note, if you link to the 8 Tracks site you will be subject to their advertisements.)

Kind Action: Make someone a playlist
Book Recommendation: Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time
Movie Recommendation: High Fidelity (starring Jon Cusack)

Chloe’s “Best Birthday Ever”

February 28, 2011 was quite a day, one that ended with this lovely sentiment from Melinda’s and my oldest daughter, Chloe: “I think this was my best birthday ever.”

Wow, that’s really saying something and was a statement that really touched Melinda and me. We wanted this birthday to be very special, especially considering that 18 is the REALLY big birthday in France AND we happened to be living in France then, on sabbatical for a year from the school Melinda and I had founded in 1994.

In France, most new 18-year-olds have big parties thrown for them by their parents, parties that include family and friends. But we really couldn’t provide that for Chloe. So instead, we figured out how to bring the four of us to Paris from Nantes, where we were living, and then throw a day-long family party for her.

The *party* began after Melinda and I completed a 30-minute jog around the Luxembourg Garden, a pretty spectacular way to begin any day, I know. Chloe wanted Mexican food so Melinda found an affordable and quick Mexican restaurant, BocaMexa, (courtesy of David Lebovitz’s blog) for lunch.

Next, Chloe wanted some birthday photos at the Eiffel Tower so we took a bus there, relying on the Rick Steves Paris guidebook to point us to a bus that gave us a bit of a Paris tour. It was cold so riding on a warm bus seeing the Paris streets was nice.

After the Eiffel Tower photoshoot, we went back home to get ready for dinner. It turned out that we had a few extra few minutes so Melinda & I took Chloe out for a legal drink at a nearby bar (the drinking age in France is 18 — she had a Kir Cassis, btw, and has a great story to tell about the bartender giving her a shirt and telling her to ditch her parents on her 18th birthday).

Regarding dinner, earlier in the day Melinda made reservations for us at Chez Janou, a wonderful Parisian restaurant not far from the Bastille. In making the reservation, Melinda commented that it was Chloe’s 18th birthday.

The restaurant staff went all out, including making her a special cake that was delivered with restaurant-wide fanfare and singing, dimmed lights, loud music, and 18 candles. We had a champagne toast and enjoyed the incredible cake, before taking the Métro back to our apartment, located a 5-minute walk from Notre Dame.

Oh, one more thing about that night’s dinner. Just after Chloe blew out her candles, we spotted American actor John C. Reilly sitting about 5 feet away, meaning he helped sing happy birthday to her. Was this her birthday wish?

Really, John C. Reilly, when Johnny Depp lives in France?

Either it’s 1970 or I’m Having a Mid-life Crisis

(From July 2010 through July 2011, Melinda, Chloe, Ella, and I lived in France. I decided I would keep a daily blog of our goings-on for our friends and family. Little did my family know that sometimes I would get a bit silly with my entries. The one copied below is from September 18, 2010. Find the original here.)

Day 80 (18 September 2010) – Saturday Morning, 1970

Shhh… I have to type quietly this morning because everyone else in the house is still sleeping.

I got up early to plug my computer into the TV so I could watch cartoons while eating a bowl of French frosted flakes, or what on the box says, “Glacés au Sucre Corn Flakes” (literally, frozen sugar corn flakes). Either it’s 1970 or I’m having a mid-life crisis.

Regardless, it’s a perfect Saturday morning in September:

  • Clear and crisp outside.
  • Quiet inside.
  • No school.
  • Cartoons.
  • Frosted Flakes.

In today’s episode of “Underdog,” Dr. Simon Bar Sinister, the wickedest man in the world, has invented a device that can suck up the world’s water supply, distorting its molecules so it all fits nicely into a valise. People will have to come to him to get their water!

Will Underdog be able to save the day?

Yesterday, Chloe told me that some of my blog postings seem kind of silly and pointless. I’m not sure, but I think this had something to do with me kissing fire hydrants. In response, and as a nod to Seinfeld, I’ve started referring to pictures and experiences here in France as being “blog-worthy.” As we go about our days, discovering things like a delicious cheeseburger, I’ll say to Melinda, Chloe, and/or Ella, “I think this just might be blog-worthy.”

They seem to think that things like visiting Paris and going to Louvre are blog-worthy. Me, I’m not so sure. Everyone who goes to Paris blogs about that. To me, I think that’s blog-boring.

So, having found Frosted Flakes in the cereal aisle of the grocery store, I knew I had found something worth writing about. I just have to do so while they are all asleep.

Oh, does anyone know how I can get some Brown-Sugar Cinnamon Frosted Pop-Tarts??

Next Saturday is just a week away and I think H.R. Pufnstuf is going to have to save Jimmy and Freddy, the talking flute, from Witchiepoo. I need something full of vitamins and minerals, part of a balanced breakfast, to assist.

My Childhood Experience With Night Terrors

(“Tell me a story from when you were a kid. Please. Pleee-ase.”

It was a nighttime ritual by now, my daughter asking me to tell her one of my childhood stories. I knew what it REALLY was, a ploy for her to stay up later. Or a ploy for me to have a little more time with her alone. Who’s fooling whom, I thought. I smiled, both inside and out.

“Okay, remember how I told you about how I used to have trouble getting to sleep? Well, one night…”)

The little boy did not mind going to bed. That didn’t scare him. In fact, it was reassuring to be snug in bed and see the bright light under his door, the light that indicated his parents were still up and about.

The best nights were those Saturdays when his parents entertained and stayed up very late, and the smell of a cigarette from one of the guests wafted to his room. As long as the smell lingered his parents would be up and he would be safe.

No, it wasn’t going to bed that scared him.

As long as he fell asleep before the light under his door went out he would be fine. He knew this and developed all kinds of tricks to help himself fall asleep quickly. His stuffed animal friends, especially his bunny, would talk quietly to him. Or the radio, tuned to a Top 40 station, counted down the most popular songs and soothed him, like counting sheep jumping a fence.

He’d look up at the big blue clock his parents bought him, the one with the bright white numbers so he could tell time in the dark. Those numbers seemed so friendly to him and the blue, his favorite color, matched his walls, his sheets, his bunny, his eyes…

His eyes which now were closed. He was asleep.

Invariably, though, some time in the night, every night, he would awaken. It wasn’t nightmares, at least not most nights, that caused him to wake up. He just did, wake up that is, every night, some time around 2 in the morning, like clockwork.

Sometimes he woke up slowly, sleepy-eyed, and fought the inevitable consciousness.

He tried, in this not-quite-awake state, to lull himself back to sleep, knowing that if he awoke the terror would begin. But this never worked. Every time he began thinking to himself, “I know I’m still asleep and should stay asleep but if I don’t wake up I won’t be alert and then I’m vulnerable so I need to wake up, I need to waKE UP. I NEED TO WAKE UP! WAKE UP!!”

And he’d wake himself up, wide-eyed, alert.

Sometimes he just awoke with a start, to that same wide-eyed, wide-awake state, immediately scared. Every time he’d look at the bottom of his door for the reassuring light but his parents were long ago in bed, asleep. And THIS is what scared him to the marrow of his bones, that he would be the only one in the house awake, the only one available to protect his house, his family, himself from all that the darkness brought.

His way of dealing with being the only one awake in the house was to awaken someone else.
And somehow all the logic that he so well understood in the comfort of the daylight disappeared in the lonely darkness of 2am. The well-intentioned promises made at family meetings, the star chart of promised rewards taped to the refrigerator, the talks with his therapist. They all added up to a big fat nothing when the little boy was scared and lonely and scared and alone and wanted more than anything to be near his awake mother. Every night it was the same.

“MOM!!! MOM!!!” he yelled at the top of his lungs.

And she would come and he would ignore or just not notice her frustration and her exhaustion as her calming presence and the touch of her hand rubbing his head or his back, or her, in her tired, tired state, laying down next to him, blotted out all else.

He knew the meaning of peace and serenity. It was your mom laying down next to you and rubbing your back at 2am moments after being so terribly scared. There is peace in this world and this is it.

In his mother’s presence, he would quickly and quietly fall back asleep.

After months and months of this pattern there came the night he feared. The predictable pattern played out again. In bed, the light shining from under his door, he found his way into sleep. And, as always, he began to awaken and he told himself he should just fall back into a deep slumber.

But this time something was different.

He felt a presence in the room and then hands on him, touching his blankets. He was wide awake in a flash but his body froze with fear. He could not move a muscle. His eyes would not open, no noise would come from his throat. And still the hands moved over and on him.

His mind raced, trying to make sense of what was happening. Maybe he was still asleep and this was one of those rare nightmares. No, he could tell this was real, could tell he was awake.

Maybe his overactive nighttime imagination was getting the best of him. No, he could tell when he was scaring himself, even when he couldn’t stop it from happening, and this was different.
Maybe it was his older brothers playing a trick on him, like the time, thinking he was asleep, they put his hand in warm water to see if he would wet the bed. No, they knew enough about his nighttime fear to not tease him about this.

What was it then?

The touching of his blankets stopped and he sensed the presence move away from his bed. He heard the familiar squeak of the hinges on his door and knew that whomever or whatever it was had left. This knowledge propelled him out of his paralyzed state and he screamed like no other scream in his life:

“MOOOMMMMM!!!”

She was in like a flash, faster than ever before, like she sensed the urgency in his voice, like she was already close by. It all came out in a jumbled mix of frightened words, “Somebody… touching me… in my room!”

She rubbed his head, soothed him, brought the covers up around him as it was a cold winter night.

“Oh, honey,” she said, “That was me. It is so chilly tonight and I thought you’d be cold so I brought you another blanket. You must have felt me spreading it out over you.” She hugged him and lay down next to him. “You are fine.”

The truth and logic of what she said slowly dawned on him and relief came over him in waves, finally overtaking him and calming him. The peace of his mother’s presence took hold and he fell back asleep.

Until the next night…

A Tribute to My Grandmother

Years ago, I spoke at the memorial service for my maternal grandmother, Gene Wenzel. A few days before, I was sitting on a park bench with a yellow legal pad on my lap and a ballpoint pen in my hand trying to write what I would say. At first, I was drawing blanks, stuck in what I felt I was “expected” to say.

Suddenly, letting go of the “shoulds,” I flashed on the word “spirit.” I had recently learned that the Latin root for spirit was spirare which means “to breathe.” I started writing down all the words I could think of that had “spirit” in them. Among these were “inspire” (to draw in air), “respire” (to inhale and exhale), and “expire” (the last breath).

Another of these words was “conspire.”

Up until then, I’d always seen this word as negative, used to describe people plotting to do something bad. But it really just means to breathe together. And there is something magical and mysterious about that.

When we are in the same place we are conspiring, breathing together. But it’s even more than that. We are sharing air, me breathing in some of what you’ve exhaled and you breathing in some of what I’ve exhaled. We are conspiring, literally. What was once inside you goes inside me, and what was once inside me goes inside you. This was a profound realization for me.

Where do I stop and you begin?

This became the basis of my memorial to my grandmother, the conspiracies that took place throughout her life and the one taking place right there in the church among those of us who had come together to celebrate and acknowledge her life.

A conspiracy. And what a lovely one.

It’s a kind of conspiracy that you are reading this story that I wrote. And if you are moved by it in any way, you likely found inspiration in it.

That’s all part of our common humanity.

“This is Not a Date!”

It’s September, 1990 and I’ve just left a job that was eroding my soul. For several months I had shunned social interactions, so drained was I by the challenges of this job.

In the hopes of re-energizing, I called up my friend Bruce to see if he was planning to go to Bumbershoot, the annual music festival at the Seattle Center that takes place every year over Labor Day Weekend. Nick Lowe was scheduled to perform and both Bruce and I are longtime Nick Lowe fans. It would be fun to hang out with a friend.

That, at least, was my cover story.

You see, I had also been invited to attend a wedding later that month and I knew Bruce was sharing a house with Melinda. Maybe she’d like to go to the wedding with me…

“Sorry, Andy,” Bruce told me, “I won’t be in town for Bumbershoot. But let me put Melinda on the phone.”

And within minutes, not only had Melinda agreed to go to the wedding, she was interested in seeing Nick Lowe!

So here we were, the two of us, Melinda and me, walking from the Seattle Center to where I had parked my car, the concert being over. We could have stayed to see some other performers, and did in fact linger for a few minutes to hear part of Leon Redbone’s set.

Still, I was trying to be sensitive to what Melinda might want to do, including parting ways.

As we walked, making small talk, she casually made reference to her fairly new interest in horseback riding.

Turns out Melinda knew I had connections at Longacres, the racetrack just outside of Seattle, that allowed me access to where the horses were stabled. Since she’d taken up riding, she was interested in seeing thoroughbreds in training.

I asked if she’d like to head down there some time, to which her face lit up and she said, “When can we go?”

I said, “How about now?”

I think she suddenly recognized her enthusiasm to see the horses may have gotten the better of her. She’d already agreed to go to the wedding with me, we had just been to a concert together, and now she had accepted my offer to spontaneously head down to the racetrack.

Clearly, she needed to halt any ideas I might be having about this situation involving some kind of romantic activity.

“This is not a date,” she said, the tone of her voice supporting the clarity of her words.

“Um, okay,” or something equally eloquent was my response.

Of course, we were married less than four months later on December 31st, meaning today is our 30th anniversary. In those 30 years, we’ve raised two kids to adulthood, started a school, lived in France for a year, and spent pretty much every day together.

Occasionally, I’ll ask her if we’ve had a date yet.

Yes, Virginia, I Believe in Santa Claus

I believe in Santa Claus. And I believe it is my belief in him that makes him real.

When my daughters, Chloe and Ella, were young, they believed in him as an actual living, breathing entity, as I did when I was a kid. As we grew up, my daughters and I, we came to believe in him as something that is true in our hearts.

In other words, our belief in Santa Claus is not in a logical truth. Logical truths are those things that are strictly true in our heads. They can be proven scientifically. Believing in Santa is a feeling thing, something completely human that taps into the profound. Again, this is something that’s true in our hearts, the same place our intuition resides.

Each Christmas Eve when the girls were kids, we’d track Santa on the NORAD Tracks Santa website. As an adult, the fact that NORAD, the organization that monitors the airspace above the United States and Canada for safety purposes, associates itself with Santa Claus touched me. Still does, actually.

To really understand a logical or “head” truth, just consider the purpose of NORAD for a minute and all the scientific reality that goes with it. I long imagined the person (or people) who conceptualized the NORAD tracks Santa concept. Was it a bored engineer who recognized his (or her) connection to childhood, their “heart” truth, was slipping away?

It turns out there is quite a story to how the whole thing got started, some of it legend (true to the heart) and some of it fact (true to the head).

That my kids would get so excited to watch Santa moving around the world tapped into something deep within me that believes in the wonder of childhood and wanting to keep it sacred.

A piece of advice I’ve long given parents is to help their children hold onto to their childhoods as long as they can. In other words, parents, I encourage you to resist any urges, from your children and those you sometimes feel, to have your kids grow up too fast.

Now picture my two young daughters and me on Christmas Eve. Each hour, amidst the dinner preparations and excitement of arriving family, we’d reload the NORAD site to see where Santa has visited. And picture their excitement in going to bed, knowing that Santa is approaching our home, knowing that in the morning they will discover the presents he has left them.

NORAD and Santa together is the perfect blend of a head truth uniting with a heart truth. I’m interested in recognizing other such combinations. I’ve read that the way you can tell if you’re well-matched with a life partner is by confirming your love is both logical and emotional, that you’ll get into trouble down the line when it’s just one or the other, or a huge imbalance.

Can you think of some other combinations of head and heart truths? If so, share them in the comments section below, please.

I think it might be most engaging to start with the emotional truth of something, like a child’s wonder for Santa Claus, and then seeing if you can connect it to some kind of logical truth, like NORAD.

So after reading this, where do you stand on the question? Do you believe in Santa Claus?

December 18, 2020 – A Little Girl’s Christmas Credo

Pardon the misspellings.

Actually, don’t pardon the misspellings. They are part of the charm of this essay that Ella, my daughter, whose 24th birthday it is TODAY, wrote when she was in 3rd grade. The essay is called “What I blevin!”

If you haven’t figured it out, that’s “What I Believe In!” To also help you get started, Sannat Clus is Santa Claus. So, yes, this essay is about believing in Santa Claus (I’ve translated the essay below for those who have difficulty with “invented spelling”).

Take a look:

What I Believe In! – 11–27–06

It’s sad that people don’t believe in Santa Claus. Once you’re at a certain age you stop believing. But I know that people do believe in but they don’t say because they’re trying to be cool. When they’re not. If you believe in Santa you are a lot happier because the joy of him is so big that you just have to believe in him because you feel so good. My questions are how old is he? How did he become Santa? Why does he give presents?

For Andy!
by Ella Smallman Shaw

Where I’m From

My personal take on the brilliant poem by George Ella Lyon.

I’m from Sour Cherry Jells, a candy my dad sold that made my tongue, my lips, and my teeth turn red, from Dixie Cups to drink cool water from the bathroom sink at night because it tasted better in tiny paper cups than what came out of the kitchen faucet into a glass.

I’m from Kool Aid ice cubes.

I’m from parents who this November will have been married for 62 years and are together still, who as far as I know have always been together, parents who raised three boys in a meat and potatoes home, who created a midwestern life in the 1960’s that allowed my den-mother-president-of-the-PTA mom to be home at the end of every school day to offer my brothers and me a snack and a reminder to change out of our “school clothes” before heading back outside to play.

I’m from Velveeta Cheese and Spam and Miracle Whip.

I’m from the smell of rosin bags, sweat, and baseball glove leather on the dry, cracked baseball diamond in the humidity of July, from scraped knees on the vacant lot we called “The Dirt Hill”, and the scary time I got the wind knocked out of me while playing football on the Elders’ front lawn.

I’m from KOIL radio and Casey Kasem and Stella’s hamburgers and “Trip someone, get a statistic!” the year I played ice hockey.

I’m from my dad driving home from Rexall on Saturday morning, the Racing Form open across the steering wheel.

I’m from the 1970 Topps hockey card set that started it all, that 23 years later was the down payment on a house, go figure. Melinda and I had a baby now.

I’m from night terrors so bad I’d scream until everyone in the house was awake, that forced my brother to convince my parents to disassemble our bunk bed and let him sleep in peace in the basement, to the absolute knowledge of what peace feels like when your mom lays in your bed next to you at 2am and strokes your head.

I’m from Dr. Oberst telling my parents that behavior modification would cure me, that responding to my screams was reinforcing them.

I’m from the chart on the refrigerator that awarded me points that translated into hockey cards if I could just keep quiet at night.

I’m from being hospitalized in 4th grade because I just couldn’t keep quiet, from tiny orange sleeping pills I proudly swallowed without water to electrodes being attached to my head to figure out why I was, why I was so, so…

angry
mad
frightened
scared
sad
unhappy
don’t you say crazy

the shame, the shame
the SHAME.

I’m from blocking it out, blocking it out, this “scared of the dark” thing, it’s my biggest secret, my hidden shame.

I’m from a temper so bad I would slam doors and scream, one time breaking a clock radio that belonged to my grandparents and that would play “The Last Song” by Edward Bear and “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” by Lobo — did you know Boo meant grass which meant pot which meant marijuana, what’s that, the song got banned? Why?

I’m from my 3rd grade teacher pulling me by the earlobe in front of a gymnasium full of people present to see my parents honored as lifetime members of the PTA.

I’m from believing that’s what started all the shame, and then from realizing that my shame gave birth to my greatest strength, empathy.

I’m from Saturday morning speech therapy with Mrs Veizer, saltines and water, tongue thrusts and Th’s.

I’m from eighteen months with a headgear, 8pm to 8am, then another 18 months with braces, hey gang, that’s 3 years visiting Dr. Cameron not counting the retainers.

I’m from glasses at age 12. Glasses and braces, why not a red clown’s nose? Oh, I got that, too.

It’s called pimples, pimples and more pimples that I’m from.

I’m from the days I wore my mom’s cover-up to high school.

I’m from Salmonella Group D my senior year, the rectal biopsy, and praying, praying, praying to die — the stomach cramps were that bad.

I’m from Strat-O-Matic with Scott and the 1969 Minnesota Twins, César Tovar is a double A, 1–17.

I’m from bowling with Steve and yes I actually did bowl a 234 with 5 strikes in a row.

I’m from getting kicked off the bowling team my senior year after wearing a pink vest, tight black pants, mascara, and rouge to a party at the coach’s house.

I’m from door-to-door Mason Shoes and a work ethic that means you don’t stop until the job is done and you do your best, from a grandmother who gathered blackberries no matter how many times she was stung so we could have that cobbler and a grandfather who ate just one piece of candy after dinner because he cherished it more.

I’m from the still-dark silence of walking the neighborhood on weekend mornings to deliver The Seattle Times, my alarm going off at 4:52 to wake me, and the hustle of weekday afternoons to get the paper delivered by 5 while avoiding being bitten by that mean dog. 30 homes, $30/month.

I’m from Hunter’s Books and a 40 hour workweek at 17, closing the till and making a night deposit and my high school counselor saying no you can’t get Occupational Education credit for that.

I’m from second semester senior year sitting in accounting class, so bored, looking out the window, writing short stories, waiting to ace the tests so I could get the credit so I could graduate and get the heck out of there and why would I want to waste my time going to college?

I’m from Gray Whisper losing by a nose at 9–1 (I still have my two $10 win tickets) and Bokeet being sold to someone else but now Tom and I won’t be moving to Portland.

I’m from, “It’s time now for the marine weather, brought to you today and every day by Bob’s Market,” from Hank having brought me to Seward to “play radio” for a year.

I’m from Matt, and Si, and Kristopher, and Eric, and discovering I had something to offer children, that working with children was a calling.

I’m from all of this and more.

I’m from I wouldn’t change any of it, even if I could. I think that’s called privilege.

Yeah, I’m from that, too.