Conclusion of 80’s Night

On the way to the 80’s party, Paul grinned and said, “Now, where do you want to go after the party?” Yeah, right. In that get-up? Half a can of hairspray, crazy eye-shadow, and essentially skin-tight pants? Yeahahaha right.

When we got there . . . whaddaya know? With the exception of maybe three, all the women there had side ponytails. This is doubtless because none of us have mullets anymore, though this is actually not a foregone conclusion in this part of the world; without much effort you can still find people non-ironically wearing 80’s hair around here. But . . . most of the people at the party were maybe not from this part of New England?

Anyway, at least I was the first side-ponytail-wearer to show up, so I could pretend I set the trend, but after everyone else arrived I felt very unoriginal. I stopped to think about this and realised I’m pretty sure I didn’t actually know people in person who wore side ponytails. I just saw them in magazines. Oh, and there might have been that one girl who was a senior when I was a freshman, but I didn’t actually know her.

We munched on Pringles and Bugles and blonde brownies and French bread pizza . . . well, I did. My Paul didn’t eat much of that stuff. So by the time we left some time later, he was hungry. “Haha!” we joked. “Imagine if we went to a restaurant while I was all dressed up in pseudo-80’s clothes!”

Then we went to a 50’s diner. Well. Neither of us had actually had supper. Suddenly I was assuredly the only person with a side-ponytail anywhere in the vicinity. Somehow, I didn’t feel any more delighted by this than I did by being one of many side-ponytails at the party. Weird.

It’s just . . . well, I’m not sure if I would have felt any less awkward in a “normal” restaurant, but does anyone else feel like it would be a little weird to be in an establishment focusing on the style of one decade, dressed in the style of another one? I mean, I guess the 50’s and the 80’s have some complimentary aspects, but . . . I’d be lying to say I didn’t feel somewhat awkward in there.

I suppose I may have asked for it, though. What do you think?


Ghosts of High School Past

Jeff of the Deep Thoughts, a blogger whom I actually know in person as well as on the internet, turned 40 just before the turn of the year. (Yep. Called you out, Jeff. But wait–I’m going to do the same thing to myself in a minute.) Apparently he wasn’t a big fan. I still have six months to go before I hit that same number, but turning 30 was so traumatic for me that I long ago decided I was going to be thrilled to turn 40. Mostly because I didn’t want to be that miserable again.

Anyway, given our similarity in ages, I guess it doesn’t take too fancy math skills (fortunately, since I don’t have any anymore) to work out that both of us were in high school in the 1980’s. Thing is, apparently Jeff loved the 80’s. I, on the other hand, and as I’ve hinted elsewhere in this blog, didn’t. Ever. Like the 80’s.

Tonight, Jeff is having a belated birthday party at his church with his church friends and an 80’s theme. Even though my Paul and I go to other churches, we got invited, on account of Jeff and his wife and I are pals, and their oldest son attends Now Church youth group, I guess.

It’s funny, because it’s just a party, but I’m starting to feel the kind of anxiety I used to feel every day before school from 1984-1990 when I couldn’t get my hair to look either like everyone else wanted it to look, or even like I wanted it to look. I didn’t like all that hair spray. I wanted curly hair but I didn’t like the idea of perms (although I had a few at various points). I thought everything was too fake and plastic. I never got into neon, or jellies, or even make-up. My skin was nothing if not diseased-looking, but nevertheless, I probably wore make up a total of three times until I was a junior in high school because I couldn’t stand the caked on appearance that it had on all the other girls I knew. I was interested in boys, but I wasn’t interested in going out of my way to impress them (maybe to annoy, but not to impress), partly because I was relatively certain I couldn’t, and partly because I wanted them to see the real me. (Not that I really knew who that was.)

Every morning I’d get in the car on the way to school bemoaning my zitty and flop-haired appearance, and my dad would say, in a voice that didn’t even sound sincere (although my dad’s a pretty sincere guy most of the time), “I think you look very nice.” Somehow I never found that comforting. The fact that I rarely had friends . . . was probably the lot of a whole bunch more kids than I realised, but . . . it certainly didn’t help the way I felt about my appearance.

Just now I put on some stirrup pants (yep, stirrup pants, circa 2009, no less–I got them in Ireland thinking they were just leggings . . . ) and a denim shirt of my Paul’s, and a wide black belt of a very similar style to one I actually had in the 80’s. I popped the collar and smeared on blue eyeshadow (sadly, the pink I have is very, shall we say, subtle) and ringed my eyes with eyeliner, and tried to feather my hair. I say tried, because I also failed. Even now, more than 20 years later, I still can’t get my hair to feather. Of course, the bangs are a little long these days, but still. It didn’t even come close. So I put my hair in a side ponytail (without a scrunchy) and put it almost the requisite amount of hairspray, I think, and I’m all set to go. Pretty sure I’m mixing a whole bunch of different 80’s styles that aren’t supposed to go together, but . . . I never knew what was supposed to go together at the time, either.

My Paul says I look “really cute, in a funky sort of way.”

“In a Punky Brewster sort of way?” I counter. But I think I look sort of cute, too. Amazingly. All this has me wondering, though–did I subconsciously spend the entire decade of the 80’s feeling like I was prepping to go to some crazy costume party whose theme I wasn’t really into?

The Beggar’s Bowl . . . Comes from Crate and Barrel

When I was really little, my parents felt called to become missionaries in a small Latin American country and they embarked on this strange little custom which the missions world calls (or used to call) deputation. Basically, they drove around from church to church all over the Northeast and told people about their plans and asked these same people to pray for them and also sponsor them financially. [Editor/daughter’s note: My mother clarifies what they actually did below in the comments. Please read, to set the record straight.]

This practice has quite a bit of precedent among missionaries, and even some precedent in the Bible, but, having done it myself as an adult, it certainly does have an awkward feel to it–maybe particularly for Westerners who have been taught the value of self-sufficiency from the womb practically. And ironically.

Paul says (and I cite him because he’s not the only person who’s said this and sheepishly, I think he’s probably right) that people in “full-time Christian ministry” develop this mentality that says, If it’s free, it’s for me! He quite frequently points out my highly attuned “free-dar.”

Well, look. I’ve had an entire life to hone it. When my parents were on deputation (and subsequently furlough–extended Stateside trips to report back to their supporters and let them know how things were going and, presumably indirectly, how their money was being spent), I had no idea they were asking people for anything. I was a small child. Money meant nothing to me. But there was this lady with the ladybugs.

The Ladybug Lady had ladybugs everywhere. Not real ones, although I don’t know–I suppose she may have had those, too. So much red! So many black polka dots! She pulled out a basket of toys for me and TheBro (who was even littler) to play with, and I immediately gravitated toward a “stuffed animal” ladybug toy. She was slightly larger than a Beanie Baby, and there was absolutely nothing soft about her. She wasn’t made with plush, and she was stuffed so full she was entirely unsqueezable. But I really really liked her–probably it was her sweet little smile. I wanted this ladybug toy.

Not only was I too young to realise what my parents were doing at this lady’s house, but I was also too young to realise that except under very specialised circumstances, it is, in this culture, inappropriate to just ask for things. Except that I must have realised it on some level, because I did not ask for that ladybug toy. I distinctly remember thinking that if I played with that toy enough, if I carried it around, if I placed strategic comments about how much I liked this ladybug, every so often, that nice Ladybug Lady–for she did indeed seem very nice–would give it to me.

She did.

I’m not proud of this, but I am kind of fascinated by it, and it’s impossible not to think about it at least a little bit when I’m having a hard time asking for some assistance of whatever variety. Right now I’m discovering that wedding registries are awkward. Are they supposed to be awkward? Is this the one time it’s supposed to be socially acceptable to ask people for stuff? And if so, why do I feel more awkard about this than I did about the ladybug, or even about the support-raising I did when I went to London?

Maybe part of it is that Paul and I were not planning on having a registry at all. He has a pretty tiny house, and I’m moving into it, and if anything, we have an “unregistry” (in my case, called eBay)–we are trying to get rid of stuff, not acquire more. But, you know, there’s always some generous friend who insists on buying a gift, registry or no, and it makes more sense for them to have some kind of idea what you might like–even if you don’t actually want anything–rather than having them shoot in the dark, as it may happen.

Paul is reflooring the kitchen, and we’re planning to paint all the walls downstairs, and there are shelves and cabinets and things we need to put up to increase our storage space, so we decided if anyone asked us what we wanted, we’d tell them, Home Depot gift cards. And then, just in case someone can’t stomach the idea of a gift card, either, I put about 30 items on amazon’s universal gift registry (universal in that you can list any item from any online retailer on it–it’s pretty cool).

Easy enough. But now I can’t figure out how to disseminate this information. First of all, our ostensibly simple wedding has become a little bit complicated (more on that in another post, probably), so, over the course of the next six months there will be a total of three–count them, three–receptions. It would be one thing if there was one event and you could put a subtle notice about gift registries in the invites along with the “would you like chicken or beef” reception RSVP card. But we can’t really–or not exactly. And it seems kind of awkward to accost random family or other guests and say, “So, if you’re wondering about a registry–we actually don’t want anything, but if you absolutely must, Home Depot gift cards are a good option, or one of the thirty items you see listed here.”

Someone cynical might suggest that my posting about this on a blog is kind of like walking around and saying how much I like this ladybug. I don’t think it is. I would like to think I’m just doing it because it’s something I’ve been thinking about all day and I kind of wanted to get your take on the whole asking/giving charity thing. How do you feel about it? How do you feel if and when you do . . . either one (ask or give)? But . . . even the best of us have mixed motives. I’m not the best of us, and although I’m not aware of ulterior manipulative planning, it’s possible it’s still there. I’m not even sure, myself. That’s comforting, isn’t it?

Endings and Beginnings

In 45 minutes to an hour, I will be heading back to the airport and flying back home to New England and my Paul. Somehow it didn’t occur to me until this morning that perhaps Friday the 13th is a potentially foolish day to be flying . . . My parents say maybe the airplane will be emptier, though. That would be nice. Then no one has to worry about anyone’s garlic. For example. Of something that would be helped by an empty aircraft. Paul had suggested I wear a mask over my nose and mouth so everyone would think I was contagious and give me a wide berth. But maybe that won’t be necessary.

It occurred to me briefly when I arrived here that my single life has been characterised greatly by international travel, and that this would be my last international trip ever as a single person. On Sunday evening, my parents and I were watching episodes of Downton Abbey (which, of course, has already aired in its entirety over here) and the second season of Sherlock. We had already eaten supper, and were discussing the merits and demerits of making an enormous bowl of popcorn. “It’s our last Sunday night with Jenn in Ireland,” Dad suggested.

“It’s your last Sunday night with me as a single person,” I said. Because when they fly Stateside in March for my wedding, they will not be there the Sunday before it, and the Sunday after it, I will be married. And not home. That week (after my wedding) will be my first international trip as a married person, but it will be a little different because we will be driving to it instead of flying to our destination.

We made the popcorn.

I have also eaten two varieties of full Irish breakfasts (well–a full Irish and an Ulster fry), lots of leftover Christmas cookies, a few small mince pies in case I never get back to these Islands at Christmastime, some German fruit-bread (stollen), and drunk a pint of something at this amazing Hogwarts-meets-Steampunk old pub in Belfast. Oh, and the regular three meals a day. This might be my last international trip as a thin person, too. I mean the first part. I definitely weigh more now than I did when I left. I wonder if they will charge me for excess baggage . . .

Wow. I so wasn’t intending to talk about weight.

I think, when I realised that this trip sort of marks the End of an Era, I thought I’d feel wistful and that this week would be a time of processing for me–processing the end of singleness, the finality of the end of all previous relationships (on either side of the Pond), forsaking all other, stuff like that. I didn’t think my love for Paul or resolve to join my life with his would be shaken–I think I just thought this week would have involved a lot more introspection (and maybe not quite so much eating).

As it’s happened, though, I haven’t felt all that wistful, and though I’ve considered the things I’m saying goodbye to, I’ve . . . realised it’s time, I guess. Any change involves loss and grief, but it can also involve gain and joy, and maybe I’m readier than I thought I was when I left the country a week ago. I have no idea where the next few years will take us, but I’m pretty happy when I consider that I’ll have a travel companion from now on–this specific travel companion–even if we end up staying right where we are.


If it weren’t for that whole British Empire thing, after having lived in London’s East End in the late 90’s and recently read The Help, I would be tempted to assert that Britain and Ireland have a better human rights record than the United States. (Actually, if it weren’t for the whole Irish history thing, too . . . )

Be that as it may, I’ve got to say these little islands don’t quite go in for political correctness in the same way Yanks do. It’s there. It’s just that in the United States I don’t think people could get away with some of the terms that are used over here.

In the United States, when you turn 50 or so, you are eligible to become a member of the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons). Even with this fairly innocuous title (let’s face it–you can retire at 30 if you make enough money), people absolutely freak out when they receive their first missive from said association. Usually it’s kind of a self-mocking freak out, but it seems, all the same, that everyone I know who’s received one for the first time has to tell all their friends and relations about it, with a sort of “Whoa is me–they’ve found out I’m old,” kind of air. I also don’t know anyone who has immediately subscribed when they receive this initial communique. Perhaps that’s why the AARP starts so young (I don’t suppose anyone over 30 genuinely thinks 50 is old, actually)–because they know you’re going to resist it at first, and they want to get you sometime.

I don’t know when “senior discounts” start in the United States–maybe at the same time you get your AARP mailing, or maybe a little later, but in any case, you would never call an old person an old person. You don’t say the word old at all. It would kind of be like swearing. People of a certain age are seniors (as if they are in their last year of high school) or senior citizens, maybe. The thing is, once you start substituting a politically correct term for a politically incorrect one, the politically correct one takes on all the associations of the politically incorrect word you were trying to avoid, so then senior citizen starts to sound rude as well.

Here in Ireland, and in Britain, too, they just don’t seem to worry about that. Maybe they assume old people don’t have feelings. Or can’t hear. Or they all just have a stiff upper lip. Anyway, the general term for people over 65 is old age pensioner. There’s just nothing euphemistic about that. The best they manage is abbreviating it: OAP. But the words are all still in there.

I wonder which is better, and if there’s any discernable difference between how people on either side of the pond feel about aging. I can’t say I’ve ever noticed it, but you never know. I think I’d be willing to put up with some frank language for the regular discounts, though. What do you think?

Fear of Rolls

Does anybody else do this?

I’m sitting here at my parents’ house working on my presentation for the Search for Meaning Book Festival at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry in February. The title of the presentation is “Displacement: Finding Meaning Outside the Comfort Zone.” Of course I’m going to talk about my novel Trees in the Pavement–that’s the whole reason for my topic in the first place. If anybody knows anything about displacement, it’s refugees–the subject of Trees. But the thesis for my talk is that writers in general feel displaced, and that when we write it’s our own way of searching for meaning–and furthermore, that displacement is what spurs the search and ultimately provides the meaning.

I’m also going to talk about the book I’m not sure what to do with (Favored One, a novel about Miryam the mother of Yeshua), and about my own experiences with transplantation and displacement, and about how Jesus (the Word of God and, I believe, the ultimate source and destination of all meaning) was Himself displaced. The displaced God.

I have to talk for 45 minutes, which is longer than I’ve ever had to talk at one time to a silent audience before, and I’m a little nervous, but today I’ve made it up to page seven (which might fill twenty minutes, if I’m lucky?), and I just had a mini-epiphany surrounding the whole displacement-Miryam-displaced-God thing, when I suddenly bounded over to this blog and started writing this post.

I think I’m afraid to get on a roll. With very few exceptions, when I’m writing anything–an article for New England Condominium, or reworking a chapter of Favored One, or even writing a blog post, as soon as I’m about to achieve writing nirvana, where I barely even have to think and the words just flow from my fingertips and I don’t care how it sounds because I can fix it tomorrow in the clear light of day–that state which, I suspect, most writers long to achieve and maybe not many of us do, I balk. I run away. I procrastinate. Even if it just means interrupting that about-to-be-effortless train of thought to write something else. Something insignificant. Something totally banal. Like this blog post here.

Does anybody else do that?

Going Postal

Last week I received a gift card in the mail from a good friend from the Nanny Days. She had sent this to me as an engagement present. On both sides of the envelope, in extremely legible (if legibility can ever be extreme) handwriting, she had written, “Do Not Bend.”

I have never seen an envelope so bent in so many directions in my entire life. (And yes, the card was bent, too.) It looked intentional, and although I partly thought it was hilarious, it is also contributing to my mail-carrier-paranoia. I know mail delivery people are just that–people, too–and that people make mistakes. But I also don’t personally know any mail carriers, and although I really like the people behind the counter at the post office near Now Church, they aren’t the ones who remove the post from my mailbox or put it in, either. These two facts make it really really easy to imagine that the people hired by the government to deliver the mail are either lacking some IQ points, or else a little passive-aggressive. I suppose if I were really honest, I would admit that my tendency to suspect the latter might also be at least tenuously related to the fact that when I worked at Starbucks, we used to give decaffeinated beverages to customers who we thought were jerks. Or who never tipped. The customer may always be right, but the purveyor of the service doesn’t have to like it–and quite often doesn’t agree.

All this makes me kind of suspicious about the book I eBayed to a guy in California–twice, because it got inexplicably sent back once and delayed both times. Also when it rains all day and I’m not home and a parcel is delivered to my doorstep but not in a plastic bag as it’s meant to be, or I get the mail of my next two neighbours and have to deliver it myself, I wonder what I or they ever did to irk our postal carrier.

Has anyone else ever experienced such postal-traumatic-stress? Or has anyone ever worked for the USPS to make a rebuttal . . . or tell stories about weird or obnoxious postal receivers?


Time Warp

Airplanes must be getting faster.

I mean, I know when I was making regular hops back and forth across the Pond because I lived in London and my family lived in New England (I’m still loathe to know the real reasons they all left when I moved back . . . ), they were slightly longer than a jaunt to Ireland is. But only by about an hour. Yes, the eastbound flights were overnight, and yes, they got in early, and no, I was rarely able to sleep more than 45 minutes. But at least there was time to try to sleep.

Last night, unlike any of my trips to the Midwestern United States, went so smoothly and quickly that we had to wait for ages for our bags at the end. There were no lines at security–the security guy who looked at my passport asked me how long I was staying in the country, and I told him, he stamped my book, and I was on my way. Until getting slowed down by the long wait at the baggage claim carousel, I mean.

As for the flight itself, well, it was just kind of weird. We took off at 6.15, right on schedule, and I read about a quarter of The Help. Then they brought dinner and I chatted with my seat-mate, a very interesting, friendly middle-aged woman who, though American, has been a university professor in Paris for 25 years. She was well-kept and well-educated and very nice, but I think it’s safe to say I didn’t need to worry about the garlic. We talked for probably longer than either of us had intended to or even really been interested in, and then she apologised and said she wanted to get some sleep, and I put on a movie. (Fortunately The Help, movie version, is showing on the way back to the US, so I can still watch it . . . but after I finish the book.)

When the movie I did watch concluded, there was only about another hour of flight-time left, and it was only 11 p.m. according to my body-clock. Supposedly. I wholeheartedly believe that the whole taking off and landing process ages people, and I feel like even a short flight to a place in the same time zone has the potential to make you feel jetlagged because of that, so maybe I didn’t quite feel like I do if Paul and I watch Dr. Who episodes or Harry Potter movies until too late at night. But neither did I feel like I was desperate for sleep.

In the meantime, it was morning in the place I was about to land. Granted, it was earlier than I normally like to get up (particularly post-Starbucks-baristadom), but there was no point in trying to go to sleep now. I got in a flying tube in the evening, and got out in the morning, and the entire span of time during which one normally sleeps just poofed right out of existence. I don’t remember ever feeling like a span of time had just not existed before. I’ve felt time was mixed up, sure, but not just . . . gone.

I do remember feeling this tired, though. In another strange rearrangement of time, my parents and I are celebrating Christmas together tonight. I suspect (besides the fact that we didn’t get to in 2011), this is part of their nefarious plot to keep me awake until at least 8 p.m. GMT, but honestly? I’m not sure that even with the incentive of presents, I’m going to make it . . .

Letters from the Airport

Dear Logan Airport,

Free Wi-Fi? Congratulations on becoming my new favourite airport. Even though your international departure terminal has all the ambiance of an underground public toilet facility. Though less smelly. Fortunately.
Dear As-Yet-Unknown Person Next to Whom I Will Be Sitting on the Plane,

Speaking of smelly: I apologise. I had no idea, when I took it out of Paul’s fridge, that his leftover pasta dish which I wished to eat for lunch had full cloves of roasted garlic in it. Paul is not quite as fond of me when I have eaten garlic, so I can only imagine how you’re going to feel about it, although I have no intention of kissing you, no matter who you are. Let’s get this out now. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

Dear Jennwith2ns (i.e., Self),

Although you are accustomed to flying all over the world without access to a phone, you now have a phone which might be expected at least to text internationally, so bringing a charger cable probably would have been a good idea.

Dear Airport Food Service Options,

Why are there never dollar menus? And Starbucks, as a former employee, I am well aware that airport Starbucks are not “real” Starbucks and do not take my Starbucks card, but would it really be that difficult to arrange things so that they would? No one has ever been happy about this scenario.

Dear Airport Security,

Paul suggests that, if the body scan is really necessary, I should request my semiannual post-cancer mammogram at the same time. Why not? Might as well get my money’s worth. What do you think? Can you check for the presence of cancer while you look for nail files I might have forgotten to take out of my pockets?

Dear Medical-Type Science-Type Guy Talking on Cell Phone While Also Waiting for a Plane,

Did you just say “sputum”? Now you’re talking about trials and tubes of blood. “Yeah, the blood is a different story, so you double-check.” Should I be worried? What are you doing?

Dear The Readership,

I’m going to visit my parents in Ireland. Did you know my parents live in Ireland? There might be one drop of Irish blood per each of us (unusual for New Englanders), but they’ve been there for something like seven years, and they might be returning to the US for good this summer. I wanted to get back there at least one more time–plus I want to visit Belfast, having visited Dublin. That way, the next time someone asks me how many countries I’ve been to, I can add another one to my list. This was our post-Christmas Christmas celebration plan even before Paul became The Boyfriend, and I kind of wish he could come along. But he’s saving vacation for a honeymoon, and Mom and I can work on wedding stuff even though the wedding will be happening back home. I suspect this trip will be different from some of my other ones. I’m going to miss Paul, but at the same time I’m looking forward to some international travel. It’s been a while. See you soon!

Happy New Year!

It’s kind of weird to think that this time last year I was still on my old blog and I had not yet crashed my car, or gotten to visit the Brofam in their current Midwestern home yet, or gone to the Newport Folk Festival, or met Paul, or even started the Matchmaker’s prescribed dating plan, mostly because I had only just met the Matchmaker. I had cleaned up Oscar’s mess to end all messes, but we won’t talk about that too much.

Paul and I went to and watched the latest Mission Impossible movie yesterday afternoon and then basically blobbed out in front of the TV all evening, but it was relaxing and way better than getting stuck in Spaghetti Land at midnight on the first day of the year. Tonight there was a New Year’s Day party for the Youth Group at church. You never really know who’s going to turn up to youth group these days–it seems like usually the kids who say they will come, don’t, and those who say they can’t, show up. Although that’s not true across the board either. It’s just basically a toss-up. Tonight we had three guys who are in a band show up who haven’t been to youth group in over a year, and it was great to see them; unfortunately, they came to play a set, too, and they had an audience of six, three of whom were adults.

But . . . well, I don’t know about the kids, but I kind of had fun. We had a nice spread of food, ate well, everyone talked to everyone, the music was great . . . I made a poster on which everyone could write something they were hoping or praying for about 2012, and I’m going to post it in my office with the intent of praying about those things. Let’s hope I actually do it; my prayer intentions are always better than the actual follow-through. If I were going to make a New Year’s Resolution (which I’m not), it would be to make my prayers more intentional and consistent. We’ll see. Last year I made a non-resolution to be dating someone with a view to marriage by now; summer came and I had forgotten all about it, until in September or October or something my dad reminded me of this, with a wink toward Paul.

Anyway, at the end of this evening with the teens, we each got into groups of two (or, in the case of us adults, three), and each took a segment of the Lord’s Prayer. We paraphrased it and put it together as our prayer in this new year. I’m not entirely sure what everybody was thinking in their paraphrase (particularly the treatment of “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” but I think it was probably a good exercise anyway, so here, unedited, is what we prayed:

God who is in heaven
May your name be worshipped
Your shelter arrives
You will be judged on earth as you are in heaven
Today, give us your support
And we will forgive
As we have been forgiven
Help us make good choices
And protect us from bad stuff like peer pressure and laziness,
Because we belong to you
And you are powerful and awesome and always will be.

You could pray for us, too. And we could pray for you. Happy New Year!