I finish my undergraduate degree tomorrow.
After eighteen years of schooling (hey, I’m counting kindergarten), it all comes down to a two-hour exam covering the last term of a subject I realized too late I wasn’t entirely passionate about. I really hope I pass.
For a little while now, people have been asking me, “How does it feel to be almost done? Are you ready?” My answer has been an unequivocal, “Oh God, yes, get me out of here, I’m done.”
See, for the last year, my heart and mind have been elsewhere. I have a job. I have this writing thing. Never one to have a single posse, I have friends and associates from various spheres of my life, most of which do not involve school. I’m done. I came to the classes, and I learned stuff about history, and I learned to write essays the way people at Black Creek learn their trades.
But then, last night, as I looked at a map to figure out where this exam actually is, a twinge of wistfulness startled me. My four years at university were not necessarily the idealized vision of ivy, uni jackets, and tree-lined footpaths. But they were, on the whole, good. I have been accused of being the “most nostalgic person ever” (with good reason), but still – there’s a certain safety in the university years. There’s the safety of venerable buildings and terrible food, readings and registrars, midnight baking and those very deep, profound conversations that happen in the wee hours of the morning.
University is, I think, about potential. These four years have all been about potential. Even the ubiquitous question “And what will you do with that degree?” is based on possibility. What would you like to do? What do you dream of doing? What do you imagine beyond the walls of this quad? Possibility is intoxicating. And so, I see, somewhat, why schooling acquires such a golden haze in retrospect: students can peer over the cliff and glimpse the lands beyond, but no one’s asking them to climb down among the rocks just yet.
Except, now, it’s time. I’m still done. I’m still more-or-less burned out, academically. I’m still aching to reclaim those hours spent studying and attending class and put them towards things I want to do: writing my own work, podcasting, reading for my own pleasure and self-education.
Maybe I realize a little better now that for the next chapter to begin, this one must close. We’re students our whole lives, but it won’t ever be quite this way again. I have learned a lot here. Not just about medieval kings and queens and Victorian imperialism, but about myself. And that’s kind of the point of your teens and twenties, isn’t it? Figuring out how you want to scale that cliff, what kind of person you want to be, what kind of relationships you want with other people. This year especially – well, it’s been an education.
It’s been a good run. But now – it’s time to go.
PS. NEWS AND THINGS
I’ve been meaning to announce this for a loooong time, but, well, school and life exploding.
Nominations for the Parsec Awards in Podcasting are open. If you enjoyed Hapax-the-Podcast, please consider nominating it for an award – the form is here.
If you enjoyed Hapax-the-Novel, please consider leaving a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or Chapters. I cannot stress enough how important this is. Every review helps, every link you post helps, every person you tell earns a high-five from me the next time I see you. Thank you – it really does mean the world to me!
I saw something like this, somewhere. I don’t recall where, now, but I thought it’d be fun (or at least, interesting) to chronicle my progress as I beat this paper into submission. Due to a combination of an even bigger paper, Ad Astra, and exams, this paper basically needs to get written today. Preferably before 10:00 pm.
7:36 am – Crawl out of bed. I’ve been semi-conscious for about an hour, having spent most of the night tossing and turning and dreaming of far too many people demanding beer tastings.
9:17 am – Apparently checking library hours would’ve been a good thing. My usual haunt doesn’t open for another hour, so I’ve relocated. I’m ok with that. Thanks to my ability to bike one-handed, I have a travel mug of coffee at my left. There’s no outlet nearby, so we’re going on battery power. And the essay starts now.
10:41 am – We’ve relocated again, as my usual library is now open and my battery died. Now I have a proper carrel and outlet. Essay is approximately 1.5 pages long…I got distracted by reading the news, and also by a friend’s editing job that seemed much more interesting and pressing than St. John.
11:11 am – I wish I could be done this essay.
12:02 pm – Essay is four pages long and has two pretty pictures. In one of nature’s cruel jokes, I feel both low-blood-sugar-y and nauseous. I need to eat, but I can think of only a few things less appealing right now. Braving the dining hall to see if I can stomach anything.
12:20 pm – An English muffin and hot chocolate with a side of awkwardness. Awesome. So glad to know I’m putting my few remaining free meals to good use. In other news, I think my stomach hates me. Oh well. Back to St. John.
12:27 pm – Screw it. My body really hates me. Calling a short break to mindlessly surf the web and wait for it to stop this nonsense.
3:06 pm – Closing in on 8 pages done. This is the first time in my university career that I have included pictures in an essay, and I like it. However, I am thirsty.
3:38 pm – The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Going home to rest. Will resume soon.
5:40 pm – I slept. There was also dinner. Bracing myself for another attack.
8:07 pm – Ok, so I got distracted. BUT I AM WRITING THE CONCLUSION NOW. FEAR ME, ESSAY! (Side note: Saint John is the patron saint of theologians, writers, and people at risk of burns. I am sometimes all of these things, so he’s totally got my back on this. Right?)
8:19 pm – DONE THE CONCLUSION. But…I still need a bibliography.
8:43 pm – DONE DONE I AM DONE!!! At 3661 words, four pictures, and 52 footnotes, we are done! Haha! Now I only have one giant paper to go!
But first…baking pretzels!
Unlike winter, essay season seems to come earlier every year. A list of topics goes up. The request for a thesis and outline goes out.
And of course, there’s a rush on the libraries.
Over the last 3.5 years, I’ve had ample opportunity to observe different strategies to the “research” part of the research paper. Now, I’m not talking about whether you use notecards or looseleaf; obsessively note page numbers or look them up later.
I’m talking about procuring sources.
Sources are currency. Sources are power. Sources are the security blanket that lets me sleep at night.
There are several types of student essay-writers. Let’s look at a few.
Style: Start early. Clear shelves before other people even have a topic. Hoard books like a squirrel hoards nuts, because if you leave it too long, everyone else will steal your books and you’ll have nothing left to use.
Traits: Twitchiness, anxiety, slight hunchback or raised shoulder from carting heaps of books.
Worst Fear: “Item due back: April 8”
Style: Automatically set catalogue filters to “online resources.” Read books, journals, primary sources without ever leaving the comfort of your room or carrel.
Traits: Blurred vision, headache, aversion to smell of old books.
Worst Fear: “Access Denied.”
Style: Seek out the really old, really rare books that can’t be taken out. Set up camp in library, lifting brittle pages late into the night. Don’t come out until research is done/essay complete.
Traits: Dust-covered fingers, keyboard marks on face, vague feelings of pride and loneliness.
Worst Fear: “The library will be closed the weekend of….”
The One-Hit Wonder
Style: Find one book. A real book. Probably the authoritative book on your subject. Read that one book. Quote that one book throughout. Have a list of vaguely related articles from which you occasionally cite a sentence or two in order to meet bibliography requirements.
Traits: Smug grin, skill at mental gymnastics.
Worst Fear: “Plan to devote considerable attention to the historiography…”
Style: Between databases and rare collections, come up with mostly primary sources. Not only mostly primary sources, but mostly random, obscure, hard-to-categorize primary sources. Pamphlets with no real publication information. Oral interviews. Third English Editions of a translated passage of a primary source in an electronic book currently in its second edition in the original French.
Traits: Half-bald from pulling hair out, sore teeth and jaw from constant clenching, a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style lying in a broken heap in the corner.
Worst Fear: The correct/recognized way to cite your source simply does not exist.
Style: Read the Wikipedia article. Track down and use their footnotes. Done.
Traits: A mix of confidence and desperation, tendency to lose hours to following the Jacob’s Ladder of Wiki-links.
Worst Fear: The prof edited Wikipedia.
There are more, I’m sure, but…I need to return to my stacks upon stacks of books. 😉
What’s the hardest part of writing?
Is it coming up with ideas? Is it thrashing out a plot? Getting to know your characters? Sitting down to write the thing? Editing? Peeking through your fingers at the edits? Hitting the send button?
Well, everyone’s different. For me, the hardest part of writing is the time between sending a piece off and hearing back. That dead space when I know the other person has it, but I don’t know
- What they think.
- If they’ve read it.
It’s awkward. You’re dying to know, and you have to wait: whether it’s an agent, an editor, an actor, a beta, or even your mom. Patience—I work on the deep breaths.
Because there isn’t all that much you can do, other than wait. Two days ago, I had five separate pieces in various people’s hands. By yesterday, I’d heard back on two (both good news, incidentally, but I’ll leave that for another post). As for the other three…I know two will take a long time, and I’m not expecting to hear anything for a while. The other…I just don’t know.
As hard as it is, don’t obsess. Put it out of your mind. Work on something else.
(All of the above are things I keep telling myself.)
Turns out I’m still in school, and for the first time, I have a bit of breathing space with the writing/podcasting. This dead space is a great time to actually make some progress on this, my last round of essays. I’ve also really enjoyed my forays into short fiction. Keep busy, keep doing things. Don’t stop just because you’re no longer clasping the piece in question to your chest.
It’s also a matter of sensitivity, I think. Hopefully, when you give people things to read, you have an idea of what else is going on in their lives. If it’s a friend, hopefully you know when they’re in the midst of essays, or when they have a flurry of work. If it’s an agent or editor, you can assume they’re juggling many different projects at once. When it’s time, your turn will come. But you’re not the most important thing.
These are good skills to cultivate in general. Patience. Perspective. (p)Sensitivity. I keep coming back to my favourite lesson learned in New Zealand:
I guess we’ll find out.
I need to get that put on a bumper sticker or something. Although, since I don’t drive, it might be kind of pointless. A fender sticker, maybe?
I need more coffee.
For a while, I thought about not doing a New Year’s post.
With my loss still so raw, and the grief only now really hitting, I have rarely been happier to see the tail end of a year. Except then, I got to thinking. Taking the entire year into account, 2012 was too big to be ignored. It was a year of immense growth and opportunity: from backpacking through the South Pacific, to meeting (and befriending!) some pretty incredible people, to strengthening friendships back home, to publishing and podcasting, to discovering where “home” really is for me.
Like I said, a big year.
It was a year of heights, of suddenly finding myself on mountaintops (literally and metaphorically) and wondering how on earth I’d gotten there. There was a LOT of good in 2012. It’s important to remember that: that oftentimes, I was stunned by how happy I was.
2012 started with a bang, but it definitely ends with a whimper. Some of my personal dreams came true this year, but so too did some of my nightmares. I had tears in my eyes as I stood atop Mt. Victoria and finally gazed across Wellington. I had tears in my eyes as I stood in the cemetery.
From one extreme to the other.
But it’s no longer 2012. My Twitter-pal (and one of the charming hosts of the Roundtable Podcast) Dave Robison recently said something about New Year’s being just another day, that we can make changes any day of the year.
It’s true, but I think the start of the year is a good time to take a breath, to mentally prepare for those changes and plans.
2012 was a great year, writing-wise. I’m optimistic 2013 will be even better. Frankly, I have a better idea of what I’m doing. Graduating means I’ll have more time (as was helpfully pointed out to me, my “day job” will really be just that—something on the side, a daytime diversion as I put my energy into writing). Oh man, when I think of all those hours spent reading articles, going to class, and writing essays…I’m so excited to put that time into fiction.
As I start putting the shambles of my life back in order, and figure out how to live around this huge, gaping hole, I’m more grateful than ever for what I have. I have some pretty awesome people in all parts of my life. Tired and sad as I am, I’m actually kind of cautiously hopeful for 2013. It feels like 2012 was a build-up, December was a breaking point, and 2013…
Well. I guess we’ll find out.
If nothing else, the past year has been a lesson in time management.
Managing time effectively isn’t really new to me. The difference is that, for the past seventeen years, school has always been Priority No. 1. It made things easy: school came first, and everything else just kind of fell into place around it.
Not so this year. The three major demands on my time (school, dayjob, writing/podcasting) all duked it out for the top spot, all demanding about the same level of attention and importance. This isn’t a unique situation. Heaps of people have families, jobs, school, and writing. There are tons of writers who wear many different hats. So how do you balance it all?
I’m still trying to figure this out. But I’ve discovered a few things.
Accept that your list of priorities is constantly updating itself.
Just because school isn’t always the top spot doesn’t mean that it never is. Right now, with my exams less than a week away, studying is taking precedence over The Next One, which I’m aiming to finish rewriting by early January. However, I work tomorrow night, which means that I have to upload Hapax-the-Podcast tonight, which means that this morning, finishing up Chapter 17 took precedence over studying.
Everything gets attention. The trick is figuring out what needs the most attention when.
Cut back where you can.
This can be hard, because often, the non-essential things are fun. And you don’t want to cut back too much, because the non-essential things help keep you sane. That being said, an “I’ll do it if I can” attitude helps. I liked choir…but I don’t get paid, I don’t pay them tuition, and there are plenty of other sopranos. Although I like singing, the consequences of putting it on the chopping block are relatively small.
Have some firm expectations.
I need to produce one podcast episode a week. End of story. It needs to go out. While in New Zealand, I was so homesick (and jobless) that I promised myself I would just never refuse a call from work. End of story. I get the call, I hop on the subway.
This goes back to the updating priority list. In a way, though, it’s easier to plan around certain immutable things. Knowing I need to upload a chapter by Sunday at 12:01 am makes it easier to schedule my week. Likewise, it’s a lot easier to simply assume I’ll be working particular days, and then treat non-calls as bonus time, than it is to pray I won’t get called in.
Ask for help.
My professors this term were amazing. I am so incredibly grateful that they were as understanding as they were. Every one of them was so supportive of my literary endeavours. Professors and bosses are people, too. Simply explaining the situation and asking for advice/consideration can go a long way towards easing the strain.
Accept that you will be tired.
But when you’re juggling this much, you will be tired. Even when you have time to socialize, you may need to sleep instead. It does suck. Let’s be honest—watching audio playback march across your screen at 3:00 a.m. isn’t fun. Forcing your eyes to stay open as you do your readings on the commute to work is kind of miserable. But sometimes, it’s necessary. Knowing that upfront makes it a lot easier to accept.
Besides, it’s not like you’ll never sleep again.
And that would more-or-less be how I survived this term. Next term, I won’t work, and I won’t be producing a podcast episode every week, but I will have a full courseload and ongoing writing stuff. Will it be the same kind of juggling act?
I guess we’ll find out.
So, I’m twenty-one today.
No big deal.
This is certainly one of the more…interesting birthdays I’ve had. As I type this, it’s actually five days before my birthday. I’m sitting in a hostel in Picton, NZ, taking advantage of free Wi-Fi to write this post in advance. When it actually goes out, I’ll be in Fiji, having spent most of my actual birthday on a plane.
As much fun as it is to look ahead, birthdays are also a good time to look back on the past year. When I turned nineteen, I mostly remember being excited to turn twenty, because it seemed like it would be a big year.
It certainly was.
I found a home.
This was the year I moved out of res, and into my own place. I love my house. I can’t repeat that enough. I love my house, and I had two of the best roommates ever. Pranks, adventures in Christmas tree decoration, James Bond, Donkey Kong, extravagant cooking, a spare room (that is huge for student housing – we had so much space, there was an entire room we didn’t know what to do with)… I’m the kind of person who needs a safe place to come home to every day. This was the year I found it.
I found a job.
In May, 2011, I was kicking myself. I had decided not to return to my summer job as a camp counsellor, but I couldn’t find another job to replace it. Thankfully, my uncle offered to take me on at his restaurant.
Then I got the call.
I had applied to be a Theatre Programmer at Black Creek Pioneer Village, but had assumed I hadn’t gotten it. Turns out their timelines were different than I expected. I was in.
Oh. My. God. Best. Job. Ever.
I spent last summer running around as Peter Pan and Anne of Green Gables, while working at the restaurant on my days “off.” The people, the history, the actual work itself… I loved it so much that at the end of the summer, when my contract expired, I went to my boss and said something along the lines of, “I love it here. Can I please stay?”
She said yes.
While I’m in school, I can only work on-call through the fall and winter. But that’s ok. I found more than a job, I found a happy place. What’s more…
I found my groove.
I admit: I suck at the work-life balance thing. Through the fall, I was working two jobs, attending choir and Quidditch practices, and taking a full courseload. I was sleeping maybe five or six hours a night. Often, the only social time I got was during two-server shifts at the restaurant, or on long bus rides home from Black Creek.
But I was so happy. I was so, so happy.
I might not have seen them much, but between my roommates, my uni friends, my choir ladies, and my coworkers at both jobs, I had good people in my life. I was exhausted, and stressed, and oh-so-slightly burnt out, but I hadn’t felt so good in years.
I found a publisher.
In November, I had the idea of podcasting Hapax. After all, I had six weeks between my last exam and my flight to New Zealand – what else was I supposed to do? In December, I heard that Dragon Moon Press was holding an open submission period. I hemmed and hawed, and finally submitted Hapax on Christmas Eve. I didn’t tell my voice cast until the request for the full. Even then, I cautioned them, “It’s a nice ego boost, but probably nothing will happen.”
They liked it. They wanted to publish it. When I first read the email, I had been battling a stubborn cold, and was so sick, and so drugged up with cold medicine, I couldn’t be entirely sure it wasn’t all a Nyquil-induced dream.
After a flurry of emails and phone calls, I spent two hours walking around and around Trinity Bellwoods Park, trying to process it. Six months on, and I sometimes still have difficulty believing it.
I found an adventure.
But I couldn’t just stay in Toronto forever, playing with podcasts while my friends went to school. In February, I flew to Dunedin for a six month stay in the Land of the Long White Cloud. I’d planned this trip for a ridiculously long time, but all the planning in the world doesn’t really prepare you for life in a new country. It’s been detailed on this blog, but let me say – it’s exceeded my expectations in almost every way.
Otago was fun, but it was time for me to see the rest of the country. The South Pacific is a big place, and I’m so excited to be exploring the edge of the map.
And… that was my twentieth year. My thanks to all of you who made it so special.
After four months, it’s time to say goodbye to Dunedin, and explore the rest of New Zealand and the wider South Pacific. My term at Otago has been unlike anything I could have imagined. I’m highly impressed that all of my profs learned my name (it was also slightly unsettling… I hadn’t realized how accustomed I’d grown to the anonymity of U of T). I’m far more grateful for U of T’s resources. I like that Otago gives exam topics/questions in advance. I learned that I really, really like the bike lanes and public transit around the St. George campus in Toronto.
But I think I’ll present an overview of the past four months in the form of a list. Here is… Dunedin by the numbers.
1.70 – Price of a Learner’s Cone at the Rob Roy Dairy
60 –Estimated average age of the jazz quartet that plays the Robbie Burns pub
4 – Ascents up Baldwin St (incidentally, the steepest street in the world)
3 – Expeditions out to the peninsula
240 – Minutes of walking before we gave up and accepted that we were stranded on the peninsula
2 – Shots of espresso in a Long Black
3 – Sandman books in the Dunedin Public Library’s collection (that I found and borrowed, anyway)
0 – Times I got bored of seeing the Southern Cross
5 – Classes this term
4 – Bank branches guaranteed not to eat my card
90-120 – Minutes spent in the Good Earth Café every Café Sunday
3 –Photo requests from friends back home
2- Photo requests accomplished thus far.
(Lost Count) – Times I’ve nearly been run over
5:30 – Awakening for the ANZAC Day Dawn Service
3 –Nationalities living under one roof
1 – Ring to Rule Them All
1000 – Highest I can count in Māori
18 – Recommended inside temperature in degrees Celsius, according to NZ Health
6 – The actual temperature in our kitchen
9000 – Words written for essays
1 – Wild penguin sighting
16 – Most books I ever had out from the library at one time
251 – Pokémon officially recognized in this flat (sorry, but if it came after GSC, it doesn’t exist to me)
182 – Approximate age of a wonderfully massive and craggy tree in the Botanic Gardens
(Too high to count) – Times the creepy robotic self-checkout kiosk voice has chirpily reminded me to “Please place item in the bagging area!”
15 + – Weeks to switch my instinctive “default” from right to left
4 – Amazing, challenging, wonderful months
Thanks, Dunedin. Let me summon my very best Māori and say “Ka roto koe i taku ngākau, e noho ana.”
You’ll always have a place in my heart.
Last term, I met a Dunedinite who was on exchange to U of T. Our meeting wasn’t arranged or anything: we just happened to be in the same history class, and we just happened to be sitting near each other when the prof said, “Discuss amongst yourselves.” From her accent, I was 99% sure she was from New Zealand, but the remaining 1% of doubt made me keep my mouth shut – mistaking New Zealanders and Australians is not entirely unlike mixing up Canadians and Americans. No one really minds, but you’re better off not doing it.
Luckily, she mentioned Otago, and the rest is history.
Literally. We hung out a few times over the course of the term, including an expedition to Black Creek for a dose of Canadian history. When the term ended, it wasn’t sad, because we would both be in Dunedin in two months or so. In fact, I had one of her suitcases to take down with me, and she promised to pick me up from the airport.
I mentioned in one of the early posts how nice it was to have a friendly face waiting at the airport. Again, then: SO NICE. Much the same pattern continued this term: we bumped into each other every so often, had coffee a few times, and then, for some New Zealand history, went to Olveston House.
Olveston is a large, early-twentieth century house that’s been preserved as a historic site. It’s essentially Downton Abbey’s baby brother. We were the only ones on our tour, which was awesome, because we could ask all sorts of questions throughout. The turn-of-the-century is a really cool period, because there’s still a strong Victorian undercurrent running through everything, yet it also seems so modern.
I mean, Olveston House was equipped with all the latest technology when it was built, but still. The kitchen had a “Frigidaire,” custom-made in Ohio so that it could handle the funny NZ plugs. There was an in-house telephone system. A gramophone. A car in the garage outside.
And yet – the bread board in the kitchen was identical to the one in Second House at BCPV. The library and dining room were undeniably Victorian: darkly wallpapered, and bedecked with little ornaments. Gas lamps coexisted peaceably with electric lighting (the guide assured us that the fixtures were the originals).
“The lamps look just like ours!” I hissed to Sarah as we followed the guide into the butler’s pantry.
She hesitated. “The ones at Black Creek, you mean?”
I had to laugh. “Yeah.”
How I wish I had my own gas lamps…
All too soon, it was over. Knowing that this was the last time made it very, very hard to close the car door, wave goodbye, and step into my flat. Skype, Facebook, and email are great ways to stay in touch, I don’t deny that, but…
But it’s sad. Unlike last time, there is no, “Ok, meet you on the other side.” I’ve been lucky with the people I’ve met down here. Yes, I am “the most nostalgic person ever.” And yes, I’m well aware of the irony here, considering how homesick I got in April.
So, I’ve decided not to say goodbye. Instead, my New Zealand friends (and my American friends), get a “see you later.”
Hey, you never know.
I know I typically post towards the end of the week, but I did have a few things I wanted to discuss.
I now have all four of my essays back. Three of the four went as expected, and I was happy. Perhaps I got complacent. Actually, I did get complacent, because the last one absolutely blindsided me.
I passed, but it’s a great deal lower than the marks I usually get, and I’m not pleased. For those who know me well, this is (for once) not a case of my having ridiculously high standards. Trust me, you would not be pleased either.
So: shock, and if I’m being honest, some anger. And as long as I am being completely honest, my first instinct was to snap, to rave, and vent.
But I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m taking a second, sober look, and I think that, in this case, the principle of “Pick Your Battles” applies.
This was not the most amazing piece of academic writing I have ever produced. The others weren’t my best either, but they were still better. However… I’m on exchange. Yes, it is called Study Abroad for a reason, but realistically, I’m here just as much for the learning outside the classroom. I can learn history anywhere. There are some things about myself, and about life, that I can only learn in New Zealand. Presumably for this reason, every class I take here is judged at home on a pass/fail basis. As long as I pass, I get the credit, but the mark will never, ever show up on my University of Toronto transcript, and does not factor into my GPA.
So really, it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter. I’m not saying that in a nihilistic way, but rather in a “it is not particularly relevant to my ultimate goals” kind of way. When I’ve cooled off, I’ll see if there’s anything I can learn from the comments, but otherwise, getting upset over a paper that will not affect my GPA or my grad school prospects seems like a waste of energy.
Moreover, it reminds me that the time is coming when I’ll be looking at reviews, which is the other reason why I am choosing to let this go. When I get my first negative review, am I going to rant? No, of course not. I don’t want to be That Person. Again, this is training to Pick Your Battles.
The “good” thing about rejection, bad reviews, and bad essays is that you can usually learn something from them. But if not… then perhaps a bit of perspective helps. One bad review in a heap of good ones loses some of its bite. One bad essay in three years of university looks less like an indictment of my academic skills and more like a bump in the road. And when I think about all the things I’ve done and seen in New Zealand… I know that those experiences are far more valuable to me as a person than one more A would be.
As I mentioned earlier, I do set high standards for myself. I want to do well. I want to write well, and tell good stories, and perform good history. But when things don’t go as I’d hoped… well, then I simply ask for the ability to handle them with grace and dignity.